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Father’s Day for Homeschooling Dads

 

 

 

It’s Father’s Day on the blog!!!  

WOOOO HOOOOO Drum roll please ….   

This blog is for all the awesome, wonderful homeschool Dads that I have been blessed to know.  Many of them have asked me questions about supporting their wives, and their practical role in day to day schooling. 

Questions like….

What do I need to do?

How do I help make this work?

 What does my wife really need from me??

 And… if I’m honest I’ve also pretty regularly run into homeschool Dads who are grudging participants.  They “let” their wives homeschool for now, but with the understanding that this is very temporary.  Their stance and demeanor declare that they are tolerating their wife’s conviction, not leading it.

If you’re a homeschool Dad in either camp or even somewhere between, this blog is for you.  After 27 years of schooling my family, I bring to you for Father’s Day some of what was most helpful for me and those many moms I’ve shared the journey with.

    Let me just say from the start that homeschool dads make a huge sacrifice to ensure that their families are raised in the Lord.  The cultural norm is two incomes.  It just is.  Life has gotten ridiculously, overwhelmingly, crazily expensive.  Dads whose family’s homeschool first off forgo the extra income that would come in if mom was a working mom instead of a homeschool mom, and then they also take on the extra burden of knowing that they provide the bulk of the family’s income.  We tend to take that for granted because the whole education task is such a Goliath one that we lose sight of some of what’s required for it to succeed. 

 

So how does a hard-working Dad support and oversee his family’s homeschool? 

  1. Provide for it without grudging.  I know I just made a speech about this, but it is foundationally important.  Curriculum costs money.  If you begrudge the money it takes to buy quality curriculum, your wife will feel that additional pressure.

 Believing God means Believing God… even for the money. 

Put feet to your faith and be generous in financially supporting your homeschool.

 

  1. Pray for it. Homeschooling is a huge responsibility and undertaking for any family. In most homeschool families the day to day work will be done by momPrayer is more powerful than anything earthly that you can offer her.  You can have the best curriculum and the money for the best of everything and if you have not prayed for your school; it will suffer.  The homeschool movement has prospered because God honored it.  God blessed it.  Seek His blessing, protection, and provision for your family.

 

  1. Encourage her and don’t discourage her. It is not helpful if every time she hits a snag or has a frustrating day, you offer to put the kids in school.  Don’t feed her doubts; feed her faith.  It is evidence of your faith in God to believe in His ability to use your wife.  Your faith is in God not in her, so don’t undermine her with your doubts or fears.  Let God carry those.

 

 

  1. Remember that your kid’s school experience is not going to look like the one you remember (unless of course you were blessed to be homeschooled yourself, but even then it will differ and that’s a good thing).  I think this is one of the biggest struggles for homeschool Dads; they fear the impact of “being different”.  It will help you to appreciate the value and strength that comes from a homeschool education if you educate yourself about it.  If you are one of those grudging Dads, take the time to investigate.  Read the statistics.  Get involved and get to know some local homeschool families.  Ask questions, read books, and attend your state homeschool convention.   Homeschooled kids have had unprecedented success in broad multifaceted ways. They have excelled in every occupation and stand out as beacons of light.   Don’t be afraid to be different.

 

 

So, here’s to all the amazing dads who inspire and enable us homeschool moms to be better and better at what we do.  Today’s blog is Father’s Day, because much is made of moms who homeschool… we’re told we’re amazing, patient, talented etc. (we’re also told things that aren’t near as flattering but that’s a topic for another blog.)   But…the unsung heroes of the homeschool movement are actually the Dads.

Thanks for all you do, and may you have a truly blessed Father’s Day.

 

 

Raising Boys

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a BOY!!!

I remember the first time I heard those words.  It was pure shock.   As far as I knew, babies only came in one gender…. girls.   We had five beautiful daughters, and I didn’t know the first thing about raising boys.    Talk about unqualified and overwhelmed….

It turns out that raising boys is amazing.  I see your eyes roll and hear your snicker.   Ok… so maybe raising boys is a wrestling match in a war zone. Amid gales of laughter, boys will use smelly feet and bodily functions to their advantage.  “Arm yourself ladies ….with a cardboard shield, a Nerf gun, and a can of Lysol.”  Makes you want to run doesn’t it?

 Truth is that raising anybody has always been a battle for their soul, and currently it’s harder to raise a boy than ever before.   The culture is at war with manliness.   Culture is determined to define your son for you.  Boys will embrace that definition if you do not actively war for their soul.

Remember the goal.

You want to raise a Godly man.

I currently have a real vested interest in raising boys.  Beyond my own two wonderful sons, those five beautiful daughters have given us nineteen grandkids (all 11 and under) and fifteen of them are boys.  Yes, you read that right… fifteen grandsons.  When there are that many little boys all in one place; you have a real vested interest in how they are raised.  (Actually when there are fifteen little boys all in one place you need some strong coffee and combat gear 🙂 )

 

More than anything else our present blessing of boys has really brought home to me how important it is to have a plan and a goal.   The truth is that you want your son to be a gift you give to the times he lives in; a man who can stand when no one will stand with him, and who will lead. You want to raise a true follower of Jesus.  Imagine a family unleashing fifteen young men on a culture, young men that know what’s true and are focused on what really matters.   The potential is enough to make you quiver with anticipation. 

Remember the goal.

You want to raise a Godly man.

Sometimes that’s hard to focus on when you are in the midst of whatever is the “challenge of the moment”.  Boys have a habit of continually presenting you with the “challenge of the moment”, then reveling in it, and finally shooting you with it. It makes it a little hard to focus.

Boys need goal-oriented parenting. Their daily energetic nonsense tends to obscure the long term in favor of the tyranny in immediate disaster. Then the goal degenerates to “I want your immediate obedience or conformity to this present issue” (spoken at the top of your lungs), rather than I am working toward your forever obedience to the Lord of Lords.  If you haven’t thought through your goals, you will find yourself always “reacting” rather than choosing your path.

So ask yourself…

What do you want? I mean really want…????.

For me, it’s to raise true, authentic, amazing followers of Jesus…. and with that in mind here are some thoughts on the matter:

 

Teach them the Word.   Take them to church.    Give them godly men for examples.

I know those seem like obvious things to do, and they are.  The problem is that even the obvious tends to elude us in the craziness of daily life.

You can’t lead someone if you don’t give them a clear vision of where they are going. Without vision you will have to drag or push them, not lead them.  So…. You teach them the Word so that they know what the goal is, and you take them to church to reinforce what you’ve taught. 

 Great ideals inspire.

Godly men teach by their lives that character is all about who you are and it always shows in what you do.   Teaching your son to protect and defend the weak, to support others not crush them, that true greatness is measured in how well you serve etc. they will show him that real strength is measured by self-control and teach him to accept responsibility and apologize when he is wrong.   Expose your son to Godly men of the faith who have gone before.  Inspire him with their lives, and give him the tools to stand up for truth no matter what the cost.

Remember the goal.

You want to raise a Godly man.

 

 

Discourage video games.

Boys have an innate desire to conquer and accomplish great things. The danger with video games is that they give them that conquering endorphin-driven rush of feeling without them ever having done anything real. They win the virtual battle or game and feel that surge of accomplishment and strength, but it is all an illusion. Nothing real has been accomplished. As a matter of fact, the hours of idleness make it harder to do or accomplish real things, especially because the video conquests are so easy compared to the hard work and difficulty of doing something real.    (That being said, I know kids are going to play these. My point is that it is in their best interest to delay starting them as long as you can, and to limit them as much as you can).  Especially strive to eliminate and avoid those games that desensitize to violent behavior or lure towards the occult.  They simply don’t fit with the goal.

Instead of artificial accomplishments, make sure your boys get the opportunity to meet and overcome real challenges.  If you can make it fun, all the better. 

Remember the goal.

You want to raise a Godly man.

 

Celebrate his gender

Don’t excuse bad behavior by blaming it on gender. Boys need to be proud that they are boys. It is devastating for little boys to constantly hear how naughty or hard to raise they are, and that girls are generally good.  It isn’t true; so don’t reinforce it.  Bad behavior is genderless. It is a result of bad choices which come from a sinful heart. It has nothing to do with being male.  Little boys are adorable and they need to know that you think so.

For many years everyone worried about girls feeling inferior because of what the culture said to them.  Now, there has been huge pendulum swing and you find boys almost being apologetic for being male. Teach your boys to embrace their gender, to revel in the fact that God chose them to be male.  Masculinity is a beautiful expression of personhood, and it is healthy for your boys to express, love, and be proud of it.

Remember the goal.

You want to raise a Godly man.

 

 Jesus is the ultimate example of godly manhood.

So dear mama of boys, I’m praying for you that God Himself will help you to focus on the goal, and give you the grace to raise mighty men of faith for His honor and glory.

 

  

Homeschooling : For the weary heart

 

There’s a place in the oceans near the equator called the doldrums.  It’s characterized by monotony and calm.  There are no great winds to carry the sails to new harbors. 

This time of year reminds me of that  very place.  It seems the hardest place to endure and the longest time of the year.  It is neither the beginning with all of the freshness and enthusiasm, nor the end when the finish line in plain sight motivates that last burst of energy and accomplishment.  I always found the February to April time frame the hardest.  It seemed malaise kicked in and everything was drudgery.   

A schoolteacher friend once shared with me that this was the most productive time of year for her classroom.  As a matter of fact she said the bulk of their work was accomplished here in the doldrums of the year.  That really panicked me.  It was definitely not our most productive time of year.

“And let us not be weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.” Gal. 6:9

This verse became light and salt to me as I struggled each “doldrum” day to fight through and bring vigor and strength to a new day of school.  Isn’t it so true that we have all the energy and enthusiasm needed to begin…. but not to endure?  Most things are fun to start, but somewhere in the middle we lose enthusiasm and are ready to quit. 

That weariness you feel is designed to rob your harvest.

So, from the other side…. the finished side, where the books are all completed, the graduation celebrations are over, and there are no more little bits of paper scattered everywhere;  here are some strategies to help.

  1.  Plan some simple fun every week.  Give your students and yourself something to look forward to.  Whether it is an afternoon of learning games, a quick field trip, or a playdate with friends, plan some fun into your week.  It’s easy to get bogged down with fractions and grammar and forget to make each week an enjoyable one.  Fun is essential.
  2. Prioritize school.  Distractions are especially appealing in the doldrums. This is a  great time to refocus and remember that this is what God has called you to do.  Put it in its proper place in your life.  Focus on school. 
  3. No matter how tempting… don’t leave out the fun and messy subjects.  Science and art often fall by the wayside because of the mess they create.  There’s a real tendency to say….tomorrow…next week….or even next year, we’ll do more science  or art.  Kids love these fun messy subjects and they add so much to their love of learning.  Purpose to do both. 
  4. Go to convention.  The best cure for weariness (after the support of God Himself), is the support of His people.  We need each other.  We need the teaching and support that we can offer one another.  Here’s the link if you’re one of my OK friends (for other states just google homeschool convention).  https://www.ochec.com/Convention

Embrace your calling momma. 

God Himself has called you to raise up the next generation with an unfettered mind and a core of forged steel.

  What you are doing matters. 

It matters eternally.

  Don’t let the doldrums rob you of your harvest.

Moms of Preschoolers

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Dear Mom of Preschoolers,

 

Can I give you a hug and tell you I think you’re wonderful?

What you are doing matters.

It matters even when you or people around you think otherwise.

It’s also hard, really hard.

Comparing the dream of what it’s like to be home with preschoolers to the earthy reality is a train wreck.  The dream is a Pinterest moment complete with freshly washed, sweet-smelling children doing creative art projects in an amazingly decorated play area.   Reality is a muddy mess, complete with screeches, laughter and bodily functions.   It is a quantifiable truth that children only smell sweet for the first five minutes after their bath.  After that, you’re thankful if the only thing you smell is cheese puffs.   Toys are the new decorator style.  They are everywhere, under everything, and people never ever drop by when they are picked up.   Little hands definitely don’t pick up as well as they dump.  Laundry multiplies mysteriously in dark rooms, and everyone always wants a meal or a snack.  Preschool mom days are filled with urgent needs, endless chores, and constant commotion.

 

Few things go as planned.

 

One child eats everything you put before him and more.  He sneaks food off of anyone’s plate, and occasionally rummages in the garbage or dog food looking for a snack.  You need locks on your cupboards and a safe for cleaning supplies.  If that child can get ahold of it, he’ll eat it.  Poison control recognizes your number and knows your name.   Another child eats nothing but macaroni and cheese, and then only if it is the right brand and they are in the mood for it.   The only guarantee seems to be that whichever child you have, you will feel like it’s your fault. The world will even clamor for the opportunity to let you know that it’s your fault.   Everyone (who has no children or has never experienced it) will “know”, and let you “know” most assuredly that picky eaters come from incompetent parents, and garbage snackers are under-disciplined.  If you happen to have both kinds of kids you get double the guilt.

 

Zech.4:10  says “For who has despised the day of small things?”

 

In context, the Israelites had returned from captivity to the promised land and rebuilt the temple.  The people were sad because the temple was smaller and less grand than Solomon’s original temple. It was therefore less than they had anticipated.  They were tempted to despise their efforts and the result.  Sound familiar?  As moms we always think we are not enough, that we fall short.  Our reality always seems to be less than we hoped for.  Honestly, we’re less than we’d hoped for. We don’t look or act much like that original dream.  Preschool moms find themselves overwhelmed with the small things of life.  Laundry, toys, booboos, meals etc.  They all seem like insignificant things.

God however, warns us not to despise the day of small things; because maybe just maybe the small things are what matter most.

Preschool years are crucial. That is precisely why the enemy fights so hard against you. The mom that teaches a child what a spoon is for and how to use it will also teach what life is about; and how to live it.  Since the spoon really works like you say and they even eventually master it, the bond of trust and belief begins.  That lifetime bond helps to ensure a future generation that is more ready for the tasks ahead than the previous.

Affecting future generations is exhausting work.  This glorious calling comes cloaked in the ordinary tasks of an ordinary life; but those ordinary tasks are of eternal value.  The enemy will continually tell you that you were made for greater things.  He will mock what you do and declare it insignificant.   He will try to distract you, condemn you, discourage you, and over all of that he will shine a magnifying glass on all your failures.  If he can convince you that your job doesn’t matter, he has already begun to conquer the next generation.

He realizes what we forget, nothing worthwhile is accomplished in an instant.

Everything that matters takes time to grow and is built bit by bit ……even people. .   Every big decision is made up of hundreds of small decisions that were made before it.   Every big accomplishment starts with the first brick of a foundation. Your patience while your little one learns a new skill establishes the foundation for his or her character that allows for failure, time to learn, and persistence.    As you care for them and meet their needs they learn trust, love, and service.

So mom of young ones, be encouraged.  Your job is important. In fact your job is essential.  The people under your care are just that… people.  People that will be your gift to a world in desperate need of God. Think of that.  You are giving a gift to the times you live in, by how you raise your little ones.

All of the ordinary is really quite extraordinary isn’t it?

 

Choosing Curriculum

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I have to confess I love to buy curriculum. I have about as much resistance as people do at an extraordinary food bar.  I’ll have one of each please.  Over the years I did find that some basic principles applied to choosing the best of what was available.  Knowing that many of you are still mulling over choices for the upcoming year, I thought I’d share some thoughts.

 

Choosing Math

   Choose a spiral approach.  That means there is constant review of previous skills woven into the daily work.   Chapter approaches look appealing, but children forget math skills easily and require continual practice to cement them.  It is definitely less painful if the necessary review of previously learned skills is already built into the program.  Children are seldom thrilled with extra practice sheets on top of their daily math work.  Since the goal is to have them love learning (even math) don’t shoot yourself in the foot right from the start.   A chapter approach generally means a constant need to reteach previously  covered concepts, breeding frustration for both of you and perpetuating a serious distaste for math.

Look for a program with some room to work problems on the page.  Unfortunately, I’ve never seen one that I thought really addressed this adequately, but I mention it here in the hopes that curriculum producers will take heed and produce a page with space for kids to work the answer.  I personally loved Abeka’s elementary math, but felt they could improve on the space given.  (I also did not require them to do every problem on every page… Abeka has a multitude of problems to work each day so that you can pick and choose what your child needs.)

Remember:  curriculum is your servant; you are not it’s slave.

Whatever you choose, do math daily.  Kids need math for so many higher level subjects, that just like reading it’s fundamental.  Let them whine, but do it everyday.

 

Choosing Science

I prefer a standalone science rather than a more integrated unit study approach.  This is probably because my kids loved science to such an extent that they couldn’t get enough of it. I’d have had to write so much of the unit study in order to get enough new information in it for my older kids that it just wasn’t practical to use a unit approach.  Go for colorful material rich in content.  The more the better, and do every experiment that you can fit in your busy life.  Your kids will remember them all.

In elementary school, explore nature voraciously.  Kids love everything about nature from bugs to clouds.  Let them have bug zoos, spider pets, weather charts and gardens.  Teach them about winds, seas, rocks and creatures.

 

Choosing Reading

There are so many approaches to teaching reading that I think it’s better to cover that as a specialty blog post.  However, once your child can read fluently, make sure they read daily.  For most homeschool kids this isn’t an issue, but it bears saying if you have a reluctant reader.

 Read aloud to your kids.  All through their school years, read aloud to them daily.   In high school you can read books together, alternating paragraphs or chapters, but don’t stop reading aloud.   It makes wonderful memories through shared experience.  Good literature provides opportunities for open discussion about almost every imaginable topic, and when you read it together the values you want to share are naturally and easily communicated.

If you can’t think what to read here are a few suggestions to get you started  (any of these also make great read alone material for your kids)

Elementary:

Owls in the Family, Hank the Cowdog series, The Derwood Series (BJU press), Chronicles of Narnia,  Little House Series,  Boxcar Children,  Grandmother’s Attic Series,  Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Caddie Woodlawn,  Number the Stars, The Sign of the Beaver, A Bear Called Paddington,

Cat of Bubastes ( and other novels by  GA Henty),  The Red Knight,  Men of Iron,  The Little Princess, Across Five Aprils,  Midshipman Quinn, The Lost Baron,

David Copperfield, Olver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, and on and on  and on.

Since we are talking about reading aloud, let me also put in a plug here for Five In a Row (http://www.fiveinarow.com ).  This is my all-time favorite curriculum for Kindergarten or First Grade.   Five in a Row is a unit study program based on a different read aloud each week.  It is rich both in content and fun.  If you aren’t familiar with it, check it out; you and your kids will love it.

 

Choosing Unit Studies

Many people like the flexibility of unit studies.  They provide a way that the whole family can be learning about the same subject at the same time, just each at their own level.  The weakness here is for the oldest children.  There is a real danger to guard against in not moving the material to a difficult enough level for them.  Make sure you choose to teach to the highest grade in the unit study and let the information trickle down to the younger students rather than trying to take a basic elementary study and enrich it for high school.

Unit studies can be labor intensive for mom.  Probably one of the best I’ve seen and used is Tapestry of Grace.  The author took the time to actually put the information in the teacher’s manual so that mom didn’t have to go out and search for it.  This was especially helpful for me, since history is not my strongest area, nor my strongest interest.

Unit Studies tend to be very strong in history and some language arts areas.  I’ve never seen one that covered science to the level needed, and suggest again that you use a standalone science program.

 

Choosing Spelling

Everyone in my family is now laughing uproariously.   I think spelling must be genetic.  In fact, I’ve decided it just has to be.   I’ve tried almost every spelling curriculum available and the reality is some of my kids can spell like champions, and others need to wear the t-shirt that displays the slogan

 “Bad Spellers of the World”

“UNTIE”

  I won’t even begin to give advice on spelling curriculum.  I just included it so that you’d know I knew that the subject existed, and as a disclaimer if some of my kids ever write you a letter without spell check.

 

Choosing Writing

Most of the language arts curriculums available address writing adequately in the elementary grades.  Choose one with a good balance between grammar and writing.  I did find though that I loved the Institute for Excellence in Writing (http://www.iew.com ) for middle through high school.  It’s a little bit pricey, but the DVD’s are wonderfully engaging and the writing portions are solid instruction for college prep.

 

If you just feel like browsing curriculum, check out  https://www.christianbook.com  or http://rainbowresource.com

 

Happy hunting. As always if I can be of any help to you, just let me know.

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