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Audio Adventures With Jonathan Park

Do you use audio books and adventures in your homeschool?

I'm pleased to be able to share with you one of our very favorite audio series - one that we have been falling in love with this summer (as we've been spending LOADS of time in the car!). 

If you read this blog often you will know that I'm not a huge product endorsement person - we have to use something and truly LOVE IT if I will recommend it to my readers.

Well, the following audio adventures have made the cut!  I hope you enjoy our review, and make sure to read all the way to end for a very special discount code. 


About Jonathan Park Audio Adventures

We've long been fans of audio BOOKS in our homeschool, but Jonathan Park Audio ADVENTURES aren't books at all - they are truly ADVENTURES!

Unlike audio books, the adventures are full fledged dramas - complete with sound effects, music, and  dynamic characters. All of this leads to a vivid picture in your imagination, which you sometimes don't get with audio books. 

We were pleased to receive The Adventure Begins Series Pack.

 

This includes four albums of the first adventure: The Secret of the Hidden Cave, African Safari, Art Heist Adventure, and Mystery at Dead Man's Curve.  Each adventure is broken into three 20-25 minute sections, which makes for manageable listening. 

(Jonathan Park has SEVEN adventures series total - so there is plenty of listening still to be done!)

In my opinion, these dramas are best geared towards elementary and middle grades students. 

Each adventure series pack is $59.99 and is available in digital or physical CD format. 

Jonathan Park action-packed audio adventures are for kids and families. The stories are full of faith-building and educational evidence for a Creator. If your family enjoys imaginative and immersive stories packed with biblical truth, then Jonathan Park is for you!

If your kids have never experienced Jonathan Park faith-building audio adventures, we want to highly encourage you to try these stories. We guarantee that they will ignite their imagination and equip them to defend their faith!
— Jonathan Park website

 

Listen to this short sample and hear for yourself the high quality of these audio adventures: 


Why We Like Jonathan Park Audio Adventures

This summer we have spent A LOT of time in the car. We love to use this time to LEARN rather than to play on devices or just listen to the radio. I am always searching for worthwhile audios to keep my children engaged and learning.

With the Jonathan Park Audio Adventures our time was put to excellent use as my children learned about science concepts:

  • The Evolutionary Tree
  • Convergent Evolution
  • The Laws of Energy
  • Design of the Water Cycle

These science concepts were interwoven with Biblical truths:

  • Returning Good for Evil
  • Showing Kindness
  • Consequences of Sin


More reasons we enjoyed the audio adventures: 

  • The adventures were just that - ADVENTURES!  They kept my 11 year old son interested and engaged - each segment was approximately 20-25 minutes which was the perfect length for our attention span.
  • The adventures equipped my children to defend their faith.  Each adventure presents evidence for Creation. It gives us solid arguments to make when defending our faith and view points. 
  • The adventures taught us a lot about science and how it relates to our faith.  As my children get older I am finding that this is especially important - yes, you can be a person of faith and science at the same time.  They aren't mutually exclusive.
  • The adventures include supplemental activities, found on the Jonathan Park site.  Once we were at home and had some down time, I printed out the coloring pages and word searches for my son to complete. We sat and talked about the adventures while he was working - a casual way to learn and dialog. 

Jonathan Park Audio Adventures Discount

I am pleased to offer a discount to my readers from Jonathan Park Audio Adventures.

Until July 31, 2016 you can receive 25% off using the code hglsp25 at checkout! 


Do you listen to audio dramas in your homeschool?  Does this series look intriguing to you?  I hope so! 

Homeschool Requires Courage

Did you know that homeschooling your children is a COURAGEOUS  act?  

Courage is...

The ability to do something that frightens one. Strength in the face of pain or grief. Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.

Initially I looked at these definitions and chuckled.  It makes homeschool sound so DRAMATIC, so HARD.  But then I looked again and saw so much of homeschooling in the definition of courage. 

Ask homeschool veterans from just a generation ago about the dangers associated with homeschooling - when homeschooling was illegal in many places. Talk with moms of special needs children about difficulties. Ask ANY homeschool parent (especially those homeschooling high school!) about FEAR.  

What about the grief  that comes from lost or broken family relationships?  The pain of being ostracized because you homeschool?  

Welcome to part 3 of the Homeschool Requires series -- let's explore COURAGE - because it takes a lot of COURAGE to complete this most awesome of tasks before us. 

 

Homeschool Requires Courage

Courage When Family Disagrees With Homeschool

Homeschool? Really? Why in the world do you want to do that? How are going to teach her math? You know you were never even that good at math!

I must admit, those words stung.

REALLY stung. 

Those words were spoken to me by my parents - right after I told them we would be homeschooling Anna and Grant (then 8 and 4). 

I've been there when I tell you I understand what it's like to have your family disagree with homeschool. 

After the initial homeschool conversation with my parents we traveled back home and I was determined to prove them wrong. I was a strong willed kid and that has served me well into my adult years.

 I just KNEW homeschool was the best choice for my children, and I am so thankful I didn't let the voices of skeptics deter me from what I knew was right. 

Little by little over the next few years my parents began to see for themselves what home education looked like. My kids would talk their ear off about what they were learning.  Anna would sit them down on the sofa and show them her lapbooks she had created. 

They saw how many opportunities there were for "socialization" in our area.  

They witnessed that education isn't about SCHOOL -- it's about raising children that love to learn and show empathy and compassion for others. 

They learned the world as a classroom beats a classroom of cinder block walls and 25 other children your same age.

They saw us travel with our kids and give them amazing opportunities to learn about history, geography, science, and more!  

an epic trip we took to Colorado & Wyoming when we studied the Oregon Trail and Westward Expansion...  what better way to bring history to life!

an epic trip we took to Colorado & Wyoming when we studied the Oregon Trail and Westward Expansion...  what better way to bring history to life!

 

Now, my parents are fans of homeschooling - in fact, they tell me nearly every time we talk what a great idea they think homeschooling is. 

Many times we must educate not only our children but everyone else around us -- homeschooling does look WEIRD to people -- and it's up to us to do the very best job we can to bolster the image of homeschool at large!  That doesn't mean you have to ram it down their throats - just be a quiet example of an excellent homeschool. 

Weak People quote

I still have a few family members who disagree with our decision - family members who have deep ties to public schools.   I've been on the receiving end of some very hurtful comments about homeschooling and how my children are being denied opportunities because I don't send them to school. And you know what?

That's OK. 

It's my experience that people fear and/or criticize that which they don't understand. 

Moms, take heart -- if you are met with family resistance to homeschooling, you might just win over the detractors when they see what wonderful results your homeschool produces.  Stay the course and do what is right for your kiddos --- and no one else! 

And, if you don't win those family members to your side - just remember WHO you are working for. 

A few things to ponder when it comes to having courage with family members:

  • WHY are your family members criticizing you? It probably has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with their fears, ignorance, or self defensiveness. 
  • WHO are you responsible to?  Last time I checked I was responsible to my husband, children, and God. If I take my eyes off of those players then I get discouraged and defeated in the face of criticism. 
  • Grace goes a long way.  It's very hard for me to sit back and take criticism, but sometimes that is much more graceful than offering a nasty rebuttal. 

I've been there and I UNDERSTAND.  

You can do it!  (Hey, I've even taught my kids math.)

 


Courage in the Face of Societal Pressures

You homeschool your kids?  

Ok - here are some attitudes/obstacles you might encounter: 

  • All of the neighborhood moms have a "back to school" breakfast where they put the kiddos on the bus and  celebrate summer is finally over and they don't have to "entertain" their kids any more.  They even post on Facebook how wonderful it is to see that big yellow bus pull up. 
  • You are struggling financially, and a well meaning friend or family member suggests your problems will be solved if you just "put them in school" so you can go back to work.
  • Your child isn't reading by the age of 6 or 7 and their Sunday School teacher expresses their concern to you.  Maybe you should send them to school to learn how to read.
  • How on earth will your child ever function out in the world if you don't push them out of the nest at age 5?  We need to "toughen kids up" to face the harsh realities of our world.  
  • Children wanting to spend time with their siblings and parents over their friends surely must need more socialization -- what teenager, especially, wants to spend time with their family? 
  • How will your homeschooler get into college? You need the backing of an institutional school to give your child's education any kind of validity. 

Ridiculous, right? 

Well, not so much.  

You need to be able to close your ears to these types of comments and keep on moving when you homeschool. 

Let's face it. We live in a society that tells parents they aren't "enough" to raise their children. 

Women's efforts are better spent working for a corporation than they are raising their own children.  After all - taking care of little kids isn't rocket science. You can stick them in a day care center and have underpaid workers do that job for you. 

 You certainly can't teach your own child, so you need an entire government led system to do it for you.  

We've even delegated our children's religious upbringing to colossal youth groups and Sunday School programs.  

I know so many smart, capable, loving young women that believe the lie that their time is better spent pursuing a career than it is raising a family. My heart aches for the coming generation of children, who will grow up knowing they come in second place to careers and money.

(And I UNDERSTAND what it is like to have to work when you have children - I've done it ever since my youngest was born... but I've always figured out ways to work where I didn't have to put my children in day care or school.)

When you decide to homeschool you will have to swim upstream against societal expectations. Don't let this discourage you!!  The longer you homeschool the more comfortable you will be in the lifestyle, and the more it will just become part of who you are.  After a while you will start to buck other societal expectations -- and to finally think for YOURSELF rather than as part of the masses. 

 


Courage in the Face of Self Doubt

This is something I've struggled with through the years. I think it's a normal part of being a homeschooling parent. Goodness, it's a normal part of just being HUMAN. 

Will I be able to teach them to read?

Will my impatience scar them for life?

I can't give them EVERYTHING they need.

Will I be able to prepare them for college?

 

All I can tell you is this:  You ARE enough.  

God has given YOU these children. He knows you are enough for them. 

Grace is a wonderful thing, and it covers your homeschool liberally at all times. 

There will be many times when you doubt yourself, but it is in those moments that you realize your inadequacy and acknowledge your dependence upon God's mercy and grace. 

This mom you see in the picture was TIRED and feeling doubtful she could complete the task ahead (homeschool high school in this case)... but after spending a weekend at a homeschool mom's retreat and taking time to recharge my batteries I realized that I was enough -- in fact I was exactly what my children needed for this journey. 

You must take time for YOURSELF - your care and education - your peace of mind and health - to face and conquer those doubts. 

Homeschooling requires personal courage

I've also found there are so many resources available for homeschooling parents - books, podcasts, seminars, homeschool groups, etc...  In this day and age if you are doubting your ability to teach a certain subject you can outsource it or you can learn along WITH your child and model the very valuable skill of learning.

I would rather teach my own children and have them see all of my flaws and inadequacies than never have tried. Humbling myself before my kids has grown me in ways I never imagined. 

Here are some resources that might help boost your courage, too: 


I've enjoyed writing this summer series about what homeschooling really requires. We've seen that homeschool requires COMMITMENT, LOVE & COURAGE.

 In the next installment we will explore CONSISTENCY.

If you know someone who is new to homeschooling, or contemplating homeschooling, won't you share this series with them?  It is my prayer that this will reach moms and dads who are doubting or on the fence - or parents that just need some extra encouragement for the coming school year. 

 

I would love to hear from you about COURAGE... how do you feel homeschool has required courage?  Do you find it difficult to find that courage, or has it come easily for you?  

 

Homeschool Requires Courage

Homeschool Requires LOVE

As we are gearing up for a new homeschool year, I've been thinking A LOT about what homeschool REALLY requires.  This series is designed to give an honest picture of homeschool. It is designed to encourage, enlighten, and support you. 

If it challenges you -- all the better!  

Remember:  you cannot depend on a boxed curriculum, franchised community, or local co-op to give you a successful homeschool.  A successful homeschool requires commitment, love, courage, and consistency. 

I just LOVE what a Homegrown Learners Facebook fan said on the page this week:

I absolutely love ______________ (insert homeschool community), mainly because it is a tool to help us stay committed to homeschooling and to continue homeschooling well. But there are many such tools, any of which can become idols that hinder our homeschooling efforts. Thank you for this series!

This series gets us away from those "idols" and will help us examine ourselves.  

We've already explored the commitment homeschool requires.  

This installment of Homeschool Requires will delve into a sensitive area.  

Love.

Homeschool Requires Love: Part 2 in the straight talk series about homeschooling at Homegrown Learners

I often get so caught up in the nitty gritty details of homeschool that I forget to show to love my kiddos.  

Something as basic as showing love each and every day can make such a difference in our homeschool, but there have been days when it has eluded me. 

I love writing a blog because it forces me to take a long, hard look at MYSELF.  

Here is a challenge for all of us:  

What if we made it a priority this year to SHOW LOVE EXCESSIVELY to our children?  What if we put that ahead of mastering math facts, spelling tests, and science experiments? What if we showed love excessively on the worst days of our homeschool?  

What if SHOWING LOVE was our focus this year?


 I often forget to show love because I am so COMMITTED to homeschooling them well. I forget the most basic requirement of not only homeschooling - but motherhood in general, and that is to show my children LOVE unconditionally and often. 

Read The 5 Love Languages of Children. Have your children discover their own love language (a free online tool).  

I want to keep loving my kids front and center this year so I've created a list of 25 Ways to Show Love in Your Homeschool Day. Print this and put it in your planner, homeschool mom binder, or wherever else you might be forced to see it EVERY DAY.  

Scroll to the end of the post to download a FREE PRINTABLE of the bullet point version of this list.  (But, I do hope you read this post, because I expand on each of the 25 ways and include links, ideas, and lots more to get you motivated!)


25 Ways to Show Love in Your Homeschool Day

1. Give hugs  

It's easy to hug on our little ones, isn't it?  As our children age we need to keep pursuing them.  Physical touch is important to our teens. 

2. Smile a lot

Do you ever stop during the day and check your demeanor?  Do you smile enough? I know how much a smile from my kiddos warms my heart, so I can only imagine what a smile from mom does for them.  

3. Be silly

I don't know why I feel like I have to be the "strict teacher" during our homeschool day. Who says math can't be fun?  I remember pulling out every stuffed animal in my son's closet once to illustrate story problems. I gave them all different voices and personalities and we had the BEST time.  

(Being silly is super good for the homeschool mom's mental health, too.)

4. Give compliments

Do you compliment your children more than you criticize them? I am guilty of having impossibly high standards, and I've had to make an effort to compliment my children. Don't make the compliments hollow - be genuine.  You can ALWAYS find something good about what your children are doing.  

5. Show patience

This one is EXTRA HARD for me. When we are in the middle of an Algebra breakdown, the best thing I can do is hold my tongue, keep my patience, and breathe. My children need to know I love them regardless of their understanding of any academic subject, and showing patience is essential. 

6. Give them M&Ms

25 Ways to Show Love in Your Homeschool

Ok, maybe not M&Ms - just whatever food treat speaks to your child. My kids love M&Ms, and when I unexpectedly set down a muffin cup of M&Ms in front of them (during their hardest subject), it conveys a lot of LOVE. 

Tip:  Candy is a wonderful motivator for kids who don't like to do math drills - just sayin'.

7. Play games

Incorporate fun games into your homeschool day. Our children will remember a mom that made learning FUN. Even if you aren't a mom that enjoys playing games, you can make it through Yahtzee, UNO, or yes - even a game of Monopoly.  

Designate one entire school day as a game day. You'll be amazed at the fun you have.

8. Listen

Do we really LISTEN to how our children are feeling about something? Or, do we just continue on with the lesson plan even if it means our kids are miserable? 

If our children sit down for their school day with something bothering them, stop and LISTEN to them. We're homeschooling because we want to seize those important times with our children, and listening is the best way to do that.

9. Read Aloud

No matter their age, reading aloud signifies a mom's willingness to slow down and invest in her children. The cuddles and connections during read aloud time are so precious. 

We have made so many memories this way, and I am collecting quite a list of favorites, too! 

And yes, teens love to be read to, as well.  

10. Apologize

Nothing says "I love you" more strongly than apologizing to our children when we have wronged them. It's very simple, but not always so easy to do. 

11. Plan ahead

Stick with me on this one. Planning ahead allows for us to enjoy our homeschool days more. If we're not flying by the seat of our pants, we are smiling more, laughing more, and able to incorporate more fun things with our children because we know we've planned well and have the basics covered. 

This year I'm putting extra time into planning, knowing that it will pay off in spades throughout the school year. 

(I am using this great tool for homeschool moms and it's been so helpful.)

Plan Your Year Homeschool Planner

12. Say "I love you."

Sounds obvious, right?  

Maybe not so much.  

I tell my children I love them a lot, but recently I've been making an effort to look them straight in the eye and say "I love you."  It's not a causal "I love you" as they are walking out the door, or sent via text (remember I am the mom of a teen), it's taking the time to connect and say the words with intention and feeling. 

13. Create special days

My son still remembers the day I woke him up and said, "No school today!  It's ANGRY BIRDS DAY!"   We did nothing but Angry Birds themed activities all day - and while it did take some planning on my part it was entirely worth it!

14. Speak your child's love language

My oldest child's love language is quality time.  Let me rephrase that.  Her love language is Starbucks time! 

Taking my daughter out for a fancy coffee, just the two of us, speaks her love language. 

My son's love language is physical touch, so lots of hugs and cuddles (even as he's getting older) mean a lot to him.   

If you haven't read Gary Chapman's book, you really should. 

15. Have a party for no reason

This is one straight from my own childhood.

I can vividly remember being 7 years old and very sad because my brother had gone away to college - which left me at home as an only child. One day I got off the bus and walked home, and when I arrived there was a huge sign on the front door that said, "Happy Birthday!"  It wasn't my birthday, nor was it anyone's birthday in my family. My mom had created an entire birthday party for my stuffed animals. 

She baked a cake, sewed a few of them little birthday outfits, and even got them "presents".  

I still remember this day - 37 years later. 

It was through little things like this  I just knew my mom loved me, and she showed it in so many special ways.  

So, when homeschool starts getting rough in the middle of the winter -- have a party for no reason! 

16. Read the Bible every day

Your children will know you love them because you are investing in the most important thing with them - knowing God's word. 

We've used the Charlotte Mason scripture memory system to hide God's word in our hearts. We've also enjoyed Jesus Calling and At The Table Family Devotions

17. Discipline

Deep down, children don't want to get away with bad things. They crave structure and discipline. 

Another post in this series will talk about homeschooling and CONSISTENCY... and we must discipline our children with love and consistency if we are to be successful parents.  

18. Bake with them

Some of our fondest memories have been created in the kitchen, baking together. It's a time when we can talk, be silly - and even LEARN a lot, too.  

We've had book dinners, which have required a lot of prep time in the kitchen. These dinners, which would usually center around our current Five in a Row book, not only were learning experiences, but experiences of our hearts, too. 

19. Get outside

Sometimes, when a homeschool day had spiraled downward quickly, getting outside and going for a nature walk was the best medicine. 

There's something about being surrounded by God's majesty that just made it EASIER for me to show my kids I loved them. Everyone was happier, the grumpiness was left inside the house, and our moods all changed. 

Please don't think there isn't time for nature walks and leisurely afternoons. Nothing could be further from the truth.

20. Forgive

Our children need to know we forgive them - for whatever they have done, no matter the severity.

Saying the words, "I forgive you" and then following up with a hug, smile, or listening ear are so very important. 

21. Do something your kids love (but you don't)

I don't really ENJOY playing LEGOS, but my son loves it when I ask him if I can build something with him. 

My daughter likes it when I just sit and read a book next to her while she is reading a book, too.  So simple, right?  

Our willingness to step out of ourselves for our children shows them we love them. (And, you might surprise yourself by trying something you didn't think you'd like.)

22. Do something unexpected

When things get rough in your homeschool, try something unexpected.

What if you brought home a gallon of double fudge ice cream, turned on a fun movie, and curled up on the sofa with your kids and some spoons? 

What if you hooked up the hose, put on your bathing suit, collected the water guns, and offered to play outside in the summer heat?

Whatever it is for you that would be unexpected, do it! 

23. Lavish praise

Do you remember to praise your kids?  This goes along with complimenting them.

Do you point out all of the good they are doing, or do you just nitpick what they AREN'T doing well?  

Once you find the good, reinforce it verbally.

Do you say "Good job", "I know you can do this", or "You amaze me"? 

 

24. Don't overcommit

Homeschool moms have a tendency to be generous and giving. 

Don't let this very good quality turn into your very worse quality. 

Limit your activities so you can focus on WHY you are homeschooling in the first place - your children. If you are too busy volunteering at church and helping every friend in need your own family will suffer .

The best way to show your children is to exercise restraint in your commitments and make homeschooling a priority.  

One day your children will be grown and you want to look back on the years you had with them and not have regrets. 

25 Ways to Show Love in Your Homeschool

(How did my own children get this big?)

25. Pray

Praying for you children is the ultimate way to show them you love them.  When we lift up our children and their needs to our Father we are showing our children the first line of defense in any problem.  

Don't ever forget to pray for your children.


Put it in a prominent place in your home. Place it in the front of your homeschool mom binder. Put it in your morning time basket.  We all LOVE our kids fiercely, but we need reminders to SHOW that love on a daily (and hourly!) basis.  


This post is the second in the series - Homeschool Requires. 

Click here to read part 1: Homeschool Requires Commitment

 

And now I'd love to hear from you!  Do you have creative ways to show love in your homeschool day?  Do you find it hard on certain days to show love. Do you just need to be reminded?