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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Homeschool Nerds

My sweet brother-in-law told me when we first started homeschooling, "Just don't let them turn into homeschool nerds."

To be honest, I was quick to say, "Oh, of course not!"

Now that I am more seasoned and realize the why's and how's of this world and my faith, I have changed my opinion.

My "homeschool nerd" definition: kind, loves God, puts his parents opinions above peers, loves books and learning, loves his family, quiet and respectful. The more I think about these traits, I have to admit that they are EXACTLY what I want my children to be like!!! The opposite is a child who thinks learning is dumb, his parents and God are much less important than what his friends think, puts being accepted above his family, God and kindness.

I believe that as Christians, we think that in order to win a person to Christ, we must fit into the world. We must be able to relate to their lives so much that we are living the sins we are against: greed, consumerism, watching shows and movies just to have something to talk about.

I do not believe a Christian should isolate themselves, but I also believe we should be very careful in what we do and even more careful in what our children are allowed to do.

When it comes down to judgment day, I do not believe I will have to ask forgiveness for raising a homeschool nerd. That is MY goal!

Monday, March 27, 2006

My Purpose

Each morning, I lay a foundation of God's Word to my mind and heart. I surround it with prayer. Then, each event I encounter throughout the day is applied to that standard. The foundation bounces off thinkgs that do not have a place in the life of God's child. It allows the good to soak in.

As a human, there is absolutely no good in me. It is my very nature to do wrong. I first need God in me to redeem my sin. Sin is debt that must be paid. I then have to make a continuting effort to live for Him. This is the only way to live a full, joyful, content life; to fulfill the purpose for which I was made.

The Bible speaks many times of teh importance of spending time in God's word. It also gives many examples of doing this in the morning. A bad experience in the morning can ruin your entire day. In the same way, time spent on the best thing, time with God, can make all the difference in having a great day.

It is important to spend time in God's word daily. Where your heart is, there your treasure is also. By hiding God's word in our hearts, we are giving Him our hearts and putting our treasure (our hope and future) in Heaven. Spending time in the Bible is focusing on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. It puts our focus on God instead of ourselves. By studying the words of God and the stories of His people, we learn the character of God so we can mirror it in our own lives.

Some say that the Bible is hard to understand. We must have God living in our hearts to understand His word. The Holy Spirit is the one who interprets God's message to us. Without the Spirit inside, the things of God do not make sense. As a christian, the more time spent in the Bible, the easier it is to understand and apply to life. Even when it is not easy, it is important enough to do regardless.

God's word is thesword to fight against tempatations. Jesus, the perfect example of life, used God's word to fight Satan in the desert.

The importance is not how much time or material is read, but rather the act of obedience to spend time with God. More time spent in God's word produces a fine-tuned ability to hear His promptings on where to read, how long to read and what it means.

After reading God's word, meditate on it. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and praise. Pray the scripture just read, ask God to speak through His word. Pray the Lord will speak through the day, talk to the Lord about daily plans and ask Him to make your plans mirror His. I pray that I am an encouragement to each person I encournter each day, a light of my Creator.

Beginning your day with God is fruit that you want your day to be filled with Him. It may not be easy to et into a routinge of spending your first fruits of your day with Him, but it will produce even greater fruits throughout each day.
Tags: Tipping+Point books

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point is my recent read for my book club. It is a quick read that is loaded with interesting information.
Tags: Tipping+Point books

Thursday, March 09, 2006

To Provide our children with a Superior Education

I cannot tell you what reason originally prompted thinking about homeschooling our children. Now that I have both done and researched it, I have a better idea of the truths behind homeschooling instead of the myths and misunderstandings.

I would say that as I type, my number one reason for homeschooling is spiritual. I believe God’s hand is in our homeschooling and that it is His desire for us to homeschool. I believe the spiritual reasons are enough that even if I was not doing the best job academically, that God would still bless us because He looks at our heart and our motives. For us, God’s approval is more important than the approval of the local school board, our friends, family and acquaintances.

With that said, I believe that most homeschoolers are very committed to their children’s academic education. Homeschooling parents generally make it a continuing effort to seek out and teach with the best curriculum and materials for their children. The parent who takes such lofty goals of their child’s education is not generally one that is not committed to their family and to those goals completely. I have no doubt of the spiritual, social and academic superiority of homeschooling.

Gerald Greenwald, the Vice Chair of Chrysler said that
”American Industry spends more money to teach remedial math to US workers that all grade schools, high schools and colleges in this country combined.”

One on One versus a Classroom

No one would doubt the academic benefit of one on one tutoring. Taking time, one on one with any child is going to provide a greater learning experience for the student. A classroom, even a good one, has limits. A typical classroom (public or private) has 20-30 children in it. They have a limited time. They are on a schedule and have goals that are not for each and every child’s best, but for (as the NEA claims) the good of the average student. A homeschooling environment is tailored to the individual. If a curriculum is not working, another one is sought out. If a child has a problem, it is reviewed and looked at in another light until it is understood and mastered. If a topic is particularly easy, it is learned and the student moves on to other things. When something comes up that sparks the student’s passion, it is looked into more deeply. There is so much more that can be done in an educational setting without the restraints of a classroom.

An Unplanned Fieldtrip

For instance, we were recently studying trees. There were some great pictures in our book. One of my children pointed out… “Mom, we have trees OUTSIDE!” What a revelation! Not only did we have trees, but we were under no authority other than God and my husband (both of whom approve of tree-looking!) So we picked up our book, went in the yard and looked at the leaves, the bark, and a twig. We looked at the side buds, the shoots, and the girdle scars. We found out how old every twig we found was! Two houses down, a tree had blown down from the effects of Hurricane Katrina. It was lying by the road. We went there and counted the rings. We looked at the sapwood and heartwood. On the tree we also found bracket fungi. While we were walking back inside, we noticed a caterpillar making a chrysalis in my herb garden! We looked in the book and found out what type it was. We saw what the eggs looked like and started finding them… by the end; we had found three different types of caterpillars. We kept a close eye on it and counted over 40 caterpillars in the next few days. All of this took very little time, but my children still remember everything they learned that day… even the four year old who was really just along for the ride!! We had the freedom to learn what we wanted, how we wanted to.

Will God Provide?

Parents are given the authority by God to teach and disciple their children. I will go more into this in a future mission article “To grab hold of the grace, power and authority God has given to parents.” God does not give us more than we can handle. I believe that God will give parents the tools and wisdom they need to raise the children He gives them as gifts. He will not leave us unequipped. Common objections I hear are that “I am not smart enough”, “I do not know enough about the advanced subjects.” I feel that this not only doubting God’s provision, but it is also simple ignorance. There are so many things provided for homeschoolers that completely bridge the gap in the parents’ education and what the children need to know. In our personal homeschool, I feel that at the very least, I will buy a DVD or hire a tutor to help me in areas that I lack in. For I feel that is better than the alternative of public school. Spunky Homeschool talks about a time when she didn’t know the answer to a question: Teaching the Teacher. As parents, we are not expected to know every academic question that comes up in our children’s lives any more than we are expected to know the answer to every spiritual question. The difference between a bad or good parent and a great one is the admission of not knowing it all and taking the time and energy to teach your child how to find the answer themselves! The best part of this kind of learning is that both the child and the parent come out smarter in the end!!

How to Learn

Larry and Susan Kaseman state,
”How do children learn two very difficult skills, walking and talking, without anyone’s making a self-conscious effort to teach them? Could children learn other things, even “school” subjects like reading and math, in the same way, by imitating other people’s behavior, making mistakes, correcting them on their own, and asking for help when they need it?’”

I believe the goal of an academic education is to teach children to learn for themselves. This is the first academic mistake our public schools are making. They are not teaching our children the tools they need to learn. There is the idea that everything a person needs to know for the rest of their lives, they should learn in 18 years…. This is NOT the way God designed us. Each of us has a God-given desire to know more and learn more. The problem is that the boring, test-focused, cookie cutter public schools squash this desire. Children’s God-given desire for knowledge is one of many God-given qualities the public schools teach children to ignore.

Public Schools are Failing

Our present public schools are failing. There are 27 million people illiterate in the USA… MOST of them went to public schools. The United States is below the world average in math and science, SAT scores have dropped 78 points since the 1960’s. Public schools standardized tests average is 50%, the homeschooled average is 80% !

Our public schools are “teaching to the test”. This is an ineffective way to teach. It does not involve understanding and mastery of a subject, but rather memorization. Memorization of facts is not bad in itself, but it must be the minority of an education. Education must be ideas, stories and understanding. Memorizing facts is something that is done to firm the information in our minds, to make it easier to recall the ideas we are trying to convey.

Not only are teachers teaching to the test, but school districts are dumbing down the tests and a small group of teachers are giving the kids the answers to the tests. These tests are such an important measure of success in the public school, that they are actually a part of the problem. Tests can be very useful in an academic environment, but they must not become the point of academics.

Some other things that children are learning in our public schools are how to avoid true learning, how to appear busy, how to sneak behind the teachers back and how to turn in mediocre work just to get by.. Our public schooled children do not have the passion for learning, the real world reasoning for education... School is a block of time they are trying to finish.

The majority of homeschooled children see the real world reason for an education. They are out in the real world every day, they are reading great literature and learning about people who not only used real learning, but made history. They are not getting a watered down version that will fit in 180 days, 40 min. a day. Their time is not wasted watching and listening to others reprimanded, watching their teachers do paperwork, or waiting on the slower students.

For the “proof in the pudding”, I recommend reading the findings from the largest study done to date on homeschooling.

More evidence the public schools aren’t educating can be found in this interesting article: For Why Homeschool: The right to own a pet - The Simpsons v. The Constitution

Just because someone is a teacher does not necessarily mean that they are great at teaching. In an interview on CNN, Michael Farris points out that in
“Massachusetts tried to test teachers who teach math in schools where more than half the kids are filing their math test. The teachers’ union called the tests. As you probably know, discriminatory, which of course it was against inept teachers.”

The problem is not with the teachers, but with a broken system. Until the system is completely changed, it will not be an effective way of teaching children academics. And most importantly, it will quite possibly hinder their spiritual training.

For the rest of our educational mission statement, click here.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Regenerate Our Culture

Our culture needs an overhaul. There are people who don't just think that, but are doing something about it. I just found a fantastic new organization started by folks like Tim Sweetman, better known as “Agent Tim,” and Kristin Braun, or “Spunky Jr.” They’re all about changing the worldview of our nation from unbiblical to Biblical—quite a task! It looks like some great articles are going to be coming from their online magazine, and the blog network sounds awesome! Regenerate! Check it out!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Pocket Call Teaches Lesson From God

A pocket call is when the buttons on the cell phone hit the side of your pocket or purse, accidentally making a call. I have done this a few times and I get at least one of these calls from friends and family every week!

So far, I have not heard anything worthy of the gossip pages. I pray that no one has heard anything from me! My two year old loves to turn the phone on to hear the lady say, "If you'd like to make a call, please hang up and dial again." He really thinks he has called someone! I am deathly afraid he will actually call someone at the exact minute I am loosing my mind! Others will hear and find out that I am not the perfect mother and wife, that I do say things that I regret.

Norris Burkes learned a lesson the hard way when he made a pocket call and his friend, Steve heard him giving his son a math lesson. His friend, Steve, called the next day.

"Steve called wanting to help. While his call was meant in some way to hold me accountable, his main purpose was to help restore a relationship that sounded broken to him. He called because he still thinks I’m a good guy who still has the ability to be a decent father.

Yes, God sees and hears us — but not because God keeps a scorecard. It’s because God wants to keep us in the relationship. "

What if our cell phones were always making pocket calls, to our mother-in-law, mother, pastor, stuck-up friend down the street? It would change how we talk to our families.

The hard thing to remember is that God is always listening! And that is the REAL reason we should change how we talk to others. The way to change? Not through fear and outward appearances, but by changing our hearts.

Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week

MS Awareness Week: March 13-17, 2006

March 13-17th is National Multiple Sclerosis Society's Awareness Week.

The National MS Society provides hope to
millions of people around the globe that
someday soon we will have a world without
MS. Support the MS cause and be part of the
message by wearing your own MS Band of Hope.
Wristbands are $1 each, sold in packs
of 10. Additional fee for
shipping and handling.

The Ribbon Of Hope is also available. Order now to be ready for MS Awareness Week!!

Should We Fear Those We Love?

At first glace, fear and love seem to be opposites. Fear must be examined as a word before we can suppose if we should do it or not. Fear can mean many things, both good and bad.
”Jerry Bridges, the author of “The Joy of Fearing God” (Waterbrook, $19.95) reminds his reader that the Old Testament proclaims “there is joy in fearing the Lord.” In this ancient context, fear is synonymous with wonder, reverence and an admiring esteem for God’s omnipotence, along with the knowledge that this Awesome Power is the very Power of Love, a love so strong that it commands obligation.”

A very good article called, Parents Fear too Much, Children too Little is the basis of this post.
The point brought up in this article is that we have lost or are at least losing the healthy, necessary fear towards parents and gaining a bad one towards children in our American society.

I have personally been afraid the world will think I am not the Perfect Mom talked about in this article. Just two nights ago, I was out taking my children for there “socialization” that everyone says is so important for homeschoolers. One of my daughters was upset because she believed her older sister was leaving her out and one of her sister’s friends was talking bad about her. She came to me with her problem, but I was so excited about my own socialization that I gave her the sweet pat on the head and told her it was fine.

My daughter was tired and discouraged to the point that she decided to push this other girl, much to my horror. My daughter has rarely if ever acted in this fashion and I am ashamed to admit that my first thought was one of embarrassment. I quickly regained myself from the brinks of pride and did as needed in the situation with both discipline and compassion. The lesson she learned through this incident is that violence is not an answer for frustration. The lesson I learned was that pride is never an answer.

I take my lessons on good parenting from the Perfect Father. I see that we are to have a healthy fear and respect of Him. Although I do not deserve quite the fear and respect God does, I see in His model of Fatherhood to us, that they are necessary components of a healthy parent/child relationship.

My mother-in-law speaks of the type of respect she had for her father. She has told me that he rarely if ever told his children “no”. His children knew somehow what was expected and had a desire to do it. This is something I strive for in my children. I don’t want to be they type of mother who is always saying “no”. I want to be the type of mother that is loved and respected and that children want to please. I believe the secrets to this are in my relationship with my own Father. As I grow closer to Him, I will grow in the type of parenting that produces great results.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Declining Literacy

Our public schools are not teaching children what they should. That is one reason so many parents are bringing their children home to teach them. The following quote is part of an article about the literacy crisis in America.

"In late January, The National Survey of America's College Students found only 40 percent of the nation's college seniors are able to distinguish fact from commentary in a newspaper editorial, understand documents such as maps and instruction manuals, or calculate a server's tip after a meal out. Only 13 percent of the country's adult population was deemed proficient in those basic skills.

Now comes a report from ACT, the nonprofit college entrance exam giant, that shows only half of the 1.2 million high school seniors who took its test in 2005 are prepared for the reading requirements of a first-year college course. The half who didn't meet ACT's benchmark were unable to understand relatively complicated texts with several layers of meaning."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Book Lists

Semicolon has a very good book list that I will have to work on as soon as I finish my current reading!
Filed in:

The Books Beside Me

I sincerely believe that reading is the cornerstone of education. Here is what we are working on right now:

I am reading Mere Christianity. I really had no idea what to expect from this book. I began it for a book club. Although the book club met to discuss it last Thursday, I am still working through it. It is not a quick and easy read. It stimulates so many ideas and thoughts in my head that it is taking me 10 times longer than I normally take to read a book. I am getting close to the end and I predict reading it again in the near future. It has too much great information to take in reading it just once.

For a fiction book, Blink by Ted Dekker is next on my list. My husband has read this book and some of Ted Dekker's others. Since it is rare for my husband to recommend a book, Blink is next on my list!

On my nightstand, I also have The Grace Awakening. I put it aside so that I could finish Mere Christianity for my book club. I will most definately take it back up, it is a good one!

I am glancing over and researching a book called Discovering Great Artists. It has gotten a lot of great reviews. I checked it out from my local public library. I believe I will end up buying this one to add into our art curriculum.

We were planning on seeing a play a few weeks ago on the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. We began reading Little House in the Big Woods in preparation. We decided against going to the play, but kept on reading the book, only at a much slower pace. I am surprised that my 4 year old son likes it. It has so many references to hunting and all of the stories that "Pa" shares are of pure boy stuff! We have to read it in short settings and we don't read it every day.

We are also working our way through The Book of Virtues. The stories are short and the kids like them. I am very happy with this book.

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