Simply Stress-free Homeschooling
November 29, 2017
Mercy Every Minute  
Thanksgiving is gone and Christmas is just around the corner. It’s not the best time to be thinking about homeschooling. Or maybe it is. I find when I take these little school breaks with my children, I see more clearly why I love this thing called home education. 

It is a precious thing to have my children home with me. I am thankful to be able to give our children a Spirit-led education and a stress-free learning environment. Just what does a stress-free, Spirit-led homeschool look like? 

It looks like this:
  • A home where the pillars of true education stand on the firm foundation of the Word of God.
  • Prayer happening in school, with the teacher, and as a necessity, not an option.
  • A way of life and not a rigid set of cookie cutter rules or a set of boxed curriculum (unless I choose that!) 
  • Cuddling with a newborn, dancing with a toddler, and chatting with a teen.
  • Being there for all the milestones of each child with the whole family cheering each other on. 
  • Singing Scripture songs, learning Bible stories, and memorizing Scripture together.
  • Creating with clay, painting, or making cookies with my kids while listening to worship music.
  • Reading good books aloud to everyone and hearing them beg for just one more chapter!
  • Going to the park and playing tag or going to the library to find helpful resources and inspiration.
  • Trying science experiments and going for nature walks while observing the brilliance of God’s design.
  • Sitting around the family room and laughing with each other or just talking about whatever comes up.
  • Solving crises together and praying for others.
  • Watching my children learn and grow and develop their God-given abilities.

It looks like . . . experiencing life, and life in Christ— together

Whether you are taking a breather from academics right now, or getting some in before Christmas, remember to be thankful that you are blessed to have your children home where they belong. From a perspective of thanksgiving, I see that no matter how challenging, draining, exhausting, monotonous, or exciting homeschooling can be, I am thankful I am home where I belong and living the life God called me to live. And, I’d never want it any other way; I could never send my children away to experience this life with someone else. Because we are all home where we belong, we are learning and laughing and crying and playing and growing together. This is God’s brilliant design, and I am so blessed and thankful for it! 

“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: to shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night. For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands.” Psalm 92:1-2; 4

~Deborah
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Hey Mama,

You did it! You survived the week! Woohoo! One down—who knows how many more to go? Or are you counting? I know your littles are. Like so many Mamas, I find this time of year builds stress. It breeds during the holidays. But there is a key to stress-free homeschooling. One. Day. At. A. Time. Our Daddy in heaven won’t give us more than we can handle—He’s promised! And he ALWAYS keeps His Word. So head high. Take heart. And enjoy some encouragement from these articles from The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine :




And, stay in the Word, Mama . . .

It's kind of interesting to me how when you go to Ephesians chapter 3 and read through the text, you find a strong message about Christ's love for us. I mean, the writer, Paul, is trying to give us even a mere glimpse of that deep love that cannot even be fully understood—that's how deep it runs! It says, "so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God."

Someday, we will understand it better, on the other side of this life. But did you get that? Christ's love SURPASSES knowledge. That is so abstract to me! But it tells me one thing: God is my Parent. He loves me far more deeply even than I even can love my own children. And I love them fiercely. Just imagine His love for you, Mama . . . and just consider what He is doing in THEIR lives. After all, He put them under your care. He has a plan.

So today, back in the saddle. The weekend is over and we have schooling, cleaning, and taking care of business as usual. But as you go about your day, I want you to remember and really dwell on His love for you. There is such PURPOSE in what you are doing, Mama. None of this is in vain. He loves you. Your Daddy in heaven holds your head in His hands today. 

Walk confidently, then, as Ephesians 3 also tells us: "In whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him." Did you catch that? With BOLDNESS you can approach the throne. With CONFIDENCE you can walk today—in Him. Choose joy, Mama! Take lightness of heart because of your Father who cares SO deeply for you that He actually grants you full access to Him! I feel so secure in that love. I'm safe there.

Be filled up with the fullness of God. Be blessed, today, Mama.

Take all of those things! Today will take care of itself, just like tomorrow will, too. His grace and mercies and love and patience and kindness . . . they are all new every morning. They're yours, so humbly and gracefully walk like the daughter of THE King, boldly, confidently, and like an heir: the princess that you are. Because His hand—as always—ever remains on your head today.

-gena
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Did you laugh when you read the subject of today’s e-mail? Or, groan? Yeah, me, too. 😋

I don’t know if there is any way to completely get rid of the stress of homeschooling. After all, we’re in a spiritual battle for our kids' souls. That means we’re going to face opposition. That means we need to be in prayer and be ready to fight the enemy.

That said, there are some things you can do that will greatly reduce the day-to-day stress in your life:

Adapt your schooling to your life. If you have a doctor’s appointment Wednesday, plan a light day of school. If Grandma is visiting next week, cut out all but the basics, or even do extra work this week and the week after she leaves, and take a week off. When things are calm, do more, and get all the extras done.

Remember you don’t owe explanations to anyone. If a grandparent asks how they are doing in school, answer, “Great! Doing just what he’s supposed to,” even if that means his reading isn’t up to grade level yet because he’s dyslexic. He is right where he is supposed to be!
Let go of worrying about what your friends are doing. Comparing ourselves to our friends is one of the very worst things about our social media culture. You see everyone else’s highlight reel and compare it to your blooper reel. Trust that they have their own bloopers, and do what’s best for your family.

Concentrate on the basics when you are struggling. If you keep up with math and reading, you can catch up on the rest pretty easily when things let up a bit. You can do a lot of history or science in a couple of concentrated weeks when you need to.

Realize making memories is more important than housework. Your children will remember baking cookies or reading aloud with you more than they will remember how neat (or messy) your house was.

Trust that God’s curriculum for your children may be different from yours. I feel stress when our life circumstances, illness, ministry, business, whatever, make it hard to concentrate on our homeschooling. It’s then that I have to remember that those circumstances are under the control of a sovereign God who knows better what my children need than I do. Maybe they need to learn compassion or self-sacrifice or diligence or responsibility more than they need to learn adverbs or fractions this month. Trust God.

A couple of decades of homeschooling has taught me that most of my stress originates right in my own heart. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, the stress seems to fall away, and we’re left with the joy of being with our children in the midst of this crazy life. 

Hey friends, we want to bless you with more than just this column. Click here and get access to a Special Sale just for readers of The Homeschool Minute PLUS a free download of our Christmas book, Christ-Centered Christmas . The sale includes up to THREE FREE, wrap ‘em up physical gifts with purchase!

Merry Christmas!

Hal & Melanie
Staying Relational   
Dear Friend,

Have you recovered yet from last week’s Thanksgiving-meal labors? Whew! And, now, less than a month remains until Christmas!! Oh, my!!!

What a great time to take a few minutes to consider ways of reducing stress. 

You know, of course, that real life is not stress-free. However, there is a BIG difference between swimming in an ocean of stress and occasionally getting wet in a mild rain of stress. How to exchange the ocean for the mild rain is what I want to share with you today.

If you are facing difficult challenges that naturally raise the level of stress (like long-term illness, a newborn baby, financial loss, or a move cross country)—or, if you are just trying to figure out how to get laundry OFF the table, dinner ON the table, as well as decorate the Christmas tree, and teach reading, writing, and math—there is a practical strategy that can make a world of difference for you right now:

Simplicity—Simple. Simply. Simplify.

Whether you are in the midst of the storm, when it’s a matter of survival as you watch the next wave coming at you, or whether you just recently crossed the line into “overwhelmed” because of all the extra demands of the holiday season on top of normal homeschooling, it’s a good strategy to ask yourself, “How can I simplify my life RIGHT NOW? What can be made easier, put temporarily on hold, or completely eliminated?”

I’ve discovered in my own journey that, when I tried to simplify, I often had a mental argument—with myself!!

“Diana, just make peanut butter sandwiches for dinner.”

“No, that’s not proper dinner food!!”

“It’s all you have time and energy for right now.”

“Doesn’t matter!! It’s NOT RIGHT!!”

If you find yourself losing a similar internal argument, it may be helpful to write out your thoughts in a journal. I’ve found that once it’s outside of my head and on a piece of paper, it becomes much easier to look at things realistically. If it’s still a battle, ask your spouse or close friend to process with you.

“Oh, of course! Eating peanut butter sandwiches tonight is a SHORT-TERM solution. After we get through these next few days, I can cook ‘normal’ food again.”

What a relief!!

Remember, stay relational.

Diana

P.S. If you are facing a lot of stress and pressure right now, I understand! This blog may provide some more encouragement— Dealing with Pressure
Stacy Farrell

It’s the most stressful wonderful time of the year!

As we approach the end of the year, it’s easy to feel frantic. 

D-e-c-e-m-b-e-r. 

“The most wonderful time of the year!” the singers declare. But, for many of us, it can become the most stressful time of the year.

So many things to do! So many things left undone! Don’t we have to finish it all?

Well, actually . . . NO. Maybe we don’t.

Permission to Slow Down

No one knows your family quite like you do. Ultimately, you’re the one who decides what must get done. But if you’re wondering if it’s all right to let go of some “to dos,” then here are a few thoughts that may help you simplify this Christmas: 

  • “The days are long, but the years are short.” They really are. We need to take time to savor these precious moments while our children are with us.
  • About those textbooks. . . It’s often said that homeschoolers are the only ones who finish their textbooks. Whether or not that is true, it’s helpful to know that many teachers teach only portions of textbooks. (We really don’t have to read everything from cover-to-cover.) 
  • The stress that comes from worry is destructive and futile (Luke 12:25.) Cross “worry” off your “to do” list, and redirect that energy to the tasks that should remain. 
  • Some stress can be good. The stress that comes from knowing we’re responsible for our children can be the driving force needed to propel us forward when we feel weary or afraid.
  • There will be days when we feel weary or afraid. Thankfully, those days will pass. But when we’re in the midst of them, we can cry out to the One who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). He loves us and has the power we need.

Christmas Is Coming!

There is only one Christmas 2017. Do we really want to be so overcome by the weight of worry and “to dos” that we miss it?
Those “to dos” will be waiting for us when the new year begins. But, right now, let’s slow down and savor this season. 

Drink in the miracle of the God with us . . . and rest. 
 
About the Author

Stacy Farrell’s worldview changed when she embarked on her homeschooling adventure in 2002. 

Prior to homeschooling, she wrote a broad range of material for corporate, Christian, and non-profit clients. She also managed a law firm that specialized in civil rights, litigation, and constitutional law. Today, she loves to help empower students to recover territory lost by “fuzzy thinking” and low expectations.

Stacy speaks at a variety of homeschool conferences. She has published articles in leading Christian and homeschool magazines. Although she loves to write, speak, and teach, Stacy considers her role as wife to Roger and mother to two precious sons to be her greatest work and privilege.

SAVE 40% on the digital editions of Stacy’s books right now using the code BF40 at HomeSchoolAdventure.com . (Hurry! The code expires after midnight tonight, 11/29/17.)
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You’ve heard it said that kids can only absorb so much information before they have to get up and move. The same holds true for adults, only instead of absorbing information and moving, it’s doing life and refilling our hearts at the well of God’s Word. We spend all day fielding demands, investing in loved ones, and trying to keep all the plates spinning. If we don’t take time to fill our hearts with God’s love and His promises to us, we’ll soon find ourselves with nothing good left to give. 

If you’re homeschooling this year and you’re not a member of SchoolhouseTeachers.com , come give us a try. You can try the entire site for 30 days for $5. If you’re looking for some refreshment, you might consider one of the many Bible studies or parenting resources that are included in your family’s membership. If you or someone you know would be interested in teaching or writing for us, let us know. You can email me at bhudson@TheOldSchoolhouse.com . We look forward to serving you and your family! 


in the latest issue of
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.
Contest Corner  
For the month of November



As a classical homeschooling family who leans to the Charlotte Mason side and uses quite a bit of Memoria Press curriculum in our yearly studies, Memoria Press is one of the homeschooling companies that I drool over on their website and print magazine. We are quite familiar with Memoria Press and the whole array of products they offer. (. . .) We were blessed to receive The Book of Trees Set (Reader, Student Book, and Teacher’s Guide) to enhance our nature studies . (. . .)

The course contains 21 lessons broken up over five units of work cover the following topics: The Root & Stem, Leaves, Flowers & Fruits, Observing Trees, and Advanced work with Photosynthesis & Respiration. Completing any of the 21 lessons is easy to do with the help of the model lesson plan given in the front of the Student Book. The model lesson plan gives you review, reading questions, diagrams, and labeling, along with activities to complete.

For our family, we used this set during the morning with our girls. We took our time and worked through the lessons with a nice and slow pace by completing one lesson a week. There is plenty of material available to stretch the learning out to one lesson per week and still get a full course load. My girls enjoyed going for walks and keeping a nature journal, all the while discovering the nature in our neighborhood right around us including the trees in the forest down the street. Learning to identify the different types of leaves and trees of the forest was new and exciting for us. I especially enjoyed that the program is so thorough and draws different disciplines including comprehension and Latin into the program. (Read the rest of The Book of Trees review.)
My kids are all animal lovers. My oldest son determined recently that he will become a veterinarian when he is older. As he gets older, I strive to encourage him to learn those things that matter most to him. So, Nature's Beautiful Order - An Introduction to the Study of Animals Taught by the Classical Naturalists , from Memoria Press, was a wonderful addition to his studies!

Nature's Beautiful Order is a wonderful way to introduce students to the study of animals, or even just further encourage your animal lover! We received the textbook as well as a student and teacher guide. This is recommended for students in grades 6-8 but can also be used to supplement a higher-level biology course. There are eighteen lessons in all that teach what an animal is and then lead students in study on the various classes of animals in the animal kingdom.

I have to say, before this, I was not very familiar with the concept of the study of natural history. However, being that we all love history and science in this house, we certainly enjoyed every minute of this course. What better way to grow in our children a love for the beauty and wisdom within the animal kingdom. With simple readings, we are led to better understand what exactly an animal is. And it turns out they have an answer that goes beyond what many of us would answer. The reader is full of the works of classical naturalists like John James Audubon, Jean-Henri Fabre, and St. George J. Mivart.

YOU can WIN both full sets of physical science books for your homeschool! 

TO ENTER : Click on over to our entry page and follow the instructions! Contest ends at midnight, the last day of the month.
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