Motherhood: A Blessed Calling!

Lately, God has been impressing on my heart the importance of being a mom.

I was a stay-at-home mom for 23 years, and I loved it! It was a privilege and blessing to be home with our kids and to homeschool them (well, most of the time)!

But there were many times throughout those years of raising our kids and teaching them at home that I wondered if I was stifling my impact in the world because I was home.  Shouldn’t I be doing something bigger out in the world?  Impacting poverty, or helping people somehow.  I felt like I needed to do something “big and important”! I remember even wondering if I should put the kids in school and get a job again, or maybe volunteer in some important ministry.

In fact, I did end up trying to do some of those things while homeschooling.  During much of our homeschool years, I tried to do as much volunteer work for our church and homeschool co-op as I could.  I thought I needed to be serving God more, so I volunteered in children’s ministries, in worship ministry, in youth ministry, in women’s ministry, and I was teaching a co-op class, etc.  (not necessarily all at the same time, but I usually was helping in several ministries in the same season). Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying you can’t do volunteer work while you’re in the homeschooling years, but I was doing too much volunteer work, and my health and family suffered for it.

You see, I didn’t completely recognize the huge ministry I already had right in my own home, with our four kids.

This last weekend, I attended the 2017 IF Gathering Online Women’s Conference with friends from church.  There were some amazing speakers and some great challenges!

One of the biggest takeaways from the weekend for me was the reminder that relational discipleship was how Jesus did ministry, and it’s one of the most effective ways for us to do ministry as well.  We don’t need to do “big things” to please Jesus, like solve the problem of world hunger or sex-trafficking, we just need to serve Him right where He has us, with those He has put in our lives.

And for mothers, those He’s put in our lives to disciple and minister to first and foremost are our children.

“Motherhood is a calling and a gift, there is no greater calling.”  Susan Seay

As mothers, we have a huge influence on our children.  The example and guidance we give our children will impact their lives more than we can ever understand.  We need to guard against overlooking the amazing discipleship opportunities we have right in our own home!  We need to take seriously our role in discipling our children, helping them to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul and mind.

As I ponder the last couple decades of my life, I see how God used me in my children’s lives in spite of my crazy notion that I had to do bigger things for Him than I was already doing in my own home. (Thank you, Lord!)  God is working through each of our children in different ways now as adults, and my discipleship efforts in their growing years have effectively multiplied as they serve Jesus in their lives now.  That’s how discipleship works, it expands and reaches more and more people as the person who was discipled begins to disciple others.

I write this post to encourage mothers everywhere, and especially homeschool moms who might be feeling a little weary.

The sacrifice and pouring out of yourself for your children is making a difference in the world!

If you’re a mom, the “BIGGEST THING” God has called you to is discipling your own children, helping them know the Lord their God better and better. 

How can we most effectively disciple our children?

  1. Lead by example:

Our children will learn more from our example than by what we say!  Jesus also led by example.

How is your walk with the Lord?  Is He first in your life?

“To love you as I should, I must worship God as Creator. When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.” C.S. Lewis, “Letters of C.S. Lewis”

Do you spend time with Jesus every day, reading His Word and praying for guidance and strength? Do your children see you spending time with Jesus?  Do you pray with them and for them often? If you want your children to love the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind, then you need to love Him that way first! (Matthew 22:37)

We need to have our mind transformed by God’s Word in order to help transform our children’s lives and lead them towards God. We ought to love Jesus so much that His love pours out of us to our children.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2

  1. Teach them using God’s Word:

There are so many great resources today for teaching our children about God and His character and love. A daily time of Bible reading is a great way to start your day.

 

When our children were between the ages of 4-11, one of our favorite Children’s Bible’s to read aloud together was written by Catherine Vos, “The Child’s Story Bible”   There are just enough pictures to help the younger children stay tuned, plus it’s written in a way children can understand, yet it remains Biblically sound.

When they are old enough to read on their own, it’s important that they have their own Bible and that they learn Biblical history and how the Bible is organized.

 

Memorize scriptures together that will help them navigate life better; memorize verses on trusting God, living godly lives, etc.

 

“Fighter Verses” a ministry of Bethlehem Baptist Church,  or the AWANA program are great resources for this.

  1. Teach them to pray:

Seeking God and His help, praising Him and praying for others ought to be weaved into every day.

 

As struggles arise, pray with your child, showing them that God is the One who can help them.  Remember to watch for His answers, and praise Him for how He responded.

 

When needs arise, pray together, and watch as God provides.

 

I remember we wanted a piano so our children could learn to play, and so my husband told the kids we ought to ask God to provide us with one, and in his prayer, he asked God for a “free piano”!  I was surprised and wondered how we’d explain to the kids why God didn’t answer that prayer.  But the amazing thing was God did answer his prayer! Within less than a month, we were offered a wonderful, FREE, piano!  A lesson was learned by all of us!  All of our children have served in worship ministry at some point in their adult lives partly because of that piano, and the opportunity to learn music!!

 

Keep in mind, we need to be careful we’re praying for the things that God would truly want us to have.

 

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”  I John 5:14

 

Teach your children to pray by your example of bringing everything to God in prayer.

 

  1. Serve the Lord together:

God may have places for you to serve outside of your home as well.  What a great example to your children if you have them help you in your service.  Can you find ways to serve together as a family? That will have a huge impact on your children.

We were part of a church plant that met in a school, and our children often served alongside us unloading the church trailer and repacking it after the service.

They helped babysit for our small group meetings.

They helped me make and deliver meals to new mothers or others in need of help.

We helped pack meals at “Feed My Starving Children” together

Jesus taught His disciples about serving as He ministered to others with them right alongside Him, helping.

 

Praise God for this great gift of being a mother! Don’t let anyone make you think being home with your children isn’t important because it’s your BIGGEST CALLING!

God will use you mightily in your children’s lives as you seek Him and ask for His guidance.

I’d love to hear from you!

Please take a moment to share a resource or idea that has helped you as you’ve been discipling your children!

 

 

 

4 Homeschool Pitfalls to Avoid

As we began homeschooling, I remember thinking that I needed to do things right! I wanted our kids to have the best education possible.

I bought little metal desks for the two oldest kids (ages 6 & 4) to do their school work in.  I bought all the workbooks and the teacher’s guides and we sat and worked through them together each day.  As we worked, our two toddlers were often busy getting into things.  I struggled to keep up with it all!

It didn’t take long for me to feel overwhelmed and frustrated.   In fact, by October of that first year of homeschooling, I became sick with mono.

Thankfully, a friend came along side me and gave good advice: homeschooling is more of a lifestyle, not just an educational method.  She assured me that I could rest while I was sick, and take time off school while I needed to heal.  “Have the kids lay in bed with you and read fun children’s books to them.” She said.

And that’s what I did.  It was a great bonding time! Plus, I learned later that reading aloud to your children helps build literacy skills.  We continued having read aloud time throughout all the years of our homeschooling!

That year I learned that it didn’t work well to try to imitate the public school (and my kids didn’t enjoy it either)!

I’d like to help others avoid some of the mistakes that I made that first year (and in subsequent years)…

I’m going to share with you how to avoid the 4 most common homeschooling pitfalls (and some apply to general parenting too):

  1. Don’t try to imitate the public school:

Homeschooling truly is more of a lifestyle of learning.  You don’t need little metal desks! Sit at the kitchen table, or on the couch, or even on the floor while you teach and learn!  And you don’t need to have your children sitting for 6-8 hours working on school work.  (that’s a good way to cause burnout!)

 

Young children need short teaching times, give them stretch breaks every 10-15 minutes.  They need the breaks to get their brains to focus again.  Also, they learn best by playing games, doing activities, and singing songs, not by using workbooks.  A workbook here and there is okay, and some children do enjoy filling in the little blanks, but you can teach most of what a Pre-K or Kindergartener needs to know without workbooks.

 

Homeschooling doesn’t take as much time because we’re not trying to corral 30 six-year old children all day, we just have our own children.  We can complete all the school work for kindergarten in a ½ hour.  In the elementary years, you can finish most focused academic work in just an hour or two.  Middle school and high school might require a little more time, but it usually won’t take all day. And remember to take breaks to re-focus!

 

The rest of their education takes place through daily life.  There are so many opportunities in a day to teach important skills and values, to work on character and help our children understand the world that God created!

 

Have them help with chores around the house, and teach them how to cook, clean and maintain a home.

 

Take them with you to the grocery store and teach them how to look at ingredients and choose the best foods, or how to watch for sales, and save money.

 

Teach them their colors and about matching while you sort socks. By age 10 they can even be doing their own laundry! (What a relief that was for me! With four kids, my laundry piles were insurmountable at times!)

 

When they ask “why?” or “how does this work?”, take the time to explain things to them, or help them find the answers. Teaching them to find the answers empowers them to be lifelong learners!

 

Read living books to them, and then help them explore topics within the books that interest them.  For example, as we read the book, “My Side of the Mountain”, our boys were interested in knowing more about falcons, so we went to the library and got books on falcons.  It was a great learning experience! (see my post on great books for kids for some book suggestions)    

 

I hope you get the idea…watch for learning opportunities and take advantage of them.  Using curriculum is helpful, and you will probably need some, but you don’t have to imitate the public school.

 

As you make learning part of your lifestyle, your children will become avid learners, looking for opportunities to learn about things that interest them.

 

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others:

 

We all do this! So-and-so tells us how wonderful their child is doing in a certain activity, and we wonder if we should get our child in that activity too.  Or another mom talks about how perfect the curriculum they’re using is, and we think we should consider switching to that curriculum too.

 

Or we observe one family’s children and decide we’re a failure because our children aren’t as well behaved as theirs.

 

Comparing ourselves to others usually leads to one of two things:

 

  • Discouragement: because we feel like we don’t measure up or we’re failing in some area.
  • Pride: because we think we’re doing a better job than the other person, and we get a little puffed up! We forget that it’s only by the grace of God that we are where we are!

 

Guard against comparing yourself or your children to others!

Instead, seek God for what you need to do in your family, and in your homeschool, and trust Him to give you the direction you need.

 

Let Him be your guide, rather than being swayed this way and that by what others are doing.

 

  1. Guard against being overcommitted:

Our society today places a lot of value on excelling in sports or the arts or academics.  There’s great pressure on parents to have their children in preschool, or community sports, or music lessons, or outside classes.  While these things are good, we can overload our children’s calendar and stress them out!

When they’re stressed out, they often have attitude problems, or they don’t do as well in their school work.  Instead of overloading our children with activities and classes, look for things that will help build character and help them grow in their faith.  Allow each child to be in only one activity outside the home at any given time, and then gradually add on more, if you feel you can handle it.

And we as parents can also become overcommitted.  People think that because we’re home with our children, we have extra time and so they ask us to help. Maybe it’s a volunteer position at church, or in co-op, or there’s a family in need.  While these things are also good to be involved in, we can become overcommitted with outside responsibilities, and our children and homeschooling suffer.  If this sounds like you, (this was me!), then you need to learn to say “no” sometimes!

 

  1. Avoid getting so wrapped up in the academic side of things that you forget about building character and focusing on spiritual growth:

The pressure to have our children up to grade level and doing as well as we perceive the public school children are doing (or as well as the grandparents think our children should be doing!) can be overwhelming at times. And we put a lot of pressure on ourselves regarding this as well.

It is important, but…

We can get so focused on the academic piece of homeschooling that we forget that one of the best parts of homeschooling is that we get the privilege of incorporating character building opportunities into their lives as well.  And that we’re also training up our children to love and know the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind.

Most homeschoolers know this and have this as their focus, but there can be times when we can get so wrapped up in teaching academics and doing outside activities, that we miss opportunities to teach spiritual truths or to work on a character issue.

Ask the Lord to help you keep spiritual growth and character building as a high priority in your day, ask Him to show you the opportunities so you don’t miss them.

 

If you’re struggling with one or more of these pitfalls and you need prayer or advice on how to remedy things, please send me a message. Or if you can think of other mistakes that you’ve made that you’d like to help spare others from making, please share them here.  We can help each other to stay on the right path as we share our lessons learned and pray for one another.

Blessings to you,

Kris

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Benefits of Reading Aloud to your Children

Some of my fondest memories from our families homeschool years were when the kids and I were reading a good book together (or rather, I was reading it aloud to them).  I remember getting all choked up in the touching story of an orphan called “Freckles”, and laughing with the kids while reading “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.” Our read-aloud time together was the highlight of each day.

One of the most important things you can do for your kids is to read aloud to them from when they are babies all the way until they won’t let you anymore!

In fact, one of the greatest ways to build literacy is to read aloud to your children.  The National Center for Education Statistics found that children whose parents read to them tended to become better readers, and they performed better in school!

“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children,” (from a Commission on Reading report)

The benefits of reading aloud to your children:

  1. It helps with language & speech development
  2. It expands vocabulary and helps kids learn pronunciation of words
  3. It develops curiosity, imagination & creativity
  4. It increases their attention span
  5. It hones their listening skills
  6. It builds literacy skills
  7. Plus, it’s a great bonding time between children and parents!!

Truly all ages benefit from reading out loud!

Experts recommend that you read aloud to your child as soon as he or she is born because children form so much of their intelligence potential during the early years of their life.

Reading aloud even helps older children!  It helps them understand grammar and correct sentence structure better. If your older child enjoys listening to you read aloud, keep doing it!

The only caveat:

You should choose GOOD literature! Read books that will edify them and help them grow in character and in their understanding of what makes good literature.  Is the plot interesting and clear? Are the characters fully developed and intriguing? Is the book well-written and full of good vocabulary to expand their knowledge or is it full of silliness and twaddle (as Charlotte Mason would say!)?

Is the plot interesting and clear? Are the characters fully developed and intriguing? Is the book well-written and full of good vocabulary to expand their knowledge or is it full of silliness and twaddle (as Charlotte Mason would say!)?

 

Choose literature that has characters who exemplify godly character and are people that your child can emulate or learn from.

Here are a few books that have lists of great literature:

“All Through the Ages” – This is considered the ultimate book list, it includes 20 different booklists all-in-one, all for around $30 available at Heppner Legacy Homeschool Store. The other great thing about this book is that the lists are organized by historical time period, and by their age appropriateness, so you can use the list to help in choosing books to go along with your history curriculum as well.

“Honey for a Child’s Heart” by Gladys Hunt, recently revised and lists books for children ages 0-12 for a little over $9.00 on Amazon.

“Books Children Love” by Elizabeth Laraway Wilson, another recently revised comprehensive guide to the best children’s literature for $22.00 on Amazon.

I also recently found a website written by Sarah Mackenzie called “The Read Aloud Revival” that I want to recommend.  Sarah’s currently got a 31-day challenge to help get you started.  Go to https://amongstlovelythings.com/ to find out more!

If you don’t already read aloud to your children, make a resolution to start in 2017! It’s one of the best things you can do for them.

If you don’t like to read, then consider getting books on CD for your kids to listen to, and listen right along with them.

Here are a few read-alouds that we enjoyed:

The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos  This is one of the best Bibles to read aloud to children because it’s written so a child from ages 4-12 can understand it, while staying close to the original scriptures.

childs-story-bible

“Mike Mulligan and His Steamshovel” by Virginia Lee Burton. A great picture book about a man and his steam shovel that teaches about friendship and hard work. mike-mulligan

 Billy and Blaze” by C.W. Anderson.  A series of books that tell of the adventures of a boy and his horse.  These are picture books, so great for younger children. Each story has a lesson to be learned.billy-and-blaze“Christian Heros: Then and Now”  by Janet and Geoff Benge. A series of stories about Christians who have made a huge impact around the world.  These stories are very engaging and will definitely impact your life.heroes-then-and-now

Miller Family Series  by Mildred A. Martin. These are character building stories written by an Amish Mennonite author.wisdom-and-the-millers

“A Little Princess” by Francis Hodgson Burnett. The story of a little princess who is orphaned while living in a boarding school.  Boys and girls will enjoy this story.

a-little-princess

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater.  A funny story of a painter who has a houseful of penguins. poppers-penguins

The Borrowers by Mary Norton.  A series of stories about little people who live under the floor of an old English manor. borrowers

“Little House on the Prairie”  by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The chronicles of Laura Ingalls Wilder as she grew up on the Western frontier. Boys and girls enjoy this story and there’s a unit study book called the Prairie Primer that you can use along with it to make it a full curriculum for children grades 3-6.little-house-books

The Indian and the Cupboard  by Lynne Reid Banks. A series of books in which a little boy’s toy Indians and Cowboys come alive.indian-in-the-cupboard

My Side of the Mountain Trilogy  by Jean Craighead George.  A series of books about a boy who goes out and lives alone on a mountain and the adventures that he has.  Especially popular with boys.my-side-of-the-mountain

Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter. The story of an orphan from Chicago who ends up working for a lumber company and falls in love. Any books by Gene Stratton-Porter are wonderful!

Make this read aloud time a great family bonding time and wait in anticipation to see the benefits!

reading-aloud-to-your-children

12 Ways to Help Your Family Focus on Jesus This Christmas

12-ways-to-help-your-family-focus-on-jesus-this-christmasChristmas is a great time to talk with your children about how much Jesus loves them.  He loves us so much that He came down to this earth as a little baby to live among us! His birth is the beginning of the wonderful story of all He did while He was living here and how He died to pay for our sins.

Sadly, the commercialism of this holiday can so easily distract us from the real reason for the season. We need to be intentional about helping our children (and ourselves) to keep the focus on Jesus, the real reason for the season!

Here are some suggestions on how to do that:

12 ways to keep the focus on JESUS this Christmas:

  • Have a nativity scene in a central place in your home and talk about the Christmas story whenever the opportunity arises. (when the children are little, it’s best to have a non-breakable one so they can touch and enjoy!) We usually had two set up, one was specifically for the children to play with. plastic-nativity
  • It’s not too late to use an Advent calendar this year. Here’s a great free Advent calendar that uses Bible verses for each day.
  • Watch “The Story of Christmas”  together (for young children) or “The Nativity Story”  for a little older children. the-nativity-story
  • Have a Christmas stocking for Jesus and let your children fill it with notes for Him.
  • Get the interactive nativity story book “What God Wants for Christmas” by Barbara Rainey.what-god-wants-for-christmas
  • Put a gift under the Christmas tree for Jesus every year – you can give to a worthy cause and put a picture of it in a gift box under the tree. Or write out what you plan to do as a family to serve the Lord that year, and put that in a gift box under the tree. It’s a great way to help children understand how we can show Jesus our love for Him in tangible ways. And it also reminds us that it’s really Jesus’ birthday that we’re celebrating!
  • Do something to bless someone else this Christmas: maybe a needy family, or the homeless, or someone overseas. Check out the Angel Tree ministry, or Union Gospel Mission, World Vision or Compassion ministries.  Discuss as a family where you’d like to give or serve.  If your children are older, go and serve a meal at the homeless shelter.  Or go to Feed My Starving Children and put together bags of food for starving children in other countries. Talk about being the hands and feet of Jesus, and how He’s working through you to bless others.
  • Make a birthday cake for Jesus as part of your Christmas celebration. I let the children help me decorate it too.
  • Memorize the Christmas story together from Luke 2:1-20 (for younger children, only memorize a small portion of this).  If memorizing is too much, just read the Christmas story on Christmas morning.
  • Have family devotions each day in the few weeks before Christmas, discussing the Names of Jesus and who HE is! Go to the side bar on the right and request the Names of Jesus devotional for free!
  • Attend church on Christmas Eve or Christmas day (or both if it works out like this year!).
  • On Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day, have family devotions specifically focused on the Christmas story and how much Jesus loves us and how we can show our love for Him.

 

A few years ago, our oldest two kids put together a cute video on YouTube that I’d like to share with you, hopefully it will make you chuckle like it does us! It’ll show you what NOT to do in your family devotions on Christmas day!

 

Here’s the link for the YouTube video: Merry Christmas from Jordan and Bethany! 

 

I hope your Christmas devotions go better than ours did in this video!   One tip: don’t’ hand your children a gift to hold while you talk with them… what was I thinking??

May the Lord bless your family and your Christmas together this year! Merry CHRISTmas!

12-ways-to-help-your-family-focus-on-jesus-this-christmas

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Great Educational Gifts: GAMES!

great-educational-gifts-games(This post contains some affiliate links)

 

Christmas is just around the corner, and the scramble to find the perfect gift for each of your loved ones has begun.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always felt that a gift that benefits a child’s education is a better gift than one that is just for fun and gives momentary pleasure (and often breaks and is tossed away!).

The cool thing is that toy manufacturers are catching on to this idea too and making toys that are educational as well as fun!  We can give a gift that makes our children happy and they’ll be learning something while they play without even realizing it!!

Games are great educational gifts for children of all ages. We often played educational games to learn concepts in the various subjects during our homeschool years. We also regularly had  “Learning Station Day” where all we did was play games and do fun things at the different educational stations I spread around the house.  (to learn more about having your own “Station Day” see this blog post “Beating the Winter Doldrums”)

Preschoolers up through elementary aged children can learn much of what they need to learn in school through playing educational games!  Middle school and High Schoolers will  learn and have skills reinforced while playing educational games.   It’s such a fun way to learn and children will want to play some games over and over, helping them memorize facts and information in a fun and exciting way!

Another benefit of playing games together is the family bonding that happens.  Of course, there might be some conflicts too, but that just provides an opportunity to teach conflict resolution skills, right?

Playing games teaches good sportsmanship where you can help your children learn to be good losers as well. Our children need to learn to be happy for someone else’s success, and games are a great way to teach that.

Games help children to learn to take turns, to have healthy competition, and they can also learn to make tough choices and plan ahead.

Today I want to share with you some games that you can use in your homeschool to make learning more fun!

This isn’t just for homeschoolers though, because all children will benefit from having these educational games in their home.  Some of these were favorites of ours (and we even still play them!) and others come highly recommended.

For Preschoolers:

At this age, the educational focus should be on building gross and fine motor skills and teaching them the basics with their letters and numbers.  Here are a few great resources to do that:

Learning Resources ABC & 123 Picnic Activity Set:
for ages 3+, a picnic board with numbers on one side and letters on the other and lots of fun games and activities to play while learning numbers and letters.  A fun way to teach the letters and numbers. 51prkl7z1l-_sl500_aa130_

Learning Resources Alphabet Island A Letter & Sounds Game: ages 4+, A fun island adventure game where players compete to see who can match the lower and upper case letters first while avoiding the hungry sharks!  A fun challenge!

Smart Snacks Sorting Shapes Cupcakes Game: ages 3+, teaches shape recognition, matching and following directions.  Great fun!

Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears! Super Set: ages 3+, great for the creative child who likes to build things. Teaches sorting, grouping, design, counting, and construction and builds fine motor skills.gears-gears-gears

Learning Resources Beads and Patterns: ages 3+, great for fine motor skills, matching patterns and building pre-reading and math skills.beads-and-patterns

Math games:

Math is a subject that has a lot of memorization, and playing games is a great way to do memory work painlessly!

Learning Resources POP for Addition and Subtraction Game: ages 6+, a fun game where children practice basic math facts, two levels of play and three game variations (2-4 players).51phalxbpel-_sl500_aa130_

Hi-Ho Cherry-O Game: ages 3-6, great fun picking fruit and filling baskets while learning math facts.91lgiuxepkl-_ac_ul160_sr160160_

Learning Wrap-Ups Math Intro Kit:  ages 6+, a fun way to memorize math facts for engaging drill work in addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and pre-algebra.  There are learning wrap-ups for almost every subject – check them out as well!

Sum Swamp Addition & Subtraction Game:  Grades K+, Kids go on an adventure through a swamp while practicing their math facts by adding and subtracting numbers on the dice.

Tenzi Dice Game: ages 7+, An amazing dice game that can be played in 77 different ways to teach many of the math skills your children need.51r4neftz3l-_sl500_ss125_

40 Fabulous Math Mysteries Kids Can’t Resist:  Grades 4-8,  math mystery stories that give your children a chance to practice math problem solving skills.61c9mtvkwl-_sl500_pisitb-sticker-arrow-bigtopright35-73_ou01_ss125_

Snap It Up Multiplication Games:  ages 6-9, fast-paced card game that helps children learn their multiplication facts.   (available for learning addition and subtraction- Snap It Up Sub/Add Games  51gtifbiqal-_sl500_ss125_

Language Arts Games:

Language arts concepts need a lot of reinforcement, and games are a wonderful way to help build those skills while having fun!

Learning Resources Snap It Up! Phonics: Word Families: ages 6+, a face-paced card game that gives children practice with reading skills. 417w2q42n7l-_sl500_ss125_

Learning Resources Go To Press! A Grammar Game: ages 7+, children will complete a newspaper by moving from department to department, practicing their spelling, word usage, capitalization, and punctuation!

Super Silly Mad Libs Junior: ages 7+, these are a great way to reinforce parts of sentences in a fun and silly way!

Learning Resources Get the Picture Reading Comprehension Game: ages 7+, helps students learn to find the main idea in short paragraphs while unscrambling a mystery picture. Also uses multiple choice questions that help your student will see on standardized tests.  61okopmk6l-_sl500_ss125_

Code Names: ages 14+, an exciting game to build vocabulary and word association skills, even adults love this game!  51aaen5zgml-_sl500_ss125_

Apples to Apples Junior: ages 9+, a fun word game that will have everyone laughing!  Builds reading skills and word association.  51lrtpcylol-_sl500_ss125_

Pop for Sight Words Game: ages 5+, a great way to help students become more fluent in reading sight words. There are two levels and other reading type games in the Pop Game Series.

Huggermugger: an mystery word game that has players testing their spelling, word unscrambling, and vocabulary skills.   There’s also a junior addition for ages 8 and up. 61souh9nbl-_sl500_ss125_

Bananagrams: ages 7+, similar to scrabble without the board, a fun spelling challenge.

Geography Games:

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?   Ages 10+, Children learn their geography facts while having fun trying to locate Carmen on the world board. great-educational-gifts-games

Passport to Culture Game: ages 10+, Exciting travel game where players circle the globe while testing their knowledge of world cultures.

Jax Sequence States and Capitals: ages 8+, similar to the regular game of Sequence only players are traveling the USA instead! 51jag2ouaol-_sl500_ss125_

Ticket to Ride: ages 9+, travel the globe to complete train tracks to destinations unknown! Although the geographical locations are a little inaccurate at times, this is a great game for teaching strategy and thinking skills and will give opportunity to discuss where places are located in the USA.  61ddqufhuvl-_sl500_ss125_

 

Thinking Skills Games:

Settlers of CatanAges 10+, teaches risk management and resource management skills as well as negotiation and trading skills. A challenging strategy game that is loved by  many! 51ox1wytfl-_sl500_aa130_

Splendor: Ages 10+, a fun economic game with colorful coins and point cards that you have to acquire with the goal of being  the first to reach 15 points. 51l4yweaevl-_sl500_ss125_

Catch Phrase: ages 10+, an exciting game that teaches you to think fast as you try to guess words and phrases through clues. 51kmzoai3pl-_sl500_ss125_

Seven Wonders: ages 10+, a fun strategy game that helps players build budgeting skills and learn to plan ahead.

61spmqc-cyl-_sl500_ac_ss100_

This list just barely scratches the surface of all the educational games that are out there!

Give a game… or two… or three to your children this year and watch how much fun they’ll have while learning at the same time!! Games will provide fresh enthusiasm for learning going into the second semester!

 

I’d love to hear what games your family loves to play – please leave a comment if you have some favorite educational games! 

Kris

Next post:  Great Educational Gifts: BOOKS!

 

 

 

 

 

Understand Your Child’s Love Language

Photo credit: Dreamstime
Photo credit: Dreamstime

Children have a great need to feel unconditionally loved.  God created us to need love, and He sent His Son to die for our sins to show us His unconditional love. Jesus said we’re to follow His example of loving others in John 13: 34-35:

 

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

 

As parents, we need to show our children unconditional love, in part because the way we love our children and spouse will show others that we’re Christ followers.    But, also because our children need to know they are loved! Their emotional maturity depends on it.

 

5 Love Languages:

Many years ago, author Gary Chapman wrote the book “The 5 Love Languages” and it quickly became a best seller.  The concept of people having preferred ways they want to be shown love has continued to be popular ever since.  In fact, many marriages have been saved because couples applied the principles of this book and began to love one another the way they yearned to be loved.

 

He has since written books on the 5 love languages of children and of teens.  These concepts can be applied to almost any close relationship that you have!

 

I believe that if you understand your children’s preferred love languages, and you show them love in the way they prefer to be loved, you’re more likely to have better attitudes during your school days!

 

But just in case you haven’t heard of the five love languages, let me summarize the concepts here for you before we go into how they can help your school days:

 

In his book, Gary states that there are basically five emotional love languages, or ways that people express love to one another and receive love from others.  People tend to prefer to show and receive love primarily in one or two of these ways.  They will feel more loved if you show them love in their preferred love language.

 

The five love languages and how they relate to children are as follows:

 

  1. Words of Affirmation- a child who prefers this love language feels loved when you speak words of affection and endearment, praise and encouragement.  Words are powerful for these children.  This isn’t just praising what they do, but even more so, genuinely speaking about the good things you see in them a as a person.  Leaving little notes of encouragement for these children will go a long way. On the flip side, words of criticism can be very painful for children who have this as their primary love language.

 

  1. Quality Time – a child who prefers this love language feels loved when you give them your undivided attention.   Most children want their parent’s undivided attention on a regular basis, but this child will want it more than the average child. They just love being together.  Loving eye contact while you’re together means a lot as well as quality conversations about what’s important to them.

 

  1. Receiving Gifts- a child who prefers this love language finds the giving and receiving of gifts to be a powerful expression of love.  The gifts are a symbol of your love for them.  But the gifts don’t have to be big and expensive.  Even a small token of love shows that you were thinking of them when you made it or found it. Most children like to receive gifts, but these children will tend to make a big deal out of giving and receiving gifts.

 

  1. Acts of Service- a child who prefers this love language feels loved when others think of their needs or wants and strive to meet them. As parents, we’re often serving our children, it’s what we do, especially when they’re young.  However, as they get older, in our quest to help them become independent, we need to be careful that we don’t miss opportunities to serve them to show them love, especially if this is their primary love language.

 

  1. Physical touch – a child who prefers this love language feels loved when you hug and kiss them, or give any appropriate physical contact. Snuggling on the couch reading a good book, a simple touch on the shoulder when they’re working on their school work, holding hands, etc. Even a dad wrestling with his son can fall under this love language and will make him feel more loved if this is his love language.

 

I would encourage you to read the book to learn more:

 

“The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively” by Gary Chapman

There you’ll find a lot of specific suggestions on how to love your children in each of these love languages.

 

When we love people in the way they prefer to be loved, Chapman says that we fill their love tank and they feel completely loved.  This in turn affects their behavior towards us.

 

“People behave differently when their emotional love tank is full”

Gary Chapman from “What Are the 5 Love Languages: The Official Book Summary”

 

Children need to learn how to love the important people in their life in all the different love languages, and we should show them love in all the different love languages.  But they also feel more secure if you make a point to show them love in the love language that they prefer.

 

How can you determine your child’s love language?

 

  1. Realize it takes time!

Show them love with all the five love languages, especially when they’re little, but even when they’re teenagers, they need to experience love in all these ways. Teach them to show love in all the five love languages. Then:

 

  1. Watch their behavior and see how they try to show you love.

 

Do they frequently tell you how much they love you?

 

Do they often do something kind to help you and to show you love?

 

Do they want to be close to you, hugging and touching you a lot?

 

Do they often want to have you spend time listening to them, doing things with them?

 

Or do they tend to give you gifts throughout the week, a dandelion, or a picture they colored, etc.?

 

  1. Focus on showing them love in the way they show you love, and see how they respond. Do they seem more content and happy, more secure in your love?  You’ve probably hit on their preferred love language.

 

How can loving your child in their love language help your school day go better?

 

Chapman states the following in his book “The 5 Love Languages of Children: the Secret of Loving Children Effectively” :

 

“The most important fact to know about a child’s learning ability is this: For a child to be able to learn well at any age, he must be at the emotional maturational level of that particular age. As the child grows, his ability to learn increases because of several factors, the most important of which is his emotional maturity.  And parents have the greatest effect on the child’s emotional growth.”

 

A child’s emotional development has a great impact on their ability to learn!

 

A child who is doing well emotionally can concentrate better, has more motivation and will typically do better with their school work.

 

If a child feels unloved, they will have little motivation to tackle the challenges of learning.

 

How can you avoid having your child feel unloved?

 

Love them with all five of the different love languages, and watch to see which ones they seem to respond to most.  When you discover what your child’s preferred love language is, lavish the love on using that language!

 

You’ll find that your child will respond with a desire to please you and will be more cooperative with their school work! 

 

When their love tank is full, they will be more content! And a content child will do their school work more diligently and more willingly. Their focus and concentration will improve. It’s a win-win situation.  And it’s not that hard to do.

 

Of course, loving your child using their preferred love language isn’t like a magic ticket to good behavior.

 

Discipline is also very important in raising emotionally mature individuals.  Discipline comes from the Greek work “to train” and involves training our children to become mature adults who function well in society.

 

One of the most important aspects of teaching our children at home is discipline.  If our children won’t obey us, or accept our training, it’s very challenging to teach them academically! They need to respect us enough to do what we tell them to; to respect us as their teacher as well as their parent.

 

I want to be clear, discipline doesn’t just mean punishment when they do wrong, it also means keeping their emotional love tank filled and using positive encouragement as you train them to be respectful and well behaved.

 

Children are typically self-focused and are instinctively trying to be sure that they are loved.  If they feel unloved, or their love tank is low, they’ll start testing us to see if we love them.

 

How we respond is key.

 

If they still feel unloved by our response, they’ll continue to test our love by their behavior.   That’s where unconditional love comes in, we need to love them unconditionally, no matter how they behave. I’m not saying we allow bad behavior, but in our response and even in our discipline, we need to be sure that they know that we love them.  If we can use the love language that they prefer, then it will be even more meaningful for them and their love tank will be refilled.

 

When a child misbehaves, ask yourself: “Is my child’s love tank filled?” If not, “What can I do to fill their love tank as I deal with this misbehavior?”

 

 

I encourage you to the time to learn what your child’s love language is and strive to show them love the way they crave to be loved!

 

If you’ve learned some ways to show love to your children in one or more of these love languages, please share in the comment section so others can glean from what you’ve learned! I love to hear from you!!

 

Photo credit: Dreamstime
Photo credit: Dreamstime

8 Ideas for Keeping Toddlers Busy While Homeschooling

Keeping Toddlers Busy
Keeping Toddlers Busy

Homeschooling several children of multiple ages can be challenging in itself, but homeschooling while you have a toddler running around can often seem overwhelming!

When we first started homeschooling, our kids were ages 7, 5, 3, and 1; life was busy, to say the least!

Looking back, I think that the two littlest ones were not always given the attention they should have received during the school day that first year. I was so focused on teaching the older two all they needed to know!  Our two toddlers got into mischief more than I would have liked during homeschool hours, probably because they were trying to get more of my attention.   Maybe you can relate to this?

As we continued to homeschool, I learned some important lessons about how to make things go more smoothly with toddlers in tow.  I know there are many of you out there who have toddlers and are trying to figure out how to juggle homeschooling older kids while still keeping an eye on the littler ones.  So I’m hoping these suggestions will help your day go more smoothly as well!

  1. Give your toddlers special attention as you start your day:

Fill their little “love tank” full with as much undivided attention as you can give first thing in the morning. If they love to be read to, spend time reading to them; if they like to play games, spend time playing a game with them.  Let them know they’re important by spending 10-15 minutes of time focused on them.   It’s okay to start schooling the older ones later if needed.  Your toddler needs to know they’re important too, even though they aren’t “doing school” yet.

 

  1. Let your toddler participate in as much of your school activities as possible. If you’re reading out loud to the older children, let your toddler play and listen too. Yes, I know they may be a bit of a distraction, but you can train them to be quiet and listen (somewhat!) while they’re playing nearby.  It’s unrealistic to expect them to sit completely still while you read to the other children from a history book, but they will likely be listening as they play and you never know how much they’ll retain from what they hear!

 

  1. Set up “activity boxes” filled with items to be used only during school time.  These can be used when you need focused time to work with the older kids on their school work.  You can buy inexpensive shoebox size bins and have them labeled for each day and fill them with fun things your toddler can play with independently. Provide a mixture of several different things to do in each bin because a toddler’s attention span is short!  These bins can contain items that help them to work on their fine motor and gross motor skills.   A few ideas for what to put in the bins:

 

  1. playdoh with cookie cutters (you’ll need to get them set up for this one)
  2. magnets with a magnetic board
  3. stickers and paper
  4. durable children’s books
  5. blocks for stacking
  6. thick string and big beads to thread on the string
  7. a bucket of beans and scoops, as well as an empty egg carton to put beans in
  8. Legos
  9. Some of their favorite toys (cars, dolls, etc.)
  10. Ping-pong balls and a small bucket to throw them into
  11. Coloring books and crayons
  12. Simple puzzles
  13. Go to pinterest for more ideas: https://www.pinterest.com/krismcox/ideas-for-toddlers/

 

  1. Assign your older children specific times of the day to play with your toddler – when you really need some focused time to work one-on-one with one of your older children on a subject, ask another one of your children to be in charge of entertaining your toddler. This develops responsibility and patience in the child doing the caregiving, and is great for bonding between siblings (this is assuming you have more than one older child in your home)!

 

  1. Have pre-made snacks readily available: Toddlers often have meltdowns when they get hungry, so have some healthy snacks in baggies or Tupperware containers that you can quickly put out for your toddler when they get hungry.  Having a cup of water ready and accessible for them to grab when they get thirsty will also help.

 

  1. Plan to take frequent breaks: Expect interruptions! Your toddler will need you to take some time with him/her throughout your school time. You can avoid most unexpected interruptions by planning breaks in your schooling every 15-20 minutes to give your toddler the attention he needs.  If a toddler feels like he’s being ignored for long periods of time, he’s more likely to get into mischief!   It’s also good for all your children to have physical activity breaks throughout the day. Activity breaks are good for your older children to regain focus, and you can have the toddler participate in physical exercises as much as they’re able along with the older children.  These “brain breaks” are a great way to help kids regain focus in their school day and toddlers can enjoy them too! Check out Heather Haupt’s “Brain Breaks” for ideas of what to do for physical activity. If you don’t want everyone to take a break you can plan breaks for just one of your older children to play with your toddler too.

 

  1. Busy board: I wish I’d have thought of this when I had toddlers! I found this idea on pinterest and was so impressed with it, I wanted to share it.  A busy board is just a board with all kinds of real life items that kids love to play with glued to it.  Things like a small calculator, key chains,  simple door locks,  door jams, magnetic letters, buttons to push, etc. busy-board

8. Make use of naptime! Of course, you’ll get some of the best quiet time to work with older students when your toddler is down for a nap.  Use nap time to work on subjects that require a lot of concentration and quiet focused time.

 

My biggest hope in writing this post is to help moms of toddlers realize what I learned the hard way:

Your toddler’s need for time and attention is equally as important as teaching your older children their three R’s.

I want to encourage you to NOT look at them as an inconvenience or a distraction from your homeschool teaching, rather recognize that they are at an important stage in development, and they need your time too.  You’ve already begun homeschooling them as well, just not in reading and math!

Having the right perspective will make all the difference on how you respond when your toddler has a meltdown right in the middle of your history lesson with the older children. Your children are watching how you react when things don’t go as planned, and with God’s help, you can respond in love to your little one.

Please share ideas that have worked for you in keeping toddlers busy during your homeschool day in the comment section! Your idea might help someone else!

Keeping Toddlers Busy
Keeping Toddlers Busy

Self-Control: Building Godly Character in Your Children

Self-control
Self-control

(5th in a series on building godly character in your children)

Our youngest son has always been curious and adventurous. As soon as he learned to open doors, he had trouble controlling his curiosity and desire to go outside.  We had to install a “Jonny-lock” (named after him) to keep him from heading outside when we weren’t looking (he was fast, and also the youngest of four, so life was busy)!  As he grew older, his curiosity caused him to wander away in public places… we lost him briefly once at the Mall of America and also at the State Capitol building!  He needed self-control regarding his curiosity!  Thankfully he became more self-controlled in this area before I was completely grey-haired at an early age!

As a child, my brothers and I had a hard time not overeating on Thanksgiving day. My mom says we would eat two Thanksgiving dinners (one with each of the grandparents) and then go home and be sick all night! We either needed to learn to eat less at each place, or we had to change our traditions!

Self-control isn’t an easy thing to learn!  Especially when it comes to food, but anything we enjoy or desire can tempt us to lose control and overindulge or do things we regret!

Thankfully self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, so we don’t have to develop it completely on our own!   God helps us to have the self-control we need in life. Self-control is essential in our struggle against our sinful nature and desires, and God knows we need His help!Galatians 5 22 23

The Blue Letter Bible defines self-control as: “the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, esp. his sensual appetites.”   Some synonyms of self-control are self-discipline, self-constraint and strength of character.

As parents, we need to teach our children about having self-control.  If we let them have all they want whenever they want it, we’re creating an out of control monster that no one will want to be around!

How can we help our children learn self-control?  Here are some ideas that might help:

  1. As always, the first thing we need to do is pray for our children!

Self-control is an important character quality to God! There are many scriptures that speak about it. And, because it’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit, it’s God who will ultimately be the One to develop this quality in our children as they grow in their faith in Him. We need to seek Him help!

  1. Use games to teach self-control:stop go
  • Red light/Green light is always a favorite! Have the children start at a line telling them they can only move forward towards you when you call out “green light”. The second you call out “red light”, they must stop. Those who don’t are out of the game. (this works on obedience too!)
  • Freeze tag is another favorite. There is one child who is the “tagger” and the other children are free to run. Once the “tagger” touches a child who is free, they must freeze and stay there until someone who is free touches them and releases them from the freeze.
  • More games for working on self-control can be found at www.yourtherapysource.com
  1. Talk about the importance of self-control beginning at an early age.

I think a child in their twos can begin to understand this concept, but don’t expect them to master it that early! You’ll see some of the biggest changes from ages 3-7.  It’s important to explain why self-control is necessary and to use examples throughout the day where it’s good to have self-control: with food, with emotions, or anything that might cause a child to act impulsively and inappropriately.

  1. Have clear expectations.

You’ll need to remind younger children of them often.  Be proactive! When you’re going into a situation where a child might be tempted to lose control, coach them and remind them of how you expect them to behave.  For example, if you’re going to a playdate with a large group of kids, beforehand talk about situations that might arise.  Give them ideas for what they can do if someone takes a toy away from them or hits them.  Talk about how they can handle it without losing self-control themselves. For Jonathan, prior to field trips, we often talked about the importance of making sure he could see where I was at all times!

  1. Use teachable moments.

If your child loses his temper because he isn’t getting his way, calm him down, and then talk about what he could do differently next time he feels frustrated so that he can express himself in a way that would exhibit better self-control.  Teaching him how to express himself in a controlled manner is something that will help him well into adulthood.

  1. Teach your children about delayed gratification

Maybe you’ve heard of the “marshmallow test”?   This test was done with preschoolers who were given the option of eating one marshmallow or waiting for a period of time and getting two instead.  Interestingly, these children in the study were followed into adulthood and the children with the ability to delay gratification and wait ended up doing better on scholastic achievement tests, were more likely to finish college and less likely to develop substance abuse issues.   Developing this ability to delay gratification is basically working on self-control and is a great idea to do with our children.  One way to do this would be to encourage your children to save their money for something bigger rather than spending it the minute they get it.  Or tell your child if they can wait till later, they’ll receive something better than that cookie they want! But, if you promise something better if your child will wait, be sure to follow through.  A child who finds out it doesn’t pay to delay gratification will be less likely to be willing to delay their gratification in the future.

  1. Memorize scripture together related to self-control

Proverbs 25:28: Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”

I Peter 1:5-6:  “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness,”

Galatians 5:22-23:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

  1. Use Bible stories to teach about self-control.

There are many great stories of people with self-control in the Bible.  Daniel and his friends were able to control their eating in order to be obedience to God’s laws even when the food before them was very tempting.  Joseph had great self-control in difficult circumstances. Ruth was a godly woman who controlled her desire to stay where it was comfortable in order to help her mother-in-law instead.

Self-control is something that takes a long time to develop! Honestly, I doubt anyone has perfect self-control. I know I haven’t mastered it yet!  But if we can help our children to understand the importance of it and help them begin to develop it when they’re young, they’re more likely to have self-control as they move into adulthood.  Remember, God wants to help, so ask Him to develop this quality in your children!

If you have any other suggestions as to how to teach your child about self-control, please share them here! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

12 Ideas for Raising Responsible Children

(4th in a series on Building Godly Character in Our Kids)

12 Ideas for Raising Responsible Children
12 Ideas for Raising Responsible Children

Recently I was visiting a friend, and was pleased to see her children helping her with emptying the dishwasher, cleaning up lunch and generally helping her with the chores around the house.  These children were between the ages of 2-8!  And they did it with a good attitude and little prompting! My friend was doing a great job of teaching them to be responsible starting at an early age!

Being responsible is basically being reliable and diligent to follow through on the things you are expected to do or need to do,  for yourself and for others.

To be a healthy, functioning adult in our society, we need to be responsible and do the things required of us.  It’s a character quality that’s highly valued in our society.  And God values it too! Although the word “responsible” isn’t really in scripture, there are plenty of verses that talk about things related to being responsible. (I’ll share some of them later in this post!)

As parents, we want to see our children grow up to be responsible adults.  Teaching responsibility is really teaching your child life skills and expecting them to do them!

Are there things we can do to encourage responsibility in our children so they’ll be able to work and live on their own someday? Yes!!

I’m not saying I have all the answers, or that we did it all right, but as I’ve been considering this character quality, here are some thoughts that the Lord has given me:

  1. I believe firmly that the biggest and most important thing you can do is to pray for your children regularly and often! Pray for God to build in them the godly character that they need to be responsible adults, to help them be people of integrity who are reliable and do what is needed or expected of them.
  2. Begin teaching responsibility when they’re young! As early as they are able to help, enlist their help around the house. Here’s a chart with suggested ages that are appropriate for the various chores you might ask a child to do. (Suggestions taken from “Smoothing the Way” by Mary James, Focus on the Family’s website, and my own experience!)  Keep in mind, anything a younger child can do can be expected of an older child:
Ages 2-3 Ages 4-5 Ages 6-7 Ages 8-9 Ages 10-12
(with supervision) (with supervision) empty dishwasher keep bedroom clean do own laundry
dress themselves set & clear the table bring laundry down personal hygiene cook simple meals
dirty laundry in basket water plants separate laundry put away clothes iron clothes
clear dirty dishes brush the dog wash dishes alone walk pets wash the dog
put away toys pick up “doggie poo” fold laundry simple sewing wash the car
feed & water pets take out garbage pour cereal/drinks peel veggies clean windows
help wash dishes sweep floors make sandwiches take own shower change sheets on bed
wipe up messes fold towels, wash clothes rake yard vacuum mow lawn (supervised)
hold dust pan sort socks answer the phone wash floors babysit (age 12+)
  dust make bed clean bathroom  
  help carry in groceries brush teeth prepare easy meals  
  make own bed comb hair get up with alarm  
    be responsible for pet    
         
Ages 13-15 Ages 16-18      
any household chore maintain a car      
babysit outside home hold a job/earn money      
help with deep cleaning purchase their own clothes      
earn spending money any outside chores      
make meal plans  Follow a Budget      
buy groceries (with help)  make meals for family once or twice a week      
make meals occasionally        

 

  1. Use a chore chart to help your kids remember what’s expected of them. Here’s a great chore chart idea for a younger child who can’t read well yet: SimpleChoreChart (1)

For older children, you can make a spreadsheet for each child with what’s expected each day and a place to check  off completed work each day of the week.  We had a “housecleaning day” once a week where the children helped with the deeper cleaning such as vacuuming, dusting and cleaning the bathroom.  The other days we just maintained those areas with spot cleaning and each child had their part to do.

  1. Show your kids how to do the chores. Demonstrate each task as you teach them, and walk them through it the first few times they do it themselves. Remind them that helping around the house is a responsibility that everyone in the family has and let them know you believe they can do these things on their own!
  2. Be a good role model and talk about what’s expected of them. Let them know what’s expected by modeling and talking about it.  “We always wipe our feet when we come in from outside, and if we make a mess, we clean it up.”  Be careful not to do for them what they can do for themselves! (Sometimes as moms we may “over-mother” and we need to challenge our children to do what they’re capable of doing!)
  3. Encourage them to do their best! God wants us to do our best in all we do and this is an important concept to teach our children.  Colossians 3:23  “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” is a great verse to memorize together.col 3.23
  4. Praise them often! Kids really do like to help and will be more motivated if they feel like you’re noticing and pleased with what they’re doing.  If your child didn’t do something as well as expected, you can show them how they can do it better, but be sure to compliment what they did right so they still feel good about it.  Be realistic on what you expect based on their age and extend grace as needed.
  5. Having a routine helps. If your child knows what’s expected of him each morning before he can play or before school, then he’ll be more likely to get those things done.  Have a routine that he has to follow each day. I knew a mom who wouldn’t let her kids eat till they got their chores done each morning! We didn’t go that far, but we did insist on them getting done by a certain time of the morning so we could get school started.  Try to make chore time more fun with music and singing and even making a game out of it on those days when feet are dragging. (Who can finish all their chores first and do them well too? Here’s a link  to www.babble.com for more ideas to make chores fun!)
  6. Have consequences if they don’t do what’s expected. If they don’t clean up a mess they make, or don’t get their chores done when they were required to, then inform them that they lose a privilege or have extra work they’ll need to do. The more you enforce your rules, the more likely they’ll be to follow through and do what’s expected next time.
  7. Memorize scripture together that refers to being responsible (here are a few):

 

Galatians 6:5: For each will have to bear his own load.

 

 

 

I Timothy 5:8: But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

 

Luke 16:10: “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

 

Proverbs 6:6: Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.

 

Colossians 3:23: Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men

  1. Consider participating in 4-H, Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts or AWANAS. These types of children’s clubs help build responsibility and good character in those who participate.  Sports programs can be great for this as well. Encourage your older children to do volunteer work too, that’s a wonderful way to build responsibility!
  2. With older children, talk about the responsibilities of adulthood and train them for them. Prepare your teenagers for adulthood by teaching them to cook, wash clothes, budget, keep up a house and yard, etc. ; explaining that you want them prepared for life after they leave home. You can even give them a monthly allowance that they have to use to buy their own clothes and use for their activities so they can learn to budget.  When they’re old enough to work outside the home, be sure to teach a good work ethic so they know to give it their best in all they do.money

 

Responsibility is a crucial thing to teach your children and to model for them in your own life.  You need God’s help to do it well!  I encourage you to seek Him and His wisdom as you raise responsible children who live for Him!

I’d love to hear your ideas and what’s worked for you in teaching your children responsibility too! Please leave a comment with your thoughts!

 

Obedience: Building Godly Character in Our Kids

Obedience
Obedience

(3rd blog post in a series on building godly character in our children)

Obedience is one of the most important character qualities to help our children develop as they grow up.  We want our children to be obedient to us as parents, to others in authority and ultimately to God.  But obedience doesn’t just naturally happen. We need to help our children understand the importance of it and guide them in developing this character quality.

According to Vine’s Dictionary, obedience in the verb form is defined as listening, being attentive and submitting.  It can be used in the context of obeying God or obeying someone in authority over us. When we teach our children to be obedient to us and to others in authority over them, we’re also building the foundation for them to learn to ultimately be obedient to God.  Children who don’t learn to obey their parents are less likely to be submissive and obedient to others in authority over them and, even more importantly, to God later in life. 

ephesians 6

Our goal should be to develop a heart of obedience in our children, where the obedience isn’t just outward, but also inward and done with a cheerful heart.  Teaching children about obedience to us and to God is foundational.  It will impact all their decisions in life. Also, when we obey God, we show that we have faith in Him and trust Him; and we bring Him honor.  Likewise, when children obey their parents, they bring them honor as well.  In Ephesians 6, God commands children to obey their parents and honor their father and mother. The result: things will go well for them, and they will live long. A key to teaching obedience is to teach your children WHY they should obey: share with them that obedience is pleasing to God, honors you as their parents and brings them blessings and a long life.

Children who are willfully disobedient to their parents or others in authority are not only unpleasant to be around, but they can actually be a danger to themselves!  For example, if they won’t respond to the command to “stay out of the street,” they could easily get hit by a car.  Once they get into their teens, there are many dangerous situations they can get themselves into if they choose to defy safety rules most parents put in place (don’t drive and text, don’t take drugs, etc.).

 While most parents know that obedience is a good thing, it’s amazing how hard it is for us as parents to stay consistent and work on teaching our children to obey! It’s hard work! Plus, in our society there is a tendency to fear being overly controlling with our children, and there’s a trend to let children have their own way rather than discipline them too much.  I believe children need boundaries and guidance to learn how to live wisely.

I knew a child once whose parents didn’t give him guidelines and direction, and they didn’t discipline him much at all during his growing up years.  He was constantly acting out to see if he could find where his boundaries were!  Frankly, he was not an enjoyable child to be around.  Unfortunately he grew up struggling with anxiety and continues to this day to not do well with authority, living a fairly self-centered life.  His parents definitely did him a disservice.

When children are young, we need to teach them to obey us as parents and train them to be obedient to others in authority as well.  But what if you have older children and you feel you’ve already lost the battle in regard to obedience?  Maybe you feel like your children rule the home rather than you.  Or maybe your children obey sometimes, but they argue to get what they want rather than just obey you the first time you tell them to do something.  Either way, with God’s help, you can still train them to be obedient to you; and I urge you to make the effort to do so before it’s too late!

I want to share with you 12 ways to work on building obedience in your children (these can apply to teaching obedience to you as parents, as well as obedience to God):

  1. Pray for your children each day, asking God to work in their hearts and give them a heart of submission and obedience. Pray for wisdom to teach them and train them in this area as well, and for the ability to be consistent in how you handle rebellious moments.
  2. If you’re starting from a place where your children are older and bad habits of disobedience have developed, have a family meeting and let them know that you’ve realized things need to change and that you want to obey God in regard to teaching them to be obedient.
  3. Memorize scripture together that relate to obedience to you as parents, and also obedience to God:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” … Ephesians 6:1-3

“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” Proverbs 1:8-9

 

“To obey is better than sacrifice” I Samuel 15:22

 

Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.” Deuteronomy 11:1

 

 

  1. Set up dates with your children to spend one-on-one time with them! Developing close relationships with your children will help develop their obedience to you. It’s much easier for children to obey a parent who shows them that they truly love them by spending time with them!
  2. Do a Bible study on obedience such as: “Because I Said So: a Biblical Study of Obedience” by Kim Sorgius together as a family.
  3. Try the “Flopped Cookies” activity from “Kids of Integrity” as an object lesson on the importance of obedience:   There are several other activities which focus on teaching obedience on that website that you might like as well.
  4. With younger children, you can role-play by playing the game “Run to Mommy or Daddy.” Make it fun, and give lots of hugs as you repeatedly call them to you using the phrase “run to Mommy” or “run to Daddy.” You can change your commands as well. The key is to practice having them obey the first time you tell them to do something. Keep your tone of voice calm, and expect obedience.  If they don’t obey, calmly walk over and help them do what you’ve asked them to do.
  5. Train your children to obey the first time you tell them to do something. Have you heard it said, “Delayed disobedience is still disobedience?” It’s true! Talk with your children about the importance of obeying the first time they’re told to do something.  Read the story of Jonah and the whale, and discuss how things would have gone differently for Jonah if he had just obeyed God the first time He told him to go to Nineveh.
  6. Reward obedience with compliments such as “thank you for your prompt response!” or “I love it when you are quick to obey me like that!”  You don’t need to acknowledge every act of obedience because obedience should be expected, but compliments and other positive reinforcements are very motivating for some children.
  7. With older children, explain to them that if they obey you cheerfully and promptly, and do so consistently, they will be rewarded with more freedom and independence. These types of privileges are earned when a child can be trusted to do the right thing.
  8. Read books on obedience together as a family. (There are some for all ages here and they are linked to affiliates):
  1. For more ideas, read this great post on how to develop a heart of obedience in our children:

Teaching obedience is probably one of the most challenging parts of parenting, but also one of the most important! If you feel you need more help on parenting and teaching your children to obey, consider taking this online course: “Discipline that Connects with Your Child’s Heart” by Jim and Lynne Jackson.  Or read their book: “Discipline that Connects with Your Child’s Heart”

Another amazing book on training your child is Shepherding a Child’s Heartby  Tedd Tripp, which teaches you how to get to the heart of the matter on obedience. There’s also a parent handbook to give you more guidance.

 

May the Lord bless you as you train your child in obedience and give you wisdom beyond your own to know what is best for your child.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27

If you have ideas to share on this topic or comments, I’d love to hear from you!