Homeschool To Do List, Part 5: Learn to Communicate — or Salty Kids

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Salt Shakers 003
When Mother was a young woman, she began collecting salt and pepper shakers. Here is most of her collection.

Back in March I began to share with you My Homeschool To Do List, which included goals and objectives that Ray and I chose for our children. I was a little hesitant to share them because I was afraid that, even though my purpose was to help you lay down your sack of homeschool burdens, the objectives might seem overwhelming. If there is one thing I don’t want to do, it’s to put another rock in your sack!

Many (maybe all) homeschooling mamas worry that they aren’t covering everything. Let me repeat a little secret I have shared before: you can’t cover everything. The universe is everything. How can you cover it? You might as well get over it!

Though you can’t cover everything, you CAN count everything. Grasping the concept of counting everything was one more step in my laying down my sack of homeschooling rocks.

Let me share some ideas about “counting everything” in relation to one of Ray’s and my objectives for our children:

Learn to communicate.

In American schools children study a course we call English. Christians have a much more noble reason to learn to communicate and to teach our children to communicate than just completing course requirements in English. Communication is a way to connect to God and to the people around us. We want our children to be truthful and effective communicators, both verbally and in written form. We want to nurture children who:

  • Listen well.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Encourage others.
  • Express gratitude.
  • Praise God.
  • Share the Gospel.

We want people to be able to read our children’s handwriting. We want their grammar never to embarrass them (or us!). There are many ways to reach these worthy goals. Studying grammar is important. We did that, but not every year. Reading great literature is also important. We did lots more of that than grammar. We gave our children ample time to read for pleasure and we also required them to read certain books. We even required them to read a certain number of books in the summer when we weren’t homeschooling — our own summer reading program, so to speak.

Another way we helped our children learn to communicate was by requiring them to keep journals. I firmly believe that this requirement was a gift, even though they may not have thought of it that way sometimes. A written record of their growing up years in their own words — now that’s a gift.

When a friend visited us for a couple of days a little while back. Mary Evelyn and Nate invited us all to their house for dinner. As we visited in the kitchen while we were washing up, Ray mentioned that he wishes he had a record of his childhood. I wish I had one, too. We have memories and pictures, but how precious it would be if we had journals from those years.

Forming the habit of letter writing is also a gift to our children. What a blessing to learn to keep in touch with people in other places who are important to them. I enjoy and appreciate texts and emails very much, but a real snail mail envelope with a surprise letter inside is extra-special.

When our children were teenagers, they learned to communicate Biblical messages. John led devotionals. Bethany and Mary Evelyn prepared lessons to teach to children’s Bible classes. Working through what to say and how to get that across to others was a great exercise in communication.

We gave our children opportunities to communicate verbally with young children, with people their own ages, with college students, and with adults of all ages.

  • They talked with people we invited into our home for get-togethers and parties.
  • They communicated with others while they were volunteering.
  • When we lived in Illinois, our children prepared a puppet show and performed it for our senior citizens group at church.
  • When they were older and we had moved back home to Tennessee, we took our children along and went on trips with the senior citizens group at our new church.

So, how do you fit all of this in and homeschool, too? When we made homeschooling who we were instead of something we strapped on our backs like a big sack full of burdens, we learned that “all of this” is homeschooling — well, part of it anyway.

If you can’t cover everything, then it’s essential to cover what is most important. I think learning to communicate well is one of those most important things.

Let your speech always be with grace,
as though seasoned with salt,
so that you will know
how you should respond to each person.
Colossians 4:6 

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  1. Such a wonderful philosophy, Charlene! I’m grateful that our counselor at Moore Academy started us on this same homeschooling philosophy very early in our journey. I remember that our then-budding photographer saved her chore money and purchased a very good Canon Rebel, which she brought along to document our family trip to Washington DC, Jamestown, Mt. Vernon, Colonial Williamsburg, etc. With journals and photos, we covered history, geography, writing, reading, photography, and more!

    Along with all your suggestions on communication, we also added phone etiquette and research. I would encourage the children to answer the phone properly, take messages, and relay them. When they needed to know how much postage to put on a letter overseas, they were required to weigh and measure the letter, then call the post office and relay this info and ask for what they needed. They gained communication skills, along with confidence in being able to research and to talk to people.

    One more thing…thanks for extending your free shipping offer to readers! I hope to take advantage of that before the month’s end!