You’re Not “Stuck” at Home. You’re Having the Time of Your Life, Homeschooling, That is!

Hello and welcome to all parents who are suddenly at home with their kids.  As a veteran homeschooler I have some thoughts, tips and downright excellent ideas for you.

  1.  Begin every day with “The P.J.’s of Power – a psalm, a proverb, Paul’s wisdom from something in the New Testament, and Prayer, and Praise, and then some of Jesus’ words.  If the kids are readers and awake (this is a lovely time for all of you to catch up on sleep by the way), instruct them to do the same, take notes, and let it all be done in P.J.’s!
  2. Make this something they truly enjoy, perhaps all around the table first thing, along with hot chocolate, and begin teaching table manners and conversation arts at the table.  Best of all, you are teaching them to love and enjoy God!
  3. Have all hands on deck for meals.  Rotate assignments for who is helping cook, setting the table, doing the dishes, sweeping the floors afterward, etc.
  4. Speaking of rotating assignments, one of my best ever ideas was my COD idea – Child of the Day.  It began first with who was going to pray at meals because when they all chimed in the food got cold before they finished.  They prayed for Grandpa’s cows, and the neighbor’s sick dog, and anything else they could think of.  So, it was Benjamin on Mondays, Hannah on Tuesdays, Rebekah Wednesdays, and Seth Thursdays.  Friday was my day and John got Saturdays and Sundays.
  5. Let things evolve, according to the needs of your family.  The COD evolved so that chores were added, along with privileges, per child, per day.  A favorite part of being the COD was getting to pick the bedtime story.
  6. Make the bedtime story non-negotiable, and make it a story that even the parents enjoy reading.  It’s a good time, if you’re in a cold climate, for a cup of warm milk (we used the neighbors’ goat milk gifts this way) with honey, which is relaxing and delicious (add cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla if you like).
  7. Begin developing and promoting the idea of personal libraries, as you read books like Frog and Toad, Hattie Rabbit, Barnyard Dance, Goodnight Gorilla, and Thomas the Tank Engine.  Those are just some that still make me smile as I recall taking walks with thermoses of tea and a few cookies (which the kids LOVE helping to make).  If the kids are older choose Little House books, such as The Long Winter.  If you don’t have this book, order it!  It’s .99 plus shipping, and all of us living today should read about those who came before us, who built this country through hardship and hunger such as we’ve never experienced.
  8. Make memories every day.  We have a favorite memory of taking the red wagon, the two younger kids riding with the picnic basket and quilt, picking blackberries along the side of the road in rural Arkansas, and settling in the shade to read Timothy Tattercoat.  Books inspire.  This book actually planted the seed in our kids’ minds to one day live in Colorado, which is the setting for Timothy Tattercoat. As the kids grew they enjoyed Louis L’Amour books about miners in Colorado – be on the lookout for books and outings (we know all the best museums wherever we’ve been) that make learning History fun and fascinating and unforgettable!
  9. It’s OK to take all day.  Tea parties all the time, any time, by any name are a great use of an entire day.  Because after all, the best part of this whole home-with-the-kids thing is becoming truly acquainted with your children.  This is done quite effortlessly and beautifully over tea.  We had History teas, where we discussed whatever anyone wanted to discuss from History, which can lead all kinds of marvelous directions; there were geography teas (look at maps and talk about countries).  “Look, there’s France – what do know about France?”  Hmm, your humming mind ponders, shall we do a unit study on France?  Google “homeschool unit study ideas” and remember to tailor these ideas to suit yourself!
  10. “Maybe,” you might ponder, “We should do a unit study on our state, and do a field trip approach, right in our own backyards.  What are the herbs coming up this spring, and how can we use them?  Let’s make a plan to gather rosehips, mint, and whatever else will work, and make the best ever herbal tea.  Maybe we’ll learn a bit about home remedies.”
  11. Pray for anointing as a parent, and you will soon know that you are uniquely qualified to teach your children, and you will learn right along with them.  In my case, I believe I learned more than anyone.
  12. Have “Dreaming Times.”  When our four kids were small I had a great need for an hour of absolute peace and quiet in the afternoons.  I would go into my room with a book (John and I always taught by example that reading is a treat), and say, “Don’t say my name for one hour.  Play alone and dream and we’ll do something wonderful when we’re done.”  They would very quietly sneak into each other’s bedrooms and play, but they knew I meant business about an hour of peace and quiet.  Now be prepared to talk about, and respect, their dreams.  And your own!
  13. Have a plan, but be ready to switch gears.  If after Dream Time you meant to go grocery shopping, but they’ve had a dream of building a fort and starting a “John Wayne Club” (yes, this was a thing), the groceries can wait.  Building and creating should always trump spending money.  This is where you can get creative with what’s in the pantry, and play happy music to accompany the beautiful sounds of children at play.  Let them see and hear you happy, as you sing and dance.
  14. Teach them good personal and homekeeping habits.  They can make their beds each morning and brush their teeth, before the “privileges” of outside play, or getting to learn something new about a Founding Father, or mixing and using their own finger paints, etc.  They can brush their teeth and pick up the living room (baskets for everything work well) before they get their bedtime story.
  15. You are the fearless leader, and part of that is meaning business and making House Rules.  These rules are for your sanity, and to make your children popular with others.  Ours were things like NO RUNNING IN THE HOUSE, NO YELLING AND SCREAMING IN THE HOUSE, RESPECT OTHERS’ PROPERTY, RESPECT OTHERS. PERIOD.  Then there was a written and publicly posted list of table manners:  No phone answering during meals, no gross or negative conversation subjects during meals, etc.
  16. Read and re-read daily scriptures on the Tongue from Proverbs, and let your kids see you forget the scriptures entirely, mess up, repent both to God and to them.  This practicing of what you preach, learning and growing as you go, will be a marvelous example, and will draw their hearts to you, and to God.  This will also help your marriage flourish, which is the very kindest thing you can do for your kids – the most important education you can give them (please pardon me for causing you pain if you’re a single parent – these rules still apply, and I wish I’d known them when I was a single parent!).
  17. Consider the power of your example as you make the most of this unexpected situation, as you show them love by sacrificing your normal routine and getting to truly know your child, and yourself.  Remember that your child is unique in all the world, indeed in all the history of the world, and that you have been given the gift of unexpected time together.  To love.
  18. Be sure they know that you see this time with them, this family time, as a marvelous treat, a wonderful blessing.  Tell them this.
  19. Don’t try to cram too much into your days.  Seek a lifestyle of His unforced rhythms of grace.
  20. Keep it simple, and remember, “A little child will lead you.”  But you must lead first.  And you must first be led.  By Him.  Amen.

Promised Booklist

Last week on The Homefront Show I mentioned a conversation with three of my children wherein we answered the question, “What five books do you think everyone should read?”  On the show I shared what we came up with (more than five each, sorry, but certainly less than an exhaustive list of our favorites) and promised to post the list, along with author’s names (which I didn’t share on the show).

So here goes, in the order, more or less, the titles were called out (with a few added I’ve since recalled and couldn’t possibly leave out, such as Little Joe Otter, The Capricorn Stone, and On the Banks of Plum Creek.

 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Little Joe Otter by Thornton W. Burgess

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein

The Bible

Little Women and Little Men by Louisa May Alcott

William Tell by Friedrich Schiller

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Angel at the Fence by Herman Rosenblatt

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Narnia Series by C. S. Lewis

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkein

Last of the Breed by Louis L’Amour

Daddy Longlegs by Jean Webster

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

All Sackett books by Louis L’Amour

By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman

George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl

Pilgrim’s Inn by Elizabeth Goudge

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Mutiny on the Bounty by William Bligh

A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle

Blessed Child by Ted Dekker and Bill Bright

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Heidi by Joanna Spyri

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

The Capricorn Stone by Madeleine Brent

Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

With the Old Breed by E. B. Sledge

Guns Up by Johnnie M. Clark

Medications by Marcus Aurelius

 

So, there you have it.  Maybe you can give yourself the Christmas gift of one of these great books.  Wanna great laugh with a book you can’t put down?  Daddy Longlegs and the sequel, Dear Enemy are unbeatable.  I read both of them aloud as we traveled a few years ago, and EVERYONE in the car begged for more each time I stopped for a rest.

Happy Reading to You!

And . . . REMEMBER TO TUNE IN TOMORROW, DECEMBER 15 AT 2:00 MOUNTAIN TO WWW.1360AM.CO FOR THE HOMEFRONT SHOW!

 

 

Seriously! Me Read The Lord of the Rings?!!!

old-books

I’ve stopped the lament about the dearth of edifying, smut-free, uplifting and thought-provoking books being published recently.  I’ve even taken a further step and am reading well-known classics (some are awful, by the way, and don’t deserve finishing) and lesser known but quite excellent books, such as Beverly of Graustark, and Elizabeth Goudge’s ever-so-marvelous Pilgrim’s Inn.

But today I have made up my mind to read books recommended by my family, books I’ve resisted for a number of years, throughout our home school journey.

hobbit-house

Experience says this is a good idea.  Case in point:  The HobbitSince high school when my girlfriend urged me repeatedly to read it, I have said, “It’s not my thing.  I know I won’t like it.”

My kids have also relentlessly pestered and badgered me to read The Hobbit, and finally, after years of resistance, I relented and read it.  And loved it!  And over the past three weekends, the three Hobbit movies have been our excellent viewing entertainment (greatly enhanced and understood because of first reading the book).

So where does all this go?  To the classic literature they have all read, the books they pity me in my ignorance of, and stubborn resistance about – The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

girl-in-read-reading

There seems to be a sort of secret affinity and understanding, a club of higher thinkers if you will, that those of us who haven’t read The LOTR books simply cannot fathom.  Therefore, it would behoove me, methinks, to read these literary masterpieces and make everyone in my house believe there is hope after all, that miracles do indeed happen, and that Mom is redeemable – perhaps even interesting – now that she is learning the difference between an orc and a ring wraith, and can even speak a bit of Gollum.

Here’s the Challenge:  Read things you don’t think you’ll like, just to make someone else happy.  Who knows what could happen?  Maybe the next time I want them to read something marvelous about which they have reservations, they’ll just read it!

What a concept – reading something new and different just because it will make someone else happy, just because it’ll give you insights into their strange conversations, just because it’s the way into “The LOTR Club” of higher thinking individuals.  This sounds like a no-lose deal.

And who knows, I might even like it, orcs and all.