Sunday, September 30, 2007

Think About It!

Consider the awesome magnitude of this thought. Before time ever began, God chose you for your child and your child for you, complete with his specific birth order, and the specific personality traits geared to train you and him into righteousness! He knew that there would be the greatest opportunity for your child’s heart to be completely turned toward Him by placing him under your care---at just this time in history! Wow! What a concept. It’s monumental. It’s incomprehensible!

Get this into your spirit and the next time life is overwhelming you, or your child is driving you absolutely crazy, consider the ‘bigger’ picture.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's Not All About Academics

Last week I experienced again what it was like trying to teach older children while caring for young ones at the same time. My grandsons, Kaden, 4 and Will, 2 aren’t ready to sit at the table quietly while we work! So, we tried several things to occupy them while I worked with my boys on their lessons.

· We had special “school time only” toys. A favorite was a box of wooden clothes pins that my grandsons like to clip together to make outlines of roads for their cars.
· We had to work for shorter periods of time, speak a little more loudly, and concentrate harder.
· We had to accept the fact that relationships are more important than anything (even academics) and we just didn’t get everything done that we might have otherwise.

There were a few times I remember Kaden standing on the same chair seat right behind Kody while he was reading. Will was sitting on top of the table while we finished up some science.

It wasn’t a perfect scenario for learning, but we still got most of our work done. And we traded what didn’t get accomplished for lots and lots of hugs!

The take away? I think my boys, 13 and almost 15 learned more by caring for their nephews this week than anything they could have learned from reading a book.

How do you occupy your younger children while teaching your older ones?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Time Out!

Sometimes we all just need a “time out”. Things escalate to a point that is so overwhelming that we just need to stop what we’re doing and regroup. That’s when I usually say, “OK, everyone outside!” Even when it’s cold! Maybe the “time out” is for only a few minutes. Other times we need 30 minutes or more!

If we have to stay in because of weather, “time out” is a time to turn off all noise. No music playing softly in the background, no music practice. Think, QUIET! Even if it only lasts 10 minutes, it’s worth it. It’s a refocusing time. A time for me to gather my thoughts, to send up a quick plea for sanity! And it usually works. (If you don’t have older children to watch the younger ones outdoors, go outside with them. It will refresh you all).

The kids come back in a bit refreshed, ready to get busy. They know Mom means business! Time to get back to work!

What do you do to refocus when things get out of control?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tighten the Boundaries

I remember a time, maybe even more than one, when Dirk would come in from a hard day at work and find chaos was reigning and we were ALL sitting in the floor crying---even me! It had been a hard day for mom and I wouldn’t be doing too well emotionally. Identify?

Dirk would say, “Robin, you need to pull in the boundaries. You’re letting them get away with too much.” And he would be right. I was being lax in my role as a parent because 1) it was too hard and took too much time 2) I got distracted doing any number of necessary “other” things 3) I didn’t know WHAT to do. You get the idea and the list could go on and on.

But, the point is, I was the responsible one, the adult, the mom. The one in charge of setting the atmosphere for our day.

I began to learn that when things would get overwhelming, I needed to assess the situation and see if I could tighten the boundaries a bit. To capture the runaway noise, disobedience and attitudes before they got out of control. At first, it took longer to get everyone back to understanding what was and was not acceptable behavior, but soon, it took only minor adjustments to return us to a tolerable level of stability. And then there were still those days where Dirk would come in from a hard day at work and find chaos was reigning……

Would “tightening the boundaries” help your day?

Sunday, September 23, 2007


So, I’m just now getting around to posting again because it’s been a little busy around here.

Last week our two grandsons, Kaden, 4 and Will, 2 stayed with us while their mother, Erin was visiting her husband and their father, Jon before he leaves for Iraq on September 24.

There wasn’t much time for anything else besides caring for them! And they’re really easy children to care for.

But it did remind me of some things I had forgotten from my children’s younger days when I really was “overwhelmed by my blessings”. And I had to make some adjustments to my usual routine:

· often the “boundaries” had to be pulled in tighter
· we had to have “time out” for all of us
· teaching time had to be for shorter periods
· we ALL had to work harder and longer

I’ll expand on these thoughts in following blogs.

What adjustments might make your days easier?

“There is no higher calling in life than the task of bearing and raising the children whom God has trusted to our care.” ~ Dr. James Dobson

Monday, September 17, 2007

Lasting Effects #3

The “H” Word

A big topic in our home for many years is something very important to my husband……heritage. It’s a word that has great meaning to our family, because my husband is a curse breaker. For several generations, the fathers in his family were non-participants. And he decided to change that. So, the concepts of being a father who is involved in every area of his family’s life and the importance of leaving the next generation with a godly heritage were spoken of often. So often, in fact, that when the subject was brought up again and again, our children began saying in a teasing way, “Dad…..not the “H” word!”

Today, a sign hangs in my husband’s office. It’s a handmade wallhanging made by my oldest daughter. It says, “Heritage--- practices that are handed down from the past from heir to heir.” I know my children will never forget the “H” word and the importance of leaving behind that godly heritage.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Lasting Effects #2

What’s in a Name?

We are studying the scientific classification system right now. Last week I read something in our text that I’d never really considered before, but it makes a lot of sense.

It stated, “Whoever names someone has the authority or dominion over the one that is named. Adam named the animals and Eve; God named or changed the names of several people. Jesus gave new names to some of His disciples.”

On any given day, I feel more like my children have dominion over me rather than my husband and I having dominion or authority over them! But there is still power in the process of naming our children.

At the time we began having children, knowing name meanings was a rather new idea. And we took it seriously. It is something that we have found to have a lasting effect on our children. For instance, our first daughter is named Erin. Erin means peace. Now, Erin, being a first born daughter is not naturally given to peace. But we have found, over the years, that she has worked hard to live up to the meaning of her name. One time, she was visiting the bedside of the mother of one of her best friends whose health was failing. She told her that her name meant “peace” and that she had come to bring her peace.

Sometimes, we had to be a little more creative in deciding the meaning for a name. Kody means cushion. So we decided “comfort” was a good choice for his name meaning. And Jacob actually means “surplanter”, so we chose “overcomer” for his name. We have a "pure princess" , a "gracious joy", a "strong and manly" and a "truthful oath of God".

We have experienced many instances when knowing the meanings of our children's names was a helpful tool in encouraging them to live up to that particular character quality. Do your children know the meaning of their name?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Lasting Effects #1

There are many blessings that accompany the choice to train and teach our children at home. Just recently, I realized a benefit I hadn’t even considered before. My older children, four of them now married, actually enjoy spending time together! The girls scrapbook together, they have girls’ nights out, (they even invited me recently!), they all, including their spouses, get together to watch movies, eat meals, play games, and just hang out together. What a blessing it is for us to see that they just plain LIKE each other!

I know this is a reward for the hard work of encouraging and encouraging and encouraging them to get along when they were young. The 24 hour, 365 days-a-year experience of living life TOGETHER has made lasting friendships. My hope is that your children will experience the same!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


You’ve heard it before, “if you aim at nothing, you’ll probably hit it”. That’s the reasoning behind having a schedule. It’s a plan for my day. And it’s an important element to keep me focused on what I need to accomplish each day. Here’s how I came up with mine:

Questions to ask yourself:

What are the most important things I need/want to accomplish daily?
What seems to be my “weak” area?
What time do we want to start our day?
How much time would it actually take to do our academics?

I think the easiest way to make a schedule is to start from your “beginning school” time. From there count back to a time when you need to be up to do things for yourself before everyone else is up. Give yourself enough time to get your Bible reading done and have your day planned.

Continue to fill in the time slots with priority items: breakfast, lunch, chores, phonics, workout, etc. (the “needs”)

Maybe you even need to schedule a play time or a reading time with your children. (those “weak” areas that you might let slide if it’s not written down)

Make it as detailed as necessary to help keep you moving and accomplishing what you desire to do each day.

After making your schedule, try it out for a day or two. You may need to make adjustments. Remember, this should be something to help you, not overwhelm you. It’s a starting place, a guide, something to help you stay focused and on track.

Let me know if it works for you and share your schedule with the rest of us!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Our First Day of School Went Really Well……Except for……

Today was our first day of school. It went really well, except for:

An interruption to help my husband figure out the cell phone bill

Sending a son outdoors to run laps because he was frustrated over missing 3 problems on a multiplication speed drill test

Having same son write a paragraph on why he should do extra work on his multiplication facts since he didn’t respond respectfully when I made the “suggestion”.

Getting volume of a cylinder confused with surface area when helping my other son with his math

See---even a “veteran” homeschooler has daily issues to deal with. Maybe tomorrow will run a little more normal? Oh wait! That IS normal!!

Monday, September 03, 2007

When They Were Younger

5:30 am – get up, COFFEE or hot tea, Bible reading, personal reading
6:30 nurse a baby, put back to bed (hopefully)
6:50 get dressed (if I was lucky)
7:00 start laundry, begin making breakfast,
7:30 wake up children (only the ones learning academics)
7:30 – 8:00 breakfast, morning chores, more laundry
8:00 Bible reading – together
8:20 Begin math with one of the children

Yes, I had to get up at 5:30 if I wanted personal quiet time. (It may work for you to stay up late!) Many times, though, an early riser would join me and I encouraged them to sit quietly with me. Did it always work? No!

The remainder of the morning is used trying to spend one-on-one time with each child on math and reading, dealing with constant issues, and continuing with laundry (which the children helped me fold and put away after lunch).

11:30 EVERYONE OUTSIDE! (while I make lunch)

12:00 Lunch

12:30 lunch clean-up
1:00 – rest of day This time was used for piano practice, personal reading, chores, etc.

We always had a “rest time”. That was no less than 30 min of QUIET. This was for me, more than for my children. They didn’t have to sleep, but they did have to be on their beds with no talking. During this time I would determine what I needed the most. A nap? More cleaning? More planning? And many times, the time was spent just getting children to be quiet! And 30 minutes goes by VERY quickly!

For several years when I was teaching 4 or more children at once, I would prepare weekly worksheets for each child. This would take approximately 3 hours each Sunday. It was a difficult process, but necessary to the success of the following week, in regard to academics. This worksheet would list the various subjects each child was learning, and would include reading and writing assignments for each day. This enabled me to work individually with each child without so many interruptions or more time spent telling them what needed to be done next. When each assignment was completed the work was to be given to me to be checked. After I checked the work, it was given back to be corrected on that same day, even if it had to be finished after our normal “school hours”.

For my very young children, ages up to 4, I tried to keep them busy with something while working with an older child. This takes constant effort to teach them to give you a few minutes of time for another child, but it can be done.

For 4-5 year olds, I try to begin teaching numbers, letters, beginning phonics, etc. This is done in short time intervals, maybe 2-3 times within a day. And many times, an older child helps with this.

6-8 year olds are able to do math flash cards alone. We used Math-It (a speed drill using small flash cards). They can also do a few worksheets on their own.

9 and up should be able to begin doing more and more independent work, working with and helping care for younger children and taking more responsibility for the housework.

Again, this schedule was a daily goal. It was a time-frame we would aim for together. We worked hard at it everyday. I would say we were consistently less successful with hitting the times than we were successful! But that is life, right?

If you don’t already have one, I recommend a schedule.

We’ll work on it tomorrow.