Elementary

Nature Studies

Nature studies is a thing. It’s a good thing. Preschoolers do well with the “oh look” method of nature studies. You may want some structure and books, but beyond them every outing becomes an informal science lab, no beakers required. If those are cumulonimbus clouds, we’ll have to go inside.  Bicyclists are fast and have a lot more mass than you. The sun is hot and a major source of ultraviolet radiation as well as visible light, so wear your hat. You can pick all the dandelions and violets you like; these purple berries are pokeweed and will probably make you throw up, so don’t eat them.

Be Encouraged, Homeschool Teachers! | Homeschool Teacher Appreciation Week

Before I dragged myself out of bed and put on my jeans and shirt, I knew I needed to put something else on even more important. I needed to clothe myself with truth. When parenting or homeschooling are overwhelming, my biggest battle usually isn’t logistical in nature; it’s fighting the unbelief and the lies the Enemy loves to throw at me...

Keeping the Big Picture| Five ways to balance academics with God’s gifting in your children

What priorities do you have for your children? Besides academics, what do you want them to learn that will serve them their whole life long? Since God has given each of my children gifts in certain areas, I want to be sensitive to His leading us to opportunities that help them develop those gifts. I also want my children to have a vision for using those gifts for God’s kingdom.  

Six Types of Bills Homeschoolers Should Watch in 2015

Each year, HSLDA’s Federal Relations team reviews the many bills (around 7 to 11 thousand) that are introduced in the United States Congress—searching for language that might affect the freedom of homeschoolers across the U.S.

Here are six bills in the 114th Congress that we think you should know about...

Hold on to the Encouragers in Your Life

A couple of weeks ago, my family had the painful task of saying goodbye for now to my Uncle Gene. He was a father of eight and a husband of more than fifty years to his childhood sweetheart and my dad’s only sibling. He was a teacher, a preacher, a principal of a Christian school, a Sunday school teacher, head of a board of deacons and a friend to many, attested to by the line of people through the sanctuary and out the door waiting to pay their respects. More than any of that, he was a child of God. During his eulogy the pastor said repeatedly that Uncle Gene would’ve wanted less talk about him and more about Jesus.

Falling in Love with Pharaohs

If you were hanging out at our house, you’d notice that our study of ancient Egypt started with a Daddy story about the brave Thutmose the Third and his sneaky tactics that won the Battle of Megiddo. We looked at pictures on Pinterest of Thutmose’s wives’ jewelry, including a type of bezel ring that we could – and did – make with my jewelry supplies. We talked about what a cartouche was and figured out one for Meg, using a chart of real hieroglyphs. Then we drew her cartouche on the ring with a permanent marker.

Reflections On My Homeschool Experience—What Didn’t Work So Well

In my last post, I shared a few of the things I remember from my childhood that were particularly effective or enjoyable. Now it’s time to mull over the things that didn’t work out so well. While I think that value can be found in all work or study, I do think it’s helpful to identify the less successful practices so I don’t end up wasting my time or energy (or my children’s patience!) on what might turn out to be mere busywork.

Speed Drills and Perfectionism

Ah, speed drills. How we love to hate them.

When I was little, I remember enjoying speed drills. Like Tracy, I was one of those strange children who actually liked math. I was known for doing fairly long sums in my head from about the age of five (or so my grandma tells me). I loved to be tested to see if I could solve the problems that were presented to me. But speed drills were even better: they were like a personal competition, where I could race through the problems and try to beat my own “high score.”

Living with Classical Music

My daughter Meg requested “a clock with glowy numbers” (i.e. a digital clock) because her room at Nana's house has one, and because it's cool. About that time, my vintage childhood alarm clock stopped going off at the right time reliably, which is super annoying if you want go somewhere. So I bought a cute, round, bright red, working alarm clock and Meg inherited my old one. It does indeed have glowing numbers, and – get this – it has a radio. When you push buttons, music comes out! It's just like Mom's ipod!

Learning and Surviving on the Road - 5 ways to have a fun and educational road trip with your kids

I have to admit I was not looking forward to our road trip last week. Many months ago, I committed to driving from Indianapolis to both Dallas and San Antonio to visit relatives who live there. The idea greatly appealed to me until the reality sunk in, shortly before our time of departure. As I packed our bags, I was definitely looking forward to the destination, but not exactly the journey itself. (Sorry Ralph!) 

But We’ve Always Done It That Way!

Some time after we were married, my husband remarked on how much he appreciated good home cooking, thoughtfully-packed lunches, and fresh baked goods. He especially liked the chocolate chip cookies, which I made faithfully for him because I knew they were just about his favorite dessert. However, he did wonder whether I had found a new recipe for them, because he didn’t remember chocolate chip cookies tasting quite the way I made them. Was I using the classic Nestle Toll House Cookie recipe, he wondered?

Breaking the Ice and Tadpole Funerals - Introducing Rachelle Reitz to the Blog!

Our homeschool was moving along in good form until in January we couldn't get the beans to grow for the biology lab. Science experiments, like art projects, already make me want to bang my head against a wall for awhile because they take time, make a mess, require advance planning, and never turn out the way I envisioned. But they are real learning. Right?! Right.

Daughters and Mysteries

I’ve been considering how being in our particular family affects our girls’ education. I don’t know if this sounds familiar, but I always suffer from this lurking fear that I’m not normal. (Well, obviously, but maybe that’s a bad thing?) I’ve always told the girls that God sent them to me. So I started thinking about what I learned from my parents, who also have personalities and backgrounds and came from families.

The Problem is I Need Three of Me

My parents, heaven bless them, recently left sunny coastal California and came to the icy tundra that is Indianapolis in winter. They came to watch our four kids for a few days so my husband and I could get away for a very timely respite.

Last fall my mom texted me to ask what we wanted for our winter birthdays and Christmas. After giving it some thought, I replied emphatically, "We don't want stuff! We want a break!! Please come!"

Playing to Our Strengths

While it’s true that a certain amount of parenting involves just staying the course and dutifully slogging through the inevitable rough patches (who really enjoys staying up nights with a sick child or wiping endless runny noses?—yet it needs to be done), I think we can often fall into the assumption that some things just have to be done because That’s the Way Things Are. We hold certain parenting truths to be self-evident because they seem to work so well, but what works for others may not always be best for us.

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