Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Wonder of a Four-Year-Old Who Knits

Our daughter-in-love Emily teaching our
four-year-old granddaughter Elsie how to knit.
Our daughter-in-love Emily posted a picture on Facebook recently of her teaching our four-year-old granddaughter Elsie how to knit. And she is doing it! In just a short time she already has a good portion of a scarf completed.

We are amazed. She is SO smart. She is a genius, a prodigy.

And then I read this:
By the time she was four, a girl [raised in the American colonies in the 1700's] was expected to be able to knit basic stockings and mittens; by six, spin flax. By eight, most girls were helping take care of their younger sisters and brothers.[1]
It was then it occurred to me that what makes our Elsie so amazing is that she picked it up out of natural interest and not by our expectations for her. I have to wonder how much more our children would do and learn if only we expected them to.

Of course, there is the question of natural inclination, ability, and motor skill development and all of that to take into consideration. But, how much do we rob our children of meaningful work and contributions to the family dynamic by setting them down to a movie or sending them out to play rather than bringing them along side of us in our daily work and skilled leisure activities?

That's why I love home education above institutional schooling. The daily opportunities to mentor our children in the arts and even in basic daily care of self and home are vast and innumerable. Every moment has the potential to be a teachable moment. We don't have to settle for catching them here and there. Every day becomes a teachable day.

But not much of it will happen by accident. A parent must be proactive in including the children in daily work and leisure.

I encourage you to seek opportunities to draw the children in to whatever you are doing. Perhaps families with many children will have to pull them in one at a time, but any effort will reap huge benefits.

Be patient with them and don't give up too soon. Even failed attempts deserve a try perhaps when they are older. Your loving attention and expectation of their achievement will help develop the confidence they need for future success in many areas of life.

[1] Daniel Wolff. How Lincoln Learned To Read (New York: Bloomsbury, 2009), 30.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Reflecting On Our Goals For Child Rearing Part 2

Photo credit: freeimages.com
In Part 1 of Reflecting On Our Goals For Child Rearing, I covered the areas of spirituality, domestic living, and vocation. In this post, I will continue with health and social living.

Health

  • That they would choose to eat healthy foods most of the time and only indulge occasionally
  • That they would make exercise a daily part of their lives
  • That they would remain pure before marriage
  • That they would get adequate rest
  • That they would choose not to live dangerously
  • That they would learn to listen and obey their God-given physical signals for hunger, fullness, thirst, stress, and need for rest
Socially
  • That they would not become peer dependent at any time in their lives
  • That they would choose to please God in their social lives rather than according to their own pleasure or of the world
  • That their friends would be a good and godly influence for their good
  • That they would find the company of the world distasteful
  • That they would prefer the company of their family most of the time
  • That they would be polite, courteous, and observe proper etiquette at home and in social settings
Unlike some of the points in Part 1, I can't argue with these. And, thankfully, I believe most of them have been fruitful in our grown children's lives.

Thoughts?

Reflecting On Our Goals For Child Rearing Part 1

Photo credit: freeimages.com
I am downsizing the household now that the children are all grown and gone. As I sifted through the files in my cabinet, I came across this handwritten Goals For Child Rearing. At some point in 1997, I took the time to think seriously about what Les' and my goals were for rearing our children.

You will notice some of it clearly reflects the influence of the writers in the Vision Forum genre. At that time, our children were 10, 9, 7, and 4. Much of what we embraced regarding grown children was based more on fear than on the Scriptures and personal experience. We have since come away from much of that as a result of looking honestly at what the Bible teaches and of living it out in our own family as the children grew, matured, and launched out from our home.

I have written my responses in red after each point which has changed regarding these goals as the years progressed and we grew in knowledge and wisdom. I would love to hear your thoughts on these goals and the changes we made.

Goals For Child Rearing
(What we hope and expect our children will do/be when they are grown as a result of our parenting and educating.)

Spiritually

  • That they would seek after God and know Him as their personal God, not just their parents' God.
  • Be able to discern good from evil and test all things by the Word of God.
  • Be students of the Scriptures, including Bible memory and using the Scriptures apologetically.
  • That they would be conscious of the first and second commandments in application to their daily lives, especially once they know Christ.
  • Proper perspective of the role of the church in God's kingdom.
  • That they would not waste their minds on vain things (television, senseless books, video games, etc.)
  • That they would be prepared for persecution.
  • That we would help them discern their spiritual gifts and corresponding place of service in the church
  • At least one missions trip in their lifetime (Hasn't happened yet with any of them; and though it would be nice, it is not necessarily a requirement.)
Domestically
  • That they would be prepared for domestic life whether married or single, parents or childless. They should clearly understand the roles of family members and their own responsibilities.
  • They will remain under their father's authority until we feel they are mature enough to wed or move on. If daughters remain unmarried, they may and should remain at home under their father's authority. (We have come WAY far away from this one. Doesn't it sound....domineering? :/ I am almost ashamed to hear myself say these things. Who did we think we were lording it over God's inheritance like that (1 Peter 5:3)? Our children don't belong to us. Once they are grown, they must discern from God for themselves what they will do and where they will live. However, our kids have always known they are welcome to live with Dad and me if they want to or need to. We are still a family and will help one another as the needs arise. But, if they are grown, they will NOT be under our authority. They will cooperate with our house rules, not because we are their parents but out of common respect.)
  • We choose courtship and betrothal methods for their marrying process. (Les and I still feel courtship is the best method for finding a mate with parents acting as counselors in the process. However, dating with parental counsel looks a whole lot like courtship anyway. As for betrothal, we believe it is an unnecessary constraint. Engagement is good enough.)
  • That our children will be willing workers, including taking responsibility for their own domestic assignments and willing to take up the slack as needed.  
  • Financially responsible.
  • Take personal responsibility willingly and with a good and proper attitude.
Vocation/Education
  • That they would have a solid foundation of basic academics such as reading, writing, arithmetic (primary school) and a well-rounded knowledge of the basic subjects of science, social studies, history, art, music, and philosophy apologetically (secondary school).
  • That we and they would pray, seek, and discern God's will for their life's occupation.
  • After discerning the Lord's direction, begin in junior or senior high to fine tune their studies for that direction.
  • They will begin working as helpers/apprentices at an early age as soon as they have proven their faithfulness at home first.
  • Will not be allowed to work with lost or worldly people until evidence is seen of a personal conversion and a grounded faith (not superficial).
  • Seek avenues of home education as long and as far as possible. (Again, this is fear speaking. I found out later that my husband actually did not agree with me on this one. There is no reason to be afraid of our children attending college or university if they feel so led. By that time, they are usually adults and should not be shamed into home education beyond that point.)
  • That they would understand the biblical relationship between employer and employee.
  • That making money would not be their main goal in life, but that they would learn to depend on God for their needs and please Him in their work.
  • Learn one foreign language as a family (Spanish?) (Well, looks like this one ain't gonna happen. lol)
So, what do you think? Were we nuts? Are we still nuts but in a different way? Feel free to chime in.

Part 2 is in the next post.