Summer Reading Program and a BookList!


We really enjoyed this school year and I feel like I’m just starting to get the hang of this homeschooling lifestyle. We love taking a “one-room schoolhouse” approach and have enjoyed learning together with a range of ages this year, from two years old to almost eight.

We are getting ready to move this summer, and so I have been struggling to keep up with my best efforts on homeschooling regularly. We do more of a relaxed year-round schedule, but I am a person of regularity and I definitely am struggling in this area at present. I was brainstorming what to do as a focusing theme for the summer to keep us going, and all my children have really been enjoying our read-aloud times, so I decided to make that our “school program” as we move into summer. I want my oldest to read 20 minutes/five times a week with me, and that way we will have focused one-on-one time as well as be learning and keeping our reading skills up! I plan to continue to read to my youngest in her room before naps. I also plan to move to reading with my middle son after that. My middle child often jumps in on both read-alouds with brother and nap time stories with sister, but I am looking for opportunities to read to him one-on-one as well. (The challenges of being a middle child!)

We sat down and made a list of things my oldest wanted to read about or specific books we have yet to read around the house. I’d like to work this list for my middle child as well. We also have taken a habit of evening family reading time, which motivates us to be home and ready for bed on time more regularly during the longer summer days. And, for those days we are in the car in the evening house hunting or heading home from a fun outing with family or friends, we have our audio books so we don’t miss out on that special time to read as a family.

I would love to hear what others are reading with their young readers that deepens your time together and their thirst for knowledge as they grow in their understanding of Christ.

Here’s some of our favorites so far, as well as wishful reads for this coming summer.

AUDIOS:

Pilgrims Progress (great for longer road trips)

Christian Heroes Then and Now series

READ-ALOUDS:

True Education Reader (we bought the third-grade set)

Singer in the Sand (mission family story)

Stories Worth Rereading (highly recommended by a friend)

Cabin Boy

Brave Men to the Battle

Waldenses

Old-Fashioned Camp Meeting

Wilderness: an Interactive Atlas of Animals (Costco find!)

other books on animals…

Hope you are encouraged to pick up a book with your child this summer to keep their interest in learning a positive one. We are always eager when August rolls around to get out our math manipulatives and start back into our other subjects. Praying your time spent with your children in your summer adventures is blessed, and I hope to hear what other families are doing to keep the love of learning alive while they take their summer break…

Blessings, Allison

Ending Our Day With Joy

I would call myself a morning person. This post is for those of us who find ourselves quickly deflating as we enter the evening hours…or perhaps find we do not have the same energy throughout the day, and need some brainstorming about how to spread the Joy.

In the morning it is easy for me to naturally have Joy. I mean, there’s so much to be joyful about in the morning! I’m excited to see the sun rise, a fresh beginning, and those quiet moments in the morning. My children wake up well rested (usually), and they also are bright-eyed and cheery.

After three o’clock rolls around, it often seems I find myself losing steam. This is when we have finished our last meal, helped Mama clean up, and now are transitioning to the children’s free time before our evening routine starts.  I decided to write this post because I recently realized that evenings have become such a chore for me. I was analyzing the difference between our morning routine and our evening routine so I might discover why I enjoyed one so much, but found an increasing amount of stress in the other. Our family’s better times are in the morning, but if you find mornings are more difficult at your house, you might use this approach in the same way, modeling after your afternoon hours instead. I’m eager to hear what others think and how they find Joy throughout the ups and downs of their day!

So, what is it about mornings at our house that make them so great? Part of it is that I have a plan — a plan that we have executed on a regular basis, and all family members participate so the morning runs smoothly, which makes it more enjoyable for this mama and everyone else too!

I believe the biggest contributing factor is that we start our mornings with personal quiet time and before we eat breakfast we come together as a family for family worship where everyone participates.

As I looked at our morning routine and compared it to our afternoon routine, I realized our afternoon really didn’t have much routine. So, when it’s time to get ready for bed, it often becomes rushed while not always having the opportunity and focus for a devotional experience to close our day. Out of this was born my desire for a more regular evening routine, so I might have the energy for an evening worship experience that blesses each member and prepares them for a better night’s rest.

I also realize that I cannot have a giant to-do list that is waiting to be done once the children are asleep. This causes anxiety for me because I want to be heading the same direction when I snuggle each of my little people and pray over them again individually.

I decided I must move my to-do list to a different part of the day, and what doesn’t get done before the children’s bedtime moves to tomorrow’s to-do list. This way I can enjoy my time with each child, one-on-one tucking them into bed, without the uncompleted list looming over my thoughts. I do keep my to-do list short and have three most important tasks each day I strive to accomplish. My other to-do’s are secondary and can be deferred.

I also include my children in helping me with as much as they can of “our” to-do list. Now before moving to free time in the afternoon, we evaluate what needs to get done or picked up or set up for the next day. We do our day together, and these steps are helping me to find Joy in ending our day together!

I hope this post encourages you to evaluate the times of your day where you find yourself in a lull, and maybe transplant some of that greatness from the other times of the day, or move challenges to a time of day when you have more energy and resources to tackle them. Praying we continue to seek ways to find more Joy in our homeschools!

Blessings, Allison

“Gentle under Provocation”

This quote spoke to me as a mother:

“The spirit that is kept gentle under provocation will speak more affectively in favor of the truth then will any argument, however forcible.” Desire of Ages p353

Have you ever found yourself arguing with a toddler? Maybe a 7 year old? Or a teenager perhaps… I will admit, I can affirm the first two and yet even in the midst of such conversations, I KNEW there was a better option!  So how does a busy homeschooling mother (or father) exude gentleness under provocation? Today I want to share the joy I find in challenging myself day-by-day, with much prayer, to be a gentle mother.

“The consistent life, the patient forbearance, the spirit unruffled under provocation, is always the most conclusive argument and the most solemn appeal.” Mind Character Personality vol. 2 p755

Does the mother hen in you ever find her feathers ruffled after a chaotic morning at home or a longer than planned afternoon of errands with every one in tow?  Does anyone else have toddlers that seem to wilt when errands run long?

“The servants of Christ are not to act out the dictates of the natural heart. They need to have close communion with God, lest, under provocation, self rise up, and they pour forth a torrent of words that are unbefitting, that are not as dew or the still showers that refresh the withering plants.” Desire of Ages p353

It goes on to explain that these are Satan’s methods,  but the harsh storm of words that may come from an inpatient mother can be calmed by our Heavenly Father’s perfect peace.  Such a storm can be stopped before it even begins. It gave us the solution right at the beginning of the quote, we must draw nearer to our Savior.  So I propose a very simple plan for more Joy and less SELF.  I got the idea from working with my oldest son on his penmanship. He writes out a verse each week, sometimes as much as one a day. Now I too am challenging myself to also write out a verse every morning.  I have written them on sticky notes to keep on my daily planner, as well as in a 3 x 5 spiral notebook that I carry in my purse. It can be written anywhere as a reminder of His Word in our lives throughout the day.

My oldest son and I just finished a topical study on the “Word”. What a powerful resource we have at our fingertips to overcome every sin in our lives and experience true joy moment by moment amidst both the storms and calmer waters.

So that’s my secret. A verse a day. Write it out. Look at it again. Read it aloud and share it with your children maybe over a meal, or again while waiting for your oil to be changed. You will be so impressed by such a simple task and the Power behind it, to be “gentle under provocation”.

Blessings, Allison

The Making of a Longsuffering Parent

In this post, I will attempt to explicate ways to discovering the balance of love and firmness in our homes. My growing desire is for my children and me to share a mutual experience of Christ’s character. Together. Day by day. And, even on those bad days. AND, find joy in the process! 😉

Two Ways and Their End

“There are two ways to deal with children – ways that differ widely in principal and results. Faithfulness and love, united with wisdom and firmness, in accordance with the teachings of God’s word, will bring happiness in this life and in the next. Neglect of duty, injudicious indulgence, failure to restrain or correct the follies of youth, will result in unhappiness and final ruin to the children and disappointment and anguish to the parents,” Child Guidance, p. 258.

Recently the Lord has brought the love chapter, found in 1 Corinthians 13, to my thoughts with increasing regularity. We all know it well or have heard it recited often, but do we cultivate the many synonyms given in our daily experiences and interactions with our families? I know I am found lacking here! So, lets dissect this one:

“If I have… (insert any amazing feat you desire to achieve, any amazing to-do list you desire to conquer, any amazing curriculum or resource you desire to incorporate) …but do not have love, I gain NOTHING.”

This is not to discourage us but to point us to our training manual. If we desire to “gain” in our homeschool, to be victorious over nap time and multiplication tables, and slay those bad attitudes that occasionally rear their ugly heads, we must seek this love Christ offers! Who wants to gain ground for Christ this year in their homes?

“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” Phillipians 1:21.

We have to put our feelings aside and pray when our children walk off the path of obedience. Recently I touted to myself, during a challenging day, “I should NOT have to put up with this?! I should NOT!!” Then, the Lord almost immediately gave me a math problem. 🙂 I’m serious. It was clear as day in my mind.

“Then Peter came to him, and said,  ‘Lord how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Til seven times?’ Jesus saith unto him, ‘I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until 70×7.'”

Ok, so any other parents hear the rebuke there? It doesn’t mean our children offend and disobey and we forever ignore them along with said inappropriate behavior.

“For whom the Lord loveth, He correcteth,” Proverbs 3:12.

It means we learn to be longsuffering with them. That’s where the extra long training has come in for me: “Love suffers long and is kind…is not puffed up.” My heart hurts at the thought of allowing myself to puff up toward my child. I want to draw them in with the love of Christ, not use the offense mechanism of an animal to discourage its prey.

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child.” My children are children, and so they are immature in many aspects of their speech and understanding. I forget that I once was a child too. I too needed a patient guide to teach me, to shine a light on the path that I might go successfully, that I might understand the joy found through service and obedience to Christ. This is the sum of our longsuffering duty.

“If you seek the Lord and be converted every day: if you will of your own spiritual choice be free and joyous and God: if with gladsome consent of heart to his gracious call you come wearing the yoke of Christ — the yoke of obedience and service — all your murmuring will be stilled, all your difficulties will be removed, all the perplexing problems that now confront you will be solved,” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessings, p. 101.

To be an effective teacher you have to be a doer of things taught, or the lessons you are teaching will be like seeds planted where they could not find deep roots. They will be crowded out or shrivel up in the heat and die. To teach the character of Christ to our children, we must learn to be longsuffering, and that is when the teacher becomes the student and the student a teacher.

Your fellow student-teacher in Christ,

Allison

Homeschool Fruits: Joy

Tell me this. Does homeschooling bring you joy? Should it? After all, educating our children is pretty serious business.

This is one of my favorite Bible texts: “You will show me the path that leads to life; your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forever,” Psalm 16:11 GNT.

What this tells me is that God’s presence fills me with joy. It doesn’t say my path will be easy, that I’ll never have any stress, that I won’t agonize a little more than I should over which math program to use — but it does tell me that the overall tenor of His presence in my life and my activities should be joy.

January is an excellent time to think about this because we’re starting a fresh, new year. It’s not a new school year, but there is still something very encouraging about knowing a new calendar year has been birthed — a year where you can fix things that didn’t work so well in 2016, and look for ways to claim God’s promise of joy.

If you haven’t done it yet, reevaluate your fall semester of 2016. What worked really well? Were there subjects in which your child flourished? Did anything not flow as smoothly as you had wished? Was there a subject that caused you both lots of stress? Or, are either of you just plain bored with something?

The new year is such a good tweaking time. Spelling, Bible, math, and history were awesome at our house last semester. Full speed ahead! Science had lost its verve, though, so we’re starting 2017 with a new plan. We totally tossed cells, and have embraced physics. (It’s okay. You can do that as a homeschooler, you know. LOL.) Grammar was going okay, but my son really is tired of it. I, as an editor, feel a strangling sensation to throw it out, even though I know it’s not a typical stand alone subject after elementary school. So, compromise: We’re both good with two days of grammar and two days of cursive writing practice. This kind of reevaluation is so important to keep joy alive in your homeschooling. Both parent and child should feel like they are doing something fulfilling.

And, what about the unschoolers? Yes, unschoolers, you’re completely aware that shades of this apply to you too. We started out as unschoolers and loved it, and I can assure you I’ve never seen an unschooling mom or dad who is not involved in their kids’ education. The approach is just different. So, maybe 2017 is the time to add a zoo membership, or to encourage your child to research backyard chickens with you. Is your kid one of those (like mine) that wants more parental guidance? Time to adjust. Or, maybe you’ve been peeking over their shoulders too much, and you need to let them explore music or gardening on their own. Aim for educational joy.

What about your home life? When you are a homeschooler, home life is an even more consuming part of your daily existence than with typical families. What does yours look like? Here are a few watchwords: order, schedules, flexibility, cleaning, noise, time alone, time with kids, time with spouse, errands, rest. This is a good time to think about your needs and those of your spouse and children.

Home should be a haven, not a nest of stress. I’m a pretty “wing it” type of person. My child, on the other hand, really appreciates knowing the day’s agenda. I have minimal domestic desires, but my husband thrives on a relatively orderly house. In both areas, I’ve found ways to extend out of my comfort zone in order to help my family be more happy. Conversely, one of my greatest desires is quiet. Husband and child can make a lot of noise when they’re together, but they make an effort to give me periods of respite — silence, peace, ahhhhh.

I believe joy at home often relies heavily on one quality: being considerate. Being considerate to my family means taxing myself somewhat to help achieve their happiness. Being considerate to myself means asking children and spouse to bend some for me. Peter tells husbands to “be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect…so that nothing will hinder your prayers,” I Peter 3:7, NIV. No doubt this counsel extends to wives and children as well.

January is a great time to decide where your homeschooling and your home life excels and where they could use a little improvement, and to work with your family to seize the fruit of joy.

“You will expand the nation and increase its happiness [joy]. It will be happy in your presence like those who celebrate the harvest…” Isaiah 9:3 GWT.