Is Happiness a Factor for Choosing Homeschooling?

factor_for_homeschoolingI suppose there are many reasons to homeschool, some more pressing than others. One of the most recent arguments I have heard is that homeschooling brings happiness. Of all the reasons we have chosen to homeschool, happiness is not among them. Why, do we not want to be happy? Of course we do! But what happens when the momentary happiness is gone?

As much as we would all like to project the image of well-rounded kiddos, perfect houses, brilliant minds, and endless talents, the truth of the matter is there are days when life is just plain hard! Kids don’t always get along, the house can’t seem to stay clean, and life just keeps interfering with our well-laid plans. If we homeschool because ‘it brings us happiness’, we run the risk of burn out during those moments which are less than cheerful.

Don’t get me wrong, I often experience moments of happiness while learning with my children. Our family is, generally speaking, a happy one. That does not mean this is our reason for homeschooling. We homeschool to have better relationships within our family, to disciple our children, to further their education, and to encourage a love of learning. Most importantly, we homeschool because this is what God called us to do.

Joy is a byproduct of a well-lived life serving the Lord. I would pray each of us be filled with joy. However, I would caution anyone from pursuing homeschooling because they assume happiness and joy will naturally flow due to this choice of lifestyle. Joy stems not from circumstances, which might change, but is a gift which we openly acknowledge comes from God. When they are following His leading, joy simply emanates. More importantly, we are walking righteously.

“You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”
~Psalm 16:11

Your Turn!: Was happiness a motive when you were deciding whether or not to homeschool?

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A Simplified Life

Simplified_LifeBefore summer gets away from me and life once again becomes crowded with too many homeschooling resources, parent-taxi responsibilities, and an overburdened calendar, it’s time to take a moment to breathe and simplify life. Perhaps you’re feeling like me and could use a little encouragement. Join us in reviewing this fun, simple to follow series!

With these basic, easy steps, we hope to help simplify life. Join us as we share our thoughts on how to simplify all areas of our lives, homes, and learning.

A Simplified Life: Menu Planning
A Simplified Life: Chores
A Simplified Life: Homeschooling
A Simplified Life: Educational Resources
A Simplified Life: Extra Curricular Activities
A Simplified Life: Free Printables

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I Don’t Need This

The following article was written for our monthly PSP newsletter. With permission from our principal, we are sharing this with you; praying you are blessed by the heart of his message. Enjoy!

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School Logo“I Don’t Need This!” How many times have I uttered those words? Probably more than I can count, certainly more often than I recall. The chapter of the old year has closed, and a new chapter in our lives is just beginning. Many of us tend to look back at the past year, either rejoicing, or thanking God it is over. I am no exception. As I look back at the year, I too am glad, in a sense, that it is done. In truth, some chapters are darker, scarier, or less cheerful than others, to say the least. In my own case, the second half of the year was definitely in the trials category.

James tell us to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

To be honest, I struggle with verses like these at times, particularly those hard times. But in light of God’s Word, I have to conclude that my opening question does indeed have an answer. That answer is, “Apparently, I do.” If I truly believe that my Father is in control, is sovereign, and has a perfect plan for my life; and if I trust that, like Job, nothing can come my way that hasn’t been okayed by Him first, then I must conclude that my trials, however unpleasant, weighty, or dark they may seem, have been allowed by Him for some reason, likely more than one. I can only conclude one thing from this: God uses trials to work on me.

God has a LOT of work to do in me, so maybe that is why I seem to have so many trials? Back to James. It says to “count it all joy… knowing that the testing produces patience…” My first inclination, whenever things get difficult, is to immediately cry out for relief, strength, and praise to God for His wonderful sustaining grace… NOT!! Sadly, my first inclination is to complain, bemoan my circumstances, and wonder, “When will this end?”

I am not, by nature, a very patient man, just ask my wife and kids. My Father, however, is working on that. His ultimate goal is not my creature comforts, but that I may, personally, be complete, lacking nothing. In order for that to happen, I need to learn patience, because, at least according to James, patience has a work to accomplish. That work cannot be accomplished quickly, easily, or without trial, because patience is only needed when one has to wait. If all of my trials ended in a split second, when would patience be built up?

According to Paul, I am supposed to rejoice in the Lord always. (Php. 4:4) James said to count it all joy. This does not mean that I am supposed to enjoy the trials, there is nothing pleasant about what we are enduring, but I am supposed to rejoice in Him during it. The fact that He is working on me is a joy, because He is working toward a perfect end, and the fact that He is working on me at all proves that I am His.

Not only am I impatient, but my natural tendency is also to wander, roam, and get distracted. I am like the little boy whose father is constantly saying, “Come here, stay close to me.” Every time a trial comes along, I run back to my Father because, like that little boy, I am afraid, overwhelmed, intimidated, or perhaps simply had some sense knocked into me. This being the case, I can also conclude that God uses these trials to keep me close to Him, which is where I need to be.

In the words of a contemporary Christian artist: “Now, I don’t want to sound like some hero, ’cause it’s God alone that my hope is in, but I’m not gonna run from the very things that would drive me closer to Him; so bring it on.” (Steven Curtis Chapman, “Bring It On”)

As I put this all together, I am coming to understand a key fact: It is one thing to praise God during a trial… it’s not always easy, in fact, it rarely is… but it’s another thing entirely to praise Him for the trial, which is where I need to go if I am to count it a joy when I fall into one. May the blessing of the Lord abound in this new (learning) year as you stay close to Him.

Your Turn!: During your summer break, in what ways are you being purposeful in drawing closer to the Lord so that you might be refreshed for the coming adventures in learning?

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Two Shall Be One

The following is an excerpt from our ‘Homeschooling 101’ series, written to help encourage families who are new to the world of home education. We pray this post blesses you and reminds each of us that homeschooling is a family endeavor, not something ‘mommy does with the kids’. 

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two_shall_be_oneGenerally speaking, most of us mommies do the teaching in our homes. We pick the curriculum, we pick the method by which we teach, we decide which activities we will be involved in, and we do all the instructing. Does anyone see a problem with this scenario? Where is father in all of this? Shouldn’t he have a say in the education of his children?

A piece of advice I try to give new homeschooling families is include pop in your homeschooling. While dad might need to work all day, not being available to do actual instructing, there are many ways in which he can still be an active part of your children’s education:

  • He can pray for his family.
  • He can offer advice on which curriculum should be chosen.
  • He can discuss what the children learned at the end of each day.
  • He can be a sounding board for ideas.
  • If available, he can teach classes.

When we first began homeschooling, my husband was a great sounding board for ideas. Everything that came to my attention we discussed together. How did he think we should homeschool; do we use a classical method, an unschooling approach, or should we be eclectic? What should be the focus of our learning? He was instrumental in helping us to narrow down the goals of our family’s learning.

Homeschooling101

At the beginning of each year, I make a point of discussing everything with my husband. We talk about any new changes, new directions, new goals, and new ideas we’d like to try out. During these discussions, he makes a point of letting me know how he’d like to be involved in our children’s learning. This year he is participating in PE and helping with government/economics.

Sometimes we talk about things as they come up, others at the end of the night. The most fun way to have our conversations? A date night! We make a special coffee date and together plan out the coming year for our family.

Knowing my husband is 100% behind what we do gives me great peace of mind. I am not in this alone, I am not doing this on my own strength. We are in this together for the long haul, raising and training our children. If you don’t already, consider making your husband an active part of your homeschooling. No matter how “small” the contribution, it will be well worth the effort.

“AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.”
~ Mark 10:8

Your Turn!: How do you encourage your husband to participate in the homeschooling of your children?

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Review: Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 from The Critical Thinking Co.™

review_critical_thinking_detective

When our family first began homeschooling, I found myself overwhelmed by the wealth of information available. I was undecided regarding personal goals for our children or which method of homeschooling was best. Through prayer and my husband’s leading, we determined there were three goals we were seeking for our children. We wanted them to read well, so that they might take in the Word of God; write well, so that they could communicate what the Lord was speaking to them; and think well, in order to analyze the world in which they live and serve the Lord righteously. During this past month, our family had the pleasure of reviewing Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 from The Critical Thinking Co.™ which is helping us maintain these goals and encouraging our children to put on their thinking caps!

Producing quality products since 1958, The Critical Thinking Co.™ has a vast selection ofreview_criticalthinking_sample2 resources designed to help teach children critical thinking. Through the medium of math, vocabulary, reading, writing, science, and more, students are taught to analyze information and gain a deeper understanding of the world in which they live. Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 is one of several in the Critical Thinking Detective Lineup. A 32-page paperback workbook, Book 1 leads students through a series of detective cases challenging them to analyze data and develop observation skills. Designed for grades four through twelve, students will find each case fun to solve. 

“If we teach children everything we know, their knowledge is limited to ours. If we teach children to think, their knowledge is limitless.”
– Michael Baker, President

Our family was given a physical copy of Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 to review with our son. Little Man is eleven now; the perfect age to ensure those critical thinking skills are being formed and solidified. The thin paperback had an appealing cover which attracted his attention and increased his interest in the book. Each lesson began with a short mystery, followed by four suspects’ accounts of the case. Based on the details of the mystery and the information given, our son needed to determine which suspects were innocent and which was the guilty party. To assist him, each mystery included a suspect sheet upon which he could record a person’s name and reasons why he believed them to be innocent or guilty, along with sentence numbers to support his reasoning. My goal was to incorporate one to two lessons per day into our routine, completing a minimum of four cases per week over the course of several weeks.

During our first lesson, I worked closely with my son to ensure he understood what was being asked of him. I offered assistance if needed, and helped him with writing down his review_criticalthinking_sample1thoughts. After a few cases, we chose to work through occasional cases verbally. My son would read the mystery and build a solid case for each suspect’s innocence or guilt, then he would ask for my attention and proceed to lay out his case. Afterwards we would check the answer sheet included in the back of the book and discover if he was correct. Our initial lessons took approximately fifteen to twenty minutes, provided my son stayed on task. The remainder of our lessons around ten minutes in length.

Working through Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 was simple. The curriculum was well laid out, with fun graphics of each suspect. The overall format was organized, methodical, review_criticalthinking_wJAGand helpful. While my son was able to solve most of the mysteries without difficulty, we did find a few of the cases harder to solve than others mostly due to a miscommunication in vocabulary. While we understood a suspect’s words to have one meaning, upon looking at the answer sheet we discovered his words had a different connotation. This frustrated my son at first, however it proved to be a good lesson in understanding proper communication and learning to look at words carefully to find double meaning. Upon completion, I appreciate how Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 has helped teach our son to slow down and focus on the details of a story and the importance of context clues. The cases themselves were quite funny, with suspects stealing potted plants from storefront windows and kittens snagging the neighbor’s barbecue.

We love discovering new curriculum. We’re overjoyed when we come across resources which help us achieve our goals in reading well, writing well, and thinking well. Critical Thinking Detective has been an exercise in all three, and we’re blessed in having had the experience. Now, on to Book Two!

If you’d like to learn more about Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 or The Critical Thinking Co.™, please visit them at their website and on FacebookPinterest, Twitter or Google+. Be sure to take advantage of this limited time offer: A FREE set of critical thinking puzzles valued at over $75! Find resources you’d like to purchase? Receive free shipping and 15% off any size order now until the end of 2018 by using coupon code TOSCREW18.
To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what The Critical Thinking Co. has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew.

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Your Turn!: Are you currently using a curriculum to help develop critical thinking skills?

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Our May Reads

our_may_reads

How can it possibly be the end of May? Didn’t this month just begin! No matter how often I tell myself things will slow down near the end of the school year, we never seem to make it. In fact, it always seems more busy than ever. This has been a fun month of reading, learning, exploring, and increasing in wisdom. May’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:

  • A Year Full of Stories (Angela McAllister) ⭐⭐⭐ – This treasury of 52 stories collects together a rich resource of myths, fairy tales and legends from around the curious_crittersworld, with a story for every week of the year.
  • Hippos Can’t Swim and Other Fun Facts (Laura Lyn DiSiena & Hannah Eliot) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This hilarious book is full of fun facts about all sorts of animals, from sleepy ants to jellyfish that glow!
  • Curious Critters (David FitzSimmons) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Enjoy amazing close-up images of twenty-one common yet often overlooked North American animals. Whimsical but educational narratives accompanying each animal highlight fascinating natural history information.

Learning Resources:

  • Quick Answers to Tough Questions (Bryan Osborne & Bodie Hodge) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – 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.
  • Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities (Amy Stewart) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- Stewart takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature’s most appalling creations. It’s an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend.
  • The Big, Bad Book of Botany (Michael Largo) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Organized alphabetically, The Big, Bad Book of Botany combines the latest in biological wicked_plantsinformation with bizarre facts about the plant kingdom’s oddest members, including a species that is more poisonous than a cobra and a prehistoric plant that actually “walked.”
  • Wild Animals of the South (Dieter Braun) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Famous German illustrator Dieter Braun offers his readers an accurate representation of animals from the southern hemisphere in this gorgeously illustrated volume.
  • Wild Animals of the North (Dieter Braun)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – From the polar bears of the Arctic to the North American pumas and pandas in Asia, North takes children on an exciting journey of discovery. The stunning and accurate drawings show these animals in all their natural majesty and the witty and charming descriptions will teach children all about their new favorite animals!
  • Smart About Sharks (Owen Davey)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Owen Davey returns to nonfiction to explain the mysteries of those denizens of the deep. Some deadly, some not-so-deadly, and almost all just generally misunderstood.
  • Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature (Amanda Wood & Mike Jolley) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Natural World explores and explains why living things look and behave the way they do in a series of visually compelling information charts.
  • Under Water/Under Earth (Aleksandra Mizielinska & Daniel Mizielinski) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Dive below the surface and find out what happens under earth and under sea—from early submarines and deep-sea life to burrowing animals and man-made tunnels.
  • 50 Cities of the U.S.A. (Gabrielle Balkan) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Explore skyscraper streets, museum miles, local food trucks and city parks of the United States of America and discover more than 2,000 facts that celebrate the people, culture, and diversity that have helped make America what it is today.

Books for Fun:

  • Remnant Trilogy (Tim Chaffey & K. Marie Adams) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – A three-book series surrounding the life of Noah. We are given a thoughtful look at this incredible man of God and taken on a journey in Biblical truths.

Book Club Reads:

  • Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – For Guy Montag, a career fireman fantastic_voyagefor whom kerosene is perfume, this is not just an official slogan. It is a mantra, a duty, a way of life in a tightly monitored world where thinking is dangerous and books are forbidden.
  • Fantastic Voyage (Isaac Asimov) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Four men and a woman are reduced to a microscopic fraction of their original size, sent in a miniaturized atomic sub through a dying man’s carotid artery to destroy a blood clot in his brain. If they fail, the entire world will be doomed.

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… All of these books were fantastic; there wasn’t a single one we disliked or regretted picking up.
We are absolutely in love with just about everything coming out of Flying Eye BooksWild About Sharks, Wild Animals… The illustrations are absolutely fabulous, and the pages within hold a wealth of information.
The Big, Bad Book of Botany is a fantastic resource to have on hand, along with another in the series we’ve recommended, The Big, Bad Book of BeastsOwning both is definitely one of my goals for this coming year. For now, I’ve kidnapped a copy from the local library.
And, finally, Master Books – Quick Answers… and Remnant Trilogy. Visit their website, peruse their resources, and download samples of their incredible curriculum. I wish I had discovered this company years ago. There are not enough adjectives to describe this fantastic Bible-based company or their resources.

Our local summer reading program begins this coming week – 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 June 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 you currently part of a book club?

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Review: The Remnant Trilogy

review_noah

Summer break is upon us, and that can only mean one thing… Great summer reads. Fiction, non-fiction, biographies, and so much more! For an entire season, we focus on reading as many incredible books as we can fit into our free days and during our trips to outdoor adventures. For this mum, the reading marathon started off with the incredible Remnant Trilogy from Tim Chaffey, K. Marie Adams, and Master Books. What an amazing way to begin!

The Remnant Trilogy is a three-book series surrounding the life of Noah. Through the Remnant Trilogy we are given a thoughtful look at this incredible man of God and taken on a journey in Biblical truths.

Noah: Man of DestinyDiscover the rich background of Noah and his family members as portrayed at the Ark Encounter. Witness the struggle of a righteous man’s battle against a culture that thought of evil continually. Explore what it may have been like for a righteous man to relate to God before the Bible was written. (Master Books)

Noah: Man of Resolve – Packed with action, adventure, and heartbreak, the second installment of the Remnant Trilogy continues the imaginative and respectful look at the life of this hero of the faith as God shapes him into the man who eventually saves humanity’s future. (Master Books)

Noah: Man of God – Adventure, wonder, and biblical history await readers on this riveting journey through the pre-Flood world, leading to an epic confrontation between the Creator’s faithful preacher of righteousness and the serpent’s priestess and her legions of darkness. Noah: Man of God weaves together the storylines from the first two books and delivers an unforgettable conclusion to The Remnant Trilogy. (Master Books)

“Most people think of Noah as the man who built a large ship and spent months caring for thousands of animals. But who was he and what events shaped who he would become? We wrote this novel to challenge Christians to look closely at the life of a man who walked with God.”
~ Tim Chaffey & K. Marie Adams

Our family was blessed with a PDF copy of the entire Remnant Trilogy for review. Each book is approximately three hundred pages in length and includes a number of incredible resources at the back of each volume. Additional sections included a glimpse of the coming novel and “Behind the Fiction”. In “Behind the Fiction” we are given three areas to consider: “Answering Questions Raised By the Novel”, “Encounter This”, and “Borrowed From the Bible”. “Encounter This” gives an inside look at the Ark Encounter itself, and how the authors of the Remnant Series had the opportunity to work behind the scenes for the past few years. In “Borrowed From the Bible” the authors shed light on certain events and customs found in the novel which are similar to those found in the Bible.

While I will offer the Remnant Trilogy to my older children to read in the near future, I first wished to read through the series myself. I find I tend to be a quick reader; thus each novel  took me approximately four to five hours to finish. Perusing the additional resources was a slower process, and one well worth the effort. I spent an average of one-and-a-half hours reading through the materials in each volume. A once-through was a good foundation, but truly feel these materials are worth a second or third look and will more than likely be revisiting them in the future.

The Remnant Trilogy was a great read! From beginning to end the series was entertaining, enjoyable, and simple to follow. The stories included fun and unexpected moments of humor. I particularly enjoyed the authors’ inclusion of “bean brew” and “leaf brew”. The thought of Noah needing coffee to get his day going was cute. Throughout the stories we are given glimpses of Biblical truths and brought back to the beauty of God’s Word. These moments were seamlessly woven into the story itself and beautifully accomplished. My favorite portion of each novel, however, was the additional materials at the end. I love how the authors chose to use the medium of a story to increase us in wisdom and teach Scripture, answering tough questions we face on a day-to-day basis. Altogether, the Remnant Trilogy makes for a wonderful read, and a fantastic learning opportunity.

Summer has just begun. If the Remnant Trilogy is any indication of what the remainder of our reading marathon will be like, we’re in for a treat.

If you’d like to learn more about The Remnant Trilogy 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!

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Your Turn!: Which do you prefer, “bean brew” or “leaf brew”?

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“I’m Not Interested!”: When Kids Don’t Like the Lesson

I'm_Not_InterestedHe’s just sitting there. It’s not as if he doesn’t understand what is being taught, but his eyes are glazed over and he’s slumped in his seat. If he had a choice, he’d rather do almost anything else. She’s staring me down; frustration, irritation, and a genuine lack of enthusiasm radiating from her rigid form. Sure, she could do it, but why? Why study hours of seemingly pointless details. What’s wrong with both of these situations? Neither child is interested and they are clearly making it known. It’s not that they don’t want to study anything, they just don’t want to study that. No matter how I try to twist the lesson to make it more appealing, this child won’t engage. What’s a mom to do when their child just isn’t interested?

I wish I was the ultimate teacher; able to make all children not only learn anything taught, but also like what they are learning. Unfortunately, I too, often have to find creative ways to encourage my children to learn. Oh, sure, there are some things they’d jump at the chance to do, but others take a lot more persuasion, and even that doesn’t always work.

When our children show no interest, none whatsoever, in a subject, do we force it upon them? If the thought of having to write research papers fills our children with dread, do we still make them do it? If algebra sickens them, do we push them through the equations anyway? So much of life isn’t black-and-white. There aren’t easy responses to these questions; no pat answers. Each family must pray about the individual situation and ask the Lord to give them wisdom in how best to handle it. But, here are a few things we’ve learned…

The Littles – For those with little kids balking at the notion of having to learn undesired subjects, perhaps it is our method of teaching which is hindering their desire to move forward. It might also be likely that we are introducing topics at too early an age. One further thought is that our children really don’t understand what they are going to learn. Sure, they hear the words – Language Arts – but they don’t correlate that with the telling of stories and crafting of words. Sometimes it takes a creative moment on the parent’s behalf to make the topic sound worthwhile.

The Middles – The workload is starting to increase and our children are beginning to take notice. They don’t like the idea of having to learn more subjects or take on more work. Things they used to enjoy have now become a chore. Did we increase their load too soon or all at once? Perhaps we forgot to take the time to make the topic more interesting, assuming they were big enough now to simply tackle any project plopped in front of them. We mustn’t let our middle children get lost in the mix or forget to make learning fun.

The Big Guys – Subjects like algebra, biology, and composition are looming in front of their eyes, all with loads of work attached. Our child insists they don’t want to take that chemistry class, failing to see the need for learning the periodic table of elements. Here is where things get tough. Do you force them to take all those college prep classes, no matter what they have to say to the contrary? Do you let them decide for themselves what they wish to study?
Each family needs to make these decisions for themselves and it’s not always an easy task. Through prayer, council, and wisdom we must decide for each child what is best. For some, they need the push to study topics not readily desired. Others would only be stressed and hate learning altogether if shoved.
No matter our decision, I would still encourage us to find fun ways to make learning fun. However, at this stage, we also need to stretch our children. They ought to learn life isn’t always fun, easy, convenient, or made to order. Homeschooling offers us many options, and we are grateful for all of them, but we are attempting to raise responsible adults. And, not all responsibility is fun or wanted.

Do we force learning on our children? Oh, sometimes. We want to try new things with them, expand their horizons, and help them get a well-rounded education. We also need to remember to be careful in our desire to stretch our children. We want them to be challenged, we don’t want them to be broken.

“An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”
~ Proverbs 18:15

Your Turn!: Have you ever forced your child to learn a particular subject/topic and then later regretted it? Have you ever forced your child and later had them thank you for the opportunity? Share your story with us!

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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?

cat·e·chism
noun

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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