What delightful years I experienced in the first years of motherhood as God blessed me with baby girls first.
As we walked to the playground, we would pass the big yellow school bus. My heart would freeze. I would miss my children so much when they started school. Just thinking about it made me so sad. Why should someone else get to spend all day with them? They were my babies!
At the same time, I was passing the yellow school bus several days a week, I was meeting homeschool families at church who impressed me with their poise, confidence, good manners, and love for Jesus. I had to check out homeschooling.
As I prayed about the possibility of homeschooling with my husband Mike, we felt God stirring our hearts. We sensed He was calling us to ministry! The ministry of educating our children. Wow! What a high calling and privilege! Excitement stirred in our hearts back in 1990 and the following year, we took the plunge. Since then, we have never looked back.
Why do we homeschool?
Because God called us to homeschool!
We have been blessed to see so many blessings and benefits to homeschooling.
When we get together with other homeschool parents, we talk about all kinds of things related to homeschooling:
Why we homeschool.
Our philosophy of homeschooling.
What curriculum we are using.
Our homeschool co-ops and field trips.
How are children are growing in godly character.
All of that is wonderful! I love talking about all those things!
Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that love is the heart of homeschooling, it's what motivates us, it's why we sacrifice.
We homeschooling because we love our children. We homeschool to express love to our children. We homeschool because we love God and want to teach our children to love Him, too.
Just as the heart pumps life to the whole body, love brings life to our home and our home school.
I’ve dabbled in art since I was a child. There always seemed to be other interests and priorities which prevented me from pursuing what talent I may possess. One of those other interests was homeschooling my children. As we worked through the years I met a few promising artists who were just not sure where to get training. Art school, after all, is very expensive, right?
This year I was blessed with the opportunity to take an acrylic painting class with the students in our homeschool co-op. I started learning so much after just one class.
However, what do you do if you don’t have access to a professional painter who will teach you or your children?
You go online!
One of our homework assignments was to paint a cherry using the Beginners Acrylic Still Life Course at the Will Kemp Art School. You can read about the project and watch this series of YouTube videos by going to his website: http://willkempartschool.com/beginners-acrylic-still-life-course-part-1/.
This page includes a list of supplies needed, some pictures of the project in process and loads of links and helpful suggestions. I didn’t have access to exactly all the same products and he used but my local Michael’s had acceptable alternatives.
Here is a really fun exercise to teach children to write clearly. We did this in our homeschool co-op, but you can do this at home with the whole family. It's very silly and will get all your writers laughing hysterically.
First of all, everyone writes directions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Simple enough, right?
Well, not so fast. It's hard to write directions. Often children are vague or write something else than what they are trying to communicate to their audience.
After all the direction papers were written, my friend Leanne gathered them all in a pile and everyone headed to the kitchen. Taking each page of sandwich directions, Leanne set out to follow them. Of course she had a knife, jar of peanut butter, jar of jelly, and loaf of bread.
Leanne made each sandwich according to the directions the child gave. If the directions were unclear, she followed them to funniest way possible. We all laughed so hard that our stomachs hurt. I got some photos I will share below.
The lesson of needing to be clear when giving directions hit home and the spent twenty more minutes talking about the "dangers" of not writing clear directions. The kids had a blast together learning to write more effectively. Now, that is learning at its best!
When you teach history, don't just expect your children to memorize facts.
Become investigators together and solve the history mystery.
When did it take place?
Who was involved?
Where did it happen?
Why on earth did it happen?
It all starts with curiosity and a sense of adventure. I will often start with an interesting story like this...
A royal couple was visiting a city in their realm on their anniversary. They were very much in love. But, they had enemies. Those enemies tried to kill them as they were on the way to big get-together. The enemies tried to bomb their car, but instead of hitting them, they hit people in the car behind them. After returning home to rest, the royal couple decided to go visit the folks that had been shot. They felt so sad they were hurt. On the way to the hospital, they were forced to take a detour into a side road. While they were trapped, a gunman shot both of them. They reached out to hold one another. The handsome Duke said to his beautiful wife, "Live, darling, for the children." I am so sorry to tell you that they both died. And that's how World War I began.
Now, I have made it personal and gotten my children's interest. What's next?
History is fascinating! What fun to explore other time periods, meet exciting people, and watch historic events unfold.
Immersion is a great way to learn and remember history. Simply immerse yourself in the time period by listening to the music, tasting the food, looking at the art, creating some of the crafts, and digging deeper into the people who made things happen, the places where they happened, and the events that did happen.
History immersion is made quite easy with history labs. We added history labs to our historical studies years ago, inspired by Diana Waring.
As a homeschool mom, my goal was to "travel back in time" for a visit. We cooked, baked, crafted, created, and enjoyed all kinds of things from whatever time period we studied. Studying pre-American Hawaii, we made a paper mache volcano and hosted a luau. Investigating Ancient Rome, we dressed in Togas, ate lying down, and had a Roman slave sale. Learning about Archaeology, we had our own archaeological dig after we created the different artifacts for each different layers of our tell.
When I was asked to teach history at a homeschool co-op, I decided to have discussion time followed by history labs. The children read at home and we discussed the time period together in a relaxed way, often laughing and doing some "imagine if" kind of thinking. The labs became an instant hit, so I kept doing them. Soon, I realized that the best part was that for most history labs, all ages could do the lab together. I loved that! We loved learning together as a family.
I'm not sure which we love more about history: historical literature or history labs. Let me tell you a little about history labs you can do in your homeschool or homeschool co-op.
Homeschooling has been a breeze and you love it: reading aloud, field trips, doing projects together, and learning new things. You are close to your child and enjoy life together.
One day you wake up and there is a new person inside your son's or daughter's body. They look the same--well, a little bit more manly or womanly. But, whoa, he or she is a completely different person. And yet, sometimes, they seem just like they did before.
What is happening?
Welcome to the Middle School years. Bodies are changing, hormones are raging, intellect is sharpening, and emotions are all over the place.
To experience joy and success in Middle School, you must determine to redefine normal for your young man or woman. Middle schoolers are transforming into men and women. That transformation isn't always easy.
Lavish your middle schooler with love and respect, whether they deserve it or not. Make yourself available as a listening ear and be a safe person they can pour their hearts out to.
On the positive side, middle schoolers are entering new phases of thinking, reasoning, analyzing, and other ways of thinking and learning. You can have intellectual and deep conversations with a middle schooler. They have interesting and exciting perspectives--it's so much fun to hear them!
This is the transition time between childhood and adulthood, both emotionally and intellectually.
History is exciting!
History is full of drama, intrigue, and stories.
Studying history is important to know the past, to understand our heritage, so we can plan for the future.
It breaks my heart to see some children and teens learn history in a dry, dreary way so that they end up hating the subject.
How we teach history can often determine if our students will enjoy learning about the past.
My children all love history! I think it's because we had so much fun learning history together.
Let me share how we learn history the fun way!
Travel Back in Time
There I was with a high schooler, a middle schooler, two in elementary school, and a preschooler who wanted to be involved. I felt pulled in so many different directions. I hadn't yet learned to teach literature, writing, arts, music, and history together.
Is it possible to teach all ages together?
Yes it is! You can even teach science together, too. Math, I was never able to do.
One thing I have found in teaching all ages together is that it builds family unity. It is fun to learn together and the togetherness makes it even more fun!
We enjoyed participating in 4H for many years during our homeschooling journey.
It was a wonderful blessing for our family.
Although 4H is a county and state government-run program, we were blessed with so many new friends who supported homeschooling nad encouraged us in our journey. Our 4H group was made up entirely of Christian homeschoolers.
In our group, each mother was also a helper, but the children were able to hold different offices in the club such as president, secretary, chaplain, or treasurer. 4H also exposes children to parliamentary procedure and the different offices of a club. The secretary took minutes, the treasurer collected dues and managed the money, and the chaplain opened in prayer. The children learned to make a motion and second that motion!
How 4H Enriched Our Home School
Let me take you back in time to when my oldest daughter, Katie Beth was 12 and her younger sister Julianna was 9. Jimmy was a newborn baby, Shine was almost 2 and Jenny Rose was 6.
With four daughters to prepare for motherhood and homemaking, I had set aside Thursdays to teach my daughter homemaking skills such as sewing, cooking, baking, hospitality, needlework, laundry, interior decorating, and card-making.
Our homemaking days were precious days. This, of course, was before the hustle-bustle of high school.
For several years I enjoyed my homemaking days alone with the girls. But other years, other homeschooling moms joined me and we have co-oped. What fun and fellowship for the girls as they learned skills that I don't have such as knitting and cake decorating.
"The dates just swirl around in my head," my daughter complained.
"Well, I don't need you to memorize them. Just know how they fit together--what happened in the same general time period," I comforted her.
When she gave me an exasperated look, I knew we had to get out a timeline, or better yet, make one.
Timelines are wonderful!
What are the most important books to read in your lifetime?
Different folks have different ideas on that. Here are the 100 books I think everyone should read at least once in their lifetime.
So many books; so little time.
The Holy Bible is the only book written by God. Yes, God wrote through men, but He is the Author. The Lord has so much love, truth, and wisdom to reveal to every heart in the world through His Word. In fact, this is the only book you could read for five hours every day of your life and glean new insights each day. God is so good! I love the Bible!
Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan is a timeless classic written in the 1600's by a Puritan preacher who was arrested for his faith. Now, here's what's so cool about this book: John had a dream and wrote the dream down. Pilgrim's Progress is an allegory, a tale within a tale. The surface adventure is full of action with every place, character, and action representing a spiritual truth. In Colonial America and Early America, every household had at least two books: The Holy Bible and Pilgrim's Progress.
Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is a timeless classic written in the Victorian Age and set during the French Revolution. Moving between England and France, this story is the best historical fiction story ever written with a beautiful picture of genuine love as a man gives his life for another. Wow! This book is an exciting story with characters you will love and others you will hate. And of course, it begins with the classic "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe is mentioned in every history book I've ever read, but so few Americans actually read this classic. "Is this the woman who wrote the book that started the Civil War?" Abe Lincoln asked when he met the author. Find out why it is such a powerful book by reading it! You will love Tom. He is an amazing Christian man who returns evil with good. What a great story!
Last week, we kicked off our brand new year of homeschool co-op.
This year we are studying Geography, among other things. We decided to kick off the first meeting (where we pass out books and meet with teachers) with a plane trip to Heathrow, Tel Aviv, and back to MCO, or Orlando's airport.
We wanted the children to get a sense of Traveling the Whole World this year so we decided to make it really fun!
Of course, taking a plane trip overseas means passports and boarding passes. And to get a passport, you have to apply for one and get your picture taken.
Okay, it was a lot of work--but everyone had a blast. The kids brought their application form to the Custom's agent and received a passport and boarding passes (yes, I know it's a little bit different than the real world).
Passports & Plane Rides
The very best way to explore the world would be to travel. Plane trips, boat trips, train rides, and long walks.
God has made such an amazing world and there is so much to learn about it! I love studying geography! I would love to travel around the world to learn everything there is to learn.
Years ago, Laura and I had a geography co-op that we kicked off with a plane ride complete with passports and boarding passes.
It was so fun that we decided to do it again this year since we are studying geography again..
I talked to my husband Mike and our friend Sam. Both agreed to help. Sam got super-creative and this was the best plane ride ever!
We decided to have it in our church sanctuary because it was easy to move the stackable chairs around and set up dividers.
Would you like to know how we did it?