Apologia: Flourish Book Review

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I love reading and I love organizational tips. So you can imagine how glad I was to read and review Flourish, Balance for Homeschool Moms, by Mary Jo Tate, published by Apologia Educational Ministries. This book contains everything a homeschooling mom needs to organize her life AND her way of thinking.

The most important thing in the book are not so much the forms and the organizational principles, as much as the philosophy underlying everything, i.e. that your goal should be balancing your many roles and tasks throughout the day and the years, not juggling them. The image you should have in your mind, as a homeschooling mom trying to do it all, is not that of a juggler, throwing things in the air so you can catch the urgent ones ready to hit the floor. Instead, you should imagine a tight-rope walker, carefully making small adjustments, as she advances to the other side.  Continue reading »

Flourish Cover

This book is for moms and it was written specifically for homeschooling moms. If you have your own business while homeschooling, you will find it even more tailored to your needs. But, if you don’t, think as one of the ladies quoted in the book said, “my business is homeschooling.” You save the family thousands of dollars every year by homeschooling and not enrolling your children in private schools. So the principles given for your own business could also easily be applied to everything you do in homeschooling.

The author’s story is impressive: when her fourth son was only six months old, her husband left her. Life as she knew it came to an end. Can you imagine the heartache and the confusion for her and for her sons? She was determined to homeschool though. So she prayed and struggled and found a way to work from home as an editor, seminar creator, and writer so she could continue on with her calling.

Flourish-Mary-Jo-Tate

You know, that really inspires and encourages me. All these moms out there rolling their eyes at me when they hear I homeschool and whispering, “I could not do that…” Well, here’s proof positive that homeschooling can be done even as a – gasp! – work-at-home single mom of four sons.

When I first read about this book, I expected some “Ra-Ra!” message for homeschooling moms, from the pen of a pampered stay-at-home homeschooling mom, whose husband is a doctor or lawyer. I thought, “Surely, the author will be quoting Scripture and tell us to not get weary in well-doing…” I am glad to tell you I was wrong. Ms. Tate does quote Scripture, but the book is not as predictable as I thought. Plus, I find it quite useful with all the tips and tricks for organizing time and home and homeschooling.

So yes, it’s inspirational because of Ms. Tate’s story, but it’s really a practical book. Most of the principles you may have heard before from Zig Ziglar and other motivational, organizational gurus. She quotes them herself. But Ms. Tate applies them to homeschooling moms and that’s the reason why you should buy the book. It’s a 289-page paperback filled with forms for your to use over and over again. Once you buy it, you will receive a code to access these forms online and print them out as you see fit. The books costs $15.

Apologia Logo

At the end of every chapter, there are assignments for you to do before you  go on, under the heading, “Take Action!” Personally, I found out a lot about myself as I took the time to fill out the forms and think about the questions. The shocker for me was when I answered the question, “What is the one thing you would like to change about yourself?” My answer was so completely not related to the Big Dream I had described in previous questions. It came from the left field and taught me much about myself.

But then, when I stopped and thought about it, it made perfect sense. If I could just change this one thing about me, my self-confidence would grow and then I would be able to accomplish the Big Dream. For me, these exercises were crucial in getting any benefit from this book. It’s not a novel you read and get a few moments of pleasure from. It’s a workshop which requires active participation. The book came out of her workshop called “How Do You Do It All?”.

Throughout the book, there are inspirational quotes from famous people, as well as from homeschooling moms the author has counseled and coached over the years. Here’s one by Theodore Roosevelt: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” One of the moms in Ms. Tate’s “How Do You Do It All?” class says, “A big key to success for me is that the more I write down, the less I have in my brain. The less I have swirling around in my brain, the better I can focus on the task at hand without having to worry about what is next or if I’m forgetting anything. And I’m actually less irritable with my children.”

So if you are overwhelmed or just slightly unbalanced in your homeschooling experience, let Ms. Tate take you on this journey. First, she will invite you to flourish, then to change your mind about how you view your life (balancing, not juggling). In the third chapter, you will find the FREEDOM toolbox, an acronym for Focus, Reflect, Educate, Eliminate, Discipline, Organize, Multitask, Use Your Tools Wisely, Take Action!

From Chapter 4, the real fun begins. You are to keep a time log for every 30-minute interval in your day. You know, kind of like people who are keeping track of the calories they ingest, so they can get a better picture of their diet. This exercise is brilliant. You will learn much about where you squander your minutes. Chapter 5 is all about setting goals, the why and the how. Chapter 6 will give you the seven essential planning tools.

This is where Ms. Tate allows you to skip one or two forms if it all seems like overkill in the beginning. I like her flexibility. She explains she experimented with dropping some of these forms but it all became a mess, so she added them back on. In all honesty, that’s where I’m at. It seems like busy work, but I have not tried it yet for my opinion to really matter. I do, however, plan to walk myself through the whole planning process the way she describes it for the next calendar year, and see what results I get.

The rest of the book I will not present here. You will have to get your own copy and enjoy it and let it organize your life and your way of thinking.

To connect with the book online, here are the Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FlourishAtHome
Twitter: https://twitter.com/maryjotate

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Apologia “What On Earth Can I Do?” Review

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For almost two months, we have had the privilege of using a worldview curriculum called “What on Earth Can I Do?” from Apologia Educational Ministries. This post is a review of the set which contains a hardback book ($39), a notebooking journal ($24), junior notebooking journal ($24) and coloring book ($8). This set is volume 4 of the What We Believe series.

Apologia What In The World Can I Do

The thick hardback book, with full color illustrations and glossy paper, like anything else coming out of the Apologia Educational Ministries store, is impressive in both content and presentation. The junior notebooking journal contains coloring pages, word puzzles, word searches, mini books, craftivities and room to write or draw. It is a younger version of the regular notebooking journal. The coloring book contains only pages for little ones to color.

Apologia Junior Notebooking Journal

I read to my children from the book. Then, my son, who is in kindergarten, worked his way through the Junior Notebooking Journal, while my daughter, a preschooler, colored the corresponding pages in the Coloring Book.

Apologia Coloring Book

One lesson, about 50 pages long, divided into some 17 sections, looks at the same concept from a different lens. There are references to Hollywood movies (The Sound of Music), actors (Charlie Chaplin), Christian authors (Corrie ten Boom), Jesus’ parables and character development.

This worldview curriculum contains enormous amounts of information on different topics while following the main thread of stewardship. As Christians, we view the world through the lens of biblical concepts. Our children must be taught how to look at everything in life and ask, “What does the Bible say I should do in this situation?” The characters presented in the book modify their thoughts and behavior after answer that question, thus setting an example for all of us.

You may want to use it to supplement your history learning or, better yet, as a family devotional. Through all the lessons, the authors answer spiritual questions and draw real life applications. It’s really closer to a Bible curriculum if you don’t mind all the references to pop culture in the context of Bible class.

The Apologia “What In The World Can I Do?” worldview curriculum is intended for students in grades 1-6. They mention, on the Apologia website, that it is  “adaptable” to younger ages. In my experience, this curriculum takes a lot of adapting for younger children (PreK and K ages). So, if you have the energy, creativity and motivation, you can venture. If not, I suggest you wait a few years.

Apologia suggests a sample lesson plan which covers one lesson in the book in six sessions – two classes per week, over three weeks, for instance. I can tell you that the hardback book contains a lot of material and you will not find it difficult to keep your children busy.

In some cases, I had to adapt the writing quite a bit. They say the writing is on a fifth grade level, but it seems almost high-school level to me. My local newspaper is on a fifth grade level. This curriculum is higher than that.

We had a lot of new vocabulary to explain, but that was not all. I found some of the concepts quite mature – definitely not for children under 10. So we skipped over some things.

Apologia Educational Ministries

We worked through the first four lessons, which deal with World War II issues (Hitler, Churchill, the von Trapp Family, the blitz of London, the moving of children from London to the country side, the final victory) from the perspective of an English family.

I did not know how scared my children were of this story until we got to chapter four. Before I started reading, my son said, “You are reading this to us because if the war comes to Tennessee, my sister and I will have to be separated from you and daddy. We will have to go to the countryside to escape the fire bombs.”

Of course, I had to do some damage control right then and there.

In spite of all that, my children really connected with Colin and Jenny, a brother and sister, who were part of this English family. Another connection was the scene where Colin helps firefighters protect St. Paul’s Cathedral. My son loves anything that has to do with fighting fires.

St. Paul's Cathedral protected by firefighters during the Blitz

My son enjoyed coloring this page about how firefighters kept St. Paul’s safe.

When we started the fifth lesson, they just could not forget about Colin and Jenny. A new set of siblings is introduced, this time from North Africa, and my children could not move on. So we made chapati to get them into the new story, following the recipe from the book. It was quite good when fresh and hot.

Boy rolls chapati dough

My son loved rolling out the dough for chapati

In conclusion, I would highly recommend this worldview curriculum from Apologia to older elementary or even high school students.

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Here are the social media links for Apologia:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/apologiaworld
Twitter – https://twitter.com/apologiaworld 
Google+ – https://plus.google.com/105053356034237782125/posts
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/apologia/

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