Greetings PAACH homeschooling families. The end of another school year is fast approaching, and some of you may be preparing to graduate a child from high school into the school of life. My second oldest is graduating in a few short weeks and I am not sure I am ready for this. (Maybe because it makes me feel older?) Others of you might be coming to the end of your first year of homeschooling. You are likely looking forward to a break from all the responsibilities and anxieties that can weigh on you. Either way, I am confident that much learning has taken place. I want to offer an opportunity to reflect on your reasons and goals for choosing to homeschool your children. I am going to point you to a few verses in scripture on obedience, faith, and grace. Then, I want to make several observations and invite you to meditate on these things and pray about any adjustments that you may need to make in your family.
God gives clear commandments for us to follow. One of those tells us to “Honor your father and mother.” (Ex 20:12) Paul rewords it to address children directly: “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (Eph 6:1) Here’s my first observation: Has anyone else noticed that your children don’t naturally obey you? I know, you’re thinking “Thanks captain obvious for this brilliant observation.” Of course they don’t because we all have a broken and sinful nature. And yet, God clearly charges us as parents with the responsibility to teach and train our children to be obedient. (Deut 6:4-9) Why is teaching our children obedience so important? Is it just because of the promise that comes with it? I have recently begun to read through The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and I was struck by a claim that he makes. He says that when it comes to faith in Christ there are two propositions that “hold good and are equally true: only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes.” He goes on to say that when Christ calls a person to follow Him, obedience is what makes faith possible, and faith is what makes obedience possible. My thought is this: If we do well to train our children in obedience, might they be better prepared to respond to Christ with obedience when He calls them? This could mean that how we teach them obedience is equally important. So let me remind of something else vital to remember as parents… our children need grace.
Ah yes, the costly grace of God that brings us to salvation. I am reading through another book to aid in the pre-marital counseling with my oldest daughter and her soon-to-be husband. It is the same book I referred to last month: When Sinners Say “I Do” by Dave Harvey. (Again, I will say this is an excellent book that has been both challenging and encouraging to me. I highly recommend it.) Dave has reminded me that God’s grace is not just a saving grace, but also a sanctifying grace. Paul tells Titus (and us) that grace does much more than bring us to salvation, but also “trains us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live selfcontrolled, upright, and godly lives in the present age…” (Titus 2:11-14) Kirk Smith just preached this very passage and very same message at our church recently. Here is the other thought I had: If our children see this grace at work in us, might they be more likely to recognize Christ when He calls them?
My conclusion is this, we may be tools of God’s grace in our children’s lives. God has charged us with the responsibility to “train up our children in the way they should go.” (Prov 22:6) While our training does not guarantee our child’s salvation, our training may be used by God as a part of the kindness that draws their hearts towards Him. Here is my challenge for you to reflect on: Does your discipleship of your children teach them obedience AND show them grace that prepares them to recognize and respond to Christ when He calls them?
The PAACH board desires to help and support you throughout your homeschooling journey. We also desire to help you disciple your children by providing encouragement, wisdom, and resources that will enable you to be Godly parents who lead your children towards Christ. We pray that your family learns together, grows together with others in community, and glorifies Christ in everything you do.
James Cox PAACH President
Written by: Zan Tyler
You will be doing your children and yourself a great service if you teach them how to handle questions in a graceful, confident, and knowledgeable way. And remember, many—if not most—of the questions will occur when you aren’t with them.
Later as I taught classes on public speaking and biblical worldview training in our local co-op, I started including one session on the apologetics of homeschooling. I would use this time to help prepare elementary-aged kids through teenagers to respond to questions about homeschooling in a formal interview situation, as well as in informal conversations.
This is how I prepare students to answer the questions they will be relentlessly asked.
I begin each discussion (this can be at home or in a co-op) by drawing a line down the middle of a large whiteboard. On the left side of the board, I label “Private Reasons”: the right side, “Public Reasons.” Then I ask them questions people ask homeschoolers, like these:
As students respond to the various questions people ask homeschoolers, I write the answer down on the right side of the board if they are suitable for public discussions. But if a child answers she likes homeschooling because she can stay in her pajamas all day, I write the answer on the left side under “Private Reasons.” I take the time to explain that while certain answers—like wearing pajamas all day—may be true and meaningful to them, these are not the answers we want to discuss in public.
At the end of the brainstorming discussion, I want to make sure every child can tell me five reasons why their parents homeschool them and/or five reasons why they enjoy being homeschooled.
At the end of that brainstorming exercise, we look at the answers on the right side of the board and began to tweak and polish them a bit.
Then we switch roles, and they ask the questions people ask homeschoolers, and I answer. It gives them a chance to hear my responses. We continue until they are too tired to be productive, or we have an answer relatively down pat.
Once we have gone through the role-playing exercise, we practice—sometimes formally, sometimes informally. With my own children, if we were in the car, I would throw out one question and have them answer it. If a new question arose, we would go through the process of brainstorming, tweaking, and polishing.
The point is this: begin the discussion. Prepare your children well to answer the questions that will arise almost daily in their lives concerning homeschooling. As your children get older, help them understand why people ask them so many questions about homeschooling and why their answers matter. They are truly some of the greatest ambassadors homeschooling has.
Your children will be questioned about their Christianity as they grow up seeking the Lord. Use this same process to teach them how to answer questions about their faith.
As they prepare for job and/or college interviews, they will benefit greatly from these same interview skills you have instilled in them as children.
And through this process of questioning and answering, you are helping them develop powerful critical thinking skills.
“My story is about the greatness and faithfulness of the Lord – and how He uses ordinary people to accomplish His extraordinary plans.”
Zan’s homeschool journey began in 1984 when homeschooling was illegal. The State Superintendent of Education threatened Zan with jail for not sending her children to the local public school. For the next eight years, she and other homeschool families battled for homeschool freedom and the establishment of landmark homeschool legislation in South Carolina.
Homeschooling: An Educational, Spiritual, and Family Revival Movement That Is Sweeping America - Session 1, Friday 10:30 a.m.
Motivated Kids Move Mountains - Session 2, Friday 1 p.m.
Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential - Session 3, Friday 3 p.m.
Kingdom Building Moms - Mom's Night, Friday 6:30 p.m.
Written by: Laura Booz
My New Year’s Resolution: I want to stop complaining about the sacrifices I make as a homeschool mom. When I complain, I pull us all down and I miss out on the joy of glorifying God. So, I'm asking the Lord for grace to cherish my life at home with my kids. I'm keeping my eyes open for the things in our day that are good for me personally and I'm thanking God for each one.
Guess what? I'm discovering that most of our day - the same day in which I work so hard to bless my kids - is full of blessings for me.
As you and I build good homes for our children, we're building good homes for ourselves, too. After all, we all - man, woman, and child - thrive in the same atmosphere and benefit from things that are good, true, and beautiful. Homeschooling is good for me because the things I work hard to incorporate into our day for my children's sake, enrich me too. All I have to do is notice and give thanks.
I want to share ten ways that our homeschool day is good for me, in hopes of inspiring you to look for ways that homeschooling is good for you.
Let's enjoy our lives as homeschool moms and thank God for every good gift!
Before breakfast, I lead our kids in The Lord's Prayer. I'm so glad I do! It reminds me that we have a loving Heavenly Father. It helps me to trust Him and to want what He wants for our day. Then we read the Bible together. I keep this morning ritual for my children's sake, but I find God using it to restore my own soul. Do you begin your child's day with prayer or Bible reading? I encourage you to tune in and take it personally. It's part of your day, too.
Whenever I open the windows to fill my children's lungs with fresh air, I am filling my own lungs with fresh air, too.
I try to get us outside every day. After the rigamarole of socks, shoes, hats, mittens & coats, we step outside, and I look up at the sky. I think about our Creator. We walk down the lane, singing a favorite song as we go (on a good day). Maybe the kids play for an hour! Or maybe someone trips and falls. Maybe someone gets cold or hot or irritated and we head inside early, but even if we're only outside for fifteen minutes, the sun has kissed my face and I feel my blood pumping. Let yourself enjoy the great outdoors with your child. Look for interesting things in nature. Take a deep breath.
I love to gather the kids around the piano to sing. One of the kids may play a drum; another the violin. A toddler may grab a harmonica. One of my favorite songs goes like this:
“My worth is not in what I own,
not in the strength of flesh and bone,
but in the costly wounds of love,
at the Cross.”
Even if some of the kids are whining, we can still sing. I hold the baby on my lap, her hair tickling my cheek, and I remember, as the song goes, to “rejoice in my Redeemer, greatest treasure, well-spring of my heart." I need this regular reminder even when the singing is chaotic, interrupted, or less-than-harmonious.
Is singing part of your child's homeschool curriculum? Try singing along! Does it restore your soul?
During our homeschool day, we work on memorizing poetry and Scripture. I find that while I am giving my children good things to think about, I am filling my own mind with good things, too. I am developing a stronger memory and building a store of good thoughts to keep me company throughout the day.
We look at artwork or nature together. We make art together. I pull down my own sketch book from the shelf and do my best. Other times I gather some props and teach a life-lesson about kindness, courage, or sharing, and I listen to myself as I teach the children. I’m forever thinking, “Oh, how I needed this lesson today.”
I read aloud to help the kids understand history, science, and humanity. All the while, I am growing and learning. My master’s degree in English literature doesn’t compare to my education over the past 12 years of homeschooling! Homeschooling has given me the opportunity to read widely and deeply across the disciplines. I understand and appreciate literature, science, and history more than ever before. I'm so grateful! (In fact, I joke that my objective in homeschooling is to provide my kids with a pleasant-enough experience so that they may homeschool their own children some day and finally get an education.)
I encourage you to let yourself learn right alongside your child.
I work hard to enhance our chicken nuggets and frozen pizza with nourishing foods like blueberries, cantaloupe, oatmeal, almonds, and eggs. Every time I feed the kids well, I eat well, too. We sit down together, talk, and laugh. My sense of humor may be stuck at a fifth-grade level forever, but sharing a lunch table with my kiddos is good for me, through and through.
Do you enjoy a boisterous lunch table with your kids? Or, perhaps, you enjoy having lunch all by yourself when the kids are napping. Whatever suits you, I hope you see it as a blessing from God. Your daily bread. Nourishment for your body and soul.
Like every other family, we have our fair-share of whining, bad attitudes, and disagreements. The stress of living in a fallen world weighs on each of us. But as we ask our Heavenly Father to help – to forgive us and fill us with His love and wisdom - we enjoy His peace. We learn how to overlook offenses, address offenses, share, ask forgiveness, and extend the grace we’ve been given in Christ. The daily upkeep of our relationships builds my faith, sanctifies me, and beckons me to rely on Jesus.
In the everyday moments of discipleship look for God's good gifts to you, personally. He sees you, loves you, and will give you what you need as you care for the people in your family.
In the afternoon, we enjoy a “quiet time” so the children can read—each one in his or her special spot with a book in hand. I may brew some tea and invest that hour in writing and reading (two of my personal passions). It’s rarely interruption-free, but my work during that hour is deeply satisfying. The peace and quiet restores all of us.
What restores you? How can you build this into your regular homeschool schedule? Or is it already there just waiting to be appreciated?
One of the things I love about homeschooling is the opportunity it avails for the kids to serve people during the day. I look for opportunities for us to babysit, help neighbors, make meals, or send cards to people. As it turns out, I’m usually the one who must face my own selfishness. With every opportunity to reach out to others, my own heart is warmed. I learn how to depend on God’s grace. I learn how to love.
Look for ways that God is working in your own heart through experiences you were hoping would shape your children's hearts.
We love friends! And fun! I plan playdates for the kids’ enjoyment, but I gain just as much from our friendships. While the kids play, I get to chat, listen, laugh, and enjoy their antics. Of course, I love when my mom-friends stick around, too. We’ve played “moms vs. kids” kickball games, hiked mountains, and celebrated dolly Thanksgivings together. These get-togethers take effort and energy, but I wouldn't trade them for the world.
Never underestimate the importance of friends... for you! As you help your child develop good relationships, let yourself enjoy these friendships, too.
I want my kids to have adventures! To discover! And wonder! A couple of times a month, we venture into the great unknown. In the past, I've focused on how much this costs me personally - the energy and time - but I've started to notice that I have my own adventures along the way. I, too, discover and wonder. It wakes me up. It makes me a more interesting person. It teaches me more about God and the world He has made. Adventuring is often hard work. It rarely goes according to plan. It never plays out like a storybook, but each adventure means just as much to me as it does to my kids.
Do you like adventuring? I encourage you to look for ways that it enriches you. Take pictures. Keep a journal. This life is a glorious gift from God!
I'm sitting here chuckling because I feel exhausted from writing this list. I certainly don’t do these things every day. They’re just aspects of homeschooling that I work hard to create when possible. The point is, I could whine about the effort it takes and the ways it never goes according to plan, or I could notice the profound blessings I receive from each incredible experience along the way.
When we work hard to bring sunlight, fresh air, beauty, truth, goodness, exercise, music, literature, adventure, traditions, celebration, service, fun and friendship into our children’s lives, we bring them into our own lives, too. May you discover the goodness of motherhood and homeschooling for yourself. I hope you, too, can see glimpses of how you are blessed from the good things you are giving to your child. Whether you dance, read, work, play, or snuggle, look for the good gifts God is giving you through homeschooling.
Expect Something Beautiful in Motherhood - Session 1, Friday 10:30 a.m.
Teach Your Baby to Read: The Secrets to a Literary Education - Session 2, Friday 1 p.m.
Homeschooling with Babies & Toddlers - Session 3, Friday 3 p.m.
Encourage Your Child to High Standards While Homeschooling - Session 4, Saturday 10:30 a.m.
Why (and How) to Read-Aloud to Babies & Toddlers - Session 5, Saturday 1 p.m.
How to Help Your Child Do What You Say - Session 6, Saturday 3 p.m.
Greetings PAACH homeschoolers. A new year is begun and we at PAACH are hard at work getting ready for convention. My family is especially busy on top of that with a house renovation project and planning my oldest daughter’s summer wedding. Life just keeps moving forward and changes keep happening. Some of you may have an intimate understanding of wedding planning or home renovations, and others of you can’t even imagine these things yet. The beauty of being in community with so many different families is that you can find encouragement in the specific challenges that you are facing in whatever phase of life you happen to be journeying through. God really knew what He was doing when he formed the family and charged us to stay in community with other believers. Family is the first place we learn how to do community. We may not always do it well, but we can learn how to encourage, repent, offer forgiveness, show mercy and try again. All these things are wrapped up in bearing one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) and family is the training ground. I don’t have a lot to share this month other than these few thoughts: Is your family God’s training ground for your kids? Is discipleship a high priority in your home? What are a few small changes that you can make to improve the effectiveness of your family and glorify God a little more than last year?
As we move toward this year’s convention, our focus is “Being Transformed.” (Romans 12:2) The PAACH board and committee are working to provide you with opportunities to find new resources, discover new tools, and make new connections that will aid you in teaching your children to know and love God. We want to help you learn as a family, grow in community, and glorify God in everything you do, but especially in homeschooling. We look forward to serving your family and seeing what God has in store for you and your children this year.
Tim and Stephanie Irwin have been married for 15 years and are currently homeschooling their four children in the Peoria area. They are actively involved in Bethany Baptist Church, American Heritage Girls and Trail Life.
If you're interested in being featured as a spotlight family, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join James and Arkasia Cox, this month's family spotlight. James is the PAACH board president, and they have been homeschooling for 17 years.
Greetings PAACH homeschoolers. I hope your family is doing well and has found your groove for this school year. I also hope you have found other like-minded families to be in community with. Even though I have spoken about community in previous articles, I want to dig a little deeper into our need for community. This article will address three questions: Why do I need community? What are the benefits to my family homeschool? How can I get more involved?
In the beginning, God created man in His image and then said, “it’s not good for man to be alone.” (Gen 1:26, 2:18) Part of the theology of the Trinity is that God has always existed in community; three persons in perfect relationship. We have a relational God who has created us for relationship as well. We are meant to thrive in marriage, in family, and in community. He even gave us the ten commandments to teach us how to relate to Him and others, how to live in community. Jesus summed them up in two commands: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus also set an example for us by gathering around himself a small community, not only because they needed Him, but also because He needed them. Paul wrote several of his epistles from prison expressing his desire to be in community and appreciating those who brought community to him. The author of Hebrews also emphasized the importance of community when he warned believers not to forsake gathering together. (Heb 10:25) God’s Word is full of examples and commands regarding community, so it must be a priority for us.
For starters, this same passage in Hebrews says that community is an opportunity to “stir up one another to love and good works” and to “encourage one another.” (Heb 10:24-25) We all need encouragement and stirring up on a regular basis. Homeschooling is difficult (Can I get an amen?), but as the proverb goes, “many hands make light work.” Solomon wrote that “two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.” (Eccl 4:9-10) Another great benefit of community is that you get to learn more in a shorter time when you are pooling your successes and failures. You learn more together with others than by yourself because you are learning from one another’s experiences. Your children also get more diverse experiences and socialization. These benefits can be summed up in this: you and your family will be served in community. On the flip side of this, you and your family will also have opportunity to serve others. Jesus set the example for us to serve others when He washed the disciples’ feet and told them to serve each other and serve others. (John 13)
Look for opportunities to gather with other homeschoolers. PAACH has tried to plan an event once a month to get together with others in the Peoria area. Also, join a co-op, a choir, a debate club, or robotics club that meets regularly. If you get to the stage where you are ready to get involved in serving, PAACH has several volunteer opportunities available. Most of our events are dependent on volunteer service and offer benefits or scholarships to all who volunteer their time. We also have open positions on our Convention Committee. And if you are an experienced homeschooling couple who have a passion for serving the homeschool community, you may want to consider joining the PAACH Board. These are all ways to get involved in building up the homeschool community. There is also the opportunity to financially support PAACH by donating on the website. These donations help us to pay for some of these events so we can offer them for free or at a low cost. However you choose to be involved, your support and involvement is vital to building the homeschool community.
As always, the PAACH board desires to help and support you throughout your homeschooling journey. We also want to see you become a part of a growing community that enables your family to thrive. We pray that your family learns together, grows together with others in community, and glorifies Christ in everything you do.
Meet the Kellys! Bryan and Kim have seven children and live in Mendota, where Bryan is pastor of a small local church.
Greetings Peoria area homeschoolers. Summer is here and it is burning hot. I hope your family is enjoying some exciting summer activities. One of the big summer activities at our house is reading. Reading is great way to learn and enjoy new experiences without leaving the house. It’s also a good way to stretch your mind, explore theology, and shape your worldview. I am currently reading an excellent book entitled Brave by Faith written by Alistair Begg. Trust me, you will want to put this at the top of your must-read list for this summer. Through this book, I have been reminded that times of crisis reveal the truth about us and challenged to rethink what it means to walk out my faith in today’s world. I want to offer a few of my thoughts and invite you to consider getting this book. I also want to encourage you to read books together as a family.
Over the last year and a half, I believe the church has been facing a crisis. It seems that “the covid” has exposed several major weaknesses in our American churches. What weaknesses am I referring to? I am talking about an unpreparedness and perhaps even an unwillingness to love others above ourselves. I am talking about the fear that seems to have become the primary motivator for so much of our decision making. I am talking about the widespread lack of faith in the sovereign God who rules over and sustains the entire universe. I realize that I am generalizing and that this may not describe your church. This crisis has also been an opportunity for spiritual growth. I have watched several church leaders rise to the occasion and take stands that have been costly. I have even sat with my own pastor and listened to him reason that the need for Christian community is greater than the risk of getting sick (which I whole-heartedly agree with). Alistair Begg asks this question: “Is there anything I would die for?” What a great question. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book Life Together (also worth reading), believes that true Christian community is worth dying for.
Another thing I have been challenged on is what it means to live a Christian life in today’s world. Alistair states that we live in a post-Christian time and the evidence is quite overwhelming. He suggests that Daniel is a great example of a believer living in a pagan society while following God’s command in Jeremiah 29:7 to “…seek the welfare of the city in which I have sent you into exile…” Perhaps we should be reading Micah 6:8 with our children and discussing how we can “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly” in our current circumstances. After all, we are charged with raising our children to walk with God and stand for Him through adversity, which happens to be growing rapidly. If we want our children to be servants of the Most High God and effective Kingdom builders, then we must lead the way and be godly men and women who walk out our faith. How can we do that? Well, you could start by making prayer a consistent daily habit. For Daniel, the key was going to his room and praying “as he had always done.” Want more? Get the book.
Finally, I want to encourage family reading time. My wife likes to read a book aloud to our family on a regular basis. Recently, we have read through Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Hiding Place. These fantastic books stimulated some good questions and great discussions about issues like slavery, prejudice, evil, suffering, and more. Other books we have read through together include The Chronicles of Narnia series, Little House on the Prairie books, and The Castle in the Attic. This is an excellent way to learn together as a family. There are so many good classics, take some time to adventure or experience history together.
The PAACH board desires to help and support you. We hope that your summer is filled with fun learning activities and memory-making experiences. We pray that your family learns together, grows together with others in community, and glorifies Christ in everything you do.
Hello, I’m Lucas Rassi, the son of Andrew and Sandy Rassi. A few things about myself: I love the outdoors, singing, spending time with friends, and food. I’ve been a part of Peoria Cooperative Academy since 7th grade and it’s been a great experience.
I’m currently enrolled at ICC and plan to go to school there for another year and then transfer to the University of Illinois College of Engineering for computer science. I’m very thankful for my family, and the friends and teachers I’ve been blessed by God to have throughout high school, who helped me grow into the person I am now. Mathew 25:40, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
Kinsley is planning to attend Olivet Nazarene University this fall and majoring in communications. She has been homeschooled the past 10 years and in her free time she loves coffee shops, being with family and hanging out with friends. We are so proud of you Kinsley and excited to see all the Lord has planned for you.
Daniel Kelly graduated on June 6, 2021 and is looking forward to full-time work at a manufacturing company in Mendota. He’s worked there part-time for the past 2 years learning valuable trade skills like welding and heavy machinery operation. In his spare time, which he’ll now have much more of being assignment free, he likes knife-making, 3D computer modeling, and hanging out with Dad, Mom and his 6 brothers and sisters.
For questions regarding newsletter submissions, the Homeschool Convention or home education in general, please send an email to email@example.com. A Board member will respond as soon as possible.
Mailing Address: PAACH | P.O. Box 5203 | Peoria, IL 61601