Freedom From The Four Walls


By Jennifer Smeltser

I never in my life planned to homeschool. When I first learned about homeschooling, which was years before I was married and had children, it sounded like some type of weird and extremist way of raising kids. Coming from a traditional public school background, I knew that was the route I would take, when, and, if I had children. My elementary school years were some of the best, and I believe it is during that time a seed was planted that would later lead me to welcome the challenge, and the opportunity, to homeschool.

It was my sixth grade year and my teacher, “Hoff,” took school outdoors one day. He placed us all under a tree, opened a book, and began to read. I felt rebellious, because school belonged inside a classroom, but I listened. I felt relaxed, but remained engaged. I was not sitting at a desk surrounded by four walls, but I was outside, under a tree, enjoying God’s surroundings—and I was learning,

Even before that moment, I had always enjoyed being outdoors. Without discounting the value of learning at home with family as we do, I also realize we are not limited to learning only at home. There is so much to learn outside of our four walls. Learning could be as close as walking out to your backyard or as far as traveling the world. I must admit that it is my nature (pardon the pun) to be outdoors.

Fortunately, my children have adopted my perspective on learning wherever we are and have been willing participants as we learn together.      (more…)

Introducing Your Children to Classical Music


By Marcia Washburn

Music is one of those subjects we all feel guilty about.

“I really ought to expose my children to great music,” we tell ourselves. We know that music gives us opportunities to express our emotions and draws us together socially. And we remember the Scriptural commands to make music.1 Martin Luther wrote, “Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.”2

Music touches us in every area of our lives—body, soul, mind, and spirit. Nothing has quite the same power over us, other than the Holy Spirit Himself. It is a gift that we can take to Heaven with us.

But that niggling little voice inside reminds us, “But you don’t know anything about music,” or “We just don’t have the money to buy a bunch of CDs,” or “My kids won’t like classical music anyway, so why bother?” And of course there is the time objection: “I have so many other subjects to teach—how can I fit in music, too?”

What if you could use the Internet to teach music? No expensive CDs or concert tickets to buy—just your trusty computer and the world of classical music is opened to you. Below is a sample lesson for you and your family to enjoy.      (more…)

It’s Time to Wake Up!


By Deborah Wuehler

I was taking a nap when I heard some noise in the hallway, so I got up to investigate. My eyes were blurry, my head heavy with sleep, but I kept looking around trying to find that noise. I suddenly realized it had been my own snoring I was hearing and that I was not awake but still asleep! I dreamt that I went back to bed until I heard the children talking. I pushed the covers aside and got up and talked to the children until I heard that familiar snore. Once again, I was not truly awake.

This happened several more times in my dream until my daughter came into the room to (truly) wake me. I was exuberant to discover that I was actually and fully awake! Not that my dream was terrible, but the feeling of never being actually awake or asleep was a heavy, horrible feeling. I have had that feeling in real life too, especially on days like today.

I am going through the everyday motions of homeschooling (thank God for a schedule that keeps us all on task) but feel groggy in my teaching, sleepy in the presentation, and just plain wiped out. Some days, like today, I feel like I will never wake up to the reality of full-life living and learning. I keep trying to wake up but keep going back to bed hoping that next time, maybe tomorrow, I will wake up where reality is better than this dream-like state.

It is a season of plain old tiredness that comes because of a lack of sleep, an over-committed schedule, a change of seasons, or a change of hormones. Whatever the reason, we sometimes need help—we need someone’s hand upon us to wake us.      (more…)