September 12, 2012

scripture time!! we are doing it.

scripture time.
remember this is 6:30 in the morning, so they are all still tired!
this summer i've been reading some books by homeschooling mothers.
not because i want to homeschool, but because i want to know how they do it.
how do other large families run?
i read one book, Large Family Logistics, and was impressed.
she is very organized, has themed days of the week, runs a pretty tight schedule, is very Christian, has a farm and has lots of kids.
her life sounds dreamy and similar but very different from mine.
that book made me want to have a farm and homeschool, just like reading Little House on the Prairie does.
but, this is not my path in life.

a friend of mine [who writes the blog- chocolate on my cranium] said that she didn't learn much from that book.
she was already doing things just like the lady described.
AND, everyone she knew did things this way too.
??!! what??!!  i don't know ANYONE like this.
except Michelle Duggar on 19 and counting.

i found out something.
my kids do WAY less work than these families do.
and, i am WAY more permissive than these mothers are.
{truthfully, i think my kids work hard and i also think that i'm pretty strict...}

i LOVE the perspective that other families bring to my life.
it helps me to feel better about what i am asking my family to do.
and, it helps me reevaluate some things.
i like the balance that my family has.
BUT-- i did need to change some things.
I started with SCRIPTURE TIME.
our scripture time had morphed into scripture lounging, playing, corralling of wild horses, time of day.
children listening sometimes, playing and laughing other times, and parents trying to fit in a small ounce of devotion into the morning.
it was planned for Monday through Friday, but was probably achieved only 3 or 4 times a week.
casual was the name of the game.
things are still casual-- but my focus is shifted.
i believe scripture time is a time for reverence, obedience and pondering.
i had focused much on the FEELING, but i had missed an important ingredient.
it is important that i teach my children to happily obey.
scripture time is GREAT practice!!
the beginning of the school year is a great time to move up a grade.
i'm sharing with you the changes we made and HOW we changed...
i'm not saying your scripture time should look like ours-- just giving you another example to have in your hat.
It is IMPORTANT for children to learn to sit quietly for a time during the day.
I spend much time entertaining my children and trying to make things fun.
(that IS something good that i do, but it is OK for me to expect just plain compliance sometimes.  even when it might be boring.)
we did a major REVAMP of scripture time.
having a REVERENT scripture time is ESSENTIAL for having children who behave well at school and can sit quietly at church or Sunday school.
it is GOOD for children to learn to sit in their seat, take turns reading, and follow directions.
we did this before-- but, after reading how some other families operate, i have UPPED my game and my expectations.
my kids are age 13,12,10,9,6,4 and 1.  they can ALL sit for 30 minutes a day.

Our Routine.
We start by calling everyone to scripture time (at 6:30am).  They come dressed for school and bring their baskets (see below).
They sit on the couches in the living room and we talk about our schedule (i have a big paper calendar that i have written their events on.)
We recite a memorized quote or scripture if we have one.
We go from youngest to oldest reading from one or two verses of scripture each.
We read a whole chapter.
Then we sing a few songs for eve-- itsy bitsy spider, hokey pokey, if your happy and you know it, and some songs from church.  SO FUN!!
We kneel to pray, todd calls on someone to pray.
And we say our family cheer, "family, forever!  family, forever!  DOOOO GOOD!"
we end with a big family hug, that usually ends with someone crying because the older boys were too rough.
(just keeping it honest.)

2.  read EVERY DAY!
i am not a fan of consistency.  (you know that.)
i like to change things up-- read book of mormon, change to bible, memorize scriptures, sing hymns and scriptures that go with them, follow their sunday school lessons, etc, etc.
but, i'm CONVERTING.
consistence and routine are what is BEST for scripture study.
seriously.  i can FEEL it.
and, if i'm loving a routine you know it is inspired.  (Ha!)
THIS is what works BEST for us.
Pick a book of scripture.
COMMIT to read one chaper a day-- NO MATTER WHAT.
Don't skip weekends!!  Don't skip Sundays!!  (In fact, read TWO chapters on Sunday!)
We mark the chapters that we read on our monthly calendar with a heart.
Our goal is to get 100 days in a row.
My friend Amy said the last time her family missed scripture reading was last year on her birthday. 
She said when she woke up the next morning and realized that they had missed SHE CRIED!
Her kids are just as excited about never missing a day as she is.
wow!!  that example inspired me... we are going to be CONSISTENT with this.
and, the funny thing is it is EASIER to be consistent than it was not to be.

I told my kids that story and, my kids are competitive.
They are LOVING our new consistency.
Many times we read in the CAR!!
We have missed some days this summer-- but we are SO MUCH better than we were when i thought a few missed days was OK.
anna was cranky about SOCKS the morning we made our labels.
i think i may have accidentally, and teasingly, called her a weirdo?!  (oops)
i loved the note her sweet father added to the bottom of her label.
i was not a fan of everybody read a verse.
BUT, i have been converted.
we start with lily, todd or i read and she copies line for line.
then we take turns through our whole family until we have finished THE WHOLE CHAPTER.
When i want to go fast and so i just read a whole bunch of verses, my kids get bored and zone out.
When they know there turn is coming, they pay attention more.
There is power in kids being AGENTS.
When they use their agency to read the scriptures, or even repeat the scriptures, they learn a humility and open themselves up to feeling the spirit.
since we have returned to this basic way of having scripture study i can feel a PEACE and REVERENCE in my home that was NOT there before.
i love it!!
4. Playpens?  Caging the baby!!  
many of the ladies i read about have time where they put their baby in a play pen with toys while they are teaching the other children.
that was new to me and a bit extreme.
i'm not a play pen mom...
my BABY is the worst distraction to everyone (myself included) during scripture time.
that seventh child is CONSTANTLY the center of attention.
she has eight people who clap and smile and praise her every moment of the day.
i decided to try out the playpen-- convinced i could make it fun for her.
playpen time was a BIG change.  it was good for a few days to help change things up.
Yes, i did keep the pack and play out for a week while we were formalizing scripture time, but my goal was not to have her in the playpen.
my goal was to teach her to play quietly or look at books and teach the other kids that they CAN NOT play with her for one half hour of the day.
the playpen helped the other kids to understand i was serious about NOT playing with the baby.
she is MINE during scripture time.
i gave her snacks, books, and toys to play with. 
she did great!
5. Baskets.
i made up individual baskets that we keep on our book shelf.  
one per kid.
it has their scriptures and marking pencils, their journals, and other things.
i LOVE the baskets MOST for my younger kids.
i put some paper and pencils in there for them, and a few Friend magazines.
they color their scriptures or in their journal and have things to look at while we are reading.
it keeps them happy and quiet.

Even the baby has a basket!  
Hers is filled with books.
she is learning to sit quietly and play by herself during this time.
i think this will also help her when we go to church-- she is learning there is a time for quiet.

Yup!!  For the first week, i bought brand new, yummy popsicles!
everyone who came quickly, sat nicely and participated respectfully got a great treat afterwards.
if my kids didn't come to scripture time quickly when we called, or got out of their chair, or were sassy, or looked at me wrong (hehe), or played with eve, i would say, "that's one."  
if they got to three they had to sit on a chair and did not get a treat afterwards.
the first two days, we took the best kids to McDonald's for ice cream.
the other kids were shocked.
we had pretty consecutive rewards for great scripture time behavior.
it was summertime and i didn't mind daily popsicles anyway.

i was looking around at our scripture time this morning and i was amazed at how far we've come.
we can actually talk about scriptures because we don't have to spend each morning talking about BEHAVIOR.
it is lovely and RIGHT.

Scripture time is important and a great way to start the morning.
But, this is not a post about the importance of a morning devotional.
this is a post about teaching your children to obey and sit quietly.
{i still have a long journey ahead of me with this one!!}
Honor your Father and Mother is one of the ten commandments.
when you obey the commandments, you are blessed.
my children are blessed when they learn to obey.
AND scripture time is GREAT PRACTICE!!

and, lest you misunderstand-- our scripture times are NOT quiet.
but they are FOCUSED.
as we read, we are able to discuss and ask questions and not focusing on the silly behavior of the kids who are not paying attention.
it is good.

{ugh. my time is up today and this post is hard for me to publish.  i keep thinking that people who read will judge that i am too crazy, religious and strict, or that i think my family is so great and it isn't.  these thoughts make it impossible for me to write anything, and so i'm going to ignore them.  i don't have everything figured out, i'm still climbing every day.  take this as a shout out for teaching your children to behave a little better each day!  teaching is SO important.  and, i'm not finished yet!!}


Lisa said...

this is so great.thank you.i actually pride myself in the fact that I am easy going and unpredictable when it comes to schedules and routines. i like the flexibility and adaptability that it teaches my kids, but I can also see that it could do some damage in certain scripture reading. of course that should be every day! :)

Kristine said...

Your post is very inspirational, kuddos to you for taking a new approach, this comes from a mom of one little one who has this desire deep down in her heart and has to find the courage to just do it. Thanks for posting- keep it up :)

Amy said...

I feel so famous! Thanks for including me in this post. I love reading the scriptures with my kids so much, and I'm glad I'm not the only one! This is a rough world and these little ones will need that spiritual armor. Keep up the good work. I know Heavenly Father has abundantly blessed us for keeping trying. :)

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