Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Summer Reading Vs. Skill Building

Well the summer of 2012 is past and beautiful Autumn is upon us.  Fall is my absolute favorite time of year.  I had a restful but productive break from blogging (for anyone out there who's still reading this blog! lol).  

So how did you spend your summer?  Did your kids participate in the popular summer reading programs that most public libraries offer? I must say, we have never participated in one of those programs until this summer.  We reluctantly joined about a month into the program. But the prizes were really disappointing, as we'd expected.   

My biggest biggest difficulty has been finding books that are worth investing the time to read.  There is so much drivel now a days (as Charlotte Mason would say) and so few books to choose from that don't have more of a negative influence than a positive one.  And since my children are impressionable and precious to me, I am pretty particular about the materials I give them to read.

So our reading choices lean toward books and materials that build skills. We like good biographies, too, but even there we are careful of the level of detail of sin they share.

So rather than reading the whole summer away, I always encourage my children to do productive things with their time - especially starting at the 12 to 14 age range. I want them learning skills, starting their own businesses, ministering, and really not having time to spend reading books (except for their school work and Bible times).  

This summer, my boys practiced their juggling skills and they got so good that they each bought a set of juggling pins with their own money.  They'll be presenting their skills at a future homeschool Presentation Day.  They also went camping with their dad, exploring caves and waterfalls and they started their own business selling Paracord bracelets. Their summer was filled with activity, learning and experiences rather than a lot of reading for the sake of busy-ness.

As I spend more time in the bible, the worldly influences from the past continue to fade and my reading standards continue to rise.  :) 

So many books I used to think were good choices I find to be no longer worthy of consideration. Children absorb what they read in a way that might not sink in with adults and I don’t want my children soaking up the kinds of materials that many parents these days consider to be good choices.

The educational world says that children must read, read, read and that influence has infected a whole lot of people.  On the surface, an enormous amount of reading certainly sounds good.  I mean, reading leads to learning, right?  Opens the mind, carries away the imagination? Have you noticed the immense push for children to read?  Have you ever wondered why are there no reading incentive programs for adults? Hmm.

What kinds of books do kids typically want to read? Mostly fiction.  Reading fiction is like eating candy or sitting in front of the tv.  It’s mostly a waste of time, generally unproductive and usually addicting.

Our children read a lot in their school work and Bible time. However, we don't want to give our children an appetite to sit and spend hours with a fiction book any more than we want to give them an appetite to sit and spend hours in front of a TV.

This summer, we found productive activities for our kids to do rather than just ways to entertain them.  They grow up so fast and now is the planting season.  When my children read a book I'm aware that it is as though someone I don’t even know is spending hours a day with my children.  And those aren’t passive hours, they are very serious.  Books are people talking to our children.  I always try to consider 2 things: what are they saying and what are they trying to teach my child?

There is nothing like pure ability to boost a child’s confidence and sense of value and usefulness.  Even at young ages, children are aware that usefulness is synonymous with worth.  When a child’s summer is filled with one  toy, play date, video game, and  fiction book after another , the only thing accomplished is that time has been spent rather than invested.  In order to build the character necessary for the quickly approaching adolescent years, a child must be provided and confronted with challenges. 

Boys can  be learning lawn maintenance, garden tool care, small engine repair, household repairs, wall or fence painting, carpentry skills, bird house building, dog training, garden growing, etc. Our sons will never forget the summer they built a tree house with their dad in 2009. They were 10 and 12 at the time. And my oh my, were they proud of that accomplishment!  Not to mention the bonding experience with their father - it was priceless. 

Our daughter is grown and married now, but when she was younger, I taught her as many homemaking skills as I possibly could.  She learned how to crochet and sew a little, paint, garden, bake and all household tasks including laundry, cleaning, organizing, and decorating. When she was 11, she cooked our family an entire meal made from scratch – all by herself.   

One summer,  she classified, catalogued, organized and labeled a huge box of vintage postage stamps.  There were thousands of them!  We got her some special books for stamp collecting, a magnifying glass and a bowl to soak the stamps and she went to work. It was really impressive when she was finished. She was so proud of her accomplishement. And many amazing old stamps even spurred her on to some fascinating history lessons!  

Kids are so much happier and better prepared for life when we fill their days with useful skills and take advantage of as many teaching opportunities as we can.  We all love our children and want them to have fun.  But they grow up sooo fast.  It is worth teaching them to have fun while learning skills.  They will thank us for it when they are grown.  

I turn a deaf ear to the voices who exalt reading as though it were some highly prized goal.  Teaching our children to walk in truth, holiness and love God is the prized goal.  

Thought to consider: Who is 'talking' to your child today?


Anonymous said...

I am so glad you're back! I missed this blog this summer. I never knew you had a daugher.

Simply Keeping Home said...

Thanks Courtney, it's fun to be back! Yes, we have three kids - a girl and 2 boys. I don't write about my daughter as much because she's all grown up and married and lives in another state. Miss her so much!!

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