Writing a letter to your confirmation candidate

It seems that one of the biggest events in confirmation preparation in this country is the letters of support to be given to the confirmation candidates during their mandatory retreats.

I have three such letters saved on this blog:

Confirmation letter to my daughterConfirmation letter to my fourth sonConfirmation letter to to my third son
I've asked my children what they remember about the letter they got from me and their dad, and also what they remembered about the letters they received. 
The answer was not much, or at least nothing specific. In general they were happy to have gotten a bag full of letters and there was a sense of feeling loved and supported. I guess that's the main thing - for them to have a sense that this is an important step in their spiritual growth, and that people they know, love and respect have taken the time out of their lives to let them know that! So here are some tips on procuring and writing letters for young confirmation candidates. Start thinkin…

5 Things I wish I had known before Homeschooling High School.

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It's that time of year again - homeschool moms are pouring over curriculum catalogs and trying to determine what to buy and what to teach next year. Moms with kids going into high school for the first time might feel particularly anxious about the next school year.

Homeschooling does get more serious in high school. In addition to being a teacher, mom has to become the registrar and counselor too!

That all seemed very overwhelming to me when I was starting out, but now that I have had almost five kids go through high school (including one through a digital charter school) there are some things that I wish I had known at the beginning that would have made the journey a little easier.

1. Making a transcript is not that hard.
It's really not. Looking at my own old high school transcript kind of confirmed this. What a transcript really needs is the basic information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Name of School (Yes, you get to name your homeschool or just call it Home School)
  • And other info as needed such as gender, and date of birth. 
After that you simply have the:
  •  date of each school year, 
  • with the name of the courses covered
  • a letter grade
  • and the amount of credit granted. 
  • and some kind of grading scale.
That's basically it!  You can use a transcript service like Fasttranscripts.com  or you can make your own and save it on your computer. I paid $96 for the lifetime service so that I can just keep and order the transcript whenever one of my kids needs it. 

Lee Binz has a number of templates and training for homeschool high school here. 

A sample of the transcript I used to sent to Noah's college is here

2. Determining credit, not a big deal!

1 credit is about 120-180 Carnegie Units.
1 Carnegie unit = 1 hour of instruction or 2 hours of practice (or study homework).

But if your student is a quick study, that's okay too.  Finishing a high school level text book is the equivalent of one credit.
If they work on a high school level subject for about an hour a day for a year, that's also a credit.
If it's only half a year, that's half a credit.
Sometimes you have to be a little more diligent with keeping track of hours if a child is doing work more creatively. For example, I give my kids a physical education credit for soccer, but they are only involved in a Saturday League that plays in the fall and spring. Cumulatively over 4 years, that's 1 credit for physical education and I only put it on their senior year.

3. High school doesn't need to be all about books and study. 
Students can get credit for taking music lessons, playing a sport, or participating in a group or club like 4H. I gave one of my sons a lot of credit for taking piano and guitar lessons as well as participating in our parish choir. His electives were loaded with music. My daughter is getting credit for working on the rehabbing a house with her father and also for taking art classes. If public schools offer a lot of credit for vocational skills; so can homeschoolers.
Noah Senior Pictures 008 2
4. Grading can be subjective. The best advice I ever heard about grading came from Lee Binz. If the student does their work, tries their hardest, understands the material and can prove proficiency either on a test or orally and you are pleased with their work - that's an A.

You go down in grades from there.  For example, if the student can do all of the above but doesn't get work done in a timely manner could be a B for example. Basically, if you subjectively think they didn't do their best work, that becomes a B and so forth.  Just like in regular school, attitude and effort can and should raise or lower a grade.

5. Everything I just shared above, needs to be taken up a few notches if your student wants to play NCAA college sports. Honestly, getting my student to be NCAA eligible was a lot harder than getting him into the college he wanted to attend! So if you have an inkling that your student athlete might want to compete in college, you need to put in a little extra effort keeping track of textbook titles and ISBN numbers, and writing course descriptions. For all of my nonathletic students, the transcript was really all the college ever asked for.

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