Shining Praise: A Homeschooler's Haven

Insights from a Christian Woman of Color

And Baby Makes Six

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On June 25, 2013, my little clan grew from a family of five to a family of six. Riley Grace is my fourth child and my third daughter. If someone had told me 9 years ago (before I met my husband) that I would be a home-schooling mother of four I would have laughed them to scorn. You see, I never pictured myself as a mother. As a matter of fact, I disliked children so much that I refused to babysit no matter how much money I was offered, and I was a broke college student! But God…

Although  I could not  even fathom it, God had a wonderful plan for my life. I pictured myself married, child-free, and climbing the corporate ladder. My life looks nothing like that now and boy am I glad. Some may say that I have put my life on hold for motherhood, but that is not at all the case. God has given me a new and better life. One that is filled with love, joy, and the sounds of childhood. 

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Faint Hearts Need Not Apply

I know, I know: it’s been a long time since you last heard from me. Well, that’s because this is a tough job. Last year we did a practice run with homeschooling. Both of my girls did a pre-school curriculum that was a ton of fun, but not nearly as intense as what we are doing this year. My oldest will be five on March 20th and she is doing a kindergarten curriculum. My middle child turned three at the beginning of the year and she is doing a mix of pre-school and pre-K. Now throw into the mix a 19 month old bundle of constant energy that I call my son, a husband, and two fairly new businesses and I’m sure you can see why I have been so busy and totally exhausted. I almost forgot to mention that we are expecting our fourth child in June. I have a lot on my plate.

In all honesty, I have thought about calling it quits. Especially when the kids are less than thrilled about school work, and it’s too cold or rainy to even think about going outside. It’s times like this when I have to lean on the conviction that I am doing what is best for my family. When I feel like I am getting to the end of my rope, I wrap the rope around my wrist and ask God to give me the strength to continue to carry out His will.

I want to encourage all of you home-schoolers who may be growing weary in well-doing. Don’t give up! If you feel like you need to take a break, then do it. We did and everything worked out fine. If your children don’t seem to like the curriculum, then throw it out and try something else. You can’t be afraid to veer off the beaten path. After all, isn’t that part of what home-schooling is about? If you truly believe that this is your calling, then draw from the source of your belief and buckle down for the long haul. Remember: you’re a parent and this is not a job for the faint of heart.

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Time4Learning Curriculum Review

I’ve been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichmentand for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

 

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Eight Days and Counting

Eight Days and Counting: Expect the Unexpected

The first two weeks of school have flown by. We are on a 4-day school week schedule which means that we have had eight days of school. The girls spent a lot of time outside during summer break, and even though they were excited about the start of school, I don’t think they were really ready to be inside during the day. Lucky for them I’m flexible.

                For the first four weeks, our theme is nature and creation. We have been on nature walks, we have done a nature sit (this is just sitting outside and observing your surroundings), and we even had class outside once. We even have a bonfire planned! Our first two weeks of school have been action packed and most of it was not planned. I’ve really had to feed off of the girls and allow them to direct the flow of school. This is new for me.

                Last year I really struggled with wanting to stick to my lesson plan. I ended up frustrated and defeated; we didn’t make it past February. This time around, I made up my mind that I would focus on the fun of learning and not necessarily completing tasks. I know that we’ve only had eight days of class, but it seems to be working. We are all having fun, Parker is getting better with her writing, and Taylor is excited about reading. As for me, I wake up every day expecting the unexpected.

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Not In My Village

Not In My Village

It takes a village to raise a child. I’m willing to bet we’ve all heard this saying. Before I had children, I had no real idea of what this meant. After having my first child, I began to understand a little more, and I actually began to disagree with this school of thought. Why? Because I was seeing so many children who were being raised by “villages” and they were not succeeding in life. These children were not only struggling in school, but they also had emotional, mental, and behavioral problems. I began to think that all it really took to raise a child were a loving mother and father who feared the Lord.
Now that I have three children, I’ve changed my mind again. I still believe that every child deserves loving, God-fearing parents. I now also believe that children deserve to be surrounded by God fearing people who want to see them succeed, and parents need the help of others to fill in where they fall short. This is especially true for homeschoolers. They key is to carefully screen the members of your village. This may come as a shock to some, but family members do not have to automatically be accepted in your village or even be a part of your inner circle.
As a homeschooler, I get the luxury of really being selective. I don’t have to worry about “bad teachers” or “problem students” interfering with their education. My husband and I will get to hand pick a few adults to assist us in enriching our children’s lives. We’ll be able to get help with things like music education, art appreciation, sports, and even science. So yes, it does take a village, but ours is by application only.

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Questions from the Audience

Questions from the Audience

After my last post, I received several questions from my readers. I’d like to take this opportunity to answer the questions and address your concerns.

1. What was the key factor that the public school path was not for your children?

Before we got married, my husband and I decided that when the children came, I would stay at home. When I had my first child, Taylor, I was so excited. I wanted to be with her all the time. I felt like it was my duty to protect her and to be there whenever she needed me. I realized this could not happen if she was at school 8-10 hours a day. In the beginning, I really struggled with the decision. I loved my public school experience, and I knew nothing about homeschooling. As I did more praying and researching, I realized that the public school system could not produce the type of children that I wanted to raise. The American public school system has basically said that it wants nothing to do with God. How can I expect this institution to teach my children to be God-fearing men and women? I heard a quote from Voddie Baucham Jr. that says, “if you send your children off to Caesar for their educations, we need to stop being surprised when they come home as Romans.” This is what I feared more than anything. I know God has called my family to a special calling, and we would not be able to accomplish this with our children being disciples of the public school system.

2. How do you think your children will feel about being homeschooled as they become older?

Although I don’t personally know any homeschooled children, I have read lots of books and magazines, and heard several radio interviews from children of various ages. They all really appreciate not only the amazing education they received from being homeschooled, but also the bonds they were able to form with their families and all the unique experiences that homeschooling afforded them. While I hope my children grow up to feel the same way, I do realize that there will be some struggle. I can only pray that God gives my husband and I the wisdom and grace it will take to overcome the struggle.

3. How long are you planning to home school your children?

Right now it is my desire to home school until my children are done with their K-12 education. It’s my goal to have them prepared for whatever it is they feel that God has called them to do. This may mean going off to college or it could mean going off to the mission field.

4. Are you developing your own curriculum or combining curriculum directives from one or more sources?

One of my missions to spend the least amount of money possible on a quality home school education. Last year we did a trial run on a free preschool curriculum. It was a complete curriculum that was distributed online on a monthly basis. We all really liked the program, but I did not have much time to prepare from month-to-month because of late distribution.

This year, we are doing a Pre-K/K curriculum from Hubbard’s Cupboard. The lessons are free, and the entire school year is available to print year round. The best part is the curriculum is bible based! I am supplementing this curriculum with math worksheets and activities that I have gathered from various sources.

I really appreciate your interest in home schooling. I’m not by any means an expert, but I am willing to share all the knowledge I have, so keep the questions coming!

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Back to School Blues

Back to School Blues

When I was a little girl, I loved school. I have very fond memories of lunch boxes, backpacks, and the school cafeteria. Even today, the smell of crayons and construction paper send me right back to Mrs. Brown’s first grade class. Every year, I would get excited about getting new school supplies and of course new clothes. The back to school season was always such an exciting time.

Today, this time of year brings a jumble of emotions. I am excited about what I am calling our first official year of home schooling. Last year was more of a test run than anything. This year, we are doing a full Pre-K/Kindergarten curriculum. My lesson plans are almost done, and I’ve already begun school supply shopping. However, I must confess that I do feel a twinge of sadness, and even regret, when I hear other kids talking with their mommies’ about all of those “back to school” traditions that I loved. I especially feel horrible when my oldest daughter asks why she can’t get a backpack and go to school with the other kids. Then, there are my own feelings of jealousy I have to deal with.

I always thought I would be one of the moms who got to drop her children off at school in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon (don’t ask me what I thought I would be doing in between). I could not wait to be a part of the P.T.A. and the Booster Club. I was actually looking forward to all of those awful school fundraisers, but God has a different plan for us.

It is with unwavering conviction that I have taken on the task of home schooling. The bible tells us, in Proverbs 22:6, that we should, “train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” A large part of a child’s training comes from the type of education that they receive. This scripture weighed heavy on me when I was making the choice to home school. I know that it is right for us. However, I would being doing all of you an injustice if I were not honest in admitting that I too suffer from the Back to School Blues.

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Hello world!

I never thought I would join the blogosphere. I’m a wife, mother of three, and I run two growing businesses. I hardly have time to eat, but I do have something to share. About a year ago my husband and I decided that we would home school our children. I was excited and scared at the same time. I am a product of the Spring Branch ISD in Houston, TX and I have always thought my children would be also, but God had a different plan. Once I overcame my fear, I knew that I was going to need some help. I began to research home school support groups in my area, and I did not have much luck. At the time I was living in New Jersey which is not a very home school friendly state. I did however find several blogs and websites dedicated to home schooling. What I did not find was a Christian, woman of color who was home schooling. I wanted to find someone like me. After thinking for a while, I knew that I could not be the only woman sitting at her computer puzzled by this anomaly so I decided to start this blog to offer a safe gathering place for others like me. I also want to offer a very real, and transparent look at my home school journey. Make no mistake about it, this is a journey.

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