Archive for the ‘Home Schooling’ Category

What is Homeschooling?

Monday, March 14th, 2016

by Kristin

A lot of parents, particularly mothers, think “I could never homeschool.”

For them, the idea  of homeschooling evokes visions of perfect, smiling mothers that are divinely gifted with infinite patience, super-human intelligence, and extraordinary organizational skills. These perfect mothers run the equivalent of a high-class private school in their homes, with perfect, quiet, studious children sitting at polished desks from 7:00 in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon, learning three languages, a dozen musical instruments, trigonometry, physics, advanced grammar, theology, early church history, and economics. After school, this perfect mother simply waves her magic wand, her perfectly obedient children run to do her bidding, and the housework is resolved in minutes while a four course dinner appears on the table at precisely 5:00pm as her husband steps in the door.

I’m half-choked with laughing.

The reality of homeschooling is so vastly different from this. Are homeschooling mothers perfect? No! Are  we infinitely patient? No! Are we super intelligent and organized? Definitely not!

So how do we succeed at this homeschooling business then? What IS homeschooling anyway?

Homeschooling is an act of faith. You read what God says in His Word about raising children, about training them to love Him and to obey His Word (Deut. 6:1-9), and you realize that God is calling you to this, calling you to disciple your children for Him. And how can you disciple them when you are separated from them for the majority of their waking hours almost every day? And how can one to two hours of Sunday school or after-supper devotions compete with 30+ hours of humanist indoctrination every week in public schools?

So you as a parent take a step of faith, and keep your children home.

Homeschooling is a lifestyle. You are not re-creating your home into an institution. Home is still home. It’s where we live, share meals, do chores, play games, laugh, and relax. Now it’s also the place where we learn.

But learning is not restricted to superficial time slots, nor is it limited to lesson plans, workbooks, and test sheets. We are raising people, not computers. Education is about lighting a fire, not filling a database. There’s so much more to life and learning than simply memorizing multiplication tables and the dates of key historical events, important as those things are.

We need to teach the whole child: mind, body, and soul. Involve them in baking to learn fractions. Let them watch a sunflower grow from a seed. Teach them to care for a younger sibling and respect their parents. Bring a tadpole or a butterfly cocoon home for them to observe over time. Give them art and craft supplies. Read them timeless storybooks and stories about real people and places like Little House on the Prairie. Read, read, READ to them. Have them sort laundry by colour and put their toys away into organized bins. Give them puzzles and blocks and other open-ended toys that involve so much imagination and creativity. Teach them to ride a bike. Help them make cookies for an elderly neighbour. Teach them about God and His love for them.

Homeschooling is a vision for the future. Homeschooling is not just a daily exercise. We are giving our time, energy, and resources for the purpose of raising a godly generation to follow after us, for the glory of God. We are laying the foundation for not just our children’s lives as servants of the King, but for, Lord willing, a whole line of faithful descendants!

Such a long-term vision will drastically affect our choices of today. It will influence what curriculum we use, what activities our children are in, what we watch on TV, what books we read to the kids, who we socialize with, etc. We will make distinctions not only between what’s good and bad for our kids, but also between what’s good and what’s excellent. There’s only so much we can do in a day to prepare for the future, and so we need to make careful decisions about what will be the best use of our time and resources, and the best use of our children’s time and resources.

Think of it as building a Cathedral. Cathedrals take decades to build. Only the best materials are chosen and incorporated into the building. The different elements are handcrafted with great care and attention to detail by skilled craftsmen. They are adorned with breathtaking frescoes by gifted artists. They are filled with costly and beautiful objects. The whole Cathedral, inside and out, stands as a monument to the glory of God for centuries.

Homeschooling children is just like that.

However, like some of those who plan, design, and begin to build a Cathedral, we may never see the full fruition of our work. We do not know what our children’s children will do with the godly heritage we are seeking to prepare for them. But we know that we are doing the work that God has called us to, and we know that God promises to bless us when we step out obediently in faith.

And so we move forward with a vision and a hope, with our children in our hearts and in our homes.

* * * * *

If you are interested in giving homeschooling a try, or understand that God is calling you to disciple your children in this way, I would encourage you to check out the books below:

Educating the Wholehearted Child, Clay and Sally Clarkson

A Charlotte Mason Companion, Karen Andreola

Home Grown Kids, Dr. Raymond Moore

I would also mention that Montessori materials and the Montessori approach of hands-on learning are also wonderful for teaching young children. The math materials in particular, in my experience, provide a solid foundation for young minds to comprehend this abstract subject.

 

 

Keeping Your Children Home

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

by Kristin

I’m in the middle of reading a book by Dr. Raymond Moore (namely, Home Grown Kids). Dr. Moore is a developmental psychologist and a strong advocate of homeschooling and of delaying formal education (see School Can Wait and Better Late Than Early by Dr. Moore). He stresses again and again the psychological benefits of young children staying at home under the loving care of their parents.

I find it deeply saddening to see so many parents following the popular culture in sending their precious children off to school at an increasingly younger age.

Granted, some families are in a position such that they have little choice but to enlist childcare outside the home. However, at the same time, there are many parents who do have a choice but don’t seem to realize that their personal love and care and training is far more important to their child’s development than anything the best preschool or daycare could provide.

Having said this, I realize that many mothers and fathers lack confidence to keep their children at home. We have been brainwashed as a culture into thinking that everything needs to be done by experts, most especially the delicate business of raising children. We have pediatricians, child psychologists, early childhood educators, teachers, school nurses, child psychiatrists, etc., etc. From the moment the child is born until the time he reaches adulthood, we have someone with a degree telling us when he should sleep, what he should eat, how he should play, who he should socialize with, what he should learn and when, and on and on and on, ad infinitum.

But is this really necessary? Did Abraham Lincoln have a child psychologist? Did Mozart need an early childhood educator? Did Thomas Edison need a school teacher?

The point is, No, you as a parent do not need a panel of experts to help you raise your child. This is a modern development, and quite frankly, it’s had more of a negative impact than a positive one. For example, simply compare the level of education today with what a child received 100 to 200 years ago, and you’ll see what I mean. For all their “expertise,” today’s experts don’t have much to show for their efforts.

This may be true, you say, but where is a parent to begin? How will a parent know what to do? What about specialized areas?

[Granted, there are times when you as a parent need specialized help, for example, when your child is very sick, when he has a disorder, when he needs more specialized training/education, etc.].

First questions first. Where do you begin? How will you know what to do?

Start with the Bible. Learn all of what God says about raising children. He made them after all, so He knows how they tick.

Then find solid Christian child training resources that are based on God’s Word (e.g. Shepherding a Child’s Heart, by Tedd Tripp). Remember, your first priority as a parent is always moral instruction: shaping your child’s character, teaching obedience to God, etc. This is the foundation for all other education.

Don’t believe me? Try teaching arithmetic to a child having a temper tantrum.

See what I mean? The moral training is necessary before any other training or instruction can take place. Even if you find ways to get around this, you won’t score any points in the end when you produce evil geniuses of your offspring. (Note: you’ll observe that schools nowadays are woefully lacking in any moral training [or rather, they're excelling in immoral training], which is another good reason to teach your kids at home!).

Furthermore, this moral training — or “soul training” if you will — is foundational because it is the eternal aspect of parenting. One day your child will stand before God. Preparing him for that moment is infinitely more important than preparing him for highschool, or college, or his first job, etc. We must be so careful as Christian parents not to put on the same narrow blinders that the secular parents around us are wearing. This life is not all there is, as our secular counterparts so naively believe. We need to prepare our children first and foremost for their eternal future, and equip them to do the eternal work Jesus has prepared for them to do on this earth.

If you are interested to learn more, check out my small sample of resources below, and stay tuned for my next post, “What is Homeschooling?

 

Resources:

See this website for a list of great men and women of history who were homeschooled: http://www.homeschoolacademy.com/a/famoushomeschoolers/

Repairing the Ruins, ed. Douglas Wilson

On Secular Education, R. L. Dabney

The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis

Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Tedd Tripp

Home Grown Kids, School Can Wait, and Better Late Than Early by Raymond Moore

 

The Best Job Ever

Friday, January 30th, 2015

You know what?

I love having children. I love being able to stay at home to raise them. I love homeschooling them.

To look with awe at the tiny hands and the delicate features of my newborn’s face…

To playfully chase my toddler around the room and hear him giggle uncontrollably…

To watch my preschooler working enthusiastically alongside his daddy building a snowman…

To see my five-year-old’s face light up as he reads a little book all on his own…

Yes, being a homeschool mom of four has its challenges. Sleep deprivation, laundry piling up, clutter stacked here and there, and toys and socks scattered everywhere. Dirt and grime building up on floors and walls. Making meals while juggling a crying baby and correcting a disobedient toddler. Breaking up fights and settling disputes. Dealing with a student who’s struggling with a subject or growing disinterested in schoolwork.

It’s certainly not all glorious.

But I wouldn’t trade it for any other job.

God made me for this. He gave me, as a woman, the ability to conceive and bear children. He uniquely wired me, as a woman, with the nurturing spirit to meet the needs of these children. Everyday, He grants me a certain measure of strength and wisdom for the job of raising these precious souls.

And I love it.

-Kristin

Out And About In The Big Smoke

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Here are some pictures from the recent trips we made to our neighbourhood fire station and the city zoo.

And now for the animals:

 

Ah! The joy and freedom of homeschooling… :D

Cloud in a Jar

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

A few weeks ago I was doing a unit on weather with the boys. I made a daring trip to the community library (with a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old, and a 3-week-old baby! Am I crazy? At times…) and we picked out some children’s books on the subject.

At home, the boys were given the opportunity to learn about the three states of water (liquid, solid, gas) hands-on with some simple experiments.  We froze water in an ice cube tray in the freezer, and then melted the cubes in a sauce pan on the stove (with adult supervision of course!) until the water disappeared as steam. It was great to see their little minds churning and the excitement on their faces as they watched the transition from solid to liquid to gas!

We then learned about the water cycle and the three big words associated with it: Evaporation, Condensation, and Precipitation. Little kids aren’t afraid of big words, so I teach them these words and try to explain the concepts as best I can.

We then studied clouds, and Justin and Patrick were taught the names of the clouds and learned which clouds are responsible for rain and storms.

As part of all this, we did a little activity I found online called “Cloud in a Jar.”

First I half-filled a big glass jar with water, and then I put a layer of shaving cream on top of the water as the “cloud.”

The boys then added blue food colouring on top of the cloud until the “rain” became too heavy for it…

In addition to this activity, I made some simple weather fridge magnets for the boys to chart the weather with, and converted a plastic flowerpot into a “rain gauge.” Ryan took the boys into the garage and made a weathervane with them too. :)

Cheers!

Kristin

 

Dinosaur Fossil Creations!

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Once in a while, when I’m feeling energetic and ambitious, I do some preschool with my boys. I draw inspiration for my teaching methods from different educational philosophies, such as Montessori, Charlotte Mason, classical education, etc. Mostly, I try to read good, solid books  to the children and give them hands-on activities to help draw their interest and make these lessons more memorable for their young minds.

Back in January and February, we were learning about Creation and Noah’s Flood, and we took a little detour to study about dinosaurs, which is an interest of the boys. Justin and Patrick have a small collection of toy dinosaurs and have learned most of their dinosaurs names (such as ‘Parasaurolophus’ and ‘Pachycephalosaurus’).

As part of this study, we decided to make some fossils of our own using the boys’ toy dinosaurs and a simple salt dough recipe I found online for just such a project.

The boys helped with stirring the dough…

And with rolling the dough…

We then pressed their toy dinosaurs (and our hands!) into the dough to make fossil imprints, and baked our ‘fossils’ in the oven:

After our fossils cooled, we pulled out some craft paint and brushes and went crazy! :)

Cheers!

Kristin

Raising Toddlers: Cleaning Together

Monday, April 4th, 2011

My toddler probably couldn’t care less whether the house is clean and tidy.  But he likes to clean — because Mommy does it.  Toddlers love to work one-on-one alongside their parents. It’s the highest form of play for them, as my mother-in-law learned through Montessori.

Justin and I have done a lot of cleaning together and have had fun doing it. My little boy will even go so far as to fight me for the mop or feather-duster on occasion! This is not to say that cleaning with my toddler has been a painless experience though. Frustration has been a large part of the process, but I’m slowly but surely learning how to involve my toddler(s) in everyday household tasks without making much more of a mess than there was before.

The following are some pointers (and important sub-points) from my own personal experience and observation:

1. Provide the toddler with cleaning items of his own. This means a child-sized broom, his own scrub brush, spray bottle (with water only!), etc. This will make cleaning more fun for him, and will prevent him from fighting you for those items.

(1a)  Never give a toddler a sponge unless you intend to have large soapy puddles all over the floor.

(1b)  Keep in mind that a broom handle can double as a bat to knock things off shelves and counters, and as a pole to poke baby with, so keep an eye on your toddler when he has it.

(1c)  I’ll reiterate, while your toddler will love having a spray bottle of his own, only put water in it…and not too much either!  The toddler has nothing to inhibit him from spraying everything, including himself and the baby’s face, and a lot of spraying concentrated in one spot will leave a puddle which could damage something if it goes unnoticed.

2. Have your toddler work with you on the same task; that is, never send him off to tackle another cleaning project while you take care of this one.  I can tell you right now, it won’t work.

(2a)  If Justin is representative of all toddlers, then toddlers do not have the attention span to stick to a task all by themselves.  Simply telling him to clean up his toys and books — without seeing the task through and calling him back to it continuously — will result in nothing done.

(2b)  Toddlers want to work with you.  So giving them a separate task is to miss the point of cleaning together.

3.  Be selective.  Some tasks are appropriate for toddler involvement, and others aren’t. You have to consider safety, the toddler’s ability, and whether toddler inclusion in the task at hand would be a positive experience overall or have you pulling your hair out.

(3a) Transferring clothes to the dryer, cleaning windows, sweeping the floor, scrubbing the floor (if it’s not water sensitive), and picking up toys, are tasks which can be more or less compatible with toddlers.  Mind you, in my experience, sweeping the floor with a toddler isn’t easy, as it requires defensive maneuvering to prevent your dust pile from getting scattered everywhere.

(3b) Cleaning dishes (unless they’re tough plastic) and scrubbing toilets are not good choices for toddler involvement. Even mopping/scrubbing can be hazardous, as toddlers have no comprehension whatsoever of ‘slippery when wet’, and will run across the floor as usual.  Justin hit the floor enough times that I finally gave up and would only do my mopping when he was contained in a playpen or highchair.

4.  Remind yourself that this is for a good cause and that it will (hopefully) pay off in the future.  You are teaching your little one important life skills. He is learning step by step how Mommy cleans, and developing the coordination to do it himself in the future.  He is forming a good work ethic, and, just maybe, by the time he is five or six or seven he will be able do it all by himself.

Think of it this way: You are multi-tasking. You are getting the cleaning done (albeit more slowly and with some complicating factors) and you are spending meaningful time with your toddler.  It’s a win-win!

5.  Relax and try to stay calm, cool, and collected and keep an up-beat attitude while doing this. I have had to catch myself a number of times when frustration was getting the better of me.  Yelling at your toddler won’t accomplish anything good.  So if you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, just quit that task and leave it for later.  Think through whether your toddler can be involved in a different way, or whether this task is just not appropriate for him.  Or maybe you are just having a tough day and tomorrow it will go better.

If you are a perfectionist, try to lower your standards a bit, and accept that this is going to be a messy process and that the house will be a bit dirtier than you like for this stage of your life.  Your children are not going to stay little for long.  These are their most formative years, and once they are gone, you will never be able to get them back. So I would encourage you to let the cleanliness of the house slide a bit for now and invest yourself in relationships with your children.  You will never regret it.  :D

-Kristin

Equipping Maniacs

Monday, June 21st, 2010

In fact, Americans, taken as we find them, who do not get their moral restraints from the Bible, have none. If, in our moral training of the young, we give up the “Thus says the Lord,” we shall have no hold left. The training which does not base duty on Christianity, is, for us, practically immoral.

If testimony is needed, let us quote Dr. Griffin: “To educate the mind of a bad man without correcting his morals is to put a sword into the hands of a maniac.”

John Locke spoke to the same point. “It is virtue, then, direct virtue, which is the hard and valuable part to be aimed at in education. If virtue is not settled in the student, to the exclusion of all vicious habits, all the education in the world will do nothing but make the student worse or more dangerous.”

Taken from R. L. Dabney’s On Secular Education (updated version by Douglas Wilson)