Friday, October 23, 2020

Five Minute Friday - Disappoint

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One word. Five minutes to write about it. This is the idea behind Five Minute Friday and this is today's free-writing post.

get used to disappointment
hate to disappoint you

I've lost track of how many times I've been disappointed in my life. This year alone has been full of disappointments. If that's what I focus on! If I look at the times things didn't work out, plans fell through, people screwed up, or expectations weren't met, it would be crushing and overwhelming. So I try not to focus on that, and instead focus instead on the good things, both intentional and surprise silver linings. Yes there were disappointments, but there are also lots of times that things worked out perfectly, plans came together smoothly, people rose to the occasion, and expectations were met and exceeded. And there were times when it wasn't what I'd hoped but that didn't mean it was bad - sometimes it turned out better despite the original hopes being disappointed!

It's sometimes said that the way to avoid disappointment is to not have expectations. Or to have very low expectations. I'm not sure that's a healthy way to live either. It seems too fatalistic and hopeless. I think it's better to hope and dream for big things and for the best, but to be realistic and ready to work with what I'm given. After all, I really like lemonade so it's good to get practice making it!


Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God's glory. Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  ~Romans 5:1-5

This post is linked at Five Minute Friday for the word prompt "Disappoint".


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Monday, October 19, 2020

From the High School Lesson Book - Study Skills for Success

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A question came up recently in our co-op about what writing skills students should already have learned by the time they start high school English composition. That's another article for another day, but it got me thinking about general study skills that I believe homeschooled students should develop in their high school years. I've been teaching writing and literature classes for high schoolers in our homeschool co-op and have seen those students as well as my own needing work in these areas. I call them study skills, but they are much broader than just cramming for an exam!

Understand the Assignments or Expectations

Every week in the co-op classes I try to be very clear about the instructions for the homework and assignments, where to find the details in the textbook, which pages to read, and how to submit the essays, or whatever else. I encourage the students to ask their questions before class is dismissed. But it's not that unusual to have students who turn something in that doesn't follow the instructions. For instance, it takes several weeks into the school year before I get everyone on board with submitting their essays in the correct format - double-spaced, specific font size, header information, and all of that. 

Is it a big deal? Well, yes and no. Does it really matter that much if the essay is in 11-point rather than 12-point font? Nope, to me it actually doesn't. But in some college classes, believe it or not, it does. It matters that they follow instructions and the parameters for the assignment. It's going to matter even more at college level, and it's easy to see how it will matter in many work settings. There's a place for being creative and individual, and there's a place for making sure that you follow the instructions you've been given. 

My advice to students: Understand the assignment and do your best to follow all the instructions given.
My advice to homeschool parents: If your student is in a co-op or receiving instruction from someone other than you, remind your student of the importance of following instructions. If you're the teacher, be clear and consistent about assignments and how you're grading.

Manage Your Time

This is something that doesn't come naturally to very many of us, from what I can tell, and because homeschoolers have a lot more flexibility with their time, it seems to me that we don't always do a great job of teaching the skill. If students haven't learned this by the time they get to high school, these are the years they need to work on it. Students are working on multiple subjects each semester, and have responsibilities in the home. Many have part time jobs. All have things they want to do in their personal time - social life, hobbies, personal interests, and more. Now is the time to figure out how to budget time so that all of those things get correctly prioritized. Know what the deadlines are for schoolwork, and how much time each assignment will take. Plan that time so the work will get done in a timely manner, without procrastination or panic. 

Get a student planner or a calendar and use it. Find a system that works for you to keep track of your homework and study schedule, and is efficient for keeping on track and balancing time between school and other responsibilities. 

When my sons were in high school, they had part time jobs and other responsibilities, but did not do any classes at a co-op. I was the only teacher they had to deal with, and I knew exactly how much work they had in each subject and what else was taking up their time during the week. And too often I adjusted deadlines to balance things for them. That's not necessarily a bad thing, because that's why we homeschool, right? But I should have let them figure out how to balance. My daughter did several classes at a co-op during her last two years of high school. Her French instructor gave the class homework without any regard for whether they also had coursework in English or Algebra, or if they had extra hours at work this week, or if they were planning to go away over the weekend. And she had to figure out how to meet the deadlines. As a co-op teacher, I sometimes get emails from students apologizing for turning something in late or incomplete, and the reason given is that they had a lot of other homework in other subjects or a very busy week. The very blunt response would be that I don't care. Of course I don't say that to them, but I do think it! Because unless it's something really unusual - some kind of crisis - it shouldn't matter. For the rest of your life, kids, you will have to juggle school, work, church, family, personal life, and more; and it is your responsibility to make the balances and adjustments.

My advice to students: Learn time management skills now.
My advice to homeschool parents: Work with your student on time management, especially planning for deadlines. Don't be afraid to let natural consequences reinforce the lessons.

From the High School Lesson Book - Let's Get to Work! on Homeschool Coffee Break @ - It's that time of year when motivation is hard to come by, but we need to stick to plan and get our schoolwork done! We have a couple areas we need to work on . . .

Maximize Your Strengths

When you're responsible for your own schedule, you can plan to study and work on assignments when you're at your best during the day. You can also work in a setting in which you're comfortable. You might still have to attend that class in person or online at whatever time it's scheduled, but you can work on your assignments in the morning or evening or whenever you're at your best. You should probably dress for success when attending co-op, but if laying on your bed in your pjs is the most comfortable way for you to do the required reading, do it. As long as the work gets done.

Maximizing your strengths also means knowing how you learn best - your learning style - and making it as easy on yourself as possible. If you focus best when there are no distractions, plan your study space accordingly. If you focus and listen best when you can doodle or take notes or fidget, have your notepad handy and, if you're in a classroom setting, find a way to do what you need to do without distracting others. If reading is difficult, listen to an audio version while following along. Be creative in using your learning strengths to your advantage and compensating for your weaker areas.

My advice to students: The goal is to get schoolwork completed and learn. Figure out the best way for you to do your best work.
My advice to homeschool parents: Your student's preferred study space or learning style might be different from yours. As long as they are getting the work done well, and on time, try to allow them the freedom to do it their way. They may need help figuring out how to adjust their learning style preferences and strengths to outside classes and expectations. Do step in when they need you, but allow them to be their own advocate as much as practical. They will need to be able to do that on their own someday too.

Find Your Motivation

Students should be involved in choosing their coursework and curriculum as much as possible. The more the student has invested personally, the more likely it is he'll succeed. Being able to have some control and ownership over what they are studying and how will help students take ownership. And that will help with motivation. What keeps your student motivated? Being able to check things off a list? Taking lots of short breaks during the day and switching things up, or having the freedom to concentrate on one subject until that project is complete? Little rewards along the way, or working towards a big reward at the end of the semester? Some kids are motivated by the grade itself, or the praise of the instructor. 

And of course, students that have a good idea of what they want to do after high school find motivation in preparing for that. Obviously they will be motivated to apply themselves to the subjects that they are interested in, but it may also help them be determined to do what needs to be done. One of my sons had very little patience for grammar and writing skills, but when he decided he was interested in a journalism related career, he understood that he'd need those skills to be sharp in college, and applied himself without much more complaint. My daughter never liked math and found it difficult, but she also did not want to have to take a remedial math in college so she worked at it, and made it through her required first year math. 

My advice to students: Think of a good way to reward yourself and keep yourself on track. And ask someone to keep checking on you and keep you accountable.
My advice to homeschool parents: Encourage, encourage, encourage! And reward your student suitably for jobs well done, as well as for diligent effort in areas that don't come easily.

Use Proven Strategies

You don't need to reinvent the wheel! A lot of time honored study strategies have been in use for generations because they work. We all need to review things we've learned in order to make them stick and we all need to practice things in order to get better at them. So yes, do plan on reviewing all the pages from the textbook that your co-op teacher lectured from in class today. Chances are very good that she didn't cover everything on those pages, and even if she did, the chances of you accurately remembering every bit of it are slim. Review it. Practice conjugating your Spanish verbs. Practice piano. Practice your golf swing. Practice solving equations. Practice your speech or presentation. Musicians and athletes are often told that the way you practice determines the way you'll perform. That's good advice. 

Learn how to proofread and critique your own writing. Learn how to take notes effectively - handwriting on paper is much more effective than typing! Make use of flash cards and highlighter pens and those kinds of tools to help you remember and understand information. Come up with mnemonics to help you memorize facts and formulas. Find a study buddy to work with and hold each other accountable. 

My advice to students: Give some of the "old-fashioned" learning tools a fair try. Technology is great and so useful, but make sure you're using your amazing brain to its fullest potential too!
My advice to homeschool parents: Remind and encourage your students to follow instructions and advice about how to study. 

Books in Print and Handwritten Notes on Homeschool Coffee Break @

What study skills do you think are most important? How can we help our students develop those skills? Leave a comment and contribute to the conversation!

See my related posts:

High School Assignment Tracking on Homeschool Coffee Break @  From the High School Lesson Book - Time Management and Motivation on Homeschool Coffee Break @ - The time crunch is on, so this is when we see how good we really are at time management!

 ©2006-2020 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. 

 We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Five Minute Friday - Hold

This post contains affiliate links - using affiliate links from Homeschool Coffee Break helps fuel this blog.

One word. Five minutes to write about it. This is the idea behind Five Minute Friday and this is today's free-writing post.

hold on
hold my hand
to have and to hold

There are many things I hold dear or hold close. There are memories I hold onto and beliefs and values that I hold. Holding on is a choice. No matter what I hold, it's my choice to hold on and how tightly. When my husband and I go for a walk together we often hold hands. Not a tight grip but to stay in contact, and if I stumble (which is often since I have bad knees) he steadies me. When my kids were little I held their hands much more tightly, especially when we were in a crowded place or crossing a street. 

Some things we hold onto gently because they are precious. Some things we hold loosely because we know we may need to let go. Sometimes we do need to hold very tightly, so it doesn't get lost or pulled away from us. But it's always a choice. I have to choose wisely what I'm holding on to.  

This is one of my daughter's original songs, and I think it's the first original she shared on her YouTube channel. I had to include it here because the title is . . . "hold".

©2018 Kennady Thorpe. All rights reserved. This content appears on 
Homeschool Coffee Break with the permission of the songwriter and performer, but may not be 
reproduced or transmitted in any form without written consent of the songwriter.

This post is linked at Five Minute Friday for the word prompt "Hold".


 ©2006-2020 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. 

 We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Twenty-Six Lists - I've Been Everywhere (Not Really) - #twentysixlists

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Welcome to Twenty Six Lists! I hope you'll join me in using some fun List prompts for writing. Every other week I'll share a writing prompt and invite you to link up your list, and wherever the prompt takes you. You may want to simply make a list of five or ten items that answer the prompt, or you may elaborate on the items in your list, or even write an entire article. Be creative, and have fun!

Every once in awhile, the "copy and paste" list gets shared on Facebook - you know, the one where you put a heart by the states or countries you've visited. The claim is that the average American has visited only a very small number of states, but I don't know that I believe that number as I don't know where the information comes from. Whatever the average is, I thought it would be fun to make a similar list here, but add some background about where I've been. As my title says, I haven't really been everywhere, but I've managed to visit a decent number of states and provinces. I've got a lot left on my bucket list though! 

List #21 - States and Provinces You've Visited

    1. Alabama
    2. Alaska - This has been on my To-Visit List for many years! We'd actually started planning to go on an Alaskan cruise with friends a few years ago, but it didn't work out. Someday I hope to make it happen.
    3. Arizona - We didn't spend much time there, but when I was a kid, we drove through part of Arizona on a family vacation. I've also stopped over in the Phoenix airport!
    4. Arkansas
    5. California
    6. Colorado - On that family vacation we spent a fair amount of time in Colorado, visiting the cities of Denver, Pueblo, and Boulder. A highlight of the trip for me was Mesa Verde National Park.
    7. Connecticut - We drove through on a trip to Atlantic Canada a few years ago.
    8. Delaware - I've been in Delaware quite a number of times since moving to the US. When we lived in NJ we had a couple of occasions to cross to Delaware on the ferry at Lewes and on the Delaware Memorial Bridge. While living in Maryland, we generally wind up in Delaware at least once a year. Our church often has district events, including camp, in Delaware and we've vacationed at one of the beaches. And our oldest son even worked at a radio station in Delaware for quite some time. 
    9. Florida - A favorite vacation destination, of course! We've done Disney and non-Disney vacations in Florida. One of the highlights was visiting the Florida Keys on one of those trips. It's my husband's goal to live in Florida someday.
    10. Georgia - We've passed through Georgia on all our driving trips to Florida, and once we stopped in Atlanta and did some touristy things there, notably visiting the World of Coca-Cola.
    11. Hawaii
    12. Idaho - This was a frequent vacation spot when I was a kid. My family had a favorite campground in the Couer D'Alene area.
    13. Illinois - We've driven through on cross-country trips but really haven't spent time there. Our goal was usually to get through the Chicago area toll highways with as little stress as possible. I've traveled through Chicago by train as well, and the train station is pretty cool!
    14. Indiana - Another state I've driven through a few times, but haven't spent much time in.
    15. Iowa - Driven through, but I don't remember much about it.
    16. Kansas - My mom spent part of her childhood in Kansas and some of her extended family still lived there, so on one of our epic road trips when I was about ten years old, we went to Kansas and visited the family. It was on this trip that I first experienced fireflies!
    17. Kentucky - I finally added this state to my list last year when we drove to Cincinnati for a baseball game. We crossed the river into Kentucky and parked there to walk across the bridge to Three Rivers Stadium!
    18. Louisiana - My daughter's choir trip was to New Orleans a few years ago, and the hubster and I went along. We couldn't pass up the chance to see this storied city and it was so much fun! I wish we'd had more time to explore!
    19. Maine - We drove through on that trip to Atlantic Canada and at the time I described it as mostly rocks and trees. I was rather disappointed that we never saw any moose, actually.
    20. Maryland - This has been my home state for more than twenty years!
    21. Massachusetts - We drove through Boston and how I wished we'd had time to stop and see all the historic sites. 
    22. Michigan - We've driven through many parts of Michigan, including the Upper Peninsula. I wasn't that impressed with Detroit, but I'm not much for big cities overall. 
    23. Minnesota - Lots of driving through, and sometimes it's been a destination. I remember camping and vacationing there a lot during my childhood, and especially remember seeing statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe.
    24. Mississippi
    25. Missouri - I went to Kansas City on a student trip while in college but that's the only time I remember being in Missouri. I so want to visit St Louis and see the Gateway Arch though. The St Louis Blues are one of my favorite hockey teams.
    26. Montana - Lots and lots of vacations here while growing up! Lots of times we drove through! Most recently (well, seven years ago) we took our kids to Glacier National Park.
    27. Nebraska - Drove through on our road trip to Kansas. I remember the North Platte River and that's about all I remember!
    28. Nevada - The hubster and I flew to Las Vegas and met his family there for New Years 1990. It was more fun than I expected!
    29. New Hampshire - Drove through and stayed overnight while on a road trip.
    30. New Jersey - We lived in southern New Jersey for a couple of years and it is a LOT different from northern New Jersey, and much nicer than I had expected.
    31. New Mexico - Drove through on that epic road trip I've mentioned a couple times.
    32. New York - We drive through New York every trip to visit my husband's family. We're very familiar with Niagara Falls and the Corning area. We went to New York City on another trip with my daughter's choir too and had a wonderful time.
    33. North Carolina - Driving through on the way to and from Florida.
    34. North Dakota - Lots of family vacations during childhood took us through the Dakotas.
    35. Ohio - My oldest son lives in Columbus so Ohio has become one of our frequent destinations in the past couple of years. Before that, we just drove through and didn't realize it had much to offer. More recently, we've visited Cedar Point a couple of times and the Cleveland area as well as exploring Columbus.
    36. Oklahoma - Drove through a corner of Oklahoma on our way to Kansas.
    37. Oregon - My family went to Oregon a couple of times on vacations when I was a kid and I loved the scenery but did not care for the city of Portland, to be honest.
    38. Pennsylvania - Our neighboring state, and Gettysburg is only about half an hour from us, so we are in PA at least once a week for one reason or another. We were also neighbors when we lived in NJ and visited Philadelphia. We love going to hockey games in Hershey and have had vacation stops in Philly, Pittsburgh, and many other places too.
    39. Rhode Island
    40. South Carolina - Another state we drive through on the way to and from Florida. 
    41. South Dakota - Badlands and Mount Rushmore! Have seen both quite a few times, but not for many years.
    42. Tennessee
    43. Texas - Have driven through the upper 'corners' of Texas and have stopped over at the Dallas airport. 
    44. Utah - That big childhood vacation took us to Salt Lake City and the Arches National Park. Arches is so beautiful! I'd love to go back!
    45. Vermont
    46. Virginia - Another neighboring state, so we've driven through and visited places like Lynchburg. I'd really like to go to Jamestown and some of the historical sites, but it hasn't worked out so far.
    47. Washington - When I was young, my family often went to the Spokane area, and sometimes to Seattle and area. 
    48. West Virginia - We pass through on our way to and from Columbus, and we've also visited Harpers Ferry quite a few times.
    49. Wisconsin - In addition to driving through the state on road trips, one year we stopped at Taliesin East and that was a highlight!
    50. Wyoming - Haven't been to Wyoming in so many years, but I've been to Yellowstone a few times. 

A New Orleans PhotoJournal on Homeschool Coffee Break @

A Postcard from Maryland - Delivered to Castle View Academy

NYC Field Trip Photojournal on Homeschool Coffee Break @

    1. Alberta - I grew up in Calgary, so that's a lot of years I spent in Alberta. Banff is one of my favorite places ever!
    2. British Columbia - Many childhood vacations took my family west to spots in the mountains of BC and farther to Vancouver and to Vancouver Island. The islands is another of my favorite spots and I hope I can visit again someday.
    3. Manitoba - My parents both grew up in Manitoba and met there, and their families still live there. We visited my grandparents a couple times every year when I was growing up. My husband and I met while we were both at college in Winnipeg. 
    4. New Brunswick - I finally got to visit New Brunswick a couple of years ago when we visited friends that live there. Our trip included time at the Bay of Fundy and a whale watching trip on a sailing ship.
    5. Newfoundland
    6. Nova Scotia - On our Atlantic Canada trip, we did a little side trip into Nova Scotia but didn't spend much time there. But when I was in high school, I did an exchange trip and spent a week in Nova Scotia and saw Halifax, Peggy's Cove, and Port Royal. Beautiful province!
    7. Northwest Territories
    8. Nunavut
    9. Ontario - My husband grew up in southern Ontario, and his family is still there. I lived there with his family for several months while still in college, And usually we go visit family there at least once a year. Niagara Falls is our most visited tourist spot there.
    10. Prince Edward Island - We spent a couple of days on this beautiful island on our Atlantic Canada trip a few years ago. We attended an airshow in Charlottetown, visited beaches both rocky and sandy, and I particularly enjoyed seeing the setting for Anne of Green Gables.
    11. Quebec
    12. Saskatchewan - Going between Alberta and Manitoba so often took us through Saskatchewan and although there's much more to the province than the Trans Canada Highway through the wheat fields, that's actually what I picture!
    13. Yukon

A Niagara Falls PhotoJournal Part 2 on Homeschool Coffee Break @

Pictures added as promised!

What's on your list? Link up or tell me in the comments!

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Bonus List - Upcoming in Twenty Six Lists so you can think ahead!

October 29 - Best Costumes
November 12 - Museums
November 26 - Thankful For . . .
December 10 - Winter Activities
December 24 - Christmas and Holiday Traditions

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 ©2006-2020 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. 

 We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

A Kentuck Knob PhotoJournal

This post contains affiliate links - using affiliate links from Homeschool Coffee Break helps fuel this blog.   

On Friday, the hubster and I took a day trip down the National Road to visit a National Historic Landmark, Kentuck Knob. It's a home designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, built in the 1950s for I.N. and Bernadine Hagan. It's one of the last homes completed by Wright. 

The property is now owned by Peter and Hayat Palumbo, but is open for tours. Palumbo is an avid collector of art and sculpture, so when we first arrived we took a walk around the grounds to see some of the contemporary sculptures and some other interesting pieces like these birdhouses and telelphone boxes.

I was most interested in the piece of the Berlin Wall.

The house is set just below the crest of a hill and is based on a hexagon shape. It has an open floor plan and lots of windows too. We walked around the outside of the house, then joined our tour guide for the in-depth tour inside the house. (Because the home is privately owned, no indoor photos are allowed.)

This is the courtyard - or driveway, really. All pea gravel. There's carport to the right.

View of the front entry from the carport:

This is pretty special - it's a red tile with Frank Lloyd Wright's signature. 

No photos of the inside of the house, but some from the patio along the great room. These hexagon cutouts in the overhang are beautiful and allow more light into the house.

This is the patio on the other side of the house, and those doors lead into the dining area.

This wing of the house is where the bedrooms are.

The view from on top of the hill is spectacular.

Another sculpture I liked was this one, a flower transforming into a fan. I don't remember the exact title or the artist, unfortunately.

After our tour of Kentuck Knob, we also stopped in at a couple of spots at neighboring Ohiopyle State Park. The Natural Waterslide area was so interesting and would be a lot of fun to explore further!

This post will be linked at Wordless Wednesday, hosted by Life on Chickadee Laneand at Pictorial Tuesday, hosted by Peabea Scribbles.


 ©2006-2020 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. 

 We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.