homeschooling

Homeschooling: Encouragement not to Quit.

 

 

                                                  

 

 

 

  So you want to quit.  

I can’t say I blame you, or that I don’t understand. Actually I get it.
Really, I do.
I’ve sat there overwhelmed by the cost and the scope of the task.
I’ve looked at me and been totally, completely underwhelmed.
I’ve watched the tide as friends returned their kids to conventional schools, and felt the creeping hand of doubt clutch my heart while its voice whispered my failures and fears.
I really do get it.

 

But….here’s what I have to say on the other side. The finished side, where it’s all done, and the books are completed. Graduation celebrations are over, and there are no more papers to correct or curriculum to order.

It was worth it.

It was more than I ever could have imagined it was, even on the very best day. It was worth every day that was long or hard, and every struggle.

It was gold.

Pray this thing through.
Don’t give up, give in, or cave.
What you are doing matters.
It has eternal consequences.

It matters beyond today’s frustration at listening to your stuttering early reader, the repeat attempt to explain decimals, or the child that misspelled every single spelling word. It matters beyond your guilt in thinking that your littles are not getting enough attention and your older ones aren’t getting enough instruction.
You are raising a unique generation. A generation with an iron core because it has not been subjected to the constant barrage designed to create a conformed populace with a “group think” mindset.

Satan does not want you to believe that homeschooling matters so he will take every opportunity to discourage you and tempt you to do something else. He will bludgeon you with guilt and perceived failure. He will whisper deceit and defeat continually if you let him.

So, don’t let him.

People will not applaud. Actually, most people will actively disapprove and try to convince you to do something else.
People will tell you it’s too hard on you, it’s too hard on your kids, and too hard on your finances.
People will tell you that you will make a greater impact if you are out in the work force.
Don’t listen to them.

It isn’t true.

History is filled with examples of the power of one. One man or woman who thought differently than everyone else and therefore did something unique. One man or woman who came to the world with an individual vision that challenged a generation and turned a culture.
We celebrate these individuals when we see the impact of their lives; we just don’t applaud (at the outset) the sacrifices or unique roads it took create them.

Homeschool Mom:  you are giving a gift to the times you live in. Your children are that gift. They will think differently. They will value uniquely. They will bring something precious, beautiful, and pure to a culture obsessed with ugly. Your work matters. Eternally.
Day by day, week by week blending into year by year you are building strong minds forged with an iron core, a potential of powerful influence on their generation. A gift to their culture of a different perspective, a bastion of truth, a bright light to the darkness that surrounds us.

Don’t listen to the voices that encourage you to quit.

Listen instead to the words of Deut. 6: 6-7:

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

Embrace the calling. 
Remember the power of one.
Resist the urge to quit.

Praying for you, and cheering you on from the sidelines.
Let me know if I can help.

 

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.

 

 

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.

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.

Homeschooling: What about money?

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It worries me a little that if I was a Mom today in the circumstances I was 28 years ago, I probably wouldn’t have considered homeschooling.    I wouldn’t have thought I would fit.  Frankly, I wouldn’t have thought I had enough money.

 

Nobody likes to talk about money.  It seems tawdry somehow, but I see lots of wonderful people who begin the homeschool journey, are passionate about it, yet eventually abandon it for monetary reasons.  I can understand it.  It is almost impossible to make it on one income today.  Unless your spouse makes serious money, and frankly most people don’t; it takes real sacrifice.  But homeschooling is not for the elite, the financially well-heeled, the talented or the exceptionally   educated.  It is for families passionate about raising their children to love and serve Jesus.

Homeschooling originated as a move of the sacred.  Faithful church families from the previous generation were losing their kids to the world in droves.  It was frightening to watch and sobering to consider.  A revival of God brought families home.  He brought them home to school, home to live and learn life together as believers.  The vision was to create a firm foundation to launch mighty men and women for Jesus to be lights in a very dark world.  The focus was on character, separation from the world, and service to the Lord.

 

The only thing early homeschoolers had in common was a deep desire to raise their children for God. 

 

When I pulled my fourth and second grader from public school to begin homeschooling them in the 1980’s, my husband was an E-5 in the military.  (For those of you non-military people, that translates to….didn’t make much money)  We had 5 children under the age of 10, and no money in the bank.   We didn’t even own a car.   I think we were minimalist before it was trendy.    There wasn’t any gross mismanagement of money or circumstances; frankly there just wasn’t enough money to manage.   We were obviously poor.    My husband rode a bike to and from work.  Believe me we stood out.  While we were in these very circumstances, God called us to homeschool.  Even I didn’t think it would work out.

 

I’m concerned that today homeschooling more and more gives the impression  that it is for the elite.   Everyone has expensive clothes, music lessons, gymnastic lessons or special sports coaching.   Our ranks are filled with high paying professions.  Please don’t misunderstand me here.  I’m not bashing  any of those things.   It is the very fact that God blessed homeschooling so strongly, and gave such outstanding results to so many very ordinary parents, that created the draw that fills our ranks.   The problem that concerns me is that as the ranks fill with more and more financially successful families, the percentage of middle and lower income families diminishes.  Each year I watch that percentage get smaller, and therefore the feeling of belonging gets weaker for those who are on the lower end financially.

 

The influx of financially prosperous families brought changes to our community, and it’s time we thought about those changes. Some have been wonderful.  Prosperous families invested in the start-up costs for programs(especially sports) that have in turn blessed many.  Other changes are not so wonderful.   In the beginning most if not all homeschool events were free.  Now in contrast…. EVERYTHING COSTS.  The fees are often perceived as relatively small, but we are often comparing them to what similar activities cost in the secular arena.  The flaw in that reasoning is that most families in the secular arena are dual income, and the government is paying for the children’s education.  They have more discretionary money.

 

 Let’s only charge for what’s necessary, and let’s  only charge what it costs.

 

So….what’s my point? Mostly, I guess I want to encourage those families that think they don’t fit financially.

 

Homeschooling is a move of the sacred not the secular.

 

God blesses homeschooling.  God will honor the fact that you do it in spite of your financial challenges.  My husband rode a bike to work for about 10 of our homeschool years.  He would do it again.  We have wonderful memories from those very financially strapped years.    If you are tempted to quit because of money, I beg you to reconsider.  God did not care where we were financially.  He cared about our faithfulness.    Don’t wait to homeschool until you can afford it, because I don’t think that day ever comes.  Homeschool because God calls you to it.  Extras are nice, but they are not necessary.

 

For the rest of us, let’s never forget our roots as homeschoolers.  God calls among all economic situations.  God uses the poor or the less prosperous to test our hearts and our generosity.   May the test find us open-hearted, open-handed, and embracing the opportunity to learn from those whose struggles are different than our own.

 

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