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.

How World Mythologies Show We’re All Connected

Author G. K. Chesterton wrote, “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

Stories and myths have shaped and reflected world cultures for millennia.  They tell of how the world was created, how humans relate to the world, and how humans relate to each other.  They are ingrained into our cultures, and as children we listen to these tales or read folklore, learning more about our own world and the cultures of others around us.

In spite of the development of societies all around the world, often independently of each other, there are many common threads that run through these tales.  Throughout all world mythologies and cultural stories, there are common threads of birth, death, the afterlife, good and evil, and the origin of both man and the world itself.  Younger children learn of these stories in fairy tales, which tend to be watered down to their level.  Older children may delve into an occasionally very dark world of these dragons…but these myths show that the world’s dragons can be slain.


If you’re interested in incorporating world cultures and mythologies into your homeschool, here are some resources to guide you…


Get Started

Online / Tech-Based Unit Studies

Resource Books

  • Introduction to World Mythology for Kids
    • This collection of mythology for kids takes you from ancient Mesopotamia to the Abenaki tribes of the Native Northeastern US and Canada, showing you myths from around the world. From the Japanese myth of Momotarō The Peach Boy and his loyal animal friends to the Slavic myth of Vasilisa the Wise and her enchanted doll, this beautifully illustrated collection of mythology for kids takes you on a journey through the sands of time. You’ll explore diverse cultures across the globe through the incredible tales of gods and goddesses, earth-shattering giants, mighty dragons, magical lakes, and more.
  • Myths & Legends: 25 Projects to Build
    • Through hands-on projects and exciting stories, this title in the Build It Yourself series aims to ignite young people’s curiosity in multicultural mythology and legends. Each chapter, which focuses on the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, or the Americas, provides a succinct introduction to major themes and characters in a culture’s mythology, a glossary, short retellings, and more historical and cultural background, followed by easily assembled projects, as in the section on Sub-Saharan Africa, which presents instructions for making Ashanti Adinkra cloth and a Bata thunder drum. The gray-toned format, featuring spot illustrations, is lackluster, and a few of the projects, particularly the Hopi kachina doll, reference sacred objects that shouldn’t be designated as crafts. With proper context and discussion, though, this title offers solid, interactive opportunities to explore world mythology.

World Mythology Unit / Book Studies



An Age of Revolution! Exploring World Change in Your Homeschool

From the mid 18th century to the mid 19th century, the world underwent a series of revolutions across many areas of life, including culturally, politically, economically, technologically, and through war. Call it the age of Aquarius…call it a response to the world connectivity spawned by the age of exploration…whatever the reason, new ideas and actions swept the world, changing it forever.

The American Revolution, largely influenced by the Enlightenment period, is considered the beginning of the Age of Revolution.  Then came the French Revolution, Irish Rebellion, Haitian Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, and civil unrest in Spain and Germany.  Shortly after the War of 1812, European powers came together to form the Holy Alliance in an attempt to restore the monarchies and prevent future unrest.  Less than a decade later, there were uprisings in Italy, Greece, Spain, and Portugal.  The working class would no longer sit back, and around the world they began to demand more rights.  

The Age of Revolution also includes the Industrial Revolution – this is when mass production in factories replaced hand-made goods, led to the growth of cities, birthed consumerism, and eventually led to the transportation revolution.

American Revolution Resources

Novel Studies

                  Take a Virtual Field Trip


                  Hands-On / Funschool Learning


                  World Event Unit Studies


                  Additional Reading


                  Government Resources


                  Complete Courses


                  • For more resources, check out Expansion, Independence, and War! It covers both American and world history. Students will learn about major conflicts in American history, spanning from the French and Indian War to the September 11 terror attacks.
                  • The American Revolution course introduces elementary and middle school students to the key battles and players of the Revolutionary War and incorporates history, geography, reading, critical thinking and analysis, and cursive writing throughout.
                  • From the discovery of the New World to the end of the American Revolution, let Dave Stotts take your family on a Drive Thru History. Join him as he takes you to the places where America was born, shares facts about history you have never heard, and has a great deal of fun along the way. Plus, enjoy a special set of worksheets only available here!  Find out more about Drive Thru History

                  Download the FREE World History Timeline with Study Connections!


                  Legal Documents Every 18 Year Old Needs


                  After eighteen years of caring for your child, it can be alarming to realize that on that magical birthday, they suddenly take on ALL the responsibilities of adulthood, whether they are equipped or not. Young adults who are eager for independence may push back against a request to sign a college power of attorney, believing they don’t really need it or you’re trying to control them.  However, at some point or another, most young adults find themselves in over their heads, may end up in credit card debt, wind up in a car accident, or get into trouble at school. All of these are scenarios you, the parent, could assist with at age 17, but cannot once they turn 18…unless you have some legal protections in place ahead of time.

                  Medical Emergencies

                  HIPPA / Healthcare

                  HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) is a federal law that creation national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.  This act also contains standards for individuals’ rights to understand and control how their health information is used. 

                  The act was created to make protect individuals’ healthcare information, but comes into play with your adult children when, at age 18, you can no longer legally go with them to appointments, inquire about test results, or even find out why they are in the hospital unless the child has given express, written consent.  

                  A few of the things you need HIPAA consent for include:
                  • Appointments
                  • Test Results
                  • Insurance claims
                  • Billing
                  • Benefit eligibility inquiries
                  • Referral authorization requests
                  Protect your child by having him/her complete a HIPPA authorization form.  Send one to the college and keep one on file at home.

                  Medical Power of Attorney

                  A medical power of attorney form is strictly for health care choices should your son or daughter become incapacitated.  There is also the option of a general durable power of attorney, which covers financial decisions as well as medical.  Find your state’s medical power of attorney information here.


                  Financial / Durable Power of Attorney

                  Durable POA enables a designated agent (such as the parents) to make financial and medical decisions on the student’s behalf.  When signing it, your child can choose whether that power transfers immediately or only if s/he becomes incapacitated.  You can also write in start and end dates to reassure that this is a limited power of attorney for college.

                  Powers may include:
                  • Managing bank accounts
                  • Paying bills
                  • Filing taxes
                  • Applying for government benefits
                  • Breaking a lease

                  A durable power of attorney document applies only in the state in which it was formed—so if your child is attending school in another state, you should secure power of attorney for the other state as well. Some states also require the signature of a witness or a notary public.

                  College-Specific

                  FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.  The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

                  Generally, schools must have written permission from the student to release any information from a student’s education record.  This includes class schedules, transcripts, and grade point averages, but also extends to financial records within the school, such as scholarship information and money due, and living circumstances, such as dorm room assignment or any personal issues the student experiences.

                  Protect your child by having them provide written permission allowing the school to discuss all FERPA-related topics with you, as needed.


                  Protect Your Child in 10 Minutes

                  You can get all of these young adult power of attorney documents at Mama Bear Legal Forms.  It’s considerably cheaper than going through a standard lawyer because this is what she does, and she has templates for each state, rather than re-creating the wheel each time (it’s the time that costs you more money).  

                  You’ll want to have these in place before your child goes off to school, but don’t fret if you’re running behind — there’s no time like the present!  The package includes: HIPPA, FERPA, power of attorney for health and finances, plus a free App for scanning, storing and sharing.  If you visit through this link, you’ll also save 20% off your order.

                  Exploring Asia in Your Homeschool

                  As the largest and most-populated continent, Asia birthed some of the world’s oldest civilizations and continues to shape the world as a whole in the 21st century.  From the Bronze Age ‘Assuwa,’ to ‘Anatolia’ in the Golden Age of Greece, to the approximately forty-eight countries that comprise the region today, economically, politically, and culturally, studying Asia and its history helps students to learn more about the modern world.



                  Resources to Study Asian Geography


                  Resources to Study Asian History (& Food!)



                  Resources to Study China


                  Resources to Study Japan


                  Resources to Study Korea

                  Resources to Study Vietnam


                  Resources to Study India

                  Resources to Study Polynesia

                  Resources to Study the Middle East



                  Download the FREE Diversity Book List with Study Connections!

                  Save Your Sanity! Tips for the Homeschooling Mom


                  If you’re new to homeschooling, or still in the stage of considering having a go at it, the prospect can be daunting. You look around at other homeschooling families, and they seem to have it all together, but we all started at the same spot you’re in right now….

                  The first thing to keep in mind is that relationships are more important than academics. Your kids’ hearts are more important than their grades or achievements. You are the most qualified person to be in charge of your child’s education, because you love them more than anyone else and want the best for them. Be confident!

                  In addition to these tips, we’ve put together a packet of Homeschool Helps, including planners, graphic organizers, record logs, and templates to help you on your journey! 

                  Keep a record of all the books you read for school, not just the textbooks / curricula. This is especially important if you’re a Charlotte Mason or Unit Studies family.  Read aloud to your children…no matter their age. The snuggles are priceless, and the books will often lead to soul-searching conversations with teens. If you’re not sure where to start, check out The Read-Aloud Family.

                  Learn about the different homeschooling styles so that it’s easier to search for relevant tips. You can learn about different homeschooling styles here.  And if you don’t finish the full curriculum, don’t stress over it. There’s so much overlap in the grades that missing some lessons at the end of the year doesn’t really matter. What matters is finishing the year, taking time off to rest, and enjoying time with your children.

                  There is no one right or wrong curriculum. Take some time to decide what you want your children’s education to look like and find the curriculum that works for your family. And remember, there will be hard days — this is not an easy task, but it is totally worth it. {Fifty Reasons to be Thankful for Home School (on the Hard Days)}

                  Seek community. You are not on your own in this homeschooling journey! A helpful, inspiring homeschool community can do wonders for your morale. If you don’t belong to a homeschool community, there are many options available. You can join a local association, co-op, or even an encouraging online homeschool group.  At SchoolhouseTeachers, the Mama’s Corner has regular get-togethers to foster community!

                  Don’t be scared to change if something isn’t working. That’s one of the great things about homeschooling- you can change to suit you and your kids’ needs. You can change schedules, curriculum, topics, routines, anything…and it will all be just fine.  Remember your WHY.  Why did you start homeschooling?  What’s your ultimate goal here?  In A Parent’s Alphabet, we lay out several reasons, from A to Z, to help you refocus.

                  For high school students, follow your state’s graduation requirements. There are usually multiple tracks – one for college-bound students and one for general education – and it is of the utmost importance that you follow them if your child is college-bound. You can learn more about transcripts and requirements here.

                  A vision is so important and so grounding. I recommend mom finding a personal vision for school. The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hint, Teaching from Rest by Sarah MacKenzie, and certainly anything by Ruth Beechick.

                  Sometimes you just get a little bit down, or off-kilter.  When that happens, and it will, look to Words of Encouragement for New (or Weary) Moms.  You’ll find yourself bouncing back in no time!

                  Maybe you just have too many things going on at once.  We know…we’ve been there, too.  In Prioritizing Your Life, you’ll find a free downloadable e-book to help you sort things out, find more time in the day, and settle in a bit.

                  Every mom, homeschooling or otherwise, can use a bit of pampering in her life!  Like they say on the airplanes, if you don’t put your oxygen mask on, you can’t save someone else.  Or in this case…when mom’s burnt out and ready to give up, nothing is getting accomplished.  Find your zen in Pampering for the Homeschool Mom.

                  A schedule is your servant, not your master, but schedule is a wonderful tool to help you accomplish your homeschooling goals, and just because you have a plan for each day doesn’t mean each day will go according to schedule. You will have interruptions, accidents, spills, and people dropping in. But you can take control!  See how Flexible Scheduling Can Work for You.

                  The initial excitement of homeschooling is important. It helps plunge you into a whole new way of thinking and living. Over time, however, and as you progress, the excitement sometimes wanes and the demands of homeschooling can become overwhelming, exhausting, engulfing.  Remember to focus on Personal Wellness and Homeschooling for long-term success!

                  Homeschooling is a full time job. Act like it. Just because you don’t have to drive anywhere doesn’t mean you can’t have special school hours where nothing else gets scheduled. Guard your time you set aside, whenever that time is. All the other things can be scheduled around the few hours you need to get school time accomplished.  See how you can manage the Hardest Part of Homeschooling, when it’s not the kids.

                  You really can leave grade levels and school metrics behind, and build an interest-led, completely personalized homeschool experience for your children based in your unique family culture.  Finding a mentor, another homeschooling parent to talk to regularly, is a huge boost!  Need a hand up?  See 5 Homeschooling Mentors You Need to Follow.

                  When we fill our well up, we’re doing our family a favor. When we take care of ourselves, we have a better self to give. We are more present, we probably check our phones less often, and because our needs are met, we enjoy our time with our children. The time we give to ourselves matters and can help us to let go of any resentment and anger.  Pick up strategies for prioritizing at A Home School Mom’s Guide To Self-Care And Keeping Anger At Bay.

                  Whatever you are great at, whatever makes your heart happy, whatever your child/children do well with —do that first.  It may seem counterproductive to start with the one subject or thing that where you are actually on target or ahead when you feel like you are behind in everything else, but it usually results in more cooperative and happy kids.  See other things to try When Your Homeschool Moring Is Giving You The Blues.

                  Finally, don’t forget to fill up your tank!  Whether it’s with a cute shirt or kitschy homeschool gear, a treat that relaxes you and brings you joy, or simple inspiration, find something that speaks to you and remember the old adage — when mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy!


                  You’ll definitely want to check out…

                   homeschool coffee