Sunday, August 26, 2007

All You Need is Love

I used to think I knew it all. When my children were little and my world was a little smaller, I definitely had some strong opinions about how "it" must be done. Parenting, that is; I was confident I knew the right methods. For instance, it was easy to get my two year old to play a "clean up" game with me while we sang and picked up his little basket of toys. This would lead me to think how simple it is to get kids to help around the house. When my little one year old would say "ta-oo" (thank you) when I handed him a cookie, I would proudly observe what a polite child I had raised, as if the job was done.

I have since had some time to reflect on the issue of parenting styles and methods. I have also observed my children exhibit less that helpful and polite behavior at times, and have seen friends with radically different parenting methods who have delightful children. Although, I do think there are some preferred ways of raising children, I no longer believe that there is only one way to do most things. I am definitely more open-minded and relaxed and less judgemental. I have observed that children are way more resilient than I believed them to be. I also have learned that there are some things that are critical to good parenting, and these things don't always translate easily into a formula, method or philosophy.

Beyond all the methods, the one thing that is paramount to parenting is love. Love of God, love of your husband and family, and love of each individual child. Love that seeks out the will of God and leads us to a life of prayer. Love that makes our husband's needs a priority and brings grace to his life. Love that compels us to serve our families with passion. Love that allows each child to feel the embrace of God. This love will give us the wisdom to make the appropriate parenting choices, and will help smooth over the rough spots. Love conquers all.

Peace, Hope

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Three Tips for Homeschooling

We are well into our second week of school for the new year, and my kids will tell you that it is really hard to crack open the books when the neighborhood kids are skating and biking down the sidewalks. However, we are taking a beach vacation in September, so it will be good to have an entire month of work done before we leave. It will be a well deserved break.

I was recently asked by a friend for some time to sit and talk about homeschooling. She wanted some advice. I came up with three things that have really worked for me in organizing our homeschooling effort that I thought I would share with you.

1. Incorporate some structure in your day. The amount of structure and the timing for things will look different in each family, but having a plan for when meals are, a time for naps, a period for school, work and play, and a time for getting up and getting to bed, are very helpful. A routine allows the children to understand that there is a time for everything. If the important things of the day follow a logical and anticipated routine, it cuts out a lot of nagging and arguing. The kids and I know what to do when and they know if they are responsible with their work they can enjoy their free time later.

2. Have your lessons written down in advance. I found that when the kids had to come to me for what to do next through the day, and I had to figure it out, it was just not working. Having the lessons written out ahead of time allows the children to see exactly what they need to accomplish before the school day is considered done. With their lesson planners, they have been able to learn how to budget their time, and plan ahead for big projects. I give them some flexibility, and the responsibility, for taking charge of their work. They have learned to be independent and self-motivated students.

3. Focus on the basics. The classic reading and writing, 'rithmatic and religion should form the foundation of your curriculum. If you do not have these subjects well established, then there is no use going off on elaborate unit studies in history and science, or anything else, that is unless the lessons incorporate a lot of reading and writing.

So, hopefully, some of these suggestions can inspire you to another successful year of homeschooling. If you are not homeschooling, may you and your children enjoy a good year. I still can't believe another summer has passed us by (almost!).

Peace, Hope

Here I Am!

I have been a bit absent from the blog lately as I have been carried away with real life. We had some travel and various time consuming events, we have started homeschooling up again, and I have survived my first trimester. So, as I attempt to get back into a regular routine again I can hopefully be posting more regularly. Talk to you soon!

Peace, Hope