10 Thoughts on Childhood Friendships and Why They Are So Important

Friends

Part One of A Parent’s Guide to Raising Psychologically Healthy Children

Have you ever considered the impact you have on your child’s psychological development? Do you sometimes wonder if you are truly equipped to take on this responsibility? Today’s blog starts a monthly series by Dr. Alvarez-Gray titled: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Psychologically Healthy Children. The series will address topics like “How to Work Towards a Goal,” “Being a Happy Person,” “Flexible Problem Solving,” and “Learning to Regulate Emotions and Self-Soothe.” In addition, there will be an opportunity for parents and students to submit questions to Dr. Alvarez-Gray; she will respond via our blog. Stay tuned for this in depth look at our children and their psychological care. Read more

Don’t Do It Alone

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The Vandewalles have been homeschooling their six children since 1999 and are about to graduate their third student. Until last year, most of their homeschooling was done at home without the benefit of outside classes;  like so many families, they were busy with activities and the daily demands of life. Academically, they tended to focus more on their high school students in order to prepare them for college.

Robyn Vandewalle shares, “A couple of years ago, we realized that our younger students, now entering middle school, had skated by with less academic attention than would be ideal. Read more

5 Things Paul’s Comments on the Law Teach Us About Parenting

paul_blogPaul’s discussion of the Old Testament law in Romans and Galatians connects well with a practical life concern: How do we effectively parent our children? In particular, one question parents regularly face has to do with what part rules play in raising children. Since Paul actually uses the raising of children as an analogy to explain the role of the law (Galatians 3:24-26; 4:1-7; Romans 8:14-17), perhaps we should turn the analogy on its head and ask if there is anything we can learn about raising children from Paul’s teaching about the law.

What can we learn about raising children from Paul’s teaching about the law? Five things: Read more

Find Your Family Mission

Many hands togetherDoes your family have a ministry or mission? Moving overseas is not the only way to serve. Our fragmented society does all it can to “divide and conquer” our families, even Christian homeschooling families, with too many activities, different schedules, jobs, sports, and more. Even at church, we all-too-often find our family members heading in multiple directions. Read more

Hi, I’m Penny

I’m not one of those moms who wanted to homeschool from the moment I first heard about it. In fact, when homeschooling was first brought to my attention, I thought it was a crackpot idea. My oldest child was only 3 months old and school was a customary part of childhood, in my mind. It wasn’t until my son was within a few months of kindergarten entry that I took a second and closer look at homeschooling. Because he was already teaching himself to read but really struggled in the area of fine motor skills, I realized that he was not going to easily fit into the one-size-fits-all classroom setting.

Read more

This Was the Year the Adults Gave Up

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Columnist Joel Stein in the December 21 issue of TIME (p. 174) labeled 2015 as “The Year the Adults Gave Up.”

Stein writes:  “All kids know the one, immutable truth that is the source of all their power:  Adults give up.  They’re lazy.  That’s why they still have cable and landlines, and why their kids ultimately get all the ice cream, iPad games and Smosh videos they want.  So it’s no surprise that after years of enduring all that sexting, app-ing and startup-ing, 2015 was the Year the Adults Gave Up.  Even the most responsible workers in journalism, copy editors, just let me capitalize four words for no reason.”

Joel Stein has a way with words, and his article is provocative.  But is he correct in his assertion that parents en masse are giving up?  Read more

Real Homeschool Moms Share Spiritual and Practical Advice

Mom adviceMuch has changed since I first began my homeschooling journey in 1991. I remember feeling quite the fashionista with my spiral perm, denim dress, and white tennis shoes with bobby socks. Of course fashion is not the only thing that has, quite thankfully, changed over the years. The climate of homeschooling has changed as well. The resources that parents have available to them today are abundant. Many universities no longer question a transcript from a homeschooled applicant, and as a matter of fact, many of them seek out and welcome homeschoolers. Yet, even with all the advances within the homeschooling community, some things never change. I polled some real homeschool moms with whom I am friends—some veteran, some still in the midst of the great homeschooling adventure—and asked them what they wish they had known when they started homeschooling. Here is their sage spiritual and practical advice. Read more

Torrey Academy’s Holiday Reading List

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Every Christmas, the Torrey Academy tutors get together for a Christmas party, and the main event at this party is reading aloud G.K. Chesterton’s Ballad of the White Horse. It’s not a particularly Christmasy tale (it’s about King Alfred’s defeat of Guthram and his Danes at Ethandune) but it is beautifully written and both heart-wrenching and hopeful. It’s always wonderful to be able to read a book of your own choosing during Christmas break, but it’s even more delightful to read a book aloud with your friends, and that is why we chose a poetry reading to begin our Christmas celebrations. You all, unfortunately, won’t fit into the Torrey office to join us for our reading, but I can offer suggestions for texts you will enjoy reading at home. The following list consists of books particularly conducive to an evening spent together with family or friends around a fire at home, or, since we’re in Southern California, perhaps around a bonfire ring at the beach.

  1.     Tolkien Letter from Father ChristmasTolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas. This book is a collection of letters from Father Christmas that Tolkien wrote for his own children over twenty years, which were delivered to them each Christmas. They contain tales of the various adventures and travails of Father Christmas and his helpers, including one particularly unlucky North Pole Bear. Some editions contain Tolkien’s own delightful illustrations.

  2. SayersDorothy Sayers’ The Man Born to Be King. This series of twelve short plays on the life of Jesus were originally broadcast as radio plays on the BBC from 1941–1942. The plays begin with the birth of Jesus, and continue through his death and resurrection. Though only the first few are properly about the Christmas story, it is good to be reminded of the entire story of Jesus’ incarnation that began with his birth in Bethlehem.

  3. plato_Plato’s Meno. This might seem like an odd suggestion for Christmas reading. However, it is an excellent dialogue to spark discussions about virtue and education, which I think is great for any time of year. Additionally, Platonic dialogues are delightfully written, and their dialectic form make them particularly suited for reading aloud.

  4. snowboundJohn Greenleaf Whittier’s epic poem Snowbound. This poem is particularly fitting since Biola’s neighboring city, Whittier, is named after him, but most residents I’ve asked haven’t read anything by him. Whittier was one of the Fireside Poets, along with Longfellow and others, so named for their works’ suitability to be read by families together by the fireside. Snowbound is perhaps not quite as good as Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha or Evangeline, but it does raise interesting questions about the pull of nostalgia in a time of change, as the poem was written about a dying way of life at the end of the Civil War. This pull of nostalgia is often particularly felt at Christmas, and Whittier’s poem gives voice to some of those deeply held feelings.

  5. DickensCharles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Yes, this story is familiar to everyone, and perhaps even feels a little cliché to some. However, reading Dickens’ actual words is a different experience from watching a movie adaptation, and movies are how most of us are familiar with the story. Dickens is a great story-teller, and since this is a shorter novella, it’s perfect for reading out loud.

Students: Why You Should Care About a General Education

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As a teacher, I’ve heard numerous students claim such things as, “I am only going to be an electrician, so I don’t need a college degree” or “I’m planning on just staying home with my kids, so I don’t really need an education.” These statements are troubling, for more than one reason. The first is tangential to my point, but worth noting: using language such as “only” or “just” to describe your future occupation does a disservice to it and to you as a pursuant of it. Our society would be in serious trouble if we had no electricians or mechanics or janitors, and taking care of a home is a much bigger job than the word “just” implies. Jobs that keep society running are important. A similar problem happens in the reverse; I’ve heard students say, “I am going to be a physicist, so why should I read Shakespeare?” The “only” is implied here; it may be true that you will become a physicist, but surely you won’t just be a physicist and have no other duties or interests. Everyone—electricians, mechanics, physicists, teachers, parents—are humans, and, as humans, you need more than just vocational training to flourish. Read more

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