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Part 3- Preschoolers: Shaping Little Hearts

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The Boyer Blog: Part 3- Preschoolers: Shaping Little Hearts

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Part 3- Preschoolers: Shaping Little Hearts

Build a Heart of Obedience

One of the biggest causes of burnout in home education is out-of-control kids. We as parents must obey God and train our kids to obey, telling them that if they don’t learn when they are small it will be much harder when they are older. Our approach to obedience is a positive one. I’ve found that most children want to obey you—yes, they have a sinful nature, but they really want your approval—so make it easy for them to obey. Disciplinary measures won’t be needed nearly as often if you take the time now to train your kids in obedience. We knew a boy who was about to walk out between two cars. He couldn’t see that there was a car coming. His dad said, “David, stop,” and David stopped. If he hadn’t stopped he would have been run over by that car. We used that illustration to show our kids that their parents can see beyond what they can see, and that they need to obey us immediately with the freedom to ask why later. They need to learn prompt obedience right away.

Your browser may not support display of this image. We’ve done a couple of things to work on this training. I remember coming home from the store one day very frustrated. The kids weren’t really being bad, they were just there, and there were a lot of them! I kept running over them with my grocery cart, and they were touching things on the shelves, and wanting things that weren’t on my list, and I told Rick I just didn’t know what to do. Rick said, “Let’s go back to the store tonight just for the purpose of training the kids.” So we went, and he walked behind them giving a few simple rules such as: Walk behind mom and the cart; make your requests at home; don’t touch the things on the shelves. The very next time I took my kids to the store someone commented on their obedience, asking how we did it. So we thought, Ah! This works! We began preparing them for other situations. At the time I was pregnant and I would have to go to the doctor’s office with many children. I set them all in a row, leaving Ricky in charge of reading stories to them while I was with the doctor. I would tell them about how long I was going to be, and what I expected of them while I was away—and they did it! People in that doctor’s office to this day talk about how obedient our kids were, but it was just because we told them in advance what was expected of them. When we went to a restaurant we’d say, “What do you say when the waitress gives you a glass of water?” We prompted them, telling them how we expected them to act. We found that they are much more likely to do what you expect if you just tell them! Before we began preparing them for situations I could see that I was just saying, “Don’t do that! Don’t touch that!” But I wasn’t telling them what I DID want them to do, so they really didn’t know.

Another thing we did with our kids is what we called, “Ifs,” and its purpose was to help them make wise choices. We gave them a situation such as, “If you are at Travis’ house and he says, “Come on, Ricky, let’s watch this TV program; it’s a good one—your mom won’t mind.” Then we asked, what would you do? Ricky, who is now 30 years old, said that helped him a lot of times to make the right choices, because we were training them in advance for the situations we knew they would have to face.

Your browser may not support display of this image. We tell our children that obedience has three parts: cheerfully, immediately, and thoroughly. If they did what we asked without cheerfulness, that was not real obedience. Or, if it was not done thoroughly and we had to call them back to do it correctly, that was not obedience. We corrected our kids for three things: disobedience, disrespect, and irresponsibility—never for childishness—you must learn to distinguish childish behavior from disobedience. There are some basic principles. We instructed our children, telling them how we wanted them to act. We then had them repeat the instruction back to us, especially if they are a preschooler. If they disobey we give them one warning and again have them repeat the instruction back to us to be sure they understood. When you correct your kids, always use Scripture to establish that they did something wrong. For example, if one of your kids was angry so they pulled a brother or sister’s hair and said something unkind, Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry but do not sin.” Instead of just communicating that they irritated mom, and will get a spanking, show them how they violated Scripture, causing them to get a spanking. Afterwards we show love, and if they have offended someone else they’ll need to seek forgiveness. In that situation, we would teach them Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turneth away wrath”, teaching them to prepare a gentle answer for next time so they can watch God work. (For more information, see CD or DVD presentation of Obedience From the Heart by Marilyn Boyer.)

Build a Sense of Responsibility

We have found that kids need a schedule—they need to know what is expected of them. We train our children, even two- to three-year-olds, to help with chores. Ours have different chores every day of the week. They can do things like take a bottle of neutral cleaner and clean baseboards or doorknobs. We found that the little ones love having chores! They want to be helpful like they see the older ones doing. For those who cannot yet read, we get containers and put a picture of say, a matchbox car, or dollhouse person, so they know where those things are supposed to go. They are far more likely to be responsible if you’ve made it easy for them to obey. If they break a toy they must work to get money to replace it. They also have a daily schedule which we follow unless something comes up. Our kids know what is expected of them, which builds security. (for more see How to Raise Kids of Character CD by M. Boyer)

Include Your Toddler in School Time

Usually the toddlers want to do school like the older kids are doing, so start young, when they have that desire! It’s such a temptation to send the little ones away so you can concentrate on the other kids you’re teaching math to, but as much as possible, let them be present. You will be so surprised by what they will learn simply by being there while you teach the older ones. I remember three-year-old Matt joining us while I was teaching his brothers and sisters anatomy. I got him an anatomy coloring book, and while I was working with them he was coloring in his “uh-atomy book!” And he just thought he was a big guy! He would even color the pictures to try to gross out his sister at lunchtime!

Another time I was teaching math facts. “Nine times four is thirty-six,” and I did it in a sing-songy way. While Josh tried to remember what it was, Carrie, the three-year-old, popped up and said, “Thirty-six!” as if she was finishing the song. They will pick up so much just from being present. We do train them to have school-time voices. Otherwise, what happens is pure chaos! (Though if you came to our house you would see that it’s never truly quiet.) The older kids have to learn to put up with a little bit of distraction from the younger kids, and the younger kids have to learn to use their school-time voices, for which we reward them. In our home it takes us about two and a half hours to do school—this last year that meant seven children. I spend special time with my preschoolers about halfway through while the older kids have snack—my little guys look forward to that time with mom in between. I also spend time with them as soon as I finish with the older kids.

Your browser may not support display of this image. Another thing we’ve done is to allow the older children to teach the younger children as a reward for finishing their schoolwork in a timely way. For instance, Laura loves doing art projects with the little ones. So she will do her math diligently (she does not like math), then be rewarded by doing art projects with the little guys, which is really good for both of them.

You can also include the little ones in things like nature walks, science experiments, anything you’re teaching the older ones that is hands-on. Let your little ones listen to you as you read history stories or biographies to the older kids. Our two- and three-year-olds love to listen to history books, biographies, and nature stories. I’ve found that it’s my little ones who require most of my time—my preschoolers, toddlers, and the ones who are learning to read. The other kids pretty much just need help when they get stuck on something.

What has really been a lifesaver for me was getting a big box and putting in that box, things that I save just for school time for the preschoolers like lace-and-trace shapes, learning puzzles that are appropriate for their age (Matt, now 21, still loves puzzles. He learned his states and capitals at a very early age just by putting our puzzles together); flannel graphs with Bible figures or counting objects, playdough, rolling pins, plastic knives, molds (worth the mess for the time it keeps them occupied!); block sets, shape sorters, dry erase boards, special markers and paper, magnetic letters, chalkboards, special Bible tapes such as Your Story Hour, and, very occasionally, a short educational video (be careful of using videos as a babysitter; it is not a profitable use of their time), popsicle sticks, geoboard, tangrams, button sorting, paper-punch pictures, inkpad pictures, wet chalk drawing, fruit and vegetable prints, sewing cards, paper dolls (One year my second son, who lives life with his hands, made a paper doll family for his sister. He took pictures of our family, cut ovals out of wood, and glued the faces to the dolls! My girls still use these family dolls, passed down to all the kids through the years. They play-out situations in our family, which is not always good! It really shows us what they’re picking up!). The possibilities are endless, and they’re learning without even knowing it! The trick is to not let them do these things any time they want—save it all for school time. Of course attention spans vary. Some children will do things like this for a long time, and others need more activities changed frequently. Keep changing the activity before they get tired of it so they look forward to it the next time you bring it out.

Another resource I developed for use with my children was Making Wise Choices Flashcards. The If/When pack guides them in situations that they might encounter, like what to do if you’re tempted to be afraid. On the back it gives the verse for that. And the Character-Quality flash cards have verses about obedience, kindness, and gratefulness, which are three that our kids really needed. We also have Proverbs Flashcards, a set with practical application of verses from the practical book of the Bible that Solomon wrote to instruct his sons. These flashcards are also included in our Preschool Resource Pack.

I hope you have gained some helpful insights and encouragement throughout this series. God bless you as you strive each day to shape those little hearts God's way.


This series was taken from Home Educating Babies and Toddlers and Loving It! Available as a CD, Audio Download, or E-book



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have really gained so much valuable advice and ideas from this series. Thank you so much! I will continue to refer to in the future.

June 23, 2010 at 8:00 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I have throughly enjoyed this series and it has cemented in my mind what I want to do with my boys in the fall for "school"- they are 5 and 3 and though we are not doing K "officially" with our oldest this year, we are going to be doing school time on a regular basis and continuing forward with his learning. I would love to be able to purchase the whole preschool character circulum you have- it looks wonderful! But our finances won't allow that right now, if there was just one book or two out of your vast array that would give us a start on a character qualities based "program" what would that be? I would really like to focus this year on establishing good character and build a foundation to work from in the years to come.
Thanks for any thoughts!

June 24, 2010 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger Kari Boyer said...

Marilyn is at a conference right now, so I will do my best to answer you as she would.
Out of the Preschool Curriculum,some of the products are available separately. Crossroads of Character is a new book we offer, and it covers 12 different Character Qualities- with a corresponding story for life application, an easy definition, and a bible verse. It would be a great resource for you. Another helpful book to have might be Fun Project for Hands- On Character Building- this is full of different activities or projects that will help you instill Character in your children- the projects are things Rick and Marilyn did with their children.
We also carry a resource called:
A Child's Book of Character Building
It includes 12 Character Qualities and a story for how to apply that Character to Home, School, and a Bible story that uses that Character quality.
And, of course, Scripture Memory is a great way to teach Character. Check out our Character Quality Flashcards.
I certainly understand about finances! In the same boat here. So, don't know what your budget allows, but even if the Complete Curriculum was too much, we do offer the Base Pack on it's own.It contains all you need to really focus on Character. It is listed at $80 currently. However, we are having a sale that ends tomorrow (june 25) that would give you 30% off that. (which would be $56) Go to home page to see the Promo Code for that.
So- just wanted to lay that option out for you. BUT- if the budget does not allow for that- I think you would be pleased with one or two of those books I mentioned. Find them on our site for more detailed info. about them. Crossroads of Character also includes a "see inside" feature. My kids love that book and have already begun to memorize the definitions of some of the Character Qualities- and even put them into practice some- without my prompting. So,I am very pleased with it.
So- hope that helps some.

Praise the Lord for the desire he has put in you to teach your kids Character- Press On! =)
Kari Boyer

June 24, 2010 at 8:03 PM  
Anonymous Lori said...

Jennifer - I will 2nd Kari's suggestion of the Crossroad's book and the Hands-on book. I bought Crossroad's at convention and its really awesome. My 3yr old loves it too and asks for it. The Hands on Book is great - you could literally spend 3 or 4 years doing stuff out of there.

My comment to Marilyn:
I would love to see a blog post more in depth on the difference between disobedience and childishness.
Thank you for all you do. You are a blessing.

June 25, 2010 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger Kari Boyer said...

I will be sure to pass that along to Marilyn. You may just see that post some time in the near future = ) thanks for your input!

June 25, 2010 at 5:39 PM  
Blogger i'm beccy. said...

Thanks for sharing your parenting experience and wisdom. We are just getting started and having some practical how to information for getting started is SO helpful. Thank you.

July 3, 2010 at 2:02 PM  

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