12 Brain Rules for Learning

Brain RulesI recently ran across an interesting book called Brain Rules by John Medina. It’s a compilation of all the research on how the brain operates best, particularly when it comes to learning.

It’s written in an enjoyable, non-techie way that anyone can understand and apply. However (major disclaimer) be forewarned that the author does express an evolutionary worldview. But his personal opinions in no way diminish the validity of the research he shares.

Medina explains 12 “Brain Rules” that are essential to learning. I’ve summarized them below. Take a look and see if you can incorporate as many of these brain rules as possible in your home schooling. [Read more…]

5 Steps to a Decluttered Life

Einstein bannerHope your summer was a great one. I spent mine attempting a total declutter of my home (still not quite finished), and that led me to thinking about decluttering the mind and emotions.

I remember reading once that Einstein didn’t even know his own phone number because his philosophy was to never clutter his mind with things he could easily look up. And that was the secret to his genius—his mind was free to glimpse into the mysteries of time and relativity.

Because I’ve always been a super-busy person with a tendency to take on more than I can handle, I’ve spent most of my life with a cluttered mind—a mind overwhelmed with the tasks, schedules, information and activities I needed to juggle in the course of marriage, family life, home schooling, being a pastor’s wife, and managing a business. I was a victim of cluttered emotions as well after enduring the inevitable emotional upheavals we tend to experience as we grow older. [Read more…]

Graduations and Goodbyes

inconceivableThis past week, I came across the true story of a couple, Carolyn and Sean Savage, who underwent an IVF procedure after years of childlessness. They were elated to discover that Carolyn was finally pregnant, but that joy turned to shock as they realized that the clinic had made a medical mistake and impregnated her with an embryo from another couple. So the baby she was carrying wasn’t hers and Sean’s; it was someone else’s. The Savages were faced with an agonizing choice—they could terminate the pregnancy or they could bring the baby boy to term, birth him, and then hand him over to his biological parents. By the time they discovered the clinic’s mistake, they already loved the baby, which made it impossible for them to imagine how they could abort him. But it also made it impossible for them to imagine how they could give him life and then give him away. (The book is called Inconceivable.)

One of the taglines of the book really struck me. It says this:

Inconceivable is a story of what it is to be a parent, someone who nurtures a life, protects a soul, only to release that child into the world long before you’re ready to let him go.“ [Read more…]

Sell Your Stuff

Flea marketThings are hectic here because I’ve been gearing up for a huge sale. Somewhere I read that the average person has around $2000 worth of junk in their house and garage they can sell. Well, I can attest to that. I’ve always been somewhat of a pack rat (I blame that on my father), and I’m always amazed at how much “stuff” accumulates in the house and garage. I think it breeds and has “baby” stuff while I’m not looking.

I’ve posted an item here and there on eBay or Craigslist before, but this time I posted about thirty things at a time. What I wasn’t prepared for was being inundated with emails and texts from interested potential buyers. And, because I put my phone # in the ad and said to text me, of course people haven’t paid attention and are calling me all day and night. [Read more…]

Don’t Threaten to Punish Your Kids for Lying

Years ago, when my eldest son was very small, a single mother in our church was going through a life crisis, so we offered to let her 13 year old son live with us for several months to give his mother some breathing room while she tried to get her life back together.

He was generally a great kid and very popular at school, but he had an ongoing problem that tended to drive me crazy. He was a compulsive liar. He lied even when there was no reason to lie. It was disturbing to me and, I have to confess, I handled it poorly, not just because his lying caused a huge amount of frustration, but also because I couldn’t understand what could have driven someone his age to feel like he needed to lie all the time about everything. In the past, we had been foster parents to children from all sorts of terrible family situations, but none of them had ever lied to the extent that Edward (not his real name) did.

I hadn’t thought about Edward in years until a couple of weeks ago when I heard a speaker mention research that tried to determine which qualities were the best predictors of popularity. This study followed children through their growing-up years into adulthood and considered factors such as pleasing physical characteristics, outgoing personalities, and so forth. But the one factor that differentiated the most popular children and adults from their less popular peers was that the most popular people were the best liars.

Pretty disturbing, huh? [Read more…]

Homeschooling. A Conspiracy of the Religious Right?


I wanted to interrupt my series about winter and homeschooling to share some articles I’ve been reading by Franky Schaeffer. Franky claims that the Christian homeschool movement of the past 30 years was spawned by and has been a tool for a conspiracy of religious right-wingers.

Let me preface my comments by saying that, while I was in graduate school, books by Francis and Edith Schaeffer were a breath of fresh air to me. At school, I was surrounded on one side by secular academia’s attack on Christianity as “delusional” and on the other side by the Christian group I belonged to at the time which was, shall we say, somewhat anti-intellectual. A lot of them had come out of the Jesus Movement and their brains may have been fried by the drugs they took beforehand. I don’t know. But I do know this – I had started working on a Ph.D. in biochemistry and was constantly running up against a theology that debunked science and any kind of higher learning as “unspiritual,” pointing out that the disciples were “unlearned men” as if that were some kind of criteria for believing in Jesus Christ. [Read more…]

Winter is a time for special projects

snow-familyWinter is a good time to set the regular books aside for a while and concentrate on a special project, particularly a unit study.

Unit Study takes a theme or topic (a unit of study) and delves into it deeply over a period of time, integrating language arts, science, social studies, math, and fine arts as they apply. Instead of studying eight or ten separate, unrelated subjects, all subjects are blended together and studied around a common theme or project and all ages study the same topic together at the same time, just at different levels of difficulty. [Read more…]

Homeschooling Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

clutterIn an earlier post, I shared about my father’s boyhood and the lessons he taught me about winter. Because he grew up in a farm family, spring, summer and fall were the “working” seasons when the family’s effort went into preparing a good harvest and making sure the harvest was “put up” by winter. But winter was an important season too—a time for reflecting over the past year and thinking through what you did right or could have done better. It was a time of planning, of renewing vision, and of marshalling resources to be used in the next season of growth. It was a time of sharpening tools and fixing machinery, of undertaking special projects, and…winter was a time for having fun. [Read more…]

What’s this year about?

2015I’ve been meaning to get this post published for the last week, but have been sidelined by some sort of stomach thingy and haven’t felt up to it until today. So here goes….

About this time every year I do kind of a review of the previous year and a “future-casting” for the new one. I don’t like to set goals because when I’ve done it in the past, I’ve found that I’m generally too ambitious about what I can actually accomplish. Setting concrete goals (like losing 20 pounds or finally getting my storage room and all my closets cleaned out) isn’t super productive for me because if I don’t meet my goals I get discouraged. Plus, to tell you the truth, for the past several years I’ve had some difficult times and haven’t been able to muster the emotional energy to follow through on everything I would like to and need to follow through on. So what I’ve done instead is focus on 4 questions. [Read more…]

My New Year’s Prayer for You

This is my prayer for you in 2015.

I pray for each of you that the King of Glory floods your eye gates and ear gates this year with images & sounds of heaven that bring you, my dear friends, into His frequency & cadence and that you find yourself mystically indulging in and continually encountering the power, the palace and the presence of the Father, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

That your New Year be filled with Hope, Health, Happiness and the Marvels of the one True God. [Read more…]