Karen B. taught an excellent class on knowing our children and how to effectively work with our children to achieve their potential. She started the class by reading from Elder Ballard’s April 2008 general conference talk about women, “Daughters of God”.
I remember when listening to this talk initially, I knew I would need to read it again and again. But then life happened and I hadn’t read it again until just now. (I highly recommend your reading it too!) One thing that really caught my ear as Karen read quotes from this talk was this,
“I am impressed by countless mothers who have learned how important it is to focus on the things that can only be done in a particular season of life. If a child lives with parents for 18 or 19 years, that span is only one-fourth of a parent’s life. And the most formative time of all, the early years in a child’s life, represent less than one-tenth of a parent’s normal life. It is crucial to focus on our children for the short time we have them with us and seek, with the help of the Lord, to teach them all we can before they leave our homes.” (M. Russell Ballard, “Daughters of God,” Ensign, May 2008, 108–10)
That is so true! With that perspective, I can focus on what is most important now and still have time in my life to do those other things on the not-so-high-of-a-priority list later in my life!
So, focusing on my kids. . . Karen gave some good tips. She highly recommended PBS.org. Go to the parent section. There is a wealth of information and helps available. We concentrated on developmental milestones. Karen gave us a handout with milestones from University of Michigan. The church also has a great list of what to expect and suggestions at each age.
Karen puts together a notebook for each of her kids. She includes a list of appropriate milestones for the child’s age. She also includes a chart listing the child’s “strengths,” their “reinforcements” (rewards that work for that child), “areas of focus” (a.k.a. weaknesses, but no one likes to see their weaknesses spelled out on paper), and “notes.” She can also put any thing else she needs to in the notebook.
With this information readily available, she is able to take an active role in the upbringing of her children. She knows when they are developing as they should and is able to recognize areas of concern quickly. These notebooks are also good for Dad to get a quick glimpse of his children’s lives.
Karen also makes a list of responsibilities (a.k.a. chores) that her children need to do in the morning before they can have their rewards, such as computer time, TV, trampoline, etc. (Those rewards are often the same as the reinforcements on the above mentioned chart.)
Karen keeps in mind the areas of focus as she parents. One child needs to work on handwriting, so Karen will encourage the child to write to cousins–a great idea anyway and it helps the handwriting without even mentioning it’s an exercise.
Karen takes her kids on fieldtrips–a lot of fieldtrips! She said she likes to do one to two a week! But before I could get really nervous about considering that option with my kids, she explained that some of these fieldtrips are to Albertson’s. She has one child putting together a dinner menu on a budget and another child is responsible for finding a food for each food group. Other fieldtrips ideas are walking along the river (she said that there is an exotic animal farm with llamas, ostriches, and two camels!), Dion’s Pizza tours, Albertson’s bakery (they have tours too), and of course all the museums. Firehouses and police departments also give tours! Use your imagination!
Karen gave the great idea of using the talents of our fellow sisters–quilting, learning about homing pigeons, art appreciation, computer skills, etc! Maybe they would be willing to teach a class about their hobby to our kids.
When planning for the summer, Karen sits down with her kids and they work together. She asks her kids what things they would like to do this summer that are free. They make a list. Then she asks what is one thing they would like that costs money. And then she asks what projects need to be done. All of these things are considered and plans are put on the calendar.
When calendaring, they first put church responsibilities and family events, like FHE and other activities. Then they can fill the calendar with the other things in their life. This way, the important items are not lost in the busy-ness of life.
Karen pointed out that it is very important to FOLLOW THROUGH on what you plan to do. This is so important in building trust with your children. This is even more important with young children so that they will be able to trust you when teenagers. So, if you don’t really intend to do it, or if you really won’t be able to do it, don’t put it on the calendar!
I really enjoyed this lesson! It was what I needed to hear. Thank you so much Karen! Just so you know, I made cookies with my boys today. And I didn’t even get upset when one of them accidentally flicked flour all over the kitchen!