Saturday, October 25

Ditch Your Second Hat

I was talking with my sister-in-law today and she asked, "How do you switch between being Mommy and being teacher to your boys? How do you get the respect a teacher would get when you're also the mother?" She is a former preschool teacher who is homeschooling her 4.5 year old daughter now so I can see why she's asking this question. I think it's something we all struggle with in the beginning. But we don't have to.

My answer was simply that you don't switch back and forth. Just be her mother who is taking time to teach her as you are going. You're not being a teacher sometimes and a mother at other times. You're simply being an intentional mother all the time.

My mother took time to teach me to sew and cook and balance a checkbook. She didn't sit me down at the table and say, "I'm going to transform into your home economics teacher now so you need to relate to me differently." She just showed me how things work and now I can make a shirt and cook a meal and make money come out of a rock just like my mom can.

I think that's how God designed the relationship to be. The world has done a good job of making parents think that they aren't qualified to be their child's teacher, but God says otherwise:
These are the words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
Now this passage is talking about teaching children of God's work in their past and present and not about social studies and economics, but that's not my point. My point is that God sees parents and teachers as the same thing. Parents are teachers from the moment that child is born. You teach them the most important things in life and when you think about it you get to teach them the things that are the hardest to for the children to grasp! The ways of God, speaking a native language, how to make right choices, building good relationships, the importance of sharing and putting yourself last. Oi! If we can do the hard stuff then Algebra should be a piece of cake.

I sit my boys down at times during the day for learning activities and I just am who I am. When they write me notes they say, "I love you because you teach me stuff." And I'm cool with that. You should be too. Take off your other hat and let it go.

Monday, October 20

Next Up

We're going to do a unit on George Muller and the U.K. Here's some of the ideas I have so far:
  • Read the YWAM Biography of George Muller aloud.
  • Make several maps in a variety of ways: labeling the British Isles, flip books of each region of the UK and even the topographical salt dough map that I've never really wanted to do badly enough (and really still don't but it seems like a rite of passage that each student must conquer. How we'll actually do it while S is awake is beyond me).
  • Draw the national symbols of each region (I'm learning that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not actually countries -- correct me if I'm wrong. I've been researching it for a while tonight.)
  • Read "You Wouldn't Want to be a Victorian Servant" because it looks like an interesting way to broach the subject of child labor and "You Wouldn't Want to Be a 19th Century Coal Miner" because it looks like a kid-friendly way to get a feel for some historical reality.
  • Watch a travel DVD of England and Wales.
  • Study a little Wordsworth poetry and write some of our own versions.
  • Read an abridged version of Oliver Twist.
  • Visit/volunteer at a local shelter/mission.
  • Think about some of the inventions that came out of the U.K.
  • Study the Industrial Revolution.
  • Learn some of the vocabulary of the Brits.
  • Traditional Foods.
Are there any other ideas that you can think of? I'm hoping they have fun with it!

Tuesday, October 14

Week 8

We are cruising along in school at a terrific pace. Maybe too terrific.

Yesterday we (they)
  • read aloud from Nate Saint's biography and discussed it briefly,
  • worked on memorizing Psalm 23,
  • colored in and labeled a map of South America,
  • did several pages of math,
  • hand addressed 20 envelopes,
  • played a Latin number game online,
  • analyzed and diagrammed sound transmission,
  • did a keyword outline about South America,
  • looked up facts about Ecuador,
  • drew a rainforest primate,
  • solved a logic puzzle,
  • listened to B read
  • and labeled some nouns.
I would love to find out what the first and fifth graders at the school down the street accomplished yesterday.

Oh -- nothing. It was a holiday. I'm not sure which one of us missed out. Today will be less. And therefore (hopefully) more.

Friday, October 10

How Do You Do It With Three?

I'm not going to lie to you. Homeschooling two and managing a toddler at the same time is NOT a walk in the park. So, when a new friend (with two who is thinking of making it three) asked me today how it works for us I gave her a pretty good look at my reality. And my reality is that we live a very interrupted life.

  • S is LOUD. He just talks at full volume and then he screams the rest of the time. So, you can imagine how many sentences I DON'T finish in a day.
  • S is a boy and he likes to wrestle and push his brothers out of any chair they are (finally) sitting in.
  • S is a complete mess-maker. He can open the fridge and turn the Brita spigot on, splash in the puddle of water, climb up on the counter to get a paper towel to clean up his own mess (he's a smart mess-maker), find his brothers' unfinished cups of milk, walk them into the living room and pour them on the couch, leaving the paper towels unrolled and the refrigerator door open all in about twelve seconds.
  • S likes to do what the other boys are doing even though it goes against my better judgment to give him the markers...
  • S is incredibly cute and when he cracks his highly-distractable brothers up I have to tell myself that it's o.k. to stop and laugh with them.
You get the picture. I am thinking of setting up a video camera to see just how crazy our days can actually be. But I've learned a few things.
  • Highly distractable boys CAN still listen above the fray of a disappointed toddler --it's okay to just press on.
  • A boy can move to the next chair if the toddler wants the one he's sitting in.
  • While mopping up water, blotting milk off the couch, and re-rolling the paper towels I can still give basic math instruction, listen to a prayer recited in Latin, and tell someone how to spell a word.
  • Toddlers are completely washable.
  • Laughing is okay and will not detract from the education of the day.
And perhaps the most important current lessons of my life at this stage are...

There is absolutely no reason to be impatient with the boys because the toddler is being unreasonable.


A first grader is probably better served playing with the toddler than spending three hours completing school work that will not reciprocate the relationship.