Review: Teach Them Diligently


I appreciate discovering new reads which edify our family and encourage us in the faith. Throughout the learning year, and especially during seasons of downtime meant to refresh the mind and body, we want to fill ourselves with the Word of God and ask the Lord to show us His continued path for our family. Teach Them Diligently from Master Books is a beautiful reminder of God’s calling for parents, and a lovely way to start our summer break!

Teach Them Diligently is an edifying, encouraging read written from the heart of one parent to another. Leslie Nunnery takes us through a series of chapters and a multitude of Scripture, reminding us of the God-given gift of parenting. Together we cover topics such as the privilege of the position, preparing the parent, discipleship-focused parenting, and the importance of our conversations. Each chapter finishes with a gentle opportunity to reflect on what the Lord is teaching, offering our thanks and seeking His face. The result is a beautiful, mindful evaluation of our role as Mom and Dad.

“…It’s easy to say we trust Christ for everything, but are we living that truth?… Learn the practical view of discipleship parenting, what God expects from parents, and how to put these truths into action. See how parenting with the vision of teaching them diligently will intentionally bear fruit and affect change in your own life as well. Move beyond giving lip-service to what you believe, and make the conscious choice to rely on the wisdom of God’s holy instruction for your life and parenting…”
~ Master Books

Our family was blessed with a PDF copy of Teach Them Diligently for review. Always ready to hear what the Lord desires to teach me as both mom and educator, I couldn’t wait to dig into this book. After a particularly full day – one in which I most definitely needed a refilling of the Spirit – I put aside my never-ending to-do list, found a comfortable spot on a window seat, and asked the Lord to speak. With a little over one hundred engaging pages,review_teach_them_insert I found myself finishing Teach Them Diligently in less than a couple of hours. It was time well spent.

I found Teach Them Diligently to be a refreshing read. This was a wonderful reminder to remain faithful in our call to God as parents. I was edified through the multitude of Scripture presented, and reminded that in order to correctly train up my people I must first be righteous before my Father in heaven.

Personally, I recommend Teach Them Diligently be read by all Christian parents. From where I sit, it has just been added as one of my top ten gifts for all the parents we know. I think this lays a beautiful foundation for parents new to the faith and those having their first babies. For the rest of us who’ve been doing this for a bit, it is a fantastic reminder that our job is not yet done.

If you’d like to learn more about Teach Them Diligently and Master Books please visit them at their website – where you can download a preview or place your order for this incredible resource – and on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube!

FTC Disclaimer

Your Turn!: In what specific areas of parenting has the Lord shown you diligence might be currently needed?

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Is Catechism Only for Catholics?

is_catechism_only_for_catholicsIt happened while I was scrolling through my Instagram feed. I had found five minutes to call my own, and used it to peek in on a few homeschool friends who never fail to inspire and edify. As I was passing out hearts to all the lovely images greeting my eye, one post in particular had me pausing and taking a second look. A fellow mama was extolling the beauty discovered in a new catechism curriculum, and this got me thinking. Is catechism only for Catholics, or should I be teaching this too?


a summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for the instruction of Christians.

Now, you’ll kindly forgive my ignorance. Catechism has never been a subject ever discussed in any of the churches I’ve attended. Not once. I was familiar with the traditional Catholic practice, but not within my own non-denominational establishment. We firmly believe in teaching the Bible and worldview apologetics, but the word catechism was something specifically associated with being Catholic.

Didn’t I feel sheepish and slightly bothered I had never come across this concept in all my years attending church, nor in the homeschooling community itself. How was this possible? Never one to let that stop me, I spent the next week doing as much research as possible on the topic; praying about what the Lord wanted for our family. Two weeks later, after confirmation from the Lord, we began our studies.

God is good, and works in mysterious ways. It seems while we might not have been going through a specific set of questions and answers – formal catechism – our family had been learning these concepts for years! As we began our study and proceeded to memorize exact responses to questions, it reaffirmed we have been on the right track all along teaching our children basic Bible doctrine and tenets of our faith. The Lord is truly amazing.

We might be new to the concept of formal catechism, but we’re quickly learning its rich history and the benefit of including this in our homeschool studies. Side-by-side, we quiz each other and encourage one another in our memorization. By the Lord’s leading we are strengthening our Biblical skills and drawing closer to Him.

Isn’t it amazing what five minutes of encouragement can do?

Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
~ Proverbs 22:6

Your Turn!: Share your favorite resources for teaching catechism! We’d love to learn more.

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Learning the Value of Handcrafting

learning_the_value_of_handcraftingI am not a creative person. That is unless you consider organizing paperwork, closets, busy schedules, and four little people creative. I often tease my children the only thing I have ever created is them, and even then I can’t take credit as God did all the work. Thus you can imagine crafting isn’t at the forefront of my mind. The Lord has needed to teach me the value of handcrafting, and the important role it plays in our family.

I’ll be honest and confess we probably would have skipped over the art of handcrafting entirely had the Lord not brought a few incredible women into my life. These ladies graciously hosted events, encouraging me to attend. Because of their influence, my daughters expressed a desire to learn. With a heart to lead my children and follow the Lord’s direction, I slowly found myself emerged in a new adventure.

I’d love to tell you once we began I was consistent and diligent in our study of handcrafting. I wish I could tell you I developed a passion for it. Neither would be true. However, I did learn a few valuable lessons.

Patience – There’s nothing like learning a new skill to reveal the true nature of our patience. We try, try again, and try again. The adventurous journey is half the lesson. It is through our errors we learn; more than just the specific skill, but a will to keep pursuing.

Economy – Crafting can be financially draining if we’re not careful. What a fine opportunity to teach our children budgeting skills such as saving and looking for deals; not to mention the value in items being handmade and not store-bought.

The Art of Giving – I used to think everything I created had to be put to use in my own home. This prevented me from crafting as I didn’t see myself needing a great deal of the items I might be interested in making. Then the Lord reminded me our gifts can be used to bless others. Seeing the art through this lens has changed my perspective.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All – Social media can be discouraging. We are shown images of people who are talented at creating the most amazing things, in a variety of mediums and skill level. All with hundred-watt smiles on their faces. Then we wonder why knitting just doesn’t do it for us. We start thinking something is wrong. The truth is, we are each given our own areas of creativity. Instead of wasting time wondering why sewing doesn’t light me up like a Christmas tree, I want to focus on learning the skill so I better understand the craft and have a decent appreciation for the art. Then, I can move toward discovering another area of handcrafting in which I will find greater interest.

Perfection Isn’t Everything – One of my biggest hangups is not being able to create something which is just as good as something I might purchase in a store. (This is where the patience factor comes in.) But perfection isn’t the end goal. As a family, we’ve determined to look at handcrafting as an exploration of art and skill. Improvement will come with time and practice.

There Is a Time for Everything – When I discover an area of learning we’ve missed or allowed to slip by the wayside, the tendency is to come down on myself. The Lord has needed to remind me there is a time for everything; even a time away from handcrafting. Instead of lamenting what wasn’t, we move forward with what could be. Maybe the break is exactly what we needed.

My Passion – I do not have a passion for crafting. Oh, I love looking at craft supplies. They are so blasted pretty! If I could merely purchase all of it so I could spend hours organizing them – and organizing them alone – I would be over the moon. Somehow that doesn’t seem a wise move. What I do have a passion for are my family, and helping them to follow their God-led passions. No, crafting isn’t my thing. But it is my kids’ thing. So, I’ve learned to adopt an attitude of joy. I get excited because they are excited. I edify and encourage. And, from time to time, create alongside them.

Thank the Lord he has given us friends who are so adept in the arts. They inspire and give me hope. Through their influence we’ve learned new skills and the value of handcraft. While I freely admit you still won’t find me sitting in a chair with knitting needles in my hand – I’d rather be reading a book or writing a review of new curriculum I can’t wait to share with the world – I confess it fills my heart to overflowing as I watch my daughters huddled together on a couch, crocheting various projects while watching old movies and encouraging one another in their progress. The value of handcraft is made visible and clear; pure and made for His glory.

“‘Let every skillful man among you come, and make all that the LORD has commanded:”
~ Exodus 35:10

Your Turn!: Does your family have a handcrafting skill it’s currently focusing on?

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Why Am I Two Steps Ahead?

why_am_i_two_steps_aheadI can’t help it, really I can’t. Once the end of our learning year seems to be in sight, I am already starting to think of what comes next. I don’t wait for the year to finish, I don’t wait for summer time; I start planning the minute the urge takes over. It looks like this year is no different. We hadn’t even finished our third quarter and I was already two steps ahead.

By nature, I tend to be an overly organized person. I also tend to obsess over things and continually think over them until I’ve made myself crazy. When I consider what next year might bring, it helps to start writing things out and narrowing down decisions. This gives me plenty of time to thoroughly inspect new ideas or activities and test out concepts to see if they work practically. It also helps in being able to do research, if some of our new interests require a financial investment or a great deal of time. Once ideas are written down, I don’t have to worry about forgetting a truly awesome idea or keeping information in my head. It’s down on paper and I have plenty of time to get to it.

I also tend to write down thoughts on how our routine is currently working. Is our day Bookshelf_Feb2010running smoothly? Will our day need to be adjusted next year to accommodate our children’s needs or household schedules? What is working well this year that I don’t want to change? What is not working and needs to be revamped? Which things need a complete replacement?

Planning ahead has also helped me in mapping out our children’s educational futures. By looking in the direction our children are headed, I have a better idea of how their learning should be planned out now. If my child wants to be a zoologist, I don’t want to wait until her junior year of high school to start bumping up her science courses; that is something we need to start looking at in junior high.

The only downside I see to being two steps ahead (or three, or four), is that I get anxious to start. I become excited over new projects, new school books, new routines, and new opportunities to learn. While I understand the current year needs to be completed, I’m chomping at the bit to move on.

Above all else, I am continually praying for our coming year. No matter what new changes – and there are going to be some awesome ones – come our way, I want to make sure we are following the path He has laid before us. If I do this on my own, I know I am going to fail. With Him, this next year looks to be an excellent one!

The heart of man plans his way,
    but the Lord establishes his steps.”
~ Proverbs 16:9

Your Turn!: When do you begin looking at next year’s routine?

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Review: Quick Answers to Tough Questions

review_quickanswersWe may have mentioned one or twice that our learning year is almost at an end. On one hand we’re winding down and preparing for a brief season of relaxation. On the other… Mom is busy planning for next year, and doing a great deal of praying over our curriculum choices. The first area of consideration is always Biblical studies and logic. While the Lord has clearly given us direction for our girls, my son’s lessons were still in question. That is until we had the privilege of reviewing Quick Answers to Tough Questions from Bryan Osborne, Bodie Hodge, and Master Books.

Quick Answers to Tough Questions provides Christians with simple, precise, quick answers to important questions we face on a frequent basis. Topics include creation, evolution, the age of the earth, Noah’s Ark, death, suffering, and more. Leading readers through six main areas of discussion, apologists Bryan and Bodie have dedicated themselves to teaching the Word of God and presenting the gospel message.

“Biblical history and a biblical worldview help us to understand the past, present, and future. Too many believers have fallen victim to those who say that the Bible’s history is false or that science has disproved it. Equip yourself to address the skeptical questions and comments of believers and unbelievers alike and successfully stand strong in your defense of the inerrancy and truth of God’s Word.”

Our family was incredibly blessed with a printed, paper-backed copy of Quick Answers to Tough Questions for review. While excited to read this book for myself, my main objective quickanswers_quicklook1was to identify whether this would be a good fit for our son’s learning adventure next year, when he will be entering sixth grade. I wished to approximate the length of our lessons and map out an organized routine. For my own reading, I progressed through several lessons a day noting any difficulty in vocabulary and possibility of deeper study. I was pleased to find I was able to read through each lesson in a matter of minutes, while most lessons provided plenty of additional study. Biblical references abound, and that is always a plus in my book!

While no specific age category has been suggested for the read, after our assessment, we believe this resource would be of benefit for those ten and up or younger students with high vocabulary skills. This will be a perfect fit for our son; slightly challenging, but not overwhelming. Each lesson was only two pages in length. Setting aside time for the possibility of additional questions our son might have or complimentary topics we wish to explore, we are planning for a twenty to thirty minute Bible study time each morning of our learning week.

Friends, we couldn’t be more pleased with this resource! We love the organized quickanswers_quicklook2progression of topics and questions being presented. Lessons are simple, yet offer so much wisdom. As we mentioned, Biblical references are many; offering not just opinion, but truth from the Word of God. We love that each question presented is one we as adults face on a regular basis, helping prepare our children for questions they too might face. As an educator, I appreciate the ability to delve deeper into many of these topical questions regarding scientific study and historic figures mentioned in the lessons. Given the bonus section, “More Answers”, at the back of the book which offers additional reading for study, we feel certain this resource will be well used during the coming year.

We love discovering new educational resources, especially those which build our faith and edify our family. Quick Answers to Tough Questions is a fantastic resource and one which we can’t wait to implement in the coming year. With Biblical studies and logic squared away, we’re excited to continue planning the rest of the coming year’s learning routine. Each season is an adventure, and we can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do next!

If you’d like to learn more about Quick Answers to Tough Questions and Master Books please visit them at their website – where you can download a preview or place your order for this incredible resource – and on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube!

FTC Disclaimer

Your Turn!: How big a role do apologetics and logic play in your learning routine?

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Working Out Their Own Faith

working_out_their_own_faithOur family recently had the opportunity to visit with friends at their daughter’s birthday party. The kids had a blast, and we were able to catch up on recent happenings. But instead of walking away feeling refreshed and encouraged, I found myself thoughtful and frustrated. During our short visit, the father had expressed to my husband how he hoped we had enjoyed the young years while they had lasted. His reasoning? He went on to explain that all children need to work out their own faith and go through their own gospel experience. Now that our children were teens, we would lose our children to the world and they would rebel.

While I believe his heart was in the right place – he meant to impart wisdom – his words rubbed me raw. Do all children need to accept God on their own? YES! While it might sound like a cliché; God does not have any grandchildren. We don’t piggyback on our parent’s faith. We need to have our own. What I do not believe is that all children need to go through a hard, rebellious stage before accepting Christ as Savior. While there are no foolproof ways to keep our children from rebelling, there are steps we can take which help them make the right choices. Not all children go through this stage.

So, how do we go about preventing rebellion? I honestly think it all boils down to relationship. When our children know we love them and our choices reflect this love, they are less likely to rebel. When our children love us in return, they will do everything in their power to please us and bring us joy.

The key to squashing rebellion is love. We ought to be loving on our kids constantly and allowing them to love on us. We have open communication with lots of talk about why decisions are made in our home. Love is not casual permissiveness. (We don’t just give them what they want.) Love sometimes means correction, discipline, and consequences. When we love on our kids to this extent, we know who their friends are and their friends’ families. We know who is offering influence and we curb those choices; explaining them to our kids and why.

I believe that when our children see the evidence of love in our relationship with God, in our marriages, and for them, they will naturally want to please us. This love also opens doors for how they view God. Through our conversations, our actions, and our affection, our children see faith in action. They will see the blessings that come with a life lived for Him. They will see the distinction between those who rebel and those who obey. Our children will naturally come to their faith and without necessarily having to experience a tragic testimony.

Does this mean our children are perfect? Heavens, no! We aren’t perfected yet so why would be expected this of them? What this does mean, is that they will not willfully go out and hurt themselves, us, or God. While they might make mistakes, they are not doing so out of mutinous emotion.

I can always tell when I am failing to love on my children as much as I ought. Our children question my authority, they act out, and they have a hard time controlling their own emotions. This is a wake up call for me. I have somehow dropped the ball and need to bring things back into perspective. Once I get things back into focus, our children naturally resume their loving nature. The problem is usually me!

If I learned one thing from that afternoon with our friends, it was this… Unless I want my children to contribute to this statistic, I need to be proactive. I have a choice. I can allow this to happen or I can strive to prevent it. The only way I can see that happening is through strong doses of love. Supernatural, unconditional love; which only comes from the Father. With His help will my children be victorious in working out their faith.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
~ Proverbs 22:6

Your Turn!: Do you know a family whose children have yet to rebel? What do you think was the key to their success?

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Review: Heroes of History – Ronald Reagan by YWAM Publishing

review_reaganWhen our children were little, unit studies were a regular portion of our routine. We had lessons surrounding good literature, sessions focused on character study and more. As the kids got bigger such studies made less of a showing; until recently. This month, our family had an opportunity to review Ronald Reagan: Destiny at His Side in the Heroes in History Series from YWAM Publishing, and this mom couldn’t be more thrilled with the incredible learning adventures these lessons are bringing to the table.

YWAM Publishing is a division of Youth With A Mission. YWAM Publishing produces materials covering a range of topics such as Missions, Homeschooling, Christian Living, and more. From printed material to audio books and MP3 downloads, you’ll find a multitude of resources available. Of particular interest to our family are Christian Heroes: Then & Now and Heroes of History, which focus on bringing the shaping of history to life with remarkable true stories and trusting God to accomplish extraordinary exploits for His kingdom.

Choosing from the vast selection of historical figures to focus our attentions was not easy. There are many remarkable people we would enjoy learning more about. Due to his recent reagan_ca
passing, we were tempted to study more on Billy Graham: American’s Pastor. Several historic American figures were incredibly tempting: John Adams: Independence Forever, Abraham Lincoln: A New Birth of Freedom, George Washington:True Patriot and more. However, after much consideration, we opted to study Ronald Reagan: Destiny at His Side. With recent activity in California politics, our oldest daughter entering her senior year in a few short weeks, and a general knowledge of this gentleman, we thought this would be an excellent historical study to end our learning year.

Having never had the pleasure of reading through any of the Heroes of History series, this was an adventure for our family. We received a lovely paperback book to review; read aloud during group history time and studied two days a week in our home for approximately two hours. Ideally, all four of our children – ranging from my junior in high school to my fifth-grade son – would be present. After our reading, activities would be chosen which would bring chapters to life and give deeper insight into President Reagan’s life.

To assist with choosing beneficial activities, we were also given a lovely, digital Ronald Reagan Unit Study to review! Unit Study Guides are adaptable to include Small Groups, Classroom use, and Homeschool. The homeschooling overview being the best fit for our current needs. Each guide includes adaptations for the parents’ role including parent-directed study, student-directed study, and working with children of varying ability levels reagan_outlineand learning styles. Within the study guide itself the unit is broken down into categories such as Key Quotes, Display Corner, Chapter Questions, Student Explorations, Community Links, Social Studies, Related Themes to Explore, and Culminating Events; each with many suggested activities. At the end of the study guide is an exhaustive list of books and resources for further study, answers to chapter questions, and social studies reproducible pages. Our Unit Study Guide covered a multitude of learning areas: history, geography, essay writing, creative writing, reading comprehension, public speaking drama and art.

Our reading of Ronald Reagan: Destiny at His Side was a breeze. The chapters were short, fun, and easy to follow. The book covered the life of President Reagan from his youth to his death, and the impact his life made on the world. Our read was enjoyable and educational. I’m ashamed to admit I had not remembered an attempt was on his life – although as we were reading I vaguely recalled hearing about this – nor did I knowreagan_wksht much about his background other than his having been an actor. It was fascinating learning about his history as a sports announcer and life guard. Looking through the unit study, I was absolutely amazed! The guide is incredibly comprehensive with many activities and options to explore. From a teaching perspective, I appreciated the helpful tips on how to make the most of this curriculum and the chapter questions. I especially liked the biography time periods, curriculum timeline, and character qualities chart; these visuals make it easier to plan future unit studies. Student explorations offered hands-on projects, audio/visual projects, arts, and crafts which were suitable for all our children. Having a display corner was especially appealing. Listening to old radio programs is a family pastime, so it was fun to find this activity already listed in the study guide. We had the opportunity to can food, create maps, construct journals, and so much more.

While our first reading of Ronald Reagan: Destiny at His Side went quickly, with a select amount of activity chosen, I would like to revisit this sometime in the coming year and progress through the unit study with greater depth. Given the vast selection of activities and learning areas to explore, we could easily spend several months on this unit alone!

It has indeed been a while since our family has had the pleasure of exploring a unit study. YWAM and Heroes of History have been a fun adventure, and reminded us of the benefits of this learning method. As we look to planning the coming year, we’re excited to see which other studies might fit into our year. There is so much goodness to explore!

If you’d like to learn more about Ronald Reagan: Destiny at His Side, Heroes of History, Christian Heroes: Now & Then, or YWAM Publishing, please visit them at their website and on FacebookPinterest, Twitter or their Blog. To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what YWAM Publishing has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew.

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Your Turn!: Which series interests you most; Christian Heroes: Then & Now or Heroes of History?

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Our April Reads

The Plant Hunters: The Adventures of the World's Greatest Botanical ExplorersApril flew by before we could blink. As we’re beginning to wind down our learning year in the next few weeks, we’re looking forward to a little downtime which we will gladly fill with a hefty stack of reading material. This has been a fun month of reading, learning, and increasing in wisdom. April’s list has a few new books to hit the market, picture books, and others which added to our learning fun. As usual, all of our reads were an adventure!

We’ve broken down the list into categories and included our personal rating from zero to five stars. To read more about a particular book, simply click the title!

Picture Books:

  • Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 (B.C.R.Fegan) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- The magical donteverlookHotel of Hoo is a mysterious place with some very unusual occupants. As our guests explore the strange hotel, they are invited to experience everything it has to offer with just one warning… don’t ever look behind door 32.
  • Unplugged (Steve Antony) ⭐⭐⭐⭐- Meet Blip. Blip loves being plugged into her computer. When a blackout occurs, Blip trips over her wire and tumbles outside.
    Suddenly, Blip’s gray world is filled with color and excitement. She plays with her new friends and has adventures all day long. When Blip finally returns home, she realizes that the world can be even brighter once you unplug.

Learning Resources:

  • Thrifty Guide to Time Travel… (Jonathan Stokes) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- The only guidebook you need for your next time travel vacation! The Thrifty Guides are a snappy, informative travel guide containing information vital to the sensible time traveler.
  • Nature Anatomy (Julia Rothman) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- Acclaimed illustrator Julia Rothman celebrates the diverse curiosities and beauty of the natural world in this exciting new volume. With whimsically hip illustrations, every page is an extraordinary look at all kinds of subjects, from mineral formation and the inside of a volcano to what makes sunsets, monarch butterfly migration, the ecosystem of a rotting log, the parts of a bird, the anatomy of a jellyfish, and much, much more.
  • The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Great Escape (M.J. Thomas) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- In The Great Escape, Peter, Mary, and Hank journey to the pyramid-studded desert of ancient Egypt. When the trio become friends with Pharaoh’s daughter, they greatescapewitness first-hand as Moses petitions Pharaoh for the Israelites’ freedom. Plagues wreak havoc as the group races to decode the scroll, gets chased by a panther, and battles Pharaoh’s cunning advisor, the Great Magician. Young readers will anxiously follow along as Peter and Mary’s thrilling adventures bring the biblical story of Exodus to life.
  • Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason (Jason Lisle) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – A popular list of 439 alleged Bible contradictions has been circulating on the Internet for years. Many critics refer to this list as the definitive proof that the Bible is flawed. But apparently none of them bothered to actually check. Interestingly, not one of these 439 claims is a genuine contradiction. This shows that critics generally do not perform careful scholarship.

Books for Fun:

  • Ready Player One (Ernest Cline) ⭐⭐- In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize.

How are we rating these reads? Good question! If the book has a five, whether learning or for fun, it’s clean and we want it on our bookshelf permanently. Four stars are sorely tempting us, but as our local library carries them we’re in luck. Three stars are worth a look, but we don’t see ourselves reading them too often. Two stars were entertaining, but once was enough. One star was acceptable. And zero. Well, it’s zero.

What to be on the lookout for… Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 is everything charming! Parents should be advised there are a lot of fantastical creatures in this book – which we LOVE – but we understand not all parents wish to explore fantasy or fairy tales with their children. We absolutely adore this new read and share it with every little person who comes over to visit. Several of our learning resources have been read previously, but they are so good we revisit them on a continual basis. Clicking their titles will take you directly to reviews. Each is a title our family owns and highly recommends. Ready Player One… I’ll be honest. I truly enjoyed this book and didn’t think I would. However it does have language in it which means passing it off to my kids won’t be happening any time soon; which saddens me as everything else about this book is classic. I’m an eighties kid and this book spoke to my childhood. Unfortunately, as is generally the case, the movie is hideous in comparison. What a shame.

As we wind down our year, we’re noticing learning resource books have lessened. That seems a shame. Be assured this will not remain true for long! Our local summer reading program is just around the corner – which always means a ton of good reads – and we’ll be gearing up for another year of homeschool adventures in just a short month. Join us again during the month of May as we explore a world of literature and the adventure of reading. What will we read next?

“I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”
~ Psalm 101:3

Your Turn!: Are fairy tales/fantasy reads allowed in your home; why or why not?

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Review: Adaptive Math Curriculum Online from A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.)

review_aplusWe’re nearing the end of our learning year. While we’ve been assessing our progress throughout our schooling, this is the perfect opportunity to identify lessons which might need a tad more work before moving forward. Thanks to the Adaptive Math Curriculum Online from A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.) we’re zeroing in on math studies that could use a boost.

A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.) offers colorful, multimedia lessons that teach math concepts using audio, visuals, and text. Using interactive review, worksheets, step-by-step solutions, automatic grading and tracking, and various reports to measure student progress, A+ Interactive Math seeks to help identify and close learning gaps by re-teaching concepts needed. Currently, A+ Interactive Math offers both an Adaptive Math Curriculum Online and a  Family Math Package

Using the Adaptive Math Curriculum Online, students are given a series of placement test based on a “target” grade level. The program then gives a mini-test for each major math concept to gauge student’s skill level. If it detects any learning gaps between the “target” grade level and student’s current skill level, it automatically creates an individualized plan for the student. The plan includes video lessons, interactive review, practice worksheets online, automatic grading, tracking and re-test. Essentially this is a skill-based learning model. This program covers Grades 1–6 and Pre-Algebra. This program is completely automated, where lessons are chosen for you.review_aplus_interactive

Using the Family Math Package, students are not pre-tested. This is a package of ALL grade levels offered. Each grade level includes comprehensive course contents with video lessons, interactive review, practice worksheets, chapter tests, automatic grading, tracking and much more. Parents can place students in any grade and change the level at any time.

To help narrow-in on areas of math study which might need a little more work, our son was given a one year subscription to the Adaptive Math Curriculum Online. After receiving email confirmation of registration, setting up an account for both myself and my son was an easy process taking mere minutes. A fifth grade “target” was chosen for his review, as my son will be finishing this grade within a few short weeks. The goal was for him to spend approximately thirty minutes a day, Monday through Thursday, completing placement tests and working through possible lessons of review. As he progressed through the online curriculum, I could check on his work from my parent account; reviewing all answers from tests and areas which might need additional study.

While setting up our accounts was simple and easy, we did note finding a computer to access the lessons proved to be a little more challenging. While flash is loaded on our laptop, lessons could not be viewed. Placement tests were possible, but lessons gave us difficulty. Switching to a desktop computer, we experienced trouble attempting to access lessons on our kids’ login – which has higher viewing protection and blocks a great deal of incoming information. Thus, for these lessons, it was necessary to use an admin login and parental viewing controls. Because of this I chose to sit with my son while he completed lessons, which gave me greater opportunity to gather his thoughts on the adaptive math curriculum and view areas of struggle. This also meant I did not need to access my parent review_aplus_videolessonlogin as much as I would have expected, given I was able to see firsthand how he was progressing.

Adaptive Math Curriculum Online takes students through a series of placement tests based on their target, creating lessons when a child struggles in a particular area. In my son’s fifth grade target, seventeen tests were given with a range of twelve to thirty-plus questions in each. Tests took approximately ten to fifteen minutes to complete; depending on the type of questions asked. If for any reason we needed to leave a test, tests would then need to be retaken from the beginning. I’m thankful to say he did not seem to have any great difficulty in the bulk of these tests; passing fifteen of the seventeen lessons on his initial run. During one lesson I had him purposely miss a few questions, so we could see what a review lesson might look like should it be needed. Two additional areas of study were shown to need a little more work, but nothing which caused us great alarm.

For areas in which he struggled, we were able to view lessons to strengthen these skills. The lessons were brief and well taught, and offered him a quick Q&A to ensure he was on the right track. Lessons could be viewed as a slide presentation or in text form. Worksheets were also available; they greatly resembled the placement tests taken initially, but were good practice. If my son wished to see an overview of his progress, a report could be generated. Once my son is able to pass all of his placement tests, I am free to move him on to the sixth grade “target” from my parent login, and the fun begins again.review_aplus_login

From a teacher’s perspective, I would remind other educators A+ Interactive Math is not testing based on the chosen curriculum of your home. Expect to possibly see questions which your child has not come across before, or might be taught in a different manner. While we did not anticipate seeing quite so many placement tests – Honestly, I had imagined only several comprehensive exams. – having now used the online curriculum, I better understand the necessity of this process. As I mentioned, my son seemed to have little difficulty in the placement tests themselves, but I feel he would have done better had a visual “progress bar” been present. After moving through a great deal of questions, he would inevitably begin asking how much longer he had to go and when the test would be over. Had a “progress bar” been available, this would have been a great help. One quick tip: We did note having paper and pencil nearby was handy; several questions required these tools in order for him to identify the answer needed. Overall, from setting up our account to working through each placement test, the entire process ran fairly smoothly. All things considered, this curriculum does its job well.

Our learning year is almost over, but we’re not done yet. Before the year runs out, we’re zeroing in on a few final lessons and mastering areas of study which have proven to be a challenge. Adaptive Math Curriculum Online has been a help in closing those gaps and encouraging us to finish well. Let’s see what the new year brings!

If you’d like to learn more about Adaptive Math Curriculum Online, Family Math Package  or A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.), please visit them at their website and on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter. To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what A+ Interactive Math has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew.

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Your Turn!: Do you find a final review at the end of the school year helpful?

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How MY Home Schoolers Measure Up

how_my_homeschoolers_measure_upWhew! I could breathe a sigh of relief. Looking over that clever diagram of how home schoolers are measuring up, I could tell we were doing fairly well and I felt encouraged by how successful home schoolers are doing as a whole. Then, a thought occurred to me… This isn’t why I chose to home school. What matters is how my home schoolers measure up. Not to someone else, not to a diagram, and not to a standardized test. Rather, how they measure up to their own capabilities.

I can see how this diagram, and others like it, come in handy. There are people who need to see the numbers before they will believe that home schooling truly is and can be a success. Others need encouragement, seeing the evidence of their hard work. I could see myself using diagrams like this, presenting it to those who might have questions or doubt the outcome of learning at home.

I need to issue a cautionary note though, more to myself than anyone else. My advice is this: ” Self… this is not the measure of your child!” There, I said it. The minute I start spending more time focusing on whether or not we meet someone else’s standards for my family, rather than on what they need, that is when I lose my way. This isn’t a competition between them and anyone else; they are to achieve at their own pace and in their own 2-homeschooling-by-the-numbersway.

May we also point out that while the stats and information are helpful and interesting, this tool should not be used as a means to bash our public school friends over the head. Homeschooling is a calling. While we have chosen not to put our children in public school for various reasons, we understand and respect not every family has the ability to make this choice; nor the desire to do so. Let us not use this information as weapon, but a means of communicating the value in what we do.

Diagrams can be helpful and fun. However, they are not a guide for living. I will not panic if my child is a little below the “standard” and I am not going to get puffed up with pride if my child “excels”. I am going to accept my children for what they are, helping them to become the best they can be. After all, the measure of my child’s success is not going to be found on any chart. But in a life well lived.

“But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.”
~Galatians 6:4

Your Turn!: What do you use to help measure your children’s achievements?

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