Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Apprentices

I went to a home schooling conference over the weekend.  Overall it was a good experience, but not the amazing experience it has been before.  I think one reason is that I've been doing this for a while now and most of the classes were for those just starting out.  Unless they change the format by adding classes for veteran teachers, but who are still learning, I probably won't go back.  Still, for the group on which they focus, they do a good job.  I will share most of my notes on The MotherShip Home Schools, but I will share some with you here.

One class I took was not necessarily about educating at home, but was more about ideas on how to run our homes more effectively and efficiently.  Her name is Rachel Keppner and she writes this blog.  I haven't read any of it, yet, but love the header picture.

I tend to want to take classes from people who have older children.  (I don't think that if your oldest is eight that you have the experience necessary to teach me much.)  I went to this class because she has eleven children and most of them are older than mine.

She presented the absurd idea that our children should be able to run a household before they leave my household.  This is becoming a rather unpopular idea in our society.  Children take care of their bedrooms, their own school work, and other things that belong to them, but they are often so busy outside of the home, that household or family responsibilities are left to the parents.  She pointed out that doing work for the family (others) helps them develop concern for one another, rather than the more selfish taking care of only themselves.

She explained that our homes should be like an apprentice shop with the mother and father serving as masters to the children apprentices.  (And I want my boy to be just as adept in the kitchen as my girls are at changing a flat tire.  No traditional gender rules apply here.)  A good mother should slowly work herself out of a job.

I LOVE THAT IDEA.  Obviously, there are maternal roles that a child can never take, but I hope that by the time my children leave home, they can do everything in the home that I can do.  They should be able to mop a floor and clean a toilet, yes, but they should also know how to bandage a wound, cut hair, check the oil and tire pressure, make a variety of healthy meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, pack a family for camping, fix a leaky faucet, change a dirty diaper, dress a restless one year old, stock a book shelf, and use a sewing machine and a paint brush.  This is aside from educational pursuits.

Having said that, I also need to make sure that I'm not having them do my job.  I have known people from large families who don't want to have children because they feel they already raised their brothers and sisters. If they leave my home with that feeling, than I have failed--even if they can make light and fluffy biscuits.  It is a difficult balance to strike and can only be achieved with constant vigilance and good counsel from the spouse.

One final, more practical tip, that she shared, was about recipes.  She gives her children a simple three-ring binder.  As they learn recipes, they write them in their own recipe book.  I would expand that just a bit.  For instance, my ten year old daughter wants to learn how to make Taco Soup.  I give her my recipe and she copies it into her book.  We make the dinner together the first time.  The second time, she makes the dinner on her own, but I am available to answer questions ('Do I drain the beans?" or "What is 'diced' again?").  By the third time she makes Taco Soup, she can do it on her own.  By the time she leaves home, she has a binder thick with recipes she can make and knows she likes!  What a valuable tool!


  1. You would be interested to hear about my experience watching nine kids for an entire week. With me going to grad school, teaching piano and all of my other little responsibilities one might be wondering why I would take such a job. Well I took it because I knew how the mother ran her household and it fits this blog post perfectly. When she was giving me instructions the mom said, "Joette you will not have to cook, clean or even change a dirty diaper.. your job is simply to supervise." Awesome I thought because I have homework. I was completely impressed with this family. They seriously did everything. I was only given a list of family rules and a very hour by hour schedule. I simply walked into a system and it went surprisingly well. Oldest was 15 youngest was 1. Each day the children 10 an older all had their assigned cooking day where they would cook for the entire family breakfast and dinner!! Every meal was from scratch and they were heartly and simple. There were laundry days assigned. They had a house cleaning hour twice a week where they all had assigned jobs and even one of them was assigned as the supervisor where that child had to inspect the work done by the other children. The mother of this family has beautiful worked her way out of job but more so worked her way into extra time for her and extra time for her to snuggle with the little toddler. Great system!!!

  2. Great ideas. Perhaps I should have gone to that one. The only one I really liked was that last one you recommended to me. It was wonderful to see you, but I'm sad we didn't have more time to chat. Good luck with all your upcoming changes.

  3. Joette forgot to mention that most of those kids had anxiety problems and were a little too grown up for their age- like the night the 9 year old was up all night with the crying 1 year old and finally started to cry "I can't do this anymore, I'm so tired" that is when I think kids should be kids and sleep through the night dang it!

    work work work- we forget that it also builds their self esteem. It teaches them to be concerned for others- but it also makes them believe in themselves at an early stage in life. If they can cook dinner at age 10 they will go in to that hard major- or won't be afraid to start a business or try out for a sport. They will tackle whatever they want because someone believed in them and pushed them to excel.

    My Dad would always yell at me "no you can't, you'll just ruin it!" I think it had a huge impact on me to hear that all the time. Mom didn't say stuff like that- but she admits that she didn't have the patience to teach me how to cook or sew. I had to sneek out of the house at midnight to learn how to ride a motorcycle and stick shift.

    So here I am 31 and I really have no skills. But I try. I keep trying. Some things I am learning together with my girls or from friends. I always say, "man motherhood would be so much easier if half the things I attempt all day were just second nature to me because I learned how to do it at 10 years old" oh well. now what?

    Now I am getting emotional writing this- probably because I feel sorry for myself.

    well I know how to read to my girls and I know how to bear my testimony. I know how to go to the temple. I know how to sing and teach my girls songs. I know how to make them laugh until pee comes streaming down their leg- I know how to have a picnic and I know how to play duck duck goose. I know how to drag them to church every Sunday- they will be ok. Keep trying. keep trying.

  4. I'm so behind on blogging and blog-reading. I knew that I'd love coming back here! Great post. Urban Kid 1 is wanting to be more "grown up" lately. It's neat to see her want to make her own bed and help out. Sadly, I'm fairly useless in the kitchen. But she and my mom are tight, and my mom is a wondeful cook. And now that my mom has more time (life had a lot of single-mom-frantic when i was a kid), I'm hoping that the Urban Kids can absorb more of that knowledge. Neat ideas tonight!