life skills

Picky-Eater = Hungry Child

I love my children and so I will provide them with nutritious meals three times a day. Additionally I may choose to offer them a small afternoon snack of my choosing. They are individuals with individual likes and dislikes. I respect their individuality and allow them the choice to eat the food they have lovingly been given at the table with the family or choose to go hungry. That is their choice. I run a home not a restaurant and therefore I do not cater or offer menu choices. Whether they like the food being served today or not is inconsequential. Their choice to eat or go hungry remains the same. Some call them picky-eaters, I call them hungry children.

With that meal view in mind, these are the mealtime rules I have developed:

  • Come to the table when I call you.
  • Use your manners-Sit on your butt in your chair quietly until you have been excused.
  • Be polite-No fussing, whining, or complaining.
  • You must try one bite of each food. (You can not know if you like it or not until you have tried it. If you don't try it, I will save it for you to try at the next meal when you are hungrier.)
  • You may not have more until you have finished what is on your plate.

Special circumstances such as illness or allergies do arise in our household and are dealt with on an individual basis.

I believe it is our job as parents to teach our children to be polite members of society. This includes manners at mealtimes. Complaining about food at mealtime is not polite. It will not hurt the child to eat a food he does not like. In fact, I think it is good for him to learn that there are many things in life that we must do whether we like them or not.

What mealtime rules work well for you?

Kitchen Dating

I think home economics if an important skill. That’s one of the reasons I have one kid a day as my kitchen helper.

My kids usually love it when it is their turn to be my kitchen helper. It’s kind of like a date with Mama since they get to spend a little one on one (sorta) time with me. I invest this time into them because I love them. It’s also important for them to learn how to cook and learn how to help. As they grow older and learn more this will return as a blessing to me.

I have them assist me at their level. My two year old can dump stuff into the bowl or stir something. My four year old can make juice. My six year old can flip pancakes and crack eggs. My eight year old can make pancake batter and pizza among other things.

I believe that kitchen economics is an important skill to becoming an adult.

What have you taught your child about kitchen economics this week?

Introducing...

You may have noticed my lack of recent posts. Here is the reason why.

I tried to prepare for the time demands of a new baby ahead of time as much as I could. I stocked up my freezer with meals and tried to stay on top of bills and laundry and correcting schoolwork and such. When my son was actually born, I took two weeks off of school, with no pressure, to do anything other than survive. After that I started up our schoolwork again slowly (similar to how I we do it in the fall). I started up math and Language first and then when things started to settle into a routine, I added back in the other subjects one at a time as I could handle them.My youngest son was born on February 12th. We had some health challenges the first few weeks, but are now doing well.

In place of and later in addition to our regular schoolwork, I found this to be a great time to talk to my children about babies: how to care for them, how God created them, what makes our baby a boy, etc. I have to frequently remind myself that just because my children aren’t doing all their workbooks, doesn’t mean they aren’t learning. What is more important than learning life lessons about a new baby?

How do you prepare for the birth of a baby and manage life after the birth while homeschooling older children?

Grocery Shopping for Learning Opportunities II

Last article “Grocery Shopping for Learning Opportunities”, I wrote about the educational opportunities I encounter while grocery shopping with my children. This article is about the educational opportunities I create as I prepare for grocery shopping.

Grocery Store Preparation

Cut Coupons - I have my children cut coupons for me. When my preschoolers are first learning to cut with scissors, I have them practice with coupons that I don’t want. The straight dotted lines are a good place for them to start learning scissors skills. Once my children are able to cut reliably, then I have them cut out coupons that I intend to use. They get to practice their scissors skills, and participate in saving our family money. This activity is also great because it saves me time!

Make a List - Depending on the age and ability of the child, making a grocery shopping list can range from me writing a list for them to read off at the store, to them making a list of the ingredients we will need for the next week’s meal plan.

Meal Plan - I recently gave my seven year old son the assignment of making a meal plan for our family for the whole week. He had to design a plan that was balanced and fit into our budget. Then he had to make a list of the ingredients we would need. He helped me find the items at the store and made choices when there were some about which option to pick. He helped me prepare the meals for the entire week including planning ahead to take items out of the freezer as needed so they had time to thaw. This also works at younger ages on a smaller scale. For instance planning and helping with a single day or single meal instead of an entire week.

What educational opportunities have you encountered while preparing for grocery shopping? I’m sure there are many more in this area and I love to hear your suggestions.

Next article I will write about how I use our time for educational opportunities on the way to and from the grocery store.

Grocery Shopping for Learning Opportunities

The grocery store seems to be an endless opportunity for learning. It’s amazing that so many of my children’s learning opportunities are tied into the grocery store in some way. I realized that I spend almost an hour there every week with my children. It’s hard to be with my children for an hour and not teach them something. It’s just not natural for me. My oldest child is only seven years old, so I’m sure that the teaching opportunities have barely even begun to be tapped at the grocery store.

Here are some of the lessons we have done while grocery shopping and a few extra that I plan to do in the future. Most of them only take an extra minute or two while shopping. They are mostly  preschool or early elementary related. It seems that whatever stage my children are at, I can tie it into something while at the grocery store. Oh, the possibilities are endless!

Counting

I can have him count the items as I put them into the cart. He can count how many eggs are in a dozen. He can count how many yogurt cups we buy today. He can count how many bananas are in the bunch. He can count how many different types of grapes the store sells. He can count how many people he sees in the store.

Colors

I can have him look for a certain color of food. The produce department is my favorite area for this game.

Shapes

I can have him look for items that are a particular shape such as a cube or cylinder.

Letters

I can have him look for a particular letter on signs or labels. He can find items that beginning with a particular letter (again, the produce department is great for this). To take this a step further, during my Letter a Week kindergarten curriculum, I even let the child pick out an item that started with the letter of the week. I would then incorporate it into our meal plan for that week. My boys really loved this! I have to admit, I did too.

Reading

I can have him read signs, labels, or anything in the store. Sometimes I make a grocery list in advance for my son and have him check off the items as we put them into the cart or read the items to me that are left on the list. I’ll ask one of my sons to get me a specific item such as sharp cheddar cheese. He can’t just look at the picture then. He has to read to figure out which cheese is the sharp cheddar.

Writing

I can have him write the items that I buy on a list.

Money

I can have him write the cost of items I buy on a list. He can calculate the total bill. He can round each item to the nearest dollar. He can then estimate the total bill (this is my method of estimating my total bill each trip to make sure that I don’t go over budget). This is a great still for him to learn! I can pay with cash and have him figure out how much of each denomination is needed to pay the total or how much change I will get back.

Other Math

I can talk about and show him different units of measure such as 1 dozen eggs, 2 pounds of bananas, 1 gallon of water, 1 quart of milk, or 2 liters of pop.

He can compare and contrast items by type or size.

We can discuss metric versus English measurements such as liters versus quarts. He can find items that are sold by English or metric measurements.

He can find items that are sold by volume or weight or quantity.

He can estimate the weight of bananas or other produce that we buy.

Social Studies

Where we live, we often see people from different ethnicities and speaking different languages. I like to teach my children a little about where they come from, or what language they are speaking. If I know, I’ll maybe even teach them a few words from that language (I can at least say “Hello” in a few different languages).

History

This one pops up occasionally and unexpectedly for me. Sometimes I’ll see something that was common in the past, but not common now, such as glass bottles of pop. I’ll take that opportunity to discuss with my kids how things are different now than they used to be when I or our ancestors were children. I can discuss with them how glass bottles of pop were common for Grandma and Grandpa and how they used a bottle opener to open them.

Sometimes my kids will ask questions like why an item comes in a certain type of container such as baking soda in a can. I can discuss the history of how that came to be (though I often have to look things like this up).

I can teach him the history of certain foods. We once read a book about bananas. We learned how they came to the US and how many different varieties of bananas there are. It was fascinating! Did you know there are bananas that taste like ice cream?

Geography

I can have him look on food labels to see where different foods come from. He can look up that county on a map when he gets home or even learn about that country from an encyclopedia. He can look for foods from a particular country that he has learned about at home or heard about in the news lately.

Science

I can point out different produce that the store sells. If I don’t know what something is, I can learn by asking a produce department employee. We can maybe even try the new food.

I can discuss how different plants grow such as carrots are roots, apples are fruit of a tree, or celery is the stalk of the plant.

I can discuss what is the difference between yams and sweet potatoes. When my children are older, I can even have them research these things on their own and write reports on them.

What learning opportunities have you discovered at the grocery store?

Next time I will write about the educational opportunities I create as I prepare for grocery shopping.

To Tell or Not to Tell of Santa

When the first Christmas came around after my husband and I had children, we had to decide what our stance was going to be about teaching our children about Santa.

Santa is everywhere in our culture and it can be cute and fun to join in and pretend. It's tempting to just go along with it all and not do anything about it. We could have just not told our children about Santa and allowed them to make their own conclusions about the subject. Though this may be the easiest solution, I believe that in order to raise our children into Godly adults, we need to be more intentional in our parenting.

We were not going to “tell” our children that “Santa is real”, as we believe that this is a lie. We want our children to grow up to be Godly adults. We don’t want to sin nor do we want our children to sin. As their parents, we need to set the right example for them in this area. We also believe that lying to our children can cause confusion and a lack of trust. We want our children to be able to trust us whole-heartedly. In raising children up to be Godly adults, it's important that they don't have to question everything we've taught them. If we teach them that Santa, the tooth fairy, and the Easter bunny are real, why wouldn't they question whether Jesus is real when they learn about the fairy-tale status of the others? This approach sets them up for doubting Christianity. This is a dangerous road to head down and not one we were going to choose.

We decided that our stance would be to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We talk to them and read to them regularly about the birth of Jesus. We also knew that our children would inevitably be exposed to Santa, so we chose to teach them about the real “Santa”, St Nicholas. In addition, we choose to teach them about the fictional story of Santa, making it very clear that even though others may believe in Santa, he is not real. That being said, they also should not go around telling other kids that Santa is not real unless asked. It is not the job of a child to tell others how to think. Some people believe differently and we need to be respectful and polite of their choices even if they are foolish.

How are you choosing to handle the 'Santa' issue with 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 Miracle of Birth: Guppies and Purple Finches

Recently one of the female guppies in our fish tank gave birth to a school of fry (baby fish). Guppies are one of the few species of fish that give birth to live young instead of laying eggs. She started delivering during lunch (our fish tank is next to our dining room table), so we noticed right away. My children were able to watch the miracle of birth. I must admit that I was fascinated myself at how a fry can be born curled up and start swimming before it even completely unfolds after birth (a few seconds). 

A few days after our fish gave birth, I noticed a purple finch building a nest in a hanging flower basket on our front porch. I took the basket down once a day to show my children the progress-an empty nest on day 1, a nest with 1 egg on day 2, a nest with 2 eggs on day 3, and so on. When the hatchlings (newly hatched baby birds) started to hatch, I was amazed to see the changes in them daily!

My kids learned a lot about life in the real world. More than they could ever learn from a book. I was amazed at how much I learned from watching these two miracles of birth this spring. What a blessing from God for us to be able to witness both of these miracles of birth so close together!

We live in town, so we are not allowed to own many animals. One of the reasons that we have guppies, is for this very reason-so that our children get to witness the miracle of life in the real world. There is nothing that compares to witnessing this first hand. If your children haven’t seen the miracle of birth in some form in real life, I encourage you to find a way to give them this opportunity. Here are a few ideas of how to facilitate this:

  1. Get a pet that is capable of giving birth. This could be a cow or a dog or a mouse or a guppy fish. Taking care of an animal is also a great way for a child to learn responsibility.
  2. Build a habitat for an animal in your yard. It could be a bird house, or an area for a rabbit to make a nest. This could be a research project as well to determine what a particular animal likes to encourage it to build its nest where you want it too. 
  3. Cooperate with a friend that has animals. See if they will notify you when their animal is about to give birth. Even if it’s in the middle of the night, it could teach your children that birth is not something that we can control and sometimes isn’t convenient.
  4. If it doesn't conflict with your values, have your kids present when you give birth (if you’re still having kids). This is something I have not done as I have three boys and my daughter is just too young.

For those of you that have witnessed the miracle of birth with your children, how were you able to give them the opportunity? What is one thing they learned from it?

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

Weather Awareness Week

Severe Weather Awareness Week caught me a little off guard this year. I didn’t know that it was tornado safety day until I heard the sirens in the middle of nap time. Typically on this day each year I practice a tornado drill with my children and discuss other severe weather situations in detail with each child at his level. This year, three of my four children were sound asleep, so I decided to postpone our drill.


In our area, the civil defense sirens are tested monthly. Because of this, I discuss tornadoes with my children every time we hear the sirens being tested but only practice the drill on this day each year. I make sure to explain each time the difference between the test and a real warning. Since they don’t know the difference, they must always assume it is a real warning unless I tell them otherwise.

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