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More on Music Lessons, The Sunday School Dilemma

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, May 02, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 35 May 2, 2008
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2008 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!
And please visit our sponsors! They make it possible. :-)



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Notes from Heather
-- Reader Feedback on Music
Winning Website
-- Urban Homesteading Site
Reader Question
-- The Sunday School Dilemma
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Reader Feedback about Music Lessons


"A point to add to 'Finding a Music Teacher' -- ask to sit in
on a lesson (parent only) of another student to observe the
teacher's teaching style, surroundings and atmosphere of lessons,
etc. before choosing a teacher. You also will get a feel if this
is a good fit for your child and family." -- Melanie in MI


"Dear Heather -- Love your newsletter. One question though, and
I am sure this one is more difficult. We have a blind grandson,
who is 5. He has Norrie's Disease which is a genetic fluke and
he is 1 out 105 known cases here in the US. What I am interested
in as well as his mom and dad is this: Do you know how to get
in contact with anyone who knows how to get a music teacher for
him? They have plenty for the seeing, but no one here can help
us with the blind. He is very musical and any music he hears he
listens to very intently, and then shortly after, he will repeat
it word for word and have perfect pitch. Our daughter would like
to see him have piano lessons of some type. Do you have any
suggestions? Thank you so much again for your newsletters."
-- Dwight and Mabel S.

[Dear Dwight and Mabel -- A quick web-search turned up Mark Miller
of www.pianoweb.com who specializes in distance learning for the
blind and others. He is more of a jazz musician, but perhaps he
could direct you to someone else if you desire more of a classical
approach for your son. Good luck! -- Heather]


"Our children are 12, 7, 3, and 1. Our oldest son wanted to play
the trumpet as his first instrument. We decided that he needed
2 years of piano prior to any instrument. Three years later, the
trumpet is a thing of the past. He absolutely loves the piano.
He is also a kinesthetic learner (hands on) which makes this
possible. He as taken up acoustic guitar as well, but piano is
his love. My daughter (7) wanted to play flute -- again the 2
year piano requirement. She started with one teacher at age 5,
but the teacher needed time off. She also recommended we continue
with another teacher (her former teacher). This teacher was a
little harder and demanded more (with tough love of course). She
continued for about 6 more months (total of 1 1/2 years) before
she didn't want to take piano anymore. Her teacher thought maybe
the time off would help her to grow more. We didn't push it with
her until this past January when my son wanted to earn a little
extra money. We decided that he could give our daughter lessons
for $5.00/week. This gets him into teacher mode and there is
less pressure on our daughter. Wow! Have we seen her blossom!
She now practices every day and is doing great. She has even
taught herself some more difficult pieces. She is now asking
when she can play for offering at our church. On Sunday nights,
our church lets piano students play during the offering. She
also plays the pennywhistle and recorder, but not as diligently.
And this year for her birthday she will be getting the flute,
because now she is ready. Our son (3) loves to play his harmo-
nica and recorder. He does sit and tinker with the piano, and
amazingly doesn't pound on it like most kids his age. We found
a 'band in a box' set for him by First Act at Toys R Us. It has
a kazoo, harmonica, spoons, eggs, tambourine (also doubles as a
drum), and a wooden fish with a stick. He also received a set
of cymbals. My daughter (1) loves to play piano as well, again
not pounding. She also loves to play with her brother's musical
instruments as mentioned above. She also has a Little Tikes
xylophone. We are firm believers in letting them express their
musical abilities. We have never really forced the issue until
they were ready. My son is now extremely glad we made him take
the required years of piano; he too is teaching himself much more
difficult pieces. I think it gets easier with the younger ones;
they just assume it's part of the routine. By the time our
youngest is ready, she won't even give us the hard time. An
added note: if you have taken 17 years of piano, your children
have the best advantage. Also, another recommendation is to not
skimp on the price of instruments. For example: buy a good
harmonica, not one from the dollar store. This makes all the
difference. Just having things in the house will make them
curious. Plus - they make noise! What child doesn't like that?"
-- Kellie - NY


Do you have comments to share? Please do!
Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Winning Website

Path to Freedom

This week's site is a bit different than the type I usually
recommend. As I'm sure you've noticed, food prices are rising
at an alarming rate; large wholesalers are even monitoring, and
in some cases rationing, purchases of bulk rice and other staples.
Our family has begun to think about things we can do to be a
little less dependent on others for daily living. We live in a
medium-size city, and moving to a farm isn't a realistic option
for us. I stumbled onto today's website while searching for
information regarding "urban homesteading".

Though not educational as far as your kids go, I think we adults
can use a little education too! This site will give you a glimpse
into the life of a family, living in an urban environment, that
is striving to live in a way that they believe helps the environ-
ment and allows them to be more self-sufficient. This includes
harvesting 6000 POUNDS of food from their 1/5 of an acre property!
While I don't agree with everything they stand for, I feel we can
all learn something from perusing some of their blog entries. If
nothing else, it might inspire you and your kids to think of ways
your family can reduce energy/food costs - even it that just means
turning off the lights when we leave the room. :-)

-- Cindy at www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"My husband and I have always been very involved in our church,
teaching adults and children's classes, running programs, volun-
teering as chaperones, etc. We are very happy at our church.
However, for some time we've been concerned with our children's
Bible classes. There has been some content differing from our
beliefs and inappropriate student behavior not being dealt with
by the teachers. We have already pulled our kids (ages 8, 6 and
4) out of the 'children's church' so that we can go to worship
as a family. We teach Bible thoroughly at home, so there is no
educational reason for us to send our kids to Sunday school, but
at the same time, because we homeschool, most of our kids' friends
are at our church (the large majority being public schooled). I
am wondering how others have dealt with Sunday school issues at
their churches." -- Tammy

Our Readers' Responses

"I am blessed to not have to deal with that anymore. We were in
a church that had 'junior congregation'. I tried to help deal
with my then 8 year old daughter's frustration of being repeat-
edly asked by a fellow classmate when she would be allowed to
date. She repeatedly told him that she is not ready to get
married and nor was he and when she is she will not be dating.
We got the attitude of 'kids will be kids' when it was brought
to the attention of his parent. We left that church for reasons
like that and various doctrinal reasons. The church we attend
now does not mimic the government school system by having segre-
gated classes. The children's lesson is part of the general
meeting every Sunday. I like it much better than having my
precious child away from me and not knowing EXACTLY what she is
being told/taught. I would like to suggest a book that may
answer your questions and solidify your resolve to do what is
right for your children -- 'The Socialization Trap' by Rick Boyer
and available at www.TheLearningParent.com . It may change the
way you see things and shore up your resolve to do the best for
your children. May God bless you as you strive to raise godly
young men and women."


"I am writing first of all as a home school parent, second as a
children's ministry pastor -- my husband and I serve in this
position together. We have three children -- 8, 6, 3. First I
would encourage you to schedule a meeting with the leader of the
ministry. As a leader I want to know if I or any of our teachers
or our curriculum is out of line before persons spread the word
throughout the church or leave the church; then it is sometimes
too late to help! Prepare ahead of time your specific issues.
If it is biblical teaching be ready with specifics of what they
are teaching and then scriptures to show what the Bible says and
what you believe. I would encourage you to share your frustration
about the behavior and other children of the class.

Lastly, I would encourage you to reconsider that class as an out-
reach and maybe not so much a Bible study time for your child. We
have that same issue with our ministry. Wednesday nights we have
vans of children coming from our community and behavior issues are
a struggle -- we are dealing with the 'world'. Our lessons are
basic and I will share that we have seen salvations and changes in
hearts and behaviors. We have two home school families and a few
church children, but most are from the community. The other home
school mom and I have used Wednesday nights as an opportunity to
teach our children about ministry and reaching out and teaching
them right and wrong from that exposure. Sunday mornings it is
all church kids so our lessons are more on their spiritual level."


"I think I can relate. We have a small children's church (30 +/-
children ages 3-12). I've taught now for 5 years -- started with
preschoolers and followed them to now 1st-2nd graders. You didn't
mention the ages of the children involved, but I'm going to presume
the children are in the above age range (early elementary).

My 12 students have known each other since they were born. Yes,
even in this environment, I do see behaviour that I don't like nor
think appropriate. As a teacher, I try to deal with the issue
immediately and appropriately. I teach from an aspect of love and
respect -- but not all children respond equally.

Even the best behaved child will 'go wild' during certain seasons
of their lives. Christmas time behaviour is awful and late winter
is also hard on children. The kids simply do not have an outlet
for their energies (which ultimately allows them to sit quietly).
We've had a wet, rainy spring so they are not allowed to play out-
side much yet. Also, with the impending end of school,the kids are
getting restless. As a teacher, I try to plan more active lessons
at this time. First, it burns off energy; second, it involves my
boys more; and third, they've got too many wiggles to sit and paint!

I would suggest you approach the director of Children's ministry
to learn their policy on behaviour. If there is not one, ask to
talk with the teacher(s) directly. Perhaps they are unaware of
these behaviours. If that fails, offer to teach or be a classroom
helper. I know I appreciate another set of hands -- even in this
small size class. Anything more than 15 children requires two
teachers in our small church. It's simply not practical to have
more kids with only one volunteer adult!

Do not give up on the children. Yes, your children have a rock
solid knowledge of the Bible -- but we are also called to be
teachers to those who have not heard the Good News! I love it
when my students teach the Bible to one another! They can be light
to each other -- do not take that away from them. My sons enjoy
teaching their Sunday School friends!" -- Jennifer in Illinois


"Tammy -- Just like you, I love my church but pulled my kids from
Sunday School/Children's Church. I didn't want them to adopt the
'kids-against-the-teachers' attitude from their (mostly public-
schooled) classmates. When asked, I just said, 'Oh, I'd rather
they were with me', or 'They get lots of Bible teaching at home'.
I was very casual about it and not defensive. I took care to be
friendly to the Sunday School teachers and never to speak against
the program. I sure didn't want to hurt feelings or create divi-
sion. It's been so many years now, my kids are fully accustomed
to not participating in the group things the classes do together.
We get to church a little early and stay a little late, so they
can socialize some with the church kids. That's really all the
contact I want them to have, honestly, so it works out well. I
do provide them with notebooks so they can 'draw the sermon' dur-
ing church. That keeps them more engaged, I think. Then we talk
about their drawings and the message when we get home. I've been
very satisfied doing it this way. They get the benefits of church
without the potential dangers of Sunday School." -- Dawn H.


"We've dealt with the same issues regarding Sunday School. It
is a very hard issue to deal with! If you're worried about your
kids missing out on something really important to their spiritual
education, just take a minute and think about where Sunday School
came from. A couple hundred years ago there was no such thing as
either Sunday School or nurseries. Kids went to church with their
parents and learned about the Bible at home too. Sunday School
came about (I believe) through D.L. Moody. He used it as a tool
to reach 'unchurched' kids. He would drive a wagon around (the
first bus route, lol) and pick up boys to bring to his classes.
These classes were not for church kids, but for those whose
parents couldn't teach them about the Bible.

That being said, I've been teaching various Sunday School classes
since I was a teen and was very aware of what goes on in a lot
of today's classes that have little to do with the Bible. When
our first son was born we decided that unless we are there, he
won't be. For us, this included the nursery. We wanted him to
learn the importance of church and worshiping God. This is what
church is about; it's not about going into a big room with a bunch
of other kids and playing with toys. Playing is fun, friends are
great, and enjoying both is perfectly fine before and after church,
but not during the actual preaching service. When I taught the
pre-primary class he went right along with me in his carrier.
It's hard to keep an infant quiet in church, so if he started
blowing raspberries or something I would just slip out with him
and go sit in the nursery, which had a speaker, and we could still
listen to the service. As he became a toddler and got the wiggles
I would do the same thing. We were going to a small church at the
time, and though most people didn't 'get' why we were doing this,
they were okay with it. Then we moved to a new town and started
going to a larger church. They DID NOT like it at all. While one
of the Pastoral Staff was talking to us, trying to convince us to
put him in the nursery and Sunday School, he somehow started talk-
ing about homeschoolers and how all homeschoolers are 'socially
maladjusted'. At this time he didn't know that I was homeschooled
or that we were planning on homeschooling our kids. He told us
that by not allowing our kids to be in the nursery and in Sunday
School that they would learn to HATE church and would some day
become rebellious against us and God. All because we didn't put
them in the nursery and Sunday School! By the time our second son
was born the pressure on us to conform and give them our kids was
so great that we decided to start looking for a new church. It
had gotten to the point that we couldn't enjoy church at all
because it was guaranteed that at every single service at least
one person (usually they would come at us in pairs though) would
come up to us and tell us how we were ruining our kids. So, my
husband got on the internet and started looking for other Bible
believing churches. We found one about an hour away. He called
the Pastor and asked him if there would be a problem with us
bringing our kids into the service. He said, 'They're your kids,
it's your decision, not mine'. We've been going there now for
about 4 years and love it! I teach my boys' Sunday School class
and work in their Awana class. When they get older they will go
into the classes that my hubby teaches, or into church. There is
a Junior Church, but our kids have never gone and don't even miss
it. They love church! My oldest, 7, follows along with the Pastor
and takes notes (he just writes down the references that the Pastor
refers to) and can find any book of the Bible that the Pastor might
say. He became a Junior usher at the age of 5 and gets to pass out
bulletins in the morning service and helps take up the offering in
the Sunday evening service. He loves doing it and I love that he
is already learning to serve! My youngest can't wait to turn 5 so
that he can do the same thing! We are the only ones at our church
that do this, and like our first church no one else really 'gets'
it, but they're okay with it and will support our right to raise
our kids how we see fit!

Since your kids are already involved in Sunday School classes, if
you do decide to take them out it would probably be best to talk
with the Pastor and the teachers first. It can be hard to avoid
hurt feelings (what, I'm not good enough to teach your kids?), so
it's important to stress that your decision is not based on their
teaching abilities or lack thereof!"


"We've seen similar problems at our church. For the most part,
we've been able to deal with problems with prayer and contacting
the children's ministry director, and by volunteering to help in
any areas our kids were having problems (with bullies, etc.). Our
biggest problem came with the youth group for our oldest daughter
(and will soon again, with our middle son), because the youth
pastor has a dislike for homeschool parents being involved in the
youth programs. He feels they are 'hovering' and over-protective.
My feeling is that his goal is to transfer peer dependency from
the secular school group to the youth group, which is somewhat
contrary to most homeschool parents' goal to prevent the peer
dependency in the first place, but it is probably the best goal
he can hope for with public school kids. Unless you can form your
own church with other homeschool families, you will most likely
have these kinds of problems at whatever church you attend. So,
in order for our oldest daughter to continue to spend time with the
friends she had grown up with, my husband simply tagged along on
any overnight or out-of-town youth group activities. The kids
assumed he was just another adult chaperone or helper, and he had
a good attitude of just pitching in to help with whatever needed
doing and being positive and encouraging to the youth staff/volun-
teers. The youth pastor never openly confronted him and asked him
not to come, so he went! We have also been concerned that this
pastor has allowed college girl interns to teach on sex-related
topics, so we chose to avoid those activities. We are probably
regarded as over-protective and weird, but just have had to smile,
try to be a blessing, and do what we felt was best for our kids."
-- Debbie


"As a parent involved in Children's Ministry at my own church,
I have several suggestions:

- I believe that it is very important that you speak with your
pastors and those involved in the Sunday School leadership about
your concerns. They need to be aware of any inappropriate
behavior so that it can be corrected (by speaking to the parents
of the children involved, etc). You should also have a discus-
sion about the subjects that differ with your beliefs. Are these
differences 'essentials' to your faith or 'distinctives' on which
you can 'agree to disagree'?

- It is also very important to address this matter because you
want to be able to wholeheartedly invite others to visit your
church. If you have misgivings about the children's program,
you may be less likely to invite families with children. Also,
if you address this matter, it will keep you from harboring any
negative feelings about the program or those involved in your

- Depending on the maturity of your children, Sunday School can
be very beneficial (once your concerns are addressed). Whether
they are in the main service or Sunday School, they should be
learning how to worship God with joy. Do the children enjoy the
main service? You can decide as a parent where they will grow
the most on Sunday morning - with you or with other children
in a Sunday School class that teaches the inerrant word of God.

- Always be open to the fact that God might be using this situ-
ation to change something in your family. It could be that He
wants you to be more active in the Sunday School program, or it
could be that He has another church home for you (if you discover
that your beliefs differ from those of the church leadership)."
-- Cindy in VA


"The Sunday School issue has been a big problem for our family
as well. Not so much the teaching, but the behavior of the kids.
The only solution I've found is for either myself or my husband
to go to our kids' class with them. I do miss being in church,
but I can always get a tape of the sermon. Being in our kids'
class allows me to monitor my own kids' behavior, as well as
steer them away from other kids' bad behavior or talk to mine
about why it's wrong. It's a way for me to serve (I prepare the
snack during the lesson), and I know exactly what my children
are being taught, so I can reinforce it during the week. They
do enjoy going and being with their friends, and it's the closest
thing to a 'real classroom' experience they'll ever have. Our
church service lasts 2 hours; the first hour is worship time, and
we keep the kids with us during that part. I will have a new
challenge this fall when my oldest moves up to the next class
while my youngest stays where she is. I will have to find a way
to divide myself. If you disagree with the teaching itself, you
may want to consider becoming a teacher in your children's class."
-- Janel


"Tammy -- I understand your concerns, as I have shared them. It
is a good thing to watch over your children's well being, and how
they are treated, especially at church. I believe there is a
fine line though. On one side, you are the parent watching,
praying and wanting the best for your kids. On the other side
of the line might be the other opportunities. Remember that others
are watching you, and your example will be watched too. Please
pray about this and for God's wisdom and grace. Be careful that
you don't come across as anything but loving. People may see you
pulling away and feel that they aren't good enough for you. It
may inhibit friendships and witnessing or sharing opportunities.
Sometimes we homeschoolers tend to put labels on 'public school
kids' (as well as they 'labeling' us or making assumptions). Yes,
it can be warranted as you observe the way the other kids behave.
But we should remember the age old question, 'what would Jesus do?'
-- Christine in WA


"We were dissatisfied with the children's classes in our church,
so we got involved. We go to a small church and they needed more
volunteers, so we were able to make some significant changes to
the children's ministry in a short period of time. Of course,
this meant we had to give up some of our other ministry duties
that we enjoyed, such as teaching adult classes, but the kids are
worth it!

We are more conservative than many of the leaders in our church,
so there are still some conflicts, but at least we have a better
idea of what is going on in our kids' classes. Some families that
had previously pulled their children from Sunday classes have now
enrolled their children in our classes. So we weren't the only
dissatisfied parents!" -- Jenn G.


"Hi Tammy -- I strongly suggest prayer first and foremost. If
there are significant difference in what you believe and what is
taught, that is a problem. That is why you currently home-school.
Just because the differences are in a church, makes them no less

We had similar problems around the issue of salvation with our
past church: (you had to do more good vs. bad things to make it
'in' to heaven.) We eventually had to leave that church.

I suggest talking with the children's ministry leadership and if
need be, eventually the pastor. If this is something the church
believes, as was the case with us, then you need to pray about
whether or not to find fellowship elsewhere.

Be prepared -- people do not like confrontation, even if you are
just inquiring. It is important you ask though for the sake of
your children. God is faithful and prayer will guide you."
-- Michelle L.

Answer our NEW Question

"I have been regularly reading the Homeschooler's Notebook and I
love it. Thank you so much for all the insight and encouragement.

I have a 13 year old son who is at 7th grade level. He does well
when I help him study, but I would like him to study independently
without much help from me so I can focus on my 10 year old. But
I don't know how to strengthen his study skills so he feels confi-
dent about doing this on his own. He loves Math and can do that
on his own, but in other courses he doesn't do very well when I
ask him to finish a chapter on his own and later test him on it.

How do I build these life long study skills so he can do better
as he goes to high school level courses? Any help and advice is
appreciated." -- SPT in CA


Do you have some tips and/or encouragement for this mom?
Please send your email to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

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