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!

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“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?

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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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When Our Children’s Learning Styles Differ From Our Teaching

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Let’s face it. It can be hard work determining how our children learn best. We struggle to understand which method fits their needs, we research endlessly the resources needed to best help them learn, and we readjust continually for their growing minds. But what about you, the teacher? What happens when how your children learn is completely foreign and you’re both struggling to make your adventure in learning work?

I wish – Oh, how I wish – all my children learned in the same way. It would have made life so much easier. But God, in His infinite goodness and wisdom, made each of my kids unique. They all learn differently, are motivated by different things, and tackle the adventure of life in their own way. As if that isn’t crazy enough, then you throw in a mom who also has her own individual style of learning and teaching; some of which is a throwback from her days in public education. You can imagine how much fun school must be in our home.

Truthfully, it is a blast. It isn’t always easy, but over the years the Lord has shown us ways to make this work. It all starts and ends with Him.

Prayer – If I plan to do this all by my own efforts, I can plan to fail. It’s hard enough to manage myself, much less an entire household. Prayer brings me before the Lord, asking what He wants of their education and how I can go about the work He wants to do in my children.

Understanding – I am persuaded that while I could force my children to adjust to my way of doing things, in the long run I might be doing more damage than good. Instead, I want to pay attention and have a heart willing to adjust according to everyone’s needs.

Communication – When our children were little they tended to simply follow my lead. As they’ve matured, we’ve learned to discuss studies as a family. Our children are free to ask why things are done a certain way, suggest possible changes to their learning, and at times even determine which courses we will be studying next. We allow them to help chart the course, with the understanding that we have final authority and all things must be led by the Lord.

Meeting Half Way – Four kids. Four learning styles. And a mom who sometimes gets stuck in her ways. Sometimes. How do we make this work? We find a middle ground. There are areas of study the kids do on their own, in their own unique way. Other lessons are done as a family, with consideration given to everyone present. Some courses are more of a struggle than others. It is in these moments character development plays a role in their education. We learn humility, grace, patience, understanding, and long-suffering towards one another. We seek the good of each, knowing at times how we want to do things must be put to the wayside for the best of those we love.

Research, Research, Research – Sometimes in order for my children to learn, I need to re-learn. And re-learn again. I understand the concept being taught, but how will my child best grasp what is being given? So I learn various ways to teach the same subject, and can frequently be found studying my children’s textbooks in anticipation of questions they might have regarding the material.  This often takes a bit of time, as well as some trial-and-error, but it is well worth the effort.

Getting Out of the Comfort Zone – I like being comfortable, don’t you? It seems I am in the wrong place. Parenting and homeschooling are not a comfort zone. This life will stretch us beyond anything we could imagine. But, it is making us into something beautiful. I find the Lord makes a practice of shaking up my routine and my misconceptions about my limits. All of this is done not to frustrate and hurt me, but to give us a better understanding of the world He has created and to keep us always relying on Him. Comfortable is nice, for a time, but it is not a place to remain.

Faith, Trust, and… – When the Lord has called us to a work, He will be faithful to complete it. God called us to parenting. He called us to homeschool. So we pray minute-by-minute and faithfully do what He has asked; knowing at the end of all things He is in control.

Yes, it would have been easier if I had four children who all learned the same way. My way. But it would not be as lovely or as special. Through each of our children’s educational adventures we have been shown a world of beauty and joy. Each unique learning path has brought its own benefits and growth. In them and in us. Through the grace of God we are learning, together. It is an inspired adventure which always keeps us on our toes.

We’re curious… Is there a subject you find difficult to teach?

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
~ Philippians 1:6

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The Importance of Asking Questions

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“My mother made me a scientist without ever intending to. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school: “So did you learn anything today?” But not my mother, “Izzy,” she would say, “did you ask a good question today?” That difference – asking good questions – made me become a scientist.”

Isidor Rabi

I’m a firm believer in never letting go of our love of learning. Even as adults, we ought to continue increasing in wisdom. But while some might think learning is merely a matter of intaking knowledge, learning is also the asking of great questions.

One of the many reasons I love our pastors at church is their openness. They are willing to admit they don’t know everything and are constantly encouraging us to test everything we hear against Scripture. Why is this important? We aren’t to simply intake information, accepting it for truth; we are to search truth out and verify what aligns with God’s Word, not man’s.

Shouldn’t all learning be this way? When learning anything new, we ought to break it down to the innermost parts. We ought to weigh the arguments being made, turning them inside and out. Everything we hear, read, and see should be carefully considered and thought over; weighed against God’s Word.

Some parents are afraid of their kids’ questions, especially those about their faith. However, there is no need for fear. It is okay to ask questions. It is good to ask questions! There is no question too big for God; He knows them all and their answers.

Let me be clear, I do not believe in teaching our children to be skeptics; they need to trust our word and what we share with them. But we also want them to be inquisitive and examine the world around them. It’s also important to note: not all questions are because you doubt what is being learned, but because you are attempting to build an argument for why something is true.

In our home, our children understand they are welcome to ask us anything. They are able to question our beliefs and ask why we believe what we believe. By asking these questions of us, in the comfort of a loving family, they are able to have their questions answered fully and truthfully. We are laying a foundation for all the learning to come and the questions they will receive from the world around them.

If we don’t ask questions of our children and encourage them to ask in return, how are we preparing them for the world outside our front doors? We need to learn not only to be open to questions, but welcoming. Wisdom and knowledge have been gained through many a good question. Why not start asking more today?

“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
~ Acts 17:11

We’re curious… How do you help your children determine the difference between asking a good question and just questioning authority?

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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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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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5 Ways to Incorporate Creative Writing

five_ways_to_incorporate_creative_writingYou’d think, really you would with all the books I read, I would enjoy writing. Truth be told, I like sharing; that’s why I blog. But, writing – writing for the sake of writing – writing to tell a story? That’s a little more intimidating. The mere idea of sitting down to flesh out an entire novel scares me. All those details, plot twists, and unearthing a satisfying ending? I’m tired just thinking about it. As I’ve started to encourage creative writing in my children, I’ve come to realize perhaps I am thinking a little too hard. I need to start off with something small and work my way up to ‘bigger’ projects. Take one moment at a time and simply enjoy the process.

Over the years our family has incorporated a few creative ideas to encourage a love of writing in our home. Some you’ve already heard of; some you might already be doing; and others are just fun to explore!

Family Mailboxes

Who doesn’t like to receive mail? Each of our children received their own ‘mailbox’. We taught our kids how to write letters, post mail, and to respond within a reasonable amount of time to keep the fun going.
As a bonus, we helped each of our children create their own letterhead, bought them rubber postage stamp sets (to use in place of real stamps), and boxes of envelopes. Seeing our children become excited to both give and receive letters was such a blessing. It’s great to see them look for ways to bless the other members of the family.

Letters to Friends

Pen pals are fun, too! In the past, we’ve written letters to family members, friends, and online acquaintances. There are even websites you can work through to help your children get connected with others who are looking for a pen pal.

Dante’s Wardrobe

A few years back we ran a series on this fun, creative writing technique. Dante’s Wardrobe consisted of having our children create an ‘alternate’ personality for themselves; each person in our family picked a character they wanted to be. For the next learning year we wrote to each other, left clues for each other, and made presents for each other, based on the character we had chosen.
This helped our children think outside the box and find imaginative ways to tell about themselves. Each year we did this, we picked an entirely new character and explored new options.

Journaling

Journaling has allowed my children to write down their personal stories, poems, and thoughts without the fear of anyone else reading. We usually have scads of notebooks strewn about the house for them to use. However, we also have dedicated writing journals.
At one point we even set the children up with their own blog! Writing in this manner was especially fun for our kids and they loved the feedback from the few readers they had, besides mom and pop.

Writing Prompts

Occasionally, I have been known to throw out a writing prompt as part of our homeschool lessons. I try to make the topics something our children will want to write about. We have personified stained glass windows, asked what pirate name best suits us, and explained battle plans for attempting to conquer foreign lands.
Our prompts are generally based on our history lessons. Each of us, mom included, has a personalized journal to write in. The idea is to use the prompts given (which are planned to be silly, yet thoughtful) and write for only three minutes; no more! Then we take a moment to read our prompt and see whose is the funniest, cutest, or most heartfelt.

It’s important to point out, while doing these activities, we parents aren’t checking for errors. The purpose of these exercises is to increase their love of writing, not to make sure they are writing correctly; that is where formal practice comes in. Using these five, easy writing ideas, we are cultivating a love of writing in our home. Enjoy the ideas, and go with the flow; this should be fun!

We’re curious… Which of the five ideas above would your family use most and why?

“And he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs…”
Exodus 35:31-32

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10 Ways to Fail As a Teacher

10_ways_to_failAt the start of each learning year I try to self-evaluate. As my children’s teacher, are there areas which could use some improvement? How can I help my children better understand what I’m trying to share with them? Is there anything I’m doing which is preventing my children from drawing closer to the Lord?

Perhaps my evaluation ought to begin with ways in which I could be failing. Hey, you have to start somewhere!

  1. Force Curriculum – While I’m all for exposing our children to various pursuits, and require our children learn all core subjects, there is a significant difference between mandatory subjects and forcing curriculum. Algebra is non-negotiable in our house, but I’m all for trying various companies and methods to find which works best for each child.
  2. Do Everything in a Book – Nothing frustrates a child more than having their nose stuck in a textbook all day. I need to make sure I’m offering a good balance of book work, hands-on projects, and active outside opportunities.
  3. Make Them Do Everything – I know there are a lot of awesome activities in that language arts book. It can be very tempting to make my kiddos do every-single-one. However, that might not be the best way to encourage a love of learning. I need to pick my battles and be willing to let a few stray addition problems go. On occasion. Maybe.
  4. Don’t Listen to Them – Am I talking over my kids? Constantly. Do I allow them to – respectfully – share their thoughts and opinions? Perhaps if I listened more, and truly heard them, we might get a little further.
  5. Confuse Them – Am I being too vague in my teaching? Am I explaining things fully or in a manner which they can understand? Am I teaching to them or at them? If I am teaching for the sake of teaching, with them taking nothing away, what is the point?
  6. Be Demanding – Do this! Do that! Come here! Sit down! Be quiet! (See the problem here?) None of this is being said with love, kindness, grace, or understanding. I need  to make sure I am tempering my responses, requests, and commands with affection. It helps; it really does!
  7. Offer No Free Time – I need to be careful how much time we are spending with organized activity. Too little can be an issue, but so can too much! If I want to drive my kids crazy, all I need to do is take away all free time.
  8. Refuse Questions – It’s frustrating being interrupted when we’re in the middle of a thought. But, what if the interruption leads to wonderful things?! What if we need to be interrupted because our child just isn’t getting it?
  9. Lecture Often – This topic always conjures up images of Mr. Ben Stein. Me standing at the front of the room, book in hand, chalkboard behind; I’m droning on and on regarding a topic my kids have lost all interest in, thanks to my monologue. While I’m all for a pointed lesson on a given topic, I need to evaluate whether I’m being helpful or just speaking to hear my own voice.
  10. Forget Character Training – Here’s a biggie!! While I don’t find public school teachers responsible for character training (they aren’t the parents after all), I cannot get by with this excuse. I AM the parent! It’s my job to train my child in the way he should go. Shoving through a stack of textbooks and paperwork does my child little good if I am not teaching them how to be righteous in the process.

I may release a sigh of relief; I’m not completely failing as a teacher. However, I also see areas in which I might need to relax. Overall, we’re doing pretty well. The kids love learning, we’re progressing nicely, and our family is centered on Christ. With His help we’re accomplishing more than I could have ever dreamed. Perhaps I’m not doing such a bad job after all.

We’re curious… What would you list as your top 3 ways to fail as a teacher!

“May my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, like gentle rain upon the tender grass, and like showers upon the herb.”
~ Deuteronomy 32:2

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When the Kids Know More Than We Do

when_the_kids_know_more_than_we_doIt’s happened. I knew such a time would come a time in my children’s learning adventure. I just didn’t plan for it to happen quite this soon. We have finally reached that point in life when areas of my children’s knowledge have surpassed my own.

If I’ve done things well I will begin to work myself ‘out of a job’. As a parent, especially a homeschooling parent, my goal is to raise a fully functioning adult; four of them, in fact. In raising independent learners, it was inevitable that at some point they might discover things I have yet to explore. What are parents to do when their children start to exceed their knowledge? How do we continue teaching them when they absorb facts faster than a sponge absorbs liquid?

Practice Humility

Pride is hard to overcome. We’ve spent years educating our children and they have the nerve to start telling us we’re wrong? They want to explain how things are done, when events happened, and impart newfound knowledge to us parents.

Sure, we could get upset with them for correcting our poor grammar and interrupting our lessons with more detail than we prepared. Or, we could make this a teachable moment. We need to be able to swallow our pride, accept that our children are eager to learn, and continue to teach.

Teach Humility

It’s wonderful to learn new things and impart that knowledge to others who might be interested. However, we also need to learn the right time and place to share. We need to learn how to share. While our children might have learned facts we haven’t, they still need to learn how to share with kindness, grace, gentleness, and humility.

Learning new things should not fill us with self-righteous pride and arrogance. If that is the case, you have increased your knowledge base, certainly, but have yet to increase in wisdom. Wisdom is by far the more important of the two.

Be Patient

When our children wish to share all the exciting new things they are learning, expressing their interest in the topic, they can often times exhaust our patience. We need to remember that our children are learning and loving the adventure. The surest way to kill their enthusiasm is to become frustrated with them, belittle them, or refuse to hear their thoughts. Be open to hearing them and listen with attention to what they are trying to say. You never know, you might enjoy the lesson!

Show Some Respect

There is a fine line between sharing newfound information and disrespectfully tossing around facts to belittle parents or others in authority positions. Again, the purpose of increasing in knowledge is not to lord it over another and make them feel small.

When our children share with us, and others, they need to be mindful that respect remains intact. They should respect the life experience the adult has, respect the feelings of the adult being spoken to, and respect the role the Lord has given that person in their life. Yes; they might have knowledge to share, but that doesn’t give them an excuse to be rude to those around them.

Encourage Growth

It can be uncomfortable to admit our children know more about a certain topic than we do. But, to my way of thinking, this shows what a good job we have done as parents. Our children have been well-taught; they know how to find information for themselves, comprehend what they are reading, and are motivated to keep doing so. We ought to give ourselves a pat on the back and enjoy the fact that our children are learning, and we didn’t have to do a thing. Encourage them to keep up the good work. Encourage them to keep sharing what they find with the family. Encourage their love of learning.

Continue Teaching

The fact that our kids might know a little more than we do in a particular area should not prevent us from continuing on with the remainder of their learning. If we feel out of our depth, it might be time to find other ways to assist them. However, this should not discourage us from trying our best and moving forward. Things might need to change, but it doesn’t mean we need to give up. Keep pressing forward!

More or Just Different?

I’ve teased that my kids know more than I do, but, in truth, they don’t. They might have learned a few cool, new facts. They might remember dates better than I. What they’ve learned is not more, just different. Life experience and some Godly wisdom are on my side.

If your children are avid learners, take heart; you’ve done a great job in your parenting. Do not be discouraged when your children spout facts you never knew, read more books than you can, program an app that makes your head swim, and/or cook better than you on any given day. Their increase is a direct reflection of the hard work and dedication you’ve put into their education. Be proud of what your children are accomplishing, and train them to use it wisely.

“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

Your Turn!: If applicable, in what area has your child surpassed you in knowledge?

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