1. Remember your priorities. Recently Joshua and I listened to a series on Christian education. This point stood out to me: “God clearly commands parents to teach their children about Him. To tell them His stories. To teach them His way. It doesn’t say parents must be the ones to teach their children phonics or math. Someone else can teach the other things, parents must teach the Scriptures.” (paraphrased loosely) I’m grateful that I get to teach my daughter phonics and my son counting, but that’s not my highest calling as teacher. Teaching them about Christ is. (Though of course parents should be supported in this great calling by church, family, and friends!)
2. Don’t underestimate the little ones. One day, as Rose (5) and I were reviewing a poem she had learned, Will (3) asked, “Can I say it now?” I listened dumbfounded as he quoted the poem flawlessly. He had never even seemed to be listening! Children soak up information! Don’t underestimate them.
Playing in the dirt. Because dirt & sunshine are integral parts of kindergarten (and the rest of life!)
3. Make the most of mealtimes. Meals are important. Cultures are shaped around the table. Make the most of meals. For us, this means reading the Bible at the breakfast table. The kids take (much) longer to eat than I do. I’m often tempted to jump up and get a head start on dishes and laundry. Taking the time to linger at the table and read them a chapter or two from the Bible is much more important. The children love it and so do I. Not only does it ensure that we get to this most important part of our school, starting off our day in the Word makes it much better!
4. Don’t write off loving a subject, before you’ve tried teaching it. Phonics, writing, literature, history. I’ve eagerly anticipated teaching my children these subjects. Science and math, not so much. But after some wonderful encouragement from an older mom, science is one of my favorite parts of kindergarten. Want to know what she said? Stop stressing about having a perfect plan (at least with your kindergartener!) Take nature walks, explore Creation, look up facts about things that interest you, and read books about God’s world. We have all learned so much… and had lots of fun in the process.
5. Get the most difficult subject (or the one you’re most likely to skip) over with first. Math is not my strong point. Not by a long shot. If we put it off to the end of our school day, the chances of actually getting to it decrease dramatically. Get the hard stuff done first. You’ll enjoy the rest of your morning much more!
6. If what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s okay to change tactics. I really wanted to be one of those moms who researches curricula, finds a good option, and then sticks to it through ups and downs. Rose and I started a highly-recommended phonics program and didn’t have many ups. We both started to dread phonics. Finally I realized I was just being stubborn. It was time to find something that worked for us. We started Phonics Pathways and haven’t looked back. Now we’re both enjoying phonics again. I want to be diligent in what we start, but sometimes it’s best to change gears.
[Full disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.]