Do Not Grow Weary

do_not_grow_wearyI’m not sure why people associate being a “good” person with having an easy life. Sure, you don’t suffer the consequences of as many poor choices, but life is far from easy. In fact, doing good can often be trying, difficult, and, if we allow it, disheartening. It can be discouraging to work your fingers to the bone and yet see others succeed far beyond what you can imagine. It can be hard to watch others with more resources while you are barely making ends meet. How are we to deal with these feelings of jealousy, disappointment, sadness, and discouragement? With truth and thanksgiving…

Their Kids Are So Well Behaved

Trust me, no one’s kids are perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, misbehaves, and has trouble on occasion. We should rejoice for that family, praising the Lord for what He is doing in that home. Then, thank the Lord for the kids we have. They might not be perfect, and we still have some work to do, but they are ours. We should pray the Lord would show us ways to encourage better behavior and give us grace while they are still learning.

Their Kids Are So Accomplished/Well Educated

Just like you would not want to be compared to others, we need to be careful about comparing our own children. Each child was created by God perfectly. Some children are quicker at learning; others delve in deeper, but take more time. Some have learning delays, but they are trying their hardest.
Our goal ought to be in having our child do their best, not as good as Johnny down the street. We need to thank the Lord for the ability to educate our child, or help them with their learning, and praise Him for their progress thus far. We should ask Him to show us if we could be doing better and how. If we are doing fine, we pray the Lord would remove the doubt seeping in so we can better focus on the task before us.

Their House Is So Nice/Organized

What works for one family, might not work for another. A lady might clean her house daily because her husband prefers it this way or because she doesn’t know how to function any other way. The lovely home you see might be the culmination of years of saving and hard work. Of course, quite simply, it could be a blessing. How sad it is when we look at the blessings bestowed on someone else and all we see is our own lack.
This is a great opportunity to praise the Lord for what He is doing in that family; that He use them for His glory. While our homes might not be our dream, at the moment, we thank Him for a roof over our head and full bellies. We ask for His continued provision and for wisdom to use our resources wisely.

They Have More Money Than We Do

Another tough one… We can try our hardest, but sometimes we struggle. Why is this? Unfortunately, I don’t have an easy answer for you. Financial struggles stem from a myriad of roots; some we’ve brought upon ourselves and others from life circumstances.
Again, thanksgiving is key. We need to thank the Lord for the ways He is currently providing for us and ask that He continue to do so. We praise Him for meeting our needs and hearing our cries for help. We also need to remember, in times of plenty, those who are still struggling and lend a helping hand.

They Always Have So Much Going On

Home improvements, soccer games, ballet recitals, vacations, dinners with friends, and more. We all know people who seem to be constantly on the move; always busy, with lives filled. Praise the Lord for times of quiet, where you can hear His voice and be filled! They’re great. If you’re looking to have more sociable activities, pray the Lord would open those doors.

Sometimes our hearts lead us astray, preventing us from seeing the truth of the situation before us. We see ourselves as trying to do the right thing, doing good, and yet we seem to be going nowhere; struggling in vain. It is in those times, especially, that we need to be asking the Lord to show us His truth.

When our hearts are focused on what God has already done in our lives, offering up thanksgiving for our blessings, we have no room to be ungrateful for what we don’t have. When our hearts are filled with His love, our strength is restored and we are able to continue doing the good we are called to. May we all take a moment to simply offer our thanks to our Father for what He does in our lives daily. May we learn to look past the moment to see the eternal, and focus on things above.

We’d like to know… Share seven things for which you are grateful for today!

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”
~Galatians 6:9

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5 Ways to Incorporate Creative Writing

five_ways_to_incorporate_creative_writingYou’d think, really you would with all the books I read, I would enjoy writing. Truth be told, I like sharing; that’s why I blog. But, writing – writing for the sake of writing – writing to tell a story? That’s a little more intimidating. The mere idea of sitting down to flesh out an entire novel scares me. All those details, plot twists, and unearthing a satisfying ending? I’m tired just thinking about it. As I’ve started to encourage creative writing in my children, I’ve come to realize perhaps I am thinking a little too hard. I need to start off with something small and work my way up to ‘bigger’ projects. Take one moment at a time and simply enjoy the process.

Over the years our family has incorporated a few creative ideas to encourage a love of writing in our home. Some you’ve already heard of; some you might already be doing; and others are just fun to explore!

Family Mailboxes

Who doesn’t like to receive mail? Each of our children received their own ‘mailbox’. We taught our kids how to write letters, post mail, and to respond within a reasonable amount of time to keep the fun going.
As a bonus, we helped each of our children create their own letterhead, bought them rubber postage stamp sets (to use in place of real stamps), and boxes of envelopes. Seeing our children become excited to both give and receive letters was such a blessing. It’s great to see them look for ways to bless the other members of the family.

Letters to Friends

Pen pals are fun, too! In the past, we’ve written letters to family members, friends, and online acquaintances. There are even websites you can work through to help your children get connected with others who are looking for a pen pal.

Dante’s Wardrobe

A few years back we ran a series on this fun, creative writing technique. Dante’s Wardrobe consisted of having our children create an ‘alternate’ personality for themselves; each person in our family picked a character they wanted to be. For the next learning year we wrote to each other, left clues for each other, and made presents for each other, based on the character we had chosen.
This helped our children think outside the box and find imaginative ways to tell about themselves. Each year we did this, we picked an entirely new character and explored new options.

Journaling

Journaling has allowed my children to write down their personal stories, poems, and thoughts without the fear of anyone else reading. We usually have scads of notebooks strewn about the house for them to use. However, we also have dedicated writing journals.
At one point we even set the children up with their own blog! Writing in this manner was especially fun for our kids and they loved the feedback from the few readers they had, besides mom and pop.

Writing Prompts

Occasionally, I have been known to throw out a writing prompt as part of our homeschool lessons. I try to make the topics something our children will want to write about. We have personified stained glass windows, asked what pirate name best suits us, and explained battle plans for attempting to conquer foreign lands.
Our prompts are generally based on our history lessons. Each of us, mom included, has a personalized journal to write in. The idea is to use the prompts given (which are planned to be silly, yet thoughtful) and write for only three minutes; no more! Then we take a moment to read our prompt and see whose is the funniest, cutest, or most heartfelt.

It’s important to point out, while doing these activities, we parents aren’t checking for errors. The purpose of these exercises is to increase their love of writing, not to make sure they are writing correctly; that is where formal practice comes in. Using these five, easy writing ideas, we are cultivating a love of writing in our home. Enjoy the ideas, and go with the flow; this should be fun!

We’re curious… Which of the five ideas above would your family use most and why?

“And he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs…”
Exodus 35:31-32

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Getting the Most Out of Field Trips: A Series Review!

Field-TripsWho doesn’t like a good field trip? There’s nothing quite like fresh air, a change of scenery,  and a little exercise to rejuvenate your learning routine. While field trips can be a lot of fun, they will quickly turn into a frustrating mess when not planned properly. Join us as we share tips on how to make the most of any field trip and explore ideas for a smoother day.

What if we could make the day more simple? Wouldn’t the trip be much more enjoyable if we had a plan of attack and were better prepared? I think so. After planning field trips, both for myself and for larger groups, here are a few tips we’ve learned along the way:

Go out and explore! Have a lot of fun and enjoy your children while they are young; this won’t last forever. ~ Cristina

“Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.”
~ Proverbs 24:27

We’re curious… Do you enjoy being spontaneous with outings or planning in advance?

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Review: Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric Complete Program by Roman Roads Media

review_roman_roads

“Asking ‘Why rhetoric?’ is similar to asking ‘Why logic?’ Again, the answer is self-evident. Without logic, the question couldn’t exist. Without rhetoric, the question couldn’t be well answered. The question, then, is not ‘Why should we study rhetoric?’ The more appropriate question is, ‘How could we not study rhetoric?'”

We love developing new skills. With the help of Roman Roads Media and Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric Complete Program our family is on a new adventure learning the fine art of effective communication.

Roman Roads Media specializes in classical curriculum for home and classroom use. Amongst their incredible line of resources families can find materials for teaching logic, western culture, latin, poetry, history, and rhetoric. To assist us in our studies, we chose to take a closer look at Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric, recommended for high school students and above.

The complete program includes five key components:

  • A Fitting Words Textbookroman_roads_3
  • A Student Workbook, including exercises and activities for each lesson, and six Speech Judging Sheets.
  • An Answer Key, including answers to every exercise and exam.
  • A Fitting Words Exam Pack, including nine exam reviews and nine exams. Exams being two to four pages in length, primarily consisting of essay questions.
  • And a Fitting Words video course, – Streaming or Blu-Ray/DVD + Streaming – in which students receive in-depth teaching from the author for every lesson. Students are given numerous examples, illustrations, and video clips demonstrating good oratory from history, extra activities, and more.

As the curriculum is recommended for high school students and above, I determined this would be a perfect fit for my high school senior. While I do have another student in high school, I wished to use my oldest daughter as a gauge for whether her younger siblings would benefit from the curriculum earlier in their learning program. As I had never taken a classical rhetoric course myself, I thought it would be fun to join her in her studies. One afternoon a week we sit down together and complete a given lesson; our time lasting approximately two hours. This schedule best suits our routine and needs; however the program could easily be completed throughout the course of the week should a family desire to do so. Having received the curriculum a month ago, we have thus far completed the entirety of Unit One and will continue on until the finish of the course at the close of our year.

Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric has proven to be a well-organized, wonderful resource for us. The curriculum is simple to understand, thought-provoking, engaging, and enjoyable. Video lessons are brief yet highly educational; insightful and Biblically sound. The given exercises are more than manageable and often fun verbal prompts for discussion. While we consider ourselves fairly well-read, we’ve been encouraged to study works we had yet to explore such as selections from Quintilian and Plato’s Gorgias. We’ve developed memorization by studying Scripture and key speeches given throughout the Bible.

Having used the course for several weeks, we are confident this was the right choice for our family and accurately assessed for high school students and above. We’ve found the lessons to be achievable for my oldest daughter, while encouraging her to study further. Our high school sophomore has expressed a desire to join in our lessons and she will be doing so from this point on.

While Fitting Words does a beautiful job teaching rhetoric, we felt the curriculum was a perfect fit because we had already laid a strong foundation in logic and apologetics. While these studies are by no means required in order to use Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric, students might find they enhance the learning experience and compliment the lessons. Thankfully, Roman Roads also offers a course in Logic to assist families in teaching this skill.

“Rhetoric is the art of using words well, and is measured by our ability to teach men the truth, to move men to goodness, and to delight men with verbal beauty. Effective speaking and writing is informative, powerful, and elegant.”

Fitting Words is a thorough course in rhetoric, and we are enjoying the multitude of benefits it offers. We are excited to continue on with our studies and develop this lovely skill. Thanks to Roman Roads Media and Fitting Words our family is on a new adventure learning the fine art of effective communication.

If you’d like to learn more about Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric Complete Program or Roman Roads Media, please visit them at their website and on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. To read additional reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what Roman Roads Media has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew.

Review Crew Disclaimer

We’re curious... Have you ever taken a course on classical rhetoric?

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Do I Need a Lesson Plan?

do_I_need_a_lesson_planThere it was, sitting in my shopping bag. A gift from the educational store where I had just
purchased a myriad of homeschool supplies for the coming year. It was basic, nicely offered, but, frankly, confusing. As a homeschool parent, did I need a lesson plan?

For whatever reason, I had never thought to purchase or use a lesson plan. If I had to give an explanation for this, I would be hard pressed to provide a suitable answer. I’d just never given it that much thought. I suppose it always made sense to simply follow the books I bought. Our books came – and still come – with pages already mapped out; each marked with a lesson number. We did one lesson per day, with a total of a hundred seventy lessons during the year. Considering our books were cleverly labeled, why did I need a lesson plan?

It wasn’t until we started using unit studies to cover history and science that I finally began mapping out our lessons. It made sense to schedule how long we were to be spending in a particular unit and which activities would to be covered. I was visually able to see the expanse of our year, planning more thoroughly. While I wasn’t planning out every aspect of our day, writing down each child’s lesson assignments, I learned the value of organizing certain portions of our routines.

Did I finally dig out the planner the helpful educational store had offered? Truthfully, no. I had completely forgotten about the planner by this point. I found doing things on my computer better suited my needs. I was able to copy, paste, adjust within seconds, color code easily, and sync the information within all our devices so everyone could stay on top of things.

Does everyone need a lesson plan? I would never argue a particular curriculum or plan works for everyone. I will say having a general plan for your day and an overall plan for your year is not only beneficial, but wise. When we have direction we are less likely to stress over subjects possibly forgotten or enough time in our year to cover everything desired. Whether we choose to use a pre-printed planner from a store or use a computer based application to do our organizing, I highly recommend taking a few minutes to systematize life. Make up your own routine and put your plan into action.

We’re curious… Did you use a lesson planner? How much of your day and/or week do you put down in print? Share with us your method of organizing life and help new homeschooling families learn the art of planning!

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”
~ Proverbs 16:3

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Curriculum 101: A Series Review!

Curriculum101

One of the biggest struggles homeschooling families battle is which curriculum is best for their children. We become overwhelmed by the amount of curriculum available, struggle to find the right fit for each of our children, proceed to doubt each choice made for at least the first several weeks, and continue to search for new ways of teaching well after we’ve already begun our year.

To this end, we thought we’d spend time launching discussions on all things curriculum.

What you’ll find in this series: Encouragement, help, tips, hints, and open discussion on what’s worked for our families and what hasn’t.

What you won’t find in this series: A push toward any curriculum in particular. Our desire is to spend time in open conversation with you readers! We would love to share how we’ve taught each subject; what’s worked for us; and ways we’re still attempting to improve in each subject. What we don’t want to do is fit your child into our homeschooling box.

We’re praying you’ll join us in this adventure. Consider this an open invitation to share your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you readers on each topic; letting us know your thoughts, tips, and links to related articles.

Reading
Writing
Arts/Crafts
Bible
Grammar & Composition
Arithmetic
History & Geography
Science
PreK Helps
Music
Computer Sciences
Coding
P.E.
Foreign Language

May this series enrich each of us. And, may the Lord use this time to encourage us all in our homeschooling adventures. ~Cristina

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Anger Management

anger_managementBeing a kid is tough; no matter your age. You aren’t a baby, but aren’t quite able to do everything your mind can think up. Your coordination might still be developing, you’re learning new lessons and being given more responsibility. Now compound that with having not only a mom and a dad, but multiple siblings trying to help you, teach you, redirect you, and often discipline you. Even when they shouldn’t. Our children can get overwhelmed very quickly.

I can understand being upset, really I can. There are moments all of us become overwhelmed by the situation or our emotions get the better of us. What I can’t allow to happen is for this to become a habit or for our children to act out in their anger. Some healthy boundaries needed to be put in place.

While there are no fool-proof plans for helping someone overcome anger, I think there are some basic steps we can take toward reaching our goal.

Pray – Before I say a word, or attempt to work through the situation, I need to come to the Lord in prayer in order to ask for wisdom, patience, and the ability to help my child.

Understand the Problem – Until I diagnose the cause of someone’s anger, I cannot truly help them start to overcome it. I need to find the source and that will help lead us to the answer.

Walk Away From the Problem – If possible, I attempt to remove my child from the situation which is causing them to lose their cool. Sometimes just walking away for a moment helps clear the head.

Handle the Problem – It’s time to tackle the situation together. We talk, determine the best course of action, and move forward. This is a wonderful opportunity to encourage them see the problem from a different perspective – a Godly lesson, a practice in patience, etc. –  which facilitates a change of heart.

Deal with the Attitude – Sometimes the source of anger isn’t a situation, it is the heart of the person involved. There are various ways we have helped our kids deal with their attitudes: prayer, communication, time alone, and, when absolutely necessary, discipline.

Each day is a new opportunity for us to win the victory over our emotions. With every unique circumstance, we have the ability to develop a higher resistance to our own anger and choose to make the best decisions possible. It all starts with prayer and taking appropriate steps toward anger management.

We’re curious… Have any of your children struggled with anger? We’d love to hear how the Lord has given you wisdom in this area of parenting.

“’In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,…”
~  Ephesians 4:26

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Our August Reads

our_august_readsA new learning year has begun, and we’re well underway.  While formal book work does occupy a portion of our day, the enjoyment of good literature and the study of the world around us is also being given equal exploration. In the midst of all the adventure, it’s time to share which reads we’ve enjoyed during the month of August.

We’ve broken down our list into categories and included our personal rating from zero to five stars. To read more about a particular book, simply click the title!

Learning Resources:

  • Basic Economics (Thomas Sowell) – This is the revised and enlarged edition of a basic_economicsnew kind of introduction to economics for the general public-without graphs, statistics, or jargon. In addition to being updated, Basic Economics has also become more internationalized by including economic problems from more countries around the world, because the basic principles of economics are not confined by national borders.
  • Imprimis– A free monthly speech digest of Hillsdale College and is dedicated to educating citizens and promoting civil and religious liberty by covering cultural, economic, political, and educational issues. The content of Imprimis is drawn from speeches delivered to Hillsdale College-hosted events.
  • A New Literary History of America (Greil Marcus) – In more than two hundred original essays, “A New Literary History of America” brings together the nations many voices. From the first conception of a New World in the sixteenth century to the latest re-envisioning of that world in cartoons, television, science fiction, and hip hop, the book gives us a new, kaleidoscopic view of what Made in America means. Literature, music, film, art, history, science, philosophy, political rhetoric cultural creations of every kind appear in relation to each other, and to the time and place that give them shape.

Children’s Books:iron_giant

  • Iron Giant (Ted Hughes) – An iron giant saves the world in this contemporary classic.
  • The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls : Journey to Jericho (M.J. Thomas) – Our time-traveling trio journeys to an ancient desert to find the Israelites preparing to enter the Promised Land. With limited time to solve the secret of the scroll, Peter, Mary, and Hank go on a spy mission to Jericho; sneak Rahab to safety; and ultimately face the scheming “man in black” as the walls of the city begin to crumble.

Parenting & Educator Helps:

  • Learning How to Learn: How to Succeed in School Without Spending All Your Time Studying (Barbara Oakley) – A surprisingly simple way for students to master any subject–based on one of the world’s most popular online courses and read-aloud_handbookthe bestselling book A Mind for Numbers.
  • The Read-Aloud Handbook (Jim Trelease)This new edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook imparts the benefits, rewards, and importance of reading aloud to children of a new generation. Supported by delightful anecdotes as well as the latest research, The Read-Aloud Handbook offers proven techniques and strategies—and the reasoning behind them—for helping children discover the pleasures of reading and setting them on the road to becoming lifelong readers.
  • The Read-Aloud Family (Sarah Mackenzie) – Founder of the immensely popular Read-Aloud Revival podcast, Sarah knows first-hand how reading can change a child’s life. In The Read-Aloud Family, she offers the inspiration and age-appropriate book lists you need to start a read-aloud movement in your own home.

How are we rating these reads? Good question! If the book has a five, whether learning or for fun, it’s clean and we want it on our bookshelf permanently. Four stars are sorely tempting us, but as our local library carries them we’re in luck. Three stars are worth a look, but we don’t see ourselves reading them too often. Two stars were entertaining, but once was enough. One star was acceptable. And zero. Well, it’s zero.

What to be on the lookout for… 

  • The three reads under “Learning Resources” are currently being employed in our daily routine. They add so much to our studies I cannot imagine doing school without them. Imprimis is an incredible free resource. If you do not currently hold a subscription, we highly recommend getting one.
  • Both “Children’s Books” reads were a great deal of fun. We had never read Iron Giant before, having only ever watched the movie. It was interesting to read the book for the first time and have an open discussion on them both. As always, Mr. M.J. Thomas has delighted us with another fantastic book in the Hidden Scrolls series. We can’t wait for the next book!
  • Learning How to Learn… was an interesting read. There were a multitude of tips on how to get the most of your learning time and a great deal of information regarding brain development. All-in-all a good read.
  • And a confession… I had never read The Read-Aloud Handbook or The Read-Aloud Family before. Not once. I do a great deal of reading aloud; always have. I’ve just never picked up these two volumes. I do not know as I learned anything new, but at least now I can say I’ve read them both and agree wholeheartedly with their perspectives.

With a return to formal book studies, classic literature is being explored in a major way and there’s more fun on the way. Join us again during the month of September as we explore a world of books and the adventure of reading. What will we read next?

We’re curious… With school activities picking up during the coming month, will finding time to read be a challenge in your home?

“I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”
~ Psalm 101:3

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10 Ways to Fail As a Teacher

10_ways_to_failAt the start of each learning year I try to self-evaluate. As my children’s teacher, are there areas which could use some improvement? How can I help my children better understand what I’m trying to share with them? Is there anything I’m doing which is preventing my children from drawing closer to the Lord?

Perhaps my evaluation ought to begin with ways in which I could be failing. Hey, you have to start somewhere!

  1. Force Curriculum – While I’m all for exposing our children to various pursuits, and require our children learn all core subjects, there is a significant difference between mandatory subjects and forcing curriculum. Algebra is non-negotiable in our house, but I’m all for trying various companies and methods to find which works best for each child.
  2. Do Everything in a Book – Nothing frustrates a child more than having their nose stuck in a textbook all day. I need to make sure I’m offering a good balance of book work, hands-on projects, and active outside opportunities.
  3. Make Them Do Everything – I know there are a lot of awesome activities in that language arts book. It can be very tempting to make my kiddos do every-single-one. However, that might not be the best way to encourage a love of learning. I need to pick my battles and be willing to let a few stray addition problems go. On occasion. Maybe.
  4. Don’t Listen to Them – Am I talking over my kids? Constantly. Do I allow them to – respectfully – share their thoughts and opinions? Perhaps if I listened more, and truly heard them, we might get a little further.
  5. Confuse Them – Am I being too vague in my teaching? Am I explaining things fully or in a manner which they can understand? Am I teaching to them or at them? If I am teaching for the sake of teaching, with them taking nothing away, what is the point?
  6. Be Demanding – Do this! Do that! Come here! Sit down! Be quiet! (See the problem here?) None of this is being said with love, kindness, grace, or understanding. I need  to make sure I am tempering my responses, requests, and commands with affection. It helps; it really does!
  7. Offer No Free Time – I need to be careful how much time we are spending with organized activity. Too little can be an issue, but so can too much! If I want to drive my kids crazy, all I need to do is take away all free time.
  8. Refuse Questions – It’s frustrating being interrupted when we’re in the middle of a thought. But, what if the interruption leads to wonderful things?! What if we need to be interrupted because our child just isn’t getting it?
  9. Lecture Often – This topic always conjures up images of Mr. Ben Stein. Me standing at the front of the room, book in hand, chalkboard behind; I’m droning on and on regarding a topic my kids have lost all interest in, thanks to my monologue. While I’m all for a pointed lesson on a given topic, I need to evaluate whether I’m being helpful or just speaking to hear my own voice.
  10. Forget Character Training – Here’s a biggie!! While I don’t find public school teachers responsible for character training (they aren’t the parents after all), I cannot get by with this excuse. I AM the parent! It’s my job to train my child in the way he should go. Shoving through a stack of textbooks and paperwork does my child little good if I am not teaching them how to be righteous in the process.

I may release a sigh of relief; I’m not completely failing as a teacher. However, I also see areas in which I might need to relax. Overall, we’re doing pretty well. The kids love learning, we’re progressing nicely, and our family is centered on Christ. With His help we’re accomplishing more than I could have ever dreamed. Perhaps I’m not doing such a bad job after all.

We’re curious… What would you list as your top 3 ways to fail as a teacher!

“May my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, like gentle rain upon the tender grass, and like showers upon the herb.”
~ Deuteronomy 32:2

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Do Our Children Have Personal Property?

do_our_children_have_personal_propertyUh, oh. Here it comes. My son is eagerly recalling a memory from several years ago of playtime with his siblings, and I know exactly what is going to happen next. “Mom, whatever happened to that toy?” Just as I am about to remind them the particular item in question was meant for toddlers and they are no longer two, another of my children promptly announces I have more than likely gotten rid of it; as I am want to do. Now I ask you. Why would I keep it? They hadn’t touched it for years! It seemed reasonable to remove the item in question, at least to my way of thinking. My kids, however, consider this the perfect opportunity to remind me – yet again – that this needs to stop. Some things belong to them, and they should be included in the decision to have it given away. Well, perhaps they’re right.

In a home where six people live, work, run a business, homeschool, play and sleep, space can be an issue. From time to time, it’s essential to downsize and streamline our belongings; removing items we haven’t used in ages and perhaps making room for new resources to further our family adventures. I don’t think anyone in my family would dispute these facts. No, it’s the manner in which we minimize which is in question. I have to admit, they have a point.

It made sense when the children were little that I be the one to sift through our belongings, donating what could bless others and organizing what was essential. However, the older our children get, the more it becomes evident I need to step aside and allow my children to make some of these decisions for themselves. And there are some valid reasons why.

I am a minimalist. I like the bare essentials. If I haven’t used something in a while, if the piece is not functional, or if I am just plain, old tired of it; it goes. While this might seem like a good thing – and it can be – it can also work against me. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten rid of something only to regret it six months later and curse my incessant need to minimize. Perhaps, just maybe, when it comes to my children’s things I might not be the best judge of what should stay and what should go.

My children need to learn this skill themselves. At some point, my kids need to learn the fine art of organization and minimizing. They might never pair-down to the extent I would, but neither can they rely on me to always do this for them. By purposefully setting aside time to do this as a family, they learn this skill for themselves and they have no fear something will be taken which has meaning to them.

My children have an emotional attachment. I see a bracelet my child has never worn. They see a well-loved, handmade gift from a friend. I see a doctor kit made for three-year-olds. They see a world of possibility, and childhood memories. Sometimes I don’t know which items my children have formed attachments to, and I would hate to give something away which I can never replace and has great meaning to them.

If I say it belongs to them, I need to mean what I say. How would I feel if a particular item suddenly went missing only to find it was given away without my permission? I would be hurt. My children are no different! Once something belongs to my children – whether bought or given – it belongs to them. Not me. I need to respect their right to keep that item or even get rid of it. It’s theirs. Personal property needs to be acknowledged.

It is essential to downsize from time to time. But these days re-organizing our home has become a group effort. Together we tackle our respective spaces and determine what absolutely must stay. I’m constantly amazed. You’d be surprised how motivated these children can be, cleaning better than I would have anticipated and often removing more than I would have dared. Items of value are stored with great care, and generosity is shown as they determine who would benefit from items they no longer need. Better yet, I don’t have to face accusations and our home is organized much faster than had I done this on my own. It’s an all-round win!

I’m curious, how do you tackle this tricky parenting choice?

“The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.”
~ Psalm 24:1

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