Wednesday, December 30, 2015



We had a fairly quiet Christmas this year. Katie wasn’t home—she took a cruise with my parents and all my sisters and their families. Allison’s fiancĂ©, James, was with us, though, so he took Katie’s place—right down to using her stocking!

We went to church on Christmas Eve, then had a quiet Christmas day at home, opening presents and playing games. I do love having a houseful of people here for the holidays!


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Wishing you a Blessed Christmas!

“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Mt. 2:10-11


Monday, December 21, 2015

Is Homeschooling Changing?

Many people are concerned about the changes that the Common Core standards are bringing to the public schools. The emphasis on testing is changing educational practices. Children are spending less and less of their school day in play, hands-on activities, and creative pursuits because of the time required to prepare for high-stakes tests. It’s sad to see playtime and recess taken away from even Kindergarteners. I’m seeing families become interested in homeschooling as they look for educational alternatives that are more age appropriate.

I’m wondering, though, if some of the same things are happening within the homeschool community. Many of the homeschooling pioneers a generation ago rejected the whole concept of traditional schools. Innovators like Raymond Moore and John Holt suggested that formal education shouldn’t even begin until children were 8 or older. They believed that children learned best when they had a lot of time to follow their own interests and that the best education came from reading quality books and from hands-on experiences instead of workbooks and standardized texts. When I began homeschooling 20 years ago, it seemed that many homeschoolers were influenced by these ideas, even if they didn’t embrace an unschooling philosophy. I’m sure that part of  the issue was that, in the 80’s, you couldn’t just go out and buy a “full curriculum,” and many publishers wouldn’t sell to homeschoolers! This left parents piecing together curriculum based on what their children needed, as well as using the library heavily.

Homeschooling has become more mainstream in recent years, but I am seeing an increase in parents who are not really committed to homeschooling or may not even have a desire to teach their children at home. Some are just escaping a negative public school situation and their goal is to find the easiest way to “do school.” Others are invested in their children’s education, but don’t realize that there is any other way to learn than to work through a stack of public school textbooks each year. They are so worried about “gaps,” that they try to exactly replicate what the public schools are doing, sometimes adding a Christian focus. The fact that homeschoolers often take standardized tests also adds to the pressure to keep up.

Certainly, whatever the method of homeschooling, there is an advantage to individual tutoring and to working at the child’s own pace. There is certainly nothing wrong with textbooks or traditional education, but there are so many  more possibilities. Snuggling on the couch with a stack of great books, rather than spending hours filling out workbook pages, encouraging children to explore and create, to act out history lessons, and to experiment with science concepts will create students who love to learn and who know how to teach themselves. These activities may (or may not) demand more of the parents’ time and can lead to doubts about whether you are “doing enough,” but I think the lower stress environment and the more enjoyable school time can lead to a much greater love of learning.  And maybe some children really aren’t ready to learn to read until they are 7 or 8 or 9.

I wonder if the fact that homeschooling is so mainstream and “easy” now with the plethora of curricula choices available has made us think we have to choose the “right” curriculum and work though it without really considering how our children learn.

I wonder if imitating the public schools rather than questioning their methods and searching for a better way is really best for our children.

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


We live across the street from a wooded mountain and the wildlife seems to be coming into our neighborhood more and more often. Several mornings this week, I’ve seen these two young deer in my driveway foraging for acorns. So cute! Probably a bit too bold for their own safety, though!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Free Educational DVD’s!

I’ve been a member at Izzit for several years. What’s Izzit? It’s a site for classroom teachers and homeschoolers that provides a FREE DVD every year to members. Membership is free, although with a paid membership ($10), you can receive a DVD every month! All you have to do is to leave feedback about the previous video before you request a new one.

Many of the titles are on history and economics topics, although topics of science, technology, and arts are also included. Many of these videos are on topics that you won’t find anywhere else and emphasize ingenuity and entrepreneurship.

This month Izzit is celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas by giving away a free video every day for twelve days! Just click over to to request it! Today’s video is Freedom’s Sound, which tells the story of a piano factory in Estonia that reinvented itself after communism fell to become a world-class piano manufacturer.

There are couple of new features at Izzit—streaming video (all videos are free to stream) and a Roku channel! I’m really excited about having the whole library available to us!

*I have no relationship with I’m just sharing a great resource!