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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been thinking about something a friend of mine said to me awhile ago and I think it might be part/all of my homeschooling apprehension. She said she likes to have some place to go each morning (as in bringing her son to preschool). I don't necessarily feel that way, but it does seem like we have a considerable amount of "down time" at my house.

I think having someplace to be at a certain time helps some people feel more purposeful, or-?

I like flexibility but can too much have a negative impact on some/all of the family?

How do you define a sense of purpose?

How do your kids feel a sense of purpose?

I am thinking of these questions somewhat from the angle that my older DD seems to get bored sometimes. She asks about going to friends houses/them coming over or "where are we going today?" and floundering around sometimes unable to engage in anything. She has just turned 4 BTW. How do you deal with this? I should say that this is one area where I do feel guilty. I also really do believe kids her age need to just *play* and not worry about structure other than family routines. Also, we do have a fair amount of social stuff we do- like 1-2 times a week at minimum. We don't really do any museums or things like that since we live literally hours from anything like that.

I hope this isn't too confusing-I really just want a discussion about how your family defines a sense of purpose, and if you happen to have any pearls of wisdom about my 4 yr old that would be great!
 

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I don't think having a "sense of purpose" has anything to do with being at a particular place at a specific time.

I don't get how too much flexibility would have a negative impact on some/all of the family.

We are about as unscheduled as it gets. There are a couple of things the kids do each week that are at specific times and days but even those things shift from time to time.

I also don't think boredom is a bad thing. I've found that my children have often come up with some of the most interesting projects out of "boredom".

I find it interesting that their friends who have been off school for just a matter of a couple of weeks are climbing the walls and "BORED". They are calling here every day wanting to do something. My oldest is involved in his own things as usual and he's said to me - geeze mom I can't believe these guys always have to be going and doing things...it's like they can't just be. These "kids" are up to 21 years of age too.

Are you asking more about a sense of accomplishment? To me a sense of purpose or a sense of accomplishment can come from many different things. It really has nothing to do with going and doing things at certain times though.

Some people (usually adult people) really prefer to have schedules and want to go out and do something every day. I always find that interesting and think maybe there would be something to gained by their quieting their lives and becoming ok with being at home more. That maybe there would be some major growth for them if they were able to gain their sense of "purpose" or accomplishment or whatever they want to call it by being rather than doing. Maybe it could come from within rather than needing to go out and find it. IME people that get to the point where they are truly comfortable with just being in the world often will contribute amazing things to society


Personally, I think one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is allowing them to just be and learn that they don't need to get tied up in the fast paced world that we live in.

I think every person needs to find what their own balance is.

Not sure if anything I've said addresses your questions really.
 

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I think crazyclothmom said it very well. It is perfectly ok to not be running around all the time! Kids need free time to learn and play. BTW by 4yo DD wants to be very social right now too. My only concern is that she is too wrapped up in if her friends will like her & her appearance
Which I try to discourage but still build up her self esteem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Regarding flexibility: I thin I am thinking about kids who need more structure. It seems like my DD is one of those children. She has never been much of a self starter, and has always been much more interested in people contact than anything else-even in infancy. Isn't barely 4 too young to even feel boredom? really? This is how flexibility/down time seems to impact her negatively. I totally agree that boredom isn't a bad thing, but in my house it causes a lot of poor behavior that disrupts everybody.

As far as feeling a sense of purpose for a school-age child, I imagine going to school each morning might make a child feel important, or counted on (depending on the environment). This is not the only way, but it does seem like an easy distraction away from finding one's own sense of purpose. Finding one's own way could take a lifetime, if ever---?

Maybe I am just noticing how DD and I are so different. I am someone who can manage my own time quite well, have a lot of interests I like to pursue and do not need all the outside stimulation. This is what attracts me to HS -it is my own fantasy of the education I did not get.

Also to clarify I am hoping to open a discussion about what a sense of purpose looks like in your family.
 

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I think it varies, like children, do. For example, my nephew needs and loves structure, so they have a more. He enjoys books and learning and was an early reader at age 3. He is self-motivated, but needs to be constantly learning and have structure to it.

Us- we just play. I have a 5 yo/2yo. She's very right-brained, so far 2yo also seems to be. We have little structure- our purpose is being in the moment. This might change as the kids get older. My kids are not bored very often- we don't have a TV and they mostly build stuff, go to the park, ride bikes, play with friends, draw, go the library, work in the garden (watering the garden takes well over an hour even though it's tiny :LOL)

Dd does get bored if her brother is napping and she's alone- I usually set her up with some scissors, crayons, glue and paper and she's happy for an hour or so. (Though this was not always the case...she used to need me to WATCH her do crafts...)
 

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Sense of Purpose. Yes I can see how some people need that. That I did more than sit at home today. I see how society molds us stay at home mothers to believe we don't actually accomplish anything. We have taekwon do three/four times a week. That is as structured as we get. On those days when I'm feeling like I need a sense of purpose I get dolled up. It's vain I know but it gives me a sense that I've accomplished something other than just waking up. My kids need a form for the day "today we will do xyz" but we leave it wide open for spontaniety and fun.
 

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Ah ok...well see I don't believe that there really are children that need more structure..as in coming from another source. From my experience, children that *need* more structure will create it for themselves. Children have their own rhythms and usually it's more of a matter of tuning into this.

And for those who you might not consider to be self starters....well I think that they gain that by given the opportunity to become a self starter. Again in my experience...this often will come from a child not being given enough "down time" rather than being given too much down time. If you are feeling like she's needing some help in this area, there are lots of suggestions you could offer. I have just always tried to provide a rich environment for the kids and they come up with way more exciting things than I probably ever could.

The conversation about being bored, I believe, comes from outside sources. Obviously if the child is just 4 they have learned that from somewhere else. It's hard to say if she's really feeling bored or maybe it's just something that she's heard others saying and has found it's the thing to say? Just a guess.

Different things work for different people. I do find that it's usually a matter of the parents rather than the children though. Often we parents want to say it's because of the children but if we take a further look it's often our own ideas/wants/needs rather than the childs.

Sometimes it can be challenging to learn the differences between our children and ourselves and balance the needs of both.

hm well I'd be happy to give you some idea of what I think my children's sense of purpose has been at different times in their lives...but I'm not really sure I know what you are asking on this. Maybe lack of sleep is getting me today! I know that most days they get up and are excited about doing something they are in the process of doing or interested in starting (reading a book, some art project, working with an animal, working on a strategic army, drawing, talking to a friend on the phone, playing in dirt, etc)
 

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It sounds like what your friend enjoys is routien more than a sense of purpose. i have to say being on a schedule and having to get up and be some where in the morning does make our whole day more productive. And my teeth get brushed. and I get dressed. stuff like that. although I don't usuqally have naywhere to go in the morning. my dd does have a regular class every other day at noon so at least we do well for the second half of the day :LOL

If routien and schedule and purpose driven day are what you seek get to it. make a schedule and routien and stick with it. It may feel akward at first but you will adjust quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by monnie
Dd does get bored if her brother is napping and she's alone- I usually set her up with some scissors, crayons, glue and paper and she's happy for an hour or so. (Though this was not always the case...she used to need me to WATCH her do crafts...)
This describes my child exactly. I really don't believe it is something I "did", she has always had a strong desire to interact *all the time*. I love having a social child- it stretches me far beyond my comfort zone
but it also confuses me and can be frustrating.

Glad to hear I am not alone, and that your dd outgrew it


It is this exactly that makes me doubt my plans to HS. I think and worry about it practically every day.
 

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Cosmos, I hear what you are saying. My dd has forced me out of my comfort zone as well. This year my dd has actually pushed me out of her room so she could play alone- and up until 6 months ago I could not be out of her sight for even a minute.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jen123
I see how society molds us stay at home mothers to believe we don't actually accomplish anything.
Wow. I think this is a very important statement. Just to brush along what others have said about it really being the parent who needs "more" of whatever, maybe for me it is preparing that 5th meal of the day, and knowing that tomorrow will be strikingly similar in many ways.

Jen123, It sounds like you have found an effective way to feel purposeful, and that you have a nice rythym to your day!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by clothcrazymom
Ah ok...well see I don't believe that there really are children that need more structure..as in coming from another source. From my experience, children that *need* more structure will create it for themselves.

And for those who you might not consider to be self starters....well I think that they gain that by given the opportunity to become a self starter. Again in my experience...this often will come from a child not being given enough "down time" rather than being given too much down time. If you are feeling like she's needing some help in this area, there are lots of suggestions you could offer. I have just always tried to provide a rich environment for the kids and they come up with way more exciting things than I probably ever could.

The conversation about being bored, I believe, comes from outside sources. Obviously if the child is just 4 they have learned that from somewhere else. It's hard to say if she's really feeling bored or maybe it's just something that she's heard others saying and has found it's the thing to say? Just a guess.

Different things work for different people. I do find that it's usually a matter of the parents rather than the children though. Often we parents want to say it's because of the children but if we take a further look it's often our own ideas/wants/needs rather than the childs.

Sometimes it can be challenging to learn the differences between our children and ourselves and balance the needs of both.

hm well I'd be happy to give you some idea of what I think my children's sense of purpose has been at different times in their lives...but I'm not really sure I know what you are asking on this. Maybe lack of sleep is getting me today! I know that most days they get up and are excited about doing something they are in the process of doing or interested in starting (reading a book, some art project, working with an animal, working on a strategic army, drawing, talking to a friend on the phone, playing in dirt, etc)
I am not saying children need structure from another source necessarily, just that it is exhausting being the main source of the structure. 4 year olds still need a lot of supervision, as I am sure you are aware. When I can't deal I try to make myself a "moving target" :LOL although being pregnant makes me slower and more tired

When I supply the materials like tape, scissors, paper, pens, stickers etc etc. and this child can think up at least 5 more things she needs I would say she is having trouble self starting. I really try to back off here, but what do you suggest? Sometimes I deny new requests when I think she could probably figure out something to do with what she has, but it seems to turn negative.

She doesn't say she's bored, she stares at me and follows me around asking what I am doing every single minute. I should also mention that my kids view 30-60 mn of videos a day, if any, and are supplied with open-ended toys almost exclusively. We do hands on projects and I try to inspire them to see things in the real world. We have never participated in any scheduled activities except one weekly playgroup so it isn't like she is feeling the absence of outside structure.

It sounds like your kids are my dream as far as them waking up and ready to do something!

Maybe it is an age thing and she will outgrow it. I get frustrated trying to provide age appropriate materials to explore their interests, there is not much here so it requires a lot of digging around and ordering from the library only to find they have no interest in it when it arrives....
:
 

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Cosmos ,
aw shucks thanx.
It helps a great deal that I get unwaivering support from dh. He about went over the table when a loan officer said "so you don't actually work ?". I've never seen him so livid. He went off on all the things I do daily and how my job was more important than his. Wow. *blush*

My eleven year old is currently going thru a phase where he refuses to entertain himself. He'd rather sit and sulk then get up and find something to do. I think , no I KNOW it's because we've been lax with the tv lately and he's been watching up to *gasp* three hours a day. Ugh. I know he'll snap out of it within the next few days but in the mean time he's slowly driving us buggy. Sometimes all it takes is that we do more formal schooling to get him to moving. After the third day of workbooks and such he's ready to explore and has new ideas .

When my kids are bored I find interesting things to do and try to include them. I'll look up bugs on the internet and say things like "WOW I didn't know ants were so strong....listen to this... " or I'll start a project and ask them to help me. "could you get the string for me ?". OR the weirdest one yet that really gets the kids thinking and moving ... I'll start reading out loud to my self. They ALWAYS come over to see what I'm reading.
 

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I can understand, because I also search for a purpose at some times.

I've found that for me, a routine can really help me on my journey towards finding a purpose. I will admit that I am in some ways very undisciplined and need help getting started. If left to my own devices, I don't accomplish the things that I want to do. By scheduling our time (including school activities), I've been able to accomplish more in life. Not everyone needs this, but I've found that my family does better when we have a routine.

When we all know to expect, we're not as snippy with each other. That's not to say that we have a rigid schedule everyday (far from it!). But when we follow the same basic routine everyday (get up, get dressed, have breakfast, do school, play the rest of the morning, have lunch, play in the playroom, have a snack, play outside, eat dinner, play more, go to bed), we're happier.

But that's just us.
 

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Cosmos wrote: "She said she likes to have some place to go each morning (as in bringing her son to preschool). [...] I think having someplace to be at a certain time helps some people feel more purposeful, or-?"

Sure, but what is the value, exactly, in feeling purposeful in itself? It can be my purpose to do lots of things that are not particularly life-affirming or meaningful, like a tedious 9-to-5 job for example.

"I imagine going to school each morning might make a child feel important, or counted on (depending on the environment). This is not the only way, but it does seem like an easy distraction away from finding one's own sense of purpose."

I think you just answered your own question right there! Yes, it is a distraction, and a substitute for our own inability to self-direct. The school system conditions us very well to not be self-directed nor to initiate activity that is meaningful to us as individuals -- from day one every minute of our day is dictated by someone else. I think that makes people dependant, so that they are unable to do it for themselves, and always looking to outside sources to guide them and structure their days.

"I am thinking of these questions somewhat from the angle that my older DD seems to get bored sometimes. She asks about going to friends houses/them coming over or "where are we going today?" and floundering around sometimes unable to engage in anything."

Well, in our type of society it's dangerous for kids to be running around doing whatever they like, so they're pretty much restricted to their house, and hey, that can get boring. I think it's understandable. BUT, it's a mistake to think that school is the cure for boredom. Yes, there are a few people who seem to thrive in a school situation. I personally know... one. But for most of us, I think, school was excruciatingly boring. And personally I'd rather be bored at home and have the freedom to change that, than be bored at school and be forced to be dependant on someone else to make me not bored (which would be unlikely to happen.)

"She doesn't say she's bored, she stares at me and follows me around asking what I am doing every single minute."

Well... maybe when you say she's bored, you're picking up on other cues. But given just the information in that sentence, it sounds like this is just a method of learning for her. Children have always learned about the world from observing their parents and others around them -- that's normal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
blueviolet: I think you are misunderstanding me. I am not debating whether school outside of the home is more beneficial to anyone. I guess I am not sure why I used my friend as an example, other than she really got me thinking about feeling useful, and wondering about how other people feel more whole, or what does keep them going when things seem adverse (like dealing with resistance from a "bored" child).

Thinking more about it I could say that lately it seems like my dd is not feeling fulfilled, or is bored, or is not feeling her sense of purpose, or whatever it is along those lines. thinking about a sense of purpose for me is living a personal conviction and doing that to the best of my ability. Maybe I am jumping to a huge conclusion that a small child could question their own sense of purpose like I do when I wonder if there is something I could do for myself that would help me feel more whole, or how I could better contribute to the community or the world.

I like what you say about my dd observing and learning from watching me. I will definitely look at this from a different perspective now. Maybe it is just that she is craving a new experience that I have not helped her along with.

This is why I love these forums-it's like therapy for me, to help me see things from many different angles I might not have seen before


I hope I didn't miss anything I am trying to reply quickly (impossible for me).
 

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I think my son is going thru the phases of finding his sense of purpose. We spiritually guide him although not as much as we should , and we *try* to give him many activites to choose from. It always frustrates me when I offer to take him mini golfing and he's excited and happy. Til about an hour after we're done. It was a temporary fix for a permanent problem he'll face thru out his life.
Even after you find your own sense of purpose things in life or mainstream society will make you question them. I remember my mom in the early-mid 1980's telling me she felt fulfilled and satisfied while she was stay at home mom. But the 1980's were the era of the 'working woman' and she got a job because she was told by society that she wasn't really fulfilled unless she did xyz and balanced it all. A real case of feeling one way and society telling you differently.

My nine year old feels fulfilled and happy when she draws all day. Does she "accompolish" anything ? Does she have a badge or a ribbon ? She may sit in her jammies all day and sketch. BUT she's fulfilling her own sense of purpose. It makes her happy to draw. Thereby giving her 'strength' to do all the mundane things she must do when she isn't drawing.
 
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