The Twilight Zone (Homeschool Edition)

hs edition twilight The show never appealed to me much. I really don’t care for scary or creepy movies. Plus, frightening and sinister thoughts do not make Paul’s list to the Philippians of things we are to think upon (Philippians 4:8). However, the other day I felt like I stepped into the Twilight Zone.

It happened like this.

We were pleasantly surprised with 3 inches of snow last week. So like every good homeschool mom I suggested we put up the books, get out our coats and gloves, and go visit some friends. On the drive Abigail (my turns-14-in-a-few-weeks, wonderfully sweet, precious, a little OCD, and only daughter) said, “Mom, I’m NEVER going to get all my school work done!”

Where in the world did this come from? I was geared up for a fun day of visiting a friend over a cup of coffee while the kids played.

“Abigail, it will be okay,” I said, “We can take Friday to catch up on school this week.”

To which she replied, “We just take off too many days! It will be the middle of summer before I’m done with all my work.”

WOW! I was stunned. We take off too many days? What child says that? I’m a pretty relaxed homeschooling mom. We typically get all of our work done by Thursday, taking off Friday for errands, field trips, etc. Plus, we’re almost always finished with the school year by the end of May. I never wanted to be one of these “stick-to-the-schedule no matter what the cost” type of moms. I don’t want to “cram” lessons into my children, but let them enjoy learning. I don’t want to be ruled by the curriculum. I don’t want society, expectations, or anything other than the Lord and my husband dictating our weekly agenda. Homeschooling should be a lifestyle, not something we add-on to our life but who we are. Success isn’t gauged by finishing a book or taking a test, but whether or not I have given my children a love for the Lord and a love for learning.

“Would it make you feel better if you knew that some of the schools around closed for the day?” I said.

“Yea, a little”, my sweet daughter finally acknowledged.

The kids built a snowman, constructed a fort, had a snowball fight, drank hot chocolate and enjoyed the day. And that night, my daughter stayed up late doing her schoolwork.

We are quite opposite in many ways. She wants to stick to a schedule. I want to go with the flow. She wants all her schoolwork written down. I want to “do the next page.” She wants structure. I want freedom. She wants to sit at a desk with her books neatly stacked up. I want to work in the recliner or couch with a cup of coffee and my feet propped up. But I am so thankful for her. She’s just like her daddy, and the Lord knows that I need that structure here throughout the day. While I am certainly not an “unschooler,” I sure appreciate their style. But my daughter helps to create in me a beautiful balance.

Am I too relaxed? Maybe, just a bit!

Am I happy and enjoying my children and this wonderful season of life? Absolutely!

So now that I think about it, I didn’t step into the twilight zone at all. It was just a normal homeschool day where I learn as much as my children do.

snow kids snow day kids snow

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Hey Girl, You Better Guard Your Heart!

brokenheart There is a disturbing phenomenon circulating on Facebook and Pinterest. It is the “Hey Girl” photos with Ryan Gosling. Have you seen them? The pictures feature Mr. Gosling in a provocative pose, many times shirtless, addressing the very heart of women. The ones I have seen are disturbing in that they are geared toward wives, stay-at-home moms, and homeschoolers.

The photos have captions like:

• Hey girl, I loved your blog post today.
• Hey girl, Go rest those tired eyes and I’ll take care of the explosive diaper.
• Hey girl, You know I’m getting jealous of that body pillow.
• Hey girl, I don’t need fancy dinners, I love the way you cook Kraft dinners.
• Hey girl, sure I’ll take another day off from work to go on a field trip with you and the kids.
• Hey girl, I love how you manage to tie in our morning devotional with algebra.

In a society where marriages are under attack and fewer and fewer actually survive, the whole issue is troublesome. If it were a just a trend of the world I would not worry. But since many of my online associations are professing Christians, I have to conclude that many Christian wives are looking at and promoting these photos.

Faithfulness is key for a Christian marriage to not only thrive, but glorify God. No doubt marital infidelity can destroy a marriage, but what about infidelity of the heart?

Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart,” Matthew 5:27-28.

Is it really prudent to look at a picture of a good-looking man saying things that you wish your husband would say?

Let’s ask like this: Would you want your husband looking at a picture of a good-looking woman saying things that he wished you would say to him?

The lies of the world are clever. They whisper, “It’s no big deal.” But, the enemy is subtle; he desires to destroy your marriage. Guard your heart; God is very concerned with the condition of it. Love your husband for who he is and glorify God through your marriage. The world is watching!

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life,” Proverbs 4:23.

The Importance of Teaching Ephesians 6:1-3

eph 6Driving home with a friend the other day, we were talking about all the expectations placed on homeschool families. My friend, who is in the beginning stages of homeschooling, stated that she felt as though she had to prove something. This thought is normal. Often the world will look into our home and our choice of education and place lofty standards on us and our children. Sometimes, due to the “pride of life” (1 John 2:16), we raise the expectations ourselves. But if we could just lay the world’s standards and our own pride aside, we would find such freedom.

Homeschooling should be simple. It should be a lifestyle that creates in our children a love for God and learning along with a mindset of always pursuing knowledge. I have never wanted school to take place from 8 to 3 on Monday through Friday. I don’t want their education to just be from Kindergarten to 12th grade. I want my children learning every day of their life. Following the world’s standards will often lead to filling their minds with useless information. I don’t want to fill their minds; I want to shape their hearts and point them to God. I want to create in my children a desire to learn all they can for God’s glory. I want them to excel in reading good literature, to chase after truth in science, to discover the world through God’s eyes (HisStory), and I want them to use their writing and communication skills to change the world.

Simple right?

The concept of lifestyle teaching for God’s glory is certainly simple. It’s just hard at times. But isn’t all of parenting? A parent’s role in teaching their children is crucial. This is true whether or not we are homeschooling. So, with all the teaching we do, there is one imperative lesson that needs to be taught. This one lesson needs to be given first and foremost. It is found in Ephesians 6:1-3.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”

This commandment is the foundation upon which successful teaching is built. Ephesians 6 gives two commands for children. They are to obey and honor. Obedience is an action. Honour is an attitude. It is to our children’s detriment if we fail to teach them this fundamental lesson. A child who does not learn to consistently obey their parents will struggle in life. It will not go well with them (Ephesians 6:3). They will also struggle in their academic studies if obedience is a problem. But even more important than that, if we fail to teach our children to honor and obey us, they will not learn how to honor and obey God. A lack of proper respect and obedience for those in authority will transcend into a lack of proper respect and obedience for the Highest Authority – God Almighty.

But society in general rebels against authority, doesn’t it? But like it or not, authority is a large part of life. We are always under some type of authority. Children must learn to submit to the authority of their parents. Christian wives must learn to submit to the authority of their own husbands. Husbands must learn to submit to the authority in the workplace. We all should submit to church and governmental authority. All believers must submit to God’s authority. Even unbelievers will one day submit. “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God,” Romans 14:11. (Sadly, by the time an unbeliever learns to submit to God’s absolute authority it will be too late for them.) Submission to authority is a reality of life. And it is one that has been under attack since the beginning of time.

Today we see unnecessary heartache because of the lack of understanding biblical authority. There are miserable parents who have failed to teach this truth to their children and who are reaping the consequences. “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame,” Proverbs 29:15. There are husbands and wives who are struggling in their marriage because they have never been taught proper authority or have simply chosen to ignore it. “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it,” Ephesians 5:24-25. There are churches that are spiritually dying due to sin in the camp and a refusal to lovingly establish the authority of church discipline. “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened,” 1 Corinthians 5:6-7a. Untold numbers of boys and girls live in daily turmoil at home and with society because no one taught them the truth of authority. Thousands of men and women are in prison today because they did not submit to proper authority. Do you see the importance of authority?

The first four commandments given to Moses in Exodus 20 were between man and God, the next six between man and mankind. “Honour thy father and mother” was the first commandment that relates to our relationship with others. It was also the first commandment with promise – “thou mayest live long on the earth.” God saw this commandment as important. Don’t let your children disobey or dishonor you. It fabricates a weakness in their life that will be hard to overcome. Love them enough to teach them the importance of authority, honor, and obedience. In doing so, you will be pointing them to the Highest Authority – God Almighty.

Top 10 Homeschooling Websites

A generation ago, the homeschooling movement was considered to be at best cutting-edge, eccentric, and alternative.  At its worst it was considered strange, rare, and in some states illegal.  But today the movement has become more main-stream.  Currently with over 2 million home educated children, homeschooling may be the fastest growing form of education in the United States.  I consider being able to teach my children at home a wonderful privilege, a huge responsibility, and an awesome calling from God.  With the loving support and encouragement from my husband and the amazing grace of God, we have been homeschooling for over 10 years.  Each year brings new experiences, creates wonderful memories, and brings our family closer together.

With us starting back to school on Monday, my husband and I have spent the last few weeks pouring through our curriculum, praying for wisdom, and writing out schedules and lesson plans.  I have also spent a lot of time online so I thought I would share my Top 10 Favorite Homeschool Websites with each of you.  Hope you enjoy.

http://www.hslda.org/

Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms.  If you are a homeschooler and not a member, I highly encourage you to join today.  HSLDA is a Christian organization, inexpensive and well worth the peace of mind.

http://www.donnayoung.org

I love this website.  It has free printables and resources for home, homeschool, and classrooms.  It has everything from lesson planners, calendars, chore makers, and much more.  Check it out!

http://www.homeschoolclassifieds.com

If you are looking to buy or sell used homeschool curriculum this is the website for you.  It’s easy to use and saves tons of money.  Not only have I’ve purchased curriculum this week, but I’ve made $120 selling used curriculum.

http://homeschoolenrichment.com/

By far this is the best Christian homeschooling magazine out there.  Don’t believe me?  See for yourself and sign up today for their FREE digital magazine.

http://www.booksshouldbefree.com/

I love the concept behind Books Should Be Free.  This website has tons of free public domain audiobooks and eBooks.  You can download books for iPhone, Android, Kindle, and mp3 layers.

http://www.lamplighterpublishing.com/

Okay, I agree that books should be free.  However, if you are going to buy them, this is the place to do so.  Lamplighter Publishing is my all-time favorite place to get books and their dramatized audios are excellent.  They are costly, but well worth the investment.  Our collection is something I will hold on to.  One day I can see myself reading them to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren!

http://www.khanacademy.org/

“The Khan Academy provides a free world-class education for anyone anywhere. All of the site’s resources are available to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology. The Khan Academy’s materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.” (from their website)

I really like this website.  It has over 3,000 videos from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and practice problems to go with them.  Best of all – IT’S FREE!

http://www.handwritingworksheets.com/flash/cursive/index.htm

Anyone who has children learning to write is cursive will want to visit this site.  You simply type in what you want and it generates the worksheets for you.  Just print them out.

http://www.oldfashionededucation.com/index.html

You’ll find here a directory of free homeschool curricula, literature and text books organized for the use of homeschooling families.  There are lots of good resources here.

http://www.homeschoolconvention.com/

Home Educating Family has put together this website.  It is a great place to look up curriculum reviews, visit their online convention, check out their magazine, and much more.

 

So here it is, my top 1o.  Of course, there are so many great products and resources out there that it was hard to pick just 10. Did I miss your favorite website?  Leave a comment and share with the rest of your homeschooling friends.   Blessings!

Homeschooling, Teens, & Formals

Our family started the homeschooling journey when my son was just 4 years old.  Our first goal was to teach him how to read.  From there we decided that we would travel the path one step at a time and each year at a time.  Back then, my husband and I weighed all the advantages and disadvantages to homeschooling.  What would my son miss out on?  What benefits would he loose? Would he still get to participate in various programs and sports?  What about friends?  What about Prom?

Looking back I can definitely say that we made the right decision.  Our goals for our family encompassed so much more than a few opportunities.  We had discipleship in mind.  And by the grace of God, we feel as though we have been on the right path all these years.  Sure, we stumble by the wayside some days; sure we struggle to climb those high hills, but God has been with us each step of the way, guiding our family.  With that said, the advantages have far outweighed the disadvantages.  It has become clear that homeschooled children have just as many opportunities for education, programs, and sports.  As far as friends are concerned, this has never been an issue.  My children have always had friends of all ages in abundance.  From neighbors, to friends at church, to homeschooled peers, God has always provided friendships.  And when it came to things such as prom and formals, I had decided many years ago that it would not be that big of deal if my children missed them.  After all, as Christians, why do we feel like we need to do the same things the world does?

Now fast forward to today.  Who knew that I would blink my eyes and be standing here with a 15 year old young man asking if he can go to a dance?  A local homeschool group hosts a Spring Formal every year and Abigail (my 13 year old) asked if she could go.  My first thought was “absolutely not.”  But, I had someone send me the information anyway and as it turned out, she was too young.  There, problem solved….until Aaron asked to go.  This surprised me.  So, I pulled back out the information and looked at it again.  Here is what it said,

Home schooled high school students (gr. 9-12), alumni, parents and friends, join us for a Christ-honoring formal event! Don your favorite formal wear and enjoy an evening of fellowship and fun~

Did you catch that?  This would be a “Christ honoring” event.  I kept reading.

MODESTY is of ABSOLUTE importance. We are a CHRISTIAN community of worshipers of the ONE TRUE GOD OF THE BIBLE. We may not agree on everything but we can  agree on the importance of honoring God in the way we present our bodies as a  living sacrifice and the importance of not causing our “brothers to stumble”

LADIES…please do not wear plunging necklines or backless dresses.  Straps on your dress need to be thick enough to be recognizable as straps. “Spaghetti” straps are not okay.  If you have a dress that you really want to wear and are unsure if it passes the “modesty” test…wear a shawl, shrug or jacket that will remain on during the entire evening.

GENTLEMEN… .please wear belts…we DO NOT want to see ANY of your underwear. 

Okay, so I liked what I read.  Then after speaking to a mom who has attended every year, Dana and I decided that we would go with Aaron.  And he was happy to have us tag along. (I know this because I asked if it bothered him that we were going.  He said, “Oh course not, why would it?”)  We decided that if we liked what we saw we would let Abigail go with us next year.  I’ve had several other mom’s ask me to share my thoughts about the evening.  So here goes.

My Thoughts

I will admit that I went into the evening somewhat skeptical.  My first impression was that it looked like my own high school prom, from the decorations to the flash photography. But upon closer examination, I did notice a couple of significant differences.  The first was the amount of adults.  While I am not sure of the numbers, there seemed to be 100-150 people there.  And it looked to me that there were as many adults as there were youth.  I was thrilled to see all the alumni and parents.

The second thing I noticed was how the young ladies dressed.  Most of the young ladies (90%) followed the dress code.  A few did not.  But for the most part I was very pleased with how modest all these young girls looked in their beautiful formals.

 One of my favorite dresses was of this young lady who sat at our table.  She was accompanied to the dance by her father who wore a matching camouflage shirt.  It was precious.

The evening began with pictures and then a sit down meal.  I had Chicken & Shrimp sautéed in a pesto cream with plum tomatoes and fettuccine.  Aaron and Dana had sautéed chicken breast finished with a Marsala mushroom sauce served with mashed potatoes and green beans.  It was good.  There were several games afterwards and the music started at around 9 p.m.  Before the music began there was another reminder to the group that we were a Christian organization and that everything we did needed to be Christ honoring.

Let me first say that our family listens to very little secular music.  If you don’t count Veggie Tales or Tim Hawkins songs, you could say we listen to NO secular music.  Music stirs the soul.  I believe that it will either stir your soul towards God or away.  (You can read my full opinion on music here.)  So, I really wasn’t sure what my thoughts would be on the music.  The music ranged from a techno version of the Cotton Eyed Joe to Elvis Songs to the Macarena with lots in between.  My husband has an app on his phone that picks up the lyrics to any song played and we noticed that one of the songs toward the beginning of the evening had a bleeped out “F-word”.  While I was glad it was bleeped out, I really didn’t see a point in the song being played.  It might have, however, just been an oversight with those who put the playlist together.

Most all of the dancing was group dancing, like the Cha Cha Slide.  There was some Waltz (with instruction) and the Swing dance.  I would have personally liked to see a lot more ballroom dancing throughout the evening.  But, it appeared that the dancing was as innocent as dancing could be.  I didn’t see a lot of “coupling”.  There just wasn’t a big romance theme going on.  The youth were simply having fun, enjoying the fellowship.  I did see a lot of dads/daughters and moms/sons dancing together.  That was nice.  One thing about homeschooled children is that they are rarely cliquish and always friendly.  I was reminded again of this during the evening.  Everyone seemed welcome and no one really looked excluded.

(Aaron & a couple of friends)

Overall, I would equate the dance to “empty calories” – you know, potato chips, ice cream, cookies.  These things taste good, but provide no real nourishment.  I did not walk away saying, “Wow, I’m so thankful my child had this opportunity!  This has really added to his life in a very meaningful way!”  Nor did I walk away from the evening saying, “Wow, I wish we had never attended.  This was a huge mistake!”  I walked away thinking that it was okay.  Aaron enjoyed the evening.  I enjoyed seeing him dressed up.  The fellowship was nice.  He enjoyed his friends, made new ones, and was able to experience the whole formal evening in a safe environment.  I really appreciated all the work that was put into the evening to make it a nice event for the whole family.

(Father & Son)

So the bottom line is that each family needs to make their own decision based on their convictions.  Will we go next year?  Probably so, chances are Dana and I will take both Aaron and Abigail.  While this is not something we would just drop our children off at, going as a family will be an enjoyable event we will look forward to each year.

State Testing, Standardization, and Godly Standards

With state testing approaching, I’ve had a lot of questions from homeschooling parents about how to prepare and the overall process.  I must say that I am hardly an expert on the subject.  My 15 year old took the Arkansas state test when he was in 3rd grade. After that we moved to a state that did not require state testing.  Now that we have moved back to Arkansas, my children are required to take the standardized tests.  So, we picked up some practice booklets this week.  We got them mostly so the children could practice.  After all, Abigail and Andrew have never “filled in bubbles”.   

When we talk about standardized testing, here is what I want Christian homeschooling parents to know.  If being “standardized” is conformity to a standard, then we need to decide as parents what standard we want our children conformed to.  I wrote an article for Homeschool Enrichment a couple of years ago called Whose Standards Do We Follow.  It is posted below.  I hope that as you are preparing your children for testing this year that it is done with much prayer and with God’s standards in mind.  Blessings!

Whose Standards Do We Follow?

“Mom, who is Oprah Winfrey?” my son asked one day sitting at the kitchen table.  The state we lived in required standardized testing for 3rd through 9th grade.  My son, then 8 years old, was reviewing a practice booklet when he asked the question.  After explaining to him that she was a TV celebrity he asked, “Why do I need to know that?”  With a smile in my heart I replied, “You don’t.”  Later that evening I showed the book to my husband and pointed out several points of concern.  We had come to the conclusion that since the tests were from a secular, humanist, and evolutionary point-of-view, our son would simply be at a disadvantage in taking them.   “Sweetheart, don’t worry about it.”  He said.  “After all, do we really want our children to be standardized?”

It is that very question that we have asked every year since.  As Christian parents do we want our children to be like the rest of the world?  Unfortunately, it is a very easy trap to fall into.  We have a vested interest in our children and want the best for them.  The question is, “What is best?”  Many would agree that if children excel in academics, are well rounded in their social development, are active in sports, can play a musical instrument, are learning a foreign language, score high on the ACT, get a scholarship into a good college, and go on to make a high-paying career for themselves that they are successful.  While the world would unquestionably view this as success, as a believer in Christ, these are not necessarily my standards.  The Apostle John wrote in 1 John 2:15-17 to “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”  If we are not careful, our families will indulge in and love the things of this world. This kind of love is to our detriment, for there is a world system that we are not to love or cling to.  The world will pass away therefore the way we live and the standards we set for our children need to be with eternity in mind.  Otherwise, we have sold our children short, “For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?”(Luke 9:25)

Is it wrong to want our children to excel in academics?  Absolutely not!  But if academic excellence is the goal without the foundation of God and His Word then our priorities are misplaced.  “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1- 2)  While I want my children to do well in their educational pursuit, I want to measure their success by God’s standards and not the worlds.  Everything that is passed through their minds need to be filtered by the Word of God.  When I taught my 5 year old subtraction my goal was not that he learned the simple mathematic fact of ten minus one equals nine.  My goal was much higher.  Instead, I took him to Luke Chapter 17 and showed him the story of Jesus healing the 10 lepers.  He learned that nine went away and one came back giving thanks to Christ and glory to God.  When we teach with a Biblical mindset, math becomes more than just a lesson.  It becomes an exercise in godliness.

My most important goal as a parent is to teach my children to love the Lord God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, first and foremost!  Secondly, would be to love their neighbor as their self.   Jesus said that on these two commandments hang all the law and prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40)  I also want to teach them to work hard (Colossians 3:23), not to impress others with their intelligence or for self-centered achievements, but because in working hard we give God glory.  Everything we teach our children can point to God and His glory.  While these goals soar above all others and I fail miserably at times, in truth they are the only ones worth pursuing.  To see how this is practically applied let us look at a few of the core subjects that most children are taught.

Language   –   Whether your child is just learning phonics and how to read or he is diagramming sentences and writing papers, you can easily teach with an eternal perspective.  What is the goal in teaching my child to read?  The most obvious would be that he can read the Bible.  The Creator of the universe and of all that is seen and unseen has given His Word in written form so that we can know Him.  What better motive for teaching my child to read than that?  Why teach my child how to write, speak, and spell properly?  The main reason would be so that he can communicate the glorious gospel to those around him.   Any other achievement would be secondary.  Perhaps, in pursuing the English language your child wins a spelling bee or scores high on a test.  If so, give God the glory.  But do not let those things be your motivation.   The mastering of additional languages can point others to Christ as well.  Perhaps your family is learning Spanish for this reason alone.  Many hearts have been changed and lives given to Christ in foreign lands.  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Colossians 3:17)  “Whatsoever ye do” includes phonics, handwriting, spelling, speech, debate, foreign languages, and language composition.

Math  –  What does a Biblical standard verses a worldly standard look like in teaching mathematics?  We have already looked at teaching a small child using Bible stories.  What other incentives do we have for teaching our children math?  One very practical reason is so that our children will be good financial stewards.  My children might not use higher math such as calculus or trigonometry on a daily basis but they will need basic math skills to be able to balance a check book, pay bills, go to the grocery store, or run a business.  All of these things when well done lend to a good testimony for our Lord.   But it could be that our children have a natural gift for mathematics and are able to go on to use their advanced knowledge for the glory of God.  Sir Isaac Newton, mathematician and physicist, would be a wonderful example of this very thing.

Science  –  Biology, ecology, meteorology, geology, and all the other “ologies” are good things to learn.  It is good to know the periodic table and about the laws of the universe but does my child know the Maker of the universe?  Does my child look at a blade of grass or an animal and see God’s handiwork?  Have I taught my child to stand back and look at all of creation in awe and wonder?   Or am I teaching mere facts in order to pass a test and proceed onto the next course of study?  True science will always point us to God.  Louis Pasteur, Father of Microbiology, said it like this, “The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator.  Science brings men nearer to God.”

History  –  It would be impossible to teach all there is to know about history.  There is simply too much information.  If we are not careful this subject can become dull names, tedious dates, and boring facts.  However, if we look at history through the sovereignty of God it becomes His Story.    When we realize that nations rise and fall and that the hearts of kings are stirred by God Almighty our perspective on history changes.  What better opportunity to teach our children Biblical morals and values than to have them read about and study godly characters from the past like George Washington?  In studying history we can also teach the mistakes that mankind has made in the past so that our children and future generations are not doomed to repeat them.   We can learn about important moments in history like when Samuel Morse sent the first telegraph message, “What hath God wrought” taken from the Scriptures.  Or perhaps, in our studies of Italy, as we discover the Leaning Tower of Pisa we can use the opportunity to teach our children spiritual truths about building upon a solid foundation.

Bible  –  While most Christian home school families use a Bible curriculum, it is important to remember that even in studying Scripture we can have a worldly mindset.  Every motive should be examined.  If we only teach parables from the Bible without practical application, if we only teach the law of God without the grace and love of God, and if we only teach Scripture memorization without meditation, we come dangerously close to creating little Pharisees.  It is more important to me that my child loves the Word of God than that my child is able to give a dissertation on the missionary journeys of Paul.  While studying the Apostle’s life is important, if my child truly loves the Word of God he will enthusiastically learn as much as he can about the Bible.  If we develop a love for the Word of God in our children and teach them to diligently seek Him we have given our children a precious gift that can never be taken away.

Learning should be an everyday occurrence and it should not be divided up between secular and spiritual.  As a believer everything should be spiritual.  This happens when we incorporate the things of God into our daily studies and activities.  In doing so it changes not only how we teach but why we teach.  We are no longer just concerned with the outcome but now with the process and the application.  Let’s look at an example of teaching my daughter home economics.  Perhaps by the world’s standard she should learn how to cook, sew and take care of a baby.  But is that enough?  In addition to teaching her the fundamentals, by God’s standards I would teach her from Titus 2:4-5 to “be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”  By the world’s standards it is good for boys to take a shop or woodworking class.  But the application of that would be that my sons learn “to study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.”(1Thessalonians 4:11-12)  I should teach them not only how to work with their hands but also how to be the sole-provider for their families (I Timothy 5:8).

So the question is, “By what standards will we choose to live by?”  As Christian parents we must keep in mind that we will be accountable for the education of our children not based on the world but on God and His Word.  In that knowledge there is great responsibility but also great peace.  Responsibility in that we will answer to God alone for how we teach and train our children.  Peace in that we are not bound by the world’s standards for our children.  Remember that academic excellence is a commendable goal but it must be properly laid with the correct foundation.   “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” (1Co 3:11-14)  The builder (the Christian parent) needs to seek out the Architect himself (God) and use His own blueprints (the Scriptures).  The sure foundation is Jesus Christ and the gold, silver, and precious stones are those things that are of eternal value.  In the end nothing else will matter.  When the fiery trials of life come and when all our works are manifested, we want to know that what we have built into our children will last.  It is those things that we must pursue and by those standards that we must live by.

 Whose Standards Do We Follow by Kimberly Williams, Originally published in Homeschool Enrichment Magazine, Issue #44 March/April 2010 

 

Nurturing Your Marriage – Part Four

 The third key to nurturing your marriage is practical application of these truths previously mentioned.  Knowledge (knowing truth) is not enough; we need wisdom (applying truth) in our marriages.

Homeschooling mother, I know you are busy.  Life is demanding.  You are home all day teaching the children.  There is work to do, places to go, errands to run, a home to manage, lessons to be taught, projects to complete, and schedules to make and keep.  Some days bring many challenges and there are probably times when your husband walks in the door only to be greeted with chaos.  While these days are a reality, I have found that a conscience effort to manage my “office” well is very beneficial to our marriage.  I have always said that my career is my family.  It is my job, given to me by God.  Therefore, if my career is my family then my office is my home.  I’m going to take the liberty to speak for all the husbands out there.  They do not want to come home to a messy house with loud children running around.  They do not want to see dishes in the sink and laundry piled up in the living room.  The kitchen table does not need to be overrun with school books, paper, and computers.  There does not need to be a science project hanging in his bathroom either.  He doesn’t want to see the children dirty and unkempt. And he certainly does not want to see his wife in sweats and a t-shirt with a chili stain left over from lunch on the front of her shirt.  You husband wants to walk in the door and greeted by a smiling wife and children who are happy to see him.  The home needs to be orderly.  I am not saying it has to be immaculate, but it should be managed well.  A little care goes a long way in a home.  If your husband comes home every day at 6 p.m. make sure by 5 p.m. you have a plan for dinner, the house is somewhat picked up, the children are happy and quiet, and the schoolbooks are put away.  If you are not finished with schoolwork by 5 p.m. then you need to start your day sooner.  I am speaking from experience.  Trust me; I have had a few of these chaotic days.  But let me say that when my home is managed well things go much smoother.  It’s certainly worth the extra effort.

Another must for marriage is Date Night!  It is imperative that you spend at least one day a month out on a date with your husband.  Just to clarify, this means without the children.  You are old enough now that you do not need chaperones.  The dates do not have to be elaborate.  While that is nice every now and then, it is not necessary.  Date nights can be as simple as a hamburger from McDonalds and holding each other’s hand while walking through a store together.  The important thing is that you spend time together, talk, and enjoy each other’s company.  Date nights can also be at home.  Put the children to bed early or rent them a video, fix a late dinner, and light some candles.  Your children will appreciate the fact that their parents make time for each other.  And your husband will appreciate the fact that he has a wife that desires to spend time with him.

Communication is also essential to a thriving marriage.  Homeschooling is a big part of your life.  Make sure you and your husband communicate often about the children.  Typically the dad does not spend as much time with them as the mother does so he needs to be involved.  Let him know how they are doing academically.  Share their successes and their failures with him.  Let the dad oversee the direction of their schooling.  Do not make him feel bad for always being at work. Thank him for working hard so that you have the privilege to be able to stay home and homeschool the children.  It is common mistake to have the attitude of “Mother knows best” when it comes to the education of the children.  But, when it comes down to it, the father as head of the family will be held accountable by God for the direction of his family and the education of the children.

Finally, do not over commit.  It is easy to go through life doing good things and completely miss out on the best things.  Sports are good.  Ministry is good.  Homeschool groups and activities are good.  Hobbies and recreations are good.  But marriage is best.  Children are best.  Relationships are best.  Warm memories are best.  Don’t become so busy that you are exhausted all the time.  Don’t become too B.U.S.Y. (Bound Under Satan’s Yoke).  Don’t run around doing things and forget about people.  Make time for your husband and make it a priority.  Make plans to eat together as a family.  And make sure every now and then that it is at home at the kitchen table and not in the car running to your next activity.

Nurturing Your Marriage – Part Three

Clear Priorities

A thriving biblical marriage can be characterized by having three priorities in place.  The first priority is to have a growing
relationship with God.  As I said in the previous post, God ordained marriage for His children.  Those outside of the faith cannot have a true biblical marriage.  Our relationship with
God should be preeminent.  C.S. Lewis said, “When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall
love my earthly dearest better than I do now.”  My husband and I have an understanding that God comes first in our life.  We’ll gladly settle for second place.  When we are each putting God first we are both moving in the same direction and our marriage is strengthened.

The second priority is a growing marriage.  Other than God, nothing should come before your marriage.  That includes your children, family, friends, or career.  The Christian marriage is like a triangle.  God is on top and the husband and wife at
each bottom corner.  The closer they get to God, the closer they get to each other.  The Scriptures declare, “A threefold cord is not quickly broken,” Ecclesiastes 4:12b. Wife, your husband should know that he is a priority in your life.  He should know that you understand and embrace your calling from God as help meet to him.  He should know that, next to God, nothing is more important to you on this earth than your relationship with him.  I like what Martin Luther said about marriage.  “Let the wife make the husband glad to come home and let him make her sorry to see him leave.” This is a God-honoring marriage that points other’s to Him.

The third priority is a growing relationship with the children.  Notice the order.  As precious as children are, they should not come before the marriage.  The home is
not to be “child-centered.”  If the children are the focus, what happens when they leave?  God’s design is for the children to eventually leave, cleave, and weave their own family together. Therefore, mother should not devote all of her time and energy to them.  She should save some for her husband.  Of course, this is not always easy to do.  It takes a lot of time and energy to raise children.  Homeschooling takes even more.  But the most wonderful gift you can give your children is a deep love for their father.  A strong marriage brings security to the home and an environment that children thrive in.

Tomorrow we will look at the third key to nurturing your marriage – practical application of these truths.

Something Big is Coming!

Don’t you want to know the REAL truth about a product before you spend your
money? Too many times I have bought books and curriculum on a whim to later regret the decision.  I want to know what other homeschooling parents think.  Is it all it’s cut out to be?  Does it work with their children?  Is it worth the money?

I’m excited to share with my homeschooling friends a new review site that I have had the privilege to work on.   I am inviting you to the beta launch of a new revolutionary homeschool site.  It is your one-stop destination for curriculum, book, product, and media reviews.  Besides the numerous reviews on the site now, over a dozen will be added each week.  This is a project of Home Educating Family (publishers of Home Educating Family magazine and Well Planned Day Planners).

Go to http://www.homeschoolconvention.com/reviews to check out this site, get the latest reviews, and leave comments.

This is also a part of a larger BIG thing coming to homeschooling this spring:  www.homeschoolconvention.com.  You will not want to miss it!

Top 10 Reasons to NOT Homeschool

 It takes too much time!  Homeschooling is a lifestyle.  It doesn’t end at 3 p.m.  And you don’t stop learning over the weekends.   

No one pays you for doing it.  That’s pretty self explanatory.  Homeschooling mothers do not collect a check each Friday.

People think you are weird.  Who wants their family, friends, and neighbors thinking you are weird?   

You can never stop learning.  Homeschooling mothers have to keep their minds sharp.  Numbers and equations will float around in your head.  Your dreams will be filled with war dates and biology lessons.

It’s hard to advance a career. There are no promotions for the homeschooling mother.

Keeping a clean house is nearly impossible.  It is a lot easier to keep your house clean when no one is at home, running in and out, dirtying up dishes, etc.

Your home will look like a library. Just where will you put all those books?

You are always with your children.  With the exception of running back and forth between each child, you pretty much spend all day in their presence. 

Your children will not know how to deal with the “real” world.  How will they learn to associate with only people their age, raise their hand to ask a question, and stand in line?

You have to take full responsibility for the education of your children.  You can’t play the blame game when it comes to homeschooling.  You are completely accountable. 

*  Making my list of reasons to NOT homeschool has completely energized me for the coming up year.  I’ve realized that a quality education for my children is well worth investing in.  Paychecks are fleeting but this pay has eternal rewards.  Being weird (or peculiar) is normal for a child of God.  There is no greater career than my family.  A clean house is overrated.  I’m glad we are a family that loves to read.  I like my children and enjoy spending every day with them.  I don’t want my children dealing with the “real” world.  Christians don’t deal….they overcome.  And regardless, every parent is accountable to God for the education, training, and upbringing of their children.  With all of that said, I consider it a huge privilege to be able to teach my children at home.  And I thank the Lord for the opportunity.