Children, Walruses…and Training Good Behavior

walrus-74080_1280When we last visited Sea World, I couldn’t help noticing the children in the crowd—and the training their parents were unknowingly giving them—in contrast to the sea animals and the purposeful training they were carefully receiving.

When the walrus even began to turn his head in the right direction, the trainer responded with a big handful of fish, stroking his skin, and praising him. It was obvious that if the trainer ignored good behavior, or approached wrong behavior with a slap or criticism, the walrus would quickly “un-train”. It took constant positive reinforcement to keep the animals willing to do the trainer’s bidding.

Children are not walruses, of course, but as I observed the crowd, I saw parents interacting with their children and it was very instructive. I saw children behaving wonderfully well, but they were given no positive reinforcement or attention at all. Misbehaving children were given plenty of negative attention, scolding and occasionally a spank. Some misbehaving kids were actually bought off with treats or souvenirs to shut them up and keep them happy. It is amazing with this kind of parenting that we don’t “un-train” our children and numb them from ever trying to please us, or respect any kind of authority!

Soothing words, kind treatment, genuine quiet praise, focused attention, sincere appreciation for cooperative behavior, rewards skillfully given to those who are really trying to control themselves and behave—this is what truly works in the long run.

Both with walruses and kids!

May I recommend:

Remember Your Manners

Remember Your Manners

Social skills are so important!  Take time in your home school to make sure your children are taught how to get along socially by behaving mannerly. This helpful resource contains 15 reproducible stories and 35 teaching posters, activities, role-play ideas, and guided questions. The stories and activities reinforce those important magic words, making friends, mealtime manners, phone etiquette, good sportsmanship, good citizenship, kindness, honesty, responsibility, showing respect, self-control, and more! 160 pages. Reproducible. Great for special needs kids or children age 3 and up.

Uncommon CourtesyUncommon Courtesy

Courtesy really has become uncommon! Maybe it is different where you live, but out West it seems that rudeness is the rule. Here’s some courteous know-hows on living with your fellowmen respectfully and happily. When we were young, if our parents didn’t teach us to be mannerly, it still rubbed off from society, since others expected you to behave properly. Not always so today—it is time for this book! Uncommon Courtesy for Kids teaches table manners, phone manners, rules for church, courtesy words such as “pardon me,” “please,” and “thank you,” how to treat adults, how to act on public transportation, manners in the car, and more. Each topic is treated by listing several rules in large type so that it can be used as a visual aid or poster. The rules are also illustrated in full-page black-and-white cartoon drawings. We must choose to be courteous and develop the discipline of courtesy each day. We do not stumble into being a gentlemen or a lady. A good one!

Blunders Board Game

Blunders Board Game

Blunders! We all make them! Teach your children the social skills that will help them for a lifetime with this clever new game that makes learning manners and good social skills fun! Through funny and blundering adventures, you’ll learn table manners, dining etiquette, confident introductions, host and guest skills, telephone manners, how to show respect and kindness, how to avoid gossiping, bullying, and teasing. 2009 Game of the Year Award. For ages 5 to 10 years, 2-8 players.

For Kids Who Love Space

astronaut-11050_1280My daughter Louisa wanted to study astronomy for science in homeschool. She is 12 years old and has her definite preferences, so I began a search for some resources to help. I discovered Apologia Science books for grades K-6 grade. The chapters are fun to read aloud together, and they have experiments at the end that we had a good time doing. The experiments didn’t use any odd ingredients, so I could really pull them together quickly—I love that!

[Read more…]

Saturday Lists

My husband, Rick

My husband, Rick

All week long, little mishaps such as a broken pan handle or a burned-out light bulb can cause some frustration that dampens our joy a bit. They are little things, but they can be very annoying and inconvenient. I know I’m not the only mom who has lived with a broken drawer handle for months (or years) just because there is never time to fix it. And when it is finally fixed in 5 minutes, I find myself moaning, “Is that all it took?”, as I had fumbled with it constantly while doing my homemaking.

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Knowing Your Way Around Time

the-yearIt is a tricky for little children to understand the idea that the year rotates around, and starts again with a new numbered year. My “year chart” can help. Print it off and post it on your schoolroom wall, and go over it often with your 4-8 year olds. Asking them questions and talking about the months of the year will help them practice and gain understanding of the passage of time. Put the birthdays of each family member in your year, too, as that is a big event for young ones. And any recurring annual events.

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Kids Can’t Spell?


Ammon shows off a big beet he grew

It is an all-too-common problem. Kids can’t spell, teenagers can’t spell, even many adults can’t spell. Thank goodness for spell-check on the computer. It has helped the problem enormously!

Learning to write is pretty important, as we use if daily in our communication. Nothing blows “lookin’ smart” faster than misspelling a common word. It’s like saying “ain’t”—only on paper!

[Read more…]

A Library Card and a Willing Heart


A Library Card and a Willing Heart

It seems when a parent considers homeschooling their child, their first concern is books.

“What am I supposed to use?”

“How do I afford schoolbooks?” 

“I don’t have a teaching degree…how could I ever qualify to each my child?”

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A Delicious Read, Indeed

I want to tell you about my favorite book: Laddie, A True Blue Story. It’s not very often that you find such a warm, family-value-oriented book. It is a treasure! The best part of it was reading it out-loud to my children. I found it taught just as much as a sermon . . . with my family chuckling along the way and begging for more. And there is lots more—416 pages of it. 

[Read more…]

Natural Speller versus Has-to-Be-Taught

My children: Ammon, Julianna and Mark
Will the “natural speller” please stand up?

Having homeschooled 7 children, I eventually figured out that either kids come as “natural spellers” or they don’t. And if they don’t, you have to teach them to spell.

[Read more…]

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