"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up."

Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Friday, July 30, 2010

Contemplating Truth

    Today is our official last day of summer. I will miss the laid back beginning to each day, the time spent connecting with friends, the carefree decision making, the freedom for extra projects, and the hot summer sun. Actually, I won't miss the latter part but, we do enjoy our summertime!
    So as I think about another school year on our doorstep,  what am I excited about?

"Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.  She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.  She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also,  and he praises her; 'Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all'.  Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates." Proverbs 31: 25-31

"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on  toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" Philippians's 3:13-14 

"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; And by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." Proverbs 24:3-4

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Notes From the Practicum

Last week I attended the Classical Conversations Practicum here in Houston and was immensely blessed.  Thanks to some amazing friends who stayed with my three boys (and their own children) I was able to benefit from all the conference had to offer.  It was a blessing to see friends from our past campus, current campus and to meet new friends as well.
I thought I would share a little bit of what I learned there.
"Children are souls to be nurtured, not a product to be measured" was the overall theme to much of what we learned about.  That as home schoolers, we are to consider the nature of children as we teach them the art of learning.  Proverbs 22:15 says "foolishness is bound up in the heart of the child".  As such, we must be educating to their nature.  So are you home schooling in freedom or fear? Psalm 78:72 uses David the shepherd as an example for us "with integrity of heart, with skillful hands he led them".  That is the goal.  Also, we teach so that our children will "use knowledge and understanding to discern beauty, goodness and truth".  Dorothy Sayers believes in a modern education, "they learn everything except the art of learning".  So we must strive that they see the relevance in everything.  And everything points back to God.  We must contemplate the nature, purpose and propriety of everything.  
All this and more was incredibly helpful to encourage me for another full year of educating my children.  Lastly, Andrew Kern said "Why are we wasting our time with knowledge and power when we could have wisdom and virtue?".

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Our natural reason looks at marriage and turns up its nose and says, 'Alas! Must I rock the baby? wash its diapers? make its bed? smell its stench? stay at nights with it? take care of it when it cries? heal its rashes and sores? and on top of that care for my spouse, provide labor at my trade, take care of this and take care of that? do this and do that? and endure this and endure that? Why should I make such a prisoner of myself?'

What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful and despised duties in the spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels.  Its says, 'O God, I confess I am not worthy to rock that little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of a child and its mother. How is it that I without any merit have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving thy creature and thy most precious will? Oh, how gladly will I do so. Though the duty should be even more insignificant and despised, neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor will distress me for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in thy sight.'" --Martin Luther qtd. in The Shaping of a Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliot, p. 87
 Quote from Girl Talk

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Choosing Curriculum

Each year, this time of year, I spend a lot of time contemplating.  My time doesn't go to thoughts of world peace or current economic politics but to something far greater.  I spend the summer thinking over the teaching and training of my children in the admonition of the Lord.  Specifically, home school curriculum.

There is so much material available for home school families, for which I am grateful.  But the overwhelming choices make it difficult to decide which is the best tool for our family.  There is no such thing as the perfect material, only the best tool to meet your families individual needs.   There are a couple questions I ask.
Does the curriculum...
1. meet my children's educational needs?
2. give a God-centered, not man centered, view of the world we live in?
3. is it appropriate for their specific level, not necessarily grade level but skill level?
4. is it worth my time and money?

I find the answer to these questions in different ways. Sometimes it's plain old research, word of mouth or browsing through the material itself.

So this is some of what we ended up with this year...

We are going on our third year of using Veritas and absolutely love it and recommend it.  A friend of mine was using it with her family and let me browse the material before I purchased our own.  After using the phonics museum kit to successfully teach my son how to read, I was grateful for it. Here are some of the things we liked about using the program...
~it was very easy to follow and teach
~my son enjoyed the activities and lesson plans
~the artwork included with the lessons exposed him to something real rather than a cartoon image
~it was a full bodied curriculum in that alongside of the phonics we worked on spelling and handwriting as well
~the primer books are some of the best children's Christian history books you will ever find
I could go on and on but I have used it with my eldest son and plan to use it with the next two.  This year (second grade) we are using more and more of the veritas material. From their Bible time lines to their reading comprehension programs, I don't think you can go wrong. Veritas pretty much is the standard for excellence.  My nieces were enrolled in a Christian academy the last couple of years and Veritas is what they used at the school, so I know it's trusted by many professionals.
So this year we ended up with a study of the Bible timeline, a spelling program, a cursive program (using practice from books of the Bible and catechism questions) and a beginning Latin program.

We have used Saxon math for the last three years and this year I'm introducing Nathan to it.  It's a firm foundation for math that a lot of homeschoolers and private schools alike trust it.

In addition to our enrollment in a classical conversations community, we'll be working through Story of the World workbooks this year.

Whewwwww...I'm officially tired and the school year hasn't even started!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Classical Conversations

I'll share a little with you about our CC journey.  When we were considering joining (at that time the only campus was in Cypress), we decided that I had to see it as a need for Jacob's education.  When I visited a classroom, I was blown away. I was so impressed by what 4 and 5 year olds could memorize and learn.  They were developing presentation skills and they were being challenged and sharpened by fellow students, all within the context of teaching through the lens of the Bible and with their parents alongside of them.  I was immediately welcomed into a community of mother's seeking the same thing I was. For one day a week, I would be surrounded by like-minded moms wanting to teach their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord and to do it well.  At that time, I was feeling particularly unequipt to teach my children, not unable, just unequipt. CC provided equipping for me.  As well as, the support network to challenge and sharpen me.

We joined and were immensely blessed beyond words.  The commute (one hour one way) was killer. Thankfully, a campus much closer opened up.  At this campus there was a need for a tutor position. Because I was the only parent who had participated in the program before, I thought I could be helpful to our campus and serve them with the example I had been given.  Our new campus was exactly what we were looking for, our home school community, in our community!  We all developed sweet friendships and learned great truths.  As long as we are able to, we will be a part of a CC community.  I see it as a NEED to my children's education for these reasons...
~they hold me accountable to the subjects I usually neglect; geography, fine arts, Latin, science, etc.
~they provide my children with the opportunity to present materials to their peers
~it is a place where I can receive more training and equipping for homeschooling
~it is easy to teach the same material to many of my children at the same time
~I benefit from other Mom's expertise in areas I am not familiar with
~my children are spurred on by fellow students

I really could keep going with the reasons I love CC but you get the point.

In a typical 3 hour session (they do go by fast!), we had a structure to our learning. My time has been spent mostly with the 4-5 year olds so some of the older classes might look a little different.  We begin our class with designated subjects. So it may look like this...30 min. devoted to geography,  30 min. devoted to fine arts, 30 min. devoted to science projects, and 30 min devoted to new grammar work (the memorization of new facts), 30 min. devoted to presentations and 30 min. of review.  For the little ones, I try to throw in some break and snack time in addition, they really need it!
In terms of cost, the greatest expenses will always be the tuition, and purchasing the materials to begin with. Building upon your collection year by year helps minimize the cost but there are a few basics as parent and even as a tutor that are essential.  For Foundations, I would say I spent approximately $200 in startup materials and each year I spend $75 for additional materials.  For Tutor materials, there were a few extra books that I had to buy and they cost about $35, everything else I used from what I had previously purchased.
In terms of time, preparing for your class doesn't consume much more time that what you are already doing to prepare your own children.  My method for teaching last year was to start a week early in teaching the material with Jacob, and by the time I had to tutor the class, I was already familiar with the grammar.  In all, I would say I spent an extra 2-3 hours a week preparing for my class. The reason for that is because I'm already preparing by going through the material with my own children. Remember the tutor is called that and not teacher because the tutor's job is to demonstrate to parents (in the class with their children) different techniques for mastering memorization of grammar work. It is NOT the tutor's job to teach everything there is to learn about that grammar work nor is it their responsibility to get the children mastering the memorization of that information. That job belongs to the parents.
In terms of experience, EVERYONE at my campus last year was new and had never before seen a classroom in practice (except me).  And we had phenomenal tutors at our campus.  If you love children, if you're excited about education and if you can think of creative ways to get children/parents memorizing grammar facts, you CAN do it!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Praying Wife

This week in the Completing Him Challenge the call is to prayerfully consider our husbands.

I'm especially loving this challenge and doing it in several different ways.

It was suggested that we find and use symbols to help us remember to pray throughout the day, whatever that symbol may be.  I really liked the idea of using your wedding ring to remind you to pray for your husband.  Just think about it, how many times do you spin your ring, take it off to wash dishes, etc.?  When you touch, see or feel your wedding ring, say a prayer for the man you love.

To begin, first I  asked Ian for his specific prayer requests, to know how to pray for him better.  Second,  I compiled a list, taken from the book "The Power of a Praying Wife".  I use the list to pray scripture for Ian.  God's Word is profitable for teaching, reproof, for correction and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16).  So I love to pray His Word.  I want to share this list with you, although it is by no means exhaustive in all subjects concerning prayer for our husbands nor is it complete with all scripture reference. Just a good starting place...so pray for your husbands.

His faithHe said to them, "Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you."  Matthew 17:20, James 1:6-8, Romans 5:1

His workLet the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! Psalm 90:17, Psalm 1:3

His financesAnd my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19, Luke 12:29-31

His sexuality Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.9Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4

His affectionsIn the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church Ephesians 5:28-29

His temptationsNo temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

His mindFor though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 2 Corinthians 3-5, Ephesians 1:17-18

His fearsThere is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18, 2 Timothy 1:7, Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 35:4

His protectionThe LORD will keep  your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 121:8  Psalm 17:5, Proverbs 3:21-23

His trialsIn this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7, But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me.Psalm 55:16-18

His integritylet not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Proverbs 3:3-4, Proverbs 28:6

His reputationIn the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16, Matthew 7:18-19

His relationshipsBut I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you Matthew 5:44 and, God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you." 1 Corinthians 5:13

His parentingfor the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:12 and, Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
Cross references:
His pastTherefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:22-23, Revelations 21:5, Isaiah 43:18-19

His marriageTwo are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 1 Corinthians 7:10-11

His emotionsWhoever trusts in his own mind are a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. Proverbs 28:26

His walkO LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; Psalm 15:1-2, Isaiah 33:15-16

His talkLet no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29, Ecclesiastes 10:12

His obedienceBut this command I gave them: 'Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.' Jeremiah 7:23, Proverbs 3:1-3