Summer Reading Goals

Hi Friends,

Let me first introduce myself!

My name is Loretta Lambert and I homeschooled my four children for twenty -three years. I began when I was pregnant with our third child and I can honestly say that the day I began back in September 1993, I had absolutely no idea how much it would change my life as well as my husband’s and our four children. It is always difficult for me to be brief but hopefully, over the next few months, I can share more of my homeschooling journey with you. I think it is important to say up front that by the grace of God my four children walk with the Lord Jesus Christ and wound up receiving many college scholarships from reputable universities in the United States. Why include the part about the college scholarships, you might ask? Well, it’s because I believe it was my goal as their teacher to help them along the way to discover what they were gifted to do.

Since I have only so much space each month, let me share about our eldest son. We learned early on that he was going to be a very late reader. In fact, he did not read well until the age of eleven years old. Did that worry me? Absolutely. Did I cry a lot that he didn’t fit the mold for those early years? Absolutely. But his story didn’t end in elementary school. It had only just begun. It caused me to do a great deal of research on how I could pass on a love for learning to my very late reader and what I learned was so incredible I found myself crying over something new. A 1985 report by the National Commission on Reading stated that reading aloud is the single most important contribution that parents can make toward their child’s success in school. When I came across this research I started to cry. I began to gather the information that would shape my philosophy of education forever. I decided that unless an earthquake hit our home, we would read aloud every day and it wound up coming close to four hours a day in the elementary school years. We couldn’t stop!

Let me race to the end of our son’s story. When he was fifteen years old he began to dream of attending the United States Military Academy at West Point. He knew it would be an uphill battle! He needed a nomination from Congressman Darrell Issa and then an appointment from the United States President. I believe that the stories we read to him in the earlier years kept him going when the dream looked pretty shaky on all accounts. Well, he received his appointment to West Point on a sunny, very happy day in April 2007 and graduated and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army in May 2011. Presently, he is about to be promoted from Captain to Major. Today you will find him jumping out of airplanes with his men as an Airborne Army Ranger either in Afghanistan or Ft. Benning, Georgia in the 75th Ranger Regiment. I say all of this to let you know that when he was in the sixth grade and seventh grade he was still struggling to read and many tears were shed. Our family took it very seriously and I began to stay up nights searching for books to read aloud to him and my three daughters. I also rented books on tape that he would listen to for close to fifteen hours a week. He knew he was waiting for the day he could read on his own and it was a heavy trial for him. After he was embarrassed in a Sunday School class in the fourth grade when the teacher asked him to read, he begged me to never have that happen again.

Let me close with a final story that I smile about every time God calls it to mind. It would be thirteen years before he would read aloud in front of any person besides our family. Two days before he graduated from West Point the Chaplain’s office asked him to read aloud Joshua 1:1-9 at the Convocation Service that evening. My mouth just dropped open and I began to run to the Chapel on campus. He ran after me and asked me where I was going. I said, “Joseph, I have been waiting to hear you read aloud for thirteen years and I am going to sneak into the chapel and just sit there and wait.” He laughed and let me go. I sat there for almost three hours, just waiting and praying for our son. That night in front of a thousand people in Cadet Chapel at West Point with three Generals in the front row staring right at him, he did it! He read aloud perfectly. Of course, tears ran down my cheeks like a faucet since I kept calling to mind the many times he had been made fun of. After the service, I saw people walk up to him and thank him for his reading that night. As I headed to bed I couldn’t stop thanking God for giving me this great blessing. I knew that in those tough elementary school years where the academic checklists could not be met, I knew that we would not give up. I knew that no matter what the outcome I would grab onto the research (and there is a great deal of it!) and keep reading aloud to capture my children’s hearts. My original goal for homeschooling was to pass on a love for learning to my children. Step by step, year after year, I gathered information that made it very thrilling to educate my children at home all the way till they graduated high school. I sure hope and pray in some way this story motivates you as the parent to keep on going and keep on reading aloud!

In his seventh edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook, author Jim Trelease passes the baton onto those who strongly desire to “advertise well” the unique and life-changing results of the tradition of reading aloud. There are many of us who can testify about the results of reading aloud.

Coupled with the educational research that is so stunning are the bridges that are built between the reader and the listeners. The growing relationship of the ‘shared story’ with each book read aloud is immeasurable.

Stop and think back to a book or even a quote from a book that captured your own imagination and caused you to dream a new dream, to think a new thought, and, ultimately, to change your life in some new way.

My deep desire is to carry this baton and pass it onto many others—to begin a new long race, not a sprint of sorts.  As a competitive runner both in high school as well as in college, I learned that the longer races are where you need to be taught how to pace yourself, how to take breaks in between hard workouts, how to get out of bed and run even when you felt neither physically ready or mentally ready. That is the kind of baton I hope and pray to pass on.

Any of you who begin to read aloud may feel uncomfortable.  You will want to quit very quickly.  How can this simple act of sitting on a couch reading aloud a book change a life?  It doesn’t cover enough material.  What about all the other subjects in school that go unaddressed while you just merely sit and read aloud to your child?

By the grace of God, my passion is to use this page to motivate, inspire and give you hope to keep on keeping on.

By Loretta Lambert

Sweet Memories

Since my son, George, graduated high school last year, I could finally clear out all the homeschool papers, books, and records that I have held on to for 13 years.  But, rather than just throwing them all away in one big heap, I decided to go through them to reminisce about our homeschooling days.  I’m very glad I kept those samples of school work and that I decided to look through them before throwing them away.  By looking back, I could see the big picture (or bigger picture because I don’t know that I can fully see the complete picture just yet) for our homeschooling journey.

George had so many learning disabilities that I felt overwhelmed and helpless many times.  Thoughts like, “he will always be behind” plagued my mind.  Those are the exact types of thoughts we as homeschooling moms have to guard against.  They are lies from the enemy.  In Jeremiah 29:11, God declares, “For I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”   God has a plan for you, your homeschooling journey, and for your children.  Psalms 33:4 says, “For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does.”  Whatever plan He has, He will be faithful to fulfill it.  We just have to be obedient.

In going through George’s work (I’ve only gone through K- 2nd grade), I could see where he used to be and how far he has come.  And, he has come a long long way!  Since he had trouble with his vision and reading, teaching him writing seemed a moot point.  But, not wanting to neglect the writing process in his education, I taught him the basics of how to put together a paper.  In his early grade school years, I would give him a writing prompt and we would talk it out.  Using the web writing organization method to arrange his topics, he talked and I wrote down his words for him.  This allowed him to learn to brainstorm and organize his writing, while letting his creativity shine through.  One of the papers he had to write was on what he thought heaven would be like.  Here are just a few lines from his paper:  “It’s like a square jewel.”   “It’s like a huge castle.”   “I’m talking big!  Huger than a human!”. The rest of his paper is filled with the sweet imaginings of a six year old.  After reading through some of his work, I don’t know that I will be getting rid of all of it.  I will probably end up hanging on to some of them, storing them away, and pulling them out again several years down the road to reminisce again.  He can write his own papers now, by the way.  He is in college and doing just fine, my fears having never come to fruition.  I’m so thankful that I have all these wonderful samplings to look back on all those homeschool days!

by Jennifer Barankovich

The Beauty of the Homeschooling Journey and Avoiding the Comparison Trap

 

 

I have spent a lot of time over the past year thinking about the “comparison trap” and how easy it is to fall into that mindset. Everyone at some point in their life has experienced this.  Some have been able to learn how to easily sidestep these little land mines as they have ventured on their journey through life. The comparison trap really got a hold of me when I was a mom of young kiddos and I thought I was the only one who struggled with all of the new realities of motherhood.  Feeling so unprepared, I always questioned if I could really raise kids who were self-sufficient and that would contribute to society. I would always compare my mothering skills with those around me or even what I’d see on social media.  I’d always feel like I was falling short and doing a disservice to my family because there were things I wasn’t doing or couldn’t do that other moms were able to. It took a while to get my bearings and to feel like it was all going to be okay and I was not going to permanently mess up our boys. That was a difficult valley to walk through, but I learned so much through those young years and I used those experiences as opportunities to work on myself.   I was always sure to pray and ask God to help me be the best mom I can be!  I knew that God didn’t make a mistake with entrusting Jonathan and Jacob to us, so I learned to be more kind to myself and give myself a lot more grace.

 

The most important thing I learned is that my journey was always going to different and would never be the same as another mom’s journey, so why would I spend precious time and energy comparing myself with others?

 

Hoping I was past the worst of these comparison traps, I started our homeschooling journey. To be completely honest, it has been difficult to maneuver through all the additional land mines that have come with this new journey. I have felt myself getting pulled into comparing so many different things. From the curriculum we use, to the way I structure our school days, to what my children are learning and retaining, to what fun experiments we do and how often.  Sometimes I feel like we need to do more field trips, or I’m not sure if I’m including enough of the Bible into the curriculum…the list could go on and on. Basically, I have felt like I fall short in this home school journey as well.  Sometimes I even wonder if we made the right decision and if I am as equipped as I need to be to be able to do this and feel like I can do it successfully. These comparison traps can be so exhausting, and I feel like I can so easily get caught in a vicious cycle.  Then adding the extra layer of a having a child that is Autistic, I can easily fall into the trap that feels more like a pit and it becomes much more difficult to pull myself out.

 

I have learned that being as transparent as possible can help others feel like they are not alone with some of the same struggles, in addition to also helping me to recognize my human fragility and how much I need God in every single aspect of my life. When I catch myself slipping, I remember who I am in Christ Jesus and how God has never ever let me down or disappointed me before and that He is not going to start now. God is our constant and wants us to depend on Him, to seek Him, and to ask for His help.

 

If your child is in second grade and still struggling with letter recognition, that is okay. If your child it not at their so-called  grade level in math, that is okay. If your child is in 4th grade and is not able to read yet, that is okay. If you are halfway through the school year, or even towards the end, and realize that the curriculum you are using is no longer a good fit for you and your child, it is okay to give yourself permission to switch and find one that is a better fit. So many parents have placed constraints on their family’s homeschooling journey that create limits and a boxed in type of mentality. Society tells us what our child needs to know at what age. I have found that it has been difficult to remove this kind of mentality and to see our homeschooling journey as more of a canvas that we are free to paint on with our children, and to create the most beautiful painting!

 

Our journey is not going to be like anyone else’s journey and there is nothing wrong with that. When we give ourselves grace and extend that grace to our children, when we look to God for His guidance in what will work the best for our family, and when we remove the walls that have been placed around our children by society, then we are free to experience our homeschooling journey the way it was meant to be. We have been given the gift of more time with our children and to be the ones that teach them and get to see them grow – the way that God designed it.  Let’s take advantage of this wonderful opportunity the Lord has given us!

 

With Love,

Sarah Talbot

The Token System

When I first started homeschooling last year, it became clear that I was going to have to be very creative in coming up with different ways to help motivate our boys, Jonathan and Jacob, to want to do their schoolwork each day. I learned about the ‘Token System’ from a friend and thought it would be a fun incentive for them to work towards every day.

Read More

My Upstream Learner

This year we embarked on our second year of homeschooling, and I am slowly feeling more confident and settled in with this new way of life. This was a tough decision for my husband, Jason, and me, and was definitely something we did not take lightly.

Read More