Heart-to-Heart with Diane

Hello and Welcome! Isn't raising a family the greatest!? I know I've got the best job in the world, just being Mom! I love sharing things I've discovered that make being "Mom" better, easier or more fulfilling, and that is what this blog is all about. Welcome!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Easy Now, You've Got A Whole Childhood

My sweet granddaughter Rebekah, going no-where fast!

I talk to homeschoolers a lot. New homeschoolers seem to get into a flurry. They are so excited at the prospect of being able to teach their children, and perhaps so overwhelmed at all the wonderful things they want their children to know, that they can slip into hyper-speed mode which makes them tense. And homeschooling becomes rushed and stressful rather than the fun, easy, loving-learning, being together, happy experience it should be.

Over the years, homeschooling has ceased to mean schooling to me. It is a lifestyle, a way of living that draws your children into your world to share all things, not just academics. You have their whole childhood in which to transfer your values, teach your beliefs, explore God's beautiful world together, do the art projects and the science experiments, listen to great music, and read the classic children's literature. You don't have to do it all this week!

If I could give new homeschoolers some advice it would be this: relax and live with your kids. Most of what we teach our kids is caught, not taught. Our attitude, our religion, our worldview . . . these things are transferred by our expressions, the gestures we make, the look on our faces. Children are so perceptive!

When thunder roars and lightening strikes, I love to turn off all the lights, open the windows to let the noise and wind in, and enjoy the majesty of the storm, feeling awestruck at God's power. My children, of course, "caught" this attitude. My daughter was babysitting during a thunderstorm and the children all ran to her crying and hid their heads under pillows. She was so amazed that they didn't enjoy it! Later, while visiting their mother, I learned she was terrified of thunderstorms. Caught, not taught.

So, spending time with your children, drawing them into your life— your chores, your acts of service, the thoughts you think, the books you read, your music, your friends . . . your world—will teach them how to live and what to value and seek after. And there is a place for academics and study too. Just not first place!

While I had my 7 in homeschool, I rotated from child to child to help them, and I could get overwhelmed with the things they each needed work on. I could get boggled easily. So I started carrying a spiral notebook with me. I divided the notebook approximately into the number of children I was schooling and made a makeshift tab with a colored paperclip for each. As I helped them correct their writing, or do their math, or other schoolwork, I would privately jot down the glaring problems: Emily is making her "j's" backwards, Nathan doesn't have his 7x mastered, Julianna is repeating misspelling "because". . . and so forth for each child. Recording the teaching needs helped me remember, and feel assured that I could focus on it in days to come, without interrupting the flow of learning at that moment. This is especially important with teaching a child to write. Mechanics can bog them down and take the joy out of writing if too much correction is done at one time.

There is a lot of good food to eat in this life, but piling it all in a huge heap to force feed in one meal is overload and not enjoyable or even nourishing. There are wonderful things to learn, much more than one lifetime, or one childhood, can hold. But trying to cram it all in results in little really being absorbed. Choose carefully what you feel is important to teach, write out a reasonably-paced plan, and then teach your child according to your plan year-by-year in a relaxed, playful manner. Don't panic. Don't move into hyper-speed mode and try to stuff it all in. Kids don't need grammar in first grade. They don't need academic pressure. There is next year and next year and next year. You can make course corrections along the way. You'll get better at teaching your children as you go, as you learn. Get close to your children and get to know them and, you will know their talents and aptitudes and be able to fine tune your plan and offer just what they need. Enjoy. Don't get stressed.

Easy now. You've got a whole childhood.

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  • At September 7, 2009 at 9:00 AM , Blogger kozimom said...

    Thank you!!!!
    I'm starting my 16th year of homeschooling and this was great to read - an excellent reminder!

  • At September 7, 2009 at 2:55 PM , Blogger Megan said...

    I am starting my 2nd year homeschooling and I appreciate your insight so much. I was public schooled and it is hard to go about things in a different way. I think your posts are wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing! :)

  • At September 7, 2009 at 7:05 PM , Blogger jannza said...

    Thank you, Diane, for sharing this. I began homeschooling when my oldest was in first grade. He is soon to be 26! That reminder is always timely no matter how many years you've taught.

    I get so excited about what wonderful things there are to learn that I know my eagerness quickly turns into stress and boy does it translate quickly to the kids.

    I appreciate your words of wisdom and will continue to use them with my remaining two children.

  • At September 8, 2009 at 5:01 AM , Blogger L2L said...

    Your post is perfect timing for blessing my heart and calming my mind. We start our 3rd year of school this comming Monday and wow things have been very tense and to say the least my children haven't caught much good out of me :( So starting tomorrow I will draw them into my "world", those things that need to get done and also draw them into my lap just to enjoy them and make sure they know that they are very precious to me. Thank you!!!!

  • At September 8, 2009 at 9:48 AM , Blogger Julianna said...

    Very insightful, Mom! Thanks for your enthusiasm. :)

  • At September 8, 2009 at 2:05 PM , Blogger The Malama said...

    I needed this exact thought today! Thank you so much! I like to say we've been homeschooling for 12 years because our oldest is 12. It really is a way of life. Sometimes we all need that little reminder though. :)

  • At September 8, 2009 at 3:43 PM , Blogger Leisa said...

    You are an amazing person, mother, teacher! An example and support for homeschooling families everywhere.
    If there is anything we can do to help spread you knowledge and wisdom let us know!

  • At September 10, 2009 at 7:05 AM , Blogger Alison said...

    I just found your blog. I've been thinking about homeschooling for awhile now. My kids are only 3 and 1, with more to come, but I feel I need to organize my days now if I am to have any luck later. I loved your words about not cramming it all in. You are inspiring and I thank you.

  • At September 11, 2009 at 8:58 AM , Blogger a mom in the 'burbs said...

    Diane, I reposted your blog on my Examiner.com page--what a fabulous persepective it is! Thank you for sharing such good advice! We are just starting our first year of homeschooling and this couldn't have come at a better time.

    Melissa Caddell
    Denver Homeschooling Newbie, Examiner.com

  • At September 13, 2009 at 8:14 PM , Blogger henryteachers said...

    So well put Diane! Thanks for reminding me to relax and live--to enjoy each moment with my children. I needed to read this tonight.

  • At September 13, 2009 at 9:46 PM , Blogger Pitts said...

    Thank you for sharing these thoughts! It is amazing how Heavenly Father guides us in our lives. I have always known I was supposed to homeschool my family, even before I had one! My oldest child will be five this year and I've been in panic mode trying to "put together" our homeschool. There have been days where I was just feeling like I can't do this and prayed. I told the Lord if He really wanted me to do this that I needed help and it is amazing all the help and good advice I've recieved. I just want to thank you for being an answer to prayer.
    Brandi Pitts
    SLC Homeschooling Newbie

  • At September 25, 2009 at 3:43 PM , Blogger Natalie said...

    Diane, Thank you for your words of encouragement! It could not have come at a better time. I have homeschooled for 6 years and finally learned to let go. After a move in June, I decided to join a classical program so that we could meet friends and "step up" the learning. We started two weeks ago and I feel that all I have done so far is stress and yell. Thank you for the reminder that "lap time" is so much more important then grammarand memory work.
    Blessings to you,

  • At September 30, 2009 at 2:23 PM , Blogger Matters of the Heart said...

    OOOO I'm so glad to have found your blog again. (I found it again awhile back but have just now gotten around to commenting. I love the idea for using the notebook with a section for each child.
    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!


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