A day in my Life - (late) Sairah Mattackal - True Story - submitted by Siji George

Sairah Mattackal -Article source: http://nripulse.com/Archives/DayInLifeMay.htm - Submitted by Siji George

Walk through a day in the life of SAIRAH MATTACKAL who home schools her six young children.

I have six little ones and it can be a challenge to home school all of them efficiently and take care of all the needs and responsibilities at the same time. To prevent chaos, I make a plan or assignment plan for each of the older children, usually for a week. I sometimes plan it for a month. I've trained my older two to be independent in their study. When they come upon a new concept, I teach it to them. One of the hallmarks of excellence is being an independent learner. This frees me to do some household tasks, take care of the younger children, and spend time in teaching the younger ones, too. In the most frequented part of the house (the kitchen), on a table is a metal bin/rack where they deposit their books/work that need correcting. I correct their work at night.

Before each day begins, my husband and I (usually) individually have our own quiet time followed by devotions with the rest of the family, including our little three year old. (As it is part of our normal routine, he doesn't have a problem with it. He is so cute, comes in groggily, rubbing his eyes, and kneels down. Of course, there's that early morning hug!) The children then clean up - washing faces, brushing teeth, changing clothes. Their rooms then have to be cleaned up - beds made, drawers and closets neat. The older ones are each given one smaller child to help get cleaned up. This took a couple of years to instill in my older children, but they know what is expected. As a result, the younger children know what is expected and what needs to be done. I usually give them one hour to do this after our morning devotions. They are all breakfast hungry and so they can't have breakfast until their rooms are clean. The children help in cleaning up after every meal.

As soon as they can write a little bit (about 6 years of age), we have them do a Bible study where my husband (or they) chooses a book from the Bible. From a passage to be read, my husband writes down a few questions (in accordance with their level of learning). The children then answer these questions. It has proved to be quite a blessing to our family. The older children help the younger one who is just beginning to write. We use this to guide them in reflecting about the character problems they may have; we integrate history, language arts, art, science, and sometimes even math with this.

The children then have piano/any other instrument practice, exercise time, and then academia. I give my older children the freedom to choose the sequencing of activities as long as they are responsible about their usage of time. Some of them might want to finish academics first and then do music. They also have the freedom to move around the house if they need a break, feed the pets, have a snack, play a little, goof off for a while, etc. They all have a healthy fear and respect for me, knowing I do exactly what I say (as they’ve had no choice but to be with me from in vitro onwards; they respect me for being strict and yet know that I’m as loving and understanding as is needed and more for them.)

In other words, I have established a routine. At the same time, I wake up each morning sometimes overwhelmed, but I am reminded that this is the day the Lord has made and I rejoice because my agenda is only to prevent chaos. I realize that God is leading the day's events and thus am flexible. If my children do not finish what I have planned for them, or if interruptions come up, or something unprecedented, I give it to the Lord and we keep moving on. The plan is always flexible. If the children need more time on a topic or assignment, I adjust the plan. I do not see any good coming out of frustration in the children.

I often rely on the older children to teach or aid or read to the younger ones. I rejoiced today to find my six year old gently instructing my four year old in writing letters and doing simple math. It seems to be so natural. It also makes them kinder and gives them confidence in what they are doing. I even heard him say quietly, "Don't be stubborn like me, Joe, or you'll find it hard to learn!" The younger ones seem to like their older siblings helping them this way.

We play games on Fridays (sometimes) that all the children can get involved in. For example, if we play hopscotch, the person who is learning to divide has questions shot at him, which he/she answers by jumping on the correct number. The one who is multiplying does the same with multiplication questions shot at him, those who are adding, subtracting, identifying numbers, counting, etc (I have all of them) play the game according to what they can do. I found some other board games the rules of which I adjust so that all of us can play.

I try to make their work meaningful and so shopping expeditions, cooking etc become educational practice at numbers, letters, words, adding, making change, estimating, what not, and self control. I consider that as school, too. Any repair man that comes into our home is subjected to six faces eagerly taking in his work and asking him questions. That's school, too. Lunch is usually leftovers or something I can put together quickly, but it is always a nutritious meal.

The children then read, play outside or inside as the weather allows, finish up assignments, etc. for the rest of the afternoon. The younger two take a nap. We also do science experiments sometimes in the afternoons. Dinner is prepared.

After Dad comes home, before or after dinner, we have a family devotion time. We enjoy singing. The Bible is read by all the children and each one prays. We use our evening family devotion time for the children to also ask questions, give presentations, oral reports, article summarizations, recitations, performances of their own plays, etc. Dad also might give “awards”, certificates that we make on the computer, etc for exceptional behavior or academics.

Every year, we, as a family, study one country. We research every resource we can get, even officials from that country. Each child does what he/she is able to do. We find neighbors or friends who are from that country over for a meal, and learn first hand about that country. We present our project at a Geography Fair hosted by our support group.

Sometimes, science is hard to get to and requires more time and preparation. Sometimes, I take a month where we, as a family, focus on science or some other subject that may be getting a back seat. It gives the children optimum time to experiment and for me to plan. This flexibility is another advantage of Home schooling. We also participate in the annual non-competitive science fair hosted by our support group.

We also go to the library on a monthly basis. Our excursions to the library are for real good books. Sometimes if one child is obsessed with something we will check out picture books and every kind of book on that subject. The whole family learns about that subject that way. Another thing we do to encourage the younger ones is having them collect "treasures" from outside (rocks, leaves, anything). Then we make a trip to the library and get books about that "treasure" to study. Our curriculum is thus diverse and flexible.

I was born in Nigeria where I spent the first 15 years of my life From there my family moved to India, where I graduated with Engineering and MBA degrees. When we got married, my husband George and I decided that when we have children, no matter what our financial status was, I would never get a job outside the home because we felt that family, relationships, godly and moral values was what mattered most in this world rather than a lifestyle focused on survival and maintaining a financial status. This was a very hard decision to make (because of our Indian high achieving mentality and natural ambitions) and I have been tested on it, but it has been the pivotal point of our family choices. The blessings have been innumerable.

When my husband first mentioned home schooling to me, I thought that was the worst thing we could do. But I began to realize that it would be difficult to raise children in the right way here, and decided that this was the best opportunity to teach them about God. Over the years, I’ve learnt that the advantages of home schooling far outweigh the disadvantages.

Home schooling gives me the opportunity to discipline my children, and teach them life skills, and a variety of learning experiences that are not learnt in school. Home schooling also provides us with flexibility in terms of hours put in, individual pacing and choosing the curriculum. Besides, it provides the children with several enrichment type opportunities. For instance, if it is a beautiful day, we may drive down to the park and learn science as we walk through the woods. There are no worries about missed school days, or safety issues. Most importantly, it helps in character building.

Misconceptions about home schooling abound. The biggest one is that home schooled children are deprived of socialization, and hence do not build social skills. To this, my argument is that it is the parents and family that need to influence children in dealing with the real world, and not peers or friends. Besides, home-schooled children do have plenty of opportunities to be with other kids. My kids attend enrichment programs once a week (in public speaking, music, science classes etc) where they have the opportunity to interact with other children. My daughter learns ballet and my boys play baseball.

If "socially deprived" means giving my children undivided attention (which they certainly do not get in school) and accurate social information about sex, drugs, character, relationships, and religion (as opposed to learning about these things in a traditional school environment from peers and teachers whom I do not know), then in a sense I guess my children are "socially deprived"; deprived from repeated and unnecessary exposure to misinformation and distorted values.

The second big question about home schooling is- How can you teach your children if you are not qualified to teach? There are numerous resources for home schoolers- curricula, classes run by excellent teaching moms and institutes, fieldtrip opportunities. Free catalogs can be ordered or distributed at Home school fairs and conventions. Curriculums have teacher's guides that you can follow if you prefer a script or other directions, and also if you might need some teaching yourself.

Research shows that just the fact that you are home schooling brings with it academic benefits of performing better than the average child schooled traditionally in public and even private schools. One study actually showed that the average home schooled student performs at a grade higher than his or her conventionally schooled counterpart in the elementary and early middle school years. After the eighth grade, the average home-schooled student performs four grade equivalents above an average public or private schooled student. Research also has shown that a parent's educational qualifications does not affect a home schooler's performance academically- it does not matter whether you have a college degree or have passed high school, or have a certification in education for your child to succeed academically (Most of anything I've learned in teaching my children is by trial and error, literature and from other home schooling moms).

Home schooling is hard and challenging sometimes. It requires commitment and sacrifice. Yet, my children and I love it and we love our Lord who gives us wisdom, insight, and joy as we trust Him and obey His calling. 

- Sairah Mattackal 

Siji George submitted a true story about the Life of (late) Sairah Mattackal on Christian stories. YOU can Share your stories and experiences too at  http://www.christianstories.co/2011/12/share-your-christian-stories.html  God Bless. Share to Bless others. :)