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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Curriculum 101: Music

Curriculum101One of the biggest struggles homeschooling families battle is which curriculum is best for their children. We become overwhelmed by the amount of curriculum available, struggle to find the right fit for each of our children, proceed to doubt each choice made for at least the first several weeks, and continue to search for new ways of teaching well after we’ve already begun our year.

To this end, we thought we’d spend the month of September launching discussions on all things curriculum.

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“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”

~ Plato

Music is incredible. It’s fun, entertaining, and memorable. That is, until you force your children to sit down at a set of drums or that baby grand filling the front room for a determined amount of time each day. There’s something about the forced practice of lessons that steals the joy of the melody.

Unfortunately, if your older children plan to gain credit for courses in music or you simply wish your children to progress at a certain pace, dedicated lesson time seems inevitable. What’s a homeschool parent to do?

We’d love to hear how you teach music, and have a few questions we’d like to pose:

  • Do you have a portion of your day dedicated to music lessons?
  • How much time are your children required to practice?
  • Is there a particular curriculum you are working through?
  • Do your children learn music by rote, ear, or reading?
  • Do you force your children to take music, despite their objections, or are they free to dismiss lessons should they dislike the practice?
  • Do you play an instrument yourself?
  • Do you teach your children or do they have a private instructor?

Our children love music. Until we force them to sit at the piano for certain lengths of time each day. Right now, we’re trying to find a balance between only playing when they want to play and playing just because they have to practice. Prayerfully we’ll find middle ground. In the meantime, we’d love to hear more about your music lessons. How is the Lord leading in this area in your own homes and what has He been teaching through this incredible time of discovery?

🔔Now, it’s your turn!! Share your thoughts on the above questions and let us hear from you. We’d love your feedback and appreciate those links you’ve been sharing!

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Tickling the Ivories

Piano (1/3)Well; it decided to call it quits. It wasn’t even that old, mind you. That is the problem with technology; it might be handy, but it sure is delicate. It doesn’t matter if you’re especially careful or not; one good electronic surge and your device will call it quits. This, it seems, is what happened to our practically new keyboard. Rrrrr….

We are very adamant our children should learn to play piano. I don’t necessarily intend for our kiddos to be professionals or anything, but playing an instrument is good for the mind and encourages the arts. So, it looked like some research needed to be done.

At first, I thought we were just looking to invest in another keyboard. They’re little, they fit in the closet, and they come with all sorts of neat features. My husband, however, had other ideas. He thought we needed the real deal; a piano.

After weeks of searching online, we finally found one we liked and was a good price. Unfortunately, someone snatched it up just moments before we could. Luckily, another one came along quite quickly and we jumped at the opportunity.

Piano (2/3)

Now… we have an early twentieth century, upright, mahogany piano sitting in our front room. It’s big, but it’s beautiful. Surprisingly, it didn’t cost all that much (we bought it from a gentleman looking to get rid of it) and it sounds lovely. Sure, it needs a little tuning, but that’s to be expected.

Why the real deal instead of another keyboard? Several reasons really. I think my guy likes the look of a real piano, first off. There is something nice about this instrument dominating its space. I also think he was just tired of replacing poorly made electronic gadgets put together in a rush.

While I was a little nervous at first, I have to say I like it! Before, my kids had to pull their keyboard out of the closet to practice daily. (I couldn’t see putting that technological machine out on display.) Now, they are free to practice any time they like; they stop frequently and play a few songs. It’s quite nice.

Don’t get me wrong. Keyboards are nice too! They have recording capabilities and sound diversity pianos don’t have. If you buy a really snazzy one, like our first one, it will even have built-in melodies and a note identifier. Keyboards are pretty handy.

Piano (3/3)My man and I are enjoying the learning experiences we’re being exposed to. Instead of paying a professional to tune our piano, we’re learning how to do it ourselves! We’re discovering new ways to clean, restore, and replace parts, when the time comes. There is so much to learn and all of it fascinating.

I certainly didn’t see this curve ball coming, especially not mid-learning year, but it is a welcome change.  Now, if only things would stop falling apart.

Which do you prefer; the real deal or the electronic keyboard?

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.” – Psalm 100:1

Hark, How the Bells

Dutch and Bell

Our pup, Dutch, when we first brought him home. He couldn’t resist these little bells hung all over the tree.

I didn’t realize, until today, that some of the things I love about Christmas are the sounds of the season.

Even now, I can hear my kids playing in their room, with jingle bells tinkling from their strings of yarn. I can hear the music playing on our Nutcracker music box, while my girls dance across the tile floors to the melody. My son is fascinated by the Snoopy doll playing the theme from It’s Christmas Again, Charlie Brown. 

This afternoon, the family headed out to run an errand. My husband chose our music selection for the drive and wanted to listen to nothing but Silent Night, his favorite song of all time. We must have 10 different artists rendition of the song.

Sitting down to the table this morning for some learning, we were surrounded by Christmas melodies and a chorus from their bell necklaces. Every time one of the kids needed to get up for something they made sure to rub against the tree, setting off the numerous bells attached to branches.

The season seems all too short and so we are taking advantage of every opportunity to soak up the melodious strains of holiday noise.

What is your favorite sound of the season?

The Old Piano Roll Blues

My husband very much wanted our kids to learn piano. Unfortunately our budget couldn’t afford sending four children to piano lessons. I was also a little hesitant to add another outside activity to our list. My guy, very sweetly, suggested that I was “smart enough to do this on my own”. Off I went to conquer the unknown…

I knew how to read music, as I had played flute for several years and sang in high school, but knowing how that relates to a piano is entirely different. I needed a program that would start off with the very basics.

Teaching Little Fingers To Play by John Thompson worked wonders! This curriculum started with the most basic instructions of all; finger placement, hand position, and posture. From there, the children learned to identify basic notes on the piano and to play them, first with the right hand and then with the left. Once the notes and their corresponding keys were learned, songs were introduced. I found that I liked this curriculum for getting started and for teaching them the basics.

John Thompson’s curriculum goes far beyond Teaching Little Fingers To Play; there is also Modern Course for Piano. For those interested, they also have music for Christmas, Disney fans, and more!

Joining the ISP we are apart of now, I noticed that several of the other kids were taking piano lessons. Their progress was quickly achieved and they played more advanced pieces than our children had been exposed to. I asked around and was told that all of the other kids were taking lessons using the Suzuki Method of piano. I was highly impressed with the program and wanted to try it out for ourselves.

We still were not able to afford classes, but having already learned the basics from Teaching Little Fingers to Play, I felt confident that we would pick things up with this new curriculum. I was right! Our kids took to it immediately.

I appreciate that the Suzuki Method teaches children to focus on playing the music by ear and not relying on the sheet music itself. I also appreciated that the curriculum came with a CD so that we could listen to the pieces as our children played, teaching them to keep time and play along with someone else.

So far, we are more than halfway done with Book #1 and going strong. The kids are loving the program and enjoy learning new songs. I am loving the fact that we are learning without having to leave the house, spending time and money we don’t have. I enjoy the Suzuki Method greatly, but I am very glad we started off with Teaching Little Fingers to Play first. I believe it gave us a strong foundation for what we are now learning.

Do you have a piano lesson you do from home? I always love learning about new curriculum and would love to hear what you use!