I don’t like games. Not board games. Not card games. It seems like good homeschool moms are supposed to like them, but I do not. However, several weeks ago I ran across a game that piqued my interest. It was more of a relationship game than a card game. It prompts discussion by asking simple questions like, “What do you regret most about the last year?” and, “What habit do you want to change in the next year?” Then everyone involved is encouraged to ask more questions in order to get the person to share more. The idea behind the game is to encourage family members to get to know one another in deeper and more meaningful ways. It also encourages them to show interest in each other and to care for each other.
It’s not hard to know why this game captured my interest. Over our 27 years of parenting (8 kids) and 22+ years of homeschooling, this idea of “tell us more” has become a lifestyle for us. It has actually had a big impact. This idea/attitude is necessary for our children to thrive both in relationships and learning. By asking questions and encouraging communication, we not only build relationships with our kids, but we also encourage a lifelong love of learning. This requires us to SLOW down and pay attention. This lifestyle has ultimately become the heart of homeschooling for our family, as it has shaped both our relationships and our children’s method of learning.
Does this sound like a lifestyle that you’d like to cultivate? Here are some simple tips for developing a “tell-me-more” lifestyle with your children if you haven’t already. (It’s not too late!)
Be a Student of Your Children
For several years, I grew a garden. There was one year in particular that I remember having a bumper crop. I asked myself what made the difference, and I realized that that particular year I was out in the garden every morning. It didn’t necessarily take a large amount of time each day, but I was there faithfully for however long I needed to be. Each day, I took stock of how the plants were doing. I gave them what they needed and warded off any major disasters. I KNEW my garden and what was happening in it every day.
The same is true of raising our children and homeschooling. It isn’t the huge leaps forward, but rather the day-to-day faithfulness to the basics that gives our kids a great education. It’s understanding who they are and what they need (and don’t need) in each season of who they are, personally and developmentally.
We need to be students of our children, like I was a student of my garden. We ask questions, engage, and watch them so that we know them inside and out. We aren’t necessarily always looking for problems, but we are getting to know who they are. We need to know how they are wired, what excites their spirits, and what gives them energy. It often involves following their lead in order to know when to speed up, when to slow down, and when to take our hands off the wheel.
Keep a Positive Attitude
This journey of homeschooling is the adventure of a lifetime! These years were meant to be a blessing. There will be challenging seasons, but how we view those seasons makes all the difference. There are no failures, just lessons learned and valuable information for the future that makes us wiser and stronger.
Let’s show our kids that we are happy to be homeschooling and thankful for this time with them. Approaching our days from a place of love and warmth gives our kids roots. Encouraging a sense of adventure gives our kids wings.
Spend Time Doing What They Love
The heart of homeschooling is the relationships we have with our children. They make all the difference. I want to encourage you to spend some time thinking about what your children love and how to reach their hearts and get to know them better!
Simply spending some time doing what your children love will make a difference in their attitudes. Not only will they enjoy spending time with you, but they’ll know that you care enough to do what’s important to them.
What do you do on a regular basis to get to know your children, keep a positive attitude, and develop relationships with them?
Durenda is a mom to eight (ages 13-27), nana to four, and wife to Darryl for 28 years. She has homeschooled from the beginning (22+yrs) and has graduated 5, so far. Her two oldest girls are married and her oldest son graduated from college at 21. She loves encouraging moms through writing, speaking and podcasting. One of her favorite things is helping parents to slow down, think simply and outside the box so they can homeschool confidently and in a lifestyle that is a great fit for their families. She has her own podcast (Durenda Wilson) and has published a simple, mercifully short book on homeschooling called The Unhurried Homeschooler which encourages parents to take the time to find out what really works for them, let go of self-driven standards, and learn to homeschool from a place of peace! She recently published a devotional just for moms. Unhurried Grace for a Mom’s Heart can be found on Amazon.