Man’s Laws Are Not the Answer

We need to turn our children to Christ

Our country is shaken and mourning from yet another mass murder at a school. Yet as we mourn, we are becoming inured to the tragedy of it, and turning more to rallies and politics. We are turning away from our homes and children and churches, and turning up our volume and anger and disgust. In short we are turning away from Christ, which is precisely what will contribute to the problem.

If we truly want the answer to the violence that plagues our children, we have to acknowledge that Man does not possess the answer. Nor can Man create any law that will heal our children’s hearts. We need to accept that in order to heal our children, we need to turn to them, and turn them to Christ.

We need to accept that in order to heal our children, we need to turn to them, and turn them to Christ.

Try this, set aside a few extra minutes with your child tonight (or over the next several nights, depending on how many you care for). As you tuck them in, ask them some of these questions:

  • How did your day go?
  • Did you have any trouble with anyone today?
  • Can you think of a way that you can improve your relationship with them?
  • Did you notice anyone struggling or lonely today?
  • Can you think of ways that you could show them Christ-like love tomorrow?
    • Smile at them.
    • Wave hello.
    • Say, “Hi.”
    • Sit with them at lunch.
    • Talk to your friends about being nicer to them.

As you have a conversation about showing Love to others with your kids, you will help them become part of the solution. Remember Christ’s words:

Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. – Matthew 22:39

Man’s Laws have second and third order effects that we cannot fully comprehend, but God’s Laws are perfect. Love each other and we are all healed.

Blessings,
Sarah

Our Typical Homeschool Day

our school table

Hi there!

It’s 4:30 pm in our household, and the school day is over. I’ve planned something quick for dinner, so I happen to have a few minutes to write this post. Today was a good one as far as getting all our school work done (this doesn’t always happen), so I figured I’d walk you through our day.

We started this morning pretty lazily (ok, that was all me). The kids had some new coloring books and other goodies from their visit to the police station yesterday, so they started playing and reading as soon as they woke up. I was still recovering from some very short nights earlier this week, so I half-slept in a bit more than usual.

Once I got going, I asked the older 2 kids to go get dressed while I got myself ready, and my preschooler continued playing on the floor. Then I asked them to set the table for breakfast while I got my youngest dressed.

After breakfast, I asked them to unload the dishwasher. As they did that, I sat down to update our accounts and check to see how our spending was matching our budget (we’re doing much better, but we still need to rein in our dining-out a bit). Realizing it had been more than half an hour and the dishwasher hadn’t been touched, I asked the kids again. They usually do this chore happily, but not today. Once they started though, they finished quickly and we were ready to start school.

We started with a quick lesson from “Manners Made Easy” by June Hines Moore. Then we did a few lessons from “First Language Lessons For The Well-Trained Mind: Level 2” by Jessie Wise. I tend to only do each subject once a week (except Math, which I do twice), so today I taught 5 of the lessons from “First Language Lessons.”

I found early on that I don’t do well teaching the same 5 – 10 subjects every day. So I learned that I would rather have one or two longer lessons, once a week. And my kids seem to respond better to that as well. During this time I gave my preschooler a busy box (or two) so he could play without interrupting. This never goes perfectly, but it does work well enough.

After we finished my 2 subjects, the kids have independent study in Reading, Memory work, and Piano. For the next 3 hours they worked on those and other softer skills, like working together, communicating clearly, and building and creating. All this activity included a break for lunch and recess, during which they proudly built a snowman, without adult help, by working together. I’ve found that sending them outside for recess before lunch works well for me. Today I made soup and hot chocolate to warm them up once they came inside.

building a text

Around 2:30 pm, I put my preschooler down for a nap and the other 2 did a little more reading and playing independently. They had already finished their other subjects, so I didn’t mind what activity they picked as long as it wasn’t TV. Realizing that he had finished his schoolwork early, my second grader asked to go on to Khan Academy and practice his computer programming. He’s really enjoying this “extra” schoolwork and gets so excited about his animations.

Now it’s 5:00 pm and I need to get supper going. My husband is usually home just before 6:00 pm, so we’ll eat around then.

I hope your day was great and filled with Blessings!
Sarah

True Feminism is About More Than Position

3 women standing together

True feminism doesn’t match well with the world’s feminism. While I do believe the goals of feminism are noble, I can only see the degradation of a woman’s true power through the current tendency to jockey for a greater position or title.

I understand that in all attempts to improve something, people and even societies usually go past their mark to an extreme, before returning and finding the sweet spot. In fact, this swing can happen multiple times, like a pendulum, before resting in the center. However, I think it is time for the voices of women on the other side of the spectrum to be heard in order to bring the pendulum back closer to the center.

So, what do I feel is missing in modern day feminism? —

Only the source of a woman’s greatest power and influence:

Motherhood

Through motherhood, women are at their highest level of influence. Women guide and direct everything about the little lives for whom they are responsible. We teach them what to believe in, what is important, what to learn. We groom them, nurture them, steer them in the directions they will follow their whole lives. We have all power over their little lives, if we are willing to give up all thoughts of self. They notice when we care for them and respond by following the path we lay out for them.

Now I know, I’m describing a perfect, theoretical child. I know as well as the next mom, that every child at some point (usually around an age ending in “teen”) decides to rebel against the best laid paths of mom. And usually this rebellion causes endless sleepless nights to the poor overwhelmed mother. This being understood, many children will still return to the patterns and programming built in by said mother. For better or worse, mother remains the most influential individual in most people’s lives.

So I propose that as women, we need to speak up more about this powerful position and help those around us to understand and support it more. I know that as we come to understand it and exercise it better ourselves, either as a biological, step, adoptive, foster, grand, part-time, surrogate, or unofficial (including teacher, aunt, nanny, next-door neighbor, mentor, etc.) mother; that we will empower our gender all over the world to become stronger and more influential.

Blessings!
Sarah

 

Facing New-to-Homeschooling Fears With a Plan

sarah-tailor-20171006_with_title

Hi there,

Today I’ve decided to go back in time to when I was first considering homeschooling. I’ll be honest, it was a scary idea.

First of all, I did not think I had the patience to put up with all of my kids, all day, every day. And I wasn’t surprised the first couple years when I lost my temper, a lot. In fact, the first semester of First grade was the worst. I was feeling a lot of pressure to do school in a traditional way. Ironically I had researched different methods and decided I didn’t want to do traditional, but I was still teaching the way I knew.

But I think I’m getting ahead of myself – let’s start with the basics:

  1. Why are you considering homeschooling?
    • We all have different reasons for this, for some it’s faith-based, for some it’s academics, for some it’s politics, for many it’s the realization that public school and your kid just don’t mix well.
    • My reasons are like a recipe of the above, a little of this, a little of that, and a lot of “my kid is too crazy for anyone else!” Heheh!
    • One thing a lot of old-school homeschoolers recommend is to write a mission statement for your homeschool. I don’t have one formally spelled out, but it’s given me the foundation I need. Here are a couple great articles on reasons and mission statements:
  2. What are your concerns about homeschooling?
  3. If you ARE still interested in homeschooling, then you need to overcome your fears.
    • We all inherently have a fear of the unknown, it is a survival instinct that we are pre-programed with. The trick is conquering it.
    • So my method of conquering fear is two-fold;
      1. Learn everything I can
      2. Make a plan
    • So first, I’ve referred you to Pinterest, and I will add some links throughout, and at the bottom of this article to help you out with research. Such as:
    • Second is what this post is mostly about, making a plan. So on to…
  4. Figure out which method suits you best.
    • If you are really new to this, you’ll be asking yourself, “What in the world is a homeschool method?”
    • A homeschool method is the style and set of guiding principles you will use to help you teach and select curriculum. Understanding how you want to teach (and how you actually teach) are important to overcome fears and get a handle on what can be an overwhelming selection of resources.
    • Basically, you will learn about at least 5 different methods:
      1. Traditional – often called school at home
      2. Classical – modern version of teaching style from ancient Rome & Greece
      3. Charlotte Mason – focuses on teaching out of real books and nature study
      4. Unit Studies – uses 5 or 6 week units for teaching subjects
      5. Unschooling – learning from living life
    • Here’s one of many articles detailing these, and other methods: The Ultimate Guide to Homeschool Methods – Teaching Methods 101
    • Sometimes, the best way to research different methods is to focus on them one at a time. This way you hear from individual homeschoolers the reasons why they like what they use.
  5. Once you start to get an idea of the method you want to try, then you can start figuring out what kind of learning styles will work best with your kid(s). You want to make sure you have a good idea of how your child learns best.
    • Fortunately there are a number of resources for assessing your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Feel free to search for Learning Style Assessments, but keep in mind that you shouldn’t need to pay for one.
    • I couldn’t find the one I used years ago, but here is a fun way to get some ideas: The Learning Style Quiz
    • Keep in mind that assessments are meant as guidelines. Don’t prohibit your kids from learning any way they can. I was surprised to find out that my little fireball of a girl, the one who NEVER stops moving, actually enjoys worksheets. Granted, she does them while sitting on top of the school table, but, hey, she’s learning.
  6. So you’ve figured out your reasons, your method, and your child(ren)’s learning style, now can we get to curriculum?
    • Yes,  now you are armed and prepared to venture into the curriculum market.
    • My first step to choosing curriculum was reading reviews of other moms and the choices they made for their kids, especially if they are using the same method (or variant thereof).
    • Actually, I can’t think of any of my curriculum that I wasn’t referred to by another homeschool mom, either online or in person (except Scripture Study).
    • Of course, you’re welcome to see what I’m using: My 2017-2018 Curriculum Plan
    • I also like this article, it’s short and simple, but it gets you thinking: Where to Buy Used Homeschool Books
  7. After you have your choices in your hot little hands, it’s time to plan out your year of lessons. Don’t rush yourself unless you have to, my first year it took me at least 4 weeks to put together my lesson plan. It took less than a week the next year.
    • Your first step is to go through the chapter titles and read through the first lesson. Do this the night you get your books (if you can) to get a feel for what you’ve signed up for. If you realize you don’t like it, don’t feel guilty about returning it and trying something else.
    • Some curriculum is easy to plan, 1 lesson per day. Others are not as easy, especially if your kid is a third of the way through the year already. If you are in that situation, where your kid has part of a year’s work done, but is clearly not ready for the next year, then you will need to go through the curriculum more carefully during your planning period.
    • I went through and combined or skipped several lessons that my son was past. From some lessons, I would only use one point in order to serve as a review. In that way, he didn’t get bored dragging his feet through something he had already mastered.
    • Don’t forget that YOU are the teacher now, you control what you want your kids to learn, not a school district, state, or nation. Though there are homeschool laws you need to be mindful of, they don’t decide the day-to-day learning needs of your kid. That’s all you!
    • If you are spreadsheet person, I have an example of how I planned my first year for you here (there’s a lot of real life in here, because this is the version at the end of the year, I updated it every week with our progress): Lesson Plan_First Grade
  8. By now you should be ready to get started.
    • Be sure to hit the back-to-school sales at Walmart and stock up on pencils, paper, and crayons.
    • Here is one of many school supply lists: Back to Homeschool Shopping List
    • Start day one with some pictures and celebrating, get excited and your kids will be too.
    • You can also use a First Day of School worksheet like this one (feel free to shorten it, my kids never get through the whole thing): First Day of School Interview
    • Have fun! And don’t try to do too much too fast!
  9. Finally, forgive yourself and your kid(s) for bad days. You and they will have them.
    • You may even end up with a lot of them when you start. If that’s the case, you’re probably trying to do too much in a day.
    • Part of my trouble my first year, was that I tried to do every subject every day. I gave myself a LOT of work in preparation each day, and I couldn’t keep up. I was also putting a lot of pressure on my oldest to get his assignments done because we needed to get on to the next assignment. It did NOT work well for us.
    • Fortunately I had a some more experienced friends in church that helped me see I was doing too much. It really is ok to do one lesson per subject per week. You don’t have to get through a book in a year. If you still want to finish one book per year, you can skip lessons or combine them so you have a block of each subject each week.
    • I have some core subjects that my kids have to do independently, and then I teach 1 or 2 lessons per school day. That way we still get done what we need to, and I don’t go insane. Heheh!
    • Here are a couple of articles on overcoming bad days:

However you do it, make sure it works for your family. Have fun and enjoy the journey!

As I was driving around last week, I was reflecting on what it would be like if my kids went to public school. What I could do with all that time! And then I realized that I would probably mope and feel lonely without them. My kids give me so much love and encouragement throughout the day, even when they don’t mean to, that I realized I would miss them. I know now that even if I could afford pay a tutor to teach them all the things that I think they would need, I would miss them too much to get anything done. I am grateful to be homeschooling and I hope you can be too!

I hope this has given you some ideas that help. Here are some other resources you may enjoy:

Blessings!
Sarah

I Can Learn From the Trees – How to Bend, How to Sway

brandon-kawamura-222056_with title

There’s an old song by Ani DiFranco that runs through my head when I think about my parent’s mistakes. My parents separated when I was 4, and we stayed with my mom. My mom and dad were very bitter toward each other, and my sister and brother and I often felt that we had to pick sides in the war. I was the oldest, so I felt responsible for my younger siblings and my mom. I sided with her on everything and sadly grew up hating my dad. So here are the lyrics that repeat in my head:

growing up it was just me and my mom against the world
and all my sympathies were with her when I was a little girl
now I’ve seen both my parents play out the hands that they were dealt
as each year goes by I wonder how my father must’ve felt
and I just want you to understand
that I know what all the fighting was for
and I just want you to understand
that I’m not angry anymore
no I’m not angry anymore

every time we fight a cold wind blows our way,
but we learn like the trees
how to bend, how to sway and say
I, I think I understand
what all this fighting is for
And I just want you to understand
that I’m not angry anymore
no I’m not angry anymore

This song has taught me over the years to recognize the valuable lessons that both of my parents had for me. And I’m happy to say that in seeking to understand my father better, we have developed a very strong relationship. I love both my parents dearly and am so grateful for the attributes and lessons I have learned from them through the years.

Now as I sing this song, I hope that my oldest son, who lives with his father, can forgive me for my mistakes as a mother and noncustodial parent. I hope one day that he can see me as the strong tree, who did not fall when the rains and snows came, who did not break when the winds of the hurricane howled around me. Though I did have to bend nearly to the ground, and I had to sway and give up much. But I hope that he can see that I worked constantly to stay rooted in his life, to show him my love; to shade him, when he was near, from the heat of the world on his little shoulders.

One day I hope that he can be like the tree, as I imagine Our Savior to be, standing firmly rooted in what is right, and when necessary, turning the other cheek.

Do you struggle to remain Christlike in the storms of life? What have you found that works for you?

Blessings,
Sarah

Venturing Outside

IMG_20170809_142833692.jpg

Something that can be hard to remember for a book-loving introvert, is to go outside, everyday (and walking between your car and house, work, store, church, does NOT count). I do remember to send my kids outside every day. I’m a big believer in the many valuable effects of playing outside. And living in the Mountain West, we get plenty of days of sunshine, so I can send them out all but 1 or 2 days a month.

But while my kids are joyfully playing in the sunshine, I’m usually seizing the moment to clean or prep something, or to write, budget, email, anything I need to do to get caught up. I have a few precious moments not being taken by the kids, so I usually keep them to myself.

But not today. Today I tackled a mountain of weeds in my garden that were taller than my kids, and I conquered them. I ventured out into the sun and the heat (it’s not bad today, only 83 degrees, with a nice breeze) with my sunhat and my pink gloves, and I waged war with that mountain. And I won! The best part? I got them before most of them went to seed, Yay!

I’m feeling good, and maybe I’ll have some autumn vegetables planted in a few weeks. I should really go outside more often.

Now back to my desk and that blog…

Blessings,
Sarah