Tag Archives: communication

Unexpected Lessons

This past weekend was a busy one. I had the opportunity to attend the Write2Ignite! writing conference, and I took two of my children along with me.  Three of their cousins attended as well. The youth class for middle school and high school students was taught by author and teacher Carol Baldwin, so  I signed them up, confident they would discover some things about how to write a story of their own.

And they did. My daughter Cassie, now 12, really enjoyed it and said she had learned a lot. My son John agreed.

What I didn’t expect, though, were the opportunities to work on other skills as well — life skills. When we arrived at the conference early Saturday morning, Cassie began looking around for her friend who was also coming to the conference.  The friend hadn’t arrived yet, though, but there was a girl about Cassie’s age sitting with her dad.

“Go over and introduce yourself,” I said, recalling the class in communication Cassie took last summer. “Remember what you learned? Just go up, tell her your name, and ask her what her name is.”

Cassie looked at me with her eyes wide, like a deer in headlights, as they say.  “Well…” she began, and I knew she was thinking up a reason not to go. Moments later, the girl’s friend arrived, and they were sitting together.

“You know,” I said to Cassie, “You can learn a lot more than writing at this conference. You have a chance to reach out to other people. Your friend is coming, but she doesn’t know your cousins — introduce her and pull her into the group. Then, you can go meet those two girls over there, and pull them in as well. What an great opportunity!”

“Maybe,” Cassie reluctantly admitted, and she went to find a seat until her friend arrived. That’s when I began scanning the room for someone I knew to talk to. Some people were getting coffee, some were reading, some were just sitting alone at a table. Then I caught myself —  it looked like I had that same opportunity.

Photo by taliesin

Communication Camp

Last week, my two oldest children traveled to Tennessee with my sister to attend their first Communication Camp. My sister and niece taught the camp, and actually, it was their first one too. And what a learning experience it was!

Following a curriculum my sister created, campers learned through instruction, workbook exercises, and group games and assignments. Both of my children came back saying they had so much fun and learned a lot. After reading through the teacher’s manual, I learned a lot, too.

Topics covered at the camp included the good manners in communication that you’d expect, as well as many more you might not. Students ages 9 and up learned how to introduce themselves and others, even when they’ve forgotten someone’s name; how to give their full attention when another is speaking; how to reach out to people who would normally be left out; how to make small talk; how to speak in front of a group; and much, much more.

How did the camp affect my children? They came away from the experience having gained some very important life skills, ones I’ve let slip by in the busyness of schoolwork and life in general. We’ve already begun implementing some of them in the way the kids communicate with each other. My daughter used to come running to tell me the latest unkind comment her brother said; now, she goes to him first and tells him how it made her feel, and he is usually receptive and offers an apology, even without my prompting him.

One of my favorite parts of the curriculum is how the lessons in communication tied in with lessons about the Great Communicator, Jesus. A short Bible study is related to each topic covered; by following Jesus’ example, we too can learn to be attentive, understanding, aware, welcoming, and transparent — lessons not only for children, but for adults as well.

Next year, maybe we’ll all attend the camp!

Photo by Calgrin

Difficult Situations

159472497_b6835aa840When my children returned from camp this year, they told me about the fun things they did and the good food they ate. They also told me about other children there who weren’t easy to get along with — they didn’t play the games fairly, they teased them, and sometimes they took their things.

These issues, which were minor to their cousins who also attended camp, were major concerns for my children. We began talking about how they responded and what they might do differently if it happened again, which it would, either at camp or somewhere else.

One of the reasons we homeschool is to protect our children from situations that they aren’t yet mature enough to handle. Growing up in the public school system myself, I remember many times people said or did things that were clearly wrong, and I just didn’t know how to respond. There were times things happened and I never told my parents, so they weren’t aware of what was going on. I didn’t want it to be that way for my kids.

But here we are at a crossroads — the fine line between over-protection and learning a life skill. At what age should a child be made to deal with a difficult situation, especially one involving their peers? Part of me is satisfied that they haven’t had to think about it much until now, and part of me feels they could have handled things better at camp had they only known how.

Part of me, too, tells me that every child is different; there’s no magic age for taking a stand, confronting a problem, or struggling through peer pressure. What one child is able to handle might be too difficult for another. But as mom and teacher, I can work to keep the lines of communication with my children open, and we can figure it out together.

Photo by joshuaone6to9