One of the joys of parenting, and this goes if you are choosing to homeschool and have even more of their full attention, is the ability and the honor, to be able to instill values in our children and bestow our life philosophy. Why not include the much-needed and beautiful art of learning to fully and completely love ourselves?
We are imperfect in our humanness.
We are perfect in our divinity.
And we need to help our children understand both sides of this.
Here is what I have come to believe and speak to myself, and am instilling in my children.
“I am full and complete. I love myself.”
When the moment is joyful… “I am full and complete. I love myself.”
When the moment is sad… “I am full and complete. I love myself.”
After a tantrum… “I am full and complete. I love myself.”
There is nothing lacking. Nowhere to get to. Nowhere to go. There is no journey only because it is always now. And now is perfect, just as it is.
When we accept our now, we experience joy. This is a beautiful place from which to grow our future. But it comes from accepting our perfection in the moment. The wholeness of our spirit.
Self-acceptance: So vital for each of us. For, we cannot move forward to create a beautiful, loving, peaceful life without it.
Feeling lazy? Fully accept it. Love yourself. Feeling angry? Fully accept it. Love yourself. Feeling inspired? Fully accept it. Love yourself.
At every turn, in every way.
As Louise Hay would say… “You’ve spent your entire lifetime criticizing yourself. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”
Because when you are in full acceptance of what is (with love), the desire to create more, move forward, change, will call to you easily and effortlessly. Life will get better and better.
Jesse Elder says… “Need nothing. Appreciate everything. Have it all.”
And when you are “full and complete” there is no need for anything. You simply are. You are full of spirit. You are pure love.
Let’s help our children to learn this lesson early in life, so they are not having to re-train their minds as adults, as many of us are still doing. Let’s help them cultivate self-love by acknowledging their wholeness, their completeness, their goodness. Whether it’s through mirror-talk, self-talk, journaling or with the help of a parenting through echoing words… begin early, begin now. What a life they will have.
I love the concept of homeschooling. Particularly surprising to me, as I spent 8 years as a public education teacher. Even so, I fell in love with this idea when my son was an infant. I learned how Montessori helps very small children and we both naturally took to the task set up and structure.
Having said that, we certainly do NOT do everything Montessori, and there are many days when I feel less than successful as a homeschooling parent. It’s a big responsibility, right?
I do it for two main reasons:
1. Because I believe it is the best fit for my son. I think of homeschooling as a real privilege I can provide for him that will allow for extraordinary life opportunities. Seeing Rodan art during the week at our local museum. Having loads of nature and play time. Being closely connected with mom and dad. Adapting to his learning style. All good stuff.
2. Because for us, it is part of living beyond of the ‘norm’. I’m all about creating a life without limits, an extraordinary life you truly love. For us, this means freedom and flexibility. Make your vision, and know that you can have, do and be what you truly want.
**We take homeschooling on a year-by-year basis. I’ll never say we won’t do traditional school. Just for now, this works best for our family.
If homeschooling seems daunting or un-doable, I hear you. I really do. If you’ve been homeschooling already for years, I’m sure you could teach me a few things. 🙂
What I’ve done in this blog post is attempt to give you a little window into how we do things part of the day here at home. I love creating simple little tasks, and my son has loved it forever. He often requests to do ‘work’. Here’s a few photo suggestions for pre-school/elementary age homeschoolers.
Part of the idea of Montessori tasks is to provide structure and simplicity. Here, I’ve taken only 6 pieces from a total box set of nuts and bolts and separated them.
I show my son how to do it once. After that, he does the next on his own. After he is done, he puts the task back on the shelf. The next time he wants to do it, he will be able to do it by himself.
The structure makes it clear visually, and limits the overwhelm of tons of mixed up pieces to sort through. The objective becomes easier to focus on – learning how to screw the bolt on. He loved this one.
This task is supporting his current learning of counting by 5’s. Honestly, my son learned to count by 5’s to 50 from watching PBS’s Peg Plus Cat. Here, I’m just reinforcing it plus adding the practice of going all the way to 100.
It’s wise to practice only one skill at a time. So, if he had trouble using clothespins, I’d make a clothespin only task (which I did when he was younger). Since I know he’s proficient at clipping them now, I can use these manipulatives to practice another skill, counting.
This is just a simple activity where he has to sort by color and order them from shortest to tallest. He does this activity fairly quickly, but he enjoys it. I think the small blocks feel good in his hands, and he feels very successful with this.
These materials could also be used for other tasks such as patterns.
Just some basic painting fun. 🙂
More Montessori task ideas for 5 year olds…
Here’s a simple cutting activity that Ben really loves. He’s done this one off and on for ages. He simply cuts the lines that I’ve drawn on index paper. There’s a small trash can to his right (think of: we read left to right, tasks should be ordered from left to right), and his completed work goes in the right-hand side of the tray. Super easy to create. Kept him focused for 10-15 minutes.
This is one of my favorites. We’ve had this activity in various forms, around the house for years. The cutter is safe (not sharp at all) and the set up is simple. Plus, the reward is fresh strawberries!
Again, working from left to right, I’ve provided strawberries I’ve washed. Ben cuts the stem off on the cutting board and places it in the ‘discard’ bowl. The other pieces get chopped into bite-sized pieces and go into the bowl on the right. Easy. Try this with carrots, broccoli, apple, etc.
Another favorite (but messy) activity that Ben loves (not pictured here) is playing with shaving cream. I used to do this one with my students back when I taught. We’d spread shaving cream on the desks and play copycat. I’d do writing instruction reinforcement (such as starting letters at the top – not the bottom).
After he’s practiced about 10 letters, he’s free to play. It’s a great sensory experience and is surprising easy to clean up. However – I always send Ben straight to the bath after this play-time. So, it tends to be in the evening and sporadically.
Montessori-type work tasks are a nice way to enhance or even focus your homeschooling activities. Pre-school and elementary school activities lend themselves nicely to this way of structuring. As he gets older, we’ll see what new learning awaits us.
Have a homeschooling activity you love? Share it here 🙂
One of the books that got me started. 🙂
I’ve often wondered what other parents do with their kids for a homeschooling schedule. As a part of local homeschooling communities, I see activities posted often. Storytelling at the library, Christmas crafts, Spanish & French classes. Heck, we even have a Medieval Swordfighting class for ages 5-95. (Haven’t checked that one out yet.)
We are very fortunate that there are so many opportunities.
If homeschooling ever meant staying at home and working at a desk for 5 hours a day – it doesn’t anymore.
It’s true that the idea of homeschooling can be daunting, and I get that. For our family have chosen to take things on a year by year approach. For now, my son is too young for kindergarten. He missed the age cut-off by a couple of weeks, and we are totally fine with that.
Homeschooling and Montessori
I’ve been doing Montessori type activities and other basic skills work (with tons of reading and extracurricular activities) since he was tiny.
Here’s a video him doing a pouring task designed for toddlers. Precious times, dear to my heart.
I love Montessori because it is simple, structured and naturally designed (rather than bells & whistles and electronics). It focuses on beauty, nature and natural life. But that’s a conversation for another day. We don’t do Montessori exclusively.
When I was a full time mom with no other jobs, projects or classes, we worked at our leisure. 2 and 3 year olds need lots of play time and we had that too.
Now that he is newly 5 (he still loves to work), combined with the fact that I own and operate multiple online businesses, I have felt an increased need for a schedule. My husband resigned from his job about a year ago, which has been a tremendous blessing.
Now, my son gets more time with his dad. And, instead of my having to put in all of my works hours between 8pm – 2am, I work days. I also get to maintain a greater degree of sanity from better hours. 🙂 And yet I still get plenty of time to be a mom.
Homeschooling Calendars for elementary age kids
I think he’s also old enough now to appreciate a calendar, and know what to look forward to. We have some pretty consistent days, along with some inconsistent ones. We try to roll with it. Dr. appts, colds, holidays, family travel, etc. or a perfectly gorgeous 72 degree day will throw a day’s schedule out of whack in no time. We’re ok with that.
Overwhelmingly though I try to stick to my Monday and Tuesday work hours most fiercely because with those done, I know I can enjoy down time with the family. Those are the two days I work with the most focus, the most intensity and the least distractions.
Keep in mind too, that I have often worked at night to add additional work hours in. Once the kiddo is asleep, work time usually ensued. However — During this pregnancy I’ve spent a ton of time nauseous or fatigued and have typically been in bed by 8 at night. Ha! And who can say when this new little fella comes along what will happen to our beloved schedule!
But for now, it works. We’ll change it when it needs to change.
Other activities that go on are also important – but we add them in as we like, rather than keeping them on a strict schedule.
Things such as my husband’s gym time or tennis games, movie with a friend, frequent walks, meditation time and bike rides on our neighborhood trail, beach days and pool days in the summer, play dates, library days, the kids’ symphony and a myriad of other wonderful things that are important to us. We just fit them in the big gaps of ‘free space’ we have managed to carve into our day.
It’s a thing of beauty some days. Other days, I feel once again, very humbled by this responsibility and wonder how I could ever do this motherhood role justice.
Some days it’s zen parenting and other days I just try to ‘keep it in the road’ and put one foot in front of the other. All in all, it’s a beautiful life filled with tons of hugs, teaching my son patience, him teaching me patience and falling into bed at night with a certain sense of, “Wow, we get to do this every single day. How awesome.”
(Side note: The foundation of this blog is about sculpting your life in ways you may not have previously imagined. Many friends of mine are truly happy with 8-5 careers and kids who attend regular school. However, if there’s any part of you that feels unhappy with what is, that you’d like to step outside of the ‘norm’ and have a more unusual schedule, an more flexible lifestyle, a non-traditional path – this blog is most definitely meant to inspire you.)
I wrote this sample schedule in late December 2016. More items will get added as the month goes on, but I try to emphasis creating unscheduled time during our days and weeks because I know it will fill up with walks, playing, dinner, reading, wrestling, and Target runs.
Multiple children, different ages, etc. could very easily fill up a daily or weekly calendar in no time, but I would invite you to consider making gaps of free space in your calendar if at all possible.
There is a fine art to doing nothing, and it’s been said that children need to be allowed the feeling of boredom/nothing to do. I’d have to agree.
Keep in mind also that for a 5 year old, I very much consider learning how to do laundry and help in the kitchen part of his homeschooling education. I would imagine teaching responsibilities of home life to be important at any age, but of course, laundry takes 3 times as long with a helper. 🙂 Other items are valuable as well – giving/being charitable, time in nature, exercise, etc.
You can read more about the 6 Tenets of Quality Homeschooling that I created here. We may not hit on each of these 6 daily, but we endeavor to make them a part of our weekly lives.
Here’s our January 2017 Sample Homeschooling Schedule for a Mom who Works from Home
If you’d like to download this sample schedule, you can grab it here and adjust it as you like.
With everyone using the calendars on their phones primarily, you may prefer to have the schedule there. However, I just find that having something tangible, printable and viewable for my child makes the most sense for now.
If you’re just starting out with a homeschooling schedule, OR if you’re feeling the need to refresh and regroup, something I’d recommend doing so once every few months, I’d take a moment to ask yourself these questions before you start putting pen to paper, or start typing out a schedule:
- What are the 5 most important elements you wish to create and nurture in your homeschooling/unschooling environment? (Choose 5 words that come to mind. Here are my five: loving, mindful, freedom, growth, experiences)
- How much do I know about the 6 tenets of solid homeschooling and which of those are most important to my family?
- Which tenets are showing up on my calendar? Which ones are missing and why? Is there a way to add them?
If you’d like to download the sample schedule template, I’ll shoot it over to your inbox.
If you’d like to share your homeschooling schedule, I would love to see it. Head to the comments section of this article and post away!
While you’re here… 🙂 Have iTunes? You may like The Truth About Living Podcast – dedicated to creating a life you truly love. Inspiration. Mindfulness. Spirituality. Real Life. Online Entrepreneurship. Gratitude. Check it out on iTunes here: The Truth About Living podcast
This homeschooling/unschooling program I’ve created stems from my value system, my background in education, others who have inspired me and reading I’ve done on the topic. If you can master these four areas of homeschooling, or use them as a foundation to build off of, you are well on your way to helping your child become a fulfilled human being.
The 6 Tenets of a Solid Homeschooling Education are these:
Each of the six are broken down into specific topics. On this site, you’ll discover how to plan for each of these and incorporate them easily into your life.
This is not about making yourself crazy to make homeschooling happen. This is not about adding in countless lesson plans and stress. This is about the ease of life. The entire background to this process is about the flow of life, mindfulness and harmony. Keep that in mind as you approach this.
Please view this video from a 13 year old homeschooler who gave a TED talk on the topic of happiness and health. It’s incredibly eye-opening and inspiring.
In his talk, he references the basic components of happiness, based on the work of Dr. Roger Walsh. Giving proper credit to Logan and Dr. Walsh, I’ve re-worked what I’ve found to be true in my life and added components from the Wheel of Health from Duke Integrative Medicine when I trained there as a coach to create a comprehensive curriculum.
Here are the tenets of happiness I believe we should work to cultivate in our own lives and that of the children we educate:
I believe if you have focus on these five items throughout your day, your week and your life, happiness more easily flows into and out of you.
Dr. Wayne Dyer once gave a talk on the seemingly oddest of subjects. He said (paraphrasing) that if you had an orange and you attempted to squeeze it as hard as you could, what would come out of it? Of course, the obvious answer is orange juice.
Nothing else will ever come out of it, no matter how hard you squeeze it. An orange, when squeezed, will always give out orange juice. It will never give out pineapple juice or apple juice or water. It can only release what was inside.
Now imagine someone or something squeezes you. What will come out?
If it is frustration or worry, doubt or even rage that comes out in moments of life when you are squeezed, then that is something that is inside you.
So, building a foundation for happiness and joy within yourself, within your children, is building up the contents of what is inside. So when you get squeezed, you are more likely to give out understanding, patience, love. And hey, if you’re not getting squeezed, so much the better. 🙂
How do you implement these 5 foundations of happiness into a homeschool or unschooling curriculum? I’m glad you asked! Check this out! (coming soon, updated regularly)
We all know the basic idea behind building a healthy body. Eat well, exercise, right? It’s drilled into us, and yet, as we also well know, it is much more complicated than that. Eat what? There are a gazillion diets out there purporting to know what the absolute best diets are. Same for exercise. And is that all there is to it?
Is not being sick really the epitome of health and well-being? I don’t think so.
Does killing yourself on a treadmill make you healthy? Is Paleo (or fill-in-the-blank diet) really the be-all -end-all of health? Well, let’s think about it.
I’ve gathered these components of what comprises a healthy life and body based on my years of learning and experience.
Mindfulness or Meditation (crosses over into happiness and spirituality)
Fun & Leisure
To me, exercise is about keeping a body in motion to the point of exertion, and doing so regularly. I don’t promote any one method as I know with many things, this is very individualized.
For my 5 year old, he gets nearly daily extensive bike rides and/or hikes. We also do yoga together occasionally. And then there is the general rough-housing and jumping around in the house, plus playgrounds and the like about town.
His heart is pumping, his feeling of well-being sky rockets and his muscles are getting worked. This is good exercise for a 5 year old.
For more on how to implement concepts of homeschooling or unschooling Health focus into your day and week, I’ll cover in-depth the concepts of Exercise, Nutrition, Mindfulness, Fun & Leisure and Rest over here. (coming soon, updated regularly)
Having been a public education teacher for 8 years, and having had a Master’s degree in Education, plus extensive training in foundations of reading, how the brain works with regard to hand-writing, visual math and much, much more, I’ve come to agree that skill work has a valuable place in education.
You can unschool any way you like, but for us, there are times when we do sit down at a desk and put pencil to paper the old-fashioned way. This is typically our skill-based learning.
Every child is different and for my son, for example, reading came effortlessly. Other concepts such as handwriting, needed specific instruction.
As he gets older and we get into concepts of how to multiply, how to play an instrument, how to analyze a word problem or how to form a scientific hypothesis, we’ll dive more into skills.
Skills are technical aspects of how we learn something. As much as you may love the violin, unless you learn the notes, there is a 99.9999% chance you will not learn to play the violin. Skills are a foundation.
Here are the components of skill-acquisition that I believe are called for in homeschooling.
Note* They are fairly parallel with what is traditionally covered in public schools (with more intensive subjects for older students). How you teach them is the difference in homeschooling and tradition.
Music or Creative Arts
Working on a hundreds board
Knowledge differs from skills because it states that you have an understanding of a particular subject or concept. Can you explain how water is cycled from lakes to clouds to rain? Do you know the purpose of bees in our ecosystem?
We know that knowledge can be acquired from any number of methods. Traditionally in public school, it is given through lectures and textbooks. There is a lot of evidence that suggest hands-on experiences and movement supports learning. And we all know that real-world learning is very powerful as well.
More info on incorporating the knowledge-based components of homeschooling here. (coming soon, updated regularly)
Here’s a photo of my son, Ben, at a 4-H community outing. He has dissected an owl pellet and, with a magnifying glass, is matching the bones to a chart. This class is a mix of children 5-12 years old. The class cost $4.
We live at home and we learn at home. So, why should we endeavor to make this part of the curriculum?
My question is, why assume it’s unnecessary?
It’s as though happiness were a standard, default setting and nothing need be done to ensure its presence. Not true. Happiness can be achieved, created, cultivated and there are ways to do it. (See #1)
Home life is something that also must be shared and taught. It involves contribution to your family, for no tangible reward, and goes beyond cleaning up a messy room. It helps teach responsibility and the value of family.
Here are some examples:
Household tasks (Does your child know how to fold laundry or mop the floor?)
The Fine Art of Conflict or Emotional Resolution
I’m reminded of a friend of mine, whom I love dearly, who said that her grown son had recently said to her (upon getting his new apartment), “Mom, you never taught me how to mop the floor.” Astonished, she said, “Really? You’re kidding. Well.. I’m sorry.” He said, “Don’t worry mom. I figured it out.”
This is a funny story to me because of course there is no great skill involved in mopping a floor, and yet many times in families, we do not expect that our children will do such tasks. Therefore, we don’t teach them, we don’t expect it, and they don’t do it.
Never too young to start 😉
While they are in our house, I think it’s wise to show a teenager how to iron…a 5 year old where their clean socks belong and have them put them away themselves, or a 10 year old how to cook a simple meal.
We are raising people in a society. We want them to be able to take care of themselves. Relying on us to do, do, do everything may secretly make us resentful of how exhausted we are all the time, and may not be fully preparing them for the responsibilities of life.
Whether it’s sewing a button (repair) or understanding the ‘dance’ that a mother and father may do when they have a disagreement and work to resolve it (emotional/conflict resolution). Talking about emotions and understanding that conflict occurs even when you love unconditionally, is part of education, part of learning.
For more details on how to apply these components of self-sufficiency, household tasks, cooking, repair and emotional/conflict resolution, go here. (coming soon, updated regularly)
6. Culture & Lifestyle
Learning about the world is arguably more important now than ever before. The best way I’ve found to teach tolerance, compassion, understanding and values, is by exposing children to how other people live, how other people thrive and what other people love to create. Culture is fascination, it’s enjoyment, it’s thriving. It’s being surprised and thrilled, being puzzled and bewildered.
These are some examples to consider including in your homeschool curriculum:
Field trips to new towns, new people, new communities
Let children see the wealthy as well as the poor. Teach them to love the wealthy and the poor equally. To be respectful of the family who goes to church, as well as the family who does not. If you take them to the symphony, take them also to the local school play. If you take them to Europe, take them also to rural farms in your area. Expose them to what is possible with gorgeous inspirational art, like ballet. And let them try their hand at a Jackson Pollock imitation.
My son was thrilled with our local trip to the art museum (free). His favorite was a sculpture by Rodin: The Falling Man.
Think you have to be rich to expose your child to culture? Think again. Culture is available in your community and the next town over. It’s available in books, in movies and conversation. There’s a class at our local community center for $6 on Medieval Swordfighting. There are Spanish classes available for free on youtube. City festivals highlighting dance, artists and even fashion are about a half hour’s drive for us. What can you find?
The foundation of this site, The Truth About Living, is to get away from limitation-based thinking. If you could design any kind of education for your child, what would it be? What would it ideally look like? That is what is possible.
That is how I came to create this homeschooling program. I simply got out pen and paper, with all the knowledge, the skills, the health and happiness that I now enjoy – and I asked myself what an ideal homeschooling curriculum would look like. This is that list.
To re-visit, they are:
Now, if by some chance, this all-inclusive list seems overwhelming or daunting to you, do not despair. We are taking the traditional education curriculum and flipping it on its head. We are starting with new premises. And so it is not that these tenets and sub-categories are adding to on to what already is. It is that these are the new foundations from which to thrive.
We are taking a fresh look at how to best educate our children.
If you have the inclination to start homeschooling, or if you’re wanting a new approach, I’d highly recommend starting here. Adapt as you need to. Adjust by age, by interest, by skill. Re-assess often.
Insert concepts as they are appropriate. Cursive writing. Critical thinking. Dissections. How to boil water.
They’re your children. You’ll do what’s right for your family.
But if you’re like me, you’re happy to have a guideline, a program, that consists of a curriculum that is more inclusive of life values.
What have you been using so far? I’m curious. Comment and share.