I hear that women are supposed to be great at multitasking, but I think my genes must have missed that memo. While my mind often tries to go a million miles a minute, doing anything practical tends to require my full concentration. I could barely even write a paper in college while listening to classical music. (Hopefully I’ve moved a little beyond that point…I’m testing it out with some Mozart now. If this post becomes unintelligible, you’ll know why.)
Anyway, the way this works out in my schooling is that I often get very focused on one particular area, somewhat to the exclusion of others. I want my children to be well-versed in the “three R’s,” so I make certain they are keeping up in the appropriate subjects. History and science are a little more flexible, but still regular. Overall, then, we’ve been pretty good at keeping the core subjects covered.
I haven’t paid a lot of attention, however, to other areas in which I believe my children need to learn. While I still try to leave them plenty of free time (partly because of the “learn through play” philosophy), I’ve been trying to improve on some of the “extracurriculars” that I’ve tended to ignore. Sometimes I need the reminder that the subjects on achievement tests aren’t everything…There are other skills and subjects that can be very important to life in general. Here are a few that we’ve been working on lately…
I have not always been consistent in studying the Word with my kids. They go to church, Sunday school, and Awana, but there is something special about doing devotional time as a family. There is, of course, a certain amount of spiritual training that can be worked in through teachable moments throughout the day, but studying the Word in a more structured way puts it more at the forefront of our minds, and our lessons can often then be applied in the teachable moments. My girls and I have been studying the Fruits of the Spirit for the past several weeks. These lessons do take some effort and time, but I have already seen the concepts beginning to take root in their lives (not to mention having learned a few things myself). It is well worth the effort!
I can’t say that I’ve been in the habit of giving my girls a well-rounded education in housekeeping, but I think we’re improving from the…well, pretty much nothing…they were getting as of a few years ago. Remember how I like to have full concentration when I’m trying to do something practical? Well, that tends to mean I don’t enjoy having a 4-year-old “help” me with the dishes, laundry, cooking, etc. This involves teaching and cleaning at the same time, and I just want the cleaning done!
In all honesty, then, my husband has done most of the educating in this area. Cooking is still one area that’s a bit lacking, but my girls are slowly becoming more proficient in many other household duties. Even the 3-year-old is learning how to pick up after himself and help with certain tasks. I’ve realized that not only do my children need the education and the discipline…they can actually learn to enjoy being useful! (Granted, there is still a lot of whining that happens, but we’re getting there.)
As a literature major in college, I am ashamed to admit that I have skimped a bit on formal literature curriculum. Fortunately, my girls tend to read a good deal on their own, probably due in part to the reading aloud that I did with them when they were younger.
With the demands of schooling the older children, however, I have not taken as much time to read to my son, until recently. I have begun trying to read at least 2-3 short storybooks to him each day, and he loves it. Not only will it encourage him to read in the future, but it also gives him quality time that can be in short supply on school days. I would love to do more reading aloud with the girls as well, but they often listen in on my reading with the little one anyway. One of these days we’ll finish the Chronicles of Narnia, but for now, Dr. Seuss isn’t bad either!
Arts and Crafts
I am a fairly “artsy craftsy” person, but leading craft projects with the kids? I’d rather pass. Fortunately, my girls tend to do a lot in this area on their own, but they enjoy something more challenging when they get the chance. They love making pinewood cars for the Awana Grand Prix, so we recently participated again in this year’s competition. It’s an exercise in self-control for me to assist them without helping too much, but since I’ve learned to take out my OCD on a vehicle of my own, it’s become a lot more fun! We all enjoy this lesson in artistry and creativity.
PE / Social Interaction
We’ve all heard the concern over “socialization” of homeschoolers. As a kid, I did spend most of my time with fellow homeschoolers, but one of the ways I “socialized” was through rec league sports, which also served as a form of “PE.” I have been slower to get my own children involved in these activities (mostly because I forget to sign them up in time!), but both of the older girls will be playing softball this spring (second year for my oldest). We’ll see how it goes! And in the meantime, we’ll supplement PE with backyard play and riding bikes around the block. 😉
Not all of these extracurriculars deserve as much attention as the core subjects, but it’s been good for us to start working out these muscles (literal and figurative) that don’t always get properly exercised. Here’s hoping this “workout” will have the side effect of improving my multitasking skills!
Photo Credit: First image graphic design by Charity Klicka; all other images courtesy of Jessica Cole.