From my past… Praying I have a better first day of school this year!
What I wanted to share with you was how amazing our first day of school was this year. This was especially true since I am getting ready to teach a class to homeschoolers this week about “homeschooling More than One Student”. I am supposed to know what I am doing…
Dream with me… The kids get out of bed bright eyed and bushy tailed. They eat breakfast and do a few chores and meet me at the table at the pre-determined time. We work through all of our lessons and they all stay focused and work diligently… (Can you hear my bubble pop?)
I wish I could write that my kids were not only were they begging to be taught, but that I had one of those awesome teacher days where everything I did was a total success.
Nope. That was not our first day of school….
with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers:
- Maintains parental control over baby’s environment
- Provides safe play area
- Keeps baby/toddler right where you need them to stay
- Provides an area of focus
- Encourages self entertainment
- Stimulates concentration
- Unlocks creativity
- Creates peace and stability in the child’s day
- High Chair
- Baby gate to keep child safely in the room I chose.
- Pet corrals (like the one picture above. This one worked beautifully for outdoor play!
- Car Seats. That’s right. I used a car seat in my home to help little ones sit for a short period of time.
- Kids learn to focus
- Kids have time to really explore a toy, story or idea
- I could use these pockets of time to focus on older kids and their harder subjects.
- Kids developed and created incredible “inventions”
- This pocket of time transitioned to quiet reading time (or Lego Time) as the boys got older.
- Encourages self-control
- Still a highlight of each boy’s day
Don’t Panic if Your Kids Cannot Read Yet!
Just keep reading to them.
I have had 5 reluctant readers myself. I chose not to panic about it, but to follow my own advice. Our youngest was the most reluctant yet. He didn’t begin reading until he was ten. Yes, TEN.
I always read aloud to him and kept giving him opportunity to read, but it never “clicked”. One day, that all changed.
I was walking all over our home looking for him one day. He was silent…
I was shocked to stumble over him reading quietly in a corner while snuggling with the dog.
Did I say I was shocked?
I knew it would eventually happen, but I was still shocked when it did.
He fell in love with the Magic Tree House Series. As a matter of fact he has read a whole book every day since the day I took this picture. Amazing!
Do you have a reluctant reader?
Keep reading to them.
Supply them with lots of books.
Visit the library. Often.
Leave ’em hanging in a story.
Just never give up. They will read.
Never make it a negative, reading is fun.
The only thing that matters is THAT they learn to read.
One of the hardest lessons I have learned over the years is that I should ask my husband for homeschooling advice.
But I neglected asking my own husband for help or guidance in homeschooling.
I share this with the hope that you will learn from my mistakes.
I was never intentionally ignoring his wisdom, I was simply wrong in my thinking.
You see, I have always been the primary teacher for our five boys.
I cook, I clean, I teach.
My husband has always worked very hard as the provider of our home.
He is a brilliant computer guy who is always up to his eyeballs in the latest technology.
I always thought this meant he didn’t know what the boys needed as far as “school” was concerned.
Boy was I wrong!
Hubby is too busy at work to:
- pick out science experiments
- choose curriculum
- grade math tests.
That’s where I always failed.
I thought since he wasn’t involved in the “small” homeschooling things that he wouldn’t have anything to offer besides support for me.
Sheesh. I was so wrong.
While I do still struggle with this mindset from time to time, I have learned to prioritize not just including my husband, but rather allowing him to lead us in our homeschooling adventure.
How does My Husband Lead without being the day to day teacher?
- He helps cast a vision for our homeschooling.
- He keeps me focused on the Lord.
- He reminds me that character trumps curriculum. Every. Single. Time.
- He reminds me to focus on life skills and “an attitude of learning” rather than any particular topic.
- He helps me regulate my own schedule so I do not spin myself into the ground.
- He trusts me to choose curriculum and teaching topics that align with our family while educating our boys.
2. I’d go to the library at least once a week allowing them to choose
books that interest them, and hand picking random books for me to read
aloud. I would be watching for what they are interested in, what makes
them excited, what they find boring, etc.
3. I would rely on my husband more in creating a vision for our
children, rather than trying to figure out what everyone else is doing. I
wouldn’t waste a second trying to make what works for your kids work
for mine. I’d keep my husband in the loop about our daily escapades and
accept his advice more quickly. I mistakenly thought that because he
worked outside the home all day he would be unable to see what the kids
needed. This piece of humble pie would have been better to consume early
4. Rather than spending countless hours worrying about this curriculum or that, I would begin with the family goals we have now:
- Put the highest priority on sharing our love for Jesus with our children.
- To insure the kids know their math facts inside and out. Period. Forget learning them, they need to over learn them.
- To inspire a love for literature by exposing the kids to a steady flow
of great books. (I would read aloud daily no matter what their ages).
I’d be picking the brains of the veteran homeschoolers, librarians, and
authors that are in my sphere of influence for suggestions and I would
prioritize a daily reading habit.
- I would focus all learning to develop excellent written and oral
communication skills. I would find my children pen pals so they could
perfect the friendly letter.
- I would have them do copy work from the masters and discuss why the
sentences, paragraphs, essays, or stories are so great. I would
understand that excellence in writing really comes from being well read
and practice, tactics, practice.
5. I would find opportunities for my kids to stand and share in front of
others, whether it is during a family BBQ or performing with the local
theater- giving them the skill and confidence to speak in front of
6. I would view curriculum, tests, quizzes, and state tests as resources
to help me customize each of the kids education, not the substance of
7. I would relax more.
I’d let the kids get dirtier.
I would get
We would play in the rain, build in the snow, chase rainbows,
cloud watch, visit the farm, play at the beach, collect more leaves,
examine more bugs, watch more plays, attend the theater, interview our
doctors and dentists, locate inspirational guests like missionaries,
mechanical engineers, artists, poets, and ace mechanics to share their
passions with the kids. I would put a map of the US and the world under
glass or plastic across my kitchen table and every single time we read
or heard about a place we would locate it on the map and discuss how
close/far it it from us.
9. I would do it all over again. And again. And again.
How about you?
What are the top few things you would change if you could
rewind the tape and homeschool those beginning years with the wisdom
you have today?
I should have quit when:
- The ceiling started dripping.
- I realized the water was coming from the upstairs bathroom.
- When I called the landlord to tell her that the upstairs bathroom was leaking into the downstairs bathroom.
- When my 7th grader decided I was “wasting his time by trying to get him to write down a few math steps”.
- My 7th grader was shaking in frustration, confusion, and rebellion.
- The plumber came and asked me where the main water turn off was for our new home.
- My 6the grader decided that 2 hours was an appropriate time limit for a lesson that was begun with the words, “honey, I am letting you do this easy math lesson today so you can practice three things: neatness, discipline, and timing…”
- I looked at my 6th grader’s paper only to discover he had only neatly written the lesson number after 30 minutes.
- My 4th grader disappeared from the school area… AGAIN.
- My 7th grader announces to me, in front of the plumber, “mom, ______ just bit ______” (no names to protect the guilty)
- I realized that one of my kids bit another of my kids.
- (Really? I have No I kids under the age of 9!!!)
- The guilty child was just “play biting in order to get his toy back…”
- (I repeat. My kids are older than 9).
- The plumber asks, “So… You homeschool?”
- I reply, “Yes sir. Only today is one of those days that I question homeschooling!”
- The boys almost hung the dog. Accidentally of course.
- They are kind.
- They are confident.
- They look people in the eye when spoken to.
- They befriend the new kids.
- They put down their phone when others are in the room.
- They are strong and hard working.
- They know how to cook, chop wood and change the oil on a car.
- They are compassionate and caring.
- They LOVE to read and devour the written word.
- They hunt down information when their interests are piqued.
- They can balance their checkbook and manage a budget.
- They can break down a project into a workable timeline.
- They can manage a calendar.
- They can create power point presentations and present their ideas to a group.
- They know how to receive instruction.
- They can add, subtract, multiply, and divide whole numbers, fractions and decimals.
- They can measure accurately using various tools.
- They can take a disappointment in stride.
- They lose with dignity and win with humility.
- They pass on compliments (…”my dad taught me that”)
- They can manage their own small business, like lawn care.
- They put things back where they found them.
- They acknowledge that a great team is worth its weight in gold.
- They master the art of harmony- working together blending talents and abilities for the greater good.
- They are self-sacrificing of their time.
- They are dependable in a time of need.
- They do not whine: when folding laundry, going on a million errands, or picking up dog poop.
- They are experts at something: art, music, design, gardening, physical fitness, writing, programming, etc.
- They can write legibly.
- They visit people in real life, talk to them in person on the phone, and text only when necessary.
- They value life and place the highest value on loving God and others.
- They are informed and involved in their community.
- They open doors for ladies, stand in the presence of their elders, and play with small children.
- They rejoice when others succeed.
- They run to do the right thing, even though they might be afraid.
- They know that there are only two kinds of information: things they already know and things they can learn.
- They are not afraid of learning hard things.
- They know the difference between needs and wants.
- They refuse to live in debt, but instead work hard and save.
- They are the first to volunteer, and the last to leave when work needs to be done.
- They still love Jesus
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
No math concept, essay, or science experiment trumps raising your sons and daughters to be excellent, loving, kind, hard working, and dependable.
Focus on character and life skills as the default and homeschooling core.
Subjects and concepts are simply tools used to teach children how to live.
Focus on the big stuff: attitude, character, habits of diligence.
This world is at their fingertips.
Focus on HOW they are learning and growing.
P.S-What if all parents and teachers focused on their children in this way…