Perhaps some of you who are homeschooling Moms are as well?
What's so great about this past year of family-centered home education?
I learned stuff!
Not just facts and figures or neat websites.
I learned how we learn and work together as a family.
I built on what I have learned when our oldest was 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and now 8.
I have juggled three busy boys and a sweet, independent baby and now toddler daughter around my husband's ever-changing work schedule. I have figured out how to 'keep everything in rotation', in a happily less-than-perfect fashion, as far as laundry, dishes, and making meals are concerned. I have learned that I can find fulfillment at home and even discover hidden 'art' in homemaking.
What has the family learned?
Thinking back over the year, some of our best moments have been while driving in the van and someone's voice pipes up from the back seat, "Turn on Scripture Scouts, Mom!" Another great moment was discovering that the boys paid attention to scripture study well when I asked them to repeat after me a verse phrase by phrase. Their eyes lighted up to be included and they really liked acting out some of the stories from the scriptures. Hearing their voices sing their little toddler sister's favorite song, "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam", (complete with jumps for joy!) makes me smile. They are learning so much!
I have seen them make mistakes, certainly, as they learn how to follow Jesus in acting with compassion and forgiveness to each other, but I have also seen them make great strides in showing brotherly love and acceptance to each other. I feel such satisfaction and gratitude that the Lord has blessed me with all that I have needed to be able to facilitate them learning these important things.
One thing I am most excited about is how much improvement we have had in our family in how we are treating each other, using kinder tones of voice and expressing our concerns to each other. I have learned to ask for and give respect to my children in better ways and my husband and I are speaking with love more often to each other. That is attributed I believe, to paying more attention to God's words and spending less time absorbed in media or other things that emphasize more rude ways of communication. That's an area we are continually trying to grow in!
Isn't that a terrific list?
I sit back and look at it and am still amazed at all I can learn from being a Wife and Mom at home with my family full-time.
I didn't start out with all these abilities and neither did my family. It takes time to learn how to do this stuff together! I am so pleased with our progress and enthusiastic about the future growth we can have.
Notice how I didn't say how our best success in homeschooling were when my child learned to read the encyclopedia from front to back and upside down or memorize the multiplication table at the ripe age of 3 1/2 (he didn't) nor how we all started our Latin exercises at 4 a.m.
Certainly there is a time for academics, and for some families earlier in age than others, but to me, what is most important for my family, and my children, is to learn to love God, to learn to love others and to learn to accept and love themselves. Second to that, I want my children to get to know how they learn best, naturally, from the beginning. Academics come in bits and pieces along the way until the child is more ready for in-depth studies.
I came across this blog post by Spunky and it explains so well what has been on my mind this week...
"WHY we educate must be determined before we decide HOW to educate."
I am taking into consideration the best moments of last year and what they mean for our future. This phrase has come to my mind over and over:
It is the family experience that is the best training for life.
Why? Because I want my children to not only be a success in education and career, but in their personal relationships. And that all starts when they are young, in the home. The family's important role in a child's life does not end at a certain age and shouldn't be overshadowed by outside influences.
President of the LDS church, Thomas S. Monson has stated this which supports exactly the lightbulb moment I had for the week:
"Perhaps most significant of all classrooms is the classroom of the home. It is in the home that we form our attitudes, our deeply held beliefs. It is in the home that hope is fostered or destroyed. Our homes are the laboratories of our lives. What we do there determines the course of our lives when we leave home. Dr. Stuart E. Rosenberg wrote in his book The Road to Confidence, “Despite all new inventions and modern designs, fads and fetishes, no one has yet invented, or will ever invent, a satisfying substitute for one’s own family.”
(“Precious Children—A Gift from God,” Ensign, Nov 1991, 67)
What is it I can give, better than any other person that would be a gift that would be most precious to my children? My love and belief / hope in my children, and also, I believe, careful character development.
What, might one ask, is good character?
"A good character is something you must make for yourself. It cannot be inherited from parents. It cannot be created by having extraordinary advantages. It isn't a gift of birth, wealth, talent or station. It is the result of your own endeavor. It is the reward that comes from living good principles and manifesting a virtuous and honorable life."
Elder L. Tom Perry in an address given on January 15, 2010 at Utah Valley University
I want my children to grow up loving God and serving Him, which is part of strong character traits, and because of my husband's and my experience living this way, we know absolutely that everything else that is needed follows. God provides and we are thankful for this.
Then, I read this @ At the Well by Michelle G. and it just fits perfectly with my thinking about this topic:
"When we are obedient and trusting God, the academics will fall into place. He will prepare them for the plans He has for them. We can trust Him.
Let’s give them what they really need. Let’s give them love and acceptance. Let’s give them the confidence that comes from knowing they are treasured and loved by the most High God. A mama can do that, you know? She can impart this love like no other. Go give you children what they really need today."
Isn't that just beautiful? What a lovely reminder and for me, so encouraging. I have time each day to do this, to love like no other, and that is part of my children's education that no other person can give. I can do that!
I can be a mother-- a parent who guides, teaches, explains, plays, prays, sings, loves, makes mistakes, asks forgiveness, and tries again.
God can and will do His part; He is their perfect teacher and through His spirit, my children have the best connection to a 'school', one that is perfect for them.
Now that I have my "Why" in place, resources are jumping out at me! These are supplements to what we teach in the home and reaffirm truths to our children in fun ways. I would add that I do not receive any compensation for sharing what we plan to use. I share simply because I am excited to have such helpful resources available!
God's Mighty Warrior devotional book for boys
Janeen Brady's Brite music series "Standin' Tall", emphasizing 12 character traits
Memorizing the Articles of Faith and select Bible verses
...with Scripture Scouts as a supplement
Learning new primary songs from the Children's Songbook
Cub Scouts for our oldest son
Our family devotional times, with faith expressed in reading scripture, singing songs and praying together, makes up most of our focus. I believe in the power of a parent's testimony--it is vital, for my children's sake, to share with them what we believe and why. It is really rewarding to listen to the child and hear what they are understanding and what they believe, too. This strengthens everyone!
What is your 'WHY'? Whether homeschooling or not, what do you feel is your role in your child's education? What are you enthusiastic about sharing with your children?
I am excited to share some fun, adventurous life lessons I am planning within a 2011-12 Year Theme, soon to be posted about here on this blog! In the meantime, I am off to go swim with my big boys in the hotel pool.
Other resources for parents about educating their children:
Mama Rachel talks about her "WHY" @Thoughts From the Hearth
This (LDSHEA.org) website is designed to support parents who are educating
their children from a gospel perspective in addition to
or, especially, in place of classroom school.
If our youth are to be saved from the evils of today's world,
fulfill their personal missions, and participate in the
upbuilding of Zion, their parents must teach them.
We are reminded that April 2010's General Conference contained urgent, and encouraging, guidance to all parents who are concerned with the education their children are receiving.