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 ✨

Must-Have’s on our Art Cart

The most important wisdom I’d like to impart in regards to art supplies for your littles is to give them respectful materials. Children inherently know when we give them something counterfeit and the message we send is that they aren’t capable of more.image“A child is a person in whom all possibilities are present- now at this very moment-not to be educed after many years and efforts manifold on the part of the educator.” – Charlotte Mason

When I stopped offering crayola washable paint with cheap brushes and started offering art materials that I use, our entire art world was forever changed! It could be because the quality of materials drew them into more thoughtful and intentional work or it could be that I simply communicated that I trust them and know how capable they really are. imageHere are a few of the must haves on our art cart:
Acrylic paint– less watery and full of texture and rich color. Children love when each stroke of their brush makes full and stark marks. (this is a material I closely monitor because it’s expensive and doesn’t wash easily. My 4 year old can use it independently but not my 3 year old).imageBlack felt tip markers– sharpie or otherwise, children love the dark stark marks they make.
Oil pastels– are an oily-chalky type stick that makes textured, interesting, and gorgeous marks.
Good brushes– small and large with all different tips.imageLiquid watercolor– are vibrant and last forever. You can add water to a dried out pallet and start over.
Watercolor paper– add to the vibrancy. It’s thick and quality and make your marks pop.
Large quality sketching paper– this was a recent addition to our home. Since the addition my 4 year old paints and sketches everyday and her work is elaborate!imageLoose parts- can be added to almost any project (and most of the time is!) Beads, glass stones, wooden bits, etc, can enhance a painted landscape, or adorn a cardboard castle or whatever!
Low-temp hot glue guns– instantly dries parts in place making it easy it build a castle upwards, or secure glitter in place promptly. ( I closely monitor because although low temp it still hurts- my 3 and 4 year old use them).imageTempera paint- Is more watery, goes a long way, and is easier to clean up! This is good for super littles and is a favorite for body painting!
Art books- Fiction and non-fiction books bring fresh ideas to the art experience! Sprinkle them in your art space! Prop them up like cook books while you cook up a new masterpiece!imageAir dry clay and real clay tools– molds and remolds easily for small hands and dries into a permanent state when work is finished! Wooden and metal tools are most excellent for most excellent work!image

imageA few bonus materials:
Shaving cream- added to paint or whatever adds an extra sensory element!
Salt- added to liquid watercolor or whatever adds texture and a little bit of science discovery.
Nature bits- can be added to a painted landscape, be painted themselves, smooshed into clay or playdoh, or just serve as an inspiration! The possibilities are endless!imageUnique canvases – mirrors, scrap wood, large real canvases, foil, glass window etc. serve as a special and different place to make art! These are some of my favorite to hang around the the house.
Pipettes- splats liquid watercolor and are great for science inquiry play with vinegar and baking soda
Water spray bottle- displace paint in a neat way and soften clay projects into slippery wet fun! They are also a great help in getting the table clean after!imageOne last bonus: Display their work! In semi permanent and permanent fixtures around your home! This shows how seriously you take their work. For more on displaying their work click here.imageMay we do all things to connect with and learn from each other ✨

Cultivating Traditions: March

Spring has sprung! What a truly special season it is! We can’t help but be outside. I can just feel our little school swelling with Charlotte Mason influence or maybe even a little forest school vibes?the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-3We’ve got two things on our mind as the simplicity and beauty of spring unfurls. Nature and books!

Outdoor Art:

Creating beautiful works under the warm sun.

chaMudlicious  mud-kitchen pies:
the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-9

the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-8 The best part of spring in Texas is the wild storms. Mud is in abundance and the bounty of mud play is unmatched!

mudTo see more on our mud-kitchen click here!

Parks and outings:

During this season we try to frequent as many parks as we can with friends and sack lunches on hand.

the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-7

the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-14And we try to pet as many little critters as we can while nature is booming!

the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-22

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset Books!
the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea

Ok this will always be a theme in our homeschool (check out building our family culture around books)

the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-3But spring is an especially rich season for book lovers! We love to linger over them outside under a tree with the breeze in our hair. We take them to the park with us. We read about creatures in nature that come to life as we imagine them all around us.

the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-21It’s hard not to romanticize spring! It’s effortless actually.

What’s your favorite family tradition when it comes to spring?

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

Wash the Dust off Your Soul

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls. –Pablo Picasso 

the humming room reggio art

Doesn’t Art make you feel alive? It really does wash the dust off the mundane parts of our days. What is it about artistic expression that vivifies our soul and the world around us? It is a mystery to me. Fin (age 3) and Lou (age 2) do some form of art each and every day and it tends to be the most vibrant part of our day.
the humming room reggio open ended sensory art

the humming room reggio open ended sensory art

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. –Vincent Van Gogh

the humming room reggio open ended sensory art

the humming room reggio open ended sensory body paint art

the humming room reggio open ended sensory body paint art
I got my undergrad in Modern Dance at a Liberal Arts School but am in no way an “artist” in the paint and paper kind of way. But an art rich environment is important and essential in our homeschool. After taking on the truly transformative play challenge by a wonderful blogger friend, art has taken up permanent residence in our home.

the humming room reggio open ended sensory artFor us, art is a means to express, problem solve, narrate, and process. Metacognition, literacy, thoughtfulness, sensory, tactile, decision making, and construction are all involved in the artistic process (even in very young children). It may seem like a great big mess to us but to them it’s their work. And in our home the messier the better. I strive to deny them nothing when it comes to their creative process. More paint? sure! You want to glue something? Ok!

the humming room reggio open ended sensory splatter paint art A work of art is above all an adventure of the mind. –Eugene Iones

 After a fun spice painting provocation Fin and Lou request cinnamon at almost every art session. I feel reluctant each time, (ah the mess!!!) but when I grant their requests the results are always beautiful and outweigh cleanup woes.  When I say “results” I don’t mean the end product (although those turn out pretty cool). There is no pressure to preform. Only an invitation to create. The results are open ended. The process is what’s meaningful. Each layer of paint adds deeper understanding to their repertoire.  As they meld materials, pour, cut, sprinkle, splatter, and brush a fresh coat of wisdom is added. They reap the benefit of making their own choices, asking their own questions, and making their own mistakes. We must let their minds take the adventure of art!!! And often!

the humming room reggio open ended sensory art
The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. – 
Aristotle

the humming room reggio open ended sensory art
If art is something you value and you want a good place to start then check out Kate’s Art Cupboard . If you want to learn about large scale projects and permanent art fixtures click here. Also check out how to display work.

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