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He has told you, O Man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God... (Micah 6:8)

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19 August

Curriculum Thoughts

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How in the world do you go about choosing and evaluating a curriculum? I never really considered myself an expert on this area, but as time has passed and I find my opinion asked frequently about these things, I thought it merited an entry here.
There are several different methods of approaching homeschooling and if you want a more exhaustive treatment, please check the local library for a book as I'm sure you're not here for that!

We are using what I call a "salad bar" approach - a little of this and that to make up a final product that suits our family, educational goals, personality and budget. Loosely falling Jessie Wise Bauer's "Well Trained Mind" approach, the following is a list of curriculum we use.

 
Grammar: Rod & Staff (http://www.rodandstaffbooks.com)
 
Reading: Victory Drill & other misc. like A Beka readers... (http://www.victorydrillbook.com)

Spelling: Spelling Power (http://www.spellingpower.com)

Pemanship/Handwriting: A reason for Handwriting (http://www.areasonfor.com) and for Alethia (5th grade+) the Horizons Handwriting (same link as math)
 
History: Story of the World (http://www.welltrainedmind.com/store)
 
Science: God's Design for Science (http://www.answersingenesis.org)
 
I usually purchase from rainbow resource (http://www.rainbowresource.com) as I can get my books for slightly cheaper and sometimes even free shipping. They also have a great deal of supplementary items as well as excellent reviews which can be very helpful when wading through the great volume of resources and curriculums out there. 

Some of the key issues for our family has been the looking at curriculums that answer the following questions:

1. Can I understand, logically follow and translate the material to my children? (that is, can I teach this?)
2. Is it accompllishing our goals? (Does it reinforce the educational philosophy I've adopted and our family values or is it at odds with this)
3. Is it do-able in a reasonable time frame? (i.e. will it exasperate the kids OR me, can it be done with multiple age levels, etc.)
4. What is the objective of the lessons? (many have a lot of "seat work" which helps in the classroom environment, but frustrates at home)
5. Is the curriculum affordable? (not just in my current budget, but can I re-use it with other children, does it have resale value, can I use it multiple years or with multiple ages, etc.)

Well, these are some initial thoughts and I'm sure more will come to me in the future so as time progresses I'll let you know any changes or additional thoughts.

 
19 August

Challenging Youth to Serve

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Being involved with church since my earliest memories, it has always been difficult to separate volunteering and serving at my local church. What I mean by that, is I have a core belief that God has paid a price for my soul which can never be repaid and as an act of love I give of my time, resources and talents to the local community of believers. However, the separation comes in volunteering for the church and volunteering for community or other deserving causes. Do I think our communities need volunteers to serve by giving of their time, energy and resources? Yes - But. But, not without giving back to Christ. I am grateful and thankful for those who have gone before and paid the price for freedom and allowed me the privilege of voting and so forth, but my first loyalty is to the Lord who holds my eternity in the palm of His hand. Now this can look different for other people, I realize that. If we have been bought by Christ's blood, than we are His and He gifts us, directs us, and empowers us to be a light where we are. This often occurs in our community involvements, else we would become an isolated "members only" club. Coaching a youth soccer team reaches out to kids and parents who may not have seen the light of Christ and may very well be desparately searching for hope.  In fact the Bible says (Matthew 5:14-16) all those who call themselves Christians they should shine their light so others will be drawn to is and ultimately glorify God. However, no matter how wonderful our community involvement is, we should never neglect our involvement in the local church.