I really loved this chapter in Jill Savage’s My Heart’s at Home. It gave me some great ideas, but I felt very affirmed in a lot of what I’m already naturally doing with Haddie. It was so neat to see that what I’m already doing with Haddie is actually going to teach her so much in the long run. I’m all about training kids to be self-sufficient. Especially after being in youth ministry and seeing so many kids that seriously have no idea how to wash dishes, do laundry, prepare meals, pick up after themselves, and even order their own food/manage their own money on youth trips.
(Italics are direct quotes from the book. The regular text are my additions.)
“Home is a safe place to develop new skills, try new hobbies, and cultivate ideas. It’s a place where talents can be developed and honed. Home needs to be a place to discover not only what we like to do, but also what we don’t enjoy or have little talent for at all.”
In the Kitchen:
- We all need to learn some basic life skills, regardless of what we will choose as our vocation. Children need a variety of food preparation opportunities throughout childhood and adolescence. It takes time to show them how to peel a carrot or potato, but it gives them ownership of the meal and introduces them to basic culinary skills. You never know what God has in store for your child.
- Require regular help in the kitchen by every child, but give extra opportunities to any child who shows more interest.
I have naturally already included Haddie in helping me cook. She loves to sit on the counter and watch me cook. She also likes to help dump and mix (I only let her do so for a very limited time). She already knows the names for a lot of the dishes, utensils, etc. She can point out a cutting board, knife, mixer, bowls, plates, measuring cups, etc. And she’s learned about and tried a lot more foods than she normally would from watching me cook.
In the Garage:
- Many kids learn best with hands-on kinesthetic learning. If you have a kinesthetic learner, providing opportunities to tear something apart and put it back together will excited them more than a trip to McDonalds and it will whet their appetite to learn.
I can remember my dad giving us lots of opportunties to do this with his own radios and tools. My sister even used to dissect the junk fish we caught when we went fishing. I guess it was a learning experience after all…not that I enjoy either of those now.
Haddie occasionally spends time with Seth working on his projects. She loves being with her daddy and for Father’s Day we got her/Seth a play tool set. She already knows what a hammer, screw driver, etc. are. Even as a baby she spent time in her carseat with Seth in his shed while I was gone at work. He even made her car seat into a rope swing in there. She loved it. It freaked me out at first, but after I saw that it was actually pretty safe and she loved it, I relaxed a little. But I still didn’t want the neighbors to see her swinging like that…I was afraid we’d end up with a visit from DCF.
In the Yard:
- Every child needs some basic skills in taking care of a yard or growing plants, but there might be a budding horticulturalist in your family.
- If your family has a garden, make caring for it a family affair.
My mom had tons, I mean tons of flower gardens (and she still does). We also had a vegetable garden numerous times while I was growing up. I’m thankful now for the planting skills I learned because I’ve been able to have a halfway successive flower garden since I’ve owned a house (and even when having an on-campus apartment in college). Our apartments were pretty much the only ones with plants outside every year. I tried a vegetable garden last year, but I wasn’t too successive at it. Bugs and fungus, I guess. Maybe I’ll try again sometime.
In the Library:
- Reading is a skill that will bring pleasure for a lifetime. A child with a love of words will most likely be a lifetime learner.
I’m excited about this one because I’ve always been such a big reader. As a kid, I can remember constantly reading in the car wherever we went. Remember The Babysitter’s Club, The Box Car Kids, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Goosebumps? Those were some of my favs. I’m also excited because Haddie has seemed naturally drawn to books and she does have a ton. I was excited to find all my childhood books that my mom had saved. Its so neat to see Haddie enjoying all my old books. I have yet to take her to the library though. I think she’d probably enjoy it, especially the story time.
In the Office:
- Encourages an entrepreneutrial spirit in a child. A successful lab says “You can do it!” and “I believe in you!”
- She talked about how they helped their son create his own car washing business at age 12.
This reminds me of my siblings and I’s attempt at the lemonade stand in the front yard. I think we even sold our own art work, too. Not sure if we made any money, but I remember having a good time and I think there are even a few pictures somewhere that document our neighborhood business attempt.
In the Arena:
- Participation in sports helps children not only stay in good physical shape, but also may go as far as providing partial or full college scholarships one day.
- A sports parent has to recognize other authority figures in their child’s life.
- You and I need to be parents first and let the coaches do the coaching.
- It’s important, however, to remember the whole concept of margin when making decisions about what sports your kids will or won’t do and at what age they’ll start. A stressed-out child won’t excel in any sport.
I’m not sure how I feel about organized sports. I was never (and still am not) an athlete by any means and I’ve never been into watching sports much. But I don’t necessarily think its wrong…its just never been me. That’s probably naturally just me. But I wonder if I had been made to or better stated–given the opportunity as a child–if I would be more athletic today? I don’t regret at all that I’m not…just a curious question. So it makes me wonder whether I should push my child(ren) to do sports (at least to try them) if they’re not at all interested. And how far should I let their (future) interest in sports determine their schedules? I have seen way too many kids and families being driven completely by sports schedules. I think its just silly. But I don’t think its wrong if its done in moderation.
In the Conservatory:
- Anytime a child begins to explore music, a parent should invest in a very good pair of earplugs. (Just kidding–well, actually, I am half serious.) Musical skill is acquired only through practices and the making of many mistakes. Any band or orchestra instrument first sounds like the mating call of a dying goose or something more akin to fingernails scratching on a chalkboard. It takes time for a child to successfully make music. It is essential during this time, however, that they receive lots of encouragement from you…Reward good attitudes and good practice routines.
I’m glad to this day that my parents made me take piano lessons and made me stick through it even though I wanted to quit multiple times (especially right before recitals). I can still play piano today, but I’m still not a natural musician. But I’m glad that I had the experience, skills, and overall musical knowledge it gave me.
The Chameleon Parent:
- I need to be interested in the things my kids are interested in.
- You and I have to learn to be chameleon parents–changing our color to match the color of our child’s interest. If we are successful, each child will feel they have a personal cheering section for whatever skill they try or subject matter they sh0w interest in.
- Anytime a person can gain knowledge, it is never a waste of time. That knowledge will both expand their mind and help narrow their vocational and career choices as they explore the options available. Furthermore, it grows in them an “I can do it!” attitude.
- Kids need many opportunities to jump into ideas with both bare feet. They need to try on different skills to see what fits them best. When we help them to do it, it feels like a vote of confidence in their potential. And when someone believes in you, you can’t help but believe in yourself and all that God has in store for you.