Skip College?

cap and gownIt is hard to believe that my eldest is a college graduate with a BS in Psychology and a minor in music.  She finished her studies just shy of her 21st birthday and is now working to save money for grad school, studying for the GRE, leading classes for homeschool students,  planning her next international travel adventure, and for added fun auditioning at local community theatres.

My daughter never stepped into a traditional brick and mortar classroom until her first day of dual enrollment college classes at the local community college during her junior year of high school.  She homeschooled from Kindergarten all the way to high school graduation.  She was accepted into every college she applied to, earned scholarships, performed well on the SAT and ACT tests and passed the CHSPE at the ripe old age of 15.

Why do I share all of this?  It is my prayer that it will ease your fears.  Yes, you can successfully homeschool your child, even through the high school years.  And yes, your student will be well prepared for sophisticated academic pursuits at the college level – IF he or she decides to go to college and IF it is God’s plan for her to attend a four-year university!

Statistically speaking, homeschoolers perform on average or above average on standardized college entrance exams and are accepted into top-tier universities at the same rate as traditional students.  They also have the same or better university graduation rate as their traditionally schooled peers.  It is clear home education prepares students for college.

But dare I say not all high school students need to go to college!  Yes, I said it and I’m sticking by it!  I hate the expression, “He’s just not college material.”   The implication is that the student isn’t smart enough to succeed in college.  Hog wash!  I think the more accurate expression is “He doesn’t need college material to succeed!”  Not all students need college degrees.  Not all students need a college education to succeed in life and in the workforce.  If your child wants to be a doctor, an engineer, a therapist, a lawyer, an accountant or a teacher, then yes, a degree and certification are necessary, therefore, college is in his future!  However, in today’s modern workforce and in the age of information, many jobs, skills, and careers can be learned via internships, apprenticeships, internet, or trade schools.  Experts also predict that many of the jobs our students will possess have not even been invented yet!

disney-traditions.jpgAh, I hear you saying, “My son at least needs a degree of some kind just to get his foot in the door of any company or job.”  Dare I say, this is no longer true.  Mega companies like Apple, Google, and IBM no longer require a degree for higher- level and higher- paying jobs.  Then there are companies like Nordstroms, Disney, Home Depot, and Lowes that allow employees hired at entry- level positions to move up to the highest ranks of their companies, withOUT a degree.   Don’t forget about companies like Starbucks and Chick-fi-La that encourage their employees to train for manager positions and then encourage them to own their own IMG_6586franchises in the future.  In today’s market, creative and hard- working individuals who have an entrepreneurial spirit can build a portfolio, invent a new app, start a new company, publish their own book, produce their own album, or get paid just for using social media.  Some of the world’s greatest thinkers and inventors dropped out of college or skipped college altogether to pursue their dreams and passions or to develop a business model they started during their high school years.

Dare I say it again- Not all high schoolers need to go to college!  It takes just as much courage to NOT attend college in order to pursue a passion or to start a new business as it takes to attend college and pursue a college degree.  If your student needs a degree or wants to attend college, then go for it!  My daughter loved college so much she intends to pursue a master’s degree and perhaps even her Phd.  But her calling requires a degree (or two).  If your student wants to pursue an acting career, a sports career, a writing career or even an art career, consider skipping college.  If your student has no idea what he wants to do, or he has tons of ideas of what he wants to do, then consider skipping a four -year university.  Attend community college to save money and explore options.  Attend a trade school to learn a dying art or to get certified in welding, woodworking, or mechanics.  Find a mentor or an expert in a field for your son or daughter to train under.  Then encourage your teen to work his/her way up the ladder.  Not going to college does not limit their career possibilities; it might just make the possibilities endless!

skip collegeIf one of the main reasons you decided to homeschool was to instill in your child a love of learning, then one option might be to allow that child to use his ability to learn and to use his natural curiosity in the workforce instead of on a college campus.  If you are still not convinced it is ok to say “It’s okay to skip college” then I highly recommend you read the book Skip College:  Launch Your Career Without Debt, Distractions or a Degree by Connor Boyack.  You will be pleasantly surprised.  Boyack does not speak poorly of college. He actually spends the first few chapters discussing how important it is to determine IF college is something you want or need to do.  Then he spends the rest of the book speaking to the person who has decided to skip college.  The book is full of logical reasons to skip college and great ideas on how to succeed in the workplace without a college degree.

Where is God calling your teen to go?  What is God calling your teen to do?  Pray, pray and pray some more!  Then begin exploring other options for your teen who may want to skip college.  If your teen is ready, willing and able to step onto the campus for the academic rigor of a four -year university, then be assured your decision to homeschool high school will give him all of the tools he needs to get accepted and to succeed in college.  If, however, you feel God is leading your high schooler on a different track, one that does not necessarily involve the traditional college experience, take heart.  God designed your teen.  He knows his strengths.  He ignited those passions in his heart.   Be open to the fact that God’s plan for your teen’s life may not look like the plan you had envisioned.  Listen to your teen’s heart.  Listen to the soft whispers of the Holy Spirit.  Rest assured your decision to homeschool high school will also give him all of the tools he needs to follow his passions, learn important skills, and succeed in the workplace.  Perhaps skipping college is just what God is calling your teen to.

God bless,

Carrie

**For more information on how to homeschool the high school years to prepare your teen for either college or the workforce, attend our special weekend for homeschooling moms on March 27th and 28th. On Friday evening, our first session is “How to Homeschool High School.”  Our panel of homeschool graduates will share their high school journeys, what they did (traditional and non-traditional) to meet the CA requirements, what they are doing now in the workforce and/or on the college campuses, and how homeschooling through high school helped each of them achieve their personal, academic and spiritual goals.  Dads and teens are invited to attend Friday night’s session.  Special Guests- Carolyn and Martin Forte.**

Click here for more information or to register

Click here to register.

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Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember

give thanks psAs we move closer to Thanksgiving, I wanted to share with you one of our favorite past posts: THANKSGIVING: Joshua’s Memorial Stones.

I am ever so grateful for God’s faithfulness.  As I look back on 2019, I abundantly see God’s fingerprints and handiwork everywhere.  We have so much to be thankful for.  I am looking forward to remembering, sharing and honoring God’s faithfulness in this year’s Thanksgiving “Memorial Stones.”

It is my prayer this past post blesses you.  Please share with your homeschooling friends who may need a word of encouragement this week.

May God richly bless your homeschooling journey for His honor and glory,

Carrie

Are You A Runner?

head between kneesAre you a runner?  I must admit I am not, at least not in the literal sense!  I have never enjoyed running as a form of exercise.  However, I am guilty of being a runner.  My first reaction to fear is to run!  When I am faced with confrontation, disappointment, betrayal, bad news, or failure, my gut instinct is to run and hide.  I seek solitude, and I run away from people.

Are you a runner?  In the Book of Jonah (chapters 1-2), God gave Jonah a calling he didn’t want.   Jonah had his reasons.  He didn’t agree with God’s plans.  He didn’t particularly like the reasons for God’s commands.  He didn’t think he was the right man for the job.  But God made Jonah’s calling clear:  Go to Ninevah and tell the people to repent.  Nineveh was 500 miles northeast of where Jonah was at the time.   So what does Jonah do?  He runs!  He runs (well more like sails) to Tarshish which is almost 2000 miles west in Spain.  That is a 2500 mile “gap” between God’s call and Jonah’s heart.  God said, “Go east.” Jonah said, “No way!  I’m going west.”  Jonah was a runner too!

On most days, I love homeschooling!  On most days, learning alongside my family fills my heart with all kinds of wonderful feelings.  I love their “ah ha!” moments, their breakthroughs, or hearing their silly laughter echoing in the halls.  But on some days, I want to run!  It’s hard. It can be painful.  It’s not what I was expecting. It’s hard to get out of bed when I am riddled with pain, when I have one more Dr. appointment to go to, when my family is dealing with a death, or my depression rears its ugly head again.  It’s painful to see my child struggle with school, with his confidence, with his self-image, or with disappointment or heartbreak.  For you, perhaps you are dealing with a broken relationship, taking care of a baby and/or your aging parents, or trying to pay the pile of bills stacked up on your desk.  In all honesty and with complete transparency, some days (or weeks or even months) are not exactly how I was expecting our homeschooling to go. So I run!

The problem with my running is the direction in which I choose to run.  I run away and hide.  Often I’m full of shame at feeling this way or for feeling like a failure.  I run away from friends who I know want to help or who can offer sound advice. I run away from the problem, the confrontation, the disappointment.  Sometimes I feel like Forest Gump who just kept running and running and running.   But it is ok to be a runner!  We just need to run in the right direction and for the right reasons.  Instead of running AWAY from my problems, I need to run TO the arms of my heavenly Father.  It is on these horrible, terrible, no-good very bad days, I need to run (and run as fast as I can) to Jesus and His Word.  I may stumble, I may fall, and I may even have an ugly cry as I hit the floor in yet another face plant, but at least I’m running in the right direction.  I may still need to seek solitude but at least I’m inviting God into the space to hold me, guide me, and cover me.

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One of my favorite stories is of 1992 Olympic runner, Derek Redmond, and how he finished his race with the help of his father.  Injured and in pain, Redmond finished the race as his father embraced him and held him up.  Get some kleenex and watch this beautiful moment and  standing ovation Redmond and his father received: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhdoTThn5mw

It’s ok to be a runner, but don’t run in the direction of Jonah.  Don’t create a 2500 mile gap between God’s plans and your plans.  On the really bad days, don’t run alone!  On the days you feel like running, think about in what direction you are running.  On the bad days, are you running away from God and His calling for you to be a homeschool mom or are you running towards God knowing that in His perfect timing and in His perfect way, you will finish the race and you will finish it strong.

run enduranceOn those bad days, think about why you are running.  Are you homeschooling to run away from something (bad school policies, toxic educational environments, immoral curriculums, inadequate services, ideological indoctrination, etc) or are you homeschooling so you can run to something better (making God’s Word focal point in learning, feeding curiosity,  building family relationships, investing time in passions and gifts, etc). If your homeschooling decision is based on running away from a school system, then you will always be running in fear.  If your homeschooling decision is based on running to something better, then your days will be filled with purpose.  If your homeschooling decision is based on running to what God has called you to do, then you can run with full confidence that God’s got your back (and He is actually paving the road before you if you will have the courage to see it and follow it!)

jonah 2-2 whale tailAre you a runner?  I am!  It is my prayer that when you and I run, we will run in the right direction.  I pray that on those bad days when we fill like running, hiding and giving up, we will run towards the finish line allowing our heavenly father to lift us up and will gain strength from the support and encouragement we are receiving from our friends and family on the sidelines.  Jonah eventually cried out to God for help and to no surprise, God was there to save him.  Let’s do this!  Let’s run together!

The holiday season is officially upon us, which means we begin to run in different directions.  Thanksgiving is a few weeks away, holiday decorations are already up, and Christmas music is already flooding the airways.  The pace of the holidays never seems to slow down.  This November, run with a grateful heart.  This December, run towards the reason for the season.  Take a break from your official homeschooling schedule to enjoy the holidays, the family visiting from out of town, and the hours of baking and cooking.  Trust me, the math facts, grammar books, and history projects will still be waiting for you in January.  Take time to play some games, drink some hot chocolate, eat some pie, and snuggle on the couch while reading some great books together.

May God richly bless your running for His honor and glory,

Carrie

homeschool adventure imagePlease join us March 27th & 28th as we will dig deeper into the Book of Jonah!  In our first Saturday morning session, The Jonah Journey:  When God’s Plans Don’t Match Ours  (Book of Jonah Study), Carrie De Francisco will share biblical principles from the Book of Jonah that can be applied to your ministry of motherhood and calling to homeschool.  Like Jonah, are you traveling this homeschooling journey kicking and screaming or are you running in the opposite direction filled with fear, doubts and down-right apprehension?  Has God called you to homeschool or has He called you to homeschool another year?  Don’t run away!  Accept the call!  And come to our special weekend for homeschooling moms!  In our first session, we will learn lessons from Jonah on how to be joyful (and obedient) when God’s homeschooling “itinerary” doesn’t match ours!  We will also jonah accept the calllearn from Jonah how anger, bitterness, unforgiveness and disobedience (even delayed obedience) can turn an adventure and a holy calling into a long, exhausting and even torturous trip.   For more information on our special weekend for homeschooling moms, check out theUpcoming Event” tab.  Early Bird Registration begins Jan. 1st!

 

Day of Dedication

I love FALL and starting school is one of my favorite times of the year!   I love shopping for new supplies, adding new books to our shelves, and reorganizing our study area!  (Not to mention all of the back to school shopping bargains at the $1 store, Target and Staples!)  There’s nothing like the sound of a crisp new book, a fresh new notebook with wrinkle-free white pages, or the smell of new highlighters.  Christmas for me comes in August when all of our new books arrive from Amazon!  I am giddy like a little kid on Christmas morning when I see our box of markers is actually full, the pencils are all sharpened and the backpacks are food-free, sock-free and trash-free!

With the beginning of a new year, comes the promise of traveling to far away, exotic (and sometimes even imaginary) worlds, finding new heroes to emulate, new music to master,  meeting new friends (in real life and in books) and sinking my teeth into a new challenge or hobby.  However, the most important thing I do even before planning our homeschool year or purchasing our new supplies is I cover our new school year in prayer!

Bible and coffeeFor those of you who attended our Homeschooling Mom Event last March, you heard me share a little bit about our “Day of Dedication.”  This is not only my favorite thing to do before school starts, but I consider it the most important thing to do before our studies begin.

DAY OF DEDICATION

First, if you have little ones, I strongly suggest you get your hubby on board or enlist a fellow homeschooling mom to help.  When my kids were younger, I would set one whole day aside in August.  My husband would take the kids on a fun, all-day outing so I could have the entire house to myself.

Second, I spread out all of the books, curriculum, class flyers, computer CD’s, etc on the family room floor.  I literally get on my knees, bow before my heavenly Father and pray over EVERYTHING.

  1. I pray that God will meet us each and every day in our lessons and in everything we will study.
  2. I pray that my family will meet God in a new way this coming year; that our knowledge, love, and devotion to Him and His Word would be deepened through all of our studies.  (Yes, I even pray God would not only help us get through math without tears but that my kids would see God in a new way through studying even math!)
  3. I pray that God’s plans, not mine, will prevail in the coming school year.  I pray that His will, not mine, will be done.
  4. I pray for the courage to really let God take control of our school year and that I would obediently and cheerfully take the passenger seat.
  5. I pray for God to give me discernment on what books, classes and/or curriculum are important to my child’s growth and development this year and which ones can or should be eliminated.  More isn’t always better!
  6. I then pray for the courage to remove the things from our schedules, our lessons, (and maybe even our lives) that are not God’s best for each child.

 

After I pray over our books and our plans, I then dedicate the year and all we do to the Lord.  Each year I find a verse I feel God is calling us to obey or a promise to claim.  I print the verse and put it on our refrigerator.  I put it in my Bible as a bookmark.  I write it on the inside of my son’s planner, and I keep it saved on my laptop as one of my screensavers.  I find having the verse everywhere reminds me to pray the verse and pray it often!   The Lord always makes it clear to me what our yearly verse should be and this summer was no exception.

As I began working on our next Homeschooling Mom Event in March (2020), I decided to teach from the Book of Jonah.  In my studies, Jonah 4:2 and Jonah 2:7 really stood out, so I highlighted it and moved on.  Then throughout the summer through sermons, personal bible studies and discussions with my family, I was reminded that God’s abounding love and grace is unconditional and limitless and that all I need to do is cry out to Him. I also felt God was reminding me that as a child of God, as one of His own, I needed to be more like Him.  God was calling me to more gracious, more compassionate, and slow to anger.  I needed to give love abundantly not only to my family but to those I serve in the homeschooling community.  So Jonah 4:2 is our family’s 2019-2020 family verse.  It is a promise and a command that I will cling to and try to obey this coming year.

Once I pick a family verse for the year, I pray the verse over our family and then dedicate our lives, our family and our school year to the Lord:  “May everything we do and say be for the honor and glory of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our heart be acceptable in His sight.   May the Lord bless us, keep us and shine his face upon us. May the Lord be gracious to us, turn his face upon us and give us peace”  (1 Cor 10: 31, Ps 19:14, and Numbers 6:24-26).  Each year, I also pray Ephesians 3:14-21 and insert my children’s name in each verse.

Next, I turn my attention to each child in particular.  With prayer, I write four to five goals for each child.  One is always a spiritual goal, one is usually a social or emotional goal, one is an academic goal and one tends to focus on character building.  As my kids matured, I included them in picking a spiritual goal, an extra academic goal and even a personal growth goal.  Now that my daughter is in college, I ask her what specifically she wants me to pray for her during the year.  Using these goals, I pray for God to reveal a personal verse for each child.  I look through my Bible and my journal for scripture verses that God had been sharing with me during the summer.  Once a verse is revealed, it becomes the child’s theme verse for the year.  I pray this verse for my child each morning as we prepare for school and each week as I plan lessons.  (Even though my daughter is in college, I still pick a bible verse to pray specifically for her during the semester.)  Sometimes I even include a personal bible verse I feel God is declaring as a promise for a particular child.

amazing creaturesFinally, I decide what our family devotions will look like for the year.  No two years have ever been the same.  A few years may have been similar but as the kids grew, their personalities developed, their character strengths (and flaws) become apparent, and our family schedules changed, so did our morning devotion time.  Every season of homeschooling has been different. Therefore, our family devotions were molded to meet our spiritual needs each year.

When the kids were young, we simply read a Bible story during family devotion time from either DK’s Illustrated Family Bible or The Child’s Story Bible by Vos.   I would switch back and forth different years for variety.  We would simply read the bible story, discuss what happened, what we can learn from the story and most importantly, how we could apply those truths that very day!  Some years I would pick a devotional that related to our main topic of study for the year. A few years we focused on Animal studies and zoology so we used God’s Amazing Creatures and Me by Haidle.  One year when the kids were older and they still loved animals, we used The Big Book of Animal Devotions by Coleman.  Not only were we learning about God’s creation but we were also connecting it to biblical truths.   Several years we “traveled” the world through history, art, science, math, and literature, so we used Window on the World by Spraggett.  We used it again in high school the year my son took Comparative Religions.  Each page gives a description of a particular culture or country and then gives ways to pray for that country.

window on the worldSome years we did Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) as a family so the kids and I would read the bible passages and answer the questions together.  Our favorite BSF studies were The Life of Moses (Exodus to Deuteronomy), Acts of the Apostles (an awesome study of Paul and most of his epistles) and The Gospel of John.  As the kids grew older, they each read independently either from their bibles or from a little devotional book.  When my son was middle school age, he loved The One Year Sports Devotional Book.  My daughter was always partial to anything related to the study of Esther!  Sometimes we would just pick an inspirational book we wanted to read as a family.  I would read a chapter during family devotion time and then we would discuss biblical truths and daily applications.   Some of our best discussions were sparked by Ben Carson’s biography, Gifted Hands, Tim Tebow’s book, Shaken, Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis and Heaven is for Real by Burpo.

website whole heartAs an added bonus, each summer I pick one of my favorite go-to homeschooling books to reread and to enjoy.  Some of my favorites by Sally Clarkson,  Sarah MacKenzie, and Dr. Raymond Moore have so many nuggets of truth and sound biblical advice that  I find rereading one of these books each summer inspires me and encourages me to begin fresh each school year.

 

DAY OF DEDICATION In a nutshell:

  1. Set aside a day for solitude, planning, and prayer.
  2. Pray over EVERYTHING that will be read, used and/or studied this coming school year.
  3. Pick a Bible verse to pray over your family, your home and your homeschooling this year.  Print it and place it in numerous places.
  4. On bended knee, pray and dedicate your school year to the Lord.
  5. Write 4-5 goals for each of your children.  Then with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, pick a bible verse and/or biblical promise for each of your children.  Use this verse to pray for and over each child during the school year.
  6. Choose a bible study and/or devotional you will use for family devotion time during the year.
  7. For fun, reread one of your favorite, go-to homeschooling books or author.
  8. Wait on the Lord and expect Him to do miraculous and wonderful things in the lives of your children and in your homeschooling journey this year.

May God richly bless your homeschooling adventure this year for His Glory,

Carrie D.

***Mark your calendars for March 27-28th.  If you live in the southern California area, we would love for you to join us for our next homeschooling mom event:  Homeschooling Adventures:  A Weekend to Refresh, Rest and Rejuvenate.  It will be a weekend of encouragement, refreshment, and fellowship.  At the conference, we will share more on the topic of how to prepare for a new homeschooling year as well as teach an in-depth study of the Book of Jonah.  For more information on the event and sessions, visit our tab “Upcoming Events.”  Make sure you “like” and “follow” our blog for monthly topics on Christian homeschooling and for updates on our early bird registration (Jan. 1st 2020) for our homeschooling mom event in March.***

Called Home

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If you have been called home to educate your own children, WELCOME to this wild and crazy adventure we call HOMESCHOOLING!  If you have been traveling this road less traveled for a few years now and God has called you to continue homeschooling, WELCOME BACK!

Like with most family trips, those traveling probably have different feelings about the trip.  You might be kicking and screaming as you begin your new homeschooling journey, you might be excited about the new possibilities that educating your own at home brings, or you might already be tired just thinking about what you need to “pack” as you prepare for another year of homeschooling.  In the past few years, there has been a mass exodus out of the traditional school system as many moms have felt the stirring of the Holy Spirit to come home and homeschool their own.  Many of us, who are already homeschooling, continue to hear the calling to stay home and to continue home educating our own.  No matter where you are on this homeschooling journey, have no doubt!

You were called home for a reason!  That reason may be abundantly clear to you, or you may still be struggling to figure out God’s master plan for your “call to come home.”  Where ever you find yourself today, rest in the assurance that God has called you home, and He has called you to HOMEschool.  As you embark on another (or your first) homeschooling adventure, take some time this summer to reflect on four key points about being “called home.”

First, what does homeschooling look like to you and your family?  It seems in the past few years the term “homeschooling” has been hijacked.  Today’s homeschooling doesn’t look much like the “vintage homeschooling” of yesteryears.  In the age of the internet, homeschool conventions, and abundant homeschool curriculum and class choices, it is tempting and super easy to do more of your homeschooling outside of the home.  Don’t get me wrong!  We are blessed with much freedom and flexibility in today’s homeschool culture.  However, we may find the freedom of homeschooling a paradox.  With so much freedom and flexibility, we can quickly and easily become slaves to it.

What do I mean?  Well, with so many wonderful curricula, classes, and co-ops to choose from, you may find yourself doing them all!  Is that a bad thing?  No, not really.  But can it steal your time, your freedom, your flexibility, your joy, and your pocketbook?  Most definitely, yes!  We might find ourselves so busy participating in all of the awesome educational opportunities available to us, that we are never really home to actually homeschool together- as a family.

car over packed“Vintage” homeschooling (Charlotte Mason verbiage) or “OG” homeschooling (igeneration terminology) looked very different to what homeschooling is morphing into today.  It is quite ironic that opponents of homeschooling criticize homeschoolers for not being out in the real world, for not learning how to “socialize,” and for not learning alongside their peers when in actuality today’s homeschooler is hardly ever home!  My neighbor used to joke with me every time the kids and I packed ourselves and our stuff into the car.   “Where are you off to today?  Are you sure you homeschool because you guys are never home!”  How true this is for many homeschoolers today.  And yes, because of this phenomenon, carschooling has become a thing!

My prayer for you this year is that you will be intentional about putting the home back into your HOMEschool.  You don’t need all of the bells and whistles.  You don’t need all of the charter funds and all the fancy classes. You don’t need all of the A-G and AP accredited classes.  It is absolutely ok to learn science and/or history together as a family.  It worked for Laura Ingalls Wilder and the pioneers of California homeschooling; it will work for your family too!  Don’t feel guilty that you are reading your way through history or that your older daughter is doing the same physical science experiment (or exploding mess) as her younger siblings, or that your morning hike was also your science lesson for the day.  You have permission to stay home as often as you want in order to learn together at home and as a family, and you have permission to take advantage of as many field trips as your heart desires (and pocketbook will allow).  It is perfectly fine to take a break one day (or even a whole week) from endless math workbook pages to spend the day playing number and strategy games instead.  Sometimes the brain just needs a little break to chew on and marinate in new concepts in order to understand and apply them.  It’s not only permissible but highly recommended and much needed that you follow God’s plans (not yours) for your day and for your teaching.  He called you home for a reason, so He will provide the wisdom, strength, and perseverance to get you through it.  And don’t forget to have some fun together and to get a little silly!

 

My challenge to you this school year is to reflect on how you can put the HOME back into your homeschool.  If you are new to homeschooling, my challenge to you is to not pack your days with so many activities and outside classes, that you never have time to enjoy the freedom of being HOME with your kids.

Second, what is the main reason you decided to homeschool?  I suspect it was a myriad of academic, social, and scheduling reasons: too much homework, sleep deprivation, wasted time, schoolwork not challenging enough, invasive secular worldview agendas, teaching to arbitrary standards, a wasteland of busy work, school safety (or lack thereof), mindless testing practices, inappropriate lectures, and /or array of mind-numbing books and textbooks.  However, I know the main reason the majority of us accept the call to homeschool is because we feel God is calling us to it.  We long to make God’s Word the focal point of our lessons, to use curriculum with a biblical worldview, and to teach values that are in line with our Christian beliefs.  In essence, we want to teach and live out Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

deut 6-7Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.  Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

seek first kingdomAs your schedules begin to fill up, curriculum begins to arrive, and autopilot begins to take over your car, take a moment to remember your calling and why you came home in the first place!  God first, then everything else.  Family first, then everything else.  Home first, then everything else.  Pray about ways you can keep God and His Word as the focal point this coming school year. Spend time in God’s Word and on your knees asking God what that might look like for you and your family this coming year.  I promise you won’t regret (and your children won’t mind) that you chose to not only learn together, play together, eat together, but to pray together, study God’s Word together and grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ together.

img_0729.jpgThirdly, find a support group you can call your “home away from home”!  Is it possible to take this homeschool journey alone?  Sure, but it is easier and more fun with others!  “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT).  Find like-minded moms who are on this homeschooling adventure to support you, pray for you, and even learn with you.  Finding a community is just as important for your kids as it is for you.  Sometimes it can feel like it is us against the world.  God calls us to fellowship and to do life in a community.  This year, make sure you find the time and make community a priority.

Finally, why has God called you home to homeschool?  Is it to mend a broken relationship?  Is it to work on character and heart issues?  Is it build family bonds?  Is it to keep God and His word a priority (or to make it a priority)?  Is it to pour into that strong-willed child?  Chances are the main reason you were called home to homeschool has very little to do with academics and everything to do with God.  Sometimes we don’t really fully understand God’s call home until much later in the journey.

This year’s theme for our special weekend for homeschooling moms is Homeschooling Adventures:  A Weekend to Rest, Refresh and Rejuvenate. “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths”  (Ps 25:4).  We will explore how to follow God’s path for educating our own at home and how to turn our homeschool calling into an adventure!  In keeping with our travel theme this year and the topic of this post, “Called Home,” I wanted to end with an important reminder about our walk with the Lord, our ministry of motherhood, and our homeschooling journey.

We are only sojourners here.  Our home and citizenship are in heaven.  (Phillippians 3:20).  If you stand out like a sore thumb doing what you are called to do or if you feel like you just don’t fit in because you are following God’s path for your family, that is a good thing!  So don’t set your mind on earthly things.  College acceptances, scholarships, academic accolades, musical and/or artistic excellence- they are definitely well-earned and well-deserved fruits of your mothering and homeschooling labor, but they are not the reason for your calling.  You are set apart, you are chosen, you a royal priesthood and a holy nation.  (1 Peter 2: 9-12).  Walk in the confidence that God’s plan for you and your family is exactly what your family needs in this season and step out in faith that home (with your kids) is exactly where you are supposed to be this year.  WELCOME HOME!

May God richly bless your homeschooling adventures this year for His glory,

Carrie De Francisco

For more information on our special weekend for homeschooling moms in March 2020, click on our “Upcoming Events” tab.  We hope you can join us!

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The Homeschool Unicorn

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While chasing down the elusive homeschool unicorn, how many of you have turned into a wild-eyed hampster on a perpetual spinning wheel?  Come on, you know what I’m talking about!  The Homeschool Unicorn is the perfectly groomed, serene mild-mannered magical mama who lovingly teaches her kids, prepares daily dreamy dinners, and grants wishes and makes dreams come true.  She whispers words of encouragement and never loses her cool.  She comes to the rescue of her husband, her fouls and friends and firmly stands in the gap to protect those she loves.  Her beautiful mane is flawless and flows in the wind while her eyes twinkle with joy, her hands are freshly manicured and her hindside is tight and firm.  There’s not a wrinkle to be found, a flabby roll to be seen, a hair out of place or a harsh word to be heard.  Why she wears so many hats her beautiful horn is never seen.  It is covered by her wife, mom, teacher, daughter, caregiver, ministry leader,   personal chef, and chauffeur hats.  This perfect, harmonious, selfless, beautiful creature is the Homeschool Unicorn!

hamster-wheelLet’s face it!  We all want to be her!  We spend countless hours reading books, searching the internet, going to conventions, and asking for advice to find this elusive creature.  Even after 20+ years of homeschooling, I know I still scour bookstores and constantly ask friends for advice on the perfect method, the perfect curriculum, or the perfect group.  While searching for the perfect Homeschool Unicorn, I have become that chubby, short-tempered, imperfect little hamster who perpetually runs in circles on my little hamster wheel hour after hour, day after day, and year after year!  Yes, searching for the Homeschool Unicorn turned me into the crazy little hamster.

Ok, just to be fair to my sweet family and friends who are reading this and saying, “Gosh, Carrie, you’re too hard on yourself!  You are a beautiful unicorn to us.”  Then I will not beat myself up and admit if I were a homeschool unicorn, it would be her!

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But still if I’m being honest, I think I really am the hamster on a perpetual spinning wheel!  Are you one of the crazy little hampsters on the wheel with me?  Grant it, I do have a few homeschooling mom friends who are pretty darn close to being that elusive Homeschool Unicorn but I’m pretty sure many of you see yourself on the wheel with me!

So what happened in the search to turn us into these crazy little furry creatures?  Comparison!  Let’s face, mamas!  We are experts at comparisons.  And it is hard not to compare.  The proverbial Jone’s don’t live next door anymore. They live on our computers 24/7 constantly reminding us how we don’t match up to their perfect little families, their perfect little homes, and their perfect little school rooms.  It is hard not to compare our crazy little families, messed up kitchens and incomplete workbooks and we are all guilty of it.  In our well-meaning efforts to be the best mom and teacher we can be, we left the lush pastures and cool waters and jumped on the crazy train (or should I say the crazy wheel).

Did you know the wheel doesn’t go anywhere?  Yeah!  I know!  I was ticked off too when I figured that out.  Did you know the unicorn is imaginary?  Yeah!  I know!  I was ticked when I figured that out too!  So what have I been chasing?  How in the world did I get on this hamster wheel and more importantly, how can get off this thing???!!!

hampster stoppedFirst, we need to stop peddling.  The wheel will come to a screeching stop if you just stop moving your feet.  ( I know, when my husband suggested it I couldn’t believe how simple it sounded.  It was almost too easy!)  So I stopped peddling (and all of the other movements too!)  I stopped waving my hand that said, “Wait for me!  We are joining you in that new awesome class even though my kids already take 5,000 other classes!”  I stopped wagging my finger that nagged, “You get that math done right this minute or I’ll…. I’ll do something and you won’t like it!”  I even stopped flapping my lips that said less than edifying and encouraging words.  I just stopped moving.

Second, we need to reach out to the hampster next to us on the crazy wheel and offer our hands.  You will be surprised how many of your friends want to get off the crazy wheel but since you are on it, they figure it must be the right wheel to be on.  Or perhaps they are just afraid to take the first step.  And while you are at it, take your husband and kids off of it too.  Chances are they have been in perpetual motion this past school year because you were in perpetual motion.  They may not even know how or when they got into the crazy wheel but all they know is they need help escaping too! So offer a hand, scurry of the wild and crazy ride, and take a friend (and your family) with you.

matt 11 weary burdanedFinally, take a deep breath.  Enjoy the fresh air outside of the cage and then run!  Run free!  Am I encouraging you to run away from homeschooling and to give it up?  No way!  I am encouraging you to homeschool the way God has called you to do it!  Every family is different which means every family’s homeschool days will look different.  God doesn’t want a bunch of perfect Jone’s.  He wants imperfect De Francisco’s who are made strong in His weaknesses.  He wants obedient Mayeur’s who trust in the Lord with all of their hearts and who do not lean not on their own understandings.  He wants faithful Gonzalez’s who believe He who has begun a good work in their children is faithful to complete it.  Whether God gently called you into this adventure we call homeschooling, He used neon signs and roadblocks to get you here, or He chased you down until you couldn’t ignore the call anymore, He who calls you, He will equip you.  God calls us to be faithful servants, not phenomenal teachers or perfect moms.  Did you catch that?  Let me say it again. God calls us to be faithful servants, not phenomenal teachers or perfect moms.   If we are faithful to our call (whether it looks like a perfect homeschool unicorn or an imperfect messy hampster), He will say at the end of this journey, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

psalm-23-2-3All you who are weary from the crazy homeschool hampster wheel and burdened by self-doubt and silly comparisons, come to Jesus.  He promises to give you rest.  This summer as you rest, relax and rejuvenate, unplug, unwind and undergo a whole new makeover.  Stop chasing the magical homeschool unicorn.  Get off the crazy homeschool hampster wheel.  Stop comparing yourself and your homeschooling calling to those around you. This summer, let God lead you to fresh waters.  He is calling you this summer to lie down in green pastures so He can refresh your soul.

Happy summer and may God richly bless your break for His honor and glory,

Carrie

 

 

 

Redeeming Lost Time & Ending the Year Strong

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—”  Joel 2:25

joel-225.jpgI remember sitting on the floor of the bathroom wondering when the morning sickness would subside.  I was well into my sixth month of pregnancy and the violent vomiting still plagued my mornings.  Since vomiting induces a vagal response in the body, I seize and pass out every time I gag or vomit.  My morning ritual in the bathroom would wipe me out for most of the day.    At this time, I was homeschooling my daughter, and my husband wasn’t working from home yet.  Needless to say, not much homeschooling or learning was taking place.  Well, at least that is what I thought and that is definitely how I felt.  Later that year, my son was born, and I was exhausted.  He never took a nap longer than 20 minutes.  One morning I noticed the back of the house was unusually quiet.  I rushed to see what was happening. To my surprise, my daughter was reading to my son.  Big deal right?  Well, it truly was a big deal for me.  I attempted to teach her to read during the year while I was pregnant but to no avail.  Between my exhaustion, passing out, and recovering from childbirth, we never really got much school work done.  I thought I had failed.  I thought we would have to catch up and work harder in the next school year.  However somehow along the way, my daughter figured it out.  She had learned to read.  All of the “fruit” and labor I thought were eaten up and wasted by the swarm of locust that “invaded” our home and homeschooling that year were actually redeemed and replenished by the Lord.  The past year was not wasted.  It had not been for not.  Through God’s power and grace, our school year was blessed and was fruitful.

 

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Fast forward a few years later.  My son was iron deficient, which manifested itself in some odd ways.  While my daughter and I attempted to do schoolwork, my son would try to eat any chalk, marker or crayon we were trying to use.  If we attempted to do schoolwork outside so my active son could run and play, he would eat the dirt instead of play in it.  After realizing this was due to an iron deficiency, we treated the problem and thought now we could actually get some schoolwork done.  Ha! The same baby who didn’t take naps as an infant still didn’t take naps as a toddler.  We tried to do important lessons in the afternoon while my son slept but that never really happened.  In the early years, we belonged to a homeschool group that required yearly standardized testing.  I hated that week, and I dreaded the scores this particular year.  I knew for sure the scores especially in math would come back beyond deficient.  Once again, God redeemed the time and the “fruit” eaten by the locust (or should I say, literally eaten by my son).  My daughter scored in the 90th percentile in just about everything.  Again, the Lord not only redeemed and replenished the year and the fruit, but He supplied an over and abundant crop.  

 

frustrated school workMany years later we discovered my son was dyslexic and had visual processing disorder.    I wrote about God’s provisions in our March post entitled “Miracles and Manna.”  While his fourth-grade year seemed to be eaten up by testing, tutoring, tantrums, toiling, and tears, the Lord gave us triumphs and a triple fold bumper crop at the end of the year.  We literally did nothing but intense reading therapy.  No math.  No science.  No history.   Just read alouds and Lindamood Bell.  Guess who skipped a grade in math the next year and started Algebra 1 in 7th grade?  Yep, the same kid who couldn’t memorize his facts (still can’t so thank you, Jesus, for calculators), who had no idea what day of the week it was and who had no concept of time management.  Where I felt like a failure, God stepped in and redeemed.  While the locust may have stripped me of my confidence and joy, they did not deplete my son’s.  The Lord gave back the weeks and months lost to testing and tutoring and in abundance.  Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful my son made huge strides in reading and somehow learned more math than I actually taught him.  But I am most thankful for what God did outside of schoolwork.  He redeemed my relationship with my son, restored his confidence, replenished my son’s strength to persevere,  and taught him to rely on God to get him through anything.

 

cup run overThere have been so many examples over the past eighteen years when I have ended the school year feeling like a failure, yet the year was restored by God’s grace.  There have been so many times I felt the homeschooling year was a waste, yet the year was redeemed by God’s mercy.  There have been so many years I believed the fruit had been destroyed, yet the year was replenished and multiplied by God’s faithfulness!  This school year has not been an exception.  It has been a year of loss and mourning, but God has turned “my mourning into dancing … and [He] has taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy”  (Psalm 30:  11).  It has been a year of betrayal and brokenness, yet the Lord has “bestowed on [me} a crown of beauty instead of ashes” (Isaiah 61:3).  And yes, it has been a year of wasted hours and stolen minutes, however, God has promised me he will “restore the years that the locust has eaten… Behold [He is] sending grain, wine and oil, and [I} will be satisfied… The threshing floor shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. . . . [We} shall eat in plenty and be satisfied”  (Joel 2:  18-26).  

 

holy groundAt the beginning of this school year, God commanded me to remove my sandals because my family was standing on holy ground.  It was our verse for the year, and I knew this year would be consecrated to the Lord.  While I didn’t understand why and did I know how,  I just knew God was promising that this year would be special and set apart for His honor and His glory.  As our family’s school year comes to a close, it is now obvious to me that God had bigger and better plans for my daughter, my son, my family, our homeschooling and for me.  “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9).  My feeble,  weary, and skeptical little mind and my sinful, hurting heart could not even fathom the plans God had for our year and how He would restore the lost year “eaten by locust.”

 

joel-225As your school year comes to an end, do you also feel this was a “locust year” (or a lost year)?  Do you find yourself full of regrets?  Are you full of guilt about things not done or full of shame about things said?  Has this been a year you have lost a loved one either through death, divorce or betrayal?  Has this been a year of rebellion and constant repetition of reprimands?  Does it seem like you are dealing with the same heart issues that only seem to get worse instead of better?  Or do you feel this has just been a year of waste- wasted time, wasted effort, wasted money, wasted forgiveness?

 

well done faithfulI am here to remind you that NOTHING is wasted in God’s economy.  After much pain and loss, God rewarded Job’s faithfulness. “The Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before”  (Job 42: 10).  Jesus’ work on the cross was not in vain.  He came to give us life and life in abundance (John 10:10).  If this year has been a year of plenty, rejoice and praise the Lord for His favor.  If this year has been a year of loss, rejoice and praise the Lord too!  Trust me, it may seem like your year, your efforts, your blood, sweat, and tears produced nothing, but I know our God is a powerful God.  Nothing is impossible for Him.  He will turn your mourning into dancing.  He will turn your ashes into beauty.  He will restore the years eaten by locust.  He will turn to you at the end of this school year and your homeschooling journey and say “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”  (Matthew 25: 23).

 

feet in the sand.jpg.600x315_q67_crop-smartEnd this year strong knowing God is ultimately in control.  Then pack away the textbooks and start your summer break.  Remove your sandals.  Lift your hands in praise and bow on bended knee.  Remember the good days and wait on the Lord to redeem the bad ones.  Relish in the warmth of the summer sunshine. Sink your feet into the sands of the beach as you enjoy your much-needed and much-deserved break.  Let the gritty sand rub away the hardness that developed over the course of this year and let the waves wash away your guilt, shame, and regrets.  Summer is here!  It is time to share in your master’s happiness for a year a faithful service.

God bless and enjoy your summer,

Carrie

**Visit our website and subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss exciting news about next year’s special weekend for homeschooling moms!  We will be announcing the date and theme soon!  If you have a homeschooling friend who is feeling discouraged, please share this month’s post with her.**