Incorporating Faith in a Dynamic Homeschool



From what I understand, early American homeschool pioneers, some 35 years ago, were just about 100% all devoted Christians.

Nowadays, research suggests that around 40% of homeschooling families fall into that category. Of course this is a good thing from the standpoint of homeschooling Christians as it gives them more political protection, theoretically anyway.

While the percentages are down, there are certainly many families nowadays whose initial decision to home educate has been rooted in their faith whether it’s Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or some other creed that I am going to offend via omission.

But there are also families like mine, I suppose, who didn’t start out with such intentions but adopted them later on.

As we can all attest to, marriage is certainly a “game-changer”.

Having kids also changes the game.

But as big, and as life-altering as those events are, once parents accept full responsibility for raising and educating their own….well, it’s provokes yet another, even higher-ordered transformation.

You see while I was researching and contemplating how to educate my babies….I was actually homeschooling myself!

I was writing and reading prolifically. Notably, I read the Bible cover-to-cover for the first time – except I was 35 years old!

Homeschooling myself informed me on how to homeschool my kids. A major benefit of this process was that I got to share what I was learning too.

After all, I didn’t want my kids to get the “late start” in many areas that I had. Faith certainly fell into this category, and probably sits prominently at the top of it.

We aren’t saints by any stretch here. Our faith incorporation is still very much a work in progress, but here are some of the things we do at present:

Another thing we do is make a concerted effort to associate with Holier Than Thou people – meaning with families who are more faithful, more self-sacrificial, and generally have their priorities in order. The hope is that they will inspire us by osmosis.

A couple years ago, my 6 year old daughter said to me, “Dad, how come you don’t read your Bible any more?”

She was right; I was slacking off a bit.

But the takeaway, the eye-opener for me, was learning how acutely aware my kids are of what I do.

Parents are always telling me that they “…could never do what I do” because they “could never teach” their kids.

But what they fail to understand is that ALL PARENTS TEACH their kids….by the living example they set.



Dan (5 Posts)

Husband to Inez. Father of John and Christine. Homeschool Coach, Accelerated Math Teacher. Former derivatives trader and future scratch golfer! Follow our learning adventures at

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Teaching with Object Lessons


God Uses Reminders

In Joshua 4, God commanded His children to put up a pile of twelve stones as a reminder. The stones were specifically piled up in order to prompt their children’s questions! When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? (Josh.4:6, 4:21). The parents’ response is to explain what He has done for them. The lesson is that God cares for His people and provides for us.

And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal. And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever. (Josh 4:20-5:1)

In I Samuel 7 the Philistines took the Ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod. God was gracious to Israel and allowed the Ark to return after punishing the Philistines for taking the Ark. Samuel then took a “stone” and set it near Mizpah six miles north of Jerusalem. This large rock became a “war memorial” a reminder of God’s power in battle.

TallitIn Numbers 15 God told the Hebrews to place fringes and ribbon on the borders of their clothing in rememberance of the commandments*.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring (Num 15:37-39).
The Hebrews have a tradition of placing a mezuzah on the doorposts of their homes (Deut 6:4-9 and 11:13-21). It is customary, upon entering or leaving a Jewish residence, to reverently touch the mezuzah. This reverence acknowledges belief in the “Shema Israel” Hear, 0 Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one. (Deut 6:4). Several Christians have adopted this tradition as well.

I once read about a pastor who displayed a smooth, polished rock on his desk inscribed, “The First Stone” as a continual reminder from John 8:7, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.
Some people wear a mustard seed pendant necklace as a reminder of Jesus words If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you (Matt. 17:20). The rainbow is also a prompt, to remind us of God’s covenant with Noah.
I have a friend who uses each shirt she irons as a reminder to pray for that family member. I have another friend who uses each day of the week as a reminder to pray for a specific grandchild.

The superstition of walking under a ladder being bad luck actually began as a reminder to remember God, because medieval theologians suggested a ladder leaning against a wall forms a triangle and therefore is a symbolic reminder of the Holy Trinity.

Creation reveals God. Jesus used ordinary things the people interacted with daily such as fish, sheep, fruit, and bread to illustrate spiritual truths. We need spiritual reminders, and we need to use such reminders to teach our children. We don’t interact with the outdoors the way the people did in Bible days but we can get creative and bring reminders in our home.

Our Kitchen Vineyard 

I decorate my home with reminders of Bible lessons. We have the Ten Commandments on our living room wall, and a ram’s horn on display. We have a large picture of Jerusalem to remind us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We have a special meal and light candles Friday evening, the beginning of the weekly Sabbath, to remember to honor the fourth commandment.

The Bible is full of rich spiritual illustrations using the vineyard and if we lived in Bible times we would probably be near or pass by vineyards often. However, since we don’t pass by any vineyards I brought some vineyard reminders into my home through decor.

Our home is decorated with the rich colors of the vineyard—deep purple, burgundy, and greens. Our kitchen and dining area are decorated with a vineyard theme. The decor is a reminder like the stones in Joshua. John 15 records one of Jesus’ last messages to His disciples before His death.

Jesus chose a vine and branches to show us the way to a life of fruitfulness.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 

The vineyard motif gives me several opportunities to remind my children about how the vine’s dependence on the branch is a model of our relationship with Christ.

The vine reminds us that must stay in Jesus to bring forth good fruit. If we keep His commandments, we will remain in His love. As we abide in Jesus we see more and more of Him and grow more and more like Him. Our job is simply to remain.

To remain is to hold fast and stay in loving obedience. We are not just staying with Him, standing nearby, watching what is going on. We are linked to Him, grafted into Him. Our identity and existence are bound up in Him.

Israel is also God’s vine or vineyard; see Isaiah 5:1–7, 27:2–6; Jeremiah 2:21, 12:10; Ezekiel 17:5–6; Hosea 10:1; Joel 1:7; Psalm 80:8–16.The vine symbolizes both the Jewish people and our Messiah and reinforces the close identification of Jesus with Israel (Mt 2:15). God’s remnant, the Hebrews, and the grafted-in branches (Ro. 9:6ff., 11:1–10, 17-24) will obey His commands, stay attached to the true vine, and have the true vine’s power and strength that results in bringing forth good fruit (Matt. 7:16–19).

Drying the dishes with grapevine adorned dish towels or cooking with grapevine cookware is our prompt of several Bible lessons such as reaping and sowing or a discussion about how a successful harvest must be preceded by timely planting and on-going care (watering, weeding, etc.). Jesus taught using such parables that show things we value take time and nourishment. There’s no quick fix for healthy, lasting, relationships in a friendship, marriage, family, or elsewhere. If we neglect them now, we can’t expect positive results later.

I pray that my children will see the reminders and remember that Jesus taught If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

I want it to be foremost in their minds that in any living vine, the function of a branch is to bear fruit. But it cannot fulfill its purpose unless it remains in actual living connection with the vine.

Without applying that cherished remain in Me relationship, it will never complete what it was intended for. They need to know that those who fail to remain in Him will be as unfilled as that of a branch torn from the vine with no prospect for fruit bearing.

A real illustration of this would be to bring in a vine cut from a branch, make it your centerpiece or conversation piece for a few days as it dies.

The vineyard images are also a reminder of the Proverbs 31 woman who saves up money and, instead of squandering it, buys a field, purchases some seed, and plants a vineyard.The husbandman pruning the vineyard reminds us there is sin in our lives.

The Greek word for prune means, literally, to clean. To clean of excess foliage is to prune, but the context also clearly implies cleansing from sin. The only way to continue to be clean (pruned) and to bear fruit is to maintain a vital spiritual connection with Christ the vine.

Reminders are the method God told us to use to teach our children. Each of the Biblical Holidays listed in Lev 23 tells a story to remind us of God’s mercy and faithfulness.

Include reminders like these in your home decor. Wouldn’t a lamb theme be perfect for an infant or toddler nursery? Think of all the sheep and shepherd story prompts.

Pray God will reveal things to you to teach your children. A quilt can be a prompt to talk about Joseph’s coat of many colors. Baking bread has numerous lessons from the loaves and fishes, to unleavened bread being symbolic of Christ, or the bread of idleness mentioned in Proverbs. Of course, the greatest reminder of all is an open Bible.




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8 Classic Christmas Read Alouds

Guest post by Tonia of The Sunny Patch.

Christmas is a wonderful time to create family memories and new traditions. Many of our favorite family moments involve books. Christmas is no exception!

There are so many fabulous picture books (and chapter books!) about the holiday season that make wonderful family read alouds. A beautiful picture book doesn’t only have to be for the preschoolers and early elementary kids. We still enjoy many books that are filled with wonderful pictures (and stories). Below you’ll find some of the best books to read this Christmas season.

classic christmas books


The books below cover a wide range of ages – from picture books to chapter books you’re sure to find a new favorite!

A Christmas Carol

The quintessential Christmas story – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. A memorable story of change, forgiveness, and redemption. Don’t avoid this one just because you think it will be too hard for your children to understand. Start with the wonderful Focus on the Family audio dramatization. This story really shouldn’t be missed.

The Polar Express

This is one of those not-to-be-missed more recent classics (if you still consider 1985 to be recent!) written by Chris Van Allsburg, who also wrote Jumanji. Who wouldn’t love to hop on a train and head to the North Pole? This classic tale of Christmas magic is one that even older kids can appreciate.

A Visit from Saint Nicholas

I’m sure many people could quote large portions of this classic poem that begins with the famous line – ‘Twas the night before Christmas… It’s certainly earned it’s place in Christmas lore and legend. One neat fact – it actually predates A Christmas Carol by 20 years.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

My first introduction to this classic Seuss story, like many people, was the 1966 animated version featuring Boris Karloff as the voice of the Grinch. A few years ago we received a beautiful hardcover copy of the book and now enjoy the story every year.

The Gift of the Magi

I just love this story by O. Henry. A young married couple sacrifice their most prized possessions to give the other a special Christmas gift. We love watching the Mickey & Minnie version on Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas.

The Story of Holly & Ivy

Written by Rumer Godden and published in 1958, it’s the story of a young orphan wishing for a home and family. Look for the version illustrated by Barbara Cooney (one of my favorites).

Letters from Father Christmas

This is a new-to-us book this year. We love many of Tolkien’s books so we’re excited to spend some time with him this Christmas season. If you’ve read it let me know your thoughts!

The Bible

Christmas Eve is the perfect time to read the second chapter of Luke. Turn on the Christmas lights, sip some hot cocoa, and remember why we celebrate this blessed season.

Do you have a favorite Christmas read aloud?

Every member of my family has a different Christmas favorite so we end up sharing a few memorable books over the holiday season.

And I’m always on the lookout to add to our collection. I’d love to know what books you read together during the holiday season.

Tell me about your family’s favorite Christmas read aloud!


Tonia writes about homeschooling life at The Sunny Patch. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.



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