As a Christian homeschooling mother, I remember the struggle I had when my little boy started showing interest in dinosaurs. In a few words, I was horrified. I couldn't allow my little boy to grow up playing with dinosaurs because they are part of the evolutionary theory.
Imagine my surprise, when in my mid-twenties, I first learned that dinosaurs were real and unlike popular believe, they were created on the same creation day as man was created. I understand that some of my readers may believe that dinosaurs are millions of years old, like they believe our earth is, however since this is my blog, I'm going to write this post based off my beliefs on the subject, while respecting those that do not belief the same way I do. I expect the same respect if you feel the desire to comment on this post.
Attending a Christian school myself, I only heard of evolution as a ‘theory' but not much more was covered. My husband who attended public school had the same experience as I did.
Today's schools are different, including most homeschools. In public schools, evolution is taught as fact and creation is taught as fact in most homeschools. It seems that children who are taught higher mathematics aren't expected to use their reasoning brains to understand the world around them and be able to find their own faith in rather a Creator designed this complexed world and all that is in it or an explosion of sorts was the reason that all things exist today, changing from one kind to another.
3 Reason Why it is Important to Teach Creation and Evolution
- It Challenges a Child's Analytical Thinking – Children are born with analytical thinking and begin using it early in their life. This all starts when they realize that crying can get them what they need or want. As they grow, they begin further analytics of if I drop this toy, what will happen and a game begins. Next they learn what boundaries have consequences and which do not. As they continue to grow closer to pre-teens, they begin questioning if Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy are really true or fake. Not long after that, they begin questioning the religious faith of their parents or why their rules really matter. It is so important to continue feeding information for their analytical thinking, but not one sided. They need a lot of information and content to process, compare and analyze.
- It Builds the Ability to Give an Account to What They Really Believe – Recently, our family watched a movie called Evolution Vs. God. In this movie, it amazed me that so many people, including professors of universities who teach evolution, couldn't give accounts or answers of what they really believe or the why behind it. The same is true for Christians who say they believe in Creation. They really can't give much answers to why they believe something, but they just do. With the knowledge available to us today, with Scripture and science, every Creationist and every Evolutionist should be able to answer to the easy and hard questions when asked. Faith is a good thing for one person to have, but it is knowledge that takes a person for trusting to knowing. Don't we all what knowing faith in what we believe?
- It Strengthens Their Faith When Their Questions Can Be Answered – Doubt is a something that every person experiences often. The more knowledge a person has about something, the stronger their faith will be in that person, fact or thing. It is just human nature. Regardless of what you desire your child to know about our world, if it was created or evolved, you are demanding a lot of faith if you are just stating it with out further things to back it up. Education of this kind, with two views being taught as ‘truth' requires much more than just ‘it happened and you just need to believe it'. It requires more of a court proceeding, where evidence of both sides are being presented, different perspectives are presented and allowing the jury (your students) find their own truth. The evidence will do its job, if it is presented well. In the end, their faith will be strengthened and firm because of the evidence.
I taught our oldest two children, who now have graduated, this way and they are strong Creationist. To do this in our homeschooling, I had to pull together my own curriculum to ensure that they had the evidence they required to all of these 3 things for themselves.
I'm so happy to share with you that I have made that curriculum available to others who desire to teach their children both sides. I wouldn't recommend this curriculum for someone who desires to have their children to build their faith in evolution. I really don't know of a curriculum that shows both sides, giving evidence, that would give the result of building faith in evolution.
I have taught history with timelines for a long time and I truly believe that this is the best way to teach all ages. In the course of my homeschooling journey, I have found a lot of ways to implement timelines in history studies, but as a Charlotte Mason educator, I favor some ways over others.
In our homeschool, we use timelines in two ways:
- Lesson Plan Resource – Find people and events to study during a time period we want to study
- Lesson Plan Record – Record our studies
The way we use timelines, requires us to have a timeline that is full of great information to glean from for our studies and a method to recording our studies.
How to Teach History with Timelines
Lesson Plan Resource
Each school year, I have a time period of history we desire to study, which can include Biblical History, World History and/or American History. For my younger children, I use the Wall Chart of History to find people and events to study for the year. As my children become more independent in their lessons, they use the timeline to find people and events that are interesting to them to study for the year.
Once we find the people and events we desire to study, we use the library or our own books on our shelves to read and learn about the history of the things that we selected.
Lesson Plan Record
I have never been a fan of the timeline on the wall, but that is me and the influence of Charlotte Mason on our homeschool. Our preference is to have the children make their own timeline, from the people and events that we pulled from our resource timeline and enter them on their personal timeline as they study them.
We have tried several ways of doing our own timelines and trust me, I do have my preference, but you should always find what works best for your own family.
Timeline Record Options
- A blank one for the wall – You enter your own items, as you study them. This is a family resource, not an individual timeline.
- Boxes with Index Cards – You use one index card for each entry and separate the time periods in the box or boxes, if you out grow one. We sketched or used our favorite timeline figures on the front and used the back with lines to write a narration.
- Binder Books – We love using Binder Books and this is our favorite method of using timelines to teach history. We draw a timeline at the bottom of each binder book and add either our timeline figures or sketch our entries. We love how these fit neatly in a 3-ring Binder and can be stored wonderfully, making them amazing keep sakes. Each child has their own binder books, so they are very personal to them.
History can be fun and full of creativity and with timelines and timeline resources, to make it easy, it can be!
It is so important to find ways to involved dad in your homeschool journey. Even little ways can make for a stronger and rewarding homeschooling experience.
Last year, I was coordinating our local graduation and I had a conversation with a mom that still rings in my mind. I was asking if her husband had arrived yet, to line up for the processional and her words to me, shocked and saddened me deeply. With a face full of pride, she replied, “He didn't do one thing in our homeschooling of our daughter, so why should he be given the opportunity to hand her the diploma?”
As it was sinking in, I was feeling rather upset with her insights of her husband not being a part of the homeschooling of their child. I looked at her and said with a soft voice so others wouldn't hear me, “Who paid for the books?” Fearing that I may say more and at the wrong time, I moved on down the line of parents lining up for this special day.
This story is often one that I hear women discussing, but I would love to share with you some insights in my 15 years of homeschooling and knowing that without my husband support, it just couldn't happen.
7 Ways to Involve Dad in Your Homeschool
- Acknowledge His Providing Resources – For most homeschooling families, it is through the husband's providing for the resources and livelihood that allows the mother to stay home to teach her children. If you aren't acknowledging this gift from your husband and letting your children know of his labor of love that allows their homeschooling journey to happen, you should start today! Throw a surprise dinner for him, getting the children involved in the surprise and let him whole heartedly know you appreciate his part in your homeschool. My husband had tears in his eyes the first time we did this for him. I actually fixed a thanksgiving dinner for him and it was in September!
- Discuss Curriculum with Him – Early in our homeschooling journey, I hate to admit that I could have easily became this wife that I just mentioned. Since I was the homeschooling parent, he trusted me in my decision for curriculum. Well, until I blew the budget out of the water and got us in a pickle real fast. It wasn't pretty for a while between us, because he didn't understand the cost of homeschooling and I wasn't sensitive to our limited budget. At the point, out of a bad attitude, I told him that he will be coming with me and making the decisions because he ‘needed to see' how expensive it was to homeschool. Little did I know that my bad attitude was going to be the best thing that happened to our homeschool. This one thing caused my husband to want to listen to me when I talked curriculum and when I was having a hard time deciding on something, I would hand it to him and walk away to the next thing. He would come with the bag of the one that he felt fit us best and he was always right.
- Turn Dinner Time into Discussion Time – During important times in our children's live, self-confidence was an issue. My solution to that was to turn dinner time into discussion time. This was the time my children got to tell daddy all about what they were learning in their lessons or the fun things they did in their free time. I would give suggestions of things to tell daddy if it was needed to get the conversation started but it really helped to remove the stress of lessons from my struggling child and help build the circle of our homeschool to involve dad. We would sometimes play geography, math or history games as well!
- Plan Outings with Him – Many times, we would do our nature walk in the evenings, so we could get exercise and exploring done together. We also plan some of our field trips on the weekend or on his vacation. My husband appreciates it when we include him on some of our fun times, because he often feels left out when cool things happen and he only gets to hear about it.
- Let Him Teach Something – This may not be an option for all men, but my husband loved to help with math any chance he could. When my older children reached high school, I had a newborn in the house. My husband offered to teach their math and I didn't hesitate, although I love higher math as well. It was such a joy for all of us to have him do one of their subjects, even when it took some of our evenings.
- Weekly Recitals – Each week, I would have a time on the weekend where our children would recite their memory work for my husband. He loves to hear them reciting scriptures and quotes from history. My children loved having the praise of their dad for a job well done.
- Yearly Show N Tell – Each year, our children worked hard on a few projects that would be part of a display to showcase some of their work for the year. We would invite friends, who had their own displays to show, add some food and the dads. This has always been something that my husband looks forward to each year because it gives him a good way to see their progress and be part of the relationships we are building with other homeschooling families.
Remember the mother that didn't think her husband deserved to hand her daughter the diploma or even walk on stage with them? Imagine my surprise and joy, when about ten minutes after my ‘soft question', I saw her husband standing next to her in the processional line ready to celebrate together.
I gave her an approving smile and nod, as she needed to know that she made the right decision to involve her husband in the joy of celebrating and sharing the honor of the day, because it is from his labors that the homeschool resources were purchased.
I hope this gives you some inspiration and ideas that will get the dad of your homeschool feeling the part he is meant to play in your home.
You may enjoy reading how Homeschool Moms can benefit with these tips for preparing homeschool…
In my 15 years of homeschooling, I look back and see that two of my homeschool years were not as productive as they should have been. I completely felt that by not doing a few things, I had contributed to me feeling like I had wasted these homeschool years.
One of those years, our fourth son was born with Tracheomalacia in the middle of December, the rest of our year was wasted. I was only getting 2 hours of rest a day, mostly when my teenage daughter would care for the baby first thing in the morning. It took our son four months to start sleeping better, and still then it wasn't what our other children did at that age.
Although my children were learning life-skills during the time, I knew that if I had the right things in place, I would have been able to give them more opportunities to learn without me.
This can really leave a mom stressed, overwhelmed and emotional. Feeling behind isn't something that we desire, but sometimes it happens. Often times, I have found that these feelings from the year before can also effect the next year that we have high hopes to make better.
Understanding what makes our homeschool year feel wasted is key to overcoming this and not repeating the cycle that it can bring.
7 Ways a Mom Can Waste a Homeschool Year
- Not Planning for Lessons – Without a plan that includes a start and finish, can leave you feeling too relaxed with your child's education. This isn't far to the child, especially when it isn't just a season but a pattern. I use a yearly syllabus to keep me on track for planning for my children. This isn't labeled by the day or week, but a yearly outlook of what we need to accomplish. Many times this could be enough, however because my goal is to have independent learners, I do break it down further into assignments. If you aren't much of a planner, try a yearly syllabus and cross off things when they are finished. Knowing your year is not finished until the syllabus is done will help keep you on target. Part of our planning includes field trips and nature walks, which helps things not just be learning from home and offers that needed ‘break' from the syllabus.
- Not Planning for Interruptions – We all have interruptions, rather it is a newborn with health issues we didn't plan for, six weeks of sickness that leaves mom feeling less than capable of teaching or a health emergency of a loved one. If you are anything like me, you love to have a solid break from school, so planning for this unexpected interruptions are very important to the success of your year. I'm always looking for good resources that I can invest in that will allow me to use in place of our planning, and still be learning something. Often times these are DVDs or educational programs that we record for just one of those times. Also having a pre-approved list for free reading or assignments that would fit that year would be great for these times.
- Not Organizing the Home – I have found that it is better to take time to ensure that there is a place for everything in our home, then to take time during our ‘lesson time' to hunt for a needed item. When I haven't been as organized, the distraction of hunting for something makes it very easy for me to get distracted with a child, the phone or house chores. Of course, it would be the same way with my children, so I have to do what is necessary to ensure that our home has the atmosphere of education and that includes having an organized home, which saves us a lot of time and allows for full attention for what we are working on.
- Not Delegating Chores – My heart breaks when I hear a mom who gives so much to her household and feeling so wore out to the point that the homeschool is neglected because of the chores. I have always delegated chores to my children from the time they were walking, starting with them learning how to pick up their own toys. Yes, it takes time to teach them how to do these things but the reward to concentrated focus on teaching life skills is golden. Having dedicated time during the day for chores has been a key to our household. I can't recommend this enough! Although dinner preparation is my chore, I'm so pleased when my children come into the kitchen and offer help to me. This all has come because of the work ethic that chores has given them from a young age.
- Not Preparing for Non-Schooling Children – My biggest obstacle I hear when homeschoolers share with me is the interruptions of younger children during school time. The saying, “You are only as strong as your weakest link” comes to my mind when I hear these situations. If you aren't putting a good focus on ways and tools to keep your non-schooling children preoccupied during lessons (assuming you can't involve them), your year will certainly be wasted. These little ones are precious and just love being involved in what is going on in the house. Planning for what will keep them safe and busy during 15-20 minute lessons should be a big priority, as you are preparing for your year.
- Not Setting Boundaries – This is a tough one for most moms, including me. Having set boundaries for mom and children are crucial for a successful year. Some necessary boundaries for me are no phone calls in the morning (unless it is hubby needing something), early rising if I need computer time before dependent work, and only add learning outing to our homeschool schedule unless it is in the afternoon. Our children have boundaries for themselves and things that pull them away from the task at hand. I would encourage you to set rewards to celebrate and consequences if boundaries are broken. This helps solidify them and keeps everyone motivated. We have a lighter day on Friday if our boundaries are keep and thus our work is being accomplished. Often times, this is with friends or other things that are important to our family.
- Not Evaluating – The years that I didn't stop and evaluate progress found me looking at our year as wasted. I now do this weekly for things in high school and monthly for younger grades. Evaluating is a great way to see how you are implementing the other factors to having a successful year, as well as giving you the ability to adjust and improve where you have gotten off track.
There are times, even with these 7 things done right that your family goes through some of the hardest things you may ever go through and your year may feel wasted. Having these tips of how not to repeat and continue in wasting the year is what makes it useful to all homeschooling moms.
I love that it is a doable list that can work at any time of the year and allow a renewing that moms needs to overcome what is behind us and look forward with joyful anticipation for what good things lie ahead!
For many homeschooling moms, high school just sends them running. Many fear that they aren't equipped to teach high school from home, but from my experience the saying ‘knowledge is power' is true for this situation as well.
We have graduated two of our children using the Charlotte Mason method all the way through high school. Although neither of our children have decided to continue to college, they both knew exactly what they desire to do before graduating and were equipped to follow the path that they both desired.
Isn't that the key to the homeschool journey? Equipping our children for their future?
Here are the things that I found crucial in teaching high school from home and having confident graduates that entered the adult world, still wanting to learn and follow their unique path.
7 Ways to Prepare for High School at Home
- Learn about Your State's Requirements for a Diploma – I would recommend knowing what your state requires for a diploma when your child is in middle school. To do high school at home correctly, you need to have a well laid out plan for how they will earn their diploma. Once you know exactly what is required, you can write down a 4 year plan (or less) to reaching that goal but putting down the courses needed in the year that you plan on teaching it.
- Talk to Your High School About Their Interest – We start talking to our children early about their strengths, their gifts and their interest. We have found that their strengths and gifts were exactly what was needed to accomplish their interest. We tried hard to allow our children to decide on their own, but offered suggestions of areas that their strengths and gifts fit, allowing them to see that life after graduation isn't just a box of chocolate but an opportunity to do great things with the right focused and determination. Parents are the world's greatest life coaches, but they need to be at the practices to impact the game.
- Know if Your Child is College Bound – Assuming your child wants to go to college can be a waste of time and energy. The other can be true as well, if you don't desire your child to go because of resources. Talking about this early in their high school and having an open discussions about the pros and cons, the possibilities and what needs to happen if they do or they don't is really important for their direction in life. It helps them learn the necessary steps to making good choices that can impact their life forever, like marriage, a house and even a career.
- Does Duel Enrollment Fit Your Needs – If you know that you child is college bound or if you need help teaching them advance math, or other subjects out of your ability, consider Duel Enrollment at a local college. How this works is that as early as 11th grade, you child can attend a local college taking their high school classes, while earning credit for their high school diploma and their college diploma. This could be a great experience for those that aren't sure about the college decision, as well as an advance student that needs a little challenge in life. This option is growing in popularity within the homeschool community because it saves a lot of time and money.
- Consider Electives that Will Help Their Plans – If your child already knows what they will likely do after graduation, planning their electives to benefit their future is the best thing you can do for them. Our daughter wasn't sure what she wanted to do after graduation because her only desire was to be a wife and mother. I believe it is very important to not only redeem your time but use the gifts each person was gifted. So, her electives were based off her gifts (music) and her interest (photography and writing). Toward the end of her Senior year in high school, she decided to use her gifts to learn blogging, since it would be something she could still do as a wife and mother. All of her high school prepared her for the important elements for what she is doing and what she doesn't know, she learns online or at conferences.
- Consider Life Skills as Important as Academics – If you go shopping and have a cashier under 22 years of age (sometimes older) and they aren't able to give you change because something went wrong with the register, you will understand why I'm pointing out what use to be obvious… Life skills are important! Be certain that your high school understands not only how to make change, but the value of a dollar, how to bargain shop online and in stores, how to use eBay, Amazon and Craigslist, how to open a checking and savings account, how to balance a check book, how to understand credit cards and interest, how to invest and how to grocery shop. Additional skills to fix things around the house and vehicle are just additional life skills that will help them financially down the road.
- Mistakes are a Part of Life – Remember being in high school and the choices you made. Realizing that our children are human and will make mistakes are really important for them and you. My husband and I decided a long time ago that we wanted our children to learn from our own mistakes, then find out for themselves while under our own roof, since no one really learns from other's mistakes. As soon as our children had licenses, we gave them our debit card and told them to make a list for groceries and go shopping for us. We told them what we normally spend on groceries and sent them off. Knowing that I had taught them about price comparison and how to menu plan, gave me the confidence to do this. Most importantly, it taught them that we trusted them with our own money, with their decisions and when they made a mistake it cost us far less then what it cost others who have to bail their children out of a horrible bounced checks and over the limits on credit cards.
A few weeks after our second child graduated, I had went to a local store and realized that he never returned my debit card in my wallet. The elderly customer in front of me was still putting things back into her purse, when the cashier asked me how I was today. I replied, “I was doing good until I realized that my son still has my debt card.” The elderly customer turned to me and said, “And you trusted him!” A little shocked and taken back by her response, I replied, “Why yes! He has proven my trust since he was 17. Why wouldn't I?” She turned to walk away and said, “Well, that is your mistake!”
I didn't say this to her, but I'm going to say this to you… “Her lack of trust with her own children is her mistake, but my trust is my children is not a mistake, but my reward for the investment I put into my children's education.” There were a few times they went over our budget by $50 or so, but it didn't harm us and it showed them the importance of grocery list and meal planning. You can't buy that kind of education, you can only life it!
As our children grow, our confidence in homeschooling them begins to shaken. There is a shift that happens at the end of elementary and that shift is adolescences. A few things happens to a child during this time beyond the changes in hormones that most parents overlook or take for granted in their education. As a Charlotte Mason educator, my goal is to acknowledge them as a person and to educate life to them.
From my own experience of raising three child to this stage of life, I have found this to be true:
- They become self conscious of themselves (we understand this because of the hormone shift) and their self-confidence can be affected.
- They come into the age of debate and unchecked can become rebellion
- They seem clumsy, which can be explained with their shaking self-confidence
- They begin to question everything that they have learned up to this point
- They start craving independence
When I realized this with my first child and saw its pattern start with my second child, I knew I needed a transition during what most call the middle school grades, for this part of their education for life. These tips are from my own experience and I found them to be so effective that I wanted to share them with you!
7 Ways to Transition Your Homeschool into Middle School
- Focus More on Independent Work – The best place to get your middle school child familiar with independence is with their own education. Taking ownership over their assignments, not necessarily with their syllabus, although having some input from there is not a bad idea either. Preparing your year in advance will help you enable your middle school child to be more independent in their homeschool and will help with the transition for your homeschool and for their own growth.
- Provide Their Own Learning Space – Having a space that they can call their own is important, but only if they have proven themselves faithful in attentiveness and finished work in the time it should take them to finish it. Once my children have reached this age and level of accountability, they are able to work in their bedroom, at a desk, with their doors open. I check on them often and have found my middle school son swinging an imaginary golf club (his goal now is to be in the PGA, so it wasn't all bad, right) and sometimes drawing. During this transition, it is important to stay visible to them, until they have formed the habit to be faithful in their work.
- Implement Accountability – Although independent work is a focus for our homeschool in middle school that doesn't mean that my children are free to choose everything about their schooling. As I just mentioned about the learning space, I needed to hold them accountable to doing their lessons and check on them often. In addition, I would call out from another room, asking them what they were working on at that time. If progress wasn't made, they may have lost their ability to work in their own space and needed to finish near me. In addition, I would check their work daily and be sure they finished what was required.
- Increase Lesson Time – We always used short lessons as a Charlotte Mason homeschooling family, however during these years, we increase this to prepare for the extra work required in high school and in life. What normally would only be a 15 minute lesson could easily become a 25 minute lesson or longer depending on the subject. However, we never went longer than 35 minutes during these grades unless it was a field trip or nature walk.
- Implement Opportunities for Debate – If you have raised a child to their preteens or know someone who has, you will understand this important tip for opportunities for debate. If you do not implement debate in your homeschool, you will find it in your parenting because something shifts inside a child's brain at this time and they seem to need to debate daily. Many chose debate clubs, but our family used essays with no correct answers. This allowed me to get into the head of my child, without a debate between us. We used all kinds of things to offer writing practice through debating questions and even the struggling writer will enjoy this exercise because they enjoy telling you ‘the facts' according to them.
- Strengthen Their Faith – Knowing the need for debate and the natural questioning of all the things they believed to be true and now the strong desire to know for themselves it is true, we combine debate with our faith. Why do we believe something? Why is Creation true to us? Why do we disagree with evolution? This has been a powerful tool for raising our children to be strong in their faith of God and Creation, as well as the founding of our nation.
- Dedicated Focus on Gaps – The last thing any homeschool mom wants to happen is starting high school with gaps. Sometimes it happens! Using the middle school years to first identify and then focus on filling the gaps necessary for learning (not facts, but skills) should be very important to your transition in your homeschool middle school. If your child is still behind in their reading level, a good portion of their day should involve reading. My son's book list were huge during these years but this is where we saw the most growth. If they are struggling with spelling or writing, give the a lot of opportunity to be working on these. If they struggle in math, find ways to incorporate math in their playtime. These are the years that if you aren't able to get them over the important things of reading, writing and math that you should be investing in a tudor to help the be accomplished in these most important areas.
I understand that this list may not be the tips that you expected, but trust me when I tell you that these are the best things to put into your curriculum for these ages. You will be blessed with more than you know and your children will be reading for high school and the life afterwards.