Encouraging Independent Learning

https://www.fatiguescience.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Working-Schedule.pngWe are on our fourth year of homeschooling three children. It has been a wild ride and a constantly changing environment. I am often reminded that one of the greatest benefits of home e ducating is the ability to be more fluid with our environment, making changes as needed.

As Bookworm Beauty continues to creep towards high school, I have recognized the value of encouraging more independent learning. It only makes sense. Her educational needs are growing and are vastly different from the two younger elementary siblings. We have tried a few different ways of managing the independent learning and have finally settled on a system that is working well for us all.

As she has become more self-sufficient with her education, Sweetness (3rd grade) has shown great interest in taking control of hers as well. I resisted a little at first and then remembered why we homeschool. We want our children to grow up self-sufficient, able to learn and master new things, and be responsible for themselves. Certainly, her interest was in alignment with all of those reasons, so we gave it a try. I am thrilled to report that they are both moving into a more independent role with their studies and it has given me more freedom to work one on one with The Boy (2nd grade).

How We Do It

We started with a simple week in view calendar. We needed one with ample space to account for a full day. A month in view provided too little space for writing down important activities, lessons, appointments, etc. A day in view calendar provided too much space and took away the ability to see the bigger picture, such as the weekly activities. The week in view was perfect. It allowed space for each day as well as a built in area for tasks.

We sit down at the beginning of the week and go over the activities for the weeks. The girls take our their calendar and list their basketball games, practices, church activities, scheduled play dates or overnighters, as well as any other commitments. Once those are in place, they are able to see what time they would need to get up for that particular day (each has an alarm clock so that mom doesn’t need to be one). That time is written in the first line of the day. This alone has been a wonderful tool for building responsibility! Every night they are able to look at their calendar and set their alarm accordingly. They are also able to see if they need to do anything else to be prepared for the following day such as lay out their clothes.

The next step is to list their lessons for the week in the tasks section. For example, Sweetness wrote Math- 23a, 23b, 23c, 3’s, 4’s. She needs to complete three pages in her math text, take her 3’s multiplication facts test and begin working on her 4’s. They listed expectations for all of their classes as well as 4H, music practice, etc.

Each day the girls are able to look at their day and see where they have time available for completing their schoolwork. They decide what they want to work on first and write it into the day, in real time, as they are completing it. Once it is completed, they go over to the task area and cross that particular assignment off.

I can not possibly share how liberating this system is for us in our home! At any time, I can open one of their calendars and see exactly what they have done and what still remains for the week. This is helpful when they get an unexpected invite to go with a friend somewhere. I am able to see if they have completed enough of their lessons before giving them permission to go. More often than not, they have completed all of their assignments before the week is up, which is a wonderful blessing and gives them the ability to enjoy the fruits of the labor… rest or free time to do what they enjoy the most!

 

Flexible Homeschooling

I will start with a confession today. I am, by nature, a flexible person. I can devote many words to dress it up and talk about the benefits of being flexible and random, but if I am transparent I would have to admit that I do what I can to avoid structure. Some times I will go through great lengths to avoid any resemblance of structure in my life and other times I embrace it, knowing that it increases my productivity and gives me peace of mind.

Although we approach homeschooling welcoming of structure, there is still a part of me that craves flexibility and the ability to be random. SchoolhouseTeachers.com satisfies that desire! To start, the site is constantly improving. Beyond that, it is easy to navigate, affordable and offers a tremendous smorgasbord of courses to fill in virtually all need and any gaps.

We have utilized SchoolhouseTeachers.com for more than two years and frequently revisit it to find additional courses. Currently, Bookworm Beauty (7th grade) chose to take advantage of a break in our current history course and filled her time with Fashions in History, an 11 week course focusing on women and children’s fashions from the 18th century through 1910. I have to admit, I was hesitant at first, thinking that fashion studies could not possibly be history worthy, but I was open to it. I spent some time looking it over and realized that this curriculum was perfect for her. She was eager and excited to complete it (which should be reason enough) but it also covered many of the events in the time period and how those events affected the fashion changes, among other things. We went ahead and she is loving it.

If you are looking for a supplement, an occasional fill-in-the-time course or a course to meet a current need, take a new look at SchoolhouseTeachers.com, it will not disappoint!

Read what others have to say about SchoolhouseTeachers.com here.

Witnessing the Active Presence of the Lord ~ Part 2

The Journal

In a recent post, I wrote about my desire to share the reality of God’s active presence with a few people that are dear to me. After spending much time reflecting on His presence in my life over the years, there was no doubt of it’s value and how it strengthened my faith, even in the most difficult times. I wanted to be able to share with them the knowledge, the experience, and the treasure of the Lord’s presence. I did not know how to do it at first, so instead, I did what any other God fearing christian does when they just do not know how to do something, I prayed.

It was then, as I prayed, that I had a vision. It may have been a divine vision from the Lord Himself, it may have been my own mind fashioning a solution to my plight. Ultimately, it does not matter, the vision was perfect. I was going to keep a journal, not for me, for them. It was to go beyond that though, I am to give them the gift of my time spent in prayer for them and then keep record of the whole journey. Over time, the journal will be gifted back as a written testament of His active presence in their life, witnessed and recorded by me.

My early thoughts focused on the treasure that such a gift would have been for me in my younger years, before I began walking with the Lord. The knowledge of someone committing their time to pray for me specifically, would have been gift enough, but the beautiful documentation of the evidence of His presence in my life, actively, would have been simply indescribable. Wow! Can you just imagine with me for a second what it would be like to read the historical details of answered prayers, needs being met, healing taking place, and even the little things like the Lord showing His great love for me over the simplest of things? Beautiful.

As I prayed about this gift, I realized that I was being boldly confident that God will answer prayers and meet the needs of these people that I will be bringing before Him. Now, to be clear, I am not talking about a name-it-and-claim-it journey, I am talking about genuinely praying for His will in their lives. I knew that I knew that He would show up and that He desperately loves and cares for them and it is His desire to make that known to each one of them. I needed to do my part, the rest I get to leave up to Him.

Now for the nitty gritty. Although the whole idea seemed to fall into place on it’s own, the process of bringing it to fruition left some details that would need to be figured out. I did not want this to be a surprise of sorts for these individuals that I was committing to prayer. I wanted each of them to know about the gift and also that I would be taking this journey. To me this important because it would allow the opportunity for them to be more cognizant of His active presence in their life during the journey, not just as a review through the written testament of it later. Another important detail was that I wanted their participation. Simply put, I needed them to be on this journey with me. I was going to need to be kept abreast of their daily lives to know how best to pray for them on an on-going basis and to also be able to witness how and when the Lord would show up for them. I decided to purchase a basic journal for each of them. I really wanted to create a special journal for this historical document, as I believe it would become priceless for them at some point, but I just did not have the time or the resources to make that happen before Christmas when I was going to give them the gift.

Once I purchased the journals, I spent much time in prayer over each individual recipient. I decided to write a letter and I wanted it to be personal. I think this was an important step, one not to be overlooked. I then took the time to write the individual letters right on the first pages of the journal itself. It was there that I explained the gift. I also expressed my love for them and my desire for them to witness just how valuable they are to our Heavenly Father. Each letter was as unique as each individual receiving the gift. At first, I wanted to write the same things, however the Lord led me differently, reminding me that His plans are different for each of them. There is no one-size-fits-all with His active presence in our lives, except in the matter of the gift of salvation.

On the pages following my personal letter were some leading questions for them to answer. I wanted a starting point for my prayers. I also wanted to get a glimpse at where their hearts are at and where God may decide to move. I figured that although the questions asked were the same in each journal, the nature of a leading question is that each will identify their own genuine need. I asked them (in the letter) to complete these pages, letting them know that can be as detailed or general as they want. The did not have to share details if they did not feel comfortable doing so, besides God already knows every minute detail of their life!

An example of some of the questions I wrote are as follows, each were written on the top of their own page, allowing enough room for their hearts to be shared.

I do/do not feel close to God because… If I could ask God for a miracle, it would be… I need physical healing in… The thing that worries me the most is… I wish I could… If only God would… I am scared that… I feel… I really feel like I need… If I could ask God for another miracle, it would be… If I could ask God a question, it would be… I feel happiest when… My heart has many broken pieces, some are from…

After the question pages I wrote at the top of the following page *Please write me a letter.* Then I started it for them…  Dear Nancy,* I was hoping that with the opportunity for them to write me a letter I would get a chance to hear some of their heart about the whole journey.

The final instruction was for the journal to be returned to me so that I can start to pray individually and specifically. My final remarks to them were that their life was about to change!

This is an exciting journey to be on! I know that many people desire to pray for others and diligently do so. Many Christians that I know had someone praying for them long before they accepted the Lord (for me, it was my grandmother). I am often reminded that we simply forget many of the finer details of our lives that are not documented. Occasionally, we will look at old photos and see snapshots of our own personal history and I find myself exclaiming, “I forgot about that!” Without the picture to trigger my memory, that memory could have nearly vanished. If you are taking the time to pray specifically for someone, especially someone that does not recognize the Lord’s active presence in their life, consider taking this journey with me! At the very least, take the time to write down many of your prayers and the answers. It is powerful to be able to remind someone how He has been right there with them all along. At some point, I will share some of my testimony of how the Lord was actively present in my life, long before I accepted Him.

Be blessed! Change someone’s life… pray for them!

 

Stories of the Lord’s Active Presence – The Cradle

The Cradle

After walking with the Lord for over 25 years, I am able to look back upon many moments where it is absolutely clear to me that the Lord was right there with me. I have been asked throughout the years the reason for my faith. It is these very stories of His active presence in my life that gives me strength for the faith that I fervently hold on to.

As I begin to share my current journey of witnessing His active presence with you, I will also share stories, glimpses of that presence. Some of these stories will be my own, some will be stories shared by others, all will be true events. If you have a story to share, comment below or send me an email at nancy@homeschoolonpurpose.com. I would love to hear your stories and share them with your permission. I think that we often forget how valuable these stories of God’s active presence are in another person’s seeking of the truth or strengthening of their own faith.

I have many memories of God’s direct provision, protection and presence but it is the small stories that touch my heart the most. I think that is because I think of my own life as a mother and how I meet the needs of my children and provide protection for them. I do this absentmindedly – although purposefully – it is something that needs to be done, because I am their mother and that is what a mother does. However, when I want to really bless my children, I do something special just for them. I listen, I pay attention and I discover what it is that my children desires. Sometimes it is something big, sometimes it is simple, sometimes almost trivial, yet every time my child beams because I paid attention and gave them something that they desired. There is just something about being blessed with a simple heart’s desire.

Today, I share one of my favorite stories.

When I was pregnant with my third child, with only weeks left before her arrival, I had an amazing experience that humbled me as I literally felt the Lord’s arms wrapped around me. We had just moved to a new apartment in Jacksonville, Florida. We knew no one other than two nearby young mothers that we met in the apartment complex. It was a new city, a new apartment and a whole new adventure.

I was busy unpacking our boxes, attempting to make our apartment a home. Like many young families, we did not have much in the way of possessions. We were driving or limping around in a twenty plus year old Dodge Maxi Van. We did not go out much. We often worried about whether or not we would even have electricity the following month. Simply put, we were struggling, barely getting by with each passing day. Despite our struggles, I clung to the knowledge of God’s presence and provision. I knew that I had nothing to worry about because it was Him that sustained us.

As I set up the girls’ bedroom, I found myself with a decision to make. We had a twin sized bed for our soon-to-be four year old and a toddler bed for the nearly two year old. Setting up the toddler bed would require the use of the crib mattress, leaving the coming baby without a bed of her own. Although, It was a seemingly easy decision to make, I still cringed about the fact that I would need another crib mattress for the crib, as well as a place to set it up in our already busting-at-the-seams tiny apartment.

I have lost specific details of the timing of these events over the years. I can not recall if it happened the same day or days later, but I can still hear the knock on the door. Keep in mind, we knew no one other than the two neighbor ladies, which both happened to be there at that moment. As it occurred to me that someone was at the door, I remember wondering who it could possibly be as my only two friends were there with me. I opened the door to a stranger, a woman who introduced herself as my upstairs neighbor’s mother. The conversation was short.

“Hi, my daughter lives upstairs and is going through some of her things. We were wondering if you would be interested in a cradle for your baby?”

“Of course… yes!”

Moments later she was back at the door with the exact cradle that I had wanted, coveted even, over the last few years with my previous two babies. Had I had the opportunity, I would have already owned that same cradle, but a cradle is not a necessity. It is a short-term baby item that would have been an unnecessary use of money. It was a white cradle with round lathed spindles and hung on a base that made it a perfect height and size to be close by our bed.

Also distinct in my memories, forever engraved, is the love I felt as I witnessed the Lord’s active presence in my life. He was already meeting all our needs, and here He was giving me a precious gift, one of my heart’s desires. I knew that no one else knew that I wanted a cradle, exactly like the one I received, certainly not the neighbor upstairs whom I had not before met! No one, but the Lord Himself knew the desire of my heart.

This memory was one of the first times that I remember experiencing the Lord caring about every tiny little detail in our lives. It brought to life for me Matthew 7:9-11 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” It was a request of my heart, not even something that I had ever asked the Lord for, yet He knew me. He knew what I wanted and He blessed me.

What an awesome God we serve!

This story alone is enough for my faith to be strengthened. I know many that would think it a coincidence. What is not a coincidence is the fact that this is just one example of many many examples of the Lord’s active presence in my life over the years. Compile them all together and the only explanation is clearly God Himself, loving me just as His inerrant Word says that He does.