Our October Reads


October isn’t quite over, but we can’t wait to share this month’s short list of incredible reads with you. It never ceases to amaze us how many books we finish in a month. The lists we share here are merely books we’ve used in a homeschooling/parenting capacity; there are many more which we read on our own! October’s list has a few reads which are making a major impact on our learning routine, and others which are helping us glean the most from our nature studies. Everything on this month’s list was absolutely fantastic!

  1. The Fallacy Detective (Nathaniel Bluedorn) – Thirty-eight lessons on how to recognize bad reasoning. Learn to spot errors in others’ logic, and your own. Learn to identify red herrings, circular reasoning, statistical fallacies, and propaganda. Each lesson presents several examples of poor reasoning often illustrated by cartoons and then provides an exercise set in which you identify the fallacies. This book features a Christian view of logic and was written by homeschoolers for homeschoolers.
    Several homeschool families suggested this book. Going on faith we purchased a copy and started it near the end of this month. The book is very simple, but it is a good starting off point for young learners or those new to logic.We should also note this book deals with informal fallacies, not formal logic. That said, we cannot begin to express how much we are enjoying the lessons and how much we’re learning. It’s fantastic!
  2. The Thinking Toolbox (Nathaniel Bluedorn) – Just as you use the wrench in a regular tool box to fix the sink, so you can use the tools we give you in this book to solve thinking problems. The Thinking Toolbox follows the same style as The Fallacy Detective with lessons, exercises and an answer key in the back.
    We purchased this book as well, hoping it would be a good companion to The Fallacy Detective and were not disappointed. The lessons are short, of benefit, and offer great discussion points. I’m so glad we invested in both of these. 
  3. Audubon Guides (National Audubon Society) – The full-color identification photographs show creatures as they appear in natural habitats.
    While we’re sure most of you have come across these books before, we noted we’ve never mentioned them being used in our learning and wished to add them to our list. Lately they’ve been making a strong appearance in our nature studies. We love the multitude of photos and information to be found within. If we had the room and finances, I’d love to own more. 
  4. This Beautiful Day (Richard Jackson) – Why spend a rainy day inside? As three children embrace a grey day, they seems to beckon the bright as they jump, splash, and dance outside, chasing the rain away. The day’s palette shifts from greys to a hint of blue, then more blue. Then green! Then yellow! Until the day is a Technicolor extravaganza that would make Mary Poppins proud. A joyous homage to the power of a positive attitude.
    An online recommendation we found at our local library! We loved the artistic appeal of this picture book, and the gentle reminder to be creative with our free time. A great library find. 
  5. The Shape of the World: A Portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright (KL Going) – A little boy who loves to find shapes in nature grows up to be one of America’s greatest architects in this inspiring biography of Frank Lloyd Wright.
    I’m a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright. I have been for years. So when an online book forum suggested this read, I quickly found it at our local library. We loved learning of Wright’s childhood, and how his love of nature influenced his future work. The artwork in the book is a little wanting, but the concept is lovely; as is the short story itself. 
  6. The Beetle Book (Steve Jenkins) – Beetles squeak and beetles glow.
    Beetles stink, beetles sprint, beetles walk on water. With legs, antennae, horns, beautiful shells, knobs, and other oddities—what’s not to like about beetles?
    Nature books are a weakness for us. We found this gem while scouring the local library for nature study and couldn’t be happier. The illustrations are lovely, and the pages are overflowing with facts to amaze learners. 

We generally gather our reading materials from the library, but most of these were suggestions from other homeschooling friends and online acquaintances. Who knew Instagram would be a source of book inspiration?

Join us again next month as we explore a world of literature and the adventure of reading!

Your Turn!: How many Audubon guides do you own?

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Making Room for Wiggles in the Homeschool Day

Making_Room_For_Wiggles_in_The_Homeschool_DayMy kiddos dislike sitting still for great lengths of time. While I’d love to let them run around like monkeys all day, our routine does require a little bit of sit down learning. In order to keep a fine balance and make sure their patience isn’t being over taxed, mom has learned to run with it… literally.

When our son was very little, he started an unusual routine. He would eat breakfast, get dressed, and then start pacing the house. Before we knew it, he was running from one end of the living room to the other and back again. When I would ask what he was doing, he would just say he was playing. I talked to my husband about this, a little concerned about our son’s actions. My man calmly explained that the little guy just had too much energy coursing through his system and needed more exercise.

Our son is older now but this principle still holds true. Every morning he feels the need to go running. We’ve decided to just make this a part of our day!

After initial studies in logic, history, and science our kids are encouraged to get some exercise. They are to do a certain amount of activity to help the blood start pumping to their brains and make sitting down easier. Usually this works for little man and he can focus on his lessons. If not, he promptly tells me that he wants to run a little longer and we let him.

He is really great at expressing this need to us. In between subjects, should he feel the need, he will excuse himself and do a little more running. Occasionally he will let me know he is stopping to do “PE”. He will do push ups, sit-ups, pop-ups, and more. Once he feels better, he will calmly return to the table and resume his studies.

While some might see this as a disturbance in our routine and a distraction to our other children, we’ve all learned this is what works best for him. As our son grows older, he will learn to make adjustments that better fit his growing routine and adult lifestyle. For now, we are helping him better understand his body’s needs and enjoying the fun of watching him run.

“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
~ I Timothy 4:8

Your Turn!: Do you take breaks in your learning day to get out the wiggles?

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Teens, Tweens, and What That Means

Teens_Tweens_and_What_That_MeansAs our children approach adulthood, I find myself pondering the complexities of raising the next generation. If there is one area of pre-adulthood which confuses me, it is the necessity to label our children as “teens” or “tweens”. It seems it wasn’t so long ago you were either a child, a young adult, or an adult. Now, some might argue it is merely semantics. After all, what should it matter the word we use? Bear with me… I am not so sure I agree.

While sometimes it is perfectly acceptable to use words interchangeably, there are some words which should be handled with a little more care. It isn’t the words themselves that pose a problem, but the mentality behind them.

If my child grows up believing they are just “going through the teen years”, might they become lax in their mentality? Will this give them an excuse for their lack of self-control or their desire to be irresponsible? On the flip side, if I expect my children to act like young adults, perhaps they will rise to the occasion. My kids might feel compelled to act in a manner worthy of being adult. When my children act out, instead of brushing it off and saying, “Oh, well. You know teenagers!”, this is the perfect time to redirect them towards a more mature mannerism.

An excellent piece of advice I received early on in my marriage was that people will – generally – attempt to be the kind of person others perceive them to be. For example, if I am constantly proclaiming my husband to be the best guy on earth, he is going to try to live up to my perception of him. Shouldn’t this principle apply to our children as well?

Instead of expecting them to act as “teens”, I prefer to perceive my children as young adults. Will they always act in an adult-like manner? No, but that is part of their training. Referring to them as young adults and treating them as such will not mature them instantly, but it will direct them towards the end goal. Calling my daughters “young ladies” and my son “young man” continually points them in the direction their lives are to be headed. My children are not growing up to be “teens”, but adults.

As we are embarking on territory previously unexplored and attempting to navigate the sometimes tricky paths to maturity. I find myself constantly observing those parents who have gone before, learning what I can and praying about what should be applied in our own lives and home. Perhaps I am over thinking this a bit – I have a tendency to do that – but somehow this small distinction seems to matter a lot.

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
~ I Corinthians 13:11

Your Turn!: Parents of young adults, how do you handle the pre-adult stages?

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What New Thing Did You Learn Today?

What_New_Thing_Did_You_Learn_Today?Long ago my sister-in-law challenged our kids with this question and it has stuck with us ever since. She went on to tell of a family in which this question was asked daily. When the father joined them for dinner each evening, they were asked to share one new thing they had learned during the day. Not only did this encourage open conversation, but inspired the children to actively find something about which to communicate. If the children hadn’t learned anything of note in their formal studies, they energetically set about searching for one!

This question is one I truly appreciate and believe should continue to be implemented in our daily living. To encourage our children, I believe we adults should also participate! Learning something new every day should not be relegated to only the young. We too ought to continually be seeking to expand our minds and add those precious “wrinkles” on our brains.

Whether it is menial or monumental, adding knowledge and wisdom to our lives is never a waste.

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Philippians 4:9

Your Turn!: What new thing did you learn today?

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Like Me, Please Like Me

Like are, Please Like MeBefore you start thinking this article has anything to do with appreciation of this post or following us on social media, let us put your mind to rest. This issue goes much deeper than superficial likes online. No, we’re discussing the danger of allowing our desire to be liked by people to be put before our desire to be righteous and speaking the truth.

I’d like to tell you I am never bothered by such trivialities as being liked. I would love to say so. But this seems to be one of my personal struggles. I could go through my reasonings. I won’t. They are unimportant. It’s enough to admit this area of weakness and confess the Lord is helping me see things through His eyes.

I like being liked. We don’t know of a single person who doesn’t. But there comes a point when things have gotten out of hand. There, friends, is where danger lies.

As a parent, if approval prevents me from discipling and training according to God’s will because I’m afraid of my children becoming angry or not liking me, I am not doing my job. If I am afraid of speaking truth for fear people will stop following me or be offended, I am not standing for righteousness. If my desire to be liked outweighs my need to do the right thing, something is wrong.

Please understand. When possible, we ought to lead with kindness, gentleness, and love. These can still speak volumes, and should. However they ought never to be used as a scapegoat from doing the right thing.

Ironically, in the long run, by seeking approval I please no one whom I truly care about, especially not the Lord. Alternately, when I live for God’s approval, all else seems insignificant. If I am going to be liked, let’s make it for the right reasons and all for God’s glory.

“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.”
– Proverbs 3:1-4

Your Turn!: Interestingly, my husband doesn’t battle with the need to be liked. Is this a guy/girl thing, do you think?

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Instituting a “No Admittance” Policy

Instituting_a_No_Admittance_PolicySeveral years back, my husband voiced a concern regarding our children and fellowship with visiting friends. It seemed fitting our girls should entertain only other young ladies in their private space and the same with our son. We immediately got on board and encouraged this concept with our children.

While this might seem a silly position to take a stand over, we think it has several important underlying points. Our children are being taught to guard themselves from impropriety. I want my daughters to understand it is improper for a young lady to entertain a young man without anyone else present or without proper guardians. The same goes for my son. Our children are being made to understand the importance of not giving the appearance of evil. They cannot be unjustly accused of wrong doing if they are not allowing a compromising situation to arise.

We introduced the idea of “No Admittance” when our children were very little, helping to make the transition easier. If they became familiar with the rules at a young age, there would be less debate over the issue as they mature.

While at first it was a challenge for them to remember, it quickly became a household habit. Our girls were free to have any visiting young ladies into their room, but if a boy was over the playing stayed in the family room. If an object needed to be retrieved, only our children were allowed to obtain it. As our son grew, he too was encouraged to follow the same rules. He has his guy friends play in his room, but young ladies are not allowed to be in his room with them.

As an added precaution we have also implemented an open door policy. When friends are over, we keep all rooms where fellowship takes place open. This ensures parents can monitor conversation and appropriate behavior, even amongst those of the same-sex. We never want to take for granted our children are safe and on guard against issues.

Visiting friends are made aware of the concept and reassured this is for their children’s safety, as much as our own. Just as we do not wish to put our children in a compromising situation, we do not wish their child to be a party to any wrongdoing.

Instituting a “No Admittance” policy at a young age will prayerfully teach our children important life lessons and prevent indiscretions. May the Lord continually give us wisdom when it comes to safeguarding our children.

“Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
~1 Thessalonians. 5:22

Your Turn!: What areas of safety has the Lord brought to your attention?

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A Homeschool Open House?

Homeschool_Open_HouseOur local schools have recently all hit the “Open House” phase of the learning year. Do you remember Open House? I do. Vaguely. Only our elementary school seemed to find this necessary, and it has been far too many years since I’ve been there to have a clear picture. What I do recall are billboards overflowing with examples of fine work; instructors explaining their grand plans for the coming year; and hoping my teacher would tell my mother I had made a good impression thus far. No need to start the year off on the wrong foot.

As homeschoolers, how do we show our work to those around us? Or do we bother? Are we concerned that family and friends know what our children are learning? It’s possible we’re not troubled by what the world thinks of our schooling, but enjoy sharing the grand adventures we’ve had. Perhaps this might be the best opportunity to share why we do what we do and how we can better accomplish this goal through homeschooling.

We’re curious…

  • How do you feel about “Open House” as a homeschooler? Is this something you enjoyed in your own education and miss the opportunity, or find it entirely unnecessary? Have grandparents, or other family members, expressed sorrow at having missed such an event?
  • Would you find an “Open House” beneficial in sharing what your children are learning, or that this is best left to a more organic moment?
  • Do you think a homeschool event similar to an “Open House” would be personally helpful – allowing you a glimpse into other people’s learning – or a distraction/stumbling block to the path the Lord has placed your family?
  • In the age of social media, do you feel “Open House” happens pretty much every day via Instagram, Facebook, and other sites?
  • Unless you participate in a PSP which has an organized “Open House” event, how do you choose to share learning experiences with family and friends? Do you have a homeschool room where visitors may catch of glimpse of the fun or a portfolio your children enjoy sharing? Perhaps a large chalkboard graces your walls, with lovely illustrations focusing on the current learning topic.
  • And lastly… How often do family, friends, and visitors ask to see what your children are learning? Not from a critical standpoint, but through genuine interest.

Our PSP has never hosted an “Open House”. Friends’ groups have, and they are lovely. We did used to have display tables available on Promotion Night. Unfortunately over the years fewer and fewer families have expressed interest in keeping up this tradition. It is a deal of work and that night is already quite full. It’s understandable. In our own home, we do keep portfolios which we readily shared when the kids were younger and each was filled with colorful illustrations, maps, and diagrams. These days they are filled with tests, notes, and writing assignments, and we are less inclined to pull them out.

Every once in a while the notion of hosting our own “Open House” strikes me. It might be fun for the kids to host their own event, planning out how to best display our projects and offering insight into their learning. Who knows, maybe one of these days we’ll try it.

“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
~ Philippians 4:9

Your Turn!: We’d love to hear from you! Please share your thoughts on all things “Open House”.

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When Did I Become the Mother of a College Student?

Mother_ofa_College_Student?Becoming a parent was an adventurous adjustment. We quickly followed the first with several children. It was surreal to start teaching elementary school. When not a single child was in preschool, I was overcome with the notion I would never again have babies. Now two are in high school, one in junior high, and another about to follow. The years have passed much too quickly, and I find myself once again in awe of where we are. When in the world did I become the mother of a college student?

Okay so she’s not entirely in college yet, but you understand what I mean. How did the years pass so quickly I have a daughter taking college courses and looking to start a job? It seems just yesterday we were playing at the park, studying baby animals, and practicing our Bible verses. Now we’re hunting for scholarships, balancing schedules, attending Bible conferences, and learning to drive a car.

I’m not going to lie. The closer we come to end of this portion of our adventure, I am prone to become overwhelmed wondering if I’ve done enough. Been enough. At times I cry out to the Lord unsure I’ve got what it takes. There are days this feels overwhelming. But it’s just that. Feels. In truth the Lord has this covered. As we follow His plan, He has given everything we need to make this happen. What He began He will be faithful to see through.

Aside from my brief, personal reminisce I am sure you’re wondering what point I have yet to make. Just this. The years are short. Oh, the days feel long at times. Moments feel an eternity at given points. But, overall, these years of parenting are vapor. Before we know it our kids will be adults.

Even as I watch my children outgrow their skids and beg for new jeans, I want to embrace each second I have left. I don’t want to spend each day so focused on the future I am unable to appreciate the present. So we are purposeful in our time. We look for ways to stay connected amidst the busyness of life. We talk, create memories, laugh at one another, continue to learn about the others in our family, and never assume we have tomorrow.

Some might laugh. After all we still have several years to go, don’t we? And yet the last sixteen flew by so quickly and we don’t have another sixteen to go. We have less than half that. This is no laughing matter. The appreciation of now is vital. The building of today key in maintaining a closeness with my children tomorrow.

Even as I type the Lord uses His words to calm my heart and fill me with His peace. When did I become old enough to have teens? I have no idea. What I do know is that it’s been a lovely – sometimes scary – adventure. I can only imagine what tomorrow brings. Until then I will find the joy in today.

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
~ Matthew 6:34

Your Turn!: If you could go back to the beginning of your parenting journey, what advice would you have for yourself?

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The Difference Between Being Good and Behaving

The_Difference_Between_Being_Good_and_BehavingGrowing up, my brother and I were always taught to “be good”. This seemed rational to my way of thinking. It made life easier on my mother, it got me in less trouble, and it earned respect from adults. It wasn’t until I started attending school however, “being good” took on a whole new meaning.

Being good somehow became associated with being a snob or being too good for other people to hang around with. I soon became labeled as the “goodie two shoes” who never used bad language, never wore inappropriate clothing, and had to “ask mommy for permission”. It created quite a dilemma in my young mind. Wasn’t I supposed to be good? Weren’t these kids taught to be good as well?

In time, I gained a few friends. They would later confess they always thought me a snob, until they realized I was just a little shy and didn’t do things like everyone else. We remained friends for the remainder of my schooling.

On occasion I still wonder… Aren’t most children raised to be “good” people? Honestly, I don’t think so.

I think most children these days are taught to behave, not to be good. These are two different things entirely! When we behave, we are acting according to how the situation demands. When we are good, we are doing what is right.

As a parent, I don’t want my children to behave. Yes, you read that correctly! Their behavior should have nothing to do with what society commands or expects, but rather should stem from a moral compass which demands righteousness.

Being good goes far beyond behaving, it is an attitude of the heart. It is a drawing nearer to God. His goodness works in us, shines through us, and goes before us. It is an inner beauty that expresses itself in outward action. When we are good, we will listen to our parents. When we are good, we will respect others and show kindness. When we are good, we will do everything to the best of our ability. When we are good, we will do the right thing.

When we teach our children to simply “behave”, we are failing to teach them the most important lesson of all. Guard your heart. It isn’t just about the outward appearances, but who you are as a person. Being “good” shouldn’t be an act, it should be who you are. At the core of my children’s being, I want them to not only be a “goodie two shoes”, but to wear those shoes with confidence, knowing that they are doing the right thing.

“Do good to your servant according to your word, Lord. Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.”
~ Psalm 119:65-68

Your Turn!: Speaking of shoes, in a round about way… What are your favorite pair?

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Look It Up: Teaching Vocabulary Through Reading & Research

Look It UpTeaching my children to read at a young age was to the greatest advantage of all involved. It made my job as a teacher that much easier and helped my children to develop an immense vocabulary. If there was one frustration associated with starting out so early, it was a limited vocabulary on the part of the reader. Children can become discouraged if they are reading words they do not understand.

Our family’s solution to this problem was to ensure that plenty of dictionary, thesaurus, and idiom books were on hand. If we didn’t know a word, we looked it up! Our children were taught, first by example and then by practice, to look up all words they were unfamiliar with. If there was a phrase they weren’t sure about, we brought out the idiom books and learned from whence it derived and its meaning.

By now this practice has become second nature. They are frequently seen looking up various topics, attempting to gain a better understanding.

While I would like to own a large collection of encyclopedias for them to use as well, that is neither practical in regards to space or finances. This is where the wonderful world of Google comes in. Under parental supervision, our children are occasionally found to be looking up detailed information regarding such topics as world history, persons of interest, or the feeding habits of rolly pollies. Yes, rolly pollies.

Given the amount of time our children spend both reading and increasing their vocabulary, it ought to come as no surprise that our children use some of the most amusing expressions. I clearly remember my littlest girl at about the age of five. She had just finished an activity and was asked how she liked it. “I found it particularly astounding,” she replied. Okay.

At times they still catch us off guard, using terminology we didn’t think they had developed yet, causing us to chuckle. It is a blessing to see them take such an interest in the usage of words and practice it whole heartedly.

I have no regrets in implementing this practice within our homeschooling routine. Our children are growing by leaps and bounds, stretching their minds and expanding their horizons. Starting early is by no means mandatory, but if the kids are ready and willing, why not give it a try? See where the Lord leads and enjoy the adventure.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” ~Ephesians 4:29

Your Turn!: Do your children surprise you with their mastery of vocabulary?

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