071:Thanks for Giving…

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On this week’s homeschool podcast I’d like to introduce to you our newest team member and writer, Nikisha Ware. I decided to read aloud her encouraging post for this week’s Thanksgiving-themed podcast. I pray that you’ll be encouraged.

thanksgiving transparent

The following was written by guest blogger, Nikisha Ware of http://www.successtory.org/.

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NWare I confess that Thanksgiving used to be my least favorite holiday. A distant fifth behind Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July, and New Year’s. As a child, I can remember hearing the story of Native Americans and pilgrims enjoying a lovely feast together. But, the story never resonated with me.

But now, it’s more than just a wonderful mealtime. Thanksgiving is now a time to remember, review, and refocus. It is a time to tell God thanks for giving new life. It is a time to tell our friends and families thanks for giving us the opportunity to serve. It is also a time to tell our children thanks for giving us a legacy of service.

Remember.

One of my favorite praise and worship tunes is 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord). When I sing this song at church, my hands automatically raise. This song says it all. So whenever the holiday season gets frenzied and you’re tempted to use your outside voice, remember there are literally thousands of reasons to be grateful and to give thanks.

 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies

never come to an end; they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23

Review.

As a child, I believe Thanksgiving was my least favorite because it wasn’t associated with any gift-giving. I know awful, right? I have come to appreciate the gift of service and to understand that giving with a grateful heart is my offering to God. Mark 10:45 reminds us that Jesus came to serve, not be served. So becoming more like Him involves asking the Holy Spirit to reveal areas of disobedience, self-sufficiency, a growing self-righteousness, or a growing self-confidence, outside the bounds of what God would have us walk in, that would hinder us from giving freely, joyfully, and without expecting anything in return. Whew! Only with God is this possible.

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly

or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

Refocus.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to count your blessings and give thanks to others. Researchers link an attitude of gratitude to greater success and better health. Most of us are aware of this, but still struggle and need to be reminded of how fortunate we are. Counting our blessings is great, but it doesn’t help the people begging for spare change to buy food, get a job or feel cherished. To appreciate what we have is good, but more than that, we need to give back. My family is re-focusing on what it means to be thankful this holiday season. I never want our children to count their blessings in lieu of reaching out. We decided it’s not the season to gloat over our gifts and mumble a few grateful prayers. As we look for ways to serve the people in our community, we intend to turn our gratitude into action and pass the hope we have been given in Christ to others.

Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow

I will give it”—when you have it with you. Proverbs 3:28

 I challenge you this Thanksgiving to stand with me and my family in remembering, reviewing, and refocusing on God’s blessings, our offerings to others, and how we can better show Christ to the world.

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Ways to Reach Us:

Big Mistake You Can Avoid For A Healthier Happier Year-Pt 3

RECAP OF BIG MISTAKE PARTS 1 AND 2

Part 1 shared how the big mistake of isolation happens with some homeschool families and what the Word of God teaches about relationships. Part 2 shared the story of our family’s journey through the big mistake of isolation and two steps you can take for your transformation.

Big Mistake Your Homeschool Family Can Avoid For A Healthier Happier Year - Part 3 by Donna Marie @ ChristianHomeschoolMoms.com

Big Mistake Your Homeschool Family Can Avoid For A Healthier Happier Year – Part 3 by Donna Marie @ ChristianHomeschoolMoms.com

I also posted a poll and encouraged you to share about your own journey. If you haven’t, yet, make sure you comment with your answer for the poll and read other family’s comments on the article for part 1. If you answered no on the poll, part 3 may help you move forward and, eventually, change your poll answer.

WHY YOUR FAMILY SHOULD STAY COMMUNITY-CONNECTED

For Christ-Focused Families who homeschool, being part of a community of like-minded folks who love learning is priceless. It is not just about plugging in with other church members who have the same core spiritual beliefs, though that helps. And also, depending on your family’s specific unique needs and goals, it may not even be about hanging around other homeschoolers. Below I have listed some key benefits of connecting with a supportive learning-focused community.

FIRST: KEEP YOUR HEART OPEN

BEFORE YOU READ THE LIST: remember to embrace whoever God sends you, no matter where He chooses to send them from into your life. This is because His ways of doing things are higher than ours, and His thoughts are greater than ours. So, keep your heart open to hear from Him about new relationships so you can clearly discern which ones are sent from Him.

SEVEN BENEFITS OF STAYING COMMUNITY-CONNECTED

  1. ➤ receive non-judgmental support for your homeschool purpose and goals
  2. ➤ give empathy and non-judgmental support to other homeschool families; giving back always makes you feel better about yourself and your homeschool, as you see how what you share makes an impact on them

o   Also, according to Genesis 12:2-3, God has always intended for His People to be a blessing to all families of the world. You cannot do that in isolation.

  1. ➤ accountability with other home educators who regularly ask the right questions that remind you of what you said you were going to accomplish this year
  2. ➤ learning about tips and approaches that may help you tweak some elements of your schooling, especially if your homeschooled children are gifted or have special needs which are not addressed in traditional curricula
  3. ➤ adult to adult conversation and authentic, empathetic friendship on a regular basis
  4. ➤ extra-curricular and physical education support, such as by creating or joining a co-op homeschool group, local community programs or special events (e.g., soccer team, local theater classes or urban farmer’s markets events, and countless other opportunities)
  5. ➤ become more active and healthier – studies have shown that isolation can cause you to become physically (and mentally) unhealthy, especially if you are staying in your home all of the time. It is important to set a great example for our kids so that, as they mature, they will understand how to take good care of themselves and build healthier relationships.

SHARE OTHER BENEFITS YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED

Use the comments area to share your positive experience. Please tell us about the benefits you have seen from staying community-connected. This will help each of us here get more perspective on this topic.

GOD’S PURPOSE FOR YOU = BLESS THE WHOLE WORLD.

God’s purpose for your homeschool family is to be a thriving part of the community and to bless the world. Get out there and have fun with your family. Explore and have new experiences together. Build an extended family of friends that love you all and can relate to your unique homeschool journey on some level.

God bless you and your family with a great life and even greater relationships than you have ever experienced before.

The Scary Subject of Art

scary-art
Image courtesy of fotographic1980 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are those who are creative, and then there are those who are not. Now- not everyone is creative in the same way but when it comes to teaching creativity and art, most people get that deer-in-the -headlights look.

Teaching art is a scary mountain to climb, but it can be done. 

Whether you are just starting your homeschool journey or you have been at it a while, whether you have older kids or younger kids, art class has entered your mind and more than likely you have either run away from it or had a crash and burn experience at one point or another. Don’t worry, you are not alone. I am creative and I love to do art, but teaching it is a whole new ball game.

How do you even start teaching a subject that opens up so many possibilities?

First, let’s look at why we teach art and creativity. Creativity is important in this world and in growing. Without creativity, many inventions would not be. It is the ability to imagine the possibilities that gets us where we want to go in life and that help us invent new things. Teaching and cultivating art and creativity is necessary.

Now, how do we teach it? If you have no knowledge of art and you are in no way creative yourself, that is okay. A simple place to start is at the library. No matter the age, you can find a book on a collection of art work and sit down with one painting, print or collage and study it for the week.

How do you study a piece of art?

  • First: Who made it and what is some information about the person?
  • Next: What do they see? What is in the picture? (Make sure that when you are discussing a picture with people in it you encourage your child to give you their thoughts on how the people feel or what they are doing. Sometimes they are pretty insightful.)
  • Then move beyond that and ask: What do you think could be happening in the picture? (Speculate some. Have fun with it.)
  • Now the fun part. Use different mediums (crayons, water colors, oil paints or pastels) and either try to remake the painting in their own style for the older kids, or try to make a similar scene of their own for the younger ones.

It does not have to be perfect and you can try as many times as you like.

You can do one step a day during the week or take a few days on a single step. It’s up to you and your child.

Now, some of you are probably thinking “What about the kids who seem to get art and have a strong understanding of certain types of art?” Well then, you have somewhere to start. Again, to the library! Start in the form of art that they are strong or comfortable with and do an in-depth study of that form. Take a few months or take a year, it’s completely up to you and your child. Then, try a new form of art. Change it up and challenge them.

Make sure they know it is okay if they don’t excel at that form. 

No matter your artsie level, you can teach your children art and help them enjoy it too. Not all kids will be excited about art, but then again they are not all excited about creative writing either. Whether they love it or not, it is still good to know about it and be comfortable with it. The library and your local art supply store will be your friend, and make sure you have fun as well. Join in on the art, let them see your mistakes and successes. Laugh and you will realize that yes, you too can teach art.

Big Mistake You Can Avoid For A Healthier Happier Year-Pt 2

In Big Mistake Part 2, you will hear the story of our homeschool family’s transformation from our big mistake of allowing isolation (shared in part 1) to embracing new friends in a supportive community.

Big Mistake Your Homeschool Family Can Avoid For A Healthier Happier Year - Part 2 by Donna Marie @ ChristianHomeschoolMoms.com
Big Mistake Your Homeschool Family Can Avoid For A Healthier Happier Year – Part 2 by Donna Marie @ ChristianHomeschoolMoms.com

[OUR FAMILY’S STORY] A JOURNEY THROUGH ISOLATION

MORE ABOUT SOURCES OF ISOLATION

Toxic Relationship Pruning

Before we started homeschooling, I was very close to a community for most of my life. As a married mother of three, my children also became close with the same folks. Over the years, I began to grow and mature in ways that they were not. They also explicitly verbally let me know they had no interest in that type of growth. So, I made a very tough and painful choice.

My choice was to keep moving forward, instead of staying locked into old patterns by stagnant relationships. This tough choice had a lot of consequences that were good. However, the painful consequence was an isolation that I had not seen in my life in many years. It took me years to adjust to that separation, AND I have no regrets.

I do not regret it because I recognize the profound transformation this major life shift created in my life. I can now see the progress that came from that pain. It was a vitally important pruning by my Master Gardener, Father God. Avoiding that pain would have been a big mistake to hinder God from maturing me more.

Co-Op and Curriculum Changes PLUS Relocation

When we first started homeschooling in 2007, for several years we stayed connected with an active homeschool co-op group locally. I also became an active volunteer with the parent boosters organization in our virtual charter school. However, our seasons with both were over by 2012. So, when we returned to traditional homeschooling, we found ourselves with no supportive community for the first time in years.

And then, on top of those other shifts, we relocated. The relocation was the final straw that caused us to be more isolated from other people more than ever. The great benefit of relocating is that having to start over helps open your heart up to new things. This was a great new start for us to take some risks we probably would not have taken in our old community.

SUPPORTIVE NON-JUDGMENTAL COMMUNITY

The pain of isolation which I felt for years really helped me to grow spiritually. It forced me to spend more time focusing on prayer and Bible study and less time talking to other people. I depended on Father God more instead of on other people for support. As I enjoyed more dedicated time with Him, I also asked him to send me the right new friends for myself and for my children.

Online and Phone Friends

After opening my heart to His Help, Father God started sending friends locally, and also online and by phone.

He sent me an awesome homeschool mom friend who is hundreds of miles away from where I live. She and I have committed to hold each other accountable. So, for the last 8 months, we have talked and prayed by phone for an hour or more at least twice each month.

He also blessed me with the CHM online community. I found them during my online search for encouraging homeschool resources. And I am delighted to now also be a member of the awesome writing team here, too. (Yeah!)

I share our story to show that God can and will send you real friends in the most unexpected ways. You simply have to recognize and embrace them as they come. Rest in God’s choices for you instead of trying to choose them in your own wisdom and strength.

Most times, you choose friends based on certain relationship patterns established during your youth. Sometimes the way you choose is not healthy, especially if you come from a dysfunctional family. However, if you release control in this area and open your heart, God will surprise you with great relationships.

Local Friends

The good news about our move is that we have finally gotten settled into our new home and community. So now we have been finding supportive community all around us. This has happened as we open our hearts, try new things and take risks.

We made a decision to start plugging in with some local programs that are not just for homeschoolers. The community leaders who are running these programs are very open and non-judgmental about educational choice. They are educational reform advocates and educational entrepreneurs who totally get us as a homeschooling choice family.

In the CHM community, we get you. How can I and the CHM community become part of your journey to building relationships? Read on to find out.

Poll - Building Community For Your Homeschool
Poll – Building Community For Your Homeschool

DID YOU ANSWER THE POLL IN PART 1?

If you did not answer the poll in part 1 of this article series, make sure you take a look and join in on the conversation there. Participating in discussions like this can help you to build your supportive community online. It may even lead to you finding out important information about local opportunities that you were previously unaware of.

Click here to take a look at that first article, the poll and community discussion.

TWO STEPS TO YOUR TRANSFORMATION

Two steps to see transformation in this area are:

  1. Ask Father God to help you recognize His answers. He can and will send you new friends.
  2. Choose to accept and embrace them no matter what they look like or where they are located.

God loves you and your family. He will bless your journey to get out and/or stay out of isolation for building a healthier and happier homeschool.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN PART 3

In part 3, I will share “Seven Benefits of Staying Community-Connected” to help those who answered No on the poll.

3 Ways to Maintain Beginning-of-Year Stamina Throughout the Homeschool Year

3 Ways to Maintain Beginning-of-Year Stamina throughout the Homeschool Year

 

Let’s face it. That beginning-of-year excitement doesn’t last very long. Despite all of our best intentions, despite the new books and materials, several weeks into it and we begin to lose our momentum.

That’s because it’s human nature.

Remez Sasson, founder of SuccessConsciousness.com, cites overwhelm and stress as two common reasons for lack of motivation. Homeschoolers can easily fall into these two categories.

However, there are concrete things you can do to keep that pendulum swinging.

This post isn’t about what healthy food to eat, how to exercise, nor what to pray. Hopefully, you are doing all of those things already as they certainly do help with motivation levels. Instead, this post shares three strategies to encourage you to maintain staying power in your homeschool.

3 Ways to Maintain Beginning-of Year Stamina throughout the Homeschool Year

1- Plan in chunks. If you think of homeschool in terms of an entire year, it’s too overwhelming to manage. Instead, break the year into quarters (3-month periods) and then into months. Smaller chunks make it more feasible and more motivating for parents as you work toward the greater goals of the full year. On your calendar, block in time to plan 3-month increments, and also a set time when you’ll sit to plan for the month. When those items are scheduled, you’ll know they’re coming, and you’ll be more likely to follow-through.

2- Schedule quarterly assessments. Even if you’ll have an external evaluator, be sure to block in assessment weeks on your calendar that you’ll do yourself. I like to block in a week. That doesn’t mean I give exams on that week. It’s just a reminder for me to assess what we’ve been working on and what developmental level my little guy is at based on the skills we exercised during that quarter.

There are several benefits to blocking in those assessment weeks:

  • It permits you to be in the moment with your child on a daily basis, rather than continuously testing and evaluating. Because you know there is a designated week at the end of three months to assess progress, you can focus on teaching, guiding, and exploring instead. Record observations on a daily/ weekly basis, but don’t provide judgement until that assessment week.
  • When assessment week comes around, you can interpret observations and adjust your goals based on your child’s body of work, in addition to your observations from that quarter.

Charting progress helps you stay focused to keep going because you’ll have strides you’ll want to celebrate!

stamina in homeschooling stay the course

3- Schedule homeschooling breaks. Everyone needs a break. Block them into your yearly calendar. Be sure to have several days in a row each quarter. If you can, make it a week. Don’t feel like you are wasting time. Remember that homeschoolers have more hours than public-schoolers, so, you can afford it! A mental break refreshes parents and children alike. Besides, a solid, scheduled-in break allows you to be more productive both before and after the break. According to Rebecca Berreca, Ph.D. in Psychology Today, “dividing yourself from routine, you learn new habits.”

Here’s to longevity in your homeschool year!

What do you do maintain endurance throughout the homeschool year?

If you would like help with planning the homeschool year, I have a new planning eWorkshop specifically for parents of children with special needs. You’ll learn how to break the year into quarters while planning for an entire year. You can find out more here (+ instantly download the first module FREE).