The Homeschool Minute ~ Hal & Melanie Young

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How do I balance building character and academics?    

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Raising Real Men    

One of the things that frustrates us the most is having a list a mile long when one of the children has the kind of meltdown you can’t ignore. You know the kind we’re talking about–where Mutiny on the Bounty and the Civil War are happening at the same time . . . in your living room. The kind of meltdown that demands full attention from every adult who is home or who can be reached by cell phone. The kind of meltdown that includes tears, accusations, recriminations, and anger. The kind of meltdown that takes forever to work out.

Or, maybe it’s just a series of minor discipline issues. Gripe, gripe, gripe. Whine, whine, whine. Pestering and teasing. It’s not just one child; it’s everyone. All day.


Sometimes we get to the end of the day and think, “Great, just great. The entire day is wasted. We’ve gotten nothing done. Nothing. Arrggghhhh. Sometimes we’ve even said it aloud to the children. Surely you’ve felt the same way. Is it right, though? Are those days really wasted?


Wonder what the Lord thinks about it?


When we look through the Word of God, we see very little about academics, but a great deal about discipleship. That’s a little hard for us to admit. We love academics. We love books. We love learning. But, we have to love God first.


With that in mind, it’s pretty clear that character has got to come before academics. How can you manage that without chucking the academics entirely? Here are some thoughts:


When one child is losing it, sit him down and tell him you’ll be with them in a minute, and then give the other children instructions so they can keep going.


Keep your cool. Somebody’s got to be the adult in the situation and it’s not going to be your child! The calmer we are, the faster we’ll be able to bring our child to his senses.


Use the Word of God. It’s much more powerful than our words! We like to pull out For Instruction in Righteousness by Doorposts and have each of us take terms reading the passages that apply to our situation. It’s always amazing to see the Lord change their hearts–and ours.


Fully forgive. We should be careful not to “forgive” by being grudging or angry, but by showing joy that our child has come to repentance. We often think of the father of the prodigal son for an example. When we forgive our children fully and freely, we teach them about God.


Don’t despair. Why are we homeschooling anyway? For our family, it’s all about serving God. If so, maybe we should be satisfied when God’s curriculum for the day is different than ours. When we think about it that way, it changes everything, doesn’t it?

This month we’re celebrating the twentieth anniversary of our homeschool. Honestly, we’ve had an awful lot of those days that feel wasted to us. When we look at the godly men our grown children have become, though, we realize that those “wasted” days were probably the most important ones of all.  


Yours in the battle,

Hal & Melanie


P.S. When our boys were nine to twelve years old, it seemed like days like that were constant. Need some practical ideas? Need some encouragement and hope? Join us for Boot Camp 9-12: Getting Geared Up for the Teen Years–a LIVE interactive webinar series for parents of boys nine to twelve years old. Our next session starts tomorrow! Click here for more information.


Marriage? What does that have to do with homeschooling? Lots! Spend some time on the two of you in our Marriage Retreat Online, the only marriage retreat you don’t have to hire a sitter for, our LIVE interactive webinar series for couples–by the authors of My Beloved and My Friend: How to be Married to Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses! Click here!


Our world continues to grow in complexity and uncertainty. Despite the challenges in today’s world, there are two essential areas for us to guide our children to ensure they have the best chance to reach their hopes and dreams: academics and character.


The statistics are clear about the importance of an academic education to enable our children to reach their potential. Despite this overwhelming evidence about the importance of education, we have all experienced the disastrous impact when leaders in business, ministry, or public service have a great academic education, but lack character in the conduct of their responsibilities. The importance of strengthening character along with an academic education is a “winning” combination for sustaining a life of positive impact.


How do we do both as parents and educators? Here are a few steps to consider:

  1. The instruction of academics should be reinforced with the importance of character. Without the demonstration of character traits like discipline and commitment, most students will not achieve academic success. As parents, when we provide academic instruction, we should reinforce the instruction with the necessary character traits that will ensure success. “Learning a second language is important to succeed in a diverse world and it will not come about without strong commitment and determination” is an example of speaking to the importance of both.
  2. Reinforce the importance of character in successes and failures in the academic journey of our children. “You set a great example of perseverance by overcoming a slow start in math to then finish the year with an A” is an example of reinforcing character in everyday academic results.

The consistent application of these small steps will ensure our children grow in appreciation of the importance of academics and character in reaching their goals.

Character Creates Opportunity

David Esposito, Managing Partner, Harvest Time Partners, Inc.


David has developed award-winning resources under the brand Character Creates Opportunity®, a character-development initiative designed for all ages. He is the inventor of Abundant Harvest®–families, schools, counseling programs, and faith-based organizations nationwide enjoy playing this patented and award-winning conversation game. It opens the door to more productive dialogue and encourages decision making based on such principles as honesty, loyalty, and commitment. David provides support to individuals, families, and organizations on a variety of topics.


You can contact David at or by calling (877) 786-4278. Visit to learn more.



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