Monday, June 26, 2017

Seasons of Life

As we continue in our series of posts using the word HOMESCHOOL as an acronym, we come to the letter S. What season of life are you in today? 
What I’ve Learned About HOMESCHOOLing:
Seasons of Life 

Spring, summer, fall and wintereach season has its own beauty and trials, reason and reward. What would life be like without beautiful spring flowers, long summer days, a full autumn harvest, or a quiet winter night? 

Each season has a different purpose and allows for different activities, hobbies and productivity.

Life also has a variety of seasons. Based on our age, ability, income, and responsibilities, we will experience many different seasons throughout our lifetime.

Much like the seasons we see in creation, seasons of life have different purposes and allow for different activities, hobbies and productivity. 

Each life season has its own beauty and trials, reason and reward.

It is easy for us to get frustrated with the season of life that we are in, or to long for a season that is past. 

Do you ache for the sound of toddler giggles in your home again? 

Do you long to have a whole day all to yourself with no interruptions? 

Maybe you crave nights of uninterrupted sleep or the freedom to travel and pursue personal hobbies. 

Perhaps you are dealing with illness, caring for an aging parent, or adjusting to a job transition. No matter what stage of life you find yourself in, it can be tempting to wish we were experiencing something else.

Sometimes as mamas and teachers, we can feel impatient during this season of life. 

The days of schooling seem endless, the list of to-do’s is long, and the minutes are few.

Let me encourage you today. Just as God has promised that nature’s season will continue to cycle, so too will the stages of life and motherhood! 

Babies will eventually sleep through the night, your children will help with the household chores rather than just create new ones, schooling will one day be over…. 

Whatever season of life you are in will not last forever. Like all other seasons before it, it will pass by and you will find yourself in a new place, fulfilling a new role, impacting new people.

Let us determine to be content right where we are and enjoy this season of time. 
Who knows, perhaps someday we will miss it too.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

This Effort Is Not Wasted

As we continue in our series of posts using the word HOMESCHOOL as an acronym, we come to the letter E. I hope these thoughts will be an encouragement to your heart. 

What I’ve Learned About HOMESCHOOLing:
This Effort Is Not Wasted

Teaching is hard work. I spent several years teaching in a classroom setting and now many years teaching my own children here at home. Sometimes it can seem that we do the same tasks over and over again. Sometimes progress can be so slow that it hardly seems there has been any improvement at all.

But I am here to tell you that the time and energy you are putting into your children is not in vain! Your effort is not being wasted! 

The hours you spend together, the choices you make concerning your school day, the life lessons you teach will have long-lasting value.

There are many things we do each day that have practical value. I need to clean the toilets and wash the dishes so that my family can be healthy and have something on which to eat. The clothes must be cleaned, dinner will be cooked, and the floors swept.  

But will these tasks mean anything in 20 years?  Will my spotless house and organized closets help my children be more successful as adults or help them build meaningful relationships?

 Although we have to maintain the practical side of life, we cannot lose sight of our main priority—our children’s hearts, souls, and minds.

Time spent speaking into our children’s lives is never wasted.
I encourage you to keep on keeping on. Do not get so overwhelmed by the busyness of the days that you lose sight of your long-term impact.

You have been specifically chosen by God to train your children and prepare them for the life He has for them. 

Do not lose heart, Mama! The hours of thought, prayer and effort you invest into your children will influence them for the rest of their lives.
Now that is a noble venture!

Friday, June 16, 2017

We Were Mamas First

As we continue in our series of posts using the word HOMESCHOOL as an acronym, we come to the letter M. I hope these thoughts can encourage you on your own homeschool journey. 

What I’ve Learned About HOMESCHOOLing:
We Were Mamas First

I am known by many names: Mrs., Auntie, Sis, Beth—but one that is beyond precious to me is that of “Mama” (even when I hear it 20,000 times a day). Ever since I was young, I dreamed and prayed that one day I would be a mother. My journey to motherhood was not an easy one. There were many tears and times of great fear as we wondered if we would even become parents. However, God has blessed us with two beautiful children and I could not be more grateful.

Those days of babyhood, now long past (they are currently eight and ten years old), are sweet memories for me—baby snuggles, first steps, silly songs, bedtime stories, all those moments we spent simply playing together... How could time have gone by so fast? 

Now that my children are older, it is easy to forget to cherish this time we have with each other. This can be especially true when it’s time to do our schoolwork. 

See, I am a Type A, list-driven kind of girl. I love the feeling of marking things off of my to-do list as I go throughout the day. Sometimes I find myself in this “get it done” kind of mode when it comes to our school day. I feel an urgency to move onto the other items on my list and I don’t want to linger over our school lessons.

This past year I have really been challenged in this area. (Perhaps because my oldest hit the decade mark?!?) The days are passing quickly and I don’t want to rush through moments that will one day be only memories in my heart.

I must never forget that I was a mama before anything else. Before I taught them how to read, before they learned about the Civil War or 2 + 2, long before they had handwriting or spelling—I was their mama.

 As important as being their teacher is, I do not want to lose sight of our relationship as mother and child. I need to make time for those extra questions and tangent moments. I need to relax and enjoy their snuggles while reading together on the couch. 

I want to relish the sound of their voices as they describe the stories inside their heads. I want to be all there, connecting in my heart with these little ones I call son and daughter.

Sometimes we forget to appreciate the great opportunity we have to spend each day with our children—to watch them learn new things, ask us their multitudes of questions, join in as they explore and discover this amazing world, simply being together….

These days of childhood, will all too soon be past, and will only be sweet memories. 

I don’t want to miss a single one!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Opportunities Abound

As we continue in our series of posts using the word HOMESCHOOL as an acronym, we come to the letter O. I hope these ideas will be an encouragement to you and help you brainstorm about options available to you.

What I've Learned About HOMESCHOOLing: 
Opportunities Abound

One of the concerns someone who is thinking of homeschooling might have is concerning extra-curricular activities or areas where they are not knowledgeable. Over the years, I have discovered that there are so many resources and opportunities available for our children—many of which are very low cost or even free. You can pursue the opportunities that are a good fit for your family!

Some ideas to get you started:

Your public libraryNot only can you access many more books than your own bookshelves can hold, the public library can be an amazing resource for educational classes, interactive play, and exciting learning experiences. Our small town library is not very big, but I have been amazed at how much they offer! This past year my children learned how to use Ozobots, Snap Circuits, Lego Education sets, and played with Imagination Playground blocks—all things that we do not have at home. We have also participated in a variety of classes offered at the library, including art, science, reading, music, as well as special programs and live concerts. (The steel drum performance was amazing!) Check out what your local library has to offer you.

Your townOur town has an art gallery and a craft store (both of which offer classes for children), a city band, sports teams, youth field day events, and a city pool. What is in your town? Have you visited your local historical society? What about local festivals and city-wide events? We have thoroughly enjoyed Art Walk on the Block and attending the annual Chalk Walk, where amateur and professional chalk artists participated. Explore your home town and see what delightful things your family can enjoy.

Friends & family membersThe people you know can be a great resource! Our family and church is full of very crafty and skilled individuals. We have carpenters, knitters, painters, musicians…the list is endless. My children are currently building a tree fort with their papa, uncle and dad. My son took piano lessons from an older gentleman at our church. Grammy taught them how to crochet.  An aunt has encouraged their art interests by teaching them new skills. One of our friends ran a baseball clinic; there was children’s choir at our church; we visited family friends who own a working farm…. Think about the skills and talents of those around you and connect your children with people that have similar interests. 

Online resourcesThe opportunities for learning online are so diverse. From online classes, learning games, educational videos, craft activities…resources abound for both the teacher and the student. Pinterest is a great starting point for searching out educational sources. (Check out our Pinterest page for some great ideas.)

Local collegesThis is an often-overlooked treasure trove of opportunity! Colleges regularly offer fine arts performances, sporting events, classes, public lectures and seminars. Many of these activities are free or are donation-based, and can help you expose your child to a vast world of knowledge.

Parks and nature centersOne of our favorite family activities is to explore new parks: local, state and even national ones. We have been blessed to live near some amazing parks with very interesting and informative nature centers. These unassuming places can hold wonderful exhibits of wildlife, teach about the ecosystems and habitats found in your area, and encourage a love of nature within your child. The miles of trails, waterways, and playgrounds can add a richness to your physical science studies, as well. For a list of state parks near you, click here.

Nearby tourist attractionsWe recently moved back to the town where I grew up. Now that I have children of my own, I see this area in a whole new way. I had no idea there was so much here! Who knew that Revolutionary War soldiers were buried in the town cemetery? That there is a herd of 900 wild elk living forty-five minutes north of here? That there is a train car downtown that actually carried President Theodore Roosevelt? Even in small towns, and their surrounding areas, there are often places that you never thought to visit. Get creative and see what you have been missing.