I was inspired recently by an article on Hip Homeschool Moms. In it, the author, Darcy, says this:
“Enjoy your kids today and love them,” his departing words to me, as he goes off to work.
After eighteen years of marriage, he knows me well and he knows that sometimes I forget. Not that I forget to love them, for I love them something fierce. However, to enjoy them? That’s a different story. Sometimes, I do forget.
I forget too.
I’ve been guilty of putting the work before the child. I’ve made the assignments a higher priority than my kids’ needs. I’ve been the slave driver and the taskmaster. I’m not proud of it.
Fortunately, mistakes are for learning.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes so I must have learned a lot, right? 😉
Well, I’m taking all of those bumbles that I’ve made and I’m evaluating them and determining the right path to take. Here’s what’s going in my big book of Lessons Learned about putting children first.
Put Children First
#1 Lesson Learned: Listen to my children with my whole heart.
I’ve learned that it’s important…no, it’s essential…to spend time listening to my children. I mean really listening. Not the half listening that I’ve done when I’ve been preoccupied with something else. I mean making eye contact and showing an interest in what they are saying. Listening to them tell me about their favorite book or what happened at their religious education class or what they like to eat. Smiling at them and giving them my undivided attention. I have discovered that listening has created more open communication between us. They are more willing to listen to me because I listen to them. It’s the whole “Do unto others” lesson.
#2 Lesson Learned: Ask questions out of love.
I’ve learned to ask questions that show that I care about them and their school work instead of nagging questions. I used to ask questions like, “Are you done yet? Haven’t you finished yet? When are you going to be done?” I’ve replaced those with, “How’s it going? Do you need any help? Are you stuck?” When I want to know how much they have accomplished, I’ll ask, “What’s the subject count?” Then they’ll tell me how many subjects they have finished. I praise them even if they have only gotten one done so that I can show them that I value any work they have done.
#3 Lesson Learned: Take a little time out to enjoy each other.
I’ve learned to take time to smell the roses. We’ll stop school for a moment to share jokes or a funny video. We’ll cuddle with the cats who cover us with kisses. (Like the alliteration?) We’ll listen to each other share something we’ve read or learned. We’ll stop everything to play a game of Frisbee tag outside. When we come back to our work, we feel refreshed and ready to focus.
#4 Lesson Learned: Make the lessons fit the child.
I’ve learned to make the curriculum fit the child instead of making the child fit the curriculum. One of the blessings I discovered about homeschooling after being a teacher was that I could mold the curriculum to fit the learning styles and needs of my children. That was very liberating. I could have oral discussions with them instead of just making them write answers in a workbook. I could find physical activities to reinforce the learning. I could use educational games with them. I could modify assignments. I could set up learning centers with fun activities. My kids loved it! I loved it!
#5 Lesson Learned: Celebrate my children for who they are.
I’ve learned to put my children first by celebrating them. I celebrate their God-given gifts, their personalities, their accomplishments, their uniqueness, and their virtues. I celebrate them for who they are…wonderful, talented, unique individuals who have the potential to bless many people. I try to make them feel good about themselves as God made them.
Putting my children first hasn’t always been easy. I’m not perfect at it yet. I’m still trying. Still practicing. Still learning. Maybe, with prayer and perseverance, I’ll get pretty good at it sometime before my kids grow up. 😉