Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"The Baby IS the Lesson"

I was so richly blessed by this article, I thought I would share it with you all. The following is written by Diane Hopkins and was quoted from here. 
Enjoy it!!

The Baby is the Lesson
 by Diane Hopkins

One morning, on my daily walk, I was fretting and stewing over what I could possibly do with my one-year-old during school time. I was feeling some despair with a new baby on its way. I couldn't see any end to the disruption of babies in my home school for many years to come. I was praying and scheming at the same time: I could wait until the baby's nap to teach school, I could rotate the children with baby-sitting chores away from our schoolroom, I could get a playpen, etc.   --all solutions that didn't feel right-- babies need their moms!

Suddenly the Lord introduced one sentence to my mind and revolutionized my mindset entirely!

"The baby is the lesson!"

I thought I was trying to teach math, but in reality I had been teaching, day by day, how an adult values the precious gift of children. My children, by watching how I deal with the frustration of a crying baby or keep a toddler happy and busy with some of his "own" pieces while we play a math game, are soaking up "the lesson". Unfortunately, I had occasionally been teaching that the baby interrupts our learning.

How to be a Christ like person is the most valuable lesson a child could ever learn! The lesson is learned moment by moment; watching a parent being patient, handling frustration with kindness, pressing on for the goal in spite of numerous interruptions, valuing each child's needs regardless of inconvenience.
That valuable insight--how Mother handles the baby is the real lesson--has dramatically changed how I view my home school.  I am teaching foremost my values: godly character, kindness, respect for others, individuality, sacrifice and a host of other Christ like attributes.
Teaching them reading, writing, math, is very important to me, but my perspective has been altered.  The message that every parent relays to their children, whether they are aware of it or not, is:
"Mimic me, follow me, and I will show you the way a Christ like person acts and what he values."
Children try to copy everything anyway (our mannerisms, our daily activities, etc.). We must be certain that we are providing a correct pattern for them to copy, not only in our daily activities but in our attitude, our tone of voice, and our facial expression.
We need to conduct our lives so that we can say "follow me". If our children are to "buy" our values, what a tremendous responsibility we have to make sure we are living our best so the lesson is clear and well learned!  What more could you ask for from your home school than to produce Christ like people?

Teaching your children basically means getting your own personal life in order and striving daily to be the leader for them to follow.  Of course, we fall short and they must look to Christ for the perfect being but they need to see daily how one acts, speaks, lives, solves problems. We are acting as a proxy, in a sense, for Christ. Since they can't have his daily role model, then he has given his children parents to be an example, to point the way. Along with lesson preparations, we need to prepare ourselves by asking: "Is the pattern I live the way Christ would act? Can I say today that I have marked the path for my children to follow?"
Children learn from seeing their parent's role model. Watching an adult make a simple mistake (such as being too punitive with a child) and go through the process of repenting is 100 times more effective than your devotional lesson on repentance. This means children must be intimately involved with you in your daily life. A few hours a day after school won't do it.

Children should be involved in the adult's life rather than daily life rotating around the children. Research has shown that children who have grown up to be productive, well-adjusted adults are those who have been drawn into the parents' world; their daily activities, work, and interest; rather than having parents who centered their world on the child. 
When I began home schooling, I never could find the time to do the things I felt were important for my life; such as writing in my journal, corresponding with relatives, studying my scriptures, and more. Somehow, in my busyness of trying to teach the kids how to write in their journals, I was neglecting my own journal writing. Thankfully, we now have journal writing time in school daily, and we write letters to relatives together as a family on Sunday.
Home school life should help parents do the daily necessities, rather than usurp the time needed for them. Home maintenance, chores, food preparation, gardening, food preservation, budgeting, clothing care (mending and sewing), planning family social relationships, caring for small children, record keeping, quilting, wallpapering  are all wonderful life skills that enhance a child's education!

The parent's joyful task is to accompany the child into the real world--not set up a contrived pseudo-world to teach skills that the children would easily learn if they spent their time around adults who were striving to live good lives. What constitutes an adult trying to live a "good life"? Being a productive adult would constitute a full-time curriculum!  Plant a garden, read good literature, serve the needy, be politically aware, keep a journal, vote for honest men, develop your talents.
The exciting part about leading a child into the real world is that they are self-motivated. The moment I sit down to play the piano, all my children want to play and want to learn more. No sooner than I begin typing on the computer, I have the whole family "needing" to type. My efforts at writing have (humorous to me) stimulated the production of "books" from my youngest children. Modeling is so much more effective than lecturing.
Studies show that the biggest determining factor for a child's success in reading in school is if they have seen a parent reading in the home on a regular basis (particularly a father if the child is a boy). Somehow, the example says far more about the value of reading than endless hours in school reading groups. Real life is so much more interesting than "school" life--both for the children and the parents.
The author, Diane Hopkins, has written many articles of encouragement for homeschoolers, plus a game-based phonics program. You can request a catalog of homeschool resources from her family business at (801) 423-9111 or visit their website: www.ldfr.com.

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