Homeschooling the Infant

Want to begin homeschooling your child at birth? Good for you!

Want to know how? Of course you do!

The newborn requires continual care to survive, and although each human is different, each newborn has a viewpoint that corresponds roughly to his age, which, for this article, is any age up to and around age one. If we teach to their needs and viewpoint, we CAN homeschool them.

They have so much to learn!

New babies do not even comprehend that Mother is someone else, but thinks of her as an extension of their environment. This outlook causes infants to trust completely in Mother’s presence. After all, for the first nine months, she never went anywhere, right?

Be there.

To capture this moment in a baby’s life, and make it teachable, Mother needs do only one thing, and it is to be constantly attentive to her baby.

This huge task needs little explanation. It is such a universal tradition, a photo of any mother tending her infant is understandable to any person, worldwide. Whether we call it a crèche, a nativity, or a manger scene, all those paintings of Mary and Jesus speak of the same tasks to all mothers and to all people. I know you know!

  • To the infant, all time is one, so during napping and feeding he finds a clock of little relevance.
  • To the infant, all nourishment is one, so in the sad instance of a mother’s death, goat or cow milk or formula, etc., can substitute as long as that one mouth receives that one drink to relieve that one tummy ache.
  • To the infant, all good sounds are one, so hummed lullabies suffice at first and any voice can soothe. All bad sounds, even the babe’s own cries, can distress, so sometimes he’s crying because he’s in a room where someone is crying; he doesn’t know that someone is himself.
  • To the infant, all pain, even self-inflicted, is indistinguishable, so he is unable to learn from experience, wanting to nurse even for teething, which makes gums feel worse.
  • To the infant, at first, all humans are one, so others can occasionally help with many of the care-taking chores without disturbing him too much.

Be constant.

Mother must not be gone for too long, though, because the infant is inputting at all times.

What does he pick up on his tiny radar screen? The infant, so frail, who can do little more than simply exist, must learn existence is a good thing, for he will be one with it as long as he lives. The infant must learn Mother is a good and dependable thing, since Mother, indiscernible from self, is everything there is.

Of course, sometimes guessing what he needs is impossible, but what he most needs is for Mother to be there. Guessing.

In this way he learns to turn to Mother in all distress, instantly hushing at even her smell or the sound of her bare footsteps on the carpet or a certain squeak in the floor. He learns trust and mercy. He learns the safety of motherly love and the cushion of family. He learns the peace that cohabitates with constancy.

Be good.

When we cause relationship and make it fun, we teach him: All is well.

This is his homeschool and we must make it good for him. How?

We can play simple, repeating games, the same way each time, such as pat-a-cake.

We can talk a lot, sing a lot, and laugh a lot.

We can gradually create schedules.

We can provide proper feeding, exercise, and fresh air.

These are the traditional lessons of infancy.

The reward?

Many elements of good character missing from our society today come from missing the infancy of a generation ago. Left in bed to cry all the time with no stimuli or else wagged to and fro, fed any “milk” at any temperature, plucked up during naps, deposited into noisy rooms and drugged to sleep, thrust into freezing or burning car seats, passed from person to person to person–they did not learn that all is well.

These infants hardly knew how to be “one”, how to have a self. Not knowing how to trust a Mother–or even which mother to trust–they grew up unable to understand this blessing: “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all” (Galatians 4:26) They grew up not knowing the blessing from doing good, the peace of dependable habits, or the trust and respect owed to the family.

They comprehend neither how to turn to the Church when they are in need, nor how to participate in building a good Church, nor the simple importance of a good family.

The neglect of the infant’s basic, traditional, home-school needs is tantamount to neglecting not only the physical and emotional, but also the future spiritual safety and provision of this dear babe.

They learn to make their mark, though.

They turn two. Heh heh.

More tomorrow.

Homeschool–The Original Tradition

One of my favorite defining statements about homeschooling is, “All children homeschool, all the time.” This has always been true, as I hope to show.

God gives children to His human creation in order to bless us, His Word says. He also blesses these children by giving them parents, because they could never survive without us. How unlike a newborn calf they are! No child can stand up and fetch his own nourishment a few moments after being born. No, we must carry them around, sometimes for more than a year, before they can walk like a newborn calf.

From the day our children are born, we begin preparing them to stand on their own, though. To quote one educator, Dr. D. R. Howard, “Education is preparation for life.” What our children learn from us largely determines what type of life they receive. We can train them to receive blessings or curses.

It may be confusing to think of the children who attend the world’s schools as “homeschoolers”, and by definition, they certainly are not that. Nevertheless, their parents are schooling them, training them, about life, preparing them for some sort of future, just by relegating their education to the world. Their very abdication of their God-given role of authority over their children teaches the children something about the importance of God, of family, and of children.

Of course, we need not think too much about that because our children are at home. Still, we should think about what we are teaching them. How do we parents homeschool all our children at all times? For the next few days, let’s consider their needs according to their ages and learn how capitalizing upon these needs gives rise to well-rounded adults and neglecting them leads to harm.

Although what will follow are generalities, regarding a child’s age, maybe it will help us think as they think, and show some mercy toward them.

Stick with us for the next few days for an overview of homeschooling the pre-schooler, from infancy, onward!

Yum-yummmm

⭐ Caramelized Onions and Green Beans
2 Tablespoons real butter
1/4 cup sliced almonds (opt.)
5 green onions
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 large bunch green beans
1 bell or jalapeño pepper (opt.)

Clean onions and cut into long halves or quarters. Stem and rinse beans. Brown almonds, if desired, in butter, in a good fry pan, then remove from pan and set aside.Throw rest of ingredients into pan. Begin on high heat, but turn to low before it burns. Cover. Stir often. When beans wrinkle some, it probably is done. Test for tenderness of carrots. Add salt and fresh pepper, if desired. We love it!
I’ve also been known to add summer squash, cauliflower, and/or carrots to this dish. Just cook it all until you are afraid it might burn, then pour into serving dish before it does!

⭐ The Secret to My Meat Salad
2 cups ground, cooked meat, such as roast or turkey
1 chopped egg
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped apple, skin on
½ cup pickle, dill or sweet
¼ cup real mayonnaise
1 tablespoon mustard
few drops liquid smoke

Stir all together well. May need more mayonnaise.

⭐ Brined Chicken
Thaw chicken meat in 1 gallon warm water with 1 cup salt added. Rinse. Prepare as usual for your recipe; taste before you salt. You will appreciate the difference. 

⭐ Homemade Kosher Dill Pickle
Bring to a boil:
3 quarts water
1 quart real cider vinegar (5% acidity!)
1 cup plain salt

Heat lids according to package instructions. Tightly pack small cucumbers into clean jars. To each jar add 1 clove garlic, 1 cayenne pepper, and 1 teaspoon dill seed. Pour boiling brine into jars to ½ inch below rim. Wipe rim. Apply lid and screw band. May at this point use hot water bath for 15 minutes.

More tomorrow!

My Favorite Tips

Save Trips to the Store and Save Money

I cannot overemphasize how we wives need to stick together and help each other.

Candle in the window
Candle in the window (Photo credit: Paul Bowman)

Used to be, home schoolers were odd because they homeschooled.

Now days, it’s just rare to find a mom at home, at all. Like it or not, we live in what amounts to the wilderness days, when women kept homemade candles glowing in windows just to cheer each other at night. How kind we used to be, reminding each other, when the coyotes were howling, that someone else was braving it through that lonely existence, too!

The duty of visiting each other and showing hospitality actually had meaning and value, then. Nowadays, we cannot justify visiting unless someone is homebound. Isn’t that us? How else can we keep home, unless we are home? So here I come, through the wilderness, visiting you with news of tips I’ve learned along the way.

It beats gossip.

Out of laundry detergent? Use about 1/8 cup hand-dishwashing liquid in a full load of laundry. This cleans well, but is not quite as easy on clothing as laundry detergent, so do buy the right stuff when you get the chance. It’s great, though, for those days when all the jeans are muddy and you’re out of detergent. Do not use with bleach, however.

For cleaner clothes and less wear on the washer and use of electricity, wash with the lid open (top loaders, only!) on a shorter, gentler cycle. After it agitates, it will soak. Later, re-run the agitation cycle for a few moments with the lid closed. The cycle will complete as usual and the new level of clean will surprise you.

Rather than waste money on aerosol cans of starch, try starching in the washer. Place all starch items together, for this short time, unless they are terrible bleeders. (Do not put your husband’s white shirts with your new red doily, etc.) Fill with warm water, less than usual for that size load. For medium water level, prepare starch thus: Bring one quart water to boil. Thoroughly stir ½ cup cornstarch into 2 cups cold water. Slowly pour this into the boiling water, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Pour into washer and agitate on gentle cycle. Drain and spin on gentle cycle that does not add much water to the spin. The idea is to eliminate dripping and still leave a goodly amount of starch in the clothing. Drip dry—no dryer, please. Iron using steam and a spray bottle of water to dampen as you go. Starch makes important clothing nice and crisp. I absolutely love what it does for rayon. Sometimes starched clothing fares so well, it is wearable for two days. Collars and yokes pick up less body oil, too, if starched.

Baking soda really does almost anything. I hate to sound like our favorite matron of homemaking, but just try some, in a paste, on your toaster, to see. I even clean ovens with it. I used to think this advice was too hoaky, but it’s for real. Baking soda works just like scouring powder, but is gentler on the item you clean and tougher, if possible, on grunge. I was so shocked when I first learned this. I used to think, “Yeah. Right!” But no more.

To remove permanent ink try hair spray. Rub and launder. If it doesn’t work, hardly anything else will. To remove wax from fabric try ammonia. Get the worst out first, with heating or scraping. It may take a while, but it will dissolve.

More tomorrow. 🙂

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Recipes and Tips Week, as Promised – Here are some of my favorite secrets. Enjoy!

All the whole wheat goodness

Homemade Self-rising Whole Wheat Flour
10 cups whole wheat flour
5 teaspoons salt
5 Tablespoons double-acting baking powder

Sift together three times. Store very tightly covered. Substitute for self-rising flour.

This really works and adds fiber to your diet. Great for pancakes, biscuits, anything you usually make with self-rising flour. So handy!

Sometimes, you may notice a slight difference in consistency. This comes from the fiber in the whole wheat. You may use a bit more if you feel your batter or dough is too soft or runny. Or add regular whole wheat flour to make consistency you expected. You can do this. It’s how new recipes come about.

Emergency Homemade “Cake Flour”
Place 2 tablespoons cornstarch into one-cup measure. Lightly add enough flour to fill cup. Sift together, well. Substitute for 1 cup cake flour. To make in advance for general use:

1 cup cornstarch
7 cups flour

Sift together three times. Store tightly covered. Makes eight cups “cake flour”.

Emergency Frosting without Powdered Sugar
5 Tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup (2 sticks) soft butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Whisk together flour and milk. Slowly cook, stirring constantly, until it boils and is very thick. Refrigerate until completely cooled.

Whip rest of ingredients in large mixer bowl until fluffy. Gradually add flour mixture and beat until fluffy, the longer, the better. May add 2 T. cocoa with 1 t. milk to first flour mixture, if desired. Enough for two-layer cake. Store refrigerated.

Tomorrow will be savings tips. See ya!

Whew! This Is Getting Deep!

WLA lacma Silver Cream Pitcher Paul Revere

Next week won’t be much better, but come on and get a great start to the most hectic time on earth–America’s solstice social habits.

I promise, after November 7th, we’ll get on to something lighter, like recipes and time savers. We’ll need the break.

After all, recipes and time savers are part of being home, right? Right!

And home’s cool, right? Right!

In fact, here’s a sneak preview recipe. I call it Lightning Emergency Biscuits. Only two ingredients, ready in 15 seconds flat.

Here goes: Mix equal parts of self-rising flour and whipping cream. Period.

Mix with a fork and be quick about it because this starts out runny and thickens itself to biscuit dough consistency like lightning. You are done. Just knead, cut, and bake as usual. My family swoons over these. They don’t make good dumplings, though. Sighs.

The best part about this, in my opinion, is you can mix just 1/4 cup cream with 1/4 cup self-rising flour and have yourself a nice big biscuit in no time, with no leftovers. OR, you can mix a whole quart of cream with 4 cups s/r flour and feed the whole Thanksgiving crowd, in almost the same zero time.

After November 7th, I’ll share how to make your own self-rising flour out of whole wheat flour, for the extra-special real-food folks.

___________________

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tired, Alone, Scared, Misguided, but Safe in the Everlasting Arms

Feeling the safety.Here is a horrifying truth: A great number of women are satisfied with having an ungodly husband until something causes them to start thinking about the results.

Having children causes us to think more carefully. We suddenly can see that marrying an unsaved man was a wrong decision. What we do not see is the reason it is wrong.

It is not wrong because a child might suffer.

It is wrong because God said not to do it.

Breaking the marriage vow also is wrong. Breaking the marriage vow also results in suffering that the wife cannot foresee. Breaking the marriage vow also is wrong only because God said not to do it.

The suffering COMES from being wrong; the suffering does not MAKE it wrong.

It is wrong only because it is wrong. Then immediately comes the suffering.

You can choose to suffer for doing wrong OR for doing right. There is glory, though, in suffering for the right. What good is it to suffer for doing wrong?

God has shown you what is good. What does He require of you? It is this:

  1. All of the things you do must be done justly and righteously. Ask God to help you do right in every little thing, like housework, eating habits, etc.
  2. All of your relationships must be based upon love and mercy. Ask God to help you to show loving mercy to every individual around you, including and especially your husband.
  3. Relate to God out of a core attitude of humility. All of everyone’s problems are at least partly the fault of self. Only God is good.

 

One more thing I need to mention is trust. Trust God, Dear Friend, not your husband. That is the way out of the misery. Is your God big enough to cause good things to happen in spite of a mere man? If not, then you need the Lord of Hosts, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Father of Heavenly Lights. You can trust Him. He is big enough to cause good things to happen in any life.

Trust Him. Call upon His Name, the Name above all names, Jesus. Ask Him to give you the trust with which to trust Him, and He will do it. Please do not be one of those Christians who misses all the benefits, all the joy, all the peace. He longs to show Himself strong in your behalf. Trust Him. Be like Peter, who stepped out of his wobbly, sloshing boat and walked on the water, straight into the arms of Jesus.

You will not be sorry.