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Homeschool Horizons Canada’s Homeschool Encouragement Magazine

Volume 2, Issue 3 - January 2013

< Facing Life’s Challenges > * Living Legacy * The Guilt Bomb * What We Give Away * Through Thick and Thin

* Cyber-Bullying * To Be An Encourager * Everything’s Under Control * and A Trip To El Salvador!

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Only connect with friends Be kind to others Don’t share your password

Keep your settings private

Don’t be hurtful towards others

PARENTS & TEACHERS Join Facebook Understand how it works Teach safety and responsibility Privacy - check their settings

FRIENDS DON’T: Stay silent DO: Help your friend Report the bully Tell your parents Tell your teacher

THE BULLY DON’T: Respond DO; Save what they say Unfriend the person Block them Tell a Friend Tell your Parents Report the person

This is our reaction to cyber-bullying. We must all play our part! Play yours - email for a print ready file

Volume 2, Issue 3 ~ January 2013

Homeschool Horizons Magazine Homeschool Horizons Team Editing | Johanne Babb

In This Issue

Social Media | Kimberly Charron Content & Production | Shannon Ratcliffe

4 The Guilt Bomb

Accounting | Tony Ratcliffe

6 My Children Don’t Want to Leave the House!

Advertising | Daniel Wheeler

8 What We Give Away

Print Production | Universal Printing Ingersoll, Ontario

10 The CM Homeschool: Storing Up Daffodils 12 Cyber-Bullying

Website |

14 Through Thick and Thin

Homeschool Horizons Magazine is a support and encouragement magazine







Homeschooling is a choice your family should make together with the best interest of all family members in mind.


Horizions is not to be held responsible for personal family choices.

Homeschool Horizons is published six times a year and subscriptions can be purchased by visiting our website or by sending your name, address, phone number and a cheque for $27 ($37 in the US) for a one year subscription (individual copies of the current issue are available for $5.00 each) to: Homeschool Horizons PO Box 552 Lancaster, ON K0C 1N0 CANADA

18 Multiple Children = Multiple Learning Styles 19 Our Ways 20 Dreams Fulfilled... And Back to Reality 22 The Waiting Room and the Engaged Mind 24 Free Learning Resources for Teens, Part 4 26 Living Legacy 28 What About A High School Diploma?

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On our cover this month is the inspirational Pike Family. If you’d like to see YOUR homeschooler featured, please email us for photo guidelines.

©2012 Homeschool Horizons Magazine.

16 To Be An Encourager

All Rights Reserved.

Subscriptions may take up to 8 weeks to start. All inquiries can be sent to:

30 Tripping Up: When the Only Challenge is Myself 32 Everything is Under Control 34 Bullies & Victims 36 10 Fixes For Those “Crummy” Homeschool Days 38 Living Up to the Label ... of SUPERHERO 40 Homeschool Peek or call toll-free 1-855-HSCANADA

ISSN 1927-3118 Printed in Canada

January 2013 ~ Homeschool Horizons | 1

From our house to yours... Facing Life’s Challenges. It couldn’t be a more appropriate theme for this issue of Homeschool Horizons, though I picked the theme over 18 months ago. Blair, the husband of one of our most talented writers, told me that we should avoid themes that were “subject-centric” like having “math” or “science” issue, and instead focus on themes that were a bit more “creative”. As many have noticed we’ve tried to heed that advice and it’s worked out well. We’ve had themes like Sparking Creativity, and Getting Organized instead. So January 2013 was scheduled to be Facing Life’s Challenges. At the time I simply thought, “Well, January/February can be challenging months for the homeschooler...”. I never imagined the journey I’d be on during the very production of this issue. On our website, our readers may have noticed that there was a notice of the January issue being delayed due to production difficulties. Well, in the spirit of transparency, I’d like to share what that difficulty was. You see, in mid-December, just as the magazine was a couple of days from being sent to the printer, I received a note from Paula’s husband. Paula’s journey with lymphoma cancer, which she had been sharing so openly in her articles, was coming to an end. Blair stated very simply that if I wished the opportunity to see her one last time, that “now” was the time to come. He invited me to stay in their home, despite the uncertain chaos of these final days. I, of course, dropped everything and made my plans to go. My amazing husband, Tony, arranged his schedule, my incredible daughter, McKenzie, stepped up as “mom” for a couple of days, and I travelled down to be with my Sweet Sister (we met as part of a homeschool reviewing team, and our small group’s name was called the Five Sisters.) There are no words I could ever express to Blair, Tony, or McKenzie to thanks them for the gift they gave me. It was hard. I won’t lie. My dearest friend was much changed from the last time I’d seen her smiling at a visit just months before. She was slow to respond and very tired, but her beautiful smile still shone on her face when she saw a loved one was sitting with her. I was blessed to spend three days just catching all the “in between” times of family and friends coming to see. I had the chance to spend the rest of my time with her wonderful children; talking, laughing, and listening. The most precious of memories I have now was when I had to leave to return to my own family. It was so painfully hard that though I had fought back tears in her presence the entire visit, I’m afraid they spilled over at that moment. Paula looked at me with her eyes full of compassion and asked, “are you crying?” I smiled and told her that I always cry when I leave her, and this time was no different. I gave her a hug and a kiss and told her I loved her. She looked in my eyes and said, “I love you, too.” And I know it wasn’t just words. She was telling me that she was and always would be my Sweet Sister... maybe gone off to meet our Saviour before me, but always in my heart. Back when we were just in the dreaming/planning stages of the launch of Homeschool Horiozns, the Pikes and the Ratcliffes went on a camping trip together. We had the best camping trip ever with so much laughter and fun. We braved the mosquitoes, slipped down rapids, caught frogs, baked bananas with marshmallows and chocolate on the campfire - it was the best time. On the trip, Paula, and her eldest daughter, Mattea, were excited to be leaving soon for a missions trip to meet their Compassion child, Jeanci, in just over a week. The trip to El Salvadore was a turning point in the life of Mattea, who’d be struggling for a couple of years with defining her life direction. And Paula kept her beautiful smile ready for all those she met, even though her body was just betraying her without her complete knowledge. She knew she wasn’t “well”, but tried to downplay it. She was frustrated, but never negative. She was in pain, but never lost her composure or her kindness. About a month after returning from El Salvadore, Paula was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma. And that is where her life took off in a shining example of Faith and Perserverance. Through her blog on Caring Bridge (if you want to really be inspired, grab a box of tissues and spend some time reading her blog there at - but you’ll need to register for free first), Paula inspired hundreds of people and demonstrated a simple grace that is missing in so many tales of hardship. Paula never battled cancer, she never struggled against cancer, she simply journied with cancer... till she journied home. Paula’s body died on December 18th, 2012. Paula, the soul of one of the most special women I have ever been priveledged to meet - let alone call “friend”, did not die. She closed her eyes here, and opened them in Heaven. And though Christmas wasn’t the same, not for her husband, not for her four children, not for her siblings, not for her mother, not for her whole circle of friends and family, and not for me, we could feel that she wasn’t far away at all. After my visit, and subsequent return for her memorial service, I had a very hard time getting past this tremendous loss. The magazine, on a brink of being completed and printer-ready, just sat there in my computer. I found I was completely unable to finish the job. Every time I sat to complete my work, I found myself focused on my open wound. And so I would close the file and tell myself, “tomorrow”. And so it went, from day to day, over the holidays and into the begining of this New Year. But Paula wouldn’t want me to be wallowing in sadness, so I gulp back the tears, force myself to face this computer, and this is what I have written to memorialize a woman who’s life will influence the rest of MY life. Paula inspired me to look past my insecurities. She inspired me to try my hand at creativity. She inspired me to seek ways to embellish my hospitality. She inspired me to continue to encourage others. Paula loved this magazine, and so it is with her memory in my heart and her whisper in my ear telling me that “you can do this, Shannon” that I take a deep breath and finish this issue... not as a job, or as an obligation, but as an extention of the encouragement and inspiration that she has given to me. I pray that everyone reading this will experience a friend like Paula in their lives. I know my life is the better for having known her... and I will miss her something terrible. So I beg your forgiveness on the tardiness of this issue, and I bid you blessings in 2013.

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Our Writers This Issue: Natalie Dalton, Newfoundland

Maxine McLellan, Ontario

Rebecca Fitch, Ontario

Sara Ojala, British Columbia

Lisa-Marie Fletcher, Ontario

Paula Pike, Ontario

Kathleen Forde-Meyer, Alberta

Sarah Rainsberger, PEI

Glenda Haymen, New Brunswick

Jean Rath, Ontario

Linda Hoffman, Ontario

Kelly Stewart,

Stephanie Jackson, Nova Scotia

Patti Tinholt, Ontario

Lynn Long, Ontario

Sheri Vincent, Saskatchewan

Sandee Macgregor, Ontario

Anne White, Ontario

Jennifer MacLeod, Ontario

** All quotes and side art in this issue are by Paula Pike, from her blog at **

Advertiser Directory (in alphabetical order)

Bizzy Bzz Book Bin, page 14 Canadian Homeschool Society, IBC Compassion Canada, page 9 Complete Creation DVDs, page 33 Globe in a Nutshell, page 7 ITCA Digital Education, page 11 Joy Center of Learning, page 7 Kimberlyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Usborne Books, page 31 Music for Young Children, BC SAFEBOOK, IFC See The Light, IBC Shelf Reliance - Thrive, page 32 Tree of Life Books, page 35 Winit Award System, page 32

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January 2013 ~ Homeschool Horizons | 3

The Guilt Bomb…

Sheri Vincent, Saskatchewan - Homeschooling Since 2010


he guilt bomb… no doubt you have felt its effects. You homeschool, and you parent, so how could this be a topic you aren’t at least moderately familiar with? I should have read with Mary today. I should have spent more time researching this curriculum. Have I really ensured my children will have what they need for adulthood? Is all this academic stuff what is really important? My days are full of these questions, most of which I innocently thought I would answer as I acclimatized to homeschooling… but three years later, I am no better off. Why is that? Why do I let the guilt bomb affect my thoughts and emotions? What does the Bible say about guilt? Both the Hebrew and Greek words for guilt are associated with an offence (Fowler, 1999), and Biblically speaking, it generally refers to an offence against God or His commands, or against a secular law. So where did this sense of achievement-related guilt come from? When did we begin to allow the world to tell us that we need to be, and that it is possible to be, perfect? For true offences, we can seek to appease the feelings of guilt. We can ask forgiveness, repent, change our practices, and learn from our mistakes. But, what about when we have not truly committed an offence, yet still feel guilt? I heard something interesting not long ago – I only wish I could remember where – about the changing views of what people believe they can accomplish as society changes. The premise is that the more we hear about the accomplishments of others in certain areas, the more we begin to believe that there are people who have accomplished to the same extreme degree in all areas of their lives. So when we read a helpful book on organizing our homeschool, an article about how to improve our marriage relationship, a devotional about improving our prayer life, or a how-to guide regarding children’s discipline, we begin to blend these ‘experts’ and imagine others ‘out there’ as individuals who have mastered all of these things just as is described in the book, article or radio show. And then we COMPARE ourselves to those people we have begun to believe are nearing the perfection that we seek.

4 | Homeschool Horizons ~ January 2013

Is it good to seek to be perfect? Well, we are supposed to strive to be like Christ, and that would certainly fall under the category of striving for perfection. So perhaps it is good to seek it, provided we have a firm sense of our inability to achieve it, and find comfort in that reality. There are so many ‘ways’ to homeschool out there. I am not an unschooler, which has nothing to do with my opinion on the practice itself, but more to do with the fact that I am a scheduled person, an individual who needs to look at boxes, and time limits, and numbers. Without those I would spend so much time trying to keep myself sane that I would hardly be able to educate my children with any degree of success. But, whenever I attend a conference, I ALWAYS attend an unschooling seminar, because they remind me that it really doesn’t matter what I ‘do’ as much as it matters that I am with my children and that I want what is best for them more than anyone else on this earth. I know my children will never be perfect, and I don’t care. I suspect that they know I will never be perfect either, and I believe they also do not care. Would they trade a perfect curriculum for me? I very much doubt it. We can minimize the guilt, we can pretend it doesn’t exist, we can try our best to ignore it, but what we really need to do is hit it at its roots. We need to redefine this feeling for what it is… a reaction to something that is not real, and based on a behaviour of comparison that is never healthy unless it is used to educate and build up the individual. The more we remind ourselves of this more accurate reality, the more it will become the reality our minds go to first, the one that we begin to base our behaviours on, and the one that our feelings will stem from. We will build a bomb shelter where we can be protected from the effects of false guilt which ultimately only serve to distract from the many good things we are doing in our homeschooling journey each day. ● References: “Guilt.” Christ in You – Ministries. James A. Fowler. 1999. November 6, 2012. html.

January 2013 ~ Homeschool Horizons | 5

My Children Won’t Leave the House!

Patti Tinholt, Ontario - Homeschooling Since 2007


y children are the biggest bunch of homebodies you have ever met.

When we first began to think about homeschooling, our daughters were 2 years old and 6 months old. I envisioned filling their days and years with amazing activities we would access at off-peak times. I pictured them horseback riding and learning martial arts and taking piano lessons and working on a farm. I imagined myself driving here, there and everywhere, in pursuit of the many incredible extracurricular activities they would surely want to engage in. Six years and two more babies later, things aren’t exactly as I imagined. After first embracing homeschooling, it didn’t take us long to make the jump to unschooling. We followed our children’s leads as they learned to walk and talk, as they weaned and as they chose their foods, as they showed interest (or not) in writing and reading. They were busy all day long, deeply committed to fulfilling their potentials and choosing joy, BUT they rarely chose to leave the house. At first I fretted long and loud about this. Do you want to go to gymnastics? Ballet? Swimming lessons? Art classes? Karate? Please? PLEASE! No interest. So I insisted. When my daughters were three and one-and-a-half years old, I took them to a public pool for a group swimming lesson. We quit after three weeks because they wouldn’t stay in the pool for more than five minutes. At four years and two years and with a newborn in my sling

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we headed to a community playgroup. My daughters ate their snack and then headed to the coat rack to retrieve their belongings and leave. Not into it. When my daughters were six, four and two years old, I enrolled them in a gymnastics class just a few blocks from our home. My oldest daughter refused to participate and spent the hour each week watching her younger sisters and pregnant mother on the trampoline from a window in the observation area. When my daughters were seven, five and three years old and their baby brother was a newborn, I dragged them to a mommy-and-me yoga class, thinking it would be a lot fun to do all the poses together. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I have worried that there was something wrong with my children. Why don’t they want to do the things that other kids do? Why won’t they try something new? Are unschooled kids supposed to stay home all day, every day? They’re unsocialized! I worried that there was something wrong with me. I’ve wrecked my children. They’ll never fit into society because their mother let them stay home all the time. I’m an awful mother because my children are anti-social and I don’t know how to fix it. I was pretty hard on them and pretty hard on me. Somewhere along the way, I adopted “We choose Freedom and Joy” as our family-mission statement. And when I started to consider what ‘freedom’ was going to look like for every member of our family, I realized that I had to stop having my own agenda and instead learn to trust my children, the same

way I had trusted them as babies to show me when they were hungry or tired or overwhelmed. My children were showing me – clearly! – that they did not want or need activities in their lives they didn’t expressly choose. They didn’t need a soccer team to learn teamwork – they had each other for that. They didn’t need playgroups to experience snacks and lining up and sitting in a circle doing a sing-along – are those even valuable skills? They didn’t need yoga to develop self-awareness – they were already deeply introspective and intuitive. So I relaxed, and rather than focussing on what my children weren’t doing, I became very observant of what they were doing. And what I observed was pretty incredible: I discovered that my children lived each day in a rhythm that exactly suited their needs. They chose a rotation of high-energy and low-energy activities, never leaving any activity until they felt completely satisfied that they were finished. They would draw for several hours, talking and laughing the whole time, then they would dash outside and ride around on scooters for awhile. They would engage in a very complicated make-believe game and when they finished they would ask me to read to them from a novel. And not only were they displaying a rhythm that facilitated their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs, they were not confining themselves to the house as much as I first believed!

Don’t panic if your child does not conform to “the norm.” You know with every fiber of your being that every child is different, so there is no accurate assessment of “normal.”

It became clear to me that they enjoyed spontaneous trips to the beach or to visit a friend or to a farmer’s market. They dragged me to the playground and to the local pool more times than I actually wanted to go. They were thrilled to explore a familiar place such as the Ontario Science Centre or the Toronto Zoo. What they needed was not just the freedom to choose their own activities, but also the time to complete their activities according to their own purposes. And, perhaps most importantly, they didn’t want just free time. They wanted an abundance of time, every day, to do the things they loved. Recently we visited the local farm that provides most of our vegetables and meat for 20 weeks each year. For five hours, we enjoyed bouncing through the fields and forests on a wagon, swatting at flies, picking strawberries and raspberries and visiting the lambs and cows and chickens that would soon grace our plates. When we got in the car to go home, one of my daughters asked “Will we still have time for our own thing when we get home?” Not in the least disappointed to be leaving the farm where we had had so much fun, she was thinking ahead to how much she enjoys being in her own home, engaged in her own activities. I had to smile to myself about her question and acknowledge my own journey into accepting that my children’s choices were exactly as they needed to be. ●


January 2013 ~ Homeschool Horizons | 7

t a Wh e v i G e W y a Aw Natalie Dalton, Newfoundland - Homeschooling Since 2009


’m going to be honest: I never, ever, thought I would be a homeschooler. I always knew I wanted to be married with a family, but I always assumed I would put my children on a school bus when the time came. However, life is full of surprises. I also never thought I would be the parent of a child with special needs, but when my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (high-functioning autism) at age three, my parenting journey changed. When the time came to send my son to school, I couldn’t do it. I worked as a special educator myself, and did not believe that my boy was ‘disabled’ enough to get the services he needed in school. I knew he wasn’t yet ready for the school experience, but he was also too bright to hold back. So, I signed up for what I referred to as my ‘free trial year’: my husband and I decided that we would homeschool through kindergarten. If it went well, and we felt that he was schoolready, we would simply pop him into grade one at the school for the following year. If it didn’t go well, we would simply enrol him in kindergarten. But this experimental year ended up teaching us a lot and we no longer saw homeschooling as a temporary solution. We discovered the hidden gems of this educational placement, and lifestyle. Weekday mornings you will find me, my son, now eight, and my daughter, going on five, engaged in our school activities. We follow a scheduled day, complete with extracurricular activities, crafts, baking, and spontaneous picnics at the local park. I cherish these days, even the hectic ones. I feel so incredibly blessed to have this time with my children. I get to be there when they learn something new, when they’re having fun, or when they’re struggling. I am present in their lives, and family is the centre of their little worlds. I don’t think it gets much better than that. I paint a rosy picture of homeschooling, but we know it’s not always easy. Educating a child with special needs at home means there are lots of ups and downs, lots of trial and error to find what works best, and good days and bad

8 | Homeschool Horizons ~ January 2013

days. Finding adequate support within the homeschooling community can be more challenging as well, but definitely worth the search. I paint a rosy picture because when you step away from the day-to-day of homeschooling in the trenches, and look at the big picture, it is a beautiful picture. Every minute spent planning, every hour spent tidying a house that is constantly lived in, every day dedicated to my children’s betterment, is worth it. There is no reward that compares to the bond between my children. When I see them helping each other without being asked, playing together in the backyard or giggling together over a funny video, I know that we have made the right choices. Just the other day, I caught them cuddled up together on the couch; my son was reading a story to his little sister and my heart swelled with joy. All of these expressions of love, kindness and generosity are nurtured at home, practised at home, and rewarded at home. I have no greater dream for my family than this, that they be happy, and find happiness in serving others. If my son hadn’t been diagnosed, I would have sent him off to school, and my daughter would have gone as well. I would have given this precious time to somebody else. Teachers would have been witness to the miracle of their learning, the gift of their smiles and the sounds of their laughter. Somebody else would be soothing bumps and bruises and hurt feelings. My children would spend more time apart than they do together, pulled in different directions. I would have given so much away, and maybe I would not even have realized everything that I missed. Today, I’m grateful for what I have, and grateful for everything that set me on this path. ●

Five-year-old Evelin Perez loves to sing. When she has free time, she likes to play Five-year-old Evelin loves to sing. with dolls or join herPerez friends in hide and WhenInshe has Evelin free time, likesthetokind play seek. short, likesshe to do with dollsmost or join her friends in hideBut and of things five-year-olds enjoy. seek.lifeInisshort, Evelindifferent likes to do thethe kind her extremely than of things most five-year-olds lives of the five-year-olds youenjoy. likely But know. her life is extremely different than the Evelin her parents younger lives oflives the with five-year-olds youand likely know. brother in a poor community near the Evelin with her city of lives Sonsonate, El parents Salvador.and Theyounger family brother inlived a poor near the originally in acommunity small adobe house city of El Salvador.families, The family but, likeSonsonate, so many Salvadoran originally a small adobe their homelived wasindestroyed in thehouse but, like so many Salvadoran much families, earthquakes that devastated of theircountry home was destroyed in the the in 2001. earthquakes that devastated much of On site where their house stood, the the country in 2001. they now dwell in a makeshift structure On the site their house stood, of wood, tin,where cardboard and other they now dwell in a makeshift structure materials they were able to obtain at of wood, tin, cardboard and other little or no cost. Since Evelin’s mother, materials they home were able Martha, stays with to herobtain youngat little or no cost. Since Evelin’s mother, children, the family’s only source of Martha, stays home with her young income is the small salary her husband, children, the family’s only source of Oscar, makes as an automotive income is the small salary mechanic’s apprentice. her husband, Oscar, makes as an automotive Martha explains the challenges of the mechanic’s apprentice. family’s living situation: “When it rains, we Martha explains usually get wet,”the shechallenges says, “andofwethehave family’s living situation: “When water it rains, we problems with getting drinking usually get wet,” she says, “and here.” These circumstances leavewe thehave problems with getting drinking water family vulnerable to sickness and disease. here.” These circumstances leave the Evelin’s situation is family vulnerable to challenging. sickness andBut disease. fortunately she is registered at Evelin’s situation is challenging. Butdel Compassion El Salvador’s Heraldos fortunately she is registered at (ES-743). Rey Child Development Center Compassion El Salvador’s Heraldosnamed del And thanks to a young woman Rey Child Center (ES-743). Amy who Development lives in Florida, Evelin’s And thanks to a young woman named Amy who lives in Florida, Evelin’s

circumstances are not hopeless. Amy is a Compassion sponsor. circumstances areatnot Evelin’s presence thehopeless. center is Amy is abecause Compassion possible Amy sponsor. in Florida Evelin’sa presence at the center is sends monthly sponsorship possible because Amy in contribution especially forFlorida the sendsgirl. a monthly sponsorship little contribution especially for the At littleHeraldos girl. del Rey, Evelin — along with close to 200 other At Heraldos del Rey, Evelin impoverished children — — along with close to 200 other receives life-changing care and impoverished children opportunities. Offering— instruction, receives life-changing andto guidance and the lovecare of God opportunities. Offering the children who attendinstruction, the guidance the lovestaff of God center, theand dedicated is to the children attend the making everywho effort to release center,from the dedicated staff is them the spiritual, economic, makingand every effortpoverty to release social physical that them from thelives. spiritual, plagues their Theseeconomic, workers are the social and povertylike thatAmy who hands and physical feet for people plagues These workers are in the want to their makelives. it possible for children handstoand feetfree for people like Amyvicious who need break from poverty’s want and to make it possible for children cycle dream of the future. Marthain need to break freehow fromshe poverty’s vicious Perez talks about felt when cycle and of theinto future. Martha Evelin wasdream registered Compassion’s Perez talks about how Amy she felt when program and received as her Evelin was into Compassion’s sponsor. “I registered thanked God,” she says. program and received as her that “I felt very happy whenAmy I realized sponsor. “Iwas thanked God,”inshe says.and someone interested helping “I felt very happy when I realized that loving my daughter.” someone was interested in helping and Because the health concerns she has loving myofdaughter.” for her family, Martha is especially Because of the healthsponsorship concerns she has grateful that Evelin’s provides for her family, Martha is especially her with an affordable way to receive grateful sponsorship provides medical that care.Evelin’s She is also hopeful as she her with an affordable way to receive considers all the possibilities for her medical care. She is also hopeful as she daughter’s future. “When she grows up, considers all the possibilities for her there are a number of things I envision daughter’s future. “When she grows up, there are a number of things I envision

for Evelin. Number one, I want her to be a good Christian and I would love to see for Number somewhere. one, I want her to be her Evelin. doing ministry I also ahope goodsheChristian and I would love to might have a professional see her doing I also career. Butministry most ofsomewhere. all, I want her to still hope she might have a professional be following God when she’s grown.” career. But most of all, I want her to still Evelin is just one of more than be following God child whenout she’s grown.” 13,500 children Compassion serves in Evelin is justand onethere childare outover of more than El Salvador 500,000 13,500around childrentheCompassion serves others world — not to in El Salvador and there 500,000 mention millions moreare thatover Compassion others theyet. world — notEvelin to play has notaround reached Watching mentionthe millions moreshe thatcalls Compassion outside structure home, you has not Watching Evelin play can see reached she is anyet. important reminder of outside the structure calls home, you the incredible need forshe Compassion’s can see she is an important ministry to children. But her reminder mother of the incredible Compassion’s believes she isneed also aforreason to not lose ministry Butthe herfuture. mother faith andtotochildren. anticipate “I believes sheGod is also a reason to notuslose know that certainly will help faith andCompassion,” to anticipate the future. “I through Martha says. know isthat God certainly willfor help “This a dream come true ouruslives.” through Compassion,” Martha says. “This is a dream come true for our lives.”

Compassion International, 12290 Voyager Parkway, Colorado Springs, CO 80921-3668 (800) 336-7676 January 2013 ~ Homeschool Horizons | 9 Compassion International, 12290 Voyager Parkway, Colorado Springs, CO 80921-3668 (800) 336-7676

The Charlotte Mason Homeschool

Storing Up Daffodils

Anne White, Ontario - Homeschooling Since 1996


ne of the books we are reading for school this year is God’s Smuggler, by Brother Andrew. He recalls working at a refugee camp in the 1950’s, and meeting an elderly man and his wife who had lost everything. They were dirty, displaced, depressed. The woman had “chin hairs an inch long.” But they listened to Brother Andrew’s Bible studies, and began to understand, for the first time, that there was a God and that they mattered. Even their physical appearance changed as they came to believe that they were people made in God’s image, loved and valued by Him. “If only I had known this before,” the man mourned. “Education is the science of relations” is one of Charlotte Mason’s basic principles, as is “Children are born persons.” She believed that each person had a right to personhood: a right to be an individual person, to be creative, and able to make moral decisions. She also saw that having that right respected would lead to proper relationships with God, with God’s created world and with others. Charlotte Mason also pointed to other ways that we might experience beauty and truth, ways that can also help in times of struggle, while not minimizing the importance of God. The “mental furniture” we build up, of memorized beauty and blessings, in words, music, or images, also speaks to us and strengthens us. How many families are there who hang up the phone, after good or bad news, and reach for the hymnbook? It’s not that older hymns are like macaroni and cheese, familiar and comforting; it’s not just style and taste; it’s that what they are filled with goes flying away from myself, past what I know, to something bigger than I am. When I sing, “With ever joyful hearts, and blessed peace to cheer us,” I think of the pastor who wrote those words during a plague. When I hear again how “sorrow and love flow mingled down,” I know something of Christ’s love for us during our worst times. Yet we don’t need to limit our store of words and images to the purely spiritual, nor to religious – or, worse, “inspirational” – twaddle. The very earthy fictional lawyer Horace Rumpole says that his two most-consulted books are a work on bloodstains and the Oxford Book of English Verse. Jan Karon’s Father Tim draws on William Wordsworth, as

10 | Homeschool Horizons ~ January 2013

well as on Charles Spurgeon and the Book of Common Prayer. Memorized poetry, remembered art, songs we’ve learned, even stored-up memories of nature walks, can help our hearts “dance with the daffodils” during gloomy winter days. But they have to be put into the heart to start with! This is why Charlotte Mason urges us to provide a wide and generous curriculum, to give our children as much poetry and art and story as we can while they’re young, and also to give them the tools they will need to continue learning for themselves. In times of crisis, we can also draw on our abilities to reason and question. That may sound contradictory to faith, but it really isn’t; it’s just about the value we place on truthGod’s truth, all truth. Charlotte Mason emphasized the need for curiosity and wonder, observation and accuracy of description. In our family’s homeschool, we make use of several “Uncle Eric” books by Richard J. Maybury, which insist that we analyze things and look for evidence before accepting anyone’s claims for a theory or product. (A great deterrent to buying things from infomercials!) We feel less like victims when we are able to see beyond propaganda, to ask questions, and speak out both for ourselves and for those who cannot. But those abilities don’t happen magically, for us or for our children. We need examples of leadership, real or fictional, good and bad, misguided and successful. We need to spend time with those who show courage, bravery, nobility, love and magnanimity. Even the youngest children can draw on their knowledge of character from the story of a pig, a spider, and a rat; or from the selfless love of a man for his puppet son; or from the calm spirit of a toad, shown by in spite of being scheduled to be eaten next Tuesday by an owl. Finally, those who have learned something of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy can draw on the more practical and creative habits she describes, which can also help through times of upheaval. The first chapters of her book Home Education are a Victorian parent’s guide to health and orderliness in the nursery. The details have changed, but the principles are still good, and they agree, by and large, with the advice of stress-counselors of our own day. A

Creative vision is necessary to live love in ways that have a life-giving impact on people.

magazine might tell you to pay attention to your eating habits, even during a crisis; get enough sleep; get some exercise. Charlotte Mason would agree with that, and she would also suggest bringing in whatever natural or beautiful objects we can find or create. In her day, the problem of an unbeautiful room might have been dull, bare walls; these days, it might be our over-focus on electronic screens. However, even computer screens can have their uses: if that’s what you have, you can always download an artistic “wallpaper” or screensaver. Or the problem (not unknown to Victorian decorators) might be clutter, or simply mess. One recent book on decluttering our lives suggests that, before we worry about exactly how we’re going to tackle our biggest challenges, we start by finding and cleaning up small messes and irritations… our equivalent of inch-long chin hairs (I know… yech!) Amazingly, sometimes those small changes can give us the motivation we need to make bigger improvements, or to face truly overwhelming problems. What brings us through challenges, through loss, through physical or financial or spiritual struggle? In the case of the refugee couple, knowing that they mattered to God made all the difference, and motivated them to look beyond and even improve their immediate situation. Adding a love of beauty and truth, and teaching those things to our children, then we can also know “joyful hearts and blessed peace” in the worst situations. (I hesitate to end with those words, knowing how deep some suffering goes, and I do not want to sound casual about pain. However, I stand by the conviction that, as Betsie ten Boom said, “There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.”) ● Bibliography God’s Smuggler. Brother Andrew; Sherrill, John; & Sherrill, Elizabeth. Chosen Books, 2001. ISBN 0-8007-9301-3 A Toad for Tuesday. Erickson, Russell E. Houghton Mifflin, 2000. ISBN-10: 0618062122

January 2013 ~ Homeschool Horizons | 11

CYBER BULLYING Kathleen Forde Meyer, Alberta Homeschooling since 1999


hese days the Internet is a crucial part of teenage culture. Kids can’t imagine life without it. After a full day of studying and attending field trips, many still log many hours in front of screens, included homeschoolers. They “talk” for hours, texting, BBMing, Tweeting, instant messaging, posting on Facebook, on message boards, and sometimes even entering chat-rooms. But the chatter and gossip can spin out of control, slipping into degrading abusive attacks. Cyber Bullying is a relatively new, but very serious, form of bullying. One of the most horrific facets of cyber bullying is that there appears to be no escape. This invasive form of bullying is attacking our children in their homes, the one place they should feel safe. Cyber bullies use email, cell phones, text messages, digital cameras (especially those in cell phones), instant messaging, chat rooms, Facebook, Twitter, and other websites to harass, flame, insult, bully, stalk, and threaten others. It’s so prevalent because technology is so prevalent and it occurs in an interactive world off the radar of even the most caring and involved

parents. One of the biggest problems with cyber bullying is the lack of personal involvement between the bully and the victim. The bullies cannot see their victims’ responses so there is no immediate or tangible feedback to prevent the bully from going beyond their original intentions. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s often anonymous, so bullies feel freer to do things they might not normally do to a victim sitting in front of them. Online bullies often steal identities and impersonate people, thereby creating two victims: the person they harassed and the person whose identity was stolen. They may have tricked the victim into saying something revealing and then dispersed that information to others for whom the original message was not intended. Additionally, there are often no consequences and no real opportunities for remorse. Without experiencing the victim’s pain, the bully can quickly get out of control. Whatever the method, cyber bullying is real and occurring in our community.

What should you look for? Your child/teen: - Spends a lot of time online and is secret about Internet activities - Withdraws from family/friends - Uses someone else’s online account or an account you don’t recognize - Cries or feels empty, depressed and irritable for no apparent reason - Lies to friends and family about their activities - Changes eating habits significantly, neglects personal hygiene and/or alters sleep patterns - Appears to always be doing ‘school’ on the Internet but is actually getting behind - Won’t say to whom they are talking when online or on the phone - Complains of stomach upset and/or headaches, especially before events - Fears going out of the house or lacks interest in social events - Acts out aggressively at home You notice: - Behavioural changes in your teen - Unexplained long-distance telephone charges, excessive cell phone and/or data charges - Unexplained pictures on the computer - Unexplained broken personal possessions, loss of money, loss of personal items - Stories that don’t seem to make sense - Missing or incomplete schoolwork, decreased success - Lowered self-esteem - A marked change in attitude, dress or habits - Reluctance to go to educational or social events or use computer 12 | Homeschool Horizons ~ January 2013

What can you do? - Be proactive: awareness and education are the keys to the prevention of cyber bullying! - Spend some time learning about cyber bullying and the Internet. - Don’t ban Internet use, but monitor and supervise your children when they are plugged in. - Notify your children that you have an obligation to know what they are doing online and that you will occasionally be checking up on them by monitoring their electronic activities, and do it! - Keep the computer in a common area of the house. - Create a family online agreement and keep it by the computer. - Use a family email address rather than a personal one until your child is old enough. - Trust your instincts! If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. - Ensure your children know that some forms of online bullying are criminal acts. - Pay attention to your own bullying behaviour, whether with your children or in outside situations such as with the underpaid and overworked salesclerk who upset you. - Develop empathy in yourself and your children. - Go through their contacts on their phone and on all their social-media sites and ensure you and they know everyone listed. - Check your computer for pornographic files or any type of sexual communication. - Google your child’s name and review the websites they are listed on. - Tie in computer interests to non-computer interests (fantasy – books, games). - Make your child’s webpage part of your favourites and visit it often. - Use monitoring software as a supplement but DO NOT RELY ON IT!!!

Teach your children to: -

Guard their contact info. Leave the area, stop the activity, and/or log off when bullying occurs and report it to you! Know that ‘being in the audience’ is just as wrong as bullying. Respect others and develop a sense of responsibility for them. Respond appropriately to media violence and its consequences. Know that spreading hate or discrimination violates the Human Rights Act. Identify hate, its language and its symbols, by directing them to anti-racism sites. Stay away from messaging or chatting with anyone they are not 100% sure is their friend. Never post something they don’t want the entire world to read (including mom and dad). Recognize the permanence of what they’re saying or doing online. Never respond to Internet messages or emails from strangers. Avoid media that portray killing or pain as entertainment. Stand up against bullying. Trust their instincts! If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Get away from the computer! Disconnect and unplug, live in reality! Hang out with real friends and family. Never arrange to meet an online buddy unless they’re with you. Stay out of unmoderated chat groups. Come to you if they feel uncomfortable or threatened. DO NOT BLAME THEM! Maintain a healthy balance between entertainment media and other activities.

If you or your child/teen have been victimized: - Report it to a parent, a teacher, your cell phone provider, and/or your Internet Service Provider (ISP). - Contact your ISP and the police department if you stumble across hateful content. - Do not blame your children for being victims! - Report the situation to the police and to! - SHUT IT OFF! Close it down. Remove the electronics! - Change email address and/or cell phone number, block the information, and encourage them NOT to give it out to anyone but trusted friends. - Block, ignore or ban people from whom you do not wish to receive communication. - If you are the victim of a website that has been set up to insult or mock you or your child, contact the ISP and the police. - Don’t respond to online bullies. Treat them the say way you’d treat ‘real’ bullies. IGNORE them. They just want attention. - Do not erase or delete messages. You don’t have to read them but keep them as a record so that the perpetrator can be tracked down.

Just because cyber bulling is technological in nature doesn’t mean that you can resolve all the problems with technology. Parents, you must learn to manage your own behaviour, thereby teaching your children. Your behaviour is the best way to protect yourself. Stay plugged in to your children,

let them know that you are there for them, ensure that you’re not fostering bullying behaviour in your children by your own actions, and spend some time as a family outside in the real world and away from your screens. ● January 2013 ~ Homeschool Horizons | 13

Through Thick and Thin

Glenda Hayman, New Brunswick Homeschooling Since 1994


was homeschooling mom to four children when my life was forever changed. Overnight I went from a mother who managed to keep on top of the most important things in life (most of the time!) to one who couldn’t get out of her chair or sometimes out of her bed! I didn’t know it at the time, but multiple sclerosis (MS) had come to live in my body, not as a part-time guest, but as a full-time member of the family.

Many people in my life, in fact most people, assumed I would give up homeschooling. They felt that the most logical thing would be to ship my children out and let others teach them since “that was only common sense!” I have never been known to be sensible, however, and taking the easiest route has never been a factor in my decision-making. Nor did I feel that God was telling me that this was a time for my children to leave our home and to go into the world for their education. He had not released me from my responsibility for my children’s education, so we found a way to make it work. Wherever I needed to be that day, that’s where school happened. I spent eight months in my computer chair, on the couch, in my bed. I often crawled from one place to the next, but, wherever I was, my children came to me. We curled up on the couch and watched movies together. My toddler loved these times cuddled up in my arms, or those of one of his older siblings, and the older children learned a lot as we watched movies. I would engage them in conversations about what they saw. Questions such as: “What was the plot? Did the main character respond in a Godly fashion or should they have done something differently? What would

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they, my children, do in such a situation?” I learned so much about my children during those times and they learned a lot about me as well. It was a great time for spiritual and emotional growth. We had some fun craft times as well, making clothes for clothespins dolls (great for fine motor skills!), turning them into the characters in the movie and role-playing. Sometimes our story took dramatically different turns as the characters made different decisions and we all learned how one little decision can affect a person’s life, sometimes in a very dramatic life-changing way! Those same places were the scene of much reading. While the toddler played nearby – and not always quietly! – we shared books. Sometimes we would sit and colour, play with building blocks or get out the play dough to include the little guy in our reading time. Often, one of the children could be found silently enacting what was being read with a character made with play dough; for my crew, busy fingers often mean engaged minds. Occasionally, we wouldn’t get a lot read because we had stopped to discuss something and our time was up before we were done; other days we read until someone fell asleep. Then there were times when I simply laid down with the kids sprawled nearby working on their various school things. I was there to answer questions or help if they needed; they were there to chase the little one if I needed their physical help. We worked together, laughed (a lot) together, cried together. We learned together! It was teamwork, lots of it! Occasionally my disability did get in the way. I would be hit with a wall of fatigue or pain levels I couldn’t ignore and we would declare it a holiday, but even those weren’t days without learning. My children learned how to help care for

each other, and sometimes for me. They learned compassion, they learned that sometimes life brings circumstances you may not like but that you cannot change, and they learned how to accept and how to adapt. These lessons are not taught in books, around tables or at desks; they are life lessons that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives. They are not lessons easily learned and I am grateful I was at their side when life taught them this. My children learned a lot during those months. They learned reading, writing and arithmetic all over the house, occasionally even while hanging upside down off the couch. Their hearts and minds grew in truth and grace while we were sitting and lying down. They learned to cook when I was unable. They discovered both how much fun and how much work a toddler is. Although there were indeed frustrations and painful times, none of us would have traded those months for any amount of freedom from our responsibilities because we faced them hand-in-hand, together as a family, together in the good times, together in the rough times. We have always viewed education as just another part of being a family and those months were no different. It looked different, some of the subject matter changed, but I firmly believe that all of us learned exactly what God has intended for us in those months. Education isn’t all about letters and numbers. I believe that the hearts of our children are even more important and I saw some good things happening in those hearts. Looking back, there are things I would do differently. Hindsight is always 20/20 and we will always make mistakes. However God is a gracious God who uses even our mistakes. It’s been eight years since that season of life. We have lived through more challenging seasons with wheelchairs, heart attacks and head injuries; we’ve continued to learn and grow through every one of them. More than any amount of education, I wanted to instil in my children a love of learning. I wanted them to have a hunger for more and a desire to seek out knowledge. Thus far, that is being accomplished and it thrills me. Had homeschooling only been about the three Rs, it would definitely have been easier to send them to school during those hard times. For our family, homeschooling is also about hearts and developing a child’s character. We found that there is no better time to have our children home with us than during a family challenge, to have them watching how we deal with things and seeing that we too struggle to accept what life throws at us. I am so thankful my family walked through those months together. We struggled, we learned, we grew… together! ●

January 2013 ~ Homeschool Horizons | 15

TO BE AN ENCOURAGER Rebecca Fitch, Ontario Homeschooling Since 2010


aven’t we all had a day or days when we bang our heads against the table wondering if our child will ever get it? When we wonder again why we are doing this? It’s on those days that we need someone to come alongside us, and say, “Hey it is okay. You can do it. I have been there too.” It’s on those days that we need some encouragement. To encourage means to give support or confidence to others and to give advice. Encouragement is something we all crave and desire as individuals, parents, and homeschoolers. We want to be told that we are doing a good job, that our children are succeeding and that they are learning. We need the support of our loved ones, our neighbours and church family, yet often we do not receive it. We can begin to lose confidence, wondering if our children will ever have the type of character we read about, or whether they will ever get past multiplication or if our house will ever be clean. William Barclay said, “One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement.” If we don’t have someone to give us encouragement, as homeschooling parents, we may lose heart and give up. We need to rally around fellow homeschoolers and encourage one another. We should all strive to encourage someone who is on the same journey. We need to stop, take a look around and notice who may be struggling, then to come alongside them and offer support. When I started homeschooling, I made a wonderful friend who was there for me. I had not met her before I started homeschooling. She invited me into her home, shared her routine of life, and allowed me to ask questions, vent, and even cry from frustration or worry. She was calm and told me it would be okay and that I could do it. She told me to relax and that she too sometimes had bad days. She was genuine and honest and I appreciated her sincerity: it helped me and gave me the courage to keep going on the homeschooling path. I continue to be grateful for her friendship. Every new (and experienced) homeschooler needs a friend like her! I hope that you take a look around at those people 16 | Homeschool Horizons ~ January 2013

you come into contact with and begin to speak words of encouragement to them. Cheering them on is truly one of the most wonderful gifts you could give to a homeschooling parent, or to anyone. Unfortunately, often when we try to be encouraging, the opposite happens. Instead of giving confidence to our fellow homeschoolers, we actually cause those around us to become disheartened. We can make them feel that they are not doing anything right by giving the illusion that we are the most prepared and creative homeschooler there is. I have had conversations with well-meaning people who keep talking about ALL the great things they are doing and who make me wonder what I am doing to my poor children. I know that those people don’t mean to give this impression but, really, do they do EVERYTHING right, and are their kids simply PERFECT? I believe that sometimes people are afraid to be honest and genuine with one another. We can’t be telling everyone all the negative stuff in our lives all the time, but when we are around new or struggling homeschoolers, let’s remember that they may not understand that everyone has bad days and all children sometimes misbehave or complain. Let’s remember to tell of the times when we struggle to choose the right curriculum and how we too stay up worrying if we are doing the right thing. It is okay to be real and open about the fact that we are, after all, just parents. I think it helps us all realize that we are all in the same boat, trying to do the best that we can for our children. We need to be ready to encourage and uplift those around us in a way that is truly hopeful to others. How to we do this? 1. Share the good, the bad, and the ugly. Don’t be afraid to let others know you struggle just like them and that you can relate. Let them know that it is okay to feel frustrated and overwhelmed and that you have had the same feelings. 2. Don’t exaggerate! Don’t make your days sound grander

As my mind is drawn to spring, I also found myself thinking about ... a bird building a nest. Each piece of the nest is insignificant and weak on its own - but packed together with persistent effort and attention, the twigs, feathers, strands of grass, and grains of mud unite to form a safe refuge from the elements. The bird, faithful in collecting small bits of virtual nothingness, builds a strong nest that will protect her and her offspring from wind, rain, sun, and storm. than they are. Perhaps you have many days when you get everything done off your list, when your house is clean and your children are all smiling. However, this does not happen every day, so donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t forget to mention the times when you have struggled or the subject your child may need extra practice with. It brings relief to those listening to know that you are a real person with real children. 3. Be honest. Just tell the truth. Sometimes this can be hard because sometimes the truth is not very pretty, but to a person who is struggling, wondering if they are ever going to make it, that truth may just be what they need. 4. Be available! This can be difficult since we all have our own lives, with our own schedules and situations, but being available to one or two people, inviting them over for tea or a play date, may just make their week! We cannot be accessible to everyone so choose one or two people that you can truly be available to and invest in their lives. 5. Offer advice when asked, but LISTEN more! We are often quick to give advice to those around us (I have to remember this, I know) but often people just want to be heard. They want to be able to talk about their stuff with someone who gets it and once they have, perspective returns. So give lots of time to listening. 6. Let them know you understand and have been there. Let them know of situations where you have struggled or when you have needed encouragement. It helps to know they are not alone. It also shows them that it will be okay and that they will get through it just you did. To be an encourager takes time and work, but, as we begin to encourage those around us, a great thing happens: we begin to be encouraged too. Soon the person whom we encouraged starts to encourage us. Having laid down a solid foundation produces a lasting relationship and creates friendship. That is what happened between my encourager and me when I was new to the business of homeschooling, and I am truly grateful to her! â&#x2014;?

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January 2013 ~ Homeschool Horizons | 17

Multiple Children - Multiple Learning Styles Sandee Macgregor, Ontario - Homeschooling since 2006


on’t you just love the one-size-fits-all concept? I do, because it makes me laugh. When I find an article of clothing that states this on a tag, I shake my head and walk away, wondering how many times that piece of clothing was put back on the rack because it was the wrong size! The same can happen with our children. We pull out the curriculum that our first children used and eagerly anticipate the economic savings, the time saved and the bonus of already knowing what’s covered. We feel mighty and ready to conquer the school year. Then something happens: it doesn’t fit. It goes back on the rack. That size did not fit at all! Multiple children will have multiple learning styles. Being aware of the uniqueness of each child and open to change is vital to successful learning. As I navigate through teaching my own children of and their wide variety of learning styles and interests, I am becoming more flexible and more aware of strengths and weaknesses. I am becoming more open to learning from resources such as experts from the community, great books by knowledgeable authors, and, most importantly, I rely more on God for His direction and will in the life of my children. For the 2012-2013 school year, I prayed that I would be flexible with curriculum options for my children. This meant digging deeper into the needs of each child and more intentionally discerning their strengths and weaknesses. For example, art comes easier to some and can be very stressful for others. Instead of re-using a yearlong intensive computer course that one child was capable of previously, I chose to be flexible and to go back to the basics with simple art techniques and added a much-loved technology component using the iPad. The children spend time sketching, colouring and creating other art, while I read out loud. This creates a stress-free environment that allows enhancement at all skill-levels in a low-key atmosphere. My children, aged two to thirteen, have a variety of skills and interests but they are all accomplishing something wonderful and unique. I left

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the art curriculum in a box to be used at another time or to give away later. I made a choice for the benefit of my children and it has worked this time. We need to be prepared to try something new and learn with our children. New can be inconvenient, but it is often worth the effort. Connecting with professionals in our community and others with gifts to share has been another way to practice flexibility. This has allowed me to meet very specific needs (especially with struggling learners) that might have been missed otherwise. It has meant an interval with a variety of sacrifices to enable particular learners to really blossom, but it has been valuable. The Bible says, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah, 40:31) I have felt weary and needed strength through difficult seasons trying to meet the needs of many different learners; I know God has renewed my strength. That has been a blessing and I am thankful to continue this homeschooling journey. Homeschooling multiple children can be overwhelming if we try to accomplish everything independently from Christ. Since beginning to homeschool in 2006, I have been quite aware that I simply am not able to do everything. I have prayed about each child and the answers have not come overnight. They have come in many unique ways such as the right people coming along with an aptly spoken word. “Like apples of gold in settings of silver, so is a word skilfully spoken.” (Proverbs 25:11) Many treasured loved ones have spoken such words to me. I have been encouraged and blessed by others, and, with renewed strength, I continue this journey of schooling multiple children with multiple learning styles. Each family has to determine how to create the right fit. I am learning to let certain curriculum boxes collect dust for a while. One size does not always means it will fit! ●

Our Ways Jean Rath, Ontario, homeschooling since 1992


long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”

When Star Wars, Episode 1 arrived in theatres along with all its hype, a comic strip (probably Doonesbury) depicted an interview with a man in a movie lineup. The Darth-Vaderclad man told the reporter that he had already seen Episode 1, and explained “We’re in line for Episode 2.” The reporter noted, “I see you have your children here with you. You must homeschool”, to which the man replied, “Yes, we like to teach them our ways.” In a homeschool, as in any other school, we teach our children according to our own beliefs. There is no avoiding this; it’s the nature of education. Even if a school, household or curriculum claims to be free of doctrine, that very claim is merely a different doctrine. We accomplish this valueteaching by choosing a curriculum that upholds our beliefs, by teaching a curriculum from our own perspective, or by demonstrating our chosen lifestyle … such as, according to the comics, camping out in California for two years waiting for a movie to open. This helps explain why homeschooling – which by its very nature shows that parents are taking great care with the upbringing of their children – is often viewed with suspicion. Everyone, everywhere, becomes understandably nervous about the danger of “education” crossing the thin line into “indoctrination”. It’s a valid concern. It causes homeschoolers to be equally suspicious of schools. It is something to watch out for, because an indoctrinated people are not an educated people. The dictionary definition of ‘indoctrinate’ includes “to teach… especially with the goal of discouraging independent thought or the acceptance of other opinions.” An education prepares students for fully functioning adult life. Indoctrination

prepares students to be used as tools for the doctrine. If we want to avoid being indoctrinators rather than educators, I think a homeschool family does well to spend time among other ideas. I enjoy and value of being a member of my citywide homeschooling group. In a small city like mine (Ottawa), the number of homeschoolers is bound to be proportionally small. If we tried to divide ourselves according to our distinct doctrines, we would end up in even smaller groups and lose the value of our combined resources. Instead, using our decision to homeschool as our commonality, we end up doing activities together. We are therefore exposed to each other’s different beliefs and lifestyles. This can only do us good. In our Ottawa group, it’s not just communal activities that are healthy, it’s the talk. The group has an email discussion list where I can read about the many reasons people homeschool, and encounter all their different beliefs. At a glance, I see discussions about the value of the national Christian homeschooling legal service, concerns over access to locally produced food and raw milk, and searches by the Muslim community for pools that run women-only swims. As we gain this kind of understanding of each other, we are unable to stay insular. Of course, email is just one of many electronic ways that we (and certainly our children) can find out about how other people think. In our homeschools, we must teach our ways. If our children don’t learn ‘ways’ from us, they’ll just end up learning them from someone else. But to fully complete their home education and prepare them for adult life, it’s important that we also engage with a wider variety of views. ●

January 2013 ~ Homeschool Horizons | 19

Dreams Fulfilled

and Back to Reality

Paula Pike, Ontario 1967-2012

As the due-date for articles for the January issue drew close, Paula was not feeling strong enough to put “fingers to keyboard” and asked if I would consider using this blog post from 2011 instead. She was a big supporter of the work of Compassion Canada. It was her expressed hope that this article might encouage you to consider changing the life of a child in need through sponsorship. Please do. ~ Shannon


t has taken me a few weeks to reach this point -- the point at which I can maybe begin to describe our meeting of Jeanci. It has been a struggle to process our El Salvador experiences, and especially coming face-to-face -- in her very own world -- with the little girl we’ve been sponsoring for seven years. I’ve been wrestling with what God wants me to do with it all. I can totally relate to Kat, one of the Philippines Compassion Bloggers, and her unflowing fountain of expression -- I’ve wanted to write, but the well of words has been dry. I’m still not sure they’ll spring forth . . . Perhaps I should begin by simply describing the day -- like a narration of events. We (as a missions group withKing’s Castle Ministries) had been stationed at a little church in Candelaria, two hours away from Jeanci’s community. We were driven by Joe, one of the King’s Castle workers, to meet our Compassion translator and driver on the side of a highway because they didn’t know how to get to where we were. The thought of waiting on the side of a highway in El Salvador was a little nerve-wracking -- but absolutely unnecessarily so because Joe took impeccable care of us. He even insisted that the Compassion people show identification before he let us get out of the car. Being an incredibly supportive and safety-conscious mission, King’s Castle also sent a Master’s Commissionnational with us for the day. As she snoozed and plugged herself into her ipod, I was concerned that it would be a boring day for her, and felt badly that we were taking her from the team in Candelaria. But as we travelled, she suddenly perked up and asked where exactly we were going. As it turned out, we were going to her home town!!! She was able to call her sister, who met us for lunch! So, God had in mind to bless yet another person with our trip. When we arrived in Jeanci’s town, we were taken first to the Compassion project. That was a challenge in itself, as the driver didn’t know exactly where it was, so the translator (Ruth) hopped out and knocked on a barred door to ask someone for directions. The owner of that house ended up getting in the van -- holding a toddler -- and accompanying us to the project. 20 | Homeschool Horizons ~ January 2013

Upon arriving at the project, I tried to turn on the video camera we’d brought especially to record the day’s events -- and it refused to power on. The battery was dead. Was the loss of our gift for Jeanci not enough of a frustration and disappointment? I had my still camera with limited video capacity, but Mattea had left her camera back at the castle. What could we do? In actuality, it was very difficult to take pictures/video AND be engaged in meeting people. So I was happy to hand my camera to Carla, our Master’s Commission National, who took pictures for us. In addition, the sponsorship co-ordinator at the project took a gazillion pictures and sent them to us via our translator. So kind and thoughtful! Once we had been welcomed by the attending children and introduced to the Compassion project staff, we were taken to Jeanci’s home so that we could bring her back to the project for a tour of the facilities in her company. Seeing the road down which Jeanci travels by foot to engage in project activities -- and anything else outside of her immediate community -- was moving in itself. There were piles of garbage and debris -- huge mud puddles -- and rocky obstacles to navigate the whole way. Eventually, we had to leave the van and travel by foot. We arrived at her back gate, which she wrestled to untie. It’s good that I couldn’t really see into her yard or home -- I was able to concentrate on meeting her and her parents. It was awkward and sweet and wonderful all at the same time. I managed to smile lots and not cry. Back at the project, we had a tour of the classrooms and learned about all the activities Jeanci has been able to participate in over the years. Ruth sat me down and gave a thorough explanation of the seven years’ worth of reports on Jeanci’s physical, emotional, developmental, social, and spiritual growth while Mattea played soccer and volleyball with Jeanci and some of the other children. I also learned that part of the reason Jeanci qualified for the Compassion project was that her family earned $82.32 per month. Per month. Mind-boggling to me.

One of the things that impressed me most about the information session with Ruth and the other Compassion workers was the fact that our support of Jeanci is not limited to just her. In order for their child to be sponsored, her parents are required to participate in monthly meetings geared to educating and supporting them in their role as parents. As someone who recognizes the value of support in the hardest job in the world, I think that is awesome. And of course, Jeanci can only benefit from this support.

a restaurant for lunch -- something that rarely happens in her life. (Once per year, in the month of their birthday, the sponsored children are taken to a restaurant where they can enjoy bottomless cups of pop and a hamburger.)

As we chatted about Jeanci’s sponsorship, I told the story of how we had been praying for a missions trip and God had provided the opportunity to go to El Salvador with our church, which meant that we would likely be able to meet Jeanci. As soon as we committed to the trip, we received a letter from Jeanci saying she would like for us to visit -- something she’d never expressed before. The workers teared up with goosebumps on their skin and told us how Jeanci had flitted around like a butterfly, so excited was she when our letter arrived telling her we were coming. It was my turn to tear up then -- and even now -- as I am awed by how much our visit meant to her.

It wasn’t until we got back to our camp and my friend Bev asked me if it was what I expected (a much easier question to answer than “How was your day?”) that I burst into tears. It was what I expected on some level, but not what I’d hoped. I was overwhelmed by how hard life must be for most El Salvadorians. I had hoped that somehow, life would be different for Jeanci and her family.

After our time at the project, we were taken back to Jeanci’s house to meet her family and see her home. Walking down the lane to the front of her house, it was a struggle for me to hold back the tears. Part of the struggle came from the knowledge that Jeanci is one of the “lucky ones” -- she has a government-funded home with cinderblock walls. It, like so many other homes in El Salvador, is a glorified lean-to with only three walls, a roof that is weighted with rocks and sticks to keep it from blowing off, and mud floors that are dampened by the rain that must flow in from the sloping back yard, to which the back of the house is open. It has electricity, but no running water. Water for drinking, bathing, and cooking needs to be hauled from a community tap, but it is not potable water. There are makeshift lean-tos for animals in the backyard, and an outhouse with a curtain for privacy. The inside of the house is one room divided by hanging curtains and clothes, and the roof extends on one exterior wall to provide a shelter for storage of things that don’t fit in the home, like the drums that house the corn and beans the family grows for food and income. The kitchen was dark -- black from the smoke of their wood-burning stovetop, which was a hole in a rock with a grate on top. Vents to the outside also held little bags of stuff -- herbs, spices -- I don’t know what. Jeanci’s mom and was making tortillas for the boys working in the field, so Jeanci showed Mattea how to roll the dough properly. It was so hard to absorb everything, take pictures (with permission -- but I still felt uncomfortable doing it), and communicate with people all at the same time. It was all very overwhelming -- but I remember wondering what it must be like to live this way. It’s “normal” for so many El Salvadorians, and yet it just seemed like such a hard life. How was it that people still seemed so happy -- many so genuinely joyful. (Jeanci’s mother did not; she seemed sad. Her eyes and bare smile still haunt me. But perhaps “ we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants./ Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not/ be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not/ be fashioned so miraculously well . . .” [Jack Gilbert]) Because we had to hurry to lunch and then back to the project for a presentation by the children, we didn’t get to spend much time at Jeanci’s house -- and she had to leave her gift to open later. I’m quite certain that was difficult for her! But at the same time, it was exciting for her to go to

From the restaurant we went back to the project, where Jeanci led the children in some songs in honour of our coming, and then presented us with gifts. That blew me away!

Don’t get me wrong. It was easy to see how Compassion (and our financial support) had assisted her and made her life better. But that life was still. so. hard. No refrigeration. Doing laundry and dishes in a hollowed-out piece of cement -- open to the skies -- to which the water had to be hauled. Cooking every meal over an open fire. Living, eating, and sleeping all in the same room as a whole family. Walking miles to the nearest town. It just seems like a life of endless. effort. And now that I’ve lived a dream of meeting our special child in a distant country and I’m home, back to the reality of my life -- which is easy in terms of conveniences, but hard it its own ways -- I wonder what I’m supposed to do. I was blessed to have a “life-changing experience” -- but I just don’t know how my life should be different. In some ways, the reality is simply that life. is. hard. It doesn’t matter what part of the world we live in, we’re all broken people in need of Jesus. (That’s what I like about Compassion: they recognize that it’s not all about money -- “The difference is Jesus.” ) But while I live my hard life, I can still apply Galations 6:10: “So, then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people.” And, just a few verses back, Galations 6:2: “Bear one another’s burdens.” My challenge, I think, is to find ways to do that -- not just for people across the continents in El Salvador -- but right here in my home town. Should I intensify my efforts to support Jeanci and her family, and perhaps others like them? Absolutely! (You can bet my letters will be far more frequent and personal from now on -- for starters!) But I need to be bearing the burdens of my neighbours as well, taking opportunities to do good to them, too. If you’ve stuck with me to this point in my post, I’m grateful for your indulgence of my wrestling through the work God is doing in my heart! As you can tell by the length of this post, once I turned the tap on, the words did flow. Does any of it apply to you? (I think it does ;) What are some specific ways we can be bearing one another’s burdens and doing good to all people? ●

January 2013 ~ Homeschool Horizons | 21

A time of quiet... and then out of the blue – “Why does Alaska belong to the States? It should belong to Russia or Canada. Why do they own something way up there? Was there a war?” Back to the fruit – “Have you ever eaten the green part of a watermelon? Why isn’t it as sweet? Maybe we should start eating at the green part and work our way in rather than the other way around so that it gets sweeter as you eat...” I could literally see the wheels turning in his mind as he processed, thought, reflected and imagined! What a joyful hour. On a different occasion, a homeschooling mom with her son and I were in that same room also waiting for ballet class to end. As the child did a ‘dot to dot’ or talked about his Lego creations, his eyes sparkled with story after story. What started as a simple explanation ended up with wildly imaginative stories and inventions of rockets and living on the moon! The active mind: it comes in so many shapes and styles. It manifests itself in stories, art, music, invention, construction, mathematics... and the list goes on. The above scenarios are a couple of examples of children with an active, engaged mind - a mind that can observe, question, and create. One of my goals as a homeschooling mom is to nurture my children toward an engaged brain (where creativity blossoms) vs. a passive ‘entertain me’ mentality (where boredom reigns). I am confident that homeschooling is the best place to meet this goal - and it will make waiting rooms much more bearable! Author John Taylor Gatto, New York State’s 1991 Teacher of the Year and anti-compulsory school spokesman, relates a story of his childhood when he once told his grandfather that he was bored. His grandfather promptly hit him over the head, told him boredom was his own fault, and to never mention that word in his presence again (Gatto, John Taylor, Weapons of Mass Instruction)!


aiting rooms are amazing places of testing -- testing patience perhaps, or on the positive side, testing creativity, imagination, and curiosity. Imagine a little room with no toys, no games, no TV, and no little hand-held computer entertainment system. A few days ago, in just such a room, I spent an hour with a homeschooling mom and her ten-year-old boy as we waited for our little ballerina daughters to get out of class. In this particular room, there was a table with a few chairs, a sink, a counter, a map of the world, and eight different construction paper fruits hung on the wall representing the fruit of the Spirit. From that sparse environment questions flew. “What is that fruit? A cantaloupe? Why doesn’t it look like one? Why do people think coconuts are brown?”

22 | Homeschool Horizons ~ January 2013

There are a few things against us in this endeavour to engage our brains. Fundamentally, we are a lazy people. We like the path of least resistance. The invention and popularity of objects such as garage door openers, fast food, and remote controls is evidence of our physical tendency toward laziness. The billion-dollar market of video and computer games, television, and movies is evidence of our tendency toward mental laziness. Engaging our brains is work. It is definitely easier to be entertained. Everywhere we look there seems to be something beckoning us to a passive kind of amusement. By the way, the prefix ‘a’ means ‘without’, so, ‘amusing’ literally means ‘without musing’, in other words, without contemplating or thinking. Can’t get much more passive than that! I can distinctly remember a time when I asked many questions, a time when I observed, a time when I wanted to understand. It ended about grade seven. Somewhere in those middle years, I learned instead how to take the ‘test’. I discovered I could get good marks without truly understanding. I also learned school was for sitting still and regurgitating information that was given. School was not the place for thinking outside the box. There was no bubble to colour on those multiple-choice tests for those who thought

Linda Hoffman, Ontario Homeschooling Since 1996 outside the box. It has taken decades to unravel, untangle, and start to ignite the spark of observation, questions, curiosity, and creativity back into my brain. How good it feels to ask an observant question again! It may be easier to be entertained. It may be work to engage our brains. Work is not the negative our culture has made it out to be! Being observant enough to have a question is actually a very exciting experience! If we have young enough children, their brains are likely still actively seeking. If our kids are older or have been in the school system, we may need to work a little bit more. If we want to reengage our own brains, it may take even more work to become observant again. I believe there are three keys to consider when learning to engage our brains - observation, questions, and adequate time. Observation This trait of observation is the first key to an engaged brain. Using all five senses is natural for our younger kids, but as we grow older, we tend to become less observant of the world around us. What is present? What is absent? What is consistent? What is changing? Are there patterns emerging? As our kids mature, we can go beyond our five senses to train them in observation. As they read a book or article, we can ask them to observe who wrote the piece, what worldview the author is coming from, what information is included, and what information has been excluded. This technique can be incorporated into all subjects – history, literature, science. It is amazing what we discover when we start seeking answers to these questions. Questions The second key is all the questions that will come from being so observant! What a privilege it is to homeschool and be able to take our kids’ questions seriously. Sometimes it seems like my daughter and I end up on a wild ride of tangents as one question leads to another, but it is so exciting to see her brain engaged during this process. Because she is observant and asks questions, my seven-year-old and I have had conversations that have lead to topics such as child labour, bigotry, and why spiders can walk upside down. On other occasions, I am the one who needs to observe and ask questions to help engage my children’s thinking. We had an awesome thunderstorm here last night - long rolling thunder that shook the whole house for up to ten seconds at a time, with torrential downpour and even hail! This morning I asked a simple question: “How can a sound shake the house?” After many ideas were offered, I explained sound waves. I explained that light has waves, and microwaves have waves, and radios have waves. We are walking through

lots of waves all day! After a few minutes, my youngest came and asked, “Do computers have waves too?” I love it. The engaged questioning mind! The mind that churns information and comes up with more questions – maybe immediately, or maybe hours or days later. This questioning on my part to bring about thinking in my children has been difficult for me for two reasons: first, I figured I should know the answer to every question I asked. Won’t I look dumb if I ask them something to which I don’t know the answer? Perhaps that was my own insecurity speaking, but what I have discovered is that it actually will give my kids more security to ask their own questions. If Mom doesn’t feel dumb asking questions, why should they? It’s a good role model I think for them to see that when Mom doesn’t know something, she has the curiosity and motivation to ask, seek, and hunt down an answer. Second, sometimes I just don’t know what to ask! I have figured out that this is due to not being observant myself. As I become more observant and curious, the questions start to come more easily. A Teachable Moment I am in a different waiting room today. In this room, there are 25 very abstract paintings and one block structure. There are four little girls and four parents. Perhaps you can guess the conversation. From the kids: “Why is that $550?” “Why are they selling Lego® blocks?” “What is it?” “Tectonic 320? What does that title mean?” From the parents: “I’m in the wrong business.” “Slop, slop, I’m done.” “Maybe the blocks are made of gold.” See the difference? The kids have questions; the adults do not. They are good questions worthy of figuring out. Why indeed are the paintings selling for so much money? Why are they selling a Lego® block construction? What does ‘tectonic’ mean? How could we use this environment to train our kids to engage their minds and imaginations? Art is not an area that I know much about - especially abstract art. Like the other parents in the room, I have no immediate answers to these children’s questions. However, that does not mean we cannot delve and discover together. If we treat our children’s questions as intelligent and worthy of discovery (especially when we have no clue as to the answers) we will find a huge world that unfolds before us. In the waiting room, my daughter and I found a two-page write-up on the artist. From that, we discussed such topics as physics (his art represented geometry and physics and a few mathematical words I did not know); countries with homonym names such as Hungary, Chile, and Turkey (the (Continued on Page 25...)

January 2013 ~ Homeschool Horizons | 23

Free Online Learning Resources for Teens

Website Design and Games Programming – Part 4 Lynn Long, Ontario - Homeschooling Since 2002


have continued to plug away at my web-design skills using the University of Washington’s free online “Web Design and Development 1” course and I am ready to review the last four units of this resource.

Unit Five: Overall Site Design and Management This module deals with how to ensure that your website is coded in a consistent and efficient manner so that it can be navigated and maintained easily.

When I finished my article for the last issue, I was working on “Unit Three: Formatting Web Pages with Style Sheets”. I warned that this unit could take some time to work through, and it did. As I moved through the remainder of the units, I found that this was generally true for the rest of the course. I suggest that if your teen really wants to learn to program in HTML, they will need to have some patience as they experiment with the coding and graphics described.

Unit Six: Introduction to Web-Authoring Software After going through the process of designing a website entirely by hand coding in HTML, this unit introduces you to web-authoring software that can simplify the process of creating a website. It goes on to emphasize the importance of understanding the HTML behind the scenes so that you can have a greater degree of control over your website’s content.

Unit Four: Graphics This unit begins by evaluating the use of graphics on various websites and determining how to use graphics effectively. It then goes on to address the issue of copyright and graphics use. Using a set of scenarios, it helps learners understand how they can respect copyright laws when designing their website.

Unit Seven If your teen has had the patience and persistence to work their way through this entire course, they will be thrilled to reach Unit Seven because this is when they get to create a unique website for themselves or someone else. This is the ultimate goal of learning HTML and will provide them with great satisfaction at the end of the course. ●

Module 2 introduces a variety of methods for obtaining graphics for a website and will require that your teen have access to both a scanner and a digital camera. These lessons take you through the process of uploading, cropping and resizing images to incorporate into your webpage. Modules 3 and 4 provide instruction on designing buttons, headers and other graphics for your website. Unfortunately, it assumes that teachers have provided graphics software to the students and does not mention which software could be used. In this case, good old “Paint” in the “Accessories” menu of most computers will work just fine but will not allow your graphics to be quite as sophisticated as the images shown in the course.

24 | Homeschool Horizons ~ January 2013

Is YOUR teen following along? If they’ve created their own website and would like to show it off to the homeschooling world, have them drop us a line at staff@homeschoolhorizons. ca and we’ll spotlight their efforts on our website! As they say in the web industry - it’s all about traffic!

(Continued from Page 23...) artist was internationally trained); and the concept of putting emotion to colour and shape (some of his art represented human emotion put to visual form). Sometimes we may not immediately find full answers to our questions, but we can receive a more complete understanding. Having an active, engaged mind helps to dispel a critical and judgmental attitude that comes from having preconceived ideas that are not based on knowledge or understanding. I may not understand abstract art, but I have a much deeper respect for the depth and breadth of knowledge of this particular artist. A questioning, engaged mind helps produce a fabulously well-rounded person, but eventually we will discover that our children show an interest in some things more than others. This is normal. It is okay not to be interested in everything. There are likely to be some areas where questions and curiosity are more evident, in which it becomes a sheer pleasure for our kids to involve their minds. Adequate Time I met a homeschooling mom the other day whose teen daughter spent four solid days drawing. Time flew past. It was this teen’s delight to engage her brain this way. This leads to the third key to an engaged brain: Time. As homeschoolers, we have a luxury that few in our society have anymore, and that is control over what we do with our time. We have time that is not boxed-in with someone else’s agenda and schedule, time to explore, experiment, and excite our imaginations. I have time to let my daughter decide which direction to turn when we go for a bike ride so she can explore a new area. When my eldest begins choreographing a new dance or writing a poem, there is no school bell to dictate the end of class, the end of creating. We have read many biographies in our homeschool, and one constant amongst all the creative people we have read about, whether inventor, mathematician, or artist, is that they had unlimited time - time to hole away somewhere undisturbed for hours or even days and allow their brains to engage. Likely only in homeschooling could this be a reality. When our children discover the topic that makes them get lost in time – with an engaged brain – they are likely on the right path to finding their calling. Having homeschooled a special needs child from birth through high school graduation, an article like this about an engaged mind would have made me grieve. For our child who has a major cognitive disability, questions were very uncommon events in our home. If you also have a child with a cognitive special need, perhaps you find that curiosity, self-motivation, and an active mind are not the norm. With homeschooling however, we can still work at finding an area that sparks an interest. Our daughter has found her niche and career in integrated dance and choreography. This is where her brain engages, her mind is alert, and she has joy.

DON’T MISS AN ISSUE! Is it time to RENEW? You don’t want to miss a single issue of inspiration and encouragement from our fantastic writing team! Is there a sticker on your magazine? What’s that all about?! Glad you asked! It means that THIS ISSUE is the LAST ISSUE of your current subscription! To make sure you keep on getting encouragement delivered to your mailbox all year long, visit: and *click* SUBSCRIBE! Again, THANK YOU for supporting our mission to offer support and encouragement across Canada and the United States, and we look forward to bringing you a quality magazine for years to come!

Whatever our situations, engaging our brains takes determination, effort, and focus. It is a worthy endeavour. So, next time you find yourself in a waiting room, try the ‘anti-amusement, activate the brain test’. Sit back, observe, and engage. ● Bibliography: Gatto, John Taylor: Weapons Instruction, New Society Publishers, 2009



January 2013 ~ Homeschool Horizons | 25

Teachable Moments:

Living Legacy

In everything, set them an example by doing what is good. Titus 2:7 Stephanie Jackson, Nova Scotia - Homeschooling Since 1998


s our children grow older and we enjoy each new adventure with them, it is exciting to see their interests develop and their strengths shine. Each child is unique and even though their life-goals mature as they do, it seems that the center of their passions is somewhat evident from an early age. What we model in our homes and in our lives sets a strong example for our children; it is not surprising that often their choices reflect ours. As parents, we have the awesome responsibility to train up our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). That does not mean that it is our job to tell them what to do as adults, but rather to instill in them the values we hold and provide them with the opportunities they need to pursue their dreams.

hammer and nails. He has developed Dinky Toy cities with infrastructure and has taken apart and reassembled more than his share of lawn mowers. Growing up, he worked for the Red Cross and the Lifesaving Society. He volunteered at summer camps and was involved in our local Sea Cadet Corps. I was the Commanding Officer of a Sea Cadet Corps and I was in the Naval Reserves for many years, developing cadet progammes and training officers in leadership. My dad and uncles were in the military; my grandfathers were in the military; my great-grandfathers and grand-uncles were in the military. Our son has married his interest in engineering with his value of service and followed the model of people he has seen go before him.

Growing up, it was always very important in our home that we deliberately give back to our community. The value of volunteer work and service was stressed as an invaluable contribution and really the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;least we could doâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; considering how much we had; some work was paid, much of it was volunteered. My brother worked with the Boys & Girls Club, I worked with the Red Cross, the Lifesaving Society and with other youth progammes. We never questioned whether we should be doing it. Service was a central component of our lifestyle and we were proud. As adults, my brother has been very involved in coaching football and our family has pursued ministry and homeschool support. Our children are growing up with the same standard we had and it is wonderful to see them choose to give back as well.

The behaviours and standards that we embrace teach our children the way we view our role in this world. Where we set our priorities and the ways we invest our time are examples to them of what is most valuable to us. We are very proud of our sons for the choices they are making for their careers. Service is important to us.

As they move into their teen years, we have seen our children model their career choices on us. Our younger son is passionate about justice. He has always defended the underdog and will go to great lengths to protect others he sees in danger of being hurt (whether they are being bullied or left out, playing in an unsafe way, or in general need of assistance). It is no surprise to us that he plans to pursue a career in law. He has talked about being a lawyer but his eyes light up when he has the opportunity to participate in ride-alongs with a friend who is an RCMP officer. His value of service has embedded itself in his career goals. Our older son has joined the military. He is studying to become an engineer. He has always enjoyed problem solving. Lego was perpetually underfoot when he was at home and many trees in our yard bear the scars of his

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Our daughters are not interested in following in the same jobs as their brothers but are seeking out other ways to reach out. Helping with the church nursery, teaching Sunday school, volunteering at homeschooling events, babysitting for free, even getting in the water before they are old enough to teach swimming on their own in order to help out with lessons; these are all ways they are living out the service model. I enjoy sewing and paper crafting, so does one of our girls. My husband and I both enjoy photography, so does one of our girls. Jeff is faithful about working around our house to take care of us and be a good steward of what we have. Our youngest daughter follows him everywhere. He enjoys listening to people share about themselves and our little girl will often seek out the company of adults because she loves to learn from them. Even before they are deciding what to do with their adult lives, our children are determining what to do with their day-to-day and we are always amazed at how big an impact our choices have on them. Unfortunately, our children also learn from our bad habits and poor choices. One of the biggest lessons we have learned as parents is the importance of saying (and meaning), â&#x20AC;&#x153;I

was wrong” and “I am sorry”. Our family struggles with many things and we get frustrated with one another and sometimes are even disappointed with behaviours, attitudes and choices that go on in our home. In fact, these challenges can overshadow our vision of the long term results of our parenting. It is an on-going journey to train our children and to train ourselves. It is easy to be selfish with our time or lazy with our relationships but those are things that must be dealt with. None of us is perfect and we fail on a regular basis, however by admitting it, fixing it and moving forward we continue to grow and become the people we strive to be. Sometimes, the result of our choices are not easily fixed and the repercussions can impact us and our family in ways we never imagined, but still our children see our desire to be the best we can be and to grow and serve and the attitude becomes more important than the results. As a parent, I have a living legacy in the lives of my children. The investment I make in them today will be reflected in who they are tomorrow. Whether or not they follow the career path I have chosen, if they homeschool or don’t, or if they live nearby or far away, the heart of who I am is manifested in the way I train, encourage and love my children. Someone once told me that the evidence of your parenting is demonstrated in your grandchildren. In other words, if you successfully passed on your values to your children, they will teach them to their children. As you go into your day and move through your homeschool year, consider the living legacy you are leaving your children. When you meet your grandchildren, what values you would like to see alive in them? And today, what are you going to do about it? ●

Am I always happy? No. I have my down days. But underlying any doom or gloom that might invade my mind, my heart knows joy. It’s only because of Him. And that deeply penetrating joy is my strength to endure whatever He walks me through.

January 2013 ~ Homeschool Horizons | 27

What About a High School Diploma?

Sarah Rainsberger, Prince Edward Island


hen families wonder, “What about high school?” often they are thinking, “What about getting a high school diploma?” Much of the time, they don’t realize that they don’t actually need a high school diploma in order to achieve their goals. But, there are cases where it’s not simply more convenient to have that diploma – it’s pretty much required. So I often begin the exploration of high school with an exploration of future goals, possibilities that people want to leave open, and therefore, a discussion of whether or not one ‘needs’ a high school diploma. Although they are becoming fewer and fewer, there are some academic and career paths that are simply not available to someone without a high school diploma. The door is shut, locked and guarded. That’s not to say that no one has ever managed to bypass all the security layers, but clearly this route demands considerably more time and effort than the average person will want, or perhaps be able, to invest. It’s always ‘possible’ that a guard has left the door unlocked and temporarily wandered away: no security system is perfect. But if it’s a door you’ve decided you ‘must’ get through, then do you want to spend your life watching and waiting for the perfect moment? On the other hand, you might be surprised how many other doors really are unlocked for those without traditional credentials. Often a door is simply closed – which can look the same as a locked door – but all you really have to do is turn the handle. It takes a little more effort to go through if you have to open the door yourself first, but you’re certainly not shut out. Many, and perhaps even most, of the doors you’ll find will be of this type. So if you’re happy playing the odds, you may conclude that you’re satisfied with an academic or career path that includes trying a bunch of handles, and if a door can’t be opened with reasonable effort, you’ll simply choose another one. So which of those doors are those truly locked and guarded? Probably things like law school and medical school, right? Actually no. If you want to be a lawyer or a doctor, feel free to forgo a high school diploma! What about a teacher, professor, economist, psychologist, historian, software developer… they’re all professions you can easily enter without a high school diploma, too! So, where does the problem lie? Firstly, progammes offered by community colleges in some provinces (not universities) are more difficult to enter without a high school diploma. Colleges tend to have less flexibile admission requirements than universities, often due to agreements in place between colleges and provincial governments. For example, colleges are more likely to

28 | Homeschool Horizons ~ January 2013

be used for implementing government-created education progammes (such as apprenticeships) that often include admission requirements beyond the control of any individual college. In other cases, the generic requirement of a high school diploma has simply never been challenged or explored, so you’ll often find that everyone at the college just assumes it’s an unbreakable rule. (Fortunately, this isn’t true everywhere, but unfortunately it’s common enough to be the default situation that most people encounter.) Secondly, positions or progammemes that require a high school diploma or General Education Diploma (GED) may be living in the past when it comes to admission requirements. Often they are trying to weed out people who are dropouts. This means that when an applicant has no official high school diploma, they value formal credential such as the GED to demonstrate that he or she didn’t just give up on high school. These programmes tend to have less experience with alternatively-educated students like homeschoolers, and may even rely on government funding (or be bound to other legal or administrative guidelines) that requires that their applicants have a diploma. If a position or programme can’t receive the government funding it expects or if will be found in violation of a rule or policy, then there is not much incentive to accept such a candidate. Of course, earning a GED is one way around this issue. But, that will affect how you plan your high school programming because you don’t want to find out you’ll need this credential after you think you have ‘finished’ high school! Thirdly, post-secondary institutions around the world may not be as accommodating to homeschoolers as North American universities are. Most Canadian universities have homeschooling policies in place. A school may not have a lot of experience with homeschoolers, but for the most part, these applicants are on everyone’s radar. Colleges and universities in the U.S. have a long tradition of accepting homeschoolers; homeschooled applicants are not uncommon in the U.S. and many prestigious schools even seek them out. Several countries, though, still outlaw homeschooling. And more still do not encourage or support home education. Consequently, their universities (including other educational progammes, internships, apprenticeships, and career schools) may simply not be in a position to accept a student fresh out of Homeschool High without a government-accredited high school diploma. Also remember that applying for a student visa to another country can be an involved process. Depending on the country, red flags could be raised if you lack a high school diploma to prove that your application is legitimately for higher education. If you’re not sure whether you’ll need a high school diploma,

the first thing to do is figure out whether what you want to do (or what you think you might want to do) requires a college education (as opposed to a university education) or involves foreign education. There are some professions in Canada whose entry is regulated by the college system, notably in Ontario some popular choices within the healthcare industry including some nursing, social work, technician and emergency care positions. If it is a college progamme that interests you, then find two or three colleges offing that progamme and work with their admissions departments as early as possible to find out whether the lack of a high school diploma will be a problem. If you’re interested in a foreign progamme, contact the school and ask whether they have experience admitting homeschoolers. In all situations, it is good to get information from potential schools well in advance of applying. How will they assess your application? Will they take Advanced Placement exams or SAT Subject tests into account as proof of subject-specific pre-requisites? If you do a general introductory year by correspondence at an open university, will they allow you to apply as a university transfer student and waive the high school diploma requirement? Will they consider your application if you take your senior year of high school through an accredited school (even without the full diploma) so that you can present all the required courses for the progamme? Is there an opportunity for you to present a portfolio of your work? Do they have admissions or placement testing of their own that you can take to demonstrate academic readiness for their progamme? Will you have an easier time applying later, as a mature student, without a diploma? What other backgrounds can applicants have which will render the high school diploma less of an issue (university course work, a previous university degree, a number of years of experience in the field)? I want to emphasize that between homeschool admission policies, open universities and mature student provisions, no homeschooled student is in danger of being completely shut out of Canada’s post-secondary system. However, if you have your heart set on specific schools or programmes, you must check admissions requirements carefully. There are always solutions, but you have to weigh the additional time, effort and expense against simply earning a high school diploma in the first place. Even the most rigid of admissions criteria can bend a little if you are willing to: - build a relationship with a sympathetic admissions officer, and work with them to fully understand why their school requires a high school diploma, and to see whether the phrase ‘or equivalent’ can be added to official policy document; - wait until you are old enough to be considered as a ‘mature student’ (18, 19 or 21 years old, depending on the institution) and spend the intervening time becoming a desirable applicant with other experiences and achievements; or, - first earn a post-secondary credential from a school whose admission criteria you do satisfy, and then apply to a school that would not waive the high school diploma requirement. Stay tuned for an upcoming article where I answer the question, “What about high school?” with another question:

say ?! e ” h l s o d o Di sch h g i ing h



“What about skipping high school?” ●

January 2013 ~ Homeschool Horizons | 29

Jennifer MacLeod, Ontario - Homeschooling Since 2009


f you’d have asked a few months ago, I’d have said, “Nope, no challenges here.” Seriously – don’t everybody pelt me with tomatoes at once. My mother and in-laws totally support our homeschooling. No legal hurdles – no truant officers or reporting hassles. We’ve got a whole city’s worth of offerings just a subway ride away: from zoos to opera, historical homes to ballet, nature walks to symphonies – no end to activities on a typical weekday. Both of our younger kids learned to read easily and are also possessed of an uncanny love of playing quietly in the morning, letting me doze long after the elementary school across the street has rung its starting bell. Ahh… just pass me the bonbons while I lie back here and… Huh? What happened? Why are all those shiny schoolbooks gathering dust? Why are we so far behind? A few months into the school year and I’m utterly bogged down. Chefs call this state ‘in the weeds,’ when they’re utterly unable to keep up with hungry customers. Every day, more and more subjects pass undone as I struggle to keep afloat with just the basics: math, phonics, and handwriting. I’m literally forgetting some favourites, it’s been so long since we did them. Logic? We love it! Latin? The kids keep begging for our next chapter! Music? Art? Yes – but when? Progammes that were a highlight of our homeschool lives just a year ago, I’m now tossing by the wayside like an icepack in a snowstorm: “What the heck am I supposed to do with this?” – or, in this case, “When the heck am I supposed to do this?” So what happened? Thank God, absolutely nothing – except me and my own good intentions. We’re all healthy, safe, warm, fed, and, if not wealthy, getting by. True, I’m working more than I used to now that the kids are older, but if I want to be totally honest, the problem is me and my big ambitions. You see, when I first started homeschooling, I met another homeschooling mom whose attitude rubbed me the wrong way. When I invited her along on one of the group field trips I was so proud to have organized, she declined, saying, “We’re so busy with our work, there really isn’t any time for 30 | Homeschool Horizons ~ January 2013

trips.” That stung. No time? I’d show her: our trips are not separate, they’re an important part of our school lives. And I still believe that; honest, I do. But now that the trips are piled up – sometimes two a week, on top of gymnastics, homeschool drop-in gym, dance, ballet, and swimming lessons… it’s just too much. Pile all of that on top of the regular business of running a household: laundry, suppers, and two cranky high schoolers who – despite one having reached the age of majority – seem to grow emotionally needier every day, and you’ve got a recipe for burnout. Which is where I seem to have arrived despite our “easy” homeschooling life of no obstacles or challenges whatsoever. My unschooling friends would tell me the answer is staring me right in the face. I’m here for the kids’ sake, not the curriculum’s. If the kids are happy, learning and growing every day, then we are right where they need to be, whether we’re at an agricultural fair or the ballet or shopping at the mall. On the other hand, I’m sure some school-at-home folks would tell me nicely – like that lady a few years ago – that this guilty conscience is tapping me on the shoulder for a reason: I should probably just get busy teaching the material and let the trips fall by the wayside. My kids may enjoy our outings, but they’re missing out on the blessings of a regular schedule and educational continuity. After all, kids in classrooms get only three or four field trips a year – if that, now that standardized testing, budget cutbacks and “virtual field trips” (essentially, YouTube videos and 3D panoramas) confine them to their school walls for longer and longer stretches. An article in October’s Cincinnati Enquirer by Michael D. Clark bemoaned the decline of field trips in the U.S. (blaming the policy of “No Child Left Behind”, among other factors) and quoted Regina Russo, director of marketing and communications for the Cincinnati Art Museum, which sees 3000 fewer students a year now than in 2009. Russo said, “In order for teachers to justify a field trip… they often must show that the content of their field trip will meet a tested standard.”

My own impromptu field trips (“wow – that looks interesting!”) would never pass muster. But as laughable as it might sound to many homeschoolers that trips must meet arbitrary standards – and as cynical as I can be about glorified party places that fluff up their flimsy offerings to attract field-trip dollars – it’s also true that that outings that meet no standards, that don’t tie in with what we’re learning, that don’t offer unique, eye-opening experiences, may well detract from our overall learning goals – creating obstacles rather than completing the puzzle of a comprehensive education. As one homeschooling mother told me, “My motto is, ‘Just because it is a good thing doesn’t mean it’s a good thing for my family at this time.’ I’ve known a few families that just can’t seem to say no,” she says, “and it has truly hurt their family.” I hope she’s not counting us – I believe I’m nipping this in the bud, while the kids are young and before the stress hurts us in any big way. With kids eight and ten years old, this mom has limited trips to two a month, max. As for ‘limited’, at two a month during the school year, they still get 15 to 18 field trips. “That’s a lot!” As for us, with supportive families and friends, kids eager to learn, and a big city oozing with field-trip possibilities… I marvel at all our blessings: not every homeschooler has this much freedom. But a freedom that has us marching from one activity to another, from one community centre to another, from one slushy street to another, when we’d all rather be cosied up at home with our history books – that kind of ‘freedom’ is no freedom at all. To all our great trips, past, present and future – I’m afraid I have just one question: “What have you done for us lately?” I’ll always love you, but I love my kids, and my sanity, far, far more. I hope we can still be friends – very good friends, maybe with (strictly educational!) benefits. But I want you to know: it’s not you, it’s me, I just need a little space. Well, that and about 300 hours to catch up on Latin… and (ever the optimist!) some bonbons, in case I get bored. ●

See what others are doing, but don’t set them as standards for your family. It’s good to get ideas and learn from others about what works for them. The problem arises when we start thinking, “I should be doing that...” Comparison just breeds discontentment. January 2013 ~ Homeschool Horizons | 31

Everything’s Under Control!

Maxine McLellan, Ontario Home educated her children and two others from 1985 to 2005


et’s face it, some days being a homeschooling parent “just ain’t what it’s cracked up to be!” “Like, really, whose children are these anyway? They can’t be mine because if they were, surely they would be little angels, even model little angels, right?” Let’s back up for a moment. When you first embarked on the journey of home educating yourself and your children, hopefully you wrote out exactly why you chose this important, yet sometimes challenging, path. Call it a vision statement, a mission or a purpose statement, an agreement, a plan – whatever. If you have not yet done this then I urge you to do so right now! In fact, stop reading now, go get paper and a blue ink pen (there is a positive vibrational frequency to blue ink!) and write out exactly why you are educating your children at home. Put it in a safe place where you will find it when needed! When you are finished, be sure to come back and finish reading this article! I know that not everyone reading this embraces a Christian

perspective on life, some of you may not even believe in God, but keep reading because there are nuggets here for you too. For those of us who do – we are very thankful to have God to depend on to get us through those challenging days. You know, those days when you declare, “OK. I quit. Where’s the nearest school? Any school will do because I just can’t handle it anymore!” ‘It’ could be the children themselves, financial stress, feelings of inadequacy, poor health, non-support from a spouse and/or family, heavy schedule, disappointment in slow progress, and your unique list continues. Sometimes it just seems everything appears to be out of control. When your life seems out of your control, remember, God is always in control. Do some deep breathing exercises and focus on God being in control as the stress and tension slip away from your thoughts. It may seem strange, but it really does help to firmly tap the top of your head and/or your temples while you breath deeply in and out, thinking calming thoughts. It is also helpful to call a cheerful friend who can be a listening ear and may help you gain a new perspective or give you positive advice about a problem being faced.


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Join thousands of others in rewarding their students An economic and effective system to motivate and reward student achievements. 32 | Homeschool Horizons ~ January 2013

Set out cheerful flowers, real or artificial, and sing or listen to uplifting songs. One of my favourites is, “His Strength is perfect, when our strength is gone. He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on!” Post encouraging Scriptures, poems and short quotes around the house and read them – out loud! One of my favourites is on a little plaque sitting right beside my computer monitor – “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!” (Phil. 1:4) During difficult times a favourite poem written by a friend comes to mind and hopefully it will be an encouragement to you. It is called, “Everything’s Under Control.” Everything’s under control, Praise God, there’s peace in my soul; Though problems abound, I have heard the blessed sound — “Everything’s under control.” Sometimes we wrestle so long with problems when things all go wrong. Our minds may not see What the answer might be, but everything’s under control.

that the answer you need, the solution, or the success you have struggled for, is just about to move into view on that radar screen. Take another look: you may be surprised at just what is around the corner or just off the edge of the screen. Sometimes you just have to make a little change, a little tweak to how you have been doing something, a little adjustment in your attitude, a shift in the angle from which you have been looking at or approaching a challenge, and suddenly the whole picture or view changes for the positive. More often than not, reading your vision or plan from when you first started on the journey – or which you wrote just moments ago – will get you back on track by reminding you of your original purpose and commitment. Consider these words of wisdom by Robert Half: “When faced with a mountain, I will not quit! I will keep on striving until I climb over, find a pass through, tunnel underneath or simply stay and turn the mountain into a gold mine, with God’s help!” ●

The controlling is not done by me; Though things aren’t as I’d like them to be. But when I’ve done my best, God takes care of the rest, And everything’s under control. Praise God, when I’m in His control, And to Him have committed the whole, His loving wisdom and might Will make things turn out right For everything’s under control. By Honoria Groves, I have been challenged and encouraged over the years with the following words (by writer unknown to me): “The way of obedience is the way of blessing; we stumble over pebbles, not mountains; brooding over the past paralyses the present and bankrupts the future!” You’ve decided to educate your children at home, except that some days it is HARD! You have to focus on the good days, the good times and the successes - no matter how small they may be. When you began the homeschooling journey, you no doubt made a promise to yourself; in obedience to that promise to yourself, and perhaps even to God and your children, don’t let the pebbles of frustration or the mountains of discouragement paralyse your present and bankrupt the future. Got a pebble? Kick it out of the way and keep walking forward. Got a mountain? Remove it by replacing each discouragement with a shovelful of positive thoughts and positive action. Earl Nightingale once said that you get what you think about most of the time. If you think of frustration, failure, disappointment and inadequacy, they are what you will attract and get; if you think about moving forward, success, excitement, enjoyment, learning and growing, then, yup, that is exactly what you will get! The choice is yours. Your life, your circumstances and your problems, are like a little dot on the radar screen of the universe. At any precise moment, with your limited vision, you can’t always see the solution from where you are standing. You might not know

January 2013 ~ Homeschool Horizons | 33

Bullies & Victims: How You Can Help

Lisa-Marie Fletcher, Ontario - Homeschooling Since 2008


itso.” My first nickname. I was in Grade 3. It made all the other kids in my class laugh at me, and it stuck. In Grade 6, I was at a different school – and my only friend was the teacher. The students were vile and mean there and I left the next year in Grade 7. That was the year the older kids would spit on my head at the bus stop, the year mass hysterics happened when they found out my crush on one of the boys, the year they teased me for never having shaved my legs, the year I discovered volunteering in the school library was my only refuge during recesses. In the few years of elementary school, I’d gone from being a fairly confident young child to a self-hating youth who couldn’t talk, had few friends, and spent most of the time just trying to blend into the walls. The dictionary defines the act of bullying as “the act of intimidating a weaker person to make them do something.” But, has a better one: “Bullying is abuse.” It’s time we call it as it is. Bullying does not have to be tolerated anymore. It’s NOT a required part of childhood. It doesn’t need to happen to ANY kid. Ever. Period. No matter what anyone says. This topic has been highly spotlighted in the media lately. In part, sadly, because of experiences like that of Canadian teen Amanda Todd and video pleas by other hurting, angry, beaten-down teens. Anti-bullying campaigns are in full swing to bring bullying to an end. But are they really doing anything? The huge increase of homeschooling in our country is partly due to parents and kids searching for an alternative to the school system in which they feel threatened. Homeschooling your child can probably not completely protect them from the trauma of being bullied; any time a group of kids are together, there’s always the risk of bullying. However, you, their parent, can give them the confidence to not let others browbeat them. Three things you can do to help: 1. Step in and stop the action. Don’t just be a bystander – get involved. Kids who are bullying others need to know that what they are doing is wrong. Even if the child on the receiving end isn’t yours, help them. Voice what they can’t and make the action stop. 2. Believe your child if they come to you for help. Follow up on the situation and work together with the perceived bully to come to a positive solution. Don’t be idle. 3. Teach your kids to be proactive. If they are being bullied,

34 | Homeschool Horizons ~ January 2013

teach them that they don’t have to accept it and give them tools for success, such as: - verbally responding to a bully in a clear, calm, authoritative voice telling them “no”; - laughing the situation off; - walking away is perfectly ok; - coming to you for support as an adult, and you will believe them; and, - being allowed to remove themselves from the conditions surrounding the bullying, if needed. What if your child IS the bully? As the parent of a child with a very strong personality, a child who has mastered the art of intimidation on his brothers in order to get what he wants or to feel the satisfaction of feeling a sense of power, this is an area that stresses me out. While I’ve never seen my son’s bullying behaviour used on anyone other than his own siblings, it concerns me nonetheless. There are many tools available to help parents of students who are being bullied, but very few for the parents of the bullies. I have found many parent-guilt articles, telling me to cut down on violent TV shows and games, to have stronger parenting skills, and to talk to my child about how firearms are dangerous. Really? This isn’t what I need to hear. I want real hands-on advice on how to work with my son to make sure the behaviour stops. Some tips for parents of bullies: 1. Step in. Be involved. Don’t just watch from the sidelines and let them work it out themselves: stop the negative behaviour immediately and come up with a solution. Protect the weaker one from harm. 2. Work with the child, outside of the situation, to come up with better responses and behaviours. One tool that is very handy is “Kelso’s Choice” (, a program that teaches conflict-management skills. The program has a chart providing positive solutions for how to deal with problems rather than hitting and intimidation, such as: sharing, turn taking, walking away, or coming up with another idea. While these might not always apply to every situation, it’s helpful to have these options fresh in your child’s mind during situations they might find stressful. Role-play and interact. 3. Give them some responsibility. I believe that many kids who are bullies actually feel a significant lack of power in their own life, such that they feel they need to get power somehow. By giving them something to be powerful with – a special chore or a pet or something of the like – they are not going to need as much satisfaction elsewhere.

4. If your child is really angry and lashes out at others in an aggressive way, find them a different outlet for that emotion, things like punching bags, exercise, screaming into pillows, or calming corners. Help them channel negative energy away from other people. 5. Isolate the aggressor and give them quality attention. One of the bonuses of being a homeschooling family is that this can be done at just about any time of the day. If you see one of your kids being a bully, you can separate them from the other kids and just love on them abundantly until they are ready to join the rest of the gang again. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a hug. Other times, it might be reading together, or making cookies, or even taking them for a walk. As for me, I finally found myself in my teens. Thanks to an amazing vocal teacher, I discovered I could sing solos in front of large crowds and my confidence came back. I could talk in front of people again. My church youth group became my life – I didn’t need validation or approval from the kids in my school. I became independent and strong. Bullying didn’t destroy me. I was lucky. ●

God is the Creator. If I am made in His image, fashioned after Him, then I am created to be creative!

January 2013 ~ Homeschool Horizons | 35

10 Fixes for Those “Crum D

o you ever have homeschooling days where you wish you’d sent your kids off in a bright-yellow school bus earlier that morning? I’m sure you’ve had moments so challenging that you were tempted to phone the local school and drop the kiddos off, ASAP. Don’t deny it. I know those thoughts cross my mind occasionally, and I’m sure most homeschooling parents have entertained the idea at some point. (One mom even confessed to me she feels like that every day!) No matter how rewarding homeschooling is or how important our kids are, some days simply fail to meet the idealistic vision we have of how things should be. Instead of everyone working harmoniously in a nice tidy, organized house, efficiently finishing schooling by noon and spending the afternoon on exciting nature walks – you might have one of those really BAD days. Ever get up to face the pile of last night’s dirty dishes and messy kitchen – which you didn’t get around to because toddler got out of bed a gazillion times and you had a bad headache all evening. When everyone starts the day grouchy because breakfast is late and somebody spills ALL the milk for cereal and you have to stop and actually make something. For some bizarre reason, the phone is ringing off the hook, toddler-tot is particularly grumpy, and you can’t FIND the workbook your older child is supposed to be using. While you have your back turned, a child happens to make a pretty drawing all over the wall, in permanent ink. When you finally pull yourself together and get everyone presentable enough to rush off to dance class, you get in your van only to discover that it won’t start! Don’t get me wrong, most days at our house aren’t like that, but sometimes we have an off day. In my early years of homeschooling, those crazy days used to scare me and I’d think I was a failure as a homeschooling parent. Now however, I understand that bad days just happen: they could be caused by a child who’s overtired, mom’s hormones, stress or anxiety, poor planning, or sometimes things just don’t go as planned and we don’t know why. Instead of throwing my hands up in the air as our day and home unravel, I’ve found some coping mechanisms, which often work to get us back 36 | Homeschool Horizons ~ January 2013

on track. If one method doesn’t work, sometimes another can pull the day back toward peace and productivity. 1) Pause and put out the fire Don’t write the day off and give up. Instead, pause, and see if you can uncover what the main source of stress is. Are you frustrated because the house is untidy? Tired? Is one of your kids being particularly ‘unlikeable’? Are they stuck on something difficult? It’s often better to simply stop and work on the issue right away, than to let things drag on. If you can stop the rivalry immediately, or get that “busy” toddler occupied right away, you’ll often find the day proceeds more smoothly. 2) Create a diversion A few years ago, our kids had been bickering all morning when, finally frustrated, I said, “Put on your coats and get in the van.” We drove to a local animal sanctuary and went for a short walk, then they did some of their worksheets while sitting on the dock watching the ducks. Their bad mood was broken, the arguing stopped, and they got along well the rest of the day. Why not suddenly shake things up a bit and suggest doing school in the backyard, on the couch, in the playhouse, on the trampoline, anywhere other than where you normally work? Go out and bring work along to do at the park. Obviously, I’m not suggesting that you do this every day, but for some of those really grumpy moments, a sudden diversion can work wonders. 3) Use “positive motivation” (aka rewards) Children can be overwhelmed when they don’t fully understand what is expected of them. If they’re having a bad day, take time to spell out what you would like to see accomplished that day, and what they can expect when that is completed. Find something your child enjoys doing and use it to motivate them. Explain what you expect to have done, and what result they will have when that is accomplished. “If you can work ten more minutes on your science, then you can have a break to play outside.” “If you’ll finish reading the chapter, then you can draw, play blocks or jump on the trampoline.”

Sara Ojala, British Columbia Homeschooling Since 2007

mmy” Homeschool Days Instead of using negative consequences as a motivation try to use positive ones. “If you get this work done by eleven o’clock you can have twenty minutes on the computer,” is much more pleasant than “If you don’t stop that you’re not going on the computer today!” 4) Divide and conquer Separating squabbling siblings can really settle things down. Let one work at the table, the other at the desk, one on the couch, and another on the computer, and a toddler can have a bucket of toys in the living room or playpen. Break the teasing cycle before it escalates into a full-scale war. It is okay to give one child a short break so you can stop and explain something to another. In the long run, this is much more time effective than to be simultaneously trying to teach different things to different people at the same time. Stagger your subjects if you have to, and you’ll find it works wonders. 5) Clean up a mess Maybe the source of stress is that you’re walking on crumbs, or your garbage is overflowing, or some other mess is bothering you. Kids can feel our stress and this is often reflected in their behaviour. Taking a few minutes to deal with the problem irritating you may help get things back on track. Our carpet often bugs me, and with four kids it certainly needs a great deal of vacuuming, so sometimes I’ll just go over it quickly while the kids are busy, or I’ll deal with a sink of dirty dishes while they’re eating their snack. Other times I’ll let them know we won’t be having snack until everyone pitches in to help tidy the dining room. 6) Make a mess Declaring “Art time” is usually helpful and tends to brighten kids’ mood. Cover the table in newspaper and let them do something out of the ordinary – paint rocks, do potato prints, weave construction paper strips, make play dough. 7) Go high-tech If the kids and I just need a few minutes of quiet to regroup, I’ll sometimes set them up with an online video related to

something they’re learning about. Putting on an educational DVD can be very helpful so you can sit and nurse baby, change the laundry or tidy up after lunch. Adding multimedia also gives the chance to broaden ones’ learning experience, and gives mom a much-needed break. 8) Take a breather Often kids behave poorly because they’re not sure how to let us know they need a break. Maybe their hand is tired, or focusing is just too hard at the moment. Usually, after a brief break for play, my kids come back more focused and willing to dig in. I’m not saying to reward bad behaviour with fun playtime, but rather to be aware of when you child may have ‘had it!’ and schedule accordingly. A ten- or fifteenminute break may be all they need to help them be in a better mood. 9) Cuddle on the couch Calling everyone to the couch to listen to read-alouds has been one of my favourite homeschool blessings. It gives a chance for the kids to relax and rest their hands, and lets the little tots have some time cuddling on mom’s lap. Pull out a fun book and gather them all for some snuggle and reading time, and I’m sure you’ll notice everyone is much happier afterwards. 10) Get moving Give your children a chance to jump on the trampoline, play tag, do an obstacle course, exercise with a video, or do something to get their squigglies out and they’re sure to feel better after. I find a short walk down the street and some fresh air is great for lifting the spirits. Hopefully these ideas will be as helpful to you as they have been to us. Above all, remember bad days are bound to come once in a while. Just keep things in perspective, work through the situation, and be mindful of the fact that the day is what you make of it. ●

bd January 2013 ~ Homeschool Horizons | 37

Living up to the Label


Kelly Stewart, British Columbia


s homeschooling not the most humbling job there is? Some onlookers, handy with phrases like, “Oh! I could NEVER do THAT!” seem to think homeschoolers are akin to superheroes or something. I’m here to say, maybe we are. September always seems to start with the energy that goes along with the new and the fresh. By week five or six, the need for some of that superhero power becomes evident and it pays to consider that by the time February rolls around many homeschoolers are fantasizing about the neighbourhood school and uninterrupted minutes alone. It’s humbling to recognize our own limitations. It’s not usually one day here or there that makes it tough, it’s the very ‘dailyness’ of the job that grinds us down. Do you ever find yourself the only person in your whole house motivated to do what needs to be done everyday, all day? Believe it or not, in my house I’ve discovered that my four ‘co-workers’ are actually subverting my plans in an effort to lessen their workload! It’s tiring. As the dreariest, coldest part of the Canadian year is cresting, when the festivities of the holidays are past and summer is distant, it’s not surprising that the shine of September might be wearing thin, along with our patience and perseverance. It’s a great season to be real with our homeschooling selves and admit when something needs to change. In fact it’s at these times, the desperate times, that I think we really do have some of the ‘superhero’ about us. Being successful isn’t never being discouraged; rather, it’s being discouraged,

38 | Homeschool Horizons ~ January 2013

and finding a way to get it done anyway. That really does feel like something superhuman. Finding a way to fulfill all the needs, educational and otherwise, of however many different people are in our charge is an intimidating job and requires us to have some very ‘real’ moments. Denying our limits and feelings of burnout doesn’t work: they are real and happen to the best of us. Yelling and complaining about our frustration is not productive; neither is sinking into the depression of worthless failure – easy to do but not helpful for anyone involved. How about a vacation to Disneyland – yes! That was a great answer for us one year, unfortunately not very repeatable on a regular basis (and reality can really hit with a vengeance afterward!). I’m learning to notice the early signs of burnout in the kids or me, and to take proactive measures to make sure I’m not falling into one of these traps (yelling is one of my favourites). Sometimes emergency tactics can help: fieldtrips to get out of the house, service projects to take our focus off ourselves, a mini break, cultural meals to spice up dinner, going to the pool or planning summer vacation as season-bending activities, taking time for some of those cool educational projects that never seem to get done, maybe even repainting the school room or starting a new subject or outside class. We have February birthdays during which cake and parties help to break up a couple of weeks. Some years, we’ve made Fridays visiting-Grandma days. The kids have done

A {Hard}Day in the Life of a Homeschooling Mama


short-term art classes and other spur-of-the-moment things when I’ve felt like we were caged in. You can probably think of great ideas for your family for a little diversion during the dark months and these can make all the difference. How about heading off some of these bleak times before they happen? This is a good time to re-evaluate how and why we do school the way we do. There is less energy available to conjure up what our perfect homeschool could be and more honest facts about how things are in reality. Are our choices this year working? Do they make sense alongside who I am as a teacher and who my students are? What are the dynamics that are making school difficult? And, how can I work with them instead of against them? Sometimes these questions are easier to answer before those glossy curriculum catalogues arrive in the spring! There are no absolutely right answers, nor wrong answers except maybe trying to fit that square child (or teacher) into a round hole when a perfectly adequate square hole is available. I may be a slow learner but after eight years of schooling my four children – not to mention myself – the days of considering failure to be outsourcing classes or using standard texts and maybe a school-ish schedule are fading into a distant fantasy homeschool I once dreamed up. Over the last few years, I have actively pursued a homeschool that works not only for my wonderfully unique children but also for me, their wonderfully unique teacher and my husband (also unique) and our family as a unique unit. It has required letting go of some things on which I had initially set my heart (note the ‘I’) and to embrace other forms of learning that result in a happier family overall. After all ‘homeschool’ starts with ‘home’, where the heart is, where I want my family and me to love to be. I don’t argue anymore when people tell me that they can’t do what I do: sometimes I can’t do what I do! Homeschooling has brought me to the end of myself. The more I humbly recognize the limitations of my students, myself and our circumstances, the more superhero power I have to put into finding solutions to accomplish my goals. I want to stay this course for as long as it benefits my family and to arrive on the other side of four graduations with energy and enthusiasm left to devote to my grandchildren (Lord willing!). I guess if that makes me a superhero, I’ll wear the label proudly! ●

Slightly short on sleep, she rises, ready to read the Word, wanting that Water to wash away the worries of yesterday, and today, and tomorrow -the naysayers of Now. But she lingered a little too long, and now padded patters mingle with the jingle of dog tags. The house is astir, and peace is pierced by demands for food, fresh air , The “quiet time” will have to wait, and she chides herself for not getting up earlier. At least there’s the regular readings with the children – passages and prayers that turn all eyes to Him -for the millisecond that separates squabbles and scuffles. Grace. Gratitude. She grapples for them, knowing that therein lie the miracles that will make the day right. Her head and heart heave with the knowledge that those miracles are hers to have – to hold and hand over to her children. But it’s hard. Simple. But hard. The recognized lie of “not enough”-strength, wisdom, patience -pushes her to pray and tap into Truth, the only Power to prove the miracle. And when she does all is not perfect, but Peace presides. This lesson learned requires review – repeated recollections, hour by hour, minute by minute, that His strength is made perfect in her weakness. Moments of mercy – His through her – make amends to the day. Readings and ramblings, capers and calculations, are interspersed with glimpses of Glory – Glory that gives hope for the Now of her tomorrow.

Homeschool Peek

A Glimpse Into Homechools Across Canada A Typical Day, Sitting on the Fence I try so hard to make our days “typical”. I have a M.O.T.H. schedule* colour-coded on the fridge and my Franklin planner at hand, the daily school list for my students pre-printed for the day, yet none of these ensure a “typical” day! Typical, to me, means a day with its regular order of events, accomplishing what has been preplanned with great care, with a regular wakeup and finish-up time to bookend the day. My youngest being five years old, I can no longer blame atypical days on rogue diapers or missing naps. I am rapidly being cornered into admitting that the problem is me. I sit on a well-known fence, which I’m sure is in view of almost every homeschooler and, although most people have chosen one side or the other, I totter uncomfortably on the top rail. To my left is the most beautiful rolling meadow, filled with laughing, vivacious children freely and deeply learning life’s lessons as they unschool their way to a creative meaningful future. On my right is a perfect patchwork of farmland, each neat rectangle a well-defined subject, filled with studious, uniformed, bright scholars raising their eager hands to grasp scholarships and to enter the ‘Great Conversation’. I can never hop off onto either side, since leaning one way or the other causes the mommy-guilt to set in, hard. Although this may seem a rather philosophical issue, it has presented itself each morning for the last twelve years and is as tangible as whether we eat Fruit Loops or eggs for breakfast. One choice is a childhood rite of passage; the other provides a sensible fuel to keep mind and body well tuned and ready to serve. The conflict in my head forever rages… We should get up. Start the day! We could have grammar done by 9am! That would leave time for learning that song about the Prime Ministers, narrating and notebooking geometry, and Paige could finally start Greek; she IS in Grade 2! These thoughts which are then quickly tempered. Aw, they’re just kids. I love snuggling my five-year-old for Cat in the Hat, and that’s not going to last much longer! I don’t want to be a slave driver after all, and Jenna’s so not a morning person, no need to beat the internal clock to death. And on it goes: the War Within. So, I’ll leave my “Winter Weekday Schedule” to the imagination and just say that if we hit the table by 9ish for devotions I’m ok with it; if we’re finished our work by 3pm, so much the better. If the twelve-year-old is not still sitting in front of his self-imposed homework by 8pm, it’s been a reasonable day. And, when I decide which side of the fence I like better, I’ll write a really useful article. Kelly in British Columbia

*M.O.T.H.: Manager’s of Their Homes - A Practical Guide To Daily Scheduling For Christian Homeschool Families. Steve and Teri Maxwell.

40 | Homeschool Horizons ~ January 2013

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Homeschool Horizons January 2013  
Homeschool Horizons January 2013  

Facing Life's Challenges is the January 2013 issue of Homeschool Horizons. This issue not only will encourage you as you face the challenge...