Pour a cup of tea and take in the encouragement!

The Importance of Family Communication

by Brandi Schunk


I am going through a big season of change right now, adding on work both in the home and outside of the home.  As I was poring over my schedule and calendar, trying to figure out how to carve out an extra thirty two hours a week, it occurred to me: this was going to take a lot of teamwork, and it was time to bring my family into the conversation.


As mothers in this current time, I think we have a tendency to feel that we should be able to do it all. And indeed, a lot of responsibility tends to fall on us, especially as homeschooling moms; even more so if we have a job, too.  I understand how easy it is to feel that we are failures if we aren’t getting it all done while still looking bright and beautiful for our husbands at the end of their work day.  (June Cleaver, anyone)?  I felt a burden to do everything for everyone and to do it perfectly.  What I’ve found is that that vision is pretty much unattainable on my own and leads to burnout and resentment.  Like the Proverbs 31 woman, what I need is a team.


It’s a good thing God gave us a built-in team: our family.


You see, in order to achieve big goals, it takes everyone working together, along with communication. When expectations are set and everyone has a role to play, when the vision is shared and everyone sees how they benefit, when there is a light at the end of the tunnel, a reason for sacrifice, suddenly it is easier for everyone to get on board.


 So I called a family meeting.

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Make Volunteering a Part of Your Homeschool

by Michelle Collomy

Want to make volunteer work a part of your homeschool experience? You can get started anytime! 


Caring for others is a part of the human experience. It is also foundational to the Christian faith as we love God and love others.


We are a family of 14. There were many years when service outside of our home was very limited. However, because it is a part of who we are, we did what we could. During the really busy season of having a young family, we served in our church. We cooked meals, worked in the nursery, taught parenting classes, and such. These were things that we could do together as a family. We also picked up items for the town Thanksgiving baskets and dropped them off at the Town Hall. This was a simple task but showed the children that there are people with needs and we can help.


As some of the children became older, they began getting more involved in our neighborhood and small town. There have always been elderly neighbors around us, who we have checked in on. Sometimes they just need to see a friendly face, other times they need their path shoveled or some firewood brought in. They always love it when you bring them a piece of cake or a small meal. 


Three of our sons and my husband serve on the town's volunteer fire department. Many towns no longer have volunteer departments, but you can always serve your firemen in other ways. Maybe drop off some cookies? When our oldest son was a senior, he was serving as a jr. firefighter. The department had funds for training available and they offered it to my son to take the Firefighter 1 and 2 courses. These are college credit courses. We were able to use these as high school credits while, at the same time, getting him training for his future.


There are organizations all around you that need people to clean their buildings, help set up and tear down for events, shovel snow, rake leaves, etc. Where is your area of interest? Our family has done volunteer work with the library, the community club, the historical society, the town office, the church, the fire department, Homeschoolers of Maine, giving respite for foster families and volunteering for many Christian organizations.

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Welcoming the New Homeschoolers in Our Community

By Michael Farris

We didn’t know how homeschooling would work at all or for our family. So we thought we would try it for a year or two.


It wasn’t long before we became absolutely committed. We tried a variety of curriculum—although at first there were only a few choices.


We homeschooled our ten children for 33 years. And for virtually all of that time I helped to lead the organization I founded, Home School Legal Defense Association.


It is rare that I choose to speak a word of admonishment to the homeschooling movement, but I feel compelled to do so now.


America, indeed the world, is at a unique moment in history. More than ever before, a significant portion of the population is considering alternatives to public schools. More people are considering homeschooling right now than at any other time in our lives.


And yet I hear critical, unwelcoming messages coming from some in the homeschooling movement. It’s a minority voice. But it is persistent enough that it must be addressed head-on. I have seen it in the last week in comments on my own FB page.


“These aren’t real homeschoolers. They’re crisis schoolers. And that’s not the same.”


“I just hope they have the right motivation to homeschool. But I doubt it.”


“They will just try to do school at home and that’s not the same as homeschooling.”


All such statements are ill-advised at best and are often marked by spiritual arrogance. Let me say this clearly. There is no one correct way to homeschool. There is not a singular correct motivation to homeschool.

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The Power of Podcasts

By Brandi Schunk


We all have those days where we could use a little encouragement, a course correction, or a pat on the back. Podcasts can be a great way to do just that!


I used to think I didn’t have time to listen to podcasts. I longed for time to myself to sit back with my notebook and take in all the wisdom and guidance from those who have been there, done that. I longed to fill my own cup, as it seemed to be spilling out all over the place. And then one day someone asked me, “Can’t you just put on earphones and listen while you do chores?” Brilliant.


Now, don’t get me wrong, I resisted at first. I had a list of reasons and excuses why listening as I worked would never work for me. “I don’t use wireless ear buds and the cord will get in the way.” “I need to be able to hear my children in case they need me.” “I won’t be able to write down those little nuggets of wisdom.” But, as I talked with my friend, I realized that maybe, just maybe, she was onto something.


I decided to embrace the approach of “What if it will work?” and I got creative and committed. I found my headphones and ordered a small part to make them work with my phone. I let my kids know that I would be tuning out and unavailable while doing the dishes, or making dinner, or whatever it was I was doing while listening. I found where podcasts live on my phone (had no clue that was there!) And then I pulled up some speakers who have been influential and encouraging on my journey and added their podcast to my library.

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A Homeschooling Mom with a Big Vision

By Kimberly Miller


Ask any homeschool mom, and she’ll tell you that one of the secrets to success in homeschooling is in the opportunities you give your children for learning. No one knows this better than Elizabeth Caruso. Elizabeth is the homeschooling mother of two sons ages 16 and 17. Giving her sons an array of opportunities for learning and involvement has been one of her missions since she started officially homeschooling them 12 years ago. The way in which she approached fulfilling that mission has led her into some interesting opportunities of her own.


With advanced degrees in engineering and business administration, Elizabeth left her job in the corporate world for a life in rural Maine, and she has never looked back. She felt called to be home with her sons, who were still quite young at the time. Her love of the outdoors led her to discover an all new career path; she became a registered Maine Guide, started a guide service alongside her husband, established a bed-and-breakfast for the clients they served through their guide service, and opened an outfitters’ store to supply all those outdoor enthusiasts who hired them to guide them on excursions in the Maine woods. The flexibility of this new career path allowed her the ability to raise and educate her young sons herself, right from their family’s home.


Because it mattered to her what her sons learned and how they learned it, homeschooling was a natural choice for their family. She realized when they were still very young that learning starts at home that she didn’t have to wait to teach them things and that they could learn from her at any time, not just while in school.


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