What Boys Need From their Mom

Connor being knighted by his Dad 


I was asked to speak on this topic this week at our church’s Little Warrior Dinner to the Moms of younger elementary boys.  One of the things I love about our church is our Faith Path.  It is a well thought out path that includes parenting classes, child blessings, purity classes, and launching events for our our high schoolers.  It strives to put the church and parents into a partnership to raise Godly children.  Neither parents nor the church can or should do it on their own and it works best when they are working together in partnership.  Whenever I am asked to take part in on of these events, I generally happily accept as I have found it to be one of the most meaningful and purposeful programs our family have been apart of.  Since I was already writing something up for that event, I decided to share it here as well.

When I think about what boys need from their Mom the first thing I think is that boys need Moms who think long term.  So often as Moms, we are in the moment.  There are pressing things to do right now.  We need to do the laundry to make sure the kids are clothed, we need to go the grocery store to feed them, we need to get their homework done so that they can be educated.  It’s all pressing and very much in the right now.  However, if we really want to do the right things for our little men we need to think a little bigger and a with a little more forethought.  I think the question needs to be, “What kind of man, husband, father do I want my son to be?”  When I start thinking in those terms, I see what I need to be training my sons in now.

1. My boys need a Mom who show their Dads and themselves respect.  Boys need their Moms to respect their boyness.  I want my boys to grow up to be men and to do that I need to respect that they are different than my girl and myself.  They are more aggressive, they need to conquer things, they need to best themselves.  They need to be boys who are encouraged to be men. Respect that they are different.

2. Boys need Moms who train them to be Gentlemen. The definition of a gentleman is , ” A chivalrous, courteous, or honorable man” isn’t that what we want our sons to be as men? We need to teach them to open doors, say please and thank you, and take care of the people in their life. I want my sons to be men who are gentlemen. We need to be Moms that train that behavior in our little men. We need to teach it, to play act it, to expect it.

4. Boys need Moms who train and respect the Protective Warriors in the men in their lives.  One of my favorite pictures of all time is of Caileigh and Collin when they were three.  Caileigh is all dressed up in her princess attire and Collin has a shield and sword and is standing in front of her ready to protect her.  To this day, he is her protector, her shield and often the voice of caution to her crazy plans.  Now, I will be honest and say that Caileigh hasn’t always been a big fan of Collin’s protectiveness and we have had to train her to allow the men in her life ( her Dad, her Grandfathers and her brothers) to protect her.  To this end, all of our kids have taken karate for years so that they not only can protect themselves but to protect others.  We talked about that a lot when my kids were little.

5. Boys need Moms who ask them and expect them to do big things in their lives.  Even when they are young. We want our boys to become men who change the world for Christ. Boys also need Moms who know that failure is only a stepping stone to success.  Boys need Moms who allow them to fail and then encourage them to get back up, clean up the blood and try again. True failure is only when you stay down and don’t get up again. That’s how we eventually train boys to do hard, big things.  I like reading and telling stories of great men who did big things but also faced a lot of failure along the way.  Think Edison or Abraham Lincoln.

6. Boys need Moms who teach them how to do chores and expect them to do it.  My boys can clean, do laundry and cook a meal.  They can also mow, use a hammer and put in a light fixture.  They need to be able to take care of themselves and be competent at it.  My oldest actually thanked me that he knew how to do all of that before he went to college because many of his friends didn’t and it put them at a disadvantage.  There have also been times when I have been sick or out of town and my kids, all of them, had to step up and handle the housework and even if they didn’t like it, they knew how to.

Ultimately, boys need Moms who love God, who maintain a relationship with Christ and teach that relationship to their sons.

Here’s a resource that might also help 52 Things Sons Need From Their Moms


Keeping My Cool During Discipline

Sometimes we all need to just take a time out
I often speak about requiring your kids to respond with first time obedience (first time means you say it, they do it the very first time  Posts on first time Obedience ) I did and still do expect my kids to respond not only to their Dad and I with first time obedience,  but also to the authorities in their life.  When they don’t, we have a problem and we try to take care of that right away.

However, requiring first time obedience doesn’t mean that we raise our voice, stop using polite words, like please, with our requests or respond with short tempers.  Our out of control behavior, harsh tones or shouting should not be excused just because our kids are not being obedient.  We need to be modeling how to handle conflict even when we are completely exasperated, tired or have dealt with our children on this very issue for the 453rd time.  Our response is just as important of a training tool as the discipline itself.  Our kids are watching and learning from us all the time. 

Here are some tools I have used to help me keep my cool during times of conflict.

1.  This is not about me. Knowing and sometimes repeating this mantra, “This is not about me.”  When my kids were young, I had a tendency to think every misbehavior was a direct reflection of my abilities.  A wise older friend reminded me that we all are fallen and fall short of the glory of God and we need to understand that our children are sinners and have a sin nature and that our job, as parents, is to give them the same grace and gentle correction that God gives us.  It is not about me but about training my children in the same manner that God trains me. The Bible is clear that a good parent disciplines a child He loves and since I know how gently, but consistently, God disciplines me then I need to afford my kids the same grace.

2. Don’t discipline if you are angry.  I have a time out chair, not only for the kids, but for me.  If I was angry, I had my kids sit on the couch in self control hands while I went to my chair with self-control hands.  My hands were generally clasped in prayer as I knew I needed to seriously calm down before I said or did something I would regret later.  My parents disciplined in anger and as I was a very strong willed child, that parenting crossed lines it should have never crossed and it was damaging to me.  Taking the time to gain self control and pray allowed me to show and train my kids in anger management and appropriate conflict resolution.  A parent yelling at a child, using hurtful words or tones is never good parenting.  Taking the time to calm down and pray is wise and is setting a great example for your children.

3. Set rules, expectations and consequences ahead of time. I found it infinitely helpful in my kid’s younger years to have talked through our rules and consequences of those rules ahead of time with my husband.  We used the Doorpost poster and filled all of it out with the rules, the appropriate Bible verses (the Biblical reason why) and the consequences for each and posted them in several areas in our home.  This allowed my husband and I to be on the same page and the rules and consequences be consistent no matter who was at home.  We shared these with grandparents and babysitters so that the rules never changed.

4. Give Grace. We all have bad days.  We all have days that we just can’t seem to get it together.  We might be tired or in pain or just having a hard day and as I appreciate it when I get grace on days like that, I want to give my kids that as well.  If your children are characterized by first obedience (they are first time obedient 80% of the time), and within the first hour of the day are in trouble for the third time, pull them aside and get eye to eye and just ask them what is going on.  Remind them of the rules and then maybe just snuggle and watch a cartoon together for a bit.  

5. Be willing to ask for forgiveness. Sometimes, I lose it. Sometimes, I yell. Sometimes, I say things I don’t mean. I am a sinner and fallible.  Sometimes, I need to say, “I am so sorry that I handled that so badly. Please forgive me for yelling. I was wrong.”  Whenever I have blown it and have needed to apologize and ask my children’s forgiveness, they have responded with such grace and love.  They humble me and have taught me how to accept other’s apologies. 

Parenting is hard. Training children is hard. However, we are doing more than just disciplining our children, we are training them to appropriately handle conflict with their spouses and children. One way I use to check myself is to ask whether I would be okay with my someday grandchildren be spoken to, disciplined and trained in the same manner I am speaking, disciplining or training my kids.  There have been times that the answer to this was a resounding no and then I had some work to do.  Funny, I have become a much better wife, friend and daughter because of the heart training I have had to do since becoming a Mom.  It’s hard, but worth it. 

The Biblical, Moral and Ethical Reason Why

By the end of this game, Caileigh and her friends had invited 3 other younger kids to play because they have internalized the reasons we are kind.

When my kids were little we were encouraged to give our children the reason why we made the decisions we did.  I will be honest and say that it was awkward, time consuming and meant that we needed to use a lot of words.  Instead of just saying, “Stop running”, we had to say, “Stop running in the hallways at church so you don’t knock into anyone.”  Or, “No, we cant’t go to the party because you were sick yesterday and we need to be well for 24 hours so we don’t get anyone else sick.”  

One of the best ways we found to do this was to have the entire family memorize 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.


We then memorized these verses from Mathew 22:37-40

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

These two sections of scripture helped us have the tools we needed to teach our children why we do what we do and sometimes, why we don’t.

On sharing – 

“We share our toys with our friends because Jesus wants us to love others.  To love others we must be kind and it is kind to share our toys”.

On talking back –

” Using those words is disrespectful and rude.  Love is not rude nor does it dishonor others.” 

On taking flowers from other’s yard ( we said this to Caileigh A LOT!) –

” We don’t take things that are not ours and we want to leave the pretty flowers for others to enjoy.  Love is not self-seeking which means we put others first.”

Why is this important? 

We want to train our children to think Biblically. We also want them to be able to reason.  Unfortunately, they don’t know how to do this on their own. When we do this when our kids are young it creates children and teenagers who apply this thinking to other areas in their life. They also know how to express their reasoning.  I have overheard my son telling a group of boys, ” No, I don’t think we should tp a house because that is disrespectful and dishonoring of others property. Maybe we can think of something else funny to do.” I didn’t need to step in because he did exactly what he needed to do. 

When kids are little and sick, they don’t naturally want to skip the party or the fun event but we need to help them think with an attitude of putting others first. To do that we continually need to tell them how and why we make the decisions we do.  It’s a part of training thoughtful, kind and Godly young people. 

Curriculum I recommend – Elementary Math


**this page contains affiliate links – I am trying to get the page to pay for itself.**

We have used several great math programs. I have two main math curriculums going at one time per child which means we have gone through a lot of math.  Each child has a main or spine curriculum and then either a “Fun” math or a review math curriculum going on the side. In elementary, I never scheduled for math with both curriculum to be over 45-60 minutes. We also do math all year long with very little break so we do might do a different math for the summer. As I have twins who had a tendency to compare each other, there were also years that they did different math just to stop the comparisons. In other words, we have done a myriad of different maths but here are my favorites.

K and 1st – I actually loved the math in My Father’s World K and 1st as it is practical and hands on.  With Connor, I did traditional math far too early.  The twins ended up in the same place as Connor with a much better attitude and view of math than Connor did.  With the twins, we did MFW k and 1st math which is designed to go directly into Singapore 2a, and they memorized skip counting facts through 18, conquered basic addition and subtraction and learned basic time telling, patterns, calendar’s and had a wonderful time doing it.  The games and playing both grocery store and the “Sunshine Cafe” were great practice and great fun.  All three of mine would play these for hours using the directions in the TM and made wonderful progress in math.  I did put numbers amounts on all of Caileigh’s food in both her play grocery store and play kitchen and got them play money to pay.  I would advise everyone to skip formal curriculum and just play games and make math practical in those younger years.  I have done it both ways, and informal worked so much better.

Singapore Math US Edition – I absolutely love Singapore Math and have had success with all three of mine who were very different learners. For elementary, this was our spine, our main math.  Singapore really teaches kids to think mathematically and teaches several different ways to accomplish a problem.  It was really funny how the twins always chose a different way to do the same math problem. Connor really loved how it gave him the freedom to think of why the math worked the way it did verses just telling him the step by step how to.  I recommend starting with 1b in 2nd grade even if they test in higher as it gives them confidence and 1b introduces multiplication. Connor tested into Singapore later in Elementary and I started him half a book earlier than he tested into which worked well. Connor went up by 10 point in critical thinking the year we changed to Singapore.

A couple things about Singapore-

1. Get the US Edition –  it is NOT common core, it is the version Singapore itself uses with only the money changed. ( Seriously, Common Core wishes it were Singapore. Singapore Math has been around far longer than Common Core, so unless you specifically buy the CC version, and why would you, let’s strop this confusion here. )

2. You might need the Home Instructor’s Guide just to help you teach it.  I found the HIG necessary for 4a and above.

3. Remember the numbers are levels, not grades.  You do at least two levels a year but it maybe 1b/2a in a year or 2a/2b in a year depending on where the child is at.  This allows you to further fit the curriculum to your child’s needs.

Life of Fred – My kids love LOF math.  I used it as our “fun” math until middle school where it became a main math for the boys. I personally don’t find that the elementary curriculum has enough review and practice for elementary but for extra math, it was perfect.  It engaged all three of mine. Connor for the way it presented math, Caileigh for the story and Collin for the silliness.

Beast Academy– I think this could be either a main spine or fun math.  This is a rigorous curriculum designed for high level math thinkers but the fact that all the characters are monsters and the books are really colorful made it fun.  Caileigh did some as review as loved it.  My kids were older before they finished the series but it would have been something I used on a regular basis.

Abeka Speed Drills – Surprised to see this here, aren’t you? Sometimes, you just need your kids to drill in math.  For some kids, you also need a lot of review.  We used these throughout Elementary as a a daily speed drill and review.  Each day, they put on a timer and did the 6 or so problems of approximately whatever math grade year they were in.  It was easy for me to just give them and it was something they could do independently.  There were a few times that I got an Abeka math workbook to help cement some topics.  Caileigh needed this around 5th grade.  Abeka was colorful enough for her and very straightforward and had review.  It wasn’t her spine but it did help cement some of the ideas in Singapore for her during the summer.

Mathtacular by Sonlight – My kids loved these somewhat silly math videos/curriculum.  These were a life saver when I was sick or when they were sick and we couldn’t get to math.  My kids were entertained and learned or reviewed math.  They were also great for when the Grandparents were watching them during the school year.  These would also be a fun summer math to keep the kids learning and moving forward without a lot of hands on by Mom.  I do not think they are enough for a full curriculum but they are a great stand in.  They do have workbooks and the kids work through the math with the video.

More Curriculum Reviews Here –

Curriculum I Recommend – All in One Packages Elementary

Curriculum I Recommend – Foreign Language

Curriculum I Recommend – All in One Packages Elementary

It’s no secret that I have used an all in one curriculum for the majority of my homeschool years.  I have been often asked why I have as I am a curriculum junkie and love planning.  I was once asked by the author and designer of a curriculum why I would ever use one as I could just as easily put one together myself.  The answer is pretty simple, time and priorities.  I did write and put together a year of elementary for Connor and it took me 10-15 hours a week of curriculum design.  Chores didn’t get done, dinner was often cereal or pb&j’s and I didn’t get to do what I actually loved, teaching.  My priority was to teach my three kids and if I found a curriculum that matched about 80% of my goals, then I was happy.  Once I had a base, I could tweak it but it didn’t take me near the amount of time that writing from scratch would have.

My husband and I had three main goals in the education of our kids.

1. It had to have the Bible integrated.

2. It had to be engaging and needed to help our kids to love to learn.

3.  It needed to be academically rigorous.

After that, I wanted it to follow a Classical philosophy of education.  I wasn’t a strict Classical Educator, nor am I now, but I most closely identify with that philosophy of education.

At the time, there weren’t as many options that fit these goals as there are now, but I think I probably would choose the same now as I did then.

My Father’s World – We have loved My Father’s World and it has more than met all of our goals for our kid’s education, particularly in Elementary and Middle School.  I still think the Biblical foundation and the missions outreach focus is second to none.  It helped my kids to love God and to not merely be hearers of the Word but doers of the Word.  We also loved all the hands on projects, family meals and games that it brought into our lives.  It was thorough without being over kill and had a short enough day that I could add other things in if I wanted to, while still allowing my kids to explore, play and have a fun childhood.  My kids were reading by the time we hit MFW K and 1st but we did them all the same while adding in other reading because of the amazing Biblical foundation that they provided.  They were also a gentle, fun and engaging way to step into education.  We often ( me included) try to push our oldest kids too far, too fast and this ends in burned out 2nd and 3rd graders who hate school.  MFW taught me how to allow my kids to enjoy school and not to push them beyond what they can emotionally handle even if they can academically.  We loved the family learning cycle, and all the hands on projects/meals/festivals allowed us to learn as a family and made connections for my kids that just academics wouldn’t have. They remember Roman culture because we made the togas, ate the food and learned about the weapons. It is still my number one recommendation for Elementary.

However, there are others that have come out or been revamped since my kids were in Elementary that I would be remiss in not mentioning.

Sonlight – Had I just been educating Connor and not the twins, who were movers and shakers, I think we might have ended up with Sonlight.  Both Connor and I love to read and loved nothing better than a pile of books to read together.  Sonlight is a solid choice but it is not for kids who need to move, do a project or can’t sit still.  I do and have used Sonlight readers and Sonlight’s Summer Reading Packages through out the years.  They have also revamped some of their Cores to better combine kids and would be on my top list if I was choosing Elementary curriculum today.

Heart of Dakota – This curriculum wasn’t available when my kids were younger but had it been, I think it would have been a very strong contender.  The Bible is excellent, it has more of a personal relationship bent than MFW which isn’t bad, just different.  Much like a church that is more relationship oriented than missions oriented.  Both Biblical but with slightly different priorities.  You can combine children, although they follow the youngest child rather than the oldest as MFW does.  It is also far more Charlotte Mason than Classical.  This might have been a deal breaker for me, although the really pretty notebooking pages and TM might have swayed me.

I think any of these choices are good, solid, Biblical choices.  It may be more about the personality of both the teacher and the students as to what would be the best choice but I don’t think you could go wrong with any of them.

Curriculum I Recommend – Foreign Language

I get asked these questions so often that I decided it would be better just to write a series of posts about curriculum that I have actually used and recommend.  Just to be above board, there are affiliate links on these pages.  As many of you are, we are a one income family and it costs money to pay for this page and I need to at least try to recoup the costs.  Thus far, I haven’t even made enough to pay for the start up costs over a year ago, much to my husband’s chagrin.  So, if you are interested in the things I share, please use the links provided as it will help me to keep this blog going.

Spanish – 

Foreign Languages are the one subject that I have spent the most money on and have had the biggest fails.  I have bought more than one curriculum and found it did nothing for my kids.  We started our kids on Spanish while they were in pre-school and bought several programs designed to help them get an ear for the language.  Then in Elementary we bought several more for multiple years and faithfully did them daily.  While they taught my kids the vocabulary, none of them taught my kids to actually converse in Spanish until Homeschool Spanish Academy.

Homeschool Spanish Academy – I was introduced to HSA by a review on The Well Trained Mind Forum and since they offer a free introductory class and after 5 years of another program in which Connor still couldn’t carry on a conversation in Spanish, we tried it.  What’s to lose?  A free introductory class with a native Spanish speaker over the internet?  We didn’t even have to leave home or get out of our pj’s – perfect!  After one class, we were sold.  Connor had the same teacher for the majority of his classes over the next four years of high school whom he loved.  (No, I won’t tell you her name, because she is hard enough to book and the twins love her too.)  Connor went through all four levels of their rigorous high school curriculum and it allowed him to travel to Spain and be able to navigate the language and the city. It also allowed him to skip having to take a foreign language in College.  As a bonus, I love that the teachers get to know our kids.  They are engaged in our kid’s lives and get to know who are kids are, what they are interested in, and become a real part of their high school career.  This also allowed us to have an outside teacher who was able to give Connor an academic recommendation to both Colleges and Scholarships, which was huge.  I have only ever used their High School Program but had it been around when my kids were younger, I would have used it starting in Elementary.  I threw a lot of money at programs that didn’t work and Homeschool Spanish Academy would have been less money in the long run than buying the three other programs that I did try. One tip, if you have a teacher you love, book early.  I booked the twins classes at the end of May for the next school year.  All the teachers are equally good but if you find one that your child connects with, it’s worth trying to get that teacher.  We have had substitutes and they are all great teachers but my kids definitely connect with one over the others.

Click Here for Free HSA Intro Class

Latin – 

We have our kids start taking Latin in later Elementary and Middle School.  My husband took and spoke both Spanish and Latin and felt it was very helpful to him and studies show how much learning Latin can help Vocabulary, Critical Thinking and as a base for other Languages.  Here too, I have spent and gone through several curriculums to get it right.  Remember that Latin a dead language and a curriculum that doesn’t teach your child to conjugate and read the language isn’t going to work, which I learned after two different disastrous attempts.  What did work? Here’s my favorites.

Lively Latin – All three of mine really liked the Big Book of Latin 1 and 2.  We did the both of them over about 4 years, 3rd though 6th.  They were engaging, had fun history lessons, were anything but boring and gave my kids a firm basis in Latin and in Roman History.  They also liked the online games and classes available to them on the website. We did the books together as much as possible and the twins did fine hanging with Connor.  They do have CD’s of pronunciations, both Classical and Ecclesiastical depending on your preference. I bought the hard copies of the books because I really didn’t want to have to copy and prepare the books for all the kids.

First Form Latin – After we finished Lively Latin, we moved into First Form Latin from Memoria Press.  We watched the videos together, and did the workbooks during the week.  Latin isn’t always the most fun and I would say that this wasn’t necessarily fun but it still kept their attention and gave them a firm foundation in Latin.  I would say that the Instructional Videos are pretty important to have and go through.  This is a solid, efficient curriculum that will give them a full credit of Latin in high school.  If you had kids who were still interested in going further in Latin, then the series goes on to Second through Fourth Form Latin.  Our kids had a pretty firm foundation in it and we needed to focus more on Spanish as not all Colleges will accept Latin as a Foreign Language and we wanted the practicality of being able to speak another language.

A Reason for Obedience

I love to read! Reading takes me away from everyday trials and tribulations as well as frequently giving me new things to think about. This weekend I read, “At the Back of the North Wind” by George MacDonald. George MacDonald was a preacher and writer who lived in the 1800’s. He was mentor to such writers as Lewis Carroll and ultimately C.S. Lewis. C.S. Lewis said about MacDonald,”I have never written a book in which I did not quote from him.” MacDonald was a master storyteller of fantasy (as in Phantastes, Lillith and The Princess and Curdie) as well as many moral stories set in England and Scotland where he lived. My favorites are by far  the fantasies, as I know that somewhere in the fantasy are greater truths to be found. I found one such tidbit this weekend on obedience. The main character in “At the Back of the North Wind” is a boy by the name of Diamond who was learning to drive his father’s cab. MacDonald says this about Diamond.

“Diamond learned to drive all the sooner that he had been accustomed to do what he was told, and could obey the smallest hint in a moment. Nothing helps one to get on like that. Some people don’t know how to do what they are told; they have not been used to it and they neither understand quickly nor are able to turn what they do understand into action quickly. With an obedient mind one learns the rights of things fast enough; for it is the law of the universe, and to obey is to understand.”

What a thought! Obedience leads to understanding and then to action! It’s our job as parents to not only train our children to obey but to expect obedience from them.

We love this Radio Drama version from Focus on the Family,  At the Back of the North Wind.

Other blogs on training obedience in our kids –

“10 Practical Things” Extended – Child and Parent Training Pt 1

“10 Practical Things” Extended Pt 2 – Child Training

I obey right away! 



Failure, A Necessary Evil

Failure. It’s painful but necessary. My kids are being reminded of this again this week. We are at a National Tournament at Milligan for Bible Bowl and after a year of sweeping our Round Robin, we weren’t slaughtered, but we definitely didn’t even get close to winning. Teaching our kids to lose and fail gracefully without losing heart  ( or their mind) is an important life skill. 

Winston Churchill said, ” Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” 

There are a couple of ways to help teach failure. 

1. Spelling Tests – by second or third grade, kids should be taking spelling tests. Both of my boys really struggled with this.  We talked about the fact that since Jesus was the only perfect person, I don’t expect perfection and neither should they. We discussed the fact that school is about learning and getting everything right the first time, isn’t learning.  Still my boys struggled with failing anything so, being the ever compassionate Mom, I told them we were going to start taking a test ( math, spelling, whatever) every single day until they could handle them appropriately.  

2. Correcting all wrong answers – I continually have my kids correct any and all answers they get wrong and remind my kids that it’s not about the grade, it’s about the learning. It also helps to show them that we are not going to stay in failure but learn from it and accomplish more next time. 

3. Let them fail – I know this is really hard.  It is brutal, however the small failures that our kids may fail in now do not compare to the possible failures in the future. If you set a due date for a paper, keep to that due date.  If they lose a letter grade each day the paper is late and they can’t go to a party they wanted to until that paper is turned in, keep strong and let them fail.  The lesson learned will be a far greater life lesson than  any paper. Instead of going through their bag to make sure they have everything they need for piano, make a checklist and put them in charge of it.  If they forget something, don’t save them, especially if it’s just a lesson ( a recital may be a different ballgame). Let them fail.

4.  Teach them self-control.  Oh, how I wish parents would teach this when their kids were little.  This week alone, I have seen several kids who don’t know how to use self-control and they throw the teen version of a temper tantrum. When they are young, play games, lots of games and model good sportsmanship.  If they win tell them to say, “Good game, thanks for playing” to each and every person playing and then have the winner reset or put the game away.  If they lose,  have them say, ” Good job” and then shake the winner’s hand.  If they start to cry have them go to a quiet corner until they can get self-control and then they need to come back to the winner to tell them good job.  For kids in the corner, have them hold their hands clasped in their laps ( we call these self-control hands) until they gain self-control.  Don’t stop what you are doing while the child is in the corner, they need to  know that life is going on while they are getting self-control. 

5. Read and tell them stories of those who failed and kept going.  Like Thomas Edison who said, “I haven’t failed. I just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.” Abraham Lincoln tried many things that failed pretty spectacularly but he learned from each of those things and then used those skills later. Tell them stories of those that never gave up no matter the odds.  I tell mine that it’s fine to fail and fall but it’s not okay to stay and wallow in that failure.  Take a moment to acknowledge the hurt then shake off the dirt and move on. 

Shining like a Star!

An oldie but goodie….

Every parent would love to have their children do everything they are told without complaining and arguing …and whining. Not only is this a skill that would change our days into wonderful sunshine filled hours, God commands us to. In Philippians 2:14 Paul writes, “ Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you might become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you will shine like the stars in the universe.” I know that if I did everything without complaining or arguing, the people in my life would be more pleased to be around me (especially my husband) as will the people in your children’s life.

Idea one: Read this verse with your children. Explain that complaining and arguing also means whining. Demonstrate how much nicer it is to be around someone who doesn’t complain or whine, As odd as it may sound, I do this by talking in a whiny voice to my children and then talk to them in a nice tone of voice. Have them try it a time or two so that they can hear the difference.

Idea two: Have your children memorize Phil. 2:14 I write memory verses on a poster board and work on memory verses for several days in a row. I also make up motions to help kids remember. I abbreviate this verse for my younger two so that it says, “ Do everything without whining and complaining so that you shine like a stars in the heavens.” For a quick motto we say, “I don’t whine, I shine!” Say it over several times, louder is always more fun!

Idea three: Spend an evening looking at the stars with your children and talk to them about how the stars light up the sky. Read about stars and tell your children that stars are millions of miles away ( the sun is a star and is approx. 93 million miles away) and yet even being so far away they can brighten the entire sky. When we do everything without complaining, arguing and whining we brighten up everyone around us and shine so that everyone can see the difference that Jesus make in our lives.


Advanced Placement Courses at Home

***this page contains affiliate links. I only endorse programs that I actually use in our actual lives and homeschool journey***
APs or Advanced Placement Courses can seem daunting.  They can also seem like something that a homeschooler can’t accomplish but we have found that not only can the class be taught at home, our most successful courses have been designed by me instead of through an outside class.

There are several things that must be understood about APs.  All courses that are called AP must be approved through the College Board.  However, that doesn’t mean you have to go through an AP class to take an AP Exam.  Anyone can take an AP Exam as long as they can find a local high school to allow them access to take the test and that they are willing to pay the fee (usually its around $100). AP or Honors (I call AP classes that I design Honors Classes on my kids transcripts) Classes are worth more for GPA’s.  An A on an Honors or AP course is woth 5 pts instead of the usual 4.  B’s are 4, C’s are 3 and so forth.

Why AP’s?

I get asked fairly often why we do APs rather than Dual Enrollment or Cleps? Dual Enrollment means that I am no longer in charge of picking their curriculum or their teacher as I do with online courses which makes me uncomfortable .  I want a firm Biblical Worldview for my kids and Dual Enrollment classes are generally secular.  I am still working on their Biblical foundation during these ever important formation years.  If I choose something like  Thinkwell, which is secular, I balance it with a resource with a Biblical foundation.  Not to mention, I am still actively involved and can have discussions about Worldview with my kids when it is needed. There can also be a downside to Dual Enrollment when enrolling your kids into College.  If they have more than about 20 credits (this number varies by school), then they are no longer eligible for the ever important freshman scholarships. Let’s say that my son had 20 DE credits going into school and that made him a Sophomore.  Okay, we saved, with room and board, about $26,000. My son received freshman scholarships totaling over $54,000.  That’s enough to pay for the majority of his tuition.  That means that instead of saving money, we would have lost money. He had 12-15 AP Credits but they didn’t count towards his freshmen status.  So why did we choose APs rather than Cleps? For the rather simple reason that the Selective Schools, Programs and Scholarships that my oldest applied to didn’t accept the Cleps that he did have.  Fortunately, we had done both APs and a few Cleps so it wasn’t a total loss.  After talking to a lot of College registrars for Selective Schools and Programs, we came to the realization that Cleps weren’t worth our time and money.  The twins are looking at the same level of Schools and programs so we chose APs as the best option to help prepare them for College.

There are several way you can teach and prepare for an AP Exam-

The Online Class

There are several online schools that offer AP classes.  Their courses are approved by the College Board and they have designed the class to teach and prepare for AP Exams.

PA Homeschoolers – They are by far the largest provider of online AP homeschool exams.  Many of the classes are hard to find elsewhere.

HSLDA Academy – Newer to the AP online courses, I haven’t used them or know of anyone who has.  Still, it’s HSLDA and they probably have a very Biblical Worldview. I think the Social Studies Courses (Government, Economics and History) would be excellent and would have a point of view that many of us agree with.

Thinkwell Homeschool – Thinkwell isn’t a live class, it is a video lecture with online homework.  This makes it much less expensive.  We use Thinkwell for math and will be using them for several APs. However, they are a secular organization so tread carefully, I usually combine Thinkwell with books that are from a distinctly Christian point of view for balance.

The Non- College Board Approved Online Class

We have taken several classes that haven’t been approved as an AP class but are clearly designed to prep kids for those classes or are just so advanced that they work beautifully.  Generally, you will need to add AP review books from Amazon.

Art of Problem Solving – AOPS is an extremely rigorous math curriculum and online school.  Their Calculus course covers most of the topics in Calc AB and Calc BC.  By looking at their scope and sequence and the AP Exam, we realized that this course was more than what we needed.  It also taught math in a way that two of my kids respond to.  Connor did very well on his AP Exam after taking this course.

Well Trained Mind Academy – We have taken courses from WTM and they are excellent.  I use much of their materials to design our AP English Lit and Composition Course.  They do have an AP test prep course for Advanced US History.

Homeschool Spanish Academy – Connor went through all 4 levels of HSA and during his Senior year and we debated long and hard whether to have him take the AP Spanish test.  In the end, he just didn’t want to as he was already taking 3, but after having looked at their scope and sequence and talking to his teacher and customer service, I think he could have taken it successfully.  HSA doesn’t claim to prep for the AP, but their curriculum is thorough and rigorous and if your student is interested in the AP Spanish, I would talk to their teacher and see if your student could be prepared to take it. 
Designing Your Own Class –

We have done this several times and while it is the most work on the homeschool teacher’s part, it also gives you the most control over curriculum. The trick to this is to know what’s needed on the AP Exam.  The College Board will have the course descriptions on its website but I find it easier to just get the AP Exam review books from Amazon. I usually get the Review book and then I find the curriculum to fit our needs.

Here’s a few examples – 

AP Psychology – We used Sonlight’s Psychology Course this year and we thought it was good.  I liked how it had a Christian perspective to read right along side the secular textbook.  I think my twins gained a lot from taking this course besides being able to take the AP.  They learned more about people.  They learned about brain function, personalities, and a basic understanding of mental diseases.  I have found my twins using this information in their daily lives in an effort to better understand the people and situations in their life which I think has been well worth it.

AP English Lit. – For both Connor and the twins, we have used a combination of Sonlight’s British Literature and Well Trained Mind Press’ Writing With Skill 3, to put together an AP English Lit class.  This one requires me to look through the review book carefully to make sure we cover everything but I really like both of these curriculum’s so it is worth the extra work to me.  I am still trying to teach my kids what they need to learn and not just teach to a test which is why  I often choose a curriculum or program that I love and then use an AP Review book to cover all the bases.

AP Biology/Chemistry/Physics – I like to design my kids AP Science courses as I still want my kids to learn from a distinctly Biblical Worldview alongside the AP Science.  For these my kids do both the basic and advanced Apologia books (for example Biology and Advanced Biology) and then have them do a secular AP book/program alongside.  We are using Thinkwell to go alongside Advanced Biology for Caileigh and Advanced Chemistry for Collin. Connor used MIT’s OpenCourseware alongside Advanced Physics in his senior year. 

Regardless of what you choose to use for APs make sure your child has ample time to get through ALL the material and then review, review, review! We like Varsity Tutor’s online practice tests.  They are free and immediately show your kids where they need to study more. 

Finding a School to take the Exam –

The AP tests are given the first two weeks in May but you will need to find a school that will allow your student to take the test.  You should start this process in January. I call all the high schools in our school district starting in January to find a school and get my kids signed up.  I found it easier to just skip calling the College Board and just call the schools directly.  The fee may vary but they are usually around $100.