Thursday, June 10, 2010

day 157: summer schedules

In winter I get up at night

And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way
I have to go to bed by day.

~Robert Louis Stevenson

Summer schedules. Those two words do not seem to go together to most kids. And yet, I want to propose a plan whereby summer can still be somewhat carefree. (After all, that’s what most people love about summer.) Yet, our children can all still be engaged in learning, developing disciplines for their lives, building relationships and memories, and more.

We are night owls here at the Reish family, so I’m not here to put a guilt trip on people who stay up late—and tell them that their entire family should be up at six in the morning year round. For years and years, I fought my and Ray’s tendencies to function better at night. However, we are not ones to pull out isolated Scriptures and make them rules for our lives. The idea that “early I will find thee,” is definitely in the Bible. Then again, so is the fact that God is found in the night watches and “late at night on my pillow I sought thee.” Truly, God can be found late at night AND early in the morning! Thus, saying that one sleep cycle is more righteous than another simply isn’t true.

I’m not advocating a time table in which everybody should be on in order to raise our children for God! I am here advocating patterns and constances that make us successful. For us, this has meant that for nearly our entire twenty-seven years of parenting, we have followed the same PATTERN/schedule year round for our kids upon rising. We get up in the morning and do morning routines, chores, and devotions, regardless of whether it is July or January. Then we usually read aloud together. Then we do whatever is on the agenda—school, work, projects, play together, have free time (especially smaller kids in the summer), etc.

We do this because regardless of whether a person is fifty or five, there are things that we just need to do all the time. These patterns have helped our children grow up with extremely strong self discipline. Our adult kids, at ages 27, 24, 22, almost 20, and almost 18, get more done in a day than most adults I know. And they still, as adults, read, grow, learn, and give to others on a daily basis.

How can you apply this principle to your summer? What do you want your kids’ summer to look like? Staying up until three and sleeping until noon? Then hanging out with friends until bed again? Or do you want to help them learn some skills? Spend some quality time with them? Have them read a little? You can determine the kind of summer you and your children have.

What if you had an earlier bedtime (ours is midnight for our teens—they don’t require much sleep!) and had them get up, do a few chores, read with you, and start your day together?

What if you had a chapter-book-a week plan for their reading this summer? What if you taught each child a new recipe or a new cleaning skill? Summer can be fun and profitable!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

day 156: summer!

               "One good mother is worth a hundred schoolmasters."


Summer is here at Positive Parenting 3*6*5—and in our homeschool, Training for Triumph. 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 have a variety of topics to share with you concerning summer. Here is a sneak preview of some of them:

1. Scheduling your summer days (A schedule? If you have kids sleeping ‘til noon, you would be surprised how much more time you can have with your kids and how much you can get done, if you just had a semi-scheduled summer!)

2. Helping your struggling reader—this will be multi-posted. From helping your young, struggling “word caller” (with phonics, reading together, and more) to helping your child go from word calling to fluency to helping your children build their comprehension skills this summer so that when they attack various types of materials this fall at school, they will understand and retain better than ever. My master’s work is in reading specialist—and teaching reading, comprehension, writing, and language arts are my true loves!

3. “Losing” academic skills in the summer? Which children really need academics in the summer?

4. Summer “skills” books vs instruction? How do you know what your child really needs this summer?

5. Reading aloud and summer library time—of course!

6. Penmanship helps—improve your child’s penmanship this summer in just a few minutes a day.

7. Math drill—get a simple, no nonsense math drill that will keep your kids’ skills sharp all year long.

8. Relationship building in the summer—especially with those older kids who are home from college for the summer!

9. Implementing those things that you always say you’re going to do and always want to do but that do not happen during the school year!

10. Much more!

I will try to move quickly so that we will be through them all by the end of the month, so you will still have a good six weeks to work on things that are suggested, if you decide you need to. Thanks for joining us!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

day 155: praising our preschoolers just before bed

“After Daddy hugged and kissed Kara and Josiah good-night, he asked me to sit on his lap for a minute. He held me close, smiled real big, got water eyes, and then said, ‘Jonathan, Mommy told me a good report about you!’”
                                  “Jonathan’s Journal”

Jonathan told earlier in his story about how he hoped I would tell his dad about how he put Josiah first when they were racing in their chores—and how he loves it when I do that and when Daddy says, “Jonathan, Mommy told me a good report about you!” Well, here it is at bedtime, and what Jonathan hoped would happen, did!

My kids love it when they know that Mom and Dad are talking about them in a positive light. They love it when they know that we are not just talking about discipline problems or areas that the kids need to work on—but are discussing the good things that they do.

We had a tradition in our home that Ray would tell the kids the very words from the passage: “Mommy told me a good report about you.” Then he would share with them what it was that he heard about them. They loved this—and our teen boys (ages 17, 15, and nearly 12) still love it when Dad points out their good deeds and characteristics.

Make it a habit of tag-teaming to tell your kids how great they are doing in certain areas. Try not to have a continuous stream of negative or critical comments and discussions. Surely we can all find some good things to say even in the midst of times in which we are continually working on areas with our kids.

And how much sweeter is the sleep of a preschooler (or any child) who is told just before bed that someone (especially if it is Mom and/or Dad) is noticing good things about him or her!

That wraps up our lengthy time with Jonathan! I hope you have been blessed by looking into one of my days from ten years ago—as I have been blessed in sharing it and reliving it.

Tomorrow—summer begins here at PP 365! If you have friends who need advice and tips for helping their children academically this summer (especially with reading, comprehension, etc.), tell them about Positive Parenting 3*6*5!

Monday, June 7, 2010

day 154:reading at night with Daddy

“We got ready for bed and Daddy, Kara, Josiah, and I did our PICTURE BIBLE. Daddy always stops at the most exciting parts!”
                               “Jonathan’s Journal”

Today’s excerpt brings me to a few important preschool points:

1. Involve Dad in the instruction of preschoolers whenever possible, especially in the case of Bible and biblical principles. Preschoolers need to know (if possible) that it isn’t just Mom who believes in this Bible stuff! And that it is important enough to his parents to use some of Daddy’s hard-to-come-by, precious time to read the Bible with him.

2. Stop at exciting parts in your reading! We always tried to make read aloud such an enjoyable experience that the kids were begging us to read to them! My older kids even had a little chant they would do in unison when I ended a chapter during read aloud: “Read another chapter! Read another chapter! Read another chapter!” My boys still do it for me to give me memories of when my olders were all littles and did it quite literally everyday.

3. Use picture Bibles liberally with this age group. I will re-post links below for some of the picture Bibles I have reviewed this year. Check them out and get one today!

4. If you do not feel that you can purchase books for your family, do invest in the library. Our public library has many, many picture Bibles, creation stories, and Bible story books. With the liberal generosity of public libraries, none of our children should be without story time, Bible read alouds, and bedtime stories!!

Links for Reviews and Recommendations of Bible stories/devotionals for preschoolers and toddlers from earlier posts:

Devotional read alouds for preschoolers Part I (lots of materials introduced):

Devotional read alouds for preschoolers Part II (lots of materials introduced):

Faith read alouds for 6-10 year olds (lost of materials introduced):

Character Sketches (we started this with our four year olds):

Family Bible Library (we started this at 4-6 year old):

Nest Videos:

Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes—one of our first Bible picture books:

Sunday, June 6, 2010

day 153: five minute warnings and preparing for what’s next

“After we played army men, it was almost time for bed. Mommy gave us a five minute warning—which meant we only had five more minutes of fun before we had to clean up our toys. I wanted to leave it set up for tomorrow, but Mommy said tomorrow is “grocery and doctor day,” so we would be gone in the morning. She even said I could wear my new blue shirt! I can’t wait.” “Jonathan’s Journal”

Back to exasperating our preschoolers—or should I say, not exasperating them? One of the most important Preventive Parenting tips that we give is that of warning our children of upcoming events and times. Transitioning from one event to another without a bolt of “Put that away and come here now!”

Two specific examples of this are illustrated in today’s excerpt: (1) “Mommy gave us a five minute warning—which meant we only had five more minutes of fun before we had to clean up our toys” and (2) “Mommy said tomorrow is grocery and doctor day…”

The first aspect, that of the five minute warning, has saved our family a lot of grief! We always gave our kids at least a five minute warning before asking them to transition from what they were doing to whatever was next. We did this when we had company, and it was nearly time to start cleaning up for the guests to leave. We did this when they were playing something, and we needed for them to get ready for something else. We did this when they were busy and it was nearing bedtime. And on and on. Our kids knew that we would never demand that they stop what they were doing right then—but they also knew that when we gave the warning, they needed to start preparing themselves mentally for the switch.

The second aspect, that of telling Jonathan what was about to take place the next day, is equally important. We always told our kids each day what the next day would hold. (Now that all of our kids are older, we always go over the calendar for the week, so that everybody knows what we all have going on.) In today’s passage, Jonathan could look forward to wearing that blue shirt he had been wanting to wear! But in addition to this, it helps set the stage for the next morning. They know when they rise that we have a schedule to keep that involves outside influences—and we can’t keep those people waiting.

Giving expectations to our children. A definite plus in raising preschoolers. A form of deference and character in our own lives as we seek to treat our littles “as we would want to be treated.”