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Each year, I am always looking for what my children are learning beyond specific content. I am constantly assessing growth in their values, faith journey, and life skills. I know that I am teaching them specific subjects, but firmly believe I am teaching them to become lifelong learners who are able to ask questions and seek answers. This week, I’ve been reflecting on their growth related to critical thinking skills.
 
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My first few years of homeschooling, I tried to piece together a curriculum for my children. I would spend hours upon hours researching what was available, try to pick the best, and not miss anything along the way. Even after I received my curriculum I would still take hours to try to prepare each of the subjects and try to make them flow together.
 
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Every year it’s the same. The doubts come. Maybe my kids would be better off in public or private school. Maybe they would learn more, have better teachers, be more interested in such and such subject. Maybe I’m not doing the right thing by homeschooling them. Maybe I will miss something really important that I should be teaching them. Am I really qualified to do this “homeschool thing”? Am I doing what is best for my child?
 
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Homeschooling is a high privilege that I never want to take lightly. Because we homeschool, my children are with me most of the hours in their day. That means I can have a huge impact on their spiritual growth. They see me trying to live out a life that is pleasing to the Lord. There are times I fail miserably, but there are also some qualities I strive to display. In thinking about these qualities, here are a few that I attempt to display throughout our homeschooling.
 
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It’s January, and the cold has begun to set in – both outdoors and indoors. Some of us struggle with the realities of having our kids underfoot much of the day, and we are already looking towards summer, when the kids will be outside, and we will have a much-needed break from the day to day humdrum of schooling. At my house, we call this time of year “hard-school-home-school” because we deep dive into schooling and try to take as few days off as is humanly possible until April. Sixty days of intense schooling, packing as much as we can into these frigid days.
 
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This was going to be the year! We were right on target to finish as I had originally mapped out back in July. (Trust me when I say that this never happens! I usually need to tweak a couple times throughout the year.) Then the cold and flu season hit our house. It hit so hard that our 5th grade daughter is out of commission with mono. Out went the schedule and in came some heavy adapting.
 
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It finally happened this week. We flipped our 2017 calendars to the very last page- December. Our family receives several free calendars in the mail, so there’s already a 2018 calendar hanging right behind the 2017 calendar. I can't help but think of how that picture of one calendar ready to go right behind another affects our homeschooling planning as well. We’re wrapping up our lesson plans, assignments, activities, and more while we are thinking ahead to the excitement of a fresh new year. Just as one calendar date and year follows right after another, the activities of our lives and homeschools continue moving right along.
 
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What is your biggest priority today?As homeschooling moms, our priorities come in the form of long lists and prayers sometimes. I need to get this done, my kids have to be here at a certain time. I need to get to the store to get a turkey soon... and more. We love those first days of school and the fun autumn weeks. Lots of learning, fun projects, and beautiful weather. Holidays are coming soon and it seems like time speeds up so fast until that day after Christmas when we have a big mess to clean up and we try to hold on to all the memories we've made in the past month or so. The new year is right around the corner and we need to get things into shape- including ourselves, our homes, revamping our schedules, and such. Sound familiar?
 
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I began homeschooling my kids with a curriculum where I taught it all. Our first year was great. The second year, the reality set in that effectively teaching my children required more hours than I had to give. I didn't want to give up teaching them entirely, and my husband and I knew there was a way to let someone else teach while I “aided” but I had several concerns. Among them were "How will I be able to gauge their learning if I’m not teaching them?” or “How do I know they are even paying attention to the videos? Are they really reading when the teacher asks them to ‘pause the program’?” and “I’ll miss that one-on-one time that we shared!” We did some research and we found the solution that we thought would fit our needs. We settled on BJU Press Distance Learning. BJU Press Distance Learning classes provide video lessons taught by expert teachers created for homeschooling families. They provide all of the resources I need to be sure my children are learning at their speed and ability. I can use the video lessons or teach the lessons myself- interchangeably when needed. Because I hadn’t used the product yet, I had some concerns- specifically, would I still be able to meet my kids’ needs and enjoy some of the homeschooling myself?
 
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The other morning I saw the question what's the difference between a scale and a balance, and can I use my Weight-Watcher's Scale. I pondered responding to the writer. There was a time, now decades ago, when I would have asked the exact same question. One of the things I have learned from using BJU Press materials for the past two and half decades is that it is truly user-friendly“ so, yes, if you have a digital kitchen scale and it can measure in grams, by all means, use it! But make sure you understand the difference between a scale and a balance, so that you can explain weight vs mass to your learner.
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Consultant Spotlight

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Esther Black

Esther Black is a second-generation homeschooler, wife, mom of 7, and HomeWorks by Precept Consultant from Iowa. Her goal is to encourage and support other homeschooling families to find the tools they need to continue investing in their children. ...
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Carla Heslop

As a homeschooling momma of 7, I’m familiar with the fear of ruining your children for life. I’ve even tossed around the idea of pushing my kids on the school bus and throwing in that towel! I desperately didn’t want to, and I just didn’t know what else to do! I was drowning. I needed homeschool help, and I just didn’t know where to find it...
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Beth Milligan

My name is Beth Milligan. I live in a beautiful part of North Idaho surrounded by glistening lakes and rugged forests. We live in a rural area where fishing and hiking are within minutes and where a moose may pay a visit on our back porch. In the summers, you will find our family of 5 playing a fun round of ...
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Natalie Smith

Natalie Smith lives in Fayetteville, NC – the home of Fort Bragg 82nd Airborne and US Army Special Operations. She graduated from Bob Jones University with a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Counseling and a Master of Arts in Teaching in Elementary Education. Natalie met her husband, Germaine, at Bob Jones University working in the University Cleaners. They have been married for 13 years. The Lord has blessed them with two girls. ...
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Sharon Huizinga

Sharon Huizinga lives in Michigan with Tom, her husband of 13 years, and their four children. They both grew up in Connecticut, met at church, and got to know each other better in college at Western Connecticut State University. Sharon graduated with her bachelor’s degree just a few weeks before she and Tom married in 2006. She went on to teach second, fourth and fifth grades in Christian schools. ...
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