When my daughter Victoria was five or six years old, I purchased a Bible Trivia game that I thought we would have fun playing together as a family. One afternoon as I sat reading questions from the cards to the children, I came across one that said, “In Chapter 5 of the Book of Daniel, whose hand wrote on the wall?” Victoria’s eyes widened, and she instantly replied, “It wasn’t mine!”
This incident clearly illustrates the struggle we had in our home with people writing and drawing on the walls.It seemed that no matter how much I lectured/punished the graffiti artists, they continued to use the walls as their canvases. I found crayon pictures and scribbles on the walls of the playroom, inside the bedroom closets and even inside dresser drawers.It did not matter that we kept a huge supply of drawing paper at all times.There was just no substitute for a freshly painted/washed wall.
Not long ago I was moving a beautiful bedside table that John and I had purchased in 1965 into our guest bedroom.It has an antique olive finish and is in perfect condition.I was congratulating myself that it had survived all of those years and all of those children and had emerged in like-new condition when I opened the top drawer. To my horror, the bottoms and sides of both drawers were covered with crayon scribbles in various shades of red, green, black, and blue!
Long after my crayon-on-the-walls days were history, an exciting new invention emerged—the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.By using it I was able to remove every trace of crayon from the wood interiors of the drawers, and now my bedside table really is like new. The experience, however, reminded me that keeping up with my preschoolers was a full-time job.
I was also reminded that my preschoolers played a vital role in the success of our homeschool. Their cooperation was critical, and in order to get that cooperation I employed a number of strategies that made it apparent to them that I not only loved them, I respected them.
I tried always to put myself in their places and imagine how I would feel if I were they. Consequently, I learned to think of them not only as children who needed to be taught and corrected but also as people who were just as deserving of my respect as the adults in my life.
For instance, I never said to my preschoolers, “We are busy; leave us alone, and do not interrupt us.” That is just rude, and nobody wants to be treated that way.
Imagine that one day you go to a friend’s house for an impromptu visit. She opens the door, looks at you, and frowns. Just before she slams the door in your face she says, “I’m talking to someone else. Don’t bother us. We’re busy.”
You would be hurt and embarrassed, and you would be so offended that you would probably never go to her house again. Yet, this is the way we sometimes treat our children. We react to them as if they are nuisances who do not deserve to be treated with the same respect we show adults.
Always keep the Golden Rule in mind when dealing with your children. Treat even the youngest member of your family with the respect and kindness you want others to show you. Children have the same emotions that you have. They feel the same hurt, anger, and humiliation as adults. Treat them with the respect that you demand they give you. Help them to feel included rather than excluded.
Your preschoolers are vitally important to the success of your homeschool. Every day let them know that you are counting on them. Tell them that you are proud of them for behaving so well; tell them that you appreciate their contributions. Never be afraid to tell them that their good behavior makes your homeschool possible. They will be proud of themselves for having played such an important role.
About once a month in the late afternoon I called all the children together.While everyone was present, I thanked each of them individually for something specific that he or she had done that month that had been a special help to me. For the very little children, their contribution was often that they had made me laugh or had made me feel loved, but when I listed their contributions, they felt just as special as the older children. It was a little thing, but I wanted them to know that I appreciated their contributions. It is a practice that I highly recommend to all homeschooling mothers.
Joyce Swann is a nationally-known author and speaker. Her own story of teaching her ten children from the first grade through master’s degrees before their seventeenth birthdays is retold in her book, Looking Backward: My Twenty-Five Years as a Homeschooling Mother Her newest novel, The Warrior, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information visit her website at http://www.frontier2000.net/ or like her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/frontier2000mediagroup