4 Lessons Mommy Gleaned Last Year

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Learning is a lifelong process, one that we all should actively engage in ... Even mommy has a few more lessons she can add to her list of wisdom.

This mom had an exceptionally difficult year during last school year, at least that is what the untrained eye may have observed & deduced.  During all of the illness, rearrangements, disappointed plans and re-prioritizations that last year held for both my family and myself; you may be surprised to know that we are not only contented at the outcome, but also blessed to have learned so much together.

Here are a few lessons that I was personally able to glean from our last school term of home educating:

Teaching at home does not mean teaching my children WHAT to think, but instead HOW one would think in the light of wisdom. 
I will sum this one up with one of my favorite Harper Lee quotes:
"The book to read is not the one which thinks for you, but the one which makes you think. No book in the world equals the Bible for that."
~ Harper Lee

Teaching my children the right way to live DOES.NOT mean I should attempt to control their every action!
We need to learn as a family the right way to live, discuss & reinforce whenever possible and then ... Here is the scary part ... Give our children over into God's most perfect & capable hands!

I need to stop cleaning up every mess!
Allowing life's messes is the perfect classroom for practicing faithful living. I must let my children make.the.wrong.decision!
Now ... I can backup and allow my children the safe environment, that is our home & family; in which to fail, stumble, & falter.
Mistakes are a part of life, and we cannot live in fear of our children making mistakes.  We instead must dedicate ourselves to prayer, asking the LORD to raise our children up to learn His ways, even when they stumble.

Let them learn. Give children the time and room to think & decide on their own. They just may surprise you!

Saying, "no" to others does not make me less of a servant in Christ's kingdom. When serving is a calling from God, then fulfilling that call WILL.NOT cross boundaries that God, Himself has set for your family. What I mean is that saying ,"not right now" or, "no" to people, curricula, extra curricular activities, or cooperatives in order to preserve the vision God has imparted to your family, is both wise & necessary.
... And I am getting much better at it now!

I hope each of you are learning to take these little, and large, lessons from God in your homeschooling, and walk forward knowing that He still has an even better plan than you could imagine.

Joyfully Learning with You,

The Joyful Socks Mom 

Be sure to keep up with Joyful Socks on PinterestTwitter, & Instagram and our IG SHOP

Heather's Highly Recommended Helps: 


Why You Should Give Up On Comparing

Please. Please. Please.
Stop comparing yourself to other moms.
Stop comparing your family to your neighbors.
Stop comparing your child to other children.

I am speaking to myself right now, and any other lady who will stop to listen. This post is especially a plea to the tired homeschool mommy, who is ready for the end-of-term, before the term has even started!

Like the lady in this picture ...

You know who you are, so listen up girl ...
  • Comparisons lie. They are inaccurate and a prison of the mind & ultimately a discouragement to the soul.  Comparisons are unrealistic and unattainable standards imagined in.your.mind.  You know, the "grass is always greener" theology.
  • Comparison is a "yoke of bondage", it serves no purpose in abiding in Christ.  What is even worse, is that comparison is a yoke we, ourselves, have taken up.  Lighten your load dearie.
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." Galatians 5:1
  • Comparison serves no positive means of improving your homeschool, children, marriage or self.  As a matter of opinion, the more you compare, the less you get accomplished in your home, family, marriage and life in-general.
  • Comparing is a tool & method of the world's greatest deceiver, Satan. Stop comparing.  Really, no one wants to believe the oldest trick, or trickster in the book, right?!?  Don't fall for his stuff.
  •  Comparing is a sure way to become discontent and discouraged about YOUR own life.  God intends for us to take whatever He has blessed us with and do good for His glory.  When you are comparing, you are not content with the blessings that are right in front of you.  
Children. Blessing. Check.
Freedom to home educate. Blessing. Check.
Mentors that love me. Blessing. Check.
Husband that protects and provides. Blessing. Check.
Savior Who loves, redeems and helps me. Daily. Blessing. Check.

God does not change. He does not make mistakes. He loves you, your husband and your kids. He has a plan for you.

Yes, you.
Just as He made you.
Just as you are.
Unique. Purpose-filled. And just for you, because He loves you that much. 

Stop comparing.

Go forth and be the bit of different God made you to be.

Joyfully Learning with You,

The Joyful Socks Mom 

Be sure to keep up with Joyful Socks on PinterestTwitter, & Instagram and our IG SHOP
** This post may contain affiliate links.  Thank you for your support. You can read my full disclosure policy here.**

Heather's Highly Recommended Helps: 


6 Ways to Roll with Homeschooling Your Teens

Having teens at home for high school can cause anxiety and doubt in even the grandest of home educators. I have noted lately amongst the homeschool community at large, high school has developed a certain stigma ... Panic ensues! 

Alright folks, let's just breathe please. Keep calm.

Now, repeat after me, "Teens are friends, not food." (like that was a Finding Nemo reference, for the less-than-awesome) Umm, that was a joke.

This is our half-way mark for my two older kids who are both still educating at home.  Let's count them, not one, but two teens who will be entering their Junior year of homeschooled high school. I am overjoyed to report that they are both still alive & well!  I have not run away from home, and we are all mostly liking one another!

I have NOT irreversibly messed up their lives. They are not perfect, and they are still working daily to do this high school-thing with excellence. 
I can do this. They can do this. We can do this. 

Why on earth are you so calm Heather?  You are not usually the calm-collected type of gal!
Look, it boils down to a few simple facts based on the truth of Scripture we SHOULD be attempting to live and walk by daily. 
"Faith talk is all well and good, but faith WALK is how God will really see me through these refining fires of discipleship training in my  children during the teen years."
I know I am enough. I know I can, since I am their mom & God called me to this walk. I trust that He hasn't made a mistake and that no matter the age or stage of my children .... God is STILL on the throne, and prayer STILL changes things. 

On top of above stated knowledge, I am pleased to report I have learned a few things about having homeschooled high school students so far. Yes, I still  have many lessons to go, but here are a few that may help you:

Listen to your teen without commenting
Or, inserting your opinion all.the.time., or immediately sizing up the situation, or just nagging them to almost a comatose state.  Distance, cool-off time and prayer make a HUGE difference in outcomes with teen communications.

Validate your teen. 
This is just a difficult time in life.  Don't you remember?  All the self-doubt, confusion, conflicting messages, etc. etc. etc.  Validate their concerns & feelings and let them know that YOU KNOW it is hard growing up, but you believe in God seeing them through it all.  Help them to discover their purpose and calling. (that means letting them explore, not take on YOUR calling for them...ouch!)  Encourage them to pursue new interests.  
Just be kind-of awesome, K?!?

Take any & every opportunity to let them know they are accepted & loved, exactly as God made them.
"I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." Psalm 139:14 (NKJV)
Reassure your teen that mistakes are expected, and we must try our best to learn from our mistakes.  
Our culture has attempted to shift our children's thinking.  The society we live in, for the most part, tries to communicate to our kids that discipline and consequences are bad.  Reassure your children with scripture that shows people who REALLY MESSED UP (like, almost the entire Old Testament) and God still used those people, shaped those people, saved those people, redeemed those ... loved those people.  Pray that your children will learn quickly from their mistakes ... oh, and yours'.
"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles' they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)

Allow them time & space to fail. 
Allow your teen to deal with consequences, then encourage them to dust themselves off & try again.  Please don't do the hovering helicopter mom thing.  Don't argue with me, just let them pick up their OWN mess!

Give them opportunity to be themselves by exploring subjects NOT on your high school to-do list.
I learned this little gem at last year's Homeschool Mom's Winter Summit, and it has changed me.  I must allow God to renew & restore the vision for home education that He gave to my husband and myself.  Stop being so busy in "meeting a requirement" or "prepping for the SAT" that I forget to live life with them.  Be their mother.  Let them discover what path God will take them down.  Draw them nearer to Christ.

I fervently believe that living with and home educating teens is just one more of the magnificent and mysterious ways that the LORD does His sanctifying, humbling, drawing-us-nearer-to-Him kind-of-work.

I say this work is the LORD's and not mine, this ensures He receives the glory.
I say this season is making me search, strive and depend on Christ alone.
I say this moment raising teens is keeping my pride sufficiently swallowed and my hope totally in Jesus. 

I say that, if this is what it takes to abide in you Jesus ...
if this is what will draw me nearer still to Your precious side ...
Then, do with me, and my teens as You will.  Amen.

Joyfully Learning with You,

The Joyful Socks Mom 

Be sure to keep up with Joyful Socks on PinterestTwitter, & Instagram and our IG SHOP
** This post may contain affiliate links.  Thank you for your support. You can read my full disclosure policy here.**

Heather's Highly Recommended Helps: 
  • Homeschool Mom Winter Summer - A weekend for the tired & overwhelmed home educator to fill-up & get refreshed! See you there!
  • Reading Portfolio - If your kids are planning on college, you need to plan on Reading Portfolio.  Easy booklist & online organizing for high school extracurricular reading. 
Linking Up at:
Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years


Why Our School Year Starts With Family Read-Alouds

 Yes, I am most certain that I will become unpopular after this quick reminder ... The school year is coming to a living room near you! 

Preparing for the upcoming school term, for me, can be a long and arduous task of soul-wrenching decisions. I know, I know ... I am a bit over-dramatic ... But, the process of weeding through all the curriculum choices now available to home educators really boggles my finite little mind! Keeping my mind from "self-destruct" mode is a constant concern. 

Over the years I have found that eating the elephant of homeschool planning is better served one.bite.at.a.time. Starting with our family's read-aloud list is the best starting point for me.  All other planning seems to flow naturally from this point.

Why I begin all homeschool planning with our family read-aloud list:
1. Choosing good, living literature from the plethora of books at my disposal helps me reaffirm that I already have much of what I need to educate my kids. I really DO.NOT need a ton of new curriculum to start the school year!

2. Prepping our read-aloud list helps me set the tone for our school year & keeps me focused.  

3. Our read-aloud goals are big, but a consistent reminder that our family learns best when we are gathered together around hearth & home. 

4. Reading is the best way to teach & mentor my children.  Always. 

Now that you are totally sold on family read-alouds, here is what we are planning to read together this coming year:

The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling (started this summer so we need to finish)
The Jungle Books (Penguin Classics)
Rudyard Kipling
Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens (lest you believe our homeschool is always "ship-shape" ... This was a book planned for last year that we didn't get around to reading.)
Oliver Twist (Penguin Classics)
Charles Dickens

Term 1: Sept. - Nov.
Out of the Silent Planet by: C.S. Lewis
Out of the Silent Planet
C.S. Lewis

Term 2: Dec. - Feb.
The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
The Pickwick Papers (Oxford World's Classics)
Charles Dickens
Pelelandra, by C.S. Lewis 
Perelandra (Space Trilogy, Book 2)
Lewis, C.S.

Term 3: March - May
The Hound of the Baskervilles, by: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Hound of the Baskervilles (Penguin Classics)
Arthur Conan Doyle

I will post a bit later about how and when we read-aloud as a family.  You may want to hear how I choose the books we read, so I may feel a blog coming on about that topic.  I also read to each of my children separately & a few more readings for my youngest, so I will talk about that too. I am just feeling a bit chatty lately.

What are your reading goals as a family this school year?

Joyfully Learning with You,

The Joyful Socks Mom 

Be sure to keep up with Joyful Socks on PinterestTwitter, & Instagram and our IG SHOP
** This post may contain affiliate links.  Thank you for your support. You can read my full disclosure policy here.**

Heather's Highly Recommended Helps: 
  • Homeschool Mom Winter Summer - A weekend for the tired & overwhelmed home educator to fill-up & get refreshed! See you there!
  • Reading Portfolio - If your kids are planning on college, you need to plan on Reading Portfolio.  Easy booklist & online organizing for high school extracurricular reading.
Linking Up at:
Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years 


Easily Keep Track of All That High School Reading

** This post is a review for Reading Portfolio, as part of my affiliation with iHomeshool Network. In order to review this product, I received this product complimentary, and am compensated for my time.  All opinions in this post are mine, and I was not required to post a positive review. Thank you for your support. You can read my full disclosure policy here.**

The am thankful and content with home educating each of my children.
I attempt daily to maintain joy in learning alongside my children, and encouraging them to be life-long learners.

Yet amidst the joy the looming outside "academic world" of colleges and universities threaten to distract this home educator.  Homeschooling in high school can be a high anxiety endeavor for many homeschooling mothers & fathers.

I have found the best way for me to combat this constant battle for stress overload is:
  • Trust that the Lord knew what He was doing when He gave my children ME as their mother.  As their mom, I am one of their best advocates & I am meant to teach them.  Although I know I mess up, God knows what He's doing.  Trust Him.
  •  Take every available resource to help our high school efforts stay organized and well equip my children to stand strong.
  • Talk less, listen more. (not my strongest suit still)
Recently I have been faced with the fact that I now have, yes, not one teenager, but two teenagers entering their Junior year of high school!  Two teenagers that could not be MORE DIFFERENT than if they had been assigned to be different.  I am attempting not to panic, of course, but the struggle of helping steer the collegiate course of two different teens, with two sets of goals and two sets of interests was beginning to boggle my mind.

Helping them both to meet collegiate reading expectations and requirements was beginning to unsettle even my ultra organized mind.  Juggling is not my strong suit, so I was thrilled to find a new service that would help alleviate much of my planning, organizing and implementing the teen reading that I now need to oversee.

I was excited to discover Reading Portfolio, an economical online service that I am now using to un-boggle my mind, and help me organize the juggling of extracurricular teen reading that I have now been charged with.

What exactly is Reading Portfolio anyhow???

Reading Portfolio is a new online service that will help junior high & high school students, as well as educators, track and credit extracurricular reading in order to better construct a reading portfolio to present to potential colleges, universities and centers for higher education.  As economy is continually at the forefront of many of my homeschool mom thoughts, Reading Portfolio is an affordable tool and resource for many homeschool families at $15.95 for a one year subscription, and $24.95 for a ten year subscription.  Not too shabby for some extra peace-of-mind in preparing teens for college-level education!

What I am enjoying most about the Reading Portfolio service for our Extracurricular Reading:
  • Easy to organize all of my high school student's extracurricular reading.
  • Better ensures that my high school student's understanding & comprehend what they have been reading.
  • Help for planning reading lists for my high school student's that will appeal to possible colleges that they wish to attend ... sooner than I may like to admit.
  • Point system that encourages my students to reach their collegiate reading goals on their free time. 
  • Easy verifiable accountability with the honor system & web-cam based quiz administration.
  • The book lists are full of great ideas for extracurricular reading, and I have been excited to see that many books that we have been planning to read in the next two years of high school are on the book list provided by Reading Portfolio's service.

As a Charlotte Mason-styled educator, I was hoping that more living books we have read, or will read, would be on the Reading Portfolio book list. Many were not listed that I thought would be there (Tale of Two Cities, Silas Marner, and Frankenstein to name a few).  However; I am hopeful that as this service continues to grow and expand that I will see more living books on the book list.

Teens and Independent Reading
I believe that Reading Portfolio will be an excellent tool in promoting independent reading in my high school students, providing good accountability for them, and peace-of-mind for me as I ready to launch them out in the world.  If you have teens, homeschool and need some reassurance that your reading plan is moving in the right direction, Reading Portfolio would be an excellent tool for your homeschool plan.

How about a chance to win a Reading Portfolio Subscription for your family?

Free one year subscriptions to 25 entrants. Widget closes 8/27/2015 11:00 
pm EST.  
(terms & conditions in the Giveaway widget, see below)


Be sure to check out Reading Portfolio on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube

Joyfully Learning with You,

The Joyful Socks Mom 

Be sure to keep up with Joyful Socks on PinterestTwitter, & Instagram and our IG SHOP