I've mentioned monthly themes a few times. I love using monthly themes eg Brotherly Love Campaign, obedience, service, loyalty, kindness, manners, I am A Child of God, work etc. My sister-in-law sent me a self esteem theme she made up for her children that is alot of fun. I'll put that up one of these days.
It is always better - easier, quicker, less painful
- to prevent a problem than to correct it. If you
have a dream of having a family that helps
each other and enjoys being together, it is
much better to teach and develop and nurture
this in the early days than to try to correct it
after you've come up against problems.
However, in both cases, using monthly themes
You decide what quality you would like to
encourage in your family, collect stories,
games, lessons, charts, competitions on the
topic and focus on this one thing for one month.
The 4 part Brotherly Love Campaign and
Teaching Children Obedience are examples.
You can play themes with anything you want to
Once we did a May Manners Month. One
activity that has gone down in history was
inviting a special guest to family night dinner.
It worked much better than expected. My husband came to dinner as Rodney Rude. He didn't do much in the way of disguise but his actions!! The children gasped and giggled and made wide eyes imploring me to make him behave. He grabbed food off their plates, spilled water, spoke loudly and constantly, interrupted everyone, stuck his chewing gum to the side of the water jug, but best of all, as I placed the chocolate cake on the table, he jumped up, walked ACROSS the table, grabbed the whole cake, and stomped out slamming the door. One little boy (he likes cake) burst into tears, the older ones laughed themselves under the table and the little girls whispered to each other, "I think that was Dad......??"
The Family Night lesson is on the theme you have chosen and this is backed up by stories told by you at random moments during the week, such as in the car or waiting for others. If you tell the story to just one child, another is sure to come up half way through and want to know what they are missing, so use this as a chance to tell it again and re emphasize the point. A game after dinner and an activity on Saturday or Sunday afternoon is fun and keeps the interest up. You don't need new ones every week. Children love to repeat an activity that was fun the first time. A chart on the fridge, with stickers for performance helps, but I find that a chart's 'life' is about 2 weeks. Then it is forgotten, time for something else.
Try making up your own theme month. It is fun planning and looking for material and the result will impress you with how clever you are. You know which games your children like and what will surprise or delight them. Try new things, do the unexpected.
As well as teaching and having fun together, it also has the whole family unified, working together. You won't expect everyone to join in everything and love every activity, but there will be enough for improvement.
The years to do this are the primary school years, when the after school activities are in your hands and under your control. In high school there are alot more things to work around and school work becomes a serious business. Also, starting themes in the early years starts a tradition - it is normal in your family, looked forward to, remembered fondly, "Oh remember we did this when we were little?" (like two years ago) The memory comes with a left over feeling of "What fun thing is mum doing now?" so your participation and cooperation is better when you try to extend your teaching into the teenage years. This is one of those habits you develop in the early years that carry over into the teenage years. The interest they feel has history to help it along - "It was fun back then". So, themes can extend the amount of time the child is receptive to your teaching.
Think of the fun you could have:
A 2 year old and 4 year old making cookies with you then sneaking up to someone's doorstep, leaving them and running away, their little heart pounding. (Service theme)
Small children placing word strips around the house to name objects and burning up those bad words we don't use at our house like 'shut up' and 'stupid'. Children are fascinated by fire and can do it under supervision. Stick nice words like 'gorgeous' on mummy, 'funny' on dad or grandpa and 'perfect' on the baby. (Nice words theme)
Testing their cooperation- put a splint on the elbows of two kids -eg a ruler wrapped on with a nylon stocking- so they can't bend their arms. Place a bowl of marshmallows in front of them and see what happens. Very amusing. (I'm just warning you, under 7s often get frustrated and cry.) How long does it take them to figure out they have to feed each other? (Cooperation theme)
Playing "The Queen is Sleeping" - one child sits on a chair (throne) with a few sheets of rolled up newspaper in hand and a blindfold on. Put a treat under the chair. The others have to sneak up and try to grab it without waking the queen. If she hears them, she whacks them. (service theme - considering others)
Making a friend - Stuff old clothes that belong to the child with newspaper - socks for hands and feet,long pants and long sleeved shirt. Use a peice of stocking for the head and sew with a big hand stitch at the neck, ankles, wrist and waist. The child can dance with it, read to it, have picnics with it. It does whatever it's told (friendship theme)
Come up with your own monthly themes and, if you want, send ME a copy!