2016-2017 School Year

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Ready or not, we commence another school year this coming week. I have changed a few things compared to last year. The biggest change is that we will school five days a week. Last year I did six days a week because I wanted to try it.

It was tiring but I just could not let go. I had to take the experiment all the way to the end of the school year.

Father, son and daughter picking up fireworks for July 4th

Picking up some fireworks for the 4th – one of the memories of the summer which is coming to a close slowly but surely

This year, we are going back to schooling Monday-Friday and taking the weekend off. I am hoping this will relieve some of the pressure I felt last year. It will give me a full day to catch up on my writing deadlines and housework. And the kids get a full day to free play. Knowing them, they will spend some of that free time coding on ScratchContinue reading »

I like to make the first day of school special. I don’t make it into a huge deal, but I mark it with a special breakfast menu (pancakes in addition to our daily oatmeal, for instance) and maybe an outing in the afternoon or early evening if we get everything done.

We will take pictures, of course. It’s the only way to gather up a couple of portrait-style pictures that – I found out – are needed for different things throughout the year.

For instance, last year, their piano teacher made them Christmas ornaments and asked me for nice head shots of the kids. She is an artist, not just a piano teacher, and likes to make crafts for her students at Christmas time. The best pictures I found of my kids were the school pictures from the beginning of the school year.

Then, for this school year, one of our homeschool support groups gave us school IDs. As such, they required nice head shots of the kids. Again, I reached for the school pictures from last year.

So I made a note to self, that we should definitely start every school year dressed nicely and with semi-formal pictures of the kids. You never know when you can utilize these portraits.

What about your first day of school? Do you have any traditions?

Thoughtful Thursday Week 32 – Back-to-School

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This is our first week of going back-to-school and it has already presented some challenges. But in my second day, God spoke to me through Zechariah 4:6 and reminded me that WHAT we do is not as important as HOW we do it. You may be familiar with Zechariah 4:6: “… not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord.” I would like to submit to you that this verse holds the secret to homeschooling successfully.

The Lord called you to a mission – homeschooling – and He will provide the spirit in which to do it. If you are listening, you will hear His still, small voice and will know to turn this way or that.


If you go into Strong’s Concordance for the original Hebrew words, you will find that “might” can mean wealth and “power” can mean physical force. The way I see it, homeschooling does not need the most expensive curriculum or an angry call to obeying the schedule. No wonder Charlotte Mason calls it the gentle art of teaching.

You know how some people who are afraid of homeschooling invoke the need for structure in a child’s life? Well, I dare say that a child can have a structured life even without having to be in a school building by 7:50 every morning. A homeschooled child also can learn structure without being a slave to the clock.  Continue reading »

“My Spirit” in Zechariah 4:6 is a feminine noun in the original Hebrew, by the way. Already, that fact alone brings a different perspective. I am no theologian, but I am aware that God has some female characteristics, otherwise He could not have made both Adam and Eve in His image.

The Hebrew word for “spirit” in this verse is transliterated into ruach (pronounced roo’-akh) and here’s the translation which makes the most sense to me for homeschooling: “imparting warlike energy and executive and administrative power.” Every morning, homeschooling parents must have the kind of energy needed in war – courage and stamina as if their life depended on it. I speak of spiritual war, first of all. But we also have a physical war to wage. One of the public school moms I know asked me, “But aren’t you EXHAUSTED by the end of the day?”

I replied, “Not more than you. You have to wake up early enough to get your two children ready for school, drive them there, then go to your work and be on your feet for so many hours, then rush to pick your kids up from school and do your late afternoon and evening routine. If anything, you should be more exhausted than I. I can always take a quick Time Out or a longer Quiet Time from my kids and get refreshed somewhere in the middle of the day.” She asked, “Oh, you do Quiet Time?” “Yes, we do. Not every day, but we do.”

When I find I need more physical strength, I go to apple cider vinegar. I have never acquired a taste for coffee, I am afraid. Plus, I don’t want a caffeinated brain. So I mix 8 oz of water with one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and, if I feel like it, one teaspoon of honey. But honey is not necessary. I know people who use lemon instead of the apple cider vinegar because they like to stay away from fermented products. So there are options beyond coffee. Just sayin’.

As to the executive and administrative power, I would encourage you to get organized before, during and after your schooling time. I know I need to have a clean and de-cluttered home in order to function. Some days I turn a blind eye to the clutter because I am focused on what we must accomplish academically. But it catches up with me. If anything, by the end of the week, I must enforce clean up time for my own sanity.

Another meaning for “My Spirit” in this vers is “as energy of life” and “as manifest in the Shekinah glory” – these expressions are reminders that we must have our own time with God to get refreshed and aligned with His plans for us. The Shekinah glory which made Moses’ face shine can also hover over us as we read the Bible and listen to God’s voice through His Word.

Cheers to you as you begin your new homeschool year and may God bless our efforts!