10 Ways to Inspire Young Learners

How can we inspire young learners? Here are 10 ways parents can develop a passion in their children for life-long learning.

 

 

1. Love learning, yourself. Be an example by spending time reading and studying what interests you. Explore things you don’t know yet and nurture your own curiosity! Your kids will see this and be curious about what excites you. When you explain it to them, use analogies or explanations they can understand at their level. If you use complicated vocabulary they will feel this knowledge is beyond their reach and become discouraged. The basic concepts of the new learning come first. As they seek to know more, you may introduce the vocabulary before delving into more complicated principles. Whenever possible, create a link from the new knowledge to something they already know. This will help them remember, understand, and be able to apply their knowledge.

 

2. Be interested in what interests them. Step into their world. If we want our children to care about our interests, we need to also care about theirs. As we step into their world of play, we gain understanding of their own learning styles and of how they process the world around them.

 

3. Take time for the rabbit trails. Sometimes the rabbit trail turns out to be the main thing. Following interests once in a while, off the preplanned lesson, may open their eyes to their own calling and gifts. Most people follow a textbook and echo back what someone else’s thoughts are on a subject, on test day. But thinking new thoughts, examining new finds, this is what creators and innovators do. Go ahead and follow the rabbit trail sometimes, and see where it leads. To never do so is to kill curiosity.

 

4. Show the integration of subjects in real life. History does not stand alone as a subject. It is dependent on geography, religion, sociology (cultures) and philosophy. Art, music, literature and culinary differences are also part of history. It’s not all about battles and conquered lands. The same can be said for other subjects as well. They are intertwined in life, so it’s a good thing to show how the subject matter you are studying crosses into other disciplines. Taste the food! Listen to the music. Create the artwork. It will make learning a richer experience.

 

5. Invite them into your world. Kids want to be like us. They want to do adult things from an early age. So let them! As you do the budget for shopping, let them see how you do it. Take them to the bank and explain the process there. When you change the oil, they can assist – measuring the levels to see how many quarts are needed and learning how to pour it in without spilling. They can learn (while you are gardening) which are weeds and which are flowers. They can learn order and structure as you clean and sort, putting things away by category. Doing real life things together is far more inspiring to a child than being sent off to do chores, alone. It also can become an opportunity for the important talks you would otherwise miss.

 

6. Make it multi-sensory. Not everyone learns well by listening, though much childhood learning is structured that way. Lifestyle learning involves all the physical senses as well as internal questions to wrestle down. When knowledge touches their emotions – reaches their heart – it will stick.

 

7. Let learning be its own reward. Stickers are fun, but should never become the motivation for learning. Neither should money. This reward system has been found to be a disincentive to learning. Eventually the child becomes trained not to care unless money is involved. Not good.

 

8. Welcome friends into the experience. Let friends of your children participate in real-life lessons too. Your own children will enjoy the lessons more and you have widened your circle of influence for good outside your own home. Often, when I wanted to teach my children something extra, I knew I probably wouldn’t get around to it or stick with it to the end. My solution? Invite other friends to learn with us. It created an accountability to finish what I started, and my kids got the extra electives they would have otherwise missed.

 

9. Let your children teach you too. Ask your child to teach you a skill they’ve learned elsewhere, tell you about a story they’ve read, explain how to construct a Minecraft world…

Teaching solidifies knowledge in their own mind and develops communication skills that will serve them all their lives. They can now teach their own friends new things!

 

10. Let them shine. When they have completed a project, post it for all to see. You can create a web page for them to display their work. You can include video recordings of their explanations and demonstrations of projects and accomplishments. If they write a story and illustrate it, you may be able to create a book of their very own to donate to the local library! Whatever they do, when they have done well – let the work speak for itself. They will be motivated to try and to excel in their work.

 

As you look through your curriculum this year, see it through your child’s eyes. What would intrigue them? What would help them understand the more difficult concepts? How can you incorporate the fun in learning and hands-on activities? Jot down the ideas you come up with, in your planner. If it will help, invite others to join you.

At a Classical Conversations practicum I heard this quote, “Children are not only minds to be taught, but souls to be nourished.” That is quite true. We want to teach and train the whole child, not merely the intellect. We don’t teach the textbook, we teach the child. It comes down to the golden rule. Do for your children what you would want done for you. Perhaps your own parents did give you this kind of opportunity and support! Pass on the blessing. As they grow up with this kind of affirmation, it will not only benefit their lives, but future generations as well.

 

Is It Ever Right To Lie?

Is it ever right to tell a lie?  We all know that “honesty is the best policy,” and have been taught from a young age that lying is wrong. We try to instill honesty in our own children and it’s easier to just make it a cut and dry issue. But the reality isn’t so simple. As we study history and learn about the Jews who were tortured and killed by NAZIs, we want to identify with the heroes who hid them and lied to the enemy to save lives. It seems natural and right to do so. But should they have confessed that as a sin to God in prayer, afterward? Even though it seemed like a good lie at the time?  We will look at the Biblical rule for honesty, but first, examine the exceptions to the rule. 

#1.  In wartime to defeat an enemy:

2 Chronicles 18:18-22  Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing on His right hand and His left. And the Lord said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab king of Israel to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’ The Lord said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the Lord said, ‘You shall persuade him and also prevail; go out and do so.’ Therefore look! The Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these prophets of yours, and the Lord has declared disaster against you!.” 

Examples from our day: Counter-intelligence and undercover work, misdirection used by the military or intelligence community during war time.  …”to the devious You show Yourself shrewd.” – Psalm 18:26

 https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/05/ghost-army-the-inflatable-tanks-that-fooled-hitler/276137/

#2. To save an innocent life. 

Exodus 1:15-21  Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” The midwives said to Pharoah, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.

These midwives are also listed in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11.

A current example of this kind of righteous deception is Lila Rose, who went undercover at Planned Parenthood to expose their evil. She pretended to be a woman in need of their services and secretly filmed the discussions.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Abdvj7rPpjA&feature=relmfu

#3. To hide or protect the people of God and save your own life:

Joshua 6:22-25   But Joshua had said to the two men who had spied out the country, “Go into the harlot’s house, and from there bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her.” And the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, her mother, her brothers, and all that she had. So they brought out all her relatives and left them outside the camp of Israel. But they burned the city and all that was in it with fire. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

Rahab is also mentioned in the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11) and became an ancestor of the Messiah. Because she feared the Lord, she was blessed.

An example from history is Corrie Ten Boom. She lied as she bought supplies and forged passports for the Jews that lived in her household. She saved her own life and the lives of those under her care.

These examples represent the higher law of preserving innocent life and fearing God.

These are exceptions to the general rule of speaking the truth, and only under these kinds of circumstances would lying or deception be acceptable and right. We know that God hates lies for His Word says in Revelation 21:8 …”But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Honesty is the rule our lives are governed by. 

Exodus 23:7  Stay away from making a false charge. Don’t put an innocent person who is in the right to death, because I will not consider innocent those who do such evil.

Leviticus 19:11  “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another.

Psalm 15

1 Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?
Who may dwell in Your holy hill?

He who walks uprightly,
    And works righteousness,
    And speaks the truth in his heart;
He who does not backbite with his tongue,
    Nor does evil to his neighbor,
    Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
    But he honors those who fear the Lord;
He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
He who does not put out his money at usury,
    Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.

He who does these things shall never be moved.

Proverbs 24:28
Don’t testify against your neighbor without cause. Don’t deceive with your lips.

Zechariah 8:16  These are the things you shall do:
Speak each man the truth to his neighbor;
Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace…

Ephesians 4:15  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

Colossians 3:9  Do not lie to each other since you have taken off your old self with its practices.

 So, we are to be honest with God and with other believers. We are not to lie about others – which is slander and perjury (when in court giving witness). We don’t use lies to cover up for our own sin, but confess what we have done and repent of it. We do not deceive to get our own way or gain profit.

It is not wrong to deceive an enemy or to conceal a truth in order to save lives or wage war in defense of our family or country. While the lines may seem blurry at times, they really aren’t. The rule is honesty, but the higher law is a greater truth – for life and faithfulness to God.

Taming the Tattling Tongue – 7 Rules for Friends

Nobody likes a tattletale. Tale-bearing breaks trust in friendship and damages the reputation of both parties. But is it always right to be silent when you see a friend doing something wrong? Here are 7 rules for friends that will clear up the confusion.

1. When they are doing wrong– (or if they are thinking about doing wrong) talk to your friend first. If you can persuade them to change their mind or make amends for their behavior, there is no need to tattle. We all make mistakes. Everyone deserves a chance to right their own wrong.

2. When it is unpleasant – if it is only something YOU don’t like them doing, but it isn’t actually wrong, let them know how you feel without blaming them. Perhaps they will be gracious enough to stop doing whatever it is when you are around if it makes you uncomfortable.

3. When they aren’t doing what you want to do – you can offer a better suggestion or just go along for now and do what you want to do later. However, if it isn’t something you want to participate in at all (a game you don’t like, or a place you don’t want to visit), politely excuse yourself and go do something else after letting them know the reason. “I’d rather not go (or play this right now), but I’ll play with you later when you’re not busy!”

4. When a friend has hurt your feelings accidentally – let them know. Again, do this without blame because they may not have been aware of it. “You may not be aware of this, but it hurt my feelings (made me sad) when you said ____.” This way, they can apologize.

5. When they hurt you on purpose – by gossip, cruel teasing or setting up a trap that caused you to be hurt, draw the line. Let them know you didn’t appreciate what they did and that you can’t allow them to treat you this way. Keep your distance until they sincerely apologize. Allowing someone to deliberately mistreat you does harm to yourself and your soul. If they continue to think this kind of behavior is okay, it will also ruin them. If they don’t repent of their behavior at this point, they were never really a friend.

6. When they are doing something to harm themselves – convince them to stop it immediately, if possible. If the threat of self-harm is serious, quickly go to their parent or a trusted adult that can really help. Let your friend know that you will be doing this. They may be upset and say they won’t be your friend anymore but a true friend doesn’t watch someone else destroy themselves, in peace. Later on, they will realize your intentions. A threat to do harm to themselves is really a cry for help.

7. When they are threatening to bring actual harm to others – Sometimes people are just careless with words and say things like, “I’m going to kill you for that!” But knowing them well, you know if they really do intend to bring harm. Violence isn’t always preplanned. Sometimes it erupts from rage. If you perceive the threat is real or could be real, run to tell others. If they are in the process of planning to bring harm to someone (bringing a weapon or planning a trap) Parents, teachers, or authorities need to be informed. If you see danger coming and don’t warn others, you are partly responsible for the harm that comes to the innocent victims. It’s time to tattle. (Ezekiel 33)

Scripture has many wise words on friendship. Here are a few on choosing and dealing with friends.

Proverbs 27:5-6  Better is open rebuke Than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

Proverbs 12:26   The righteous is a guide to his neighbor, But the way of the wicked leads them astray.

Proverbs 13:20  He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Proverbs 22:24-25  Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, Or you will learn his ways And find a snare for yourself.

1 Corinthians 15:33   Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

Proverbs 14:6-7  A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none, But knowledge is easy to one who has understanding. Leave the presence of a fool, Or you will not discern words of knowledge.

Proverbs 27:17  Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.


With thanks to my mother in law, Nancy Clark, for the valuable lessons she taught me when I had four-in-a-row and didn’t know how to manage them! Your words of advice have been the saving of my family.

10 Commandments for Childhood Friendships

My granddaughter is in 5th grade now.

I remember 5th grade was hard. Every day on the playground, girls who were friends the day before had “unfriended” their bestie and had a new BFF. It was a minefield of competition and uncertainty!

While middle school was hard, and junior high was miserable, I had figured out how to get along with most people by high school, and let go of those who just weren’t interested. I learned to be okay with myself. Confidence over the years helped me become a better friend and also make wiser choices when selecting friends. I’m in the process of teaching what I’ve learned to my granddaughter as she navigates the rough terrain of emotions, dealing with conflict between friends.

The following are 10 Commandments for Childhood Friendships. Though these are not in order of importance, they make a good standard for relationships at any age.

1. Do not assume your friend is unhappy with you, just because they want to spend time with someone else. When they call again, don’t even bring it up! Holding on too tightly to people can become uncomfortable, and giving your friend the freedom to be alone or spend time with another friend will make you all the more welcome, later.

2. Be a caring listener, not just a talker. Friends that last are those who show interest in others, and don’t only want to talk about themselves.

3. When you disagree or feel hurt, don’t make it personal. Present your concern as an objective thing you can work on together. Assume your friend didn’t mean to be hateful. The Bible says,  “love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails,” and “a friend loves at all times.” Words like, “You never…” or “You always” are both harmful and untrue. It is fine to say, “I felt sad when you said/did that.”

4. It’s probably best not to borrow things that are special to your friend. But if you lose or ruin it, replace it or make amends. Don’t make excuses, just apologize.

5. Never talk about a friend’s weaknesses or tell their secrets to someone else. When you are away from your friend, talk about their strengths and things you enjoy about them.

6. Work out problems before they become too big. Don’t let lies complicate matters, either.

7. Be the kind of friend you would want to have.

8. When they visit your house, they are your guest. Find out what your friend wants to do and spend at least part of the time doing that!

9. Respect other people’s things. Treat them with value and don’t use anything without asking.

Economic Life Lessons For Kids

10. Be encouraging! Tell your friend what they mean to you, and what you appreciate about them.

I’m finding I need to be patient in training and not assume one correction will be sufficient! Our human nature can be so petty, but we have to overcome it. Kindness becomes a habit over time, with practice. The effort taken now will pay off in the end.

Economic Life Lessons For Kids

While math concepts may seem obscure, kids have no trouble understanding money; at least the spending part! The more difficult concept is the true value of money. Each dollar spent represents someone’s work and time invested in what was purchased.

So, how can we teach kids to appreciate the value of money? From a very early age, we can begin by not automatically replacing what gets broken through carelessness. The child should work to earn its replacement. Though this is a hard lesson, it is best learned early.  If they break something of someone else’s, they should work to earn the replacement item, without receiving any other compensation. This will teach them respect for personal property.

Private Property 

In order to be consistent with this, children must be allowed to keep treasured items (such as a new birthday present or special toy) only for themselves. If forced to share, the lesson of private property’s value is undermined. Sharing only really counts when it is from the heart anyway. Doing so always brings a risk.

The Scriptural lesson, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” means that we need to honor their things as we hope they will honor ours.  But will children ever learn to share this way?

As they see our example of generosity in giving and of sharing our things with them and with our friends and taking a risk that the item may not be returned or may be broken – we can also teach that a heart of love will share, not expecting anything in return. This is what love does. However, you cannot force love. For our part, we will always either return what was borrowed or replace it, because it is the right thing and the loving thing for us to do. Leading by example is much better than forcing them to share their things and possibly causing the opposite effect than you desire.

Thankfulness for gifts and for opportunities to earn money should be taught very early. Seeing the world through eyes of gratitude can transform the character of a child. Our example of gratitude both to God and to others that bless us can guide them.  “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you.”   1Thessalonians 5:18.

 

Earning Opportunities for “Wants”

Chores do build character, and some should be done without pay. Certainly, those that have to do with the child maintaining their own room and hygiene should be. But if they work for someone else, you have the option of giving them some income from it. If they have a wish list, they can begin a savings account and watch the balance grow toward their short-term goals. It’s best to start with shorter term goals so they can have the satisfaction of seeing them achieved. It will inspire savings again. As they get older, they can handle longer term goals.

Entrepreneurship

Finally, they can start up a small business of their own. Our homeschool group has had “market days,” where the kids bring in crafts and creations and baked goods they make, to sell. Everyone brings their spare change or dollars to take turns seeing what all their friends have made!  Lemonade stands, mowing lawns, pet care, babysitting or housecleaning for a neighbor – are all good early jobs for kids. Encourage them to track their expenses as well as their income, to see what the profits are. How can they improve the profit? Advertise? Cut costs? Improve the quality of their product so more will sell?  All these questions help children to understand the value of money and see how time is exchanged for it.

Allowance or Stewardship?  

I don’t like the idea of allowances. Many people do give them, but to me, it smacks of entitlement. If you do delegate a responsibility that requires funds, that is different. A stewardship is something that will need to be accounted for later and brings good lessons with it. If your child is able to do what has been asked of them with the money provided and has some left over (because of wise choices – not from purchasing low-quality things), they may be allowed to keep it as a reward for a job well done. Handing over some household management in purchasing (as they are getting a bit older) is also a great way to help them develop confidence. Stewardship is a Biblical concept that can be reinforced through this practice. We are given much by our Heavenly Father to manage here. When we do well, He will say “well done,” and reward us. We can be imitators of Him in this way too, as we train our own children.

5 Things A Parent Should Never Say

It doesn’t matter how old we get, the words of our parents carry a lot of weight. The wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, said: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Prov. 18:21  Our words can build a child up with hope for the future, or destroy their spirit.

In 1 Corinthians 13, the apostle Paul said that love believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. Love never fails.  We are entrusted with these little ones for a short time and someday will have to stand before our own Father in Heaven who entrusted them to us. How will we fare, then?

“You will never amount to anything.” In The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, you see the destructive power of a father in Denethor’s harshness toward his younger son, (Faramir) while praising his older son.  The idea, “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” also comes across as a wound that is incurable to the soul. One child cannot be like another. They are their own selves with unique gifts and personalities. All through Scripture we also see how favoring one child above another causes family discord and even hatred between siblings. One example in Scripture is that of Joseph and his brothers. They were so jealous of their father’s special treatment that they sold their brother to slave traders! If we can learn from other’s mistakes, and treat each child as a unique but treasured gift, we do well and may save the soul of a child.

What can we say instead?  “I see so much potential in you! You have gifts and talents different from your brother and I look forward to seeing what God does in your life.”  Love believes all things.

“I wish you would just go away.” Sometimes it feels like our child or our children are the problem. Their needs can seem overwhelming. Exhausting. This is especially true if they have special needs we feel incapable of meeting. We may feel our own inadequacy so keenly that we lash out at them, as though they are purposefully denigrating us.

But through God, we can do all things. Though some children are more challenging, they are still precious to God, as are we. This is where we as parents and caregivers need to put our own inadequacy into the hands of our great God and Father and remind ourselves that He can use all things for our good. Even our weakness is a means to prove himself strong on our behalf.  It is true that sometimes we need a break. Take a walk or go out to dinner and have a few moments of normalcy to recover from the stress, leaving the child in the care of someone who is trustworthy. Our children should never have to bear the weight of our difficulties or feel responsible for us! We must be the adults.

Instead of dumping on the kids we need to let them see the love of Christ through us so they know their value. To wound one of these little ones who trust in him is a very serious matter. Remember, that no matter how young or old they are, our children have hearts that can be hurt just as ours can. We need to see them as our Lord does. Believe God for the strength and love that we need. Save the angst for prayer. He can handle it all.  We can be a blessing to our children this way, overcoming our own weakness in the process.

“You’re stupid. ”  Though my father never actually said those words, I felt it in his looks and impatience. If I couldn’t figure something out, he would give up on me. I did hear that kind of teasing from other kids and believed it, reinforcing my fears and insecurity. It made me afraid to try new things or ask a second question if I didn’t understand something. “There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword; but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  Proverbs 12:18. If a child doesn’t know something they ought to know, this only means they need to be taught. It isn’t that they are stupid, but they have been deprived of knowledge. And that is easily fixed.

Foolishness is another matter entirely. It is choosing something harmful when you know better. For that, there can be discipline. But even discipline should be with a view toward bringing them back to wisdom – not a final verdict on their future.

“Ugh. Just look at you!”  Our culture is so appearance based that we can easily fall into this. We can think our children’s appearance is a reflection on us. But when they become old enough to make their own decisions about hair length or color, style of clothing, etc… we need to give them the grace that we give ourselves to choose what we like. Parents can often speak damaging words about a child or adult child’s worth in regard to their appearance. Perhaps they are overweight or have a physical flaw that we would fix if we were them. “Maybe you should get plastic surgery/have your teeth whitened/lose a few pounds/change your hair…”

If it were up to us, we would do that for ourselves. But respect and grace must be given when there isn’t a matter of sin. If you want a relationship with your children as they grow up, you have to let go of controlling their appearance. Very young children need guidance. Young adults need to be able to make these choices for themselves. If you don’t like it, keep your opinions to yourself unless you want to create a rift between you and them. Is it worth it to lose the person? If you have raised them with guidance, they already know what you prefer. It may be a test to see if you will accept them for their own choices, or perhaps they really prefer another style.

As children grow, they need more and more room to make the decisions that concern their own life and direction. As parents, we need to love them for who they are, give them the grace to grow, and keep our opinions between ourselves and God. God will give each of us the eyes to see what really matters and the ability to love them, as he does.

 

 

6 Steps to Orderliness

Training children through housework  bring so many benefits! Implementation of these skills can make their lives less stressful (no more lost shoes or game pieces).  Also, the skills they develop will bring greater understanding academically while developing character.  Sound hard to believe?  When the following steps are consistently implemented, the difference will be life changing!

It seems we often don’t “see” our surroundings until company is  coming over. In order to handle such a large load of responsibilities,  we shut out what is right in front of our eyes, in order to focus on the task at hand.  But much study is wearying to the body, for both parents and kids. When you take a break, do something physical. And while you’re at it – create order!

Before Jesus fed the 5,000 the first thing he did was instruct his disciples to create order. He ordered them to have the people sit down in groups and in sections, because he would be passing out food soon. To try to hand out bread and fish in an unorganized crowd would be chaotic and distracting! Our God is a God of order and peace; not of confusion.  As his beloved children, we can imitate our Lord’s example and follow in his steps.

In the same way, with our young disciples, we can “line up our ducks” before we begin to work. It really streamlines the process and gives more of a sense of accomplishment as you see smaller tasks *done* section by section. Each task completed creates its own mental reward! There are a few secrets to efficient cleaning, and as you are teaching your children, give them these gifts of training with the  Steps to Orderliness!

1. Line Up Your Ducks

Before I wash dishes, they are stacked according to type – so I can load the dishwasher more efficiently – seeing how to best use the space available on the rack.

Set aside regular times for maintenance so the job never becomes too overwhelming. You know best when friends are most likely to knock at the door. You may want to post a note on the door saying, “Come back at 3:00,” for instance, if your children are particularly easily distracted!

Create a cleaning caddy to carry from one bathroom to the next so you have all your tools with you, as well as cleaning gloves for everyone.  Make sure it has trashcan liners in it.

Be sure to eat something before you start – so hunger pangs don’t pull you away from the task, half-finished!

Be dressed for the work you will be doing; hair up and out of the way and clothes that can get dirty, will be needed.

2.  Think Categorically

Whether the task is schoolwork such as organizing an essay or doing complex math problems, or you are teaching your children how to sort and fold laundry, put away groceries, or pick up a messy bedroom – the key skill for any organization task begins with categories.  Sort them according to kind, then into sub-categories within that group as needed for the purpose you have.  Not every task requires as much scrutiny (lest we develop OCD characteristics!).

In the refrigerator you would keep uncooked meat separate from fruit or cheese or leftovers (for health reasons). In a bedroom you would want to keep toys separate from clothing and books. For a very young child, you may not want to be more specific than that. But as they get older and lost pieces could bring tears, you will want to keep sets together. Games should be kept with their pieces. LEGOs all in one box, or (if your child is concerned about it) each set in their own box. It becomes a greater task when they get older and for this reason, start as young as possible with this training so it doesn’t become overwhelming later.

When your children learn to help you with household tasks, you are not only training them but providing valuable opportunity for important talks about life. As they become adept at the skills, still work with them when you can so this opportunity isn’t lost. The work will be done more quickly, as “many hands make light work!”  My granddaughter and I sometimes put on the radio and dance while we clean too! It makes for great memories and takes the drudgery out of housework.

If it is still just too much, you may want to think about thinning out and donating some of their stuff. With ownership comes responsibility. They need to care for what they have, in order to gain more. If you can’t bear to give it away, pack away some things for a while, as they learn to be faithful with a little.

When you have many young children, turn picking up toys into a game.  Remember Mary Poppins? Definitely use music, challenges and races to accomplish a task! It may come undone in a minute, but they will still be learning something in the process.

Someday, when the science teacher begins to explain Genus and Species, your kids will have no problem understanding that concept!

2. Top down

Yes, you dust before vacuuming!   When washing or dusting, the rule is begin at the top and work your way down. Ceiling fans or light fixtures first (with an extending duster), tops of window frames and door frames, then pictures on the wall and any cobwebs, before bookshelves and tables. Finally, the baseboards (if you have them). Otherwise the dust or dripping dirty water will cover your finished work! Do it by example and have them follow your lead. When done, be sure to carry your supplies out of the room and put them away (or to the next room to clean). The task isn’t done until the supplies are away.

3. Line upon Line

Working in rows is not only neater, it shows you where you’ve been. Wandering in circles can lead to wasted time. After categories are organized or the room is picked up, vacuum in rows. In the lawn, mow in rows. In the garden, work weeding in rows (from the back to the front). When washing a floor, mop in rows from the back to the front – leaving yourself an exit!  No need to walk back across a clean floor to rinse the mop, bring the bucket with you and work yourself out of the room.

Clean windows, one pane at a time, in rows (from the top down), ending with the sill from one side to the other.  As you create trash with your cleaning, have a bag handy to catch it so you don’t create more work for yourselves on the floor. Show the kids how thinking ahead like this and working in an orderly fashion saves time. You may want to “do it wrong” once and have them time you, before doing it right.

Washing cars has the same principle. From the top down, in rows. It’s an easy and repeatable concept.

Have small boxes or bags for items that need to be transported to another room. After finishing your present task, drop off the bag/box of items at the door of their proper location. The owner of that room will need to put things where they belong before play-time.

4. Clean, dry, and serviceable

In the Air Force, we were instructed to make sure our area, ourselves, and our clothing were all clean, dry, and serviceable. This is when you know you are “done.”  Years later, as a mom raising four young kids, I had to take smaller victories. It is good to voice your satisfaction as small task is finished and the tools are put away. Taking a moment to revel in the accomplishment will model this for the kids! They will learn to delight in a task well done, too.  This website has some great organizing solutions!

5. Anticipating messes before they happen.

Before taking out the Lego set, put a towel or other cloth underneath for the “play space.” When they have finished, they may display their work on a shelf – but the sundry parts and pieces can be easily swept back up into the cloth and deposited in the LEGO box!

Put an empty laundry basket or box on the inside of the front door, if you don’t have a mud room (or even if you do) for shoes that are just coming in. You may, as the Koreans and Japanese do, have slippers just inside the door to put on. This does keep a lot of dirt from being tracked through the house and lightens your work load, as well as theirs.

Keeping an artificial grass-type mat or other door mat outside will scrape off most of the dirt on visitor’s shoes. You can also have a softer mat on the inside of the door to get finer dust/dirt off.

Put a few extra shopping bags  (a bag in a bag in a bag) attached to a seat handle and centrally located, in your car. These are ready to receive trash after a drive through meal. Once you arrive home, have one of the kids grab the inside bag to throw it away and you have an empty trash bag in your car! It’s a good idea to keep a hand-held mini vacuum in the car stored under a seat (that can plug into a cigarette lighter) for quick clean ups, too. Before entering or exiting, make sure all coats, shoes, and books – etc – come out with the kids and make it to their destination before they are released to play! Your home and your car are places you live in. You don’t have to allow such disrespect of your living spaces and you can instill this situational awareness quite young, without having to yell.

When your child is brushing the dog or cat, have them do it outside if possible. At least on a hard floor that is easy to sweep.

Ask your kids to be detectives and find ways they can “save work”!  Be sure you brag about them to their dad at dinner, when they do.

6. The Big Reward: Projects

Paying your children for doing a task well is surprisingly unmotivating. Nothing gives a return as much as satisfaction of a job well done. Once your children have mastered (or are on the way to mastering) these skills, they are ready for bigger things! Projects.

Painting a room, building a shed, landscaping, bike or car repair, sewing or cake decorating, they have qualified to take the next step into the adult world of quality production!  Celebrate every accomplishment along the way, with gentle reminders of the Steps to Orderliness – so they become second nature.

Now, I’m off to practice what I preach.  Blessings to you and your family, today!

Do All Things in Love

We are instructed in Scripture to do all things in love. Our first priority is the Lord. But how do we know we love the Father? By loving people (1 John 1). Loving God in all we do means training our children and showing them what the Father is like.

” You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”  – Deuteronomy 6:5-7 

Traditional methods of education tend to separate parent from child, and in the classroom, the teacher from the child, for pragmatic reasons; to fill their heads with as much information as possible in a small amount of time. Sadly, this also tends to kill the desire to learn in the hearts of many children as they feel pushed by expectations of the impersonal system. When homeschoolers try to mimic the public school system in their approach, they lose a great opportunity to teach as Christ did.

I prefer the term, “home education” to “home school” because we are not a school. Learning is part of life and we walk the road together. Companionship in instruction shows the child that they have value, not merely by what they parrot back from a book. It also gives us as parents an opportunity to really see where our children’s strengths are, so we can direct them “in the way they should go.” Adjustments do need to be made from time to time in order to meet their needs, gifts, and callings. It is so exciting to see these developments as we walk closely with our children through the learning process.

Whether it is teaching a child to cook, clean house, pray, read Scripture, work a long division problem or write an essay, if we do all things as unto Christ and show His love for these young disciples, we are His ministers and ambassadors. After all, it is not only our students that need to hear “Well done,” at the end of the day. We want to hear it from our Father, too.