The Congressional Award

A Secret Weapon for Rising Stars

congressional award, amazing kids, secret weapon

Most of us have heard of the Eagle Scout Award through the Boy Scouts. But what about the Congressional Award? If that one is unfamiliar to you, you’re not alone. Keep reading because this prestigious award is not only a bright gold star on any student’s resume, but the activities they do to earn it are life changing.

The Congressional Award was established by the United States Congress in 1979 to recognize initiative, service and achievement in young people. It is a non-competitive program open to all 14-23 year olds (kids can register at 13 ½ and start working on it at 14).

I first learned about the Congressional Award when my son was about to graduate from high school. By then, Chase had so much on his plate that it didn’t seem possible to add one more thing – or so I thought at that time. Looking back, that was really foolish on my part.

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 16 to 27. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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Weekly Leader — June 19, 2015

Out_Of_Box2
If this is your first time seeing the Weekly Leader, scroll down and read all about it below the line. Then pop back up to the top for next week’s suggestions.

Weekly Leader for the second week in June.

Mastermind Monday

As a family, think of 25 different ways to raise money.

TED Talk Tuesday

A performance of “Mathemagic”

*Note — You may not always agree with the perspective of a TED Talk, but rather than shy away from it, use it as an opportunity to explain why you don’t agree.

What’s Up Wednesday

The four lunar eclipses of 2014/2015

Think Tank Thursday

Have everyone in the family tell a story from their own childhood (even kids can tell stories from when they were younger).

Famous Friday

Charlie Brannock

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 5 to 29), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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You Can Do It — Find A Pre-College Program

pre-college-student

This summer, my daughter (a rising high school junior) will be attending a summer music intensive pre-college program at a prominent school of the arts. It’s a three-week residential program, where she will get a taste of college life, and have the opportunity to take classes and private lessons with other rising juniors and seniors.

At the end of the three weeks, she will have earned three college credits, had a chance to collaborate with other kids who are passionate about music and experienced a small taste of life in music college. Plus, it’s a great addition to her high school resume because it shows passion, commitment and accomplishment (as with any college program, kids typically have to be accepted into these too).

To find the right programs for your kids, start by looking at your student’s top choices for college. If they have pre-college opportunities, it could be a chance for your student to network with school faculty and get a feel for what the school is really like. You can also Google “pre-college programs for [your child’s interest] .”

Consider also looking into programs that will strengthen a particular skill set your teen might need for her intended major. For example, if your daughter wants to be an interior designer, she will need a strong art portfolio. Consider finding a good summer pre-college art program. If you have a child who wants to be computer programmer, strong math skills might be important. Look for a summer math intensive at one of her top choice universities.

Counting the Cost

These programs can be pricey, but don’t let that discourage you. Many offer scholarships, and if you start planning early enough, kids can raise their own money. Crowd funding sites like Go Fund Me can help them raise money. They could also sell old clothes and other household items online or use income from a small business.

One way that my daughter raised money for her summer program was by doing henna tattoos. She also used crowd funding and received a partial scholarship.

Planning ahead can make every opportunity available to every kid who knows what they want!

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Weekly Leader — June 12, 2015

Out_Of_Box2
If this is your first time seeing the Weekly Leader, scroll down and read all about it below the line. Then pop back up to the top for next week’s suggestions.

Weekly Leader for the second week in June.

Mastermind Monday

Think about a few ethical dilemmas, such as “How would you handle it if a group of friends were making racist jokes?” or “What would you do if you found a wallet with cash in it?” Write them on strips of paper and pass them around at the dinner table. Have each person read their dilemma and talk about it.

TED Talk Tuesday

Science is for everyone, kids included

*Note — You may not always agree with the perspective of a TED Talk, but rather than shy away from it, use it as an opportunity to explain why you don’t agree.

What’s Up Wednesday

Water shortage in California

Think Tank Thursday

Make a list of all the things that you would like to do as a family before everyone leaves the nest.

Famous Friday

Margaret Knight

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 5 to 29), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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A New Definition for Leadership

Leadership

When we think of a leader, we might picture an elected official or the head of a company. Often we imagine someone in an influential role. And that’s not wrong because leadership is influence.

But there is perhaps an even better definition for  leadership — one that can help us see that every single person has the potential to be a leader. The definition came from Dr. Tim Elmore, leadership expert and president of GrowingLeaders.com. Dr. Elmore was a guest on our radio show last Saturday, and he has said that leadership is “solving problems and serving people.”

We have heard parents say that their child is not destined to be a leader, and it’s true that not every kid is going to be a CEO or a politician or even a team captain. But every child can solve problems, and every child can serve people.

As parents, we can do things to intentionally groom this in our kids.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Creative Is the New Intelligent

Creative

Creativity and imagination are the keys to the future. They will solve our energy crisis. They will continue to make our lives and work more powerful. If you had told me when I was a kid that I could stand on a street corner and talk on a phone to someone on the opposite side of the planet, I would have thought you were crazy.

Ever watch the Jetsons cartoon? I don’t know about you, but I didn’t expect to see their technology in my lifetime. I still doubt that I will ever replace my car with a flying mobile, but the Jetsonian flatscreen TVs are a part of our every day life. Video chat is also here. And although we don’t have personal robot maids who are part of the family, Honda’s Asimo robot can walk, talk and have basic human interactions. It will probably be a another lifetime before we can shrink our vehicles to a brief size as George Jetson could, but nanotechnology is a fast growing field that will surely make new and amazing things possible in years to come.

It is all the product of imagination and creativity, but he question for parents is this: “How do we help foster this in our kids?”

We would say that it starts with boredom. Author Nancy H. Blakely, said it much better than we could:

“Preempt the time spent on television and organized activities and have them spend it instead on claiming their imaginations. For in the end, that is all we have. If a thing cannot be imagined first — a cake, a relationship, a cure for AIDS — it cannot be. Life is bound by what we can envision.

I cannot plant imagination into my children. I can, however, provide an environment where their creativity is not just another mess to clean up but welcome evidence of grappling successfully with boredom. It is possible for boredom to deliver us to our best selves, the ones that long for risk and illumination and unspeakable beauty.

If we sit still long enough, we may hear the call behind boredom. With practice, we may have the imagination to rise up from the emptiness and answer.”

– Nancy H. Blakey, author of a number of books, including Mudpies: Recipes for Invention;101 Alternatives to Television; Lotions, Potions and Slime; and Boredom Busters, all from Tricycle Press

Parents can certainly turn off the TV or limit time on social media and video games. We can create open space (physically and mentally) for our kids to wander through, but once we establish an atmosphere of boredom, we also have to provide the resources and the encouragement for kids to explore and create.

Here are a handful of posts to give you some ideas. Click through, and try a few new things to cultivate imagination in your home.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Aim Kids For Success With Project Management Skills

Aim_For_Success

The corporate and the academic worlds are moving toward a more project-based environment. So as our kids grow up, they’re going to need strong project management skills, and we can begin teaching them some of the basics by showing them how to look at their to do list to find mini projects: papers for school, putting together a vendor booth for their small business, planning a birthday party.

What Has to Be Done?

  • Teach kids to ask, “What exactly needs to be done?”
  • They should be clear and concise because being vague clouds vision.
  • Then they should define any related goals and be specific.

My fifteen year old has a successful henna tattoo business, and she gets a good amount of business from booths at various fairs and events around town. For these booths, she has to have a table with good signage. She needs pictures of her work, brochures, business cards and pricing information. Her goal is obviously to do tattoos at the event and make money, but it’s also to network for future business. That means she has to provide information on weddings, pregnancy belly tattoos and home parties (which tend to bring in good money). Her goal is to leave an event with at least three bookings — one to replace that day’s event and two to grow her business.

When our kids are defining their goals and tasks, they need to think about what they want the end result to look like.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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I Don’t a Have a “Thing”

What’s your “thing”?  Mine is writing and reading. Give me a day to myself, and I’ll pack a book, a magazine, a journal, and a pen, and head over to the beach. I have a friend whose thing is photography and scrap booking. She recently told me she feels called to tell her family’s story. My husband’s thing is clearly music – it’s his part-time job, his ministry, and his hobby.

Our kids have a thing too. Actually, my daughter has a few! She loves horses, singing, knitting and crocheting. Our oldest son loves Disney and Pixar movies. He’s got entire scripts memorized, and Seth (our 3rd child) loves science. Give that boy a microscope and tweezers, and you won’t see him for the rest of the day.

But on Friday, when I took my fourth child out on a date to celebrate his seventh birthday, it dawned on him that something was missing.  After devouring a cup of Coldstone, the best ice cream on planet earth, we headed down Main Street to Toy Lab.  He had $50 to spend from my grandparents, and I was thrilled to watch him spend it.  What could be more exciting to a 7-year-old than free reign in a toy store?

Just through the front door was the Ugly Doll display. Sam slipped past it, and grabbed a basket to hold all of his loot. Then he made a bee line back to the Ugly Dolls to get the Picksey key chain he’d been waiting for.  It was $6.

We walked carefully up and down each aisle as he deliberated. For a moment he held a hula hoop. “This would be fun.” But after further thought, he put it back. “They have these at kid’s church, and I probably wouldn’t use it much at home.” [2013 update – Sam is the hula hoop champion! Last year he was the last one standing at the Busch Gardens hula hoop show down.]

Every other toy he considered found a similar fate. For one reason or another, he decided it wouldn’t be a good choice. Finally, he turned to me and asked, “Do you think G.G.’s feelings would be hurt if I didn’t spend the money? I’d rather save it for when I find something I really, really want.”

He handed the clerk a $20 bill for his Picksey key chain, collected the change and led me out of the store. When we hit the sidewalk, Sam’s shoulders slumped, and he looked at the ground, clearly feeling sad.

“What’s the matter, Sam?”

“I don’t have a thing. Everyone else has a thing, but I don’t.”

He was right, I guess.  We hadn’t yet figured out what he loves and what he’s passionate about, and that made birthdays and Christmas difficult for Sam. Whenever people asked us what he’d like, we’d strain to find an answer. And although he’s always grateful, there’s a subtle sense of disappointment in every gift. If you didn’t know Sam, you’d probably miss it, but it’s a parent’s joy to bless their kids, and we’ve never really experienced that gift-giving bliss with him. When someone doesn’t have a “thing,” it’s hard to give a gift.

Outside Toy Lab, I squatted down next to my sweet boy, looked up at his big sad blue eyes and asked if he wanted to get a slice of pizza and talk about it. Maybe together we could figure it out.

Sipping our soda in cushy booth at Pantellini’s, waiting for our pizza, we talked about the school year.

“What’s your favorite class this year, Sam?”

“Hmmm…Oh, I know.  Latin.”

“Latin? Really?”  I was surprised. He doesn’t strike me as the Latin kind of kid.

“What is it about Latin that you like?”

“I like Ms. Josie. She’s a really nice teacher.”

“Oh, I see. Okay, well what I meant was, of all your classes this year, which one has the most fun things to do?”

“Well…let’s see…Oh! I love 50 States and GeoGang.”  This was more like it. Both are very hands-on, project-based classes.

“Great. What do you like about these classes?”

“Miss Elaine is such a great teacher, and I love Miss Angie, and my friends are in both classes.”

He was missing the point.  Or so I thought.  Actually, for the first few moments, I was missing the point, but then it dawned on me.

“Sam! Your thing is people! You love people, Sam.  That’s your thing.”

He looked up with a huge smile, and his blue eyes sparkled with an epiphany. That’s it! He is all about the people, and he knew that I was right. He’d found his thing.

“I know what I want to be when I grow up,” he said, little finger in the air and mouth open wide.  “I want to drive an ice cream truck. Then I can go to all different houses and meet the kids, and they’ll be so happy when I give them ice cream.”

“That’s a great idea, Sam.  You would be the best ice cream truck driver.”

In light of our revelation, it was no surprise that the highlight of our date, for Sam, was our trip to Picasso’s Moon, our favorite little knitting shop. We each brought something to knit and sat in the cozy shop, chatting with the ladies. Sam soaked in their attention, and they were pleased to give it. Who wouldn’t want to gush over an adorable little boy who likes to knit?

He hasn’t spent the rest of his birthday money, and I’m not sure he ever will, but he got the best gift he’s ever received.  For his 7th birthday, Sammy got his “thing.”

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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