A Question of Honesty

by Hal | 8/25/2015 | 0 comments

A mother emailed us recently with a serious concern many of us have faced. Writing about her 11-year-old son, she explains, Our oldest lies. He lies about his involvement in incidents. He lies about anything that might paint him in an unfavorable light. We catch him exaggerating at times to make himself look better. We…
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August 24th, 2015

Planning Your New Homeschool Year

by Hal | 0 comments

Planning … it doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? When we look back at our more than two decades of homeschooling, though, we see that the years we planned well were much more productive than the years we flew by the seat of our pants.

It’s not that hard, really. The most important thing is to figure out the pace you need to keep up to get your goals accomplished this year. To do that, open up your curriculum and read the notes to the teacher in the front, you know, the part we automatically skip over. That’s the part that will often tell you how much you need to do each week!

Even if your curriculum doesn’t tell you, just take a look at the table of contents. How many lessons are there in a year? Are there tests in addition to that? A typical school year is 180 days, that’s about 36 weeks. If there are something like 30-36 lessons, tests and activities, you need to do one per week. If there are 60-70 or so, two per week. If there are 150 to 180, you’ll need to do one per day. See, just divide it up!

Once you know how much to do each week, you are pretty much set. You don’t want to plan each individual day’s activity until the week before you need it since you won’t know until then which days will be busy with doctor’s appointments or commitments. When you plan the days the week before, though, you’ll know which day is better for projects or experiments and which days are better for self-directed work.

Of course, you don’t have to plan ahead. You can just open up the books each morning and “do the next thing.” We’ve done that, too, but sometimes you can have some unpleasant surprises when April comes and you realize you’ve somehow gotten too far behind. Don’t despair, though, it’s amazing how quickly you can catch up when you cut out the fluff and just put your head down and do it. We’ve been there, too!

MBFLP - Summer Cover

If you’d like to hear more discussion about how we’ve approached planning, CLICK HERE and listen to episode 89 of our podcast Making Biblical Family Life Practical, “Planning For Your New School Year.”

And if you don’t even want to think about planning because you feel like a homeschool failure, here’s help. CLICK HERE to listen to our podcast on how to pick up the pieces and get going again!


Copyright 2015. Used with permission. All rights reserved by authors. Originally appeared August 5, 2015, in The Homeschool Minute™, an E-Newsletter published by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. Read this family education magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices. For free homeschool information visit ConsideringHomeschooling.info.

August 21st, 2015

Rivalry and Unity
Building Family Unity

by Hal | 0 comments

Family Unity - Pinterest

What can we do to build positive relationships in our family? How can we create a home life which encourages a sense of unity and teamwork, rather than constant competition and rivalry?

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August 17th, 2015

Rivalry and Unity
Getting Along With Siblings

by Hal | 0 comments

Hal and Melanie SugarLoaf Web (c)2009If you have siblings, you probably have rivalry. It’s a natural, human thing, and it’s plain from Scripture that it’s an expression of our fallen human nature. Think about Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers … and that’s just in Genesis. It’s a problem–and something God wants us to deal with it. Look at Proverbs 6:16-18:

These six things the LORD hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
A proud look, A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.

Besides the sin issue, rivalry between siblings makes our home into a battlefield and wrecks the peace of our daily life. What can we do about this?

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August 4th, 2015

What If Dad’s Not A Christian?

by Hal | 0 comments

Blog - Dad Not Christian - FB

A reader wrote:

[In your webinar,] you discussed how Dad is the first Hero and he should point the boys to the Ultimate Hero, Christ. We have a 9-year-old son, he is our only child, and my husband is not a Christian, but is tolerant of our going to church (without him) and our son going to AWANAs, so long as none of this affects him or his time, So, I’m wondering if you have any help or advice for when Dad is not a Christian or in a position to point boys to Christ, but is almost adversarial towards the Ultimate Hero?

The question of a spouse who doesn’t share your faith touches on so many issues and concerns. It’s certainly no new problem for believers — the apostle Paul dealt with it in the early church. But this question is specifically concerning the effect on raising your boy — what’s a Christian mother to do if her husband doesn’t have a Christian faith to pass on to his son?

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August 3rd, 2015

Tips for Learning Online

by Hal | 0 comments

Tips For Online Learning - FB


Years ago when we were newlyweds (and dinosaurs ruled the earth), we both took graduate classes by a extension program. A box of video tapes and textbooks arrived in the mail, and we arranged for some one to proctor our exams. It was a great improvement over the old “correspondence courses” we used to order from the back of magazines!

Years later, our homeschooled children take live classes over the Internet, including their tests. It’s a great improvement over the boxes of videotapes!

Online education is simply the next idea to allow students to learn from instructors a long way off. It can allow homeschoolers to take classes from top flight teachers, and it can take a load off the homeschool teacher, too. We’ve used online programs for four of our students so far, and even taught some ourselves; here are a few tips we’ve learned.

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July 30th, 2015

Coming of Age Ceremonies
6. Taking The Next Steps

by Hal | 0 comments

In this series, we’ve talked about why a formal “coming of age” ceremony can be useful. We discussed ideas about who to invite, who to have as a presenter, and what sort of presentation to have. Last post, we talked about the role of celebration – what sort of entertainment and fellowship you might include. After all, it’s not just teaching – it’s rejoicing at our son’s next step toward maturity!

Coming Of Age 6 - Pin

At the end of the day, though, the whole point of the ceremony is not just a special event for a day or a weekend — it’s a milestone along a pathway to independent adulthood. And guess what – this is where the parents really get to shine. 

The reason we have this celebration, after all, is to make a statement to the public and to our own family that our son has entered a new stage of his life. That means that things will be different from now on … and it’s the parent’s responsibility to start making that a reality. 

We know that maturity doesn’t happen with the 18th birthday, or the 21st, or the 13th. It’s a process of training, growth, and correction we call “growing up”! And it takes time and effort.

The Bible talks about this period in many places as “youth.” In our churches and homes, we often think of “youth” as “the older kids,” emphasis on “kids.” And the Biblical pattern does show that young men in the stage of “youthfulness” still need mentoring, teaching, or coaching, if you will. Yet there are many examples that show young men still in their youth or youthfulness who were husbands, fathers, missionary pastors, church planters, warriors, and kings. Youth is not childhood, it’s the younger stage of adulthood.

So how to we recognize this on a day-to-day basis?

There are many small ways we can recognize this change. To begin with, don’t group your young adult son with “the kids” or “the boys” or “the little ones” any more.  There is a definite break in our home between younger and older siblings, and we let our older sons stay up later, have more independence or at least more input into their daily plans, and go more places without their parents. If your Thanksgiving dinner has a “grown up” table and a separate table for “the kids,” it should be obvious where your young adult should be sitting!

At the same time, we start to change our parenting style from direction to advice. Your seven-year-old really needs a “benevolent dictator” to keep him on course and out of trouble. Your adult son needs a “trusted advisor” to help him think through decisions and makes his plans – but he’ll need to take responsibility for his final decisions and be willing to accept the consequences. The teen-aged years are our time of transition and training.

Coming Of Age 6 - FBTransition means gradual change, and sometimes you’ll have to repeat some things. We found we have to be both patient and persistent with our young adults. Even grown ups sometimes act childish – self-centered, demanding, thoughtless. We shouldn’t expect our young adults to be better behaved than we their parents! But we found that as we made this transition in our parenting, we stopped thinking, “Don’t do that – you’re embarrassing me!” and more often thought, “Don’t do that – you’ll embarrass yourself!” Remember this period of training will touch every aspect of their lives – spiritual, academic, social, work-related – and make the most of it!



We hope you found this series helpful in your thinking about the start of the big transition from childhood to independent adulthood. If you’d like to hear more of our thoughts and advice on the matter, you might enjoy these workshops available for download in our store:

Skipping Adolescence – Parenting Pre-Teens – Teaching Discernment – Passing The Baton

July 15th, 2015

Coming of Age:
5. Celebration Is Part of the Ceremony, Too!

by Hal | 0 comments

At our sons’ coming-of-age ceremonies, we aim to gather the wisdom of significant men in the young man’s life and offer encouragement, welcome, and exhortation in a public, family-oriented setting.

Coming Of Age 5 - Pin


But it’s not all teaching and ritual. Another thing we do is invite our guests to rejoice in this time of growth. Our family’s birthday celebrations are small affairs (as small as you can get with a family of ten plus some grandparents!), but this party is a big one we plan for months and years in advance!

The form of the entertainment, just like the form of the ceremony, is entirely up to you. We let the young man do most of the planning (with advice and consent of the parents) for location, activities, and food. It has been interesting to see how the event reflects the young man:

= One son hosted a hymn sing

= Another asked for a simple time of unstructured fellowship with friends and their families

= Another son who enjoyed the games of Ultimate Frisbee he played with the young adults after church, asked to organize the biggest game of Ultimate he could imagine (over sixty players took part, in the area of three soccer fields)

= Yet another worked with friends in the country to hold a turkey shoot on their rural property. (If you’re not familiar with the custom, it’s an old target shooting competition common in the South. The Cary Grant movie Sergeant York included the old-fashioned event using a live turkey; we followed the modern custom using paper targets and a Walmart gift card!)

For location, we’ve used the church fellowship hall, a friend’s back yard, our own home, or a city park.

For food, you could do anything from simple punch and cake, to a catered sit-down dinner. We’ve had buffet style (even pot luck) dinners, but find that a cook-out format works well with families; the expense is manageable, it’s easy to ask guests to bring side dishes, desserts, or beverages, and the usual outdoor venue makes cleanup easy and spills no problem.

We have also found it works well to have the activities first, then the meal time, and then the ceremony.  The meal or refreshment preparation can take place in the background while the younger guests, especially, have more interesting things to do (and therefore, there’s less crowding while the helpers are setting up the food). As the food wraps up, we move to the ceremonial part with the presentations, then close with prayer. The early busyness followed by food helps the little ones work off some energy and then settle down in time for the quieter part of the program.
Coming Of Age 5 - FB

Next: A Few Final Thoughts

June 29th, 2015

Celebrating Independence Day When You Don’t Feel Much Like It

by Hal and Melanie Young | 0 comments

Our podcast on Making Family Life Practical this week is our answer to our friends posting on social media that they are so worried about our country that they don’t really feel like celebrating the Fourth of July.  Click this link or graphic (after 10pm Monday!) to listen to the show.

Keep scrolling for our Independence Day gift for you!

MBFLP - Celebrating the Fourth When You are Worried


We would love to share our Independence Day Celebration Guide, with the documents, songs, verses, and recipes you need to celebrate with your family in a way that you can feel good about! Just sign up for our encouraging newsletter below and we’ll take you right there!

June 29th, 2015

Coming of Age: 4. Who Should Speak To The Next Young Man?

by Hal | 0 comments

We have a tradition of a formal coming-of-age ceremony we call a “Bar Chanon.”  This can take all kinds of forms but centers on a serious call to embrace the next stage of life for the young man.

Coming of Age Ceremonies Part 4 Who Speaks Hor

We think it’s only natural for the young man to be welcomed into the community by the voices of the older men he will be joining. When it’s time for our daughters to step into the ranks of young women, we’ll have a similar focus on older women teaching the younger (Titus 2:3-5)

The men we invite to take part are men who have some connection and significance in the young man’s life already. Obviously, we include Hal, the father, as the closest man and role model in their life. From there, you can include grandfathers, uncles, men and leaders in the church, and others like parents of friends, coaches, or teachers outside the immediate family.

Some parents we’ve talked to expressed concern over family members who didn’t share their convictions. It may be hard on family relationships if certain people were excluded, but they were worried that inviting them might make a mockery of the occasion.

If you’re in that situation, we’d encourage you to consider including them anyway. We’ve seen on many occasions that people often respond to the tone of a ceremony, even if it’s unexpected in their daily life (one that stands out in our memory is a militant atheist who came to our very Christ-centered wedding; we caught him on the video singing the hymns with gusto, and in fact, he volunteered in a key position the whole weekend).

Coming of Age Ceremonies Part 4 Who Talks Vert

One thing which will make them comfortable in the unfamiliar situation is to schedule their presentation late in the ceremony. They’ll be able to adjust the tone of their remarks to be in keeping with the flow of the ceremony, and they’ll have a feel for how long to speak and how to pace themselves.

It also helps to remember that the experience of growing up and assuming the role of manhood is not exclusive to any faith, culture, or philosophy. Someone whose personal code is quite at odds with your own may still share his experience with the value of integrity, diligence, work-life balance, health, or financial management. Even one who has a broken relationship in his past may have some hard-won lessons to share. If you have reason for concern, you might phrase your invitation as a request to share on a particular subject: “Uncle Bob, I’ve always admired the hard work you put in to pay your way through college. Would you be willing to share a few thoughts on the benefits of going the extra length to stay out of debt?”

What if a generation is missing? Both our fathers passed away before we were married, so there were no grandfathers to invite for our sons’ Bar Chanons. Instead, we asked our mothers to speak as representatives of the older generation in our family. We have been blessed with their contribution to the ceremony!

One surprise blessing was including older brothers in the mix. Our sons are close both in age and in affection, and the older ones have been delighted to share even a few years’ perspective with their younger brother. As parents, you can help an uneasy speaker with his preparation, too.

Next: Celebration Is Part of The Ceremony, Too

In His service,Hal Young Sugarloaf Web 150x150
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