Thursday, September 20, 2012

7 Tools Book Club: Leadership and Communication

The Question
You know when people ask you, "What do you do?"

You may have been a rocket scientist, or maybe a teacher, or an Army nurse practitioner like me.

But now you are mom.  Does anyone say just, "I'm a mom" when they answer that question?  I try to, but it's hard to end it there and not try to qualify it with..."I'm a homeschool mom."  Or, "I'm retired from the Army."  Or, whatever.

The Answer
Years ago, long before I had kids, my very capable, intelligent friend who was also an Army nurse, and had 2 or 3 small children, replied to the above question with an answer that I thought was brilliant, "I'm raising the next generation of leaders."  Period.  No explanation.  She never mentioned she was an esteemed captain in the United States Army. 

I loved her answer.

Do you?  Here's what Zan says in her book:
"We want our homes to be effective, intensive leadership training centers."  (pg. 181)

The Pelsers 7 Tools Book Club

What is leadership? 
"Taking initiative to use your gifts to influence the world, improve and empower the lives of others, and bring glory to God in the process." (pg. 175)
King Belshazzar was King Nebuchadnezzar's successor and when mysterious finger's of a man's hand began writing on the wall of the king's palace, Belshazzar was scared to death.  He summoned Daniel when none of his wise men could interpret the writing.  Daniel read it and gave the bad news to the king.

Here are Daniel's leadership qualities according to Zan (pg. 177-178):
  • had the spirit of the holy gods in him
  • he was smart
  • he used his intelligence to help others
  • his character was sterling
  • he exhibited great courage and faith in the midst of adversity
  • he openly acknowledged God and gave Him the glory for his success
What was the secret to Daniel's success?
  • saying "no" to temptation
  • he had knowledge and wisdom in every kind of literature and wisdom
  • he prayed and sought God
  • demonstrated respect and discernment in dealing with others
  • he was levelheaded
  • he served those around him
Daniel's life makes an excellent study in leadership.  We want our kids to dare to be like Daniel.  Our homes are their training centers. 

Leadership does not need to focus in the political realm.  It should be focused on where our kids' gifts are...on where their bent is (like she said in the first chapter). 

What about Communication?
Zan's mention of the importance of good communication is brief. 

The bottom line?  "Children who grow up in families who communicate well will usually be good communicators."  They learn from observing you communicate with them. 

I have two things to say about that. 
  1. Make sure your children are comfortable speaking in public!  There is a Toastmasters program for children, there are numerous speech and debate clubs for homeschoolers, and the Boy Scouts have public speaking requirements to complete.  All are superb ways to learn and/or enhance public speaking skills.
  2. Good communication can trump other assets such as stellar grades.  Here is one example of why I say that.  
 A few years ago my husband attended a conference with influential American leaders, both military and civilian.  One of the attendees was a CEO of a large, powerful business.  This man told my husband that he hires the well-rounded college graduates with good communication skills who get along well with others who may, or may not, have top grades.  He said these people are masters at interacting with others and they will in turn hire the straight A students to do the math and technology work that needs to be done.  The straight A students work for the good communicators. 

How do you develop leadership and communication skills
 in your children?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

7 Tools Book Club: World View, Dicipleship & Academics

It's true.  I'm trying to catch up on my 7 Tools Book Club posts, so I'm combining a few chapters in one post.  

Really, I don't have to post on them at all but, by going back through the book to put my thoughts in writing, it helps me gain so much from the book.   If you are reading a book like this, I encourage you to write a synopsis of each chapter if you aren't already.

The Pelsers 7 Tools Book Club

Chapter 5:  Developing a Biblical World View
"World view gives focus and direction.  When we teach our children to view all of life through the lens of Scripture, we are giving them a priceless gift in today's secular, postmodern society." (pg. 104-105)  A biblical worldview serves as a compass for us to find our way and stay on that course. (pg. 107)

Children need to understand the implications of Christianity in their daily lives and that it's relevant in everything they do, from playing soccer on a team to the job they have as adults.  They need to know that each of them serve God by doing their work well and using their hobbies and gifts to help shape the world.  We were made in God's image and that's what He didHe made the world and it was good.  I had to explain this (again) to my son who was deviating from serving God on the soccer field by not showing proper respect to the referee.  What he does on the soccer field is relevant to the rest of his life. 

Recently I put this quote from the 7 Tools book on our family's white board in response to a question that my husband posed about why our family homeschools.
"Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore lay Christ at the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning."  (pg.  119)  This quote was from  Harvard's 1646 ""Rules and Precepts." 
 How do we teach our children worldview?  Zan recommends the What We Believe series from Apologia (for ages 6-14), and the Thinking Like a Christian curriculum for parents and high school students (pg. 119).  I didn't read this until after I ordered my curriculum and I'm using the What We Believe series for my younger kids this year and the I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist curriculum for (myself) and my high schoolers.  

Chapter 6:  Building Character Through Discipleship
 I'm not sure if more needs to be said than what Zan said at the beginning of this chapter:
"This is the heart of  discipleship- helping our children reach the point in their lives where they are concerned first and foremost with what their heavenly Father thinks, and as a result are trying to please Him in all that they think, say and do."  (pg. 126-127)
Remembering God.  Zan writes that God wants us to remember Him and on page 132 she gives scripture verses/admonitions that she recommends we share with our children about remembering God in our daily lives.
  • Deut 7:18  "...remember what the Lord your God did..."
  • Deut 8:18  "Remember His wonderful deeds..."
  • Neh 4:14  "...remember the Lord who is great and awesome..."
  • Eccl 12:1  "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth..."  (My husband graduated from the Citadel in South Carolina, and this verse was posted plainly for all of the cadets to see.)

What's important to God?  Two things:  loving God and loving your neighbor.
  •  Loving God.  "He wants our undivided love and worship, and he will go to great lengths to secure both.  We need to teach our children how to "live in an attitude of worship"sacred activity or calling when we offer it to God and do it for His glory."  Even on the soccer field...ahem.   And, while we homeschool them...ahem.
  • Loving Your Neighbor.  Ways to do this include service, good manners and good behavior.  Our family has a small group ministry and one of the events we do with our group is serve at a local homeless shelter.  That is somehow easier for us than having good manners and good behaviors, especially within our family.  Zan gives me some grace regarding that by saying that we don't live in a perfect world and that misbehavior can be controlled but not completely prevented. 
         So, how do we do that?  Intentionally parent.  Pray.  Encourage.  Have a strong family unit. Homeschooling can contribute to a strong family unit.  (John Rosemond, in the article, "Living with Children")  pg. 147

Chapter 7:  Providing Stimulating Academics
I didn't really want to read this chapter.  Why not? Because I thought it was entirely possible that Zan intimate that I've been doing it all wrong for the past 13 years.  Until now in the book she hasn't been anything but encouraging, so my thoughts were certainly unfounded.  Nonetheless, that thought did enter my mind.

In reality, Zan continued to be an encouragement in this chapter too!

I loved how she defined academics:  the Bible, conversation, and oh....the occasional textbook! 

This past summer I sent my two high school boys to a week long camp to learn about the government.  Yes, gasp, in the summer!

Before they left for the camp they had to complete some assignments (yes, in the summer ...ugh) which included reading the U.S. Constitution and drafting two bills.

Knowing that there was complete lack of interest to comply (although not blatant)  I asked one of our friends, a retired Army Colonel lawyer, to help guide them (so they would "get er dun").

 I thought it would be less painful for my boys if someone explained the process who was, ya know, excited about those types of things.  Thankfully I was right.  Although they didn't finish the bills during their meeting with him, they came back excited about all of the stories he told them and they were ready to write.  It turns out that our friend had been an instructor at West Point- teaching Constitutional Law!  So, he gave my boys the assignment to write up their bills and send him their drafts so he could assess their work!  I think he was glad to have students again. 

Although my boys did NOT want to go to that camp for a week they returned totally stoked (excited) about their experience. During the week, they role-played being part of the government.  One of my boys was a congressman in the House of Representatives and the other was selected to be the Ambassador from Germany (we've lived there and he speaks German).  I think that was the best way for them to learn about our government. 

When I finish this inspiring book, I will have such a feeling of thankfulness and accomplishment, and also some sadness that it came to an end! 

What are some outside-the-box stimulating curriculum ideas you have or you've heard about?

Monday, September 3, 2012

PSAT, SAT, ACT Testing for Homeschoolers

Recently I asked my local homeschool group where homeschoolers take SAT/
ACT tests
.  The only people who replied on our email group also wanted to know, so I'm posting this information for others who are curious.

At the bottom of this post I listed the websites for SAT and ACT test dates, sites and registration.  You need to register on the site and then choose a test date and the site will prompt you to find a location.  The tests are offered at local high schools, so you pick where you want to take the test. 

The next SAT date is 6 October and the registration deadline is 7 Sep.  (You can register late for additional fees.)

BTW, PSAT/NMSQTs are on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 or Saturday, October 20, 2012.  My son is taking it at our local high school. I contacted the guidance counselor and arranged that.  He took them there last year too.  For students to qualify for National Merit Scholarship they need to take the PSAT as a junior.  

Read this for more info on PSAT:
Each year, over 1.4 million high school students take the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, also known as the PSAT. This test helps you prepare for the SAT while determining your eligibility for a National Merit Scholarship.
The PSAT offers you the chance to improve your test–taking skills with no negative consequences; your results will have no bearing on college admissions or your high school transcript. And if you do well, you could earn more than bragging rights – you could win money for college.

SAT and ACT test dates, sites and registration:

ACT test date and registration.

You can homeschool highschool. 
What questions do you have about homeschooling highschool?