Deuteronomy 11:19 "And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Testimony of a Strong Willed Child

by Sarah Forbes

I was THAT child. 

You know the one. The explosive, high maintenance, strong willed one. The one that the teachers thought --at first-- was really sweet, until something didn’t go my way. Then out world! I stomped, yelled, kicked, and threw things. I ran away from school. All this was before 4th grade when my parents brought me home for school.
I didn’t like public school. I could blame my behavior on the school system, but that wouldn't be the truth. I’d like to say that homeschooling changed my behavior and all that nonsense stopped. But it didn’t. My brother still cringes over the Saxon math book I threw at him when I didn’t like his explanation of my math questions. I can’t count the number of pencils I broke and doors I slammed in frustration at the world which I thought was set against me.

I am sorry to say that my mother endured many tears and sleepless nights over me. So what did she do? She prayed. She endured. She corrected me. She insisted that I do right. She taught me Scripture. She kept on loving me no matter what. Oh, the drama I put her through. It grieves me now, as a mother myself, to think of the hurtful things I did and said to her.

Once, in a fit of anger after running away from home at 11, I told her she didn’t love me and never had. I can still clearly remember the wounded look on her face. Even as I said it, I knew it wasn’t true. In fact, I was a miracle baby and my selfless mother had spent nights awake caring for me, listening to be sure I was still breathing, vigilant on my behalf. Her love for me was always evident in what she did. This is one of those moments in my life I regret. One of the memories that Satan uses to discourage me when I am down. I used my words to crush someone who loved me and cared for me more than anyone else ever had.

Back then, I didn’t really care what my parents thought. I did what I wanted with little regard for their rules or standards. I overheard a conversation between two ladies at church: they were sure I would be pregant by fifteen. But the seed of my parent’s love for God had been planted in my heart, and it was slowly growing. In my rebellious moments, I could hear the Lord calling. I could see my mom snuggled in bed with her Bible, my dad on his knees by our couch in the early morning hours. I could feel a draw to God. I heard Him calling through the life, love and daily example of my parents.

One day shortly before my 13th birthday, I went to a friend’s house. She was an unbeliever. The family situation was deplorable. She has been smoking since she was seven and “physically active” at ten. She was the only girl my age our the neighborhood, and I thought I wanted to be like her. She was pretty and fun. All the boys liked her. That day, I didn’t know that her parents were not home and that she had invited boys over for a “party.”. As soon as I go there, I realised what was going on --that they were pairing off in different rooms.  An older boy “picked” me.

At that moment, my world stopped.

I had watched my friend live a life of promiscuousness. I saw the seeds of darkness in her life. But I wasn’t sure that was the life I wanted. I saw two paths separated in front of me. One was the life my parents lived, one of seeking to serve God --imperfect though that service may be. The other was a path to sin and destruction. I had not read “Pilgrim’s Progress” nor Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”. But I to this day when I hear references to either of those, I am taken back to this moment. This defining moment when I would choose to follow God or abandon my parent’s faith.

So what did I do when this boy “laid claim” to me? I fled. I ran. As fast as I could and I didn’t look back. Joseph in Egypt comes to mind. I ran home and locked myself in my room. Though I had urged my friend to come with me, she refused. She was even excited to stay.

Though I had fled from sin, I had not yet decided who I would follow. At home in my room, the weight of this decision was heavy on my heart and my mind. as I struggled to decide if I was going to follow the world or the Lord. I barely ate or emerged from my room for days. All the while I could feel the Lord calling to my heart. I remember sitting with my back against the door rocking back and forth with sobs, all the while letting the desires of this world melt away.  I had seen how the sin of this world was destroying the life and family of my friend.  God’s love and forgiveness stood in stark contrast. God’s love compelled me so strongly that I had no desire to say “no” to Him. All else paled in comparison to following Him.

I didn’t say a special prayer, though I had “asked Jesus into my heart” when I was four. What I did was I DECIDED. I chose the less traveled path and have never, not for one moment, regretted it. (To this day, praise the Lord for prompting me to flee. I fled with my innocence intact. My friend was pregnant before her sixteenth birthday. Had I not fled, the overheard conversation at church may very well have come true.)

I didn’t tell anyone about this battle in my heart until many years later. After I had children of my own, my dad and I were discussing the salvation of my children. That was when he described the change that he and my mom saw in me: Suddenly, out of nowhere it seemed to them, I changed: I cared what they thought, I started to obey without fighting them, I sought their wisdom, I began to choose better friends and modest clothing, I wanted to go to church,  I read my Bible of my own accord. When Daddy described this change I knew exactly what had facilitated it. I always knew I had changed in that moment, that the Lord had changed me. What I didn’t know is that everyone around me saw it too.
It occurs to me now that God made this change in me without my parents direct involvement. They didn’t even know what had changed or why. They simply lived a godly life in front of me as an example for me to choose to follow. They were not perfect parents, but they were sincere in their faith.

So Mama... so Dad.. out there reading this... wondering about your own little spitfire. Don’t despair as you watch your child strong-willed child struggle. Plant the seeds of a godly life and let the the Lord water that fruit. Live a godly example, love unconditionally like Christ, and pray fervently... and then pray some more. Be an example of a sincere godly life that your child can clearly see. God IS calling your child. Even in my darkest moments, God was calling me to Himself. He loves your child more than you ever could and He will never give up on him. When you are at the end of your rope remember, even when you can’t see it: God IS working.
Dedicated to my parents: David and Vicki Artman

Monday, May 7, 2012

When Momma is too Sick to Teach

by Sarah Elizabeth Forbes

Fall of 2011, I had three surgeries in four months... complete with vicodin and a 6-9 month recovery time. Immediately after the first surgery, I was forced to address the issue of “what do you do when you can’t do school?”

My children were engaged in no education time at all. They were spending way too much time viewing Hulu movies... while I slept... or staggered around in my vicodin-induced trance. Ideally, I would have hired a sitter, but that was not financially feasible. And my mother, my usual help, was out of state for an undetermined amount of time to care for my aging grandmother.

I actually wondered if I ought to, for the children's sake, seek other educational options. But then my sweet friend, Nicole Davis, reminded me that they are learning all the time... even when we are not intentionally teaching them. This got me thinking. What I really needed was a way to channel their energies into more productive activities. Even if I wasn’t capable of performing as teacher.

Let me share with you what I tried that worked (I won’t share what didn’t work, but it did take some trial and error!)

1) I gathered books together from around the house... that contained activities they could do without my help... or that they could read without my help. I kept these in a row on the ground beside my desk. That was my where I sat when I wasn’t in bed... I didn’t want to have to wonder if the books were getting lost.

2) I searched the net for educational videos, games and audio books/stories to substitute for the Hulu movies they had been watching. I knew that weaning them off such media would be a challenge... this gave me options other than Batman and Superman cartoons.

3) I made a list of their school subjects, prioritized most important (the 3 Rs) to least important.  Then I listed any possible activity I could think of which was associated with that course. I typed it up in a document and printed a hundred. Two boys times 5 days a week equals 10 sheets per week. My supply would last me 10 weeks.

After the 10 weeks, I could reevaluate my system. Adjust if necessary... or toss the whole thing if I didn’t like it. But I did like it. In fact... I plan to keep using it!

(click to view larger)

The beauty of the schedule is in its flexibility. If I woke up one day and I wasn’t feeling so well, I just circled math and english workbooks. The children would do the work, check it off and bring the sheet to me, in bed, if needed. If I was up to it, I would correct it. If not... well, at least they weren’t finished with Superman episodes and watching Spiderman, right? But on days I was feeling well, we could do lots more. I would choose our classes in the morning... then the children knew what to expect. It was so much easier to get school done if they had an idea of what I actually expected of them!

The best part for me is that the list includes classes I want to do, but usually forget about... such as art and music. This sheet allows me to include them. In fact, today we are not even doing math and english. We are behind on Bible and spelling. So I decided to do those today instead. But I know they are getting enough of the other classes. Because I have saved the schedule sheets to remind myself of the progress we have made!

It’s like a schedule for a free-spirited teacher. Yup, that’s me! I’d really rather go to the beach today, wouldn’t you? I’m sure there is something we can learn there too....!

4) My most recent addition is a Bored Board. It is hung in my livingroom. It has a list of activities they can do. Some require supervision. All require permission. But it gives the children ideas of what do... so I don’t have to hear things like, “Mom, I am so bored my boredom is bored”!

5) On the very worst day (thankfully, they were very few), I let my children crawl in bed and read me stories... sing songs... take a nap.. or just snuggle. It was so sweet to see my children offer to get me pillow to prop up my post-surgery wrist... and get me breakfast... and make sure I was warm enough.

My only regret was that their discipline (especially listening to momma) went way down... still trying to recover from that one. I will let you know when I figure out “How to discipline and train a child when Momma is
too sick to get out of bed!”

What about you have a secret formula for when Momma is sick? I would love to hear your ideas. Please pass them along to

Sarah Elizabeth Forbes
Copyright © 2012

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cultivate a Love of Learning in your Child

I remember exactly where I was--where I was sitting--when I discovered that I could cause my eyes to un-focus at will. I was 7 hears old, in second grade and sitting in my public school class room gazing out across the field of late strawberries.The partially cloudy sky was casting large cloud-shadows on the field as I looked out from the classroom window. Gazing into the distance, I noticed that, if I relaxed my eyes, everything went blurry.

"Cool." I whispered softly to myself and tried not to giggle as I played with my new-found "toy."
"SARAH." A stern voice sounded from the front of the classroom.
"Pay attention." I don't remember what followed. Scolding, I am sure. I was embarrassed to be called out in front of the class.
I tried to explain in my childish words: "My eyes do this fuzzy thing--"
"THAT is enough. Now pay attention." But it was very hard to pay attention. My eyes kept doing that funny thing... and it was very distracting!
And I was very curious. What makes them do that?
He-He I giggled inside. I can look at the teacher with my eyes all fuzzy and I cannot see her or the chalkboard. She thinks I m paying attention. But I'm NOT!  
I had to work at hiding my smile. Secretly, I liked that I was not able to learn because my eyes weren't focused. I shut my ears too, all the while pretending to be seeing, hearing and learning. I, of course,  was too young and foolish to realise that not learning was also hurting myself.
If teacher won't listen to me, I won't listen to her.
Yes, I was a very stubborn and difficult child. But one thing stands out to me now as I look back from the perspective of a mother and a teacher; I see it clearly: What a missed opportunity!
If one of my children discovers something that fascinated him, I stop what I am doing, listen to him and talk about it. Often (when I am home), I will look it up on Google, read about it with him, and answer any questions. In short... I feed that hunger for knowledge. Looking back, I  understand that it is completely impractical for a teacher in a conventional school setting to stop what she is doing and pursue the individual interests of one child.
But what a learning opportunity it would have been for my young self!
Had it been one of my boys who discovered the fuzzy-eye phenomenon, I would have started by explaining that there are muscles in our eyes that allow us to make the pictures we see sharp or blurry. This is called focus. Cameras also have focus. I would show him my old SLR camera and let him rotate the manual zoom to watch items come into focus and go out of focus. I would follow that up with diagram of the eye from the Internet or a book. I would conclude with an explanation of the purpose of glasses: Some peoples eyes don't focus correctly; these people need glasses. This probably would take less than 10 minutes. I would pause and wait for more questions. Usually, this is enough to satisfy the interest. Often our learning direction would change to a new subject.  I follow their interest and do my best to answer their questions.
Other teachers would call these rabbit trails, but I find them to be our most teachable moments. I follow their questions and try to find answers. I do thisapart from our regular schooling. To me, it is as natural as breathing . And it is a fun way to teach, as there is a very eager audience.
Ways to feed the hunger for knowledge in your children:
1) Encourage questions. About anything and everything. If you don't know, you can find the information online or in a book. If I am unable to look it up right then (ie. I am driving a car) I will ask them to remind me later, or I will leave a message for myself on my cell phone, saying, for example, "Look up a diagram of an eyeball on Google."
2) Model a love of learning. If you want them to love to learn, they must first see it in you. If your force feed them information five days a week in the form of school, but they never see you learn and try new things, they are not going to see its value. I spend time (too much, really) reading online about whatever is my latest interest. Right now, I am researching how to turn my drawings into vector images. Do you read? Do you try new things? Are you afraid to fail? Can you laugh about your mistakes? Do you try again after a failure? These are all an integral part of learning. Your children are watching you. And, most humbling of all, they are patterning their lives after yours.  
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Thomas Edison
3) Listen to your children This can be very challenging. Children babble...a lot... about topics that seem trivial or nonsensical to us adults. But they need to know that they are heard. My mother would listen as vented my frustrations while we prepared dinner. Knowing she cared was what made those childhood frustrations bearable. Recalling the above childhood story has reinforced in my mind the necessity of listening. If you are not willing to listen to them, they will not listen to you .
At the delicate age of 7, I had discovered one of life's formulas for successful relationships : Respect is a two-way street.
4) Be honest. Don't be afraid to say "I don't know." Your children need to know that you are only human too. Learn with them. Be trustworthy. Never lie to them or mislead them. Although it seems that this should go without saying, many parents choose to use misinformation to answer questions that are too mature for the child (a stork bringing a baby is an example). The problem with this is, when the he discovers the truth, the child’s opinion of you will lessen, his respect diminish. He will doubt ALL the information you have passed along because of the lack of truth in one area. I chose to answer mature issues with "Ask me when you are older" or "That is an adult subject" or “You don't need to worry about that until you are older." Don't discredit yourself as a teacher in your attempt to protect your child's innocence. They are not mutually exclusive. There are ways to protect them while still maintaining honesty and integrity.
5) Be genuine. Children seem to have built-in fake-ometers. They can sense some one who is not being real. They can see right through a facade . Disingenuousness can take many forms. Don’t talk down to your children. Don’t use a baby voice. Don’t try to be seen as better than you actually are. Your children don’t need a perfect parent.; they need a REAL parent, walking daily with God in a humble and contrite spirit. This issue was brought home to me recently. On evening I snapped at my husband right as I was putting my children to bed. Shortly after I apologized. However, I realized that I had modelled bad behaviour in front of my children. Since I could hear them whispering in their room, I went in and apologized to them for my attitude and behaviour. I told them I had behaved badly, that I had apologized to their daddy, and he had forgiven me. I am not perfect... just a work in progress. I am daily growing, learning to be a better wife, mother, and Child of my Lord. It is important that children understand this about their parents. Your children will, inevitably and undoubtedly, see your flaws. To act like they are not there, truly does make you fake. They will benefit far more from seeing you work through your struggles, then by you acting as if the struggles weren’t there. They will be more open to your instruction if they understand that you are like them: growing, changing, learning.
It does not require a godly example in order to have a godly child,
but it does make the child’s path easier.
In summery: encourage, model, listen, be honest and genuine. These can make an incredible impact on your child-rearing and your teaching. Decades later, I still hear my seven-year-old mind retorting “If she won’t listen to me, I will not listen to her!” I never want my actions or attitude to turn my child away from learning.
Sarah Elizabeth Forbes
Copyright © 2011 (Originally published in the PCHE homeschool newsletter)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What every Christian parent should teach their children when they are young.

Everything is God's NOT ours....

There are no problems too big for God

We do not always understand  God's reasons and why things happen the way they do.

God has a purpose for your life. Answer His call!

by Marian M. Schoolland
I cannot recommend this book more fervently. This author delicately takes complex doctrines of Scripture and makes them understandable to the smallest child.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Self Learning

a term which is interchangeable with self-teaching,
is a GIFT you give to your children.
It is the gift that keeps on giving and even gives back to you!
-- Joanne Calderwood

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Discipline in Homeschooling

this is an except from Teaching the Trivium availible as free download from the author here:

We have found, in our own experience, that if the area of discipline is neglected, then we may as well forget about academics. Children will never learn self-discipline if parents do not train them in it. The child
who does not develop self-discipline will fail in many things – including the academics for which you hope to prepare him. Ask yourself these questions: Am I satisfied with the obedience of my children? Do I enjoy being  round my children? Do my children honor and respect me? If your answer is “no” to any of these questions,
then you should re-evaluate your priorities. If you do not have first time obedience from children of all ages, then your homeschool journey will be beset with all number of difficulties. Regarding first time
obedience, we highly recommend a book originally published in 1833, The Mother At Home, by John S.C. Abbott. This book is a most valuable resources for training young women, from a Biblical perspective, on
the art of mothering. Another resource is, Letters on the Education of Children, by John Witherspoon, published by the MacArthur Institute. Do not allow your child to ignore you. You are the immediate reason
for why he is alive. When you tell him something, make sure he hears you. When you read to him, do not let his attention wander too far. Of course, be sensitive. There are going to be times when he has something
he needs to think about, and you may need to leave him do so. But do not let him shut you out. You must always have his attention when you speak. You must always have something for him to hear. No, we do
not live up to that standard. But that should be the standard by which we measure. Do not let your child rule you. Let him rule himself. A man must rule himself before he can rule others. (Think of all of the public offices
which have become inverted and perverted because of men who could not first rule themselves.) Nobody learns to rule himself by obeying his own desires. He can only learn to rule himself by obeying another’s
desires. There must be something larger than himself to serve. (That is why the concept of God is inescapable. If you do not follow the true God, then you must invent a substitute god to serve a similar function.)
If you can teach your child to know himself and rule himself, then he will be able to rule that part of the world which you give to him, and eventually that part of the world of which God places him in stewardship
During one of our trips, we visited a family which lived a very simple life in a very modest home, and homeschooled their five small children. The parents were quite soft spoken and gentle in manner, always speaking to the children in a calm, quiet way. From the very beginning of our visit, it became obvious that the children attended to the voices of their parents. The parents had first time obedience from even the youngest,
and this obedience was obtained with a quiet voice and manner. In all my life, I have never witnessed anything like it. On one occasion, the one-year-old began to climb up on the kerosene heater. I saw the father
give an almost imperceptible shake of the head and heard him say in a whisper, “Isaac, huh, uh.” Immediately the child shifted into reverse and backed away from the heater. The child attended to and obeyed the
very whisper of his father. It moves me to tears to recall that scene and the affection which the children and parents had for each other. Oh, that I had trained my children so well when they were young. God wants
first time obedience from us, and we should form the same habit in our children. When we resort to speaking in a loud voice when we want something of our children, or when we form the habit of repeating our
requests, we train our children to ignore us when we speak. If we could only begin at the very beginning to train our children to attend to our voice – to listen for it no matter what they are doing, and to immediately
obey, how well we will prepare them to listen to their heavenly Father as well. If we were to accomplish this, then our children would view their parents as servants view their masters, and as subjects view their king.
They would have great respect and honor for their parents, wanting only to please them. Of course, the king would be a benevolent and kind master who cared most for his subjects, always treating them with
tenderness and love. Yes, we are kings and queens, our homes are our castles, and the little ones are the servants training one day to be masters of their own homes. Does a queen need to resort to yelling to have
something accomplished? Not likely in a well ordered kingdom. How much better our world would be if we rendered first time obedience to our Lord.

You can download the books she refers to at the links below.

The mother at home, or, The principles of maternal duty familiarly illustrated by John Stevens Cabot Abbott

Letters on the education of children, and on marriage
John Witherspoon

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