To get ready to celebrate the new Millennium in our home we decided to first take a look at past history. We decided to do it with a timeline. We strung a piece of string from one side of a wall to the other. We used small clothesline clips to attach 3 by 5 cards. on the cards we put dates as markers. Such as 1000 AD, 1100 AD, etc.
For added fun we made a miniature model of a hot air balloon by painting a lightbulb and decorating it with ribbons. We attached a wire to it so that it would hang on our timeline and show the time period in which we were visiting. Each child got to take turns choosing a time period.
When we picked a time period we did not go into a lot of depth on the subject. We would discuss some of the main events that happened during that time and do one activity that went along with it. We got a lot of our timeline information from internet sites. Then we would draw a picture of the event on another 3 by 5 card and attach it under the date marker with a paper clip.
In doing this we are ending up with a colorful reminder of our history so that we can look forward to our future!
It is intriguing to me what can be accomplished, even when home school is officially out for the summer.
Our nature enthusiasts, Gideon, 8, and Benjamin, 5, had taken me on many turtle hunts near our farmhouse in Washington state, with no luck. Praying about it, Gideon finally captured an orange spotted painted turtle. Soon after, we found ourselves on an adventure: we moved to Arkansas. The boys loved getting to know many new creatures: armadillos, fireflies, ground hogs, slugs, giant beetles, crawdads, many new insects, even a skunk. Our animal encyclopedias were in constant use. They found the remains of turtle shells, and then discovered a box turtle, who they studied closely for five days. ""Box"" was scared and stayed hidden in his shell whenever the boys got near. He also did not eat. Two weeks later, we found another they named "Friendly Ted," who allowed the boys to hold him, stroke his head, and feed him lettuce from their hands.
Teaching Gideon to use the card catalog at the library, we found a reptile field guide and read all about turtles and snakes. We identified states on maps which told us where the different species lived. On his own, Gideon got out his dadís 25 ft. tape measure, and discovered just how big that python was if it was all stretched out. The boys both learned about measuring in inches, feet, yards, centimeters, and meters.
During all of this, their Aunt just happened to send them a book, "The Practical Entomologist." It was a perfect book to further excite their curiosity. On one of our library trips, Gideon picked out a fascinating video on turtles. He also brought home "Minn of the Mississippi," by Holling C. Holling, a delightful story that follows the travels of a snapping turtle. We read this together and even older brother who isnít that much into critters, listened in. We learned about some U.S. geography from this book, too.
Gideon entered a contest in a childrenís newsletter by writing an account of his summer activities, including his wildlife observations. He also answered a pen pal request and wrote a letter about his discoveries and interests in nature.
Being very artistic, Gideon drew numerous pictures during these summer months of insects, turtles, and underwater scenes. With my suggestion, he started a scrapbook for his nature drawings, and wrote titles and captions to explain them. He was inspired to view a collection of shells on display at the library, owned by a ninth grade boy. We read up on their favorite shells. Their Dad divided up his old seashell collection among our four boys, which they arranged in a new showcase in the living room. Out came the field guide on shells, and the 25 foot rule. "Wow, that Giant Conch gets to be this big!"
The boys went rock collecting and compared specimens to a book on rocks and minerals. When their Grandpa visited recently, together they picked out many new additions to their collections. And what a thrilling experience it was for us all when we were invited to visit Hurricane River Cave!
Earlier in the summer, we picked wild flowers on our daily neighborhood walk, and made nature notecards from dried flowers and leaves. Another display at the library detailed exquisitely painted Arkansas wild flowers by a local artist.
Many biblical and scientific discussions took place, including talking to God, how God answers prayers, the story of creation, the beauty of nature, clean and unclean animals, food chains, taxonomy classifications, and animal reproduction.
As I look back over the past two months I am amazed at the learning that has taken place with almost no planning from me. A love for nature, curiosity, a few supplies, and a shared enthusiastic interest from Mom and Dad provided a wonderful home (summer) school education for two young brothers. It makes me wonder if I could have ever planned anything better!
-From my journal, Fall, 1997
Every mother needs to deal with the challenges of a winterful of cold weather but surely a homeschooling mother has a bigger challenge in this area than her "schooling" counterpart since homeschooled children are necessarily at home so much more than kids who are in school all day! to my mind a homeschooling familyís entire winter "survival" comes down to Momís resourcefulness and ability to keep the children not just busy but inspired!
Here are some examples of what I do to keep our family life fourishing during the winter: In regard to studies, sometime in January I "vote" everybody a new spiral notebook or two, some new pencils, maybe a new pair of scissors, new workboods for the kids that like them, a new poster for the toddler...! My actual cash outlay is minimal but our kids sure get fired up about these purchases! The truth is our kids seem to do their most serious research and study in the winter!
Office supply stores are actually a great boon for any family. I call them "idea factories!" You would not believe what our kids have come up with, using paper clips or rubber bands, rubber date stamps or even boring old white round stickers! One year I bought a pack of clear plastic report covers for myself, the kind that come with rigid narrow plastic spines. Since I only needed two report covers I gave the remaining four to the children. The first thing the kids discovered was that the spines made terriffic kazoos! Next they tried using them for straws. Finally our 7 and 10 year olds launched right into major book making projects!
Though we use the public library all year round, I probably get more involved in overseeing what the children read in the winter than in any other season for the simple reason that during the winter everybody is indoors so much and prone to read more. Of course I love seeing children read but I do not want reading to become just another way to use up the day. Asa result, during the winter, I take a more active role in encouraging project books, craft books or specific research.
When the cold and/or wet and wind make it too uncomfortable to work or play outside I have to admit I get very liberal about what I will allow indoors. I think nothing of letting the children bring in lumber, saws, drills...to work on their carpentry pjrojects. Rollerskating indoors on our hardwood floors, bringing plastic lawnmowers or toddler bikes and wagons are all acceptable to me too if "times are tough." If on one of my regular thrift store "tours" I see a plastic stove or workbench or some other "wonder" at a really el cheapo price I will most probably buy it and bring it into the house for our two youngest ones though, come spring, I will probably get rid of it!
"Pool time" is a strategy that I refularly use during the winter when one of the younger kids is having a "meltdown" over something! The idea is to have the child with the breakdown go get his/her swimsuit and take a bath! I donít know exactly why but there is just something inherently exciting about getting bathing suits out in the middle of the winter! Toddlers may need some supervision but in general children up to the age of about 9 seem to really go for this idea!
Check this out for getting really zany! One year one of the children got the idea of moving our living room furniture inot the dining room and our dining room furniture into the living room! Somehow or other we endid uup renaming all the rooms! for example, the living room became the "Great Hall." The dining room became "The Chapel," the basement, "The Storehouse." The funny part about this was that since at the time most of our children still had to be told that the living room wa the room with the sofa, this game set everybody back at least two years as far as learning the proper names of each room since we left this new arrangement in place for about six months! But what a ball we all had!
Fort making is a great "winter sport!" Some of our best indoor forts have involved 3-5 of our children as well as just about every piece of movable furniture in the living room along with all the sheets and blankets that could be foraged! such a big undertaking may take an hour to construct and then consume at least another hour as some play scenario evolves and then thirty minutes or so to clean uup and put things away!
In our house, cardboard still has what I would call a universal appeal. While the older children may make armor or stables or doll beds out of cardboard our younger ones delight in simply filling up a box with their toys or blocks or whatever. If the box is big enough of course, our 2 and 4 year olds will "get aboard" and push each other around or even make a house if they are lucky enough to have landed a really big box!
Here are a bunch of other ideas I use to keep cabin fever at a distance: a new box of watercolors, some new modelling clay, apprenticing a younger child to an older one in order to learn how to bake the familyís favorite cookies, suggesting that a teen consider volunteering some time at a nursing home or the library or offer to do some house cleaning for an elderly neighbor, establishing a new storytime that will draw all the kids together.
If there is a break in the weather and I have the energy and time for it, I take everybody to either a new park or some "family favorite." Usually the place is deserted. If the grass is wet then itís soccer in the parking lot time! If itís dry under foot then itís off to the woods and a walk along the trails. In general I steer away from the slide and swings etc. Our kids are into adventure and jplay much more than back and forth play on this or that poiece of equipment! In fact sometimes they will even come "dressed up" to play a specific kind of game in the woods. For example, if the theme is Indians, they will wear mocassins and bring their bows (no arrows) and quivers! If I am really revved I will even go so far as to bring charcoal and hotdogs and do a cookout, maybe even invite another family to go with us if I want company!
The whole idea of sharing all these ideas for winter fun is to stir up homeschooling families to get creative about how to deal with winter blahs. Every family is different. Imitating us will just not do! Really when you get right down to it, itís just not enough for us homeschooling moms to administer someone elseís educational program or even develop our own, no matter how "alternative" it is! What we want to do, it seems to me, is to lead/inspire/model a lifestyle of learning, creating, inventing, doing...that will cause our children to catch "the flame," the vision, for their own discovery, inquiry and fun!
Make this winter a new eperience for the whole family! If you have a writer in your brood consider doing a family scrap book or journal to document the whole adventure!
Editorís Note: Carolyn and her husband, Fred, have six children, and have been homeschooling since 1988.The above article was used with permission and taken from her self-published book,"Beyond Homeschooling." In this enjoyable book, Carolyn shares inspiring ideas and educational hurdles drawn from her own familyís experiences with launching into "unschooling." It is available for $7 ppd. Write to: Carolyn Ellis, 1109 Hilltop Drive, Irving, Texas 75060
We have been homeschooling for five years now. Our three daughters, April-16, Erin-13, and Emma-12, have learned and grown so much in that time. We subscribe to the philosophy that education is a life-long adventure, not to be bound by calendars or clocks or textbooks. We have always practiced "Relaxed Homeschooling" to coin Mary Hoodís phrase. Little did we know in the fall of Ď98 that the coming school year would prove to be the biggest challenge our family has ever faced.
Since the Spring of 1988 I have had ongoing health problems that have had me in and out of dozens of doctors offices. Most doctors had little answers as to what was causing the constant increasing pain I was experiencing in both my legs. I had numerous orthopedic surgeries as a child but still nothing explained the pain.
Even after we began to homeschool, the pain and the frequent doctorís appointments never seemed to interrupt our daily routine. The girls would fill their backpacks with their dayís lessons and weíd enjoy a picnic lunch somewhere along the way. Sometimes the trip would turn into a field trip when the physical therapist would give us a tour of the facility and share with us about her job.
But by the summer of Ď98 my pain began to be unbearable and my legs were getting weaker and weaker, greatly affecting my ability to walk. There were more and more days when I couldnít get out of bed for the pain. But on those days the girls just curled up in bed with me and we would take turns reading stories together or acting out our favorite plays.
By the fall I was relying more and more on a wheelchair and spending much of my days in bed. We began our homeschool year on the first Monday of September as we always did and by the grace of God were able to maintain an almost normal routine.
But in December after numerous tests I was diagnosed with a degenerative spinal chord disease called "Syringomyelia." With this disease there are pockets of fluid (called Syrinx) that form in the spinal chord. They can grow and move their way through the spinal chord destroying all nerves in its path. The only chance for a cure was a serious operation in which the doctors would open my spinal column, locate the "Syrinx" and drain the fluid from them. There were also risks with this operation. One is that further damage could be done to the spinal chord causing paralysis and the other was that the draining would not be successful and the Syrinx would react to the stimulation by GROWING.
Our family had a lot to pray about! We were honest with the girls from the beginning. We told them what disease I had, what effects it could have on my future and also about the surgery and its risks. We spent much time together in prayer. The Lord says that "the prayers of a righteous man availeth much." It wasnít long before we came together as a family in agreement, with perfect peace about having the surgery.
I love the verse in Phillipians 4:6-7 that says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (NIV) There is no greater feeling than that peace that passes all human understanding that assures us that we are carrying out Godís Will.
I had the surgery on January 14, 1999. Typical for this spinal chord surgery, I experienced tremendous pain for which I was heavily sedated for the first week. After three weeks I was transferred to a rehabilitation facility where I stayed until April 16th. Here I underwent hours and hours of grueling physical therapy, relearning to walk, climb steps and simply steady myself standing in one position.
But even through all those difficult months separated from my family, Godís perfect peace stayed with me. I had long, quiet hours alone when I read the scripture and prayed, drawing closer to my Lord than I had ever been before. It was almost as if I could feel His breath upon by cheek as I prayed or hear His voice replying to my prayers. I know without a doubt that this was His plan all along. In the attempt to be healed physically I was being restored spiritually like never before.
And our homeschooling? It never skipped a beat! All day on Saturdays and Sundays my husband and daughters spent the day at the hospital with me. The girls brought all their books and assignments and we would look through the weekís work that they had done independently. Both my husband and I would work with each of the girls on problem areas such as math or grammar, give spelling tests and read together. My hospital room looked more like a messy classroom! We would order in pizzas and soda and enjoy the time that we had to be together. Then on Sunday afternoon I would begin making lists of independent assignments that I wanted each of the girls to complete by the next weekend. The children stayed with my sister-in-law and she worked with them each day as they needed help and they were always free to call me on the phone as often as they liked.
Looking back now I can see how much we have grown as a family and as individuals through all this. My daughters learned the "three Rís" that school year, but they learned so much more! They learned things that cannot be measured or analyzed on a piece of paper or a standardized test. They learned that families stick together and they take their needs to God. They learned that life isnít always easy but they also learned that God has a purpose even for the difficult times.
If I had to choose ONE lesson that I would want my family to have learned from this experience, it would be this: "I am the vine and you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart form me you can do nothing" John 15:5 (NIV)
Our experience could have been much different. But I thank God for the peace that we had to make that decision. And I thank Him for giving us the strength to continue with the tasks at hand. Apart from Him we couldnít have made it through.
If your family is facing trials now that cause you to question your ability to continue with your homeschooling, stop and get on your knees. Seek His perfect peace. And realize that without Him you can NOT continue! But at His side you WILL bear much fruit.
Visit Denice's web site "Living Beyond Adversity" at: http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Pointe/2966
Yes, I get one word in the English Language that is just MINE! Binderized! On the Charlotte Mason Internet Loop, I have acquired the loving name of "The Binder Queen." Cute huh? Well, you can become a Binder Queen too! As a matter of fact, when you see all that you can do with one of those three-ring binders, I guarantee that you will be sold!
Each year, our family spends more money on three-ring notebooks and page protectors than we spend on curriculum! I doubt we will ever have enough...much less too many binders in our homeschool! If you are not Binderized, you are missing a key learning tool in the home! BUT, I will not let you miss this bug biting at your heels...letís look at this teaching tool!
Notebooking is for everyone! Notebooks are adaptable for every style of learning. Any child can be captured by their interests! Even the busiest child will love using their skills to collect information on their favorite topic! Every learner flourishes when studying areas of delight regardless of their learning style!
Notebooking reflects the interests, individuality and strengths of each child. The child may be more artistic...using natural inclinations in their notebook. The child may be more literary...using skills in a fun way. The child may be more interested in collecting things such as memorabilia, pictures, and nature specimens, but need a place to keep their collections! These interests and strengths can be nurtured (instead of allowed to lay dormant!) with the use of notebooks!
Notebooking develops a habit of writing and recording from childhood! They learn how to draw out of themselves thoughts, ideas, and information. They learn how to record that information into a valuable product. This habit does more to instill a love of learning and a love of writing than mounds of information poured into the child could ever do! Notebooking prepares the child for more serious study and research that is necessary in the latter years of life regardless of calling or profession. Notebooking encourages self-government. The child learns to govern himself. He learns the value of setting his own standards for his work...excellence, neatness, volume, and so on. In turn, the child develops more than a Notebook, he develops his own character! He develops initiative, attentiveness, perseverance, excellence, diligence, and patience. The child learns that the standard is determined by his own improvement...by his own obedience...by his own excellence of quality!
When beginning to use binders for Notebooking, just keep one general notebook containing all of the various work projects. As you see a subject developing into itís own notebook of interest, take it from the general notebook and make a notebook of its own. Matthew (my son) divided his binders this year into many different topics: Poetry, General History, Military History, Civil War History, Bible Verses, Book of Centuries (timeline), Science, Scouts, Godís World Papers...so on! This is as a result of many years of Copywork and study on these areas of interest...child-led not teacher-directed. He does not work in each notebook each day...just one passage of Copywork per day and it adds up! The focus is not on the volume of notebooks or on trying to have any (or lots of) specific topics for the notebooks. The focus is on learning to use skills and learning tools to encourage a lifestyle of delight-directed learning! The purpose is to learn skills so that the writing delight will grow naturally!
Allow your children to work back and forth on different notebooks. "Real" writers need this change of pace and so will your children. If they seem to get frustrated with one topic and a breather does not bring back the passion, encourage them to bring the notebook to a quick completion. The children need to develop delight but not at the expense of their character. The habit of boredom and dawdling results when the child is forced over and over to do work that is not from the heart. Teach them to complete all that they start in an excellent way while doing their work from the heart! This habit will run over in all areas of learning therefore encouraging a love of learning!
Let Notebooking become a natural part of life. Recording may be encouraged at the beginning, but let it become their personal journal and scrapbook! They may work in a notebook every day or just a few times a month depending on their interest on that topic! Just remember to use Notebooking as a tool for encouraging your young writers. Make up Notebooks just for your own family and their needs. There is no certain way to do the "right" notebook/sketchbook except your own way for your family!
The above article was used with permission and taken from Language Arts... the Easy Way!, by Cindy Rushton. These are available from Rushton Family Ministries, 1225 Christy Lane, Tuscumbia, AL 35674. Visit Cindy's's web site "Time For Tea" at: http://www.utmost-way.com/bookfair/bftime4tea.htm
The bright sun sparkles as it filters |
through the curtains.
They wake up with smiles and cheery voices
eager to start the coming day.
And my little one is busy stacking shoes
in our waste can.
Garbage emptied, floor is cleaned, beds are
Unison voices, sweet to my ears,
No gripes, complaints or grumpy smirks,
The science project roared to life
We have always homeschooled and are very thankful for this privilege. My heartís desire is to help others who the Lord has called to this ministry and as a result we publish a newsletter (TEACH) to encourage other homeschoolers. We have traveled a long road in our homeschool journey. Beginning with a potpourri of choices, trying curriculums and unit studies, we finally arrived home to a Lifestyle of Learning.
Our arrival home began by reading Barb Sheltonís book, "Jumpstart Navigator," and then Marilyn Howshallís, "Wisdomís Way of Learning." After reading these I finally understood that teaching is NOT a matter of me taking what I know and in some way putting it into them. The best way to learn is NOT for the children to remain passive while I teach. This results in "learning" just enough to pass the test after which it is soon forgotten. True education happens when the student gathers the knowledge for himself.
Now their interests are no longer an extra to be looked into after we get through the important things - academics. Instead they have become the core of our school. Now we follow Biblical principles instead of following programs. We have come home to homeschooling.
TEACH ("To Encourage And Challenge Homeschoolers") is a 35 page quarterly magazine full of encouragement and practical advice for educators. See us at http://www.homeschoolteachingtools.com
Consider doing science rather than reading it. A workbook / text may have good information and can be a starting place, but to be learned, science needs to be done.
If insects is one of the units - collect them, classify them, draw insects... One of the most memorable things our class did was to create our own insects. Remembering the qualities that make an insect, each student drew a picture of his own creation and then wrote a page about it - what made it an insect, its habits, what was unique about it, what it ate, etc. We had some of the most incredible insects (thankfully God didnít use some of their ideas - 600 pound insects!!) Make a game. Design a path gameboard. Write questions about insects on index cards. In order to move, you must answer a question first. Get lots of books on the subject at the library, even if you just look at the pictures. Check to see if your library has any videos on the subject (one of the libraries in our county even carries the Moody Institute Series!!)
Science is a great spring board for Unit Studies. So many of the things you will be doing while studying science support other subjects. Reading, of course. Social studies (learning locations, habitats, biographies of naturalists). Creative writing. Classification, counting, and sorting, fit with math skills as well as the logic involved. I always looked on science as the area where we could have the most fun and freedom...
I like to make homemade educational games. I have made over 700 games for my children. These are card games, board games, bingo, tic-tac-toe, etc., covering every subject from bible to math to science to spelling, and so on. Now my children are 28, 17, and 14. I have less need of these games, although my two youngest do still like them. So, I make them for others. It is something I finally found that I am good at. I find it so relaxing.
The reason I most like to teach people to make games for their own children is that then the game is exactly right for the child. The parent selects the skill at the precise level the child needs, choosing a type of game the child likes to play. When these two elements are put together... Presto...an educational game that the child will play and learn.
Teaching Young Children...
I believe in the unschooling method for young children and the value of letting them learn at their own pace. However, I also see the value of a schedule and some routine. Truly I believe it is a matter of balance. Also, I have seen the importance of meeting the needs and styles of learning of the child. I donít know all the fancy terms for these things and I donít feel a parent needs to know the name for these things. They only need to love their child and provide an environment for the learning process to happen.
Mary, a single mom, has homeschooled since 1984, except for a four year period she taught in a Christian school. She has started a business making and selling game kits (that you complete). She has a big selection of inexpensive, fun and educational games. Sheíll also make a customized game for you, to fit your needs.Write to her at: 7179 Russet Rd., Sun Prairie, WI, 53590
This is a true story about a little boy who is in preschool. He loves the work and is proud of his papers which he pastes on the wall in his room for all to see.
One day the teacher made up a test for the class and after it was over she said all the children who did not get over a certain percentage of the test correct, had to leave the room and the other children were going to get ice cream.
When the ice cream came, he and two other little children were led out of the classroom and into a room by themselves because they did not meet the standards set by the principal.
When he got home crying, he started to tear up all his papers from school. His mother asked him why he was crying and tearing up all his school papers when he liked going to school learning, and he related what happened.
His mother made an appointment with the teacher to tell her how sordid it is for professional people to do this to little children. She was told it is policy instituted by the principal.
My wife and I think it is a terrible thing to do to any group of people let alone little children under six years of age. I guess this is some of the reason for home schooling to be getting so much attention nowadays.
Editorís Note: The boy Mr. Fallon speaks of is his five year old grandson. This took place in a public school in Eustis, Florida. The little boyís mother told me that the principal told her this policy was initiated to motivate students to achieve higher test scores, but in her sonís case, it backfired. It didnít matter that her son did exceptionally well in school all month, but because he didnít perform to the principalís specifications this particular testing day (he could only count to 50, instead of to 100) he was escorted out of the room, and denied a treat with his classmates. The principal declined to change her policy. Perhaps she is more interested in test scores than encouraging a natural desire to learn.
Traditions can be good or bad, true or false. As Christian believers we want to pass down a Godly heritage to our children and grandchildren. We want more for them in Godly character than we were raised with. We want principles and values to stay in their hearts and minds wherever the Father might lead them in this life on earth and a blessing of eternal life for them hereafter.
Manís traditions can be pagan and self-seeking and of these we want no part. The traditions in II Thessalonians 2:15 - "that ye have been taught" are the Christ-like character that we should be teaching our children daily - and what a task that can be. As a homeschooling mother of four boys and two girls, I see the challenge every day of teaching this kind of character. It brings moments of both tears and laughter watching events in our home take place.
Seven years ago, we started a tradition in our home that has brought us closer as a family and taught many lessons of giving and self-sacrifice. The month of November, being Thanksgiving, harvesting ended and schooling begun, we settle into a routine and take time to make crafts and gifts for one another. As our gifts are limited to our abilities, there is not big expectations amongst the children. As Christmas always brought a "Gimme, Gimme" "I want, I want" attitude; making gifts for a member or two of the family to show our love and thankfulness to God for them, brings more of an excitement to give than to receive. The children love to make things and they are excited to share them and see the reaction on their siblingís face. As little children, the gifts are usually a picture or bookmark or maybe a rock paperweight or nutmix for Dad. The older children learn a new skill each year and we are continually amazed at the clever ideas and creations they come up with.
Before our Thanksgiving Feast, Dad reads some Scriptures and we sing a song or two. Each one shares their gift and tells why he/she is especially thankful for that person. It has become a very special time for us and created many family memories and learning experiences. Something made with our hands is so much more special than something store-bought. Your own time and thought and creativity goes into it. The wrappings are nothing fancy. Newspaper or a pillowcase suffice just fine.
This year Dad announced at breakfast that we were to spend our day outside in the snow building a clubhouse for all the Engell children to enjoy. As the turkey cooked all day inside, we were outside gathering logs and dragging them out of the woods, peeling, digging holes, laughing, crying, teasing, getting angry over "little" things. Frustrated because everything takes so much longer than we think it should.
By the end of the day we had four poles up and a few boards nailed on. "Oh well, thereís always next Thanksgiving" Andrew teased. But the memories and gift of togetherness will last a lifetime. We sure did work up an appetite too! It felt so good to sit down in a warm house and eat a hearty meal with a grateful heart and abounding blessings that our Heavenly Father so graciously gives us.
I pray these family traditions will keep the Scriptures of giving, gratefulness and unselfishness firm in the hearts of our children that they will stand fast and hold to the traditions which they have been taught.
When I want to teach my younger children something that they need to memorize, such as our phone number, address, months of the year, days of the week, Scriptures, numbers, alphabet, etc., we meet each morning after chores, breakfast and Bible reading for what we call THE CIRCLE OF LEARNING. It is announced much as a game show is announced - with drama and flair. The children love it and always come running immediately.
We sit in a circle, Indian-style, with our hands in our laps, and I start the circle by saying what it is weíre learning. One at a time, around the circle, they each take a turn at repeating what Iíve said. If they need prompting often, thatís fine. Thereís no outspoken competition and though they might feel a little competitive, no one has ever commented on who learns fastest or best. In fact, they are quick to clap for each other. Thatís the example Iíve set in THE CIRCLE OF LEARNING, and itís been a pleasure to see how quickly theyíve picked it up.
The reason we sit Indian-style with hands in our laps is to keep order. My children like to "pick at" and pester each other, but the posture I require of them eliminates that. Something that helps them remember to stay seated correctly is miniature marshmallows. They all receive three of them at the end of each session unless they break posture. Then I will take away marshmallows as each situation calls for. That may seem silly, but those three marshmallows are a BIG DEAL to the little ones and is part of what makes the Circle method so fun.
Itís important to remember that once a child has memorized what it is youíre teaching him/her, you will need to review it from time to time. Zeke, who could count to 30 when he was three, couldnít when he was four. Thatís when I learned that review is not just important, itís vital. Sometimes my two teens join with us to help or just for fun. If you only have one or two children, get daddy or friends in on the act. The more the merrier!
Excerpted from "Train up a Child," Volume 1 Issue 2 from Songs for His People.
Everyone is familiar with Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." According to Webster's, to train up means to educate, to teach, to form by instruction or practice, to bring up.
Another favorite Scripture is Deuteronomy 6: 6-7, which says, "And these words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart, and thou shall teach them diligently unto thy children and shall talk of them when thou sittist in thine house and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." How can parents diligently train, educate, teach, and instruct their children if they send them off to someone else for six to ten hours a day?
From these verses it would certainly seem that it is Yahwehís plan for the parents to teach the children that He has entrusted them with. Raising children is a ministry, and little ones certainly have many needs that we can minister to.
Training requires a great deal of consistency and repetition. You canít expect to just tell them once and remember.
One of the greatest tools in the training of children is music. Maybe that is why God said to teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. He knew that we would be more likely to remember something that is set to music...
Children just canít seem to hear enough stories and songs. Thatís great because stories and songs make learning fun for everyone. Here are some new lyrics to a familiar old tune. It kind of gives new meaning to the words "train up a child." This song will surely keep us on track and help us to conduct ourselves properly.
|1.|| Iíve been working in the Kingdom -- |
All the live long day!
Iíve been working in His Kingdom --
Not to pass the time away.
Teach you children His Commandments:
All Godís Laws Obey!
When youíve grown, received your training,
you will never stray!
|2.|| You will never stray. You will always stay... |
On the straight and narrow way. Straight way!
One can rest assured. You will not be lured
From the straight and narrow way!
|3.|| Hal-le-lu-jah! Glory, Hal-le-lu-jah! |
Hal-le-lu-jah! Glory, and Praise to Yahweh!
Hal-le-lu-jah! Glory, Hal-le-lu-jah!
All Godís Laws obey!
|4.|| You shall have no other Gods; |
Make not an idol or graven image.
You shall not vainly call Yahweh.
But, Holy, Keep the Sabbath Day.
|5.|| Listen now children one and all, |
Here is God's commandment number five:
"Honor thy father & mother,
That you may have long lives."
|6.|| Murder: Donít commit. Adultery: Donít do it! |
Neither shall you rob or steal. Get real!
Neighbor, do not bear, false witness if you care;
And covet not your neighborís field.
|7.|| Iíve been working in the Kingdom-- |
All the live long day!
Prepare you children for His Kingdom--
Not to pass your time away.
Teach you children His Commandments:
All Godís Laws Obey!
As you grow, receive your training,
you will never stray!
Our three year old, Miranda Ruth, was being so sweet and helpful to me that I was, at one point, moved to tears. I told her she was a blessing to me and that I wanted to bless her, too. Her eyes lit up. I took her hand and led her to my school supply closet, where among a lot of practical stuff, I had a package of Wal-mart stickers (1400 for $3). I told her to choose any sticker she wanted and to wear it to remind her that she is precious to Mama. She was beaming! She was blessed! It was wonderful!
Thatís when I came up with "The Blessing Book." Obviously, itís more of a card than a book, but it could easily be made differently to form a book if desired.
Sometimes it seems that most of my conversation during the day with my children is, "Donít do that, please," "Not now, wait Ďtill Mamaís done with...," "Why havenít you finished your chores?," etc. It takes a concentrated effort to remember to catch them being sweet, sharing, helpful, etc. Knowing that they have "Blessing Books" to encourage them to behave well (and the fact that I have posted on my refrigerator the word "BLESSINGS") helps me to remember to comment on their kindness and helps them to remember to be a blessing.
This has turned out to be such a sweet thing for us. I love the varying situations that prompt me to bring out one of the childrenís Blessing Books - and the looks on their faces as they choose a sticker and decide where to put it. PRECIOUS!!
Each sticker in this book means that I|
was a blessing to someone in my
family. Maybe I did a great job on my
chores or schoolwork, or did them without
complaining. Maybe I shared or was
very kind or helpful to someone. Maybe
I told the truth when it would have been
easy to lie. Iím happy to be a blessing!
This little BLESSING book|
belongs to this little blessing:
In the ten years of homeschooling I have tried many different techniques, schedules, text books, etc. and a couple of the most important things Iíve learned are - Homeschooling doesnít work if I donít give it a 100% commitment and it doesnít work if there isnít consistent structure, order, discipline, logic and reason to what we're doing. Basic, right!? You know what? I have to relearn this every year.
The last eight years have been very difficult with a pregnancy and new baby to school through every two to two and one-half years. Pregnancy reduces me to a totally fatigued lump on the couch that knows what it means to take things "one day at a time." New babies are wonderful, precious gifts to our family - and wonderful, precious gifts require great care and another 100% commitment. Thatís two 100% commitments coming from one very, very human wife/mother/teacher. God is good and merciful. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
The Millers are an eleven year homeschooling, single income family of eight. Cindy, publishes a quarterly newsletter, "Common Sense At Home," that contains low-cost ideas, encourages good stewardship, common sense and contentment while encouraging you!!
Subscription - $6; Sample - $1.
As a homeschooling parent, I have enjoyed the challenges and blessings of teaching my two sons (our third son will be joining us in a few years). I have seen them grow and mature ó physically, mentally, and spiritually. The secure foundation being built in their lives as they learn that God is the source of all wisdom and knowledge is beyond price. They are seeing His hand in all of history and the wonders of His power in science and the world around them. Even in the arts, literature, and music flow a beauty to be felt in the heart. And yet, one of the greatest rewards of homeschooling that I have received is the privilege of being able to learn while I teach.
I appreciate the opportunity to "re-learn" all the academic facts forgotten over the years, but I especially value the chance to learn the lessons of the heart. The morals and virtues that we as parents endeavor to teach our children are the very character traits that must become a part of our lives as well. Self-discipline, responsibility, honesty, courage, perseverance, kindness, patience, and self-control are all virtues that just do not come naturally to us. We struggle, strive, and like the apostle Paul, wonder why we do so many things contrary to the gentle urging in our spirit. But we will not always remain in this state of duality! Our hope rests in God who is faithful to complete the work which He began and who will perfect that which concerns us.
What a classroom He has given us! To be with our families at home, sharing in the routines and challenges of daily life. Homeschooling can include not only the time spent at desks with books and paper, but also the learning experiences shared as we grow and mature together. We have so many opportunities to learn forgiveness and love for each other and those around us. Just as Jesus, the greatest teacher of all, instructed us saying, "Freely you have received, freely give." As we give of ourselves to our children, then our heavenly Father will bless our teaching efforts and teach us in the process!
Organized teaching operates on the assumption that children learn only when and what is taught to them. For generations it has been successfully dictated to us what school is and should be. A centrally located building where children go to sit and acquire head facts, where socializing and learning are confined to a certain age bracket and income. While we accept that learning certain facts are important, we are persuaded to concentrate on the basics of math, reading, writing and to overlook that our children are being trained in a lifestyle contrary to our own.This can rob them of time spent towards independent thinking, creativity, family interaction and developing their God-given talents and gifts.
Some of the ways to become successful at homeschooling include observing, reading, and visiting homeschool families that you admire and respect. Ask questions and expose your family to positive influences,deal directly with any problem areas. Seek out homeschoolers that you share common goals with. Become aware of and attend homeschool conferences, meetings, and events whenever possible. You will be learning along with your children. One possible place to start is for the parents to prepare a list of priorities of what you, as a family, deem necessary for your children to be happy and succeed in life. For example, boys will grow up to be husbands, fathers and providers - they need to learn work skills. Following the example of their fathers and other good Christian men, will help to provide learning in this area. Girls will grow up to be wives, mothers and homemakers. Their educational needs come primarily from the example set by their mothers and possibly grandmothers.
Learning comprises far more than merely teaching a child head knowledge. Education begins with the
inner attitude that inevitably manifests itself in words, actions and demeanor. How we relate to and treat one
another is far more important than how much head knowledge we retain. Most important, learning involves
the nourishment of the mind, body and soul of the child by the parents. Children learn from anything and
everything they see and hear. They learn wherever they are, not just in special learning places or from books.
They learn much more from the things that surround them, whether natural or man-made, that are significant
in life. Learning is a natural process like breathing. We can best help our children to learn by making God's
world accessible to them, paying attention, answering questions or helping to find answers to their questions.
Help them explore the things they are most interested in. Interacting with people of various ages provides
children with additional learning opportunities. Learners create learning. Learners make learning happen
when allowed to explore, observe, test, experiment, speculate and theorize. Living everyday is learning
everyday no matter what age!
Malisa and her husband, educate their three daughters at home.
Several years ago I picked up a little volume of nature essays at a used bookstore. I was attracted to it because I could tell it was old. Actually, I didn't think much of the stories, but a remark in the introduction really impressed me and ever since it has served as a kind of home school motto for me. The author was Richard Jeffries, an Englishman who lived in the mid 1800's and was an avid nature lover and poet. This was his observation:
"All of you with little children, who have no need to count expense, or even if you have such need, take them somehow into the country among green grass and yellow wheat, among the trees, by hills and streams, if you wish their highest education, that of the heart and soul, to be accomplished. Therein shall they find a secret - a knowledge not to be written, not to be found in books. They shall know the sun and the wind, the running water, and the breast of the broad earth. Under the green spray, under the hazel boughs, where the nightingale sings, they shall find a secret, a feeling, a sense that fills the heart with an emotion never to be forgotten. They will forget the books, they will never forget the grassy fields. If you wish your children to think deep things, to know the holiest emotions, take them to the woods and hills and give them the freedom of the meadows."
These thoughts expressed feelings that my husband, Jeff, and I had felt ever since we left the city when we married. Through the years, as we have been "home schooled" by our nine children, we have seen the fruits of an education in God's Creation. They have spent their growing up years working, playing, exploring, hiking and farming on a rugged mountain. I used to wonder how my babies would learn to walk without any level ground to practice on! The result has been that they are as sure-footed and confident as mountain goats! But far greater have been the benefits and blessings for them to come to know the Creator in the things He Has Made. There is no doubt in our minds that Nature's God is a far superior teacher than we will ever be. Their time in the outdoors does not eliminate the need for sure-footing in the 3-R's, but the daily influence of sun & sky & wind & rain & snow & earth leaves its mark on the heart and soul beyond measure. When all the "experts" and advertisers and salespeople and educators are telling us all the things and books and tools and resources we need to educate our children, we will be wise to remember that the BEST things in life are still free.
This past school year our family has enjoyed learning together with the unit study approach to education. We started out our year with a literature study of the novel Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann Wyss. As a Christian parent I was greatly impressed with the strong moral character and family unity brought forth in the book.
Each day we took turns reading approximately half of a chapter. Then we discussed its content and studied specific aspects within the chapter. For instance, in the first chapter the Robinson family is shipwrecked. They ingeniously contrived swimming belts for the members of the family who couldn't swim. They connected empty flasks and tin cans together to form floats. They worked together to find items needed when they got to shore then set out to build a boat of large tubs tied together. After getting safely to land and offering up prayers and thanks to God for His mercy and protection, they noticed sudden nightfall with little or no twilight.
With this first chapter you can see the abundance of topics you could study. Using various reference books we have in our home library such as The Way Things Work by David McCauley and also using the public library, we discussed levers, buoyancy, twilight. Dad gave us an example using the globe and a flashlight on how there can be sudden darkness with no twilight. We found Switzerland on the map and decided the Island might be near Jamaica. We read Acts chapter 27 and compared the account of Paul's shipwreck with the Robinson's. We discussed the character qualities of each of the family members. We looked up the vocabulary words from the chapter we didn't know. Sometimes we did this before reading the chapter to make it more clear as we would read. We looked up several of the animals mentioned in the chapter that we hadn't heard of before. We used a good character building paragraph as dictation work where the children had to put in proper punctuation and capitalization as I read the paragraph slowly aloud to them.
Other days we used ideas in Dinah Zike's Big Book of Books to help the children retain more of what they were learning. For instance...chapter 3 listed a variety of animals. I had each of the children pick one they didn't know much about and do a "tri-fold booklet" on it. This was a great activity including research, art, science, writing and language arts.
We spent 4 weeks reading and studying aspects of the book. You could easily spend 6 weeks on it as every chapter is so rich with exciting events, discoveries, inventions, plants, and animals. Whether or not you decide to do a unit study of the book I highly recommend you read it together as a family.
In closing I will quote from the last paragraph in the book to show the purpose in the authors writing the book which he says is " for the instruction and amusement of my children", but also of the quality of Christian character found throughout the book.
"Children are, on the whole, very much alike everywhere, and you four lads fairly represent multitudes who are growing up in all directions. It will make me happy to think that my simple narrative may lead some of these to observe how blessed are the results of patient continuance in well doing, what benefits arise from the thoughtful application of knowledge and science, and how good and pleasant a thing it is when brethren dwell together in unity, under the eye of parental love."
Our young men and young ladies are great storytellers. They sometimes spend a good part of the day playing and acting out their stories. But then comes lessons, and the child who was bubbling with words a few minutes before, can't think of a thing to write! Allowing the hesitant writer to dictate to you could solve the problem.
You will find that his thoughts flow more quickly if they are not hampered by the speed of his hands. Left on his own, his writing does not reflect his creative abilities. He will continue to become more proficient in the mechanics of creative writing, but with dictation, your developing composer will pleasantly surprise you. Of course, it helps if he is "writing" about something he is interested in, or is inspired by the really neat things he is learning about. I find it is easier for inexperienced writers to start by giving detailed descriptions, and relating an experience that actually happened to them.
The very young child will also surprise and delight you. Benjamin, at age 3Ĺ, dictated his story Benjamin's Fun Day at the Fair ( see Write at Home). Sure, I prompted him to describe things to me, but these are his words.
My two oldest boys at 7, & 9, narrated (and partially wrote) a story which they made into an illustrated, "real" handmade, hard bound book, complete with a book jacket, using the guidance of Valerie Bendt's book Creating Books With Children. For writing lessons, they copied passages of their stories, and Benjamin, and my 7 yr. old can use their books as a personal reader. Now we have a keepsake treasure of each child's writing & artwork, which I find delightful! They think so too.
Oh give me patience when tiny hands
by Mrs. Kathy Reynolds
It is lots of fun for our "students" to dress up and dramatize, and a great way to reinforce what you are studying.
A favorite in our house is to act out the Bible story that we have just read aloud. My boys, aged 4, 7, 9, and I, take parts portraying the characters that we learned about. We keep it simple by paraphrasing key quotes, and use just basic dress up items like hats, capes, and swords, but you could be as elaborate as you'd like.
Children learn to express themselves, and demonstrate in a natural way what knowledge they have gained. This helps to increase the mind's ability to remember.
I have known some young people who have written some wonderful plays, and staged their productions for others at special occasions like Feast Days that we've attended.
Be creative, and turn your unit studies, history, or Bible lessons into a memorable and fun activity for the whole family.
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"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." Ecclesiastes 9:10