The Fine Art of Independence

When my kids were really little, they required more hands-on assistance. I would stand at their side while they used scissors. I anxiously held out my arms as they tried the monkey bars or learned to ride a bike. As they’ve gotten older, I’ve come to learn my kids need a chance to be independent. Space to make mistakes, room to grow, and the ability to see for themselves they really can do this.

I am an organizational freak. I organize everything from my sock drawer, to the knives in the kitchen, to the cleaning supplies in the garage. Everything has a spot, a plan, and a purpose. Thus, allowing my children freedom of such areas can often kill my nerves. What if they don’t put things back properly? What if they bungle the whole lot and it takes me ages to put it back together again?

I also tend to be a worrier. Can you tell? What if my kids get skinned knees; scraped up elbows; cut themselves; or worse? I obviously need be right by their side to ensure they aren’t going to kill themselves or burn down our house in the process of their experimentation.

How are these things at all related? If I am not willing to set aside my worry and my desire to have everything just so, my children will never learn to do things for themselves. In order for our children to learn independence, I must relinquish some control. I must be willing for things to become messy so my children will learn to clean and organize better. I must be willing for them to have the occasional bump or bruise so they can learn to ride that skateboard.
One of the hardest challenges of parenting is understanding when it’s okay to let go and when you still need to hold on. My children must learn to do things for themselves, by themselves, without mommy standing over their shoulder. And, they want to. It isn’t they which are holding back, but I!

It starts with baby steps, giving them smaller projects. When they prove faithful in the little, we give them more. At some point, they are able to clean without my having to check their work. I can depend on them to organize as well as I do. Sometimes even better. Through trial and error, our children cook without my worrying about them being burned or cutting themselves needlessly. They are able to work on artistic endeavors without ruining the flooring or leaving messes for me to clean up.

In order for them to be ready for adulthood, their responsibilities and their independence must increase and my hand-holding must decrease. Does this mean we are never around? Of course not! We will always be here for our children. But, instead of doing things for them, we offer guidance and counsel. We wait for them to seek out wisdom, instead of interjecting at the earliest possible moment. We grow out of our initial jobs and gain new ones.

Am I there yet? Truthfully, no. I still hover, peeking around corners so my kids don’t see me, waiting to rush in and save them from disaster. But I am getting better. I am learning to let them try new things, gain new experiences, and branch out. I am also learning God has this under control. He loves my children more than I ever could; He will protect them, provide for them, and help them. My job is temporary, His is forever.

“All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.”
Isaiah 54:13

We’d love to know… What is one thing your child has done, on their own, which at first caused fear, but brought about independence and growth?

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Review: HiGASFY Art History Video Series

Join us as we review HiGASFY Art History Video Series.

Is art history a portion of your homeschooling routine? I’ll be honest, until recently, I never gave it much thought. I can just imagine the collective gasp, but hear me out. I never taught ‘Art History’ as a school subject because… well… we LIVE art. Literally.
My husband is an artist by profession. Our children have been encouraged in this area since birth. Our home library is overflowing with reference books, art studies, and reproductions by favorite masters. We visit galleries on a regular basis. It’s just a way of life.

However, the teacher in me was intrigued. Perhaps we had missed something, maybe our kids would benefit from a more formal art education study. Always up for another learning adventure, we determined to take a closer look at what HiGASFY Art History Video Series has to offer. What we discovered was a world of fun!

Have I Got A Story For You!

HiGASFY Art History Video Series is a subscription based video series which takes viewers on an art history adventure discovering four artistic eras: Renaissance, Baroque, Impressionist, and Post-Impressionist Periods. In each of the four series, our host, Miss Beth, along with her friend GASFY, an animated green drop of paint, introduces three artists of the era and the paths their lives took in making them the greatest masters of their time. Through storytelling and engaging conversation Miss Beth shares key pieces of art created by each, as we get a closer look at their work. Each of the four series includes twelve YouTube videos for viewing, each approximately twenty minutes in length; a lesson plan; flash cards; and a “Name that Artist” Power Point assessment.

Ready to embark on a new adventure, our family was given a three-month subscription to the entirety of the HiGASFY Art History Video Series, along with access to all curriculum bundles. For our purposes we chose to begin with The Renaissance, which was afterwards followed by Baroque and the Impressionist Period; in that order.
To ensure we would be using the curriculum in a manner which best fit our family’s needs, I spent time reviewing the Renaissance bundle and what was included. The Renaissance introduced us to three artists: Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, and Raphael. In addition to the twelve videos in the series, more educational opportunities awaited us.

Within each curriculum bundle, we received access to sixteen corresponding lesson plans. Lessons Plans offered the ability to explore learning adventures in Study Objectives, Hands-On Activities, Critical Thinking, Vocabulary, Geography, and Group Activities.
Some suggested activities included resources listed on the HiGASFY Pinterest boards; including hands-on creations and art projects. Lesson Plans had scheduled breaks throughout allowing for opportunities in personal sketching, catchup on projects, and group activities.

HiGASFY Flash Cards were available for download via the website. Each set of flashcards reflected major pieces of artwork discussed in the chosen video series. The flashcards are intended to be double sided; with full-color illustrations portrayed on the front, the artists’ names and titles of the pieces listed on the back.
Ideally, the flashcards might be printed on cardstock and laminated; allowing for extended use and creating a more professional look to the cards. However, these could easily be adapted by printing each page singly; placing them in plastic page protectors, back to back. Either method would work well.

The “Name that Artist” assessment was a Power Point presentation; a review of the same pieces of art included in the flash cards. The assessment is full-color, with no sound.
Should printing full-color flash cards be an issue, or for those preferring an interactive learning experience, the assessment might be an alternative to using the flash cards.

Our family determined the best place to begin was with The Renaissance, given that it was the oldest era available for study. We would then work our way forward in time. After looking over the lesson plans for this bundle, we chose to focus our attention on the video series itself and the critical thinking portions of each section. As our students are mainly in high school, this would best meet our family’s needs.
Over the course of the month, we viewed one video per day. The exception was the first two videos in the series, which we watched in one sitting. While progressing through each video, brief pauses in viewing were taken to discuss critical thinking questions and embark on short geography lessons. At the end of the series, an assessment using the “Name that Arist” presentation helped us wrap up our lessons.
Following this routine, we were able to complete The Renaissance within a two week period of time. We followed this series up, as planned, with Baroque and then the Impressionist period. We applied the same routine to each of the series.

HiGASFY proved to be a fun adventure in learning! Miss Beth was engaging and clearly has a passion for art. GASFY was a cute addition to each video lesson, asking questions one would expect from a typical young person learning art history for the first time. The art lessons themselves were thorough and never boring.
We enjoyed being introduced to many pieces of art; Miss Beth pointing out various aspects of each painting one might miss if viewed too quickly. As particular pieces of art corresponded to Bible stories, we appreciated Miss Beth taking a few moments to review the Bible passages before moving forward. All artwork consisting of nude figures were carefully manipulated so parents need not be concerned with inappropriate material. Miss Beth introduced art styles such as Chiaroscuro and Etching. Students learn art concepts including landscapes, portraits, and still life. She did a fanatic job of continually reviewing lessons learned throughout each series.
We learned a great deal about each of the chosen artists. – Who knew they could be so temperamental? – We found we preferred Michelangelo to other Renaissance artists. In regard to Impressionists, Monet’s earlier work was appreciated more highly than later projects, especially his caricatures. We loved Monet’s garden and all the work he put into it. We really liked Pissarro’s works; they have a great mood. When studying Degas, we preferred his sculpts to his paintings; Little Dancer is incredible. Mr. van Gogh? He was… an unusual man.

While we did not choose to make use of every aspect of the lesson plans, we did research each option thoroughly. While viewing the helpful HiGASFY Pinterest projects, we noted listings are not titled according to lesson plans and we look forward to this organization perhaps being put into place in the future. All other aspects of the bundles flowed beautifully. The lesson plans are very well organized and include a great deal of learning opportunities.
We should note we did have issues with accessing lesson plans on our iPads. Apple devices have issues with Flash files, and thus all lesson plans needed to be viewed on my desktop or via printing. Not a major issue, but something to consider all the same.

For the purpose of our review, and because of our family’s current needs, we progressed through HiGASFY at a much quicker speed than I would honestly recommend. There is truly a wealth of information and possibility available using this curriculum. Ideally, I would recommend using one curriculum bundle per quarter of the learning year; covering all four eras over the course of a single year. You could easily stretch each course to a sixteen week study, using one lesson plan per week. Whichever best meets your students’ needs.

All-in-all, HiGASFY has been a fascinating aspect of our routine. I feel like we’ve learned a great deal. As we write this review, we are currently in the middle of the Post-Impressionist series and loving every moment. We will be sorry to finish the last of the series, but hope there might be more to come! And… we can always start over and slow down!

If you’d like to learn more about HiGASFY Art History Video Series, or to view a FREE lesson, please visit them at their website and on FacebookPinterest, YouTube, or Instagram!

To read additional reviews like this one, and gain more insight into this series, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew.

Review Crew Disclaimer

We’d love to know… Is art history a portion of your family’s learning adventure?

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The Right Fit: Choosing the “Perfect” Curriculum

I wish I could be one of those parents who is blessed in picking the perfect curriculum right from the get-go and using it all through their children’s learning. Those people do exist, right? While we’ve been pretty lucky and only had a few changes over the years, it still irks me to know I’ve wasted a precious dollars.

How does one pick the right curriculum? Does such a thing even exist? If it works for one student, does it have to work for all our learners, and does it last for their entire learning experience? All great questions! I’m not an expert, but here’s what I’ve learned:

When Not to Buy – Knowing when to buy is good, knowing when not to buy is just as important. Don’t buy on impulse, out of stress or because someone else says you ‘have to’ have it. Learn what works best for your kids, pray, and buy when you’re ready.

Is it For Them or You? – Sometimes we have a tendency to pick curriculum which gets us excited, but we don’t stop to think if it fits our kids’ needs. We need to look at this curriculum from their perspective and determine if it’s the right fit.

All or Nothing – Are we buying one type of curriculum and then forcing all our children to learn the same way? If we can, we try to meet each child where they are. We’ve been blessed that most of our curriculum works for everyone, but there have been times when I’ve needed to adjust to fit a particular need. This is just one of the joys of homeschooling.

Can it Wait? – Being a planner, I like buying things in advance. One mistake I’ve made is in buying items way too early and then realizing I didn’t need them after all. While I’m all for a good deal and planning ahead, I’ve learned to bookmark or ‘pin’ items I might want, instead of buying immediately. As time progresses, I will come back to those and reevaluate as needed.

Pray Always! – As always, pray about this issue. When the Lord is at the center of your life, you can trust He will be faithful to direct you to the curriculum that best fits your family’s needs. Be open to what He is going to do. You’d be surprised at how often He will take you down a path you would never have dared on your own!

Be In Agreement – I don’t recommend tackling this obstacle all by yourself. Make sure your spouse is included in curriculum and course choices. Sometimes we stress over areas our other halves could work through in moments. We were created to work together, so plan a date night and hash it out. Figure out what you both are looking for and make it happen.

Bend a Little – So, you prayed over the curriculum, talked to your spouse, bought it, and somehow it just isn’t quite working out. That’s alright! Sometimes we have great materials at our disposal, we just need to tweak them a little. Other times, the particular curriculum is only good for a period of our learning experience before we move on.

The Curriculum Graveyard – This one is the hardest for me, I admit. However, sometimes curriculum just isn’t the right fit. What happened? Who knows! It might be that I’m not using it properly. It might be I wasn’t following God’s instructions and was using my own wisdom in making the choice. It might be God was using this experience to teach us a lesson which had nothing to do with the curriculum what-so-ever; the curriculum was merely a catalyst for a greater lesson. No matter; if it isn’t working, drop it! Donate it, give it to a friend, set it on fire (just kidding), or whatever else you can think of. Life is too short to waste on lessons which aren’t being learned. Don’t be afraid to admit what you’ve got isn’t doing the trick, then readjust.

I don’t know that we’ve ever come across the ‘perfect’ fit, when it comes to curriculum.  Honestly, I don’t know if one exists. What I have learned is to pray about the choices we make, be one with my spouse on this matter, and to be flexible with whatever we finally go with. No matter which curriculum we’ve chosen, we’ve always learned valuable lessons through using it. Just not always in the way it was intended.

We’d love to know… What is the shortest amount of time you’ve spent using a particular curriculum? What made you relegate it to the curriculum graveyard?

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A Kids’ Eye View of Homeschooling

A_Kids_Eye_View

We often hear adults sharing their views on homeschooling. Most of us weigh in with our thoughts, opinions, and experiences. But how often do our children get a voice? When are they allowed to share their thoughts on the whole homeschooling thing? Well… how about now!

My four kiddos: They’re silly, creative, adventurous, mostly obedient, and the sweetest bunch you’ll meet. When they aren’t talking your ears off, they’re usually sitting in a corner with their noses in a book or creating something which baffles this mama’s mind. Today, they’re sharing their thoughts on all things homeschool. (Take it with a grain of salt!)

🍃What We Like About Homeschooling🍃

  • We don’t have to go to ‘school’.
  • We don’t have to wake up early.
  • We don’t have to have vaccines.
  • No homework.
  • We can skip stuff.
  • No school uniform.
  • We don’t have to worry about getting in trouble with the teacher.
  • We don’t have eight hours of work.
  • We don’t have to wait for our classmates to catch up; we go as fast as we are able.
  • We work at our own pace.
  • We’re with our family.
  • We know everyone in class.
  • The teacher helps you more.
  • We can get up whenever we want need to.
  • Lots of field trips.

🍃What We DON’T Like About Homeschooling🍃

  • Um… (crickets)
  • You have to actually learn.
  • When you don’t want to do school, your parents tell you it builds character.
  • You still have to do chores.

🍃What We’d Do Differently🍃

  • Rewards for doing perfect work.
  • No school at all. (As if!!!)
  • Doing school work in a different order than I do now (of my own choosing).
  • More hands-on activities.
  • More field trips.
  • Learn more elective activities, which aren’t necessarily academic but are definitely useful (e.g. archery, horseback riding, swimming).

🍃What We’d Tell Families Who Are Considering Homeschooling🍃

  • We learn more than we would have in public school.
  • We have more flexibility.
  • We pick our own routines.
  • We have more field trips.
  • We spend more time focusing on the academic studies we are interested in.
  • We can school huddled under mounds of blankets.
  • We can homeschool with our dog.
  • We grow closer as a family.
  • We read books all day long (even between subjects).
  • We can catch up on subjects we’re behind in much faster.
  • Our parents know exactly what we’re learning.

While I don’t believe in giving kids everything they want – The multiple requests for more candy are definitely falling on deaf ears – I do believe in allowing our children to voice their opinions. Some of their suggestions were helpful; we could definitely be enjoying a few more field trips, and hands-on activities are always fun. Others; well… let’s just say they will be shelved for now.
Either way, it’s fun hearing what the kiddos think about our adventures in homeschooling.

We’d love to hear what your kids have to say on this topic!… Go ask your kiddos these same questions!

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If You Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail; A Series Review!

Fail-to-plan

I am huge on planning. Without a “vision” for my day, or my year for that matter, I can quickly lose balance of what needs to be accomplished and get overwhelmed by the surmounting tasks of the day-to-day. In order to help me make sense of life and to prioritize the multitude of tasks that fill my routine, I decided to write down a “master plan”. A guideline to help me better manage both my household and my homeschooling.

Let me be the first to remind you, this is not a hard-line which cannot be crossed. Rather, consider these as they were intended, guidelines. They are a starting point which can be changed and manipulated at any given point.

Prioritizing Life
Managing the Budget
Adding Events
Planning the Homeschool Year
Putting it all Together

What works for me, might not work for you. Please feel free to read with discretion; pray about what you are hearing and then decide for yourself where the Lord is leading.

May these ideas help you as much as they help me!
Cristina

A Toast To All the Girls: Homeschooling the Ladies

A_Toast_To_All_The_Girls

I think most of us agree, there is a significant difference between bringing up boys and bringing up young ladies. While each child is unique and has their own personality, we firmly believe in raising our children to fulfill the roles the Lord has prepared for them. Through the blessing of homeschooling, we have the unique opportunity to train up our children to fulfill their God-given roles.

“…urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
Titus 2:4-5

Let’s Hit the Books

While I gravitate towards purchasing curriculum for all three girls from the same company – I really like the format/layout of the overall learning – I also tend to vary the routine and requirements for each one. One child’s strength is language arts, so more is expected of her in this area and we push her to strengthen her arithmetic skills. Another is the complete opposite. Then there’s our third, who prefers hands-on assistance in all things. I do my best to meet each where they are.

Clean Machines

Cleaning isn’t a job for only our girls, but it is more stressed in their daily routines than in our son’s. Considering our girls need to be trained in the keeping of their homes, we spend a portion of each day focusing on these skills.
Our girls have regular chore rotations each day of the week, so they become accustomed to maintaining household responsibilities on a regular basis.

It’s Your Night!

Again, cooking is not relegated to women alone, but we wish to train our girls in providing tasty meals for their families (should they marry). Thus, we spend a portion of each day in the kitchen. Some days we focus on meals themselves, other times we choose to have fun with desserts and tasty drinks.
On occasion, we also enjoy having the girls take turns being responsible for dinner. They plan, prepare and cook. Then we all enjoy. It can be tons of fun!

The Big Debate

In our home, we have never stressed college or careers, especially not with our girls. Does this mean we are against girls going to college? Not at all. Our focus has always been that our children be open to the leading of the Spirit; that they be faithful in following whichever path He lays before them. If it’s college and a career, so be it. We have just never stressed that college is a must.
That being said… What we have stressed is that, should our daughters be led to attend college and later get married and have families, they need to remember their first calling: to be keepers of their homes. How they choose to do this is between them and their husbands, through the guidance of the Lord, but keepers they are called to be. While they might like working and be good at it, the Lord has called them to a specific role and they should be faithful in fulfilling it.

It Takes All Kinds

As silly as it might seem, some people are under the impression that all women are the same. We all like wearing skirts, heels, makeup, and doing our hair. While a vast majority of us like these things, there are also some who prefer to live in jeans, wear pony tails, and go natural.
You’d think, having three girls come from the same parents, all our girls would be alike. They aren’t. And, that’s okay. Our girls are learning they each have different preferences and are learning to respect this.

Using the ’S’ Word

Here is a tough one! That dirty word most women can’t stand: Submission! Oh, yes.
Our girls are being taught the fine art of submission. They are being taught that submitting to their pop and to their future husbands doesn’t mean they are a doormat or weak (thank you, very much). It takes strength to have faith in another person, trusting they will make the best decisions on your behalf. It takes strength to let someone make decisions for your family; strength to move forward when someone asks it of you. Being submissive isn’t weakness, but a gracious act of love and respect. When we learn to see submission in the proper light, submission is a beautiful thing.

Raising girls is fun. Our home is full of tutus, dress up clothes, odd assortments of hairbows, and a growing number of shoes. With Biblical wisdom, a gentle hand, and the grace of God, we are raising our daughters to submit to the will of God and serve Him in all they do. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We’d love to know… Do your daughters like pink? Not all girls do!

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Let’s Hear It For the Boys: Homeschooling the Fellas

Lets_Hear_It_For_The_Boys

After having three girls, finding out we were having a boy came as quite a shock to the system. My boy is a completely different creature from his sisters. And, that is how it should be!

I think most of us agree, there is a significant difference between bringing up boys and bringing up young ladies. While each child is unique and has their own personality, we firmly believe in raising our children to fulfill the roles the Lord has prepared for them. Through the blessing of homeschooling, we have the unique opportunity to train up our children to fulfill their God-given roles.

“Likewise urge the young men to be sensible;” – Titus 2:6

Let’s Hit the Books

All four of our children are homeschooled, but helping my son with his studies is significantly different from helping my girls. Boys, in general, require a bit more activity. My son is frequently known to take learning breaks to simply run around. He is also fond of staring out windows, allowing his mind to wander towards more adventurous endeavors. My son does best when I work with him on a one-one-one bases; walking him through his lessons and urging him to keep up the good work. We’ve also learned to keep lessons as short as possible, and as hands-on as possible.

Do Boys Clean?

Not only can boys clean, but they should! As Christians, we believe in gender roles; however, there is nothing which states a man cannot be clean and organized. After all, God is a God of order, is He not?
As a member of the family, our son helps out with chores and household responsibilities. Being the youngest, his helping might seem small at the moment, but he is learning to be faithful in the little until his contribution may increase. He takes out trash, cleans his room, helps out around the house, and helps Pop with the yard work (when he can).
Incidentally, it’s interesting to note, my son is one of the cleanest people in our home. I’m not sure why boys are typically portrayed as being continually dirty and having messy rooms because this little man is not!

 A Man in the Kitchen! 

Again, we would generally expect working in the kitchen to be more closely associated with women, considering we’re the homemakers and the men are generally out working all day. However, some men really enjoy working in the kitchen and are equally good at it! Besides, it never hurts to add another skill to the tool belt; you never know when it’s going to come in handy.
Our son is not only welcome to work in the kitchen, but encouraged to participate. He is learning to use tools, cook meals, and prepare food for others. He loves it and takes pride in what he makes.

The Art of Being a Gentleman

Let’s be clear here! Allowing a man to be a gentleman does not mean women are weak or unable to do things for themselves. On the contrary, allowing a man to be a gentleman speaks of his gentleness and the lady’s graciousness.
Part of our son’s training is in learning how to be a gentleman. He is encouraged to open doors for us girls, and carry items when able. He is being trained to be honorable, chivalrous, and courteous.

 Who’s the Boss? 

One of the most important things I’ve learned, being the mama of a little man, is to understand that is just what he is… a little man! Most men prefer not to take instruction from women. They prefer to be the leaders; forging their own paths and striking out on their own.
Training my son is a fine balance. I am learning to guide him in his decisions and not push him in the direction I think he needs to go. I am also learning to be gracious in my instruction, not demanding. I am also learning to simply leave the bulk of my son’s training to my husband, who understands him better and gives him firmer guidelines.
My son, on the other hand, is learning to accept my instruction graciously and obey even when his father is not present. He is learning to be respectful when wisdom is imparted. He is also learning what it means to be a true leader, one who guides based on Biblical wisdom and Godly instruction. Raising children is not an easy job.

Bringing Home the Bacon

Can women work? Sure! However, by God’s design, it is a man’s job to provide for his family. Whether he be self-employed, works at home, or drives into an office, our men are responsible for taking care of their family financially.
Part of our son’s discipleship is in helping him understand his God given role as provider. He is being encouraged to find his strengths, discover ways to put those strengths to good use, and provide for those under his care. He is learning to be productive, helpful, and take pride in taking care of his family.

Raising boys is definitely a riot. But, amidst all the chaos and torn jeans, is a world of fun and adventure. With Biblical wisdom, a strong hand, and the grace of God, we are raising our son to be a man after His own heart. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We’d love to hear from you… Share with us your son’s funniest antics!

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I Don’t Need This! (Or Do I?)

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!

….. 

“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 is quickly coming to a close, 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.

We’d like to know… 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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Are There Gaps in My Children’s Education?

are_there_gaps_in_my_childrens_education

Let’s face it. No education is perfect. If that were so, you would know absolutely everything upon graduating and no further learning would be needed. The truth is every education is going to have some “gaps”. The question is rather where are the gaps in my children’s education?

While I believe in giving our children the best education I possible can, I only have so much time and so many resources available to me. It would be physically impossible for me to cover each area of study perfectly. It is also quite unfair for me to expect our children to absorb all of that information and retain it.

No; it seems gaps are inevitable. Somewhere along the line an area of study will not be covered quite as thoroughly as I could have or, heaven forbid, might get skipped over entirely. (Remember my whole tying the shoes error? Totally skipped that all important lesson; accidentally, of course.) So, the question doesn’t seem to be whether or not our children will have gaps in their education, but, rather, where those gaps will be found.

Where would a gap in education not be acceptable? Theology, including worldview apologetics and logic. No other area of our children’s learning is more important or more fundamental to the rest of their lives. Theology should, and will, be the most solid part of their education.

Why theology? Theology is the study of God and religious belief. It is our belief that how you view God and your relationship with Him will help determine the remainder of your worldview. Knowing what you believe, and why, will affect your study of science, history, literature, and more. If we expect our children to have a proper foundation in all other areas of learning, it must first begin with theology. (For arguments regarding forcing religion on your children, please read THIS article.)

While we strive to keep those “gaps” in learning as little as possible, they are bound to happen. Instead of being caught up in spending every minute of every day learning all there is to possibly know, let us instead focus our energies on those things which are foundational to both their worldviews and their potential futures. When a proper foundation for learning is established, there is a peace about the walls that are built upon it.

“…and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:15-17

We’d love to know… Do you perceive any “gaps” in your children’s education and in which areas of learning are unwilling to compromise?

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5 Ways to Avoid Mid-Year Burnout

Five Ways to Avoid Mid-Year Burnout

Whether it be the lack of sun due to cloudy skies, the snow-covered world begging us to hibernate, or rainy weather forbidding us to explore outside, the fact is mid-year for most homeschooling families is hard. If we aren’t careful, our excitement for learning can quickly turn into mid-year burnout.

The year is half over, the review portion of our materials has long passed and we are now into the nitty-gritty of our lessons; the harder sections which stretch our kids minds and add those wrinkles to the brain. Add to this the cooler weather, practically forcing us indoors, and you soon have the makings of an unhappy family.

What’s a parent to do? How do we turn our routine around so mom doesn’t go crazy and the kids don’t start climbing the walls? Over the years, we’ve learned a couple of changes in our routine help us avoid mid-year burnout and help us finish strong:

Get Fresh Air – Even if you’re just going for a brisk walk or stepping onto your front porch, take a moment to enjoy some fresh air. Being indoors constantly can leave you feeling claustrophobic and tired. Our bodies need sunshine and clean air in order to function well. Plus, it doesn’t hurt the soul to enjoy God’s creation.

Change Your Routine – Tired of doing the same ol’ thing? Try changing it up! Switch your routine of subjects around. Change which days you do your chores. Find some creative way to mix things up, without making your life madness. Just a little altering might help you view life a little differently.

Exercise – You’ve been inside too much, possibly sitting down a bulk of the day. Consider getting a little exercise and stretching out those muscles. Running, jogging, and hiking are all great ways to get some exercise. If you can’t get outdoors, consider aerobic routines which the kids could do with you.

Take a Moment For Yourself – Let’s face it, when the family is forced to stay indoors all day, the kids tend to want more attention. They’ve played with all their toys, watched all their movies, read all their books, and are, frankly, just as stir crazy as you are right now. Consider trading play days with friends, giving each other an afternoon ‘off’ to just relax and enjoy peace and quiet. Ask Dad to watch the kids for the night and go enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend. Have Grandma watch the kids and you both go enjoy a movie! No matter how you manage it, take a moment or two for yourself; breathe and refresh your soul in order to finish your year well.

Spend Some Time With Friends or Fellow Homeschoolers – It helps to commiserate fellowship with other homeschooling parents who completely understand what you are going through. Set up a play date, park day, baking day, any day, just to visit with friends. Spend the day encouraging one another and exploring ways to break the lethargy which seems to be taking hold.

The year is about half over. (At least for those following a traditional learning routine.) Don’t allow a short season of restlessness to overshadow the amazing year you’ve been having so far. Take charge of life and get out of the winter rut.

Find what works for you, make it happen, and finish your year strong. Enjoy your adventure!
Cristina

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

~ Matthew 11:28-30

We’re Curious… As a mom, one of the hardest (and silliest) things I used to let bug me was allowing my kids to play in the rain. I was always taught this could make kids sick and, frankly, what was I going to do with all those wet clothes? To my kids’ delight, we got over this and have awesome pictures to show for it. What was one of the hardest (and silliest) things that used to bother you about rainy/snowy days?

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