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Index of Articles for Homeschoolers, Parents & Educators

The Big Question: Can You Do It? Keys to Determining if Homeschooling is Right for You (Calvert School)

Delayed Academics...A Few Thoughts on Readiness (

Explore Before Investing in a Homeschool Program (Calvert School)

Finding the Roots of Modern Homeschooling (Calvert School)

Homeschool Burnout (

Homeschool The Charlotte Mason Way by Jody Courtney

Homeschooling on A Shoestring (Notes by UmWalid & others)

Homeschooling Requires Careful Planning (Calvert School)

Positive and Negative C's of Islamic Parenting

The Start of Your Day: The Lesson Plan (Calvert School)

Surviving Homework, Tips That Really Work! by Amy Nathan

Western Education vs. Muslim Children

Note: I've found these articles thought provoking but as I read, I change certain aspects of the writer's perspective in order to cater to the needs of me and my family. Articles do represent an array of homeschooling and religious perspectives but I recommend that you take what is beneficial for you and ignore what is not. May Allah guide us all.


There is quite a bit of discussion among homeschoolers over
early learning versus delayed academics. Proponents of
the "Early Learning Approach" cite research suggesting
that the early years (before about age 8) are the years in
which children most easily soak up information, find
memorization effortless, and can be best molded into
certain habit patterns that are the foundations of later
character development. This is also the age at which
perceptions about life and self are formed. They point out
that the amazing potential of early childhood is never fully
tapped. St. Francis of Assisi is supposed to have said,
"Give me a child until he is eight and he is mine forever,"
meaning that the earliest influences are the most lasting.

Proponents of the "Delayed Academics Approach," however, also
site research showing that early formal academic study can be
physically, mentally, and emotionally harmful to children.
How does the wise parent find common ground between these two

As we have read, talked to other homeschoolers, and taught our
own three sons through high school, we've come to the conclusion
that readiness is a crucial factor in a child's ability to learn
and in his or her attitude toward learning. The two subject areas
in which readiness is most violated seem to be language arts and
math. Because we homeschooling parents are subject to peer pressure
and because most states require testing, we tend to push our
children in reading, writing, and math. The result is frustrated
children and frustrated parents. We hope to encourage you to
slooooow down and be sensitive to each child's readiness to learn.
By readiness we mean that the child is mentally and emotionally
capable of assimilating the information presented; he/she has enough
"life experiences" for the information to be meaningful; and he/she
has minimal frustration in acquiring the skill or performing the
required tasks.

The best kind of learning has four ingredients: (1) maturity (the
physical, mental, and emotional ability to process the information
or perform the assigned task); (2) experience (enough general knowledge
about the subject to provide a base on which further knowledge can be
added); (3) a desire to learn (a receptivity to the information); and
(4) a system (an effective way of presenting the information).

As an example, let's look at these four ingredients in teaching the
skill of reading. The maturity necessary for reading involves being able
to hear language distinctly and distinguish between letter sounds. It
also requires the visual acuity to focus on a printed page without
eyestrain or visual confusion. The experience necessary to reading involves
understanding that letters stand for sounds and that printed groups of
letters "say" something. The child usually reaches this understanding
because from babyhood he has seen others read, has been read to, and also
exposed to printed materials in many forms. Children routinely make these
connections by themselves around age 4 and begin asking, "What does that
say?" Next comes the desire to learn. Most children begin wanting to know
how to read sometime between the time they make the connection that printed
material "says" something and age 8. Once they really want to read they can
learn at an astonishing rate. Some even teach themselves to read. The final
component of meaningful learning is a system. In reading, this is nothing
more than a good phonics program.

Children mature at different rates, and girls tend to mature earlier than
boys. In the early years schooling concentrates on reading, writing, and
linguistic activities that favor the fine motor skills and verbal abilities
of girls. This leaves boys at a distinct disadvantage and the resulting
frustration may cause them to either dislike school or develop low self
esteem. Some of the skills required for completing conventional schooling
tasks and the ages at which they are usually developed are listed below.
The perceptive parent can work with each child's readiness instead of
against it.

1. The ability to hear language distinctly (ages 8 - 11)

2. The visual acuity to perform close work (ages 10 - 11)

3. The establishment of dominance of one brain hemisphere (ages 9 - 12)

4. The ability to reason from cause to effect (ages 7 - 11)

5. The development of fine motor skills necessary for writing
(boys: ages 8 - 10, girls: ages 5 - 7)

6. The accumulation of enough life experiences for academic facts
to be understandable (after age 7)

7. The ability to employ rational, logical, and abstract modes of
thinking (ages 11 - 16)

We have discovered that one of the main reasons homeschooled
children seem resistant to our educational efforts is that we give
them too much too soon. [For a full explanation of the "Resistance
Factor" in homeschooling, see The Elijah Company website at and order a copy of the tape seminar,
"When Mothers Teach Resistant Children."]

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Look for our newest website: www.homeschoolcounsel available in about
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The Davis Family and The Elijah Company


by Ellyn Davis (from
(This article is addressed to Moms, but Dads can read it too!)

This time of year seems to be the hardest time of all for home
schoolers. Winter weather has kept us inside, but now that spring is
coming we've got too much to do to enjoy the pretty weather. The
drudgery of routine has set in; work has piled up; and we've had a
chance to fail miserably at reaching goals that seemed so easy to
achieve when we started schooling in the fall. Add to that level of
stress a series of small crises, and you have a recipe for homeschool

Gail Felker, in Homeschooling Today magazine, says homeschool burnout
is a condition in which "the teaching parent is anxious, depressed,
discouraged, overwhelmed, and ready to quit. Burnout is not uncommon.
Special-needs schools, churches, and nursing homes, for example, have
a large employee turnover due to burnout. Demanding, people-oriented
professions are most at risk. For the home-schooler, it often results
in sending the children back to public school."

Burnout and the 80/20 Principle

One of the most cherished tenets of business is the "80/20 Principle."
This scientifically proven principle says there is always an imbalance
between causes and results, inputs and outputs, and effort and reward,
and that imbalance generally assumes the proportions of 20% to 80%. In
other words, 80 percent of the results you want to see will come from
20 percent of your effort. In business, this means that 80% of your
sales will come from 20% of your products; 80% of the important work
will be done by 20% of your employees; 80% of the actual benefits of a
project will be developed in only 20% of the time spent on the project
and so on. So the key to good business management is to find the 20%
that is most productive and enhance it, and to find the 80% that is
not productive and figure out ways to either eliminate it or make it
part of the 20%.

The 80/20 Principle applies to other areas of life as well. For
example, good students innately know that 80% of an exam usually
covers only 20% of the topics from the course, and they have
discovered how to find out which 20% of the material to study to make
an 80 or higher on the exam. The 80/20 Principle even works relational
y. 80% of the value of your relationships usually comes from only 20%
of the people you know.

OK, so what does this have to do with "Homeschool Burnout?" First, we
need to understand that a major cause of burnout is the feeling of
being overwhelmed and under-supported. Here are some common ways this
feeling is verbalized:

This isn't fun anymore (in fact, it's a real drag).
I feel like things are spinning out of control.
There's not enough me to go around.
My life is fragmented (pulled in too many directions, torn into too
many pieces).
I feel like I'm trying to keep too many balls up in the air (or spin
too many plates).
I'm drowning.
There's too much to do and not enough time to do it.
There's too much to do and I'm expected to do it all myself.
I don't feel anything but anger (frustration, irritation) or sadness
(grief, depression, sorrow).
I resent having to be responsible for everything.
I am the one who has to pick up everything that "falls through the
I am constantly disappointed.


Here are some common ways this feeling expresses itself physically:
(1) a tightness in the throat, chest or between the shoulder blades,
(2) pain in the lower back, (3) headaches or dizziness, (4) chronic
fatigue, (5) numbness of certain parts of the body, (6) anxiety and
tenseness, (7) difficulty swallowing, (8) nausea, (9) upset stomach
or irritable bowel, (10) ringing in the ears.

Any and all of the above verbalizations and physical symptoms are a
good indication that we are bogged down in the 80% of our lives that
is non-productive and that undermine our sense of well-being. The good
news about the 80/20 Principle is that there are a very few, key
activities that will dramatically improve our happiness and sense of

What do I mean by "key activities?" Well, do you know the simple, key
activities that distinguish thin people from people who struggle with
their weight? If you ever went to a "Weigh Down" workshop, you know
that thin people don't munch, they eat only when they are hungry, they
stop eating when they are full, and they eat smaller portions of food.
In contrast, people who struggle with their weight tend to be
"grazers" who eat large portions of food and don't stop eating even
when they feel stuffed. This means that becoming thin doesn't
necessarily require a massive amount of will power counting calories,
weighing portions, and developing meal plans. The average person can
lose weight by sticking to the key activities of eating less and
becoming aware of when they are hungry and when they are full.

What are the simple, key activities that distinguish financially
stable people from people with chronic financial troubles? Financially
stable people resist going into debt, they save, and they don't fill
their lives with expensive doodads. So what does this mean? This means
that becoming financially stable doesn't necessarily require keeping
track of every expenditure to the penny, becoming a Scrooge, and
denying yourself your dreams. The average person can become
financially stable by following a few, key principles of money

Now, back to the 80/20 Principle. The book, 80/20 Principle says,

There are always a few key inputs to what happens and they are often
not the obvious ones. If the key causes can be identified and isolated
we can very often exert more influence on them than we think possible.

What this means is that there are a few key things that cause us to
feel overwhelmed and under-supported, that contribute to that feeling
of always being on edge and the tenseness in our bodies, and that make
us want to throw up our hands and quit.

Simple measures

OK, what are some simple measures we can take? First of all, we can
identify our "energy vampires." These are the people, activities, and
beliefs that literally "suck" the energy and enthusiasm out of us.

People as Energy Vampires. Not only can groups be draining, but
certain individuals can cost us a lot of energy. In our former church,
there was a woman who was like a huge emotional vacuum. Her neediness
and negativity would suck all of the optimism and energy out of me. I
had to learn to let someone else try to help her.

When I first started homeschooling three boys, I tried to keep up with women's Bible studies, homeschooling field trips and other get-togethers, but it didn't take long to realize these social outings didn't provide me with enthusiasm, they only wore me down.

I also had to learn to say no. It's amazing that people will assume
since you're home all day, you're available. They wouldn't dream of
calling a career woman at her office and asking her to take the
afternoon off to listen to their problems, but they will call you and
assume you're free to help them. I learned to think of myself as a
"career woman," only my career was managing a home and educating my
children. I didn't just work a 40 hour week, I was on the job 24/7,
so didn't have to apologize or lie when I said, "I'm committed this

Before you know it, you can spend 80% of your time on social
activities that have a pay-back of less than 20% in terms of what is
really important to you. There are two key solutions to the "People as
Energy Vampires" problem. (1) Pare down your involvement to only those
20% of social activities that have real meaning to you, and (2) Get an
answer-phone and let it take all calls for certain hours each day. If
your household is like mine, just leaving an answer-phone on most of
the day saves me about 45 minutes in answering telemarketing calls.

Activities as Energy Vampires. One of the best pieces of stress-
reducing advice I ever got was from a time management book. It said to
mentally visualize myself going through a typical day. This meant
visualizing getting out of bed, getting dressed, fixing breakfast,
brushing my teeth, and so on...every little activity I typically did
in a day. As I screened through my day, the book said to notice any
time I felt irritation, tension, or resistance, and jot down that

What an eye-opener! The first thing I realized is that it irritates me
to be interrupted while I am in the bathroom. Sounds pretty stupid,
right? But what this meant was that I was starting every day irritated
because there was hardly ever a time I wouldn't be interrupted while I
was in the bathroom. Stupid problem. Simple solution to eliminating
that source of irritation: Always close the door when I go into the
bathroom and tell everyone that when the bathroom door is closed I am
not to be disturbed.

By the time I finished visually screening a typical day, I realized
that there were dozens of annoyances like the bathroom scenario. None
of them was significant enough by itself to ruin my day, but a day
filled with 40 or 50 unconsciously irritating moments might have
something to do with my being frazzled by suppertime.

Certain routine activities are always accompanied by some amount of
emotional or physical pressure. What are your stressful activities?
The laundry? Cooking? Shopping? I've never particularly liked to cook.
Plus, taking a car-load of small boys to the grocery store has got to
be on my list of "Top 10 Ways to Torture a Tired Mother." So I had to
experiment with getting the grocery shopping done without wearing me
out (or freaking me out when I saw the receipt), and with developing
some simple menu plans that didn't exhaust me after a long day. Plus,
I had to be realistic about my limitations. As much as I might want to
provide my family with three, lovingly created, nutritious, home-
cooked meals a day, it would be psychotic of me to think I could pull
it off and still do everything else I needed to get done. So in my
household, we have meals where everyone is on their own to fix
something for themselves, meals that another family member prepares,
and meals that I prepare, depending on everyone's schedule and what
will give us the most family time around the table.

Another thing that can be done is to go through each room of the house
and note anything that is irritating. Rooms have a powerful effect on
our sense of well-being. They can make us feel like prisoners in our
own homes or make us feel gracious and relaxed. Are there certain
colors that make you feel tense? That make you feel relaxed? Could
the room be re-arranged so that the pattern of traffic flow is better?
Could simple changes be made that contribute to a sense of peace and

Do the tools you have enhance your productivity? For example,
I started out writing our catalogs on an old IBM electric typewriter
($25, second-hand), made photocopied reductions of the book covers,
and had to cut and paste everything together. It was a massive, time-
consuming, mess-producing job. So, guess how I began to feel about the
catalog? I dreaded the thought of starting each new one, and the whole
time I worked on one I was a witch. It was like trying to build a
modern house with stone tools. Then one day I heard Mary Pride say she
always tried to invest in things that increased her productivity. I
began to look around at all of the equipment I relied on. Everything
from my vacuum cleaner to my typewriter was out-dated and difficult to
use. So I began systematically replacing my "tools," starting with the
equipment I used most and that caused me the most aggravation. I also
began investing in skills that made me more productive. I learned how
to use word processing programs and scanners and Adobe Photoshop. I
read every household and time management book I could get my hands on.
I tried to increase my knowledge and skill in every area that drained

Another stressful area for home schooling parents is the "schooling"
itself. In our desire to make sure we don't leave any educational
gaps, we tend to overdo. We need to evaluate our homeschools by the
80/20 Principle. What are the key areas we need to be concentrating
on? How can we eliminate the unnecessary and ineffectual? What simple
changes can we make to decrease stress and enhance enthusiasm?

Lifestyle as an Energy Vampire. A recent article in U.S. News and
World Report focused on sleep-deprivation in America. Because of our
fast-paced lifestyles, very few Americans ever know the clarity of
thought and level of energy that comes with being fully rested. Not
only do adults suffer from lack of sleep, but now children are at risk
for sleep deprivation, because their lives have become as demanding as
their parents'.

Although this seems elementary, the amount of rest you get and the
kind of food you eat can have a dramatic effect on your ability to
cope with life's demands.

Some questions you might ask yourself are: What makes me happy? What
energizes me? What makes me feel productive? What comforts and renews
me when I feel worn out and used up? What am I passionate about?

You can make major lifestyle changes that refresh you, or you can make
minor changes by building "happiness islands" into your day. For
example, I am a person who needs solitude in order to recharge and
reconnect with what is important to me. Yet for years I lived in a
four room house with three active boys and five or six employees
coming in and out of an upstairs office all day. It was a radical
invasion of my privacy, and some days I thought I would lose my mind.
I had to force myself to find reflective time, to create "happiness
islands" for myself. Sometimes these "happiness islands" were as
simple as taking a walk by myself, or shutting myself in my bedroom
with a good book. Sometimes they had to be more extreme, like flying
to Dallas to participate in a horse-judging seminar, or taking the
boys to the beach for a few days by ourselves. In the process, I found
out which colors, smells, sights, and activities renew me.

Beliefs as Energy Vampires. Think about it. Here we are, absolute
amateurs, sitting around our kitchen tables, using our own children as
guinea pigs and clinging to a belief that we can somehow give them a
better education than an American institution that has multi-million
dollar facilities and a professional staff, and that spends an average
of $5,500 a year on each child. The only tools we have at our disposal
are our own willingness to give it a try and assorted teaching
materials modeled after those used in the public schools. So we are
surrounded with constant questions-questions from our relatives, our
friends, members of our church-that undermine our convictions. Even
worse, we have to battle questions from own minds like "Can I really
pull this off? Do I know what I'm doing? Am I doing too much or too
little? Am I using the right teaching material? Am I simply wasting
time? Am I going to warp my children and make them total misfits?"

No wonder we struggle with burnout!

Obviously, these questions can become "energy vampires" that erode our
sense of confidence about what we are trying to accomplish. We need to
surround ourselves with confidence builders that reinforce our
convictions, like books by John Gatto that let us know all is not as
good as it may seem in the public schools. Or books by Raymond Moore
that tell us that warm, loving, family life overcomes any deficiencies
there may be in our teaching materials and methods. Or books by Edith
Schaeffer that make us realize our homes have the power to mold lives
in eternal ways.

There are three major "energy vampire" beliefs I have noticed as I've
talked with home schooling families across the nation. You can
probably spot more self-defeating beliefs in your own life, but here
are three I have noticed:

Beliefs have a powerful impact on how we perceive life. Next time you
are frustrated, anxious, or depressed, ask yourself, "What would I
have to believe to feel this way?"

1. The belief in scarcity. This is the belief in "not enough"-not
enough time, energy, money, opportunities, resources, and so on. When
we hold a belief in scarcity, we limit ourselves. We tend to not step
outside of our own "boxes," because we feel we must hoard what little
we have and we feel that no matter how much we try, our efforts won't
be "enough." We are always afraid we are going to "run out" of time,
energy, money, opportunities, etc., etc. When we choose to believe in
scarcity, we not only limit ourselves, but we insult God-the God Who
is Enough, and Who, in fact, promises to give to us exceeding abundant
y, pressed down, and running over. We also lock ourselves into anxiety
over finances and time pressure, and into regret and grief over wasted
time, energy, and money. One of the reasons our family has tried to
keep Hudson Taylor's biography in print is that he was a man with a
firm conviction that God would always "be enough," and his response
to every extremity was, "Now we have an opportunity to see what God
can do!"

2. The belief in difficulty. The word "bummer" has become firmly
entrenched in the American vocabulary. It is reflective of a widely
held belief that life is a hassle, a battle, an uphill climb, a
constant proof of Murphy's Law ("everything that can go wrong will").
Yes, it is true, we live in a fallen world, but that doesn't mean we
have to approach everything with a "What's the use?" attitude.

One of the most important lessons I ever learned was about the power
of repetition. I used to never make up my bed, because I would hit the
floor running each morning and never slow down until I fell into bed
again at night. The unmade bed always bothered me, but it seemed like
an insurmountable task to tackle first thing in the morning. A friend
happened to mention that if you do something for six months, it
becomes a habit and it no longer requires any extra emotional or
physical energy. Silly as it may sound, I thought, "Maybe I can try
making up my bed for six months." Well, that was twenty five years
ago, and I don't even think about making up the bed anymore. I just do
it when I get up. Since that time, I have used the power of repetition
to eliminate the draining effect of certain tasks that I dislike. I've
found out that social scientists call this "unconscious competence."
All tasks, particularly tasks that require overcoming a certain amount
of inner resistance, have a "competency" curve where once you reach a
level of mastery, no further mental, emotional or physical effort is
required. We see this all the time when we teach a child to read. For
months it seems like we are getting nowhere, but all of a sudden our
child reads effortlessly.

Speaking of the word "bummer," did you know that you can change how
you feel about life by simply changing the words you use? If you find
your everyday conversation filled with words like "exhausted,"
"rushed," "overloaded," "stressed," "frustrated," "disappointed,"
and so on, you may want to make a conscious effort to change the words
you use. Find positive (or even humorous) words to replace your
"bummer" words. For example, you can say, "I am achieving warp speed"
instead of saying "I'm rushed" or "I'm at critical mass" instead of
"I'm overwhelmed." Not only will changing your words make you think
about the labels you put on your life, but it will make those around
you start listening to you again. Your family has probably tuned you
out because they've heard you say the same negative things over and

3. The belief in failure. Robert Kiyosaki says the most damaging
beliefs the public school system teaches are (1) that mistakes are bad
and (2) that there is only one right way to do something. These
beliefs create a fear of failure, a fear of making mistakes, that
thwart true learning. Kiyosaki further says that most true learning
comes from making mistakes, from falling down and trying again like
you do when you learn to walk or learn to ride a bicycle. So failure
always has something to teach us, and often teaches us more than
success does. Kiyosaki says there are no failures, only "outcomes"
and he calls mistakes "outcomes with attached emotions."

What if we really believed God works everything for our good and even
redeems our mistakes? That would dispel a lot of our fear and anxiety.

4. The belief that it will always be this way. One of my mother's
favorite phrases is "This too, will pass." It is her way of
acknowledging the inevitability of change. Sure, right now you are up
to your elbows in baby doody, your house is a wreck, and there is no
way you will have supper on the table in time. No wonder you feel
stressed and harbor thoughts of sending the kids to military school!
But believe me, there will be a day when you would give anything to
have a peanut-butter and jelly smudged four-year-old son crawl onto
your lap and ask you to read Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel for
the four hundredth time. These days with your children will pass you
by in an instant. All of my children are now well beyond the diapers
and peanut-butter stage and what I miss most are the snuggles, the
little hands reaching up to me, the plaintive cries for "just one
more story," the proud calls of "Mama, come quick and see what I did!"

How could I ever have thought it was a hardship to read Mike Mulligan?
I would gladly trade all of the clean houses in the world for more of
those stressful years when my children were small and every day held a
thousand new wonders for them to discover.

Beliefs have a powerful impact on how we perceive life. Next time you
are frustrated, anxious, or depressed, ask yourself, "What would I
have to believe to feel this way?" Recognizing the false beliefs you
allow yourself to hold about people and situations, and then
consciously trying to align those beliefs with God's truth, will
dramatically change the way you approach life. For example, if you
believe your children are "rug rats," you will relate to them totally
differently than if you believe they are "blessings from God."

In The Safest Place on Earth, Larry Crabb says:

We simply do not believe in a God who is so intrinsically good that
His commitment to be fully Himself is equivalent to a commitment to be
very good to us. When He tells us that He is out for His own glory,
and will glorify Himself by making known who He is, we can relax. It's
something like a wealthy, generous father declaring his intention to
display his true character. We know we're in for a bundle. That is, if
we're his heirs.

Spiritual Friendships,
Mentors and Christian Counselors

We are relational beings, and, ultimately, all of our problems are
relational. All of the practical areas discussed so far in this
article have to do with changing how we relate to created things
(like time and our living environment) and changing what we allow to
affect our relationship with ourselves (our thought patterns, our
energy level, etc.). But there are other relationships that contribute
to stress and conflict in our lives. Yes, we may have too much to do
and not enough time to do it, but this time/space problem only reaches
"burn-out" when there are underlying relational problems such as
tension between husband and wife, conflict between parents and
children, or estrangement between fellow Christians. Usually the
largest source of relational stress is in our marriages, because most
of us got married without ever being taught how to make a marriage

Those of us with relational problems don't need time-management
courses or housekeeping seminars, we need spiritual friendships,
mentors, and counselors who help us develop right relationships with
others and with God.

What about spiritual friendships? Unfortunately, many of us hesitate
to share our deepest struggles, because we suspect other Christians
will treat us like a problem that needs to be fixed. Larry Crabb says
in The Safest Place on Earth that all Christians yearn for...

...a community of friends who are hungry for God, who knows what it
means to sense the Spirit moving within them as they speak with you.
You long for brothers and sisters who are intent not on figuring out
how to improve your life, but on being with you wherever your journey

We would give nearly anything to be part of a community that was
profoundly safe, where people never gave up on one another, where
wisdom about how to live emerged from conversation, where what is
most alive in each of us is touched....where we would feel safe enough
to meaningfully explore who we are with confidence so that the end
point would be a joyful meeting with God.

Scripture tells us that God intends for the Body of Christ to be just
that: a safe place that nourishes the godly in us and brings us to a
"joyful meeting with God." It is worth searching for spiritual
companionship, even if we find only one or two others who befriend us

What about mentors? Within the Body of Christ, godly older women are
specifically intended to help other women be all that they can be as
wives, mothers, and home-makers. But, as I once remarked to a
Christian psychologist, "All of the older Christian women I know are
faking it just as badly as I am!"

Most of us have struggled to become Titus 2 women-keepers at home,
lovers of our children and husband, etc.-but very few of us have had
godly older women to show us the way. Instead, we have been nurtured
and discipled by women who are as unskilled as we are at fulfilling
the Titus 2 mandate. I have always thought of my generation as a
"sandwich generation." We are "sandwiched" between a generation that
never mentored us, and a generation that desperately needs for us to
mentor them.

How do we cope with this dilemma? First, we need to take a good, hard
look at who our primary influencers are. Are these women worthy role
models? Can they provide us with a pattern of beliefs and godly
living as well as with practical skills that we can duplicate in our
own lives? Is their influence causing us to be happier and more
productive, or do we relate to them because "misery loves company?"

Second, we can search for women worthy of modeling. Sometimes this
will mean we have to settle for second-hand modeling, by reading
books or listening to tapes by women who are well-respected and
generally acknowledged as worthy to instruct other women. For example,
most of my role models are women I never knew personally: women like
Corrie Ten Boom, Edith Schaeffer, and others whose lives will
withstand scrutiny.

In addition to the lack of godly, older women, there is a dearth of
mature Christian counselors. It is hard to find someone to talk to
whose advice isn't mixed with pop-psychology, or who doesn't try to
superimpose their agenda over your problems. What do I mean by
"agenda?" It's like the old saying: "When you have a new hammer,
everything looks like a nail." We've all had the experience of someone
trying to make our problems fit their doctrine. If they happen to be
into inner healing, then our problem becomes the "nail" to their inner
healing "hammer." If they happen to believe in demons, then our
problem becomes the "nail" to their deliverance "hammer." Don't be
ashamed to seek professional help, but when you do, check the person
out as carefully as you would any other mentor. And don't let anyone
ever treat you like a "nail."

Sin and Unbelief in Our Lives

No discussion of frustration and stress would be complete without
examining whether there is any sin or unbelief in our lives that may
be contributing to our feelings of being overwhelmed and under-
supported. The primary relationship that undergirds all of our other
relationships is the relationship we have with God. If our
relationship with God is out of balance because of sin or unbelief,
all other relationships suffer and no amount of time management,
household organization, self-help, spiritual friendships, mentors, or
counselors will help. These measures may seem to provide temporary
relief, but will never address the root problem, which is our
disobedience to or lack of faith in God.

Let's look at the three most common areas of sin that cause women to
be stressed-out. First, there is the area of proper discipline and
training of children. When we do not "nurture and admonish" our
children in the ways God requires, we are not only creating children
who make our lives miserable, but more importantly, we are sinning
against God. Next is the area of the husband-wife relationship. If
your attitude toward your husband stinks, it will be impossible to
achieve a sense of peace and order in your home no matter how hard
you try. Finally, there is the area of personal sin. Maybe your house
is a wreck because you feel it's unfair for you to have to do so much
work, or you feel cheated of your potential by being a mother and
home-maker. Or maybe you're caught up in some secret sin like over-
eating or sexual fantasies, or whatever. No matter what your personal
sin, it clouds your relationship with God, with others, and with
earthly things like time and money.

The bad news about sin is that it is like a disease that weakens every
part of our lives. The good news is that God freely forgives and heals
us if we confess our sins and turn from our wicked ways.

Unbelief is a form of sin. God has provided everything we need through
many precious promises, and through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
This "everything" includes strength and vision to enjoy the privilege
and endure the demands of home schooling our children and running a
household. The Bible says, "The wise woman builds her house, but the
foolish woman tears it down with her own hands." We are foolish women
when we let our sin and unbelief tear down our houses.

Reaching Ground Zero with God

When you're in the midst of a crisis, when you've reached the end of
your rope, when you can't seem to find the inner resources to keep
going for another day, you often will reach a place of "ground zero"
with God. Ground zero is a term used to designate the immediate blast
area of a nuclear bomb, and sometimes life sends "bombs" that leave
you feeling like you are in nuclear winter. The nuclear winters of
life are times when you must come to terms with Who God really is. So
in one way these times are extreme challenges, but in another way they
are "gifts" from God because they give you a true perspective of what
is valuable and what is not, they show you who your real friends are,
and they force you to accept God on His terms.

Here is the story of one of my "ground zero" experiences. In January,
1994, due to a freak accident, a piece of metal fractured my skull and
destroyed my right eye. Just before the accident occurred, Chris had
resigned from the pastorate and the lease was up on the house we were
renting. This meant we had sixty days to find another place to live
and another source of income. The Elijah Company at that time
certainly was not capable of sustaining us financially.

While I was recovering from surgery for removal of my eye, well-
meaning Christians came and counseled me. Most of their counsel was
variations on five themes: either (1) there must be some sin in my
life for me to have been injured, or (2) I had somehow "come out from
under my covering of authority" for this to have happened, or (3) I
would never have been injured if Chris hadn't decided to leave the
pastorate, or (4) God was teaching me a powerful lesson through this,
or (5) I must be a very special person for God to have let this happen
to me. All of this conflicting counsel further unraveled me
emotionally and I began to feel like I would throw up if I ever heard
Romans 8:28 again.

After my release from the hospital, I had to be very careful in
standing, and was not supposed to lift anything or do any physical
work for six weeks. The only comforting aspect of that six weeks was
a tape my sister sent me with the chorus, "I'm going to walk right out
of this valley, lift my hands and praise the Lord!" I don't know the
name of the song, but I played it over and over.

But a remarkable thing happened. Some people I had thought were good
friends vanished, but people I hardly knew started packing up the
house for me. They brought meals and offered to watch the children.
A church group from another part of town came over the day we had to
move, rented the moving van, loaded it, drove it to our new place,
unloaded it, and cleaned up the old house. Then they presented us with
a "love offering" of enough money to help us get started in the new
direction we felt God was leading us.

The challenges continued. Losing an eye meant losing depth
perception and balance, so I had to re-learn how to do many, many
things I had never before realized relied on hand-eye coordination,
balance, and depth perception. This was a very long, fearful process,
but I had to keep going because life didn't slow down just because I
had been injured. Children needed caring for, a household needed
managing, and a business needed me to write catalogs, speak at
conventions, and exhibit at book fairs. There were times during those
first years after the accident when I was hanging on emotionally and
spiritually by the thinnest of threads.

But you know what? As trying as these times were, something "ground
zero" about God was being formed in me. Francis Shaeffer always
described our relationship with God as a series of "bows." Well, I had
to bow to God's god-ness. This meant I had to acknowledge that He is
God and I'm not. It's hard to explain, but I realized that God is God,
so He's always right, no matter what happens and no matter what I
might think about what He does. It may not make sense, but it was very
freeing to know my life was out of my control and in the hands of a
God whose "work is perfect and all His ways are just."

Several months after the surgery, I went for one of my monthly
doctor's appointments and happened to sit in the waiting room next to
a man who had also lost his eye. I asked him what had helped him get
through it and he told me his story. He had been a telephone workman
repairing the line when the pole he was attached to snapped at the
base and fell over on him. The whole right side of his body had been
crushed and he had undergone multiple surgeries to regain limited use
of his limbs and to reconstruct his face. This is what he said, "For
the first few months to a year, all you will be able to think about is
what happened to you and how bad off you are. Then, after about a
year, you'll only think about it a few times a day. After about
another year, you'll only think about it a couple of times a week,
then a couple of times a month, and then you'll get on with your life
and hardly ever think about it anymore." It's been over six years now,
and the man was right.

There is one final "gift" I want to mention. One of my greatest
private griefs in losing an eye was that I found I couldn't ride a
horse anymore because I would get dizzy and lose my balance. I
struggled with feeling like one of the things I loved to do most had
been stripped from me. Then, in the fall of 1999 I went to a Cowboys
for Christ service at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress. One of
the men who spoke at the service (Steve Heckaman) had been a famous
horse trainer who was involved in a horrendous traffic accident that
crushed the right side of his body, killed his wife, and injured his
young son. He had to undergo multiple surgeries and extensive
rehabilitation. On that day in Cowboy Church he shared how the
accident had totally transformed his life and brought him to Christ.
He had learned to walk again, but one of his biggest challenges had
been riding again because he had lost his right eye and no longer had
the balance and depth perception he needed to stay in the saddle. With
the help of friends, he learned to ride again and came back to the
show ring and won at the largest Quarter Horse show in the world.

So guess what? I'm starting to ride again. I'm still scared, and it's
still a struggle, but I'm going to do it.

So what's the point of all this. Well, one point is that your "ground
zero" experience may be the turning point in someone else's life.
Another point is that "ground zero" experiences will eventually enter
the "This too shall pass" phase and life will move on. The third point
is that there will always be someone else whose "ground zero"
experiences make yours look like a piece of cake. The fourth point is
that, after a "ground zero" experience, life's everyday hassles don't
seem so hard to bear. And the final point is that these experiences
can be "gifts" in disguise, gifts that bring you face to face with Who
God really is.

In Closing

I know this article is way too long, and I've turned it into a
testimonial, but before closing I want to share a recent experience.
My father died unexpectedly in November. Our grief was intense, but
the funeral was a family celebration of his life and faith in God.
Our son James sang one of Papa's favorite hymns, Chris and I both
spoke and shared memories of his life, and his grand-daughter read a
poem she had written.

During the preparations for my father's funeral, I began thinking
about my grandmother, Caroline Blackshear Bridges. When she died
nearly 25 years ago, I drove to Blakely, Georgia for her funeral.
As I looked around me at her children, grandchildren, and great
grandchildren, as well as all the friends who had assembled in the
First Baptist Church to pay their respects to the woman we had all
called "Miss Carrie," I thought about Exodus 20: 5 that says God
visits "the sins of the fathers upon the children to the third and
fourth generation." I was suddenly struck with the reality that the
reverse of that scripture is also true. God blesses the children of
the righteous to the third and fourth generation. I knew that Miss
Carrie had been a Christian. Her father died when she was a child,
but her maternal grandfather was a Christian who said he received a
call from God to become a missionary to the then wild and sparsely
settled portions of backwoods Georgia. His name was James C. Bass,
and he would travel to remote lumber camps and stand on a stump to
preach the gospel to the rough lumberjacks. This grandfather had a
powerful impact on Miss Carrie's life.

So there I was at my grandmother's funeral, over half a century after
James C. Bass died, realizing that nearly every one of Miss Carrie's
children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were Christians. As
I sat through that funeral, I was overcome with gratitude for my godly

Then, this November I was at my father's funeral (Miss Carrie's son).
I again saw children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren: three
generations who had all been affected by my father's belief in God.
My father was not only a Christian, he was a Southern gentleman, who
imparted a legacy of loyalty, integrity, principle, productivity, and
confidence to his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, as
well as to all those around him. He gave us all a firm belief that
each person's life could count for something.

I spoke at my father's funeral, and what I shared was that God is
faithful to bless righteousness. One righteous person can impact four
generations, and those four generations can each impact four
generations after them, so that the ongoing impact of righteousness
can be never-ending as it passes down into the future. In fact, the
Bible tells us God shows His mercy and steadfast love to a thousand
generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments (Exodus

How about that? We can bring mercy and steadfast love to a thousand
generations simply by loving God and keeping His commandments.

So, I guess what I want to tell each of you who reads this article is:
YOUR LIFE CAN AFFECT FOREVER. Maybe you don't have generations of
godliness standing behind you, but you can start where you are and
affect your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren-at least
three generations beyond you. And each of them can affect at least
three generations beyond them. And who knows? If God were once willing
to spare Sodom for only ten righteous men, maybe your presence in your
own city has more of an impact than you could ever imagine.


I know this article tends to sound like I've got it all together.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. It's only by God's grace
that I am a fairly sane woman today, so I feel somewhat hypocritical
in writing this article.

What makes me bold enough to write it is that I used to love listening
to John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard Fellowships. Wimber's life
impacted thousands, but every time he spoke he freely acknowledged
there was nothing in him of any worth. He would often say, "I'm just
a fat man trying to get to heaven." Well, I'm a lot like that. There's
nothing in me of any worth. I'm just a frazzled, adventurous Mom
trying to get to heaven.


Homeschooling on A Shoestring

Notes by UmWalid (& a few others)


The book is Homeschooling on a Shoestring by Melissa Morgan and Judith Waite Allee.

What I am interested in sharing with you is the money saving - time saving stuff this book talks about. I was surprised as I have read it that many of the things that it recommends I already do. I also recognized some of you in the book. I wondered if they interviewed some of you.

I am not going to spend alot of time on the book but will post the stuff that can be benefitted from, inshaAllah.

Chapter 1 is titled Financial Choices that Make Homeschool Possible.

Okay, here are some FREE sample newsletters for Homeschooling

At Home in America, published by Homeschool Associates
more information at

FUN (family unschoolers network) newsletter
1688 Bellhaven Woods court
pasadena, MD 21122-3727

Homeschool Helper-- not a sample but a free subscription.
Bob Jones University Press,
Greenville, SC 29614-0060

(personally don't like this guy. never seen his newsletter)

The Learning Edge Newsletter
Clonlara School Home-Based Education Program
1289 Jewett St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

The Relaxed Home Schooler Newsletter
PO box 2524
Cartersville, GA 30120

Okay this chapter had lots of other information, but we already know it , I

Basicaly it is about how homeschooling is cheaper than having your child in
school . You spend less money on school clothes, field trips, lunches, you
spend more time cooking as opposed to getting the microwable stuff.....yadda
yadda yadda......yeah yeah yeah. And all the benefits of homeschooling and
why its done...blah blah blah....... MOVING ON........

Chapter 2....... The Frugal and Wise Homeschool Budget.

Okay this is one of those things that my family already does. Eat cheap. Eating cheap is synonomous to eating healthy. Potatoes , rice, beans, flour, apples, bananas . Skip the meat. Get healthy vegetarian recipes. You don't have to be a vegetarian to eat vegetarian. Book recommended Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe. Or check out cookbooks at library. Also, cook low meat dishes such as stir fry. If you have an infant, BREASTFEED. It is the cheapest (and healthiest) formula available. Cook ahead. You will be less tempted to get fast food if you have food available. My family does this. We cook double. So we have a day inbetween in which we don't cook and on the third day we eat lightly. For example : Sunday we might cook a big meal with all the fixins'. On monday we eat left over from sunday because we cooked alot. On tuesday, we acknowledge that we have eaten heavy the previous nights and may have a meal of fried eggs, hot tea and pita bread. This frees up most of our days for time better spent. Cooking is time
consuming ya know. I have noticed that Um Munir sure knows how to do many time-saving nutritious meals. Such as pita- bread pizzas, and yummy egg rolls that kids love and dont take long to make.

Here are some more tips ........use coupons only if you were going to buy the food anyway. Even with coupons many national brands and prepackaged food costs more anyway.

Keep a price master list so you can reliable tell when a sale item is a bargain.

Make your own children's cook book. Fill it with nutritious, time saving kid-tested recipes. I think this is a great idea. Make one of your kids write it.

Eat Tofu. talks about how great tofu is. I don't even know where to buy tofu. ANybody know? I loved it when I was just a wee lass.

Eat popcorn instead of chips. use a water mister to spray the popcorn so the salt and any other seasonings will adhere to the popcorn. Instead of using butter. (hmmm.....havent' tried that)

Food on the road........keep an ice chest in your car to discourage buying food on road trips. I suppose this idea is okay for long trips. Personally for short trips , kids eat and drink nooooooothhhhhhinggggggg.


One thing we do with our children (ages 5 - 11) is we incorporate math and health lessons into our cooking. The children help choose foods and menus based on 'healthy' food charts and when I'm baking, we use the measurements of the ingredients to teach fractions. When I double a recipee it's a good time to review those 2 times tables!

Sometimes I'll use kitchen items to keep them occupied while I cook. For example, I had packets of koolaid in the kitchen ( during my pre-Muslim days), which I first asked them to count, then asked them to sort into pairs, then asked them how many days we could make koolaid if we drank 2 gallons a day. It gave them something to do in the
kitchen and introduced them to word problem type math. It could be done with any small packaged food you use regularly (tea bags work, for example)

Another 'shoestring' food lesson is budgeting itself. It works better with the older children. Each food shopping trip, one of the older children is in charge of making sure we stick to the list and stick to our budget. It gives them a good way to learn some real-life skills while we do our family errands.


Anyhoo.......last time I wrote we were looking at Chapter 2 : The Frugal and Wise Homeschool Budget. We were talking about food.

Okay, there is also a suggestion about buying food in bulk and freezing it. Also canning foods such as veggies and soup. Book recommended; The Freezer Cooking Manual: A month of meals made easy. I have no comments to make about this because I don't know alot about freezer cooking. Guess I have to read that book. Although I do freeze my mozarella cheese. And when a few times my dh brought a few boxes of tomatoes from the farmers market and I boiled them, peeled them, grinded them then bagged them in ziplock bags and froze them. So I had tomatoe paste for a long long time.

Chapter 2 goes on to talk about decluttering your life (simplifying it ) and give an example of this family that has no car and walks and rides bikes everywhere and the mom cooks with grains on thier woodburning stove that the dad chops wood for. yah whatever. Personally, my family is not living next to a forest. Sounds great. kind of extreme, in my opinion. However, it talks about living simply without feeling poor and I love this suggestion.......IT says that "Susan" compared her childhood to her husbands and realized there was no difference in their economic status. Yet her husband thinks he grew up poor and she does not feel that way. Then she realized why. Her family gave to charity. If you give to the poor, how can you be poor?

Feeling rich does not mean you have to have alot of money. Subhannallah , it can be as simple as being grateful for what you have. This part is very true.

Check out these interesting statistics from The Overspent American

More than a quarter of families in the $100,000-++ plus income bracket say they cannot afford everything the need. {say wahhhh???}

The more television people watch and the more formal education they have, the less money they tend to save, with an averat of $208 dollars LESS in yearly savings for every hour spent watching TV {hmmmm interesting....}

Chapter 3 : Homeschoolers with Home Businesses.

I guess the title is self explanatory. Profiles some homeschoolers with business such as author, family day care provider and selling their own crafts and tutoring a certain subject or skill. I personally do ebay and have made a little chump change that way. I also (for those interested) have been interested in selling usborne books. Check it out at . Sounds like an interesting opportunity with low start up fees. ANYWAY........

Marketing your business. ..... Create special events. Create events that will show off your work to potential customrs. Write articles or columns about your area of expertise . ( I never thought of this...sounds like a good idea to me). It will establish you as a knowledgable and credible expert in you field. For example, let's say I wanted to sell usborne books..... I could write an interesting exciting article about how wonderful these books are and how they made my chiildren's eyes light up with the joy of learning (ack!) The author lists examples that it has been done for such as landscaping, photography, counseling, cooking and real estate. Articles that were written by small business people looking for visibility.

Seek opportunities for public speaking.....

Piggy back your promotion.....who has the same customers you do? I think this is a great idea also. Let's say you were selling homemade soaps......and you know someone selling scented candles......why not hook up and give each other's customers free samples and business cards. Barter. And final suggestion.......and a good one I think......ask people who know the answers. Find someone who is successful with thier home business and ask them for information.

The next section is expanding your business electronically ( via internet) .

First thing

You do not need formal training to build a website.

THere are many online tutorials. There are free information online and some websites such as that will build the website for you for FREE. The book also mentions another way to advertise is on bulletin boards and email lists (errrr. I think this is called SPAM and considered bad netiquette. I would be very choosy about who I did it too. )

FREE ON-LINE Marketing and promotional oppurtunities:

The American Small Business Association

Inc.magazine online

International small business consortium (ISBC)

And finally for free business counseling contact

Your local chamber of commerce which can help you locate your closest Small
business administration and

The Small Business Development Center


Chapter 4 Making Room for Homeschooling Simplifying Your home and Your life.

The author mentions how much STUFF kids in North America have in the last century and yet they enjoy it less and less. Homeschooling forces families to confront challenges such as limited space and time. Mentions that families do not have to be rich for the kids to have too much STUFF. Many children of penny-pinching frugal people have lots of STUFF ( like their parents). Also mentions that frugal (cheap) people tend to be hoarders ( yah I am married to one. I throw it away, he digs it out and brings it back in) . Some of us frugal people rationalize we might need that stuff some day. So we will save money later, right? Having too much STUFF, the author says , causes 3 problems.

1.) A child with too much STUFF develops and blase attitude about possessions. He will need BIGGER and BETTER and more wondrous STUFF to generate enthusiasm. So this will crimp his natural willingness to learn and enjoy new experiences. The child will be less responsible. Who cares if this truck gets broken when I have 50 more in the closet?

2.) Having too much STUFF drains your energy , time and enthusiasm. Alot of STUFF creates mess which means you will spend some of your time organizing all of that STUFF and it can make you mad.

3.) All that cheap STUFF costs money! All those quarters and nickels add up! And we spend money cleaning and repairing them and we need space for storing them.

Now........this section is called ADDING SPACE WITH IMAGINATION I like this section. Okay , so you are outgrowing your space but can't afford to live in a bigger home. My husband mentioned to me the other day that in the traditional palestinean homes, the only people who had bedrooms were parents and girls. THe boys would just have mats that they laid out in the living room and slept there and in the morning they would have to roll up their mats and put them up. With that in mind we have agreed to move the boys bunk beds in the girls room, get rid of a bed and free one room for homeschooling class (it has been getting kind of tight in here). My kids have been camping in the living room all together anyway. Getting back to the book......the authors visited homeschool families across the country and has seen families who turned dining rooms into libraries and classrooms and her favorite was a family who all slept on mats in one room "korean style" (author's words) and left 2 rooms empty. One was a playroom , one was a classroom.

So look at your house Cre Ative LY !



By the way, if you like this topic then you will want to check out

Okay last time we discussed the steps to organization according to the
(see post shoestring 4 for a memory refresher).

Moving on.......

The author says you will need a good formal filing system. WHat does she
know? I throw all my stuff in unmarked crates and it works fine for me. (
okay not really. I don't even know what is in my crates anymore because it
would be such a huge headache to sift thru them.....I dunno maybe she is
right). I know some of you go to the board of education to get tables, file
cabinets , and student desks (practically free, right?). You can also use
cardboard file box, or a plastic crates for hanging files (what ? does she
mean like those things that I threw all my papers in? Scratch what I said
above, I DO have a filing system! Wahoooooo !! I am really on the ball!!)
Businesses also throw away their file folders and make new ones with new
labels so check around. Whatever your filing system, the author says you
must routinely eliminate unnecessary papers ( I'll put that on my 'to do '
list). Here are some common categories

PENDING- papers about upcoming events or stuff you are trying to organize or
wait for answers for
PORTFOLIO-for the current school year for all of your children
LEGAL-school system stuff, legislature
HOMESCHOOL CONTACTS--you know what that means.....
FIELD TRIPS- brochures and information about local stuff.....
CURRICULIM--catolougs and stuff like that

And you can give your kids their own filing system as well!

Virtual storage----using the computer to store files is a way to cut down on
space . I think this is practical for storing phone numbers, pictures, and
stuff like that. Remember to back it up!


cardboard boxes with lids like the ones that hold reams of paper , dish pans,
refrdgerator drawers, plastic puckets (like painter pails , ice cream pails)
used lunch boxes. ( I use alot of this stuff.......the only drawbck in my
opinion is some of it is ugly) Like the cardboard boxes or the oxyclean
buckets. I always think to paint them though but never get around to it) The
author says you can paint your boxes or cover with wall paper). My dh has
found 10 yards of wallpaper in the bins for $1.00. I forgot where....I think

Other containers to hold small stuff are egg cartons, small plastic diaper
wipe boxes ( hey I use those) , you can ask someone with a baby to save
theirs for you if you don't have one.

For space problems create temporary work areas such as fold up snack trays to
work at or folding tables. You can also get a 2 sided easel / chalkboard
thing or buy self-stick white board .


You need your children's help. Teach your children to take care of their own
stuff and to clean up their own messes. Teaching responsibliltiy is a good

I agree with alot I am reading in this section. For me personally, having my
family help me is not a nice favor to is NECESSARY for my household
and my homeschool to function. I also agree that kids appreciate feeling
needed. I always remember a home I visited when Walid was a baby. A muslim
sister in alabama who had at the time 5 children (now she has 7, myshallah).
At the time she had boys, 11, 9, 5, and 16 months with a 3 year old girl
thrown in the mix. When I first arrived I was thinking this woman must be
frazzled with 5 kids (most of them boys). Gee, I was wrong. Almost all of
her housework were delegated among her chilidren. Her SONS helped her cook,
picked up the table after the dinner, washed the dishes, vaccumed and took
care of the younger siblings , including feeding the 16 month old. I have
not been able to get it down like she did , but I am working on it.


Last time I posted the subject was CHORES !!!!

Make chores a requirement! Not an elective. You need your children's help.
You do. Don't be ashamed to admit it. Don't be ashamed to tell them. It
seems in my house Malek (my 4 year old) got the message. One of the things
he likes to say is "we have to help mommy clean up the kitchen because she
had too many children". (**gasp**). And when he has been asked "how many
children does your mom have ?" He has said "Too many".

The reason he has said that is because I have told them before "look there
are alot of you so you guys have to help me out! We have to help each other!
You have to pick up after your self or your room will get really messy and
mice will come live in there ! " (this is true we had a mouse problem a few
years ago). So in my experinece , it is OKAY to explain to kids that you need

When kids help, they are not going to always do it "right". Then again, moms
don't always do it "right " either.
Teach your kids to take care of their own stuff and be responsible for their
own belongings.

Even a 2 year old can learn to pick up their own toys. My 2 year old learned
to put away laundry. I mentioned before that I hang my kids nice clothes but
do not bother folding underwear and play clothes. My 2 dd's have baskets at
the bottom of their closets for their underwear and playclothes. One for
underwear, one for Deena (age 5) clothes and one for Asiya (age 2) play
clothes. Well Asiya, knows how to take her clothes to the basket. However,
being the little worker bee she is, she also puts everyone else's clothes in
her basket . So if anyone is missing an underwear or a t-shirt, we know where
to look!

Raymond and Dorothy Moore say in The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook: A
creactive and stressfree apporach to homeschooling , noticed that children
benefit greatly from learning to work alongside their parents. When games and
amusements (computer, video games etctera) were substititued for chores
kids started becoming selfish.

Start when your children are little. Do not wait until they are teens then
wonder why they are so lazy. Many days I let Deena clean up the kitchen (wash
dishes and wipe down counters). She embarrasses me sometimes because she gets
it cleaner than me . ( like father , like daughter).

Here are some ideas on integrating chores with homeschooling:

Mix chores and academics. Shopping and cooking can use hands on fractions /
measurements and budgeting. What does bathtub scum look like under a
microscope ? (sorry but that is one that I don't want to know) Feeding fish,
taking care of birds and watering plants are jobs for my kids as well. A
sister on this list has a 9 year old who had to take care of her own
birds ! Now she has a breeder! ( LOL ). Having chores builds skills!

Give clear instructions! Dont just say "clean up the kitchen" say " remove
the dishes from the table and rinse them in the sink and place them in the

Inspect regulary then keep on inspecting.

Rotate chores.

Keep it manageable! Nothing comes out until the first thing is picked up. I
have a rule that if the kids want to sit out in the living room and watch tv
they have to pick it up first. Nothing comes out untili the first thing goes
up . Just last night I removed a ton of clothes from my kids closes and put
them in mine. It is easier for them to hang up their own clothes if their
closets are not stuffed.

Give the kids their own child-size clean up tools.

Watch for unnecessary escalation of standards/ burn out. If you are
overwhelmed, maybe you are doing too much! I believe this is so true! Ever
since most of my dishes were broken by my 2 year old dropping them
dishwashing is much easier! Since we barely have cups we are forced to rewash
the same ones ! Therfore keeping the accumlation of dirty cups at bay! You
may not need as many clothes as you think ! Cloths can be worn more than
once and a glass can be used all day for the same person.

Energetic 10 minute clean ups can make a difference if you jump on the big
VISUAL things. empty the sink, wipe the table, .....etcetera.
COMPANY's COMING Method of cleaning.......

I love this idea. Because this is what happened to me. ! My mother's sunday
visits gives me a goal for my kids. "grandma's coming ! clean up clean up!" .
So if you need some motivation , invite someone over and set the date a week
or 2 later. If you are a little chicken then just invite someone (like me )
who loves you just the way you are!***************


Homeschooling the Charlotte Mason way...

means we write lots of things like recipes, instructions on how to build an ant farm, lists of words that remind us of Thanksgiving, poems by John Ciardi, personal nature journals, Bible verses, favorite sections from Little House on the Prairie, book reviews written on Amazon, dictations from Aesop's Fables and narrations from The Girl of Limberlost. All this practice makes us good writers, spellers, punctuators, and authors.

Math is counting pennies, nickles, dimes and quarters and counting then by ones, twos, fives, tens. We use colored dry beans to add with and also things like seashells, rocks, and anything else that hands can hold. We use textbooks too, but we like to solve problems like: What is 40% off the shirt I want to buy? OR How do I balance my checkbook?

For history CM style, we read good books aloud like Little Britches, Johhny Tremain, DeAulaire's Abe Lincoln and Greek Myths. We prefer to read whole books for history instead of textbooks so we can learn
"whole history" rather than "snippets of history." If we read a biography about Ben Franklin, we read a whole history about the life and times...included will be other famous people like George Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Sam Adams and the Sons of Liberty. We learn of the hustle and bustle of life on the harbor and in the streets of old New England. We may even cross-stitch a sampler like young colonial girls did back then or make a quill pen to write with!

Geography ...we will learn our states and capitals, but we may also visit there via a good book or via a children's picture atlas. We may "tour" Burma by reading a book about the Judson's who were missionaries there or "visit" Africa by reading about David Livingstone. A video to the Pyramids of Egypt will help us see not just the monuments themselves, but a way of life which a people still live today.

Natural Science... we enjoy many nature walks together. We hunt bird nests in winter when the snow banks are so high we can just reach up and snatch one. We make seed charts from the seed pods that form in our gardens in fall or from wild plants that grow in our pastures. We identify birds, insects, grasses, wildflowers, flower parts, rocks anfd fossils.

We watch our cows and sheep give birth spring and continually observe them caring for their young. We keep nature journals and try to record in them weekly...drawings of leaves, and pressed leaves, drawings of sharptail grouse and feathers. We've found that to get to know nature is much like reading a "living books"...we get the whole picture of God's creation rather than someone else's short analysis. We do use and need good field guides however.

Poems are for Fridays! We gather all the poetry books we own and begin paging through them to our favorites. We take turns reading them aloud to one another...some new and many repeat favorites. Sometimes we memorize one or record one in our nature journal or copybook.

Reading is a love...Chronicles of Narnia, My Friend Flicka, A Girl of Limberlost, On to Oregon, Ping, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, The Real Mother Goose, Aesop's Fables, Just So Stories, Carry On Mr. Bowditch, Little Britches, Rifles for Watie, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, The Very Hungry Caterpillar...and the list goes on.

Singing...we sing songs together...Michael Row the Boat Ashore, Buffalo Gals, Crawdad Song, Shortnin' Bread, Jesus Loves Me, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Happy Trails. Some of us play piano, some guitar, some play pan lids or sticks. We listen to Handel, Chopin, Beethoven and Bach. Sometimes we listen gladly, sometimes not, but we listen and we know what good music is. We listen to little brother learn to
play the piano (joyful noise?) and big sister play her Moonlight Sonata. We also like to play our Country/Wester loud while working!

Let's not forget that to homeschool in to get along with those in our home and to function as a family. We learn to be patient with little brother's legos while we read aloud. We learn to help another bake a cake for the first time. We try to teach our family something we know to change a flat tire, water the garden seeds without washing them away, how to feed a weak lamb by bottle. We learn to work together . Our life isn't perfect and yes, there are differences and picking and fighting too, but we keep on trying.
We try to have good habits and good manners at home FIRST and other places SECOND. We respect each other and each other's things. Homeschooling is life and we learn best by being a real and active part of this LIFE. What a "good life"; we have.

by Jody Courtney
Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Western Education vs. Muslim Children
by Khadija Anderson

Bissmillahir Rahmanir Raheem

"Understanding Islamic Education" is the title of a tape by Imam Hamza Yusuf
that I have been listening to recently. Interestingly, just last week,
an article came to me via the internet called "The Impact of Western Hegemony
on Muslim Thought" by Prof. Yusuf Progler. First of all, I had to look
up "hegemony" in the dictionary. According to the dictionary, it means,
"predominance of one state over others". As I had hoped, the article was
a link to understanding the differences between Islamic and Western Education.
In both articles, the authors spoke about the contradiction of Western
education and Islamic education, the effects of Western education on the
Ummah in recent history, and most importantly, the effects on us and the
next generation of Muslims, our children.
In my family, this has recently become a predominent topic of study and
conversation as my 3 1/2 year old daughter is rapidly becoming the human
sponge that Allah Subhanahu wa ta 'ala created children to be. The important
thing about this phenomenon is the way that children learn from watching
and imitating what is around them. I did not realize this fully until one
day during Maghrib prayer she recited the Fatiha and two other surahs .
Just like that. I was pretty surprised and upon coaxing, I found out that
she also knew two more surahs and could call the Iqama. Subhana Allah !
The need for formal education for her in another year and a half has led
me to investigate different avenues available to us; private Islamic school,
homeschooling, or public school.
In Prof. Yusuf Progler's paper, he warns against Muslims participating in
the Western educational system. He says that by using it, one adopts Western
assumptions on the nature of existence. "Most Western practices of education
have institutionalized (their) one version of what it means to be a human
being...Muslims ought to re-evaluate their situation because the Western
understanding of existence is quite different than the teachings of Islam.
Islam has its own explanation..."
Western colonizers of Muslim countries knew the importance of taking Islam
out of the minds of Muslims, and achieved this by secularizing schools
and teaching Islam only in an historic context at the end of the school
day when the student's concentration was at its lowest. Results of this
can be seen in many immigrant Muslims in America. When someone suggested
to an immigrant sister that she should not let her children watch so much
TV, and instead, teach them about their deen, she said that only Allah
made people Muslims and she prayed that Allah would make her children Muslims.
She honestly didn't understand the concept of educating her children about Islam.
On the internet, a sister raised in a Muslim country was writing about the
wonderful freedoms of living in the US. Some Muslims seem to take the influence
of an Islamic atmosphere for granted ; adhan being called at each prayer
time, modestly dressed people, halal food the norm, everyone greeting with
salaams, lack of crime, availability of Qur'anic teachers and people treating
one another as brothers and sisters in Islam, as being an influence in
their upbringing. The importance of this environment on a young Muslims's
mind can not be replaced by the material advantages of living in a western
country. The Western society teaches children by exposure that the norm
of society is high crime, alcohol, fornication, high divorce rate, teenage
pregnancies, deviant sexual practices, immodest clothing, putting individual
desires over societal needs, lack of morals and charity, etc. According
to Dr. Shahid Athar in "Sex Education: An Islamic Perspective", children
in America are exposed to 9,000 sexual scenes per year through the media
and on television . Even now in public schools children are taught that
homosexuality is an acceptable alternative form of family life.
Homeschooling can help Muslim families veer away from Western influences
not only physically, but by allowing the family to choose it's curriculum.
There are many Muslim homeschooling resources, and one comprehensive program
is ArabesQ Academy which is overseen by writer and educator Umm Sulaiman.
She offers many solutions for Muslim families including lesson plans ranging
from complete daily plans to monthly overviews. Also offered are on and
offline correspondance courses with secular education taught via classic
Islamic viewpoints, again with curriculum designed for each families needs.
Another family has fought the battle of raising their children in an Islamic
household and then sending them to local public schools. They seemed to
be a good example of how the two opposite institutions could coexist. After
many years of this apparently good mixture of two worlds, things began
to fall apart. The peer pressure of participating in Western culture raises
it's ugly head during the teen years. A typical problem is teenage daughters
refusing to wear hijab unless praying or attending Islamic functions.
Prof. Progler also says that "'s not enough for Muslims to say that
the West is bad without an understanding and development of what may be
an alternative. This requires a delicate balance. Imbalance will lead to
teaching religion without any understanding of how the modern world is
affecting the practice and understanding of religion". Many Islamic schools
in America try to create this balance within their curriculums. The Islamic
School of Seattle, for instance, commits to "...provide children with an
atmosphere as close to the Islamic ideal as possible...strenghten them
to meet and deal effectively with the challenges of living in the modern
American society, instill in them a pride in their heritage by
enabling them to approach knowledge from an Islamic point of view."
According to Imam Yusuf in "Understanding Islamic Education", Arabic has
to be a foundation for Islamic education. Knowledge is obtained by first
learning the tools of knowledge; language, reasoning and the ability to
articulate. The Arabic language has been preserved since the time of the
Qur'anic revelations. This allows one to perceive the meanings of the Quran
as it was intended and revealed to the people of that time, which is crucial
as the Qur'an is not interpreted through conjecture, but through knowledge.
That is why The Prophet, may peace be upon him, said that whoever interprets
the Qur'an from his own opinion is mistaken, even if he is correct. Also,
traditional Islamic education teaches children to memorize the whole Qur'an
between the ages of 7 and 9. This, Yusuf says, "...develops a memory in
a child that will surpass others in any school system." From a purely academic
point of view, "the idea is to empower a child with the ability to absorb
information, as a good deal of learning is based on that ability."
The next step after Arabic and Qur'an according to Imam Yusuf, is the study
of Hadith, followed by fiqh. He then commented that at least one or two
people in every family should dedicate themselves to this learning, or
we will seriously decrease our knowledge in the future. We need to produce
scholars to lead the future ummah. The Prophet, may peace be upon him,
said that the two parents of a child who memorizes the whole Qur'an will
be given crowns of light on Yauma Qiyauma. Why would we rather teach our
children to be engineers or doctors? Imam Yusuf and Prof. Progler both
quoted the following hadith in their works: The Prophet, upon whom be peace,
walked into a mosque where there was a group of people surrounding a man.
The Prophet inquired, "Who is that?" He was told, "That is a very learned
man." The Prophet asked, "What is a learned man?" They told him, "He is
the most learned man regarding Arab genealogies, past heroic episodes,
the days of Jahiliyyah, and Arabic poetry." The Prophet said, "That is
knowledge whose ignorance does not harm one nor is its possession of any
benefit to one ."
We know the history of the Islamic state since the time of the Prophet,
may peace be upon him. We have had successes and failures. The Prophet,
may peace be upon him, said that the believers are a mirror to each other.
It is imperative that we look in the mirror of history and see that the
successes were achieved through seeking Allah. To do this, we must ask
ourselves some serious questions. What are we living this life for? What
do we want to teach our children to live their lives for? To work for Microsoft,
or to work for the pleasure of Allah Subhanahu wa t'ala ?
Many warnings about this life are given by Allah throughout the Qur'an,
as in surah 31:33; "...Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth, so let not
the worldly life delude you and be not decieved about Allah by the Deciever
This ayat appears again in surah 35:5. To ignore this would be to participate
in the deception of our children. It is our responsibility as parents to
give them the education they need in order to not be deluded by this worldly
life. What this is ascribing us to is an ideal Islamic life. There are
difficulties, but it is our responsibility to build ourselves and our children
up to the Islamic excellence that Allah and His Messenger, may peace be
upon him, have provided us with the guidance to achieve.
We seek Allah's guidance and help, for indeed. He is the
Generous, the Magnanimous, and the Most Merciful of all merciful



One of the greatest challenges a Muslim will ever face is being a parent. This is one challenge, however, many of us are least prepared for. Allah tells us in the Quran that our children are our trial and as such we should take the task of parenting seriously, and start learning from each other. In my experience in dealing with my own family and counseling other Muslim families, a model has developed based on what I call "The Positive and Negative C's". I pray to Allah that this humble contribution will help parents and children alike in diagnosing and repairing the health of their families.


Compassion (Rahmah)
Prophet Muhammad (saas) stated "He is not of us who does not have compassion for his fellow beings". It is interesting to note that when it comes to Hadith like this or Quranic quotes dealing with human behavior, we never stop to think that our children and family members are also our fellow human beings and that these golden rules must also be applied to them. Compassion is only one component of the concept of mercy (rahmah) - the others being kindness, respect, and of course love. Remember the displeasure of Prophet Muhammad (saas) when Al-Aqra ibn Habis told him how he had never kissed any of his ten children. Upon hearing that the Prophet Muhammad (saas) told him, "you have no mercy and tenderness at all. Those who do not show mercy to others will not have God's mercy shown on them."

Consultation (Shura)
The Prophet (saas) has related that Allah says "Oh My servant. I look on high handedness as something not permissible for Myself, And I have forbidden it for you. So do not oppress each other". When we consult with each other in the domestic realm, both husband and wife must show respect for each other. This is one of the best ways to bond and to learn and listen to each other and to resolve conflicts. However, the consultation will only be fruitful if it is sincere and not merely a formality. Imposition of one's ideas with scant regard to the welfare of the whole family unit defeats the purpose of the most important Quranic principle, as-shura.

The concept of cooperation in Islam is most beautifully illustrated in sura Al-Asr : "Counsel each other to the truth (haq), and counsel each other to patience and fortitude (sabr)". When a family unit cooperates in this manner, they truly capture the spirit of Islam - the welfare of each member of the family becomes the concern of the other.

It is extremely important that our families commit themselves as a unit to Allah and His Prophet (saas):
"Obey Allah and His Prophet and those in authority over you" (Sura An- Nisa).

This collective commitment gives us an identity and maps out our purpose - namely that we all belong to Allah and are accountable and responsible to Him.

Communication is more than talking. It is an essential part of family life. It is both talking in a manner in which others can understand you, and hearing in a manner in which you can listen and understand others. So many times people claim that they have no communication problem since they are always talking. However, the majority of the time they are talking "at" and not talking "to" the other person. This mode usually results in the recipient tuning out. Many children learn at an early age to tune out their parents. When communication is a means of listening, understanding, and exchanging ideas, it is the most powerful tool to effective parenting and the best shield against peer and societal pressures. It also teaches children skills to problem solving. An important component of positive communication is a sense of humour when parents and children can laugh together. Communication can also be instrumental in passing down family history and thus creating oneness and togetherness by sharing a mutual heritage (children love to hear about family stories).

Effective parenting requires that we are consistent in our value judgements, discipline, and moral standards. Many parents inadvertently apply double standards to boys and girls when it comes to social behavior and domestic chores. This is unacceptable, and leads to sibling rivalry and stereotypical males and females.

Family is with whom we can feel safe and secure. Where we know our secrets are safe and where there is mutual trust. Unfortunately, we parents often betray the trust of our children when we discuss their concerns which they confide in us to outsiders. This leads to mistrust, and sooner or later our children will stop confiding in us. This leads them to find confidants outside the family, sometimes non-Muslim peers, and this can be detrimental to their spiritual and moral growth.

The greatest gift we can give our children is that of contentment. This can be developed very early in life by encouraging our children to give thanks to Allah for all they have by discouraging materialism by word and example, and by counting the blessings every night and remembering the less fortunate.

It is the duty of parents to build confidence in our children through encouragement and honest and sincere praise. By developing confidence, we give our children the courage to stand up for themselves and their beliefs and to be able to deal with opposition.

By teaching restraint and avoiding excess we develop in our children control so that they do not become slaves to their desires (nafs).

By encouraging and showing calm in matters of adversity and in times of panic we improve our taqwa and teach our children to rely on Allah and to turn to Allah alone for all needs. Allah says in the Quran that the best statement of the believers in times of adversity or musibah is, "Indeed we are from Allah and to Him is our return."

Courage of conviction can only be achieved when we have been able to teach our childrentrue Islam. We should take advantage of every learning opportunity as a family so that our faith (iman) flourishes and evolves towards Ihsan as a family unit. In this manner we can be a source of strength to each other.

Critical Thinking
The Quran encourages us over and over again to think, reflect, ponder, understand and analyse. However, very rarely do parents encourage children to question. Our response to difficult inquiries from our children is to say "do it because I said so". This discourages the children from developing critical thinking. They become lazy and complacent and easy prey to cult type following. To take things at face value makes us vulnerable.

The most important attitude of a Muslim personality is, as Prophet Muhammad (s) stated : "Do you not wish that Allah will forgive you? Then forgive your brothers and sisters". Many relationships break because people are not able to forgive each other. It is important that parents make up in front of their children by forgiving each other after an argument. Prophet Muhammad (s) stated "like for your brother what you like for yourself". So if husband and wife expect respect from each other they should give respect. A charitable nature also encourages us to overlook people with their shortcomings and to be sensitive and to have empathy.

There are many negative C's which should also be identified so that we can avoid them or at least be aware of them. As you will notice when you go through the whole exercise, the presence of one negative C cancels out a positive C.

In an authentic Hadith the Prophet Muhammad (s) said : "Look up to one who is greater in piety so you strive to be like him and look upon one who is below you in material status so that you may be thankful to Allah's Grace". As a Muslim community we are experiencing the opposite. We are literally killing ourselves to gain bigger and better material goods than others and passing this same competition spirit to our children. If Br.x's son is going to Yale, my son must go to Harvard otherwise he is a failure, no matter how good a mu'min he is in comparison to Br. X's son. We are inadvertently putting so much pressure on our children to compete in dunya that we are actually hurting self esteem and pushing them away. For remember, if children don't find acceptance of who they are and what they are capable of at home, they will find it elsewhere.

Comparison, an outcome of negative competition is cruel and breeds resentment and anger. Many husbands and wives compare their spouses to others and get in the habit of complaining. Grass always seems greener in the neighbour's yard, but closer inspection may reveal the opposite. None of us are perfect, and therefore we should stop looking for perfection in others.

The negative aspect of control shows in the form of a controlling personality e.g. I am the boss so you do as I tell you. In extreme cases this need to control leads to abuse and neglect. Anger is also a weapon of a control freak. In most cases it is the father, however mothers also exhibit this trait.

Constant, destructive criticism is a sign of dysfunctional parenting. Continuous put downs and verbal clashing destroys the tranquil atmosphere at home. The self esteem of the recipients of this criticism is extremely low developing in them a victim mentality. They will either seek abusive relationships or turn their backs on their families. Many runaways come from such a family background.

"If the truth was to follow their whims, the heaven and earth and all their inhabitants would be corrupt" (Al-Mu'minoon).

Weak nafs and diseases of the heart lead to poor character which of course is the result of grudging submission and conditional faith. When we corrupt our deen by picking and choosing what we want, practicing what suits us best and resisting and out right opposing what does not suit our fancy, we pay an enormous price by loosing ourselves to the dunya, and driving our children away from Islam.

Parents are confused about their identity and their values. They have not been able to develop a structure of right and wrong based on Quran and Hadith and as such when it comes to implementation give conflicting signals to their children. We must as parents develop an Islamic frame of reference which would serve to develop a Muslim conscience in our children and a basis for judgement. This can only be achieved by sifting through our cultural baggage and increasing our knowledge.

Contempt for others is a result of pride, arrogance, and conceit. We must discourage arrogance in children and be constantly vigilant about it as many Muslim youth are falling prey to this trait and developing contempt towards their parents. It is one thing to praise and quite another to set them up on a pedestal. We should always remember "knowledge is proud it knows so much - wisdom is humble it knows no more".

Consumption, a vice of this society, is creeping into Muslim communities. When wants become needs, and parents start compensating for their lack of time spent with their children with material gifts, we are perpetuating consumerism - anything can be bought. This, however, is not true. So many young people I counsel always say "I could do without this new computer if only my parents would spend more time with me".

The legacy of materialism survives generations since it caters to our baser self. Please watch out for it.

When there is contradiction in word and deed it is called hypocrisy. Children are very sensitive to this vice and can pick a hypocrite a mile away. When we behave holier than thou in the masjid but present a different side in other settings, we are giving our children the message it is OK to be a hypocrite.

As Prophet Muhammad reminded us in his last sermon that "Shaytan cannot mislead us in major issues of Faith but in minor issues". This is where our carelessness and lack of diligence can lead to weak character.

This is a mind set that many immigrant parents have passed down to their children - a sense of inferiority, a complex as such, that European and Western cultures are superior and better than that of their country of origin. This is a mentality that encourages imitation, following and serving rather than leadership.

There are many more positive and negative C's that I could discuss but perhaps it would be entertaining if families could sit together and see how many they can come up with, and perform a diagnostic test of their own families based on this humble contribution.

Surviving Homework, Tips That Really Work! by Amy Nathan - gives excellent ideas on how to make homework (or homeschooling lessons) more fun and less frustrating for's a few ideas of what the book has to offer but you MUST read it yourself to really get the idea (my library had a copy)

If it's boring...

1) snazzle up homework assignments

2) make it goofy or humorous

3) take breaks (5 minues of something active before, during and after studying)

4) try to finish homework by a certain time

5) play music (or suggestion) if able to concentrate on homework, too, especially when doing easy worksheets

6) pretend you're someone or something else while you do your homework


If you have too much to do in too little time...

1) write a time line for doing the work and do one step at a time

2) cut out things that suck up your time (phone, TV, too mahy extra activities/clubs, INTERNET!)


Need to memorize?

1) make up mnemonics (silly sentences or tricks) to remember facts, eg. My Very Elegant Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets is a nmenonic for the nine planet names.

2) use rhymes

3) link it to something in yoru life

4) picture your facts or vocabular

5) make up songs

6) use vocabulary or facts when talking...even make up jokes or use exaggeration

7) write facts down over and over again

8) flashcards

9) post notes around house reminding you of facts, etc. so you read them all over

10) move around while studying if this helps


See book for more tricks to break writer's block, cure book report pain, stop spacing out, plan projects, escape from homework fog and confusion, and tame test jitters.

Explore before Investing in a Homeschooling Program by Calvert School

Finding a homeschool curriculum that matches the needs of you and your child is one of the most difficult and important decisions a homeschool family makes.
It isn't easy. There's a great deal of good information about homeschooling available from friends, neighbors, relatives, other homeschoolers, and the Internet. However, this information, while well intended, isn't always accurate or universal.
A homeschooling program is a lot like a pair of shoes: It has to fit perfectly to be comfortable and effective day after day. Sometimes families fail at homeschooling because they chose the wrong curriculum, not because they were poor teachers or their children poor learners.
Careful evaluation before starting a program is critical to success, say experts.
"You want age-appropriate, academically challenging lessons that enable your child to excel," says Jean C. Halle, president of Calvert School Education Services, based in Baltimore, Md. The company is the homeschooling provider arm of Calvert School, which started in 1906 to offer its private school curriculum to families who wanted to teach at home. More than 20,000 families a year use its curriculum for children between pre-kindergarten and eighth grade.
Calvert School receives hundreds of calls a year from families investigating whether the school's complete classical curriculum is right for them. "We put a lot of time into helping families to select what's right for them, even isn't the same grade level as their child is in at school," says Halle. "It's critical that the curriculum be perfectly suited to that child's needs in order for him or her to be successful."
Halle and other homeschooling experts suggest that parents should explore four main components of a provider's offerings when choosing a homeschool curriculum.

The first step in a child's academic experience should be appropriate placement in a grade. The ideal placement assessment takes into account how your child arrived at answers in order to evaluate both concept knowledge as well as his ability to apply those skills. Because they offer details about a child's writing mechanics, vocabulary and spelling levels, sentence structure, content, and organization skills, evaluations of writing samples are important.

A good curriculum will draw material from a variety of sources, incorporate opportunities for practice to improve written and oral communication, and help your child to learn, to analyze and interpret information, not simply memorize facts. An integrated curriculum allows the student to be able to write about all subjects, to think mathematically about subjects other than math, to compare and contrast geographical statistics to history facts, and to review and obtain valuable reinforcement of concepts taught.

Instructional Support
Lesson manuals should provide good detail, including lessons that introduce topics, explain concepts, coordinate subjects with each other, and suggest added practice and enrichment. At the appropriate age, the manual should be directed to the student, and the role of the home teacher should turn to more of an advisory role. If the provider offers answer keys for all daily work, parents can confirm their child's performance.
Educational professionals, who can offer strategies for teaching children with all learning styles, should be available by phone, fax, or email, to answer any questions you may have and to offer suggestions for accelerated or remedial work.

Knowing if your child is learning is important. A good program will include tests, which evaluate both content mastery and skill development. The availability of tests with answer keys can be helpful. If you have difficulty evaluating your child's composition and other subjective work, you should look for a provider that offers testing support in these areas.

Another key to success is evaluating the provider's materials. "Take time to review sample lessons, if offered by the provider, to be sure that the curriculum delivers as promised," says Calvert School's Halle.
"Your family is making a commitment for the entire school year so the time you invest in evaluating your options is well spent."
For more information, contact Calvert School at 888-487-4652 or visit

© 2003 Calvert School, Inc.

The Big Question: Can You Do It?
Keys to Determining if Homeschooling is Right for You

by Calvert School

Everyday countless families wrestle with whether to homeschool. No one can decide what's right for you, but there are important issues to consider.

Do you want to?
Homeschooling takes between 2½-5 hours a day. Successful homeschooling families structure their days around their lessons. By creating a "school room" within the home, families often quickly establish an atmosphere for learning. In addition to finding that educational opportunities abound-practicing math at the store, discussing science concepts while walking in the woods-these families enjoy the freedom to pursue other interests, including travel, performance, athletics.

Are you qualified to teach?
Home teachers come from all walks of life and education levels. A curriculum prepared for specifically for homeschoolers with detailed lesson plans, incorporating activities, assignments, and discussion questions, helps make sure you teach the right lessons in the best sequence.

What do you teach?
Finding age-appropriate textbooks, workbooks, and other materials can be time-consuming and complicated. Although some families gather their own lessons, many families opt for a complete curriculum to ensure there are no gaps in their child's education. Relying on educational professionals to find the best educational materials and guide your instruction maximizes your teaching time-and gives you the peace of mind that comes when your child excels.

What grade is right?
Selecting the right grade is critical. Completing a pre-enrollment assessment and working closely with a curriculum provider's educational experts for suggestions accelerated or remedial work, when necessary, helps guarantee your child's success in homeschooling.

Are there state requirements?
Homeschooling is legal throughout the U.S., although state regulations differ. Most states require families to keep records, and some curriculum providers offer accredited programs that meet state standards for homeschooling. Contact the state or local board of education for more information or visit the Home School Legal Defense Association at or call them at 540-338-5600.

What will it cost?
Homeschooling's costs are significantly less than a private school education. Most programs cost less than $1,500 a year per child. In exchange for your labor, homeschooling offers families the reward of valuable time together-which can be priceless.


What about…
If you have more questions, feel free to contact Calvert School at 1-888-487-4652 or visit We welcome the opportunity to help you decide what's right for you.

© 2003 Calvert School, Inc.

THE RIGHT START (Calvert School)

Once a family makes the important decision is to homeschool, getting off to the right start can help ensure a positive academic experience for both the home teacher and student. Selecting the right curriculum that will inspire the best in your child is the critical first step. Creating the right academic environment is the next one. The following helpful suggestions have been compiled from communication with the experts, our experienced homeschooling families.

Setting up the Classroom

If possible, establish a specific area in your home that can be used for the daily lessons. This can be a spare room, the dining room or kitchen table, or a basement area. Ideally, this space can be used solely for homeschooling purposes so the students associate it as an area for academic instruction. The space should offer storage space, such as a bookcase, good lighting, and few distractions.
A comfortable desk, or other workspace, and chair are important. If homeschooling several children, study carrels are helpful. These can be created by using large cardboard boxes to create partitions that can be folded and put away when not in use. Your child can personalize his carrel by create artwork on the cardboard walls with markers, crayons, or stickers.
Having an easel, flip chart, or chalkboard available can enhance instruction, as well as available wall space for the display of student work, maps, and posters. Access to a globe, a dictionary, other reference materials, and a computer are helpful additions to the academic setting.

Establishing the Rules

In some homes, classroom rules come about naturally. In other homes, parents find they must establish rules. These might include what to wear for class to how to ask questions. If you establish rules, stick to them! For instance, if you are teaching more than one child and he is calling out answers all the time, you might consider having him raise his hand.

Staying Organized

Develop a system for compiling, evaluating, and filing the student's work. Folders or notebooks are used by many experienced home teachers. These can be color coded if working with several children. Your students will quickly learn to look for their personal folder or notebook when an assignment is completed. Use your lesson manual to track your progress and to make notes concerning a need for review or other questions.

Keeping to Task

Let family and friends know when school is in session, keeping interruptions to a minimum and using the answering machine to handle unnecessary telephone calls. If possible, schedule appointments around the school day and resist the temptation to forego lessons for chores and errands. Remember that the decision to homeschool will provide you with more quality family time during, and after, the daily lessons!

For more information about homeschooling, contact Calvert School at 888-487-4652 or visit

© 2003 Calvert School, Inc.

The Start of Your Day: The Lesson Plan (Calvert School)

The lessons you use when homeschooling play a critical role in your success as a teacher and in your child's ability to learn. Although some families assemble their own course materials from a variety of sources, comprehensive lessons that leave no gaps in instruction have important advantages.

Provide Real Lessons, Tested on Real Students
The lessons you select should demonstrate a logical progression, from simple to more difficult concepts. Professional educators should prepare the lessons with home teachers in mind. Each lesson should be tested and proven in an instructional environment with children. It is sometimes surprising to learn a lesson plan that makes sense to an adult will not work with a child. This testing ensures that lessons will be age-appropriate and that your teaching will be effective.

Support Different Learning Styles
The varied learning styles of children-auditory, visual, kinesthetic-should be accounted for within lessons, and charts and other aids should be available to reinforce the contents of lessons. The lessons should provide the student and home teacher with ideas for enrichment and remediation, when necessary. All lessons need to have clear objectives.

Assess Student Comprehension
Lessons should include teaching strategies that allow the parent to gauge the student's understanding. These strategies can include prompts with the appropriate answers, as well as suggestions for discussion to enable the student to grasp new concepts.
Regularly scheduled reviews should be included so the home teacher can evaluate the student's performance and reteach material that remains unclear.

Offer an Integrated Approach
Lessons should be integrated so that the concepts covered in one subject are reinforced in other subjects. This approach encourages the student to relate materials to one another.
A suggested daily schedule, even if not strictly followed, can offer scheduling guidance. A general course summary and a place to write notes or reminders and to document daily progress should be included with the lessons, as well as a helpful list of daily student assignments and materials needed.
In younger grades, materials should be directed to the home teacher. As the student progresses into higher grades, materials should be increasingly directed to the student to encourage self-directed study.

Maximize Your Teaching Time and Results
The ideal lessons guide you through your teaching day, making home instruction easier. The lessons you choose should offer easy access to all the supplementary materials you need, and they should maximize your teaching time with your child.
If you have more questions, please contact Calvert School at 888-487-4652 or go to

© 2003 Calvert School, Inc.

Finding the Roots of Modern Homeschooling (Calvert School)

The basis for the growing modern homeschooling movement can be traced back to Virgil M. Hillyer, who championed the idea of a formal homeschooling program almost a century before its general acceptance.
Hillyer (1875-1931), a Harvard-trained scholar who served as Head Master of the Baltimore, Md.-based Calvert School shortly after its founding in 1897, said: "The nearer to the heart of the home, to the bosom of the family, the richer is the environment, and the nearer the child is to the center of his world."
In 1906, Hillyer convinced a downtown Baltimore bookstore owner to sell copies of his private school's Kindergarten curriculum to families who could not afford a private school education. Hillyer began advertising in National Geographic, and soon his home-school courses were being shipped all over the world.
Nestled in the detailed daily lesson plans was Hillyer's educational philosophy. He believed in the three Rs, calling them the "meaty" part of an education. But Hillyer also had his students, as early as Kindergarten, introduced to science, history, geography, art and music, for he believed that an education had to be well-rounded to ensure his goal of creating "life-long students."
Hillyer always advocated lessons that worked from general to specific. He emphasized constant drilling, and he encouraged teachers to vary their approach to avoid boring students. "Milk may not appeal to many children, but a milkshake always does," Hillyer explained.
He also believed in perfection. No task was complete-be it memorization, a composition, or math work-until it was absolutely perfect, and students who use the modern Calvert curriculum continue that practice.
Virgil Hillyer's vision shaped modern homeschooling and remains an unwavering part of the Calvert School home-school curriculum. What has become known as "the school in the box" has shipped more than 186,000 courses over the last decade, each containing important pieces of Hillyer's philosophy, one that was once revolutionary, but is now widely accepted.

Homeschooling, Like Lessons, Requires Careful Planning (Calvert School)

Every day countless families wrestle with whether to homeschool. When making this important decision for your family, consider the following factors.
Homeschooling takes from 2.5-5 hours a day. Successful homeschooling families structure their days around their lessons. By creating a "schoolroom" within the home, families often quickly establish an atmosphere for learning. Additionally, homeschooling families find that educational opportunities abound in everyday life-such as using math skills while shopping. Still, these families enjoy the freedom to pursue other interests, including travel, performance and athletics.
Home teachers come from all walks of life and education levels. A curriculum prepared specifically for homeschoolers with detailed lesson plans, incorporating activities, assignments and discussion questions, helps make sure families teach the right lessons in the best sequence.
Finding appropriate textbooks, workbooks and other materials can be time-consuming and complicated. Although some families gather their own lessons, many families opt for a complete curriculum to ensure there are no gaps in their children's instruction. Relying on education professionals to find the best educational materials and guide home instruction maximizes teaching time-and gives families the peace of mind that comes when their children excel.
Selecting the right curriculum is critical. Completing a pre-enrollment assessment and working closely with a curriculum provider's educational experts for suggestions on accelerated or remedial work help guarantee a child's success in homeschooling.
Homeschooling is legal throughout the U.S., although state regulations differ. Contact the Home School Legal Defense Association at or call them at 540-338-5600 to learn more about the state homeschooling laws.
For more information at teaching at home, contact Calvert School at 888-487-4652 or visit


© 2003 Calvert School, Inc.


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