School’s Out for SUMMER!

Summer is upon us in the western hemisphere. Thank goodness!

Homeschooling is full of blessings, but it also adds a special kind of intensity to life. You personally have taken on the education of your children — putting them in your presence pretty much 24 hours a day. Families with kids in school face many other stresses, but the care of their children is given up to someone else for six or more hours every day. That gives them a little bit of breathing room. When you are with your kids nearly nonstop, there are constant reminders that you are their primary example in nearly everything. That’s a lot of responsibility.

Besides an emphasis on growth in character, values, work ethic, and relationship with Christ, your days have been full of math, reading, writing, history, spelling, science, penmanship, grammar, languages, and more. For most of us summer is a welcome deviation from the routine. You may do like our family does, and have a revised summer schedule —just Bible and math, in our case; or you may scale back moderately on academics; or you may chuck anything curriculum related entirely. No matter your approach, the change is a break from a full schedule of daily plodding, and it’s a welcome respite.

Our summer has already started with work skills as we begin our home addition, and we’ve made travel plans to incorporate some much-needed fun. There are also plans for outdoor church and summer campouts with our church family. My son wants to do a little bit of math all summer, too, “so my brain doesn’t forget,” as he says. The aura is different, though. It’s not driven so much as elective.

I hope that no matter how you treat your summer break, that you leave plenty of time to refresh both mind and body. Possibly more importantly, parents: Prioritize some time to refresh with God, too — maybe a new Bible study plan, extra prayer time, even something simple like cultivating the spirit of constantly listening to Him. Your academic schedule will be faced with more enthusiasm next school year by both you and the kids if you’ve enjoyed a season of rejuvenation.

The SDA Homeschool Families blog is also going to take some time off to rest and refresh. We’ve had a dedicated crew of busy writers this year. They’ve spent a lot of time sharing information, resources, and personal experiences that they hope have benefited and blessed you. Many of us will be back in the fall, and hopefully we’ll gain some new writers too. If you have an interest in writing once a month, or even less periodically, for this blog, please contact us by sending a Facebook message to LaDonna Lateadah, Susanna Joy, or me.

See you back here in September. Happy Summer!

Homeschool Fruit: Laughter

What is the best part of your homeschooling day? My initial reaction might be that moment when my child “gets” something he’s been working on. After giving it more thought, though, I think it might be the times when we laugh together. Laughter is an incredible homeschool fruit.

We were laughing so hard I couldn’t even hold the phone still enough for a focused picture. I love moments like that!

Learning, understanding, growing in knowledge — that’s all important. But, if I’m very honest with myself, I have to admit that those things are not the real reason we homeschool. The real reason I’ve been treading this path for 13 years (six years, officially) is the ability to grow a strong and bonded relationship with my child. For our household, laughter is a tangible indication of that.

Of course kids in all educational walks of life laugh. I know that. I’m grateful, though, that so much laughter that bubbles from my son happens in my presence, and very often includes me. For instance…

  • When he’s laughing with a friend via Skype, but as soon as he gets off the call, he comes to share the joke with me…
  • When we’re driving into town, and we get the chance to laugh together about the crazy “neighborhood” goose that patrols the street…
  • When he’s sad about something that happened, but we talk it through, share our thoughts with each other, and he is both calmed and uplifted — to the point of being able to laugh about it…
  • When he can’t figure out his math problem, and neither can I (!), and we both share a laugh about the fact that you can indeed survive life without remembering every single fact about fractions…
  • When it’s Friday, and he bubbles in with a little laugh and says, “I’m so glad it’s nearly Sabbath. Sabbath is my favorite day of the week…”

It’s not as if our every day is filled with laughter and picture-perfect moments. But, being in his presence enough (via the blessing of homeschooling) to able to frequently remind both my child and myself that stress and worry do NOT originate with God, and that He what he really intends for us is peace and joy in His presence — well, that is priceless.

Thank you, God, for homeschooling and relationship…and laughter.

~~~~

“He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting,” Job 8:21.

“…Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh,” Luke 6:21.

“The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this,” Galatians 5:22,23 VOICE.

Where Do Babies Come From?!?

You know the question is coming sooner or later. So, when is the best time to handle it — sooner or later? And how?!?

This is an area that comes up on the SDA Homeschool Families group page on Facebook from time to time. Over the last several years, many members have responded with advice, as well as with a wonderful collection of resources. These have been compiled to share with you. Some of the resources also have comments by the people who suggested them.*

Keep in mind that, like any sensitive topic, sex education methods and opinions are varied. If you’re looking for input on when and how to address this with your kids, we invite you to peruse the following advice and resources, prayerfully seek God’s guidance in selecting the best responses for your family, and then share the knowledge about the wonder of continued creation and loving expression with your children.

 

ADVICE AND PERSONAL EXPERIENCES

Timing

  • Start young. If you don’t broach the subject until they are teen or pre-teen someone else will have already told them. The Bible is a great teacher, too. Show them the consequences of not following God’s will.
  • Dr. Sears has good advice. I don’t remember all we used, but I do know it’s so important calling every body part the real name and to start using it when your kids are young; it is easier on you and them.
  • Here is what I have done with my son. First, PRAY!!! I couple years ago I was at a loss as to when to start talking about this to him. I knew it would be up to me due to my husband’s background. I decided that the following school year would be good time to start (my son would be going into fifth grade), but God had other plans. Several times He put the thought into my mind, but it wasn’t until my son said something at the zoo did God give me the wake up call and made me realize He meant NOW!!! So, I spent several days going over the basics of God’s plan for marriage, Satan’s attempt to destroy it, the illness that come from immoral activity, and the type of talk that slanders a pure and holy thing — and provided defense mechanisms, should such talk happen in his presence.
  • My boy was young when he first started asking where babies come from, like about five or six. He was also a very specific questioner — wanting as much info as I’d give him. I pretty much gave him all the “academic” basics at that age. He knew what body parts were called, and what went where to make a baby. I also found some simplistic books with illustrations of people and sperm and eggs, etc. The beauty of this approach for us was that he was too young to be in that “oooooo, gross” phase that so many kids hit by about age 10 or 11. It all seemed a little bizarre to him, but his brain was not remotely “sexualized” yet, so it was just information — much like you’d learn about any body system. It also gave the opportunity very young to start planting seeds of morality and our expectations for when this all should happen. Of course, then you have to be prepared for the occasional, “Oh, look! Those squirrels are getting married!” out in public, but that was a small price to pay. Here’s the other benefit in my mind for early information. He trusted me back then to tell the truth. Now he is 12, nearly 13. Changes are beginning in his body, he is hearing terminology from his friends, and his curiosity is becoming more “aware.” Where does he go with his questions? To me! (I was widowed when he was young.) Granted, I have delved into topics with a 12-year-old boy that I never thought I would, but I feel blessed that he is comfortable gaining info from me rather than from his friend’s older brother or some kid on the playground. Also, because we don’t have to stumble over what-goes-where and the resulting uncomfortableness now, we can spend more time talking about the risks of having a girlfriend/boyfriend too early, and a host of other tricky topics that will hopefully prep his brain with reasoning for the day when the hormones totally kick in.

Approach

  • We just read Genesis 38 for family worship last night. I was not expecting it, and i think it is good wording to start the discussion.
  • You know, it came up in science class and that is exactly how I handled it — very practically. I made it not a subject that was taboo, funny or embarrassing to discuss in any way. (This was after praying about it first). And, praise the Lord, my daughter is now 13 and thinks that kids who do talk about it and giggle are immature and silly. She doesn’t understand what the big deal is. She also went through Passport 2 Purity a few years after we discussed it. It was good, but had some parts my daughter and I felt were unnecessary and inappropriate for the target age group.
  • I had a little conversation with my five-year-old about the topic. What I realized was, at that age they are quite satisfied to know that boys and girls are different because God made them that way. The major question is truly where the child comes from. I answered simply that he, my five-year-old, came from my belly. How did he get in there? God put him and formed him there from a single cell. That was enough. There were no questions ever since. I think it is important not to make a big deal out of it and answer questions straight forward without unnecessary details. If a child wants to know more and thinks about it, he will ask again. It is important for a child to feel comfortable to ask anything he/she wants to know, and for a parent to be sincere and not afraid of the topic. The key is, I think, not to give more information a child asks for because what he asks is what he is ready for.
  • For the time being I suggest asserting your expertise in this area [in reference to a child who has obtained misinformation from another child]. You have had a baby and little friend has not. There are a lot of pretend stories about this, but you know what’s true, and if he has questions he should ask you because you know all the true stuff and you can help him not be tricked (no one likes being tricked). Then be general… When my son asked how the baby got out, I told him God made a hole for that and it’s at the bottom where the two other out holes are, and when the time comes the hole opens and the baby comes out. I couldn’t show him because God wants us to keep all the holes clean and private.
  • I’d probably just talk honestly with your child about their specific questions and see where it goes. I don’t remember what triggered it, but in the last year or so my girls realized that people have babies outside marriage and asked a similar question. I was just honest about it and said something along the lines of “we’ve talked about how when people are married they can cuddle in a special way and sometimes the mommy gets pregnant. Sometime people decide to do those things even when they aren’t married. That’s not what God wants, but it happens.” We talked some about the Bible verses about marriage, and such.
  • Both my husband and I are physicians (pediatrician and family doc), so our children (eldest is five) know the anatomical names. We answer their questions as openly and honestly as they’re capable of understanding, and we only answer their questions, i.e., we don’t use their one question to give them a lecture on the ins and outs of human reproduction. We always reinforce that they can always ask us anything and try to foster a relationship that encourages open communication. The ongoing relationship and communication that is formed now will be a stronghold in the times when others typically have difficulties.

Science and Nature

  • Depending on the age of your kids, you might think of this more as a “biology” talk. It provides the info they need, and takes some mental pressure off yourself.
  • Farm animals! LOL. Seriously, though, this totally comes up organically since we have goats and chickens. It provides a natural progression of their own questions as they are ready to know.
  • Cats and dogs. Experiences from nature.
  • Nature. Accidentally getting a rooster a couple years ago brought up questions, so we talk of it in terms of mating. But, the oldest knows people call it “sex,” and it was a gift God intended for married people. I agree with keeping it more about biology until they get older.
  • Basic anatomy. I picked up the coloring book used for college students testing for their med-school entrance — just because it’s a cool book and my toddler was into naming bones — and he loved looking at pictures and asking questions.

Caution

  • I remember being so traumatized by books people tried to share with me. So, I just answered my kids’ questions straightforwardly as they asked them, not offering more than I felt was necessary, but also not holding back or acting like it was any different discussion than what was for lunch. They thank me for it now. No regrets. Just know that whatever book you use and whatever graphics it contains will be forever emblazoned on their little brains. Some things are best left to the imagination. Building any strangeness or weird mystery around it can have serious repercussions later, especially for generations that crave authenticity.
  • I would tread very very carefully with this subject. Both my girls, ages four and seven, know nothing at all, except that it is God that creates life and gives a mommy and daddy a baby. The baby grows inside the mommy and then comes out of her when it’s big enough to survive in the world. I was tainted at a very young age by asking this question…probably around four, and my mom took me to the library and got a book meant for kids — but honestly I still remember the images very clearly in my mind, and it was way too much. It went into detail with drawings of how a man gets a woman pregnant, talking about private parts, sperm, eggs, etc. What a child [incorrectly] learns now about this beautiful plan of God could corrupt their young minds and set the stage for problems down the road. One of the best ways to explain all of this is through the plant kingdom: the parts of a flower (female and male) and how pollination works. This is obviously for an older child, but it’s a beautiful, simplistic way to explain it in very gentle non-graphic terms. We just studied plants for homeschooling and how they reproduce, and I myself had no idea that plants have male and female parts and how the whole process works! Quite amazing, and when the times comes I will use this to explain in more detail how it all “works.”

Added Thought

  • The most important piece of advice I gave my fourth-grade son was this: “You can ALWAYS come to me with questions. But, because this is such an important topic, and not everyone is comfortable with discussing it or being around such discussion, please ask those questions at home, and during school hours.” I assured him that no question is too dirty, or too old, or too sensitive to be asked. And, he has asked!!! Pray!!! Pray!!! Pray!!!

RESOURCES

Books

Videos and Other Resources

Hopefully these resources and advice from other parents will be useful to you. We will be placing it in the Files section of the SDA Homeschool Families group on Facebook, and may continue to add resources and advice as they appear in the group.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth,’” Genesis 1:27,28 ESV.

*The comments and resources were gathered from about 30 members of the SDA Families Homeschool group. We’d like to especially thank member Jenn Cook, who did an initial resource compilation, adding a lengthy list of books and sources for the benefit of the group and blog readers. 

Homeschool Fruit: Sharing…& More

One of the best things — a true fruit — of homeschooling, to me, is being able to glean information from other homeschoolers about how they are doing things, how they have overcome problems, and how they have gotten their kids excited about learning. We have a community that seems to be inherently supportive, and generally homeschoolers are eager to share what has worked well for them.

The “& More” in the title is about something I’d like to share with you, so we’ll veer from general sharing to a specific topic. I have several homeschooling friends who have talked to me about how their kids have problems writing essays, how they seem to freeze and their minds go blank. This really resounds with me. I’ve been a writer and editor for more than 30 years, but I am NOT a creative writer. It just doesn’t flow naturally. And, probably not surprisingly, neither is my son. I have a nifty little formula and writing style, though, for those of us who are a little more at ease with reporting straightforward facts, and I’d like to share it with you.

If you have a hesitant writer, introduce them to newswriting and the “Inverted Pyramid.” This is probably the most basic, building-blocks part of journalism taught in college, and yet it is also very graspable for a young writer — particularly middle-school age and up. The inverted pyramid is merely writing/reporting your story with the most important facts at the top, narrowing to the least important at the bottom. And, it is easy to start off with five basic questions.

Let’s create a scenario that you could work through with your child. Say you ask them to write a report on the church service this coming Sabbath. But wait…

SIDENOTE: Does it seem odd to have an assignment that incorporates the Sabbath? Think about the last time you read your local Union Conference magazine. Did you notice interesting articles about a special children’s service at one church? Or maybe a Sabbath outreach mission? Or possibly a Sabbath concert offered to the community? Somebody who attended wrote those. I see multiple benefits to a Sabbath report for our kids, including better listening and observation skills in church, and maybe even the planting of tiny seeds of interest for future communication work within the Adventist Church. Back to the report…

Besides making sure they take their notepad and pen to church, have them write down the 5Ws the day before:
Who … was involved?
What … happened?
Where … did it happen?
Why … did it happen?
When … did it happen?

Now they have a ready-made list of things to look for. They will probably want to take a church bulletin for themselves to help glean information, including the name of your church, address, time of service, and participants. You could also have them listen carefully to the sermon, and make notes about the main point and primary Bible text used.

They might also look around to see if there are things they think might be interesting. Is the sanctuary decorated especially for Easter? Are there any kids in attendance? Was there a special part of the program aimed at kids? Were there guests present? Any special music? How about a potluck after church?

Young writers will not necessarily think of all those things, but you can help them come up with a list during the preceding week, and have them jot down things they will look for to incorporate in their story.

Another useful thing is to add a quote from someone who was there. Maybe they’d like to interview their best friend to find out what their favorite part of the service was. Remind your child to write it down word for word, and include their name and age. Or, maybe after the service they could tell the pastor what they are doing (the pastor will probably think this is fantastic, by the way), and ask how the pastor picked the sermon subject. There again, they can carefully write down the response, as well as the pastor’s name and title.

Your pastor would probably be delighted to answer a question or two for your child. Kids showing active engagement in church is good news!

Now you can take your sheet of facts home to work on later. It’s easier to write when the event is fresh in your memory, so consider having your child  start in on Saturday night or Sunday, and take some time off during the regular school week.

First, have them organize the facts into three groups:

  • those that they will definitely include in the article (i.e., 5Ws, sermon title or theme, etc.),
  • those that are interesting but not terribly important (i.e., the special music performer was visiting from another church),
  • and those that are related but not necessary (i.e., there were four casseroles at potluck).

Create an article outline. Your outline (and, next, your article) will follow the inverted pyramid. Put the most important information is at the top. Since you’ve already organized the facts, this will be easy.

Time to write!

  • Start with a strong leading sentence.
  • Give all the important details. These are the from the first group of facts in their “organize the facts” list.
  • Follow up main facts with additional information. These draw from the second group of facts.
  • Finish your article. Leave the reader with an interesting point, or maybe an invitation to attend an upcoming event at the church.

Here’s a very short sample article, but one that a middle-school age student could easily put together. It might give you ideas for an easy writing assignment for your child.

Sample Article:

“Reaching Up, Reaching Out” was the theme for a special community outreach planning day at Mount Bountiful Adventist Church, 123 Happiness Lane, in Somewhere, Alaska, Saturday, March 12, 2017. Members gathered to discuss ways to share God with the surrounding community. (See the 5Ws in the first paragraph?)

The special Sabbath program included music, praise, worship, and a chance for members to share ideas for reaching out to their neighbors. Joe Schmoe, pastor, said that he was excited to see nearly every member present, and appreciated how important outreach is to the small church.

The Juniors and Earliteen Sabbath School classes joined to present a skit about helping children in the neighborhood. “It was pretty neat to think of ways to help,” said Janey Doe, age 12. “I hope that we can help some other kids.”

After church the members enjoyed a potluck, and discussed how they might use food and nutrition to reach the community.

Everyone is invited to attend a follow-up planning session for outreach, Sunday, March 20, at 2 p.m. in the fellowship hall.
————

Newswriting is factual and tends to be chronological. It also helps young writers start to decipher what is fact versus what is opinion, and what is important versus what is “fluff.” And, it helps them develop organized thought. It is a skill which you can help your child develop, which might ease the fear of “coming up with something to write about.”

There are many other types of writing — creative, essay, research, etc. — which may be developed in the future, but newswriting could be a good place to start.

Thanks for letting me share!

~

“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered,” Proverbs 11:25 ESV.

“The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this,” Galatians 5:22,23 VOICE.

Homeschool Fruits: Serenity

According to my handy-dandy dictionary phone app, serenity is “the state of being calm, peaceful, tranquil, unruffled.” It is a freedom of the mind from “annoyance, distraction, anxiety, obsession.”

This is totally you in your daily homeschool life, right?!?

There may have been a bit of sarcasm there. I know when my child still wasn’t reading at nearly nine years old, I didn’t feel particularly calm. The fact that he’s currently a grade and a half behind the rest of his studies in math…does not leave me feeling tranquil.

But, those are momentary emotions, and those emotions do not speak to the longterm truth of homeschooling: Homeschooling allows your child to complete his education where and when he or she is ready — not when the public or private school system dictates, not when Aunt Betty thinks it should be done, not even where any of your own preconceived hopes and plans have placed him. And, that is what brings the homeschool mom or dad the fruit of serenity.

This has been on my mind a lot the last couple months since my son hit his teens. In the elementary years, it seemed we had forever. Now that he’s a teen, I’ve had to remind myself that we still have as long as it takes.

As your child enters or nears the high school years, there is serenity, peace, to be obtained in remembering that homeschooling has so many more options than most of us grew up with in a school system.

Maybe your kid will be the one who homeschools all the way through high school, and completes it with a homeschool transcript, and takes the tests necessary to head into college. That seems like the preferred path to most of us, but don’t get nervous if you’re not sure your child is cut out for that. There are other avenues.

College often provides a base of learning from which you can choose numerous careers.

If he wants to try out an Adventist academy, he can. Many academies would be happy to work with you to integrate your child into their system. If that works out, super! But, here is the serenity of homeschooling again: If it does not work out, if for any reason your child does not flourish in that setting, all he needs to do is come back to homeschooling. There is no success or failure here; there is merely the option of a different path.

Another opportunity might be junior college. She may have finished her freshman and sophomore classes, but is becoming dissatisfied and anxious to “get on with life.” Numerous homeschoolers make it to about 16 years of age, and then decide to just morph into junior college. They may live in a place where they can get dual credit, or they might eventually have to take a GED, but at least they can get a headstart on college. Likewise, your child may not be headed for a four-year degree, but they might want to pick up some classes at the junior college to enhance their personal business plans.

An electrician is a skilled profession that will be needed even in times of poor economy.

If they’re of a more technical bent, they could instead look into the requirements for getting into trade school. Opportunities are endless. Sometimes those of us who took the college route get stymied thinking “whatever could my child do(?!?)” if they don’t have a desire for college. There is so much out there. I’m going to list a bunch here that helped open my brain’s horizons: web developer, electrician, plumber, health field technician, commercial driver, HVAC tech, heavy equipment operator, licensed practical or vocational nurse, medical laboratory tech, computer programmer, non-airline commercial pilot, network systems administrator, animator, electrical engineering tech, first responder like police officer or fireman or EMT, aircraft mechanic, architectural drafter, graphic designer, diesel mechanic, and probably many more than I could think of. Most of those require two years or less of training, and offer quite decent income.

Sometimes the key to Sabbath off in a manual labor job is proficiency. Unwilling to lose my husband’s skill (masonry), his company allowed him to take off Sabbaths when he refused after they initially requested Saturday work.

What about manual labor? Sabbath work requirements are often a fear, but there are jobs to be had where they are willing to work with your Sabbath-off needs, or even where they don’t usually work weekends. Here’s another list of possible jobs or areas for the child who needs to move or craft to be happy: track switch repairman (here’s an example of easy Sabbaths off, as railroad jobs often have weekends off), machinist, petroleum pump system operator, concrete, plant operator, construction, key holder, brick and stone mason, cleanup, iron worker, welding, and more.

Did you just read those last two paragraphs and think they mostly applied to boys? Nope. There are opportunities for your girls, too. Check out these articles to see how women are flourishing in nontraditional trades.

I don’t know what my child will decide to do. He’s not very hip on college right now, but that could change. He might decide to take some basic business classes and operate his own business. He’s a bit of a geek, so I don’t see him spending a lifetime on the construction scaffold, but on the other hand, he might spend summers learning masonry from his dad, and have a needed skill to fall back on no matter what his final career choice is. Or, he might decide to become an engineer or some other school-centric profession, and just take as long to get there as he needs — which could be extensive if current math efforts are indicative. LOL.

There’s no rule that your child needs to finish high school at 17…or 18…or 19…or 20…or period. The serenity fruit of homeschooling comes from knowing that we are allowing our kids to take the path that will best fit their God-given talents and abilities, even if it’s not the path we envisioned.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you,” Isaiah 26:3 NIV.

~

“The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this,” Galatians 5:22,23 VOICE.