Feature Article – Be It Resolved by Marlin Detweiler
Educational Helps – by Lora Thompson
Be It Resolved
New Year's Day. A new beginning. I expect that if a study were conducted on the most frequent resolutions made at the beginning of the New Year, the top of the list would be a renewed commitment to diet and exercise. And it makes sense, too. If I were to weigh the Christmas delights received at the office from our vendors alone, it would exceed the body weight of my wife and me combined! OK, maybe I exaggerate a little—but not much.
Other frequently occurring resolutions would no doubt include commitments to read the Bible through in a year, accomplish certain educational goals in our schooling efforts or—well, you get the picture.
The problem is with our success rate. I suppose if we did a study on the success rate of these resolutions, it would be somewhere between the probably of Ross Perot getting elected president next go-round and the Phillies winning the World Series this year. The odds of success are, in a word, deplorable.
We all know all the failures from the past, yet we continue making the same commitments and getting the same results. And we are not surprised. In fact we kind of expect to fail. Not that we set out to fail, but that we all make these resolutions in a way that past experience tells us we are not likely to succeed.
It seems that resolutions that are accompanied by an irrevocable decision tend to succeed most. For instance, when you committed to homeschool or to send your children to a Christian school, you made a decision that set a new and necessary path. Or, when you sign a contract to sell your house, you are moving, no doubt about it. Unfortunately, a commitment to lose those extra pounds or do a better job at something doesn’t have the same irrevocable quality about it.
This leaves us with a couple options. We can continue to do things the same way and hope for different results. I hope you can see that such an approach would put us in the category of the fool. Or we can resolve to do only those things that we can make irrevocable. Like in my case, I could move to some place where there is no chocolate. Hmm? Where would that be?
We have a very real problem. And it stems from the fact that we are not inclined to take our vows as seriously as we aught. The Christian community is filled with people who join a church, taking the necessary vows, and yet they are willing to forget those vows at the first sign of trouble. Or how many times have we said we would call, pray for or get together with someone and not done it? Not keeping our word really is a big problem.
Shouldn’t it be different than this? Wouldn’t life be better if it were? To both questions I hope you’ll join me in saying absolutely!
But what can we do to increase the likelihood of success as we make our annual resolutions? It seems there are several things that will greatly increase our success rate. First, we can ask others to hold us accountable. Even the most disciplined people I know have accountability structures. Professional athletes have coaches, trainers, fans, etc. Spouses have each other, and children have parents. Families have the whole body of Christ. Scripture teaches: “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). God has designed us to be helped by, and even dependant on, others. There are probably fewer instances when this is true than when we seek to modify our behavior from our status quo.
Another (and related) means to greater success with our resolutions is to have a biblical sense of the importance of keeping our vows. Ecclesiastes 5 makes it quite clear that vows of any sort aught not be done hastily. In fact, we are better off not vowing than vowing and then breaking the vow. We should not take this to mean never make vows. But we should realize that vows should never be taken lightly.
So, we wish you well for the New Year. Make those resolutions and succeed with them. I plan to. I need to lose 35 pounds. Feel free to ask me how I’m doing.
Now that the fun and excitement of celebrating Christmas is over, in our house it is time to jump back into school with both feet and hit the ground running for the second half of the year.
We find January to be a good time to reflect back over the first half of the school year and look for any areas that may need adjustment or improvement. The start of the New Year can be a fresh start again, like the beginning of the year. We use this month to buckle down and put in the hours while it is cold and the daylight short. We always seek to maximize the time and effort we put forth in January and February to benefit from the better weather when we get to April and May. When adding a family trip or two in these months to break up the long days and weeks, we plan ahead and double up on our work (using the week before and/or after) to complete a full day’s work so we are able to take the whole day off and still stay on track. We do this for any days my husband has off (like Martin Luther King Day). The key is to plan ahead and complete the work. We also count an extra day in that week if we have completed all the work and spend a full day on an educational trip.
This is also a point to begin any new curriculum you may have purchased but haven’t incorporated yet—new spelling, literature guides, writing program, etc. Now is the time to begin these new things. At some point this month we should all be hitting the halfway point in our school year.
Take the time to look ahead now—count the days and lessons (if you haven’t planned the whole year). Check to see where you are in each subject area. Especially note the number of math lessons. January is a better time to double up on lessons if necessary to get back on track. You do not want to get to May and have fifty lessons left in any subject area.
If you are like us, the little details tend to get lost in the shuffle, especially as the anticipation of the holiday season was upon us. Now is the time to tighten back up or stiffen up your standards on things like handwriting, spelling, grammar and punctuation. These are areas we tend to let slide when we get busy. Here you should involve your children in planning, ask for their input, but of course you make the final decisions. You may find it helpful to post these reminders on their desks or in your school area.
It is also a good time to begin requiring all cursive handwriting for your children in transition, if you haven’t done that already. Require better self-editing skills and the final drafts of their writing; don’t accept rough copies of their work. It is important to instill these good work habits now and push them toward more independent efforts and ownership of their work. As we progress through the year, a main goal of focus in raising and educating godly children is to work toward this end.
Dig out previous Bible and history songs from the last couple of years to add to your review and memory work. At our home, we use the songs as a transition after lunch. The older children are responsible to put the CD’s in and keep it moving. It allows me to finish cleaning up lunch and gives our children a chance to unwind from the morning before concluding the rest of the days’ work. We include the younger children here—our two-year-old requests to do” her songs” before taking a nap.
You can also incorporate a fun exercise video or a brisk walk during the day to help with your New Year’s resolutions for diet and exercise and break up the long winter days.
Take a look at your schedule and find weak spots. Look for areas where you may be inconsistent. What are you leaving to the end of the day? What is not consistently getting completed? It may be time to do that subject first for a while to ensure that area is getting better or more appropriate attention.
As you are cleaning up from Christmas and putting away new things, organize your school area and take inventory of supplies. Look ahead at materials needed for projects and plan ahead and purchase so you are prepared if the weather gets bad.
Use the long winter afternoons to tackle literature guides and the longer Bible and history projects you have put aside. These are great areas to get Dad involved.
Most of all, enjoy this God-given opportunity to teach your children; it is such a blessing. Enjoy the rest of your school year. It really does go fast. Praise God for his goodness and faithfulness as we strive to make a difference in the lives of our children and culture.
Homeschool mother of Taylor (11), Evan (9), Bailey (7), Eli (5) and Ciana (2)
Free talk by George Grant
The folks at WordMP3.com have graciously made available a free talk by Dr. George Grant. Click the link www.wordmp3.com/veritas.asp and the lecture is there waiting for you.
Q. How can a father best be involved in the educational process?
A. We must first recognize that fathers carry the weight of responsibility for the education of the children (Deuteronomy 6:1-9 and Ephesians 6:1-7). We must also recognize that fathers are commonly the primary wage-earner for the family. This can make for a busy man. However, planning field trips on Dad’s days off, including Saturdays, is a wonderful way to get involved. A routine individual interaction with each child about their learning for the day is also a very important and very meaningful means of involvement. Some will even have time and enjoy teaching specific disciplines, too.
Q. How can I best evaluate where I am at this mid-year junction?
A. Hopefully, at the beginning of the year you developed a school-year lesson plan to help keep you on track for this school year. It is so important to do this to allow you to know how much work you need to get done in any given week. If you did this you should now look at each discipline and see where you are in conjunction with the year calendar. If you are ahead in a given area, hooray!—this will allow you to have extra time in those areas where you are behind. In these areas you should take your yearly calendar and re-plan for the days that you have left in the school year. Also, this is a great time to take stock of those things that you were planning to memorize in grammar school. Make a list of the chants you wanted to memorize and see how many you can check off the list. Remember that even if they know it now, you should continue to review. The best thing to remember is you cannot keep putting off things for the next year, or one day you wake up and your child is twelve years old and still does not know his multiplication tables. Evaluating where you are is the best tool to staying on track.
Please submit any questions you'd like answered here to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Veritas Academy Open House
Veritas Academy has three open houses planned in the near year—Jan. 17 at 7:00 PM, Feb. 23 at 7:00 PM and Apr. 4 at 9:00 AM. Each open house provides parents who are interested in considering sending children to the school an opportunity to see the school in great depth. Numerous families have relocated to the area to be part of Veritas Academy and the Christian community here.
Parish Life A Conference on Thomas Chalmers
Noted lecturer, George Grant will speak at this conference on February 24-25, 2006 at Christ Community Church, Franklin, Tenn. Dr. Grant leads this weekend conference about the life and influence of the great Scottish pastor, educator, theologian, social reformer, economist and intellectual. Chalmers provides an inspiration for all who yearn to see how the Church should operate in culture by caring for the poor and the community, supporting families in education, leading in the arts and sciences, and providing for the structure of relationships in a true Parish Life. For more information, contact King’s Meadow Study Center at email@example.com or visit www.kingsmeadow.com.
If you prefer not to receive the newsletter, simply click here to let us know.