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Homeschooling – More Than Books!

The longer I homeschool the more I realize that homeschooling is not just about the books. It isn’t just about teaching the kids their math facts or logic. It isn’t just about reading all the classics. It isn’t just about learning politics, world history, and even that which is beyond our world. Homeschooling is about something much simpler than all that. Homeschool is about teaching our children how to truly live in this life they’ve all been blessed with. It’s about learning life skills.

homeschooling

Of course homeschool includes all the ‘normal’ schoolwork, but it also includes so. much. more! Having the chance to be with our children during those times when most children are in traditional school gives us homeschooling families an extremely unique opportunity. Our children are blessed with the gift of learning life skills in a much greater quantity which will help them in their own lives as adults. This is especially important for children who have any kind of disability no matter how large or small that disability may be.

Here is an example:

My daughter, who has Asperger’s, has some motor planning problems (among other things) and lacks some common sense. Prior to this last one or two years, she couldn’t tie her shoes, braid, open up a can of food, unscrew certain lids which weren’t difficult, wash her own hair, dress her self correctly, do any amount of kitchen work, acknowledge certain unsafe situations, etc.  Through much diligence from my husband and myself, she has been able to overcome some great obstacles.

Last summer, I decided that if she were to ever mature into adulthood – complete with moving out, having a family, or going to college – she would definitely need to know many other skills that don’t fit into any school transcript or standardized test. I’m talking about cooking, cleaning, laundry, menu planning, budgeting, navigating the town, how to handle emergency situations, time management, etc. Of course, if she were in regular school, she would still get some of this, but not near what she truly needs to be successful in living a successful, independent life.

I have started introducing her to many life skills even though they are very challenging for her. Thankfully, God has blessed me with a stubborn streak, or we never would have gotten over the first obstacle. ;)

Over the last several months we’ve been focusing on cooking.

This serves many purposes. When one learns to cook, they not only benefit themselves, they are also able to bless others. I also believe that it is great therapy for kids who struggle with motor planning problems. There are many times when both hands are needed or one needs to cross the midline to do a cooking task. It requires some physical strength, mental focus, and time management skills as well.

Mastering cooking skills is time-consuming and more times than not, kitchen mishaps are a normal occurrence. When one has a learning disability, acquiring a certain skill isn’t something that comes quickly or easily. It takes a ton of practice, sometimes requiring the person to perform the task hundreds of times before there is any light at the end of the tunnel. Even the simplest of tasks like taking the twisty off the bread bag, opening the spice container or a ziplock bag, opening the milk, or dumping cereal into a bowl can require days and days of practice to figure it out.

On most days, I have my daughter make breakfast. To some this may seem mean, but I see it as a unique learning opportunity that she would never get if she was always having to hastily catch the school bus. It took her a month or two of repeated practice to learn how to crack the eggs without crushing the egg in her hand. It has taken several more months for her to remember things like turning the burner off or limiting the amount of pepper and salt in the meal. Learning how to stir the eggs without sloshing it all out of the pan proved to be yet another challenge.

I’ve had my share of ‘interesting’ egg inventions. But, after a season, she can make scrambled eggs well – most of the time. Toast was a lesson all its own. Buttering bread is not an easy skill for someone with motor planning issues, but after months of practice, she can now do that too.

Another thing that became her responsibility was packing our family lunch on our homeschool co-op day. After an entire year of practice, we can count on having a ‘normal’ lunch which actually tastes good. Recently, she randomly took it upon herself to make the family spaghetti. Even though it tasted terrible the family ate every last noodle. She was so proud of herself. She has since done this meal several times….every time it gets better and better.

I believe insisting that my daughter learn these skills has not only provided her with another tool for adulthood, but also helped her gain some much needed confidence.  I think she is realizing that she can actually take care of herself and even others.

A few of the learning skills on my ‘life skills list’ are things like:

  • Laundry and other chores
  • Meal Planning
  • Taking care of the animals
  • Scheduling
  • Grocery Shopping
  • Budgeting
  • Personal hygiene
  • First aid/CPR
  • Street Smarts training (avoiding being the victim)

There are so many other things that need to be learned. Our next obstacle will be learning how to do the laundry. This one might be more about me not wanting to do it anymore but either way, it is an important step towards adulthood!

If there was one main thing I would make sure is happening, it would be to not do for your children what they can learn to do themselves. Insist they do it. Even if it takes them 5 minutes to do what would take you 10 seconds, keep up that stubborn streak. Don’t give in because it’s easier if you do it. If they struggle, walk them through it patiently. If they have motor problems, help with hand placement and think outside the box to get the skill learned. With diligence, this is going to be a very important part of your homeschool experience!

Again, homeschooling has more to do with life and less to do with books.

What are you doing in your homeschool that has nothing to do with typical school? Please share your experience!

Heather F (3 Posts)

Heather is a Christian gal who lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, where she married her high school sweetheart, Levi, 2001. She is newer to homeschool and tries to “keep it simple” while teaching her three “active” children with Classical Conversations. Heather also juggles the responsibilities of being a part-time emergency room RN and police officer’s wife. She has a reputation of creating kitchen disasters, but loves collecting new recipes and learning about natural, holistic living. She is also a wanna-be urban homesteader and has a bunch of chickens, a couple goats, and a rabbit!


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A Good Work Ethic

How to Instill a Good Work Ethic in your Kids @hsbapostWork ethic: it might mean different things to different individuals. To me it means doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, the way it needs to be done, and without complaint, or expecting something in return.

Come close; I have a secret to tell you.

I’m lazy. I do not like to work. My work ethic is not one of which I am proud. 

There. It’s out in the open now. No more secret! I procrastinate; I struggle to get things done; I ‘fall off the wagon’ way too often. I have to work at it constantly {uh, no pun intended there}.

What business do I have to write a post about a good work ethic? Because I have firsthand experience that without it life can be down-right miserable! Miserable for others and for the person with the poor work ethic. And because I have a work ethic that needs major improvement I know the importance of instilling it when young. Old dogs *ahem* can learn new tricks. It’s just much more difficult.

My kids are teens and while I won’t say it is too late for them, oh how I could have saved some trouble if we’d worked on this whole thing when they were, say, 3 years old or 8 years old and kept it up. Fortunately, this post isn’t about what I should have done; what’s done is done. Moving on.

No, this post is about why a good work ethic is still important and what can be done, no matter what the age, to help instill this in our children. And ourselves if we need it.

Why does it matter?

For this question, it depends on where your loyalties lie. For a Christian this will matter because we are created in God’s image and are representatives of Christ. God is who He is regardless of how we behave but if we present ourselves in a negative fashion- have a poor work ethic- then non-Christians will not look favorably toward God. “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” {1 Corinthians 10:31b- KJV} It is for God’s glory that we should have a good work ethic.

For those without a Christian testimony, the reasons will be very different. Money is usually the driving force behind a good work ethic. Those who do what they should, and more, often get more promotions and higher pay. There can be the inner drive to simply do a good job but I venture to say it is for selfish gain.

In both cases, a good work ethic will be beneficial throughout life. For the Christian, the promotions, increases in pay, recognition by man, are all just extras. It is also good to have because it will lead one to be a productive person. It will help foster an “I can do it” mentality that is often missing in employees. There are many who say instead, “someone else can do it.” It will also help them to want to do work for others because they will see it as a good thing.

How do we instill a good work ethic?

Now, I’m sure you remember I said I don’t have a great work ethic. With that the words that follow are compiled from other sources, for the most part. When trying to improve my own work ethic I have had to look elsewhere. Here are some tips I’ve found to instill a good work ethic:

Be the model you wish for your children to follow.

If you want them to be consistent and to have good follow-through, it means you have to do this yourself. It takes time and effort. It is worth it. And it needs to be more action than words. Kids will follow what you do much more than what you say.

I venture to say that this is possibly the most difficult part of instilling a good work ethic. As parents, we must have it first {or be trying really diligently to get it!} to be a good model.

Have a routine.

Regardless if you start instilling good work ethic when your child is 2 years old or 15 years old, a routine helps them see a start and finish. They can see how the work will progress and hopefully can take pride in each step’s accomplishment. Knowing that there is an end makes starting much easier.

Be reasonable in expectations.

A child of 2 cannot do all that a teen of 15 can do. But at the same time, the 15 year old should have high expectations placed before them. It will help them to have high expectations as well.

Be consistent.

It seems almost silly to even put this here because it should be common sense. If we want something to happen consistently, then we must consistently work toward that end. A good work ethic is not realistically going to happen overnight, or even a few nights. It takes time, patience, and consistency.

Be positive.

I am not one to say never point out a weakness. We all have areas where there can be improvement. However, focusing more on the good is important. Point out strengths and work to keep those as strengths. At the same time help turn weakness into strengths by being positive. Praise a job well done. Thank a child for doing something unexpected.

Don’t do it for them.

I cannot stress this enough. Perhaps one of the biggest hampers of a good work ethic is that parents or others in a guardianship position do not let the kids do the work for themselves. It’s sometimes easier to pick up the toys ourselves, or sweep up a mess they’ve made, than let them do it. It takes time and patience when we let them do it. But it will serve them, and you, well in the long run.

As I’ve written these things out, it seems they are all common sense. We all know what we need to do. But the doing it, that’s the tough part. It’s not easy, especially if like me you lack the traits you wish to model. It’s not impossible however.

If you would like any of the external sites that I went to for help with this, just let me know and I’d be happy to pass them on to you.

How do you instill a good work ethic?

North Laurel (7 Posts)

Blossom- "North Laurel" to the online world- lives in Ohio with her husband and two teens, homeschooling the Charlotte Mason way with Ambleside Online. She is graciously allowed to be a moderator for the Ambleside Online Forum. North Laurel loves to read, be on the computer, and learn. You can read her blogging about homeschooling, book reviews and life in general at North Laurel Home & School.


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Sex Ed For Homeschoolers, Part 2: Transparency

In my last article here at The Homeschool Post, I began a discussion about a potential flaw I have noticed in some conservative Christian homeschool families as it relates to teaching our kids about human sexuality. 

In that article I shared how we produced a podcast called: “How Do I Talk To My Kids About Sex?” and how we asked a few dozen homeschool graduates how they thought their parents did teaching them about sex. Consistently these students reported that they felt their parents did a poor job. They said that their parents either ignored the discussion, got to the discussion too late, kept it purely biological or handed them some purity curriculum without discussion.

We found one other interesting fact producing that podcast. When I asked kids to participate, I had almost 100% participation. However, when I asked parents for a response to the same question: “Do you think you did a good job teaching your kids about sex?,” I had only ONE parent submit a response.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that some of the parents I asked were just too busy or technologically unable to record their voice and submit their response to our podcast. However, since I asked nearly 25 couples and only one individual responded, I chose to investigate why the graduates were so willing to respond and record themselves online and why the parents were unwilling.

Follow-up conversations with those parents led to some interesting discussions. When I shared with the parents that the majority of adult children thought their parents missed the mark, most parents immediately had a response (defense) in one of the three following ways:

  • They thought they had done a “good enough” job.
  • They thought they “did a better job than their parents had done with them.”
  • They thought their kids had expectations that were too high.

So right off the bat, let me clarify, this blog post is not an evaluation of parenting and teaching. In fact, we started the podcast with an admission that we believed we had failed in our attempt to teach our oldest sons about sex.

Instead, I want to discuss another response from parents who were clearly unwilling to go online and talk AT ALL about this subject. What we noticed was that some parents were struggling with the idea of being honest out loud and in front of their kids. Simply put, these parents were struggling with FEAR.

pridefearThese parents were fearful to be truthful with their kids for a number of reasons, but mostly because it would expose their own path and some of their own failures. These parents were worried that their kids would find out about their past. Some of these parents had sex before marriage, some had a history with multiple partners, broken engagements and other stories they just did not want revealed. It reminded me of a similar situation a few years ago. I knew two couples who were hiding big secrets from their children and worked hard to keep these secrets. One couple had a prior marriage. They did not want their kids to know that they had each been married and had no desire to ever discuss this topic or its effect on their current marriage. The other couple had secretly eloped and allowed their kids to believe a made up story about a wedding that was staged later.

These parents were living in fear of the truth. As safe as I promised to make the discussion, they did not want to be transparent in front of their children. Why is this? The first thing we found is that they didn’t want to give their children the idea it was okay to make bad choices, act on those bad choices and then discover that life would turn out okay like it had for them. They didn’t want to give their kids a license to sin.

The second and bigger reason we discovered that these parents did not want to talk out loud is that they are just plain ashamed of their past. Fellow homeschooling parents – this blog post is no longer about educating your kids about sex, but about Christian parents choosing to live in the Gospel.

It is for this exact situation that we can go to the Gospel. It is  not about who we were, but it’s about who we are now in Christ. Think about it for a moment: the beauty of the Gospel has the power to save everyone and God doesn’t rank us according to our sinful past. Your past is no more shameful than my past. The Gospel saves sinners. It removes fear and it allows us to be transparent.

This is what is sorely lacking: the willingness to be transparent with one another. The Christian Homeschooling environment often has two horrible ingredients: Pride and Fear. Homeschooling parents are too prideful and too fearful to be honest with one another.

When we live as loved, we are free from our chains and we are free to be honest with one another. When we know that God loves us 100%, we are free to tell our kids about our past. When we live as loved, husbands are free to tell their wives about a hidden sexual addiction. Wives are free to tell husbands about a hidden eating disorder.

Let me push a little farther:  if you are a parent like me who struggles to be truthful with your kids about your own past, are you truly grasping the grace of God that comes in the Gospel? Are you living as loved? If so, then you are free.

Even though I began this discussion about sex education, I am finishing it on the Gospel. Homeschooling parents, live as loved! Trust that God has your back. Live in the freedom to be honest with your kids, model transparency and start talking about sex, before someone else does. You can point them to Jesus and away from the world’s bankrupt view of sex.

From one dad to another,

 

Fletch (13 Posts)

Fletch has been married for the past 22 years. He and his wife Kendra are the proud parents of five sons and three daughters, all of whom keep them laughing and on their toes. During the day he can be found fixing people's teeth, but in his spare time you can find Fletch stretching out a pair of flip-flops, creating a new pizza recipe, playing the drums, or rescuing a piece of his tie-dye wardrobe from his wife's donation pile. You can find him online where he writes on his personal blog, theMangoTimes and every other Friday you can hear him on the HomeschoolingIRL podcast which he cohosts with his wife.


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