Homeschool Changes to Make Now

Homeschool Changes to Make Now

If you’ve been too busy to think about changes you need to make in your homeschool, now is the time. I have some ideas for changes we can all make now, regardless of our homeschool approach.

Homeschool Changes You Should Make Now

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Make Your Homeschooling Fast

The first change you should make to your homeschool now is to make your homeschooling fast. I wrote a very popular post called How to Homeschool in an Hour a Day. At this point in my homeschooling, an hour of direct teaching is all that I need to do on most days. This does not include individual tutoring, editing papers, or the courses I teach in our co-op. One of the reasons we homeschool is so that our children do not have to sit at a desk for seven hours a day. Research is conclusive that our attention is not sustainable for long periods. The shorter the lesson, the better. Short, frequent lessons are more effective in helping our children learn anyway. Short lessons are especially helpful for your children who have attention challenges. It’s even helpful for distractible moms!

We do morning family time as a way of saving time. We can complete many subjects in short order. I reserve Fridays for teaching things that I never have time to teach. We watch Bible or history videos, study art, or read about contemporary issues. The afternoons are reserved for independent work. My kids actually prefer their independent work time. They read and prep for their co-op classes, do math, Bible, piano, extra reading and writing, and exercise. They love structuring their own time.

The most common cause of homeschool mom burnout is trying to do too much. If you’re stressed and overwhelmed, reevaluate what you’re doing. God doesn’t ask us to do more than we can handle. Sometimes the stress is circumstantial. There is an ill family member, a job loss, or a move, to name a few of those circumstances. But more often than not, the stress comes from driving kids to two co-ops, six sports practices, and trying to complete two math curricula. It can also come from directly teaching individual students when that isn’t necessary. If you have a preschooler or emerging reader, more of your time is required. However, the younger the student, the less formal teaching you should be doing. When your student can read well, he can be asked to work independently.  He can ask older siblings for help. He can wait for you to finish what you’re doing and go on to another question or subject.

Make Your Homeschooling Easy

The next change I recommend you make now is to make lessons easy. Planning lessons that are too easy for gifted children is something to avoid. Very easy lessons that are far beneath a gifted child’s ability level are demotivating for them. But in most cases, even for gifted children, lessons that can be completed without struggle are more motivating. Consider your own response to a difficult, time-consuming task. The harder it seems, the less you want to do it–the more likely you are to put it off. Many children who are resistant to reading are resistant because the reading material they’ve been given is too difficult for them. We want our children’s lessons to be easy and quick to complete so that motivation stays high.

Making it easy can mean skipping repetitive, unnecessary work. Curriculum authors want you as the teacher to have enough work to meet your needs. They aren’t implying that your child must complete every exercise, every page, or every book they suggest. I used a curriculum that would have exhausted me in college, let alone junior high. I cherry picked from the material to make sure my students wouldn’t hate it and me. A particular issue I’ve noticed with some homeschool curriculum is the expectation that students write a paper every week. That isn’t a requirement even at the college level, so I don’t expect it of much younger students. If you’re confused about what’s reasonable to expect, ask a traditional student the same age as your child how much they have to do. Expecting a little more than what public schools do is understandable, except you also want your child to have more time than public school students do.

If your child is struggling with grade-level material, give them material that’s a step down. We often don’t want to do that because we are afraid our child will be behind. The opposite is actually the case. If your child resists the work, she is more likely to get and stay behind. Give her work that makes her think she is a competent student. She will be motivated to get back to grade level on her own. If you can, find ungraded materials. Do some research on an easy curriculum for the subject your child is struggling with. Ignore the teachers who scare you by saying it’s too easy. There’s no such thing as too easy if it helps your child understand a subject. For example, don’t worry about college when your child hasn’t mastered algebra. Just focus on making algebra easy.

If you can’t find a curriculum that does the trick, find a teacher who can make concepts simple to understand. Reaching a struggling student can be like translating a foreign language. Someone else may have the words or the illustrations that will click with your child. Getting help isn’t failing. Not getting help when it could benefit your child is failing them.

When you make a subject easy for your child, you make it possible for him to love it. We all hate things that are hard, that we don’t understand. When the light comes on, we discover the joy of learning the material.

Make Your Homeschooling Fun

Finally, change your homeschool now by making it fun. Not everything we have to do in life is fun. I will never enjoy cleaning toilets. Some children will never enjoy certain homeschool subjects. But we can do our best to make things more enjoyable. We can pair less enjoyable activities with something pleasant like music, for example. We love to do chores with upbeat music playing. Some children find that working together with you as teacher or with other students makes material fun. My son resisted his art curriculum until I suggested we do art together. This is also why we are so committed to our homeschool co-op. My children love science, unit studies, and high school classes because they are doing them with other students and sometimes with another teacher.

You can make school fun by incorporating games. The advantage of digital curriculum is that it often gamifies learning, taking advantage of a proven motivator. Online educational curriculum or just games can supplement your primary curriculum and may end up being the most educational. I have written a post on the best online sites for grammar. Games don’t have to be on the computer, however. Talented teachers have created a number of card, board, and group games to teach just about everything. My post of the ultimate list of grammar games was my #1 post in 2016. I refer to it all the time myself.

In addition to using games, make your homeschool fun by incorporating variety. Anything that’s done repeatedly can become dry. As important as homeschool routine is, it’s also important to change things up in your homeschool. If you’re a textbook family, consider taking a break to do a unit study. If you are a unit study family, consider doing some traditional curriculum for a while. One year our co-op decided to only do field trips. We had focused on subject-intensive courses for quite some time and we needed a break. Surprise your students with a new plan, a new twist, or even just a new recipe. It will keep their minds fresh and help to eliminate oppositional attitudes.

I do not want to suggest that if your children don’t enjoy doing schoolwork that they should not have to do it. Having fun is not a requirement. But it is a worthy goal.

Grammar Galaxy Language ARts

I created Grammar Galaxy to make language arts fast, easy, and fun. I had to share what mom Elizabeth recently told me. She mentioned that their schooling had been a little off schedule because of a move. She wrote:

We got back on track yesterday and started Mission 8. Let me tell you, it’s been fun, but my son lost his mind on this lesson! I have NEVER seen him laugh so hard during any lesson, for any subject since we started homeschooling. When the queen told Ellen, “I hate you” with tears in her eyes, he fell off his chair. He actually begged me to read the story to him again! I laughed equally hard at your instructions to try mixing up synonyms and antonyms at dinner (But [to] let your parents know what you are doing). Our 5 year old was so offended when he told me dinner was just terrible! You really did it. You truly made grammar fun. I didn’t think it was possible but you obviously deserve some kind of medal! THANK YOU!

If you have a 1st to 3rd grader, a beginning reader, or a reluctant reader, I highly commend it to you.

Which of these homeschool changes are you going to make this week? Let’s talk about it on Facebook.

HOMESCHOOL CHANGES YOU SHOULD MAKE NOW FB

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3 Simple Strategies for Planning Your Best Homeschool Year

3 Simple Strategies for Planning Your Best Homeschool Year

This is the time of year when we homeschoolers consider what worked and what didn’t in our homeschools. We want to plan to have the best homeschool year possible. There are three simple strategies for homeschool planning.

How to Plan Your Homeschool Year

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Ask yourself why and why not

The first step isn’t purchasing a new planner or learning a new program. Instead, it is to ask yourself why and why not. First, consider your best homeschool day. By that I mean to choose a typical homeschool day that went really, really well. Envision it as clearly as you can and then try to determine what it was that made it so good. Was it scheduled? Did everyone go to bed on time the night before? Did you exercise before you started your day? Did you do devotions first thing? What were your children’s attitudes? What material were you studying? How were you learning it? Were you working as a family? Were you doing individual tutoring? Were you going with the flow and learning as you felt led? Perhaps you included a field trip or spent some time outside.

Our natural tendency when something out of the ordinary goes well is to think that we can’t do it on a regular basis. Allow me to explain. If you had an amazing homeschool day because your children begged you to keep reading a book they love and you did it, you may think that doing this on a regular basis isn’t realistic. If you took an unschooling approach to the day, you may think that you cannot meet your homeschool goals that way. Or perhaps you relaxed the rules and ended up having a great day. Ask yourself why not. Why can’t you continue to do the things that work? I find it helpful to actually say ‘why not’ out loud. Perhaps your answer is someone wouldn’t approve. Whose approval do you need to homeschool your children in a way that works? Perhaps you have very real regulations that you have to abide by. Is there a way that you could continue to have great homeschool days and still meet those rules? I encourage you to ask a veteran homeschooler who knows you and knows the laws of your state about your homeschooling practices. Ask how you can continue to have more great homeschool days.

In the same way, consider one of your worst homeschool days. Really picture it in your mind. What was it that led to this disastrous day? Did you have cranky kids because they hadn’t gotten enough sleep? Were you cranky for the same reason? Were you pushing your children to do something because you were worried about what someone else was going to think? Did you continue to insist that your child complete a certain curriculum or use a certain approach that ended badly? If you aren’t sure what led to that no good, very bad day, ask your children if they can remember. Our children are often very good at being able to tell us what isn’t working. We just have to be willing to listen.

After you have considered all of the aspects of the day that led to its demise, ask yourself if you have to do things the same way in the future. If you believe that you have to keep using the same curriculum or completing the same classes or keeping the same schedule, ask yourself why do I have to? Whose expectation are you trying to meet? Is it truly a rule that you must keep? Are there activities that you absolutely must engage in, or are there activities that you could let go of in this season? By asking ourselves why not when it comes to activities that work and why for activities that don’t work, we can come up with an excellent homeschool plan. The truth is there are many homeschoolers who would not approve of how I homeschool my children. But I no longer care! Homeschooling the way that we do it works for us. And with God’s blessing and obedience to the law of my state, I don’t have anything to apologize for.

Establish routines that work

The second step to take when planning your homeschool year is to establish routines that work. Most likely the homeschool day that was ideal for you involved healthy routines. You got enough sleep, you didn’t have a meal at 10 o’clock at night, and you felt in control. The best way to realize the goals that you have for your homeschool this year is to establish routines. I had FLYLady (a.k.a. Marla Cilley) on my podcast talking about the power of routines. The lack of routine is what threatened to destroy my homeschooling when I had barely begun. No one had ever told me about the power of unloading the dishwasher at the same time every day, the power of insisting children do chores every morning, or the power of having a consistent bedtime. All of those things and more made homeschooling possible for me and even made having more children possible.

A routine change you should consider, if you haven’t already, is doing family school time together in the morning. I have done this for years. Some of our family time activities include prayer, Bible time, history, vocabulary, and read alouds. The content has varied over the years, but the routine of beginning our school day together has been a part of o our ideal homeschool days for years. When we are finished, my kids do individual work and I can help with individual subjects.

A second routine change to consider is cleaning up after every subject. When your schoolroom and your home are in order, you feel better about what you’re doing. FLYLady discussed this in a podcast episode on getting organized.

A third routine to add is scheduling time for the weekly organizing challenge of the week from The Organized Homeschool Life. Last year I tried to do my organizing challenge during our regular chore time. I usually got so into the challenge that I wasn’t supervising the kids’ chores. Let me tell you, the kids need supervising! This year I will be spending an hour per challenge on Saturdays.

Plan the quarter

The final step in planning your homeschool year is to plan the quarter. What we often try to do in our perfectionism and desire for control is plan the entire year. I’ve spoken before about the recipe for frustration this is. Listen to the podcast episode I did with the creators of A Plan in Place planners for more on that. I have also spoken before about how motivating it is for my children to have a short list of assignments to complete before they can earn a break. Planning quarterly has allowed me to give my children that motivation all school year. I created a quarterly homeschool planner that you can find in the show notes. I recently began using Trello to plan my children’s quarter. I created a Periscope broadcast where I showed how I set it up.  Things change so often. Kids get sick, the unexpected comes up, and planning an entire year is not wise.

With a new homeschool plan, 2017 can be a very blessed year. What’s on your new homeschool plan? Let’s chat about it on Facebook.

 

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How to Have Your Sanest Homeschool Year

How to Have Your Sanest Homeschool Year

The end of the year always seems to get particularly busy for me. That makes it a perfect time to think about how I want my homeschooling life to be different in the new year. As a psychologist-turned-homeschooler who has been at this for 17 years, here are my recommendations.

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How to Make This Your Sanest Homeschool Year Podcast

#1 Get more sleep

The best way to ensure that we get more sleep is to go to bed earlier. Set an alarm on your phone. Use that alarm as a signal that you and/or your children need to go to your room for some quiet reading before bed. Make sure the room is cool and dark enough. Getting enough sleep will give you the energy that you need to accomplish all of your goals for the year. Going to bed earlier means you won’t sleep in. Waking up late is likely to make you feel behind. The one exception I have for going to bed early is teens. It just seems to be helpful for teens to sleep later. But that doesn’t mean that you as mom need to sleep in. I will allow myself to get as much sleep as I need at times when I need it. But I still feel much happier and more productive the earlier I get to sleep at night. If getting enough sleep at night just isn’t possible for you right now, plan regular naps. Sleep when your little ones do. Or nap while your children have a quiet time.

#2 Establish routines

I have mentioned the mistake of giving up on our routines this time of year. Establishing new routines or going back to the old routines that work is a great way of having an excellent homeschool year. The more chaos that reigns, the more likely people in your family are to be irritable and unproductive. If you’re someone who likes variety in their day like I do, you can still use routines. Just don’t make every single part of your day a routine.

Do begin with your morning routine. A book that may inspire you is The 5 Am Miracle by Jeff Sanders. Jeff and his wife don’t have children, but his experience with making the most of the morning hours is inspiring. If you don’t already do morning family time as part of your homeschool, I highly recommend it. You can learn more about it in Pam Barnhill’s Morning Basket Guide. Children are more likely to be cooperative when they know what to expect. Whatever it is that you hope to accomplish in the coming year that didn’t happen this year, a routine is likely to be part of your accomplishing it.

#3 Discipline children

One of the most common questions I get from homeschooling moms concerns their child’s unwillingness to participate in homeschooling. Because homeschooling can be so much more fun than public school, we can get the idea that our children always have to be having a good time. That just isn’t so. You and I learned something from classes we weren’t crazy about. I’m all about making learning fun, but if you have allowed your children to continually complain, ignore your requests, or refuse to participate in schooling, now is the time to correct that.

When I first began homeschooling, discipline was the number one subject I taught. We did a unit on obedience from Konos and I think it was more helpful for me as a mom than it was for my kids. I learned the importance of obedience and how much work was going to be required to teach it. I want to address child discipline in a future podcast episode, but for now recognize that you do have the right to expect your children to complete school work and participate in your homeschooling without excessive complaint. A complaining, obstinate child does not mean that you are a failure as a mother. Sending them to school will not relieve the problem. Even if they decide to cooperate at school, you still have to deal with them once they get home.

If you need help, I like the book How to Have a New Kid by Friday by Kevin Leman. Watch episodes of Supernanny and Nanny 911 on YouTube. And I recommend that you listen to an episode I did with Reb Bradley on the subject. Require your children to participate. Give them a consequence if they don’t that isn’t excessively harsh. With consistency, you’ll have a much saner homeschool year. If you still have a problem, seek professional help.

#4 Require your children to do chores

I did an episode of this podcast on teaching children to do chores well. But if you don’t have a chore system or one that you have use faithfully, I highly recommend that you begin that this year. Again, children don’t have to approve of your chore program. They only have to follow your instructions or suffer the consequences. There are so many chore programs that will work if you do. The main problem that destroys the effectiveness of a chore program is mom’s failure to require it and supervise it. After having tried numerous complicated chore systems, my favorite approach is to work together. We clean each floor of our home for 10 minutes. All the while I am able to see whether they are working or doing a good job or not. My children also have once-a-week chores that they complete. You are not being mean to require children to participate in the upkeep of your home. It’s up to you whether you give your children an allowance or payment for more complicated chores. But I have had great success in using both approaches.

#5 Meal plan

When I am tired at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is figure out what I should make for dinner. Discovering that I don’t have the ingredients for what I want to make just adds to the stress. Heading to the store at the busiest time of day is not a good idea. I plan my meals a week at a time using Plan to Eat. I can generate a shopping list quickly and easily that way. Currently I am using the 30 day meal plan from Tastefully Simple and my family has really enjoyed those meals. It saves me even more time because the planning is already done for me. Whatever you choose to do for your meal planning, a little bit of time spent planning and shopping in advance is certain to save your sanity. For more on meal planning, pick up your free copy of The Once and For All Meal Plan.

#6 Have an overall plan

Planning, even when we end up changing the plan, is a powerful way of making positive changes in any area of your homeschooling life. I will be planning my homeschool speech class for our co-op happening this semester. Having a plan laid out will keep me from wondering what we should be doing when all the students have already arrived in my home.

Our kids need a plan to follow too. Make sure they have their own list of work to accomplish. I have two free planners for kids. Or give Trello a try.

theorganizedhomeschoollife_2piecemockup

Homeschool moms tend to spend a lot of time shopping for the perfect planner and I understand that. Planners are awesome! But just as important is what you write in that planner. If you want to teach your kids a new subject this semester, you’ll want to plan for how to do that. We can save ourselves a lot of time by adopting someone else’s plan that we think would be workable. You can use an online unit study from Techie Homeschool Mom that’s already been put together. I’ve also talked about how we can get organized this year by using someone else’s plan, which in this case happens to be mine. The Organized Homeschool Life gives you a plan for organizing a different aspect of your life every week of the year. There may be particular challenges that don’t apply to you. So you can simply choose to work on an area of your homeschool life that does apply to you. But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Search for plans for gaining control and meeting the goals that you have for the various aspects of your homeschooling life besides organizing. If you want to get in shape, you don’t have to cobble a workout together on your own. There are numerous workouts that have already been developed to help you. You can find someone else’s plan for growing spiritually, too. There are prayer and Bible reading calendars ready for you to Google them.

Which of these sanity steps will you take first? Let’s talk about it at Homeschool Sanity on Facebook.

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6 Christmas Stress Mistakes You Must Avoid Making

6 Christmas Stress Mistakes You Must Avoid Making

You’re busy. You’re dealing with lots of people. You’re stressed this Christmas season. Stress can lead us to make some mistakes that will make things worse. Avoid these six mistakes and you’re likely to have a merry Christmas.

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Christmas stress mistakes you don't want to make; homeschooling

Mistake #1: Not planning a homeschool break

What we typically do is get busy with other things this time of year. There is more shopping and cooking and even chatting going on. After all, it’s Christmas! Somehow in the midst of all the extra activity, we end up not doing school. But it isn’t a planned break. We just sleep in, do some Christmas shopping, or watch Christmas movies instead of homeschooling. We aren’t doing a Christmas unit study. That’s different. We find ourselves falling into a Christmas break. The result is we feel guilty. We really wanted to get a lot done before Christmas. But we didn’t. And we don’t feel refreshed like we should from a planned break. Instead of falling into a Christmas break this year, decide whether you really are going to do a Christmas unit study. Plan what to do. If you don’t have time to plan, try the Christmas Traditions or Christmas Around the World online unit studies from Techie Homeschool Mom. They’re done for you.

If you don’t want to do a Christmas unit study, plan when you are going to take a break and for how long. If you feel behind on your regular studies, decide what you want to accomplish before Christmas. Make a realistic list for yourself and your children. Give your children the option of finishing early if they finish their work early or you finish your family work early. This is the process I used to create the most motivating homeschool planner ever.

Mistake #2: Changing your sleep schedule

Changing your sleep schedule may be one of the things you look forward to at Christmas time. You can stay up late watching movies and can sleep in. A few nights of this is okay, but erratic sleep schedules will wreak havoc on you and the kids. I recently read that our melatonin levels go down after 10 p.m. This means that it will be harder for us to fall asleep later at night. Adequate, consistent sleep provides a number of benefits. It helps to control weight, maintains a positive mood, increases focus, strengthens immunity, and helps control stress. No matter how busy you are, you will benefit from sticking to your regular bed and awakening time as closely as you can. If you have to stay up late for a Christmas party, for example, sleep in if you can. If you can’t because your kids will be up early, get up at the same time as usual. Then do your best to take a nap during the day. This advice is good for your children, too. We took a family vacation over Christmas break when my youngest was three. He did not get his nap and had night terrors as a result. He woke up screaming and could not be consoled. It’s a great example of what lack of sleep does to all of us internally.

Mistake #3: Skipping personal devotion time

When we go to bed late, we tend to get up late. If you have your time with the Lord in the morning as I do, you’ll miss it. Then you will struggle to have that time with God later in the day. Not having a quiet time of prayer, Bible reading, and meditation is a real problem when you are stressed, because that’s when you need it most. In fact, having that time with God during the Christmas season is likely to prevent stress in the first place. What’s more, if you continually skip your time with God this season, you will find yourself looking back on Christmas and feeling as though you missed the most important part. If in the midst of Christmas stress, you find yourself missing your time with God, make plans to correct that immediately. In addition, don’t limit yourself to your planned times with God. When you find yourself feeling frazzled or annoyed, take a few minutes to sit down in the presence of the Lord. One of my favorite things to do in those instances, is to write out what I’m feeling. Go to God with your stresses and worries and concerns and write them down. Pray and ask God what He has to say to you about these things. He may give you an idea or a Scripture or just a sense of peace that you did not have before.

Mistake #4: Not getting exercise

Another common habit we skip when we are under stress is exercise. That’s unfortunate because exercise helps to control the physical and emotional side effects of stress. For example, our immunity suffers when we are stressed. One of the benefits of exercise is that it raises our body temperature, helping to kill viruses and bacteria like a fever does. Over the Christmas season, we may have erratic sleep schedules, eat differently, and will spend time with large groups of people who may have a variety of germs. Giving up our exercise is not wise in these conditions. Exercise is also proven to relieve depression and anxiety. Christmas is the season we need exercise more than ever. If you don’t currently exercise, now is the perfect time to start. Check out 6 Short Workouts You Can Do at Home. Exercise doesn’t have to take an hour to be effective.

Mistake #5 Dropping other routines

There are other aspects of our routine besides sleep, devotions, and exercise. Because we’re stressed at this time of year, we can be temped to let them go. But not doing laundry, regular picking up, and meal planning will make life even more stressful. A cluttered environment adds to the feeling of being out of control. No meal plan will lead to irritability and an extra expense at this costly time of year. Not taking a few minutes to put laundry away and do dishes will cost you more time. It’s a lie that we will have more time to do these routine things later. Instead of dropping your routines when you’re stressed, maintain your habits. Use this time to start new ones. Set the timer and do a whole house pick up together for 15 minutes. Then do it again the next day. This is the time to be even more careful to schedule your days. You’ll accomplish what you hope to in your homeschooling, your home, and other responsibilities and you’ll still have time to enjoy special Christmas activities.

Mistake #6 Skipping your favorite parts of the season

When we are stressed, we immediately consider ways of saving time and cutting corners. That’s a good thing unless we consider eliminating things that are the highlight of our Christmas. If you don’t love making everyone’s favorite appetizer, pick something up instead. But if making Christmas cookies is a treasured tradition, make sure you do it — even though you’re stressed. The disappointment of having a busy, but unsatisfying Christmas just isn’t worth it. What if you don’t know how you can still do your favorite activities? Pray about it. The Lord will show you if there is something you think is non-negotiable but could be dropped. He may show you a way to multi-task. Need to have lunch with a friend and get Christmas shopping done? Do both together. Be willing to talk to people you love about your predicament. Will they really be disappointed if you don’t do something this year? They’ll let you know. You can include your favorite parts of the season even though you’re busy by asking for help. I used to be exhausted trying to wrap dozens of gifts. Then I switched to purchasing three gifts for my family members. You can find the link to my idea list for this in the show notes. And I asked my family members to help wrap. They love wrapping! And we spend time together while we do it. Being with my family just happens to be one of favorite parts of the season.

Which of these mistakes has caused you the most problems in previous years? Let’s chat about it on Facebook.

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Political Lessons Homeschoolers Must Teach Their Children

Political Lessons Homeschoolers Must Teach Their Children

Regardless of your opinion of the election results, you’ve no doubt had some conversation about it. Perhaps, like me, you’ve also considered what to say to your children about these events. Or even more, what you should have said to them before these events. These are lessons I want to teach my children. I think they are lessons that every Christian homeschooler should teach, regardless of poltical leanings.

Political Lessons Homeschoolers Must Teach Their Children

The first political lesson we must teach our children is that conflict like we have had recently is nothing new.

It’s not the worst conflict in history. It’s not even the worst conflict in our country. It’s easy to feel like things are so bad, like they’re so out-of-control when you aren’t keeping them in a historical context. The United States was deeply divided over allegiance to England. It was deeply divided over states’ rights, so much so that some consider the Constitution a miracle. I know I do. It was so divided over slavery and regional differences that family members were willing to fight and kill each other in the Civil War. The 1960s and 70s were rife with civil rights and anti-war protests. Here is a long list of protests and riots that have occurred in the United States over the decades. Your students will be convinced that what we are experiencing in our country today is nothing new.

It’s important that our children understand that recent events are no reason to fear, nor or they a reason to give up hope for our country. The truth is there are many areas in which America has come a long way.

The second political lesson we must teach our children is that politics is a worldly weapon.

I love the New Living Translation of 2 Corinthians 10:4 which reads, We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. Worldly weapons are debates, rhetoric, social media campaigns, and elections. As Christians, we still use worldly weapons. In the United States, we have freedoms that have come at a very high price. Not to exercise the freedom to vote, for example, is not expressing gratitude for the sacrifices that have been made. We have the right to participate in every aspect of the political process. We can campaign for our candidate. We can share videos that argue our view. We can even protest. But that’s not where we put our hope. We don’t have our hope in a democratic republic. We don’t lose hope when our candidate doesn’t win. We don’t suddenly have faith in our country when our candidate does win. No matter who are leaders are, God is in control. The English Standard Version of Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.”

Because God is in control, we ought to go to Him first with our needs and concerns. We use His weapons which are detailed for us in Ephesians 6: 14-18. It reads, Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

No matter what the political issue, we want our children to seek truth, righteousness, peace, faith, the mind of Christ, God’s Word, and prayer. These are mighty political weapons.

The third political lesson we must teach our children is to look for logical fallacies.

These are errors in reasoning that we or our political opponents may make. As much as possible we want our children to avoid making these errors. We also want them to be able to recognize them in others’ arguments. For example, the slippery slope argues that one small step in a direction will necessarily lead to a more drastic decision. For example, requiring a background check to buy a gun will lead to the banning of all guns. An ad hominem argument is an attack of the person rather than his or argument. A person’s prior immoral act does not make every stance of a candidate invalid, for example. A red herring is an argument unrelated to the issue. For example, discussing China’s environmental policy is not related to what the United State’s should be. A straw man argument is when an opponent’s argument is stated in such a way as it is easy to tear down. For example, people who are concerned with terrorists immigrating here are xenophobic and xenophobia shouldn’t be tolerated. There are excellent books and curricula we can use to make sure are children recognize logical fallacies. Here is Cathy Duffy’s list of logic and critical thinking curricula.

The fourth political lesson we must teach our children is that statistics can be used to support any argument.

Statistics aren’t facts. I studied statistics for longer than I ever wanted to, but I’m glad to understand some of the difficulties in interpreting them. Hard science data like weight and temperature can be flawed. What instruments were used? Were they used in every measurement with the same conditions? Could there have been user or measurement error? When it comes to measuring human behavior or attitudes, the potential for error skyrockets. People often don’t do what they say they’ve done or what they say they will do. Questions can be written or stated in a leading way.

A second major problem with statistics is that correlation is often confused with causation. I discussed right-to-work laws with someone who knew more about them than I do. And in case you have a strong opinion either way, let me just say that I have not yet decided what I think about it. The person I talked with told me that states with right-to-work laws have lower wages than states without those laws. Thus, right-to-work laws lower wages. So I did some investigating and discovered that more states with right-to-work laws are in the South where wages are already lower. This may be a case where correlation (the association of one variable with another) does not mean one variable causes another. Or that could in fact be happening over and above the lower wage levels that already existed. There are statistical calculations that can take that into account. But often the side making the argument won’t use statistics that don’t make the strongest argument for them.

Until your children are old enough to study statistics in depth, it’s important for them to know that statistics are complicated. They may or may not be facts that support one side of an argument.

The fifth political lesson we must teach our children is that every argument has two sides.

I think one of the best ways to teach this is to teach your children how to debate. Even if they don’t participate on a debate team, they can debate someone in co-op or even in their own family. The most learning happens when you are required to debate in favor of the opposite view that you hold. I’ve served as a debate coach many times and looking beyond debater skills, I’ve found myself very confused about which side is truly right. That’s what happens when you look at both sides of an issue.

Beyond debate, I think it’s important to talk to people affected by the issue at hand. It’s easy to say that a program should be eliminated if you don’t benefit from it. But after talking with someone who relies on it, you may change your mind. Just as with statistics, political issues are usually a lot more complex than what mainstream media make them out to be. If you as a parent have the opportunity to talk with different parties in a contentious political issue, do it. Unfortunately, you may end up more confused than ever. But at least you won’t have an uninformed view.

The final lesson I think we have to teach our children with respect to politics is the benefits and responsibilities of nonviolent resistance.

There have been times and will be times when we object to something so strongly that we have to take a stand. We must protest and resist a policy or a law. These protests can make positive changes. They have throughout history. But we must resist nonviolently. Our actions must always be motivated out of love. 1 Corinthians 13: 1 says, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” No matter how well spoken our children are, if they protest to make themselves look good, to gain power, or to get revenge, they’re just making a lot of noise. Resistance must always be motivated from love and it must always be nonviolent.

The list of examples we have of nonviolence resistance is long and prestigious:

Jesus

The Apostles

The early church

Luther

The Pilgrims

Ghandi

Martin Luther King Jr.

We have the right to resist immoral or unjust laws and practices. We can see immense positive change as a result. But we also have the responsibility to do so accepting the legal consequences. Did Daniel pitch a fit about being thrown to the lions’ den? No. He had violated the law of the land and he knew it. He had to rely on God to save him. We and our children must do likewise. We have to know that when we choose to protest something that there may be negative effects. We must face them without complaint, relying on God to save us or not as He deems fit.

That’s an advanced lesson, isn’t it? But we are told not to worry about what we will say in that situation. The Holy Spirit will speak through us. He will speak through our children.

Which of these political lessons do you think is most important? Let’s talk about it on Homeschool Sanity on Facebook.

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Black Friday Deals for Saner Homeschooling and Living

Black Friday Deals for Saner Homeschooling and Living

I love Black Friday, don’t you? You can save so much on homeschool curriculum and more. I can’t wait to share the deals I have for you on Psychowith6 products, but I also have deals from my affiliates (aka friends) to share below. If you’d like even more deals for Black Friday, join us at HomeschoolScopes.tv where we’ll be having Black Friday deals on Facebook Live November 21st through the 22nd.

Deals for Saner Homeschooling and Living

Psychowith6 Black Friday Sale

Get The Organized Homeschool Life, your week-by-week guide to homeschool sanity, for 50% off. It’s ust $5 when you purchase the digital version here from November 21-25 using code BLACKFRIDAY. You’ll get the 2017 organizing calendars for free! Amazon purchasers can get the calendars with a screenshot of your Amazon review. Email Psychowith6 {at} gmail. This can be the year you finally get organized. What a great gift for a homeschooling friend! If you’ve already purchased The Organized Homeschool Life from Psychowith6 , you can get the 2017 calendars by downloading them at http://psychowith6.com/my-account.

You can also get the biggest discount ever on Grammar Galaxy, an elementary language arts curriculum that kids beg to do. Save 25% on digital or print Nebula curriculum designed for beginning readers (1st or 2nd graders and up) using code BLACKFRIDAY.

You can also save 25% with the same code by pre-ordering the next level — Grammar Galaxy Protostar. Protostar is for third graders who are reading or students who have completed Nebula.

I’ll be sharing more about The Organized Homeschool Life and Grammar Galaxy at 3:00 p.m. Central time at Homeschool Sanity on Facebook today. I’d love to chat with you!

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Music in Our Homeschool / I Choose Joy Black Friday Sale

Music in Our Homeschool’s online courses are $10 off now through November 30th with code BLACKFRIDAY. Gena Mayo’s 15-minute music courses are safe for kids to do on their own. Talk about a sanity saver! Her high school courses are a perfect fine arts credit that your teen will love.

The 21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music Appreciation and 25 Lessons in 20th Century European and South American Music Appreciation are also $10 off. No coupon needed! My kids and I love the American Music Appreciation course! Highly recommended. At this price, it’s a no brainer.

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Our Journey Westward Black Friday Sale

All NaturExplorers Christmas and Winter curriculum is 25% off. These easy-to-use nature studies are perfect for Charlotte Mason homeschoolers and moms who want science made easy. Check out my interview with Cindy West on The Homeschool Sanity show. I know you’ll love these studies.

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7 Sisters Black Friday Sale

The 7 Sisters have an amazing deal on a bundle of Christmas curriculum. Beginning on November 25th, you can order a bundle worth $32.93 for just $24.99. I want it all! It includes new curriculum perfect for this busy season:

  • Writing a Holiday Family Narrative Short Story Writing Guide (5 fun lessons for a week of creative writing) for middle and high school students
  • Cinema Studies for Literature Learning Study Guide for A Christmas Carol (1984) starring George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge for high school students
  • Literature Activity Guide for Just in Time for Christmas by Louise Borden for elementary students
  • Holiday Science Experiences for all ages
  • Holiday Fine Arts and Crafts for all ages

PLUS…

  • Literature Study Guide Hymns and Creeds (including study of lyrics to traditional Christmas carols) for high school students
  • The Christmas Carol War script for a fun taste of Readers Theater for your family or co-op
  • Christmas Carols in languages from around the world

AND…

encouragement for MOM as 2016 draws to a close!

  • Christmas with 7Sisters: Real Christmas for Real People (including personal stories from your “big sisters” and tips for handling the holidays when things are harder than usual…after the death of a loved one, when finances are especially tight, when your family is broken or blended, etc.)
  • Making Great Use of Holiday Family Gatherings in Your Homeschool (a 3-page article to help you blend learning and celebration)
  • A collection of favorite Christmas recipes from each of us at 7Sisters
  • A Prayer Journal to encourage you to spend the time you NEED with God as a new year is about to begin

To top it off, the first 30 orders receive a free 7th sister mug. I have one and it’s fab!

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They Call Me Blessed Academy Black Friday Sale

Ana Willis’s Grow Your Blog Partying in 30 Days ecourse is on sale for just $39! If you are a blogger who is frustrated with your traffic, Ana’s course could help you multiply that traffic by 10 times. She did it and she’ll show you how. I have had the opportunity to preview the course curriculum and I think this is a bargain. Give your blog this gift.

Not Consumed Black Friday Sale

From November 25th to November 30th, Not Consumed’s excellent biblical, family, and homeschooling resources are on sale. Could you use a fresh focus on Christ? Do you want to raise grateful children? Want a great reading tool? Check out the best prices on these sanity savers.

Your Vibrant Family Black Friday Sale

I love this Christmas program and can’t wait to do the 30 days of random acts of kindness part of it with my kids. But there is SO much to this system for making Christ the center of your Christmas. You’ll save $10 November 22nd-November 23rd with code PREBLACKFRI10OFF you will get a free bonus Christmas banner. This is a must-buy!

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Plan to Eat Black Friday Sale

I love this meal planning program. I rely on it! It saves my sanity that I can save recipes to it from across the web and can then plan meals and generate shopping lists. The user interface is just so easy. Subscriptions of Plan to Eat are 50% off November 25th through the 28th.

Bright Ideas Press store

Bright Ideas Press Black Friday Sale

On Black Friday through Cyber Monday, Bright Ideas Press is discounting everything but bundles, clearance, and online classes 20%. The sale is good for:

1. WonderMaps
2. North Star Geography
3. Illuminations
4. All American History
5. Christian Kids Explore science series
6. A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers

What are you waiting for? It’s time to shop!

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