Six Places We Always Keep Books

I can narrow my homeschool goals down to three things that I want most for my children. Number one, is a relationship with Christ that bears fruits of righteous living. Number two, is a strong appetite and aptitude for reading. Number three is gaining a vast array of handi-crafts or trades. That’s it! If I can accomplish these three things I will feel as though I have done my job.We can talk about the other two later, but this post is about the second goal. I’m convinced that a child with a voracious appetite for reading, and the ability, can learn anything. All the greatest minds and ideas in the world are in books. Books are our avenue to car mechanic, Greek philosophy, zoology etc.! Books are the means at which we gather knowledge. Books are important. I want our lives to be immersed in them and our family culture to be built around them. I’ve given thought to how I’m encouraging our family culture around books and would like to share them with you!

Here are 6 places we always keep books:

1) living space-

In the most predominant room in the house, books are predominant too. We show what we value by where we place them. In the busiest room in the house books are more likely to get picked up, especially if you sit down and grab one. A simple basket can be a beautiful and inviting display. The best invitation is to turn off the TV.

2) beds-

Before nap and bedtime I crawl into the girls bed and read a picture book, a chapter from our chapter book, or mother goose nursery rhymes. They lay in bed and read to themselves before they fall asleep (they are pre-readers so they read the pictures or read from memory). They feel like they are pushing back bedtime and I feel good about why! It’s a win/win!3) dining room table-

Bible for breakfast and Fables for dinner! We feed our minds and bodies at meal time, with the exception of lunch which is their one time a day to watch a show. With full mouths and bottoms in chairs this is one of the best times to get a read-aloud in.
4) devices-

The Audible app has become a dear friend. We have access to all the greatest classic read-aloud by theatrical linguists. On an iPad or smartphone these dear stories can come with us everywhere!

I feel a little tricky I admit, but I have to share the best trick I’ve done with audio books. My girls listen to classics on the iPad during nap and before bedtime some days. Because they’ve never done anything else on devices, they think it’s the best thing ever. They feel as though they are getting screen time (while pushing back bedtime) and I’m in the kitchen dancing because they are listening to Ann Hathaway! I’m tricky😆5) play and discover areas-

Nature table, block section, art cart, animal bin- these are all great places to add a book for reference. Most children pick them up immediately and ask questions, and some children like mine, are interested once I pick it up and start perusing. 6) bags for on the go-

Before we go outside-or to the park-or coffee shop I grab a few favorite picture books/our chapter book AND a book or two of mine. There’s a chance one will sit down with me and share moments in a good story. And at the very least (or maybe very most) I grab one of mine and dive in. I read in front of them almost every day, out of my own book, so that they see its prominence in my life.So… pretty much everywhere, there’s a book or two or ten. Any chance for an opportunity to share in literature together, that’s what I’m after in these early years of homeschooling!

May we do all things to connect with and learn from each other ✨

Homeschool Success When You’re Type A: Honing The Art of Organized Chaos

I hear it a lot, “I could never do what you do! I’m too Type A!” I typically burst out laughing because I am SUPER TYPE A! They assume that because I let my children paint their bodies and cover their faces in mud that I’m some loosy goosy free-for-all funhouse and that’s just not true. If you come over you will find everything has its home and I demand that it be put back there. The process of letting some of that go has been a good journey for me. It’s good that I’m learning not to demand perfection from my children. Perfection is an unneeded burden all of us! But for my sanity and the function of our home I won’t let go of some of my type A and very important boundaries in our home.
If your excuse is that you don’t homeschool because you are too type A, I respectfully disagree! I think your type A provides the structure and form your children need to thrive. Here are some tools I think will help you run a successful and fun homeschool while keeping most of your type a tendencies in tact! Type A mama you were made for this.Here are ways to organize the chaos…

1.Minimize your stuff and schedule:
Scale back all toys and project supplies so that when projects and play stuff get pulled out it’s easier to clean up right away. I’ve got an art cart for project supplies and a block section for toys and everything else is locked up in a closet to rotate in! I like clear containers and labels to make it easy to switch out materials and it’s easy for the kids to pick up after play. 

Also scale back your time commitments. Say no to social gatherings and obligations. Create margin in your life so that you have the time and space to build your homeschool days the way you want.
If you are like me, ample time and less stuff to put away means projects are more likely to happen. JOYFULLYFor more on our day-to-day click here

2. Designate a space for each activity:
We have a place to read, to do projects, to play etc., this keeps all of the stuff for that activity nicely in its place, making cleanup easier. There aren’t blocks in the reading nest (most of the time😜) or crayons in the block section. We can easily tidy up because everything has a home in each little section.3. Create boundaries and stick with them:
The designated spaces works for us because I have laid out my expectations and continue to verbalize them as we go along. Paint stays in the art cart unless they ask. We do art only at the table. We put our books back after we read them. When you wake up from nap and pick out a princess dress to wear we put all the others ones back, etc.!4. Anchor your day with habits:
It’s easier for children to follow expectations that are clear and constantly expected to be followed. Eventually, it becomes a habit (at least I hope it does). We are consistent with when and how we eat, play, clean etc.! And no matter what we do we clean up before we move on ( are you sensing a theme here?) it’s a habit now! The formative years are all about FORMing good habits!5. Set their expectations, and yours:
“Ok sweets! We are about to start painting together. I need waiting-hands until I’m done nursing the baby. If you touch the paint before I come back you will have to sit this session out.” “Today we aren’t painting our bodies or faces, just the paper. If you can’t respect what we are doing today you are going to be done painting.” “We aren’t using glitter today.” This is how we set their expectations.
They might sling paint on the floor, they might add nature bits or dinosaurs, They might not be interested at all and want to go play…. this is how we set our expectations. They will most certainly do something you don’t expect! Expect a mess! But you and your littles expect to clean up after! You’ve made that clear.6.Do messy things outside:

Ok, this is life changing. DO ALL THE MESSY THINGS OUTSIDE (if you can). Sensory, art, mud oh my! It will be way more fun for you and them! Your inner voice will scream much less! It will free you all up to enjoy each other and the experience. And then you can just hose everyone off! It’s magic.7. Break up your day, take breaks often:
Do small lessons. Start each day with read-alouds, workbooks, handwriting, and math etc., and then send everyone outside. Even you if you can. Soak up the sun! Forget the chores!  This is a break. Come back to work , or do a project, or chore or meal prep. Then nap! Don’t ever give up nap!! Or rest time or whatever. Everyone separates to be alone with a good book or their thoughts or their pillow. So that we can all come back together with a new vigor for each other, books, interests, and work. Never underestimate the power of rest.8. Clean up after each activity:

If you are as type A as I am mess makes you crazy!! We clean up after each and every project. If the girls play in their room before I come get them in the in the morning they tidy before breakfast. Yes I’m that TYPE A. I can’t joyfully make a paint mess while there is a doll mess and a block mess and a meal mess in the other rooms.9. Find what works for YOU and what doesn’t:
If your like me, you grab many ideas from other awesome mamas and try to apply them to your life. Sometimes we can grab too much and take on things that really don’t work for our family. Use trail and error! Keep what brings you ALL joy and connectedness and leave behind the rest! For us, pre-prepared projects aren’t enjoyable. I don’t have the time to prepare them and the children would rather explore materials on their own terms. So projects arise spontaneously. What other families do may be wonderful and lovely but not for your family and that’s ok. Good even! We have all been created so differently and that’s beautiful!10. Measure your success by quality experiences not busywork:
Unfortunately, it took me the entire first year of homeschooling to realize that quality togetherness  was much more important than checking boxes. If you plan a spectacular day full of good schooly things that’s great! But if you aren’t invested in them AND each other it’s truly a day wasted. It’s no good to plow through a list. It takes a slower lifestyle to deepen relationships with people AND ideas. We need to linger in the arms of a loving cuddle and sit with the complex ideas of a good book. Scale back and measure time qualitatively not quantitatively.Finally and probably most importantly, change a little. Be shaped by the experience. See yourself as a life-long learner in need of growth alongside your children. This is an experience meant to be enjoyed and bonded. If you aren’t enjoyable and only insist on your way everyone will suffer. You set the tone. Let this journey change you for the better.

Extra tips:
* Read together first, I promise you will feel so connected the other stuff will run more smoothly and you might even have ideas for play or projects after!
* Eat good food, eat sugar as a treat. Sugar makes them crazy I promise!
* Go outside a lot. Something about it calms mama and of course the children get all their wiggles out. I can tell the days I want to pull my hair out I a)haven’t read to them b) we’ve eaten too much sugar and c) we haven’t gone outside.

*Screen-time can squash any lofty goals made for a day. Limit them as much as you can. You will be surprised how much time there is to live actual life when the television is off.

That’s it mama! Use those Type A skills to organize the chaos!

May we do all things to connect with and learn from each other ✨