Teaching Your Kids to Care: Part 1

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It’s so easy, especially for homeschoolers, to inadvertently communicate to our kids that life is all about them. We’re looking for the perfect curriculum to meet their needs, engaging them in activities that they are passionate about, taking them on exciting outings, planning special parties and events and all that is good. We should be doing that, BUT, are we failing to instill in them a higher calling?

Why are we here? Why does God leave us on this earth after we get saved? Why not just take us to heaven then and there? What are we trying to equip them for? To get a good job? To be happy in life?

Continue reading Teaching Your Kids to Care: Part 1

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Q&A: Do my kids need to be in a co-op if I am homeschooling?

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Question: Do my kids need to be in a co-op if I am homeschooling?

Answer: Absolutely not. I homeschooled my kids for 37 years and never had any of them in a co-op. There wasn’t any such thing ’till recent years.

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Why Did We Homeschool Our Children?

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We were home schooling when nobody was homeschooling. We started with our firstborn son in his kindergarten year, 1980–81. It started out as a matter of convenience but soon grew into a conviction.

Close to 40 years later, we have never experienced a moment of doubt as to our choice. That little boy in kindergarten is now a college graduate, a lawyer and a married man with five children, all of whom he and his wife plan on teaching at home. He is also the eldest of our fourteen sons and daughters. His younger siblings, some of whom are also the parents of our 16 grandchildren, are homeschooling as well. Obviously, our children are as pleased as their parents are with the method of education we chose.

Over the years, of course, curious people have asked us why we made the decision to begin and continue homeschooling our children. There are many reasons we love it, but for the sake of brevity I’ll share just a few here.

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10 Tips for Teaching High Schoolers at Home

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We home schooled all of our children (14 of them) all the way through high school. And I am so glad that we did.

Here are 10 tips that I have learned through the years of homeschooling highschoolers that can help to make these years more enjoyable, effective, and productive for you and your kids.

1.Don’t be afraid to substitute creative subjects for what is usually taught in high school. Public schools don’t have the one best plan for education. Every young person is unique. One of my daughters wanted to do biology, advanced biology, first aid and advanced first aid for her science credits. That’s fine. Don’t feel like you have to follow a public school plan.

2. Ask for input from your student. Ask them how they learn best, what they would like to learn, what curriculum looks good to them. The more input they have into what they learn, the more they will invest themselves in learning.

3. Be sure you have an outlet for your high schooler to invest in the lives of others. Teaching them to have a servant’s heart and not be self-focused is key. Teach them to look for needs in others and extend themselves in meeting those needs. If you instill that in them, you’ve been a success. Life is about serving others, not pleasing self.

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Part 3- I’m Done Homeschooling: “10 Things I Would Do Again”

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Last post I told you about 10 things I would do differently, right from the start of homeschooling my children if I had the opportunity to do it over again.

This time, I want to share with you these 10 things I would absolutely do over again- just maybe MORE so!

  1. Study my child to learn their passions, desires, what inspires them, what discourages them and teach accordingly. Plan what I see my child as needing to study, not some prescribed program.

I certainly didn’t start my homeschooling this way, but it wasn’t too long before it was clear to me that each child had unique strengths and compelling interests. It became a delight for me to see those passions develop and seek to provide them with tools, materials, animals sometimes to let them explore those areas of interest. I found that as one child passionately pursued their area of interest, we all learned and grew with them. From keeping rabbits, to building bookcases, to raising guppies, to being involved in civics, to photography, etc etc. our family learned right along with the one who was so interested in the topic.

  1. Listen to and ask for their input on how they learn best or which curriculum to choose

School Books

Some curriculum that worked well for most of my 14 kids, was horrible for some of the others. Kids think and process information differently. There isn’t a cookie cutter way to teach that fits everyone. I learned so much when I asked my kids who were struggling with a subject, how they could learn better, how I could teach better. It moved us more “out of the box” but it worked. Do what works. It doesn’t matter how they teach it in school! If your child is more invested in what curriculum he uses, he’ll try harder to learn.

  1. Let them explore their interests and passions

I could write a book on interests my kids explored!  Sometimes they were wildly interested in something for a short time and then moved on to something else. That’s ok. They are exposed to more things that way. Sometimes their interest lasted years or into adult-hood. That’s fine too. God gives us those desires to learn and explore. Use them. Don’t squelch them. Some of the things my kids were interested in: genetics, garden ponds, bird houses building, rabbits, chickens, photography, writing, politics, history, building bookcases, fixing things that break, wildflowers, baking, candy making, etc etc.

Continue reading Part 3- I’m Done Homeschooling: “10 Things I Would Do Again”

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Part 2- I’m Done Homeschooling: “10 Things I’d Do Differently”

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In my homeschooling journey of 37 years, I learned a LOT and changed the way I approached education as well. When I started out, I had a pretty traditional approach to education and never questioned that what was in the book was what my child needed to know.

Here are some conclusions I came to and things I would have done differently from the start had I known.

  1. Don’t feel like I have to teach everything that is in the book or finish every book.

Don’t be afraid to scrap a book mid-year and try something else. Some books that worked well for most of my kids, just frustrated others. What works well for one doesn’t necessarily work well for the next child. Kids just learn differently. If you’re rolling along and find something included in the book that you don’t think your child will ever need, feel free to skip over it. Or if you’re in mid-year and the book you’ve chosen just isn’t working, try another. It’s okay. It’s not only okay, it’s the wise thing to do.(Here are 5 tips for choosing curriculum)

  1. Don’t assume that a government school course of study is best for my child

I just automatically thought that government schools had studied kids and knew what was best to teach each child at each level/age. That just isn’t true! You know your child so intensely. Don’t be afraid to follow your instinct, or better yet, God’s leading for each individual child.

  1. Don’t hold my child to standards of “where they’re supposed to be” or hold them back because they are learning too quickly

I allowed each of my children to progress at their own rate in every subject, at least after my first few years of teaching them. They may be a couple grades ahead in history and a year “behind” in math, but that’s okay. They need to be free to progress at a rate that challenges them but not overwhelms them and that that will be different for each child.

Continue reading Part 2- I’m Done Homeschooling: “10 Things I’d Do Differently”

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I’m Done Homeschooling

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This was an emotional post for me to write! I guess I’m just weird. I hear people who graduate their last child and are so relieved and happy- wanting to throw a party for themselves. I’m happy, but I’m sad too! I am just wrapping up my 37th (and last) year of homeschooling. Kasey will finish up probably this month. (She took a little “intermission” to take an intensive class in order to attain her private pilot’s license). It’s not that I won’t know what to do with my time, not that at all. I’ll actually miss what has become a life-style for me- getting up in the morning and “doing school”.

Can’t believe it’s been 37 years, and I can’t believe I won’t be doing that this September!  I’m going to do another blog post sometime sharing some of the things I’ve learned over the last 37 years and how I became a better teacher as I learned about learning in general. I’ll share what I’d change if I could and what I’m glad I did the way I did it, but for this post, I just want to encourage you that if you’re overwhelmed by homeschooling and feel like it’s dominating your life, that’s totally normal and the day will come sooner than you might wish that you’ll be wrapping up your journey in homeschooling too.

Rick teaching our little guys- in the early ’80s
Our oldest boys doing schoolwork- around 1988

I just want to list for you what I LOVE about homeschooling and what I’m bawling about as I write about how I’m going to miss it.

(you can see 14 more reasons Why I’m Glad I Homeschooled, here)

Continue reading I’m Done Homeschooling

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Tips for Teaching Preschoolers

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tips-for-teaching-preschoolers

Preschool is one of my favorite ages to teach. The love of learning is so strong. Everything is so exciting and fun for this age. With my own preschoolers, my goal was to be sure not to squelch but enhance that God-given love of learning.

I do believe a schedule benefits children by building in them a sense of security. For this reason, I scheduled times to work with my preschoolers so they knew what to expect and what was expected of them.

Keeping them Occupied:

I found early on that to a large degree, my success in home schooling many ages at one time was dependent on how I managed my preschoolers. Preschool children have the potential of being a major distraction to the learning environment and must be handled wisely.

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The Dumbest Question I Ever Heard is Now History

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dumbest-question

I was chatting one day with a teenage boy who worked for me and somehow the conversation turned to the subject of studying history.  Young Sam didn’t see the point of it.

“Why,” he reasoned, “should I care about things that happened before I was even born?” Now, I’ve heard it said that there’s no such thing as a dumb question, but..well, as I said Sam was young.

Personally, I love history.  Especially American history.  I believe that it is the most important academic subject we teach our children.  That’s why my wife and I wrote our elementary (Providential) American history text books.  That’s why I saw very little of Marilyn except the top of her head for a year and a half—it took eighteen months for her to write For You They Signed, a book of character studies from the lives of the great men who signed the Declaration of Independence.  That’s why I spend so much time recording great old books for kids in my Uncle Rick audio book clubHistory matters far more than most people think.  The only reason you were bored with in school is that it was poorly taught.

As I tried to explain to my friend Sam, certain things could not happen in the present if certain other things had not happened in the past.  For instance, if Sam’s mother had never met Sam’s father in the past, there would be no Sam in the present.  Just little things like that.

The events of the past made the world in which we live for the present.  Today, things are happening that will determine what will happen tomorrow.  “Now” is the meeting place of eternity past and eternity future and it is not possible to separate the three time periods.  They are siblings; in fact, conjoined triplets.

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4 Types of Learners

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Have you ever been frustrated with trying to teach one of your kids? That’s normal!

Every child is different, and yet in the teaching of my 14, there are some things I noticed that might help you in your experience. I found apart from learning styles, such as visual, auditory, etc., there are also distinct motivational differences in kids.

I boiled it down to basically four different motivational categories my kids seemed to fall into, although each brought their own distinctive traits into play as well.

# 1 The Self-Directed Learner

This child likes to set his own goals and thinks in terms of challenging himself. He loves to pick a target and shoot at it (often a first born). He is bored with too much guidance and needs to work at this own pace. He is not easily discouraged by setbacks, he seems to do his best when allowed as much freedom as possible to design his own plan, set his own pace, and set his own objectives on his way to his ultimate goal. Be careful not to discourage him by making him stick to the plan in the book. He may have thought of a better way to do it!Little boy writing homework in the room with smiling

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