Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Just WAIT, Wendy

My week off was exactly what I needed: time to reflect on my goals, methods, and evaluate what we should do in order to get where we're trying to go. It's too easy to lose ourselves in the details. I was getting overwhelmed with busy-ness.
In a word, I'm learning to WAIT.
These are the conclusions that I've reached:

(1) For my first-grader there are three main objectives: First, establishing the habit of spending time with God and with family first. This is the most important thing to establish early on. Second, he will learn Language Arts: phonics, spelling, reading, and writing. Third, he will learn basic arithmetic. By those standards, we are on track. All of the fancy extras that beckon out to me can wait. He doesn't need a history curriculum workbook every day. He doesn't need a science curriculum right now...he's a science man anyway, so he pursues these things for fun.
That's more than enough.
Look at his concentration. :-)

(2) Stories and songs teach better than any other method. At least for us. This is why I so love the Charlotte Mason method. What is education without great literature, or "living books," as she calls them. Stories make it come alive for the kids...it's not just another date and name without background or emotion. We can wait on some heavier material, until the groundwork has been carefully laid. They need the big picture, stone by stone, story by story.

(3) I need better balance with workbooks and hands-on activities. Yes, we do LOTS of fun stuff. I'm all about fun. However, I still get stuck in the "it doesn't count if it's not on paper" mindset. So I've been schooling as if all of my "extra" things like field trips, Konos activities, art and crafts, etc were purely supplemental, instead of a Learning Lifestyle. That mindset quickly becomes exhausting. We're busy ALL the time, trying to cover our bases and fit more in. I have to remember that I'm educating, not just leaving a paper trail!! I want my kids to learn and connect, not just regurgitate information. What am I so worried about anyway? God's in charge. I report to him, no one else. There is a chain of authority involved, and it's not the one I've been focusing on.

When I asked my son to just list 10 nouns and verbs, he shuffled his feet, weary. That's boring review, old stuff. But when I asked him to collect 10 nouns and do 10 verbs...he hopped right to it (literally.)

He was the 10th noun, so he's in the bag! And the picture is of a place. Good boy.

If we read about a toad in a book, it might stick with them for a day. But if we find a toad, look it up, learn how to take care of it, name it...they will never forget. They vividly remember Herbert, more than any other animal we've just read about.

I love this quote by Dorothy Sayers,
"The sole end of education is simply this: to teach men how to learn for themselves; whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain."
(4) We need to resolve (determine once and for all) the goals that will give direction to our homeschool. I don't want to be tossed by the wind.
Francis Schaeffer said,
"We must be consciously preparing the next generation for the new battles they will face."
That's my job. And I intend to do it to the best of my ability. That means we need to focus and keep this task at the forefront of our minds. Too many other concerns can crowd out the goal.

And, along those lines...
(5) The good in our life gets in the way of the best. I need to simplify life. It's only as frustrating and complicated as I make it.
God will always give me enough time to accomplish what
He intends for me to accomplish.

My Papaw has told me this multiple times!

Often God's answer is WAIT. I see a need, hear of an opportunity, and I'm ready to hop up and rush in. God places his hand on my shoulder, pats me, and gently whispers, "wait." It's not my time. That mission, leadership, ministry, field trip is intended for someone else right now. My kids right now are my mission, my ministry. And I need to pick the activities that work towards our goals and interests, not jump into everything that is available.

In the past I've done the childish prayer: "God, I'm planning to do this, so stop me if it's not the right thing." Yeah...like a kid about to cross the street. Apparently I still need one of those kid leashes??
When I should have been praying "God, is this the right path? Is there a different way? Is this the right time?" Like a woman asking for directions and waiting for an accurate map or correct directions. (We all know men don't do this!) Wouldn't that make more sense and lead to a more satisfying and less frustrating journey?? I'm a slow learner, I guess.

Live for the important, not the urgent. And, Wendy, quit making things urgent when they shouldn't even be in your life to begin with. (I can almost hear God sigh sometimes.) I want to live in Quadrant 2!!

(6) This is perhaps the biggest one for me: I am responsible for the atmosphere in my house. Yep, it's me. If the kids fight, I'm still responsible for my response (not reaction) that controls the atmosphere in this house. I can act frustrated, upset, exasperated, tired...or I can take more responsibility than that and remember to be diligent about the emotional climate in my house.

I need to wait on him, and get His strength. Okay, so these aren't exactly new things. I've known them all along, but sometimes I need some quiet time to reflect and reset the direction. We start running on autopilot after awhile, and that doesn't work. Life has to be intentional.

So, is there anything else I'm forgetting? Or anything you've been learning lately that might help me, too??


Jerri Dalrymple said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jerri Dalrymple said...

I think all of that is something we ALL need to heed. I've found myself hearing the "simplify" command for quite some time, now, and know several others who are getting into the same mindset (or receiving the same message). I think God is truly dealing with the next generation of this country and He uses moms a lot to reach them! :0)

Thanks for posting this.

Julie said...

I guess you have hit the nail. Jon and I have been talking and our lives are so busy busy with us both working out, farm, 4-H, family his and mine plus their farm,and basketball now, and church. I have had to learn to say no and tell the kids they have to wait or no. It is so hard sometimes to make myself do that. But God seems to have found a way to make sure I do seems like there are more kinks that come up the last few weeks when I have ignored him.

Just what are those Woods up to? said...

Wow, what a great post! I love so much about it, but my favorites are the part about praying, "God, stop me if.." rather than, "Give me direction. Is this the right way?"
Also I loved:
"Wait. Live for the important, not the urgent. And, Wendy, quit making things urgent when they shouldn't even be in your life to begin with."
And the part about you realizing you're in large part responsable for your home's atmosphere. That's somthing I need to always keep in mind, too. I want my home to be a place of peace, a safehaven.

Hope you're having a great day!
Love you!

Ann-Marie said...

I'm glad your reflection yielded such positive results, Wendy. I can't say I follow everything, since I'm childless and haven't had to think about schooling, but I appreciate the way you seek to make your children's education - intentionally the best. It speaks to your character and ultimately your children's well-being and well-roundedness! Kudos!

Simply Stork said...

this is a wonderful post...most of all because you have found the most effective way to teach your children...I do not believe it should be a chore???

may you have many more in-sightful moments as you ask the Lord to show you the way :o)