Homeschooling is great, isn’t it? You have the freedom and flexibility to teach your children according to your own style, schedule, and interests. Thanks to the recent uptick in families choosing to homeschool, curriculum choices, resources, and ideas are more abundant than ever. Still, you may find yourself needing something more for your family’s needs. Perhaps you don’t feel confident teaching a certain subject. Maybe your kids need more social opportunities. Or you wish your children had access to extra classes such as art, debate, home economics, or creative writing. A homeschool co-op sounds appealing, but there aren’t any in your area that seem to fit your expectations. If you have considered starting your own homeschool co-op, we’ve compiled some ideas and suggestions to guide you and help you get started.[Read more…] about 9 Steps to Start a Homeschool Co-op
As the holidays quickly approach, you may be scrambling for gift ideas that appeal especially to homeschoolers. If you’re looking for something unique that homeschool moms and kids will love, keep reading! We compiled a list of distinctive fun Christmas gift ideas to help you choose just the right present for the homeschoolers in your life. From elementary age to tween to teen to adult, you’ll find something for everyone on your list. If you’re a homeschooler desperately in need of some good gifts from your friends, maybe you can accidentally send this their way?Find Gifts for Homeschool Moms
As a Christian, you know that there’s no such thing as reading for mindless entertainment. Books teach in ways that we often don’t understand. And as a Christian parent, you want your children to be taking in valuable lessons from the books they read. Your children’s ability to carefully evaluate everything they take in is a key part of their growth toward biblical maturity. This careful evaluation implies truly wrestling with the books they read. If your children can become thoughtful readers, then you know that they will be well equipped as adults in a world full of misdirection. So how do you encourage your children to be thoughtful readers? By building a familiarity with the only Book that truly matters.
The Foundation for Thoughtful Readers
Every thoughtful reader should approach other books on the basis of a constant and continuous study of the Book. The only reliable standard for the believer is Scripture itself. When the writers of Scripture penned God-breathed words, they wrote widely—of eternity past to eternity future, of battles and births, obedience and obstinacy. They wrote accounts of real people, recorded parables that came from the lips of our Savior, and produced the most beautiful literature known to man. And there is not a higher standard against which to evaluate a story.
Features of That Foundation
When Christ used the vehicle of story, He set the stage for contemplation that leads to biblical understanding. The same should be true of any worthy book. We can learn so much from these scriptural examples. There are good role models and bad ones as well as good actions and bad—but all for our instruction. Some stories clearly spell out the theme, while others require the reader to evaluate and draw a conclusion. Although the length and delivery of these stories differ, the resolution of the problem of sin—the central conflict—is true to the Book as it must be in lesser books as well.
The stories from the Old Testament include exciting plots, peopled by actual characters not unlike people we may know. There is sin, providing literary conflict, that sets each story in action; and before the conflict reaches a resolution (within varying timelines), the story addresses the sin.
The parables of the New Testament demonstrate our Lord’s creativity as He crafted each word picture or narrative to grab the attention of the listeners. Sometimes He told the story along with the lesson we should learn. Sometimes He spoke in metaphors that required the listener to read between the lines, as some may say. Other times He told the story but waited to give the explanation to certain listeners at another time. As these parables unfold, we see that some seeds flourished, and some withered and died; some wedding guests were welcomed, and some were turned away; some servants were faithful, and some were not.
In one account Jonah receives a command, runs the other way, and begins to experience the consequences in the space of three short verses. His whole story is a narrative told in only four chapters, woven into the fabric of the Old Testament. In another instance a longer story tells about Joseph, ill-treated by his brothers and sold into slavery. Long years pass as Joseph comes to manhood and becomes the instrument of God used to deliver his family. His brother Reuben’s guilt begins at the pit and ends in a palace many years later, recorded over several chapters in Genesis.
Biblical narratives demonstrate variety and creativity, and they offer many different topics to interest a range of readers. There is all of this and more in the inspired Word, the Book that is the guide for believers in all things. And all of these concepts can direct your children’s thinking in all their readings.
• • • • •
Nancy Lohr is acquisitions editor at JourneyForth, a division of BJU Press. She has edited dozens of books over the last twenty years and is a writer as well, having authored two historical novels for children, curriculum stories and articles, and numerous book reviews and articles for parents and educators. Nancy was an educator and children’s librarian before moving into publishing, and she loves to see young readers develop into capable and satisfied readers.
Why Should You Teach Multicultural Literature?
We humans can easily get caught up in our own little worlds. This is especially easy to do when life gets busy. However, incorporating multicultural literature into our children’s education is worth the effort because of what it teaches them.
Made in God’s Image
It’s important to teach our children that God made all people in His image (Genesis 1:27). As image-bearers, people from around the world use their gifts to contribute to art and literature, and we can learn from their perspectives.
United in Christ
Additionally, we have brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world! Revelation 7:9 says that “all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb.” Reading multicultural literature provides an opportunity to explain to our children that, even though we may be from different cultures, we still can fellowship with people from around the world and will one day fellowship with them in heaven.
Of course, we can value and learn from multicultural literature even if it is not written by Christians. Knowing that we will share heaven with people from around the world should make us interested in their perspectives.
Bubble Popped, Eyes Opened
Every culture has its strengths and weaknesses that we can learn from. As a junior in high school, I had the opportunity to go on a missions trip to Saint Vincent, an island in the Caribbean. Experiencing the third-world conditions, my little American self felt stretched. But I learned so many valuable lessons from experiencing a different culture.
I experienced the joy of having the connection of Christ with people that I had nothing else in common with. I also learned from the strengths of the island culture. As an American, I was used to structure and time-sensitivity. Yet the island Christians had a good sense of what is ultimately important—people. Timeliness is important, and we should still be conscious of that. But, in the end, people trump time and my agenda. Typically, it’s harder for us to evaluate our own culture since we see it as the norm. But when we contrast it with another culture, it’s easier to separate our cultural traditions from what is actually biblical.
The people there were also thankful for the little things, and was I ever thankful for a bed that didn’t have bugs crawling through it when I got home! In more ways than one, I came back changed: I had a new perspective—a more thankful one. I also had a burden for souls around the world.
Whether you send your child on a missions trip or not, you can still teach them some of these valuable lessons through other people’s literature and art.
How Can You Incorporate Multicultural Literature?
Even if you see the value of incorporating multicultural literature, it may seem like an intimidating goal. BJU Press has taken that stress away by making available excellent resources that can guide your child through diverse literature from a biblical worldview perspective.
I was especially impressed with Excursions in Literature and American Literature. In Excursions, each unit starts out with art from a different culture for your child to evaluate, a biblical worldview summary, and “thinking zones” at the end of each story to promote critical thinking. For example, the first unit is about friends, so the artwork highlights three girlfriends. It was painted by an artist from Trinidad. Your child then evaluates their friendship by observing the art and answering some questions provided in the textbook. Next, your child reads about what friendship is from a biblical perspective, where it originated, and who the ultimate friend is—Christ.
In our American Literature textbook, your child will read excerpts from slaves like Phillis Wheatley and Frederick Douglass to Harlem Renaissance poets including Langston Hughes and Countée Cullen. He will also experience life from Asian American perspectives like Li-Young Lee and Amy Tan and Latino American perspectives like Sandra Cisneros—all in light of a biblical worldview.
The Teacher’s Editions of these books are also extremely valuable in helping you navigate these different cultures. As you embark on this journey of educating your child, BJU Press is committed to supporting you along the way.
Are You Promoting Kingdom Thinking?
As we learn from image-bearers around the world, our perspectives broaden, and we are reminded of what heaven will be like—beautifully diverse and united in Christ.
• • • • •
Stephanie holds a bachelor’s in English education, and her favorite type of literature is multicultural literature. She is passionate about helping people know and defend their faith and is currently working on a master’s in Christian apologetics. In her free time, Stephanie enjoys spending time with her husband, crafting, and reading apologetics books, particularly works by C. S. Lewis.
It wasn’t too difficult of an assignment, really—to speak for fifteen minutes at a homeschool mothers’ Christmas luncheon about what it means to be a homeschool mom. Pretty straightforward, right? Yet despite my best efforts I was once again down to the wire and facing a blank page.
“Who am I to offer ‘words of wisdom’ to all these moms?” I thought. “Most of them have been homeschooling for years and have already experienced the things I’m going through right now!”
With my frustration building, I went to make sure my little ones were all tucked in for the night. I had to chuckle at their poses in bed—obviously sleep had caught up with them while they were still mid-wiggle. But as I bent down to kiss my six-year-old, she wrapped one arm around my neck and gave me a sleepy kiss. “Will you be here tomorrow morning, Mommy?” she asked.
I sometimes had morning errands to run and would be up and out before the youngest ones awoke. “Yes, Darlin,’” I said. “Lord willing, we’ll make Christmas cards tomorrow, and when Daddy gets home, we’ll put up the tree!”
Eyes still closed, she smiled. “Happy, happy, happy,” she said as I unlooped her arm and tucked it under the covers.
Reluctantly, I closed the bedroom door and went back downstairs to resume my battle with writer’s block. But as I stared at my screen, I couldn’t help but think of my little girl’s question. As much as we love our children, none of us can promise them we’ll “be there” in the morning.
Beyond God’s grace we have no guarantees that we will have another day to watch over the little lives that mean so much to us.
And so I thought, if I knew this were my last Christmas, my last few days to spend with my children and husband, what would I do differently?
- I wouldn’t just say “I love you” but would use every way I could think of to show them.
- The dishes could wait while I sat on the floor and read stories.
- We would act out the Christmas story with blanket tents, and I wouldn’t care how big a mess we made.
- Instead of just setting the trimmings out, I would make gingerbread houses with the kids and eat just as much candy as they did.
- I would stash mistletoe around the house and catch my husband and children under it as often as I could.
- We would go out together and make it our mission to do something nice for someone in every store we visited.
- We would all write special thank-you cards to Daddy for everything he does for us and surprise him at work with cookies and hot chocolate.
- We would make funny Christmas caroling videos and email them to the grandparents.
- My snow angel would be right in the middle of all the smaller ones in the yard.
- And when it got dark, we would turn off all the lights except the tree’s, and in one giggly, wiggly, blanketed pile, we would all make wishes on the stars that had taken up residence in our tree.
What is all this, really? What age-old wisdom would I be imparting to my children through antics like these? Will this help them get into better colleges, find satisfying careers, or achieve world peace? Not likely. But they will learn how to live. They will understand that the little things and the not so little things—like spending time with the people you love—are what really matter.
It’s so easy to let the pressures of seasonal expectations get to us. We quickly forget that our time with our beloved spouse and children is so very brief. None of us is guaranteed another Christmas, another new year, or even tomorrow.
Today is God’s gift to us, and we give a new gift to our children every day that we teach them not just how to get through life, but how to live it to God’s fullest.
So no, I couldn’t offer any great words of wisdom to the moms I would speak to, but I could offer a reminder—a reminder that living love isn’t something we do only at Christmas. As homeschool parents, our choice to homeschool our children is a choice to live Christmas all year long: loving them with our lives by teaching them how to live and love life and each other.