4.03.2016

Mission Accomplished!

Since the summer of 2013, I've been on a mission.

As I wrote in a September post that year:

[I've become] deeply convicted that I am no longer to sell anything of value in terms of children's education - not curriculum, not other educational resources, and not even children's literature. Instead, I'm going to save and store everything I have worth keeping. ...I'm also working to find room in our budget to re-purchase copies of good material I've sold in the past, all of which I'll pack up into totes [for the girls to use with their children in due time]... I may end up with rows of totes stacked floor-to-ceiling, but I don't care.

Ultimately, I agree with Carole Joy Seid, who teaches that any parent can successfully homeschool with just a Bible, a library card, and a math book. But, since I've used curriculum of various sorts over the years and am able to hold onto it if I'd like, I've been on a mission to keep rather than resell the good resources we have; to regain solid material I'd previously sold; and to fill in with a few things I've learned of since launching The Homeschool Resource Roadmap. My goal has been to provide my girls with quality material to use with their children no matter what happens to educational resources over the next couple of decades. I obviously can't purchase multiple copies of most things, so they'll have to share. And they may each find some good resources to supplement what I've been able to collect; in fact, I'll be continuing to add more literature and a few other high school-level resources over the next few years. But my hope has been to gather a basic but complete "homeschooling trousseau" for all ages - a means of blessing my daughters and their husbands as they will undertake the task of educating their own children - so they won't need to add a thing if they don't want to.

And today I am thrilled to report that I have (almost entirely) accomplished what I set out to do! Yes, other than a few more high school-level resources - which I'll add during the girls' high school years - the trousseau is now complete!

In the coming weeks, I'll write some "planning" posts about each content area - i.e., sharing how I used and/or would recommend using these materials. For now, though, I'll simply share my inventory list:

BIBLE/CHRISTIAN LIVING

66 Books, One Story: A Guide to Every Book of the Bible - Reynolds, Paul
100 Most Important Events in Christian History, The - Curtis, A, Kenneth, et. al
131 Christians Everyone Should Know - Galli, Mark
Answers Books for Kids, Volumes 1-4
Bible Knowledge Commentary, The: New Testament - Walvoord, John F. & Roy B. Zuck
Bible Knowledge Commentary, The: Old Testament - Walvoord, John F. & Roy B. Zuck
Child’s Story Bible, The - Vos, Catherine (2 copies)
Egermeier’s Bible Story Book - Egermeier, Elsie (2 copies)
How Should We Then Live? - Schaeffer, Dr. Francis
How Should We Then Live? DVD Series - Schaeffer, Dr. Francis
Leading Little Ones to God: A Child's Book of Bible Teachings - Schoolland, Marian M.
New Answers Book Set, Volumes 1-4
New Answers, DVD Series, Volumes 1-3
New Inductive Study Series, The - Arthur, Kay *
One Year Christian History, The - Rusten, E. Michael & Sharon O. Rusten
On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories... - Morgan, Robert J.
Picture-Smart Bible, The: New Testament - Peters, Dan & Juanene
Picture-Smart Bible, The: Old Testament - Peters, Dan & Juanene
This Day in Christian History: 366 Compelling Events... - Curtis, A. Kenneth & Daniel Graves
Training Hearts, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions... - Meade, Starr

MATH

City Creek Press: Addition the Fun Way: Addition Book for Kids *
City Creek Press: Addition the Fun Way: Addition Clue Cards *
City Creek Press: Addition the Fun Way: Subtraction Cards *
City Creek Press: Times Tables the Fun Way: Times Book for Kids *
City Creek Press: Times Tables the Fun Way: Division Cards *
City Creek Press: Times Tables the Fun Way: Times Clue Cards *
Life of Fred: Statistics

READING 

Phonics/Skill Development & Practice
Amish Pathway Readers: Learning Through Sounds, Book 1 (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Learning Through Sounds, Book 2  (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Learning Through Sounds Teacher's Edition (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Before We Read Teacher's Edition (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Before We Read Workbook (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: First Steps Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Days Go By Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: More Days Go By Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Busy Times Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: More Busy Times Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Climbing Higher Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: New Friends Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: New Friends Teacher's Edition (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: New Friends Workbook (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: More New Friends Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: More New Friends Teacher's Edition (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: More New Friends Workbook (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Building Our Lives Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Building Our Lives Teacher's Edition (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Building Our Lives Workbook (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Living Together Reader  (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Living Together Teacher's Edition (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Living Together Workbook (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Step by Step Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Step by Step Teacher's Edition (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Step by Step Workbook (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Seeking True Values Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Seeking True Values Teacher's Edition (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Seeking True Values Workbook (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Our Heritage Reader (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Our Heritage Teacher's Edition (2 copies)
Amish Pathway Readers: Our Heritage Workbook (2 copies)

Literature/Literary Analysis
BOOKS, BOOKS, AND MORE BOOKS! - all levels, all twaddle-free *
All Through the Ages - Miller, Christine
Book Projects to Send Home: Grade 1 - Sanders, Lori & Linda Kimble *
Book Projects to Send Home: Grade 2 - Sanders, Lori & Linda Kimble *
Book Projects to Send Home: Grade 3 - Sanders, Lori & Linda Kimble *
Book Projects to Send Home: Grade 4 - Sanders, Lori & Linda Kimble *
Book Projects to Send Home: Grade 5 - Sanders, Lori & Linda Kimble *
Honey for a Child’s Heart - Hunt, Gladys
Honey for a Teen’s Heart - Hunt, Gladys
Invitation to the Classics - Guinness, Os & Louise Cowan
Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books - Reinke, Tony
Movies as Literature - Stout, Kathryn L.
Reader’s Odyssey, The - Luchsinger, Dena M.

LANGUAGE ARTS

Composition
Brave Writer: Help for High School
Brave Writer: The Writer’s Jungle
Cover Story Writing
Grading with a Purple Crayon - Luchsinger, Dena
Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW): Student Writing Intensive A
Out of the Holding Tank - Luchsinger, Dena

Elocution/Speech
Jeub's Guide to Speech & Debate, 5th Edition - Jeub, Chris

Grammar
Eats, Shoots & Leaves - Truss, Lynne
King Alfred’s English - White, Laurie J.
Winston Grammar: Advanced Level
Winston Grammar: Basic Level

Penmanship
Inspirational Quotes: Inspiring Quotes for all Seasons - Stebbing, Barry
Pentime Penmanship: Grade 1, Book 1 (2 copies)
Pentime Penmanship: Grade 1, Book 2 (2 copies)
Pentime Penmanship: Grade 2 (2 copies)
Pentime Penmanship: Grade 3 (2 copies)
Pentime Penmanship: Grade 4 (2 copies)
Pentime Penmanship: Grade 5 (2 copies)
Pentime Penmanship: Grade 6 (2 copies)
Pentime Penmanship: Grade 7 (2 copies)
Pentime Penmanship: Grade 8 (2 copies)

Spelling
All About Spelling: Basic Spelling Interactive Kit
All About Spelling: Level 1
All About Spelling: Level 2
All About Spelling: Level 3
All About Spelling: Level 4
All About Spelling: Level 5
All About Spelling: Level 6
All About Spelling: Level 7
Natural Speller

Study Skills
Victus Study Skills

Vocabulary
Rummy Roots Games: Vocabulary Building Games
Word Power Made Easy - Lewis, Norman

SCIENCE

Answers in Genesis: God's Design for Life Complete Series
Berean Builders: Science in the Ancient World 
Berean Builders: Science in the Scientific Revolution
Berean Builders: Science in the Age of Reason
Berean Builders: Book 5 *
Big Book of Play and Find Out Science Projects - VanCleave, Janice
Body of Evidence DVD Series
Creation Illustrated Magazine *
Exploring Creation with General Science, 2nd Edition
Exploring Creation with General Science, 2nd Edition Lapbook Journal
Friendly Chemistry
Go Science DVD Series, Volumes 1-6
Moody Science Classics Complete DVD Series

HISTORY+

American History
1620: Year of the Pilgrims - Foster, Genevieve
Abraham Lincoln's World - Foster, Genevieve
America’s Pioneers and Patriots - Emerson Caroline D.
Andrew Jackson: An Initial Biography - Foster, Genevieve
Child’s First Book of American History, A - Schenck Miers, Earl
Child’s Story of America, A - Christian Liberty Press
Finding a New Land - Christian Liberty Press
From Sea to Shining Sea - Marshall, Peter & David Manuel
George Washington's World - Foster, Genevieve
How to Study the World - Prahl, Stephanie

World History
Annals of the World, The - Ussher, James
Augustus Caesar's World - Foster, Genevieve
Christians, The - 12 Volume Series
Mystery of History, The: Volume 1 - Creation to Resurrection
Mystery of History, The: Volume 2 - The Early Church and the Middle Ages
Mystery of History, The: Volume 3 - The Renaissance, Reformation, and Growth of Nations
Mystery of History, The: Volume 4 - Wars of Independence to Modern Times
Story of the Ancient World, The - Guerber, H.A.
Story of the Greeks, The - Guerber, H.A.
Story of the Romans, The - Guerber, H.A.
Story of the Middle Ages, The - Guerber, H.A.
Story of the Renaissance and Reformation, The - Guerber, H.A.
TruthQuest History: Beginnings - Creation/Old Testament/Ancients/Egypt
TruthQuest History: Ancient Greece
TruthQuest History: Ancient Rome
TruthQuest History: Middle Ages
TruthQuest History: Renaissance, Reformation & Exploration
TruthQuest History: Age of Revolution I (America/Europe, 1600-1800)
TruthQuest History: Age of Revolution II (America/Europe, 1800-1865)
TruthQuest History: Age of Revolution III (America/Europe, 1865-2000)
World of Columbus and Sons - Foster, Genevieve

ART

Artistic Pursuits: Early Elementary Book 1
Artistic Pursuits: Early Elementary Book 2
Artistic Pursuits: Early Elementary Book 3
Artistic Pursuits: Elementary Book 1
Artistic Pursuits: Elementary Book 2
Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists Series - Venezia, Mike *
Masterpiece: The World's Greatest Paintings Art Collection *


MUSIC

America's 200 Favorite Praise Choruses & Hymns - Kee, Ed & Sarah Huffman
Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers Series - Venezia, Mike *
Heart of the Artist, The - Noland, Rory
Hymns for a Kid's Heart, Volume 1 - Wolgemuth, Bobbie & Joni Eareckson Tada
Kids Hymnal, The: 80 Songs & Hymns - Elkins, Stephen
Music and Moments with the Masters - Year 1
Music and Moments with the Masters - Year 2 *
Music and Moments with the Masters - Year 3 *
Music and Moments with the Masters - Year 4 *
Passion Hymns for a Kid's Heart - Wolgemuth, Bobbie & Joni Eareckson Tada
Stories of the Great Composers - Montgomery, June & Maurice Hinson

FOREIGN LANGUAGES

Mango Languages *

LIFE SKILLS

Abeka Keyboarding and Document Processing
Economics for Everybody
Life Prep for Homeschooled Teens - Frank, Barbara
Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees - Knowledge Box Central
Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? - Maybury, Richard J.
God's Design for Sex Series - Jones, Stan & Brenna
Passport2Purity

HOME MANAGEMENT

Girl's Guide to Home Skills, A (2 copies)
Lessons in Responsibility for Girls: Level One *
Little Keepers at Home Handbook (2 copies) 

HOMESCHOOL PARENT RESOURCES 

Biology of Behavior, The DVD Craft, Dianne
Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child's Education - Moore, Raymond S.
Blessed Is the Man - Coats. Lynda
Brain Integration Therapy Manual - Craft, Dianne
Children of Caesar, The: The State of America's Education DVD - Baucham, Dr. Voddie
Class Dismissed DVD
Complete College without Compromise, The - Wightman, Scott & Kris
Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling - Gatto, John Taylor
Indoctrination: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity Book and DVD
Joy of Relationship Homeschooling, The - Campbell, Karen
Love the Journey: Homeschooling Principles and Practices - Somerville, Marcia
Checklist, The: A Homeschool Curriculum Guide - Downes, Cindy *
Chucking College - Ellison, Melanie
Far Above Rubies: Volume One - Coats. Lynda
Far Above Rubies: Volume Two - Coats. Lynda
For the Children's Sake - Macualay, Susan Schaeffer
Homeschool Made Simple DVD - Seid, Carole Joy
Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+La - Shelton, Barbara
Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace - Mackenzie, Sarah
Teaching the Right Brain Child Book and DVD - Craft, Dianne
Underground History of American Education, The - Gatto, John Taylor
Weapons of Mass Instruction - Gatto, John Taylor

GENERAL PARENTING RESOURCES

8 Great Smarts - Koch, Dr. Kathy
Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens - Tripp, Paul David
Blessing of a Skinned Knee, The - Mogel, Wendy
No More Perfect Kids - Savage, Jill & Dr. Kathy Koch
No More Perfect Moms - Savage, Jill
Raising Godly Tomatoes - Krueger, L. Elizabeth


NOTES

Some resource listings are marked with an asterisk (* or *) because they require a bit of explanation:
*****

  • BOOKS, BOOKS, AND MORE BOOKS!: I've always leaned toward the use of living books, so I've collected crates and crates of literature - everything from picture books for toddlers to unabridged, high-level classics - all stored for the girls to use. I'll also be buying several dozen more books over the next few years to add to the collection;
  • Berean Builders: Book 5: This book has not yet been published, but will likely come out to complete the series in Spring 2017;
  • New Inductive Study Series, The: Kay Arthur has written 31 New Inductive study guides, covering every book of the Bible. I have four so far, which I've been using in my personal Bible study, and will continue to add to the collection until I have them all;
  • Music and Moments with the Masters: One of my daughters plans to use this series for high school Music History/Appreciation credits. She just started the Year 1 program, so we're planning to get Years 2, 3, and 4 as needed over the next few years;
  • Answers Magazine and Creation Illustrated Magazine: We've been subscribing to each of these magazines for a number of years. They do not contain time-sensitive content so I can save and pass on what we collect for as long as we subscribe;
  • WORLD Magazine: WORLD is also a magazine subscription, but its content is time-sensitive, so saving old issues wouldn't be helpful. If the magazine is still being published when the girls have families, I'll encourage them to subscribe; alternately, perhaps I'll purchase annual gift subscriptions for each family;
  • Mango Languages: This is a monthly online subscription program. The girls will have to purchase Mango on their own if it still exists when they need foreign language resources;
  • Masterpiece: The World's Greatest Paintings Art Collection: This is a collection of over 350 high-quality reproductions of various paintings, along with detailed notes about each artist and work. It was formerly published by International Masters Publishers (IMP) - given to us as a monthly gift subscription by my in-laws - but it now appears to be out of print.

*****

  • City Creek Press and Checklist, The: I purchased these resources several years ago, and I found them quite useful so I want to keep them for the girls. However, in recent years, both publishers have chosen to correlate their materials to the common core standards (CCS). Because I cannot in good conscience promote anything with a connection to the CCS, I can no longer recommend them to others and suggest attempting to find something similar from non-CCS vendors and/or to purchase them on the used book market;
  • Book Projects to Send Home: These books are published by a subsidiary of Carson-Dellosa, which is actively aligning its resources to the CCS. I do not recommend purchasing any post-2009 Carson-Dellosa affiliated products, but these books were written in 2004, have not been updated since (and, thus, cannot contain CCS content), and appear to be available only on the used book market, if at all;
  • Getting to Know Series: Mike Venezia's books are published by Scholastic, which is actively aligning many of its products to the CCS. The company has not currently altered or correlated Mr. Venezia's books to common core and has no plans to do so, but it may be best to seek out pre-2010 editions on the used book market;
  • Our Presidents Rock, Our Constitution Rocks, and Lessons in Responsibility for Girls: Level One: I have attempted to learn each author's stance on the CCS. However, they have not replied to my queries so I cannot guarantee that these resources currently remain independent of the initiative. 
*****
I still can't really believe the task is done! While I'm certainly not in a hurry for my girls to leave the nest, I know I can't stop their growing-up process. So before I know it, there will be weddings to help plan and babies to celebrate. And I'm really glad I can offer this homeschooling trousseau as my gift to the girls and their families.

3.19.2016

For My Friend "Concerned" about Homeschooling

Home-educating parents deal with criticism of one sort or another on a regular basis. Most of it's not a direct assault because most people - no matter where they're from - live by the principle of Midwest Nice, which says, "Don't say anything mean, but instead just 'tsk, tsk' when you see a 'problem' and then try to guilt the 'offending party' into changing." But the "concerned" friend, fellow church member, or relative is just as much a critic as the stranger who openly harangues us in the grocery store or online. They're just "killing" us with ill-informed, biased kindness instead of overt suspicion and presumption, but it's killing all the same.

I have been deeply appreciative of Pastor Voddie Baucham for a very long time. I love how - not unlike Dr. Ben Carson - he has allowed the Lord to turn a less-than-positive childhood right on its head, choosing to reject entitled victimhood in favor of Spirit-led personal responsibility. The man is seriously brilliant, and I cannot help but envision Jesus in empowered table-flipping mode whenever I watch or read him (Matthew 21.12).

And, thus, I share this link to a small snippet of one of Voddie's messages, posting it so I can direct my "concerned friends" here as needed. I've actually long gotten past the lie that says I have to justify my parenting choices to anyone. In fact, I know as deeply as I know anything that the only ones I answer to in that regard are God and my husband...because - biblically speaking - no one else's opinion matters one iota. No one. Not one. But this message - which you can purchase HERE to view in its beautiful entirety - is so good that I've decided I'd like to make the clip instantly accessible to anyone who might believe he or she has the right to question me. If you're really interested but aren't sure about buying your own copy, ask me, and I'll loan you mine.

If you are that person, I've asked you to watch the video because Pastor Voddie has summarized in one brief message the heart of the matter for most sold-out, Christian home-educating parents, including me. If you're willing to take the time to ponder Voddie's words, then you and I can talk because then and only then will you have the rudiments of a foundation from which to begin a meaningful discussion. Understand that you still won't have the authority to try to convince me against my convictions - plus, that would be a losing proposition on your part anyway - but at least we'll have some common ground on which to stand as we chat.

If you'd rather not watch - or if you start but decide you can't finish - that's okay. I'm more than happy to remain in relationship with you. Truly, I am. And I will not hold it against you in any way. I promise. However, please understand that you'll be forfeiting any legitimate right to engage me on the topic of my children's education. If you won't watch, you're inevitably coming at the topic of home education from an unfortunate collection of myths, half-truths, and outright lies - of foolish and dangerous presumptions - and I cannot disavow you of any of that more efficiently than Voddie can. You need his summary before I can make time on my calendar to go further on the topic. But if you can't watch, I need to insist - in love (Ephesians 4.15) - that you choose to bite your tongue and simply agree to disagree with me about the matter.

So, without further ado, here's the video clip. Again, it's only a very brief summary of an overview about home education, but I resonate with every word - as well as every word in the full message. These are the ideas that have planted me so firmly in my convictions and which motivate me to continue - to homeschool and to advocate strongly in favor of it - no matter what.



Again, a DVD, MP4, or Streaming Video copy of this message, along with Voddie's exhortation about "Getting Your House in Order," is available here. This endorsement is not written for affiliate purposes. I have no connection to either Pastor Voddie or The American Vision and am receiving no benefit or perk of any kind; I even purchased my own copy of the DVD. 

*****
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

3.16.2016

Homeschool Made Simple: An Important Resource

I regularly see articles that define and discuss various "homeschooling methods." And every so often someone in my Facebook group posts a survey asking which method(s) we all use. I've even found a rather thorough and accurate quiz we might take to get a handle on the question.

When I took the quiz, I wasn't surprised to discover that I had almost identical scores in several categories. I've known for some time that I'm an "eclectic" home educator - which basically means I employ the whatever-is-best-for-each-individual-child-at-any-given-moment (WIBFEICAAGM) approach! - so it makes sense that I'd resonate with techniques and styles from across the spectrum of defined methods. In fact, I strongly urge all home educating parents to follow WIBFEICAAGM rather than jamming their children into the constricting box of one approach. After all, curriculum should always be kept in its rightful place - i.e., as tool, not master.

But about a year ago, I just about jumped for joy when I learned that Compass Classroom had produced Homeschool Made Simple, a DVD "lecture" featuring homeschool veteran Carole Joy Seid. I'd not thought directly about Carole Joy for quite some time, but that's not because I'd forgotten her. Rather, just as with How Am I Smart?, the precursor to Kathy Koch's 8 Great Smarts, I had so absorbed Carole Joy's wisdom into our daily home learning life that applying the ideas she teaches had become almost as natural to me as breathing.

God-incidentally, my local homeschool association had hosted Carole Joy for a full-day seminar when my daughters were toddlers. I resonated strongly with her ideas, and I even remember being greatly relieved. I'd been feeling internal pressure to imitate all the "experienced" moms I'd begun to meet even though the method many of them advocated at the time made me ill at ease. But after the seminar, I felt I had "permission" to trust my own instincts and go against the "expected" flow.

From there, I've taken her ideas and have (of course) adapted them for our particular needs and wants, but I've often wished I could easily introduce others to them as well. Carole Joy offers audio seminars on her website, but there's something very helpful about being in the same room with - or at least being able to visualize - a speaker. And Carole Joy doesn't travel all that much so she's not making the rounds all across the country every year. But now her DVD seminar is out, and it serves as an excellent introduction to her simple approach to home-based education.

In a nutshell, Carole Joy promotes a history-centered, literature-based approach and even explains how it's entirely possible to provide a rich, complete education if one simply has a Bible, a library card, and math books. She also discusses the importance of including work and service - not just study - in a home education program, implores parents to limit children's exposure to media, and advocates strongly for waiting for demonstrable, true readiness before launching into formal academics.

As I mentioned, I took Carole Joy's ideas and made them my own over the years, so we didn't do things exactly as she outlines even in her full seminar. And in that same vein, I do suggest some alternatives to what she mentions in the DVD as well:

  • For reading/phonics, Carole Joy touts Sing, Spell, Read & Write (SSRW), which I did try. However, SSRW was an abysmal failure for my kids, primarily because the "readers" were largely non-sensical collections of "target words," lacking plot or characterization. Instead of SSRW, we used the delightful Amish Pathway Readers, which are - in my opinion - a much better fit with Carole Joy's educational philosophy;
  • One of Carole Joy's history recommendations is V.M. Hillyer's A Child's History of World. However, Carole Joy admits that Hillyer approaches history from a secular, old-earth perspective, and I see no need to risk subjecting impressionable children to such notions. Instead, I suggest the engaging narratives found in The Mystery of History or Guerber's Histories and/or the excellent living books collections in All Through the Ages or TruthQuest History. Similarly, All Through the Ages and TruthQuest would work very well if Carole Joy's suggestion of Turning Back the Pages of Time becomes unavailable.
Embracing our own version of Carole Joy's philosophy has brought great peace, success, and joy to my family's home learning endeavors. When I was starting out and feeling pressured and overwhelmed, I needed Carole Joy's simple message, which says at root that home educating families "are [simply] doing life together." That message still holds true even (and especially) in the face of today's more complicated homeschool resource landscape, so I believe that Homeschool Made Simple ought to be on every new home educator's must-view list.

*****
NOTE: This endorsement is not written for affiliate purposes. I have no connection to either Compass Classroom or Carole Joy Seid and am receiving no benefit or perk of any kind; I even purchased my own copy of the DVD. I share simply because I believe Carole Joy's ideas are important and helpful.

2.18.2016

The Second Most Important Imperative for Homeschoolers

I've become convinced during my years in the homeschool community that the second most important document - preceded only by the Bible - that American home educating parents must know - inside and out - is our Constitution.

Of course, the vast majority of us didn't know anything about the Constitution before beginning to home educate. Most of us went to school in the government system - or attended private schools that simply imitated the system - and it's demonstrably irrefutable that the system has been purposely not teaching constitutional truth for generations. That sounds nefarious, I know...but in this case it really is the truth.

After all, if we don't know our constitutional rights - and the strict limits the Constitution places on the government (because bureaucrats - up to and including the president - are public servants, not rulers) - we can be easily misled (i.e., "If you have nothing to hide, just let us into your home.") and abused. And, while retaining legal counsel is imperative after a bureaucrat has crossed a constitutional line - in fact, just hearing that a person has contacted a lawyer often causes bullies to go away because they know they cannot fool an informed person - we cannot rely on lawyers alone. Threatening situations happen quickly and when we least expect them. Thus, since we don't carry lawyers in our back pockets, we must know enough to defend ourselves - standing on our constitutional right to refuse entry into our homes absent a specific warrant, among other things - until we can make that contact.

Yes, Scripture is the most important document we have; every Christian homeschooler needs to be thoroughly grounded in the Word. But the Constitution runs a close second and - to paraphrase the Apostle Peter in a way I don't believe to be inappropriate - we need to "always [be] prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks...[why we stand on constitutional principles]" (1 Peter 3.15). It's not about being "mean" or "uncooperative." Rather, it's simply about compelling public servants - who are, in fact, our employees, not our rulers - to abide by the law of this land. In fact, we are called to that by virtue of God having chosen to place us in America, where He has allowed for the Constitution - not government bureaucrats at any level - to be our authority.

Thus, please find a resource for educating yourself, and commit to making time for it now. My daughters are going through In the Constitution for their Civics credit, and I highly recommend it. Of course, other good resources exist, too - for example, Hillsdale College offers a free online Constitution course for teens and adults - and the Subject Area Project of The Homeschool Resource Roadmap lists at least 60 non-common core Civics resources. Whatever you choose, do something.

In 2013, at a homeschool convention, I heard a talk by Dick Morris, who said he's convinced it'll be homeschoolers who save this country if that's possible. That's because it's likely that homeschooling parents and home educated kids - along with a few self-educated others - will know our Constitution and our history well enough to stand against tyranny. I believe he's right. But in order to do that - and to protect our families from bureaucratic overreach at any moment - we must take responsibility to learn what our Constitution says and means.

2.14.2016

A Day in the Life: 2016

In 2012 and 2013, I participated in A Simple Homeschool's A Homeschool Day in the Life series. I've missed it the last couple of years - I've been way too busy! - but recently saw this year's version and decided to give it a whirl.

And things have changed around here. For one thing, I closed my in-home childcare service in June 2014. I have been occupied - very occupied! - with another project since then, but our daily dynamics did change once it was "just us." Additionally - as of last month, officially - the girls are now "doing high school." In some ways, that shift hasn't altered our daily routine, but, on the other hand, they are more independent and so my role is different than it used to be.

So, in case you were wondering, take a peek at a "typical" day around here lately:

7:00
I'm a night owl and the girls are in that very real phase of life where their internal body clocks keep them up late, whether or not they really want to be awake. I also firmly believe that one of the many benefits to home learning is the freedom to let kids get the rest their growing minds and bodies need. However, the girls have quite a few early-afternoon activities they don't want to give up, and they've decided they don't want to have bookwork in the late afternoon or evening. So, ideally, we get up by 7:00 - right when my husband is leaving for work - in order to eat breakfast and finish morning routines by 8:00. It doesn't always happen - if one of the girls is sick or has a reason to be particularly tired - we flex. Because we can.

8:00-ish
Regardless of when we actually start the formal academic portion of the day, we begin with Morning Meet-Up. In the past, this consisted of a brief devotional and then group time for a history lesson. However, since we started the girls' "trial run" at high school last fall, nearly all of their academics are now done independently. And I was tiring of pre-packaged devotionals that seemed more like something to check off a to-do list than a meaningful time of spiritual engagement. So now we start out by sharing what we've each read in our own personal Bible study the previous night, trusting the Holy Spirit to guide any insights or applications we might need each day...plus, knowing we'll be talking about it in the morning is great accountability. And then we choose a craft stick from our prayer jar - each stick has the name of a friend, family member, or ministry with which we're familiar - and pray together...for our day, for the name on the day's prayer stick, and for others we know who have current needs.
After that, the girls begin to tackle the day's list on their Weekly Work Grids. The main items in the top section - Reader's Workshop, Math, Work with Mom, and music practice (Piano for Rachel; Piano, Voice, and Guitar for Abbie) - are "assigned" almost every day, as I note for them ahead of time. I don't require that they do those tasks first, but they've both chosen to start there most days. The last item in the top section of the grid - Learning Log - is the girls' reminder to make necessary notations about each day's studies in their record-keeping notebooks.
10:00-ish
Right around 10:00, the girls take a 15-minute snack break. And from there, they begin working on the middle section of their Work Grids, which currently lists Penmanship and/or Keyboarding; Bible; English; World History; American History; Civics; science (Biology and Physical Science/Chemistry for Rachel and Integrated Science for Abbie); Anatomy & Physiology; Home Management; and Other/Electives. We organize these delight-directed formal academics into seven-week "units" and I've helped each of the girls to set goals for what to accomplish during each unit. So they don't need to do activities in every content area every day; they just need to work diligently toward the different goals in whatever order each would like.
My job throughout the morning is to be available. I help with math every day - checking answers, clarifying confusing problems - do brief, individual language arts lessons (Work with Mom), and serve as editor for history essays and book reviews. The girls are great about following the Work Grid and the rubrics in their Learning Logs, but if they need help with other tasks - setting up a science lab or reviewing study guides - I do that, too. In between, I make myself do a cleaning task each day (I have a schedule that enables me to get through the whole house, a little each day, once a week), manage other household needs, facilitate the homeschool support group I founded, and work on my database project.
My Office/Work Space
1:00/12:15/11:45/1:00/1:00
Currently on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays, the girls work until 1:00 and then break for lunch. On Tuesdays, they stop at 12:15, and on Wednesdays it's 11:45, in both cases to accommodate the timing of their various afternoon activities.
2:00/1:30/12:45/3:30
The bottom third of the Work Grid lists the girls' various outside activities. On Mondays, Rachel has a piano lesson at 2:00, and on Tuesdays Abbie has voice (1:30) and then guitar (2:30). Both girls take dance on Wednesdays - Abbie takes jazz/hip hop at 12:45 and Rachel is in ballet at 1:45 - but each one does a bit of bookwork during the other's class. And right from dance, I take them to their weekly babysitting job, where they care for the children of Abbie's voice teacher until 7:00 or 8:00 at night. We have a reprieve from most scheduled activities on Thursdays, though they occasionally babysit for a friend's two little girls. Then they have choir and improv on alternating Fridays at 3:30.
3:30/4:00/2:00/2:00
Ideally, we go to the Y four days a week - Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday - for fitness/P.E. I alternate between walking the track and doing cardio machines; the girls prefer swimming. On Wednesdays, their dance class counts for fitness, and I try to get myself to the Y after dropping them off at their babysitting job.

5:30
As part of the Home Management credit(s) each of the girls wants to earn, they take turns at cooking from scratch at least four times during a seven-week "unit." Rachel prefers just making entrees right now - she often refers to her Better Homes & Gardens cookbook - so when she does that, I prepare the sides. Abbie, on the other hand, likes putting together whole meals, sometimes even including dessert; her current favorite source for recipes is Creation Illustrated magazine.
For a while, we got out of the habit of eating dinner around the table; instead, we lounged in front of the TV most nights. But we know better and really enjoy that time together so we all held each other accountable to getting back on track. Sometimes the girls have a girls' group activity on Friday nights and right now my husband is facilitating a class on Sunday nights, but most other nights we can purpose to eat together.

Evenings
Once a month, I have a Thursday evening worship team rehearsal at church and occasionally have other meetings or dinner out with a friend. The girls have a girls' small group that gets together about once a month on Fridays and they sometimes attend our homeschool association's monthly Tween Group activities on Friday or Saturday night or have a babysitting job. My husband is always juggling several things at once so it's not unusual for him to be out at least one night a week for one reason or another.
But even with all of that, we are all home more often than not. One night a week - usually Fridays - we keep for Family Night, and we rotate choosing the activity. Otherwise, we each enjoy doing our own thing for a couple of hours. My husband reads or does ministry work; Rachel reads or works on the various essays and fiction she's always writing; Abbie knits, sews, or draws; and I organize the next day's Work Grids and Learning Logs and work online (writing for various publications, moderating my homeschool support group, updating my database). The girls and I like having old comedies, news, or HGTV on in the background.

When my husband is home, he still does a "bedtime routine" with the girls, just as he did when they were little so I could have a bit of a break. Of course, they don't now immediately go to bed after this time anymore, but it remains a sweet tradition of Bible reading/discussion, reading aloud at least one chapter from a good book, and praying together.

~ ~ ~
As "routine" as our usual schedule is, there are, of course, days when plans go awry: one of the girls wakes up too sick to function; our furnace goes out or the dishwasher breaks; I have to run an unexpected errand. Now that the girls are so independent, they can continue with most of their bookwork even if I'm temporarily distracted, but sometimes even that doesn't work. And we still take sabbath weeks - currently after every seven-week "unit" - and those days - along with the summer season, when academics continue but outside activities are mostly on hiatus and we take time for a couple of camp experiences - look entirely different than the norm. I also know that patterns will change over the next few years as the girls add activities and jobs. And that's one beauty (among so many others) of home learning - i.e., we have the freedom to see that daily schedules and routines - whatever they are - work for us. Whatever each day holds, the structure is our servant, never our master.

TRACKING MY OBEDIENCE