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Will You Let Your Kids Out to Play?

Will You Let Your Kids Out to Play?

Yesterday I took the dog for a walk in a small wood near our house. The path was barely there—overgrown with brambles that tore at my jeans and green hand-me-down vest. I breathed in the cold air, glad to finally be walking on something besides manicured lawn or asphalt.

Everything seemed to be sleeping under the dusting of snow. The twigs snapping under my boots nearly echoed. After a few steps, a big, brown owl took flight in front of us and glided further up and further in to the trees.

Piper, a novice at hiking, hesitated to make his way through the thorns, but bounded forward once I called him. I could see that this dog, who shakes with anxiety when we travel, was morphing into the puppy whose senses are bombarded with everything that’s new and exciting. He wanted to sniff it all.

Piper’s not busy like that inside. In our old house, he’d silently sleep the days away upstairs in a dark corner of a deserted room. Up there, it was warm and lonely, with little sensory input.

Sometimes our kids are like that. We want them to have tidy, full resumés for college. We want them to achieve and not make a scene. So we sign them up for every organized activity under the sun, planning their days, and tucking them away in safety until they turn 18.

In pursuit of these goals, we subordinate their senses, their creativity, their very freedom.

We still have a lot to do today: things to unpack, things to organize, and things to clean. Like my friend Sally said, it’s enough to make me want to BURN ALL THE THINGS. So yes, my girls are currently cleaning their room, and my son will help unpack garage boxes later, but right now he’s building a snow fort with the neighbor kids who have trickled out of doors.

Sometimes vitality is easy to facilitate: like saying “Yes,” or venturing off the asphalt. Sometimes it takes more effort, like the hour it’ll take to put gloves and boots on the girls this afternoon. But every second of joy in the snow will be worth the effort.

How can you help your kids awaken their senses today? What can you say “Yes!” to? What doors can you open? What mess can you allow? What freedom can you give? Won’t you let your kids come out and play?

Rhiannon Kutzer

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Nice to meet you!

I’m Rhiannon.

You can call me Rhi for short (as in “rejoice”). I’m a fiercely independent homeschooling mom of five, a Navy wife of 13 years, and a creator of various things: articles, a semi-regular newsletter, quilts, furniture, and the occasional knitted scarf. This is the site where I write about our homeschool journey and news and happenings in the homeschool world. more about me.

Rhiannon

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Need a shot in the arm for your homeschool? Get Thrive Together, a monthly email that brings you:

--the best of the homeschool blogosphere,
--current homeschool news,
--and great quotes that will refresh your homeschool mama mind.

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  • Maybe you’ve never had a loved one on a ventilator, so you don’t know. I have. You don’t know the fear in your gut as you await the next minutes and hours until the doctors bring you updates and treatment plans.
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You don’t know the darkness and silence next to the bed of your (beautiful, vulnerable) person, kept alive by a machine. The respiratory therapists making adjustments to help your loved one’s brain get enough oxygen so she can make it to tomorrow.
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You don’t know the holiness of that bedside, where Christ meets you with His peace when everything is out of your hands. That bedside, where literally all you can do is read scripture and pray.
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I am telling you, that is a bedside you do NOT want to be at.
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I have been there and I never want to go back. God and an army of prayer warriors got us through that. Our person is still vulnerable. There are people in your life who are vulnerable.
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We were at that bedside with decades of collective medical experience on our side to develop best practices and treatment plans, and learn from mistakes made on other patients.
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Our loved ones who end up fighting COVID-19 with the help of a humming ventilator will not have that benefit. This disease is just too new.
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If you’re a leader of people, your job right now is to take care of your people. Be honest. Take this seriously. (We can do that without letting fear take control.)
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If you’re an employee, protect yourself, so you can protect your family. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, eat your vegetables, exercise, get good sleep, take some vitamin C.
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Above all #STAYHOME to #flattenthecurve so that you don’t end up by that bedside with not enough resources. Stay home, so that when the vulnerable person in your life needs it, they’ll have access to the ventilators and care they need.
  • FYI, your #Navy #submarineforce is still operating...even in the Arctic. My guy is finally out from under the ice! And I finally get pictures of his #ICEX2020 adventures. Unbelievably good to talk to him, even if we don’t get be with him in person #thanksCOVID #staythefhome #beagoodcitizen #submarinerscantsocialdistance
  • Blue Wyoming skies and wind blowing in the curls. Magical.
  • PSA: Don’t let curriculum publishers and internet ads scare you into thinking you NEED to buy their products to get your kids a solid education. #askamom #momsmentoringmoms
  • #Homeschooling when you didn’t choose it:
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I would feel totally overwhelmed and underprepared if I were in your shoes. Homeschooling is hard even when you did choose it. We’ve changed a little, too. Every meal is a reading meal these days if the kids want that. (They do🤓.)
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So, please ask me all your questions. I and other HSing mamas in your community have YEARS of experience with this atypical version of education. How can we help you and your specific kids in your specific situation? We have learned a lot of things the hard way and we are happy to help make this time smoother for you.
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What I desperately hope: those of you stuck in a situation you didn’t want AT ALL, might come to see education a little differently. It can be flexible. It can happen over the course of a whole day, with snacks, outside time, screen time, and play interspersed between lessons.
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This type of education is more about LIFE and HOME than you might think. While your students may be doing the same work assigned by the school, the setting change from school to home will change almost everything else about their educational experience this semester.
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Here are my two favorite tips to get you started:
1. Use short lessons. 
2. Alternate between types of work.
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The younger the kids, the shorter the lessons. Ballpark: elementary should be 15-30min/subject max. Middle school 30-45min/subject max.
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How does this look? Have your student read for 15 min, then do something physical for 15, then do handwriting for 15. That kind of a thing. “A change is as good as a rest."
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Don’t expect elementary kids to complete the whole assignment in such a short lesson. Just expect focused attention for that time, no matter how far he gets in the work. That builds the habit of, “when we sit to do school, we focus on school.” If you have to do 5 or 10 minute lessons because that’s all he had the attention for, that’s totally normal. Build up to longer periods, but it’s not really reasonable developmentally to expect hour-long math sessions for very young students. Those lead to tears. Ask me how I know.
  • Some days are just “pull your big girl panties on and handle your business like a grownup” days. Cheers to all of you who handled your business today. #navywifelife #adulting

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