Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Building a Child Up

If I stop the merry-go-round that is life and sit still for a minute or two or longer, my mind can scarcely believe that Max is a fifth grader. Where does the time go? We all say that, don't we? How did that little guy who once topped out height-wise at my knee turn into a kid who is nearly as tall as I am (and he can even wear my tennis shoes without tripping)???? If we stop and examine each frame of our lives one by one, we don't get a sense of how fast time is moving. If we jump back onto the merry-go-round and hit the 'go' button, time whizzes by. Time plays with our minds and sometimes shakes us silly. My kiddo is eleven and now has his own ideas, his own agenda, his own game plan. Thankfully he still respects me enough to allow me to interject now and then and kindly guide him in the right direction.

I've been thinking about this whole concept of time a lot lately. I've also been thinking about the quote that is written on the left sidebar in this blog that states: "What we feed our children everyday - in body and in spirit - is what they will become." Wow. That's heavy stuff!! But true and important and I think we must pay attention to it. Every word, every gesture, every nuance is read acutely by our children - they look to us to see who they are, who they can become. I find this responsibility daunting, challenging, and one of the most wonderful things all at the same time. There's an opportunity if you ever saw one!

Feed - in two contexts, right? I'm a bit of a stickler about what is put into one's body nutritionally. I hate stuff like Vanilla Coke Zero and think it has zero value. I love stuff like fresh avocados or tomatoes out of the garden, or a really good cantaloupe. I'm trying hard to feed us with nourishing foods and focus a fair amount of energy on that task. Definitely not perfect, but on a track and learning more about it every day. So, working conscientiously on the 'feed in body' part.

What about feeding our children in spirit? What exactly does that mean? What are some things that you do to build your children up? One core way to show a child that you value him or her is to stop whatever you are doing and look at the child when he or she is talking to you. I try hard to do this - to stop what I am doing and look right at him when he is talking. This one is challenging because he talks A LOT, but he usually has something interesting to say. I have issued a 'Mom-Time' no-fly zone after 9 p.m. wherein I can sit and concentrate on tasks that need tending to, like planning out the next school day, catching up on some reading, or blogging! This is the time when the chatter is supposed to wind down and Max is supposed to head off to bed and call it a night. My husband is an early bird, so he's generally in bed before nine. I'm a night owl all the way and am most productive in the wee hours. Pay attention to whether or not you are looking at your child when he or she is speaking - it really does make a difference. It helps, too, to acknowledge that you understood what your child said by saying something that indicates that you did. We humans can sometimes do a miserable job of communicating because we forget about the basics.

Another way to build a child up is to let him participate in some decision-making within the family. We recently sold two vehicles and purchased a new one. Max's dad takes two wheels to work everyday, usually on his bicycle. Since we are homeschooling, we can manage well with one car as long as we communicate (bingo! That word!) about the comings and goings of family members. While researching the new vehicle, I told Max that his input was very important. We listened to his thoughts about each one we test drove. Down to the final two candidates, it was Max who gave the thumbs down on one of them due to the cumbersome set up for the backseat. Even though he grew tired of test driving this and that, I think he felt that if he had an important comment, we were listening, and he has a sense of ownership in the new vehicle.

We are about to embark on a trip to the Pacific Northwest for a week, just to see what's going on up there. Sounds fun, doesn't it? Max has been doing some research using the Connect the Thoughts Mini Vacation Unit to help us determine what activities we are going to engage in while we are away. Here's a picture of the curriculum - it's short and sweet and kind of fun:

This was $2.00 and is available in pdf format. It's an organized way to approach a family trip while letting the child have some say in the matter!

Building a child up isn't necessarily about oooing and ahhhing everytime he does something or draws something or plays a neat beat on the drums, even though that's pretty cool when it happens! I guess my job as a mom is to show him how to survive in the world as he grows up and in so doing, I must try to be real. I must let him make mistakes. I must encourage him without sounding ridiculous, because he'll surely pick up on that. Kids know when you are not being sincere.

Here's the book I'm bringing with on vacation to read:

It's what's on my mind at the moment. What are some of your ideas for building a child up? I'd like to hear them :).


  1. I just found your blog via secularhomeschool.com and I already find it very inspiring! It's so important- and often challenging- just to be present for our kids. We don't have to agree with them, or say yes to everything they ask, but we do need to show them that we are willing to listen, have a dialogue with them, and really care about what they are saying. It's something I have to work on every day, because it's too easy to get distracted by dishes piling up, emails, and life in general. Thanks for the reminder, and I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog! :-)

  2. Thanks so much, Wendy! I was hoping the blog would serve as a great stopping place to grab some great resources. And then I can't help blathering on about something or other that's on my mind. I think it makes for a good mix :). Homeschooling is an adventure and we parents learn a whole lot each year, too, don't we? I think we made the right choice to homeschool for umpteen reasons, one of them being our ability to be there for our kids when they need us most. Best wishes in your year - thanks for stopping by!


  3. Hi There, stopping by from secular homeschool. Can't wait too find some time to have a good look around. Anyway, just thought I would say hi. :)

  4. Hi Kylie :) - thanks for popping over to have a look see. Hope you find some useful materials and info. I still have 50+ posts to move over from Wordpress and am working on it, slow but sure. Are you enjoying your homeschooling adventure? We're three weeks in and settling in again. Thanks for saying hello! See you over on the secular homeschool site - love it!

  5. What a great post. Thanks for submitting it to the Carnival of Homeschooling. I think your ideas are right on target!

  6. I think your first idea about stopping what you are doing and really LISTENING to your children is so very important. If we do just that, we are doing much to let our children know that they are important.


  7. It's so easy for us to get caught up in our 'must do' lists and activities for the day; we get really adept at multitasking, but that behavior is something we shouldn't do with our kids - they deserve eye contact and our undivided attention. Imagine how it makes us feel when we know someone is really listening to us attentively! So valued and cared about. I wish every child could experience that feeling.

  8. A huge thank you for this! It is so easy to forget our role as parents sometimes when we become bogged down with day to day living...some things just get overlooked. Building our children up is something which doesn't come naturally to me, so any ideas and inspiration is welcome. Let's keep our children cherished and enjoy the moments we have with them...they do pass so quickly as they grow, even as educators when we see them every day.

  9. We do have a lot on our hands, don't we? And we need to give ourselves permission to not be perfect since our task is so large - educating our children AND guiding them on their journey into well-rounded grownups (hopefully). Raising awareness is where it's at - this is a learning journey for us, too! We can do well by our kids by paying attention to the basic, simple things that help them feel valued. Every day is an opportunity to give it another shot, even if we messed up the day before :).


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