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Elevate & Encourage

Needing a little encouragement in your homeschooling journey? Check in here once a month for a new article from a veteran homeschooling mom! 


December 1, 2019

Beth Mellot has been homeschooling for 19 years. She has graduated two children and has one more in 9th grade. Her hobbies include reading, writing, gardening, discovering field trips and putting together curriculum. By far, her favorite thing is spending time with her kids and watching the "light bulb" come on. Beth serves on the HAHA board as Co-Director of Activities. 

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Help! The Holidays are coming!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was in fact … the holidays (my apologies to Charles Dickens.) Christmas – the season of joy; the season of peace. Right! To me is was the season of unending stress: Christmas cards, Christmas shopping – for everyone and their brother, finding the perfect tree, decorating inside and out, baking all kinds of cookies and desserts, wrapping presents, grocery shopping for Christmas dinner AND keeping up with those pesky lesson plans. “It’s not fair,” I told my husband, “It’s impossible to do it all in just four weeks – four months, perhaps, but not four weeks!” It seemed like I failed – every year – and I was tired of trying. Christmas had lost its “magic” and I had become a slave to the commercialization of the season. Instead of anticipating that time of the year, I dreaded it. The wonder of the Virgin Birth, the awe of a holy God becoming a tiny baby, had been overshadowed by agendas, demands and constant stress. Something had to change!

Away with the cookies, away with the cakes; on Ebay, on Amazon, easy it makes. Ok, so I’m not a poet, but you get my point. Instead of doing everything I should do, I began to do those things that I enjoyed doing. So Christmas cookies went by the wayside. I admit, at first I felt guilty. Would I be scarring my children for life if I did not do the whole Christmas cookie thing? But you know what? My children did not lose out one bit. My sister-in-law and a girlfriend began to invite them over to their houses to help make cookies – which freed me up to do some shopping. And that shopping happened with technology (I didn’t even have to get dressed until it was time for the kiddos to come home!)

I also decided that if the public schools could have half-days, well doggone it, so could we. So I started easing up on the intensity of our lessons about two weeks before Christmas. Instead of pushing through to the next unit, we paused and reviewed all that we’d covered thus far. We finished our experiments, art projects and writing assignments. Then we cleaned up our supplies, and lo and behold, the house felt more like Christmas and less like a disaster area.

Then I started to use the days between Christmas & New Year’s to implement some of those activities that we never seemed to have time for. You know, all those things I thought would add some spice to our studies but which we never seemed to get around to because I was so desperately trying to keep up with my lesson plans. (Please tell me I’m not alone in this!) So the word searches, the puzzles, the games, and the light reading took over this week, which allowed me to count the days while keeping the munchkins busy. Win, win I’d say.

So maybe you enjoy the whole Christmas cookie thing. Then by all means keep it. Just don’t let society decide what you should do. Take some time, right now even, and ask God what can go and what should stay. After all, He knows what will work best for your family. And He knows that if YOU are stressed, it will be difficult for your children to find the “magic,” the wonder and the awe in this most Holy Season. Trees, decorations, gifts and food are all wonderful but the truth is that Jesus really IS the reason for the season. Let’s make it a point to keep that truth in the forefront of our plans this year.

Let’s model that awe and wonder of the babe in a manger, and rejoice with the angels: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. (Luke 2:14, NIV)

November 1, 2019

Beth Mellot has been homeschooling for 19 years. She has graduated two children and has one more in 9th grade. Her hobbies include reading, writing, gardening, discovering field trips and putting together curriculum. By far, her favorite thing is spending time with her kids and watching the "light bulb" come on. Beth serves on the HAHA board as Co-Director of Activities. 

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May I be honest here?  Homeschooling is NOT what I thought it would be.  In fact, it is NOTHING like I imagined. I had that famous Norman Rockwell picture of a happy family around the table (minus the turkey, of course) etched in my brain.  And I wasn’t going to settle for anything less.  Imagine my surprise when the grumbling and arguing began – on our first official day!

“Can I go outside now?”  We just sat down at the table, what do you think? 

“I hate math!” This is your first day of Kindergarten, how can you possibly know that you hate Math?

“I’m hungry.  When can we eat?”  You just finished breakfast; it’s physically impossible for you to be hungry!

“You gave him more crayons than you gave me!”  I thought you hated Math?

On and on ad nauseam – so much for my ideal homeschool day.  What have I done wrong?  I wondered.  Maybe I’m not cut out to do this; or perhaps my children are even less disciplined than I believed; or (gasp) maybe they would be better off in public school!

Does any of that sound familiar?  Are you doubting the choices you have made?  Do you feel as if you are hampering your child’s future by staying the course?  

Be assured, my friend, your doubts are normal.  I do not know ANY homeschool mom who has not asked herself those questions – sometimes on a daily (or even hourly) basis.  And asking those questions is important because it proves you care about your children and want the best for them.  Just don’t stay in the “pit of despair.”  Give your self a chance to cry, or scream into your pillow if you need to, but don’t think this moment in time is the defining moment of your life – even if it feels like it.  And don’t believe for one minute that you are not up to the task.  (I used to lock myself in the bathroom for a few minutes of peace and I still managed to graduate two children with our last one in 9th grade.)  

So let me encourage you from (almost on) the other side. YOU CAN DO THIS! 
You are what your children need and you, with God’s help, are enough.

And on those days when doubts assail you and your heart feels daunted by the task, remind yourself WHY you chose to homeschool.  Our reason was simple – my husband and I know God told us to do this.  And I went back to that reason time and time again.

So will you allow me to be bold and suggest that the reason you homeschool should be YOUR reason – not your neighbor’s, not your pastor’s, not even your in-law’s, no matter how well meaning they are? The reason needs to be yours.  Period.  You need to own it.  For it is the lifeline you will need to hang on to during those difficult days.  

But be encouraged because there WILL be good days, too.  I promise.  Maybe not today, but that is ok.  Hang it up for today if you have to.  Tomorrow will bring a new perspective and new chances to try again.  And, as Jeremiah reminds us, tomorrow will also bring new mercies from above – for His mercies and compassions are new every morning (Lam 3:22,23  KJV)