Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Refreshed Homeschool Vision

This post is a copy/paste version of an email I previously sent to some friends. But because it sums up what I am focusing on with my kiddos, I wanted it to be a part of the blog.....  But also know that I added some things about our chore chart at the bottom that weren't in the original email...

I was wanting to share some things from my quiet time and away time that we had while camping at the farm at the beginning of July.  We began our school year again, what else are you going to do when it is 105+ out? Might as well start school. That being said, we aren't in our "full" schedule, but reading, math, and english are formally started and those subjects tend to take the longest anyway.

I spent a lot of time praying and meditating about our homeschooling journey, goals, short-comings, strengths, and weaknesses of each child as well as myself. I especially want to be better at showing a Godly attitude to my children, even when they are mis-behaving.  Several weeks ago, while reading in Psalm 106, a couple of verses really struck me: In verses 32-33 it says: They angered him at the waters of Meribah, and it went ill with Moses on their account, for they made his spirit bitter, and he spoke rashly with his lips.  Boy, that was a convicting verse and the Spirit continues to remind me of it.  Because, honestly, when my children aren't listening, when their attitudes are poor, and when they do sloppy work, I am very prone to developing a bitter spirit and to speak rashly with my lips. So my quest this past week was to allow the Spirit to guide me in preventing a sinful, reactionary response in my attitude and behavior.  Firstly, I do want to point out that in Psalm 106:28-30, Phinehas intervened between the people and the Lord and was able to stop a plague. We (I) need to remember the power of intercession for my children (Job spent time interceding for his children too in Job 1:5).  As I identify character weaknesses in each one, I need to be writing them down and faithfully taking it to the Lord in prayer (as well as being intentional about teaching the child Biblically about overcoming the specific problem).

The Lord gave me the following verse a few weeks ago, and it is our theme this year. We will all memorize it, meditate on it, and obey it: 
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and
virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with
steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly
affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and
are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge
of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8
So the question became, how do I apply this in my own life, where am I failing, and what, practically can I begin doing today?  Prayer is the obvious, first answer to this... for wisdom, perseverance, a refreshed vision and energy for discipling and teaching my children, for an ever growing commitment to the shema:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deut. 6:4-9
I do not want to homeschool and disciple my children with an attitude of just getting done, or getting by. Satan would love to step in and steal my joy in all of this, and my children's joy too. This is such a precious time and a special gift the Lord has given us: being able to pour into our children each day, having them here to renew their minds (Romans 12:1-2). I want to maintain my passion and excitement and devotion to the task the Lord has given us as parents.  Below are three prayers that I will pray and meditate on each morning, as my day is beginning.
    Give us a fresh vision of homeschooling and
    discipleship. Grant us new mercies each morning.
    Give me patience and self control as I minister to
    my children. Help me not to display an attitude of
    selfishness, grumpiness, or frustration. Rather give
    me Your wisdom and keep my actions, words, and
    motives pure at all times. Let me wait on You and
    gain new strength, not growing weary.

            If I am not portraying a godly attitude, help me to
            let it go and take a break, give my kids a break, and
            refocus my character on You. Help me remember
            that most importantly, we are homeschooling in
            order to train and cultivate Christlikeness in our
            children. If I am not showing them the character
            traits that I'm trying to teach them, then I am failing.
            If I succeed in teaching them only what my lesson
            plans dictate, I have failed. We want our kids to have
            godly characters that are conforming to the image
            of Christ so that they may be obedient and effective
            servants of the Lord.

                        Help me to accurately discern whether my children are
                        doing sloppy work or if they do not understand the
                        concept. Give me patience and wisdom in my teaching
                        and wisdom in dealing with slothfulness and sloppy
So that's where I am beginning... prayer! Secondly, I am a firm believer in the If-Then charts from  I love them, so I decided to use that method for our most common behavior problems during school that tend to result in me not being the Godly portrait of a mom that I want to be. (I have used the charts a lot, they are posted in our kitchen, but I had never applied them to our homeschool settings.  In essence, the "rules" Byron and I set down and wrote out became our own chart for disciplining homeschool issues.  So I listed out the issues that tend to recur: sloppy work, bad attitudes, etc... and I wrote out consequences for each one. I went over the new "rules" with the kids this week, so we are all on the same page. The rules and consequences will be posted in our school area for us all to be reminded. So far, the method has worked great... yes... the kids (some of them) have already "tested" it and my response was very cool, calm, and collected. It really has helped me with self-control when dealing with "repeat offenders"!  I also set up rewards for diligent work and behavior.
There are 2 reasons for me sharing this: number one is for accountability! I give you all permission to ask me if I am increasing in my faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love.  My second reason is Hebrews 10:24 - And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works...  If anyone can learn from my shortcomings and weaknesses, I am glad to help prevent the same in any of you. Homeschooling is such a blessing, as is parenting, and educating our quiver of arrows in the Lord. It is a hard journey, but the Lord equips those He has called. So as the process of intentional parenting and schooling continues, I just want to encourage all of you to run with endurance the race that is set before you (Hebrews 12:1).

I posted a picture above of a chore/discipline chart that I made. I purchased a large dry erase/magnetic board from Hobby Lobby (you can download a 40% off coupon to help with the cost). I then took ribbon and hot glue to make a column for each child, a column for everybody's tasks, a "spare" column, and at the bottom, there is a space for completed tasks. I then had a bunch of magnets for putting on the back of business cards, so I printed off labels of various tasks, chores, etc. and attached each of them to a magnet.

Here is how it works: At the beginning of the day, I assign each kid their normal tasks by putting the appropriate magnet in their column: for example: Bible reading, clean out cubbie hole, etc... and I place the group chores in the group column: dishwasher, laundry, vacuum, etc...  As each task is completed, the magnet gets moved to the completed row. If I have a child with a bad attitude, sloppy work, or breaks the rules we have gone over, I move a group chore from the group column to the individual child's column. (Alternatively, I may move one of the spare tasks to their column such as run, clean wheat, dust baseboards, etc...)

So far, it has worked very well for us and because the forethought of the discipline has already been decided, I am able to discipline out of love and not out of anger.  What works for you???? Please post!

I will be posting my spreadsheet school schedule/organizer, cleaning schedule, and some other things we have implemented soon in another post! All of these can be customized to your family/house if you are interested.

Have a blessed weekend!

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