Homeschooling in American started at the beginning. I mean really, Native Americans were educated by their parents. They didn't go off to school somewhere.
Then came our founding fathers. Many of them experienced their pre-college education at home: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams.
Our early leaders were also firm believers in school-based education. Since they believed all men were created equal, then all men should be educated. If parents couldn't do that job, someone should.
As public schooling became popular, there were fewer homeschoolers. However, there were always some there- children of pioneers and missionaries and those whose parents just thought homeschooling was the best fit. A few of those were: Teddy Roosevelt, Pearl Buck, Thomas Edison, John Philip Sousa.
Folks generally didn't even dream about homeschooling again until the world turned upside down. In the 1960's, the ascendancy of humanism, the sexual revolution, feminism, and the drug culture tore the fabric of family structure. For the first time in American history, divorce and family disintegration started to become normal.
By the early 1980's, there came a group of ex-hippies and traditional Christians who wanted better for their families. They did not want to send their children to schools that would indoctrinate their children in destructive cultural values. They wanted to reconstruct the idea of family, faith, and culture working together.
With the values of family, faith, and education being preeminent in the homeschool movement, the emphasis was family time, education time, and church services. That was it, no other involvements because even church youth groups had been contaminated by the bad culture.
I remember saving up my money to buy a denim jumper. I wanted one SO bad.
By necessity families began to band together for support and legal protection. Homeschooling was illegal in many states and difficult in others. In 1983, Homeschool Legal Defense Association was formed. Local support groups, learning co-ops and a few umbrella schools began. Homeschooling in community began.
Some parents wanted more for their kids.
I can remember getting together with a group of moms of young teens. We wanted our homeschoolers to have a
like-minded peer group. So we started a youth group (despite the fact that we were told by some homeschool leaders that we were condemning our kids to eternal punishment). That group ran for 19 years and had 60+ members.
Parents in support groups and umbrella schools began to share their expertise. Choirs, debate teams, sports activities, arts and film clubs, political activism training, chess clubs, proms and more were made available. Families began to balance the power of home education and the fun of doing some things in community.
Today we have freedom to educate our children in the way that best fits each child. (This comes with eternal vigilance, you know- join HSLDA.) Praise God for that freedom!
Homeschoolers do well in the workplace and well at college. They are helping to shape the culture in positive directions. (If you'd like some solid research data on this check out National Home Education Research Institute.)
In our local homeschool culture, us moms long ago lost the denim jumpers. Our kids are active in their church youth groups,
in umbrella school and league sports, in homeschool choirs, in service to the community.
Our umbrella school would have scandalized some of the old-timers (like me). It holds dances and does a yearbook. No one is falling apart over it, instead, the students have become culture-shaping forces. They lead Bible studies and prayer for their peers on group-classes days and service projects on other days.
The kids are involved in competitions locally and nationally. They go to college and tell me that they meet lots of other homeschoolers there and that homeschoolers know how to do self-directed study and often are leaders on campus.
Many of that first generation of homeschoolers are getting married and starting their own families. Many of them loved homeschooling and will be raising their children in a homeschool environment. I wonder how they will shape the homeschool culture?
What were your early homeschool experiences? How do they compare to your experiences today?
The real secret of successful homeschooling: Prayer
Without God's help, we couldn't successfully homeschool our children.
To help spark a creative prayer life, I compiled 2 devotional journals, each with 30 interactive prayer activities.
The prayer thoughts and assignments are short but creative- meant to invigorate an adult's prayer life and initiate a teen's development of their own prayer rhythms.
Introducing: Introductory Guide to High School Poetry Writing
For middle- and high-school students who do not have much experience or comfort with creating poetry, here's how to get started! This is a NO-busywork, NOT-intimidating, discover-your-creativity curriculum.
We walk your student through 5 weeks of easy, easy lessons on reading and writing poetry:
-rhyme and couplets
-alliteration and form
-deeper poetic language
Introduce your homeschooling teen to 20th Century History from a Kingdom perspective with God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew!
Brother Andrew witnessed firsthand some of the 20th Century’s pivotal events. He lived in the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation in World War II, fought with the Dutch in independence wars in Indonesia, and after becoming a Christian, dedicated his life to smuggling Bibles into the Soviet Union during the Cold War. His life has been one of constant adventure!
God’s Smuggler has inspired our own homeschoolers to think about their faith as more than just a Bible class but a lifestyle- and not a boring lifestyle, at that!
This comfortably priced guide is easily adaptable for individual or group use and can be used with various high school grade levels.
(BTW, we do understand the rules of grammar and know that there should be an apostrophe in the title "God's Smuggler" -- our EBookstore is confused by apostrophes in product titles, so we had to remove it. Please forgive us!)
This one-minute video on YouTube allows you to hear Brother Andrew's challenging take on the world today, post 9/11, and an idea for Christians and Muslims:
This week, 7 Sisters is thinking about character development. We develop our children's character by modeling it ourselves, as well as providing curriculum rich in Godly character examples.
When last you saw us, it was Saturday, and Jonah and I had just finished a marathon of test-prep skills and strategies for the PSAT he is signed up to in a few days.
The next day in our "normal" week was Sunday. Honoring the Sabbath is important, and it's something I struggle with mightily.
For the last five years I have been WORKING at learning to REST...
...and if you see a logic problem with that last sentence, you understand my internal conflict!
My husband, Fred, is a shift worker; rotating 12-hour shifts make life a little topsy-turvy in our home. I tried for a long time to really honor ONE DAY every week on Sunday. That worked great on the ONE SUNDAY each month that Fred can count on being with me, off from work and at home, but the rest of the month it meant that I was resting while he was working (he has no control over that piece of things, of course) and then working when he was off and ready to rest. Not a great recipe for unity in a marriage.
So now I try to follow his shift-schedule kinda-sorta. I try to make sure that out of every 7, one day has serious "rest-and-reflect on the goodness of the Lord" time built-in...but the actual day of the week varies.
This Sunday, Fred was on day-work, so I got up with him when he left at 5:00 a.m. (I'm an awesome wife like that), then went back to bed for an hour (I'm an honest blogger like that).
At 6:00 I was ready to rise and enjoy the morning. I just recently got an iPhone 4 (clearance prices....hard to resist, right?) and wanted to take some pictures in our gardens for the memes I've begun learning to make. The sun was rising, conditions were wonderful, and I had a great hour chatting with God in the beauty of the quiet back yard as I snapped pictures of His handiwork.
Jonah went for an early-morning run and joined me in the gardens when he got back home. Before long it was time to head to our local church service where I help lead worship, so we go early for warm-up and sound check with the team. After the service, Jonah was invited to go to the house of a friend and stay through youth group, so I headed home solo.
The rest of the afternoon was quiet work for me.
When Fred got home we headed over to my folks' house for a couple of hours to have some casual Bible study and fellowship.
I was raised by parents who love the Lord, and I don't want to neglect to honor them and be thankful for their presence in our lives! Fred really loves to listen to my dad talk about the Bible, so it was a neat way to end the day together even though my husband hadn't been able to sit beside me in church that morning.
Jonah came home from youth group and watched a movie with his two big brothers, Sam and Jake.
These guys have such a good time together now that they are all on the older end of things. There were lots of arguments (particularly between Jonah and Jake) when they were younger, but now they are great friends.
I headed to bed with my book (I'm currently reading Madeleine L'Engle's devotional Walking on Water) and was asleep before too many pages had been turned, I'm afraid!
If you're looking for a great read for yourself or a work by a great Christian writer to share with your homeschooler, check out the titles for which we've created study guides....books like Brother Lawrence's The Practice of the Presence of God, or Malcolm Muggeridge's biography of Mother Teresa Something Beautiful for God, or John Bunyan's classic Pilgrim's Progress.
For encouragement in your prayer life, look at the excerpts from Vicki Tillman's Prayer Journals in our EBookstore.
So. Why does any of this matter?
It matters because I am convinced that my children will learn next-to-nothing from what I tell them about character. You know the old saying: Character is CAUGHT, not taught.
I want to be contagious.
With intentionality. With balance. With respect. With all the pieces of good character that will bless my children's lives for all their days. I hope that my Sunday modeled the characteristic of TAKING TIME for things that matter: working when work must be done, appreciating God's creation, studying His Word, and enjoying His presence with us, worshiping with others, taking time with those we love.
And because at almost-15 Jonah knows his mom struggles with workaholism, I hope I modeled perseverance. I pray that Jonah saw that while it was tempting to just charge forward through a series of tasks at 100 mph, I wandered in the garden for an hour taking pictures and telling God what a good job He did with the asters and the phlox and the dogwood tree. I believe that Jonah saw me honoring my parents, loving my spouse, and worshiping my Lord.
If he sees it, he can catch it.
As homeschool high schoolers are developing their identities, it is important to give them powerful role models as part of their literature reading.
The best role model for forgiveness that I know is Corrie ten Boom (if don't remember her story, read PBS's post about her). Imprisoned in Ravensbruck concentration camp in World War II for hiding Jews, Corrie witnessed many atrocities of the Nazis. She lost both her sister and her father to the abuses of their captors.
Through God's grace, Corrie spent her life spreading the word about forgiveness (although it was a challenging lesson for her to learn herself). Her autobiography, The Hiding Place, tells the story and gives all our high schoolers a role model to look up to as they learn to become bearers of Christ's image. It is an important book to include in high school literature and modern history courses.
Comfortably priced at $3.99, 7 Sister's Literature Study Guide for The Hiding Place is rich in useful material.
The information and questions in the guide help strengthen Christians in their faith walk and choice making- without overwhelming or boring them with useless busywork.
This 25-page downloadable study guide includes:
-life application questions
Here is an excerpt:
Is it powerful SAT scores?
Is if full-ride tuition to an Ivy-League college?
One of the saddest things I experience as a counselor (when I take of the homeschool mom hat I put on a counselor hat) is an interview with a young person who has driven-driven-driven through high school and college, emerging from the other side with NO knowledge that God has a plan for his/her life.
I see it all-to-often. Young folks who know how to be star academians, athletes, or musicians but can't tell you the meaning of their life.
What if homeschool success looks like a teen:
-who has learned to serve others and invest in culture creating,
-who has learned that they are here on earth to be part of something bigger than themselves, to make a difference?
High school years and college years will pass away, but God's ideas for advancing His kingdom remain. So, Homeschool Mom, don't let the precious high school years slip away with only grades and awards to show for it. If you want to be successful, invest in your teen's soul.
-Modeling character, service, purpose and prayer
-Teaching character, service, purpose and prayer through curriculum and experiences.
In my family:
Character building curriculum included our 7 Sisters Literature Study Guides (Brother Andrew's God's Smuggler was my sixteen-year-old's favorite) as well as movies that included people who showed strong character (for instance: Amazing Grace, Billy: The Early Years, and Courageous).
Service has always included volunteering at church (my youngest serves on the church worship team) as well as other projects such as Samaritan's Purse, Global Aid Network, Urban Promise, and others.
Purpose was explored in lots of family discussion, as well as solid career exploration work (7 Sisters Career Exploration's FREE Questionnaire, user-friendly Career Exploration Workbook, and my Pinterest Homeschool Career Exploration Board).
Prayer was taught in various manners- group prayer experiences at our homeschool umbrella school and at church, as well as family prayers, and prayer guides.
Our homeschoolers probably won't graduate high school knowing God's plan for each moment of the rest of their lives- but they can know what direction they are being led and how to live while they go there. THAT is homeschool high school success.
Allison Thorp is the maven of “cooking for a crowd”. I asked her to give us some help as we homeschool moms launch into the holiday season. (This post first appeared at our umbrella school's blog: mtsophia.com.)
I have been asked to share some advice on cooking for large family gatherings.
Although I am certainly no expert, I have had a fair amount of experience with this over the last 25 years as I have hosted family and church dinners in my home and participated in a “dinner co-op” which entailed my making dinner for five families at a time once a week.
I’ve made my share of mistakes and earned more than a few gray hairs from the panic that accompanied them, but in the process I have learned some ways of making this task more manageable. I hope this will be a help to some of you who may not have tried your hand at a large meal yet.
- Make a Menu – Do this well ahead of time and put everything on it, even dishes that others are bringing. Keep a list where you will not lose it to make sure you don’t forget anything.
- Smart Shopping – Use your menu to make a comprehensive list of items you will need. Don’t forget to list any staple items you are low on. You don’t want to be in the middle of making pumpkin pie when you find you are out of sugar. Staple a copy of your menu to your grocery list when you go shopping just to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything you need.
- Food with Forethought – Choose as many dishes as possible which can be prepared ahead of time. You may be surprised at how many dishes not only work when made ahead, but are even better that way.
Cook turkey the day before, slice when cold, lay in pan with gravy, cover with foil, and reheat the next day. Ham works well this way too.
Make mashed potato or sweet potato casserole the day before. All of the labor intensive, messy work will be done and cleaned up and you will only have to heat the casserole in the oven.
If possible, choose baked vegetable dishes (i.e. broccoli casserole, green bean casserole) that do not require you to cook vegetables on the stove at the last minute.
Make gravy ahead of time and reheat just before serving. Gravy is too risky to be making at the last minute. You can even use canned gravy and skip the prep altogether.
Prepare any cold dishes the day before, place in serving dishes covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator. They will be ready for the table without any more work.
Desert is one part of the meal that should be easy to do ahead or farm out to someone else.
I struggle with this one, because I like pies the day they are made, but no one else seems to care.
- Designate your Dishes – Make sure you have enough pans and casserole dishes for everything you are cooking. Whenever possible cook items in dishes which look nice enough to place on the table. This saves you a lot of cleanup and keeps the food hotter for longer. If a casserole dish is too hot to pass at the table, try setting it in a basket. Also, make sure you have leftover containers readily available to make the clean-up go smoothly.
- Corral Your Crock Pot – Use your crock pot to free up oven space. Many dishes work well in the crock pot and fit with the “make ahead” rule. You can do baked potatoes or baked sweet potatoes, mashed potato casserole, and even stuffing in a crock pot. Most any casserole-style vegetable dish will also work well in a crock pot. Ham works if you have a large crock pot.
- Coordinate Chores – Look over your recipes and separate the steps to make the job as efficient as possible. For instance, if you have to chop vegetables for several different dishes do that all at the same time before beginning any of the specific recipes.
- Terrific Timing – Work backwards to plan when various dishes need to go into the oven or begin cooking on the stove. You may have to adjust cooking times if you are putting a number of different things in the oven at the same time. Usually, a general temperature of 350 to 375 will work for anything, you just may need to keep a dish in longer than the recipe calls for.Remember, if you have made casseroles ahead and they have been in the fridge you will need longer to get them heated through, usually 1/2 again as long as the recipes states. It is also wise to set them out of the fridge 1/2 to 1 hour before you put them into the oven to bring to room temperature.
- Question Quantities – use quantity guides to determine how much meat you need for the number of people you have. Other recipes usually tell you how many they serve. Remember, though, if you are having a big meal with a lot of different dishes people will not eat as much of each one.Take into account what you know about your family or guests. When making large quantities of casserole-type dishes, remember that they will take longer in the oven. The denser the food, the longer it will take to heat or cook all the way through. Consider doing two regular sized dishes instead of one giant one. They will heat better and you can leave one in the oven on low until the other dish has been emptied.
- Share the Suffering –If you have others who are willing to take care of some of the dishes, let them, but choose what will actually
be a help. Dessert is an easy thing to leave to someone else as it can be transported in its finished state. If you farm out the side dishes, make sure that they are being brought ready to eat.If someone shows up 10 minutes before the meal with cold green bean casserole which needs to be cooked and your oven is full, you are likely to panic. If your guests are unreliable consider asking them to bring bread and butter, tossed salad, drinks, whipped cream for the dessert, etc.
Most importantly, remember that the real point of the meal is sharing it with those around you. Don’t let the stress of making the dishes perfect keep you from enjoying your time with others.
God will bless your efforts.
How can Allison be so good at what cooking for a crowd and Vicki is SO very bad at it?? God gave all of us different gifts!
Help your homeschool high school teen explore the gifts God has invested in her with Career Exploration.
Based on the career counseling work Vicki does as a therapist, she composed this workbook to help teens explore their gifts and talents, interests and abilities, values and God-given direction. Download it today!
Get started with the FREE Career Exploration Questionnaire that helps teens understand the leading that role models can give them.
Christmas with 7 Sisters: Real Christmas for Real People is now available exclusively through Amazon Kindle and it's FREE through midnight Wednesday 12/04/13.
Check it out here:
Remember, you don't actually have to OWN a Kindle to read Kindle-exclusive ebooks like this one. You can download their FREE app for your device (laptop, desktop, smartphone, tablet) and enjoy Kindle books at your convenience.
Pass the word along to others who might be encouraged by an ebook like this:
Christmas is joyful! Christmas is busy! Christmas is complicated! WHAT?
"Christmas with 7 Sisters: Real Christmas for Real People" is filled with life-tested ideas for celebrating the joys of the seasons, managing the many holiday activities, and coping wisely with the challenges that sometimes complicate our plans for a joyous December. With winning personal transparency, the women of 7SistersHomeschool.com share everything from traditions to recipes to advice for the hard times, and every word is written with humor, love and prayer. Pour yourself a steaming mug of something warm and yummy, and make time to spend with your "sisters" this season!
* Ideas for Celebration: Preparation, Music, Food, Gifts, Getting Outside, Movies
* FREE Resources! Recipes, Lesson Plans, Activities
* Wisdom For the Hard Years: Death of a Loved One, Financial Struggles, Illness, Divorce and Blended Families, Mental Illness and Addiction, Impossible Scheduling
Our house is one of those that is always open – I love to have people in, but I don't really ENTERTAIN. I'm the type of hostess who says, “Yeah, there's stuff in the fridge...help yourself!”
But each Thanksgiving I try to do things with a little more class. A few years ago, I was hosting the traditional turkey dinner for Fred and me, our 7 kids + 2 significant-others, my parents, and my sister Allison's family of 5. Eighteen people if I'm doing the math correctly, so I made two turkeys and oodles of sides. We had some serious food going on!
Allison (that's my biological sis among the 7 Sisters) is the classy entertainer in our family, and she very generously asked what she could do to help. I assigned her various dishes to bring (her world-famous stuffing is a must, of course....and have I mentioned her Pear-Cranberry Pie with a crust so good it makes you strive to be a better person?). She offered table linens, early arrival to help with the cooking, but I assured her that I had it all covered.
At the last minute, I talked to Kym (another one of the 7 Sisters....See? We really DO have a great community!) whose family of 6 was in limbo. A sick mother-in-law and out of town travel confusion had left them uncertain about the best place to celebrate Thanksgiving.
“Come to our house,” I said. “The more the merrier!” I assured her I had enough food for an army. So now our numbers were at 24, but my mountain of mashed potatoes was more than sufficient for the challenge.
Unfortunately, I forgot one thing. After most of my family had arrived, I realized that I didn't have enough silverware. Or dishes. (Gravy doesn't really serve well on paper plates.) My mother laughed at me. Hostess-extraordinaire-Allison looked horrified. And Fred offered to go find a store and buy new stuff.
I had a better solution. I grabbed my phone and called Kym's cell just as they were pulling out of their driveway. “So, Kym, this is a little awkward....remember how I invited you guys to join us for Thanksgiving dinner? Well, I kind of need you to bring your own plates and silverware. Or plan to eat with your fingers directly from the serving platters. Whichever you prefer.” She managed to stop laughing long enough to answer that they would, indeed, go back in the house and get plates and silverware, and when they arrived we all had a splendid time.
Will I win a Martha Stewart Living award for that Thanksgiving dinner? Not hardly! But will I always remember it with a grateful smile? You bet! The table was all the more beautiful for the presence of mismatched plates and borrowed silverware, because that was a table made by community.
What imperfections in your holiday plans might really be openings for God's grace to show?
High school transcripts need to show more than just academics; they should reflect the well-rounded nature of your child's homeschool education.
Most homeschoolers include fine arts in the elementary grades, but the arts may get "squeezed out" by the increased pressures of high school. Protecting the arts in the high school years is important.
Stanford University published a study by Shirley Brice Heath of to determine the effect of involvement in artistic endeavors beyond traditional school settings. Her findings showed that children who grew up with exposure to and involvement in the arts were stronger academically, better communicators, and had a greater sense of self-worth and responsibility to their communities than children who were not involved in the arts.
As homeschoolers, we have a wonderful opportunity to encourage our children's involvement in various artistic endeavors: music, visual arts, drama, dance, design, and many more.
Here are 5 reasons to make time in your homeschool for involvement in the arts:
1. When children are encouraged to try various types of artistic expression at a young age, they are less likely to be afraid of "failing." If they wait until later in their developmental process, they will have a more rigid set of rules that they have created for themselves, and will be more likely to be afraid to try. (For more information on developmental stages in children, check out Vicki Tillman's Human Development from a Christian Worldview text).
2. Children who struggle with academics will often excel in the arts. Having this "arena for success" is a great encouragement to a child who struggles with reading or math. Children with learning difficulties like ADHD can sometimes find self-discipline more easily developed in the framework of artistic activities.
3. Helping your child try out various types of artistic activities can be a great bonding point for you. Sometimes our children only see us do things that we have already mastered. If I am humble enough to try dance with my child, even though I have no experience with dance and am not very good at it, it can be very reassuring to her to see that it's okay to just give something a try, even if the result isn't very inspiring for the audience!
4. Shy children tend to interact better socially if the social situation is structured. It's easier for a shy student to speak up in a group if the purpose of that gathering is a drama club meeting, and everyone has a line or two to recite. I have directed Drama Camps (one-week intensives for student actors) for over a decade, and I have seen so many children blossom in the area of social confidence when they have a small role in our play.
5. Kids who aren't confident as athletes can still enjoy the benefits of physical activity and a sense of being part of a team. Dance is particularly great for the physical activity part, but drama and music are great ways to be part of a team, too. A child who likes drawing or painting can participate in creating a group mural with an art club. A very little effort on the part of mom or dad to start a group for kids with similar interests can go a long way in making great memories and encouraging a lifetime of creative expression in a child!
For more information on How to Start a Homeschool Support Group from which special-interest clubs can easily be formed, download the White Paper in our EBookstore.
What artistic endeavors interest your homeschoolers? How can you make sure they appear on your high school transcript?
Becoming consistently aware of God's fingerprints in my life has been a special area of discipline for the last few years.
Here are a few things I've come to be truly thankful for in recent years, when in the past I would have overlooked them.
"Coincidental Meetings" with people in stores, in waiting rooms, in parking lots.
After I run into someone unexpectedly, I figure I have just been reminded to pray for that person. Maybe God's using me to lift someone up who doesn't have anyone praying for him/her right now. I wouldn't have thought of that person otherwise, so I'm thankful for the nudge.
Bargains at the store.
I used to think of myself as a careful, diligent bargain-shopper with a little bit of "tightwad" thrown in there. I buy my clothes at thrift stores whenever possible. I plan dinners based on the sale items at my local market. I bulk-shop at cheap stores for staple goods. But now I realize that everything about our finances is dependent on God. He gives us wealth, He gives us the ability to steward it, and He gives us generous hearts to share it with others. I needed sweaters for this winter season. I found 4 perfect-quality, well-made name-brand sweaters at a thrift store Monday and paid a total of $16 for them. I was happy about the low price, but I was happier to be reminded of how well my Dad takes care of all my needs, and how lavishly He showers love on me.
My 88-year-old mother-in-law always says that she only prays two things: "Thank You, dear Lord," and "Give us good health," because if you have your health you can handle all the other difficulties life throws at you. There is some wisdom in that (somewhat oversimplified!) statement. There comes a time for all of us when our earthly bodies will no longer allow us to do the things we long to do. Until that time comes, I want to be very intentional in thanking God that my feet hit the floor and I was able to stand, tackling another day with the physical strength He's given me.
What often-overlooked things can you give thanks for?
Do you, or does someone you love, suffer with chronic illness? Lisa's devotional "God Meets Me Here" will encourage and equip you to keep seeking Him in the sick times.