The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. Psalm 16:6

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Homeschooling, Part 2

One of the greatest aspects of homeschooling for us is that we may “teach (the Words of God) to our sons, talking of them when we sit in our house and when we walk along the road and when we lie down and when we rise up.” If my children are with me for the whole day, I have so very many opportunities to instruct them in the Word of God and to demonstrate what an obedient believer looks like. Now I frequently fail miserably at demonstrating an obedient believer, but that is when God’s grace becomes evident. So here is a little window into how the Hoyer family puts Educational Pillar #1 into practice.

(1) Our mission is to train our children to become skillful handlers of the Truth of God as recorded in the Scriptures in order that they might not only be hearers, but doers of the Word. They must be deeply anchored in understanding and interpreting literature. They will be encouraged to love language, as it was the means by which the Creator of the Universe chose to reveal Himself to us.

Family Devotions
Gustav spends 15-20 minutes every morning following breakfast in the Word with the kids. They have gone through the books of John, Acts, Romans, Joshua, Genesis and Exodus in the past couple of years. I am blessed to have a husband who takes the command to “teach them to his sons” so seriously. His own deep personal study also allows him to answer their sometimes very insightful questions on the fly. This morning’s discussion? If the Lord is immutable, how did he change his mind after Moses’ entreaty in Exodus 32: 11-14? Good stuff.

To finish up our devotion time we frequently sing a hymn together. We have, as a family, memorized many hymns. The teaching in those old, great hymns is just incredible. I believe we do a disservice to our children when we write them off as antiquated. Just recently, we have begun singing hymns in parts. Honestly, it is such an incredible, worshipful time to be able to sing the great truths of Scripture together as a family. Remember, we are commanded in Scripture to sing, but nowhere are we commanded to sing well! He just wants us to lift our voices in praise!

Personal Bible Study
Once our kids can read they are expected to read their Bible every morning. If there is one habit we want to instill in their lives, it would be this. The older children have daily reading plans that they follow and Nicholas and Gretchen both managed to read through the whole Bible in 2008. Our younger kids just spend 10 minutes reading somewhere in their Bible. It’s about forming the habit, not about quantity .

Scripture (and other) Memory
I was so blessed a couple of years ago to find Charlotte Mason’s Scripture Memory System. It has been such a great, systematic way to memorize Scripture together. We purpose to memorize larger portions of Scripture with some shorter ones thrown in. This year we have memorized Genesis 1, Exodus 20:2-17, Isaiah 53, Psalm 8, as well as 10-12 shorter verses. They do this on top of the AWANA verses they memorize each week. I do not mention this to brag, simply to show that with a systematic approach, our kids can hide a lot of God’s Word in their hearts. (And their Mommies, too!)

We also just love The Institute for Excellence in Writing’s Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization. It’s a mouth-full, but a fantastic program for memorizing some great poetry. Again, just 10-15 minutes per day yields a brain full of some lovely stuff.

There is just so much great literature out there, that I sometimes feel there just aren’t enough hours in the day! I love using the 1000 Good Books List and Honey for a Child’s Heart to find great literature selections for my kids at their appropriate reading level. Each year I come up with reading selections that line up with our history studies, as well as the literature I want them to cover that year. Throw in a list for family read-alouds, and we have a great time reading and learning together.

Teachable Moments
Sometimes, it is far more important to let the “schoolwork” go to address a character issue in my kids. This was a hard-learned lesson for me. I like very much crossing things off the daily to-do list. But sometimes it is a better choice to let the work stay unfinished and have that heart-to-heart with the child who is grumbling and complaining, or with the child who is choosing harsh words. Bringing Scripture to bear in these situations promotes opportunities for our children to be “doers of the Word” and not only hearers. Gentle correction and an opportunity to correct the offense and restore the relationship are, in the end, far more important than fractions, vocabulary, or spelling. It is a window into the very character of God. We must be commanded to do these things because they DO NOT come easily to the human race. We would much rather be selfish, prideful complainers, wouldn’t we?

Ultimately, we want to create a home environment where Christ is the head, where opportunities for learning about Him abound, and where His Word is honored.

Up next: Educational Pillar #2 :-)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Potty-Training 101

A condensed and moderately humorous look at potty-training (from someone who has done this five times.)

(1) Keep the child naked from the waist down. This will facilitate those frantic running-for-the-bathroom-before-he-finishes dashes. Just be sure to pick him up facing AWAY from you. This is very important.

(2) Keep a stack of books in the bathroom to keep him occupied while you "wait." Don't worry, though, he'll pick the same book every time. Danny and the Dinosaur gets really annoying when you've read it six times in two hours.

(3) Have a small container of M&M's on the back of the toilet for rewarding successes. Or for making yourself feel better after no successes at all. A little chocolate never hurt.

(4) Stay positive. Despite what it feels like, he really will get it eventually. Push those nightmarish thoughts of coaxing your 18 year old college freshman to "put his pee-pee's in the potty" right out of your head.

(5) Praise for a job well done, but, for heaven's sake, don't scare him. The first time my current 2 year old pooped in the potty I screamed so loud I made him cry.

(6) Those aren't pee-stains on my carpet, it's where my son marked his territory!

(7) When you pull off the soggy Thomas-the-Tank-Engine underpants make a super-duper sad face and say, "Thomas is SO, SO sad that he's covered in pee. Wow, he reeaalllly didn't want this to happen. He thought for sure you'd put it in the potty." Because if personifying a silk-screened face on the tush of a 2T pair of underpants is going to get the job done, I'm game.

(8) Enjoy the ride, because soon he'll be learning to drive. And then you will long for the easy-peasy days of potty-training.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Homeschooling - Why We Do What We Do

I have been asked by a number of my friends and recently encouraged by my husband to blog a bit about homeschooling. I have come full circle on homeschooling: from being positive that we wouldn't, to being open to the possibility, to being adamant that we would. God has used this opportunity to grow me in faith and knowledge of Himself, to love my children more, and to be sanctified daily. However, I do not think it is the only way to properly school the children we have been blessed with. It is just the right way for us at the moment.

One thing that was important for me in the beginning, (being the list-maker that I am) was to have a document that stated why we were doing this. Something I could refer to when I needed encouragement and something that would keep me on track as we matured and grew. The reasons we choose to school our children at home will differ from family to family, as they should, for each family is uniquely designed by God. Here, for your reading pleasure, are:

The Hoyer Educational Pillars
written in 2003

(1) Our mission is to train our children to become skillful handlers of the Truth of God as recorded in the Scriptures in order that they might not only be hearers, but doers of the Word. They must be deeply anchored in understanding and interpreting literature. They will be encouraged to love language, as it was the means by which the Creator of the Universe chose to reveal Himself to us.

(2) As their worldview is shaped by the precepts of Scripture, they will be presented with the history of Man from the Fall as a story of the unfolding majesty of God's plan of Grace.

(3) They will be trained to reverence the ordered excellence of Creation as discovered through observation and experimentation so that they might better glorify the Creator in their hearts and minds, and trust in the perfection of His designs.

(4)We desire that they be trained in rigorous logical disciplines that they might be able to reason with God through His Word, and be able to evaluate life through well-trained thinking.

(5) They should have a knowledge of other civilizations that they might have an un
derstanding of their own place of privilege among the race of Adam.

(6) As beings created in the likeness and image of the Creator God, they should be encouraged to cultivate the exercise and appreciation of the creative arts. This will also cultivate a more profound understanding of that which is lovely and excellent, and will draw their hearts toward the Author and Source of beauty.

(7) We desire that they be trained in the proper care and maintenance of their bodies through exercise and self discipline, that they might steward these gifts to the glory of God.

(8) The expression of a heart that is submitted to God will express itself in gracious and well-mannered speech and thoughtful actions which manifest the preference of the other above self. They will be trained in appropriate etiquette and manners.

(9) The life of a believer should be one marked by diligence and hard work. They will be encouraged to cultivate these character qualities, and be warned against the sin of laziness.

I would heartily encourage anyone who is new to homeschooling to begin by deciding why they feel the Lord has called them to this way of life. Study the Scriptures and pray. Then, once you have put down in words the "why's" of your choice, put them where you will be frequently reminded. Re-read them yearly at least, daily if needed.

I desire, years from now, for my children "to arise and call me blessed." (Proverbs 31:28) Not because they became brilliant mathematicians (which they may) or concert violinists (which they could) or Pulitzer Prize winning authors (which would be wonderful), but because they sat under the tutelage of a humble mother who loved the Lord with all her heart, mind, soul, and strength, and shared her faith and awe of the Creator with them. Day in and day out.

And who never forgot for Whom she was doing what she was doing.