Saturday, May 23, 2015

No Summer Blues! A Guide to At-Home Days with Kids


     Do you have the summer motherhood "How will I handle my children home all day" blues? Having a plan is imperative! I don’t know about your family but when we are home without our typical school schedule or a plan, our family turn into lazy, mindless, visionless, whiny, messy, bored, complaining, tv-overloaded people who ask for food all day. It isn't pretty.
    The summer can be overwhelming if you aren't in a routine of children being home more.  But the summer doesn't have to be a bummer! I bring you good news! Happiness can be found! All you have to do is think through how you want the summer to look then make a plan.  I guarantee that everyone enjoys the day more when it isn’t aimless.
    The below schedule is what our days look like when we are home. If we are out part of the day then we just pick right back up when we get home. This is simply our personal example.
Adjust for what you need in your situation since some of you may have to go work or have other circumstances.  
8:00(ish) Get Ready: Wake Up, cartoons (or workout for older kids), breakfast, vitamins, clean kitchen, brush teeth, make beds, get dressed, do hair etc. Having the basics covered allows everyone to be ready for whatever may come for the day! And I feel relief knowing everyone is fed, kitchen is clean, beds are made, and everyone is presentable and yet the kids enjoyed seeing a show when they woke up. Since it’s more relaxed in the summer the thought would be that everyone is ready for the day by 9:30.
9:30 or 10:00 Prime Time. This is a perfect time to do something fun, productive and perhaps new! Do the things children may not have time for during the school year. Gardening, shopping, working out, cleaning, baking, gift-making, visiting friends or running errands are some ideas to use during these couple of hours. Toddlers can do different activities such as art table, room toys, sibling play, video, snack or join you if it works.
 12:00 Lunch, Clean Kitchen, Free time. We eat then everyone does a kitchen job such as sweep floors, clean off and wipe counters, pull out chairs, and help mom with dishes. A little tip during meal time is to play a tape (or CD/IPOD/Phone)and listen to stories. We use older story tapes like GT and the Halo Express, Adventures in Odessy, Dan and Louie etc. with a tape player from Wal-Mart which is a novelty to them. Once eating and cleaning is finished, everyone can do whatever they like for a bit.
1:30 Read together out loud a book (Little ones nap) We choose a book that is one of those “every kid should read books but they don’t unless I read it with them” books. We are currently on Pilgrims Progress kid version. Reading together makes my mama heart happy since I can’t seem to find time for as much reading together during the school year.  May also play more or have computer/electronics time for everyone.)
2:00 Chic Chat Chocolate This time is our Bible time with a theme every month. We sit on a comfy blanket and eat chocolate while talking about scripture and life. It’s my favorite time with the children because it’s all about their heart and walk with the Lord. Summer is a fabulous time to instill values and character while the kids aren’t distracted by school and extra-curricular activities. (Angel naps)
2:30 Rest Time This is my quiet time to do whatever I need to do! Woohoo. And yes, I do sometimes take naps…even when I am not pregnant. Bria and Allison quiet time on beds, Candice and Kelly have personal reading (little ones nap).This time gives everyone a breather from the playing and being together all day.
 3:30 Snack and Clean Bedrooms We get a food boost while watching a PBS show then clean bedrooms. This is a daily job to keep rooms from being overwhelming.
 4:30 Afternoon Work These jobs come from a house list such as clean out car, vacuum, dust, and bath rooms, depending on house needs and day of the week. And it’s a perfect time to teach how to clean if a child needs some training.
5:00 Free Time Because there has been some order to the day, this play time is fresh and they play better together when free time comes.
6:00 Dinner and Kitchen Cleanup
6:45 Free Time This is more time to play with neighbors, watch a family movie, play board games, go out for ice cream, or be outside as a family
8:30 Baths and Showers
9:00 Family Snuggle on our bed all together to pray and chat
9:30 Bedtime This time is later than normal but works great for summer.
     This basic system has caused our summers to be enjoyable on the days we are home because the kids are ready for the day, learning new things, keeping the house clean and yet we still have plenty of time for rest and playing. 

My hope is that you would feel the same as your family is productive while being refreshed without any summer motherhood blues!


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Enjoying Summer with Your Children


      It’s here! Summer celebrations are well under way! Sunshine, vacations, camps, swimming, and family memories have taken the place of school and extra-curricular activities. This time of the year is a unique time of having fun and having free-time for a child. But did you know this can also be a time to make progress in some unique and valuable areas of your child’s life? The weeks of summer can be an ideal for investing in the minds and hearts of your children in ways that the rest of the year may not allow.

               It seems for our family, there isn’t time to do some of the meaningful things we want to do throughout the year that I know my children need. So, I decided we would use the summer to do some things the rest of the year doesn’t allow for due to time. In addition, children are more open to doing things together in summer as there aren’t as many distractions from outside obligations and school needs that crowd their minds.

As you plan out the next 10 weeks or so of your child’s break, consider utilizing time during each day or at least a few times a week to do things that build the child internally. Move into a purpose-driven mindset that makes the best of the extra hours available. These days are gifts to parents as the children are looking for places and people to put their time and energy. This is a unique window of opportunity to guide them in fun yet productive activities. 

Plus, a bonus is that is can also help alleviate summer-time boredom that can lend itself to whiny, lazy, fussy kids that can get into mischief. (Not your kids, of course, but perhaps some kids you know?!)

               There may only be one or two things you will want to choose but if you do that over the years of summer time, by the age the kids leave home you would have accomplished much! The point is to choose things that make the most of the time given.

  1. Choose one book to read aloud and discuss what can be learned from it. Or have the children read on their own and tell you about it over dinner or during a car ride. The important thing is to choose a book that instills values or principles that benefit the child.  
  2. Plant a garden. Even wildflowers can be fun to grow if other flowers or food seems like too much to handle. A garden can teach the value of living things, patience, nurture, and the celebration of growth from something small to full maturity.
  3. Take a morning or evening walk. Listen to nature, stop and take note of neighbors you haven’t had time to interact with, or just chat casually as things come up. For those with little ones, use the stroller so you aren’t in work-mode as you chase tiny tricycles or carry toddlers.
  4. Learn a foreign language. Since there aren’t other subjects filling their minds or calling for homework, a new language or adding to one each summer can be fun for kids, especially if you use the right program or app.
  5. Write letters to relatives or distant friends. Perhaps there are grandparents or great-aunts and uncles, or former school friends and neighbors that don’t get time to see your child that would enjoy a handwritten, personalized card in the mail.
  6. Volunteer at a local organization that could use some help or encouragement. This could be as simple as asking your church, community center or foster care organization if they need any  help with a one-time project or as committed as having your teen assist weekly with a family of many children just to give the mom a breather without having to pay.
  7. Teach homemaking. Most kids know how to unload a dish washer or sweep a floor, but what about teaching (or perhaps learning together) how to build a shelf, organize a garage, change the oil, balance a checkbook, paint a room, sew a button, cook a new meal, or prepare for a yard sale ect. Most likely as parents we would do these on our own but kids and teens would enjoy learning these type things and will be able to use the skills later in life. 
  8. Nurture a new pet. Having a pet can be enjoyable to watch as well as teach responsibility. It could be as easy as a fish (our personal favorite) or as engaging as a new puppy. The summer allows for time to learn how to handle the new addition and set some habits of care into place before school starts back.
  9. Invest in others. All around us there are people who are in need of a caring relationship. Whether it’s a sick neighbor, an elderly person at the nursing home, a special-needs child from school, a family that just moved to town, a young mom with a new baby, or a foster teenager that is aging out of the system, taking time to call, enjoy a meal, give a gift, run errands or take somewhere can be just the encouragement they need. Summer is a wonderful season for relationships.  
  10. Build Character. The relaxed times of summer can lead to some of the greatest conversations about decision-making, friends, media, life direction, sibling love, peer pressure ect. There may even be some personal goals such as boundaries with food, being mature in proper settings, talking with an “inside voice”, building self-esteem or other skills that your child needs to learn but there hasn’t been the opportunity. These weeks are ideal for readjusting behaviors and teaching your insights for life character traits.

Enjoy these days! Even if you have to forget every idea listed above and just have no agenda or maybe have a chaotic crazy summer, take in those extra mama moments! Make some lemonade and embrace these few weeks doing whatever it is you want to do while you have some extra moments to invest in their hearts and minds!


Mealtime Satisfaction

      It came on suddenly. Just ten days after my wedding reality hit: My husband wanted to eat every day AND he thought I would be providing the food! Me. Not his mama. Not the school cafeteria. Not the fast food places. The non-cooking girl who was so busy doing other things that she never learned how to cook is supposed to provide meals. The flash of shock was soon sobered when I realized that I was hungry too.
    And to add to the situation, we started having children before I truly conquered cooking so then I was dealing with not only what to make but also how to avoid chaos at the table. I had idealistic images in my mind of happy, thankful children gathered peacefully around the table while their parents shared life insights for 30 minutes. But all I saw in front of me were wriggly, talkative, complaining, fast-eating little people that made big messes and weren’t ready for meaningful conversation. This is not what I had envisioned with delicious meals and well-mannered children.
     So, I decided to do what any sensible woman would do...I cried a lot then I chose to conquer this thing called mealtime. In my journey to fight hunger and attain happiness in the home, there are two chicken nuggets of insight I want to pass on for those who need them:

1. Make a Simple Meal Plan with 10 Dinner Recipes. All you have to do is learn ten dinner meals to the best of your ability and use them over two weeks. Choose five categories and two meals for each category. For example, two meals that are American, two meals that are Italian, two meals that are Mexican, two meals that are crockpot, and two meals that are hearty soup/salad/bread. Voila. These will carry you for five nights a week for two weeks. The other two nights a week are for pizza, dates, or carryout. (And, of course, the ever-rewarding backup of “cereal night” is a lifesaver if you get in a pinch.)
     Pick whatever your heart desires! Choose according to 
your family's needs and time. Go online. Look at cooking 
books. Ask friends. Just focus on learning 10 main meals. Once you have this down, you are set. No need to think of 365 dinner plans. Just rotate 10. And when life changes and you are in another season with more time, you can add to your list. But for now, there is a set rotating plan with delicious food you made five nights a week.
     And what about breakfast, lunch, and snacks? These are easier to figure out. You can rotate those every week. For instance, every Monday for us is oatmeal and boiled eggs for breakfast. Cream cheese/jam wraps are for lunch with carrots and ranch, chips and applesauce. And snack is a granola bar. The same goes on for the other days of the week. Breakfast, lunch and snack are the same on certain days every week while dinner rotates every two weeks. After years of this plan, nobody has become bored and I can rest assured breakfast, lunch and dinner are covered!

2. Make Mealtime a Priority. Mealtime is primetime! One of my favorite poems is by family activist Nancy Campbell that implores, “Where can you communicate while you eat? Where can you enjoy real fellowship sweet? Where can you laugh with friends who are neat? At the table…Where can your children learn to sit still? Acquire eating habits that won’t make them ill? Be taught good manners of which some have nil? At the table…” All this and more unfolds at the table together.
     Once mealtime was determined to be an integral part of my family, the manners and methods followed. If there is school, work, or extra-curricular activities during dinner then we make plans for other meals such as lunch or breakfast together. At the very least, we look at the weekly calendar and find at least 3 mealtimes we are all together. It literally took our family a few years to conquer table time. But the optimistic side to that is while there isn’t perfection, we do enjoy meals now.
Some practical things we do to bring peace around the plates are as follows:

  1. Create a comfortable atmosphere with lighting, place settings, and music 
  2. Wait to eat until all have joined the table then give genuine thanks for the food
  3. Have adults make their plates first then have the older kids make the younger kids’ plates
  4. Consider having a minute or two of the silent game so everyone can calm down and prepare to eat peacefully
  5. Set the first few minutes for the adults to chat and the kids to listen while they eat
  6. Train for manners but do not use meals to lecture or bring up conflict (that would make anyone sick!)
  7. Ask meaningful conversation questions and have everyone listen to the answers
  8. Plan to have everyone stay at the table at least 20 minutes (although there are times I allow the toddler or baby to color or play so the rest can finish the meal).
  9. Make sure the seats are comfortable for little ones. This helps cut back on the wriggles.
  10. Have a dinner helper that gets up and down so mom doesn’t do all the work

     Yes, learning a simple meal plan and prioritizing dinner has warded off hunger and added happiness to the buffet of life in the Gibbons home.  So if you crave the same in your house, just take it one bite, or rather, one night at a time and soon you will be satisfied!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Health Updates from the Family


Hello friends and family! Thank you for taking time to pause and connect with our family update on some of the ongoing health issues. Many of you have asked how their situations are going at this point. We truly appreciate your genuine care and concern. While the past ten years of countless doctor appointments have cost us countless dollars, I would have to agree with William Shakespeare by saying, "I am wealthy in my friends". Your encouragement as friends is priceless! 

So, without further ado, here is the good news update! 

1. Jordan was born with a hemangioma mass behind his eye. This is a rare place for one to occur as most are not internal nor are placed behind the eye. This unique issue would have caused him to be blind by 10 months because of its location between the eye and the brain. Thankfully, there is no surgery needed. He is on blood pressure medicine which has caused the mass to shrink and he will be completely fine long term. His medicine is down to two doses a day and the doctor's plan is to have him off all medicine in the next 6 months. God has brought us so far with him! He is sleeping more and much happier these days! 

2. Allison (pictured with Dr.Fischer, April 2015 ) has had 129 fever/vomiting/joint pain/headache episodes over the past three years. After much research, the Mayo Clinic has diagnosed her with a rare genetic autoimmune disease called "Hyper Ig-D Syndrome". (For those of you who enjoy research, here is a link on more info: http://www.nomidalliance.org/hids.php) Interestingly, she also has a rare form of the rare disease. So she is a"rare-rare" case. Basically, outside of a miracle, we cannot stop the episodes. We can treat each one with steroids to minimize the symptoms, but otherwise, this is something we will have to face for the next several years. 

Thankfully, long term, she would outgrow the challenges by adulthood. In the mean time, because the episodes are painful and hard on her body, we will have to pace her to avoid as many as we can. The most common triggers for episodes are viruses and stress as her body goes into a hyper-attack mode to kill off anything working against the body. We are praying for wisdom on how to allow her to enjoy life and yet still be smart in how she does life. In addition, there are still more answers we are looking for which will come in time in regards to her lack of weight gain (her BMI is 3%...didn't get that from me!) and her hunger issues. Keep praying with us but we are thankful we are on the right track! 


3. Candice continues to grow in how to handle her diagnosis from this time last year at the Mayo Clinic of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). The following article gives an exact glimpse into how this condition affects life and how to treat it. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/18/health/18brody.html?_r=0 For years we were unsure of why she struggled with being upright, heat, feeling faint, exhaustion, sweating and having chills. However, after 5 years of tests, appointments, and treatments we were relieved to find an answer. We were especially thankful we could treat it with salt, rigorous exercise, and high water intake with some other minor lifestyle adjustments. Over time, this too will heal and in adulthood should not be an issue. Again, God has gone before us! 


4. It has been one year since Scotty completed the Mayo Clinic Pain Management Program (picture is with some of the staff there in MN) and has been off all medicine completely. What a challenging journey of 21 years in pain after a college football injury requiring 4 back surgeries but we are seeing healing progress! He is able to do much more than before including exercise and endurance for the work day and preaching. Although he still deals with chronic pain especially at night, we are believing the Lord will continue to heal as He has this past year. He is feeling stronger each month and there are no more medicine side effects to deal with in life. We are SO thankful to see improvement! 

So that's the latest! Again, thank you for being friends that care enough to pray with us and send your encouragement. Our God is faithful...in every trial He is with us! We are praising Him for so many blessings towards healing. Some people are healed immediately while others are promised that God will give them the strength to handle it. For anyone else facing the need of healing, this verse is our heart for you:

3 John 1:2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and that your body may keep well, even as I know your soul keeps well and prospers! 





Monday, May 18, 2015

Leading Girls in Summer Ministry - A Post for Youth Leaders


I can still feel the excitement of the arrival of summer when I was a teenager. The school load was lifting, the sun was shining and I was ready for whatever may come my way! I knew I had 12 weeks to use my time and energy for friends, sleeping, vacation and perhaps some place to make money. But most of all, I would look for a place to be involved that was beyond myself. I was ready to be a part of a mission’s trip, small group volunteering opportunity and church-wide outreach. Summer was a perfect time to do ministry!
The teens in your life most likely feel the same way. They are thrilled to enjoy the freedom of summer and yet are searching for a place to use their lives to help others through outreach. While this is a time for routines to be relaxed, it is also prime time for your students to get involved in ministry. Here are some ways to encourage your girls to be a part of all God has for them this summer:

  1.  Communicate with them Never assume the students know what is going on. Take time to let the girls know what is available with your girls group, youth group or church. A text, phone call, conversation in the hallway, email invite, or message on social media can be just what is needed for the girls to know what is happening and that they are invited to be a part of the ministry event. Sometimes teens need many reminders! As a teen, I could sit through a whole announcement and somehow my mind would be somewhere else and I missed what was going on. That extra communication from you will assure that the girls know the upcoming outreaches.
  2. Cheer them on Just because it’s on the calendar doesn’t mean the girls will want to go. That’s where we come in as leaders to cheer them on! I can fondly remember my youth leader telling me, “I am counting on you being there, Casey! It won’t be the same without you.” It took my decision to go to a whole new level as I chose to be a part. Let girls know their participation is important for the ministry to be effective. Show them how their gift set can be used and why it’s beneficial for their growth in the Lord. They may also need some assistance in making the outreach a priority with their schedule. Cheering them on encourages them to see it as a valuable way to invest their time.
  3. Connect with them After the girls know what they can be involved in and are encouraged to help, having you there with them is the best part! There is something special about working together for a ministry project. The time, prayers, and hard work together-moments are things teens will never forget. My favorite memories are not only the tasks of ministry but the people who were a part of it with me. It deeply impacted my life to see my leaders not only lead up front but to also serve alongside of me in the details. And if you are unable to join them at all the events, connect with them afterwards to hear all about their experience. Just showing you care about what they did and how it went can be of value.

         The next several weeks can be memorable for you and your girls to make an impact. Help teens embrace the opportunities to live beyond themselves in excitement and fun with some summer ministry!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Liking the Daughter You Love

     


     Raising a girl can be a blessing and a challenge all at once. Girls can be enjoyable and yet so difficult at times. As I think about raising daughters, lines from the song “Maria” in the classic movie The Sound of Music come to mind. “…She is gentle! She is wild! She's a riddle! She's a child! She's a headache! She's an angel! She's a GIRL!” Girls are so lovable and yet not always likable. 

     As a mother of five daughters, I certainly love them all deeply and unconditionally. But it didn’t take long to realize I didn’t necessarily always like them. For instance, one of my girls talks excessively. This little one reminds me of the continued “Maria” lyrics, “When I'm with her I'm confused, out of focus and bemused and I never know exactly where I am…” while another daughter is highly emotional and “Unpredictable as weather, she's as flighty as a feather…” The other three deal with everything from hyperactivity, “how do you make her stay, and listen to all you say…” to overly opinionated, “many a thing you know you ought to tell her…” to stubbornness “…many a think she ought to understand.
    So, assuming there may be another mother out there that has admitted she doesn’t always like her daughter, here are a couple of things that are helping me on this journey of liking my lovables. First off, choose to like her. The story of old “Mr. Jones” comes to mind. After his wife passed away, Mr. Jones needed to move into a nursing facility. Upon arrival, the nurse walked him down the hall on his way to his room. She said, “Mr. Jones, we have prepared the room for you and we will see how things are when you get there.” He answered, “I already like it!” “But you haven’t seen it.” “No, but I have decided that I will like it!” And we can do the same as mothers. We can decide to have the attitude of accepting our children no matter what. This resolve can drive us steadily forward through the challenges that may lie ahead. I am determined to like my girls.
     Secondly, remind yourself how undesirable you have been. I can think of dozens of my behaviors that weren’t what they should have been. I don’t even know how my dear mother made it through all my questions in elementary school, my emotions in junior high, and my dominating attitude in high school. Furthermore, as an adult, I still have moments of less-than-admirable actions. None of us are completely likeable at all times. This very thought causes me to give grace to my daughters. And just as most of us know when we are being unacceptable, our children may be in tune with their own awareness of their behaviors yet may not be mature enough to know how to handle it or stop.     This leads to a third step of taking time to communicate in order to work through issues. While it is necessary to decide to like our girls and beneficial to remind our self of our own shortcomings, this doesn’t mean we just move on and let things go as they are. In fact, this is a prime time to face the issues at hand in order to gain understanding. Listen. Ask questions. Engage with her emotions. Then, share your feelings and thoughts so that she can see how her actions are affecting others and how she can improve. Sometimes we need to confront the unlikeable as we lead our girls. It may take time and several attempts but they are listening and most girls do want to know how they can be the best they can be.
  In fact, my mom and I had a talk like this just a few years. She and I were frustrated with each other. So, we talked it out. It took three hours and many tears to work through how she thought I was controlling and I thought she was careless but it worked. We both ended it feeling understood. And we also knew we both had things to work to improve.
     Finally, when all has been done, think outside your own personality. Sometimes we just don’t like our daughter because she has a different personality. There are some things about girls that are a part of who they are! I am amazed at how my five girls can all be born within seven years and each can be so unique! I have had to accept that while some things need to be changed, there are other things that are just personality.
    For example, one night I burned the rice at dinner but served it anyway to see if anyone noticed. Well, they did. And each one had a comment. My oldest said logically, “Mom, the rice is burnt because you got distracted with laundry.” My second girl responded, “Yes, but its okay because we all make mistakes, mom, and I still love you.” The next one wasted no time and spit out the food while saying, “Yuck! That is terrible!” Her younger sister took note and said, “Thanks for making it mom but I am NOT even going to taste it!” And of course, my toddler just played with the rice happily. It was just a matter of their personalities. Sometimes, it’s just easy and fun celebrating who they are and how they see life!
     Overall, learning to like the daughter you love may feel like the ending words of the “Maria” song that ask, “How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?” but I believe we can. We can like them as we do all we know to do then simply embrace the fact that, like us, “She’s a GIRL!”


Also published in Paradise Valley Lifestyle Magazine






Sunday, May 10, 2015

Goals for Ages 3-5 yrs old.


          When we had the first four children in four years, my mind was always racing to remember which child needed to learn what thing. It was mindboggling to keep track only to realize one had not learned something they should have by a certain point. With all the training and teaching going on, I was just happy they were fed and clean by the end of most days. But there is more that needs to be learned in those first five years.


      So as some of you have asked, we are sharing the list of important things we wanted our girls to know and do between the ages of 3-5. This list allowed me to keep track of where each girl was and who needed to learn other things. 


     They are divided into 5 Categories that we implement every day for some through guided life learning and other days when we do "school time" which is approximately 3-4 days a week. 

 All these goals can be taught through basic simple teaching, games, books, dvds, car rides, Cds, and lots of talking. Plus, depending on when you start kindergarten, you have two to three years to teach it all so that takes the stress off of cramming it in their little heads in a year.

      On that noteconsider starting kindergarten as close to age 6 as possible. I say this for a couple of crucial reasons. First, when they enter kindergarten closer to age 6 they have had more time to develop emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

     When they are on the "older side" of kids in the class they can have the experience of leadership to the classmates because they are ahead. Just think of the joy of being one of the first kindergarten kids to lose a tooth, or to be a fifth grader with cool braces, a junior high sports boy with a year ahead in height and strength, a mature freshman girl that is out of the awkward stage, or being one of the first friends to drive and have a job. In addition, their hearts have had time to grow in the Lord and they are able to make solid decisions with wisdom and knowledge that time gives.

     Secondly, when you start later, the child is home longer on the back end of high school before leaving for work, college, or marriage. A year can make a difference when entering the adult world. And by those years we want every second we can get with our kids before they are grown and gone!

     Although a child may be ready for kindergarten schoolwork that doesn't mean you have to send them. Go ahead and have them do some older work at home but consider waiting to place them in kindergarten at church class or school class until closer to age 6. This is a precious time to bond and enjoy a stage with your child as much as possible. Honestly, I would rather have my toddlers go to preschool a few times a week than my 5-6 year olds leave. They are easier and so much fun to do everyday life with by the time they are out of the "I walk around and get into stuff in dangerous ways" stage!

     And if you have already started your little one and this info is too late, perhaps the Lord will lead you to make the courageous decision to hold your child back a year to repeat or to just take a year off. My mom had to make this choice with my brother when he was in the second grade. He turned 7 in September and started second grade but she felt it was best to hold him back. He thrived socially and academically far better than the year before which kept on through his high school years.

     For us, our Allison turned 6 in June and we started her in Kindergarten then. She will be 7 in June and starting first grade more mature than those younger students entering that are perhaps just turning 6.

     Just something to think about but God will lead you for what your child needs and it may be different.

     So, back to some ideas to follow as you guide your 3-5 year olds. Here is what we have researched and used in our children: 


1. God -
His love for us, He does good, and He is good. You can learn these through Bible stories (read from Story Bible book, Dan and Louie Cds), prayer (for anything, anytime, anywhere) and scripture memory. (Steve Green's Hide 'Em in My Heart Cds or otherwise)

2. Others - Receiving love, showing love, manners such as personal hygeine, phone skills, doorbell responses, key phrases (thank you, bless you, you're welcome, please), how to behave in quiet settings (such as weddings, meetings, church). 

3. Play -
Lots of open imagination time, some directed time, playing with others


4. Work -
Why we work (to carry out God's purposes on earth) and how we work (with excellence unto the Lord)



5. Education - Safety Skills (calling 911, what to do when lost, water safety, strangers), 7 Keys to Health (Water, Rest, Exercise, Vitamins, Healthy food, Massage, and Clean Hands away from the face), Personal Information (names of family members, phone numbers, address), Colors, Shapes, Letters  Counting to 100, Parts of the Body, Handwriting (letter formation, name, upper and lower case, keeping it in a straight line, and spacing), Calendars (days, months, seasons), Workbook Pages (fun books from local store with some cognitive work pages).

          This is a list to plan for and give guidance but don't stress when its not all done perfectly. If you do a bit by bit over the 3,4,5 years it will all come together! I hope that this list is a help to you as you lead your little ones in the way and timing the Lord tells you is best for your family!