When we wanted to start our homeschool journey, I was ready to jump in with two feet. I was so excited! I figured the kids needed a little break, so we took a few weeks off and just had fun going to fun places like the library, and the park, and just enjoyed one another’s company.
One day we were at the Desert Botanical Garden on a free community day. I kept my eyes open for other homeschoolers. They weren’t hard to find. School-age kids with their mom on a school day, just like us. I spoke with a few and received the best advice, At this age, focus more on building your relationship with them. If one doesn’t want to do math one day, just enjoy being together. Don’t fret over the math, it will come!
All my life I have focused on academics. I sometimes focus on math, literature, and history a little too much for my little ones and we need to play. Did you catch the WE part? They play well, but sometimes (okay, most of the time) I forget to play with them.
I know if I build that relationship now, the learning will easily happen later on. Now I just have to leave behind the need to prove myself to others and focus on building a relationship.
So how do we know if we are doing the right things to build relationships with our children? If you are like me, you may overthink this. I need a list to check off. Silly? Probably, but it is just how my brain works.
My favorite thing to do with my kids is read together. We go through spurts where we do better than others, but this is by far my favorite activity. We love to go to the library and load up on books about which we are studying. Right now that is Ancient India. We pour over the pages as I read the myths of the gods and heroes. My older sons and I love to read chapter books together. And the other great time to read? Right before bed. We cuddle up and read a few stories together. Right now we are reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as a family in the evenings. They love this and it is great for our relationship.
This has been the best way to motivate my kids to learn to read. They all have a hunger for the stories that hide within the pages of a book.
Be interested in what they are interested in and LISTEN!
Sometimes this one can be so hard. As moms, we are outnumbered and balancing a ton of chores. If you are homeschooling, you have yet another task list to keep on top of. Find a way to listen! We want our children to understand the Golden Rule, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, right? How can we expect them to listen to us if we won’t listen to them?
My oldest son loves video games. I struggle greatly with being interested in them, but he loves to talk to me about games. So instead of ignoring him or putting him off, I will direct him to the best place to talk to me about it. I will ask him to follow me to the laundry room or the kitchen. That way I can keep my hands busy and it keeps my mind from wandering away from what he is telling me. This is something our relationship needs.
My kids love Legos. I remember spending hours building things myself, so I love that it keeps them so engaged. One way that I play with them is to get down with them and build or ask them about their latest creations.
Also, one of their favorite games is the lava monster. Whether we are at a park or in the backyard the kids are always up for a game of lava monster (until the four-year-old is IT, anyway, then tears often ensue!). Don’t ever underestimate the fun of playing in the sand or a rousing game of Red Light, Green Light or Simon Says. Those are the moments kids will remember and they will garner patience and obedience.
Kids are always learning and figuring stuff out. They are constantly on the track of cause and effect, which doesn’t always have positive results for them. This can lead to feelings of discouragement and self-doubt. Take the time to encourage them and let them know we all make mistakes and can start over and try again. They need to hear this from mom and dad. It is one of the best ways to build a relationship.
Trust and Respect Go Both Ways
As I said, kids are constantly trying things out just to see the outcome sometimes that includes not being completely truthful. Be a good example and show them what trust is. Show your kids why they want to earn your trust. But make sure you also are trustworthy. Be an example in your dealings with others so they can see you being honest and respectful. Treat your children with respect so they know what it looks like. This doesn’t mean don’t discipline, because that is a necessary part of parenting, just do it with respect and love.
Don’t take it Personally
This is one I struggle with constantly and I am working on it. It is so easy to get upset when my son is upset with me. I want to run off to my husband and tell him how I have been wronged and why I am justified in sending our son to his room. But when it comes right down to it, it doesn’t help my relationship with my son. His behavior doesn’t have anything to do with me and everything to do with him. He is figuring out his world. The boy is continually testing his boundaries. He is trying to figure out what his maturity has gained him and where his freedoms lie. Not to mention emotions because, believe me, it isn’t just the girls trying to figure out their emotions.
Reconnect after every separation
I love this one. This requires forgiveness, which is much easier to do if you can refrain from taking it personally. Sometimes it is hard to discipline, but when we come back together, talk about it, and hug, those are some of the sweetest moments in our relationship.
I have to keep reminding myself of the advice I received that day. Sometimes I feel like I am on a time clock. I have a Math book or Language Arts curriculum in front of me and I have a date that it needs to be completed. Who gave me that date? Me! So, who can change that date? Me! Yet, I still get caught up in just wanting to finish it. I worry if we don’t do it one day, I won’t be able to get them to work on it the next day.
Building a relationship with our kids is the most important thing we can do while they are young.