Dabney Hedegard on Being a Professional Patient, Author, and Homeschooling Mom

(Elizabeth here! Today I am proud to introduce author and homeschooling mom, Dabney Hedegard. I first met Dabney at a writing conference where she was trying to sell a memoir about her life. Her story is one of the most powerful I’ve ever heard, and the moment I found out she was also a homeschooling mom, I knew I had to have her here on The Journal! She is an absolute sweetheart and one of the most friendly people I know. Please give her a warm welcome by leaving a comment or two. And now, Dabney!)

Dabney & FamilyGarden School: Dabney, can you tell us what made you decide an alternative education was right for your family?

Dabney Hedegard: After battling cancer twice (once while pregnant) and surviving four near-death experiences by my 30s, I honestly didn’t know how many days I’d have left to spend with my children, let alone teach them about life. So the short answer is, my clock was ticking. Homeschooling equaled precious time with my kids.

GS: What has been some of your greatest challenges as a homeschooling mom?

DH: Other than the classic furrowed brow from strangers and the, “Oh,” I receive after explaining why my kids are out of school, walking around CVS at 11:00 a.m. with me?

All kidding aside, I’d say teaching four children with different learning styles.

I assumed that since my first daughter sat for hours while I read aloud her history/geography/science subjects, that my second child would naturally follow suit. When daughter number two began kindergarten, I pulled out my favorite literature-based Sonlight curriculum, and read away. Only she twaddled fingers, yawned, and shrugged when I asked pop-quiz questions.

This obstinacy wouldn’t fly. Not at my Hedegard Academy, where the headmistress prided herself on bringing the child to the Sonlight standard. I reread the paragraph and slowed my speech to be certain my five-year-old daughter (who happened to be adopted from China) heard me.

Again, I got the blank stare and a shrug. It took me a year to realize my China-doll was a visual learner and enjoyed workbooks and DVD tutorials.

What’s that?

This workbook stuff flew in the face of everything I’d researched on how to be an awesome homeschool teacher. “Don’t do what schools do,” I’d always read. “You homeschool to give them a better education, which includes reading living books!”

Well, it turns out that my second child thrives when given workbooks and brightly-colored curricula. Eh, I surrendered my pride, learned from my mistakes, and discovered this child God blessed us with is wicked-smart—and she’s not an avid reader, but a superb memorizer and mathematician.

Sadly, I wouldn’t find out until the end of her first grade year that she had mild hearing loss in both ears. I thought I was a horrible mother until her doctor told me, “Whatever you’re doing to help with her pronunciation, keep it up. Her speech is incredible considering her hearing limitations. You might want to move her to the front of the class in school, though.”

“Well, that will be easy. I homeschool.”

“Oh,” his brow furrowed.

I couldn’t help but smirk.

GS: Conversely, what are some of the greatest advantages in your opinion?

DH: I have the freedom to reinforce that God has a plan for their lives. We all need someone to believe in us, and know that those desires placed on our hearts are there for a reason. Daily fostering that gift and watching it grow is a privilege.

Secondly, my kids love to cook, bake, read (well, three of them), paint, and write. These are activities they see me do, so they naturally follow what’s modeled. I’ve never required them to write at a young age, but since I’m an author, they see me set aside time for what I love most. Writing is fun for them. (Please don’t tell them it’s an academic requirement.)

When God IntervenesGS: You recently wrote a memoir about some pretty miraculous things that happened in your life. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

DH: I could tell you that at age 25 the doctor discovered a football-sized tumor in my chest. I could also tell you that my greater fear of the unknown grew in my belly, inches below this mass: a six week old baby. But what I’ve learned is that life sometimes isn’t in the living. It’s in the surviving. That’s where our eyes readjust to the truths surrounding our circumstances.

10 years and four near-death experiences later, I figured out that life isn’t so much about me. It’s about what He wants to do through me. When God Intervenes (Tyndale House Publishers) is a story about an ordinary girl in search of hope.

GS: I think pretty much every homeschooling mom struggles with time management. How did you manage to write a book and homeschool, and what advice could you give to other moms who are struggling to balance their time?

DH: You can’t hear me, but I’m laughing pretty hard behind my computer screen, because there’s never enough hours in the day, it seems. The bottom line is: you make time for what’s important to you.

In the beginning, I scheduled my days into half-hour increments. I allotted time for school activities and evenings with my husband (if I didn’t pencil my man in, he may have been forgotten). Writing always followed my morning devotions. It had to. With limited freedom to think in silence, I woke at 5:00 am to scrawl the words out. I did this on and off for a little over four years.

Towards the end (the last six months), after my manuscript was picked up, my schedule went out the window. I’d wake a 2:00 a.m. with this spectacular thought (all God) and I’d write until 7:00 a.m., then crash for a few hours. Thankfully, my husband or my mother-in-law had the flexibility to help in the mornings or sometimes in the afternoons when I needed naps to keep up my nighttime habits. But, it was worth the sacrifice of sleep.

That’s what it boils down to: sacrifice. When God puts something on your heart, don’t question it. Run after it with everything you have, and expect Him to show up for the rest. The rewards far outweigh the effort. My kids have a legacy to pass on and the world has the opportunity to read the undeniable power of prayer and the proof that miracles still exist.

GS: What part does your faith play in your role as both a homeschooling mom and in your daily routine?

DH: Without Jesus, I wouldn’t have the patience to teach.

Let’s be honest. I’m human and determined and like things done my way. When you have a house full of kiddos, things typically don’t go as planned. This is when mommy needs an Almighty Counselor to stabilizer her semi-control freakish tendencies.

So the days I wake late and skip my quiet times, my now 10-year-old China-doll can sniff out my spiritless state just by looking at me. She typically asks, “Mommy, have you read your Bible today?”

After confirming that, no I haven’t, she’s said on more than one occasion, “Why don’t you go spend time with Jesus. I’ve got breakfast.”

No lie.

There’s me inside of me and God inside of me. One is obviously more consistently peace-filled. How lucky are we that we can tap into His goodness every single day? Glory.

GS: What’s one thing you wish you would have known when you first started homeschooling?

DH: To chill out and not worry so much about what other people think.

And, that it’s not so much about which curriculum you use, but the time spent investing in your child. I was a die-hard Sonlight junkie. I mean, any chance I could, I sang Sonlight’s praises because my firstborn, who is now fourteen, excelled so rapidly and tested years ahead of her grade. Then when my second child floundered using my pedestal curriculum, we turned to workbooks and other supplementary tools. She still succeeded.

This year, now that all four of my children are school-aged, we switched curriculums yet again and joined a homeschooling community called Classical Conversations. The kids congregate one day a week and learn all of their history, geography, math, English grammar, science, art/music, and Latin facts from tutors. The parents then spend the rest of the week reviewing and delving deeper into each subject. The younger kids use games and memorize information, which again thwarts the technique I so once loved. But so far, this program works, too. Even for my wiggly 8-year-old son. That’s a first.

When tucking my youngest five-year-old into bed at night, I hear her pray, “Thank you God for Classical Conversations.” I know that she loves what we’re doing, and it took much adapting on my part to get there.

It’s not so much about the curriculum as it is about them loving to learn. Find what’s right for your family. Flexibility is the key. That, and lots of prayer.

GS: Any last words or advice for our readers?

DH: Make it pleasurable for everyone.

If the kids hide when you pull out the curriculum, this might be an indication something needs to change. Not that it’s your job to cave to their reactions, but listen to what they love and adapt. This makes for a much more gratifying school experience.

Oh, and do what homeschooling guru Todd Wilson says: “Enjoy them while you can. One day they’ll be gone.”

Thank you so much for coming on, Dabney! It was a pleasure to have you!

Readers: Find a link to my review of Dabney’s book When God Intervenes by clicking on the “Freebies” tab!

About Dabney:

Dabney HedegardDabney Hedegard is an author, speaker, and professional patient whose four near-death experiences are chronicled in a fast-paced memoir, When God Intervenes (Tyndale House Publishers, July 2013). Her journey of uncertainty and miraculous intervention is one she hopes will help others realize that God has the perfect plan for their life, even in the midst of their pain.

Dabney has been featured on In the Market with Janet Parshall, Chris Fabry Live!, and The Bob Dutko Show, to name a few. She and her husband live in West Palm Beach, Florida with their four children. She enjoys interacting with readers at dabneyland.com.

Make Room For Rest

    by Elizabeth Veldboom

Sitting in church, I stared in shock at the picture on the side screens. It felt as though the pastor had gotten inside my head and projected what was there for the entire world to see.

I’d been praying the day before, begging God to show me what was wrong with me. I was depressed and exhausted, but I couldn’t figure out why.

leaking-bucket[1]In response, God gave me a vision of a bucket being filled with water. However, because the bucket was punctured with holes all around, the water flowed out as quickly as it went in.

It was the very same image I was looking at now.

When He’d first shown it to me, I’d immediately felt something click. Yes! I thought. That’s exactly how I feel, Lord! Like you’re pouring into me with all of your grace and love, and yet, it’s going out just as quickly as it’s coming in. I should be filled to overflowing! What does it mean? Why am I so full of holes?

He’d been silent then, but now, staring at the magnified version of what had been in my head the day before, the message was clear: it definitely had something to do with the bucket.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had God grab an image from your brain and broadcast it to an entire church, but this was a first time for me. Let’s just say I didn’t fall asleep in that service.

Pastor Hooper’s message centered on how we all have three “tanks” that need to be filled: physical, spiritual, and emotional. That particular day he focused on the third–our emotional tanks.

He talked about how important our emotional tanks are and how we can have so many things we’re pouring ourselves out for, we have no time to be filled back up.

I wonder if you can relate to that image as well? As a homeschooling mom, you have so many things that vie for your attention and time. Spouse, friends, kids, lessons, laundry, volunteering, boss, Bible Study. The list goes on!

If we’re not careful, we can have so many obligations and duties that we pour ourselves out faster than we can fill ourselves back up.

So what do we do to ensure we’re not trying to give out of a leaky heart? It’s important to realize that we all need time for rest in our lives. Without it, we set ourselves up for exhaustion and burnout.

Here are three quick ways we can all make rest a priority:

1) Resolve to Make Room

Unfortunately, rest doesn’t just happen. It’s something that has to be worked for. Kind of an oxymoron, I know.

But if you’re still waiting for that magical “someday” on a beach in Hawaii, you’re gonna be waiting a long time.

You’re the only one who can make time for you. I can guarantee it won’t be your kids who make the time. Neither will it be your husband, boss, or children’s soccer team.

As one of my favorite quotes says: “If you don’t do you, you doesn’t get done.”

2) Read. My. Lips: No

If we want to maintain a healthy balance in our lives and home, we have got to learn how to say no. If not, we’ll end up with a schedule filled with a thousand people-pleasing tasks and only a handful of God-honoring ones.

But it can be extremely hard to know when and how to say no, which is why we need the Holy Spirit to help us discern both our own limitations and whether or not a certain activity is worth our time.

Learn to bring any decisions you face concerning a time-commitment or emotional investment to the throne of God before committing, and then act on whatever He tells you to do. If it’s a yes, then trust Him for the strength and energy to help you complete the task. If it’s a no, then trust Him with that as well.

We cannot do it all, and we shouldn’t try.

3) Reschedule Time for Rest

Finally, make room for yourself to rest. Literally schedule it if you have to! Maybe rest for you means one day per month where hubby takes the kids and you treat yourself to a spa day. Or maybe it means taking that date night you’ve scheduled for the day your kids turn eighteen, or spending a night out with the girls. It could also be some sort of hobby like painting or gardening.

There are so many options, and I encourage you to have fun with them! Rest is not rest if you won’t have fun while doing it.

If you’re unsure what gives you rest, start now by setting some time aside to pray and begin writing a list of things you enjoy. (As a special bonus, check out the “Freebies” tab for a few ideas to get you started!)

The next time you begin to feel overwhelmed, pull out your list and pick something to do to recharge your batteries.

Before God got my attention, I wasn’t doing a very good job of making room for rest in my life. I felt guilty whenever I acknowledged needing rest or told someone no, feeling as though it was selfish or lazy of me. However, He has since helped me see that it’s not selfish or lazy at all. Accepting rest when you need it simply means allowing God to minister to you before trying to minister to others.

When we set safeguards around our heart and time, we can love and give on a deeper level, without worrying that it will empty us in return.

But the greatest rest of all is the kind only He can give:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

(Matthew 11:28.)

Is it hard for you to allow yourself to rest? If you had one day completely to yourself, how would you spend it?

P.S. Check back this Friday when we’ll have a very special guest interview with author Dabney Hedegard. Find out the one thing she wishes she would have known when she first started homeschooling, what she does to try and balance her time, and why she calls herself a “professional patient.” You won’t want to miss it!


Elizabeth V. PicElizabeth Veldboom is a proud 2009 graduate from The Garden School, as well as a graduate from Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. Along with working as one of The Garden School’s preschool teachers, she also enjoys writing and has been published in places like Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters and CBN.com. She’d love connecting with you, so visit her blog anytime at http://www.thefearlist.wordpress.com.

To Everything There is a Season


    By Monica Cappelli

(Editor’s note: Please excuse us for the delay in posts. We’ve been having some technical difficulties and are working diligently to fix them. We’ll resume our regular posting as soon as possible.)

Autumn = Baking.

Muffins. Bread. Cake. Pies. When autumn days are crisp and a roaring fire warms the night, my circadian clock chimes the magic words, “Let’s bake!” My family agrees.

Autumn is a wonderful time to bring your kids into the kitchen. Yes, as a homeschooling mom and nerd, I appreciate the math lessons inherent in any baking project. As I parent two ten-year-olds, I love having a fun and delicious way of teaching basic homemaking skills such as planning a dessert to complement dinner (especially if you plan to eat dessert first), shopping for a recipe and, best of all, kitchen clean-up. Gifting baked goods is also a yummy opportunity to teach your child the Godly art of hospitality: Invite a friend for tea and scones; be a great guest and take along a treat when you’re invited to someone’s house for dinner, and give baked goods to home-bound or sickly people in the community. And nothing says “geography” like preparing desserts or meals from other times and cultures. Most importantly, though, I love the creativity my kids experience as they measure, mix, adjust, embellish, decorate, and anticipate eating their yummy confections.

Over the years, strangely enough, I’ve discovered a happy truth: even ugly baked goods are delicious! Trust me, I’ve received several unappetizing custom creations over the years, and I have never ever turned one down. Lopsided loaves, rubbery rolls, fallen cakes, terribly “crispy” cookies, sunken cupcakes, and even sad-looking pies (private joke, dear Renee), can be redeemed with laughter and a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s — or a serious whirl of whipped cream! Moreover, a sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar is like fairy dust to an ugly pie
crust! In other words, you’ll be able to survive with grace and encourage your child’s earliest forays into the world of baking. Know that friends, kind neighbors, aunts and uncles, grandparents and pastors (especially the last two) are willing recipients of even the most disastrous dessert gift when presented by your child with their very proudest grin.

Last week I posted some of the kids’ and my favorite bread recipes (yes, on Facebook! Yes, I spend too much time there. Yes, it’s a problem.) That post led to requests for gingerbread from friends. Those requests (slurping solicitations, really) led to this article. Which leads me to invite you all to post or link to kid-friendly recipes or some of your other autumn favorites!

P.S. Those ugly pie crusts? Yep. They’re mine. Somebody, help me, please. I could really use a good high altitude recipe!


    Monica Blog PicMonica Cappelli is a wife and the mother of four wonderful children. Over the years her family has been blessed to experience home, public, private, and parochial schooling. This has given Monica an appreciation for the strengths and challenges of the educational choices available to families. A successful experience is possible in any of these situations with the support of community and prayerful, encouraging parents. Monica strongly believes that parental academic expectations and “leadership by example” in the areas of competence, autonomy, and service set the stage for a young person’s entrance into a successful, joyful, and productive adulthood.

Plain of View

    By Shilo Bartlett

IMG_0065Our children as a whole are incredible creations. They have minds that were meant to be shaped and molded from a very young age into what they will eventually become as adults. I personally haven’t been a mom for an incredibly long amount of time (11 years to be exact), but I have observed enough to know that it is much better in the long run to encourage that shaping and molding than to push against it.

I say that because we are in a phase right now with our children where we are greatly appreciating our decision to homeschool them with the Garden School as our supplement. Our kids are shaping and molding every day, and we are watching this happen rather than observing it happen from a distance. The children imitate behaviors they see every day, and we are glad that we can have them watch us and then help change what needs to be changed. We understand that days are not to be thrown away; that every moment needs to be grasped, and that the little things in life matter very, very much.

I have had moments lately with my children where they have challenged me greatly in the area of discipline. They have chores every day that must be taken care of, and then their school needs to be attended to. And we have come to an agreement that they have to be somewhat self-motivated, as I am only one person, not five, and cannot be constantly following their little hands everywhere to pick up after them. But along the way, we have found a very nice key to life… something I have known, and yet hadn’t fully grasped until recently. Let me share a short story to illustrate:

We as a family were at the Sukkot festival at the school a few weeks back, going from booth to booth and enjoying the crafts. At one particular booth, I sat down with my girls on the grass to help them. A little one-year-old girl from another family came alongside us and started watching what we were doing. Pretty soon, we had her saying the words and touching the craft too. We moved to the next booth, and the same thing happened. She was right there beside us on the grass, watching attentively and trying to touch and say what we were doing. Now, the interesting thing is, the minute that we stood up (i.e., were above her plain of view), she would wander away and find something else that she could touch and feel. But the minute we were back down on the grass, she was right there.

Why is this important? Well, my kids and I get along much better when I am living in what I like to call “their plain of view.” Just like the little girl on the grass, she does not see what you see, or hear what you hear. She has her own little world going on at her level every day! Same thing applies to my kids. When I am on their “level,” I see things I would have never seen, hear things I would never have heard if I was just living in “my world.” My children are teaching me every day about all the new amazing discoveries they make, just by being them!

Now the neat part about this is that when applied to our school at home, this principle becomes (and has become), an integral part of how I interact with them. When school needs to be done, I take into account what they have been doing, what they are doing currently, and then how best to apply that to their learning habits. As a practical tool, it has meant the world to us.

I hope that you have enjoyed this little excursion into our world!

How do you apply your child’s learning into your school plan every day? Let me know in the comments–I would love to hear your thoughts!


Shilo_BShilo Bartlett is a super organized, over reaching, strong-willed mother of three. She loves having the hands-on time with her kids that homeschooling and The Garden School have allowed her. She grew up in the Colorado River Valley, and went to public school until 6th grade. Her mother homeschooled her and her three siblings through high school, and then she attended CMC graduating with a degree in Applied Science in the Veterinary Field. She has always read voraciously, and written throughout her life for many publications. Her family is her passion. Her driving motivation is to encourage a love of learning.

Handling Grief With Grace

    By Dave Miller

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." --A.A. Milne.

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” –A.A. Milne.

I knew I would have to write about this sooner or later. I’ve been able to get a lot of it out on my Facebook posts. (What a surprisingly effective tool Facebook has become for allowing us to bear one another’s burdens!) A college friend commented on one such post, “Being your Facebook friend has been a crash course in how to handle grief with grace. God’s blessings will continue to sustain you and your family, David.” And so it is and so they have. So now I’m putting down a few of the ways that, by God’s grace, I’ve dealt with my own grief.

It is certain that no one is immune from loss. Who has not been touched by the death of a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, a parent, a sibling, or a close friend? For the youngest among us, the passing of a cherished pet ushers in the knowledge of “the way of all flesh.” May my own crash course help in your own grief observed or to come.

The inexorable facts:

At 11:46 p.m. on Friday, February 15th, the cell starting to play my ring tone. I remember thinking, “Who could be calling at this hour?” It was the phone call no parent ever wants to get. Renee and I were in bed watching a forgettable movie that we’d downloaded from Amazon.com. We did not finish the movie that evening and I doubt we ever will.

“Are you the father of Marquelle Miller?”

“Yes.” I’m thinking this is not good.

“This is ____________ from Victim Assistance.” My first thought was Kellie had been assaulted. What else could this be about? She was living with her friend in Denver, a big city with more crime than in our little town.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you that your daughter was killed in a car accident this evening…”

“No!” I slam the laptop shut. By now Renee is standing up with the realization that something is seriously wrong. I speak out the words that will change her life forever, “Kellie was killed in a car accident.” As the sentence, like electricity, flows into her being, her legs buckle and she kneels on the floor crying out, “No God, please, no, not my little girl, not my Kellie…”

In incoherent sentences, I try to talk to the victim assistance woman. (She came over a half hour later, and was very kind to us in our grief.)

This was the beginning of a journey that we–and many of you who knew and loved our daughter and Malachi, the young man who was also killed–have been shoved into. It’s one we would never choose nor wish on anyone, but our path is irrevocable. As is all of ours…

Marquelle "Kellie" Miller and Malachi Bilson.

Marquelle “Kellie” Miller and Malachi Bilson.

Though it’s excruciating to remember those first traumatic moments, I’d like you to have a window into such a gut-wrenching loss and how I dealt with the events that followed. I can’t go into much detail here but hopefully enough to reassure you that you can handle more than you ever thought you could, even the death of a loved one.

In this kind of a loss, some of the things you do will be automatic, some will take more thinking, but be at peace with whatever you do or decide.

We drove through the night with our family to be near Kellie. We stayed at our niece’s house in darkness. In the morning, I contacted the insurance company, spoke to the coroner, made a decision about seeing the body—he advised me to wait. Try to sleep, drink water, can’t eat. My son-in-law proved to be a godsend as he made calls to the towing yard and the police when the grief would overcome me.

Arrangements have to be made: Transportation of the bodies (both Kellie and Malachi came back over the mountains for the last time together in a van), funeral preparations (some funeral homes require payment upon services rendered. Ours let us pay later), burial or cremation (burial), open casket or closed (open). Will the graveside burial be for close friends and family or open? We decided to have the burial be small and the memorial service be for the community at large. Upwards of 700 people filled the local high school auditorium to remember Kellie and Malachi.

Dealing with the raw grief in the first days: I built Kellie’s coffin. It seemed the right thing to do. Activity is good. A dear friend helped me design and build it along with his son, my son, and son-in-law. My two brothers helped put the finishing stain on the Alderwood casket. It turned out to be beautiful beyond words, a worthy container to hold such precious contents. Her cousins made the cushion and found a suitable blanket. They wrote poems and verses on the cushion and the boys wrote and drew on the boards below. With every board I cut came a little healing, even though the realization of what I was building would force its way in.



casketbuilding group

There is so much more to say. Just know that people will come around you, help you take care of details, support you, love on you, feed you, say well-meaning but sometimes insensitive things to you. Let them. This is their way to help you deal with your grief. It will also help them heal from their own sorrow.

Perhaps you’d like to get more of the “raw footage.” I aired my grief to the public on Facebook. Scroll down to February 15, 2013. I’ll warn you, though, the cost of tuition is your tears. For it is in your tears that healing comes. http://www.facebook.com/davidjoelmiller

Feel free to add your comments either below or on the FB posts.



    A professional educator since earning his teaching credentials at San Diego State in 1985, Dave’s 26-year teaching career has been both challenging and rewarding, often in the same day. He and wife Renee have lived and taught in San Diego, Germany, and Colorado, traveled to dozens of countries and are still raising six great kids. Along with his role as Guidance Counselor at The Garden School, Dave has been reinventing himself as a work-at-home dad and recently promoted to Vice President at Lightyear Wireless. Now he gets to teach people how to live the life of their dreams.

Raising Our Children to be Like Jesus

    by Renee Miller

Image by Stephen C. Weber.

Image by Stephen C. Weber.

One aspect I love most about Classical and Christian Education is introducing our children to the greatest minds of history and the heroes of the faith. Jesus says in Luke 6:40: “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.”

I believe this scripture is saying that no one is above Jesus, the ultimate teacher. It is my job as a parent and homeschooler to lead my children to be like Jesus.

The Bible instructs us to raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord as we stand up, sit down, and live our lives. This gives me great motivation to continue to grow and learn myself. But it also worries me that I might be limiting my children. So as a humble mother who lives in a small rural town, I try to connect my children with both mentors as well as men and women throughout history who have walked with God and, “it was counted unto them as righteousness.” I’m constantly on the lookout for other mentors who can help my children be more like Jesus.

I find it interesting that who is teaching our children is given so little thought in our current culture. In a study done by the Barna Group Research Institute, upwards of 75% of children will leave the faith of their parents as adults. Is there a connection between who mentors/teaches them throughout their childhood and whether or not they stay faithful? I think so.

I’ve known a number of parents who haven’t left their children with even a babysitter until they turn five. Then they leave their vulnerable child with an adult they don’t even know for 40 hours, five days a week for the next 13 years. Somehow our culture has convinced us this is normal–even desirable–and to question this puts you out of the norm. And, honestly, most kindergarten teachers I know are lovely people, so it seems so reasonable at first.

This leads me to reflecting on comments I heard recently in a lecture by Voddie Baucham. He recounts how people always ask the same questions when they realize he homeschools his children. First, there is always the socialization question. (My answer: “I’m not sending them to school to become a socialist.”) The next question: Is it legal or approved by the government? (“Of course it’s legal and who made it the government’s job to teach my children?”) What struck him was the sameness of the objections. I’ve experienced these questions, too.

When the majority have been schooled by the government, we really do think more the same than we realize. This is in stark contrast to my experience working with our children. They rarely ask the same questions about anything. In contrast to the 75% of children raised in Christian homes but who attend government schools, 95% of homeschooled children will remain in the faith. These are the children who have grown up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, steeped in Biblical wisdom, and nourished by the great men and women of history.

It’s worth noting that the verse before Luke 6:40 reads, “[Jesus] told them this parable: ‘Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?’” Great mentors and teachers are to be found everywhere: in Scripture, in classic literature, in your community, in your home. These teachers will encourage our children to not only “keep the faith,” but to lead our children to be like Jesus.


    Renee is the founder and director of The Garden School and Cornerstone Classical School (as well as “The Miller Family School”). Though trained in the public school model–she has taught everything from first grade to junior high science–Renee’s first foray away from this system resulted in The Garden School. Renee holds a Master’s Degree in Teaching and Learning from Point Loma Nazarene College. She is a strong advocate for classical Christian education and an accomplished public speaker. The Millers currently live in a busy multi-generational household immersed in classical and Christian ideals and a whole lot of love.

Note of Apology

Note from the editor:

I would like to extend my sincere apologies for not having a new post last Friday, September 20th. I am the one responsible for getting new posts up, and because I was very ill that day I was unable to fulfill that obligation. Please accept my most sincere apology as we always endeavor to provide exceptional material on a regular basis for you, our readers. We so appreciate your readership, and will look forward to seeing you again as we return to our regular schedule this coming Friday, September 27th.

Thank you,
Elizabeth Veldboom

7 Ways to Conquer Your Morning Routine

Last week Monica Cappelli shared a few links to some great resources. Continuing in the spirit of that, we found an awesome article with some great tips about how best to maximize your mornings.

To read the article, visit “Joyful Mothering” here: http://joyfulmothering.net/7-ways-to-conquer-your-morning-routine/

Time to Share Your Great Learning Resources and Ideas


    By Monica Cappelli

Reading. Writing. Math. Grammar. Vocabulary. Logic. History. Foreign Languages. Geography. Art. Science. Life-skills. Drama. Sports.




Science! Advanced math! Science! Advanced math with basket weaving?

Since you’re the “most” fun, active, patient, upbeat, confident, multi-talented, knowledgeable and energetic parent in the world you’ve probably never struggled or worried about teaching any of these subjects. Good for you! But since there can be only one “most awesome parent ever,” the rest of us . . . well, we need help!

Enter family games, online learning, co-op learning, apprenticeships/internships, field trips, travel, and community resources. It’s important to use these and any other opportunities you can find to insert variety, depth, experiential learning, and fun into your family’s learning journey. Burn-out, fatigue, frustration, boredom, resistance, and daydreaming can result from a dearth of variety. Beware: your children might begin to exhibit some of these symptoms, too. Hang in there!

Today I will scratch the surface of the world of digital enrichment opportunities. Following are a few of both the online and software resources I have found to be of tremendous help to my family.

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courseware): Free college courses?! Yes! Moreover, they neither require matriculation nor discriminate based on age. MOOCs will issue certificates of completion, and some may offer limited fee based credit courses in the near future. These are great tools to supplement, enrich, or accelerate your student’s education, to sample college level work, or to “observe” and prepare before taking a similar for-credit college course. Another benefit is cultural enrichment, as students gain meaningful real-world insights by engaging in mandatory discussion forums with students from all over the world. I thoroughly enjoyed the classes I took last spring after learning about MOOCs from a homeschooled 8th grader in a local homeschool group – so parents, let’s go! These MOOC aggregator websites list and link to thousands of online class opportunities: http://www.mooc-list.com or http://www.class-central.com

Individual K-12 subjects, and even full curricula, are readily available online or on disc. Computers are supremely well suited for certain tasks. Typing instruction; flash card creation and review; computer programming (SCRATCH, and others); math drills (Reflex Math, IXL, or many free math websites); spelling/vocabulary exercises (Spelling City, Literacy Planet, Word Voyage [I LOVE Word Voyage!]); oral reading fluency (Reading Assistant, Fast ForWord and others); curriculum enrichment videos (Discovery Streaming, Brain Pop); and Theater (PBS online, and Digital Theater.com). These great tools can help alleviate concerns like eye-rolling boredom, “Am I covering all of the basics?” “How do I fill those aggravating gaps?” or, “Hey, I need a little help here!”

There are many on- and off-line resources available – please share your favorites in the comments section below. Go ahead and post your questions, too – I’m sure you’ve got a few!

Our blog readers look forward to sharing and learning about the great learning tools your family enjoys!


Monica Cappelli is a wife and the mother of four wonderful children. Over the years her family has been blessed to experience home, public, private, and parochial schooling. This has given Monica an appreciation for the strengths and challenges of the educational choices available to families. A successful experience is possible in any of these situations with the support of community and prayerful, encouraging parents. Monica strongly believes that parental academic expectations and “leadership by example” in the areas of competence, autonomy, and service set the stage for a young person’s entrance into a successful, joyful, and productive adulthood.

You Might Be From The Garden School If…


    By Elizabeth Veldboom

1) You know that “The Rock” is more than just an ex-wrestler turned lousy actor.

2) You have ever had nightmares about forgetting your lines.

3) You know that Latin is not a dead language. It should be, but somehow they keep reviving it.

4) The names “George Grant” or “Paul Johnson” have ever struck fear into your heart.

5) An “Opportunity” means more to you than an amazing chance coming your way. Rather, it is a strategic plot designed to get you to ponder an early demise.

6) You’ve ever had class at a Starbucks and/or Target.

7) The Morley knows all. Period.

8) You could make the Guinness World Records for the most khaki ever worn on a single person.

9) You have seen at least one thing blow up during a 40-hour presentation.

10) You have ever spontaneously burst out singing.

11) You compare every grandma you know to Nonny. Maybe even your own. Or really anyone.

12) You know who Nonny is.

Garden School teachers, parents, students, and grads–what did I miss?! What would you have put on this list? I’d love to hear what you come up with!

And for our readers from out of state: What out of this list caught your curiosity?! Let us know, and we’ll give you the story behind it!

Have fun, guys! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.


    Elizabeth Veldboom is a 2009 graduate from The Garden School, and a student in Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She has previously been published in places like Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters, and CBN.com. She has a huge heart for homeschooling families and would love connecting with you, so visit her blog anytime at http://www.thefearlist.wordpress.com