As a teacher, I used to love attending make and take workshops. I liked walking away with something tangible I could use in my classroom the very next day. In the same way, I really enjoy attending home school workshops, mom's meetings, and reading materials on home schooling. There is so much information and I'm finally starting to bring those ideas into my home to bless my family.
After attending this year's Texas Home School Coalition's home school conference, I couldn't wait to implement some of the ideas I gleaned from Sally Clarkson's workshop (Whole-Hearted Child philosophy). The easiest thing to start with was feasting. See, feasting is about more than the food. You can serve cold cereal or filet mignon, but the focus is on setting a mood that encourages connecting and sharing ideas.
So, with a loose understanding of Sally Clarkson's concepts, this is what I've done so far in my home at dinner time:
1. The table is set for every meal with silverware and napkins.
2. I light a candle (just a basic jar candle. Right now, the scent is pumpkin spice).
3. I set the mood with a variety of different types of music. Currently, thanks to Pandora and my Vivaldi station, the boys are learning about classical music and loving it. They always ask to see the album cover and try to pick out the instruments.
4. I loosely focus on proper table and conversation etiquette.
5. Here is the important part. I casually introduce a variety of conversation topics, from current events, asking them about their day, telling them about mine, conversations about God, sharing something from a conversation I had or something I read, or whatever crosses my mind. Then, I wait. This gives them time to process the information, formulate a thought, and share what they think about the topic. Sometimes, they think of something totally different to talk about and that is okay because they are thinking. That's the whole entire point of the feast! To connect and think critically about ideas that shape their world.
6. And finally, I finish with funny poetry and a quick bible lesson. Right now, we are reading The New Kid on the Block, by Jack Prelutzky. This is great because in order to truly appreciate the poems, I have to stop and give quick definitions of vocabulary words and explanations on some of the concepts. Of course, once they understand the context, then the poems are even funnier. Little boy giggles are the best! Then, I follow up with a daily devotion from Devotions for Little Boys and Girls, by Joan C. Webb. These are quick, interactive, and lead to lots of discussion.
Here is how I know this is working. In the beginning, there was some resistance because with change, there is always that period of discomfort. However, I stayed the course because I knew that just like vegetables, this would be good for them. Now, after about two weeks, my boys are no longer gobbling down their food and asking for more because their little tummies haven't had enough time to register the fullness. Instead, they are feasting on ideas and lingering at the table. They are engaged in the music and they are NOT playing with their food. Most of all, if I forget to do any of the things I mentioned above, they are quick to remind me. I would strongly suggest coming up with your own daily feast traditions. We always ate every meal together at the table, but Sally Clarkson's feast idea has taken our mealtimes to another level of bonding. I'm interested in hearing about your bonding traditions in your homes.