Wednesday, May 28, 2014

If It's Worth Doing, It's Worth Doing Right!

If it’s Worth Doing, It’s Worth Doing Right
Homeschooling is difficult.  It is a constant balance of doing the have to and the want to, it is balancing being the Mom and the teacher.  It means we balance several full-time jobs that all require our constant attention and still strive to have a well-ordered, happy home that our hard-working husbands can come home to each night.  It is a constant balancing act of plates that could all drop on our heads at any moment.  I live this constant high wire act every day and I understand the strain but I want to add two more plates to the act.  The balance of character training and that of academic excellence.

Often we hear that we must choose our priority in homeschooling, whether we are going to strive for character development in our children or that of academic excellence.  I think this is a faulty premise.  Character training and academic excellence are not mutually exclusive.  They are not an either/or proposition, they can be different sides of the same coin - a great homeschool environment.

One of the goals in our homeschool has been to train and prepare our children for whatever God has for them.  In Jeremiah 29:11 it says, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  He has plans for our children and whether they are to be a wife and a mom or a Pastor or a Professor of Mathematics, I want them as prepared as possible to walk the path that God has set them on.  To do that, I believe that we need to focus on character development, spiritual disciplines and academic excellence.

Perhaps we are simply not asking the right question.  Perhaps the question isn't whether we should focus on character or academics.  Perhaps we need to simplify the choice by focusing on excellence.  The philosopher Aristotle said this, " We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit."  Perhaps this is what we need to focus on, striving for  excellence in whatever we do and making it a habit. If we are training our children in character, with patience and diligence, we refuse to accept unkindness or dishonesty.  If we are teaching our children, we refuse to accept a paper that is less than their best.  We need to calmly, lovingly and consistently ask for our child's best whether we are dealing with sibling rivalry, their bed not made or a math paper that is not done correctly.

Excellence should not be confused perfection.  I love what the actor Micheal J Fox says, "I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection.  Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God's business."  We are not asking our children or indeed ourselves to be perfect, we are asking for diligence and the perseverance to strive to do better.  We are not asking a child to get the answer the right the very first time but to promise them that we will keep going until they have it mastered.  We need to promise our children that they are not alone in this process but that we will be there to stand beside them encouraging and mentoring them.

At the beginning of each year, my husband and I set goals for our children in three areas, spiritual, personal and academic.  We recognize that our children need all three areas to be properly prepared to do what God has for them.  They need to know and love God, they need to be able to get to a class on time with all of their books and be able to to have the education they need to succeed.  We want to stand beside them and say, "You have some wonderful gifts that God has given you.  Let's work on your strengths to make them stronger and strengthen these areas of weakness".  Let us not limit our children by failing to recognize that we need to ask for excellence in whatever they do, whatever they say and how they act.


Saturday, May 03, 2014

Great Summer Fun!

This is an older post but still has some of my favorite summer ideas.

Here are a few new ones as well-

Jim Weiss CD's - We love these CD's.  They are great for quiet time during the summer as well as for car rides.

Khan Academy - I hate losing valuable math skills during the summer so a Khan Academy is a fun way to keep up math skills in the summer.

Scratch - I think every kid needs to understand what programming is and the basics if it.  Scratch is a great, fun, free way to teach programming skills.  This is the program that started Connor on his love for all things Comp Sci.

We are off having a great summer but just wanted to share some of my favorite summer finds. These are all suggestions for 7+ (ish)

 Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction

 This book has thus far been one of my favorite things for the kids. They have built crossbows out of pens and pencils, "hand guns" with tic tac "bullets", trubuchets out of spoons and so much more.

 Read Alouds

 We finished "The Hobbit" and are moving to "The Fellowship of the Rings". Scott likes to play the movie soundtrack while I read. Remember that even teenagers like read alouds and it is a great way to spend quality time together. 

 Adventures in Odyssey 

 We are listening to #55 and it tells the story of Sergeant York. If you haven't read the book, watched the movie at the very least listen to the AIO series. My favorite line, "I'm agin everything the Bible's agin.". I love that line. It's a great reminder that by being obedient to God we can do amazing things.

 Some Summer School

 Editor in Chief by the Critical Thinking Co. These have been great for my kids to practice editing and using all those skills, punctuation, capitalization and spelling. Life of Fred and / or Mathtacular Great, fun math programs! Gotta run to our next fun summer activity, hope you are having a fabulous summer.