The Heart of Mathematics
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Looking for some fun fall activities to do with your kids? Check out these websites
http://www.homeschooling-ideas.com/fall- activities-for- kids.html
http://www.reallifeathome.com/9-ideas- for-fall- homeschooling-activities/
https://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/fun-fall- homeschooling-activities- leaves/
by Mary Ann Eagleson
Miriam, our then 8-year- old child, was stretched out on her lower bunk bed poring over her Bible. She was reading the section where the Israelites told Samuel they wanted a king like other nations and Saul was about to take the throne. “Hannah, Hannah,” she shouted to our oldest daughter as she passed the room, “The Israelites are about to make another stupid mistake!”
As Hannah went to comment on Miriam’s observation, I praised the Lord, for somehow, in His marvelous grace, He was bringing this young believer to an understanding of His principles. What caused Miriam’s discernment that Sunday morning years ago? What tools may have helped her develop wisdom on several occasions since then?
Homeschooling is part of the answer, but the discipleship it allows is even more formative. There are many facets to discipleship, but three that have significance in our lives are: striving to root our children in Scripture, teaching them to stand alone, and praying without ceasing. These are elements that lie beyond simply teaching them the basics of grammar and high school, but indeed seem to have enabled them to be stronger disciples for Jesus.
We encouraged our children to read their Bibles daily as soon as they were able to read. Familiarity with Scripture may have instilled the Lord’s wisdom in Mimsy as she listened to, or read for herself, the story of the Israelites several times over in her young life. Knowing God’s Word contributes to our making wise decisions. It is in the pages of Scripture that we come to know the living Lord and His desires for us. To be His student, to make Him Lord, means to be rooted in God’s Word daily.
Hannah was two years old when she approached my Bible sitting on the end table. We had instructed her that the books on the shelves in our family room were off limits to her. This book looked similar. As she reached for my Bible, she stopped, looked at me and proudly announced, “Dat’s for older people.” My conscience was stirred. Was it only for older people? It was God’s Word. Did he put an age limit on it? I searched the house for a small Gideon Bible and gave it to her.
When Hannah was six, Bruce announced rather jokingly that she had to read through the Bible in order to graduate from our homeschool. Being the first-born, responsible child that she is, she replied, “Well, if I have to do that, I might as well get going.” She started to read a chapter a day, and in about three year’s time, she had read through the Scriptures.
When Nathan, our second born, realized Hannah accomplished this, he decided to take it on as well. Maybe it was the trip to the ice cream store that followed the completion of a textbook that motivated him. Nonetheless, he read through the Bible in about two year’s time, and challenged Miriam to do so as well.
In addition, we frequently instructed our children in their need to stand-alone. There were times when we said, “Others may, but we may not.” Sometimes, looking back, we erred and were too stringent in this area. However, even our errors taught our children that to be a Christian means to “Go against the flow.” I recall the day when Hannah was four years old, and our idyllic neighborhood situation was about to change.
We lived on a corner, and our yard stood at the conjunction of several backyards. No one had fences and there were several young families in the houses involved. A shared swing set, our sandbox and the large area for running was the gathering place of many children, even children who did not live on our court. The moms often gathered too. We would chat, share lunch and swim in our small inflatable pool on warm summer days. Sweet friendships developed between adults and the children.
Then the September arrived when Hannah’s best friend, a year older, was going to kindergarten. Mary lived right next door. All the mothers of children who were starting school walked to the corner to put their children on the bus. Several of our children’s friends were beginning this journey. The moms were chatting and excited to see their young children off on this adventure. We joined them to support our friends. I swallowed hard, and fought back tears, for I knew we were going a different path and that in some ways, life would be different now. We were the only people in the neighborhood homeschooling.
Mary looked through the school bus window. Her mom, my friend Susan, smiled and waved. Mary smiled and waved back, as did Lindsey and Stephanie, Hannah and Nate’s other close friends. Susan declared, “Look at those smiles. I am so happy we are doing this!”
We started the walk back home. Hannah was leading the way, alone. I pulled Nathan in the wagon. As we climbed the hill toward our house, I watched Hannah walking by herself, and reflected how symbolic this was of the Christian life. Our paths are different. I mused how our school path was different, and how much more this is true for the disciple of Christ.
Such moments, prayerfully, prepared our children for some of the very hard decisions they faced as adulthood approached. Three of them have been to college now, and have stood alone on many issues in and out of the classroom. Hannah recently had the opportunity to speak to her advisor of her commitment to Christ, and gained permission to write her PHD on narrative approaches in the renaissance poets, John Donne, George Herbert and Edward Taylor.
Mimsy just completed her graphic arts course at our local jr. college. Following many long discussions as a family, she came to the conclusion that taking the required nude figure drawing courses was something she should avoid. She appealed, engaged in much dialogue, and proposed several creative alternatives. One of her professors took up her cause, and finally she was allowed to do an independent study that eliminated the nude models. She found the road hard sometimes, but she was able to persevere, by God’s strength. Perhaps our choosing narrower paths in the past enabled her to stay the course.
Lastly, praying without ceasing, we believe, has had an impact on discipling our children. Paul encourages us to do this, and parenting is a wonderful impetus to this end. There are many issues to pray over in a child’s life, but a few that come to mind are choosing a name, deciding on a life verse, coming to salvation and meeting daily needs. Bruce and I prayed and searched for names for each of our children before they were born. We had a rule: Old Testament name for the first name and New Testament name for the middle name. We kept those Biblical figures before us and the children as models of disciples of the living God, models that they could grow into. We’ve seen some of the Biblical characteristics of their namesakes emerge over the years. Even if their names are non- Scriptural names, parents can relate Biblical truths to the meaning of their children’s names and carry out the same process.
We also prayed for a life verse for each of them, and the Lord guided us into such a verse for each. We keep those before them often, and again we have seen them come to reflect these verses as they have grown. When Abby was born, we were so amazed that God granted us another child that we name her Abigail, which means source of joy. Her verse is “I have no greater joy then to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 1:4, NKJV) She has been a joy for each of us, and we see her walking in the truth of the gospel in many ways. When Hannah was two years old, the Lord impressed upon me the following verse: “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above: and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12: 4, NKJV). We made this her life verse. How she has been this in her secular university, and in her activities as harpist and writer. So it has been with the other two as well.
We have prayed for their salvation since we knew they were coming. Certainly this is the first step of discipleship, and they have each committed their lives to Christ, one of our greatest blessings in life. They are under the leading of the Lord in this discipleship issue now, in addition to our influence, meager as it may be.
Surely their daily needs are important prayer issues. When they were infants, I prayed over them at night in their cribs or in my arms as I rocked them to sleep. Bruce and I continue to pray for them on a regular basis.
In the past I have prayed, and currently I pray the following Scripture over them: “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.” (Isaiah 54:1, NKJV). What assurance this is when we have the all to common homeschooling day that is less than perfect!
Recently I had been praying that Nate would see the power of God in his life. Shortly after I started this, he told me he had begun praying for his equipment at work. A given piece had failed. He did what he could, then prayed over it, and it began to work! When he told me this, I stated with elation, “I’ve been praying you would see God’s power in your life!” We both laughed at the goodness of God in this double answer to prayer.
No need is too small to bring before the Lord in prayer, and one day in the schoolroom there was the general chaos that can occur with four children. One was crying about a lesson she couldn’t understand, another was upset over some other issue and I was frustrated because I had lost someone’s Saxon math book. It was missing from the math section of our bookshelf. I was tempted to start complaining, a response I use more than I care to admit, when somehow the Holy Spirit got a hold of me. Instead, I started verbally praising God for the whole crazy situation, the sources of irritation, and as I lifted my hands and head toward Heaven in praise, there, before my eyes on a top shelf, far away from the math section, stood the missing math book. I began to laugh and I now try to recall that moment of God’s grace when I am tempted to go down the wrong path attitude wise. Why do I ever complain, when I know He is more than able to meet our needs? The children saw that, and in a way were discipled. Praying about daily needs in their presence points the way to Christ.
As we look back over the years, we rejoice over the times God has granted us moments of discipleship with the children. Bruce and I pray for our children that they will continue to follow their Lord. We would never say they will never stray, for we understand our frail nature, but we also rest in the Lord and look to Him to hold them close. We cling to those Scriptures that God has given us that speak to His holding us in His hand and preserving us in times of great temptation.
Can discipleship be fruitful with any model of schooling? Scripture states: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in our house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 6: 6-7, NKJV). God is certainly able to work through many types of education, however, I believe it requires more effort and struggle for parents to carve out the time that leads to obedience of this command when the children are away 8 to 10 hours a day. If I had followed another route, I dare say I would have sinned even more in being incomplete in keeping this command.
Bruce and I have stated many times that the question is not quality time verses quantity time as one needs mounds of quantity time to achieve a fraction of quality time. Most quality time is more like a butterfly that lands unexpectedly on our shoulder, than an event we can create at will, though we should strive to do that as well. We are working, teaching, sinning, forgiving, side-by- side, day in and day out, and than those precious moments light. A child takes a first step, and we see it. A child reads his first words, and we hear it. A child asks why the sky is blue, and we share about the God of Scripture who created it and us.
Obviously, the list of great, Biblically related suggestions on how to disciple our children is lengthy, but certainly striving to root them in Scripture, teaching them to stand alone, and praying without ceasing are among the most important activities of discipleship. Years ago we decided we were homschooling to increase our chances of passing our faith and values on to our children. I believe this parent directed, private and Christ centered path affords us more opportunity to share God’s Word, and more hours in the day for each family member to “be taught by the Lord” in these and other areas of discipleship. Due to God’s sustaining grace during this incredible journey, the answer to the question, “Got disciples?” is “Yes,” and much to our amazement, Bruce and I have been “taught by the Lord” in this journey as well.
This article appeared originally in the CHAP (Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania) Magazine, Summer 2010.
Mary Ann Eagleson and her husband Bruce have homeschooled their four children since 1981. Though all are graduated now, they did some variation of college at home with all of them and continue to disciple one another. They serve on the Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania (CHAP) and Alliance of Christian Home Education Leadership (The Alliance) boards. Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgRETURN TO TOP
College Professor Critiques Homeschoolers
by Greg Landry, M.S.
College Professor Critiques Homeschoolers
I teach sophomore through senior level college students—most of them are “pre- professional” students. They are preparing to go to medical school, dental school, physical therapy school, etc.
As a generalization, I’ve noticed certain characteristics common in my students who were homeschooled. Some of these are desirable, some not.
- Homeschooled students are independent learners and do a great job of taking initiative and being responsible for learning. They don’t have to be “spoon fed” as many students do. This gives them an advantage at two specific points in their education; early in college and in graduate education.
- They handle classroom social situations (interactions with their peers and professors) very well. In general, my homeschooled students are a pleasure to have in class. They greet me when they enter the class, initiate conversations when appropriate, and they don’t hesitate to ask good questions in class. Most of my students do none of these.
- They are serious about their education and that’s very obvious in their attitude, preparedness, and grades.
AREAS WHERE HOMESCHOOLED STUDENTS CAN IMPROVE
- They come to college less prepared in the sciences than their schooled counterparts—sometimes far less prepared. This can be especially troublesome for pre-professional students who need to maintain a high grade point average from the very beginning.
- They come to college without sufficient test-taking experience, particularly with timed tests. Many homeschooled students have a high level of anxiety when it comes to taking timed tests.
- Many homeschooled students have problems meeting deadlines and have to adjust to that in college. That adjustment time in their freshman year can be costly in terms of the way it affects their grades.
MY ADVICE TO HOMESCHOOLING PARENTS
- If your child is even possibly college bound and interested in the sciences, make sure that they have a solid foundation of science in the high school years.
Begin giving timed tests by 7th or 8th grade. I’m referring to all tests that students take, not just national, standardized tests.
I think it is a disservice to not give students timed tests. Students tend to focus better and score higher on timed tests and they are far better prepared for college and graduate education if they’ve taken timed tests throughout the high school years.
In the earlier years the timed tests should allow ample time to complete the test as long as the student is working steadily. The objective is for them to know it’s timed yet not to feel a time pressure. This helps students to be comfortable taking timed tests and develops confidence in their test-taking abilities.
- Give your students real deadlines to meet in the high school years. If it’s difficult for students to meet these deadlines because they’re coming from mom or dad, have them take “outside” classes: online, co-op, or community college.
Build on the strengths that homeschooling offers and send your students to college fully prepared and a step ahead of most other students.
© 2009, Greg Landry
Greg Landry is a 15-year veteran homeschool dad and former college professor. His daughters are now college students. He is founder and director of Landry Academy, which offers over 150 live online classes, mission trips, U.S. bus trips, and more for homeschooled students.RETURN TO TOP
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