Redeeming the Time

Redeeming the TimeThe last time my wife asked me to guest-post, I wrote a brief description of homeschooling from a father’s perspective (well, from this father’s perspective, in any case). This time I was asked to write about the importance of fathers in the homeschool process, and I’m primarily addressing men here. Because it’s such a vast subject encompassing so many aspects, I’ve chosen to begin on one particular aspect: Time         

…For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.
– James 4:14

The older you get, the more you realize how short life really is, and you realize how little time you have to do all the things you’d like to do. Let me say right now that if you spend all of your time trying to fulfill some “bucket list” you’ll probably miss out on the important relationships that really matter. No man on his death-bed has regrets about never having had a chance to sky dive. What a dying man inevitably regrets is all the time wasted on useless things while neglecting his family. If there’s only one point I can get across to husbands and fathers is that you need to be attending to your relationship with your family. If that means you miss a football game or time on the golf course, so be it. Better to miss a few meaningless pursuits than to come home one day and find that your children have grown and are gone, and you missed out on the whole thing.

Work – Let’s face it, guys need to work. Given the state of the economy, a man’s got to do whatever it takes to make ends meet. This may eat up most of his time, and the family just needs to understand that dad can’t always be around. My only advice to dads is that they only work as much as necessary to properly provide for their families. I won’t define “properly” here, because everyone’s circumstances are different. Suffice it to say that you shouldn’t be working more than is necessary if it means you’re neglecting your family to make a few extra bucks for that new car you’ve been wanting. Like I mentioned earlier, no man will look back on his life and regret not getting a new car. He will, however, regret not spending more time making his kids laugh. It’s the little moments we take for granted.

Labor not to be rich: cease from your own wisdom… for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward the heaven.”
– Proverbs 23:4-5

Education – So what does all of that have to do with education? It’s constantly being repeated that homeschooling is about using every opportunity to teach some lesson. This means that, as a father, your involvement in your child’s education includes every moment you spend with them, which is why I wanted to focus on the importance of time spent with your children. If you’re not spending any time with your kids, then you’re likely imparting no knowledge to them. And take note that education isn’t all about academics. It’s about teaching your kids about truth, beauty, wisdom, justice, goodness, order, and about the God who provides a rational ground for making these things intelligible in a coherent, correspondent world view.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
– Proverbs 1:7

Teaching your kids to cook, ride a bike, or play an instrument are all educational experiences. It should also be noted that the classical understanding of why we receive an education is not to get a degree so that we can go out and get a high-paying job. Rather, we educate ourselves so that we might glorify God as we live a moral, intellectually robust, winsome lives, while helping others. I’m not suggesting that a job isn’t important as well, but only observing that no certificate of degree has any value if it doesn’t correspond to having actually gained some wisdom. The world isn’t short on idiots with degrees.

Training – We’ve all heard about the social ills due to fatherless homes, so I won’t touch on that except to say that most of it is due to a lack of discipline. I won’t pretend to have this down perfectly, but dads need to be teaching their children (especially if they have a headstrong son, which I do) that their behavior has consequences. It’s better to spank your child’s bottom and teach him this lesson while he’s young, rather than him learning this lesson the hard way when he’s an adult, at which point the consequences might be permanent and more severe. Fathers who fail to teach their children the harsh reality of consequences are doing their children a great disservice.

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.”
– Galatians 6:7

With respect to headstrong boys, let me say that a man’s nature is to be the dominant sex, and so a headstrong boy will have a difficult time taking instruction from a woman, even if it’s his mother. He’ll rebel and protest and refuse her instruction, often to the point of disrespect. If you have such a son, you’d better be ready to discipline this child and communicate very clearly to him that you will not tolerate his treating your wife this way. You wouldn’t let another man treat your wife poorly; don’t let your own little man treat your wife poorly. You’ll also be doing his future wife a favor if you teach him now to have respect for women, so love and cherish your wife and show your son how to be a loving husband.

Leadership – Some people are natural leaders. They don’t even have to try, and yet people will look to such people to lead them. My wife is such a person. She doesn’t have to ask anyone to follow her. Other women just seem to do so. Men, on the other hand, are called to be the leaders of their home, whether or not they have any natural leadership abilities. I happen not to be a natural leader, so this role of leader isn’t easy for me. Suffice it to say, men are called to provide for and protect their families. That’s not the difficult part. What is difficult is being the spiritual leader, and here’s where most of us, including myself, come up short. Rather than wasting time lamenting this situation, let’s just say that we need to step up to the plate and begin praying with our families and leading them in devotions. We need to be the one to set the godly example. We need to be the one to encourage them when it’s time to go to church. Most importantly on this point, we need to lead by example, not by force. People can only follow you if you’re out in front. If you’re pushing them from behind, you’re driving them, not leading them. Your family is not cattle. Don’t treat them as such.

Finally, much of this may not seem related to homeschooling, but again, every aspect of your relationship with your family is a lesson taught to your children. Your wife already carries most of the academic teaching, so use what little time off you have from work to spend with your families and be the man God calls you to be, one of those roles being that of teacher to your children.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart: And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
– Deuteronomy 6:5-7

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There’s No Place Like Home

The GangSince having our second daughter, my husband has worked at home. We have grown accustomed to his unusual work hours, his popping in during lessons, and the occasional “let’s take the day off” mentality.

Recently, though, things have changed. Working from home isn’t quite as lucrative as it used to be (even then things were a little slim) and so he has had to find outside work.

Thankfully he has found work with a great friend, whom he gets along with very well. It isn’t in his usual field of expertise (which is art), but he enjoys hanging out with his buddy.

Unfortunately it does mean that he no longer works here though. With this job, he works all over the place and works a different schedule almost every week.

We have been doing pretty well adjusting to the change in our lives, but this week proved to be a little more challenging. This week they were gone for several days, handling business out-of-town.

I think this short time away from each other opened our eyes to how much he is needed. The kids are not quite themselves and keep asking when he will be back. My son especially keeps asking when Pop will come home to put him to bed.

I think what I missed the most was simply knowing he was here. If an emergency came up or a quick errand had to be run, it was all on me. There was no convenient baby sitter, strong back, or sharp mind for me to run to; I was it for the week.

After several days, the man is finally returning home! Hooray! I wanted to make sure that everything was set to rights and we would be free to simply enjoy his company, so today we did things a little differently.

After a good breakfast, the kids settled in to get their homeschooling done. It took us a little bit, but knowing Pop was coming home helped them to hustle along just a little.

We normally do our grocery shopping on Thursdays, so we decided that we would cut out electives for the day and instead get the shopping done early. We grabbed a quick bite, ran through our errands, and made it home.

The kids and I got the house cleaned up, the groceries put away, and ourselves to rights. Not only did we make it on time, but we actually have a few minutes to spare!

Working together was great and it taught them a valuable lesson (which was just as important as those electives we skipped); the merit in relationship.

Sure, we could have kept to our regular routine and possible not been home when my husband arrived, but that would have seemed wrong. I could have been home, but not filled our house with good food, but that didn’t seem right either.

I believe that a better lesson was taught today, the value of preparing our home and anticipating the return of Dad. I wanted them to see how important it was to be prepared and anxious for his return.

Now, the kids are checking the clock and keeping an eye on the door. I am making sure nothing is too out-of-place and no responsibilities will interfere with our evening.

It will be great having him back… It’s not quite the same without him.

One Flesh

The Man and IWhether or not you homeschool, being one unit is vital to marriage. It is important to know that you are on the same page and that you support one another.

Within the context of homeschooling, I think being “one” is even more essential. Without a unity of thought and purpose, your homeschooling journey can be fraught with trouble and often treacherous.

When I am focusing on setting up our routines and planning out our year, it is wonderful to know that my husband not only knows what’s going on, but actively participates in what the children learn.

When I am doubting what should be taught and what can be glossed over, it brings peace of mind to know my husband’s thoughts. He often sees things more clearly and helps me to restructure our path.

When my children struggle with a particular subject, my husband has no problem stepping in and trying his hand.

When they fight and argue, we support each other. No one gets past one of us, without the other stepping up to take over.

In the realm of our little world, there isn’t mommy’s side and pop’s side, but our side. There  are no differing answers, but one answer. Mommy doesn’t homeschool the kids, we homeschool the kids.

It is a huge comfort to know that, when I doubt myself or my plans, he has faith in me and that these are our plans we made together. It is calming to know that we support and love each other, filling in the other’s gaps.

There is no me, there is no him; there is us!

Dad’s Night Out

The Man Behind the LenseMy husband joined the men in our homeschool group for a Dad’s Night Out, last night. He was supposed to take pictures of the event, but apparently he was having so much fun, he forgot! (Rrrrrr…..)

Oh, well! It is a blessing to know that my guy was able to enjoy his evening and that they were having such a good time. He really doesn’t get many opportunities to just hang out with his friends and fellowship.

While they do have games available for them, it seems they generally spend the evening talking and eating. They always intend to get to the games, but never quite make it.

This is one of the reasons that we love our homeschool PSP so much. Most groups are mom centered and hardly make a point of including the fathers. Our group has a male principal, has several men that lead important areas of the group, and highly encourages all of the dads’ participation in all activities.

We are so blessed to have this group and to enjoy their friendship. I hope all of the other dads had as much fun as my husband did!

Does your homeschool group encourage the participation of its fathers? How so?

Game’s On!

One of the things we enjoy about our homeschool support group, is that it feels like family! Most support groups consist of just the younger kids and the mommies. Good luck getting high school kids to want to hang around and the dads are often not encouraged to participate. Not so, with our group!

Last night was our first game night of the year and it was a blast! We had games, fellowship, and loads of good desserts! The ladies took on the guys in a game of Guesstures and won!!

Battle PlansThe guys did a great job, but they were defeated by the ladies!

Showing Off

One of the dad’s showing us how it’s done!

It looks like this...

Our principal giving us some tips on how to play the game.

sWho Me?Some of the ladies enjoying some cake and fellowship!

Games

The large stack of games, some of which got played and some of which didn’t.

So soft

The bonus round for me was receiving this awesome blanket! One of the ladies had made it and didn’t know what to do with it?! So, she gave it to me!

Ah… I will be loving on this blanket for quite a while.

Play Things

The bonus round for my kiddos was receiving a large bag of marble track. My husband is excited to spend part of this evening setting this up with our son and watching him have a blast!

Oooo… the hours of fun this bag is going to give! We can’t wait!

All together, the night was spectacular. We had a great time visiting with our friends and relaxing. We love getting together with these guys; it is always a good time!

Do you have game nights with your homeschool friends? What is your favorite game to play as a group?

An Apple a Day

Little Man PlayingAs I mentioned in a previous post, media is limited in our home. Our children are only allowed TV and “free play” on devices from Friday evening until Sunday evening. Even then, they are limited to how much time they get. At times, it can become a little hard to uphold these rules; especially when we develop mobile apps.

My husband is part of Ayars Animation, a small company based in California that develops apps for Apple mobile devices. To date, they have completed four apps and are working on a fifth. Their first app was the classic story, Jack and the Beanstalk.iPod

Working with Ayars Animation has been loads of fun for him. He was mainly hired to handle the illustrations for the apps, but it has become much more. Now, he has become instrumental in helping to develop future apps and the fine tuning of details.

The Tree I SeeOne side effect of developing these apps has been that we are constantly testing them out. Our children are often called upon to check for “bugs” and crashes. While the kids have a blast with helping out their pop, they are taking in a little more media than we often would allow.

It also means that they are being exposed to the world of Apple. Our children know their way around any Apple device that is placed in their hands and can sync any handheld with a desktop. They know iTunes like the back of their hands and, unfortunately, are up to date on the latest and greatest kid apps available. Pirate Puzzles

We now have a large assortment of learning apps, strategy apps, game apps, and book apps; our collection growing larger every day. The minute their friends get a new app, the kids are anxious to try it out.

Cozmo's Day OffAs it is the school year, I still refrain from allowing them to play with media during the week. However, testing does need to be done. We are trying to find a balance between the two; helping out Pop and yet not have media overkill. It isn’t always easy, but we are learning as we go.

However… It is Sunday and the house is filled with the sound of technology. Now, can someone tell me how I am supposed to get the Angry Birds theme song out of my head?

The Ministry of Homeschooling

Field TripDid you know that when you are teaching and homeschooling your children, you are ministering? Yup, that’s right! You are serving the Lord through being their educator and parent.

While we love and enjoy our “home” ministry to our children, my husband and I also minister to them through our homeschool support group. We look for ways that we can make their field trips, co-ops, game nights, and any other events more enjoyable.

Today was our first homeschool meeting of the year and we had a blast! We had an opportunity to meet the new families joining in and encourage them. We were able to discuss the coming year and lay down some plans for future events. Me

My husband volunteers as photographer for the group, so student and faculty ID shots were taken today; getting the year started off right. I volunteer by handling the newsletter, yearbook, and T-Shirt orders. It looks to be a very busy, but rewarding, year!

It has been a blessing serving in the ministry of our homeschool group. We love the fellowship and the fun. Sometimes it seems they are as much family as, well, family!

Do you have a PSP that you are a part of? What part of homeschool ministry are you involved in?

Dog Days and Sweet Tweets

When I was a very little girl of three, I had a puppy for the brief span of two weeks. It seemed the puppy liked me a little too much; it was constantly nipping and scratching, so out the poor little fellow went.

Jump twenty some odd years into the future… I had four kids of my own and still no pup. That was all about to change though! Our youngest daughter fell in love with the sweetest little thing at a family function. Lo-and-behold, the little one had a brother that needed a home too!

After much debate (me convincing my husband), we finally agreed. Two years ago, we brought home our puppy and our home hasn’t been the same since!

Everyone told me that we would regret it. They told me the kids wouldn’t be attached after the first three months and I would be doing all the work. Well, we are a couple of years into this and my baby girl is still going strong. 

Bringing a puppy into the house certainly has been an education though. Our kids have learned quite a bit from having Dutch and so have we. The first year we learned the hard way, then we decided to get smart and read a book. Along the way we learned some great lessons:

  • Patience– Training a dog takes a lot of patience. They won’t understand why you get angry or frustrated, impatience serves no purpose.
  • Persistence– We had to learn not to give up, even when the dog just didn’t seem to be getting it.
  • Consistency- It never pays to be lazy in training (which we learned the hard way).
  • Gentleness– Yelling at the dog isn’t going to aid in training. You need to speak with a gentle, yet firm, voice.
  • Work Ethic- Laziness and pets do not mix. Grooming, feeding, and exercise are all essential to good animal care.

Dutch is not fully trained yet (due to our late start on the right path) but he is making excellent progress. It has been great to watch the kids learn these valuable lessons.

To add to the fun, about six months ago we decided to allow our youngest daughter to get birds! We bought her two little budgies (parakeets). Like with Dutch, the same lessons needed to be learned and there were areas for her to grow.

Having pets has been a fun adventure that (so far) I do not regret. We have learned a lot and are having so much fun with them. It was the right decision for our family.

Who knows what might be coming up next? Angelina has her eye on kittens… Hmmm… Nope; I don’t think my guy is going to budge on that one!

Do you have pets? What valuable lessons have you and your children learned?

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Part Three

Fail-to-planThis week is full of activities; yesterday we had a field trip, today I had a doctor appointment, tomorrow is grocery shopping and dental appointments, and don’t even get me started on this weekend. Not every week is this busy, but when it is, there are some key things that I can do to ensure events are as stress-free as possible.

Before planning out an event, there are some questions I should ask myself:        

•Did I pray about this? (Perhaps the Lord has other plans?)                                            •Did my husband say it was okay? (As a Christian wife, I respectfully keep my husband   aware of all that I plan to do.)                                                                                            •Will it take away from my first responsibility? (My first job is to be the Keeper of my home.  If this event will prevent me from doing that, I need to rethink going.)                               •Will my family benefit from the event? (Not all good ideas are good for us.)                  •Will I stress out trying to make the event possible? (Do I already have too many events planned on the same day?)

If my event has passed “inspection”; off to the calendar I go. I prefer to do my scheduling on my computer, there I can schedule email reminders and sinc with my iPod. It will also allow me to add notes regarding the event, such as “pack swimsuits”.

Prep for the event by getting any necessary materials ahead of time. Certain events, such as potlucks, often require me to bring along some food. When putting the event on my calendar, I will make sure to add these items onto my grocery list. If I have a birthday present to purchase, that will be added to my errand list. (See Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Part One) The day before the event, I usually try to make sure my car has enough fuel; it is always a pain to get in the car and realize I now have to stop for gas… talk about stress!

On the day of the event, I map it out. Knowing what time your event starts is helpful, IMG_8050but (especially having kids) that information isn’t always enough. How long will it take me to get to the event? How long will it take me to get out the door? How long does it take to straighten up my house and kids before heading out the door? Do I have anything else going that morning that also needs to be done? See what I mean; lots of factors will determine how the day goes. I don’t like leaving things to chance; therefore I like to “work backwards”. It looks something like this:

Event Time:          3:00pm (With a drive time of 1hr.)

Leave Time:         1:45pm ( I like to have extra time.)

Kids shoes on:     1:30pm (Plenty of time to brush teeth, hair, shoes on, and get in car.)

Straighten House:1:00pm(If not decent, I don’t leave.I can’t tell you how often that pays off.)

Lunch:                  12:00 (Plenty of time to eat in peace, wash up, and grab food/presents.)

This schedule works very well for morning events too. I simply plug in my start time and “work backwards”. This will help me determine what time I need to wake up, what time my kids need to be up, and everything else that needs to get done before heading out the door.

Because my event was organized to the best of my ability, I am not rushing around trying to do things last minute. Everything I need is set in place and ready to go.  Barring any last minute changes, I am free to enjoy my day and anticipate a wonderful afternoon.

Reading is Key

My husband and I have always enjoyed reading. Even before having our kids, we each had a vast collection of children’s literature. He tended to choose books based on their artistic appeal (being an artist) and I on the whimsical story lines.
It seemed only natural for us that as we began having kids, they also be exposed to the wonderful world of the printed word. From the minute they were born, they became used to watching me read while nursing. As they grew older they would sit on our laps and listen to us read for hours on end. Now it is a pleasure to watch them eagerly search our home and local library, scouring the shelves for books they have yet to explore.
Today as we signed up for yet another Summer Reading Program, it was a joy to see my babies’ eyes light up and anticipate what the summer holds. I cherish these moments with my little ones and hope that they look back on their youthful reading with fondness, as my husband and I do.
If you have yet to share the wonderful world of books with your children, you don’t know what you are missing. It is never to late to start. Find your local library and sign up for their Summer Reading Program. Grab a cart full of books and begin a journey you will not regret. The time you spend reading both on your own and with your child will not be wasted or forgotten; your children will grow in wisdom, imagination, and in heart. You will see your relationships bloom and grow while you talk about all the amazing things you read.
Reading is a key element in life. So, pick up a good book and see where it takes you!