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    by Mike McHugh

March 6, 2008

The Book of Judges in the Old Testament has long provided sensational material for sermons. The judges, particularly Samson, were sometimes colorful characters, and it is not difficult to hold a congregation’s attention with stories of their exploits.

I have been reading Joshua and Judges recently, and this time through I have seen a different perspective. Rather than the individual stories and personalities of the judges, I was struck by the whole sweep of that period.

In Judges, chapter two, verses 7–12, we read,

And the people served the LORD all the days…  ( Click for more )

Let’s face it, some areas of study are simply harder to complete in a home school environment. Subjects such as speech and lab science, for example, can be rather challenging for home educators to tackle. When it comes to the subject of cooking, however, most parents are in a great position to teach this critical skill to their students. For this reason, home school parents can and should begin to incorporate at least some basic instruction in the culinary arts when their children are young.

Before parents begin to provide cooking lessons for their children, they should…  ( Click for more )

February 21, 2008

The longer my wife and I home school, the more convinced I am that one of the most critical lessons that we can teach our children is how to be godly, competent parents. As a youngster, I was blessed to grow up with parents who truly loved each other, as well as every child given to them by their Maker. Although my folks were not home educators in the formal sense of the term, (such a godly alternative was rarely considered by parents prior to 1970) they did manage to spend significant time each week providing me with important training. Much of this training involved the routine…  ( Click for more )

Most educators eventually begin to recognize that children, and especially teenagers, often learn best by doing something educational rather than simply reading about it. The Creator has clearly placed within human beings the desire to be imitators. Children in particular commonly love to imitate the actions of those around them. For this reason, home educators should consider how best to incorporate “hands-on” learning into their weekly routine, while they also strive to get their older children into some sort of apprenticeship training.

As a student of history, I…  ( Click for more )

In most home school programs, the major share of the teaching burden falls to mom. In fact, it may safely be said that in a significant number of cases the major burden of most everything domestically speaking ends up with mom, or at least with an older sibling under the mother’s direction. The act of home education, if done properly, is anything but easy. It will put any parent, and therefore any marriage relationship to the test. The commitment of home schooling will often magnify the administrative, academic, emotional, and physical weaknesses of the person who is in charge…  ( Click for more )

Over the last several years, newspapers, magazines, and television programs have been warning about the dangers of stress. Many of these sources suggest, with a respectable amount of support documentation, that the root cause of the rise in the number of people with hypertension disorders and clinical depression is chronic stress. Assuming that such viewpoints are true, many Americans, including those who are involved in home education, need to develop an action plan to significantly reduce the level of stress in their lives. But how can this be accomplished when the mere pursuit…  ( Click for more )

I recently had the pleasure of reading a collection of writings for young people that was written in the year 1848. This old volume, simply entitled The English Reader – Pieces In Prose and Poetry, was commonly read by young students during this era as a part of their reading curriculum. What is so striking about the nature of this reading material is the extent to which it exposes young minds to the deep and profound issues of life from a distinctly biblical perspective. At no point, do the writers of this literature text attempt to minimize the central importance of Christian…  ( Click for more )

January 17, 2008

“If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? And he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?” Proverbs 24:10-12

As the year 2008 unfolds, God’s people are faced with the grim reality that in the U.S. alone over one million unborn babies will likely be slaughtered during the course of the year.…  ( Click for more )

If your home school family is anything like ours, you probably get rather excited about the prospect of getting away from the friendly confines of home on occasion. After all, families who home school do spend a great deal of time, well … home! Moms, in particular, need a change of scene from time-to-time where they can get away from the routine challenges of daily life in order to relax and re-focus. As any family can tell you, however, just getting away is no guarantee that the time spent on vacation will be truly beneficial. The simple fact is that family vacations commonly…  ( Click for more )

Like most people in the western world, I love to collect “stuff.” One quick visit to web sites like ebay or amazon will leave the average person amazed at the variety of things people decide to collect. The old adage does indeed appear to be true, that one person’s junk is another person’s treasure. The common desire of human beings to gather and organize things may well have been placed within the human heart by the same Creator who commissioned men to subdue and take dominion over the earth. Regardless, however, of the precise origin of man’s desire…  ( Click for more )

December 27, 2007

I recently watched part of a Nova program called "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial". The program focused on the controversy over Intelligent Design which played out in a 2005 court case in Pennsylvania, Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District. It didn’t take long to determine that Intelligent Design was being “judged” by the now familiar standard of the faithful adherents of Darwin’s theory of evolution. (As I write this, the entire program can be viewed online, along with gloating that the judge ruled in favor of the evolutionists.) …  ( Click for more )

December 20, 2007

I believe the concept of testing, a pillar of education for millennia, has fallen on hard times in recent years. Rather than viewing it as a useful tool, many view testing as a relic of less sensitive times in education. I must admit that I have known teachers to write test questions in such a way as to catch or trick unwary students.

The purpose of a test should be to determine whether the student has learned the material. If the student does poorly on a test—and I am assuming that he doesn’t have learning problems—the most obvious conclusion should be that…  ( Click for more )

December 13, 2007

I heard a story once about a small town where life revolved around the factory where many of the townspeople worked. In this same town, there was a watchmaker’s shop. In the display window facing the sidewalk was a large, ornate clock. The watchmaker carefully set the clock every day because many people would set their watches by this clock. One man in particular caught the watchmaker's attention. Every morning at 6:25AM, this man would stop and carefully set his watch by the clock in the window. He never missed a day. One day, the watchmaker was sweeping the sidewalk in front…  ( Click for more )

Sooner or later, most teachers will confront students who do not know how to follow directions or who perhaps lack the discipline to pay attention to detailed instructions. In some instances, students exhibit these weaknesses because teachers have failed to place sufficient emphasis on the why and how of following directions, while in other cases students have simply become lazy or careless in their study habits. Regardless of who may be at fault, however, the fact remains that both students and teachers suffer when the specific details of an assignment are ignored or are not followed…  ( Click for more )

A growing number of home school parents are in the position of looking for appropriate career or vocational training for their children once they finish high school. For at least some families, it is a case of too many options and too little money! The question is often whether to encourage your graduate to jump right into a four-year program at a Christian college far from home, or perhaps direct him to consider working for a year or two at the local level in order to earn money for his post high school education.

In the case of our home school family, however, we have taken…  ( Click for more )

In the U.S., one of the few holidays on the calendar that has not been stripped of it’s biblical and historical significance is Thanksgiving. It is still vital, however, for Christian home educators to continue to celebrate and promote this most excellent holiday before the face of their communities in order that this special season of the year will remain centered on the glory of God.

The text that follows, originally written in the nineteenth century by Mr. F.W. Greenwood, would make an excellent reading for home school families during the Thanksgiving season. A true…  ( Click for more )

November 8, 2007

Parent educators must never underestimate the importance of their attitude towards their children during the teaching process. The attitude that an instructor displays, either positive or negative, will often determine the extent to which their students will be motivated to perform to their full potential. A teacher who projects a pleasant or cheerful demeanor is far more likely to succeed than one who is consistently harsh or grumpy. Perhaps more home educators should take Proverbs 17:22 to heart as it states: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit…  ( Click for more )

Suggestion #1: Guide your children to the point where they become capable of taking ownership over their own course work and scheduling. In other words, slowly and steadily insist that your students learn how to set and accomplish reasonable goals for themselves on an independent basis. Particularly in the case of older children, such ones should not be spoon-fed when they are capable of taking responsibility for their own studies. The sooner that young people learn how to approach learning in a disciplined manner the better.

Suggestion #2: Take steps to discover your student’s…  ( Click for more )

On September 18th, 2007 the U.S. Treasury department announced its intention to petition the Senate to approve a measure that would increase the national debt ceiling by eight hundred billion dollars. This measure would permit the U.S. government to continue to operate through the end of 2007, and would raise the national debt to a record level of over nine trillion dollars. The simple and unvarnished truth is that the U.S. is now broke, and in the process of mortgaging it’s financial future.

In light of the fact that every citizen of the U.S., including students who attend…  ( Click for more )

October 4, 2007

Sooner or later, most Christian home educators are tempted to walk away from their calling to provide their children with a Christ-centered education. Although the Word of God clearly directs the people of God to not be weary in well-doing, the routine burdens associated with the task of home teaching can seem overwhelming at times. Not surprisingly, it is at the precise point when we as parents are feeling weary and discouraged, that our adversary, the devil, seeks to encourage us to abandon what we know to be God’s will for our family. As the famous football coach, Vince Lombardi,…  ( Click for more )

At this low point in Alonzo’s spiritual journey, he became tired of trying to strive for peace with God, and began to entertain thoughts of giving up on the whole effort. Before taking this desperate course, however, he determined to talk the whole thing over with his pastor. The following day, therefore, he had a private meeting with his friend and spiritual guide.

The discussion between these two men took place in the pastor’s study, late in the afternoon. Alonzo opened by thanking the pastor for his time on such short notice, and then proceeded to tell this…  ( Click for more )

It may have been genuinely difficult, and perhaps even embarrassing, for Alonzo to have had family prayer that first night in his new home. At the same time, however, if he had actually been grateful to Almighty God for His many acts of kindness, instead of merely thinking that he ought to be so, he would have sought to do his duty even if it involved significant hardship.

It will come as no surprise to learn that Alonzo found it harder and harder to begin acting as the spiritual head of his home the longer he postponed it. A month passed away, and the duty continued to be neglected.…  ( Click for more )

In spite of his wretched spiritual condition, a merciful and patient God continued to preserve and protect Alonzo, and so he grew and matured. From twelve he passed on to fifteen, and from fifteen to twenty. He steadily developed into a strong, athletic young adult, known and esteemed by many in the tiny community in which he resided. As Alonzo was poised to begin his journey into manhood, he was fully capable of presenting a fairly impressive show of external religious piety. The true condition of his soul at this point in his life, however, was a rather different story, for in the…  ( Click for more )

Year after year passed, and Alonzo grew in strength and stature. Instead of playing on the ground with his little toys, he now enjoyed riding his father’s plough, tossing the drying grass in the mowing field, or on special occasions picking berries on a sunny afternoon. Although his interests and activities were growing and changing in many ways, he remained substantially the same in heart. Alonzo was continually committing sins in the manner already described. These sins were different in form and character as he grew older, but their nature was the same. There was the same…  ( Click for more )

Alonzo was a young boy who lived in Vermont. His father owned a farm in one of those warm and verdant dells, which gave a charm to the scenery of the Green Mountains. The low, broad farmhouse, with its barns and sheds, hay stacks and high woodpiles, made almost a little village as they lay spread out in a sunny opening near the head of a glen. A winding road, repeatedly crossing a brook, meandered among the trees down through the valley, guiding the traveler to the spot.

The wide yard was filled with domestic animals, and the sheds were overflowing with equipment used on the…  ( Click for more )

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