|Pictures from our spontaneous stay in Eden this week when some good people let us use their time-share|
I wrote this to myself in my journal last week, and this week we have been trying to implement it. It has been really good- we are not perfect at it yet... not even close... but we are working towards this and seeing some really good things from it so I thought I would share in case it's helpful to anyone else...
Here is what I wrote:
Sunday, Jan 22, 2017
I am feeling overwhelmed by the out of control screen time at our house again. We seem to slip back so easily into these bad screen time habits when we are not watching it diligently. One thing that seems to have worked well in how I homeschool is that I’ve never told the kids we’re doing “school.” Learning is just part of life and something we do every day. There are certain skills we need to be able to serve Heavenly Father well, so we work on those skills. It’s not “school” - just life. This has had some good benefits, like we don’t usually do “holidays” when they public school says we are supposed to have them. Holidays may mean we don’t go to our out-of -home classes, but if learning is a way of life, you just do it as part of what you do.
But this philosophy doesn’t work as well when screens are involved. We seem to “forget” that we are life-long learners because they distract us. And then life becomes about what we need to do to get to our screens - or even worse - we don’t even remember that we had stuff we were supposed to do before we got to our screens.
I have felt impressed to make our home a training school for life (not a training school for college, or for a test or a job). What is it that we need in order to become the most fine-tuned instruments we can be in God’s hands? How can we learn to hear and follow Him daily? What kind of habits take us to Him?
This morning, I want to write a list of life-long habits that I want my kids to have when they leave my home (and habits I want to have in my own life too):
- Write in a journal every morning
- Read from scriptures every morning and write in journal something applicable to that day or situation along with a prompting and learning list for the day (the prompting part is more about serving others that day and a learning part of the list is about improving yourself so you can better serve others)
- Kneeling Prayers - morning, evening and with the family
- Read from a classic book at least 30 minutes a day
- Daily exercise or movement
- Spend time in nature at least weekly
- Go to the temple weekly
- Family dinners and other meals when possible (don’t start a meal until everyone is sitting when they are home)
- Cleaning up after ourselves before we leave the room we were in.
- Weekly discussions with others about what they we are learning - in person or online (this has been a great learning tool for me even as an adult, that’s why I hold classes or blog, I think this is also supposed to be the goal of our classes at church)
- Weekly prayerful goal setting (a time we reflect with our Heavenly Father about what he’d like us to focus on that week - preferably in preparation for sacrament)
- Keeping a learning list (list where we write down the things we are interested in learning about or talents we want to work on so we can move towards those goals and use it to make personal learning goals)
- Adequate sleep daily (to bed early and arise early)
- Healthy snacks and food with a willingness to eat things that are unfamiliar
- Respect and love for others in hearts, language and action (including obedience to parents)
- Love people, not acquiring stuff - just keep things we love and use; give the rest away to others who can use it.
- Serve their family and others- Realize their circle of influence and stewardship starts with their family and expands from there (not the other way around)
If my kids were to leave my home having acquired those 17 habits/values - I would consider our “homeschool” a success. I would have taught them to go to the Source of all Truth for their education and to follow His guidance. I would have taught them to care for others, their bodies (the instrument of their Spirit) and their environment (their material stewardship).
So then the question becomes, how can I form my week in order to help us all acquire these habits? What does our homeschool actually look like?
- Sundays: Make a learning list of things prompted to learn that week, a classic book to study, people prompted to help that week (starting with family) and a physical health plan for the week (includes sleep, exercise and food - menu planning for me that includes something different each week)
- Teach by example and expectation to do the following every morning: Kneeling prayer, scripture study, and write in a journal. Journal writing should include an applicable scripture or thought from scriptures and a prayerful prompting/learning list for that day that references the Sunday list.
- Morning devotional where we share and discuss what we are learning and our thoughts from our scripture study
- Wednesday and Saturday - nature days (it would be nice to be in nature twice a week, but if one of those days is really yucky - at least we’ll have gone out once that week)
- Friday - temple day for youth. Wednesday night or Saturday morning - temple day for me
- Monday - this is when we’ve scheduled a group discussion with friends (in the afternoon of course, evenings are for family home evening)
- Saturday (or Friday if we’ll be gone Saturday): Deep clean the house and dejunk our stuff (get rid of everything we don’t love or use)
- Work on the following each day and teach/instruct about it through the week: a) Family Meals - being together before we start and cleaning up before we leave, b) respectful language (the heart and action of respect will come more from their prompting list), c) obedience, d) family jobs (serving beyond cleaning their own stuff) and e) cleaning up before we leave a room.
I think those 8 rituals would cover all 14 habits/values I want my kids to have and learn before they leave my home. That sounds pretty simple right? I think the trick is to realize (and help everyone else realize) that these 8 rituals come first and we fit all other activities around these things instead of the other way around where we’d fit these things in if we had time.
Since this post, I made some bookmarks for me and my kids to help us reflect on Sundays. My hope is that they will keep the bookmarks in their journal and use them to write a priority list for themselves each day. The plan this week to help us get in this habit, is to have the kids turn in all electronics after our family scripture study at night and we will give them back to the kids in the morning after they have written their priority lists for the day. Of course, the little kids need a lot of my help for the whole process, but slowly they'll transition into doing it themselves I hope.