Friday, November 9, 2012

Homeschool Mother's Journal 11/9/12

Welcome to that time in my week where I share what we've done, not done and hope to do!  Click below to see what other homeschool moms have been up to!

I have spent most of my blogging time this week on an article about what I am learning in history along with my kids these days.  Click HERE to see why my little brain has just been absorbing US history like never before!
Because it took so much of my time, my journal will be short and sweet this week!
In our homeschool this week...
My middle man, Josh, has started a chapter on chemistry and has a new passion for mixing things that he finds around the house just to see what happens as well as watching chemistry experiments on youtube to see things happen that  his mom won't let him do in the kitchen!  These almost always involve fire and or explosions!

Our oldest bud, Caleb, just finished his poster on the revolutionary war.  He knows way more about it than I did at his age! Here is the back of his poster before it was finished. Now both the front and back are covered with facts! Kudos to everyone out there on the internet who provide free materials that I can use to supplement my kids' textbooks with!
I didn't get any pics of my daughter's projects from this past week so here is a cute one, just because!  She has been busy doing a book report on one of her American Girl novels, studying insects and practicing for her first Bible Quiz Meet!  In the practice meet she amazed me with her amazing memory!
I wish the yard and trees were still that green!
We also spent much of the day Tuesday playing social studies games and watching the election results come in!
"Take Off!" is one of our favorites!  *I also won this time! Go Pruple Plane!*
In my life this week...
I have nothing very notable to talk about! :O)  I have simply been mom, housewife and teacher, stayed in my jammies past noon many days and am just content with where I am in life right now.
I'm even more content knowing that as soon as daddy gets home tonight, one kiddo is going on a youth retreat, the other two are going to grandma's and I am going on a date!  Yeah for date nights!
I hope that you are finding contentment wherever you are...and that you soon get to go on a date as well! 

Don't Know Much About History...

Homeschooling is not just for the kids!

Before we began homeschooling I anticipated many changes in our home and life. I braced myself for less alone time, but I embraced the idea of snuggling with the kids while we read.  One thing that I didn’t anticipate, however, is the fact that whatever the kids are learning so am I! I figured that after years of college and teaching, my brain would stay ahead of theirs for a long time! I could not have been more wrong!   After tackling 3 kids times 7 or 8 subjects a day my brain is often on information overload!  Keeping up with where each kiddo is studying in history, science and all the language arts is like being a one room school teacher!  I will often forget who is learning about  what decade in US History and who is learning what part of speech in grammar!  Some days, before supper, my brain is just mush!

My new favorite subject to learn is history.  I never knew how much I never knew!  My previous history background consisted of 8th and 11th grade US history, high school US government and 1 year of college history. Obviously I was not a history major!  Very little of what I was taught truly sank  in.  That’s partly due to the “Use it or lose it!” principle and partly due to the fact that no history teacher ever inspired me to want to learn more than I needed to just get by.  

As I look back on my US history textbooks and teachers, I can understand why I was so uninspired.  My books were the state text books of the time (80’s).  My teachers may have enjoyed teaching, but probably enjoyed coaching more.  My books were straight forward enough, but it always seemed to me that something was missing.  Other than my US government teacher, something was missing from my history teachers as well.  Passion.  Passion was missing from both the books and the teachers I had.   The books seemed dry.  They covered each time period as straight forward as a grammar text.  I just knew something was missing.

Last year when we started to homeschool, I found out what the missing ingredient was!  The ingredient that adds passion to my kids’ history text books is their perspective!  God’s providence in US history is inspiring to say the least!  Today’s public school textbooks mostly leave Him out of the equation.  When my kids and I stop at the end of a section or chapter we are amazed at the part God and faith has played in the shaping and running of our country!  

 Just yesterday, my 14 year old son and I discussed the ways pride played a role in the revolutionary war.  We even read scripture to further talk about the consequences that ensue when a nation gets puffed up with pride. In light of current events, it was a sobering discussion!  Not only did Caleb learn much about the Revolutionary War, but he learned and discussed some valuable life lessons for both himself as well as his country. 

I have discovered that my kids crave learning from their history books more than I ever did.  Why is this?  Why are they so passionate at such young ages? Ages when I could have cared less?  I think the answer is twofold.  First, their teacher is learning history through such a different lens that she has become quite passionate and devours it right along with the kids.  They see how excited I am to re-learn history that they become excited too.  The other passion kindler is God. I think he has lit a spark in the kids’ learning because they are learning about their country from His perspective. 

While watching a video series recently, The American Heritage Series, By David Barton, he mentions the verse, “The Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  (Proverbs 1:7) In the video, Supreme Court decisions are chronicled from the 1600’s to the present regarding God and the schools.  When God and prayer were removed from schools so too was much of the traditional wisdom.  SAT scores plummeted during the 1960’s and 70’s at the same time discipline problems started to rise.  I have never thought of this verse in regards to education before.  But it makes sense that where there is “A fear of God” there is knowledge and where God has been removed altogether, knowledge begins to wane.  It also explains (to me at least) why my kids are hungering for their history lessons (and science too). 

Another thing we are beginning to study now is The Constitution.  Boy was that a boring document to me when I was in high school.  Quite honestly, and embarrassingly, I don’t think I have ever read it all the way though.   Our study so far has dug into the first amendment, particularly 5 words that are NOT there but have been implied by many Supreme Court rulings.  The five words are “Separation of Church and State.”  What loaded words are these!  While I was still working in a public school I remember teaching about the first amendment as the “Separation of church and state amendment.”  I was just teaching from the materials I had and in a manner that I had been taught and never took the time to dig any deeper into the subject.  As you can probably imagine, no teacher can be an expert in every subject, especially an elementary teacher.

What I have learned about this part of the first amendment was shocking to me at first but also very freeing.  As you probably remember, (if you were more attentive in class than I was) these are the first words of the first amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Because the colonists, later the citizens of the United States, were so fed up with a system of government that mandated a state sponsored church, they made sure that the new nation’s government would allow its citizens to worship freely.  In a nutshell, the US government shall never force its citizens to belong to one specific church.   It is the second half of this quote that is so often misunderstood.  Each time we are told we can't pray or display something of our faith in public, our "free exercise thereof" has been "prohibited."  Now granted, if we are a free nation, the rights to worship as we choose and to display as we choose must apply to all religions, not just Christianity.

The kids and I watched Kirk Cameron's documentary, "Monumental" and were quite inspired by the courageous acts of the Puritans in their standing up to the government and  state religion of their day in England.  Then a week later we read that a generation later in America, the Puritans set up their faith as a state religion where they colonized!  They did to others what had been to them by forcing the inhabitants of their settlements to pay taxes to the Puritan church!  We are blessed to live in a nation whose leaders saw fit to make sure this didn't happen again.  

What bothers me are the number of times our "free exercise" of religion has been taken away.  In my opinion free exercise and forced participation are two different things.  It is my interpretation of the First Amendment that neither will the government establish a state church nor will it deny us the right to be Christians (or whatever other religion we may be) in public places.  Our forefathers didn't want us becoming like England where the government ruled the church and the church ruled the people.  And the church said you had to be Anglican. In the end, in England, the government ruled the people through the church in order to subjugate them, not in a matter of liberty or freedom.   

I pray that these rights remain in the US but it seems as time goes by this amendment gets used more and more to quiet the church rather than to promote  its liberties.  I don't think it was ever intended to separate the church from the state in a way that the church was not recognized by the government as a crucial foundation to our nation.  Our founding fathers never meant for our government to exist without the influence of Christianity.  And they never meant for the church to exist without the support of our government.  

It was Thomas Jefferson who first used the phrase "separation of church and state" in a letter he wrote after the constitution was written.  And during the same week that he wrote the letter containing this phrase to a group of Baptist clergymen, he, Thomas Jefferson, went to church where else, but at the Capitol as services were regularly held there in his day!?  Imagine our congressmen going to mandatory church services together today! Yes, he saw the need for the government to not mandate A church, but the concept of church was not despised but rather exonerated!  That was a different thought process about the relationship between church and state than I have ever been taught.  

What would our nation be like today if religion was embraced by our government while the members of our government served as men and women of integrity? (As a whole...There are many Godly men and women serving our nation ubut I fear their voices are being squelched by those who would rather claim that our country was built upon the principles or the current definition of church and state.

Wow! I don't think I've ever written anything so opinionated in my life!  I pray that my religious freedoms to teach and learn history from a Christian perspective are never taken away!  I look forward to reading the rest of The Constitution in the weeks ahead.  I look forward to teaching my kids that God's hand has been providentially moving over the affairs of our nation since its beginning.  I also look forward to praying that some of the foundations that made our nation worth blessing will one day be restored. I also pray that my children will learn just as much FROM the history of our nation as they do ABOUT their history!  I pray that they learn from our history and not just memorize facts.  

p.s.  I have also decided that when my kids graduate from our homeschool and receive their diplomas, I will earn an honorary one myself!  I need something to show for all this new found knowledge in my head!