As our home school approaches its one-year anniversary of my direct supervision, we are gearing up to launch a bunch of fun things this fall. We’re wanting to celebrate the accomplishments of our students, provide a concrete way for them to measure their progress, and envision what their future educational path will look like.
There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes on a few different initiatives, but one that I can share with you now is our new school uniforms. Since we introduced them a week or so ago, the boys have a new sense of “formality” in their approach to schoolwork.
Like any other uniform, our students understand that they are “at work” when they are wearing theirs. When robed in Bethel Hill Academy’s “black & white”, we see our students sit up a little straighter and work a little harder. It’s not for everyone, to be sure, but for us it is a fun thing that also happens to be a helpful tool.
One other fun thing we have been doing together as a family is filling up our “gem jar”. This is something that we instituted to help shine a light on good behavior, encourage serving others, and make a game out of “catching someone doing something right”.
In a central area of our home, we have a bell next to a large glass container. (Jar? Vase? I’ll let you decide.) Any and every time anyone in our family (including any guests in our home, whom we count as honorary family members) experiences or witnesses an act of kindness performed by another, they can ring the bell — in the presence of the “guilty” party — announce the kind or good action they are celebrating, and place a gem into the jar.
We’re not trying to keep score: The gems of each person’s good deeds are mixed in with everyone else’s. We’re not trying to exalt ourselves: You can only place a gem in the jar for someone else. (Although I have heard a couple times, “Dad, maybe I should get a gem for that.”) We’re just wanting to fill up this jar, and our lives, with beautiful acts of love toward one another. Maybe a little hokey, but pretty cool, too.
And we’re wanting to spread the joy of a life well lived, too. After spending a few weeks with us this summer, and experiencing the gem jar for themselves, we presented a couple of our house guests with their own miniature jars filled with colorful gems to take with them as they left and to remember our time together.
These are just the first couple of a bunch of new things we’re introducing this year. I’m really excited about our school’s sixth year and my second year heading it up!