Memorial Day...my Grandma called it Decoration Day. Most of my most cherished and valued memories of this day are tied up with memories of my Grandma. I used to go with my grandparents each year as they went and decorated the graves of the loved ones and ancestors in our family...and there were a lot of graves to visit. We visited multiple cemeteries.
Today we are canning cherries. It's actually my first time canning cherries, though I remember eating my mother's canned cherries as a child. The sweet taste of cherry bursting in my mouth on a cold winter's day... the beautiful color of the ripe red cherries in the jar. A feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. After all these years, those cherries which long ago nourished my body, now nourish my soul as I remember...
I’ve posted the handout for my teleseminar here in case you have trouble downloading it.
“Principles for Happy Home Educating Families”
My vision for this seminar is that it would reach new and veteran homeschoolers who feel overwhelmed, stressed, and/or a little unsure. I would hope that each person who tunes in would leave with the feeling that home education is not nearly so hard as we often make it for ourselves. I would hope for them to leave feeling a renewed sense of trust in themselves and in their abilities to provide a fantastic education for their children. I would hope for them to leave feeling hopeful and joyful about their choice to homeschool and committed to enjoy it even more.
Sometime ago my friend Christy (also a veteran homeschooling mom) and I were visiting about homeschooling and she wondered what a “7 Habits of Highly Effective Homeschoolers” list would look like. This list would probably be different for each homeschooling family, but the idea really intrigued me and I was able to quickly jot down the main ideas that I would put on my list; the things that I, as a veteran homeschooling mom, would share as the important habits homeschooling families. Or perhaps just as accurately…the things I wish that I could go back and tell the me who was just beginning home education all those years ago (15 to be exact).
I turned the title (imitating The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) around a bit because I would want to de-emphasize the “effective” part and emphasize happiness instead. While we do want to be effective homeschoolers, I don’t believe that this is really our ultimate goal. Keep asking yourself the question “why?” and you will sooner or later come to the bottom of it all. I think that our ultimate goal for our children and ourselves is happiness…as in “Men are that they might have joy.” We want our children to be successful…why?…so that they will be happy. I would submit that happiness is the end goal of what we do in our families. These items on my list are really principles more than they are habits. Application of these principles will help us to find joy and happiness in our homes and in our homeschooling.
Principles have many different applications and will be applied in different ways depending on the circumstance, family, or need. So, rather than being method based (I could never tell another parent how to homeschool), my list is a principle based list and I believe that every homeschooling family can apply these principles as they seek for happiness in their homeschooling. I believe that these principles…applied in the ways which work best for each family…will help homeschooling families to educate at home with peace, joy, and confidence. I’d love to share it with others.
Here is the list of principles…yes, I know, it’s more than 7…and probably growing.
- Lead Out
- Look for Principles
- Keep the “eye single”
- Simplify your family life (home, routines, physical “stuff”, etc.)
- Simplify your schedule/activities.
- Simplify your goals…what really matters most?
- Work with play.
- Activity with “down time.
- Structure with Latitude…Flexible structure.
- Trust yourself…your intuition, your instincts, your “gut”…or your heart.
- Trust your children. Trust that they are growing and learning in the way that is best for them. Trust their hopes, desires, dreams, preferences, time tables for growth, etc.
- Trust the Lord (or your higher power… whatever your word for this concept). Trust that you will be given or be able to find the answers that you need personally for your individual family and situations.
- Show the way…be the example. Read and study for yourself…enjoy it. Study things that you are passionate about. Let your children see that passion. Share your excitement about what you are learning.
- Consider the difference between a shepherd (who leads) and a sheep herder (one who pushes).
- Find peace.
- Find beauty.
- Enjoy the small moments. Enjoy being with your children. Your years with them are short.
- Love life.
- Love your children…just love them first…all else will come. The best environment for learning is one in which the child knows he is loved. Many “mistakes” are remediated quickly and easily when children know that you love them. Children are forgiving. They don’t expect you to be perfect, but they do need you to love them. At the end of the day, if you child knows his math facts, but doesn’t know you love him and hasn’t felt that loving connection with you, then not only have you decreased your effectiveness with your child, but you are also missing out on the best that home education has to offer.
- Love what you study. Only use books and curriculum that you love. Be passionate about life and learning.
- Study your children first. What are their strengths and passions? What are they interested in?
- Find curriculum second. What will best meet this individual child’s needs? What will most interest him/her? What would be the most enjoyable learning methods and environments for this child?
- As you consider how to structure your home, think principles…not methods. There are no “recipes” which fit every family or even every child within the same family. The habits listed so far are all principles. Principles can be applied in many circumstances. The way a principle is applied will look different depending on the circumstance. Homeschooling does not look the same in every family. It does not look the same for each child. It does not even look the same every year for a given family or child. THAT is the beauty of home education!
- This is my way of saying “focus on what matters most”. The concept of course is biblical (Matthew 6:22), but the principle applies whether you take the bible to be your guide or not. Keep your eye focused on the ultimate goals…the things that matter most to you and to your family and children. Don’t get caught up in the minutiae which don’t matter. Focus on the ultimate goals first and the methods, curriculums, etc. will follow. Be careful of buying someone else’s “package”, curriculum or otherwise, before you’ve determined what you want to teach. What to teach comes before how you teach…and who you teach comes before what you teach. Spend time on this and the rest will fall into place.
If these ideas and principles “ring true” for you, then you might be interested in visiting my blog or facebook page sometime. I can be found at homeeducatedmom.wordpress.com. You can also “like” my facebook page either directly from my blog, or by looking for me under Home Educated Mom. I’d love to have you stop in for a visit sometime…and be sure to leave a comment or two. I love knowing that I’ve connected with someone out there.
I wish you the best in your home as you home educate your children. May you find all of the joy and happiness that is there for you in your own unique home education lifestyle!
I am in the process of posting blogs on each of these principles. You can find the first one here.
Today I will be participating as a speaker at my first live teleconference with Home Education Council of America (HECOA). I will be speaking about the joys of home edcuation and principles to help ensure that your home education journey is a joyful one. Come join us today at 2pm pacific time. You will need to register with HECOA (free) and then sign up for the classes you are interested in. You will receive a link and phone in information, so that you can choose which way to participate. There are a number of seminars available, so check them out.
The broadcast may also be available for a limited time as a replay, so if you can’t make it for the seminar, you may be able to listen to the replay. If it is available for replay, you will find it under the “live seminars” tab on the upper right side of the HECOA page.
Looking forward to it.
Remembering 9/11. I’ve been pondering on this for most of the day. What are we to remember? And why? To what end? We each have our own personal memories of that fateful day. We can all remember where we were when we heard the news. We can all remember what we were doing. Most importantly, we all remember vividly how it made us feel…what our emotions and reactions were. And we all remember that things just didn’t seem to be the same for quite some time afterwards.
I remember how a nation…my nation, the land of my birth…turned to God and to prayer. I remember particularly the tolling of the bell on Temple Square a few days later when the president of our nation declared a National Day of Prayer and the leaders of my church presented devotional addresses and song in the historic tabernacle on Temple Square. I watched by television from my home far from Temple Square. The tolling of that bell brought a curious peace into my heart. I cannot tell why. I watched the video that was made of that devotional again today with my family. The tolling of that bell had the same peaceful effect upon me. I still cannot tell why. I do know that at that time, that devotional brought peace into my soul again. It grounded me and made me remember…there’s that word again…it helped me to remember the things that are most timeless and important in my life. My family, my God and religion, the sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ. I suppose that the things I was remembering were not at all unlike those that Captain Moroni hoped to get his people to remember at a particularly troubling time in his own nation’s history (see Alma 46:12). Remembering these things brought me great peace.
What else do I remember? I remember the sacrifice of those heroes of that particular day; their disregard for their own lives as they sought to help the injured and dying. Their sacrifice is…as all such sacrifices are…a mirror of the great sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ. He who died that we all might live again…that we all might be reunited with our loved ones. Yes, I remember the heroes of that day…such sacrifice requires great reverence on our parts…we who remember.
I also remember the freedom and liberty of our country…and I remember others…other great men and women…our founding fathers and mothers who in like manner sacrificed so much that we might enjoy the freedom and prosperity which we daily enjoy. They were not concerned only with their own comforts and needs…no, they had much greater views and were willing to sacrifice their own comforts and needs…even their very lives…for those greater views…for us, their children. They have bequeathed to us a great legacy of liberty. Do we appreciate it? Do we protect and perpetuate it? What will be our legacy to our children and grandchildren?
Having studied the Old Testament, I remember the children of Israel. Their’s was a long history of remembering and forgetting. We are so much like them. It reminds me of another scripture from modern day revelation, “In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me.” ( D&C 101: 8 ) Yes…we do that too…just like the children of Israel did anciently. We too have been promised over and over again in scripture that if we will turn to the Lord, we will prosper in the Land…but we so often forget.
The Father of our country counseled us in his farewell address,
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” (see George Washington’s Farewell Address).
I’ve heard a number of people comment on their memories of that day…how a nation seemed to pull together to comfort each other…and how a nation…our nation…also turned unashamedly to God and to prayer.
That is what I want to remember. That is what I want our nation to remember and to not forget. Love of God and of fellowman. (see Luke 10:27) Two quotes illustrate this for me today. Both are from the book One Bright Shining Hope by Gordon B. Hinckley.
“Each of us can do a little better than we have been doing. We can be a little more kind. We can be a little more merciful. We can be a little more forgiving. We can put behind us our weaknesses of the past and go forth with new energy and increased resolution to improve the world about us, in our homes, in our places of employment, in our social activities.”
Isn’t this one of the things that we all remember of that day? Isn’t this one of the things we seem to have forgotten? Let us remember again. And let our remembering motivate us to proper action.
This same prophet of God in these latter days has said,
“None of us is wise enough to make it on our own. We need the help, the wisdom, the guidance of the Almighty in reaching those decisions that are so tremendously important in our lives. There is no substitute for prayer. There is no greater resource.” (President Gordon B. Hinckley from his book One Bright Shining Hope).
Prayer…no greater resource.
Yes, these are the things that I want to remember of that day…these are the things that I want to remind my children of…these are the things that I hope we will all remember.
I have been reading a wonderful book lately called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. This beautiful little book has inspired me to begin keeping a gratitude journal. If you are like me, you have also been blessed with numerous gifts and blessings in your life which often pass you by because you aren’t really paying attention. I suspect that in our rush-rush world, we can all benefit a bit from slowing down and taking note of the wonders and blessings in our lives. I’ve become convinced that we don’t really receive a gift or blessing until we’ve named it. (Ann Voskamp’s thoughts about naming have sent me on a whole “thought journey” of my own which I am not yet finished with.)
We are told in scripture that if we receive the gifts we are given….that is if we recognize and show gratitude for them, we will receive more. And if we continue not to receive…that is we fail to recognize and appreciate our blessings, then even that which we have shall be taken away (Matt. 13:12…also see D&C 88:33). How sad is that? How many blessings are sent my way each and every day, but I receive no benefit from them simply because I do not have eyes to see…I’m blind to those blessings. Being blind to them, it is as if they were never given…even that which I technically have has been taken away, so to speak. And yet, as I learn to see more clearly and name the blessings I have…and find the joy and wonder in them, I receive more. More and more, I think that the “receiving more” part is simply a function of my being able to see. How like the 10 lepers who were made clean…and the one, returning to thank is made whole. Thus, he received an additional…and greater…blessing because of his gratitude…because he took time to name and to thank for the blessing he received. (Luke 17:12-19) I want to be like that.
Just at this time that I’m really starting to count my blessings, I have a friend who posted about appreciating our children. Check out her blog on Appreciating Our Kids Month. Another friend that I have met in the blogging world has also posted on this topic. Her blog is called “Do You Love Being a Mother? Let Your Words Show It!” I highly recommend these two thought provoking blogs.
Both of these posts, along with the book I’ve been reading, have gotten me to thinking. I love to think deeply and to ponder, but thinking is useless unless it leads us to some improving action, so I’m taking Leah’s challenge to write each day about the things that I love and appreciate about my children…and about being a mother. And what a perfect time to begin…as I’m beginning a new school year with my children and studying them and their interests, passions, and needs to determine the best way to approach this year together.
It has been said that anything that the Savior is allowed to place his hands upon…becomes whole. Can it be that like the leper who was made whole, my family might also have that blessing as I return and thank for the individual blessings that each child is in my life and for the sweet blessing of being their mother?
I’d love to share my list with you each day, but in the name of sanity…and for the sake of my children’s needs, I’ve committed to post on my blog only about twice a week. So, I’ll blog when I can, but be assured that I am keeping a daily journal and I will share some of it with you. Maybe you’d like to take the challenge too. What do you love and appreciate about your children? What wonders do you see when you look into their eyes? What do you love about being a mother (or father)?
My first entry into my journal…Hugs…next blog.