Quick and Dirty Tips from the Brain Trust

Quick and Dirty Tips from the Brain Trust

Hyacinth:

Dear Readers,

Remember last week’s post when we so passionately exhorted you to disallow fighting among the jerks who sprang from your womb (Bull’s choice term here; the other two BTers are personally offended by her calling of our precious babies “jerks.”)? Subsequently, at least one of us have had children who have engaged in an all-out brawl (okay, maybe it was just me). My fellow BTers thought you might want to know how I dealt with my little pugilist and his victim.

Normally, I can see the sibling storm a-brewin’, and as the BTers suggested last week, I take swift and certain action to diffuse it early. This brawl, however, was one of those pre-pubescent-outbursts-from-nowhere. My youngest, Phillip, age 8, didn’t comply with something his brother, Patrick, age 11, wanted him to do. The next thing I know, Patrick has punched him, and Phillip is wailing at the top of his outraged lungs.

(Side note: When I recounted this tale to my fellow BTers, Doodle and Snow empathized and strategized with me. Bull merely wanted to know how effective the punch was…….location, impact, etc. Thanks for your support, Bull.)

The consequence for this unbridled flood of testosterone? Bibliotherapy. Since he had a lapse in virtue, I thought he needed an example of heroic virtue, so I had him read a biography on St. Maximilian Kolbe, a priest who gave his life in Auschwitz so a father might live. He also had to write a paper on St. Kolbe’s life and how he inspired Patrick to be a better man. An unplanned consequence was that our little victim had a couple of sweet offers that the pugilist had to skip because he hadn’t finished his paper. Divine justice…..gotta love it!. I swear I looked empathetic, though.

Hope this airing of my dirty laundry helps you to feel better about yours!

Peace be with you,
Hyacinth

Bull:

Dear Readers,

I am offering a response to Hy’s post from yesterday….

In my defense, I offered our more sensitive readers the synonym “sinners” to replace the perfectly good noun “jerks” if they preferred. And my inquiry into the details of the alleged “punch,” was nothing more than good detective work. The details matter, people!

Let’s say the future prizefighter executed a sucker punch. Oh my! Just typing the words “sucker punch” causes a chill to resonate down my spine. I mean, that’s dirty. The “precious baby” possesses some serious skills. Something you just can’t teach in a kid. But, that’s another post. In Bull’s Book of Parental Punishments, the consequence for such a filthy assault is not even in the same chapter as a punch the recipient knew was coming. I mean, a punch thrown in the heat of anger, preceded by a primal war whoop to alert the victim of impending danger, is still wrong of course and yet different. It perhaps merits a 3-paragraph essay, while the former warrants an essay the size and scale of a doctoral thesis.

Now, as to location, I was merely trying to visualize the scene… take it all in, if you will, so that I could empathize with my pal, Hy. I’m just not one to rush to judgment, folks. I like to have all the facts before dishing out the just desserts. The possibility that I might have been slightly entertained by such a visualization is irrelevant — I can’t successfully strategize without all the gory details.

For what it’s worth, I like the creativity of Hy’s imposed sentence. Not only was it punitive, but edifying. Good work, comrade!

Bull

Doodle:

Bull, you have reminded of something super important!

We offend each other. And we do it often.

My children offend each other every day. I don’t believe they wake up each morning and premeditate, “I am going to do my best to offend my siblings.” But offense, by golly, just happens. They live together, share bathrooms, bedrooms and parents. One of my “munchkins” (I can’t bring myself to call them jerks) look for that last piece of cake only to find that his brother has already helped himself. A borrowed item was broken or lost. An older brother puts his younger brother (I won’t mention names) into a headlock in which a rolling and tossing of tangled bodies ensues and it’s all fun until someone gets hurt. You get the picture, offense is an everyday occurrence when you live with people.

My husband and I spend much of our parenting training our children how to get along with each other. First of all, we remind them that “being friends with their siblings” is the expectation, not the exception! Do they always get it? Nope. Frustrating? Yes! Tiring? Of course! But as the parent, we use these moments as opportunities to teach and train them in an invaluable life skill: forgiveness.

These “munchkins” were given to me for a reason. We make it our goal is to teach them to be humble, forgiving and loving. Imagine with me for a moment: what would the world look like if we all did so? Could this help their future relationships at work? What about their marriages? Could this one conscious act of parenting make the world a sweeter place? I think so! So let’s get started…

The simplest place to begin is to teach forgiveness to our kids when they are young, but don’t worry, it is never too late. I concentrate on helping my kids recognize and then admitting when they have done something wrong to their siblings. Simple, yes, but it is not always easy to admit our faults, especially to each other, is it? And what happens when they’ve been wronged? We walk them through the steps on how to be a forgiver. Asking forgiveness and then forgiving is a sign of a healthy individual.

We must model it for them, not only by our instruction, but even more importantly by our actions. Here is a typical scene from our family:

Graham (age 6): “Elliot, forgive me for punching you.. I was wrong, will you forgive me?”

Elliot (age 4): “Gammy, I ‘give you.”

We then have them seal it with a prayer and they give each other a hug (or a kiss on the elbow or rubbing noses…you get the picture). Then it is done. It doesn’t take long before they are really good and practiced at asking forgiveness, and also being the forgiver.

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.

Love,
Dood

Looking for more answers????

My children fight from sun up to sun down and it’s driving me crazy! Help!!

What advice can you give a new homeschooling mom to help me navigate this first intimidating year?

In the world we live in today, how do I teach my kids to be responsible human beings?

Siblings Fighting

Siblings Fighting

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

My children fight from sun up to sun down and it’s driving me crazy! Help!!

~ Losing it in Louisville


 

Hyacinth:

Dear Losing (not to be confused with “loser”!),

I’m going to sound pretty harsh here, but don’t put up with it. This is a problem you’ve simply got to commit to solving. Find a parenting book that addresses the issue, and make this issue a priority. For me, one of the surprise blessings of homeschooling is the relationship my kids have built with one another, but that’s not accidental. We place a high value on kindness, and when there’s a slip (and there frequently are!), I don’t ignore it. I think some parents think that fighting among siblings is inevitable, but I strongly disagree. Kids must be taught kindness, forgiveness, and negotiating skills. These are the most powerful, life-changing lessons we can teach during the natural course of the day, so embrace the opportunity (okay, maybe that’s a little naive……should I say, “embrace the horror”?). You can do it!

Dear Brain Trust readers, can you help Losing in Louisville with a recommendation for a book that addresses the issue of fighting siblings?
Or some tips of your own?

Peace be with you,
Hyacinth

Doodle:

Dear (Not) Losing it,

You’re in good company! This problem of sibling “fighting” can be traced back to the beginning with Cain and Abel. That doesn’t give us much hope that we will be exempt, does it? But I do believe we can hope for better. Hy is right, we must be aggressive and ready to deal! The tools you give your children to handle conflict with their siblings will be one of the greatest gifts you give them! We must put on our big “girl/boy” pants to face these issues!

I have four sons and one daughter. The competition, the wrestling, the one-liners and the sheer physical presence of that much testosterone is amazing. So, each morning I put on my game face. Yep, I am like a hawk waiting for their first move, and it doesn’t take long before one of my lovelies is throwing out “signs” that a conflict is brewing.

So this is how it works in our home: I watch for attitudes. A glare. A snarled lip. A comment that slights. A huffy response. These all reveal positions of the heart. An attitude, or a thought, gives way to action. I spend much of my energy and effort training attitudes. I find that if my work thwarts a sour or grumpy attitude, many times that will curb the inevitable, full-blown fight. Yep. I am attitude-buster. I don’t wait for the fight. Here is a scripture that fortifies my position from Proverbs 17:14, “The start of a quarrel is like a leak in a dam, so stop it before it bursts.”

So, my recommendation is to look for the “start” of a quarrel and let training begin there. Teach forgiveness and how to turn a cheek. Train your children on how to serve the brother and sister when they don’t feel like it. Give them examples through scriptures, as well as personal and historical examples to fortify their hearts. Love always wins. Getting along with people is not an easy business, but this gift you are giving your children will live long past their time in your home.

Love,

Dood (not sporting a “tude”)

Bull:

Dear Losin’ It,

What a predicament for the ages! And one that is cramping my style at the moment as well. The bad news is: I don’t think there is an answer. Egads! Not what you hoped to hear from an advice guru, I know…. but I’d rather give bad advice than flat out lie. As Dood pointed out, sibling warfare isn’t a particularly recent phenomenon. And I’m afraid we could spend years trying to unearth the deeply rooted psychological reasons for the chronic bickering between siblings only to be left with yet another fire to extinguish.

So let’s deal with this head on: kids can be jerks. They can be jerks for no good reason. And they can refuse to express an ounce of remorse for it to boot. Why? Because they’re jerks — someone isn’t paying attention here. If you prefer church lady lingo, simply replace jerks with sinners and proceed. I’m going out on a limb here, but adults think the same thing kids do. The guy who pulled out in front of you in traffic is a “cutter.” The friend who didn’t invite you to her cook-out is a meanie doo doo head. The scarf you gave Aunt Edna is a tag, you’re it, no tag backs gift. The difference between us and them is “socialization.” We know better. We were taught better. And on our good days, we behave better. How, exactly, you teach your children to behave better is entirely up to you so long as it doesn’t involve child authorities. Every household employs different techniques. Maybe you make the juvenile offenders do hard labor in the vegetable garden. Or perhaps they give each other simultaneous foot rubs until they display a suitable degree of remorse and swear on their no-good honor to abstain from further squabbles. Use your imagination — you’re the parent for crying out loud. I personally try to enforce consequences that will keep my children’s future therapists entertained for hours. But I’m sure you’re a more civilized meanie doo doo head than me.

Bull

Snow:
Dear Losing it,

Bull makes me laugh! What she says is funny, but oh so true! Our children are miniature versions of us who lack refinement.

My girls fight everyday. Mostly, the oldest corrects the youngest… the youngest pesters the oldest… the oldest corrects the youngest… the youngest pesters the oldest. You get the picture. It is a vicious cycle. It is easy for me to be one of two extremes: hypersensitive to it, or completely ignore it. To be quite honest, this is an area where my consistency lacks!

When I am on my “A” game, these are some things I have found to be effective:

  • Stop it as soon as it starts
  • Point out the environment they are creating in our home. I often ask them how they would feel if their daddy & I spoke to each other that way? They always say it would stress them out… and that’s the point! It stresses people out, so take that into consideration!
  • Make them stop and serve one another… When they do that, their attitude is always terrible to begin with, but then it turns around. I typically have them clean each others’ rooms.
  • A year or so ago, we used a thankfulness notebook. Anytime there was hatefulness happening, they would have to write something in their notebook about their sister that they liked, but it couldn’t be superficial. It had to be a character trait or a gift they saw in the other. It was hard but good!

I think siblings fight in order to learn how to get along. Wish it was easier on us as parents, but I have hope that eventually it will bring about peaceful and loving relationships for them!

Grace & Peace,
Snow
Image courtesy of Amy Teague Photography, www.happilysituated.com

Looking for more answers????

What advice can you give a new homeschooling mom to help me navigate this first intimidating year?

In the world we live in today, how do I teach my kids to be responsible human beings?

I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

Advice for Newbie

Advice for Newbie

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

I’ve decided to take the plunge – now what? What advice can you give a new homeschooling mom to help me navigate this first intimidating year?

With fear and trembling,
Intimidated in Indiana


 

Doodle:

Dear Newbie,

My encouragement when you first start homeschooling is to make a list of goals. What do you want to accomplish your first year of homeschooling? Educationally? Responsibility-wise? Character-wise? I tend to be over-zealous and want to do it all. A girl can dream, can’t she? But, this is where I get in trouble and get exasperated if my ideals are too lofty.

Second, keep your first year simple. Get your core subjects worked out: math, english, history, science and reading. Most of us try and do it all in the first year. We don’t know where to stop, and this can quickly wear out a homeschool parent. Go simple. For your first year, use a tried-and-true curriculum; no need to try to invent a curriculum!

Third, attach yourself to some experienced homeschool moms. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and lots of them. There is a plethora of resources available, so don’t get overwhelmed, but do your research. Learn homeschooling philosophies, and read, read, read.

Fourth, relax! Please know that it takes time to hit your homeschool stride. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor will your child be completely educated in a year. Education is a life-time process, and fostering a love of learning is the goal, and that love will develop over time .

Love,
Dood

Hyacinth:

Dear Intimidated,

I believe there are two main goals for the first year: 1.) Establishing your authority and the discipline that accompanies that. 2.) Helping your kids “buy in” to the idea of homeschooling. It’s a tricky balance, to say the least. Some moms tend to think that if they make homeschooling a boatload of fun, then their kids will love homeschooling, and they’ll be all set. Unfortunately, though, some moms equate “fun” with “undisciplined,” and that’s a recipe for future heartache. Your kids must obey you when it comes to doing their work, otherwise the schoolroom will become a battleground, and at some point, you won’t be able to withstand it.

Obviously, your kids will be doing some subjects that are challenging and require discipline, and they may complain that it’s not “fun.” Keep doing it. Daily. Don’t allow complaints. But, also work in daily at least one activity that helps you connect with each other, preferably something that they wouldn’t be doing in “regular” school. For us, that activity is a read-aloud; we love to snuggle in with each other and read a great book! Some artsy families do art projects; some families play with Legos; some play outdoor games. Just find something that you all enjoy – it will nourish your souls!

Peace be with you,
Hyacinth

Snow:

Dear Intimidated,

I look back and chuckle at my first year. I was a deer in headlights! AND we survived! I honestly had NO IDEA what I was doing, but I learned. I spent the year pushing through a curriculum I wasn’t crazy about and learning what I did like. I talked to other parents on the same journey who were a few steps ahead of me and picked their brains. I visited their homes to look at their school space and check out different curriculum. I read books about education and learned about things that I thought were only meant for professional educators. It was a year of learning, inspiration, and perseverance.

Give yourself some room the first year. There will be things you don’t like. There will be lessons to learn about how much to commit to and what curriculum makes you want to pull out your hair. There will be moments of discouragement and moments of great triumph!

My one fail-safe piece of advice is to make sure you have a community of other families around you for support. We were created to thrive in community. Community offers you encouragement, accountability, and refinement. I adore my children, but I’m pretty sure if they only had me and I only had them day in and day out, we would all get pretty bored!

Grace & Peace,
Snow

Bull:

Intimidated:

I’m with Hyacinth: establish your authority! Your children know you as their parent, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to respect for you as their teacher. Your first order of business is to establish your expectations and instill the discipline of a daily routine. While it doesn’t take long to develop these goals and an accompanying game plan on paper, it’s likely to take a wee bit longer to implement the system. Let me remind you that those angels you will soon call students are not your ally. The moment you expect math facts over nature study they will turn on you like a loaf of unpreserved bread. So, set your rules and consistently enforce them — everyone will benefit!

Bull

Looking for more answers????

In the world we live in today, how do I teach my kids to be responsible human beings?

I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

My kids are close in age and I have a million of them. Am I setting myself up for failure to try and homeschool?

I have kids far apart, how do I teach them all?

Responsibility

Responsibility

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

In the world we live in today, how do I teach my kids to be responsible human beings?

Love,

Concerned


 

Bull:

Dear Concerned,

First, we model it. Get up at the same time every morning. Brush your teeth, face and hair. Require your children to do the same. Set a time for breakfast and keep it. Go about your daily life demonstrating the qualities of a responsible human being and when your kids ask , “Why?” which they will, because God wouldn’t have given me the only children to incessantly ask, “Why mommy, why?” you tell them, “We brush our teeth so our pretty , little teeth don’t fall out of our heads and we eat breakfast so we grow big and strong, etc. Second, we give it. Scary, I know,but we give our children things, tasks, and so forth in increasing importance and we allow them plenty of space to flub it up when it doesn’t really matter so that when it does, they will be less likely to do so. Practice. Lots of it. Requires patience. Pray for patience.

Bull

Snow:

Dear Concerned,

My husband and I have worked in youth-related jobs for forever… Therefore, this is one of my “soap box” issues! One of the things we saw increasingly frequently was the removal of natural consequences – parents bailing out their kids or making excuses for every little thing…..kids never owning up to their mistakes and developing a sense of entitlement that was unrealistic and selfish. With that said, one thing you can commit yourself to is not standing in the way of the natural consequences that follow your children’s mistakes. Just today, my daughter forgot something that she was required to bring to her dance class. Normally, I would let her just deal with it, but this time it affected someone else. I drove home to get it and then delivered it to her. However, she owes me for the gas money it took to make that extra trip! This has happened one other time… Both times have stood as a great lesson in responsibility. Life is full of consequences. Responsibility is the opposite of entitlement! Training our children to be responsible is a counter-cultural move that takes focus and resolve, but our kids will be so much better for it!

Grace & Peace,
Snow

Doodle:

Dear Concerned,

I think we need to be concerned. Snow and Bull are right: teaching responsibility might soon be a lost art. I wonder if one of the biggest issues today is that we want our kids to “like” us. I think we are a bit misguided when we think that being friends with our children is the goal. While I do hope that I will have a friendship with my children, especially as adults, it is not my immediate goal. If I am their friend, who is the parent? It’s interesting that the Bible says that “He disciplines those He loves.” We don’t want our children to suffer. So guess what? We don’t let them. It’s like playing the guitar. When you first start playing, your fingers are soft and squishy. But the more you work through the pain of pressing on the steel strings the tougher your fingertips get, and you begin to develop callouses that enable you to withstand the pain of something that previously hurt. Discipline is that way. Responsibility is something that we teach and instruct and continue to develop. It can be painful to redo chores and take responsibility for our mistakes. Doing a good job and being faithful in a task takes time, instruction, and accountability. The buck stops with the parent. The pain of discipline and training is momentary, but produces a lifetime of a fruitful and productive life.

Concerned, you can do it!

Dood

Hyacinth:

Dear Concerned,

Escaping the Endless Adolescence is a recent book which describes a phenomenon going on in our culture where 25 (years old) is the new 15. The authors call this a “failure to launch,” where adolescents simply can’t make the transition to adulthood. I know that a homeschooling blog might be the wrong venue for my advice, but here goes: I think we may be too available for our kids. Even when we let them leave the house, we are always just a phone call away to help them solve their every problem. The authors of the above book hypothesize (and prove, I believe) that we are actually thwarting and subverting their ability to think when we don’t allow them to struggle through difficult decision and even (horrors) fail. I think my Brain Trust buddies are right – suffering and consequences are natural and right. Let the suffering begin!

Peace be with you (as you suffer),
Hyacinth

Looking for more answers????

I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

My kids are close in age and I have a million of them. Am I setting myself up for failure to try and homeschool?

Burnout

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

I have home-schooled forever and I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

Love,
Embers


 

Bull:

pothole
Embers,

I haven’t home-schooled quite as long as you have, but I am very familiar with burn-out. In fact, burn-out is a well-established part of my personality. I’ve been accused of having two speeds: full speed ahead and burned-out. God knows this about me too, of course, which is why He directed me to Susan Wise Bauer’s book The Well Trained Mind when I was first toying with the idea of home-schooling. Somewhere in the pages of this masterpiece, the author said, “If you don’t want to quit at least 3 times per year, you’re not trying hard enough.” It made sense to me so I wasn’t surprised when the feeling came. I expected it. The term “burn-out” has all-too-often become a justification for quitting a difficult task. Don’t let it trick you into giving up on something you shouldn’t. You’re traveling a difficult path. There will be potholes, some of which feel more like craters. So take a breather… refuel your tank, then get back to work.

Bull

Snow:

Dear Embers,

Is 5 years forever? Feels like it:-) I hit burn-out every February. Like clockwork. Boom! It hits, and I need spring break several weeks ahead of schedule! If your burn-out is more than the fleeting, regularly-scheduled kind, my best suggestion to you is to change up your routine if possible. If you work on a two semester schedule, change to a trimester schedule. Switch your daily schedule around. Take a couple days off and read a good book. I’d say take a couple days off, but when I tell my kids we have a day off school, I end up with more work… so that isn’t actually something I regularly practice! If you can remember and grab a hold of the joy you had when you started your journey, maybe you can notice some of the pay-off of this long time investment and feel re-inspired!

Grace & Peace,
Snow

Hyacinth:

Dear Embers,

Sometimes, when I long for a different life (one filled with lunches with friends, pedicures, and shopping trips – ha!), I slap myself around a little bit and project myself into the life of a career woman. Generally, I wouldn’t trade even my burned-out life with the stress of trying to juggle the demands of a career with the pull of motherhood. I don’t know how those career women do it, and they remind me that even though I might feel burned out, I at least have the luxury of focusing entirely on the children God entrusted me with.

Sometimes, though, I still can’t convince myself that homeschooling is the above-mentioned “luxury.” That’s when I start playing the faith card with myself :) . I remind myself that this call to homeschool is not just another one of my optional ideas, but a serious call from God, not to be ignored. When that doesn’t work, and I’m really feeling sorry for myself, I play the ultimate trump card and hold my piddly little sacrifice of homeschooling up to the Lord’s sacrifice and say to myself, “Hy, do you think Jesus really wanted to die on that cross? Buck up and suck up!”

Hope this helps, Embers. We have all felt the “glow” of burnout, and it isn’t rosy!

Peace be with you,
Hyacinth

Doodle:

Dearest Embers,

Great advice BT! Homeschooling is not a sprint but a marathon. The strategies for each of those races are completely different. I just finished my 15th year of homeschooling, and I can’t believe I am still here! Here are a couple of pointers that have given me stamina and helped me pace myself in this homeschool track:

1. Keep pure motives: Burn out for me comes when I am pursuing selfish ambitions. I know that sounds crazy, but I get bored pretty quickly when it’s only about me and mine. There is nothing like finding some people to help serve to get my heart pumping with life again and renew my energy to homeschool. So make your homeschooling about something bigger than just you and your family.

2. Run unencumbered: I watch for those activities that distract or wear me down. Strive for those things that breathe life and keep guard for those activities that deplete. A walk in the park, a bike ride around the block or breakfast on the patio can do wonders for a soul.

3. Keep your eyes on the prize: What kind of human beings do you want to send into the world? What virtues do I want them to have? With the cultural issues of today, I go back in history and look at the attributes of those who changed the world. It takes work to keep great ideas and thoughts within your sights and in your heart. Remind yourself of what is really important and stay focused on that. Nothing like a good dose of vision to keep my nose pointed in the right direction and wind in my sail.

4. Find like-minded friends: Sometimes I need a soft place to land and other times I need a kick in the “rear-end.” Like-minded, friends make the world go round and are a large reason why I am still here. The road of homeschooling does not need to be lonely. Work to be that friend to others and your friends won’t let you quit.

Embers, don’t give up! One day you’ll find yourself jogging over that finish line. You’ll be so amazed at God’s provision for your race and the prize that awaits you!

Love,
Dood

Burnout- Bull

Burnout – Snow

Burnout – Hyacinth

Burnout – Doodle

Close in Age

Close in Age

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

My kids are close in age and I have a million of them. Am I setting myself up for failure to try and homeschool?

Love,
Dubious in Denver


 

Snow:
Dear Dubious,

I cannot speak from experience on this one. I only have 2 kids plus one on the way, and they are fairly far apart in age… What I can say is that I see families doing it and doing it well! These families have a common thread running through them… They have a vision for homeschooling! They have a plan and a purpose. They have committed themselves and their family to something that they believe in 100%. I greatly admire each of them!

Grace & Peace,
Snow

Hyacinth:

Dear Dubious,
This is a common situation with homeschooling families, so you’re not alone. As I mentioned in last week’s post, our own school experience can paralyze us a bit. We need to hearken back to the one-room schoolhouse, which none of us know about except through Little House on the Prairie. Here are a few ideas of how it works:

Grammar – we do a lot of dictation of sentences, and we start with a basic subject/verb sentence. My second grader can identify and/or diagram the basic parts of speech, and my fifth grade student adds clauses and modifiers and diagrams them. This also can serve as a handwriting exercise with the older students using cursive while the younger students print.

History – We like the Story of the World series, and I’ll read the narrative aloud to all the children, and the younger students can answer the most basic comprehension questions; the older students answer more in-depth questions. The older students can write a summary; the younger students can draw a picture and write a simple caption to summarize. I try to find
books at their level to correlate with the history we’re studying.

Science – all students can participate in a science experiment, and the older students can write up lab reports and research the scientific principles of the experiment. Younger students can dictate their results to their mom, and she can write down their findings, and they could even use this for copy work.

Dubious, you can do this!

Peace be with you,
Hyacinth

Doodle:

Dearest Dubious,

I think the most overwhelming aspect of homeschooling is looking at the range the educational needs in your own home and wondering how you, the parent, can possibly serve each of your child’s specific needs. Part of the problem for me is that I am looking at modern education and using that as my model. While there are some great advancements made in education, parents have been educating their children since the beginning of time and the modern segregation by grades is a fairly new idea. Actually, it was birthed from the desire to bring education to the masses. Think: small “mom and pops” business to “corporation.” While more and more people grew in their desire to have their children educated, the sheer population of those needing education grew, which created the problem of “how to educate the masses.” Even though this was good problem to face, it does not mean that the old “style” of home education or the “one room school house” was a broken one. It just was not serving the masses, thus the breakdown of education by age.

I have five kids, but I have friends who homeschool with their 10 or 12 kids. Teaching a range of kids takes some creativity and patience. But, I actually feel that home education is more of an organic and natural approach to education. Our little “homeschool” gives my older children a chance to be reviewed on subject matter that may appear “beneath” them, but it offers them reinforcement on core elements that have become familiar, yet are essentials. My younger children overhear discussions on subjects that have not yet been introduced, but it provides them a beginning vocabulary that will eventually give way to understanding. My younger children are often reviewed by my older and sometimes my younger children review my older with vocabulary flashcards. So there is this natural flow of introduction, repetition and review.

I like to think of it this way: I can run my family through McDonalds or I can spend a little extra time, energy and focus to make them a home-cooked meal. While there is a valid need for a McDonalds style education in our fast paced world, I have chosen a home-catered education that is full of life-giving substance that gives way to a long-satisfying healthy education.

Love,
Dood

Bull:

Dubious,

I don’t think I can say it any better than Dood, so I’ll just summarize her key points in Bull lingo:

1) Don’t compare apples to oranges. Your school will be different than the factory model. It will look and function differently. And that’s good, because I doubt your true goal is to recreate the public school system at home. So, I think the first thing you need to do is determine, “What are your goals?”

2) Then, establish a routine and stick with it. With a little forethought and preparation, productivity abounds. Without it, days can be lost to good intentions. In the early stages of home-schooling, it’s easy to get excited about the possibilities: uber-smart, obedient children, well-disciplined teens brimming with maturity, and young adults filled with the character to choose wisely. All of these accomplishments are possible, but not without a lot of hard work on your part. Your part comes first, so focus on it first.

3) Recognize and accept that there are sacrifices. We’ve talked about this before, but you can’t maintain a model showroom home, cook every meal from scratch, linger over long lunches with friends, indulge in weekly mani-pedi’s AND oversee a high functioning home-school. Educating your children is a job and should be treated as such. You wouldn’t keep any job for long that you only attended to occasionally. Give it your best — it’s a deserving profession.

I hope you’ll choose home-cooked over McDonald’s. I’m certain you can and that it will be the most satisfying “meal” you’ll ever choose. Bon appetit!

Bull

Spacing

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

I have kids far apart, how do I teach them all?

Love,
Confused in Cleveland


 

Bull:
Dear Confused,

Three things instantly come to mind: develop an efficient schedule, treat it like the Holy Grail, and give those kids jobs. As for your schedule, put the most important subjects at the top of the list. What are the most important subjects? Heck, I don’t know – that’s your call! If you want me to start bossing you around, which is something I usually reserve for my closest pals, I’m going to have to charge something. So, let’s get back to the free stuff. When you’ve developed a schedule that works for you, stick to it. You don’t have time to waste, so don’t waste any! Stay off the phone, the computer, the TV, and allow your wisely-devised schedule to work for you. Then, give your kids a job. Your olders can certainly lend a hand with grunt work. Have them check the youngers’ math facts, administer spelling tests, listen to read-alouds. The thought of passing the buck on read-alouds make me g-g-g-g-giddy! ;)

Bull

Snow:

Dear Confused in Cleveland,

Take Bull’s advice! Schedule, jobs, pass the buck… Sounds like a plan!
Spacing Day 2

My girls are 5 grades apart but we do more together than you would think. Anything that is on audio, we listen to together, mostly because we do that in the car, and they are trapped like mice! I have them read to each other, too. I have a schedule where I get one started with something and send them on their way. Then, I get the next one started on a subject. I juggle having them work on the things they can do independently while the other is doing the subject they need me to teach. I alternate back and forth. If I had more than 2 kids, I imagine it would work similarly. The older they get, the more I see them being independent for longer amounts of time. This all helps with my one goal in life: an uninterrupted shower!.

Grace & Peace,
Snow

Hyacinth:

Dear Confused,

Fear not! I suspect you are picturing yourself as if you are a classroom teacher, so the task seems physically, mentally, and hormonally impossible. Remember, homeschooling is a different animal – you aren’t delivering lectures all day. Ideally, homeschool students become independent learners; you’ll get your student started, but you should expect him to complete his work with minimal intervention (over time).

One of my friends with six children spends a good deal of time helping her kids to become early readers, then when they are in the older elementary years, they can soar independently. They are immersed in great books, and probably because of this, they are all wonderfully creative and accomplished. Many people find that their oldest child has a way of snagging all of mom’s time, but my friend makes sure she pours the most time into those early readers so they can work independently later.

Peace be with you,
Hyacinth