The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family. ~Thomas Jefferson
Who We Are
We are The Stewards, Jim and Jennifer Steward. Highschool sweethearts, we’ve been married for 34 years now
The Lord has blessed us with eight wonderful children – six daughters and two sons. We have been privileged to teach all eight at home - all their school days.
Four of the children have graduated from homeschool highschool, three of which are now married with children of their own…which means the 2nd generation of homeschoolers is coming right up! The patter of feet from these 8 beautiful grandchildren is such a blessing …even though sometimes it sounds more like a stampede!
When we first got married we couldn’t imagine we’d have eight children and that we’d teach them at home, let alone that we’d be running two home based businesses! (Jim is a self-employed contractor) But God has really used these things to grow us in character, taught us all patience and diligence as well as provided endless opportunities to build all kinds of skills. Overall the adventure has been a huge blessing to our family and to others, for Steward Ship is a ministry as well as a business!
Why a Home Business?
Jim is self–employed so we already had a sort of entrepreneurial outlook, but we were looking for something we could all do – from home. There are many benefits to “cottage industries” that go beyond some of the most obvious. Working from home is economical: not only do you avoid expensive store front costs, electrical, phone and the like, but you can work as time affords. You can throw in a load of laundry while talking to a customer. You can sneak away to package an order while your child works on their math problems! There are so many hidden benefits in the area of building skills for all. Our children have not only learned many business and office skills, but they’ve learned valuable people skills as well!
What Can We Do…What Could We Sell?
Many people have had successful businesses retailing….buying books at wholesale and reselling them. We found that one must sell in huge volume to make any money this way. No, we decided we needed to create something and publish it ourselves. We wanted to “find a need and fill it” so we looked around at things we were doing and using in our homes to see if there was anything unique yet practical that we could offer. With our growing family, we needed to get ALL the kids involved in the household chores. Jennifer had drawn cute little pictures of chores on index cards and hung them on a bulletin board in our dining area where all the kids could see them. Why pictures? Well, we had a couple of younger children who couldn’t read yet, but they wanted to help too, so they really liked doing their chore (feeding the cat etc.) and then pulling the card off and placing in into an envelope.
The Choreganizer Was Born!
Our business, Steward Ship, started after we created our first product. As people saw our little chore system they’d say “That’s really clever. You need to market that!” Ah ha! We had found something that was working and as we looked around, we could not find anything like it anywhere available on the market. We figured out how to mass produce it (which is another story altogether!) and voila! …we had our first product The CHOREGANIZER…as way to organize chores.
Picture courtesy of Ree Drummond
Tried and tested, this is how all of our products have been developed! Today we have hundreds of products for sale, most of which have nothing to do with home organization but rather much more to do with spreading the contagious idea and information about delightful learning, BUT it all started with The Choreganizer. We’re still using it with the last of our Mohicans, Laurel – age 10! Now you can find it hanging on the walls of our children’s homes…teaching the grandchildren to help out and be productive citizens of God’s world!
When our first child became school age we decided to they would get their education at home. Oh, yes! Most people thought we were crazy – after all, twenty five years ago, the idea of homeschooling was pretty much unheard of and we knew only a handful of others who were as crazy as we were! But the one thing we knew for sure was that the Lord had called us to do this and we have never been sorry for any reason that we have chosen this path.
So Why Do You Homeschool?
Many people wonder why we would homeschool our children. Jim’s reasons, at first, were more for academic excellence while my reasons were more “protective” – I wanted to be the one to see my children learn something new and amazing and watch their eyes sparkle with amazement. But as time went on, our reasons were much more spiritual and had deeper biblical roots. We began to understand that it would be better for our children to learn nothing than it would be for them to learn lies. The public school system does teach a religion and that is the religion of humanism and evolution. We also saw so many negative influences children pick up on just by being with “foolish” peers all day! The Bible say that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child so spending all day with fools doesn’t really make sense. We must teach this foolishness out of our children using God’s precious Word and we are able to do this because we spend time with them building godly character as we go through our days together. So even though our children have excelled academically, we consider it a true educational success if our children graduate with a love for the Lord!
Developing a Love for Learning
Because that was almost the only means available, we started out with text books. After much frustration, never feeling like the kids were accomplishing all the required homework, seeing how “bored” and uninterested the kids were with “school” PLUS trying to juggle three different kids in different subjects, different grades, and different text books, Jennifer decided to stop and try something new. We had heard about unit studies as a way where you could not only combine subjects around one topic, but you could include most all your students which would save time on teaching and planning. I asked the kids if they wanted to study “Trains” and they said “Yes!” Even though I didn’t really know what I was doing, I just got some books and made some reproducibles in different subjects for their different ages, and away we went. They loved it and each day they eagerly asked “What are we doing today?” and “What can we do now?” I was pleased and amazed. Not only was our learning interesting and fun, but I think the whole key was that we were doing it together and so it united us. Because we were all learning the same thing, there was more enthusiasm and more discussion which equaled more learning. The world of learning became alive to us and we have never stopped doing unit studies from that first day.
How DO You Do a Unit Study?
Well, even though we knew we loved this teaching method, I still didn’t really know what I was doing so I bumbled my way along. Over the years I have found out what works and what doesn’t. I also hosted a local Unit Study Meeting for over ten years, so together with other moms, we discovered and shared loads of ideas. Finally I decided I understood the method well enough to write a whole book on the subject. While I benefitted from several sources over the years, there never was one whole book devoted to the topic of unit studies…so I wrote one. I feel that, while I didn’t invent the unit study method… I have refined it and I explain in simple laymen terms Everything You Need to Know About Homeschool Unit Studies! That’s where you can learn How to Do a Unit Study!