Thoughts on Homeschooling

Homeschooling – A Dad's Perspective, Part 1 March 08 2016, 0 Comments

We have been homeschooling now for 15 years. The longer I live, the more the statement, “It goes by so quickly,” rings true. Being tasked with writing this post has forced me to look back over the fleeting years and reflect on the lessons I have learned throughout. What are those lessons? What can I offer to the homeschool community? The following posts will be my attempt to answer these questions.

 

Lesson 1: Support your wife.

 

Anyone who has been involved with homeschooling will quickly learn that it is not easy. Every responsibility that normally would fall upon school teachers is now placed upon the parents. And the brunt of that day to day responsibility falls upon the wife and mother.

 

On top of that, the day to day running of the household does not subside. By the end of the day, what has fallen upon your wife? A day in the life of a homeschool mom . . . cooking meals, training character, teaching reading, math, and other subjects, consoling inconsolable children, cleaning, laundry, and finally wondering if all she is doing is enough for her children and family (I'm sure I forgot something . . . sorry moms). Next day . . . rise and do it again. If at the end of all this, you can not see how blessed you are to have a wife committed to this great task, repent because there is something wrong with your heart.

 

So how do you support your wife? Here is a list of what I found helpful:

 

      1. Be thankful. Show your appreciation with notes or words of encouragement, flowers, and/or special treats.

      2. Pray for and with your wife on a daily basis. Remember you cannot succeed without the Lord's aid. “Unless the Lord builds a house, we labor in vain . . .”

      3. Serve. Ask her for ways you can help. Whether it is playing with or reading to the kids for a bit while she gets a break, picking up groceries, cooking a meal, working with the kids on cleaning up, or getting her her favorite drink at the end of the day, any little bit helps.

      4. Take her on dates. “I need adult conversation,” is a constant theme, especially during the younger stages of homeschooling. Dates are a good place for her to be refreshed.

      5. Listen. Maybe the most difficult thing to do. Sometimes your wife just needs to vent. Ask her how the day went, and be ready to listen to what she says.

 

If you haven't noticed already, this list is something you should be doing for your wife even if you don't homeschool . . . good training for when the kids have left the home to start their own. Though, this is a simple list, it is not easy. If you are like me, selfishness is your default mode. That doesn't mean you can't succeed. Pick one thing and start working on it. It is difficult to slay your selfishness, but it is worth it. Your wife will appreciate it, the children will notice it, and joy, even in the midst of the tough times, will be the rule rather than the exception. The family will be working together to better weather the storms. It is worth it!

 

[To come . . . Lesson 2: Find a good church, Lesson 3: Don't go it alone, Lesson 4: Family worship, Lesson 5: Family dates]

 

Written by Brian Eschen


Homeschooling with Weaknesses February 08 2016, 2 Comments

The irony of this blog post is that I’m really uncomfortable writing.  Talking to people face to face is no problem.  Trying to get my thoughts out on paper in a coherent manner is the most challenging thing for me to do.  So how do I homeschool and teach my own children to write? Good question.  Thankfully we had used Charlotte Mason’s method of narration to build foundational composition skills, and we had used Spell to Write and Read to build strong spelling skills.  However, my experience trying to teach formal writing skills in my oldest child’s second grade year was a dismal failure.  I dutifully watched the Teaching Writing with Structure and Style videos with my husband after the children were all tucked in for the night.  We took notes, talked about the concepts, and I truly believed that I could do it.  But when I tried to sit down for writing time with the children I forgot everything and couldn’t make any of the concepts make any sense to myself let alone to the children.  We didn’t do many writing lessons that year.  I can’t really say I was too surprised - I did have to take remedial writing just to get into college English after all.  We continued with the lack of writing lessons until my husband and I discovered that Mr. Pudewa had videos where he taught the lessons and all I had to do was check their work.  This taught me three very valuable lessons that I have been able to carry into all my homeschooling.  #1: I can’t do everything.  I have limitations.  I have weaknesses.  #2: I can ask for help from either a video teacher, co-op teacher, or even my spouse and still succeed as a homeschool mom.  #3: I learned how to write better myself - and the thing I was able to model to my children was that learning never stops.

 

I hope and pray that if you are starting out in the adventure of homeschooling you remember that when your weakness come up that you can ask for help and continue to learn right along side of your children.  

 

 


Curriculum Review: His California Story by Lesha Meyers July 02 2015, 0 Comments

Brian and I (Teresa) love California.  It is the state my husband was born in.  To me (having grown up in Iowa) it was the "promised land" or "paradise", an exotic place I thought I would never get to go to.  When I moved I instantly fell in love with the weather, people and geography of California. Over the last 18 years of living in California I have grown appreciate this wonderful state's unique history.  It is obvious that Lesha Meyers had a similar love of California.  At least that's what seems to have come out in her California history curriculum, "His California Story". 

From the title we can see that Mrs. Meyers recognized history as God's story told through the actions of man.  This is indeed displayed in the book as Providential acts are highlighted.  On page 38, in The Explorer's Unit Mrs. Myers says, "One observation is clear no matter which explanation is correct: God, in His Providence, did not want San Francisco Bay to be discovered before the Spanish expedition of 1769.  If the bay had been discovered when Spain was at the height of its power, during the voyage of Cabrillo for example, California could have been settled sooner.   If Drake had discovered it, the area might have been colonized by the English.  In either of these situation, California might never have joined the United States."

The curriculum is also chock full of extra activities in each lesson.  Children cement into their memories the lessons that are studied through the experiences of acting out the story of Vizcaino's discovery of Monterey Bay, or making their own Bear Flag, or making and tasting coffee and hardtack (just to name a few).  There is also a very full list of historical sites to visit for each lesson.  Places like the various missions, Vallejo's home, Sutter fort, and Fort Ross are listed to help parents know where to bring the children to see the actual spots where God's story unfolded.  A history song is also included to help the children remember the important dates of California's history. 

One of the problems I had with this curriculum was that there were soooo many great activities and trips to do that we couldn't do them all.  But, I guess that's not really a weakness in the curriculum!

Our family greatly benefited from using "His California Story" for our children's study of our state.  Now to give you some important details of the curriculum:

- The complete curriculum consists of 3 books: "His California Story: In Christian Perspective", a "Teacher's Supplement for His California Story", and "Continuing the Journey" (additional essays on CA history). 

- "His California Story" is 222 pages long, contains 10 units, each unit consisting of 2 to 5 chapters.  The curriculum can be complete in 10 weeks or two years, depending on how many of the extra activities are completed.

- The "Teacher's Supplement" consists of 198 pages, broken up by chapter, with Lesson plan suggestions, Geography

 


How to Read a Book - Product Review May 24 2014, 0 Comments

When first I came across the book, How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, the question flashed through my mind, “Why would I read this book? I already know how to read a book.”  But amidst many jokes from my family, I got through the book!  And have a new appreciation for books.  

The books that How to Read a Book primarily deals with are non-fiction books that are written to increase the understanding of the reader, not just read for enjoyment.  There is a section for reading for fiction books also, though that it not the main focus of the book.

The author first lays out rules for reading, and then demonstrates how those rules will be adjusted based on the subject matter of the book (i.e. science vs. philosophy vs. history). These rules encourage the reader to both slow down and not skip important parts of the book such as the Table of Contents and the Preface. Additionally it is important to do a pre-read where the reader tries to understand the overall theme of the book before carefully reading and outlining the book.  Adler also instructs his readers how to look for main topics and basic outlines of each section of the book, thereby understanding the structure of the arguments which support the main theme.

Adler is a very logical thinker, and the book reads a bit like a step by step "how to" book.  However, this does not make it not engaging to read.  The author encourages the reader to use active reading to improve his understanding of the world around him, while evaluating an author's understanding of and ability to communicate his own understanding of the world.  As a reader you become part of a conversation, agreeing or disagreeing with the author, not based on feeling, but based on reasoned responses.  

I believe reading and analyzing a book in the way taught by Adler would help all students to better understand what they read and to better evaluate it according to scripture.  Books should be read skeptically, so we don't fall prey to vain philosophies, always with a view to evaluating them through the lens of God's Word.  Adler's book is an excellent tool that can aid parents and older readers how to more intelligently read a book.

 

-Teresa

 

Click here to buy How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler.


Encouragement to keep working hard... May 19 2014, 0 Comments


Learning Curves March 31 2014, 1 Comment

So here at Eagle’s Nest we’re trying to learn a bunch of new things all at once: learning to update a website, input inventory, get a space set up, order inventory, be a charter school supplier, all while being parents, hosting Bible studies, homeschooling the kiddos, running P.E. classes, entertaining out of state family, running another business, taking the kids to music lessons…[here’s where we take a deep breath, or pass out!]

We all have learning curves to go through. It helped me take into perspective what my children are going through; only they have guides (parents, pastors, aunts and uncles, etc.) to help them along.   We on the other hand do not. Oh, wait. I guess we do. Oftentimes I forget in the busyness of life to pray. God is my guide. His spirit leads and directs my path. When I forget to pray God seems to put roadblocks up… I guess to lead me back to Him (it works – that’s when I remember to pray!). We all have choices in homeschooling. Some of us have mentors, or guides to assist us along the way. Others of us don’t. But we all have the opportunity to pray and seek God’s direction in our life. Proverbs 16:9 says “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directs his steps.” What a comfort!

If anyone reading this does not have that comfort, please seek the Lord while he may be found.  

Now, the updates on our space are coming nicely! The walls are painted, the inventory is getting organized and the display cases are getting ready to be painted on April 12!!   Pictures will be coming soon!

Another learning curve that I’ve been dealing with personally is how to get this blog thing out to everyone! I never anticipated being part of a blog. (Those of you who knew me in grade school, high school, or college may or may not remember how much I hated writing!) So, forgive me if you are on the list and don’t want to be, or if you’re finally getting your first post when you’ve been anticipating receiving one and hadn’t. I’m trying!  

 

Written By: Teresa


Common Core: Rudyard Kipling's Commentary March 10 2014, 0 Comments

The following poem published in 1919 is a timeless commentary on those who desire to discard the time tested absolutes of Christian education in favor of “progressive” education. In it, Kipling references the “copybooks” which students once used in our country to memorize the unchangeable truths of this world. These copybooks, long tossed on the rubbish heap of education by our schools, have been replaced by the bright shiny textbooks that promise good education without God and His absolutes. That type of education does not exist for, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge . . .” When America finishes reaping the fruit of this bankrupt system, Christianity will be there to pick up the pieces of this wreckage. In the meantime a generation of students are being damaged in our government schools (and even some Christian schools) by the “new” standards known as Common Core.

 

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

by Rudyard Kipling

 

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,

I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.

Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

 

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn

That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:

But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,

So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

 

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,

Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,

But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come

That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

 

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,

They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;

They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;

So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

 

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.

They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.

But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

 

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life

(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)

Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

 

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,

By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;

But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

 

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew

And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true

That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

 

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man

There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.

That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,

And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

 

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins

When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,

As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,

The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

 

 Kipling's "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" can be found in Poems for Patriarchs.

 

Written by: Brian


Confessions of a Curriculum Junkie March 03 2014, 0 Comments

I love curriculum.  Any and all of it.  I really don't care how big, small, glitzy, or plain it is.  I love the thrill of opening the newly delivered box of books.  I love hanging out at the curriculum store for hours, going up and down the isles seeing all the pretty books on a shelf (prettier to me - almost - than a garden full of colorful flowers).  I love thumbing through various brands of curriculum and comparing similar levels to each other.  Ok, I think you get the point.  I LOVE CURRICULUM. 

That's why when we heard of a curriculum store for sale, and we discussed the possibility of buying it, I was ecstatic!  Like a little girl in a candy store (only without the headache that would come from a sugar overdose).

You see, I used to love sharing my experiences with people who would ask me which curriculum we used for this or that.  As well as sharing all the research that I had done, the philosophy of X and the opposite philosophy of Y, I would explain why I thought each one that we used was the best of its category.

And then something changed.  I realized that everything I was sharing with others was founded on me; what I liked, what I thought fit our family the best.  I realized the best was not always the best after all.  I also realized that what I was sharing that we had done would overwhelm others (Hi, I'm Teresa, a recovering work-a-holic.)  What I had missed  in my years of "sharing" was explaining the foundation that my husband and I had.  I was sharing about great curriculum, literature, methods, etc., but forgetting to share the foundation (dare I say "core") of our curriculum.  That core is the Bible and building Godly character in the children.  Many different curriculum can be used to reach the same final goal.

Written by: Teresa

Common Core and Homeschooling: The Perspective of a Homeschooling Father February 23 2014, 0 Comments

Common Core and Homeschooling The Perspective of a Homeschooling Father

This article is not necessarily going to be a summary or critique of common core. There are plenty of people better educated than I who have already done just that.1 My purpose is to go over some of my observations and reflections from the last two San Ramon Valley Unified School District (SRVUSD) Board of Education meetings that I attended. In the first meeting (November 12, 2013), the board held a public hearing regarding the “Common Core Implementation Plan”. Sixteen people (including one current student) spoke out against the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and urged the board not to adopt them. There were 28 questions that were raised as a result of this public hearing. Some of the more important questions, in my opinion, included the following:2

  • –  How were the Common Core Standards Developed?

  • –  Who developed the standards?

  • –  Is the District legally required to adopt Common Core?

  • –  Is the District able to delay the implementation of Common Core for one year?

  • –  Does the Common Core lessen or dumb down the standards to bring a level of equality among

    all students?

  • –  Are the New Generation Science Standards (NGSS) at a lower level than our current science

    standards?

  • –  Is the Common Core unproven and untested? Or is there evidence that it works?

  • –  Do parents, students and teachers have no control over what is being tested when local control

    is removed?

    It was at the December 10, 2013 meeting that the board was set to make a decision on whether to approve the “Common Core Implementation Plan” or not. The board's responses to the above questions were made available to the public prior to this meeting. Many of the same concerned parents and citizens came to the December meeting to voice their displeasure regarding what they felt were the board's non-answers, partial truths, and lies to the questions and concerns they had raised at the November meeting. The following is a brief summary of how I saw the interaction taking place:

    Concerned parent/citizen: These standards were developed by a private corporation, they are not transparent, and they were put together (for the most part) by those who are not experts in education [inserts reference to research showing evidence that this is the case].

    Board response: This is my personal feeling...let me tell you a story [inserts anecdote here and throws in a few buzzwords like “rigorous” and “success”]

    Concerned parent/citizen (who also happens to be an attorney): The law clearly states that the education standards adopted by the State of California are guidelines and not required to be followed [quotes applicable California law]. It seems to me this is really about the money to you...maybe you should just admit it.

Board response: We still think we have to do what the State tells us...we don't want to be the one to test it out and see what the consequence is...your issue is with the State, not with us...we might not get as much money if we don't obey (confirming the above concerned citizen's suspicion).

Concerned parent/citizen: The New Generation Science Standards received a “C” grade from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the current standards received an “A” grade.3 How can you say that the new standards will be at a higher level?

Board response: This is my personal feeling...let me tell you a story [inserts anecdote here and throws in a few buzzwords like “rigorous” and “success”]

Concerned parent/citizen: The Common Core Standards have never been successfully implemented anywhere [cites research showing evidence of this assertion]

Board response: This is my personal feeling...let me tell you a story [inserts anecdote here and throws in a few buzzwords like “rigorous”, “success”, and don't forget “benchmarked”]

Final board response: I'm signing my two kids up for this (and 31,000 other children in the process)...I hope I'm doing the right thing. The bottom line is that these standards engage the children and engaged children learn. I'm so excited about getting this thing going!

From the final comments from all of the board members, it appeared to me as though they had already made up their minds. No amount of evidence against the effectiveness of the CCSS was going to change their minds. At the end of the day, they were just excited to go after their shiny new toy and, in the process, send 31,000 children down an unproven path.

One of the main problems with the public school system (and there are many4) is lack of control and direction parents have over the education of their children. This only gets worse with the implementation of the CCSS. It is much easier to hold local elected officials accountable than to hold state or federal elected officials accountable. This is especially true for those in the SRVUSD, which is made up of mostly conservatives in the middle of an ultra-liberal state in the most liberal area of that state. The SRVUSD Board of Education should represent the interests of the parents who elected them, not the interests of the State of California or the federal government. From the parents and concerned citizens perspective, at the core of their questions is a desire to feel that their voice is being heard, and that they have a say in the education of their children. Based on the results of the December 10 board meeting, those parents and concerned citizens now know that they have no say in the education of their children as long as they are students in the SRVUSD. The solution? Parents (specifically fathers) need to take seriously their God-given responsibility for the education of their children (see Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Psalm 78:1-7; Ephesians 6:4). They need to remove them from an educational system over which they have no control. There was something else said by a board member at the meeting: “I am concerned by the people that say there is nothing wrong with the system the way it is.” I wholeheartedly agree. It is time to save our children and empty the public schools in this district. After all, “Education is too important to be left solely to the educators” (Francis Keppel).

  1.  

    1. 1  For example, see Homeschool Legal Defense Association's analysis at https://www.hslda.org/commoncore/analysis.aspx or for a really good summary see Joy Pullman's policy brief, “The Common Core: A Poor Choice for States”, http://heartland.org/sites/default/files/05-15-13_common_core_revised_policy_brief_version.pdf

    2. 2  For a complete list of the questions and the SRVUSD official answer see page 23-31 of the December 10 Board of Education Meeting Packet: http://srvusd.ca.schoolloop.com/file/1275747798440/1275747792963/5444989277824842083.pdf

     

                3  See the study done by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute at: http://www.edexcellence.net/publications/final-     evaluation-of- NGSS.html

  2. 4  Foundationally, for example, any system that is funded through theft is inherently evil (see Exodus 20:15 and Ephesians 4:28), and any education system that does not begin with the fear of the Lord is inadequate (see Proverbs 1:7 and Ephesians 6:4).

For More information come to the meeting regarding Common Core in the East Bay www.eastbayteaparty.com/events

 

Written by: Jeff 


Welcome to Eagle's Nest Homeschool Supply February 06 2014, 0 Comments

We, the Eschen family, would like to welcome you to Eagle's Nest Homeschool Supply.  We strive to give you products and ideas that Glorify God and aid you in educating your little and big Gifts of God!  We welcome you to visit our website (www.eaglesnesthomeschoolsupply.com).  Our physical store's Grand Opening is scheduled for May 17 at 12907 Alcosta Blvd., Ste. E, San Ramon, CA 94583.  Whether you are actively homeschooling your children or supplementing their education we look forward to serving you with Homeschool products that agree with the Bible, as well as providing you with classes and seminars that encourage and equip you in training up your children. 

Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

 

Written By: Teresa