Category: Encouragement

The Recipe for Success

Aha! I bet that subject line roped you in, eh? We all want to achieve success – successful , godly children eh?   I’m learning that my initial thoughts and ideas on things are not always what is deeply in my heart. Over the years, I have been asking God to cleanse me, to reveal my heart that I may surrender it to Him. He has been showing me the darkness of my heart. This is scary on the one hand yet good on another because I know that it is because He loves me that He is doing this work.   We all know that there is no formula for guaranteed success with our children, right? Well, I believe that many of us deeply believe that there is a formula: 1 child +homeschool = Success I also believe that many of us believe there is a recipe for failure, and it looks like this: 1 child + school = Failure. Oh, I know that when we see it written so boldly like that we don’t agree that we think that way but…when it gets down to the heart of the matter… In my opinion, this is way to simple and basic and it is missing some key ingredients of which the main one is Relationships. I have met and had the pleasure of knowing a few Christian young...

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The Animal School (A parable)

The school for the animals An old story tells of the creation of a school for the animals. In this school, everybody took the same four courses: flying, swimming, climbing, and running. Among the students were a duck, a flying squirrel, a fox, and an elephant. These four were highly motivated, and wanted to get good grades, so they all tried very hard. The duck did fantastically well in swimming and flying, but he lagged behind his classmates in climbing and running, so focused special attention on those two subjects. However, his feet became so sore from trying to run and his wings were so bedraggled from trying to climb that by the end of the year he not only failed both those subjects, but made C’s in swimming and flying, which had once been his two best subjects. At the beginning of the school year, the squirrel was first in his class in climbing and running and was second only to the duck at flying. But as the months wore on, he missed so much school from catching pneumonia in his swimming class that he failed everything. To make matters even worse, because the squirrel constantly squirmed and chattered in class, and had difficulty paying attention, he was diagnosed with a learning disorder. The squirrel eventually was placed in remedial classes and had to be medicated in order...

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Laid-back Learning for Non-Readers (3)

Most of the learning my children have acquired over the years has come from their own self-initiated, independent reading. But what do you do while you're waiting for that magic moment of independence to arrive? You plot. Set up an environment that invites inquiry and discovery — even if a child can't read the fine print. I think the Montessori model comes closest to what I imagine, but her theory incorporates neatly organized stations for exploration strategically located about the room. It's at the "neatly organized" level that my model falls apart. I'm more of a "randomly scattered" kind of mom. "Yes, that science microscope you just tripped over in the center of the living room could very well have been intentionally placed there for your discovery, but I doubt it." Anyway, do fill up the environment wherever possible with interesting bits and pieces for discovery: National Geographic maps taped to the walls; aquariums, terrariums, cocoons; seedbeds for the spring garden; postcard art prints; lots of music; lots of paints; clay; beads and buttons for counting and sorting; puppets; a makeshift theater from a refrigerator box found in an alley way, etc. All these were part of the daily environment my children explored freely when young. The Purpose of Structured Learning The first goal of structured learning should be to teach a child to read. But the purpose of...

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More Lazy, Carefree Days (2)

by Debra Bell Seems many of us are struggling with the tension between cracking the books with our kids and making time for the laid-back days of childhood. I heard from a record number of readers who appreciated the sentiment of last week's article. But I got a lot of questions, too. Here are my comments to a couple of them. Question: How do we strike a balance (assuming there is one) between "carefree" and "not making any progress"? My fourth-grader has never even seen a multiplication problem. (Too much changing of curriculum on my part) I'm quite burned out on planning my own curriculum, but this kid's curiosity and love for learning would be crushed under a stack of textbooks or paces. He LOVES to read! Answer: As per your guilt: That's definitely a tension I feel as well. I think it is a matter of balance. I do try to have math on a consistent basis during elementary grades — but on average it is often only three times a week. We were involved with Math Olympiad and Math Count competition, which my kids loved and still mention as a key reason they've scored well on their college boards in math. We also used a very inexpensive but powerful little series called Figure It Out (available from pahomeschoolers.com) to learn how to solve multi-step word problems strategically....

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Those Lazy, Carefree Days (1)

Debra Bell Right now, the school days of our three teens consists largely of challenging courses; such as,  pre-calculus, French III, molecular biology, advanced placement history. For the most part, they are cracking the books from early in the morning to sometimes late at night. College-level texts, highlighted extensively; notebooks scrawled with study notes and lengthy math problems; graphing calculators, reams of analytical essays-in-progress, stacks of lecture videos: the evidences of their learning are scattered about almost every room of our house. How do they stay motivated and focused (for the most part) and not buckle under pressure nor revolt? Let me roll back the clock for you. Here’s what the early elementary days looked like at our house… Flashback Leisurely mornings; frequent field trips to nature parks, museums, and science centers; long afternoons curled up in a favorite chair with a book; uninterrupted time for puppet shows, imaginative play and art projects. Lots of trips to the library, lots of time for thinking, lots of time in the backyard. In short, I believe the prolonged season of carefree, open-ended learning when our children were young laid the foundation for diligent and directed studies during high school. Why? Because they weren’t burned out by years and years of formalized, structured learning already. When it came time to confine much of the day to seatwork, to evaluate learning with tests...

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Discipleship in our Home

Why did you start homeschooling?  For us, it was a desire to be the main influence in our children’s lives.  We reasoned that if we were to influence them we needed to spend time with them, in fact we needed to spend more time than anyone else.  We believe strongly that the people you hang around with will affect your life.   During the ten years since we began homeschooling we have learnt a lot about what it means to have our children home.  We have tried doing school in the traditional sense and I found the biggest problem with that was that I became task orientated – I needed to teach this lesson, and read this book, and do this activity.   Though you may achieve a lot when you are task orientated at what cost?  The cost for us was relationship.  When I become relationship focused I create the atmosphere and give myself the time necessary to reach my children’s hearts – to influence them.   The model of learning that is based on relationships is called discipleship.  Discipleship is where the teacher models their life, their beliefs, habits and skills to their disciples.  In the family this is when the parents model these things to their children.  To disciple our children means to invite them into your life, to let them participate in your life and for...

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Ten Compelling Reasons to Keep Homeschooling

1. Home is where you can optimize and personalize your children’s education. One size does not fit all when it comes to learning (or much of anything else, for that matter). Homeschooling enables you to search out the best materials and methods for providing your children with an excellent education.   2. Home is where you can immerse your children in the values you consider most important, where you can immunize them against the emotional and spiritual dysfunction that afflicts a large portion of the adult population today. 3. Home is where your children will be guarded against the negatives of drugs, alcohol, peer dependency, and the many other ills spawned by the institutionalization of children by the state, where they’ll find the nurture and examples necessary to grow into leaders, not followers. 4. Home is where your children will be protected from the many special interests that use state schools as a means to access children. 5. Home is where your children will learn true socialization – where there will be no generation gap, where your children will learn the difference between tolerance and respect and kindness, where selflessness and altruism will meet with real life opportunities for practice, where the foundation for a strong marriage will be laid, where good communications skills will be developed. 6. Home is where your children can be free to soar in...

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Mum takes a bath (humour)

   Dear Kids, Don't be alarmed, the world isn't coming to an end. I am simply taking a bath. It will take about thirty minutes and will involve soap and water. Yes, I know how to swim. Even if I didn't, forcing myself to drown in a half-inch of lukewarm water is more work than I've got energy for. (Which reminds me, I'm all for science projects, but the next time you want to see if Play-Doh floats, use cold water.) Don't panic if I'm not out right on time. I've heard that people don't dissolve in water and I'd like to test the theory. While I'm in the tub, I'd like you to remember a few things. The large slab of wood between us is called a door. Do not bang to hear my voice. I promise that even though you can't see me, I *am* on the other side. I'm not digging an escape tunnel and running for the border,no matter what I said a while ago. I didn't mean it. Honest. There will be plenty of time later to tell me about your day. "Later" means at a time when I am no longer naked, wet, and contemplating bubble gum in the blow dryer. I know you have important things to tell me. Please let one of them be that you have invented anew way to...

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Save yourself some agony – a few thoughts

Learn from a self confessed idiot. Release yourself from trying to raise perfect kids just like yourself. Do your best – it will be good enough. Other parents whose kids are going nuts, did their best too. Some kids are just born difficult and some are born compliant. I have one of each. It happens. It’s not your fault. Love yourself and don’t try to keep the kids approval. Approving of yourself is enough. Continue reading

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What If Your Child Wants to Go to School?

What If Your Child Wants to Go to School? Advice From the Experts from Homeschool.com  In this issue… Q: What Should You Do If Your Child Wants To Go To School? A: We've asked the following homeschooling experts and authors for their advice (in alphabetical order): * David Albert * Susan Wise Bauer * Dr. Matt James * Pat Farenga * Diane Flynn Keith * Rebecca Kochenderfer * Marilyn Mosley * Win & Bill Sweet   Advice from David Albert David H. Albert is a father, author, homeschooling speaker, and magazine columnist. His latest book is "Have Fun. Learn Stuff. Grow – Homeschooling and the Curriculum of Love."  His website is www.skylarksings.com. "When they were young, I didn't let the kids touch the stove, run out in the street, or sample items from the medicine cabinet. I'll grant it is possible they might have learned from each of these experiences, but I didn't want to find out. There were also things I didn't let them eat. It is possible they might have liked them, or seen other kids enjoying them, but I didn't want to deal with the bellyache in the morning, or the longer-term consequences of poor eating habits. I am, after all, the parent, and I get to make those decisions, based on my own experience and insight, both characteristics which I think it is unreasonable to...

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Good Mom, Bad Mom

Good Mom, Bad Mom by Lydia Bower Have you ever had someone say to you, “You're such a good mom,” and while you smile and say, “Thanks,” inside you think, but, if she really knew me, she wouldn't think so? If she had seen me this evening when I petered out, or yesterday when I didn't plan dinner, or last week when we didn't do school because everyone was sick, or the mess my house was in this morning. If she knew I wasn't perfect, she wouldn't say that. Well, of course we know that nobody is perfect, but why do we so often measure ourselves against a perfect standard? And why, so many times do we feel like “bad moms?” I think there are several reasons, which often begin with this line of reasoning: * Good moms put their kids to bed at the same time every night. * Good moms do devotions every day. * Good moms have weekly/monthly menu plans, a regular shopping day, a stocked pantry, and family style, on-time meals. * Good moms give their children baths every day, or at the very least every-other day. * Good moms read out loud to their children. * Good moms don't let their children eat sweets. * Good moms wear their baby in a sling. Now, each mom's mental list is different, depending on how she...

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Why My Way is the Only Godly Way

Why My Way is the Only Godly Way Jenefer Igarashi, Senior Editor, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine If I could have only 30 minutes of your time, I could show you scripture and biblical principles that would convince you that the only godly way to plan your family dinners, is to go strictly vegetarian. Then we should talk about modesty. I know everything there is to know about modesty on account of a book that I read at last year's Ladies Church Retreat. We should talk about it, because if you haven't read this book, then you have no idea how ungodly you probably are. Then I need to stress the importance of family planning. I can show you (in a matter of three verses from the Old Testament) that if you are not trying to have as many children as humanly possible, then you are not trusting God, and therefore could not be near as godly as someone who requires two, full-sized school buses to get their family to church. And did you know…Courtship is far better than betrothal? Er….I mean, no, it's the other way….Betrothal is the way to go or your children will certainly end up divorced. Did you know that? You probably need the tape series on it. — It's eluded to in Scripture someplace. But before that, I should definitely talk to you about that...

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