Archive for the 'Pre-school' Category

Revisiting My Role As Mom And Teacher

Hello!

This is Addie again. I haven’t been writing much recently, but I have a good reason. Wesley Robert joined our family at the end of January! Isn’t he cute? I think he is, but then I am biased!

My girls and I have been adjusting to daily life again now that there is a baby around. As such, my view of homeschooling has changed a little bit. I am thankful for this change because I can see how my previous view wasn’t what it should have been. I was recently convicted that I am not really loving my children well. Sure I love them because they are mine, but I was having a very hard time finding joy in where God had placed me as their mommy. Mostly this was because they were disobeying and my husband and I weren’t doing a good job of disciplining them. Toward the end of last year I felt a huge burden as their mommy. I was just so exhausted. Sure I was 30 weeks pregnant, but even a non-pregnant mommy would be exhausted. This caused me to be very short with them and very angry. Not. a. good. time. Thankfully, God is sovereign and through this difficult time showed me my areas of sin and selfishness, and where I needed to help the girls so they could learn to obey mommy and daddy and love Jesus. It really challenged my view of being a mother, especially a homeschooling mother.

I asked myself these questions, and discussed them with my husband:

1. Why did God give us these children?

2. What do we want for our children?

3. What is our role as their parent?

4. What is our role as their teacher, and what do we want them to learn?

The answers, for me, to these questions were:

1. to sanctify me and glorify Him

2. to love Jesus

3. to direct them to Jesus

4. to direct them to Jesus and love Him

I had to face that my role as their mom, even if we do not choose to homeschool, is to direct them to Jesus. It seems simple, but to me it wasn’t. I was very wrapped up in doing the fun crafts and activities but not living like Christ in their lives. I was choosing to plan fun things to do but was not disciplining them when they were disobeying and sinning. A good friend pointed out to me that my 5-year-old’s sin of not obeying is small right now, but when she is 15 it will mean sneaking out of the house, and when she is 25 it will mean being put in jail. Exaggerated, hopefully, but it could happen if we fail to teach her to fear and obey God! My job as her mother is to train her in obedience, train her heart to love God. This means not being short or angry with them, as I had been, and consistently doing what I said I would do regarding discipline.

The timing in which I was learning this was certainly God-ordained. I was not glorifying God with my mothering, and there was about to be one more child to mother! I am so thankful God showed me where I needed to improve and, moreover, trust Him and His will. Proverbs 23:19 “Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path.”

In my next entry I will share some practical tips on how this has worked for my family, how it’s affected how we do school and some of the rewards we’ve seen.

What do you feel are some of the good priorities that you have in place as a mom and/or as a homeschooling mom? Is it a ever a challenge for you to love and lead through disciplining consistently? Are there any ways that you feel like you’ve gotten off track? Let’s pray for one another in this!

(Post by: Addie)

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Special Activities and Home Pre-shool

Recently I wrote about using everyday activities for teaching opportunities. But another part of homeschooling is using your time to do special activities, things that don’t happen everyday and are outside of the pencil and paper teaching. Here’s one my kids and I did recently.

A few weeks ago I decided it would be a good day for a tea party with my daughters who are 4 and 2. We have done tea parties with friends before and they love to play pretend tea party, but today we pulled out all the stops and used real dishes, a silver tea set, fancy snacks and had a good old time. Halfway through the prep I realized how many things I could teach them through a tea party.

We served pineapple tidbits, cheese squares, and crackers with hummus. First I had Caley (4) use her fine motor skills to place toothpicks in the pineapple and cheese, and then carefully carry the plate to the table. This helped her learn balance and using two hands to carry things. She also helped set the table and carry the mugs and saucers to the table. At the table we poured some tea and set in to have a nice party. At first I poured and then let her do it. She also poured tea for Amelia (2). This helped her learn balance again and caring for her little sister. We also listened to classical music on Pandora (http://pandora.com/) which helped them learn to appreciate that genre of music.

During the meal we talked about our memory verse of the week and I also modeled describing the things we were eating. I said, “I like the crackers because they’re crunchy” and then asked Caley why she liked the snacks. She said, “I like the pineapple because it’s sweet.” Learning how to appropriately use adjectives is an important skill and when used in the context of an activity, can have a stronger impact than simply reading about it in a book. In the context of a tea party we were able to touch on such subjects as music, grammar, etiquette, and motor skills. Plus it was so much fun and made for some great memories!

What are some special activities you’ve done with your kids? What have they learned through the process?

(Post by: Addie)

Process vs. Product and Your Preschooler

When planning projects and activities for your little preschooler(s) it’s important to understand process over product. Children learn by doing, not by simply producing something that’s of beauty to us as adults. As adults we are focused on the end result, whether it’s writing a provoking story, painting a beautiful picture, or arriving at a destination. Children, unlike adults, take their time and care less about the end result of their work and more about what happens along the way. As children age the end product will look more “correct” to us as adults, but that doesn’t mean the child whose product looks wacky didn’t learn anything through the process. To read more about this concept and get ideas for preschool art projects, check out Preschool Art: It’s the Process, Not the Product by MaryAnn Kohl.

Here’s an example of some work my daughters and I did recently. The first picture is my product. I did the project in front of them, so they got to see how I did it instead of just seeing the end result.

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This next picture is what the girls produced. The craft on the left was done by my nearly 5-year-old Caley. Generally things are in the right place and proportionate to one another. The craft on the right was done by Amelia, who just turned 2. You can tell that hers has all the necessary elements but things aren’t in their “correct” places. Obviously we were going for a Jack-O-Lantern but hers is a bit unconventional.

pumpkin project

Both girls learned similar things during this project but their crafts turned out differently. We cut pipe cleaners and shaped them into eyes, a nose, and a mouth, and this reinforced learning shapes and emotions (happy or sad mouth). We mixed the colors red and yellow to make orange and they painted the paper plate which reinforced the color wheel and fine motor skills of mixing and manipulating a paintbrush. Then we placed the face elements on the plate, which reinforced positioning of body parts.

As Amelia was doing her craft, it was difficult for me not to “correct” her and prompt her to put the eyes, nose and mouth in the “right” place. I had to remind myself that she will eventually produce a craft that is “correct” and it’s not a big deal for now if her products turn out this way. She is still learning and still had fun doing the project, and that’s really the goal.

Check out these links for ideas on preschool art projects, and please share any that you may have!

Art for Young Preschoolers

Preschool Lesson Plans and Activities

Christian Preschool Printables

What are your thoughts about “process vs. product?” Is it ever challenging to not worry about the finished product when doing projects with your kids? What other home pre-school or  home-school topics would be of greatest interest or help to you?

(Post by: Addie)

Planning Your Home Preschool

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If you’re planning to homeschool your preschooler you may be asking, “What should I do?”  “Where should I start?” There are so many checklists  out there for what your child “needs to know” that it can be mind boggling. (Here and here are a couple of lists). As I continue to share here about homeschooling, and specifically home preschool, I wanted to share some questions that may be helpful in determining what and how to teach your preschool child:

  • What do you want your child to learn? You’re the parent, so what do you want your child to learn over the coming year? Some things that may be at the top of your list are Bible facts and verses, manners, cooperation, reading, and self help (as in dressing themselves and getting their own needs met). It’s helpful to know that children are born learning so a lot of the academic stuff like colors, shapes, and names of objects will be learned without your explicit teaching. Perhaps surprisingly, as you can read in this article,  many kindergarten teachers want students to know how to listen appropriately, follow directions, cooperate with peers, and have some independence over being able to add, subtract, and spell. However, for the homeschooling Christian mom, learning about Jesus is at the top of the list. If your child learns nothing but that Jesus loves them and died for their sins, in my opinion that’s a pretty good start to the homeschool adventure.

  • What does your child want to learn and what are his interests? If your child loves animals, capitalize on that and teach her concepts through working with animals. Count how many dogs you see outside on a walk, point out what colors the different fish are at the pet store, teach her to be gentle with animals and let Little Brother have a turn throwing a stick for a dog. Learning doesn’t have to only happen at a specific time you do “school” with your child; especially for a preschooler, school is life! Children are always learning, so take advantage of the day’s events to teach your child.

  • How do you learn and how does your child learn? Most people learn better by doing rather than just completing a worksheet, and the same is true for preschoolers. Keep learning fun for your child and it will instill  in him a lasting love for learning. Instead of counting pictures on a page, count out actual objects and make it into a game. Instead of looking at a worksheet about emotions, act out the emotions between the two of you. When teaching prepositions have your child crawl under something or stand between something, rather than just showing a picture of it. This will make his understanding of the concepts much more concrete and be more memorable for your child.

Homeschooling during the preschool years is the beginning of a long and amazing journey, so there’s no need to rush into pigeon-holing yourself and your child into a rigid schedule or curriculum that might make your child dislike learning. Take your time, trust that God has your child’s best interest in mind, and have fun! Have fun exploring the world with your children and the academic learning will come. Take advantage of your child’s interests and just learn to love being with your child. They are only small enough to sit on your lap for a while, enjoy it and thank God for it!

Are you or have you done any sort of home preschool with your child?  If so, what have you enjoyed and what has been challenging? What are some of the things that you most want your child to learn? If preschool is still in the the future for your little one, are you considering home preschool? What are your top home preschooling questions?

(Post by: Addie)

So You’re Thinking of Homeschooling?!

(Please welcome Addie as she begins posting here by sharing her personal journey toward homeschooling!)

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Motivations for homeschooling are many. Dissatisfaction with public or private schools, illness of the child or parent, unusual work schedule, or needing to travel frequently may be some reasons. If you are a missionary in a country other than the U.S., there may be fewer education options available for your child. If you’re anything like me, the idea of homeschooling might not have sounded too thrilling at the beginning.

Growing up I attended public school in a small town. I had good experiences and did well in my classes. I entered college without a set career in mind but went into the education department and specialized in early childhood special education, that is, the education of children with developmental disabilities. I was in this field for one reason; I cared about kids. I cared that children were given the best education possible and I worked hard to serve the kids in my classes and to help them  learn. None of the teacher candidates in my classes were in the field because they were looking to get rich quick; they were there because they cared about kids as well.

In college I met this cute family at my church, who had the most well-behaved kids I’d ever met, and was surprised to learn they were homeschoolers. They didn’t fit my preconceived notion of the anti-social homeschooling family. To hear the mom defend their choice to homeschool just aggravated me—at first. It didn’t matter that they had prayed over their decision and had  researched curricula, state requirements and the law. I found it personally offensive that they believed (or I perceived they did) teacher’s motives to anything but well-intended toward their students. That certainly wasn’t why I was becoming a teacher. I loved kids!

Then I became a parent. We had our daughter, Caley, in January of 2005. I was about halfway through my program to obtain a Masters of Education and teaching certificate. I believe God gave us our daughter at precisely the right time, because  it was then that I began to weigh what I was hearing in my classes with what I was living as a new parent. Becoming a parent showed  me that my love for my daughter was different than my care for my students. It also showed me that though teachers have many wonderful motives, they aren’t my child’s parent, so their level of involvement and burden to provide a good environment is less simply because they don’t have that parent-child bond God that gives to parents.

It wasn’t instantly that I decided to scrap my plan on schooling. I finished my degree with the intention of returning to the schools when my kids were school-aged themselves. While staying home, God worked  on my heart even more. When Caley was about 15 months I remember actually considering homeschooling. At about 20 months I started a weekly play-group for Caley and her peers, mainly to keep up the skills I’d learned in school. Over time it became less about my skills being maintained, and more about educating my child. Here and there I could hear God say, “Yes you can do this” and “Just trust me.” He put me in community with other homeschooling families, and a few who let me observe how they do school and ask questions. He showed me resources in books and online with fun ideas and curricula to explore. He brought my husband on board, which was essential. Eventually I tried doing some direct “school time” with my then 3-year-old Caley and she loved it!

We are going into our second year of homeschooling preschool and our schedule is more organized in terms of what we study and when we do school. But I feel like we’ve been homeschooling since Caley’s birth because really it’s just doing what comes natural between child and parent. As a parent you want your child to succeed. You taught them how to speak, walk, eat with a spoon, and potty in the toilet. You are also more than qualified to teach them how to read, write, add, and subtract if you are led to do so! Certainly homeschooling isn’t for everyone in every stage of life. I’m sure we will face a time where things will need to change, but for now, God has placed us in this stage and I know He has our best interest at heart.

Addie 2By: Addie

Have you ever considered homeschooling? What are your thoughts? If you are homeschooling, what are/were the reasons and circumstances surrounding your decision? Were you resistant at first? How have you seen God work through that decision?


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