The Most Important Thing to Teach Your Child at Home

As we face new challenges with social distancing, I am doing a series of tips on Facebook Live for homeschooling parents, traditional parents, and others dealing with anxiety, depression, and parenting challenges. In this video, I discuss why teaching your child to respect and obey you is the most important thing to teach your child and home. Then I give you some easy suggestions for how to do that!

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Have a parenting question? Let me know in the comments.

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A Mr. Rogers Approach to Homeschooling

A Mr. Rogers Approach to Homeschooling

I watched the movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood about Mr. Rogers and his relationship with a journalist who was sent to interview him. It is rated PG and is a drama that is not fast-paced. For that reason, I think young children would be bored. However, I highly recommend it for you as a homeschooler.

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Mr. Rogers wasn’t a homeschooler and, as far as I know, had nothing to say about homeschooling. But I think his life and the way he lived it had a lot to say about it. I’m going to share with you six approaches to homeschooling that we can take from Mr. Rogers’s life. I believe these approaches could be transformative to your homeschooling and especially to your family.

Delight in your child.

The first approach we can take in homeschooling that is derived from Mr. Rogers’s life and work is to delight in your child.

In the opening scene of Mr. Rogers on set, we see him meeting with a child and his family. He is on his knee and commenting on a sword the child is holding. He does not ask the child a number of questions. Instead, he makes observations about the sword, allowing the child to correct him. This is standard procedure in play therapy. Making observations rather then asking questions makes children feel comfortable with us. Children have to answer multiple questions a day and grow weary of them. (I know. Moms do too, but hang with me here.) The final observation Mr. Rogers makes of the child and his sword is positive. He expresses wonder at the child’s strength. The child’s response is to hug Mr. Rogers.

How can we express delight in our own children? Let’s consider a child’s writing. Rather then asking what a child was trying to say in a piece of writing, we can make observations. It looks like you put a lot of thought into this. It seems like you really love this subject. If we are observing a child’s artwork, we might talk about the movement or emotion of the piece. We might comment on the beautiful colors.

Mr. Rogers also expressed delight in having the opportunity to get to know the journalist. In the same way, we can express our joy when her children wake up in the morning, or when they assemble for morning basket time, or when our teens come home from work. That leads me to Mr. Rogers’s principal number two.

Relationships come first.

While Mr. Rogers met with the child and his parents, the journalist asked his staff how often he did that. The staff sighed and and answered, “Every day.” They expressed their chagrin at the delays that these interactions caused their production crew.

When we have a needy toddler, teen, or spouse, we have a tendency to react the way Mr. Rogers’s production team did. We can become frustrated as we see these relationship issues as an interruption to our real work. Mr. Rogers would say that people are our real work. They should always come first, even if that means the math, the handwriting, or the history has to come later.

We can apply this principle by reminding ourselves every day that we are first and foremost about relationship building. As a homeschooling mom of six, I can say unequivocally that my relationships with my children are the greatest blessing of teaching them at home and not their superior education.

EQ is just as important as IQ.

The third Mr. Rogers principle that can apply to homeschooling is that EQ or emotional intelligence is just as important as IQ.

Mr. Rogers started his television program to address children’s emotional and social skills as opposed to the intellectual skills that were being addressed on Sesame Street. We see the importance of EQ in some gifted children who struggle. They can feel lonely, irritable, or depressed if they haven’t been taught emotional and social skills. We are not providing a whole education if we only focus on academics.

If we want to apply Mr. Rogers’s principle to our homeschooling, we have to take time to address sibling conflict. We have to teach our children how to manage grief. We have to teach our children how to make friends, how to handle teasing, how to handle disappointment, and so much more. We can use books and movies to teach these skills, and we can also use life experiences to prompt us. Again, we can do this, even if it means we get behind on our lesson plans.

Listen more and talk less.

The fourth Mr. Rogers’s principle that we can apply to our homeschooling is to listen more and talk less. James 1:19 says “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” Mr. Rogers appeared to be the embodiment of this verse. In fact, at some points the movie creates significant discomfort because nothing is being said. Mr. Rogers waits for his journalist friend to speak, and when he does, the words are powerful. Silence can prompt true expression.

We can apply this principle in our homeschools by spending less time lecturing and even reading and more time listening to what our children have to say. If we make an observation or ask a question and our children don’t immediately respond or say ‘I don’t know,’ we can practice productive silence. We can wait for our kids to be ready to share. Our children will talk more as they come to trust that our relationship with them comes first. Using observations rather than questions is more likely to allow our children to talk. Rather then correcting or directing, we can model Mr. Rogers in thanking them for sharing, even if they share something we don’t like.

Spend time in the Word and prayer.

The next principle of Mr. Rogers’s life that we can apply to our homeschooling is praying. Mr. Rogers spent time in the Word and in prayer daily. He prayed for those in his life who obviously needed help and even those who didn’t.

We can apply this to our homeschooling by praying for each of our children. We can pray that they would grow in faith and that they would grow physically, emotionally, and socially. Of course, we can and should pray for ourselves as well. Near the end of the movie, Mr. Rogers asks a dying man to pray for him. We can and should ask others to pray for us as we do the incredibly important job of homeschooling our children.

Tell children they’re loved as they are.

The final principle I want to share from Mr. Rogers’s life that we can apply to homeschooling is showing our children that they’re loved as they are.

Mr. Rogers frequently told his viewers that they were wonderful just as they were. We may object to that when we’re dealing with a child who is sinful and disruptive. But the truth is that children who are struggling won’t have the will to change until they know they are loved just as they are.

We can apply this principle to our homeschooling by reminding our children that even if they never get better at math, reading, or keeping their rooms clean, we couldn’t possibly love them any more. They’re loved just as they are. This was Jesus’ message for us. While we were still sinners, Jesus came to set us free from the wages of that sin.

That message is for you too. You’re loved just as you are. Even if you never get more organized, never understand algebra, never have an Instagram-worthy homeschool day, you’re wonderful just as you are. Your family loves you so very much. God does, too.

Conclusion

Thank you so much for giving me the honor of listening to this podcast. I’m amazed by the sacrifice you make for your family week after week.

I watched another movie this week and there is a quote from it that applies here. The movie is Fighting with My Family. It’s a true story about a professional wrestling family. The sister is chosen to go pro over the brother. The sister tells her brother, “Just because you don’t have millions of people applauding doesn’t means that your work isn’t important.” Homeschool mom, your work is so important.

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How to Trust God with the World

How to Trust God with the World

Trusting God with all the scary things going on in the world right now can be challenging, but that’s our focus this month with the Trust Project.

How can we trust God with a potential pandemic, a stock market crash, climate change, and politics? The short answer is we have to decide that our God is in control of even these worldly threats.

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Why should we trust God with the world?

We begin as we always do with asking ourselves why we should trust God in this area? What are the benefits? What will we start doing and what will we stop doing?

The benefits for me are not having to worry, get angry, or try to convince others that I’m right and they’re wrong. One thing I have started doing is to pray regularly about world events and crises. Something I have stopped doing is regularly reading and watching the news. The news just makes it more difficult for me to have peace. I also unfollow people on social media who say things that upset me.

Now let’s use our TRUST acronym.

The T in trust is for truth.

Our Scripture to meditate on this month is Psalm 18:2:

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

He protects us and shields us more than any medical mask, health care plan, or mutual fund could.

Our Bible account is from Daniel Chapter 3 — the story of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego refusing to bow down and worship the gold statue king Nebuchadnezzar erected. Despite being thrown into the fiery furnace, the men had Jesus in the fire with them. They emerged from the furnace without even the faintest smell of smoke on them.

Jesus is in the fire with us too. There is no reason to fear, though the heat is being turned up and we can feel it.

More believers are facing persecution in today’s world than ever before. Increasingly, even in the Western world, we are asked to compromise our beliefs or face the consequences. But we can trust God to deliver us from every terror and tyrant the world can throw at us. And if He doesn’t deliver us on earth, He will deliver us safely to heaven.

The R in trust is for remembering.

When I was a girl, I learned that the greatest threats we faced were the second ice age and nuclear holocaust. New Year’s Eve 1999, I was at the top of a tall building looking out over the city, waiting for the lights to go out. In 2001, the US experienced the 9/11 terror attacks and immediately thereafter anthrax in our mail. In 2008 we experienced a significant economic downturn. Housing values plummeted and family members lost their jobs or had their income cut in half. Our retirement declined in an alarming fashion.

Thanks be to God, we are still here. I know that nothing can touch us without the loving, wise permissive will of our heavenly father. How has God delivered you from worldly threats in the past?

The U in trust is for understanding.

God gives us wisdom we can use to protect ourselves in the world. On New Year’s Eve 1999, we had stored water and food at our house in case of a shutdown. After 2008, we know to diversify our investments. To prevent illness, we know to wash our hands frequently. We know better than ever how to be good stewards of our environment. We know that one vote makes a difference. And we know that God is in control of it all. What wisdom has God given you for worldly threats?

The S in trust is for supplication.

When it comes to worldly threats, there is very little we can do. That is why we pray. We pray for our leaders to be blessed, whether or not we agree with them. We pray that they would rely on God and His wisdom. We pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are being persecuted. We pray in repentance for ways in which we have mistreated our world and more importantly, the people in it. We pray for mercy, and we trust that God will answer. If we are anxious, it’s a sign that we are trying to be God. In response, we must return to praying that God would be God.

The second T in trust is for Thanksgiving.

We thank God for all the ways He has provided for us, not just in our lifetimes, but for centuries. We thank God for our nations and for those who sacrificed to give us the freedoms we enjoy. And we thank God that He will not leave us orphans. We thank God that He is in control of diseases, of seasons, of the nations, and even of our economies. He determines who is in power and for how long. We express our gratitude that He will continue to care for us. We thank Him that we are not running the world and He is.

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6 Reasons to Include Audiobooks in Your Homeschool

6 Reasons to Include Audiobooks in Your Homeschool

If you’ve ever wondered if using an audiobook was a bad replacement for reading, wonder no more! There are at least six reasons to include audiobooks in your homeschool.

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#1 Audiobooks grow kids’ vocabulary

Reason #1 to use audiobooks in your homeschool is because it grows your kids’ vocabulary. Vocabulary is not only the best predictor of academic success but the best predictor of life success. That is just stunning to me.

If you have a child who is dyslexic or has another reading challenge, don’t let that discourage you. When my son was a four-year-old prereader, a workman was at our house and commented on my son’s large vocabulary. He said, “He talks like an eight-year-old!” That is likely because he was exposed to high-level vocabulary in our conversation and in books read to him by me or a narrator.

Audiobooks can present high-level vocabulary to students in a way they can benefit from. There is more than just the unknown words to tell the story. What we want is lots of exposure to new words, more than workbook drills. Audiobooks are a great vehicle for vocabulary exposure.

#2 Audiobooks teach pronunciation

Reason #2 to use audiobooks in your homeschool is because they teach correct pronunciation. Even advanced students who read voraciously can benefit from listening to audiobooks. Typically, students will not look up pronunciation of new words, leading my daughter to pronounce archives as arCHIVEs.

Even we as parents may not know how to properly pronounce a word when we are reading. It took me a while to learn that facade wasn’t pronounced facade. A professionally narrated audiobook provides valuable education in pronunctiation that doesn’t take your or your student’s time to look up the words.

#3 Audiobooks improve reading fluency

Reason #3 to use audiobooks is improved reading fluency. Having your child read along in the print book while listening to the audio will improve your child’s ability to read and read quickly. Have your child read out loud with the narrator. But even if your child isn’t looking at the book, the narrator’s reading cadence will help your child learn appropriate phrasing, proper pausing, and changes in tone required when reading aloud.

And if your child can read fluently, you’ll have a more confident child who will benefit greatly from reading more.

#4 Audiobooks engage readers

Reason #4 to use audiobooks in your homeschool is to engage readers. Whether you have a reluctant reader or a child who isn’t interested in a particular genre, using professionally produced audiobooks is a way to hook your child. Unless you’re a trained reader, your child will have better attention listening to a narrator’s characters in fiction or to a narrator’s commanding voice in nonfiction than to you. Reluctant readers are often happy to listen to a book, without realizing that the benefits of audiobooks are almost as great as reading a print book.

Audiobooks are fantastic for evoking emotion in listeners–something we know aids learning. Humor in particular is enhanced in audiobooks. The librarian’s voice in Grammar Galaxy Nebula cracks me up. Because she is funny, I remember her talking about tall tales. Your kids will remember too.

#5 Audiobooks are an incentive

Reason #5 to use audiobook is as an incentive. I talk with homeschool parents about how to motivate their students. It can be confusing to determine what to use as reinforcers. We can feel good about using educational materials as rewards, and audiobooks are the perfect option.

Have your child read the book first if you have a reluctant reader. Then play the audiobook. Or use the audiobook as a reward for completing chores or less desirable work. The more we present the audio as a treat, the more willing our kids will be to use it. They’ll have no idea that you want them to listen to the audiobook as much as you want them to complete the other tasks.

#6 Audiobooks save time

Reason #6 to use audiobooks is your time. Reading aloud is so valuable, but our voice only lasts so long. In some cases, we can’t read from a book. I can’t read in the car because of motion sickness. Audiobooks make long drives or even short commutes much more pleasant. They also allow Dad to be involved in what the kids are learning if he isn’t already.

You can use an audiobook for some children while you’re working with others. You can listen to an audiobook while you eat or do chores. You can play it at bedtime to keep kids quiet or for when they don’t have the energy to read themselves, if reading is a challenge. Audiobooks expand your educational time significantly.

Grammar Galaxy Nebula, the first volume of the elementary language arts curriculum kids love is now available as an audiobook! Listen to a sample and add it to your homeschool.

Conclusion

Audiobooks should be a part of your homeschool because they grow vocabulary, teach pronunciation, improve reading fluency, engage readers, motivate, and save time.

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Trusting God with a Loved One’s Salvation

Trusting God with a Loved One’s Salvation

This month for the Trust Project, we are going to trust God for our children’s and other loved ones’ salvation.

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Why we should trust God with a loved one’s salvation

As always, we’ll begin with why we should trust God in this area. What will we stop doing, start doing, and how will we know we’re trusting God with it?

When we trust God with our loved ones’ salvation, we will have peace. We won’t worry about what to say or do because we will know that God has a plan. How silly would it be for God to place anyone’s eternal destiny squarely in our hands? I used to believe that my children’s salvation was entirely my responsibility. The curriculum I chose, the church we attended, and how much time we spent reading Scripture, together with my own capacity for sin carried so much weight. When my first child began asking challenging questions about the faith, I was a nervous wreck. But so was he. My son worried that we wouldn’t love him if he didn’t believe exactly the same way that we did, and I worried that he would reject God and our family. That fear caused a lot of conflict.

So for me, trusting God with my loved ones’ salvation means that I will stop believing that it’s all my responsibility. I will start loving people in my life and believing that God will give me the words and actions that He will use in His plan to bring people to faith. I’ll know that I’m trusting God in this area when I don’t worry about the choices people I love make and I pray instead.

Let’s work through our TRUST acronym for this area.

T is for TRUTH.

Our Scripture to meditate on is Matthew 19:25-26:

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

If our loved ones’ salvation depends on us, it’s impossible for them to be saved. But with God, even the most unlikely person can receive Jesus Christ as his Savior and enjoy eternity with Him.

Our Bible account is the parable of the lost son from Luke Chapter 15. We don’t know when our lost loved ones will return, but we don’t have to chase them down. We can prayerfully wait for God to work in their hearts and minds.

The R in TRUST is for Remembering.

When I am tempted to worry about family and friends who don’t know Jesus, I remember my friend Sarah. I met Sarah at a homeschool activity. She was very nice but she had different views from me on almost everything. I wanted to challenge her views, her reading material, and her parenting practices. In my flesh, this is what I thought was the answer to her salvation. But the Lord restrained me. Instead, I befriended her, invited her to my church and home, and mostly listened.

She told me of her plans to quit homeschooling and to move out of state with her new boyfriend, and I was sure that she would be lost forever. Months later she contacted me when our mutual friend was hospitalized. She was still in town. She said she would pray, but I figured she didn’t mean that literally. A few days later she called me to ask me questions about the Christian faith. She told me, “I wasn’t looking for Jesus, but He came looking for me.”

Sarah had received Jesus, and in no time her views that I so wanted to challenge were aligned with mine. She is now a dear sister in Christ.

Remember God’s faithfulness in bringing you to faith or growing your faith. Remember others you know whom Jesus made His own. Your trust in God with the salvation of others you love will grow.

The U in TRUST is for Understanding.

What wisdom has God already given for you to obey in this area? I read an excellent book with my church called Joining Jesus On His Mission by Greg Finke. It helped me to see that building relationships as I did with Sarah, without pushing theology, is exactly what Jesus would have us do with some of the people in our lives. Love is the greatest theology there is and it’s powerful in the Lord’s hands.

The S in TRUST is for Supplication.

Add those who don’t yet have a relationship with Christ and those who need a closer relationship with Him to your prayer list. I use an app to make these prayers regular. I include all my family on a rotating basis. I didn’t believe that God would answer my prayer for Sarah, and look what He did.

The last T in TRUST is for Thanksgiving.

We can thank God for our salvation, and for the salvation of those whom we already know are in the family of faith. We can also thank Him in advance for our loved ones whose name are in the Book of Life yet haven’t been revealed to us. What a privilege that He allows us to play a role in their salvation.

Conclusion

When we trust God with the entire process, we can enjoy our relationships without fear of our mistakes or theirs. Join me next month as we discuss how to trust God with the world.

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