Plain of View

    By Shilo Bartlett

IMG_0065Our children as a whole are incredible creations. They have minds that were meant to be shaped and molded from a very young age into what they will eventually become as adults. I personally haven’t been a mom for an incredibly long amount of time (11 years to be exact), but I have observed enough to know that it is much better in the long run to encourage that shaping and molding than to push against it.

I say that because we are in a phase right now with our children where we are greatly appreciating our decision to homeschool them with the Garden School as our supplement. Our kids are shaping and molding every day, and we are watching this happen rather than observing it happen from a distance. The children imitate behaviors they see every day, and we are glad that we can have them watch us and then help change what needs to be changed. We understand that days are not to be thrown away; that every moment needs to be grasped, and that the little things in life matter very, very much.

I have had moments lately with my children where they have challenged me greatly in the area of discipline. They have chores every day that must be taken care of, and then their school needs to be attended to. And we have come to an agreement that they have to be somewhat self-motivated, as I am only one person, not five, and cannot be constantly following their little hands everywhere to pick up after them. But along the way, we have found a very nice key to life… something I have known, and yet hadn’t fully grasped until recently. Let me share a short story to illustrate:

We as a family were at the Sukkot festival at the school a few weeks back, going from booth to booth and enjoying the crafts. At one particular booth, I sat down with my girls on the grass to help them. A little one-year-old girl from another family came alongside us and started watching what we were doing. Pretty soon, we had her saying the words and touching the craft too. We moved to the next booth, and the same thing happened. She was right there beside us on the grass, watching attentively and trying to touch and say what we were doing. Now, the interesting thing is, the minute that we stood up (i.e., were above her plain of view), she would wander away and find something else that she could touch and feel. But the minute we were back down on the grass, she was right there.

Why is this important? Well, my kids and I get along much better when I am living in what I like to call “their plain of view.” Just like the little girl on the grass, she does not see what you see, or hear what you hear. She has her own little world going on at her level every day! Same thing applies to my kids. When I am on their “level,” I see things I would have never seen, hear things I would never have heard if I was just living in “my world.” My children are teaching me every day about all the new amazing discoveries they make, just by being them!

Now the neat part about this is that when applied to our school at home, this principle becomes (and has become), an integral part of how I interact with them. When school needs to be done, I take into account what they have been doing, what they are doing currently, and then how best to apply that to their learning habits. As a practical tool, it has meant the world to us.

I hope that you have enjoyed this little excursion into our world!

How do you apply your child’s learning into your school plan every day? Let me know in the comments–I would love to hear your thoughts!

____________________

Shilo_BShilo Bartlett is a super organized, over reaching, strong-willed mother of three. She loves having the hands-on time with her kids that homeschooling and The Garden School have allowed her. She grew up in the Colorado River Valley, and went to public school until 6th grade. Her mother homeschooled her and her three siblings through high school, and then she attended CMC graduating with a degree in Applied Science in the Veterinary Field. She has always read voraciously, and written throughout her life for many publications. Her family is her passion. Her driving motivation is to encourage a love of learning.

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The Tiger in the Boat

lifeofpi[1]

    By Monica Cappelli

The book The Life of Pi was amazing, fearful, thrilling and allegorical.

As I recently considered re-reading it, the idea for the following post occurred to me.

Energetic, graceful, nurturing, and fun on good days. Heartbreaking, rife with error, and full of regret on other days. My “Life as a Parent” is full of mountains, valleys, triumphs, and mistakes. These are the tiger’s contrasting stripes – faith and doubt, courage and fear, triumph and failure. The tiger is my life in this flesh.

How does one know if the sum total of all your years of parenting – your life poured out on behalf of beautiful, happy, strong-willed, challenging, flawed, adorable little persons (gifts!) – will amount to good in either your lifetime or in future generations?

Sometimes I am able to: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4, NIV.)

And for those other times: “Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. . .” (Psalm 19:12-13.)

What contrast!

Oh yes, we are temporal parents. Yet our God, the eternal Father, has a plan and a way that transcends our earthly triumphs and depressions. In that knowledge lies faith, encouragement, and strength – the life boat that carries us (despite our doubts and foibles), through the sometimes cruel waters of life.

Parenting with this perspective leads me to think: As a parent do I want to be remembered as a slave to my own stubbornness and sinful habits? Or on “those days” will I be able to submit to God’s calling on me and humble my heart in apology, then offer life-giving love and warmth to my family, coupled with sincere prayer to God for forgiveness, healing, and restoration?

The latter choice, trusting my Father, (e.g., climbing out of the storm-tossed sea into the lifeboat) is my only option for assurance and peace, given my faith. “Peace. Be still.”

The question is not whether I’m a perfect parent – oh my, I most certainly am not (I’m a tiger: striped with conflicting hues of flesh and spirit)- but rather, do I model faith, hope, love and forgiveness even after I make one of my numerous and inevitable mistakes?

I am glad (very glad!) that our sovereign God is perfectly perfect: loving, parental, concerned, protective, involved, just, strong, forgiving, generous, and completely tender-hearted toward me.

My job as a parent is to keep my lifeboat watertight and afloat – whether the “tiger” is having a good day or not.

Have you seen or read The Life of Pi? What did you think of it?

    ______________________

    Monica Cappelli is a wife and the mother of four wonderful children. Over the years her family has been blessed to experience home, public, private, and parochial schooling. This has given Monica an appreciation for the strengths and challenges of the educational choices available to families. A successful experience is possible in any of these situations with the support of community and prayerful, encouraging parents. Monica strongly believes that parental academic expectations and “leadership by example” in the areas of competence, autonomy, and service set the stage for a young person’s entrance into a successful, joyful, and productive adulthood.

Selling Your Kids

    By Patrick Koschak

sales-success1[1]Sales training of all kinds will tell you that sales is not about giving your prospective client your carefully prepared spiel. It is not about lecturing them on your product or service. It is not about demanding a sale every time you see them. This is how a lot of “salespeople” approach the selling process, but the fact is most salespeople are not very good at their jobs.

When I started out in sales, I have to admit I was not very good at it. I did a lot of those things I am criticizing now. I wanted to bowl over my prospects with impeccable logic, and if I could have, I would have dove over their desk and throttled them until they gave me the sale I was chasing. I was overly aggressive, and nearly bulldozed some clients into giving me an order. Looking back, some of them probably gave me orders just to get me out of their offices.

The irony is that the lessons we learn usually apply to more than just one part of our lives, don’t they? Yeah, life is kind of integrated that way. For instance, I found that a lot of sales concepts readily applied themselves to being a parent. Sales are actually about connecting with people, and the best sales are about building relationships. A parent is “selling” their kids on something every day, aren’t they?

Let me throw a couple of these “sales rules” past you and see what you think.

“Always get a customer talking about themselves.”

The idea is to express interest in them as human beings and to encourage them to open up. You don’t try to pry it out of them, but you do want to engage them where they are. You get a person to begin talking about something they enjoy, and before you know it, an hour has passed. They get enthused and maybe even excited.

The hard part of doing this requires you to “let go of the reins” in a conversation and let your customer take the lead. With your kids, this means you have to refrain from always telling them about your opinions or what you like to do. Maybe you will have to engage them in a chat over a video game they enjoy, or a new craft project, or something that you don’t find very interesting at first. I would bet that you will actually begin to catch their excitement if you give it a chance.

“Ask a lot of questions and listen.”

This is related to the above since sometimes you have to prime the pump for more open conversation. Questions are how you can get them to that point so you can let go of those reins. This works the best when you are not trying to follow a particular agenda apart from just getting to know them. If you are, it will most likely dissolve into an interrogation. Do not feel that you have to come to some kind of resolution with every question. Do not answer your own questions.

“Show a client you are interested in their success, not just your own.”

father_daughter_telescope[1]You will really struggle with this one if you have not done the previous two. The reason is that if you are not listening or encouraging their open interaction with you, you will most likely just impose your own desires, hobbies, or definitions of success onto your kids without knowing it. You will try to mold an idol in your own image, and not necessarily into what God has chosen for them.

Being captivated by God’s plan for them might mean helping them to pursue a calling that you yourself do not enjoy or honor. You might be helping to build up a painter, engineer, banker, video game designer, author, homemaker, professor, graphic artist, athlete, politician, preacher, or even a salesperson. The point is to honestly show your kids that you are sold out for their dreams and not yours.

“Always consider the long-term.”

Are you in it for the quick sale? Is it all about getting them to obey right now? Do you think your job is done when they turn 18 or when they are done with college or when they get married? Where have you drawn your finish line? When are you aiming for?

All of our interactions with our kids should be with eternity in mind. Just like the best sales relationships are long-term, our parental relationships should be life-long endeavors between friends. If we are too preoccupied with today, and lose track of the long tomorrow, it is more likely this relationship will not be very fruitful.

So tell me; when was the last time you tried to sell your kids?

    __________________

    Patrick K.Patrick Koschak has enjoyed more than 15 years of marriage with his high school sweetheart, Rachael, and they share three children, ages 9-13. Patrick studied Biblical Studies and Greek at Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon.

    Mr. Koschak has been teaching Humanities since 2008 at the Garden School, where he is affectionately known as “Mr. K.” Mr. K’s teaching is occasionally unorthodox, often cerebral, but always heartfelt.

    “Teaching has been one of the deep joys of my life. I am deeply humbled by the opportunity to influence and inspire these young leaders. I am very blessed.” – Mr. K

My Brother, My Son

    By Patrick Koschak

journey-1[1]Is my son actually my brother? Is my daughter my sister?

No, I don’t live in a shotgun shack in the Appalachians with my wife and the hunting dogs. This is a real question that has been stuck in my craw for some time. Allow me to explain.

Since I began the journey of parenthood over 13 years ago, my attitude about parenting has evolved. When my offspring were very small, I tended to consider them much like pets. They made strange noises, broke things, and just generally needed the basics of discipline to mold their behavior into something more “human-like.” As they grew out of this stage and gained more forms of intelligible expression, I began to think of them more as carbon copies of my wife and I. They parroted back much of what we said, and I saw more of myself or their mother in their actions and words.

The carbon copy stage passed, and my kids just kept growing. I have tried not feeding them, but their pant legs and sleeves just keep getting shorter. Their personalities are growing as strong as their abilities to express them. My kids are more and more distinct from their parents with each passing day. Because their hearts and dreams are still so tender, I find myself acting a lot more like a cheerleader now, encouraging them in their own interests and talents.

I think I can see the next evolutionary stage, and this stage is where I wanted to focus. This phase is the brother/sister thing I was alluding to above. Follow with me here.

The Scriptures tell me that I have a Heavenly Father. I am a new spiritual creation and this relationship with Him is at least equal to, and in many ways greater than, my biological relations. It’s not spiritual incest; it is a relational redefinition. As my children grow in body and faith, they have the same Father in Heaven. They are as much the Father’s as I am. They are my siblings in Christ. I feel this is especially impactful as they journey through their teen years with me. Let me offer a picture of what this “siblings” relationship looks like to me.

As they begin to wrestle with their burgeoning adulthood in earnest, I am not burdened trying to act like I have all the answers. I am freed from feeling that I must always be “above” them somehow. They have transitioned from seeming like possessions, to my parental responsibility, to disciples, to friends.

I can talk to them as a fellow traveler on the Way. I can talk about my failures, past and present. I can tell them what I learned about God’s grace in those times. I can share the things I love with them, and learn to enjoy the things they love.

Now, all of this is not to say that all of parenting completely evolves into being friends. I am not advocating that parental responsibility dissolves into being pals who wear the same clothes and play the same video games every day. Frankly, that is lame. Every child needs a parent, no matter what age.

What I am offering is another facet of the relationship I hope develops between parents and their teenage adults. As adulthood descends on us, adult thoughts and concerns come with it. Parents know this, but don’t always recognize it in their kids or know how to assuage it. I hope that as we interact with our brothers and sisters in Christ (those that are our offspring), these interactions will bring more understanding as equals.

I think Dad would approve.

What are you looking forward to as your own fellow travelers begin to journey into adulthood?

    ________________________

    Patrick K.Patrick Koschak has enjoyed more than 15 years of marriage with his high school sweetheart, Rachael, and they share three children, ages 9-13. Patrick studied Biblical Studies and Greek at Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon.

    Mr. Koschak has been teaching Humanities since 2008 at the Garden School, where he is affectionately known as “Mr. K.” Mr. K’s teaching is occasionally unorthodox, often cerebral, but always heartfelt.

    “Teaching has been one of the deep joys of my life. I am deeply humbled by the opportunity to influence and inspire these young leaders. I am very blessed.” – Mr. K

Teenage Adults

    By Patrick Koschak

TeenagersTeenage men. Teenage women.

Do these phrases sound a little funny to you?

I like these phrases.

I like them because I coined them.

I like them so much, I’m getting shirts made.

Look for them in stores. They’re going to be huge.

What? You don’t think these will catch on? Why not? Because teenagers aren’t men and women yet? Really?

Okay. I’ll grant you that until they are eighteen, they are not legally considered adults. Sure. However, is legal adult status to be confused with being a man or a woman? Geez, I hope not.

Why can’t we call these young people men and women?

Before you decide I am way off the deep end (I probably am) and you dismiss this article (please don’t), allow me to explain. I am not aiming for widespread cultural change (that would be cool though.) I am asking you, individually, to consider how you look at teenaged people. How are you helping them to see themselves as men and women?

These questions are most important for parents of teenaged offspring, and that is who I am aiming at with most of this. However, all of us interact with teenaged people, so I hope this would be important to those of you without teens, as well. After all, it takes a village to raise a child… or a Viking to raze a village… or something like that… I digress.

How do you see teenaged people? Are they just awkward, overgrown kids? Are they hopelessly, excusably childish? Is it okay that they contribute little to those around them? Are you supposed to just kind of put up with them until they (hopefully) move out? Be honest.

The way I see it is that the end informs that beginning. In other words, the goal we have in mind as parents will determine the way we treat teenagers. My thinking is that we are in the business of producing successful adults-not just tolerating teens. They are not boys and girls, but young men and women capable of making adult choices and learning adult responsibility. No, seriously… they really can.

My observation has been that most parents don’t expect enough from their teenaged progeny. I suspect a part of this problem is the thinking that they are not ready to make adult choices. They are still kids, and not really men and women yet. The fact is that they will act like children as long as we allow them to.

teen-girl-driver[1]The danger here is to mistake “wishing they would act like adults” with actually expecting them to function as adults. The former is hollow frustration, the latter takes a lot of consistent effort. The former is common among parents, while the latter might seem strange. But remember: we are trying to train men and women to handle adult responsibilities.

Let me offer a few examples.

Money. An awful lot of adult life has to do with financial responsibilities. When you consider how to teach teenage adults, do you give them money, or do they earn what they receive? Kids get an allowance, while adults earn a wage.

As a general rule, give them nothing if they can earn it for themselves. This goes for stylish clothes, a cell phone, a car, a laptop, or even college. This might sound harsh or unrealistic at first. But let them own the challenge and grow from their successes or failures. You might be surprised!

Earning and spending money is only half the battle, though. Knowing how to do so responsibly is another facet of being an adult. Hold them accountable for using their car, laptop, or cell phone responsibly. Help them with a budget. Just like any other adult privilege, these can be revoked or lost if abused.

My experience is that if you talk to teenage men and women as if they are adults, and if you offer them adult challenges, they will grow into the role. If they are allowed to take responsibility for their own lives, they will. Isn’t this ultimately what parents want to see for their children? Absolutely!

On the other hand, if they are consistently given that which they have not earned, their esteem and self-confidence will be stifled. If they are allowed to hide behind flimsy excuses, they will learn to avoid personal responsibility. Adulthood will continue to fit them like an ill-tailored suit. This is the kid who never moves out of mom and dad’s basement. (Eek!)

So… back to the question… why can’t we call these young people men and women? How do we perceive them and their abilities? Who do we want our teenagers to be in ten years? In twenty?

Think about it.

I’ve got shirts to make.

    ___________

Patrick K.Patrick Koschak has enjoyed more than 15 years of marriage with his high school sweetheart, Rachael, and they share three children, ages 9-13. Patrick studied Biblical Studies and Greek at Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon.

Mr. Koschak has been teaching Humanities since 2008 at the Garden School, where he is affectionately known as “Mr. K.” Mr. K’s teaching is occasionally unorthodox, often cerebral, but always heartfelt.

“Teaching has been one of the deep joys of my life. I am deeply humbled by the opportunity to influence and inspire these young leaders. I am very blessed.” – Mr. K

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Stages

    By Shilo Bartlett

Stages.

Our children go through so many of these within a period of days, months, weeks, and years. Sometimes it can even feel like hours that they go through one stage before they are on to the next! These stages are punctuated by phrases or terms like the “terrible two’s,” or “fabulous fives.”

BakingMy family is currently in “The Growing Stage”-the one where they eat everything in sight. This particular stage means a lot of grocery store trips, which I am not overly fond of.

Just a few days ago I caught myself complaining about it all: the continual grocery store runs, the endless meal-making, and the demand to always keep the cabinets fully stocked. I was upset that I couldn’t keep up with the constant eating. And then it dawned on me…I remember when my kids were two, and three, and four, and I found myself wishing for some of those stages back. I thought about how I should have appreciated that part of their life while it was still here.

The realization gave me a moment to consciously remind myself that this is a time in my children’s life I should embrace. A chance to try to find the fun within the stage, and give them a reason to learn….just like all the other times in our lives that we have the opportunity to teach our children.

You see, the love of learning is not limited by books, or pens, or a classroom. All our lives we are learning new things, whether it’s new ways of seeing things, new approaches to obstacles, or new concepts and skills. The beauty comes not from viewing a stage my children go through as a thing I must “get through,” but as the gift of a teachable moment. (And many times this way of looking at things is more for me than it is for the kids!)

With this in mind, in addition to the usual I also recently enlisted my children’s assistance in the kitchen. I now have “helpers” in the grocery aisles. They help me decide on healthy snacks for school, menus for the week, and on what we need to buy for the house. They then help prepare the food at home with things like setting the table, washing the dishes, and taking out the trash.

I cannot say that this always goes smoothly or that it doesn’t have its challenges. Real and worthwhile education always has its bumps. However, I can say that the precious bonding time that has come from this stage has value far beyond today’s hungry stomach.

Let’s Chat: How do you implement teaching into the stages of your children’s lives?
________

    Shilo_BShilo Bartlett is a super organized, over reaching, strong-willed mother of three. She loves having the hands-on time with her kids that homeschooling and The Garden School have allowed her. She grew up in the Colorado River Valley, and went to public school until 6th grade. Her mother homeschooled her and her three siblings through high school, and then she attended CMC graduating with a degree in Applied Science in the Veterinary Field. She has always read voraciously, and written throughout her life for many publications. Her family is her passion. Her driving motivation is to encourage a love of learning.