I am going to homeschool Eva for preschool.  I've done the same with Ethan and observed while Havilah homeschooled Emily but I think with Eva I am going to have to be more creative than I was with Ethan so I am going to blog about it so I can keep myself accountable to creativity (which does not come naturally to me).  

So my goals for the year with Eva are:
  • count  object up to 20
  • know letters and their sounds and some simple basic reading
  • simple adding and subtracting numbers to 5
  • teach her her birthday
  • cut proficiently
  • knows shapes and colors 
  • simple measurements
  • time
Thats my list for you year.  Thoughts anyone?  
I compiled this list from: 
http://worldbook.com/typical-course-of-study.html  
preschool and part of kindergarden.
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I asked a question to a few wise older women and thought I should share their answers. The question was:

How do you teach a child to be self motivated? Is it ok to use bribes?

This is the response from a woman who has (I think) 7 kids the oldest 2 are in college and the youngest is (I think) 10ish. She and her husband have been missionaries in Africa for a decade or so.

“We have never bribed our kids due to biblical conviction of not appealing to the lust of the flesh.
I always found it good to remind myself that the child is in process, and it is good to set goals so that we have something to encourage them with or hold them accountable to. Another sobering reminder is what example am I setting for the child. Do I complain about cleaning or do I show delight in all that the Lord has for my life? I would pray that the Lord would open my eyes to see the right that the child does, so that I can encourage them in that. They desire to please mom and dad, but it is hard for her to be motivated to please God in her work when her relationship with Him is still immature, but we still need to be talking about Him. At 7 yrs old they are still transitioning from working hard out of the fear of the consequences, to doing it out of love for the person they are working for to doing it out of praise to God.
I am rambling, sorry. Bottom line is that, no we never bribed our children. We also did not threaten them. They knew what was expected of them, and the consequences that would occur if the task was not done. Be consistent. Encouraging words go so much further than we realize. I think most children would rather hear their parents tell them something encouraging than get a toy.”

This next response was from a woman whom I knew in New Zealand. Her kids are between 18 (ish) and 24 (ish) and we really appreciated their parenting style when we lived there:

“Actually no… We kind of figured they should do something simply because we asked them too, so we did not do the sticker chart thing ever, or “if you do this- we will do that for you” We said instead “You are part of this family so you are obliged to particpate- full stop. Howeveer in saying that, we did do the “Freedom within boundaries” thing. So ” You need to mow the lawns by Sunday evening, you can go out etc, but it must be done by Sunday” If it wasnt- they werent allowed out again until it was done. or “You can listen to any music you like, so long as it has Christian lyrics” Or ” Your room needs to be tidied by tomorrow afternoon, and then you can discuss with us about ….. as soon as it is done” We treid to give boundaries, with choice and the ability for them to make decsions within those boundaires, and then we HAD to kick in the consequence. So tonight Tyler has to fill out an insurance form, he has known about it all weekend, he is out now, its 9.37pm and if he doesnt then No car tomorrow- he’s had freedom, but hes got boundaries too. I think we got this from Steve Coveys book of which I am a great fan…
Bribary leads to on going deals that as they get older get harder to make happen… say they want a cell phone- instead of us saying if you get good grades and have a tidy room, you will get a cell phone, we simply said, when you get your license, you get a cell phone… deal! Sometimes we even gave them there requests without there performance attached- grace, but always for a reason.
Hope this helps… In terms of when our kids were younger, Saturdays was JOB DAY. We wrote a list if tasks, first up signed the sheet for the one they wanted to do, and it had to be done by tea time, or no tea. We did not get on there case, just had to be done- or no tea. In terms of school, and homework, again freedom within boiundaries, you can watch TV thats all good, but is your homework done..
Make sure you stay the Mum and boss, not a bribe sytem that could take that control away…just my thoughts”
“Another thing I thought of is that we are training our kids for service in our world, my boss does not bribe me!!!! I do it right at work, because it is right.
Your question also made me ponder what Unconditional love is, and how we show that. If you have a bribe- does that make the expression of our love LOOK conditional to our kids- ie performance based approval. Sometimes we bless our kids regardless of stink behaviuor and sometimes we withhold from them- even if they are little angels. This way we show them that we love them whatever, and the EXPRESSION of our love is NOT based on there good or bad performances.”

I like to do things well, i don’t know if its my personality type or how I was raised but doing things the best way possible is almost an obsession for me, which can be a good and bad thing. So when I read in the bible that all we have belongs to God and we are suppose to be good stewards of it I take it very seriously.

So I take being a good steward of my body and do as much research as possible about the best way to excerize and the best way to eat and feed my family, I read tons of books and blogs and then realize that I am reading and learning more about nutrition then I am reading my bible and reading books that will sharpen me spiritually. I once heard the word Idol defined as “anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God” I had made being a good steward of my body (which is a good thing) into an idol!

I’ve done this in other areas of my life as well. I’ve made being a good steward of God’s money and living sacrificially into an idol. You may be wondering how this is possible, well let me tell you just how my sinfulness can turn ANY good thing into an idol. Its the same pattern in my mind every time. I start by wanting to improve so I can honor and glorify God more then I seek wise council to help me grow in this area, through books and people. Then seeking wise council gets obsessive and I very subtly and gradually loose sight of the main reason I started on this journey and it becomes more about the gathering of knowledge then the end goal of worshiping and glorifying God. God has been teaching me to guard my hearts (and I would encourage you to do the same), take all of those thoughts captive and ask God if those thoughts and actions are still glorifying Him or if the motives of our hearts have become twisted.

God has also taught me that instead of being super disappointed with myself for making a good thing into an idol once again I need to just confess my sin and ask for forgiveness and then the sin is forgiven and I can move on by the grace of God and start over, I don’t need to wallow in my failures. Its so important to have a good grasp on what Grace means and we can’t fully understand God’s grace until we are painfully aware of how sinful we are. We don’t deserve God’s love, we dont’ deserve the gift of salvation, we are sinful to our core.

Over the years God has been revealing to me more and more how sinful I am. When I got married (well maybe not until after the first year or so) God showed me just how self centered I was and just when I thought I was growing in that area I had children and realized that not only was I still self centered I was also not as patient as I thought I was and then when we had another family move in with us there was a whole pile of sins God showed me and made me deal with and through all this God has been teaching me to accept challenging situations as a gift from God. And He has helped me to more fully understand that as Galatians 2:20 says “its not I but Christ that lives in me”.

So I am going to end with a few quotes from “How People Change”
“God has not called us to a life of “I have spritually arrived” or “I am just waiting for heaven”. Rather, he calls us to a life of constant work, constant growth, and constant confession and repentance. “He wants us to be a community of joy, but he is willing to compormise our temporal happiness in order to increase our Christlikeness.” “God is not working for our comfort and ease, he is working on our growth”

http://faircompanies.com/blogs/view/slow-free-range-idle-parents-can-increase-iq-and-happiness/

Here’s another quote from an email from Glenys who is now in Cape Town South Africa:Rata005

“We went to the Slave castle, and District Six museum, after listening and watching so much crap about how hideous we are to each other, I sat in solitude and silence and said a few prayers at St Georges, Desmond Tutu’s Cathedral home.  Your soul here can be shattered by the past and present stories this place tells you about. I sometimes wonder why I inflict myself with being so vulnerable to humanity’s pain, I could cocoon myself in little Cambridge and not bother about Sylvia a 16 year old Congonese refugee, with no status, a step father who has tried to rape her twice in a squatter hut and had no where to go but the Ark. Yet I remain inspired by God’s agents who work so hard to bring hope and light, like Joelle who is fighting for Sylvia’s cause. If we all do our bit and all try to journey with a handful, then maybe Gods design for us of care, equality, and justice can be outlived to the many, so I guess despite the heart wrenchingness of this place, I will continue to shake myself away from my hot shower, nice bed and pleasant life – I want to be part of the many.”

http://www.worldvision.org/content.nsf/getinvolved/actingonaids-video

Glenys in Ghana

We have been receiving update emails from Glenys Bichan who is currently in Ghana with an organization that she started several years ago called RATA. She takes teachers from New Zealand who she knows and works with (some Christians and some not) to South Africa and/or Ghana and works with the teachers in those schools to teach them to teach. The Bichans are amazingly godly people and we highly respect them and their parenting style and pray that our kids will turn out as well as theirs have.

Here is a quote from an email she just sent me:

“We have been again challenged that we are just people who want to make a difference, be agents of change in a world we are called into to. These guys constantly thank us and the Lord for bringing us, and they know what we are about, training teachers- not giving them a hand out. They get it. Sometimes I think -how come- why me- why am I sitting in a crammed internet cafe, in a wet sodden city full of amazing people struggling to ekk out a life…how did that happen. I guess we are just doing what we are told, and the consequences are not ours to hold – they are Gods, and it aint over yet!!!. I do like the mangoes…”

RATA’s website

Over the last month or so I have been praying Ps 139:23-24 “Search me of God and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts, see if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting”. Its taped to my bathroom mirror. But with all the busyness of traveling and potty training Eva I haven’t looked in the mirror in…weeks.

A week or so ago we found out that Geoff was getting yet another pay cut. I am not usually very easily shaken, in fact I actually prided myself on being “a rock” as Geoff put it. But this time I was shaken, we had to cut most of our giving and our already small food budget. As I was scouring the internet for inexpensive healthy meal idea I found myself getting more and more stressed as I realized I was already doing all the thrifty thing that the healthfoody/budgety blogs recommended. I was frustrated with God, we have been living so sacrificially and we have been giving so much and now God took away our ability to give….as I was thinking this thought I realized how proud I was of what we were doing with our money instead of giving the glory to God for everything. Everything we have in a gift from God, Geoff’s job, even the fact that Geoff and I are always on the same page in our dealings with money is a gift from God, who we are and how we are in from God. So I was very ashamed of my pride. Then I looked at my mirror and saw Ps 139. Wow God was testing me and had revealed my anxious thoughts and offensive ways. So then God gave me another verse: “Do not be anxious, about anything but in everything with prayer and petition with thanks giving present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus”. Then a friend called and asked if they could borrow some diapers because they couldn’t buy any until the next pay check….wow…good perspective. It is sooo important to keep things in perspective. I was just reading an article in the World Vision magazine, this video sums it up….well I can’t link to the video so click on “5 Days of Hunger 12 minute video”.

Something in the article that was not mentioned in the video was when she asked the grandma what she would like to feed her family if they could have anything she said beans and rice…which is what we eat when times are tough….good perspective.

We have been having a lot of discipline issues in our house lately and I have been seeking wise council and asking for prayer from some good friends. As a result of those prayers God has taught us (among other things) the importance of self control/self discipline which is (or at least the definition I give my kids) training ourselves to do things that bring glory to God. We have also been talking about how God is the vine and we are the branches and we can not bear good fruit without His help. The fruit being the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self control. Its good to feel weak and helpless as a parent because then it emphasis our need for Christ to help us in every moment, which can easily be forgotten in the busyness of life when all is going well.

Living simply, not for simplicities sake, but in order to give more. Giving our kids perspective in order to make them content and compassionate and grateful for all we have been given…ultimately Jesus’ death on the cross, so that we can serve and worship God more fully and effectively.

“We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28) Not the shallow happiness “good” but the character-building-conforming-to-the-image-of-Christ-“good”. “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Php 2:13).” “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Php 1:6).”

A quote from the book “Stepping Heavenward” which I am reading and can totally relate to:
“It is a marvel to me why God allows characters like mine to defile His Church. I can only account for it with the thought that if I ever am perfected, I shall be a great honor to His name, for surely worse material for building up a temple of the Holy Ghost was never gathered together before. The time may come when those who know me now, crude, childish, incomplete, will look upon me with amazement, saying, “What hath God wrought!” “