Building on a Solid Foundation
- Monday, October 04, 2010
While my oldest does his math problems at the table, I'll walk by and give him a little squeeze on the shoulder. Instead of just asking my first grader, "Is your assignment done?" I'll remind him, "I love you!"—and then ask the question. If my toddler wants to read a book, I try to accommodate her. At the very least, I'll hold her in my lap and flip the pages of her book while I attend to an older child's work or balance the checkbook—whatever the case may be.
It is important to maintain a family focus, especially while homeschooling with little ones. We, as Christians, are referred to throughout the Scriptures as children of God and members of God's family. Galatians 6:10 reminds us, "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." If our own nuclear families do not emphasize this mutual service, love, grace, and joy, we do our children a disservice. It is vital that they understand how to function within the family of believers, and this begins with a "family first" mentality in the home.
There is a Time for Everything
For me, homeschooling (and in fact, trying to "do it all" in general) becomes most burdensome when I forget that God's timetable and mine are not always the same. Typically, I try to rush God, or I think that just because God meant for me to do something, it must be done now.
Even if there is a deadline for work that needs doing, it is important to remember that God does not give us more than we can handle and that He will not fail to equip us for whatever task He has given us to do (see Ephesians 2:10, Hebrews 13:20-21, and 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Slowing down in body, mind, and spirit so that we can fix our eyes on Jesus is essential to maintaining peace in an atmosphere that can quickly turn to chaos.
When homeschooling with little ones, it is vital to prioritize and to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading as to how we utilize every moment of our day. Typically, it will be more important to focus on being than on doing and to put people before projects. If we have a right heart and can keep first things first, it is often amazing how much other "stuff" God enables us to accomplish.
Compartmentalization Versus Integration
One of the greatest paradigm shifts in my thinking about homeschooling with preschoolers was moving from a mindset of compartmentalization to an attitude of integration. Rather than scheduling my day to the hilt and checking off academics, home management, ministry, and even child training and discipleship as items on a to-do list, it was immensely liberating to experience the freedom of a well-ordered routine and try to mesh as many of these responsibilities as possible.
If one of my school-age children is struggling with an assignment and I feel frustrated because he is not making the progress I think he should, I try to take a step back and address the underlying discipleship issue—which may be diligence, having an attitude of praise, or surrendering to God's will in doing the task at hand. When we are in the midst of our morning school time and the baby seems fussy, I may excuse one of my older children from book work so he can play with his little brother. We try to integrate learning into this time by singing some skip counting songs, reading aloud from a text book, or doing oral math drills.
As well, we try to minister as a family, emphasize Biblical teaching and training during times of work and play, and focus not just on academics but also on life skills. Of course, it is also helpful to integrate multiple subject areas in our academic learning by doing unit studies or hands-on activities. We integrate our faith into life and then integrate multiple life elements to create a more seamless fabric of everyday existence. This is particularly helpful when homeschooling with infants and toddlers in the mix, because even though we may temporarily have to balance unexpected events, we can be confident that integration will help us accomplish more of what needs to be done.
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