Monday, April 22, 2013

3 Tips for Picking a Curriculum that's Right for Your Students

One of the hardest things to do as a homeschool mama is pick the right  curriculum     for our schools. When I was homeschooled, there were a handful of choices. Bob Jones, A Beka, Alpha Omega, and a couple others. Now there are so many choices it can be overwhelming. And let's face it...there's the fear that if we pick the wrong one our children will be forever scarred. So what's a mama to do?

1) Watch your children. How do they learn? Can they learn in a more traditional, workbook approach or do they require a hands-on approach to learning? Are they auditory or visual learners? Kinesthetic? A combination? Once you understand that, you can begin looking for a  curriculum that works to those learning styles.

2) Talk to homeschoolers who have been at it a while and are succeeding. What curriculum do they use? Why? How do they modify it to work in their homes? Ask what else they've used. For example I appreciate A Beka grammar -- it is solid and your student will know how to write when they are done, but I've never gotten the spelling component to work for us. Through asking on Facebook for recommendations, I found a spelling curriculum that is working very well for us. So be open to mixing and matching.

3) Pray. Ask God for heavenly wisdom to know what to do with your kids. And be willing to change it up from year to year. I'm convinced A Beka history and science are the best out there. In part it's because I used them through tenth grade and then got As in science and history in college. But that doesn't mean we don't use other programs, too. My kids just get a double dose of history and science. A Beka is very solid in math, but I also use Saxon especially as we hit the higher grades. But this summer we're going to do a different program for geometry because I noticed my daughter isn't grasping the visuals for geometry. This program emphasizes that aspect. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Living in the Moment with Our Kids

There are days when being a Mom is absolutely, utterly draining. The days when one child after another comes to me, needy, clingy, and filled with attitude. There are days I'd love to check out -- even for fifteen, uninterrupted minutes.

My son in this photo is 2.5. Yesterday he was a newborn I was meeting for the first time. Tomorrow he'll be six, then ten, then fifteen. My 12.5 year old is knocking on the door to becoming a teenager when I could swear just yesterday she was five and beginning the adventure of school and growing up.

I adore my kids, but somedays being a mother is exhausting. So I take the kids to the library and read a book rather than interact with them. Or we go to the park and out comes my phone so I can catch up on something. And of course, that's the day when there's a challenge to moms to get out of our phones and notice our kids. Ironic timing.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Homeschooling: Is it for you?

It's that time of year when parents thoughts turn toward where their kids should go to school in the fall. For some, their thoughts will turn to homeschooling. How can you evaluate whether homeschooling might be right for your family?

I have often heard my mom tell people that homeschooling is for every's just not for every parent. What she means is that every child can thrive in a one-on-one tutoring type instruction. It simply makes sense. Place a child with a caring instructor who can tailor his or her learning to the needs of that child and the child will learn and excel.
However, not every parent has the discipline, patience, endurance to make homeschooling work. I love my kiddos. Adore them even, but there are still days that it would be a lot easier to send them to a school. Fortunately, my kids would still do fine in a regular classroom environment. Yet we choose to keep them home even as we discuss the options available to us
  • Homeschooling is a calling. It may not be a forever calling...I honestly don't know...but I know this is where our kids are supposed to be right now.
  • It allows our kids to accelerate at their own pace. Right now, both school age children work above their grade level -- enough so that it would make it a little tricky to figure out where to place them. Still I also love that there's freedom and margin to slow down when needed to insure a subject is mastered before we move ahead.
  • I can make sure my children are learning the things that matter most to you. Yes, I am STRINGENT about the three r's, but we start our day with devotions and Bible. This year we've read from Exodus through I Samuel. We're talking about some hard issues and solidifying their understanding of Old Testament history. That's critical to my husband and me.
  • We have the flexibility to plan family adventures and school year round. Yes, even during the summer, I make my kids keep working on certain subjects: primarily math and one other area that I feel needs buttressing. But if I know I'll need to be at a conference a week in September, we start a week earlier in August. Homeschooling gives you the flexibility to take advantage of unique opportunities while still schooling.
If you homeschool, what motivates you? If you're considering it, what appeals to you and what scares you?

Friday, April 12, 2013

What's Your Name?

Today I am so grateful that God takes the names we give ourselves or other's label us and renames us with truth!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Guest Post: Speaking Blessings over Our Kids

I am absolutely delighted today to bring you a guest post from my friend Carey Scott. Her husband and I got to know each other through a small critique group in ACFW when I first started writing in 2005. I'm always looking for new tools and encouragement as I parent my kiddos. Here's Carey:

“Sara, you’re beautiful and smart… and you have Jesus in your heart!  Now go be the light of the world!”

I speak these words to my daughter as she heads off to school each morning. Usually, she smiles at me and says, “Mom, you always say that!”

She’s right… I do.

Why? Because I want to speak blessings into her life. Words are powerful, and when we speak truth and life into our kids, it sets them up for success.

Do you bless your children with your words?

Monday, April 08, 2013

When Jesus Wept: Captivating Biblical Fiction

I fell in love with WWII novels while reading Bodie Thoene's Zion Chronicle and Zion Covenant series. She has an absolute knack for making the history come alive in the context of story and characters that are so real. I've read several of her A.D. Chronicles (co-written with husband Brock), but when I saw this cover and this title, I knew I had to be part of this tour.

When Jesus Wept transports readers to Biblical times. Lazurus is imagined as a recent widower who is trying to put the pieces of his life back together after his tragedy. In classic Thoene way, this book from the first page deposited me in a different time period and place and had me firmly believing I'd arrived. Rich historical and political details are woven into the backdrop in a way that adds authenticity without slowing down the story. I'm usually skeptical of Biblical fiction because I don't want the truth of the Bible muddied in my mind with an author's ideas. I've found in the Thoenes Biblical fiction a tone that adds richness to what the Bible describes.

If you love historical fiction or are looking for a fresh take on a well known friendship, give this book a try! I think you'll like it.

When Jesus Wept
Book 1 in the Thoene’s new  Jerusalem Chronicles.
Brock and Bodie Thoene’s most powerful and climactic writing project to date, When Jesus Wept, captures the power and the passion of the men and women who lived through the most important days in the history of the world.
Lazarus occupies a surprising position in the Gospel accounts. Widely known as the man Jesus raised from the dead, his story is actually much broader and richer than that. Living as he did at Bethany, near Jerusalem, Lazarus was uniquely placed to witness the swirl of events around Jesus. When Jesus Wept, the first novel in The Jerusalem Chronicles series by bestselling authors Bodie and Brock Thoene, unfolds the turbulent times in Judea during Jesus’ ministry, centering on the friendship between Jesus and Lazarus. With rich insights from vineyard owners and vine dressers, the Thoenes explore the metaphor of Jesus as the True Vine, harvesting the ancient secrets found in the Old Testament.
Weaving the life of Lazarus, who owned a vineyard, into the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ will help you understand it is the hand of Love Divine that holds the knife, that cuts and breaks with such tender and loving touch, and that we who have born some fruit, after the pruning, can bear much more.

Friday, April 05, 2013

A Novel Lovers Giveaway: 12 Books by 12 Authors

Some of my writing friends and I have joined together for a giveaway of our books. To participate, just join in the Rafflecopter below. Here are the details: 

Some writer friends and I have a fabulous new giveaway for readers in the USA who are on Facebook.
The winner gets twelve fabulous autographed novels by twelve authors (see graphic at right). All you need to do to enter is Like all of the authors’ Facebook Pages. There are ten author Pages that must be liked in order to be entered. And we have two authors giving away books who don’t have author Pages but are using their Facebook Profiles. So if you would be so kind as to visit and “friend” Deborah Raney and Cara Putman, it would be deeply appreciated. Just click on the names to see their profiles and send a friend request: Deborah Raney and Cara Putman.
10 of 10 to winIf you are unsure how the Rafflecopter form works, please look at the graphic at the bottom of this blog post. The instructions in red and screenshots will help make sure you enter correctly. Not everyone is completing all ten requirements. If you don’t complete all ten, you will not be eligible to win. You must see “10/10 Entries Earned” to qualify to win the 12 books (see graphic at left).
The contest ends at 12:01 am on May 1, 2013 and the winner will be announced later that day. Good luck to everyone!
Please tell your Facebook friends about the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Do We Dare to Dream Crazy Dreams with God?

Last summer my family had a crazy adventure. For awhile the longing for a shared adventure had grown in my heart. Because my husband spent seven of his growing up years in the Far East, I’ve harbored a desire for our children to share a similar experience. The more I thought and prayed about it, the crazier it seemed. Yet the longing never left. So I tucked it close to my heart and prayed.

Let’s face it – this was one of those crazy ideas. Children can have wonderful lives without spending weeks in a foreign country. Still…I clung to the idea and prayed.
God sometimes smiles on those crazy dreams we have for our kids that we hardly dare to articulate. Last summer through a miraculous series of events, we spent eight weeks in Germany. Yes, eight weeks! Just because God loves to delight His kids – while we were in Germany my daughter, a competitive

Monday, April 01, 2013

Running with Perserverance

I'm in the middle of training for another mini-marathon. Each year that I do this, it seems God has something different for me to learn or ponder. This year it seems to be the issue of discipline.

Yes, I am a highly disciplined person. But this year God's using my training to reinforce that I am disciplined in the things I want to be disciplined in. Because I write late at night, I'm not a morning person anymore. Yet because of my crazy schedule right now, the only time for me to get in my


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