Christmas story read aloud was truly one of the highlights of our year. I collected beautiful, amazing picture books that we read out of each afternoon during story time. Then as the kids got older, I began collecting story “collections” or “anthologies” to read short stories aloud at the dinner table, during unit studies, before bed, and while traveling by car. Still today we read aloud at least one Christmas story on family decorating night and one story on our family Christmas even—with all fifteen of us gathered around. We never tire of the same heart-warming stories year after year (though when the kids were younger and still at home, we did many, many different stories).
“One good mother is worth a hundred schoolmasters.” -Unknown
Summer is here! Whether our children attend preschool, private school, public school, or homeschool, there are things that we can all do during the summer to make it an enjoyable, growing time in our children’s lives.
Summer truly proves the quote above–that one good mother is worth a hundred schoolmasters. We have our children home all summer–either with us if we work at home or stay home with younger children or at home while we are working. Either way, we have all summer to be their “schoolmasters.”
I love being a mother! I have loved every stage of it–from being pregnant to having a son turn thirty-three this year! My husband and I have been working a lot on the slides and handouts for our parenting seminar (“Raising Kids With Character”) and for homeschooling conventions, so all of this prep has led me to this blog post.
When I was in elementary school, I had a friend who came from a big family. When we were in sixth grade, I believe there were already eight children in the family—and my friend was the oldest. When I went to her house to stay overnight, three things stood out to me: how her parents made them recite and pray before bed (they were devout Catholics whose children memorized catechisms and the Lord’s Prayer, etc.); how hard her mother worked—from first thing in the morning until she tucked the kids in; and that her mother made homemade bread all the time.
Piglet sidled up to Pooh. “Pooh!” he whispered.
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. I just wanted to be sure of you.”
One way that we have tried to have one-on-one conversations with our children, in spite of there being seven of them, is to take a child with us in the vehicle whenever possible. We began this custom when we just had three small children, making it a point to always “take whomever had shoes on” with us when one of us ran an errand.
Through the years, our custom has become a little more sophisticated (especially now that the kids are older and not always available to go run errands). Now we focus not on who has shoes on but rather on who needs Mom or Dad the most at that time. It is not uncommon for us to discuss the week in terms of kids’ needs and for one of us to say, “Why don’t you have ______ ride up with you to see your mom Wednesday night, so the two of you have a chance to talk about that.” Whatever that might be.
Of course, good discussion can also take place in the vehicle with more than one child with you. We had three girls in a row followed by three boys in a row (after our first child, a boy). This made it particularly good for talking in groups, and it wasn’t uncommon for the boys and Dad to have “Daddy talks” while en route places. (And I could never disclose the contents of those talks!)
Sometimes deep discussions did not take place. Sometimes we just talked about what we saw outside (more on that tomorrow!). Other times, it was just like the quote above by AA Milne—and the child just needed to “be sure of us.”
In case you think that taking a child one-at-a-time is still not that important, let me leave you with this thought: We have had children repent of deceit, cry their eyes out over a broken heart, and even accept Christ as their Savior in a vehicle, one-on-one with Mom and/or Dad. We actually had our oldest child reveal to the two of us whom he thought he wanted to marry (and he did several months later) in the drive-through of a fast food restaurant. Never underestimate time spent with Dad and Mom alone doing something as mundane as running errands!