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Teach Your Children Well

Teaching Life Skills: The Brodock Family Teams Up for Success!
May 27, 2008 - 10:28:26 PM

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The Brodock family lives and works together in central Alabama, homeschooling and running exciting day camps. We love the work they are doing as a team and hope you will be encouraged and inspired by their example. The following interview was graciously granted us by Kathy Brodock, the talented mother behind Teaching Good Things.

LAF: What are some of the excellent skills that we've almost forgotten in our generation?

KB: Anything that has to do with home-life! Cooking, hospitality, canning, basic home repairs, auto repairs, gardening are all areas that usually are not done by the people that live in the house. We live in a fast-paced, highly entertained and gender-neutral culture that has gotten so far from home--physically and emotionally--that there is little desire or ability to do what needs to be done. No one is home to keep home; they are gone to school and work all day, then they have to rush off to other activities, most of which only pull them further from home. When something needs to be cooked, it is popped out of a box and in a microwave. If something breaks, we either call someone to fix it or we just buy a new one.
Beyond the basics of home maintenance, rarely will you find people who want to create something that takes time; something that takes the discipline of paying attention to detail. It is so much easier to plop down in front of the TV or hook up to an iPod and tune out the world, than it is to stretch the mind and hands to master a new skill, whether it be sewing, baking, woodworking, or gardening.

LAF: Why do you believe it's important to revive these skills?

KB: There are so many reasons! 1 Thessalonians 4:12 says we are to be busy with our hands so that we will behave properly toward our neighbor. Part of this is to be able to meet our neighbor's needs, whether it be the neighbor next-door or the neighbor in China. Most needs people have are hands-on, practical needs. The last part of that verse says "so that we will not be in any need." A man who cannot do his own home maintenance usually finds himself in need quite often, as does a woman who cannot keep her home orderly or provide food for her household (Proverbs 31). There is nothing wrong with calling in a specialist or a skilled craftsman when we need to, but when it comes to the day-to-day things we need to be able to take care of ourselves with our "own hands."
Learning these skills can build many character traits, not only in our children, but in us. Traits such as: diligence, humility, obedience, gratefulness, patience, attentiveness, orderliness, responsibility, initiative, creativity, thriftiness, availability, and self control. Learning these skills helps develop our ability to appreciate the world around us. We can never truly appreciate a quilt until we have tried to make one for ourselves. We can never understand why a skilled carpenter charges what he does until we try to build something ourselves. This is true for any skill.
Learning how to use your hands to create beauty, meet the needs of others, and repair or maintain things around you is truly an important part of being an efficient, well educated adult. Then there is the whole issue of being a good steward of our money. Doing your own repairs, cooking, etc. can save you a lot of money. 
LAF: When did you begin creating video courses for home skills?

KB: We were given the idea about two years ago. Since then we have been learning all about filming,  editing, and marketing. By God's grace we have published two videos this year and have several more in the works.
LAF: What is the course you've enjoyed creating the most and why?

KB: So far I have been the most excited about the cake decorating. I think if you make being in the kitchen fun for the children, half the battle is won. Cake decorating is one skill that moms can learn, and with a little practice she can save her family money by making all their cakes. With a little more practice she could make money as she makes cakes for extended family and friends. This is something she can do without compromising her conviction of being a keeper of her home. Baking and decorating cakes for church, community, and charity events is also one way to be able to minister to others!

LAF: What inspired you to create the day camps?

KB: What I hear over and over from parents is that they just don't have the time to squeeze in sewing lessons or woodworking classes during their normal school year. Most parents view getting the academics done as their primary goal in their child's education, and I do understand that. Most of us reading this are first generation homeschoolers. We have put so much energy into "doing school" that we have instituted a classroom in our home instead of making our homes a place of learning. We need to bring some balance to our children's education. Hosting summer camps is a perfect way to help parents bring that balance in when they don't feel so pressured with a school schedule. We also want these camps to be available for families that do attend public schools so they, too, can be better equipped to meet the needs of others and maintain their homes.
LAF: Tell us a little about your day camps for fathers and sons.

KB: We host a Carpentry Day Camp that is geared towards boys ages 12 and up, and their dads can attend for free. If dads are lacking in the carpentry area they can learn right along with their sons. If they do have these skills it is a great opportunity to help their sons and grow closer. It is not required that dads come; we just want to give every opportunity to foster the father-son relationship.
Carpentry Camp is for one week. The boys are taken to a lumber yard and shown how to look for good quality lumber and how to look for a good deal. The rest of the time they are taught to work as a crew as they build a storage building. The building is built on the property of the person buying the building. The landowner only has to pay for the cost of the lumber and supplies, which is a really good deal for the landowner!  Each boy is given a binder with a list of vocabulary words and a set of drawings of the building so he will be exposed to reading a print. We provide lunch a drinks for the guys!
We also offer a Woodworking Workshops where boys 10 and up can come build a birdhouse and a bird feeder. This is a one-day activity.

LAF: Tell us a little about your day camps for moms and daughters.

KB: Our Domestic Day Camps cover a wide range of skills, including organization, cake decorating, sewing a skirt without a pattern, simple sewing projects, how to grow and use herbs, making bread by hand, quilting, card making, canning jam, and how to minister to your community from your home. Here again, mothers are encouraged to attend with their daughters. Many of us moms are learning right alongside our daughters, but if that is not possible, the daughters really need to be there! This year I have recruited a couple of other ladies to help teach areas that I am not confident enough to teach myself, because I still have alot to learn.
I love the definition of domestic: to be fond of home life and household affairs. We need to fond of homemaking, embrace it, enjoy it and pass it down to our daughters and granddaughters! That is my goal with these day camps.

LAF: Can someone really gain a new skill in just a day or two?

KB: Definitely yes! Most hands-on skills can be learned in a short period of time, but getting good at it takes practice, and practice takes self-discipline. As I said earlier, this is where that character training comes in. Not everyone will enjoy all skills, and no one will master all of them. The important thing is to learn them so at least you will know how to do them, then master the ones you really enjoy!

LAF: How do you involve your entire family in these endeavors?
KB: It is called the "We Factor." We've taught our children that this is not Mom or Dad's business, it is "our business." Our children help us with everything! When we serve others, WE serve as a family. When we work, WE all work, when we play WE all play. They help with the filming, they help when we teach classes, they can fill orders, actually they can do most anything mom and dad can do. Then WE all enjoy the benefits! It's just how we live.
LAF: What kind of response have you gotten to your day camps and video courses?

KB: The response has been very positive for both. All of the customer reviews on the DVDs  have surpassed my hopes! Camp registrations are coming in, and we are getting excited about our summer! We hope to light the fire in some young people to turn their hearts toward home and inspire them to look for ways to meet the needs of those around them.
LAF: What if readers don't live in Alabama--how can they benefit from your teaching?

KB: On our website you can sign up for our free 7-part mini-course, "Encouraging Eager Hands." This course is about building good character through working with your hands.
We do have our Cake Decorating DVD and Crochet DVD available. The customer reviews on these have been great! Our How to Make and Sell Your Own Bath Products DVD will be released in June. The others that are in the making are: How to Quilt, How to Make a Wedding Cake, Create Live Evergreen Arrangements and How to Build Birdhouses and Bird Feeders. As you can see we have several irons in the fire, so be sure to sign up for our updates so you will know when the next resource is hot of the press!
I also have an online quilting class that will teach you how to make a Nine-Patch Quilted Throw. My e-book, What to Do When Your Daughter Hates Being in the Kitchen, has been very popular. One last thing: Olivia just published her first e-book, Grow and Use Culinary Herbs. It is our prayer that these resources will help equip young people with practical skills to become productive adults.
Thank you for letting me share about our website and ministry with you!

LAF: Thanks for sharing with us, Kathy!

Be sure to visit the Brodocks' website to learn more about their camps, DVDs, and eBooks. We heartily recommend all of their resources!

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