Monday, April 29, 2013

Mentor Notebooks and Leadership Education

This week I hope to 'live' outside! Heading to a park this morning with some of my homeschooling peeps. And, if the weather holds out, I'm hoping to check out some nature parks with the kids for outdoor sketching. 

The meal planning service I subscribed to last week is quite fun! You choose your menus and recipes and then printout a grocery list. They offer a new menu every Thursday, but the archives of past menus are there too. Lots of room for customization too. I'm sure there are many such services and apps, but here's a sample of what we ate last week:

  • grilled vegetable wraps with rice pilaf (delish!)
  • baked ziti with chicken sausage (ok)
  • baked potato soup with BLTs (yummy!)
Tonight we're having Baja Marinated Chicken on the grill, together with Black Bean & Rice Salad. See - I would never think of that on my own!

BIG feast day coming up this week, well actually two feast days. The first is on Wednesday - we celebrate St. Joseph the Worker. Then on Friday, the Apostles Saint Philip and Saint James. I was thinking of doing a  monthly fast on the First Friday of the month, but looks like this month isn't the best one to start. 

This is the heart of my post today. I want to introduce to you one of the tools I learned about at the DeMille Seminar on Leadership Education last weekend - one that I am CERTAIN will have a huge impact on our family. Maybe yours, too.

It's the "Mentor Notebook." 

Very high tech, isn't it. A notebook and pen.

You are a mentor to your children, whether you are homeschooling or not. You may be a mentor to others as well. Maybe you're a teacher or a youth minister or a grandparent. Either way, as a mentor its valuable to spend some time thinking about how YOU can do your job better.

Here is what you do.

You have a meeting every week with your notebook and pencil. That's right, just you, your notebook and a pencil.

You write each child's name on a page of his/her own, from babes-in-arms to your oldest, everyone gets a page. Include a page for your spouse and yourself as well. You can be as comprehensive as to include anyone you are in a close relationship with - grandparents, grandkids, Godchildren, close friends, whatever. But that can be a bit overwhelming, so start with your children and spouse first.  Everyone gets a page.

 My name is in the next section. Mamas always seem to put themselves last!

The next step:
For each person in your notebook, you sit and brainstorm ways and ideas of what each person needs this week. What can YOU do to SERVE him/her? What does he/she need in order to better excel this week? What would INSPIRE that person this week?

You brainstorm and write down as many things as you can think of - some of these may be bad ideas! Or just unworkable! That's OK! But in all likelihood, there will be one or two things that you can deliver on this week to help your child succeed. You need not fill in an entire page either. Next week, when you repeat this process on a fresh page for that child, you can look at the previous week and check off what you delivered on. Or you can throw that old piece of paper away too, if you like ... but the idea is still the same.

Brainstorm, plan and deliver.

Sunday night at my kitchen table. The bigs are out with Dad, the littles are in bed ... ahhhh. Wait a minute, where's the wine? 

This is not something you share with the people on the list - you don't want to create an expectation at this point. Later, maybe for the older scholar-phase kids, you can have them go through the same process then compare. But not now.

This IS something you do weekly and consistently. You and your spouse can each do this exercise separately for your children, then compare lists. That's a wonderful idea because women and men have different perspectives that can truly benefit your children.

Your ideas need not be confined to academics either. Maybe you have an intuition that your child just needs lots of hugs this week or special attention. Do that. Or maybe you sensed a spark of interest in something your child read about and you want to find an experiment or book to light that fire. Perhaps your toddler is having problems with sharing and you want to find a storybook on that topic for said toddler. The Mentor Notebook applies to everyone in the family.

You know your children better than anyone else; you are the expert! So often during the course of a week I will have a specific thought about what my child might really enjoy or something I need to find for that child, but I don't write it down or the thought fizzles among the million things there are to do in a day. I think the Mentor Notebook will help make my reflections more consistent and produce results.

We are having a Mentor Notebook Challenge on the TJEd Forum (TJEd Muse) I belong to, and please let me extend that challenge to you, too! The challenge is to create a Mentor Notebook and then try to set aside time weekly (I like Sundays) to do it. If it seems too overwhelming to do for all of your children at once, then spread it out over a week or more. One mom has already mentioned that she does a daily reflection on the needs of her children after spending about 10 minutes reading her Core Book (for me that would be the Bible). That is a great idea too.

We will be reporting back to each other on the forum every Sunday for a while, to share experience and insights. Kind of like an experiment. You should try this too. Let me know what you think!

I'm not sure what or even if I will sew this week! I would like to get to some leggings for the girls but ... things are a bit crazy already ... we'll have to see how it all shakes out.

Have a wonderful week and God bless all your mentoring endeavours!!

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