by MaryAlice Wallis
There is so much to say about teaching little ones, and so many different teaching styles, children, and homes that it would be difficult for anyone to try to meet everyone’s needs. This concept that I present is homeschooling out of a box.
Consider an ordinary box with 4 sides, an open top and a bottom. Homeschooling in a box will give you the basic tools necessary to begin, continue in, or change your homeschool in a positive and simplistic way.
Side one- The Holy Ghost Side: Rely upon the strength of this side to keep you steady. Pray daily regarding your homeschool and what it is you need to teach your children. There is a saying that if you pray in generalities you will get a general answer; if you pray in specifics, you will get a specific answer. Heavenly Father wants success for you and most specifically, success in teaching your children. A favorite author of mine has said, “When we say God has a plan, he truly has a plan—not simply a grand scale, but for each of us as individuals, allocating some special talent to this dispensation and some to another. I regard God as the perfect personnel manager, even though he must work with and through all of us who are so imperfect.” Remember this: Heavenly Father is your lead teacher, and He communicates to us through the prompting of the Holy Ghost.
Side two-Organizational Side: One of the sayings I love best is: Organize yourself, prepare every needful thing and establish a house, even a house of prayer and house of fasting a house of faith a house of learning a house of glory a house of order, a house of God.” Oliver Demille, founder of George Withe College said, “Don’t structure the content,(of your school) structure the time.” Organize your Homeschool to fit your families needs. One year I Homeschooled in the afternoon because my little ones were napping and I found my daughter was more focused in the afternoon. I switched it to the morning the next year to accommodate my newborns nap schedule and to plan other afternoon activities. It is your school. Make a time, try to stick to it, while maintaining flexibility. Occasionally I will throw a load of laundry in during school work assignments, or unload the dishwasher, but take school time to school with your children. Read your own favorites books, write in your journal or read in the scriptures. Modeling these behaviors will instill good study habits. Model it for them, they will follow it. If you have a small side business or such, make a separate time for that aside from schooling. Don’t cheat yourself or your kids from schooling time. Phones can be unplugged, doors unanswered- Let your family and friends know your schooling time, I can tell you that they will honor it. Plan ahead, make a schedule, and document your work.
Side Three- Flexibility Side: It may seem odd to include this with the previous two sides, but it is such an intregal part of homeschooling. Often it is overlooked when in fact it is what actually helps define some of what we are striving for. One Homeschool mom says- If it gets too hectic or you aren’t having fun, it’s time for a break. Don’t be so rigid that you can’t enjoy taking the kids to the park, picnic, beach or play- learn as you go. Life is learning.
Side Four- Follow Your Child’s Interest Side: Cater your school around your children’s interest, don’t try to interest your child into what you have catered. Study the basics, but change as needed. Go to the library and check out books. Learn what interests them and follow it. Keep in focus the importance of building upon the child’s character. If you gain their heart, the academics will follow.
Bottom- Faith in the Master Plan- Our essential goal is to be reunited with our families in the eternities. Building on your child’s character and teaching him about the gospel by living example should be your foundation, thus the bottom of your box. An excellent quote I read recently states, “The gift to teach with the Spirit is a gift worth praying for. A teacher can be inept, inadequate, perhaps even clumsy, but if the Spirit is powerful, messages of eternal importance can be taught. We can become teachers, very good ones, but we cannot teach moral and spiritual values with only an academic approach. There must be Spirit in it.”
Top- Open to the Heavens- We draw strength from our Heavenly Father. There is an undeniable amount of power that we have instant access to. There is no question that we all need it. It is part of the plan. To draw upon that power is a responsibility we can not disregard.
The four sides and bottom hold together the stuff inside. The stuff inside is what you do. What you do is your choice. It is what after much prayer, or maybe just by accident you have decided will be an academic and character building curriculum. I have included a very simple approach to teaching, in the case you are somewhere in the middle of not knowing what to teach, or need a new approach. This example is illustrated in the following manner: If the subject chosen for the day was on “butterflies” you could create a whole lesson on that one word. For Math- cut up the letters of the word butterfly b-u-t-t-e-r-f-l-y and have your child add up the combinations of the letters 3+6=9, 2+7=9. Talk to subtraction, multiplication, fractions or whatever level they are at. For Spelling- scramble the word letters up and learn to spell it. Then have a game to come up with as many words as you can out of the word butterfly. For Language- discuss compound words- how they are 2 different words and think of some more and make a brainstorm list. For Reading- get a book on the subject and read about it, or check on the internet, encyclopedia, or dictionary. For Comprehension- ask questions back about what was learned. For History- look at the root word and then look at the history of the subject. Just For fun- think of as many words as you can for each of the letters of the word, or draw a picture or make up a play, or make playdough butterflies, or go catch some real ones.
Now you probably couldn’t do this every day, or you could if you wanted. If your child liked it, great. If not, try something new. It is your school.
What about the little ones that are crying or needing mommy? Put them on your lap while you are schooling the older children. Have activities ready, coloring books, playdough, puzzles, counting kitties, games, stack blocks etc. Invite them to read with you. Let them touch and handle all the Homeschool stuff you have, it’s for them too. The use of the senses is crucial to teaching. It is documented that when we use more than one of our senses during learning, we will retain what is learned longer. Children don’t intend to mess or hurt anything. They just want to be involved, so let them. 30 kids in a classroom is far more distracting than 2 extra kids in a kitchen area.
One of the greatest things about Homeschool is that you can get done all the things you never had time for. Involve your kids in baking, writing a family mission statement, making chore charts and planning goals, gardening, canning, or planning a vacation.
It gets easier with time. Pray about it. The Lord will guide your homeschool if you let Him. When things get a little crazy, go back to your box. Go back to following your child’s lead, being flexible, organizing yourself, and always go back to the Lord.
About the author:
MaryAlice Wallis lives in Washington with her husband, and four children (2, 3½, 5½, 8). She has homeschooled her children for 3 years. Previous to hometeaching, she taught speech therapy in the public schools. She hold as BA in Speech Pathology and Audiology. Email address: email@example.com