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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Homeschooling ... if I could do it all over again ...

I started homeschooling my children when they were 8, 6 and 4 (my oldest made it through 2nd grade in public school and my daughter made it through kindergarten); they are now 19 (1993), 17 (1995) and 15 (1997). I was an atheist at the time and could have cared less about godly things - I just did not want someone else raising my children for me and deciding what was and was not best for them. We mostly did 'child-led learning' or 'unschooling' and while I am not disappointed with that choice, somewhere along the road I started following Jesus and my views changed a little on what was of utmost importance.

I am trying to raise soldiers for Christ.

With that in mind, if I could do it all over again, we would use the bible as our main "textbook." Let me try to explain ...

Several years ago I heard about a curriculum called "Student of the Word" or SOW. I purchased a copy used from vegsource swap boards and checked it out. I really liked the basic idea (the bible as the main textbook) but did not care for many of the details. We used the parts I liked, adapting it to suit our needs and beliefs, and ignored the rest. You do not need a curriculum or guide to do this; all you need is a love for the truth, a bible and a few other basic books and resources.

Since Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and the one we are to copy as our perfect example, I suggest starting with the book of Matthew and working your way through the 'new testament'. Or you may do a portion from the 'new' and a portion from the 'old'. Or whatever you believe (or, more importantly, whatever your husband / head believes is best for his family). Each week pick out a portion of scripture - you can do one chapter at a time or more; whatever seems appropriate for the children and time involved.

Spelling, memorizing and handwriting: From that chapter (or two or more), choose a chunk to memorize, however many your child(ren) can handle. A basic schedule might look like this: On monday, read the verses out loud to your child(ren) and have them write them down. Depending on their age, it might be good to tell them where to place the punctuation marks. This first reading is NOT for handwriting - only for spelling. Look over their work. The words they spelled wrong are their spelling words for the week. Now each day thereafter, have them re-copy the work as nice as they can. This is their handwriting practice ... but it's also helping them to memorize scriptures.

For further help with memorizing, you may ask them throughout the week at random times to recite the portion they are to memorize. Or, if age appropriate, you may have them drill each other at random times. Often this makes good supper table conversation.

As they write, make sure they are spelling things correctly. You can also have them practice spelling words at a separate time. I appreciated the method used in 'Spelling Power' - a multi-step, multi-sensory way of studying words that involves saying the word, looking at it, spelling it aloud as you look at it, visualize it in your head, trace it in the air, make sure you are correct, trace it in sand or flour, check again to be sure you are correct, write it on paper without looking at the spelling, check and repeat if needed. This should all take 5 minutes or so for all of the words.

If you'd like them to copy more scripture [always a good idea], choose several different passages or the whole thing for them to copy throughout the week. For more information on copying the bible, see this blog post suggested by a dear sister. (no, I do not agree with all that is on that site ... but I appreciate the idea of copying the bible)

Vocabulary: on saturday or sunday, sit down alone or with your husband and read the portion of scripture you will be using that upcoming week. Pick out words to use as vocabulary. Make a list of the words and have your children look them up monday or tuesday. Further can be done with this as well, such as writing sentences to further teach or reinforce knowledge of the vocabulary words, drawing pictures or even writing stories, depending on their age(s).

Outlining: Have your younger child draw a basic outline of the chapter(s). Have your older child write an outline. They may include drawings as well, but only as further support of what they are writing. It's interesting to see what sticks out to them and if you have more than one child, they can learn from each other by sharing their outlines during family time. Depending on your child, this might be a very time-consuming assignment; you might feel the need (or have the need) to offer a time limit for your perfectionist. My oldest would spend hours making everything 'just right'. My youngest on the other hand would do a good job but only what was needed as far as he could see. Sometimes there was time for perfection, however other times there was not. This became a good way to help my oldest child learn more about time management and also helped him to better discern what was needed and what was 'extra'.

English Grammar: Each week you may work on learning or perfecting different areas of English grammar. For instance, using that week's chapter(s) have your child(ren) pick out some nouns. The next could be verbs or pronouns. The next adjectives. And so on. When they seem to have a good grasp of that, move on to diagramming some of  the sentences. I do not believe children need to know these things to be good writers; I only believe they need to read and learn from good literature. However, some states have homeschooling laws that require a bit more than other states. Use your discretion. It helps to have basic English curriculum on hand for the teacher (you) to use as a guideline. Rod and Staff has the most thorough English curriculum that I know of; their Grade 5 covers all the basics any child (or even any older child) needs to know in order to get by in this life ... as far as I can tell anyway.

Character studies: Maybe this week's portion has a particular person in it whom you would (or would not!) like your child to follow. Why? Why not? Talk about this with the younger ones or have the older ones write a little about it and then talk about it at family time. Do they have godly character traits? Ungodly? Meek. Humble. Gentle. Righteous. Or maybe Liar. Murderer. Disobedient. Etc. WHY are these things good or bad? Are we showing any of these good or bad traits in our lives? How do we foster the good and root out the bad? These are just a few thoughts to get you going in this area; this was by far my favorite of the whole thing because character is so very important.

History, Geography, Science and Math: Sometimes the scriptures will have good history, geography, science &/or math lessons. Take the time to talk about these with your children. Maybe a trip to the library is in order? A little further research?
Besides what is in the bible, these subjects are easy to learn during the child's free time or family time. Working in the shop, cooking, baking, working with dad, helping mom, gardening, canning, checking out REAL books at the library, writing to missionaries in different lands, etc. There are SO MANY ideas and ways to learn these subject in a fun, natural way.

Along with all the ways children naturally learn these subjects, you may also have curriculum sitting around to further spark their interests in one area or another. Yes, we had curriculum for these subjects, however the children were free to look at it or ignore it. They liked the teachers guides the best because the guides often contained a lot more information than what was given in the student books. They learned so much more by simply following their natural curiosity than what they ever did being forced to learn about one specific topic or another. I never made them answer the questions or do tests in these subjects (except math as needed) because the only thing that did was put them under pressure to perform to someone else's standard ... and who says that's what they need to know RIGHT NOW anyway? If allowed to naturally learn about things at their own pace, so much more is retained. 

Maybe this should be towards the top of my list :) Please take the time to serve others with your children. Maybe there's an old lady down the street who would be blessed by a visit? Or a nursing home near by where your children can go visit, do crafts, sing, etc.? Or a family in need of help? Or a mother with lots of little ones who needs an extra hand with cleaning? Serving others is of utmost importance. For inspiration on ways to serve others, read books written by Mother Teresa (not books written about her but books written by her). No, I certainly do not agree with all of her theological beliefs, however she has been a great encouragement and inspiration to me and my children and has taught us a lot about serving others.

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

By serving others, we are helping our children to love others as themselves and also to love "in deed and in truth."

Do not let education become an idol. Life is not about being the smartest or the best. Life is not about having a great job, a nice house, a new car, and a closet full of clothing. It's about denying yourself and being a soldier of Christ. Think about what things your child will need to know in order to be a good soldier. Education, the kind you get from schools, is not important in the light of eternity. What things are important? Following Christ and ALL that entails. Think about it ... many of the godly men in the bible were not well educated. In fact, most of them were looked at as being stupid in the eyes of this world. Fools.

It does NOT take a rigorous, 'well rounded education' to obey Christ!! It takes a heart that is sold out to him and his kingdom.

Seek FIRST the kingdom of God. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.

I might add more to this as thoughts come. You might also be interested in checking out a post I did a while ago: The wisdom of this world.


  1. Your poor kids. So your "if you could do it again" is that you would brainwash your children to be mindless, brainwashed "GOD WARRIORS" who contribute nothing to society, except for the fact that they can quote scripture? Thats pretty terrible, and that makes you a pretty crappy mom. I would never say "I hope my child is sheltered, ignorant, and unskilled" - but this is exactly what you would do "If you could do it again" - thank heavens you cant do it again! Your oldest probably has memories of his mother before she was brainwashed by Christians - there is hope for that child to break free and live a normal life. Your other two will probably be maids or janitors, fast food workers or stay-at-home-children - they have zero chance of success and have nothing to offer society. I am sure they have the same dead-behind-the-eyes stare as other hopeschooled, brainwashed children. Its gonna be a blast to see you freak fundies in hell - its where youre going to suffer for all the damage you have done to beautiful, innocent babes.

  2. While we are homeschooling to, and have christian values, i do have to agree that you should raise them up to the Glory of God, that means that are raising them up to be valuable citizen who will not rely on government assistance or assistance from other people. We strongly believe that you should give them an education to enable them to take care of their own family,that includes having a job that provides for their family, making wise decisions about their well fare.
    That means you have to challenge them, and make sure that they wiser than the "world". Only then can the make a difference for GOD. Do you really think a burger-flipping Christian will be noticed or the Christian CEO of a company.
    You did a disservice to your Kids, well you daughter maybe not as she is to be not seen and heard anyways, but to your sons who suppose to be leaders and providers you did a great dis service.
    Holding up signs will not feed them... that is just the sad truth, no matter how good the intentions of reaching the world.
    My 5 year old is now able to write and read, speaks 2 languages, and has no problem with his math, he has over 12 passages of Scripture memorized, active in scouting, piano classes and you tell me, why would i stop his GOD given gifts, and let him hold up signs all day long and not further his education by only using the bible as text book.

  3. Thank you Joanne. I'm sure your children are just fine and you will recieve a crown in heaven.
    To the person called JKASMA, I would like to give you some names for you to ponder John Newton the author of Amazing Grace but since you are obviously an atheist you probably don't know the hymn. Wright Brothers who built the first successful airplane. Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin.
    Dave Thomas founder of Wendy's.
    Alexander Graham Bell who invented the telephone.
    I could name more but I think I have written enough names but in case you haven't figured it out, these were all homeschooled. So next time you use your phone remember brainwashed Mr. Bell or on your next airplane flight,the blank stare of the "freaks" known as the Wright Brothers.
    And in case you are thinking, those are way in the past names, do a Google search on more modern famous people who were homeschooled. Oh and by the way, my children are homeschooled and they are they are very happy. They love people regardless of who they are. They help out in the community in ways that were not available when I was growing up. They are very outgoing and will help people regardless of who they are. Whether it is helping to make a meal to the widow who lost her husband or help pick up trash in the neighborhood so that it looks nicer. And that my friend does not and never will make my children brainwashed homeschooled children!

  4. Joanne,

    Thank you for that enlightening post. I think that is a GREAT idea.

    I have the opportunity to home school again, seeing the Lord blessed us with another child and I am going to do exactly like you mentioned.

    I love the idea of writing the Bible.

  5. I wanted to recommend a CD, "The Royal Education of Kings" by Johnathan Lindvall. Very enlightening on what the Lord requires of us. May we be faithful to the end!!

  6. JKASMA and Martina: flipping burgers at a fast food place? I don't think so. My children try to stay away from that junk. (joke ... sort-of)

    Seriously though, no one should be so proud as to not take a job at a burger-joint [or eat there] if that was their only option.

    To the rest: thank you for the comments. I'm not sure about the link suggested so I cannot support it, but I'll try to check it out if time allows.

  7. (correction: a CD was mentioned, not a link)

  8. Amen Joanne on the comment from the poster

  9. Seriously? I know this post is old but how narroe minded can someone be to just go and bash someone else based on their consumerist, worldly views. If this is how Joanne "would do it all over" again and you took the time to read it say something nice or step away from your device or computer without being nasty. My conviction is extremely different from hers but i applaude her for knowing exactly what she wants and not being just a byproduct of today's really sad society of 'enlightened' ha! people


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