Thursday, September 17, 2009

Workboxing Benefits

In a previous article on homeschool planning, I mentioned an organizational system that has become wildly popular with homeschoolers of all types. In this article, I will review this organizational system in more detail, both to enlighten those who may not have yet heard about this system, and to dispel some misinformation I have read about the system.

The Sue Patrick Workbox System is the organizational system to which I am referring. It has taken the homeschool world by storm the past few months – generating at least three new online discussion groups, working its way into the discussion groups of many different curriculums, and inspiring homeschool moms to devote several blog posts to their version of the system. For some, this overwhelming popularity is enough to turn them off. After all, most of us have tried, one too many times, the latest book, tool, software, etc., that’s just “guaranteed” to transform our homeschool into the most organized, most efficient, easiest-to-do homeschool ever.

If you already have an organizational system that works for you – great! Don’t change anything. If, however, you are struggling through your days, unorganized, failing to keep yourself and your kids on task, scrambling around to put together school work on a daily basis – this just might be the system for you.

The author of the system, Sue Patrick, developed it out of a desire to find an educational method attuned to the needs of her autistic son. She spent countless hours researching the best educational methods developed by professionals in the field of education for autistic children. Ms. Patrick took the best of each method she found and developed the Workbox Systemsm. Because she was teaching her son at home, she adapted the system specifically for homeschooling. Ms. Patrick shared the system with a few other moms who tried it, loved it, and then spread the word. Ms. Patrick began to get many inquiries from other homeschooling moms, so she decided to write a “user’s manual” for her system. She has also presented, and continues to present, her system at homeschool conventions.

When I first stumbled upon web posts regarding this system, I was intrigued. I am one of those moms who was finding it difficult to keep our school work organized, to keep us on task every day, to add in “fun” things to our school day like art and music, and to have the correct school work set up and ready to go each day. I had tried a couple of different methods to attempt to get us organized, but, ultimately, they (or I) failed. I ordered Ms. Patrick’s book and, after reading it, was inspired to try her system.

After two weeks of homeschooling with the Workbox Systemsm, I can tell you that it lives up to its testimonials. It has truly transformed our homeschool. It is keeping us organized, on task, and on schedule. For the first time, we are completing all of our work every day in less time. In addition, we are consistently able to do extra things like art, music, puzzles, and other hands-on learning activities that are fun for the kids. My children love the Workbox Systemsm, and so do I!

One complaint I’ve heard about the system is that it forces mom to micro-manage the homeschool, causing her to take too much time setting up each day. In my experience, I’ve found just the opposite to be true. As homeschool teachers, moms need to do some type of set up each day, anyways, to have school work ready to go for the child. What I’ve found with the Workbox Systemsm is that the daily set-up is more streamlined, organized, and efficient. In our school, each child has ten boxes. At night after the kids are in bed, I set up the boxes for the next day. It takes me about thirty minutes. The majority of the boxes hold school work; the rest are filled with extra activities. All of our school books, and all of the extra activities, are on bookshelves in our school room so that everything is immediately available to me as I fill the boxes. As I fill the boxes, I have to consult our chosen curriculum’s teacher guides, and so have no excuse for “forgetting” to get items ready for any extra activities, or science experiments, or special projects. This has been a blessing for my sometimes scattered brain!

Because my children are young, I have to micro-manage our school no matter what system of organization I choose to use. My children are not old enough to determine their workload for each day, nor are they old enough to set up their daily work. However, as they grow and mature, they will become more involved in the set-up of their school work, including the filling of their own workboxes. In fact, my nine year old already begs me to let her help set up the boxes each night. The set-up, itself, is a great learning tool as it teaches organization, planning, and responsibility. And, as the children move through the boxes during the school day, it teaches the importance of completing one task before moving on to the next. It allows the child to see just how far along they are in their school day, and gives them a sense of completion when the last work box is empty.

The Workbox Systemsm is here to stay at our house. Unlike other methods I’ve tried, it has actually worked. Our homeschool is more pleasant, and more fun, than it has been since we started homeschooling three years ago. More importantly, it has made our school more orderly so that we are more of a reflection of our orderly God. Our homeschool is still far from perfect, and always will be, but the Workbox Systemsm is a tool that is helping us be better at the way we do school.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why Public School?

Every time I come across the statistic that about 90% of Christian parents send their children to public school, I am freshly amazed. It is mind-boggling to me that so many Christian parents willingly hand over their children to an anti-God, humanistic, state-controlled institution for seven to eight hours per day, five days per week for about nine months of the year. Because of the way our American society has evolved, it is not hard to understand why the world sends their children to public school. Our society has become one that worships the god of personal pleasure and fulfillment. By abdicating their role in teaching and training their children to the state, parents of the world can be free to pursue worldly treasure and personal pleasure.

But why do so many Christian parents fall into the public school trap? Surely they’re not concerned with building worldly treasure, or the selfish pursuit of their own personal fulfillment. So, what is it? For three years now, I’ve been wrestling with this question, and have not found a satisfactory answer. I have yet to hear a godly, biblical justification for sending the children of Christian families to public school. Certainly, Christian parents who send their children to public school have many, and varied, excuses for doing so. I’ve heard plenty of them. And, yes, there may even be a valid reason or two among them – perhaps a spouse died or left, leaving the other spouse with several children to raise alone, or perhaps there are disabilities in the family. These cases are rare, though, and cannot justify 90% of Christian parents sending their children to public school.

Maybe Christians have been duped. After all, public schools didn’t start off in the same manner we find them today. The first American public schools were not godless, humanistic state-run institutions. Indeed, “. . . back in the very early days of this republic, education was a family affair closely connected to religious practice. A nation built on biblical principles had to be a highly literate one. In addition, all of this education was achieved without any government involvement, without any centralized educational bureaucracy, without any professors of education, or accrediting agencies or teacher certification. And, most significantly, without any compulsory attendance laws.”[1]

The transition from local, common schools supported by parents and based on the Bible to large, tax-supported government-run schools based on humanism was gradual. The progressive public education movement, led by Unitarians and liberal Protestants, pushed for state-controlled education for all children. The Unitarian-led movement for secular education was based on the Unitarian belief that salvation could be found through the state, not through Christ. They had abandoned belief in the divinity of Christ and the doctrine of original sin. Instead, they looked to the state, and secular education, to rid the world of poverty, ignorance and social injustice. Slowly but surely, their liberal ideas and beliefs seeped into, and poisoned, the American school system.

Less than 100 years later, the American school system is the complete opposite, in terms of worldview, of what it once was. Where once children were required to read the Bible, they are now told the Bible is a collection of man-made myths. Where once children were allowed to openly pray, they are now criminals if they do so. Where once children were taught that God created the heavens and the earth, they are now told that they are random accidents caused by a chaotic big bang. Where once children were taught morality and sin, they are now taught tolerance and acceptance of all beliefs (except Christianity).

So, I ask again – how can Christian parents justify sending their children to public schools? Have they been duped? Only if they are wearing blinders. The change in the American school system may have been gradual, but the change is glaringly apparent now for anyone to see. And, with studies showing that 80% of children from Christian homes leave the church, first mentally beginning in middle school, then physically once they leave home, how can Christian parents not see the damage that public schools are doing to their children?[2]

The biblical mandate for Christian parents concerning the education of their children is to impress upon them the commandments of the Lord and to “. . . talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut. 6:7) How can Christian parents do this if the state has their children for more of their waking hours than the parents do? Do Christian parents really believe that a ten-minute daily devotion and a couple hours of church on Sunday are enough to overcome the daily, hours-long onslaught of anti-God, humanistic teaching that their children receive in public school?

The growth of the homeschooling movement is encouraging. It needs to continue growing. The time for Christian parents to take back the education of their children is now – later will be too late. Yes, God is sovereign and He is in control, and He will work all things out for good and His glory. However, He expects us to do the work He has commanded us to do. If God has blessed you with children, your primary work for the Lord is to “. . . bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4) This is not to be done half-heartedly, but you are to “. . . work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” (Col. 3:23) There is no earthly pursuit that can ever compare in worth or reward to the heavenly pursuit of teaching and training our children for the Lord. Let us all be diligent in doing so that we may all hear our Lord tell us, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

[1] Blumenfeld, Samuel. Are Compulsory School Attendance Laws Necessary? Part 1.

[2] Source: Ham, Ken. Already Gone.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Discipline of a Child

My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life . . . Prov 6:20-23

Did you ever notice that you do not have to teach your child how to sin? This shouldn’t be surprising. The Bible teaches that we are conceived in sin and born with a sinful nature. Thus, our children are naturals at being selfish, disobedient, whiny, complainers, liars, etc.; so much so, sometimes, that their sinfulness brings out our own. The process of teaching, training and disciplining can be tiresome and exasperating. Add in the conflicting advice of various child and parenting experts, and your head is soon spinning in confusion, as well.

The one method of discipline that causes the most angst is spanking. Historically, spanking was largely accepted as an effective form of discipline for children. With the progression of society, though, has come an evolution of thought regarding spanking. Now, most psychologists, and other parenting experts, decry the spanking of children. In fact, spanking a child by anyone, parent or otherwise, is illegal in twenty-four countries around the world. Spanking is now viewed by many as a form of physical violence against a child.

The picture is not much clearer within Christendom. Some Christian parents spank; some don’t. Some see a clear mandate from Scripture to spank; others contend that the Old Testament was fulfilled in Christ who taught a “higher level of spirituality and understanding: He stressed discipline and direction from within, rather than direction by force from without.” In my research on the subject, I even found a book based upon an in-depth study of the book of Proverbs which, according to the author, shows that the Proverbs passages that so many Christians use to defend spanking do not, in fact, pertain to young children. After reviewing the Focus on the Family website, I feel safe hazarding a guess that Dr. Dobson would not agree with this particular author.

So, what are good Christian parents to do? Without doubt, we all want our children to grow in the love, fear and admonition of the Lord. Also without doubt, children need discipline. Not disciplining your children is tantamount to not loving them. A child without discipline is a burden not only to his parents, but to others, as well. As with all other matters, the way you discipline your children will be based upon your personal convictions. However, there are some general guidelines that can be useful to all parents.
  • Love. In all discipline, love must be the motivating factor. Anger will accomplish nothing, and will only serve to anger your child and sow seeds of rebellion. If necessary, put distance between yourself and the child before disciplining. Take a minute or two to pray, breathe and calm down. Then, approach your child in love. Speak to him in the same manner you imagine Jesus would speak to him.
  • Time. Training and discipline take time. In our busy world, a lot of the important issues of life get pushed aside. Even we who stay home with our children can get caught up in the “tyranny of the urgent” to the detriment of our children. It is crucial that you set aside unimportant tasks for the moment in order to spend time training your child.
  • Wisdom. You must explain to your child why what she did was wrong. In order to reach her heart, you must convey the depth of her sin and how it affects her, as well as anyone she may have hurt. You must relate God’s Word to her in a practical manner. There are many great parenting tools available to help you do this. A good place to start looking is Doorposts.
  • Consistency. It is imperative that you are consistent in your discipline. Whether you choose to spank, or put a child on a time out, or send him to his room, or revoke privileges, you must always follow through. A child will quickly learn that your words mean nothing if you are not consistent.
  • Forgiveness. Just as you are forgiven by God, so too must your child understand that she is forgiven. In addition, if she has hurt another by her sin, she must be made to apologize and ask forgiveness. In our house, a quick and quiet “sorry” doesn’t cut it. We expect our children to use full sentences, and, thus, they have been taught to say, “I’m sorry, (name), for (hurtful behavior). Will you please forgive me?” They are then required to hug the offended person and say, “I love you.”
Teaching and training a child is not easy. No work worth doing ever is. The rewards, however, are immeasurable. A well-trained, disciplined child is a delight to his parents, and to others. The goal of a Christian parent is to raise a child who understands the deceitfulness of his own heart and the effects of his sin on himself and others. As we diligently work towards the achievement of this goal, we bring glory and honor to our God.