Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Daily Focus: Encouragement for the homeschooling family

It was a sunny day in Southern California on September 11, 2001. As we were getting breakfast ready while watching the morning news, our then 7-year old eldest child was preparing his backpack before the school bus came. Then came the breaking news that has since changed America. I grabbed our son and 2 infant daughters, held them so tight, and swore that I would never let them go.

The idea of homeschooling had only entered my mind once before this date, and only because I came across a magazine with an article on homeschooling at my OB/GYN office right before giving birth to our 2nd daughter the month prior. In panic mode, I immediately paged my husband (yes, there were pagers used before cell phones) and told him that we were going to home school our children the next year. There was no way I was going to continue allowing our children to be subject to unsafe conditions while in public school, especially after what was unfolding right before our eyes! Therein was the problem: my heart was not in the right place, and I certainly had the wrong impression of why I should even consider homeschooling our family. Instead of listening to what the Lord was leading me to do, I was operating in fear and anxiety.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  ~ Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV

Fast-forward 7 years, another precious little baby boy, and a move across the country from California to Tennessee. Here we were, our children attending public school and me working 40+ hours a week away from my family. The Lord started to plant another homeschooling seed in my heart, but this time was different. I wasn't operating in fear and anxiety, but more like conviction. He was calling us to lay down our own fleshly desires by bringing our children back home to personally disciple them. Wow, what a concept! I'd read so many verses in God's Word that spoke of our responsibility to disciple our families, but didn't get the revelation until that day. God's grace was on us, and we knew that we needed to be in His obedience by doing what He said for us to do. That was 2 years ago, and we have enjoyed every minute since. Yes, we still operate on His grace daily, because we know that we are broken vessels in need of Jesus Christ. Our responsibility does come with it's challenges, but we believe that the Lord uses those challenges to keep us accountable and totally dependent on HIM.

As we look to Him daily for guidance, I am also blessed by the numerous blogs (please visit My Blogging Favorites!) and testimonies I read on a weekly basis that encourage and challenge me to seek Him in all things. One of my favorite daily devotional books is Daily Focus: A Devotional for Homeschoolers by Homeschoolers. After reading God's Word, I take a few minutes to read the encouragement found in this precious book. Just to read the stories of those who have traveled this homeschooling journey before me gives me hope for those times when I want to throw in the towel.

I'd love to hear from you! What have you used that is a daily source of encouragement; homeschooling or otherwise?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Our curriculum 2013/2014

(This post contains links to items I endorse and use with my homeschooling family.)

Happy Summer!
As we prepare to get our engines going for our new school year, I am excited to share what we'll be doing this time around. After much consideration and prayer, we've decided to do a more year-round approach to our school year. Although we still go with our grade reporting time frame required by our umbrella school, we will be schooling throughout the year to keep our learning more consistent. I have found that after 2 years of homeschooling (and 3 we did previously with our eldest child several years back), taking too long of a summer break meant frustration and stress once school came around again in August. We will be doing a more "Sabbath" type of schedule, which basically means 6 weeks on, 1 week off. This still leaves plenty of time for Fall break, Christmas break, and whatever other break you need to take when life happens. In all honesty, we all know that life happens more than not, so we're not keeping rigidly to this schedule so much that we're not flexible.

"Depend on the Lord in whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." (Proverbs 16:3, NCV)

God is so good and I'm so glad that He guides us with His direction and grace. I can make all the plans I like, but without Him, they are scattered to the wind. I cannot do anything without Him, and that's for sure! With that in mind, we will be starting this week with a few subjects, then full force next Monday. Our children will be in the following grades: DD 9th, DD 7th, and DS 4th. Our eldest graduated in June 2012, and he was home schooled during his earlier years, then again for his senior year. I definitely couldn't have done that without the Lord leading me to! Here is what we've been lead to use for our family this new year:

~ My Father's World: Rome to the Reformation
My Father's World: Ancient History & Literature
The Mystery of History II
Teaching Textbooks
Rod & Staff Spelling
~ IEW: Ancient History Writing Lessons
Apologia: Astronomy & Chemistry/Physics
~ Conceptual Physics (9th)
~ All-in-One English
~ English from the Roots Up 
~ A Child's Geography, volume 3
BJU Press Spanish I (high school)

We will also be adding a couple of reading assignments using the Progeny Press study guides, which we've used for my DD the last 2 years. We actually used MFW our first year of homeschooling and loved it, but decided to take a shot at piecing together curriculum on my own, which was not easy for me to say the least. After swimming those waters this past year, we are so happy to be back to MFW 100%, along with implementing what we did enjoy this past year, The Mystery of History! We will be using MOH to further incorporate our love of Biblical History along with MFW, which is already a sound and sturdy Bible-based study. That is one of the true beauties of homeschooling: we get to disciple our children on a daily basis!

I will be posting and sharing how we are going to organize our home school using our planners soon, so be sure to sign up to have my posts sent directly to your inbox. I will also be taking part in the My Father's World Blogroll over at Little Natural Cottage, so be sure to check it out and link up if you're also a MFW family. There will be lots of great sharing going on this year! What are you using this year? I'd love to hear what's working for you!