Sunday, September 27, 2009

Asking the Questions

I have been asking homeschooling parents three questions:

WHAT is the most important thing for you to teach your child?

WHY is that important to you?

HOW have you gone about teaching them this?

These are big, important questions that one could blog about for YEARS (in fact, I kinda plan to!) but there are some brave souls who have given me their answers, along with permission to share them on this Blog.

J is a Veteran homeschooler with six children ranging from little ones to teens. This is her answer:

The most important thing for me to teach my children is to love the Lord with all their heart, and have the skills to serve him faithfully.

This is my number one priority because this is the only thing that lasts for eternity.

I want to enjoy the forevers with my children, rather than without them.

From my perspective I feel that I am failing in my goal - I see all the problems and mistakes and sins (both mine and theirs), yet the feedback I receive tells me that my children are growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.

To achieve my goal, I am currently implementing a more spiritual focus to our learning, so that it does not revolve so completely around head knowledge, but that the facts that we learn are absorbed into our heart and hands and become applied to our lives. To achieve this I am attaching more importance to learning to resolve conflicts rather than extinguishing them and to refocusing on keeping God at the centre of everything rather than on the sidelines. Bible reading, prayer and singing are becoming a bigger part of our day.

We are also gleaning wisdom from the delight directed approach and looking for a wider range of ways to understand the world, ourselves and God. Currently this is taking its form in the acquiring of more practical skills - sewing, crochet, cooking, etc for the girls and working on the job with Dad for our son.

These are things that are right for us at this moment. I fully expect to be changing our implementation methods as we change as individuals and as a family. The one constant is to seek Gods guidance and try to follow it.

I would LOVE to hear YOUR answer to the questions! Please either share in the comments or e-mail me at TasJess gmail Answers can be as anonymous as you like or contain links to your own blog com

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A walk through our day

I want to walk you through our day What! Why? How? style!

What do you do to start each day?

We sing! We start each day with family worship and the first part of that is always singing.


Lots of reasons!

First and foremost we do this to worship God and get our hearts and heads right with Him.

To write Eternal Truths on their hearts. While we sing various praise songs, scripture songs and hymns they are learning about God and how we relate to Him. God thinks songs are so important, He dedicated at least one book to them in the Bible!

We also sing together because it is hard to stay mad with someone you are singing with (scientific fact I'm sure!). Whatever scuffles have occurred as we started our day can be let go as we hit the "reset" button. If there have been no scuffles to smooth over, it still draws us closer together.

Lung capacity, blood oxygenation and heart rate are all improved by SINGING. This aids in improving concentration levels and productivity. True story!

Singing is wonderful speech therapy. While we haven't had any issues with speech difficulties (unless you count teaching how to keep quiet!) in this house, singing does serve to improve the kid's grasp of the physical actions of speech. They are exercising their speech muscles and controlling their breathing, clearly forming words and having a go at sounds that they may usually avoid in their normal speech.

Singing uses both the Left and Right brain, exercising it completely and creating neural pathways that will be used for language, math and all those other "academic" ventures. The link between math and music has been clearly made by scientists and it is pretty obvious when you think of all the patterns etc. we find in music.


We take it in turns to choose one song each, starting with the oldest child - youngest child then finishing with Mum. My choice is usually our Hymn of the Week. I randomly select a hymn that I know that I'd like to teach the kids (some weeks are more random than others, sometimes there is a hymn that fits in beautifully with another aspect of our life or schooling, other times it is just luck of the draw).

We always finish with two songs to prepare us for prayer.

The first is "I Have Hands" which ends with:

I have knees that bend by my chair,
I have knees that bend by my chair,
I have hands that fold in prayer,
when I talk to Jesus

Then in our "prayer stance" we sing Into My Heart

If I were to give ten tips for family worship with preschoolers and toddlers they would be:

1. Use the KISSS principle – Keep it Short and Simple, Sweetheart! One song and a prayer done well has far more impact than a twenty minute session which leaves everyone in tears – including Mum!

2. Keep things predictable. Have worship at a fairly predictable time. After breakfast works for us, everyone is awake and fed and linking it to a feed time means we don’t forget. We don’t forget to eat very often in this house! Also if little ones know what to expect, they will be more likely to cooperate.

3. Have REALISTIC expectations. You are not going to have the Von Trapp family singing harmony in your lounge room. Expect there to be disasterous days. Expect to be singing solo for the first year or two of worship (I did!). Expect to have to teach your children how to behave during worship. Then you are less likely to be disappointed!

4. Realise that teaching and training your children is in and of itself an act of worship. It is hard to feel worshipful when you have to stop “Jesus Loves Me” ten times to administer correction, but correcting and teaching your children IS an act of worship.

5. Stick with it. If you are having worship as a part of the rhythm of your home, it is because it is important to you. Focus on the long term, the ETERNAL, benefits of family worship. It makes it easier to start family worship yet again when it resulted in tears the previous five times.

6. Personalise it to suit your family. At the moment, we have one song each, our pre-prayers songs, family prayer and The Lord’s Prayer. Totally different to what we did last year and I dare say it will change again next year. Do what works, and if it doesn’t work, change it.

7. Have clear expectations. Before worship starts, tell the kids what you want them to do with their hands, feet, eyes, mouth etc. during singing time. Eventually, get THEM to tell YOU and their other siblings what the expectations are (firstborns especially love this in my experience!) then when those things are NOT done, it is clear defiance and it can be dealt with in the way your family deals with defiance. There will be no space for argument or compromise and kids respond to clear boundaries.

8. Include them in choosing songs. This gives a feeling of ownership. At the moment I could quite cheerfully NEVER sing “The Wise Man Built His House Upon A Rock” OR “Whose the King of the Jungle” but we sing them every day because the boys love them.

9. Don’t expect to see fruit straight away. My kids still go mute during worship, then the other week while he was wandering around the back yard Farm Boy belts out “How Great Thou Art” at the top of his lungs. It gets written on their hearts, even if you can’t see it.

10. Make A Joyful Noise! Find a reason to laugh during worship. “I have fingers that tickle, tickle, tickle” is a verse of our pre-prayer song and it always makes us laugh. You can take a moment to tell the kids one reason you are thankful for them, one thing that makes them special. Whatever it is, make worship a pleasure, not a chore!

What about you? How you start your schooling day? Why do you do things that way? What, specifically, do you do?

Leave a comment or blog about it and link back in the comments!

Come back next week for the next step in our walk through our day.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Stating my intentions

I have a blog already. It is more of an online journal really and as such it is a glimpse into my mind. Full of snippets, topics, unfinished thoughts, amusing anecdotes and more. So why am I starting another one?

Well, as I spend more time communicating with homeschooling parents I am fast coming to the realisation that too many are starting their journey IN THE WRONG PLACE.

Too many are starting with investigating curriculum, researching approaches and swapping organisational techniques. All of these are good things, but they are not the places to start.

We need to start with three little questions. WHAT? WHY? HOW?

WHAT are you trying to teach?

WHY are you trying to teach it?

HOW are you going to teach it?

If you get the what and the why sorted out, the how will largely be taken care of.

So on this Blog I will be asking people to share their answers to those questions. I will also share some of my answers and I will share snippets of my own journey with my children, but me sharing me is not the primary purpose of this Blog. I want to inspire you to ask yourself every day:

What am I teaching?

Why am I teaching it?

How am I going about teaching it?