Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Boot Camp for Bringing Up Boys

At this very moment I (Kristen) am at Denise's house gazing out her kitchen window listening to the raucous adventures of my four sons. The youngest is playing in the clubhouse, pretending he's steering a great ship. The next eldest is walking around the yard deep in thought, a huge golden retriever following closely at his side. The next eldest son is acting out elaborate imagination games with one of Denise's daughters down by the clubhouse. And the eldest son is our chef for the day, whipping up peppermint chocolate chip cookies with the other of Denise's daughters.

This week I read a book that has come just in the nick of time for this mama of boys and two girls who will one day marry boys. It is Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys by Hal and Melanie Young, and by it, I've been greatly encouraged that I can raise mighty men of God within our culture of complacency.

Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys

From puddles and puppy dog tales to college exams and career choices, Raising Real Men is like a boot camp on paper for bringing up boys. This book offers wisdom and strategies for parents who desire to parent purposefully and honor God with their effort.

There are several practical things I took away from this book (and have already implemented some of them :-)):

  • A Fist of Five (an easy-to-remember battle plan for overcoming temptation)

  • Fostering entrepreneurship

  • How to interview colleges

  • How to master public speaking

  • The effective army approach to correction
  • Carrying in the groceries joyfully and other ways to use their strength to help others
  • Hosting a Coming of Age celebration
  • and much, much more

    As a girl I fantasized about my knight in shining armor sweeping me off my feet and protecting me for the rest of my life. Now, I feel I have a valuable complement to my Heavenly Sword for guiding these four knights in training to become young men who take on the world for good.

    I highly recommend this book to homeschool group leaders for several reasons:
* We are first of all wives and mothers, and this is a down-to-earth resource for understanding the men in our lives better

* We are secondly leaders who can use the wisdom and insight gained from these pages to change how we interact with and provide resources for the young men in our groups

* It could be a convenient platform for creating a boys' class or moms' book discussion, each week covering a fresh topic brought out in the book: manners, money, love, education, responsibiliites, competition, and leadership, among others.

You could easily create an 18-week co-op class out of it by having an ice-breaker/vision-casting introduction, a holiday break week, a project class where the boys get their hands dirty applying what they've learned--creating a budget, starting a micro-business, cooking a meal, building something useful, spearheading a service project in the community-- and finally, a conclusion class. Make it festive and fun by hosting a BBQ celebration where the boys grill and the parents share a praise for one particular way they've witnessed their son grow in character or ability over the semester.

The point is, the Youngs have successfully re-awakened me to the priceless value of being the "mother of heroes" and the eternal significance of my mission . . . and theirs.

Raising Real Men for a Better Tomorrow,


Monday, March 29, 2010

intheNewZone: Surprise in April . . . and More

Surprise in April

We are grateful to the Lord for bringing Homeschool Group Leader as far as He has over the last two years. We appreciate all of you who have let us know how you are being helped through the bi-weekly blog posts, articles, Facebook connections and original resources we have here. There are several brand new resources under construction right now that we are so excited about making available to group leaders soon.

Denise and I are both wives to great men and homeschooling mothers to great kids, so know that though we desire to write each one of you personally, we realistically cannot. But we do take your questions very seriously and pray for you, even if we are unable to personally write you back. We are listening!

You can connect with us here on the blog by leaving a comment or chatting on the facebook group, "I Am A Homeschool Group Leader." And of course, we'd love for you to be a Facebook fan of Homeschool Group Leader. We can chat there, too!

Now here's the great news: there is something very special coming in April that you are not going to want to miss! It's going to be a one-stop shop of sorts just for homeschool group leaders and will make your life a whole lot easier, and ours a whole lot of fun. Be watching!

Helpful Video to Show Your Support Group

And for your viewing pleasure, we've just discovered this nifty little video that you can share with your group members to educate them on the value of respecting intellectual property. Thank you to the Bluedorns of Trivium Pursuit for this helpful and informative video.

June is Homeschool Copyright Ethics Awareness Month. You are free to use this video on your web site or show it at your support group meeting or convention as long as it is used in its entirety.

God bless,
Leader Store

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday's Wisdom: Leading at Home

Recently, we had a nice conversation with one of our favorite leading couples, Hal and Melanie Young, authors of Raising Real Men, on the topic of homeschool group leaders finding the balance in their responsibilities and leading well at home with their own families.

We have loved every part of the interview with this dedicated and visionary couple, but this segment hit home. This one got personal. Leading and teaching leadership at home impacts every family, including ours.

{If you've missed the other parts of this amazing interview, you can read them here: Leading at the State Level and Leading at the Local Level}

HGL: Hal, we’ve heard you say that:
Leadership looks like a lot of glory from the outside, but behind the scenes, it’s not nearly as pretty. Self-sacrifice, hard work and difficult decisions can lead to burnout if you aren’t prepared for the fight. History shows that often victory’s just a little push more, a little longer endurance.

That’s an amazing quote. What is your top tip for keeping life balanced and not burning out as a homeschool group leader?

Hal: Balance is the real key. And it’s like doing anything in life--if you have one area overwhelming others, then things start to fall through the cracks. So, one thing that I’ve found very helpful is just keeping a good running log of what I am doing and staying on top of communication. Remember relationships are very important--not just within the homeschool organization, but also keeping the family relationships going.

Melanie: That’s what is probably my top tip--is that you can’t neglect your own children and teach other people how to take care of theirs. Scripture tells us that in the leadership of the church, a man should have his own house in order before he leads the church of God. That’s a pretty good practice that we need, to make sure that our own homes are in order.

It’s too easy to neglect the mundane duties of life: our own schools, our own laundry, our own relationships with our children, for the demands--the time-sensitive demands--of leadership.

You’ve got to keep your eyes on God’s priority or you will burn out.

Well said!
Our kids are calling. Gotta run!
Denise & Kristen

Sunday, March 21, 2010

intheNewZone: New Look!

We are so excited because on our brand new Homeschool Group Leader web site, launching in April, we will have the tools you need to succeed in one convenient place. At the click of a button, you can find fresh ideas, answers to the questions leaders ask, fabulous resources and new friendships with those who understand the joys and challenges of leadership. You can find our current site and first e-book here. We will keep you posted as the new site gets closer to launch.

Know this: the launch will be with the MONUMENTAL birthday of one of us. In celebration, we are going to offer our biggest discount ever on One By One: The Homeschool Group Leader's Guide to Motivating Your Members, so spread the word!

In the meantime, be sure to check out:

* the Facebook group

* the Leader Store

* the new Wednesday's Wisdom interviews

Our desire at Homeschool Group Leader is to support you as you support so many great homeschooling families. Thank you for all you do.

Exciting times are ahead!
Denise & Kristen

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday's Wisdom: Leading at the Local Level

You've heard it said. . . If you want something done, ask a busy person. Well, Hal and Melanie Young are just some of those people. Called to many things and humbly excelling in them all, the Youngs not only daily serve their 8 children, but also serve homeschoolers on the state and local levels and homeschoolers worldwide through their web site,

In our ongoing series with this popular writing and speaking couple, HGL explores with the Youngs the joys and challenges of leading homeschoolers in a local support group. Sit back, enjoy and learn at their feet!

HGL: Kristen and I each have each served homeschoolers in our area. It is definitely a lot of hard work that will stretch you to your limits at times, but the truth is that there is a lot of joy in the serving, too, isn’t there? What was one of your greatest joys as homeschool group leaders?

Melanie: I’ve got to say that, no doubt, it is having someone come up and tell you at Wal-Mart, years later what a difference you made in their lives. I don’t know if you knew--Hal has Stage 4 cancer, and our twelve month old has a heart condition--and we have just been overwhelmed. Well, someone secretly suggested that folks send us Valentines of Encouragement recently, and wow!

I remember one card in which someone had written, "You encouraged us seven years ago by your workshops and talking with us that we really could homeschool our children, and it’s been such a blessing to us." And when we read that, that was without a doubt, one of the greatest joys of being a leader.

HGL: Homeschoolers can be very diverse and independent, or they may even be brand new to homeschooling and have a lot of understandable needs. What would you say is the biggest secret to finding joy every day in leading all these wonderfully different homeschoolers?

Hal: I think the secret is to see this as a ministry. To realize that in its own way, it’s as important as the ministries in your church or other community service organizations because you’re having an impact on people’s family lives. Homeschooling is not just an educational choice. It’s a lifestyle that people adopt and that impacts everything in their household. If you can help them make that transition and support them in that decision as the years go by, then you are really building into the lives of people around you.

HGL: Conflict creates a challenge when you're leading a homeschool group. How can leaders deal with the challenges of conflict?

Hal: Keep your own sense of perspective. It’s very easy when you’re in a controversy of one sort or another to really feel oppressed--to feel like the whole world is down on you right then. If you step back and are objective, often times it’s only one or two people who are causing all the friction that you’re experiencing at that point. And you can look out across the rest of the group and say, “You know, I’ve got a personal problem right now, but we’re only dealing with one or two people, and the rest of the group is stable. The rest of the group is supportive.” You can be encouraged by that.

HGL: What kind of local group have you lead?

Melanie: We’ve been involved in all different types of groups over the years as we moved around. The group we are in now actually started out as a 4-H Club that grew into a support group. Right now, the group has about 270 members, and it’s pretty full service. We do everything in the world. . . there’s contact football in our area; we have band, art club, history clubs, everything.

And it’s a lot of work. That’s probably something a lot of homeschool leaders struggle with--is making sure there are enough people in leadership so that nobody gets burned out and developing those new leaders. Sometimes younger moms who have younger children have more free time. They’re not all wrapped up with getting their children into college, say. They can take the time to take on some tasks.

I know a young mom in our group started a group called Early Homeschoolers within our group. She eventually moved it within our group, and it’s been a blessing to have that focus on the younger children.

Next week, we will discuss with the Youngs the importance of leading your own children at home as you busily lead other homeschooling families. Become a follower of this blog to catch wisdom in your inbox every Wednesday from experienced and successful homeschool group leaders. It is our pleasure to make this available to you!

Kristen & Denise

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday's Wisdom: Hal & Melanie Young

Homeschool leaders and married authors Hal and Melanie Young speak it like it is . . . and they speak it straight from the heart.

Serving in state and local leadership for a combined 16 years, the Youngs love to encourage and challenge homeschool leaders to be bold for the cause we all believe in--the freedom to educate our children at home.

We recently caught up with the Youngs of Raising Real Men to ask them a few questions about leading at the state level, local level and at home. We will be bringing portions of this vision-packed interview to you over the coming weeks.

HGL: What drew you two to lead at the state level?

Hal: We had been leaders in a local support group before we moved to North Carolina. One of the first homeschooling families in North Carolina we got to know turned out to be members of the Board of Directors of North Carolina for Home Education. There was an opening that year, and they nominated us for the position of Secretary for the state organization, and we accepted. To our surprise, we were elected to that.

Melanie: The truth is that we really didn't know what we were getting into. We had no idea what all was involved and how much hard work it was going to be. But we found out that we really enjoyed it and that the rewards and blessings were worth it. The reason we stayed involved at the state level was because we wanted our children to be able to homeschool their children. Listen, we've got to preserve their freedoms and we've got to keep the movement strong. That's what kept us involved all those years. It's been twelve years that we've been involved in state leadership.

HGL: It seems that a lot of people in homeschool group leadership do not realize how much of what is accomplished at the state level trickles down and affects every single one of us in our homeschooling and in our groups. A lot of the success we enjoy on the local level comes from relationships built at the state level where the laws are made. How important is it for every homeschool group leader to be connected to a state group?

Melanie: It's very important for local leaders to be involved with the state group and to stay in touch with them, because there's a lot the state group can do that the local group can't. It's all a local group can do sometimes to take care of what they've got to take care of. It's too hard to keep an eye on the legislature, try to deal with public relations disasters and things. The state groups can put on a great big conference, bringing in top speakers from around the country. (What the state group does) is like pulling all of our strengths together to do things that are too hard for each individual group to do by themselves.

Great food for thought,
Kristen & Denise

Saturday, March 6, 2010

in the NewZone: FREE Leadership Seminar

This is the BIG NEWS this coming week. . . the Free Homeschool Leadership Seminar we are hosting online with our friend, JoJo Tabares of Art of Eloquence on Wednesday, March 10.

We invite you to join us if you've ever wondered how to motivate a teenager or how to avoid burnout or how to communicate in a way that gets positive results every time. If so, then this seminar has your name written on it.

These topics and many, many more will be explored this Wednesday during this info-and inspiration-packed hour with Kristen, Denise and JoJo.

We love leaders and what they do to serve the homeschool community each and every day, and this seminar is one way we want to give back to you!

Won't you join us?

Wednesday, March 10th
3:30pm EST/12:30pm PST
Here’s how to join in the call:

Listen via your computer:
Or call in via phone: (724) 444-7444 Call ID: 19736

Or you can sign up for a free TalkShoe account so you can join the chatroom while you listen in!

Do mark your calendars to attend because space is limited and this session will NOT be available to the general public as an audio afterward!

See you soon!
Kristen & Denise

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wednesday's Wisdom: Budgets Bring Relief

Homeschool CPA Carol Topp delighted us with a wisdom-packed interview for Homeschool Group Leaders. We have given you glimpses into this interview by posting small portions over the past month. Soon the complete interview will be available for you to order. Here are the series posts in case you missed one blog:

This series wrap-up as Part 4 contains Carol fearlessly tackling the important and difficult subject of money and budgets.

HGL: Carol, what is the final top tip you would like to share today to help leaders love leading for a long time?

Carol Topp: You may laugh--it has to do with money. It is called a budget. A lot of leaders think, "What?! I hate dealing with the numbers. I am a people person."

But what those numbers on a budget do is help you plan, sit down and look to the future. That can do a lot to reduce stress. If you make a plan and know what might be coming, it will help you set priorities. What is important to us in our group? Is it important that we keep the cost extremely low? That is going to be a very different budget than saying our priority is top quality. It helps you focus, plan and set your group's priorities. So, believe it or not--having a budget might sound like it is a limiting thing, and some people don't like budgets. But instead a budget can bring great freedom and relief from a lot of stress.

HGL: Haven't you also written a resource for leaders on creating a budget for homeschool groups?

Carol Topp: Yes, of course. I am a CPA! I have one called Money Management for Homeschool Organizations. It is not really a very long book at all. It is only about 40 pages. I talk about money management in a very small homeschool group or in a medium size group (meaning more than 5 families, but fewer than 20) or a large group (more than 20 families). I discuss the different things you need to do in each stage. Obviously, if you are small and have 5 families, there is not much needed. You can operate just on cash. By the time you are medium and large, you need a checking account. I have a lot of information in this book. You can find it here. It is an e-book that you get the day you order it.

To successful stewardship and stress relief,
Denise & Kristen