Category Archives: Education
Kindergarten placement testing. That moment of truth where you know whether your efforts in early learning, flash cards, and countless stories made a difference. Whether those moments counting everything in sight, sorting, categorizing, and teaching your toddler (then preschooler, then child) to follow directions were effective.
I had been both anticipating and dreading the moment. He is my youngest, and since our middle child began attending school in fall of 2011, it had been just the two of us during school hours.
But it was also a time of change for our family. I started school again, and began working from home as an editor and ghostwriter. Amidst all that, I knew I did not give him as much time and focus – scholastically speaking – as our first two children.
Hence the mingling of anticipation and trepidation. The defining moment arrived. Our van was in the shop so my dad dropped us off at the school he would be attending in the fall. I waited in the office while he took the test.
Finally, the door opened. The kindergarten teacher walked up the hallway, approaching us. My son followed her. She stopped by the principal’s office and he ran up to me. “Mommy, I did very, very, well.”
Well, that was a good sign, especially since he doesn’t normally use the words “very,” especially twice in a sentence. Maybe he heard it straight from his prospective teacher.
She called me into the office and showed me how he did. She turned the pages of the test, explaining briefly what he had been asked to do on each one. He aced following directions, did well in problem solving, and thinking skills (probably talked a blue streak while working out certain problems). He struggled with the page on phonics. Overall, besides the phonics page, the teacher said that he did “very, very well.”
I was happy. My teaching had been at least relatively successful. Even though I hadn’t given him all the attention and focus that I had wanted to, he was definitely ready for kindergarten. It was all good.
My son played outside while we waited for my dad to pick us up. After a few minutes, he came to sit beside me. “Mommy, I wish sometimes that the Bible would tell us that we don’t have to be nice to each other. I wish it would say that we can be selfish and think about ourselves.”
I blinked, taken aback at his statement, but thankful for his honesty. My other two kids had never said anything like that, especially not at five years old. I tried not to overreact. After all, he wasn’t angry. He was just expressing how he felt. About something rather important, in my point of view.
I said, “Well, let’s think about how life would be if the Bible told us that we could do whatever we wanted. What would the world look like if people did anything they wanted to?”
His eyes glazed over. It was clearly too nebulous of a question. I realized I’d have to bring it home a little closer.
“What if the farmers didn’t feel like doing their work and decided to do something else instead? Or the truck drivers who bring food from the farms chose to stop bringing things like milk, fruits, and vegetables to the stores? Then we wouldn’t have anything to buy. What if the people who keep the streets safe or keep the traffic lights working decided they didn’t want to help people and went home?”
He was quiet, but I could tell he was thinking about it.
“What if Mommy decided I didn’t want to take care of you for a little while? What if I felt like going to a trip to the mountains so I could read and write?”
He looked at me and laughed. It was a small laugh, as if he wasn’t sure whether I was joking or not.
“I would never do something like that, and I’m happy to take care of you because I love you.”
He seemed satisfied with my answer. Usually, if he didn’t agree with something, he would either continue the discussion or stalk off in a huff (and then I’d have to reason with him a little more).
So my youngest son entered kindergarten. I no longer have him with me for the majority of the day. Does that mean my job is ended? Not by a long shot. That single conversation showed me just how important and vital my role as a mother is. And I’m in it for the long haul.
Only God knows what kinds of questions he will come up with on his own, much less what kinds of attitudes and perspective he will face when he enters school. He will likely bring home or store up in his mind many new thoughts and questions, things he will need to weigh up against the foundations that my husband and I have taught him and are teaching him.
I am tempted to get overwhelmed by the responsibility, rearing a child – not scholastically, but spiritually and morally. Teaching Him about God and truth and love. What threatens to alarm me most is that I can give this little man all the information in the world, but only God can do the work in his heart.
But I can help. I can help by praying. By “raising him up in the way he should go,” by loving him and reasoning with him and keeping an open dialogue with him, and with his brother and sister, as they learn and grow. By giving them solid input and informing them of all sides of deep, foundational issues. By having the courage to let them come to their conclusions. Then I can pray some more, that the conclusions will be good one, and that they will grow into courageous and compassionate grownups.
At the end, that’s the very best I can hope and pray for … for any of the upcoming generation.
I know that God knows me because he says it in his Word. God knows that my name is Jessica and that I like to read. He knows it is important for me to have Godly character. It will help me obey him like King David did. He knows that I mostly have the character traits of faith, and gentleness. God even knows I would like to have the character trait of patience with others.
God helps me just like he helped David. When it comes to temptation just like David did, I can ask God to help me. God will always help me resist temptations. He helped me once when I was tempted because I saw two Hershey kisses on a shelf. I wanted to eat one, but instead I asked God to help me not to be tempted, and he did.
God had a plan for David, and he has a plan for me. God chose David to be king, because David did not think about riches. Instead he thought about God and how to please him. God also has a plan for my life. I think God’s plan for my life is for me to be a missionary, or to write children’s stories about his love.
Today my kids made me proud … and they put me to shame.
I posted this on my Facebook wall today, as I’m trying to post something I’m thankful for each day leading up to Christmas:
I’m thankful for my kids’ generosity. It actually astounds me. They have been saving up coins for over a year. Nearly two years, actually. Faithfully dropping pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters into their blue piggy bank.
Then, when the typhoon tore through the Philippines, I suggested sending something to them. Since then, they have been trying even harder to save up, putting every coin in the piggy bank. Even Aiden kept talking about how full it was getting and how we would need to send it to the Philippines soon.
Today we went to a store to get the money counted. The kids saved up $44.40 and not a single one asked to keep any of it for themselves.
I was at first feeling good about my kids … and myself. Raising them to be aware of people in need. About time to pat myself on the back.
But then I thought, “Hold on. They’re not following my example.” I don’t know that I’ve ever given up a year’s worth of savings for the cause of missions.
I’m actually not a very generous individual. Money, perhaps, is not such a big issue for me. God will always supply in some way.
But I’m selfish with me. With my time. I consider time very important … probably more important than it should be. I hate wasting time. More than once, I’ve gotten on my kids’ cases for “making me waste time.” I’ve also gotten on their cases for wasting their time.
But seeing them today, so freely giving away something that has taken them time to earn and save humbles me. Makes me want to be a little more generous … a lot more, in fact. With my time, with my money, with anything that could make a difference for the better in someone’s life.
To be a living example to my kids. As well as let their living example change my heart and life.
via A Living Example.
My three young children had been quite ill for over a week. Allen got an upset tummy from something he had eaten; he was just recovering when the viral fever then came around, putting him back in bed for the next few days.
Over the weekend, their health was picking up, and by the start of the new week, I thought we could start out slowly with some school, just to get back in the groove a bit. Usually school time begins around 10:00am for them; today it was noon before we opened the school books. I tried to keep in mind that it had been over a week since their last lesson and might take a bit of time before a couple young kids would “get into it” again.
Still, it was difficult to keep from becoming frustrated, as Allen spent most of the morning either staring off into space, or crying at absolutely-nothing-in-particular. It was quite a departure from my usually happy little boy.
Jessica, on the other hand, had decided that she needed to do the whole last week’s worth of school in one day because she had been sick, and kept insisting on it, so much so that she was accomplishing absolutely nothing. I assured her that we could go at her pace today.
Needless to say, it was not the most productive school day we had experienced.
As a home-schooling mother, it isn’t always easy to find the right balance between school and life. There are some inspired and wonderful teachers and parents who turn every moment in life into an educational experience for a child, without the child even realizing that they are “learning”. Life is just one great experience after another and the parent manifests that in every moment of the day. They just make learning fun, exciting, and an unforgettable experience on a daily basis.
It is great when a parent, especially a home schooling one, can make education fun for children. Especially when they are young, they need a bit more excitement, interaction and inspiration. I have been blessed to have some of these folks teach my kids classes and songs from time to time. I often feel I can’t measure up to this class of teacher. I have borrowed a few of their ideas and tips to make learning fun. Other than that, I tell myself it takes all kinds, and as long as I am dedicated and manifest patience and love, my children will learn that which is most important.
A few tips, for those of us who need them…
Start each school day with something special. It can be as simple as a bug you found in the garden that morning, or a funny song on youtube, or a sketch of the child.
Have a “star system” of some kind, for good behavior, or great performance, or completing something in school. Be consistent and fair with the reward system and children and students will look forward to it.
Be spontaneous. You do have goals and requirements, but at the same time, a dull and uninspired child will work slowly and perform poorly. If you notice they are slowing down or lacking inspirational, introduce a new idea, or a fun break, a live class, or something to bring new vision into their day.
Most of all, strive to be inspired and happy yourself, as well as calm and patient, and every day can be a wonderful learning experience—not only for your children, but you as well. Kids are often the best teachers we have, and their exuberance and wonder can rub off on anyone, of any age. Pretty fair trade, I’d say.
Image by © Tim Pannell/Corbis
“Mommy, yesterday I was doing school all day!”
That really wasn’t the case. In fact, he couldn’t have been sitting at the school table for more than a couple hours total (and that was due to focusing issues), but in the mind of a little boy, it has been “all day”.
I explained that to him, and assured him that if he set his mind to it, he could accomplish his goals quickly. I also attempted (quite valiantly, I believe) to make his school as fun as possible.
Things went well and he was done before the morning was over, giving us the afternoon for projects and play.
It was Wednesday, and he was looking forward to learning how cars work, with daddy, later that afternoon.
As they played in the yard, my husband opened the hood and called him over. He explained different parts of the engine and their function. After each explanation, Allen would say, “Oh!” enthusiastically.
He finished explaining about the engine, closed the hood, and started doing something else, when Allen bounded up to him.
“Can you teach me more about cars?”
What started as a simple lesson ended up being a long and detailed explanation of every visible or partly visible part of the car.
That evening, I asked him what he had learned about cars. He started naming one part after another. When he mentioned the “tantenna,” I first helped him with his pronunciation if it, and then asked if he knew what it was for.
“Listening to music,” he replied.
I explained to him that if I played music from my phone hooked up to the car speakers (as I often do), we wouldn’t need the antenna, and that the antenna is used when the music comes through the radio.
His next question was, “How does the music get into the antenna?” This prompted another extensive explanation—conducted in turn by myself and my husband—about radio waves and electromagnetic fields, about energy and discoveries.
Again, a number of wholehearted “Oh!”s showed his interest at the discussion and subject matter.
Every child has a different learning style (or styles). Every parent and teacher also has a different style (or styles) of teaching. Sometimes it is a challenge when you discover something isn’t working. Maybe you are discovering that your teaching styles are not all that similar to the learning styles of your child (or student). When you are the primary educator, that can present a fair challenge, to make times of learning fun and educational for both of you.
It often helps to find others who are available to take up certain aspects of learning, and be open to new methods of education, such as searching online and letting them learning something via youtube (that you have checked over first to make sure it’s okay), or asking a friend or relative if they can teach them some skill over the summer or during weekends. There is almost no limit to new and unique ways that a child can learn something; it just might take a bit of research or thinking outside the box, but it’s worth it.
I realize that my son won’t always ask me, as he did his father, “Can you teach me more?” but I can still do everything I can to help his times of education be interesting and interactive, and make every moment a learning experience.
(Image by © S. Seckinger/zefa/Corbis)