Review: The 101 Series — Biology

Biology for homeschoolDuring our homeschooling years, we stumbled upon a few really wonderful resources put together by homeschooling families. Biology 101, by Westfield Studios (Wes Olson) was one of them. This is a 4-DVD set, with printable PDF guidebook for the student. A “Course Accreditation Program” booklet is also included for families who want to use the program as a year-long course.

We loved these beautifully done videos! They were easy to understand, visually appealing, and entertaining in how the information was presented. God is not relegated to a mere mention here and there; the materials center on Him and His Word, which we so appreciated.

The Olsons recommend the materials for 15 years and older. However, if you like to teach several age levels all at the same time, the videos are appropriate for even small children. In my opinion, 6th grade and above should have no trouble handling both the videos and the guidebook materials.

Biology 101 is accurately advertised as a biology overview. It does not go into as much technical detail as many other biology courses do. While some families may find the materials adequate to cover a full year of biology, we felt we needed to go deeper, so we finished with a more comprehensive Christian biology textbook from Bob Jones University. But we really enjoyed the time spent with Biology 101.

The Olson family has since produced Chemistry 101 and Physics 101. Unfortunately, these were not yet available while we were homeschooling. If they had been, we would have undoubtedly purchased them. You can sample all three in the series by watching generously sized introductory videos at The 101 Series website.

Pricing for Biology, Chemistry, and Physics 101 is currently $69.95 each, with significant savings if you purchase all three as a bundle. Purchase directly from their website.

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Protecting Our Children from Supernatural Evil (Part 3)

Christian parentingIn our last two posts, we talked about activities which can lead to harassment from evil spirits. We also discussed principles to help our children grow in spiritual discernment, so that they will know what to avoid. And, I shared a simple process for gaining freedom if you or your children are already experiencing various forms of spiritual affliction, such as nightmares.

Today, we’ll talk about teaching the beginning principles of personal spiritual warfare to  our children. This is a subject which they should become familiar with even in their early years. We want them to know what to do if spiritual attack comes their way. Here are concepts even young children should be informed of:

1.) There is a God, and there is a devil — but God is WAY bigger.

Explain that God is the Creator of everything, His power and knowledge are unlimited, and He is able to be everywhere all at the same time.

Tell them the devil is one of God’s created beings. He was once an angel of great power in heaven, but he and other angels with him rebelled against God. So, the Lord threw them out of heaven. These evil angels now want to ruin God’s plans.

Assure them that, unlike God, the devil and his evil angels are limited in their power. They do not know everything, nor can they be in more than one place at a time.

Learn 1 John 4:4 together: “You belong to God, little children, and have overcome them [evil spirits]: because greater is He [God] Who is in you than he [the devil] who is in the world.”

2.) God will always take care of them.

Assure them that angels are always guarding them. Psalm 91:11“For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”

 Each person has a special guardian angel all his own. Matthew 18:10“Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones, for … in heaven their angels always behold the face of My Father Who is in heaven.”

Tell them there are many promises in the Bible that God will keep them safe from evil. (Psalm 4:8, Psalm 91, and Psalm 121 are just a few. I recommend memorizing these psalms with your children.)

3.) The devil tries to fool us with lies — but God always tells us the truth.

Assure them that God speaks good and loving things into our minds, which are in keeping with the Bible. Any thought which questions God’s goodness, or tears down ourselves or other people, is not from God.

Help them understand that the devil and his helpers will insert thoughts or temptations in their minds which are wrong. Explain that they should resist those thoughts.

Tell them that they can make those thoughts stop by commanding the evil spirit to be quiet and leave, in Jesus’ name.

Explain that if they have Jesus living in their hearts, they have the power to command evil spirits to go in Jesus’ name, and they must obey. (This is a great opportunity to lead them to Jesus, if they have not already given their hearts to Him.)

Verses to memorize, which go with this idea:

1 John 4:4“You belong to God, little children, and have overcome them [evil spirits]: because greater is He [God] Who is in you than he [the devil] who is in the world.”

James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

4.) What if they see evil spirits? Don’t be surprised if your children say odd things about invisible people or creatures. Children often see into the spirit realm more easily than many adults. It is not always imaginary. They may see angels; they may see evil spirits.

Teach them that if they see monsters or other scary beings, they do not have to be afraid. Tell them to command the scary creatures to leave, in the name of Jesus — just like if they are tempted with bad thoughts.

5.) What if they have scary dreams? Again, tell them that Jesus and His angels are always there to protect them, so they don’t have to be afraid. And instruct them again that they can command the devil to leave them alone in Jesus’ name.

6.) Jesus has given us spiritual armor.

Memorize together Ephesians 6:10-18. You can do it one verse at a time. Explain the significance of each piece. I have written an article on this, if you need help — Jesus Is the Armor!

Have fun with it by making a paper doll soldier with pieces of the armor. Here are some links to help you:

http://www.dltk-bible.com/crafts/armor/mpaperarmor.htm

https://ministry-to-children.com/armor-of-god-coloring-pages/

http://www.supercoloring.com/coloring-pages/armour-of-god (coloring page)

7.) They are overcomers, because God says they are.

Assure them that even when they feel weak, Jesus is strong, and He fights our battles for us.

Remind them that they have angels to protect them, too.

Tell them the Word of God promises that they will always win their spiritual battles, if they trust Jesus to help them.

Verses to learn:

1 Corinthians 15:57“But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 Corinthians 2:14 “Now thanks be to God, Who always causes us to triumph in Christ….”

If you teach these spiritual warfare principles to your children, they will be well equipped from an early age to deal confidently and victoriously with evil spirits.

Previous: Part 2 (Teaching children to discern good from evil)

homeschool character training education

 

Character Building for Families

 

Protecting Our Children from Supernatural Evil (Part 2)

homeschoolingLast time, I gave you a list of ways occult influences can gain entrance to our children’s lives. Lists can be useful as eye openers and general guidelines. However, the enemy of our souls is skilled in subtly changing his tactics for ensnaring people. If we only depend upon lists which are relevant today, we may not know how to detect evil which has been repackaged in the latest fad tomorrow. We must teach our children how to discern less obvious evil, so that they don’t get sucked into it.

Discernment can begin with some basic questions:

1.) Is the activity forbidden in the Bible?

2.) Does it promise power apart from depending on God?

3.) Does it promise peace apart from God?

4.) Does it try to control others — or even ourselves? (“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”2 Corinthians 3:17.)

5.) Where does it look to for wisdom, revelation, or inspiration — the Holy Spirit, or some other source? (“In [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge … and you are complete in Him….”Colossians 2:3, 10)

6.) Does it have the feeling of darkness or light?

7.) Would Jesus play / watch / read it with you? (Be honest now!)

8.) What do born again believers in Jesus, who came out of false religion or the occult, have to say about that activity?

9.) Do I have complete inner peace about participating in this, or do I have to convince myself that it is harmless? (“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts….” — Colossians 3:15. “Rule” in this verse means to act as an umpire.)

We should train our children to apply these questions as a “litmus test” for whether an activity is safe and appropriate for them as a follower of Jesus.

If you or your children are already having nightmares, great fear, panic attacks, or unexplained chronic health issues, here are a few simple steps you can take to be free:

Stop, repent, and renounce. Decide that you and your family will no longer entertain yourself with evil or compromising things. Ask the Lord to forgive you. But a third step is needed for full freedom: renunciation. To renounce something means to cut all ties with it and the spirits connected to it.

Here is a sample prayer for how to close the entranceways to evil spirits through renouncing them and their activity. You can lead your children through such a prayer, too, simplifying the wording for the younger ones:

Father, I ask You to forgive me for engaging in occult practices or influences in the past. I now renounce those activities completely. I break the ties between myself and all occult spirits. I command them to let go of me and leave my life forever, in Jesus’ name. Now, I shut the door of my life to all occult spirits. I claim Jesus as my Deliverer, and I put the blood of Jesus between myself and these things, in Jesus’ name.

Cleanse your home of any items which may have ties to evil.  Look for reading materials, DVDs, CDs, video games, or artwork which might be entrance points for evil spirits. Souvenirs from a nation or culture where witchcraft is prevalent can be the source of a problem. Ask God to highlight to your attention objects which don’t feel “right.” If you feel uncomfortable with an item, that is the Holy Spirit prompting you to throw it out. (No matter what its value, do not sell it or give it away. Why pass problems on to others?)

Then, in the name of Jesus, command any evil spirits which have been present because of those objects to depart from your home. Declare that the blood of Jesus now stands as protection throughout and around your home, and that all entrances back in are now closed to the enemy.

What if you don’t have any articles of concern in your home? Even if you have had nothing to do with the occult, and you don’t find any questionable objects, there could be evil spirits still hanging around from a previous owner or tenant. This would be most noticeable if you have recently moved in, or if you have been having nightmares or other spiritual problems for the duration of the time you have lived there.

Take the same steps of commanding evil spirits to leave and applying the blood of Jesus, as I’ve shared in the previous section. Create an atmosphere of the Lord’s Presence through immersing your home in worship music and prayer. Evil spirits don’t like to hang around in such an atmosphere.

Next time, we will talk about how to teach our children, even  at young ages, the principles of spiritual warfare, so that they know how to protect themselves. I promise you it won’t be dark or scary. We’ll keep the light of Jesus shining.

Previous: Part 1 (A list of activities to avoid)
Next: Part 3 (Basic spiritual warfare for children)

 

Character Building for Families

 

Protecting Our Children from Supernatural Evil (Part 1)

Christian parentingAt my Out of the Fire blog, the most-visited post of all time is one about getting free of nightmares which involve feeling suffocated, choked, a horror of great darkness, etc. Typically, the dreamer struggles to call out the name of Jesus and has a hard time doing so — but when he succeeds, the nightmare immediately ends.

Many, many believers are experiencing these terrifying dreams, which are actually demonic in nature. Why is this so common? Why are multitudes of Christians afflicted with this? The answer in most cases is that they have had some involvement with the occult – often going back to their childhood.

You may say, “That could never happen in our home. We don’t dabble with the occult at our house.” Good for you! However, it is all around us, showing up sometimes in subtle ways, which aren’t always easily recognized.

It is our responsibility to protect our children from demonic influences, so that they don’t suffer from them through nightmares or in some other way. We must be vigilant to keep them safe while they are very young and to instruct them so that, as they get older, they know how to protect themselves.

Let’s start with an elementary list of some of the things we must, as believers, totally avoid:

  1. Ouija boards
  2. ESP (extra sensory perception) games and exercises
  3. Fortune telling
  4. Seances / mediums / attempting to contact the dead / “channeling”
  5. Astrology (horoscopes) — I might add that quite a few of the personality quizzes and games people indulge in on FaceBook are actually covers for astrology.
  6. Experiments with levitation, astral projection, telepathy, releasing “energy” toward others
  7. Spells and incantations
  8. Feng Shui, Reiki, Taoism, other Eastern religions

Those are fairly obvious no-no practices for most of us, aren’t they?

But there are more subtle forms of occult influence. Some of these should still be obvious, but apparently they are not, since so many Christians participate in them:

Harry Potter, Twilight (vampires), zombies, Merlin — You may think these materials are just harmless entertainment. I have heard Christians hotly defend them. Unfortunately, they are an open door to the influence of evil spirits in our lives, whether we want to admit it or not.

Halloween celebrations — Again, hotly defended by many believers. Ask any Christian who formerly was a satanist what they think about this! We are being very foolish in trying to whitewash, or even Christianize, this holiday.

Pokémon — Short for “pocket monster,” the origin of the characters is Japanese folklore, including demons. Here is an article from Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry which outlines some of what goes on with Pokémon and Pokémon Go. Decide for yourself, after reading. (It’s not one of those hyper-ventilating articles, by the way.)

Dora the Explorer — Now you may really think I am nuts! I’m sorry, but those cute little shows contain magic. It looks innocent, but it is not. With any children’s TV shows, I believe we should pay attention to what is taking place in them before we plunk our children down in front of them. The Holy Spirit will help us discern, if we just ask.

Personally, I would avoid any children’s shows which incorporate mystical powers, magic wands, saying magical phrases, exploring pagan temples, or spooky things. They encourage a taste for these things in our children. In my opinion, it is better to stand conservatively when it comes to questionable entertainment.

Yoga — Whether you utilize the breathing techniques or only the exercise positions, yoga opens doors to demonic influences. You cannot use the breathing exercises and try to listen for the Holy Spirit through them. They open the way for evil spirits to speak into your mind. Each of the exercise stances are dedicated to a Hindu god (demon). It is not possible to Christianize yoga, no matter how we try. Former Hindus who now follow Jesus understand what is involved in yoga, and have nothing to do with it. Maybe we should listen to them.

Masonic things — including the King’s Daughters and the Shriners. These are not social clubs. Freemasonry is completely immersed in the worship of demonic entities, incantations, and placing curses upon oneself and family (even to future generations).

Hypnotism (and any other type of mind control)

Fortune cookies — They are what they are called, folks. Eat the cookie, leave the little paper inside unread.

Energy healing and acupuncture

Mind reading, mental telepathy

Aliens — Many of you are probably Star Trek and Star Wars fans. This is a bit of a gray area. I think some of the things in sci-fi should be avoided as viewing entertainment — like mind reading and mental telepathy, or the concept of equal light and dark sides of “the Force.” That harks back to the Eastern religion concept of yin and yang, while the Bible teaches us that the devil is NOT equal in power to the Lord — not even close, in fact. Besides, God is not an impersonal force we tap into. He is a Trinity of three Persons, with emotions, desires, and love for us.

Entertaining ourselves with stories of aliens is borderline, in my opinion, depending on what goes on. However, do keep in mind that some unfortunate people have had genuine encounters with “aliens,” which are really demonic entities out to deceive people with tales of superior powers and intelligence and wanting to bring peace to Planet Earth. Often these encounters involve gross sexual perversion and mind control.

So, be careful what you allow in sci-fi entertainment into your home, so that you do not inadvertently open a door to the occult.

Some role-playing games Dungeons and Dragons should be obvious, but others (like Pokémon Go) may be less obvious.

Lists are a good place to start in the quest to protect our children from evil, but they are only a beginning. Occult deceptions can be quite subtle, so we also need to teach our children how to discern by the Holy Spirit. Next time, we’ll talk about that.

Next: Part 2 (Teaching spiritual discernment)

 

Character Building for Families

Leading Them to Water

You are no doubt familiar with the saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

Sometimes, our children are like that horse when it comes to spiritual things. They may not be as enthusiastic about Jesus as we would like them to be. Perhaps you have tried teaching them to pray. You have read the Bible to them and encouraged them to read it for themselves. But you see in their eyes and their body language that they really could not care less.

It is worrisome, isn’t it? What is a parent to do? Maybe you have given up trying. Don’t do that. Or, if you already have given up, try again. Continue to “lead them to water,” so to speak — the water of God’s Word, the water of His Presence. Give the opportunity, time and again, whether they respond in their hearts or not. Because, if you keep on presenting the water to them, the day may come when they will suddenly want to drink. But if you give up on leading them to the watering trough too quickly, it may not happen.

I don’t mean browbeat them, or try to force them to say the sinner’s prayer. Don’t nag at them about their spiritual coldness. None of that will do any good. It’s not up to you to save them; only the Holy Spirit can work the needed change in their hearts. Your job is to bring them to the water, and that’s all.

Do make it part of your daily routine to pray and read the Bible aloud together with them. This is important, even if they don’t seem hugely interested. If they refuse to actively participate, they should still know that they are expected to be present with you in it. Just don’t stop giving the opportunity.

For prayer, ask them questions which may engage them, such as, “Do you want me to pray for you about anything?” “Do you know of anyone who might be in need of prayer?” Even if they don’t wish to pray themselves, they may still appreciate your offer to pray for them or the things they are concerned about.

When you read the Bible, try to draw them into discussion.

  • “What did you think about the story we read today?”
  • “Did you have a favorite character?”
  • “What thoughts or pictures came to mind as we read?”
  • “What would you have done in that Bible character’s shoes?”

If they don’t respond very much, volunteer what you got out of the story, or your favorite character, or how you think you would have felt in that character’s place. Keep their thinking wheels engaged.

Don’t stop talking to your children about Jesus. Keep expressing to them throughout the day how good Jesus is. You might have to practice at first to make this a natural habit, but after a while, it will become second nature. Tell them about answers to prayer you have received. Frequently share with them what the Lord has spoken to you about, or things He is currently showing you personally for your life. These are informal ways you can keep leading them to Jesus, the living water.

Talk about Jesus more than church life. It is easy to expend more of our speech on our horizontal relationships with people in the church than on the Lord. If our children hear us saying negative things about church or church people, it can harden their hearts toward God. Refrain from gossip and critical comments. Avoid speaking in front of them about how people have offended you. This is hard to do consistently, so when you realize you have failed at it, be transparent and humble before your children. Tell them you messed up, and ask them to forgive you for speaking wrongly.

Respect their thoughts and feelings. With good reason the apostle Paul wrote, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21). Our children’s hearts can become hardened if we are harsh or too authoritarian with them, or if we do not ask their forgiveness for hurting them. Asking their forgiveness goes a long way toward healing wounds and softening their hearts toward the Lord.

If you have failed in these and other areas in the past, all is not lost. Ask the Lord to repair the damage already done, and He will certainly do that for you. He is a God of restoration, redemption, and miracles. Bringing the broken pieces to Him is all He requires in order to begin the process of restoring that which has been marred.

Keep praying for your children, that God will open their hearts toward Him. The prayers of a parent for that wayward child are powerful. In fact, prayer is the most powerful tool we have for getting our children in right relationship with the Lord and keeping them there. God hears and eagerly responds to your prayers for your children. You will have to wait patiently for Him to work in His perfect timing, but be expectant that He will.

The bottom line is to persevere — in prayer for them and in leading them gently back to the water. If you will do that, you will see the day come when they are ready to drink.

 

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Teaching Truth to Our Children — 5 Free Lessons

Hello, friends!

It has been a busy summer at our house — family visiting us, trips to see family, and all the usual summer stuff. I hope to begin writing a new blog series soon. In the meantime, here are five free lessons from the Truthfulness unit of our book, Character Building for Families, Volume 1. There are nineteen lessons in that unit, which will lead you and your children into thinking about truth in speech, actions, and most importantly, truth as an attribute of the heart. I hope you will enjoy the lessons!

TRUTHFULNESS

DAY 1

  1. Introduction
    1. “Today we begin a new unit — TRUTHFULNESS. What would be a good definition of truthfulness?”
    2. DEFINITION: “Truthfulness is saying, thinking, and living what is really so. The opposite of this would be saying, thinking, or living a lie.”
    3. “Why is being truthful so important in God’s eyes?” (God is truth; His Word is truth.)
    4. “God wants us to be like Him. That’s why He teaches us about truthfulness in the Bible.”
  2. Read Psalm 19:7-10. Discuss each verse carefully, emphasizing the points listed below:
    1. 7 — Law of the Lord perfect (no mistakes, complete). His testimony is sure (unshakably true).
    2. 8 — His statutes right, His commandments pure (clean of error)
    3. 9 — His judgments true
    4. 10 — “Therefore, because of His truth, how can we feel about His Word?” (more desirable than wealth, sweet to us)
  3. Read Psalm 119:140, 142, and 160.
    1. “Does God’s Word have error or lies in it?” (v.140 — very pure, v.142 — is the truth)
    2. “Can we trust all of God’s Word as truth, or is some of it just stories?” (v.160 — true from the beginning)
  4. Thank God for the truth of His Word.

DAY 2

  1. “What is our definition of truthfulness?” (Refer to Day 1.)
  2. “Let’s look at a few Scripture verses that tell us God’s Word is completely true.”
    1. Psalm 12:6 — very pure, no imperfections
    2. Psalm 93:5 — very sure, or certain
    3. II Samuel 7:28 — “…thy words be true…”
    4. Proverbs 30:5 — “Every word of God is pure…”
  3. “Jesus also had some things to say about the truth of God’s Word.”
    1. John 10:35 — “…the Scripture cannot be broken.” (proved false, contradictory)
    2. John 17:17 — God’s Word is truth; we are sanctified (made clean and holy) by God’s true Word.
  4. Thank God we can trust in the purity and truth of His Word.

DAY 3

  1. “Would God ever lie to us?” “How do we know He wouldn’t lie?”
  2. Read the following Scriptures and discuss:
    1. Titus 1:2
    2. Numbers 23:19
    3. Hebrews 6:18
  3. “Because of these Scriptures we have just read, and the verses we studied in our last lesson, we can be confident God would never lie to us. It is not at all in His nature.  He says exactly what He means.”
  4. Thank God and tell Him how glad we are He cannot lie.

DAY 4

  1. Review
    1. “What was our definition of truthfulness?”
    2. “What have we learned about God’s truthfulness?”
    3. “What have we learned about the reliability of His Word?”
  2. “Jesus says He is Himself truth.” (Read the following verses together.)
    1. John 14:6 — the way, truth, and life
    2. Revelation 3:7
    3. Revelation 3:14 – “Faithful and True” is one of the names, or titles, of Jesus.
    4. Revelation 19:11 — again referring to Jesus as Faithful and True
  3. “Proverbs 14:5 tells us, ‘a faithful witness will not lie.’ Since Jesus is the Faithful and True Witness, we know He will not lie.  We can trust fully whatever He says.”
  4. “If God is always truth, where do lies come from? Let’s read John 8:44 to find out.”  (read)
    1. “The devil is the father of lies. He never, ever tells the truth.  Even when he quoted Scripture to Jesus in the wilderness, he twisted it by pulling it out of context.  He likes to tell half-truths.  Half-truths are just another way of lying.  They are not true at all.  Can you explain a half-truth to me?”
    2. “This is why we must be so careful to know the whole Bible well, so we don’t get fooled by the devil misquoting Scripture to us, in our minds, or through false teachers.”
    3. “If the devil is the father of lies, does that mean we can blame it all on him when we lie?” (No, we must take responsibility for our own actions.)
  5. Thank Jesus that He is the Faithful and True Witness. Ask Him to keep us from being fooled by the devil’s lies.

DAY 5

  1. Review
    1. “Who is truth?”
    2. “Who cannot tell the truth?”
    3. “Who cannot lie?”
    4. “Whom do we want to be like?”
  2. Read Proverbs 6:16-19.
    1. “What is an abomination?” (a hateful, grossly disgusting thing)
    2. “Notice that at least two of the seven things mentioned that God hates concern lying– a lying tongue and a false witness that speaks lies. ‘A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations’ could also have to do with lying, because wicked imaginations are evil thoughts, which could be thoughts not filled with truth.”
  3. Read Proverbs 12:22.
    1. “What does God have to say about lying?” (an abomination)
    2. “What does God have to say about those that act in a true fashion?” (He delights in them.)
  4. “Today we have talked about three ways that a person can either tell the truth or lie:
    1. By speaking (Prov. 12:22, Prov. 6:17)
    2. In the thoughts (Prov. 6:18)
    3. In the actions (Prov. 12:22)”
  5. Pray for grace to tell the truth in our thoughts, in our words, and in our actions.

Unfortunately, the blogging platform I use doesn’t permit me to accurately show how the pages look in our Character Building for Families books. But here is a picture.

Sample page -- Character Building for Families

I hope you enjoy using the lessons I’ve posted! If you think you would like more, please visit us at Character Building for Families! And, if you have found these five lessons useful, please pass on the post link to others who might also benefit from them. Thank you!

Character Building for Families

Teach Your Kids to Build a Website!

In a previous post, we talked about including essential life skills in our homeschooling plan. Today, I would like to zero in on a particular skill which, in my opinion, no child should be without: the ability to set up and maintain a website.

You might ask, “What earthly good is it for my children to build websites if they aren’t going into a computer science career?” Much. In our day and age, the likelihood of owning a business at some point during one’s lifetime is good. Businesses often develop quite naturally from hobbies or other passions we pursue.

Even a small side business needs a website these days. If the owner has no knowledge of how websites are put together, he could end up spending hundreds, even thousands, of dollars for a basic package setup. And, if he doesn’t know how to make small changes, every time an update is needed (this can be often), he is again at the mercy of the website developer. More money must be paid out, and modifications may not happen as quickly as the owner would like.

By gaining familiarity with website basics now, your children will be able to tailor-fit, and tweak, their spot on the web. All this can be done cheaply and excellently — if they know how.

My daughter combined her writing skills with her knowledge of basic HTML coding (the stuff websites are made of) to start and maintain our church website as a volunteer during her teen years. Later, she turned that know-how into a side business as a copy writer, creating content for web developers. It was an unexpected path for her, and it probably never would have happened if we had not incorporated website building into her homeschooling experience.

Start with a Blog

The easiest way to get started with website building is through a blog. Most businesses now use WordPress to set up their website anyway these days. So, once you learn the basics of blogging, you are well on your way, using the built-in editor to get started. A little knowledge of coding will allow you to do fancier things than the editor allows (more on coding later).

For a free blog, register at WordPress.com. There are others available, but WordPress has the most features and is easy to use. I still use the WordPress free site for my blogs, even though I also use a paid hosting website for my business. WordPress allows you to choose from many different themes (appearances). You can tweak and customize within those themes, and if you get tired of one look, you can easily change over to something different. The blog settings allow you to control the level of privacy you want your child to have.

Why have your children blog?

  • Blogs are a great way to encourage your children to write. They can journal or create short stories and poems to share with extended family and friends.
  • Blogs can be used to record and preserve writing assignments.
  • Make on online scrapbook of memories via a blog — pictures and essays about special family outings, for instance.
  • Blogs provide an outlet to share about a particular passion or hobby.
  • Blogs can be a vehicle to share Jesus.

With adult supervision, even young children can create a blog of their own. As they grow older, what they include in their blog can progress to more complex ideas.

Next Step — HTML

Blogging using the default visual editor provided by WordPress is a nice start, but there are quite a few things which that basic editor won’t let you do. And sometimes, the visual editor gets stuck and won’t let you fix whatever went wrong. To do the more complex stuff, or to tweak what isn’t looking right, you need to know some basic HTML code. There is an “HTML” tab next to the visual editor. Use that. (Some blog platforms call it the “text” or “advanced” editor.) In the HTML editor,  you will see the codes which were automatically plugged in when you used the bold, italic, text color, and link buttons in the visual editor.

Have your older children play around with creating a blog post entirely from scratch in the HTML editor. To do that, they will need to learn basic HTML. It’s fairly simple and logical.

Links to simple HTML tags and tutorials:

Tutorials Point — HTML Basic Tags
A Simple Guide to HTML
Web Source

After you have played with HTML within your blog editor, you may want to move on to doing an entire website from scratch. Within your blog, WordPress has already done some of the preliminary coding for you. It is hidden code which you won’t see in the HTML editor. It is connected with whatever theme you picked out for your blog.

If you want to learn how to do the whole works, you can use a free website provider to get started. I began my website journey at Angelfire. Another free hosting site is Weebly. There are others, too. These sites will slap ads on your finished web pages, but they are a good place to practice. They usually feature an advanced editor for those who already know HTML. You can start by using their website builder tools to get the initial framework coding in place, and then switch over to the advanced editor after they help you with setup.

There are a lot more possibilities for website building than basic HTML, if you or your children are interested in exploring them. You will find links to additional free tutorials at my website’s Favorite Links page (near the bottom of that page).

Happy website building!