Once our family decided to embark on the great adventure known as homeschooling, the next few weeks and months were consumed with answering lots of questions:
- Which educational philosophy should we follow?
- How many hours do we school?
- Which curriculum do we choose?
- How do I create a portfolio?
- What's a portfolio?!?
- What's my name?!?!?
I'm sure many of you can relate to our conundrum. As the weeks went on, our family, once known as the "happy family" around town, could more readily be identified as the "frazzled family." There was an underlying tension in our home we had never before experienced.
Out of sheer pity, my parents offered to keep our three children so my husband and I could get away for the weekend to try and regain our equilibrium. During that time away, we asked ourselves some hard questions: why had our family dynamic changed and what could we do to repair it? Somehow we had lost our identity so we decided to get back to the "FUN-damentals” our family had employed before we had started to homeschool. After all, we weren't a school - we were a family! We had always loved spending time together, having fun, and going on adventures so we decided to reevaluate our view of learning. Shouldn't learning be exciting, fun, and rewarding? Of course not all lessons are fun, but learning is! We had various strategies for keeping focused on the “FUN-damentals” through the years, but one really stands out from the rest…..
Our children loved to watch re-runs of the 80’s TV series The A-Team. You may remember the band of misfits led by Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith. Even though the team was in hiding while waiting for amnesty from a false indictment, they went around helping people out of trouble. They always faced overwhelming odds with no way out, yet they always came through with a creative solution by putting their heads together and never giving up.
My husband announced one evening that the Hendrix family was an alias for the A-Team. Of course my husband was Hannibal and after much discussion, each child agreed upon the character that they most identified with and the A-Team was re-born. I won't name names, but anyone who knows my three children well, will probably not have much trouble figuring out which one was B.A., Face, and Murdock :)
For the record, we did not endorse smoking cigars, blowing up trash cans, or "scamming" airplanes. Nor did we encourage or approve of any negative personality traits displayed by these characters. But we did capitalize on the great character lessons taught during each episode.
Hannibal commanded his team's respect and they willingly followed his directions even when they didn't understand what he was doing. (What dad wouldn't want that from his children?) The members of the team had unique talents and opinions, but they always worked together as a team. They depended on each other, were loyal to each other, committed to complete every mission together, and never left anyone behind. They relied on their creativity, perseverance, and ability to trust every other member of the team with their very life - all while having fun!
This new “identity” helped solidify a very positive environment in our home. There was a code among the team and to this very day, I bet each one could recite their team rules as well as sing the “Fighting Nighthawk” song!
Of course we studied and memorized Scripture daily - it was truly the foundation of our educational process. God’s Word is powerful and able to transform lives! But using a silly show helped my three children become what Ecclesiastes 4:12 describes as, “the chord of three strands that is not easily broken.”
I would encourage your family to come up with a moniker or model to exemplify what you want to be known for. I trust it will be as much of a blessing and adventure for you as it was for us.
Please write and share ways you have created a family identity. It's wonderful to share ideas with each other.
“I love it when a plan comes together!”
Becoming the A-Team stands out to me as one of the single most positive interventions in our family dynamic. To this day, the A-Team remains a wonderful inspiration to me - a reminder of our amazing team and the power of creative problem-solving.
One of the great examples of how the A-Team approach played out was in our family business. Every Friday was a workday…a chance to close the books while opening our minds to the world of entrepreneurship. We learned practical skills, the value of hard work, and many important lessons. But what I really took away from those workdays was an empowering sense of my own strengths, what unique talents and insights I brought to the team, and the eye-opening discovery of how we jumped to light speed when working together.
My dad loved to set a really difficult goal for us to work on together – the completion of a project, a sales goal, a new system – that would be practically impossible to complete that day…but somehow that energized us to do it anyway! He was careful to let us test out our own abilities, work out strategies together, even go beyond what we thought we could do without putting the outcome before the process. And no workday was complete without taking time to have lunch together, or a fun mid-afternoon break. Those days were long, but we never hoped for 5:00 pm…we weren’t ready for the day to end (which was good, because some days were a lot longer than that!) And we knew that whenever we finished on Friday, Mom would have tacos ready for us to celebrate another successful A-Team mission!
Oh, and I DO still know the team rules and can still sing the “Fighting Nighthawk” song! You never know when another mission might be coming along….
p.s. If you write in this week (and ask very nicely), I’ll tell you what A-Team character I am :)