Homeschool Mom's Bible
January 8, 2014 Edition 

How do I balance building character and academics?    

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Mercy Every Minute   

The Wuehler Family

A wise homeschool speaker once said that character is always more important than academics. And, if you have to, stop the academics to work on the character. I sometimes forget and get it backwards as I try to keep that agenda of schoolwork going.


The scenario might be two children sitting at the kitchen table doing their math. They begin arguing as one boy kicks the other under the table and voices rise. Normally, we might say, "Stop that fighting and finish your math." Or we might say, "If you keep arguing, I am going to double your assignment!" Or we might even say, "You stay here, and you go in the other room to finish your math," just so we can have peace.


The better way would be to stop, drop, and pray. Stop the math. Stop whatever you are doing (believe me, it really isn't that important) and talk about the character flaw in each child, and the virtue and rewards of obedience and loving each other. Do this without anger--after all, your children are natural born sinners. Your angry authority will not help, but God's peaceful authority will, so open your Bible together, and then pray together. After all that, then resume the academics.


Will it put you behind in academics? It might! But you'll be ahead in character. Academics can always be caught up in the later years, but you won't get these younger years back to work on Godly character. They don't get better or more reasonable as they get older, rather they can become set in the character they have formed in the early years.


Our kids might be well-behaved and polite in public. But behind closed doors, they argue with each other, are slow to obey, and tattle constantly. Something has to change. Their character needs improvement. This is a good time of year to sit all the kids down and let them know that you will be working on character building and how that will look in your house. Here is some help:

  • Be the example of the needed character trait. If there is anger in your home: be slow to anger. Have a soft answer. Be kind. If your children won't repent, start repenting to them for your ungodly behavior. Be the example.
  • Pour the Word of God into them daily. Memorize scriptures pertaining to the character trait. When situations arise, remind them of those scriptures or go research together from God's Word (extremely important: more so than academics!) Here's one I pull out often:

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

  • Find products that encourage good character. Take time off for a unit study in a particular character trait.
  • Stop, drop and pray!

Academic excellence is important, but let's not make it the primary goal. Character excellence comes first in God's house, as it should be in ours as we keep them Home Where They Belong.


"Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD." Jeremiah 9:23, 24




 P.S. Have you ever inwardly or outwardly pointed the finger at another homeschooler who didn't live up to your standards? Homeschool Pharisees from our Jan/Feb issue is a must read.




Our world continues to grow in complexity and uncertainty. Despite the challenges in today's world, there are two essential areas for us to guide our children to ensure they have the best chance to reach their hopes and dreams: academics and character.


The statistics are clear about the importance of an academic education to enable our children to reach their potential. Despite this overwhelming evidence about the importance of education, we have all experienced the disastrous impact when leaders in business, ministry, or public service have a great academic education, but lack character in the conduct of their responsibilities. The importance of strengthening character along with an academic education is a "winning" combination for sustaining a life of positive impact.


How do we do both as parents and educators? Here are a few steps to consider:

  1. The instruction of academics should be reinforced with the importance of character. Without the demonstration of character traits like discipline and commitment, most students will not achieve academic success. As parents, when we provide academic instruction, we should reinforce the instruction with the necessary character traits that will ensure success. "Learning a second language is important to succeed in a diverse world and it will not come about without strong commitment and determination" is an example of speaking to the importance of both.
  2. Reinforce the importance of character in successes and failures in the academic journey of our children. "You set a great example of perseverance by overcoming a slow start in math to then finish the year with an A" is an example of reinforcing character in everyday academic results.

The consistent application of these small steps will ensure our children grow in appreciation of the importance of academics and character in reaching their goals.

Character Creates Opportunity  

David Esposito, Managing Partner, Harvest Time Partners, Inc.


David has developed award-winning resources under the brand Character Creates Opportunity, a character-development initiative designed for all ages. He is the inventor of Abundant Harvest--families, schools, counseling programs, and faith-based organizations nationwide enjoy playing this patented and award-winning conversation game. It opens the door to more productive dialogue and encourages decision making based on such principles as honesty, loyalty, and commitment. David provides support to individuals, families, and organizations on a variety of topics.  


You can contact David at or by calling (877) 786-4278. Visit to learn more.


The Familyman 
We're in the midst of a big dig-out here in northern Indiana. To my children's delight, we got some BIG snow. We played out in it yesterday, but today the temperatures have plummeted and it's bitterly cold. It's too cold for playing outside, although we did spend some time trying to get our big van out of the driveway. It may be awhile before we can use our other vehicles.

I declared today a snow day as did all the schools in the state ... allowing us to put off the real world for at least another day.

It's sad that the "lie" that "school days" only occur when "school" is in session has been so ingrained into our thinking. How stupid is that? The truth is school and learning really do take place 365 days a year. That's not just something I say to be "quaint."

It's also been beaten into our heads, to the point that we have trouble believing otherwise, that academics are every bit as important as character and godly living. It's just not true. We try really hard to balance the two areas, but we almost always lean toward the academic side.


We would never say that, but here's how it happens: school needs to get done, you feel behind, your kids seem dumb; so you push hard, get frustrated, yell, threaten--all for the sake of "learning." You thought you were just focusing on academics, but the truth is, you are always teaching character, and here's what you inadvertently taught them:


School is more important than everything.


Kids are a pain and make everything hard.


You (the mom) can't smile unless your child pleases you by being smart ... and they're not smart; that's why we have to work so hard on this.


Forget about all that stuff we read out of the Bible about not getting angry and being kind to one another. Just learn, learn, learn!!!!


On the other hand, guess what your children learn about character when you play in the snow with them? You tell me, which one matters more?


It's time for a snow day ... even if you live in south Florida.


Be Real,



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The team knows you want to teach your children more than how to spell or how to add and subtract. You want to teach them how to live. Many of our classes provide tools to help you weave character building into your academics. Let us show you some examples:
  • Home Economics relates an orderly home to an orderly heart.
  • Classical Archaeology explores various ancient sites from the Bible and history.
  • Everyday Epistles equips your family with a method to memorize the entire book of Philippians in twenty-eight weeks.
  • Geology and Everyday Astronomy study the earth and heavens from a creation science point of view.
  • Family Fitness connects what you learn about a healthy body to a healthy spirit.
  • Social Justice challenges teens to take a closer look at human slavery and then do something about it.
  • Units such as Simply Shakespeare, Everyday Easels, and Literature Kits weave Bible references naturally throughout the material.
  • Asia: Trade Route Safari looks at the wondrous animals God has created and also looks at the history and lives of people in Asia, including those who are persecuted for their faith.
  • Schoolhouse Spelling and Everyday Copywork incorporate Scripture into copywork.
  • Our newest Daily, Joy in the Morning, gives moms a daily dose of encouragement and humor to help equip them to tackle the challenges ahead.

Here's what Janelle Chille of Mason City, Iowa, had to say:


"I have been a subscriber to your magazine for a long time now. It is the only magazine I subscribe to and recommend. I love that its content is so unabashedly bold for Christ. You are to be commended for that. Only just this past week have I seriously checked into the content of the SchoolhouseTeachers site ... May I just say wow?! ... You are clearly able to offer WAY more content with this format. As a mother called by the Lord to homeschool my children, I want to sincerely thank you for the wealth of information and encouragement you have provided our family and countless others. Such a blessing. I know without a doubt that I would not be as confident, or effective, at homeschooling if it weren't for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.

We will keep you in our prayers as you continue this bold journey the Lord has you on."


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Raising Real Men    
One of the things that frustrates us the most is having a list a mile long when one of the children has the kind of meltdown you can't ignore. You know the kind we're talking about--where Mutiny on the Bounty and the Civil War are happening at the same time . . . in your living room. The kind of meltdown that demands full attention from every adult who is home or who can be reached by cell phone. The kind of meltdown that includes tears, accusations, recriminations, and anger. The kind of meltdown that takes forever to work out. 

Or, maybe it's just a series of minor discipline issues. Gripe, gripe, gripe. Whine, whine, whine. Pestering and teasing. It's not just one child; it's everyone. All day.


Sometimes we get to the end of the day and think, "Great, just great. The entire day is wasted. We've gotten nothing done. Nothing. Arrggghhhh." Sometimes we've even said it aloud to the children. Surely you've felt the same way. Is it right, though? Are those days really wasted?


Wonder what the Lord thinks about it?


When we look through the Word of God, we see very little about academics, but a great deal about discipleship. That's a little hard for us to admit. We love academics. We love books. We love learning. But, we have to love God first.  


With that in mind, it's pretty clear that character has got to come before academics. How can you manage that without chucking the academics entirely? Here are some thoughts:


When one child is losing it, sit him down and tell him you'll be with them in a minute, and then give the other children instructions so they can keep going.


Keep your cool. Somebody's got to be the adult in the situation and it's not going to be your child! The calmer we are, the faster we'll be able to bring our child to his senses.


Use the Word of God. It's much more powerful than our words! We like to pull out For Instruction in Righteousness by Doorposts and have each of us take terms reading the passages that apply to our situation. It's always amazing to see the Lord change their hearts--and ours.


Fully forgive. We should be careful not to "forgive" by being grudging or angry, but by showing joy that our child has come to repentance. We often think of the father of the prodigal son for an example. When we forgive our children fully and freely, we teach them about God.


Don't despair. Why are we homeschooling anyway? For our family, it's all about serving God. If so, maybe we should be satisfied when God's curriculum for the day is different than ours. When we think about it that way, it changes everything, doesn't it? 


This month we're celebrating the twentieth anniversary of our homeschool. Honestly, we've had an awful lot of those days that feel wasted to us. When we look at the godly men our grown children have become, though, we realize that those "wasted" days were probably the most important ones of all.  


Yours in the battle,

Hal & Melanie


P.S. When our boys were nine to twelve years old, it seemed like days like that were constant. Need some practical ideas? Need some encouragement and hope? Join us for Boot Camp 9-12: Getting Geared Up for the Teen Years--a LIVE interactive webinar series for parents of boys nine to twelve years old. Our next session starts tomorrow! Click here for more information.    


Marriage? What does that have to do with homeschooling? Lots! Spend some time on the two of you in our Marriage Retreat Online, the only marriage retreat you don't have to hire a sitter for, our LIVE interactive webinar series for couples--by the authors of My Beloved and My Friend: How to be Married to Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses! Click here!  



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Busy Mom's at the Beach
Join Heidi St. John (The Busy Mom) on the Oregon Coast for a weekend of growth, fun and rest! Heidi, along with a part of the Firmly Planted Family team, will be speaking encouragement to busy moms. Expect to learn and grow in the Lord, be encouraged in your marriage, and be empowered as a mother. We hope to see burdens lifted and hearts warmed! There will also be fun group activities, worship, prayer time alone (this can be done walking on the beach!!), a special prayer station session, and lots and lots of fellowship (if the weather is favorable, around a campfire!) with like-minded women.

It is our passion to love and encourage women and therefore we are thrilled for this retreat! So come, maybe grab a friend, and join us for a much needed weekend of rest! We look forward to seeing YOU at the beach! Click here to learn more.

"I think one of the best things about homeschooling
is that you don't have to be exposed to a lot of propaganda."
- Dr. Ben Carson

in the latest issue of
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.



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Contest Corner 

For the month of January, 2014     


Learning to Sew for Kids, Level 1 from Pixie Candy's Projects


Do your little ones want to learn to sew? I have a little girl who has just been begging for sewing lessons all year long. I had the wonderful privilege to review the DVD Pixie Candy's Projects: Learn How to Sew for Kids, Level 1, by Kids Sewing. It has five beginning projects for kids learning to sew with a sewing machine, ages five and up. It is taught by designer, Katrina Marie and sells for $39.95.


This DVD is set up to teach beginners how to sew. Since it is on a DVD it can be used in a home or school setting. The projects are fun, simple, and things that your little ones will enjoy making. Each project teaches you how to make a pattern first, then gives simple step-by-step instructions to guide you through making it. You'll learn everything from making your pattern templates to marking, cutting, pinning, sewing, turning, clipping, ironing, stuffing, hand sewing, and finishing. The materials needed are outlined from the beginning, so you will be sure to be prepared ahead of time. Projects included on this DVD are: a Hair Bow, Neck Roll, Plush Pillow, Kitchen Apron and a Pretty Purse. The projects are meant to prepare your kids for the next level which includes five more fun projects.


We have made several of the projects on the DVD already. My kids' favorite was the neck roll pillow. Even my son wanted to be a part of this project and enjoyed making it along with his sister. It was simple enough that my kids really could do most of it on their own. They didn't have any experience with sewing before beginning this DVD, so I had to help them with a lot of the actual sewing to help familiarize them with it. They loved choosing their fabric, measuring, marking and cutting their fabric on their own. (Read the rest of the review...) 


 You can WIN this DVD!


TO ENTER: Email Heather with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line, "Learning to Sew" for a chance to win* this amazing homeschool resource for your family!

In this week's issue:

Writing Tales
Molly Green

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