Homeschooling: Cheap and Easy Way to Teach Kids to Read

I’ve never used a formal Phonics curriculum with any of my children and 7 of my 10 children read well or are well on their way.

I say that for only one reason: educating children doesn’t take much money or a teaching degree.

Basically the way I  have taught all my children to read is to begin sounding out letters when they are around 5 or 6 years old, depending on their interest/frustration level. (Of course at this point, they’ve been read to since they were born.)

I do this with simple books and with a pencil and paper, pointing out or writing letters and helping them first identify the letter name and then learning the letter sound. (I don’t even teach my children the ABC song, although they end up learning it somehow.) I may only spend a few minutes a day at first on this exercise. Very laid back, no “you’ve got to learn to read now” approach.

After they learn basic letter sounds, I have two, old laminated letter blend charts that I teach, (tr, sp, fl, gr, cl, etc.) also in a laid-back fashion.

Today I found a super-easy and fun way to teach them.

Since we’re in wedding mode right now and the little girls are excited about being flower girls, it was perfect. I pointed out the first blend and asked, “Which two letters are getting married?” The child answered, “s and p.” (The younger ones are watching on with great suspicion too, and consequently, are learning their letter sounds by mere exposure.)

So with a silly voice and my two index fingers held at a distance, one finger said, “I’m s” and the other finger said, “I’m p and I’m going to marry you.” Then I made the “s” sound with one finger and the “p” sound with the other, and as they got closer, the sounds got closer, until the two fingers finally kissed and made the “sp” sound.

My reading child thought this was fabulous and wanted to do the rest herself, which she did, and it worked beautifully!

So go marry some letters and relax–they’ll learn to read!

 


Raising Children is a Terrible Waste of Time

I think I finally agree with the feminists that raising children is a waste of time. After all, anyone really can do it. So why not let a paid day care worker handle the messes, settle the squabbling, feed the babies, change the diapers and keep them happy so you can do something meaningful, contributing to society?

Few will come right out and say it like that, but they should. Why aren’t we being honest?

Motherhood isn’t treated like an important position-like a profession, because raising children isn’t important. And I agree.

In fact, raising children isn’t just unimportant, it’s exceedingly destructive.

What we should be doing is raising men and women. That’s real parenting. And that’s where we’ve missed it. Tragically. Monumentally. Ignorantly.

No one wants to raise children–and who can blame them? Raising children is cleaning up messes and never getting help. It’s settling squabbles and never seeing change. It’s changing diapers and laundry and preparing more food but it’s never more than that. It’s continually sacrificing for the needs of others with no reciprocating sacrifice and no reward. So we either hire someone else to do it, or we grit our teeth and suffer through it.

Now we have a crisis: a society raising children while few want to do the hard, but incredible work of raising people. Adults who will take our place as cogs in the wheel of life. Do you want to contribute to society? Every other profession pales in comparison to your contribution of raising men and women. Because everything depends on who we bring up to carry out life in the next generation. Everything.

We got so short-sighted. In our world of instagram, instant news and instant gratification, we stopped raising people because people take time and sacrifice and work. But maybe more than that, we lost our ability to look past today and saw just a child with demanding physical needs, and forgot his becoming a person–a person of strength and courage and wisdom and love and compassion (if that’s what we put into him)–and how much that involved and how much it takes mothers and fathers and family pouring into the life of another person to ensure that he really becomes a whole person.

Instead, we have generations of people who grew up and remained children. Adult-children who get mad and have never learned how to handle anger or love their enemies and so they walk into companies and open fire at their “play mates” that hurt them.

Adult-children who blame everyone but themselves when things go wrong, and who fully expect the government to fix all their problems because no one ever taught them how to handle life and difficulty and change. They never learned to take responsibility for their actions, and believe they deserve whatever they want.They were given everything except the few things they really needed so now they borrow money to get the things to fill the void.

We’re surrounded by grown-up-children who never learned to be content with simple things, to find satisfaction in hard work and enjoy the crowning sunset at the end of a long day.

We have adult-children who are having their own children and they don’t like them because raising children is frustrating and this cycle spins at dizzying speed and we are all paying the price.

Oh that we would find our love and zeal and passion for raising people!

Do you know perhaps the most tragic part of all? Since we don’t see past this temporal busy-work that goes along side of raising children into people, children themselves have lost their worth. We don’t value children because we don’t value the process of raising them into whole men and women.

But there’s hope. Change starts with you and me. It’s easy even for those of us who do value the work of motherhood to get short-sighted and forget to see the men and women in the faces of our children. It’s easy to forget the shaping of lives that goes on in the midst of daily life, the lessons learned at a thousand places in the day. Anyone can raise children, but only committed, devoted, my-life-for-yours parents can raise people who will contribute significantly to the human race.

And then we can rally around other young parents and remind them of the life-work of pouring into the next generation for all of our sakes.

The monumental happens in the minutia. Raise people.

(If you need to renew your vision, get When Motherhood Feels Too Hard. Short, daily snippets of powerful reminders of what this business of raising men and women is about in the dailiness of life.)


Don’t Miss Life Waiting for it to Happen

I needed a reminder this morning, so I thought I’d remind you too–all too often I miss life!

Aren’t we usually waiting for something? The next activity, the next appointment, the next break? And we have this false idea that life is a certain kind of moment or event.

But most of life is composed of ordinary moments. How often do I not only miss those, but even ruin them? If I’m too busy preparing for the next thing, then it’s easy to get interrupted in the now. And interruptions cause frustrations; and frustrations cause words and attitudes that do not reflect the kindness of God.

What if stopping to tie a shoe–for the 6th time, was something I saw, not as an interruption, but an opportunity to stop what I’m doing, smile at my little one, and while I’m tying, speak into his heart: “I hope you know how glad I am that you live here.”

Or a potty training moment was seen as a privilege, sharing a milestone in my child’s life–something not everyone gets to do.

What if all those “interruptions” are not interruptions at all, but God’s divine appointments in the ordinary, to test my heart, to see if my treasure is where it should be?

How many smiles are left “unsmiled“? How many sunsets left unshared? How many hurt feelings left unsoothed? Hugs left unhugged? Questions left unanswered?

I’ve said it before, but Jesus’ last “spectacular” act, was anything but spectacular. But spectacular does not equal important. “Wash each other’s feet.” Do the small things. Willingly. Happily. With a heart of love.

Oh that I would remember that as I pour myself into this Mother Work!

“In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.” Psalm 94:19


Getting Your Children to Obey

I received this email last week and it is not unlike many I have received, in addition to questions from young mammas in my real life. Perhaps you can relate:

“Kelly,

I am frustrated and I don’t know who to talk to. I have two small children, 3 and 5. They are good kids, but lately I stay impatient and seem to lose my temper over silly things. They obey sometimes but usually not until I raise my voice. But they know what their [sic] supposed to do, so that’s why I get frustrated. I want to enjoy my children, but lately I don’t. I feel sad and know this isn’t the way God meant for it to be. Do you have any suggestions?

Sincerely,

(Name withheld)”

When the Bible talks about children being a blessing, it doesn’t come without a parent’s responsibility to train them in the way they should go. It takes time, commitment and patience. I am so sad when I see young parents not enjoying their children because they have simply failed to implement some basic child-training that would bring joy to both them and their children, and allow them to have the kind of loving relationship God intended.

In a nutshell, parents are responsible for setting healthy boundaries for their children, establishing consequences for disobedience and being consistent. This is a loving thing and should be a priority for parents who desire to help their children grow into mature, healthy adults.

Unfortunately, there are so many opinions of child-rearing floating around that are unbalanced in one direction or another. The Bible calls for a balanced approach, and this is what we must seek.

Six years ago I wrote Getting Your Children to Obey and recently I revised it and added a new section with Scripture to addresses different character issues. (The book is also now only $3.97, $2 off the original price!)

If you want further reading and study on this important topic, I think you’ll find this book extremely helpful.

BUY NOW


A Woman’s Function in Society From Home (G.K. Chesterton)

And here, Chesterton makes a profoundly important point, almost completely lost in our society, to our detriment. Oh where are the voices who will keep proclaiming the infinitely important work to do at home that cannot be done by another?

“Babies need not to be taught a trade, but to be introduced to a world. To put the matter shortly, woman is generally shut up in a house with a human being at the time when he asks all the questions that there are, and some that there aren’t. It would be odd if she retained any of the narrowness of a specialist. Now if anyone says that this duty of general enlightenment (even when freed from modern rules and hours, and exercised more spontaneously by a more protected person) is in itself too exacting and oppressive, I can understand the view. I can only answer that our race has thought it worth while to cast this burden on women in order to keep common-sense in the world. But when people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes. and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.” -G.K. Chesterton


God is Just Using Us

One of my greatest epiphanies as a mother who often feels overwhelmed was reading about Moses.  I shared my epiphany in the post, Moses and Motherhood:  The Beauty of Broken Vessels.

Today I had to rally up that same courage again so I gave myself a shot in the arm with a condensed version. Maybe you need one too:

“Moses, I want you to go tell Pharaoh to let My people go.”

(chuckles) “Lord, in case you haven’t noticed, I am one man and Pharaoh has thousands, and I don’t think he’s in the mood to just “let Your people go”…besides that, I have a speech impediment.  Not qualified–too hard–can’t do it.”

“Moses, how smug of you to think I’m depending on YOU to do it.  I AM that I AM.  I will do it, I’m just using you as an instrument.”

When we understand that we are instruments in His hand and when we fully grasp that He is doing something really big through us–through our children, through our husbands, through our families, churches and communities–we can march ahead with confidence. He chose us! Full of impediments. Full of fear and weakness and fully human.

He knows our limitations and He still says, “Go, and I’ll work miracles through you.”

Sometimes I need to stop arguing with God about how inadequate I am and start facing my challenges with the unstoppable resolve of having I Am at my side.

 


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