Big Bear Hugs

My very sweet grandbabies: Abigial and Rebekah and their new baby brother Isaac

My very sweet grandbabies: Abigial and Rebekah and their new baby brother Isaac

We all need physical touch! It is essential to our well-being, just as much as good food and sleep and other components of health. Research has shown that monkeys will choose physical contact over food, if they are being “touch-deprived”. In another study, babies in overcrowded orphanages had a greater chance of survival if their cribs were near the doorway where workers might pat them as they passed. Touch is critical to our well-being.

Pestering, poking, tickling and teasing is sometimes just a way of begging for physical contact. It’s a way of inviting to be touched and touching others. We all need touch, but poking and tickling isn’t exactly the best method for getting our needs met. What is an acceptable way to get the healthy, nurturing body contact that we all need?

When pestering got to be a big problem at my house, I decided we needed to institute some morning bear hugs! So as everyone came out to our morning devotional, I had them line up and give the person across from them a big l-o-n-g bear hug. I told them to keep hugging until I said “stop”, which resulted in giggles. Then we rotated around until everyone had given everyone else a cozy extended hug.

I loved to watch my babies with my teenagers. A baby needs to be held and touched and played with. One of my sons would take the baby into his room regularly to just talk to and hold. Teenagers benefit so much from physical contact, and may feel awkward with hugs and kisses from parents, even though they still need them. A baby and a teen are a great combination!

What else have we tried in our family?

  • Letting the kids roll and wrestle
  • Hand massages (great while you are sitting together)
  • Goodbye and hello kisses
  • Arm wrestling (or leg wrestling!)
  • Family dancing together (boy with girl, or girl with girl or any combination works!)

Teach your kids some acceptable ways to get that much-needed physical contact, and the poking and pestering will diminish.

If you want to tone down the pestering, try starting the day with a big bear hug!


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What to Do with a Restless Little Boy?

I find it a rather interesting fact that 80% of all homeschooled children are boys. That makes a definite statement about the inability of most little boys to sit in desks and endure the regimentation of public school. Little boys are wiggles and adventure. Sitting in a desk for hours on end sounds like cruel and unusual punishment to an energetic little man.

What can be done with those particular little boys that can’t seem to do well in homeschool either? It seems that in the past 14 years of homeschooling my children, I have rotated in and out of having a restless little boy many of those years. It gets very tempting to consider public school, especially when I have a baby. Public school seems like a good solution until you really study it out.

Advantages of Sending Your Restless Boy to Public School:
1. He would be out of your hair for several hours a day, meaning you could get something done (such as homeschooling your more compliant children, cleaning house, nursing the baby, etc.)
2. The school schedule would discipline him to being on time and preparing his homework ahead of time.
3. The teacher would teach him to obey and follow directions.
4. He would have other children to play with and tousle with, teaching him how to act and get along while diverting some of his boundless energy.
5. He would learn academics, which would be more than seems to be getting through in homeschool.

Let’s Consider Each So-Called “Advantage”
1. He would be out of your hair for several hours a day, meaning you could get something done (such as homeschooling your more compliant children, cleaning house, nursing the baby, etc.)
Mothers are to be about the vital business of teaching and nurturing the precious children that God has entrusted to them. You love him more than any other person on this earth loves him, and you care about his daily doings. No teacher could rouse the same amount of interest or concern for his success. Just because he is out of your hair doesn’t mean that he is no longer totally your responsibility. Often the problems school creates only stress and strain your relationship further, putting more pressure on you. Your son can easily sense why he was put in school. Instead of feeling loved and wanted, he will feel that he is a problem too great for you to handle. Mothers, this kind of heavenly, motherly teaching takes lots of time and devotion, but it pays big dividends. Never give up!

Besides, maintaining your homeschool plus keeping up with the needs, demands, and homework of public school is extra exhausting.

2. The school schedule would discipline him to being on time and preparing his homework ahead of time.
Fat chance. If you haven’t been able to teach and guide your son to be on time and prepare ahead of time, the problem will only get worse with going to school. In homeschool you can be patient and lead him along. If he attends public school, it will be a mad dash to get out the door and a scramble to complete homework every school day for the rest of the school year. Talk to mothers who have their children in public school and ask specifically about the morning get-off-to-school stuff. I think you will hear that it is a crazy race to get out the door and that family prayer, a nutritious breakfast, hugs and kisses and other important beginnings to the day are often shrugged off in the hurry of it all. As far as homework goes, I spent several years helping my sons get their homework done after school before we discovered homeschooling, so I have a bit of experience. I firmly believe that it is much easier to teach them a concept in homeschool than it is to try to plow through their homework with them, explaining information (with no idea of how the teacher presented it in class) at the time of day when parents are most exhausted.

3. The teacher would teach him to obey and follow directions.
It is not the school’s job to train up your child. Besides, even if the school could accomplish it, you wouldn’t like the job they did it. Their values may be different from your way of life. The job of training children is best done at home, at an early age. If your little guy is still struggling with obedience, you are the best teacher and home is the best setting. Whatever problems he has at home will just be magnified at school. He will be labeled a troublemaker or a difficult child. The fear of a new situation may make him behave for a few days, but then he will begin to struggle with the same behavior that caused problems in homeschool. Home is the place to learn obedience from a tireless, consistent, loving mother. (God grant us the strength!)

4. He would have other children to play with and tussle with, teaching him how to act and get teamwork-649498_1280along while diverting some of his boundless energy.
Although I think it is important to have other children to play with and interact with, don’t count on public school for enriching your child’s social life. For one thing, you can control the type of friends your son associates with while he does homeschool. But in public school, often children who are restless fit right in with children who have lower standards and less self-discipline. You won’t like the language, play or dress codes that your son will quickly pick up in school. Although it seems like it would drain his energy to roughhouse with other boys, generally it only makes them wilder. Constructive play such as rigorous sports or building a tree house can divert that restlessness. When my boys were young, they dug long tunnels and built teepees and forts. They dragged themselves in from their work/play exhausted. Boys thrive on heavy chore jobs such as carrying wood or hoeing the garden, masculine jobs that need a boy’s muscles and strength to complete. Hobbies such as tying knots, whittling or woodworking can also keep him busy and happy. These are productive ways to channel your son’s energy.

When my sons needed social life, I looked for an older boy who was strong in the gospel for my boys to look up to, someone who could teach them new skills. When my son Daniel was younger he learned to operate a CB radio, connect to the Internet and compose music on the computer from older boys who appreciated having an interested listener and learner. Mark learned to raise chickens and grow a garden from men in our church who enjoyed sharing their wisdom. True socialization comes from following in the footsteps of someone older and wiser who models just how to behave.

5. He would learn academics, which would be more than seems to be getting through in homeschool.
There are more important things to learn than academics, such as the fact that Jesus loves you and died for you, that you need to treat your baby brother gently, to speak respectfully to your parents, to brush and take care of your teeth and health in general, to be patient and attentive to the sick and aged, to remember to feed your pets and be kind to animals, to shovel your elderly neighbor’s sidewalk without pay, and other crucial basics to a happy life.

liquid-415425_1280In addition, consider how public school will teach your son academics. If much of the work will be listening to lectures or doing worksheets while sitting quietly in a desk, your child is likely destined to be a failure. Restlessness in homeschool can be accommodated by hands-on learning, frequent exercise breaks, and alternate ways of gaining knowledge such as watching a video, playing a math game, tutoring little ones or doing a science experiment rather than just reading and filling in worksheets.

Food and Discipline

peanut-butter-684021__180There are a few other things to consider when dealing with a restless little boy. Food allergies can wreck havoc with a child’s ability to sit still and pay attention. Although I feel cautious about “blaming” food for such trouble, I do think it is worth observing. My 6-year-old son Ammon (who is currently the restless little boy in our homeschool) would pay attention and write his letters fastidiously neatly on certain days. Other days, his letters and numbers would be sloppy and backwards. After several weeks of watching, I decided that he was eating peanut butter and whole wheat bread for breakfast on the mornings that school went poorly. Removing whole wheat (difficult to do!) and peanut butter from his diet resulted in a more peaceful homeschool for Ammon, although it didn’t solve the problem entirely.

Lack of discipline and hyperactivity look very similar in behavior. I often think strictness and consistency on the part of the parents of restless boys might be more effective than medicine in many cases. Boys particularly seem to push limits and struggle with learning self-control. Without proper discipline, most little boys are a whirlwind. If you think lack of self-discipline is causing the problem with your little boy, help him learn little by little to control himself. I like reading my children a story from Little House in the Big Woods (pg. 87, chapter entitled “Sundays”) about what self-control little pioneer children were expected to have, to the point of not even laughing on Sunday. Talking about exactly what is expected behavior in home school helps too. For example, when my little guy sits upside down on the couch (meaning head down and feet up) during school, I tell him that had he gone to public school when I was a child, my teacher Mr. Bowen would have hit him with a hickory stick for that trick. Today’s school teacher may have sent him to the principle or held him in from recess. I am not excessively strict on how they sit or what they say during homeschool, but I do feel you must keep order and children must learn not to burst out with whatever pops into their head to say. Judging on some children’s actions that I observe at church, perhaps I expect better behavior than the public schools do.

Remember that your mischievous little boy is first and foremost God’s child, and God loves and values him greatly. Pray for help! If you don’t know what to do next, He knows. Lay claim to His promise: “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you” (John 14:17–18). “If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.” If we pray with full energy of heart, He will grant us pure love for our restless little boy. God will change our irritation and annoyance to understanding and charity. He will plant in our mind a strategy, ideas to help this child grow and become that man that He designed him to be. Remember you are the key figure in this plan. Mother forms and shapes the child more than any other influence. Your approval and love is crucial. It is true that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.


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My Day at School

paperairplaneI am a behavior problem.

I never dreamed I would be until I decided to go to school with my 14 year old son, Ammon, who took a few classes at a local charter school along with our daily homeschooling. I was interested in a pilot program class that he was involved in, and the teacher welcomed parents into the classroom, so I decided to go and observe. When I first arrived, I was alert and interested. After 45 minutes, my mind was seriously wandering.

The students who were giving oral reports were ill-prepared and were giving erroneous information speaking in monotone with their eyes glued to their notes. Students were walking to the front of the class next to the reporting student to noisily sharpen their pencils seemingly oblivious to the disturbance they were making. I found myself asking Ammon questions, whispering to him. He finally told me that he couldn’t concentrate well with me talking to him!

Then I started to doodle. I raised my hand and answered questions in an effort to correct the misinformation and possibly change the subject to something more stimulating. I fished in my purse for something to eat. I fidgeted. I tried to engage students sitting by me by making little comments to them. I checked my watch continually. I even felt like making a paper airplane and sending it soaring. Okay, I was over the top. I was definitely being a behavior problem!

That was an “ah-ha!” moment for me! I’m a grandma and I have hopefully matured and gained greater self-control over the years. Here I was—I had only attended an hour of school—and I was going nut-sy. Having to sit still, listen, not talk, not leave my seat, be mentally bored and fatigued . . . well, it proved to be too great a challenge to me! I had to leave, after just one class. I couldn’t stand it! How do they do it all day long?

Children were meant to move and run and build things and use their big muscles. They were meant to have their eager minds fed and their curiosity satisfied. All that sitting, sitting, sitting gets extremely tedious! Dulls their minds, dulls their bodies. Think about what you are requiring your children to do when you consider sending them to school.

Nice reality check for me.


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I’ve just started homeschooling, and I’m having a horrible time with my 6 year old son today. I’ve said he had to do the lessons before going outside, but playing outside is all he wants . . . what do I do?


Easy answer: Go outside with him!

Six years old is pretty young to “do lessons before going out”. Why not make going outside part of the lessons? There is a lot to learn from the real world, and the lessons will really stick when he experiences them in real life, hands-on, rather than on a worksheet!

Start off with your devotional for sure. Every child needs that. Then do chores or breakfast or whatever. Now, when it is time to begin school, have a little “ceremony”. Flag salute, sing a song, check the weather and temperature and mark it on a graph. Put a sticker on the calendar and say the date. Have a prayer. Recite the memory verse or poem aloud together. That should all take about 15 minutes.

Take a little walk together and observe clouds or look for bugs or collect leaves, or etc. When you do go inside, put the leaves into big books to press, or look up the bug you found together on the internet, or read a library book on clouds, etc. Learn together and enjoy it! Plan ahead and do one science unit per week (insects, clouds, seeds, leaves, trees, etc.), getting library books and craft books and experiments lined up ahead of time, and make the most of being outside, observing nature and collecting things.

Don’t dump lots of paper work on him. He is young, and so much of learning can be done hands-on, even math. Boys need lots of big muscle action. I keep a chin-up bar in my school room doorway, and most of my children still swing on it while doing their memory work. You actually learn better when you are moving! I can vouch for that bit of research!

One child of mine had trouble doing bookwork, so I took his Saxon math lesson, and pulled out legos and crayons and toy cars, and taught the concepts that way. I remember one lesson that focused on learning the ordinal numbers (first, second, third, fourth, etc.). I got out toy cars and lined them up. I wrote numbers on little papers. I asked my son to line up the numbers in order. Then I asked him to park his cars, one on each number. Now, we practiced: what color is the fourth car? Which car is first? How many cars down the line is the 6th car? It only took 10 minutes for him to master to concept that he would have grueled over on a math worksheet.

My  reading program is all games. I created it because my young son just needed a fun way to learn.  Little boys can be restless creatures!

You don’t have to sit at a desk and push a pencil to learn. In fact, a 6-year-old probably cannot tolerate much of that. When it is time for history, read him real stories of history aloud, with lots of pictures. Make some hands-on craft, like building a little fort out of twigs, or popsicle sticks. Look in my catalog or in my curriculum guide (free online) for ideas and resources. There are lots of great hands-on craft idea books. Add historical videos to your list of fun things to do.

I am not saying that children don’t have to do their “lessons”. I am just saying, “make it fun!”. Let him go outside, and teach him all about the marvelous world. Do what you can to help him realize that learning is deliciously fun.


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My very sweet grandbabies: Abigial and Rebekah and their new baby brother Isaac

My very sweet grandbabies: Abigial and Rebekah and their new baby brother Isaac


I am a mother of a 1, 4, and 6 year old. I tried homeschooling this year with the attitude it is “just kindergarten” and my daughter is not enjoying it, I am not enjoying it, my son who is 4 drives me crazy he doesn’t listen to anything I say, so it seems. My daughter wants to go to the school her neighbor friend goes to but something in me likes the idea of homeschooling. I am so confused. My husband supports me in my decision, but I wish someone would just tell me what to do and have a peace about it! That is my big thing, I want to feel peace. Can you help?


How do you know homeschooling is for you? God whispers it in your heart as the best thing you could do for your children, and you can’t seem to shake the idea. It is quite one thing to get the inspiration to homeschool, and quite another to have the skills to do a good job at it. It is the same with mothering. It is quite one thing to feel thrilled at the idea of having a baby, and quite another thing to know how to be a good mother.

But we are here to learn! And the learning process is a bumpy road! Some homeschooling days are horrible, some are heavenly, and most are somewhere in between, with continual gradual improvement. The goal, of course, with homeschooling (or mothering) is to learn what works, how to make it enjoyable, how to accomplish what you set out to do, and to become more Christlike day by day. Just because you and your children are not enjoying homeschooling does not mean it is not right for you–it only means that you are still learning how to teach, and how to parent. Whether you homeschool or not, your 4-year-old son will have to learn how to listen to you and honor you, if you want to raise him uprightly. What a tremendous blessing you have in your supportive husband! Many, many moms I know yearn for that blessing!

Peace is what you are seeking, and I am sure you will find it. If God has inspired you to homeschool, then peace in your own heart will come to you as you follow that prompting. Peace in your homeschool will come as you master the techniques of teaching, and parenting--and your children begin to enjoy learning, and love having you as their teacher. There is a very sharp learning curve when you begin homeschooling (or parenting). Read all you can from trusted sources, and learn all you can from experienced homeschool mothers you admire. Focus on creating joy, rather than perfectionism in academics. As your homeschool becomes a joyful place, no school can compete with it. Your children will prefer being in homeschool, and being in your company.

Where to start? Look to fulfill the needs of your students. What do children 4 and 6 years old need? Their mother’s love, smiles, tenderness, playfulness, kind words and time together. Knowledge about God and how to please Him. Guidance in how to behave in various situations and get along with others. Introduction to the wonderful world around them. Basic literacy skills: to read and write and do simple math. Hands-on learning projects. To learn to love books deeply by being read to. To feel accomplishment. Other children with good standards to play with. (As for your 1-year-old, we all know what they want and need: Mom!).

First of all, nobody wants to go to something boring. Your school needs to be enticing and fun. I start my school (any time of year you want to “begin”) by taking my children on a school shopping trip. $10 will buy crayons, markers, scissors, glue stick, a pencil box, 3 ring notebook, etc. Let them choose the color of their pencil box and the type of markers, etc. That is a very small investment to create excitement and thrill a child!

lizard-22258_1280If you have the funds, a new outfit or shirt for school gives them the “new school clothes” that all their neighbors will be wearing. Designate one area in your home as your “school room”, even if it is the kitchen table and adjacent wall with “cinderblock and boards” bookcase. Create a bulletin board area (even just a wall to stick things on) and decorate it with some construction paper cut outs or a border from a school supply store. Put your children’s pictures up there, and eventually the projects they do, to display. Put a weather chart so you can graph the weather, and a calendar so you can put a sticker on each new school day and count days until the next field trip or birthday or event. Take a trip to the library and get books on the subject you intend to teach that week and put them on your bookshelf, accessible to the children. Tell them they are for reading at school. If you are studying lizards, for example, print off a few pictures off the internet to post on your bulletin board or set up a little display with some toy lizards lounging on rocks. None of this takes very much time, but you’ll have your children begging to start school!

Keep school short and sweet. Children age 4 and 6 years old need a few hours of school, no more. Have your opening exercises by doing some jumping jacks, pledging the flag, singing a song together, and having a prayer. Read aloud to them from an exciting storybook. Do some phonics and reading, math and writing in their school journals. Do your Subject of the Day together, such as Science by reading to them from those library books and looking at pictures together and doing some hands-on things. Don’t forget Art—every child’s favorite.

School’s out, but there are chores, and service projects and errands and assignments for helping cook dinner, and time to play with other children (this social contact is very important). Life is happy and they are learning and growing and you will feel peace. You’ll know that homeschooling is definitely for your family!


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