Learning the Art of Discernment

Nike says, “Just do it.”  While spontaneous decisions work well at some points in life, there are other choices that require a depth of thought and consideration that won’t allow you to ‘just do it.’  Maybe something doesn’t feel right, or maybe it feels completely right…how will you know?  This is where discernment comes in to play.

To discern means to judge, evaluate, and distinguish.  Some people come by this naturally, while others must develop it, yet those who are gifted with discernment are often seen as judgmental, critical, and unloving.  However, we live in an age when ideas are spread globally within an amazingly short period of time, and discernment is the only way to cut through the noise and find the important, and correct, information.


A good discerner understands falsifiability and knows the difference between an argument and an assertion.  What should you know?

  • Argument – a claim supported by reason or logic
  • Assertion – an unsupported claim, often an opinion
  • Falsifiability – capacity for an argument or hypothesis to be proven wrong
  • Did you know – Facts can be both true AND false!!
  • Nice and charming do not equal honest.  Often when someone is accused of teaching something false, someone else will defend them by saying “But they are such a nice person.”

Decision-Making

In decision-making, the three steps of the discernment process are awareness, understanding and action.  All three are important — if you make a good decision, but fail to act, you’ve ultimately made a poor decision.  If you fail to apply consideration, and act hastily, you’ve not chosen well.  Therefore, it is important to go through the process completely.

Some decisions will be personal, such as where (or if) to attend college, where to move to, or whether to take that job.  Other decisions will be more general, yet no less important, such as who to vote for or how you feel about a particular issue of national / world importance.

Awareness

Know yourself.  This includes your hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses.  How do you perform under stress?  What is your ideal career / future plan / {insert decision here}?  How do others see you?

Start at the beginning.  What do you already know about the decision ahead of you?  What are the pros and cons, or the various factors?  What kind of support do you have?  Are there multiple perspectives involved?

Understanding

Give it time.  Not all decisions will have the luxury, but if you have the time to wait, do more investigating, and ruminate upon your decision, you may find that you do better.  No one is impervious to this process — folks familiar with scripture will remember that even Jesus agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

Spend Time in Thought / Meditation / Prayer.  After making a decision, but before action, you should feel a sense of inner peace with your decision.  This is a feeling of tranquility about the next steps, and not just relief that you’ve finally made a decision.

Action

Get going.  Whether this means applying to college, putting a down payment on a house, accepting that job, going into the voting booth, advocating for a group or issue, or however else your decision manifests itself…now is the time to act.

Evaluate.  Every action has a reaction, a consequence.  There are both good and bad consequences, external and internal.  Internally, how do you feel now that you’ve acted?  Do you still have that peace?  How have others reacted to your decision?  Do you need to reevaluate and course correct?

It is worth remembering that you can’t please all of the people all of the time.  Ultimately, you are the one who has to live with yourself, and so it is important to focus on the internal response.  (Obviously, if your decision was to commit a felony, there will still be an external response you need to heed….)


Developing Discernment

Practice through Literature

These books can be difficult for students to plow through at times, but the online unit studies help break down their components, allowing students to practice predicting and analyzing, both of which lead to stronger discernment.

Parents can use these books to teach kids to ask meaningful questions, recognize bias, and stand up for themselves…


Learn about Worldviews

In a world that is constantly struggling for peace, having a better understanding of belief systems and values can help us to understand different people and cultures…which may lay the foundation for a thoughtful progression amid a multitude of complex cultures.  These courses provide that background.

Be a Detective

Develop Supportive Skills

Read (or Watch) the News

Remember to look at sources from both left-leaning and right-leaning media.  How do the stories compare in tone and coverage?  Try to find one topic and look at the stories on each side.

Celebrating the Winter Holidays in Your Homeschool

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Winter brings a plethora of holidays, and for many families a long break for resting. Here are activities, books, and resources for incorporating the holidays into your homeschool and time off. Pick and choose what works best for your family. Stay warm!

All of these resources are appropriate for middle and high school.

Books to Incorporate


Unit Studies


Online Unit Studies

Cooking Activities

Don’t forget to teach the Art of the Thank You Note

Download the entire holiday bundle of book lists for free.  Can’t get enough of the holidays?  Incorporate the Bricks Through the Year and History of Our Holidays bundles into your homeschool year, too!  

Pick up the Gnome-Themed Autumn Cookbook totally FREE!

This adorable gnome-themed cookbook is perfect for your seasonal autumn and winter recipes. Pages include:

  • Family stories & memories
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Dessert
  • Blank Pages (reproducible to add your family’s favorites)

Celebrating the Autumn Holidays in Your Homeschool

It’s time for pumpkin spice and everything nice!  By autumn, we’re starting to settle into our homeschooling routine, thinking about upcoming holidays, and wondering how we’ll fit it all in…  Here are activities, books, and resources for incorporating the holidays into your homeschool.  Pick and choose what works best for your family.  Happy fall, y’all!

All of these resources are appropriate for middle and high school.


Books to Incorporate


Unit Studies


Online Unit Studies


Cooking Activities


Download the entire holiday bundle of book lists for free.  Can’t get enough of the holidays?  Incorporate the Bricks Through the Year and History of Our Holidays bundles into your homeschool year, too!  

Pick up the Gnome-Themed Autumn Cookbook totally FREE!

This adorable gnome-themed cookbook is perfect for your seasonal autumn and winter recipes. Pages include:

  • Family stories & memories
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Dessert
  • Blank Pages (reproducible to add your family’s favorites)

Homeschooling Around Town – The Art of the Field Trip!

A big part of our school year is the field trips. Generally, we will study a topic ahead of time and then take the field trip – this helps them to fully understand the hands-on experiences. The kids have been to nearly every state, and experienced a wide range of of historical, scientific, and cultural activities that they wouldn’t have been able to do solely in our home state. Not every family is able to road school, but that doesn’t mean that field trips shouldn’t be a part of your school.

Field Trips in Town

  • Attend a library program
  • Local historic architecture
  • Air Shows
  • Historic Re-enactments
  • Climb rocks
  • Historic Museums (some are free)
  • Pick-Your-Own Farm Visit
  • Zoo (only free on certain days, or with a pass)
  • Local newspaper
  • Factory tours (some are free)
  • Visit the beach, lake, or riverbank
  • State Fairs have homeschool days
  • Visit the local airport
  • Work in a community garden
  • Shadow a business (teens)
  • Animal workshop at the pet shop

Field Trip Starters


Unique Field Trips


More Field Trip Ideas

  • Check out the Roadschooling Page to find unit studies and field trips built around your location.  There’s something for just about every state in the United States up there!
  • Finally, though these aren’t free, educational subscription boxes are a great way to bring the field trip into your home. Here are some of our favorites!
  • Use the world diversity book studies from Literary Adventures to travel the world from the comfort of your own home.  You can go anywhere!

Celebrating Your Homeschool! Beginning & End of Year Traditions

Some families choose a name, and even a mascot, for their homeschool.  Some have Not-Back-to-School parties with their local co-ops.  There are as many homeschool traditions as there are unique families!  What do you do?


Back to Homeschool

  • Kick off the new school year with cute shirts for everyone!  Get matching shirts and call them your family’s field trip uniform.  💖
  • Everyone is out buying back-to-school supplies….the neighborhood kids have cute, new clothes…and your kids are suddenly wondering why they aren’t having nearly as much fun going back to homeschool.  But there are many fun ways to celebrate going back-to-homeschool!
  • Download several different Responsibility Charts & Writing through the Holidays packet, along with dozens of other goodies, free at Homeschool On the Range’s Subscriber’s Library.
  • A good planner can work wonders for keeping you organized from the get-go.  This undated, reusable planner has you covered with daily plans, schoolwork, long-range planning, and meal organizers as well as chore charts and book lists!
  • It might seem daunting to create a unit study at first, but anyone is capable of creating a unit study in just a few easy steps.


Got Oxygen?

  • On the airplane, they tell you to put your oxygen mask on before putting your children’s on…because we’re not really useful to others if we’re passed out.  Or burnt out.  Remember to take some time this year to focus on self-care.
  • You may be one of those families that has been homeschooling for 9 years or so and now are on the home stretch, or you may be new to the journey and have gotten in over your head and wondered if this is the right choice. Any and all of us could use a Booster Shot at some point…


During the Year


End of the Year

  • Is your feed flooded with pictures of kids receiving various awards at their schools?  No need to feel left out.  Homeschool kids deserve awards too!  😎  And we’re homeschooling, so you know what that means…..personalized awards!!!