In 2015, I committed to a project and series for my blog called Teach Them Diligently. It was a way to keep myself accountable to teaching and training our kids in good habits and building not only their confidence, but also a way to move them toward intentional independence. We all enjoyed the process. Here were the skills we honed:
January [ironing] || February [the oven] || March [saving] || April [safety]
May [purging] || June [written correspondence] || July [cleaning the bathroom]
August [planning] || September [shopping on a budget] || October [rest]
November [reflect] || December [rejoice]
As I am looking ahead to AY 2016-2017, I have felt a renewed outlook on taking back our home school after giving away too much instruction to our co-op last year. It was a great endeavor, but in many ways it did not fit into our overall philosophy of home education.
It was largely an academic co-op. The rigor was good, but our sole focus isn’t simply academic. We are aiming to educate the whole child.
In that spirit, I have been considering and praying about how a few things may look for the Wood Academy of Christian Kids (W.A.C.K.) next year. I am continually evaluating what we are doing, what’s working, what’s not. As my kids’ primary teacher, I get a front row seat to what they need to continue their academic, emotional, social, and spiritual development.
As avid Charlotte Mason’ers, we are no strangers to the value of being out-of-doors. Ms. Mason believed in lots of free time, lots of outdoor exploration, and much physical activity. The bottom line is that last year, we (myself included) did not get enough strenuous physical activity. That has been on the top of my priority list of activities to re-incorporate into this coming school years’ timeline.
Enter: The American Home School Ninja Warrior Experiment #americanhomeschoolninjawarrior
Over the summer, one of our favorite family television shows has been American Ninja Warrior. All five of us are routinely inspired each week as we watch these athletes give their all to completing a demanding physical course.
Not only are these athletes in great physical shape, but also many seem to translate their “can do” attitudes into other areas of mental strength and overall willpower.
This got my proverbial wheels turning.
The inspiration for this project came at one of those times where I lay awake for nearly two hours past midnight thinking through the benefits of incorporating something like this into our weekly rhythm. I worked through logistics, outcomes, and potential fun.
While I am committed to home schooling our kids indefinitely, Ryan and I are ever-prayerful and always open to the timing of when the Lord may call us to put our kids back into traditional schooling. This thought prompted me even further to explore really kicking the fun-factor up a notch.
I never know if this will be our last year home schooling. Our kids are growing and maturing at lightning speed and what is fun this year could very well be The World’s Lamest Idea the next. Timing is everything, and this year, more than ever seemed to present an opportunity for something quite profound.
As each academic year provides a finite opportunity to use our time to help our kids develop, I am always evaluating ways in which to prepare them for the real world. I especially think about a scenario in which Ryan is still serving the Army and we are moving frequently. It is very likely that if and when our children go off to college, it will truly be OFF-TO-COLLEGE, far from us.
It is increasingly important that each has the academic preparation for wherever their dreams and passions may take them. But equally important to us is that our kids are equipped with life skills, independence, a strong faith in God, and a certain aplomb for navigating life’s difficulties.
Are we getting this right at every turn? Maybe not. Are we aiming and trying? You bet!
What could give them more mental and physical confidence than training and pushing themselves toward goals that build strong bodies and equally strong minds?
A few years ago, I trained for and completed (walking) a half-marathon that quite literally took me over a mountain. There was something about finishing that feat that helped to breed courage, determination, fortitude, and grit unlike few things I have done in life.
I could use a little more of that confidence of late and I know it would be good for our kids too. That’s why I have implemented the American Home School Ninja Warrior project for this school year.
It is covering our P.E. in conjunction with Marathon Kids (which we did during our Texas years). It is covering some of our habit training and personal development. I love it when one stone kills a few birds.
There is so much I think I am going to love about this little project. Here are just a few of the benefits and outcomes I anticipate:
- regular, rigorous exercise outside (rain, shine, sleet, or snow)
- stronger muscles, stronger minds, stronger mettle
- reinforced sibling relationships based on friendly competition AND cheering one another on towards success/completion of courses
- accountability to ourselves to get up early two mornings a week to “train” at the local playground and park
- chances to make good nutritional choices and see the connections between our diets and our health
- an opportunity to keep our God-given bodies healthy and in shape so that we may better serve God and others
- a format that does not include a gym membership, a set time for a traditional P.E. class, and ninja-courses that are only limited by our imaginations
- confidence in our kids that they can push through mild discomforts of life to “finish the course” (a lesson that sometimes needs refreshing in mom as well)
- opportunities to discuss the metaphor of physical training as it relates to life; especially as we anticipate another relocation on the horizon
I plan to update this space regularly with some great pictures of happy and healthy kids. I also plan to update some of the bigger lessons we all hope to learn through this process.
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” [I Corinthians 6:19-20]
Local or far-away homeschooling friends, we’d love to have you join us on this adventure. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can coordinate!
Stay tuned for a future post where I’ll introduce my awesome team of Home School Ninja Warriors. We all have names and fun Ninja facts we’re dying to share.