Home and Family, Parenting

The importance of home

Spent another afternoon at a follow-up evaluation for one of the grandkids.  One comment made by the therapist continues to ring in my head.  “Often, I will recommend therapy here in clinic, but what really helps is making changes at home, and utilizing strategies there. It’s the little changes and strategies that make the difference.  You’re already doing those.  He doesn’t need therapy; you’ve got this.”

Yes.  The compliment was appreciated by my daughter and I.  But more importantly, it was yet another reminder that what happens in our homes outweighs so many other things.  Whatever challenges, frustrations, set-backs, and bad days come our way, home is the place to tackle them.  Our children need our input and our support more than all the therapy, specialists, and office visits in the world.  I understand that those things are needed, but they cannot take the place of a loving home, parents who take the time to arm themselves with tools for helping each child, and trusting the powers of heaven to help.  Special needs children are just that-special, and their needs can be met by us.  That’s why they were sent to our family.

Nothing will ever take the place of a loving home.  Ever.

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Home and Family, Parenting

We still have hope…

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  John 14:27

We live in a world that is a mess!  Anyone who watches the evening news will agree.  Local, national, and world events can be shocking, disturbing…even disheartening.  What can we do?  We have these sweet, young, innocent souls in our homes who we want to teach to trust, hope, and move into the future with confidence.  Can we?  Can they?

The answer is a resounding YES!

Where I live (Utah), this Friday is a state holiday – Pioneer Day.  It commemorates the first pioneers coming into the Salt Lake Valley, and is quite the party in my neck-of-the-woods.  The Grand Marshall of the Days of ’47 Parade was interviewed about this event, and what he said has gotten me thinking.  Pres. Henry B. Eyring, 1st Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, remarked that he has spent even more time than he had in the past reading the stories of those who came west in preparation for his duties this weekend, and as a consequence of what he read, he will “try to be better.”  When asked how he stays positive in spite of the problems in the world today, he replied that God is aware of us.  He has gotten us through hard things in the past, and will continue to do so.

It made me smile. Pres. Eyring is right.

Regardless of what we hear on the news, man is not in charge.  (I realize that will come as a shock to some.) God is.  He will see that His purposes are carried out, and our safety lies is staying true to Him.  We can have peace in the midst of trouble, because peace isn’t something that we generate ourselves.  Peace comes from He who reigns.

Can we teach our children to trust?  Absolutely.  Can we move into the future with confidence?  Without a doubt. We simply need to follow Him, and teach our children where safety is to be found.  Let’s have a party!

Home and Family, Homeschooling, other, Parenting

Thoughts on teaching

Have you ever attended  a class or workshop which left you “flat” while all around you people raved about the teacher, and you wondered what you missed that they did not?  Maybe it isn’t what you missed.  Have  you ever taught information you were excited about, but didn’t feel the others caught your vision?

Sometimes presenters teach others they way they would want things presented; when we are the presenter, we need to be aware of others’ learning styles or the end result can be that people who learn the way we learn tell us what a wonderful job we have done, and yet others can be left largely uninspired.  If you regularly teach groups of people, whether children or adults, it can make such a difference to keep in mind the different ways folks learn.  In order to engage those around you, use varied methods of presentation so that everyone has a chance to catch at least something.

  • Chalkboards/whiteboards are great IF you are a visual learner, but not so great for kinesthetic folks UNLESS you allow them to write on the board. They can scribe for you, or write answers to questions you’ve asked.
  • Try adding music, pictures, maps, and interactive activities to whatever you are teaching.  It is an invitation to others to join in the fun.
  • Invite a guest speaker to help.
  • Spend time writing well-thought-out questions.  Give them something about which to think, and give them time to quietly write before they need to answer.  There is nothing wrong with a little quiet before you get a response!
  • One of my favorite ways to involve those who seem bored or tuned out is to bring flannel board story figures and script, and have them retell the story you’re discussing.
  • Make a meal, or learn to say basic sentences in the language of the country you are studying for geography.
  • Draw outside pictures on the sidewalk that apply to what you did during the class.
  • Pass out paper and other supplies, and ask them to draw or paint illustrations for your newly-finished chapter or even reference book.  What did they learn?  (You can do this with adults; watch ’em cringe.)
  • Write a review or an advertisement for the class.
  • Create new words based on the information given, and put together a class dictionary.  Let them know ahead of time that this will be happening, so that they can be looking for ideas!
  • Break class members into pairs or small groups and allow some discussion.
  • Go on field trips, or bring relevant visuals and hands-on activities to the class.
  • Create a game to reinforce the principles or information taught.

Giving up some of the control in a classroom setting can be frightening.  I get that.  You start class with a plan.  You have material you want to cover.  But if the point of teaching is not simply the dissemination of information, but the learning of it, you MUST involve those around you.  It makes all the difference in the world.

And it’s more fun!

Home and Family, Parenting

Mom is ALWAYS paramount! (rant warning!)

A wise and godly man I revere, Ezra Taft Benson, once counseled mothers, “Be at the crossroads… take time to always be at the crossroads when your children are either coming or going—when they leave and return from school, when they leave and return from dates, when they bring friends home. Be there at the crossroads whether your children are six or sixteen. In Proverbs we read, “A child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”   This quote has been on my mind due to a number of frustrating conversations and events in the past few weeks.  It seems we’ve stopped caring about certain family basics in the name of “me time” and “fulfillment” in our society! What has happened to ensuring the care of our minor children?  All of them.  They are minors until they turn 18!  So many moms who seem able to understand that 5 or 6 year-olds need time, attention, and encouragement from mom somehow struggle with the idea that as they grow all those things need to continue!  The attention and encouragement you give a 15 year-old is different than that you give a smaller child, but they need them none-the-less!  And if you are never home, it isn’t going to happen!  It doesn’t really matter if you’re gone due to a blossoming career, or community service, or retail therapy.  If you’re not there, you’re not there.  (I realize some moms need to work to put food on the table.  That decision is between you and He whose children these are.  I’m talking about two-incomes for sake of the “fun stuff.”)

I am not advocating helicopter parenting.  Children need to experience life, try things, fail sometimes, learn from it, and keep going.  I’m talking about being there when help is needed. You simply can’t schedule those times when they will need you to be there for them!  The frustrations of a 7 year-old need to be addressed; that reality doesn’t change when they are 17.  In some ways, it only becomes more vital that we be there!  (The challenges a 17 year-old faces can be much more life-altering than those of a younger child!)

Think of your family as a ripple in a pond.  The ripple may be small when your children are young, but it needs to grow as they do.  As their circle of friends and number of activities increases, so should the circle we embrace.  Having your teen’s friends in your home for game nights, or attending their games or concerts used to be the norm.  Why did that change?  Teen’s are NOT mini-adults!  They have questions, and quandaries, and knowing that their mom (and dad) will be there to listen, advise if necessary, and cheer is soooo important.  No job, club, activity, or personal pursuit is worth more than the bonds that can be established when you spend time with your teens as you drive car-pool, make dinner together, help with schoolwork, or talk after a night out with friends. Include those who are important to them in your life. One of the most cherished memories I have of raising my teenagers is the day a friend of one of our boys showed up unannounced and asked to hang out.  Home was a bit of a battleground at the moment, and our home was a trusted refuge.  We had a wonderful day filled with good food, work, talking, a video, and time to just be still.

If you chose be a parent, be there.  Help Your children AND your teens see how important they are.  Encourage them in all they do.  Laugh with them.  Cry together when needed.  Set them free when they have been taught, fed, nurtured, and given all they need to be successful as adults.  Isn’t that the way you want them to parent your future grandchildren?

Home and Family, Homeschooling, Parenting

Help them see what is right!

When was the last time you marveled at the antics of a nine-month old?  Or laughed at the silliness of a three-year old?  Or cheered on the nine-year old at sports, or scouts, or piano?  Children come to us ready to explore, learn, and utilize every ounce of enthusiasm they possess in everything they do.  They are joyful, or distraught, or anxious, but whatever they are, they are that thing ALL THE WAY!  They learn and grow and lose some of that….and that’s sad.

When was the last time you lost your patience at a small child for being a small child?  Why do we expect them to be big when they’re little?  And why, in heaven’s name, do we teach them to look for what they did wrong, rather than what they did right?  If they are struggling with learning to tie their shoes, do we remember how freeing it was when they could finally dress themselves?  If they got 90% correct on a spelling test, that means they got 9 out of 10 correct!  When they want to shoot baskets rather than practice piano, do we encourage their love of sports and praise them for not being couch potatoes?  Perhaps they can shoot baskets and THEN practice. If they love spending time with people, and struggle with studying in a quiet room, okay.  Put them in the middle of the action and see if it improves their spirits and scholarship.  Finger-spell their spelling lists.  Create games to help them review.  Run laps while you drill “boring facts.”  Match their studies to the way they learn best.

So the next time your child shows you a nearly-perfect paper, hug them.  Smile.  Throw a “nearly-perfect” party!  Let’s celebrate what they do well, and spend less time worrying about the rest.  Give them the gift of being “enough.”  That is all we can be, after all.

 

Home and Family, Parenting

Babies are a joy!

A new little sweetheart entered my life this last weekend.  Her dark hair, dark eyes, and sweet spirit reminded me why I have chosen to make motherhood and home the center of my life.  She was born in the wee hours Saturday, and watching my youngest son support his wife (who was a champ!) during labor, and then hold his daughter for the first time was one of the most moving experiences of my life.  His parents will be amazing; they are committed to doing all they can to care for, teach, protect, and encourage this new life.  It is never easy, but they’ll do just fine.

Nothing compares with the joy to be found in home and family.  I love being a grandma!

Homeschooling, Parenting

Books for working with exceptional children

My library is growing again!  As more of our grandchildren, and the children of those who ask for my help, are diagnosed with syndromes, disorders, and other challenges, the books I have acquired to give me the tools to be successful are increasing in number!  Some are specific to a given situation, but many are invaluable for anyone working with small children. I’m starting with my current fave.

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The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun, Revised Edition: Activities for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder

by Carol Kranowitz

This book is definitely at the top of my list, and my copy has been loaned to so many people, I find myself borrowing my daughter’s.  The explanatory section is clear and readable, and the exercises are grouped so that you can focus on specific areas that need growth.  The exercises are simple to do, use common household items, and require a minimum amount of preparation time.  We have giggled our way through a number of them!

The companion volume,

Growing an In-Sync Child: Simple, Fun Activities to Help Every Child Develop, Learn, and Grow

By Carol Kranowitz, and Joye Newman

is written for every child, challenged or not.  It goes through activities and exercises you can do with your child in just a few minutes a day to encourage physical, emotional, and overall success.
Today’s children don’t get the same level of activity children did a generation ago.  These books help all of us relearn how to use our whole body, and play using basic items.  Love these books!