Contentment, Catechism and Assignments: 4 Moms Answer Questions

Today and every 4th Thursday  4 moms, 35 kids, Deputy Headmistress @ The Common Room, KimC @ Life in a Shoe, Connie @ Smockity Frocks and I will be answering reader questions.

I get this question about once a week, so I decided it deserved one more post.

Where did you get your girl’s swim suits?

You can read more info in this post or this one, but in a nutshell we purchased most of them from

Annie @ Beauty in the Surrender asked, “Does your family use the Westminster Catechism? How do you teach it to your children?

We do use the Westminster Catechism in several forms.

Mark helps our children memorize the Catechism for Young Children before they are able to read and we memorize the Shorter Catechism by including it in our memorization box.  Recently we purchased a set of CDs that have all the Shorter Catechism questions and answers in song.  We are playing these regularly to help the younger ones learn and older ones retain.

Mark has worked through portions of the Larger Catechism and Scripture proofs during our time of family worship.  This provides a good opportunity for Mark to teach the children what we believe and for questions and discussion on a variety of topics.

In my post about teaching young children I mention that we teach our younger children to take responsibility for their own work by requiring them to complete their daily school tasks without being reminded or nagged.

Jenn asked, “What sort of system do you use to keep track of your kids assignments in your homeschool? I love the idea of teaching my kids to be responsible to complete their assignments but there is no way that at the end of any given week I am going to remember what I told them to do.

I have a few tricks that I use for keeping up with this:

When it comes to workbooks like Greek and handwriting my method is simple.   Each week when I look at a child’s book I check and mark their work from the previous week and assign and mark the assignments for the next week.

  • Each page that is completed correctly receives a check mark or sticker.
  • If the page needs correcting, no check mark and I write the page number on the next unfinished page so that I’ll remember to go check it the next time I check their work.
  • I circle the page number of each page that I assign for them to complete over the next week and I write the due date on the last assigned page.

This allows me to tell at a glance what they’ve completed, which pages need to be corrected and what I expect them to complete over the next week.

Many of our other assignments are the same each week.  (i.e. Daily copy work or dictation, weekly nature and poetry journal entries, map work, etc.)  To keep track of these things I have a master list of the subjects that each child is covering and simply check off of that.

Any additional assignments I write on the chalkboard wall.

I will admit that sometimes things fall through the cracks and I don’t remember that I assigned something until later, but that doesn’t happen too often, at least not that I can remember.

One reader asked, “ [Our children] see other families with 1 or 2 children and they have benefits that we just don’t have (sort of like the grass is greener on the other side syndrome). How can we respond, react, and adjust our behavior that our children will see a large family as a blessing and will possibly *want* to have a passel of children when they grow up?

I have thought a lot about this question over the last few days because we haven’t seen this type of thinking in our children.  Our children feel sorry for kids who have only one or two siblings, pray that God will bless us with more children and are sad when we remind them that I am  probably nearing the end of my years of child bearing.  They also desire large families of their own, are  grateful and happy and don’t desire what others have.

I emailed the other ‘4 moms’  with the above thoughts and wondered if they would be better equipped to answer.  Their response was that we would probably all say the same thing.

So, I wondered, “What  are our children missing out on?


I asked my parents (who, although we lived below the poverty level for most of my childhood,  instilled a contentment and desire for a large family in my heart) and I asked Mark “Why are our children content with the family that God has given them, and why do they love and desire life in the form of many children?”.  They had three thoughts:

  1. Parental attitude – Kids usually learn from our thoughts and attitudes much better than they learn from  our direct instructions.  God is good and one of the best and most wonderful gifts that He gives us is children.   As I learned in the responses (both comments and emails) to my post about having many children, even though many people say that children are a blessing, many only want those ‘blessings’ on their own terms.   If we believe that what God says is a blessing is only a blessing if we get to pick the timing and the number.  If we believe that  we have a ‘responsibility’ to choose whether we would prefer to have a less restrictive budget (or more energy) rather than another child, then our children will consider those things too.
  2. Delayed gratification – We live in an entitlement generation.  Kids (and adults) today tend to think that they are entitled to a certain level of affluence.  I’ve met adults who think that they ‘must’ have cable TV, a cell phone, monthly manicure or quarterly hair cut.  In reality these things are all luxuries, no one needs them.  When I got a cell phone about 6 months ago,  it was a luxury.  It’s something that I know I don’t need and therefore it’s something that I appreciate.   If  we give our children what they want when they want it, it’s difficult for them to learn this lesson.  Delayed gratification helps children discern what is truly important.
  3. Gratitude – Throughout Scripture we are called to be a grateful people.   “for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:” ~Phil. 11:4 “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” ~ 1 Thess. 5:18  Rejoice in the Lord always.  Just as we, the children of God, are to be grateful to Him for His goodness to us, so we teach our children to be grateful for His provision through our family to them.

Compared to the majority of people on our planet, Americans are amazingly wealthy and amazingly ungrateful.  If you are reading this blog in your home then you have much, much more than you need.   I think that Kristen’s post, “When Jesus Isn’t Enough“, brings much of this home.

If you have questions  please feel free to use the search bar on the right to see if I’ve already addressed your question in a post.   Otherwise please leave your question in the comment section or use the contact form.

I’ve written a lot about homeschooling so if you have homeschooling questions, please explore my homeschooling page where I have links to many of my posts on why and how we homeschool.  You may also browse the blog by topic by clicking on the archives in the right hand sidebar.

You may go visit the other moms of many to see what questions they are answering today.

Next week we’ll talk about spending time with your husband without spending money.

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16 Responses to Contentment, Catechism and Assignments: 4 Moms Answer Questions
  1. pam
    September 23, 2010 | 8:26 am

    I often get asked about what my children are missing out on. It always makes me giggle because they have no real idea what they are missing out on. they know they are loved and that there parents are happy. they have everything they need. i love to read what you write, it always makes me feel normal


  2. […] Kimberly@Raising Olives […]

  3. Becky
    September 23, 2010 | 12:53 pm

    You always give such wonderful answers, thank you for your thoughtfulness!


  4. Sarah
    September 23, 2010 | 1:54 pm

    Thank you-the Catechism for Young Children looks interesting. I’m amazed how easily little ones learn and will think about adding this.
    Question about the Greek. I’ve been reading your posts about this with interest. We are just starting Latin in order to progress to Greek. We would like them to learn NT Greek. Have you found the Greek grammar a difficulty without the children having a background of Latin? Sounds as though you are managing to jump a long and time consuming step!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Our children have not had any problems with the Greek grammar.

    I’ve actually never heard of teaching Latin as a stepping stone to Greek, so perhaps I’m not aware of what you are trying to accomplish.


  5. Jessica Hilliker
    September 23, 2010 | 3:22 pm

    Thanks again for another uplifting, Truth-filled post! Mainly in regards to the “family size” question…I need to hear that more often 🙂


  6. Amy
    September 23, 2010 | 3:28 pm

    I am 42 years old and the baby of 10 children. There are only five grand children among all of us. The reason my older siblings give for not having kids is that my parents made it seem that having kids was a hardship and an annoyance. Being the baby I didn’t feel that way so I always wanted a large family. (Fertility issues prevented that, but I have two.)

    You are very lucky that you are instilling such happiness in your kids and showing them that you enjoy the life you have chosen. I hope I can do the same with my own kids.


  7. Linda
    September 23, 2010 | 5:04 pm

    Love, love, love Raising Olives! So encouraging and life affirming! The Greek curriculum that you use and pointed your readers to. . .well it’s happening here this year, and everyone ENJOYS GREEK!
    Thank you for this post–for all of your posts, Linda


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I’m so happy that you are enjoying Greek. It’s such a delight to see our children passionate about learning to read God’s Word in the original language.


  8. Luci
    September 23, 2010 | 8:03 pm

    We have 4 children so far, ages 9-2, and ours pray for more children daily, and, like yours, don’t feel like they’re ‘missing out’ (perhaps a better way to say it is they don’t *realize* they’re missing out). I agree w/your points, but I also wonder if some of the discontent of the other family’s children is related to *who* those children are friends with. We’ve been careful to encourage friendships among like-minded families, who aren’t ‘into’ things and who usually have more than the average number of children. Negative friendships can create an appetite for more and more. Also we’re never said we’re not purchasing this or or not doing that b/c of family size…we’ve just said that’s not how we feel led to spend our money or time.


    Amy Reply:

    Wow! I LOVE this website and have found so much encouragement, so many helpful ideas, and so much inspiration. We are raising our daughters in a Christ-centered home and have many hopes and dreams for our children. However, our greatest desire is that they build a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and as a mom I consider it my greatest mission to nurture a love for the Lord in them, teaching them to love and serve others for His sake. We look to Scripture as the ultimate moral authority in our lives. My husband is an amazing spiritual leader for our family. Therefore I consider myself to be “like-minded” in the most vitally important areas.

    Having said that, I think my family looks very different from Kim’s and many of her readers in many ways. We have “only” 3 children who attend a private school. I believe each and every child is a precious gift from God, and volunteer every week as a peer counselor at a Pregnancy Crisis Center in my community. However, we practice non-abortive (i.e. no pill, etc.) means of birth control. I really, really respect and admire those mothers who feel God has called them to be the mothers of many. But please remember that not all of your readers may look exactly the same. I found one poster’s comment hurtful as her sister in Christ. Are we not “like-minded” because we choose not to home school, etc. We have felt led to send our kids to school after much prayer because for US, (and God may guide others in another direction), but for US we felt comfortable delegating some of their academic instruction to others as a trade for the experience of learning to “be in the world but not of the world.” We are protective of their hearts and minds, and consider their SPIRITUAL instruction ultimately our responsibility as indicated in Deuteronomy.
    I have started your Memory boxes, nature journals, chore charts… as I said I find so many of your philosophies, principles, strategies, recipes etc. amazing! I loved your post about disagreeing with love… there are some nonnegotiable biblical truths… one way, one truth, one light, one Savior, etc. But there are many ways God calls each of us, gifts each of us, etc., and I think that we need to keep our eternal perspective on this world and focus on the fact that the same Holy Spirit dwells in each of us. Paul’s letters illustrate the importance of unity, and that is the only way we can be salt and light! I know you understand this, Kim, because you mentioned you are in bible studies and moms’ groups with moms of different denominations, with children learning at home, in public school and private school.
    All this rambling to say, that I want to continue to enjoy this blog as a “like-minded” sister in Christ, and I may not make all of the same choices but we are of the same heart I think! Just felt moved to speak up for those of us readers who are not moms of many 🙂

    Thanks for all you’ve shared Kim! You are fantastic and I know God must be so PLEASED by your life!


    Luci Reply:

    Amy, I’m late catching your reply to my comment, but I would like to say that I think you mis-read my comment. I qualified ‘like-minded’ families, as “those who are “aren’t ‘into’ things and who usually have more than the average number of children.” That said, we do homeschool but that was not one of my stated or even unstated qualifications. In fact, we’ve seen materialism in other hs-ing families and have shied away from those friendships. The discussion was on discontent in children, not homeschooling.

    Thank you.


  9. Michele
    September 23, 2010 | 10:10 pm

    Thanks for posting about the Shorter Catechism CDs. I went and listened to a sample song and they sound simple, but great! Do your children enjoy them?



    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    We listen to these CDs every morning because I say so, if the kids have a choice they will choose a CD from our Jamie Soles collection. That said, they enjoy these CDs they just like others more. 🙂


  10. Becky
    September 24, 2010 | 1:43 pm

    Luci, I think that what you said about who the children hang out with goes for adults as well. I have friends that have less children and more time and money.Sometimes I get jealous that they can go to the gym and then out to lunch and shopping, but when I think about putting my kids in school and giving over the best part of their lives to someone else I know we’ve made the right choice for our family. I love this site because I feel it is rooted in Gods word and It is nice to have a place where like minded people can learn great tips and learn from people who have been there. Thanks Kim!


  11. Michelle
    October 14, 2010 | 11:41 am

    I hope you dont mind me asking you a question. (I read all the time but seldom comment.)

    We have a just turned 13 year old. She’s always had a strong sense of right and wrong and will often tell on herself. She’s very disobedient, but the fact that she so often feels bad about it has been good.

    Since she’s turned 13 I see that going away. Two things have stuck out to me as a real change in her heart. (The little acts of disobedience were probably indicative of a bigger heart issue but just werent coming out.)

    She was given a dress that was micro short. Rather than tell the person who gave it to her that it was way too short for her and not wear it, she wore it for a while. A year ago, she wouldn’t have done that.

    Normally, we allow her to check out books from the library that I have not read. (I usually review them in some way but not necessarily read them.) She also reviews books for her her younger sister. If it’s inappropriate, she brings it to us. This past week a book was recommended to us by another christian family so I didnt review it. (My mistake.)

    In the book there is an inappropriate relationship. I’m not sure how in detail it got, but she never told me. Last night I asked her about it and she told me she didnt finish the book because it was inappropriate. She fudged the truth. When pressed she came out with the fact that she had read way beyond what she should have and now felt really funny that she had read so much.

    I’m disheartened that she is going this path.

    Suggestions for me? Have you struggled with similar issues? Any of your readers have suggestions?


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