Teach your Boys (or any child you love!)

Boys

Hi, I realized the other day that I am not typing in all the blogs I am writing in my head lately. I have reacted to the political hotbed, the gorilla, the attacks on US soil, the crocodiles and so many other topics. However, I have not been able to get responses completed and produced.

Okay, that is only partly true. Really, I also don’t know that I have the ability or the maturity to react to all that is going on around us with enough grace or wisdom to respond lovingly.

What I have been thinking about is teaching my boys. Yes, we home educate them and yes we are teaching them skills other than “school” skills like gardening, cooking, and taking care of animals. But, I have been thinking about teaching them what is even more important than that: the Lord. With things as they are and are moving toward, I am not sure how much longer I will be able to teach my children at home. I am not sure how much longer I will be able to openly train them in God’s ways.

So, I am feeling a real burden to teach them the things of God NOW. Not waiting. Right now. Yes, I am busy. Yes, I get stressed. Yes, I have a very long to-do list. But, isn’t one of Satan’s greatest tools a “too busy mom?” Think about it. She has to do so much work to keep her family moving in the right direction and then has outside pressures. She is busy, busy, busy. Sometimes she is just keeping up with the neighbor getting her son into another sport. Sometimes she is keeping up with a Facebook friend and adding a new item to her menu or exercise plan or reading list. Sometimes she is keeping up with Pinterest and adding new decorations to her home. Sometimes though it is just the laundry, dishes, and life of living with a family that keeps us so busy. None of these things are bad. They are just busy.

This past school year we started going through a study from Not Consumed  that is called Foundations of Faith. Find the link to the study here if you like. (I am not getting anything from your buying this item should you choose to do so.) It doesn’t give a lot of doctrine but it asks a lot of questions. It starts with ones like “Who is God?” and “Why am I here?” The author lists some verses you might want to check out and then there is space to add in lots of the verses you find yourself. She also brings up judging and discernment and how they are different.

She moves on later in the study to matters of “What we Believe,” and  purity, dress, media, alcohol, and money as well as other topics come up here. She doesn’t tell you what to teach your children. She just asks about what your family believes and gives you questions to think about and discuss with your children. This opens the door to talk to your children about your family’s beliefs from scripture. My favorite part is that it forces me to think about what my husband and I believe (Sometimes I even have to ask him!) and to see if those are Biblical beliefs or just a tradition that we grew up with in our homes.

Do you know what you believe about modesty, media, marriage, or money? Do your children know what you believe? Do you know why you believe those things? Do you know what scripture says about those topics and do your children? This is a wonderful study about the things that really matter. In a world where so many people are telling us what to believe and why, our children should know what we believe as Godly parents who are seeking the TRUTH and where we find that in scripture.

So, what do you do if you begin to study scripture and what you believe (or thought you believed) doesn’t line up with the Word of God? Well, this is where the toilet meets the floor. You know–that wet dirty ring around the bottom of your toilet? Come on, you know what I am talking about! I can just see some of you looking away like I can actually see you. Others are now thinking about the last time they gave that area a swipe with a disinfectant. If you have boys, that ring is often yellow and smelly! That is the gross place where reality lives. Stay with me here. (Okay, if you must go and clean, do so. I’ll wait for you. ) You have to get in the Word and find out if your thoughts, your beliefs, your reality is really God’s. If it isn’t, well, you’ll have to decide what to do then yourself. Do you really want to go against God? My suggestion is that when we find those things that don’t line up, that WE CHANGE (gasp!). Yes, we move our thinking to align with God’s.

And, if you don’t know where you stand on some of these topics, it might be a time to study a bit more yourself or with your spouse. If you don’t know what you believe, how will your children know? They are going to get their belief systems, ideas, morals, and reality from somewhere. Adults, media, friends, and teachers are all too happy to share their ideas, but your children need the Word of God. They need a sure grounding in the one place that never changes, that never moves away from what is right and good and pure. God’s Word is that place.

Teach your boys (and all your children!) God’s Word and your belief in it. Someone else will gladly teach them something else, if not.

Love your boys and teach them!

Ways to Review Hands-On

So, we are working on American this year in our education: artists, geography, history sentences. We work with a group called Classical Conversations (more about CC another time) and we are working on Cycle 3: American. It is great to have a collective topic to learn and this is our second time through it, so we are adding in more and more background.

My boys learn best using kinesthetic methods (a fancy word for hands-on), so I tried to think of some things we could do to help them learn better. I came up with salt dough maps.

The recipe is easy: 1/2-3/4 cup water, 1 cup salt, 1 cup flour. (I used the cheapest flour & salt the store had since we won’t be eating it.) Mix in a big bowl–tada! It is done. 🙂

Following along with our American theme, we have been learning US geography. Our boys have learned the states and capitals as well as the major rivers, mountains, and prominent features. Go ahead, ask me where Mt. Mitchell is or where Pamlico Sound is. I am learning right along with them this year! The last time we went through this cycle was our first CC year, and I was a bit overwhelmed with three little ones and #4 on the way. This time I am taking advantage of their learning to learn it for myself. 🙂

So, yesterday we made the United States from salt dough. Each boy used a batch for themselves and then a batch split for the mountains. Cowboy made little balls and connected them, but Engineer just made “hot dogs” on top. They decided this time they would not draw the states with a toothpick. I was hoping at least someone would, but I did say that they could do it how they liked: adding states, mountains, rivers, trails, Great Lakes, and other features. We were able to talk about each state as we talked about the placement of the mountains. (Note to Moms: you must draw in the States, if you choose to or add the mountains BEFORE the dough dries unless you want to just paint them.)  My Engineer starting by drawing a map & the others soon followed his lead.

salt dough maps 3

salt dough maps 5salt dough maps 8

The boys found working adding dough around the edges & then working inward toward the center worked best. Maine was hardest!

We will add those features we have not yet covered as we do cover them in class. This has been a good review for us and we will get to review again as we add trails and deserts, prominent features and canals. We will use colors to differentiate locations/features as well as sticking on labels the boys make.

Here the Farmer is adding the space between Florida and Texas. I hope all those states will forgive us for recreating their borders!

Children learn in different ways. My four boys all seem to like to do things with their hands, so this is one way we can do that. We have a ways to go before these are completed but I thought I would share what we are doing to review and create a more hands-on way to learn.

Here the Engineer slowly adds states and the Farmer and Cowboy use toothpicks to get the edges “right.” We also used flat cups for rolling pins. Be sure your dough is not too thin as it will crack apart.

Here are our finished products for today:

We will paint and add to our maps but I thought this was a pretty good start! 🙂

Love Your Boys (no matter how they learn)! Blessings as we all continue to grow.

P.S. I know that sometimes we like to do review weeks (other than at the 6 week breaks) so I am adding this to the Halfahundredacrewood link-up page so others might use the idea. Enjoy!

Our Choice for our Boys: home education

The boys

I have often heard of others who talk of how they want their children to return to school after a break, how they cannot wait to have “their homes back” when their children get on the bus after a snow day (or several), how they could never do what I do and don’t have the patience or the education or the time…the list goes on… to be with their children more than they already are now.

Stop.

Before you comment with mean things about why you think it is okay that you send your children to school, let me say it: it is okay that you send your children to school. But, may I also say, it is okay that I keep my children at home to educate them because it is NOT about me.  It is also not through my own power that I do it.  The boys miss each other and enjoy each other during the day. The Dancer could get used to the boys being gone, only seeing them for a bit after school (and homework and lessons) before bed. But why?  We want the boys to be friends with one another and love one another first, after God.

Let me say it though for all to hear read:

I do not have enough patience.

I am not educated enough: though I have a Bachelor of Arts in high school and middle school English Education and reading (read former high school and middle school English teacher), I do not know so many things the boys ask about daily.  My boys were the first I ever taught to read or count or add.  I feel I have a lack of knowledge on a regular basis.

I do not have time to myself  to read or go potty without interruption (Yes, this is an issue for me. Yes, it is a big deal. And yes, I know I mentioned it before), or write when I want, or even pray when I want to most days.

My days are currently dictated by others.  But, in many ways, is that not the definition of motherhood? We lay down our lives for our children every day. Moms whose children are educated outside the home do this too, but home educating moms do it to a greater extent because they are always WITH their children.  We give up our freedom, so that we can love these little men that the Lord has blessed us with for such a short season.  It is a blessing and a responsibility, and it truly is for such a short season.  The Lord will bless this time that I give to my sons to train, support, teach, and lead them.  But I know that it is not really me but Him. He is the trainer, support system, teacher, and leader they need. And, I need Him, too. He gives me the patience, the knowledge, the desire to learn, everything.  I can only educate my children at home because He gives me the strength to do it.

The Farmer and I chose to home educate our boys for academic reasons as well as other reasons. While we do not feel mandated by God to home educate our children, we do believe that He will bless this time we spend with them teaching and instructing them. This week alone we have been able to read the gospel accounts to the boys about Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.  Their handwriting work has been passages that we read from those gospels.  We have also been able to work with them on memory work which included the three characteristics of light, the list of coordinating conjunctions, the commutative laws of addition & multiplication, and the geography of Central and south Central Americas. (Did I mention my oldest isn’t ten yet?! I never learned some of the things they are learning until I started teaching them.)  That isn’t even all of it that we did with Classical Conversations! (But that will have to be another post.)  We are choosing to classically educate our children at home, with the Lord’s help, because we believe it is the right thing to do.  It is our choice for our boys.  And, it is okay if it is not your choice for your boys.  Let me say it again, it is our choice, but it does not have to be your choice.

Not all families choose to home educate their children, but as parents, we have to stick together and not judge one another.  We have to respect the choices of others for the sake of our boys. When home educating parents see a family dropping off children at school or putting children on the bus, the home educating mom does not pull over to a stop and ask the other mom why she is doing so.  She does not ask a mom in the store where her children are and what they are learning at school that day.  She does not think poorly about the family that sends their children to school. Could the courtesy go both ways? Could a mom who sees a home educating family at Sam’s Club NOT ask why the children are there? Could she NOT ask what they are learning today? Could she NOT question them about the presidents or their math facts? We love all love our boys and are working to give them the best lives possible, in a school outside our home or in our living room. Let’s pray for one another and build one another up; we will all be stronger for the decision.

So the next time you see a passel of boys out while you are getting lunch in the middle of the day, it just might be us on a field trip. Instead of thinking, “Why are those boys out of school?”  Could you think instead, “I wonder what those boys are learning today?  I wonder what great things the Lord is teaching them through that mom right there (who does look a bit tired and sometimes a bit frazzled)?  Let me pray for her and her job of educating those men of tomorrow.”

I am taking time to pray for you and your family today. Please take a minute and pray for that mom and those boys or that family hanging out with the monsters.  😉  We all need it!

What do you think, could you do it?  Mikeandthefamily

Love your boys.