The Grammar Years (Grades 1-4)

Panel Discussion on the Grammar Years

ST. EMMELIA WEST CONFERENCE, APRIL 2018

 

THE GRAMMAR YEARS

I: Please introduce yourselves and tell us about your family.

PA:  I’m Presvytera Ana, my husband Fr. Ion is a priest in the Greek church, and we serve a little mission church in Monterey/Carmel. We have two boys, Andrei, who is 18 and Alexii who is 11.  We have always homeschooled all the way through, except for three years when we were in Boston in seminary and we had a really wonderful Orthodox school that he went to, otherwise they’ve both been homeschooled.

 

I:  Why did you choose to homeschool?

PA:  Well, in the beginning, I wish I could say it was for the reasons we do it now, but it was kind of for secular reasons.  Andreii was young for his age, he has his birthday in December, and we really felt like he was ready for school, very ready, just bored with everything, but nobody would take him, nobody had a plan.  I’m kind of a researcher, that’s my personality, so I actually visited 30 different schools. I had spreadsheets and tables, and everything (laughter) -- this is the way I am, I’m an engineer by training, and I’m just very analytical that way. So nobody had a plan, nobody could tell me that they had a plan for what to do with a child who was ahead or a child who was bored. So then we just started thinking you know, we can do this ourselves, and then we can have exactly the kind of education that we want. So it was all from an education point of view, but that changed really quickly, because we realized…wow.   We didn’t even know anybody who homeschooled at the time, and so after we got into it we just realized, wow, this is really where we should be, this is where God wants us to be. It allowed us to participate fully in the life of the Church, and so it quickly changed into more religious conviction for us.

 

I:  I’ve heard of people researching but I’ve never heard of someone looking at 30 schools, so that’s pretty impressive! (laughter)

PA:  I had spreadsheets for everything (laughter)

 

I:  So what is your educational philosophy then, and how does that affect what you do every day?

PA:  I was introduced to the classical method when Andreii was little, it was before he was in school, and it was actually kind of funny because it was an atheist Jewish woman, or a woman from Israel who introduced me to it, and it kind of fit very well since my husband is Romanian, and it fit with his education growing up.  So we just started from there, and the more we got into it we realized how well it fit for our family and our worldview and everything.

 

I:  OK, so, we have entire talks on classical so I don’t want to get into it too much, but just really briefly can you explain what your take on classical is?

PA:  So classical education is a method, it’s not a specific curriculum. It’s divided into three stages: the trivium, which means three roads, and it goes by rough ages of the children and their learning, it takes advantage of the learning style that they have naturally during those stages of their lives.  So the first, the early elementary grades 1-4 (I have my cheatsheet here in front of me on the computer because I know this stuff inside and out, but I didn’t get to prepare today)….for 1st through 4th grade, roughly, it’s the grammar stage, and that’s about memorizing and observing and just collecting a lot of data, just filling their little heads with lots of information, because that’s what they’re good at during that time. That’s when we learn a new language, and that’s when we can really absorb a lot of information.  And then the logic stage, or the dialectic stage, is kind of the middle period, and it kind of depends on the child. You know they’ve entered that stage when they start asking you a lot of questions, and they start contradicting you or calling you out, like my son likes to look and say “Mommy, you’re speeding, I saw the speed limit” – this is the kind of thing. And just really wanting to argue. And that’s a natural stage, and you take advantage of that, because then you start going back through material you’ve already learned and asking “why?”, and that’s when you do proofs in math, and that’s when you introduce debate and logic.  Because they’re ready for it, that’s what their minds want. And then the rhetoric stage is roughly high school, and then they’re ready to kind of put together all the facts they’ve gathered, and all the techniques they’ve learned to debate and argue persuasively, to really start having original ideas and thoughts in being able to argue their points, and to be able to defend what they believe.

 

I:  So you said for the grammar years, you’re doing a lot of memorization, (PA: yes) and what other kinds of things, what does your day look like then, for the grammar years?

PA: Ok, so just focusing on the grammar, there’s a lot of repetition in the early years, if any of you have kids that age, and younger, you know they want to read the same book, over and over again. They like to memorize things, they love songs. This stage you can teach a lot of things to kids, using those natural inclinations that they have.  So it’s more about not necessarily learning material, it’s about filling them up with ideas and facts that then they’ll be able to draw from later. A lot of times the classical method says the stages are about having pegs, like pegs on a wall to hang stuff on later. It’s like we as adults when we hear a word for the first time, a word we didn’t know, and then all of a sudden we hear it everywhere.  It’s like that for them, because once you’ve been exposed to certain information, then later when they’re a little bit older then you can start going into more detail about it. And it’s more about, it’s less as a subject, like English is less of a subject and more about information-gathering; and science is about information.

 

I:  OK, so if you were in school, for English, you would typically do, like, grammar workbooks, and you know, write about your summer vacation.  So in classical education, what would that look like, how would it be different?

PA:  I think you still do a lot of memorizing for later, like parts of speech, definitions, list of prepositions, all kinds of things in English, or grammar, for instance, that you could memorize, but you could also have spelling, handwriting, copywork…you just don’t really expect the kids to have original ideas.  How can you have original ideas if you don’t have anything in your mind? So a really good thing, while you’re working on your handwriting is to give them beautiful pieces; it could be from the church fathers, it could be from high-quality literature, something like that, to work on, when they’re practicing those skills.

 

I:  So you’re saying that when they copy something, do you think what they’re copying is as important as the skills that they get while copying?

PA:  Well, I think if they’re copying, it’s about the copying, but you can enrich it by pulling in other things that you want to fill their brains with.  So if you have a quote from the Scriptures, or from a hymn from the Church, Christ is Risen, or something that you want them to have, then they’re going to spend a lot of time on the copywork but they’re also going to have those beautiful words.

 

I:  You’ve described the methodology a little bit, how do you choose the curriculum, or what to study, within that methodology?

PA:  Well, curriculum is… I think there is good curriculum available for this, but I don’t think you necessarily have to have curriculum. I mean the definition is, you’re going to buy something from somebody, that somebody’s put together, that they think is what your kids need to know for that age.  And sometimes that’s a good thing to have, but sometimes it can just feel really constraining. So I think it’s more about finding things that work with what you want to accomplish. For instance copywork, there are some beautiful examples over there (in the hall) of copywork you can have your kids do, they have lives of the saints, or you can make it up.  I made a lot of stuff up at this age, I did use some things, but I also made a lot of things on my own.

 

I:  So how did you organize your day, was it kind of a set schedule, or was it more free, or…?

PA:  No, I’m a schedule person. (laughter)

I:  That was a dumb question, wasn’t it?

PA:  And so is my husband, so he’s like, “OK, they have to be up at this time, because this time is morning prayers, and this time is breakfast.”  I mean, he kind of dictated it too, because he wanted to be there. Our kids are bilingual, and he had his time with them, and he didn’t want that to be interrupted because somebody wanted to sleep late.  So we got up and there were prayers, and breakfast, and there was reading that he did, because one thing I’m not talking about at all, because we’re talking about the academic method, we’re not talking about the Orthodox part of it, the Orthodox education that should permeate everything, and then we went right into subjects.  I’ve always given them choices, like, what do you want to work on now, but sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t.

 

I:  So it’s predetermined, for that day, all the things you need to accomplish for this day, or this week?

PA:  Yeah.

 

I:  Switching gears a little bit, do you allow computers and tablets, internet at this age?

PA:  No. I just don’t think they’re needed, or necessary, and I think they’re a distraction.  They have books, and paper, and writing, and all the things they use. We don’t even have tablets.  I mean, if he wanted to talk to his dad on the phone, he could use my phone and talk to him, but otherwise, no.  And we’ve never done any online curriculum at this age, I want him sitting somewhere with paper, and pencils, and...

 

I:  And have you ever run into the issue of having kids who weren’t motivated?  I don’t mean just once or twice, but kind of a habit of not being interested in getting their work done (Muffled by child crying, not sure I got that right)

PA:   Oh yeah, I used to explain to A.  – and I stopped saying it because I think he was kind of proud of it  -- schoolwork was this unfortunate thing that got in the way of all the important things in life, and he still feels that way, so that’s his struggle, it’s his cross, working on obedience.  I think we have this great opportunity as parents to work more on with our kids because we have more time with them, because we have more time with them, is this idea of obedience within the family, and that they’re going to have to struggle.  Struggle is a part of life, so we just kind of live with that, that that’s his struggle, that he doesn’t want to do his work, he wants to be out making weapons in the shop, or playing outside, or looking for bugs, or whatever boys do.

 

I:  Looking back on that whole stage, what are you trying to accomplish in that stage?

PA:  I just give them, I think the most important thing (and actually what I said before, I’m actually out of this stage, he’s older, so we’re in a more work-focused stage) – I think it’s just gathering information, learning some basic skills, you want them to be reading, you want them to be able to write, and have a love of learning, and a wonder at the world, to not neglect, that there’s a lot more to it than just the academic parts – there’s art, there’s music, there’s being outside and experiencing life.

 

I:  Anything else you want to add, for people embarking on this part of their journey?

PA:   I think it’s important, I know when your oldest is this age, at least I know I felt like that, like we really need to get stuff done, and now looking back I wish we had spent more time just enjoying that time because it’s over so quickly.  And it’s just not as important, the academics, I mean the schools tell us, at this age they’re supposed to be doing this, and then you start having this complex, if you know people whose kids are in school, but the reality is they’re going to learn.  And some kids just aren’t quite ready to learn when the school system says they should be really academic, and there’s a lot more to life than this hard-core academics.

 

I:  And now Mrs. H  (“could you repeat the question?”) could you tell us about yourself?

CH:  I have seven children, all three of us are out of the grammar years, but I think it’s a better perspective, because your philosophy develops as you go through it, and sometimes once you get to the end of the road, you know what you would have done differently.  So we all are out of the grammar stage. My four oldest are adults and I have three still schooling, but they’re out of the grammar years.

 

I:  And what is your goal for the grammar years?

CH:  I really feel that this is where we lay the foundation for their spiritual development and academically one of the things that I want them to finish by the end of the grammar years is to have completely read the great collection of the Lives of the Saints by St. Dimitri of Rostov.  It is my number one goal academically. And in order to do that they have to learn to read. So obviously we’re doing math, we’re doing other subjects as well, but for me, this is one of the main things I want them to get through. And I also believe that the grammar years are a time when children can have creativity develop.  So yes, I believe that this is a good time for memorization, their brains are like sponges. I also believe though, that this is a window of opportunity for them to develop creativity. Because as children get older, they become a little bit more fearful of expressing themselves. Some things, like writing, you can’t really develop that creativity at a young age, because you don’t have the tools.  And that’s what PA was talking about. But I think there are some things, like artistic expression, and there’s just several different areas where a younger age is really nice for them to know that there is freedom. So with memorization, there’s a right and a wrong. But with creative development, there is no right and wrong. You have to have the courage to put it out there, to express yourself. And I think this is an important time to foster that, so they are less fearful as they grow older.  Like, to draw something on paper, to not give them coloring books but just give them a big white piece of paper and let them deal with that. And with memorization, for me, the content is more important than actually memorizing, because I want their mind to dwell on certain things, and not to dwell on other things, because children are replaying things in their minds all day long. Their minds are so active, that we can help them channel their thoughts on good things by what we give them, in terms of the copywork, and what they read.  So I think the content’s important. I think what children read by age 12, I like to see them move into reading material that is about spiritual development, and in order to do that I think it’s really important, earlier, to have read or have heard their parents read to them the lives of the saints, specifically, St. Demetri of Rostov. Because at this age, they do need information in the form of a story that is captivating, and this is the best collection that is written in the form of a story but it is all truth. And in terms of content, especially if following the classical method, we’re cycling through the different periods of history, ancient history, medieval, the grammar years is the first cycle, and in those four years you go through those 4 periods, and then after that you go through them again.  So each period, beginning with ancient history, that’s an introduction to a lot of early, and pagan, ideas. My feeling on that is that children need to start with truth, they shouldn’t start with falsehood. So if they’re going to learn something about ancient history it should only be through the perspective of the saints. The only mythology my children would have been exposed to would have been, from the perspective of the life of a martyr who spit at that idol, and said this false god represents this, this and this passion, and I will not bow down to it. So I just think content is really important, and at grades 1-4, they have to be fed as much truth as possible. That’s my philosophy. But it’s about giving them truth. It’s also a time for memorization, but I like the content to be good, I mean truth, and I like it to be content that they will dwell on, that is generating good thoughts.  And it’s a time of creativity, and it’s a time where they should be able to spend a lot of time outside.  Also no screens. I don’t even like toys that make noise, or that do something for you, that perform for you.  A toy should be something that is for creative development, where you have to make something….you build with it.  Because this helps develop creativity. Time outside is for me, really important. I think from grades 1-4 we spent very little time at a desk, and a lot of time outside.

 

I:  So, what did your typical day look like in those years?

CH:  It depends on how soon a child learns to read.  I encourage my children to be independent learners, so after the grammar stage, they were working almost entirely independently of me.  Most of my time was spent with the children who were in the grammar years, but especially the ones who were learning to read, those were the ones who had the most time with me.  So some children learned to read in kindergarten, some learned in first grade, but I don’t want you to walk away thinking that’s the expectation because every child is different; some may not learn till second grade or third grade, some may be a late reader.  We have family with dyslexia, but I don’t think that changes the goals. I mentioned this in the St. Demetri of Rostov talk earlier, it just puts more on the parent to spend more time reading to the child. But a typical day? It’s hard for me to remember how much time they were actually spending at a table with pen and paper. I would say first grade, maybe an hour.  But that doesn’t include reading time. I mean, how long do you expect a first grader to sit there? If they were sitting at a table, they would probably spend as much time with a blank piece of paper and paint as they did with copywork. I think that kids should enjoy their day. I think being outside collecting bugs and making weapons is a good thing, and educational, and I honestly consider that as much school as copywork.  So what I’m saying is I agree with PA, those are good things.

 

I: It’s really hard to squish 4 years into ten minutes.

CH:  I would say that there’s a lot of growth and development in those years.  By the time they’re in 4th grade, they’re spending several hours, but I still think they’re easily getting their work done before lunch.  



I:   So 3rd and 4th grade, I know a little bit about what your kids do now….( a bit of joking… ) and how much they’re expected to read.  I know that you give your kids a certain amount of time to read every day, required, it was a lot more than what my kids were expected to spend on reading.


CH:   My older kids were required, once they learned to read, to read 2 hours a day.  One hour was what I labeled as required reading, so there was a list, or a section of the library that they could pick anything from for reading, and then they were also expected to read free choice, free choice still being something in my home that I approve of, but not necessarily what I consider required.  But I have become lax in my old age, and now they only have to do one hour a day, but it’s required reading. And if they want to read outside of that boundary then it’s on top of that.

I:   OK, so they’re reading every day, they’re doing math every day…
CH:   Yes, I mentioned earlier that I was very influenced by the Robinson curriculum and his basic philosophy is (I don’t know about the early years, but in general) two hours of reading, two hours of writing, and two hours of math.  History and science would have been incorporated into the reading and writing.

I:  So it wasn’t a textbook, it was more like a living book…

CH:  Even if they were doing a textbook, you’re assuming that you’re reading something or writing. But I’m saying that 6 hours did not necessarily apply to those early years, (the grammar years), but I would say, maybe an hour of each of those subjects for the very early years, moving towards, the maximum we would have ever done would have been what Robinson suggested, the 2, 2, and 2.  And definitely science, history, catechism, all of that is incorporated into what we were reading.

 

I:   Which you go into in your other talk….

CH:   Yeah, I’m just saying I didn’t view it like subjects. They’re learning those core skills, of communication, and then to be able to calculate, and their subjects are all covered in that.

 

I:  And before I forget, if you want more information on the St. Demetri of Rostov there’s an entire talk on that that you did this morning.  So, what’s your advice for people entering this stage, something you wish you had known, or that you would do a little differently?

CH:  Lord have mercy! Sorry…advice…I just think that the time is short, and we don’t want to get really caught up so much in, did we accomplish…They grow up so quickly, and our attitude during the day, like how stressed out we are, especially if we’re moving through a period of time, I mean, during the grammar years, we’re often pregnant, and having more children, and so I would encourage you to keep in mind that your relationship, the way you carry yourself and interact with your child during the day, is very important.  I would say that that reading time…I think that moms should spend that time on the couch every single day with their children. And obviously, we’re not even touching on the fact that we should take our kids to church, that the church cycle should penetrate what we’re doing, like are we focused on are we in Lent, are we in the Nativity fast, the feasts that are coming up, always that preparation should penetrate everything we’re doing, so the kids can have an awareness of the liturgical cycle. I would encourage moms…when I look back and think about me, when my oldest children were in this stage, and I was pregnant, and I had little kids, and it was really hard.  And it was really hard. And I was tired. And it equates to grumpiness. And you’re not obeying me. And that should not be their memory of that period of time. And so, just to love them, I guess, more. I think that when my younger kids moved into that stage, I don’t even remember that stage that well, because I had older kids also helping me with that. My younger kids tell me now that their older siblings taught them to read and I didn’t actually teach them that – and it’s all a blur!! I think I tended to be more rigid with my older kids, and maybe more grouchy, and I think we have to let that go and try harder to love them and enjoy that time because it is short.  I mean the whole spectrum is short. They grow up and leave the house in the blink of an eye. But even that little window, there’s so much development that takes place (in the grammar years) on so many levels – cognitive, spiritual, creative, there’s so much that is being developed in that very short period of time. And their perception of God and the Church and how the world works is greatly affected simply by your lifestyle, and your attitude, and the parents’ spiritual state is playing a huge part in the formation of the child at that age.

 

I:  I think so many of us, I’m sure these ladies can agree, deal with that feeling of time is short, I’m so grumpy, I need to get over it, just that struggle to love our kids.  Because we’re with them all day long, and it is a struggle for all of us.

CH:  Yeah, it’s something we should focus on – you know, it’s different when you have so much, and there’s just mountains of laundry, and mountains of dishes, and maybe it’s different depending on whether it’s a big family or a smaller family, and sometimes it seems impossible to keep the order that you want, and the expectation for what we’re accomplishing academically.  I just think we can’t get caught up in it to the point where it negatively affects our attitude. We have to just know that there’s a higher purpose here, and that our attitude is going to affect our children.

 

I:  Thank you.  GS…please introduce yourself, kids, where you are on this journey, etc.

GS:  OK. So, I’m all done, my oldest is 32, and my two youngest are 21, so 2015 was my last year of homeschooling.  But I had 25 years of doing it, so it took a while.

 

I:  What was your educational philosophy in the beginning, I know it probably changed over time?

GS:   My philosophy really was, there was a funny story this morning about somebody who met their husband and wanted to have ten kids, and my husband and I were quite the opposite, we had this whole plan, we had a 3 year plan, because when we got married I had a year left of graduate school, and then he was going to write for a year while I worked, and then I was going to write for a year, and then we were going to have a child.  Well, we got pregnant right away, and somehow I managed to finish that year, and as soon my son was born I was like, “I want to have six of these!” -- you know, I just fell in love. So, in his infancy, I was just thinking, how could I send him away? I didn’t even know anything about homeschooling, I was just thinking, in five years I don’t want him to go away for most of the day, I want to have him with me. And then, so…in terms of philosophy, I came to homeschooling from a very secular, purely academic viewpoint.  Somebody handed me a John Holt book – and I ended up reading 3 of his books; he was an educator. And those books were really influential for me in terms of, you could accomplish -- in elementary school, in these grammar years -- you could accomplish what they needed to do in a couple of hours a day, and they could have this childhood of freedom, where they could play outside and be in nature, and that sort of thing. So that was kind of my starting point, years before kindergarten started; that’s how I was approaching it at the time.

 

I:  So what were your goals then, for those years?

GS:  I didn’t know anything about classical education for quite a while, and I wasn’t Orthodox until my oldest was 10, so I was sort of taking it one year at a time.  You know, they’re going to learn to read, and they’re going to learn how to do math, and learn how to write. That’s how I started out. I wasn’t really thinking about it as a segment of years. People would say, “oh are you going to do this all the way through high school?” And I’d say, “I don’t know, I’m just taking it one year at a time, we’ll see what happens”. It didn’t seem that hard to me to educate through 4th or 6th grade at least as well as a public school could, which was all we could have done.  So that was how I went about it. Once they learned to read it was like, “whew!” I didn’t have any set amount of time that they had to spend reading, because I don’t know how, but my kids, all seven of them, loved to read.  So they were always reading and we had a huge wall of books, and when they were bored I’d say, “go get a book…pick something” and they were always reading.

 

I:   So what did your typical day look like in those years, I know it might have changed over time….

GS:   I’m sort of the polar opposite to PA, I’m like the poet to the engineer -- I was never very well organized, especially in terms of the clock.  I had an order to the day, which would be, we didn’t eat breakfast until we had morning prayers, and then after breakfast we would start with school, and different people doing different subjects, so that I could work with somebody, or something like that.  Like CH, the goal was to be done by lunchtime, so they could be outside, and like CH, they couldn’t go outside if they hadn’t done whatever it was they were supposed to get done. I already knew about boys -- I had four boys first, after being one of five girls in my family -- but I knew enough about boys from the books I had read that boys need to be active, they need to move, you can’t just have them sit there all morning.  It’s not going to work. But now, I look back and think, I should have had them go – well they did have outside chores after breakfast -- I should have had them just play outside for a while after breakfast and then come in and get to work.

       So getting started in homeschooling was from that perspective, but when we did convert to Orthodoxy, I really came to this whole other level of appreciating homeschooling. And that was because of being able to really be in the life of the Church in a way that they couldn’t have if they had been leaving for school at the same time every day.  You know, we went to every Holy Week service, and they could sleep in, and a parish close to us had feastday liturgies at 10 am on weekdays, and we’d go to those and come home and pick up where we left off. That was really wonderful. Even though when I started, I didn’t know about classical education, one of the things I think is so cool about the classical method is that observation of how children are good at things at different ages.  I think that memorization ability starts way earlier, way pre-K, because when we were Orthodox, my fifth child was two, and within that first year while we would be saying our morning prayers, she would be singing whole things from the liturgy, the Trisagion hymn, and other prayers. We were amazed, thinking, “wow, you can’t even talk that well, how are you doing that?!” I mean that was what was really beautiful to me, was how they just absorbed, from being in church. I felt like the Church was this incredible gift, of kind of raising my kids for me.  

      We read a lot of lives of the Saints, and poetry…I did require them to memorize, but they kind of did that anyway.

 

I:   So how did you figure out, I know you teach your kids to read, and basic math, but beyond that, how did you figure out what to teach, when, to kids?  How did you go about choosing, you know, did you do history with first graders, etc?

GS:   Even though I started at a pretty early time, not that many people were homeschooling, I mean this was such an ancient time (laughter), this was 1990, but I did have friends who were doing it also, and so I just found out about the very limited curriculum there was at that time, I did read history to them.  Those years involved a lot of reading; we spent a lot of time on the couch, just reading classical literature, and A Child’s History of the World, and the saints, and Scripture. It was kind of unstructured, except for math, they had an italic handwriting book, and their math book. It’s hard to even talk about my kids as a whole, as in “this was the grammar years”, because the time was so spread out, and everybody had a little bit of a different experience as different curriculums and opportunities came along.

 

I:   So did you allow, I feel kind of silly saying this because you homeschooled a long time ago, you probably didn’t have to deal with the internet, for the younger ones…

GS:   That was a great thing for the older ones, we didn’t have a computer, I think the oldest was in 6th or 7th grade before we even had a computer, so my older kids were screenless.  We didn’t have a TV, either. It was really funny because everyone was always trying to give us TVs when they would find out we didn’t have one; they’d say “Oh we have an extra TV in our house,” and we’d be like, “it’s ok! we have a VCR, we get movies from the library”.  


 

I:   What would you give as far as advice or encouragement to people doing this?

GS:  I think these two really said what I would say for this one.  My thing now is that I’m all done, I can’t still adjust or fix anything. All my (homeschooling) mistakes are in the past; and I think it’s really just what CH and PA said.  For me, it’s just SO short. I know when you’re struggling, you know, I used to have women in the grocery store who would say “oh, honey, I remember those days, they go by so fast”, and I’d be thinking “you have no idea, I got three hours of sleep last night, and I have four kids in the grocery cart!” But it DOES go really fast, and when it’s over, that window, that time becomes very special.  I mean it was special at the time. Even though I came to it with a very relaxed – I mean I continued to believe the philosophy that I came into homeschooling with, in terms of just having children enjoy their childhood and be outside, garden, and have animals, and have a lot of time to play -- but even so, you do get worried, not even by public school or private school people, but what other homeschoolers are doing.  What I would say is just: “Relax”, because it’s all going to be fine. Even if you really did nothing – I truly believe this with all my heart – if you did absolutely nothing but read to them and teach them to read, for the first four years, grades 1 through 4, your kids would be perfectly fine. If you’re just loving them, taking them to Church, reading to them, if – and feeding them (laughter) – they would be absolutely fine and you could put them anywhere after that, and they would succeed.  That’s really a very deep belief of mine. Sometimes that worry over academics – “I’ve taken on this huge thing!” – it really gets in the way, or it can get in the way, of what you’re really doing, of just loving them, of the kind of life that you believe you should be providing for them. (Story requested by CH) You can let those outside pressures, whether they’re from something like that or from “oh, my friend’s child is in this grade, and he’s doing this, this and this” affect you. It can become this pressure, and you think you’re not doing a good job, and then it impacts how you are with the children, and you have to keep your mind set on what your actual goals really are, you know, what am I actually doing here?

 

I:  So our goal today was to give you a glimpse into different families, and what their day looks like, and hopefully you see that while there’s a real variety of styles, what people do that fits their personality.  There’s also a lot of common things that you heard over and over again throughout the conference -- relax, love your kids.

 

PA:  I just want to say that I would hear this too, and I would think “they don’t know what they’re talking about”, when they’d say just relax and enjoy these years, and I would think “no, we’ve got stuff to get done!”.  But it really is, sometimes they’re just not ready to learn, and even if they are ready to learn, they’re going to learn faster later, too. So you can’t give up that personal time.

 

I:   Unfortunately we don’t have time for questions, but if you have any please let us know for the future…..