Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Joys of Learning While Teaching

When I first started homeschooling in 1999, I had two students, a fourth grader and first grader and a toddler who loved to be a part of it all.  I was overwhelmed at the idea of keeping up with all the subjects to be taught and how to go about it and keep my sanity and my two year old off the dining room table.  Fast forward twelve years later to two graduations and a thirteen year old, who although he doesn't climb on the dining room table anymore, does love to be active.  I've looked back to those years of uncertainty and realized that I really did stress a lot of the small stuff and I might not have enjoyed the time as much as I could have.  When my daughter graduated last year I thought of all the busyness of those early years.  They were challenging and delightful all at the same time.  When I had all three children in school we kept busy and I moved from one student to the next, answering questions and correcting papers.  So I thought teaching only one student might be much less exciting and it made me kind of sad.  But to my great surprise, I've learned that it is really a lot of fun.  The best part about it is that I'm learning too!  I have to say I've learned a lot while teaching my children over the years.  History, science, civics, many of the subjects that I had glossed over in my own schooling became more alive to me.  Now that my youngest will be starting his high school years I can learn some of those more difficult subjects right along with him.  I have really enjoyed delving deeper into science and math this year and it is simply because I have more one on one time with him than I had with the older children.  I was much busier being a mom than a tutor.  My older children were also much more independent learners, where my youngest really likes me to sit with him and coach him along.  So if you're like me, or will be someday, or the parent of one homeschooling child, I encourage you not to feel that homeschooling one child might be boring.  It is so much fun to learn right along beside your child.  Enjoy and may God bless your homeschooling years.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Joyfulness


Nehemiah 8:10 The joy of the Lord is your strength.

When I was trying to come up with a name for this new blog I wasn't sure what to choose. I wanted this blog to be encouraging to homeschoolers, especially those who were new to the adventure. One thing that has come to my mind for many years now is how full of joy I am that the Lord led us in this direction. For this I am most joyful. I cannot describe the joy that fills my heart when at the end of a hectic day, I can look back and thank the Lord for it. Not everyday is a happy day and not every day is a good day. As a matter of fact some days are very bad. I've had days when I've thought, should we be doing this? Maybe they'd be learning more if they were in a private school or public school. Then it hits me, oh yes, they'd be learning more all right, but what would they be learning? After all these years I have seen the benefits of having educated my children at home. But still there are those days when doubt can creep in and I wonder, are we still doing the right thing? With the support of family but mostly my husband, I know that we are. At the end of each day I still look back and feel that joy that comes from doing God's will. Happiness is nothing compared with Joy! I hope you will be joyful as you homeschool too.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My God Provides

ESV Psalm 25:9 "He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way."  25:12-13 "Who is the man who fears the Lord?  Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.  His soul shall abide in well being and his offspring shall inherit the Land."   As I read these verses in Psalm 25 this morning during my devotion time, I recalled the times that I've struggled trusting that teaching my own children was the right thing to do.  The days that we weren't accomplishing the goals I had in mind were like a black cloud over my head. I would wonder if I was doing the right thing with the child who struggled to simply finish a task.  When I put the difficulties in the hands of the Lord, which I didn't do soon enough, I always marveled that the Lord would provide the answer.  He came to my rescue and showed me the way to work with the situation. Sometimes it was taking a new path, and sometimes it was enduring the path we were on.

Because life happens while you home educate, you need to roll with the punches, so to speak.  There are days with interruptions that you didn't anticipate and these can become very frustrating.  My advice is to trust God, knowing of course, that He allowed the interruptions for a reason.  If you put your trust in Him to provide He will.  He promises to.  As I look back I can see that He did.   I fretted that the evaluations the state required wouldn't be "good enough".  I also fretted that SAT scores would suffer from lack of knowledge in a certain area.  But God never worried about any of those things.  Was I obeying Him?  Was I trusting Him that He would provide?  I'm doing better now because I can see that He has gotten us through the rough times.  I know there will still be times that I will worry about those up coming tests, but I also know He will guide us through.

As I read those verses the one that really stands out to me is;  "Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose."  It's wonderful to know that the believer who fears and trusts the Lord will be shown by Him which way to go.  I know I never need doubt nor worry when the Lord shows me the way. And then look at the end of that verse; "His soul shall abide in well being and his offspring shall inherit the Land."  What a wonderful promise for God's children.  What hope abounds and the joy that follows!  Happy homeschooling!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Lessons Learned From Animals


Proverbs 12:10  (ESV)  Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast.

We have learned many valuable lessons from raising and keeping pets and farm animals.  As our children have grown so has the size of our little "farm".  We had the normal dog and cat to start out with.  We knew it was important for our children to have a pet to care for so a kitten entered our little family.  Soon a puppy joined the group. Later on our oldest son, at age eleven, felt no home was complete without a bunny. With his birthday money he purchased one rabbit, one cage and lots of bunny supplies.  One very rainy June, my husband decided we should get some ducklings.  Who would love the rainy spring more than ducks?  So six ducks were the beginning of our little farm.   Our daughter was a horse lover at a young age and started to save her pennies in hopes of one day owning her own.  Because our neighbor had two horses, our daughter soon had a small job of helping her with  morning chores.  At the age of thirteen, after four years of working for our neighbor and saving her money she was able to purchase her own horse.  You can probably see where this is all leading.  Now, six years later we are up to two dogs, two cats, one rabbit, this is not our original rabbit.  My youngest son wanted to buy a rabbit with his birthday money to replace the first one. Now there are three ducks, one horse and twelve chickens (soon to be doubled).  A total of 21 animals if I did my math right.

Having shared all of that I'll get back to my original point.  Owning all of these animals has been a wonderful learning experience for our children and a large part of our homeschooling.  First, they learned how to love and care for their pets.  Second, they learned the value of buying and caring for their own pets.  Third, they learned compassion by caring for their sicknesses and injuries (of which there have been many)  and the sorrow of losing a beloved pet as well.  Finally, entrepreneurial skills have been gained as well through horse riding lessons and selling eggs.   These are lessons that they will carry throughout their whole lives.  The house animals have been a lesson in feeding, loving and cleaning up after.  The barn animals became a lesson in endurance, self sacrifice, and self discipline.  The dogs and cats, like be fed on time and loved, that's the easy part.  But when it is cold outside and the animals in the barn need to be cared for this becomes more challenging.  In New England we get many cold winter days.  The water freezes, the doors freeze, and it can be just miserable to say the least. But day in and day out, those animals need to be cared for and it has to happen.  This has been the perfect opportunity to build character in our children's lives.  I have to say that after  almost six years of horse ownership my daughter has never complained about taking care of her horse.  She has faithfully carried out her responsibilities toward him.  Knowing that God has given her this job to do.  The sad part of raising animals is that once and awhile we lose one of these dearly loved pets.  This has happened a few times and many tears have been shed.  This has helped them to realize that we do lose those we love.

I know not everyone has the love of animals or pets that our family has.  But I believe the time that our children have had raising and caring for their pets as been an important part in growing them into caring, responsible adults.  Yes, animals are messy and I have to admit there are times when I'd love to have new furniture and rugs, but I hold off because of these pets.  But I truly wouldn't trade the life lessons my children have learned for any of those things.