What to do with Toddlers: Try D.E.S.I.R.E!

baby while making his first steps

baby while making his first steps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Note: You will find this pirated on several other places on the Internet. I decided to steal it back.

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OK, it has finally hit you:  Suddenly you understand why that other home school mom used to be so self-doubting … She had a toddler in her home.

Now, your turn has come and, whew, can it be a challenge! You prepared for receiving that new baby blessing during the school year, didn’t you?  No one told you what to do with the toddler that would result, did they?

My very first toddler to home school is now 30 years old.  She led the way for two brothers to follow in her footsteps.  Yes, I have survived having three toddlers in my school!  The youngest is now 24 and I am still mostly sane.  I hope I can share a few tricks here that will be helpful to you.

You probably can guess that the acronym D.E.S.I.R.E. stands for six choices of tactics you can take with your toddler. The word helps you to remember, while “on-the-run”, what ideas you have not tried yet.  Happily, I can say that with this plan, you can master the fine art of home schooling with a toddler.

D is for Discipline.  Discipline is another way of saying, “consistently train by habit and example.”  You must discipline your toddler.  Many people do not know about this idea, but it is crucial to your success with this child, for his whole life. If you do not discipline your toddler now, you probably never will be able to manage this child and he will suffer all his life for your wrong choice.  Actually, your whole family will suffer.

There are many ideas floating around about how to discipline, but I strongly urge using the Bible way, which is the rod.  How to use the rod would make an entire article in itself, but there are many good resources to help you obey God about this, already in print.

You can and you must discipline (train) them to maintain quiet during teaching, oral reading, testing, study, dictation, etc.  Consider “quiet” to be the home school subject the toddler must learn. (Of course, it will be easier to train the little ones to do right if you are acting that way yourself.)

E is for Entertain.  This is playing school. I always loved this part.  My toddlers did, too.  Sometimes my first graders even looked longingly at our inventions!  I loved giving my toddlers blunt scissors to cut the corners off 3×5 note cards. They learned how to cut and how to identify a triangle.  Then we pasted the triangles to another paper to make flowers, boats, and other “pretty pictures for Daddy.”  This supervised play, they thought was school; they were right.  They learned other manual dexterity tasks by working with homemade play dough, real cookie dough, extra large crayons, educational toys, chenille stems, and my favorite, the chalkboard. The reason I prefer chalk (white only) so much is that no matter if they taste it, step on it, put it through the laundry, or use it on the walls, it is no problem.

S is for Seclude. Face it, sometimes they need to stay in their own place.  That is when a playpen, screened porch, high chair or other restraining device can come in handy.  Never leave them unattended in these places; stock them with toys, too.  Do not make being restrained a punishment (if he needs the rod, do not substitute rejection!) but do make it a choice, such as, “You will stop crumbling sister’s papers, or you will play in the playpen for a while–which do you want to do?”  This is especially important during times that would be potentially dangerous for him, such as science experiments or baseball games.  If you can anticipate the need, you can emphasize the fun aspect of it:  “Here, let’s sit in the high chair so you can see brother’s ice cube melt and boil!”

I is for Include.  Every toddler can learn to mimic and enjoy many of your activities.  This goes for Bible memorization, singing, PE, reading, phonics drill, outdoor housework, educational videos, and foreign language.  Although my first home school toddler could not recite the entire book of James as her brothers were memorizing it, she could insert the next word, whenever we stopped.  She received this by osmosis.  One of my toddlers learned to read via the signed alphabet.  His siblings were learning it and he knew what the signs meant.  If we signed c-a-t to him, he could think momentarily and say “cat”–he actually sounded out signed letters into spoken words.  At age three.  While he was a verbal child, he also showed the benefits of being included.  You can include a toddler, too, by writing his name on your chore chart so he can receive stars like everyone else.

R is for Relish.  Leave well enough alone, let sleeping babes lie, and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”!  Soak in those moments when this toddler is content just to exist. If he has helped himself to math manipulatives and lined them up all over the floor like a train track, unless it is forbidden behavior, do not scold, or even speak, or even breathe.  He is OK.  Let it be. If he is contentedly looking at the science book you needed to use right now, change gears and let him look.  If he has fallen asleep in Daddy’s chair, tiptoe around him; do not disturb him so you can use the chair for an oral reading lesson.  Also be sure not to miss the delightful memories of this little one’s life; keep your camera just as ready for him as ever, home school or not.

E is for Endure. There it is, the teeth-gritting-with-a-smile part. This darling is a part of your family, after all. He will not be tiny forever, either.  If you can find a place for him on your lap, sharing your chair, helping you sweep, or even carrying real school papers to siblings, he will be learning how to function as an older, usable person.  The busier you can entice him to stay, the longer you can endure helping him learn how to help, the better for him.  Even if he really is in the way, even if you could do it faster yourself, even if the paper gets droolies on it…you are making progress toward civilizing the little one and you should do so, and with a smile.

There you have it: the way I survived three toddlers in a row.  It was not easy, but I can say we usually completed all our work and we usually stayed peaceable.  Why not try DESIRE!

What would your mother do? Share.

What can one mom even do to make a difference?

We moms need to know this.

Here’s the next part of a short series about all the huge little things moms do. It’s not a contest, but let’s all tell about our memories of those little things that mean so much, that only moms know how to do best. <3

Sharing Fish

Sharing Fish (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My mom shared. The sixth child of a woman whose husband died young during the Great Depression, my mom knew exactly how it felt to be in need. One of her favorite sayings was, “We might need that someday.” Considering the entire course of her life, that was exactly true.

Her other saying was, “The poor people in (insert your favorite country, here) would kill to get what you’ve got.” Also probably true, more than we’d like to realize.

Given her context, what else could my mom do but share, and by example, teach her children to share.

And so it was that while she always made her children clothing, she also spent some time on a church ladies’ project of making clothing for poverty-stricken people elsewhere. In fact, the first time she ever took on the task of making a man’s long-sleeved shirt, it was for a man she’d never met in Cambodia, a country she’d never heard of.

And when a vacationing family had a wreck near our town and lost the dad, spending time in the hospital in our town, she took me shopping for the poor children who’d lost their dad. And arranged for a friend to take them in, since they were not really injured, and could enjoy his horses and pleasant estate, as a sort of therapy, until the mother could arrange their affairs.

And if there was not enough dessert to go around, my mom always pretended she was full.

What did your mom share with others? Think hard–if she was modest about it, you might have to examine clues to realize it…

 

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We Are Not Alone

Dr. Max Planck

Dr. Max Planck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What would it be like to be the mother of one of the world’s greatest thinkers?

First, you live an uneventful life in pre-Nazi Germany, married to Herman, a mattress salesman. You, Pauline, stay busy setting up household repeatedly, as your husband’s businesses often change. He settles into electrochemical manufacturing and you move again, after your son is born.

Nothing about this birth or your heritage foreshadows your son’s greatness. In fact, your family worries that he might be slow-witted. When his sister, born two years later, passes him in speech skills, you join the others’ alarm.

Eventually he talks, hesitantly, and you learn to accept life with an odd child who has his own timetable. During the “why” stage of development, one of his favorite questions is, “Why do we hurry?” He does everything slowly and people notice.

When his Uncle Jake brings your son a compass to entertain him during a childhood illness, it fills him with questions, even keeping him—and you—awake at night pondering invisible forces. He is five and admires all gadgets, seeming to have inherited his daddy’s skills, and enjoys jigsaw puzzles, mechanical toys, and card towers. You decide to trust his slowness does not come from low intelligence.

At age six, he receives beginner violin lessons, a gift that grows into a comfort and joy for him, a relief valve, and an avenue for the flow of ideas that he uses for the rest of his life.

You and your husband, secular Jews, place your son in a Catholic private grade school. You discover he dislikes organized schooling very much, and would rather spend time writing songs for his violin, or building models and mechanical contraptions.

His teachers consider him a difficult student. He questions the necessity of having teachers, at all, preferring the time he spends at home learning from his daddy’s mechanical and engineering friends.

He enters Germany’s collective school system at age ten and chafes within the system. Feeling motivated only by fear or force, he adopts distrust for authority in this unhappy place. His challenge of the status quo grows deeper. His grades are unimpressive.

To lure your son into learning, your husband’s friend, Max, tries high level textbooks, complete with weekly assignments. At last, the dormant intellectual pathways open and his rightful education begins, at home, in his spare time, after school.

Your son devours Euclid’s Elements and dubs it “that holy little geometry book.” He actually reads, understands, and enjoys the works of Kant. How your heart must love the old friend for making such improvements in your precious firstborn! This new stimulus ushers in a deeply religious time of your son’s life. He expresses himself by composing and playing on his violin, little songs of worship to God.

It was bound to happen—your husband’s business fails, due to the advancement of electrical technology. You must move again, this time to Italy, and with great apprehension, you leave your son behind to finish his education.

He is miserable, separated from his beloved family, fearing military enlistment, and dreading the environment of collective school, where teachers believe he will not amount to anything. He fills the days recalling textbooks borrowed from his friends and meditating on what frozen light would look like. At this time, he writes his first scientific paper on magnetism.

Finally, he cannot bear his life in Germany. At age fifteen, he flees to join his family abroad.

How shocked you are to see him on your doorstep, a dropout and draft evader! Your worries increase until he tests high enough in math and physics to gain admission to a Swiss university. His years of university study are a joy mixed with the old school troubles. Some of the brightest minds on earth are his music, hiking, and sailing friends. Because of cutting class to study on his own in his apartment, though, he finds few friends among the faculty.

One even prevents his employment after graduation.

Your husband is bankrupt. Your son has a reputation as unemployable. Anti-Semitism is mounting.

Finally, your son finds a small job that leaves him time to analyze his favorite topic—light. He publishes four papers on such subjects as the existence of atoms, and submits his doctoral paper. At first, the world ignores your son, but after one famous physicist notices him, the invitations to lecture come, and he rises to popularity.

He dreams of receiving a Nobel Prize.

Now famous, he suffers a painful blow—one of his colleagues steals his newest discoveries and receives credit for publishing them. This action tests his long-held pacifist beliefs, but he overcomes his bitterness.

The following years are a parade of your son’s greatness in the world. He moves to the United States to escape Hitler. Indeed, he and some of his scientist friends are on Hitler’s most-wanted list and his German publications are burned as contemptible “Jewish physics”.

In America, though forced to learn English, he enjoys complete popularity, is even welcomed to the White House. He purchases a quiet home in Princeton, and takes a position at the Institute of Advanced Study, which he loves for its lack of fraternities, football, grants, and degrees.

His expertise in the realm of sub-atomic science and his acquaintance with the President cause your son to write and inform the President of a fact not reported in American press: that Hitler has captured Czech uranium mines.

Laying aside his life-long pacifist beliefs, he rationalizes that a world under Nazism would be worse than a world at war.

He dedicates his remaining days to helping scientist friends escape Europe, championing peaceful uses for atomic energy, and quietly moving the science world ever forward.

Who is your famous son?

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Do You Have Silver Ties?

An old friend and I have recently resumed our friendship, due to our moving very close to each other. We consider it a Providential thing.

I was enchanted with this property of ours, especially the many springs on it, one of which was dammed up to cause this very beautiful pond:

Our Pond

Our Pond

My friend moved to her place partly because of the amazingly beautiful creek running through the lower half of it:

My Friend's Creek

My Friend’s Creek

Recently, though, we learned that my tiny tributaries, including the run-off from my pond, all flow into her creek via this very small rivulet:

Coming down from my pond

Coming down from my pond

The End.

 

I hope you enjoyed these three shots of the silver thread that connects two friends.

 

Give Old Candles a New Beginning

All during the year, we burn lovely scented candles from several sources, and as each one grows too small to be safe, I dig out and save the last bit, in a zipper bag. For ages I did not know what to do with these candle bottoms, carefully removed from lovely jars and votive cups. They still smelled great and it seemed such a waste just to pitch them, although sometimes, I did.

Then I met a woman who knew what to do and my life changed. (And my candle hoard changed.) I began saving candle bottoms with a vengeance, even offering to clean up the jars and cups of friends, if I could have the remains.

Yes, I had more!

What do I do with them? I make one big candle and burn it to start off the year! Here is this year’s “starter” candle, made from last year’s candle bottoms, and sorry I’ve almost burned it all gone before this topic arose! Believe me, it almost overflowed with contents a few days ago:

Beginning again

Beginning again

So how do my friend and I do this? Simple!

  1. Anchor a dripless dinner candle in the bottom of a large candle jar, such as you see here. I do this by dropping a bit of melted wax into the center of the jar and pushing the candle down onto the melted drops. I hold it there until the melted drops set and will hold without me.
  2. Then I carefully set chunks, slices, shavings, and crumbles of old candle bottoms into the space between the center candle and the jar walls. I also use leftovers from tart warmers.
  3. Light the dinner candle and let it melt down, some, to hold the wax pieces in place when you move it around, and then let it cool. After that, you can let it burn as long as you like. It all will melt together and become one lovely, undefinable fragrance.

That’s all there is to it. It smells so lovely, reminiscent of all the fragrances I’ve loved in the past year. Mine are mostly outdoorsy scents such as pine, bayberry, or lavender. My friend calls hers “tuty fruity”.

But anyone can romance the last of last year by giving old candles a new beginning this way.

Have fun!