Q&A with Veteran Homeschooling Mothers: Part 12

With all the benefits these "extra" subjects provide, we need to make sure there is a balance! Kelly's wise words serve as a warning to those of us who have a tendency to "major on the minors."  Keeping things in the right perspective and in the correct order will keep you from burning out down the road.

In addition to math and language arts, is it a good use of time to include regular studies on science, history, art, music, and/or foreign  language for my elementary aged children?  Why or Why not?

"Isn’t it all good?  If it works for the family and most importantly for the mom to get all the subjects in on a weekly basis then, of course, it’s good.  The education of the children is important and that is a main reason to home educate, but the health and strength of the mom is of utmost importance.  This is a marathon, not a sprint. There is quite a bit of responsibility placed on the mom in home educating.  She is a teacher, a cook, a servant, a wife, a friend, a lover, a nurse, a daughter,  a driver, the schedule keeper, the menu planner, the house keeper, the life coach and many times the chaplain. If the mom can get it all in and maintain her joy, peace, health and marriage that is amazing.  Looking back, I’ve seen many families that started out strong and the mom crashed years down the road.  I’ve seen a few other families that it looks like they did get it all in and all seems well.  Our family never got it all in.  Never.  While I wish, of course, we had done “more,”  I would never sacrifice our time spent in our devotionals or the free time exploring, playing music and being together as a family."

Thank you for following along with us in the blog series!  In case you've missed past Q&A's, click below to hear from the other veteran homeschool mothers:

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 1

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 2

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 3

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 4

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 5

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 6

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 7

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 8

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 9

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 10

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 11

Q&A with Veteran Homeschooling Mothers: Part 11

As discussed in the previous post, we hear once again about the benefits of including "extras" in schooling.  Laura gives us a peek into what her family included in their home school. Tailor your child's learning to his gifts, and follow the Lord's leading for your family.

In addition to math and language arts, is it a good use of time to include regular studies on science, history, art, music, and/or foreign  language for my elementary aged children?  Why or Why not?

"Adding science, history, art, music, and/or foreign language for the elementary years depends upon what you and your husband decide is valuable, what your family interests are, and where you see God gifting your children.  For our family, that was history and music.  We loved studying history together and reading all the wonderful children's historical fiction and biographies!  We were blessed to be able to travel quite a bit, so we greatly enjoyed seeing the historical sights and seeing in person the places that we had studied.  Music was important to me and we saw music as our daughter's gifting, so we included music.  Some of that included lessons, but also listening to various genres of music and singing to start our day.  We did not do a true science curriculum in the elementary years, more nature study and fun experiments.  They didn't love science until they reached high school and were exposed to more of an apologetics bent to science.  But some families love science and spend lots of time in it as we did in other areas.  I taught some art early on, as in drawing.  My husband was not concerned that I teach art appreciation or go any further with art training.  We did not see a need to include foreign language, but if we saw that our family, for example, would be taking mission trips to Mexico, we would have included learning Spanish.  A few years after graduation, my daughter did go through the whole Rosetta Stone curriculum to learn German on her own, as we took a trip to Germany and Austria.  So I would suggest discussing with your husband and together deciding what is best for your family in these areas based on interests and how you see God gifting your children.  Giving them the tools and desire to be life-long learners is more important than trying to squeeze in everything you or others may think essential."

In case you've missed past Q&A's, click below to hear from the other veteran homeschool mothers:

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 1

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 2

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 3

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 4

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 5

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 6

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 7

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 8

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 9

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 10

  Laura has homeschooled for 15 years and completed her homeschool journey in 2010.  She has 2 children; Emily was homeschooled 1st - 12th grade. Daniel was homeschooled Pre-K - 12th grade.  Laura has homeschooled in both Texas and Kansas. 

Laura has homeschooled for 15 years and completed her homeschool journey in 2010.  She has 2 children; Emily was homeschooled 1st - 12th grade. Daniel was homeschooled Pre-K - 12th grade.  Laura has homeschooled in both Texas and Kansas. 


Q&A with Veteran Homeschooling Mothers: Part 10

We LPL ladies LOVE science, history, art, music, and foreign language, but many families stick to the basics of learning reading, writing, and arithmetic.  We polled several more experienced home educators and asked them what they thought.  Sally's resounding "YES!" to including "extras" in regular studies helps explain the impact these subjects had on her children.

In addition to math and language arts, is it a good use of time to include regular studies on science, history, art, music, and/or foreign language for my elementary aged children?  Why or why not?

"My answer is whole-heartedly, yes!  It increases their desire to learn...but in that I am not saying with early-elementary ages you need to buy curriculum for every one of these subjects.  Because we did not begin our home school until our daughters were ages 10, 7, {and newborn who was always in on everything from her get-go}…we had experienced a public “languages” school beginning in kindergarten.  I gleaned from that experience what I liked.  I actually loved the arts!  If we had not moved to Denver from Cincinnati, our daughters may have remained forever in the bilingual school.  I mean we had given up a sub-zero winter night and day to wait in line for their enrollment.  Had we not moved to Denver I do not know if I would have learned about home schooling via a long route of frustration to re-find the good we had in that bilingual school.  Mastery of a second language was always a goal and we tried several curriculums finally landing with Rosetta Stone.  It is expensive, but most valued to me, and the one purchase will last through all of your children.  This goal did open interesting doors for our daughters.

Getting back to the youngness of your school here…this might interest you and resolve an overwhelmed feeling of ‘how can I get this all in?’ - Our Monday mornings were motivated by a virtual tour through a museum.  We traveled the world that way.  Science experiments were always a midweek highlight.  Fridays seemed made for recovery of the house, field trips or the ‘art’ project for the week...  History was done with simple study projects and reading mostly that I did aloud, and we did stay in time-line order beginning with Bible history.  All of our daughters seemed to gain a real love for learning history current and past.  This is just the place that you will need to create to the personalities of your children and how the Lord leads you and your husband.  Again I would emphasize that you do not need to buy expensive curriculum, but it would not hurt to go to a home school conference and peruse through what is out there and the resource you have here with the LPL website is most helpful.  Sometimes it takes seeing something to trigger your creative juices!!

Consider what your strengths are…do you have a love for certain art forms?  Do you have friends that have, say, a love for science that you could swap your ideas for art such as weaving or print making?  You really can create your own way through these areas of learning especially while your children are young, but this is the ideal place in study to join with a few other families in forming a small co-op group.  Until 5th grade, I did not give grades for any of the extras, but would quarterly write a summary of what had been done…my girls were satisfied with big smiley faces and stickers!  We photographed every project, experiment, field trip and collected those all along with the summary and kept them together in a book/folder of our year.

I hope this has answered your question of why.  I do not have an answer for why not because we did them all.  Enjoy this young time you have to teach your sons and daughters."

In case you've missed past Q&A's, click below to hear from the other veteran homeschool mothers:

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 1

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 2

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 3

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 4

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 5

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 6

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 7

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 8

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 9

  Sally has homeschooled for 17 years during which her three daughters also attended bilingual, public, and private schools.  Her middle child attended public high school, while the eldest and youngest graduated from homeschool.  Sally homeschooled in Colorado and Texas, along with teaching in her local co-op.  

Sally has homeschooled for 17 years during which her three daughters also attended bilingual, public, and private schools.  Her middle child attended public high school, while the eldest and youngest graduated from homeschool.  Sally homeschooled in Colorado and Texas, along with teaching in her local co-op.  

Q&A with Veteran Homeschooling Mothers: Part 9

As a teacher, it can be so disheartening, even aggravating, to have a student who simply doesn't want to work.  At one time or another, we have all been there!  Anita gives us several great pointers to help us discover the root of the problem, motivate the bored student, and help change negative attitudes.

How did you handle the distracted child who has an, “I don’t want to do schoolwork” attitude?"

"It helps to understand what the child's learning style is.  Is he visual, auditory, or does he  like to work with his hands?  While we can't cater to this style in every lesson, we can look for curriculum choices that would best suit the student.  Avoid busy work, and make each lesson count.  Remember the goal is to educate the child, not to complete the curriculum.

For a disinterested student, schedule his least favorite subjects first, and let him finish with his favorite or least difficult.  This minimizes the sense of dread.  Consider giving 'recess' breaks between subjects to give the young student something to look forward to throughout the day.  It also helps to have a stopping point in the day.  If the child knows that 3:00 will bring free time,  he might be willing to work until then.  On the other hand, if he has given in to distraction and has not finished his assignments, he may need to either work past 3, or return to school work after dinner, but a stopping point gives him something to work towards.

Of course, not wanting to do school at all is an attitude issue; consider teaching him what the Word says about an obedient child who honors his parents, as well as the contrast in Proverbs between a wise and foolish son.  Sometimes these lessons are far more important than the academic lessons, so we need to be willing to sacrifice one for the other because our time is limited."

In case you've missed past Q&A's, click below to hear from the other veteran homeschool mothers:

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 1

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 2

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 3

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 4

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 5

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 6

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 7

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 8

  Anita is in her 21st year of home-educating in Texas!  She has schooled four children through high school graduation, and hopes to home school her 5th child five more years to complete high school as well.  Anita is excited to be a part of this blog series!

Anita is in her 21st year of home-educating in Texas!  She has schooled four children through high school graduation, and hopes to home school her 5th child five more years to complete high school as well.  Anita is excited to be a part of this blog series!

Q&A with Veteran Homeschooling Mothers: Part 8

The pressure placed on young children by our educational systems to preform well on tests and meet certain educational milestones is at an all time high.  As home educators, it's tempting to compare our child's development against such standards and to other children around us.  Mixing modern educational expectations with a young child who lacks motivation can result in a stressful combination for both the homeschooling mother and her child.  Linda offers practical insight on how to deal with young children who lack focus in their home studies by touching on the developmental and behavioral aspects.  Thank you Linda for your "freeing" words of wisdom!

 How did you handle the distracted child who had an, “I don’t want to do schoolwork” attitude?"

"'Bless your heart, young mother,' as we say in the South!  All homeschooling moms have endured the struggle you describe.  How do we 'do school' without being a replica of what we are trying to avoid?  I think the first thing to remember is that when we are homeschooling, learning is taking place all day every day and we are the primary teachers.  That being said, try not to think of 'school' as just the learning that takes place from a book or a curriculum.  It doesn't have to take place at a desk, or even sitting down.  The lack of focus and attention that you describe with your 5 year old may be just a typical immaturity for his age.  It will be a process, not an event, to bring him along and some of it will resolve with time as he matures.
   My suggestion is to be purposeful each day to introduce him to different concepts and life skills that he can manage; in other words take each opportunity to instruct through the exposures throughout the day.  For example, find things to count with him to reinforce the rote memorization of number sequencing in a fun way.  Play word games, do puzzles, read, expand his vocabulary by example.  Read to him about any and everything he is interested in. At this age, do a lot of hands on creative activities.  You may already be doing that and wonder if you are doing enough curriculum 'stuff.'  At his age I was spending about an hour or two a day, broken down into shorter segments, with my girls on actual 'school' activities.  But, I spent a lot of time with them on field trips, reading, library visits, crafts, anything outside!  Note the things he is really resistant to and consider if he is just not physically able (writing, for example) or if you might need to break down some of the subjects into smaller segments.  Teach for mastery, not speed. ; )
   If he is totally disobedient or disrespectful about doing 'school' then it may involve a discipline problem that needs to be gently but firmly corrected.  If that is the case, then I suggest that you lay down a daily 'school' requirement that he can manage and reward him with praise or a special activity when he completes it.  As the focus and discipline, and hopefully interest, increase you can add more time or more curriculum to his day.  The point is, set him (and you) up to succeed and build from there.
   Try to avoid comparing your son with the 'prodigy' down the street or at church.  God has gifted him with a unique set of skills and abilities.  Your job is to help him identify what his strengths and inclinations are and maximize those.  You are uniquely qualified to do that, because you know him best.
  On a final note, don't be afraid to 'call it a day' when nothing is working out on a particular day. That is the beauty of homeschooling...we have the freedom to do something different!  Don't forget that the most important accomplishments from homeschooling come not just from the curriculum completed, but from the emotional, spiritual, and physical progressions.  Those are enduring!"

In case you've missed past Q&A's, click below to hear from the other veteran homeschool mothers:

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 1

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 2

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 3

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 4

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 5

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 6

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 7

 Linda holds a B.S. in education. She home educated her three daughters through high school in the state of Georgia, all of whom have gone on to college to further their education.  For the last 20 years, Linda has taught high school enrichment classes such as creative writing, literature, and SAT prep for other home school students.

Linda holds a B.S. in education. She home educated her three daughters through high school in the state of Georgia, all of whom have gone on to college to further their education.  For the last 20 years, Linda has taught high school enrichment classes such as creative writing, literature, and SAT prep for other home school students.

Q&A with Veteran Homeschooling Mothers: Part 7

Because Lynette is a mother of five, we have much to gain from her wisdom on teaching multiple ages at home!  She makes excellent points concerning what education is and what it is not, and encourages us to develop our own philosophy for why we homeschool.

1.)     What did your days look like when you were trying to give instruction to the older children with the little ones constantly needing attention?   What were some favorite ways to keep younger children occupied while you taught your older children?

"I would say 'what to to with the little ones' is probably the most common difficulty homeschoolers may face.  Manageable but difficult.  We always had 'charges' where an older one was assigned to a younger child.  The older was taught designated preschool activities like stroller time, backyard time, singing time, high chair cheerios time, Scripture memorization when they could talk, play dough time (the all time best pre school activity),  interaction with educational toys, etc.  This I 'recorded' as Early Childhood Education that I put on all their high school transcripts. Take advantage of that mid-morning baby/toddler nap to get lots done.
We did not have a 'rigid sit at a desk for hours' type home schooling, so younger ones could fit in easier."

2.)     How did you handle the distracted child who had an, “I don’t want to do schoolwork” attitude?"

"If a child is complaining a lot about doing schoolwork maybe you have communicated a 'school as drudgery' attitude?  Education is lighting a fire, not filling a bucket.  We home schooled out of a Deut. 6:6,7 motivation, where it was more of a discipleship all day long vs home school for a few hours mentality.  We did limited seat work, with much hands on, going on field trips, experiencing nature, library story time, lots of service and work and chores, and tons of reading out loud.  Maybe you need to change your home school philosophy.  Make sure to spend time educating yourself (more than you educate your child) about home schooling, education, early childhood, parenting, etc...  It takes time to develop your philosophy and what the Lord is calling you to as a family.  Spend lots of time seeking God for what this looks like for you....then experience His grace!!!"

In case you've missed past Q&A's, click below to hear from the other veteran homeschool mothers:

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 1

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 2

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 3

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 4

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 5

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 6

 Lynette was a home school pioneer, homeschooling before it was accepted in many parts.  She home schooled for 28 years in Texas and has five successful home school graduates.

Lynette was a home school pioneer, homeschooling before it was accepted in many parts.  She home schooled for 28 years in Texas and has five successful home school graduates.

Q&A with Veteran Homeschooling Mothers: Part 6

Next we hear from Sally as she reflects on her homeschool journey.  Thank you Sally, for your insightful words and wisdom!  We can't wait to check out your book recommendation, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made!

Looking back, what was something about your homeschool journey that you are glad you did? What would you have done differently?

"The two above questions have prompted some thoughtful searching, and of course hindsight is 20:20.  My husband and I will have different answers and I may come back to it with his.  Firmly, we are both unclouded by any dilemma encountered over our choice to home school.  My answer is simple and thus: we read aloud to our daughters everyday… even on the sick days, even on the weekends, even when my husband began working out-of-state.  I read in our days usually biographies, missionary stories, historical fictions {I found books to read aloud for every subject}; Craig read in the evenings, his choice… sometimes just a good book such as, Rifles for Watie and added all the voices… sometimes all of The Chronicles of Narnia for the umpteenth time… countless books over 17 years.  This continued by phone when he was not home.  And it continues today… if any of our now adult daughters are home {including their husbands}, they gather and listen with pleasure, and sometimes request a reread of a certain book. Emphasizing this, we read with precedence over any other subject.  This is not to say that the Word wasn’t priority or commonly our reading choice outside of devotions; it was.  But reading as we did created an understanding of the Bible as the one whole story {that it is} of Salvation.  This was core to being ‘our’ family home school.  Reading aloud creates a closeness that cannot be denied.  It creates interest in learning that prompts children to get excited for the next gathering. It helps us all develop compassion for what is happening in the world beyond ourselves, speaking from the types of books we read.  It creates an amazing ability to listen that is rare in our society.  It creates a unique ability to memorize and helps in the writing they will need to accomplish in their future college studies.  It creates a conversational ability that is grounded in truth.  And in case you would want to know my personal favorite??  It was/is Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, by Dr. Paul Brand son of Granny Brand, missionary to India.  It is a powerful and the most compassionate work of one man to the most undesired of all, lepers. It has been read over and over.  Maybe enough said ;)

As for what would I have done differently?  Honestly, I spent too much on curriculum.  I would search harder for the way to accomplish our school for less.  I blame myself for some financial crippling in what I spent on curriculum as we were living on one income.  You will always be able to pick on yourself about something you have or haven’t done in your school.  My encouragement is to press forward and clearly know that the Lord travels this path with you.  So closely.  Find, with these things, what God is trying to teach YOU.  It is a privilege even with the choices you will make that may not have been ideal. I give you this Word:
”And how blessed all those in whom You live,
Whose lives become roads You travel;
They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks,
Discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!
God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and
At the last turn—Zion! God in full view!”
Psalm 84:5-7 the message/Peterson"

In case you've missed past Q&A's, click below to hear from the other veteran homeschool mothers:

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 1

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 2

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 3

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 4

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 5

  Sally has homeschooled for 17 years during which her three daughters also attended bilingual, public, and private schools.  Her middle child attended public high school, while the eldest and youngest graduated from homeschool.  Sally homeschooled in Colorado and Texas, along with teaching in her local co-op.  

Sally has homeschooled for 17 years during which her three daughters also attended bilingual, public, and private schools.  Her middle child attended public high school, while the eldest and youngest graduated from homeschool.  Sally homeschooled in Colorado and Texas, along with teaching in her local co-op.  

Q&A with Veteran Homeschooling Mothers: Part 5

We all have things we wish we had done differently, and other things we wouldn't change, even given the opportunity!  Thank you for your example, Laura, of listening to the voice of the Lord and following hard after Him!  May we glean wisdom from all these women who have paved the way before us...following in their footsteps where the Lord leads.

Looking back, what was something about your homeschool journey that you are glad you did?  What would you have done differently?

"Looking back, there are several things I am glad we did.

1.) We followed God's leading for our family, even though it was quite different from our friends.  We homeschooled to the "beat of a different drummer" from most around us, but it was God's beat for our family, which gave great peace and contentment.  When given the choice to join in what their friends were doing school-wise, my childrens' choice was 'no'.
2.) We geared our high school years according to their interests and giftings.
3.) We inspired our children to be great readers by buying lots of "old" books (reprints from the 1800's), I spent more money on books than on curriculum.
4.) We took them to worldview seminars and biblical conferences to expose them to the great biblical thinkers of our day and expose them to Christian apologetics.  Both my children are apologists in their field of interest.
5.) My husband and I wrote out a document titled "Why We Homeschool".  It listed our reasons and Scriptures for why we were homeschooling.  Back then, I carried around a planner and it was always in my planner.  Once I migrated to a smart phone, it was always with me there.  This was so helpful and encouraging for me.  When the seasons got hard (and there will be hard seasons in your homeschool journey), I could reread this (and reread and reread) and rest in God's plan for our family.  It brought me back into focus when circumstances clouded my view.

What would I have done differently?  Not much overall.  I would have looked into using a different math curriculum when they got older, something that would have been a better fit.  I would have worked on writing skills more diligently when in high school. Both my children are writers in their own respects, in different ways, but they each needed refining in some areas."

In case you've missed the other Q&A's, click below to hear from the other veteran homeschool mothers:

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 1

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 2

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 3

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 4

 Laura has homeschooled for 15 years and completed her homeschool journey in 2010.  She has 2 children; Emily was homeschooled 1st - 12th grade. Daniel was homeschooled Pre-K - 12th grade.  Laura has homeschooled in both Texas and Kansas.

Laura has homeschooled for 15 years and completed her homeschool journey in 2010.  She has 2 children; Emily was homeschooled 1st - 12th grade. Daniel was homeschooled Pre-K - 12th grade.  Laura has homeschooled in both Texas and Kansas.



Q&A with Veteran Homeschooling Mothers: Part 4

Over the years, Karen has been a huge encouragement and wealth of information when it comes to homeschooling!  We are excited to have her on the blog today!

Thank you Karen for these practical words of wisdom.

1.) Looking back, what was something about your homeschool journey that you are glad you did?  What would you have done differently?

2.) What did your days look like when you were trying to give instruction to the older children with the little ones constantly needing attention?  What were some favorite ways to keep younger children occupied while you taught your older children?

"Character and obedience before academics.  These wise words were given to me by a seasoned homeschooling mom.  She said if you can teach obedience, academics will fall into place.  I found that to be true.  When my oldest children began school and I still had smaller children to keep occupied, I would use nap time, a 30 minute video, coloring, building blocks or play dough time for the younger children while teaching the core classes such as math and reading to the older ones.  When the younger children needed attention, I would assign art or handwriting to the older children.  If the younger children were not settling down, we would set up a reward system for being obedient.  Some may call it bribes, we called it incentives because then it became a game.  As they got older, I began to assign lessons to be read on their own to begin being “self-taught”.  If they had questions, I would step in and explain the lesson or if they completely missed the concept, we would back up and I would go over it with them.  This would give me more time with the younger ones to begin the basic lessons of math and reading.  We taught throughout the day and didn’t try to stay on a specific time schedule.  Flexibility worked better for us and was a lot less frustrating.  Sticking to a time schedule frustrated the kids and me and learning wasn’t fun anymore.  Finding a schedule that works for your family is critical to being successful.  It is so easy to compare to other families but your children are not like their children.  Don’t compare.  Looking back, if I had the choice to homeschool again, I would.  Considering where our country is now, the one thing that I would have done differently would be to have the kids fluent in Spanish.  It would be an asset to employment opportunities after college."

In case you've missed the other Q&A's, click below to hear from the other veteran homeschool mothers:

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 1

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 2

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 3

 

 Karen and her husband decided to homeschool after her husband completed student teaching for his degree.  What he experienced in the classroom was not what they wanted for their children.  They began attending the homeschool book fair in Arlington when their oldest was 4 years old.  They told themselves they would take one year at a time, then reevaluate whether to continue home educating.  Well, 17 years later, and still in the great state of Texas, they are finishing up their last school year with their youngest child.  Karen has a daughter working on her doctorate and two children working on their undergrad degrees.  God has truly blessed their decision, and they wouldn't change it for anything.   

Karen and her husband decided to homeschool after her husband completed student teaching for his degree.  What he experienced in the classroom was not what they wanted for their children.  They began attending the homeschool book fair in Arlington when their oldest was 4 years old.  They told themselves they would take one year at a time, then reevaluate whether to continue home educating.  Well, 17 years later, and still in the great state of Texas, they are finishing up their last school year with their youngest child.  Karen has a daughter working on her doctorate and two children working on their undergrad degrees.  God has truly blessed their decision, and they wouldn't change it for anything.

 

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 3

Homeschooling while trying to keep little ones occupied can be frustrating and overwhelming at times.  Anita offers practical advice on this topic.  Thank you Anita for sharing your heart and wise words with us.

Question:  What did your days look like when you were trying to give instruction to the older children with the little ones constantly needing attention?  What were some favorite ways to keep younger children occupied while you taught your older children?

"So many of those days looked very chaotic at best!!  My agenda to get the assignments accomplished often clashed with God's greater agenda to sanctify my heart.  We have to learn to remember who's agenda is the most important; ours, or God's which is to remind us that we are poor, weak, and in need of Him for parenting and home-educating.  He wants us to recognize our need, boast in our weakness, and cry out to Him for strength, perseverance, wisdom, resourcefulness, and grace.  In so doing, every achievement brings glory not to us or our children, but to God who may or may not have enabled us to complete our agenda!  A good day isn't defined by a completed agenda, but by walking in the Spirit no matter what interruptions (trials) we may face.

My best days included remembering this big picture and knowing when to let go of my plans.  When I held on too tightly, anger would often be the generator of completion.  Man's anger might achieve completed lessons, but the Word says it will not bring about the righteousness of God.  Every interruption should be viewed as opportunity to model patience and grace for your children.  It's an opportunity to show the value of walking in the spirit over completed academics.

Some ideas [to occupy young children] are to rotate the older kids out to play with the younger, or save special toys for school hours, or school during naps, or train the baby to play happily in a play pen nearby, etc.. When the trial continues, stop and pray for wisdom and grace.  In this, the children learn beyond academics, they learn about the humble Christian walk and God's faithfulness."

In case you've missed the other Q&A's, click below to hear from the other veteran homeschool mothers:

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 1

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 2

  Anita is in her 21st year of home-educating in Texas!  She has schooled four children through high school graduation, and hopes to home school her 5th child five more years to complete high school as well.  Anita is excited to be a part of this blog series!

Anita is in her 21st year of home-educating in Texas!  She has schooled four children through high school graduation, and hopes to home school her 5th child five more years to complete high school as well.  Anita is excited to be a part of this blog series!

 

 

Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 2

Today, we will hear from lovely Kelly about her personal home school journey.  Thank you, Kelly, for for sharing your story with us!  If you missed the last Q&A post, April's encouraging response to the same question can be found here.

Question:  Looking back on your homeschool journey, what are you glad you did, and what would you have done differently?

"Looking back over my homeschool journey, the early years were the sweetest.  There are several things I feel we did well.  I can boil our journey into 3 main points I am most grateful for: our morning devotionals, not having a T.V., and free unscheduled time.

The first was being committed to our morning devotionals.  Our non-negotiable morning routine began with good habits, which entailed morning chores; we ate breakfast afterwards (2 Thess. 3: 10 “don’t work, don’t eat), and then had our family morning devotional.  We read or memorized scripture or I presented to my children what I was learning in my own Bible study.  Sometimes it was short, sometimes it was long, and on some crazy days that is all we got done.  I wanted to model “The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Not being an academic or intellectual mom I was convinced then, and still even now, that I’d never “make it” without generous portions of the Lord’s strength and His guidance and blessing.  Through the early years, I read tips and advice on ways to do devotionals better, I searched curricula and fretted over doing them “right.”  Now looking back I can see all I needed was the Bible, a little Spurgeon or Chambers and, if possible, some of my own quiet time with the Lord.  If given the opportunity to start over, I would, without a doubt, do my morning devotionals again...even if it meant that was all we would get done that day.

The second element of our journey that I would do again is limiting screen time.  I realize that this is more difficult now than ever.  When our older two were young the only time they were in front of a screen was when I was desperate for a little extra time and they watched a video.  Limited screen time was valuable for 2 reasons.  First the T.V. and internet expose the viewer to images, ideas and influences that shape our thinking without us even knowing.  I never wanted my young children to be introduced to something new without me knowing or watching too.  Early on I saw my children’s hearts and minds to be empty gardens with fertile, soft soil.  Whatever seed was planted would surely grow.  It was a mission and passion for me to carefully watch over every seed planted in those early years.  The second reason we did not have “screen time” in the early years was to provide plenty of time for mind engaging activities.  My young children were not entangled by the T.V. or internet and they had generous amounts of time to read, play music, explore and create.  Someone told me when I was a young mom that it was good to have bored children...that is when they begin to think and create on their own.  That certainly proved to be true in my homeschool journey.

The third element that I would do over in my homeschool journey is not being overly scheduled in the early years.  While outside activities are good, and it is often hard to choose, I would be vigilant over my children’s precious time.  Unscheduled, uncluttered time outside or inside with a peaceful mom is never to be undervalued.  [One outside activity that I would do again is early childhood music classes.  Music has continued to be a blessing to us through the older years and was worth the time we spent.]  Our unscheduled time was filled with reading, playing outside, creating, exploring, cooking, playing music, and enjoying being together.

There are a few things I would have done differently.  Our family struggled to find a church home and therefore had a difficult time making long lasting friends and building a network of families to walk this journey with us.  If given the opportunity to do this again, I would have looked over many of the issues we had with the churches we were involved in, get settled, and live in relationship with other families more intimately.

The other thing I would have done differently as a wife and mom is difficult to write about.  Simply put, I would have prayed more and complained/controlled less.  I am a passionate, sensitive and emotional person, and often times I would push my convictions and concerns on my husband instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work or give my husband a chance.  This created an imbalance in our home that has not born good fruit. Ultimately, it is a trust issue.  Do I trust the Lord to work out His purposes in our home?  Do I trust Him to lead my husband?  Is it up to me to “make it happen?”  Do I really believe that He will complete the good work He has begun?  Can I trust Him?

Looking back over my homeschool journey, I am so glad we did our devotionals, didn't sit in front of the screen and had generous amounts of free time.  I regret not being committed to a church home through the years and wish that I had trusted the Lord more earnestly.  I see the Lord working in each one of my educated, intelligent, thinking children in ways that only He can, and my family is beautiful inside and out.  The journey isn't over, and it has been worth every sanctifying and satisfying moment."

 Kelly has homeschooled in the state of Texas for 14 years and has four children.

Kelly has homeschooled in the state of Texas for 14 years and has four children.



Q&A with Veteran Homeschool Mothers: Part 1

We are incredibly thankful for these dear women who have given of their precious time to answer homeschooling questions!  Their responses are filled with encouragement, grace, and honesty.  We've already been deeply encouraged by them and trust you will be as well.

While these ladies would never claim to have perfect families, we wish you could meet them in person.  It's very evident that these women (along with their husbands) have been extremely intentional in the training up of their children.  Whether you homeschool or not, there is a host of wisdom packed in their responses.

There were common themes in many of the questions that were submitted,  so we narrowed them down to four.  Because every family and homeschooling experience is unique, we thought it would be most beneficial to have a variety of responses to all four questions.

Over the next few weeks, we'll be featuring multiple responses (to all four questions) from these ladies. Today, we will hear from April.

Question #1:  Looking back on your homeschool journey, what are you glad you did, and what would you have done differently?

"I am really glad I didn't give up when I was discouraged and lacking in confidence. All of us are insecure in our parenting. We love our children so much and want the very best for them. So much so that sometimes we feel like someone else (as in a "professional") could do a better job, especially when we are facing family challenges such as a move to a new home, a pregnancy, an illness, money issues etc... We feel torn with all these things clamoring for our attention and our energy quickly being used up. Then is when we are most vulnerable to the siren song of society, "Hello, this is the professional educational system calling, and we are here to help."

Bottom line is when we feel overwhelmed and "lost in the tall weeds" of expectations (whether they be personal expectations or the expectations of others) we have got to get back to the "main road."  We need to stay simple and keep the "main thing" the main thing to keep our sanity! Which brings us to the question of what is the "main thing" in raising and educating our children? Is it the proper lesson plans, the right scope and sequence? Is there a magic methodology that causes our children to excel with as little work as possible? What is it exactly that I should be doing to make this all work?

While there are practical home school ideas that can be very helpful, when it comes to overcoming that feeling of discouragement the answer does not lie in "doing" more. Chances are it is the "doing" mind-set that has led us to discouragement in the first place. The freedom and joy we seek is not going to come from a better methodology...it is not a matter of "doing," it is a matter of "being."  It is easy to get caught up in the "Performance Mama" syndrome..."How much can I juggle, keeping us all doing as much good stuff as we possibly can."  Or, it is just as easy to be the "Marathon Mama"..."I am gritting my teeth and finishing this if it kills me." The only light heartedness she feels is when she is commiserating with other women who feel like they are failing as well. After all, confessing our failures is sort of cool now, it looks like humility...but it's not. (However that's a different topic. ;-)) But you see Parenting/Homeschooling is not "all about us" and our capabilities whether good or bad. It is all about following the Lord and His commands concerning how we are to train our children.

The "main thing" is found in these familiar verses.  Deut. 6:4-9
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

First and foremost the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. To love, nurture, and care for the heart and soul of our children is to show them the character of God through the pages of Scripture and through our lives that they might come to know Him and to love Him. That is really the bottom line. This is the unique job the Lord has given to US as parents. No school, public or private, has that responsibility or could do it any better! When you feel inadequate, actually the truth is you are...we all are, but you can trust the Lord will equip you as a parent to carry out His commands. Lean on Him for wisdom, direction, and energy to accomplish what He has asked, He is more than adequate!  There is nothing as rewarding as seeing your child as a new believer begin to manifest the "fruits of the Spirit" (Gal. 5.) There is also no "discipline methodology" that will be as effective in dealing with the sin nature of your child as the work of the Holy Spirit in his or her little life!

So, RELAX and ENJOY "walking along the way" with your children. Help them to simply "love learning" and most importantly learning about our amazing Heavenly Father!  If the love for learning becomes a part of who they are then education becomes a natural way of life even after they leave home. And lastly, three important things: pray for them, stay in the Word yourself, and let your children see the character of the Lord through your walk...and keep on walking this walk even unto the next generations!"

  April h  omeschooled for 16 years in the state of Texas and has two children.

April homeschooled for 16 years in the state of Texas and has two children.

One of those days...

I was having a challenging homeschool day with my children when this airplane flew down from upstairs and landed on the floor.  "Please Grade" it said.  After unfolding the paper airplane, I noticed a sweet little note my daughter had written me, "Dear mom, I know you have had a rough year, I am sorry I have been rough to handle.  I will try to be better."

I felt terrible.  Yes, she had been difficult that day, but I had not responded with kindness.  The LORD used her tender little heart to reveal to me my ugly one, and after lots of hugs and apologies, we had resolved to have a better day!  I can't say I will never have another one of those days, but I can pray for God's help to be patient, kind, and tender hearted toward my children.  I'm thankful for all the ways God uses my CHILDREN to make ME more like HIM. ~meg

 

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Do Not Grow Weary

Homeschooling reaps rewards for children and parents alike - 100 times over!  It is truly a blessing to be a part of a child's education: seeing his face light up when he "gets" a concept, reading aloud a living book while snuggled up on the sofa, and learning fascinating subjects alongside her.  Or just spending time together.  There are days, though, which are challenging.  You know the days... The children don't behave.  The baby makes a huge mess right as school is about to begin.  Mom (or Dad) is not teaching with 2 full cups of coffee in her system.  The children aren't interested in the prepared lessons.  Home school is not for the faint of heart!  One day last week, I was having "one of those days".  I emailed a friend and briefly mentioned a test on which my child flopped.  I felt discouraged.  Why am I home schooling again?  I received this wise and encouraging response in reply (shortened a little, hence all the ellipsis):

"I'm sorry you had a rough homeschooling day!  Don't let that test get you down!  Your past 5 years of hard work HAVE paid off in SO many ways.  In addition to a wonderful education, [your children] are blessed to be with a momma all day who is a godly role model who teaches them about GOD & loves them so much!  Because [they] spend everyday together, they are learning how to get along, love one another, and are developing a close relationship with one other.  [Your son] has plenty of time to tear apart old cell phones (and anything else old he can get his hand on), only to glue it back into new creation.  We're giving our children so much more than a perfect score on a test... The time you have together as a family is a gift!  Time you will NEVER get back... Don't get discouraged!  Our kids are receiving character training right now which is much more important than a test.  Remember, we're still in the middle of it all.  We haven't seen the finished product.  Our children's futures do not rest in a 3rd grade test score.  It's so easy to become anxious and discouraged.  I pray that in these times of anxiousness, we will give it all to the Lord.  He is faithful!  He is our strength!  He is our refuge!"

Galatians 6:9

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."

Do not lose heart, my fellow home schooling friends!  And, by the grace and strength of God, I won't either!  :)