Meet Geraldine, a sweet older friend of mine from Europe. She and her husband moved to West Africa with older children, and have been there for nine years. I asked her what homeschooling advice she has for mothers on the mission field. Here is what she shared with me.

 

 

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Eleven years ago I found myself in Ohio after my husband accepted a job there. We had come from a country in Europe where school is fully organized, overemphasized, and where a diploma is absolutely necessary to get even a simple job. Homeschooling was forbidden there, and we wanted to start homeschooling five of our seven children, ranging from grades one to eleven.

 

I felt like I had lost all my security and balance for our children and their educational future. I could not believe that stepping away from the school system and making Mama their teacher could ever work out well. What I did see was the benefits of not being in a system where God is not recognized and honored, and of keeping the children away from a lot of wickedness; but how to make it work without a school environment was one big question mark for me.

 

At that time I did not know that God was preparing me to be a homeschool mother in a remote village in Africa, where we could not depend on others and with no homeschool groups or homeschool families close by. Without these two years in America I don't think I would have made it!

 

Our main desire for our children was that they would get a good education in a godly environment with the opportunity to learn more skills than only educational. Everybody likes their children to be able to fit in society, but living overseas makes our children very different. They are not aware of new gadgets, fashions and ways of living in the western world. We saw how difficult it was for most of them to go on furlough and to fit in with the group they suddenly were dropped into. The most normal life activities were not normal for them.

 

In most cases we can't solve that problem for them on the field. We only can assure them that it is OK if they don't know everything, and mention that they know a lot that their Western friends and relatives don't. We admit that we as adults feel dumb when we have to ask how to do something normal. They need to realize that they are not less than others who know exactly how to behave, just different.

 

In other cases we need to protect them from difficulties. Our children are as important as the people we are reaching out to on the field. Maybe even more important. God entrusted them to our care to raise them for His glory. We have to make sure that we do everything to make it easier for them to become a stable, hardworking, and responsible person that by the time they make the decision to follow the Lord they don't stumble due to a bad work attitude or behaviour.

 

It is very easy to become too relaxed concerning school when you are overseas, to think that it is only for a certain amount of time and later you will pick it all up again. But even one or two years will influence your children. School is more than education. It is learning to be responsible, to work even when you don't feel too good about it, to go through discouragement and learn to be persistent.

 

Something we learned by experience is that our children benefit a lot by having a strict schedule. Even with many interruptions we always went back to our schedule. We have an appointed time to eat breakfast, do chores and start school. I always made sure that every child had a work schedule with what needs to be done that day and also that all their work is corrected before the next day, so that they could see that I am interested in their work and their progress even in the midst of the many other challenges we face on the field.

 

Living overseas can make us mothers very busy. I as a nurse could easily have filled my days. With a purpose, I stayed away from being distracted from the family. We have to treasure those years with our children and use the time to interact with them as much as possible.

 

I had to learn to be more flexible but I think that is similar to living in a Western country. We planned vacation breaks but often they shifted around and changed several times a year. A sudden visit from one of the other missionaries is special and school had to postponed.

 

In some areas I know that my children are lacking information or tools, but in other areas I see how much they learned to be inventive by not having tools and information. They had to find solutions for their problems. This is a skill that is very valuable also in the rest of their lives.

 

We really benefited from being enrolled in a homeshool organisation that keeps records of all the children. It helped us to stay on track and we saw a big change in motivation in the children after we enrolled them. They get their scores with the progress they make and they see more what is going on. For me as the teacher I felt that somebody else was carrying the burden with me! Nine years ago we had no internet access or phone connection. Now we can send the results by email, ask questions and get information any moment we need it. All the children worked toward an academic school diploma and finished grade 12.

 

In the nine years that we were on the mission field we saw six of our children leave home. Two had already finished high school in Europe, and four were able to finish homeschooling in West Africa. They were able to write their ACT in Accra, the capital city of Ghana, and obtained an accredited high school diploma. Our last child hopes to finish high school next year.

 

We are very thankful for a mission board that allowed us to take our children with us to Africa, and see it as a great blessing to have been able to teach them and have them serve with us.

 

To God be the glory!

Love is an important character trait to teach no matter what the time of year. But what better time to do it than February when America is full of hearts and candy and roses? :-) Let's teach our children what love is REALLY all about.

There are so many verses on love that it is going to be hard to decide which ones to use. Here are my favorites that I picked out as most appropriate for children's memory verses. Note that I'm focusing this study on showing love to each other, not on God's love for us - although that would be a great study too!

Memory/Study Verses:

 1 Corinthians 13

1 John 4:7-12 and 20&21

Romans 13:8-10

John 15:12&13

1 Peter 4:8

Colossians 3:14

Mark 12:30 & 31

Matthew 5:43 & 44

John 13:35

Galatians 5:14

 

Bible stories that teach LOVE:

The Good Samaritan

Ruth & Naomi

David & Jonathon

Joseph & Reuben (Reuben's love for his father, Genesis 44:31-33)

Jacob & Rachel

Jesus' death on the cross

 

Songs: there are so many hymns that talk about God's love and there are also several Scripture songs that have put some of the verses above to music. Here is a little ditty that I think is great for young children -

 

If You Want to Show Your Love
(to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It")

If you want to show your love, share a smile.
If you want to show your love, share a smile.
If you want to show your love, if you want to show your love,
If you want to show your love, share a smile.

If you want to show your love, lend a hand.
If you want to show your love, lend a hand.
If you want to show your love, if you want to show your love,
If you want to show your love, lend a hand.

If you want to show your love, use kind words.
If you want to show your love, use kind words.
If you want to show your love, if you want to show your love,
If you want to show your love, use kind words.

 

Ways to Show Love

If you've read Gary Chapman's book The Five Love Languages (if you haven't read it, I really recommend it! It could completely change your marriage and parenting!), you can introduce some of those concepts at a child's level. Obviously the idea of "discovering" each other's love language is a little advanced, but you can talk about the five ways that we show love to each other. Maybe have a different day (or a couple days) assigned to practicing each way of showing love.

  1. Helping & serving each other
  2. Speaking kind words and encouraging each other
  3. Giving gifts to each other (doesn't have to be expensive or fancy - let them make simple gifts)
  4. Showing affection through physical touch (this one will have to be done carefully and appropriately but is important!)
  5. Spending quality time together

You can turn this into a game with the idea from this website:

"Play “Loving Actions.”  - Take turns coming up with creative ways to show love (such as greeting someone, opening the door for someone, kissing boo boos, or offering a drink) which you can do as a game of silent charades.  Basically this means you should act out your “Loving Action” without words so that the other people can guess what you are doing.  You may like to use photographs to inspire ideas for showing love to different people such as grandparents, friends, teachers, and strangers. Sometimes we show love to different people in different ways and it is important to know the appropriate way for each person."

 

 

And finally, here are a couple of simple craft/activity ideas that go along with love . . .

1 Corinthians 13 clothesline - A "bulletin board" wall decor idea: Hang a piece of rope or twine on the wall. Make paper hearts and use clothespins to pin them on the twine. Above the rope write "LOVE IS:" or "CHARITY" if you prefer, and then on each heart, write one characteristic from 1 Cor 13, e.g. "long-suffering", "kind".  I got the idea from this coloring page.

 

Discover the Bible Verse: An activity for children who can read. 

1. Cut out hearts from construction paper, one for each word of your memory verse (plus the reference!)

2. Write one word of the verse and the verse reference on the hearts.

3. Encourage them to help each other put the hearts in the right order to make the memory verse.

4. If they can't figure out the verse, let them look it up in their Bibles.

You can make a very simple heart paper chain by starting with strips like a regular paper chain. Instead of taping or gluing into a circle, staple the ends face-together to make a heart shape. Check out this photo if those instructions don't make sense. :-) There's also a more complicated and beautiful paper chain idea here.

 

Most importantly, make sure YOU leave your children without a doubt of your love this month! :-)

 

**None of these are affiliate links. I do not endorse the content of any of these websites.**

Let's talk about homeschooling today! As I'm preparing to start K-4 with my oldest, I've been doing a lot of researching and exploring. I have the great advantage of being in the US right now, where I have access to a wonderful library and a teacher's resource store. But I still find myself doing lots of searching online for ideas and especially for free worksheets and lesson plans. If you have good internet access, there is so much available online!

Just typing in a Google search for "free worksheets" or "Kindergarten lesson plans" can be really overwhelming. Who has hours and hours to sort through all those links and websites? So today I want to share a few of the favorites I have found. These are mostly at a preschool/Kindergarten level, since that is where I'm at with my little ones. But if you have a favorite website, please share in the comments below. Let's help eachother out!

Free Homeschool Deals - this website is completely packed with great deals for all ages - lots of free or very cheap material, including Kindle books of all kinds, worksheets, lesson plans, organization ideas, and even Amazon Deals that are applicable to homeschoolers. Just this website alone can be overwhelming, but if you enter your email address in the box at the top of the home page, you'll get a daily email of current deals. I've downloaded many free worksheets and Kindle books through these daily emails!

Three Dinosaurs - this is a cute website full of great free worksheets for preschool through 2nd grade. Of all the free worksheet packs I have looked at, these are my favorite, and she thoroughly covers every subject area!

1+1+1=1 is another website packed with printables and ideas, for ages 2 and up. Only visit this site if you can be inspired (rather than intimidated or discouraged) by seeing how creative some moms are with their homeschooling!

Are We There Yet? - this is another website that collects freebies from all corners of the web, as well as offering some of her own free printables. She also has links for completely free curriculum that is available online! All ages are included here.

One more that I have to mention is the beautiful printables on Ann Voskamp's website. These are not specifically homeschool related, but her daily planner is very detailed and really helped me get organized at a time in my life (the birth of my second child!) when everything felt out of control. If you haven't been on her website, it's worth a look if you have good internet. It's VERY photo-intensive, so if you don't have good internet, you will be waiting all morning for each page to load!  At least check out the daily planner here.

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So there's a few of my favorite homeschool websites. What are yours? Do any of you ladies have websites to recommend for children older than 2nd grade? Please share your links below!

   

As my little guys get older, I am putting more thought into purposefully teaching them what they need to know - everything from ABCs and 123s, to life skills like zippers and going potty, to Bible stories and character qualities. I was listening to a "webinar" for moms, and the suggestion was made to focus on one character trait each month. I loved that idea, so that's what we're planning to implement - starting in November, which is just a few days away!

What better character trait to focus on in November than "thankfulness", right? I'm still working on ideas and gathering materials for how to do that, but here's one idea that I'm excited about. I think it will work well with my preschoolers, but I'm sure it would be great for older children as well: We're going to make a Thankful Paper Chain! So starting November 1st, every night at supper we're going to talk about one thing that we're thankful for. I will write that thing on a strip of fall-colored paper and start a paper chain. Instead of counting down to Thanksgiving, we'll count UP as our paper chain grows with things we're thankful for!

Sound like fun? Here are a few more ideas I found:

Thanksgiving rolls with a surprise inside

A "Gratitude Game" which comes with 30 ideas for teaching gratitude

A cute idea for an interactive object lesson (aimed at preschoolers)

When we get closer to Thanksgiving, these handprint spice turkeys look like a nice aromatic craft. :-)

Here are some writing prompts for older kids and also some for younger children

Memory Verses on Thankfulness:

This site has some excellent activities, printable worksheets for older children, and beautiful Bible verse printables on the subject of thankfulness.

Here are 30 Bible verses about giving thanks, with a question/discussion prompt to go with each verse.

Another printable list of verses on thankfulness, as well as a simple craft

Lastly, here is a whole study on thankfulness, with lesson plans, memory verses, object lessons, crafts and activities.

And what Bible stories am I planning to use?

The Israelites grumbling in the wilderness, from Exodus 15-17

The story of Namaan, from 2 Kings 5

The Ten Lepers, from Luke 17

David's Thankful Heart, from the Psalms

So what do you think? Do you have any activities or ideas for teaching your children to be thankful? What other Bible stories can be used to teach thankfulness? I'd love to hear your suggestions in the comments!

**None of these links are affiliate links. I do not personally endorse any of these websites.**