The Highly Sensitive Person

Beth Ellen Nash’s session at the Cincinnati Homeschool Convention was called Thriving as a Highly Sensitive Person. She was speaking to those of us that have sensitive nervous systems, find it difficult to filter out stimuli, and are easily overwhelmed by our emotions and environment.  She was not speaking about sensory disorder.  Her website is

According to Elaine Aron, 15-20% of the population is highly sensitive.  It is an in-born trait and is completely normal.  It can be apart of the makeup of both introverted and extroverted people.  Extroverts and thrill seekers have an especially difficult time being highly sensitive, because they need social time with groups, or they need that physical stimuli; however, they are also overwhelmed by it – finding the right balance is hard.

Depth of Processing – One trait of highly sensitive people is having a deeper processing:

  • They prefer to process their experiences more deeply
  • They think about things more than others
  • Often come up with unusual, creative ideas
  • Unusually conscientious – deeply aware of failure
  • Prefers to decide slowly, mulling things over
  • Decisions are often right
  • thinks about long-term goals
  • Reflects about why something did or didn’t work

Highly Sensitive People are Overstimulated Easily:

  • noticing, feeling, thinking…about everything!
  • more easily overwhelmed
  • more easily stressed by noise, chaotic situations, deadlines
  • seeks quiet spots
  • prefers to work alone, or at home
  • benefits from a quieter working environment & more flexible deadline
  • hesitates to make plans, or turns down invitations
  • needs more downtime

Highly Sensitive People are Emotionally Reactive:

  • Reacts strongly to feedback – positive and negative
  • over-compensates, over-corrects
  • cries more readily than others
  • considerable empathy for others
  • worries more about how someone is reacting to a negative event
  • gives more positive feedback
  • pays attention to group morale
  • reacts quicker to feel anger, curiousity, sadness, anxiety or joy sooner (?)

Highly Sensitive People are Sensitive to Subtle Stimuli:

  • they notice things that others miss
  • arranges work and play spaces with special care
  • makes adjustments to that their environment is “just right”
  • Comments on others’ dress, or small changes in the environment or weather

Tips for the Highly Sensitive Person:

  • Set bedtime/morning routines
  • Identify triggers
  • Plan ahead!
  • Work around triggers
  • Investigate current stressors and solutions
  • Remember that these traits are gifts!
  • Take mini retreats
  • Engage in gentle exercise
  • Speak up.
  • If seeing a therapist, select someone that knows about HSPs.

A good morning routine can set the stage for the day.  The HSP should wake up 15-20 mins earlier than usual to begin the morning routine. Start with gentle stretching, yoga, or light calisthenics.  Spend at least 15 minutes centering self through meditation, progressive relaxation, or listening to meditation.  Eat a nourishing breakfast slowly.  Leave plenty of time to drive.

A good evening routine can positively influence quality of sleep.  An evening routine should start with calming activities: reading, uplifting books, writing, meditating, taking a bath, or having light discussions.  Avoid watching overstimulating or violent TV shows in the evening.  For 30 mins prior to going to sleep, turn off the day and go inward by meditating, listening to a relaxation audio, or whatever helps transition to restful sleep.


Teacher’s Toolbox: Transcripts

The full title of Janice Campbell’s session at the Cincinnati Homeschool Convention was  – Teacher’s Toolbox: Planning, Record-keeping, and Transcripts as a Blueprint for Homeschool Success.

Janice Campbell has a book called Transcripts Made Easy. She also has a website:

She heartily recommended doing the transcripts as you go. Include making a Class Profile, which is a short description of class descriptions, readings, assignments, grading criteria. Include booklogs and activity logs (extracurricular, field trips…) She gave us timeframes for updating records –

When to Update Records

  1. While planning high school
  2. At the beginning of each semester (15 mins each time)
  3. During the semester (5 mins periodically) – use a pocketfolder to put papers in
  4. At the end of each semester (30-60 mins tops)
  5. During the application process for college or other post-high school option

What to Keep

  • Notes or records in a pocket folder
  • written work with rubrics
  • test scores
  • work samples that show a progression: one from beginning, middle, and end.  One per subject per month.

What Must a Transcript Show

  • Highschool requirements met
  • Ready for admission to next stage of life: college, military, trade school, etc.

Recommended/Required Courses- see your state’s requirements

English – 4 yrs or units
Math – 3/4 yrs or units
Science – 2/3 yrs or units
History/Social Science – 3/4 yrs or units
Foreign Language – 2 years or units
Arts – 1/2 years or units
College Prep Electives – 1 or more
*120 hours of study = 1 grade point.  There is the credit hour, also called the Carnegie Unit, and the grade point (quality point)

First Impressions Count

  • Challenging courses
  • Consistent GPA range – over time
  • Descriptive course names
  • Comparable in form – 3 sections: identity, course records, basic info
  • Content reflects student’s individual interests and aptitudes

3 Transcript Sections

  • Identity: full name, school name, address, birthdate, dates of admission and graduation
  • Course Record: list of courses taken
  • Basic Information: grading scale, key to abbreviations, definition of hours in units

The “I Don’t Know” Child – Ask yourself: what was his skills? strengths? What was important to him? Equip this child for at least 4 years of college and a trade. She recommended the book Courage and Calling by Gordon T. Smith.

The “Too Many Interests” Child – ask yourself: does his interests go in cycles? what do they do that makes time stop?  She recommended the book S.H.A.P.E. by Eric Rees

Campbell explained how to name our courses on the transcript.  Look at the names of courses for secondary schools, college course names.  Also, your state page will have course names and descriptions.  The secondary school classification system can be found here-

She recommended keeping everything in a pocket folder and then cleaning it out throughout the semester.  Look for good beginning, middle, and end samples.

Use to calculate a Grade Point Average.

For college essays, see Essays that Worked book, with samples of good student essays for college admissions.

You can create your transcripts by semester or by subject.  Some colleges require one format or the other.  Some colleges want to know when each course was finished.  Parents – you can make your school a magnet school, such as STEM, art, etc.  You can name your school with your focus included, such as Smith School for (enter focus).

Job experience can count as an elective.  Foreign language: Latin is a plus for almost every field; but try to encourage some modern language.

Credibility Clinchers-make your transcript believable

  • Standardized tests: aptitude SAT or ACT, Knowledge for placement: AP or SAT Subject Tests
  • Co-op grades
  • Distance learning
  • College courses

Janice Campbell used Microsoft Word to keep her records in.  She recommended that applications be printed on cream or gray paper, sign and date in black or dark blue ink, send in a sealed envelope, which is separate from other documentation.  After graduation, submit a second, complete transcript with all grades and the exact graduation date.

Tips for Late Starters

Why Writing Isn’t a Subject

Andrew Kern’s writing session was called Why Writing is Not a Subject and Why Every Subject Needs Writing to Be Properly Taught.  As with anything that combines Convention with Andrew Kern, you never know what you’re going to get!  You might learn about writing, or you might not; however, whatever he decides to speak about, it’ll make you think!  Likewise, it’s hard to take notes and then decipher them into practical-speak, afterwards.  His words both feed and challenge the soul, but who can then make sense of it later?

Have you ever had an idea or a dream, and you think, “I’ll remember that and tell others later”? But then, sometimes moments, sometimes hours go by, and it fades away.  That is how I feel trying to type these notes.

So, I’ll stick with some practicalities that can apply anywhere, while leaving out all the thought provoking bits that evade me.

Kern challenged us – “Why so many subjects?”  Subjects are a tyrannical impulse in America.  Writing gets put into the category of “subjects”.  It is separated out.  I think the core idea here is that we do not need to be studying “subjects” and that writing is not a “subject” to be taught separately, but rather, it is something that can be woven in and through any course of study.

Kern explored the difference between Arts and Sciences.  The opposite of an Art is a Science.  Whereas Science seeks to know, and encompasses an area or domain of knowledge, Art is a way of making something and creating something beautiful.  We are all artists, always.  We are created in the image of a God who creates.

Kern began his session with the Bible verse, “I am the vine, and you are the branches.”  Later, he developed that thought into an analogy of learning, using a tree.  The trunk of the tree is the 7 Liberal Arts.  The branches are Science (which break into smaller branches, and smaller branches…).  The pith of the tree, the core of the trunk, is writing (rhetoric).  Earlier, he discussed broken branches, which are dead, and no longer a part of the tree.  Likewise, “subjects” (branches) die when separated from the trunk.


The quality of your learning is determined by the quality of your questions.  It is important to teach our children the right writings.  Writing can give the right questions, and the questions are simple and obvious.  The 5 Common Topics of Invention are specific questions that can apply to any subject, and help with writing:

  1. Comparison – how is (blank) like (blank)?  how is (blank) different than (blank)?  What are it’s qualities? quantities?
  2. Definition – here we can identify and name.  what is (blank)? who is (blank)? what kind of thing is (blank)? what are its parts? describe (blank).
  3. Circumstance/Context – what was going on at the time of (blank)? start small, get bigger.  when Caesar was assassinated, what was going on at his home? within the senate? what was going on in Rome? What was going on on planet earth? What was happening on Mars?  There is nothing that cannot be explored or compared.
  4. Relationship – what was the cause and effect?  why did (blank) do that? why is (blank) what it is? what was the effect of this?
  5. Authority (Testimony) – what do the experts say?  what do eye witnesses say?

These questions apply to everything.  Want a good lawyer? Develop a good writer.  (Sidenote: since I have learned the 5 Common Topics, I’ve been excited to use these questions in Bible study.  It’s amazing what kind of insight one can glean when reading a small paragraph of the Bible and exploring these 5 key questions. I truly believe if you are looking for a Bible study to do with your children – *this is IT!* Open your Bible, pick a book, and start asking questions.)

My amazing blogging friend and Convention cohort also wrote up notes on this session.  Go read it here at Cornerstone Home Learning.