No More Chicks in the Bathtub

Well, my husband has made it official: he’s tired of raising chicks in the bathtub. Actually, I’ve been the one raising them in bathtub, and he patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) has gone along with the idea. Although it’s been an annual spring event for the past four years, truth be told, I think we’re all ready to see the tradition go.

However, as far as raising chicks go, the bathtub served as a great temporary home until they were large enough to keep outside. We used the bathtub in our second bathroom (yes, we still showered in the other one!), which was extra deep and didn’t have a shower fixture anyway. I spread newspaper in the bottom, purchased a small chick waterer, and set up a clamp light with a regular bulb above them. They had natural lighting from the window over the tub, and we could shut the door to keep the cats out. The children could go in any time and pick them up and hold them. It was perfect!

Well, it was mostly perfect. These chicks were from the feed store, so they didn’t have a mother to keep them warm. Thus, the light served as their heat source, and it had to be left on all the time when they were very small. They couldn’t follow a regular day and night pattern and were often cheeping while everyone was trying to sleep. And, as they got bigger and started to fly, it became harder to keep them in the tub and the mess contained. One day, when my husband opened the door to the bathroom, about ten chicks flew from the edge of the bathtub right at him. He said it reminded him Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Birds….

I love to watch chicks grow, and I would probably give it one more try this spring, except that the kids’ interest seemed to wane quite a bit last year. Towards the end of the chicks’ house stay, I was the only one taking any interest in the little birds and their well-being. We still have hens outside that will lay, set, and have new broods of their own, so we won’t be totally chick-less. We’ll just sleep a little better at night.

Homeschooling for Character – Mine!

Last week I had a bad day homeschooling – before breakfast was over, I was already angry and frustrated with my children. They weren’t being obedient, and everything was taking twice as long as it should have. I stormed out of the room, muttering something about how maybe next year they should all attend school.

And then I realized…it wasn’t them — it was me. I hadn’t required obedience. I once heard a speaker say that obedience is doing something right away, all the way (completely), in a happy way. That morning, when I asked them to do something, they whined, argued, and complained. They certainly didn’t do what I asked right away or in a happy way. And while I should have followed through with what I said, instead I gave in…and gave in… and gave in…until the disobedience made me so angry I blew up. And there went the day – it’s hard to recover after that.

I always wonder why they act so surprised when I get angry—they know they’re not following instructions. But then again, why am I always so surprised they don’t obey? They know I don’t follow through with what I say, so they push as far as they can, hopefully not so far that I fuss at them. The problem didn’t start with them – it began with me.

For the first time, I realized that teaching my children at home requires me working on my character as well! It would be very easy to put everyone in school and not have to worry about it. They’re great kids, and most of the time they are respectful, courteous, and kind. If they were in school, my time to interact with them would be more limited, and I wouldn’t have to deal much with the issue of obedience. I’m confident we would get by, and they would turn out fine.

With this new perspective, however, I’m glad we’re homeschooling. The constant interactions with my children are quite revealing, showing me areas where I need to change. And I know that as I do, they’ll change as well. So I told them I don’t plan on sending them to school next year after all – I have a lot more growing to do!

Bringing back the fun

A couple of weeks ago, I was sorting through a box of old school items, and I found a reading bingo game I made for my oldest boy when he was still very small. Now I have another child learning to read, so I pulled it out, and we’ve played it a few times. She loves it, even though it’s made of scrap pieces of poster board.

Since then, I’ve found several other homemade items from long ago. How clever I used to be! So what happened to my creativity over the past five years or so?

Life happened, and I really am still creative. I made the game when I had just one young elementary student, and I wasn’t concerned with pre-algebra, latin, and essays. But the game was a good reminder: learning can be fun, no matter how old you are. Many board games are good resources – Boggle and Scrabble encourage spelling; Balderdash requires creative writing. Here are some other easy ways I’ve found to make learning more enjoyable:

1. Take a nature walk.
2. Plant some seeds in small containers. Place them on the windowsill and watch as they grow.
3. Go on a money hunt through the house. Count the coins you find.
4. Make supper together.
5. Write a letter or draw a picture and mail it to someone special.
6. At the grocery store, pick out 3 fruits or vegetables you’ve never tried before.
7. Put some objects in a paper bag. Have your children reach in, pick one up and feel it, then guess what it is.
8. Fold five pieces of copy paper in half and staple along the folded edge. Write a story or draw pictures in your homemade book.
9. Put on a play about your history lesson.
10. Using a camcorder, make a newscast about your family’s activities.

Top Ten Reasons Why I Homeschool

I find it’s good to remind myself every now and then just why we homeschool – it helps renew my resolve to keep at it. Here’s my top ten list of reasons, in no particular order:

1. Homeschooling puts my children’s character education back in my hands. Because we spend so much time together, I see the character issues that we need to work on, things a teacher of 25+ students would never have time to deal with.

2. I attended public school a long time ago. Even then, a lot of things came up that I was just too immature to handle well. Many children today do grow up too fast – they’re expected to respond to pressures that only adults should face. I want my children to enjoy being children, and homeschooling allows them to do that.

3. Because I choose the curriculum and books we use, I know just what they’re reading and from what point of view.

4. I can tailor their lessons towards their individual learning styles. I’ve found what works for one child often doesn’t work for another.

5. When we work hard at the schoolwork, we’re usually able to finish most of it before lunchtime. This leaves more time to explore subjects the kids are really interested in.

6. The shorter school days also allow more time for extra activities. Right now we participate in boy scouts, music lessons, PE, sewing club, and a literature discussion group. It sounds like a lot, but we’re still home with no errands to run 2 – 3 days a week.

7. On the days we’re home, the kids have more time for play and creativity. My girls (ages 8 and 10) still enjoy playing with dolls and making scrapbooks, and my boys (ages 5 and 12) both like building with Legos.

8. I know my children’s friends and who they hang out with. I know their friends’ parents and siblings as well.

9. I love how homeschooling has affected the relationships within the family. All four of my children are very close to each other, even though there are seven and a half years between the oldest and the youngest.

10. I love to learn! Every day I’m learning something new right along with my children. If they can keep a love of learning into adulthood, then I did my job well.