Embracing our Uniqueness


Now with a couple of restful nights under my belt, I’m beginning to look at this summer more closely, as well as next school year.  I had grown completely frustrated with the kids on Monday.   We had a long day after little got done last week—we didn’t even get home from running errands until after 4 p.m., and I was too fatigued to read or start anything.   Besides, I had a few work-related items that had to happen.     Yet, the kids have a responsibility to read each day, if nothing else.   Our son chose instead to play Wii games instead.   That was the spark, and then the oldest lit the fire when she dawdled her way into six hours to complete math.   I could have shown them grace since it was our first day back after a break with the recital, and I imagine they might have been as tired as I was.  But I was, in the words of my FIL, as mad as a wet hen, and I let her know in no uncertain terms that we were turning a page from last year if I had to pull her by her braids to do it.    What a way to start three weeks into the summer, but she got the message.   I was still marinating on Monday when I found a wonderful article on Heart of the Matter by Amy Bayliss—she is something special.    You can see that here.   The article is hilariously funny, at least to me, as I read through Amy’s own peace with the imperfections that make her homeschool environment uniquely her own.  I’ll admit that I’ve never had to bribe a child to complete math by using M&Ms (I’m assuming as counting manipulatives), but I’m learning to embrace the “uniqueness” of each of our children, and perhaps to not overreact when things don’t happen as I think they should.   Life impacts us all.    Funny thing, during our Sunday School class this past Sunday, we talked about how the kids spend their summer days and the value of blocking out some time for the Lord.   What I quickly realized is that it’s not so unusual that I have to pry the oldest out of bed at 10:30; several of them don’t wake up until noon or later.    As an aside, we used a simple experiment to talk about the blood of Jesus and its cleansing power.    Did you know that taco sauce (the blood, in our case) cleans pennies (us) really well?   We “finger washed” the tops of the pennies in the sauce, then rinsed them with a little water (representing Baptism).   Amazing!


Yesterday, I ran the day more like a typical school day, starting with the 5-year-old completing phonics, reading, and math.   I then called the older two to the table.   We read through pieces of John’s gospel, then learned more about swampy, hot Bougainville (in the Solomon Islands) with its gigantic mosquitoes through Code Talker , and discussed in history the full bloom of suburban cities in the 1980’s.   Today, we’ll cover George Bush the dad, as I call him.   The structure worked for me, and they were at peace, if not overjoyed, with being at the table on my schedule rather than theirs.   We had a few good laughs, anyway.  My son and I came up with this as a post WWII-Presidential acronym: Take Eggs, Kiwi, Jam, (and) Nuts For Cookies, Reggie. How’s that sound for Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan?


Yesterday for the first time, I put all three of the kids’ 2009-2010 schedules together on one sheet of paper so that I could get a better handle on my day.   Each kid had his/her own special color so that I could look at number of subjects per day as well as what Mom needed to do on a given day.   I looked at it from the perspective of “our uniqueness”—the oldest’s perfectionist spirit that is one cause of her very slow nature, the son’s overachieving enthusiasm which, when coupled with arrogance, equals procrastination, and the youngest’s love and need for what CM refers to as “masterly inactivity.” In short, I need to not be so unique (smile).    I realized that I had too much on certain plates, including mine.  This is the first year that I will not be able to combine a number of the kids’ subjects to suit two children.   Except for a rare exception here and there, I will have to teach or check-in with each one individually. So I began to cut.   God’s Word will stand alone without the burden of an additional apologetic study, although I know how powerful that one-on-one time of applying God’s word has been.   As much as I love to finish what I started, I believe God’s Word will also cover our character studies if we have to cut them.    I have to remind myself of goals—this year will be more about depth than breadth, and I want plenty of time for self-taught learning.   With too many subjects, you spend so much time just trying to get the work done that the mind doesn’t have an opportunity to simply absorb and produce.  


Gotta run—the oldest decided that she wanted her hair flat-ironed (a 2-day process) rather than twisted (the 1-day process I had planned on).    School will happen again today, and we’re also going to clean our upstairs baseboards as a team.   Off to the races!

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4 thoughts on “Embracing our Uniqueness

  1. Thank you for the penny and taco sauce idea. And for the acronym. I really like that one.

    Hope you're having a great week!!


  2. I hear ya on the not being able to combine classes. This will be the first year that I can't do that for my older two since the oldest will be 7th grade. But I'm still gonna do history together as long as we can. And I will be adding more in for the 5 yr old and the 3 yr old wants to learn too.

    I am planning on spending the next week planning!

  3. I really want to get a full year's schedule put together in the next month. My girls are still pretty young – but they are getting older and I need to start planning ahead of time.

    Six hours to do math! Oh, man. I posted once about my daughter taking an hour plus (she was in second grade) to do what I knew she could do in about 20 minutes. I got lots of great responses. But the thing that worked the best was Charlotte Mason's own advice. You tell them how long is should take – say 20 minutes – I don't know for an older child say 35 minutes – if they get it done well and early – they get free time to totally choose what they want to do themselves. So, more of a natural reward – than an artificial one. Charlotte Mason explains this really well. Charlotte talks about this in Book One – Homeschooling – Chapters 3 & 4 – Habits Are Ten Natures and Some Moral Habits. Worth reading and highlighting (at least that's what I do) and re-reading.

    Have a great week and enjoy your summer!


  4. I hope you don't mind my continued discourse about Charlotte Mason habit training. I think more the way the incentive would look like with classic Charlotte Mason training is you get this subject done, then you get this immediate reward, free time for X amount of time. Then you move on to another different subject. If subjects are taking your child too long, perhaps you need to break the assignments into smaller assignments and come back to the subject refreshed later. I know as kids gets older, they become more their own person and to some degree you have to let them make their own decisions. But, Charlotte in Book 1 addresses this very issue of what children are naturally. Those children who are natural dawdlers (or naturally distracted or naturally inconsiderate…whatever their natural negative trait is) need the most training in these areas. We as mothers tend to feel guilty about providing consistent training. "Oh, they deserve it if I just let up on the training a little," and we shoot ourselves in the foot as we cause ourselves to have to start over from square one with habit training. Good luck with all your future planning. And, don't forget to have a great, relaxing summer!

    CathyEdited by basketflat on Jun. 22, 2009 at 2:36 PM

I'd love to hear your two cents!!