One of the things that I love about teaching homeschool is that it provides ample opportunities to see God’s character through the things that we are learning as a family.

I didn’t always think this way. But a few years ago, Joe and I attended a homeschool conference and the keynote speaker, Voddie Baucham, really challenged parents: Everything that we learn in homeschool should point our kids to the greatness of the Lord. Learning is not primarily about acquiring knowledge for the sake of stuffing our heads full of facts. What we learn in homeschool should point us to worship our Creator and draw us into greater intimacy with Him.

We see God’s unlimited intelligence, creativity and splendor as we examine the physical world around us in science. We enjoy His beauty in the sounds of music and the colors and shapes of art. We see his faithfulness, purpose and plan throughout history. We see His humor, ingenuity, emotions, and compassion in the use of language. But what can we learn about God in math??

1 Corinthians 14:33 says, “For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.”

I see this exemplified in every page of math that we cover in homeschool. Have you ever noticed that if you place a decimal one column too far to the right or left that your answer is wrong? Or that when you write out a math problem and don’t get the columns perfectly lined up, then your answer comes out wrong? My point is that math is about precision and order. You don’t haphazardly get “right” answers. Everything has to be done in a certain pattern or alignment- whether the steps followed, or the way the problems are written out. And where did math originate from? GOD. So this mathematical exercise that we take our kids through in homeschool everyday has the potential to teach them that God is a God of ORDER, not confusion or chaos. He is not trying to trick us or play us for fools. But just like math, He is an orderly God, a consistent God, a peaceful God.

In the same way, I believe that math can teach us about God’s attention to detail. The examples I cited about math above illustrate the order and detail needed when performing math. The Bible gives us multiple examples of God’s attention to detail. Here are a couple:

“Why, even the hairs of your head are numbered.” ~Luke 12:7

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” ~Matthew 10:29-31

Do you realize that we lose 100-125 hairs every day, on average? Yet at any given moment, God knows how many hairs are on each of the almost 7.5 billion people that live on earth!!! Not only is God an active mathematician, but His attention to detail is limitless. And God is not only aware of every little sparrow in existence, but he also knows their value (which changes from time and place)! And if He knows the value of two sparrows (because what person even cares about the value of two sparrows?!?!) AND cares to know the exact number of hairs on any one person’s head, He must really, really love His creation (US!!) to pay that much attention!!!

Other examples of God in math…

“Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” ~Psalm 32:2

You have kept count of my tossing; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” ~Psalm 56:8

“He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.” ~Psalm 147:4

I am most thankful for what God does NOT count or number. When we have placed our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have assurance that God will NOT count our sins against us because the punishment for our sins was paid for by the perfect sacrifice: His son, Jesus’, life on the cross. Three days later when Jesus rose from the grave, He defeated sin and death, taking away their power. His sacrifice in our place made it possible for us to be set free from the debt that we owed God and enabled us to be reconciled to the Father now and forever. Yes,

“Blessed is that man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” ~Romans 4:8

Oh, the joy of learning about God- even in math!!

What can you learn about God in math? I’d love to hear how YOU are Doing Life Deliberately in your learning! Please share what God is teaching you about Himself below. We’d love to hear from you!!

~Trisha

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One of the unexpected joys of homeschooling is watching our younger children learn from our older children. Sometimes, it’s on purpose. For example, I have had the older kids read to the younger kids (watch my latest YouTube video: How to Teach Kids to Read in Homeschool ). I have also had our oldest daughter teach grammar to our son. I found myself in a place where there just wasn’t enough of me to go around, so I leaned into Hannah to help teach Gideon. An added benefit was it was reviewing the basic parts of speech and diagramming sentences (she had been through the curriculum just a few years before). So while I was teaching one of her younger sisters, Hannah read the scripted grammar curriculum to her brother. Mind you, it’s not a perfect scenario. Siblings fight and so some days were a little hairy, but we got through it!

But I think what is most fun, is the many times where our two younger children have recited something that they had not been directly taught, but rather, have caught from watching and listening to their older siblings do school. Our youngest daughter is now seven years old and a third grader. Learning has come pretty easy for her because she has picked up so much from just hanging around while I taught school to the older kids: poems, grammar chants, times table songs, books of the Bible set to music, Bible memory verses, etc. Things that took the older kids weeks to learn, Izzy already knew when we came to it in the curriculum.

I see evidences learning by “catching” in my kids’ music lessons, as well. All four of our kids take piano lessons. My oldest has recently discovered that the music to the video games she loves is available in sheet music or through tutorials on YouTube. As her younger siblings have heard her practice and sing the songs, some of them have “caught” the fever, too. Finding music that they love has heightened their interest in playing the piano and tackling a level of difficulty that they would otherwise avoid. It has been really fun to watch!

One of the benefits of homeschool is not only that mom and dad get to spend more time with their children, but that siblings can interact more, as well. Homeschooling is a great way to give your kids more opportunities to positively interact with one another. Playing learning games together, teaching a younger sibling a school lesson, entertaining toddlers and babies while mom teaches… these are all ways to teach our oldest kids to consider the needs of others and act upon that in a self-sacrificial way, thereby learning and practicing kindness to those they spend the most time with.

How do you see your kids learning by “catching”? PLEASE, share in the comments below- we’d LOVE to hear from you!!

Keep Doing Life Deliberately,

Trisha

calculator-calculation-insurance-finance-53621.jpegTeaching spelling might be a bit challenging, because I have to adapt to my kids’ different learning styles. (Click here to watch my latest video “How to Teach Spelling in Homeschool.)  But math…I am NO math genius. Though arithmetic never posed many problems for me, algebra kicked my butt on a regular basis as a teenager. I never flunked, but it certainly did not come easy to me. Looking back, I wonder if my brain was just not quite fully developed enough in that area to grasp concepts that came much easier to other kids. Who knows? Now that I have taken algebra at the highschool level, college level, and have to help my 13 year old daughter, I feel like I am FINALLY starting to “get it.” And now that I get it, she is starting to surpass what I ever learned.

Ugh.

Well, to all the mathematically challenged homeschool parents out there, there is good news. There has never been as many resources available to parents to teach their children as there are now. I have been so thankful to have a mom with a teaching degree to pass on tips and tricks to me, as well. And I am thankful for the many different curriculums and helps available. I’d love to share some of them with you!

  • Saxon Maththe curriculum we used with all of our kids during the grade school years and beyond. Saxon is not colorful or fluffy. It’s been around a long time- I remember using it for pre-algebra in the 8th grade. But what Saxon lacks in aesthetics, it more than makes up for in substance. It is extremely thorough- teaching kids mastery in math facts, slowly building skills as they gradually add concepts from one day to the next. Our oldest daughter used Saxon all the way through Saxon 8/7 in the 7th grade.
  • Teaching Textbooks (a computer math program that instantly checks and records grades) is available for all ages. We switched to Teaching Textbooks when our oldest was an 8th grader and she tested into Algebra 1 (with a history of Saxon Math). We now have two children using Teaching Textbooks and it has been a huge blessing to our family!! Both of our girls detested math more and more as they got older and the material became more challenging. But when we made the switch to Teaching Textbooks, their attitudes improved tremendously! This curriculum is visually stimulating, has little characters that encourage your student(s) whether they answer correctly or need to try again, immediately corrects their work, and keeps a record for you. Parents can easily go into the record book to adjust grades or erase problems so students can try again. This curriculum has preserved my homeschool mom sanity just a bit longer!!
  • Saxon CD ROMs Saxon does put out teaching CD ROMS for their 4th grade and above curriculums that you can purchase in addition to textbooks. These CDs contain a lecture, practice problems, and work through each problem found in the text, if desired.
  • DIVE CD ROMs– These CD ROMs also accompany the middle to upper levels of Saxon Math. They include a proposed syllabus to help you stay on track throughout the school year and finish the curriculum. The lecturer encourages students to write down problems as he explains examples and challenges students to keep a positive attitude. I really liked these CD ROMs. The examples are NOT the same ones found in the books.
  • Xtra Maththis is an app that you can purchase (currently $4.99 on the IPhone) that makes practicing your math facts fun and easy. It can be used for multiple students and sends mom or dad a weekly report so they can see the progress their kids are making. It takes 5-10 minutes 5 days a week.
  • Manipulatives– This is something that my mom tipped me off to very early in our homeschool experience- and I’m so glad she did. Several grade school curriculums will require that you purchase a set of manipulatives, which may or may not include a plastic clock with moving hands, plastic shapes, a balance, linking cubes, counting bears (or another animal for teaching arithmetic in a fun way), flash cards, etc. There are lots of household items you can use, though, to teach early elementary math concepts and make it fun: beans, buttons, grapes, tongue depressors, pencils, etc. These types of items help make learning fun.
  • Tutoring– Sometimes math can just be daunting- especially in the highschool years. If you find yourself in that place, consider calling a local highschool or college and talking to a teacher/professor. Ask if they can recommend students that would make good tutors. You can also seek out the many afterschool tutoring centers that are now available.
  • Khan Academy videos– I have never made use of this resource myself, but many people have recommended Googling these videos as another option for help with upper lever math problems.

So there you have it! Those are our best tips and tricks for surviving math. What recommendations do you have based on your family’s experience with teaching math? We’d love to hear from you! PLEASE, leave your tips below!!Sp

Keep Doing Life Deliberately!

Trisha

*I am not currently an affiliate for any of these products and do not receive a commission for any purchases made. We have enjoyed and appreciated these products and commend them to you based on our experience.

IMG_9868I KNOW that when my kids are having fun, they are more likely to remember what they are learning and to come back for more.  (My recent video, How We Teach Through Field Trips, shows how we used a trip to a nearby raspberry farm to teach our kids where food comes from and include them in the process of making jam.)  And yet, keeping learning light and enjoyable is admittedly something that I struggle with. There are lots of things that I can do well, but I am not, by nature, a clever or comedic personality. So creating a fun atmosphere or planning amusing activities is work for me. But, well, this blog is called Doing Life Deliberately for a reason. So I am convicted that this is an area I need to intentionally “step it up.”

I’ll share with you some ways that we have, over the years, truly enjoyed learning. I’ve asked the kids to share some of their favorites, too.

  • Science Labs- for several years we have joined friends bi-weekly for science activities. One of our dear friends took it upon herself to organize a schedule for the year (we were all using the same curriculum) and she would invite a handful of families. Every other week we would assemble in her home to wrap up each chapter. The kids would review the material together and complete a project or experiment together. The kids have made jello replicas of human cells to learning the periodic table through a game of battleship to adding mentos to a 2 liter bottle of coke. Every session was ended with a time of fellowship for kids and parents- we ALL enjoyed it!
  • Field Trips- who doesn’t love getting out of the house and letting someone else teach their kids for a day?? Some of the most fun field trips we have taken have been to a local nuclear power plant (they had a fantastic visitors program- it was fascinating!!) and a local park program that took half a day to explain to us how maple syrup is harvest (followed by a pancake lunch!). Not to mention zoo, local park programs, art museums, etc. Keep your eyes open- you’ll be surprised to find what’s available around you!
  • Guest speakers- Ask someone you know to speak to your kids (and invite others to join you) about their area of expertise. Better yet, have your kids tour where they work and make it hands on (if possible).
  • Museums- We have had great fun at many of our local museums! When we were studying human anatomy, we visited Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry wher they had a hilarious presentation on digestion that had us all rolling on the floor. Their human body section was phenomenal and hands on- tons of fun. We have also enjoyed Milwaukee Public Museum where they have a butterfly garden where they fly loose and you can observe them in a natural setting.
  • Videos- We don’t utilize a lot of videos, but once in a while, they can be great fun. One example I can think of is the video my friends made of their family processing the honey from their personal hives. It was an extended family affair where everyone came for a day to collect the hives and extract the honey. It was so much more fascinating to see it than to read about it in a book.
  • Mentorships- Do your kids have an interest in a particular skill set? Perhaps pairing them with a mentor would be a great way for them to learn in a hands on fashion. Whether wood working, computer programming, dog grooming or nursing, find a trusted individual to meet with your child who can share their passion in a personal and tangible way.

Well, now I am motivated to take a look at the calendar and plan out some fun experiences. I hope this encourages you, as well!

Do you have more ideas you’d like to share with the DLD community?? Please, share your thoughts below!! We’d love to hear from you!!

Keep Doing Life Deliberately,

Trisha

img_1617.jpgWhile we may be cooped up inside during these cold winter days, there are lots of ways to help the kids stay active outside- whether hot or cold. Here’s some ideas- see what works for your family!

  • Biking- take advantage of local trails, throw the bikes in the car and head to a local or state park, mountain bike, etc.
  • Walking and Hiking- again, take advantage of local trails, take a stroll through your neighborhood, or head to a local scenic destination
  • Geocaching- find an app on your smart phone, pop the kids in the car, and head out for a 21st century scavenger hunt. Don’t forget to bring a few small baubles with you to replace anything you take on your little adventure.
  • Tennis- lots of area parks will have tennis courts you can take advantage of. Bring your rackets and a set of balls and enjoy hitting some back and forth. You can look up the rules of the game online (if you don’t already know) and learn how to properly score.
  • Football
  • Baseball- again, many area parks will have local diamonds you can take advantage of. Call some friends and have a pick-up game! Or you can play catch and practice hitting on your own.
  • Take your kids to a local playground for some unscheduled playtime.
  • Disc/frisbee golf- though you can play with any frisbee, there are specific discs made for driving and putting that can be purchased at your local sporting goods store. Look up the rules online and locate a local course (again, found in many local parks) and enjoy a leisurely family round.
  • Frisbee- pass the frisbee around in your own yard, look up tricks online and try to recreate them
  • Ultimate Frisbee- much like the game of football, this frisbee game is high energy and requires teams. Look up the rules online and invite your friends to a pick up game, where they can join in the fun!
  • Jump rope- jump ropes can be purchased almost anywhere and this is a great cardiovascular activity. If you have multiple kids, you can give Double Dutch a try and even some tricks! If you find your kids to enjoy this, look up local jump rope clubs.
  • Sledding
  • Snow shoeing
  • Cross country skiing
  • Ice Skating
  • Rollerblading
  • Broom ball- in frozen weather, gather some pals to create two teams and head to a local ice rink. Players will need brooms and a ball to play this game of hockey in their tennis shoes!
  • Swimming
  • Kayaking/canoeing

If you’d like to see some of the ways that our family stays active, click here to watch my latest You Tube video: Homeschool PE Ideas What other activities has your family used for PE? PLEASE, share them below! We look forward to hearing some great ideas from you!!

Keeping Doing Life Deliberately!

Trisha

I remember when it dawned on me that teaching my kids to be resourceful was a necessity. We were in the school room and all four kids wanted something from me at the same time: “Mom, I need help!” “Mom, can I get a snack?” “Mom, how do you spell ‘airplane’?” “Can I go to the bathroom?!?!”

Now, if you don’t know me well, I am a visual learner and an abundance of noise quickly has me overstimulated. The inundation of questions and demand for my attention from every kid made me feel like I was about to lose my ever-lovin’ mind.

I had to come up with a solution to my quandary- and fast.

Like most things with kids, my solution wasn’t a quick fix. But rather a teachable moment that would come again and again. I needed to teach my kids to be resourceful- to find other ways to solve their problems rather than coming straight to mom for the answer.

Don’t get me wrong. I want my kids to go to their dad or me for help. But there is something to be said for being a problem-solver and looking for other ways to solve a problem FIRST, before coming to mom and dad. Also, just like any school room teacher, there has to be a method for approaching a teacher when she is helping other students, to maintain order in the schoolroom. So here is the process we came up with:

  1. If you don’t understand something in the lesson you are working on, re-read or re-listen to the lesson and see if that helps to bring clarity.

  2. If you still don’t understand, is there another textbook you can look at?

  3. Is there an older sibling you can ask?

  4. Try again.

  5. Use a dictionary, look at another book, consult an encyclopedia, or google it (with permission).

  6. Ask mom or dad when all other resources have been exhausted.

What about your family? How do you handle classroom chaos? Do you have other tips for teaching your kids to be resourceful?? PLEASE, share your thoughts with the Doing Life Deliberately community so that we can all learn and be blessed!

Keep Doing Life Deliberately, friends!

Trisha

So you are the mom of an infant, toddler, and/or preschooler.

(Let me stop right now to give you a cyber hug!!!)

I did not realize until my kids were grown beyond these stages and I was hanging out with my sister’s kids (which are 8 months, 2 years and 4 years) just how very physically and emotionally exhausting this stage of parenting is! I think when you are in the thick of it, and have no previous experience to compare it to, you just take it day to day and do your best to get through the day. But now that our kids are older and quite self-sufficient, I am reminded of what a sleep-deprived, survival-mode time of life that stage really is.

That being said, homeschooling with such small children is a CHALLENGE. But it is also a HUGE privilege. There are few things more satisfying, in my experience, than teaching kids to read and write. What a feeling to hold your child on your lap and hear them sound out letters and put together their first words. What a delight to study butterflies with your 5 year old, observing all of their body parts with a magnifying glass and watching the caterpillars you purchased through the mail form a chrysalis, and emerge days later as a beautiful butterfly. The joy that comes with reading scripture with your child and hearing them ask questions about God’s Word and ponder who Jesus is that He would leave heaven, take on the form of a man, live a perfect life, die and rise again so that we could walk in relationship with the Heavenly Father forever- priceless!! So yes, homeschooling with little ones is hard, but OH SO WORTH IT!

A little field trip fun with my youngest and her two young cousins :-)

In my opinion, success in homeschooling small children means having fun and making learning exciting. If you can succeed at that, then your kids will look forward to school and learning.

Having right expectations- both of yourself and of them- is really important. School should be something that you all look forward to- not dread. For example, if mom is a slave driver with her five year old, and succumbs to a frustrated tone with her kids when they don’t understand a concept right away, the child is not going to want to do school (I say this from a place of personal experience, unfortunately, and still struggle at times).

One of the great blessings of starting homeschool at 4, 5 or 6 years old, is that you can ‘grow into” homeschool. Some different ways that can look are:

  • Starting with just a small amount of time- 30 minutes to an hour (maybe even less time if your child is not accustomed to sitting still for that long). Add 5 minutes every other day until you’ve reached an ideal time frame to work with your child.
  • Focusing your energies on the main subjects: reading, writing, and arithmetic. You have plenty of time to add in extra subjects as you create a comfortable routine.
  • Using hands on crafts, manipulative and activities to teach that are exciting and fun. Personally, I am not the creative type to make up games and activities on the fly. But that’s the beauty of websites like Pinterest where you can search a topic (phonics games, for example) and get tons of creative ideas from teachers and moms alike.
  • Adapting your school day around the needs of other kids- whether baby’s naps and feeding times or your teenager’s basketball schedule
  • Having your older kids help occupy little ones (by playing with them, reading a story, taking care of their needs, etc.) while you sit one on one with your youngest students.
  • Having older siblings “teach” younger siblings while you briefly tend to your little people. Teaching younger siblings often helps older sibling to solidify concepts in their own minds.

So how about you, Moms and Dads? What wrong expectations have you caught yourself in? How did you adapt? What tips do you have for other parents who are homeschooling with infants, toddlers and preschoolers? PLEASE, leave your encouraging comments below and be a blessing to other Doing Life Deliberately readers!

Keep Doing Life Deliberately, friends!!

Trisha

If you watched my YouTube video on How To Lesson Plan for Homeschool , you know that I opt to plan many weeks at a time. We have four kids, so lesson planning takes a significant amount of time. I, for one, would rather shove thorns under all my fingernails than have to lesson plan every week, because of the time consuming process that it is. Therefore, I plan 6-8 weeks at a time.

“Why is it such a chore,” you ask? With having four kids, there is a ton of books to reference in order to complete their assignment sheets. I am most productive with lesson planning if I am removed from the kids, which generally means hanging out at Starbucks to lesson plan. Can you imagine hauling 30 textbooks (because they are all in different grades) to Starbucks every single week? Uh, no. Once every 6-8 weeks will do nicely, thank you.

That being said, I would like to share with you some other benefits to creating long term lesson plans. Homeschooling has made me a planner, because if I did not plan ahead, I would constantly be scrambling from one child to another, one household chore to another, one meal to another. In summary, I would be a basket case. Ok, I’d be more of a basket case than I already am. (Just keeping it real, folks.)

Benefits:

  • It really only takes an hour or two more to plan for multiple weeks than it does for one week. You already have the books out, ready to go- so why not?
  • Planning 6-8 weeks at a time allows for life to happen: illness, accidents, late nights, busy schedules, etc. It’s easy to change the date at the top of the page if you need to put things off a day or two. Having things planned ahead is one less stress when life throws you a curve ball.
  • Lesson planning can be a time consuming venture, largely depending on how you approach homeschooling (unschooling vs. hyper scheduled). But planning in large chunks allows time daily for other time consuming responsibilities, like correcting completed school work, making meals, taking kids to activities, etc.
  • Long term planning reduces stress, eliminating that awful feeling that one is always behind.
  • Having daily planning off your plate means that you are able to focus on others more: your family, your friends, your neighbors. Preplanning creates margin and freedom to be attentive to the needs of others (for example, now you can bring a meal to a sick friend or play that board game your daughter has been wanting you to play).

How about you? How do you approach lesson planning? Do you have any tips and tricks that could help others? Share your comments and questions below- I look forward to learning from you and responding!

Keep doing life deliberately!

Trisha

Everyone has a different mental image of what homeschool is like. I’ve seen several amusing memes on Facebook and Pinterest. People who don’t homeschool often make assumptions about what it looks like- I definitely did. I was not homeschooled as a child- I attended public school for all of my education. My husband attended parochial school for all of his elementary and secondary education, so neither of us had any experience with homeschool prior to trying it ourselves. I envisioned a relaxed family reading books in their pajamas, with lots of freedom in their daily schedule to go and do as they pleased. My preconceived notions have proven both right and wrong in our own family.

If you are interested in homeschooling, but have never done it before, it can be difficult to picture what it actually looks like to homeschool.  And even if you are an experienced homeschool family, it can still be fun to see what others are doing and gather ideas. You might find yourself wishing you could be a fly on the wall in someone else’s homeschool classroom.  I sure felt that way before we got started.  So today, I am inviting you to join our family for a typical homeschool day. Not all (or even most) homeschools look like ours.  Each family’s homeschool takes on the personality of it’s teacher/principal/family: organized or spontaneous, orderly or messy, a room set aside for schooling or a kitchen table, a web-based program or a stack of library books, home-made curriculum or purchased lesson plans.  How one runs their homeschool can look a thousand different ways- none of which is right or wrong- to meet the needs of their family.  So… with that in mind, join us for a brief day in the life!

Day in the Life of our Homeschool

Post your questions and comments below- we look forward to hearing from you!