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Posts tagged ‘school’

Pardon the big gap in my blog. It’s taken me a while to decide to write. I can’t promise to write regularly, but I have a need right now to write, so here goes.

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Regrets can be debilitating, but they can also be freeing. I recently realized that I regret something in my life in a very different way from how I used to regret it. I guess you could say I now know what I would have done differently if I had known what I know now, and it is different from what I would have done if I had chosen not to do the thing I regret.

Let me explain. Or rather, let me shock you, and then explain.

I wish I had dropped out of high school at age 15 or 16.

There. Did I shock you? I meant that, every word of it. I wish I had dropped out of highschool. I really do. That’s what I would do differently if I knew what I know now.

What I did back then was cheat. Maybe I’ve written about this before, but I can’t remember. All I know is that I was so tired of boring textbooks that I decided I would give myself time to do things I enjoyed by not studying things I didn’t care to know, and cheat to pass the tests so that I could get on with my life.

I regret cheating a lot. I’m not ashamed of it anymore–I mean, it was a long time ago. But I wish I had done things differently. But I don’t wish I had studied harder and been honest on the tests. What I wish is that I had dropped out of high school and just gotten my GED (which probably would have taken only minimal study, mostly for math, which I enjoyed anyway, so studying for it would have been a pleasure).

While I was working on that, I would have started fundraising to go as a student missionary. Of course, this is in the ideal world where my mom would have let me go as a student missionary. She never would let me go, and the only reason I got to go to Peru for 2 weeks was that I had already left home and she had no part in the decision. But if I could have, I would have gone as a student missionary to some foreign country for a year or so and done something there. When I got back, I would have probably gotten a job and raised money to go to some Bible Worker training school. When I was done with that, I would have been hired as a Bible worker, and worked at that for a while.

At least, that is what I wish I had done. Instead of going to Bible Worker training school, I might have gone to a Christian College and done study there. Maybe I would have been a student at the college where I met my husband instead of the secretary.

What I do know is, if I had dropped out of high school, my teen years would not have been spent studying (or avoiding studying) things I would never remember or need anyway. They would have been spent having rich life experiences, growing in character instead of deforming my character by taking the easy way out (cheating on tests). I would be a very different person today if I had dropped out of high school and pursued my dreams, the dreams that the Lord had placed in my heart.

Of course, I can’t spend too much time on regrets. I can’t change the past. I can change the future, however, and the future of my children. I will never make my kids sit for several hours a day doing dry, boring school work. Not at all. I will make sure they have the opportunities they need to succeed, and that might mean real life experiences instead of textbooks and workbooks. I hated history in high school, but when I think of the textbooks I had, I can’t blame myself for hating it. History from living books (books written by people who experienced the events) is so much more interesting! So is learning history on location (like I did when I went to Italy–if only that trip could have counted for a semester of history!).

What made me realize all this? What was it that made me wish I had dropped out of high school and moved on with my life? It was a book called Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally, by Chris Davis. Not that the author promotes dropping out of high school! But he discussed a group of honor students who he caught taking down the answers to a math test (he was the substitute teacher), and when he asked them why they thought it was okay, they said, “Hey, we’re not going to use this stuff in our future. She’s good at math, so she’s helping us out. We study all the time; we don’t have a life. Math isn’t important for most of us. But good grades are important. So we do what we have to.” What he proposes is giving children the chance to do things that are important, to learn what will help them in the path they see themselves going.

I have three children and might have more someday. So how can I take what I know now that I wish I had known and apply it to their futures? First, I will not force them to do anything that they find boring–not now, not ever. There will be time enough for that in college if they decide to go. Now, I will clarify, I am referring to schoolwork, not chores! But if a child finds it boring to color the pictures that match the sound, then why not just circle them and move on? Or even just point to them? If they want to color them because they enjoy coloring, then color away. But if they don’t like coloring, why force them to? If I’m reading a book and my daughter says, “Mom, that’s boring,” I’ll drop the book and either skip the material or find another way of presenting it.

Now, I don’t mean I won’t teach persistence. Once a child starts a project, I will encourage them to finish it under most circumstances. But to make them do something they find boring is just going to stifle creativity and love of learning.

There is another book that I am reading now that has a similar message to Gifted, and that is The Brainy Bunch by the Harding family. You might have heard of the family that had several kids in college by age 12, and the only ones who hadn’t started college by 12 were still under the age of 12. The book talks about what they did. They focused on the kids’ strengths, in much more detail than normal school would allow. They didn’t do every problem in the workbook, nor every page either. They made sure their children mastered concepts before moving on, but if the kid was proficient in something, they skipped the review. Now, I don’t think every kid should go to college, but these kids had dreams that required a college education, so they got it. They missed all the drama of high school, as well, and by the time most kids are trying to figure out what they want to study in college, they had already had a degree and some work experience to go with it.

Right now my daughter wants to be “a nurse and an artist.” She draws and colors incessantly, and she has skills at the age of 8 that I didn’t develop until years later. I’m still better at drawing than she is, but give her a few years, and I am sure she will pass me up. About the nurse part, I’m not so sure. She says she wants to be a nurse, but she almost never plays nurse or asks about what nurses do or anything. I think maybe we need to go on a field trip to a hospital and let her see firsthand. In the mean time, she also has an eye for decorating, and I let her go help a friend of ours who decorates part time. That’s a skill she could turn into a career, and she loves it.

My first son is into electronics. And Legos. He doesn’t have any yet, but shhhh, he’s getting some for his birthday next month. For now, he plays with duplos, and really gets upset when his toddler brother messes up his creations. But the electronics… every time I read a story book, he wants to know if they had electricity back then. It got to the point where I told him to listen to the story and look at the pictures and tell me at the end of the book. So we look for clues in the story to determine if they had electricity or not. For Christmas, he is getting a screwdriver. With two sizes each of straight and philips bits, he will be able to take apart most things. Then he can have my defunct waffle iron and popcorn popper, as well as any broken electronics I can scare up at the local thrift store for free, to take apart and study and attempt to fix if he wants. That should keep him busy for a while! And who knows? Maybe he will go into electronics or engineering or something?

The toddler, at age 2, is still too young to figure out what he might be, but he is already trying to learn the alphabet (he knows the letter S by sight and sound, and he loves “my wetter A”. I won’t be the least bit surprised if he teaches himself to read by the age of 4. He also has a larger-than-average vocabulary for his age, and he talks incessantly. For now, I try to keep him out of trouble–no easy task, to be sure!

All I know is, I am happy being a mom. Sometimes, I will admit, I have not always been so happy. Sometimes almost depressed. Mostly as a result of intemperance. But I realize that I need to have some purpose beyond just caring for the kids. I have decided to take voice lessons and to start singing more regularly at church, and offering to sing at other churches. And speak. I got to teach a Sabbath School class last week, and I enjoyed it so much! I wanted to preach when I was young, and I had some ability, but my mom wouldn’t let me. Now, though, I am going to let go of the inhibitions that were imposed on me by others. I cannot define my life’s purpose by what my mom thought I should or shouldn’t do. I need to do what God wants me to do, with my husband’s blessing. I have his blessing, so I will move forward.

And turn those regrets into something beautiful.

I’m really enjoying the new schedule that I developed over the last few days. Today was Day 1 of implementing it, and so far it is working quite well.

The only weak areas I can see so far are making sure the kids are occupied at all times with something. Some times work better than others.

For instance, I set my nap time for half an hour starting at 2:00. At 2:00 our time, 3ABN’s Tiny Tots for Jesus program starts, so I set that up on the computer for the kids to watch, and that keeps them completely entertained and quiet for my nap time. The baby is napping during this time, too, so unless he is sick or something, there is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to get my nap. When I get up, Manny goes down for his nap and Gislaine continues to watch the next program (Kid’s Time) while I get to blog. Then the baby gets up at 3:00 for a feeding. This is a new thing, and so far we are all liking it. (Manny doesn’t know that Sissy gets to watch a second program… we’ll see how long that lasts.)

We technically should be starting Kindergarten this year, but Gislaine never really finished preschool last school year. I blame it on my being pregnant, but really, I think I was just lazy. If I’d had a schedule then, it would have been better. But I figured that school isn’t really a big priority right now. I don’t plan on starting her in first grade until next year, so there’s been no rush. I never did a proper kindergarten before starting first grade, just a few workbooks, and that’s all I’m doing with her, too.

Part of the problem is that before I would try to squeeze school in later in the morning, once I was in the full swing of my housework. And it rarely worked out smoothly. So I decided to try something different. Morning worship is at 9:00–timed during one of the baby’s feedings. We eat while he naps, and try to finish breakfast clean-up before he gets up. Worship lasts 15-20 minutes, and then we have time to do a few last things, like brush teeth or make a bed, things that didn’t get done before worship. Then school starts at 9:30.

For now, we only have half an hour scheduled for school. Gislaine does a page or two each from 3 workbooks, then colors a little. The workbooks are books we picked up at the dollar store. She’s only about half way through the alphabet, so we have several weeks still to go. I’ll probably buy some kindergarten workbooks from the same place when she finishes what she’s got. Then next summer I’ll start planning for first grade.

After school, the kids have half an hour of playtime together while I start on my list of cleaning/organizing projects. Then Manny gets to play alone while Gislaine helps me for the next half hour. At 11:00 I get a half hour of time on the computer/Internet. If there are things I need to do–today that was planning our budget for the next month–they get done first. If I have time left at the end, I might check out Facebook or something like that.

At 11:30, it’s time to start lunch prep. Lunch is at 1:00, and I have to feed the baby at 12:00, so I break lunch prep in half. I either prep the food and cook it after feeding the baby, or start something cooking and let it cook while I feed the baby, depending on the meal. The kids play outside for an hour until noon. Once it gets rainy, I’ll figure out something for them to do inside during that hour.

While I feed the baby, we have story time. They get to pick a book or two, and today I started reading the Laura Ingalls series. We read a few pages from the first book today.

Today Gislaine decided to have a bad attitude during her work-with-mommy time, so she ended up getting some time in the corner and extra chores, so she missed out on playing outside. She was very disappointed about that. Let’s hope she has a better attitude about folding clothes with Mommy at 3:30, so that she can spend an hour outside from 4-5, or whatever the schedule says (I haven’t checked that far ahead yet).

So that’s where I’m at. I’ll share more about the schedule throughout the week if I have time. I should–blogging time is in the schedule!


This post is linked with the Modest Mom Blog.

Almost a week ago I discussed my early morning routine. Sorry it’s taken so long to get to this, but I have a good excuse. I’ve been sick. Again. This time it wasn’t quite so bad, just a major head cold, but it’s been some motivation to go to bed at a decent time, and I haven’t felt like writing much during the day.

But now I’m improving, the kids were in bed early, and I want to share with you about the after breakfast routine I have been establishing.

First of all, it is important to know that I am a S.H.E. all the way through. In case you aren’t familiar with that acronym, SHE stands for Sidetracked Home Executive, with an emphasis on the sidetracked part. And as a mother of young children, it is easy to get distracted! So I finish breakfast and just want to sit for a few minutes. Then I have to feed Manny (because his meal is different, and he often eats a little later than everyone else). Then I have to change a diaper. I also have to make sure Gislaine is getting her chores done (making her bed, collecting dirty laundry, etc). I have to referee any squabbles, answer the occasional phone call, and somewhere in there I need to brush my own teeth, make my bed, and get the kitchen cleaned up. It is so easy to get distracted!

In the past, I often would leave the dishes unwashed until almost time for lunch. Which, of course, would make me postpone lunch, because I didn’t want to do the dishes, and would wait until the last possible moment to start them. This made for more stress, of course. And I was always in a quandary about what to do first. Do I brush my teeth first? Do I make my bed first? Do I do the dishes first?

So finally I made a routine. I said, first thing after breakfast, I take my vitamins. Otherwise I will forget them, and they are supposed to be taken with food. My vitamins make such a difference in my energy and mood, but especially being pregnant now, I need my prenatals!

Then I put the food away and wash the dishes. Before I brush my teeth, make my bed, or do anything else. Granted, it doesn’t always work perfectly. My husband sometimes eats breakfast late, or Manny isn’t finished when I am, or there is some crisis that needs to be dealt with. But for the most part, if I do my best to stay focused, I can get the table cleared and the dishes done within 15-20 minutes. Of course, it helps that I emptied the dishwasher before starting breakfast, especially since the dishwasher is my dish drainer 6 days a week.

After breakfast, next thing I do is brush my teeth and make my bed. I list these two as one item, because the order varies, depending on whether the only bathroom in the house is occupied or not. Once we move and have a master bathroom, though, I think I will always brush my teeth first. I also remind Gislaine to brush hers and help Manny with his during this time, if he has finished breakfast. Sometimes my husband makes the bed before I get to it, and sometimes my daughter does it while I do dishes, but usually I have to do it. And remember, my excuse for not making the bed first thing upon rising is that I like to air it, and it is usually still occupied anyway.

The next thing on my list is laundry. That means sort laundry and start the first (and some days only) load. Now, Flylady starts the laundry as part of her before-breakfast routine, but I like my daughter to pick up the dirty laundry in the bedrooms and bring it out to the laundry room. That is her job. And before breakfast she doesn’t have time for that–if she’s even awake, she’s drinking her water or having her devotional time, and then she eats. So while I’m washing dishes, if she has finished eating, I have her pick up the laundry, make her bed, brush her teeth, etc. She is able to do those things on her own, and it keeps her out of trouble and out of my way so I can focus on getting through the routine.

After the laundry comes what I like to call my Fly Mission. This is actually a Flylady Zone mission. When I finish this series on routines, I will tell about how I have adapted the Zone idea for my new home–which, by the way, is on location but not put together yet. Anyhow, there are 5 zones, one for each week. This week is Zone 4, the Master Bedroom. An example of a mission would be to grab something like a long-handled duster or a broom and go after cobwebs, or to declutter under the bed for 15 minutes. Some zone missions I cannot do, because either the room isn’t cluttered, or we don’t have a dresser in the bedroom (the closet has shelves, so our clothes go on those), or some other good reason. But if the mission applies to my situation, I do it after starting the laundry.

Next on my list is decluttering. Now, I have almost no decluttering to do in this house. I have refused to collect unnecessary things, and most of what I did manage to collect has already been pitched. However, I can use this time to pack something for 15 minutes or less. We are moving in less than a month, after all. I have used this time to pack the kids’ clothes that they grew out of (the most recent ones were piled on a box), to organize my closet, to pack our warmest winter coats (probably a bad idea–it’s gotten cold again), to pack the few books we have here–one medium-small box full, and so on. Sometimes I skip this item, especially if we are running late, because lately we have been going to bed too late (we as in my husband and I), so we get a late start on the morning. I am working on reversing that at least for myself, but even the most organized mother can have delays sometimes.

Next on the list is school. That is, my daughter’s preschool. We don’t do it every day, but I am for 4 days a week. We go through workbooks I picked up at the dollar store, tracing letters and numbers and doing other preschool activities. And coloring. During this time, I keep Manny occupied with several things. First, he gets to color with a dry-erase marker on a special spiral-bound board thing that has letters, numbers, and a space to doodle. He tires of that in about 5-10 minutes, then he wants to play with the wooden tools that his uncle bought for him. I keep these tools out of reach so the pieces of bolts and nuts and such don’t get lost, and he only gets them during “school” time, which keeps them special. After 5-10 minutes he is done with those, and then I give him books to look at until his sister is finished with her school. This way, I know where he is (and that he isn’t making a mess or destroying something somewhere in the house).

After this is free time that I can use to do whatever I want or need to do until time to start my pre-lunch routine. How much time I actually have depends on how long this routine took to get finished. Sometimes I only have a few minutes. Often I will tackle things on my to-do list that I don’t do every day, like ironing, or one-time things like making a call to set appointments. I often check the laundry during this time, especially if I have to do more than one load that day.

Eventually I want to put a quick sweep of the kitchen and dining room into my morning routine, but I need to streamline this one more first.

To recap, here is my after-breakfast routine:

  • Take vitamins
  • Clear table, wash dishes
  • Brush teeth, make bed
  • Sort and start laundry
  • Zone mission
  • Declutter/pack
  • School

This routine still has a lot of bumps in it, but I’m fairly happy with the order of it. Now I just need to become more efficient at it!

Next time I will share about my pre-lunch routine.

What routines have you established to make your life flow more smoothly?

Today Gislaine officially started “preschool.” Okay, so it’s not traditional preshool, but since her friends across the cul-de-sac are both going to school, I wanted to do something.

So every day we work on a memory verse. This week it’s John 10:27. We also focus on a character trait–this week is Attentiveness. We also have a letter and number of the week–that would be A and zero. She traces a few letters or numbers, or does some other simple preschool activity in a preschool book (most of those I bought at the dollar store). Then we have a story or a craft that goes along with either the character trait or the letter or number.

It took us less than half an hour to get today’s work done, and she enjoyed herself thoroughly. I made her erase some of her tracing for being rather sloppy and redo it, and that helped her to learn to do better. I also plan on having her learn to color realistically and to stay in the lines better (though she does tolerably well already).

So I suppose we can consider the first day of school a success. Now she’s over at the neighbor’s house, playing with her friends. That’s where I think 4-year-olds should spend most of their time–a few chores, a little school, and a lot of play.