Homeschooling a Bunch of Levels at Once – MBFLP 282

There are a lot of new homeschoolers this year, and many families may be wondering, “How will we ever manage to teach two, or three, or six grade levels at the same time?” It’s possible – Melanie has taught six students with a toddler underfoot, more than once! But there are some tricks to the trade that make it workable. This episode we talk about changes in expectations and choices of curriculum that make the difference when you have more than one grade to teach!

Homeschooling looks different than institutional schools – for a reason

You have to recognize that classroom schools are set up and operated a certain way for efficiency with groups. If you’re homeschooling, you don’t have to manage twenty-five 5th graders – you have several different grades, with one student in each one. Have we ever heard of this?

Of course – the one-room schoolhouse. For an example, read about Laura Ingalls’ school in Little Town on the Prairie – it’s a great description of how she managed a room with beginning readers and high school students at the same time. That’s not unlike a large homeschooling family!

Curriculum choices will be different, as well as the way we use them, compared to classroom schools. The whole endeavor needs a fresh look at what we plan to accomplish and how that should look – but you’ll be glad you made the effort!

We homeschooled eight children and have graduated six so far – two still at home! And there have been times when we had a high school senior, a sophomore, two middle-schoolers, two elementary students – and one “pre-K”. And you know, all six of our graduates have gone on to college with academic scholarships, which tells you this can work. This episode may give you the hope and encouragement you need to press on with this challenging adventure. 


Homeschooling When YOU Have a Chronic Illness – MBFLP 281

It’s one thing when you’re homeschooling a child with a chronic illness – sometimes that’s the only way they’ll get an education! But what if Mom’s the one who’s struggling? What if you’re a parent with health issues, but you’re convinced that homeschooling is the best for your kids? How can you manage your days, your illness, and your expectations? We’ve had to deal with this ourselves, and it CAN be done – let’s talk about it!

Bonus Story

We didn’t get to this in the program, but there’s an interesting and encouraging story about long-term illness and doing good things in the midst of it. Susannah Spurgeon was the wife of the legendary British preacher Charles H. Spurgeon. She often helped him proofread and correct his published sermons and book manuscripts, and when she developed a debilitating condition that often confined her to bed, she was still able to do that. When she proofread his book Lectures to My Students, Susannah remarked that it should be in the hands of every minister in England; shortly afterward, she became the manager of the church’s new book fund. Over the last 28 years of her life, she shipped out over two hundred thousand theological books to needy pastors – all while dealing with a life-restricting illness.

Read more here!

Melanie says that her months – many months – on bed rest gave her opportunities to teach our children life skills as well as academic material, simply because many of the household tasks were off limits to her. It really became a matter of looking for what she could do, rather than give in to the legitimate frustrations of what she couldn’t.


Things We Referenced

Genesis 50:20 – “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good … ”

Galatians 6:2Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God

Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.



Thank You to our Network Sponsor – CTC Math!

Homeschooling a Child with a Chronic Illness – MBFLP 280


Everybody goes through seasons of illness – summer colds, seasonal flu, an occasional injury – and most of the time, we can take a few days off to get over them. But what if your student has a condition that doesn’t get better with a week in bed? How can you homeschool a child who has an illness that has to be managed day by day, hour by hour? Is it even possible?

We have to say YES – we’ve homeschooled kids through all sorts of long-term or chronic illnesses. It doesn’t look like other families’ home schools, maybe, but it’s our home school and we’ve been pleased with the results. So let’s talk about some realities of homeschooling a child with a chronic illness!

Things We Referenced

2 Corinthians 1:3-4Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 

Galatians 6:2 – Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 

David McCollough, Mornings on Horseback
This is a detailed look at the childhood and home life of the young (and very asthmatic) Theodore Roosevelt. It’s interesting to see how little “Thee’s” illness and his refusal to let it hold him back led to his vigorous “Rough Rider” and “Bull Moose” years of adulthood. Like all of McCollough’s books, Hal highly recommends it!

NEXT: Homeschooling When YOU Have a Chronic Illness



Thank You to our Network Sponsor – CTC Math!

Teaching Character with Stories – Talking with Rick Boyer – MBFLP 279

Stories are powerful tools to teach and illustrate character – think of Jesus’ parables! We can use stories the same way. This episode we’re talking with Rick Boyer, father of a large family, about how he’s used narratives to teach his own children, and now reaches out to thousands with audiobooks and commentary. Plus we’ll talk about some resources we offer as well!

Things We Referenced

Two audiobooks of your choice every month plus new member video section and weekly story podcast
Spring Promo (through May 31) – American History bundle of 22 e-books included in the subscription purchase

We’re speaking at the 2022 Florida Homeschool Convention!

This week we’ll be traveling to the Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando for one of the biggest homeschool events in the country! We’ll be speaking on raising boys, parenting middle schoolers, homeschooling more effectively with less stress, and providing what your special learners need – whether they’re struggling or gifted. Plus we’ll be talking with support group leaders in the Leaders Forum on Thursday. If you’re coming to Orlando, we’d love to meet you – stop by our booth (number 911) and let us know you’re a podcast listener.

CLICK HERE for more information! 

(If you know you’re going, click here to get our detailed schedule)

Building a Family Culture – MBFLP 278

You can feel it when you walk in the door – families have a particular culture or personality! Whether intentional or not, every home will develop its own manner of living and interacting. The question is – how can you encourage a healthy family culture that will strengthen as it goes on? How can you avoid a negative, or even toxic, family life that drags everyone down?

Resources We Mentioned

Sonya Shafer at Simply Charlotte Mason

Podcast Episodes:

“Potty Mouth” – A Big Deal, or Not?“What should I do about my kids’ ‘potty mouth’?” asked a young father in our church. Learning appropriate behavior and speech patterns is part of socialization, but is there a bigger issue than being “socially acceptable”?

Encouraging More Edifying SpeechThe Bible says a lot about the power of the tongue – the question for us is, how do we train and encourage our families to speak in a more gracious and edifying way, when the culture around us grows more unkind and profane every day?

Raising Kids to Love Their SiblingsIs sibling rivalry just something to expect? Is it a foregone conclusion that our kids are going to be simmering with jealousy, rivalry, and unkindness toward one another? Or is there a way to promote friendship and affection between brothers and sisters? We have eight kids, and while they’ve had their moments of conflict, we’ve been blessed to see them grow in genuine love as they’ve matured. How can we foster this sort of relationship in the home?

Name-Calling and Why It’s ImportantSticks and stones … right? We’ve all heard that, and probably told our kids that one time or another. Yet name-calling is not only a plague of childhood, it’s actually a problem throughout life … and we adults are warned by Christ Himself to be wary of the temptation! This episode, we look at what the Bible says about a deceptively simple and “harmless” practice that can trip us up when we least expect it!


We Joined the Thirty-Percent Club!

We recently finished three events in Alaska (Sterling, Anchorage, and Fairbanks) and recorded this episode in a cabin between Fairbanks and Anchorage. It’s an amazing state!

Locals told us that only 30% of visitors actually get a clear view of Denali – but we did! We took this picture from Talkeetna, about sixty miles away. The day before, you couldn’t see any mountains whatsoever – the weather just covered that whole 20,000-foot peak. We consider ourselves blessed to get a sighting on our first trip – some people visit for years and never see it.



We’ll be speaking at three major conferences in the coming weeks:

Be sure to stop by our booth and say hi!

Homeschool Conferences – and why we love them! – MBFLP 277

With the world full of resources available online, you can develop your philosophy, order your materials, and start homeschooling without ever meeting another parent-educator. That’s a blessing in many ways, especially if you live in a rural area or a foreign culture. But sometimes we think we’ve found what we need when we join the right group on Facebook and know which bloggers we want to follow and which website we like to order from. You may have found part of it, but there’s more!


God tells His people, in Hebrews 10:25, that we must not forsake gathering together. That command didn’t change when our grandparents heard Billy Sunday on the radio or Billy Graham on TV – those were great resources, but they weren’t substitutes for real-life people. We need more than information, we need interaction.

Homeschooling is not church, but it definitely involves spiritual warfare. It’s important to find a flesh-and-blood network to support your homeschooling and provide you with opportunities to help others, too. We’re big fans of local support groups, for just that reason.

But conventions add another dimension – the sheer energy of being in a hall with hundreds, or even thousands, of people walking the same path you’re on. You might have different plans or destinations for your students – college, career, military, home – but you’ve all set out on the path marked “Home Education,” which is one of life’s greatest adventures. And it’s exciting to meet travelers on the same road.

Don’t be shy about talking with other families. You have one little boy, and they’ve got four? Ask them how it works. They have a teenaged daughter and yours is a few years younger? Ask if they have any insights for the next step. You notice they’ve bought a curriculum you’re considering? Strike up a conversation.

Don’t be shy about authors and speakers, either. Most of us speakers are teachers and counselors at heart. We want to reach out and help people.  We expect to meet lots of folk whose opening words are, “I have a problem …” or “I was wondering …” That’s what we’re here for. And conventions are the place where you can actually get one-on-one interaction with the people who write the books and curriculum.

You can bless them, too. We love our readers who buy from the big online bookstores, too. But did you know that when you save a dollar online, the author probably earns two dollars less? If you can, please buy directly from the author or the publisher whenever you can. That helps them pay the bills so they write the next book or curriculum you’re looking forward to!

And don’t forget the people who put on the convention. Most conventions are organized by volunteers, and the proceeds support the year-round services they provide – monitoring the legislature, training support group leaders, answering questions from new homeschoolers, and talking with skeptical reporters. They’re working to promote and defend your freedom to homeschool. Let’s pitch in and support them, too!

(This article first appeared in The Homeschool Minute, a publication of The Old Schoolhouse magazine)


We’ll be speaking at four major conferences in the coming weeks:

Be sure to stop by our booth and say hi!

Homeschooling with Unsupportive Family – MBFLP 276


If God has called you to teach your children at home, that’s what you need to do! But it’s easier if everyone around you is cheering you on. What do you do if your parents or in-laws or extended family are skeptical? How do you and your family keep on the path when there are headwinds? How do you handle questions, criticisms, or other opposition? And what can you do to find the encouragement you’re not getting from the family?


Census data shows the number of families homeschooling doubled during the pandemic (from 5.4% to 11.1%) and among African-American families, increased from 3.3% to 16.1%

Census Bureau: “Survey shows significant increase in homeschooling rates in Fall 2020” – 3/22/21

Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)

Search by ZIP code to find support groups (state and local) 


Assume concern is well-intended unless proved otherwise!

Figure out where their concern is focused, then address it with facts and experience

Go ahead and commit to a period of time, like a full school year. That gives kids a more stable educational experience, and it gives both parents and students a chance to adjust to a new way to “do school.” It reduces the temptation of constant second-guessing, too.

Go to a conference! It’s a great way to encourage yourself, and it’s an eye-opener for skeptical family. Even a small conference is likely to be much larger than your family has pictured. And invite grandparents to activities when your kids are involved – whether it’s homeschool sports, a science fair, a talent show – whatever your family is connected to.

Think ahead about “difficult” people – the ones who want to argue with your decision, or the ones who want to interrogate your kids. Coach your kids on the obvious, likely questions – “What grade are you in?” (which is really more like, “How old are you?”) – “What do you like about homeschooling?” – “Do you like to read?” – “What are you learning now?” – “What’s your favorite subject?” Kids sometimes go blank when an adult throws an unexpected question – go head, coach the witness!

Remember, you don’t have to argue and convince everybody (whether homeschool skeptics, or homeschoolers who are taking a different path than you!). Smile, be polite, but be confident. It’s your family, and your kids – not theirs!

More content …


SPEAKING OF CONVENTIONS … Come see us at one of these great events!

If you’d like to have us speak at your church, conference, or other group, CLICK HERE to find out more! 

Church Online – Yea or Nay? – MBFLP 275

One of the unexpected results of the pandemic has been the expansion of online-church opportunities. Even small churches like our own were able to use inexpensive tools and software to broadcast streaming worship services – without a technical crew! But is this a useful expansion to the church’s ministry and outreach – or a distraction, or even an enemy, to real worship and fellowship?

Join us for this discussion as we seek a Biblical balance about church broadcasts of all sort – and how to make the best use of them!

Passages of Interest

Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Acts 2:42, 46-47 – And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. … So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.

Mention of believers gathering as churches in private homes:

Romans 16:3,5 – Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, … Likewise greet the church that is in their house

1 Corinthians 16:19 – Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.

Colossians 4:15 – Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house.

Philemon 1:1,2 – To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, … and to the church in your house:

Upcoming Events

We’ll be speaking at several conferences and events this year … here’s a partial list:

If you’d like to have us speak at your church, conference, or other group, CLICK HERE to find out more! 

Homeschooling and the Holidays – MBFLP 274

How do you balance everything, between your commitments to church programs, holiday recitals, shopping and cooking and cleaning for the family … and providing a quality home education for your children? Is it even possible? Should it be? This episode, we’re talking about how we learned to manage it with eight kids … no cape or phone booth needed!

We’re celebrating our 26th Christmas while homeschooling! You can do this! Just maybe not all of it at once … 

Gift Giving in a Big Family – MBFLP 273

This week we’re talking about gift giving – it’s Biblical, you know!  But how do you manage it without being immersed in the commercialism of a secular holiday, while glorifying God and having fun together? We’ve found that being more intentional and deliberate in choosing gifts and even in how we open them together, and encouraging our children to think of people rather than stuff at Christmas, has great benefits!

Biblical Passages We Mentioned

The wise men who brought gifts to Jesus – Matthew 2:1-11

The people feasted and shared with each other over joy in God’s word – Nehemiah 8:9-10 – And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God … Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

How Our Family Christmas List is Structured

We described how our family keeps up with everyone’s “wish list” – not just at Christmas, but all year long! Here’s the basic framework – each person’s section of the family list is divided into price brackets, and it’s the responsibility of each person to keep their list up to date. And when the shopping happens, gift-givers quietly delete items so others don’t duplicate their gift!


Updated: (be sure to make a note here when you make changes to your list!) 

  • $1-$5 Gifts: Your categories may differ, depending on the ages in your family and your personal budgets. We have to consider young children, teenagers, college students, and adults of all sorts.
  • $5-$15 Gifts: If you have specific items in mind, you might include links to places these might be found. Many in our families are avid readers, so we often have lists of books here – and links to or to make it easy
  • $15-$30 Gifts:  Grown-up level
  • Big Gifts: Because you never know when someone might find a great deal, or several people collaborate
  • Crafts, Work, and Services: Busy people may appreciate help with a particular hard-to-schedule need. One of Hal’s hopes last year was for help replacing our garage door – and two of our adult sons came over and made a weekend project of it!