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    by Mike McHugh

October 16, 2008

We Americans think we have learned in our civics classes that a child born in the United States automatically becomes a U.S. citizen, regardless of other factors. Where did we get this idea?

The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” That seems plain enough. If you are born here, you are entitled to citizenship. Isn’t that the way it should be?

If we think in this way, the Fourteenth…  ( Click for more )

One benefit of home instruction that is often overlooked is the increased opportunity that it affords parents to influence their children’s character. This advantage is of no small consequence, when you stop and consider that a significant number of the problems of modern society can be traced back to the failure of parents to discipline and guide their children in a proper manner. After all, young people who know little or care less about how the Ten Commandments/golden rule apply to their everyday lives are the most prone to live their lives at the expense of others.

I…  ( Click for more )

September 18, 2008

All teachers, including home educators, need assistance as they seek to establish a point of contact with their students. For this reason, most instructors recognize their need to employ at least some kind of teaching aids as they go about their duties. Sooner or later, however, these same teachers often come to the place where they ask; “What teaching aids are the most effective for my particular situation?”

The primary purpose for aids is to help teachers make a stronger impression upon students as they transmit subject matter, and, in the process, enable students…  ( Click for more )

As a home school parent, I occasionally contemplate the type of calling that God may have for each of my children as they move into adulthood. For the most part, this contemplation is an exercise that underscores the biblical truth that we all see through a glass darkly as we ponder the mysteries of God’s providence. Although it is often difficult for me to know precisely which areas of knowledge will be most profitable to my children after their school years are done, I have discovered that I can always rally around the truth that “godliness is profitable in all things.”…  ( Click for more )

As a home school dad, I have recently had the pleasure of leading my family through a study of the book of First Samuel. As I began to move through the chapters of this book, it soon became apparent that the Lord had placed a number of powerful lessons on human nature (both good and bad) into this portion of Holy Scripture. The difficult and complex relationship that existed between King Saul and David, as well as the depiction of the faithfulness and poise of godly characters such as Jonathan and Abigail, were but a few of the topics that provided our family with a wealth of profoundly…  ( Click for more )

From the earliest days of a child’s intellectual development, during the so-called pre-school years, he learns many important skills by merely doing or modeling what his parents do. The child who learns to dress himself, for example, masters this skill through the process of doing the task for himself with a minimal amount of guidance and correction from his parents. It is, in fact, doubtful that even an older child could master the ability to dress himself properly merely through the process of a lecture or by written instruction. Although there are times when a child must…  ( Click for more )

Few home educators, including those who are involved with some form of “classical” learning, are familiar with the works of the nineteenth century novelist Sir H. Rider Haggard. This prolific author, best known for his classic novel King Solomon’s Mines, deserves to be re-discovered by a whole new generation of Christian families. Henry Rider Haggard wrote sixty-six novels during his lifetime, as well as numerous papers and articles, many of which are still in print to this day.

Before I proceed to recommend a select grouping of Haggard’s novels, I will…  ( Click for more )

As a family man, I have long considered 1 Timothy 5:8 to be one of the most sobering verses in all of Holy Scripture. It reads, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

It is, after all, verses like the one noted above that clearly direct those in charge of households to take the duty that God has entrusted to them seriously. From God’s perspective, (and that is ultimately the only one that matters), a person who professes to love his Maker yet neglects to provide…  ( Click for more )

A great deal of the instruction that takes place within a home school setting involves the simple act of informal and often spontaneous discussions between parents and their children. Because home educators are not bound to the rigid schedules that are commonly found in traditional school classrooms, they often enjoy a more intimate and steady dialogue with their students. For this reason, it is critical for parent educators to maximize the effectiveness of the time that they spend discussing educationally related topics with their students. The opportunities for personalized instruction…  ( Click for more )

As a home school father, I often feel overwhelmed with the knowledge of how many skills that I need to impart to my children in order to prepare them for life. Now that several of my children are in their teenage years, I am now recognizing the need to add one more item to my “must teach” list --- automobile care and maintenance. In the realm of so-called practical skills, few are more important than the knowledge of how to keep an automobile working properly and safely.

Perhaps I am not the first home educator to come to the realization that teenagers are not naturally…  ( Click for more )

The book of Judges, chapters six through eight, records the amazing and true story of the servant of God named Gideon. In the providence of God, this young man was raised up to help deliver God’s people from the oppression of the Midianites. Although initially timid and indecisive, Gideon was steadily strengthened by the Lord in order that he might fulfill his holy mission. Seldom in the history of ancient Israel did God choose to use one man in such a mighty way. By God’s grace, when Gideon was weak he had the wisdom to lean upon the Lord’s might and, in the process,…  ( Click for more )

The longer my wife and I home educate our children, the more I realize why so few parents today are willing to commit themselves to the task of teaching their own youngsters. For starters, the commitment to home school places parents in the position of having to spend numerous hours each week teaching, grading papers, preparing lesson plans, as well as providing their children with extracurricular activities or socialization. When these routine duties are done, there are commonly areas of the curriculum that need to be expanded or supplemented such as in the realms of music or physical…  ( Click for more )

In the year 1746, a young boy by the name of James Watt sat in his mother’s kitchen in Greenock, Scotland examining the movements of a tea kettle. Hour after hour, this little lad asked his parents questions as he experimented with the tea kettle from time to time. He began by removing the top of the kettle at various intervals to determine how quickly the steam would dissipate. A short time later, this youngster held a cup and spoon over the spout and noted how the steam would quickly turn into water droplets. His most fascinating discovery during this time, however, was that…  ( Click for more )

Question 104 in the historic Heidelberg Catechism asks the following concerning the fifth commandment: “What does God require in the fifth commandment?”

The answer that is given in the Catechism states: “That I show all honor, love, and fidelity to my father and mother, and to all in authority over me; submit myself with due obedience to their good instruction and correction; and also bear patiently with their weaknesses and shortcomings, since it pleases God to govern us by their hand.”

Home school parents must clearly understand that it is nothing…  ( Click for more )

“What’s your name, little boy?” asked a traveling salesman to a child who was playing in the yard he was approaching. “Johnny Go Away,” said the child. “Come on now,” replied the astonished visitor, “that cannot be your real name!” “Oh, yes,” responded the young lad with a confident tone, “that’s what my daddy always calls me.”

How powerful are the words of a mother or father, for good or for ill. The language and demeanor of parents, can either bring a child hope and introduce him to Christ, or…  ( Click for more )

It was the year 1776, and the American colonies were just beginning their epic struggle for liberty in order that they might be free from the control of Great Britain. Among the many challenges facing the leader of the Colonial forces, George Washington, at this early stage was the problem of profanity and blasphemy within the ranks of his soldiers. This problem so distressed General Washington that he issued the following order to all of his troops in July of 1776 from his headquarters in New York:

“The General is sorry to be informed that the foolish and wicked practice…  ( Click for more )

The first goal, therefore, of any teacher must be to bring students to the place where they are truly focused in their consciousness on the subject being presented. As previously mentioned, all teachers will have some distractions to contend with as they seek to get their students’ minds properly engaged. In some cases, these distractions will arise from an external source such as outside sights and sounds, interruptions from visitors or other students, uncomfortable seating arrangements, or extremes in room temperature. Not all distractions, however, will spring from external…  ( Click for more )

Quality instruction in any school environment takes place at the point in which instructors truly connect with their students, and capture their full attention. The routine challenge of teachers, therefore, is to devise methods that will enable them to draw students into a given lesson effectively. Part of the difficulty of establishing a point of contact or connection with young minds, however, is knowing which methods to employ in order to set the stage for genuine learning.

Every teaching lesson must have a beginning, a starting point. This starting point, in some respects,…  ( Click for more )

Most home educators will bring their school year to a close in late May or early June. For too many of these families, the end of the school term will be little more than a mad dash for the finish line. This is often the case, because parent educators seldom realize that the manner in which they end a particular school term, will have a profound influence upon how well their next school term begins. Before home school parents take a break for summer vacation, therefore, they should take the following steps to put their house in order.

One key to finishing well is for…  ( Click for more )

May 1, 2008

The story I am about to tell you was sent to me by a friend several years ago. The author is unknown. The story does not mention God and it is not sprinkled with Scripture references, but it reveals several characteristics of a good father which I believe illustrate Biblical virtues.

The story goes like this.

There once was a little boy named Johnny who had a bad temper. His father, Mr. Smith, gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the fence in their back yard. The first day Johnny had to drive 37 nails into the…  ( Click for more )

One primary distinctive of a truly Christian education, is that it is built upon the foundation of the Holy Scriptures. For this reason, it is quite impossible for Christian educators to overestimate the value of God’s Word in relationship to the task that is set before them to train their students in the way they should go. The sad truth, however, is that Christian educators too often permit other voices to supercede the authority and centrality of God’s infallible truth. If you happen to be one who has permitted himself to adopt an apathetic view of God’s Word,…  ( Click for more )

Most parent educators are blessed to have children that are eager to learn, and very active. As any home educator can tell you, however, energetic students can also provide plenty of routine challenges. Such students, if not properly handled, will often end up exhibiting discipline problems that can absorb an enormous amount of a teacher’s weekly schedule. The good news for educators that have the responsibility of keeping active or “hyper” students engaged in the learning process, is that such a task does not need to be a huge burden or tug-of-war.

The first…  ( Click for more )

Not surprisingly, most of the issues and challenges that home educators focus upon each week involve the daily struggle to get their youngsters to comprehend their academic material. In at least some cases as well, parent educators are preoccupied with trying to identify the ideal learning style or schedule to be employed in their home school. One challenge that seldom gets the attention it deserves, however, is summed up in the familiar old maxim “familiarity breeds contempt”.

At the heart of any institution, organization, or social structure is the dynamic of human…  ( Click for more )

I was being interviewed on the radio recently regarding the plight of home educators in the state of California, who were being threatened with prosecution unless they employed state certified teachers. During the interview, a professing Christian dad called the program to explain why he felt that the growing problems of public (government) education in the U.S. could be solved to the point where Christian families would no longer need to engage in the alternative of home education. He proceeded to state that the true reason why secular public schools were declining on an academic…  ( Click for more )

Here we go again! After decades of relative peace between California parents and state officials over the alternative of home education, a California Appeals Court ruled on February 28,2008 that Christian families have no legal or constitutional grounds for pursuing home education. The 2nd Appellate Court in Los Angeles went so far as to say that the Long family’s sincerely held religious convictions were “not the quality of evidence that permits us to say that the application of California’s compulsory public school education law to them violates their First Amendment…  ( Click for more )

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