Jesus' Precious Little Lambs

A Charlotte Mason Christian Home School: Preschool – 3rd Grade :)

Teaching Children the Bible

….and helping them grow spiritually


Noah 2 Years Old, Reading His Bible

I have read the Bible to Noah since he was a newborn–my Bible, not a children’s Bible. I remember him as a six month old sitting in my lap, chubby hands grasping at the pages, while I instructed him over and over, “Mommy is reading. Let mommy read.” I pushed on, he outgrew that phase, and he remained in my lap through the various challenges of each new developmental stage. We managed by the grace of God, it became easier and easier over time, and to this day Noah will sit with me every morning through a regular adult type and length devotional (bible reading, prayer, and worship) before breakfast. I introduced children’s Bible storybooks along the way (although I never felt like I found the “perfect one”), and eventually read out of the adult Bible with him less than before. I know I haven’t made perfect choices, but these years of shared devotions are my favorite bonding memories……of time spent with my son before the Lord.

I was delighted when Noah at age 2 wanted to pray for Jesus to come into his heart, and how his behavior noticeably changed for the better. However, it has certainly not been all challenge free since then, and issues come up that reflect the still immature state of his heart. “I don’t want to”, “But I am hungry”, and general whining about Bible time have been all I seem to hear from him lately. It PAINS me to hear him complaining and rejecting time with his God, mostly because I want so much more for him. I want spiritual growth–for him to hunger and thirst after righteousness, to actually know that still quiet voice of the Lord for himself, to pray deeply from his spirit rather than his mind, and to be so full of the Holy Spirit that he bubbles over daily with things to tell me about God. Not to mention the even loftier goals of him being filled with the Holy Spirit and having gifts of the Spirit.

The Bible views children with a higher calling than we tend to conceive for our own children. Psalm 8 says, “Through the praise of children and infants the Lord has established a stronghold against our enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” Joel 2:28 says, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” I feel that our dreams for our children don’t need to be small just because our children are small. As I mentioned previously on this blog, we shall raise up Daniels: skillful in all wisdom, discernment, and understanding, apt in learning knowledge, competent to stand and serve in the king’s palace. (Daniel 1:4)

Do you have a mental, or perhaps actual, list of spiritual aspirations for your children? I am sure knowledge of the Bible tops your list, but if you are like me, perhaps you wonder about the effectiveness or thoroughness of your methods for teaching the Bible. God is so faithful because He is continuing to pour knowledge out as I sow it to you, and He is demystifying some things about the spiritual training up of children for me. I am pleased that once again, Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophies are providing sound practical guidance, including the area of Bible study. After too many years of using casual Bible study methods, I am relieved to have more in depth Biblical education methods to work towards with my children! This post is to share some of my own gems of spiritual discoveries, and to add Charlotte Mason’s Bible education wisdom on top of that. I suspect that I may not be the only parent who has a lot of questions about teaching the Bible, as well as questions about how to foster a child’s spiritual growth in general.

Today I blog to have us consider, What goals do we have for our children spiritually, and what will our methods be for getting there? If you have felt a little aimless like me, I hope this post will provide some of the direction you are looking for. Many parents rely on things like picture Bibles and participation in children’s ministry as methods for attaining the goals of a child’s spiritual growth. I challenge you to consider that these things, though good, are not necessarily best. If your goals are high, are your methods equally matched? If we are really honest with ourselves, we may realize that the methods we are using may not be enough to attain our goals.

 The following list analyzes the validity of 6 popular notions held by the vast majority of Christian parents concerning their children’s spiritual growth.

Mediocre vs. Excpetional Catalysts for a Child’s Spiritual Growth:

#1: My Child Will Attend Public School Homeschool and Keep His Faith

Will your children believe in Jesus when they graduate from high school?

Homeschooled: 94%
Public Schooled: 15%

94% of homeschoolers keep the faith and 93% continue to attend church after the high school years. But a shocking 75% to 85% of Christian children sent to public school drop out of church, and do not hold a Christian worldview after high school graduation. (exploringhomeschool.com)

Education is the greatest shaper of worldview. There are wide gaps between the worldviews of Christian children educated by the government and those educated by their parents and/or truly Christian schools. It’s a fact that Christian schools led by Christian faculty often choose not to use entirely (or any!) Bible-based curriculum.

More than 85 percent of Christians in America send their children to government schools. That number is staggering. However, it has been the norm for so long that we fail to see its significance. Imagine if 85 percent of Christians voted. Better yet, imagine if 85 percent of Christians witnessed or tithed or showed up regularly at the churches where their names are on the rolls. I guarantee you there would be headline stories in every Christian publication if any one of those things happened anytime soon. It is almost impossible to get 85 percent of Christians to participate in any single activity. However, a whopping 85 percent make the same educational choice. (kidsinministry.org)

We cannot continue to send our children to Caesar for their education and be surprised when they come home as Romans. More importantly, we cannot continue to use Caesar’s methods in our Christian schools and expect a different outcome. Education is inseparable from discipleship (Luke 6:40). We need to be aware of the consequences of our educational choices.

Keep your child at home and you will be discipling them in the truest sense of the word as you customize their education to an entirely Godly worldview. Homeschoolers are blessed with time to study God’s Word. Historical leaders of the great “evil empires” knew the importance of training up the next generation. Do Christians?

#2: My Child Will Participate in a Thriving Children’s Ministry Family Worship Experience for His Solid Food

Church childcare programs are an altogether modern invention. In the early church of the Bible it can be presumed that children were present when spiritual gifts were being exercised and even practicing them in a very natural way, as part of the body of believers. Whole families came and stayed to partake in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at that time. We must stop feeding our children baby food in our church’s children’s ministry. Children are created to desire the supernatural, and if we don’t don’t lead them towards the the deep things of God, they will search through the darkness and find everything that is not God to fill that void that aches for the supernatural. In my opinion, “high fantasy Harry Potter” type occupations, or even fascinations with superheros like Superman and Spiderman with their superpowers are signs that our kids are trying to fill that void.

Do We Need Children’s Ministry Programs?

My husband and I have started asking Noah if he would rather go into his children’s class or into service with mommy and daddy. I want him participating in what God is doing and speaking in the main service. Plus, I feel that pulling children higher up is a good thing (I think CM would agree). And Noah is learning to sit through the whole service! The way families in church must have toys or edible distractions for all non-puppet moments, underestimates the abilities of our children. Remember, they are image bearers, and they are capable of taking in the best mind food. I especially feel that the strong presence of God present in the adult worship service is something that children should not grow up separated from. How will they learn how to worship if they are never in the worship service? I know the idea of intergenerational services goes against everything most of us are used to, but learn something new with me and read on for a list of reasons supporting family worship. (The following is taken from inrich.org)

  1. Age graded programs are unwise, unnecessary and largely unproductive. Segregating and separating children is both unbiblical and unnatural. When families are referred to in the Scripture, the children are included in the family worship, never otherwise. The secular society has tried to keep kids from their parents. The public education system was influenced heavily by G. Stanley Hall, John Dewey, G.F. Hegel and Rosseau who advocated isolating children from their parents. This has been one of the fundamental problems of the public schools. But these secular ideals must be recognized and resisted on the basis of clear Scriptural teaching on how to raise children. The church needs to strongly resist the anti-christian culture that purposefully or unconsciously attacks the family and biblical values.
  2. The church should lift the standard for both parents and children. Some parents will be “uncomfortable” with the challenge to train their children to listen, to follow through at home (and be held accountable for it!), or with strong preaching on the Scriptural admonitions. We should have high expectations for our children, giving them something to reach for–demonstrating our confidence in their ability to relate to adults and to learn at a higher level.
  3. Intergenerational activities (classes, programs, special events) provide an opportunity for individuals to relate to others of all ages in the natural way they are placed by God in society (church and family) instead of in the unnatural and negative peer structure. These cross-generational groups also furnish ample occasion for the church to follow God’s plan for older women to instruct younger women, for older men to instruct younger men, and for parents to train their children, etc.
  4. Children need to see their parents worshiping God and responding to His Word (preaching and teaching); children worshiped with their parents in the Bible record and this was part of the educational (learning to fear and trust God) experience. Deuteronomy 6 and Psalm 78 state the principles; examples are seen in Deut. 31:10-13, 2 Kings 23:1-3, Neh. 12:43.
  5. Sunday School was not formed originally as a biblically-based and balanced approach to discipleship. In some ways the pattern of the first Sunday Schools would be akin to government subsidized busing “ministries.” In relation to traditional Sunday Schools in most evangelical churches today, one must be careful to evaluate all discipleship programs in light of the core values of the local church. In other words, are we adding more classes or programs because people want something more to do or desire to acquire more information? The questions to ask in reference to the core values is: “what ministry ‘programs’ will have the greatest influence in making mature followers of Christ and thus accomplish our God-given vision for this church?”
  6. The local church needs to be more than “family friendly.” The philosophy of ministry, because of God’s plan for the family, needs to be decidedly based on building family values since that is clearly God’s plan and since strong families are a major component in producing healthy churches.
  7. Having the family-based church leads to effective and fruitful ministries that come naturally from the healthy family. For example, instead of creating artificial or contrived ministry programs, the family – in the context of their relationship to the local church – reaches out to the lost, embraces the “foreigner” (single parent, single adult, church visitor, unsaved individual, etc.), “adopts” newcomers, practices hospitality, and serves together. “HOME” groups can also be structured to include family groups, instead of creating another night out away from family members. The family learns a missionary mentality.
  8. Sundays need to be a family-together experience. Families are already fragmented excessively in American culture. We already spoke of the contrast between “sending away” and “walking along side” in parental education. Deut. 6:6-7 can be experienced on Sunday mornings. Churches can bear the “inconvenience” of having children learn to sit and worship with their parents, giving their parents the opportunity to train (and be with) their kids. See Exodus 10:8-10; Deut. 29:10-13; Psalm 78:1-4 for additional examples of all ages together in corporate worship. Child training can happen on Sundays.

#3 My Child Will Be On Fire as a Result of Salvation Baptism in the Holy Spirit

Zeal for accomplishing God the Father’s purpose was burning in Jesus like an unquenchable fire. How do we get on fire like Jesus? By being filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit. “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire,” said John the Baptist of Jesus. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit visibly descended in holy flame upon the men and women gathered in the Upper Room. “Fan into flame the gift of God which is in you,” Paul urged Timothy about his gift of the Holy Spirit. (2 Tim. 1:6). As much as our children need the Father and the Son, our children need the Holy Spirit to empower them, set them on fire, and give them hope just when they feel they are running low. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a life-changing experience. Cowards become courageous. Peter denied he knew Jesus three times on the day He was crucified, but on the Day of Pentecost Peter stood up like a giant. The fearful become fiery. The worried become bold.

We talk lots about Jesus and tell all his stories, but we also need to tell stories about the work of the Holy Spirit! How can children love someone whose name they haven’t even heard? Right now, in this nation, boys and girls are going to churches where they are taught either nothing or half-truths about the Holy Spirit. How can they keep on, keeping on without the precious Holy Spirit? Spending years in primary education being told the same stories again and again, engaging the head without the heart being touched by the phileo – demonstrated love of the Father (manifestations of the Holy Spirit) – is the cause of a mass exodus out the church door.

If our Lord and Savior worked all of His mighty miracles (resurrecting people from the dead, healing blind eyes, opening deaf ears, and cleansing lepers) as the Holy Spirit anointed His humanity, what is it WE need in the church today? We need the anointing, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And its through the Holy Spirit that we release our children into the supernatural – there is no junior Holy Spirit! It’s exciting to be a Christian! Not meant to be dull and one-dimensional, but to be felt, experienced, laughed, cried, tried and practiced. Learning how to be filled (controlled and empowered) by the Holy Spirit by faith can be the most important discovery of your child’s Christian life.

Why Do We Need the Holy Spirit?

Understanding the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Baptism of the Holy Spirit

As you prepare daily Bible readings for your children you will need to rely heavily on the office of the Holy Spirit as well. Ask the Holy Spirit: what would He have you draw out from the Scriptures tomorrow? Has it breathed life into you as you prepare? Holy Spirit, is there an application you want me to bring to MY children?

#4 My Child’s Will Learn to Pray Effectual Prayers from His Heart the Word of God

The best way to learn to communicate with God is by saying things his way. He wants us to learn a new language. He wants to teach us a new way of thinking. So he gives us a whole vocabulary and new way of thinking: His words. As we learn to declare his words appropriately, a new bond of communication between us and Him develops. The more we do it, the better it gets, and we sense our relationship with the Lord becoming stronger and more passionate . We are like babies learning our parent’s language. One of the signs of growing up in spiritual maturity is how much we pray God’s words.

I John 5:14-15 tells us that if we pray in accordance with His will, which is His Word, and believe that He is hearing us pray His Word, then we will receive answers and results from our prayers. The Bible is full of people praying this way, by quoting other Scriptures. The word of God is alive and powerful. Words being alive is hard to imagine but it is true. God created the world and the universe by SPEAKING. When we speak the Word of God back to Him, we are praying in agreement with what He has already spoken, thereby releasing His power into our lives. Without this power our prayers and lives are empty. So, help your children open their mouths every day to speak God’s own powerful words over their lives, and their prayers will avail much! Speak those things that are not as though they are. (Romans 4:17)

It is very important to memorize God’s word because Jesus has said that the Holy Spirit will bring His word to our remembrance, and this will eventually transform your child’s prayer life. Scriptural prayers prompted by the Holy Spirit are the goal! Don’t leave it up to your church to teach your children their memory verses, the Word of God is mind food that should be fed on all week long at home. Index cards or post-it-notes with scriptures or sections of scriptures can be strategically placed so that we, and our children, may rehearse and quote them frequently. Mirror in the bathroom, dashboard in the car, on the refrigerator, or on an item next to a favorite chair are just a few examples of memory verse placement.

A few examples of scriptural prayers:

— Father let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight … Psalms 19:14a
— I thank you Lord that you order my steps today … Ps. 37:23
— Let my speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that I may know how I ought to answer everyone… Col. 4:6
— I thank you Lord that by your stripes, I am healed… 1Peter 2:24b, 3John: 2.
— Father please give me the spirit of wisdom in every area of my life. Eph. 1:17.
— Help me to know the love of Christ and be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:19
— Please work in me to will and to do your good pleasure. Phil. 2:13

Ever wonder how to keep track of verses you have learned, the verses you want to learn, the verse you are learning, plus the verses you need to review? It gets confusing! Simply Charlotte Mason has an effective practical system that makes all this possible. Here is their very Organized System to Scripture Memorization.

Goal #5 My Child Will Know the Word of God by Reading a Picture Bible Diligent Scholarly Bible Study

When Charlotte Mason philosophies and methods are applied to Bible study (and the rest of life), the benefits your children receive during these activities are amplified tremendously. The following are all her thoughts to inspire you to greatness:

Children’s Picture Bible vs. the Bible

How many of us have been on an unending search for the “perfect” children’s Bible, only to find that it may simply not exist? That is me! The Bible is God’s word, and the story book is man’s fallible writing on the subject. The Bible Story Book, can be a weak ‘authority’ for you to feed your soul and your child’s soul from…. so reading from the Bible, and a story book would be better. Or just read the Bible. Bible Story books can be useful tools, but tools are only tools, they are not the best food…… (you can read about feeding your child’s mind the best mind food here under “Living Books”)

One truly does not need to water down the word of God ‘to a child’s level’. When listening to the same story, the child will not glean the same depths as a great theologian, but he will receive his milk, and in time his own meat from the same Biblical literature which is a banquet for the theologian. Our wise and omniscient Lord does indeed know which foods to offer to each child from the Biblical literature which He has provided for us all.

If you choose to use a children’s story Bible, this one is one of the few storybooks that accurately retells, and includes over 200 stories told in simple language.

King James, NIV, or what?

Which Bible translation is best for my child? The proliferation of Bible versions in the past few decades places today’s parents among the first generation in almost 400 years wherein most have never read the King James Bible. In pursuing a literary education, will one version stretch our children’s thinking skills, and elevate their ability to understand works of classic literature, better than another version? Yes, the King James Version.

The KJV was penned at the pinnacle of English writing style, and it served as a common fount of influence for classic authors for over three hundred years. Most of the classic literature, the living books, Charlotte Mason students study in homeschool were written by authors intimately familiar with the King James Bible. The result? Its influence is inextricably woven into their works, informing their phrasings, illuminating their expression, and burying treasure chests of meaning beneath the surface of their words. Those great minds of between roughly 1611 and 1930, the pinnacle of English writing style, are the backbone, breath and muscle of the books employed in advanced literary curriculums. These are the minds daily appealing to your child’s mind, whose great thoughts and ideas your child is continuously narrating and absorbing. And the majority of those authors share the KJV as a common fount of thought, tone, ideas, construction, phrasings and references. Therefore, as your children become more familiar with the KJV, they will also become increasingly more at ease with an expansive body of great literary works. It’s like having the map to buried treasures. For these reasons, the KJV stands alone as being uniquely suited to serve as our “prime spine” in a classic literary curriculum.

The way children encounter information today is changing. As image-based information becomes more prevalent, our cultural mastery of language is eroding. In response, modern schools move toward materials and methods that are more image-based, and less language-based, than those used in the past. But the great teachers of the past knew something so simple it’s profound: wrestling with rich language develops a strong, agile mind.Their master tool was a literary curriculum, which is inherently language-based. Studies now confirm what they knew by instinct: whereas images are largely passively received and require minimal exercise of the brain, grappling with language requires the mind to work, flex, expand, and make connections. Classic books are steadily moving beyond the grasp of modern readers. A widening language chasm cruelly threatens to separate us from our own cultural treasures.

But what if your children are already accustomed to a more recent version? Is it too late to get comfortable with the KJV? Any exposure is better than none. The younger the better, since language is assimilated with more ease at early ages. But even if your children are older, don’t despair. Once children begin to hear the KJV read regularly, it’s just a matter of time before the strangeness fades and the language rings familiar. A few ideas to help you ease the transition from a recent version to the KJV:

www.amblesideonline.org/WhyKJV.shtml

Teaching Your Children the Bible Should Grow You

This was key information for me. Charlotte Mason said parents should stop waiting around for the perfect Picture Bible storybook, and tell the Bible stories themselves. Consider sharing the Bible stories from your own telling, especially if your own children are young. If you really learn the stories well enough to do that, it means that God is using the whole process to help those stories become a part of your heart. If you can narrate each story that you prepare for your precious 3 1/2 yo, and with His gentle, gracious love, do so in a meaningful way, then you have meditated on the Word in such a way that you have accessed a rich and edifying power for your own life. The stories will become real and more alive in your own life. When those stories become alive in your heart, it adds to the telling to your child. This builds you both up powerfully in preparation for guiding him through the years.

This bit of advice resonates with me so much!! I finally realized that this is the answer to my long search for the perfect children’s Bible, and is what more truly aligns with my beliefs that “whatever comes from you, is part of you, brought out to fill a need, is the most effective and strangely satisfying way to provide” (from my post Simple At Home Preschool). Whatever you teach, you do not forget. If it is our aim to really learn the Word of God, should we consistently rely on children’s Bibles, or rather the story fleshed out of our own hearts by our own telling? Could this be one reason God gives us children–so that we may really learn His Word? The light finally went on for me on how to correctly approach teaching my children the Bible!!

With no pictures to look at, you and your child will connect more deeply during Bible story time as he looks into your eyes while you tell the story yourself. No pictures also has the side benefit of strengthening a child’s powers of imagination. “All little children, more or less, have this power of imagination while they are young, some far more than others. What is wanted for success, is the getting hold of it early, by encouraging the putting into words of the rambling and meditative little thoughts, sometimes exquisite in their poetry and simplicity. Now a Mother (or a Father) has a better chance of doing this than anyone else. She can get the children round her early in the morning when their thoughts are clearest and brightest. She has them earlier of all, before shyness of their fellows closes their lips, and custom stops their “wonderings.”” –Charlotte Mason

Which Bible Stories?

Share the stories that you feel are worthwhile for your child to know according to his or her maturity. Here is a listing of the ‘main’ stories in the Bible in chronological order:

www.biblegateway.com/resources/readingplans/chronological.php

Old or New Testament?

Read the Old Testament as well as the New Testament because creation and the establishment of the Israel nation which was God’s chosen way of providing Salvation through Christ is foundational understanding of our faith that must be learned from the Old Testament. Psalms and Proverbs are good to read on a regular basis. For a sample schedule, you could do OT and NT weekday readings, and Psalms and Proverbs weekend readings.

 Classical Art to Illustrate Bible Stories

Using great art to illustrate Bible stories was an integral part of a Charlotte Mason approach to the Bible. This is another reason many picture Bibles are not the best mind food. Cartoon pictures are “twaddle” for children’s minds. Exposure to art of the great masters will cultivate the type of appetite we want our children to have for art. The more children look at cartoon pictures, the more they will expect and want cartoons rather than real art. Just keep in mind that classical artists often used nudes and that not all art illustrates Biblical stories totally in keeping with the Biblical account – so use discretion in line with your convictions. This is one extensive listing of online art related to the Bible. It is listed by scripture in order of scripture.

www.biblical-art.com

The Bible Comes Alive with Historical Studies

Want to know more about life in the Middle East in biblical times? Want to know what type of wood might have been used in the Ark? Or what mountain range Ararat belongs to? Do you know that manna grew on trees? Studying Bible history is so interesting! Making remarks about geography or customs makes the scriptures come alive as the Bible can not be fully understood apart from this background information. Extensive Bible history information can be found here:

www.bible-history.com

If you want to start with something simpler and already ‘done for you’, this Bible would be a good start. Maps and color photographs of artifacts, plants, biblical places, animals, people, and architecture are all here in this children’s Bible.

A Child’s Geography of the Holy Land would also help make Bible geography come alive for your Bible scholar.

Your children should often find the places (on the map) that they will be ‘visiting’ through their upcoming reading. And they should know where those places are, relative to other places. The young scholar should even learn to give parallels and meridians. (Perhaps learning the skills to do this would be explored outside of the Bible lesson, but such skills can be incorporated into the Bible lesson once the student is able.) Maps can be found online here:

www.ntgateway.com/maps.htm

www.painsley.org.uk/re/Atlas/default.htm

www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/index.html

Vocabulary Preparation Makes Reading Comprehendable

Miss Mason taught that previewing new vocabulary prior to the reading allows the reading to speak for itself and for each reading to enter the child’s mind uninterrupted. If you take time for this, you can simply pre-read and lightly underline words so you will be prepared to informally introduce them prior to the reading (writing them on the board is a plus to consider). Which dictionary is on your shelf? The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary was written with the Bible as its foundation of definitions. It’s Biblical references and insightful definitions contrast significantly at times with today’s dictionary entries. Our modern English language is secularized and therefore the modern dictionary won’t be a fountain of truth. As time permits, looking up words in The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary can prove more than useful.

http://1828.mshaffer.com/

Narration Helps Retention and Assimilation of Ideas

Asking for a narration during or after every reading helps the child’s mind attend more fully. Begin by having your child tell back the story. If this is difficult, read only one sentence at a time, and ask him to tell you about each sentence in turn. Lengthen the amount you read between narrations as his ability to attend and organize his thoughts increases.

Miss Mason on narrations: http://amblesideonline.org/CM/1_5c.html

It is desirable at times to ask questions in order to emphasize certain points. But one must be certain that these are asked after and not before the narration. The process of question and answer must not smother the lesson. After the narration session is completed, the teacher occasionally elucidates, sums up, or enlarges. She discusses new thoughts of God, and new points of behavior more as a matter of reverent implications, than as attempts which man must undertake to achieve God’s standards. On a few occasions, as with introductions to readings, there might even be a bit of a lecture. 

Book of Centuries Place Events In Time

After the lessons, the teacher directs the children in entering Biblical history into their own books of the centuries, i.e. a timeline. Noting approximate dates of events into a Book of the Centuries was not something Miss Mason recommended with children until they were perhaps 9 or 10 years of age, but if it is done without pressure, and there is time, it has proven valuable to quite a few families to begin sooner than that.

Here’s an easy to print book of the centuries online:

www.simplycharlottemason.com/timesavers/book-of-centuries/

Or consider a different format

www.homeschoolinthewoods.com/HTTA/TimelineHelps/

For other directions for making your own timeline try here:

www.donnayoung.org

Goal #6: My Child Will Join in Timeless Worship with Chris Tomlin Hymns

Hyms or Modern Choruses?

Modern worship music is moving and sincere. It certainly has an important place in the lives of our children. However, many of us shun hymns altogether as stodgy, traditional, and too old fashioned. I urge you to consider bringing hymns back into your home for their literary beauty, and you may find that they are the mind food that enhances your worship experience. Many contemporary music artist are returning to the older texts, and sometimes also the tunes (but not necessarily the sounds of traditional hymns), which is great! Even if you prefer to sing modern praise choruses, your faith will be strengthened by studying the words of the hymns. Many of them are rich in theology and Biblical truth. If we have a limited view of who God is and what the gospel is, our experience of it will be limited as well. And hymns remain a part of our Christian heritage. What a shame to lose that history through neglect. Young people are returning to the songs of their grandmothers as they are finding them to be richly satisfying in a different way than modern choruses. One college student said this about hymns:

Coming from a typical praise chorus reliant
high school youth group . . .
I didn’t understand a lot of the poetic
and imagery-driven lyrics, and the
word hymn automatically meant boring
music. But I found myself falling
in love with the old hymns. . . . The
words are so profound and full of
truth one can’t help but be broken. Singing hymns
has seriously changed my life and freed me from
feeling frustrated by surface lyrics that focus on
how I feel about God, which is always changing.
Hymns have allowed me to center my worship on
the Gospel, which in turn compels me to love the
God I am prone to hate and wander from.

I personally love the idea of hymns because they provide solid sustenance for my children to grow upon. Modern worship music is so transient, one day a song is popular, the next its not. You can not count on hearing a song that you loved today in your church’s worship service 5 years from now. For children, this means they have no storehouse of worship to draw upon as they grow. Worship now days changes so much and so fast that my spirit mostly only retains what I remember learning as a child (some are hymns, some were just songs sung repeatedly). Again and again, these songs I learned long ago, are what come up inside me when I need something to hold me through stormy feelings. They are even what I pull up in devotion time or spontaneously throughout the day to teach my own children. They are what stay with me. Give your child hymns, and give him something to hold onto through the years. Let some of the songs you sing now with your 3 year old in family devotions be some of the same ones that are sung at home when he is 18. Worship need not be static, but it should also be about legacy.

FYI, Miss Mason did not necessarily choose hymns in light of Bible readings. However, you might decide you would like to pair an easy match like Let All Things Now Living, for instance, with study of either creation, Thanksgiving, or Israel’s Exodus.

Help for Hymn Study:

www.squidoo.com/hymn-study

www.songsandhymns.org

simplycharlottemason.com/planning/scmguide/hymn

God bless you as you seize this window of time to disciple your child for the glory of God!

If you are not a Christian, or not sure where you stand right now with the Lord, you can choose to start life with God today.

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Teaching Children the Bible

….and helping them grow spiritually


Noah 2 Years Old, Reading His Bible

I have read the Bible to Noah since he was a newborn–my Bible, not a children’s Bible. I remember him as a six month old sitting in my lap, chubby hands grasping at the pages, while I instructed him over and over, “Mommy is reading. Let mommy read.” I pushed on, he outgrew that phase, and he remained in my lap through the various challenges of each new developmental stage. We managed by the grace of God, it became easier and easier over time, and to this day Noah will sit with me every morning through a regular adult type and length devotional (bible reading, prayer, and worship) before breakfast. I introduced children’s Bible storybooks along the way (although I never felt like I found the “perfect one”), and eventually read out of the adult Bible with him less than before. I know I haven’t made perfect choices, but these years of shared devotions are my favorite bonding memories……of time spent with my son before the Lord.

I was delighted when Noah at age 2 wanted to pray for Jesus to come into his heart, and how his behavior noticeably changed for the better. However, it has certainly not been all challenge free since then, and issues come up that reflect the still immature state of his heart. “I don’t want to”, “But I am hungry”, and general whining about Bible time have been all I seem to hear from him lately. It PAINS me to hear him complaining and rejecting time with his God, mostly because I want so much more for him. I want spiritual growth–for him to hunger and thirst after righteousness, to actually know that still quiet voice of the Lord for himself, to pray deeply from his spirit rather than his mind, and to be so full of the Holy Spirit that he bubbles over daily with things to tell me about God. Not to mention the even loftier goals of him being filled with the Holy Spirit and having gifts of the Spirit.

The Bible views children with a higher calling than we tend to conceive for our own children. Psalm 8 says, “Through the praise of children and infants the Lord has established a stronghold against our enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” Joel 2:28 says, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” I feel that our dreams for our children don’t need to be small just because our children are small. As I mentioned previously on this blog, we shall raise up Daniels: skillful in all wisdom, discernment, and understanding, apt in learning knowledge, competent to stand and serve in the king’s palace. (Daniel 1:4)

Do you have a mental, or perhaps actual, list of spiritual aspirations for your children? I am sure knowledge of the Bible tops your list, but if you are like me, perhaps you wonder about the effectiveness or thoroughness of your methods for teaching the Bible. God is so faithful because He is continuing to pour knowledge out as I sow it to you, and He is demystifying some things about the spiritual training up of children for me. I am pleased that once again, Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophies are providing sound practical guidance, including the area of Bible study. After too many years of using casual Bible study methods, I am relieved to have more in depth Biblical education methods to work towards with my children! This post is to share some of my own gems of spiritual discoveries, and to add Charlotte Mason’s Bible education wisdom on top of that. I suspect that I may not be the only parent who has a lot of questions about teaching the Bible, as well as questions about how to foster a child’s spiritual growth in general.

Today I blog to have us consider, What goals do we have for our children spiritually, and what will our methods be for getting there? If you have felt a little aimless like me, I hope this post will provide some of the direction you are looking for. Many parents rely on things like picture Bibles and participation in children’s ministry as methods for attaining the goals of a child’s spiritual growth. I challenge you to consider that these things, though good, are not necessarily best. If your goals are high, are your methods equally matched? If we are really honest with ourselves, we may realize that the methods we are using may not be enough to attain our goals.

 The following list analyzes the validity of 6 popular notions held by the vast majority of Christian parents concerning their children’s spiritual growth.

Mediocre vs. Excpetional Catalysts for a Child’s Spiritual Growth:

#1: My Child Will Attend Public School Homeschool and Keep His Faith

Will your children believe in Jesus when they graduate from high school?

Homeschooled: 94%
Public Schooled: 15%

94% of homeschoolers keep the faith and 93% continue to attend church after the high school years. But a shocking 75% to 85% of Christian children sent to public school drop out of church, and do not hold a Christian worldview after high school graduation. (exploringhomeschool.com)

Education is the greatest shaper of worldview. There are wide gaps between the worldviews of Christian children educated by the government and those educated by their parents and/or truly Christian schools. It’s a fact that Christian schools led by Christian faculty often choose not to use entirely (or any!) Bible-based curriculum.

More than 85 percent of Christians in America send their children to government schools. That number is staggering. However, it has been the norm for so long that we fail to see its significance. Imagine if 85 percent of Christians voted. Better yet, imagine if 85 percent of Christians witnessed or tithed or showed up regularly at the churches where their names are on the rolls. I guarantee you there would be headline stories in every Christian publication if any one of those things happened anytime soon. It is almost impossible to get 85 percent of Christians to participate in any single activity. However, a whopping 85 percent make the same educational choice. (kidsinministry.org)

We cannot continue to send our children to Caesar for their education and be surprised when they come home as Romans. More importantly, we cannot continue to use Caesar’s methods in our Christian schools and expect a different outcome. Education is inseparable from discipleship (Luke 6:40). We need to be aware of the consequences of our educational choices.

Keep your child at home and you will be discipling them in the truest sense of the word as you customize their education to an entirely Godly worldview. Homeschoolers are blessed with time to study God’s Word. Historical leaders of the great “evil empires” knew the importance of training up the next generation. Do Christians?

#2: My Child Will Participate in a Thriving Children’s Ministry Family Worship Experience for His Solid Food

Church childcare programs are an altogether modern invention. In the early church of the Bible it can be presumed that children were present when spiritual gifts were being exercised and even practicing them in a very natural way, as part of the body of believers. Whole families came and stayed to partake in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at that time. We must stop feeding our children baby food in our church’s children’s ministry. Children are created to desire the supernatural, and if we don’t don’t lead them towards the the deep things of God, they will search through the darkness and find everything that is not God to fill that void that aches for the supernatural. In my opinion, “high fantasy Harry Potter” type occupations, or even fascinations with superheros like Superman and Spiderman with their superpowers are signs that our kids are trying to fill that void.

Do We Need Children’s Ministry Programs?

My husband and I have started asking Noah if he would rather go into his children’s class or into service with mommy and daddy. I want him participating in what God is doing and speaking in the main service. Plus, I feel that pulling children higher up is a good thing (I think CM would agree). And Noah is learning to sit through the whole service! The way families in church must have toys or edible distractions for all non-puppet moments, underestimates the abilities of our children. Remember, they are image bearers, and they are capable of taking in the best mind food. I especially feel that the strong presence of God present in the adult worship service is something that children should not grow up separated from. How will they learn how to worship if they are never in the worship service? I know the idea of intergenerational services goes against everything most of us are used to, but learn something new with me and read on for a list of reasons supporting family worship. (The following is taken from inrich.org)

  1. Age graded programs are unwise, unnecessary and largely unproductive. Segregating and separating children is both unbiblical and unnatural. When families are referred to in the Scripture, the children are included in the family worship, never otherwise. The secular society has tried to keep kids from their parents. The public education system was influenced heavily by G. Stanley Hall, John Dewey, G.F. Hegel and Rosseau who advocated isolating children from their parents. This has been one of the fundamental problems of the public schools. But these secular ideals must be recognized and resisted on the basis of clear Scriptural teaching on how to raise children. The church needs to strongly resist the anti-christian culture that purposefully or unconsciously attacks the family and biblical values.
  2. The church should lift the standard for both parents and children. Some parents will be “uncomfortable” with the challenge to train their children to listen, to follow through at home (and be held accountable for it!), or with strong preaching on the Scriptural admonitions. We should have high expectations for our children, giving them something to reach for–demonstrating our confidence in their ability to relate to adults and to learn at a higher level.
  3. Intergenerational activities (classes, programs, special events) provide an opportunity for individuals to relate to others of all ages in the natural way they are placed by God in society (church and family) instead of in the unnatural and negative peer structure. These cross-generational groups also furnish ample occasion for the church to follow God’s plan for older women to instruct younger women, for older men to instruct younger men, and for parents to train their children, etc.
  4. Children need to see their parents worshiping God and responding to His Word (preaching and teaching); children worshiped with their parents in the Bible record and this was part of the educational (learning to fear and trust God) experience. Deuteronomy 6 and Psalm 78 state the principles; examples are seen in Deut. 31:10-13, 2 Kings 23:1-3, Neh. 12:43.
  5. Sunday School was not formed originally as a biblically-based and balanced approach to discipleship. In some ways the pattern of the first Sunday Schools would be akin to government subsidized busing “ministries.” In relation to traditional Sunday Schools in most evangelical churches today, one must be careful to evaluate all discipleship programs in light of the core values of the local church. In other words, are we adding more classes or programs because people want something more to do or desire to acquire more information? The questions to ask in reference to the core values is: “what ministry ‘programs’ will have the greatest influence in making mature followers of Christ and thus accomplish our God-given vision for this church?”
  6. The local church needs to be more than “family friendly.” The philosophy of ministry, because of God’s plan for the family, needs to be decidedly based on building family values since that is clearly God’s plan and since strong families are a major component in producing healthy churches.
  7. Having the family-based church leads to effective and fruitful ministries that come naturally from the healthy family. For example, instead of creating artificial or contrived ministry programs, the family – in the context of their relationship to the local church – reaches out to the lost, embraces the “foreigner” (single parent, single adult, church visitor, unsaved individual, etc.), “adopts” newcomers, practices hospitality, and serves together. “HOME” groups can also be structured to include family groups, instead of creating another night out away from family members. The family learns a missionary mentality.
  8. Sundays need to be a family-together experience. Families are already fragmented excessively in American culture. We already spoke of the contrast between “sending away” and “walking along side” in parental education. Deut. 6:6-7 can be experienced on Sunday mornings. Churches can bear the “inconvenience” of having children learn to sit and worship with their parents, giving their parents the opportunity to train (and be with) their kids. See Exodus 10:8-10; Deut. 29:10-13; Psalm 78:1-4 for additional examples of all ages together in corporate worship. Child training can happen on Sundays.

#3 My Child Will Be On Fire as a Result of Salvation Baptism in the Holy Spirit

Zeal for accomplishing God the Father’s purpose was burning in Jesus like an unquenchable fire. How do we get on fire like Jesus? By being filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit. “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire,” said John the Baptist of Jesus. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit visibly descended in holy flame upon the men and women gathered in the Upper Room. “Fan into flame the gift of God which is in you,” Paul urged Timothy about his gift of the Holy Spirit. (2 Tim. 1:6). As much as our children need the Father and the Son, our children need the Holy Spirit to empower them, set them on fire, and give them hope just when they feel they are running low. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a life-changing experience. Cowards become courageous. Peter denied he knew Jesus three times on the day He was crucified, but on the Day of Pentecost Peter stood up like a giant. The fearful become fiery. The worried become bold.

We talk lots about Jesus and tell all his stories, but we also need to tell stories about the work of the Holy Spirit! How can children love someone whose name they haven’t even heard? Right now, in this nation, boys and girls are going to churches where they are taught either nothing or half-truths about the Holy Spirit. How can they keep on, keeping on without the precious Holy Spirit? Spending years in primary education being told the same stories again and again, engaging the head without the heart being touched by the phileo – demonstrated love of the Father (manifestations of the Holy Spirit) – is the cause of a mass exodus out the church door.

If our Lord and Savior worked all of His mighty miracles (resurrecting people from the dead, healing blind eyes, opening deaf ears, and cleansing lepers) as the Holy Spirit anointed His humanity, what is it WE need in the church today? We need the anointing, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And its through the Holy Spirit that we release our children into the supernatural – there is no junior Holy Spirit! It’s exciting to be a Christian! Not meant to be dull and one-dimensional, but to be felt, experienced, laughed, cried, tried and practiced. Learning how to be filled (controlled and empowered) by the Holy Spirit by faith can be the most important discovery of your child’s Christian life.

Why Do We Need the Holy Spirit?

Understanding the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Baptism of the Holy Spirit

As you prepare daily Bible readings for your children you will need to rely heavily on the office of the Holy Spirit as well. Ask the Holy Spirit: what would He have you draw out from the Scriptures tomorrow? Has it breathed life into you as you prepare? Holy Spirit, is there an application you want me to bring to MY children?

#4 My Child’s Will Learn to Pray Effectual Prayers from His Heart the Word of God

The best way to learn to communicate with God is by saying things his way. He wants us to learn a new language. He wants to teach us a new way of thinking. So he gives us a whole vocabulary and new way of thinking: His words. As we learn to declare his words appropriately, a new bond of communication between us and Him develops. The more we do it, the better it gets, and we sense our relationship with the Lord becoming stronger and more passionate . We are like babies learning our parent’s language. One of the signs of growing up in spiritual maturity is how much we pray God’s words.

I John 5:14-15 tells us that if we pray in accordance with His will, which is His Word, and believe that He is hearing us pray His Word, then we will receive answers and results from our prayers. The Bible is full of people praying this way, by quoting other Scriptures. The word of God is alive and powerful. Words being alive is hard to imagine but it is true. God created the world and the universe by SPEAKING. When we speak the Word of God back to Him, we are praying in agreement with what He has already spoken, thereby releasing His power into our lives. Without this power our prayers and lives are empty. So, help your children open their mouths every day to speak God’s own powerful words over their lives, and their prayers will avail much! Speak those things that are not as though they are. (Romans 4:17)

It is very important to memorize God’s word because Jesus has said that the Holy Spirit will bring His word to our remembrance, and this will eventually transform your child’s prayer life. Scriptural prayers prompted by the Holy Spirit are the goal! Don’t leave it up to your church to teach your children their memory verses, the Word of God is mind food that should be fed on all week long at home. Index cards or post-it-notes with scriptures or sections of scriptures can be strategically placed so that we, and our children, may rehearse and quote them frequently. Mirror in the bathroom, dashboard in the car, on the refrigerator, or on an item next to a favorite chair are just a few examples of memory verse placement.

A few examples of scriptural prayers:

— Father let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight … Psalms 19:14a
— I thank you Lord that you order my steps today … Ps. 37:23
— Let my speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that I may know how I ought to answer everyone… Col. 4:6
— I thank you Lord that by your stripes, I am healed… 1Peter 2:24b, 3John: 2.
— Father please give me the spirit of wisdom in every area of my life. Eph. 1:17.
— Help me to know the love of Christ and be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:19
— Please work in me to will and to do your good pleasure. Phil. 2:13

Ever wonder how to keep track of verses you have learned, the verses you want to learn, the verse you are learning, plus the verses you need to review? It gets confusing! Simply Charlotte Mason has an effective practical system that makes all this possible. Here is their very Organized System to Scripture Memorization.

Goal #5 My Child Will Know the Word of God by Reading a Picture Bible Diligent Scholarly Bible Study

When Charlotte Mason philosophies and methods are applied to Bible study (and the rest of life), the benefits your children receive during these activities are amplified tremendously. The following are all her thoughts to inspire you to greatness:

Children’s Picture Bible vs. the Bible

How many of us have been on an unending search for the “perfect” children’s Bible, only to find that it may simply not exist? That is me! The Bible is God’s word, and the story book is man’s fallible writing on the subject. The Bible Story Book, can be a weak ‘authority’ for you to feed your soul and your child’s soul from…. so reading from the Bible, and a story book would be better. Or just read the Bible. Bible Story books can be useful tools, but tools are only tools, they are not the best food…… (you can read about feeding your child’s mind the best mind food here under “Living Books”)

One truly does not need to water down the word of God ‘to a child’s level’. When listening to the same story, the child will not glean the same depths as a great theologian, but he will receive his milk, and in time his own meat from the same Biblical literature which is a banquet for the theologian. Our wise and omniscient Lord does indeed know which foods to offer to each child from the Biblical literature which He has provided for us all.

If you choose to use a children’s story Bible, this one is one of the few storybooks that accurately retells, and includes over 200 stories told in simple language.

King James, NIV, or what?

Which Bible translation is best for my child? The proliferation of Bible versions in the past few decades places today’s parents among the first generation in almost 400 years wherein most have never read the King James Bible. In pursuing a literary education, will one version stretch our children’s thinking skills, and elevate their ability to understand works of classic literature, better than another version? Yes, the King James Version.

The KJV was penned at the pinnacle of English writing style, and it served as a common fount of influence for classic authors for over three hundred years. Most of the classic literature, the living books, Charlotte Mason students study in homeschool were written by authors intimately familiar with the King James Bible. The result? Its influence is inextricably woven into their works, informing their phrasings, illuminating their expression, and burying treasure chests of meaning beneath the surface of their words. Those great minds of between roughly 1611 and 1930, the pinnacle of English writing style, are the backbone, breath and muscle of the books employed in advanced literary curriculums. These are the minds daily appealing to your child’s mind, whose great thoughts and ideas your child is continuously narrating and absorbing. And the majority of those authors share the KJV as a common fount of thought, tone, ideas, construction, phrasings and references. Therefore, as your children become more familiar with the KJV, they will also become increasingly more at ease with an expansive body of great literary works. It’s like having the map to buried treasures. For these reasons, the KJV stands alone as being uniquely suited to serve as our “prime spine” in a classic literary curriculum.

The way children encounter information today is changing. As image-based information becomes more prevalent, our cultural mastery of language is eroding. In response, modern schools move toward materials and methods that are more image-based, and less language-based, than those used in the past. But the great teachers of the past knew something so simple it’s profound: wrestling with rich language develops a strong, agile mind.Their master tool was a literary curriculum, which is inherently language-based. Studies now confirm what they knew by instinct: whereas images are largely passively received and require minimal exercise of the brain, grappling with language requires the mind to work, flex, expand, and make connections. Classic books are steadily moving beyond the grasp of modern readers. A widening language chasm cruelly threatens to separate us from our own cultural treasures.

But what if your children are already accustomed to a more recent version? Is it too late to get comfortable with the KJV? Any exposure is better than none. The younger the better, since language is assimilated with more ease at early ages. But even if your children are older, don’t despair. Once children begin to hear the KJV read regularly, it’s just a matter of time before the strangeness fades and the language rings familiar. A few ideas to help you ease the transition from a recent version to the KJV:

www.amblesideonline.org/WhyKJV.shtml

Teaching Your Children the Bible Should Grow You

This was key information for me. Charlotte Mason said parents should stop waiting around for the perfect Picture Bible storybook, and tell the Bible stories themselves. Consider sharing the Bible stories from your own telling, especially if your own children are young. If you really learn the stories well enough to do that, it means that God is using the whole process to help those stories become a part of your heart. If you can narrate each story that you prepare for your precious 3 1/2 yo, and with His gentle, gracious love, do so in a meaningful way, then you have meditated on the Word in such a way that you have accessed a rich and edifying power for your own life. The stories will become real and more alive in your own life. When those stories become alive in your heart, it adds to the telling to your child. This builds you both up powerfully in preparation for guiding him through the years.

This bit of advice resonates with me so much!! I finally realized that this is the answer to my long search for the perfect children’s Bible, and is what more truly aligns with my beliefs that “whatever comes from you, is part of you, brought out to fill a need, is the most effective and strangely satisfying way to provide” (from my post Simple At Home Preschool). Whatever you teach, you do not forget. If it is our aim to really learn the Word of God, should we consistently rely on children’s Bibles, or rather the story fleshed out of our own hearts by our own telling? Could this be one reason God gives us children–so that we may really learn His Word? The light finally went on for me on how to correctly approach teaching my children the Bible!!

With no pictures to look at, you and your child will connect more deeply during Bible story time as he looks into your eyes while you tell the story yourself. No pictures also has the side benefit of strengthening a child’s powers of imagination. “All little children, more or less, have this power of imagination while they are young, some far more than others. What is wanted for success, is the getting hold of it early, by encouraging the putting into words of the rambling and meditative little thoughts, sometimes exquisite in their poetry and simplicity. Now a Mother (or a Father) has a better chance of doing this than anyone else. She can get the children round her early in the morning when their thoughts are clearest and brightest. She has them earlier of all, before shyness of their fellows closes their lips, and custom stops their “wonderings.”” –Charlotte Mason

Which Bible Stories?

Share the stories that you feel are worthwhile for your child to know according to his or her maturity. Here is a listing of the ‘main’ stories in the Bible in chronological order:

www.biblegateway.com/resources/readingplans/chronological.php

Old or New Testament?

Read the Old Testament as well as the New Testament because creation and the establishment of the Israel nation which was God’s chosen way of providing Salvation through Christ is foundational understanding of our faith that must be learned from the Old Testament. Psalms and Proverbs are good to read on a regular basis. For a sample schedule, you could do OT and NT weekday readings, and Psalms and Proverbs weekend readings.

 Classical Art to Illustrate Bible Stories

Using great art to illustrate Bible stories was an integral part of a Charlotte Mason approach to the Bible. This is another reason many picture Bibles are not the best mind food. Cartoon pictures are “twaddle” for children’s minds. Exposure to art of the great masters will cultivate the type of appetite we want our children to have for art. The more children look at cartoon pictures, the more they will expect and want cartoons rather than real art. Just keep in mind that classical artists often used nudes and that not all art illustrates Biblical stories totally in keeping with the Biblical account – so use discretion in line with your convictions. This is one extensive listing of online art related to the Bible. It is listed by scripture in order of scripture.

www.biblical-art.com

The Bible Comes Alive with Historical Studies

Want to know more about life in the Middle East in biblical times? Want to know what type of wood might have been used in the Ark? Or what mountain range Ararat belongs to? Do you know that manna grew on trees? Studying Bible history is so interesting! Making remarks about geography or customs makes the scriptures come alive as the Bible can not be fully understood apart from this background information. Extensive Bible history information can be found here:

www.bible-history.com

If you want to start with something simpler and already ‘done for you’, this Bible would be a good start. Maps and color photographs of artifacts, plants, biblical places, animals, people, and architecture are all here in this children’s Bible.

A Child’s Geography of the Holy Land would also help make Bible geography come alive for your Bible scholar.

Your children should often find the places (on the map) that they will be ‘visiting’ through their upcoming reading. And they should know where those places are, relative to other places. The young scholar should even learn to give parallels and meridians. (Perhaps learning the skills to do this would be explored outside of the Bible lesson, but such skills can be incorporated into the Bible lesson once the student is able.) Maps can be found online here:

www.ntgateway.com/maps.htm

www.painsley.org.uk/re/Atlas/default.htm

www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/index.html

Vocabulary Preparation Makes Reading Comprehendable

Miss Mason taught that previewing new vocabulary prior to the reading allows the reading to speak for itself and for each reading to enter the child’s mind uninterrupted. If you take time for this, you can simply pre-read and lightly underline words so you will be prepared to informally introduce them prior to the reading (writing them on the board is a plus to consider). Which dictionary is on your shelf? The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary was written with the Bible as its foundation of definitions. It’s Biblical references and insightful definitions contrast significantly at times with today’s dictionary entries. Our modern English language is secularized and therefore the modern dictionary won’t be a fountain of truth. As time permits, looking up words in The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary can prove more than useful.

http://1828.mshaffer.com/

Narration Helps Retention and Assimilation of Ideas

Asking for a narration during or after every reading helps the child’s mind attend more fully. Begin by having your child tell back the story. If this is difficult, read only one sentence at a time, and ask him to tell you about each sentence in turn. Lengthen the amount you read between narrations as his ability to attend and organize his thoughts increases.

Miss Mason on narrations: http://amblesideonline.org/CM/1_5c.html

It is desirable at times to ask questions in order to emphasize certain points. But one must be certain that these are asked after and not before the narration. The process of question and answer must not smother the lesson. After the narration session is completed, the teacher occasionally elucidates, sums up, or enlarges. She discusses new thoughts of God, and new points of behavior more as a matter of reverent implications, than as attempts which man must undertake to achieve God’s standards. On a few occasions, as with introductions to readings, there might even be a bit of a lecture. 

Book of Centuries Place Events In Time

After the lessons, the teacher directs the children in entering Biblical history into their own books of the centuries, i.e. a timeline. Noting approximate dates of events into a Book of the Centuries was not something Miss Mason recommended with children until they were perhaps 9 or 10 years of age, but if it is done without pressure, and there is time, it has proven valuable to quite a few families to begin sooner than that.

Here’s an easy to print book of the centuries online:

www.simplycharlottemason.com/timesavers/book-of-centuries/

Or consider a different format

www.homeschoolinthewoods.com/HTTA/TimelineHelps/

For other directions for making your own timeline try here:

www.donnayoung.org

Goal #6: My Child Will Join in Timeless Worship with Chris Tomlin Hymns

Hyms or Modern Choruses?

Modern worship music is moving and sincere. It certainly has an important place in the lives of our children. However, many of us shun hymns altogether as stodgy, traditional, and too old fashioned. I urge you to consider bringing hymns back into your home for their literary beauty, and you may find that they are the mind food that enhances your worship experience. Many contemporary music artist are returning to the older texts, and sometimes also the tunes (but not necessarily the sounds of traditional hymns), which is great! Even if you prefer to sing modern praise choruses, your faith will be strengthened by studying the words of the hymns. Many of them are rich in theology and Biblical truth. If we have a limited view of who God is and what the gospel is, our experience of it will be limited as well. And hymns remain a part of our Christian heritage. What a shame to lose that history through neglect. Young people are returning to the songs of their grandmothers as they are finding them to be richly satisfying in a different way than modern choruses. One college student said this about hymns:

Coming from a typical praise chorus reliant
high school youth group . . .
I didn’t understand a lot of the poetic
and imagery-driven lyrics, and the
word hymn automatically meant boring
music. But I found myself falling
in love with the old hymns. . . . The
words are so profound and full of
truth one can’t help but be broken. Singing hymns
has seriously changed my life and freed me from
feeling frustrated by surface lyrics that focus on
how I feel about God, which is always changing.
Hymns have allowed me to center my worship on
the Gospel, which in turn compels me to love the
God I am prone to hate and wander from.

I personally love the idea of hymns because they provide solid sustenance for my children to grow upon. Modern worship music is so transient, one day a song is popular, the next its not. You can not count on hearing a song that you loved today in your church’s worship service 5 years from now. For children, this means they have no storehouse of worship to draw upon as they grow. Worship now days changes so much and so fast that my spirit mostly only retains what I remember learning as a child (some are hymns, some were just songs sung repeatedly). Again and again, these songs I learned long ago, are what come up inside me when I need something to hold me through stormy feelings. They are even what I pull up in devotion time or spontaneously throughout the day to teach my own children. They are what stay with me. Give your child hymns, and give him something to hold onto through the years. Let some of the songs you sing now with your 3 year old in family devotions be some of the same ones that are sung at home when he is 18. Worship need not be static, but it should also be about legacy.

FYI, Miss Mason did not necessarily choose hymns in light of Bible readings. However, you might decide you would like to pair an easy match like Let All Things Now Living, for instance, with study of either creation, Thanksgiving, or Israel’s Exodus.

Help for Hymn Study:

www.squidoo.com/hymn-study

www.songsandhymns.org

simplycharlottemason.com/planning/scmguide/hymn

God bless you as you seize this window of time to disciple your child for the glory of God!

If you are not a Christian, or not sure where you stand right now with the Lord, you can choose to start life with God today.

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Nature is for Kids!

Ahhhhh nature, I love it. Remember my post Backyard Naturalists, and how I encouraged you to transform your backyard into a nature oriented play space? And the awesome “Parents guide to nature play” link in that post? Well, summer has proved to be a return to this all important subject of getting kids into nature, and what we as as a family can do to make sure our children are taking in the wild blue yonder and all the earth below. I just know you want the same for your kiddos!

I feel camping is one of the best ways to get children out into the various habitats of nature– the beach, the rivers, the mountains, the forest, the desert. No toys, no play structures, to entertain and distract, just days in the wilderness to become intimately acquainted with the splendor of creation. We went camping recently actually on Mount Diablo, and when we woke up to a chilly foggy morning, it was awe inspiring. The refrain from an old hymn rang out in my spirit, “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Let the earth hear His voice. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice. O come to the Father through Jesus the Son, and give Him the glory, great things He has done.” It was wonderful to be sitting in the midst an uncommon and astounding moment as the fog rolled through the trees. We were moved to express our worship and met together for a morning family devotion. We read a few chapters from the book of Psalms that declare the splendor of creation while we experientially beheld the same all around us on the mountain.

You can see a few pictures of our camping trip and other nature experiences below……BUT this post is really dedicated to sharing what’s firing up our passion to seek out more nature experiences for our children. From breathtaking beaches to amazing mountains to sprawling arboretums–the reasons for these summer excursions have all stemmed from the inspiring words of Charlotte Mason. My post Meet Miss Mason will fill you in on the important background info on this amazing educator from the past.

Time in Nature is the Appropriate Education for Young Children

The first thing that really moved me towards a foundational understanding of the critical role of nature observation in a child’s education was when I read a sample of the book “The Early Years: A Charlotte Mason Preschool Handbook”, sold at SimplyCharlotteMason.com. I was dumbfounded by my lack of true understanding and conviction for keeping the preschool years mostly free of academics, and my still fairly non-committal stance towards the value of young children playing in nature. It wasn’t until I read some of the genius of Charlotte Mason’s words in “The Early Years” that I realized I am actually damaging my son’s future ability to be a good learner by treating academics as the focus, as opposed to treating time (out in nature) learning to be a keen observer as the focus. Before sampling the book, I was thinking, oh that will be a no brainer book I won’t need to buy–I know about the preschool years–and I wasn’t even going to take a peek until some future day when all kinds of time fell on my hands. After reading the large sample provided at SCM.com, I now know its not a fluff book at all! I need to get the book so that I can break my addiction to “school” my preschooler. I need to get the book so that I can reassess the learning methods and environment at Jesus’ Precious Little Lambs. I would consider getting it for yourself as well in order to make the most out of your little one’s young years!

I pulled out some of the information from “The Early Years” book to share with you in hopes that you also may find your family driven to seek out more time in nature. This is what Charlotte Mason has to say about how young children learn in nature:

“My object is to show that the chief function of the child—his business in  the world during the first six or seven years of his life—is to find out all he can,  about whatever comes under his notice, by means of his five senses; that he has an  insatiable appetite for knowledge got in this way; and that, therefore, the endeavour  of his parents should be to put him in the way of making acquaintance freely with  Nature and natural objects” (Vol. 1, p. 96).
 
“A great deal has been said lately about the danger of overpressure, of requiring  too much mental work from a child of tender years. The danger exists; but lies, not in giving the child too much, but in giving him the wrong thing to do, the sort of  work for which the present state of his mental development does not fit him. Who expects a boy in petticoats to lift half a hundredweight? But give the child work  that Nature intended for him, and the quantity he can get through with ease is  practically unlimited. Whoever saw a child tired of seeing, of examining in his own  way, unfamiliar things? This is the sort of mental nourishment for which he has an  unbounded appetite, because it is that food of the mind on which, for the present,  he is meant to grow” (Vol. 1, pp. 66, 67).
 
“For the first five or six years of his life, everything, especially everything in  action, is an object of intelligent curiosity to the child—the street or the field is a  panorama of delight, the shepherd’s dog, the baker’s cart, the man with the barrow,  are full of vivid interest. He has a thousand questions to ask, he wants to know  about everything; he has, in fact, an inordinate appetite for knowledge. We soon  cure all that: we occupy him with books instead of things; we evoke other desires  in place of the desire to know; and we succeed in bringing up the unobservant  man (and more unobservant woman) who discerns no difference between an elm,  a poplar and a lime tree, and misses very much of the joy of living” (Vol. 2, pp.  181, 182).
 
“And this is the process the child should continue for the first few years of his  life. Now is the storing time which should be spent in laying up images of things  familiar. By-and-by he will have to conceive of things he has never seen: how can he  do it except by comparison with things he has seen and knows? By-and-by he will  be called upon to reflect, understand, reason; what material will he have, unless he  has a magazine of facts to go upon? The child who has been made to observe how  high in the heavens the sun is at noon on a summer’s day, how low at noon on a  day in mid-winter, is able to conceive of the great heat of the tropics under a vertical  sun, and to understand that the climate of a place depends greatly upon the mean  height the sun reaches above the horizon” (Vol. 1, p. 66).

Every natural object is part of a whole network of more objects and scientific concepts, so one discovery will lead to more.

 “Now take up a natural object, it does not matter what, and you are studying  one of a group, a member of a series; whatever knowledge you get about it is so  much towards the science which includes all of its kind. Break off an elder twig in  the spring; you notice a ring of wood round a centre of pith, and there you have  at a glance a distinguishing character of a great division of the vegetable world.  You pick up a pebble. Its edges are perfectly smooth and rounded: why? you ask.  It is water-worn, weather-worn. And that little pebble brings you face to face with  disintegration, the force to which, more than to any other, we owe the aspects of the  world which we call picturesque—glen, ravine, valley, hill. It is not necessary that  the child should be told anything about disintegration or dicotyledon, only that he  should observe the wood and pith in the hazel twig, the pleasant roundness of the  pebble; by-and-by he will learn the bearing of the facts with which he is already  familiar—a very different thing from learning the reason why of facts which have  never come under his notice” (Vol. 1, p. 70).

“Now, consider what a culpable waste of intellectual energy it is to shut up a child,blessed with this inordinate capacity for seeing and knowing,within the four walls of a house.” –Charlotte Mason

Nature Study is the Foundation of Science

Its scary to feel like the “dull” person she is describing could be me or you, unobservant to the differences between a poplar, an elm, an oak; worse yet, uninterested in the differences. Do you hear me gulping? What did school do to us? And even more sobering, is this the kind of unobservant child we want to parent through our book focused homes and preschools??

Nature study, i.e. first hand experiences, is the foundation of observation skills upon which all other “book studies”, i.e. second hand experiences, must be built upon. Its ludicrous to study the Rainforest, or anything learned second hand from a book, when a child has no awareness of what is even in his own backyard (firsthand knowledge). It is first hand knowledge that even makes second hand knowledge accessible to a child in the first place. Children who have no sensory experience on which to “hang” concepts will struggle to understand higher level science.

We also have to be so careful that God’s creation is not reduced to something commonplace due to our general ignorance. Another reason Nature Study is so important–worship out of a knowing heart and mind is so much deeper! Charlotte Mason said that science should increase and feed our wonder and delight in the world around us. It should spark our admiration, both at the wonder of creation and the skill and wisdom of the Creator. It should put us on a first name basis, so to speak, with the natural world, which means we must know the names of the inhabitants and their surroundings, and it should introduce us to the laws that order our universe as well as the methods used to make scientific discoveries.

Charlotte Mason wanted students to have a broad base in topics such as botany, astronomy, and physiology, although her curriculum for the younger grades used mostly books on animals and other natural science, in addition to their own observations and collections. Most importantly, science was to be taught as something wonderful in itself, beginning with a sense of reverence for God’s world, rather than starting by tearing things apart. Science should lead to a knowledge of the properties of substances and of the forces in the world around us. This must be first-hand knowledge of the things and forces; not simply knowing about them. It must be obtained by personal experience. Collecting tadpoles, watching butterflies, skipping stones, seeing plants sprout from seeds are sensory experience on which to “hang” higher level science concepts. Charlotte Mason thought that a child’s foundation of first-hand experience should naturally lead to scientific methods of thinking, accurate observation, careful comparison of results, and the formulation of general principles. It should introduce children to a world of absorbing interests that will enlist their sympathy or arouse their enthusiasm, a world of mystery that fascinates with promise of discovery and fuller knowledge, a world of wonder and beauty that we cannot explain, but in which we walk reverently with uncovered head.

Charlotte Mason said science as typically taught “causes history to expire, poetry to die unborn, and religion to faint.”

Many people know little of the natural world because they never take time to observe it. Once our senses are on the alert, though, nature yields treasure after treasure. Every child has an innate interest in nature, but it is the parents’ responsibility to encourage it. Otherwise it will be lost as the child matures into adulthood. According to Charlotte Mason, both mother and child should be able to identify crops growing in their area, common plants, wildflowers, trees (from bark and leaves), insects, and other animals. To that, we will undoubtedly need to study and have reference books on hand.

If you feel serious about educating your child to be an observant person, as I do, consider a homeschool education course developed by Charlotte Mason. Read on to find out how you would actually do Nature Study with your children.

Delving Deeper: How to Do Nature Study

Developing a Nature Study with your kids, pointers for contemplation (Squidoo.com):

Nature Walks

exploring nature with your children

How do you conduct a nature walk? What are you supposed to do during the time outdoors?

What do the children do?

The children are to be “let alone, left to themselves a great deal to take in what they can of the beauty of earth and heavens.” Give them time and space to wonder, grow, watch, see, hear, and touch. During the nature walk, they may sketch and record their observations. In addition they may want to collect small natural treasures in a bag to take home for further study.

If they would like it, the children may take along magnifying glasses, binoculars, nets, and containers for viewing up close and catching small creatures. But don’t encumber them with too many things. Let them be free to explore with open hands most of the time.

What does the parent do?
Miss Mason warned mothers of talking too much during the nature walk. She said that the less spoken the better. Although talk between mother and child is a precious thing, the goal of the nature study is to allow the child to converse directly with Mother Nature. So don’t get in the way with too much active teaching. What is the mother to say during a nature walk? She can direct attention with a “Look at that!” She can name what is being viewed, “That’s a poplar tree.” She can make very brief descriptive comments to direct the children’s attention, “It’s just starting to bud. I see many small, bright green shoots.” And probably most importantly, she should simply voice her admiration in a verbal prayer of praise directly to God, “Father, thank You for this lovely tree bursting forth with new life!”

Charlotte Mason’s Thoughts on Children and the Outdoors

I strongly suggest that you read Charlotte Mason’s original words regarding daily walks outdoors, nature walks, and nature journals. The best place to start is with Home Education. The sections linked below are from Volume 1, Part II titled Out-Of-Door Life For The Children. The effort is worth it!

Out-Of-Door Life For The Children 1st portion
Out-Of-Door Life For The Children 2nd Portion

Last Child In the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

My friend Emily recommended this title by Richard Louv here on the blog, and apparently after doing a little research, I found out it is a must-read incredible book for anyone contemplating nature study.

Handbook of Nature Study

Charlotte Mason said of field guides, “The mother cannot devote herself too much to this kind of reading, not only that she may read tit-bits to her children about matters they have come across, but that she may be able to answer their queries and direct their observations.”

The Handbook of Nature Study is the classic book Charlotte Mason recommended as a nature study resource. Because this book is in the public domain, it is also available as a free online text. This is “the” CM homeschoolers book from which all Nature Study can rely upon.

The Handbook of Nature Study Blog

If you need inspiration and support in beginning your nature study, be sure to visit The Handbook of Nature Study Blog by an experienced homeschool mom. This blog is specifically designed to help homeschoolers implement Charlotte Mason’s nature study ideas and The Handbook of Nature Study into their regular practice. Each week she posts an Outdoor Hour Challenge for families to complete as they have time. She suggest pages to read in the Handbook of Nature Study and then some simple suggestions for you to complete in a few minutes outdoors with your children. (This is great if you are challenged for time. However, Charlotte actually recommended children spend 4-6 hours outdoors everyday in fair weather! I know–a challenge for any modern family.)

Nature Journals

Charlotte Mason encouraged all students to document their nature studies in a nature notebook. The nature notebook, or diary or journal if you like, should be taken outdoors with you on the nature walk so that you can make field sketches on the spot. Also write descriptions of what you see, hear, and feel to supplement the drawings. Of course, you’ll want to document basic information such as date, time, weather conditions, and location. CM suggested using calendars to mark the “firsts:” the first tadpole, the first ripe blackberries, etc. This calendar could be part of the nature journal. Other ideas for nature journals include poetry (either self-composed or copied), leaf or bark rubbings, photographs, hand drawn maps, and even pamphlets found at botanical gardens or museums. This is so personal to you and your style–there is no wrong way to do it.

Mom, you can have your own nature journal too! What a great way to model for your children what you are expecting of them.

This is what a Notebook teaching moment looks like. A sneaky homeschool mom will take advantage of her children’s nature “finds” by occasionally turning them into a lesson of sorts. Working alongside your children and filling out your own Notebook will provide your children with an inspiring example. Allow them to tell about their “finds.” Then see how well you, and they, can draw a picture that resembles the real thing. When the drawing is complete, encourage the children to record their descriptions or “tellings” on the opposite page of the Notebook. During the busy drawing time, I usually keep a nature handbook and field guide open on my lap under the table. I glance down at information that I put into my own words, casually sharing with the children as if I am an uncommonly knowledgeable mother! (Karen Andreola, Practical Homeschooling)

We are trying to help our children develop a spirit of joy and praise, admiring God’s work in creation. Try to avoid criticism unless it is to give helpful suggestions. These Notebooks, in the words of 19th century naturalist Anna Botsford Comstock, “of whatever quality, are precious beyond price to their owners. And why not? For they represent what cannot be bought or sold–personal experience in the happy word of out-of-doors.”

The nature journal’s depth should reflect the age of the child. (The following are general guidelines; You know your child best; tailor your requirements accordingly.)
Young children (5-7) draw what they see; you can write what they narrate orally for descriptions
Middle children (8-10) draw what they see, label their drawings and write their own descriptions.
Older children (11 and up) the above tasks are done in more detail and with more skill; in addition, they look up and document scientific information about the plant or creature and write the Latin name.

A beautiful example of a nature diary: The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady.

Purchasing this book could serve as a source of inspiration if you like her style of nature notebooking.

“All the information your children are gathering in their nature study lessons, and the habits of observation they are acquiring, will form an excellent foundation for their future scientific education. In the meantime let your children consider the lilies of the field and the fowls of the air.” –Karen Andreola

Exploring Habitats in Nature

Making Our Backyard Into a Nature Play Space

Our Camping Trip on Mount Diablo

 Nature Play While Camping Can Be Very Dirty : D

Noah Had SO Much Fun at the Beach (Half Moon Bay)

Standing In the Hole We Dug

 
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This Could Be You

A Beautiful New Homeschool Family

….”I have no desire to homeschool my kids”. These are the very words spoken from my mouth just two months ago! God has such a sense of humor! I now have a blazing passion for homeschool that I had no idea existed within me!  I was happy to send my kids off to public school for their education even though it was a very long day for them and Max (my sweet middle son) would come home most days upset from his day.  I liked many aspects of the school and just thought Max got dealt a bad teacher and next year would be better, I was certain! Garrett (my eldest) liked school and always had a good day and had nothing but good things to say about his class and teacher! I really had no terrible experience to throw us into homeschooling, so our decision to homeschool came from the heart rather than the aforementioned.
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So how did we find our passion to homeschool? This blog! I thank God for Miss Lynn who follows so close to God, is so passionate about her family, who reads and researches tirelessly on this subject and writes on this blog for all who will come, read and be inspired! Or perhaps at the very least it gets you thinking of how you can better teach and parent your children! Before knowing of the amazing book list that Lynn posted, I never would have known about the book “Hold Onto Your Kids” or have any incite into what our kids are really exposed to through peer relationships.  This was a big part of why I wanted to pull my kids back to us and teach them in our home!  I wanted to free them from peer pressure, unhealthy relationships, from being taught watered down literature, memorization of facts, dittos! And lastly not having any zeal for learning! My eyes have been opened to see that with God at the front of our school, my children will grow in Him each day and He will be the center of their world! Which after all is just as important if not more so than the academics they will learn.  We are looking forward to diving into some great books together, cuddled up on the couch on crisp fall mornings, spending our time with one another and them not missing out on any part of each others lives!  I love the thought of them being so close to one another! They will also not miss out on their little baby brothers days as he quickly grows into a toddler.
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I hope each of you continue to gain wisdom and knowledge from this blog! I know I am! “
–Mary McGee
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What a gorgeous family! Look at the holiness emanating from them. You have no idea what an honor it is to see a homeschool family literally birthed into being through the work of God on this simple blog. You have no idea how I hope that you also will see what God can do in your family through homeschool. I pray that God will move on you today to see with eyes that can see and ears that can hear.

Mary, a New Old Friend

“I feel like I have no friends” was my rumination of late. Noah’s friends are going off to preschool and everyone seems to be parting ways. As I focus in through the years on what is really important to me and my family, and how these goals will be accomplished, I find that the road can become lonelier with the “alternative view” choices I am making. From Christianity to health and nutrition to homeschooling–just to name a few–I have hiked so far off the wide and broad mainstream road that it can be hard to find other hikers on my trail anymore. But I would never have it any other way because I think my narrow path is entirely good– its leading me to life!! (Matthew 7:13) Of course friendship is certainly about diversity as well as sameness, but I get wistful for those who would understand my zeal, share in my crucible. My prayer has been that my family doesn’t have to live this life alone, and that God will bring just the right friends along to “do life together”. In the meantime, I was definitely planning on enjoying this alone time with God, because it never fails that these times grow you the most.

However, I knew God had some beautiful plans for my garden of friendships. Suddenly and without warning God revealed his faithfulness with the blossoming of a precious friendship. He brought two moms together who were both really praying for Godly friends! Even though 1,800 miles apart, my friend Mary and I have connected over the miles finding that we have much in common. Its all so uncanny, it could only be God! We knew each other from attending church together for many years in the past where we had a casual friendship between us, but time and distance caused us to eventually become out of touch. Because of my sister Tara’s loyal allegiance to my cause here on the blog, she posts some of my blogs on her facebook page (thank you Tare Bear!). Consequently, a couple months ago Mary came over to my blog and was pleasantly surprised to find out what I have been up to lately with homeschool. She said she was in agreement with what I had been writing about motherhood, and that things I had written blog were speaking to her. I was touched, but I had no idea how much the Lord was dealing with her. If anyone has a strong relationship with her children, I would say it was Mary. But even so the Lord was starting to convict her about being there for her sons more, not letting anyone who didn’t share their values teach her children, and bringing her back to the whole reason she had kids–to raise them up.  Then one day last month she left a shocking comment on my blog: she had decided to homeschool after reading through my Hold Onto Your Kids book reviews! I couldn’t believe that someone was that effected (and yet that is why I was writing them right?), and that God had used the reviews to accomplish what was my highest dream for this sacrifice. Someone’s life was about to really change, and it happened to be my sweet friend miss Mary, her husband Doug, and their 11 month old, 6 year old, and 9 year old boys! I can’t tell you what a blessing this was!

Mary came to visit at my house on her last day of vacation in California, and the two hour conversation was a whirl of homeschool hopes and dreams and fears. The very next day she headed back home to Texas to start homeschooling with not much more than a hopeful decision to guide her. We have been emailing back and forth since then, and so I have been able to witness the initial roller coaster of emotions as well as the miraculous triumphs. She has already had to defend her educational position to a stranger, face the fear of “hurting” a son yearning for his school friends, form a new family vision through lengthy conversations with hubby, pull her kids out of all they knew as school, begin assuming the responsibility of teaching some lessons pronto, work through the loneliness of having no roots or connections in Texas……….and this is not even the full list. Wow, her faith has proven to be a bedrock. I am in complete admiration of your bravery Mary.

After emailing Mary lots of random info to fuel her enthusiasm and get her started in the right direction, there came a big turning point one day last week. Mary emailed, “So with everything you have sent me I am still feeling somewhat (OK, a lot) inadequate, I am so close to just having them go to school again this year….It’s not because I feel it is so much better, but I just don’t know how to teach the major subjects, and keeping them somewhat on track or ahead which is what I would love!!” I gulped as I realized she was hanging in the balance, and needed the RIGHT information fast. Enough with the helpful philosophy books, the online homeschool resources, my recommended curriculum suppliers–she needs a picture of how exactly she can teach subjects day to day in her homeschool. God was directing my own homeschool research so quickly and directly all of a sudden, that I was able to provide some guidance just before it seemed the doors might be closing on Mary’s desire to homeschool. Of course all I had to offer was a seedling vision of how I plan to homeschool my own children during the elementary years, but I had quite a good feeling that what I was finding in this Charlotte Mason education could be a good fit for her too. I told her that a Charlotte Mason education hearkens back to simpler and sweeter times, old fashioned farm life, using hymns instead of “twaddle music”, and even the reproduction of Victorian era children’s literature that has an amazing command of language. It reminds me of living out Little House on the Prairie, doing school like they used to in the old one room school house again I said. That was my romanticized description that I think struck a chord with my fellow homesteading dream friend. I assured her that a Charlotte Mason education is a gentle education, but very comprehensive in the coverage of the academic subjects. I directed her to several links on the Simplycharlottemason.com website, the very best resource I have found for practical step by step homeschool planning.

And then I waited. I was dying to hear how she felt about Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling, that I have come to prize as God’s gift of a true education to all who have eyes to see and ears to hear……….

After spending a whole morning on the Simplycharlottemason.com website, Mary’s next email got right to the point: “I’m in LOVE!……I am hooked!” I was elated.

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I want to share with you the links I gave Mary, that brought her from intimidated to confidant about homeschooling in a matter of hours. My blog has been feeding you a lot of philosophy to strengthen your heart, but now it is time to assess whether your heart is capable of the plunge. You should not be comfortable enrolling your child into school without first having considered and ruled out homeschool for your family.

Please don’t rule out homeschool until you have looked over Simplcharlottemason.com! Its that good. The SCM website holds your hand through each subject of each year of homeschool and makes it all really practical. No guesswork, no wondering how you will cover everything, no worries–its all mapped out for you.

Some of you are saying, “Homeschool? How could I possibly teach my child everything he needs to know?” Take a look at the SCM website and find out that yes, I think I may be able do homeschool, or no, this is an impossibility for me. Some of you are saying, “My child is really struggling with our current method of homeschool!” Maybe its because you are doing charter school, or you are doing a packaged boxed curriculum that is like school at home. Charlotte Mason is really different, really freeing, so give it a chance! This might be what you are looking for. Some of you are saying, “I am pretty happy with what we are using in my homeschool, but I am open to learning about a method that it really effective.” This is for you too!

A simple chart of Charlotte’s methods for teaching each subject
http://simplycharlottemason.com/basics/started/charlotte-mason-method/

A weekly sample schedule
http://simplycharlottemason.com/planning/weekly/typicalweek/

Curriculum Guide
http://simplycharlottemason.com/planning/scmguide/

4 Steps to Get You Started

https://simplycharlottemason.com/how-to-get-started/

Love this quick orientation to Charlotte Mason Homeschooling (quick as opposed to the CM books recommended on my blog)
http://simplycharlottemason.com/books/getting-started/

Here is a great mini e book (and other resources) for forming character developing habits to ensure smooth and easy homeschooling days. Habits are an important part of the Charlotte Mason Education. Its like she thought of everything.
http://simplycharlottemason.com/books/smooth-easy-days-with-charlotte-mason/

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I am REALLY astounded by Charlotte Mason. Every time I go back and look more on the SCM site, I am more hooked and excited. A Charlotte Mason school is like all the things I already love about life–children, books, nature, handicrafts. I love the idea of a diet of good books, I love handicrafts, I love getting out into nature often, I love that there is no testing, I love the wisdom that pours out of every CM quote I read, I love the organization that SCM has put into making it all very practical, I love only school in the morning, I love the old fashioned feel, I love the focus on habits. It feels soooo perfect to me.

Of course, Charlotte Mason is not the only method of homeschooling out there. If what you read doesn’t sound good to you, don’t give up. You just have to find what works best for you. Here is the best comparison of homeschooling methods I have ever found yet online:

http://www.homeschoolmarketplace.com/e-zines/ejournalapr2706.htm

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Hold Onto Your Kids–Book Review Part IV

I have been reading like a fiend!!! I hope you have been doing some reading as well! Although I finished the book Hold Onto Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers quite awhile ago, I want to go back and finish up my review on this book because I think the next batch of information will be helpful to you. Some of you have told me that you are thinking about reading this book now and I am so pleased that my reviews have done their job. : D Hopefully after reading the last 3 reviews on Hold Onto Your Kids, you are convinced of the necessary attached parent-child relationship. Now its time to get to the ‘discipline that does not divide’ part, and what I think is the BEST part of the book, the practical ideas for keeping your children close.

Discipline Methods Need to Preserve Attachment

In our quick fix culture with its focus on short term results, the be-all and the end-all is the behavior itself. If we gain compliance, even if only temporarily, we deem the method successful. Time outs, tough love, 1-2-3 Magic, withdrawl of privileges, according to author Gordon Neufeld, are tactics that can strain the relationship. Yes, children need discipline, but developmentally safe and attachment friendly discipline (Neufeld outlines his seven principles of natural discipline in the book). The current trend in parenting literature is to offer parenting strategies or skills. This is far too definitive and limiting on a task as complex and subtle as parenting. They insult the intelligence of the parent and the child. Relationships don’t lend themselves to strategies. Neufeld believes the fad of timeouts as a means of behavior control makes more problems than it solves. It is effective because it triggers the child’s worst fear–abandonment. Separation would have little impact if closeness was not important to the child. Separation techniques used the relationship against the child. After time out, a well attached child will promise to be good, but only to restore the relationship, not out of genuine understanding or contrition.

So we must consider whether the way we do timeouts really do teach a child a lesson or make him consider the error of his ways. The high cost of playing the separation card is insecurity. Under such conditions the child experiences no release, no rest from the drive to attach, and , therefore, no freedom for the emergence of his individuality and independence, The child will be very “good”, but will also be devoid of emergent energy. The ultimate consequences of that separation technique attacks a young child at his most vulnerable point–his need to stay attached to his parents. Sooner or later the child may protect himself against the pain of being wounded in this way and he will shut down emotionally, or resist contact with the parent.  A child defending himself against the vulnerability of separation may hide under the bed or in the closet and rebuff overtures by the parents for reconciliation. Or in anticipation of trouble, she may run to her room or demand to be left alone. In one way or another, the experience of separation will trigger a child’s instinct to detach from us.

I don’t necessarily agree with all of Neufelds reasoning in the area of discipline because I believe that the Bible is correct in its teaching that children need punishment. What I did take away from Neufeld’s ideas is that I should be drawing Faith and Noah to myself as much as possible when they are acting out before going the separation route. Noah flips out when I try to give him time outs and I find them to be really hard to do with him anyway. I really dislike the effectiveness of timeouts. Timeouts have become time-ins with God here– Bible in hand and prayers of forgiveness on lips. These time-ins go much better. I have noticed that whenever I draw closer in relationship to Noah as opposed to coming down on him harder when he is going through a rough period, things always smooth out.

So I think it is true that connecting, rather than isolating, should be our main go to discipline method. Yah, brother blew up at his sister, but don’t feel like you need to whip out a quick fix discipline strategy. Connect, go on a walk, do an activity together, and then really talk it over together. Discipline is not mere short term compliance, it is a teaching of the heart that really sinks in. A failure to collect a child (bring him emotionally back to you) should be a reminder to us to back off a preoccupation with conduct and to focus our effort and attention on building the relationship. Another similar point Neufeld made helped me–If the force of discipline you are applying is greater than the strength of your attachment relationship, the discipline will backfire. Discipline can only be as effective as the relationship is strong.

Enjoy Your Child

So many things about our culture suck the enjoyment right out of parenting, and yet, our enjoyment of our child is key to feeding our child’s attachment to us. Neufeld believes that “….if we saw the situation clearly, we would realize that in our culture it’s a knock-out-drag-out, no-holds-barred, no-quarter-given, winner-take-all and loser-gets-nuthin’, devil-take-the hindmost struggle for our kids hearts and minds!” Christians know this very well already as we spiritually battle against the “prince of the air”, satan and the demons who rule and dwell in the atmosphere and cultures of the earth (Ephesians 2:2). In today’s culture we have less margin for error than parents ever had before.

How shall we collect or reclaim our children, draw them under our wing, and make sure they want to belong to us and not another? The good news is our God given natures tell us exactly how to do this. Its like a courtship dance. With infants, the antics we go through to secure their attention and their smile is hilarious and obvious. This same idea of wooing and relationship building with an older child needs to be present, usually just less obvious. Smile, use a warm tone, let there be a twinkle in your eye, value her simply for her with no other agendas. Too often, the older children become, the more likely we are to get in their faces only when something goes wrong.When we look at how we speak to our older child, it is usually to get her to do something, teach her something, or somehow change her behavior. How often is it about just being together and enjoying her?

“My Kids Drive Me Crazy!”

A highly insecure child can be exhaustingly demanding of time and attention. “Let me have a break,” is our plea, not more engagement. The conundrum is that attention given at the request of the child is never satisfactory: it leaves an uncertainty that the parent is only responding to demands, not voluntarily giving of herself to the child. The demands only escalate. The solution is to seize the moment when the child is not making a demand. Or express greater enthusiasm than the child expects: “Oh, that’s a great idea. I was wondering how we could spend some time together! I am so glad you thought of that.” Take the child by surprise, make him feel that he is the one receiving the invitation. This is one of my favorite concepts of the book: “The more breaks we take, the less attached children are to us. The irony is that they become more difficult to parent–and therefore the more breaks we need from them!” This to me is one of the saddest conundrums I hear everywhere from parents today: I need regular breaks from my kids in order to enjoy them more.

Collect Your Children; Bring Them to You

As our culture erodes, the structures and rituals that protect family life and the sacredness of the parent-child relationship are also gradually eroded. What are some structures and rituals I can put back into my family to protect our relationships? How do I keep my children under my wing, and wanting to belong with me?

1. Make greetings a priority and a must, just like in Provencal culture. A greeting should collect the eyes, a smile, and a nod. To ignore this step is a costly mistake. We do this with friends and family, whenever Daddy gets home from work, and even when mommy returns from an errand.

2. Give connection before direction (and discipline). Sit down and reestablish a connection with your child (taking just a few seconds to a minute) he is while playing, reading, watching tv, or doing homework before asking him to do something else. “Hi! What are you playing? That looks fun!……Ok buddy, lets get to the table for dinner.” If the attachment is strong, this shouldn’t take long.

3. Properly collect your child in the morning after sleep and this will start the day right. Early morning is cuddle and devotion time here at our house, and it always sets the right tone for the day. Holding a child and eliciting smiles first thing is a most fruitful family custom.

4. Spontaneity, surprise, and initiative are vital to collection. Things that are expected can not collect a child. Birthday gifts or expected rewards are more associated with the situation or event, not with the relationship. Its about conveying spontaneous delight in the child’s very being–not when he is asking for anything, but when he is not.

5. Invite dependance. We push and pull our children in a thousand little ways to grow up, hurrying them along to dress themselves, feed themselves, entertain themselves, solve their own problems–we champion independence. Unwittingly we push their natural need for dependence off of us, and it then transfers to their peers. Can you imagine the effect on wooing another adult in courtship with the message, “Don’t expect me to help you with anything I think you could or  should be able to do yourself”? Yikes. No we are full of let me help you with that, let me give you a hand. This was a lesson for me concerning my tendancy to push my children too much: “Its time you learned to button your own buttons now Noah!”….before he is even really ready. Our job is to look after and not resist our children’s dependance needs, and when we do, nature is free to take care of its job of promoting maturity. Just like the most basic principles of growth in the garden–don’t pull your little plant up to make it mature, or you can endanger his attachment roots and fruitfulness, and cause him to transplant into peer orientation.

6. Act as a child’s compass point. We fail to act as a guide to those who depend on us if we don’t orient them to the world. Older children still need to know what is going to happen, where we will be, what they will be doing, who this person is, what something means, and who they are (their identity). “This is what we are doing today,” “This is where I will be,” “What I have in mind for this evening is, “I would like you to meet so and so,” “Let me show you how this works,” “This is who to ask if you need help,” “You are the kind of girl who….,” “You have a real gift in….,” “I can see you are going to go far with….”

7. Create structures and restrictions. Structures that restrict what would take our children away from us allow us to collect our children. Have rules and restrictions for tv, computer, telephone, video games, and extracurricular activities. The demand for sleepovers and playdates can get out of hand and so restrictions should be placed on peer contact. Structures work preventatively, and so if they are later imposed by force, it can be damaging to the relationship. Determine what your standards are and put structures in place while you still have the power to do so. I encouraged you all in a past post about Holiness to set your standards high because its easier to lower them later than to raise them.

8. Protect Family Outings and Holidays in order to collect your children. This means friends don’t always need to come on your outings, nor should holidays be a way for adults to get a break from kids (by grouping children with children or even going separate ways on holidays).

9. Family Sit-Down Meals are one of the best ways to regularly collect your child. Don’t let anything encroach on this time. We sit down for dinner all together every night and then try not hop up right afterwards.

Parenting is Sacred

Confidence, patience, faith, and warmth–just to name a few traits–are a prerequisite to successfully achieving an attachment relationship with a child. Perhaps this book makes you feel frustrated wondering how can I possibly be all this to my child?? I believe we need Almighty God, designer of relationships, to infuse his supernatural strength into us to do what we can not do naturally on our own. Make sure your relationship with Jesus is strong so He can fill you up with what you need. Then watch how your relationship with Jesus gives you a strong relationship with your child, and see the gift of that strong parent-child relationship translate into a beautiful relationship between your child and his Heavenly Father. There is no greater gift than to lay down one’s life.

Finally, reach out to the hearts of other parents in your community and join with me in fighting against the erosion of the sacred parent-child relationship. Share knowledge that changes your life. And may God protect our families.

Lord God, Master of Relationships, hold onto us so that we can hold onto our children

Sweet Summertime Family Bonding

Our Hugest Sunflower Ever!

Noah Counting Up Our Corn Harvest

……which ended up in the garbage because it was so tough.

Faithy Pigging Out on Plums Off the Orchard Floor at a U-Pick Farm

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