Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kids Who Love to Read

I found Connor in Caileigh's room - which cracked me up.

Book Basket outside the kids rooms.

"What, Mom? I'm busy reading?"

Isn't he the cutest? Collin playing a game based on a book he had read.

Getting back to her exciting book.

I read this article and found it really disconcerting (click on the title of the blog for a link). The thought that we need to allow and indeed, encourage our kids to read books that are purposefully rude, gross and/or inappropriate to get them to read is appalling. There are so many great books and stories to read that it seems criminal to allow the horrible ones. We have three children who love to read and we don't stoop to this level of degradation. We should encourage our children to read that which is encouraging, worthwhile and well written. I firmly believe the adage that 'you are what you read", for what you read goes into your head and then moves to your heart. We want our children's heart to be filled with good not evil. Following you will find a list of things that we have done to encourage our kids to be readers.
1. Read, read, read! Read to your children from the time they are small until they are out of your home. My dad continued to read to us until we grown and even then. Read great books like all the Little House books, the Chronicles of Narnia, Anne of Green Gables or Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. I remember getting in trouble for trying to read ahead, Dad always seemed to stop at the really good parts.
2. Limit screen time - computer, t.v. and video game. They will find something to do and hopefully books will be a part of that!
3. Have books available for them to read. I have bookshelves in almost every room of our home. If they want to read, I have books available. We also borrow around 50 books every two weeks and have "book baskets" filled with library books on every level of our home.
4. Make a mandatory quiet time each day and before bed in which they read or listen to books.
5. Make books a reward. My kids get books as presents, rewards for a job well done and sometimes we just go buy some books for fun.
Remember to read every book your child read before they read them especially as they get into chapter books. Make sure you know what they reading. I pre-read all of my kids books and then if there is anything questionable , I either take it away or use it as discernment training. I will have the kids read a chapter of the book and then we discuss the elements of the books, what the Bible says about those things and how we could choose better in our lives and perhaps why the author choose to use that element in the story.
There are a number of really great books of books lists that are available. I like "Honey for a Child's Heart" by Gladys Hunt. I have many books about great books to read. I also love "The Well-Educated Mind" by Susan Wise Bauer for teens and adults.
After I read the above article, I went on a search for my children and these pictures are what I found. I was pretty happy.


Capable and Responsible Kids

I don't have much time but I saw this article (click on the title Capable and Responsible Kids to view article) and thought how true this was. When I mention to people how my kids (12,9 &9) can do all their laundry from beginning to end, make themselves a balanced meal, clean a bathroom and many other things they do each day, I either find people are shocked or are apalled. Is it child abuse? Is it child slave labor? Is it mean and uncaring? I don't think so. Kids need to be responsible. They need to know these things - boys and girls. They should know how to change a tire, maintain a home, mow the lawn, make a bank deposit, make a grocery list and balance their budget.

We do our children a great disservice if we fail to teach them these things. Someday, they will be out on their own and the more capable they are now, the easier it will be then. Our parents and grandparents had the right idea. Read "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder and compare your kids to the capable Wilder's. You might be shocked in comparision. Read it to your kids and explain how capable the Wilder's were and how capable your kids are as well.

When they are little, teach them to pick up their toys, straighten up their room, and put their clothes in a hamper. By 3 and 4 teach them to wipe off a counter top (I like clorox wipes) and put all the shoes in their place. Daily chores are a good thing. "What Every Child Should Know Along the Way" is a great book with lists of chores and activities per age group. I have used this since my kids were little. It's a great resource and can be found at http://www.gfi.org/ under the GFI store. We don't have all of these things down but we have a good portion of them done.

Let's not raise imcompetent kids. We won't be preparing them well for whatever God has for them.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Responsible Words

This week at church our family learned that we need to be responsible with our words. We have a "family church" experience called Rush Hour, "Where kids bring their parents to learn", which introduces the topic that the elementary kids are going to delve into deeper during their Sunday School classes. What Rush Hour does is to involve the parents in what the kids are learning and gives both parents and kids a common Biblical lesson to work on through out the week. We, as parents, have the responsiblity to teach our children about God as clearly stated in Duet 6:6-7 ,

" These commandments that I give you to you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down and you get up."

Rush Hour often gives us a starting place, which we love and often reinforces what they have heard at home. Anyway, this week's message was that we are to be responsible with our words which reminded me of a lesson I did when my kids were younger.

When my kids were younger I had them memorize this verse from Proverbs 16:24,

" Pleasant words are like honey comb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."

I talked to them about what pleasant words were and how they also talk about how we say things, with respect and kindness. I then had them try a honey stick and we talked about how sweet those words are and how when we use pleasant words it leaves a sweet taste in their mouth as well as how healing they are to others. I promised that I would be paying attention to their words (including no whining and complaining) and would give them a honey stick ( or m&ms or whatever sweet thing you choose) when I caught them using sweet words.

On the other hand, the Bible says in Ephesians 4:29,

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth."

I equated unwholesome talk with the the taste of apple cider vinegar (or molasses or bitter herbs - whatever the child dislikes) and had them taste it. Unwholesome talk being whatever is mean or unkind, disrepectful, whining or complaining and doesn't build up or heal. I also promised them that I would be listening for any unwholesome talk and that they would get the vinegar if I caught them speaking vinegar words.

I paid extra special attention to the kids talk for the next week or so, leaving the honey and vinegar in plain sight as a reminder that they could choose what kind of words ( and food) they used. I still will ask my kids if they are using honey words or vinegar words and if they are healing or hurting others with their tones or their words.

It's important that we, as parents, also are very careful with the words and tones we are using in our everyday lives. We will be held accountable just as we hold our kids accountable.


I wrote this a couple of years ago but as my kids are heading into the teen years, I am realizing how important this training is in the early years. Now, I can just ask them are those honey words or tones or are they vineagar tones and words. It is a quick reminder for my kids to get a hold of their tongue quickly.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Homeschool Fun

Making a worm habitat.

Mapping the neighborhood to show how maps are made.

Candy clay map.

Coloring paper dolls from around the world - showing that God loves the whole world.

Documenting the back yard habitat.

It's important to have fun in school. It makes such great memories and sometimes they are learning while having fun. I love MFW for that very reason - they schedule fun into the curriculum. I love that - scheduled fun while learning. Does it get any better than that? I don't think so. Oh, to make it more palatable to our teacher sensibilities, technically, it's hands-on activities - not fun.

I may change the scheduled fun activity a bit or tweak it, but because it's scheduled in, I feel compelled to follow the TM and make time for it even if the floor needs washed or laundry folded. Sometimes, I need the reminder to do something fun and that kids often learn more from the fun activities ( ummm, hands-on activities) than from when I am reading to them or are having them narrate ( shocking, I know!).

My kids have played, I mean worked, for hours now with some candy clay I made to make globes and maps of the 7 continents and an accurate map of the street. I have planned dinner, made muffins, called a friend and am now wasting time on the computer. We love learning.

If you are home schooling , or even if you are not, mix learning with fun, you'll be amazed at the results.


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

"Let me fry you an egg"...

This spring, I heard Susan Wise Bauer of the Well Trained Mind, speak at the Midwest Homeschool Convention on the things that her parents did really right and did not do as well. One of the things that caught my attention was how her Mom dealt with melt-downs. We all have them and sometimes, our kids have them. This is different than continual whining or complaining which needs to be disciplined (see post below). This is the, "I just can't seem to get control and I know I'm in the wrong but I just can't do it" melt down. All three of my kids had one of these today. I knew it was coming because we are three weeks into school and haven't had one yet so we were due. Susan Wise Bauer's mom, Jessie used to ask her kids, " Do you need a sandwich? A walk? A shower or do you need to take a nap?" ( or something to that extent) when they were in the midst of a melt-down. Growing up, my dad used to ask if he could "fry you up an egg". Either way, sometimes we need to take a moment and help our kids learn to handle these melt-downs. Taking care of our physical needs can sometimes put a screeching halt in these melt-downs.

For younger elementary kids, tell them "We need to get self-control over our emotions and then we'll take a break for a minute" Maybe go outside and run around for a couple of minutes and then get them a snack and try school again. For older kids, ask them to get self-control and allow them to go to their rooms to do that if needed and then have them take a walk or a run and have a snack and maybe move on to another subject for awhile and then hit the hard subject after a bit. Connor often needs a walk outside and success at something else and then he can look at the subject with a clear head. Oh and don't forget to give them a hug and let them know that it'll be okay.

I found this to work in hard discipline days too. Sometimes we just need to break the cycle and get control. A step away from the emotions can often be just the breakthrough needed.

I needed a nap today. Caileigh needed a hug and a snack, Collin needed a hug and to play with Holly and Connor needed to go to his room and then switch to something different for a bit. We all made it and school ended on a successful and positive note. Whew!