“Aren’t you worried you won’t teach them something they need?”

“Aren’t you worried you won’t teach them something?”

There are a handful of questions I’m often asked, and this is one of them. Maybe you get it too. The person asking means well, but it’s still incredibly frustrating. I used to be worried about this, but not anymore. Now I’m content knowing that of course there’ll be things I don’t teach them. Of course I’ll miss teaching them something!

This can be a scary thought when you’re responsible for the education of your loved one. But, think about it further. Did you learn everything you needed when you were at school? Are there holes in your education? Are there things that are taught differently now? Are there facts you were taught that are now false? Of course there are. Pluto isn’t a planet any longer. Math is now taught differently to when I was at school. The geography of Europe is constantly changing. Of course there will be holes in our education; there are holes in every education.

Asking the above questions will usually silence external questioners, but doesn’t always work quite so well on that inner voice…the one that visits at 2 a.m. after a tough day when your little darling decided to forget everything you’ve done for the last few years and suddenly doesn’t know anything…those times when your critical relative starts firing questions at them trying to find where you’re failing, and even though they know all the answers, your child refuses to perform. That inner critic is far harder to silence.

I’ve found that the secret to keeping this one quiet is to know why we’re home educating. I can’t speak for you, but for us one of the primary reasons is to teach our children to learn. Today jobs are rapidly changing. People may change careers several times in their working life. Many of the jobs our children will hold don’t even exist today. If I teach my child nothing else, I want to teach them to learn.

If our kids know how to learn, then the holes in their education won’t matter. If they need the information at some stage, they’ll know how to find it. They’ll know how to find the right person to ask, how to find the book to read, or the right forum to post on. Instead of deciding they can’t do something because they don’t know how, their instinct will be to learn. If we teach our kids that, then the rest is in their court. Once they can do that, our job is no longer to teach them; it’s to come alongside and help guide them in their learning, nudge them where to go if they start to get stuck. Ask them questions to help them get on a path of learning for themselves. If we can do this, then our kids are ready no matter what the world throws at them.

So, how to we teach our kids to learn? I’ve thought of a few ways we try to model being a learner to our kids.

1. Be a learner yourself.
The most effective method we can use to teach anything is to model it to our kids ourselves. Whenever something needs to be done around the house, we learn how to fix it, or at least learn what seems to be wrong before calling someone in. If our kids ask us something we don’t know, we say that we don’t know, and then we look it up together. Just modeling that you can turn to books, experts, or the internet when you don’t know is arming kids with the resources they need to learn.

2. Step back.
I really struggle with this sometimes. There are a hundred things calling for attention, and the kids are taking forever to work something out. The temptation to get in and help them is strong, but I need to step back. If they’re talking about what we’ve been learning, I need to embrace the silence and let them search for the words themselves rather than putting words into their mouths. I need to let them try things on their own and let them experiment without my help. When we help too much, they start to want us to help with everything, and lose their confidence in trying things for themselves. Having to do things themselves forces them to try different methods to achieve their goal. And, they may come up with a better way than we use. Many things have multiple possible outcomes, and ours may not be the best, and it definitely won’t help them learn.

3. Fail.
Failure can suck. But, it’s not the enemy. If we want to learn, then failure must be embraced. It’s our greatest teacher. When something fails we can learn what didn’t work and try again. So often our kids don’t get the opportunity to learn, because we never give them the opportunity to fail. We teach them that failure is something awful that must be avoided at all costs. But, it’s not. Failure is a part of life. Some of our kids take failure better than others, but by allowing them to fail now, we help them to learn some valuable lessons about life and about whatever they’re trying to do.

What do you think? Is teaching them to learn a way to conquer the fear that we’ll miss teaching them something? How do you cope with this question? I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you disagree.

Homeschooling the Gifted/Talented Child, Pt. 2: Breaking Out of the Box

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Many of the suggestions I offer in my previous articles regarding children with challenges can be applied also to homeschooling gifted/talented (G/T) kids. When starting, it’s important to assess the child’s learning style. Also, if the child tends to be on the hyper side or have emotional outbursts, it is a good idea to check the diet and assess for food sensitivities.

Just because a child learns easy doesn’t mean straight book work is the best option for them. Personally, I feel that unit studies make learning more natural. Homeschooling is more than “school at home.” So, when homeschooling your G/T child, look beyond the books. Think of projects based on their topics of interest. Unit studies can be useful in this regard. For the older child, research projects that require more than just a typed paper could be a fun learning activity.

Book reports and research papers can be replaced with posters, art projects, a sewing project, a wood-working project, a diorama, a model, etc. Educational videos and documentaries can replace chapters in textbooks. Then the child can take one part of what they learned and create a hands-on project from it. A field trip to a local museum or even a business can stimulate more learning. In today’s internet world, the student can access museums of all types from around the world. This can add depth to the learning experience.

It’s so easy to be caught up in our busy worlds today that we just want to find a way to “get the job done.” This is not always the best choice for the G/T child. They need more to stimulate their mind. They need to be challenged and allowed to explore/make mistakes/get messy.

Remember, we choose homeschooling so our child can become all they are meant to be. That means getting out of the mindset of what everyone else expects. For the young child who is very advanced (I have a granddaughter like this), I do still suggest waiting for more formal education until they are older, around eight to 10 years old. I also suggest to go broad rather than deep.

For example, if a child is advanced in the math and sciences, I would focus on things like music or art and other electives. It would be easy to allow them to go as deep as they want in their favorite subjects, but this will often create a skewed education rather than offering a balanced training. There are many outside classes offered today, but don’t forget to allow plenty of time to simply be a kid. Play time is just as important for the G/T child as the children with challenges on the other side of the spectrum, and the G/T child could greatly benefit from play time. One never knows if they will create the next art masterpiece or the next classical music composition.

Allowing the child as much freedom as possible in their educational pursuits is a great way to raise children who are fulfilling their God-given potential.

Little Hands

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A wonderful part of homeschooling involves home training. As we raise our children, we have the honored privilege of teaching our children, not only academically, but life skills as well. That brings me to something I’d like to share today.

How often I forget that my children are just that, children. I forget that they do not have the years of experience that I do; hence, they don’t have the know-how at such tender ages. When I ask them to complete a task, I have to remember that their small hands are still growing and do not yet possess complete dexterity. I also need to remember that my children have not ventured through life long enough to be able to always reason things through as well as myself, and I need to always show grace when childishness rears its inevitable head. I am reminded, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever, Amen,” 2 Peter 3:18.

It’s easy to become impatient, especially when time is a factor or many projects or chores need to be accomplished and my little people are not moving at the pace I so desire. But, our Lord cautions, “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing,” James 1:4.

I am grateful for the Lord’s grace toward me. His Word is filled with promises of grace to us parents, His other children. One of my favorites says, “Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ,” 2 Corinthians 1:2.

Finding Joy in Practical Character Development

This school year I have decided to focus on finding… searchingparents

JOY in our home school! This character trait has been much on my heart this summer, and I am excited to wear these rose-colored glasses during my days at home with my husband and three children who provide many opportunities to expand my joy.

I recently read from a book, Home Leadership, about how God often brings children into the home when the parents lack much experience. If we all waited til we had it all together on the topic of child-rearing, we would probably be too old to have and raise children of our own. God gives children to the inexperienced! Because, as new parents, no matter how many hours of babysitting you have under your belt, no matter how many parenting books or blogs you’ve read, you’re still under-prepared for this subject. And fear not! Because God knows us big kids, aka “parents,” need to learn side by side with our students. sidebysidestudentsI love how the Word of God puts it in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

tiredmomSo that means this is a common challenge, this parenting business, but did you catch that second part? God is faithful! And, He will not allow you to be overcome. That is a precious promise that gives this mama JOY.

So this is where I want to share with you how I’m finding joy in practical character development in our home school:

  1. I’m slowly teaching my children to help me with the daily duties in our home. My seven-year-old feeds the dog, collects all the dirty laundry throughout the house, and is in charge of distributing folded laundry to the right location (his room or another family member’s room so they can put it away). This requires multiple moments of side-by-side learning/teaching how this ought to be done to the best of each child’s ability, which increases with repetition and age. My two-year-old is in charge of setting the table at mealtimes and folding all towels and putting away in the kitchen or bathroom, as well as little duties with mommy like cooking and weeding. My four-year-old now helps me with the dishes, both happyhelperclearing the table at the end of meals and also putting away or drying clean dishes. These are chores we’ve spent time together learning and doing, and I am learning to find joy in these simple tasks with my children. Who knew chores could be so fun?!
  2. Character training memory work: This is an idea I expanded from a friend who does a lot of memory work with her young children. Each day, along with our Scripture memory verse, we memorize the definition of a character trait in study. One of my favorites, which we made hand motions for as well, is obedience: “doing my duty immediately, cheerfully, and thoroughly.” This is memory work we often come back to, and I hope we never forget!
  3. Being alert to character challenges as they arise, and allowing for the flexibility to work on that specific trait with a craft or hands-on activity, is important. This week we are learning about truthfulness, and I am excited to draw up a visual poster with the help of my artistic crew on the “Difference Between Reporting and Tattling.”
  4. Making character a subject of its own, right next to math and science. Interweaving it into our daily duties and studies makes it applicable for my children and myself.

Lastly, I want to share a little motto we have in our home when things are challenging. I try to ensure a calm state of mind and earnest sympathy for the challenged or challenging individual while I remind them along with myself, “This is hard right now, but it is an opportunity for somethinlookingupg. It’s an opportunity for…” I pause and they almost always finish my sentence with “an opportunity to build character,” which usually brings the beginning of a smile to their little face. Trials are what define us in life, and they can make us stronger if we know Who to keep our eyes on, and Who our strength comes from.

So, in trying to find that joy in our jobs at home with character development, I pray this might encourage you at the end of your day.

My seven-year-old shared one evening at family worship that even on days that are full of trials, he still ends the day happy.

It’s all about our perspective, and this teacher-student is choosing to cultivate some of that JOY! Will you join me?

Blessings, Allison

Homeschool and Housework: Instilling a Work Ethic in My Homeschooler

 

I don’t know who is being educated here — me or my sons. It seems like the more I try to fit school into our daily schedule, the less time we have for everything, especially housework. So, I get frustrated with my kids for not picking up their room, when I have laundry stacked sky-high, floors that need picked up and mopped, trash that needs taken out, toilets that need scrubbed, dishes that need to be washed, and the list goes on and on.

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A Fine Line

I’ve found there’s a fine line between “home schooling” and “home education.” Homeschooling is the mind’s eye version of homeschool. It basically equates to a child and a mom sitting at a kitchen table, books strewn throughout. To some, you might see the mom’s frustrated face, the student crying over unfinished multiplication tables (that’s what I envisioned until I began this journey). Home education is the ins and outs of living in the home: chores, behavior, personal hygiene, etc. These two things are separate, yes, but in my house they’re only separated by one thing: mom.

Mom cleans, cooks, does the chores, does the teaching. Mom sings the ABCs when the teeth are being brushed, wipes the bottoms when they go to the bathroom (until they can do it themselves), gives the baths, enforces the rules, and breaks up the fights. At what point will these kids learn to dress themselves, solve their own problems, clean up their own messes?

The Homestead Difference

We moved out to the country in hopes of living a different kind of life. chicken-159496_1280What we ended up with is a yard full of chickens, a couple of goats, and a back porch full of animals; an unmowed yard full of toys and trash; and a house full of laundry, trash, undone chores, and still-packed boxes. There isn’t enough time in the day for all the things we need to do. We didn’t do a whole lot of things differently when we lived in the city, but there are things that are different. For instance, we have a lot more responsibilities! That doesn’t mean the work can be neglected. My son has more to do this year than he did last year, but that doesn’t mean we can skip his sight words. Just because we have more animals now doesn’t mean we can forget to feed the ones we have — just like when I had more kids, I didn’t neglect the ones I had! We have to manage our time to better manage our homestead. This is going to be a learning experience, because while I’m teaching my boys this principle, I’m learning it myself.

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Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all[a] the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth,” Genesis 1:26.