As part of reorganizing the kitchen, I’ve created a space for our sizable collection of flash cards that is accessible to the entire tribe. Mr. Man finds this fascinating, and at nearly every opportunity, he scoots off to the kitchen and seizes a deck or two. Sooner or later, I will convince him that they are for use on the table only, and that tossing them into the recycling bin does not constitute “putting them away.” This evening, when Daddy came home from work, he cheerfully grabbed the pack of alphabet cards and passed a pleasant half-hour showing off his knowledge of the alphabet with his favorite loveseat buddy.
Flash cards will probably be the central part of working Mr. Man into our school routine; he will cheerfully sit in his booster playing with cards that have letters, shapes, numbers, or colors, merrily crowing the names of the ones he knows and plaguing Bugaboo to fill in the gaps in his knowledge if I’m busy with Beanie or Baby Guy. Grandma helpfully sends me wildlife magazines, so I believe we may have a craft project in the works, making a set of animal flashcards for the big guy (which will, I am sure, later be used by Baby Guy as well). Those could even be used as research starters for the girls . . . sorry, I’m thinking aloud again.
At any rate, setting up some more structured learning activities for Mr. Man has been on my priority list for a while, since he loves to learn but, being not quite two years old, has a tough time sitting still for any stretch of time. He’s recently taken an interest in markers and coloring books, so, rather than confine him to his booster, I put his little “school supplies” box by Daddy’s chair with a sheet of construction paper and a coloring book opened to a still-blackline page. He’ll hop up while his sisters are doing their lessons, scribble a bit, chortle, “I did it, I did it,” then carom off in search of adventures elsewhere in the house. If I’m not doing direct instruction with one of his sisters, he’ll stick around a little longer, which gives me a chance to help him hold the crayon or marker correctly and show him the concept of coloring inside the lines.
Interestingly, Bugaboo’s devotional today had to do with being organized, and using time wisely so that we have time to do all the things we should do and still have time to do the things we want to do. She, Beanie and I spent some time this afternoon talking about that, about how sometimes lollygagging on lessons results in a severe restriction on their time to explore the world or watch what little TV they’re allowed. With all the moving of stuff I’ve been doing, I forgot that I need to make sure that Mr. Man and Baby Guy get their own pieces of “teaching time,” too — not as structured, and definitely looking more like play, but some time set aside specifically for their books, and blocks, and even flash cards. That led to the re-emergence of my pocket chart, and a quick round of time cards, so I can organize the day by hours, with the tribe’s help, each morning.
It was an interesting conversation, one which brought me some joy because both girls agreed that the most important thing in our day was our time for prayer and “Jesus lessons,” so we decided that we need to continue starting every day with those. Bugaboo even volunteered that she should get out her own coloring book and Bible while I’m making the morning round of phone calls to Grandma and Deedaw, and offered to help Beanie do the same so that once the check-in calls are done, we can get right to work. Beanie told me she could help by putting the school supply boxes at the correct places, and that would give us more time, too. I love that whenever they’re given the opportunity to be helpful, they jump on it with both feet.
We also talked about the craft project that accompanied the devotional, and, after Daddy and I had tucked the boys into their beds for the night, I gave them the supplies and told them if they worked carefully and used their time wisely, they could finish the project before their bedtime arrived. Both girls made very pretty flower gardens, and Beanie decided to draw two pictures of flowers while Bugaboo was having her evening chess game with Daddy.
Today’s prayer: Lord, You have given me time to raise Your blessings in ways that are pleasing to You. Thank You for granting them the wisdom and humility to recognize that You should be our first priority every day. Thank You for their willingness to offer what help they can. Please, Lord, guide me to use my time with them wisely, to find ways to give each of them time that is theirs alone, and to find ways to include all of them in everything our family does. Thank You for all four of their love of flowers and dandelion fluffs.