If you have read my article about the Fun Factor in Homeschooling, you know that a lot of our homeschooling was hard work. Perseverance. Stick-tu-i-tive-ness. The daily grind. The day-to-day in’s and out’s. Teaching our kids contentment, work ethic, and study skills.
But we also had fun. A lot of fun. Not every subject. Not every hour. But in balance, we had fun in our school.
We all want to raise children who love learning—and if they love homeschooling, too, well, that’s even better. I wanted my kids to love learning and homeschooling so much twenty-five years ago that I wouldn’t teach a child to read unless he could learn within a few weeks with no tears. (Otherwise, we put it on the back burner for a couple more months.) I was serious about this love for learning stuff!
Recently when my sister, her husband, and her two young teen daughters were here visiting in Indiana from North Carolina, we took as many from our family who could come and my sister’s family to our local YMCA to play a game called “walleyball” (rhymes with volleyball). This game is similar to volleyball in its rules–with the addition of walls as it is played in a racquetball court.
Many years ago we were able to go to many homeschooling seminars including the Christian Homeschooling Workshop by Greg Harris. I mentioned before on this blog that we came home from his seminars (basic and advanced) ready to tackle one thing at a time out of that amazing binder of material.
When we had Valentine’s parties (or any “holiday” party) with our kids, we always did it a few days after the holiday—so we could get the candy and treats for 50-75% off! So…if you are reading this after the “real” holiday, it really isn’t too late to have a party with your kids for Valentine’s Day!
One of the things that we tried to do with our kids for celebrations (or just “anytime parties”) is that we tried to go out of our way to make being with Mom, Dad, and brothers, and sisters cool. Our kids see us go to great lengths to prepare for a Sunday school class party, Mary Kay party, or extended family party. We put thought and effort into having “parties” with our kids—so they wanted to stay home and party with their family–and so that they would know that they are as important (more so!) than the Sunday school class, the gals at the make up party, or the reunion.
We have fond memories of communion nights, footwashings, Valentine parties, Easter celebrations, fondue parties, “flat top grill” parties, and more with our children. Being in our family was just plain fun and way cool! Some times we would just announce to the kids that “tonight, we’re having a movie party” or “tonight, we’re having a chocolate party” or “tonight, we’re having a game party.”
It may have been as simple as frozen pizza and a movie or as elaborate as a fondue meal that Mom and the littles spent the afternoon preparing for. It may have been for a holiday (after the holiday!) or just because we wanted our kids to stay home with us on a Saturday night instead of running around with friends. (We’re not opposed to friends, but the more time we spent with our kids the more WE would influence them rather than peers influencing them.)
I will list some ideas for a homemade Valentine’s Party—some that we have done and some that I have read about or heard of.
1. Write love notes to each other. Okay..I can write this one without crying…I really can. Some of my fondest memories are the times that we sat down and had the kids write notes to each other. Okay…forget the not crying thing. Talk about incredibly sweet and memory-imbedding! We drew names and sat down and listened to the true Valentine’s story on cassette (Adventures in Odyssey) and wrote love notes to each other. I still have some of them! We had the little kids dictate to us. One of the funniest ones: one of the little boys wrote, “Dear Kayla, I love you so much because you have skinny arms.”
2. Have fun foods! This is especially important as your kids get older. After all, what do they have when they go out with friends or to youth group? Pizza, Taco Bell, mall snacks. As our kids got older, we got more elaborate with our party foods. When the two oldest girls were college age and crazy about Flat Top Grill when it first opened in Fort Wayne, one of our Valentine’s parties was a flat top grill night. (It was tons of work to prepare for, but the older kids loved this!) We had meats, veggies, and pita breads all ready—and had griddles and electric skillets all set up on the table. It was quite the feast!
3. Do something for others. Preparing Valentine’s cookie baskets or bath baskets for nursing home residents, etc. is a great way to spend a party—and helps others too.
4. Wait until after the holiday to have your party, so you can get some cool party treats for fifty to seventy-five percent off! With seven children, buying elaborate Easter baskets or Valentine’s hearts was usually out of the question. However, after the holiday, we could go get things for a lot less and still give them special treats.
5. Spend your Valentine’s Day showing love to those less fortunate. For the past several years, we have spent time on or around Valentine’s Day serving a Valentine’s banquet (and sometimes cooking it or helping to cook it) for adults with cognitive disabilities through our daughter’s disability ministry (One Heart). We often do things to prepare for it (cookie making, set up, preparing a special drama, etc.) then serve at it. Valentine’s Day is about love…and what better way to show love than to live out Luke fourteen.
6. Get a special movie, audio, or talking books to listen to or watch together for your Valentine’s party. We love Adventures in Oddysey and other radio dramas put out by Focus on the Family; the Christian bookstore (and Hallmark) have some good movies about unconditional love, etc. that are appropriate for this holiday.
7. Write various verses about love on large hearts cut of construction paper, cut each one in half in various zig-zags, mix them up, and pass out a half a heart to each person. That person then finds his other half, reads, the verse, and discusses it with the family.
8. Sing Scripture songs about love. Once we had piano players around here, we loved to gather around the piano and sing. None of us is too musical (except the two pianists), but we all loved it anyway.
Party with your kids—and make them want to stay home more!