Friday, April 27, 2012

Is Homeschooling a Biblical Command?

Is homeschooling a Biblical command?  My best short answer to this question?  No.  But, is there strong Biblical support for Bible-centered homeschooling?  Yes.  Obviously, this is a complicated issue, and one I have been asked recently, so I am going to do my best to attempt to answer it.
When I first began homeschooling Isaac as a preschooler in 2008, I can't say I necessarily felt "called" to homeschool.  I also didn't think it would be a sin for me to send him to public or private school (I still don't).  But, fast forward four years, and I can undoubtedly say that God has blessed me in my decision to homeschool a thousand times over.  The blessing comes not only in academic results that I see regularly, but in the relationship I have with my boys, and the path of learning God's Word and developing a Biblical worldview that they are on.  Believe me, there are days that are challenging beyond what I think I can handle.  But, those are also days I see God's Blessing in my decision to homeschool my children.  It is in my weakness that He can become stronger.  This isn't just a Christian platitude...I have seen it's application over and over in my daily life.  Just when I think I don't have the strength to do it anymore, God meets me at the point of my greatest need, and I can go on. 
I'm not one of those homeschoolers that can make a blanket statement that every Christian parent needs to homeschool their children.  There is strong evidence that it is effective in academic pursuits and in helping our children keep a Biblical worldview and have a relationship with God as adults.  There is an overwhelming amount of children, raised in Christian homes and going to public school that end up leaving the faith of their family in adulthood.  That statistic drops way down when the child has been homeschooled.  Do I believe that children can be salt and light in the public school system?  Yes, I firmly believe that.  It happened with me.  Because my faith was challenged in many ways throughout my public school education, I believe it made me a stronger Christian.  I had to know why I believed what I believed so that I could defend myself.  My faith became much more watered-down when I went to college at a Christian school.  I was a child that needed opposition to develop my faith.  My kids could be those type of children as well, but I am not willing to take the risk.
So, I have already stated that I believe God has blessed my decision to homeschool, He walks the path with me, and the empirical evidence strongly supports homeschooling as being academically and spiritually positive for my children.  But, is there an actual verse that one might cite as giving grounds for homeschooling?  Most in the homeschooling community would cite Deuteronomy 11:14-20
"Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."  Teaching your children is a command given by the Lord in this verse.  And, because of it's constancy (when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, and when you lie down and when you get up), it can be practically applied to a homeschooling situation.  I have much more time with my children than if I were to send them away to school.  Are we constantly meditating on scripture?  No, but I do try to incorporate a Biblical worldview into many parts of our day.  I want the Bible to be so ingrained in them by the time they leave my nest, that living it is as natural as breathing.  There are no guarantees that my children will be the brightest and most spiritually sound people when they are ready to venture into adulthood, but I want to give them the best chance possible to achieve this. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Salt Dough Map

We are officially done with our tour across the United States!  We finished out the year by making a salt dough map of the United States.  We painted in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, and added Mount St. Helens and Mt. Kilauea and the two major mountain ranges in the US.

It is so nice to be dropping subjects throughout the last weeks of school before summer starts!  We are done with spelling, US Geography and Language arts for the year.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Picnic and Spring Scavenger Hunt

 The weather was SO nice here today, we decided to go for a picnic at the park and do a Spring Scavenger Hunt.  Graham was super excited about the whole thing.  It makes me sad to think about the day when a super-hero lunch bag and a picnic at the park won't make him ecstatically happy.  Oh, and that's his little canteen his grandma bought him at a garage sale a few days ago.  It has been fixed to his body since he got it.
This guy came along for the ride.  He wasn't ecstatic about the whole thing actually.  And that's the nasty scratch he got from his fingernails last night. (Note to self: trim baby's nails.)
This is us enjoying our picnic...

 We had to find Spring-ish things like an earthworm, something warmed by the sun, some mud, etc.
First and second place participants received a beautiful rubber light-up ring. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Five in a Row: Very Last First Time & Volcano fun

We just completed our FIAR "Very Last First Time." This is a charming and suspenseful story of a little Inuit girl from the Ungava bay area in Northern Canada. As part of Inuit tradition, she goes alone to collect mussels at the bottom of the sea, under the ice, when the tide goes out. We did a little research and found out this is something that the Inuit people still do. We found the above video about the dangers of mussel hunting.
Click here to find out more.
Here are some of the other activities we did in our row:
*Discussed Inuit culture and the Arctic region. We found Ungava bay on the world map. We went through the illustrations in the book and compared and contrasted Inuit culture to our own.
*We looked at the illustrations of the book, and identified that they were drawn using the method of pointillism (made up of hudreds of tiny dots of paint.) I had remembered Isaac's aunt Holly drawing a picture for art class using the same method, so I asked her to send me a picture of it so I could show Isaac.

*We talked about safety and crisis thinking. When Eva goes below the surface of the frozen ocean, her candles burn out, and she hears the tide coming back in. For a moment, she panics until she remembers what to do. We talked about the five steps to remember when in a crisis situation: (1) calm down, (2) don't panic, (3) be quiet, (4) think carefully! (5) ask: what am I supposed to do?
*We identified the following scientific terms and discussed their application to the story: Tides, Biome, Echo, Ocean Life and Sea Salt. We looked through some books with pictures of an arctic biome and an ocean biome.
For Road Trip USA, we are in the state of Washington. We talked at length about the eruption of Mount St. Helens, and of course, we had to make our own volcano. We've done this before, but we added a few elements this time. We made our volcano out of dirt. In the center, we placed a plastic cup holding baking soda, dish soap and food coloring. We added vinegar and let the explosion begin!
Before eruption


Full eruption!

We are winding down for the year! I estimate we will be done with all of our subjects by May 24th. Isaac and Graham have worked especially hard this year and I am SO proud of them!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Road Trip USA: Hawaii

We've enjoyed our trip through the United States this year for geography. We have "visited" almost all of the states and are winding down our journey. Isaac is familiar with all of the regions (Southeast, Northeast, Midwest, West and Southwest) of the United States, as well as all of the capitals of each state. We learned about each state's state bird, state flag and state flower, as well as anything about the state that makes it unique. If I were to re-use this curriculum (which I probably will), I would put more effort into doing fun stuff like our "Luau" we had for supper the other night. In a few months, Isaac might not remember some of the other states we studied, but he WILL remember our Luau night!

I was going to go all-out and have ham and Dole Pineapple for supper, but because this mama had a VERY long day, and because my van drove precariously close to our favorite Chinese take-out place while we were running errands, we ended up having a Hawaain Luau with Chinese food. :) Oh well. Sweet and Sour chicken is sort of Hawaain-ish, isn't it?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Papa Piccolo and the Peabody

We just finished our FIAR "Papa Piccolo" last week. "Papa Piccolo" is the story of a tomcat who adopts two orphan kittens. The story is set in Italy, and the illustrations are done with watercolor. As part of our row, Isaac experimented with his watercolors to come up with some of the variations in color that are illustrated in the book. It was fun to see the different ranges of colors like turquoise blue or brick red he could come up with!

Isaac took the Peabody last week as well. The Peabody is a standardized test that measures proficiency in several areas of academics such as mathematics, spelling and reading. Isaac did tremendously well. He measured at a third or fourth grade level for every category. His areas of strength were reading and spelling. (Not a surprise to his mama that I have one smart cookie on my hands!) Although we weren't required to take the test, I wanted him to take it to make sure we were on the right track academically.