Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Spoiled! (And Something You Can Do About It)

It's already happening...

October is not even over yet, and my mailbox is filled with...

"Holiday Catalogs"!

How is a mom to help her children to understand...

being content with what you have,

giving to others, and most importantly,

the real meaning of Christmas

when the retail machine jumps the gun on me like this???

You might be saying, "Come on, Tiana, you don't seem like an idiot. Don't you know any better? Couldn't you see this coming?"

And, the truth is, I do know better...for the most part. We don't get many catalogs at this house anymore. I've done my best to get our family off of the most annoying and offensive mailing lists. The majority of what's left finds the trash can before any little hands can get to it. But, the Fleet Farm Toyland catalog--that presumably innocent tool to help Grandma and Grandpa know what the children would like for Christmas--Oh! It is the bane of my existence these days! I'll think I have hidden it where little eyes couldn't possibly find it...and then it comes back again! I keep telling myself that, when they are asleep, I'm going to pitch it. Of course, I never get around to it, and so, I find myself doing my best to appropriately parent my way through a chorus of...

"Mom, could I have...?"

"Mom, look at this...!"

"Isn't this cool...?"

"I really like this one...!"

"Don't you think Grandma would...?"

"Now, THIS is what I REALLY want!"

Good grief!! Have I really raised my children to be this materialistic? I'd like to think that we're a frugal family, but even with the level of consumer restraint we exercise, my children are still...spoiled. Ouch.

"What should we do, honey?" I lament to my husband. "How can we get them to stop thinking they're deprived and start to realize just how blessed they are?"

He suggested that we volunteer as a family at the Salvation Army Christmas Castle. Great idea...but that happens, like, 1-2 weeks before Christmas...and I need something we can do now.

So, yesterday, yet another catalog arrives in the mail--but this one is different, and it stops me in my tracks.

Many of you are probably familiar with the ministry of Samaritan's Purse, a compassion ministry to needy and lost people throughout the world, headed by Billy Graham's son, Franklin Graham.

Through our AWANA program at church, we have participated in Operation Christmas Child for the past several years, preparing a shoe box full of school supplies, hygiene items, and toys for a child in another country who otherwise would not receive any Christmas presents.

I had already made up my mind that, this year, in addition to donating items to the "group box" for each of their AWANA teams, that we would make two boxes from our family--one for a boy about Asher's age, and one for a girl about Acacia's age. Because it is from our family, the kids can draw pictures, we can write letters, and include a photograph of our family in the box.

There is one cool new thing available this year: If you make your shoe box donation online through EZ Give instead of in the box, you can track your box online, and find out exactly what country your box went to! You will also receive information on the ministries that Samaritan's Purse conducts in that country!

Okay, so back to the catalog. I think this is finally the resource I've been looking for, to help my children get outside themselves and think about others who do not have the abundance that we do.

Samaritan's Purse offers us the unique opportunity to give tangible, real, life-changing gifts to needy families across the globe. Here are just a few examples of the kinds of gifts you and your family can give together:

  • A week's worth of hot meals for a hungry child: $7
  • One month of safe, loving care for an orphan: $35
  • Rescue a child from bondage and abuse: $75
  • Seeds, tools, and training for a subsistence farm family: $45
  • A mosquito net to prevent a child from malaria: $10
  • One dozen baby chicks, that can be raised to provide eggs: $14
  • Family Survival Kit for victims of a natural disaster: $45
  • Provide one month of care for AIDS orphans and widows: $45
  • A water filter to provide clean, safe water for one family: $100
  • Bible school education for Sudanese pastors: $25
  • Copies of the New Testament for 10 children: $40
See what I mean by "life-changing"?! Most of us would spend at least this kind of money--and probably a lot more--on toys and gadgets for our kids for Christmas. If you're like us, your kids probably have a slew of grandparents, aunts, and uncles who also shower them with presents. If we want any kind of hope that our children will survive this self-centered age we live in with their compassion intact, we must provide them meaningful opportunities for real giving.

So, here's my challenge to you:
  1. Visit and follow the links to their Gift Catalog. There is an online interactive catalog with video clips, as well as a PDF version of the print catalog. If you would like to receive a print catalog in the mail, call 1-800-353-5957
  2. Spend some time talking as a family about the different giving opportunities available. Prayerfully decide as a family what you would like to give. You might consider getting together with another family, or with grandparents, to give one of the more costly gifts.
  3. Another option would be to pack a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child. Remember, if you make your donation online, you can follow your shoe box and learn about the ministry of Samaritan's Purse in that country!
  4. Post a comment here saying that you plan to participate. When you're finished, post a comment again telling what you did. If you will email me your story and maybe a picture or two at, I may post it on my blog.
  5. If you are a blogger, would you please let your readers know about this challenge and link here? My goal is to see at least 100 families participating in this challenge! I would encourage you to post about your giving experience with your kids on your blog as well. If you do, post a link here and I will be sure to leave a "Thank-You" comment on your blog.
  6. I'm working on a "button" for this challenge--as soon as I have a chance to talk to my favorite technology guru, Andy Traub--so stay tuned!
Thanks in advance for participating...and happy giving!!

"He will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy." Psalm 72:4a(NIV)

"You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuse for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm." Isaiah 25:4a (NIV)

"He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing." Deuteronomy 10:18(NKJV)

"We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, His power, and the wonders He has done." Psalm 78:4b(NIV)
Sunday, October 25, 2009


It has been one of those weeks.

It has been a week of half-completed projects, sidetracked thinking, discouragement, and questioning my abilities as a mother. I haven't spent nearly enough time outdoors, and have spent way too much time on the computer. My children took a couple of opportunities to royally embarrass me in public. The house is a mess. I love my babies dearly, but I haven't done a great job of showing it.

Where is the disconnect? What happened? A week ago Sunday, I was feeling so encouraged--so inspired! I had the chance to sit under some amazing teaching at church, and it was so timely and so applicable, that I felt like I could take on the world! So, what went wrong?

If I am honest about it, I admit that I have been "tuned in" to the wrong things. I have been paying attention to the noise--the radio, and especially the internet--and not paying attention to the LORD and His Word as I should. How will I ever accomplish what He has set before me to do in this life if I am not immersed in the Scriptures and Prayer?

I tell myself that I don't have time to spend alone with Him...but it's just a lie. I seem to be perfectly capable of justifying the time I spend alone on the computer while the children play by themselves. There's no good reason for me not to seek to be in God's Holy Presence.

So here I am, at 5am on Sunday morning, alone in the dark. I am about to turn the computer off. Short of an emergency, I will not turn it back on again today. I am about to take a shower and spend some time alone in prayer. I will go to church with my family in a few hours. I will encourage my children to take a Sunday afternoon nap, so that we can observe the Sabbath Rest. I will attempt to do what my pastor suggested last Sunday, and start writing in a prayer journal again. I am unplugging from cyberspace, and plugging back into my Creator.

Perhaps, after unplugging for a day (or two), I will be more capable of keeping things in their proper perspective. Perhaps I will be a better mother, a better wife, and a better homemaker. Most importantly, perhaps I will be a more fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.

"I am the vine, you are the branches;
he who abides in me and I in him, he bears much fruit,
for apart from me you can do nothing."
John 15:5
Monday, October 19, 2009

"Being Equipped" and the Will of God

"Trust in the LORD and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him and He will do it."
Psalm 37:3-5

I have been amazed and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of positive feedback I have received for last week's post. I had prepared myself for the likely-hood that I would receive a lot of criticism for what I had written. Instead, I learned that there are many more like-minded parents out there than I had imagined. What a blessing it is to be among friends. Thank-you!

I have had a couple people share with me a concern, that I wish to address here today. Some people worry that, with all the voices out there calling for Christians to remove their children from government schools (mine not being nearly the loudest nor most influential, of course), that some people who are "ill-equipped" or "not committed to homeschooling" may feel obligated to do so, and do damage by (a) not being good enough teachers for their children and (b) giving the rest of us home educating families a bad reputation. While I can see where this concern is coming from, I think it is a worry that can be easily put to rest.

First off, I have little concern that people who are "not committed to homeschooling" will try it. People are skilled masters at justifying their own actions. If they really don't want to do it, they aren't going to be guilted into trying it by me, Voddie Baucham, or anyone else for that matter. Again, let me reiterate that, for many Christians, a quality Christian school will be the right avenue for providing a Christ-centered education for their children. If parents are convicted by the LORD that they ought remove their children from the public schools, but are not wanting to educate their children at home, a private Christian school is a valid and worthy alternative.

So, Why am I not wringing my hands over the possibility that well-meaning parents may leap head-long into homeschooling without really knowing what they are getting into? For one powerful, and profound reason:

If God convicts a believer's heart and leads him or her to act in obedience to His Word, He will provide the resources to bring it to pass. Do the Scriptures not teach us this?

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness." 2 Peter 1:3

Do we not believe that when we "Trust in the LORD and do good"...when we "Commit our way to the LORD" that he will honor our obedience? Indeed, many times in my life I have found that my ability to obey comes only after my willingness to obey. As I step out in faith, and act on what I know to be true from the Word of God, He teaches me what I need to know. He provides the resources, the people, and the stamina I need to accomplish what He has set before me.

Remember Noah? Did God say, "You know, there's a big flood coming. It's going to destroy all life on earth. If I were you, I'd think of!" Of course not! He gave Noah specific instructions as to how to build the Ark, and provided the resources he needed to do the job--measurements, material specifications, brain power, man power (read: three strong sons), and a packing list. When it came time to fill the boat with animals, he didn't have to wander the fields and forests and gather the animals himself--they came right to the door of the Ark, two by two. God gave the command and the resources to obey. Noah acted in faith.

"And without faith, it is impossible to please Him,
For he who comes to God must believe that He is
and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen,
in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household,
by which he condemned the world,
and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith."
Hebrews 11:6-7

There is a misunderstanding, I think, about what it means to be "equipped" to educate a child. No doubt, this misunderstanding stems from the profound control the government-run educational establishment has over the argument. We have been conditioned to believe that anyone that teaches children ought have at least a college degree--probably a teaching degree!--and should have a similar personality style and skill set to the typical classroom teacher.

I completely disagree with this line of logic. I have actually argued the point that our government schools would be in better shape if we would lose the teaching-degree requirement nonsense and start hiring teachers based on their understanding of the subject matter and their ability to communicate it to the students. There are plenty of people out there with teaching degrees who are lousy teachers--and there are plenty of people out there who would make excellent teachers who cannot be hired by schools because they do not possess that ever-important teaching degree.

But I digress...

I have seen many parents--from many walks of life--become successful at  homeschooling.

  • People who are wealthy by the world's standards, and people who are quite poor compared to other Americans, 
  • People who are mature in their faith, as well as newer believers who see the way that they educate their children as one more thing about their life that needs to change because of Christ,
  • Former classroom teachers, yes...but also factory workers, farmers, carpenters, ballerinas, truck drivers, nurses, accountants, waitresses, librarians, physical therapists, pastors, midwives and mail carriers. Homemakers who have no formal education beyond high school are often the most qualified people to teach their own children--and the vast majority of them do an excellent job of it.
While there will always be "bad parents" who homeschool (just as there are "bad parents" who send their children to government schools, and "bad teachers" in those schools), I think there is little concern that people who are removing their children from the government schools to give their children a Christian education will do damage to their children. In most cases, if these people had their children do nothing but read the Bible and play outside for their first full year of homeschooling, they would be better off then if they had left them in the public schools. That being said, if you are concerned that there are people within your circle of influence who are jumping head-long into homeschooling without much forethought, there are a few things that you can do:
  • Invite them to join your co-op. If you don't have one, start one. A good co-op of Christian home educators is one of the most excellent resources for a new home educating family. I have been immeasurably blessed by mine. It has allowed me to connect with other like-minded moms, to learn from their successes and mistakes and to grow in my abilities as a mother and educator far beyond what I could have done on my own. It has also helped to answer the dreaded, "What about socialization?" question when asked by concerned friends and family members. We get together with other families from our co-op at least once a week--more than that when you count Sunday School, AWANA on Wednesday nights, our nature club, and various other field trips that we participate in as a group. The "everybody's doing it" argument can be surprisingly powerful when taken from the other angle. "Why, so many of his friends are also homeschooled! If I sent him to the public school, he wouldn't know anyone!"
  • Become a Mentor and Friend. Titus 2:3-5 commands older women to teach younger women how to be godly wives, mothers, and homemakers. You may be in your 20s or 30s and not feel in any way "old", but if you've been successfully home educating for any length of time, you qualify as a mentor to a mother who is new to the concept. When my eldest was three years old, a woman from my church whose home-educated children were all over the age of 11 instituted a "girlfriend lunch" at her house every other Friday. Several homeschooling moms would come over and bring a light dish to pass. The kids would play in the basement or the backyard, and we would talk about the issues we were facing as wives, mothers, teachers, and children of God. I learned so much from these conversations, and was strengthened in my resolve to "love [my] husband, love [my] children, to be sensible, pure, [a]worker at home, kind, being subject to [my] own husband, so that the word of God will not be dishonored." (Titus 2:4-5)  What a blessing! How could you do something similar for those within your circle of influence?
  • Share Resources. Solomon warned that, "Of the making of books there is no end," in Ecclesiastes 12:12. This is notably true of homeschooling curriculum. The vast array of available choices for home educators can be dizzying. One of the most compassionate thing you can do for a new home educator is to allow her to look through your materials, so that she can see what is working for you before she spends a lot of money. Pointing her toward resources that are available for free at the library or over the internet is another way to be helpful. Offer to look through your favorite curriculum catalog with her, and point out what you like and why you like it. If you need a good starting place, check out the Elijah Company Resource Guide. A dear friend handed me a copy of this inexpensive gem when I was first starting out, and I've yet to find a better primer for the beginning home educator. It discusses a basic philosophy of homeschooling, introduces each major "style" of home education, and recommends the "cream" of available books and resources.  The Elijah Company no longer sells curriculum themselves, but their guide is a useful tool to help a parent navigate the endless curriculum listings on Homeschool Classifieds, Rainbow Resource, or Christian Book Distributors.
  • Pray for them. Maybe this should be obvious, but it is often overlooked. As a home educating mother, I welcome all the prayers I can get. My job and my calling are not easy ones--especially in a day and age where motherhood and the domestic arts are spit upon in some circles and all but forgotten in others. So, pray for the parents who are being led by the Holy Spirit to remove their children from government schools. As James 5:16-18 states,
"The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
Elijah was a man, with a nature like ours,
and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain,
and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.
Then he prayed again,
and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit."

Let us pray that the LORD will pour down his Spirit upon those who are being called to educate their children at home, and that their obedient labor will produce abundant fruit in the lives of their children.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How Doing Something "Good" Can Keep You From Obeying

"Samuel said, "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams." I Samuel 15:22

  • I woke up at 6am to write this blog post...and spent 45 minutes reading and answering emails.
  • I have been convicted that I need to shed one of my volunteer activities so as to be able to focus my time and energy on God's current calling on my life...but I keep putting it off.
  • A friend shared recently that her boys were so busy doing the dishes that when she said, "We need to leave for the grocery store, now"...they used the "good" of doing dishes as a reason to not obey.

I'm sure you can think of plenty of examples in your own life. We're all guilty of doing "good" things in the name of serving God, while at the same time neglecting to obey his Word.

Recently, I have been chastised by some Christian friends for speaking about home education in a way that is "offensive" to those who have chosen to send their children to public schools. After all, they say,  the education children are receiving in public schools is just as good as what you are providing at home, you can't keep your kids sheltered from the world forever, and any decision you make prayerfully about educating your children can be the right one for your family.

I used to believe this. I really did. I even said it a few times.

I was wrong.

I have been reading the writings of Dr. Voddie Baucham, Jr. and listening to some of his sermons (I love high speed internet!). He has convinced me that the Scriptures have a very clear teaching on what education for Christian families should be--and government schools are not in that picture.

Let me clarify my statements by saying that I don't condemn those of you who have chosen to send your children to public schools in the past or in the present. Government run education has become so ubiquitous--so normal--and home education so different--so counter-cultural--that it can be truly difficult to take what the Bible says about education at face value. That being said, I would encourage you to search the Scriptures on this issue. 

I would also encourage you to read the following blog posts by Dr. Baucham:

Additionally, I would like to point out that a quality Christian school can also provide the kind of education deemed appropriate by Scripture. Private schools can be expensive, though, and each private school ought be carefully evaluated on its own merits. We chose home education because it is easier and less expensive for me to give our children a Christian education than it would be if we sent our children to the local Christian school.

So what kind of education is commanded in Scripture?

A Christian Education. Voddie Baucham summarizes it well:
"I am commanded to bring my children up in the nurture and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4), and to do so by teaching them God’s statutes when I sit in my house, when I lie down, when I rise up, and when I walk along the way (Deut. 6:7).  I am also admonished not to place myself, or by extension my children, under false teaching (Col. 2:8), or to expose them to teaching that undermines God’s Law (Matt. 5:17-20).  Instead, I must teach them to “take every thought captive” (2 Cor. 10:5), to refuse to be “conformed to the pattern of this world” (Rom. 12:2), and meditate on God’s Law day and night (Ps. 1:2)."
I am amazed by how many Christians see government schools as the "default" when it comes to providing education for their children. Even more alarming is how many will use their faith as a justification for it. 

  • "Our children need to be 'lights' in a fallen world." I'm sorry, but my five year old, as much as he loves God, is not a light--he is a sponge. Give him 15 minutes with a "questionable" television program--No, 30 seconds with a beer ad during a football game!--and he will have absorbed it. Public schools can be a great mission field for a spiritually mature adult, but they are no place for a young, impressionable child. Luke 6:40 states, "A pupil is not above his teacher, but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher." Who do I want my children to be like when they grow up? What do I want them to become? If I want them to be like Christ, then I must provide them a Christian education. Then, they will they be prepared to be lights in a fallen world! A couple hours on Sunday morning is not doing it for our kids. An alarming 75-90% of the church's teenagers are "graduating from God" when they graduate from high school. They are walking away from their faith. Some 85-90% of Christian parents send their kids to government schools. Coincidence?
  • "But, our schools are different!" The Beach Boys sang, "Be true to your school, just like you would to your girl." Public service campaigns have been pretty successful in getting people to believe that their schools are great and their teachers are all top-notch. Sure, maybe other schools are failing, but ours are wonderful. Even if they are academically stellar, your public school is not providing a Christ-centered education. Many Christians will also point out that there are Christian teachers at their child's school. This may be true, and I am happy that there are godly men and women stepping into this mission field every day. I am friends with several Christians who are also public school teachers, and their job is not an easy one. Nonetheless, no matter how godly and mature these believers are, they will not have a job for long if they start teaching from a Christian perspective. The foundational truths of the Bible--that God created us and loves us, that we are sinners in need of salvation--are necessarily absent from a government education. It is the responsibility of the public school system to provide a secular humanist education. When I remember that my primary responsibility in educating my children is to train them up in the knowledge of God, the decision about where and how to "school" them becomes more obvious.
  • "We don't want non-Christians to believe that we think we are better than they are." It's pretty easy to get involved in a whose kids are better-smarter-more advanced kind of argument in an effort to justify our own choices. Arguments like this tend to miss the point, though. People can think all sorts of things. It is my responsibility to teach my children in a manner in accordance with the Scriptures.
  • "But, what about socialization???" I've heard this argument for public schools over and over again, and it's a red herring. School is not supposed to be about socialization--it is supposed to be about education. For every story you can site about "socially awkward" kids who were homeschooled, I can site three stories of children whose ability to learn and develop to their full potential was negatively impacted by peer pressure, bullying, rude and uncaring teachers, and the like. The biblical model for socialization has always been the family and the faith community/church. The only example of the peer socialization model in the Bible is in the book of Daniel. In this case, the finest of the young Hebrew men were removed from their homes and families and were trained in the literature and customs of the Babylonians. (See Daniel 1:3-5) This was a blatant attempt by the government to rid the youth of their Hebrew customs and faith in YHWH. While we can admire and be inspired by the four young men who clung to the LORD and refused to conform to the Babylonian ways, we must remember that there were many, many more young Hebrew men who were part of this group. Of all of them, only four retained their faith and trust in God--Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Still think that peer socialization in a secular school is the best choice for your kids?

So, what does all this have to do with obedience?

I think many American Christians--the vast majority of us--have allowed ourselves to be deceived about government-run education for a long time. We've looked at the perceived "good" of our schools--whether it be academic, social, or evangelistic in nature--and ignored what the Scriptures have to say about education. There's a good chance that you will read this, be angry at me, or think that I am crazy. I'm okay with that. However, maybe, some of you, for the first time are being challenged to think differently about school and what it means for your kids and your family. If so, then I've done my job.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What Does "Enough" Look Like?

In a conversation with some other homeschooling moms this week on As A Mom , I was reminded of another reason that so many homeschooling families quit after only a year or two, and why many more refuse to consider homeschooling in the first place.

If we revisit the conventional school model, we see that most children are in school from about 8am-3pm, with only a few short breaks in between. Their time in school is, depending upon their age, broken up into approximately 40-60 minutes per subject area, and they study most subjects every day. This gives some homeschooling parents the notion that they need to keep their children busy with school work for at least 6 hours a day, and spend at least some time in each subject every day. Since we can't see how we could possibly spend that much time on school, we assume that we are substandard teachers and not doing "enough".

I'd like to take a moment to bust this myth open with a sledgehammer.

In conventional schools, teachers are typically in charge of somewhere between 15-30 children, sometimes even more. This does not allow for much one-on-one time with each student. On the flip side, a homeschooling mom, even if she has a large family, has plenty of opportunity throughout the day for one-on-one interaction with each child.  One home educating mother put it well when she said, "really, we are less like teachers and more like tutors".

With this kind of consistent interaction, our school day doesn't have to be confined into little windows of time set aside to cover today's chapter in each textbook. We can spend all morning on a science project if we'd like. On the next day, we can devote ourselves to reading a living book from an important time in history, and then spend the rest of the day engaging in meaningful conversation about what life might have been like for people who lived during that time.

Conversely, reading lessons with my Kindergartener typically take 15 minutes or less. He is completing them even faster as his proficiency as a reader increases. That doesn't necessarily mean that he only spends 15 minutes per day reading. Today, he read several books chosen by himself, without prompting. It does mean, though, that once our 15 minute reading lesson was completed, we could be done for the day.

It was enough.

What does "enough" look like?

  • When the child completes the lesson. --When the assigned math problems for today are solved, when the copy-work has been written, when the chapter has been read, when the Bible verse has been memorized, it is enough. Even if it took you fifteen minutes. Even if it took you two minutes. You can move on. It's enough!
  • When the material has been mastered.--Some educators advocate ceaseless repetition of exercises, regardless of whether or not the child has learned what he or she was to learn. This is particularly true of conventional classrooms, where students all work at the same pace regardless of ability. No wonder our nation's schools are so filled with bored underachievers! If your child has mastered the skill in one page, why do three? Come back and review it tomorrow, to be sure, but be done for the day. It's enough!
  • When you or your child become frustrated.--Parents can exhaust themselves and their children by continuing to pound on a particular lesson when they are clearly not making any progress. It is okay to fly the white flag of surrender and revisit the topic at another time. Take some time to do something fun together, or to pursue a goal that you know you will easily accomplish. As you put a couple of tally marks into your "win" column, you may find that you're able to think more clearly about what went wrong today, and how you can do better tomorrow. There's no need to, as grandpa would say, "beat a dead horse". It's enough!
  • When life provides an unexpected opportunity.--There are times when God interrupts our routines and it is in our best interest to take notice and follow His lead. Yesterday, after a dark evening and morning of heavy rain, the sun came out and we were surprised by the new brightness shining through our living room window. Having spent a great portion of the morning studying Noah, the flood, and the promise of God to never again destroy the whole earth with water, it only made sense for us to take a few minutes to see if we could find a rainbow. We didn't, but I'm still glad we tried. Is it an unusually warm day outside? Did a fresh snow fall? Did a neighbor just have a baby? Does she need a meal brought to her? Go ahead and put the book down. It will be there when you get back. It's enough!
Do I need to cover at least something in each subject area every day? NO!

Colleges and Universities don't do this, so why should you? If we do Bible every day and reading most days, it is enough. Everything else can be done less often.

Don't I need to complete the whole book by the end of the year? NO!

Can you remember taking any classes where you covered every chapter of every textbook you were issued? Neither can I. Some books will take you longer than September to May to complete. Some books you will never complete. You will either find that the material has already been mastered, or that your child will need another approach to the subject. Those books that are worth finishing can either be worked on during the summer or revisited in the fall. It is enough.

We can all get enough books and enough school. Our world is full of information overload. King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 12:12, "Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body."

There are other things we are unlikely to get enough of--
enough time in the Scriptures,
enough time in prayer,
enough time with our families,
enough time holding our children close,
enough time being of service to others,
enough time enjoying God's creation.

Let us seek these greater gifts, and release the worry and guilt that we feel about not doing "enough" school.

That is enough for this blog post. I'm going to bed.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sick Days

The kids and I are all sick. I think we have the flu, but I'm pretty sure we'll live, despite what the CDC may think!

This has given me the opportunity to think about yet another advantage of homeschooling. A homeschooling family can take illness in stride, knowing that they write their own schedules and can make adjustments to meet the needs of sick kids. In fact, I've known several families who have chosen home education for a chronically or severely ill child. When getting out of bed in the morning is a challenge, and a child is regularly missing school due to health issues, it makes sense to allow the child to learn at his or her own pace, at home.

How does home education make it easier for families to cope with the occasional cold bug or flu virus?

Here are a few ways:

~Homeschooling families are not as beholden to the calendar as families with kids in conventional schools. We can have school on the weekends, over holidays, and throughout the whole summer. We can take as much time off as we need to regain our health and strength, and then pick up where we left off.

Compare this to a conventionally school child who falls ill. When he becomes too ill to go to school, he falls behind. He may be able to receive homework and reading assignments to complete while he is home, but this doesn't completely solve the problem. What if he is too sick to do them? Will he be able to understand what he is being asked to do if he hasn't been in class to hear the lesson from the teacher? If he misses many days of school, how will he catch up? For a child that is struggling academically to begin with, a week out may be virtually impossible to recover from.

To avoid this situation, many parents send sick children to school. This makes it very likely that the rest of the class will be exposed to the germs and become ill--and the cycle continues.

~In a misguided effort to make sure that school children become ill as infrequently as possible, the CDC and state governments are requiring more and more vaccines for school attendance. We are vaccinating our children for diseases that rarely cause complications--such as the chicken pox, as well as for diseases that our children are unlikely to catch--such as Hepatitis B. No long term studies have been done to show the safety of receiving this many inoculations at such young ages, and many parents report that their children have developed long term health complications after receiving these shot.

In many states, the shots are required only for children attending public schools. Homeschooling families may simply refuse the vaccines at the doctor's office. In most states, waivers are attainable if parents wish to send their non-vaccinated children to public school. Most parents don't know this, as it is rarely advertised.

Recently, there has been a lot of hype and confusion about H1N1, or "Swine Flu" as it is often referred to, and its vaccine. For up-to-date information about the virus and the vaccine, and what it means for your family, visit .

~A home educating family's school day can start and stop whenever we want or need it to. We can allow an ill child to sleep in, have an abbreviated school day consisting of mild activities, and give the child plenty of time to rest and recuperate. There is no worry that the child will fall behind his classmates--we just do what we can and pick up where we left off.

So, what kinds of activities can we do with sick kids in the house? Here are some examples:

  • Read aloud. Pick some favorite picture books and chapter books, and read to your sick child. I find that even very young children can understand and appreciate far more interesting literature than we give them credit for. Spend an afternoon with The Boxcar Children, Charlotte's Web, or Little House on the Prairie. All of these books include some illustrations to engage children's interest without being what Charlotte Mason would refer to as twaddle.
  • Spend Time Observing a Pet or Plant. The cat I had as a child always seemed to know when I was sick. She would carefully jump up onto my lap, crawl under the covers with me, and purr, presumably to comfort me and keep me warm. Many doctor's offices keep aquariums because observing the movements of fish has been shown to reduce stress. An ill child can be situated near a window, where he or she can watch the wind blow through the trees, the rain or snow as it falls, and the activities of local animals: squirrels, rabbits, mourning doves, and robins around here. If the child is well enough, she might like to write or draw in a nature journal about this experience.
  • Learn About Health, Nutrition, and the Human Body. There are all kinds of free resources available, both online and at the library, for teaching children about sickness, health, and our fearfully and wonderfully made bodies and immune systems. Take some time with your children to learn about how God created their bodies to fight off illness, and what we can do as people to keep our bodies healthy.
  • (Judiciously) Use Educational Videos. We prefer not to turn the TV on most days in our household. However, when mom is sick in addition to the children, a little bit of wisely chosen educational programing can be a treat. Some of our favorites include:
    • Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. If the people who are carrying on the legacy of dear Fred Rogers would only publish a complete DVD set of "How People Make Things", my five year old son would be forever grateful. Mr. Rogers is one of the few children's programs still on the air that we are comfortable allowing our children to watch.
    • Beatrix Potter. A few of her tales are available on video and DVD. The animations are simple and very true to the originals. It is like having the story read to you.
    • Thomas the Tank Engine. In a similar vain, the older Thomas the Tank Engine Videos and DVDs are true to the original tales by the Rev. Awdry,  and are like setting foot into a model train collection. The more recent releases that use computer animation are rather disappointing.
    • Disney's American Legends. I am normally not a Disney fan, but this DVD is wonderful. The tall tales of American history come to life--hear the stories of John Henry, Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan, and Casey Jones. The animations were completed in 1958. Introductions by James Earl Jones were added when the DVD was published.
    • The Adventures of Milo and Otis. You can probably find this endearing tale of a curious cat and a pug-nosed-pup in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart. It is a live action movie, without any silly attempts to animate the animals' mouths. The story is told by Dudley Moore, and the cinematography is superb. Both my 3 year old and my 5 year old would probably tell you that this is their favorite movie.
    • Moody Institute of Science--Wonders of God's Creation. When we again have two nickles to rub together, this series is next on our list. Live action videos teach the wonders of creation science to children and adults of all ages.
I think that's about all I have the energy to type this morning. I think I'll go and brew a cup of lemon tea with honey...

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I'm a Stay-at-Home, Christian, "crunchy" mama. I have been blessed with the calling to be a godly wife and mother. I am passionate about bringing up my children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD, through home education and discipleship. Helpmeet to my best friend and soulmate, Christopher since 1/29/2000, and mama to four little blessings, including a tiny, precious, newborn baby girl.

My Writing Elsewhere...

Fixing Your Heart on Titus 2

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husband today?
Monday--His Work
Tuesday--His Integrity
Wednesday--His Mind
Thursday--His Purpose
Friday--His Health
Saturday--His Protection
Sunday--His Faith

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Features God Made, Home Grown

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Success is not learned. It is discovered and nurtured. What was your child born to do?

Our Curriculum 2010-2011

Bible--Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos, Apologia Biblical World View Book 1, "Who is God and Can I Really Know Him?"
Catechism-- "Training Hearts, Teaching Minds" by Starr Meade
Phonics--Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
(Kindergarten), Year 1 Booklist (1st Grade)
Handwriting--Bible Copywork, made using Educational Fontware
Spelling-- All About Spelling Level 1 (1st grade)
Math--Math-U-See Primer (Kindergarten) , Math-U-See Alpha (1st grade)
World History--Simply Charlotte Mason's Genesis Through Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt
American History--The Light and The Glory For Children Series
Art--Interest-led projects and handicrafts
Geography and Missions-- "Hero Tales" by Dave and Neta Jackson, as well as various other missionary biographies, incorporating globe and map study
*We will be studying music and phy-ed., participating in a writing club and nature club, as well as attending various field trips, with our church's homeschool group.*

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Raising Homemakers

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Quiverfull Family

The Modest Mom


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