Homeschooling, Parenting

Looking for Words or Letters?

Given that I am not fond of word search books, I surprised myself by returning to a Christmas word search game during one holiday. It was online, and I set a time limit to beat.

As certain words became harder to find, I looked letter by letter—all the “N”s for “Nativity” or all the “G”s for “Gift.” It took weeks to learn that this process was not expedient. If I leaned back in my chair and looked for the entire word, I had better results.

I have been thinking about this discovery. A lot. Do I make my journey—with parenting, homeschooling, or friendships—slower and harder by focusing on life’s “letters” rather than the “words?” Or do both have a time? Just wondering.

Do you focus on letters or words?

Homeschooling, Parenting

Writing Advice: Quasi Podcasts

I attended a Smithsonian American Art Museum Teacher Workshop because I liked the exhibition, Georgia O’Keefe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities. However, fifteen years later, I remember the writing advice more than the art. Whether your children have writing assignments, or you have reports, the following might be helpful.

Smithsonian workshop participants were given MP3 players for classroom use—cheap ones but still a free toy—and told to replicate an experiment in a Bethesda school. Those students wrote about works of art, recorded their work, listened, rewrote, and rerecorded. The steps were repeated until the students were satisfied with their quasi podcasts. 

The Smithsonian employee in charge thought it was “educational bubblegum,” and therefore, was surprised with the process and the results. Students heard mistakes that they missed when they read their work. This was especially true when a word was overused. By listening, students also quickly realized when more explanation was needed.

The school emphasized working in groups. One interesting result was that students were more willing to offer helpful advice when they listened to a peer’s work compared to reading a peer’s work. I wonder if it’s because listening is slower than reading.

Have you received unusual academic advice?


To Whom Do You Turn?

But he [Rehoboam] abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him.

1 Kings 12:8 (ESV)

And what was the result?

So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.

1 Kings 12:19 (ESV)

For years, I did not consciously teach my children where to turn for counsel—except urging them to seek their brothers’ perspective on a particular topic.

That changed when my oldest two were departing for college. I urged them to consult their professors if they had trouble in a subject.

Next, I turned to the remaining child. Perhaps, I felt he was vulnerable without his brothers. I told him that if anything happened to my husband and me, whom he was to turn to and whom he was to ignore. I was specific about who could help with each area of his life. He took that to heart and still aggressively seeks counsel.

Thankfully, my earlier years of neglect did not cause harm.

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; Psalm 16:7a (ESV)

God's Faithfulness, Parenting

A Place To Listen

Where do you hide your heart?

Amy Grant, Michael W Smith

Why does it matter where our hearts hide? Why does it matter where we teach our children’s hearts to hide?

Because we need a place where we can call for help and listen.

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Jeremiah 33:3

Because we need a place to decide what to do next.

My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.

John 10:27

Someone close to my heart ran to a spot with this view.

When my sons were younger, we were outdoors for the love of the outdoors. I am grateful that we unwittingly taught them the value of a quiet, listening place—a place where they would eventually hide their hearts.

Where were you taught to hide your heart?


Where Do You Hide Your Heart?

Where do you go when you’re hurting? … Where do you hide your heart?

Lyrics Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith

I first realized that parents teach places to hide hearts after I watched wounded adult relatives either run to Disney World or long for Disney World. One cousin openly spoke of her desperate need. I was confused until I remembered her childhood vacations to Disney World when her family’s’ life was in turmoil.

After that revelation, I recognized similar patterns. I looked back on my sons’ responses to difficult times or adjustments. With one exception, they consistently headed outdoors. The exception? Libraries.

Along the way, I learned that I had unconsciously taught my sons a physical place to hide their hearts.

A place to run to.

Our family camped and hiked and biked and ran in the woods behind our house whenever we could—unless we were hanging out at the library a few miles away. I didn’t realize I was teaching my sons that libraries and the great outdoors could be safe places when hurting or in need of rest.

Where do you run to hide your heart? Where do you want your children to run?