There are lots of challenges when it comes to homeschooling: kids’ bad attitudes, keeping learning fun/interesting, assessing various learning styles, being patient as a teacher, choosing curriculum, etc. I could go on and on. But something that has taken me by surprise is just how difficult it can be to stay on top of checking the kids’ assignments. I have found that as the kids get older, it becomes increasingly time consuming to check the kids’ schoolwork, tutor them through the corrections (because they often need help) and recheck their corrections. Our oldest two children are in 7th and 9th grades, and with each passing year their homework is more time consuming and challenging.

To see the system we use to keep track of assignments and hold our kids accountable to getting their work done, watch my video: How to Manage Homeschool Assignment Books

This was a big struggle for me last year. After a couple weeks of school this past fall, I recognized that this was going to be an even greater struggle this year. So I took my concerns to Principal Martinez (aka, my husband, Joe). Our mutually agreed upon solution: to divide and conquer. Joe would check the older two girl’s schoolwork and I would check the younger kids’ schoolwork. Now is it a perfect system?  It rarely ever is. Do we do it faithfully? No. Some weeks we are more on top of things than others. Ideally, we would like to be checking the kids’ work daily. It takes less time that way, rather than letting it all build up for us to check. It is also less overwhelming to the kids to correct one day’s worth of work rather than five days work. So this is what we aim for.

How about you? Have you run into any unexpected challenges? If you haven’t begun homeschooling, what challenges do you anticipate? Write in the comments below! We’re sure to have some great dialogue and helps as we discuss!

Keep doing life deliberately,

Trisha

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Our culture is so ridiculously busy. We have gone from an attitude of “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop” to lives that are too busy to be concerned with anyone else but me. The tendency toward a packed schedule has been my life story. Even as a child, I was a extremely active: afterschool jobs, sports, music lessons, speech, drama, band, 4H, and church activities. There was rarely a day that I did not have an event to go to. And though I was busy and managed to stay out of trouble, looking back I can see that there was not a ton of quality family time. I was pretty consumed by me: what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go. I think that my crazy pace (though it was filled with many, many “good” things), enabled me to become very self-centered.

I am not advocating dropping all extracurriculars, afterschool jobs, and the like. We don’t want to be creating a generation of lazy bums. But I wonder if there is a happy medium to be had: a schedule that allows for kids explore their interests, but not at the cost of quality and quantity family time. Is there a sweet spot that allows our children to be active, but also creates space in their lives to appreciate rest and give of their time to others?

I think one of the serious dangers of not creating margin in our families is that we are not only being selfish with our own time, but we are also leading (by example) our children to be selfish with their time. Time is precious. Time is fleeting. And when we fill our schedules so full of activities that we have no flexibility to meet the needs of others, we have severely limited how God can use us to be a blessing in the lives of others. We have no space/availability to be about our Father’s business.

I think there are a few questions we can ask ourselves to evaluate whether or not we have entered the camp of “too busy, no margin”;

  • Do we have a day where we rest together as a family, with no commitments (a day of Sabbath)?

  • Do we regularly (not every day, but frequently) sit down at the dinner table and eat together as a family?

  • Are we spending more than an hour a day in the car driving to school or extracurricular activities?

  • Do we have evenings available in a week where we can show hospitality to others, either by opening our home or meeting people elsewhere for fellowship?

  • Do we have enough time in our day to bring a meal to someone in need, pray as a family for someone who is hurting, help someone move, or another random act of kindness?

I am absolutely convinced that when our kids are adults, they will not remember the gifts they received, or the trophies, medals and ribbons they earned. Those things will all collect dust somewhere and fade from memory. But the things they will treasure, that will stay with them forever, are the experiences they had with their family and friends. I want to make space for my children (who like me are sinful and selfish by nature) to learn to open their eyes to observe the needs of those around them, to use their minds and hearts to consider how they can meet those needs, and to use their time and abilities to meet those needs. But if I let my kids’ schedules get too full with no margin, there will literally be no space for our kids to learn that selflessness and practice sacrificial love. I can’t make my kids selfless, but I can create an environment in our daily lives that creates space for those opportunities to learn and practice selflessness, kindness, and rest.

If you want to see more about how I schedule our homeschool days, click on the link: How I Schedule Our Homeschool

What challenges does your family face in creating space for margin and rest in your home? Do you have any insights or tools that you can share with other Doing Life Deliberately readers so that they can have success in this area? PLEASE, share your thoughts below!! We’d love to hear from you!!

Until next time, keep Doing Life Deliberately!

~Trisha

That’s a big title, I know. And I bet you didn’t know that God requires that His people homeschool their kids. But it’s there. Just look at Deuteronomy 6:4-9~

4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. – Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Ok, so He’s not talking necessarily about academically educating your children at home. BUT, He is talking about educating your children at home. Our faith in Jesus Christ is not to be a one day a week experience. God commands parents to not only walk with Him themselves, but to teach their children to walk with Him, as well. It is NOT the Church’s primary responsibility to disciple your children- it is primarily the parents’ responsibility to train up their children to know and love the Lord. There is so much rich instruction given in these verses. God does not require that our kids go through a formal curriculum or that they go through a confirmation class- though those things are good and worthy of our time. But God desires for Christian parents to saturate their homes with talk of His goodness, His love, His instructions, His promises. Above all, He wants parents to teach their kids not to be good people, but to be people who can’t help but do good things because they are so consumed by their love of God which permeates every aspect of their being: their heart, soul and might.

It is our conviction, that one of the best ways to convey this love is by home educating our children. This is our strongest motivator for homeschooling. The public school system is certainly NOT going to teach our kids to love the Lord. Their peers at school (on the whole) are not going to teach them to love the Lord. But if we educate them at home, for better or for worse, we (their parent’s) get to be their biggest influencers. And you better believe, we feel the weight of that responsibility.

The curriculum used public schools (and most private schools, for that matter) will not teach them to love the Lord. When homeschooling, we get to choose what curriculum we use. We opt to use Christ-centered curriculum that points our children to the truths of God’s Word- whether we examine the character and choices of men throughout history, examine science through the lens of scripture, marvel at God’s orderly character through math, or read literature examining the worldview and choices of characters.

Finally and most importantly, we can open up God’s Word every day together, pray, discuss what the Word means and how it applies to our lives (and your kids don’t have to be academically educated at home to do that!). It is our greatest delight to intercede for others with our children, to hear them ask questions about God’s Word and to see them choose to seek Him on their own. But these beautiful jewels of love for the Lord and character growth are not accidents. They are also not works that we can fabricate or magically produce as parents. They are gifts of grace from God- a beautiful blessing as we pour the love of God into our kids and watch Him grow them from the inside out.

Our kids are not perfect. They are as flawed and sinful as their mom and dad. Homeschooling is not perfect. Every homeschooling family struggles in different ways. But it is a gift from God to spend quantity and quality time with our kids, influencing them to love and follow hard after the Lord who loves them so much, “He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

If you would like to hear more about WHY we chose to homeschool, click on this link to see my latest video: The Top 10 Reasons Why We Chose to Homeschool

How do YOU deliberately influence your kids to follow Christ? We’d love to hear what that looks like in your family, so PLEASE, share in the comments below!!

Until next time, keep doing life deliberately,

Trisha

Who doesn’t want a grateful kid?  Every parent longs for their child to show appreciation for the kindness extended to them- whether by friend, family or stranger.

But a thankful heart is not something that happens by accident.  It takes teaching, nurturing and consistent practice. When Thanksgiving rolls around, we’re prone to reflect on the good gifts that God has given us.  Below are some considerations of how you can practice showing gratitude with your children and train them to have thankful hearts:

  • consistently teach toddlers and preschoolers to say thank you whenever a kindness is done to them.
  • when praying together (at meals, bedtimes, etc.), make it a priority to thank God for His kindnesses shown to you that day
  • create a poster, visible to everyone, where each member of the family can write down why they are grateful.  Make it colorful- even your smallest children will enjoy listing off and drawing things that they are thankful for.
  • make it a regular practice to write thank you notes to people who show you a kindness- whether a gift or service.  One mom even suggested not allowing kids to play with new toys until the thank you note is written!! (Way to go, Mom!)
  • be quick to draw attention to answered prayers and God’s provision.  Keep a list in a journal for yourself and/or a visible list or poster for the family to celebrate together.
  • praise God in the moment when you- mom or dad- are thankful for God’s activity in your life.  Impromptu praises show your kids that God is at work all the time and not just within the walls of a church or at certain times.
  • memorize bible verses that talk about giving thanks, such as Psalm 9:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, or 1 Chronicles 16:34
  • most importantly, regularly express your gratitude to God in front of your kids for God’s work of salvation through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ!

As Mom and Dad exemplify gratitude to their kids and give them opportunities to join in the blessings of a thankful heart, children will rise to the occasion and learn to be grateful, too.  November is a great time to purposefully up our thankfulness game and deliberately practice thanksgiving.

What are some ways your family practices gratitude?  Please, share your thoughts, ideas and suggestions in the comments below!

This morning started off with a bang. Well, not literally, but close. Our missions team to Mexico boarded our plane only to find out 45 minutes later that our radio transmitter is broken and either needs to be repaired OR we will have to board another plane. Either way, we will most likely miss our connecting flight. We’ll see. 😬

On the upside of things, I have the great privilege of going to Mexico with 14 outstanding individuals- one of which is my daughter, Hannah. The last time she was on an airplane she was 10 months old. And this is her first international experience and missions trip. We are all kinds of excited over here! I have literally dreamed of taking our children on missions trips since before they were born.  My various experiences on short term missions trips have had such a profound impact on my life: learning about other cultures, stepping out of my comfort zone to share the Gospel, doing things I would never do at home, deepening relationships with people from our home church as we share a cross cultural experience, worshiping God in a different language, etc.  I want my kids to see that God is not an American God. He is active and present throughout the entire world. His Son, Jesus Christ, came to be a savior for ALL people of every nation, language and skin color.  I want them to see real need and understand how much we have both been entrusted with and have excess of .  I want them to get a glimpse of God’s purpose for their lives- which somehow seems to gain clarity when one is removed from the distractions of our American materialism. I want them to see that this life is not about them- it is about Jesus Christ and living to be useful to Him in whatever vocations or contexts He gives us.

So… if you think about us this week, will you please say a prayer for our team? We have many young people on our team. Pray that:

  • this trip would have a profound impact on their lives
  • we would have hearts to see the physical and spiritual needs of others and a quickness to serve
  • we would bond tightly as a team- laugh, cry and be authentic with one another
  • we would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and respond to His promptings
  • we would have safe travels and logistics for our disrupted flights would be worked out
  • we would have great personal times in the Word and as a team
  • our families with be protected from harm, illness and attack in our absence

Thank you so much for your prayers- they are the greatest blessing to us as a team!! Stay tuned for more updates here through the week.

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.  It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 1 Timothy 6:6-10

I love how God often illustrates His word in our lives.  Upon returning from our recent missions trip to Belize, my husband and I had a lot to process.  Going on a missions trips will do that to you: flood your mind with thoughts about what you learned and the changes you want to make as a result.  One of the things that really stuck out to us this time around was the sheer amount of excess that we have.  Whether wardrobes, toys, school supplies, books, entertainment, and beyond- we have so much.  I think what we find troubling about the excess is how it can detract from Kingdom work: time spent managing our stuff, means time wasted from ministering to others.

Joe was processing the problem of excess in our home one day when the kids began fighting over toys.  It seemed the perfect opportunity for us to share about the meager means of the children we have encountered in Rwanda and Belize, and to  give our kids a small taste of what their lives are like.  Joe instructed the kids to gather all of their toys from around the house and put them in the basement. It took a while, but once the house was cleared of toys, Joe carefully explained that this was not meant to be punitive, but to help them understand what life is like for most children around the world.

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Two of our girls standing over a portion of their toys in the basement. When they were done collecting their toys, our basement looked as though a tornado had struck our home. <:-0

I was skeptical about this experience.  Surely the kids would be bored and fight more.  But in retrospect and to my surprise, I could not find a single negative thing about removing the kids’ toys for several weeks.  Rather than causing added strife in our home, I actually found:

  • the kids fought less, because there were no toys to fight over
  • they used their imaginations in play more (ex. role playing, building blanket forts, etc.)
  • there was more laughter in our home, as the kids looked to each other for entertainment rather than toys
  • they went outside to play more often
  • the kids spent a lot more time reading and drawing
  • the house was much less cluttered, resulting in less stress for me

After about three weeks, we decided to reintroduce their toys.  However, this whole experiment was brought about by the desire to rid ourselves of some excess.  So, I told the kids they could each keep 4 toys.  I know four doesn’t seem like very many toys, but we told them that if they wanted to keep sets like Legos, that would count as one toy. This meant that the kids had to work together and negotiate to keep their favorite toys.  They had to prioritize their possessions- what was most important to them and what could they part with?  I wasn’t sure how this part of the plan would go.  But to my surprise, there was barely a raised voice or negative word uttered by the kids as they negotiated.  I think they were just so thankful to have some toys back that they did not argue with Joe or I about the amount we were letting them keep.  I was delighted to watch as they helped each other out by reserving a spot of their choice to help another sibling keep the toy that they wanted.

Given the option, I would certainly do this little experiment again!  It was a small way to include our children in the missions experience and show them just how very much they have.  Purging our home of “stuff’ means less time picking up clutter- which means more time for more worthy endeavors.  And in case you are wondering, we sorted through the remainder of the toys and put some in storage (toys I have kept for my tiny niece and nephew to play with when they visit), slotted some for sale on the web, and others we will donate to a local thrift store.

How about you? Do you feel like you are spending too much time managing excess in your life?  Would you ever take your kids’ toys away? How have you simplified life in order to make more room to partner with God in His work?  I would love to hear from you!!! 

Do life deliberately today!

~Trisha