Do Schools Kill Creativity? {TED Talk}

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I recently listened to this TED talk while getting ready one morning. As a homeschooling mom, one of the many benefits of this type of education is being able to tailor lessons according to my children’s interests. My son loves playing the piano, and the hours he has spent doing so would not have been available to him if we did not homeschool. Likewise, we would not have been flexible to take trips to see relatives or visit historical sites together had it not been for homeschooling. There is certainly a place for traditional education – one must be able to read, write, and do math to survive in the world. But education is so much more than the three “r’s”.

Sir Ken Robinson presents these ideas in a concise and humorous way in this video. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

*Note: The book he mentions, Epiphany, was published under the title The Element. I hope to read it in the near future.

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Lessons I’ve Learned as a Homeschooling Mom


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My first child is graduating in a little over a hundred days. It seems like yesterday that we began this journey of learning together. I can still see her in the little school desk that Great-Grandma Saylor gave us. I can see her tiny hands, her blonde bangs, her big smile that revealed baby teeth. I can hear myself say, “Welcome to the first day of Kindergarten!” to my one and only pupil. She was grinning from ear to ear, and I was too.

The experience has been full of highs and lows. I can remember getting so frustrated (and feeling like a failure) because she couldn’t read a blend, or remember what 6 + 2 was. I can remember all the laughs we had trying to think of ways to recall spelling words or rules of math. I remember all the times we snuggled up, enjoying a book together.  I can vividly recall the joy I felt when she learned to read well, and then later, when she loved to read (and feeling stupid for worrying that she couldn’t read that blend in first grade). I remember beaming as I read one of her essays in 6th grade, or feeling warmth in my heart as she expressed her opinion on a part of history, or a piece of literature…she was thinking, and debating. Those are good things for us to do. She has helped me see the other side of many issues, and maybe a few times, she’s even been right. 😉

I have had a front row seat to everything she has learned, and it’s been wonderful. Frankly, I don’t want it to end. I’m grateful that she won’t be leaving soon, because her absence would leave a gaping hole in my life. She is planning on attending a university in our town, so I am excited about having a front row seat to her college experience, too. I’m also happy that I have four more children to love on, read with, listen to, and from whom I can learn even more lessons. Here a few of them:

  1. Walking with the Lord is the secret to everything in life, especially homeschooling. As a Christian, it didn’t take long to see that I can’t do much – homeschooling, or anything else – without spending time with the Lord, mostly on my knees. I can remember so many times over the years that I have lost my cool while trying to explain something, or overreacted to a situation. I can remember saying the wrong things to my children and seeing that pained look in their eyes. In pains me now to think of it! All I can do is cry out to God for help and forgiveness. I do the best I can, but I must depend on the Lord’s mighty power to do as He pleases in their lives. And that is my prayer! I pray they will be saved, and I tell them the gospel. The rest is, and will be, the Lord’s doing.
  2. Asking my children to forgive me is hard, but worth it. As I mentioned above, I often do the wrong things or say the wrong things to my children. I ask the Lord to forgive me, and I ask them to forgive me, too. I used to say things like, “I’m sorry for snapping at you, but I’m just so tired.” Then I realized that by saying “I was just so tired,” that I was giving myself a free pass to have done wrong. It’s hard to say, “I’m sorry I snapped at you. I have no excuse. Please forgive me.” It’s humbling, and it’s not my favorite thing to do at all, but the benefits are beyond description.
  3. Starting the day with spiritual things is paramount. Over the years, I have done everything from starting the day with a short prayer with the children, to reading a chapter of Proverbs. Currently, we are reading one chapter out of a devotional series each morning. When I finish it, I am not sure what I will do next. But what I do isn’t as important as doing something. Prayer, Bible reading or memorization, it’s all crucial and should be first thing each day. If I teach my children to read, but do not read to them the greatest words ever written, the Bible, then I have lost a golden opportunity to plant Gospel seeds in their hearts.
  4. Homeschooling moms must be disciplined. There must be some type of schedule, it can be any kind, starting any time of day, but it must be consistent. Children thrive with a schedule. It offers security and stability and makes motherhood easier. It’s hard to get up and get going at the same time and do the same things for 170+ days of the year, but it’s vital to success.
  5. The most important lessons are not in textbooks. I love to learn, and knowledge is important. But what good is knowledge if your kid is a jerk who can’t share, show respect, or work with others? My favorite quote is by the gold medal winning ice skater, Scott Hamilton. He said, “The only disability is a bad attitude.” Amen to that. My uncle is a paraplegic. He is also a farmer who owns thousands of acres of land. He grows wheat, soybeans, milo, corn, and he owns cattle. He is handicapped…or is he? He never complains, he rises before dawn, works long ours in the heat/rain/wind. He uses his upper-body strength to climb up into tractors and combines. He doesn’t quit. He tells a joke better than anyone I know. I smile just thinking about him. He has a good attitude and that has made all the difference. He has been an outstanding example to my children over the years as I have tried to teach them what makes the difference between average and above average. All I have to say is, “Look at Uncle Gary.”

My children make each day an adventure! I love being with them. I have a lot of excitement in my life because I am a homeschooling mom.

And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

With love,

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Remember Me?

Hi! My name is Valerie. Thanks for stopping by!

Life has been so busy lately that I almost feel like I need to introduce myself again and start over from scratch with this blog. I mentioned in a previous post that our family decided to throw caution to the wind and participate in our homeschool group’s co-op classes, which are held once a week. Co-op only lasts about three hours, but the toll it has taken on my schedule has been seismic. (I guess I didn’t realize how rigid I was in scheduling department. Oops.) The kids are loving their classes which include art, P.E., volleyball, and choir for the younger ones; computer science, knitting, and young entrepreneurs for the older ones. I help out in two classes. We just completed our fourth week and are finally adjusting to the change.

I have also been working part-time at our church as my husband’s secretary. I am responsible for packing and mailing the Watchman Press materials and helping to get them printed. I am currently typing four Sunday school lesson books written by Bro. Forrest Keener, a former pastor of Bethel who labored here for over 40 years. The books need updating, and that’s taking a lot of work. I am not a fast typist and I homeschool the kids every day, so my hours have been confined to a few days a week in the afternoons. I have completed one book. Yep! Only three to go. Between homeschooling, house work, and church work, I have been too tired to do my favorite hobby: blog!

In the few minutes I have right now between loads of laundry and supper time, I wanted to stop in and say hello and share a few photos of our school year so far. (Some of these pics are from as far back as August…I’m behind in everything these days.)

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Matt with an art project.

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Working hard. Definitely had to bronze this moment.

laci-everything-is-matterLaci did a little science project, demonstrating that “Everything Is Matter”.

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Matt with two of his books for first grade. The book on the left was used by each of the kids. Lots of memories sitting beside them, helping them sound out words, fighting sleep. *sigh* Good times.

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Here’s Mitch working on a science project.

Matthew has been learning some poems for first grade. He doesn’t always want me to video him, but he said I could for this most recent poem, “The Secret”.

Moments like these make homeschooling worth every minute.

I have also had less and less time for my second favorite hobby – reading. I have a few books to write about, and I do hope I can do that soon.

The dryer buzzed…gotta run. 🙂

THANK YOU for reading!

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Back To School {2016-2017}

Today was our first day back to school after taking a wonderful summer break. We hiked, visited the Great Plains Museum, enjoyed ice cream and trips to the park, and we textured and painted all the bedrooms! It’s been a great summer, but now it’s time to get back to the school routine.

This year is Lauren’s last year of high school. It seems like only a few days ago that we were beginning the homeschool journey together, both of us unsure of what it would be like. We certainly have had our ups and downs! She is now preparing for college. On one hand, I feel relieved that, by the grace of God, we did it. On the other hand, I’m not quite ready to close this chapter. Fortunately, I have another nine months before I do. Maybe I’ll be ready. *sigh* Maybe.

We snapped some photos, measured everyone, prayed, handed out assignments, and began. Most of the children are excited today, but we all know it will wear off shortly.

Last year was a busy one for me due to the children using a variety of curricula. I have simplified things this year by using only three main curricula – ACE, Abeka, and Saxon. While I loved using Notgrass History, it was time consuming. I hope this year will give me a bit of breathing room between subjects.

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Lauren, a SENIOR!

Mitch-schoolMitchell, 9th grade.

Leslie-schoolLeslie, 6th grade.

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Laci, 4th grade.

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Matthew, 1st grade.

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Our annual group photo (Matthew asked to hold his gun).

We got through at a decent time today and everyone did well. It’s always nice when the first day goes off without a hitch.

Thanks for reading,

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Spring Soccer {2016}

We just finished our spring soccer season at the end of May. The kids love the fun of getting exercise, practicing a sport, and, of course, seeing their friends. Here are a few photos of our season:

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All ready to play!

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Mitch was goalie for a while.

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Sister (74) against brother. Lauren and Mitch were on different teams this year.

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Matthew was hot and tired during Lauren and Mitchell’s game. I think he created a head-hammock!

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Lauren was also goalie for her team for a while. The teams were tied at the end, so they played till “sudden death”. This meant that each team had three chances to kick it into the goal, and whoever scored a point first instantly won the game. Lauren was goalie for her team on sudden death and successfully stopped all three goals. This was the first time five seasons, her team won! It was a day of mixed emotions because that meant that Mitch’s team lost, but we were all happy for Lauren.

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Leslie’s unit was really exciting to watch. The teams were very evenly matched which was great. I just liked this picture of Leslie (27) and her friend Luke running for the ball. If you look closely, you can see the camera caught bits of grass flying up from their cleats. I just thought that was neat.

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Leslie’s team won a very close game! I was so proud of all the kids and their hard work. This was also the unit that Terry coached, so that added to my joy.

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Laci played well, even on her soggy field. We had a lot of rain, for which we are grateful, but it didn’t make for prime soccer field conditions.

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This was Matt’s first time to play in an organized soccer unit. He really had fun, and I had so much snapping photos of these adorable kids in their cute little uniforms!

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He looks so serious, but he was ready to strike a pose at a moment’s notice, as you’ll see below.

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Last but not least, I can’t forget to show my favorite soccer coach. One week, Matt’s team finished early, and Matt was only too happy to be Terry’s helper on the U-12 soccer field.

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He was an enthusiastic assistant.

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And this photo just about sums up how we feel about soccer.

Thanks for reading!

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Another Year of Learning

It’s hard to believe that we are done with yet another school year. This one has been particularly difficult for me. Last year I had one in Kindergarten, one almost finished with school, and three grades in between. I felt overwhelmed for most of the school year and never really found my “groove”. Matthew needed my help with everything – since he had never officially been in school before – and I had my hands full with lesson plans, teaching/helping, and grading for the others.

My emotions over teaching Kindergarten for the last time, and seeing one finish her Junior year of high school, were at times too much for me to handle. Tears were shed, in private of course. I felt like I did my worst year of teaching ever. I also felt more frustrated and inferior for the task at hand than ever before. Fortunately for me, I have felt this way at nearly every task I’ve faced in my life, including my own school days, so I knew what to do and where to go: to the Lord!

My Heavenly Father sustained my weary mind and soul all these months. He helped me find a rhythm for each day – even if it was a different one every day. He blessed me with a wonderful husband who let me vent, gave me guidance in tough situations, and was always ready to say, “You’re doing fine.”  I cherished the moments of having my children around me, which was one of the main reasons I wanted to homeschool in the first place; I wanted to be with my children as much as possible, to watch them learn, to see them grow.

As I filled out report cards and filed away samples of their progress, I realized that they did learn. They didn’t just learn facts and figures, but they learned about getting along, about giving, about facing a struggle and meeting it head-on. They learned about being flexible when sickness stole a few of our school days. They had great experiences in sports and music. They learned facts, too, but the most important lessons were not in textbooks. As I reviewed the year, I realized that it was okay. It wasn’t perfect, but it was enough.

I have tried to find  our  my weakest areas, and work on solutions. I am fully expecting next year to bring all new challenges, but I hope that I have found detours around the old ones for the new school year.

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First day of school, August 17, 2015

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Last day of school, May 19, 2016

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Leslie was proud of the stack of vocabulary word cards she had made throughout the year.

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Our walls were bare and boring in the beginning, but they are full and colorful at the end. The kids accomplished a lot this year.

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I don’t have a Kindergartener anymore! Here is Matt with some of his crafts.

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A few more of his art pieces. He has a bursting folder of all of his art work.

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I am thankful for the opportunity to homeschool my children. It has not always been easy. I know I could send the kids off to school and find a job and help Terry with the bills to make life a little easier or more comfortable for us. But the years with my children are so few and so short, that I couldn’t bear to miss them. God has blessed my desire by providing for us in miraculous ways. In fact, just to share all of those blessings would require another blog post.

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. ~ Psalm 103:1

The kids have finished another year of learning…and so have I.

With love,

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Maintaining a High View of God at Home

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The status on Facebook said something like, “Aced my exam, bills paid, gas in the car, thanks, Big Guy.” I cringe at the words  even now as I see them on the screen. It hurt me to read it all those years ago, and it hurts me still. The girl who wrote it was trying to thank God for her blessings. Her intentions were good, her follow-through was not. “Big Guy” might be what you call your son or nephew, but not the thrice Holy God of the Bible.

Today, however, God’s name and that of His Son, is bandied about as though it were a toy. I see it slung around on all forms of social media. The worst part about it is that I catch myself becoming desensitized to it also. I am trying to become more aware, as much as a mere human being can, at the reverence (or lack thereof) that I show the Lord. I am guilty of laughing at church humor on Twitter and Facebook, and I think that some of it can be laughed at without being disrespectful, yet, there is a time and place for humor, and there is a fine line between the two. I suppose at this point in my life, I’d rather err on the side of being “too serious” (though I’m a long way from that!) rather than being “too flippant”. This media-age is sickening though. People post photos of souls “they” have led to Christ, a person actually “praying the sinner’s prayer” with another, people praying at the altar with captions reading, “Look what God has done!” The problem with all of that is that you don’t really want people to see what God has done, you want us to see your part in what God is doing. You preached the sermon, or you sang the solo, or you invited him to church or “led” that soul to Christ – the emphasis is really on the created, not the Creator. And you know, if the one you invited to church wants to share on social media that you were a blessing to their life, then great! God’s Word says, Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips. – Proverbs 27:2 

As I have worked to become more aware of this problem in my life, I was startled several weeks ago at the poem which my daughter was supposed to memorize for her 11th grade English class. It was called “The Creation”. We use a Christian publisher for our homeschooling materials, and 99% of the time, I’m in agreement with the content. That day, however, as I heard her read this three-page poem, I gasped! Here is the part that stunned me:

Then God sat down

On the side of a hill where He could think;

By a deep, wide river He sat down;

With His head in His hands,

God thought and thought,

Till He thought, “I’ll make me a man!

I realize that there is a certain poetic license that is used freely in literature, but when writing about the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, it is not appropriate to invoke the image of Him in distress. God never sat down, with His head in His hands. He never had to “think and think”. God is not at all like man. God’s Word says man was made in the likeness of God, not that God was made in the likeness of man. He is far, far above what the human mind -even the greatest minds of our day! – could comprehend. I had Lauren skip this poem. It may seem minute, but I used it as a teaching moment. Granted, it’s not much of a lesson in a world replete with disrespect for our Lord, but it’s something. I am trying very hard to maintain a high view of God in my life, and in my home. I want my children to reverence their elders and I definitely want them to reverence the Lord.

With love,

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