Published here with permission from The MOORE FOUNDATION dated 1/9/97

The Moore Foundation, Box 1, Camas, WA 98607

Control Without Stress
by Ellen Dana

Mothers of 5- to 8-year-old children often call with concerns regarding how to teach their still-blossoming students without causing harm to their delicate nervous and physical systems, yet remain in control of the program. When the child slumps at the sight of a phonics book, or shakes his head when math is mentioned, what should you do?

Somewhere there must be a happy medium between allowing your child to "call the shots" and damaging his immature nervous system and eyes. There is! Consider these principles:

1. You are in control of the daily structure of the home. Nothing wrong with that kind of structure or scheduling. You and your children will be happier if all know when to expect breakfast, work time, play time, rest time, story time, and bedtime. That schedule will include the children. Mom is not the servant of the family. She is the facilitator. Laying responsibilities on the children and enlisting their help, even in enough work that they feel tired, will not hurt them. "The sleep of a laboring man (or child) is sweet." Of course, the work will be assigned (and sometimes chosen) by the parent or child, in accordance with his strength, age, and maturity. So you have a right to insist that each one does his part cheerfully and "heartily, as unto the Lord."

2. You have been reading to your children since birth. Your "school" program now will include as much or more reading, only now you will pay more attention to the content of the reading and make sure that some of the subject matter falls into the "school-type" categories of science, history, and Bible. They have always loved to be read to; it will not damage them to vary the subject matter.

3. You have always enjoyed doing things and making things with your kids. Now you will have "school" helps that will give you specific ideas, patterns, and projects to do with the children. Together you will cut, color, paste, pound, and glue all kinds of things. The kids don't need to sit at a desk to do it. They can stand at the table or sit on the floor--whatever is comfortable. They can move when they need to, to allow growing muscles and bones a chance to exercise. The suggested projects may not always please a child who has gotten into the habit of making all the decisions for his creativity. You won't squelch his creativity to ask him to do certain ones with you for a specific purpose. Remind him that he can do it a little differently, or choose his own activity during his free play time later in the day. If he is accustomed to whining about every activity you suggest, you may need to give a reward for no whining for awhile to help him extinguish an unwanted habit.

4. You have always watched for opportunities to teach math principles--in the kitchen, in the car, in the yard--wherever you were. You will continue to do these things, but now you have the option of using Cuisennaire rods, dominoes (Pre-Math-It), or even felts (Fun at the Beach), to make sure your student understands math thoroughly. You might even make real problems based on the adding and subtracting the child shows with the manipulatives. He may take the cue and do the same, especially if he likes to write numbers and doesn't feel it is stressful. He might even enjoy doing a few problems in a workbook. Don't be surprised if he isn't thrilled about that kind of math.

5. Making sure the child learns to read concerns many people, though when you read The Moore Formula and the Moores' books, you realize that there is much more to education than the three R's. Remember that God gave Johnny and Susie a mom and a dad to read to them so they don't have to read right away. Let them know the sounds of letters (and groups of letters), and as you read, stop occasionally to let them sound out a word, or simply read it. Keep them close to you; when you notice body tenseness, back off! They're not ready for much of this yet. What they should learn at 6 or 7 may be different from what you or the school system has decided. They want to learn about the world around them. Don't be guilty of squashing learning. As one seven-year-old put it--"I think my science has really gone downhill since my mind has gotten so filled with words." Even our Game Way to Phonics and Reading, or Easy Steps to Language should be put back on the shelf if the child does not respond positively to the games.

6. How about writing? Does your little homeschooler really need to write? Since he's not one in a pack of 28 students the teacher must hear from each day, why not let him tell you what he knows? You can include some writing, if he is interested, but let the big muscles do the work--in the yard on the ground, in the sand at the seashore, or in cornmeal in the bottom of a baking pan.

7. Remember that books are your servants, not your taskmaster. You're not finishing books, you're finishing children! Every problem on every page need not be completed.

We trust this will help you find the delicate balance that enables you to experience a productive learning environment with a relaxed, happy school year. Remember that we're here to help with counsel and encouragement. We're a letter or phone call away!

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