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Don't forget the Academics - Issue 166
September 03, 2010
Hi there! ....

This week One of my daughters was heard saying (after she had received a compliment) “ahh, praise is awesome!” And though I had to chuckle over her transparency she speaks truth. Praise is awesome. And we need to make sure that we are giving big doses of it to our children. But we need to be real about it – praise that isn’t grounded in truth builds our children up for disappointment when they come to the realisation that Mum and Dad were just being nice. So can I encourage you this week to praise your kids – praise them for the wise choices they make, for the diligence they show, for the ingenuity of their play, for the perseverance through a difficult time, for the happy heart they have, for the way they encourage their siblings. When we see these good things in our children, and praise them we encourage them along the way. Let’s do it!

Live life with your kids!

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Don’t forget the Academics

As a discipleship homeschooler I often find myself saying that relationships come first and that academics come lower down my list of priorities. I believe this whole heartedly – without relationships we can’t teach our children anything, without moral development our children won’t learn anything. When we look at educating the whole child – the spiritual, moral, physical, emotional, mental and practical – we need to have some very clear guidelines, or standards that we hold ourselves to as we teach our children. The trick is that when we decide to walk away from the Education Department guidelines (as our sole guide) and we start to redefine what a successful education looks like, coupled with the idea that [quote] academics is a lower priority [end quote], we can easily find ourselves in a situation where we don’t worry about the mental (academic) development of our children. I think we are doing our children a disservice if we don’t catch ourselves and begin to be intentional with the academic areas as we are with every other area of our child’s life.

In saying that something is a lower priority it really is a matter of pedantics – it is still a priority – something we should be considering and yet compared to the relationship issues, compared to the spiritual development it comes in down the list. So when we say academics is a lower priority it is a comparative statement.

When our children are being stimulated mentally they are able to

  • think
  • understand
  • question
  • make connections
  • have knowledge

It is easy to make a knee jerk reaction and swing the pendulum too far away from traditional school. We still need to maintain that balance that our children do need to acquire a certain set of knowledge. What is contained in that set is for your discernment and judgement – each family will no doubt have a different set of knowledge. But you need to be intentional about guiding your children towards it.

Do you have academic goals for your children?
Goals that are consistent with your philosophy of discipleship?

Now having academic goals doesn’t mean that you need to buy workbooks and sit at the desk all day. That may not be consistent with your understanding of living life with your kids!

What it does mean though is that you take some time to think through what you want your child to be able to do or know by a certain time. For our family the time frame isn’t as clearly defined as the content. The content is defined.

First step: Know what you want to include in your family’s knowledge/skills set:
These are the areas that I have considered -

  • Bible study
  • Language Arts – Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking
  • Maths
  • General knowledge about the world – history, science, geography
  • Technology – we live in a world that has high technological skills
  • Thinking skills – which includes defending their faith

Second step: Assess your kids individually
You need to look at each individual child – where they are at today, their strengths, their weaknesses, their interest, passions or personal goals.

Third step: Plan how to take them forward
This is when it is easy to just buy the curriculum. We say - My child is here in their understanding of math and I want to get them over here and this curriculum says it will get them there. But purchasing a set curriculum and assigning lesson time is not the only way to do things. But you need to know how you are going to increase your child’s understanding, knowledge and skills in each of the areas you have decided is important.

Fourth step: Find time to do it
We can have all the best plans in the world but if we don’t live them out they will never come to anything, there will never be any fruit in our life. The same goes for academic goals with our children. We need to know when we are going to do the things we have planned.

Fifth step: Keep Assessing
Setting goals is a worthless activity unless we continually pause; reflect on our goals and on how we are doing. We need to do this for our children’s academics otherwise life just becomes a big blur and we more often than not find ourselves at a point down the track anxious about things because we haven’t been as consistent as we thought we were going to be. When we reassess ourselves we can tweak either the goals or the plan so we are walking in reality.

Being intentional with our children’s mental development doesn’t mean we all have to do it the same, but it does mean we need to know where we are going and how we are going to get there.

Blog Updates this week
Read more about Having an Intentional Plan

Read more about Praising our Children – Praising Character Choices

Blogging has been quiet this week with just one short post – A reminder of Days Gone By – Little People. I had two little boys stay with me last weekend and here is a short summary of some key parenting practices that I was reminded of.

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!

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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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