Pruning Time

Looking at the sky this morning, I knew a storm was coming. There was not much time to work.

I went out to my flower garden to check on my wildflowers. They were overgrown and needed tending. A few had grown way past the garden boundary and into the yard. The stems were too thick to trim easily, and the plant was trained to head in the wrong direction. Though they were alive and strong, with fresh blooms, I had to pull those out by the roots and cast them aside.

Sin in our life has no place. It must be uprooted and cast out. To transgress means to go beyond the boundary; to cross the line set for us. There is no remedy even if that sin seems to be producing something good in our lives. It has to go.

Other plants were growing within the boundary I had set for them but displayed dead and rotting blossoms along with the fresh blooms. I took a pair of scissors, and removed the unsightly blooms, tossing them in the trash heap. As I did, the plants stood upright. I hadn’t realized, but the entire plant was weighed down and bent over by blossoms that had died.

This got me thinking. How many things am I clinging to that weigh me down? They had their time of beauty and usefulness in my life but now crowd out the sunlight to new development. If I trim away yesterday’s glories, I will have room and strength for what I am given today. Time is short. I want to do all things to God’s glory and produce what the Master of the garden desires. May the coming day bring me wisdom to not spend my strength for things that no longer have any use to Him.

John 15  (ESV)
I Am the True Vine
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser.  2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit…
6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

A long time ago, I wrote a poem about a foolish woman wasting time on what should have been discarded.

Still

She’s still watering the flowers
although they’re bent and brown,
in hopes, life giving showers
will restore their withered gown.
Each morning at the window
she’s looking to the sun
expecting reaching limbs to bear
the fruit of labors won.
Then for a little while
signs of life seem to appear
but the season’s growing colder
and the creeping sleep draws near.
As frost sparkles from each stem
you will find her tending still,
pouring water on the flowers

that lie dead upon the hill.

Jane Clark – 2004
You may share this poem freely, with attribution.

May each of us (myself included) find the freedom of letting go what was yesterday’s glory and diligently work the field of God to produce today’s fruit.

When Life Gives You Lemons…

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, right? This  year has brought some significant challenges in our home and homeschool. When my husband first lost his job, we had savings and were not too worried. We kept doing what we always did, going on excursions and eating out from time to time. We were sure that he’d find work before the savings ran out. 15 months later, we are having to make tough choices and say “no” quite a lot. Our granddaughter’s disappointment makes it sting.

But the measure of our lives is not about how much money we can spend on pleasures, but what we do with what we are given. Times of testing can be very motivating!

Not having any credit cards means earning and spending cash on necessities, and letting our luxuries be laughter with friends, evening walks and bringing value out of things that had gathered dust. As they say, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” We’ve begun an organic garden.  I’ve picked up my writing again, even published a children’s book, “Daniel and the Drain,” on Amazon, that I’d put off completing.  We are selling what we don’t need and learning in the process, that we don’t need so much.

Researching homeschool materials for next year, I discovered Easy Peasy. It’s a free curriculum that works for grades K – 12 *and* the content is God honoring! That, along with other great freebies in my cache, makes me confident that Jade can have a productive 6th grade year on a shoestring budget.

Of course, I will continue to publish more books – there are three waiting in the wings for publication and two more I’m working on. Through this whole experience, I’m learning a lot about producing a quality product and marketing it. Being creative is easy for me. Marketing has seemed like too much work. Technology, like math, are not my strongest points. I can become quite frustrated and almost panicky when I don’t know how to do something that is required.  But I am SO thankful for having my husband at the desk next to mine. While he is job searching, he is also ready to assist me with any stressful tech problem I come up with!

This summer, we won’t be traveling. No beach visits or hotels. Simple birthday parties. But I am hopeful that it will be a rich experience. We can rejoice in the midst of hard times and teach lessons that money can’t buy. God is good, all the time. He provides all we need for life and that – abundantly!

Maybe we’ll even open a small, neighborhood lemonade stand.

Subject Integration

Subject integration is something that home educators strive for more and more these days.  Topics are not so easily categorized in real life and have a natural overlap. This is why textbooks become dull. They force divisions of topics or disciplines that rob the student of the bigger picture.

Unit studies try to overcome this problem by creating links to other individual disciplines and show what they have in common, but this is also often forced and the child ends up with more worksheets and uninspiring “twaddle.” So, how do we show the integration of subject matter in a natural way that keeps our young learners curious and engaged?

One key way to keep children interested is to NOT give them the answers. In fact, wonder out loud why things were or are a certain way and create an opportunity for detective work to discover the reason! Become detectives and keep a notebook and sketchbook of your findings. Look for possible links of causality or other influences that may have brought about the status quo. What if something happened differently along the way? How may the outcome have changed?  There is no telling which direction your adventure may take you, but you may become a scientist, a researcher, a writer, a historian, a philosopher, an artist, a logician and in some cases, a mathematician (depending on what you’re finding out) in the process.  Go ahead and use the web to find answers, but also investigate by doing, where you can. Let them try things, and draw their own conclusions.

One topic our home school dealt with this year was the issue of creating a passageway from South America to Mexico for cougars – where they could be free to roam without being harmed or hunted. Concern for the animals well being also brought up other questions. What of the cattle they attacked along this corridor? These cattle were owned by ranchers who suffered loss because of it. At times, cougars also attacked people and harmed or killed them. Whose need should take priority, and what could be done to preserve an ecosystem without harming the population nearby? This issue touched on geography, animal science, philosophy, property rights and economy.

Another similar topic was the re-introduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park and their effect on it. The rivers stabilized in their course because erosion was less of a problem, meadows and woodlands became healthier because the deer population was kept in check and much wildlife, including beavers and rabbits returned to the park. In one case the introduction of wild animals to an area created a problem, and in the latter it solved several!  Again we covered animal science but also learned about ecology and the web of life with its interdependencies. We looked at paintings of landscapes and created artwork with our animal of choice. We also talked about whether it was “bad” or “good” for animals to attack and eat each other, and saw by this example that God’s design worked perfectly when nature as He planned it was kept in balance.

We also learned about how man’s attempt at “fixing problems” could backfire by bringing in a predator bug to destroy another. This was especially true when the predator was introduced from a foreign land. This was also true of plants. Learning about plants and their natural enemies led to a study of gardening and what would attract or repel certain visitors. In our study we looked at kinds of leaves to identify plants, how roots functioned and what nutrition they needed, and what conditions were optimal for creating food.

We learned about the migration habits of birds and butterflies and also the animals of the oceans. As we learned about the ocean currents we also learned about how sailors used these to navigate more quickly between America and Europe. We measured and baked food that the explorers would have eaten during the 17th century and visited an outdoor cultural museum. We watched a movie about early explorers and learned some songs that told about their exploits.

We studied weather and listened to Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” while creating a storyboard of a changing  maple tree.

While reading The Trumpet of the Swan, we learned about trumpets and jazz, drew birds (including swans) and learned about flight. We created kites and flew them on a sunny and breezy day, as well.

No, it isn’t easy to buy curriculum for such a method. If you have some good resources – use them as launching points instead of assigned books to be completed because of some arbitrary rule. In fact, you don’t need to purchase much. Instead, you need access to the world around  you, the library, and the Internet. Perhaps even people close to the topic that you can interview!

As they become more advanced they evaluate information based on their research and determine a conclusion. Taking a position they may develop an argument, write up the thesis beginning with the hypothesis, show the process of experimentation or reasoning, give evidence and their conclusion. In doing so, they have followed the scientific method and written a persuasive or expositional paper. All that remains is to publish it (in a family newsletter or website) or a YouTube video, or present it in person to an audience!  Publishing the finished work brings its own reward. Try to do this in a variety of ways.

It doesn’t really matter what topic you choose to begin. It can be what interests your child. As they grow in the process (and you do too), they can be given topics to research. Once they have the tools and are used to it, these assignments will not be so daunting.

I’ve only touched on a few things we covered this year, but you can see by God’s design, all of life is integrated in some way. Seek and learn along with your children. Through your example, inspire them to become life-long learners. Along the way you’ll awaken your own curiosity again. Your imagination and conversations around the dinner table will be richer for it.

The Five Second Rule?

The Five Second Rule?

I’ve been listening lately to a best-selling author and speaker who claims that you can change your life in 5 seconds, by acting on impulse within that time. It certainly might get you off the couch. It’s better to do something than do nothing, right? Sounds like a great self-improvement idea!

But there is a flaw in the reasoning of the 5 Second Rule.

As believers, we are rarely instructed by God to be hasty in action or decisions. The Creator of our souls understands us best and gives reasons why we should not do what comes to mind – without giving it more than 5 seconds of thought.

Prov. 14:7-8 says, “Stay away from a foolish man;
you will gain no knowledge from his speech.
The sensible man’s wisdom is to consider his way,
but the stupidity of fools deceives them.”

vs. 12 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.

Vs 15-17 The inexperienced one believes anything,
but the sensible one watches his steps.
16 A wise man is cautious and turns from evil,
but a fool is easily angered and is careless.

vs. 29 A patient person shows great understanding,
but a quick-tempered one promotes foolishness.

Also,

Prov. 19:2
Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.

But is there a time we should be quick to respond to an impulse or motivation?  Yes.

Be quick to listen. James 1:19 – My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

Be quick to obey the Lord. Psalm 119:60 I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.

Be quick to love and forgive. Ephesians 4:31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling, and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Be quick and diligent to do what we already know is right. James 4:17  Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

What about when you are not sure what God wants you to do?

Wait on Him for wisdom and ask for it.
James 1:6 – If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

The Disney admonition to “Follow Your Heart” is not wise. Our hearts can deceive us. Emotions can mislead us. We are to be led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8), and He never disagrees with His own Word. So, we can pray for wisdom, study the Scriptures, and wait on the LORD when we are unsure of direction. When we know the right thing to do, we should act. But even in acting, we need to be thoughtful about how we do it, not impulsive. It is far too easy for our “flesh,” our fallen natural tendencies, to cause us to do something right in the wrong way. If we are led by the Spirit, instead of our own sinful nature, we will do the right thing, and we will have the strength and the will to do it.

Because it is God who works in us to will and to do His good pleasure! (Phil. 2:13)

We do not trust in our own hearts, our own impulses or timing to direct us if we want to live Godly lives and produce good work that pleases our Father.
Prov. 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.

He who promised is Faithful, and He will do it!  (1 Thess. 5:24)

This One Thing I Do

As I think about the Apostle Paul’s qualifications and calling (mentioned in Philippians 3), I’m encouraged and humbled. He had so much of the world’s accreditation. A pharisee of pharisees would be the equivalent of “professor of professors.” He went to the best school – studying under Gamaliel, came from a notable family line (of Benjamin – which King Saul came from), and had been given authority over even the lives of others, politically. In the world’s eyes, he was a success.

How often I am distracted by the expectations of this world and become intimidated by other people who seem to be successful.  I feel very small. While there have been some notable people in my family line, I am not one of them. Ralph Waldo Emerson is an ancestor. I’ve done some writing… but cannot compare myself to him. I’ve done teaching, but don’t have a masters or a doctorate, though my father and grandfather had those achievements. I have some ability, and have created some original things. But in these also, am not recognized by those beyond my small circle of influence. By the world’s standards, there is little to recommend me. I can look at that – and be stopped in my tracks from pressing on.

The Apostle Paul was an achiever of achievers. But he considered all the world’s accolades as “dung,” that he might have something better.

 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”  Phil. 3: 7-9

He fixed his eyes on that prize..

  “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”  Phil. 3:12-14

The author of Hebrews encourages me too. The audience we run for are those who have gone on ahead, in the Hall of Faith not the Hall of Fame.

 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  Hebrews 12:1-3

Both forgetting past victories and failures, with eyes on Jesus and what He has done, not on self, my confidence is  in Him and His ability. He has also promised to finish the work He began in me. Phil. 1:6 says, For I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. I can have hope for success in the eyes of the One who really matters, and not be distracted by the praise or the put-downs of this world.

It isn’t always easy. The voices of the world are pretty loud. This is why it is important to be careful what voices we heed and believe what God says is true about us, instead of what the world thinks. Then – our praise will come from God. Then – our success will be lasting. We can have hope in His ability working through us.

 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.  Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”   1 Corinthians 1:25-31

May He who gave us life renew our sense of purpose!

1 Thess 5:24 “The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it!”

 

Running the Race and Finishing Well

The Apostle Paul compares the life of a believer to “running the race.” It is a marathon that takes character qualities of endurance that sprinting doesn’t. Each mile provides the opportunity for developing the character for the next one. Each person’s run looks different. There will be a variety of terrain and different runners alongside who either encourage or discourage us. We run as wisely as we know how, but our race could be cut short because of unexpected tragedy or illness. So it is important to run well, while we can and be ready to cross our own finish line when the LORD brings us in.

How do we run well?

“Run the race set before you…” We cannot choose to run another’s for them. God has given us each a calling that is unique. As we fulfill His purpose for us – not someone else’s, not our own, but His – we begin well. Choosing which course to run begins with knowing Christ. By exchanging our own plans for ourselves for His and receiving His power to go on. As we run, we fix our eyes on Jesus who stands at the finish line, while His Spirit runs alongside and fills us with hope and strength.

Because we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength, when difficulties come, we are more than conquerors. If we choose to look at our own feet and become discouraged at our own ability, or compare ourselves to other runners, we will stumble. Perhaps we will fall. He is there to help us back up and get us on track – if we will let Him.

Running the race well does not mean never stumbling, but it does mean always getting back up. It does mean keeping our eyes fixed on the goal of our salvation and not becoming distracted with other goals of the world. Many start the race well, but not everyone will finish well.

Our God has provided everything we need for life and godliness. So let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith and run the race with endurance. Let us encourage each other as long as it is called today to run well. At last, we shall meet each other at the finish line and be welcomed home with the words, “Well done.”

Understanding God – Is it Possible?

Did you grow up in church hearing the same Bible stories every year? I did. In fact, kids get little else, from preschool through 6th grade. Afterward they are thrown into Youth Group where they tackle tough issues, with very little intellectual ammo. They are admonished to “just believe.”

Now, without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6), but without an understanding of His Word, what is our faith in? Are we doing our youth a disservice by not equipping them with more than Bible Stories? Is the study of God only for theologians? (Theology means the study of God.) Is it only for those who have studied Greek and Hebrew and have been to seminary?

Some may assert that it’s impossible to really know God.

“He is so far beyond and above us!”

We shouldn’t try to understand, just believe.” And they call that, faith. But is that what the Scripture teaches? Let’s take a closer look.

The Word admonishes us to seek to know Him and grow in wisdom and knowledge of the LORD. The prophet Jeremiah expresses this well.

Jeremiah 9:23-24
Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness on the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”

But if “His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts above our thoughts,” how can we say we understand Him? What about that verse?

The context is Isaiah 55 and the LORD is reaching out to and calling those who are disobedient and unbelieving, to repent and come to Him.

Isaiah 55
6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the
Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the
Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

So, the wicked man’s thoughts are far beneath God’s. But does that mean ours are at the same level as God’s? We should not assume such a thing! God is holy and we are human. His creation.

We who have the Spirit of the Living God indwelling, have a supernatural ability to know and understand the LORD. That this is not our own ability, but His, working in us.

1 Corinthians 2
1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,

nor the heart of man imagined,

what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

The LORD calls us to know Him, and enables us to know Him. And it is our prayer to know Him, better, every day.

Ephesians 4
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to tthe unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to itheir hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greed and the practice of every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

So, is the study of God only for those who have studied Greek and Hebrew and have been to seminary? While we are to grow in both grace and knowledge and not remain infants – God has called the children, the uneducated, and the underprivileged to sit at His table and learn from Him. If it were not so, we would have something to boast about. But in fact, this kind of grace comes to those who humble themselves and receive what God provides, not exalting in our own ability or wisdom. The world’s wisdom is insufficient.

1 Corinthians 1:20
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

And 1 Cor. 2
25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. 26
Brothers, consider the time of your calling: Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were powerful; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

He has revealed Himself even to little children.
Luke 10:21 (and Matt. 11:25)
In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in your sight.

Those who fear the LORD and serve Him, have the privilege of knowing Him.

Psalm 25:14
The secret counsel of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He reveals His covenant to them.

2 Peter 3
17 Therefore, beloved, since you already know these things, be on your guard not to be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure standing. 18 But grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forevermore. Amen.

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.

 

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.

My book, The Tattle Snake  https://amzn.to/2NZNB01  teaches children how to handle the tattling issue and is now available at Amazon.com.  I may receive profit from this affiliate link as well as the royalties from any purchases of my book. 

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.