Home and Family, Homeschooling

And it begins again….

Tomorrow is the first day of September.  Just about everyone is beginning school….whether public, private or home.  The leaves are beginning to change in my neck of the woods.  Backpacks and sweaters are appearing, and the local radio ads have switched from summer fun spots to office supplies and cold weather wear.

As my daughter has worked on a curriculum plan, and we’ve sorted, stacked, and reviewed books, I can’t help but remember doing the same things.  Teaching reading, history, and science.  Pouring over new ideas for math approaches, or struggling with literature decisions.  How much is enough?  Too much?  Have I missed something?

Relax, Mom.  You’ve got this.  Do something everyday.  Keep at it.  The perfect book, kit, plan, etc. may or may not be out there, but you can be effective whether you have them or not!  Our children don’t need to see “perfect”; rather, they need to come to understand “consistent”, or “required”, or “effort.”  Those things don’t cost money.  They aren’t produced by someone else.  They are home-grown.  Homemade.  And priceless.

My grandchildren aren’t heading back to a traditional classroom with a backpack, a lunchbox, and new jeans.  They are here, in my home, learning at Mom’s (and Grandma’s) knee.  Basic academics, traditional values, life skills, family dynamics, and a bit of silly thrown in are definitely part of the curriculum plan.

It’s gonna be a good year.

Advertisements
Homeschooling

Let’s DO school!

It’s that time again.  Homeschool conventions, curriculum fairs, and planning.  Lots of planning.  I remember worrying as a young homeschool mom that I wasn’t doing the right thing, or enough (or too much?), or that I didn’t have everything I needed in order to truly teach my children the things that would best serve them for their future.  Now I watch as my daughters and friends do the same thing.  When I began our homeschooling journey in 1991, there were few resources available.  Scraping curriculum together took time and hunting.  Fast forward 24 years. There are so many options available now, it is enough to make your head spin!  Two thoughts I have had in the last few weeks as I watch this dance happening around me:

First-There is no such thing as a perfect curriculum.  Often we think we have failed, when the failure is in the book…or box…or file.  There are very few prepackaged kits that I would regard as safe bets for just about anyone, and often those will still need tweaking a bit depending on the child.  Stop looking for perfection; consistency is what can make the difference!

As plans are made for the upcoming year, take time to DO things.  Math often makes more sense with manipulative use.  Grammar seems plainer with diagramming if you have a visual learner.  Science is more easily remembered, and more enjoyable, if you get out there and experience it rather than expecting facts to be absorbed by simply reading a book. Go to the zoo.  Dig for rocks.  Lie on the ground and observe the night sky.  Experiment in the kitchen.  Go on field trips to make your studies come alive.  Take regular breaks and get the whole gang moving.  Run up and down the stairs as you drill math facts.  Take a walk and practice observational skills.  OUr children need to learn to cook and do laundry as well as diving into academic studies. Jump on a mini-tramp between subjects for a quick brain break. Role-play or act out history lessons. Duck walk as you review spelling lists or phonics rules.    Doing wakes up the brain, increases retention, and the ensuing giggles aren’t bad either.

As you spend time exploring the world and all its wonders, remember to keep active verbs in the mix.  Do. Try. Experiment. Observe. Move. Fail. Laugh. Create things: messes, meals, and memories for a lifetime.  And cut yourself some slack.  It’s not up to you to find the perfect books, or be the perfect parent, or have the perfect family.  The only perfection we will ever attain will not come from us.  It comes from He who wants us to succeed.  Lean on Him, and go DO something!

Gardening, Home and Family, Homeschooling

Gardening and life lessons

The garden is one of my favorite class rooms. Beyond the obvious botanical lessons, the opportunities for learning and understanding some great life lessons are right before you!

Reminding the grandkids that we will harvest what we plant is a yearly ritual that seems to get sillier as time goes by.

Grandma, “Hey, M, this corn seed will give us some great melons, don’t you think?!”

M, giggling, “No.  But the corn will be really good!”

Grandma, “Are you sure?  Does that mean we can predict what is going to happen by what we do?”

M, “Yeah.  That is how it works.”

Grandma, “Okay.  I guess we’d better be careful what habits we plant!”

At six and seven years old, I know they only understand part of the conversation, but it is a life lesson that will stick with them.

Teaching about the importance of consistency and follow-through is so easily done with plants.  If you don’t weed, water, or tend to things as needed FOR THE WHOLE SEASON, you won’t reap what you took time to sow.  Stopping half way through or trying to play a frantic game of catch-up in August is no way to get good results!

As learn about the needs of different types of plants, you can increase your yield.  Peas need cool weather.  Melons need consistent watering.  Peppers and hot peppers need to not cross-pollinate!  People are much the same way.  If you take the time to understand how they “tick”, you will often get much better results!  Sometimes they need to be fussed over.  Some prefer alone time.  Some thrive in the lime light.  Others want to be in the background helping others shine.  Help your children see the differences and appreciate them!

One of the most difficult life lessons for just about anyone to learn is best illustrated by gardeners.  Dung is a necessary part of life.  It helps plants grow.  It adds vital nutrients to the soil.  And it invites the worms to come and break up the hard places so that roots can grow down deeper into the soil.  Our challenges are the same way.  We all have times when we have to deal with things we would like to avoid, but the growth that comes from making the best of what we are dealt creates a person who has more to give.

And the lessons go on….

Happy gardening!

Parenting

The Art of Consistency

The church bags were packed, and ready for each of the boys Sunday as we entered the chapel for meetings.  Each grandson had a couple of books and a quiet activity or two in their own “Sunday bag” with their name on it.

Church bags

As the meeting progressed, they worked through the books, the coloring pages, and the quiet activities, each pausing to sing hymns or fold their hands for a prayer when appropriate or to help with a baby for a minute or two. All-in-all, a quiet meeting.

How do three young boys, ages 7, 5, and 3, learn to sit reverently?  The same way they learn to make their beds each morning, complete their schoolwork, and empty the dishwasher each day.  All are required, and are consistently attended to by the grown-ups in their lives…the very tired, but determined, grown-ups.

Children do not fall from the sky with discipline, good manners, or the ability to follow-through.  (Actually, many adults seem to struggle with those things too.)  Positive behaviors are learned, and then reinforced, when the rules don’t change and the boundary lines are firmly set.  As the parents and grandparents, we make a request or give an instruction one time, and then get on our feet if the child needs help completing the task.  They know the expectations, and the results for obedience, or a lack thereof.  No guessing games, just certainty that gives them security, and allows the adults to be clear, and calm.

Are we perfect in this?  Nope.  Is anyone?  Not that I have met.  But I do know that the more we are consistent, the better the day goes, and the more we enjoy being together as a family.  When did we start living this way?  When we realized the Lord works this way with us.  No screaming from the heavens.  No random consequences as a result of our actions.  Just clear guidance (from the scriptures, and the Spirit), and then the chance to learn from what we do right or wrong.  Why would we parent any other way?