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Would you like someone ELSE to tackle teaching the dreaded high school research paper?

Monday, July 21st, 2014

The only thing worse than writing a research paper yourself is the thought of teaching your high school student to write one.


let someone else teach itI know! Been there, done that.

Here is your chance  to have someone else take this off your plate.

For TEN DAYS ONLY, you can enter to win one of three free courses for your high school student in writing a research paper using  our curriculum - The Steps to Writing a Research Paper.

To enter the drawing once,  sign up for the Classes by Beth mailing list. That’s it!

For a second chance at this $194 value, register your student for a class at CBB by July 31st.

All the details are here.

Don’t forget though — you only have 10 days to enter.


Dana Wilson at Train up a Child Publishing



P. S. Your high school student should write two research papers during high school — you will have one of those out of the way after the fall semester if you should win!




Do You Pray or Plan?

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

pray or planYou know the story — Mary wanted to sit at Jesus’ feet, while Martha was more of a woman of action.

I am afraid my natural, type-A self is more of a Martha than a Mary. Years ago Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World was a great read reinforcing that I needed to spend time with Jesus in prayer before I jumped in to add this or that new activity to our already busy homeschool days.

If that is something you have a tendency to do, too, it might help you to read this post offering some poignant Scripture verses applicable to your homeschool journey, as you seek the Lord’s guidance for your family and homeschooling this semester.

On the other hand, you may be more of a wing it, let’s-see-where-this-rabbit-trail-goes, oops-we-forgot-to-do-science-last-semester type.

(I guess I have been that mom, too…)

If that describes you, it may be time to do some planning to ensure that you cover what you need to cover this next semester.  Here’s how to set some structured goals for the new school semester. Setting specific goals and accomplishing them is motivating for you and is a powerful example for your kids.

But what if you just began homeschooling and you are having trouble just getting your children to listen to you?

You need both prayer and planning, as we all do! Start with prayer. Then make plans to do some basic habit training. Teach your children these nine habits to start with and homeschooling will be MUCH easier. Continue to guide your students in forming these valuable intellectual habits and your children will turn out to be lifelong learners.

Ideally, we will grow to demonstrate the best of both Martha and Mary. We will spend daily time sitting at His feet and asking for His wisdom and grace in parenting and homeschooling our children.  AND, we will plan, using biblical priorities to train our children’s character and teach them what they each need to know. We will model using our time wisely, according to the principles set forth in God’s Word.

What about you? Do you tend to be a “Martha” or “Mary” homeschooling mom?




Six Tips for Raising Leaders

Monday, September 30th, 2013

world history high school course

Have you noticed recently that the world is becoming notably less tolerant of our biblical beliefs? Moral relativism and immoral perspectives are not creeping, but charging,  into our communities, public education system and even into our churches.

This situation is not going to be improving any time soon, and in no time at all our children and grandchildren are going to be on the front lines.

It is our jobs to prepare them!

Coming from a corporate background prior to marriage, kids and homeschooling, I’ve always had an interest in leadership. But there is a difference between training leaders in the marketplace and training them at home.

As Christian parents we not only want to raise leaders; we want to raise godly leaders.

I know it is a lot to ask harried moms struggling  to get in the academic basics, but it is crucial that we look at the big picture and intentionally raise our children to be godly leaders. What could be more important that that?

So, how do we raise godly leaders?  Here are six tips:


1.  Teach the Word daily and model integrity.

  • Men and women who are leaders have integrity. Integrity is moral uprightness; displaying strong principles based on truth. Without daily teaching of the Truth, your children will not know how to recognize it from the falsehoods constantly bombarding them from our culture.
  • When an integrity issue comes up, put the books away and deal with it immediately. There are some non-negotiables when it comes to behavior, and integrity is one of them.
  • As Christian parents, hold yourselves to the same standard and remember that you have little ears and eyes listening and watching. And when you are at fault for something – apologize immediately. Just as they are accountable to us, we are accountable to God.

2.Keep your eyes on the big picture: share your vision for your children with them from an early age.

Teach your sons and daughters that they are made in God’s image, and that He has given them strengths and special talents to accomplish great things in His kingdom. Share with them how excited you are and how you anticipate watching those special gifts and talents develop as they grow up!

Remind them of this periodically and identify and reinforce these gifts and talents as they appear.

3. Train your children to have sound physical and mental habits.

Probably because my husband and I lived so far away from our parents, we had no clue how to raise children.  Then we moved to the South where children’s roles are very well defined, and we learned the secret: You train them to have good habits.

As Charlotte Mason wrote:

“The habits of the child produce the character of the man . . .every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend.”

Habits are skills that are cultivated in our children by training, repetition and accountability. Character is molded through habit training, whether they be physical habits or intellectual ones.

4.  Read and discuss stories that show children as leaders.

If you are using a literature-based homeschool curriculum (and I hope you are!), read historical fiction and literature with characters who demonstrate the leadership traits you would like to see in your children, such as: integrity, humility, responsibility for self and others, reliability, initiative, willingness to be self-sacrificing, ability to learn from mistakes, resistance to peer pressure, willingness to tackle difficult problems with a positive attitude, diligence, and  perseverance.

5.  As you study history and current events, regularly point out and discuss examples of exemplary and poor leadership.

History is full of examples of leadership and good character, as well as their opposites!  If you use a Charlotte Mason-style, literature-based homeschool curriculum, you have the perfect opportunity to set a feast of inspiring characters before your children on a regular basis!  Choose books with plenty of examples of great men and women of the past, and in your discussions and assignments, compare and contrast them with others, as we do in our high school World History I course, subtitled Lessons in Leadership.

Additionally, do not wait until your kids are old enough to vote to discuss local and national candidates for public office. Talk about the jobs candidates are campaigning for as well as their track record and experience. Identify leadership experience within their backgrounds.

The newspaper and other media are full of articles of both exemplary and poor leaders. Draw their attention to these snippets and help them to identify these differences in discussions.

6. Give your children opportunities to practice leadership inside and outside the home.

From being responsible for their own belongings at home, teach them to be responsible for pets, chores and their own school supplies. Let them be responsible for a family event, such as a service project, teaching them to plan, anticipate, organize and communicate with others what their roles will be. Give them a small garden to research, plan, plant, weed and harvest. Encourage industriousness and entrepreneurship.

Let older children be responsible for helping to teach younger children at home, as well helping teach Sunday School, Youth Group, etc., at church. Help them expand into service to the community, such as spearheading a neighborhood or road clean-up project.

Encourage them to earn all or part of the money for their own activities, rather than just handing money over like so many other parents do. (This happened regularly with friends of my son, particularly, and it was very difficult at the time but our firm stance on this issue has reaped benefits now that he is in college and has to manage his own expenses.)


We owe it to our children to prepare them to live in the world they will be facing in just a few short years.  They must be mature, steadfast and well-grounded to be who they were designed to be.

What are you doing to encourage godly leadership in your children?  What are your biggest challenges to instilling leadership characteristics in them?


Dana Wilson at Train up a Child Publishing


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What a Can of Worms I Opened!

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

what a can of wormsYou see only the tip of the iceberg with blog post comments.

I often receive emailed comments, and my recent post on setting goals certainly sparked a few emotional ones:

I would love to set goals – but the only one I can occasionally manage is getting through the day without losing it with my kids!


My personal goal is to actually do everything in my lesson plan – just once!


How in the world can I do school, make dinner AND keep the house under control? There is certainly no time, let alone energy, for personal goals.

–and, my favorite–

A good week is when we all have clean underwear all week!  I am just trying to survive.

Give Yourself Some Grace!

It is clear that there is a  segment of  homeschooling moms in need of encouragement and grace.

Ladies, step back and take a deep breath.  This season of life is indeed demanding and often seems rather thankless – especially with very young children or when just beginning to homeschool.

And even the most sensitive of husbands often have no idea what it is like to be home all day with children, playing competing roles as mom, teacher, coach, chauffeur and nurse.

Neighbors and extended family can be critical, but even if they aren’t – they are often watching to see how our children ‘do’ compared with theirs.*


It’s all about focus!

We have been called to do a mighty thing, and it is intimidating and difficult. The enemy would like nothing better to keep us discouraged, tired and focused on our shortcomings.

Sisters, now hear this: the answer is NOT just to try harder*.

It is a matter of focus!

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”  Eph. 3:14-19 NIV 1984


Love Surpasses Knowledge!

Did you get that?

…and to know [Christ’s] love that surpasses knowledge…


Christ’s love surpasses knowledge.

Get out of your own head. Stop focusing on what you are not able to do.

Now I am going to be bold…

Stop focusing so much on yourself and how you are feeling.

Start focusing on Christ instead.


THIS is how He sees you:


It is okay if you don’t do everything on your lesson plans.

It is okay if you can’t keep the house as clean as you once did before homeschooling.

It is okay if you have to apologize to your kids for losing your temper.

It is okay if you have school in your pajamas sometimes, you take off a day to catch up on laundry, or you eat a lot of left-overs.


What you can also do…

  • Spend a part of every day focused on who God is. Praise is the best antidote for anxiety and depression.
  • When you are tempted to start that cyclical, self-critical thinking (2 Cor. 10:5), remember instead that you are loved and it has nothing to do with what you do or don’t accomplish today.
  • Meditate on the Ephesians passage above, and realize there is nothing you can do to make yourself lovelier to Him.
  • Pray that you would be ‘rooted and established in [His] love.’
  • Play Christ-centered music on the radio or Pandora on a computer in the background during school, helping everyone within earshot to be encouraged and peaceful.


It is only from a foundation of belief, of faith in Him rather than in yourself, of ‘being rooted and established in love’, that you will be at peace enough to think about making other positive actions in your life and homeschool.

Setting goals and moving ‘forward’ in areas of difficulty is a great thing – but the foundation has to be there first.

Baby steps.


Your Sister in Christ,

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*Once when visiting a brother’s family, he took the opportunity while moms were at the grocery to play some kind of Trivial Pursuit for kids game with our sons (both about eight or nine). Upon returning, my brother declared: “He missed the question about chlorophyll, but he knew that ‘Tock’ was a character in some book called The Phantom Tollbooth. I guess he did okay.”

**Some of these concepts are from my notes after listening to a presentation by Elyse Kirkpatrick at East Cooper Baptist Church, Mt. Pleasant, SC on 1/19/13. Additionally, they echo words of Tullian Tchividjian’s Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels,  and sermons by Tim Keller,  Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, NYC, NY; available by podcast.




New Year’s Resolutions vs. SMART Goal-setting

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

set goals2

 New Year’s Resolutions.

There was a time every January 1st when I thoughtfully crafted a list of resolutions for the New Year.  However, since I am a dyed-in-the-wool control freak goal setter, I scrapped annual New Year’s Resolutions awhile back in favor of setting goals.

Rather than a list of vague things I want to accomplish, I worked on setting “SMART” goals, a concept from prior years in business:

  •  S = specific
  • M = measurable and defined in such a way that I can evaluate progress
  • A = achievable;  i.e., challenging, but not impossible
  • R = relevant;  important to vital areas of my life
  • T = time-based; that is, they are linked to a date

So, instead of having a goal that sounds more like a New Year’s Resolution:

Lose weight.

It would be written as a SMART goal, such as:

In the next month I am going to lose five pounds by losing at least 1 1/4 pounds per week. In order to do this I am going to exercise at least 45 minutes, five days a week and cut all grain products from my diet.

Writing this as a SMART goal forces me to think specifically about how I would lose weight and what specific steps I need to take to do so. It also gives me a way to measure how I am progressing toward my goal.


Setting Homeschooling Goals

Homeschooling is a perfect opportunity to hone your goal-setting skills! In fact, if you have not set goals for yourself and your homeschooling/child training, you have missed out on the motivating, organizing, intentional action-causing power this process provides.

Here is a former SMART goal from a few years ago:

I am going to be more organized with homeschooling by arranging for my husband to watch the kids so I can spend 3-4 hours on the weekend planning for the following week. During that time I will:

  • read over my lesson plans for the following week
  • look through and note on my planning pages/calendar any scheduled appointments or errands we will need to run
  • plan the subjects/assignments we will cover together and individually
  • make sure I reserve my books at the library for the next three weeks’ reading
  • grade any papers that need grading before the week starts
  • plan to procure any needed material for science, history and art activities and projects prior to their scheduled time

It is extremely motivating and rewarding to make positive changes in your life.  Moreover, it is crucial modeling for your children, especially as one of our primary goals is to teach them to become independent learners and problem solvers!


Perfectionists: Set Goals with Caution

Now hear this: setting goals does not mean unproductively comparing yourself, your children or your homeschool with others, especially if you are a new homeschooling mom.  Nor does it mean that you are a failure if you don’t meet all of your goals.

You, your children and your homeschooling efforts are all works in progress, so realize that like everything else worthwhile, it takes work to make changes  – and it often takes longer than you would think and certainly more than you would like.


First Things First: Start With Yourself

I find goal setting the most productive when I begin with myself. Over the years I have learned that the tone I set with my demeanor and attitude, the way I react to my children’s behavior, the peace I exhibit (or not) all greatly affect our school day.  Am I modeling grace? Am I flexible? Am I self-controlled? Am I emotionally, spiritually and academically prepared for the day?

If you are having difficulty in some of these areas and you are not meeting with Jesus on a daily basis – I would definitely begin there. Start small and remember it takes 30 days or so to make something a routine! Work on developing consistency!


Your Challenge!

Create one personal goal or one homeschooling goal in the next 48 hours. Assess where you would like to be and formulate a goal to help you get there. Work on it until it is a SMART goal rather than a vague statement.

For example, perhaps you would like to have more regular prayer as part of your daily morning quiet time.  Your SMART goal might read something like this:

Beginning tomorrow I am going to have intentional daily prayer for my children  for ten minutes as part of my daily quiet time. 

Note – you may have to set a ‘process’ or secondary goal to achieve your primary goal, so consider that as well.  You may have to reword your goal as follows:

Beginning tomorrow I am going to get up 15 minutes earlier to have intentional daily prayer for ten minutes as part of my daily quiet time before the children get up in the morning. I will set the alarm to get up at __ and set it again to make sure I pray for at least 10 minutes.

If you already have that priority covered, perhaps you have other personal areas you would like to consider, such as:

  • Beginning or tweaking an exercise program
  • Making more time for daily personal reading (for your own pleasure and edification)
  • Planning a weekly letter or visit to an elderly neighbor or relative
  • Finding one relaxational/social outing per week with a friend to renew your perspective
  • Rediscovering a beloved hobby you haven’t taken the time to engage in regularly since you began homeschooling
  • Trading babysitting time with another mom and planning a weekly or biweekly ‘date night’ with your husband
  • Beginning a blog
  • Volunteering at church or in your community


Respond in the Comments

If you are serious about making a change in your life, make your goal public. Sharing it with others = instant accountability!

Would you benefit by setting a personal goal for yourself? Do you regularly set goals for yourself or your homeschool? I would love to hear what you are planning or about any difficulties you have setting goals in this post’s comments!


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