Five principles for family success

by Mary Ann on February 21, 2011

pointing finger pictures

YOU are the most important element of the Spark Station!

“For years I have been thinking, if I only had more money I could buy the perfect items for my Spark Station; things I see in the Timberdoodle catalog like Wedgits and other manipulatives. But after studying Mary Ann’s Five Rules of Engagement I had this major epiphany. I, when I am fully engaged with my children, am the most important element in the Spark Station, not any art or craft item or manipulative or cool educational toy.” Celestia S.

This is a perfect example of rule 2 of the Five Rules of Engagement; Be present. I love the Five Rules. I didn’t have them fully formed in my mind when I began working with parents and helping them implement their Spark Stations. I just knew what children needed the most from parents, to learn really effectively.

As I watched families struggle to implement the Spark Station in their learning time the 5 rules became clearer to me. It was an exciting day when I had them fully formed in my mind in a way that I could share with parents; that’s when I began to see major changes in success with the Spark Station and with families themselves.

Let’s review the Five Rules of Engagement. These are the most important elements in your Spark Station and are really not negotiable if you want to create a truly magical learning environment and family culture

1. Structure time and be consistent. In order for anything to really happen in life we have to carve out time for it and then make a commitment to that time; we have to be consistent.

teaching kids homeschool pictures

Make your learning time consistent

2. Be present. Being present means that you are engaging with your children, you are in the same space with them physically , mentally, emotionally. It doesn’t mean getting them settled and then going off to do your own thing. It means, being together as a family.

girl mom reading photos

It doesn’t matter what you do, just do it together

3. Make it special. When we want someone to really look forward to something then we have to make it special. We do that with the Spark Station by only having it available at a certain time during the day.

boy reading photos

Keeping it special enhances everything in your Spark Station

4. Keep it simple. Parents can stop being consistent with their structured family learning time if they make it too big of a hassle to handle. The Spark Station is a simple tool, which uses simple materials. Keep it simple and everyone manages better.

5. Weekly planning. Taking a bit of time each week to think about your family, your children’s needs, and what they are interested in is your key to great content in your Spark Station. It doesn’t take hours of time. What it takes is thinking and then follow-through.

family playing blocks pictures

Make it special and plan ahead. Think!

I have seen these principles work over and over again. The principles that make the Spark Station, work make families work, and lead to family success and happy families.

While practicing being present have some fun with keelboats. You can find a bit more information about the five rules of engagement here.

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