Friday, April 17, 2009

What curriculum do you use?

I can't tell you how many times I've been asked, "What curriculum do you use?" I don't use one curriculum. I've known from the beginning that neither I, nor my children, are the curriculum-in- a-box type. We lean towards Charlotte Mason, because we use a lot of living books (as opposed to text books). I call our style eclectic though, because we use a bit of everything.

Today, at the homeschool conference, I was at a workshop and wound up sitting in the same row as a former classmate from high school. Actually, we were in Concert Choir together. Amazingly, we both recognized each other (though I couldn't have told you his name just from looking at his face...and I think that was the same for him). Anyway, this former classmate & his wife are going to be missionaries overseas and they will be homeschooling for the first time. Their oldest is age six.

So, the story goes...he later introduced me to his wife and she wanted to know "What curriculum do you use?". I just don't answer that question well on the spot. I usually tell people about Singapore Math, because we've use that for two years now and I know many other people who like it. My daughter is having a math crisis this year...she hates math at the moment...well, for pretty much the whole year. So, I was at the conference for math inspiration and information (along with a plethora of other things).

After the fact, I remembered the thing I so wished I would've, here's hoping they check out my blog soon! I gave them my "Mommy Card" (I get the card sheets from Wal-Mart and print cards with my e-mail, phone #, blog url, picture, and family names to give to people rather than scribbling info on a scrap of paper & then they forget who it was who gave them the info).

What has really inspired and invigorated my homeschooling lately is The 3 R's by Ruth Beechick. I have had it saved to buy on for a year, I think. Then someone local was selling a bunch of Ruth Beechick books by e-mail and that happened to be one of them. I jumped at the offer. I am so glad! She really simplifies things and puts homeschooling into perspective. I would recommend The 3 R's to anyone starting out homeschooling. The book is for kindergarten through 3rd grade; then there is another book for grades after that. Ruth Beechick is awesome! I'm going to be reviewing a couple of her We-e-books that sell on at The Old Schoolhouse Store very soon.

Ruth Beechick gives some great ideas for Math in The 3 R's, but I was totally pumped today by Nancy Bjorkman from Heppner's Legacy! I was already excited, just because it was Nancy. She was totally inspiring (just like last year). Nancy called my friend, Colleen, and I her groupies. We totally are huge Nancy Bjorkman fans! Oh, the fun math games my kids are about to enjoy. I bought Nancy's packet of games after attending her workshop. I need no more math inspiration...thank you!!!

If you're out there Rick & Valerie...I wish you and your family the best! I would love to hear about your Missionary Homeschooling Adventures. You all should start a blog!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

New Homeschoolers Questions and Answers

Homeschooling with Heart group on Facebook has a discussion group on:
New to Homeschooling? Considering Homeschooling?

My answers were getting so long, I decided to move it over to my blog & give them my blog address.

So these questions are from Heather in Alabama (I'm editing her response, to make the questions clear):
1. I guess my concerns are: am I making the right decisions, am I planning what my kids need to learn?
ANSWER: Everyone has what they call gaps in learning. What a person learns at public school in Missouri, will not be the same thing that someone will learn in a public school in California, and certainly not the same thing someone will learn in another country! Besides that, there will be gaps in learning in private schools, and yes, in homeschools, too! The thing to remember is to teach our children how to learn and to make learning fun! We don't want to kill their love of learning as many traditional schools have done (to members of my own family). If you're wanting to sort of keep on track, make sure you're teaching them what they should know for each grade, you can check out different websites or books; I use: Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School by Rebecca Rupp. I also want to say to the "am I making the right decisions?": from what you said, you are a believer in Jesus Christ, keep Him in focus and you will make the right decisions! Find peace in the Lord, He will guide you.

2. Do you have a planner that you use to schedule things for your kids?
ANSWER: I think planners are very important for a mother's sanity and for homeschool records. Check out HSLDA to find out the laws in your state on homeschooling and what records you need to keep. I recently wrote a blog on my favorite homeschool planner, to read it, click HERE.

3. What do I do if I can't help my kids out on a question, say math, I am not good at it, what do I do then? I want to learn with them and I know that I will but I don't want to just get the answer out of the book.
ANSWER: One of my favorite things about homeschooling is learning with my children! If you don't know the answer, tell them that you don't know! Then, show them how to find the answer (that is one of the best things my Mom ever taught me!). They will admire you for your honesty, and be excited that Mom is learning, too.

4. Are my kids going to like homeschool? I have one that I know will love it and I have one that is one that likes to be with his friends a lot, so I don't know how that is going to work.
ANSWER: For the child who likes to be with friends a lot, you can join a homeschool support group, Co-op, or give them time to be in sports, art or theater classes, volunteer work, things outside the home, or just make sure he still gets time to play with friends after school. I personally, would also watch the relationships my child has with friends. I want God to be my children's priority, where friends are concerned (God as their best friend), then family, then other friends.

Holly from Kentucky asked these questions (again edited):
1. My biggest concern is every day happening . . . how do you handle two different aged children (and maybe more)?
ANSWER: You can teach more than one child of different ages at the same time...teachers did it back in the days of the one room school house! History is a great subject to do together, but I also do Science, Language Arts, Art, PE, Foreign Language, etc. together. Reading, Spelling, and Math really need to be done on their level...though you may have one child who is behind in a subject and another who is advanced...they could wind up on the same level. The great thing about homeschooling is that you can work on their level and change things if they're not working! I would highly recommend checking out a book, or workshop at a homeschool conference, on your child's learning style! Also check out Charlotte Mason and Classical Methods! I tell about my favorite Charlotte Mason sites and book in my Mini-conference Workshop Handout, you can find it by clicking HERE.

2. How do you balance being - a child of God, a wife, a mother, a church member (and ministries), a daughter (of recently divorced parents after 32 yrs of marriage), the laundry lady, the cleaning lady, etc?
ANSWER: I want you to know that you can balance it all, but maybe not all the time! When you're at the house more, the easier it is to make a mess. That is also a good reason to be teaching the children Life Skills! There are some great books & blogs out there that can really help you. You have a head start because you are preparing while your oldest ones are still so young. Books that really helped me with organizing & balancing: To Love, Honor and Vacuum by Shelia Wray Gregorie & Homeschooling at the Speed of Life by Marilyn Rockett. Over at, they have been doing a Homeschool Organizing Carnival. They are some great ladies & gentlemen, with lots of insight & fun on the journey of homeschooling. You might want to check out How to be a Great Wife Even Though You Homeschool by Todd Wilson of Familyman Ministries (his book Lies Homeschooling Mom's Believe was a real blessing to me). I'm going to pick it up at our Homeschool Conference this month. Also, in balancing everything, you may need to prioritize. I realized this year, that I was doing far too many things, spreading myself thin. Next year will be different! This season of life, in chosing to homeschool, your ministry is your children and their education. This may mean that other things are no longer a priority.

Best wishes ladies! Enjoy the journey!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Lamb

When I was finishing up the post on Picture of Christ, I was thinking about something else that I didn't really understand when I was growing up. I grew up in the church, in a Christian family, reading and learning about the Bible. Something that I think is very important that I didn't really get put together, until I was an adult, relates to this part of the song Crucified, which I quoted from Christafari (okay, maybe not so much relates, but it made me think about this):

I do not set aside the grace of God (can't you see?)
For if gained through the law righteousness could be-
then Jesus Christ He died for nothing.
So the song says that if righteousness could be obtained through following rules, then Jesus died for no reason. I understood that being good, making sacrifices, or following Old Testament Rules would not get me into heaven. I knew that only faith in Jesus Christ could write my name in the Book of Life. I understood that Jesus was the Lamb of God, the ultimate sacrifice. What I did not understand was how the Old Testament men were also saved by faith. Like when Abraham was told by God to sacrifice his only son, Issac, the son he'd been promised; he was going to sacrifice Issac, because of his great faith in God. What a great picture of what was to come. I also now understand that the lambs that were sacrificed for sins represented God's Lamb, who would be the final sacrifice for ALL sins. I just love that I finally have all those puzzle pieces in place.


The A Woman Inspired Conference is WONDERFUL! I am thoroughly enjoying it. I am glad I will be able to listen to everything again, because although I have been able to sit in on all the workshops today, the children have interrupted plenty!

Anyway, as I was listening to one of the sessions, a song from my youth came to mind. This is something I learned at Super Summer (Evangelism School). Wish I could put the tune on here, too, but I wouldn't even know where to find it...if it even exists somewhere in cyberspace. Here are the lyrics:

I am an awesome spirit being,
of magnificent worth.
As a person,
I am deeply loved by God.
Inwardly perfect,
like Jesus, totally pleasing to Him.
I’m accepted by God.
And when my inward is reflected through my outward,
He completes His work in me,
with Him I’ll live eternally.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Picture of Christ

Well, it's Palm Sunday, and our Pastor was preaching appropriately about that Sunday in history that Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey to the praise of the people and the waving of the palm branches. He also spoke of Old Testament prophecy revealed and gave a beautiful historical picture of the that week...up until Wednesday.

What struck me as I was sitting there listening was his reference to Jesus' age, around 33 and 1/2 years old. I'm certain I've heard that before, but today, sitting next to my 32 (will be 33 this year) year old husband, I realized how young Jesus was. I was thinking how when my own Dad was 33, I was 11. I was far more concerned with school, friends, boys, TV...the list goes be able to think that my vibrant, young father was the same age as our Saviour when He was killed for our sins. I'm glad I'm realizing this, and I'm glad I'm homeschooling my children; I now have time to share with them, what I missed. Not that I wasn't interested in God at this time in my life, but He was not the priority that I wish He had been.

Our Pastor also mentioned how young some of the disciples were, around 19 or 20 years age as he referenced for us. I know I've heard this before, too. The movies, and even plays, I've watched over the years generally cast the disciples as older guys, more like in their forties, or at least thirties. Jesus is usually cast as a very good looking man, and the same age or younger than the disciples...not older. I'm sure there is a more accurate movie out, but I'm just thinking of the ones I've watched as I've grown up.

I joined a Women's Bible Study at a local church this last year, I wasn't able to complete the study (due to my skin problems and more; well, that's another story). I did gain a valuable insight pertaining to this while I was participating. The study was one of Beth Moore's and she referenced a passage in the Bible that said that Jesus was NOT a handsome man, he was plain or maybe even homely looking (Isaiah 53:2). Now, when I think of artists rendering and again movie portrayals, Jesus is almost always depicted as a very good looking man. Now Beth wrote a poem about this passage in her journal and shared the poem on the video we watched. In her poem she said that he may not be handsome to just anyone looking, but he was beautiful to her.

So, I'm picturing Christ as this very plain looking, but vibrant, young man. He is both 100% man and 100% God. He performs miracles, has the answers to any and every question, has felt every feeling we've felt, has been tempted in every way and not succumbed to that temptation. He is teaching his young disciples to carry on when he is gone, and knowing all that will happen now and in the future. I can't even begin to imagine what the people close to Him, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, His brothers, His mother, the disciples, saw and felt being with Him, in the flesh!

I have to mention the movie The Passion of the Christ. I'd heard and seen the story of Easter from church, Bible stories, plays, and movies, but none before truly made me understand the torture that Jesus endured for us. I can now read the Bible story for myself and not just read the story, but understand. What Jesus endured by hanging on the cross was bad, but that was not all of the story. And I think so many gloss over the Passion Story, make it prettier to look at. There are many stories now in the Bible that I realize were glossed over as a child. What is truly amazing is that torture should have been for us, but Jesus, sinless and pure, took the punishment for ALL of us! Freedom from sin, forgiveness of sins, and life everlasting is ours for the asking...FREE! We are asked only to confess with our mouth the Jesus is Lord, believe in our hearts God raised Him from the dead, and we will be saved (Romans 10:9). We are saved by grace (pardon, love, and reconciliation with God, which we don't deserve), through faith (the assent of our minds of God's truth revealed).

As I was writing this, a song came to mind. I had to go get my cassette case and read find out the name of the song. The song is appropriately called: Crucified. It's from the group Christafari, the album Soulfire. The copyright says 1994, but the album came out in 1995. It is the first of the Gospel Reggae group's ten albums. The song as written by Tansoback (aka Mark Mohr). I didn't know how much I liked Reggae until I got this tape!

Chorus says:
He died for me.
So I could live for Him.
He gave His life for me.
So I could give mine to Him.
He became like me.
So I could become like Him.
Chat Chorus:
And so I cry and so Lord Jesus He die and in the same way I have been crucified.
Take up cross and follow Him as He said to His children "Live in no more sin" (John 5:14)
Its by faith through which you've been saved,
and according to the mercy the Father did give.
Just like the faith of one mustard see (Matt. 17:20)
the smallest in size but it becomes the biggest weed.
It's by faith through His grace (Eph. 2:5) that put you in this place
of righteousness that you cannot erase (Rom. 11:29).
So I've Been justified & sanctified.
I am glorified with the Spirit inside.
So do not bother filling yourself with pride,
as a humble lion you must be crucified.
He was born so He could-die, died so we might-live.
We lift His name on-high pure love that we give.
Chat Chorus:
(Galatians 2:20-21) I've been crucified with Christ for eternity,
it's I that no longer live but Christ that lives in me.
The life that I live (in the body) I live by faith (in the Son of Yahweh).
He who loves me an He gave Himself for me.
I do not set aside the grace of God (can't you see?)
For if gained through the law righteousness could be-
then Jesus Christ He died for nothing.
Chorus & Chat chorus:
So don't big up your music, don't big up your fame (Matt. 23:12).
You must come refuse, it don't big up your name.
Don't big up your status, don't big up your wealth.
I cry don't big up anything, just die to yourself.
You must first count up the cost (Luke 14:28)
then you take up the cross (Luke 9:23)
and follow Him.
Hallelujah! Amen. Praise Him (Repeat).
I have redemption, and propitiation, election and pure substitution, adoption, and reconciliation, confession, and regeneration, expiation, and joy, enough conviction, and strength over temptation. I have discipleship and fellowship, security for surely in this life (relationship) with God.

I love the way the songs and lyrics are all referenced Biblically. I just got a brainstorm to use this music and the Bible references for homeschooling! I'll have to write about that later.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Living History

Today was our last official field trip of the year for Co-op. We had a great turn out. Everyone who signed up was able to attend. We had six families.
This was the group (minus me).

We are so lucky to live near Kansas City. We went to Missouri Town 1855, which is a living history site in Jackson County. We had the place nearly to ourselves on a beautiful day! The sun was shining, the temperature was nearly 60 degrees, with a brisk breeze.

The kids petted oxen and horses, learned about life in 1855, loved visiting the blacksmith, all took a turn feeding chickens, and sawing firewood! They answered and asked lots of questions. They also all began their Kansas City Passport to Adventure for 2009.

My hubby was able to join us for this field trip and we got some priceless pictures. Ellie and I bought bonnets. We wanted them last year when we went, but didn't get them. I totally love wearing the bonnet! The bonnet is better than sunglasses, and it keeps your ears warm from the cold breeze. Plus, I enjoy the Caroline Ingalls look (too bad I wasn't wearing a dress). :)

On the way home, the kids were going on about how they'd like to live Pioneer style. They want to be self sufficient: dig a well, have our own animals, grow our own food, no electricity, etc... even sawing our firewood! The only idea they didn't like was giving up some of their toys. We'll see how that goes. The husband and I have talked about going Amish... (not actually becoming Amish, but living Amish-style: horse and buggy, farming, no modern amenities).