Monday, February 04, 2008

Homeschool Resources and Stuff

I'm sure many of you know about Donna Young's website. It has a whole new look and I am sure new resources. It is one of my favorites and wanted to pass it on. You can print the George Washington' s Rules of Civility copywork booklet. I will be all over this once we hit American History :o)

My friend at Stepping Heavenward brought a new writing program by Susan Wise Bauer to my attention. Many people I know are looking for good writing material for the elementary grades.

I receive Jennie Fulbrights newsletter. She also has a blog. She had a great article about keeping spiritual training at the forefront of our home education and to be careful not to put so much emphasis on the academics, forgetting the core reason we have them at home. I think you can do both well, but I know my tendencies to major on the academics almost to a fault at times. Her solution of an hour of devotions wouldn't be the answer for everyone but the challenge to think through this article is well worth the time.

Academics Attack
We all desire great careers and lives for our children. Yet, if our children grew up to be doctors and lawyers but didn't have a relationship with God, a heartrending pain would surely permeate our lives. Our relationship with our adult children, even if strong, would be marked with a deep, unutterable sorrow: both for their soul and because we couldn't talk about the most important thing in our lives. Certainly they would require us to curb religious discussions if we wished to continue a good relationship. Sadly, this is the case for those I know with unbelieving adult children - children that abandoned the faith of their youth when they left home to pursue their academic endeavors. I began my homeschooling journey with a deep conviction that this was God's call upon my family. Many of you felt that same calling. As I stepped out in faith, I discovered an exciting new world: a world of curriculum, educational philosophies, supplementary activities and courses, academic endeavors, field trips, and opportunities abounding for the betterment of my little protégés. With a thrill, I realized that I really could give my children a better education! Only one major problem existed: fitting it all in. So, if we were going to do it all, we had better get on the stick!
Can you guess what fell by the wayside in our zealous efforts? Bible reading, morning devotions, deep spiritual discussions, heart training, and even our dear Lord Jesus. Sadly, I caught a terrible case of "Academics Attack", a malady that strikes many a homeschool mom. Indeed, my quest to provide my children the "best" education and the "best" enrichment resulted in an attack on our true purpose for homeschooling.
Though I believe God desires our children to do all things with excellence and to infiltrate every arena with light, including fields of study and trade, we must intentionally bear in mind our true purpose as home educators. If we are not proactive, we'll pave our homeschool highway with good intentions unfulfilled. There is a way that seems right to man, and focusing on academics and achievement would seem to provide a bright future for our offspring. Yet, in God's economy, we must continually seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness and all these things shall be added to us as well. Seek ye first.
Our first priority should be training the hearts of our children to love the Lord, to love others and to really, really know God. We should be diligent to make heart training the important first in our day - a quest we purposefully and actively pursue, rather than just waiting and hoping for teachable moments to arise. Frankly, academic or extracurricular interests can quite easily become an idol to our hearts and to the hearts of our children. We find ourselves devoted to these pursuits, dedicating most of our thoughts and attention to these things. It's quite a task to make heart training a priority, but God promises that our diligence to do so will yield tremendous results: He will take care of everything else on our behalf - He will do it. He will fulfill His promises (Psalm 138:8).
When a love for God is truly cultivated, everything else, including academics and other endeavors, will fall into place. In fact, if we neglect the spiritual training, the other pursuits won't yield the fruit that God intended.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
John 15:5
Apart from God, all our efforts come to naught. Nothing. Zip. Zero. A law degree? Maybe. But in God's eyes, it's worth nothing apart from Him. If we genuinely focus our homeschooling on spiritual training, it will produce fruit, fruit far superior to that which we could ever manufacture through our own efforts. Spiritual maturity produces academic success with less effort. Spiritual Maturity allows our students to be led by their Maker into that which they were created to be, and it's always better than what we could plan or hope for.
After a year or two of relentlessly working to provide the best education and enrichment for my children - putting spiritual maturity on the back burner, I was at the end of my rope. I found myself driving slowly by the public school. Needless to say, things were not going well. My kids were fighting constantly, no one enjoyed school - including me. I realized that all the field trips we took were just an excuse for a day off and no one learned anything, no one wanted to do their work. Each day we were frantically rushing through the school work because we usually had somewhere to be in the afternoon, and anger was the flavor of ice cream I served up on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. Yum.
Finally, in silent desperation, I did what we do when we find ourselves in a deep, dark pit: I gave up and fell on my face before God. With fresh revelation, I got up with a new plan - morning devotions instead of school. Yes, for a while we just gave it all up and only did devotions. We did them for more than an hour every day.
Within a short time, our entire family life changed. Peace reigned where chaos was once our dictator. Kindness marked our attitudes, and diligence began to sprout in my children's little hearts as they completed their assignments and did what they were asked. When I said it was time for school, I no longer heard the familiar groans. No amount of begging, pleading, rewarding, or threatening to call dad could have produced this behavior. It was the fruit of my children's renewed walk with God. Their faith grew as their prayer lives matured; they began to regularly pray on their own - in every situation, especially before subjects that were the most difficult.
There have been times over the years where we have fallen out of the routine of devotions - either we couldn't find a good devotional book to read, or we went on vacation and couldn't get back in the groove, or I just allowed busyness to distract us. Invariably, within a short time of neglect, things would begin to crumble again. Unfortunately, we simply can't coast on the manna we received last month - we'll ramble along for a bit before we begin to slide downward into another "Academics Attack."
If I could tell moms only one thing that would help their homeschooling, having regular morning devotions would be it. Truly, nothing else has blessed our homeschool experience more.
Over the next few newsletters, I'll be sharing ideas for implementing devotional times and how you can use these ideas to make your morning devotions special. Look for these tips and ideas in the articles entitled Daily Devotion Ideas.
I'll also be sharing about various devotional materials our family has enjoyed and giving "curriculum" (devotional and Bible study) reviews. Also, if you have any great devotional ideas or books you would like to pass along, please email me at

Believing God's Word for Our Children Being the primary educator for our children sometimes fills us with fear and trepidation. The enormity of that responsibility could overwhelm even the most faithful servant of the Lord. Yet, we don't have to experience fear because God has given us many promises for our children.
The question we must ask is: Do we believe God or do we believe our doubts and fears?
Let's look at some promises God has given us to stand on:
1. God thought about our children even before He created the world. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. Eph 1:4
2. God knows our children and has already planned and purposed what they will do and be. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.Eph 2:10
3. God has plans for our children, plans for a great and hopeful future wherein they will prosper. For I know the plans I have for your declares the Lord, plans for a hope and a future. Jer 29:11
4. God loves our children and will guide us daily as we seek to raise them in His ways.
For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end. Psalm 48:14
Don't let fear and doubt rob you of the peace, joy and confidence God wants you to have in your homeschooling. He has great plans for your little ones. Let us not put our faith in our fears, let us put our faith in God's truth instead!
"The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever"
Psalm 138:8


Hester said...

Thanks for posting about the writing curriculum!

Tami said...

Thank you for the great resources. Have a blessed day! Love, Tami