Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Franklin Springs Essay Contest/Giveaway: "Why I chose to homeschool"

I just learned about this from my friends at Franklin Springs Family Media

Franklin Springs ESSAY CONTEST: Why I chose to homeschool (250 words or less.)

Grand Prize: One essay will be selected to receive the ten-pack collection of DVDs from Franklin Springs Family Media ($199 Value). Send entry to contests@franklinsprings.com – Subject "Essay Contest"

All Entries must be received by Friday, December 19, 2008. Winner will be announced on Monday, December 22, 2008. All entrants will also receive a $5 gift certificate for any film in the Franklin Springs Family Media catalog.

Of course, both of my readers will use their $5 gift certificate to purchase Inherit the Land, right? I'm just sayin'!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Choose up to three GIFTS from Homeschooling Today magazine

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Blogger Mom Carrie Evans is the Last American Optimist

Writer for Homeschooling Today magazine's Homeschooling Helper eNewsletter, homeschooling blogger mom, and budding photographer, Carrie Evans (aka "Gremlin Wrangler") is the last American optimist. Here is her video commentary on the economy—and what the new administration can do about it—on CNN's iReport.

After watching, go to iReport and leave a comment… I did.

Carrie, you have a great perspective on the American economy. It is apparent that your commenters fall into one of two categories:

1) "The economic 'crisis' was created by the government and the government should fix it, so that I can maintain my current lifestyle."


2) "Rising prices mean I need to make adjustments to the way my family and I do things, but we're still alive and we are going to stick together and work through it."

I'll join YOU in Category 2. Carry on the good work you have begun...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Call to Dunkirk

Even Christian teachers are forced to leave God out of the teaching of children, deeming Him non-existent or—at best—irrelevant to the indoctrination that occurs in the nation's government schools.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, 9:10), and yet we allow our children to be taught without even the slightest acknowledgement that God is the reason 2+2=4; that C-A-T spells cat; that history occurred the way it did; that Barak Obama is President-elect; that the Platypus doesn't fit neatly into one classification.

"Education is the most powerful ally of Humanism, and every American public school is a school of Humanism. What can theistic Sunday School, meeting for an hour once a week, do to stem the tide of a five day program of humanistic teaching?"
—Charles Francis Potter, signer of The Humanist Manifesto, a foundational document of today's public school system.

"You can't make Socialists out of individualists—children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming, where everyone is interdependent."
—John Dewey, American psychologist, humanist, philosopher, and educational reformer; known as the Father of Modern education; signer of The Humanist Manifesto

Learn more: Exodus Mandate

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Seats Added to December Log Home Builders Class

For those who share my desire to build a log home one day, here's some updated information on the December classes:

Hi everyone,

We have added a few extra seats to the two December classes. The classes were full, but we managed to add some seats. Space is very limited, and we have no future classes scheduled at this point.

There are 2 class dates in December, and you can use the links below for to get additional information.

Choose which class you want to attend:
December 6th & 7th class
December 13th & 14th class

These classes are at the beautiful the Wallace Falls Lodge, a local log home bed and breakfast. There are currently two rooms still available for the class on 12/6, if you would like to spend the weekend at the bed and breakfast along with your instructor and fellow students. You can use the link below to get additional information about the B&B option (price, what's included, etc).

December 6th & 7th room

As always, please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.

Your friend,

Chuck Kerns, membership services (info@loghomebuilders.org)
Log Home Builders Association

If you have any questions about the class, what I learned, why I think you should go, or need my help building yours, just ask!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What about college?

[The following is an article I wrote in 2004 for the CHEACT newsletter. I have not modified it, so some of the references are specific to that time and place and it far from exhausts options on the topic, but someone recently asked me "What about college?" so I thought some might benefit from me posting this here.]

The most recent time I heard this question was from a couple in Tennessee. They called me because my phone number is on the front page of the CHEACT website. . . for the dad's breakfast I organized. They're both educators: she's in the public schools, he's a college admissions officer. Turns out, his sister was on her way back home to Texas and was planning to homeschool when she got here.

"What type of umbrella program do you have?" the sister-in-law asked.

"We don't."

"Why not?"

"In Texas, homeschools are private schools and are not regulated by the state with regards to schedule, curriculum or teach credentials."

"Well, what about college?" She was asking this about her 8-year-old nephew.

What ABOUT college?

First of all, I don't consider college to be a given for any of my children. It's not always necessary and the benefits are many time offset by many worldly negatives. I'm raising them for heaven, not Harvard.

But, that's not what she was asking, so I didn't even go there. Her question was: "When my nephew has `graduated' from homeschool, what university is going to accept him?"

The truth is: MANY colleges and universities, service academies and vocational schools around the country are actively seeking homeschoolers. But there are still some things you, as a parent, need to consider.

High School Diploma

Are you planning to issue one? The Texas Homeschool Coalition (THSC) sells a very nice one that you can personalize for your school. As their site says: "In Texas, as private school officials, parents decide the requirements for high school graduation. When met, the student may receive a diploma." See their website, www.thsc.org, for more information.

Of course, THSC doesn't certify or recognize completion of a course of study simply by selling the diploma. That's up to you. You should keep records of course work, especially the last four years of your child's schooling so that you can create a transcript to show to a college. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) also has some great pointers for preparing for college at their website: www.hslda.org.

Accelerated Distance Learning

Brad Voeller, a homeschool graduate, is also a college graduate. Great achievement, to be sure. But what makes Brad unique is that he received his college degree in less than six months for less than $5000. And he wrote a book telling others how to do it: Accelerated Distance Learning: The New Way to Earn Your College Degree in the Twenty-First Century. Vision Forum and other great outlets carry it.

Dual Credit at a Community College

Did you know that most community colleges don't require a high school transcript in order to enroll? Did you know that most universities don't require a high school transcript if a student has 30 hours of college credit?

This has long been a popular option for homeschoolers. Simply enroll your child in classes at the local community college his or her sophomore year. It doesn't have to be a full load of classes: just 5 hours per semester. And you can count the coursework toward fulfillment of the high school diploma while your student is gaining college credit and experience.

By the time they graduate from high school, they'll have 30 hours of college credit and can transfer to the four-year college of their choice as a sophomore.

With just a little forethought and planning, your homeschooled student will be well on his or her way to a college degree, should the Lord take them in that direction.

[For a list of colleges that actively seek homeschoolers, see Homeschooling Today magazine's College Locator. —JBH]

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

STOP Homeschooling!

As the Editor-in-Chief of Homeschooling Today magazine, I am often asked questions about getting started homeschooling.

I was recently asked this question by the father of a young lady who has been diagnosed with ADHD and is not doing well in the government education system.

After encouraging this loving dad to pray for wisdom and look up his state's homeschooling laws at HSLDA, I felt led to offer a paradigm shift in the way he might be looking at homeschooling. The rest of this post contains that recommendation.

Looking at it differently

Once you've done those two things [pray and contact HSLDA], take a step back and try (it's going to be hard, but it's worth it) to forget everything you know about institutional education models: classes, curriculums, schedules, credentials, grades, expectations, etc. The common term for what you're talking about doing is "homeschooling," but it's a misnomer: neither does your child learn only at home, nor is what you're doing schooling. Schooling is a completely different animal from learning, education, and discipleship. Those three things can happen in the midst of schooling, but they really aren't the same thing.

Like most parents, your goals for your daughter probably don't match up with the school system's goals for her. They want to her to be socialized, which means to be worked into her proper place in the social system. You want her to be a responsible caring adult who enjoys life, liberty, and happiness. Again, those two can go together, but not always.

Train up a child in the way he should go

Before mandatory high school after WWII, no one was diagnosed as ADHD. Not that no one should have been diagnosed, but today's classroom can exacerbate the symptoms, leading to more diagnoses. Ask yourself this question: "What is it that ADHD students are required to pay attention to that they show a deficiency in? And since hyper is a comparative prefix, "They're hyperactive compared to what?" Some of the activities your daughter is engaging may not be "normal," but the institutional environment she is in may be part of the problem. And if you think about it, no one is normal. Every single person is an individual and has inherent value for the way God created them.

The institutional setting—for all practical purposes—requires every person born within a one-year window to behave the same, learn the same subjects at the same rate, dress the same, enjoy the same things, etc. But the truth is that some children excel in math, some excel in language arts, others excel in art; some do well in athletics, some in chess, some in auto shop, and others in music; some excel in mercy, some in love, some in giving, others in administration, and still others in leadership and/or service. Each one has infinite worth as an individual, and yet each one also has his limitations. Above all else, your daughter needs your love, your exhortation, your discipline, and your caring. In addition to that, she needs to be able to balance a checkbook, understand chemical reactions in the kitchen, write a letter of complaint when a product or service is deficient, and take care of the things she has. Most of those things are useful and needful in our society. And only a few are taught through schooling.

Don't homeschool

Back to the homeschooling. A curriculum is only part of what you need, and it doesn't have to be purchased from anyone. Many that try to be "complete" and one-size-fits-all, are rather incomplete and one-size-fits-none. If you are in a state that enjoys freedom of schedule, my advice is to pull your daughter out of the institutional setting she is in and don't do any curriculum until you and your wife and your daughter have spent some time together just being a family. Define who you are as a family, but remove the stress of having to take "schooling" home.

The Founding Fathers of our nation are considered by most to be the most literate, well-read, and well-informed generation the world has ever known—before or since. (Thomas Jefferson conducted a survey which revealed a literacy percentage rate in the high 90s.) And most of them had very little formal schooling, if any. Those who did, didn't go to school until they were at around age nine or ten. If they went to "university," they did so at the age of fourteen-to-sixten. That's why you'll often hear that so-and-so had "no more than an eighth grade education." What they really had was only three or four years of schooling, and eighth grade was as high as it went. After that they were working, building a business, learning a trade, running the farm. They were not dunces who only completed the eighth grade and then dropped out.

So, all that to say, removing your daughter from that situation can be a major paradigm shift in the way you look at education. Their way may have (a) been the standard by which she was considered abnormal, and (b) exacerbated the manifestation of the problem. Don't pull her out of that just to keep her home to do it the same way. She may be acting out because she's bored with a subject she has already mastered. She may be acting out because she can't keep up with her classmates academically, so she tries to do it socially. It may be a combination of those two, or more.

But don't stress about her not getting enough schooling.

Baby steps toward a family culture of learning

If she has strong friendships, don't break those up right away (even if they're somewhat unhealthy) or she is likely to rebel against everything you are trying to do. The move to family discipleship needs to be the first step. When she knows that you care about her and love her and that is why you are doing what you are doing, then it will be easier to reason with her about further changes you want to make: whether that involves letting some friendships go, or accelerating some subjects she does well in, or stepping back a few steps to get back to her pace on other subjects, or spending less time on subjects and more on service or music or art or giving or a family business. Each step take together. You and your wife may have to adjust your strides a bit for all of you to stay together, but the rewards are worth it!

Don't do it alone

Back to my first suggestion. If you and your wife are not Christians, perhaps a lot of what I said is completely foreign to you or sounds impossible. I can tell you that in my home, were it not for Jesus Christ, all of what I mentioned above would be a shabby, weak façade that would not stand up against any kind of pressure. I would be glad to discuss that further, too, if you would like.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why we don't have health insurance…

It started when I changed jobs and went from being a W2 employee to a 1099 contractor without benefits. We learned fairly quickly that insurance costs everyone a lot more than it should. Let me explain:

Whenever we would have a doctor's visit and inform them that we were "self-pay," they would usually cut the bill in half. So, while we were paying more than a co-pay would have been, the doctor's office was not paying as much for claims processing and was able to return that savings to us. But insurance for our family of six would have cost us a minimum of $300/mo.—a great deal more than the extra we were paying at the doctor's office—and not covered co-pays, have a deductible of $5000, and give us only the tiniest discount on prescriptions. To get any real "benefit" from health insurance coverage, we would have had to pay $800 or more a month, which is more than our mortgage payment! We decided that we could put that $3600-9600/year to better use:

1. Because we know we are going to have to pay more out-of-pocket when we visit the doctor's office, as parents, we strive to improve our children's (and our) nutrition by eating foods as close to "whole" as we can. Because we ingest few preservatives and processed foods, we are not sick as often. (Not spending as much time in the doctor's office waiting room also cuts down on our exposure to colds and flu.)

2. Because we are not spending as much on insurance, we were able to increase our grocery budget, allowing us to afford the more healthful, closer to natural and whole foods, which keeps us healthier, and therefore needing less medical services/coverage.

3. Because we have chosen to take responsibility for our own health, my employer also doesn't incur the cost of paying for my health/lifestyle choices, and can use that money to invest in the business, including being able to pay me more for the work I do!

So, our reasons for making the "deliberate choice" were a matter of finances and adjusting the way we eat and buy groceries. A by-product of this choice is that we also don't contribute to medical coverage that we disagree with. Insurance, in many cases, has the practical effect of "wealth distribution" and "rewarding" those who don't take care of themselves by providing them with medical care to fix the problems they incur from unhealthy living.

As Christians, we believe that every person is imbued with value—whether they are healthy, productive adults or preborn children or aged and infirm. So, rather than planning to put our parents in a nursing home (another expensive option insurance-wise) to "run out the clock" when they can no longer take care of themselves, we are planning to provide housing and care for them. In fact, we have already brought my mother-in-law into our home to live with us, BEFORE she can't take care of herself.

Additionally—and not surprisingly—we are pro-life regarding preborn children. Our research (and that of friends in the industry) has shown that of all the insurance companies in the country, there are only a dozen insurance underwriters (the organizations that finance—and profit from—the insurance industry). While an individual company may not cover abortion, their underwriters most likely do. An industry professional was able to interview nine of the twelve underwriters: all nine they were able to contact pay for abortions. So, everyone who pays an insurance premium (unless one of the other three doesn't cover them) is paying into a fund that pays for abortions. That's not something we want to be a part of.

We do recognize, however, that there are real medical needs that others don't have the money to pay for and we should be willing to take on the burdens of others as we are able. That's part of the reason we are making plans to take care of our parents as they age. But, we also learn of needs through our church, through friends, and through people God brings into our lives. Rather than sending a check off to an unknown company that will then send a check to cover someone's expenses, we believe we are supposed to be more involved in people's lives than that. Someone who is suffering a painful and/or life-threatening ailment or injury needs more than money to cover their expenses: they need love and caring. I can't provide that to every person who receives a portion of my insurance premium. But, I can provide that to the specific people God brings into my life. My family can bring people into our home to share a meal; we can visit people in the hospital and pray for them; and we can take a meal to families who are celebrating a new life in their home and are resting after childbirth. The healing process is usually much more rapid when a personal touch is included with the care, rather than just relieving the monetary burden. It's a blessing when we're given the opportunity to provide both!

Fortunately, it's actually more cost-effective and healthful to eschew health insurance and take personal responsibility for our own family's health. And more loving and personal to take care of individual needs rather than handing off the responsibility to a claims process.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!

In light of today's elections in the United States, I want to draw your attention to God's work in the town of Nineveh in the days of Jonah. Many look at today's elections and are fearful that we are going to get a leader who will oppress us. Others see that whichever of the front-runners wins, it will be judgment on our country. What we need, they say, is a miracle.

No Guarantees

Talking vegetables notwithstanding, most folks know the story of Jonah. They know he was swallowed by a big fish for disobeying God. But most do not realize that Jonah was not sent to Ninevah with the message: "Stop sinning."

God's message for Nineveh was "Nineveh shall be overthrown." Jonah did not call them to repentance. In fact, chapter four of Jonah tells us that he did not want them to repent. He wanted the city to be destroyed for its crimes.

But, God turned the hearts of the people of Nineveh. They believed God, and fasted and prayed and grieved over their sin, "from the greatest to the least of them." After the people repented, the king of Nineveh heard and called for a fast.

"Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?" —Jonah 3:7b-9

The king had no word from God that there was any hope for mercy on Nineveh. But he chose to lead the people to spend their "final days" in prayer and fasting, denying themselves, and turning away from evil.

But God DID relent.

God Judges Nations

"He makes nations great, and destroys them;

      He enlarges nations, and guides them." —Job 12:23

Throughout the times of the Judges and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, godly and ungodly leaders reigned. Some were magnificent; some were cruel. But the judgment pronounced on the nation was that the people did what was right or wrong in God's eyes. If they followed the practices of an evil leader, judgment came as a result of the people's actions, not the leader. (The leader suffered the consequences of his own sin, to be sure. And causing others to stumble carries a hefty penalty.)

When judgment comes on a people, it comes because the people have forgotten God. They have done what is right in their own eyes. They have followed in the sins of their fathers.

Our fathers, a generation ago, made the murder of the most helpless of society a right. But, that stemmed from generations prior disbelieving God when He said that children are a blessing, and a reward from Him.

Around that same time, women began to throw off the safety and responsibility of hearth and home, choosing different chores instead. In the name of equality, they have devalued themselves, so that now they are no longer protected within the home, but are expected to place their lives on the line for their country.

And our country is under judgment. Consider the divorce rate; look at the crime rate; see how heavy is our tax burden; think of the laws that restrict our very lives. "Sign, sign, everywhere a sign. Blocking out the scenery and breaking my mind. Do this, don't do that. Can't you read the signs?"

Removing the Log

In Economics, the Law of the Commons tells us why whales are endangered and cows are not. It comes down to ownership. Cows are the private property of the rancher. He takes responsibility for his cattle, for their health, their survival and multiplication. Whales belong to no one. If one whaler doesn't kill all he can, another whaler will. There is no incentive (or protection) to save some to protect the species. They're succeptible to "just one more" until there are no more.

Judgment is the same way. As long as we point to other people's sins and THEIR responsibility to do this, don't do that, we sin "just one more" time. "It's just a little white lie." "My employer won't miss one box of staples, one pen, one marker, one minute of my time." "It won't hurt if I just take one peak at that internet site." "I'll place one vote for the lesser of two evils; next time I'll fight for more righteousness." Ad infinitum.

Yes, pray for miracle; pray for deliverance. But, first pray for a heart of repentance. I have no word from the Lord that our destruction is coming in forty days, but given our current course—as history shows us—bondage and captivity are coming.

Lord, teach us to loathe our sin. Remove our hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh that cry out, "Abba, Father." We are children caught with our hand in the cookie jar. We need your forgiveness; we need your righteousness. We dare not ask for your justice to be poured out on your enemies, for we know that we would perish in its wake, were it not for the blood of Christ alone. Rend our hearts over our own sin, and help us not to commit "just one more" sin against you. Thank you for your grace and mercy upon us. Amen.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

FREE Online Screening of COME WHAT MAY

a Feature Film Made by Over 40 Homeschool Students

Homeschooling Today magazine is sponsoring a significant event this week that we want to share with you. Now through Friday, there is a FREE Online Screening of Come What May on GodTube and the American Family Association. Come What May is a feature film made by forty homeschooled students, including a dozen from Patrick Henry College.

This nationwide event is helping to get the word out about Advent Film Group (AFG) and their inaugural film. It also showcases the work of homeschoolers who are helping shape our culture. Most importantly, it is starting to help affect the November elections for pro-life candidates, perhaps even the Presidency.

Over 210,000 people have viewed part or all of the movie since it went into a "trial period" this weekend. The film is notable in that even audiences of "choice" have said that Come What May is causing them to "reconsider their position."

You can assist us AFG and Voters by watching the movie online and sending email referrals to friends and family. Please also consider buying a copy so that Advent Film Group can make many more films such as Come What May.

Here is some important information:

FREE Screening of Pro-Life movie: Come What May
For the next few days, October 27 - 31, you can watch Come What May for FREE by visiting:
  1. http://www.adventfilmgroup.com/freemovie

  2. http://www.phc.edu/comewhatmay.php

Direct Link to Articles about Come What May Free Screening Event:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Asperger's Syndrome and Homeschooling

I recently joined a discussion board (www.wrongplanet.net) for adults and children (and their parents) who have Asperger's Syndrome (AS). One note from a mom who has a 9yos who was recently diagnosed with AS and has begun homeschooling him caught my attention. I replied on the board, but thought there might be others who could use the encouragement as well, whether or not you are homeschooling a child with AS:

[My son] is nine. He is of above average intellegence but is lazy when it comes to learning or at least how I am teaching him. How do I find a way of inticing him to learn? He hates to read, and his handwriting and spelling get worse every year. I am on my third week and I feel like I am failing him. Anyone with any suggestions please HELP!

Don't give up. Three weeks is really a very short time considering the transition for him. Start with doing things he likes and finding a way to tie it to learning. Is there a topic he enjoys? Study it together. Read aloud to him, ask him to narrate a story to you (you can write it down, or record it to transcribe later). If he's lazy at reading, find a topic he likes and reward him for reading books on the topic. If necessary, get simpler readers that are "below" his age level, just to get him interested in reading. Sylvan Dell has some great science and math books that are colorful, fact-filled, and engaging.

Remember to give yourself and your son a break. If he has been in an institutional classroom for the last four or five years, then (a) his teachers probably experienced some of the same frustration with his learning style, (b) he probably experienced frustration with their teaching style, and (c) homeschooling is a completely different way of doing everything. The transition is not going to be a really easy one for either of you, but it will be so worth it.

The great thing about homeschooling (for all children, but especially Aspies) is that you don't have to teach every subject "on grade level." Grade levels and what is taught in classroom environments are based on age, average performance across children within that same one-year window, and the agenda of the particular school system. Since you have a smaller number of children than the classroom teacher, you don't have to follow what the school is doing. And since your agenda is to not only raise a competent adult, but to love your son, the way you do things will look totally different from a classroom environment.

When you homeschool, you can tailor the "scope and sequence" and pace of each subject to (a) your child, (b) yourself, and (c) your family life. For instance, your son may be stellar at math, doing calculus at age 9 (we actually reviewed a calculus book in the July/August 2008 issue (pg. 66) that was geared toward nine-year-olds). But, his handwriting may be closer to an "average" kindergartner. And perhaps he reading is "on level" but he's bored with the books he's offered. When you homeschool, you don't have to teach to a test, nor do you have to hold a child within range of the rest of the "class," so he can move on from calculus to quantum physics, read everything there is to know about trebuchets of the Middle Ages, and continue practicing drawing his letters with his five-year-old sibling.

Remember too that there is no one-size-fits-all curriculum—not in institutional schools and not in homeschools. Your child is an individual and so are you. Learn about teaching styles and learning styles, and find a combination that works for BOTH of you. There's no such thing as "getting behind." Each day, you try to take a step forward. Some days you have to back up and cover ground already trod. Some days you get sidetracked chasing rabbits, taking care of someone in need, or resting. And some days you'll play leap frog and cover lots of ground.

That's living life together as a family, and is greater than any "book knowledge" he will acquire.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Pioneer Departs — His Legacy Lives On

I recently received the sad news of the passing of DeWelle "Skip" Ellsworth, founder of the Log Home Builders Association.

Last summer, Skip contacted me after reading a blog post about my experience in class. Though Skip has children who are older than I am (and two that are close to my children's ages), I felt a brotherhood with him. We talked about freedom. We talked about Ron Paul. He talked about his sons and life in the Philippines. I talked about wanting to raise up my sons to be as fine men as he had done.

I am proud to have published two articles in the September/October issue of Homeschooling Today magazine that both featured LHBA. The entire issue is available online. The articles are featured on the cover and begin on page 38. I post them here as a tribute to my brother Skip, one of my heroes.

The Legacy Continues
Today, I received a note from the Log Home Builders Association:
It's finally here—we are excited to announce our first new class in six months. We expect this class to fill up fast, so if you plan to attend then sign up right away. The class date will be December 6th and 7th, 2008.

This is a very special class, because it's the first one we've ever had at the spectacular Wallace Falls Lodge in Gold Bar, Washington.

Wallace Falls Lodge is a beautiful three story real butt and pass log home that is a working B&B run by former students. That means that you have the rare opportunity to book a room for the weekend and stay at our class location, along with fellow students and your instructor.

Sign up for the class here: December 6th and 7th log home class

Book a room here: Wallace Falls Lodge Room Add-On (or feel free to stay elsewhere for the class).

Please note that there are only 8 guest rooms available at the lodge for the weekend, and we expect those to fill up within the next 24 hours.

I highly recommend this class. I highly recommend it as a discipleship opportunity for fathers and sons to attend together. If you go, I want to hear about your experience.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Making the "Leap" to Homeschooling

Susan M. asked:

I'd like to hear from parents of elementary aged students about why you decided to homeschool. We live in an area with the highest scoring public school system in the state. Now, saying that, we are in the lowest performing state in the nation, so I guess it's a dubious distinction. However, I still feel that the public schools here are inadequate and the private schools are not much better—only much more expensive. How did you make the leap from a "decent" public school system to taking/keeping your kids home to teach them yourselves? And what sort of reaction did you get from family and friends? Thanks, and God bless you.

I would like to answer your specific questions, and then offer a couple of additional comments:

Making the "leap" to homeschooling:

When we began homeschooling, we were in Texas and it was the beginning of kindergarten for my oldest son. We simply never enrolled him. No great leap for us.

That's Texas, though: one of the freest states in the country regarding homeschooling. Check with the Home School Legal Defense Association (hslda.org) for the laws in your state. Some states (and especially countries) are much more restrictive than others.

In addition to the legal requirements, there are also lifestyle and financial adjustments: perhaps changing from two incomes to one, creating a home environment for learning, radically re-organizing your schedule to include instruction in your daily routine, to name a few. There are also relational adjustments (in addition to the reactions from family and friends, addressed below): the family dynamic changes if you have had your children in an institutional setting (public or private), educating your child at home (or more precisely, within the context of your own family) will change the way your children perceive you. Your children may resist the change, at least at first. And the longer they have been in an institutional setting, the more they may resist.

It can be a big paradigm shift that Mom and Dad are teachers, "too." Though it is generally accepted that parents are a child's "first" teacher, the idea that they can be the "primary teacher" throughout childhood is a novel and radical idea to most. "Teachers" are professionals, they reason. The parents' role is to feed, clothe, and financially support. All training happens "at school." This perception is false, of course. Training and learning are life-long endeavors, and many of the important things we need to know in life are learned outside of "school."

Reactions from family and friends
Reactions vary. Some (in many cases, most) family and friends are offended by a decision to home educate. People homeschool for a variety of reasons: some because a child has special needs, some for academic reasons, some for religious reasons, some for political reasons, some for lifestyle reasons. And of course, many choose it for a combination of all of these. If your family and friends don't agree with you on your convictions to homeschool, then the reaction will be predictable. Homeschooling changes everything! Though there are (by 2005 estimates) between 1.7 and 2.5 million children in these United States who are educated primarily by their parents, the percentage of the population in any given area may still be pretty small. So the decision in some circles is a radical one: one that is not as "politically correct" as being "green" or giving to your favorite cause or working at a soup kitchen or staying on top of the latest technology trends or working 90 hours a week to climb the corporate ladder.

For some reason, when you decide to homeschool your children, it appears to most as one of the most extreme examples of living out your convictions. I suppose it is because it is such a visible manifestation and testimony about your convictions. Your children are "on display" whenever you are in public, or at a family gathering, or at the park with friends. So, observers will be trying to judge what they see on several levels. They may be watching to see if: a) they should make the same lifestyle change, b) it is as difficult as they think, c) it is worth the sacrifice. On the negative side, they may be: a) contrasting the things they value with the things you value; b) looking for a flaw in your convictions or their outcome to justify sticking to their own; or c) thinking (in the case of parents, sometimes) the fact that you are doing something different from what they did is a negative statement about the way they reared you.

Be prepared for the relationship strain that may come from this decision. If you are convicted to begin, stick to your convictions. But, also remember to be loving and patient with your family and friends.

Additional thoughts about "public" school
  1. The "public" school is not called that because it is "owned" by the public, but because the public pays for it by government decree. However, it is run and regulated by the government—local, state, and federal—and therefore the government sets the goals and agendas of the training that takes place there. Parents get one small vote (IF they vote) regarding the education of their children. But, because it's "public," majority rules and the public has the most say in the rearing of our children.

  2. The cost of government school is actually much greater than most private schools. We just don't see it because it's wrapped up in our property taxes. And not just ours; everyone pays property taxes, whether they have children in the government school or not.

  3. Who tests the government schools to determine how they score? The government does. And what do they test on? The things they have taught. If you are in the highest-scoring school district in the lowest-performing state, you might want to check the criteria by which the schools are scored. It is an extreme example, but if you went to business colleges and gave a test how well they taught deep-sea diving, you might expect very low performance. The "highest-scoring" school is irrelevant. The values it scores on aren't necessarily your values.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Whom Shall We Then Vote For?

A friend was recently lamenting over who is actually qualified to govern a nation. Anyone? Can anyone actually claim expertise, experience, and valor to do so?

Zaphod Beeblebrox, in Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy said "Anyone capable of getting himself elected should by no means be allowed to serve."

Some of the best leaders we have had have actually been chosen by others, rather than themselves. Especially when those "others" have considered what the Scriptures say about who is qualified to govern.

George Washington resigned at Commander-in-Chief, resolved to spend the rest of his life as a private citizen. He was called back into public office and offered the title of King! He refused that title and argued for a representative form of government. Again, he attempted to return to private life, but as our constitutional republic was formed, he was unanimously voted to serve as its first President. Many have argued that none who have followed him have come close to serving as well, including Jefferson and Lincoln (especially Lincoln, but that's another post!).

Four years ago, William Einwechter wrote the following and it's still valid today: http://tinyurl.com/biblical-standards.

The most difficult job we have as voters is determining how God would have us vote. No other consideration matters. He is the Judge of the world and He will do right.

We have to decide whether we choose the "lesser of two evils" that are presented to us as our "only" choices, and thereby choose "less" evil. Or do we vote for a godly man who is not considered popular enough to win the election?

If we are still concerned about the lesser of two evils, we will probably capitulate and not vote for the godly man because others will accuse us of allowing the "more evil" of the "two" choices to win.

If this is where you are, then consider whom God has used in Scripture to lead his people: Moses, a murderer, polygamist, stutterer; David, a runty, smelly, adulterer, the least of the least; Joseph, a boastful slave-turned-prisoner; Gideon, with only 300 men; Deborah, when the men all abdicated.

One sows, another waters, but God gives the increase. So that neither the sower or the waterer are anything. Don't worry about who can win; vote for who should win and leave the rest to God.

Vote for God's man and let God be God.

"Useful" reviews?

I got an email today telling me that 78% of people who have read my reviews on Amazon find them "useful." I'm not sure what that means.

But it did get me to click over and see what I've said there. I found this review of Lamplighter's reprint of The Spanish Brothers that I particularly like. I really liked the book, too.

If you're not familiar with Lamplighter Publishing, I recommend checking them out. Tell them I sent you.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Look What I Found for $2

In a box marked $5 $3, I found all of these books! They said they were willing to deal, so I offered $2 and they took it:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fireproof, the Trailer

Never Leave Your Partner Behind

Action Items:

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Education is Discipleship

What do you think of when you hear the word education? Most people think of subjects or a classroom. You may also think of a scope and sequence, of a start and end date, of matriculation and graduation.

What do you think of when you hear the word discipleship? Most people think of helping others in their "walk" with Christ. That may involve encouragement to attend church, pray, read their Bible, have a "quiet time," get involved in "ministry."

What does the Bible say about these two terms?

I recently received an email from a young father who is "getting ready" to homeschool. (His oldest child is "only" three.) I encouraged him that he has been homeschooling already, so there was no need to "get ready," just to keep doing what he's been doing. He replied:
...[O]ne of the arguments I have used with folk is that most Christian
parents separate education from discipleship whereas with homeschooling
both can happen simultaneously. And we have certainly been reading to and
praying with and for our children from the beginning, along with Scripture
memory work.

But I think we need to continue to reform regarding even this manner of speaking. We certainly agree that it is unbiblical to separate education out from discipleship. In fact, education as it is defined today is nowhere in the Bible. But there is a lot in there on training, teaching, and discipleship; and almost always in the context of parents and grandparents training up their children and grandchildren.

So we would do well to remove the contemporary notion of "education" from our vocabulary as much as possible and only speak in biblical terms. Rather than disciple and "educate," we simply want to disciple our children in grace, math, home maintenance, mercy, science, balancing a checkbook, esteeming others, writing, menu planning, worship, history, budgeting, prayer, biology, diaper-changing, justice, reading, marriage, etc. All of those "subjects" belong to God. There is not one that is outside of His creation, ordination, or interaction. Therefore, separating them is putting asunder what God has joined together. Too often, that means separating "God stuff" from the rest of "life." But Jesus said He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly.

Let us think God's thoughts after Him by speaking His words after Him.