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Doing it Fast - Issue 308
July 26, 2013
Hi there! ....

This week a highlight for us was a workshop with Mark Greenwood, one of our favourite Australian authors. This week is the Writers Festival – a yearly event where artists and writers come and inspire our community. We have had the privilege of a long contact with Mark Greenwood, dating back to when Joshua won a one-on-one session with him when Josh was about 10-12 years old. Yesterday, we sat in the back of a year 5 class and were as enthralled as these kids as Mark spun his stories – he always left the end of the tale with the encouragement to ‘read the book’! He was a master story teller and our kids came home inspired to research background to their stories, to use their senses in telling their story, to write draft after draft after draft (he writes about 100 drafts for his books!) It was also a timely reminder of how history comes alive in a story, and the benefits of presenting our kids with living books. I can’t recommend Mark’s books enough. Thank you to our library staff who host such a wonderful opportunity to not only the kids of this town, but to all who want to join in.

Live life with your kids!

If you are a new Australian reader I would appreciate you reading this special request.

Doing it Fast

One of the things that I have noticed about my kids is that there is no sense of urgency in the things that they do. Life ticks over, we move from one thing to the next. They are aware of time, they know that they need to get in the car at a certain time if we are to get to the next appointment on time, but that is about the biggest thing they rush for!

One of the benefits of homeschooling is to give our kids a personalized education that is based on real interests and real life. I haven’t had timed tests or due dates for assignments, instead we have a set amount of time available for study, and what gets done gets done, the rest of the day is available to explore, discover, and pursue. This works well – except they have no sense of urgency, no sense that time is running out and that how they use time matters.

When my kids were toddlers – ah… lets be honest, it still happens when they are teenagers too!! Kids tend to dawdle with their jobs. My kids have been willing to do what needs to be done, but they do it slow. They get there – but…… My challenge has been to teach them to do their tasks in a timely fashion – not necessarily as fast as I would do it (I have many more years of experience than they do), but at a speed that is relevant to their abilities. This is hard to measure.

What is fast? Fast is doing it with energy, fast is doing it with focus and care. Fast is having a purpose and desiring to get it completed.

Even this definition can put pressure on some kids. I know when I’m working really fast, the kids think I’m stressed. I’m focused, I’m not being distracted which means I’m not chatting as much and they see that as stressed. We’ve had to talk about this and explain the sense of urgency that I work with sometimes. Mind you, I have also had to check myself – am I stressed? Have I left things to the last minute and therefore my fast is driven by guilt and pressure and the kids have a point?

How to teach fast?

Our kids need to have purpose and consequences that are attached to time. Here are some things we can do to help them understand ‘fast’:

  • Work fast yourself. I’m a potter-er – I mostly walk slowly, and I just do a little bits here and there, so really I can’t expect my kids to be any different (which is also why they see stress when I am fast!)
  • Create some training purposes and consequences so they can practice going fast. For example, all chores need to be done by x-time and then we’ll watch a movie. It needs to be something that the kids will enjoy, but also something that can reward those who worked fast and not those who dawdled. For example, you probably can’t go to town as your reward if that means you can’t leave the slow ones at home.
  • Work together - if you are working fast, then they can see what fast looks like as they keep up with you.
  • Don’t just use ‘fast’ in your instructions – add other words that help them see what you want from them – I want you to do this chore with energy and focus. See how quickly you can get this done. How ‘bout we use the timer and race the clock today. If we get this all done by x-time, we can relax together doing x-project.
  • Working fast is a habit, and it takes time to develop - be gracious as they learn.

But it isn’t just about doing our chores quickly. It is about being aware of the time. We teach our kids to tell the time early on but then we need to teach them time awareness, how time affects their life.

In our house we start our focus time / studies at 8.30, lunch at 12.30, chores at 5.00 and dinner at 6.00. These times have been fairly consistent for many years, we hang our day on this framework. Initially, as we train our kids to be aware of the time, we warn and prompt them to move from one activity to another. We tell them they have 10 minutes to get ready. We tell them it is 5.00pm and they need to move onto their chores. We introduce the concept of time awareness but unless we transition and make them responsible to be at the right place at the right time, they will never take this on for themselves. This means that at some stage, we stop reminding them of transitional times, instead we tell them at the beginning of the day, what the expectations are. I’m starting to write these specific times in their diary at the beginning of each day and then teaching them to use their diary to follow through on their commitments. This is used for their responsibilities, study and outside commitments. 5.00pm chore time is as much a time based commitment as being at netball practice, or a friends, or at the movies!

When it comes to being fast with their studies – this is a very tricky one. Because going fast can result in sloppy: sloppy work, sloppy study. We need to keep the big picture here – fast isn’t just about speed, which is why I prefer the definition of with energy and focus. As my kids have moved into highschool I have tried to give them an overview of what needs to be achieved in the term, we’ve talked together about breaking that down into weekly bites. This helps them see the purpose of their studies. Currently we are working on giving them a sense of ownership by an assignment sheet that lists the work that needs to be finished by the end of the week and if it’s not done, then their Friday and Saturday is spent catching up. Of course , this means if they are caught up, their Friday and Saturday is their own. This is creating a real life consequence. Responsibilities have to be finished before we take free time.

Time is a precious commodity, it is something that God created – we can’t make more – we can just use what He has given us. There are seasons – both in the created world, and in our own lives. We need to communicate this to our kids. Time and opportunities come and go, and if we are to achieve the things that God puts in our heart – we need to use time wisely.

So instead of being frustrated that they aren’t ‘fast’ in whatever you have asked them to do, let us think through what we mean by the word ‘fast’, and then see if we are teaching, training and helping them grow in this skill.

During the week I blog at Live Life with Your Kids! This week I've shared:

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My Bookshop

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 book/e-book - A heart focused parent will keep their attention on their child's heart for God, instead of on external behaviours.

Restoring the Heart, Mind and Soul of Christmas Do your Christmas celebrations line up with what you believe? Do your celebrations help your children learn more about Jesus?

This e-book is based on a workshop I held for a couple of years to help families see that Christmas can be a significant tradition in our family life. If we are intentional about how our family celebrates we have the opportunity to use this time to teach our children about Jesus, and his love for each one of us.

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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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Live life with your Kids newsletter is about being a deliberate parent, about enjoying family life and using the opportunities that happen to teach and train your children in righteousness (right living with God). I hope that you will find regular encouragement as you live life with your kids!

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