Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Why Math?

I had a little debate with my ten year old today about the merits of completing her math lesson. Ironically, I just read an old email from Home School Heartbeat today on this very subject.

Professor Fred Worth shares:

From a purely practical standpoint, the more mathematics you learn, the more you have a chance to use it. There are numerous areas in life where mathematics can be used. Geometry and algebra are very helpful in building projects, and understanding statistics and logic can be helpful when trying to analyze advertising, speeches, polling data, and so on.

And having a strong mathematical background can present people with more diverse career opportunities. Many career paths require mathematical expertise. Our pharmacy and pre-med majors have to take a lot of mathematics. Even in the social sciences, a number of majors require statistics courses.

But, Mike, I think one of the greatest benefits of a good mathematical background is the development of thinking skills. Studies have shown that a good high school geometry course is a great indicator for college success. That’s because, in order to do geometry well, you have to think logically and often deal with multi-step problems. The problem-solving skills developed in order to do word problems are also useful in all kinds of areas. You have to be able to recognize what’s important, how to break it down into parts, have an orderly process for doing it, and all of that is useful, even if we don’t ever do any mathematics ever again.

First Step

I like this quote for someone just starting out in homeschooling, or just thinking about starting out.... (not what it was intended for, but it certainly applies!)

"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dry times

Have you ever experienced those moments during your homeschooling year when creativity seems to have shriveled? You know your lessons, but the inspiration on how to make them fun has dried up. Your children have already done the suggested activities in your teacher manuals, and they need something new. You try to think of what to do, but the ideas are just not there.

The above is just the beginning of a devotional from AOP (click link for the rest!!) but is something that I'm sure we all struggle with... For me a key part of keeping going is being plugged in, to other homeschoolers who act as a support, and also to my God. How do you keep going during your own dry times?

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Monday, September 29, 2008

As close as it gets

"Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near" (Isaiah 55:6).

As I read the statistic on the Internet, all I could say was, "Wow, praise God!" According to the National Home Education Research Institute's website, approximately 1.9 to 2.4 million children were educated at home in the United States during 2005 and 2006. What a difference from when I started homeschooling in the early 1980's! At that time, there were only an estimated 50,000 children being educated at home each year. As I considered the figures and did the math, I realized that since 1985, homeschooling has grown over 4,700%!

Are you interested in a printed version of this devotional? Then check out the new Daily Focus devotional book, perfect for your own Bible study or as a gift. Order your copy today!

The incredible growth of homeschooling in America can be attributed to many factors. However, I think the greatest factor is that parents are rediscovering God's original design for the family. Children and parents were never meant to be separated for days (sometimes weeks) with overloaded schedules that keep them passing in the night. How can any family be expected to have loving relationships with that routine? Homeschooling continues to grow because it provides a unique, nurturing environment where families can communicate throughout the day. Loving bonds are formed, and mutual respect is cultivated between siblings and parents. With God as the head, the family functions as He intended, and we reap the rich blessings of family togetherness.

Like our homeschooling families, God never intended for us to live apart from Him. Daily, we must come to Him in prayer and Bible study to continue to grow spiritually. Without the loving and nurturing guidance from the Holy Spirit throughout the day, we will lose the intimacy God desires with His children. How about you? Can you remember the last time you had a heart-to-heart talk with Him? If not, "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you" (James 4:8a).

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Quiet encouragement

Perhaps I'm overdoing in sharing these little thoughts from Alpha Omega Publications, but they are just right on target for me, so I figured I could share with you too....

"But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:3-4).

Children love secrets, and one joy I experienced as a homeschooling parent was teaching my children the thrill of being secret gift-givers. Following Christ's illustration in Matthew 6, I encouraged them to ask God's guidance to think of ways to bless their family, friends, and neighbors. At first, this task was difficult, since little ones like to tell everything they know. However, as my children grew older, not only did they become thoughtful and generous givers, they also became quite adept in disguising any connection with the gift. Countless times, I found myself humbled and encouraged when receiving a gift at day's end without knowing who had laid the treasure on my pillow.

What about your homeschooling family? In a world where most people are trying to take and get ahead, teaching your children to give secret gifts from God can seem quite contrary. Like Christ Jesus who died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8), help them bless another homeschool family, church family, or unsaved neighbor near you today. Let your children discover the exciting truth of Acts 20:35b: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Poetry and reading ideas

I read a great write up on literature by Mike Smith, of Home School Heartbeat, and thought I'd share...

Fall provides a perfect opportunity to explore the works of many regional poets and storytellers. Do you remember learning James Whitcomb Riley’s poem "When the frost is on the punkin" as a child? Your children will delight in the rich dialect and colorful images of that fall favorite!

From John Keats"Ode to Autumn" to Robert Frost’s poems celebrating New England fall, explore the poetry of the season with your children. You might check your library for poetry magazines and journals, which often contain topical or seasonal poems.

The rhythms and rhymes of poetry appeal to children of all ages, so even if your child can’t read yet, he’ll enjoy hearing you or your older students read fall poems aloud to him.

Once your older students have read some fall poetry, consider having them analyze the form of the poem. Guides to the rules and patterns of poetry are available online, in literature textbooks, or in books at your library on how to write poetry. Finally, have your student write her own autumn poem.

You may also enjoy reading aloud favorite short stories of autumn, such as Washington Irving’s "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and seasonal selections from longer works, like the "Little House on the Prairie" books.

There are many classic autumn picture books for your youngest learners, including "Ox-cart Man"; "Hello, Harvest Moon"; and Reeve Lindbergh’s "Johnny Appleseed."

Have fun reading together!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Free Curriculum Contest!

Would you spend two minutes to win an entire year's worth of curriculum? That's all the time it took Rebecca Day from Amarillo, Texas, to register in last year's spectacular homeschool giveaway at Alpha Omega Publications® (AOP). After winning the grand prize of $500 in homeschool curriculum, Rebecca wrote, "It was such a blessing to get your phone call about the prize! This is going to help our family out tremendously!"

Now, here's your opportunity! Register to win in this year's giveaway at AOP. From now until February 28, 2009, enter for your shot at the grand prize of $500 in award-winning homeschool curriculum, or other prizes like a complete, 5-subject set of Switched-On Schoolhouse® computer-based curriculum, the fully animated Character Builders™ 8-DVD set, or a complimentary copy of the uplifting and encouraging Daily Focus® devotional book.

Don't miss this one-of-a-kind opportunity to gain outstanding curriculum and products for your homeschooling family. It's easy to enter. Simply click REGISTER NOW below and fill in your information. Entrants must be at least 18 years of age, and there is a limit of one entry per household. For more details, check out AOP's contest rules when you enter and remember that no purchase is necessary. Don't delay. Register to win today!

Who should enter AOP's Homeschool Giveaway?


AOP's Giveaway Prizes:

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Daily Focus Devotional Book

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The Great Pretender

"Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:13).

Someone has once said that children can see right through you. If you doubt, watch as you attempt to teach your children or a class of young people. If you are nervous, scared, or unprepared, they will quickly take advantage of your weakness.

Your credibility as a homeschool teacher will also be compromised when you pretend you know the answers to all the questions your children ask. Admitting you don't know and saying, "Let's find the answer together," will hold "more stock" than pretending.

God knows when you are pretending with Him as well. You may try to hide behind righteous actions, but He can see the condition of your heart. Christ had much to say about the Pharisee hypocrites of His day when He was here on earth. He rebuked them by saying, "Woe to you!" and called them "white sepulchres" who were clean on the outside but not on the inside. He condemned them for their pretending.

What about you? Are you pretending today? Do you change your speech or actions depending on whom you are with? God can see right through you. He knows your heart and what you really think. What He desires is your broken heart instead of your false worship. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise" (Psalm 51:17).

From Daily Focus Devotional

Fall Science

An excerpt from a neat broadcast of Home School Heartbeat:

As fall fruit and foliage peak, help your children learn what makes it happen! You can find botany information in biology books or online. Anna Botsford Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study is an interesting guide to studying nature firsthand through observation.

This fall, explore with your students why leaves change color. The main factors are temperature, moisture, and length of day. If you live in an area with fall foliage, make a list of factors that might have contributed to the brilliant or lackluster display you see this autumn.

There are simple chromatography experiments that your students could do as a science project with either green leaves or leaves that have changed colors. Check online for instructions.

Remember pressing leaves? Let your students preserve the splendor of autumn by pressing leaves with a warm iron in wax paper. Collect leaves from as many different trees as you can, and use them later in the year to identify trees by leaf characteristics.

If you live in an area without fall foliage, you can still focus on botany! Take advantage of the harvest season to learn about how fruits mature. Choose a locally-grown fruit and illustrate a chart of its development process.

Have fun with fall science experiments!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Science Supplies on Sale

I caught this sale from Ward's Natural Science...

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Free coffee!!

Starbucks Offers Free Coffee for Homeschool Parents
This coming Monday, September 29, homeschool parents will be able to pick up a complimentary tall size (12 fl. oz.) cup of Pike Place Roast from Starbucks. Read more >>

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Saving Sammy

Another neat thought from aophomeschooling.com....

"Quench not the Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

Have you ever had those moments in time when you saw something about to happen, but felt helpless to stop it? I was having one of those moments as I watched my son's black lab take notice of a car coming over the hill over a mile away from our home. In that instant, I could see and sense what was about to happen in my mind.

For several months, we had included dog obedience training in my son's homeschool curriculum. Both my son and I had become frustrated with his black lab, Sammy. We had taught him many things, but the one thing we couldn't teach him was to give up chasing cars. Even though we had a long driveway and lived in the country, our space wasn't enough for him. We had even resorted to tying him up, but today we had let him loose to play as we worked outside.

Before I could grab the collar on this fifty-pound fireball, Sammy started running toward the car he had seen. Both my son and I ran after him, screaming for him to stop. Everything went into slow motion, as I saw that the dog and the car were on a collision course. We did all we could, but Sammy would not obey and stop. He was broadsided by the car at 50 mph.

The disobedience of Sammy provided a significant spiritual lesson for my son. Although Sammy had learned to do many things right, his death was caused by the one vice he refused to give up: wanting his own way. He literally ran headlong into trouble, and met death at the end.

God grieves over your sinful disobedience each day, too. You let the Holy Spirit teach you the Word, but then refuse to be disciplined in the areas you are weakest. Because you do not see an immediate consequence, you run headlong into your vices of laziness, selfishness, or criticizing, and think they will never hurt you. But you are always on a collision course when you remain in known sin. The Holy Spirit is quenched by your defiance, and soon you are unable to hear His voice calling you back. Don't wait for a wreck to turn you around. Stop and yield your life to the Lord, today! "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Reading help idea

I was reading a great book this past weekend, "Homeschooling the Challenging Child" by Christine Field, just for reference of course :), and came across a neat idea for working on reading skills.

As your child learns words, write them out on index cards to build up a word bank... Lay them in front of him and call out each word. Have him pick up the correct card from the array until all the cards are gone.

Sounds simple enough, right? This seems like a great trick to utilize that kinesthetic learning (that kiddo that just needs to move move move). I will be trying this one!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


"A child's back must be made to bend, but not be broken.
He must be ruled, but not with a rod of iron.
His spirit must be conquered, but not crushed."

-Charles Spurgeon

Monday, September 15, 2008

Homeschool Complaints

I guess I'm on a list now to receive encouraging little tidbits from Alpha Omega Publications, so I'll pass them along here! This one is encouraging, and also challenging, for the students and the teacher....

"Do all things without murmurings and disputings" (Philippians 2:14).

Is your homeschool infected with the whining disease? Like the early stages of most health problems, you may not recognize its symptoms at first. When assigning schoolwork, especially in your child's least favorite subject, this dreaded disease usually starts with an exasperated sigh. Next, it spreads into a short question such as, "Do I have to do this assignment?" If not diagnosed and treated early, the whining disease finally takes over your homeschool completely until you hear things like, "Why do I always have so much schoolwork to do? I don't want to do this!"

Whining, grumbling, murmuring, and complaining all stem from the same, sinful problem-rebellion. In Numbers 12, God reveals His attitude towards this deadly disease when dealing with the murmuring of Miriam and Aaron. Thinking they knew better than their brother, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses and said, "Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us" (Numbers 12:2b)? God heard their whining and quickly applied His cure. Calling all three to the tent of meeting, He defended Moses' leadership and struck Miriam with leprosy for seven days.

Are you allowing a whining, rebellious spirit in your homeschool? Unfortunately, children are not the only ones who can become infected with this disease. Parents, too, can find themselves easily complaining to God about the sacrifice and work responsibilities involved with homeschooling. Don't allow a negative spirit to destroy your homeschool family. Like Aaron, confess your foolish complaints. Pray for the joy of homeschooling to be restored in your home.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Super Scholastic Book Sale

I received information about this incredible Scholastic book sale via email and wanted to share - what a great deal!!!!


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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Homework versus the home

This is a neat article that I read by the folks at God's World News. David Chilton puts into words some things that have bounced around in my brain before....

I once knew a teacher (let's call him Willie) who used to spin absurd theories with elaborately inapplicable applications, and try them on his students. He had a gift for talking fast. So fast that his listeners were often convinced that even if they didn't know what he was talking about, he surely did.

One of Willie's methods of turning his students into walking eggplants was by assigning homework. Now, I have nothing against homework. But Willie subscribed wholeheartedly to a falsehood known as the priority of intellect. He regarded himself as a great intellectual, and since he spent all his life looking up irrelevant data, he saw no reason why his students shouldn't do the same.

It was easy to spot Willie's students. They were the ones who dragged wearily into school every day, bleary-eyed from staying up past midnight to complete his assignments. When they complained, Willie accused them of laziness. When other teachers protested, he airily dismissed them as "humanists" who were more concerned about the children's need for sleep than about "dominion."

But it wasn't only sleep that the students needed. They needed time with their families. Willie never understood the thrust of Deuteronomy 6:6-7: "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them upon your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." The instruction spoken of here is not structured; nor is it simply a time for regular family devotions. The point of the passage is that in all family activities, the implications of God's word are to be repeated, impressed upon children, and worked into the fabric of daily life.

Children should live in an atmosphere of praises for God's providences, of awe at his judgments, both in world history and in their own circumstances. But this requires time well-spent at home; time spent with the family-working, building, mending, playing games, enjoying hobbies, shoveling snow, planting gardens, and expressing the love of God in a multitude of ways.

A major problem with any institution is the sinful tendency to view itself as central to all of life. The Christian school does have an important responsibility in teaching. But our students have needs and commitments that go far beyond the demands of formal education. The school should support the aims of godly homes. Children should be encouraged to spend time with their families. And parents should know that school intends to help rather than hinder their efforts in building family relationships.

Administrators should make sure that homework assignments are coordinated. Teachers should teach, not dominate. Be sure that you don't assign homework for the simple reason that you have not done yours.

Finally, let weekends, holidays, and vacations alone. Don't ruin them with schoolwork. Give yourself and your kids a break. Tell you students to have a good time with their families-and then go thou and do likewise.

If you're reading this you likely homeschool too, but these are some of the reasons that I am glad that I am able to teach my kiddos at home. The days can be tiring and the wallet strings tight, but there are many good reasons for us to be teaching at home right now.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I am a wimp when it comes to surgeries, even though I've had a few. The rest of my family enjoys watching surgeries on the Discovery channel and stuff like that, and I just have to leave the room. Ouch! Just thinking about them gives me the heebie jeebies!

Watching surgeries on t.v. as they present themselves has led us into some interesting discussions with our kids. We've chatted about bariatric surgery and lap band surgery, not typical conversations for elementary school kids. Interesting stuff though.... It's amazing how popular this surgery is. There are doctors who specialize in it all over the country. You can google terms like central florida lapband and quickly find a qualified doctor in moments. Like any surgery, it's good to do your research, so click away and learn more! I will not be looking into details with you :).

Who speaks for God?

I love getting great reads sent right to my inbox! I got this one today from Alpha Omega Publications.

"And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long" (Psalm 35:28).

During the early 1980s, there were few voices that publicly championed the cause of homeschooling. Fortunately, the men and women who did speak out were effective, powerful, and passionate communicators who left a lasting impact on my life. As a young parent with two preschool-aged children, I paid attention to their knowledgeable research, books, and advice against traditional schooling. Willing to go against the flow, they set the precedent for today's modern homeschooling movement and inspired thousands of homeschooling families just like mine to do the same.

After Christ's ascension to heaven, perhaps no other man furthered the cause of Christ during Bible times more than the Apostle Paul. Being willing to go to the Gentiles, he too set a new precedent when sharing the Gospel message. The Jewish leaders were upset as Paul established new churches with thousands of Gentile believers who came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. As these new believers suffered for their faith, they also boldly spoke the truth of Christ crucified, and the world was forever changed.

How about you? Are you willing to speak for God in today's world? Although you may be tempted to succumb to the world's intimidation, you have an opportunity to use your voice to speak out for Jesus. As you homeschool, know your Bible and boldly share its truths. Then watch as God uses you to make a difference in the lives of your children, as well as countless others. May we all be like Paul when he declared, "That therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak" (Ephesians 6:20b).

What an encouragement, and a challenge! How am I doing on this??? I'd have to rate myself in the needs improvement neighborhood....

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Homeschooling's Price

I received this email today from Alpha Omega Publications and I thought it was a good read for the beginning of another school year, and the realigning of my schedule and priorites. Challenging stuff...

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Galatians 2:20a).

I'm feeling selfish today. I look at the schoolwork waiting to be corrected and this week's lesson plans still waiting to be finished, and I want to escape somewhere. My life seems like it's not my own, and I resent the fact that I can't do what I want, when I want. Homeschooling requires me to be so disciplined, and I'm starting to feel trapped. I want to take a break from housework, diapers, schedules, and endless questions, but I'm the one in charge. I feel like a huge burden is on my back.

Does the above scenario describe you today? Do you wish you could experience the wonderful benefits of homeschooling and escape the responsibilities? Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. If you want your children to achieve academic, as well as spiritual success, you have to give yourself 100% and commit to homeschooling. Like the man who calculated the cost in building a tower or the king who assessed his army before he went to war (Luke 14:27-33), following the Lord's call to homeschool your children requires giving your all. Yes, God knows when you need to rest and will show you how to catch your breath, but He also asks His disciples to carry their cross. So who will you follow today, yourself or the Lord? "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23b).

Lord, forgive my attitude and help me refocus on the call You gave to homeschool. Teach me again that Your will and Your way is better than any life I can conceive. I love You and thank You for my family. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


"A student... who is fully trained will be like his teacher." Luke 6:40, The Bible

Wow!! This is a bit scary - do I really want my girls to be just like me? Am I truly copy-worthy? I guess homeschooling, and parenting, is about getting it right with the kids, but also with me...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Music Curriculum

Hey - I found a music curriculum that is great for musically challenged folks like me and thought I'd share... Music Ace Deluxe is a software program that includes 36 comprehensive music lessons and assessment games. It teaches theory, rhythm,pitch, note reading, ear training, and keyboard. It can be paced at whatever works for your kids, and just looks EASY. I like it :). Not a paid plug here, just sharing...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

FREE Educational Materials!

I have something FREE to share!! Yippee!!! Puzzles, handouts, worksheets, photos, maps and more in ready to print pdf format, all at no charge. Check out http://www.studenthandouts.com and let me know what you think. I haven't wandered around too much myself, but like what I've seen so far :).

Monday, September 1, 2008

Homeschooling through high school - Evaluation of High School Credits

I pulled this off of HSLDA's website - a great resource!!!

Evaluation of High School Credits

There are several ways to evaluate credits. If your child completes a high school-level text by a reputable publisher in an academic course (math, science, English, foreign language, or history), consider the material covered to be one credit. A one credit course typically requires one school year to complete. A one-half credit academic course (such as American Government or perhaps Constitutional Law) typically requires one semester or one-half year to complete.

Covering the material in a textbook does not necessarily mean doing every problem, answering every question, or reading the book from cover to cover, but you should diligently cover the material presented. Some authors calculate teaching 75% of a textbook to equal one credit, but the bottom line is, don't shortchange your child. As an example, you may not spend as much time nor go into as much detail on the Vietnam War as you do on World War II, but you would still want to be certain that your child has an understanding of the main points regarding the Vietnam War. Let integrity be your guide.

(California residents may want to see the California supplement in the following book that explains credits in their state: The High School Handbook-Junior and Senior High School at Home by Mary Schofield.)

For courses that do not use a standard high school-level textbook (perhaps you are putting together your own unit study, or you are using an integrated curriculum), log the hours that your child spends completing the course work. One credit is approximately 120-180 hours of work. The upper end of this range (180 hours) is usually appropriate for lab science courses, while 150 hours is the average for a year long academic course such as English or History. Don't become legalistic in keeping track of each minute, but generally, when evaluating credit for an academic course, a good rule of thumb is 50 minutes a day, 5 days a week for 36 weeks, for a one-credit course.

Logging hours is a good method of determining credit for elective courses such as art, music, sewing, carpentry, web page design, etc. The lower end of the range (120 hours) is fine for elective courses. For a half-credit elective, log approximately 60 hours; for a quarter-credit elective, log approximately 30 hours.

If your child is enrolled in a course at a community college, you should keep in mind that a one-semester college course is comparable to a one-year high school course. Therefore, if your child takes English 101 for one semester at the community college and earns 3 college credits, this is comparable to satisfying a full-year, one-credit high school course. High school credits and college credits are calculated differently. College credits are determined by hours of instruction and don't equate to high school credits. Local policies may differ so it is best to check with a specific college or state to see how they treat dual enrollment courses.

For a more in-depth discussion of calculating and evaluating high school credits, the following are handy references:

Article: Preparing for College


Homeschooling High School: Planning Ahead for College Admission by Jeanne Gowen Dennis

Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+u+la, Updated by Barbara Edtl Shelton

Transcript Pro (Version 3) by Inge Cannon (Software designed to help calculate credits—Version 3 is especially helpful for residents of California, Indiana, and South Carolina)