Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Bronze Bow

Tomes for Tots

Historical fiction with Christianity as its theme, The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare is a gem of a book. The 1962 Newberry Award winner deals with conflicting loyalties, making sacrifices, overcoming prejudices and anger, and finally submitting those feelings to Christ.

Daniel is a young Jewish boy whose parents have been killed by the Roman oppressors. Fleeing an abusive situation as the apprentice of a cruel blacksmith, he is taken into the band of Rosh, a zealot and an outlaw who says that he is taking from the rich in order to build up an army to fight the Romans. This aim appeals to Daniel and his consuming revenge for his parents' deaths.

Daniel has left in his village his elderly grandmother and his sister Leah, who was traumatized by her parents' deaths and never leaves the house. When their grandmother dies, Daniel must make a tough decision of whether to abandon his rebel life or to abandon his helpless sister.

Adding to the intrigue of this book is Daniel's unlikely relationship with Joel and his sister Malthace. Joel, expected to become a famous scribe or rabbi, is also taken in by the romantic notion of Rosh and his vengeance on their oppressors. The three of them form a band whose symbol is the bronze bow, taken from Psalm 18:34: He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. More people are added to the band as the action intensifies throughout the book.

Interwoven throughout the incidents in Daniel's life are his encounters with Jesus, some taken from scripture and some fictionalized. This book does an excellent job of allowing one to see and feel what Galilee must have been like when Jesus walked there, and also shows how his teachings were revolutionary in a way different from what most Jews would have anticipated.

I would recommend this book for tweens or teenagers (there is violence); I myself enjoyed it and never found myself thinking that I was reading a book written for children. The Bronze Bow would make an excellent read-aloud and should spark some great discussion on what Jesus means to us.

Happy Reading!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Happy Habits of a Homeschooler

I thought that today's Heart of the Matter meme would be ideal for getting intentional about habits I'd like to incorporate into our upcoming official homeschooling. When I think about our homeschooling, so many thoughts and activities swirl around that it's hard to carve out and prioritize what we should be doing and what will make it run more smoothly. Of course, I'm sure we'll discover many more habits to incorporate as we go through the process. Here is what I've thought should become habits at Seven Pillars Academy.

  • Having devotional time to start each day. Reading aloud Catherine Vos's The Child's Story Bible, prayer, and Bible songs would help to instill Biblical values and would start each day off with God.
  • Doing scripture memorization. I think that I'll combine the verses we'll do with A Reason for Handwriting with the scripture memory system I wrote about here.
  • Keeping a daily agenda on a whiteboard. I know from teaching high school and attending a myriad of meetings that things go much more smoothly if everyone knows what to expect. I'll write our daily schedule on the whiteboard so that Emily Anne (and eventually Will) will know what the day will hold.
  • Reading on long car trips. We have gotten too much in the habit of plugging in a DVD for the children on long car trips, and I would like us to share the experience of hearing a book read aloud, whether read aloud by me while dad does the driving or a book on CD. I think this shared reading would make for great memories!

For more Happy Habits of Homeschoolers, visit the Heart of the Matter.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thirstin' for the Word Thursday

If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." (John 7:37b)

Feeling a bit parched? Searching to quench that thirst with an iced tea or Diet Coke? Dive into the Word for real refreshment!I try to be diligent in my Bible reading and am often rewarded by God's speaking to my heart through particular scriptures. I pause and sometimes even write them down. The reflection usually ends there, however. This year, I would like to pursue the verses that God lays on my heart by pondering how He wants me to apply these verses in my life.
Here is what spoke to me this week:
Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the tempe of the LORD with the men of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets--all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the LORD. The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD--to follow the LORD and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant. (2 Kings 23:1-3)
I find this story of Josiah, found in 2 Kings 22-23, fascinating. The temple of the Lord had been so neglected that King Josiah had to arrange to have it repaired. During the refurbishment, the Book of the Covenant was found. Do you understand that? The Bible had been lost, and no one was even looking for it! Not only had the kings not been reading it as they had been commanded, but apparently it wasn't even being used in the temple!
Josiah decided to correct this neglect by reading the Book of the Covenant to everyone and followed the reading with a recommitment to follow God's laws. This recommitment led to a purging of sin from the land.
We can see what effect the neglect of the Word had on Josiah's society. Josiah did away with pagan priests and tore down the shelters of the male shrine prostitutes (which were in God's temple!). He destroyed the altars used to sacrifice sons and daughters to Molech and destroyed other pagan altars. Josiah got rid of mediums and spiritualists and idols. I think we can see the parallels between a neglect of the Word in Josiah's culture and in our own today.
In microcosm, I can also see the effect of the neglect of the Word. On those days when I am "too busy" to get in my Bible reading and prayer, I lose my sense of priority. Often neglecting to read my Bible one day leads to another day without the Word and then another. Then my zeal for the Lord cools off and I find it all too easy to excuse sin. A famine of the Word in my life quenches the Spirit in my life.
How wonderful, though, that when we make that effort to return to our Bibles that God rewards our effort. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8a)
So, what verses have spoken to you this week? Post those verses on your own blog, along with how you see that God wants you to apply them in your life. Then, provide your link below so that we can drink from one another's wells of scripture.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tomes for Tots--Second Edition

Today's second edition of Tomes for Tots will again feature an adult book about reading and a children's book: Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox and Fancy Nancy: Bonjour, Butterfly by Jane O'Connor.

You may recognize the author of Reading Magic as the Australian author of many children's books. One of our favorites is Time for Bed, a book that I would recite from memory in a soft voice to lull my children to sleep. We would still have to (and still do) read it in the daytime for the beautiful animal pictures. What I didn't know about Mem Fox was that she has such a passion for reading aloud to children and that she was an Associate Professor of Literacy Studies for twenty-four years. This book is a parent-friendly volume of fifteen chapters, that focuses on the need for making time to read to our children, the three components of reading, and how to read aloud. Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book that sums up the magic of reading aloud to our children:

As we share the words and pictures, the ideas and viewpoints, the rhythms and rhymes, the pain and comfort, and the hopes and fears and big issues of life that we encounter together in the pages of a book, we connect through minds and hearts with our children and bond closely in a secret society associated with the books we have shared. The fire of literacy is created by the emotional sparks between a child, a book, and the person reading. It isn’t achieved by the book alone, nor by the child alone, nor by the adult who’s reading aloud—it’s the relationship winding between all three, bringing them together in easy harmony (10).

This insistence on the emotional nature of reading aloud, the unabashed passion for reading aloud to make a tremendous difference in a child's academic achievement, the solid advice on the three components of reading, and the how-to glimpses of Mem's own read-aloud sessions made this an informative and enjoyable book. I must admit that as much as I enjoyed this book, there was one section that gave me pause.

We should not suddenly become teachers of our children. We must be ourselves. . . . We absolutely must not attempt to teach our children formally before they start school. For parents to teach their own preschool children is the last straw. Teaching is the flip side of what works. Teaching before school kills the fun. Preschool children like their parents to be parents, not teachers. The roles are quite different, and it’s precisely the laid-back, hang-loose, let’s-have-fun, relaxed-and-comfortable role of a parent that is so powerful in helping children first to love reading and then be able to read by themselves (53-55).

When I first read these words, I felt my chest tighten in apprehension as I feared that the author might be writing a diatribe against homeschooling. However, as I finished reading the section and the book, I realized that she was not attacking homeschooling but the attitude that we all sometimes take toward learning to read. Too often we look at learning to read as a process that must be mastered in a particular formula, and too often we transmit our own anxiety to our children so that reading does not happen naturally as the result of being saturated in print and read-alouds but by a hard, dry, scholarly approach.

Another of the parts of the book that I loved was the chapter entitled "And Do It Like This," which, without intimidation, showed parents how to master the art of reading aloud. Imagine my glee when I found that on Mem Fox's website, she reads aloud this chapter, giving a real-life example of exactly what this is. Now admittedly, we may not all have Mem's charming Australian accent, but we can learn to use our own voices to capture our children's attentention.

Turning toward the children's book today, Bonjour Butterfly is the latest in the Fancy Nancy series. Fancy Nancy is very popular at our house. Of course, Nancy's utter fanciness--boas, canopies, French phrases--appeals to Emily Anne (and, I must admit, to me). However, there is a sweet solid underpinning of lessons learned, larger than frills and frippery, that makes even my husband a fan of these books.

Bonjour Butterfly is, of course, about butterflies. Nancy and her friend Bree love butterflies and are over the moon about Bree's butterfly-themed birthday party that is coming up soon. Unfortunately, Nancy soon discovers that the party is the same day as her grandparents' fiftieth anniversary celebration. The pouting that ensues in the next few pages is so real to life! Just as the other Nancy books do, though, this book ends with a renewed appreciation for family. It also ends with a trip to a butterfly garden, making the book a great introduction to a butterfly unit study (Check out this site with lots of information on butterflies and a bibliography of fiction and nonfiction butterfly books suitable for kindergartners!).

Happy Reading!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Literary Tea

Yesterday was a fun afternoon. Our Delta Kappa Gamma Society International's local chapter holds a scholarship fundraiser for college students majoring in education. Yesterday's event was our second annual Literary Tea. Each group of two or three members comes up with a book (usually a children's book) and uses that as their theme to decorate their table, complete with favors and one book for a giveaway. People are so creative in the books they choose, as well as their tablescapes. We bring china and crystal and have a buffet table of wonderful goodies. Each table is responsible for their tea. Here are pictures of the tables at yesterday's tea. You can click on the pictures to make them larger for more detail.

The picture above is our table. Our book was Gigi, God's Little Princess & the Royal Tea Party by Sheila Walsh. The book is about how Gigi tries to tell her best friend Frances that she is God's little princess, too.

This picture is of our place setting. You can see the pink boxes with silver crowns which held tiny melt-away mints. Our other favor was a bookmark with the verse from the beginning of the book: God chose you out of all the people on Earth as His cherished personal treasure. Deuteronomy 14:2. The bookmarks matched the place cards, which were also graced with a crown and had the guest's name and the description God's Princess.

This adorable spring-like table above was based on The Little Tree. We were lucky enough to have the Hungarian-born author present.

This table with all the gorgeous quilts is decorated around Alfreda's World. I had never heard of this book but can't wait to read it. It is the story of a Caucasian painter, Mary Whyte, who moved to a South Carolina barrier island. The book chronicles her friendship with a quilting group, whose members are descendants of African slaves.

This table was designed by a retired English teacher and another English teacher who is retiring this year. Many of their guests were either retired teachers or those who had been in the classroom many years. Their book was Mrs. McBloom, Clean Up Your Classroom! It was too cute!

This table was decorated around the book Miss Spider's Tea Party. Very appropriate, don't you think?

This adorable table decorated in snowflakes derived its theme from Snowflake Bentley. I thumbed through this book and will definitely be purchasing it next winter. It tells the story of real-life photographer Wilson Bentley, who was fascinated by snowflakes as a young boy and went on to study them and take photographs of them. The book tells an interesting story in itself and also includes interesting sidebar information about these beautiful crystalline structures. I didn't get the back of the table's chairs in the photographs, but they were decorated with scarves and snowflake ornaments.

This table was based on the David series of books by David Shannon. One of our members made the mischievous papier-mache David knocking over flower pots in the center of the table!

This table was decorated according to New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse's book Every Day's a Party. Their table was certainly festive!

I'm so sorry I neglected to get a picture of the last table. Its book was P is for Palmetto, an alphabet book chock full of historical and cultural information on South Carolina. There are several different state editions of these alphabet books, and I would recommend all highly. Emily Anne has P is for Palmetto, and Will has V is for Volunteer to honor Joel's Tennessee roots. Their favors were bags of grits with a recipe for Shrimp 'n' Grits, and the two little girls at the table were given place cards naming them as Palmetto Princesses.

I hope that you enjoyed your tour around our tea room and the tablescapes and books. I only wish I could share some of the delicious tea and goodies with you!

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the second edition of Tomes for Tots!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Things My Child Taught Me in Homeschool

Today's Heart of the Matter meme asks us to share what our children have taught us in homeschool lessons. Although we haven't yet been officially homeschooling, Emily Anne and Will have already taught me several lessons.
  • Be Flexible. One of the first "real" lessons that Emily Anne & I tried was with The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading. Now, it is a wonderful book, well organized with step-by-step content. At the beginning of each lesson is a poem that reviews the consonants and the sounds they make, and Emily Anne refused to say it with me. After exaggerating my voice to make it sound fun, cajoling, and threatenting, and all the tension underlying all of that, I finally stopped and thought about why the author included the poem. It was to review the consonant sounds. But, wait a minute, Emily Anne already knew the consonant sounds. She never missed them in any other of the review activities. Did it really matter if she didn't say the poem? I remember as a public school teacher becoming highly incensed when I heard that some school districts were requiring scripted lessons to ensure that all students were getting the same instruction, and here I was following this phonics lesson to the letter (no pun intended!)! Emily Anne reminded me that not every curriculum is tailor-made for my child, and that I should remember to be flexible with our activities.
  • Interest is More Important Than Age. We received Draw Write Now, Book 1 in the mail the other week. This book was supposed to be curriculum for next year, but EA pleaded to begin lessons in it right away. I wanted to start at the beginning with some simpler pictures, but EA desperately wanted to draw the girl jumping rope toward the end of the book. The drawing started out with writing the word girl and had some pretty sophisticated curlicues and symmetry. I was afraid that she would become frustrated. Lo and behold, she did a great job. Even more amazing, she has reproduced this drawing several times without any help or instructions. I don't think that I could have done it again without any step-by-step drawings. Emily Anne has also surprised me with her interest in chapter books. I have tentatively gone ahead and begun reading what she has requested and have always been surprised by the vocabulary she learns, her attention span, and her comphrehension. EA has taught me not to underestimate her ability when she shows an interest in something.
  • A Lot Can Be Learned in Informal Lessons. I haven't sat down with Will and given him formal lessons in anything, other than simply reading aloud to him. He has picked up so much from casual conversations, our reading, and my lessons with Emily Anne. Will has begun counting, recognizing his letters, and putting puzzles together, pretty much on his own. Will has taught me that you don't have to have a curriculum to learn!
  • Learning is Fun & Exciting! Okay, I'm the nerdy type that has always believed this, but it has been a long time since I have squealed in delight at looking at a bug close up or recognizing an exclamation mark on the page. Emily Anne and Will have both taught me that new discoveries are always something to get excited about.

To read more lessons learned in homeschool, visit The Heart of the Matter. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thirstin' for the Word Thursday

If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." (John 7:37b)
Feeling a bit parched? Searching to quench that thirst with an iced tea or Diet Coke? Dive into the Word for real refreshment!I try to be diligent in my Bible reading and am often rewarded by God's speaking to my heart through particular scriptures. I pause and sometimes even write them down. The reflection usually ends there, however. This year, I would like to pursue the verses that God lays on my heart by pondering how He wants me to apply these verses in my life.
Here is what spoke to me this week:
See to it brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. (Hebrews 3:12)
This week I've been reading about Solomon, and believe it or not, the above verse applies to him. Solomon? The one to whom God appeared twice? The one who, when God told him He would give him whatever he asked for, requested wisdom to rule God's people, rather than gold or fame? The one who built a magnificent temple to house the ark of the covenant? How does someone who has done such great things for God turn away from Him? By not doing the little things for God.
Hebrews goes on to say:
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anoyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their own example of disobedience.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:9-12)
These verses make the point that one day we will enter perfect rest with God in heaven. However, they also point toward the rest that faith in God provides. Both of these rests are made possible by the Word. It shows us how God wants us to live our lives and where we are going wrong.
I submit that Solomon turned away from God through disobedience. First, he disobeyed God by not studying the instructions he left for kings: Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes. . . . (Deuteronomy 17:18-19). Second, he disobeyed God by having for himself a thousand wives and concubines: Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself. (Deuteronomy 17:17).
Solomon was so led astray by his wives that he built altars for his wives' gods. Perhaps if Solomon had obeyed God by reading His Word, he could have avoided the second disobedience, or at least been convicted of it.
Let's not make Solomon's mistake. Let's not let the good things we do for God blind us to our own sins. Let's delve into the Word so that it can protect us from disobedience and bring us back to the straight and narrow when we do stray.
So, what verses have spoken to you this week? Post those verses on your own blog, along with how you see that God wants you to apply them in your life. Then, provide your link below so that we can drink from one another's wells of scripture.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tomes for Tots Tuesdays--Inaugural Edition

Tomes for Tots
In doing research for "official" homeschooling, one of the things I've most enjoyed is finding books to read aloud. I am a firm believer that reading aloud to our children is one of the most important things we can do to foster our children's academic development. It has been such a treasure to rediscover my favorite books from childhood and to see my children enjoy them, too. I've also enjoyed the quest to explore this vast world of children's literature and find new-to-us titles. I am particularly interested to find solid, inspiring, and imaginative classics in the slick, commercial, and all-too-often vapid world of today's publishing. On Tuesdays, I'd like to share what I've found with you.

For the first few weeks, you'll be getting reviews of two books: one, a book about reading to children for adults, and two, an actual children's book. The book about reading today is Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt.

Hunt's book is a delight, unique in its Christian approach in choosing books for children. The nine chapters explain the importance of choosing good books for children and what exactly makes a good book, fantasy, poetry, reading aloud together as a family and reading aloud from the Bible. The bibliography at the back lists a multitude of books with short descriptions and they are divided into several categories: Preschoolers through Grade 3, Grades 4-6, Teens & Mature Readers, Poetry, Christmas Books, Helping Preschoolers through Third Graders Grow as Christians, Helping Third Through Sixth Graders Grow as Christians, Helping Teens & Mature Readers Grow as Christians. The book titles listed in these categories are arranged according to complexity. The edition from the library I read was published in 1978, but I'm looking forward to ordering the newer edition, which I'm sure includes an updated bibliography. Here is one of my favorite quotations from Honey from a Child's Heart:

What I am saying is simply this: As Christian parents we are concerned about building whole people—people who are alive emotionally, spiritually, intellectually. The instruction to train up a child in the way he should go encompasses so much more than teaching him the facts of the gospel. It is to train the child’s character, to give him high ideals, and to encourage integrity. It is to provide largeness of thought, creative thinking, imaginative wondering—an adequate view of God and His world. . . . We have books and the Book at our disposal to use wisely for God’s glory. A young child, a fresh uncluttered mind, a world before him—to what treasures will you lead him? With what will you furnish his spirit?

Here is a tomely treasure to which you can lead your child: Cynthia Coppersmith's Violet Comes to Stay. You may recognize the names from the Mitford series by Jan Karon, who teamed with writer Melanie Cecka and illustrator Emily Arnold McCully to bring Violet the playful cat to life. Violet, her brother, and her sister have spent their young lives in the pantry and kitchen of the house on top of a hill and one day are selected for new homes. Violet, however, doesn't seem to fit in at either of her two new homes. Each time she is returned to the house on the hill, her mother reassures that God has a special plan for her. Finally, Violet does find that special plan when she comes to stay with a bookstore owner (and what could be a better home than a bookstore?). This theme of God's timing and plan for us is found throughout the book and in the quotation of Ecclesiastes 3:1 at the front of the book: For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.

We were not led to this book through my slightly obsessive-compulsive spreadsheet of titles recommended from various sources, but simply by perusing the shelves in the children's section of the library. We took it home where it became a read-aloud favorite, so much so that the book was purchased, along with the sequel, Violet Goes to the Country.

I hope that these titles help you along on your own journey of discovering Tomes for Tots.
Happy Reading!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thirstin' for the Word Thursday

If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." (John 7:37b)

Feeling a bit parched? Searching to quench that thirst with an iced tea or Diet Coke? Dive into the Word for real refreshment!

I try to be diligent in my Bible reading and am often rewarded by God's speaking to my heart through particular scriptures. I pause and sometimes even write them down. The reflection usually ends there, however. This year, I would like to pursue the verses that God lays on my heart by pondering how He wants me to apply these verses in my life.

Here is what spoke to me this week:
My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. Jeremiah 2:13
Have you every been thirsty? I mean, really thirsty? So thirsty that your mouth feels so dry that your tongue feels like cotton? What do you do? Fill up a glass with ice-cold water and drain it dry? If you're like me, instead, you reach in to the fridge and pull out a Diet Coke. That first sip tastes great, but the rest of the drink just doesn't satisfy, and an hour later, you're still thirsty.
The Israelites were in a similar situation in today's scripture. Jeremiah has accused them of two sins: one, turning their backs on God, and two, trying to substitute an inferior method of filling the void. When I read this verse, I saw that a cistern must be dug and immediately thought of a well. However, how could a well be broken? Upon investigation I found that a cistern was a pit that was dug to collect rainwater and that it is from "the Hebrew word bour, a receptacle for water that has been brought to it. This is distinguished from be'er, which denotes a (usually natural) water reservoir such as a well (be'er literally equals "well").
Okay, so the Israelites were using pits to collect rainwater, water that would remain stagnant in those pits for days. This is not the most pleasant or sanitary water system. Now, consider that in the metaphor that Jeremiah draws, the cisterns were cracked. All of their collected rainwater was leaking out! Imagine, they were thirsting for their brackish water when they could have been enjoying fresh streams of God's living water!
Don't we do this? Don't we backslide and say that we're too busy to read our Bible or to pray? When our spirits cry out to us that they are thirsty for a relationship with God, we instead try to satisfy that thirst with inferior substitutes, like wordly accomplishments, materialism, and others' approval? The more we consume of these shoddy replacements, the thirstier we become, but we don't always realize that our so-called solutions don't work, that we are simply dehydrating our spirits.
God is waiting on us to cup our hands and quench our thirst with the Living Water.
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. John 7:38

So, what verses have spoken to you this week? Post those verses on your own blog, along with how you see that God wants you to apply them in your life. Then, provide your link below so that we can drink from one another's wells of scripture.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

10 Minute Tuesday

Faithful Chick's Scripture for today is Psalm 139 1-4:

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.

These verses have always given me a sense of protection. After all, God knows when I'm sitting (maybe a little too often) and when I get up. He knows when I leave to go somewhere and when I lay my head down on my pillow at night. These verses also mean that he knows when my child goes to preschool for the first time or when she ventures to the mailbox on her own. He knows when my husband is flying for a business trip. Every move we make, God is there. Because of this assurance, I don't have to worry. I can rest in the knowledge that God knows our goings out and comings in and wants His best for us.

There is another kind of protection going on in these verses, one that is not quite as comfortable to think about. God knows me through and through, the good--and the bad that I don't like to admit to myself. He is familiar with all my ways, those pesky bad habits like procrastination or comparing myself to others or assigning blame. He knows that I will do those things before I even know it. In fact, He knows what I'm going to say before I say it. If He knows that, He can help me avoid saying those things that are better left unsaid, or even unthought. Yes, He knows my thoughts, too. And He can help me guard them.

For more thoughts on these verses, click here.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Home Education Week--Looking Forward

Dana's prompt for today, the last day of Home Education Week asks us to look forward on our homeschool journey:

What are your goals for home education? What do you hope to instill in your children? Are you planning any changes to how you educate your children?

This week I have been really gearing up for homeschool experience. We have received some curriculum that I've ordered, and I've been developing schedules in my head (soon, I hope, to be on paper, or at least in Homeschool Tracker). On Tuesday our local homeschool group is sponsoring a Mom's Night Out, the topic of which will be resource sharing.

Yesterday, Emily Anne, Will, and I attended a Spring Fling for our local homeschool group, which included crafts, games, refreshments and a lovely setting by a lake. It was the first time my children had been around most of these home educated children, and it was a wonderful introduction for them to these new friends. We had a ball!

So, with all of these activities dealing with home education this week, it is appropriate to end the week with a reflection on my goals for children. These goals will help to build the foundation for my further homeschool planning.

  • My children will know God's Word, will know Him, and will seek to please Him with their lives.
  • My children will be so saturated with reading material and read-alouds that they will develop a life-long love of reading.
  • My children will have the freedom to explore their areas of interest and talents, developing them in order to fulfill God's purpose for their lives.
  • My children will be grounded in the basics of a classical education so that they will be rooted in the knowledge of the past in order to succeed in the future.
  • My children will be surrounded by an atmosphere of celebration of knowledge so that they will develop a life-long love of learning.

My overall arc of the homeschool experience will be classical learning, but also during these early years, we will explore unit studies, nature studies, and living books. Therefore, their all-important first exposure to learning will be a mix of classical and Charlotte Mason approaches.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Home Education Week

Dana's prompt for today is a blog edition of Show & Tell.

Show off those talents. Share a story, a special moment, a piece of artwork. Any accomplishment, great or small, is fair game.

Reading is big in our house. We have been reading aloud to both children since they were born. I firmly believe that reading aloud has more impact on a child learning to read than any whole-language or phonics program (although phonics certainly has its place). This year Emily Anne has been learning phonics at 4K preschool, and I've been supplementing with The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading. The other night, she pulled out her Bob books and read four of them to her little brother. That was such a sweet moment!

Will has also had his accomplishment this week. His grandmother gave him a Go, Diego, Go rolling bookbag, and he was having fun pulling the handle up and down. Each time, he pulled, he counted! He began with five and counted up to ten. He also counted each time he took a step on the stairs yesterday. I sporadically have counted things in pictures as we've read, but I've not made a conscious effort to teach him counting. I believe this is just what he's picked up from his big sister!

So that's our Show & Tell this week. If you have a chance, check out today's edition of Thirstin for the Word Thursday. My post today is also in honor of Home Education Week.

Thirstin' for the Word Thursday--Homeschool Edition

If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." (John 7:37b)

Feeling a bit parched? Searching to quench that thirst with an iced tea or Diet Coke? Dive into the Word for real refreshment!

I try to be diligent in my Bible reading and am often rewarded by God's speaking to my heart through particular scriptures. I pause and sometimes even write them down. The reflection usually ends there, however. This year, I would like to pursue the verses that God lays on my heart by pondering how He wants me to apply these verses in my life.

Here is what spoke to me this week:
But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)
Participating in Dana's Home Educators Week has turned my mind to teaching our children. When deciding on a verse for today's TftWT, I thought of this verse, which I had written down, along with other verses on teaching, when I was leading a Bible Study for my church. I had never looked at these verses in light of teaching my children before. I am amazed at how God's Word provides for our needs. Just look at all these verses explaining how we should be teaching our children: Colossians 3:16, 1 Timothy 4:16, 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Timothy 4:2. I haven't included all those verses from the Old Testament that are explicit in our duties as parents to teach our children.
I decided to write about 1 Timothy 1:5 today because I soon will be writing goals for our homeschooling, and this scripture seemed to call to me. It states that the objective of our teaching is love. Of course, we teach our children because we love them. Love is also what we want them to demonstrate, as a result of our example. In addition to our goal, this verse also gives us teacher materials that we will need to complete our goal.
First, we must have a pure heart. Our motives must not be sullied by a desire to see our children top all the other students in her Sunday School class by having the most verses memorized. Of course, pride in our children is a delight, but it should not become more important than the desire to see God's Word hidden in our children's heart to help them to please Him. Our reasons for teaching our children should not be to impress our friends with our sacrifice or organization or teaching ability. Our reason should be to equip them to fulfill God's purpose for them.
Second, we must have a good conscience. Our children learn from our lessons, but even more so, they learn from our actions. Our example is the greatest teacher. We should have a good conscience by examining ourselves for sin and then confessing and earnestly repenting. This process teaches our children, as well.
Finally, we must have a sincere faith. Children can quickly determine the bogus from the genuine and can quickly discern if the words we're spouting are simply words or what we truly believe.
These materials seem like a tall order to acquire, but we always have a Helper.
So, what verses have spoken to you this week? Post those verses on your own blog, along with how you see that God wants you to apply them in your life. Then, provide your link below so that we can drink from one another's wells of scripture.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Home Education Week--April Fool's Edition

Dana's prompt for today is this:
April Fool's . . . And we have likely all felt the fool in one way or another. Share your greatest challenge. Or one of those terrible, horrible no good, very bad days where the only thing there is to do seems to involve moving to Australia.
I am linking to a post a few months ago that seems most appropriate. Okay, we're not officially homeschooling yet, but I think that home educators can relate!
Check out more posts responding to this prompt here.