Charting a Course for Each Child
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by Ellyn Davis
The I.E.P. (Individualized Educational Program)
This is the third in a sequence of articles about developing an individualized course of study for each child based on their real needs and on your family's unique passions and giftings. The last newsletter focused on developing an IEP for each child to help guide you through the home school years. And the newsletter before it suggested creating a chart of the different areas you want to develop in your children. You can read that newsletter by clicking HERE.
This newsletter will "flesh out" the I.E.P. concept even more.
So far, we have encouraged you to give thought to your family’s unique vision and purpose and to try and determine the individual interests, concerns, talents, or abilities the Lord has given each of your children. The next step is to consider the responsibilities each child is likely to have as an adult.
Adult life consists of three basic arenas: (1) Public (situations, relationships, and interactions outside of our immediate family), (2) Family (interactions with those related to us), and (3) Private (our inner spiritual, emotional, and mental life). Each of these arenas has its own set of demands and responsibilities.
We can think of these adult arenas in terms of “roles.” Once we know each child’s probable future roles, we can concentrate on the relationships, skills and information that would be most helpful in assuming the responsibilities required by each role. Here are adult roles your children are likely to have:
∙ Child of God role (includes life purpose, calling, ministry)
∙ Member of the Body of Christ role (includes spiritual giftings)
∙ Family Member role (as daughter, son, cousin, uncle, aunt, grandchild, etc.)
∙ Spouse role (as husband or wife)
∙ Parent role (as father or mother)
∙ Friend role
∙ Worker role (as employer or employee)
∙ Community Member role (member of organizations, sports teams, etc.)
When we look at our children’s futures in terms of the roles they may play, it helps us focus on the relationships, skills, and information they should acquire. For example, if we believe our sons will become fathers one day, it would be to their advantage to learn about fatherhood and child rearing. If we believe our daughters will someday be employed, we can help them learn skills consistent with their God-given abilities that will be useful to them as adults. The more specific we can be about our children’s future roles, the easier it becomes to identify what we want to impart to them.
Authors Linda and Richard Eyre in Teaching Your Children Responsibility explain that responsibility means “to become mature in the sense of being responsible to family, to self, to society. It means being responsible for all aspects of our lives and our situations; for our talents, for our potential, for our feelings, for our thoughts, for our actions, for our freedom. Responsibility is not the result of maturity, but the cause of it—and a major responsibility of parents is to teach responsibility.”
Robert Barnes, in Ready for Responsibility, says:
“If there is no plan, no philosophy of life, there can be nothing but conflict between the three primary arenas of life. It is the parents job to raise an employable child. It’s the parents’ job to raise a marriageable child. And most important, it’s the parent’s job to raise children who are able to be used by God to fulfill God’s purpose for each child when that child reaches adulthood. It’s the parents’ job to establish a plan that will train a child in the skills he or she will need to be a responsible adult.”
Back to the IEP
Once you have given some thought to your family’s mission and purpose, to each child’s future public, personal, and family life, and to the individual interests, concerns, talents, or abilities the Lord has given your children, you are in a position to think about the relationships, life skills, and academics you feel are appropriate for each child.
This doesn’t have to be intense or complicated, just begin by jotting down the areas that are important to your family. In the chart below we have listed the areas that are important to us, but that doesn’t mean what we consider important needs to show up on your list. You want to develop a list that is specific to your family’s mission and purpose.
(Spiritual habits such as prayer, worship, Bible Study, etc.)
(Healthy self-image, self-control, purity of thought life, proper eating habits, care of body, etc.)
With Created Things
(Proper attitude toward and management of time, money, property, animals, work, etc.)
Playing an Instrument
Basic Art Skills
Decision Making Skills
As you can see, the three areas on our list are interrelated. For example, under Relationships we have “With Others,” under Life Skills we have “Social Skills,” and under Information we have “Reading, Writing, and Speaking.” The Relationships column would mainly deal with developing biblical perspectives and attitudes toward relationships with others.
The “Social Skills” in the Life Skills column would have more to do with specific ways of relating to others such as developing conversational skills, being sensitive to the moods of others, learning proper ways to persuade and influence, demonstrating poise and tasteful fashion sense, etc. However, many of these social skills are dependent on mastering the Information involved in using proper grammar when speaking and writing, having the foundational knowledge to have something worth sharing with someone else, and so forth.
Charting a Course
When you know the categories of Relationships, Skills, and Information that are important to you, then you can begin choosing specific activities or programs that develop them in each child, according to the child’s natural abilities and level of maturity. The only pitfalls to looking at the “big picture” is that we often want to accomplish too much too fast, so we need a sense of what is developmentally appropriate for our children as well as a sense of how each learns best.
As a general rule, you would focus on relationships, discipline, good work habits, basic skills, and foundational academics (reading, writing, and arithmetic) with younger children.
When the children reach upper elementary ages their interests, talents, or giftings will become more pronounced and can be pursued more earnestly; they will be capable of more responsibility for learning the skills on your Life Skills list; and their academic studies can be more in-depth. They also will have developed problem-solving skills that allow them to expand their courses of study into areas that are more self-directed.
By the high school level, parents usually have a feel for whether their children should go to college, attend a trade school, or simply enter the job market; so the high school years can be a time of mastering independent living skills and pursuing academics to the intensity required by their future plans. At this stage, children who have had a broad academic foundation and who have been allowed to pursue their interests in-depth should be able to teach themselves with a minimum of oversight from you.
Teaching Your Children Responsibility. As a parent, you know how much less stressful your life would be if you could count on your children to be more responsible-for their toys, their homework, their household chores, and their choice of friends. You know you want your children to grow up to be responsible adults. In Teaching Your Children Responsibility, bestselling authors Linda and Richard Eyre identify twelve simple kinds of responsibility-from responsibility for things to responsibility for actions, from responsibility for choices to responsibility for younger siblings-that children can relate to. They provide a simple, practical program-with enjoyable exercises, games, and activities-that you can use to teach your children these important concepts.
Ready for Responsibility. We pray that our children will succeed in a career that fits their talents and interests, that they will find a good marriage partner, that they will be happy, well-adjusted adults. But in what ways can our parenting help them reach these goals? What can we do now to help prepare our children for life as adults? In this encouraging and insightful book, Dr. Bob Barnes offers practical suggestions and specific advice on how to teach children the skills they will need to be good employees and marriage partners. Using stories and personal anecdotes, Barnes talks about such issues as dating, allowances, manners, communication skills, responsibilities, authority, sex education, and more. But not only does he give advice, Dr. Barnes also helps parents apply the insights and create their own specific plan for parenting.
What is a Family.
This is one of the best books we have ever read. We re-read it periodically, and each time are brought to tears—tears of longing because it so perfectly expresses what we want our family to be like. Edith Schaeffer shares how the family is meant to be the birthplace of creativity: a center for the formation of relationships: a museum of wonderful memories that provide a hedge of protection around our children; an educational control; a perpetual relay of truth; and more.
For the Family’s Sake. Edith’s daughter Susan Schaeffer Macaulay takes up where her mother left off. By showing the power a godly home can have in a child’s life, she challenges every one of us to treasure the precious time we have at home with our children.
For the Children’s Sake.
Susan Schaeffer Macaulay continues to follow in her mother Edith Schaeffer’s footsteps, and in this book describes how to develop relationships filled with grace, beauty, and love. She views education as “the diet that opens doors for each child to build a relationship with God, other persons, and the universe.”
How to Really Love Your Child. In this extrordinary book, Dr Ross Campbell helps parents manifest love toward their children in all situations of child-rearing through the teen years. Many parents do not know how to express affection in ways that make a chid feel loved. This book details practical demonstrations of that are meaningful to children.
How to Really Love Your Teenager is specifically addressed to parents of teens. Dr. Ross Campbell believes that parents experience their greatest difficulties at this stage because they are unable to relate to the moodiness and self-identity issues that teens go through. So parents often harbor misconceptions and face disappointment in their relationships with their teens. This book offers ideas to help you communicate unconditional love, handle teenage anger . . . as well as your own, deal with adolescent depression and help your teenager grow spiritually and intellectually.
Relational Skills Resources
The Five Love Languages. Unhappiness in a relationship often has a root cause: we speak different love languages. Each of us has a "love language" of certain actions and words that when others use them it makes us feel loved. Do you feel most loved when those you love spend quality time with you, give you gifts, speak words of affirmation, perform acts of service, or when they touch you affectionately? This is a very thought-provoking and helpful book because it has given us greater understanding of how to show we care in a way that is most meaningful to the other person.
The Five Love Languages of Children and The Five Love Languages of Teenagers focus on finding the form of love most meaningful to each of your children and how to express love in ways that they can truly appreciate and receive it.
The Blessing. In the Bible, the parents' blessing was especially powerful, often defining the course of a child's life. This book discusses how a parent's words can shape identity for good or evil, and how what we speak over our children can hlep them become who God means them to be. It also shares the heartache a lack of parental blessing can bring, and how we can confer a blessing upon our children.
Emotional Intelligence and How to Raise a Child With a High EQ are the seminal works on understanding emotional intelligence and how to develop it in your children (and yourself).
Aptitude/Interest/Gifting Skills Resources
Discover Your Children’s Gifts by Don & Katie Fortune.
Part of training our children is discovering who God created them to be and the “works” He created them to do. This book looks at the spiritual gifts latent in each child and explains how parents can recognize and best develop these gifts for useful service. Based on Proverbs 22:6 and Romans 12: 6 - 8, it discusses how gifting affects communication, career possibilities, and more.
Discover Your Child’s Learning Style by Mariaemma Willis and Victoria Kindle-Hodson.
One mother wrote, “This is the most important book I have read in six years of homeschooling.” Does your child learn best at a certain time of day? Does background music increase or decrease reading comprehension? Does he or she study better alone or with others? There are more aspects to a student's learning style than the simple modes of visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. A “learning style profile” takes into account a child's talents, interests, preferred learning environment, and disposition, as well as the three familiar modes. By using do-it-yourself work-sheets, the guide helps you develop your child's learning style profile.
The New Birth Order Book by Kevin Lehman.
Is your child the firstborn, a middle child, or the “baby?” Birth order and gender have a powerful effect on personality and aptitude. This book discusses how we are shaped by our place in the family.
Critical Thinking Skills Resources
Building Thinking Skills are the best critical thinking products available. In workbook format, they contain exercises in four thinking skill categories: similarities and differences, sequences, classification, and analogy. Each book has over 250 pages and is meant to be used for two or more grade levels. Pages are reproducible, or the student may write in the book. Choose Building Thinking Skills, Book 1 for grades 2 - 4, Building Thinking Skills, Book 2 for grades 4 - 6. At the Jr/Sr high level there are two books: Building Thinking Skills Book 3 Verbal and Building Thinking Skills Book 3 Figural.
The following teacher’s manuals are highly recommended because you want to be able to refer to the answers quickly and as the lessons get more and more difficult you won't want to take the time to solve the problems yourself:
Building Thinking Skills Book 2 Lesson Plans and Teacher's Manual
Building Thinking Skills Book 3 Figural Lesson Plans and Teacher's Manual
Building Thinking Skills Book 3 Verbal Lesson Plans and Teacher's Manual
Critical Thinking is a course in practical logic for high school or advanced middle school. Through studying newspapers, speeches, and advertisements it covers basic concepts of logic, common errors in reasoning and how to discern them, and applying logic to everyday problems. These are the best of the best of the critical thinking products out there. Critical Thinking Book 1 and Critical Thinking Book 1Teacher’s Manual or Critical Thinking Book 2 and Critical Thinking Book 2 Teacher’s Manual. It's best to start with Book 1 and then move into Book 2.
Endangered Minds by Jane Healy. This book clearly explains how certain ways of thinking actually prepare children for learning or for failure depending on the neural pathways they have developed in early childhood. A significant book with many insights about how we can give our children the thinking skills necessary to learn and to face the challenges of everyday life.
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