6 Worshipful Living Lessons Mandy Kelly Taught Me

6 Worshipful Living Lessons Mandy Kelly Taught Me

I met Mandy Kelly of Worshipful Living through Periscope and got to know her through HomeschoolScopes, a Facebook group for homeschoolers who enjoy live broadcasting. I got to meet Mandy in person at the 2:1 Conference in 2015, worked with her in sharing one another’s materials, and enjoyed keeping up with her on Facebook. On Tuesday morning, March 21st, 2017, I heard the news that Mandy and three of her family members had died in a house fire. It was a shocking tragedy that had everyone who knew her (and even many who didn’t) reeling.

A friend told me what a pastor had said at her husband’s funeral after his tragic death:

“Let’s not focus so much on how he died that we forget how he lived.”

Those words are so appropriate to Mandy and her family. To honor Mandy’s memory, I want to share with you how she lived and what I learned from her about worshipful living.

6 Worshipful Living Lessons I Learned from Mandy Kelly

#1 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 2 Timothy 2:24

My first impression of Mandy was that she was a kind lady. I watched a broadcast she did on what to wear to the 2:1 Conference. At first blush, that topic doesn’t seem very spiritual. But Mandy was trying to make nervous newbies like me feel comfortable by telling them what to expect. She also clearly communicated that she would befriend us there if no one else would. Mandy was a teacher — a kind teacher. It’s my desire to share the kindness of Christ with others in my teaching the way Mandy did.

#2 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Mandy was a Christian woman, a Christian blogger, and a Christian speaker at a time when Christianity is becoming less and less popular. While I shrink from sharing my faith on Facebook (where it is often reviled), Mandy let her light shine for all to see. She could because there was no hypocrisy in her. I aspire to be the light that Mandy was.

#3 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

Mandy’s post on Jesus having a quiet time reminded me that my time with God needs to come first each day. The truth is that too often I don’t wake up thanking God and seeking prayer first, but my phone and social media. I am living worshipfully now first thing in the morning, thanks to Mandy.

#4 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12

I saw Mandy go through the disappointment of infertility and an adoption that didn’t happen. But I didn’t see Mandy give up hope. Her article on biblical joy and her attitude in trials has taught me to persevere in tribulation, too.

#5 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:11

I am so inspired by the way Mandy blessed her daughter with these words on Instagram. It is my prayer that they will comfort her daughter and guide her all her life. I do try to bless my children with my words, but I’m not sure I do it to this level. It’s my aspiration to spend more time blessing my children and just listening to them instead of always being in a hurry.

 

#6 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21

I hadn’t seen Mandy’s Periscope on finishing well until after she had gone to heaven. She explained that when we are face to face with God, we know that death is better than life. I so often live like this life is the best there is, when that is at odds with the truth of Scripture. Mandy’s eternal perspective (which is so like the apostle Paul’s) has reminded me to stop sweating the small stuff. I know that I will see Mandy again. I will be able to rejoice with her at how her time spent here (thought short) glorified the Lord in a mighty way. I will be able to thank her for all she taught me.

I am tempted to feel sorry for myself that Mandy has gone home. But I choose instead to focus on gratitude for having known her. I encourage you to spend time on Mandy’s Worshipful Living website and her Periscope channel. Mandy with her kindness, light, glory giving, patience, child blessing, and eternal perspective will teach you worshipful living just as she has me.

Please read what other blogging friends of Mandy’s have learned from her.


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Secrets of Scheduling Success

Secrets of Scheduling Success

What should I be spending my time doing and how can I get those things done? As a mother of six with four children I’m still homeschooling, a blogger, a podcaster, a curriculum writer and business owner, a wife to a self-employed salesman who always needs technology assistance, a tennis player, and scrapbooker, I have struggled to answer those questions. While I am by no means a master, I do have answers that have made a huge difference in my life. I can’t wait to share them with you.

Secrets of Scheduling Success

Want to listen to this article on a podcast? LISTEN HERE Or WATCH ON YOUTUBE OR SCROLL DOWN

The first question we have as busy homeschoolers is what should I be spending my time doing?

This is the first question because it makes no sense to improve our ability to get the wrong things done. What are the right things? As you would expect, there is no one-size fits all answer. To find the answer for you, you need to look to the Lord and look at your life.

First we should look to the Lord. If we spend time looking to God first, we can save ourselves a lot of time and confusion.

Ephesians 5:15-16 reads:

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

I pray over this Scripture daily. I recently learned that the phrase “the days are evil” means that everything outside of the Lord’s path seeks to take us off His path. The path is His will for us. But that’s confusing, isn’t it? No matter how much I’ve prayed, God has never given me a complete 5-year plan or even a schedule for the day!

So looking to the Lord leads us to another question: How can we know God’s will? There are more ways than what I have listed here, but the first way we can know His will is through the Holy Spirit. He teaches us all things. He is the inner voice, the feeling deep in our souls that tells us we’re on the right path. Have you experienced this? The second way is through His Word. It’s a light to our path. Being in the Word daily allows the Lord to give us specific direction. It’s amazing how often the book we’re in relates to the place we’re at. The final way I want to share that we can know God’s will is through other people. At one time I was praying about whether I should do a mom’s Bible study. That day a friend asked if I was going to do one because she hoped that I would. When the Spirit and the Word and other people’s advice come together, we can be fairly certain that what we’re doing or considering are God’s will for us right now.

Well that’s just clear as mud, right? We’re not going to be 100% certain of God’s will for us because He gives us the wisdom we need for today — not for the week, this month, or this season. What we CAN be sure of is that if we get off track, He will take great pains to bring us back.

Isaiah 46:11 says, What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.

We simply aren’t powerful enough to ruin God’s plan for our lives, so we can relax. We can know what to spend our time on by looking to the Lord.

We can also look at our life. Psalm 90:12 says, Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Mandy Kelly‘s death at 34 was a stark reminder to all who knew her that our time here is short. Mandy was committed to leaving a legacy behind for her children. I know that if you’re reading this post that it’s your desire, too. When we number our days, we realize that the spilled milk really isn’t worth crying over.

But it’s hard to keep that long-term perspective in mind. I spoke at the 2:1 conference for homeschooling bloggers on time management using an object lesson that proved to be very powerful. I want to share it with you. You’re going to want to download the free worksheet I have for subscribers as you complete the following exercise.

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Imagine that I hand you 24 $1 bills. Each dollar represents one hour in a 24-hour day.

I’m going to ask you how you want to spend those dollars with a couple of rules. First, you can’t spend less than a dollar. And second, you have to spend the same amount every day. So when making decisions, average the time and select based on an ideal school day.

The first thing I will ask you to spend your money on is sleep. Sleep is like taxes. It comes right off the top. How much sleep do you need to be at your best? Not how much do you get, but what would be ideal? Write that amount on your form.

The second thing I will ask you to spend your money on is God. We won’t include Sunday time because Sunday isn’t a typical school day, but any time you spend in devotions, worship, Bible reading and Bible studies, church service, or charity work apart from Sundays should be averaged to come up with the amount. Write that amount on your form.

The third thing I will ask you to spend your money on is your husband if you’re married. For this category, I’m not asking you to include family time or meal times. This is time alone with your husband each day. The time could be divided, like a half hour in the morning and a half hour in the evening. Put that amount on your form.

The fourth thing I will ask you to spend your money on is your kids. This is likely to be a large category, though it does not include homeschooling time. Here you would include meal time, family time, child care time, time in the car, time spent at kids’ activities, appointments, etc. Average this time out to come up with an estimate and write it down.

The fifth thing I will ask you to spend your money on is personal time. This includes hygiene time, exercise, and any appointments you have for your own care averaged out. Do not include leisure time in this category. Write it down.

The sixth thing I will ask you to spend your money on is homeschooling. Do not include time that you are not actively teaching or tutoring. If your kids are working on their own, that isn’t included. How many hours do you ideally need of your teacher time to homeschool a day? If you teach in a co-op setting or volunteer for a homeschool organization, average that time out and write down a total.

The seventh thing I will ask you to spend your money on is homemaking. This is the average amount of time ideally that you would spend on meal planning and preparation, grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, chores, bill paying, running errands, and organizing. Don’t include time that your husband or kids spend, but only what you spend. Write that amount of money that stands for hours down.

The eighth thing I will ask you to spend your money on is friends and extended family. In this category, include face-to-face friend and family time, phone calls, texting, and social media that is purely relational. If you provide care for someone outside of your immediate family, add the time here. Average this time per day ideally and write down the amount.

The ninth thing I will ask you to spend your money on is hobbies. This includes reading, surfing the web, television, crafts, sports, and optional shopping. Add this amount to your worksheet.

The final thing I will ask you to spend your money on is work or potential work. Do you work or have a business in addition to homeschooling? The number of hours you are committed to would go here. If you have considered working or starting a business but aren’t yet doing so, now is the time to total up the hours you’ve written prior to this category. Do you have time left for work or a business? If you already work, do you have enough hours left over?

If you’re like most people, you will be out of money before you get to the work category. Is all hope lost? No. Now you know, however, what sacrifices must be made in order to continue working or in order to add something else to your life. Talk over your worksheet with your spouse and with another homeschooler if you don’t know how to make everything fit. I recommend listening to How to Homeschool in Less Time if you suspect homeschooling is taking too much of your time. If homemaking is taking too much of your time, could you delegate or hire out some of these tasks? These are just a few examples of where to free up time. Pray about your use of time and you may gain wisdom for what to change.

[LISTEN TO: HOW TO HOMESCHOOL IN LESS TIME]

Be aware that I put the categories roughly in order of importance. If you don’t get adequate sleep, everything else will suffer. If you aren’t spending time with God, you won’t have the spiritual strength and wisdom to do everything you’re called to do. If you neglect your marriage, your homeschool will eventually suffer. If you don’t take care of yourself with exercise, you won’t have the energy you need to manage your responsibilities.

Once you have balanced your time budget for an ideal day, you are ready for a schedule.

Of course, in real life we can schedule half an hour for things, we can combine things, and we may do some things just one day a week. But now you have a guide for creating your schedule. I recommend that you schedule blocks of time.

For example, in the morning, I have blocks of time for my time with God, my personal time, time with my husband, business, homemaking, and homeschooling. In the afternoon I have blocks for kids, friends, homemaking, and business. On Thursdays I have a combination of friend and hobby time in the afternoons. The evenings are for homemaking in the form of meal prep and clean-up, kids, husband, and hobby time in the form of reading. I sometimes spend time with God in the evenings as well.

Any schedule you create for yourself should be considered a draft. You can constantly work on improving it. If you discover a way to combine more things, you can free up time. You may discover that you have scheduled activities at times that don’t fit your energy levels. Move things around and experiment.

[READ: A YEAR OF LIVING PRODUCTIVELY]

I had such success with doing this personally and with the bloggers I spoke with that I decided to do the same thing with my kids. The final category for them was screen time. I asked them how much time they needed to do their schoolwork and chores, and to have time with friends. The result was a schedule that has helped them a lot. It’s even resulted in them having regular game time with their siblings.

The Problem With Schedules

This just sounds great, doesn’t it? You should have a schedule you can use to accomplish all the important things in your life. There’s just one problem. Schedules are like diets. As soon as you’re on one, you resist it. When you’re scheduled to do something, it’s suddenly the last thing you want to do. It’s just like when you’re on a no-sugar diet. Then sugar is all you can think about.

When you eat the donut that isn’t on the diet, what do most of us do? We say, “Oh well. Might as well eat everything because I’ve already blown it.” We do this with schedules, too. “I was supposed to be teaching math for the last hour and I’ve been on Facebook instead. I’ve blown it, so I’ll get on Instagram next.” If we didn’t have the “I’ve blown it” mentality, we wouldn’t binge on things that aren’t the best use of our time.

So here’s what I recommend:

Create a schedule. It can be an ideal schedule and even a detailed schedule for today. I have an ideal schedule but I also create a schedule for each day to help me see exactly what I can get done. I use the Panda Weekly Planner for this that is informed by Skedpal. But then I put the schedule away. I give myself permission to go off schedule without guilt. If I’m supposed to be teaching history and get caught up chatting with a friend instead, I don’t feel guilty. I don’t rewrite the schedule. If I’m not sure what I had planned to do when I’m done chatting, I’ll refer to the schedule again. But only if I want to. The more guilt I feel, the fewer important things I will do and the more I’ll resist the schedule.

Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. I think the same is true of the schedule. We make the schedule for ourselves. If it isn’t serving us right now, it is okay to override it. I prefer to teach my kids at the same time each day. But I might end up chatting with a friend instead. If I find that I’m spending more time with friends than I allotted on a consistent basis, I’ll need to reevaluate. Even with a great schedule, I’ll never be perfect in how I spend my time. But I can feel good about it and I do. I believe that if you follow these steps, you can be successful with your schedule, too.

How many hours did you have left over when you did the exercise? Let’s chat about it on Facebook.

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A Sane Approach to Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

A Sane Approach to Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

I am not new to homeschooling. I’ve heard of Charlotte Mason (of course) and I’ve done some reading about her educational philosophy. I’ve thoroughly checked out the Ambleside website, dedicated to providing resources for Charlotte Mason homeschooling. But can I be real with you? I thought it seemed like too much for this homeschooling-in-less-time mama. I don’t have my kids read stacks of dusty, old books. I use traditional science curriculum. I’d like the kids to be outside more, but I’ve had a hard time spending even 15 minutes outside much of the time.

A Sane Approach to Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

Want to listen to this article on a podcast? LISTEN HERE Or WATCH ON YOUTUBE

Now I’m going to be really, really honest. I didn’t know that much about Charlotte Mason homeschooling and how it parallels my own sane homeschooling approach until AFTER my interview with Cindy West of Our Journey Westward. Cindy told me about her book Charlotte Mason Homeschooling in 18 Easy Lessons during the interview and I was intrigued. I am game for just about anything in a series of easy lessons! Then I downloaded the book and, girlfriends, was I ever excited!

Why I’m a New Fan of Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

I love, love LOVE this book. I did not know how much Charlotte, Cindy, and I have in common. I actually HAVE been a Charlotte Mason homeschooler in so many respects. For example, I have introduced living literature into all subjects from the beginning. I am not a typical textbook fan, preferring history spines like Mystery of History and historical fiction and biographies instead. I believe in the power of story for teaching and created Grammar Galaxy language arts curriculum out of that philosophy.

I believe, like Charlotte and Cindy, in short lessons. Kids aren’t the only ones with short attention spans. Don’t worry, this won’t be a long article. 🙂 Short lessons are demonstrated to improve learning and they keep moms interested, too.

I also believe in the power of God’s Word for teaching children the faith. I love the curriculum I’ve used to teach my children during our Bible time, but until I read Cindy’s book (including Charlotte’s words), I had forgotten that I need to JUST READ SCRIPTURE to them. I’ll be doing the homework for that easy lesson.

Our Journey Westward

I’m a traditional science person. I have loved having my good friend manage my kids’ labs in our Apologia curriculum on our co-op day. I was thinking that there was no way that I can tromp through the woods every day with my kids drawing in journals (something they do NOT enjoy!). So I dismissed a Charlotte Mason approach to nature study. But Cindy changed my mind. I already have Fridays as a fun day in our homeschool. There is no reason we can’t do one of Cindy’s excellent Creative Nature Walks on Friday. I know my kids would LOVE it! It’s spring as I write and I have a serious case of spring fever. I can’t wait to get out of the house! I know my children feel the same way.

Cindy isn’t a Charlotte Mason purist. I reject legalism. It’s one of the reasons I’m a homeschooler. I want to find a way to incorporate others’ ideas in a way that works for my unique family. Cindy’s book on Charlotte Mason in 18 Easy Lessons helps me do that. She makes it clear that she isn’t studying Shakespeare every week. What a relief! That would be a no-go in my house. Everything that Cindy shares from Charlotte’s philosophy is made accessible for real moms like me. I’ve been homeschooling a long time, but I feel like I’m ready to start fresh! I’m going to do the homework for 18 weeks and I know my children will be cheering.

Giveaway, Goodies & More

Cindy has generously offered my readers a free download on doing nature study Charlotte Mason style. She has also included notebooking pages (on trees, seeds, Easter and more) for a total of 29 pages! That is HUGE! The book is brimming with resources for doing nature study in a practical and fun way. When you download, you’ll also receive updates from me and Cindy, including more ideas on incorporating the Charlotte Mason approach into your saner homeschooling. Click the button below to claim yours.

But that’s not all! Cindy has generously donated FIVE books as a giveaway. They include:

Charlotte Mason Homeschooling in 18 Easy Lessons
Loving Living Math
100+ Creative Nature Walks
Easter Nature Study Through the Holidays
NaturExplorers Incredible Creeks

I gave Facebook Live viewers an inside peek into three of Cindy’s books (CM in 18 Easy Lessons, Loving Living Math, and Creative Nature Walks) on the Psychowith6 Facebook page. Earn entries in the giveaway all week long by commenting on the video and sharing it. Click the page to enter.

I’m still not done! Cindy has gone a little crazy and is offering you 20% everything in her shop with code SANITY until March 28th. You can pick up any of the books in the giveaway, her specific nature studies (like the book on clouds), or her seasonal studies. You’ll be ready to do nature study all year, even when you aren’t formally doing school.

Shop now

Are you ready to make Charlotte Mason homeschooling work for you?

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How to Find Peace in the Right Places

How to Find Peace in the Right Places

I have had times of profound peace in my life and this isn’t one of them! Because I know what it feels like to have no worry and no hurry, I am determined to find it again. If you want to be able to rest in the Lord, no matter what storms rage around you, I have help for you.

How to Intentionally Pursue Peace

First, I want to share a story with you. I was seriously ill. My chronic nasal allergies were the worst they had been. I had the most severe heartburn I had ever had and I wasn’t pregnant. I had other major GI problems, including trouble swallowing. I was losing hair. My right leg and the right side of my face were numb. One day when I was out running, I found myself going off the road and I couldn’t stop.

I was terrified that I had multiple sclerosis. I hoped that it was related to a food allergy, so I ate only the most obscure foods I had never had before. I lost tons of weight, but the symptoms remained. I took hundreds of dollars’ worth of supplements. I stayed up all hours of the night researching my condition.

I did not have peace.

After prayer and fasting, others’ prayers and fasting included, I knew what the problem was: I was afraid. I was afraid that I couldn’t trust God. I was afraid that I couldn’t trust my husband to stay with me if I did have MS. I was afraid I was going to die. I was honestly afraid of just about everything. I noticed for the first time that my gut was twisted in knots every time I was running late for something, every time someone seemed mad at me, every time I had messed something up.

But when I realized what the problem was, I prayed and repeated “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding” every time the fear came. Not only did all my physical symptoms disappear, but I had a profound sense of peace. I had a speaking engagement at the time and forgot my notes. Normally, my stress level would have been through the roof! But I felt completely and totally calm. I was able to have my son email me the notes and all was well.

In the years since then, I have lost that complete, blissful sense of peace I had. I want it back. I need to practice the principles I described in the article I wrote for Intentional in Life. I pray that you and I are both blessed by pursuing peace in the right places.

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How to Truth Journal and Change Your Life

How to Truth Journal and Change Your Life

I wish I had known about truth journaling when I was in graduate school, pursuing a degree in psychology. I was overweight, living in a disorganized mess, and in debt. I’ll stop there because the list would be very long otherwise. I tried many things to change my life at the time, like a new diet and New Age teaching. But nothing had the power that I needed to change my life.

Truth Journaling: The Power to Change Your Life

Want to listen to this article on a podcast? LISTEN HERE Or WATCH ON YOUTUBE

I had wandered away from God. But even once I’d made my way home and was established as a Christian psychologist, I still struggled. I felt helpless in my fear, anger, and sadness. When various things went wrong in my life, I would lie awake replaying words and events. Even a few years ago, I procrastinated projects like Grammar Galaxy because of multiple fears. I wasn’t making progress in changing bad habits.

When Things Started to Change

I met Barb Raveling through Christian blogging circles. She had written a book on Christian weight loss that I admired, but didn’t need myself. When she asked me to read her book The Renewing of the Mind Project, things changed. I learned about her concept of truth journaling.

[Read: How to Trust God with Weight Loss]

Truth journaling reminded me of the assignment I often gave to anxious clients (and used myself). I asked clients to record everything they were anxious about and to write next to it an action step they would take. That action step might be to pray or to take a small step to address the problem. This process is very helpful for people who ruminate about things. But truth journaling is different.

In truth journaling, we write down what we are thinking that is upsetting to us. For example, one I used early on with truth journaling is:

My friend hasn’t called me back, so she is mad at me.

Before I began truth journaling, I freaked out over thoughts like this. Sorry to destroy your illusions about psychologists! I would respond by imagining every terrible interaction I might have with my friend. I would have trouble sleeping. I wouldn’t be able to concentrate. But after truth journaling, I would talk back to this thought in writing.

She is probably busy. If she is mad at you, it’s her responsibility to tell you. There have been other times she hasn’t called you back and she wasn’t mad. If she is mad at you, you’ll work it out. Even if she never spoke to you again, you’d be okay. God has gotten you through much worse.

After truth journaling, I feel immense relief. The process of getting thoughts on paper is so powerful. Thoughts sequestered in our heads can wreak havoc. Once on paper, these thoughts reveal themselves to be lies and distortions. A phone call not returned does not prove anything — not even death, which is another thing I’ve feared.

How Truth Journaling Changed My Habits

I recently wrote about time management lies homeschool moms believe. One of them is that we’ll have time to do this later. Now that I’ve been truth journaling, I can recognize lies without writing them down. When I tell myself that I’ll have time to hang my clothes up tomorrow, I know this is a lie. I won’t have more time or energy tomorrow. The truth is that habits are created by what we do every day — not what we do when we feel like we have loads of time and energy. So I hang my clothes up right away.

[Read: 6 Time Management Lies Homeschool Moms Believe]

When I worry at night, I truth journal in my mind. I identify the worry and tell it the truth, whether that’s logically or straight from God’s Word. The result is better sleep and a better next day.

How to Truth Journal Your Way to Life Change

If truth journaling sounds like what you need, listen to the podcast interview I did with Barb Raveling. Then download your free truth journaling directions for Psychowith6 subscribers by clicking the button below.

I would love to hear how truth journaling works for you on Facebook.

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Alternatives to Video Games

Alternatives to Video Games

If your child spends more time than you would like playing video games, you’re wise to search for alternatives that will captivate them. Even if you’re not worried about the amount of time spent playing, you do want your child to be exposed to a variety of activities.
Video Game Alternatives

Want to listen to this article on a podcast? LISTEN HERE Or WATCH ON YOUTUBE

When my oldest child was two, he loved playing games on the computer. I chose quality games for him to play and I didn’t have concerns about his screen time. That was a long time ago. Now I have a child with ADD who loses time playing and chooses games over most other activities. This is worrisome. I read about a young man who didn’t come out of his cabin on a cruise ship because he was playing games the whole time. I have read about college students who have failed and young men who have no interest in getting married because all of their time is spent on gaming. This isn’t typical, but even if my son has half of these problems, it’s a concern.

Video Game Addiction

Video game addiction isn’t yet considered a mental disorder, but the behavior patterns have been observed and studied to some extent. True gaming addiction, which is fairly rare at a rate of just 1%, isn’t outgrown. Boys are particularly at risk as are impulsive kids like those with ADHD. The most remarkable data that has come from research studies to date is that kids with poor social skills are most likely to have a gaming problem. Gaming provides an outlet when other social activities are uncomfortable. Sadly, lonely kids tend to game too much and time spent gaming increases the sense of loneliness. Gaming addiction, like other forms of addiction, is also typically a response to life stress or at least suggests poor coping skills.

Your child doesn’t have to be addicted to video games to suffer negative consequences. Interestingly enough, taking games away or enforcing time limits with older gaming addicts doesn’t seem to help.

Teach Your Child Social Skills

The first step in helping a child who games too much is to help him develop social skills. I found an amazing free resource called 101 Ways to Teach Children Social Skills.  It includes activities and printables that are appropriate for a wide age range. Some social skills are learned automatically; others aren’t. We have to be intentional about teaching these skills to our kids to fully equip them for life. Include one skill a day in your homeschool. That’s my plan. It’s crucial to understand your child’s personality as you teach. Introverted children aren’t abnormal. They just need time away from people to recharge. I recommend reading Personality Plus for Parents by Florence Littauer. Explain your child’s personality to him, especially if he’s an introvert. Many children mistakenly assume there is something wrong with them if they aren’t the extroverted American ideal.

After addressing social skills, what are some alternatives to video games?

Getting your child involved in sports is a great alternative. Social skills are enhanced and friendships are created. Sports also take up time in a healthy activity that cannot be spent on gaming. Sports can give your child the adrenaline charge he looks for from gaming — both from the activity and the competition. My son is already involved in a sport, but doesn’t spend much time doing it. If that’s your child, consider adding another practice, another team, or playing the sport as a family. The latter is my choice. We plan to spend more time playing tennis with my son now that it’s getting warmer outside.

[Related: Tennis: A Great Homeschool Hobby]

Perhaps your child doesn’t care for or doesn’t have the skill he needs for traditional sports. There are so many options to consider: bowling, archery, fencing, and more. Contract with your child to keep trying different sports until something clicks.

A second alternative is to find a different group activity that is not sports-related. Preferably, there would be a competitive component to the activity and it would require time for your child to participate. A robotics team is a perfect option for kids who are engineering-minded. Competitive speech and debate are excellent for kids with strong verbal skills. Getting involved in theater productions is perfect for musical or artistic kids, even if they have no desire to act. All of these activities are excellent at helping children build relationships and they require a substantial time commitment. If your church has a good youth group, getting your child involved can make a difference. My kids have done volunteer work through their youth group and have developed leadership skills as well. Even when the group activities themselves are over, your child’s new friends may keep him busy with other social outings.

A third alternative is to enroll your child in outside classes that are not online. If your student is concerned about grades, any class will do as this will keep your child busy and learning social skills. A better situation, however, is for your student to take a class with peers. This arrangement allows for the possibility of making new friends. The very best situation is for the class to be an interesting one. You could enroll your child in classes through a local co-op. Some homeschooling parents choose to enroll their child in school part-time for this reason. Dual-enrollment classes are good for demanding a lot of your students’ time. But the sky is the limit when it comes to outside classes. They come in every variety. Should you force your child to take a class? I think it’s okay to require enrollment in some kind of class. Kids with anxiety issues will reject the idea, but avoiding social anxiety will not make it better.

[Related: Help for Anxious Homeschoolers]

A fourth alternative is to give your child a job or help him secure one. Money is a wonderful motivator and the social skills that can develop when working in a group are invaluable. There are so many options here. You can pay your child to work for you which will use up a lot of time he might otherwise devote to gaming. You could help your child find an internship in a field that interests him. You could help him find a volunteer position that makes him feel needed. The pull of gaming won’t be nearly as strong if he knows people are counting on him. If he’s old enough, you can teach him interview skills and help him find good employment options for a young person. One of my sons loves working so much that we had to insist that he cut back his hours!

A fifth alternative is to play games socially. We own so many games and don’t play them nearly enough. Have a family game night where you play the board and sports games you have. We have a ping pong table and love playing with family and friends. If you have video games that are participatory, you can play these too. I love Wii bowling and Wheel of Fortune. Create a competition for friends. More than once I have created an Olympics that involves darts, ping pong, a video racing game and more. Families compete against each other for gift cards and have a blast. Gaming becomes less of an issue if it’s done socially. You’re modeling for your child how to use games in a healthy way.

A sixth alternative is to choose educational video games and activities. I’m more interested in activities because most educational video games will be viewed as less exciting than a favorite video game. Beware of this before you pay for an expensive online curriculum. A gamer child may like the platform less than a non-gamer. I have a list of websites that include games that teach grammar, for example. One study suggests that the more competitive the game, the more likely kids are to master material. I really like engaging gamers with technical activities. This could be a course online that teaches robotics, coding, or videography. Again, the better option is to have the course be social. Have your child do the course with a sibling or friend. My gamer son prefers classes we do in our home-based co-op to courses he has to complete himself. Techie Homeschool Mom shares tech educational options and offers online unit studies that your gamers may enjoy.

Online Unit Studies

I’ve barely scratched the surface of video game alternatives. I did some research to create a list of 50 alternatives to video games. I can’t wait to go over the ideas with my son. When you subscribe to the Sanity Savers newsletter, you’ll receive this list.

If you want help finding the best video game alternatives for your child, talk to other homeschoolers. Ask people in your local co-op about sports, activities, and classes. Ask online homeschool groups like HomeschoolScopes.tv about their favorite board games and tech courses. I have a plan for how to address my son’s gaming using these alternatives and I’m hopeful. I hope you are, too.

Which alternatives will you choose for your child first? Let’s chat about it on Facebook.

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