Parenting: Intentionality

My sister Emily and brother-in-law Chris live in Texas and have two of the cutest kids alive (not including Jonathan, of course). Emily was an elementary teacher and Chris is a pastor. They have a great blog where you can find posts all sorts of stuff about life, family, cooking, and other kinds of fun.

I asked them to contribute to this series since Avery and Mary Hannah are not only so cute, but also REALLY well behaved and VERY smart.

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We intentionally plan fun and educational experiences. Learning begins at home with mom and dad as the sources of knowledge. With that belief as the foundation for our “curriculum” we seek out opportunities in our community to teach our children about the world around them. Here are some specific examples:

  • During the 2008 election, we taught our 3 year old about the presidential candidates, voting, and had him color in on a map of the U.S. with red or blue crayon as the states were announced whether they voted democrat or republican. See this blog post for pictures.
  • I decide on a theme or topic that I know would currently interest my children and then check out books from the library all about it. The kids loved the books about our 5 senses!
  • We took a trip to a vegetable farm to pick strawberries so the kids could participate and understand that the fruit grows on a plant in the ground, not on a grocery store shelf.
  • During our move, we broke out the maps to locate our home and our friends and families across the country.
  • When we were driving from FL to TX one time, we printed coloring pages of each state we were driving through and made a binder for each child. Because of that my 4 year old learned and remembered every state from here to there, and my 2 year old knows them pretty well, too.

We intentionally converse with our children. We communicate our expectations and model for the children how we would like them to speak/act/respond. For example, check out this little video clip of Mary Hannah learning how to ask nicely for help.

In our home there is an ongoing conversation. Our children know that our home or car is a safe place to ask questions, and that they will get answers. Although it can be quite tiring to have to talk so much (our kids are talkers!!!), we want our kids to continue to talk to us … cause they’re gonna keep asking… and WE want to be the ones who get to answer!

We intentionally protect family time by choosing to spend a majority of our evenings and weekends at home or with just core family. Now that the children are old enough to start receiving play date and birthday party invitations, though we appreciate them, we cannot accept them all. In fact, we accept very few. Since Daddy is a pastor and is quite busy on the weekends, this practice of protecting family time is even more important.

We intentionally plan family vacations. They are sometimes grand and sometimes small, but vacations are essential for our entire family. We get away from the everyday distractions. We “unplug” from the daily grind, and “plug-in” to each other. These getaways are essential especially for the adults who regularly become distracted by routine housework, chores, and job-related to do lists. Sometimes family time at home can become nothing more than work at home. We have seen some of the greatest growth and development in our children while on vacation. The greater “face time” we give them, the more they learn and the more mom and dad are paying attention to notice!

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