Wednesday, July 3, 2013

From one homeschooling mom to another

             by Peggy Smith


“Why are we reading, if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage, and the hope of meaningfulness, and press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so we may feel again their majesty and power?”

                                                                                            --Annie Dillard,  The Writing Life, 1990

As some of you may know, Dave and I formally began our homeschooling adventure back in 1982 when our first born was kindergarten age and when there was not a whole lot of support or written information to turn to and learn from. Five homeschooled, college graduates later, if I could offer one small bit of advice, I would recommend that mom and dad take some time to familiarize themselves and take advantage of the wealth of advice now readily available.

That being said, the following is a list of recommended books about homeschooling, for those of you who are new at this grand adventure, for those  who need a refresher course, or for those who feel you need to breathe some new life into your homeschooling style or program:

(Some of these books may have been written a while ago when homeschooling was still pretty much an under-used educational option, but, if you haven’t yet read them they are still packed with timeless wisdom.)

What is a Family? by Edith Schaeffer: Essentially—the family as an ever changing mobile of life…a center for the formation of human relationships…a perpetual relayer of truth…an educational control…a museum of memories…and more

A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola: explains the 6-volume Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling in one volume. An easy read.

For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay: presents the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling in an understandable and doable form

For the Family’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay: having time for a rich home life

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens by Debra Bell: a MUST READ for parents presently homeschooling middle-schoolers, about to homeschool middle-schoolers, or those with high schoolers but have somehow missed out on reading this wonderfully informative book!

The Well-Trained Mind by Jesse Wise and Susan Wise Bauer: a detailed guide to putting together a classical educational program

So, Mom or Dad, pick one of these titles and tuck it into your luggage for reading on vacation, or during quiet summer evenings, or for when you have to sit and wait for your children during swim lessons. Guaranteed to stimulate thoughtful conversation!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Advice Every Young Person Needs to Hear

April 9, 2013

Last year I spoke at the graduation ceremony for Cedar Brook Academy in Clarksburg, MD.  It was fun seeing the excited faces of the graduates as they endured my boring speech waiting for the big moment when they could cross the stage and officially transition into adulthood.  Thinking back to my own graduation, I remembered that feeling and the sense of hope and promise.
Unfortunately, my moment of career enlightenment was still 15 years away.  Between that moment and the day I decided my current career path, I endured plenty of failures, disappointments, bad jobs, horrible bosses, and uncomfortable work environments.  Maybe it made me who I am today, but I certainly could have used some good career coaching early in my career!
From what I see, these are the common challenges facing today’s young folks (and I define “young” as ages 16 – 21):
 High school curriculum that requires a student to choose between a college degree and nothing else.
 Colleges actively marketing liberal arts degrees that don’t translate into marketable or even transferable skills.
 High levels of unemployment and a logjam of college grads that are competing for jobs along with seasoned professionals.
 The rising cost of college educations that translate into massive amounts of student loan debt.
 Pressure from parents and teachers to follow a traditional career path (find a career, a good company, and work there until you retire).
So what’s a student to do?
In preparation for a move from high school to college to career, I recommend students consider the following:
 Look at current career fields and talk to professionals in those fields about its future what is the long-term viability of this field?  Where will it go in the future?  What should I be learning now to be prepared for the current and future trends?
 Think about what customers and industries your chosen career path supports.  Watch and read the news to see the trends.  Right now if your field involves seniors (old people), then you will have about 20+ years of an expanded population to work with.  If you’re thinking about the Federal government or a contractor-type job, remember that even after sequestration, you can expect federal budgets to be much smaller, leading to less opportunity.
 Think MONEY and JOB OPENING first.  PASSION LATER.  Youre young.  Trust me, youll have time to do the fun stuff later!
 Seriously consider STEM degrees.  Ive been beat up before in blogs about this one but if this is where the future jobs are, get in now.  You can pursue your passion later once you’ve managed to set up your household and started your investments for retirement.
 Consider blue-collar trades.  As 81 million Baby Boomers are nearing retirement, many of the current tradesmen such as plumbers, carpenters, auto mechanics, electricians, machinists, etc. are retiring too.  Learn a trade now and go back to college later to gain the business skills to start your own business.
 Consider entrepreneurship.  Think about what problems plague you and people you know.  Can you solve them?  Can you make money solving them?  If so, maybe that’s your path.
 Consider relocating.  I watched a program a few months ago about the great Dust Bowl that devastated the Midwest during the Great Depression.  When the money and the opportunities dried up, people physically moved.  If opportunities in your career field don’t exist where you want to live, MOVE!
 If you do in fact choose a career in teaching, counseling, etc. just realize that your salary will be low.  Additionally, if youre thinking about these fields, remember that many of these positions are state-funded and with most states in significant debt, these positions are being cut frequently.
 Set a goal and think about the path to get there.  Want to be a physician? Consider joining the military and using the Health Professional Scholarship Program (HPSP) to have your degree paid for.  Yeah youll owe the military your time, but you’ll get good experience and have NO debt!!!
 Finally, its not to soon to sign up for life insurance and begin investing in your retirement.  Social Security wont be there for you.  Unless you want to be a homeless old person, invest now.  Life insurance seems like a negative purchase, but if you have a family later and end up dying, you’ll want to make sure your income is replaced so your family won’t suffer economically.  It only gets more expensive the older you get.  Get in now and lock in a low rate!
This is the kind of advice I wish I got way back in 1981. Now it’s my gift to you.  If you’re a student, it’s probably what your parents have said but often I find that kids will listen to strangers first.  Consider me that stranger and listen OK?

 Malcolm Munro

Friday, November 18, 2011


In the late ‘80’s CBA was in its growing stages. The staff of CBA were newbies helping newbies in this adventure of home-schooling. We were 20+ years younger then and full of ideas and energy. We had all kinds of ideas and visions of how this ministry might grow and serve enrolled students and families. Too many ideas, actually. To the CBA board it was clear that we should narrow our focus and, as they suggested, “make haste slowly and do a few things well”. “With excellence”, one added, and then suggested that excellence offers a great opportunity to accomplish God’s purposes in ministry. He shared four principles.
1. Excellence honors God
2. Excellence inspires learners
3. Excellence impacts observers
4. Excellence attracts gifted people
I wrote these four principles down that night. They have been a good touchstone for the ministry and are applicable to many areas. As a home-educating family you have a unique opportunity to prepare your children to be salt and light for their generation. Together with the One who walks with us we can do the job . . . with excellence.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Putting Away The Things of Summer

If we work upon marble, it will perish;
if in brass, time will efface it;
if we rear temples, they will crumble into dust;
but if we work upon young minds and imbue them with principles,
and the just fear of God and love for our fellow man,
we engrave on those tablets something
that will continue to brighten to all eternity.

All across “CBA land” students are preparing to put away the “things of summer” and are about to take pencils in hand and books to the kitchen table as the adventure of learning begins afresh. We at CBA are thrilled and honored to be working and learning together with such wonderful students and their families. 2011- 12 promises to be a school year filled with new challenges and opportunities. We can be sure that each moment and event is planned and orchestrated by a loving creator for our growth. In 2 Chronicles 16:9 the Lord reminds us that His “eyes move to and fro throughout the whole earth” and promises that He will “strongly support those whose hearts are completely His.” Imagine God’s constant attention and strong support for you and your family as you take up the task of teaching and training productive servants and Christ-followers for the next generation. As we begin a new year together it is our prayer that we all will continue to grow in the knowledge of His ways and the confidence of His strong support.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

25 Years Later...The Best Is Yet To Come

About 25 years ago, a small group of parents sat in a living room and began to envision a ministry of a different sort.

They mused about a "hybrid" between a traditional Christian school and a program that allowed parents to be a more integral part of the education and training of their children; a program that existed solely to support Christian parents as they followed God’s direction and leading in the teaching and training of their children; a program that put people ahead of the program; a ministry that set a standard of excellence which would honor God, inspire learners, impact observers, attract gifted servants and motivate a new generation of Christ followers.

These folks demonstrated a deep commitment to their children along with an eager faith and a bold spirit. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote of people who "go not where the path may lead," but instead, "go where there is no path and leave a trail."

About that time I volunteered to "paper & file" as the vision of Cedar Brook Academy began to develop. As the years rolled on, these "parent pioneers" of CBA have helped those of us (who continued to "paper & file") stay close to the founding principles of the ministry discussed in that living room over 20 years ago.

The past 25 years have seen hundreds of families, several thousand students and more than 400 graduates of CBA walk across a stage to enter a world seeking the Master they serve. Looking back over the past 25 years, it has been a joy to watch the work God has done and a great honor to have been a part of the adventure of Cedar Brook Academy...and the best is yet to come!