Tag Archives: homeschooling

Abeka Video Program Review

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I often am asked by other homeschoolers about what curriculum we use, which leads to inquiries about the Abeka Video Program.  Abeka is based out of Pensacola, Florida and has been around for many decades, designed originally for Christian school use.  It has evolved over the years as a popular homeschooler’s choice as it is pre-packaged and fairly user friendly.

{A side note:  I actually used the Abeka curriculum from 4th-12th grades when I attended a Christian school.  So, I’ve been familiar with Abeka since 1979!}

If you’re familiar with our homeschool journey, you already know that we’ve been at this for nearly twenty years with two graduates and one in the not-so-distant future, by God’s amazing grace.  We have primarily used the Abeka curriculum for most of our journey and relied on the Video Program for the last five years.  I especially recommend it for the high school years!  We did use the Video Program for Algebra I for our oldest back in 2003.  So, my kids have had a variety of teachers in a myriad of subjects, some we love almost like family.

Hands down, Mr. Mike Smith, who has taught History and Bible is the funniest and most thoroughly engaging teacher they’ve ever had!  I’ve even enjoyed listening to him.  A close second, in terms of a wealth of information that he brings to the table, is Mr. Denis McBride.  My kids loved both of these teachers dearly and learned so much from them.  They were almost sad when a course was over!  Incidentally, you can view snippets of these gifted teachers on YouTube to get a glimpse of their teaching style and expertise.

Interestingly enough, Mrs. Judy Howe, who wrote the math curriculum, is the video teacher for Algebra.  My daughter absolutely loved her teaching.  I remember one year, my daughter was immersed in poetry and really developed a passion for it because of the way it was introduced to her via her Abeka Video Teacher.

My children have certainly learned a lot from me, or at least I’d like to think that, however, exposing them to so many experts in their respective fields has broadened their horizons in ways that would’ve been impossible otherwise.  So, I am forever grateful for the Abeka Video experience!

One year we did the video streaming online, which is not a live experience, but pre-recorded.  It is slightly cheaper and foregoes having the actual DVD’s mailed out.  You simply access it via Abeka’s website.  However, we found that selecting the DVD option worked better for us.  (less temptation to view other websites…)

The format of the Video Program is a classroom setting at the Pensacola Christian Academy and seeks to engage the student at home.  The teacher often asks questions of those in the classroom as well as directing questions to the “student at home watching”.  They play games that test their working knowledge of the subject that break up the pace of simply lecturing.

Included in the cost of the Video Program are all of the necessary student workbooks, teacher keys and tests.  So it is a complete program.  It is a little expensive, however, you are really getting a quality education that is priceless.

While the textbooks offer a very thorough education through a Christian perspective, adding the Video teacher’s expertise, further enhances the learning experience.

One can opt to only purchase one subject or a complete grade level.  At present, my son is completing 10th grade.

The way it works is … At the beginning of the school year, Abeka mails out the first set of DVD’s and a few months later, they ship the second batch of DVD’s.  However, they will not ship the third (and final) batch until you have returned the first set.  You are only permitted to have two sets out at any given time.  The DVD’s remain the intellectual property of Abeka and are never to be duplicated or retained in any way by the student.  The consumer is simply “leasing” the DVD’s for the school year.  You have to return all DVD’s within 12 months of your school start date.  When you place your order, you submit whatever “start date” you desire and this is what they go by.

You simply print a return shipping label from their website using your account and drop off at the Post Office.  They are very prompt about sending out the next set.  Their customer service is excellent in all regards.  We’ve had times where we’ve had to call about things and they are quick to resolve any issue, no questions.  As a parent, I’ve been ordering from Abeka since 1997 and am a completely satisfied customer.

I hope this answers some questions you may have had about the Abeka Video Program.  Please feel free to leave a question or comment below and I’ll do my best to answer.

{Little trivia:  Abeka was established by Arlin & Rebeka Horton in 1954.}

 

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Homeschooling Forever?

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Has our homeschooling journey been that long?  No, not really, but it sure has seemed that way some days.  Way back in 1997 when our daughter was a baby, we decided to homeschool our oldest.  We really didn’t know much about the process aside from what I’d read in a handful of library books.  There were two homeschooling families at our church and I picked their brains for what worked for them.  It still was a walk in the dark and every step was preceded by much prayer, thought and hard work.

We have had many days it truly felt like we were stumbling around in the dark, stubbing our toes on the furniture.  Other days were filled with euphoric moments of triumph when new concepts were mastered!  I think most homeschoolers would agree that their experiences has been a combined mixture of both.

Where are we now?

Our older son was in fifth grade when we began this journey and he graduated in 2006.  Ten years ago?  How can that be?  Time truly flies, folks!

Our daughter wanted to do school like her big brother so she began kindergarten at age four. She’s always been very curious and precocious and we felt she was ready.  She graduated in May 2015.

Our younger son is currently finishing up 10th grade and will begin 11th grade in the fall.  He’s almost 6′ tall and we have a lot of fun learning together.  We use the Abeka video program, which I absolutely love!  All of the video teachers have a wealth of knowledge and experience, which make it worth every penny.  We use a separate curriculum for math, though.  That’s the beauty of homeschooling – you can tailor it to your child’s needs depending on their strengths and weaknesses.

I always say, “One of these days I’m going to graduate!”  🙂  The truth is, I’ve been in nearly every grade four times (once myself way back when and then once for each of the 3 kids).

We’ve had many bumps in the road along the way.  We’ve moved quite a bit over the years, which always throws a wrench into schooling preparation and plans.  Also, I just had surgery.  It’s times like these I’m very thankful for the Abeka video program and the fact that my son is older and can work independently for the most part.  We do work pretty closely with math, however.

Life is always full of interruptions and that is why we have always appreciated the immense flexibility of homeschooling.  For instance, we are not bound by school schedules that prevent us from taking a family vacation if desired.  There are so many opportunities my children would never have had if it weren’t for a home based education.

Has it been easy?  A resounding NO!  But then, nothing worthwhile in life ever is.

Has it been fun?  Yes.  We’ve had many laughs … mixed with tears sometimes.  Mixed with worry that our children aren’t learning enough…or fast enough…or on par with their public school peers… It’s times like these, our kids do something really amazing or we have lengthy conversations that allay all my fears that they will, in fact, turn out just fine.

Has it been worth it?  Every minute.  Every ounce of energy.  Only eternity will tell, but I know that in my heart of hearts, I’ve given it my all.

{Side note:  My 18 year old daughter & I had a conversation about the stresses of raising kids, family size, etc.  I shared how important extended family can be, especially relieving strain when the children are small.  Our conversation went on and she said, “Mom, I have many fond memories of you doing crafts with us and always making things fun.  You’ve done a great job.”}

Well, I guess I should frame this, not that she hasn’t said similar things before, because she has.  She’s always so sweet and affirming.  But, because sometimes those “Mommy fears” rear their ugly head and needle away at any confidence I may have had.

Moms have such a full and far reaching job on their hands, raising a family, taking care of the house, their husband, and whatever involvement they may have in church or the community!  Goodness, we need to give ourselves a break!

You’re doing GREAT, Moms!!

Frame this!  “You’re doing GREAT!”  You really are.

If your hearts’ desire is to be the best Mom possible, I’m confident that you are, in fact, doing just that.  We need to give ourselves grace.  And don’t worry so much!  We worry because we love deeply but really we should transfer that worry into a prayer and leave it there.  I’m preaching to the choir now.

It’s hard to imagine life beyond homeschooling but in May 2018, our youngest will graduate.  And then a new chapter of my life will begin.  But this one has been an exceptional run and one that has been rich, meaningful and a real time of planting seeds into our children.  For that, I am ever grateful.

And to those who are just starting out on this homeschooling journey or are midway through – Hang in there!  Enjoy every step of the way.  Do those crazy art projects and science experiments.  Go on those educational field trips and family vacations.  Find beauty and learning opportunities everywhere!  Enjoy your kids, moms.  Those formative years only last so long and then they’ll be taller than you (like all my kids are now!).

I saw this quote many years ago:

“A parent’s true role is to work themselves out of a job.”

Our job is to raise the next generation to be moral, independent, critical thinkers.  If we have done that, our work is done.

Of course, as a Christian Mom, I have prayed for my children since they were in my womb and I will always intercede for them until I draw my last breath.  I love them so.  So, even when our children are out on their own making their way in this world, our role as intercessors never ends.

Do you homeschool?  How would you sum up your journey so far?  Have any of yours graduated?

 

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Life in Transition…

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We’ve made our big move … 1,000 miles south to the Sunshine State!  We’ve been here in the land of the perpetual vacation for six weeks now and are glad to be back!  We lived here for a decade before, so this is not a totally new experience.  We are currently renting a 1,500 square foot apartment, which is very nice, I must say.  It is, however, much smaller than our former 2,600 square foot home.  It has three bedrooms and two baths, so there’s plenty of space in theory.  It’s just that we haven’t rented an apartment in 16 years!  Our two teens (ages 15 and 17) will be very glad to transition into a house, that’s for sure.  The interesting (and sometimes annoying layout) of our apartment is the 17 steps we have to walk up to get to our living space once you enter our front door!  When you have lots of bags of groceries, this becomes a little cumbersome.  You have to really want to come up or down to actually put forth the energy to do so! Haha!      

One of the criteria in finding a suitable apartment was that it must have an attached garage to house all of our “stuff”!  Well, this one does and, oh my goodness, is it ever jam packed!  Despite selling and giving away furniture and household items, and being forced to leave behind furniture that wouldn’t fit in the Uhaul, we managed to pack a 26 foot Uhaul pulling an additional trailer.  I honestly don’t know how we had so much, but somehow it accumulates over the years!  It boggles the mind considering I’m a consistent purger and organizer.  We managed to pack our little garage here as tight as possible and have only opened the door a handful of times!  Don’t open the door!  🙂  Something may fall out!  Haha!  

We have put an offer on a house so we’ll see if that works out.  It’s a nice, three bedroom house with a pool, which we’re all excited about!  I, for one, am looking forward to the daily exercise.  My husband and I are downsizing a bit and nearing the empty nest stage so we don’t want a large house.  We’re really trying to reduce monthly expenses and concentrate on the things that really count.  While three bedrooms will be smaller than what we’re accustomed to, the total square footage of the home is 2,300.  So, it’s not a tiny house and it has an office space, which my husband will be required to share with his quilter/scrapper wife!  😉  Concessions must be made.  Haha!   Most of the houses we’ve seen are 4 bedrooms, so we’ll see what we wind up with.  It would be nice to have that extra room.

The one constant in our lives is the homeschooling train continues its journey down the track.  Our 17 year old daughter will graduate in May and our 15 year old son will complete 9th grade.  That is the blessing of learning at home … there’s no new school or peer group to adjust to.  We’ve already located a very nice library and have our handy, dandy tickets (or library cards) to “free resources paid by our tax dollars”.   Our daughter is all registered to take the ACT test in the spring so she has been studying the big prep book for that.  She’s a smart cookie, so she should do very well.  Just a decade ago, we were walking this road with our older son, our first homeschool graduate!  I remember thinking on the night of his graduation, that I finally felt confident that I could do “this”!  And, so we have!  … I should be graduating any day now…. 😉      

Last Sunday we visited the fourth or fifth church since moving here and I think we all have decided it’s a keeper!  So, thankfully, we will visit this church again this Sunday!  We all really liked the way the pastor integrated so much Scripture and stories from both the Old and the New Testaments, and made it so compelling and relevant to our lives.  He held even my teen’s interest with his great articulation, sense of humor and delivery.  We liked the praise and worship and it’s somewhat close by.  All in all, a win-win for our family!  And, here I was about to give up hope…      

Transition is tough but this time around, it hasn’t been bad at all.  I think the reason for that is that God truly ordained this move and living closer to our grown son makes it all so very worth it!  We have probably seen our older son 15-20 times over the last 6 weeks, which is more than we’ve seen him over the last 5 years!!  Can you imagine the joy that resonates within this mother’s heart?!  And when he texts asking about a favorite recipe….Ah, it does a mother’s heart good!    

We all cannot wait to be finally settled, reunited with our boxes in the garage and make “heads or tails” of the things that made the 1,000 mile trek!  It’s so close we can taste it now…But, not quite!  Patience…

Life in transition continues, but before long, this quilter will have a rotary cutter in one hand and a piece of cotton in the other.  Such joy awaits!

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Buried Treasure

We’ve been looking for a few things since we returned from our big trip visiting our older son almost three weeks ago (and recovering from our accident).  I knew we’d eventually find them, but today was a true red letter day as I found all three!  Yay!

Because I’m so ridiculously Type A, I write out a “To do” list every day generally.  Well, post-accident I get tired really easily and am combating pain, so I have to take it easy (which is so hard!); and most days I feel like I’m merely chasing my tail as my to-do list spills over to the following day.  But, today I accomplished one task anyway!  I organized our master closet.  It wasn’t horrible; it just felt that way.  Out of control.  In the process of corraling the dirty laundry, winter clothes, shoes, etc., I found the three items we’d been searching for!  A postcard from our trip that we bought for our neighbor; my husband’s dearly loved flip flops; and my elbow brace.

When you find something that’s been missing for a while, somehow it validates one’s mental capabilities.  It does for me anyway.  It reaffirms the truth I cling to:  I am not going bonkers!  Trying to keep up with everyone’s “stuff” can be a mother’s greatest challenge and particularly when you’re busy!  You know, the unspoken assumption is that mothers know where everything is in a household at any given point in time.  I’m not sure how we got burdened with such a thing, but it’s true.  Whenever anyone is missing something, they turn to me for answers. (Whhhyyy?)  🙂

After sifting and sorting through our closet, I began to fill a bag of donations for the Salvation Army once more.  We’re always purging it seems, so it’s pretty amazing that we still have more to part with.  It really should be the standing rule that if I buy three new shirts, I part with three.  Things have a way of sneaking into our house and somehow it’s easier to bring things in than carry them out!  Why is that?  We like to amass stuff, but we’re far more hesitant to part with it.  The thing is holding onto things that are unnecessary only leads to more clutter and disorganization.

Another area I will be conquering soon is boxing up last school year’s books and papers.  As a longtime homeschooler, we can quickly clutter up a space with all of our textbooks, teaching aids, educational DVD’s, notebooks, pencils, highlighters, etc.  I have to remind my Type A self that educational clutter (within reason) is OKAY and is a sign of good things happening around here!!  Haha!  As my kids are getting older, I bear in mind that it won’t be this way too much longer, so enjoy the ride!  😉  That said, we do have a designated area for school stuff, even though they may not always land there.

The kids have unpacked their suitcases and their rooms are actually tidy (as of this writing anyway!).  Haha.  They are teenagers, afterall.  My daughter showed me how she’d organized her dresser drawers so nicely the other day and I thought someone else’s daughter was speaking to me, for sure!  My daughter?  Wow.  She must be growing up!  😉  She did a super fantastic job and is learning how nice proper organization is.  She can actually find things now instead of digging through piles of clothes on the floor!  And, as for my son… Well, a little parental bribery works like a charm!  If he wants time on his tablet, he has to take care of his chores and clean his room.  Once it’s been inspected, he can have the tablet.  It’s a wonderful motivator!  And he even takes care of most of his laundry himself.  My daughter has been doing her own laundry for several years now, which is very helpful.  I think I’m working myself right out of a job … But, that’s the whole point, isn’t it?  😉

And, so, here’s to optimal organization on an ongoing basis!  Have a blessed day!  🙂

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Mixing It Up

After you homeschool for a while, it is easy to fall into a rut, especially toward the end of the school year.  We’ve been on this homeschooling journey for nearly twenty years now and I’ve learned that mixing things up a bit can be a real shot in the arm for both parent and student!

If the kids are getting ancy and finding it hard to focus on school as the weather warms up, why not take school outdoors?  Have the kids pack up a few books, pack a picnic lunch and head to a nice park!  Sometimes a change in venue brings renewed passion and helps to finish the year strong.  Another thought is to take some school work to the library and let the kids work there.  When they’re finished their work, then perhaps they can browse for books and/or movies.

Even changing rooms can be helpful.  For instance, we have a screened in back porch.  Sometimes the kids like to do their school work out there while they listen to the birds singing.

What about reading books aloud to the children even if they’re old enough to do so themselves?  Or what about writing math problems on a dry erase board to make things a little different?  If the kids are learning fractions, why not head to the kitchen and whip up a batch of cookies or brownies using measuring cups?  Fractions are everywhere!

Maybe you live near the beach or the mountains?  Get outdoors and enjoy nature while you discuss nature and its beauty! Collect shells, leaves, rocks and bugs, and research when you get home.  My kids love taking pictures of nature.  Developing the natural curiosity children have is an awesome thing!  Encourage questions and the wonder of childhood! Have the kids write a paper on what they learned.  Education and learning often happen best outside the normal classroom.

We’ve often supplemented our learning by borrowing educational dvd’s from the library.  This can really help to alleviate boredom.

Field trips can be great fun too.  If feasible, “Take your child to work days” can be neat experiences for your child and spouse as well.  Additionally, finding a mentor or apprenticeship program for older students can be a great blessing.  For example, if your student has an interest in becoming a nurse, perhaps she could “shadow” or observe a friend in that vocation.  A variety of exposure to different vocations can be very useful in selecting future careers.

By now, perhaps you’ve thought of some ways you can spice up the last few weeks of the school year.  I hope that your creative juices have begun to flow and that the Lord blesses all of your educational efforts!

 

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Because Character Really Does Count…

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As parents, we want to install godly character traits and good morals in our children.  Well, here is a way to be deliberate in our training efforts.  There are 49 character traits listed along with a supporting Scripture on the chart below.  It is never too late to instill these principles in our children and teens.  Traits like: obedience, punctuality, dependability, hospitality, gratefulness, etc.  These are all wonderful qualities we admire in others.  Why not make it a family project to emphasize each quality?  Perhaps one per week?  It could revolutionize your family’s life.

It’s entirely too easy to go through the motions of life and all of its busy-ness and miss the key things.  We must be deliberate about instilling godly characteristics in our children, particularly while they are very young and especially teachable.

Here is the Duggar family chart of character qualities:  (You can print the pdf.)

http://www.duggarfamily.com/data/sites/69/pdfs/characterqualities.pdf

These would also make an excellent teaching tool for any Sunday School class or Bible study.

Have you seen this chart before?  What do you think?

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My #1 Son

They say that motherhood is the only time your heart walks outside of your body.  I tend to agree.  All three of my children captivated my heart the day they were born and my heart will never let go!  It doesn’t matter how old they get, they’re still deeply rooted in my heart for always.  

This mother’s heart was overjoyed last night when my #1 son called.  I haven’t heard his voice for a couple months, making it especially wonderful.  (We text fairly often, so there’s some redemption there.  Thank God for technology and unlimited texting!) We live 1,000 miles apart and the distance is difficult.  I’m hopeful that we will move closer at some point in the near future.  His siblings miss him very much also!

It was so great to hear that he’s doing well and performing with excellence in his job.  He’s very competitive (like his mother) and it serves him well.  We invariably can’t wait until we visit the next time.  Seeing him just twice a year is hard.  I know many parents with grown children live thousands of miles apart, but I am not one who is happy about it!  For one thing, when grandchildren begin to arrive, I need to be there.  I want to be a part of their lives, not just Christmastime Grammy!  My #1 son and I have always been close so it’s especially challenging.  He’ll turn 26 this summer, which is really quite amazing, especially considering I’m only 35!  Haha! …Not really.  However, I do remember 35!  🙂  I’m really unsure how this thing works – the kids getting older and I’m getting younger!  Fuzzy math, that’s all.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of and pray for him.  He’s such a special young man, who God has great plans for!   If you have children, you know how it is with your firstborn.  He/she is your “experiment”.  I remember when I was expecting him, I had lofty plans to use only cloth diapers and would definitely breastfeed.  He would have only natural and healthy things, only the best!  Well, I did use cloth diapers for a while, but then switched to disposables.  And I did start out nursing, but complications arose, so we switched to formula.  Ah, the best laid plans…  But, my point was, with the firstborn, they seem to have your best intentions and your best years.  There would be nine years in between him and my next one.  So, he was the only child for a long time.  He had my undivided attention.    

We homeschooled him from 5th-12th grades and he was dual enrolled at the community college during his high school years.  He nearly got his Associate’s Degree by the time he graduated from high school.  We’ve watched him become a very responsible young adult and ultimately choose a career path that brings tremendous fulfillment and challenge.  He’s at the stage now where he’s flourishing and this mother would really like to share life with him again.  I guess I feel like we’ve nurtured and educated him and now I’d like to sit back and enjoy watching up close the successful outcome.  There’s no greater joy than watching your children gain their independence and doing well in general.  My job as a parent is to work myself out of a job.  And, with him, the day-to-day parenting is done.  I will always be his mother, but I won’t always be there to tell him that energy drinks are bad for you!  Wink, wink.  😉  

Despite his stage of independence, sons and daughters need cheerleaders throughout their lifetime.  And, I will forever be his biggest fan.  I will always hold life’s banner that reads, “You Can Do It” and “I’m So Very Proud Of You”!  Love, Mom

 

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