Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Eleven Homeschooling Tips (& Update On Max & Makeya)

"And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."
Deuteronomy 6:6-7

#11 In the Titus 2 Series

After struggling through 12 1/2 years of infertility anguish,
Kevin and I are SO abundantly blessed and eternally grateful to be parents.
We could never, in a million years, give God anywhere near enough praise
for the amazing, immeasurable gift...of Zachary.
We thank the dear Lord every, single day for him
and for allowing us to be his Mama and Daddy.

Homeschooling Zachary is, without a doubt, hands-down, one of my favorite parts of life.
I have no shadow of a doubt that this is what God has called me to do.
It is one of the most precious and dear callings of my life, 
and I am ever so grateful to be living in this season.
It was never even a choice for Kevin and me.
We just knew...from day one...that this is the path God wanted us to follow.
Zachary is absolutely worth whatever it takes to do this.

I think my most cherished part is just having that one-on-one time with him each day.
I actually look forward to the school year starting.
Even though, it is sad that another summer is nearly behind us,
and I am struck once again with the reality of how quickly he is growing up,
I am still happy to welcome a new season and a new school year.

We always wait until after Labor Day to start our school year.
We don't take as many breaks throughout the year,
and we try to be finished before or around the first week of June.
This way, he gets a full three month summer break,
like Kevin and I used to enjoy way back when we were in school.  
That seems like a long time ago!

I think they make it so hard on kids these days....just my opinion...
and we just prefer to do it this way.
It's just how we roll around here.

So, as we are still enjoying our last few weeks of summer break,
I wanted to share a few, little tips I have learned during our eight years of homeschooling so far.

#1.  Start each day with prayer.
I know this should be a no-brainer,
but this is one we've learned the hard way.
We absolutely have a smoother day,
and we start off in the right spirit and frame of mind,
when we enlist Heaven's resources by unlocking the door through asking for God's help...first.
He is always near and always faithful to see us through.
On days we do not seek God's assistance, we struggle unnecessarily.

#2.  Add Scripture to each school day.
We are blessed to use the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum.
I cannot say enough good about it.
Of course, it is not without critics, and there are those who find it flawed,
(and, yes, we have found errors in score keys...SO frustrating!),
but, as a whole, we are very satisfied with it.
The thing I love most about it is that it is chock-full of God's Word.
They break it down into 12 packets (called P.A.C.E.s) in each of the 6 subjects each school year,
(Math, Social Studies, Science, Word Building, English, & Literature),
and in each packet, Zachary is required to memorize a Bible verse.
That is 72 Bible verses he is memorizing per school year!
He is absolutely hiding God's Word in his heart...
Words that he will be able to call back throughout life as he needs them.
This is invaluable to Kevin and me...and will be to him, too.

#3.  Carve your own path.
Don't worry about what everyone else is doing.
You can become dizzy trying to keep up with other homeschoolers,
their curriculum choices, 
their individualized schedules,
and their methods of teaching.
Do what works for you...and for your child(ren).
Every child is different, and so is every parent.
Be unique and unapologetic for being that way.
No one knows your child(ren) like you do.
Seek God's guidance for what will work best, follow His lead, and go for it.

#4.  Stick to curriculum that makes you comfortable.  
I am not one who likes to dabble in combining a mish-mash of curricula.
I'm not saying this is everyone else's preference.
I am just saying it is mine.
 To me, it is confusing to mix curriculum.
I know others who are perfectly capable of doing this, and it works great for them.
I say, more power to them.  :)
Again, stick to what makes you comfortable.
If you are at ease combining 2 or 3 or 4 or more formats, then, by all means, 
do what works for you and your household, without feeling the need 
to adhere to anyone else's standards or personal preferences.
The path is difficult enough.
Simplify it when possible.
We started out with A.C.E. in Kindergarten, because I attended several A.C.E. schools
while growing up, and I was familiar with the format and liked it.
We decided to try it with Zachary, and he ended up loving it,
so we stuck with it all these years.
Not saying I won't and don't supplement with books and other resources 
that are complimentary to and supportive of what he is already learning.
But, as for our basic curriculum, we are both comfortable with this, so we stick with it.
I don't even delve into researching other avenues for two reasons....
1.  My philosophy is, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
2.  I become confused and stressed out when I am given too many choices....
what can I say....it is just a hang-up of mine, 
so I avoid putting myself in that position by not attending curriculum fairs 
and over-researching other choices.
We are content and thankful.
Try to reach your own place of contentment, whatever that may be, then stay there, 
regardless of what everyone else is doing or who advises you to follow their lead.

#5.  Approach homeschooling gratefully.
I know this is not the easiest choice you could make.
Tackling the responsibility of your child(ren)'s education is a daunting task.
It looms up before me sometimes like an insurmountable feat, 
and one for which I feel extremely inadequate and incapable.
I lean hard upon GOD and His wisdom and strength....every, single day.
When you feel overwhelmed, don't give up.
Remind yourself how precious it is to be granted the gift of this privilege.
Praise God for each moment you are blessed to sit by their side(s)
and be in complete control of what is being embedded into their pure minds.
Do you realize how valuable this is?
To know that you are the filter God is using to keep out the trash and deceptions?
Thank Him that He chose you....to be their guardian, to direct their thought patterns,
to instill His love, mercy, and grace.
How very blessed we are!
And, you will find that if you are grateful, they will be, too.
More lessons are caught than taught.

#6.  Expect hard times.
Let's face it.
It's not all peaches and cream.
There are moments of extreme frustration,
overwhelming anxiety,
and overflowing tears.
Last year in 7th grade, Zach and I both struggled so much with math.
Honestly, I remember sitting there one morning at 2:00 am,
still trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.
Come to find out, there was an error in the test key!
But, I didn't find out until the next day.
I cried...hard...feeling completely unequal to the task and like such a complete failure.
There will be moments like these...I can assure you.
Those of you who are veterans are screaming, "Amen!".
I can almost hear you!
If you brace yourself ahead of time and acknowledge the reality of hiccups,
you will have a much more peaceful day...and school year.
Be prepared for opposition.
You will not always be applauded for your decision to homeschool.
There are many naysayers, skeptics, and critics.
There are the liberal-minded who believe we are all a bunch of fruit cakes.
Do you care?
Does it matter?
At the end of the day, who is truly accountable for what is allowed and not allowed into your child's realm?
This may not be the most popular path,
it may not be the path of least resistance,
but, if God has called you to it, it is the path for you,
and you will never walk alone.
And truly, do we really need anyone else's approval?
Who are we really trying to please and serve anyway?

#7.  Know when to take a break.
There have been moments I have been in tears, Zach has been in tears,
and God has whispered to me that it was approaching the boiling point,
and we needed to give it a rest.
Just walk away from it all.
To continue to sit there and torture yourselves is just too much.
Let it go....for a time.
It will be there waiting for you when you get back.
Go do something fun...either together or apart...but leave the school setting....
even for 15 minutes.
Take deep breaths.
Seek God's help.
Come back refreshed and renewed and ready to tackle the challenge again.
  No one is holding you to a strict schedule.
Thank God for that.
Do what you need to do to make it through each school day....
no matter how long it takes or who does or does not approve of your methods.
Who is raising this kid anyway?

#8.  Insert laughter into each day.
Make it a point to laugh...and to make your child laugh.
Lighten up...on yourself...and on them.
Making it fun gets the job done.
Be silly...and goofy...and comical.
Lighten the moment and lighten the load.
I can't tell you how many times Zach and I have burst into uncontrollable laughter,
after particularly trying moments in which our strength and determination were sorely put to the test.
Go easy on yourself.
Don't sweat the small stuff.

#9.  Be flexible.
Don't be so dead-set on keeping to your schedule or routine.
Use a pencil, instead of a pen, when making lesson plans.
I know it is important to stay focused and on track,
but, don't be opposed to shaking things up a bit.
There is more than one way to learn.
Instead of sitting inside doing Science, why not take it outside for the day?
Sit and listen to the birds you are studying about.
Lie down in the grass and watch the cumulus cloud formations, instead of just reading about them.
Grab a bubble wand and a jar of bubbles and head outside to watch the wind scatter them.
Take a safe walk with your child(ren) to complete your physical ed. requirement.
Enlist their help and make hanging laundry on the line a family home economics and living green project.
Turn on the garden hose and give the dog a bath together, putting those animal science lessons to use.

Zachary's lizard-on-a-string-leash project...
(Yes, he is very careful not to harm them and to turn them loose when he is done...
I'm sure they are never quite the same, though!)

And when (not if) interruptions occur, believe me, they will....
unexpected visitors who are truly clueless about the 180 school day per year requirement,
aging parents who need immediate attention,
friends who call on you for help, etc....
just relax, and remember, God's thoughts are far above ours,
and He always knows what is best.
The work will get done, and you will survive.
Don't allow your plans to interrupt God's purpose.

#10.  Seize the moments.
Children grow up way too fast.
One day, these homeschooling days will be memories.
Talk to some Moms who wish they were still in your shoes.
One day, you will miss this...
so don't miss it now.
Give it your full attention.
Be in the moment.
Live in now.
Turn off the phone.
That includes cell phones.
Leave your laptop in the other room...unplugged.
Look your child(ren) in the eye.
Thoroughly convince them that they are absolutely the most important thing in the world to you....
that nothing on earth is more precious or dear than sitting there giving them your full,
undivided attention, spending those moments...with them.
Nothing speaks "I love you" louder than that.
Don't ever, ever allow them to believe that homeschooling them is a drudgery to you.
Don't forget how precious one moment with them truly is.
Thank God that you are the one who is blessed to hear them call you "mama".
Thank Him that they are here...with you...being taught from a heart full of love,
instead of by a stranger in a crowded classroom.
Use this close, one-on-one time to really connect with them.
Let them talk to you.
Listen with all your heart.
Don't interrupt.
Let them finish emptying their hearts.
Love them unconditionally....no matter what they do or tell you.
Recognize that you are molding their future by the way you handle things now.
Take advantage of every moment to love them,
to teach them, to instill God and His Word into them, 
to shape them into the person He wants them to be.

#11.  Be fearless.
God hasn't give you the spirit of fear, 
but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
(2 Timothy 1:7)
Don't approach homeschooling fearfully.
Don't worry about messing up.
You will.
It is a fact of life.
Accept it.
It's okay.
Don't try to fit into anyone else's mold.
Make your own niche, and stay in it.
Blaze your own trail.
Be courageous.
You can do this.
What you are doing is a sweet-smelling offering to Almighty God.
This is what He has called you to do.
And you are doing it well, my friend.
Don't focus on yesterday's mess.
Apologize if you need to.
Children are people.
They have feelings.
They deserve apologies, too.
Can I just tell you how many times I have had to tell Zach I am sorry?
I once told Kevin that I think Zachary is the most apologized-to child on earth!
By me, that is.
Kevin has to say, "I'm sorry", a lot less frequently than I do.
Learn from it, clean it up, and walk on.
Be the person you want your child to become.
If you want them to learn manners, treat them mannerly.
If you want them to show respect, respect them and their space, privacy, and feelings.
If you want them to understand God's amazing, covering grace...shower them lavishly with it.
If you want them to say I'm sorry when wrong, acknowledge your own wrongs to them.
If you want them to be grateful, show appreciation for all they do.
If you want them to forgive others, quickly forgive their wrongdoings.
Don't be afraid to be human with your child.
They need to see that and to know that it is okay to feel.
Cry when you need to.
I'm not saying we should burden them with adult-sized problems
or tell them all that is in our hearts.
I am saying that they need to see that Mama cries, 
but she picks herself up by the bootstraps,
smiles through her tears, 
keeps the faith,
and carries on....
not allowing fear to hinder her from her goal.
If you plow through this with courage, so will they.

Enjoy the journey, my friend.
It will be over all too soon.

May God bless us all with a happy, healthy 2014-15 school year!

(To read #1 in this series, entitled "Eleven Ways To Bless Your Husband", click here.
To read #2 in this series, entitled, "Eleven De-Cluttering & Organizing Tips", click here.
To read #3 in this series, entitled "Eleven Steps To A Stronger, Happier Marriage", click here.
To read #4 in this series, entitled, "Eleven Things To Remember During Infertility", click here.
To read #5 in this series, entitled, "Eleven Ways To Make Your Home More Peaceful", click here.
To read #6 in this series, entitled, "Eleven Ways To Be More Frugal, click here.
To read #7 in this series, entitled, "Eleven Steps To Inner Peace", click here.
To read #8 in this series, entitled, "Eleven Times To Be Quiet", click here.
To read #9 in this series, entitled, "Eleven Reasons I Am A Stay-At-Home Homeschooling Mom", click here.
To read #10 in this series, entitled, "Eleven Ways To Reduce Cleaning Stress", click here.) 
Please keep praying for the Brown family...
especially 2 yr. old Max.
He has been battling an infection and fever, possibly caused by the breathing tube,
 and had to be put in isolation.
Thank God, the fever is down, and he is now off isolation.
He is opening his eyes and communicating by shaking and nodding his head.
Makeya continues to progress and was able to be
taken outside for a ride around the park by Steven & Shyla
and even got to go shopping in the gift shop!!
God is hearing...please keep praying!!!

If  anyone would like to send the Brown family a card of encouragement,
please contact me, and I will provide the mailing address to you, individually.

If anyone would like to make a monetary donation to this family,
there are two ways to donate.
1.  An account has been set up for this purpose at a local bank.

Please mail donations to:

Citizen's Deposit Bank & Trust
P. O. Box 9
Vanceburg, KY  41179
Please write "For Brown Family" on the memo line of check.
2.  You may donate online by clicking HERE.

Most of all, please continue to lift them to our Heavenly Father in prayer.

(To read previous posts about the Brown Family,
 and 3RD UPDATE,
and 8TH UPDATE.)


  1. My biggest homeschooling trial yet was not when I started teaching 2 kids in different grades, like I thought it would be. It was when I threw #3 into the mix, who is just a toddler and needs my attention while I'm teaching. THAT is where I'm at. We are just on our 2nd day of the school year, but I have got to find something to occupy him longer than a puzzle or book. Other than that, I love homeschooling...well, except maybe the math class battles we have periodically. (They're not really "battles"...just frustrations.) Still, I wouldn't trade it for anything. Like you, my husband and I never even considered public school. We just always new we were to homeschool. :)

    Thank you for the update on the Browns. I will continue to pray.

    1. Oh, wow! That does sound like a challenge!! Bless your heart....I trust the Lord will lead you to something that will really interest him and keep him occupied so you can focus on the other two. I can't imagine how difficult that would be. So grateful for you and your encouragement here. :) Thank you for continuing to pray for the Brown family. It is so appreciated!

  2. Thank you for the updates. I'm continuing in prayer for the family through all of these horrible trials. May they feel God's nearness and peace during these days.
    Our children all went to school at our church using ACE curriculum. I can't praise it enough. Yes it has it's faults but what doesn't in this world? Our oldest is an R.N. Our middle child is a systems analyst for the state and the youngest is a translator in English, Japanese and Chinese at a university in Tokyo. All graduated from college, the oldest two with bachelor degrees by the age of 20. The youngest with a masters degree at 19! All with ACE as their foundation. I pray you will continue use to enjoy the blessings of participating in your sons education.

    1. It was so nice to see you here today, Betsy. I am always so encouraged by your visits! It is wonderful to hear from someone who has used ACE and loved it so much. Wow! Your children have all become so successful in life, and it is so encouraging to know that ACE provided a good foundation for their later education. So thankful to hear this. God bless you in a special way. :)

  3. I am so happy your homeschooling is going well. ACE sounds like the best plan. Thank you for sharing your lovely post with us here at “Tell Me a Story.” http://letmetelluastory.blogspot.com/ Trying my third try to pass your capcha.

    1. Thank you, Hazel. Yes, in my opinion, it is the best!! God bless you. :)

  4. Thank you Cheryl for keeping everyone updated on The Brown Family! I think of them plus pray for them often. Im glad Makeya is making good progress. Poor Max, sending extra prayers for this little guy, I can't imagine the familys pain and suffering. May God Bless this family.

    1. Thank you so much, Carol. Your prayers, kindness, and support are so appreciated. I am passing along every message to the family. God bless you.

  5. While these are all great tips, #1 is the most important, in my experience. My kids are teenagers now, but I remember when they were younger we were struggling one day and my son said, "Mom, I know what's wrong: we forgot to pray!" Out of the mouths of babes, right? Thanks for the great tips!

    1. Aw! That is so sweet! Yes, out of the mouth of babes. I learn way more than I ever teach. Thank you for stopping by and for leaving encouragement behind. :)

  6. I love when I see encouragement for homeschooling parents. Because of some personal lifestyle changes, we sent our kids to school for the first time last year, but during the six years we homeschooled - oh my, did I ever NEED the encouragement. So thankful for voices like yours that are holding out hope again and again, Cheryl. Bless you.

    1. Thank you so much, dear friend. I appreciate your voice, too, and all of the encouragement I find at your place. God bless you. :)

  7. Thanks for sharing at So Much at Home. I love this post. My daughter finishes up this year, so this will be the last year of our family's homeschool journey. I wouldn't take anything for the special moments.
    Thanks for the Brown family update. We are still praying.
    God bless.

    1. Aw, Chris! That must be a very bittersweet feeling to know that your daughter is nearing the end of her homeschool journey. I dread to see that day, because I just LOVE this season of life so very much. I feel so blessed to be able to do this every day. I trust God will bless you as you transition into this chapter closing and into the next season of life. Much love to you!!

  8. My oldest daughter finished homeschooling two years ago and the other four are hot on her heels. I love to have the home with me. I'm blessed as my daughter works along side her farther on the farm. So she is still home in a sense. There are fantastic tips here and I shall be reflecting on them for a while.

    1. Thank you so much, Marie! I am so happy you stopped by. Thankful your dear daughters are still there at home with you. I am sure you have so much wisdom to share from your years of homeschooling. I feel like I learn way more than I ever teach! God bless you and your family. :)

  9. Hi Cheryl, Just wanted to let you know that this post was featured on the Art of Home-Making Mondays! I know it will be an encouragement to many :) Please join us again this week and happy Monday to you! :)

    1. Thank you SO much, JES! What an encouragement this was! I am so grateful to you for including this. :) God bless you!!

  10. Thanks for sharing.
    It is very true that the hardest part is deciding if you are going jump into homeschooling and commit yourself to be a big part of your child's education. But once you see the advantages and benefits homeschooling brings, it'll be all worth the time and effort.


    1. Thanks for stopping by, Anne! God bless you.