Keep on keeping on

With all the trappings of Biblical Principle Approach–word studies, 4-Ring, notebooks, the Red Books, Rudiments, etc.–you can easily get overwhelmed and frustrated. Your idea of home education is not becoming reality and you find yourself tired and frustrated. What do you? Chuck it? Put the kids in school? Change to yet another curriculum? Run away from home?

Unless you are a homeschooler with steely resolve, frustrating times can make you question you methods, your philosophy and–on a bad day–maybe even your sanity. When homeschool life is hard here are some things to  help keep you going.

  • Pray and ask God to help you. The Holy Spirit is always available to listen.
  • Realize this is temporary. This crisis, this illness, this life itself is temporary. Don’t lose sight of the transient nature of life.
  •  Use a lifeline. Call a friend. Read your Bible. Take a hot bath. Take the school day off. Do something that re-energises you.
  • Take school slow. Slow down. Find a rabbit trail, put your lessons on hold for a few days while you learn about something interesting and unexpected.
  •  Just cover the basics. Don’t try to do more until you can do more. Your kids won’t suffer.
  •  Write down your philosophy of education, any scriptures that you feel apply to your schooling and any inspiring quotes. Put them in a nice book and use it to encourage yourself. When times are hard, pull out that book and remind yourself why you are doing this.
  • Keep a journal. It is great to vent your frustrations, question things and just plain old talk to yourself. It’s also a great place to encourage yourself and to keep record of life’s little successes.
  • Take stock. Review some past work and see how far you really have come. It will jog your memory to character issues that have resolved or funny things that happened.
  • Let your kids teach you. Put them in the hot seat and let them show you what they have learned. That will be good for a laugh or two and you may be surprised at how knowledgeable they really are.
  • Reach out to encourage another mom. So many times when I am down I will call or write another mom and it lifts me up as well.

Fun with old magazines and catalogs

If you have a giant stack of catalogs and magazines that you don’t want to store but feel guilty about tossing, try these ideas to get more mileage from your paper before you recycle it.

How much fun can you fit on one page?

Books are great tools for homeschoolers. It seems there is no end to the creative possibilities. But sometimes the choices can seem a bit overwhelming, or the process is complicated and you stress about creating content that will be worthy of the container. How about trying a book that is made from one page, a little book that can be cut and pasted and scribbled to your heart’s content. Fill it with poetry or facts or drawings of plants. Use one of the directions below. Make them for friends, create a zine and sell some copies. They are fast and fun and oh so easy. I bet you can’t make just one. [Read more...]

Book making fun with kids

If you don’t make books with your kids you are missing out on some fun! Books are a great alternative to lapbooks or notebooks. There’s no way you can not have fun making and filling books with stories, songs, poems, math tables, pictures, essays and anything else your children can produce. Here are a few links to whet your appetite. [Read more...]

Spirit-led lessons

My most exciting times as a home educator have come under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Without the help of the Holy Spirit my lessons become dry and frankly pretty boring. I thought I would share some thoughts concerning this.

If you are a Christian teaching your children at home, you probably already have experienced spirit-led lessons, even if you didn’t know it or call it that.

When you are teaching multiple grades together you can relax. Just as happens in a church full of individuals, the Holy Spirit has a wonderful way of tailoring the lesson to fit the needs of the hearer. I never cease to be amazed that a room full of people can hear the same sermon, the same words and scripture, and get something intimately personal from it. Only God’s living Word can do that.

The Holy Spirit is here for, among other things, education.  John 14:26 Jesus says that when He left the Holy Spirit would come and “will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” “All things” there means in the Greek just that–all things. So rejoice that the Holy Spirit is there to teach you, to teach your kids, and to teach you to teach your kids all things.

If you are struggling in an area such as math or history or even how to schedule your day or deal with a difficult character issue, help is a prayer away. God gives wisdom liberally if we will only ask (James 1:5). And when we don’t even know what we need the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:26) and Jesus (Rom. 8:34) both are praying God’s will on our behalf. Praise God! If you are weak in an area let God show Himself strong. I can tell you from experience those are the most exciting lessons of all because I cannot do that in my own ability. (2 Cor 12:9)

I encourage you to be careful not to put your lessons in a box and think there will be amazing revelations every day in every subject. That won’t happen. Many days will be pretty average. But that’s what makes the special times so special. And God’s grace is in the every day, speaking in quiet whispers through His Word in every subject.

With the Biblical Principle Approach that places God’s Word at the center of every subject, you can’t help but have Holy Spirit inspired lessons each time you pick up your Bible and read His life-giving words to your family. It’s rhema.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.      Hebrews 4:12

Embracing my inner school teacher

Principle: God’s Principle of Individuality 

Teacher Giving Students a Lesson in Spelling Photographic Print by Ewing GallowayI have to admit we have not been on good terms. I have poo-pooed her ideas and rolled my eyes at her suggestions. Her penchant for school supplies and compulsion to write on the chalkboard drove me to distraction. I wanted to change her altogether, reshaping her into more of a ”fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” individual, tossing every hint of traditional education out the window. She was having none of it.

Through much prayer and seeking I have come to realize something. It’s really okay the way God made me. That may be a “duh” to you but I’m a little slow on the uptake. God’s Principle of Individuality highlights the beauty of true diversity, and that includes the way I educate my children. God knew what temperaments my children would have, how they would learn best, and how that would work together with my teaching style to develop strong American Christians. And just because I may do a lot of things like a traditional teacher does not mean we operate just like a school. We enjoy our home education and celebrate our unique way of learning.

I need not put myself on the scale to see how I measure up to other home educators. There is a specific bent that God gave me, which happens to look very much like a school teacher. I enjoy detailed planning. Our pencil sharpener is one of those ones like I remember from school that is screwed into the wall and I love using it. School supplies make me giddy and I enjoy standing at the dry wipe board and pointing to the map from time to time.

There is nothing more liberating than realizing you are okay just as you are, “schooly” or not. To me, that’s the beauty of home education. I am done comparing my kids and my lessons and my teaching style. 

I am off to get my inner school teacher a hot cocoa and a comfy chair–so she can get busy with those lesson plans.

Crafty fun in every subject

In our house we LOVE all things artsy and craftsy, so I thought I would share some links to help you add more arts and crafts to your daily lessons. If you would like to add a link to this list, please share it in the comments section.

Bible

History

Science

Mathematics

Geography

Literature and English

Music

American Sign Language

Individuality of subjects

The first Biblical principle we study, and the overarching principle as well, is “God’s Principle of Individuality.” This principle can be seen everywhere, and we focus on seeing it in the subjects.

If God cares about individuality, then if we study the subjects individually we are enjoying the distinctiveness of each subject. There is a rich history, diverse vocabulary and important principles that each subject contains. A goal of learning with the Biblical Principle Approach is not fact mastery but subject mastery (through principles).

We are not discussing facts but principles, so multiple grades are able to learn together. There is no need for complicated lesson plans for each child. A little modification and all your children can learn at the same time.

How can we understand the unique vocabulary and rudiments of a subject if they are all lumped together? Each subject has its own language and foundation. It is important for children to learn these in order to master the subject.

When you understand the rudiments of a subject, along with its vocabulary, you are able to see how the subjects naturally overlap and fit together. There are common principles that bring the subjects in harmony and bring a richer appreciation of all the subjects.

For more reading on the subject, these two PDF handouts are available for download.

Selected Quotes Concerning the Individuality of Subjects

My personal notes concerning unit studies vs. individuality of subjects

I have nothing against unit studies per se, I just prefer a distinct subject methodology with natural subject integration. What I mean is I do not rally around a topic but around the principle of a subject. I may pick a certain topic that several subjects will naturally fit into but I do not try to contrive lessons to fit a topic.

Once or twice a year I will do a study on a subject and the subjects will naturally integrate, such as a study on Bach (which we are starting this week). HisStory, geography, literature, English and music are all naturally covered as we read through the book, adding to our enjoyment and understanding of the life and times (and character) of Bach. The subjects add to our understanding of cause and effect, of the things that made Bach who he was. They are not disjointed facts but parts of the whole under the principle of individuality. We see how, where, with whom and when he lived contributed to his character. Along with this study we continue our math, Bible and science separately.

The subjects are beautiful and unique. I don’t want my children to miss out on the treasures that each subject contains. 

I hope this post will spark some conversation regarding the topic.  I will begin over the next several weeks to go over each of the individual subjects, beginning with history. Our Thursday chat will also correspond to the weekly subject.

Homeschooling high schoolers with confidence

I enjoyed Cindy Rushton’s last seminar so much I wanted to tell you about her seminar coming up this weekend. It’s called “Does Homeschooling Through High School Scare You?” Her workshops are live chats and a web site with links to articles and lots of info that you can have access to in the future. Here’s what she says about it:

Cindy Rushton

Want to homeschool–but wonder about what to do about High School? Do you want practical, real-life, proven ideas for teaching throughout the high school years? Or, maybe you could just use a big dose of encouragement? Real help is available from real homeschool moms who guarantee to help you to homeschool the easy way through the high school years. 

 There are two ways to enjoy it. You can attend live for F*R*E*E. That’s right. It’s free to attend live and get in on all the great door prizes and goodies she gives away. Or you can buy a ticket. This will give you access to the recorded audio, chat transcriptions, spacial giveaways and lots more from the membership site.

It would be a good thing to attend even if you don’t have kids in high school yet. We are all looking to the future and her seminar may be just what you need to hear.

Click here to read all about it and to sign up. Hope you will consider going. Her semiars are always lots of fun and chock full of great information.

Curriculum

book stackSo once again, I’m sort of at a loss here to write something I haven’t already said. This blog is all about the Biblical Principle Approach, so you can poke around the archives ad nauseum and read more than you probably ever wanted to know.

The Biblical Principle Approach places the Word of God at the center of every lesson. Here it is, in my own words.

What is BPA?

BPA is short for Biblical Principle Approach, a method of Biblcal reasoning that places the Word of God at the center of every subject.

  • It is a governmental way of thinking, that is: who or what is controlling, directing, regulating or restraining?
  • It is a lifestyle of scholarship and Christian character.
  • It is a Biblical method of education, similar in execution to the Hebraic model.
  • It develops young men and women who are able to reason from God’s Word for themselves.
  • It is distinctive in its commitment to American Christian education.
  • It highlights His Story, a recognition of Providential history.

Again, please read here or visit this site, this site or the blogs in my sidebar.

Some things I have tried before (in various doses): Five in A Row, Konos, my own unit studies and Heart of Wisdom. There are too many reasons why I didn’t keep with any of these, but the gist of it is that I simply cannot do anything but BPA. It is too dear to me and I feel like once the door was opened to me and I saw the possibilities, I couldn’t do anything else.

Why did I choose BPA? Well, it was a journey here, beginning with using BPA as a student myself in high school. After much prayer and trying many things over the years, I settled into what is most comfortable for us. And really I use it because I believe it is the best. (But that’s my totally biased opinion. Ha!)

It is wonderful to home educate these days. There are so many options for curriculum and resources that one can be quite easily overwhelmed. If you are struggling with your curriculum choice, I encourage you to pray and ask the Lord for His Wisdom. He knows your children and your situation even better than you do. I pray this will be your most joyful and rewarding year yet, whatever your curriculum choice will be.