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Posts Tagged ‘life learning’

Fabulous Family Friday–Barn School?!

Friday, June 4th, 2010




Before I tell you about the title (I’m sure you are quite curious!) I wanted to share a wonderful child training tool–I think of it as “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” brought down to where the rubber meets the road!

I think I have reviewed this resource before on my blog, but I thought it fitting, since starting the Fabulous Family Friday posts, to do it again!

It is “Don’t Make Me Count to Three” by Ginger Plowman.   The first section is entitled “Reaching the Heart of Your Child”.  There are definitely some concrete ideas in here, but I love it that it starts with the heart.  After all, that is where it ALL starts, even for us as God’s children!

There is an additional resource that is great for using as you train your children, using Scripture.  Ginger also produces this, and it’s called “Wise Words for Moms“.   It’s in a calendar format, so you can hang it on the wall, or just open it for use.   

Ginger also has a website with some other good materials, although these are the only two I personally own.     (Just click on her name for her website.)

I especially think you younger mamas would love this book, but you know, we older ones can keep it fresh by reviewing and remember what’s most important in life–






So what is barn school, anyway?!



Several years ago, when we first started giving music lessons, most of our students were homeschooled.  So while one member of a family was having a lesson, the siblings would play with my girls outside.  The barn is always a fun place to play!  


My daughters decided to make a “town” in the barn, and named it “Butterfly” in honor of the wooden Monarchs that perch on the barn (made by a friend’s father). 




Each girl had a “house” area that was hers.  They used whatever old boards (and some not-so-old!) to section off their areas.  Then they added their “shops”.   Of course, all the students and their siblings wanted to participate!   So each one had their “shop”.     The currency was acorns!  


Your first visit to Butterfly, you could gather a can full of acorns to spend.  After that, you had to come up with your own business!


Two brothers of a student were very resourceful–they were the “water works”.  They would deliver water to your residence or business, and even to the barn loft!   They had quite an ingenious method of pulleys to get it up to the loft so they didn’t have to run up and down the stairs all the time!   Of course, if you lived or worked on the loft, you paid a bit extra for this service!   For an extra fee, they would dump your yucky water! ;)


They had all the amenities a small town could offer:






Grocery Store


Tea Room




Several restaurants


Sign shop


Post Office


UPS (that was one daughter swinging on the barn swing and throwing your “package” into your area!)


Trash Removal


Town “Garage” (for all the bikes!)


Various interesting shops (one daughter made butterflies out of colored paper clips!)


Even a Visitors Center!



Lots of fun!  But did they learn anything?




The library consisted of books bought by the bag at our library sale, as well as revolving racks and the vinyl cushions they used to use for story hour!   We also bought several drawers of the old card catalog system, and the “librarian” just turned the cards around and wrote down what we had!  She also made cards so you could “check out” books.  We even had old encyclopedias out there!  (They’re actually still floating around on the property…..)


The museum keeper also catalogued all the interesting artifacts (one being a tooth that a goat lost!). 


All the shopkeepers had to keep track of what they sold and their inventory, and of course the banker had to keep records!


They decided that there would be no “school” in Butterfly–all students would be homeschooled there!  


Once they had a bank robbery!!!  One student’s brother grabbed the “vault” (an old suitcase) and took off!   He was apprehended and caught.   The “residents” first were going to put him in the chicken house, but no one wanted to stand guard!  So they then brought him to the judge (me) and put in jail (sitting in the living room with me while I taught his sister–not his idea of a great time!).   We never did have a jail–that was the one and only crime!  ;)


 (Not the bank robber!  Just showing a picture of the swing!)

ALL of this took place with hardly ANY input from me!   I did not “make” them do anything.  I suggested, that’s all.   My oldest daughter decided to do a little “newspaper”, handwritten!   I told her about the newsletter template on Microsoft Works, and she figured it out and started cranking out quite the production!    She had an ongoing story as well as cute quotes….just think what she could do now!  Oh!  She IS!   It’s called Seven Sisters blog!  LOL!


That year was not a good year “schoolwise”.  I had had three miscarriages within 9 months, off my feet nearly a month each for two of them.  Not much planned school went on.  At the end of the “schoolyear”, I was reading my daughter’s “newspaper” and her story, and said, “Lord, who taught her to write?!  I didn’t!”  And that is when He spoke to my heart Isaiah 54:13 


“And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.”


We had a family reunion later in the fall after this “Barn School Year”.  As I was giving a tour of the girls’ “town”, some of my husband’s aunts were telling me what curriculum their daughters were using to homeschool, and one asked me what curriculum I used.  I waved my hand around and said with a smile, “THIS is my curriculum!”   :)


At first they were a bit surprised, but as I explained all the learning that was going on there, they thought it was really neat!





I know sometimes we need to guide and have a plan, but I also know that sometimes….no, a LOT of the time–life happens and you can’t do your well-laid plans.  Is the time a loss?  Are you in danger of being “behind”?


Well, no!   I don’t believe in being “behind” anymore.  As long as you are:


Being faithful


Not using it as an excuse to do nothing


Putting first things first (“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God…”)


Focusing on relationships


Providing an atmosphere of learning



Then I believe you are where God wants you to be, and He will see to your children’s education.



I had found an interesting book through a school called “Sudbury Valley” in Massachusetts.   Sudbury Valley is basically an “Unschooling School”!   Here is the Wikipedia description.  I am not saying that I agree 100% with all they do, and it is not a Christian based school, but I thought it interesting that this school has been in existence for over 40 years now, and has proven out over and over that having a curriculum and schedule does not equate success, and having freedom in learning does not equate chaos. 


I was able to get the book, “Free at Last“, from the library.   It was an interesting read!   One boy, “deschooling”, spent two years just fishing!  But the detail and intensity he used to pursue fishing transferred later to computers.  


Even if you’re not planning on being an unschooler, or even a “relaxed schooler”, I really think this would free you from thinking, “Oh, Johnny doesn’t know how to read yet!”  or “Susie can’t tell the difference between a noun and a verb!” or how about “Joan’s highschoolers are doing algebra and I know Mary isn’t ready for that.  I guess I’ll have to catch her up!”


I personally do think the children need a little guidance, and I do not necessarily think the kids ought to have a democratic vote in a family! :)   But there’s something to be said for going with the flow of their interests vs. trying to fit them into a curriculum.


Too many times we think it all depends on us doing the right thing–having the right schedule, using the right curriculum, following the right requirements, training our children just so…..but I’m going to let you in on a secret:



NOTHING depends on you



It all depends on YOU depending upon HIM!


The place you need to seek guidance is on your face before the Creator of those beautiful children.   This way takes more time.  More of you.  More interaction (you know–relationships!)  


But this way brings joy, peace, love….harmony, and faith—faith in your Abba Father Who cares for your children more than even you do!    Yes, even their education! 


Be open.  What you hear from Him might go against all you’ve ever thought about education.   But if you really believe He’s spoken, and you have your husband’s blessing, you can be sure you are in His will and you will be amazed at what your children learn.  And even if they don’t learn all the things you thought they should in 4th grade (or 6th or 9th), they will have learned what the Lord wanted them to learn.   You will find these experiences breed a love of learning that you couldn’t stop if you wanted to!



And someday, you’ll have some graduated and wonder how they learned some things…..and then you’ll remember….



Oh, yes!  The Lord taught them!





(Head over to the girls’ blog and see the new thing they’re doing–a cute “Behind the Scenes” video!)


(Special thanks to Anna for her beautiful flower pictures!)