“Men Are That They Might Have Joy.”

Image                                                Yes, we’re here to learn. We’re here to learn to find JOY! (2 Nephi 2:25)

Since we talked about Affliction, the what’s and why’s, last week in Family Night, we decided to cover the topic of Joy and Gratitude this week.

Here is the puzzle I made for the kids, Thank you Heavenly Father Puzzle The puzzle pieces have scriptures that talk about Joy, both how we can obtain it and how we can have it even amidst trials. Then on the other side is a picture of a little girl praying, on which I wrote “Thank you Heavenly Father” on ours. We cut out the puzzle first, then found the scriptures and talked about joy. After that we put the puzzle together with the little girl showing and talked about one of the greatest ways to find joy is to look for and thank our Heavenly Father for all of our blessings.

It was really a simple lesson, but the kids liked the puzzle and I feel like they understood the point…which is always a good thing;)

What are ways you have used to teach about Affliction and Joy?

Simple Family Gratitude Activity

Simple Family Gratitude Activity

If you have “visual/hands-on” learners at your home you might enjoy this gratitude exercise. We have done this the past few years, starting on our first family night in November, it’s a great way to start off the holiday season.
1.) Gather the family and have a Gratitude discussion (we ask questions like, “What is gratitude?” “How do you show gratitude to others and God?” and accompany the discussion with Scripture)
2.) Cut 1-2 in. wide by 6-10 in. long strips of different colored paper and have everyone write the things they are thankful for on the strips.
3.) Staple the strips of paper around each other to create a “Gratitude Chain” and hang it up as a reminder of blessings. We keep ours up til after Christmas!
The kids always look forward to this activity and we’ve kept our chain from the last two years to add on to. It’s been so fun to see how some things stay the same (I’m thankful for food, family, home,etc.) and some things change (our favorites this year have been “I’m thankful for my belly button, my hair and poop! I guess the “better out, than in” saying holds true :))

Why We Homeschool

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You know, I never really imagined myself as a homeschooling mom. I’ve always been an advocate, but I thought “Oh, that’s just not for me.” In truth I thought I would do some “home pre-schooling” to get them ready but I always imagined myself going back to work once my kids reached school-age. I’m a secondary Social Studies teacher by trade and I love to teach but the idea of teaching small children terrified me (thus the “secondary” choice). And then to add in subjects that I’m not entirely comfortable with (like math!) just made the whole idea of homeschooling seem way out of my league.

To be honest, I still have days when I feel like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, but when I remind myself of the reasons we started this journey and the benefits I’ve already seen and can foresee, than even if I feel unqualified at least I feel like it’s worth it all in the end.

Whenever I make decisions I always try to research and lay out the pros and cons before I even go to the Lord with my choice. Once I’ve picked what I feel to be the best option then I pray for confirmation that it is also the Lord’s will that I follow that path. This always helps be feel a little more confident as well, because I know I have an expert on my side, no matter the subject.

When it came to the decision of homeschooling, it was good that I did some research and praying because my husband was a bit of a skeptic at first. Once I presented him the facts of homeschooling and my other non-factual feelings on the subject, in regards to our family and children, he was and has been very supportive.

My biggest reason for choosing to homeschool was for morality and unity purposes. We are a very religious family and after having been in public schools both as a student and teacher I know how swaying the pressures of the secular world can be. I also feel that for a person to really understand themselves and their religion it is best that there is not a huge separation of church and state. I think it’s perfectly logical and also creates a coherency when things such as Scripture and virtues and values are included and woven into curriculum just as I feel our religion should be woven into our lives. I also appreciate the fact that our family has more time to study our religious beliefs and talk about how they apply to us on a daily basis, simply because there is less coming and going and we can make the time. All of these habits and practices create a unifying affect for our family, we feel that we are a team because we are learning about every aspect of life… together!

Besides the statistical benefits that I found while researching homeschooling, there were several particular factors in relation to our family that helped me move into the homeschool world. First of all, after both teaching in public schools myself and seeing how limited I was by “the system” I really just didn’t want my children to be limited in the ways and by speeds at which they could learn. I started preschool with my first child when he was 18 months old and even at that young age you can begin to see potentials of learning. I knew that the traditional school system would not tailor itself to my child and his way of learning.

By the time my second child came along I was even more convinced as I watched her methods for learning. Now that we’re preschooling our third child at home I am very grateful that I can spend the time we need or speed up the process. I can teach subjects in unconventional ways and help my children understand concepts in the manner that best suits their unique abilities and understanding. Through our journey I have also had the advantage of being able to slow down on certain subjects or revamp my methods of teaching to help in areas of struggle, without “labeling” my student,  which I would not be as free to do in a public school environment.

Another factor that greatly influenced our decision to homeschool was our living circumstances. We tend to move more or less every 2 years for my husband’s employment. Our moves have thus far all been international moves as well. Besides the language and culture issues that one must adapt to, it is sometimes a challenge to feel security in such a situation. Thus to cultivate a feeling of security and stability in our family life it made more sense that the one thing that wouldn’t change would be our school. Each year we have the same teacher, we have more or less the same schedule, and we have the same people that we are already used too.

Truly, I love the concept of homeschooling. I really do feel it is the best way to educate a child. However, I am also a realist. I know that it is just not possible, nor healthy, for all families to use this method of education or at least not always. We actually did put our oldest child into a private school for a term during my third pregnancy, simply because I felt he was suffering because of my pregnancy issues. This was a very good experience, my son was able to become fluent in a second language because he already knew all the material in his native language. He also was able to open up more socially than before and made some very sweet friends. It was also helpful for me because I became even more convinced that in order to thrive, my son would need more than a typical secularized/rote education could provide. I became aware of issues that I had not noticed before and all in all I am very grateful that we had that opportunity.

I do not know what the future holds, and I cannot guarantee that with every child and during every school year that homeschooling will be the best option for us. But what I do know is that as I strive to follow the Lords will and what my children and our family need, we will end up choosing the best option when that time comes.