Talking to Kids About Sex – Awkward Parenting Moments

I promise this isn’t going to be as awkward as it sounds. Or maybe it is, but that is kind of the point here. What am I blathering on about? Let me get straight to it.

For many parents, talking to their kids about sex is one of those uncomfortable subjects that fall into a “necessary evil” category sort of thing. For others, it is no big deal. I am somewhere in the middle of those two options. It is just not a natural conversation topic for me, but I know that I want to pass along a healthy, biblical view of sex to my kids. This mean I have to talk about it and with four kids, I guess I should get used to it sooner rather than later.

We have always been open with our children when it comes to talking about our bodies. We gave them the actual terms for their body parts, but also the general terms of private parts and bottom, and used those for the most part. They knew that those parts were private and we did have discussions about what they should do if someone tried to touch and/or talk to them about those parts.

With one exception, our youngest was given the term peepee for his penis because he is a very verbal boy and has been from a young age. This meant that his filter was utterly non-existent and he would randomly shout out words that he knew would make someone laugh because he is also a ham. With preteen kids, body parts were a sure success at this. Peepee made it a little less inappropriate (in my eyes) when this happened in public places.

And then someone gave him the right word and all bets were off. Now that novelty has worn off (thank heavens) and he only refers to it in matter-of-fact ways. Ironically, this cracks the preteens up even more. I can’t win.

Enough about us, I actually have a resource I want to talk to you about today.

Talk to Your Kids About Sex - It doesn't have to be awkward. There is a great resource available to help walk parents through a biblical way to tackle the subject with their kids.

Talking to Kids About Sex

I’ve written about, reviewed, and given away resources from Luke and Trisha Gilkerson of Intoxicated on Life here before. Heck, I even wrote for them for a while. I love their¬†resources and blog. This series is no different. They have written quite a lot about sex education on their blog, and now they have a trilogy of books to put resources in your hands to help you navigate this anxiety-inducing topic from a biblical perspective. Let’s all breathe a collective sigh of relief…whew.

I purchased their book called The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality earlier this year to use in our homeschool. When Trisha was looking to put together a team to launch the second book in the series called Changes: 7 Biblical Lessons to Make Sense of Puberty, I jumped at the chance to get this one for free. ūüėČ

The third book in the series is called Relationships: 7 Lessons to Give Kids a Greater Understanding of Biblical Sexuality and it will be available early 2016.

Let’s go over a bit of what is actually in these two books.

The Talk - Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality

The Talk

The seven lesson titles:

  1. God Made Them Male and Female
  2. Go Forth and Multiply
  3. Wonderfully Made
  4. The Two Shall Become One Flesh
  5. You Shall Not Commit Adultery
  6. Do Not Violate Me
  7. Bought With a Price

Each lesson gives you an opening thought, a section of scripture to read with an explanation of why it is relevant, a series of talking points to go over with your child, questions for your child, and concludes with a prayer. There are illustrations for things as well.

The ages recommended for this book are 6-10 years old. This may seem young to start this conversation, but if you take a while to look at our culture, you will see why parents need to start this conversation earlier these days. Our culture is more than willing to talk to kids about sex at any time.

Parents, if you want to be the first one to talk to your children about these topics, you need to be paying close attention and realize that this might need to happen sooner than you’d like. A bit more on my thoughts on this later.

Changes 735x1102

Changes

The second book contains these lessons:

  1. Just Like Jesus: Growing in Wisdom and Stature
  2. Puberty: Just One of Many Changes
  3. Hormones: The Catalyst of Change
  4. Girls and Boys: Changes We Can Both Expect
  5. Girl Changes: Becoming a Woman
  6. Boy Changes: Becoming a Man
  7. Changes in Desire: The Goodness of Sexual Attraction

The book follows the same format for each lesson as The Talk. The recommended ages are 8-12.

A Few Final Thoughts

These are fantastic resources for starting an ongoing conversation about sex with your kids. Each book also contains a section on what happens next. It gives you ideas for ways to continue the conversation you started.

When you get these books, pre-read them before diving in with your kids. This way you will not be caught off-guard about any of the subjects covered and it will give you a better idea of when you actually need to approach these subjects with your kids.

Luke and Trisha do a great job introducing parents to the material. A good chunk of the book covers some common questions and concerns a parent may have about starting this conversation so early with your children.

I’ll end this with a bit of advice, if you have both genders of children, you may want to consider going through these separately. Talking to preteen girls and boys at the same time may result in unnecessary awkwardness. Ask me how I know…

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Coupon Code! The Gilkerson’s have generously offered a coupon code for my lovely readers who decide to purchase these resources. You can save 10% on either Changes or the Sex Ed Series (which already gives you a $2 discount on the two books) with code – SV10. The code is only good through November 11, 2015. So hurry!

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Preparing for Homeschooling Middle School and Beyond

If it tells you anything about how much I was stressing over homeschooling beyond elementary school, I started this post in 2014. My oldest was entering 6th grade and I was kind of panicking because, well, middle school is right before high school and high school is slightly (very) intimidating to me.

At least, it was at the time. I’m not so much intimidated by it now. I’m pretty excited at the idea of walking through that with my kids. I still have time to research so I’m good. Ask me again in a year or so and let’s pray I’ll be the same…

Preparing for Homeschooling Middle School and Beyond

Preparing for Homeschooling Middle School Resources

I decided that since I found the thought of homeschooling middle school to be intimidating, others might be in the same boat. So today I am finally going to finish this post and give you a few resources that I am currently reading/using or have already read/used to help calm my fears.

1. The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens by Debra Bell

I was given this book at a conference in early 2014, right about the time it was hitting me that I was going to have a 6th grader and that 6th grade isn’t very far from 9th grade. I’m a planner by nature, I like to plan things out so I thought I should definitely have this book.

Imagine my surprise when open it up and realize that she had written a section on homeschooling middle school and it was just perfectly what I needed to read. I personally love Deb’s writing style. It is conversational without being overly wordy. Like talking to a friend who cares enough to give you what you need to know, with just enough personal stories to make you understand that she gets where you are coming from.

I’d recommend this book to anyone thinking about homeschooling beyond elementary school. It pairs nicely with The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling.

2. Lee Binz’s The HomeScholar

This is a website specifically meant to help you homeschool high school. Her blog is a great resource for answering any questions you may have about preparing for high school. I like it because there are things that haven’t even crossed my mind that are discussed.

3. Other Bloggers

Yes, there are other bloggers out there who are walking this homeschool middle school journey with me and there are also homeschool bloggers who are finished with this part and want to help other moms navigate it confidently. I appreciate that so much.

The Sunny Patch has a list of blogs that talk about homeschooling middle school. I’d recommend checking that list out to see if one fits your needs.

One that is mentioned on her list that I am finding very helpful is Education Possible. One of the writers for that blog also happens to be one of the bloggers I met while working on The Library Adventure. Small world on the interwebs, isn’t it?

Dollie has a great article called 7 Ways to Transition Your Homeschool Into Middle School that I recommend reading.

4. Pinterest

You knew this was coming, didn’t you? Pinterest is one of my favorite social media platforms. It is so much better than a bookmarks folder. But you knew that, right? (See also: Homeschooling Resources on Pinterest – Organized by Subject)

A couple resources regarding that:

That’s the list for now. I hope it helps you find some help with easing the anxiety of preparing to homeschool middle school. Now that I’m here (times two now!), it isn’t so bad. In fact, it can be quite fun!

Tips for Attending a Homeschool Convention

Tips for Attending a Homeschool Convention - Hint: Planning ahead is key!

Tis the season for homeschool convention registrations. There are lots of options: which homeschool convention, which sessions, which curriculum? It can be overwhelming, but let’s take a minute to calm those nerves. I’d like to share some tips for attending a homeschool convention with you today.

If you are wondering if you even need to attend one, check out the post I wrote called Should I Budget for a Homeschool Convention? I’ll give you a hint, I say yes.

Tips for Attending a Homeschool Convention

After my first homeschool convention, I wrote a post on how to prepare for a homeschool convention that highlighted three (albeit obvious) tips that I missed in my preparations. Don’t miss that.

Consider attending your state organization’s convention. First things first, I want you to seriously consider supporting your state organization’s homeschool convention, if they still have one. This is one of the most important things you can do to help protect your right to homeschool in your state.

Register early. The earlier you register for convention, the better the price will be. For example, right now you can register for the 2016 Teach Them Diligently conferences for only $45. The price at the door is $80. This is a huge savings when you consider how many workbooks, extra-curricular activities, or notebooks you can buy for that.

Think about logistics early. Is the convention close enough that you can drive in each day? Will you be able to attend every day that the conference is open? If you have to travel a decent distance, do you have family or friends in the area you can stay with?

You want to think about these things early so you can plan your budget and save the money you need. You want to have enough money for both your travel expenses and any curriculum purchases you might want to make, too.

Take snacks and water. Check the venue where you are attending to see about rules about what you can and can not carry in with you. You will likely want to have a snack and some water between sessions and curriculum hall browsing. If you take your kids, they will definitely want them.

Make a list and check it lots of times. Some lists to consider:

  • curriculum you want to check out for future years
  • curriculum, books, and other supplies that you would like to add to your homeschool
  • speakers you would like to hear

Seriously consider not taking the kids. I have done both, taken my children and left them behind. They both have their pros and cons. If this is your first convention, you might appreciate not having to navigate new territory while wrangling excited kids.

Mine love going to homeschool conventions and we usually attend as a family now, but the first time if would have been nice to have not had the distraction. Particularly since I made so many mistakes.

Take a helper. If you are bringing your kids, consider taking along another adult like a grandparent or an older teen to help you. They can help by taking the kids to the restroom or outside to run off some extra energy.

Bring something to carry your purchases. Carrying lots of plastic bags cuts off your circulation fairly quickly when the bags are full of books. Consider your larger stroller, a wheeled bag or crate, or even a backpack. Your hands will thank you.

I know some of these may seem obvious, but I find that when I get excited about something (like a homeschool convention!) that all bets are off when it comes to my memory. Planning ahead helps keep that in check. So I hope you find these tips for attending a homeschool convention to be helpful.

Let me know in the comments if you are attending a homeschool convention this year.

Our Goals for Homeschool Preschool This Year

Failing to plan is planning to fail, right? I am a goals person. I love setting them, I love working on them, and I love chucking them when things change and the goals no longer fit.

Meaning? I’m not married to my goals. They just keep me focused. And trust me, I can use all the help with focusing that I can get.

So today, I’m talking about our goals for homeschool preschool this year. Oliver is three and is a high-energy, active boy. Translation? A lovable boy who is very much into anything that interests him ALL.THE.TIME. I’m hoping to help him focus his energy a bit more on productive activities. ūüėČ

Our homeschool preschool goals for our 3 year old. We keep it simple.

Our Goals for Homeschool Preschool

Oliver is a solid 3.5 years old as we start this homeschool year and is showing a LOT of interest in learning about just about anything. He is inquisitive and loves people.

I have the feeling he is going to prove to be a kinesthetic, social learner…the two learning styles that challenge me the most. This is actually why I am starting to work with him in a more focused manner now. I started with kindergarten age with our older children.

Writing Readiness

Basically, I want to work on his fine motor skills. Both of my boys have always had good fine motor skills, I just want to fine tune Oliver’s a bit before diving into working with pencils. I am using the following resources to guide this area:

Developing a Love of Reading

I’m of the “if you can read, you can learn anything” mentality. I want to create a love of reading in my children. This is actually a goal for all of our kids this homeschool year. I’ve let reading fall in our priorities list and I want to remedy that now.

I will work on this goal by being intentional about reading to my kids. Yes, the dreaded read aloud. I am still conquering that one. Love to read, not so much out loud.

Fostering Independence

Oliver is very independent as it is. I am trying to not see this as quite so bittersweet (mah baby doesn’t need meee!) and embracing it. I want to help Oliver develop some good habits that I wasn’t quite so diligent about with the older three when they were little. Things like helping with laundry and putting away toys immediately after use.

I also want to encourage his growing independent play time. He is the youngest (by almost six years) of four so he has always had someone to hang out with. This is a great thing for his social skills (the kid doesn’t know a stranger), but isn’t such a great thing when everyone else has something going on that he can’t help with like their own schoolwork.

That’s pretty much it. I am not one for a lot of structure when it comes to the early years of homeschooling. We are pretty relaxed to allow a lot of time for things like play, exploring their gifts and talents, and building family relationships.

These three goals for homeschool preschool are a good fit for our family. Do you have any homeschool goals for this year?

Printable Homeschool Planner

Do you have a homeschool planner that you love? I’m kind of a planner junkie. This goes for just about any type of planner. I love them all. One day in June, I got this great, absolutely crazy idea to make a homeschool planner for myself because I couldn’t quite find that “perfect” planner for this year.

Here is what I was looking for in a planner:

  • I wanted it to be pretty. Yes. I wanted it to be pretty. I really like the prettiness of The Well Planned Day, but it was not quite right content wise for this year (going a bit more minimalistic).
  • I wanted to be able to customize it to fit our family. This is why I ended up making one.

Free Printable Homeschool Planner - over 12 pages with 2 cover options

I started with some of the basic pages and went from there. I am now offering a version of this for free to you, my lovely reader-friends.

In this free printable homeschool planner, you will find the following:

  • two different covers – one chalkboard because it is pretty, one on a white background because printer ink
  • two year-at-a-glance calendars – 2015 and 2016
  • curriculum planner page – blank so you can choose which subjects to include
  • blank monthly calendar – fill in the dates each month
  • two-page weekly planner – plan each subject out each week, six columns and seven rows
  • daily docket – includes space to write out a to-do list, the day’s meal plan, track health and wellness goals, list errands, and a spot for words of encouragement or inspiration
  • two options for a student half-sheet daily docket – each half-sheet has three sections: schoolwork, chores, and important times, includes a black and white, less-girly option for those students who may not appreciate a pretty, purple font
  • weekly docket – to-do list, errand list, and weekly, three-meal, meal plan

The printable homeschool planner is free and includes over 12 pages. But that is not all, I have MORE pages in the works for this. I am estimating this to be available this fall. Sign up for email updates so you don’t miss those (top of the sidebar)!

Download your free printable homeschool planner now!

Facebook Resources for Homeschoolers

Facebook Resources for Homeschoolers| Vicki-Arnold.com

Facebook has three distinct sections that homeschoolers can use to their advantage: profiles, pages, and groups. A brief description:

  • Profiles – This is what you create when you sign up for Facebook, profiles are for people. You have to send a friend request to connect your profile with someone else’s or vice versa. You control the privacy settings that determine what others see.
  • Pages – These are public pages that are for businesses, public figures, blogs, etc. All you have to do to connect with pages is to click like. All info posted on a page is public, but it won’t all find its way into your news feed (more on that later).
  • Groups – Groups are where groups of users can gather to discuss common interests. Groups can be set up three ways. Open groups can be found in searches and anyone can see the posts. Closed group content can only be seen by members, but the group still shows up in searched and you can request to join. Secret groups are not found in searches and can not be linked to, members have to be added directly via email.

How Homeschoolers Can Use Facebook Profiles

This one is pretty basic, you can’t really do anything on Facebook unless you have a profile. It is a great way for people to stay connected as they go about their lives. Just be sure to go through the privacy settings to know exactly what you are sharing with the world.

Use your Facebook profile to:

  • connect with family and friends, near and far
  • join groups for encouragement, resources, and information
  • like and follow pages of businesses, blogs, and ministries you like and/or support

How Homeschoolers Can Use Facebook Pages

These can be great if you understand how they work. Just about every brand, blog, and business is on Facebook. If you have a favorite curriculum, blog, or anything else, just do a search for them.

Before you go all like happy and giddy to have all your favorites in one place, you should know how Facebook works. Only a portion of the posts that each page posts will show in your news feed. True story. Facebook uses a super secretive (and super frustrating to some, ahem, bloggers) algorithm to figure out what you want to see. The theory is that you don’t actually want to see EVERYTHING that a page posts, just the best.

In theory, this is great for you. In reality, you may miss a LOT that you actually want to see. The only way to make sure you don’t miss anything is to actually go to the page and scroll through their wall. This may be a pain, but it is truly the only way you will see it all.

The nice thing is you can actually go to your profile, scroll down, and you will find a section with all your “likes.” You can then click to see them all on one page. An easy way to find the ones you have liked so far.

Use your profile to like pages of:

How Homeschoolers Can Use Facebook Groups

Facebook groups are a lot of fun. You get to interact with people who share a common interest, find great resources through extra eyes on the world wide web, and be encouraged that you are not alone in your life circumstances.

You can set your settings to receive notifications whenever anyone posts in the group, when friends post in the group, or no notifications at all. Which one you choose will depend largely on the group. For example, a large, active group would overwhelm our notifications if you set it to receive them when anyone posted. However, a smaller group that is more specific in its focus may be one you want to receive them all so you do not miss anything, particularly if it is a long time between postings.

My favorite homeschool related Facebook groups:

All you have to do to find great resources on Facebook is to search them out. Ask friends for their recommendations or start with the ones listed here, and then explore. As you go, Facebook will give you recommendations based on your interests.

Just remember that Facebook is a tool for you to use, don’t let it rule and ruin your day!

Homeschool Resources on Pinterest – Organized by Subject

Homeschool Resources on Pinterest - Over 75 boards organized by subject! vicki-arnold.com

It’s no secret. I love Pinterest.

But before we get started with this post, I want to say this: if you are struggling with comparison or guilt over things you see on Pinterest or blogs, please read the post I wrote just for you. If you are wondering what Pinterest has to do with homeschooling, please read this post.

Pinterest is such a great tool.

Think of it like your bookmarks folder, but 100 times better. But I’ve already covered that so let’s get down to some great resources.

Linked below are Pinterest boards organized by subject. I hope you find just what you are looking for!

Homeschool Resources on Pinterest

Follow Vicki Arnold’s board Homeschool :: Writing on Pinterest.

 

Language Arts

General Language Arts

Phonics & Reading

Literature

Spelling & Vocabulary

Writing & Grammar

Follow Vicki Arnold’s board Homeschool :: Geography on Pinterest.

Social Studies

General Social Studies Boards

History

Geography

Government & Economics

Follow Vicki Arnold’s board Homeschool :: Science on Pinterest.

 

Science

General Science & Experiments

Physics

Earth & Space Science

Biology

Chemistry

Nature Study

Follow Vicki Arnold’s board Homeschool :: Math on Pinterest.

Math

General Math Resources

Early Math

Elementary Math

Higher Level Math

Follow Vicki Arnold’s board Homeschool :: Art on Pinterest.

Fine Arts

Art

Music

 

Raising Independent Learners

Raising Independent Learners - vicki-arnold.com

One of the most important goals we have in our homeschool is to raise independent learners. I will not be there to hold their hands through everything their whole life. This is why my educational philosophy lies heavily in the “teach them how to think, not what to think” category.

We are in the throes of raising our kids. I don’t have packaged success stories for you, but what I do have is a game plan and some theories. That’s what I’m sharing today, how we are planning to raise independent learners.

4 Thoughts on Raising Independent Learners

Teaching vs. Doing Things For Them

Have you heard the term helicopter parent? This is the type of parent who is constantly hovering over their child to “keep them safe” or to “help”. The problem is, this kills a child’s self-confidence. The parent is effectively communicating, “I don’t think you can handle this” to their child.

Our goal is to teach them the things they need to know and then let them actually DO them. We aim to give them the tools, resources, and confidence to try and succeed or fail. We WANT them to learn the natural consequences to their actions, good and bad. Big and small.

This can be hard to walk out because my natural instinct is that I don’t want anything bad happening to my baby! But it is vitally important that they learn that they can try things and that we will be there when they fail and to celebrate with them when they succeed.

One way this worked out in our life was with piano lessons. In the beginning, I would remind them to practice a couple times a week. Then I dropped off my reminders and let them take ownership of that. One child wrote it down in her planner and did it (almost) daily.

Another did not and ended up “forgetting” to practice each week. This lead to a slowing of progress that rather frustrated that kid. When we had a discussion about this, the lightbulb clicked that it was his responsibility and he never complained about the slow lessons again. He also didn’t practice very often, but his progress returned when he took ownership of the situation.

Using Student Planners

This is a relatively new one for us. We started using a student planner for my oldest two students last year (4th & 5th grade). We started with the Ultimate Student Planner, but my oldest has moved to the Student Planner that matches my Well-Planned Day family planner this year.

The way we currently use our planners:

  • I write down our lessons in my planner. I include all three students work for all subjects. I did this for the full semester this year. Not sure what I will do moving forward.
  • Every Sunday night or Monday morning, my two oldest take their planners and then copy their week’s independent work into their planner.
  • Through the week, they are to use their planner to complete their independent work before 3:00 p.m. each day. They are not allowed to use my planner each day.
  • I check their planners periodically and make suggestions.

My goal is to eventually hand off subjects and have them plan out how they complete the lessons. For example, next semester I will probably give my oldest her science book, tell her what she has to cover in the semester and let her plan out how she completes it.

Encouraging God-Given Talents

My children will also have increasing input into what they learn about within the subjects. I want to allow the Holy Spirit to guide my children in the path that God has laid for them. Not dictate my own plans.

I hope to give them the tools, resources, and confidence to do this. God has given each one of them special talents and giftings for a purpose. I want to encourage them to follow His guidance to find that purpose.

Prayer

Truthfully, saying I want to raise independent learners is kind of a lie. I do want them to not be dependent on me for everything, but what I ultimately want is for them to be fully dependent upon God. He is the only one that will be there for them every single moment of their lives.

I pray that they will know that to their core. That they will trust Him and seek His guidance in every thing they do. I pray that my life’s example can give them some glimmer of that. And then I rejoice and praise Him for His infinite and merciful grace.