Living the happiest life possible, means you spend time doing things that truly make your heart smile. I’m not a hippie and super easy going all of the time, and too serious most of the time, and I recognize I need to have a lot more fun in my life.
Yet, around my kiddos – it’s so easy to have fun! This morning I was driving my daughter to school, and she says, “Mommy, I love you so much.” She’s honestly the sweetest girl in the world, also the most stubborn, and I love her so much. I told her that she makes my heart smile, and that’s a really good way to go after life.
Does this make my heart smile? No. Okay, not doing that again.
Does this make my heart smile? Does this person make my heart smile? Good. Let’s do more of that!
Something that brings me a lot of pleasure and happiness to my heart is working with my little son and doing schoolwork with him, after school. He’s turning seven in a little bit over one month.
It’s not actual school work that he receives from school, but school work I make up for him to do! He’s in 1st grade, and his kindergarten teacher instilled a great reading habit in us all last year. We had to write down the name of the book we read each night, and we are still going. This year, we don’t have to report on the books we read, but each evening, most evenings, he reads before bedtime. Most weekend mornings, he reads when he gets up. Unless of course other life things happen – like a football game first thing on a Saturday morning.
Most of the time, after he gets home from school, we do math problems. We always do six, because he’s six. When he turns seven, we are moving that number up to seven.
But yesterday I decided to switch it up! I walked into his room, and told him we’re going to play a game and mommy was going to time him doing some fun things! I made it a game, even though it’s not a game at all. He had site words I wrote out on index cards from the previous year, and even though he can read them all, now I want him to be able to spell them all correctly – if I read them out to him.
He took a marker, and went up to the white board.
I started the stopwatch on the iPhone, and said go. Then I gave him word after word to write out our whiteboard. There were 100 site words, and he misspelled 14 of them:
which – missed the h
write – forgot the
who – wrote how
been – wrote bin
some – missed the e
use – wrote yse
their – missed the i
people – wrote peopel
said – wrote siad
each – got it wrong
would – wrote woudl
water – wrote watr
called – forgot what he got wrong
were – misspelled the word completely
The good news, is that he was able to get the other 86 right. It took us exactly 16 minutes to get them on the board. He loved the timing aspect of this exercise.
It wasn’t a ridiculous amount of time, but it was a nice to see what he knew and what we needed to work on. Tomorrow and going forward, we’ll work on the words he missed, and perfect them.
Making this a game, and my son thinking it was a timed activity made him want to participate. And it was nice to see that it didn’t have to take that long. We did have to erase the whiteboard several times, so the total time we spent doing this exercise was a bit closer to 20 minutes, but still not too long.
Whenever I’m working with him, the hardest part can be actually getting him to want to do the work with me. Forcing him to do something is too exhausting for me, but when he’s leading the effort, it’s a win win for us all. He enjoys he work, he learns, he grows confident, he knows it’s good for him, it breaks up his afternoon a bit, and at the same time, he knows it makes me extra proud and happy.
The longer I am a parent, the more I realize I don’t think any of us know what we are doing. Each child is so different, and each one reacts differently to the parenting methods.
I want my children to realize they are able to make certain decisions that help them steer their lives in the directions that will make them happiest. I want them to know that they have to put in work, to get the rewards, and I want them to be able to easily take a different path if another one doesn’t suit them as well.
And this is my WHY for math practice, reading practice and writing practice. Certainty, I know, after having suffered through math in high school and limited math classes in college, I know that there is nothing I need outside of my iPhone calculator that will make or break me in the business world, BUT my ability to figure out what I need to know is the difference. I know if I don’t know something I can learn it. I can ask for help, I can research it, I can google it, I can think about it, I can have a positive attitude about it.
That’s what education and knowledge help us do. They help us help ourselves. So the fact that my boy is reading each night isn’t about him being able to read, but about being able to eventually solve a lot of his own challenges, problems, and more important pose his own important life questions – and then create his own solutions.
The same way he learns the correct spelling of the 14 words he did not know how to spell yesterday, is the same way he can learn the rules or theories or strategies or terms of whatever business, industry and craft in life he pursues.
If you want to work with your own kiddos, or want to better yourself, take the same approach. Figure out what they/you do know, what you want to know, what you don’t know yet, and get to it. Practice, and slowly elevate. By teaching my children that there is always more to learn, and learning is an active activity that takes practice, I am learning the same lessons for myself. Each day, I have the ability to set goals, and pursue them. I don’t know it all. I haven’t figured it all out yet, and I know I never will. BUT, when I focus and get excited about the learning, happiness grows.
Cheers to you, and your children, and learning, and living the absolute best life, one day at a time!