Just Give Me An Answer!

Just_Give_Me_An_Answer“Mom, what’s the answer to this question?” I could see it in her face. It wasn’t that she couldn’t find the answer herself, she just didn’t want to exert energy in reaching it. “Well, how would you go about solving the problem? What would be your first step?” I replied. “Really, mom? Can you please just give me an answer?” As a matter of fact, no; no, I won’t.

I admit it. There are times I am a little tough on my kids. I’m not mean. I just like challenging them and pushing them to the limits of what they think they can do. While at times I am sure this is frustrating for them, hopefully one day they will see the brilliance of my plan. In my humble opinion, I believe constantly giving our children the answers is not a good thing. There is a time and place, to be sure, but we need to be on the lookout for always providing solutions without allowing our children to find them on their own. Instead of handing over quick responses to their questions, there are a few better ways to go about reaching the same end.

Make Them Find the Answer – As children learn new skills, they will often come across vocabulary and terminology previously unheard of. Instead of immediately telling them what a word means, we encourage our children to look the word up for themselves. The same goes for facts about topics of which they have little knowledge. If they want more information on Timbuktu, they go look it up! This saves them the headache of having to wait for mom and encourages them to be proactive with their education. Being an independent learner is important.

Have Them Try For the Answer – Often our children know the right answer, but are just afraid of being wrong. At others, I simply want to hear their thought process to see where they’re going off track. In these cases, I have them make an educated guess and tell me what they think the answer is. Once I see which direction their mind is heading, I can redirect, correcting mistakes and reinforcing skills already learned which would have helped them find the correct answer.

Lead Them to the Answer –  When learning new skills, I try to lead our children to the truth instead of merely stating it. We walk them through the process of finding the solution and allow them to answer the question for themselves. Through this they not only gain a better understanding of how they reached the answer, but it lifts their spirits to know they could answer the question on their own.

Give Them the Answer (and a Short Lesson) – When we’ve exhausted every other avenue, I will finally give them a straight answer. Sometimes simply looking up a word doesn’t help a child understand its meaning. Sometimes they try, but can’t find the right solution. Times like this call for a straight answer, followed up with a quick lesson on how I went about finding the solution or just better explaining what something means.

Of course, there are those times when my hands (and mind) are so busy that mommy forgets all of the above and gives a quick answer. (You should see my kids’ faces when this happens! They feel they’ve pulled one over on me and gotten off easy.) However, whenever possible, I prefer to avoid the easy route and encourage them to discover the answer for themselves. It is more rewarding for them, and offers a world of learning.

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”
~ I John 5:14

Your Turn!: What resources do you keep on hand to help your children find answers for themselves?

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Do I Have a Home School Method?

Do_I_Have_A_Home_School_MethodA large portion of home school blog posts discuss which method of homeschooling is used. Should I be Classical, Unschooled, a little Charlotte Mason, or perhaps Montessori? It all makes me pause and think. Do I have a homeschooling method?

I confess, I have never given it much thought. When we went into homeschooling, all I knew was that I wanted to be with my children and follow the calling of the Lord. It wasn’t until I had already picked my curriculum and started schooling my little ones, that the thought even occurred to me. Do I have a method? If I do, which one do I subscribe to? Does it benefit me to stick to a method?

Reading about the different methods, I can see the benefit of each one and the purpose behind their philosophy. Each one brings something different to the table of learning. On the other hand, I can see the weaknesses in each one; the areas that just don’t meet our family’s needs. Like the Cinderella story, I need the perfect fit.

Looking through our curriculum choices, I went with what worked for my kids. I didn’t worry if that fit a particular method. I prayed and went with the company that best met my standards.

After reading the different methods, I think I have finally found where we “fit in”. We are eclectic home schoolers. There is no one method that completely fulfills all we need. So, we take a little of everything, add a huge dose of prayer, mix in real life, and run with it.

I have come to realize, it doesn’t necessarily matter which method we use. If the Lord is the center of our home and growing in His wisdom is the backbone of our learning, we are sure to succeed.

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
~ Romans 12:3

Your Turn!: How do you feel about the different methods of learning? Do you have one your family prefers?

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What New Thing Did You Learn Today?

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

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

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

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

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

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Teaching Curriculum vs. Teaching Children

teaching_curriuculum_vs_teaching_childrenWhy isn’t she moving faster? Doesn’t she understand I want her to get through the material in the next half hour! I really want to get through this part of our day so we can move on to other things. It really shouldn’t take this long. Then, the Lord hits me full on… Am I teaching the curriculum or teaching my child? Oops; guilty as charged!

I think, sometimes, we homeschool parents can get caught up in the wonderful resources we have available to us. We ooh and aah over new-found books, get excited about special projects, and store up on awesome resources. In all our enthusiasm, I wonder if we have completely forgotten why we do what we do.

Are we getting caught up in buying resources which seem wonderful, and pushing our children through the motions, without bothering to ask ourselves if this is helping our children actually learn or – though learning is taking place – they are enjoying the learning process?

Heaven forbid I force my children through hours of lessons every single day just so I can say I finished a book we purchased. Lord help me if I am pushing my kids to finish material in a certain amount of time simply because I have other plans for the day.

Now, don’t get me wrong. In our learning, we most certainly have a wide arrangement of resources available to us and I highly recommend using them to the fullest. However, I need to be careful the resources are being used as a help and not as the driving force behind my children’s education.

Ultimately, I don’t want my children to simply learn how to finish a book (although that is a good skill to be learned). I want my children to love learning! I need my children to fully understand the world in which they live and the impact the Lord wants them to make in their own sphere of His creation.

The books, games, projects, and field trips we have before us can be used wonderfully in each of our learning endeavors. However, I want to be careful of how I am putting them to use. At the end of the day, if the only thing my kids did was push through a stack of paperwork so I can say we were productive, I have failed in my job. Getting through the books isn’t the goal! The goal is to teach my children, to reach their hearts, to minister to their souls, and to encourage a love of learning.

I need to make sure I am teaching my children and not merely the curriculum!

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

~ Isaiah 54:13

📢 Chime In!: Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a lesson and suddenly realized this is not working? How did you redirect your learning to be more productive for your children?

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Our Field Trip Survival Guide

Field-Trips

Who doesn’t like a good field trip? There’s nothing quite like fresh air, a change of scenery,  and a little exercise to rejuvenate your learning routine. While field trips can be a lot of fun, they will quickly turn into a frustrating mess when not planned properly. Join us as we share tips on how to make the most of any field trip and explore ideas for a smoother day.

When it comes to field trips, the last thing to pop into our minds is research. Usually, we just pick a day to get out of the house, pick a location to spend the day, hop in our cars, and take off! What usually results is a busy rush to get out the door, cranky kids wondering when we will arrive, and an overly full afternoon rushing around the exhibits, trying to get the most out of the trip before heading back home again.

What if we could make the day more simple? Wouldn’t the trip be much more enjoyable if we had a plan of attack and were better prepared? I think so! After planning field trips, both for myself and for larger groups, there are a few tips we’ve learned along the way.

While the bulk of our field trips revolve around some aspect of my children’s education, all excursions would be rather pointless if we left out one essential element… fun! This is time with our children, family, and/or friends. A day is not successful because we hit every point on the map and fulfilled our goals in the time estimated. We are successful when we have enjoyed our children’s presence and, hopefully, learned a little something along the way.

Go out and explore! Have a lot of fun and enjoy your children while they are young. It won’t last forever.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”
~ Job 12:7-10

📢 Chime In!: How much planning goes into your field trips?

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Investing In The Future

Investing_FutureAs home educators, we generally consider a wide variety of resources ‘learning material’. We purchase text books, reading books, rulers, pencils, microscopes, and more. We stock our cupboards full of art supplies and handy helps, which make our jobs easier and our kids lives more fun. None of these things is wrong; in fact, if you didn’t do this, I would be a little concerned. I just wonder if we haven’t overlooked a few additional areas of investment.

When was the last time we dug out our pans to teach our children how to bake? Might we buy candy molds to learn the art of being chocolatiers? Have you ever played with fondant? Do our children know how to sew, crochet, or knit? Are our kiddos interested in learning how to cross-stitch, play croquet, or shoot a bow and arrow?

To some, these items might all seem frivolous. After all, they aren’t essential in a standard learning experience. But one has to ask, why not?! Why aren’t these areas of learning a natural part of our children’s year?

Our children are all growing up. They each are expressing interest in various creative endeavors and we, as their parents, are doing our best to make this happen. New baking pans are miraculously popping up in our cupboards, candy molds are finding their way into our shopping carts, sewing kits have been created, and research is being done for group activities.

Some of our investments might be a bit more pricey; those will require patience and a dedicated savings allotment. Surprisingly, most are within reach and worth the nominal fee. Anything which will help our children better discover their gifts and further the path the Lord lays before them, is a must.

📢 Chime In!: What is the most unusual investment you’ve made for your children’s education?

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2015’s Top Attractions!

2015's_Top_Attractions

2015 is quickly coming to an end. Before kissing off the old year and tipping our hats to the new, let’s take a few moments to look back on all the fun we’ve had during the past twelve months.

Top Attractions of 2015

Making the Grade
You Can’t Shelter Your Children
10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Homeschooling
10 Ways to Fail As A Teacher
A Scary Trend

It’s been an awesome year getting to know so many of you and learning about how the Lord is working through your homeschooling. Thank you for sharing your tips, words of wisdom, and links with us! We love having you join us in the adventure of homeschooling, and can’t wait to see what the coming year will bring.

🔔Time to Chime In: We’d love to read your top attractions of 2015! List two of your favorite posts that you’d like us to share.

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Learning Lines

“I have never understood the importance of having children memorize battle dates. It seems like such a waste of mental energy. Instead, we could teach them important subjects such as How the Mind Works, How to Handle Finances, How to Invest Money for Financial Security, How to be a Parent, How to Create Good Relationships, and How to Create and Maintain Self-Esteem and Self-Worth. Can you imagine what a whole generation of adults would be like if they had been taught these subjects in school along with their regular curriculum?”
― Louise L. HayYou Can Heal Your Life

Learning LinesOne of our battles in homeschooling is determining how much of a traditional education our children should receive and how much education should be focused on thinking outside the box. Do we teach memorization because it’s always been done this way or because it’s necessary?

Honestly, I feel torn on this topic. On the one hand, there are certain
things which I highly encourage my children to memorize. The multiplication facts are extremely important, wouldn’t you agree? As a Christian, I cheer for my children when they memorize Scripture.

On the other hand, do they need to remember the date of every single battle during WWII or just the important dates? Will they honestly need to recall the capital of every state?

Perhaps this is where wisdom comes into play.

Each of our children has certain gifts unique to them. Within the realm of homeschooling, I have the privilege of watching their gifts develop and helping my children determine if they will carry over into adult life. Knowing what those gifts are and wanting to build learning around those possibilities, I then have the ability to determine which aspects of their education need more focus than others.

History in particular seems to be the thorn in everyone’s side. All those dates!! History is important, we cannot move forward if we have not learned from the past. However, unless our child plans to become an historian or an archeologist, are all those dates really necessary?

(My husband points out that dates are there to help us remember the order in which things occur and the general proximity of the event. True, true. I will not argue that the sequence of events shouldn’t be taught, I am merely questioning how many of those dates need be memorized.)

“But how do you know your child won’t become interested in that field in the future?”, you ask? I don’t and, frankly, I don’t know that it matters. Hear me out….

If I am teaching the fundamental principles behind major events (e.g. What brought about WWII, the course of events, the results of choices made, and the effects of the war) then the proper groundwork has already been laid. If, later in life, my child decides she no longer wants to be a rocket scientist and instead becomes an historian, the only thing left for my child to learn is the dates!

Do you see my point? If we are teaching the fundamentals (teaching them to see the situation, break it down to the bare roots, discuss the condition, and follow its path to the end), going back to memorize dates and other details should be a walk in the park.

I only have my children for a limited time. I can either spend hours on end drilling them to memorize things that will not carry over into their adult lives, or I can use that time to hone their skills in the areas which will most benefit their futures and encourage a love of learning.

Is memorization important? Definitely. Knowing exactly what they should memorize is a whole ‘nother ball game. Each family must determine that for themselves, through the wisdom and leading of God.

A note to my own kids… you still have to learn your times table. Sorry!

🔔Time to Chime In: How do you feel about memorization?

“Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you.”

– Proverbs 6:21-22

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The Well-Rounded Child

“Education helps you to be a well-rounded person, period. It teaches you how to take in information and data, process it, and use it for life building…”

~ Yolanda Adams

Well-Rounded_StudentI remember the days when being ‘well-rounded’ meant you were given an education which covered a wide base of learning, allowing you to be well-informed and well read. Now, it seems being ‘well-rounded’ has taken on an entirely new meaning. To be truly ‘well-rounded’ your child must excel. Not in merely one area of study, but all.

Have we stopped to consider how much pressure we are putting on our students by expecting them to excel in every area of study? It’s not enough that our children love writing and read voraciously. They must also take higher sciences and maths. Your child is an incredible student, but their education would not be complete without a rigorous sports program and several years of piano under their belt as well.

The problem is not in the exposure to such programs, activities, or courses. The issue lies in expecting our children to ace each and every one of them. We push our students to take these classes – foisting tests upon them at regular intervals – making sure they understand graduating from high school is quite impossible without them. We heap stress upon our children, all in the name of higher learning.

Why is this?

What if our children were able to tailor their learning toward personal goals? What if, instead of stressing over AP courses and unwanted sports programs, our students spent the bulk of their learning focusing on gifts, talents, and career plans?  I wonder what that would look like.

Now, before I start having stones thrown at my head or advertisements regarding my children’s lack of education start making the rounds over the internet, allow me to explain.

It’s not that these courses are bad or wrong. I took AP courses in high school and loved every minute of them. Some kids love sports. While others enjoy music. Neither am I saying our children should not be exposed to such areas of study. In fact, I would highly encourage all students be immersed in all programs of study.

Therein lies the difference.

I want to give our children the blessing of a well-rounded learning environment. We encourage them to pursue many areas of knowledge. We provide them the tools to continue their exploration. Then… we step back and see where the Lord leads.

Through the blessing of homeschooling, we start to see their gifts take shape and where the Lord might be directing their steps. We come alongside them, helping strengthen their weaknessesBut, we don’t heap unrealistic expectations on their shoulders.

Being well-rounded isn’t about being perfect in every area of study and being a major sports star. Being well-rounded means our children have been given thorough exposure in all areas of study and encouraged to continue learning always.

Do I expect my children to do their best? Absolutely! However, sometimes their best isn’t what other people think it ought to be, or even what a college thinks it ought to be. Their best is exactly that, their best.

Don’t settle for someone else’s definition of what a well-rounded child should look like. Ask the Lord what He wants of your children’s education and make their learning God centered. When Christ leads, you can’t go wrong!

🔔Time to Chime In: Give us your definition of a well-rounded student! Practically speaking, what would that look like?

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What YOUR Bible Lessons Might Be Missing!

bible_missingThey were sitting at the table, just as I asked. Our Bibles were open to the passage of the day. But, if you looked closely, you could tell something was a little off. The morning had been a rough start and hearts were hurt. We were making an attempt to put things to rights, but I could tell my children weren’t ready to receive. Then, the Lord spoke to my heart and showed me what our Bible lessons were missing…

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!

~ Psalm 95:6

Worship is the expression of reverence and adoration of God; an act (rite) that makes up the formal expression of respect. One act of worship is the lifting of voices before the Lord in song.

While we had been in the habit of going before the Lord each morning in prayer and reading through our daily passage, it occurred to me we weren’t always reading with a heart of worship, but reading out of habit. At times, reading quickly because we were running late. On hard days, reading even though the kids weren’t really receiving or ready to hear from the Lord at all.

The Lord reminded me of how often worshipping in song was a comfort to my own soul, softening my heart and opening my ears to hear His Word. If worshipping in song was a blessing to me, why wouldn’t my children also be blessed in this practice. It was time to make a change!

Now, worship is a daily part of our Bible lessons. At times we play our own instruments and sing songs commonly heard at church. Other days we listen to hymns on my device. When I’m feeling adventurous, we launch Pandora and see what the Lord blesses us with. No two days are the same; each day is a new blessing.

Through the addition of worship in song to our routine my children’s hearts more readily turn toward the Lord. The Lord uses this time to fill our home with peace, quiet, and rest. Our struggles seem less important and we are readied for hearing from the Word. Our Bible time has been magnified a hundred fold.

Isn’t it amazing how after many years of homeschooling you can still learn something new; the Lord shares new wisdom we had yet to receive? After ten years of homeschooling, it finally came to my attention that what our Bible time was missing was worship! Lifting our voices before the Lord, opening our hearts to receive from His Spirit and allowing the burdens of the morning to wash away.

Even in our homeschooling – especially in our homeschooling – may we constantly kneel before the Lord our God and worship.

🔔Time to Chime In: Does worship play a part in your homeschool day?

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