Okay, by now you know that I am one of those life is learning and learning is life types of people but I still do firmly believe in the need for structured learning. Our school day does require a lot of routine – though I do shudder at strict scheduling. I guess I am still trying to find the happy medium after all these years. Underneath all of the second guessing and the “planning for success” though, my hubby and I have confidence in our underlying goal as parents for our kids education: it is our desire to raise our children up to be all that God made them to be, vibrant well-educated women who have a passion for God and a love for people and who use their unique gifts and talents to both pursue that passion and love but also to provide for the needs of their own families now and in the future.
So how does that translate into the nitty gritty of the day to day? Well, of course we want for our kids to learn to read and write and do their ‘rithmetic. We want them to be versed in sciences and history and geography but we also want more. We want them to have strong characters, to be able to work hard and to work smart. We want them to graduate from this homeschool not only with academic skill but with life skills.
Hence the newspaper route, a rather routine part of our week but a key learning time, too.
First, the things that we dislike about it. The biggest downer is the sheer volume of junk mail! It is indicative of a society that bases values on what you can get rather than what you have to give, that makes success equal to having more toys. It is also so wasteful and a horrible travesty in term of the environmental bludgeoning that each newspapers delivers.
Secondly, I live with a house full of readers and players and creators – but not terribly athletic folks. We love to be outdoors, but for some young souls that doesn’t mean being out doors with a cart full of newspapers. The work is hard and it isn’t all that much fun.
In comparison to these though there are many great reasons that we have embraced that have helped both parents and children to overcome the negatives of the newspaper route.
We, like many homeschoolers, live on a rather restrictive one-income budget, so we told the kids when they were all very young that when they started to wanting expensive toys that they’d better get themselves a job. For our oldest that came at nine years of age. She wanted a video game player and so she got a job delivering newspapers and earned the money she needed for the toys she wanted.
Having a paper route has been a great way to get physical exercise that aspiring cooks, mad scientists and generally non-athletic types have needed. My kids are getting paid to be physically active rather than me having to pay for them to do so.
It gives a much needed breath of fresh air even on those rainy days when we would have hidden inside. We only deliver two days a week but it’s nice to know that there are those required days to get out in the most dull weeks when it is easier to just get cooped up.
The kids have spending money that they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to have when mommy and daddy are trying to stay within a missionary budget.
No only that, they have learned first hand about giving, saving and spending, key principles that aren’t as easy to internalize when the money you are giving away has been given to you to give. They have learned to tenderheartedly share from their own resources and to plan for the future as well.
They have learned work ethic. We’d rather that our children learn, while they are young, that they need to submit to the authority of a boss than to struggle with the idea later in their adult years when their income is no longer discretionary. Not only that but they are learning that, even on the days that you don’t want to do it, you still need to get the job done on time. They are learning stick-to-it-iveness. They are learning the value of a job well done.
They are also learning valuable character qualities as they strive to “do all things without arguing or complaining”. They are learning to work together on tasks and to get along and to help out, to love and to be gentle and to be kind as they work side by side. They are learning, albeit slowly, to sing a happy song even when their heart feels grumpy.
They are learning to smile and to look adults in the eye rather than to avert their eyes and turn up their iPods as so many young people are apt to do while out and about.
They are also learning to be safe and smart. As they get older, each of my children earns the ability and privilege to do more in their little business, going from being the youngest, two year old, who gets to take newspapers from our dining area to the front porch and under Mom’s supervision to the front door of each of our next door neighbours, to the oldest who is able to go door to door out of Mom’s sight, walking on the road without supervision. They are learning how to stay safe when they meet up with people they don’t know.
I guess the minor part of their learning would be the opportunity to think logically about optimizing the walk on their route, the calculating and planning that they do as they earn and save for special purchases, the reading that they do while they should be stuffing fliers.
Newspapers are much more than a chance to make a buck or two in our house – though that doesn’t hurt either. Newspapers are a key part of our educational journey.
I hope that you enjoy the ever so routine moments in your days this week Friends!