Marrying Traditional Education with Modern-Day Relevance

This will almost sound like an apologetic regarding a few of our curriculum choices, though that is far from my intent.   To be truthful, these are simply my latest ramblings about education as I pull together lesson plans for our middle schooler.

As a home educator, I think alot about my own educational process first–how I was taught, what I was taught, and the marked difference between what I told to learn and that knowledge that I sought out for myself.   I think about what I want to continue when it comes to our children, and even moreso, about what I want to do differently.

I have been thinking more and more about the conceptual aspect of learning when it comes to our last student.    Where is all of this “knowledge” going?   What do I want her to do after we leave this table?

traditional marriage to modern day relevance

Somewhere in thinking about what I want, I began to define a couple of problem areas that I want to avoid:

Studying with the Bible as our foundation has always been the cornerstone to everything else that we learn.   Walking out our faith in shoe leather has always been a priority for us, and nurturing hearts and heads that can articulate God’s will on this earth shapes everything that we do.   There is a problem, however, when we send our kids elsewhere (i.e., youth ministry) thinking that we are somehow furthering their Christian education.   It goes a little something like this.

‘Every day we see a world suffocated by poverty, and racism, and violence, and bigotry, and hunger; and in the face of that stuff, you [the Body of Christ] get awfully, frighteningly quiet.’  

This is a quote from blogger/ pastor(?)  John Pavlovitz. Though I don’t agree with every criticism he has regarding modern-day believers and the church, I thought he was spot-on here.

In short, we follow a savior who addressed many tough issues, but we as Believers are somewhere hiding.  That is not what we teach our children.

There is also a problem with traditional education.  I have to face a hard, cold fact that sometimes when our daughter says, “I don’t get it,” what she is really saying to me in spirit and in body language is, “I don’t see why I have to own it.”   I saw this just recently when she was working through percents and determining what it meant cost-wise to see a sale sign that says “___% off.”    As I reminded her how to work through the problems, she made some remark about how that stuff is automatically calculated when you reach the register, she just shops for what she likes, blah, blah, blah.   I responded by explaining that when you own the store, you need to understand how to establish your pricing so that you don’t lose money or don’t get ripped off.  (Mind you, I am speaking to my budding kidpreneur here).   Silence.   I could tell by her body language that my words resonated, and she continued to work through the problems more quickly with renewed determination and a desire to truly understand.

I see our daughter as I see many of her generation.   In her words, ‘I like education; I just don’t like school.’   Like others of young thinking America, she studies the headlines.   She wants to help, but doesn’t necessarily know how to connect passion, purpose, and our present condition.  In a world where information is as close as her fingertips, but Truth can seem far, far away, she is just as likely to draw conclusions from a cute rapper if she is not encouraged to dig deep in the scriptures.   After all, most of those songs are written at a third grade level.

So, there it is.  I want her to know Whose she is, who she is, and what that self-awareness means in terms of the world around her.    We will use our time together with some traditional tools, but we will continually strive toward relevance.   Our goal is to be Christlike and conscious.

It’s one of the reasons I deviated from the standard AO-recommended Ourselves by Charlotte Mason as a character study.    I enjoyed this book in reading it both times with our older two, but I think our youngest would benefit more from a shorter, straight-forward mandate for this generation like Do Hard Things by the Harris twins.   I shared this book first with our Sunday School class years ago, stating a harsh reality: no one expects much of them, or of this generation.  If we teach our children to stand up and be heard, they will still meet adversity in a world that has no loftier expectation of them than to sit down and be quiet.   And if this is true, who will reach the world for the Gospel of Christ?

do hard things cover

We will marry this book with other resources (though I’m not sure of which ones yet), including their blog.   We will also use our ongoing staple, notebooking, to continue to build upon our skills in written expression.   Speaking of writing skills, why on earth would we use Rod and Staff’s series, you ask?   Well, whatever else this series is, it is one of the best I have seen regarding grammar and sentence structure.   I am, however, planning to tie in  Cheryl Carter’s Writing Success: Essential Writing Skills for the College-Bound Student at this level and introduce various types of writing in addition to understanding mechanics.

How about you?  What are you doing to bring relevance to your time around the kitchen table/ desk/ outdoor blanket?   Here are some resources that might help you with thinking about education and all of its possibilities for a young, thinking generation:

With Rigor for All (1st edition) by Carol Jago

The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education by Grace Llewellyn

Whatever is your plan, make the days count.   Memorization is one thing; affecting this world with a positive change is another.

2016 Dance Recital–A Year of Firsts (and Lasts)

In the wake of all that has happened in this last week, I’d be lying if I said that I am posting without mixed emotions.   Like any proud parent, I rejoice at the accomplishments of  our children, and dance recitals for me are almost magical–the lights and staging, the performances, and the chance for the kids to do something that I never got to do.   I (almost) forget how exhausting all the hair and costume manipulations, plus the extra practices, can be.

The other side of me looks at them and asks the same questions that many African-American parents are pondering right now, if only to themselves.    I stare at the pictures, and I cannot imagine  that anyone would not hold them in as high esteem as I do; I wonder how they could possibly be killed in such a senseless and appalling way as I’ve seen on the news.  But…they could.   Young Mr. Sterling, Mr. Castile, Eric Garner,  Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd,… (the list goes on)?   They were.

I saw a CNN reporter speak my heart very succinctly on Friday morning: I simply want a chance to raise my children.


As far as the recital, this was a special year for both the children.

It was our daughter’s first year on pointe…


…and she was, indeed, on point.  (You see what I did there)?

IMG_6491 IMG_6572


This was our son’s last year, and as the only male dancer in our studio for most of his years, it almost seemed fitting that this year’s recital was a performance of Disney’s “Aladdin.”  He and fellow senior “Jasmine” were a gorgeous pair to watch.


And he was something on his own, as well.





They’ve each had spectacular individual achievements, but what I most enjoyed was seeing them together.



Believe it or not, in sixteen years, all three of our children  have only danced on stage together once–five years ago!



So, with another year, another dance season is in the books.


As for the pondering?   I relish these moments all the more, and I don’t take for granted the chance to speak with them on the phone, or to hug them or say frequently, “I love you,” or “I’m proud of you.”   I pray, and I worry, which are in direct opposition to one another, but real for me.   Join the fight and pray with me, won’t you?

 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’  

Ephesians 6:12, KJV


Successful Homeschooling: Your Husband Has a Vision, Too

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

Matthew 8:5-9


This scriptural passage in its entirety goes on to tell us of how the Lord healed the servant because of the centurion’s faith.   What an amazing God.  What is also striking about this passage is the centurion’s understanding of authority and alignment.   Jesus humbly asked the centurion what he wanted Him to do.   The centurion could have given Jesus specific instruction; after all, as he states, he was accustomed to ordering people around.   BUT, he also understood his place when it came to THE head.

Several years ago, I wrote a blog post for another website entitled,  “A Husband’s Role in Homeschooling.”   The post talked about being submissive—a word that even the most mature saint sometimes dreads hearing.   The sad truth is that when homeschool is the subject, it is even easier to take the reigns and push Dad to the side.  After all, for most of us as women, we commit to the research, we are the primary teachers, and we are the managers of the home.  Alignment–in homeschool?  Why, for goodness’s sake??!!  Here are a few reasons that you might want to consider.

 family in waco november 2014


Your husband—outside of the Lord God Almighty—is the principal partner in your plans for your family.   You did not marry the other co-op parents, nor did you marry anyone in your moms’ group (although they might give you great advice to discuss with your husband at a later time).   You two know the vision that you have for those children; why would you divide on one of the most important aspects of your family’s future—your children’s education?  Moreover, you are both accountable to one another—and to God—for what He has given you to steward.  Your fears, your anxieties, your uncertainties are all worth confiding to each other, and to the Father.  Will your testimony be that you ran toward your accountability partner, or will you have to repent for running toward someone else?

Your husband has a homeschooling vision, too.   Given the chance (lol), they will articulate it.  But here’s the proverbial kicker: his vision probably will not be in “homeschooling jargon.”   That does not mean that it has no merit; it just means that you must be a translator.   As a personal example, one of my husband’s biggest concerns is that our children are able to keep up should we ever have to place them into a traditional school.   Translation?   There are some homeschooling approaches that he would not be okay with, and that’s okay with me.   If I felt strongly enough, I could go against his will, but the risks are not worth it to me.   I imagine that limb to be lonely if it does not go as I planned, with poor results from my children and an angry husband—a husband who sacrifices along with me so that we can homeschool.

 hubby reading to youngest may 2016


Your husband will represent your homeschool to the outside world.  You and your husband can be totally on board and together with homeschooling, but someone has to talk to your in-laws.   It would be ideal if everyone surrounding your family was totally on board with your decision, but if you live on Earth, chances are that someone will question, you, your abilities, and/or your sanity in beginning this journey.   Not only do you and your husband need to agree, you need each other’s prayers and support.   Can he articulate the vision?  Does he understand (in layman’s terms) what is the plan so that he’s not “thrown off” by Mama?   Can He and you represent Christ in your tone with the nay-sayers, or do you need to pray over each others’ tongues?


So, inevitably, someone might ask, “What if my husband doesn’t want us to homeschool?”   I honestly don’t have an answer for that one.   Homeschooling for many is a calling, a deep-seated passion that will sometimes keep you awake at night, and I can imagine that it must be difficult if you don’t share a conviction to take on this journey.   My walk with the Lord tells me that if this is what the Lord has in store for your family, in His timing and in His way it will become clear to both of you how to proceed.

5 Basics to Knowing Your Role (as a Home Educating Parent)

For the sake of cohesiveness, this post should be named ‘Successful Homeschooling: Know Thy Kids.’   It is, indeed, the second of my 2-part attempt at sharing successful homeschooling tips for both parents and kids.  The part of me that is snarky and cynical chose the numbers because after all, as a blogger, numbers brings numbers, yes?

When I stepped back to see where this post was headed, it occurred to me that much of what I would list as key to knowing your children was an extension of knowing yourself.   I don’t see this as a coincidence.  Much of what our children will produce is based upon us as parents setting an environment–a stage, if you will, such that they can perform. Tweet: Much of what our children will produce is based upon us as parents setting an environment--a stage, if you will, such that they can perform.


Being Mom or Dad is markedly different than being their teacher.   Ideally, we want our children to be loved, nurtured, and supported in any environment in which they are supervised by adults.  As our children’s church pastor says, when people hand off their child to you, they are giving you their most prized possession (regardless of its current condition—my words, not hers).   Realistically, however, no one will ever love and care for that child the way you do—even with the best of intentions.  You are anointed to teach your children—an anointing you need to receive in Jesus’ name if you have not already.   Yet, as a teacher, that anointing might look a bit different, to include the following behaviors:

  • Understanding learning styles and what they mean for both you and each of your children—one size will not fit all
  • Regulating expectations as a student in “class” versus what is acceptable when school is not in session
  • Taking on the sole responsibility and accountability for what they learn, which might include failing them on an assignment or a class (gasp!)

I remember a homeschool blogging friend writing about balling up a piece of her daughter’s work and throwing it in the trash.  Reading the post, the heart of a mother immediately sympathized with this child as I thought about my own children and the aftermath of throwing away something they created.  The teacher’s heart, however, understood where this mom was coming from: there is a standard of excellence in this home, and less than your best will not be tolerated.

 runoff collage spring 2016

Everything will not be fun.   There are so many posts within the homeschooling community that depict an environment where kids are having so much fun until they hate that school ever has to stop.   And they all presume to teach you how to develop that kind of environment in your home, too.   It sounds lovely.   There is just one problem: it’s a lie.   If it were the truth, the equal number of memes that suggest math is evil, or that suggest we as homeschooling families must put on a certain “face” for family and friends, would not exist.  Moreover, the impact of such a lie is that there are scores of families who abandon homeschooling because they are convinced when they have bad days that they are not doing something right.   The truth is that it is as ludicrous to think that your children will always have fun as it is to think that you will dance through every single aspect of your life.   Lest we forget, comfort does not breed comforters.   Perseverance through hard times and determination are good lessons to learn, too.

They will get it.   I can remember a season of angst in which I wanted our oldest to be the ‘model’ homeschooler (whatever that is).   I fretted that other kids were having a much richer experience than we were, and I would change our whole lesson plan based upon someone else’s enthusiasm about what was happening in their home.   Years later, I now realize that this is a homeschool rite of passage; many parents I know get caught up, especially with oldest children, in trying to develop the kid who cures cancer or finds a remedy for the common cold.   Having homeschooled for a minute now, I tell moms of littles all the time to not fret if their kids don’t read by the age of 4, or understand certain math concepts by the age of 6.   What is key at that age is not to frustrate a child and give the devil any foothole to introduce low self-esteem or confidence issues.  Sometimes we all—kids and parents alike—just need to take a breath and try again later.

They don’t have to know everything.   Our “job” as home educating parents is to create a set of experiences by which our children can learn how to learn.  Tweet: Our “job” as home educating parents is to create a set of experiences by which our children can learn how to learn. Consider the way most of us gained knowledge in a traditional school system: we learned most of what we know by rote memorization.  At later ages, when different information became more pertinent, we “cleared the path” and replaced those earlier bits of wisdom.   I conclude that this is why many of us are not smarter than a 5th grader (that’s a television game show for the unplugged who think I’m just being snarky). The other side of this coin is that there are some areas which everyone should know, and it is worth the time and effort to persist.  As a personal example, our college senior recently completed a required statistics class.  To say the least, I was anxious, knowing that if there is any area in which she struggles, it is math.  She actually “aced” that course, and in conversation with her professor, she learned at least a part of the reason why: she knows her math facts—well.   Many children don’t.

halle in class sewing oct 2014

You bring you everywhere you go.   I alluded to the fact earlier that I would change homeschooling methods on a slight whim once I heard of something that was going stupendously well for someone else.   I had to learn to use myself as an instrument, and to celebrate our uniqueness as a family.   Just as you have been anointed by God to teach your children, your children have an anointing, too: to love and honor you.   Their hearts are with you, whether you are a drill sergeant in your teaching style, or captain of crunchy, or just plain confused.  Their desire, even when it does not look much like it, is to please you.  Love on them, encourage them, and lean on them; you need it as much as they do, and in doing so, you model for them how to operate as a unit—a home/school, homeschool unit.

Our 2016 Spring Garden

A trip home to help an ailing relative, a trip to pick up a college student, a high school prom, and an upcoming dance recital?   NO WONDER I am just now returning to blog!!   We still have about two weeks to go before we settle into a summer norm–as if there really is such a thing.   But at least there is the garden to relieve stress and usher in a spirit of peace amidst the household chaos.  I would love to share with you what is happening this year.

With all the rain we have had this year in our area, moisture retention has not been a major problem, but this mulch insures that what water we have won’t evaporate too soon.  Plus, it smells sooooo earthy and makes the completed garden look like the work of a true professional.

0512161932-1Our kale and red cabbage are holdovers from the raised bed winter garden.  No worries–they will be eaten really soon.



Because there was not much of a winter here (translation: summer bugs will be in abundance), our peppers picked up right where they left off.


Our one point of possible trepidation is our eggplant plant.  We had such a wonderful harvest on last year until I took the poor thing for granted.   This year, it, too, tried to pick up where it left off.   After our initial 1-2 eggplant, which we tithed to my MIL, all the other eggplant began to yellow.   So, I have had to go back to school on watering, fertilization, and pruning.   At worst, I am the only person in our home who enjoys this harvest, so we will not have lost much.  Yet, I sure would hate to lose it over my own neglect.

In the meantime, our cup runneth over–with mint, that is.   Time for lots of sharing, lots of herb drying, and reflections over my MIL’s sweet tea.


We have new entrants into the garden as well–cucumbers, okra, and corn.


So, with that professional-looking mulch that I was speaking of earlier, we might have ourselves an awesome harvest this year!!


Finally, for the first time, we have the neatest of treats–our blueberries are blossoming!



Think gardening isn’t your “thing?”   Read more about gardening and its connectivity to successful homeschooling!!

Gardening as Homeschool Enrichment


Your Garden Is an Outdoor Classroom


Sensory Garden: Why Gardening Helps Emotional Grounding and Sensory Integration

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