This week in Raising Arrows we are talking about homeschooling with littles underfoot. Before we could jump into the practical side of thoughts and ideas on how to pull off the day to day tasks with littles, first we must address our hearts.
It’s not hard to look out in our culture and find someone speaking demeaningly about children, memes on facebook that complain about them, abort them if it isn’t a convenient time for you to have a child, or put them in day care if staying home with them is too much for you. We won’t even get started on the view the world has on stay at home moms and then add to that homeschool moms - right?!? These views in culture can permeate the church too. We’ve been to churches where there were signs on the sanctuary doors saying “no children in the sanctuary” or heard a pastor ask an usher to escort the crying baby out of the sanctuary. Children are not looked at as a blessing, a joy, or a gift in todays culture.
It’s hard not to allow the blaring noise of the world to seep into our minds as well. In the day in day out thankless job of motherhood it can be hard to keep the right perspective. So let me remind you of a few things.
Behold children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior so are the children of your youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.
Children are a reward a gift from the Lord and the big word in these verses is HAPPY!!! When we focus not on the endless tasks that come along with feedings, changing diapers, and all the work entailed to us with little children but instead view these children through the eyes of the Lord and remember these babies are a daily gift and reminder of the goodness of the Lord. We should find so much joy and delight in our children.
I love this quote from Gloria Furman “When I view motherhood not as a gift from God to make me holy but rather as a role with tasks that get in my way, I am missing out on one of God’s ordained means of spiritual growth in my life. Not only that, but I’m missing out on enjoying God.”
We are the ones missing out on the joy and gift of our children when we allow the lies of the world to change our view of our children. We must take our thoughts captive. Colossians 2:8 says See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, According to the traditions of men rather than according to Christ. Mama’s this verse is for us - we have to test our thoughts about our children through scripture. We want our children to see us find joy in them and really in the Lord.
So the rest of this week we will talk about all the practical but today we need to make sure our hearts are in the right place with the Lord.
Looking forward to talking about our littles more this week. Love you all!
On our Raising Arrows Facebook Page we are talking about The Homeschool Marriage this week. Each day we will post a video on a topic within our marriage. I'll post the videos on this blog post so if you miss any they will be in one convenient location to find.
There will be many more posts and conversations happening on the Raising Arrows Facebook page. If you aren't part of our group CLICK HERE to join the group!
Video 1 is the introduction video
The Homeschool Marriage Video 2 - Encouragement
The Homeschool Marriage Day 3 - Teamwork
The Homeschool Marriage Day 4 - Serving Each Other
The Homeschool Marriage Day 5 - Priorities
The Homeschool Marriage Day 6 - Homeschooling
Happy 2020! I can't believe we are here and celebrating 2020 - it feels like it wasn't that long ago we were celebrating 2000?!? Ok, maybe that was a long time ago - but still!
We are excited to be launching into a new year here on Raising Arrows and have some great things planned for this year, I want to make sure you don't miss out!
First, we are beyond excited to let you know we are partnering with The Homeschool Summit to bring you some of our favorite past speaker sessions. Each month we will post on the Raising Arrows website the new speaker of the month.
January's speaker of the month is Voddie Baucham and his session is on Homeschooling with Your Grandchildren in Mind. This is a great session that we loved and learned a lot from. We hope you will take the 50 minutes to sit, watch, learn and enjoy this session as much as we did!
Click HERE to watch the Speaker of the Month Session
Theme weeks are coming back on our Facebook Page each month and we are thrilled with the content planned this year. January's theme will be on The Homeschool Marriage and it will be starting on January 19th on our Raising Arrows Facebook Community Group. If you have not joined the Raising Arrows Facebook group CLICK HERE to join.
We have some giveaways and other great conversations happening on the Facebook page this month too so be sure to join in the conversation! Praying your new year and homeschooling starting back up will be successful this month. Grateful for all our Raising Arrows families who are striving to keep Christ at the center of their home and homeschool. It's a joy to walk this journey with you. As always we are here for prayer and encouragement if you need anything.
In His Love
Ben and Jenny
CLEP Testing is a great option for homeschool families with teenagers who are wanting to earn college credits while in high school and at a cost that is much less than a college course.
What is a CLEP Exams?
Great question. CLEP stands for College Level Examination Program. CLEP exams are made by the same company who makes the SAT tests and these exams are accepted at most colleges, in fact more than 2,900 colleges accept CLEP Exams now. There are currently 34 CLEP exams ranging in subjects of Science and Math, Business, History and Social Science, Composition and Literature, and World Languages. There are several tests in each of these categories. Each CLEP exam taken and passed earns you those college credits for that class. Tests are a Pass/Fail grade. You must take the test at CLEP certified location (there are many locations throughout the United States where you can take these exams - most local colleges are set up for CLEP Exams) Tests are multiple choice and taken on a computer. Each Exam is $89 if you fail you must pay to take the exam again.
Why would a homeschooler want to take CLEP Exams?
Taking CLEP exams can be a way to get many of your undergraduate classes for college finished before stepping foot on a college campus. Rather than your student walking into college as a freshman they can start as a junior having spent a fraction of the cost of 2 years of college.
Or if you have a child who doesn't know what they want to do when they get to college taking a year off to just take CLEP Exams gives them a chance to figure it out without spending thousands of dollars on college.
There are also several online colleges that accept a large amount of CLEP exams and with just a few online classes at their college you can earn a Liberal Arts degree all done through CLEP exams, and again at a fraction of the cost!
How can you use CLEP Exams in your homeschool?
In our family we have used CLEP Exams as the "final" at the end of the school year. When my oldest finished both Algebra 1 & 2 she did some extra study on Study.com to prepare for the College Algebra CLEP Exam and then went and passed the CLEP Exam. This Exam counts as college credit and when she goes to college this fall she will not have to take a College Algebra class because she has already earned these credits. As our children finish classes (American History, Biology, and American Lit) they will prepare for the CLEP Exams and then take these tests.
How can I learn more information on CLEP Exams?
I've compiled some of the most informative resources I can find on CLEP Exams and have linked them below.
Over on our Facebook page we opened up some Q & A’s. We are answering each of these questions in a recorded post, but I thought it would be worth writing up each of these questions in a blog post too! If you haven’t joined our Facebook page yet Click Here to join. We would love to have you come be apart of the conversation and community!
Several people brought up questions about homeschooling big kids when the littles are around. I hear this question a lot and I’m in the thick of it with both a 16 month old and a 3 year old! Here are a few thoughts and tips that I can offer.
1. The first thing I’m going to say might not be the most popular but I need you to check your own attitude. These littles will become the kids you are homeschooling in just a few short years. You don’t want their view of school to be tainted because they are always being ignored and told to be quiet during school hours.
2. Your big kids are learning some great life skills and lessons on patience as they have to handle the interruptions from littles. Dealing with the interruptions with grace and gentleness teachers your big kids so much. Never underestimate what they are learning just by watching you. Not everything we learn comes from a text book and homeschool life is real life learning all the time.
3. Include the littles. Let them sit on your lap while you teach. Print coloring pages that pertain to what the big kids are learning. Act like they are a part of things and let them learn right along with your big kids. They will swell with pride as they hold that pencil in their cute chubby hand and work hard “writing” just like the big kids are. We want to be parents who cause our children to rise and I believe in schooling this is a simple way to help them rise.
4. Have “special” toys or activities that are reserved for only school time. Make sure these toys and activities are quiet and self play toys where you don’t have to micromanage or get involved. Preferably these toys will also be things that your littles can do while sitting at the same table as everyone else.
5. Nap or quiet time is another great time you can get some uninterrupted schooling done with your bigs. Quiet time resets kids and makes the day go so much better. Use this time wisely.
6. Outdoor time. My littles can play outdoors for so long and will play happily while we do school work. Often we will bring a blanket outside and do our reading on the grass while the littles play in a water table, sand box, slide, sensory bins, and with a ball in the grass. Bonus - we all just love doing school outside
7. Start your morning with some undivided time with your littles before starting school with the bigs. Even if it’s just 30 minutes I’ve found when they get mom all to themselves for a bit in the morning then they are much happier to share throughout the day!
Feel free to share your favorite activities to keep your littles happy while doing school with your bigs. We’d love to see everyone’s ideas and don’t forget to join the conversation on Facebook.
Stay tuned for more Q & A’s in the coming weeks. Have a question you would like to ask, feel free to email me!
Traditions are an important aspect of our homes and our homeschools. Traditions conjure emotions and memories comforts and a feeling of belonging. I love this quote from Karen Andreola
Traditions don’t have to be complicated and some can even be helpful to you. Like taco Tuesday for example! We have some form of Mexican food every Tuesday. Everyone in my family knows Tuesday’s mean guacamole, homemade salsa, and some yummy main dish. This makes meal planning for the week simpler cause I don’t have to think about Tuesdays ever.
I thought today I’d share one of our favorite “taco Tuesday” meals - Taco Chili!
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 1/2 yellow onion diced
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 1 can of each: black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans strained and rinsed
- 1 box (4 cups) vegetable broth
- 2 cans of tomato sauce
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
-1/2 tsp paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- toppings: guacamole, cheese, chives, and cilantro are a few of our favorites!
1. Sauté onions bell pepper and garlic. Add ground beef and cook till meat is done and most of the fat has cooked off.
2. add vegetable broth and spices and simmer
3. add tomato sauce and beans bring to a boil and simmer till ready to eat
4. serve with your favorite toppings: cheese, crunched up chips, guacamole, chives, and cilantro
* I make this in bulk and freeze it. This is a great soup to have on hand to deliver to a family who have just had a baby or makes dinner a snap for you!
* often I will finish step 1 then throw all the ingredients in a crock pot and let it simmer all day on low. Turns out great every time!
I’ll share some of our other taco Tuesday meals in coming weeks!
Our homeschool year is just about to begin and I’m looking forward to getting back to routine and normalcy again. This is my 10th year homeschooling and my last year homeschooling my oldest daughter - a senior 😭😍 I’ve made a few mistakes along the way and learned a bunch over these last ten years and I’m still learning all the time.
If there is one single piece of advice I could give you on how to have a successful homeschool year it would simply be this: figure out what is your most important (subject, chore, or lesson) and always do whatever that is FIRST - and always before lunch!
I’ve found that if I don’t get my core lessons done with my kids before lunch often they don’t happen. I get distracted or they get busy doing their own independent school work, then I’m putting a baby down for a nap and before I know it, it’s time to cook dinner.
Many years ago I decided to make my mornings sacred. I NEVER schedule play dates or dentist appointments or even answer my phone or texts (if I can help it) till after lunch and I use my mornings to be as intentional with my kids as I can. I found when I dedicated this time to be focused we could get more done in a few short hours than we could get done all day when we were all distracted. I also found if the homeschool day went south after lunch there was a lot of peace in knowing I’d already finished the core school work with my kids.
Take time to figure out what you need to do each morning to have a successful school year. Though some things changes between years these are the basics I do every morning:
1. Coffee: keeping it real friends 😂
2. Jesus: I don’t want any subject to take be more important than time with the Lord and the Bible so we spend time practicing a memory verse, reading a Psalm or Proverb and praying over our day. It doesn’t take a lot of time but it’s worth every minute we spend.
3. Artist Study/ Hymn Study/Poetry Study/Music Study: we only Study one of these a day rotating through the week. Monday- artist study, Tuesday - hymn study and so on
4. Chapter book: we are always reading a chapter book usually pertaining to the period of history we are in. I read the assigned pages for the day.
If I have any extra tone I’ll spend it on individual kids working on English or writing.
The rest gets done after lunch most days, but if not I know I’ve already gotten a lot done and making up the rest won’t be hard. This is generally how our mornings go, but it has varied over the years and ages of my kids and I would guess your mornings will look different too! Perhaps you have a child learning to read this might be the most important thing to do first thing in the morning or if you have a child struggling in a subject the mornings could be a great time to work with him or her. I’ve also used mornings as a time to catch up on a subject that we have fallen behind on (cause that sure does happen sometimes doesn’t it 🤦♂️😂)
There it is, super simple advice. First things First! Take time to figure out what’s most important and do those in the morning. It’s a simple
way to set up your homeschool for a great year.
Friends, I was reading through Proverb 24 last week and verse 6 smacked me loud and clear as a homeschool verse. Ive never thought of this verse in regards to homeschooling before so I thought I would share it with you all today.
The beginning of this verse is so applicable to what we are all doing homeschooling our children. We are in a war, every day. The war for our children’s souls. One of the main reasons I believe most of us have chosen to homeschool is so that we can disciple our children, building their foundation firmly on the rock of Christ. This is in complete opposition to the world. Satan is on the attack, looking to tear apart the homeschool family, looking to break the solid foundation we are building. We are in a war and we need to face it as such. Pick up our sword daily, do not let it drop and walk head first in the battle for our children’s souls. Fight the hard fights, point them back to Christ again and again and again. We must not grow tired in doing good.
The second piece of this verse is equally important for the homeschool family. If you read the verses surrounding this verse they are covered in seeking wisdom. We as homeschool families need a multitude of wise counselors as we fight the battle for our children’s soul. Bring in wise counsel, seek it out to help direct and encourage you when the going gets tough - because we all know there are hard days. But let me plead with you a bit of caution here too. Be careful who your wise counsel is. Look for those who have walked this road of Christian homeschooling before you, look for those with older children who are still walking with Christ, fill your time reading the Word of God (as there is no better place to get counsel) and be aware of worldly philosophies that are entering your home verses Godly wisdom. Ask the Lord to cause red flags in your spirit when you hear wisdom that doesn’t line up with His heart, ask Him to bring you those who will walk this path and encourage you as you fight daily.
We are in a war and the damage that can be caused if we don’t take the battle seriously can have lasting consequences.
I want to encourage each of you to join together arm in arm with those families here in Raising Arrows. Let us be wise counsel for each other, be each other’s greatest cheerleaders and point each other back to Christ as needed. This is the heart of Raising Arrows - a community of likeminded homeschool Christians families striving together to not let the enemy take any ground in our marriages or the lives of our children. Thankful for each of you, your passion for homeschooling, your love for the Lord, and your daily faithfulness to your children. Keep on the good fight my friends!
And just like that August is half way over and summer is almost done. Have you already started your homeschool year or are you enjoying every last drop of summer?
We just moved and I’m still unpacking boxes so I don’t plan on starting for at least another week, maybe two. Though I won’t be starting this week I am prepping now - and I’m not just talking lesson plans. I’m prepping my kids.
Summer is filled with staying up late and waking up later, chores get left undone and meal times aren’t consistent. These last couple weeks before I start school I’ll use to get us back into normal routines. We will be waking up earlier, making sure we are getting to sleep earlier too. Chores and consistent meals are happening again too.
No, it’s not the most exciting way to spend our last couple weeks of summer. I’ve learned over the years that being intentional before starting school makes a huge difference in those first couple weeks of school. And so I know it’s worth it. Before the school work comes the life work, the work that makes our days run smooth, takes pressure and unnecessary stress off my plate and brings peace to my home. School work will come soon but first the real life work must begin again.
A few things you might want to think about adding into your summer days before your homeschool year begins could be:
- consistent bedtimes
- consistent wake up times
- habits that need to be done before the school day begins (like brushing teeth, making the bed, and specific chores)
- meal planning: don’t wait till it’s 5 pm to plan dinner for the night otherwise it’ll be pb & j again! At a minimum plan in the morning what you are cooking that day or even better plan for the entire week. Write it down and then the kids can see what the meal plan is too!
- meal prep: precook your meals for the first week of school so you don’t have to juggle cooking and school week 1 (trust me this is a saving grace the first week of school)
- consistent meal times: this creates a routine and pattern your kids know to expect. Then you don’t have kids coming to you all day saying “mom I’m hungry when are we going to eat?”
- consistent snack time: especially if you have littles. Witching hour can be tough for the homeschool mom and I’ve found a consistent snack time helps the witching hour dramatically!
- some basic routine for yourself : are you waking up before the kids, when are you reading your Bible each day, showering, taking a five minute breather during the day. Make a plan for your self care during the day.
- nap schedule or quiet time schedule: this time is so important to the function of your day. Whether you are using this time to teach an older child or this is your time to shower or spend with the Lord - a small 20 minute quiet time does wonders to reset the house
- 5/10 minute clean ups: These save my bacon and keep my OCD issues in check. Right after lunch, right after dinner, and after the littles go to bed we have a quick clean and everyone pitches in. We turn on fun music and clean as much as quick as we can. It keeps down the clutter and then toys don’t get out of control. It also frees me up to clean things that have been bugging me (like the dust on that ceiling fan) rather than wasting time on basic clean up all day long.
Those are a few things to get you started. What other things do you do to prep for the start of the school year? I’d love to hear!