THSC Review Summer 2017

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Falling in Love with Foreign Languages


Systematic Rewards for Good Results Yearning for Friendship: The Struggle is Real New Perspectives Through Photography

S U MMER 2017 VOLUME 21, ISSUE 3 w w w. THS C . org

PAGE 30 FE ATURES 8 THE J OY OF LEAR N IN G FOR E IG N LA N G UAG E S ? by Dale and Robi n G a m a c he 1 0 L AN GUAGE LEA R N IN G : A N OT H E R TY P E OF M AT H E MAT I C S by Christa B edwi n 16 YEA RN IN G F OR F R IE N DS H IP: T H E ST R UG G LE I S R E AL by Kenzi Knapp 22 HOW TO M ODIF Y C H ILD B E H AVIOR T H R OUG H R E WAR D S by Cheryl M aguire 30 KATIE KOF F EM A N , DE S IG N IN G T H E FUT UR E S I NC E AGE 1 3 by Anna M cFarland 36 RU TS & M OU N DS : T H E LA N DM A R K S OF H ISTO RY by Lynn Dean 44 PERSPECTIV ES TH R OUG H P H OTOG R A P H Y by Ashlee Sierra D E PARTM EN TS 4 PRESIDEN T’S REVIE W 6 THSC REPORT CA R D: A+ for Customer S e r vi c e 26 C EN TERF OLD Arl i n g t o n Co nve nt i o n Re c a p 28 COLORIN G OU TS IDE T H E LIN E S : 7 Steps to Enhan c e A ut i s t i c S o c i a l S k i l l s 40 STA N DIN G GUA R D: TH S C 2 0 1 7 Le g i s l at i ve Vi c t o r i es 48 UP COM IN G EV EN T S 48 ADV ERTISER IN DE X 48 THSC M EM B ERSH IP B E N E FIT P R OVIDE R S 49 PROF ESSOR A M A LG A M ’S M ot l e y C u r r i c u l u m Co nc o c t i o ns 50 AT THE EN D OF T H E DAY: We Were Homesc h o o l e r s O n c e … a nd Yo u n g Your copy of the Texas Home School Coalition REVIEW © 2017 is sent free as a courtesy of its advertisers and THSC. REVIEW is published quarterly by the Texas Home School Coalition Association (THSC Association). THSC is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving and informing the homeschool community, promoting home education in Texas, and protecting Texas homeschool families through intervention and legal assistance for its members. Contact THSC for permission to reproduce articles or portions of articles. Editorial correspondence and address changes may be directed to review@thsc. org. The deadline for article submission for the Fall 2017 issue is August 1. Interested authors should see The articles in this magazine reflect the freedom of home educators in Texas to choose from a wide variety of homeschool philosophies and teaching methods. Opinions and attitudes expressed in articles do not necessarily reflect the beliefs of the Texas Home School Coalition Association. THSC does not endorse or advocate any one method or philosophy. The board encourages each home educator to seek God’s will in determining what is best for him, his school and his students. Publication of advertisements does not signify endorsement of items or services offered.


Ray Ballmann Kent Dowden James Frank Donna Harp Mary James Kyle Workman

Tim Lambert Doug McKissick Gavino Perez Sarah Singleton Ray VanNorman


President/Publisher | Tim Lambert Publications Manager | Donna Schillinger Managing Editor | James Caldwell Contributors | Patrick Cannon, Juli A. Ginn, Shannon Kingsbury, Alisha Mattingly, Maxine Mitchell Advertising | Graphic Design | Lisa Rahon Texas Home School Coalition PO Box 6747, Lubbock, TX 79493 (p) 806.744.4441 (f) 806.744.4446

P R E S I D E N T ’ S R E V I E W, B Y T I M L A M B E R T


n the wake of the 85th Texas Legislature, and as we move into the fall election cycle, I am reminded of the important mission and purpose of the Texas Home School Coalition. While we passed good legislation and blocked bad legislation in past legislative sessions, this was undoubtedly the most successful session for THSC and Texas families. THSC triumphantly passed nearly every CPS reform bill that we filed this session. We collaborated with attorneys, state representatives and senators from all over Texas to draft desperately needed CPS reforms, and all but one was sent to the governor’s desk for signing. The impact that this will have on families across the state is immeasurable. During this session and also when the bills were sent off for that all-important signature, I was reminded that Keeping Texas Families Free is not just THSC’s slogan, it is the very heart of our organization. The focus of our CPS reforms was ensuring that parents in Texas have the most fundamental of liberties: the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Unfortunately, not all of THSC’s bills were as successful as our CPS reform. (See “Standing Guard on p. 40 for an infographic recap.) But, it appears that we have yet another opportunity during a special session of the Texas Legislature on July 18. Our family law reform legislation and the Tim Tebow Bill, along with many other good bills, have died in committee because not all of our elected officials truly value freedom. It is up to us, the Texas grassroots constituents, to hold our public servants and representatives accountable to the commitments they make when elected. When they do not keep those promises, it is up to us to show them the door and pass their seat to someone else. While THSC keeps watch at the special session in Austin, we hope our readers will enjoy a well-deserved summer break. If you are planning a road trip, be sure to look for the “Ruts and Mounds” along Texas roadsides (p. 36) that provide clues to our great state’s history and prehistory. If you are staying home this summer, you can still take lots of interesting pictures by photographing the ordinary from a new perspective. See “Perspectives Through Photography” on p. 44. We also hope that you take advantage of summer to prepare for the fall school year by attending THSC Convention–The Woodlands, July 20-22. Our Conventions provide amazing family fun and fellowship, which is apparent in our centerfold recap of THSC Convention–Arlington last May. I hope to see you in The Woodlands!



INSIDE THIS ISSUE... As students sail into junior high, the yearning for companionship can create rough waters for them and their parents. It’s a scary season since peers can bring more harm than health into a budding young adult’s life. Kenzi Knapp, p. 16

“It is important for a child to learn social skills at home, then practice them in the community.” But how is that practically applied within the context of homeschooling? Hesma Stephens, p. 28

Activism, especially in the face of opposition, was difficult. However, the session taught me to keep faith in my beliefs and in my work, regardless of resistance. Anna Little, p. 43

I felt like I had discovered a new superpower. Now, it was my responsibility to be a kind of hero for perspectives. Ashlee Sierra, p. 44

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A+ for THSC’s Customer Service and CPS Attorney


wanted to take a moment to thank THSC for all they do for homeschoolers in Texas. In the decade my family has been a THSC member, there have been issues that we don’t always agree with. But, overall, we have supported THSC because of what they do. We never expected to need the benefits offered, but last month we found ourselves in a horrible situation, and THSC came to the rescue. CPS showed up at our house on February 9th at 9:01 a.m. The caseworker stated her name, asked me to verify my identity, and then told me that she was there because someone had reported that my son had raped his sisters. Of course, she wouldn’t tell me who made the allegation or when it was made or even when the alleged rapes had occurred. She demanded to enter my home and interview all my children. After a few seconds the initial shock wore off and I informed her that as the wife of a law enforcement officer, I knew better than to allow her in the house without a warrant. Since I was feeling gracious and confident that she was wasting everyone’s time, I informed her that I would allow her to ask each child two questions, on the porch, in my presence. She agreed, asked only two questions, then she asked me to sign a “safety plan” not to leave the children at home alone. That is something we have never


done, so it was no problem signing it after reading it. She left at 11:00 a.m. I made some calls to a few lawyers, but they were all in court that day. While I was waiting for return calls, I decided to pay bills to keep my mind busy. One of those bills was for the renewal of our membership fee to THSC. So I called them to make the payment over the phone and I spoke to Deb Brockett on THSC’s customer service team. After getting the payment, Deb went over a few things that were new to members. She then asked a question that must have been God driven. I can’t remember it verbatim, but my situation came spilling out of me. She listened patiently, and then asked if she could have one the THSC lawyers call me. I said yes, but I didn’t think they could help us since the allegations weren’t homeschool related. An hour later, THSC’s CPS Attorney Chris Branson called me and I told him everything the caseworker said, the questions she asked the kids, their answers, and about the safety plan. He asked for the caseworker’s information and said he would take care of it. The next morning he called us and said that he had spoken to the caseworker and that he had denied her request for a more intensive interview. He said he informed her that if she contacted us again, we were to tell her to call him. Our children were introduced to


concepts that they weren’t familiar with before that day: fear, suspicion, mistrust, and betrayal. It only took a few days to figure out who made the allegation, but the motivation is still unclear. It’s more than likely the one thing we’ll never know for sure. Our family was stripped raw by the betrayal of someone who we thought was our friend, and the struggle for forgiveness is ongoing. Through it all, Mr. Branson did his best to ease our fears. He stood as a shield for our family. If it had not been for Deb asking just the right question at just the right time, this chapter may have had a much different ending. We have since received a letter from CPS that the investigation was closed. All we have to do now is send in the required form and the investigation will be removed from their records.” ~Catherine D.

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Joy of Learning

Foreign Languages?

By Dale and Robin Gamache


hrough media, travel and technology, our world keeps getting smaller. Those same advances have also made it easier to learn other languages. However, some people have developed distaste and animosity toward all things “foreign,” which has unfortunately filtered into learning “foreign languages.” The major educational associations have gone so far as to refrain from using the term foreign languages, opting instead for “world languages.” I’m sensitive to political debates about nationalism, but I do not believe it has a place in educational discourse. When people get bogged down by these trivial discussions, we miss out on the many powerful benefits of learning other languages.


How to Find Joy in Other Languages You may have also noticed the title of this article. Yes, the question mark is there to acknowledge some of you have not found joy in learning other languages. You might even think to yourself: “Joy in learning another language? You didn’t have my high school French teacher Monsieur Marceau. Joy is the last thing that comes to mind when I think of that class!” I can relate because I had one of those teachers in ninth grade for Spanish 1. There were lots of vocabulary lists, endless and pointless verb conjunctions, and difficult dialogue about Pedro in España. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anyone named Pedro who lives in Spain! But, for Spanish 2, 3 and 4, I had Señora Thiems. Oh, what a difference she made. Sra. Thiems was fun yet demanding, especially of students who she


thought had talent for the language. She introduced us to current music and food, showed us slideshows of her trips to Hispanic countries, held fiestas at her house, and she had abundant joy in her attitude toward learning the language and life in general. That is precisely the mindset I have brought to my teaching. Students who do not continue using Spanish for career, travel or relationships will soon forget most of the grammatical structures and stem-changing verbs that we spend mucho tiempo learning. So, when I run into my students 15 years later at Walmart, they often say, “Señor, I still remember the days of the week song!” And right there on the frozen food aisle, in front of stunned spouses and children, they will joyfully belt out: “Lunes, Martes, Miércoles, Jueves, Viernes, SÁBADOOO, Domingo ... la semana es, síííí.” These former students found joy

in learning. Now, those silly songs will stick with them for the rest of their lives. What a privilege to have been a part of that joy for the past 35 years. For example, at a recent homeschool convention in Greenville, S.C., a mom came up to me and said, “Sr. Gamache, are you still teaching? I had you for Spanish in third grade at Port Orange Elementary when you first started teaching. I remember that you taught us a song using a stapler as a microphone.” I had long forgotten her name as I have taught well over 5,000 students. But, 35 years later she still remembered a song I taught by singing into a stapler. Priceless.

Where does the joy come from? You may think that joy in learning another language comes from a program or teacher, but in reality, it comes from what’s inside the student. If there is no joy in your attitude about learning another language, then it will be difficult to impart that joy to your kids. “But, Sr., where can I get some of that joy you’re talking about?” Well, the “J” in joy stands for Jesus … Oh, that’s another article! You have a very important role helping your children find joy learning another language and learning another culture. So, embrace it! Consider this powerful example. I was at a homeschool convention a number of years ago when I questioned whether I was supposed to be there. By mid-Friday morning, I had not talked to one person. “Okay Lord, I thought that you wanted me here. Was I wrong?” I prayed to myself. Then, a man walked up and said that he wanted Level 2 of La Clase Divertida

(my favorite type of customer). I said, “I guess you must have liked Level 1 pretty well?” He then proceeded to tell me a story of how his nine-year-old son loved our program and that he enjoyed making the ojo de Dios (eye of God) yarn and stick craft that comes in our kit. Dad said that he took his son on a mission trip to Mexico and that the boy took materials from the kit to make crafts. While there, adults in the group brought kids from an orphanage to the boy. So, he made each one an ojo de Dios while telling them about how Jesus loved them. Through an interpreter, the boy led at least one of children to the Lord. A nine year old! I looked up and said, “Now I know why I’m here, Lord.” Imagine that: God used that little boy and our program to lead someone to the Lord in a foreign language. Priceless.

Final Word: The Impact of Learning Another Language There are numerous stories I could tell you about the power of other languages. • Parents with an autistic child who never thought their child could learn another language. • Latina families trying to keep their heritage but struggling to find the time and method. • Reluctant moms and dads who learned or relearned another language they never thought they could or would. These are just three of many important reasons to learn another language. It’s not just to fill an elective in the school schedule. Ask the Lord for the right attitude and the right program to unlock the potential in your children (and yourself). This will help your students experience the joy of learning a “foreign” language. ■

Dale and Robin Gamache are the developers and proprietors of La Clase Divertida, which means The FUN Class! Email them at or visit

Adventures in English “What started as a guttural, tribal dialect, seemingly isolated in a small island, is now the language of well over a thousand million people around the world.” That’s how a BBC-produced series on the history of the English language begins. The eight-video, seven-hour series is fascinating to learn how certain sounds became the basis for our language. The series explains the “ugh” in “thought” and “though,” and why “Good Morning” sound so much like “Guten Morgen,” but “Excuse me” sounds so like “Excusez moi.” To begin your English language journey, search “History of English Language” on YouTube. Overall, English is a polyglot of Viking, Celt, Saxon, Norman and other influences. The language varies widely from one county to the next depending on cultural and historic influences. If you’re traveling to another English-speaking nation or region, such as the U.K., Australia or Caribbean, your students should tune their ears to the different words that locals use. Then, have your students conduct research on the Internet or through personal interviews to discover the origins of those words.

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Language Learning

Another Type of Mathematics


n mathematics, exercises and activities help students to systematically build on what they already know. Through a step-by-step approach, students develop math skills and understanding, and eventually, the procedural how evolves into the conceptual why. In the same way, language study in natural, practical situations, like travel to foreign countries, or even frequent visits to ethnic neighborhoods or restaurants, can provide opportunities for breakthroughs. Basic understanding of foreign language grammatical concepts eventually give way to natural conversations—opening a new world of possibilities. Let’s say you’re in Italy and you walk into a coffee shop for a cup of coffee and to ask for directions. If you ask about paying for coffee when it’s delivered to you, you would likely try to put together the words from a pocket dictionary, “I + pay,” to form “io pagare?” without even trying to sort out the grammar. The server might reply, “Dopo, dopo,” while make calming body motions. Most Italians use a lot of body language and gestures that reinforce their spoken words. You and your students would pick up that “dopo” means “later.” Or, the server might say, “Si, adesso,” and with body language make it clear he would like to be paid now.

By Christa Bedwin

Next you ask for directions, but don’t quite understand his reply. So when you head hesitantly out the door, the store owner might say, “Aspette, aspette,” which you understand by his hand gestures means you should wait. The owner likely wants to walk out the door with you and show you the directions on the street. If you were to consult a textbook to determine what learning just took place, the answer would be problem-solving using visual, social and contextual clues. Ben fatto! The English language has Latin, Germanic and Greek influences, making it easy to learn many foreign words. There are also similarities in grammatical structure with other languages. To get started identifying the similarities, get an introductory language CD. While driving in the car, start with a few basic words that can easily be picked up. Then, watch your students progress to patterning, problem solving and communication skills.

Identifying Patterns

An easy example of recurring patterns in other languages can be found by introducing yourself. This is usually one of the first things a native and foreigner do in conversation. Through this exercise, students will build flexible thinking as they put together the combination of potential words, then compare and contrast the words in different languages. • In English, we usually say: “My name is Jill.” But we can also say: “I’m called Jill.” Or a bit more awkwardly: “I’m named Jill.” Compare to… • French: “Je m’appelle Jill.” (Me, I’m called Jill.) • Spanish: “Me llamo Jill.” (I’m called Jill.) • Italian: “Mi chiamo Jill.” (I’m called Jill.)

Did you notice the similarities in look and sound of named, llamo and chiamo.



All photos by Gwendolyn Anderson. A hobby photographer and former Texas homeschooler, Gwendolyn has fallen in love with a few foreign languages before ... Spanish, Portuguese, French ... and who knows what linguistic romance awaits.

Unknown Variables

When your students learn a new language, they must learn vocabulary and also the structure of the language. That includes the order of words, how verbs are conjugated and how nouns are pluralized. Once your students grasp the structure, they will develop the skill of using known words to guess the meaning of unknown words. Remember our math example? It’s a process similar to finding the unknown number “X” in algebra. You’ll soon watch your students improve their speed in this game as you travel and learn. And, the neural connections and skills they develop will last much longer than the trip and will carry over into other skills at home. Let’s look deeper into learning new words that fit where you expect in sentences, which is called decoding logic. For example, let’s say your students learned two tiny things about French: • The pronouns: je (I singular), tu (you singular), nous (us), vous (you plural) • “Est-ce que” in front of something forms a question When you meet someone in a hotel, the person might ask: “Est-ce que vous aller au restaurant ce soir?” It looks complicated written out, but your students’ flexible brains will process this in a snap. The more they practice, the faster they will pick up more words. It’s incredible what a few weeks of trying to communicate in a foreign language will do for



your students’ skills. Here are the steps their brain might go through to decode this phrase. 1. One of the words—restaurant—is the same as the English word. That’s handy and happens a lot. 2. Chop up the code and decode the pieces you know. “Est-ce que | vous | aller au | restaurant | ce soir?” | you (plural) | ...Unknown1 | restaurant | ...Unknown2 Okay, we know it’s a question because it starts with “est-ce que.” And, they’re talking about all of us and the restaurant. Your students already know three of the five pieces! 3. Because we know the sentences in French follow the same structure as English, we can guess without much thought that Unknown1 is a verb. What would we do? We’d go to the restaurant. Okay! That must mean “aller” means “go” and “au” means “to the.” That can be confusing, which is perfect for further learning. This “cognitive dissonance,” as educators call it, will send curious kids straight to their language lesson to figure out why “au” is two words here. 4. What would come after “restaurant?” Probably a time. You can pick up what time they are talking about by looking at the context of the conversation. In this case, the Unknown2 “ce soir” means “this evening.”

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When your curious students look at their phrase book again, they will find other time phrases such as matin, midi, après-midi and nuit (morning, noon, afternoon and night). This overall process captures the benefits of homeschooling. Students in a traditional French class will waste countless hours learning simple words like “ce” and “au” vs. “a le” that can be difficult to assimilate and remember. However, in our travel-based, problem-solving learning environment, those little words fall into place on their own in real-world practice. The desire to get the words right in the company of others is a fantastic motivator for students. This will drive them to their book to find (and remember!) the right way to use what they learned. If you are not planning an international field trip, your family can still benefit from applying math to language learning. Here are some fun homeschool activities to try with Google Translate. 1. Look up lists of Latin words and compare to their English, French, Italian and Spanish equivalents. 2. Race to see who can be the first to find five very similar words in two to three languages. Explore which subject areas are most likely to have similar words.



3. Help your students make charts of equivalent words in an area of their own interest. If they choose a modern field such as computers, have them identify English words that are used throughout many languages. If they choose an historical period centered on ships, have them look up the etymology (word history) of a few key words or phrases. This could easily lead to an exciting study of various trade routes and empires that caused languages to mix throughout history. Endless adventures at home and abroad await in the exploration of foreign languages. Applying math principles to the learning of languages will help get you well underway. ■ Christa Bedwin was raised on a ranch, got a city education, has traveled the world, and is determined to give her son the advantages of all of those through homeschooling. You can read more of her articles on topics from engineering to travel at

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Yearning for Friendship: The Struggle is Real by



“Lord, please, please bring me a friend. I’m so lonely.”


whispered this prayer often during my teen years. I still remember the throbbing ache that would sweep over me when I had experiences, questions or dreams I longed to share with someone who loved Christ and was my age—a longing that was difficult for my parents to meet. Our homeschool community was minimal and our church offered no like-minded fellowship during my early teens. After one year, I dropped out of the church youth group, choosing instead to attend the adult Wednesday night meetings. Still, the ache haunted me. As students sail into junior high, the yearning for companionship can create rough waters for them and their parents. It’s a scary season since peers can bring more harm than health into a budding young adult’s life. But, based on my experiences while sojourning with four siblings through the same phase, I can affirm the need for friendships is real. May I come alongside you and share how my parents and I came through this season better than we were before?



The Need Is Real Viewing this vulnerable time in my life in hindsight, I’m impressed with how well my parents handled my desire for horizontal friendships. Specifically, they did not receive my need as discontentment with the family or an act of rebellion. While there are teens who are drawn to rebellious youth that mirror their own spirit, many others genuinely long for friends in the same life season. At the time, I struggled with fears I could not express to my parents because I did not quite understand them. Am I the only one struggling with this? This was a huge question! The relief I felt when a friend said she had similar struggles was freeing. When a teen resolves to obey Christ, one of Satan’s handiest weapons is isolation. The enemy is armed to discourage, defeat, and destroy by firing accusations such as: “What’s wrong with you? No one else struggles with time management.” “You’ll always fumble in relating to the opposite sex.”

Is there anyone for me? It’s common for young people to start thinking about dating and marriage around age 12. For a Christian homeschooled student, thoughts also turn to being equally yoked. A girl wants a husband and daddy who will model for her sons what it means to be a man, while an industrious, gracious young lady is the hope of a godly young man. But, when day follows day with no possibilities, fear starts to gnaw at the most faith-filled youth. This is probably the one fear your child will be the most embarrassed to express, especially when they know they aren’t ready for marriage yet. Am I finding a godly balance? It’s been said that variety is the spice of life. So, one of the greatest gifts friends provide in our lives is balance. It’s boring—as well as unhealthy—to only talk to people who are like you. We’re not always right, so God gives us others to balance and temper our views. A true friend holds fast with you to the truth but also challenges you when you create creeds out of trivials.

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Friendships That Made History

What I’m Thankful My Parents Did How can you help your child? While each situation is unique, there were two things my parents did that proved to me they cared about my need. They Were Honest The truth was my parents were also searching for Christ-like fellowship. They didn’t pretend to be strong in this area; they honestly revealed they knew our family was not complete in and of itself. At the time, we thought moving was the only answer to our quest. Instead, God did greater things for us by fulfilling that need and even ones we did not realize existed. I was thankful at the time that my parents could empathize. Even though they did not have all the answers, I knew they took my need to heart. They Prayed God promises to withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly. I experienced that when the Father eventually answered my cry for friends in a way I could never imagined. His timing made the waiting years well worth it. You may not know how to meet your child’s need, but the Lord does. When the time is right, God will move in a way that will deepen your child’s trust and love in Him. Approach the Father shoulder to shoulder and trust Him. Mom and Dad need to desire more than cultivating a loving family nucleus. As children approach their junior high years, it is important to ensure there are ample opportunities for healthy friendships to develop organically. Kenzi Knapp is a follower of Christ and lover of history. She blogs about life while enrolled in God’s great course of faith and His work throughout the ages. Her blog can be found at



The word “friend” has been hijacked by social media and revolving door relationships in our generation. Do we even understand what true friendships are or the great potential they have for the Kingdom of God? Along with biblical examples, history showcases beautiful friendships, including these four examples: — William Wilberforce and Henry Thornton were co-founders of the “Clapham Circle,” which was the energy behind the abolition of British slave trade. Recommended Reading: Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas and Life of William Wilberforce by Robert and Samuel Wilberforce. — Former U.S. president Harry S. Truman and Eddie Jacobson were instrumental in establishing the modern state of Israel. Recommended Reading: Harry and Eddie by Beverly Joan Boulware. — In the depraved environment of a postWorld War II factory, Andrew and Corrie worked together to witness to their co-workers. They later became a husband-wife missionary team behind the Iron Curtain. Recommended Reading: God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew. — Margaret McLachlan was an elderly lady who received an 18-year-old, Margaret Wilson, into her home during a period of persecution in 1600s Scotland. Both Margarets were persecuted for their faith during the Stuart reign. Their bond was so close that they were eventually martyred together. Recommended Reading: The Two Margarets by Catherine MacKenzie.



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We love homeschoolers. In fact, more than 20% of our student body were homeschooled. And many of our faculty and staff homeschool their own children. Our campus community not only gets your learning style, but also gets you. As a homeschooling family, you understand the value of learning through hands-on experiences. At LeTourneau University, these experiences are at the core of our courses from day one. Our students put their analytical skills to use designing and building their own 3-D printers during their first semester of college. They go on mission trips bringing student-designed water pumps to the parched earth of Senegal, West Africa. And that is just naming a few of the hundreds of examples. We live out our Christian faith in all we do and our graduates change the world in every workplace and every nation.

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Where to Find Ministry-minded Friends

The Fragrance & Thorns of Online Relationships

When we walk the narrow path, we have to look harder to find those who share our precious faith. Same for teens. The best way to find like-minded friends is to run hard after Jesus and look to see who is running beside you. Ministry is the bedrock for lasting, edifying relationships. As you pray for godly friendships for your teen, the following may be helpful to put feet to your prayers:

The world of technology has drastically changed our relationships. This is a blessing and a blight. My most enduring online relationships have been when Christ, the Word and prayer are the glue, but not all online relationships are such a blessing.

• Bible studies • National Bible Bee competitions • THSC Convention–The Woodlands, or Arlington • Bible conferences • The local library • Homesteading/old-time themed events • County Fairs • Capitol Days for homeschoolers • Witnessing outreaches ny event or gathering that promotes spiritual •A growth •A ny event or gathering to reach out to the lost and needy



When your teen is considering the web to find new friends, consider this checklist: • Discuss beforehand what is appropriate information for your teen to share online, particularly in private messages to a new friend. • Check out social media pages and threads of a potential friend. Comments, shares and images reveal much about a person. Does this person value things that will be edifying to your teen? • As the friendship progresses, ask deeper questions such as salvation testimony, family and favorite hobbies. If the answers unveil a heart seeking after Jesus, plunge forward! • Be real. The temptation with online relationships is to portray yourself as someone you are not. This will lead to stress and disillusionment as your teen’s real personality comes out. Read over your teen’s messages from time to time and encourage them to be truthful with the other person as appropriate. ■

one year adventure

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How to Modify your Child’s Behavior using Reward Programs By Cheryl Maguire


love reward programs. I’m a member of so many programs that I need a separate keychain to hold all the cards. So, when a cashier asks me if I want to sign up for a store reward program, I salivate like Pavlov’s dogs anticipating the coupons, credit and discounts I will receive. But, why am I so drawn to these programs? The same thinking that drives me to accumulate discount cards applies to modifying your child’s behavior. Reward programs draw from the psychological term behavioral modification, which is a method of changing a person’s behavior by using either negative or positive reinforcement. Children, like adults shopping for discounts, love receiving prizes for good behavior. And, the same rewards



programs concept can easily be implemented in your homeschool setting. The result of reinforcing positive behavior should be more productive studies and an overall more disciplined home. In order for the program to be successful, though, your child must desire the reward. For example, if you offer a sticker each time your child behaves a desired way, but stickers do not motivate your child, your program won’t go very far. Select something truly rewarding—or make those stickers count toward earning a bigger reward. Also, remember that an immediate reward is not necessary. A reward could be letting your children invite friends over or being allowed to choose their favorite dinner. Each child’s motivations vary, so it is important for you and your

child to mutually agree on the reward so that both sides have a stake in positive behavior. Equally important is being consistent with the reward program both by recognizing positive behavior and giving the reward when appropriate, and resisting giving a reward that was not actually earned. When you are ready to implement the program, consider these four reward programs you can use at home with one child or multiple children to modify their behavior.

The Gem Jar What you need: A plastic or glass container and either marbles (gems) or other similar material you can place in the bowl. How it works: When you observe positive behavior such as saying “thank you” or being helpful, you place a gem (marble) in the jar. When the jar is filled with gems, your child or children get a reward such as a pajama party or a fun field trip. The Penny Program What you need: Pennies and a box/container with the child’s name. How it works: Each child starts out with five pennies. If they display positive behavior, they earn another penny, but negative behavior results in a penny taken away. When a child earns a set amount of pennies, they earn a reward.

Chance Cards What you need: Paper, writing utensil and a container How it works: Write each child’s name on a separate piece of paper called a chance card. When the child displays positive behavior they can place the card in the container. At the end of the week, you select one piece of paper and the selected child gets a reward. A child can earn more than one chance card, increasing the possibility of being selected. The cards are not removed, so the child would still have a chance to win the following week. If you only have one child, you could modify the program by writing the rewards on the chance card instead of the child’s name. Then at the end of the week, the child could select the reward from the container. The Clip Up Chart What you need: A poster board with color levels and clothespins for each child labeled with their name. How it works: There are seven levels and all children start the day at the same green middle level labeled “ready to learn.” There are specific behaviors associated with each level. If the child has a few positive behaviors, the student can move the clothespin and “clip up” to the next color level. And, if a child clips up to the point of leveling up, they receive a reward. But, if the child clips down, the bottom levels should have their own consequences.

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• Be consistent. If your child displays a positive behavior and is rewarded for it one day but not the next, the reward will lose effectiveness. Because of the inconsistency, positive results will take much longer to realize. • Make changes. Make sure the reward continues to be rewarding; you may have to modify it over time. • Try something new. If one program is not working—or it did work and then over time did not work anymore—try a different program.

“Clip Chart: A Simple Discipline Strategy for Promoting Positive Behavior” by Rick Morris provides complete details of this system, which can be tailored to the homeschool environment with a little imagination.

Consider these questions before selecting a rewards program: 1. Which plan would I realistically be consistent with on a regular basis? 2. Which plan would my child and I like the best? 3. What positive behaviors would I like my child to display? 4. What is my idea of rewards? 5. What is my child’s idea of rewards? 6. What rewards can both my child and I agree to use?

The Ongoing Action Plan • Pay attention. It is important to recognize positive behaviors, especially at the start of the program. Otherwise, your child may not settle into the program without initial, positive feedback.



Reward programs should be fun for both the parent and child while at the same time creating a happy home environment. My children are excited to receive the rewards and participate in the programs. And, yes, I believe one day they will have a keychain filled with store reward tags, too. ■ Cheryl Maguire is a mother of twins boys and a daughter. Her writing has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings, Parent Co., Mothers Always Write, Twins Magazine, and It’s Twins. You can find her on Twitter @CherylMaguire05.

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Discover the Blueprint for Building your Family’s Future Highlights from THSC Convention Arlington, May 11–13, 2017

Longtime friends and THSC Convention speakers Roxanne Parks and Lyndsay Lambert.

Children enjoyed their own Kids Convention with great leaders from In The Gap.

Robotics at its best. Having a little fun with Ft. Worth Zoo staff!

The young women of Inner Princess were blessed to hear from Chrystal Evans Hurst.

Families are treasured at every THSC Convention.



Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett of Trim Healthy Mama.

Want a little extra spending money? Join us in The Woodlands for fantastic drawings and giveaways.

See you at The Woodlands? July 20-22

Lunch! Dr. Tony Evans telling it like it is. He encourages every family to be a Kingdom Family.

The exhibit hall is filled with unique exhibitors, like SumBlox Group.

“Hank the Cowdog� author John Erickson and two of his biggest fans. John and his family were among Texans in six counties who lost their homes in the devastating wildfire in the Panhandle area in March 2017. In an effort to help the Ericksons and other families affected by this disaster, THSC launched the Hank the Cowdog Fire Fund. 100 percent of all donations help Texas Panhandle families put their lives back together. Please, will you donate today?

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coloring outside the lines

Autism Support: 7 Steps to Enhance Socials Skills By Hesma Stephens


hat we know simply as “autism” is actually a single term for a large range of issues, including varying degrees of communication impairment, sensitivities, repetitive behaviors and more. A diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder can completely upend any family. Social skills are one of the greatest challenges for children on the autism spectrum. Consequently, it is a prime area where parents struggle in training their children. Mesha Carter, a licensed speech and language pathologist, says: “It is important for a child to learn social skills at home, then practice them in the community.” But how is that practically applied within the context of homeschooling? The approach we recommend for parents was developed by the Social Enhancement Exchange (S.E.E.) Project. These seven steps allow you to first identify social skill gaps and then set goals and a training regimen for your student. Step 1 Evaluate your child’s social skills. Example: Use side-by-side play or selective conversation. Document it. Step 2 Create a plan to enhance social opportunities at home and in the community. Examples: Say “good morning” every day. Also, greet a neighbor three times per week. Step 3 Collect resources and create opportunities to facilitate social skills practice.


Hesma’s son shakes hands with Grant Manier of Grant’s EcoArt. Photo courtesy of Hesma Stephens.

Example: Get games and puppets, then alert family members and friends to interact with your child based on the skill you are working on. Step 4 Introduce the skill via lists, videos, songs or books—or both. Step 5 Practice the skill with your child. It is important to be enthusiastic and playful. Example: Say hello with a gesture (wave) and ask your child to do likewise. Step 6 Document growth. Each time your child waves hello, give him or her praise like “nice job!” Put a check on your list for that day. Step 7 Give a reward and praise. At the beginning, give an immediate reward. As your child improves, prolong the interval between rewards. Example: If you start with immediate high-fives, eventually work down to verbal praise like “We are so proud of you.” Then, at the end of the day, recognize a good job to reinforce progress.


Daniel Elder, the Director of the S.E.E. Project, says: “Teaching socialization should be fun for both you and the child.” How long will it take to see results? It depends on your consistency, effort and your child. Some progress might even take six years! A great example is my son’s relationship with Grant Manier of Grant’s EcoArt. Grant is an artist, special needs advocate and public speaker. When my son first met Grant six years ago, he practically ran the other way. We continued to attend autism festivals and each time we stopped by Grant’s art booth. Then, six years later—and without prompting— Grant and my son spoke with each other. I was shocked and yet so proud of this leap my son made. Sometimes progress is slow when working with kids on the autism spectrum. But, it is also very rewarding. Don’t give up, parents. Your children can improve their skills, too, if you take the time to observe, plan and carry out the training needed to help them learn the social skills they struggle with. ■ Hesma Stephens is a homeschooling mother of two. Her oldest is on the autism spectrum. Hesma is also a speaker, risk management trainer, founder of the S.E.E. Project and member of the THSC Special Needs Advisory Committee.

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Designing the Future since Age 13 By Anna McFarland

Grinding down a metal bed for a design project. Photo by Pita Diaz


magine cutting-edge technology that lets you create models of anything— toys, clothing, food—right at your fingertips. This was reality for Katie Koffeman, whose parents, Ed and Robin, bought and assembled a 3D printer when she was in junior high. Katie’s parents believed the purchase would be beneficial for the future careers of their children. And, they were right. This was also not the first time they were innovative with their children’s education. A 3D Tech Opportunity Katie started pre-kindergarten early at a charter school where her mother was a substitute teacher. Although she was ready to enter kindergarten the following year, the school planned to hold her back since she was smaller than the other children. Katie’s parents decided to home educate instead.


“I feel like it taught me independence and self-sufficiency,” Katie said, reflecting on her parent’s choice. “Homeschooling is individualized and helps you learn what you need to do for yourself.” Several years later, when Katie was 13, she began researching a degree path to pursue in college. She wished to combine her favorite subjects—art and English—to be “creative, but still practical.” However, nothing appealed to her until her dad suggested industrial design. When she looked into it, she found that not only was it a solid option, but she could design anything—toys, packaging, apps or websites. Her passion for design as well as her brother’s interest in engineering, persuaded her parents to invest in a 3D printer. Katie’s mom taught a model creation class in their co-op and the students learned how to convert computer code to 3D print.


The class was thrilled the first time they uploaded a code and minutes later had a 3D model in their hands. Katie’s dad was not satisfied with the quality, though, so he built a better version. This decision eventually led to the family forming their own business called Poly Printer.

Katie outside the College Of Architecture and Design

Where the Scriptures Reign Paramount


Student body includes more than 3,700 students from 26 countries; 90% of full-time freshmen live on campus. UMHB was chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas and has operated continuously ever since. More than 60 majors are offered across seven colleges (Business, Christian Studies, Education, Humanities, Nursing, Science, and Visual and Performing Arts). The low student-to-faculty ratio cultivates an environment where students can grow and thrive.

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Katie at College After graduating high school at 16, Katie headed straight to the University of Houston to study product design, where she completes projects that include 3D prototypes. The goal of these projects is either to solve problems or improve solutions that already exist. Last semester, Katie made a model of a bathroom faucet with her family’s printer. When the other students saw it, they became interested in Poly Printer. Unlike the campus 3D printers, Katie could print at any hour, day or night, and best of all, Poly Printers had color options. Eventually, nearly all of the 30 students in her class used Poly Printer for their projects, resulting in a rainbow of products that left the professor scratching his head in wonder. Product design isn’t just printing in pretty colors, though. Katie’s latest product design project was creating a small domestic appliance. While she made a razor, others worked on an iron or a heater. And, one of Katie’s classmates fainted while welding bike racks in 100-degree weather! “It’s so cool to see how 30 different people with the same project create 30 different products,” Katie commented. Now, Katie calls on her dad’s expertise when she has a difficult task. “I go to him a lot for advice and he’s always happy to help,” she says. “He’s one of the best people I know.” Katie’s Fourth Dimension Since starting college three years ago, Katie has made close-knit friendships among the product design students. She enjoys being in the hub of such creativity. Katie also made a best friend of the four-legged variety. One year on her


mother’s birthday, she rescued a boxer/ pit bull mix that was wandering around campus. She posted a picture of the dog on Craigslist, hoping to find the owner. When she called her mother later, she said, “Happy Birthday, Mom! I found a dog.” Her mom was less than thrilled with the surprise. When no one claimed the dog, Katie kept her and named her Harley Quinn Davidson. In her downtime, Katie makes music. After watching a YouTube video on the ukulele, Katie was inspired to learn how to play. She bought the instrument online for $20 and taught herself how to play it. She now has two ukuleles, a guitar and a banjolele, which has the four strings of a ukulele but sounds more like a banjo. Designing the Future When asked what advice she would give to prospective college students, Katie suggested they learn how to write essays using a style guide such as MLA and time their tests. “When you enter college, your professor is not your mom,” Katie says. “It is up to you to value your own education.” In the future, Katie hopes to graduate and enter the versatile design world where her skills are in high demand. Katie hopes to expand her design portfolio by taking on several projects before advancing to her master’s degree. Eventually, she would like to teach the next generation of design students, just like her mom did for her. “I love it. It’s exactly what I wanted to do,” Katie proudly states. ■


A 3D printed prototype for the razor Katie designed for one of her Industrial Design projects.

Katie on campus at UH. Photo by Alexia Coronel

Katie & Harley All images courtesy of Katie Koffeman.

When Anna McFarland is not encouraging budding Bible journalers on her Facebook page, fontasticjournaling, she is blogging on DrawnToHisLight.wordpress. com and would love to hear from you.

LET US SHOW YOU THE MONEY! See BILLIONS of dollars and learn about the production and history of United States paper currency at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, located in Fort Worth, Texas.

Tour & Visitor Center Includes: - Self-guided Tour on Elevated Walkway - Two Floors of Exhibits and Displays - Informative Film and Gift Shop


- Special events held three times per year (visit website for dates and details)

Closed Federal holidays and the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

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It’s not too late to join us in The Woodlands! Register using the discount code REVIEW and SAVE $10 on your registration.

There is something for everyone at a THSC Convention!

Kids and Teens will enjoy programs designed with them in mind.

Teen Staff offers teens ages 13-18 a one-of-a kind Convention experience. Workshops with AXIS, The Culture Translator

Children ages 4-12 will enjoy a Convention of their own!

Crafts | Bible stories | Games | Fun

Service opportunities

All this and more is included in these remarkable programs.

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Ruts & Mounds

Landmarks of History, Guideposts for Learning By Lynn Dean History leaves marks all around us. But, if we don’t know where and how to look, we could drive past unknown treasures. What might seem like ordinary ruts in a gravel road or mounds in a open field may actually be clues about the earliest Texans.


y first encounter with ruts was at a summer camp in Central Texas. There, the iron rims of wagon wheels had carved parallel ruts in the limestone rock. If you stood in the path, you could see where they’d come from and look down the trail to where they were going. How many wheels, I wondered, would it take to carve deep ruts in stone? How many pioneers came through this spot well before the existence of homes, roads or even clear paths to show the way? I also knew there were Native American rock paintings nearby. Had the two cultures met? If so, was their meeting friendly?

such a trek into unknown territory? What motivated them to take the risks? El Camino Real cuts through 21 Texas counties—trail markers dotting the way all along. The construction of this ancient road was simple, but it’s still there. All you have to do is watch for the historical marker and take time to stop, look and wonder.

El Camino Real

Decades later, as I drove along Highway 21 through East Texas with my own children, we pulled over for a few minutes to see another trail marked by a rise in the land and a few wagon ruts. The Spanish explorer Domingo Terán had his soldiers construct a mound to raise El Camino Real (the royal road of King Charles II of Spain) so that it would dry quickly after heavy rains. Supply carts rattled along that road from Monclova, Mexico, to missions and fortified outposts near Natchitoches, Louisiana, as early as 1691. What kind of men would make





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Caddo Mounds

In Alto, Texas, between Palestine and Nacogdoches, is an even more ancient landmark dating back 1,200 years. What otherwise looks like a few hills in a green field is actually a state historic site of a Native American culture. Caddo culture produced artistic pottery, copper tools and resilient bois d’arc bows. Their trade routes became the basis for El Camino Real, which formed the basis for Highway 21, making our modern highway over 1,000 years old! A large burial mound and two smaller temple mounds could easily go unnoticed. But, beneath those earthen hills lie treasures and clues to the history of a pre-Columbian nation whose people have nearly become extinct. Was the government of their federation similar to ours? Why did their culture decline?

Civil War Shebangs

All that remains of the largest Confederate prisoner of war camp west of the Mississippi River looks



Only in Texas El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail Association— The website offers lessons plans for 4th and 7th grades. In the map gallery are detailed maps of each of the 21 counties the Camino Real passes through, including the locations of trail markers. University of Texas at Austin, College of Liberal Arts— Under the Special Exhibits tab, select Tejas (Caddo) for a number of educational resources. Included is “World of Caddo” for kids and “Teaching the Caddo” with downloadable lesson plans. Texas Historical Commission— Find Caddo Mounds under the Historic Sites tab for more information about the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site. Texas Forest Trail Region— When planning a visit to Caddo Mounds, visit this website for a calendar of events in the area. You can also request travel guides and maps. Plus, download free East Texas Travel Bingo cards to keep your kids engaged during the trip!

like some random low spots in Camp Ford Historic Park. But, it’s much more than that. Toward the end of the Civil War, the prisoner population rose to almost 6,000 men—far more than the camp was equipped to hold. The imprisoned Union soldiers built dugout shelters called “shebangs” to protect themselves from the icy winter winds and spring rains. Modern historians have studied the ruts left by these shelters to reconstruct the site. Simply search “Camp Ford” at for a Civil War timeline and details about how archeologists uncovered the remains of stockade wall trenches, refuse pits and various types of residential structures. These simple landmarks—just ruts and mounds that are easily passed by without notice—sketch out rich chapters of the story of Texas. • Ruts and mounds can teach us how to find evidence of our past that literally surrounds us. • Ruts and mounds can train us to view the world with curious minds.

• Ruts and mounds can help us ask questions that inspire us to dig deeper and learn more than what lies on the surface. Ready to get started? Find a landmark near you and start researching. Ruts and mounds make a wonderful field trip for Texas homeschoolers, teaching students much more than just history. ■ Lynn Dean was a reluctant historian. Bored with schoolbooks that chronicled battle dates and dead people, she feared inflicting mind-numbing data on her own students. Fortunately, she discovered the classic appeal of storytelling—adventure sagas about real people who struggled to overcome obstacles while pursuing their dreams. For more than a decade Lynn has combined unit studies, field trips and quality literature to create unique and memorable experiences in discovery learning.

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THSC 2017

Legislative Victories Texas families and especially homeschoolers scored big in the 85th Texas Legislature, but more work is needed. THSC Policy Team and THSC Watchmen worked hard to kill detrimental legislation and successfully advanced many of THSC legislative priorites.

Progress achieved in Texas Legislature Reached the Senate Floor

Reached a Senate Committee

SB 1415: Sen. Bryan Hughes Nearly all of the provisions from this comprehensive CPS reform bill were amended to HB 7. Two provisions were not passed before the deadline, but Governor Abbott and the Texas Supreme Court Children’s Commission have committed to address the pending issues through rule changes.

SB 816: Sen. Donna Campbell This bill would have required the court to assume that parents act in a child’s best interest. State Affairs Committee Chair Joan Huffman refused to bring SB 816 to vote. The Fix: Replace Sen. Joan Huffman.

Reached the House of Representatives Floor

SB 1019: Sen. Brandon Creighton This bill would have applied the same one-year deadline from CPS suits to certain conservatorship or access suits against a parent to prevent a case from dragging on without a time limit. Referred to State Affairs Committee and never scheduled for a hearing. The Fix: Refer future bill to a different committee or replace Sen. Joan Huffman.

HB 1361: Rep. James White The companion to SB 1019 would have applied the same one-year deadline from CPS suits to certain conservatorship or access suits against a parent to prevent the case from dragging on without a time limit. The bill passed the House committee after delays, but not in time for a vote on the House floor. The Fix: New Leadership in Texas House that will not stall conservative legislation. HB 1899: Rep. Scott Sanford The companion to SB 816 would have required courts to assume that parents act in a child’s best interest. The bill passed the House committee after delays. But, there was not enough time to vote on the House floor. The Fix: New Leadership in Texas House that will not stall conservative legislation.



SB 815: Sen. Donna Campbell This bill would have given parents the same protections in a modification suit (i.e. re-opening a prior suit) as in the original suit. State Affairs Committee Chair Joan Huffman refused to bring SB 815 to vote. The Fix: Refer to a different committee or replace Sen. Joan Huffman.

Bills on Governor’s Desk to be Signed Into Law HB 7: Rep. Gene Wu This comprehensive CPS reform bill enforces the current one-year deadline on CPS cases and prevents CPS from removing a child because of homeschooling or the decision to decline a vaccination.

SB 738: Sen. Lois Kolkhorst This bill requires CPS to file all cases related to the same children and the same CPS incident in the same court.

SB 1063: Sen. Charles Perry This bill closed a loophole in anonymous report cases that has allowed CPS to conduct unnecessary home visits. Home visits are now only allowed if the abuse cannot be confirmed or clearly ruled out without a home visit.

SB 999: Sen. Royce West The courts are now allowed to postpone the first CPS hearing for up to one week, with good cause. Requires the court to find actual risk of harm to a child in non-emergency circumstances before ordering the child to be removed from the home.

Reached the the Senate Floor SB 1415

Reached the the House of Representatives Floor HB 1361 Reached the House of Representatives Committee

HB 1899

Reached the Senate Committee SB 1019

SB 816

SB 815

HB 3297 HB 3316 HB 4100 HB 2890 SB 640

Reached a House of Representatives Committee HB 3297: Rep. Dustin Burrows Nearly all of the provisions from this comprehensive CPS reform bill were amended onto HB 7. The bill failed because it did not make the deadline for voting by the House committee. The Fix: Re-file the remaining provision next session. This would relieve parents from paying child support to CPS while defending themselves in a CPS lawsuit. HB 3316: Rep. James Frank The Child-Trauma Reduction Act, a CPS reform bill, failed because it did not make the deadline for voting by the House committee. However, reforms included in the bill were successfully passed as part of HB 7 or other legislation. HB 4100: Rep. Stephanie Klick This bill would have required the names of people deemed innocent of child abuse to be removed from the child abuse registry. CPS also would have been required to notify people before placing their names on the child abuse registry. The bill was not heard in committee due to filing delays and an unusually large amount of bills referred to the committee. The Fix: Work with Representative Klick to have the bill ready to file early next session.

HB 2890: Rep. Jodie Laubenberg This companion to SB 815 would have required the court to assume that parents act in a child’s best interest in modification suits. The bill missed the deadline for being voted out of committee due to a late hearing. The Fix: Press for an earlier hearing to allow more time for the bill to reach the House floor. The Tim Tebow Bill SB 640: Sen. Van Taylor and HB 1323: Rep. James Frank The Tebow Bill would have granted access to UIL extracurricular activities for homeschool students. SB 640 passed the Senate, but House version HB 1323 died by one vote in the Public Education Committee. This issue could be address by a UIL rule change. The Fix: New Leadership in Texas House that will not stall conservative legislation.


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2017 THSC Watchmen Signing Off Congratulations, THSC Watchmen, on a job well done! What was your favorite part of Keeping Texas Families Free during the 85th Texas Legislature? Strategizing behind the scenes. We had to plan ahead and be intentional about how we went about our work. Strategizing and planning are what made our efforts so successful this session! Joshua Newman Chief Legislative Analyst Analyzing CPS-related legislation. Bills that reform technical sections of the law can result in unintended consequences. I enjoyed being able to analyze bills to ensure that Texas families are protected from potential injustices in the CPS system. Meagan Corser, Legislative Analyst (CPS Legislation) Late nights after we finished bills and everyone was sitting around looking exhausted. Quite a few times, a philosophical discussion would begin that would last for hours and span many different ideas...or rapidly devolve into exhausted laughter and random jokes. Paul Exley, Legislative Analyst (CPS Legislation) How much it pushed me out of my comfort zone. I had to write blog posts and talking points, meet with strangers, and so much more. I could not have enjoyed this experience any more! Vida Mata, Legislative Analyst (Family Law Legislation)

During the session, I was encouraged to see the widespread enthusiasm from the legislators and their office staff to contribute in ways they were able to. I loved seeing solid and measurable results stemming from efforts to pass and block legislation at the end of the session. I was also reminded that family freedom is a priority of Texans, not just homeschoolers. Josiah Newman, Legislative Analyst (Family Law Legislation) The opportunity to explore varied fields and expand my understanding of the practical application and implementation of legislative policies. My favorite memories are the exhausting late night hearings where everyone’s dedication allowed us to persevere and contribute to lasting positive changes. Emma Little, Legislative Analyst (Education and Other Legislation)

Squeezing Bible studies into hectic days. These were times when our team forgot our worries and simply worshiped together. Activism, especially in the face of opposition, was difficult. However, the session taught me to keep faith in my beliefs and in my work, regardless of resistance. Anna Little, Legislative Analyst (Education and Other Legislation)

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Imagine the fourth age of understanding, the age of semiotics, beginning with two hypotheses weird enough to mystify our world. Hypothesis 2 addresses the question: Is it possible for people who claim to be “not religious” to establish a sovereign religion?

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Perspectives through

Photography By Ashlee Sierra


t was the beginning of spring. The air was sugary with blooming flowers and fresh grass. Everything in one quiet park was exploding back to life—including my brother and me as two restless, homeschool kids. Old-school cameras hung from our necks by thick straps. We scampered down the park path, but even the weight of our bulky cameras could not slow us down. We did not stop frolicking until our mother—taking up the mantle of “art teacher” that day—called us over to look at a tree. My brother and I shared a glance. It was an impressive specimen to be sure: a weeping willow with its melancholy branches swaying softly in the breeze. But still ... it was just a tree!



“Sure, to you that’s just a tree,” our mom said, “but from another perspective, it’s a lot more. What might that tree look like if you were a bug?” It was an intriguing concept, one that inspired me to flop down in the spring grass cradled by willow roots and stare up at the tree from the perspective of an insect. I lifted my camera, not sure what to expect, and at once the screen exploded into a stunning image! The trunk, once so commonplace to me, was now an alien land of deep brown caverns and bumpy landscapes. And the branches above looked like a new, green-tinted sky. This was no longer just a tree! Once I learned to break out from my limited perspective, that tree became a world all its own.

Photography will Open your Heart and Mind! After that initial shock, I felt like I had discovered a new superpower. Now, it was my responsibility to be a kind of hero for perspectives. For the rest of that day—and, in fact, for the rest of my life—I would be fascinated by my newfound ability to see things that others could not see or habitually overlooked. What seemed like a rusty screw to regular passersby could easily become as big and thrilling as a skyscraper,

dominating my pictures with its haunting spirals. A rock— boring in most contexts—was suddenly as promising as the surface of an unexplored planet. It wasn’t just about appreciating everyday things; it was about adding more dimensions to my life experience. This allowed me to see my own version of the world as well as the diverse and exciting versions that, until then, had been shut out of my mind. This was how my mom taught us photography.

Getting Started with Photography Teaching perspectives through photography is easy. The basic requirement is to “point and shoot.” To get started, you need a camera with settings easy enough to learn in a few minutes—even a disposable camera will do. In fact, your more expensive cameras are safer at home. Older or cheaper cameras work best for this exercise. A carrying case or neck strap also comes in handy when kids are running around the park with your equipment. You’ll also need batteries and enough memory or film to hold about 100 photos per student since you will take a lot of pictures! Back at home, use free photo editing software like to add variety to your best shots while also teaching photo editing basics and computer skills. For older students, advanced photo editing functionality is available through, an open source program similar to Photoshop. YouTube tutorials such as those produced by Davies Media Design can help students get oriented to Gimp.

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Photography a Gateway to Healthy Perspectives In order to see what most people overlook, we have to let go of our own comfortable perspectives and look at the world from a different point of view. We learned that it can be hard to see the world in new ways when we’re so used to seeing it our way. There’s nothing wrong with having your own perspective, of course, but the key is to treat your point of view as just one pair of glasses that is free to be changed out for a new pair.

You’ll be amazed at how different a bridge can look if you see it from foot-level. Or, how interesting a hole in the wall can be when you get close enough to appreciate the texture and shape. The beauty of these lessons is they go far beyond capturing a few fun pictures. Cultivating respect for other points of view is crucial for gaining understanding. Our world consists of thousands of perspectives overlapping and tangling like old shoelaces. So, before we can appreciate other’s problems and worries, we must be able to untangle the knot to separate our thoughts from everyone else’s.

Additional Exercises in Perspective There are plenty of ways to teach students about different perspectives. Here are just a few fun ways to switch up your point of view! • People-watching. Human beings act a lot differently depending on where they are. Consider a lesson in people-watching by showing students the hectic rush at the airport, the scholarly calmness at the library, the fidgety unease at the doctor’s office and more locations. • Color. Color defines our world and has a surprising amount of control over us psychologically. Have students pay close attention to the colors they see in one day, then track how those colors influence thoughts and feelings. • Talking. It can be surprising how differently people talk, even when we’re speaking the same language. Take a day to have students pay attention to their own speech patterns and the verbal quirks and habits of others. Then, discuss how we shape our language as much as our language shapes us. • Inanimate objects. We tend to focus on ourselves that we forget how different the world looks from another perspective. Ask students to pick an object to personify, then imagine what it might feel like to live a day as that object. Would it be fun or scary to be a kite? How might a lamp feel? And so on. • Volunteer. The best changes in perspective are those that make a difference. Have your students volunteer for a day to see how something simple like a can of soup could be a lifesaver in someone else’s life.



If you can see the tree from the perspective of a human and the perspective of a bug, it’s not such a big step to see a real-world problem from two opposing sides. That makes it much easier to appreciate others’ ideas—rather than grate against those ideas—when they do not match up with your own. Homeschool students are in a great position to take full advantage of these lessons on perspective. It’s not easy to teach people how to have empathy and appreciate other’s problems. But, it is easy to pick up a camera, head to the park, and lay under a tree. As we homeschoolers already know, the best learning happens when it feels natural; when it’s something you discover for yourself (with a little guidance). Yes, perspectives are complex and important, but they are easier to grasp when you’re looking at them through a camera lens. In fact, maybe the whole world could use a photography lesson or two. ■ Ashlee Sierra knew she wanted to be a writer since before she could hold a pencil. Back then, she would tell her stories into a tape recorder instead! Thanks to her homeschool education, Ashlee is now a professional writer, photographer and adventurer. Although all of her tales are created at a cozy little desk in Boise, Idaho, both her fiction and nonfiction have been featured across the nation. Ashlee can be contacted about literary endeavors at All photos by Ashlee Sierra.

SCIENCE IN GOD’S WORLD Science Textbooks That Exalt God and Inspire Faith

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THS 17

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UPCOMING EVENTS Texas Leaders Conf.–The Woodlands July 20, 2017 The Woodlands, Texas

THSC Convention–The Woodlands


July 20-22, 2017 The Woodlands, Texas

Date TBA Houston, Texas




























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THSC Association

The Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) is a 501(c)(3) educational organization that is supported by tax-deductible donations. THSC is dedicated to serving the homeschool community; it promotes home education in Texas by educating the public, the homeschool community, and officials about homeschooling.

THSC Association, a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization, is dedicated to Keeping Texas Families Free. It is supported by membership fees and donations. THSC Association membership benefits include legal assistance, as well as a long list of other offerings and discounts.

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The work of the THSC PAC (Political Action Committee)—endorsing and supporting pro-homeschooling candidates— is supported by donations that are not tax-deductible. See for more information.

For Lab Techs ages 10-13


Important Terms to Know: Science Serum Works Cited Page Reference Source Paraphrase Summary Meditate Parasites Health Advantage Disadvantage Benefit Drawback

It’s now time to see what the Bible has to say about these three questions. Use more notecards to write the Scripture verse and its reference (book, chapter and verses) that answers the questions. Leviticus and Psalms are good places to start. Using your sources, write a five-paragraph essay on what you discovered from your investigation of the three scientific questions. BIBLICAL SCIENCE

Let’s begin researching our truth serum by pre-testing your knowledge of Biblical science. A pre-test measures what you currently know, without peeking! Answer these scientific questions: 1. What are some health advantages of meditating on God’s word? 2. What is the difference between clean and unclean animals? 3. How long does it take for germs and parasites to infect a human? Now, find more information to fully answer each question. Each book, magazine or website you use will be a source

• At least one sentence in your introductory paragraph should summarize your conclusions. That’s called a thesis statement. • In each of the three body paragraphs, first write a topic sentence based on your research of the three questions above. Then, finish each body paragraph with 2-3 more sentences that explain or tell more about your topic sentence. • In the conclusion paragraph, restate your thesis and explain why this information is important.

Finally, use your notecards to create a simple Works Cited page. You should list: • Title of the source • Author • Publisher • Date of publication. Well, did your research agree with mine? Did you discover that the Bible






We know that God created the world. We also know that people study that world in topics that are grouped together as a large subject called science. But did you know that before there was modern science, the Bible already revealed many of the mysteries that science later “discovered?”

for your research. For each source, make a note card with: • name of the book or article • author’s name • name of the publisher or website. Use the other side of the note card to: • summarize the important points you learned from each source • Copy direct quotes that make important points.


Welcome, Tween Techs! If the Texas sun hasn’t melted your brain by now, how about lending a hand with a new concoction I’m researching … a truth serum! I am convinced that if we apply the truth of God’s word to scientific matter, what comes dripping out of the pipe into the flask will be pure truth.

Motley Curriculum Concoctions

holds secrets that it has taken science many years to uncover? Until next time, Lab Techs!

Adaptations for Other-Aged Learners High School: • Create a multimedia presentation with a deeper look into the scientific facts. • Compare and contrast Biblical information with scientific information. • Create a Works Cited page using APA or MLA style guides. • Choose a verse to meditate on for five minutes a day for one week. Journal about the experience each day. Upper and Lower Elementary: • Discuss the answers to the questions with the teacher and then find one more example of God’s Science in Leviticus. • Read what the Bible says about ants, then go outside to find some ants and observe the truth of the Bible. • Choose a “scientific” verse to memorize, practicing the verse each day for a week. Early Elementary: • Discuss Creation vs. Science and God vs. Man. • Have the student draw a picture explaining to their friend how the above comparisons are different. ■

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We Were Homeschoolers Once—and Young “It was 1969, my thoughts were short, my hair was long …” — Kid Rock That about sums it up for me. Too young to get to Woodstock and too dumb to know any better. Carrie, on the other hand, was an only child, PK, determined, focused, and attending Baylor when we met in 1976. It really doesn’t seem so long ago when Carrie and I were young, energetic and idealistic. At that time, we became part of the homeschooling community, which was mostly yuppie, having lots of children, and believing Mary Pride, who told us we would take over the world by sheer numbers. “Overwhelm their defenses—kill the queen.” — Antz (1998) But it wasn’t easy. In fact, it was tiring. I was working 60 to 80 hours a week to fund the project. Carrie was taking care of the home and babies full-time. And babies just kept coming—every 18 to 24 months. I would ask Carrie, “Where are these babies coming from?” And she would just shrug her shoulders, “I don’t know. I can’t remember.” But they kept coming. It stopped just shy of a dozen. As time progressed, we began to notice an unsettling trend within our beloved homeschooling community. Homeschooled children were saying they were not going to homeschool their children. There were sons and daughters of high-profile homeschool leaders, as well as your average, every-day homeschool family. They were eloping, sometimes with non-Christian mates. A significant


Photo by Scott Web

number of homeschool graduates were moving on to college and subsequently denying their Christian faith. It’s difficult to have conversations with parents who have experienced challenges with one or more of their adult children, and then abandoned the vision themselves. But for those who have experienced the challenges and still embrace the vision, I have found these common denominators: 1. The parents were committed to a long-term, multi-generational vision. They communicated their children’s role in the vision to them and the whole community. 2. The parents were committed to their own personal continuing education. They took advantage of every conference and workshop that reinforced their vision and they took their children with them. 3. The parents were not isolationists. They were committed to and involved in a local church body that was in line with their vision. And, they sent their


children to conferences that were age and theology-appropriate to meet and engage with like-minded young people from around the country. 4. The parents empowered their children. They taught a theological system that enabled their children to confidently engage the nay-sayers and to believe that they could, indeed, impact culture. “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men …” — Robert Burns We all have the best intentions. Life is messy and that mess oftentimes catches up with even the best of us. Thankfully, we have the promise of our God: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” — Proverbs 22:6 May we stand on the promise and make sure we are doing our part, too. Pat Hurd serves as director of finance at Texas Home School Coalition.


Texas Home School Coalition You can depend on us to protect your rights as a Texas family.

Benefits of THSC Membership


Online Individualized Education Plan Generator!

• Free Legal Assistance • FREE Convention Registration • Texas Homeschool Handbook • Student and Teacher Photo ID Cards • Customized Diplomas • Report Card Template • High School Transcript Templates • Special Needs Consultant and Support • Homeschool Support Staff

With hundreds of volunteers and staff—all with homeschooling experience in Texas, THSC is The Authority on Home Education in Texas

Look what we have done together since our founding: • Texas Supreme Court ruled home-schooling legal • Parents can teach driver’s ed • Homeschoolers can take dual credit classes • Homeschoolers are eligible for higher ed grants • State colleges can no longer discriminate against home schoolers • Public schools must allow homeschoolers to take PSAT

Visit or call 806.744.4441 for more information.

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