Tag Archives: middle school

Youth Mentoring

Y’all!  We’re SO excited!  And not just because Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal come back tonight.  OK, the hubs is not excited about GA & Scandal, but I am.  The reason that we are excited is because we are going to start mentoring middle schoolers at our church!

Over Labor Day weekend, the 3 of went on a retreat with our church.  It was for rising middle schoolers and their parent(s).  Lots of things occur when you leave elementary school and start middle, both physically and at school.  It was an awesome retreat and we got so much out of it!  We were the only couple in attendance; the other families had multiple kids so one parent went on the retreat with their rising middle schooler and the other parent stayed home with the other siblings.  The pastor’s wife approached us on the retreat and said she loved what she saw of us as a couple and as parents.  A new middle school mentoring program was forming and she thought we’d be perfect for it.

The youth pastor came over this afternoon and spent a couple of hours with us, explaining what the middle schoolers he’d talk with are looking for in a mentor and him listening to my idea of what we want to offer them.  He was quite surprised with my idea, which really surprised me.  I thought it was quite simple and fit in with what the MSers were needing.  He agreed that it’s exactly what they needed.  However, he’d never heard of anyone doing what I suggested and thought it was amazing.  😀  I guess we homeschoolers really do think outside the box!

Our church went out into the community and asked middle schoolers what they want/need in a mentor and they gave great feedback.  They need adults in their life to accept them, right where they are, without an agenda and their parents/teachers/coaches have agendas.  They feel over scheduled and they don’t want another planned activity.  They love to eat and they want to hear adults stories, to know that adults have gone through similar situations they have.

My idea was simple: we’d pick a day – once a week, once a month, whenever the house was fit for visitors, whenever – and we’d have an Open House.  Kids could stop by whenever it fit into the family schedule from, say, 11am to 7pm, on a given weekend day.  Or a school snow day.  Or from 4pm – 8pm on Wednesdays if there is a need to decompress during the school week.  We decide the frequency when the kids express their needs to us.  They could bring a bike or scooter and ride around.  They could toss a ball around.  They could play board games, they play with LEGOs, sit in a corner and read a book or just. do. nothing. and no one would bother them.  We would talk about whatever they want or not talk at all.  And we would be a vault for these kids.  We’d always have snacks out for them and at noon and 6pm we’d serve a meal.  If they wanted to help with the preparing of the meal, awesome, if not, they still get to eat. ;o)  We’d be a safe haven for them, without any scheduled activity, but full of love and acceptance of who they are, right where they are.

The youth pastor said, “It’s so…..organic!  No RSVP?  Just show up if they can?  I don’t even know how to create an activity without detailed planning!  You’ll have to help me.  But I know you’ll be great at this.  I love watching the two of you communicate together and your son is great.  We need to make this happen.”

The hubs and can’t stop smiling and telling each other how excited we are to get this going!

President in a Bag – Martin Van Buren



B finished 5th grade in May and we are now into 6th grade – middle school!  How is that possible?  I don’t want to dwell on it…

He enjoyed creating Presidents in a Bag so much in 5th grade, we’re continuing it in 6th grade, as well.  We should; we only got through 7 presidents in 5th grade!  But we learned so much, went on lots of field trips and connected with homeschool families, including joining a co-op.  Onward and upward!

Here are the 5 items B chose to represent the life of our 8th president, Martin Van Buren:

  1. Symbols for the Democratic & Republican Parties, the Donkey & the Elephant –  One of Van Buren’s greatest contribution to politics was in developing our modern party system.
  2. Fences – Van Buren was possibly our first example of a typical politician.  He would listen to all sides of an issue, acknowledge the pros and cons of both but wasn’t fond of choosing sides.  The issue of slavery in the US was a perfect example of him “sitting on the fence”.  He didn’t want to take a stand for either the North nor the South, because the other would be upset with him and, therefore, not vote for him.  Later in life, however, he did choose a side, and supported Abraham Lincoln after The Civil War began.
  3. A Treasure Chest – After three years, Van Buren was finally successful in passing the Independent Treasury Act in 1840.  President Jackson had destroyed the Bank of the United States and the Independent Treasure Act kept federal money out of local banks.  This act was the beginning of our current Treasury Department.
  4. A Passport – Van Buren was the first president to travel outside of the US after his presidency.  He’s also the 1st president to be born in the United States, the first one not of British decent (he was Dutch) and the only president whose first language was not English (he spoke Dutch before he learned English).
  5. A Hotel Symbol – Van Buren grew up in Kinderhook, NY (the town on which The Legend of Sleepy Hallow was based) and his parents converted part of their house into a tavern.  The tavern was on the road to Albany, the capital of New York, so many guests were politicians.  Van Buren listened to all the political talk going on.  He came to like politics and the fancy attire of the wealthy visitors.

Read about our other Presidents in a Bag:

#1 George Washington
#2 John Adams
#3 Thomas Jefferson
#4  James Madison
#5 James Monroe
#6 John Quincy Adams
#7 Andrew Jackson

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