How to Help your Student Choose a College Major


by Dorita Deierlein

Did you know that according to Gallup poll data people who use their strengths are six times more likely to be engaged in their work and three times more likely to say they have an excellent quality of life?

One important step in the process of identifying a career based on your student’s strengths is choosing the right college major.

Is your high school student undecided when it comes to choosing a college major, or does he know what he wants to do? Selecting college majors and careers is exciting, but often involves uncertainty and questions. However, there are ways you as a parent can assist your student in selecting a college major.   Begin by seeking God’s direction as you and your student explore his God given strengths, values, and interests.

Explore Strengths

Strengths involve skills, qualities, and personal characteristics that come naturally. They are part of the way God designs us. In what area does your student naturally excel? Strengths can be hard for us to identify in ourselves so it can be helpful for your student to ask others to assist him in discovering strengths. What do friends, family members, and authority figures respect and appreciate in your student? Look for places of excitement, energy, enthusiasm, and motivation. Working in areas that utilize our strengths is motivating and energizing.

Identify Interests and Passions

What does your student love to do? What are his favorite courses in school? Think about activities where he has been so engaged that he lost all track of time. Have your student describe his ideal job. What would he find joy in doing each day? Also ask him what he doesn’t enjoy doing.  Being aware of what you don’t enjoy doing is helpful in giving direction.  Is it realistic that this interest can support your student, or is it more appropriate as a hobby?  Even if it is better suited as a hobby, there is often an element or theme of that interest that can be part of a college major or future job.

 Discover Core Values

What matters most to your student? Core values are traits or qualities that represent an individual’s highest priorities, fundamental beliefs, and core driving forces.  Knowing your core values makes decision-making easier and more effective. When we are in alignment with our core values we are living authentically and stress and frustration are reduced.

Practical suggestions for exploring careers and college majors

  • Have him identify three jobs that use his interests, values, and strengths
  • Talk with people who work in careers that interest him and encourage him to make appointments to shadow some of them
  • When he talks with people in careers of interest, suggest he find out what college majors prepared them for their work
  • Look for volunteer opportunities in areas that interest him
  • Research together the field he is considering

As you approach this season in your student’s life, be encouraged. Explore together and have fun discovering how God uniquely created your student. Approach this with a learner’s mindset and remember that your student will continue to acquire and build skills throughout his life. Encourage your student to also seek God’s direction.  He created your child with specific interests, values, and strengths and will lead you both as you seek His guidance.

What have you and your student discovered as you explored college majors?

Dorita Deierlein, former home schooling mom, now life coach, partners with students, young adults, parents, and empty nesters as they navigate life’s transitions and seek God’s next best step. To find out more about how Dorita can assist you contact her at dorita@doritalifecoaching or visit her website



Poetry Study: Anne Bradstreet, Puritan Poet

Literature is hardly a distinct subject, so closely is it associated with history, whether general or English…and it is astonishing how much sound learning children acquire when the thought of an age is made to synchronise with its political and social developments.

 A point which I should like to bring before the reader is the peculiar part which poetry plays in making us aware of this thought of the ages, including our own.                      —Charlotte Mason, Vol. 6


Our history and literature study, including poetry, is intertwined. As Charlotte Mason suggests, poetry helps illuminate history for us by letting us peek over the shoulder at the thoughts of those who came before us.

Please take advantage of this rich primary source material by including poetry — the very words of those living in the particular time period you are studying  in history — into your homeschooling.

 Anne Bradstreet, America’s First Poet

The first woman to be published in the U.S. and considered by many to be America’s first poet, Anne Bradstreet was actually born in England. Two years married, Anne braved the Atlantic and moved with her young Puritan family to Massachusetts Bay, where her husband and father were eventually each governors of this new United States colony.

Anne’s vivid, beautiful poetry is a window into the intentional strength and faith of the Puritan soul in response to the hardship of life in Colonial America.

Below is one of Anne’s poignant poems followed by lesson plan ideas to use for your elementary to high school-aged students.

Here followes some verses upon the burning of our house, July 10th, 1666.

by Anne Bradstreet

In silent night when rest I took,
For sorrow neer I did not look,
I waken’d was with thundring nois
And Piteous shreiks of dreadfull voice.
That fearfull sound of fire and fire,
Let no man know is my Desire.
I, starting up, the light did spye,
And to my God my heart did cry
To strengthen me in my Distresse
And not to leave me succourlesse.
Then coming out beheld a space,
The flame consume my dwelling place.

And, when I could no longer look,
I blest his Name that gave and took,
That layd my goods now in the dust:
Yea so it was, and so ’twas just.
It was his own: it was not mine;
Far be it that I should repine.

He might of All justly bereft,
But yet sufficient for us left.
When by the Ruines oft I past,
My sorrowing eyes aside did cast,
And here and there the places spye
Where oft I sate, and long did lye.

Here stood that Trunk, and there that chest;
There lay that store I counted best:
My pleasant things in ashes lye,
And them behold no more shall I.
Under thy roof no guest shall sitt,
Nor at thy Table eat a bitt.

No pleasant tale shall ‘ere be told,
Nor things recounted done of old.
No Candle ‘ere shall shine in Thee,
Nor bridegroom’s voice ere heard shall bee.
In silence ever shalt thou lye;
Adieu, Adeiu; All’s vanity.

Then streight I gin my heart to chide,
And didst thy wealth on earth abide?
Didst fix thy hope on mouldring dust,
The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?
Raise up thy thoughts above the skye
That dunghill mists away may flie.

Thou hast an house on high erect
Fram’d by that mighty Architect,
With glory richly furnished,
Stands permanent tho’ this bee fled.
It’s purchased, and paid for too
By him who hath enough to doe.

A Prise so vast as is unknown,
Yet, by his Gift, is made thine own.
Ther’s wealth enough, I need no more;
Farewell my Pelf, farewell my Store.
The world no longer let me Love,
My hope and Treasure lyes Above.

How to Read Poetry

No matter the age of your students, there are basic steps to reading poetry, as presented in How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. (This is a classic that should be read by all homeschooled high school students, in my opinion!) :-)

First, read the poem through the first time without stopping. Even though there are unfamiliar words and phrases, you will glean much more by first reading the poem through without stopping to figure out  the vocabulary.

Then, read the poem through a second time, but this time read it aloud.

Poetry’s inherent rhythm brings the words and phrases to life.  Now, you may start asking what the poem is saying.

The more you read it, the more the poem can speak to you.

For Younger Students

In true Charlotte Mason fashion, resist the urge to “teach” this poem. Instead, allow the poem to speak directly to your student. And this particular  poem will be more suitable for older elementary children than younger.

For elementary students, just focus on reading the poem. If you anticipate your student becoming frightened about your house burning down, remind him that during colonial times candles were used for light and most household items were of wood, so house fires were much more common than today. (Although we ALWAYS have to be careful of fire, etc…)

For an older elementary or middle school-aged student, read a stanza aloud, one at a time, and have your student narrate (tell back) what s/he has heard.  Record your student’s thoughts for each stanza.

After the narration is complete, you may ask your student to describe how the author feels about what happened, especially if this was not included in the original narration.  Your student  may also ask you questions about the poem, which is fine, but try to be brief in your answers. If your student shows particular interest in any poem, encourage questions, re-reading and further observation.

Of course, younger students will  miss the biblical allusions and will focus on the more ‘concrete’ aspects of this poem, as is normal for their stage of development.

You may choose to read other poems by Anne Bradstreet while studying the American Colonial period, as Charlotte Mason advocated reading one poet at a time, for six weeks or more.  For the younger set, focus mainly on reading and enjoying the poems.

For High School Students

High school students should initially approach the poem in the same way recommended earlier: first by reading the poem  in its entirety, without stopping; then reading the poem a second time, aloud, again without stopping.

Most high school students would benefit by reading this poem through every day for a week or more. As it is rich in biblical allusions and principles and Puritan theology, there is much here to be gleaned by the discerning student.

Assignment Possibilities (High School)

These are written to the student.

  • As you read through the poem, note at least eight examples of the dialect of the time period. Draw a line down the center of a piece of notebook paper and write the phrase or word on the left, as gleaned by your examination of the poem, and the meaning or spelling of the sample on the right, as it might be expressed in today’s language.
  • Read through each stanza of the poem, then write a summary of each in your own words.
  • As you read through each stanza, note any biblical allusions/principles. (There are several.) Make sure to identify and explain the allusion and for extra or Honors credit – add a Scripture reference.

Additional Assignment Ideas from our American Literature course:

  • Read an additional book of poetry by Anne Bradstreet, such as To My Husband and Other Poems.
  • Read at least one poem from each of the sections of the book and be prepared to discuss with your teacher what you learn about Anne from the sample of poems that you read.
  • After reading at least five of her poems, write two to three paragraphs about what you learn about Anne as a person. What is important to her? What did she believe? What did she love? What kind of person do you think she was?
  • Research Anne Bradstreet’s life and compare what you learn to what you discovered from her poetry. Were your observations accurate? How did they differ, if at all, from what you learned through research? Write two to three paragraphs discussing how your research compares to your observations from reading her poetry.
For additional reading on Anne Bradstreet:
For excellent reading concerning the Puritans, consider reading:


Is poetry something you enjoy reading at your house, or do you struggle to include it?

Christian literature based homeschool curriclum





One of the easiest things you could do


Do you remember crying as you read Old Yeller as a child? Or cheering as you read the part in Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates where his father finally…oops! I almost gave it away!

One of the easiest things you could do today to make your homeschooling more fun and effective this year is have your children read and/or listen to more high quality literature.

Literature-Based Learning with Living Books

Everybody knows that literature is a key component to education, whether you education using Charlotte Mason methods or not.

Especially “living books” — books written by authors with a passion for their subject, full of ideas ready to capture the imaginations of their readers.

But have you ever thought about why literature is so essential?


  • A great book provides pleasure to listeners and readers, sparks imaginations and develops thinking skills.
  • Literature provides a language model for those who hear and read it, paving the way for better writing in future years.
  • Reading and listening to living books build experiences in young readers.
  • Literature supports all areas of your language arts curriculum.
  • By reading about other’s problems, literature helps children deal with their own.
  • Reading about other races and cultures helps readers value others who are different from them.
  • Living books may easily be used to integrate subjects.
  • Literature helps us see the world more broadly and not just centered on ourselves.
  • Excellent literature will be enjoyed by several ages at the same time, making reading aloud an activity the family can enjoy together.
  • Reading excellent literature can teach many moral lessons and develop the character of readers and listeners.


Homeschool families have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to incorporate more literature into their curriculum, or even better, to use literature alone to educate their children.

Even if you aren’t yet ready to ditch your textbooks in favor of total learning using real books, add more literature into your homeschooling day! Your kids will thank you!

These are some of our favorites:


Literature for all ages

The Bronze Bow is the exciting story of an eighteen year old boy at the time of Christ who burns with hatred after losing his father. As he travels down the road to revenge against the Romans occupying Israel, he comes to learn that death was not his enemy. He begins to see that the exchange of hatred for love can be powerful…



Johnny Tremain is a somewhat arrogant young man who is a highly skilled silversmith in Boston just before the American Revolution. However, one day he has a tragic accident and is unable to continue his work. Finding a new occupation leads Johnny to rub shoulders with the men of the Revolution. As the story unfolds, Johnny becomes a major player in creating a new America, and learns quite a bit about humility in the process.


Amos Fortune is a compelling story of a fifteen year old boy who is captured, transported to America and sold as a slave. He dreams of freedom yet maintains his courage and his integrity. After 45 years of being a slave he finally begins to see his hopes revealed. The character and humility of this great man will inspire your children This is one of our family’s favorites! So inspiring!


Hittite Warrior tells the tale of Uriah, a Hittite boy living during the Old Testament Judges. He is on a mission after his family is killed by the Greeks. This book is full of history, action, war, and suspense. As you read you become immersed in the life of this young warrior as he comes to understand peace and forgiveness.




Literature for high school

Quo Vadis, which translates “Where are you going?” is set after the death of Christ, during the horrific reign of the Roman emperor Nero. Quo Vadis submerges the reader into Roman culture with its politics and intense persecution of the early church. This is a story of redemption and transformation; parts of it are based on the writings of Tacitus, a Roman senator (and therefore primary source) for this time period. don’t miss it!



Although Safely Home is fiction, it realistically portrays the persecution of Christians in China. An American business man travels to China to visit his former Chinese college roommate who is practicing Christianity. The reader comes to understand the heritage of the Chinese and appreciate their strength and courage as they live out their faith. The author forces the reader to know what it means to “take up your cross daily” as the story moves the American to a slow path of returning to his faith. One of my favorites!


Imagine a day without textbooks or workbooks! If YOU and your children are weary of multiple handouts and worksheets, then explore literature-based learning!

Do you have family favorites other than those I have mentioned? Please share in the comments!



Would you like someone ELSE to tackle teaching the dreaded high school research paper?

let someone else teach it

The only thing worse than writing a research paper yourself is the thought of teaching your high school student to write one.

I know! Been there, done that.

Here is your chance  to have someone else take this off your plate.

For TEN DAYS ONLY, you can enter to win one of three free courses for your high school student in writing a research paper using  our curriculum – The Steps to Writing a Research Paper.

To enter the drawing once,  sign up for the Classes by Beth mailing list. That’s it!

For a second chance at this $194 value, register your student for a class at CBB by July 31st.

All the details are here.

Don’t forget though — you only have 10 days to enter.



P. S. Your high school student should write two research papers during high school — you will have one of those out of the way after the fall semester if you should win!




How to Write Better in Five Minutes

How to Write Better in Five Minutes

#1 She was tired when she finished her paper at midnight.

#2 Sleepily, Mary slowly climbed under the cool sheets and let out a huge, satisfied sigh. Although she didn’t finish writing her conclusion until the clock chimed for the twelfth time, it was worth it. She couldn’t wait to hear what her political science professor thought of her innovative solution for immigration reform. 

What Makes Excellent Writing? 

First class writing can be hard to produce, but simple to spot. It immediately draws you into a scene.  What did you experience, if anything, while reading #1 above? What was different about #2? Did you ‘see’ a tired Mary get into bed? Did you ‘feel’ cool sheets…’hear’ the clock chiming?

Show, Don’t Tell

#1 tells you what happened, but #2 shows you what happened, as if you were there watching. #2 gives you ‘clues’ that Mary was tired, and that she finished her paper at midnight, without coming right out and telling you. A competent author will describe a scene, providing plenty of specific, sensory details that allow the reader to look over her shoulder at it. If it is well-written, the reader “sees” and “feels” what the writer wants her to “see” and “feel.”

Let’s take another example:

1. He was angry when he left.

 2. Miles stalked out of the house, muttering to himself.  The kids playing in the yard stopped mid-sentence, startled at the slamming of the car door and sound of squealing tires as he rounded the corner. 

Now it’s Your Turn

This is an ideal exercise for your late middle or high school student.  Or for you!

Rewrite one or more of the following sentences so they cause the reader to ‘experience’ a situation or person. First, read the sentence, then envision a scene based on it. Second, use specific sensory details involving the main character (What does s/he  see, hear, smell, feel, taste?) to tell the reader what you want him to know. You will probably use more than one sentence. Remember: “show,” don’t “tell.” Be creative!

Teaching tip: ANY changes in this direction will immediately improve your student’s writing. Don’t expect perfection on this first attempt – just keep working on it and over time it will come more naturally.

  • The girl was happy that day. 
  • The boy is sick. 
  • The book was scary. 
  • He was not happy to see that the tree in his front yard had been cut down while he was on vacation. 
  • Chris had a lot of school work to do.

Post Yours in the Comments

We would LOVE to see one or more of your student(s) (or your) answers posted in the comments. I will respond to any posted–and feel free to respond to anyone else’s post as well! Student’s love to see their work published!

Dana Wilson at Train up a Child Publishing


P.S. This lesson plan was adapted from our Middle School Daily Lesson Plans.