What is holistic? Whole Child Homeschooling

I run a group called holistic homeschoolers. Right now, it is only for local members who live in the Treasure Valley area. This is a place for me to build a community where we can cultivate friendships with other families who want to nurture the whole child.

The focus of this blog is whole-child living, parenting, and educating.

So, I think it is important to define what holistic means within both communities.

For the next 30 days, I will be posting a blog entry every day related to the idea of raising a whole child.

Today’s post will focus on defining holistic. Here are a few definitions I found online:

“characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.”

-oxford dictionary

“incorporating the concept of holism, or the idea that the whole is morethan merely the sum of its parts, in theory or practice”

-Dictionary.com

“relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts”

-merriam-webster

“relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts”

-dictionary.cambridge.org

As I have outlined elsewhere on this blog, the institutional education system is flawed in that the approach is to segment the development of the mind from the other parts of the child.

Here at Chaos for Kisses, my goal is to nurture the whole child–head, hands, heart, home, and health.

With this in mind, “holistic,” as it relates to education is the process of considering a child’s development within the system of nurturing the whole child.

What does that look like?

  • offering healthy, well-rounded meals
  • offering opportunities to connect deeply with people, places, and things that inspire our children
  • offering activites that nurture a number of senses and systems within the child
  • offering an environment and structure that lends itself to growth and connection of the whole child
  • offering intentional and deliberate experiences that build the child up rather than introduce negative or unhealthy influences

Does this mean I live my life 100% holistically all the time?

No

This is a journey for me as it is for you.

But, I do strive to do my best.

I am intentional.

So, my challenge to you is simple:

Can you intentionally consider how each part of your day is affecting your whole child?

Is it inspiring, encouraging, and empowering your child?

If not, is it something you can work to eliminate or improve to positively impact your child?

Let me know in the comments below 🙂

If you enjoy these posts, consider signing up for my newsletter as well.

Encourage One Another

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says this:

Therefore, encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

Romans 12:9-11 says this:

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…

Hebrews 10:24 says this:

…let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds…

In our home, mama says this phrase regularly:

Be devoted to one another in brotherly (AND sisterly) love.

In a home filled with 4 little girls, there is often much laughter. But, there is also a great deal of back-biting and crying.

This phrase helps us ALL remember to value our love for each other above our own needs.

Here are 3 ways we practically apply this principle:

–> Hug-it-out:

9 times out of 10 a good long hug turns into a dancing, giggling match. If they are not ready to hug each other, mom is always available for a bit of snuggle time.

–> Active Listening:

My oldest has a strong urge to protect her plans and assets. I often need to remind her to put her desires aside to actively listen to the needs and requests of her sisters. When she forgets (or chooses not) to do this, her solutions are always “me” centered. When she releases her grip of control to put the needs of other’s above her own, it becomes easier to find “we” centered solutions.

My 2-year-old, like many her age, strongly resists boundaries. She does not like to accept the final say. This turns into bargaining and ignoring. For her, it is important to know I empathize. We work together to find solutions she can live with.

–>Encoragement Jar:

We have a mason jar with a pad of paper sitting next to it. From time to time, I ask each girl to write a note of encouragement. We choose one to read at dinner when we remember (which is NOT most days, to be honest!).

What do you do in your family to encourage one another?

If this is an area where you struggle, how can you improve?

Share your thoughts in the comments below OR in the group.

Discover Your True Homeschool Style: Whole Child Homeschooling

You might be a Whole Child homeschooling family if this describes you:

Do you believe that children have a God-given right to EXPLORE?

Do you believe that children should be encouraged to DISCOVER the world around them through their own eyes. Not only through the dictation of an adult?

Do you believe that SOLUTIONS are the result of spending time considering a problem?

Do you believe that PLAY is a valuable experience that your children need to be experiencing more?

ME TOO!

How do you offer a child-led homeschooling experience?

Does it also feel like all of this is new territory? Would I be right in guessing that it leads to a little bit of CHAOS?

Or maybe a LOT?

More and more families are choosing to homeschool because they want their children to discover learning naturally and playfully!

It just feels right doesn’t it?

But, it is SO counter-cultural.

Many parents struggle to know how to provide those freedoms within healthy limits.

Maybe you are one of those parents. If so, you are not alone. The truth is, we are all still figuring this out.

Do you feel like you need someone to guide you?

I have been working with children and raising my own for over a decade. In this time, I have learned how to hone into a child’s passion, potential, and provocations.

Can we really do this?

I see parents share the same concerns over and over again. Here is what they look like:

  • I want to homeschool, but I don’t feel like my child and I are compatible. We would probably fight all day.
  • My child does not take direction well from me. They listen better to someone else.
  • I’m just not cut out for teaching. I am not patient enough.
  • My younger children need too much of my time right now. I don’t have time to sit and offer lessons.
  • Nothing I have tried is working. My child still isn’t learning.

What is the common thread in each of these comments? The focus is still on school!

We have been conditioned to believe that children need SCHOOL to learn.

They don’t.

We try to make school fun. But, it’s still school and kids can see through that. It’s not authentic.

So, what is my solution?

I call it “Whole Child” homeschooling!

What’s that?

Glad you asked!

Whole child homeschooling nurtures independence. It allows parents to cultivate opportunities for discovery and exploration. This preserves a child’s natural curiosity. An approach like this not only speaks to a child’s mind, but their soul’s and bodies too. In addition, it instill’s connections. Connections to the world around them, each other, themselves, and God.

Here are the guiding principles:

Head – Offer opportunities for to think critically, engage with new ideas, and expand familiar ones.

Heart – Instill strong character and emotional intelligence through daily grace and courtesy lessons.

Hands – Engage the heart and mind through touch. Offer hands on experiences, hand crafts, and modeling to allow for reflection on meaningful experiences.

Home – Prepare an environment of peace, balance, and love.

Health – Feed the growing mind with quality nutrition. This complements all other aspects of the whole child. In fact, it directly determines the success of the process.

Does whole child homeschooling sound like the style of learning you have been trying to craft for your family? Stay tuned as I unpack these ideas and explore more!

Is My Child Better Off In School?

Copy of HomeschoolingI admit, I honestly asked myself this question earlier this week.

My husbands answer?

Probably.

My answer?

After some thought, No.

We should continue homeschooling.

And here is why:

In a classroom setting there can be anywhere from 15-30 children.

Children from all different backgrounds that affect their response to discipline, study habits, and ability to focus when they arrive each day.

The common core system, coupled with each teachers approach to education, will only reach a small number of children. Even a teacher who is working consciously to reach many learning types is probably only able to reach 75% of the students (this is just my own estimation based on personal experience).

On top of that, every child has a bad day.

So, if my child is struggling to focus today, or even many days, is it more likely that someone with 30 other kids to care for will take the time to refocus them?

No!

They cannot change the lesson plans.

They cannot slow down for one child.

They cannot interrupt a lesson to remind a child to sit down.

What do schools do when a child is not learning or disrupting class?

2 Things.

One is to pull the child from class for special lessons. The second is to inform the parents so it can be worked on at home.

So, if the answer is ultimately to provide individualized lessons and involve parents, why not skip right to that?

Isn’t that what homeschool education is all about?

What DO teachers provide that you may be lacking.

Classroom management skills.

So, next time you feel like your lessons are not getting through, brush up on your classroom management skills!

giphy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to learn how to turn those difficult homeschool moments into valuable opportunities to connect?

Sign up for my email tips and tidbits.

 

Classroom Management At Home vs School

Embrace The In Homeschool

 

This is the second installment in a series on classroom management. If you missed the first post, you can check it out here. Your home does not need to function like a school. Here are some differences to consider:

  1. Number of students:

I have said this before. It is so easy to look at all the organized activities in school classrooms and think we need to do the same.

The reality is that those activities are often a form of crowd control. They are used to keep children focused on a task so they don’t get board. We all know what boredom leads to:

Chaos!

2. Multi-age range

Sometimes this serves as a blessing; while, other times, it’s overwhelming!

The blessing comes in the moments when older children help younger and model behavior/tasks that inspire younger children to reach for more!

Or it all falls apart and you lock yourself in your bathroom with wine and chocolate!

Why?

Because children have specific developmental needs through each stage. Sometimes it is just overwhelming to address each individual need all at the same time!

3. Daily Tasks

Obviously a classroom is not a house.

There is not a pile of dirty dishes that need to be done before daddy gets home to eat dinner on clean dishes. There are not multiple dressers full of freshly folded clothes for the toddler to pull out (or put a half eaten strawberry in your wallet. Does that sound too specific? Yep, it JUST happened here in my house).

Children don’t get to take part in preparing a meal. This is such an essential experience for a child–even if it is only experienced through observation. Not only do they learn practical skills, they also experience a connection with you and their meal that is rejuvenating and calming.

Teacher doesn’t have the freedom to run to the store mid-day when no one else is there!

Sick days happen at home. You don’t get to hide from your children (sorry).

4. Choice in Activities

Most homeschoolers have much more freedom in their material choice than our classroom counterparts. If nothing else we can go out into nature, paint, and explore our community every day if we so desire! Yay freedom (Thanks troops)!

5. Parental Connection

Isn’t this the best part?

WE get to be the ones to help our children through their big feelings! And we can make all the time in the world for it because we don’t have an agenda or 20 other kids to keep tabs on.

WE get to watch their minds turn on!

WE get to develop their unique passions and personalities to encourage them to embrace who they were created to be!

When we have a bad day, WE get to hug and make up!

The moral of the anecdote?

RELAX

Don’t try to make your homeschool look like school.

Embrace the HOME in homeschool.

Are you enjoying learning about homeschooling the whole child? Sign up for the tips and tidbits newsletter to keep it coming!

Are some kids not cut out for homeschooling?

Kids Not Cut Out For Homeschooling

 

I will admit there are times I wonder…

Can I do this?

Would they be better off in someone elses hands?

Why did I sign up for this? I need a break!

Basically, sometimes I question if our family is cut out for homeschooling.

There are days when they drive me to the edge of my patience (or past it, if I am being honest). There are days when I don’t remember the last time they clearly “learned” something new. There are days that I wonder if my 1st grader should be learning sight words and being assigned math and spelling pages.

But there are other days too…

There are days where reading a book leads to a research project about Narwhal whales. Those days turn into weeks of learning driven by an insatiable desire to connect more deeply with our world. During those weeks, we spend hours reading, writing, building vocabulary, and experimenting.

There are days where a simple board game serves to solidify reading and comprehending skills. But it does so much more. It strengthens our bond. It  slows us down. It draws us together despite everything that is pulling us apart at times.

There are days when cooking lessons turn into math lessons.

There are days when my children are so excited to learn new skills that they practice them over and over again until THEY are satisfied that they have mastered it.

It’s not that our family is cut out for homeschooling. It’s that we are COMMITTED to it.

This is so important. Let me say it again.

COMMITTED

That’s it.

Really.

There is no special formula to being an amazing homeschooler. There is no perfect path to literacy.

It is just messy.

Even if you have the right curriculum and the right personalities (which for the record, I have only found 1 personality who is content with spending every waking moment with me. His name is Jesus, not my 6 year old *angel*)

Well, you say, you haven’t met MY child.

Your right, I probably haven’t met your child. But, I have met many similar children. I have worked with children my entire adult life. I am especially drawn to the *problem* children that others shy away from.

You know what I have learned?

Everyone has a desire to connect. We want to connect with those around us and the world beyond.

When we tap into those deep desires to connect, we begin to explore new skills and information. The deeper we explore the more we acquire and master them.

I have worked with so many children who were going to public school while in my home. They usually came to us very far behind. Many resented the work load. Homework time could easily become a power struggle.

Or, it could become a time to connect. I loved the opportunity to get to know what turned a child on. Even doing simple, required worksheets and reading assignments are enjoyable if you just know how to connect.

Some children are playful. They like to turn it into a game. Some are competitive. They like to beat the clock. Others crave physical touch. This is the perfect time to cuddle up.

When we let go of OUR expectations and learn what engages our individual child, they will become more open to our guidance.

Some children may be harder for you to connect with. Some may be MUCH harder for you to connect with.

That does not mean you need to give up. It does not mean that someone is better suited for teaching your children than you are.

If you are COMMITTED to homeschooling, than you will move past this.

Just like a marriage has ups and downs, your relationship with your children (and thus, your homeschooling journey) also has ups and downs. To make it through, you must stay COMMITTED.

Of course, commitment isn’t all you need. If you don’t figure out a way to connect with your child, you will always butt heads.

That is why I have put together the 21 Day’s to a Peaceful Homeschool challenge and provide resources on my website. My goal is to help you gather the tools you need to honor your commitment.

Homeschooling Through Illness

Homeschooling

It has been quite the homeschool year around here. This summer I had some grand plans. We were going to use nature as the catalyst for math, physics, biology, language, history…

You get the picture.

I was going to be supermom!

But, sometimes, life happens.

A few years ago I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and a few other pesky things. I had been keeping it under control with diet until we moved. The cost of real, sustainable food was so much higher here in Idaho than we had expected. So, we had to make some undesirable adjustments to keep up with the needs of our growing family. Add to that living in apartment for the first 10 months, which meant no garden 🙁 Top it off with pregnancy and not sleeping. Mix it all together and it becomes a recipe for disaster.

I was so sick by the time our sweet little one arrived last month that I had let go off all major responsibilities (including this blog) to just make it through. I am happy to say that I am on the mend thanks to the support of my amazing husband, children, and midwives.

That being said, I learned a few important lessons this year in our homeschooling journey.

1. Children learn through their own experiences.

Even living in a tiny apartment, with mom in bed way more than I would like to admit, and not having friends to connect with in our new home, they managed to glean so much valuable information.

Children are naturally inquisitive.

They didn’t need me to guide their thoughts. They asked plenty of their own questions. If I didn’t know the answer or have the energy to discuss in depth, they pulled out our kingfisher encyclopedias and searched youtube videos to learn more.

Then, I got to watch their discoveries unfold in their play. Each new fact was incorporated in complex games and stories to solidify their understanding of the concepts and lead to deeper thinking and often further questions.

With me out of the way, my children learned new information, demonstrated retention, and learned new research skills.

2. Children learn through shared experiences.

I have said this before, but was amazed again by how simply true this is. Everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning, and running errands can easily become teachable moments.

What are the lessons? That is often determined by the child.

Questions like “what does that say?” lead to new language skills or “how much do I put in?” lead to new math skills.

The more I watch my children, the more I realize how emulating adults is the best way for them to acquire the skills they will need in the work force. This is something schools cannot accomplish. When children learn information through sterilized presentations, even in the form of games and stations, they miss the practical application.

When my children are with me, they see me combine skills and use logic to find a solution. They also see me accomplishing meaningful tasks.

Because they see the value in these daily tasks, they strive to emulate them. If I am going to the post office with a letter, they want to bring a letter too. If I measure something, they want something to measure too. If I mend a dress or craft a diaper, they want to try too.

Every moment is an opportunity to practice the skills needed for life and higher learning. There may not be a scope and sequence for me to check off, but I can see their knowledge progressing with my own eyes.

3. Children will seek new skills when they are ready

My 6 year old has recently started copy work and writing a list of math problems every morning. This will not come as a surprise to my classical homeschooling friends. This is the age of memorization and order. I didn’t suggest that she do these things. She has simply become frustrated with her own limitation and realized that she needs to practice if she wants to improve.

I didn’t have to do anything to encourage this drive. In fact, doing so may have shut her down. Children can sense when we have an agenda.

Many educational philosophies (most notably Charlotte Mason, Montessori, and Waldorf) have cited noticing children resisting authority at this age. Their attitudes imply “your not the boss of me!” I have observed this myself with many children I have worked with and my daughter is no exception.

If I had pushed these ideas on her myself, even if they were simply suggestions based on my observations, she would have rejected them. She needed to come to these decisions herself. She needed to claim responsibility for her own path. My being out of the way allowed her to step up to the plate.

That isn’t to say we didn’t have our struggles. It has been a long year to say the least. But, God has protected our hearts and continues to fill our home with peace and joy. For now, that is enough for me.

When Siblings Provoke Triggers

My daughter gets very strong anxiety when faced with a difficult situation. If her younger sisters are too loud, too close, or not interested in playing her way, she reacts by yelling. And, if I intervene, she runs away.

I’m sure you can guess just how many times a day this happens with two smaller siblings!

So, what is a mama to do?

Here are 5 things that help me get a jump on her anxiety before it gets out of control:

  1. Be available for a quick escape
    • Without fail, the most intense episodes spiral out of control when I am in the other room. However, if she knows I am there (even if it is a yell from the bathroom that I hear her frustration), she will seek my help.
    • Use connecting language to break them  out of the reaction cycle
  2. Adjust the environment
    • If you know they fight over the same toys/space/time, make sure there is enough for all or put it out of sight.
    • Take away excess clutter and things that appear to be overstimulating
    • Give each child there own “safe” space
  3. Be careful with your language
    • Be collaborative rather than judging sides.
    • Be careful not to shame
    • Offer a positive solution rather than a negative “rule”
  4. Provide choices
    • Talk a little to find out what your child really wants: to have what the other has, to play out their vision, or to have a need met
    • Work together to come up with alternatives that honor both child’s goals and open your child up to being flexible
  5. Observe for missing problem-solving skills
    • Take careful note of recurring triggers.
    • Do you know the missing skill your child needs to overcome this issue?
    • Examples may include empathy, flexibility, trust, care of property, and respect of personal space

How can you develop those skills? One of my favorite ways is to use a catch phrase.

But, that is just one tool in my box. You can learn them all in my upcoming Academy Program, Grace and Courtesy: A Peaceful Alternative To ABA.

Peaceful Communication

Today we are going to take a look at the 4 main reasons your child may be displaying triggered behavior.

1. Broken Relationships

Are you clear on where your relationship with your child stands? Do you actively work to maintain connection?

3 ways to be sure you are staying connected with your child are:

  • Use connecting words rather than disconnecting words that are often cloaked in shame and judgement
  • Protect your child’s dignity
  • Speak their Love Language

2. Lacking Skills

Is your child behaving this way because they do not know a better way? Here are two tips to be sure they are clear on the best way to communicate their feelings or needs in specific situations:

  • Approach the situation as a skill that needs a lesson
  • Determine what behavior would be more a more appropriate response and provide direction for future situations

3. Misplaced Expectations from adults

Are you sure that the expectations you are putting on your child or are allowing others to put on them are developmentally appropriate? Have you done the work ahead of time to be sure your child has practiced the expected behavior in a low stress environment? Here are four questions to ask yourself about your expectations in your interactions with your child:

  • Is the behavior a result of an emotional response?
  • Has the child been given adequate lessons to manage this situations?
  • Are you utilizing empathy?
  • Are you caught in a control trap?

4. Lack of Clarity in our request

Are you presenting your need in a way that explains the problem and solution. Often, in these moments, we are emotionally charged. We may try to over explain, use logic, or express our emotions rather than find the solution. Here are three tips to keep in mind when making a request for a change in your child’s behavior:

  • Provide a thoughtful request rather than using language that shuts down the conversation.
  • Make statements of observation regarding the natural consequence, child’s reaction, or your need to bring the need for change to your child’s attention.
  • Provide an actionable solution

By checking for these 4 triggers to escalated behavior before responding, we can often prevent triggered behavior from getting out of hand.

If we can provide a connection, our children will trust us to lead them back to a place of peace.

Which of these areas do you notice most often leads to escalation of your child’s triggered response? Which of these tips will be most helpful in bringing peace into your home? Tell me in the comments below!

Do we cause our children to feel shame?

I know I promised a post about recognizing and addressing each of the potential reasons a child may be triggered.

But…

There is something that is on my heart that I just need to share this week. It’s going to be a quick challenge to you.

And I believe that, if you do this, it will bring clarity to your understanding the reasons for a child’s triggers.

I want you to ask yourself an honest question:

How am I shaming my child?

Now I am not talking about teaching your child right from wrong and the natural feelings that come from knowing they are wrong. Last week, I gently showed my child that she was being selfish. She broke down in tears! I asked why she was crying because I thought I had made it clear that she was not in trouble and that I was there to help.

Her answer: Because I know you are right.

It brings tears back to my eyes while I type it. We both sat and cried. I cried because I knew the many temptations that will face her and begged God to help me give her the tools to overcome them. She cried because she experienced what Paul describes in Romans 7: 18-19

“For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”

The good news is that the Spirit within us will overcome those temptations if we give Him the power.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)

And that is what she did.

But, that is NOT what I am talking about. That is helping your child understand their humanity and need for Christ their savior. If you do this in a way that points your child toward the blessings of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), then it will only serve to build them up (Ephesians 4:29).

What I am talking about is assigning shame to our children’s identity by blaming them or drawing attention to guilt (you know judging! James 4:11).

Here are some examples of how I have done it:

“The stool tipped because you were playing on it.” (said in an exasperated tone)

Now if I had said this in a neutral tone as an observation to teach what to do in the future, that would have been constructive. It’s all about the tone.

“I have to keep stopping what I am doing because you are interrupting me.”

That is just straight up blaming. I hope you see that.

“If you do not stop xyz, we will be done/leave/take the toy away.”

This is actually not one I use personally (anymore), but I overhear it a lot. It is implying that their lack of skills to be able to act appropriately in this situation is somehow their fault. Actually it is just a sign that we, as parents, need to connect and teach them how to act.

If you TRULY need to be done because they are not heading your directions and it MATTERS that this task or item be done/used correctly, then you can casually state “It is time to be done with this. What would you like to do instead.”

“Remember, you don’t get to do that anymore because you can’t use it the right way.”

Same as above. If they need to be reminded that they are not ready yet, prevent the conversation in the first place by removing the item or avoiding the situation. If that isn’t possible, tell them about other lessons you are going to work on before they will be ready for that (and follow through).

“Do xyz this way, or you will cause a problem (make a mess, take too long, break an item, make someone mad, ect.)”

Again, take a neutral and positive approach. “If you do it like this, then it will help you stay cleaner/get done faster.”

Ask yourself one more question (remember the first one: How am I shaming my child?):

How can I encourage my child?

Leave a comment with your answers or join the discussion in my FB group, Transform Your Homeschool


 

Don’t forget to sign-up for my Free 4 day guide to a THRIVING homeschool. Get started today to discover your child’s God-given STRENGTHS!