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Setting the Scene for Initiative - Issue 148
April 23, 2010
Hi there! ....

This week was our first week of a new study block. Once again I tweaked things to fit where our family is at currently, trying to fix some of the things that didn’t work to well for us last term. My focus for my younger two this study block is oral narrations, listening for learning (ie listening to non-fiction text and learn from it) as well as adding more art and poetry to our days.

In the school system this term is a very long term – 11 weeks. But we are planning a block of about 6 weeks of study and then 5 weeks of creative projects or social commitments. I believe it is important to look at your whole life calendar when planning your study schedule in order to be realistic not only about the study lessons but also about the other learning opportunities your lifestyle will present to your family.

Live life with your kids!

Setting the Scene for Initiative

Character First defines Initiative as: recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked.

It is a trait that we so much want to see in our children. I know employees want to see that in young people too. It is a valuable trait. Let’s define it further:

  • Initiative is a heart matter that goes beyond responsibility. E.g. Say it is a child’s responsibility to do the breakfast dishes. They can show initiative by doing it early, or going the extra mile (doing an extra task that they saw needed to be done), Initiative is the act of making a decision on your own.
  • But it is also closely connected with skill. If a child decides to take initiative and cook mum breakfast in bed, before she has the skill to do so we can only imagine the mess and possibly the danger that their “showing initiative” will bring. This isn’t true initiative.
  • Initiative is not just doing what you want to do when you want to do it. Initiative combines responsibility and skill with the heart to do more.

But how do we teach it to our children? There are four steps:

Teach Responsibility – Our children need to understand that there are certain spheres in their life that are their responsibility. These spheres increase with age and maturity. Our children also need to see that when they take on a responsibility (or are given it) they are accountable for that to happen, and they receive the consequences when it doesn’t happen.

Teach Skill – We cannot simply tell our children that their bedroom is their responsibility without giving them the skills to carry out that task. We need to teach them the steps to master that responsibility. It is the same with any issue we want them to be responsible with – chores, possessions, time, study, money, relationships.

Develop a servant heart – We need to open our children’s eyes to the possibilities of initiative. We want to appreciate their responsibility (that they have done what we have expected of them) and their skill (that they have done it well) but we can open a whole new world by showing them that they can take it further – the skills they have will enable them to go the extra mile, to see what needs to be done ahead of time, to make decisions on their own, to serve others. That is, to show initiative. Initiative can be highly regarded in our home but we need to remember that it is a heart response to others and to our responsibilities.

Setting the scene– We need to give our children the environment in which they can show initiative. Unfortunately we often hold the reigns so tightly it is hard for the children to be anything other than obedient. When we make all the decisions, and they are different each day, our children have very little scope to do anything other than to wait for instructions.

When we give our children a clear picture of what is expected of them – what chores they need to do, what lessons they have ahead of them, what activities they need to complete before they have free time, then we are empowering them to show initiative. We are setting the scene for them to work in. They have some scope from which to make some decisions themselves and show their heart to serve.

At no time does this remove the responsibility from our shoulders to ensure that things are happening when they need to – it simply gives a framework for the children to begin to show initiative.

Here are some things that have helped raise the levels of initiative in our home:

Chore roster – by having a chore roster the children know ahead of time what chores are expected to be done on a daily or weekly basis. They can make the decision to work fast and get it done quickly, sometimes they can make a decision to do tomorrow’s chores today. They can even make a decision to do more than is on the list or to do something on someone else’s list. This is taking initiative. Their chore charts are comprehensive so there is never the threat of finishing early and being dumped with a pile more to do – how unmotivating is that! (Of course there are the occasions that I ask for extra help but it isn’t the norm, everyday happening.)

Study schedule – This looks different for the different ages we have in our home. The older ones have a study schedule covering 4-6 weeks. They are responsible for getting the study done by the end of the study period. It is their choices that will manage their responsibilities; they have a framework in which to show initiative in their studies. The younger ones have a daily list which they are responsible for completing before they have free time. Knowing what needs to be done gives them the opportunity to start early and manage their time and work load.

Talking about possibilities – When we go into a new situation I have the opportunity to remind my children of the heart to bless others. I ask them, “How will you be able to bless so and so today?” I have no control over the decision – will the child do so or not? It is simple exposing them to possibilities and prompting their heart to think about it. Then it is about confirming them when they made a good decision. We so often only remind our children about their responsibilities (to do the right thing) rather than heart choices. We need to do both.

Practicing Seeing – Sometimes we just don’t see things. But it needn’t stay that way. We can show our children opportunities for initiative all around them, day in and day out. When I see something that could be done, something that I wish my child saw I call them to me and we stand still and I say, “Can you see something that could be done?” or “Can you see something that you could do that would bless someone?” or “Could you have gone the extra mile here?” There is a big hint that whatever mum is talking about is in this room somewhere and when they see it you ask them to do it and remind them of the habit going the extra mile, serving others, or showing initiative. This creates an appetite for initiative, it develops a habit - that they will see these things before being called back by mum.

I encourage you to think over your daily routine – Do your children have the opportunity to show initiative or are they only being obedient and responsible? You can set the scene.

Website Updates
There are no updates this week. If you are looking at starting homeschooling though or buying new resources you may like to look over this page: Choosing Curriculum

Blog Updates
This week I posted:
Workshop Fridays - Reporting on our Fridays

We can't do it all a blog post about choices.

Making Promises - a little lesson I shared with my son, but one that touches my heart too.

My Internet Reading I share some links to the things that I’ve been reading lately.

Blending Life with Lessons e-book - Does your everyday life challenge your homeschool ideas? This is my journey as I discover that it is possible to disciple my children in today's busy lifestyle.

Heart Focus Parenting - A heart focused parent will keep their attention on their child's heart for God, instead of on external behaviours.

My Sitemap is a quick reference to all you will find on Lifestyle-Homeschool. I encourage you to have a browse around!

Back Issues
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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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About Live Life with your kids Newsletter I know homeschool mums are busy with lots to read, so I have divided my newsletter into four sections and you will receive one section a week; short but regular newsletters!
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