Saturday, September 28, 2013

Why do I home school?

      I have been asked this question a few times. Some asking out of honest curiosity, while others wanting to know why I've chosen to "do this" to my children. Let me start by saying home schooling is not for every family. I have nothing against people who send their kids to the school system. It is each parents responsibility to choose what is best for their family. That being said, I will tell you why I choose to home school my children. 

       It allows us to focus learning on God. The world today is so lacking in basic biblical knowledge that it is sad. It is the foundation of life. I've had people tell me that it is horrible that I keep my kids home to "brainwash" them with religious falsehoods. I choose not to let them be "brainwashed" by the world, thanks. I want my kids to learn what purity is, and that a lot of what goes on in the world is NOT ok. I want them to know that they are more than products of a pile of ooze millions of years ago. No, they need to know that God created them, and every fiber of their being, and that he did so with a purpose, because he loves them. They need to know that no matter how bad this life may get, what awaits them is going to be worth it. 

        I love the freedom of allowing my kids to pursue their interests as school subjects. They learn so much more! I love that we aren't tied to a building. We can go visit family and take school with us. My daughter can pursue her passion for ancient Egypt, fashion design, and animals, and my son can fully explore his love of building, and designing. We are talking history, science and art right there! I guide their learning within their interests so I can be sure they are learning well. 

      We get time to be a family. Life is so busy and people hurry everyplace. My kids don't have to spend their evenings swamped in home work. We get to do things together. I go to work a lot of evenings, but it gives them quality dad time when I'm not there. Dad time and family time are rare things in our world. 

       I homeschool for social reasons. What?? Yes, you read that correctly. I tire of the same question: "What about socialization?" My children get much more positive social interaction with peers and those above and below their age level. I do not think 25 other 7 year olds are who I would like teaching my 7 year old how to act. They do have friends and are both involved in extra curricular sports/activities. Am I sheltering them? Yes, to a degree, I am. I want them to develop into confident, well rooted individuals. I feel they need to know where they stand before they can stand firm. I want them to not be bullied, or picked on for obscure reasons. They know this stuff is out there. I see no constructive reason that them missing out on it everyday will hinder their emotional growth. People have asked me how I can deprive my daughter of going to prom. Seriously? I wasn't aware that prom was such a key factor to my child's education, life, and well being. I guess I missed the memo on that one. Teaching them at home allows us to let them focus on learning, and having fun. Not worrying about being made fun of. 

         I choose to home school because of all these reasons and then some. I have been entrusted with a great responsibility-my children. There are days when I can't imagine doing anything else and there are days when I want to do anything else. There are ups, downs, and corkscrews. I'm far from doing it "right" or perfectly. I can do so much better than I am, I'm sure. Yet, I feel this is the path God wants me on. 

        Homeschooling is a journey, not a destination. For my family it is the best choice. I am thankful for our freedom to do this. I realize that there are people out there who may use this freedom inappropriately, but the good ones far out number the bad. You can't judge the many, by the few. 

          I could go on and on about the many reasons and describing them in great detail. However, I feel that this is sufficient in giving people a good picture. I hope this helps to answer questions and encourages those who already home school. Life is diverse, and so are we. 


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Here is your information overload.

      A few posts back I said I would begin answering questions on my blog that were emailed to me.
Well, I did receive a few questions. However, they were so personal in nature I didn't wish to publish the answer. So, keep the questions coming and I'll do my best to answer.  If the person asking wishes me to write an answer publicly I will. 

I received a great response to my last post. In this entry I'd like to tell you all of a few of the resources that I've found. I'm not perfect, and fail at many things, but I try to do my best, and pray Gods mercy will fill up my great lack of...everything. 

I hope that these help you and inspire you to try to learn more and teach more. 

First, there is an amazing blog, hands on bible teacher, that is full of amazing ideas and methods. I HIGHLY recommend this. Another good site is It is full of great print outs (some free, some not) and some lesson plans.  

       I have also had great luck with lap books. If you aren't sure what they are, please "google it". It is a LOT of fun for kids. I google bible themed lap book ideas and get a ton of information. 

      If you are looking for a traditional curriculum, I also have a few recommendations. We have used Christian light publications. It is very thorough and accurate. I learned a lot going through it with my kids. 
        Rod and staff publishers also have good stuff. They are very conservative in their views, and most of the illustrations depict Amish and Mennonite if that gives you a gauge. It is good stuff though. Lots of pure bible information, especially Old Testament. 
       I really really enjoy finding curriculum and putting it together into lessons. If you too, are demented like that, you can find all kids of random information online that you can put together yourself bit by bit. I sadly don't always have the time that I want for it. 

         One of my favorite bibles for kids to use (and even adults if you need to brush up on your bible stories) is the Action bible. It's a giant comic book that is very accurate with its stories, in my opinion. It is great to sit down as a family and go though it story by story. Who doesn't like comics? You, in the back, put your hand down. 

          What I do not recommend doing with kids is reading straight through a bible. I mean, it's all pretty interesting until you get to numbers. Even most adults stall out Numbers. It's like reading the never ending story problem. Don't do it. You as an adult, I believe, should read the Bible cover to cover. When you do this (trudging through the book of numbers) you get a better sense of the completion of the bible and how it is so intricately connected from start to finish. 

       Right now with my own kids, I'm doing something with them together and separately. My 11 yr old is assigned a daily devo to read and write in a prayer journal about. My 7 yr old is working on memorizing the books of the Old Testament and praying. Together we work on memory verses. We are also going through the major stories in the bible right now. They learn  different things from the stories, even though we do the same story. For example, we are going through the story of creation. My son is working on memorizing what was created on what days with little projects and worksheets. My daughter is looking at it from a creation vs evolution prospective and digging deeper. 

        Now, allow me to give a disclaimer here. I want not a soul to think I've got this all figured out and do it perfectly. If you envision us all getting up at dawn with cups of hot tea sitting at desks studying hard as we are all dressed like we are going to church, you are so very very wrong. Allow me to paint you a more accurate picture. It is 11 am and My son, still in his underwear, is crashing matchbox cars on the floor while I try to read the bible lesson. I tell him to focus, and he laments. So I let him continue, as long as he can tell me what I've just said (which he always can and it drives me nuts. But he learns while moving, I think). My daughter is laying sprawled on the couch chewing gum and doodling. We try to say a prayer and the dogs suddenly think its time to play, which cracks the kids up and they start giggling. Some days I feel like they learned nothing and others I feel like they are hanging on my every word. I feel that that is why we do more than just read. We do worksheets and projects too. We also hang charts and draw pictures. For those days when the story seems to float over them like a cloud, it helps the information to stick.

          Finally, don't hold yourself back. If you feel like you need to know more before you teach your kids, don't. Learn together. Let them see you making discoveries in a Gods word, so that they can be eager to make their own. 


Thursday, September 5, 2013

A dull blade for battle.

I'm going to start you off in this post with some interesting math figures.
    The average child in America spends 6 hours a day in school for 180 days per year, for 13 years. So 6 x 180=1,080 hours per year. Then 1080 x 13= 14,040 hours per child for k-12. Now, this is an estimation on time spent, so don't get your knickers in a twist. We won't count hours spent on projects, homework, etc. Like I said, we are using basic numbers here.  
Now I will give you a new set of numbers. If your child attends Bible class every single Sunday for a year and classes are an hour of instruction, that is about 52 hours per year. Let's multiply that from the time they are born until they are 18. So 52 x 18=936 hours in 18 years. That friends, is less than the amount of time spent in one year of school. So we wouldn't quite have graduated Kindergarten. If you want to add in an hour long bible class for every Wednesday night in there it would be roughly a total of 1872 hours from birth to 18 years....not quite enough to pass first grade. 

         Those numbers make you think. I understand that your child may spend more than that per week in the bible and I also understand that I am lumping things together and not dividing learning into subjects when I do the estimates for a school year. Yet, even with those things it is nothing short of shameful. Would we send our kids into the world with less than a 1st grade education? Certainly not! Then why do we think its ok for their knowledge of the Bible to be so sparse? We are sending our children to battle with blunt blades. How effective can this possibly be? 

        It might be argued that the children learn the Bible by watching you live it. While that is a noble idea, and there is something to be said for making your actions an example, I wonder if you would let them learn math by you living it. A lot of people use math more often than the Bible during the day and would still not find it acceptable.  Can we learn how to build a rocket by seeing one launched?  We need basic knowledge that is steadily built upon. 

        If we do want to talk about examples, let's look in the mirror for a moment. When was the last time your kids saw you sit down just to read the Bible? Or pray when it wasn't a meal? We must practice what we preach! Bible stories used to be common knowledge, even among non-church goers. Most of it has all but faded away from common knowledge. Most people I talk to about reading their Bible insist that it's just too difficult if a book, and they'll just trust a preacher to help them out with questions. Preachers can be wrong. They are human. It is OUR responsibility to study and sort truth from fiction. Look at acts 17:11. Personally I love to question everything and I even enjoy a good debate now and then with reasonable people. You learn so much by questioning. 

         Currently we live in a world where anything and everything you ever wanted to know and learn is at your fingertips.....except things like, compassion, honesty, and common sense. I think that some part of us feels we can look up what we need to know, when we need to know it. While that might be great for finding a recipe, it is not the same as having the knowledge tucked away in your heart. What is tucked in our hearts shows through in our everyday lives. 

          We are also a busy society. We profess to put God as #1, yet we talk to Him rarely and know so little of His letter written for us. I wonder how it would go over if we used the same level of "#1" with our spouses. I picture it going over like a pig without wings. I pray that if we find time for soccer, dance, piano, movies, and  baseball practice,  we can find time for teaching our children the word of God....and ourselves for that matter. 

        We are all in this. Our culture doesn't want us to teach our children all this "god stuff".  I've been told more than once that I should expose my children to everything and let them decide. More importantly, Satan doesn't want us to teach our children. Satan likes a nice, dull blade. 

       Don't know where to start? There are so many curriculums and programs out there, that it's crazy. Ask for help or suggestions. You don't have to spend money or get fancy. You have options, you just have to be willing to try something new and maybe even step outside of your comfort zone.  

       Do not be deceived into thinking that you know the stories, or know what you "need to know". It is our sword. We need to know it, how it moves, feels in our hands, and exactly how to handle it. There is always more to learn. Always. God will highlight different thoughts at different points of your life. Let God teach you.

         We need to sharpen the blades of our children and teach them how to keep it sharp.  Don't let them go to battle unarmed. The world is ready for them, ready to destroy them. They are our children, nieces, nephews....our future.  In fact, what do OUR blades look like? This is really about All of us, isn't it? How can we teach our children to sharpen their swords if we don't even know where ours is?? 


Let's get to work renewing and expanding our knowledge and handing it to the next generation as well. Let no one be unarmed.