Archive for the ‘Home School’ Category
This is the time of year that we begin to think about winding things down. We’ve worked very hard this school year to get things done. There are many times that I wonder if we’re accomplishing anything. It seems like we’re always behind, always too busy, always trying to catch up. I thought I would go back and look at what I planned for us to do this school year and compare it to what we’ve actually done. Here’s a link to the post I shared our plans on: School Schedule 2012-2013.
The first thing I listed on that post was who my students were. The 3 listed are my own children and they have each had a birthday so are all now a year older. Plus, we invited a brother and sister over to join us in part of our school day 4 days a week. They are 14 and 10.
The next thing on the list was our outside activities. They have been consistent the whole year. Over the next few weeks, they are all coming to an end one activity at a time. These activities are a lot of fun and very beneficial to the kids but I will be relieved when they are done for the year.
Most of our together time stayed consistent. We read quite a bit together. In fact, we read about 2 hours everyday. The following is a list of what we have finished reading or are almost finished reading:
The Bronze Bow
The Great Turkey Walk
Burgess’ Bird Book
Charlotte Mason’s Ourselves
Jean Fritz’ 100 Years Around The World
Apologia’s Flying Creatures
Morley’s The Bee People
A Cricket In Times Square
Edith Nesbitt’s GrammarLand
Genesis, Exodus, Joshua and Judges
In co-op the kids read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and The Taming of the Shrew and about half of Augustus Caesar’s World.
All of these readings were done orally. The kids read books on their own that I won’t take the time to list here. I will share a reward system that was revived after being dormant for many years. My 11 year old found out that I had, at one time, paid my older boys a penny a page if they read a book and wrote a book report about it. Being an avid reader and one not afraid of writing, he got busy. To keep up with the times, I doubled the amount to 2 cents a page. I don’t know how much he raked in this year but he has felt pretty good about having a little cash in his pocket. He recently helped his little brother, who is a very reluctant reader, write a couple of book reports for the Magic Treehouse books he has read. Now he is very highly motivated to read. I’m not usually big on rewards like this but it has paid off quite well.
On the individual schedules for the kids, I have listed Greek. The two younger ones sort of let that slide but Timothy has done pretty well with it. Hopefully next year we can get it going again. I’m not too concerned because they did very well with their Latin class in co-op.
We changed our approach to Language arts for the younger two. I discovered Edith Nesbitt’s Grammarland and just had to read it to all the kids except Timothy. Since it went so well with it, we started Winston Grammar. It’s been a little tough for the younger ones but I think all have learned something from it. We also added Spelling Power for the 4 younger ones. They all seem to enjoy it and I have already seen improvement in my youngest’s spelling.
Bible memorization has progressed well. We have been using Bob Waldron’s 17 periods of the Bible — reading and memorizing from each period, studying each period for a month. We finished up the Judges this week.
Early in the year, I realized I could help the 14 year old with his reading. He was willing to do the scripture reading during our worship services on Sunday evening but needed a little practice. I started by having him read the following Sunday’s passage to me. There was immediate improvement. My 11 year old had not started reading in front of the congregation yet but he wanted to get involved in this reading time at the house so he joined in and before long, the two younger ones decided they wanted to do it as well. Each day, each child reads the passage aloud for the following Sunday evening’s scripture reading. All four of them have improved in their reading skills.
One of the issues the 14 year old was having was reading the punctuation. He was pretty much ignoring it. Once I got him to pay attention to the punctuation, his reading improved very much. We’ve practiced reading slower so those in the back of the auditorium can understand. We’ve talked about not swaying back and forth and avoiding other distracting habits. An added benefit is that they hear the passage read 16 times — each child reading the passage four days a week. They have become very familiar with the passages. I don’t remember where we started but they read Matthew 25:14-30 this week.
Piano lessons were difficult to get to at times. Maybe if I paid myself I’d make sure they got their lessons. Even though they didn’t have lessons as consistently as my private students get, they both (Jonathan and Benjamin) improved their piano skills. They are also playing in my orchestra (one on viola, the other on cello). The two friends that come to the house play violin in the orchestra as well so they are all getting plenty of music.
The one subject I’m disappointed in is math. We’ve done better as the year has progressed but it was a little rocky getting started. With math, consistency is key and the more consistent we’ve been the easier it has been for them. I plan on continuing math throughout the summer.
Looking at it all written down, I’m pleased with our progress this year. I need to see to it they do more writing, improve their handwriting skills and be more consistent with math and piano. Having the friends join us for part of the day has been challenging but has kept us on target with our reading. I think we have all benefited from the arrangement.
The reasons have changed through the years. Originally, I didn’t want to send my sweet little 5 year old to the elementary school across the street because they found a kid with a knife. Now, I’m thankful for that kid. I don’t know him or anything about him but he propelled Danny and I into a decision that has altered our life dramatically from what it was going to be.
Recently, a veteran home school mom wrote about the reasons she home schooled her kids and why others should as well. This pretty well sums up why we are still home schooling 21 years after that little boy carried a knife to school. I want my children to spend their days in the counsel of the godly, the path of the righteous and the seat of the respectful. I want them to delight in God’s Word so their faith will be as strong as a big, healthy, productive tree.
Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
Tags: Psalm 1
My nine year old is sitting on the couch frustrated and near tears. Why? Because he doesn’t understand his math. He’s good at math. Not a genius but he understands the concepts and can figure out most problems without too much trauma. Why doesn’t he understand it today? Because it’s been 3 days since he’s seen his math book. Don’t misunderstand me here. We haven’t been goofing off for 3 days. We’ve been doing some pretty intensive school. Just not math. That’s partly his fault. He knew that he had to do his problem set (yes, we use Saxon) before this morning. It’s partly my fault. I didn’t protect his spare time and ensure that he had sufficient time to get his work finished. In other words, we were busy. So, today, he sits on the couch, fretting about not remembering this or that.
Why am I telling you this? Because this is one way that we set our children up for failure. The message he is getting loud and clear this morning is that he is a failure. He can’t understand math. I know very well he can understand it and he can do it. If we had diligently worked a little each day, he would be having no trouble with his math this morning.
I see this in a lot of other areas of raising children. I see it amongst my orchestra students. I have seen it on the baseball field and in Cub Scouts. I see it in my Bible class. Children are encouraged to participate in an activity or learn a new skill while at the same time being set up for failure by their parents.
No one can learn to play an instrument if they don’t attend their classes/lessons and if they don’t practice. They can’t attend their classes/lessons if their parents don’t make it a priority to get them there. They can’t practice if their instrument is missing a string or is out of tune or they don’t have the music. Children don’t realize what the problem is, they just know that when they go to their orchestra class, all the other kids can play the song but they can’t. It must mean that they are no good at playing a violin.
The same thing goes for baseball or Cub Scouts or whatever activity the child participates in. Without the proper tools they can not improve. Without attending the practices, classes, meetings, etc, they will fall behind. They rationalize that they are no good at this activity instead of realizing that it is because they have not been given the opportunity and tools they need to succeed.
This goes for Bible class (and any Bible study) as well. If students aren’t encouraged to read their Bibles, to participate in family Bible readings, to discuss the Bible and God’s will at home, they will not be prepared for discussion in a more formal setting such as a Bible class. They will see their peers participating in the discussion, and not knowing the Bible story being discussed, they feel like a failure. They feel that this Bible must not be something for them.
What’s a parent to do? It’s not easy but we have to see to it that they have what it takes to succeed. I’m not talking about buying the most expensive baseball bat or violin. I’m talking about providing proper tools. Making sure they attend all the classes/practices/rehearsals that the activity requires. Making sure that they practice and study at home. Sometimes, this requires sacrifice on our part. It may mean that we have to rearrange our schedule or that we’ll have to postpone buying something we want.
As I’ve been writing this, my nine year old has cheered up a little. He got past those dreaded first few problems of the lesson (those of you who do Saxon know how difficult the first 4 or 5 problems can be) and is working smoothly on the rest. What have I learned? We need to be more consistent. He’s good at math. If he has too many more days like this, he’ll think that math is not for him. I don’t want to set him up for failure.
Our family is musical. There is always some instrument being practiced, some rehearsal to go to, some composition being worked on, even some instrument being made. It makes for a pretty noisy house at times and sometimes that noise isn’t all that pretty. That’s okay, because the end result is usually beautiful.
My older boys were interested in music but they also were very interested in baseball. I found it interesting that the coach’s kid always seemed to be the best player on the team. In the early days, I figured it was because the coach gave preference to his child. After watching many coaches and their kids, I realized that was not usually the case. The coach’s kid was just very good at baseball. Was it in their genes? Was it because the coach forced his son to practice all the time? What made him better than the other kids?
The answer to those questions is the same answer as to how my kids are so musical. The coach loved baseball. The coach watched baseball. The coach played baseball. The coach talked about baseball. The coach shared all of this with his son at an early age. Baseball became part of his life. He wasn’t forced into it. He just grew up with it. He understood the game. He saw good players play. He loved the game because his dad loved the game.
It’s the same with any activity a father/mother shares with his/her son/daughter. A dad that is a big hunter is going to have kids that love hunting. A mother that loves to cook will have kids that learn to be great cooks. A parent that loves to read will have a strong reader and so on. This doesn’t just happen. A parent that loves to read will not have a strong reader unless he shares his love of reading with his child. He must teach his child to read. He must read to his child. His child must see him reading for his own enjoyment.
So how does this apply to my children and music? My kids are surrounded by music from an early age. Not only have they heard me play the violin/piano, they have heard my students during their private lessons. I have tried to expose them to music of all genres when possible. Just like the baseball coach, we talk about and play music together. It happens naturally.
What can a parent do to encourage a love of music with their own children? Especially if music is not their thing? Some things can be done at a very early age. Things that you might not think would help with musical ability but I think instills a sense of rhythm and offers ear training when the baby is very small. Both of these skills are so important when learning to sing or to play an instrument. Learning it at an early age makes it all so much easier when the time comes to actually put an instrument in their hands.
Here are 3 things I have done with my children:
Pat. The other night, I was holding a friend’s baby during a rehearsal. He was about 4 months old. I did with him what I always did with all my own boys. I held him up on my shoulder and patted his bottom. Not just any old patting but patting his bottom with the beat of the music. Easy enough to do and can be done anytime there is music around. You can even do it while singing to your baby.
Sing. That brings me to the second thing. Sing to your baby. It doesn’t matter what you sing. Contrary to popular belief, there is no magic in Mozart. Just sing. Make up songs. Sing folk songs and lullabies. Sing songs you grew up with. Pat his little bottom in time with what you’re singing. Not a singer? Listen to a CD with your baby. Sing along. I believe everyone can improve their singing skills with practice.
Listen. Listen to great music. Invest in some of the wonderful CDs that are available. Play one when your baby is going to sleep. Play them in the car. Listen to great music as often as possible. You can be the judge of what great music is. Hymns, folk songs, classical music, golden oldies, country/western. All of it has its place and all of it can be enjoyed by you and your child. As both of you are listening, your sense of rhythm is being developed, your ear is being trained, your taste for beautiful music is maturing.
None of these suggestions are all that difficult. Of course, that’s what the baseball coach said to us when he tried to encourage us to work with our boys at home on their baseball skills. I realize it may come easier to me to sing spontaneously than to someone who has not done much singing but I encourage you to give it a try. As your child gets older, take him out to concerts and let him see the performers in action. Colleges and Universities that have music programs have lots and lots of opportunities for you to share these experiences with your child. Check out the one nearest you and make the effort to attend a couple this semester. Try a percussion concert or a tuba recital. Introduce your child to all kinds of instruments and all kinds of music.
What about formal music education? I am frequently asked what age to start. I know lots of people start their little ones as young as 3 playing the violin. I don’t recommend it. I think 3 year olds need to be playing not practicing. If you want to get a child that young involved in a music program, choose one of the mommy and me type programs that involve mom and child doing fun music activities in a group setting. I recommend starting on the piano at or around age 7. Your child may be able to handle private piano lessons at an earlier age but if not, don’t worry about it. I like my private students to be able to sit for a 30 minute lesson and remember what they learned once they get home. If they can’t do this, they may not be ready for private lessons yet. After 2 or 3 years on the piano, if you would like for them to play the violin or another instrument, that would be great.
Why piano first? 1) Piano, although not an easy instrument to play at the higher levels, is relatively easy to learn as a beginner. You can be assured that if you press down the correct key, it will be the correct note. No guessing. This will give your child’s ear the chance to learn how the notes will sound. 2) A piano student learns to read music on both the bass and treble clefs. Once reading these clefs have been mastered, picking any instrument (except maybe the viola) will be much easier. 3) Piano students tend to learn more music theory than, partly because they are learning both clefs, than a student learning the violin or cello. Everything is easier to visualize on the piano. It’s easy to see a scale and to understand what a half step and whole step looks like.
To sum it up? Think like a baseball coach — love music, listen to music, play/sing music, talk about music, go to music performances. Your child can’t help but be interested in something that you’re interested in.
Update added 10/12/12: After writing this, I discovered a website with some wonderful Youtube videos to help get you started encouraging your children in music and possibly even starting on the violin yourself. Check out Heather Broadbent’s video: Music Games For Toddlers
It has begun. After a brief but wonderful August break, we have hit the books again. We began our school year on Labor Day. I thought it fitting that we labor on Labor Day. This starts our 21st year of home schooling. It doesn’t matter how many years we do this, every year brings new excitement, new challenges and new adventures. Even though the school room looks the same and the teacher is the same and the students are the same, the whole family gets excited to start a new year.
What’s new this year?
- We’re attempting a more Charlotte Mason approach to our home schooling. Not 100% CM but leaning more that direction.
- Although I have 3 students, my 16 year old is being more independent in his studies this year. The plan is for us to work together on only one subject — Advanced Math. He will also join us for part of our reading (Bible and Poetry).
- We are experimenting with adding a couple more students to part of our day. More about this later.
- Timothy opted out of co-op and my string orchestra. He will be teaching private violin and cello lessons during this time.
What has stayed the same?
- Timothy still spends most of Monday at SFA for his cello lesson, PWYO rehearsal and Orchestra of the Pines rehearsal.
- Jonathan and Benjamin and I spend Tuesday afternoon at our Charlotte Mason co-op. This year, I am teaching Latin to 2 different levels of students and the music class I’ve taught for the past 3 years.
- The East Texas Home School String Orchestra still rehearses at the Huntington Housing Authority on Wednesday afternoons. This year we have 15 in the beginning orchestra. There are nine or ten in the other 2 orchestras.
- Danny and Timothy will still be spending Thursday afternoons at Mr Morgan’s to learn how to make instruments. Danny is making me a violin and Timothy is still working on his cello.
- I will still be teaching private lessons on Thursday afternoon. I have 8 students this year.
What about our curriculum?
- Timothy is using Notgrass’ Government and Economics, Writing Strands Level 6 and 7, Apologia’s Physics and Saxon Adv Math.
- Jonathan is using Saxon 76, LLATL Tan Book, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek!,
- Benjamin is using Saxon 54, Handwriting Without Tears, Evan-moor’s Spelling.
- Jonathan and Benjamin are studying birds with Burgess’ Bird Book and Apologia’s Flying Creatures, David McCauley’s City, Jean Fritz’ 100 Years Around The World, Genevieve Foster’s World of Christopher Columbus.
- They are also doing a 2 year study of the Bible based on Bob Waldron’s 17 periods of the Bible.
- They have started a history timeline book similar to The Book of Centuries but with my own design.
- In co-op, they are using (and I’m teaching) Latin’s Not So Tough! and reading Augustus Caesar’s World. They are reading Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, learning various handicrafts, poetry, art appreciation, music appreciation, sight singing as well as hymns/patriotic songs/folk songs.
What about those 2 extra kids?
A friend and sister in Christ is not only raising her grandchildren, she is home schooling them. Her plate is very full. Her mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s and is living with them. To most people, that would be a full-time job in itself but she is willingly and cheerfully taking care of generations on either side of her. She is, in my eyes, a super woman.
I have offered to help her with some of the home schooling. We are giving it a try this week. It’s working great on my end. The kids are well behaved and attentive to what we’re doing. The plan is for them to stay about an hour and participate in our Bible studies, as well as the history and science studies mentioned above. Hopefully this arrangement can continue but with the gas prices as high as they are, it is going to be a challenge. This family lives pretty far out in the country.
What is the saying? No good deed goes unrewarded? I began to see an unexpected benefit of having these two kids be part of our school day. As I mentioned above, they live out in the country. My boys are being raised by their citified parents. We just don’t do as much outdoors as I would like for us to. My extra students are introducing my indoor boys to the world of outdoors. They were catching lizards and frogs today and my 11 year was having the time of his life. So, while their grandmother and I fine tune the arrangement, all 4 of the kids are benefiting already.
Our new school year is off to a good start. While May seems a long way off, I know it will be here before I know it. I hope to make everyday count so when I look back at our year I can say that we had a successful year.
It’s about that time of again. Time to start a new school year. This year, my youngest is 4th grade. That means I don’t have any little bitties around anymore. It’s kind of sad but, I have to admit, things are getting easier.
As of this moment, this is my plan. I reserve the right to change my mind at any moment and tweak it along the way.
- Timothy — 16 year old
- Jonathan — 11 year old
- Benjamin — 9 year old
Our Outside Activity Schedule:
- Monday — Timothy’s cello lesson, Piney Woods Youth Orchestra rehearsal, Orchestra of the Pines rehearsal 2:30-10:00
- Tuesday — Charlotte Mason Co-op 1:00-5:00
- Wednesday — East Texas Home School String Orchestra 12:30-5:00; Timothy teaches lessons from 12:45-2:45
- Thursday — My private lessons 2:00-5:30; Timothy works with Mr Morgan on cello 1:30-4:30
- Friday — Free
- Bible Reading — We’ll read the assigned reading for Bible class
- Poetry — One poem a day
- Ourselves — Charlotte Mason’s Vol 3
Jonathan and Benjamin:
- Monday — Burgess’ Bird Book and Apologia’s Flying Creatures
- Tuesday — David Macaulay’s Castle or Cathedral
- Wednesday — World of Christopher Columbus by Genevieve Foster
- Thursday — 100 Years Around the World by Jean Fritz
- Friday — Bronze Bow (to start with)
Jonathan and Benjamin will be doing a survey of the Bible based on Bob Waldron’s 17 periods of the Bible. I’m still working on the details so I don’t know how often we will be doing it a week.
They will also be starting a Book of Centuries that I’m designing myself. I want them to add to it once a week, probably on Thursday. It might be a good project for them to work on during my private lessons.
- Saxon 76 — 2 lessons on Monday, 2 lessons on Thursday
- LLATL Tan — Assign work at beginning of week to be worked on independently
- Andrew Teach Me Some Greek — level 2
- Piano (lesson on Friday), Violin, Viola practice
- Latin (for co-op)
- Saxon 54 — 1 lesson on Monday, 1 Lesson on Wednesday
- Reading — Book that we agree on
- Andrew Teach Me Some Greek — Finish level 1 then on to level 2
- Language Arts — ???
- Piano (lesson on Friday), Cello practice
- Latin (for co-op)
- Saxon Adv Math — 2 lessons on Tuesday, 2 lessons on Friday
- Notgrass Government and Economics
- Andrew Teach Me Some Greek — start level 2
- Apologia’s Physics
- Writing Strands Level 6
Charlotte Mason Co-op:
- 1:00-1:45 Shakespeare (Julius Caesar)/Latin’s Not So Tough Level 2
- 1:45-2:30 Latin’s Not So Tough Level 3/Shakespeare (Julius Caesar)
- 2:30-3:00 Tea Time/Etiquette/Poetry/Art Appreciation
- 3:00-3:30 Free Time
- 3:30-4:15 Handicrafts (woodworking and/or crochet)
- 4:15-5:00 Music — Claude Debussy (music appreciation), Hymns, Folk Songs, Patriotic Songs, Shaped Notes, Sight Singing, Music Theory
Once a month we will have a nature study field trip instead of regular co-op classes.
Parents who choose to home school their children can sometimes be a little over-protective. I know this because I am one of them. It is not a bad thing. There are many children out there that could benefit from more protection from their parents. Whether it’s guarding every morsel they put in their mouth, every word they read, every person they meet, we want to make sure our children are protected from the bad germs, chemicals, behaviors, evil thoughts, and humanistic teachings that the world tries to lure them (and us) toward. It can be exhausting. It is a relief to know that there are plenty of parents out there wanting the same thing for their children so, surely, when we are among those of like passions, we can relax a little and let our guard down.
Never let your guard down. Peter tells us: Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) While it will not affect your child’s eternal destination if he doesn’t sanitize his hands before he eats the preservative laden snack his friend shares with him, it can be a serious matter when your child is introduced to teachings that are not of God.
Curriculum labeled “Christian”, a book that is written by a trusted author, a class taught by someone with good morals — even claiming to be a Christian. All of these seem harmless. Any parent should be able to rely on others at some point to help them make decisions about raising their child, right? As Peter said, “Be alert…” The devil is prowling around. He’s waiting for that weak link in your armor. He’s looking for the moment that you relax and let your guard down. Then, he will attack as a lion seeks out his prey. What a vivid picture Peter gives to warn us about the dangers of letting our guard down.
What are parents to do? There aren’t enough hours in the day to fully protect our children from every danger. This is where parenting can be difficult. There are things we can do but they all take time and effort on our part. They require us to do our homework. As the old saying goes: look before you leap.
I will assume the obvious– that any parent reading this believes in God, prayer and the Bible. There are some other things that every parent can do. Here are some suggestions to help the God fearing parent protect his/her child:
Become informed: Don’t expect someone else to do your thinking for you. These are your children — your gifts handed to you by God — you must become informed about every aspect of raising them. Whatever you get your children involved in — become informed about it. Don’t be surprised about the costs involved, the time commitment involved. Consider if this activity, curriculum, book, etc will fit into your family’s lifestyle and follows God’s plan. Ask yourself: Will this help my child serve God? Will it hinder my child’s service to God?
Never assume someone knows more than you do: A lot of people talk a lot about their knowledge and ideas. Just because someone is loudest, does not mean they are smartest.
Ask questions: Before you buy that curriculum, read that book or sign up for that class, ask questions. Lots of them. You need to know what the agenda is. Everyone has an agenda. The publisher has an agenda. The author has an agenda. The teacher has an agenda. Find out what that is and make sure that it agrees with what you read in the Bible.
Get involved: God-fearing parents who send their children to public school understand this. You can’t just drop them off at the door and expect things to go well. Get involved so you can see for yourself what is going on, what is being taught. Read the book before you hand it to your child or read it to your child. If your child is interested in 4-H or Scouts or a co-op or even my orchestra, make sure that the adult in charge is willing to have you there. If not, look somewhere else for some other activity. You may not have to be there each and every time but the adult in charge should welcome you to stay and observe or even get involved at anytime.
Surround yourself with successful people: This has long been the advice on how to succeed in life. Whatever you want to succeed in, find people that have your same values and people that have already succeeded in doing what you are striving to do. Find someone whose grown children are like what you would like your children to be. Seek their advice, listen to their admonitions.
Teach children the truth: Truth is found within God’s word. Everything else must be suspect. Surround your child with God’s word. Not a watered down version of God’s word. Not just a portion of God’s word. Make sure that your child knows that God is real, that His word is inspired by Him, that we will be judged by His word and eventually be rewarded with eternity in Heaven or punished with eternity in Hell. Give your child the confidence in God’s word that will enable him to eventually see through the false teachings and watered down messages that some men like to tickle our ears with.
Don’t expect the child to do the parent’s work: Even if your child is well grounded in the Bible and has a strong faith in God, he does not have the experience and wisdom to discern where the devil might be lurking. A thought laid out in a book or a word said by an adult may seem fine on the surface but after comparing it with the Word of God may be discovered to be false teaching. Children do not have the experience or the wisdom necessary to discern these false teachings sprinkled amongst truth. That’s your job.
While this article is directed mainly to home school parents, it is true for parents that choose other methods to educate their children. Our love for our children and our desire to please God does not change just because of our education choice. We all must never let our guard down.
It can’t be said enough: Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
Here’s how it reads: A school-age child residing in the State of Texas who is being educated in a bona fide manner by the parents…
That’s the first phrase in the ruling by Judge Murray as he describes the rights and responsibilities of home school parents in Texas.
As a Texan, I have read this ruling many times. I can spout off the main points to new home schoolers quite easily. There is not much required of us. We are to teach grammar, reading, spelling, math and good citizenship. While good citizenship can leave you scratching your head, the other required subjects are pretty self-explanatory.
But what about this phrase “bona fide manner”? Further explanation on THSC’s website states — “not a sham”. This simple phrase describes the difficult part of home schooling. It puts the responsibility of the quality of our children’s education squarely on the parents’ shoulders. We can’t blame someone else for the quality of our “school”. It is all up to us — individually.
I have wondered in the past why this phrase was included in the ruling. As I have seen many home schoolers go about educating their children, I have been sadly surprised by the lack of attention to this phrase by some people. Educating children is hard work. While we have been given lots of freedom to educate our children the way we see fit, we have a huge responsibility to see to it that it actually gets done. We must be consistent and diligent to ensure our children are not slighted. In our determination to ensure our parental rights are not hampered we must not forget that our children are totally dependent on us to educate them.
I’m all for having a relaxed home school, taking advantage of opportunities to make memories with our children through spontaneous fun days and including our children in non-academic activities such as taking care of the sick and elderly but we must put the education of our children high on our priority list. If we find that we are having trouble getting school done with our kids, we need to step back and figure out why. We need to adjust our schedules, drop outside activities, and determine that we will home school in a bona fide manner.
What do I mean by adjust our schedules? It could be something as simple as getting everyone to bed at a reasonable time so everyone (mom included) is rested in the morning. It could mean that a definite start time for formal schooling is established so that it will get done every day. It could mean that the teaching parent must give up a hobby or a job or a desire to shop or a desire to play computer games. Let’s get serious about what is really taking up our time and be honest enough to make the changes necessary.
Drop outside activities? Isn’t this one of the joys of home schooling? Co-ops, field trips, clubs, lessons, sports, jobs, etc. These are all good things that we want our kids to participate in. How could they hinder our home school? We can have our kids involved in so many activities that there is not enough time for them do the work necessary to learn basic skills. Our kids can be so over-scheduled that they don’t have the time to quiet their minds and think on the things they are learning. They can be involved in so many “adult directed” activities that they never learn to be a self-motivated learner or to think for themselves. We need to guard our children’s free time so that they don’t become over involved in outside activities.
Determine that we will home school in a bona fide manner. We must actively make the decision that we will be consistent. We must provide the educational materials necessary so our children can learn. We must provide a calm and relaxed atmosphere so our children are not distracted with excessive noise, clutter and activity. We must set aside a specific time each day to “do school”. We must get it done — not just talk about it, not just plan it, not just want to do a good job — we must do it.
Home schooling is not easy. It is probably the most time consuming, brain draining, difficult things we could do. It is also one of the most rewarding but if we don’t do it in a bona fide manner we are only cheating our kids and ourselves. So get busy and get it done!
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…” Ecclesiastes 9:10
What Bible curriculum do you use? That’s a very common question I get. There are lots of programs, schedules, workbooks, etc, out there to choose from. We typically don’t use any of them. We read, read, read — the Bible. We read lots of other stuff too but we read the Bible consistently. We discuss what we’ve read either right then or throughout our day or when the discussion presents itself.
There is one exception I make. When my boys are right at the 9th grade level, I like to study Bob Waldron’s History and Geography of the Bible with them. This is a chronological study of the Bible concentrating on the geography of the areas the events take place. During this year, we strive to read the entire Bible during the school year. That’s pretty hard to do and still keep up with all our other reading. The first year we did this, we were able to read the entire Old Testament during that school year. So the following year we read through the New Testament twice. We finished it by the winter break so when we started up again in January, we read it again.
One year we decided to listen to the Bible on CD. Now that was nice. I’m always the one doing the reading. It can be exhausting. I didn’t realize how much it took out of me to read as much as 8 chapters a day, every day, until we listened to the Bible on CD. It was quite relaxing and enjoyable to listen to someone else read it and read it so well. We were able to listen to the entire Bible that year.
Something I have begun doing in my personal studies is to read a book over and over again. This is easy to do with the smaller letters in the New Testament. Read 1 Peter in its entirety every night for a week. It’s amazing how much more interesting and how much more I get out of it the more familiar I am with it.
I did this with the boys this year but at a much slower pace. We were memorizing the “I am…” passages from the book of John. I wanted them to get a good feel for the book and see where the passages we were memorizing fit into the book. We read one chapter every day until we had read it all. Then, after we finished, we did it again, and again. We read it 3 times before moving on to a different book. The younger boys would begin anticipating what would happen next and they were always glad to get to the parts we had already memorized.
It’s so important to instill a love of God’s word in our children — a respectful love. We need to let our children know that the Bible is the only book that really matters. It’s all fine and good to read secular literature but when we compare the huge amount of literature we read to our children and we require our children to read it is huge compared to the amount of Bible reading/study we require of our children.
I read some advice years ago about how to make our children be better readers. It said that our children need to see us reading, then they’ll want to read. They should see us reading for pleasure as well as for learning. The same is true with the Bible. Our children need to see us reading our Bible. They need to know that we read our Bible because we love God and we love His word and we want to find out everything God wants us to know.
If you’re new to Bible study, it can be daunting at times. Parts of the Old Testament can seem very repetitive and pointless to read. I encourage you to read through it. It really helps to read as a family because it will keep you motivated to persevere. There is a set of books that I recommend to help understand the tough parts and to keep the big picture in focus. It is a set of 9 books that cover the whole Bible. It is written by Bob Waldron, the same author of the book mentioned above. The books are relatively inexpensive and easy to understand. You can see them here: A Lamp To My Feet. He has also written a small book to help organize your Bible study — The 3 Cycle Approach- A Method for Organizing Bible Knowledge.
What will be our Bible reading schedule for this next school year? I’m not sure. I have a son that just has 2 years left in our little school. Maybe we’ll read the Old Testament this year and the New Testament twice next year. Giving him one last chance to take part in our daily Bible reading before he leaves for college.
I rediscovered this YouTube video while giving my website a face lift. I thought I would share it again. The folks at The Old Schoolhouse Magazine asked for family pictures that might be appropriate in a video of this sort. There are 3 pictures of our family in the video:
The picture of the 3 boys on the swings (Jonathan, Andrew, Timothy)
A watermark picture of the whole family on playground equipment
Benjamin wearing a bucket for picking blueberries
We even got listed in the credits at the end.