October 26, 2016 Edition 
Harnessing the Power of Technology (Now what do I do with it?!)
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Mercy Every Minute   

The Wuehler Family
From the July 20, 2016, Edition of THM:

As I sit in a hotel room in Colorado this morning, I have been texting my 13-year-old, snapchatting my 21-year-old, and watching my kids cook in California through a camera that is connected to my phone. I can send my boarding pass to my phone, find my way to the airport through a GPS system, and edit for TOS magazine virtually.
Technology is allowing me to continue to stay productive and connected. It's a beautiful thing.
BUT . . . it can be extremely dangerous to children, and it can waste your own valuable time that you can never get back.
This plugged-in generation has access to everything imaginable under the sun: good and bad. As the days grow more evil, so do the technology and the evil it produces. (Here are some guidelines our family has adopted.)
Technology is helpful and saves us time when we use it for research, education, work, and staying connected to family. But when it becomes an escape from those things that are waiting to be done or children waiting to interact in real life with you, then it wastes precious time. Sometimes we just have to say, "No!" to the technology that beckons us in order to ensure the best and highest use of our time. We need to be good stewards of the hours in the day that God has given us.
Moms - set time limits, not only for your kids, but for yourself. Instead of interacting with a screen, put it down and look at your children. Listen to them. Teach them by example. We have kids who grow up with their faces stuck in front of screens because they have learned by our example, or we have failed to set limits or guidelines.
It is super easy to check out of real life for the momentary pleasure of technology in all its forms. Tragically, we could let another day go by where we haven't done something for the spiritual life of the home. Before you pick up that phone, handheld device, or get on that computer, ask yourself if you've done the most important thing of plugging yourself and your children into Jesus Christ and His Word.
Take control of the technology. Let's do what Ephesians 5:16 says and, "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil."
Did you know you can see all of our past Homeschool Minutes? Here are some archived Homeschool Minutes on the subject of technology:


Prepare students for the digital age! Learn to use a computer and office-style applications or code websites, video games, and apps at  

Raising Real Men    
Do you have a technology strategy for your homeschool?

We spend our vacations near a lake. We know accidents can happen, and sometimes we see a snake in the water. How should we respond?

We could move to the desert and avoid all the dangers--and all the benefits--of large bodies of water.

We could just tell the kids don't go too deep, and then turn them loose, and hope for the best.

Or we could teach them to swim; make sure they wear a life jacket in the canoe, and recognize (and avoid) a poisonous snake when they see it!

Your family's technology strategy is the same way. You can avoid it, ignore it, or train your kids to be wise about it. Here's the approach we developed as our oldest kids grew to adulthood:

Media and especially the Internet are gateways to a big city. There are museums, libraries, and concert halls; there are gambling dens, crooks, and a red light district, too. Or if you like the lake analogy, it's like a big pond with cool water, canoes, and sunsets, but also water-skiers, broken bottles, and snakes.

Our goal is to teach our kids to avoid the bad things, and enjoy the benefits of the rest!

Little ones need protection. We don't let small children online at all, unless a parent is showing them something specifically. There are computer games and educational programs we let them use, but they need permission every time. That goes for mini-games on our phones, too.  There are programs and movies that we don't watch with younger kids present--too intense, too scary, or needing too much discussion to understand what's going on. What about filtering or blocking software? We find the grown-ups have to bypass the filters so much, for legitimate reasons, the system is often ineffective. It was easier for us to simply restrict the preschoolers and primary graders from all access online.

Those in the middle need to learn to discern. We let our middle schoolers start using a laptop for some assignments, we start letting them look at certain websites with supervision. They do not get social media or email accounts at this point. We'll start letting them watch more intense movies or programs, with discussion afterward. Hebrews 5:14 says the mature believer has learned to discern good and evil "by reason of use"--in other words realizing the choice exists and learning to recognize the traps and lies.

High schoolers need to learn how to drive. This is true on so many levels! Face it; in a very few years, your teenagers will be able to set out on their own in an unfiltered and unfriendly world. We let them start doing their own thing online, but with accountability software to remind them to stay out of the bad neighborhoods. They need to learn to use social media responsibly (and learn that scholarship committees, employers, and future in-laws will look them up online!). We let ours get on Facebook and other channels when they're about 14 or 15. They'll need to establish an email account so they can communicate with job openings and college recruiters. And they'll need to learn good habits about the amount of time spent online, the sort of personal information they share with strangers, and the sort of temptations they find out there--whether the temptations of porn, gambling, round-the-clock gaming, or uncensored chat rooms.

The bottom line is, we're all training our kids to be wise, discerning, and independent adults. That doesn't happen if we drift along with the current, and it won't happen if we move away from the stream, either. Let's train them with a strategy in mind!

Yours in the Battle,
Hal and Melanie

(Here's how we're using technology to manage our large, busy family--and a free download of Melanie's story about homeschooling six grade levels at once!  CLICK HERE.


Craft your own computer and play through 10 hours of Minecraft Pi edition levels to rescue earth and start your engineering career. Ages 7-12.  

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Building Faith Families

Steve Demme
I struggled with the word "Harnessing," as it gives the impression I have mastered it and have some advice to pass on to others so they can control or master technological advances. The reality is I feel like a guy on a large horse, holding on and trying not to fall off. Perhaps the title should be, "Riding the Wave of the Power of Technology."

I firmly believe the best qualification for a homeschooling parent is teachability. When someone asks me if I think they are qualified to teach their children at home, I usually ask one question: "Are you willing to learn along with them?" 

Then I share how, even though I have a high school diploma and a college degree, I did not learn to read phonetically, nor was I taught science from a creation perspective, and I had no understanding of God's role in history. But I was willing and eager to learn with my children.

When it comes to technology, I not only learn with my children, in most cases, I learn from them. And if I want to remain close to them, I need to learn how to text, instant message, post on Facebook, and enter the world of smartphones and social media.

My wife has also helped me stay current because of her desire to be an engaged parent. She observed years ago, if we want to maintain our connection with our children, we had to learn how to follow them on their blogs and then pray. Of our four sons; one still answers his phone; one only responds to texts; one employs FaceTime; and the other requires a combination of all available media.

Technology is not a fad that will go away, like bell bottoms and eight-track tapes. Thankfully, we have children to teach us how to function in this new world of technology. We not only learn with them, we learn from them. In the process, we stay connected to them. 

Steve has two Facebook accounts, records a weekly podcast, is about to upgrade to an iPhone 7+, and depends on email for the majority of his communication. Thank God he has children to help him!

He is the author of Math-U-See (God is the Creator) and the founder of Building Faith Families. In addition to his podcast, he produces a monthly newsletter and other resources to strengthen and encourage parents, including old-time paper-and-ink books. Learn more about these at www.buildingfaithfamilies.org.


Home School Days in the Smoky Mountains - November 6-10, 2016. Enjoy family fun and education with waterparks, shark class, a big ship and icebergs!
#RipleysAquarium #TitanicMuseum #TheOldSchoolhouse #WildernessAtTheSmokies  


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Contest Corner 
For the month of October
Written for ages four and up, and designed to complement most reading curricula, The Reading Game is a supplemental resource for beginning or struggling readers.

The Reading Game includes the parent/teacher guide, six sets of memory playing cards, six sets of picture flashcards and six storybooks. Playing is fairly straightforward. Each set of cards is color-coded and is divided into six smaller sets of ten cards, for a total of thirty word cards per color set. Each subset is numbered, so you know exactly which cards to use as you advance through the game.

The Reading Game is basically a progressive memory game. Ten cards at a time, children will play memory in order to match and read five sight words at a time. After the student masters two sets of cards, or ten words, they read the matching captioned flashcard to practice reading the words in context and to recognize capitalization and punctuation. This continues through the entire color set until they've learned thirty words and can read all three flashcards that use those words. Then they are ready for the story book! The stories (and the words utilized in the stories) build on each other, so it is important to go in the correct sequence. By the end of the game, students have learned 180 words, many of them which are on standard sight word lists. (. . .)

I think this is a great alternative to drilling with flashcards, and I really love how the game allows children to progress at their own pace. There are also free materials online for parents and teachers to utilize. I can see this game being valuable for families, small groups and co-ops, tutoring, and classrooms. -Review by Brittany Rutherford

YOU can WIN this resource for your homeschool! 
TO ENTER: Email Kathleen at kconway@theoldschoolhouse.com with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line, "The Reading Game," for a chance to win it for your family! 

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