Ten Pitfalls of Homeschooling Dads

There was 1 session at the Southeastern Homeschool Expo that was built just for Dads, taught by Doug Cherry of FrontlineMoms.com. It was the Top Ten Dad Pitfalls. Here are his notes for you to read, or share with your husbands.

Pitfalls of Homeschooling Dads

  1. Thinking we can’t.
  2. Pray for your spouse, kids, and kids’ future spouses
  3. Lead and allow wife’s talents to come out
  4. Failure to make your relationship the foundation of your homeschool
  5. Failure to work with team to find proper place in homeschool
  6. Failure to make the home joyful
  7. Failure to be flexible with your children, and consider their personalities
  8. Failure to be a visionary in our purpose
  9. Failure to prepare for the homeschool battle
  10. Failure to realize parenting is your highest calling, and realize you are handing the baton off to the next generation of leaders

I feel bad writing all those ‘failures’ because I err on the side of positive words, but these are the man’s words. He said basically, you should have courage to work through your problems up front. If you are called to homeschool, you are equipped. For example, Caleb and Joshua were equipped to go in and take the land God promised them. Dads must have the attitude that they can take the land. A calling comes with power.

Help your children develop a vision for your lives, and train kids to pray for each other. One way to do this is to start a tradition at birthdays that everyone says something nice about the birthday person.

Do not provoke your children and frustrate nor break them. Fathers can be harsh and stubborn, not admitting they are wrong sometimes.

Highlight your children’s gifts so they learn who they are, and then foster those gifts.

Have a family vision statement. If you have no vision, it leads to a lack of restraint.

Remember you’re battling against spiritual wars, not flesh and blood.

There you have it. Those are my husbands notes from this very important session from the conference. I asked him what his takeaway was, and he said the biggest thing was


Preventing Sexual Abuse

The session hosted by Lisa Cherry, was perhaps, one of the 2 most important sessions I may have attended at the Southeastern Homeschool Expo. I recommend you purchase “Unmask the Predators“.

Here are some of the highlights from her talk:

Abuse is any contact or interaction (psychological, visual or verbal) that imposes harm on another person, against their will.

90% of the time, the abuser is already in the child’s life. 75% of victims are silent even after 1 year, and 45% are still silent even after 5 years of abuse. The soul ‘goes in hiding from itself’. Only 3% of predators get jail time for their crime. 80% of americans have viewed pornography last week.

  • Abuse can happen in any family
    • Predators are attracted to innocence
    • Problems occur when we are distracted

An abuser will lie to him- or herself, and to you. He or she will ‘groom’ the victim like a frog in hot water. Grooming is a subtle psychological process that conditions the victim not to talk by moving boundary lines slowly, and then threatening the victim into silence, even into believing the abuse is the victim’s fault.

Inside the Home

  • Maintain a close relationship with your children
    • Maintain humor
    • Forgive your children
    • Make home a place your kids want to be
    • Express affection and physical touch
      • Be the first to compliment your children and encourage your children in their appearance and other areas
    • Allow stylistic expression and modern dressing within guidelines – “Climb into the rink of identity formation with your child”
  • Demonstrate marital excitement – show the model of appropriate affection
    • Be romantic sweethearts with your spouse
    • Be excited for weekend getaways and date nights with your spouse
  • Train your children
    • Train for obedience – kids may not always understand your decisions… that’s okay. They should give you honor and obedience, or be ‘demoted to the point where you can guarantee their safety’
    • Use a dating and courtship model
      • Let your children know how to guard and maintain their purity
    • Decode the role models of pop culture, and in the materials and literature your children read, see, and hear about – discuss these people with your children
    • Watch your children’s friends
      • Create a sleepover policy
    • Monitor cell phones, internet – you can use Covenant Eyes to help you
    • Look up developmental charts for each of your children’s ages and look for developmental vulnerabilities for each child
      • Talk to your children about these and how to identify and respond to people who might be trying to take advantage of them – what would a ‘bad person say?’ and ‘how would you respond’
      • Teach children to confidently respond (ex: I tell my mom and dad everything’)
      • Teach children to ‘always tell you or someone else if someone is acting weird or bothering you’
      • Explain good and bad touch, and sex education using correct names for body parts
    • Kids lack experience even if they are mature for their age.
    • Teach your children the tricky nature of deception and spiritual principles (ex: fall of Sampson, Potifer’s wife and Joseph, Sodom and Gomorrah, Proverbs, occurrences of rape in the Bible, fornication, any examples of sexual deviance in the Bible)
    • Unmask the predatory forces by using the Bible’s stories, and continue unmasking the work of the enemy in news feeds. Don’t bury issues under the rug. Discuss them so you can equip your child.
  • Maintain spiritual alertness
    • Pray scriptures, intercession, loosing and binding, praise
    • Stay in the “Word” – read your B-I-B-L-E
    • Ask “Who is holding my child’s heart”, whose name do they mention, who are they trying to impress?

Outside the Home

  • Watch church safety
    • Investigate, prescreen, ask questions
  • Know your legal rights, contraceptives, medical privacy for minors, reporting laws for health professionals, counselors, teachers, clergy and workers with children
  • Put everyone on your ‘watch list’
  • Enlist family and friends to help you ‘watch’ and make observations about the people around them
  • Limit one-on-one time with adults

Homeschoolers are vulnerable

  • kids are comfortable with adults
  • kids are mature so we tend to trust them more
  • kids lack experience with predators – they would have learned this in public school
  • kids want affirmation from the outside world but they need to know someone could view them as conquest

To start the conversation with your young kids, buy “The Swimsuit Lesson

When I Deny You Dinner

I’m known for being a positive discipline, crunchy, Christian mom. But tonight is the first time I’ve denied my 3.75 year old dinner.  Let me share why. Here are my five easy steps to having dinner denied to you.

  1. I put a healthy meal in front of you and you told me you didn’t like it. How rude.
  2. I offered you a snack later if you finish your dinner. You leave and go look out the window. Really?
  3. I reminded you, you’re not excused. You go get Pom Poms instead. This is disobedience.
  4. You get two more reminders that it’s dinner time, you’re not eating later if you don’t eat now, and you still don’t eat. Your reply is a question. That’s not a response. That’s avoidance behavior. Very savvy, little one.
  5. I clean up dinner without your help. You sealed the deal.

I did however still do reading time, and let him snuggle in my bed. I’m glad I did. There’s nothing like watching your firstborn fall asleep. 

I guess he really wasn’t hungry afterall. But if I offered him junk food, he would have scarfed it down. We are coming back to normal life after vacation. Welcome to normal life, kiddo. I love you!


How to Track the Progress of Your Little Ones in Homeschool: Rising 4 year old Scope and Sequence

It’s a challenge to know what you’re rising 4 year old, or preschooler should know. I’ve compiled lists from large curriculum brands such as Abeka, and Sonlight, and more… and came up with a list of my own, see below. I will keep posting every so often so you know how we are achieving these goals this year!

Understands big and little.
Understand long and short.
Matches shaped or objects based on size.
Colors and Shapes
Recognizes and names primary colors.
Recognizes circles.
Recognizes rectangles.
Matches shapes or objects based on shape.
Copies shapes.
Counts 1-100
Understands 1-20
Knows what number come before and after in the 1-20 sequence
Can add up to 10
Opposites and prepositions
Dot patterns
Number line
Understands day and night.
Knows age and birthday.
Reading the clock, or parts of the clock
Reading Readiness
Remembers objects from a given picture.
Recognizes name
Recognizes picture for short and long vowels and consonants
Blends one and two-vowel words
Vocabulary development and enrichment
Writing Readiness
Prints own first name.
Writes vowels and consenants in upper and lower case
Forms letters, blends and words in cursive
Correct posture and pencil hold, paper placement
Finger tracing and pencil tracking of right to left, vertical, horizontal, zig zag and curved lines
Poetry, memory and recitation
26 poems and finger plays in memory
Language development and listening skills
color words
community helpers
Simple reading comprehension
Dictation of group writing experiences, sentence completion, sequencing of stories
Serve as their scribe as they begin to practice creative writing. Imitate good writing during weekly copywork exercises.
Spiritual Habits and Faith Building
Boyhood of Jesus
Good Samaritan
Include memory verses and hymns/choruses
David – obedience
Esther – courage
Elisha – kindness
Joseph – responsibility
Timothy – thankfulness
Paul – contentment
Wise Men – Generosity
Paul’s nephew – honesty
Elijah – prayer
Jesus- forgiveness
Noah – trust
Josiah – respect
Abraham – patience
Motor Skills
Is able to run.
Is able to walk a straight line.
Is able to jump.
Is able to hop.
Is able to alternate feet walking down stairs.
Is able to march.
Is able to stand on one foot for 5-10 seconds.
Is able to walk backwards for five feet.
Is able to throw a ball.
Pastes objects.
Claps hands.
Matches simple objects.
Touches fingers.
Able to button a garment.
Builds with blocks.
Completes simple puzzles (5 pieces or less).
Draws and colors beyond
 a simple scribble.
Able to zip a zipper.
Controls pencil and crayon well.
Cuts simple shapes.
Handles scissors well.
Able to copy simple shapes.
Creative Movement
Position and Direction
Understands up and down.
Understands in and out.
Understands front and back.
Understands over (on) and under.
Understands top, bottom, middle.
Understands beside and next to.
Understands hot and cold.
Understands fast and slow.
Listening and Sequencing
Follows simple directions.
Listens to a short story.
Listens carefully.
Recognizes common sounds.
Repeats a sequence of sounds.
Repeats a sequence of orally given numbers.
Retells simple stories in sequence.
Understands first this, then that
Understands if this, then that
Imitation activities
Social-Emotional Development
Can be away from parents or primary care givers for 2-3 hours without being upset.
Takes care of toilet needs independently.
Feels good about self.
Is not afraid to go to school.
Cares for own belongings.
Knows full name.
Dresses self.
Knows how to use handkerchief or tissue.
Knows own sex.
Brushes teeth.
Crosses residential street safely.
Asks to go to school.
Knows parents’ names.
Knows home address.
Knows home phone number.
Enters into casual conversation.
Carries a plate of food.
Maintains self-control.
Gets along well with other children.
Plays with other children.
Recognizes authority.
Shares with others.
Talks easily.
Likes teachers.
Meets visitors without shyness.
Puts away toys.
Able to stay on task.
Able to work independently.
Helps family with chores.
Character traits
Habit development
Puts Shoes Away
Helps clear table
Helps set table
Picks up toys
Wipe Bathroom Sinks
Take out recycling
Pair socks
Helps put clothes away
Wipes table after eating
Helps Water Garden
Puts clothes in hamper
Helps carry items
Unload Dishwasher
Dusts with feather duster
Swiffers, sweeps or mops, vaccums floor
Move clothes from washer to dryer
Folds Towels in half and quarters
Make bed with help
Wipes cabinets
Wipes baseboards
Feeds pets with help
Wipes table after eating
Follows directions
Eye Hand coordination
Colors, shapes
Fine motor skills in drawing, coloring, cutting and gluing
Creative Expression
Picture study
Knows Traditional fun songs, sings and listens to them
Singing and listening to outside teacher
Copying a beat
Ear training
Composer Study
Identifies A-G in order, and knows treble and bass clef signs
Start reading while playing
Just develops a love of music
Starts to connect musical expression with emotions – learns to play or appreciate music from the heart
Finds music is a way to worship God and soften his heart
Can start to play simple tunes for an audience (mini performance)
Familiar stories
Observation skills
Hands on learning
Seasonal changes of animals and plants
Animal families
Nature study
Animals, plants and the way things move. Experiments and hands-on activities.
Patriotic Symbols and Holidays
Pledge of Allegience
Discover fascinating differences (and similarities) between people around the world.
Life skills and handicrafts
Stewardship – money
Put hand on arm before interrupting
Thank you
Cover Mouth when sneezing/coughing
Ask before taking
Sorry for real
Knock before entering
If you bump into somebody, immediately say “Excuse me.”
Sit Quietly
Talk with mouth empty
Don’t make fun
Be Helpful
Hold Doors Open
Ladies first
Shake hands with eye contact
Stand for women
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it
When people ask you how you are, tell them and then ask them how they are.
When you have spent time at your friend’s house, remember to thank his or her parents for having you over and for the good time you had.
Knock on closed doors — and wait to see if there’s a response — before entering.
When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling.
Don’t pick your nose
As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else.
If you come across a parent, a teacher, or a neighbor working on something, ask if you can help. If they say “yes,” do so — you may learn something new.
When an adult asks you for a favor, do it without grumbling and with a smile.
Use eating utensils properly. If you are unsure how to do so, ask your parents to teach you or watch what adults do
Keep a napkin on your lap; use it to wipe your mouth when necessary.
Don’t reach for things at the table; ask to have them passed.
10-20 minutes for structured activities and about 30 minutes for unstructured

How to Stop Lying

I listened to two ladies, Jenny and Jodi, discuss lying: myths, root cause, questions to ask, and how to stop lying in its tracks.

What I loved is:

  • How they defined lying in concrete terms that my kids can understand. For example, an exaggeration is when you add untrue parts to a story. 
  • They were very specific using examples that we can relate to our own situations.
  • They were honest about their own experience with lying.
  • They break it down so you can get to the heart of your child, deal with the issue and move the child forward in a productive way.
  • Their solution seems logical but it takes time… about a year.
  • They have helped about 300 families with this problem, so they seem to have some proof that it works.

I now feel I have a method I can use to discourage lying, other than the old ‘you lied, so now you get punished’. 

I strongly recommend you read their two posts here:


How to Retain What You’ve Learned from a Homeschool Conference

You’ve just left the homeschool conference you’ve been waiting to go to for months. You feel invigorated, revived, and ready to tackle the next year. Not you? Maybe you feel overwhelmed, washed up, and consumed by information instead. Or maybe you fall somewhere in between these two places.

A successful homeschool year could be measured in different ways. 

  • Did you check off all the items on your list
  • Did you maintain a healthy and close relationship with your children
  • Did your children master a new subject
  • Show fruits of the Spirit, reach new heights in maturity or develop their ethical compass
  • Learn how to learn better, thus achieving a new level of independence
  • Show more responsibility and self-awareness
  • Make or deepen meaningful relationships

Your useful retention of the information you gathered at this year’s expo has to do with how you are able to apply the new things you learned. Here are some things I’ve learned to do after a conference.

  1. Give yourself a brain break. Do unrelated things for a period of time after the conference, but don’t let so much time pass that the information becomes hard to recall.
  2. After you’ve enjoyed a brain break, review your notes from the conference. If your notes are fragmented or unclear, call a friend, review the speaker’s blog, or even make a call or send an email to the related session’s presenter or author.
  3. View the information the same way you view food at a buffet. Measure the information against your family’s values and homeschool vision statement. Remember, you are homeschooling with the end in mind. Add the information that aligns on your plate, and scrape off what doesn’t. 
  4. Pull out your planning system from last year and assess what didn’t get done. Take an honest look at why it didn’t get done. Look at the impact your methods last year had on your family’s dynamics, plus each child’s ability to learn, interest levels and excitability, frustrations, retention, and their overall well-being. Note things you felt you could have done better, and note the unavoidable situations you handled. Ask your husband for his insight too, and see if he has any wishes for this year too. Pray. Celebrate your achievements and note what things you want to repeat or even deserve more time.
  5. Develop your learning targets for this year, adding any relevant notes from the conference. I accomplish this by compiling and cross referencing scope and sequence from some of the big brand homeschool curriculum publishers, and compare this to the state’s requirements as well.
  6. Reconsider your homeschool vision statement for this year and see if anything needs to change or evolve, all things considered.
  7. Write down specific learning goals for each subject your children are tackling. I suggest you have stretch, mid-line goals, and an unnegotiable base goal for each subject.
  8. Now, start noting items you want to add to your plan this year, based on the conference ideas that survived your review session. Items you want to try may be related to: scheduling, methodology, materials, resources, curriculum, or more. My guess is you’ll be tempted to add more to your week, as opposed to removing something old. In light of the temptation to add, weigh the new thing against the old, and realize where the sacrifice of time and energy should be made.
  9. Figure out your calendar for the upcoming year. Then figure out your monthly schedule for each topic, and your weekly schedule. Buffer in quarterly and monthly assessments. I call this time autopsies and analysis, a saving grace, and a time for you to do midstream corrections.
  10. Modify and update how you are assessing and measuring your children’s progress in a given subject, along with evaluations of yourself and any other teachers from whom your children learn, so you have a way to know if the new additions are helping or hindering the process. 

Homeschooling is like being a CEO. It’s complicated, isn’t it? You have to have vision, and know how to inspire your company to follow. You have to be sensitive to the health of your organization, and insist and nurture a particular culture within your company, despite if you’re fighting to survive during a recession or thriving and living off the fat of the hog. You have to know what your team needs to achieve a certain outcome, have a strategy to get there, and the tactics to make it easier as you travel the bumpy terrain. Welcome to (Insert last name) Co. Haha!

I strongly suggest you form friendships with other homeschool moms who can act as mentors and peers, and that you be open in sharing ideas, thoughts and opinions, and especially prayers together. Of course, do this, in light of consistent discussion with your husband as well. Don’t allow yourself to operate in a silo.

How to get the most out of a homeschool conference

I’m a very organized conference attendee. I’m a pro.

Allow me talk to you about steps you can take the get the most out of your time. Let’s face it: you don’t get the luxury of time to think and focus, plus have people speak into your life very often. If every hour cost you $150, you’d pay attention to how you spent the time, right? Right. That’s how I want you to think about your time at a conference.

First, I highly recommend you spend time writing a vision statement for each child, for each grade. Spend time reflecting on:

  • What God wants for your child this year
  • What worked really well for your child last year
  • What caused strife for your child last year
  • Repeated themes in behavior or lessons

In my vision statement for my rising 4 year old, I have:

  • purpose, including our family vision statement
  • commitments of myself, my spouse and my son
  • topics of study
  • tempo of study
  • methods of study

Use your vision statement as a way to measure how you’ll spend your time, who you’ll allow to speak into your life at the conference, and what materials in which you feel you should invest.

How to get the most out of a homeschool conference

Second, get a schedule of what’s being taught. Narrow the list down to the 1-2 sessions you want to attend each hour of the conference. I narrow my list down by the process of elimination. I choose session based on topics for which I’m curious, and by which topics I enjoy the least, and the most. I choose to go to some sessions I don’t enjoy because I  often find I don’t have a proclivity for teaching that topic, and need some alternative and creative ideas to get inspired to do a more comprehensive and better job of teaching it. I choose to go to the sessions I enjoy the most, because I’m more than likely pretty good at teaching that subject, and have a chance at becoming the better with ease. This makes me a better contributor for my co-ops and homeschool groups, and just as importantly, better for my children. If I am not gaining growth during one session, I leave quietly, and go to my second choice for that hour.

Third, I look at who is speaking before choosing my sessions. Sometimes the speaker alone is enough to make me attend, or avoid a session. If I know someone is firmly rooted in ‘the Word’, I’ll often go, because often, they have ‘life truths’ I need to hear. By the way, if you find that a speaker doesn’t talk your language during one session, don’t go back to another session they are teaching because more than likely, they still won’t be playing your music. In other words, you will make better use of your money attending the session of a speaker you love, even if they’re talking about a topic that may not be something you think you needed.

Forth, if sessions are really just advertisements for curriculum or books, it may make sense to just download a sample of the book, or a sample lesson plan from a curriculum, versus investing a whole hour to sit and listen to their sales pitch. You can also go by their booth in the exhibit hall instead, and talk to their rep directly, from whom you’ll often receive much more targeted answers, and even short product demonstrations.

Fifth, search online for customer reviews. Often, these reviews will tell you more about the practical use of a curriculum than you can simply envision on your own. Talk to other homeschooling friends, especially with moms who are nearing the end of homeschooling many children well, or who have turned out in a way that you would want your children to turn out.

Sixth, write down what booths you want to visit before you go. Looking at the glossy marketing websites often isn’t enough to really gain a sense of what’s included in curriculum. I write down whose booths I want to see when I need to get my hands on materials, thumb through, and compare ‘apples to apples’.

Seventh, you may want to write a reminder for yourself of what you definitely don’t want to purchase, because you may have material at home with which you can make better use than you did last year.

Eighth, when you’re at the conference, compare prices for books and resources to the prices listed online. Sometimes you will decide you love an item, but you want to find it second hand. You might even prefer a different format, as in an electronic book (ebook), or mp3 (audio file). Try to estimate a monetary value for an item before purchasing. I always try to think about what I have at home, what can be created DIY, and what can be purchased or downloaded for free before buying at a conference. Also, some items simply aren’t easily purchased outside of the conference – this is usually the case when the vendor is new or just decides to keep thing low budget and ‘off line’.

Ninth, try to avoid having to bring you children if possible. The exception to this rule is if you have a nursing baby, or can’t arrange safe childcare. Be honest. You love your kids. But they make it hard to pay attention and focus sometimes. If you have to bring your children, bring snacks and drinks for them, plus quiet activities for them to do. Be realistic about their ability to sit quietly for so long. Give them brain breaks to go out somewhere an run, play, vocalize, and be children for crying out loud.

Tenth, refuel. Make sure your body is well-fed, well-rested, and well-energized. It takes a lot of work to sit and focus for 8 hours or longer. Bring snacks. Bring coffee if you need it. Bring water. Use the restroom so you’re not distracted by your bladder during sessions. Brush your teeth. Splash water on your face if you need to wake up.

If you’ve done these things, when you get to the homeschool conference, you will know where you’re headed during each hour and you can share this with your friends and spouse – why not buffer in some time to socialize while you’re there? You can navigate the busy halls of the exhibitors without distractions and make the best use of your money. I encourage you to purchase items second hand if you can. Some items are just easier to afford second hand, and there’s not any downside to it. Most importantly, you’ll be homeschooling with the end in mind. Homeschooling with the end in mind is good practice. You’re homeschooling to get past the static phases of memorization and into developing the deep wells of logic, reasoning, knowledge, judgment and wisdom in your children.

Oh, and while you’re in your sessions, Take Notes! Don’t forget what was being taught that day. There’s too much information to absorb and remember. Take notes for yourself.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8).