My word for 2013

This is one of my favorite exercises each year. I determine a word to encapsulate the new year. Sometimes I spend a lot of time and sometimes one just pops out at me. It helps me live with more intention and purpose. Without further ado my word for the year is…

FRUITFUL–1. Very productive; producing fruit in abundance; as fruitful soil; a fruitful tree; a fruitful season. 3. Plenteous; abounding in any thing. 4. Productive of any thing; fertile; as fruitful in expedients. 5. Producing in abundance; generating.  (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary)

2012 was a big year for me physically. I was pretty sick and had major surgery. I was VERY anemic and could not do much of anything. There were so many things I wanted to do but simply didn’t have the capacity to do anything more than the most basic tasks. Thankfully now my body has recovered and I feel better than I have in years!

I also completed my bachelor’s degree in nursing in December. It was a miracle to be sure! It was satisfying to walk across that stage after all that hard work. I’ve been an RN for twenty years (I can’t be that old mature!) and started on my BSN in 2011. One night a week was doable but it sure wasn’t easy.

My husband started a new contract business and I went to work as a school nurse. All said it was quite a busy year with four children and a menagerie along for the ride.

This year I don’t simply want to be busy. I want to be fruitful. I want to produce something someone else needs, starting with my family. I will post a lot about this as the year goes on. I believe God will provide opportunities for my fruit to abound, which will likely include some pruning!

What is your word for this year?

Yes, home educating is my job

I used to bristle a little when people would ask me what I “do,” only because my answer seemed to disappoint them. It implies that work outside the home is somehow more valuable than what I “do” within these four walls. Now that I have given it some thought, I am glad to say that home educating is my job. People with a “job” have:


A defined task(s). I have the task of teaching my kids. Love it. Best job I have ever had. And I have to plan. I have a defined set of tasks that I prepare for. I am not a mom that does well with unstructured or vague school time. I know that all of life is learning but I am also obligated to make sure they can work with numbers, read and write and know something about the natural world. For my family that is best done with a set time for lessons and my kids look forward (most of the time) to learning something new that I have prepared ahead for them.

Measurable goals. My Bible is my standard. It’s filled with my goals. I try to evaluate myself regularly and I ask my

photo courtesy Banalities

photo courtesy Banalities

husband to do so as well. Once in a while, when I’m feeling especially brave, I will ask my kids how I’m doing. That always gets me more than I bargained for. They are also surprisingly gentle. They often focus on different things than I do and they help me lighten up a bit.

I also set yearly and long term goals for each of my children, and for our home education in general.

Opportunity for advancement. I get promoted every year. It’s never boring and I get to constantly experience new things alongside my kiddos.

A schedule. There are certain hours for working certain jobs. I find we are the most productive when I guard our homeschooling hours. If I schedule time that is dedicated to learning and actually stay home to homeschool, amazing things happen. My children thrive on routine and a regular schedule is a tool that will make learning easier and more productive.

Commitment. Companies expect commitment and loyalty. I have to be invested if I am to do a good job. I believe if you are going to homeschool you have to be all in or it won’t work. When you are tentative your kids sense the wavering and school won’t go as smoothly. Whatever you do, do with all your might. If you are going to homeschool, why not go for it? You will have a much more fulfilling experience when you do.

A boss. I work for Him. I’m not trying to sound super-spiritual, but it’s true. He’s Who I most care to please. I look forward to the day I hope to hear “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Remuneration. My pay comes in the form of well-written papers, drive-by hugs, and peanut butter sandwiches with my kids as we watch the clouds. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about the “Benjamins.” When my daughter won the essay contest I was paid. My hard work teaching her paid off. I don’t think of their learning success as evaluation as much as payment. And when they are able to receive scholarships to university because of what we have done in our little homeschool, I really will get paid.

Benefits. I have a day that I can schedule and a life that I order, with God’s help. I have vacations, days off (for errands) and sick days (not mine, theirs). My benefits include snuggling to read in the middle of the day and being a part of my childrens’ light bulb moments. Benefits are not always evident, so you have to look out for them and be aware–things like flexibility of schedule for things like doctor visits, not having to get out in the cold and snow to take them to school, being able to travel, taking special field trips to enhance learning and tailoring your child’s lessons to their learning style and bent.

My newest school planning helpers

I just love going to my local used home school store. The woman that runs it is a walking home school catalog. Her knowledge of all the different curricula is staggering. And there is where I happen upon most of my home school loves.

My newest favorite resources are these giant, yet unassuming books. They may not sound like a big deal, but they are–at least they should be.

I am in love with all the Teacher’s Book of Lists books (available at Amazon and other online bookstores). They are worth their weight in gold. Yes you can probably find all the information on the Internet, if you took months, and even then you may not find it all. Why put yourself through that? It’s organized and at your fingertips right in this book. For example, some things included in the comprehensive science book are:

  • plant terminology and classification
  • dyeing procedures (from plant sources)
  • animal classification, reproductive and life cycles
  • major terms of the 10 human body systems
  • determining to mole of a compound
  • balancing chemical equations
  • isotopes of chemical equations
  • classification of energy
  • calculating the specific gravity of a mineral
  • codes for weather symbols
  • classification of stars by color and temperature
  • base two
  • checklists for graphing conventions
  • metric conversions
  • professional publications
  • science fair project information and checklists

And that’s just a few of other over 290 lists. In the literature book you can find 247 lists like vocabulary lists for all sorts of writing; lists by theme, genre and author; lists of award winners and books that have been made into movies. You can search by literary period, find a nice list comparing gods and goddesses and even lists of famous characters.

I think you get the point. You will be so glad you have these books on your lesson plan bookshelf. It is saving me so much time looking up things that I need to grab and move on. These book keep me from getting lost in the details, so I can focus on the principles I want to teach. These lists are great for illustrating principles, gleaning ideas for reading lists and essay questions and for just plain fact-gathering and they cover k-12, so there are no other books to buy (always a winner to me!).

If you prefer integrated studies, these are still valuable. You can use them as project starters, essay fodder and just general resource. Because they are broken down by subject you are able to hone in on just the info you need. You can also see who the subjects intertwine. And you can use them to make mini offices for your kids on any subject. If you aren’t convinced by now, you are a hopeless case. Or you  have another easy source for all this information available at the tum of a page. If you’d like to share a favorite resource, please leave a comment. I’m always curious to know what other moms are using in the homeschooling.

Enjoying a good word study

Word studies are hard. And dry. And time-consuming. At least that’s how some people see it. Even the title makes me chortle. Who ever heard of such a thing as actually being fun? Well, everything we do for our kids’ education can be something we enjoy. If not all of it, then at least some part.

You may not know what a word study is. Or you may avoid them. Or you may do them and not know them by that name. Whatever category you fit in, I think you can see word studies not as a necessary evil, but as an important tool in your home educating process. Any home educator can implement word studies, no matter what approach or curriculum is in use. It’s a powerful way to bring a subject alive for teacher and student.

…Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom,  and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach…   Daniel 1:4 KJV

A word study is simple and straightforward. One way to do one is as follows:

  1. Choose a key word from your study in any subject.
  2. Define the word from Webster’s 1828 dictionary.
  3. Underline key words in the definition and look those up in the 1828.
  4. When you feel you have defined it sufficiently, begin to find the words you underlined in a Bible concordance. Write down any scripture you deem relevant to the words and definitions.
  5. Using all this information, write your own definition of the word.
  6. Using the information you have gathered, deduce the Biblical principle from the study.

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty. Jer. 15:16 NIV

Now who wouldn’t like to do that? Seriously, there is something really exciting about learning something new about a word you assumed you knew the definition of. And it’s even more exciting to see what God has to say about that word. Or with that word.  Why do I want to do a word study?

  • To understand the English language better.
  • To have mastery over a topic/subject so I can teach it better.
  • To deepen my understanding.
  • To learn God’s thoughts on a matter.
  • To improve my scholarship.
  • To increase in wisdom.
  • To discover the Biblical principles on a matter.
  • As a springboard for a new/deeper study (AKA “rabbit trail”).

Some tips to enjoy your word study more:

  • Don’t do it when you are tired. Nothing is fun then.
  • Give yourself plenty of time. Do it in chunks even.
  • Pray for wisdom and discernment. Then expect amazing things to happen because God will show up right in the middle of your study.
  • Get your kids involved. Let them be your research assistants. Make it a family affair. (read: don’t be a martyr, studying alone for hours on end with frequent sighing and complaining.)
  • Don’t do them all the time. They are not necessary every week.
  • Don’t give independent word study assignments to young kids. This is a bad idea. When your kids are younger the word studies are for you to digest and give to them on their level. As they get older you can introduce the idea and start walking them through the process in small doses.
  • If you don’t like them, ask God to change your heart. Things you hate to do can actually become joyful times with the Lord. It is always delightful to spend time in His word.
  • Share what you learn with your spouse and anyone else who will listen. Don’t become obnoxious, but share what you learn liberally with others. They probably can use something you learned.
  • Reward yourself when you are done. (Ooooh, I hear M&M’s and a bubble bath calling me, but I digress…)
  • Invest in quality tools. A nice pen, clean paper, a Strong’s concordance will make you more willing to get the job done. And who doesn’t enjoy a nice writing pen?
  • Be willing to stop and enjoy what you are learning. Take a breath, sit back and Selah–think on these things.

step 2: defining BPA, 7 principles and 4-R’ing

Step 2 of the 12 steps in Mr. Rose’s book involve reading a short overview of the seven principles of America’s Christian history and government and what it means to 4-R. I will go into the seven principles in much more detail as the  study goes on, so I will only list them in this post.

Biblical Principle Approach refers to:

  1. rediscovery and reinstatement of principles on which the character of our country was built.
  2. Christian method of reasoning from the Bible.

The same principles that make you a better citizen in America also make you a better citizen in God’s kingdom as well. We are to think governmentally (you hear this phrase A LOT in BPA circles), which means to think “who or what is controlling, restraining, directing or regulating?” This will determine our worldview and our philosphy of education.

The more internal restraint you have, the less external restraint you need. This speaks a lot of how little we are internally governed as a society. There are rediculous laws and ordinances of all kinds to govern those among us who cannot control themselves. Our humanity loves rules and the more the better. The more God’s laws are written on our hearts (love Him, love your neighbor as yourself), the less of man’s laws we will need. His Word will have pre-eminence in every sphere of life.

I tell my kids from time to time, “The world would not be such a bad place if grown-ups could keep their hands to themselves.” Isn’t that true? We would not steal, sleep around or kill. But the hands are not really the problem, are they? It’s the heart that’s the matter, especially when the grown-ups were just children and no one taught them to be internally controlled.

The 7 Principles of American Christian History and Government

  1. God’s Principle of Individuality
  2. The Christian Principle of Self- Government
  3. America’s Heritage of Christian Character
  4. Conscience is the Most Sacred of all Property
  5. Our Christian Form of Government
  6. How the Seed of Local Self-Government is Planted
  7. The Christian Principle of American Political Union

These 7 principles apply to all spheres of life and to all peoples around the world. When I spend a week on each principle I will explain that in more detail.

4-Ring

the four R’s is a simple yet profound way of learning that we all do, we just have never thought much about. It is a historical method in which the four steps are exercised simultaneously. (You can search my archives for more 4-R information.)

1. Research God’s Word to identify basic principles by searching scripture for vocabulary. Get out your Webster’s 1828 dictionary and look up words to define from the subject you are studying. Then look up those word in your concordance.

2. Reason from Biblical truths and identify them to the student through each subject, concluding from Scripture the Biblical significance and governmental importance of the subject. It builds upon thruth researched.

3. Relate to each student through the subject, applying it to character, conscience and stewardship. The subject is the vehicle to learn more about God, not just a bunch of facts to memorize. This creates lessons that are truly alive for teacher and student, because they come from God’s Word.

4. Record what you feel you need to save by both teacher and student. Each should have their own record, whatever form that takes. Some like to keep an electronic notebook, some more like a scrapbook, others a type of journal and still others a traditional notebook.

We should take care what materials we use, Mr. Rose advises. Materials that teach external as the focus will present confusion.

The child and the subject are extensions of Jesus, the Author and Governor. We connect them together and we develop a student who can reason biblically and take dominion over all subjects.

What exactly is the Principle Approach?

I know some of you who visit aren’t really sure what BPA is. You may have a good idea but would like to know more.

FACE has penned this excellent definition (available on their Web site):
“The Principle Approach has been called ‘reflective teaching and learning.’ It is America’s historic method of Biblical reasoning which places the Truths (or principles) of God’s Word at the heart of education. Each subject is predicated upon God’s Biblical principles and students are taught to think and reason from principles and leading ideas using The Notebook Approach to Research, Reason, Relate, and Record.

“The Principle Approach was rediscovered and restored to twentieth century American Christian education by The Foundation for American Christian Education (F.A.C.E.) co-founder, Rosalie Slater, who identified seven principles of American Christian history and government in her foundational book, Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History: The Principle Approach.”
Here and here are excellent articles from the Foundation for American Christian Education on what makes PA unique. If you are interested in using the Principle Approach but don’t know where to start, You might look into the Noah Plan. And you can visit the links to the left, read the recommended articles and read up on the blogs too.