You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. -Deuteronomy 6:7

Sunday, September 15, 2013

To Train Up a Child
I have been reading a wonderful book called “Home-Making” and have found such wisdom in it; I thought I’d post a few excerpts here and encourage others to read it.  It’s really about the glory of the Christian home – in all areas.  From moms and dads roles, and even to the role of the child and most of all, the great love, joy and sweetness that should fill our homes.
Just one of the many areas that I found encouraging (and challenging!) has to do with our children's roles and what God calls each of us to do to shape those roles.  If you've ever thought of homeschooling, but felt you were not capable - read this for some encouragement!
A Parent's Role
So far as children are concerned, the part of the parent is to train them for life, to send them out of the home ready for whatever duty or mission God may have ready for them.  Much more important than any way of teaching or training is the way the parents lead their lives.  They may teach the most beautiful things, but if the child does not see these things in the life of them he will not consider them important enough to be adopted in his own life.  To quote here the words of another,
"You cannot give your child what you do not possess: you can scarcely help giving your child what you do possess.  If you are a coward you cannot make him brave; if he becomes brave it will be in spite of you.  If you are a deceiver you cannot make him truthful; if you are selfish you cannot make him generous; if you are self-willed you cannot make him yielding; if you are passionate you cannot make him temperate and self-controlled.  The parent's life flows into the child's life.  One angry word from your lips will outweigh a hundred rebukes of anger.  One selfish deed, one social deception, will do more to mar than a hundred homilies can do to make."
The Child's Role
We know little about Jesus’ childhood other than one line that tells us that at 12 years old he was subject to His parents and for eighteen years longer he remained in their home.  This was Jesus!  It was over His birth that the angels sang their song: “Glory to God in the highest…”  He had made all the worlds.  He had adorned the heavens.  Him all the hosts of glory obeyed.  Yet he humbled himself, veiled his glory and dwelt in a lowly home of earth for thirty years.  He wrought himself with his own hands to help and support the home.  He submitted himself to earthly parents and obeyed them.
He obeyed them, not by constraint, but cheerfully, all these years.  He did his part well in the making of that home.
So what is the great duty of children in our homes?  To obey. 
Although He was the Son of God, he learned obedience to human parents.  He did their will and not his own.  He had entered upon the affairs of his heavenly Father.  He was here on earth for the greatest mission of all yet his preparation for that mission was not in any of the fine schools of the world, but in a lowly home; not at the feet of rabbis and philosophers, but with his own mother for his teacher.  What an honor does this fact put upon home!  What a dignity upon motherhood!

Most would not argue that the job of a child is to obey and honor the parents.  We know that God proclaims “Honor thy father and they mother…”
But nothing proclaims this louder than when Jesus, the Son of God, for thirty years in a lowly home on earth, submitted himself to human parents and obeyed their commands.
So does the thought ever arise, “Is it manly – is it womanly – to yield to my parents, to have no will of my own, to do their bidding in all things?”  Behold Jesus till thirty years of age yielding to the control of his human parents, asking them continually what they would have him to do, referring every question to them.  Was it manly in him?  Surely then it cannot be unmanly in any son of earthly parents in this world.  Where shall we learn manliness if not in the life and from the example of Jesus?
There is nothing manlier in all Christ’s life than his quiet subjection to his parents in that cottage at Nazareth, though conscious of his divine origin and nature and of his glorious mission.  There is nothing manlier on this earth than a man in the prime of his strength and power showing deference and love to a humble parent and yielding obedience and honor as if he were a little child.

Does some evil spirit suggest that such subjection to parents keeps one down, puts chains on his freedom, keeps him under restraint and hinders him from rising into grandeur and nobleness of character?  Did it have such effect on Jesus?  Did the thirty years of submission in his home cramp and fetter his manhood? We know well that it did not.
No one is fitted for ruling others who has not first learned in his place to obey.
Teaching at Home
And let’s remember who Jesus was.  Was there ever any human parent in this world who was really worthy or capable, in this sense, to be his teacher, to guide and control his life?  Was there ever, in any home on earth, such a distance between parents and child as there was in that home at Nazareth?  Yet this Son of God, with all his wisdom, his knowledge, his grandeur of character, did not hesitate to submit himself to the training of that peasant mother and that peasant father.  Should any child of this world assert that he is too far advanced, too much superior in knowledge and culture, too wise and intelligent, to submit to the parents God has given him?  If Christ could be taught and trained by his lowly parents for his glorious mission, where is the true parent who is not worthy to be his own child’s guide and teacher?
So this is the way in which children can do the most to make the home true and happy.  It is the part of the parents to guide, to train, to teach, to mold the character.  God holds us responsible for this.  We must qualify ourselves to do it.  Then it is the part of the children to accept this guidance, teaching, training and shaping at the parents’ hands.  When both faithfully do their part in the home life will be a sweet song of love; where either fails there will be discordant life, and the angel of blessing will not leave his benison of peace.
This home-life that is depicted is ruled by love; the parental authority is exercised in love; it seeks only the highest good of each child; it asks nothing unreasonable or unjust.  If it withholds things that a child desires, it is either because it is not able to grant them or because the granting of them would work injury rather than benefit.
When faced with the fact that Jesus was trained at home, it makes the homeschooling of today less daunting.  But more importantly, it creates a more humble thankfulness to have the opportunity… to do what God called me to do.  To create a home that has so much love in it that the children want to stay much longer than today’s children usually do.  To stay under this umbrella of protection while they seek to build their own homes and families!. Only by God’s grace will our family do this!
May we lean into the Lord as we seek to live a life of love and harmony with our children in spite of our many faults!  May we have a home in which we are all growing healthier and happier each day.  Where there is never any discord, any wrangling, any angry words or bitter feelings.  Where the home life  is a harmonious song without one jarring note, day after day.  Our home, no matter how humble or plain, may it be the dearest spot on the earth to each member of our family.  May it be made so happy a place and so full of love that no matter where one may wander in after years, in any of the ends of the earth, may this home still hold its invisible lines of influence and draw us ever near.   Amen.

Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Montessori Long Division (aka Test Tubes or "Racks and Tubes")

Prerequisites for this work include:
- Use of the single-digit division board
- Use of the large bead frame (we didn't use this since we do not have one.)

It is advisable to only introduce this material after the child has a full understanding (from the prerequisites) of what is happening in the division process. 

The "racks and tubes" or "test tubes" are materials which build upon previous Montessori materials.  After working with single-digit division this is a good next step to work with a really large number!

I also presented the stamp game division (I'll post about stamp game soon!) before introducing this material.

Children love to work with large numbers and it's exciting to finish a problem this big!

Presentation of materials:

Above:  Millions is represented by the black bowl, then down the line to the hundred-thousands,
ten-thousands, one-thousands and so on...

1. Write a number (dividend) for the child, such as 3,957,246.

2. Set up materials as above, with the millions positioned on the left.  The child should already know that, in division, we always start with the highest number. 

 3. Explain as needed, that, "there are always ten beads in each tube."  Count them and show how to skip count by 2's as you take them out.


 4.  Now begin setting up the problem with the dividend.  In the problem, the dividend is 3,957,246.  First, the child will take out "3" of the beads that represent the millions and place them in the corresponding dish.

5.  Continue with the remaining numbers - 9 beads for the hundred-thousands dish, 5 beads for the ten-thousands dish... and so on.

6. After all the dishes are filled with beads representing the dividend, look at the rest of the problem.  Ask the child, "What is the divisor?" (Answer:  3!)

7.  Place three of the skittles (see below) in the place holders.

8. Remind the child, "Each skittle gets an equal amount." as you take the appropriate amount of beads out of each tube and put them in the bowls. 

9.  Take the millions bowl with the millions beads in it, and divide them up among the skittles.

10.  Write the answer on the sheet with the problem written on it.  The answer is "1" - each of the skittles get "1" million.
11. Clear the board by putting the beads you've counted from the bowl back into the tubes and moving the millions slightly over to the left.

12.  Bring forward the hundred thousands and divide the quantity in the bowl in the same manner, writing the partial quotient when finished and clearing the board again.

 13.  Bring down the 10's thousands (5) and notice that they cannot be equally divided - there are two left over. (See below)

14.  Take the two that cannot be distributed and put them in the NEXT LOWER CATEGORY BOWL (thousands)

15.  As needed, help the child realize that we can change the 2 ten thousands for 20 1,000s (this should be easy to understand if the child has worked on division with the stamp game!)

Pouring two of the thousands bead tubes (10 beads in a tube) replaces the two
ten-thousands beads that were returned.

16. Distribute those beads into the board, write the partial answer (9) and clear the board and place it to the left.

17. Bring down the hundreds beads into the board and notice that you cannot even give one to each skittle. 

18.  When there is no sharing possible, write zero on the answer sheet and put the beads into the ten bowl. (below)

19.  Exchange and continue as before.

20.  When finished, place commas in the right place and review the problem with the child.

21.  If there happens to be a remainder (not equally shared beads in the 1 category), show the child how to write r=(n) on the paper to the right of the quotient.  (My child knew how to do this already from her work with the stamp game division.

Aim of this exercise is to introduce the child to long division!

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
-Psalm 90:12

See This for Another Example

Saturday, July 20, 2013


When homeschooling, it doesn't take long to figure out that if we're not organized, our home school feels like a sinking ship!  I had done some research on Sue Patrick’s Workbox system (See her website at via some other home schooling blogs and thought they would be just the thing for us.
So far they are working great!  It’s a little more challenging for me than some of the other moms because I use so many Montessori materials rather than worksheets and text books alone.  So I tweaked the system to work for us.
It takes some up front planning, but it will be well worth it.
Here’s a snapshot of how we are using the system so far.
I chose to buy some scrapbooking drawers when they were 50% off at Michaels Craft stores. One set for each child.  I believe these can also be found at JoAnne’s Fabrics and possibly at Sam’s Club.

I made some numbers for each box and added them with velcro dots so they can be removed as work is completed.
I plan out the content of each drawer based on my goals for the week which I map out on a spreadsheet.  I’m still tweaking the spreadsheet as I see how it works.
The subjects on the spreadsheet for the workboxes include:
-          Geometry, math, language and grammar assignments. reading and associated assignments, history, botany, zoology, science (Jan and May are our science months), geography, phonics (for my 2nd grader), spelling, Rosetta Stone Chinese, handwriting, Bible and Commands of Christ.
Art, PE and Music are covered in home school co-op classes.
Of course, not every subject is covered every day.  And I do allow my kids to continue work on a topic as long as they are concentrating.  So if History and timelines take all morning, so be it.  I’d rather have them dive deep into the material than to watch the clock and stop them just for the sake of getting to the next topic.
Once I have the work planned on my spreadsheet, I break it down into days and fill up the workboxes with instructions for the children.  They can open a workbox and see exactly what they need to do.
If they have a card in the workbox that says “WORK WITH MOM”, they know they need to get a “presentation” from me, or work with me to complete the entire assignment.  I try to stagger the “work with mom” boxes so that both children don’t need me at the same time.
Some subjects are done with all of us together, such as science and history.  For those, I plan them to fall at the same time (usually at the beginning of workbox time, or right after lunch.)
The top of the boxes holds a basket of each child's personal belongings.  Booklets for geometry (they write their own geometry textbooks), VFL - their "verses for life" from the Bible, Art sketches, Botany book with their own documentation, etc.

In this box, my daughter already knows she needs to mark the nouns, verbs and adjectives because she’s had several presentations on how to do it.  So this is follow-up work and does not require my assistance.  In the box, I provided the sheet she needs to complete as well as the appropriate color of pencils to complete the work.  (In Montessori, nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc., are all symbolized with different shapes of different colors.  These are established by now for any child who has been in Montessori from an early age.)

In this box, my son has pulled out his maps and he then goes to get appropriate materials rather than my putting them in the box.  He knows he can use any maps we have around the room, or the atlas books we have, to complete the labeling work.

In this box, Kailyn has several math problems – addition and multiplication.  (Subtraction isn’t taught until addition and multiplication are nearly mastered.)  She knows that she will need to get appropriate Montessori materials to complete the problems she can’t do in her head.  She might choose the “Stamp Game” for the addition and the “Checkerboard” for the multiplication. 

The beauty of Montessori materials is that once I’ve given a complete “presentation” of how to do the work, I can then assign follow-up work that the child can work on alone for the rest of the week or even as long as a month, depending on the level of difficulty and the various follow-up assignments available.  This makes it easy to fill in the workboxes with follow-up work.
The challenge with Montessori materials is just learning all of the best ways to use them and the proper order.  Since I’m not using a set textbook or curriculum that tells me what to do next with a worksheet for everything, it takes a lot more planning and time to educate myself.  But once I get over the hurdle of proper use, it’s a thing of beauty to fill up the boxes and then watch my children enjoy their work (most of the time), challenge themselves, and problem solve without mom having to tell them every time make a mistake.  They typically figure out errors on their own since the materials are self-correcting in most cases. 
The workboxes also eliminate any wondering how much more they need to do.  The kids are able to quickly see their progress as they take the number off the workbox and put it inside when they have completed that work. 
Another benefit is that they seem to find it fun to open the next box and see what is in there.  It might be a fun follow-up work or something they haven’t done before, or maybe their favorite subject.  I’m working on adding some fun craft items in the middle of the day to break things up a bit, too.  I’m not naturally “crafty”, so this will take some work!
I’m also considering letting them work in any order they want, rather than in the order the drawers are numbered.  That would be the Montessori thing to do.  But I’m not sure how that would go just yet.  I’ll do some trial runs to see if we can make that work.  Working in the order they choose might be a great way to keep motivation higher.  Then they could choose a fun craft, or favorite work, once they have completed their workboxes. 
We’ll see how this next week goes as I focus on staying flexible and upbeat.  No matter how good the system, I know if I am not excited about the home school day, my children definitely won’t be!  And if I do not keep a pleasant demeanor, my children will certainly not.
Colossians 3:20-21 ESV Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.  Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
Lord, help me to train up these children in your Word and teach them about all of your wonderful creation.  It is only by your Grace that I will be able to do it.  Amen.

Chore Packs

Chore Packs
Now, I can’t take credit for any of this, the idea was created by the Maxwell Family, see “Managers of their Chores” at

I originally heard about this idea from several other homeschooling families and I was impressed with the results they seemed to get. We’ve been using them for nearly 2 years now, and it’s been such a life-altering sucess, I thought it would be worth sharing with other weary moms!

Here’s how I implemented it in our home:

First, I came up with a list of items that need to be done around the house. Things that are done daily as well as bigger jobs that might be done only one time per week or month. Then I sorted through the lists to identify which items were appropriate for the ages of my children and which I would need to continue to do myself.

Second, I made detailed instructions for completing each task or chore. This is a critical step because mom’s idea of a clean room might not be the same as the child’s idea of a clean room. ;-0 These instructions might look something like this:

Clean your room
o Make bed (a presentation is provided by mom the first few times, on how to do this and how it should look when finished)
o Pick up all unapproved items from floor and shelves (these are items that are not approved by mom to be on the floor or out on shelves)
o Put away clothes, ensuring that all drawers will close properly (no clothes hanging out of half-closed drawers!)
In the beginning, we had a detailed list for everything – even brushing teeth!

Brush teeth
o Wet toothbrush
o Put small amount of paste on brush
o Brush for 2 minutes, until timer goes off
o Rinse mouth
o Dry brush and put away toothpaste
o Rinse the sink out so no toothpaste can be seen
o Wipe counter

Yes, we needed that much detail in just about everything. This way, everyone has expectations set properly.

Third, I began to provide “presentations” on how to do each chore properly so the child knows exactly the steps that are needed in order mark that chore as “completed.” It is critical to always check the child’s work after completion! For the first month, we had the detailed steps posted in the appropriate rooms so they could check the list and ensure they didn’t miss any steps.

Fourth, once the child knows how to complete a chore properly and completely, this chore card can be added to his chore pack without mom’s help. It's a nice little clip-on packet and each chore card can be moved from front to back as the chore is completed. Over time, new chores can be presented and added to the chore packs.

We started with smaller things, but now my children can clean the bathroom (minus the toilet), clean bedrooms, clean the basement, clean the blinds in various rooms, empty trash cans and sort laundry, unload dishwasher, set table and dust. The kids like knowing exactly what they need to do and seeing their progress as they move cards from front to back in their chore packs. The last card in their pack says “Report to Mom” so that I can see they are finished and/or check their work if one of their chores is a bigger or new job for them.

No longer do I have to run around telling everyone what to do. I just say, “Grab your chore packs!” and off they go. They get their work done and I get my chores done without interruption. It is such a wonderful thing to spend just 30 minutes to 1 hour on chores and then stand around looking at our clean house and rejoicing in the work we accomplished together. I really don’t know how I ever survived before using these.

But even more importantly, my children are seeing that they are an important and needed member of the family. And, they are learning life skills they will need to have when they have their own family someday.

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. -Proverbs 13:4

Organized for the Year (original post February)

I'm not sure if it was the fact that it is the start of a new year, or if it has something to do with the potential of having another child join our family... but something got into me and I was ready to reorganize and get a fresh start for the homeschool year!  Since we homeschool year-round, we don't have a summer off to do planning.  Instead, we work 4 weeks on, and 1 week off, all year.

So last week after returning from Christmas vacation, the kids and I worked diligently on organizing our bedrooms and then the homeschool rooms.  I'm so pleased with the outcome!

The best part is, since the kids were so involved in it all, they have done a great job of leaving the homeschool room clean at the end of each day.  It's such a joy to have a nice work space.

This is the extra bedroom that has been acting as our primary homeschooling room since we moved to MO.  We've now converted it back into more of an actual bedroom...  for guests or possibly for another child to move in.  Kailyn kept her flag wall going, however.  She works on a flag each day identifying the country and then making the appropriate flag.  It's a project she's really enjoyed so we're keeping it until she's done them all. 

This is the desk in the bedroom which we're also leaving in place for now.  It's a nice, quiet spot.

We're fortunate to have this little room that sits off the guest room, it's the perfect homeschool storage room and now we've made it into more of a work area as well.  The workboxes are moved in here as well so everything is in one space and the door can be shut as needed.  The window lets in just enough light to make it light and bright in the room.

This desk was here when we moved in, so now we have a workspace in our storage/homeschool room.  It's nice to have two desks in separate rooms, but close enough to hear each other as needed.  The two desks are simply separated by a wall.  Most of the time, however, the kids like to work in the same room as each other!

One set of shelves is dedicated to all the Montessori math materials.  They take up a lot of space so we had to get creative...
by storing the larger boards such as the square root peg board and the multiplication checkerboard sideways between shelves.  Why didn't I think of this sooner?

Geography work is all stored here in baskets that are easy access.  They sit on top of low shelves that hold most of our books.  We keep a separate basket that contains all of our library books.  When homeschooling, just go ahead and buy a ton of bookshelves because you're going to have a whole lot of books!

Reading books and files are stored on shelves as well.  I really didn't have enough shelves of the right sizes, so we decided to turn some of them all sideways so we'd have taller openings.  This worked out great.

More geography work

Montessori language materials and extra math books are stored on the file cabinet.

Kailyn helped me finish our home-made Montessori pin maps.  We love Montessori methods for geography but the pin maps are so expensive, so we made our own.  She couldn't wait to start using them so she sat down to work on Africa as soon as we finished them!  Order maps and labels here

I used actual pins since the kids are old enough to keep from poking themselves.  Quilting pins worked well and with a coupon they were very affordable.

I used boxes from Montessori catalog "Small Hands" which work perfectly for storing the pin labels for every map.  I printed a small picture for each one, representing the country for easy identification.  We use just one cork board and the kids just put the map on the cork board and remove it for a different one when ready.

After a day of organizing, we sat back and admired our work and how clean the entire upstairs looked.  And then made hot chocolate and sat by the window looking at the nice snow we had that day.

What kind of organzation have you done to your school room?  Would love to hear other homeschooing moms' ideas for making use of every inch of space!

Healthy Hot Chocolate:

1 cup raw milk (right from the cow!)
1 heaping tablespoon of raw cocoa
1 t. vanilla
2 t. raw honey

Mix all ingredients in a pan on low heat.  Don't over heat so as not to ruin the healthy enzymes in the raw honey.  Stir until well mixed and enjoy!

Psalm 34:8
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Character Training: Self-Control

This month our Character Quality that aligns with our Wisdom booklets is Self-Control.

The definition we use is: The ability that self-control is the ability to do what is right instead of following our own desires and passions.

Our operational definition is: “Instant obedience to the initial promptings of God’s Spirit.”

The word control is derived from the Latin phrase contra rotua, meaning “against a roll.”  It is the ability and power to resist the natural flow of events.  And in today’s world, the natural flow of events can look so appealing and so many lies can seem like truth.  But there is only one truth and we must study diligently, God’s Word so that we will be able to distinguish right from wrong and choose the right path.

It even takes self-control to learn to ride -
doing it the trainer's way - not our own way!
"Instant obedience to the initial promptings of God’s Spirit."

Some Action Steps:

  • Not act impulsively
  • Not equate desires with rights
  • Set my own limits
  • See my anger as a sign that something is wrong in me
  • Walk away from things that aren't right

To further study this quality – we found Biblical men and women who demonstrated this character.  Some my children found included:

-          Daniel, David, Moses, Noah, Jesus

We also identified some men and women who did not demonstrate this character quality, and then read about the consequences they faced.  And on Easter Sunday, what better person to study than Jesus Himself – who showed the ultimate self-control when he willingly went to the cross to die a horrible death because he loved us all so much!

And lastly, we have the operational definition posted in large print at our eating table – it’s THAT important that we learn to put this one into daily practice.  J

Happy (late) Resurrection Day, everyone!

Character Training: Alertness

I mentioned the Character Qualities in an earlier post… we teach these using our Wisdom Booklets each day.  I thought it might be fun to share a post on the Character Quality we are working on each month.  While I recommend teaching first Attentiveness and Obedience, I’m starting with a different quality since it is the one we’re learning about this month. (I start with Attentiveness because, if I can’t get my kids’ attention, then I’ll never get their heart!)


Definition: Watchful and prompt to meet danger or emergency, quick to perceive and act.

Operational Definition (aka: How I apply this to my life): Being aware of that which is taking place around me so I can have the right response to it.

Activities and discussions we have around the quality of Alertness:

-          Expand the word by learning (or recalling) synonyms and antonyms.

-          Discuss related qualities that bring balance, such as: Discretion, discernment, gentleness, forgiveness, humility

-          Discuss how God sees differently than we see

-          Decide three ways we as a family can demonstrate this quality this month.  Some ideas we came up with:

o   Notice and greet visitors at church with a smile

o   Listen to and look at those who speak to us

o   Notice and meet needs around the house.

We actually had a great opportunity to put this to action by visiting a nursing/assisted living home where the residents had the need for visitors.  And we were so blessed by them.  Perhaps more than they were blessed by us!

Alertness in our home also includes:

·         Looking for and praising ways that family members have displayed good

·         Sensing that seemingly harmless activities could lead to bad influences and
wrong friends

·         Being aware that participation in certain activities and wearing certain clothing
could attract the wrong friends and weaken the trust of authorities

·         Practicing preventative maintenance with household appliances and personal

We also relate the Character Quality to many scriptures by identifying people in the Bible who did or did not demonstrate this quality – and then what happened as a result.  My son said, “Whoever says the Bible is boring… must not have ever read it!”  I’ll say “Amen” to that.  It’s more exciting than anything Hollywood has to offer – and more useful too.  J

We also take time to learn a related hymn.  This month it is the hymn: “Open My Eyes That I May See.”  We learn the history of the hymn and then we listen to it and sing with the CD.  (I am not much of a singer so I’m so happy to have this CD with all the hymns on it, which are all related to the Character Qualities!)

It’s a joy to see the kids singing this tune as they work – even after only learning the first few verses.

We also reference our large Character Sketches books which take the learning to a whole new level.  Each quality is related to animals in nature and stories are told about them.  In the process of learning about the animal, there is geography and history learnings which come from that.  There are additional stories of people in the Bible as well and they are written in such a way that it keeps the learning interesting for all ages.  I’ve learned so much more about these stories myself, as we read through the Character Sketches books.  You can find information about the Character Sketches books here:
A chance to be alert to needs of others, while at the nursing home

Then it is my job (mom) to be very ALERT and look for my children demonstrating this quality.  It could be that D remembers to clear the table after dinner, or K picks up a scrap of paper on the floor and throws it away – anything, big or small.  I immediately say, “Wow, look at how alert you are!”  Then at night, I am sure to call out all the examples I’ve seen of alertness in front of dad during Bible time.  I’ve learned it’s important to praise kids in front of as many people as possible, as that praise multiplies by the number of people that hear it!
Related Bible memory scripture:  And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain….”  Matthew 5:1

"Watch thou and wake when others be asleep."

"To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to

acquire wisdom, one must observe."
--Maryln vos Savant

"It is the providence of knowledge to speak, and it is
the privilege of wisdom to listen.
--Oliver Wendell Holmes

"He that walks with wise men shall be wise."

"The end of argument or discussion should be, not

victory, but enlightenment."
--Joseph Joubert

Character Training!

One of the reasons we home school our kids, is so we can teach them character as well as academics.

We’ve been so encouraged by other families.  One family was particularly encouraging to us without even knowing it.  When we saw how their 10 children all treated each other we thought, “That’s what we want in our family!”
They shared their family “guidelines” with us and we were so amazed by their family’s love for each other that we decided to use their list and tweak it a bit for our family.

We call it “guidelines” and not “rules” for a reason.  We know none of us is perfect – and many times a day we probably need to ask for forgiveness for all those imperfections!  Rather, this is something we are striving for each day.

George Family Guidelines:

1.     Always use soft words, even when you don’t feel well.

2.     Always display kind actions and joyful attitudes, even if you have been mistreated. Have the right response by quickly forgiving others in your heart even before they ask.

3.     Always be enthusiastic and look for opportunities to praise others' character.

4.     Always deflect praise and be grateful to God and others for the ways they have benefited your life.

5.     Always use manners and be respectful of others and their belongings.

6.     Always do what is right, even when others may not, or when no one is looking.

7.     Thank God for how He made you, for what He has given you and everything He allows you to go through. (Romans 8:28)

8.     Don’t mock or put others down. Develop compassion and pray for others.

9.     Never argue, complain, or blame. Quickly admit when you have done wrong and ask for forgiveness (even if you were only 10% at fault). Don't wait till you’re caught. Be sure your sins will find you out. He who covers his sin will not prosper, but he that confesses and forsakes it shall find mercy.

10.   Have a tough accountability/prayer partner to daily share your heart with and to keep you in line (your parents, spouse). The power of sin is in secrecy.

11.   Be attentive and look for ways to serve others with sincere motives and no thought of self-gain.

12.   Think pure thoughts (Philippians 4:8, Romans 13:14).

13.   Always give a good report of others. Don't gossip! Never tale-bear unless physical harm will come to someone. (Use Matthew 18.)

14.   Never raise a hand to hit.

15.   Never raise a foot to kick.

16.   Never raise an object to throw.

17.   Never raise a voice to yell.

18.   Never raise an eye to scowl.

19.   Use one toy/activity at a time. Share!

20.   Do your best to keep your surroundings neat, clean and organized.

21.   Never let the sun go down on your wrath.
(Don’t go to bed angry or guilty)

22.   Amendment J.O.Y. -
-Put Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.

Building Character

Another thing we have begun doing a couple of years ago is studying the Character Qualities.  These are 49 character qualities with what is called the “operational definition.”  The operational definition is what helps us understand how we should apply this to our lives.  The Wisdom Booklets we use from ATI are a help in this area as each unit of study has a character quality associated with it.  But we also have Character Sketches books, a Character Quality game and booklets with stories and examples of other famous people in history who exhibited these qualities.  Most importantly, we must model the behavior ourselves as parents (this is the hard part to be sure!)

Too often in today’s media, those who do not exhibit these qualities are shown doing so with no consequences, or even worse, shown as heroes in the story.  We think this sends the wrong message to our children (and to us!) as we subconsciously become “numb” to these wrong behaviors.

This course of study becomes a part of our lives as it weaves through everything we do, all day long.  We also realize that as we teach these to our children, we ourselves are convicted by God.  I might think, “Oh Lord, I don’t want to teach on this topic because it’s painful to see how I’ve failed at this throughout my life.”  God is teaching Keith and me while we teach our children.  Sometimes I’ll just humble myself and admit this to my kids.  I say that while Mommy is teaching them, God is teaching ME how to teach them. 

We have a long way to go, but we’re thankful for the many resources we’ve been given through ATI and for the wonderful families who have shown us what the fruit of these things look like:  Teenagers who are not rebellious but are loving in spirit to others both inside and outside of their families and children who are hard-working and responsible.  It’s a wonderful thing to see and we now realize that this IS possible.  But it is a journey that is for sure!

For a PDF download of the Character Qualities click here: