Homework in Kindergarten?!

Homework in kindergartenHomework in kindergarten?!  Every night?  I mean, really, it’s kindergarten!  Should BK really have to sit in class all day and then do homework when he gets home?  There is just something wrong with the way kindergarten is taught today.

BK already dislikes school.  When asked, he will say that it’s just too much learning!  My little guy is a very conscientious, diligent student, but spending most of the day stuck at a desk is just not what BK wants to do.  Shoot!  I can’t even get him to sit at dinner time!  He spends most of dinner standing next to his chair.

I don’t know how anyone else feels, but it truly seems as though the schools have sucked all of the joy out of attending class.  There is, as BK says, “too much learning.”  Just walk into a kindergarten classroom today, and you will see what I mean.

When I attended kindergarten 25 years ago, there were play areas.  Now, when I look at BK’s classroom, I cannot identify any play areas.  Yet, children at that age learn best through play!  In fact, there is hard evidence that children learn best through play and not in an academic setting.

Yet, BK was expected to enter kindergarten knowing his alphabet, how to write, recognize letters, days of the week, months, and how to count to 100.  I learned those things in kindergarten!  Actually, truth be told, I learned them in first grade.  Some of us are slower than others.

When I attending kindergarten, we learned 1 letter each week.  It was fun!  BK finishes up the unit on the alphabet this week.  They started school 1 month ago.

I worry that we are either going to burn out our children or turn them into little robots who struggle with how to think for themselves.  I could already see some of that as I went through school.  So many of my peers were unable to truly think for themselves.  Sure, we could spit back facts and data, but many didn’t truly understand what it was that was being taught.

I don’t know what to do.  Do we refuse to do the homework?  Then, BK won’t get a sticker, and stickers are important to 5 year olds.  Do we do the homework, but only under protest?  That seems dangerous.  Right now, we simply sit down and do the homework each evening.  BK generally has a positive attitude about it, and we provide him with lots of praise.  We do not mention our annoyance with the fact that the homework even exists, because I don’t want to create a bad attitude in BK.

It is my very strongly held opinion that homework in kindergarten is wrong.  In fact, the entire emphasis upon academics in kindergarten is wrong.  Children at this age learn through play.  They learn through socializing.  They weren’t made to sit still for hours.

In Loving Memory of Dorothy Keller

Dorothy_2 We laid to rest the beloved matriarch of the Keller Family today.  Mr. Keller’s grandmother, Dorothy Keller, passed away on August 10th, and to say that she will be missed is an understatement.

Dorothy was born on February 9th, 1918.  She was 98 years, 6 months, and 1 day old when she left us, and in those 98 years she truly touched a lot of lives.  She served as an inspiration to her family by being the first to continue beyond the 8th grade.  Not only did she graduate high school, she even attended and graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Rural Education.  She was an elementary classroom and music teacher for 20 years.  I have absolutely no doubt that in those 20 years, she instilled a love of learning in numerous children!

Dorothy Keller married Walt Keller of McNabb, Illinois, and started her greatest legacy:  her family.

Dorothy and Walt had 4 children:  Chuck, Julie, Randy, and Marty.  In them, Dorothy instilled a love of learning and, generally, a love of music.  In fact, three of the four even went on to earn college degrees with majors in education while the fourth carried on the family farm.  Those four children went on to bring nine babies into the world, including Mr. Keller.

Walt passed away in 1988, and from what I have gathered, Dorothy was a supportive, traditional farm wife to him.  In fact, that’s why one of Mr. Keller’s mom’s favorite stories about Dorothy is so striking.  One afternoon, Walt came in looking for his lunch.  He was surprised that Dorothy not only didn’t have lunch for him, she hadn’t even started it!  She informed him that she was busy playing with Mr. Keller (okay, she may have used his first name when she referred to him), and he would have to make his own lunch that day.

Dorothy and Mr. Keller had an incredible bond.  Not only did he spend hours at the family farm where Dorothy always lived, but she actually watched him while Mr. Keller’s parents worked.  This tiny matriarch spent hours sitting in a hot farm truck while Mr. Keller pretended to drive it down the road.  I can just hear him “vrooming” along while she indulgently watched.  She even wore out the knees of her pants sitting on the floor with Mr. Keller playing trucks and tractors.  Later, they watched Wheel of Fortune together, enjoyed reading the newspaper and sharing news of what was happening in town.

In the time that I knew her, Dorothy’s life revolved around family.  She loved living on the family farm with one son working the farm and another living just across the street.  She was surrounded by family, and I think, was well aware of how loved she was.  Dorothy was the epitome of a family matriarch.

I met Dorothy as she was becoming a great-grandmother.  She adored each new great-grandbaby.  You could just see it in her face as she held each one for the first time.  I know that Mr. Keller and I feel incredibly fortunate that our children were able to spend as much time with Dorothy as they did.  I just pray that both of them carry a few memories of her with them, always.  She certainly loved and cared for them!  She would just sit and watch them play.  When BK was little, she would even get on the floor and play trucks and tractors with him just as she did his daddy.

Dorothy Keller

Grandma Dorothy surrounded by her grand=babies

Dorothy was wise, gracious, and feisty all the way to the end.  I’m 100% positive that we all have a Dorothy Story that we will hold close.  In fact, I have several!  The first is from the very first time we met.  Mr. Keller had warned me that she could take some time to warm up to people who were dating members of her family.  She was a little bit on the protective side, I suppose.  Regardless, she surprised him when she declared that she “liked [me].  [I] was her height!”  I’ll also always carry with me how happy she was to be included in any get togethers at the Keller Tinker Farm.  She truly just loved to spend time with us and to be included in our lives.  I also loved her optimism!  Until the last year of her life, she constantly spoke of the future.  She was always planning for next year!  Keep in mind that she was already 86 when I had the pleasure of meeting her!

God gave us Dorothy for 98 great years.  She was able to live on the farm until nearly the very end, and then, was fortunate enough to be able to move into Cabin Livin’, an assisted living facility just a few miles away from the farm.  She really spent the majority of her years in great health, and she certainly maintained 100% of her mental faculties.  I was constantly amazed at her observations.

Selfishly, I wish we could have had Dorothy for a few more years.  BK and MK could have benefited so much from spending more time with her, and I could have, as well.

Dorothy KellerDorothy Keller left a strong legacy of love, music, and learning that will absolutely be carried on through her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  We miss her today and will continue to, but while we are sad that she’s no longer here with us, we can be confident that she’s in a better place with God and Our Savior.

Consumerism vs Generosity

I was struck again by a sermon at my church.  It was on Matthew 6:22-23 and was entitled “The Dark Side of Unchecked Ambition.”

Matthew 6:22-23On it’s own, Matthew 6:22-23 is kind of an odd little Bible verse:  “the eye is the lamp of the body.  So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then, the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!.”  In actuality, it’s a powerful statement on the importance of generosity.  The original Greek would lead to a translation much closer to substituting the word generous for health.  In other words, you could read Matthew 6:22-23 as “The eye is the lamp of the body.  So, if your eye is generous, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eye is not generous, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”  Honestly, that’s still a little confusing!

Another way to understand Matthew 6:22-23 is to read it in context:

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, If your eye is healthy,your whole body will be full of light.
23 But if your eye is unhealthy (bad),your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
In plain English, this Bible verse is telling me that I cannot surround myself with stuff. The love of stuff and the hoarding of it prevents truly free generosity and gets in the way of serving God.  We are blessed by what we give away.
For me, on the surface this is really a challenge!  I know that I’ve talked many times about it, but I really enjoy shopping.  I also really like the idea of having wealth.  Yet, this Bible verse would tell me to recognize when I have enough and to generously give above and beyond that.  In fact, I need to get beyond even concentrating on having enough.  It’s not about “having” at all.  I need to concentrate on God and His Will.
Really, Matthew 6:22-23 is a difficult set of verses for me.  I need to escape consumerism and concentrate on God.  The Keller Family has so many blessings, but to really understand and serve God, we need to  share those blessings.
I’ll be writing a blog post tonight on my most recent Stitch Fix subscription. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have kept a single thing.  The clothes are a waste; I don’t need a single item.  Now, there is one of them that I just love, but now I’m torn.  This Bible verse would tell me to quit obsessing, suspend my subscription (already done, actually), and donate my extra items to women in need.  Even just thinking about all of these consumer items is just such a waste!  I have to quit defining myself in terms of stuff and instead define myself in terms of memories, experiences, and my own actions.  It’s important for my own salvation, and it’s important for the salvation of my children.  After all, I’m setting an example every day for BK and MK.

Productive Weekend!

The Kellers had a very productive weekend!  The weather shifted from being unseasonably cool to unseasonably warm, and we were all feeling good about it!  It’s amazing how much more active and happier we all are when the weather is great!.

We started Friday out with soccer practice for the Kicking Kellers.  The whole team (7 little pre-k kids) was feeling frisky!  They were running all over and more than a little hard to control.  When practice was over, I left with my crew feeling more than a little concerned that they were scheduled to have a game the next day, but they sure didn’t seem too interested in actually playing soccer!  Of course, they are all between the ages of 3 and 5 so how much can you really expect?

Saturday morning dawned clear and beautiful.  So beautiful, in fact, that I opened the windows for the first time all year!  Mr. Keller had to work, unfortunately, but the Keller Kids and I got ready for their first soccer game!  The game was at 10:15, and the kids rarely sleep in so we had plenty of time.  We even ran up to Casey’s for donuts and to the post office before soccer.  Both Keller Kids were being exceptionally well behaved even though they were psyched about their upcoming game.

Game time brought very different feelings for BK and MK.  BK was ready to go and excited!  MK wasn’t too concerned about the game and wanted to sit and visit with her Papa Keith.  We did finally convince her to go out on the field.  She had a great time playing in the dirt.

BK, on the other hand, looked like he had been playing soccer for years out there!  I was actually really impressed with him.  He seems to be showing a lot of raw talent (yes, I know that he’s 5–I promise, I am fully aware of this fact!).  He dribbled the ball from end to end and kept it very well controlled, and he made several moves that were impressively natural looking.  He even scored 4 goals.  Maybe soccer will be his sport… or maybe not.  Only time will tell!

After the game, Papa Keith and I had to take the Keller Kids to McDonald’s.  After all, it was one of the things that I attempted to bribe MK with as I tried to convince her to play.  I think it came as I escorted her back to the soccer field from the pine trees where she had gathered quite a collection of pine cones.  Truly, you should have seen her team flock to the pine tree after they saw her collection.  It was hilarious!

Productive Weekend

BK Scores!

productive weekend

MK & her Papa

productive weekend

This how MK plays soccer!

Papa Keith even bought the kids ice cream cones at McDonald’s!  It was only lunch time, but the Keller Kids’ day was going pretty darn well!

Next, we came home and played outside!  Well, okay, the Keller Kids did while I cleaned the house like a crazy lady.  The kids were thrilled to be able to play outside again.  They may have been more excited than I as with the weather.

I was able to get a mountain of laundry done, bathrooms cleaned, hard floors dry mopped, and the windows all cleaned!  I have to say, I am thrilled with how easy Norwex has made cleaning windows.  I use to hate cleaning them (I still don’t love it), but it’s so easy now!  The EnviroCloth and the WindowCloth have eliminated the need for paper towels and Windex, and they do a great job!  My windows are shiny clean now, and we live out in the country so they were absolutely filthy before I washed them. I even used my same EnviroCloth to clean out the window sills.  After I finished cleaning, it was the most wonderful feeling to just sit down in the living room (while folding laundry, of course!), and look around to see the sunshine coming through the windows.  It was really truly very rewarding.

After Mr. Keller came home Saturday afternoon, he even tilled up my garden!  I ran out to Big R’s and picked up seeds and plants, and Sunday MK and I planted the garden!  It may be a little early yet for the bean seeds that we planted, but we can always replant if necessary.  It was really just wonderful to play in the dirt.  I absolutely adore gardening.  I love nourishing the plants and then harvesting the results.  I also love that I can get food from my family in my backyard!  We should even have ripe asparagus and rhubarb in the next few days.  Spring has truly sprung!

Productive Weekend

Rhubarb!

Mr. Keller and BK spent Sunday at the Keller Farm.  I can’t really speak to what they were doing other than to say that they were getting the equipment ready to go for planting.  Both came home looking  like they had spent the day in the sun, and BK was pretty darn tired!

MK and I went to church.  I let her sit in the congregation with me as opposed to the nursery.  She had begged to sit with me, and I thought it would be all right.  It was certainly a lesson in patience.  She had to use the restroom twice, and on her return the second time she walked in and said “Hello!” which caused the pastor to look up and grin at her.  She didn’t notice, which is a good thing or it may have encouraged her further.  She also took the colored crayons and paper that a very nice man gave her to use, and laid in the center aisle to color and listen.  Because she was staying quiet and still, I let her stay there.  Really, the congregation didn’t seem to mind her behavior, and I think she provided more than a few with entertainment.  As her slightly mortified mom, though, I’m hoping that next week goes a little bit smoother.

We finished the weekend off by celebrating Mr. Keller’s mom’s birthday.  We enjoyed pizza and ice cream cake.  The evening couldn’t have been any better!

It was a beautiful, busy, and productive weekend!  I wouldn’t have changed any of it!  The house is clean, the garden is planted, laundry done, and I hear the tractors are ready to go!  Life is good.

And, happy 25th Birthday to my sister, Maria!  Wish we could have celebrated with you, but we’ll see you soon!

Better Together: My Review

I’ve just finished Better Together:  Because You’re not Meant to Mom Alone.  I mentioned before that I had been chosen to be part of the launch team for this book, and the book is not yet released for purchase, but you can pre-order it!  Here’s a quick run down of my overall impression of the book.

Different quoteThe book puts into words what I think all moms and perhaps even most adults realize:  we need strong friendships in our lives.  It’s so easy to let friendships fade to the point where you wake up one day and realize it’s been a month (or more!) since you last talked to your best friend!  The book reassures us that this is normal, but it also gives us a lot of ways to keep this from happening!  For example, the book gives suggestions like forming book clubs or dinner clubs.  The great thing about formal clubs/groups like those is that you put it on your calendar and, therefore, it happens!

Better Together also gives lots of suggestions on ways to make new fellow mom friends.  The suggestions are really pretty obvious as they revolve around finding possible future events while participating in events that are common to mom life suggest as children’s sporting events.  The genius of this is that you’ll automatically have two things in common:  a similar aged child and an event.  The downside:  I felt that this list was pretty obvious and it actually never gave any suggestions for finding friends in the work place.

Better Together - DifferentOne area that I thought the authors of Better Together really did well in was describing the process of forming friends.  Friends don’t just happen.  You start with Might be Friends and move to Trying to be Friends.  This is where you start to spend time with that person perhaps through playdates at the park with the kids.  After spending regular time with that other person and starting to have deeper conversations, the friendship may develop further into Good Girlfriends.  At this point you are at the “Hang out in my family room” stage as the authors put it.  You’re comfortable with one another and not really trying to impress the other person.  Finally, a really great friendship might make the leap from Good Girlfriend to Best Friend Forever.  Those are the friends who don’t ring the doorbell before walking into your home.  It’s the type of friendship where you can genuinely refer to the other person as a sister.

This progression is important, I think, to understand.  While I actually kind of really hate the terminology that the authors use to label the different levels of friendship (and I hate even more that they refer to them by acronym throughout the book), I do appreciate the point.  Friendships don’t happen overnight.  You must spend time and experiences with that other person in order to really develop the foundation upon which a friendship relationship can develop.

I also liked the way that the authors of Better Together challenged the readers to really help out friends and potential friends.  Basically, if you have a friend who needs some help, help them out!  If there’s a surgery coming up, take over dinner and maybe help pick up the house.  The other mom needs a break from the children in order to run some errands, volunteer to watch them.  The book really emphasizes giving.

I was a little bit disappointed that the book seemed to focus on stay at home moms.  Yes, many of the examples can also be applied to mothers who work outside of the home, but it’s much more difficult.  I would have liked to have seen a chapter devoted to mothers who work out side of the home.  Of course, the authors have both spent their children’s formative years as stay at home moms so I understand that is their experience, but they often did reach out to other moms for examples in this book.  They could have tapped a mom who worked outside of the home to give her perspective on these tips and strategies, and also to show how she manages to balance it all.

In the end, I’m not sure that I really can recommend this book to my friends.  I really enjoyed the first half three chapters of the book, but I felt like it went downhill from there.  So much of the book was common sense that I can’t really imagine paying for it.