Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Doing School"

Once again, the devil on my shoulder--the ugly one that says "You're not a very good homeschooling mom!"--has reared his disgusting head.

A couple of nights ago, I was getting ready for a get-together with a group of friends, a full third of whom are school teachers. In my pregnant-hormonal state, I imagined myself (or one of my kids) being asked the dreaded question...

"So, What did you do for school today?"

They would ask it innocently enough, but it would be the question that exposed me for the sorry excuse for a teacher that I am. What did I do for school today??

The worst possible scenario, of course, would be for my five-year-old to chime in,

"We didn't do any school today!"

Let me find a hole in a corner somewhere to crawl into. (Lest you think that this is unlikely and I am exaggerating, our barber asked him during a recent haircut if he went to school, and he flatly told her "no".)

Why did the possibility of this question send me into a panic, you ask? Because, in my mind, I didn't think we really had done school that day.

I mean, we didn't do math, and everyone knows that a school day without math is really no school day at all!

Okay...stop. Really? Is the fact that I hadn't done math the honest-to-goodness reason I didn't feel as though I had "done school"? What's going on here?

Here's the truth of it:

A lot of days, I feel as though I haven't really "done school". Math makes me feel as though I have "done school" because it is the one piece of "real" curriculum I am using right now. "Real", as in, I spent "real" money on it, and it has a teacher manual, a workbook with pages to do each day, and a video to watch every week.

You know, real school. we're getting somewhere!

Am I kidding myself? Is not one of the reasons I chose homeschooling that I didn't want the conventional school model for my children?  Do I not, by and large, despise canned curriculum, busy work, and twaddle? Why am I beating myself up for not doing something that I actually do not want to do???

Oh, how 13 years of public education has shaped me!

As I thought about it a little bit, I realized that I indeed had educated my children that day. "Done school"? Maybe not, but I had educated them!

Here are my less-than-conventional school achievements from that day:

  • I read two chapters of Little Town on the Prairie out loud, snuggled in bed with the children, before breakfast.
  • During breakfast, we listened to an MP3 I downloaded from of Ken Ham, from Answers in Genesis, speaking to a group of children about dinosaurs, creation, and the flood. Once they were finished eating, the children drew pictures of dinosaurs as they listened. (All eight audio files from the 2009 Answers in Genesis conference are available for free download here. The children's message is #5).
  • On this MP3, Ken Ham mentioned the platypus, and how it confuses evolutionists. The kids started asking questions about platypuses because of the funny and engaging way Mr. Ham described the creatures. After the MP3 was over, we went to the computer and found a video of platypuses on YouTube. It was great, because they got to see platypuses swimming and waddling around in the wild, and hear evolutionists sound confused about them!
  • The children then had some free playtime to themselves while I put the baby down for his nap. Asher built a village out of Lincoln Logs, and Acacia unloaded her entire bookshelf onto her bed (sigh). At least she enjoyed her books!
  • After lunch, we went for a walk together. We got some much-needed exercise and sunshine, and we practiced following directions, staying close to mom, and looking both ways before we cross the street.
  • When we came back from our walk, we spent most of the afternoon outside in the backyard. I read a book (to myself!) while the children dug in the sandbox (finding horse chestnuts that the squirrels had burried), rode their bikes, and ran around in the grass. And, no, we didn't do any worksheets, art projects, science experiments, or nature journals. We just enjoyed being outdoors.
  • When it was time that we finally really must come indoors, the younger children napped while I made dinner. Asher helped me out with a few things, and then settled down to read (by himself, without prompting) until dinner was done. Incidentally, my children ate three homemade meals that day. They are learning that food is more than calories and convenience. We are not doomed to a life of breakfast cereals, school lunches, fast food and frozen pizzas. I am forming their palates, teaching them to make good nutritional choices, and giving them the blessing of eating real food.
  • My children also did their share of age-appropriate chores that day. Whether it was helping put away laundry, setting the table, or putting away their toys, they are learning the blessings of work.
  • Over dinner, we talked. What about, you ask? Honestly, I don't really remember. I think Asher asked about a river in Brazil on his globe (which still lives on the dining room table, by the way). I know they asked a lot of other questions, too. It's amazing what children learn when their parents actually take the time to answer their questions.
  • After dinner, we drove into town for a baby shower (the aforementioned get-together with friends). We "socialized" with whole families--moms, dads, babies and children of various ages. This is more realistic "socialization" than a classroom full of 25 five-year-olds will ever be.
  • On the way home, Asher asked for a crash-course in supply-and-demand economics and the real estate downturn. Okay, not in so many words, but he did ask for it...and I gave it to him. I think he even understood it.
  • At bedtime, we snuggled, read our Story Bible, and prayed. We read about the Children of Israel crossing the Red Sea in the Old Testament, and the empty tomb in the New Testament. Of all the things I do or teach in a day, this is what is most important. This is what I live for.

So, that was my day. I challenge you to do this kind of thing yourself every once in a while. I think you'll be surprised at how much you teach your children without "doing school"! may be wondering...did any of my school teacher friends ask me what we did for school that day? Nope.

One of them did tell me how smart my daughter is, and wondered aloud if she could read the whole dictionary yet. I sheepishly replied that well, actually, I'm sure she would be reading already if I were more diligent in sitting down and teaching her, but I haven't been, so no, she isn't reading yet.

They all looked at my like I was nuts.

"Are you kidding, with everything you have on your plate? She's not even four yet!"

I then realized, once again, that I have a lot higher standards for myself than other people do. The standards that I assume they are judging me by are completely imagined on my part.

So, off my shoulder, ugly devil! I am not a bad homeschooling mom. By God's grace, and with His help, I am doing what He has called me to do.

And, I am so blessed.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010


God Made, Home Grown just got a sweet makeover, thanks to my friend Andy Traub.

Do you like it? Tell me what you think! I'm always looking for ways to make this blog better, easier to read, and more user friendly. I welcome any and all feedback.

But...that's not all! I have another little surprise that, try as I may, I can't keep a secret any longer...

Chris and I are expecting baby #4!

We are thrilled, blessed, and honored to be, once again, entrusted by God with one of His precious little ones.

So far, I'm feeling good and am keeping up with the little ones running around outside the womb. Please keep us in your prayers for a healthy pregnancy and baby, and for another successful homebirth.

Thanks so Much!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Darwin Has a Pity Party (and I about have an aneurysm)

It's all over the news today--there are just too many homeschool science textbooks that do not teach Darwinian evolution. You can read the full AP story here:

According to the article, homeschooling parents who don't embrace creationism, "often feel isolated and frustrated from trying to find a textbook that fits their beliefs."

Cry me a river.

By the time I finished reading the article, steam was coming out of my nostrils, so please be patient with me.

Here are my thoughts on the matter, raw as they may be:

1. Darwinism is a theory, not a fact, and you don't have to be a creationist to question it. Those who are afraid of textbooks like those from Apologia, that show scientific evidence against evolution, have an agenda. They want kids to accept Darwinian theory without question. While most of these creationist textbooks also teach the theory of evolution (and why they don't choose to believe it), you will almost never find a Darwinian textbook that takes an honest look at the evidence for creationism. Anyone who is a serious student of science will welcome truth wherever they find it.

2. Curriculum publishers that present science from a creationist perspective came into existence because there was a vacuum in the market. Virtually every science textbook in the country teaches evolution as fact. So please, don't whine about the few publishers who serve Bible-believing Christians. Go to the library, you'll find Darwin. He's everywhere.

3. For many Christians, the saturation of the government run school system with Darwinism is one of the primary reasons we choose home education. The creation account as told to us in the book of Genesis is not only a foundational point for our faith, but is also supported by scientific evidence.

4. Two HUGE thumbs down to Brian Scoles from Bob Jones University for caving under pressure when being interviewed for this story. Stand up and defend your statement. It's the truth. Backing down now only makes you look like an idiot (not to mention the rest of us).

5. I have a message for secular homeschoolers. We welcome you into our ranks. We're glad you're here. Nobody is happier than I am that you have decided that the government run school system is broken and you want your kids out of it. But please remember, your freedom to homeschool was earned on the back of fundamentalist Christians.

We were the ones who, back in the 80's (okay, not me, I was still a kid myself then), fought the battles against school boards, truancy officers, and social services agencies, standing up before judges and juries, defending our right to educate our children as we see fit. We were the ones who held the hands of our state legislators, often hiring attorneys and crafting the wording of bills ourselves, to make sure that you could homeschool your children in relative peace and ease. We are the ones who continue to write our congressmen anytime we see the potential for these rights to be infringed upon.

So please, remember your roots. Honor those who went before you. Don't bad-mouth us, our children, or our curriculum to news reporters. Show a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Okay, I feel better now...
Tuesday, March 2, 2010

This Little Light of Mine (Part 2)

                                            Photo by Alesa Dam

The Great Commission and The Homeschool Family

"And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying,

'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, 

baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 

teaching them to observe all that I command you;

and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' "

Matthew 28:18-20 (NASB)

As I noted in my last post, one of the most common objections to homeschooling made by Christians is that homeschooling is inherently unevangelistic.

The claim is that, if Christians remove their children from public schools, there will be no more "salt and light" left in a place that is already so dark and tasteless.

I have wanted to say more about this, but I have been wrestling for over a week now with what exactly it should be. I have so many thoughts on this matter, and it's hard to know where to begin.

We know that merely hanging around with unsaved people doesn't make us evangelists any more than hanging around with Christians makes a person a Christ-follower. We also know that bad company corrupts good morals. (I Corinthians 15:33)

But it goes deeper than that. We also know that most Christians kids who are going to public schools are not doing much evangelism. Truth be told, most Christian adults are not doing much evangelism in their workplace, either. Why is this?

Four Necessary Elements

We must ask ourselves, what are the things that are necessary for Christian evangelism to occur? Based on my understanding of the Scriptures, I can think of four:

--The Holy Spirit. In John 14:16, Jesus promised his disciples that he would ask the Father to send another helper to them, to enable them to do the work that he was going to leave them to do. This helper is the Holy Spirit. Which brings us back to the issue of rebirth. We know for a statistical fact that somewhere around 75% of kids being raised in American Christian homes walk away from their faith by the end of their freshman year in college. According to I John 2:19, this means that the vast majority of these young people do not have saving faith. Without saving faith, there is no promise of the Holy Spirit to help a child evangelize.

--Biblical Literacy and a Knowledge of the Gospel. Biblical literacy among Christians--that is, knowing what the Bible teaches and how it is to be applied--is at an all-time low in this country. Less than 10% of churched teens have a biblical world view. This isn't just on "hot button" social issues like gay marriage, premarital sex, or abortion. These young people don't understand the core foundational truths of the gospel--sin, grace, atonement, justification. They don't believe that Jesus is God, nor do they believe that his life on earth was one of perfect sinlessness. If young people don't get these things, how can they possibly share the gospel with their friends at school?

--Relationships. I know what you are thinking. This is the entire point of those who think Christians ought be sending their children to public schools. How can our children possibly form relationships with lost people if they don't go to school? 

First of all, the idea that school is the only place where children can "socialize" is a fallacy we have come to believe based on decades of immersion in the culture of government-run education. Young people who go to public schools have little time for anything else. They are lucky if they have enough breathing room in their schedules to eat one meal a day at home with their families. The problem is, they don't have much time to form healthy relationships at school, either. There entire day is scheduled solid, with maybe a 20 minute break for lunch. 

If you went to public school, ask yourself, am I still close to anyone I was friends with in public school? Who are those people? Chances are, they are people you spent a significant amount of time with outside of school. I know this is true for me.

School is not the only place for kids to make friends, nor is it even the best place. In reality, institutional settings are as lousy at equipping people for human relationships as they are at educating them in other areas. Which brings me to the fourth necessary element...

--Communication. Romans 10:14 tells us, How then will they call on Him whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?" Again, in verse 17, "so faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." (NASB)

One of the reasons that children don't do much evangelism in public schools is that it is not really their job to talk. It is their job to listen. The teacher is the one who does most of the talking. To be direct, instead of Christians students evangelizing their peers, the secular humanist teachers are discipling our Christian kids!--telling them what to think and not to think, what to believe and why to believe it.

Even public school teachers who are Christians are not talking much (if at all) about God. If they did, they'd be out of a job--fast. I did have one public school teacher who made it a point to share her faith with her students, but she did it by sharing her life with us. She spent a great deal of time with us outside the classroom, and her office was always an open door to us. She was the high school choir teacher, so she had some liberty to choose sacred music for us to learn and study. This, however, was 15 years ago ( I old???). I doubt many teachers have that kind of freedom to share their faith today. 

For children to share their faith with their classmates, there must be time and opportunities for effective communication. A quick two minute conversation between bells doesn't do it.

So what does this all mean for home educating families?

So far, I've spent most of my time explaining why there isn't much evangelism happening in our public schools. But what about homeschoolers?  How are we to fulfill the Great Commission? Are we doing it?

Let's look at those four necessary elements again:

--The Holy Spirit. To Christian parents, God gives the Holy Spirit, to empower us to evangelize and disciple our own children. As home educators, this is our primary responsibility. Remember, our children will never be able to do any evangelism and discipleship themselves if they are not first evangelized and discipled. The Bible tells us that this is the parents' job--not the job of the Youth Pastor, Sunday School Teacher, or Christian Education Director. 

Once our children are born again, they too will have the Holy Spirit, and be able to, by His power, tell others the truth of the gospel.

--Biblical Literacy and a Knowledge of the Gospel. The Bible is the focal point of our curriculum, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is its central theme.We teach other subjects--reading, writing, math, science, history--not in addition to the Word of God, but saturated with the Word of God. All truth is God's truth, and all of our teaching must be pointing our children directly toward God. We must never lose sight of this matter of utmost importance.

--Relationships. This is where many homeschooling parents falter. In a fast-paced world where we are often the only people at home during the day in our neighborhoods, it can be easy to spend most of our lives away from other people.

However, we know that God does work to spread the gospel through the hospitality of Christian families. "And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching that Jesus is the Christ." Acts 5:42 (NASB-emphasis mine).

What if your home had an open door policy? What if people in your neighborhood knew that your house was a safe, happy place for their children to visit and play? What if your family demonstrated so much love for each other, and you lived in such a radically different way that your neighbors just "had to know" what was going on in your house? 

Outside of our homes, we also have opportunities to share our faith. We can become involved in community organizations, visit nursing homes, or volunteer to help the needy in various ways. We can make ourselves fixtures at the local library or playground, especially during the summer months where children who are schooled outside the home are typically board and lonely. If we truly have a heart for unsaved school children, we can become involved in ministries like Child Evangelism Fellowship's Good News Clubs, where Christians bring Bible teaching and the Gospel of Christ into the schools to reach lost children and their families.

There are so many ways for our families to share the gospel with others, if we would just open our eyes to them and seek God's leading in our lives!

--Communication. When we communicate the truth of God's Word to our children, we are doing our primary duty in fulfilling the Great Commission. This communication is mostly a one-way conversation at first, with us as parents diligently teaching our children what to believe and why to believe it. As they grow and ask questions, it becomes a two-way conversation, where we can come to an understanding of what our little ones are truly absorbing.

If we are diligent and patient in bringing up our children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD, how much better equipped will they be to communicate their faith clearly to a lost and dying world around them?

If we think about the great pastors, missionaries, and evangelists of our world, many of them had one thing in common--a mother who was at home to nurture, instruct, and disciple her children in the Word of God. My home is my primary mission field.

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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

Did you pray for your
husband today?
Monday--His Work
Tuesday--His Integrity
Wednesday--His Mind
Thursday--His Purpose
Friday--His Health
Saturday--His Protection
Sunday--His Faith

Carnival of Homeschooling

Carnival of Homeschooling
Features God Made, Home Grown

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival

2009 Nominee!

2010 Nominee!

My Wired Style

My Wired Style
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.*

Disciple Like Jesus

Disciple Like Jesus

Raising Homemakers

Raising Homemakers

Quiverfull Family

The Modest Mom


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