Looking Up 

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth."  Psalm 121:1,2

What in nature gives you pause?  Do pretty flowers, the crashing ocean waves on a sandy beach, or a beautiful sunset?  For me it is the mountains.  I enjoy gazing at towering, majestic mountains.  Every summer I have the privilege of driving through the mountains and relishing the views.  Jesus Christ gives me peace as He uses the mountains to remind me of my heavenly Father's immense presence. 

Many homeschool moms share with me their feelings of exhaustion around this time of year. The newness of the current academic year has long worn off, another Christmas and all it's festivities, projects, and activities has come and gone.  Suddenly we discover we are "behind".  May I please be permitted to add a literary carrot to the proverbial cookie jar here?  Dear Homeschoolers, please be gentle with yourselves.  Wherever you and your family are in your academic pursuits for the year more than likely is where you should be.  Remember home-life and the family's needs precede school activities not vice versa.  That being said, take some time to "lift up your eyes."  Psalm 121:1.  God promises His help and peace.  "Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6,7 

Praise God for His promises!  When I feel tired and troubled about any circumstance God bids me to pray and give Him my thankfulness and my anxiety.  In exchange He offers me His peace through Jesus that will keep sound my heart and mind.  If you have been looking down I encourage you to redirect your focus and begin looking up!

Homeschooling Preschoolers and Young Children 

As the start of a new homeschool year approaches, many parents are wondering what should be taught to their young preschool children.   These children have reached an incredible milestone in their development.  They begin to see themselves as separate individuals from their parents.  Perhaps they want to try new things and practice expressing themselves more and more.  However, at the same time, they greatly identify with their parent’s likes, dislikes, and behavior.  They spend much of their time copying what they see.  What an excellent opportunity parents have to establish the importance of seeking to develop Christ’s character!  This is the time to teach them to do all to the glory of God.  “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”  1 Corinthians 10:31.   

I enjoy having my younger children beside me as much as possible as I perform my duties through out the day.  As I prepare meals, I allow them to observe me carefully measuring out ingredients for a special dish.  When they were very young I let them count out the teaspoons and tablespoons, clean all these utensils, and put them in order according to size. Starting a garden is another opportunity to learn and grow together.  What better science curriculum can be purchased than rich soil, fertilizer, seed, and gardening tools?  Including the older children in the family with larger home projects can really benefit the younger children. Older children can help and instruct little ones making the experience even more enjoyable.  Having good listening skills as well as the ability to follow specific directions is always important.  Older children who have graduated from some of the more basic training make wonderful teaching assistants to younger siblings.  These teaching experiences will reinforce important life skills, provide meaningful application, and bring unity to the family circle.

Whatever parents determine is valuable for their young children and preschoolers to learn they must devote time to modeling.  Parents who embrace this modeling concept not only spend time reading stories to their young children through out the day, but their children observe them reading for information and enjoyment. They also have the opportunity to watch mom and dad writing often.  Making a creative grocery list could be one way to invite children to participate with mom or dad.  Preschoolers can draw a picture of each food needed, label the food with either the entire word or simply write the beginning letter, then watch mom or dad add it to the main list. The value of writing is meaningfully applied and the desire to improve the skill is reinforced--not forced.

Christ centered lifestyle homeschooling is a true integration of the principles of Jesus Christ, life skills, and academics.  What better time to develop a love for learning with the youngest members of the family than right now?

Identify Specific Educational Objectives for your Students 

Whatever your homeschooling philosophy may be, it is beneficial to have specific educational objectives for each of your students.  Observe daily assignments and note student progress.  Follow your observations with written objectives and plans to assist them.  When you take the time to outline goals and objectives for your students, you are also better able to make informed decisions on curriculum and outside activities.  Establishing educational objectives is an important key to homeschooling success!