We were so used to meeting deadlines as well as goals set by others when we were enrolled in cyberschools. Now that we’ve decided to follow the Thomas Jefferson Education, we decided to “detox.”
We spent at least 2 months detoxing, starting in December 2012. How did we detox? Here are some of the things we did:
- We limited TV to an hour or two in the evenings.
- We got rid of all the textbooks.
- We turned our old school room into a library.
- We set out the art supplies.
- We set out the board games.
- We got the old gardening tools.
- We said, “No,” to many activities outside the home.
- Turned off the computers.
- The kids played board games for hours on end- they hardly ever had time or inclination to play before. They loved the experience so much that it was hard to get them to stop playing. The little ones (k-2) improved their math and reading skills because they needed them to play the more complex games.
- Our kids turned to reading books for fun. My little ones (k-2) wanted to read more than one chapter of Life of Fred each day. They looked family reading time- something we never did as far as they could remember. My 12 year old read for hours on end- nearly all day- without direction from me.
- Our kids played outside. They dug holes where we plan to have a garden in the spring, with my permission. They made bows and arrows out of string and branches that fell off trees during a wind storm.
- There were art projects galore. I never knew my kids had such talent. I’m not saying they presently have the talent of Monet or current cartoon artists, but if they continue down this path, they might.
- Removing the books from bedrooms and putting them in one place made them easier to find and made cleaning bedrooms much easier.
This morning, I was in the mood to stay in bed longer due to a week where our 18 month old didn’t sleep well. 8 year old Isaac asked if he could set up the music for the morning.
Music is powerful. It can change our mood by uplifting it and bring peace where contention is present.
I didn’t buy a bunch of music. Instead, I used Pandora on my Roku, which was connected to my TV. Pandora is free and lets you set up a bunch of “radio stations” based on your interests. If you use Pandora on your mobile device, you’ve probably endured a lot of advertisements. When you use Roku to connect to Pandora, there is are significantly fewer ads. Sometimes I listen for hours and neither see nor hear an advertisement.
Roku is a small little device ($50-100 depending on which model you choose) that hooks up to your television. It connects wirelessly to your internet service. My favorite channels that Roku offers are Netflix, TED, Amazon, Pandora, Hulu. There are many more channels available. Many are free, though some have subscriptions. So if you like a channel on cable, but don’t want the hefty bill of having cable or satellite, you can subscribe to just the channel you want. We use the Roku to watch the internet instead of connecting a computer to our TV, which is was what we used to do until our computer died.
Chores and Responsibility
We added chores to their list. The Thomas Jefferson Education model suggestions that life skills are important preparation for kids’ development. My kids did complain at first. I told them that eventually they will move out and need to know how to take care of themselves. Now, they show that they are proud of what they’ve accomplished. I still remind them to do their chores.
We have a rotating chore chart that the kids do daily- often times more than once per day. The chores rotate by week. The three older boys (8-12 years old) trade these chores: loading the dishwasher, washing dishes by hand that can’t go in the dishwasher, and sweeping the kitchen. My 5 year old is responsible for wiping down the table. My 10 and 12 year olds are also washing, drying, and putting away their own clothes, as well as for the sibling that shares their rooms.
Those chores are in addition to cleaning bathrooms, bedrooms, living and family rooms, scrubbing the kitchen floor, and taking out the trash once or more per week.
One of the first side effects that came from this change is that the kids were quick to notice when a younger sibling was about to create some huge mess made from left out crayons, scissors or other tools. They don’t want to clean up a large mess. So, they stopped the mess making process before it became bigger. This opened up the path for discussions about some positive things one can say and do when such a situation arises. Instead of yelling or calling names or blaming, one can redirect the younger child or ask them to help clean up.
An advantage of them being responsible for getting more done around the house is that they are also accomplishing more of their Boy Scout and Cub Scout requirements as well as requirements for their Faith in God and Duty to God programs that our church encourages them to work on regularly. Each of these programs is designed to teach boys that they need to set goals, have good character, and do the job right.
They also benefit because I have more time to spend with each of them individually. We have more time for fun activities.
I also have more time to model good study and reading skills. In fact, right now, I am modelling writing habits. So I am showing them how wonderful it is to explore my own interests. Hopefully, they’ll want to explore theirs, too. My older sons have expressed interest in writing on this blog. I told them that when they provide quality articles based on their interests, I will put them on the blog. I imagine that you’ll see some articles about cars, book reviews, drawing, Legos, yo-yos and much more in the future.
In case you think I am chore-free and now live the life of luxury and ease, I have promoted myself to manager (per the suggestion of my friend Shiloah). I spend time training them to do their chores and have an abundance of chores still to do.
My kids have “detoxed” most, if not all, of the conveyor belt educational methods out of their systems. More importantly, I have “detoxed” much of my need to require, and increased my desire to inspire.
Our lives have a lot more harmony because the kids are learning what interests them. There is less stress coming from deadlines, so the kids have time explore their interests in depth.
Has your family “detoxed?” Share your story. Are you thinking about “detoxing?” Share your concerns.