Homepreschool and Beyond

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    Homepreschool and Beyond will give parents the knowledge they need to find “balance” for their family. Find out what young children need to know—and how to teach it. Gain the confidence you need to relax and enjoy those precious preschool years—and beyond.

    “Susan Lemons gives you the blueprint…”

    • 26 Chapters
    • Covers all areas of development
    • Covers all areas of curriculum
    • For a ages 2-8
    • Developmentally appropriate
    • Literature based
    • Spiritual and character building emphasis

Archive for the ‘Holiness’ Category

Helping Our Children Grow Close Relationships with God: A Reality Check, and a Suggested Book List

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on August 28, 2014


This next section of my three part series is going to be the toughest to stomach, but it is the most important. If you only read one part of this series, I hope you will read this part. Much of this I was already planning to post. In fact, the Lord has been convicting me to post it somewhere for a long time. It’s hard to do, because a lot of it is personal.

First of all, I want you to know that I understand that the information in this series, “Helping Our Children Grow Close Relationships with God,” can be overwhelming. My blog can be overwhelming, and my book too, unless you approach it with the right attitude. You need to know that all the things I’ve listed in the previous posts of this series (and in my book) are ideas…lofty goals to work towards. So take the ideas I’ve shared as ideas, only. You get to choose which ideas will work in your home, with your children, and when. But don’t try to do them all (at least, not all at once!) You don’t have to do them all. You probably can’t do them all. And (here’s the important part): Even if you could do all these things, there is no guarantee that your children will grow up to have the close, personal relationship with God that you hope they will. The hard truth is, every child has free will, and can choose to live for the Lord—or choose not to. Many loving, Christian parents, who thought they did all the “right things”, including myself, have learned this the hard way, and had their hearts broken. I say this not to discourage you, but to give you a hard dose of reality. I feel I can share these things because they’ve happened to ME.

My first child has rejected the faith and is living in a way that is not pleasing to God. My daughter is living for the Lord (praise God!), but now differs from us doctrinally on a few points. And, if you met my youngest boys, you would know without a doubt that either my husband and I are imperfect parents (true), or my that my boys haven’t fully submitted themselves to God (yet!) They are not easy kids, and they never have been. They both have “flashes” that show me what Godly men they might grow up to become, but their behavior in-between those flashes, especially the way they get along treat each other, isn’t always pleasant. But we struggle along, anyway, doing the best we can, praying for them, teaching them, and never, ever, giving up.

I still believe that homeschooling is the most Biblical way to educate children, and I still believe that it is the educational choice that is the most likely to produce the results we are hoping for (children who grow up to be Christians.) But those beliefs are tempered with the reality of the fact that there are “no guarantees.” It is our responsibility to do the best we can, but we must leave the results to God. If we have taught our children about the Lord from the time they are young, we can then claim the promises in God’s Word (the principles of sowing and reaping, the scriptures He gives us regarding our children, and so on.) HERE is a site lists many of the promises that parents can claim for their children, and HERE is another great site—scroll down for an awesome list of Bible promises regarding our children.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned over the years—things that the Lord has laid on my heart to share:

About our kids:
-Remember that God has given your children a free will. As the old saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” We can share the Lord with our children their whole lives without result. Some children choose not to submit themselves to God. Others say they have, but their behavior shows that they are not regenerated (not new creations/not living for the Lord as they should.) Others still may out and out reject the truth we try so hard to instill into them. Pray that your children would have soft hearts towards the voice of the Lord, and would come to salvation at an early age. Pray that they would be able to discern truth from lies. Ask the Lord to open their spiritual understanding.

-Remember that your children are watching you. Set a good example for them. Rebellious children will look for any weaknesses or inconsistencies in your life, and use them to justify their own sin. They will see you as a hypocrite, and call you on it. “Do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t cut it. Try to live what you teach, so that this doesn’t happen. Ask the Lord to change you, grow you, a help you become more like Jesus.

-Remember that we can’t be our children’s Holy Spirit. It’s not our job. You can’t convict your children of sin, or of their need of God, and so on, anyway. Only the Holy Spirit can do that!! We can communicate our beliefs, thoughts, and personal conviction to them, but it is ultimately up to the Holy Spirit to deal with them. Pray that your children would be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and that they would be doers of the Word, not hearers only.


About us (parents):

-Be careful not to make your children or your family an idol. Whatever you esteem, value, or think about the most becomes an idol. Don’t get so caught up in the lives of your children that you neglect your own spiritual life.

-Beware of parental pride: If you find yourself looking around at other parents whose kids are struggling or whose children have turned away from the Lord, and you are assuming that yours won’t, because “you’ve done everything right…everything you are supposed to….even homeschooled them”…then be careful. Pride is a sin. Pride is not pleasing to God. God says that He opposed the proud. You can be assured that if you are prideful about your children, at some time or another you WILL be slapped down…probably by own your children’s own behavior.

-Be careful about your attitude towards other parents who are having struggles with their kids. Don’t assume that they are doing everything wrong, or that they must be “messed-up” or “bad parents.” In short, don’t judge them. Don’t shoot the wounded. For all you know, they have poured their hearts and souls into their children, only to see them do the exact opposite of all they had been taught. Instead of feeling superior or judging them, pray for them. Pray for their children to return to the Lord. Love on them, and encourage them.

That’s it for the “reality check” for now. Think about these things, and examine yourself: Do any of these cautions apply to you? Do you have any attitudes to change? I will share some more specific things that are on my heart at a later date (Important Things to Teach Your Older Children–kind of a “spiritual lessons from the Mother of a Prodigal” type of post.) I’ll also share some important links at the end of this post. But for now, let’s go back to the “how” we can help our children learn about the Lord.

Remember that if we do all that we can do to teach our children about the Lord, we can rely on the promises of God regarding our children!!

Below is a list of the Bible story books and picture books that we have enjoyed. I’ve listed them by approximate age of usage.

Bible Storybooks

We started reading Bible story books to our children when they were very young. We try to be careful to choose Bible story books that don’t “add” to the Bible—guessing what Jesus must have thought or felt, for example. The usual progression of books in our house has been something like this:

1-2 years: Read-Aloud Bible Stories, Volumes 1-4, by Ella K. Lindvall

2-3 years: The above, plus The Beginner’s Bible, by Karyn Henley

3-4 years: The above, plus My Bible Friends, by Etta H. Degering (5 volumes)

Happy Day Books (available most Bible bookstores)

4-5 years: The Golden Children’s Bible
Arch Bible Books (available at most Bible bookstores)
Egermier’s Bible Story Book, by Elsie E. Egermier (this one is another favorite.)

5+ years: The above, plus The Child’s Story Bible, by Catherine F. Vos (This book is beautifully written. I like that it explains the orgins of Satan. It also covers more of the new testament than most Bible story books do.)

6+ years: The Bible, itself. You can find a listing of all the major Bible stories to read straight from the Bible, Old Testament HERE and New Testament HERE.

Of course, every family has its own favorites, and every child is ready to move up to the “more advanced book” in his or her own time. If your children have a Bible storybook that they really love, it’s OK to stick with it longer! The important thing is to get your children to know and love the stories and concepts in the Word. Read from a Bible storybook daily, and discuss the stories. Explain, in the simplest terms you can, what the stories teach us. Be sure to teach your children that these “story books”, unlike their other “story books,” really happened; they are TRUE.
To help our children understand some of the more difficult Biblical concepts, we also use specialized storybooks that strive to explain them as simply as possible (Devotional books):

My very favorite devotional for little ones (three and four year olds) is Stepping Stones to Bigger Faith for Little People: A Collection of Family Devotions, by Joyce Herzog. Just right for preschoolers, this is a sweet book that explains difficult concepts such as forgiveness, the blood of the lamb, living without fear, growing in holiness, and lots more, in a way that young children can understand.

Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers, by Joey Allen (titles include “The Scripture”, “The Mission”, “The Trinity” and “The Gospel”.

Little Lessons for Little Learners
, by Patricia Richardson Mattozzi (titles include “Angels”, “Heaven”, and “Prayer”.

Leading Little Ones To God, a devotional that explains the main Biblical themes, by Marian M. Schooland 4-5+

The Story of The Lord’s Prayer, The Story of Ten Commandments, by Patricia A. Pingry

Three in One, a Picture of God, by Joanne Marxhausen

Tell Me a Story: Treasures for Eternity, and others by Max Lucado 5+

Comfort for a Child’s Heart: The 23rd Psalm and Bible Promises, By David and Helen Haidle (This is a favorite of ours, one that we will read several different times throughout childhood. It is beautifully illustrated, beautifully written, and shares important truths.)

Here are some of our favorites for older children:

Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress, by Oliver Hunkin (8 years and up.)

Kingdom Tales, by David and Karen Mains (grades 3-8.)

The Young Peacemaker: Teaching Students to Respond to Conflict in God’s Way, by Corlette Sande (fourth grade and up.)

Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends, by Sarah, Harold, and Stephen Mally (Sixth grade and up.)

Battlefield of the Mind for Kids, by Joyce Meyers (a favorite of ours; fourth or fifth grade and up; a very important book!)
Discover 4 Yourself Inductive Bible Studies for Kids, by Kay Arthur ( I would say third or fourth grade through seventh or eighth.)

Finally: Conversations and Daily Life

Biblical concepts should be a natural part of daily conversations. If we are aware of the presence of the Lord in our daily lives, we should share this awareness with our children. Simple comments like those below are key to bringing our children into an awareness of the power of God, how to please God, how important prayer is, and so on. Talk to your children about spiritual matters on a daily basis!

“Aren’t you glad God made kittens for us to love?”

“It makes Jesus happy when you share.”

“There’s a fire truck! While we pull over and let it pass, let’s pray for the
Fire Fighters, and for whoever might have been hurt in the fire or accident they are headed to.”

“What does the Bible say about lying? Is lying pleasing to God?”

“Grandma called, and she isn’t feeling good today. Let’s stop what we are doing and pray for her right now.”

“Before we leave on our trip, let’s pray and ask God to help us have a safe trip and a fun time.” (This is a tradition at our house; we never leave on a trip without praying first.)

I hope this series of posts has been helpful and encouraging to you. As I said, I will be sharing more of my thoughts shortly. In the meantime, may the Lord bless you and yours!!
~Susan

PLEASE take the time to read the articles below. They are so important!!

Exposing the Seven Major Blindspots of Homeschoolers, by Reb Bradley

Christian Child Training Versus Free-Will by Barbara Frank.

© 2010, 2014 Susan Lemons all rights reserved. Portions of this post were taken from Homepreschool and Beyond, used with permission.

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Posted in Book Lists, Challenge to Parents, Elementary School, Family Life, Holiness, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Homeschool Preschool, Homeschool/homepreschool, Homeschooling, Picture Books, Reading Aloud, Spiritual Matters, Teaching Bible | Leave a Comment »

Helping Our Children Grow Close Relationships with God

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on August 18, 2014


Building relationships is our most important job as parents. As I stated in my previous post on relationships,

“Developing relationships is the most important part of any homepreschool/homeschool. We must help our children grow strong, loving relationships—first with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and next within our families. Many of us say that this is our priority, but in truth, it is not. If helping our children develop a close relationship with God was really our priority, it would be reflected in the amount of time we spend reading Bible stories to our children, memorizing the Word with them, praying with them (and for them), and worshiping together. (Discipleship.)
…I’m sad to say that we too often neglect what is most important (building strong relationships) in favor of other priorities (early academics, our own interests, etc.)
We must take the time to “make the main thing the main thing”, and teach our children about the Lord while they are young.”
(Excerpt from Homepreschool and Beyond, used with permission.)

It used to be, back in the “early days” of our homeschooling (1990’s), almost all homeschoolers were Christians, and almost all were homeschooling primarily for religious reasons. It was almost a foregone conclusion. Not so any more. Homeschooling has become more acceptable, more “mainstream”, and the movement has become very diverse (which is a good thing.) Even Christian homeschooling families often start homeschooling with other priorities in mind (academics, as a reaction to problems in public schools, family issues, developmental/learning issues, and more.) But whenever I meet a Christian homeschooler, I always try to encourage them to redirect their focus, and “make the main thing the main thing.” And the “main thing” is always God.

The main reason we choose to homeschool is NOT because of curriculum problems in the public schools, common core, bullies, learning issues, or any of the PLETHORIA of reasons that many families become initially interested in homeschooling (even though these are all great reasons to homeschool.) We homeschool for eternity. Our most important goals are related to helping our children grow strong, personal relationships with God. So how do we do that? First, I will present some challenging questions for you to ponder, and then, some specific goals and examples of “how” we do it.

There are two main ways we can help our children develop close, personal relationships with God: Through example and through purposeful teaching.

*Through example: This is the hardest, but perhaps the most important way to help our children grow close relationships with God. The importance of parental example cannot be overemphasized. “Do as I say, but not as I do” just doesn’t cut it. We need to become aware of the fact that we are teaching our children all the time, whether or not we are aware of it. What have you been teaching today?
Questions to ask yourself: Do your children see you studying God’s Word consistently? Do they see you praying? Is your first course of action in case of emergency prayer? Have you ever stopped what you are doing and prayed when an ambulance or fire truck streaks by with its lights flashing? Do you pray together regularly as a family? Do you spend time praying for your children and their future spouses?
Do you attend church regularly, and take your children with you? Do your children see you giving yourself over to worship, and enjoying it?
Do you serve others in love?
And, hardest of all, do you live out the fruits of the spirit in your home-in your life? Is it obvious to others that you are a new creation in Christ? Are you growing in holiness? Does in show in your speech (what you say and don’t say), and in what you watch (or don’t watch) on television? In short, are you growing as a Christian?

*Through teaching: Do you dedicate the time you should to teaching your children about the Lord, or is teaching them their colors or learning the alphabet more important? Yes, those things are important, at the proper time. But have they become more important than God is in your home? Which do you devote more time to?
Does the topic of “God” come up in casual conversation in your house? Do you have a daily devotional/Bible reading time with your children as part of your homeschool? Do you encourage your children, once they can read, to start the habit of having their own devotions daily?
How are your daily devotions going? Do you skip them in favor of getting breakfast made or the laundry started?
Do you teach your children to memorize scripture? Do you memorize scripture?

Think on these challenging questions, and hang on for part two and three in a few days.

© 2010, 2014 Susan Lemons all rights reserved. Portions of this post were taken from Homepreschool and Beyond, used with permission.

Posted in Challenge to Parents, Holiness, Homeschool Preschool, Homeschool/homepreschool, Homeschooling, Parenting, Spiritual Matters | Leave a Comment »

Helpful Advice for Homeschooling Elementary School-Aged Children

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on June 12, 2010


Simplify the Curriculum, or “Colette’s List of 10 Things  (with my own comments added):

1).  Keep everything as simple as you can. Jesus wrote with a stick in the dirt, and He was the greatest teacher that ever lived. He used no curriculum or flannel graphs or lesson plans. Homeschooling can be made far more complicated than it should be. A simpler approach is much more effective.

     Why do we make things so difficult for ourselves?  Why do we feel we need to spend hundreds of dollars on curriculum, “educational toys”, manipulatives, etc to homeschool successfully?  Why do we glue ourselves to one single method or curriculum? 

      Remember, there is no perfect curriculum.  There is no special toy/manipulative or magical homeschooling method that will teach your children and solve all your problems.  The truth is, we can make almost anything “work” as curriculum if we need to–in fact, before buying curriculum, it’s always a good idea to ask yourself if it is really necessary at all.  Many topics can be taught naturally using real books and discussion. 

     The key to homeschool success is relationship–your relationship with your children; the time you spend working with them one-on-one; your ability to individualize your methods and curiculum; the time you spend reading aloud and then discussing what you’ve read.  Relationship is more important than curriculum (or method.)

2).  Stick to the 3 R’s. They form the foundation of life-long learning in every field because they are the tools of study. There will be no need to formalize any other subject if the children are doing their best in these 3, because people who are well grounded in reading, writing and math will approach other subjects boldly, independently and confidently.

     I have to add Bible to that…I believe our most important subjects are Bible/Christian Character, math, and language arts.  We should concentrate most of our time on these.  Be sure to go for mastery, not just “exposure” in these subjects.  I have a good friend who says, “If your child knows and loves the Lord, loves to learn, can read and write well, knows basic math, and knows how to do research –then what else does he need?”   (Thanks, Peggy!)

     Do you worry about “gaps”?!  Things your children will miss?  All children have “gaps”.  You have them, too.  There is simply too much to learn; no one can master it all.  But if you love to learn and if you know how to do research, you will want to fill those gaps when they come up–and you’ll know how to do so.  You will be a lifelong learner.

     Don’t get me wrong; I do want my children to know science, history, geography, etc.  We do teach those subjects in our homeschool.  I also believe that art and music are important.  But sometimes we overlook the fact that our children learn lots from real life, being read to and through independent reading.  We make things harder than they need to be.  If your children haven’t mastered the basics yet, try concentrating on mastering them  for awhile.  For your other subjects, read aloud to your children, and discuss what you’ve read.  Also encourage your children to explore their own interests during their free time. 

3).  Let the children teach themselves as much as they are able to. This teaches them responsibility, intellectual independence, and builds confidence. It’s also better for the parent/child relationship because you can focus on parenting instead of playing schoolteacher.

     I agree, and yet disagree with this one.  I make it a rule not to do anything for my children that they can do for themselves; I encourage them to learn how to work “independently”  in their chores and their schoolwork (more and more as they grow older.)   But that doesn’t mean I expect to totally give up my role as “teacher-mom”  and turn all learning over to my children.  I think there has to be a balance of independent work and facitiated learning/discusion. 

      Sometimes in our haste to make things easier for ourselves, we turn too much over to our children too soon.  To make the most of our homeschool, we need to maintain our involvement in our children’s school work.  At the least, we should introduce new concepts and discuss them; introduce new assignments, communicating to our children exactly what is expected of them; supervise/check in on our children as they work; read aloud/discuss their learning; ask them to talk to you about what they’ve learned (or narrate–either verbally or through a report), and finally, inspect (check) their work immediately upon it’s completion.  If we overlook these things, we miss out on the best parts of homeschooling and in my opinion, let our children down. 

     I must admit, I didn’t do the best job with this for my older set of children.  I was so busy with my little ones that I entrusted them with too much independence too soon.  I didn’t discern their true needs.  Be careful to find a balance in your homeschool, so that you don’t repeat my mistakes.  (Note:  Plan to sit right with your children while they are doing their assignments for the first few years.  Maturity comes before independence.)

4).  Use the most direct method available. For reading, read. For writing, write, for math, do it, and for Bible, read it. Don’t fall for catchy curriculums or methods that are really just something else for you and your child to learn. 

     See my post, “Homeschooling Early Elementary…Keep it Simple”, HERE.  

5).  Don’t worry about your child’s age or grade. Just let him do the best he can each day. Children grow intellectually like they do physically: in spurts. Although we may have an audience of skeptical relatives, homeschooling is not a circus, and we refuse to train our children to do tricks for people.

     Our goal should be to find out where our children are now, and then move them forward from there.  Slow and steady wins the race!  We tend to expect far too much of our younger children, and not nearly enough of our older children.  Instead, duing the early elementary years, back off a bit and wait for readiness.  Children in Sweeden and Switzerland don’t even start school until they are 7, and yet they outscore American children on standardized tests.  (See my tab, “Readiness”, and my archived posts on readiness as well.)

 6).  Minimize distractions in the home. Watch for excessiveness in entertainments, snacking, outings, phone conversations and the like. These sorts of things can easily get out of hand and compete with the effectiveness of a homeschool and sap the family of time and energy.

     Such distractions also get in the way of our children’s time to play,  explore their hobbies/interests, and so on.  These are vitally important to children of all ages.  Distractions eat up our own time as well; especially the time we could be spend reading the Bible,  playing games with our children, and giving them unrushed, real life experiences (cooking, nature walks, art, etc) they need.

7).  Seek quality over quantity. A few tapes of great music, a small case of carefully chosen books, a few special play mates, and an occasional outing is better than a large, but poor quality collection.

     Often we spend hundreds of dollars on these things–with the best of intentions–only to have them gathering dust on a shelf.  Start with a few of the best, and use them.  Once your children become familiar with the books and CD’s you have, you can add more.  This saves you from stress and guilt…and it saves money, too.  Sometimes I think we give ourselves so many options that we don’t know what to do; we’re like toddlers overwhelmed by a mountain of toys.  Less really can be “more.”  Believe me about this–I’ve learned it the hard way.

8).  If you must document your school activities, do it after the fact. This way you will not make promises you cannot keep. If you are required to make lesson plans, be as vague as permissible. Don’t let transcripts, diplomas, records and tests determine your academic plans. Focus on learning and the rest will follow.

     I don’t know about you, but I hate those “teacher plan” books…I dispise those empty boxes (even if I planned my day that way–i.e. alternating subjects.)  This year we’re using a simple, journal-type planner.  I added my own tabs to divide up the weeks, as well as tabs for writing down the books we read, resources we’re using, etc.

9).  Put the needs of your youngest, most vulnerable children first. If an older child gets a little behind in school, I’m sure you can forgive yourself. But if something happened to the toddler while you were busy homeschooling, I don’t think you would be able to say the same.

     Once we’ve given our youngest what they need, they will be content to let us work with our older children.  See my tab on “Routine”, and my article, “Keeping Little Ones Busy.”

10).  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and don’t neglect to seek him early…giving him the first fruits of your day and teach your children to do the same. I know that you are tired and that there aren’t enough hours in your day, but we serve a God who can make the sun stand still.

     Examine yourself:  Do you “make the main thing (JESUS!) the main thing”  in your personal life/homeschool/family life?  Do you spend time in the Word everyday?   Does your life reflect your most important goals?  Do you live out your faith?  Does your life rotate around GOD, or your family/homeschool?  (OUCH.)   I know I have a long way to go regarding these matters…I’ve been very convicted lately about truly living out my most important goals.  

     For more about “the main thing”, see my post, “Challenge To Christian Parents.” 

     Live the 4R’s!   ~~Susan

     Info about this post:  Simplifying,”   according to my information, this was orginally posted on the RC4JC Yahoo group and is used with permission:  “Anyone can use Colette’s list of 10 things; she’d like it if they credit the e-group or her by name, but it’s otherwise free for use without any conditions.”  (If this information is incorrect, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.  I did my best to find the orginal source.)

Colette is one of the moderators of the Robinson Curriculum email group:
Robinson Users for Christ

Simplify the Curriculum © Colette Longo, used with permission.  Other portions of this post: © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Curriculum, Elementary School, Encouragement, Goals, Holiness, Homeschool, Homeschooling, Methods, Readiness, Reading Aloud, Relationships, The 4 R's, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Character Catechism: Obedience, Honor, and Self-Control

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on April 28, 2010


         Many Christian parents believe it is important to use some sort of catechism to systematically teach their children about God.  But I wonder…how many of them have ever considered the importance of learning a “character catechism?”  I’ve been thinking about it for some time now.  During our Bible time, we practice our catechism and our memory verses (we use Bob Jones curriculum’s catechism.)  I’ve started to write a “character catechism” to go with it.  Some of it I’ve gleaned from the wisdom of others, and some of it I’ve put together myself.    Here is an example I gleaned from the book, Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes…In You and Your Kids,  by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller:

1.  Obedience

Q.  What is Obedience?

A. Obedience means doing what you are told, right away, with a good attitude, without being reminded.

Q.  How do we obey? 

A.  Everyday, all the way, in a quick and cheerful way.  (Tip from the book: Instead of allowing children to argue, tell them to “obey first” and then you’ll discuss it.  Usually once they’ve obeyed, they won’t need to talk about it anymore.)

 2.  Honor: 

Q.  The Bible says to “honor your father and mother.”  What is honor?

A.  Honor means:

  ~ Treating others as special

  ~ Doing more than what is expected

  ~ Having a good attitude.

  You can show others honor when:

  ~ You’re told to do something.

  ~ You’re told, “No”

  ~When someone dishonors you.

 Bible Verses About Obedience & Honor:

  Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.  “Honor your Father and Mother,” (which is the first commandment with a promise): “that it may be well with you, and that you may receive long life on earth.”  Ephesians 6:1-3 (NKJ)

 Children, obey your parents in all things for this is well pleasing to the Lord.  Colossians 3:20 (NKJ)

         I put these definitions in with our memory verse cards and we use them in the traditional “catechism” style; I ask the question, the children answer (we answer together till they learn it.) 

         It’s easy to make up your own character catechism for other character traits you are emphasizing/studying.  First you need to decide on a trait that’s important to you, and then find a good definition.  You can look for definitions in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary or on websites such as Heart of Wisdom.  The best online sources I’ve found is the Character Journal and Lifestyle Homeschool.  Once you find a definition you like, re-word it so that it is simple enough for your children to understand.  This completes the “what” part of the question—i.e. “What is self-control?” Answer: “Self-control means…” Next, brain-storm the “how”:  How do we show self-control? Be specific, and use examples that your children will relate to.  Finally, do a topical/keyword search on Bible Gateway   to look up Bible verses on self-control.  Here is my “catechism” for self-control:

 Q.  What is self-control?

A.   Self-control means controlling my thoughts, attitudes and actions.  Self-control means doing what is right even when I don’t want to.  For older children/adults: Self-control means that “I consider a later benefit more important than my present impulse” (this definition is so convicting!  I found it in another book by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, Good and Angry.  It’s is my current read and I’m loving it.)

Q.  How can I show self-control?

A.  I show self-control when I do what I’m supposed to do quickly and cheerfully even when I don’t want to.  I use self-control when I do not let others “make” me get angry (anger is a choice.)  I have opportunities to use self-control when:

~I don’t get my way.

~I have to wait for what I want/I can’t have what I want.

~When someone is annoying me.

~When I’m told to do something I don’t want to do.

~When I want to say something mean or sassy.

~When I’m tired, hungry, grumpy, or not feeling well.

 Bible verses about self-control:  Galatians 5:23  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience (longsuffering), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such things there is no law.

1 Thessalonians 5:6b …Let us be alert and self-controlled.  (NIV)

 For older kids, memorize 1 Peter 5:8: Be self-controlled and alert.  You enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.   ~and~

 Proverbs 25:28 Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.  (NIV) (Explain to your kids that in Bible times, cities had walls around them to keep our wild animals and enemies.  If we don’t have self-control, we are like a city with no walls; bad things can come to us.)

          If you can, think of a hymn or Sunday school song (that your children can understand) that applies to what you are learning.   Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam applies to obedience, honor, and self-control.  For self-control, also sing  Oh, Be Careful Little Eyes What You See (other verses:  Oh, be careful little hands what you do; oh, be careful little feet where you go; ears what you hear; lips what you say; mind what you think.)

          Other resources you might want to explore to help you develop your own character catechism: 

Character First! Curriculum (ages 6-7+)

A Child’s Book About…(Being Lazy, Being Mean, Disobeying, Interrupting, Throwing Tantrums, etc-many other titles), a “Help Me Be Good Book”, by Joy Berry.  (Not from a Christian perspective, but very good. I don’t understand why they got such mixed reviews.  I have found them to be very helpful.)

Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank-You Book, by Richard Scarry, which contains the story of Pig Will and Pig Won’t, a little pig who learns to be cheerful, cooperative, and helpful around the house. (Obedience/self-control.) 

 What Do You Do, Dear/What Do You Say, Dear? , by  Sesyle Joslin and Maurice Sendak  (Manners=self-control!)

What Would Jesus Do? Charles M. Sheldon’s Classic In His Steps now retold for children, by Mack Thomas (5+)

My Favorite Resources for Adult Reference:

Building Christian Character:  Developing Christ-Like Qualities in our Personal Lives,  by John Regier (used to be available from Biblical Concepts in Counseling; appears to be out of print.) 

Creative Correction:  Extraordinary Ideas for Everyday Discipline,  Lisa Whelchel

 Don’t Make me Count to Three, by Ginger Plowman

 Laying Down the Rails: A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook, by Sonja Shafer

This post contains excerpts from the book,Homepreschool and Beyond”; used with permission.  © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Character Traits, Curriculum, Discipline, Family Rules, Holiness, Parenting, Spiritual Matters, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Teaching Children to be Gracious

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on March 13, 2010


Teaching Through Parenting       

          The hardest thing about teaching children any character trait is modeling it for them.  And if we want our children to learn graciousness, we have to make sure they see graciousness in action~~through us.  This is the hardest part of parenting…changing ourselves.  Anne Ortland says, “Successful  parenting means: One, becoming what you should be,  and two, staying close enough to the children that it will rub off.”  She challenges us further by asking, “What will you become, in order that your offspring may turn out to be great human beings for God?”  (Disciplines of the  Home.) 

           Mrs. Ortland’s quotes neatly summarize what the Bible says about discipling our children. Proverbs 23:26 says, “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” Luke 6:40 says, “The disciple (we could insert “student,” or “child” here) is not above his master (parents); but every one that is perfect shall be as his master (parents).”

           When our young children are misbehaving, we should always look to ourselves first—because young children reflect all we say and do with their behaviors.  Before we can help our children change, we must change ourselves.  “Do as I say, not as I do” just doesn’t cut it.  Good parenting is just as much about controlling ourselves as it is controlling our children—remembering that as much is “caught” as is “taught.” 

           Yes, parents are teaching their children all the time– whether they intend to or not. We consciously teach them about the world, but we also unconsciously teach them with our behavior and our attitudes.  We need to be sure that the lessons we are teaching are the lessons we want our children to learn.  (In my book, I call this “teaching through parenting.”)

Teaching Graciousness~Systematically         

           A large part of graciousness boils down to good manners—and manners can be systematically taught. A good book to start with is The Family Book of Manners, by Hermine Hartley.  This book could be used with preschoolers and/or older children (tackle one behavior/manner a week.)

          We say a little something we call a “character catechism” along with our memory verses most mornings that I adapted from Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes… in You and Your Kids by Scott Turansky, & Joanne Miller):

~”How do we obey?  Everyday, all the way, in a quick and cheerful way.” 

~God wants us to honor others.  What does honor mean? 
1. Treating others special.
2.  Doing more than what is expected (going the extra mile.)
3.  Having a good attitude.
~I have a chance to show honor to people when:
1.  I am told to do something.
2.  I am told, “No.”
3.  When someone dishonors me.

Golden Rule Poem:
“Be you to others kind and true, as you’d have others be to you; and neither do nor say to men, whatever you would not take again.”   ~Author unknown

           I just picked up a real treasure for my boys:  A 1940 version of the Boy Scout’s Handbook.  We are going to begin reciting the “Boy Scout Pledge” (with a few of my own tweaks):
“On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Golden Rule…to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong and morally straight, and to do a good turn daily.  A Christian should be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.  Be prepared.” 

 Things to do:
~Set a good example for your children.
~Memorize Bible verses with your children, and practice them every morning during your devotions.
~Develop your own “character catechism” to practice during devotions (I’m working on a more complete version.)
~Practice being good:  Role-play manners with your children.  Act out possible scenarios, and practice proper responses. 
~Label your children’s character traits throughout the day:  “That was very kind of you.”   “Thank-you for sharing with your sister.  That was very unselfish of you, and it shows real love.”   “What a good helper you are!   You’ve done your good deed for the day.”   OR:  “You need to keep your hands to yourself.  Hitting is not kind.”  “Your tone of voice is not honoring me.  Can you say that again in a pleasant tone of voice?” 
~Read books to your children that will teach them character traits.  Look for examples of the character traits exemplified in books and real life, and point them out to your children.

 Suggested Books: 

           An especially good series, although not written from a Christian viewpoint, is A Child’s Book About… (Being Lazy, Being Mean, Disobeying, Interrupting, Throwing Tantrums, etc-many other titles), a “Help Me Be Good Book”, by Joy Berry (preschool age and up.)  Another favorite for our family is Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank-You Book, by Richard Scarry, which contains the story of Pig Will and Pig Won’t, a little pig who learns to be cheerful, cooperative, and helpful around the house. Other books to read:

 If Everybody Did, by Jo Ann Stover

 What Do You Do, Dear/What Do You Say, Dear? , by Sesyle Joslin and Maurice Sendak

 What Would Jesus Do? Charles M. Sheldon’s Classic In His Steps now retold for children, by Mack Thomas  

 Books for Parents: 

Creative Correction:  Extraordinary Ideas for Everyday Discipline, Lisa Welchel   

Don’t Make Me Count To Three, Ginger Plowman (my favorite; shows how to use Bible verses to teach character and reach the heart.)

 Etiquette Plus: Polishing Life’s Useful Skills, by Inge P. Cannon (use with children 6 and up.)

 For Instruction in Righteousness, A Topical Reference Guide for Biblical Child Training, by Pam Forster

 Hands-On Character Building, Rick and Marilyn Boyer

Laying Down the Rails: A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook, by Sonja Shafer

 Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes…In You and Your Kids!  and Good and Angry, by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller

This post contains excerpts from the book,Homepreschool and Beyond”; used with permission. © 2010 Susan Lemons,  all rights reserved.

Posted in Book Lists, Character Traits, Curriculum, Encouragement, Goals, Holiness, Homepreschool, Mothering, Parenting, Spiritual Matters | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Character Trait: Graciousness

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on March 12, 2010


       Recent events in my life have left me pondering the character trait graciousness.  At first I was thinking of it only as it refers to kindness, hospitality, and good manners.  But as I researched it, I realized that graciousness is perhaps the most important character trait of all.

        Graciousness encompasses all other character traits.  Here is the definition of “gracious”, from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:

1. Favorable; kind; friendly; as, “the envoy meet with a gracious reception.”

2.  Favorable; kind; benevolent; merciful; disposed to forgive offenses and impart unmerited blessings.

3.  Favorable; expressing kindness and favor.  

4.  Proceeding from divine grace; as a person in a gracious state.

           Here is a more modern definition, taken from  Noah Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language:

1. Abounding in grace or mercy; manifesting love, or bestowing mercy; characterized by grace; beneficent; merciful; disposed to show kindness or favor; condescending; as, his most gracious majesty.

2. Abounding in beauty, loveliness, or amiability; graceful; excellent.

3. Produced by divine grace; influenced or controlled by the divine influence; as, gracious affections. 

        Synonyms:  Virtuous.  Good.  Self-sacrificing.  Kind.  Friendly; with kind condescension (in other words, being kind even to those you think are “beneath” you and/or those who are younger or less knowledgeable than you.)  Dignity.  Charm.  Class. 

        Antonyms: Immoral. Bad.  Selfish.  Rude.  Harsh.  Unkind. Unbecoming.  Unmerciful. Unfriendly. Annoying. 

       We often associate graciousness with the old south and kind hospitality–or with older, Godly women who set good examples for us…

 Titus 2: 3-5 (Amplified Bible):  Bid the older women similarly to be reverent and devout in their deportment as becomes those engaged in sacred service, not slanderers…They are to give good counsel and be teachers of what is right and noble, so that they will wisely train the young women to be sane and sober of mind (temperate, disciplined) and to love their husbands and their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured (kindhearted), adapting and subordinating themselves to their husbands, that the word of God may not be exposed to reproach (blasphemed or discredited).

        …But we should associate the word “gracious” with God.  The root of the word gracious is grace.  Praise God for his Grace, which is a part of the very nature of God.  Without the undeserved grace God has given us, we would all be lost in our sins for eternity. 

       The very first time the scriptures describe the nature of God, the word “gracious” is used:  

Exodus 34:6-7:  The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin….  (NIV)

        This theme–in fact, these same words (“compassionate and gracious God”), are used over and over in the scriptures.   

          God is gracious, and we are to imitate Him.  I think we could take it a step further and say that graciousness is part of holiness—and we are called to grow in holiness: 

 1 Peter 1:16  For it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

 3 John 1:11   Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.

        The word “gracious” is epitomized in the Golden Rule and in the phrase, “What would Jesus do?”  It’s all about treating others with kindness, consideration, and class.  It’s about having good manners.  It’s about love.

 John 13:34 (NIV) A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

         In the workplace, graciousness is the epitome of professionalism. In the home, graciousness is shown in sacrificial love. On the freeway, a gracious woman defers her rights for the sake of others.

        Traditionally, graciousness has been a sign of a good upbringing.  Conversely, a lack of graciousness will effect your reputation in a negative way.

 How to be a Gracious Person

-Always help others feel comfortable—even if you are uncomfortable.

-Be friendly, even if you feel shy.  Give a firm handshake, and look people in the eye when you are talking to them (when listening to them, too!) 

-Use good manners. 

-Be a servant to others.

-Gracious people take criticism graciously, even when the criticism is unjust.  It’s normal to feel an immediate need to defend ourselves, especially if our reputation is at stake…but it is best to keep quiet and not let the heat of the moment overcome us. 

-Don’t speak when you are angry.  Avoid arguments and disagreements. 

-Accept constructive criticism with poise.

 Remember that:

-A gracious person would never set about to hurt another person purposely, nor seek revenge for wrongs done (whether real or perceived.)

-A gracious person, when wronged, will seek a peaceable resolution privately.  A gracious person doesn’t gossip, grumble about others, or make private disagreements public.

-Graciousness, or a lack thereof, reveals your true heart and character. 

           Every day we are given chances to practice graciousness:  When we are driving and someone cuts us off or forces their way into our lane; when our children are being silly and loud, ignoring our commands to stop; when we are sick, cranky or tired; when someone is sick and needs extra care; when our husband calls at the last minute to say he’s bringing the boss home for dinner (or to say he’s not going to be home for dinner—and you’ve taken the time to fix him his favorite!) 

          It isn’t easy to be gracious.  It is a character trait that seems to have almost disappeared in the world today—even amongst Christians.  All too often, we demand our “rights”.  We want things to go our way. We are selfish.  We even long for revenge when others hurt us.  But I am more convinced than ever that I want to be a gracious person.  I want to be a reflection of God’s Grace on earth.  How about you?

 Matthew 16:24   Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

      Next time:  Teaching Graciousness to Children

 © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Character Traits, Encouragement, Goals, Holiness, Mothering, Relationships | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Challenge To Christian Parents

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on February 23, 2010


 
 
 

“We are losing our children. Research indicates that 70% of teens who are involved in a church youth group will stop attending church within two years of their high school graduation. Think about that statement. It addresses only teenagers who attend church and participate in the youth group. What does that suggest about those teens who may attend church but do not take part in the youth group, or who do not go to church at all?

In a talk at Southwestern Seminary Josh McDowell noted that less than 1/3 of today’s youth attend church. If he is right and 67% do not go to church and then we lose 70% of those who do, that means that within two years of finishing high school only 10% of young Americans will attend church.”

Quoted from We Are Losing Our Children
Remarks to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee in Nashville, TN

By: T.C. Pinckney
Brig. General USAF (ret)
Second Vice President – Southern Baptist Convention
thebaptistbanner@cox.net

 Read the full article: http://www.exodusmandate.org/art_we_are_loosing_our_children.htm

 

 
 
 

     Have you read The Last Christian Generation, or Already Gone? These are important books for every Christian to read. They both trace what is going on with the children of America, and why they are leaving the faith/church in droves. If you can choose only one, I’d choose The Last Christian Generation; it had more info about the solutions to the problem.

      These books will open your eyes to what is going on with our youth, but they will challenge you to examine yourself: Am I really teaching my children what they need to know about the Lord? Am I truly doing all I can to make sure I set a proper example for my children? Does the way I spend my time reflect my goals?

      I am guilty of this more than I’d like to admit: Not living my true goals; not making the main thing the main thing. So this is a personal challenge for you to be thinking about: 

   First of all, let’s consider our motives. What is the ultimate goal of homeschooling? What is the ultimate goal of parenting? Does your homeschool/parenting live up to that goal? Do you homeschool so that your children can get a good education/good job/go to a good college, or do you homeschool/parent with spiritual goals in mind?

   Does you faith affect your parenting and your homeschooling?

 

 

www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=457896

    I know from experience that there are no guarantees in life. Even Godly parents can have rebellious children; we are all born with that nasty sin nature. But if we try to live out our goals, we can also live on God’s promises (Prov. 22:6, John 10:28, Isa 54:13) if our children fall into sin or temporarily turn away from the truth. But those families who do not teach their childen about the Lord have no hope, and no promises to cling to.http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3786

  I think it is so sad that the Lord gives us so much, and yet so many of us (even me), take it for granted, forgetting to make our relationship with God the most important part of our lives.

  Do you put your faith in action, living what you believe? DO YOU live out your faith in front of your children? How much time do you spend in your homeschool studying the Word, praying, memorizing scripture, in ministry or in worship compared to other  “school” subjects? Are you making the main thing the main thing?

   Where does your heart REALLY lie?

   The definition of insanity is doing the same thing but expecting a different result. So I am re-committing myself to being sure that the Word of God is primary in our home, and in our homeschool. I want to prepare my children to stand up to the world and to discern the snares of the enemy. I want them to know what other religions believe, and know why our beliefs are different. I want them to walk in truth (3 John 1:4). 

   I want them to have a personal, transforming relationship with God—one that produces Godly character. 

   I want my children to grow up to be Christians.

   If you will re-commit with me, send me a reply and let me know. Let’s be accountable to each other. I will send out additional challenges from time to time.

   Blessings,

        Susan

 

Other related articles (note: I can only endorse the page I’ve linked to; I cannot vouch for the entire content of these sites.)

 

http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.4226769/k.A211/Is_This_the_Last_Christian_Generation.htm 

 

 

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

 
 

 

 

Posted in Challenge to Parents, Elementary School, Encouragement, Holiness, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Spiritual Matters, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »