Why I Need a Co-Op

This may seem like an odd thing to any who really know me. ūüôā Being that I often speak to my love of being at home, and my rather introverted nature, why on earth would I decide I need a co-op?

 

The general definition of a cooperative homeschool group – aka co-op – is to “cooperate” with one or more families thus sharing any part of the educational process. ¬† A co-op can be a simple group of two families meeting regularly to share their home journey on any particular topic or as structured as a school district public program or charter group (think Classical Conversations). ¬†Co-ops can have an academic focus or a social, spiritual one – even a combination of all of these!

Since we started homeschooling almost 5 years ago we have been in and out of various groups ourselves. I admit, I tend to dread these encounters. So many moms and children – I love the variety of ages and activities. All the sweet families we have met but we have never truly felt at home, a part of any of these groups. i do not fault any of them for it. I do believe that finding a group that is “family” in the homeschool community is a hard thing. ¬†It does not just happen and I think often we can be a part of many different groups and still not find that.

 

So when I was approached by a couple lovely ladies from our church about starting a group I was quite ecstatic. Especially since I have been praying for someone ¬†to do this very thing since we came to our church almost 4 years ago. Yet now here I am being approached to do just that. And since this request was first made, even more ladies have come to me seeking a group for their children too. How exciting! And nerve-wracking (for me) ūüôā

 

 

I decided to do it. This year, I decided to start my own informal co-op this fall. So far there will be lots of little ones so we definitely need to make plans for preschool fun! Of course there will also be a variety of older youth involved too.  Just a handful of us for now but I do believe the Lord will send them if we are faithful and true to Him in what we do.

 

So what does this have to do with why I need a co-op?

 

 

 

I have to admit, I cannot do this alone. It gets tiring. Especially as my children get older. ¬†It is too easy to burnout when we are isolated from others in this thing. It doesn’t have to be often, maybe once a week (we can determine that based on everyone’s interest) but that time just needs to be there, If we are tired, struggling, or even excited about something – it’s a blessing to others and to us to be able to share!

 

cooop

 

 

 

And how about that dreaded “socialization”? ¬†We are always being asked about it right? How do our kids socialize when we homeschool them? I cannot keep telling people (sarcastically) that they don’t … I know, without any doubt, that we are all equipped by God to teach our children. Yet I admit, I fail at math, I do not speak Spanish and I certainly cannot dissect a frog…. That said¬†it‚Äôs a great benefit when we¬†can come together to share our specific talents with one another. ¬†It’s great for our children to see too, how we all come together and share our talents. ¬†Add to that, the opportunity for them to share their skills with one another, and practice other things. ¬†My oldest son loves to give short presentations¬†and story tell yet is fearful of being in front of a group, playing games¬†is great for social skills and often so much more, doing crafts or projects is more fun in a group, playing soccer or football, or just being present and helping cook or clean or play with the littler ones (my oldest reads to his little sisters), this is a beautiful way to encourage them, and be sure that they are gaining¬†positive social skills¬†and experiences.

 

Then there are all the great discounts and classes we can partake in, when we have a group ūüôā Events at the zoo, local art classes, cooking classes, even craft materials and books. ¬†We can work together, pool our resources and have a great time doing so. Less pressure on everyone when we are not all responsible for every detail. How fun is it too to be able to bake cookies or thrown parties for the holidays together – There are so many holidays, so many ways that we can learn in a fun and engaging way. And it’s always better when its done together.

 

 

Accountability….Who doesn‚Äôt love the flexibility of homeschooling? I do for sure! But¬†I also admit¬†that meeting regularly with other homeschooling families can¬†help me to stay focused and on course. To have others that I know are learning with us, are exploring with us, this gives us something to look forward to. ¬†It keeps us on task. ¬†No excuses anymore because it’s not just about us and we can’t just do it later.

 

As for us moms we always have lots of crazy and fun  ideas to share; we have a variety of interests and connections and sharing all of this can certainly be a huge help to each other in this journey that we call homeschool!

 

Ecc. 4:9-12: ¬†Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. ¬†For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up…..And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

What Grade? Why?

My son was asked recently while we were out why he wasn’t in school. ¬†Of course, he explained that he is homeschooled. ¬†That got a *gasp* but another, greater one came, after he was asked what grade he was in. And my son looked at me…Confused, curious….and said, unsurely, “fifth I think?”

This response scares most of our family and friends, very few support our decision to homeschool, and truth be told, for quite some time it really bothered me as well. I mean, we have to have something to go on right?

 

And then it hit me – This is what we have been taught to expect; children learn and perform at specific tasks and skills¬†at certain ages, it‚Äôs¬†how we know thy are in the “right place” ¬†and its how things have always been. ¬†We never question it because for as long as we remember, this is how its been done.

 

But if we dig further into the real history of education, how wrong we are!¬†¬†Those old textbooks from the days¬†of the one-room schoolhouse confirm that children were not in ‚Äúclasses,‚ÄĚ but in levels. When¬†a child grasped¬†all that was expected at each level of their education, they¬†moved up to the next level. If¬†they were not showing themselves to have a strong grasp of the topics they were given more time to gain a greater understanding of each subject.

 

If I didn’t learn from college, that children’s¬†development and learning styles and abilities vary¬†from child-to-child, I surely would have figured it out shortly after having my kids. ¬† Children are unique; each one different than the other in how they see things, their perspective and processing of information. ¬†My oldest cannot hold still; he has to touch and move and feel and experience it all. ¬†My younger son is a builder and a fixer; he likes to sit and study how things work, putting it together and taking it apart. ¬†And my daughter? ¬†She loves to read and color, she listens; she is all about pretend play too.

 

How could all of these children learn in the same way? Gather the same information and skills and understanding of the same things, all at the very same age?  It seems preposterous to me!

 

And this is why, as homeschoolers, we have so much liberty; we can be free of all of this.  We can let go shake off those chins that bind us and really experience what it means to live and learn. This is how, our kids discover a love of learning and how we see joy in their discoveries.  This is how they find their passions and truly spread their wings (cheesy but true kay?).

 

SO how do we do this when all our life we have had it drilled into our heads the other way?

 

First things first:

 

  • forget the grade level expectations that we are told and taught ~ forget about em !
  • relax and spend some quality time¬†studying each of your children to discover¬†their learning style; their talents and skills and strengths and weaknesses
  • Set goals/pillars based on each child’s ability¬†and life in general and as¬†a child of God, as one gifted with a unique purpose from the Lord
  • we use McGuffey readers, lots of living books,¬†non-fiction books and materials that are not defined by age or experience – encyclopedias, woodworking magazines, How Stuff Works, etc¬†(Khan Academy¬†is great for this kind of learning too!)
  • how about unit studies? what a great way to focus on one specific book or topic while learning across the board, from¬†language arts, science, math and character/virtue building. consider lap booking even; thesis such a fun way to learn and create, in a way that is more personal for each child.
  • take a break and learn how to Teach from a State of Rest; he says often that: ”¬†In order to educate a child well, we must teach from a state of rest.” ¬†

 

Do we really think that we need, or that there is, a perfect curriculum for our children? How do we not see how impossible, and improbable, it is for one thing to fit all our children? And if we are homeschooling in faith why do we think that God needs us to have that anyway¬†? If we are doing this for the right reasons, for His glory, for our children to learn His Word and His way, lets be honest….If we are in prayer, in the Word, seeking His will for our children and our family He WILL bless that. In whatever state its in. ¬†ūüôā

 

 

As we begin to wind down for the year (we homeschool year round but summer certainly is a time that is different in how we are learning) I have to remind myself that what the charts say does not matter. Who are they to determine at what age my child should be able to do these things? I need to remind myself as I plan, as I seek other ways to encourage learning in my children, that His will needs to be tantamount to all that we do.  After all, we chose to homeschool for so many reasons, this being one of the many, and if we are going to be faithful in what I feel my family has been charged with, I need to have faith in this journey both the highs and lows, remembering that every one of those, is a chance for us to grow.

 

 

 

 

Motivate Your Child Action Plan Giveaway ‚ÄĒ win an iPod Touch, $50 iTunes GC and #HeartParenting Books!

A few months ago, NCBP released an amazing  parenting book, Motivate Y our Child and they are now publishing a guide to use along with the book called Motivate Your Child Action Plan. This book can stand alone, but is an excellent companion to Motivate Your Child.  Trust me. When it comes to motivating my child (mostly my oldest son) I have a plethora of tools I have tried; none that have been as full of hope, and the Word, as this.  I count my blessings since having learned of the National Center for Biblical Parenting (NCBP) andam a huge fan of their parenting book, The Christian Parenting Handbook, as well.   There are so many gems that you can enjoy, from NCBP such as: their very encouraging and inspiring podcast episodes, blog, and books such as:

Each one of these books and every podcast I have heard, has been full of precious¬†biblical advice and instruction¬†to aid us in this task before us of training up our children for Him ‚̧

 

Motivate Your Child Action Plan Giveaway

 

To celebrate the release of Motivate Your Child Action Plan, we are joining other members of the Launch Team in a wonderful giveaway filled with an iPod Touch, $50 iTunes Gift Card and several biblical parenting products! A value of nearly $350!

Here’s what you could win:

Apple iPod touch 16GB Black/Silver  ($195 value)

  • In the Box – iPod Touch, Apple EarPods, Lightning to USB cable, QuickStart guide
  • Brilliant 4 Retina display with Multi-Touch IPS technology
  • Front-Facing FaceTime camera with 1.2MP photos & 720p HD video recording.
  • iOS 6 features – Siri, Apple Designed Maps, Integrated Facebook, Shared Photo Streams, Passbook & more

iTunes Gift Card ($50 value)

Because you’ll need apps and music for that iPod Touch!

The Christian Parenting Handbook and Companion Guide ($56.95 value)

The Christian Parenting Handbook contains nuggets of parenting wisdom condensed into 50 short chapters, each one biblical, practical, and relevant for parents of children ages 2-18. Learn appropriate ways to correct, instruct, and set limits. Glean wisdom for dealing with emotions, conflict, and developing closeness in your family… and much more. These 50 strategies provide you with hands-on tools for parenting children of any age.

The Companion Guide is a workbook of 50 lessons along with 50 audio tips to take you through The Christian Parenting Handbook step by step. Each lesson contains advice from Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller in a 5 minute audio tip and then offers teaching, an assignment, a Bible verse, and a prayer to help you apply each idea or strategy in your family. The tips are available to you as MP3 downloads and access to them comes in the workbook.

Family Time Activities Book Bundle ($45 value)

Your kids will have fun learning about God’s Word and how it applies to their lives. Science experiments, art activities, and games are all designed to reinforce spiritual truth. Each lesson is clear and simple, yet profound even for parents! You’ll teach kids how exciting it is to learn about God and his ways. Your kids will love these books, but more importantly you’ll build spiritual memories of Family Time in your home. Titles in this giveaway include:

Seeing Is Believing 

Playing for Keeps 

Running the Race

Enter the Giveaway using the Rafflecopter below! This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY to those 18 years of age or older. Void where prohibited by law.

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Join us for the Action Plan Facebook Party on Wednesday, May 20 at 9:00PM ET. There will be even more prizes and giveaways there and the authors of Action Plan will be present to answer your questions! The winner of this giveaway will be announced at the Facebook party!

RSVP here for the Party!

Action Plan Facebook Party

Going to Boot Camp!

If you know me you know how much I LOVE to camp. Not really. Actually I am terrible when it comes to the great outdoors. I love nature; spending time enjoying God’s creation. Relaxing in the shade maybe with a good book ~ I have three children,¬†one more on the way. My oldest one a very rambunctious, loud, constantly, driving us all nuts kind of boy. ¬†So needless to say when I heard of the Boys Bootcamp, and had the opportunity to attend this one, I was SO excited!

I want to do more than just survive my boys. And I don’t know where you are at in your journey, what struggles you my face, but I do know that I do not understand my boys. Especially my oldest (who is 9). ¬†He cannot focus. He is too focused. He is here and there and everywhere. It’s the very first reason we chose to homeschool him so long ago. It’s a challenge teaching a boy like him; I know I am not alone but I admit to feeling very alone. A lot. I don’t want to seem ungrateful or have a spirit that is grumbling and complaining but how do you teach him when he just cannot hold still? When math is on the table and he cannot stop doodling or bouncing or racing back and forth in the house?

And just the other day someone smiles sweetly at me and says,¬†‚ÄúYou just wait ‚Äôtil they‚Äôre teenagers if you think it‚Äôs hard now.‚ÄĚ ¬†I admit my heart sunk just a bit.¬†

But  refuse to believe that it has to be this way forever. One day we WILL have fond memories of our time together. And maybe I will look back and laugh a bit over my oldest son, who runs relays through the store when we go out; who has to be loud and in your face, all the time, arguing (he calls it debating) and just being all around out of control.

I mean, with my younger two, I can easily do a trip to the store.¬†¬†My daughter (3) and my son (5)¬†walk the aisles with me, helping me find things, asking questions and just chatting up a storm. They love to sing worship songs as we are out too ūüôā It‚Äôs pleasant and wonderful time spent with these two little ones.¬†But not with my oldest son. With him it is always an emotional roller coaster; I struggle to just¬†try to keep him within social boundaries and by the end of the trip, I am a wreck and he is a mess.¬†But there is a heart in there; one that is so full of joy and love¬†but just doesn’t know how to get in sync. ¬†How to control himself and all of these emotions and ideas bouncing about in his head, a bright young man who has lots of energy and little, to no, ability to manage himself.

 

Impulsive ~ No off switch on this one.

His impulses would take over.  I know he is a big hearted, good natured kid but how hard it is to remind myself of this when he is constantly pushing everyone’s buttons. And at what point does his inability to control himself become no longer a bi-product of his age? At what point does this not have to do with maturity?

 

 

I ask myself and my husband, “Does life have to be more difficult with him forever? Is sullen, moody, rebelliousness just a part of growing up? Do we just have to ride this out and survive these years?”

 

It simply cannot be. There is more for us, I just know there is a better way!

 

And so I am packing my bags (haha) and getting ready to head off to Boot Camp 9-12 to:

 

Get in Shape! Shape up your relationship with your son now before the real challenges hit.

Get Armed! Learn about serious dangers your son will face and develop the weapons to deal with them.

Get a Strategy! Learn how to put together a plan for high school and get it done.

Get Moving!  Start now to prepare your son to pass through the minefields to godly manhood.

 

Some of the topics that will be discussed are:

Brains Turned to Mush

Temptation Everywhere

Dating and Courtship (not there yet….honestly dreading this one too!)

Homeschooling High School

Jobs & Entrepreneurship

Doing Real Things in the Real World

Becoming Young Adults, not Sullen Teens

Loving these years! (how desperately we need to love these years!) ¬†‚̧

 

The next session will be held April 27, 28, 29 and May 4 and 5.  I for one plan to be delivering our daughter at some point this week. But when you sign up, if you are unable to make any of the live sessions, you can always download any classes you miss. This is great for us too since our schedules are so wacky; plus it allows my husband to listen to the sessions too when he has time.

When I complete this bootcamp there will be an awesome giveaway, care of Hal & Melanie Young: a free download of their book, Raising Real Men in both ebook and audio ebook version. Very gracious indeed!

Hearts for Home Blog Hop
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Revive the Love of Reading Aloud

I have always loved to read. I remember this old tape recorder I had when I was a kid. I would gather my stuffed animals and dolls about me, and record myself reading to my little friends. I never got tired of doing this.

 

Then I had my own children and while I still find there is nothing I enjoy more than a good book; the love of reading aloud to small and super active and loud children, is a hard thing to maintain.¬† In the last year, I think I burned out. The joy just wasn’t there. It was a real struggle to maintain my enthusiasm.

We are home educators for those of you who do not know. We have an amazing collection of books for our children. A girl who is three, two boys who are 5 and 9 – Another on the way in April. As you can imagine its quite a collection for our cozy little home. ūüôā

We were recently blessed with quite the collection too; many old, classic books – All great quality, non-twaddle (you know what that means, if you are a fellow CM mom) – Super exciting! Unless you have lost that love….

Displaying 20150123_120606.jpg¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† At this point I just knew something had to change. My husband and boys (totally opposite of me) are great fans of television and video games; I did not grow up with television and if it wasn’t for my husband would never have owned one myself. I remember what a blessing it was; the experiences and the places I went ( in my head through amazing books!)¬† There was no way I wanted my children to not have the experience and love for literature, that I have (had).¬† There was work to be done; it was time to roll up my sleeves. ha-ha

 

Enter in, the Read Aloud Revival. Did you know there was such a thing?

The Read-Aloud Revival is an ongoing¬†podcast hosted by Sarah Mackenzie, mama of six and author of Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace.¬†I was so very blessed to have the chance to review this one and if you are looking for an inspirational and transforming read, don’t miss this one (my review is here). On the podcast, Sarah chats with educators, authors, and others who are dedicated to helping parents to shape their family culture around a love for shared reading.

 

Listen to the podcast to get the inspiration and tools you need to form a read-aloud habit in your home.  I have them on Stitcher myself so I can listen while I clean, cook or just rest a bit (this is huge as right now I am beat, all the time Рonly a few more months to go!)

Want to join in? Start your read aloud habit with me! On this amazing site you can download lots of great (and free) tools to help you in your journey. There is The Jumpstart Challenge e-guide, a printable tracker and worksheets, an audio download, and a link to a great group who are also dedicated to reviving a love for reading aloud in their families. All here to help you make a plan and then make it happen!

RAR

 

 

Living for Learning all the Year Long

It’s funny how to so many, home education, year round, is something crazy.

I mean why would anyone willingly, and eagerly, be in school all year round?

It’s funny how it really just was, that way, for us from the very beginning. It just made sense.

I want to inspire a love of learning in my children for years to come. I remember when I was a kid, school was awful for me. I could not wait to get out so I could go home and learn something. We had a home that inspired learning. Full of materials that encouraged thought, and expanded the mind.  I had music lessons, we attended museums and the theater; we did so many things in the community. That is what learning is all about. Its freedom to explore; to seek not just information but experience.

Our kids are a part of the Bible Quiz team at our church and they have the best shirts for these kids. They say “Learn it, Live it, Quiz it.”

We cannot just learn some facts that we memorize and store for another day. Education is so much more than that. And a year round home education allows us to live it. To find ways to apply, in real life, the things we are learning. My oldest son’s passion for art; my four year old son and his love of planes; my daughters love for ponies. We can encourage these passions more when they have ways to “get their hands dirty” in these things. And that takes time.

I do not want to forget the freedom we have in home education. I do not want to stifle true learning, I do not want to put out their fire. When I see a passion, a love for some thing in any of my children, I want to make sure we take the time to stop and explore every little detail of it, until they have all they want of it.

I do not want home education to be something we do, to “get it over with” but rather something we are excited and eager about. I want to know that my family is excited and curious. Eager.¬† We don’t always run, joyfully, to our daily duties, but we can foster a spirit that is content, that is willing and purposeful in the things they do each day. Big and small. If we do it all for the Lord, it is all significant. In every day, how we approach the things we need to do, how we respond to those needs that arise, it is a lesson in its that is of great value to all.

I admit it has not always been quite this way in our home; we are still a work in progress. We have done those curriculums. You know the ones, you buy the box and its all right there. It even tells you what you do, when and how. they are¬† great for so many families. Not ours. We got through it; we survived. I dealt with days and months of forcing, bribing, sometimes threatening my oldest son to “do his work”. According to this schedule,we only have so much time to complete this stuff; tomorrow we have to get through all of this…It was so overwhelming for us because, I admit, we are not that organized, or that strict about things like this.¬† I caught myself beginning to teach him, the sooner we do it, the sooner its over. I caught myself. But it was a close one. Don’t want to teach that, oh my.

It made me think. I really stepped back. I asked my oldest son what he liked about home education. And what he did not like so much We talked about what education is and why it is important. It was this sharing of ideas and thoughts that really brought me to fully embracing year round education in our home. My son clearly did not like being told he had to do certain things. Why? There was no relation of what was being taught, to his life. And I can understand all too well; we need to experience things so that we can really understand their relationship to life. So we keep this in mind when we are going into things. Whatever we do, we try to step back and see, what is there to learn in this experience? Our learning is more hands on, as much as it can be anyway.

Did I mention this is better for our health too? Mostly momma ūüėõ¬† That burnout that so many of us feel after a few months…its easier to stay fresh and focused. We are trying to keep the when focus of learning on daily living skills. We seek out more of what the kids are interested in and we work on those things they need, in more creative ways. Money and time, two skills that are much easier taught when there is some personal investment in them. A goal, if you will, that gives the kids a feeling of ownership in what they are learning. And this is something that can be done regularly. Grocery trips, cleaning house, baking, yard work, gardening, caring for the pets (and we have a few!). We work together and we learn together. We all have more energy, a better spirit too, because we are not rushed. We are pacing ourselves so that we can learn as much as we want to, about whatever our latest curiosity is. We can relax and snuggle with books or spend the day outside on a blanket coloring and sketching or playing the keyboard and guitar. Some days its just free play. We all just rest and take joy in the day itself. Creative spirits are inspired and encouraged too!

We are still a work in progress. Home education always is; we have to be flexible. We need to be on our toes if you ask me. I mean there are so many things to learn; so many ways to learn. What is a momma to do ? We are very casual in our education i have to say. We need our routines, but a strict schedule? It just is not a pretty sight around here.¬† We still have time off when we need it; here in Wisconsin, if the weather is good, we have to take advantage of that. Get outside. And so we have outside bags, with microscopes, butterfly nets, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, kites, sand toys…we are ready to go and play when the opportunity arises. The key is to know that there is learning in this too.

We have to look. We have to be willing and teachable. We are to be an example to our children; as they get older I want to know that they know the value of a¬† true education not because they were told it, but because they were shown it. We are told to “train up a child in the way he should go, and when is old he will not depart from it.” There are so many lessons we are able to, not just teach, but model, each day when we take the time. We just have to slow down and be intentional. There are opportunities to learn and grow in every way, every day. We just have to see them. And when we do, we embrace them, and together, we live and love and grow.

phil 234

Can I Plan to be Flexible?

I like to think of myself as a flexible, easy going person, but then… Laundry is piled up, meals are not planned, history and math were not even covered today ….. the house is a mess and education? it just has not happened. And I am freaking out! lol

In the beginning we chose home education for our family so we could stop and smell the roses; so we could be flexible. I wanted to inspire a love of learning in my children. I did not want them to grow up thinking learning was something we did at a set time, in a set place, and only certain things at certain ages. And so we started out “on fire” and we burned through boxed curriculums; workbooks and textbooks, we read and visited the library. It worked. Perfectly. Just as I planned. *ahem*

However, I think my oldest ran out of steam. He began to burn out. And we got to that place where we were not longer eager to see what we could learn today; rather we were desperate to get it done. I caught myself pressuring my son; I found myself telling him that if he would just hurry up and get it over with …. sigh¬† This is not working.¬† We had programs to complete; we had a schedule to keep. And we were already behind. I don’t have time for this. (talk about a terrible way to inspire learning eh?)

So it was a blessing, and an answer to prayer, when Plan to Be Flexible: Designing a Homeschool Year and Daily Schedule that Works for your Family came my way. And I mean that. In the introduction alone I found myself nodding; my kids hearing me utter “Amen, Amen” periodically. My oldest was surprised by the title and I was shocked when he advised me that I should “plan to be flexible because I am so not flexible”.¬† Excuse me? lol¬† After careful reflection (I admit I had to get over the being offended a bit too) I realized that as much as I thought I was, and wanted to be, flexible, I was far from it. And it was taking its toll on all of us. As I read, in the first pages alone, it spoke so clearly and loudly to my heart…. My son and I do school right now, with clenched fists and teeth, its a struggle and no one is really getting anything lovely out of it. it is not inspiring or encouraging, it is the opposite. Already this book has given such a vision, a clarity as to what we must do as mommas, and daddys too, to grow a love and desire within our kids to know and seek and do …its about loving them, trusting Him and sharing the experience and journey together…..we may not always know how but when there are materials like this out there, we have a wonderful guide to walk along the way with us…

As I read there were many times I was challenged (really challenged) to think about what we are doing and why. This is a blessing if you are as burned out as we are; how important is us for us to remember why we chose this path in the beginning. I think often, just as in our walk with God, there are times we need to sit down and look what the Lord has already done. A reminder of those blessings; oil in our lamps to keep our fire burning. Focus on enduring to the end. Joyfully of course. For me this really reminded me of how important I believe home education to be; I as able to remember and meditate upon those scriptures which speak so loudly to me of where my children belong.

“I love the mental picture of a child as a rocket and a parent as the launching pad and ground crew. We parents are given the first 18 years to shape the future trajectory of our little ‚Äúrocket.‚ÄĚ What will we use to fuel up our kids so they can blast off toward their intended destiny with power and conviction? It‚Äôs not our job to aim our child where we want them to go, but instead, through the wisdom of God, help the child discern his natural talents and interests and then help point him in that direction. It is our job as parents to prepare, guide and to lead them on their journey.”

As I said there are many gems of wisdom and inspiration within this book. There have been moments of truth; times I have to admit that it is me who wants to do Shakespeare; he wants to learn guitar even though I want him to study piano. We did German because I chose it, he wanted to learn Mandarin Chinese. I said it was too hard. He stood his ground. What example do I set by telling him that one thing is too difficult, or that another just won’t work? How do I know?¬† Perhaps these things he desires to learn, that I see as impossible, silly even, are things that are a part of the path which the Lord has for him. The question is, can I let go enough, step out in faith, and see what the Lord will do?

So, I cannot resign myself to, as Alicia said “… an inordinate amount of effort barking at my squirmy boys to ‚Äúsit down‚ÄĚ ‚Äúpay attention‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúfinish the workbook‚ÄĚ while they moaned and groaned. this driven perfectionist felt shamed and humbled by homeschooling.” I was humbled. All my years of study, all my time as an educator, a social worker, a child development specialist…sigh

” I needed to back way off with school.” So say many veteran homeschoolers. Are they right? As one who almost needs to be organized and on schedule at all times….can I do this?

“It doesn‚Äôt matter that you are in the middle of the school year,‚ÄĚ they explained. ‚ÄúYou don‚Äôt want to hurt your relationships with your kids or destroy their love of learning. That is far more important than completing the expected tasks and satisfying school requirements.‚ÄĚ

Matthew 7:16: Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

How can I not do this? I worked through an amazing list of very thought provoking questions (the Appendix has an amazing list that covers anything you could imagine). These range from learning styles, to curriculum used, behavior (and not just the student but teacher too!) My oldest son and I talked; he “likes mom well enough as a teacher” but he admitted that he didn’t see the point to most of what we did each day He didn’t care for the things we were learning. He wanted to build and draw and write; he preferred to read and “do stuff” instead of just reading about it. And why not?

An end of the year date. Have you ever done this? I loved this idea Such detail was provided too – an excellent idea (cannot believe I did not think of it myself) particularly for my oldest son, who at almost nine, already needs his space. Already wants his opinions heard and considered. He is active and quick; curious about so any things. It amazes me that I have never before done something like this with him. And rather than planning it, we kind of just did it. While walking about the neighborhood. Of course in all of this I found that he really needed time to think about all I was asking. He needed to process and ponder a bit before we could really go further. And so as I was gardening the other day, and he was helping me too, we began talking about what bores him and what excites him. We have a lot of freedom in our state when it comes to home education so the sky is the limit in many ways. But he had so many wonderful ideas; creative ways to further his learning and I agreed to consider and pray on much of it, with my husband too, before we moved forward. If you want to more( I will be blogging our path, yesterday today and tomorrow, in the very near future so stay tuned). We are also going to be listing, as I mentioned once before, assessments of the past year and goals for the year to come. I promise I will go into way more detail here at a later date. ūüôā

Getting back to Plan to Be Flexible; I had to consider, what little we use, the curriculum needs to be the servant to the student’s learning needs, not the other way around. Another honest assessment to make before we move forward for the year. But have we ever considered this before? I mean, most of us are used to completing programs without a thought to whether or not the material learned was really understood Рcan they express how it applies in some way? Of course this is different depending on their age but there still needs to be some way that we can assure ourselves that they really got the concept being taught.  What about the teacher? Its a reminder that is gently couched within the pages of every chapter. What about the teacher? What are my goals, how am I living up to those goals? And how can I improve upon my abilities as a teacher and mom while also expanding my own interests, sharing them with my children (after all they love to share their passions with me, only fair I do the same right?).

Have I mentioned how much of a blessing this book has been to me? Honestly, whether you are totally new to this or a seasoned homeschooler, there is much wisdom and inspiration within these pages. I feel so blessed that I was able to review this one and that there are moms like Alicia out there who are eager to share all that they have learned. This book really offers us so much freedom when we read honestly and critically, when we willingly examine ourselves and our families with the determination to win the race. We are so free when we are in Christ. Homeschool should be no different. Let us walk in faith and in liberty as we homeschool as a family, together, with Jesus at the center of it all.

James 2:18: Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

May our homeschools be a place where we sow and reap a great harvest, for His glory ūüôā

 

 

Build Your Bundle Affiliate Program

I am SOOOOOO excited about joining the Build Your Bundle Affiliate Program!!!!

What is it you ask? Let me tell you:

The “Build Your Bundle” – Homeschool Edition Sale is designed to contain the best educational digital products on the internet! Sprinkled throughout the bundles are well known publishers, including products on Cathy Duffy’s Top 100 list!

Unlike overwhelming bundle sales with nearly a hundred ebooks, the “Build Your Bundle” – Homeschool Edition is a brand new concept that will allow homeschoolers to pick and choose what they want to purchase ~ all at a MASSIVE discount of up to 92% off!

As an afilliate:

  • You can earn 30% commission on your own sales and another 10% commission on sales for affiliates you recruit.
  • There will be focused bundles for the following: ¬†Tot/Prek, K-3, 4-6, Middle School, High School, Charlotte Mason, ¬†and Moms.
  • There will be an option to build your own bundles by picking the grades you want only as well as an option to build your own bundle.
  • These bundles are filled with products from well-known homeschool publishers, even some from Cathy Duffy‚Äôs Top 100 Picks!
  • The savings to your readers will be up to 92% off!

Singing … “AWESOME … ”

I usually am not one to promote this kind of thing but if you love your home education and “collect” stuff the way I do, you do not want to miss out on this one ūüôā

Sign up as an affiliate for the first ever “Build Your Bundle” – Homeschool Edition Sale and earn money, plus recruit affiliates to join with your unique link and earn off of their commissions too!

It’s not Working

Home education is tricky. Especially with my oldest son. We have no doubt this is what God called us to do for our children BUT the how – it’s becoming fuzzier as they get older and wiser. As they seek their own way.¬† I have been quite frustrated; trying to renew my mind. Think on a new way, a better way, for my oldest. And then I found this, hidden away on my shelf; back behind a bunch of other books (It’s amazing there is one I have not read, and that I never noticed missing! lol).

I love the title. I love how it says “growing…in the freedom of Christ.”¬† Now I admit I am not so knowledgeable when it comes to the method of unschooling. Honestly it always kind of struck me as a “by the seat of your pants” method with little structure and lots of chaos. So it was encouraging to read within these pages, what it really means. Especially to those seeking an education with Christ at the center of it all.

In the beginning we read about the dream we all may have, when we first begin this journey and how perfect and neat we imagine it to be. In reality:

“…still in her robe, trying to wipe the table free of crumbs while a sick toddler clings whining to her legs. After several false starts she finally gets all the children to the table which is still sticky with jam. Her six-year-old is clutching his paper airplanes, making loud whirring noises while flying reconnaissance missions over the juice his three- year-old sister has just spilled. After cleaning the juice she distracts the two youngest with a story tape then sets her eight-year-old with the poem he was supposed to copy last Monday. According to her teacher planning book, the one that has almost fallen apart from frequent erasing, they are one week behind. She sighs when she notices that her eight-year-old is tapping his pencil and staring out the window with a vacant look in his eyes. She reprimands him and they begin their tri-weekly fight over school work. She is demanding and cajoling and he is both defiant and defeated… they are both in tears and she sends him to his room. Her six-year-old looks up at her, ‚ÄúDo I have to do my handwriting,‚ÄĚ he asks.‚ÄĚ Tired of arguing she shakes her head no and he happily scampers off to play with his airplanes. ‚ÄúLord,‚ÄĚ she asks silently, ‚Äúwhy is this so hard? I was so sure that you wanted me to homeschool my children. They are so obedient in so many things, why is our school such a struggle?‚ÄĚ

I would be lying if I said we never had this experience. Too many mornings are like this, as of late, in our home. In many ways to me, it only goes to show that what we are doing just is not working. For any of us. We need children to grow up learning to love the process. Seeking on their own opportunities to learn about the things that intrigue them. How to find the information; different ways to communicate and solve problems when they arise. This is not happening now.

And so I am reading. And considering. Trying to wrap my mind around something that sounds so fabulous, so free and exciting and real. Because that is what I believe learning should be. It should be something that is alive and active; something we look forward to. Sure there will still be challenges and struggles now and then. Yet if we are really learning, if we are involved and it is a part of our life, those difficult times will not be so bad. We will take ownership of it; we will (In time) embrace those challenges knowing that we will overcome.

The Lord created each one of us uniquely; why do we buy into the lie that there is only one way we can learn? Unschooling, interest-led learning- this can allow so much if we have faith; if we come into all things with a bit of humility. (Matt 18:3) Surely we must teach them diligently (Deuteronomy 6:7) We are responsible for nurture and admonishment of the Lord. We can be most diligent indeed as we learn and walk with our children; seeking out opportunities, mentors, creative opportunities.

I seek only Christ as my example. It is true, Christ was with His disciples ALWAYS> They did everything together; they ate and slept and walked and talked, worked and listened. They lived with Him and this was what allowed them to be so much like Him; to walk so closely in His steps. This is how they developed the power and the gifts the Lord blessed them with, so fully.

I pray for the Lord to open my eyes as I read and to open my heart and enlarge my faith, not just in Him but in my children. In my abilities. As I read, please do share your experiences. I will blog some more in a few days, as I complete the next chapter in this lovely book. Seeking nothing but a greater way to grow in Christ, and the freedom we have.

A Day in Our Homeschool

EEME ~ Lightbulb!!

My husband is an electrical engineer ~ He believes in the importance of learning about electronics. (me? not so much.) But both of my boys (4 and 8) are quite curious about how things work; when there are tools out they have to be there. They want to tear it apart and put it back together again (or try to anyway) Critical thinking. Problem solving. Electricity. Quite the combination. ūüôā

Enter EEME ~ Online lessons and simple electronics project kits for kids. This is an electronics project/curriculum for kids 7-12. And how exciting to have the chance to try one out ourselves.

For so many, like myself, there just isn’t anything out there to help teach something like this. I am mostly unable to wrap my mind about concepts like this; it is harder for me to get the hang of anything technical really. And my husband works – makes for late nights and cranky kids if we try to wait for him. And even then, so much more needs to go into the what and how and why…Neither of us has the time to create something like that.

EEME offers online videos¬† with a 5 month project subscription. Every month for 5 months, you receive a kit in the mail. Using the videos online, you learn about the basics of electronics and build a neat project too. ūüôā

EEME has some really fun freebies you can access on their site too. There is the virtual LED circuit project; using your web browser, you play and build an LED circuit. The other is a series of videos about a multimeter, an essential tool in electronics (who knew?).

 

We received a Project Genius Light “an intelligent light circuit system that automatically lights up in the dark, and dims when it is bright – How cool is that!!¬† The project kit comes with all the materials needed to build the Genius Light (a breadboard, resistors, circuits, LEDs, battery). Ours was the Pro subscription plan version of Project Genius Light so we received an enclosure cover, nuts and thumb screws –¬† the more economical Basic plan¬† does not include these but both plans have identical educational experience!

My boys love flashlights and nightlights….This was such a perfect project for them to receive!¬† ūüôā

Now I have to admit, this was over my head. We opened this one up right away (after being on vacation for a week maybe my thinking cap was not on right yet too) so I put my husband and my son’s grandpa in charge of this one. Supervising the boys (* & 4) of course. After we logged in and were “in” the online curriculum they laid all the materials out. We had to make sure the boys knew what it all was. As we went through the videos, I noticed my oldest, he wandered a lot. One of the reasons we re home educators. My day dreamer, he has a difficult time focusing on many things for a long time and the videos were quite intense for him .I have to say though grandpa and my other son (4) were fascinated. My husband *the electrical engineer) said it was a bit too involved for our boys. (My 4 year old disagrees haha)

This was a day project to ensure that my oldest could really get it. There is a lot involved but the videos are excellent (I watched myself) The details and steps for the project are very simply laid out and you see it being done. We did a lot of pausing, a lot of “rewinding” and repeating of things. But that is okay. It is all a part of learning. Especially something as complex as this. I do say though EEME really knows how to make it easier, more tangible. I mean where else can a four year old really get a chance to learn and get hands on experience with electronics? And build his own light too!

It is wonderful that we parents don’t need to know anything about electronics to do these projects, everything is in the videos. My kids were excited to see this arrive in the mail and while it was a rocky time, we really enjoyed learning together. It is amazing what they can do when they have the opportunity (and us moms too!) We will definitely be enjoying more of these projects ourselves as our boys get older. This really sparked a deeper curiosity about “how it all works” and brought about quite engaging conversation too. Did I mention, there are quizzes at the end of each bit just to make sure we all really understood what was being taught. Nice!

Having now built their own light, their first real project there is a joy to the struggles and the time involved, the hands on, it really makes the learning stick. And I think gives them a greater appreciation of the need for perseverance and endurance in learning. Something new. And meaningful.

Sign up to build a virtual electronics circuit and preview the video courseware for our physical hands-on projects for FREE at: http://www.eeme.co/virtual-electronics-project.

EEME also offers monthly subscriptions for electronics project kits. Each subscription comes with a new kit every month complete with all the electronic components needed to build a new project. In fact this is such an awesome company that they are offering a promotion of up to 25% off the 1st month – starting at $13.95 for the Basic Plan (does not include project cover or hardware) if you sign up using this link: http://www.eeme.co/rf/worthabowedhead5off

Each month’s project builds on the previous month’s knowledge and interactive quizzes reinforce kids’ understanding of the why’s and the how’s. This is a way to provide a curricula that will teach kids the fundamentals of electronics, while fostering their curiosity and critical thinking skills.

There are two plans they offer, starting at $18.95 per month.

 

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https://www.facebook.com/projecteeme

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