Tag Archives: life skills

Thankful

Even with all of my good intentions, this school year has not been an easy one. Come to think of it, I don’t know that any of them could be classified as “easy.” But as we celebrate the holidays, I am reminded of how thankful I am that we are able to homeschool and educate our children in the way we believe benefits them the most. So even on our “off” days, when things aren’t going as I would like them to, I am so thankful that:

  • I know my children’s academic strengths and weaknesses; while I applaud their strengths, we can focus together on the areas that need improvement.
  • I know their character strengths and weaknesses, and I’m around to help guide them through various situations.
  • I know their friends, their friends’ parents, and their friends’ siblings, and I know what they do when they’re just “hanging out”.
  • They’re learning (albeit slowly some days!) how to accept and get along with one another, as well as how to encourage and support one another.
  • They’re learning practical skills as they help out around the home.
  • We have time to deal with “life” as a family, helping each other when the need arises.
  • We have time to reach out to others in need — to friends, family, and people in the community.
  • We are learning and growing together.
Though many of our friends’ children now attend school, homeschooling has definitely proven to still be the best option for our family. So this season, instead of becoming discouraged by the inevitable “bad” days, I’m going to continue reflecting on all the positives we’ve experienced. And I am so very thankful.
How has homeschooling benefited your family? What are you most thankful for?
Photo by ensignmedia

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

The Essential 55

55About seven years ago, I worked in an after-school program at a local elementary school. The program was for children in third through fifth grades who were having trouble in some of their classes at school. During that time, the director of the program encouraged the teachers to read The Essential 55 by Ron Clark. I was very impressed with the book then, and after recently picking up another copy, I find I am still impressed today.

When he wrote the book, Ron Clark was a young teacher from North Carolina who had taught at some of the most difficult schools in the country, including one in Harlem, New York. The differences he made in the lives of his students earned him recognition as the Disney Teacher of the Year in 2001. Through his experiences in the classroom, he compiled the 55 rules found in this book. As I’m now re-reading through the rules with my children, we’re finding many that apply to our family.

55 rules? Isn’t that a lot? It is, but Clark’s students were able to memorize all 55, and by the end of the year they were following all the rules. Take a look at the 55, and see if there are some you’d like to use in your homeschool. Some of the rules we chose include:

  • When responding to adults, say ‘Yes, Ma’am,’ or ‘No, Sir.’ Just nodding your head is not acceptable.
  • Make eye contact with the person who is speaking to you.
  • When someone wins a game or does something well, congratulate that person.
  • Always say thank you when you are given something.
  • If someone bumps you, even if it was not your fault, say “Excuse Me.”
  • If you approach a door and someone is following you, hold open the door.

These sound like basic life skills and manners that our children should have, but we’ve realized that they are things my children don’t always do and things I tend to overlook. So…we’ve begun compiling our 55 rules — or however many we come up with in the end.

Do you need some rules for your classroom? Check out this book, and then go from there!

A Week of Recitals

This week happens to be a week of recitals for our family. On Wednesday, we’re joining with other homeschooling families to perform for the residents of the local nursing home. The children will play musical instruments, sing, and recite scripture and poems. On Friday, we’ll go to the local college, where Cassie’s flute teacher (a music major there) will accompany her as she plays her solo in front of other students at the school. Saturday is the big piano recital at a nearby church, where John and Lillie will each play two pieces they’ve been working on for the past few months.

I’m not sure how all of these events made it into the same week, but I am sure that I want my children to participate in all of them. Ever since they were small, I’ve tried to take advantage of any opportunity to have them stand in front of an audience and perform. They’ve sung in church on Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and any other day the pastor has asked the children to sing. They’ve recited poetry at talent shows and 4-H Fun Day. They’ve performed in skits and plays.

Do they enjoy it? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, sometimes they whine and want to quit, but I have them do it anyway. I was involved in music in school, and I understand what it’s like to be anxious when you have to perform in front of others. Even today, I become nervous when I have to speak in front of a group, even a group of people I know well. But I also know it’s a great life-skill to have, and that the more you do it — the more you practice — the easier it is to do. Sometimes the children will mess up. Sometimes they’ll make mistakes. Sometimes they’ll perform perfectly. But every time is a learning experience.