Life Lessons

We started school this week.

All the curriculum came out. The books got dusted off and the pencils sharpened.

But I find it interesting that the most important lessons learned this week didn’t come from any books – they came from life.

Lessons like responsibility.

When you are the one responsible for getting up and feeding the pigs – and you happen to oversleep – pigs don’t like it.

They bend the fence in order to get out and run around the yard in search of food.

Your mom and your sister are not very happy when they have to help you get them in – and then figure out how to keep the fence together until your dad comes home.

Over an hour of the day is lost.

And your dad is not pleased with the bent fence.

“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.”                   Proverbs 6: 10-11

Or generosity.

That sacrificing the time to run to town for extra ingredients so you can work in a hot kitchen to make meals for those who just got out of the hospital makes you feel good.

Especially when you see the looks of appreciation on the faces of the recipients.

That taking the time to sit and down and visit when you delivered the meal was just as important as the meal itself.

And that by the time you left – you felt just as blessed as the ones you brought the meal to.

“A generous person will prosperous, whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25

This is what I would call real education.

There are some things in life that just can’t be taught in a textbook.


First Day of School

I can’t believe the summer is gone and we just had our first day of school.

I can’t believe this is the first year I don’t have someone in Alpha-Phonics learning to read.

I can’t believe that I have 2 kids in high school. When did that happen?!

It is amazing how quickly the years click by. I have now been home schooling for 10 years. Wow! It seems like just yesterday I was crying my way through my first year feeling like a total failure.

I was actually kinda proud of my kiddos as I watched them work. They were on task and quite independent. Well they were on task and independent once they figured out what they were doing.

We had several conversations that went something like this:

“Mom! What do I do for science?”

“It’s the book called ‘science’ on your shelf, dear.”

“Mom! What do I for math?”

“Umm…try page one in your math book! Remember, it’s the one we put on your shelf last week.”

But my favorite questions were the ones asking for a new book to read for literature. I am thrilled when I see all of children sitting around the house with a book in hand, carried away by a story.

Now that is the heart of my home school.

Saving Money on Home School Curriculum

After spending a wonderful weekend at the annual home school conference, I was once again amazed at how many curriculum choices we have to choose from.

When I was first involved in home schooling, as a recent college graduate in the late 1980’s in the height of the home school battle, the parents I worked with had just two choices, A Beka or Bob Jones. Now there were two gyms full of vendors and  hallways full of the overflow. There are catalogs 2 inches thick full of curriculum choices.

How do you choose? You could easily spend thousands (I know people who do every year), but you don’t have too.  We spend very little on home school materials and I still think our children are getting an excellent education.

Want to know my secrets?

1. Use non-consumable books. That means no workbooks that one child writes in and then you thrown them away. Whenever possible we buy hard back books for the first child that each child down the line will also use. For example, we just purchased Apologia Chemistry for $55. Sounds expensive doesn’t it? But it’s a hard cover book that all 5 of my children will use. That brings its cost down to just $11 per child for an excellent curriculum. Then when we’re done with it, I can resell it. Or look at Spelling Power. We purchased the book for about $50 several years ago. It starts about third grade and continues until your child has completed every level (usually about 10th grade.) I have five children who will use that one book for about 8 years each, which would be 40 years total. That brings the cost of that one book down to slightly over a dollar a year for each child.

2. Use literature. I’m a big fan of the literature approach to education. I’ve read a lot about Charlotte Mason and practice many of her ideas. When ever possible I’ll use a book rather than a text book. Library books are free! We also love book sales, garage sales and thrift stores.

3. Buy used. Before shelling out the big bucks for brand new books, check out eBay, Amazon, or the Curriculum Market at Home School Legal Defense (

4. Ask yourself if you need it. So much of the curriculum and extras we buy never even get used. Give yourself three good reasons why you need it before you buy.

5. Remember that an expensive curriculum doesn’t guarantee an excellent education. Many of the pioneer children had just the McGuffy Readers, the Bible and a few other books. The most important part of your child’s education is teaching them to love to learn.