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Keepers of the Faith Club for Girls

Keepers of the Faith Club for Girls - Our Experience and How Our Club is Set Up | RaisingArrows.net

If you follow my Facebook page you’ve probably heard me mention Keepers of the Faith.  My girls have been a part of a local group since we moved to the area a few years ago, and we have all really enjoyed the fellowship and projects.

I had a reader ask me to talk more about Keepers, so I thought I’d write a post and explain how our group works and how you can form a group or find a group to participate in.  Please, keep in mind, my experience is unique because all Keepers groups are unique due to their autonomous nature.  Also, keep in mind this post is specifically pertaining to the girls club and not the boys; however, much of the same information applies to the boys club.

How Our Keepers of the Faith Club is Organized

Leadership -
Our group does not have a “leader” per se.  One person always emerges as the organized one, but all the moms in the group have input, as do the girls.

Planning -
The moms get together a couple of times a year to discuss the next 6 months of projects. Typically, we have previously discussed with our girls some of the projects they are interested in doing as a group so we can bring those to the table.  We choose the project, who will lead it, and where the meeting will be held.

The moms have a private Facebook group to send out messages, share photos, and remind people of meeting dates and anything they might need to bring.

Keepers of the Faith Club for Girls - How Our Club is Organized | RaisingArrows.net

Meetings -
We meet once a month in one of our homes or at a local church.  We open with prayer, the club Bible verse (we have chosen to learn it in another version), and the mission of Keepers of the Faith.

Usually, we have a Character Lesson that fits well with the skill we are learning.  When we worked on American Sign Language, we had a Character Lesson on Attentiveness.  At Christmas time we worked on Charity.  Keepers of the Faith have their own booklets for each Character Lesson, but we don’t always use theirs.  There are a lot of resources online that can be used for free.  Typically, the mom leading the project also leads the Character Lesson.

After that, we start the monthly project.  Each project has a certain set of skills the girls are to learn.  Sometimes all of the skills can be learned in a meeting, and sometimes the girls have to go home and finish up.

For instance, a few months ago, we did Plastic Canvas.

Keepers of the Faith Club for Girls - How Our Club is Organized | RaisingArrows.net

The mom in charge taught all the stitches, but to finish the project, each girl had to finish 2 different plastic canvas projects.  We only had time for 1 that day, so it was up to us to finish at home.

I will talk more about this in the next section, but I also want to mention here that because Keepers of the Faith is parent-led and autonomous, each family has the choice of what equates completing a project.  I could have chosen to make that one project the fulfillment of the requirement to complete the Plastic Canvas badge, but I knew my girls were capable of doing more, and my 9 year really enjoyed it!  (In fact, she received MORE plastic canvas and project books as a birthday present!)

Meetings last about 2 hours.  The girls ages range from 6 to 14.

How We Handle Multiple Ages -
We are a small group, so we haven’t seen much of a need to separate the girls out by age.  Yes, we have different skill levels, but we really haven’t had much trouble coming up with activities that are suited to all age levels.  The girls are welcome to work on other badges at home, so we try to keep the monthly meetings to projects that are good for everyone.

Keepers of the Faith Club for Girls - How Our Club is Organized | RaisingArrows.net

Some of the moms have chosen to award their younger girls with the silver badges and then work through the book when they are older and receive a second badge in gold.  This means the younger girls can work at their level and still be rewarded for their effort without needing to complete the entire project at the same level as the older girls.

Awards -
We have chosen to buy the actual pin badges and put them on the sash.  There are sites that have patches that coincide with the different KOF projects, but I wanted the ease of pins, so that’s what we went with.

You don’t have to award with badges, but I’ve found the girls are highly motivated by the badges and the Awards Ceremony we have a couple of times a year.

Our Awards Ceremony is not a huge to-do either.  We just can’t seem to coordinate a night that allows for a major celebration, so we will often do it at the same time as our monthly meeting and have snacks afterward.  We only do an Awards Ceremony when all the moms feel it is time.  Each mother is responsible for tracking and purchasing badges to hand out at the Awards Ceremony.

Cost -
Our club itself has no dues.  If an individual project requires an investment in supplies by the hosting mother, then she lets everyone know the cost for that project (usually via the Facebook group), and we come prepared to pay that amount per child participating.  I don’t think it has ever been over $3.

You will need a handbook for each girl.  There are also Companion Notebooks, but we have chosen not to purchase these.

The badges also cost, but you only purchase those on occasion, and you can choose to cut costs by going through a 3rd party that sells the project patches at a cheaper rate.  You will probably want to purchase or make a sash to put the badges on.

You can buy a Keepers t-shirt, but it isn’t necessary at all.  We do not require our girls to dress alike at meetings.

There are Leadership Materials you can purchase if you would like to start up your own club.  These are good to have if you’ve never been a part of a Keepers Club and need some help figuring out how to get it off the ground.

You might also want to check out the Club Locator to see if there is a KOF club near you, but keep in mind, not all clubs register, so there might be one near you that isn’t on the map.  Ask around!

Can’t find one?  Start your own!

How to Start Your Own Keepers of the Faith Club

At Home, On Your Own -
Buy the handbook for each of your girls, and work through them on your own.  This would be a great addition to your homeschool!

Find Others to Join You -
Look to your local homeschool group or your church to find other moms and girls interested in joining you in a more club-like atmosphere.  Purchase the Complete Starter Kit, set a meeting with the moms, and start planning!

Remember, this is YOUR club!  You can make it as structured or unstructured as you like.  Our group has done very well with a more low-key approach, but your group may need something different.  You may get large enough to split off into age groups, or you may want to meet more than once a month, or you may want to have a more structured meeting that is planned out more than 6 months in advance.  Any or all of these are totally appropriate!

Have more questions?  Feel free to ask me (I’ll try to answer to the best of my ability), check the FAQ at Keepers of the Faith, or contact Keepers directly for more help and information.

It’s Time to Settle the Homeschool Socialization Question

It's time to Settle the Homeschool Socialization Question - Why this question needs to stop being asked! | RaisingArrows.netShe looked me in the eye and said, “But what about Prom?

That was her best shot at trying to make me question our choice to homeschool our children.  It took me a little bit to even comprehend her thought process.

Prom?  Really?

But, the heart of her question was not really Prom in and of itself.  It was that big, bad “S” word every homeschool parent will hear at some point in their homeschooling career:

SOCIALIZATION

However, it isn’t just outsiders who can’t understand how a child who is schooled at home could ever be socially adept.  Even homeschool parents themselves, especially those deeply entrenched in a public school mentality, will find themselves petrified of raising a child who isn’t socialized according to the cultural paradigm.  They will run themselves ragged taking their children to sports practices and games, classes they don’t need, and group field trips where no one learns anything – all in the name of socialization.  (Some parents take their children to these events without the “S” word being their motivation.  They are NOT the ones I’m speaking of here – just to be clear.  More on that in a moment…)

Parenting out of Fear or Guilt?

Many parents these days are parenting out of fear and/or guilt.  They fear doing something wrong, they fear not doing everything, they fear not being “good enough”, they fear raising children who aren’t “good enough.”  And homeschool parents are the worst!  We have taken Deuteronomy 6 seriously, but rather than believing the Lord will bless our efforts to disciple our children, we run around fearful of missing opportunities and warping our children forever.

And then there’s the guilt.  Every missed opportunity, every crazy day, every whiny child, every off-schedule moment makes us feel so guilty, we are almost paralyzed.  Despite the fact we know there is no such thing as a “perfect mom“, we still cling to our guilt, hoping it will somehow make us better parents/teachers.

If your desire to socialize your child is based on fear or guilt, it’s time to rethink things.

So, back to the Prom question…

When Others Question Your Child’s Socialization…

More often than not, the reason a non-homeschooler brings up the socialization question is because:

1.  They misunderstand the nature of homeschooling.

2.  They think your child might be missing out on all the fun they had.

There are other reasons, of course, but most of the people I hear this question from are reliving memories and wonder how a child could ever be happy without those memories.

What they don’t know is that my children are making fun, happy memories all their own!

Think of it this way…
A child in another country is not going to have the same happy childhood memories a child in the U.S. has, yet, many children across the world each and every day are making wonderful childhood memories to cherish the rest of their lives.  They are having their own brand of fun.  Their memories do not have to look like yours to be good ones.

And just because my children don’t go to a government school does not mean they are never around people.  I’m not even sure how I would manage to keep my children away from people.  In fact, I would almost venture to guess my children are around a more varied group of people than most public-schooled children.  They have met and interacted with all ages of people from all walks of life.

As for those people who are genuinely concerned your child is being warped from a lack of socialization, it might be a good time to educate them on the true nature of homeschooling.  It is completely possible they simply do not understand that homeschooling does not mean your child never leaves the house.

Should You Find Socialization Opportunities for Your Homeschooled Child?

Again, if you are wanting to socialize your child because you are fearful or feeling guilty, stop right now and do something else for a while.  You will not make a good decision about what kinds of opportunities are good for your child and your family if you are working from those emotions.

Ok, good…let’s move on…

I am not against purposely being social.  Children need to learn manners and how to behave in particular situations.  They also need their parents to guide them through how socialization works.  The epidemic of rude, ill-behaved children in public has a lot to do with parents who aren’t guiding their children through proper socialization.  So, by all means, please socialize your children to the point where they know how to behave in public situations!

When assessing extracurricular activities for socialization merits, consider using our family’s list of guidelines for participating in outside activities.  This will help to keep you from running around like a homeschool mom with her head cut off.  Socialization is not about doing everything and being everywhere, but about choosing those things that truly have lasting merit and will guide your child into adulthood.

Weaning from the Screen

I mentioned in my Week 16 Pregnancy Update, that we were needing to wean from the screen because I had used movies and streaming video and iPad games to “babysit” the kids during my bout with morning sickness. After a week of really cracking down, the whining and asking and falling on the floor in a heap of “I’m bored” was almost *almost* completely nipped in the bud.

Several of you asked how I went about this, so this post is my answer to that question.

Weaning from the Screen | RaisingArrows.net - How we went from excessive TV and computer time back to a more reasonable approach.

The way we ended up with too much screen time is a sordid affair.  I have a house full of boys.  Rowdy, rambunctious, jump on mama’s bed when she feels nauseous little boys.  They are awesome, but without our usual daily routine, they were BORED.

No really, they truly were bored.

I don’t typically like that word, but frankly, when kids are used to a certain routine and that routine suddenly becomes NOTHING, they feel a little lost and need something to fill that space.  For boys, that something is rarely quiet or calm.  Thus, the electronic babysitter.

Weaning from Screen Time | RaisingArrows.net

**NOTE:  This photo is how we do family movie night – a projector and laptop with the movie projected onto a blank wall in our living room.  This is the projector we own.**

The last straw was the day my 5 year old asked every 5 minutes if he could watch a movie on the iPad.

Every. Five. Minutes.

I was finally coming out of the First Trimester Fog, and I knew we needed to go back to our usual Movie Days (more on what Movie Days are in a second).  After 15 times of telling him no, I realized watching movies had become part of his daily routine and he had no recollection of this Movie Day thing I kept spouting off about.  And really how dare I change up the routine of every day movie watching without explaining myself!  So, we had a quick Family Meeting where I explained the finer points of that vague notion we once called Movie Day.

Now, I know you all know this, but here’s my disclaimer…
These are the Roberts Family Movie Days.  They are guidelines we feel comfortable with.  They are not a set of rules YOU have to follow.  The real issue here is to have guidelines.  Your children need to know WHEN screen time is appropriate.  It may be something as simple as “after school work is finished” or “between 4-6pm” or whatever you like.

Movie Days are Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.  Wednesdays and Fridays are Roberts Family Movie Night.  Saturday is Computer Time for everyone (only my oldest 2 children have weekday Computer Days).

Exact computer time is based on age:
My littlest guys get 15 minutes.
My middles get 30 minutes.
My oldest kids get an hour on Saturdays (they get 45 minutes on their alternating weekdays).

Everyone is also allowed to watch a movie or two on Saturday.

Another major aspect of this schedule is the fact that if we are gone any of these days, there is no “banking the time.”  If you miss a day that you usually have Computer Time on, you don’t get to have that time the next day to “make up” for it.  If we aren’t home on Saturday, we don’t automatically make Sunday a Movie Day.

Are there exceptions?  Of course!  We are a family and sometimes these sorts of rules get broken in favor of family life.  It’s ok. ;)

So, once we established that we were going back to our typical Movie Days, I was able to remind the children of the day of the week and keep a lot of the asking for screen time at bay.  My 5 year old asks every day, “What is today?”  I tell him the day of the week and then he asks, “And what do we do on that day?”  I usually give him a quick run-down of the day and then get to the real answer he’s looking for…

“Today is not a movie day.”

At some point, I want to get a calendar made up that has Sunday – Saturday with all the screen time written on it (with pictures for my non-readers), but that has yet to happen.  I’m still too foggy for that. ;)

This Move

We’ve arrived!  We moved in a snow storm, but got it all unloaded before the big one hit.  From there, we were sitting under about 16″ of snow and bitter-cold temps.  Nearly 2 weeks later, we are digging out and settling in.

Our living room (see my daughter being silly as she tries to get out of the room in time!)

Our living room (see my daughter being silly as she tries to get out of the room in time!)

At first, I was super pleased with our progress.  Boxes were being unpacked and things were finding homes, but this week, as we began a bit of homeschooling again, I found myself frustrated and overwhelmed.

Then, I remembered this always happens.

Every time we move, I end up needing to deal with a few bad habits we’ve gotten into in the previous house.  Sometimes the issues are direct results of the move itself.  This move was, and is, no different.

1.  I am sick of the paper trail my children leave about the house.

I am all for creativity, but oy! the paper trail is maddening!  I snapped this photo the other day and then asked my little moms-of-many group to please advise (feel free to offer your own advice as I’m still working through it all!).

papers in living room

This scene is recreated all over my house every day of the week, and most every child in the household contributes.  My bigs try to be a bit neater about their paper, as do I (yes, they got this from me), but my littles draw and dump at will.

This sort of thing needs to stop.  Problem is, I’ve been too lazy to stop it.  I’m to blame for paper and pencils and crayons and scissors *gasp* and glue being TOO easily accessible.   So, this move, those things are finding a new home with new rules.

2.  My little boys stand (and often jump) on the furniture.

We had discipline for this in the old house, but I wasn’t always as consistent as I needed to be with it.  I didn’t stick with it as is needed to actually break bad habits.  This move, I am determined to nip this in the bud and stop this behavior once and for all.

“Method?” you ask?  Every time they stand on, jump over or off of the furniture, they must stand, nose to the wall, for as many minutes as their age.  The 3 year old gets 3 minutes, the 5 year old gets 5 minutes, and yes, my newly turned 8 year old gets 8.  (Eek!  Can you believe the 8 year even stands on the furniture sometimes?!  You ought to be feeling better about your parenting skills already!)

3.  I need to do better about the “place for everything and everything in it’s place” rule.

I’m just going to be honest here, my organizational skills are severely lacking.  Every little thing I organize has to be brainstormed and often reworked before it actually makes sense.  It is a painfully slow and ugly process.

When we move, I have to find new places for things and then learn where those place are.  About the time I learn those places, I realize where I put things makes no sense and needs to be reworked.  (We have a saying here, “As soon as you know where it is, we’ll move!”)

This move, I am hoping to get things organized sooner.  (As soon as I typed that, I sat here blankly for a few minutes.  Who am I kidding?  I won’t get organized any sooner than I normally do because I haven’t somehow magically gained 4 more hours to my day or grown an extra set of arms or a more organized brain.  Yeah, scratch that...)

This move, I am hoping to get things organized sooner.  There, that’s better.

So, there you have it…a little taste of life in our new home.  Never a dull moment!

How to Be a Consistent Mother

How to Be a Consistent Mother | RaisingArrows.netConsistency is one of those words we like to throw around as the elusive answer to all our problems.

“If I were more consistent, my children would obey better.”

“If I were more consistent, I would be able to get everything done.”

“If I were more consistent, my children wouldn’t be behind in their school work.”

However, we can’t make consistency the fall guy for everything.  Consistency is great, but almost entirely impossible.  We need to learn to see consistency in a different way, so when a reader asked about how be a consistent mother, I decided to tackle the issue in a different way – with a vlog (that’s a Video Blog for all of you scratching your heads at such a weird word).  It’s only 3 minutes, but if you don’t have the time to listen to it all, some of the highlights are listed below the video. {can’t see the video?  Click HERE!}

Highlights:

  • Stop stressing!  There will be different seasons in your life.  Accept them.
  • Create an At-A-Glance Schedule.
  • Surround yourself with things that help you be a better mom.
  • Enjoy the entire process of homeschooling, homemaking, and mothering.
  • Consistency does NOT mean every day looks the same!
  • Do the little things.

Do you struggle with being a consistent mother?  Anything in the vlog resonate with where you are?  Do you have other suggestions for the inconsistent mothers reading this blog?  Leave your comments below!  Raising Arrows is a community and readers love to interact and help each other out.  Don’t be afraid to add your thoughts to the conversation!

Looking for more Ask Amy posts?  Have a question of your own?  Click the graphic below!

Ask Amy

Changing Chores – The Art & Science of Knowing Who Gets What Chore

Changing Chores:  The Art & Science of Knowing Who Gets What Chores | RaisingArrows.netEveryone has had the same Home Blessing Chores for a year and a half. A few weeks ago I realized my 7 year old wasn’t working up to his current capabilities.  I also realized each child needed to learn some new skills, so I finally forced myself to rework Home Blessing chores.

I’m going to confess right here and now…reworking any set routine is a difficult task.  You get set in your ways.  It’s mindless and everyone appreciates that.  In fact, the morning we implemented the new chores, my husband warned, “Be prepared for attitudes!”

Boy, was he right!  {more on that in a moment…}

So, I’ve told you the how and why behind our original Home Blessing chores.  Today, I want to talk you through what to do when its time to change those chores.

How do you know when it is time to change chores?

  • Your children’s abilities have significantly changed.
  • Your children are completing their assigned tasks with proficiency.
  • You are adding a new child to the lineup of workers.

How do you go about changing chores?

1.  Review the old chore chart and make notes ON the chart itself.  Our chart was laminated, so I took a wet erase marker and made notes about who I thought ought to get what chore.

Note:  Not all chores can simply be passed on to the next child down.  For instance, my oldest son still has to vacuum downstairs because the vacuum is too heavy for any of his younger siblings to haul downstairs.  He will also continue to clean out the van until his sisters are a little older.  Think through the chores based on each child’s abilities and the areas they need to work on.

2.  Type up a new list and go over it with your husband and children.  Going over it before it actually took place gave everyone time to mull it over and voice their concerns and comments.  I went over my list with my husband first to make sure it all sounded good to him, THEN I went over it with the children.  That way I knew Dad and I were on the same page.  Do listen to any concerns and comments from the children, but do not let the children complain themselves out of a job they are really capable of.

3.  Expect to micro-manage the first 2 weeks.  This past Friday was our first day working the new chores.  I got NONE of my own work done until after everyone was finished with theirs.  Next week, I expect more of the same.  You will be needed to guide them through chores, check their work, and walk them through any mistakes or missed steps.  You will also need to keep everyone on task!

4.  Make notes as you go.  Make notes to yourself and make notes to the children.

Home Blessing Notes

My 15 year old handed over bathroom chores to his younger siblings.  As he walked them through the steps, I wrote out a very simplified list of the steps in order so that they could simply glance at the list and remember what he had taught them.  I then posted that list inside the bathroom cabinet.

I also made notes to myself on the new printed out Home Blessing list.  I reordered certain chores because they didn’t fit with what others in the household were working on.  For instance, my daughter can’t sweep and mop the hallways until her brother is finished cleaning the bathroom because he puts everything from the bathroom out in the hallway!  This is another reason you should expect at least 2 weeks of micromanagement.  It’s going to take that long just to get things in the right order.

What was that about attitudes?

Um, yeah.  Attitudes…*sigh*.  As much as I hope to ward off any attitudes and complaints concerning a new chore list, it just isn’t realistic.  First of all, I have one child who hates change of any kind.  She loses all sense of direction and becomes completely discombobulated to the point of being irrational.  At one point, we stopped everything and I took her on the porch for a break.  I talked her through everything, including what I expected of her attitude.

Was she still frustrated?  Yes.  But, at least she clearly understood what was expected.  I also informed her that poor attitudes would result in MORE work, not less.  And I followed through on that.  By the end of chore time (which was an hour longer than usual), she was calm and got to enjoy the start of her weekend.

Ultimately, the name of the changing chore game is to KEEP GOING.  So often, parents give up on a great chore list because it is a tedious process.  A little grumpiness, a few missed chores, and one all-out fit brings the training to a complete stop with mom swearing she’s better off just doing it herself.

Mama, keep going.

Teaching your children to run a household is important!  Don’t give up on it.  Persevere!  So often, I have people ask how I ended up with such servant-hearted children who help not only our family, but others.  The answer is I KEPT GOING.  It’s not always fun and it’s not always easy, but it is ALWAYS worth it.