Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Classical Conversations Conference Part 6


In my opinion, you cannot give your child a decent education if you cannot be consistent. 
This is not to say that I think homeschoolers need to achieve perfection. 
None of us are perfect people, perfect Christians, perfect wives, perfect parents, or perfect homeschoolers. 
Even though perfection alludes us on this earth, consistency with schoolwork is possible.
Another word for consistent is harmonious.  Remember that word from this series?  *w*
Consistency means dependability.
It is the opposite of erratic and irregular.
One way we "find harmony" as homeschooling parents is through being consistent with our teaching of our children.  An example from Leigh Bortins book "Echo in Celebration" (available free in PDF form online) that really stuck with me was this one:
(I'm paraphrasing and adapting it to illustrate my point here.)
Jayne's grandma had a cow.
The cow got milked every day.
Whether it was raining, snowing, or the sun was shining the cow got milked.
The day Jayne's grandma died, the cow got milked.
The day the relatives came for the funeral the cow got milked.
The day after the funeral the cow got milked.
Are our children's educations of less importance than the cow?
Though we would initially say "No!" to this question, our actions will tell the true answer.
We always have time for the things we want to have time for.
A person who owns a cow makes time to milk that cow.
Do we consistently make time for the kid's lessons even when it cuts into our own agenda?
Do we model a love for learning and reading for our children on a regular basis?
Do we demand excellence from our kids or let them do just enough to scrape by?
Do we strive for school to be "easy" and fun above all else?
Do we cancel school when we're having a rough day or feeling lazy?
Do we allow our kids 100 days off from schoolwork and reading and learning during the summer months?
I know many, many homeschooling parents.  While the majority are doing their best to teach their children and give them an excellent education, I know that consistency can be a struggle for many families.  Life is full and there are many interruptions.  If it hard for people to commit to events and groups, then you can imagine how hard it is for parents to not want to give up when schoolwork demands sacrifice and struggle.
It isn't easy, and it takes a LOT of discipline.
Consistency is of extreme importance to our children's education.
If you can't provide consistency for your children, I think your children are better off in public or private school.
Some families will approach academics more rigorously than others.  Some will spend 8 hours a day doing school and others only 2.  Some will want to include lots and lots of extra-curriculars or foreign languages and other families will stick with the basics.  What books you use and what teaching method and what extras and crafts you do are less important than the fact that you remain dependable about carving out time for learning on a regular basis. 
When moms ask me for advice on homeschooling I tell them that, after reliance on the Lord, personal discipline is the key to successful homeschooling.  There are lots of great curriculums on the market, but it won't matter which one you buy if you are not faithful to use it!  I knew that I lacked discipline when Ali was a preschooler.  My life was pretty chaotic, with 3 kids 3 and under, and how each day went depended largely on whether or not I got any sleep the night before or how many kids were sick or had diaper blowouts.  It was an exhausting season of life. 
However, I knew that in a couple of years, Ali would be starting school.  I knew that jumping in from "uber-flexible mode" to daily schooling would be hard for me.  So, I slowly began to build school time into our days.  We did morning Bible stories and songs together.  My parents paid for Ali to attend Christian pre-school for a year and that helped us get into more of a "school mode."  When she was 4, we did a little bit of school each day, working on fun projects, crafts, and reading lots of library books together.  By the time she did start homeschooling officially we were in a habit of making time for school studies in our busy days.
Each year, as my kids get older and need to spend more and more time on schoolwork and reports, our time spent homeschooling grows.  This means we have less time for some of the activities and playdates that we used to enjoy.  I ignore the phone during school time and have to put chores and laundry on hold for later in the day.  It requires my own committment first and foremost because I am the model my kids will follow.  If I am ready and excited about school every morning, they will get on board and join me.  I have found that 8am-11am is the best time for productivity at our house, so if we waste those hours, getting schoolwork done becomes a much harder task.  I have found that for our own family, jumping into school immediately after breakfast is the best way for us to get on task and accomplish what we need to for the day.  Dirty dishes may sit in the sink, but they will wait.  We can get to the chores later; studying and learning are more important ways to utelize our best hours of the day.  There are times we have to be flexible, like our 2 weeks of homeschool swimming lessons every fall, but this is our plan for the majority of our school year.
An excellent education requires consistency.
I love that Classical Conversations helps parents remain consistent with weekly support and accountability, yearly training practicums (which are offered for FREE!), and outstanding content that truly raises the bar for kids in our culture today, who have little, if any, understanding of History, English Grammar, Latin, Science, Geography, and also have a lack of ability to speak well in front of an audience.  By consistently working on memory work and memorizing a little each week, CC students come away from their school year retaining most of what they've studied and knowing more than most people learn in college.
If consistency is a problem for you, get some help! 
Talk to some experienced homeschool moms about what has helped them to be consistent with schoolwork.  Find a trusted person you can pray with about growth in consistency.  Join a homeschool co-op or a CC group if you have one in your area.  If you order curriculum packages, join an online forum or fb page related to the program and check in with people weekly, sharing joys and struggles.  Put your phone or internet in lockdown for certain hours if it helps you avoid distractions. 
The kids will model your behavior. 
If you make studying a priority, they will follow in your footsteps!
Milk the cow!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Classical Conversations Conference Part 5

Investment and Accountability
If there's one thing I've noticed over the last several years, it's that few people today are committed to things they start.  I've seen it in every single group that we've been involved with in a social setting.  Whether it's AWANA, Youth Group, Pray and Play, Bible Study, homeschool events, Kindermusik Group, Frugal Friends Club, Book Club, exercise group, sports activities, 5 Day Club, Library Story Time, etc. it is rare to find folks who stick with a group and make it a priority to be there on a consistent basis.  To be fair, rearing children is truly exhausting, and many times our kids' activities and illnesses dictate how committed we can be.  I am a busy mom so I understand how busy moms are and how full life gets.  I know that being flexible and caring for your family and their health comes first and that there are many interruptions to life as a homemaker that are unplanned.  Also, things like pregnancy, having a special needs child, health concerns, having preemie babies, etc. can completely de-rail one's life and committments.

But it is disappointing when people don't show up.  I've planned or been a part of countless get-togethers that have had a poor showing of attendees, even if several people said they were going to come.  I've seen my husband plan many things that fell through when people backed out at the last minute.  While some have great reasons for missing, a lot of times it comes down to "I didn't feel like it" or "I forgot" or "I committed to two things on the same day and had to pick one."  I think oftentimes there are so many good choices, that people fail to choose the best things over the good and load their schedules so much that they end up having to back out of some things.

One thing I had drilled into me as a kid was to be a person of your word.  To be faithful.  Hence, the title of this blog...Faithful Homemaking.  Sometimes I think that all you need to be a leader nowadays is to be consistent at something, because consistency is so rare.
One thing I LOVE LOVE LOVE about Classical Conversations is that it requires an investment.
Because you pay tuition in advance and sign a contract saying you will actively participate, you are obligated to be at the weekly class time unless you are very ill.  Because the kids learn so much during class, a parent will not want their children to "miss out" unless it is absolutely necessary.
For someone like me who enjoys interaction with other homeschoolers and desires for my kids to have great fellowship with their friends, it is a dream come true to be in a group where people are truly invested.
At one point someone asked if we could do the CC material together as a group, and not be registered with the official CC, and therefore, not charge tuition.  It sounded like a great idea considering that for most homeschool families money is very tight.  But, the truth is, if CC were free, there wouldn't be as much incentive to be faithful.  If you didn't get your schoolwork done, or if the weather was dreary, you might just want to stay home.  I think the same few people would get stuck doing all of the work, and then would end up feeling bitter about it.  In the CC model, the parents who do the majority of the work, tutors, are compensated financially.  People have to INVEST in it to join and therefore, only those who are serious enough to back their intention with cold, hard, cash are a part of the group.  Although it's expensive for us, I feel that it is worth every penny.  And I'm speaking from a stand-point of being at the bottom of the totem pole regarding incomes!  Though CC costs more than our former homeschool program did, it still costs only 1/10th of what Christian school tuition is here. 

Another reason I love being a part of Classical Conversations is the accountability as a homeschool mom.  One of my student's moms and I were talking over our picnic lunches yesterday about how having to be prepared for our group time each week pushes us to do more schooling with our kids.  I'm a very disciplined person, and I care about my children's education, so whether or not I am in CC I will be working hard to ensure that they get a quality education.  However, there are definitely some things that used to get put off or skipped because there wasn't a deadline on them.  Now there is a deadline: our CC community time on Tuesday mornings.  So the kid's oral reports had better be researched and ready to go!  They better know their memory work and have practiced their map tracing, fine arts, and math facts at home!

Accountability isn't just good for the moms, it's great for the kids too!  Positive peer pressure is a beautiful thing!  I have two students who are pushing each other to become Memory Masters.  This is no small undertaking, but their friendly rivalry will hopefully keep them going so they earn that prestigious title.  (A Memory Master is one who can perfectly recite all 24 weeks worth of grammar at the end of the year.)  It's great for the kids to give weekly oral reports in front of the class and to practice the memory work at home so they can ace the review games in class.  I don't have to beg my kids to work on memory work.  The LOVE to memorize.  One evening when I was at a Missionary Dinner they persuaded Daddy to play the memory work CD for the whole year (he didn't realize they aren't supposed to "jump ahead" but are supposed to only learn the current week's grammar) because they wanted to learn more history songs.

So, this is why I'm glad that CC costs.  It does cost some money.  It does require agreement with the statement of faith and the students' signed statement of cooperation.  It does demand that you be involved because you are the primary teacher of your child.  You must either tutor or be observing in class and aiding the tutor at CC community each week; you can't just drop your kid off so you can have free time. 
However, the return on investment is amazing!

Anything worth having is worth investing in!

Would my students have spent so much time on their biome projects if they hadn't had to do a speech on them in class?  Probably not!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Goals for the Week

Last week's goals:

Spiritual Health

Finish reading the book of Romans.


Cook a special dinner and eat in candlelight with Josiah after the kids are in bed.
I was hoping it would happen on the weekend, but it didn't work out, hopefully this week it will!


Work on fall chore schedules.


Pull out my autumn decorations and decorate the house.


Mail a few packages off to friends who recently had babies.


Jog 1x, do Pilates once, and bike 20 miles.
Jogged once and biked 10 miles.

 Minimalist Living

De-clutter my sewing stuff and my vase cabinet.


Study hand motions for the Timeline Song and history chants.
This week's goals:
Spiritual Health

Read half of the book of Luke and ponder the things I've learned over the last several months of our pastor's sermons on Luke.

Cook a special dinner and eat in candlelight with Josiah after the kids are in bed.


Plan a "Movie Date" in the living room with them where we have special snacks and watch a fun family movie together.  This is something they keep asking to do and we've haven't gotten around to.


Put summer stuff in the shed (fan, coolers, swim toys, etc.)


Take a birthday gift to a friend having a birthday this week.

Jog 3x to get ready for a 5K coming up.

Minimalist Living

De-clutter my vase cabinet and take a load to the thrift store.


Prepare for a Senior Photo Shoot I'll be doing this month.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Classical Conversations Conference Part 4

The Stick and Sand Principle
(Sorry, I couldn't find a picture in my archives that contained BOTH sticks and sand, so you'll have to settle for just sand here.)  =)
Leigh Bortins, the founder of Classical Conversations and mom of 4 boys, writes,
"When teaching my own boys or when tutoring CC students, I always ask myself this question: If I only had a stick and sand, could I engage and effectively dialogue with my students about the concept I want to teach them?"
Hmmmmm.  Interesting.
I think Leigh is saying:
You don't need a lot of stuff to homeschool.
You don't need all of the latest tech gadgets.
You really only need a "stick and sand"  to instruct your child.
(Or in Abraham Lincoln's case, a wooden shovel, a piece of charcoal, and 6 books. )
Exactly 9 hours after arriving home from the CC conference, I joined my husband, kids, and in-laws for a camping trip to Yellowstone.  I decided to test out the "stick and sand" thing on my kids while we were camping.  Around the campfire, as the boys lit sticks on fire and Ali learned to whittle with a pocket knife I began drilling them with questions from their book "My First Book of Questions and Answers."  Then we practiced our 26 verses we had been memorizing over the summer.   I found out, to my surprise, that Ali had already learned all 26 verses, one for each letter of the alphabet, and could recite them perfectly.  Even though I didn't have any "school materials" along with me on our camping trip, we went over verses, math facts, theological questions, and talked about the wonders of nature all around us.  We sang together while Grandpa played his harmonica.   The boys could practice making their letters with a stick in the dirt.  It was amazing to me how much learning took place without the kids even realizing we were "doing school" orally.
  The Stick and Sand Principle really works!
I appreciate the fact that CC requires simplicity during our teaching time, because my family can't afford to have a lot of gadgets.  We still don't even have a cell phone!  Tutors are not supposed to use computers, power point, tablets, etc. in our class time each week.  We are not even supposed to bring "souped-up" tri-fold boards or lap books into the classroom that will intimidate other parents.  Tutors must model simplicity so that the parents can emulate that at home as they instruct their children.  Not everyone has the fancy gadgets or is talented with fancy school projects, so if we are using them in class, the parents will go home and feel like they can't do what we've done in class because they don't have the technology, talent, or motivation.  That is why we drill the kids using just a simple white board and dry erase marker, the modern version of the stick and sand!

It seems that everywhere you turn people are embracing or striving after the simple life.  It is refreshing as a homeschool mom to realize that you don't need a lot of "extras" to give your kids an outstanding education and for us to see that the schoolroom really can be simplified.   Now don't get me wrong, I do have a huge, organized homeschool closet that is the envy of many of my friends and my kids do love getting into the playdough, puzzles, craft box, markers, glue, books, etc.  so I'm not saying that it's wrong to have all of that "fun stuff."  It's nice to have toys, activities, and games to play with.  But we don't have to have shiny stuff to help our kids obtain grammar, learn to think and dialogue, and express themselves. 
 Lately, I've been reviewing memory work with the kids as we drive to swimming lessons in the van, and Daddy quizzes them at the dinner table.  The other day we went to the skate park nearby and were the only ones there because public schools were in session, so I whipped out my CC Cycle 2 flashcards and we worked on our schoolwork together in the park, with the kids biking and ziggling wildly around.  We often drive up to a nearby canyon to explore and hike with friends, and it's a snap to bring "school" with us, with or without our one textbook or our ring of flashcards, since Mommy is learning all of the grammar too and has it in her head, ready to sing it with the kids at a moment's notice!
I have about 1/4 of the school textbooks/workbooks/binders/supplies  to manage this year as opposed to last year.
I spend 1/2 of the time I used to on doing school, and my kids are retaining more.
I have given away a LOT of our homeschooling "extras" that we don't use.
Simplicity rocks!
Other great thoughts from Leigh: 
One of the concerns I raised in my book The Core is that students in the modern education system do not get to spend enough quality time with caring adults. I believe this system results in children forming attachments with peers who often steer them toward foolishness rather than with adults who steer them toward maturity and wisdom. In his book, The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future, Mark Bauerlein also highlights these issues (Chapter 5, “The Betrayal of the Mentors”).

In Classical Conversations, we want to use technology wisely so that it enhances our knowledge and skills instead of doing our thinking for us. On the community day, my desire is for tutors at all levels to spend the day modeling and discussing rather than showing media presentations. I am excited by the quality of the review resources that the Classical Conversations Multimedia team has created. These products—such as the Memory Work resource CD, the online tutorial, the IPad app—are wonderful tools for parents to use at home, but these digital tools are not designed for use in the classroom on the community day. Instead, the tutor builds a personal relationship with the students, engages, guides, and leads the community through ideas, questions, forms, examples, and illustrations.

Engaging in relational recitation in the younger years and moving into idea-centered, truth-seeking conversations in the older years is the life blood of the Classical Conversations community. Often, the use of technology gives our children (and sometimes their tutors and parents) the illusion that education should always be fun, quick, and easy. Even worse, they may come to believe that raw information equals knowledge, understanding, or wisdom. In contrast, students and teachers of the past knew that education was often slow and difficult. In earlier generations, students understood that a quality education involved wrestling with big ideas and agonizing over the right words to express the ideas well. They understood that true education results from hard work and occurs over a lifetime. Their labors often rewarded them with deep satisfaction when they conquered a difficult skill. I want to help our students regain the pride of a job well done through reading, writing, ciphering, and thinking.

To read Leigh Bortin's article in its' entirety, go here.

Did you miss my previous posts in this series? 
If so, go here to read about Freak-Out Homeschool Moms, How We Learn, and Modern Education vs. Classical Education.

Monday, September 9, 2013

3 Things Moms Can Do to Sabotage Their Lives This Year

1.  Take on too many commitments.
Say yes to any and every opportunity that comes your way.  When someone asks you to babysit their kids, teach a Sunday School class, or do them a favor, don't consider how it might affect your schedule or your family.  Join a gym, a couple of Bible studies, and a Mom's Playgroup and answer the phone every single time it rings.  Get involved with lots of ministries, home business opportunities, lots of friends, and let your kids be in several extracurricular activities each.  If you homeschool, try to do every craft project mentioned in your teacher's manual and read every book that literature experts recommend for your child's age bracket.  Attend every playdate, home sales party, Girl's Night, and event you are invited to.
On the other hand....if you want to experience a smooth and peaceful day with your children.... careful with your time.
Only you and your spouse know how much is too much for you.  We all have different abilities and personalities,so you will have to determine how many activities and commitments you can have in your week.  In our rushed society, it's all too easy to get over-committed, whether it's with volunteer work, home businesses, playdates, sports and kid's activities, church committments, etc.  Moms often try to do too much because they earnestly want their children to have as many enriching opportunities as possible.  It's freeing to say "No" to things that are not in line with your top priorities.
2.  Don't have a food plan.
What's for dinner tonight?  Stand at the fridge at 5pm, banging your head on the door while wishing there was a Dinner Fairy whom you could summon daily.  Order pizza....again.  Dig random, weird, ice-crystal-covered things out of the freezer and try to throw them together and pass it off to picky kids as an edible casserole.  Sigh everytime the kids ask for another snack and tell them they can chew on some old celery that's hiding in the back drawer of the fridge.  Start your day frustrated because you forgot you were out of milk and now you aren't sure what to make the kids for breakfast.  Go the store every day or so, with cranky kids in tow and purchase whatever sounds good.  Hit up the fast food drive-throughs routinely and blow your grocery budget.  Feed the kids Cheerios for supper.
On the other hand...if you like your hair and don't want to end up pulling it all out.....
...plan ahead for meals and snacks. 
I know it's difficult to juggle all of the responsibilities that come with running a home and being a wife and mother.  It's a lot of work to plan menus, stick to your budget, and cook healthy meals.  But, not having a plan only sets you up for disaster, because like it or not, kids have to eat.....every day.....several times a day.  Having a plan allows you to shop less and feel confident that when dinnertime rolls around, you know what you are having and you have the ingredients on hand to make it.  Some moms like to plan meal ideas in their head, others use paper or their phone, and some just buy their favorite items in bulk and keep a well-stocked food supply so they can "wing-it" knowing they have plenty of ingredients on hand to make a healthy meal each day.  However you do it, the point is that you have some kind of a plan in place so you aren't caught off guard by the inevitability of your family's hunger.
3.  Don't de-clutter regularly.
Refuse to get rid of anything because it all holds sentimental value.  Keep every birthday gift your children have ever gotten.  Let your kids go yard-saling and thrift-shopping with you.  Don't get rid of toys, dress-ups, craft materials, etc. because after all, you might need those someday!  Only go through the kids' toys and clothing once or twice a year.  Let them keep beading kits in their rooms and take legos outside.  Make sure they have at least 20 outfits each in their closets.  Don't limit the number of books in your home, after all books are educational...the more the better!
On the other hand...if you value your sanity and don't want to end up on Hoarders someday....
...have less stuff.
I absolutely love the blog Becoming Minimalist.  I have gained so much insight from reading Joshua's articles and have been inspired to continually pare down our family's possessions.  When we went and stayed in a friend's condo for a few days this spring on vacation I was stunned at how little housework there was to do when we had a small place, only 3 outfits each, one dish/cup per person, and just a few toys.  Homeschooled kids are in the house all day long, and that means EXTRA mess.  Having less means less to clean up and maintain.  The more you have, the more you have to manage.  My kids know that they have fewer chores when they have fewer toys so they often beg me to put most of the toys away in the shed so they have less work each day.  Thanks to grandparents, hand-me-down bags, birthdays, Christmas, carnival goodies, VBS prizes, Happy Meals, birthday party favor bags, and the kids buying toys with their own earned money, I need to ROUTINELY work on de-cluttering.  A one-time purge just won't cut it.  Going through the house weekly or monthly and finding things to throw in the Yard Sale or Thrift Store box makes my life much easier.
While these three things aren't the only things moms can do to make life easier, they are a good place to start.  Guarding your time, planning your meals, and de-cluttering your stuff will go a long way toward helping you soar as a mom!


Goals for the Week

Once or twice a week we visit a nearby canyon to play in the river and hang out with friends.
Last Week's Goals:
Spiritual Health
Finish reading the book of Romans.

 Play Skip-Bo with Josiah one evening.

Figure out math lessons for the kids.
After last week's practice run, I realized we need to change up our math.
We're going to try oral math lessons led by me, and we're also going to try Life of Fred math books.
Update:  LOVE Life of Fred books so far!

Shampoo the living room carpet.

Take "Back to School" pics of my kids and my friends' kids.

Jog 1x and bike 20 miles.
Jogged once, biked 10 miles, and went on another bike ride pulling kids.

Minimalist Living
Put all the boys' things in their room in the shed or out of reach.
After watching them procrastinate for 7 hours, refusing to work on their room even though it meant skipping a few meals, to clean up a room that would have taken 10 minutes to clean had they been motivated, I decided they aren't capable of having books, toys, legos, etc. in their room.

Do a practice run of Week #1's Classical Conversations lessons so I'm ready to tutor next week when it starts.
Goals for this week:
Spiritual Health

Finish reading the book of Romans.

Cook a special dinner and eat in candlelight with Josiah after the kids are in bed.


Work on fall chore schedules.


Pull out my autumn decorations and decorate the house.


Mail a few packages off to friends who recently had babies.

Jog 1x, do Pilates once, and bike 20 miles.

Minimalist Living

De-clutter my sewing stuff and my vase cabinet.


Study hand motions for the Timeline Song and history chants.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Fun Back-to-School Pics

My friends and I love to go hang out in the nearby canyon with our 12 kids. 
I thought it would be fun to do some Back-to-School pics with our gang, and thanks to my fellow moms' cute props, they turned out great!
William, the historian, who will no doubt be president someday!

Heidi, the delightful dancer.

Benny, the kind-hearted warrior.

Abigail, the energetic and funny baby-of-the-family!


Dirty little toes.
Justus, the cheerful adventurer.

Jeremiah, the curious naturalist.


Dylan, the darling explorer.

Diana, the quiet and careful animal whisperer.

Kevin, the fun-loving goofball!

Alathia, the artistic leader.


Cheyanne, the creative photographer.

Katrielle, the spoiled lil' peanut of the family.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Classical Conversations Conference Part 3

For the past few weeks I've been writing a weekly post (just me being rhetorical!) about what I learned at the recent CC conference in Casper.
Today's post is on what makes classical education different from modern education.
I'm not trying to criticize those who do things differently than I do, or to say that teachers in public schools don't teach well.  Most teachers out there are pouring themselves out and spending countless hours working to instruct kids and invest in them.  You may disagree with me, and that's okay!  I'm just sharing information from the conference that I found to be interesting.
Modern education has the student at the center, with the various fields of study (subjects) being taught separately.

A poor Christian education mimics the modern educational model exactly, except that Bible is thrown in as an additional subject.

A good Christian education will have God at the center, rather than the student, and will showcase God's role in each of the subjects.
A great Christian education will have God at the center and show not only what God's role is in each of the subjects but will also teach how we can know more of God from each of these subjects.

A classical Christian education will have God at the center, and will study God's supremacy in each study, as well as discovering more of God through that art, and will show the unity of each subject, both with God and with all other subjects.
(I realize my pic only shows 4 studies, that was just to make my drawing simpler, not because classical education skips out on the other areas of study!)
This is THE MISSING LINK for me personally regarding education! 
All of my life this lack of interconnectedness has been an irritation, and I'm finally having an epiphany about the unity of all subjects!

Most of us were trained to cram for the test, pass it, and then dump the info we had studied.  We knew how to jump through the hoops at our respective schools to pass the class, get the grade, get the transcripts, get into the college to get the job, etc.  But if you ask most High School Seniors to tell you about the 8 rules of speech, who Charlemagne was, how to conjugate a verb, or to give a discourse on whether or not truth is relative, most couldn't do it.  We have a country full of kids who can regurgitate info in their short-term memory on demand, but who can't think for themselves or teach others. 

God designed us to find harmony.  When we find harmony (whether that is learning to play a beautiful piece of music, building something with wood, doing math calculations, recognizing constellations, cleaning up our kitchen, sewing a new dress, writing a lovely essay, preparing a logical argument, figuring out a puzzle, excelling in a sport, writing a blog post explaining the methods of education, etc. etc. etc.) we are acting like God.  We were made in His image, and therefore, we were made to calculate and create!

Even as Christians, sometimes we want the "easy" answers.  One example given by our speaker, Andy, would be the Life Application Study Bible.  We don't want to discover things for ourselves, research, look things up, etc.  We want to be spoon-fed the answers.  "Oh, that's what that Bible passage means and that's what I should take from it.  Okay!"
We are conditioned to expect a practical sermon, rather than a normative one.  Our pastor consistently preaches normatively, but it has been hard for many people in our congregation to get used to because most have had years and years and even several decades of practical teaching.  This is not to say there is never life application in normative teaching, rather, you have to work harder, and actually think about what God's Word is saying instead of just being "spoon-fed" by the pastor each week and told to do these 3 steps to be a better person, etc. etc.

Recently a friend of mine was sharing with me how her 12 year-old granddaughter is so frustrated in public Jr. High school. She says, "Nothing makes sense, nothing is related to anything else, and I just don't understand why I have to sit there and learn this irrelevant information."

A classic case of D.I.
Disharmony irritation.
Perhaps some kids get so used to the way things are that they don't notice the irritation anymore.  It's like wearing an itchy wool sweater--eventually you won't notice the discomfort if you wear it daily.
But for this young girl, and for myself, the discomfort is noticeable and hard to ignore.
Disharmony has been irritating to me both as a student and as a teacher of my own children.
And let's face it, as parents, when our kids act disharmoniously with each other, doesn't it drive us absolutely out of our minds?  We crave harmony, in our world, in our homes, in our churches, in our communities, and especially in our studies.  If you don't have the tools of learning, namely, a foundation in the Truth, then when you set out to become educated you do more than just do harm!  (See Dante's quote in the picture above).  You can leave God out of your life and go to the best schools in the world, but you will not find harmony in education, research, or study without Him at the center.  As Augustine said, "Our hearts are restless until they rest in Him."
Because of The Fall, and our subsequent human condition, we are all "brain damaged."  Some have more damage than others, and we all have it in different areas, but as we find harmony, or in other words, "get educated" we repair the damage.
So, seek today to find harmony, and as a result you will discover more of God and make more of Him known to others.  When your child asks you, "Why do I have to do math?"  remind her that math relates to harmonics (another term for music) and that music is just numbers moving, just as astronomy is shapes moving.  When your child complains about having to research, remind him that "The Greeks studied astronomy not only for naviagtion but for interest in TRUTH, WISDOM, and VIRTUE."  Tell him that knowing the star patterns, or his math facts, or how to write in cursive, makes him a better person. 
"A mind that has studied the stars is conditioned to see things that cannot be seen any other way...."
Did you miss the first couple of posts in my series?
Part 1  Freak-Out Homeschool Moms
Part 2  The Way We Learn

Monday, September 2, 2013


My friend Amanda is so thoughtful. 
She gave these little gift bags to all of her homeschool mom friends.

The 3 verses she typed out are good ones to have handy when homeschooling!

This summer, at the 5 Day Club Picnic we celebrated 3 years of friendship.  We met at the 5 Day Club Picnic back when we were both pregnant with our fourth babies.

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