Comment on Facebook today – “I need to ask you about the secret to raising boys”. I gave a silly response of “School Supplies: Duct Tape, Glue Gun, Mud, Ice packs, Bandaids, Mercy and Grace.”
I do think there is something to be said as you are looking into the school supply list, if you want to be a relaxed learner of boys – or girls.
Quest / Letterboxing / Geocaching Supplies. Our town has a program called Oregon Coast Quests. They help with the history of our town and show the great little gems of parks and interesting places. Your town would have letterboxing. Look for spots on Atlas Quest. It is a free fun cousin of Geocaching. Even today, on an overcast dreary cold crock pot full of soup sort of day – a letterboxing trip is a fun 30 minute outing, adventure, clues, treasure – and a great walk outside. On a beautiful day, you could have a nature study idea up your sleeve, a back pack with their notebooks and colored pencils on the ready and a nice sandwich or boiled egg in a cooled container.
Duct Tape, Hot Glue Gun, Popsicle Sticks, Rope, Boards, Bricks and a Lighter. From an early age, we had a 3 drawer Rubbermaid shelf full of pom poms, eyes, pipe cleaners, paint, tape, glue – etc. The boys had free access to these shelves, and we insisted on items returning to their little boxes. They had freedom to create on the dining room floor. But as they got older, they moved to Duct Tape and Hot Glue. It is amazing what my son will create with few nic nac supplies. And it keeps him entertained for hours. If you keep enough crazy supplies at hand, like left over gutter pieces, you might get a marble run that is almost 1,100 feet long. . . .Like Jon’s Great Tennis Ball Run .
Tool Box and an Old Car. So that leads to the Screwdriver, Saw, Machette, Drill, Skillsaw, Wrenches, Wire cutters, Electrical Tape and a supervised YouTube account. Mostly due to our financial scope to not be able to hire people, our boys have learned the basics of small engine repair and car maintenance. They’ve weatherized our lawn care tools and replaced water pumps on the truck. Changed tires and replaced headlights. Sometimes I call a friend that knows how to do the repair, feed him scrambled eggs and coffee and ask him to just be on hand for the ‘what if’ moment. So far – YouTube and a library book have kept us going. Broken radiator hoses, alternators, mufflers – that’s the education you get from 1991 cars.
Character Tools. Many of the natural conversations of our home are centered around building their character. I don’t have the answers for these. Even though I was raised as if I was my dad’s only boy child – hours playing in the woods and camping and motorcycle riding – I am not a boy. I don’t want to ‘church’ my boys into loving Jesus. I don’t want to create a false sheltered environment for them either. So we walk a real life, and let real circumstances be talked about open and freely. I use the tools from Doorposts.Com to help me direct them to the word in an encouraging building loving way. Share what the Lord want us to do, how can I help them do that. I don’t try to create a home based on fear of what Mom and Dad will think of what happened, or what they did, or how they feel. We look for quiet moments to share the Good News with them in our every day life. We continue to use “For Instructions in Righteousness” at least on a monthly basis and just started “Because You are Strong” with Nate. There is not a Sunday School Teacher or Children’s Church helper or Youth Pastor alive that will be able to share the Word with your child the way that you can naturally at home.
Freedom. When I’m asked what my favorite part of homeschooling is – my number one reply is freedom. It’s also the hardest part. Carving out what is best for each of my boys, and not looking at what the family to the right or left is doing. Praying for the goals of each child and being open the the opportunities that present themselves along the way. Giving them freedom to explore even when it’s not my plan. Free for them to not be a ‘mini me’. Free for them to learn to read early or late. For them to move ahead in math. To explore the time frame they are interested in. For them to dig deep into science. For them to not like lego robotics. (hard one for me). For them to listen to music of their choice (within moral reason). Our schooling adventure may not look like yours. Good. Our parenting may not look like yours. Great. But we are free to live this life as the Spirit puts on our hearts, obedient to that calling, and we will have an obligation to follow it, or quench it. I choose to follow.
And I don’t have any secrets. Social Media has squished that option. As the boys have gotten older, I don’t share their day to day ‘cute thoughts’. They don’t like their personal notebook pages on the Internet. They don’t really like me to share directly what ‘level’ they are at – even when the level is amazing. But I do like to share my life here with you. If we can do it – you can do it!
A HUGE Bucket of Grace and Mercy. Grace and mercy first. A smile to see what they did. A smile always when they walk through the door. Try to hide that shocked and I want to throddle you face. It can get cleaned up later. There’s a replacement at the Goodwill. And as I’ve seen from many of my friends the last couple of years, it will all be over way. too. soon.