It was time for me to fetch my daughter for her English work – because we all know how important English is, right?!
I found her sitting in her favorite chair in the sunshine making a list of all the books of the Bible. And, not only was she going to list all of the the books of the Bible, but she was planning to add up all of the chapters in all of the books of the Bible.
So, at this moment, I could:
1) pull her away, inform her that someone else has already done this, tell her I'll find her the list (with all of the chapter counts) later, and press on with English.
2) I could embrace my role as a homeschooling mom, encourage her eagerness to explore, relish the freedom to bend our schedule, and allow her to finish her quest of discovery!
Which do you think I chose?
You'll know the answer when you view Exhibit A, the photo in this blog graphic, which I snapped of my daughter immediately after I made this decision.
This photo illustrates just one of the many benefits of home education, and it makes my homeschooling mother's heart glad when I look at it.
And, by the way, we won't "skip" that English lesson, we'll just get to it tomorrow – because, today, we're enjoying a learning excursion!
Jennifer Ciha is an Iowa home educated graduate who is currently homeschooling her two children. She shares practical advice and inspiring images to encourage families to learn and explore across Iowa on her blog fieldtripiowa.com.
February 6, 2017
Earlier this week, I enjoyed the incredible blessing of spending time with my 4-month-old granddaughter, including the precious moments while she fell asleep in my arms.
I can’t even begin to comprehend harm ever coming to her – or fathom someone purposely hurting her in any way.
“But Jesus called them to him, saying, Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:16
The recent tragic death of West Des Moines teenager Natalie Finn and the reported abuse of Malayia Knapp from Urbandale both serve as heart-rending reminders that each of us has a responsibility to look out for vulnerable children in our communities..
However, one of our state senators is trying to use these two youths and their heartbreaking cases as "examples of homeschooling gone wrong," suggesting that ALL home educating parents should be uniformly suspected as abusers and, therefore, their children should be subjected to individual investigation.
The senator recently introduced a bill that would require school districts to conduct quarterly "health and safety visits for the protection of children placed under competent private instruction or private instruction.” Please see our Legislative Updates page for more information.
The Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators is opposed to this bill, based upon reasoned principles and documented research. Please see our response and recommendations.
We, at NICHE, believe that parents have the God-given mandate and responsibility to oversee the discipleship and education of their children
“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:7
During this, our 25th anniversary year for NICHE, I encourage each of you to recognize the dedication and efforts that homeschooling pioneers in our state devoted to gain the legal recognition of our constitutionally protected rights and freedoms to home educate in our state. Further, I urge you to commit to do what it takes to maintain those freedoms – for our children, and for our children's children.
In His service,
Tom Krueger NICHE President
January 16, 2017
I reacted with surprise when I saw the name appear on my phone as I reached to answer it.
The call was from a homeschooling friend – one who had started homeschooling when I had, back in the 1980's. I hadn't seen her or talked to her in years.
She sounded just the same as she cheerfully chirped, "How'd you like to join me for Mom's Morning Out?"
Ah, Mom's Morning Out!
In those early years, when home education was so new, and when communication tools like email, texting, and Facebook messaging were totally unknown, Mom's Morning Out was a scheduled event, often once a month, for our homeschooling moms' support group to gather for fellowship and encouragement.
"Mom's Morning Out? Tomorrow morning at 10:00am? Sounds great!" I replied.
When I walked in the tiny local cafe, I spotted my friend sitting at a table in the back of the room. As I walked toward her, I passed a group of about eight young women sitting around two pushed-together tables, enjoying their breakfasts, coffee, and conversation.
I thought to myself, "Well, the next generation can enjoy 'Mom's Morning Out' too!"
The Divine Appointment
My friend and I hugged, exchanging pleasantries, and just as we had taken our seats, another member of our old group of local homeschooling pioneer moms walked in to join us. More hugs ensued.
We draped our coats over our chairs and walked together up to the counter to place our orders.
At that moment, one of the young moms in the group of eight turned and said, "Are you Julie?"
When I replied that I was indeed "Julie," she introduced herself as the contact person for the current local homeschool support group!
Immediate introductions were made all around, and we had a delightful time chatting. My friends and I shared how we were having a "Mom's Morning Out" reunion, and the young moms shared how they were holding one of their twice-per-semester planning meetings.
Even now, as I think back on that pleasant experience, I am awed by how God brought together two generations of local homeschooling moms – on the same day – in the same little cafe – the seasoned veterans, through a spontaneous invitation on the night before – and the youthful successors, by scheduled appointment on that particular day only.
And, this is not an isolated incident!
God is at work, always and everywhere, designing his divine appointments.
They may not always be as obvious as this one, but they happen continually.
Ask God to open your spiritual eyes to see them – and to give Him the glory!
January 2, 2017
As I prepare to resume our homeschooling life adventures after Christmas break, I'm reminded of the thoughts that ran through my mind almost 30 years ago when I first considered home education for our oldest child.
Taking the Step Without Certainty
Homeschooling was unusual back then. Homeschooling was an unknown back then.
In fact, homeschooling was essentially illegal back then.
What was I signing up for? Where would it lead? What would it mean for my child?
Taking the Step Without Perfection
I remember feeling very unqualified. I remember feeling unprepared.
In fact, I remember feeling woefully inadequate for what appeared to be a monumental task before me.
Didn't I need more patience? Shouldn't I have more plans in place? Wouldn't all of my flaws and weaknesses result in failure?
Taking the Step Without All the Answers
As I began this homeschooling journey almost three decades ago, I started out with many questions unanswered.
And, on each new day, through each new struggle, in each new challenge, with each additional child, homeschooling required taking another step...
Taking the Step of Faith Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
You don't need certainty. You don't need perfection. You don't need all the answers.
You only need to take the step of faith in our awesome God who supplies all the rest.
December 19, 2016
It's very likely that the hustle and bustle surrounding the Christmas season has affected your household as well – and, like many homeschoolers, you are taking a long anticipated Christmas break.
Yet, you're still, after all, a homeschooling mom – and, as such, your mind tends to wander to the ever-expanding list of things that you could be doing during Christmas break instead of... um... actually taking a break.
This Christmas season, just say "No!" to these 3 homeschooling mom tendencies:
1. Striving to Win the Spectacular Holiday Mom Contest
All of the other homeschooling moms are making advent calendars, creating stunning holiday crafts, baking yummy Christmas goodies, and more, right? You see it posted on Pinterest and Facebook.
Well, you could kick into gear and pour all your time and energy into trying to keep up, or you could kick the guilt and enjoy your family while being who you are instead of comparing yourself to a friend or a social media ideal.
2. Attempting a Major Homeschool Makeover
Perhaps this works for some homeschooling moms, but designing an updated homeschool schedule or researching new homeschool curricula just doesn't seem appropriate during the Christmas break.
We encourage you to focus on the reason for the season instead. Concentrate on our Savior's birth and celebrate it in meaningful ways with your family.
You'll be surprised how God will bring forth blessings when you focus on Him. You might even find that, as a result of dedicating time to the Lord, your schedule will improve and the curricula you thought you needed to replace will start working for you.
3. Endeavoring to Complete a Homeschool Catch-Up Plan
We know. You're just feeling like you've fallen a bit behind where you'd like to have been at this time of year. It seems wrong to take off some time for Christmas break when you could be forging ahead with schoolwork. The kids really don't deserve a week or two of time off when they haven't made it to Point A in the curriculum, right?
Resist this one, please. It almost always ends badly.
It's time to remember that homeschooling is so much more than bookwork. And, the Christmas season is the perfect time to concentrate your homeschooling efforts on discipling and building family relationships.
This Christmas break, avoid these homeschooling mom tendencies, and focus instead upon Christ, the reason for the season.
Christmas blessings to you and your family!
December 5, 2016
It's been just over two years since the State of Iowa officially opened parent-taught driver education as a means of preparation for homeschooled students to obtain an intermediate driver's license.
We know that numerous homeschooled students have successfully completed the process and obtained their licenses.
Prescribed Procedures or Over-reaching Oversight?
After the parent-taught driver education law passed in 2013, the Iowa Department of Transporation (DOT) promulgated implementing administrative rules that were adopted in late 2014.
Although the law did not mention an "approval" process for parents who want to teach their children to drive, the DOT instituted this procedure.
Their cited reason was to avoid the possibility of parents devoting time and effort into monitoring student driving and overseeing the completion of curricula only to discover that they did not meet the qualifications (e.g. clean driving record, etc.) required to be a parent-taught driver education instructor.
The DOT also developed a student driving log, which it has modified a number of times over the past two years. Further, communications from the DOT staff on required procedures and processes have not been uniform during this period.
What's Your Story?
NICHE is reviewing parent-taught driver education to determine if there are concerns that need to be addressed with the DOT.
If you have completed the parent-taught driver education process – or if you're in the process – we'd love to hear from you. Send your briefly described experiences and succinctly stated concerns to us at email@example.com. Please include your contact information so we can communicate with you, if needed.
If you'd like more information about parent-taught driver education, you'll find it here.
November 21, 2016
In our busy homeschool lives, we sometimes spend too much time complaining about the things we do not like or do not have. Today, and every day, we need to take time to be thankful for the blessings we do have. Dedicate a few moments to pray your way through this list of 8 things for which you can be thankful:
1. Be thankful for family.
God used your parents or guardians, and perhaps siblings and extended family members, to shape your life. Now, He has graced you with a family of your own. Give Him thanks for the blessing of family!
2. Be thankful for friends.
Whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, you likely have at least one dear friend. (Keep in mind that we all have the Friend who knows us better than any other.) True friends encourage us, motivate us, and urge us walk in a manner worthy of our calling. Take time to thank your friends for the ways God has used them to touch your life. Show your gratitude by also being a great friend to others.
3. Be thankful for home.
Large or small, stylish or spartan, messy or neat, your home is a blessing from the Lord. It offers a place of safety and shelter – a haven in which to gather your family. Give gratitude to God for your home!
4. Be thankful for laughter.
Laughter is a gift from God which can bring great joy. Be thankful for the laughter of your children, your spouse, your friends – and join in to receive the blessing that the Lord designed into this gift.
5. Be thankful for homeschooling.
Even when it is challenging or frustrating, homeschooling is an incredible blessing. Consider how God uses the discipleship tools intrinsic to home education to shape both your children and you! Give thanks to the Lord for homeschooling!
6. Be thankful for freedom.
Bear in mind the many freedoms you enjoy that others do not have. Consider the price that those who came before you paid for those freedoms. Be grateful for those sacrifices, and allow the Lord to use you in any way He desires to protect and preserve those freedoms.
7. Be thankful for life.
Stop and think about the wonder of the breath you just took. The Author of life gives you that breath. He created your body – every amazing detail and inner working. Turn away from the temptation to focus on various physical failings and determine instead to be thankful for the tremendous gift of life and breath!
8. Be thankful for your Savior.
Our list culminates with the awe-inspiring blessing of our Savior, Jesus Christ. How amazing that our omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God would love us to such a degree, even when we were lost in sin, that He would send His Son to rescue and restore us to Him! Give Him thanks and praise!