See the Light Bible Story Set Giveaway!

(If you click the links below and purchase any of the See the Light products, our family will receive a small commission – thank you!)
See the Light | RaisingArrows.netI’ve been telling you for several years about my favorite homeschool art program – See the Light Art.  It is DVD-based and takes the guess work out of art for the homeschool family.  It was a huge relief finding such a great program!  Since that time, See the Light has come out with even more wonderful art programs that not only teach art concepts, but how to use them to minister to others!

Find all the See the Light Art products here.

Today, I am thrilled to be able to bring you a fantastic giveaway for the
ENTIRE BIBLE STORY SET!

Win the See the Light Bible Story Set on RaisingArrows.net

First, let me tell you a bit about this set:

The Bible Story Set includes 5 DVDs –
The CrossMaker – (great for Resurrection Sunday!)
God’s Special Surprise – (the story of Moses)
Gift of Love – (The Christmas Story)
Shipwrecked – (adventures with the Apostle Paul)
God’s Runaway – (the story of Jonah)

These DVDs include stories, special drawings, 3 art lessons, and ideas for sharing the Gospel with others.  This set would be a fantastic art program for your homeschool this year and for years to come!

I’d also really encourage you to sign up for See the Light’s brand new newsletter before the end of April!  You will receive a FREE Watercolor Butterfly project that is GORGEOUS!  (Click HERE, scroll down a bit to the box in the righthand sidebar, and don’t forget to tell them Raising Arrows sent you!)

Sign up for See the Light's newsletter and receive a  FREE Butterfly Watercolor project - tell them Raising Arrows sent you!You will also find tons of FREE resources in every newsletter!  This is one of my favorite newsletters to receive!  I will often forward them on to my artistically inclined daughter.

Ready for the Giveaway?  Use the widget below to enter the giveaway – if reading via email, click here and scroll down to find the giveaway on my blog!  (winner will be announced on Friday)

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Home School Hope Interview

Home School Hope Podcast interview with Amy Roberts of RaisingArrows.netThis past week, I was interviewed on a podcast called Home School Hope.  I really enjoyed the interview, and I thought all of you might like to listen to it.  It’s not super long, so you can start it while you cook dinner and be done before your food is ready!

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

{GIVEAWAY} Kings of Israel – The Cooperative Board Game Your Entire Family Will Enjoy!

Kings of Israel Cooperative Game - Review & Giveaway on RaisingArrows.net

“This game is awesome!”
~Blake (17)

About a year ago, I asked you to help fund the Kings of Israel board game.  Today, that board game is available, and yes, it IS awesome!

Let me tell you a little about how the game works…

First of all this is a cooperative game, meaning you play against the game and not each other.  For our family, this means a couple of things.
1.  Our 14 year old daughter will play the game because she really detests competitive games…and
2.  Our entire family can play together (with help).
Note:  Kings of Israel is a mentally involved game where strategy is important.  Because of this, it is geared more toward teens; however, with a little help our elementary aged students have been able to play.

KOI4

 

In the game, each player is a prophet of Israel trying to build altars to destroy sin as the team works together through the the timeline of the Kings of Israel.  Each player draws a card at the beginning of the game to tell them what special action they have that will help the other team members out.  (For instance, you might draw a card that allows you to destroy all sin in an area every time an altar is built there.)

KOI1

There are 4 things you do each turn, and every player plays every round.  Sin builds with each round.  Where you are on the timeline of kings determines what kind of cards you draw that round.  The game is ever changing, and difficult enough that you will not win every time you play.  Because of the adaptability of this game, it will be a family favorite for years and years!

This has become a game Blake enjoys playing with friends.  He even took it with him on a recent trip!  The other children enjoy it a lot too, but Blake is definitely my kid with the strategic mind. ;)

As a mom, I am pleased with the quality craftsmanship.  I am also impressed that the makers of Kings of Israel (Funhill Games) have created a Biblically-based game that is intriguing, interesting, and intelligent.  I am always pleased when I see Christians working hard to create top-of-the-line products.  

By purchasing products like Kings of Israel, you are helping to support and promote these types of endeavors by fellow Christians.  And stay tuned to Funhill Games…I expect even more great things from them in the near future, including a Kings of Israel video game version!

Kings of Israel Coupon Code

Use coupon code: KINGSPRO when you buy from Amazon and get 20% off retail price.  This coupon code will expire on April 16, 2015. (affiliate link)

>> CLICK HERE TO ORDER <<

ANNOUNCEMENT:  The coupon code is not working properly on Amazon, so Funhill Games has reduced the price there so you do not need a coupon code.  When this issue is resolved, the price will go back up and the code will work.

Funhill Games is also generously giving away 3 Kings of Israel games here on Raising Arrows!  Follow the directions below to get your family entered into this giveaway.  Winner will be announced here on Friday!  (Reading via email?  CLICK HERE to enter.)
(Note:  This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only due to cost-prohibitive shipping prices.)

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Finding Our Way Back Home

This series on Homeschool Information Overload is an outcropping of my own homeschooling journey.  I’ve been that mom stressed by all the information, questioning every curriculum choice, changing curriculum several times a year, wondering if I’d ever get it right.  I was so tired, so worn out, so sick of it all.  What I really wanted was to find my way back home.back home

The heart of homeschooling is bringing your children home to teach them the Lord’s precepts day after day (Deut. 6) and live, work, and play as a family unit.  When we lose this, we start to question ourselves and burn out.  We get discouraged.

Sometimes an event will bring us back “home” – like staying in a remote cabin for a week with very few distractions or the death of a family member.  We have a moment of clarity and remember what truly matters.  But for some reason, these moments do not stick.  We get caught up in the every day and lose sight of the eternal.

So, how do we find our way “back home” amidst our every day lives?  How do we learn to stay focused and not get lost in all the information bombarding our senses?

Mother's Love by Pino

Mother’s Love by Pino

1.  Learn to step back.  When we get overloaded and overwhelmed, we have to learn to step back.  We will fail to stay focused if we just keep going.  I tend to be the type of person who will go and go and then crash, but rather than learn from this,  get back up and go and go again.  This is NOT what the Lord wants from us.  There is a day set aside for rest for a reason, and even more importantly, Jesus IS our Sabbath rest!  Are you resting in Him or are you acting like a crazy woman chasing after the world?

If you need to step back, don’t wait until Saturday or Sunday to do it.  Sit still NOW.  Even if you have to put on a movie for the kiddos, do it and then, take a step back and ask the Lord to focus your heart and mind on Him.  Breathe, mama.

2.  Stop trying to do it all.

Micah 6 reminds us of what God requires of us:

“to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God”
Micah 6:8b

Titus 2 tells us what young homeschool moms should be about the business of:

“love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands”
Titus 2:4b-5a

If these things start slipping, you are doing too much!  There will be seasons where you simply cannot do anything outside the home.  Don’t add in a bunch of homeschool classes and groups to these seasons thinking they will somehow make things easier!

I’d encourage you to take these seasons and simplify your life.  Bring your homeschool down to the basics.  Give yourself room to breathe and be with your children and husband.  When you have a better focus on your home life, you can begin to add a few things in, always being aware of your limitations and your heart attitude.

Afternoon Party by Cassatt

Afternoon Party by Cassatt

2.  Surround yourself with encouragement and the voice of reason.  When you are trying to lose weight, it doesn’t do you a lot of good to be around people who really like to overeat.  The same goes for handling information overload.  If you spend a lot of time with other homeschool moms who are constantly pigging out on homeschool information and constantly questioning themselves, you will find yourself doing the same.  It takes a very strong mama to be around that for very long.  So, until you are better focused, please avoid people who only feed your feeling of overload.

3.  Read your Bible.  That may sound trite, but I know when my focus is off, my Bible reading is also off.  The Lord gently reminded me this past week that I wasn’t spending much time with Him.  I am currently reading through the Old Testament and also reading 1 John over and over for 30 days (a method suggested by John MacArthur).  You have to make this a habit so that when everything else in your life feels crazy, you can come to the Word of God to find your footing.

 4.  Bring the HOME back to homeschool.  What kind of mom were you before you were a “homeschool mom?”  Did she get lost somewhere?  Are you mothering your children…or just teaching them?  Are you operating as a family…or a school?

Take a look at your curriculum, your schedule, your activities from a different view…the view from inside your home!  Do those things fit the goals you have as a wife and mother?  Is a curriculum so intensive that you (and the children) are stressed out by it?  Is a class you have the children in taking up too much time and leaving you (and the children) frantic?  Are you exhausted at the end of the day, leaving nothing for your husband?

Your homeschool will not be nearly as effective if you are only “schooling” and missing the “home” part of the equation.

Now is your opportunity to start over, start fresh!  If you need to, take this week off from school and take a breather.  Play with the children.  Read to the children.  Spend time as a family.  Spend time with your spouse.  Take note of the rhythm of your day.  Consider how homeschooling fits into your family life.  Consider where the Lord is leading your family.  Read through this series again.  And then, plan accordingly.  Not a crazy, extensive, year long plan, but rather, a plan for next week.  A plan that is doable, that fits your family, that speaks to your heart, that honors the Lord.

To read the entire series, START HERE.

Homeschool Information Overload – Advice From the Finish Line

Seeing how much my readers needed this series on Homeschool Information Overload, I decided to ask my friend, Linda of Apron Strings and Other Things to share her perspective from the Finish Line.  She has graduated half of her children and has been homeschool twice as long as I have.  I think you will find her advice timely, relevant, and oh so helpful!

To read the entire series, start HERE.

Homeschool Information Overload Advice from a 24 year homeschooling veteran.  Guest post on RaisingArrows.netEverywhere I turn these days I’m seeing and hearing discussion about being overwhelmed. Too much input, too many choices, too much to do . . etc. etc. It is especially true in the homeschooling community. In twenty-four years of educating our children at home, I have to tell you this is not a new topic of conversation. But I must say that the level of stress I’m sensing in those I talk with is higher than ever. Why is that?

Homeschooling is not so uncommon now as when our family began. There are now more choices in curriculum than ever. There are now many families who’ve graduated children out of their homeschool. Colleges now happily accept homeschooled students. Why are we still so overwhelmed?

When we began homeschooling there were only a handful of curriculum choices available. There was no internet. We didn’t carry cell phones. I did have that long coiled telephone cord attached to the receiver, though. I could reach all the way across the room to check on a child working his math problems while making doctor and dentist appointments! There were exactly three books on homeschooling in our local Christian bookstore. THREE! We bought all three. That was my introduction to homeschooling.

Way back then we knew of only one other family who homeschooled. They had been at it a whole year already. We had never ‘seen’ another family homeschool. We knew of no support groups or co-ops. We had never heard of anyone actually homeschooling through high school. Did I feel overwhelmed? Absolutely. Did that make me want to throw in the towel and give up? Sometimes. But we didn’t. We kept on, taking one day at a time, one step at a time, one good day one bad day at a time.

We began our homeschooling journey with the conviction that we were not putting our children into a traditional school setting and so we were not bound to educate our children in the traditional school model. That gave us so much freedom! Fast forward a few years and our first child graduates. And then another. And then soon we’d graduated four! With half our children “on the other side” and doing fine in the real world, I am often asked how did you do it? What worked? What did we do well?

A 24 year homeschool veteran shares her view from the finish line | RaisingArrows.net

      • We made a conscious choice to HOMEschool rather than homeSCHOOL. The education of our children (and their parents!) was a part of our everyday lifestyle at home. This gave each child confidence in who they are even when academics were difficult, even when they found themselves in a situation, even when they may not have had as much knowledge in a particular area as others around them might.

"Our children seemed to naturally fill their free time with creativity." - a 24 year veteran homeschool mom shares how to overcome information overload in your homeschool | Guest post on RaisingArrows.net

    • Because we were not a slave to someone else’s schedule or expectations or syllabus, our children seemed to naturally fill their free time with creativity. Pretend play and inventive games were common everyday occurrences. This nurtures that ‘think outside the box’ mentality what makes them adaptable to many situations, teaches them to think on their feet, develops problem solving skills.

 

    • Books were always available, and the children were given time to read them, to use them, to be familiar with them. Early on they learned they could visit other places, meet new people and gather information by reading between the covers of those books. Books from our shelves, from our libraries, from other families. (And yes, add to that the internet, used with discernment, it has expanded our ability to learn. Visit my Pinterest Board to for a few ideas)

"Books were always available, and the children were given time to read them, to use them, to be familiar with them." - a homeschool shares advice from the finish line | Guest post on RaisingArrows.net

    • We chose to remain committed to schooling our children at home, even when our days were chaotic, even when I wasn’t sure what to do next, even when we had a struggling learner. The children knew homeschooling was what we did, and we’d figure it out together.

I also get the question “what would you do differently?”

      • I would have worked harder to tune out the “noise” of others. The newest curricula on the block and the promises of guaranteed results by any product or publisher would distract me from what was working well in our family. My children were learning and progressing so there was no reason to go looking for something to replace what we were using.

"I would listen to fewer opinions." - a veteran homeschool mom shares what she would have done differently | Guest post on RaisingArrows.net

      • I would listen to fewer opinions. I would not read so many reviews. While most are intended to be helpful, they are also written to persuade. I often sought out information because I didn’t trust myself. I feared my children might be missing something. Fear would keep me searching rather than taking courage and stepping out and getting started, making the most of what we already had available to us.

 

      • I would stop trying so hard to mimic another family’s supposedly perfect method. Methods are man-made. They are not perfect. My family is not your family is not their family. And no matter how good someone looks on the surface, you don’t have to go very deep to find imperfection. Comparison is a dangerous trap. It only drags me down, makes me discontent and keeps me from being able to give to my own family.

 

      • I would stop fretting. I spent a lot of energy and time wondering if I was doing this right or if that child was measuring up to others’ standards or if my children are as smart as that other homeschool mom (you know the one!). Fretting wastes energy and time. It holds me back from doing what I ought to be doing. Again, comparison is a dangerous trap.

"I would do a better job of loving my children the way Jesus loves them. " - a veteran homeschool mom shares what she would have done differently | Guest post on RaisingArrows.net

      • Most importantly, I would do a better job of loving my children the way Jesus loves them. What would be HIS priorities in our homeschool? What would be HIS expectations of the children? How would HE react to the childish behaviors I have to put up with each day? How would Jesus respond to a child who dawdles and is easily distracted? How would HE react to the umpteen-billion requests and comments that come my way every day?

Notice I didn’t give you a formula with what resources are most successful, what lesson plans we used, what type of schedule we set up? That would set you up for that overwhelmed feeling. Instead I hope you’ll see that by staying the course you will arrive on the other side. You can guide your children through their schooling even when life is messy.

Maybe you are saying “What if I don’t teach them everything they need to know?” Knowing it all? That’s a myth. You can’t, you won’t. And that’s ok. I didn’t know it all. I wasn’t sure how exactly we were going to accomplish this homeschooling thing, but we started. I learned along side my children. There have been gaps in my children’s education. Compared with what we are told we need these days to homeschool our children, my family’s endeavor should not have been successful. Those four children who’ve graduated from our homeschool? They have gone on the earn college degrees, enter the mission field, marry and start families of their own, remain involved in their church activities. I call that successful.


 

Apron Strings other things Family PhotoLinda Sears is a stay-at-home wife, homeschooling mother and doting grandmother. She and her husband have 8 children, a daughter-in-law, 2 sons-in-law and 7 grandchildren, so far. They have been homeschooling for more than 20 years, graduating 4 of their 8 children, with 4 more to go. You’ll find her at Apron Strings & other things where she shares tidbits, tales, tricks and tips from her days of raising children in various stages of cutting those apron strings. You can also find her on FaceBook, Pinterest, and Google+

How to Tame the Homeschool Information Monster

It would be all sorts of wrong for me to tell you that the sea of homeschool information is overwhelming and then fail to offer you a life raft to navigate the waters.  Today’s post is that life raft.
monster

Wading through all the homeschooling information out there is a little bit like losing weight. You know you have to eat food in order to survive.  In order to lose weight (and keep it off), you have to eat less food and learn to make good choices from here on out.  You also know that in order to homeschool, you have to have some sort of resources and direction.  In order to homeschool without becoming overwhelmed by it all, you have to focus, simplify, and learn to make good choices.  Food becomes a monster if you try to eat it all.  Homeschool information becomes a monster if you try to do it all.

Here are just a few of the “monsters” you may encounter:

The Homeschool Convention Monster

(affiliate links included)
I will be the first person to tell you I am a homeschool convention junkie.  I LOVE homeschool conventions.  They are so much fun!  I would be sad if I couldn’t go to at least one homeschool convention a year.  But, I will also be the first person to tell you that homeschool conventions can feel a bit like drinking from a fire hydrant.  Information overload for sure.  It is imperative you go PREPARED.  That is exactly why I wrote this FREE ebook:

Tame the Homeschool Information Monster - one way is to be prepared for your local homeschool convention with this FREE ebook! | RaisingArrows.net

 Download your copy HERE
and
READ IT!

NOTE:  Because of personal and family circumstances, I will not be attending Teach Them Diligently this year; however, I highly recommend you go to one of these conventions if you are able.  The focus of these conventions is less on curriculum and more on family discipleship.  Find out more here:

Tame the Homeschool Information Monster - one convention I recommend because of its focus on family, not curriculum is Teach Them Diligently | RaisingArrows.net


The Homeschool Catalog Monster

I have a love/hate relationship with homeschool curriculum catalogs.  They are fascinating and frightening all at the same time.  I love the ones with articles.  The ones with reviews are super helpful.  And if the cover shows a serene homeschooling scene on it, it gets bonus points!  If I had a coffee table, homeschool catalogs would be my coffee table books.  But, let me tell you, it doesn’t take much for these lovely stacks of paper to become monsters.

I’m a blogger.  I get how marketing works.  Companies want you to buy their product.  They want to make their product look good.  You are not going to read negative reviews in their catalog.  Despite all of this, they can be very helpful for learning more about each product.  What you have to do is learn to control the catalog and not let the catalog control you.

When you get a catalog, thumb through it keeping in mind your family’s homeschooling vision (remember, we talked about this HERE).  If something in the catalog piques your interest, explore the reason why.  Is it all the living books?  Is it a super hands-on science curriculum?  Is it a curriculum that integrates all the subjects?  Understanding the things that interest you will help you to put together a homeschooling experience that is perfect for your family.

You want to use the catalogs as a springboard.  Just because you like the looks of a curriculum, does not mean you have to buy THAT curriculum.  Once you know WHY you like certain aspects of each curricula you research, you can gain a sense of direction.

Example:  You receive a catalog that shows lots of photos of moms reading aloud to their children.  The catalog is full of great read aloud titles.  When you analyze why you like this catalog, you realize you wish you were incorporating more read alouds into your homeschool day.  While you could buy this curriculum, you could also simply choose to add more read alouds to your current homeschool curriculum.  Both of these answers could be the right fit for your family, but choosing to control the catalog, rather than letting it control you, keeps YOU in charge.


The Homeschool Blog Monster

While I may share with you what curriculum we are using, and I may share with you what curriculum is working right now, it might not be what we use next year and it might not be what works tomorrow.  However, you read it here, and you are pretty sure I know what I’m talking about.  After all, I have a blog!

Problem is…I’m human and our homeschool isn’t perfect and I do change my mind!

Another thing you have to watch out for are biased reviews.  While most homeschool bloggers I know would never dream of falsely representing a product to their audience, you will find that reviews on homeschool blogs are diplomatic.  Like the curriculum catalogs, bloggers want to make a product they are working for look good.  They want to offer a fair and honest assessment, but they do not want to commit libel.

So, how do you handle this sort of homeschool information overload?  You look to bloggers you trust.  Don’t run all over blogland trying to find answers.  If you follow a certain blogger for a while, you will find out what products they are faithfully using.  They will mention them more than once.  They will list them in a curriculum line up.  They will be more than happy to discuss them with you.  Feel free to contact bloggers and ask if they are still using a product and any negative thoughts about the product they’d be willing to share privately.

Also, recognize that bloggers are homeschool moms just like you.  They don’t always get it right.  They do change curriculum and methodology.  They are looking for answers just like you are.  Have mercy.


The Homeschool Group Monster

Get a bunch of homeschool moms together in a room and you are sure to find the conversation turning to curriculum and methods.  If you aren’t sure of yourself as a homeschool mom, these groups can be disastrous.  You can walk away from them feeling like a confused failure.

Again, you have to remember that what you see at homeschool group is not indicative of how each mother’s homeschool is running.  Other homeschool moms are struggling too.

Now, you could just walk away from homeschool groups altogether (this is one way to build some “white space” into your day), but if you have your heart set on joining a homeschool group, or you find that most of the time the homeschool group you are a part of is very encouraging and helpful, then it is imperative you learn to shut out all the extra voices.

And this is where the real issue reveals itself…


The Homeschool Mom Monster

We are our own worst enemy.  The fear and self-doubt, the focus away from what really matters, the extras that bog us down all serve to paralyze and overload us.  As I mentioned in the first post of this series…we lose ourselves.  When we lose sight of WHY we homeschool and WHO we are doing this for, we fall flat on our faces.

And that, my friends, is precisely WHERE we need to be.

“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go.  My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”  ~Abraham Lincoln

As a homeschool mom, there really is no other place we can go, but to our knees.  We are broken.  We are failures.  We are not enough on our own.  But there is One who IS enough.  Everything we are starts there.  Our homeschool choices must start there.  Our methodology, our schedules, our vision, all must start there.

You tame this homeschool information monster by keeping your focus on Jesus.  And when you falter (because you will), don’t go chasing after other things to get you back on track.  Get back to Jesus.

From there, you CAN research and listen to others and try new things because you have your firm Foundation in place.

To read the entire series, START HERE.