Public Speaking and Homeschooling

Do your kids love public speaking?

Can you picture your kids being up on stage talking and presenting?

Do you picture your kids being good leaders one day?

How many hours a week, or a month or a year, have you spent in building public speaking skills with your children?

Running a clinic with multiple doctors and staff requires my wife and me to review countless resumes and interview many people. Many people flunk their interview within seconds simply because they were either not able to hold eye contact, were overcome by anxiety, or were not able to think critically under pressure when answering questions.

Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking, and it is one of the most common phobias in the world. Whether people realize it or not, their career and life decisions are often decided by their public speaking skills. Some people may choose to pursue a career where they will interact with many people daily. Some may choose to do the opposite, where they will work in private, or have less interaction with people. If your kids learn to speak in public today, they can prepare themselves to speak properly in public, and to manage the fears of presenting in front of others for the future. To put it simply, your children’s future careers may depend on these skills.

We all want our kids to do well when they grow up. We want them to be confident enough to be on stage, especially when God opens doors for opportunities to influence others. We want them to be leaders. Our family intentionally decided to invest in public speaking skills and stage presence skills when homeschooling them on a daily basis. I’d like to share some ideas you may find useful in your homeschooling journey.

MEMORIZATION

There are three benefits of memorization. The first is emotional health benefits. Remember that the brain is a muscle that must be exercised. There is a part of the brain called the hippocampus which is in charge of making and keeping memories, and partly responsible for managing emotions. People with Alzheimer’s disease have their hippocampus fail first and severely before other parts of the cortex fail. People with depression, bipolar disorder, and schizoprenia have a hippocampus that shrinks gradually.  The hippocampus also is now known to control the hormone estrogen, which controls emotions and mood changes.

By training yourself and your kids to memorize things, it may prevent you and your children from depression, anxiety, mood changes, Alzheimer’s, and other mental illnesses!  

The second benefit of memorization is, as your children spend time memorizing passages, tables, and poems, they learn to focus. Studies have found that students who were required to memorize from an early age often go on to have more capacity to focus on educational tasks as high school and college students. Researchers from the National Institute on Health and Aging have found that adults who went through short bursts of memory training were better able to maintain higher cognitive functioning and everyday skills, even five years after going through the training. Practicing memorization allowed the elderly adults to delay typical cognitive decline by seven to 14 years!

The third benefit is increased confidence.  When a child learns to do something difficult, they earn a great sense of accomplishment. This is especially true where plays or presentations are concerned; children often receive praise or even applause after they recite a poem or act in a play, which increases their self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.

Start with a simple task such as memorizing short Bible verses. This is something you can even do with a two-year old. Ask them to do it while standing up before meals and during morning and evening worship times. Ask them to keep their eyes focused on you and to speak clearly with a smile on their face. I make it more personal and understandable by modifying some of the Bible verses so they can understand the meaning of them. Here are 12 simple verses that you can use for each month of the year or the first six months of the year (two verses a month, depending on your child’s ability to memorize):

    1. Numbers 6:24 The Lord bless you and keep you.
    2. Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
    3. Matthew 5:14 You are the light of the world.
    4. Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey Mommy and Daddy in the Lord.
    5. Matthew 28:20 Jesus said He is with me always.
    6. John 10:11 Jesus said He is the Good Shepherd.
    7. Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
    8. Psalm 136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.
    9. Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.
    10. Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
    11. Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I will trust in Jesus.
    12. James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.

Some kids who are kinetic learners will find it easier and enjoyable to memorize Bible verses while doing an activity such as running in circles, hula hooping, dancing to a song, doing signs or hand gestures, etc. Make sure to repeat these verses daily during dinner time or worship time.

Older kids can start memorizing a whole chapter of a Bible or a long passage. Have them present to you during morning or evening worship, or in the middle of homeschooling session in between subjects. Even better, parents should also memorize these passages and maybe even do a competition with the older kids!

This will not only help them understand important spiritual lessons, but also help their brain cells to handle large amount of information which improves their cognitive functions. Here are a few ideas of important Bible chapters or passages that older kids and adults should memorize:

    1. Numbers 6:24-26
    2. The Ten Commandments – Exodus 20:1-17
    3. The Beatitudes – Matthew 5:1-12
    4. The Lord’s Prayer – Matthew 6:5-15
    5. Psalm 23 & 46
    6. 1 Corinthians 13
    7. Romans 8 & 12

REGULAR GIGS, AWARDS, AND REWARDS

As mentioned previously, when children receive applause and praises, their sense of self-worth and confidence are also increased. Even better, treat them with rewards or awards every so often.  

  • Have them present what they just learned from science or history lessons in the morning to the rest of the family during evening meal.  Ask them open-ended questions: “What did you learn about amphibians this morning? What did you learn about the Egyptians today?”  
  • Morning and/or evening worship times are perfect for them to present a Bible verse or chapter.  
  • Have the kids present what they memorize in front of church as part of the worship program or Adventist Youth program.  
  • Challenge other kids in their Sabbath School class to memorize verses and passages as well, and have them present during church service.  
  • Have your kids present their school project or what they learned this past week to their grandparents or family friends when they visit.  
  • Make a calendar with goals of which passages to memorize for the month and for the rest of the year.

USING VISUAL AIDS AND PROPS

Just like with a science presentation, help your kids with their speaking presentation using visual aids and props. I have been invited to be a judge at the local schools’ science fairs, and it’s always interesting to watch how some kids with average project can shine because of their public speaking skills, while some kids with average or amazing projects end up not winning because of their presentation skills. Younger kids can start with simple objects, while older kids may use slideshow software or props.  

Have your children be involved in a play at church or school where they get to do speech as a character. Preparing for a role, and preparing visual aids and props — both of these activities teach them to be prepared for their presentation in advance, which will help lessen their anxiety.

JOINING A PUBLIC SPEAKING CLUB

Toastmasters International or other local groups are often found in local libraries or churches. Look up Toastmasters International to find a local chapter. You’ll be surprised how much you and your older children can benefit from attending this weekly meeting of various people from all walks of life who simply want to improve their public speaking skills.  They will give you constructive criticisms, and they will help you to be a better speaker.

Our children at the time of this writing, are eight and four. They do fairly well being up on the podium or on stage with other kids at church or at a dance recital.  However, they still have some stage fright when they are up there by themselves. They are getting better at it, though. The oldest one actually recently asked when she could do special music all by herself. And, both of them enjoy doing mini presentations during evening dinner from what they learned in the morning.

I hope this article is helpful to you and your little ones. We have the responsibility to train our children to be pillars of the church and to be leaders wherever they go in life. Leaders are not necessarily bosses. Leaders are influencers. Everybody is a leader when you can influence others around you.  With the Great Commission as our task, we must equip our children with public speaking skills to reach others and to spread His love.

Maranatha!

Arthur P.

8 Ways to show your homeschooler love. Valentine's Day and Beyond

8 Ways to Show Your Homeschooler Love – Valentine’s Day and Beyond!

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought it would be a perfect time to focus on LOVE (I want you all to know that I’m writing this article just as much for myself as for you).  Genuine, caring, heart-felt love for our children can be a game-changer in their lives..and in ours as well.

In God’s word He is always calling us to “love one another”…this includes loving our children!

Most homeschooling parents I know deeply care about their kids and want the best for them. However it’s easy to get caught up in the routine and hustle of the everyday, that we sometimes miss displaying that affection to our children.

Here are 8 easy tips you can try today to communicate to your children that they are safe, adored and all is well:

1. Give eye contact with a smile. Connections most definitely come through eye contact and what follows. It sends the message of acceptance and love, or disapproval and rejection. Think about the random smiles you receive from those you love. They definitely create that warm and safe feeling inside. The same will happen for your child(ren). Make a point to look your child(ren) in the eyes and smile.

2. Speak kind words. As parents you most definitely know the difference between your child saying “Yes, Mama” with a loving tone, or “Yes, Mama” with a grunt and eye roll. Speak love into your children’s lives. Be mindful of the way you speak your words and the tone you choose to use.  Even a simple “Good Morning Lexi, How are you today? Did you sleep well?” in the right tone can create the atmosphere of kindness and love you are looking for in your home.

3. Be interested and ask questions. Think about a time when someone has met you several times, yet the questions they ask certainly confirm “You don’t know me”. Get to know your children. Ask them questions about their hobbies, favorite foods, books…them! If you need to, keep a journal with answers they have given you so you can reflect on them later. Throughout the year, ask them questions about the topics earlier discussed (How is your dog’s foot after he stepped on that spur? Did you and your brother ever make up that funny skit you talked about?) Showing a genuine interest in their lives will go extremely far in showing that you truly care.

4. Be present. I feel that as homeschooling parents it can be one of the most difficult challenges to be present with each child (especially if we have multiple children). We are amazing at multi-tasking and are usually thinking of 100 other things while we are teaching each child during the day(Uh oh, Johnny’s out of his seat again…Did I print off Bible for today?… Do we have swim lessons today?…Did I start the crockpot this morning?) It is so important that our children see and know we are present with them.  This means focusing in and staying in the moment when possible.  Everyone knows what it is like to be with someone that seems to want to be somewhere else.  Give your children the gift of being in the moment. Be Present.

5. Have a special routine. Connections are really amplified through three main areas: eye contact, physical touch and fun. Of course we can bestow huge hugs and kisses on our children each morning, and there are other ways to connect through physical touch. There’s nothing like a good ole high-five or the sweet old-fashioned “secret handshakes” of our childhood (we seriously rocked the “Say Say My Playmate” chant in 3rd Grade). Why not come up with a fun “Good Morning Handshake” when your child begins class time or right before you leave. You could really jazz this up with serious knee clapping, finger snapping, spinning around and the whole shebang. Even older children would love to participate in coming up with their own celebration “handshake”.

Check out “I Love You Rituals” by Becky Bailey for more great connection ideas.

6. Find out your child’s “Love Language”. The five love languages of children are: Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Gifts and Acts of Service; as laid out in Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages of Children. Check out the book “The Five Love Languages of Kids” by Gary Chapman for an in-depth look at each love language.  You can even group your children into each category for a quick and easy love check list.  Once you have a list you can check it daily.  Then go through your list and speak words of affirmation to those that need it, spend one-on-one extra time etc. with each child according to their specific need. Intentionality doesn’t equal fake, it means that you are wanting to meet those needs and show love to your kids.

7. Seek the Lord Daily. We absolutely need God’s love in our hearts, to be able to truly love others. Fill yourself up with God’s word every day and seek out specific counsels on love. Post them on sticky notes by your mirror to remind yourself of His perfect example of love.  Some of my favorite verses about how to love like Jesus did are: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Luke 6:31 “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.” Luke 12:31 “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

8. Love them. Ha! This one is a little bit of a tricky play on words. On a serious note though, sometimes it’s hard to love and care about some children that at times can be…well…a little difficult to love and care about. Can you find one thing today that you like or appreciate about each child? I would suggest making a list to help bring some of those positive things to the front of your mind.  Even if you are struggling with what to write for a particular child, keep in mind that in reality you don’t need a reason.  Each child deserves to be loved, regardless of whether they act like it or not, simply because they are a child of the King!

Looking back I can distinctly remember special moments with my parents when they were kind and showed me genuine love. That love and kindness made more of an impact on me then all of the Math, Language, Science etc. ever could.

P.S. Don’t be surprised if your children start doing some of these same things with each other. When a culture of love and acceptance in cultivated, there’s no telling where it’s impact will end.

Sharing the Pineapple

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I lean back in my chair, with my new book in my hand. It is Better Late Than Early, by Raymond and Dorothy Moore. I loved their book, The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook, and I want to learn more. I want to learn more about true education, delayed formal study, character building, and how to apply it. Well, my kids provide adequate training situations…

One meal we had pineapple as a side dish. My son (2 1/2 years old) really, really liked the fruit. So, when he saw an opportunity, he took all there was. And, he refused to share with his sister (four years old), who also wanted some of the pineapple.

What could have been a dilemma, ending in a fight, became an important lesson in character building.

Obviously my son needed to learn to share. Keeping everything for yourself is not the way you should act. It will result in negative feelings, I explained. He made his sister sad. He needed to protect his plate, to keep his sister from stealing some pieces of pineapple. And, he was upset when she succeeded in stealing a piece. I told him sharing the fruit with his sister will make not only her, but also him, happy. He shared happily one piece and both kids smiled. Good for them!

Then, my daughter asked for more and my son stubbornly refused again. So…the lesson continued! My son went in time-out in the hallway, where daddy talked in a calm and clear way to him, explaining he needed to share and then they both could happily enjoy the pineapple.

In the meantime, I talked with our daughter. Refusing to share is not okay, but stealing the fruit from your brother is also wrong. Learning to resist temptation is an important lesson, not only for now, but for the rest of her life. Even though she is young, she seemed to understand, and patiently waited for her brother to come back from time-out. Little brother needed a couple of minutes to think, but when he came back to the table, he happily shared the pineapple with his sister until she wanted no more.

Oh, how I love these kids and their smiling faces! I feel so incredibly blessed with the children God gave us, with everything God gave us. Since we decided homeschooling was the way we wanted to educate our children, I learned about true education, delayed formal study, and the need to focus on character building. I have to say I’m still a newbie in homeschooling and I need to learn more, much more. But, I thank God for the lessons both my family and I learn, day by day.

Simple Ways to Celebrate Diversity with Your Child

celebrating-diversity

With Martin Luther King Jr. Day this month, the topic of diversity always comes to the front of my mind. What does God expect from us and our children when it comes to celebrating diversity? In the famous children song that we often sing to our children, we hear “Jesus loves the little children, ALL the children of the world.” Jesus made us all different and it’s something worth celebrating.

I believe that our differences are worth honoring. We are all God’s children and He loves every single one of us. We don’t have the eyes of the Father, and so it can sometimes be difficult to like and even relish our differences, yet God calls us to love all of his children. Here are some simple ideas to bring the concept of celebrating diversity to a child’s understanding:

1. Pick out books that bring out differences in God’s children and discuss how our differences can be beautiful. I love these books because they use a great language that our children can understand. (Click on any of the pictures below to go to the books.)

the-colors-of-us

jesus-loves-the-little-children

same-same-but-different

spaghetti-in-a-hot-dog-bun

2. Seek out craft projects and experiments that have an intention of celebrating our differences. These crafts seem to be simple and focused on understanding those who may be different from us. (Click on the pictures to find the crafts.)

egg-experiment

the-crayon-box-that-talked-2

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3. Music is a great way to illustrate diversity in a beautiful way that sticks in our mind. Here are a few songs I found on diversity.

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if-youre-happy-and-you-know-it

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands

4. Practicing good listening skills is a great way to celebrate diversity of thought. I love these activities for role playing and bringing the concept of good listening to children.

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5. Schedule some giving projects. Whenever we choose to look outside of ourselves to be generous or help another of God’s children, I believe the Holy Spirit helps us to see God’s love for that individual in that moment. Here are some fun giving projects to enjoy giving!

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Whatever method you choose, I challenge you and your family to celebrate the differences that God has given us. Together we make up the beautiful body of Christ! That’s something worth celebrating!

The Making of a Longsuffering Parent

In this post, I will attempt to explicate ways to discovering the balance of love and firmness in our homes. My growing desire is for my children and me to share a mutual experience of Christ’s character. Together. Day by day. And, even on those bad days. AND, find joy in the process! 😉

Two Ways and Their End

“There are two ways to deal with children – ways that differ widely in principal and results. Faithfulness and love, united with wisdom and firmness, in accordance with the teachings of God’s word, will bring happiness in this life and in the next. Neglect of duty, injudicious indulgence, failure to restrain or correct the follies of youth, will result in unhappiness and final ruin to the children and disappointment and anguish to the parents,” Child Guidance, p. 258.

Recently the Lord has brought the love chapter, found in 1 Corinthians 13, to my thoughts with increasing regularity. We all know it well or have heard it recited often, but do we cultivate the many synonyms given in our daily experiences and interactions with our families? I know I am found lacking here! So, lets dissect this one:

“If I have… (insert any amazing feat you desire to achieve, any amazing to-do list you desire to conquer, any amazing curriculum or resource you desire to incorporate) …but do not have love, I gain NOTHING.”

This is not to discourage us but to point us to our training manual. If we desire to “gain” in our homeschool, to be victorious over nap time and multiplication tables, and slay those bad attitudes that occasionally rear their ugly heads, we must seek this love Christ offers! Who wants to gain ground for Christ this year in their homes?

“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” Phillipians 1:21.

We have to put our feelings aside and pray when our children walk off the path of obedience. Recently I touted to myself, during a challenging day, “I should NOT have to put up with this?! I should NOT!!” Then, the Lord almost immediately gave me a math problem. 🙂 I’m serious. It was clear as day in my mind.

“Then Peter came to him, and said,  ‘Lord how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Til seven times?’ Jesus saith unto him, ‘I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until 70×7.'”

Ok, so any other parents hear the rebuke there? It doesn’t mean our children offend and disobey and we forever ignore them along with said inappropriate behavior.

“For whom the Lord loveth, He correcteth,” Proverbs 3:12.

It means we learn to be longsuffering with them. That’s where the extra long training has come in for me: “Love suffers long and is kind…is not puffed up.” My heart hurts at the thought of allowing myself to puff up toward my child. I want to draw them in with the love of Christ, not use the offense mechanism of an animal to discourage its prey.

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child.” My children are children, and so they are immature in many aspects of their speech and understanding. I forget that I once was a child too. I too needed a patient guide to teach me, to shine a light on the path that I might go successfully, that I might understand the joy found through service and obedience to Christ. This is the sum of our longsuffering duty.

“If you seek the Lord and be converted every day: if you will of your own spiritual choice be free and joyous and God: if with gladsome consent of heart to his gracious call you come wearing the yoke of Christ — the yoke of obedience and service — all your murmuring will be stilled, all your difficulties will be removed, all the perplexing problems that now confront you will be solved,” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessings, p. 101.

To be an effective teacher you have to be a doer of things taught, or the lessons you are teaching will be like seeds planted where they could not find deep roots. They will be crowded out or shrivel up in the heat and die. To teach the character of Christ to our children, we must learn to be longsuffering, and that is when the teacher becomes the student and the student a teacher.

Your fellow student-teacher in Christ,

Allison