Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts

Large Family Q&A - 5 Kids Under 7



People are curious about large families.  Curious enough to ask awkward questions of strangers (I speak from experience).  I don't blame them - I am even curious about families that are bigger than mine!

With five kids, I suppose we officially fall into the "large family" category, so I had a little fun with it recently and did a video with some common questions people seem to have about big families.  Now you don't have to ask me awkward questions, because I answered them for you here!  Watch the video (or scroll down for the short answers!).





1. How many children do you have? 
Five!


2. What are their ages? 

7, 5, 3, 2, 4 months.


3. What is your family structure? 
They're all our biological children.


4. How old were you when you had your first baby? 

Twenty-two, and I'd recommend young motherhood when possible. I got all five of my babies in before I turned 30!


5. Were they all planned by you and your spouse, or do you leave it up to God? 

We had to try a bit for the first two, and the last three were surprises (sort-of).


6. What is your favorite reaction to telling someone how many children you have? 
My favorite reaction is when someone tells me how blessed I am, because that's how I feel!


7. How do you usually handle negative comments? 
Um...I don't really notice negative reactions most of the time. One of the benefits of being non-observant. Still looking for a good one-liner for the (thankfully very few) times we get a negative comment.


8. What does it cost to feed your large family? 

Well, our monthly grocery budget is currently $650, but most of the kids are pretty little and don't eat terribly much. It'll probably go up in the next few years.


9. Do you plan to have more children?  
I believe we're done, but hey, I'll never say never! Derek and I have talked about leaving adoption open as a possibility if the Lord calls us that way.


10. What is your family vehicle? 

Minivan, baby!


11. Do you ever eat out?  
Not very often, and if we do, it's usually fast food.


12. How much milk do you go through in a week? 
Two gallons? We probably could go through more, but we drink water more often than milk.


13. How many rolls of toilet paper do you go through each day? 
I don't even know!


14. What is your favorite go to meal? 
Burritos or some sort of noodles.


15. How do you spend one on one time with each of your children? 
I usually take one of them with me for the beginning-of-the-month grocery shopping trip, though we still need to get back into that since Georgie has been born. Homeschooling is also giving me some one-on-one time with the older kids while we do their work, and I totally count that. We bond over math.


16. How do you manage the clutter? 
We do pick-up times at designated times of the day, but let's just say I've become a lot more laid back about messes.


17. Do you homeschool, private school or public school? 
Homeschool!


18. How do you manage the chaos? 
By getting used to it?


19. What do you do IF you get free time? 
Blogging, dabbling in doing these videos, and reading.


20. What is your #1 tip for other large family moms?  

I don't know! I don't think I'm far enough in to give advice. Someone give me some tips!



If you have a large family, feel free to grab the questions and let me know where you answered so I can check it out!


Evangelism Is Scary



Confession: I've been a Christian for over 20 years, but I struggle with evangelism.  A lot.  I know I'm not alone in this, because I've recently heard a statistic that only 2% of the church shares their faith on a regular basis.  Yikes!  That's embarrassing.

I like to think that sharing the gospel in written form on this blog counts for something, but let's be honest, if I really are about those around me who are headed for Hell, I should be willing to speak up in person too.  But I get scared, and I don't know what to say.  It's a problem.  I've been feeling convicted about this for a couple years, but it's so hard to know where to start.

After praying about this for a while, I feel like the Lord brought a couple resources into my life in the last few months that are making me feel a lot less terrified of evangelizing.  I was going to share about all this in one of my life update posts, but then I thought, hey, evangelism is an important enough topic that it certainly deserves it's own post.  And I know some of you out there have the same struggles as me.  Speak up in the comments!


Resource #1 - Wretched Radio

In December we started listening to a podcast called Wretched Radio.  Derek and I are officially hooked now.  Todd Friel, the host, has a sarcastic sense of humor that is entertaining, but the meat of his ministry is all tied back to the importance of the gospel and evangelism.  We don't always agree with his style or word choice, but he's very grounded on God's word.  Each week he does a "Witness Wednesday" episode, where he gets random people on the radio and witnesses to them right there.  Just hearing how someone else witnesses to people, in real conversations, has made me feel so much more prepared for the moment when I might get a chance to witness to someone myself.  And feeling prepared is half the battle, right?

Resource #2 - Living Waters

On a related note, Friel started this part of the podcast with Ray Comfort, who has a whole Youtube channel where he witnesses to strangers.  His boldness in sharing the gospel is so inspiring, and makes the whole thing seem less scary and more doable.  Derek and I could sit for hours and watch his witnessing videos.  You can see all those here, but be prepared to get sucked in for a ridiculous amount of time.

Resource #3 - Successful Christian Parenting by John MacArthur

I've mentioned Successful Christian Parenting before, but this is my go-to book for refocusing on evangelizing my children - who are the people I want to point to the Lord the most, for obvious reasons!  That's really the whole point of Christian parenting.  I think this book would be great in particular for anyone who has children in their life that they want to lead to Jesus, even if you aren't a parent yet, and the approach he explains in this book would be helpful in witnessing to someone of any age.  I'm reading it again this year.

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Evangelism is one of those things that I think a lot of us put off because we don't think we have the "gift" of evangelism.  But the thing about spiritual gifts is that they are often things that we are supposed to do whether we have a "gift" for it or not.  We're all supposed to be practicing discernment, hospitality, mercy, etc.  And we're all supposed to be evangelizing.  Plus, this is purely a guess, but I imagine that since we know God is not willing that any should perish but all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), He probably has gifted more than 2% of the church with the gift of evangelism...and maybe a lot of us just don't realize it because we're too scared or lazy to give it a try.

That would be me. But I'm working on it, and I wanted to encourage my fellow sisters in Christ to work on it too.  Checking out these resources is an easy place to start.

Do you have a hard time with evangelism too?  Are you trying to work on it?  What resources have helped you?






What Makes A Childhood



One thing becoming a mom has changed for me is that I think about the value of memories even more than I used to, and maybe after having children I have a tendency to put too much emphasis on it.  Of course we always carry memories with us - they are part of what makes us who we are.  But when Wyatt got big enough to start actually remembering things that happened to him, it produced a lot of anxiety for me.  I wanted to provide him with good memories!  I wanted to do all the things! I felt like a failure when a memory turned out to be less than stellar, or when we couldn't do this or that.

Like Disney World.  This last year everyone and their mother seemed to be going to Disney World, and I started to wonder if my kids would be deprived of something important if we never make it there.

Over the last few months though, my attitude has started to change on this a bit.  I still think memories are important, and I work toward trying to give my children good memories.  But I think the more I slow down and remember my own childhood, the more I realize that a happy childhood doesn't have to be made of big memorable moments.  Some of my favorite memories with my mom and dad were just times when we did ordinary things together.  

When you are a kid, having mom and dad join in with your activities makes them so much more fun.

I vividly remember when I was in elementary school, my mom and dad joined in with our game of hide and seek one day.  But instead of just hiding, they changed up the game.  If it was mom's turn to hide, she would take each of us kids and tuck us away in different spots throughout the house...and then my dad had to be the one to find us!  They came up with the best hiding spots, places that we kids couldn't possibly reach by ourselves.  My dad hid me on the top shelf of the closet.  My mom hid us behind the TV stand.  It was so hard not to giggle when I knew I was getting close to being found.  

I try to think about things like that when I'm considering how to make good memories for my kids...because as fun as a trip to Disney World is, things like hide-and-seek can be just as memorable, and just as fun.  (And these things are free.)

I was thinking about this yesterday.  The little three were down for a nap (and they were actually sleeping, which is rare these days), and Derek and I were on the couch reading while Wyatt worked with his Legos.  He sat over there, silently laboring over his Lego boat.  He asked me to come help him figure out how to make it into the shape he wanted, and I have to tell you right now, my Lego skills leave much to be desired.  After doing what I could, I mentioned that we might have to ask Daddy to come help us figure it out, because he is better at Legos than me.

I started googling how to make a boat out of Legos, and Derek came over to see what I found.  He and Wyatt declared the plans I found to be "boring", and Derek sat down with Wyatt and started to sort through the Legos.  Wyatt bounced in his seat as Derek started helping him form the base of the boat.

"Wow, that's perfect!  Dad, you're really smart at Legos!"

They built a pretty impressive boat together, complete with a hook to haul things out of the water and a movable ramp.  Wyatt declared it a "rescue boat", and he's been carrying it around with him ever since.

I stood their in the kitchen and watched my husband and oldest son building a boat together, and I just thought, this is it.  This is what makes a happy childhood.  It's not these big, extravagant offerings that I so often worry that our kids will not experience. (Because hello, we have five kids.  Disney World vacations are likely not in our future, at least not anytime soon).  

No, kids need far less than we often think to be happy.  It's these little moments, when we parents take a minute to slow down and step into our kids' worlds.  To show them our love by giving them our time and attention in the little things.  To make an ordinary game, an ordinary interest that much more exciting because we're willing to join in.  It's enough to make a child's day.  Maybe even enough to make their whole childhood.


How I (Gently) Helped My Babies Sleep Through The Night


Note: I partnered with/received compensation from Babywise.Life to write this post.  Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.

When you have a baby, there will always be a period of time when the baby won’t sleep.  Looking ahead to when this baby is born, I am expecting the typical new-parent sleep deprivation. But I’m also strategizing on what we can do to help this baby learn to sleep through the night, because I know with five kids I’m going to need as much sleep as I can get! 

Now, I think some kids naturally fall into better sleep patterns than others, and I’ve definitely noticed that with my four kids so far. But I do think that there are certain ways that parents can gently encourage their kids to develop good sleeping habits. With some guidelines to help, Derek and I must have hit on the right combination for our kids because all four started sleeping through the night consistently (I define that as sleeping for at least an 8-hour stretch at night) by around two months old.  I'm tentatively confident that this baby will do the same!

So for the sake of review for myself, and maybe some extra strategies for those of you in a current sleep-deprived baby stage, I wanted to share a few things that worked for us.

I make sure baby is getting a full feeding every time.  

What I mean by a “full feeding” is making sure your baby eats until they don’t want to eat anymore.  Newborns love to fall asleep while nursing, but I did everything I could to make sure my babies stayed awake until they were done eating.  If you let them, babies may fall asleep before getting their stomach full, or before getting the more satisfying hindmilk.  If they don’t get a full feeding, they are going to want to eat again sooner.  That’s not helpful for a good night's sleep!  Especially for the last feeding before bed, I make sure they stay awake and get as much milk as possible.

I try to avoid bad falling-asleep habits.  

I try to make sure my baby doesn’t fall into a habit where they need something to fall asleep. To be clear, there have been many times when I nursed my baby to sleep, or let them fall asleep in a swing, etc, but I just try to avoid letting these things become a habit.  It’s better for nighttime sleep if babies also learn to go to sleep on their own from an awake state, so I try to give my babies a chance to practice that.

I don’t let them nap (at all) in the last stretch before bed.  

During the day we loosely follow an eat-awake-sleep pattern for baby, but between the second-to-last and the last feeding of the day, I do everything I can to keep my baby awake the whole time.  This is pretty much common sense.  Can you fall asleep easily if you take a nap an hour before bedtime?  I want my baby to feel good and tired by the time bedtime rolls around.  After the last feeding, they go straight to bed.

I recognize that I might have to be creative in figuring out my individual, unique baby.  

One of our kiddos would not fall asleep by himself for weeks, until we figured out that a night light and a white noise machine were what helped him feel comfortable.  With two older siblings constantly around during the day, he just didn’t like to feel like he was all alone at night!  Another kiddo needed the thermostat at exactly 72 degrees for him to get good sleep at night. With all my babies I did the things listed above and also had to figure out what would help them individually to sleep better, and every kid was a little different.


If some of you have read Babywise, you may recognize a couple of the ideas above from that book!  My mom gave me the book that came before Babywise when I was pregnant with Wyatt - and I’m so thankful she did, because as a new mom I had no idea what a day with a baby would look like, and that book gave me a good idea of what to expect.  Some of the overall principles from Babywise for helping develop good sleep habits obviously stuck, and they have worked really well for our family!  

What Do you Mean By "Gently"?

The reason I say that these are ways I gently helped my babies sleep through the night is because as a mom you need to work around your babies' needs.  After all these years of practice I’ve had with my babies, I’ve learned it’s up to me as their mom to do what I can to help my baby learn how to sleep, while also being flexible when unique situations arise.  There are going to be days where you break all the "rules", and that's okay!  To me, the ideas I got from Babywise and other sources, including some of the ideas I listed here, were a great jumping-off point as guidelines for me to encourage my babies to sleep.  But part of finding confidence as a mom is learning when you need to do something a little differently, and feeling good about following your instincts.  That's the spirit in which I share these tips, as things to keep in mind as you help your baby figure out how to sleep well!


Did you try anything specific to help you baby sleep through the night?  When did your kiddo start sleeping through the night?

For more ideas, I really loved this article on encouraging newborns to sleep at night - it included some things I’ve done with my babies, and some things I didn’t think of (like using a different nighttime swaddle)!




Quick Tips For Busy Families Review (Thumbs Up)

(Affiliate link below.)

This book - Quick Tips For Busy Families - caught my eye when I saw it on a book review list a couple months ago.  It has taken me forever to finish it - not because it isn't good, but because it's just what the title says, quick tips!  

Each chapter is short and to-the-point, but every page is also full of great ideas for ways to use teachable moments with your kids, fun stuff to do together, creative discipline ideas, and encouragement to use every opportunity to train your child in the way they should go.  I found myself not necessarily wanting to skip to the next chapter, because I wanted to remember some of the things he had just shared!  Not all of the chapters pertained to me (a lot of them included school/teacher-realted tips, which I probably won't need since we're homeschooling), but I still got a lot out of this book.

This definitely isn't a book to read once and put forever on the shelf, it's a book that could be a reference when you need a quick shot of encouragement or creativity in parenting.  I really enjoyed it!

Note: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.

How We Do Advent



Advent season is almost over, but I really wanted to do a little spotlight on our Advent Calendar this year.  I've had a few friends ask me this year what we do for Advent as a family.

The year we had Wyatt, Derek's brother, Jeff, and his wife, Rae, sent us this Advent calendar!  My sister-in-law is a master potter who is so talented, and she made the jars - and Derek's brother fashioned this cool rotating display for them.



We have one pot for each day of the month up to Christmas.  Every year before December 1st, Jeff and Rae send us a box filled with goodies to put in the calendar!  It's their Christmas gift to the kids each year, and it makes it so easy for Derek and I to do Advent, because we don't even have to think about putting everything together.




Each jar contains a paper with a verse on it and a chocolate for each of the kids.  I usually let the kids eat their chocolates while we read the verse and then talk about it (or sometimes we'll work on memorizing the verses, now that the kids are getting older).  And then some of the days also have an extra surprise in the jar.  





This year so far the kids have been surprised with coins for their piggy bank, a charitable gift in their names (which is great for talking about giving at Christmas time), and if it's a present day they will get a little card with a present number on it.  In the box of stuff, Jeff and Rae send numbered presents for each kid, usually four or five of them!  The kids get so excited about doing Advent each night, and when it's a present night everyone cheers!




(The kids got these jammies as one of their presents this year, and they were so excited!  I let them wear them exactly one night before I stashed them away for Christmas Eve.  You know, so we have fresh, clean jammies for Christmas morning? I didn't buy Christmas jammies this year, and my kids seem to ruin new pajamas after two nights, so I'm saving them.)

I love our Advent calendar, and I am so grateful to Jeff and Rae for putting it together for us every year.  It's a great way to focus on Jesus's birth and have some Christmas fun each night with the kids, and I honestly don't think I would be organized enough to do this every year without their help!



What do you all do for Advent, as a family?




What Do You Want To Teach Your Kids About Friendship?




Do you remember the very first friend you made?  Are you still friends with that person?  I am curious because I made my first friend in first grade, because we found out we were reading the same books (which I'm sure surprises none of you who read this blog regularly).  Unfortunately the friendship didn't last beyond the beginning of third grade, but that's another story for another day.  

Seeing my own kids making friends now has made me think harder about what kinds of things I want to teach them about being a good friend.  What makes a good friend?  What can you do to help your kids treat their little friends well?  

I'd love to hear your answers to these questions.  Personally, Proverbs is like a handbook for friendship to me - there are so many principles there for all kinds of relationships, including friendship.  I wrote a post that is up over at Tommy Nelson featuring some of my favorite Scriptural principles for friendship - and how to teach those to our children from a young age!  

Check it out, and please let me know what you try to teach your kids about friendship in the comments below!  I'd love to hear!


Preparing Little Hearts For Thanksgiving




As I sit here to write this, the kids are tromping out to the porch with their fall boots, and I can hear yellow leaves rustling outside.  Like so many others, I claim fall as my favorite time of year.  Everything is just a little more beautiful in the fall, and more alive as everything turns brilliant in one more blaze of glory before everything fades for winter.

For me, fall is naturally a time to count my blessings.  Maybe it's because the busyness of summer slows down, and I have more time to think bout what I am thankful for, or maybe it's just because of the beauty of creation in the fall.  Whenever I think of fall, I think of thankfulness, and I start thinking too about how I can remind my kids to show gratitude to God for everything we have.

This year there have been a few tools that I've been using to help my kids recognize their blessings.

Choosing something to thank God for when we pray for meals.  

This is so simple, but for young kids it is great practice to have to think of something different each day!  It is fun for me to hear the different things that make their thankful list - and it makes me slow down because I have to think of one too!

Giving to others.  

Our MOPS group tries to find a way to be involved in outreach, and this year they handed out little boxes with a coin slot, so we can gather our spare change to give to an organization called Feed My Starving Children.  I've been giving the kids our change when we leave the grocery store so they can put it in our little box, and it has been a great opportunity to talk to them about how some kids don't even have enough to eat.  It's a tool to remind them that they have many blessings, much more than some, which is not usually something kids realize by themselves.

Activities And Books. 

There are so many great activities and books that can also be opportunities to cultivate thankful hearts in our kids!  Tommy Nelson just released an adorable one that is especially good for the toddler age group, called One Big Turkey, and I am looking forward to reading it with my little ones!  



This little book is so nature-focused, portraying God's beautiful creation during the fall - lot's of ideas for things to be thankful for, and toddlers can get in their counting practice too!  The illustrations are just gorgeous - I think this will be a favorite!

And as far as using activities as a springboard for talking about thankfulness - I have a post on Tommy Nelson with fall craft and book ideas to help you do just that!  Go check it out!

What do you do to help your kids develop thankfulness?  I'd love more ideas!



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Homeschool Philosophies (And Which One I'm Picking)


Is it just me, or are public schools starting earlier and earlier every year?  When I was growing up, I remember starting school the last week of August or the first week of September.  I have to admit, I kind of resent how schools start mid-August these days.  Even though I don’t have any children in public school, it still feels like it’s cutting the summer short.

In our house we believe summer lasts until the end of August, so we started our homeschool kindergarten this week!  And let’s just commiserate for a moment on the fact that my firstborn baby is starting kindergarten…

In honor of our first week of school, I thought I’d share with you all my homeschool teaching philosophy.  When I was a homeschool student I never even thought about things like choosing a curriculum and philosophy, but as I’ve been preparing to teach my own kids I have been thinking about it more and researching different educational philosophies.  I’d thought I’d share a little summary of what I’ve learned with you, including what I think about each philosophy.  If you hang in there until the end of this rather long post, I’ll reveal the method we’ll be utilizing!

(Warning: this post is long, but I’m going with it, because I know those of you that are interested in homeschooling philosophy will eat it up.  For those who aren’t already familiar with some of the “flavors” of homeschooling - I recommend watching “The Five Flavors Of Homeschooling” which is a great explanation, or checking out some of the books on my new homeschool mom’s book list!)



Charlotte Mason

The first real philosophy I started reading about was Charlotte Mason, and as I tell you more about it you will probably be able to guess why I like it.  Charlotte Mason was a teacher in England in the 1800’s, and she had a lot of things to say about education, but her biggest point was that learning should be done not through textbooks but through “living books” - basically high-quality books that you would read if you were actually interested in a subject.  Her philosophy also focused on giving kids a lot of time outside to explore nature and a firm grounding in the arts.

What I Like About It 

In case it isn’t already obvious, I LOVE the thought of learning through reading actual books!  I think this is how we learn most things as adults - when I want to learn something new, I pick up a few books on the subject, I don’t purchase a textbook.  I like the idea of teaching my kids how to find informational books to learn.  I especially like this philosophy for learning history and art, and I think it could be done well with some science topics as well.  

I also love that this method includes a lot of time reading aloud and having children recount what they remember from the book in either verbal or written form.  I want to read aloud to my kids a lot anyway as part of our schooling, and I think reciting back everything they remember is a good way to cement the information for them and practice communication skills.

The Charlotte Mason books I have read talked about creating a “book of centuries”, which is a book the kids create themselves to place different people and historical events in the appropriate pages for each century in their book.  I love how this could give kids a big picture of history and help them remember generally when things occurred because they wrote it down themselves in their book.

I also love the time spent outside that is emphasized with Charlotte Mason, though we are a bit limited based on the weather.

What I Don't Love

While I love the idea of teaching through living books, there are also things that would be hard to learn from that type of book.  Math is a good example.  I still haven’t figured out how learning math can fit into this philosophy, and I think we will have to resort to textbooks for subjects like that.

Another negative is time.  Teaching this way would take a lot of time.

Charlotte Mason Philosophy discourages forcing kids to memorize large amounts of information, which is a negative to me because I actually like the idea of having kids memorize important facts, and especially Bible verses.



Classical

Classical education is based on the idea of the “trivium”, grammer, logic, and rhetoric.  The thought process behind this is to take advantage of the natural development of children - younger children’s talent at memorizing, middle school children who like to argue anyway (so they might as well argue logically), and synthesizing that together for high school students as they learn to communicate their opinions.  The bottom line is that a lot of information is memorized in the young years, around middle school students start learning to reason, and in high school they study long hours and learn to synthesize all these skills together to form and argue their own opinions.

What I Like About It

The concept of the trivium does make sense to me, and I particularly like focusing on memorizing important facts for younger children.  That is the stage we are in, and I remember how easy it was to memorize things when I was in elementary school, so I like the idea of taking advantage of that during the younger years.  I also like the idea of teaching middle and high school students to think logically and debate well.

What I Don't Love

Classical education is really very intimidating to tackle without a program or guide.  One of the marks of classical education, especially for older students, is rigorous study.  I see the value in that, but I also feel intimidated just thinking about keeping up with it as a teacher, and I would hope it wouldn't take up so much of their time that they couldn't also pursue their interests.

Classical Conversations

You get a little bonus section here! I know several people who are part of Classical Conversations, which is a group-based organization that forms the basis for a classical education for it’s members.  Families meet each week to learn together and provide a chance for children to present or debate.  

I have mixed feelings when I think about this program.  There are aspects of it that I really like, and if we were to go with a classical model all the way, I think Classical Conversations would be a must.  However, I can’t quite make myself join for a couple reasons.

First, I am not thrilled with the format of circling through different periods of history every three years, which is the model classical education uses.  In this program kids will learn about ancient history, the middle ages, and modern history over the course of three years, and then they’ll circle back through again.  Honestly, when I start teaching my kids history, I want to start with American history and work backward.  I like the idea of starting young kids with the history of things that are most familiar to them, and then branching out from there.  I personally think it’s most important for my kids to learn the history of their own country first, and once they have a good grasp on that I’ll be ready to introduce other historical periods and countries, so ideally that is how I’d like to handle history education.

Second, I am not thrilled with some of the things that Classical Conversations treats as important to memorize in the younger years.  A lot of it is wonderful information, but some of it is not particularly important in my opinion, especially for young children.  I would much rather my kids memorize Bible verses than lists of mythical Greek gods.  It is more important to me that my child grows into an adult that loves and serves the Lord than an adult that knows how to win an argument.  In the younger years especially, I would much rather focus on instilling values and biblical truth than secular facts, and I just am not sure there is a lot of the former in CC.  For me, the perspective is a bit lacking with this program, at least from what I’ve heard of it so far.  I reserve the right to change my mind.


Unschooling

Unschooling is basically the philosophy that children don’t need a formal learning program.  Learning occurs every day, in everyday situations, and if you make the tools and opportunities available, children will teach themselves the things they need to know.

What I Don't Love 

I’m switching the order here and am going to tell you what I don’t love first.  I don’t love this as a complete learning philosophy.  I heard a speaker once quote Proverbs 29:15 in the context of unschooling.  This is what it says:

"The rod and rebuke give wisdom,
But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother."

It is clearly not biblical to leave a child completely to himself.  Proverbs also speaks in many places about the value of hard work - and I don’t think that is something that a child learns without direction.  

Now to be fair, I think that most “unschoolers” are not actually leaving their children with no direction or education, so I wouldn’t say what they are doing is unbiblical unless they are truly neglecting any education of their children.  I think that is rare among unschoolers who are serious about preparing their children to be successful.

Overall, this philosophy is somewhat extreme to me, and there is too much variability.  It would be so stressful for me not to have some sort of guide to follow as I educate my children.  Some people make it work, but I don't think t's for me.

What I Like About It

That said, I think there is definitely something to be said for giving children enough time and space to learn what they actually want to learn.  I’ve already seen how much Wyatt can teach himself and how much information he can retain when a subject interests him.  The kid knows more about race cars than me.  I read the book Free To Learn this summer, which talks about an educational philosophy that I would liken to unschooling, and it opened my eyes to some ideas I had never considered before.  I like the idea of letting my kids have some time to pursue their interests and explore outside.

Traditional

Traditional schooling is basically what you would find at a school, only at home.  It uses mostly textbooks to teach, and tests to reinforce learning and measure performance. 

What I Like About It

There is a certain comfort in frequent tests, and tests are a good way to evaluate where a student may need to review.  Textbooks also have all the information in one place.

What I Don't Love 

While there are exceptions, many textbooks are rather dry and don’t exactly inspire love for the subject matter.





The Reveal: Eclectic Homeschooling

After all this research, I’ve come to the conclusion that we will be an eclectic homeschool family - meaning we will be using bits and pieces of several different educational philosophies and ultimately doing the things that work best for our family!

Below is a summary of how we will most likely incorporate parts of each philosophy.  I reserve the right to change my mind on any of this - obviously.  A perk of homeschooling is getting to experiment until you figure out what works best for your family and each child.

How We’ll Use Charlotte Mason

While we may still use textbooks as a guide, I definitely want to read a lot of living books with the kids, especially for learning history.  As they get older I love the idea of having them practice writing through recounting what information they retained from our reading.  I love the “book of centuries”, and we will definitely be incorporating that into our school, as well as spending as much time outside as we can get away with.

How We Will Use Classical

We will absolutely be using a lot of memory work in our kindergarten and elementary school homeschool!

How We Will Use Unschooling

I want to make sure to leave space in our day for the kids to learn about the things that interest them.  I also agree with the idea that every situation in any given day can be a learning opportunity if you take advantage of it, and I hope to do that as I teach my kids!

How We Will Use Traditional

I like the idea of textbooks and tests most for math, particularly in the higher grades.  Math is a subject that is very hard to teach for a lot of people, and while I don’t know how we’ll fare yet, I think when we get to more complicated math we’ll make use of textbooks and tests.  We may also do periodic tests with other subjects so I can evaluate where we may need to work a little harder.


These are the philosophy elements that I like right now, but that very likely might change as my kids grow and I figure out more about their learning styles.  We will adapt as we need to.  When it comes down to it, that is really the beauty of homeschooling - the flexibility.  We get to do what works for us - for me as a teacher, for the kids as students.  And no one falls through the cracks because I am their only teacher, and I am going to make sure they know what they need to know, no matter what methods we end up using.

What philosophy do you use in your homeschooling?  Or do you take bits and pieces like I do?



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