February 14th - It seems like a day just for lovers. Chocolate hearts, flowers, "I love you" cards… most of us tend to think Valentine’s Day is more for us parents than for the children. And no doubt, homeschooling parents, probably more than anyone, need some time together away from the kids! So how can Valentine’s Day be a teaching opportunity within the homeschool?
February 14th provides the perfect opportunity to teach children about love; how to love. To show them that true love is ultimately not a feeling that comes and goes, but a choice. This is a concept that is certainly not taught in schools, and is rarely even acknowledged within American culture itself, but it is a foundational principle that guides healthy relationships. Valentine’s Day is a wonderful time to help children learn that true love, pure love, is an action rather than a feeling; a daily decision to put the needs of others over yourself regardless of your emotions toward that person. This lesson applies to relationships between children and parents, children to their friends, siblings to siblings, and of course marital relationships. The family is the training ground for loving others, and homeschoolers have a unique chance to nurture healthy habits of love that will provide the basis for relationships when children grow older. What better time than the holiday of love to emphasize the true nature of what love is about? Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Have your children write down one thing they can do for each member of the family to show that they love them, on Valentine’s Day. Then set them on a mission to accomplish each act of love.
- When your child says or does something unkind to a sibling, rather than having the child simply apologize, have him come up with something loving to do for that sibling (pick up her toys, let her play with a beloved item, let her have the first turn or choose the best seat, etc.)
- Read a book such as Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin, or Heidi, by Johanna Spyri and discuss how love as an action is displayed in the story.
- Have the kids each make a recipe for dinner on Valentine’s Day – but rather than choosing what they like, each child makes something that their sibling likes.
- Make a “love jar”. For a few days prior to Valentine’s Day, each family member writes at least one thing per day that they love about each other member of the family on a piece of paper, and puts it in the jar. Read all of the comments on Valentine’s Day.
- Keep a “Love in Action” chart. Each time someone in the family notices another member who is angry or upset, but responds in a loving way nonetheless, he/she puts a heart sticker on the chart for the loving individual. After a certain number of hearts, each person gets to go on a special date with Mom or Dad.
- Have older children keep a journal of the times they demonstrated love toward family members, and the times they did not. Discuss their progress each day, and have the child make a goal for improving his/her love of others by the end of the week.
- With older children, watch an appropriate romantic movie and discuss the portrayal of love. Is it based on action, or emotion? Have children write an essay on how well they think the movie illustrated the true nature of love.
- Have children choose a way to demonstrate love to others through service. They might work on the yard of an elderly neighbor, take muffins to a nursing home, serve at a soup kitchen, provide a meal for a new mother, or adopt a child through an organization like World Vision.
- Read through a book like the Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman, and discuss with your children what they believe the love language of each family member is. Then have each child develop a plan for specific ways he/she can show each family member love in that person’s own language. To learn more about how the love languages can be used in homeschooling, check out Suite101.