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.

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

mlk-character-craftivity

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!

9-easy-but-intentional-acts-of-kindness-kids-can-do-for-community-caregivers-like-police-fire-fighters-nurses-teachers-and-childcare-workers

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!

Making Space for Quiet in Your Busy Homeschool Day

Making Space for Quiet in Homeschool

Have you ever been so consumed with the go-go-go of homeschooling that you’ve forgotten what it feels like to have some quiet time? Have you ever been in a place where you’ve felt like you couldn’t keep up with the rushed pace of all you need to fit in?

Between schedules and standards, at times I feel like I am missing some important downtime and quiet time. I can tell when my children are getting restless, too, and need some quiet in our schedule.

Quiet and downtime is a very important part of a homeschooler’s day. Adding these moments of calm can act as a steam vent of sorts, to release some of the pressures and stresses that can build up in any given day. In God’s word He encourages us to incorporate rest and quiet into our daily schedules. In Ecclesiastes 4:6 He says, “One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.” Then again in Psalm 4:4, he encourages stillness by reminding us to, “Stand in awe, and sin not: Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.”

Stand in awe and sin not, commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still.

But, how can we meet the demands of curriculum and schedules, yet still find time to have quiet, restful stillness to connect with our Heavenly Father and each other? With each “rest moment” it is important to set up cues to help you as you establish your quiet time routine.

Here are six simple ideas for incorporating quiet into your homeschool day:

1. Nature Observation: Scheduling some time in God’s “other book” is a great way to connect with him and restore your soul. You could have your children each find a quiet spot of their own and draw pictures of what they see. You could even take a quiet walk, and then talk about what you each have learned and observed during your stroll. This could also be a great daily prayer time or something that you put into your schedule weekly. Either way, nature is a perfect place to enjoy some quiet in your day.

2. Quiet Reading Time: In our house we currently only have one consistent napper. My oldest daughter still enjoys some quiet time during nap time though. She usually chooses to look at books quietly during this time. This gives everyone in the house a chance to have some peaceful rest time, even if not napping. After lunch, almost daily, my kids know that it is rest time. My oldest will choose four or five books, get her blanket and pillows situated, and nuzzle in for some quiet reading time. Some days I use this time to catch up on reading of my own, or occasionally I will snuggle up with my youngest and attempt to have a little snooze time with him.

3. Listening to Music: Calming music can be a great way to create a quiet environment. The type of music is really up to you. If you want to create a focus on Christ during your quiet time, playing that type of music while you rest would be a great idea. Music is also good in assisting to calm in a stressful time of day. Some days, I will turn on some piano music randomly in the middle of our day, to help create that atmosphere of calm if our day is getting hectic.

4. Drawing Time: Some days, during our afternoon rest time, my oldest child enjoys some peaceful drawing time. She quietly sets up her colored pencils and drawing notebook and quietly creates her masterpiece. She knows that the rules are that she can draw, as long as she can do it independently and peacefully. If she begins to be frustrated or needs to interrupt an adult to assist her, she knows it is time to move to quiet rest time for the duration of the allotted period.

5. Journaling: Journaling is another great way to add some quiet into your day. In the seasons of my life when I’ve been committed to journaling on a consistent basis, I have felt more connected to Christ and more at peace during my day. I think the act of getting my thoughts on paper, and releasing them from permeating and stressing in my mind, helps calm me down. I usually prefer to set my journal up in a “letter to Christ” format. I have even heard of some who have kept a nature observation journal, and they record how they see God’s handiwork in nature. You can choose the best journaling format for you and your children.

6. Bible Reflection: Whether writing or drawing about a Bible passage or story, Bible journaling is a wonderful way to bring the peace of the Holy Spirit into your day. This is an activity that can be done at any age. If you have young ones at home, you could read the passage together and then reflect in drawing. We have a children’s Bible story on audio. Many times during rest time or at night we will play the story and then talk about it and pray together.

In whatever avenue you decide to add intentional rest and quiet time into your homeschool day, I pray that God’s peace and Holy Spirit will be an intricate part of your journey to add space for quiet.

Five Simple and Affordable Ways to Start Your Homeschool Year

5 Simple and Affordable Ways to start your homeschool year

Have you ever started the year with gusto, gathering and purchasing every recommended program to start your homeschool year, just to have piles of unused materials when the year ends? Do you fear that your child will miss out when you see curriculum that you don’t have in your current program? Does looking at all of the options paralyze you and leave you feeling unsure of where to even begin?

The good news is, you don’t have to buy it all to have an effective homeschool program (in fact, it may hinder your effectiveness). Gathering curriculum and supplies for your homeschool can be simple and manageable.

Here are five ways to start your homeschool year simply and affordably:

1. Start small. Choose core and essential curriculum components and start there. When it comes to curriculum, it’s not necessary to start with core curriculum AND all of the supplements available. It could even distract your child to have too many options at the beginning of the school year. I suggest getting a start with the core pieces. Once your school year starts and you have a better handle on how the curriculum is meeting your child’s needs, you can follow by purchasing supplements as needed throughout the school year.

2. Purchase art supplies as needed. This is a danger zone for me. I love to craft and have ALL THE THINGS available at any moment inspiration may strike. Even though 1,000 colored pom-poms in all shapes and sizes may be beautiful and seem necessary when you spot them in the craft aisle, they just may end up cluttering your craft space (and you may find them in every corner of your house). Instead you could try mapping out your art needs for monthly or weekly trips to the store. This ensures that you are only getting the supplies that are needed for those projects. 

As the year progresses you may find that you have most of the supplies you need for your projects and can space out your supply shopping trips even further. I still LOVE free crafting time, and will have my daughter use a portion of the supplies purchased for school to do this. We also encourage her to be creative and find things around the house to reuse or repurpose for fun-craft time or even educational projects.

To give you an idea, we usually start with these basic supplies and then add to it, depending on the project: one small box of crayons, one small box of markers, two glue sticks, a pair of age-appropriate scissors, and a small pack of colored construction paper or drawing paper.

3. Always make and bring a list when shopping. Not only does this help keep your homeschool space clutter free, it also helps the budget! In most cases if it’s not on the list, it’s a “no buy.”  There are always exceptions to the rule, but if I didn’t write it down, then I really have to wrestle with its “essentialism” before making the purchase. I like to use the Notes app on my phone to make my lists, but I have some friends who use some nifty list apps like Clear and To-doist.

4. Use the one-in-one-out rule. We try to use this rule mainly for clothes and toys: when a new item comes in, an old item goes out. The same principle can be applied once you have a base of curriculum and supplies that you feel comfortable with. The idea is to keep it at a manageable level for your family. For example, if you decide that you need/want some new markers, sift through your old ones and make some room for the new.

5. Put on your blinders and teach. It’s so easy for me to continue to search for curriculum and ideas throughout the whole school year. This can lead to a serious feeling of being overwhelmed. When the temptation to add more to your curriculum comes your way, ask yourself if it’s a necessary piece that’s missing, or if it’s more of an unnecessary addition. Having extra projects and activities to spice up your child’s learning experience is A-ok, just consciously choose what you want to add. Don’t let the “fear of missing out” guide your decisions when it comes to curriculum.

Choosing curriculum and supplies for your homeschool year can be overwhelming and stressful. Finding a manageable amount of textbooks, workbooks, and supplies that works for your family — and sticking to it — can be a great way to de-stress and find joy in the simplicity of homeschooling.