Is My Dream Dangerous?

is_my_dream_dangerousJust like Mr. Martin Luther King Jr., I too have a dream. It might not seem as grand as his. No one but me and God might know it exists. But it’s there. Deeply rooted in who I am, extending to every fiber of my being. My dream is a beautiful one, but potentially dangerous. For my dream, like all dreams, is not reality. And if I’m not careful, my unfulfilled dream can quickly cause a great deal of trouble.

The dream is me always smiling. I stand in my kitchen watching over my children while we homeschool happily. I am always dressed to perfection, and own a spectacular apron which personifies the glory of homemaking. There are fresh-baked cookies in the oven ready for my family to devour. We get through our lessons with little fuss, anxious to continue exploring. We play games together, cook together, and we are constantly encouraging each other.

The reality is I don’t smile as much as I probably could, or should. While I’m usually with my kiddos, there are some schools days which have us all pulling our hair out. The apron I do own is usually forgotten, and my clothes are evidence of this fact. Lessons don’t always work as planned. Particular subjects are a challenge to the day. We’re all craving cookies, but mom is on a ridiculously tight budget and can’t find five minutes to bake, even if she could find chocolate chips in the cupboard. By the time we’re done schooling, we’re all needing a few moments of space and relaxation.

While I jest, and over-exaggerate just a tad, there is nothing wrong with the dream. We all need something to aspire to. Nor is there anything horrible in our reality. We all have hard days. The danger lies in my inability to separate what I’d like to be from what God calls me to be. God is not asking me to be what anyone else thinks I ought to look like; not even myself. God calls me to be faithful.

There are days I get lost in the dream. This isn’t the life I imagined! Why can’t I seem to be the mom I want to be? Why isn’t our homeschool day as I envisioned? My day is so clouded by my dream, I fail to see the beauty in my reality. No, the day isn’t perfect, but it is mine and it is a joy. If only I would look past what I wanted and see how God has blessed.

I am sure there is a dream in each of us. A dream of what type of parent we want to be; what our marriages would look like; and how our homeschooling year would flow. Our dreams are special, ideals we are reaching towards. But in the struggle to obtain, let us rejoice in the reality in which we live.

We’re curious… What was beautiful about your day?

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”
~ I Timothy 6:6-7

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Am I A Thermometer or A Thermostat?

am_i_a_thermometerIs my thermostat in working order? I don’t mean the one on the wall of our home, adjusting the temperature in the rooms of our house. Rather my internal thermostat; the spiritual gauge which helps maintain the temperature of my heart and life. I’ve discovered something true. When my internal thermostat is placed at God’s proper setting, myself, my family, and my relationships remain in balance. Every once in a while it’s important to do a heart check and be sure everything is in working order.

What happens when our internal temperatures get too hot? We tend to boil over and spew a burning mess over all those around us. We make rash choices, blow up, and occasionally stop working all together. And when we get too cold? We freeze out those we love, making them feel unwanted. We refuse to think of others, giving them the cold shoulder and becoming self-centered.

Our thermostats can be hard to maintain if we are doing it on our own strength and fail to establish helpful “programs”. We need to rely on the Lord (John 15:5). We need to set boundaries for ourselves, knowing that when we hit a certain point a change needs to be made.

When we get too hot, we need to learn to take a walk, pray about the situation, breathe, and let things go. We can call a good friend and “let off some steam”, allowing us to vent and better get a handle on the problem. When we get too cold towards others, we need to work on building the relationship and showing our feelings. We need to think of their needs, listen carefully, and speak kindly. We need to love on them and let them love us in return.

As my children’s parent and educator, part of my job is to teach them about their own internal thermostat and how it works; to help them learn their limits and how to put programs into place which access the assistance God is so willing to provide. My job is to also example a properly operating system. Are my children witness to an out of control parent, or one who adjusts to the continual changes of the day? If I am failing to model gracious, purposefully redirection of the temperature in our homes, how can I expect anything different in my children.

We are not called to be thermometers; constantly being changed based on the mood of our homes. We are called to be thermostats; constantly maintaining to remain inline with God’s purpose. Having a balanced thermostat will keep our family unified and peaceful. We will begin to recognize when the temperatures get out of normal range and how to adjust, bringing us closer to Christ. May we rely on the Lord to keep our hearts aligned with His will, and may He give us strength to work accordingly.

We’d love to learn… How do you readjust your internal thermostat when it gets out of range?

“Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.”
I Timothy 4:16

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10 Reasons Your Child May Not Want to Attend College

10_Reasons_CollegeFor years we’ve been planning this day. All the hard work has finally paid off, college applications are starting to pile up and we’ve narrowed down which grants our student should apply for. We sit down with our baby, excited to narrow down which colleges they’d like to focus on. Then, our child hits us with a bombshell. “Mom, I don’t think I want to attend college.” Wait… what? Wasn’t that the goal of our learning? Isn’t this what we’ve been aiming for all these years?

Before we have a panic attack or start convincing our child why they have to attend college we might want to take a step back, pray, and ask a few questions. Maybe the Lord has other plans in mind.

  1. They Are Scared – Let’s face it, becoming an adult is a big step. Instead of judging our children or passing off their fears as immaturity, we should take the opportunity to pray with our child over this matter. Encourage them, help them seek comfort, and take steps to calm their fears.
  2. They Don’t Know What They Want to Do – While we’d all like to think our homeschooled children finish their learning with a goal in mind and purposeful steps toward achieving it, that’s not necessarily true. Instead of criticizing and nagging about needing to make some decisions, we need to pray and give them time to hear the voice of the Lord. Trust God to speak to them and guide their futures. We should council our children in their strengths and help them see their own potential.
  3. They Don’t Understand the Importance of Higher Education – Our child might be an artist, a writer, or already have a job (see below). While it might be true, getting that piece of paper might not make you a better artist, our children need to be made aware of the other benefits of attending college. Connections, discipline, and business management. Besides, who says it can’t fine tune those God-given talents?
  4. They Want to Take Time Off – They’ve just finished twelve years of solid learning. If we were planning for college, the last four to six have been heavy-duty studies. It’s not shocking for some students to want down time. For some, it’s the best thing we could do for them.
  5. They Already Have a Job – Some view college as a means of obtaining a job. If they’re already working, going to college seems pointless. This might be a good opportunity to point out that higher education will help them further their careers. Even if you stay at a job for several years, you’ll want to work your way up the ladder. You will need to take business courses and managerial courses to do this.
  6. They Want to Attend Vocational School – Not all careers require a four-year university. Instead of immediately jumping on the college bandwagon, we might want to consider local schools which focus on our children’s interests and gifts. Vocational school is not a step down, but a clear path towards the goal.
  7. They Want to Run Their Own Business – Some don’t want to climb a ladder, but build their own. That is an admirable goal. Instead of discouraging our children, this is a great opportunity to lead them toward focused classes which will help them meet their goal. We need to help them think of this as a business investment.
  8. They Want to Join the Military – Joining the military is an honorable endeavor. If this where our children are being led, my only advice is to pray. Pray a lot; pray tons. Then, we need to give them our blessing and continue to pray until they are home. May the Lord go with them and protect them.
  9. They Want to Be a Missionary/Pastor – The Lord has called our child into the field. It can be a scary step for a parent, knowing our children might be in danger or rejected. But, if God has called them, who are we to stand against? Pray, seek the Lord for confirmation, and then help them prepare for the journey ahead.
  10. They Want to Be a Stay at Home Mom – A noble career often looked down upon, even amongst ourselves. (Isn’t that sad?) Some of our daughters are not going to seek jobs and that’s not a bad thing. Until the day the Lord blesses them with families of their own, this is a great opportunity to help them learn the fine art of making a home. If we’re concerned about them providing for themselves while they’re waiting upon the Lord, this might be a great time for them to work in fields which help promote such gifts. They might work at a crafting store, a bakery, or in any other establishment which helps them further their gifts and serve the Lord while doing so.

We must remember our children are becoming adults. We may council them, guide them, and disciple them, but our children need to make their own decisions about their future. If our children are floundering or making seemingly poor decisions, we need to be praying on their behalf.

I would also encourage us to not wait until high school years to start praying over our children’s futures. From their births, may I encourage each of us to constantly be lifting our children before the Lord, asking Him to speak clearly to our children and make His paths known to them.

As I am constantly telling our own littles, “This is not about what I want for your future. This is not about what you want for your future. This is about what God wants of you. My job is to prepare you for whatever He has called you to. My prayer is that you hear the voice of the Lord clearly and then, that you obey it wholeheartedly. Seek God first.”

We’d like know… Is college something your children are interested in?

“Seek the LORD and His strength, seek His face continually.”
~ I Chronicles 16:11

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You’re Home All Day, Right?

You're_HomeThe kids are in the middle of their lessons. I have dishes overflowing in the sink, laundry in both machines, a dog running around my ankles, and lunch which needs to be started. Oh, and let’s not forget that today is grocery shopping day. In the midst of it all, the phone rings. “Hey, I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d drop in. I mean; you’re home all day, right?”

I like company, really I do. I’m also usually good at least minute changes in our routine; I have to be or I’d go crazy! However, on occasion, it can be a little frustrating when other people assume being home means we have nothing going on.

How is one supposed to show love, kindness, and hospitality to others who assume being a stay at home parent means we have all the free time in the world and are available at the drop of a hat? With the Lord’s help!

Have Understanding

Not everyone understands what it means to be a stay at home parent. Some people came from households where both parents worked, and being at home seems a luxury. Which it kind of is.
Before we blow our tops and start complaining how others don’t understand how much we really do, perhaps we ought to extend a little grace. The person we’re talking to might be misinformed as to what we do and how full our days really are.

Determine What’s Really Important

I once had a friend call me in the middle of our busy day. She knew I was maxed out, but had a great reason for calling; there was an opportunity available to me I wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of again. The call was well warranted.
Before we get too upset about interruptions in our day, we need to weigh the value of the break in routine. Perhaps a visit is just what our family needs right now. Maybe letting the kids take a breather so we can have that phone call is best. There might be someone in need who should come before my chores, or a person who could use prayer. All interruptions aren’t bad.

Set Up Boundaries

To prevent a multitude of interruptions in our routine, throwing us constantly off-balance, we have set up a few guidelines in our household. Mom (and the kids) generally avoid our phone until after lunchtime, unless it’s apparent that the call is important.
Unless UPS, FedEx, or some other delivery service is dropping off packages, the door is usually avoided as well.

Explain The Routine

It doesn’t hurt to explain our routine to those important in our life: grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends. When those close to us know the routine they are less likely to drop in, respecting our need to complete learning time.
We kindly and gently let them know when we are usually busy and when we are free. We ask them to please give a call before dropping in, just to make sure we are home and available. Most people have no issue with this and appreciate knowing we take their time with our children seriously.

As I mentioned, I like company. However, I love company when I am better prepared for their arrival. Yes, I may be home, but that doesn’t mean I’m not drowning in responsibility. Unless you’re calling to bail me out or lend a hand, please understand I’ll call you back as soon as I get out from under this pile of school books. Right after I finish that sink full of dishes. Hopefully…

We’d like to know… Do people often wrongly assume you have all the time in the world because you’re a stay at home parent? Share your thoughts on how you avoid this common problem.

“But hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.”Titus 1:8

 

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Developing a Teachable Spirit

Developing_Teachable_SpiritA child who lacks a teachable spirit can be a challenge. It can be quite frustrating to attempt correction and improvement in an area, only to have our child dislike our endeavors. Hurt feelings, pride, and sometimes anger soon ruin what could have been a wonderful learning opportunity. It is important our children be able to receive instruction, with the right attitude of heart and mind. How do we remove this blockade and develop a teachable spirit?

Developing a teachable spirit isn’t always easy and it takes time. We first need to identify the root of the problem before we can find a solution. The most common reason for lacking a teachable spirit… pride! No one likes to be told they’re wrong or that there is an area which needs improvement. Why would we expect children to be any different? Knowing why our children are struggling in this area better helps us to remedy the situation.

We most certainly don’t have it down pat in our house, but I believe there are several ways in which to establish this principle:

  • Parental Modeling: When, as parents, we are open about our own needs for improvement, we lead by example. Don’t be afraid of sharing with your children your own areas of improvement and how others have helped you become better.
  • Biblical Models: Make sure to point out examples of Biblical leaders who had teachable spirits. (Moses took advice from Jethro; Joshua from Moses; and so on.) Seeing these important spiritual men as not just leaders, but students, will help them understand the wisdom in learning from others.
  • Historical Models: Add to those men of the Bible, other people who have made an impact on the world. Share not only their triumphs, but also the lessons learned from mentors and teachers.
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Fail: Encourage your children to view mistakes not as failure, but as a means of learning. Just because you didn’t get it right, doesn’t mean a valuable lesson hasn’t been learned. Accept the fact that it didn’t get done right this time, but assure them they learned a good lesson and will be able to move forward.
  • Lots and Lots of Prayer: While doing all of the above, do a lot of praying on your child’s behalf. Ask the Lord to work not only in their hearts, but in yours; showing you ways in which to reach out and help them learn this important concept.

May I share a personal thought?  It ought to be noted that sometimes our children struggle with this area due to lack of parental respect. If this is the case, we might consider taking a break from book work to recapture our child’s heart. I find that when the ties between us are strong, the rest flows along nicely.

When our children struggle with having a teachable spirit it can make our learning day, and life in general, quite challenging. Before moving on with academics, the attitude of our hearts needs to be dealt with first. When a child possesses a teachable spirit, learning is a joy and a pleasure for all!

We’re curious… What advice would you give to the parent of a child struggling in this area?

“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’
I Peter 5:5

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Our September Reads

our_september_reads_2018Fall has officially arrived! – Well, in theory. – Here in SoCal we’re trying to wrap our minds around the fact that it’s fall while still enjoying our swimming pools and sipping lemonade. Learning is well underway, with more activities than ever crowding our calendars and keeping us on our toes. In the midst of all the adventure, it’s time to share the few reads we’ve enjoyed during September. The month’s list is short, but sweet. And each one of them a blessing in one way or another.

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

Learning Resources:

Children’s Books:

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… 

  • Politics According to the Bible is an outstanding resource. This was a suggestion through our pastor, and we can’t say enough good things about this book. We have chosen to adopt this as a portion of our oldest daughter’s senior program, and couldn’t be more pleased by what she is learning. We highly recommend this selection.
  • Scarlet Letter was chosen in connection with our history lessons, and has provided a passageway into wonderful conversation and additional learning. While War of the Worlds was a book club choice which offered a fun look into the world of science fiction.
  • The Atlas of Fairy Tales was truly charming, although not what I anticipated. I was given the impression the book itself would be – well – maps! Instead what we found were re-tellings of classic fairy tale stories. Cute, but not “atlas-like” in any regard.

With the start of a new learning year and the return of scheduled activities, our family often notices a smaller collection of reads. However, we’re confident things will pick back up with an entirely new stockpile of books. Join us again during the month of October as we explore a world of books and the adventure of reading. What will we read next?

We’re curious… Does your family determine reading selections which correspond with the seasons/holidays?

“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

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Do Not Grow Weary

do_not_grow_wearyI’m not sure why people associate being a “good” person with having an easy life. Sure, you don’t suffer the consequences of as many poor choices, but life is far from easy. In fact, doing good can often be trying, difficult, and, if we allow it, disheartening. It can be discouraging to work your fingers to the bone and yet see others succeed far beyond what you can imagine. It can be hard to watch others with more resources while you are barely making ends meet. How are we to deal with these feelings of jealousy, disappointment, sadness, and discouragement? With truth and thanksgiving…

Their Kids Are So Well Behaved

Trust me, no one’s kids are perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, misbehaves, and has trouble on occasion. We should rejoice for that family, praising the Lord for what He is doing in that home. Then, thank the Lord for the kids we have. They might not be perfect, and we still have some work to do, but they are ours. We should pray the Lord would show us ways to encourage better behavior and give us grace while they are still learning.

Their Kids Are So Accomplished/Well Educated

Just like you would not want to be compared to others, we need to be careful about comparing our own children. Each child was created by God perfectly. Some children are quicker at learning; others delve in deeper, but take more time. Some have learning delays, but they are trying their hardest.
Our goal ought to be in having our child do their best, not as good as Johnny down the street. We need to thank the Lord for the ability to educate our child, or help them with their learning, and praise Him for their progress thus far. We should ask Him to show us if we could be doing better and how. If we are doing fine, we pray the Lord would remove the doubt seeping in so we can better focus on the task before us.

Their House Is So Nice/Organized

What works for one family, might not work for another. A lady might clean her house daily because her husband prefers it this way or because she doesn’t know how to function any other way. The lovely home you see might be the culmination of years of saving and hard work. Of course, quite simply, it could be a blessing. How sad it is when we look at the blessings bestowed on someone else and all we see is our own lack.
This is a great opportunity to praise the Lord for what He is doing in that family; that He use them for His glory. While our homes might not be our dream, at the moment, we thank Him for a roof over our head and full bellies. We ask for His continued provision and for wisdom to use our resources wisely.

They Have More Money Than We Do

Another tough one… We can try our hardest, but sometimes we struggle. Why is this? Unfortunately, I don’t have an easy answer for you. Financial struggles stem from a myriad of roots; some we’ve brought upon ourselves and others from life circumstances.
Again, thanksgiving is key. We need to thank the Lord for the ways He is currently providing for us and ask that He continue to do so. We praise Him for meeting our needs and hearing our cries for help. We also need to remember, in times of plenty, those who are still struggling and lend a helping hand.

They Always Have So Much Going On

Home improvements, soccer games, ballet recitals, vacations, dinners with friends, and more. We all know people who seem to be constantly on the move; always busy, with lives filled. Praise the Lord for times of quiet, where you can hear His voice and be filled! They’re great. If you’re looking to have more sociable activities, pray the Lord would open those doors.

Sometimes our hearts lead us astray, preventing us from seeing the truth of the situation before us. We see ourselves as trying to do the right thing, doing good, and yet we seem to be going nowhere; struggling in vain. It is in those times, especially, that we need to be asking the Lord to show us His truth.

When our hearts are focused on what God has already done in our lives, offering up thanksgiving for our blessings, we have no room to be ungrateful for what we don’t have. When our hearts are filled with His love, our strength is restored and we are able to continue doing the good we are called to. May we all take a moment to simply offer our thanks to our Father for what He does in our lives daily. May we learn to look past the moment to see the eternal, and focus on things above.

We’d like to know… Share seven things for which you are grateful for today!

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”
~Galatians 6:9

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Do I Need a Lesson Plan?

do_I_need_a_lesson_planThere it was, sitting in my shopping bag. A gift from the educational store where I had just
purchased a myriad of homeschool supplies for the coming year. It was basic, nicely offered, but, frankly, confusing. As a homeschool parent, did I need a lesson plan?

For whatever reason, I had never thought to purchase or use a lesson plan. If I had to give an explanation for this, I would be hard pressed to provide a suitable answer. I’d just never given it that much thought. I suppose it always made sense to simply follow the books I bought. Our books came – and still come – with pages already mapped out; each marked with a lesson number. We did one lesson per day, with a total of a hundred seventy lessons during the year. Considering our books were cleverly labeled, why did I need a lesson plan?

It wasn’t until we started using unit studies to cover history and science that I finally began mapping out our lessons. It made sense to schedule how long we were to be spending in a particular unit and which activities would to be covered. I was visually able to see the expanse of our year, planning more thoroughly. While I wasn’t planning out every aspect of our day, writing down each child’s lesson assignments, I learned the value of organizing certain portions of our routines.

Did I finally dig out the planner the helpful educational store had offered? Truthfully, no. I had completely forgotten about the planner by this point. I found doing things on my computer better suited my needs. I was able to copy, paste, adjust within seconds, color code easily, and sync the information within all our devices so everyone could stay on top of things.

Does everyone need a lesson plan? I would never argue a particular curriculum or plan works for everyone. I will say having a general plan for your day and an overall plan for your year is not only beneficial, but wise. When we have direction we are less likely to stress over subjects possibly forgotten or enough time in our year to cover everything desired. Whether we choose to use a pre-printed planner from a store or use a computer based application to do our organizing, I highly recommend taking a few minutes to systematize life. Make up your own routine and put your plan into action.

We’re curious… Did you use a lesson planner? How much of your day and/or week do you put down in print? Share with us your method of organizing life and help new homeschooling families learn the art of planning!

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”
~ Proverbs 16:3

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Curriculum 101: A Series Review!

Curriculum101

One of the biggest struggles homeschooling families battle is which curriculum is best for their children. We become overwhelmed by the amount of curriculum available, struggle to find the right fit for each of our children, proceed to doubt each choice made for at least the first several weeks, and continue to search for new ways of teaching well after we’ve already begun our year.

To this end, we thought we’d spend time launching discussions on all things curriculum.

What you’ll find in this series: Encouragement, help, tips, hints, and open discussion on what’s worked for our families and what hasn’t.

What you won’t find in this series: A push toward any curriculum in particular. Our desire is to spend time in open conversation with you readers! We would love to share how we’ve taught each subject; what’s worked for us; and ways we’re still attempting to improve in each subject. What we don’t want to do is fit your child into our homeschooling box.

We’re praying you’ll join us in this adventure. Consider this an open invitation to share your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you readers on each topic; letting us know your thoughts, tips, and links to related articles.

Reading
Writing
Arts/Crafts
Bible
Grammar & Composition
Arithmetic
History & Geography
Science
PreK Helps
Music
Computer Sciences
Coding
P.E.
Foreign Language

May this series enrich each of us. And, may the Lord use this time to encourage us all in our homeschooling adventures. ~Cristina

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Planning the Homeschool Year: A Series Review!

planning_the_homeschool_yearWhether you’re still in the stages of planning your school year, just starting, or you’ve been at it for weeks but still need to make some adjustments… Enjoy this fun series designed to help take the stress out of homeschooling planning!

While we don’t have to be on the curb at the crack of dawn or make sure our children have their lunch money, we do need to plan out our year of homeschooling. Just where do we start? When do we start?! How many school days am I required to complete? Should I stick to a routine or plan out a detailed schedule? All these questions and more fill the head when planning out our homeschooling year. Let’s take a look at each mind-boggling area of planning and break it down!

Planning Your Year
Planning Your Day
Building a Family Plan
What Do I Need?
Counting the Cost
Portfolios
Field Trip Fun, Part I
Field Trip Fun, Part II
Finding Friends
Finding Sanity

Planning the homeschooling year doesn’t have to be a stressful event. Pray about how the Lord would lead your learning, and proceed as He guides. Allow Him to be the center of your home and focus all your attention on what He wants of your family.

“But all things should be done decently and in order.”
~ I Cor. 14:40

Your Turn!: Which part of homeschooling is your least favorite to plan and/or organize?

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