Sunday, February 28, 2010

Montaigne, on the education of children


“Let him be taught not so much the facts of history as how to judge them.”

Michel de Montaigne

Thursday, February 18, 2010

New Chore Lists

 Vintage Chores

I knew it was time to update the children's chore lists when I had our ten year old daughter asking to learn how to do the washing properly, our five year old begging to use the vacuum cleaner and the almost-two year old trying to "help" with everything and anything. Here a few suggestions, which helped us make the transition smoother:

  • I have made new charts with cute graphics for the non-readers. One is for the morning, which will be kept in their bedrooms and one for the afternoon which is posted on the door of a cupboard in our living area so I can easily guide them to it.
  • We now title the lists as “Child X’s Morning Responsibilities” etc as this reflects the positive attitude we want them to have towards the duties they need to do.
  • I expect that any child assigned a new responsibility will need a period of time to learn the new skill before I can expect the task to be done to a reasonable standard. This requires my time, supervision and patience. However, I know it is worth it!
  • I am now encouraging the child who previously held the responsibility for a certain task to be part of the “training team”. The kids have got a real kick out of helping each other learn new skills and it’s cute to watch them working together.
  • While I have mostly bumped tasks down to the next child, certain kids have had to keep some tasks on their lists as they have not demonstrated that they can consistently complete the task to a standard that is acceptable. When I explained this to them I encouraged them that I am hoping that this will motivate them to demonstrate diligence in the areas they struggle.
  • Generally the easiest tasks are assigned to the youngest and so on. When I think of a new job that needs doing I try to think of the youngest child able to do it so the older children are not over-burdened.
  • Having five children able to participate in family chores I have had to plan more carefully where everyone is and what tools they will need. For the first time ever I had to make sure I hadn’t scheduled two children to vacuum at the same time!

I believe all children need to learn how to take care of the home they live in. It fosters diligence, responsibility and a sense of interdependence. As a general rule we all enjoy working together to keep our home clean and tidy. It’s so great for the kids to hear Daddy praise them for how tidy the home looks when he walks in the door!


Making History their story


The kids are now studying Ancient Greece and we will soon be reading that copy of Black Ships Before Troy which has been sitting on a shelf for a couple of years. It’s very exciting.

Now, I didn’t study history in school, but I wish I had. Learning about lives and great empires which have come and gone has a way of putting your life in perspective. In Australia, where warfare, death and the “natural” order of things is largely out of sight,  it is easy to forget that we are like the grass, destined to live for a short time before withering, dying and fading out of remembrance.

History reminds us of our mortality.

As a result, history focuses us on the important things in life: those things which are bound up in God’s plan to reconcile man to Himself. When we study history we  are following the course of that plan from the beginning to the present, watching His providential hand at work. It helps our kids understand  that they and their  family form a part of God’s plan: that they have a part to play, too.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Making a “Peace Place”

Seagrass Wingback armchair-Pottery Barn

I want to be able to teach our children to deal with anger well - especially as it is an issue I still struggle with as an adult. I love the idea I found at Kendra’s blog today, which explains how she has created a “Peace Place”. After reading the background material by Ann Voscamp here,  I understand that the aim is to provide a comfortable place, with all the material a child needs who is “feeling agitated and angry, to seek peace and pursue it.” I’m thinking that it would help our children gain some self-control and work through their conflict in a proactive way. I’m sure I’ll need to use it myself!