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:


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 ( 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 ( 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:

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.