Character building

What to do with Our Little Ones While We Work with Our Big Ones

Our little ones are a blessing from The Lord. No matter how much we love them, we all still struggle at times. I remind myself frequently that this is a season of my life. All seasons, good or bad, change quickly. I try to remember to enjoy the things that are special about each age. This is a challenge for me after clearing poop out of my two year old’s underwear and off of the floor for the third time in a day, but then I see his contagious smile and joy at the simplest things in life, such as peanut butter and crackers for snack. He is so precious! Thank you God for using my son to remind me of the simple joys in life.

 

When we are faced with seasons of our life that are more challenging than others (sickness, new baby), remember that it is okay to change what school looks like for a while. Perhaps taking 12 weeks off of traditional schoolwork, after a baby is born, to work on home economics and baby care, is the best thing for all involved; Or focusing only on the 3Rs. More multi level learning or more independent workbooks might be what is needed. Adapting curriculum to the specific needs of our family is one of the benefits of homeschooling.

 

As much as I’d like to do it all, it’s simply not possible. We have to make choices of what is the most important in our children’s education. If I have to choose between math and teaching my son to control his temper when his little brother breaks his Nerf gun, I think the character choice is the way to go. Hopefully, by making this choice now while they are young, I will have more time with them when they are older and have developed good character, to teach them the other things that I want to teach them. If my daughter knows calculus and all of the presidents in order, yet can’t cook herself a meal or get along with others, I will consider her education a failure!

 

I believe self-discipline training is also important when trying to find the time to do school. If my preschoolers and toddlers are

  • patient,
  • obedient the first time,
  • can play by themselves when told to (alone time), and
  • can sit for a period of time when told to,

everything is easier. These skills take practice to develop and time to learn. Having my preschooler sit and color for 15 minutes in the morning is not so much because I want her to develop her coloring skills; It’s because I want her to develop her obedience and self-control. Learning to color inside the lines is a bonus.

 

Another thing I do in order to have more time teaching my children traditional subjects, is to utilizing a number of time management strategies.

 

  • Meal plan.
  • Turn off phone.
  • Have kids help with chores (Also part of teaching them life skills)
  • Have big kids help little kids (School of littles, Read to littles, Play with littles)
  • Schedule errands only one day a week

 

Infant

I plan my time of instruction around my infant. When he naps, we do subjects that require more involvement from me, like science. When he nurses, I read to the kids things like history and geography or have them read to me. Older kids can help with my infant, even if it’s just holding him or sitting on the floor next to him. Sleep training can be helpful. Some find babywearing to be helpful. It may also be a season where more field trips are easier than sit down instruction.

 

Toddler

With my toddler, I try to involve him as much as possible and save the other techniques for when I really need them. He’s my little buddy when I do chores in the morning. He may sit on my lap or a big siblings, when we are doing schoolwork. He may hold the completed flashcards as we do them. When I want to have more focused instruction with my older kids, then I have him do things like alone time, listen to books on tape, puzzles, coloring, stringing beads, pull out a bin of special toys, or simply wait till nap time.

 

Preschooler

My preschooler is most often involved on her level. She has her own workbooks when big siblings do theirs. She listens when we read history and science and is often involved in the experiments. At other times, she does puzzles, coloring, lacing cards, stringing beads, cutting, gluing, alone time, listens to music, watches an educational video, or plays with her siblings. I require my children to take an afternoon nap until they at least start kindergarten.  

 

Though little ones are a joy, they can still be frustrating at times. I try to remember to always show God’s love to my children. First Corinthians 13:13 reminds me And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Happy Birthday America!

Independence Day like any other birthday in this house will be celebrated with food. We will be having Red, White, & Blue Pancakes for breakfast. Lunch will be a simple PB&J sandwiches with a side of Bananas. For supper we will grill out and serve Red, White, & Blue Fruit Salad.

Normally we spend the day with friends and watch the fireworks late at night. This year my children have chickenpox. Since socializing in public places is rather frowned on, we will be staying home this year.

I also want my children to never forget the importance of this day, so we will be reading the Declaration of Independence. I know that my children are young and probably won’t understand most of it, but I want them to become familiar with it as they grow. If I read it every year, it will become familiar to them by the time we study it in-depth in highschool. I also plan to discuss some of our founding fathers who sacrificed greatly to make this day happen. Rick Boyer has a great list of some of these heroic men in his article Part I - Boyer Family Independence Day Celebration if you are looking for some brief summaries.

We love to finish our day by watching the City fireworks at a local park. However, since getting bitten by a bunch of mosquitoes while already having chickenpox probably wouldn’t feel so good, we are planning to watch the fireworks from inside our minivan. It will be a challenge to arrange the kids so they can all see out the window, but hey, our country’s birthday only comes once a year, so let’s remember what our birthday is all about and celebrate!

What are your plans for Independence Day?

Doing Something You Didn't Think You Ever Could

There are many things we do as mothers that we never imagined we’d do. This summer, I had the privilege of encountering a new one. 

It happened shortly after we purchased a kiddie pool for our children. One day when we returned home from an appointment, we walked passed the kiddie pool on the way into the house. My children were in front of me. At the sight of the inside of the pool, my children starting making quite a commotion. Unaware of what they were all saying, since they were all talking at once, I looked into the pool to see what the commotion was all about. There, floating in our new kiddie pool, was a dead squirrel!

The squirrel had apparently climbed into the pool to get a drink and couldn’t get itself back out of the pool once it was done. I don’t usually like squirrels because of all the damage they cause, but seeing a drowned one floating in our kiddie pool, was a sad, pathetic sight to behold even for me. I considered leaving it for my manly husband to deal with when he got home, but it was morning and it just didn’t seem right to leave the dead squirrel floating in the pool all day long. Furthermore, until I removed, drained, cleaned, and refilled the pool, it was unusable. Since it had been so hot and dry that week, that just didn’t seem prudent. So, I sucked it up and got the pitch fork to remove the dead squirrel from the kiddie pool. I was going to immediately throw it into the garbage, but my curious children wanted to see it. So, as gross as it was, I allowed them to inspect the dead squirrel close up. 

My children learned some details about squirrels they hadn’t known before, just by being able to see one close up (live ones don’t seem to hold still long enough). It was also a very visual reminder of pool safety rules and the horrible effects of disobeying them. 

So, the moral of this story is that sometimes as mothers we do things that we never thought we would have to do (dealing with a dead squirrel). And in the midst of it, we need to be strong for our children (God will give us the strength we need) and make the most out of it. If I had danced around and screamed about how disgusting the dead squirrel was, my children never would have gotten close enough to learn the things they did about squirrels and probably would have developed some irrational fear.

Interesting footnote... Another squirrel that died in our pool on another day, was the focus an elementary dissection exercise. 

What is something you never thought you’d have to do as a parent and what was learned from it (by you or your children)?

The Value of Observing Random Processes

Steam roller on fresh asphaltMy children probably know more about road resurfacing than the average adult. I’m not trying to brag, I’ve simply noticed lately that they have learned a lot about road construction through simple observation. Since my oldest three children are boys, they naturally love construction vehicles and flock to the window whenever they see one drive by. We live in a house on a corner lot. In the last two years the city has resurfaced both roads by our house. Both times this has happened, I’ve had other plans for the day and decided to alter our plans so that my boys could observe the process of road resurfacing. Instead of eating lunch at the table like we normally do, one day this summer, I allowed my boys to take their lunch out to the front steps to eat it so they could watch the road construction as it was happening. I don’t think learning how a road is resurfaced will necessarily make my children into better adults, but I do think learning about the world around them and how things work and how much time and effort and resources go into common everyday things that they don’t normally think about will make them into better adults. My point is not about learning how a road is resurfaced, but taking the (sometimes inconvenient) opportunity to learn about one’s world around oneself.

I’d love to hear about the last process you took the time to observe with your children. Please leave a comment to tell me about it.

The Unusual Pursuit of Squirrel Trapping

We have an abundance of squirrels in our yard. My six-year-old son really wants to catch one. He says because he wants to provide food and leather for our family. We have never used squirrels for these purposes before, but this is my son’s pursuit regardless. I think fun is the more likely reason for this pursuit, but the reason is not the point.

The point is that even though this is not a typical pursuit for a six-year-old (or maybe it is, I have no comparison since he is my oldest), I am not only allowing it, but encouraging it because he has exemplified several good qualities through this pursuit.

Death and Thankfulness: Our Dog Molly

We had our dog, Molly, since before I was pregnant with our first child. She was a good dog and we miss her. My children haven’t know not having a dog because she has always been around since they were born. She was gentle with them and they loved her. Because of her, they don’t fear dogs.

Molly helped teach my children responsibility. My six year old son has learned the responsibility of taking care of another living creature. Feeding her every day. Washing her dishes and kennel. Cleaning up after her. Bathing, and grooming her. Even my four year old has had his turn at taking care of her. 

Molly helped show my children what obedience looks like. “Molly come!” and she came with no questions asked, no arguing, no dawdling, no tantrums.

Molly had been sick for several weeks when one day, my husband and I sensed that it was getting close to the time of Molly’s death, so we had the children go outside and spend some special time playing with her. I’m so glad for their sake that we did, because she died the next day. 

My children have been sick lately, which is very frustrating to me at times. Yet, our dog reminded me in the midst of this, to be thankful in all things, even when my children are sick; I can be thankful that they are still alive. 

We never know how long we will have someone or something in our lives. I want my children to be constantly thankful; Especially thankful for the time we have with loved ones. I am trying to convey this heart of gratitude to my children in the midst of their mourning. I think mourning has it’s season, but gratitude should still be found among it.

Even through Molly’s death, she was still teaching my children. She taught them about sickness and dying. Death is a part of life. I believe that we shouldn’t shelter our children from it, but help them mature through it. Death is as much a part of life as birth is. Everyone is born and everyone dies. What a great opportunity to talk to my children about our Loving Creator. 

Thank you God, for the seven years we had with our dog, Molly; And thank you for the time I have now with my family

Be Careful With Your Stuff-Learning The Hard Way

It’s inevitable that children will break things. Our oldest son was quite careful with his stuff early on and didn’t break very many things. Usually when something of his did break, we would fix it for him. My wonderful husband is a great handy man and can fix almost anything. Then, along came our second son and suddenly lots of things started getting broken. Initially we would fix everything just like we had when we only had one child. We were obviously busier now that we had two children and since things were getting broken at a much more frequent rate, we started getting a pile of toys and things that were waiting to be fixed. For the most part, the children didn’t even seem to miss them. I am not a fan of having toys or work piled up waiting for me. It stresses me and I try to avoid it. So, I decided it was time for a change in our fix it plan.

We changed our fix-ability criteria from “Are we capable of fixing it and is it economical to fix it?” to now adding on “Is it also an absolute favorite toy of the child’s or is it something that we really want their younger sibling to have someday?” With our new fix-ability criteria, we started NOT fixing most of their toys and things. If the toy was unsafe or unusable, they had to throw it away. Otherwise, they could choose to use the item in it’s broken state.

As a result, their pile of toys started diminishing to a more manageable number with no effort on my part. My children seemed more satisfied with less than perfect things (which is something I feel is important for them to learn). I also noticed that the frequency of things getting broken, had decreased! They had learned how to be more careful with their stuff. We had taught them a very important lesson-that not everything can be fixed.

What ways have you used to teach your children to be careful with their stuff?

 

Brotherly Love or Brotherly War?

Boxing GlovesOne of the Bible verses my children know is Romans 12:10 “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (NKJV). The words “brotherly love” were nagging at me. I hadn’t been seeing much “brotherly love” in my oldest two boys lately. I was frustrated with their attitudes towards each other. They were fighting and competing with each other a lot. They were even rejoicing in each other’s sufferings. They would try to be first to finish chores in the morning so they could taunt the other one. I know that some of this is male competition, and I don’t mind some competition. It can encourage them to go faster or work harder, but this had gotten out of hand. It was causing fighting and problems. I felt like it was pulling my boys apart. It seemed more like “brotherly war” would have been a better description of their behavior.

Romans 12:10 kept playing in my head. I kept thinking that there was something wrong with my boys. They were not acting like they should. They are brothers, but their behavior was wrong! I want them to be drawn together as brothers. I want them to love each other like brothers and more than friends.

This has been really bothering me lately. I’ve been praying and trying to find ways to foster that “brotherly love” instead of “brotherly war”. I tried making them do chores together. It usually didn’t work very well. My six-year-old would usually whine and complain the whole time and get frustrated because my four-year-old was whining and complaining so much that he wasn’t even doing the chore. If they finished with out my intervention, my six-year-old would usually have ended up doing 99% of the work.

two boys on a rocking horseSo last week, I tried something new, I told them they had to work together to fold the basket of laundry I had just dumped on the bed. And then told them, “Oh yeah, and if I catch either of you not working together, such as not participating in the folding or whining about how the other one isn’t participating, then the boy not working together is going to finish the whole chore by himself.” I then told them that supper was in 30 minutes and that they were not allowed to come out until the laundry was folded and put away. I closed the door and walked away.

They folded the laundry TOGETHER in record time and seemed to actually enjoy each other’s company while doing it. Just in case this was a fluke, I have since repeated the same process a few times. So far, it seems to be working. My four-year-old, of course, had to test if I meant it once, and refused to actually fold a load of laundry. Since my six-year-old was fully participating in the chore without whining, I released him and left my four-year-old to finish the load by himself. The chore was done, there was less whining, and neither of the boys were fighting with each other. This made for a happier and less stressed home. I think I’m going to repeat this process with other chores as well.

How do you foster “brotherly love” in your children?

 

Gift Stress

My husband and I sometimes struggle with giving gifts to our children or receiving gifts for our children from others. We are thankful for whatever our family receives and are truly appreciative of the sentiment behind the gifts given to us and our children. However, sometimes the gifts we receive bring with them issues.

One of the issues that sometimes arises with gifts of toys, is the educational value of them. We are okay with our children playing with toys just for fun, but we don’t want mindless entertainment toys that quickly lose their entertainment value to be the main focus of our children. We prefer toys that serve some form of educational or developmental value. We feel that quality is far superior to quantity in the area of toys.

The other main issue that arises with gifts of toys for us is quantity. The reasons are two-fold. First, there is the general issue of a large quantity of toys and the stress it places on the child. There are studies on this topic so I will summarize it to say children with fewer toys are often less stressed and happier (which also makes Mommy less stressed and happier).

The second part of this issue, is that we live in a small house with very limited storage space. I am constantly going through stuff in our house to try to make room for other stuff that I deem more important. When we receive more stuff, there is always the question of where to put it. Even if the stuff received is more exciting and fun toys, the question of where to put it still remains.

We’ve done a few things to help deal with these issues. We now limit the number of gifts we give to our children. We usually choose no more than three gifts per child. Sheer quantity helps with the issues of storage immensely. We are also mindful of the size of the gifts we choose. Some things are simply too big for our space and are therefore just not options.

We have also stopped giving mostly just fun entertainment toys to our children. We now give mostly stuff with a purpose. In addition to the old standby option of clothing, we have gotten a little more creative. This year one of our children is getting a new backpack because his old one is worn out. Our children love art projects so they have gotten things like glue and tape and even construction paper before. They love this! It’s also helps our financial budget. We like to give our children educational gifts as well, like science books about animals, manipulatives they can play with, a microscope to view things, or a globe to learn about the world. Sometimes we give these gifts to an individual child, but often the educational gifts we give jointly to all the children to share. Another type of gift that we have considered, but not yet given, are less tangible items like a zoo membership, tickets to a museum or sporting event, or a state park pass.

Not only have we made these personal changes in our gift giving to our children, but when grandma and grandpa inquire about gift ideas, we make sure to request these types of gifts as well.

One thing we have done to help with the quantity issue after Christmas, is the “In one, out one” rule. If you are not familiar with this one, it means that when you receive “one” gift “in”, you take “one” item “out” and get rid of it. I usually do this with my children a week or so after Christmas or their birthdays.

We also encourage our children to give of their own stuff to others throughout the year. This takes a bit of effort on my part to find areas for them to give their stuff that it will be appreciated, but it is worth it. In addition to minimizing the quantity of toys that creep into their space, it helps them learn to be givers. Which is a lifelong character quality I want to instill in my children.

Merry Christmas!

 

Syndicate content