Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Homeschool & Personal Progress


Can Personal Progress and homeschooling work together to help you and your daughter achieve your goals? 

Not long after my oldest daughter turned 12, I was called to serve as a Counselor in our Ward YW Presidency. She wanted to earn her Young Women Medallion (by completing the Personal Progress program), and said that she planned to do so within her first year. My husband and I (neither one being very familiar with Personal Progress) didn't think that this was a very good idea, and encouraged her to space Personal Progress out over the 6 years that she would be in the YW program.
She reluctantly agreed.

Soon after, I learned that YW leaders and/or mothers of YW could also complete Personal Progress and earn a YW Medallion. Since I was now both of those things, I wanted to complete the program as well (to set an example for the YW, but also because I had joined the church the summer after high school, so I was never able to participate as a youth).

So my daughter and I set out to work on the program together (which is HIGHLY encouraged by the Young Women General Presidency). Please note that unlike Eagle Scout projects, Personal Progress hours cannot be shared. So if you help your daughter work on a project (or anyone else helps her), her own contribution to the Project must be at least 10 hours. This also applies if you are both working on the same project (for example, if you are both sewing Halloween costumes for a project, you would each need to work at least 10 hours).

Part of Personal Progress is a series of short "Experiences" that are pre-set and the YW can choose from a variety of options (for example, there might be eight "Experiences" listed in the "Faith" section, and she gets to choose from those which six she would like to do). There is some  potential personalization there,  but the 8 big "Projects" (10-hour Value Projects) are even more "personal" - there are some suggestions, but for 7 out of the 8 Projects, the YW get to pick exactly what they want to do (to go along with the topic theme). This is where homeschooling works really well with Personal Progress...

What are you working on in your homeschool this year? How can you combine those things with Personal Progress so that you're accomplishing both at the same time?

Learning about Lewis & Clark? Would your daughter be interested in writing and putting on a play about Sacajawea, complete with costumes that she made as part of her "Knowledge" Value Project? 

Does your daughter want to start piano lessons this year? Maybe she could set a goal to learn 3 hymns or Primary songs that she could play in YW class by the end of the school year? That could be a "Faith" Value Project.

Another example would be if you are learning about American Government or Elections, you could find a way to do a project that gives a hand-on experience. One of the projects my daughter did was for the "Choice and Accountability" Value Project. It was an election year, so she contacted a local political party and began volunteering for their campaigns. She worked in the "phone bank" for over 10 hours, and also handed out stickers on  election day. She met several politicians and learned a lot about the political process. She was able to do this project pretty easily because of our flexible schedule, and it was a lot more memorable than just reading about politics in a book.

A good way to start matching up Personal Progress with what you are already planning for homeschool is to take a look at the categories of Value Projects and come up with ideas (together)  for Projects that she wants to do that coincide with her education. You can find a TON of  ideas for Projects online. A great source is "Personal Progress Helper"  (you can also search "Personal Progress Helper" on Pinterest).

Here is an example of the requirements for a 10-hour Value Project (this one is "Knowledge"):

Knowledge Value Project

After you have completed six knowledge value experiences, create a project that will help you practice what you have learned. This should be a significant effort that will take at least ten hours to complete. Prayerfully seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost to select a meaningful project.
Here are some examples of projects that could be done for the "Knowledge Value". Of course you'll want to make sure that each project takes the YW at least 10 hours, so sometimes that takes some creativity. I've also included (in red letters) how each idea could be tied in with schoolwork or school projects:
  • Ask a parent, grandparent, or ward member to teach you basic recipes. Make a recipe book from the recipes you learn, and cook one of the recipes on your own. Cooking skills, writing skills
  • Plan and grow a garden Science/horticulture
  • Hold a party for watching General Conference with your family or fellow Young Women. Plan snacks or a meal and spiritual activities for in between sessions. Organization skills, social skills
  • Interview friends, family, and ward members about how they gained a testimony of the gospel, and create a video sharing those testimonies. Technology, interpersonal skills
  • Learn how to cross-stitch and make something that describes your testimony of the gospel. Handicrafts
  • Learn a new skill and make at least three of the Christmas gifts you will give away this year using the new skill. handicrafts, cooking skills, service
  • Make white hair scrunchies for all of the YW in your ward to wear when they go to the temple for baptisms Sewing, service
  • Memorize the entire document: “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” Memorization, reading 
  • Compile a list of possible careers or college majors and study each one. Organization skills, research, reading
  • Sew a quilt or an article of clothing sewing skills
  • Sew scripture bags to give primary kids when they’re baptized, including your written testimony of the importance of studying the scriptures. sewing skills, writing, service
  • Start a book club that meets for an hour a month and run it for 10 months organization skills, reading
  • Contact an elderly relative (by phone, personal visits, or video-chat) and compile their life history. Type it out for them and give copies of it to your relatives. family history, interpersonal communications, technology


Here is a link to the blog that my daughter started (in 2012) to share what Projects she had done for Personal Progress. You might find some fun ideas there! http://personalprogressvalueprojectideas.blogspot.com/2012/11/choice-and-accountablity.html
Once I had a better idea of how Personal Progress works and that we could incorporate those 8 big Projects into our homeschooling, I realized that we could kill two birds with one stone and that my daughter could complete Personal Progress in one year if she wanted to. She finished in 12 months and I finished in 13 months*.

I don't necessarily recommend that every homeschooler try to complete Personal Progress in a single year. It was a stretch for my daughter to get it done in time to meet her goal, and that wasn't necessary. Maybe 2 or 3 years might work better for your YW, but you will need to be the judge of that, depending on your YW, her ambition, and how much you want to incorporate Personal Progress into your schooling. My main point is that homeschooling can help your daughter to work through the program at a faster pace, since you can combine Projects and school work (and perhaps be more flexible with your schedule than a public school student can).

*If you are working on Personal Progress as a mother, I definitely recommend letting your YW complete her program first - even if you have to slow down a bit to let her get ahead! It is, at the heart, a YW program, so while we can complete the program as adults, we want to be careful not to overshadow our daughter's accomplishment. 

FAQ:

"If my daughter finishes Personal Progress while she's a Beehive or Mia Maid, won't she be bored after that? What will she DO the rest of the time she's in YW?"

In previous editions of Personal Progress, YW had to complete different parts of the program at various stages corresponding with their age, (much like the current Duty to God program for the YM). There would be specific items to complete while they were a member of each class, then as they advanced in classes they could move on to complete the other sections. This sort of spread out the program over all 6 years that they are in YW, which had its advantages and disadvantages. Our modern version of Personal Progress does not restrict completing sections of the program to a specific age, so YW are literally able to work at their own pace. This means that a Beehive can complete the program "early," a YW could spread the program out over all 6 years, or a 17 year old new convert can start and complete the program during their senior year. Our Church leaders have made this change on purpose, and I feel that it is a great advantage that the YW can personalize their Personal Progress experience in this way.

Sister Neill Marriott of the General Young Women Presidency came to our region for a YW leader training a few summers ago, and she taught us that Personal Progress is not mandatory, so we should not try to force the YW to complete it,  but that we should encourage the YW to be working on some part of it. She also recommended that the YW who are interested in completing the program to try to finish before they turn 16. When they start driving (or even drivers ed),  dating, possibly working part-time, etc (and all of this in addition to their regular seminary, high school, and extracurriculars), SAT/ACT, college admissions, graduation preparations, they become very busy and Personal Progress may take a back-seat at that point. I've also heard many people suggest finishing before age 16 for the YM and their Eagle Scouts, for the same reason... the closer you get to high school graduation, the crazier things get.

Obviously, if a YW finishes Personal Progress before age 16, she still has several years left in the YW program, but this is not a negative thing. I asked my daughter (now a Laurel) if she felt that she ever had "nothing to do" because she finished Personal Progress as a Beehive. She just laughed, because she is very busy with callings/assignments, ward stake youth activities, social life/dating, family history, etc. She's also completed her "Honor Bee" (a supplement to the Personal Progress program that you can only work on AFTER you complete Personal Progress). We also have one Laurel in our ward who has chosen to repeat the Personal Progress program again (which is always an option). So really, there is no reason to worry about having "nothing to do" after completing Personal Progress, because there is ALWAYS something else to do! :)



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