“How do you not lose your mind, Mom?” My response was, “I already have.”
I’ve taught my five kids for over 21 years. I’ve taken the prerogative to include education from birth in this number. I can honestly say that since the birth of our first beautiful girl, we have intentionally taught our children. We look for learning opportunities and lessons in our daily routines.
Let’s take Halloween for instance. Love it or hate it, we trick or treat. To teach family unity and general self-lessness, we “poll” the kids candy each year. They pick out about 10 favorite pieces to keep separate and then the rest is the family stash. This concept is sometimes met with opposition and court-room style testimony of why we should change it up. But mama always prevails on this one Over 15 years ago, to teach math and charting in a fun way, we sorted the candy out by kind. Then we total each and chart it…often color coded. This is still something we do. Each year we have fun with this tradition.
We also like playing games of all kinds, including boggle, scrabble and bananagrams. Shh, don’t tell my kids that the motive has often been to increase their spelling skills. And, I love the games. And, when we cook or bake, I don’t just talk about how-to cook, but we talk about safety. It is always fun to throw in some basic math as we translate a recipe by halving the ingredients or doubling it.
These habits have just become normal to us. But then there is the customary bookwork for us, too. That is where it can get hairy some days. The kids do sometimes struggle on a lesson, or in some of my children’s’ cases, struggle a whole lot. I have a couple who’s brains like to transpose numbers and flip letters. These two have similarly had struggles reading and it is usually the small words, for instance, “of” vs. “for.”. My youngest one also adds in the fun and challenge of the creative distraction element. She often side-tracks, asks unrelated questions, loses her place while reading and guesses words instead of reading them. Oh my! A short spelling lesson or Language Arts lesson can sometimes push us from a 5 minute lesson to 20, or a 20 minute lesson to 60. Does this push my patience? Absolutely yes! And, I’m not always an expert at hiding it…thus the questions asked of me today, “How do you not lose your mind?”
Yet, as I face those times where I am called to be patient I am reminded that I’m called teach my sweet girl – and all my children. I wasn’t “called” only when it is easy. I was called when they are exasperated, tired, cranky, fit-throwing, crying, squirrel-chasing, distracted, overwhelmed and more. In reality, it is my privilege. The joy comes as they finally get a lesson, read a Bible verse on their own, understand geometry concepts in ways most people don’t, annihilate me at a game of bananagrams, and when I see my oldest graduate college with a degree to teach. Coincidentally, no providentially, this degreed teacher was my first number transposer and letter flipper. Through perseverance and God’s will, she has overcome many of those struggles. And, now I get to see her soar into a career where she can influence kids with our own talents in the classroom.
Did I lose my mind along the way? Maybe so, but it’s given space in my head for wisdom to grow. I’m ok with that.
(Please comment below with your favorite schooling ideas that DON”T come from books and curriculum. I love new ideas!)