Read for the Heart

Do you have children that love to read?  We do.  We are a family of readers. When my children were younger I was very specific about what they read.  In fact, unless their father or I had read the book ourselves we did not let them read it.  The reason is simple.  For a Christian, the battle field is often fought in the mind.  Therefore, what we put into our mind has a tremendous influence on our lives and effects our spiritual growth.  (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

However, we ran into a challenge when our children started out reading us.  Aaron would pick up a book at the library and ask if he could read it.  I would tell him to get the book and his father or I would read it first.  But we got to the point where we couldn’t keep up with him.  So, what is a parent to do? 

We solved the problem for a little while by finding authors we trusted.  We would then let them read anything they had written.  Again, we ran into problems there.  For example, my children love C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series but there we just some of his books we did not wanting the children to read until they were older.

If a parent wants to guard their children’s hearts they must sort through thousands of books to find those that are worthwhile.   There is, however, another option.  You can find a trusted source that has already done the work for you.

Apologia offers the solution.  Read for the Heart by Sarah Clarkson is a trusted guide in children’s literature.  In her book she recommends over 1,000 stories for young people from the classics to modern favorites, picture books to adventure novels, and read aloud favorites.  She shares her heart on reading and informs us of the literacy crisis here in America.

Read for the Heart is a wealth of knowledge.  If you would like more information about the book, visit Apologia to read a sample chapter.  The book cost $17.00.

To see what others are saying about this book, click here.

Disclaimer:  As a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew, I received Read for the Heart in exchange for an honest product review.   I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

An Offensive Lifestyle

 The other day I received my copy of Home School Enrichment and was surprised to see an article that I had written, “Homeschooling – An Offensive Lifestyle.”  I submitted it some time back and to be honest I had forgotten all about it.  Apparently, the Lord had the timing all worked out.  It seems as though this subject hit a lot of people.  I have had more response from it than any other I have written.

If you do not get the magazine you can read the May/June 2011 issue online at

 Below are a few excerpts from my readers.

 “Kimberly, I just came across your article in Home School Enrichment and it was refreshing! My husband and I often times feel “alone” in our decisions of how to raise our daughter and the choices we make……”

 “Kimberly, I just received a free copy of  Homeschool Enrichment magazine in the mail and read your article on offensive lifestyle.  I just wanted to thank you.  It has been a very hard year for my family…..”

“Mrs. Williams, I read and thoroughly enjoyed your article.  Ever more increasingly these days, Christians need to hear your message especially and even when it feels like they’re under attack from the world…..”

 “I just had to write you and tell you how much your article in the Homeschool Enrichment touched me tonight.  I just read ‘Homeschooling, An Offensive Lifestyle’ and it encouraged me so much…. I have been feeling a lot of persecution from my CHRISTIAN friends and it has gotten me very discouraged.  It’s like we don’t fit in with the world and we don’t fit in with the church.  God spoke to me through your article and it really lifted me up…… Thank you very much for your words of wisdom!”


It is amazing how far technology has come in just a few years.  Not too long ago, if a homeschooling parent was struggling to teach a subject to their children the only option was an outside tutor.  Getting a tutor for your child does have its advantages.  However, it can be expensive and you are locked into a limited amount of study time with a tutor.  But now, technology is such in that help can come in many forms.

This past month I reviewed ALEKS as part of The Old Schoolhouse Crew.  ALEKS stands for Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces.  It is a web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system.  Through an assessment test, the program determines exactly what a student knows and doesn’t know in a math course.  It then offers individualized instruction that meets the student at his learning level.  So in other words, ALEKS is like a personal tutor but with so much more.

ALEKS offers comprehensive courses from elementary school math to complex subjects such as PreCalculus.  Because all you need is a computer with internet access, it is a very flexible solution for busy students.

Here is what the ALEKS website says:

ALEKS is a Research-Based Online Program:

  • Complete Curriculum Solution for Math with Access to Full Course Library
  • No Textbook Required
  • Artificial Intelligence Targets Gaps in Student Knowledge
  • Assessment and Individualized Learning for Grades 3-12
  • Master Account Includes Quizzing and Automated Reports to Monitor Learning Progress 
  • Unlimited Online Access – PC and Mac Compatible
  • QuickTables – Complimentary Math Fact Mastery Program for Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction

I registered Aaron (8th grade) and Abigail (6th) grade for ALEKS.  Here is how it worked.  Each child took an assessment test that lasted about an hour.  ALEKS avoids multiple-choice questions and instead uses input tools that mimic what would be done with paper and pencil.  Each test asked around 30 questions.  When the test is complete, ALEKS has developed a precise picture of their knowledge of the course.  We know what topics each child has mastered and which ones have not yet been mastered.   Each child’s knowledge is represented by a multicolor pie chart.  The light areas show the topics that need to be learned with the dark areas representing what is already mastered.

This is where the learning comes in.  Each time the child logs on; they are offered a choice of topics they are ready to learn.  They are then given practice problems that teach each topic.  As new principles are learned the dark areas on the pie chart begin to fill up.  This is encouraging for the students to see how much they are learning. The progress reports are encouraging for the parent.  For the younger grades they offer QuickTables.  It is a mastery program for multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction.  Abigail enjoyed using it as well as the fun games that come with it.

While I really like ALEKS, we will not continue it this year.  However, I can see purchasing it in the future as the children get older and math becomes harder to teach.  It could be very valuable those last few years of high school.  The online program is $19.95 per student per month.  They also offer family discounts on their website.


If you are interested in ALEKS check out their site for a free trial. 

To learn what others are saying about ALEKS click here.


 Disclaimer:  As a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew, I received a trail version of ALEKS in exchange for an honest product review.   I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Spelling – Does it matter?

My editor called me today to remind me that I misspelled a word on a survey I posted online yesterday.  (Actually, her title is good friend.)  While we joke about my poor writing skills, it does bring us to a very important subject.  Is spelling really that big of deal?  After all, we do live in the computer age where spell check proves to be most essential.  I find due to my dependence upon the computer that when it comes to teaching my children how to spell, I lack lustre.  (Just trying to be honest here.)

Nevertheless, I do my best to not let the war in my mind transcend to my children.  Spelling is important!  Why?  It is because we will not always have a keyboard under our fingers.  We will not always have access to a computer.  And sometimes even when we do, the computer fails us.  I should not depend upon my computer for everything.  God created us with an amazing computer of our own – our mind.  We should use it.  As His children we should be a testimony of God working in our lives.  And yes!  We should be diligent in all things.  That even includes leaning how to spell correctly.  Why?  Simply because we can use our writing skills to show God’s greatness, bring others to Him, and give Him glory.  I want my children to understand this.  Therefore, I teach spelling!

Now, I cannot speak for all homeschooling parents but I can speak for the many I’ve talked to over the past decade.  And I most certainly speak for this one. 

Teaching your children to spell can be frustrating!

Some children pick up on it very easily.  They always make 100% on their spelling tests.  They love writing their words each day and never struggle with misspelled words.  If this is your children thank the Lord.  If it is not, don’t fret.  You are among a great group of people.

Thankfully, because we do live in a computer age we are blessed with many great resources.  (Did I mention that I love computers?)  One resource that I have used over the years is SpellingCity.

It is free, easy to use, and f – u – n! 

You simply go to their website and enter your spelling words then choose Test Me, Teach Me, or Play a Game.

It is a great way for children to learn how to spell.  After taking an online spelling test, students can print out a report, retake the entire test, or get tested only on the spelling words they got wrong the first time.  And talk about a time saver.  It is a great tool for busy parents who just do not have the time to sit and review spelling words with each child over and over again.

Like I said, I have used SpellingCity before so when I was given the opportunity to review SpellingCity’s Premium Membership I was thrilled!  For a family (up to 5 students) the Premium Membership is $24.99.  In addition to all the great features SpellingCity already offers, with the paid membership you get: 

  • Automatic test grading and student grade book
  • Complete activity tracking of all student activities 
  • Access to their Premium Games
  • Telephone support

So let me recommend SpellingCity.  It is a great resource for all types of people – those who homeschool, teachers (SpellingCity also has a classroom version), parents with children in public school, grandparents who help out with schoolwork, and any child who takes a weekly spelling test.

Does spelling matter?  Yes.  

Does it have to be difficult?  No. 

Can learning how to spell be fun for both parents and students?  Absolutely – when you go to  To see what others are saying about Spelling City you can go here.


Disclaimer:  As a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew, I received SpellingCity’s Premium Membership free of charge in exchange for an honest product review.   I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Homeschooling – A Labor of LOVE

I love homeschooling my children.  I consider it a wonderful blessing.  It is also a huge responsibility.  God will hold my husband and I accountable for the teaching and training of the precious children He gave us.  In addition to being a blessing and responsibility it is a lot of work – what I like to call a labor of love.


Yes, homeschooling is a labor of love. 

No, you do not have to labor alone! 

Through the years I have gotten encourgement, tips, expert knowledge, and advice from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  If you are familar with the magazine you know what I mean.  That’s why I wanted to share with you the “Labor of Love” subscription sale going on right now.

The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine is extending an extraordinary
subscription offer to homeschool families. Receive a one-year print
subscription for just $7.95 or a one-year plus current issue
subscription for $12.95. One-year subscriptions start with the winter
issue. The one-year plus current issue starts with the fall issue.
Only 5000 of these special subscriptions are available from August 31
through midnight on September 15. Once the 5000 are gone, they”re gone!
Hurry and grab this crazy price today!

Any other “MEAN” parents out there?

Every year about this time I go through the same dialogue with my children. It usually goes something like this…

Sorry, you can’t watch that video today. You know the rule. Once school starts back up we turn the TV off completely during the week.

But mom, we don’t watch that much TV. We don’t even have cable or local channels. Everyone else watches much more than we do.

Sorry children, we don’t live our lives in comparison to others.

But what’s wrong with watching a good wholesome movie every now and then?

Nothing is wrong with it. But I don’t want you children to spend your life watching other people live fake lives. You have a life to live. Now go do it! Be creative. Learn a new skill. Read a book. Make a difference to someone around you. Explore the world. Work with your hands. Write a letter. Play a game. Change the world.

I believe that they understand my heart on this issue. Maybe they are just use to this answer or perhaps they realize that their father and I are resolved. But the truth is, there is just too much living to do for us to waste it in front of the TV.

Homeschooling – An Offensive Lifestyle!

Take a journey, back in time, to America a few generations. How easy would it be to offend a person thirty, forty, or fifty years ago? The older generation voices of an era when the majority of people would not only be offended to hear a crude word spoken but would not even tolerate it. Not too many years ago people would be offended to see open sin paraded around in public. At one time people would be offended to see children speaking disrespectfully to an elder. Our country and flag was greatly honored and to show disrespect to either was offensive. And the thought of someone openly condemning Christianity in America was unthinkable. The generations of the past were easily offended by insulting behaviors, filthy language, open immortality, anti-patriotism, and a blatant disregard for spiritual matters. Oh, how the times have changed! It seems as though this deliberate decay of our culture is not only tolerated but joyfully embraced. And yet, through the eyes of the world, there are still plenty of offenses which must not be tolerated. Today the offenses come in the form of Christianity, absolute truth, holy living, the name of Jesus Christ, submission to authority, and of course, the Christian homeschool movement.

I remember the first time I realized that there were people who were offended by our family’s lifestyle. It was the summer after our first year of homeschooling. I was sitting with a friend in a ladies Bible study class, who had introduced our family to home education. We were discussing the benefits and joys of the year. I had commented that I was so thankful the Lord opened our eyes to our responsibility as parents to educate our children. During the discussion, others joined in asking questions. After the class was over a lady approached me who had been very offended that we had so openly discussed homeschooling as a valid option for Christian parents. She had been a public school teacher for 20 years and in her own words, “had never seen anything taught to the detriment of Christians in public school.” She was adamant in that public schools were safe and unmistakably the best option for all Christians. Although I was new to homeschooling and could not clearly articulate my position, it had not been that long ago that I was in public schools myself. I distinctively remember all the evil that I was exposed to at an early age from teachers and peers alike, not to mention the anti-God philosophy.

That was 8 years ago. While it was the first time that I have viewed such opposition to home education, it certainly was not the last. There once was a lady in our church who showed apparent disdain toward our family. I remember asking my husband one day after services, “What have I done to her? She obviously does not like me. I’ve gone out of the way to be kind and friendly to her and her family.” My husband, who knew how hard I had been trying said, “Sweetheart, it is nothing you have done. Our lifestyle is offensive.” Over the years we have come to realize that the choices we have made regarding our family is contrary to the world. At its foundation we believe that Scripture teaches a very distinct way of living as a child of God. As a woman, I believe that part of my high calling is to be a help meet to my husband (Genesis 2:18), to live in subjection to him (I Peter 3:5), and to be a keeper at home (Titus 2:5). We believe that the husband, as the head of the family, will be responsible to God for the education and upbringing of the children (Ephesians 6:4, Proverbs 4:1-7). He is to oversee all their learning about God and His world. And daily, he is to teach God’s Word to his family (Deuteronomy 6:5-9). As his help meet, I play a major role in the daily teaching of our children. At the heart of all we do lies biblical truth. Therefore, we really should not be surprised when the world is offended. Jesus said in John 15:18-19, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”

While we expect this opposition from the world, it is disheartening when it comes from other Christians. One could argue that there are those who simply claim the title yet bear no fruit of righteousness. Many times it is these types of people who are antagonistic to those trying to live their life according to the Bible. However, that is not always the case. Many simply have never been taught the truth. For several generations, our society has believed that families should pursue the American dream at all cost. In this pursuit, the foundation of the biblical family has been cracked. Sadly, many churches have lacked in biblical teaching necessary to rebuild the family. So now, when a family pushes against the flow of society, by holding to their convictions from the Word of God, they often experience a backlash. Perhaps, you have experienced such criticism from family, friends, church members, or even pastors. It seems that a few months cannot pass without hearing a testimony from a family to this extent. They are homeschooling because of biblical conviction and due to the amount of criticism they receive one would think that they have purposely set out to destroy the lives of their children.

  • “You shelter your children too much.”
  • “Your children will rebel.”
  •  “Your children will not know how to deal with the ‘real’ world!”

I, and many others, have heard these comments before. Dear friend, do not let the world dictate to you lies from the enemy. It is a good thing to shelter your children. Gods shelters us and I am so glad He does! When the storms of life come, His children run into His arms of safety. As far as children rebelling, perhaps they will. But I know that children will often do exactly what they are trained to do. Parents have believed the lie that all children will always rebel against the teaching of their parents. When a parent believes this and expects his child to rebel he will not be disappointed. That child will rebel. Parents should be realistic enough to know that children might rebel but should never expect them to rebel. My husband and I will bring our children up in the way they should go and hold on to the promise that they will not depart from it. What about our children knowing how to deal with the “real” world? Let me be very clear. The objective in Christian homeschooling is not teaching children how to “deal with the real world.” I do not want to teach my children how to merely survive this life. As believers in Christ we are called to be overcomers! “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,” (1John 5:4). As children of God, not only do we overcome this world but we overcome the wicked one (I John 2:13-14). We overcome his servants (I John 4:4). We overcome sin and death (I Corinthians 15:54-57). And we overcome evil (Romans 12:21). This is what we desire to teach our children. “You are an overcomer!”

Dear homeschooling family, do not be discouraged when you face opposition. Do not be surprised by the world’s criticism. As you probably have learned by now, one does not have to be on the front lines of the homeschool movement to be attacked. You do not have to be publicly declaring the truths found in Scripture from every mountain top to offend the world. All you have to do is live your life quietly and simply in holiness. Raising your family according to God’s standards is enough to have the world hate you. Your very lifestyle is condemning to those around you. Consider the story of Noah. “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith,” (Hebrews 11:7). I have heard this story my whole life. I have been taught that Noah, being a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5), preached to the world the coming judgment of God. In my mind I always assumed that it was his preaching that condemned the world. But this passage in Hebrews does not tell us that the world was condemned by his preaching, but by his life. Noah moved with fear, prepared an ark to save his family and by that he condemned the world. It was his obedience to God that condemned the wicked.

Now, move forward a few thousand years. Consider a faithful father called of God to lead his family. He reads in the Bible of the coming judgment. He sees the warnings from his Heavenly Father. He is moved with fear and works hard to build an ark of safety for his family. He rejects this world and does that which is necessary to save his house. He toils and labors to teach and train his children the ways of the Lord. And in doing it all, he condemns the world around him.  But unlike Noah, who knew only his family would be saved (Genesis 6:17-18), we are not alone. There are many other families who are striving to follow the Lord. There are many fathers who take their God-given responsibility seriously and seek to save their homes from worldly destruction. There are many mothers who are coming along side and fulfilling their God-given role. There are many children who are being brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. There are families who still stand strong. Do not give up. Do not be discouraged. Know that your work will not be in vain! “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain,” (Philippians 2:15-16).

(Clipart courtesy FCIT,

The Joys of Homeschooling

The weather was beautiful today so we gathered outside to read history and science. This year we have been doing a study of American history. Today we concluded the book by Peter Marshall, “Sounding Forth the Trumpet”. It took us from the years of 1837 to 1860 bringing one of the most crucial times in America’s past to life. I try to remind my children often that we study history so that we can learn from the past mistakes of others, gone on before us, as well as from their successes. The following is the last passage I read to my children today:

As 1860 drew to a close, men and women of spiritual vision could see armies of angels and archangels gathering for the coming struggle of the soul of America. They could hear the sound of distant trumpets that would never call retreat. War was close at hand. Now, as this century closes, men and women of vision are again seeing signs and wonders. These indicate that God’s judgment is close at hand. Each of us is familiar with the problems troubling our country: divorce, drug abuse, the murder of unborn children through abortion, children killing children, public officials lying, cheating, and stealing. It is too late for a human solution. But with God, nothing is impossible. The only hope for America is a national revival. Even now, pockets of genuine spiritual awakening are springing up around our country. But at best America has a case of “revival measles,” with spots of spiritual awakening popping up here and there. However, before a revival can spread from coast to coast, more than a few of us will have to take God’s promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14 to heart. Each of us must repent, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways. And we must do it so at once. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote this: “O Church read the signs of the times! A day of grace is yet held out to us…for just as surely as a millstone sinks in the ocean so surely injustice and cruelty shall bring on nations the wrath of Almighty God.” Heaven only knows what disaster awaits us in our time if we do not, as a nation, turn back to God! One thing is certain: We can hear the sound of distant trumpets.

Just as spiritually thought provoking as history, we reviewed the 1st and 2nd Laws of Thermodynamics today in science. The laws of nature itself exposes the lies of the evolutionist and the fallacy of uniformitarianism. As we dealt with the wonder of our planet earth, my children’s assignment was to make a list of what they have learned in their study of geology that demonstrates the truth of the Bible and reveals God’s design. Then they were to read Psalm 139:8-10 and pray and thank God for these revelations.

As the end of the school year approaches I am reflecting upon the true joys of teaching my children at home. I wonder how many children are privileged enough to learn about true history and true biblical science? I’m afraid however that most will be taught lies, global indoctrination, and satanic evolution. But as I see small spots of spiritual awakening throughout the Christian community I hold to “that day of grace that is yet held out to us…” And, as I teach my children at home, I cannot help but thank the Lord for this awesome responsibility!

The Antithesis of Home Schooling

As the summer flew by we knew that our journey in knowledge would continue as we picked the books back up.  We often remind our children that one should never stop learning, however during the summer months our family takes a more informal approach to academics.  But this week began our official “school time”.  With great expectations I woke Monday but by the end of the day all I could do was shake my head.  The day did not go as planned.  There was fussing, disobeying and yes, even screaming.  And the children didn’t do so well either.  As I pondered the first day back at school and searched my heart for the answer to why the day did not go well, the Lord spoke to my conscience.  I already knew the answer for conscience means with (con) knowledge (science), making my conclusions all the more painful.  It was as if the Lord asked, “By what standards are you setting up for your children?  Are your goals based on the world or do you have a Biblical standard for these children I have given you?  Are you concerned with only the outcome or is it the process of learning that you care about?  Are you teaching your children so that they will get the best education or is there a higher calling of teaching your children – for My Glory?”    In truth there is such a contrast in each approach. Therefore it is important to reevaluate our reasoning for home education each year.  While my husband is constant in his goals for this family I must admit that I am prone to wander off the path at times.  I believe that is why God in all His wisdom allows me a day like Monday.  He allows me to slip off the path of excellence, fall down on the rocky road of this world, and then come running back to His marvelous plan for my life.  So, as I nursed my bruises from the day before I took on a whole new approach to learning and teaching on Tuesday.   Whether we were reading the Word of God as a family, practicing cursive handwriting, or studying the 2nd law of Thermodynamics our focus was upon doing all things for the Glory of God.  Would you believe that the contrast was as stark as night and day?