Category Archives: parenting

Julie Polanco’s book God Schooling ~ a Crew review

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When you are making decisions regarding the education of your children, no matter the course you choose, there are questions and moments when you hesitate and ask yourself if you are making the right one. God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn is a book that will encourage you to continue the endeavor you have chosen if you are home educating your children. Julie Polanco has written this book from her own experiences and research.

Mrs. Polanco and her husband have home educated their four children, with nearly 15 years experience in this realm. She is the author of this book, as well as being a contributing writer for The Old Schoolhouse magazine and the Homeschooling with Heart blog. She is active in her local homeschooling community and the online homeschooling community.

God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn is an easy-to-read, soft back book that is about 160 pages. It is broken into two parts. First is a discussion she titled “Dispelling Myths.” Part Two is titled simply “Practice.” With information from many experts interspersed with her own observations about how her children learn, there is much practical information.

Book cover 1

The purpose of Mrs. Polanco’s book is to encourage you to continue down the road of educational exploration and child-led learning. While I believe that much of what she does with her own children falls under the umbrella of unschooling, this is not the main thrust of her book. Following the lead of your children’s interesting and taking time to guide them in their learning is where her heart seems to be.

The first part of the book looks at what the Bible has to say about children, education, and parents. She also introduces the ideas of motivation, exploration, and how excellence relates to these ideas.

In the second part of the book, you will find age specific ideas about how to approach learning. There is a chapter about teaching children under age eight, teaching ages eight to twelve, and working with teens in their education and growth. There is information on different learning types, how to encourage them, and some ideas on how to get started. She has a chapter on questions and answers and one on structure and record keeping.

This second part include a lot of readily applicable practical ideas. Many of these are good thoughts to ponder and decide if they might work for you family. Regardless of whether they work for you or not, they have ideas worth considering. Each chapter also has study questions at the end that can help you formulate your own thoughts about the ideas in the chapter and gather them into a helpful structure.

MY THOUGHTS:

I did find that there are many very forceful statements in the book that can be discouraging if you did not choose the same path she did for her family. This can be very off-putting and I struggled to read the book. Not because there wasn’t good information but because Mrs. Polanco seemed to speak as though there were no other decent options that won’t harm children. I disagree; remember, there are all different ways to teach your children and every child needs something different. Take those statements at face value and move on. There is a lot of encouragement to be found in this book for the parent, reminding why you started the road and how to continue along it.

A SALE:

I received a note from Mrs. Polanco just a few days ago informing me that she is offering a sale on the purchase of this book until August 22, 2018. The cost of the book will be half-price until that date.

Blessings,
At Home.

A number of other ladies with a variety of learning styles in their homes have read this book in the past few weeks. I encourage you to go visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog and read what several of the other ladies thought of this book and find out what encouragement their received from it.

God-Schooling-by-Julie-Polanco-Reviews

3-Crew-Disclaimer-2016

Finding Mentors

Finding Mentors

I have been thinking a lot lately about who helps and encourages the girls. There are times when they need encouragement or guidance from someone other than me and At Home Dad.

Let’s face it – there are some things that I just don’t know about. So when I find those, I have tried to seek out others who do. Sometimes, though, those we have sought out just aren’t doing enough to encourage the girls. Sometimes, the girls become just another of the kids in the group being taught.

We are really blessed to have a sign language instructor for Miss E who not only knows about sign language and can guide her along a course of study that makes sense for her but strongly pushes her spiritual growth, too. She blesses us so much through her teaching and encouraging of Miss E.

The others, though? I have found myself wondering how to find instructors that really care about what the long term goals are. The dance school where they have attended for years is really a find place. But I find myself struggling to get answers to questions and seeing that they are not caring about Miss L’s long term goals. So maybe it is time to find a new dance school. That is daunting to me, to be honest. I really like where she has been but do want someone who cares to challenge her (and not just get more money from us out of it).

Miss J is a little young to have this same concern with but it does have me wondering about what she will need in the future.

How do you do it? How do you find someone who really, truly wants to encourage and challenge growth in your students?

Blessings,
At Home.

 

What Shapes Are Your Students?

I was going through boxes and materials today. Lots of them. (I have been so bless and now have two boxes to share with others!) In the process, I came across some notes from the first year we were home educating. We had attended a conference and I remember how much I enjoyed it and got out of it.

These notes really were a good timing kind of thing. I needed this reminder. Maybe you do, too. I wish I had written down who the speaker was so that I can give credit where credit is due. Unfortunately, I did not.

student personality shapes

This person listed five student personality types and they just resonate with me.

Square
Rectangle
Triangle
Circle
Squiggly Line

Square – This student is very task oriented. This student follows directions well and benefits from reflection time. Things that frustrate this type of student are imprecise instructions and changing directions.

Rectangle – This student is project oriented but benefits much from someone working with them. This student is frustrated by imprecise instructions or changing their directions.

Triangle – This student is goal oriented, wants to get things done quickly, and loves checks lists. I don’t have a specific list of what frustrates this type of personality but they love the spotlight and don’t like to have to prove their reasoning.

Circle – This student is your “people person.” They don’t like conflicts and they love to talk.  Things that frustrate this personality type include not being allowed or able to talk and being in isolation.

Squiggly Line – The squiggle personality is highly creative and loves to follow their ideas. They do not require completion of projects to feel highly accomplished and are high energy. They are frustrated by constraint, especially in their ideas, and when they absolutely must follow someone else’s directions.

I spent a bit of time today thinking about my girls and which type of personality each one is. I have a square, a circle, and one who is a fairly good combination of squiggly line and a triangle. No wonder I sometimes miss the mark of who needs what kind of a program to do their best learning.

As you embark on the next part of your learning journey, take a minute to think about the personality of your students. Recognizing some of what makes them frustrated and what helps them move forward allows you to better tailor their learning experience.

Reminding myself of this may perhaps make some of our choices more clear for this year.

Blessings,
At Home.

Parenting Made Practical ~ a Crew review

Being a parent is hard, so resources to help us along the way can be terribly beneficial. Parenting Made Practical strives to help parents raise their children well through materials such as the DVD and workbook combination  Dating, Courting & Choosing a Mate… What Works?

parenting made practical

Parenting Made Practical was created by Joey and Carla Link. The Links are parent educators who have worked for many years in various ministries and educational settings. Much of the material they have created and share have been developed because of needs that they saw and dealt with during the ministries, as well as how they handled the parenting of their own children, now grown. The goal of Parenting Made Practical is to “encourage, equip, and empower parents to raise obedient, respectful, and responsible children in today’s challenging world.” I love this goal! This is what every parent I know wants to do and the Links have set about helping parents the best ways they know how.

Dating, Courting & Choosing a Mate… What Works? is part of the Parent’s Night Out workshop that the Links present. It is presented here separate from the rest of the workshop and is directed both at parents and at teens/young adults old enough to be thinking about dating, in any form.

Dating, Courting & Choosing a Mate...What Works? DVD & Workbooks

The DVD and workbooks are set up in two sessions, each running approximately 50 minutes. The first session is titled Developing Your Dating Philosophy. The second session is titled How to Make It Work.

In Developing Your Dating Philosophy the Links present three different dating “philosophies” or ways of getting to know someone of the opposite gender. They share what they see as the pros and cons of each philosophy. After looking at Cultural Dating and Courtship Dating, the Links present Friendship Dating. This is, obviously, their preferred approach to dating. They spend quite a bit of time presenting the framework for how they approach this type of dating. They explain the four corners of growth and then define the levels of a relationship leading to marriage within each area. They also look at the areas of concern to address, and how the couple in the relationship take responsibility for growth in all of the areas.

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In How to Make It Work, the Links present ideas about how to approach Friendship Dating with young adults, and how to put this process into action. They review the four corners of growth and the levels of the relationship. Then they share possible goals for each area. This is the “practical application” part of the DVD and workbook. The Links walk parents and those in the relationship through setting up goals, putting a plan into place, and getting affirmation by parents.

Due to the background of the Links, I expected there to be a much more direct biblical approach and application to this workshop. I was disappointed that the biblical direction was not very strong.

As parents, we had really looked forward to this DVD, hoping that it would give us more practical information on how to develop a philosophy on guy/girl relationships before our oldest daughter reaches the age at which she wants to talk about it. The session about Developing Your Dating Philosophy did not actually guide us in developing a philosophy. Rather it was expected that you would adopt the one presented on Friendship Dating. We did not feel that there were any fresh, new ideas presented here and the guidance for parents to create their own philosophy was missing.

This DVD did not resonate with us and seems very difficult to implement. It is not realistic to expect a couple to begin their relationship by mapping out a series of goals and lists, ignoring emotion and feeling. When there are so many lists to check and goals to meet, the human element and emotion is missing. Yet that is what drives deep and meaningful relationships. Why would we choose to hide this part of God’s plan?

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If you choose to purchase this, be aware that it takes some work to use the workbook alongside the DVD. There are paragraphs of additional information shared in the workbook, which is good, but makes it difficult to follow. Not all of the important ideas from the video are shared in the workbook and they flash on the screen fast. The workbook is a useful resource and could be used without the DVD, though it doesn’t appear to be sold that way.

The video quality of the DVD is very good. The lighting, video quality, and camera angles were well done. However, the sound quality was disruptive. There were significant variations in the voice levels and I had to constantly turn the volume up and down, depending on who was speaking. I normally listen to things with our volume level at 15. I had to turn Mrs. Link up to 35 most of the time but immediately turn it back down when Mr. Link began speaking. Addressing this would definitely help make the DVD a much more pleasant workshop to view.

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This could be a good program for parents who are confused about what they want to present to their children about dating. The examples on types of dating and the issues/concerns about them are helpful. There are good examples of how to deal with questions children may have and ideas of how to guide students as they grow into the area of wanting to spend more time with someone of the opposite gender.

In closing out this review, I want to share a thought that has stuck with me since I watched the DVD. I think it is a highlight of their video, though it really doesn’t have anything to do with dating philosophies.

If a teen doesn’t trust parents for help in guy/girl relationships, the bigger question is this – will they trust God?

Blessings,
At Home.

The Homeschool Review Crew was able to review several different materials from Parenting Made PracticalPlease take a look at some of their other materials, as well as find other families who looked at the DVD  Dating, Courting & Choosing a Mate… What Works?. The other programs reviewed include:
Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think (book)

Why Can’t I Get My Kids to Behave (book)

Navigating the Rapids of Parenting (video)

Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think (Video) 

What Every Child Should Know Along the Way (book)

Click the banner below to read more reviews.

 

Parenting Made Practical {Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Safe Place

The other day, my heart broke. As we were leaving violin class, a little boy, about 4, came sobbing, screaming, running down the stairs, flying past us. I waited a second before I moved so I could get out of the way of the adult that would obviously come chasing him. That didn’t happen but another adult that I knew came through the door at the top of the stairs with questions in her eye. I knew I needed to follow him. So I did, my heart breaking.

I flew down the stairs after him, fearful of what he was running from, but knowing he needed someone to help him. As I got to the hallway at the bottom of the stairs and turned to follow him, a woman stepped out of a classroom with terror on her face. Her little boy was screaming and running. She stepped out to meet him and console him and let him know he was okay.

Safe Place

I don’t need to tell you just how thankful I am that he found his mother, that he wasn’t running from any physical thing that was threatening him. It has brought two thoughts to mind though.

1 – For that sweet mama – He is safe and you are okay. That choice to leave him turned out okay in the end so don’t berate yourself any more. I could see you shielding your face as you climbed the stairs with your boys. I could see you avoiding eye contact and trying to not have to face anyone. I wish I could have reached out to you, to calm your fears of what others were thinking.  We are all so very grateful that he was fine and he knew where to find you. No one is judging you. No one thinks you are a bad mom. And I wish I had had a way to reach out to you. I could see the pain on your face as you held his hand and walked with him to your car. I could see the love written there, too, and the relief. You are a good mama and your children, they are special gifts. We are thankful that you love them and they are with you tonight.

And

2 – Do I run to my parent the same way that little boy did? He knew where his safe place was, even when he was no longer in sight of that safe place. His mama may have been out of his sight but he KNEW. And when he got frightened, scared, and worried, he took off just as fast as his little legs could carry him, running to the one who would make everything right.

Do I run to God like that when I make a mistake? When I am frightened or scared? When I can no longer see “my safe place?” Do you?

God tells us in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

He tells us to come to Him. To give Him our burdens, our weariness. When we do this, he gives us rest. This is the only rest that really matters. It is not rest that can be gained overnight in a comfy bed. This is the relief of the bone-deep weariness and burdens that plague life on earth. God asks us to come to him, come running, sobbing, frightened, scared. Come however you are. He will give you rest.

He also tells us about the son who has turned from the father’s way and was lost to him. In Luke 15:11-32, we find the story that many of us call the “Prodigal Son.” This son left the ways of the father, took all his “birthright” money, and turned his back on his dad, his family. But after hardship and trial came his way, this young man realized just how much love can carry you through and what he had actually abandoned. He ran home, throwing himself down at his father’s feet, and asking forgiveness.

He ran to the one who he KNEW, without a doubt, would reclaim him, would care for him and not throw him out again. But even better was the whole-hearted acceptance he received. His father did not just receive him; he embraced his son. His father cared for him better than the son ever imagined he would.

The son knew where his safe place was and he ran to it.

I need to run back to God, to find my safe place within his arms. And I know he will accept me, again. He tells us that. (Acts 2:38, Acts 13:38)

I am blessed to have a God who loves me so much that he provided a way for me to come back to him.

Blessings,
At Home.

By The Way Book Series (Colorado) ~ a Crew review

colorado-by-the-way-review

By the Way Book Series is not new to us but we were still really excited to get to read and review one of their newest books: Colorado ~ By the Way.

By The Way came about due to a sad statistical fact. The author, Joy Budensiek, was sitting in church when she heard the statistic that 19 out of 20 Christian families are not talking about God in their day-to-day lives, noticing Him and His work in all that surrounds them and the things they do. This shocking statistic jolted her into creating a series of books that models for parents not only how to see God and His majesty in creation but how to then discuss that and talk about that with their children. Mrs. Budensiek has a goal of 100 books to help facilitate ideas and examples for parents.

Nature Books With A Biblical Worldview {By the Way Book Series }

Colorado ~ By the Way is a story that brings us tidbits of the history of the state of Colorado, mixed in with a lot of geography, science, animal observation, and God’s scripture.

Meet Alex and Lexi. These two young folks are getting to spend a week with a friend, Jose, in Colorado (they met this friend in the book Washington ~ Here We Come!, which our family has also had the pleasure of reading). Jose’s family owns a ranch and is more than happy to help Alex and Lexi learn all that can about the state of Colorado while they are visiting. From the varied landscapes (mountains, sand dunes, and the Royal Gorge) to the many different animals (wild horses, cougars, cutthroat trout, big horn sheep, beavers, and more), Alex and Lexi get to experience wonder after wonder.

great-read-aloud

As fantastic as all this is, one of the best parts of the story is the many ways in which Jose’s parents, as well as the others around them, model for Alex and Lexi how to see God. From noting the wonder of God creating a way for fresh water to be kept close to animals that need it (thanks to the beaver building dams) to the marvelous ways God protects His creations (such as clothing the snowshoe hare white for winter and brown for summer), everyday things are seen through the lens of the amazing ways God shows His handiwork.

Other ways in which God is taught through the Colorado book includes the discussion about some of the first churches founded in Denver and the beautiful chapel at the United States Air Force Academy. With a discussion of the Continental Divide, the effects of choices upon our character is taught. In talking about the juniper tree, the beauty of everything God makes is discussed. Scripture references are found often throughout the book, as well.

Our family has used this book in two different ways. I have read it aloud with Miss J, who just turned 8. She could have probably read it by herself but in my reading it aloud with her, we were able to stop and discuss some of the points that are made in the book. We were able to talk about the different ways we see God around us and apply the things from the book to our daily lives. Also, the print is fairly small and some pages have two columns that start at different heights on the page. These would have made for some possible confusion in where and how to read the story.

miss-j-reading-by-the-way

Miss L, age 10, grabbed the book the minute it arrived and sat down with it. She read it straight through and came to me to tell me about what she had read. We talked about things that she found interesting. She then asked if she could do a notebooking project to go along with it. She chose 10 of the animals from the book and wrote about them in some notebooking pages that we printed off. She was thrilled with the information she found in the book and was very pleased with the outcome of her project.

animal-notebooking-page

The book will be a jumping off point for additional activities, I think. I would like to have the girls read a book about one of the historical people mentioned, as there is not a whole lot of information about them. I also think it would be fun to do some additional reading or website visiting about some of the landscapes and destinations visited in the book. These are just a couple of examples of how easily this series can be expanded into additional learning.

But, truly, the best feature is how simply and easily the By the Way Book Series incorporates the discussion of God and His might into every day lives and activities. What a great model for us all.

At Home.

Check out all of the By the Way Book Series being reviewed by families of the Homeschool Review Crew:
Florida’s Treasure Coast ~ Here We Come!
Smoky Mountains ~ Here We Come!
Pennsylvania ~ Here We Come!
Ohio ~ Here We Come!
Washington ~ Here We Come!
Colorado ~ By the Way

Nature Books With A Biblical Worldview {By the Way Book Series Reviews}Crew Disclaimer 

The End or the Beginning?

printable-pages-for-2016-and-2017

An end and a beginning. Which do you see?

As the end of 2016 very quickly approaches, I see just that. An end. Finality. The finish line. But is it really? No. So, I find myself wondering.

– what did we do right?
– what did we succeed in?
– what did we make better?
– where did we grow?
– where do we need to do better?
– where do changes need to be made?
– where did we fall down?
– where did we fail?

The end of the year is a natural time for reflection and re-evaluation. But, did you notice that all of these statements have a “we” in them? There is a reason for that. I think of our family as a unit. We are a family and we look to help each other.

Still, what I do well affects others. What I fail at also affects them. So we are moving through this journey together. And when I evaluate and do better at my part in these things, I make our family stronger.

The end is clearly marked by the calendar but what if we took a new approach and looked at it solely as the beginning? This is my beginning. I am beginning a new set of goals. I am beginning a new year. A new outlook. An ending is often a sad time but beginnings are seen as opportunity. So take this new beginning as an opportunity for whatever it is you desire. And write those goals, or desires, down.

I tend to be very visual so I created these two little worksheets to help me think through the good, the bad, the ugly and to plan for where I can do better. I am going to post these in my notebook that I am beginning for Bible time/prayer time so that I see them often through the year and hopefully, it will help me. Remind me. Get me back on track when I wander. And help keep me accountable.

2016 In Review

2017 Goals

I am also tying the 2017 goals into my “one word” for the year – CRAVE. I will share more on that word next week, as I am still trying to work through all the ways I want to apply this in the next year.

Please print these and use them as you can see them benefitting you and your students or family. Please share, as well. All I ask is for you to link back to this page if you share them. Thank you!

At Home.

the-homeschool-review-crew-reflect-on-2016

Linking this post up with the Homeschool Review Crew bloggers’ Reflecting on 2016 linkup.

 

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