What is Homeschooling? Understanding and Dispelling the Myths

Most of society views homeschooling as a relatively new and peculiar practice. Contrary to popular belief, homeschooling is not new. It has been around almost since the beginning of time. As long as we have had homes, homeschooling has been in existence. As far as the idea that it is unusual, that is probably true. These days we conform to society in so very many ways. Homeschooling is definitely unconventional by today’s worldly standards.

I have been hearing an overabundance of homeschooling myths being spoken or expressed lately. I thought I’d address those in this post today with the hopes of informing those who don’t understand homeschooling as well as those who have some unenlightened theories about the homeschooling movement.

Myth: Homeschoolers are kept at home all day with no exposure to the outside world.
TRUTH: Homeschoolers have many outlets outside of the home. We have just as many activities, if not more, than public school students. Depending on their situation and need, homeschoolers go to the library, bank, stores, church, hair salon, concerts, sporting events, plays, music classes, and more. Homechoolers choose not to attend public school, ONE PLACE, and for some reason folks believe they don’t go anywhere at all. How do they think we worship, get our food, books, clothes, etc.? Contrary to popular belief, we do live and function in society. We just choose to teach our children differently. Unfortunately, the myth that we don’t leave our home perpetuates another myth, and probably the most popular falsehood about homeschooling…

Myth: Homeschoolers are unsocialized.
TRUTH: Homeschoolers are some of the most “socialized” and respectftul people on the planet.  You have to know the true definition of “socialize”. Many people believe socialization is conformity and fitting in, popularity, being like everyone else. That is not what socialization is, thank goodness! The definition of socialize is: to make fit for life in companionship with others. In other words to learn manners, respect, and skills to be a productive and beneficial member of society. Children were never meant to learn true social skills through the public school setting. Think about it. How can a group of children all the same age teach each other social skills that they have not come of age to learn? I don’t necessarily want my children learning their manners from strangers because I don’t know what their social skills are, and they probably aren’t any more than what my children might know because they are the same age. They are all generally on the same level.

The first and main place children learn social skills is their parents and home. Then they are to practice those skills in public settings, but public school is only one of a million settings wherein they can practice. In fact, the thought that public school is a “social setting” is actually a distraction from the academics that are supposed to be taught there.

Unfortunately, most parents these days don’t teach their kids respect and manners. I know many public school teachers who are fed up with the lack of respect in the classroom and the fact that they are expected to now not only cover academics, but also deal with social and behavioral issues. Teachers were never meant to parent or baby sit their public school students. They were meant to teach academics. That’s not to say they weren’t meant to support and care for children, but they weren’t meant to raise our children and that’s how most parents treat school these days. 

I have one child who is very talkative and outgoing, always has been. I have one who is talkative once she warms up to you. I have one child who was deathly shy, and now she is one of the most talkative and outgoing of the bunch. I have one who is quiet and reserved, who likes to sit back and take everything in, and it is a struggle sometimes to get them to share or express anything. None of these behaviors are a result of homeschooling. They are a result of the personality with which they were created. I know many folks who believe my shy, reserved child is this way because we homeschool, but that’s just not true. One of my other children was the same way until she became a certain age and all of the ways we allowed and encouraged her to express herself began to blossom. Now she is very different, not better because there was nothign “wrong” with her to begin with), but she is different than she was before. God used her gentle, shy ways then, and He’s using her outspoken ways now. Don’t assume because a homeschooler is shy or reserved that they are not “socialized”. My children are respectful. They know when to be loud and boisterous, and when to sit still and listen respectfully when someone is talking. Society thinks they are like “robots” or that they are peculiar because they don’t speak out of turn or talk when a speaker is talking, or they don’t run around tables at a restaurant or up and down the aisles at the movie theater. No it’s the polar opposite. They are socialized and have been taught to be respectful of others before themselves.

As a homeschooler I can attest to the fact that we have way too many opportunities to practice social skills. In fact sometimes it is hard to balance all of the social activities with academics. We are members of a homeschool support group. We have lego clubs, debate, yearbook, community volunteer service, robotics, chess, book clubs, language clubs, Bible studies, field trips, archery clubs, public speaking, sports, band, and the list goes on and on… And our social activities are in multiple settings with multiple types of people, not just staring at the same 4 walls in a classroom with the same 30 kids day in and day out. They are exposed to different manners and ideas. Some align with those in our home, some do not, and that gives us opportunity for lots of discussions and life lessons on what is acceptable and Christ-like. However, my children are not surrounded and inundated with teachings contrary to our home. I would never put my child in that situation, because children are sponges. They absorb behavior and influences. I am their parent and I have a right to decide what influences my child. I don’t want to put them in an environment that competes with what we are teaching at home from a spiritual/biblical perspective. They spend a lot more time in a classroom than they do their waking hours at home. It makes absolutely no sense to believe that a few hours at home will change what they have absorbed all day long in a different setting. God warns us about this: 

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

I John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires will pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

Myth: Homeschoolers have no friends.
TRUTH: I can’t believe I am even going to address this one, but here goes: YES WE HAVE FRIENDS! In fact, most traditional homeschoolers don’t get caught up in the drama and the social clique types of behaviors in society, although some do when thrown into those types of environments on a regular basis. That tends to be human nature, but most don’t. Since we are exposed to so many different settings, and since homeschoolers are a diverse group of people, we tend to have all sorts of friends. However, having lots of friends is not the goal in life. Lifelong, tight, close, true friends are the ones we look for. God places those in our lives and they are the ones who care about us, help and support us on our homeschooling journey, and have similar values. We hold each other accountable, pray for one another, and they are the first ones there to help in the time of need. Public school is a place to make friends, but it is not the place to spend time hanging out with your friends all day. School is for education. So we get together with our friends outside of our school day just like everyone else. I have to admit that we are just like everyone else in that we don’t feel like we spend enough time with our friends, but it’s not because we homeschool. It’s because we live life.

Myth: Homeschooling is school textbook work at home.
TRUTH: WRONG! Homeschooling is you as a parent being able to exercise your right to choose what your child is taught, how it’s taught, when it is taught. It is your right and responsibility to decide how they are influenced and who is shaping their character. We use a faith-based curriculum that shows God’s influence in every subject. God shouldn’t be compartmentalized, but should be integrated in all aspects of our lives. We teach a Biblical worldview. We also teach about other cultures and religions, but in the proper perspective so our children know what they believe, why they believe it, they receive education in apologetics.

It’s about tailoring your child’s education to their learning style. It is not a one-size-fits-all education. I have four children and all four of them have different learning styles. They would not thrive or learn if I tried to push them into a box in which they do not fit. Textbook work is done in our home, but for most of us it is our least favorite, so we get to engage in lots of object lessons and hands-on activities wherein the children can actually experience what they are learning and not just read about it. This helps them understand and retain what they are learning.

Virtual schools have a purpose, but you have to be careful what you choose. Free programs are typically run by the public school system. They are controlled by the govt and therefore are not considered to be “homeschools”, but are “public school at home”. That means that you do not get to choose what is being taught. However there are some virtual schools that are run by homeschool curriculum publishers that allow you to choose the scope of education, those would be considered online homeschool programs.

There are homeschool co-ops you can join where parents join based on the scope of education. Parents volunteer to teach each other’s children and they meet varying amounts during the week. We are pretty traditional so we haven’t joined a co-op but it works for many families. However, all of my children have taken Sunday School classes, creative writing classes, and science classes in a group classroom setting. They have also taken standardized testing in a group setting. There are pros like a classroom setting, accountability from a teacher rather than a parent, and if a parent isn’t strong in a subject they may feel better having someone else teach it.
There are also cons, such as losing some of the parental rights/control of your child’s education, cost, social issues. I think some of the social issues come into play because many times children are then placed in a situation much like a public school setting where they join cliques, become absorbed in popularity, pop culture, dress, etc. They aren’t necessarily learning the same academic skills as public school, but it can lead to some of the derogatory social skills you don’t want them to learn.

Myth: Homeschoolers get to take it easy and do whatever they want all day.
TRUTH: I roll over laughing at this one. Homeschooling is hard work. Many people think it’s a chance to be lazy, but it’s just the opposite. Now, for most states it is very flexible schedule-wise to homeschool if you don’t use the public school at home options because you can set your daily and yearly schedule to your own needs as long as you teach for the required amount of days. However, it’s not a time to be undisciplined or you’ll spend time catching up or get behind. It’s also more strenuous on a homeschooler. For instance, in our state a homeschool honors course is more rigorous and requires more work than a public school honors course. As homeschoolers we are required to do more. It’s not really fair, but that’s ok because in the long run we benefit.

Myth: Homeschooling is a one-sided, biased education.
TRUTH: As I mentioned before, we inform our children of other cultures, religions, and lifestyles within society. However, we believe in an absolute truth. We know that there is right and wrong, good and evil in this world. We teach our children the truth about what to believe, why we don’t believe certain things, and how to respect and tolerate, but not absorb and accept the lies and wrongs of society. In my experience being a public school graduate, I received a one-sided, biased education. I am giving my children a much more well-rounded and informed education.

Myth: Homeschoolers are restricted when it comes to opportunities offered to them after graduation.
TRUTH: Colleges are vigorously recruiting homeschoolers these days, and we know tons of businesses that are seeking homeschoolers for employment. Businesses and colleges have seen that homeschoolers overcome odds and hold values that society doesn’t believe in or afford any more. We have good work ethics, respectful social skills, know how to beat the odds, endure and overcome much scrutinity from society, which makes us strong and independent. 

I hope this helps bring some understanding to the purposes behind homeschooling and dispels some of the myths that surround it. Homeschooling is truly a way of life and a path our family is grateful for every single day. We thank God that He honors us every day with the blessing of homeschooling!

Shielding Your Family from This Season’s Germs

As a family of six, whenever we are exposed to viruses we try to take as many precautions as we can to prevent the spread of germs. We have our routine preventative measures, but we also employ extra methods to prevent the spread of germs. Otherwise, it is going to run its course through our entire home and can take a month or more to leave us.

One thing we do on a regular basis is keep our toothbrushes covered with those plastic covers. I use natural toothpaste that is white and my toothbrush cover is also white so when I see it looking a little dirty, it disgusts me. I disinfect and clean it often, but I always worry about germs that may be lurking on it and jumping onto my toothbrush. I mean, that kinda defeats the who purpose.
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Recently, I was introduced to IntelliDent Toothbrush Shields. They are made of breathable material that allows your toothbrush to dry. These sleeves simply slide down right over the head of your toothbrush. They are actually disposable, so you don’t have to take the time to disinfect them.

My children really appreciated not having to try to turn they plastic covers a certain way to lock them into place. There is no wrong side of the toothbrush shields, so they are able to just slip them over the toothbrush and go.

They are tested and proven to be effective for up to seven days, so you don’t have to use a new one each day. They are compact which makes them easy to store in our already crowded bathrooms, and they work well for travel.

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy it when I am able to let go of some tasks and worries. It’s been nice to not have to clean my old plastic toothbrush cover. It’s been even nicer not to worry about germs that might be trapped or growing on the plastic holders and as a result all of our toothbrushes and into our bodies.

They also have mouthpiece shields that work well for retainers. My oldest wears a retainer every night. She attends college and works in the food industry. She brings home lots of germs, so having a mouthpiece shield gives peace of mind as well. Plastic retainer keepers containers can be disgusting.

I highly recommend IntelliDent Shields. If you’d like more information about them, you can contact them directly at info@toothbrushshield.com or on their website.

To prevent the spread of germs, we use preventives and immunity boosters through essential oils and other natural sources. We always keep a safe distance from anyone in our home who is sick. We make sure we keep our children home when they are sick and don’t share germs with others.  We don’t eat or drink after each other. We don’t eat off of the ground or floor. I know everyone says a little dirt never hurt anyone, but that is just disgusting. Do you realize how much animal feces and bacteria we step on outside and then bring inside our home from our shoes onto our floors. You can get hook worms and other parasites from these nasty practices and many times not know it until you become very sick. These can also be spread to your family members. Ultimately, we try to provide a clean environment for our family to prevent as much sickness as possible.

I pray you and your family practice good hygiene, take measures to prevent the spread of bacteria and germs, and that you have a healthy season!

*I have not received compensation for this post, but I did receive IntelliDent Toothbrush Shields to review.

Encouragement for “One of Those Days”

One of Those DaysEver have “one of those days”? Lately, I’ve been having them often. Attempting to balance homeschooling, taking care of my family, and now a business, is taking its toll on me some days. Running a business is a full time job in and of itself, but it’s not my primary calling. Some days I feel like a stretched out piece of elastic that has lost it’s elasticity. I can’t bounce back enough to benefit anyone.

How do you possibly do everything on your list when you have more tasks than there are hours in a day? Other than starting your day with The Lord, giving Him control of your day, and prioritizing, I really don’t have the answer. That’s okay…sometimes there isn’t an immediate and tangible answer. Sometimes we just need hope and encouragement to help us persevere.Keep your quiet moment appointments with The Lord. Read and pray on the scriptures below, and rest in their wisdom and promises. Remember God always keeps His promises.

  • I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2
  • The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. Psalm 34:17
  • God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
  • Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
  • Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22
  • I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
  • So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? Hebrews 13:6
  • For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
  • Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
  • In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free. Psalm 118:5
  • For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear.  I will help you.” Isaiah 41:14
  • He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isaiah 40:29
  • I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Hang in there, my friends! Remember, God is faithful!

Names of Jesus Ornaments with Christmas Devotions

christmas-ornaments-watermarkedIn years past we’ve used a Jesse Tree and devotions during the Christmas season.  A few years ago I was pinning some of my favorite Christmas crafts I came across a picture of some beautifully crafted glass ornaments with the names of Jesus on them.  I repinned the post and read later (like most of us do when we are short on time).  I really liked this idea, because I ADORE anything that reminds me of all of the names of my precious Jesus.  I also liked the idea that each of my children could make their own set of ornaments to celebrate the advent season.  Not only could they use them to decorate their own trees in their rooms, but they could also keep them over the years and share them with their children.

I began researching and found an awesome Names of Jesus unit study here from the Easy Fun School website.  It teaches 24 names of Jesus, scripture, handwriting pages, word searches, and activities for each subject which are tied to the lesson.  The study actually includes a list of all of the names of Jesus so you can study even more. We did this study and made these ornaments years ago, but my children still use these today and they plan to use their ornaments in their own home some day.

To create our Names of Jesus ornaments and Bible study, I went to my craft closet and gathered all of my supply bins.  I purchased sets of fillable glass ornaments for each child (and one for myself).  I would get extra in case some break.  You can also purchase acrylic ornaments, but they are more costly.

You could utilize paint pens in black, gold and silver to write the names of Jesus and the scripture reference on the outside of the ornaments or you could purchase vinyl decals here.

There are lots of options for decorating the ornaments:

  1. You could pour a small amount of paint into the inside of the ornament, cover the whole and shake. You can also swirl a few colors into the ornaments to give them a marbelized effect. Then be sure to turn the ornament upside down and put it into a bathroom sized paper or plastic cup to drain for a day or two.
  2. I love the look of glittered ornaments, but glitter on the outside is extremely messy. Polycrylic is a clean and beautiful way to glitter ornaments. Simply pour a little polycrylic into the ornament and immediately turn the ornament upside down into a cup to drain out the excess. Then sprinkle a little of your favorite color glitter into the ornament and slowly turn the ornament around in your hands to coat the entire inside with glitter. Add more if needed. Then turn the ornament upside down into another cup to allow the excess glitter to sprinkle out. Then you can immediately put your top back into your ornament. You can pour your excess glitter and polycrylic from your cups back into their respective containers. e of the ornaments, squirt small amounts of paint inside and shake.  You can swirl more than one color inside as well.
  3. Fill ornaments with trinkets that pertain to the scripture reference. For example, for “Bright and Morning Star” we filled our ornament with star confetti. We didn’t completely fill our ornaments with trinkets as sometimes that makes the label on the outside difficult to read. You can also see the trinkets better as well.

You can easily fill ornaments with sweet trinkets. However, I found that it could be quite pricey to fill them completely so I only fill ours half way to be thrify. It also makes it easier to see the trinkets when there is still room inside the ornament. Be creative with your trinkets. If you need some inspiration, here are some ideas:

1. Alpha & Omega–fill with cutouts of the Alpha & Omega symbol.
2. Wonderful Counselor–fill with paint or glitter or beads or filler.
3. Mighty God–fill with cutouts of barbels or gold ball filler or beads.
4. Everlasting Father–fill with artificial pine needles or paint green for evergreens.
5. Prince of Peace–fill with dove confetti or cutouts of doves or crowns or artificial snow filler.
6. The Firstborn of Every Creature– Fill ornament with birthday candles or birthday confetti.
7. The Unspeakable Gift–we made cutouts of gifts using small construction paper or gift-shaped confetti or little bows.
8. Lamb of God–fill with cotton or fiberfill.
9. The Good Shepherd-fill with cutouts of shepherd staffs or mini candy canes.
10. Bright & Morning Star-fill with star-shaped sequins.
11. Messiah–glitter or paint.
12. Immanuel–another filled with paint, glitter, sequins, or beads.
13. Holy–glitter or paint.
14. Light of the World–mini light ornaments or mini light bulbs (just be sure they will fit in the hole of the ornament).

15. Dayspring–glitter or gold, pink, orange paint to represent the colors of a sunrise.
16. The Word–In small font, I printed John 1:1 on paper, cut out multiple, curl, and put inside ornament or Bible confetti.
17. Servant–I printed a small picture of Jesus washing the disciples feet and put inside ornament or paint/glitter.
18. King–Fill with gems or crowns.
19. Rose of Sharon–Fill with real or silk rose petals.
20. Lily of the Valley–Fill with silk lily petals, paint or glitter.
21. Friend–Fill with paint, glitter, sequins or beads.
22. Savior–Fill with cutout crosses or cross shaped beads
23. Shiloh–Fill with paint, glitter, sequins or beads.
24. Ancient of Days–Fill with paint, glitter, sequins or beads.

When your ornaments are all dry you can store them in their box or put them in a bowl, etc.  You can begin utilizing them in whatever fashion works for your family.  We started on December 1st and will follow the study daily for 24 days as a family during our night time devotions, but this is a unit study so you could actually use it during your homeschool day.  During our devotions, we study the name and verse.  We have chosen activities from each day to do together as a family.  Then we close in prayer and each of us puts our ornament of the day on the tree.  Sometimes we put them on the tree. Other years we put them in a crystal bowl or wooden box on our table so we can reflect on the names each time we pass through or sit down to eat in the heart of our home.

If you need simplicity this Christmas season, you can purchase a set of 12 Names of Jesus ornaments here. They come with printed scripture reference and prayer focus. I pray your family is able to utilize this and other ways to enjoy celebrating Jesus throughout the Christmas season.

Pressed for Time?

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Who wouldn’t love to add more hours to the day? Twenty-four hours is just not enough time to get everything done. Unfortunately, I don’t have a mathematical equation or a scientific formula to solve this age old problem. There are only 24 hours in a day and there is no way to change that. However, I do know a way to get the most benefit from the 24 hours we are given.

Click here to read more of my post over on Raising Homemakers.

Summer Activities for Your Homeschool Journey

summer homeschool activitiesSummer break is quickly approaching! I don’t know about you, but I could REALLY use a break. It’s been a busy year of trials and triumphs.

Of course I’m always ready for a break, but there should be a purpose for everything we do and it should always be an intentional and beneficial use of our time. At the end of each year, I take stock of our accomplishments and our shortcomings. I contemplate year-round schooling and other schedule options for our homeschool and implement what is best for our situation at that time.
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Let’s face it, taking a summer break isn’t always the most beneficial option. Sometimes children forget what they’ve learned over the course of three months. Then you spend the first part of the following year reviewing what they forgot.
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Here in South Carolina, it’s miserably hot by the beginning of August. The warm pool water isn’t refreshing. When you jump in you feel more like your boiling in a pot rather than swimming in a pool. There are also those famous last words: “I’m bored” that I sometimes hear after only a few weeks of summer break? That is one of my least favorite sayings ever. As a mommy, I would give ANYTHING to be bored. pool-690034_1280To avoid some of these pitfalls of summer, I thought I’d share some of our scheduling tips, games, and activities we’ve used over our 13 years of homeschooling.
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We take a shorter summer break and allow for mini breaks throughout the school year. We take a take eight or nine weeks off in the summer. Then we take a week off in September, several weeks during the holidays, and then another week off for Easter break. We also plan a few long weekends throughout the schedule. A shorter summer usually gives us time to rest, play, re-organize our supplies, choose and shop for the next year’s curriculum, take a trip, tackle a few projects, and maybe even schedule some appointments to get them out of the way before we resume school.
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To keep our lessons fresh in our minds, we will discuss some of the things we learned throughout the school year. We’ll play math games, thinking skills games, and participate in activities that reinforce what we learned and keep our minds fresh for the next school year.  Here are some amazing activities and resources that will turn your summer break into educational fun without your children even knowing it:
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A swimming pool is always a hit, but we can’t all afford an in-ground pool. This is a great option. We’ve bought a few of these over the course of our homeschooling journey. They’ve each lasted about 4 summers.

There are tons of water toys you can use for learning counting, colors, addition, subtraction, etc:

Math wrap ups are a wonderful way to keep those tables memorized and those hands out of trouble:

There are wrap ups for music and language subjects too!

We all live near historic towns. Take a field trip to one. You can walk through the streets learning history and observing creation. Many towns have wading fountains to keep you cool. There’s always an ice cream parlor nearby so reward your children with a scoop or two of their favorite flavor!

When it’s unbearably hot, have a movie day complete with popcorn and candy. Some local theaters even offer summer movies for a dollar or two.

During those summer afternoon thunderstorms, you could build a blanket fort or set up a tent in the living room, snuggle up and read books all afternoon. Many libraries offer a summer reading reward program.

You can hold a camp out in your own back yard complete with s’mores, water balloons, tent, and nature hunts.

Board games and outdoor games are always a hit with my children, and they don’t usually catch on to the fact that their learning in every subject!

Academics isn’t the only thing we need to teach our children, you know? How about set aside a week or two to learn some life skills? Make it as fun as you can by allowing your children to do some of the meal planning, shopping, cooking, laundry, car washing, yard work, etc. You could even throw in rewards like allowance or prizes for a job well done!

You’d be surprised what educational activities you can find to do over the summer. They’ll turn your summer into a low stress, fun, learning adventure that will benefit the whole family and create memories to last a lifetime!

Thorns of Encouragement

Thorns of Encouragement #homeschooling #parenting #encouragement #faithSoon our school year will be just another memory. What began nine months ago is quickly coming to an end. Are you like me, feeling as if each year ticks by faster than the last? I mean there are moments during our school year that seem to drag on forever like fractions, anatomy, pre-calculus… (Did you sense a trend? If you guessed we tend to struggle with math and science, you guessed correctly.) However, for the most part it has flown by. Taking the year as a whole, I feel as if it was a blurred whirlwind of events.

My oldest is wrapping up her freshman year of college. I’m in my third year of denial that my middle child is in high school, and this is pretty bad considering she will be a senior this fall. I don’t even want to think about the fact that in 5 short years my two youngest babies will graduate and most likely leave my nest at the same time–double whammy!pink rose closeupI’ve been reflecting on our homeschool journey a lot lately. I remember when we began. Stepping out on faith into the wild unknown of homeschooling was a frightening experience. Time with my precious children was what I always wanted. I knew it wasn’t always going to be rosy, but I had no idea how much time I would spend fussing about the lack of attention span, worrying about silly state education standards, cleaning up messes from science experiments gone wrong, and sweeping up the hair I pulled out during math meltdowns. I spent a lot of time focusing on the thorns instead of smelling the roses.

Even more valuable and memorable was the quality time I spent with my blessings. I didn’t realize how much time we would spend cuddling up on the couch with a good book, laughing at poems and short stories they’d written, teaching the time-honored but not forgotten traditions, crafts, and life skills of yesteryear, marveling and worshiping God and His creation, honoring our ancestors, hugging through the meltdowns, praying through the struggles, and thanking God for the honor and privilege of homeschooling. I am so grateful for these beautiful blossoms in our homeschool.

Now that I think about it, those thorns lead to some delightful blossoms; those moments were well worth it. I would endure the pricks and thorns one million times over to homeschool my children. After all, you can’t have true roses without thorns. They have a God-given purpose. Who am I to question God’s design and plan? Roses are one of God’s most beautiful creations. I can’t imagine avoiding the soft, delicate petals, the lovely fragrance, or the intricate beauty of a rose simply because of the thorns.

It won’t be long and I’ll be reflecting over our summer break and heading into the 2016-2017 school year. Our homeschool journey is moving way too fast for me.  Maybe you feel the same. It is my prayer for us all to take time to enjoy the roses of our homeschooling journey, thorns and all! Roses don’t last forever.

Activities to Keep Children Busy During School Break

Activities to Keep Children Busy During School Break #children #parenting www.ruckusandrubies.comI don’t know about your children, but mine tend to get bored easily during Christmas and spring breaks as well as summer break.  Boredom leads to lots of whining and loads of trouble. It’s times like those that make this homeschooling mommy schedule all year round. The problem with that is I NEED A BREAK! Skipping break is a punishment for me in many ways!

I need time to catch up on all of the other things that get placed on the back burner during our school year. I need a break from grading, paperwork, record keeping. Homeschooling knits us close together, but I need time with my children without any hindrances or pressures this world tries to heap on us.

Let’s face it–every endeavor in this life takes some sort of effort especially if you want it to be successful. With a little planning, your children can have the excitement they need while you get the vacation you so desperately deserve!

A few things you’ll need to remember: there will be times when you’ll have to let go and let the children make a mess. Have them help you clean it up, but allow them to just be children and have fun. Also, be sure to the age appropriateness and level of maturity of your children for each activities. Now, check out these awesome activities to keep your blessings busy:

  • Let your children build a fort over furniture.
  • Have a camp out in the backyard or inside your home complete with flashlights, pup tents, campfire or microwave s’mores.
  • Bake cutout sugar cookies.
  • Decorate and eat cupcakes.
  • Have a bubble blowing competition.
  • Play Twister in swimsuits with colored shave cream.
  • Purchase pom poms, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, glue, construction paper, popsicle sticks, or craft kits. Put down lots of newspaper or an old sheet, and have a craft day! Children can gift their crafts to grandparents, aunts, uncles, church family, the elderly, etc.
  • Make or purchase play money, set up a cash register or calculator, have children use stickers to put price tags on toys or other items, and let them play store.
  • Allow children to use cooker cutters and plastic knives to play with play doh. If you’re worried about mess, set it up outside at a table or on a blanket.
  • Buy random, inexpensive food ingredients and let children make their own snack creations whether or not the foods go together.
  • Blind-folded gourmet jelly bean challenge; have children guess flavors.
  • Keep old broken appliances and electronics. Be sure to check them for any safety precautions, remove old batteries, etc. Let children take them apart and put them back together (this was a favorite and very educational past time of my son).
  • Play board and card games. Here are some of our favorites: Sorry, Ticket to Ride,  UnoCandy Land
  • Set up minute-to-win-it games.
  • Fill a jar with random acts of kindness written on small pieces of paper.
  • Run through sprinklers.
  • Sidewalk paint and chalk.
  • Go for a nature walk.
  • Go for a bike ride.
  • Have a picnic lunch.
  • Utilize activity books like this one for more ideas: The Instant Curriculum: Over 750 Activities Developmentally Appropriate Activities.
  • Finger painting with paint or food.
  • Swimming.
  • Water balloons.
  • Have a Lego building challenge choosing themes for the projects like holidays or a topic you are learning in school.
  • Volunteer at a nursing home or children’s hospital.
  • Plan a sleepover with another family and trade off the following week, giving both sets of parents a break.
  • If you  have to run errands or take care of things during your break, take the children along but plan ahead by making a way to involve them in the process.  For example, allow them to help with grocery shopping by letting them grab things off shelf, push cart, or scan items at the self checkout. You can even teach them couponing.
  • Make popcorn, rent or stream movies, and have a movie afternoon.

With a little planning ahead, you can plan an exciting activity each day. Depending on the age of your children, many of these can be done without much involvement from you. That means you can utilize these activities to keep your monkeys busy while you enjoy a productive and hopefully restful break!

 

10 Things I Desperately Want My Children to Learn

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The other day after we finished a tough homeschool day, I was thinking about our homeschool journey. I was thinking about the importatance of academics, but that there are so many things I want my children to learn that have nothing to do with academics and everything to do with living life: Read more at my guest post on Raising Homemakers.

Overwhelmed by Homeschooling?

Overwhelmed by Homeschooling? Tips and advice for overwhelming the enemy instead of yourself. www.ruckusandrubies.com #homeschooling #faith

I wish I could say that after you homeschool for a while, you no longer feel overwhelmed. Many aspects of the journey do get easier, better, less stressful, but there are always going to be aspects of homeschooling that overwhelm us.

Whether it is Algebra, the science experiment gone awry, meltdowns over writing assignments, the phone ringing off the hook, non-supportive family members and friends, broken appliances, there will always be something that tries to ruin your homeschool journey.

We must remember: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12.

The enemy, satan, wants to steal, kill, and destroy our homeschools. He wants us to throw in the towel. Knowing this gives me a whole new perspective on my struggles. It makes me angry, but most of all motivated. It makes me want to “man up”, stop whining, and fight for my children and our homeschool.

When you feel overwhelmed, use these tips as ammunition against the enemy:

  1. Get into your prayer closet. Encourage your children to pray with you. I know it is an interruption to your homeschool schedule, but math problems can wait. Protecting your home from the enemy cannot!
  2. Reach out to your prayer warriors. Nothing bothers satan more than to hear the prayers of many saints fighting against him.
  3. Seek advice from your homeschool support group, accountability association, or fellow homeschoolers.
  4. Take a break from the overwhelming tasks, pray over them, and do something fun instead. You could take a field trip, go to the library, have a game day, volunteer, perform random acts of kindness in the community, or just take the day off and spend it cuddling and basking in His light.
  5. Speak to the enemy. Bind him in the name of Jesus. Grab your Bible and study scripture. Claim it against the enemy just as Jesus did. Include your children in this maneuver, because they need to know how to recognize who they are battling and how to defeat him.
  • And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who are those with thee? And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant. Genesis 33:5
  • And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Hebrews 2:13
  • Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
  • Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1
  • Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

The truth is that whether or not you homeschool, there are times of trial for everyone in this life. Hang in there! Remember God’s faithfulness. Seek Him first, and He has promised He will take care of the rest. God never breaks His promises!