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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 ✨

Finding our Rhythm

I’m often asked by other mamas “how do you do it?” or “where do you find the time to do art projects? I have laundry piling up!” It’s a common concern with homeschooling. How to get it all done. The truth is you don’t! No one gets it ALL done. Time is our most valuable asset and must be guarded. We must create a life that reflects what we value and let the rest go. imageWe follow a rhythm vs. a schedule. Life is fluid and ever-changing. Schedules are not. We follow a basic flow each day and week. Meals, naps, and bedtime happen around the same time which anchors our day and my sanity. We typically go to the library on Wednesday mornings and have a nature co-op on Thursday. But what happens around these times is an exciting ebb and flow, slowing and rushing as our family needs!imageI’d like to share our rhythm with you while encouraging you to find what works for your family! Isn’t that the beauty of homeschool?! The freedom to find and do what works for your family culture? I’d also like to point out that we value slow and meaningful living. We try to keep margin in our life so that we can dig deep into the things we ARE doing. This is what works for US!imageAre you ready for it…

Read. Project. Play.

It’s that simple! That’s the pulse of our day!

Read

We wake up each morning, prepare breakfast together, and gather in our reading nest, or on a picnic blanket with our morning basket. Both girls pray for our day, we recite a memory verse. I read a Psalm. We are reading through the gospels, starting in Matthew. I read a small paragraph (until the subject changes). We have a small memory board where we recall what the story was about and draw out an illustration together. imageThis is THE most important part of our day. Being in the word together each morning, sharing in the mind of Christ.
The girls then take turns choosing which picture book we read next! Right now or reading nest is full of Jan Brett books and we are LOVING them! I keep clipboards, paper, and markers in our basket. The girls typically sketch away while I read, oh and eat breakfast of course!imageWhen our bellies and minds are full of yummy food and good ideas we clean up and work on a project!

Project

Project time varies and changes! Sometimes we do something I set out the night before (play dough and nature parts, observational drawing, a hand craft etc.) Sometimes the girls have an idea they want to see pursue from the feast of ideas we absorbed in our reading time.
Essentially, project time is relaxed but intentional hands on work! It’s a time where they know I will sit along side them an assist them in pursing their own ventures. The girls drive the motivation and direction of their project! I simply offer my time!image imageimageThe product is second to the process. This is a time to create, discover, make mistakes, and critically think!imageWhen their a bit older, I’d like the project to be on-going process with revisions, bunny trails and depth. Weeks and months of spiraling discoveries!

Play

After we wrap up a project (and clean up of course, because I’m type A😆) it’s free play! Contrary to all the schooly ideas we have engrained in our minds, this is actually the most important part of our day. Yes they need a hefty diet of good books and yes crafting together is of merit, but much is lacking if unmediated play isn’t to follow. This is when their little minds test limits, expand ideas, and self regulate ON THEIR OWN TERMS!imageI stay in an earshot but distinctively make myself unavailable so they can work through problems on their own. I grab a book or a load of laundry and get out of the way of the very important work of play.
imageDramatic play comes to life. imageNegotiation and compromise take place.imageConfidence and self assuredness amplify.imageResearch swells.imageAutonomy grows.

Little people get to be who they are.imageIt’s beautiful.
SO that’s it! That’s our rhythm. We eat lunch and nap and start the whole process over again in one form or another.
What’s yours?

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

Cultivating Traditions: February

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-5The holidays have graciously left a savory aftertaste for the months to follow. Each day has been sweetly slow and meaningful. Maybe its my perspective or well placed gratitude. Maybe we are truly finding our rhythm.  Truth is, I don’t ever remember being this happy or having this many consecutive “good days” in my LIFE. I am confident, joyful, and settling into my calling as a homeschool mother!

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-21

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-6I think our home and school life really suffer when I’m anxious and uptight or in a hurry. Maybe things are going well because I’m relaxing more and more. I find myself breathing and laughing and playing more. I often recall something my husband once told me, “None of the paint and play dough matter, at the end of the day, when they look back all they will remember is how you treated them.” It’s funny, when I focus on that all the other stuff follows seamlessly. The work has been really meaningful lately and I want more of it. I am starting to see that a slow, relaxed, inviting space is the perfect recipe for meaningful growth and learning.

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-15This month I am focusing most on how I treat my children (and how they treat me and each other). We are planning less in our day and focusing more heavily on what is before us. Mostly slow, meaningful, and ongoing investigation with unlimited book reading!homeschool mountian painting play ideas-17Here are some of the other things we are doing!

We have been gearing up for our first snowy mountain trip to Colorado and have had a blast daydreaming of what it would be.

We made a calendar to count down the dayshomeschool mountian painting play ideas-7We made clay snowmen

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-22We’ve made  colorful, glittery, paper mache mountainshomeschool mountian painting play ideas-23

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-24We chalked a gorgeous whimsical snowscape homeschool mountian painting play ideas-18Then we went on our trip! And it lived up to every part of our imagination. We have decided to make this an annual trip!!

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-9Now that we are home I have a few ideas to invite them to further their questions about the trip!

We will make log houses

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-12(The house we stayed in was a log cabin and Fin was really interested in how it was constructed.)

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-10We will make snow play dough and combine our houses and mountains and log cabins and PLAY!

Maybe this will spark more questions the girls have about the trip!

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-13On another note, my main focus for the next few months is to build our family culture around books. I’d like to talk more about that but will have to make a separate blog post!
We have done a brilliant job scattering books around the house on shelves and in baskets. We’ve carved out plenty of time to linger over books together. But I want more! So we are introducing audio books this month! I cannot wait! I’ve checked out the books with the CD’s from the library (and got an extra copy so both girls can have it in their hands while listening). It’s an exciting time in homeschool world!

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-14I want to close by sharing a small victory that confirms the small decisions we make each day to shape our little ones lives.

One night I passed my girls bedroom (they share one) and was bewildered that they managed to turn their light on. Each night it kept happening and I kept going in to turn it off and reprimand them.  After the third or fourth night I was maddened by it!! Until I realized they were reading (they are pre-readers)… They each have a basket of books in their bed and they couldn’t see the books they were reading!!! How exciting. They really love books. So, we got them flashlights so they can get lost in books each night (for now  I go in for a last call, until they are older they need much rest). Mamas what you are doing day in and day out IS working. Keep at it!Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

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

Cultivating Traditions: Happy 2016

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit. -Aristotle

the humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschooling-10When I think of Tradition two things come to mind. First, the crafts-rituals-experiences each family repeats on a given holiday. And Second, the daily habits a family performs (intentionally or otherwise) that shape and reflect values. If I value a literacy rich environment, for example, it’s important that our daily habits reflect that value and thus it becomes Family Culture. I want our family culture to be excellent.the humming room homeschool art travel music and cooking ideas-8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

the humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschooling-6These are things that I want our lives to be marked by and the habits I want to graft in each month for the year of 2016. In the spirit of the new year I guess you could call them resolutions!

Character:

  • Prayerfulness: In the hard and good moments I want to model prayer in front of my children. I want to pray with them when they receive discipline and are heartbroken (or not). And pray in front of them for myself when I mess up and scream and need to ask the Lord and them for forgiveness. I want to rejoice in a joyful moment unabashed. 
  • Minds renewed by the washing of the word: I want to read the bible together each morning discussing the gospel, memorizing scriptures and recalling them in hard times, and listen to good teaching together during down time. I admit these are already solid daily habits in our homes. Nevertheless I’d like to keep them that way!
  • Giving: I want to be a giver of time, money, resources. Adults and children easily giving up the things that we have been so graciously given.
  • Soft words: This one is for me mostly. Soft words for each other and all people.
  • Technology minimalism: I’d like less TV, less phone, less internet, less entertainment etc! Technology should support or crafts, pursuits, and interest not suck out all of our time in mindless entertainment.
  • Discipline: I want to be people that chose to do what is right and good instead of what feels good.
  • Daily Autonomy: The family unit is a great joy and responsibility for all. However, each day I like to carve out time for my children to play independently from my help or concern. It’s important for them to create their own ideas and to govern their own explorations. It’s also an important time for me too. I need to sit and read for pleasure or work on a craft guilt free.

the humming room homeschool art travel music and cooking ideas-5

Craft:

  • Music: My husband is a gifted musician. I wan to make music with our friends and family.
  • Dance: My degree is in dance but I don’t do it often. I’d like to make time to dance myself but mostly together in our dining room (like in the middle of this post my middle and I had a dance party to Adele- more of that.
  • Travel:  We like to explore nature and social studies together in new places.
  • Hand crafting: We love making gifts for others in a time of sorrow or celebrating; sewing, painting, felting, drawing, film, etc.
  • Nature exploration:  Entails collecting, examining, documenting, hypothesizing, pressing, and watercoloring encounters with nature. 
  • Art: Our focus is on outdoor large scale projects, watercolor, observational drawing, sensory/ open-ended art. 
  • Literacy rich: Some of the main portions of our day involves storytelling, tons of reading, authoring and illustrating books together. 
  • Meal making:  I’d like to cook meals together a few times each week and sit down together and linger!
  • Construction: We like to create small worlds with blocks, play dough, loose parts etc., for dramatic play!
  • Ongoing in-depth projects: Each day we try to have workspace and time-slot dedicated to self-directed months long projects!
  • Beer brewing: My husband brews amazing beer. Why don’t we do this more??
  • Farm living: We want to get outside and tend to our chickens, ride horses at Papa Hays, and volunteer at local gardens/farms.

the humming room homeschool art travel music and cooking ideas-7music with friends and family
the humming room homeschool art travel music and cooking ideas-9dancethe humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschooling-22travel explorationthe humming room homeschool art travel music and cooking ideas-3hand crafting for those in sorrow and celebrationthe humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschooling-3

the humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschooling-20nature (pressing)the humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschooling-9art workthe humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschooling-2beer brewingthe humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschooling-7farm livingthe humming room homeschool art travel music and cooking ideas-6

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

Rags to Riches

Don’t you love “rags to riches” stories?  Our daily life is full of them. It’s so rewarding to take mundane or even broken things and experiences and turn them into something useful/ beautiful.  The most recent  opportunity was a broken Ikea frame. It was brand new. I was rather disappointed. It was to hang a special gift from my husband: A Moon Rise Kingdom inspired print and Ikea is 40 MINUTES AWAY! Instead of throwing it out I had a better idea!

Art is pretty important in our home  and I am on a mission to make the girl’s work a prominent fixture in our home. 

the humming room open ended early childhood education art

So I decided to lay out the cardboard backing in our art space and see what happened!The project was on going for about 4 days (we like to have working projects where we can add as we feel inspired). The girls first used tempera paint dumping, splattering, and spreading. Next they added water colors with pipettes.

DSCF1502In one session the crayons were coated in paint. While they were napping I soaked the crayons in warm water and all of the paper fell off of them. Instead of throwing the papers away I offered them as a material in our next art session. Fin requested the glitter glue.

the humming room reggio open ended art for homeschool preschool

the humming room reggio open ended homeschool preschool art

Our “finished products” always look something like this. It’s beautiful to me.  

the humming room reggio sensory art early childhood education

After cleaning away the clutter we discovered an exquisite mixed media piece. One that, if the original glass was in place, would have veiled its magnificence

the humming room reggio abstract preschool art display

This piece hangs as a permanent fixture in our main living space. Aren’t rags to riches beautiful!  Our family looks upon it with great joy. I look forward to strengthening this tradition in our family. May we always find the beauty in the broken. 

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 ✨

Displaying work


I have gleaned many things from my good friend Stephanie who happens to be an amazing blogger/sharer of ideas. One precious tidbit of knowledge that I have gleaned from her is the importance of creating meaningful art with our children and displaying their work in the spaces of our home.the humming room reggio open ended art display making learning visable

Stephanie says, “Not only does it instill a sense of pride and let the children know we value their work, it also allows them to reflect and revisit their experiences and representations during an inquiry, which helps them to expand their ideas.”

the humming room reggio observational drawing display making learning visable

the humming room reggio resarch and plan work display making learning visableOne project in particular stuck out to me because it was a piece of art made by the children to display their work. Could it get any better??

Upon discovering the scrap wood I left for them the girls got excitedly to work!

the humming room reggio open ended art display making learning visable

As an aid, I set out an art book that we checked out from our local library. We must have used that book for five or six projects before finally returning it. I should have written the title down for future projects and to share with you but alas I did not.


the humming room reggio open ended art display making learning visable
Art gets pretty serious around here. The girls frequently sit on the table while doing it. I figure its the only way for them to really get on top of the project, gaining proper proximity and proportion for their little bodies in a large scale world.the humming room reggio open ended art display making learning visableWe took a day before and after nap for the crayon portion but when the girls found out the next step was watercolor they simply could not go on with just crayons.the humming room reggio open ended art display making learning visableThis portion took one sitting,of course, due to fervency.the humming room reggio open ended art display making learning visable

the humming room reggio open ended art display making learning visable

The girls helped me fasten photos of their work to our new masterpiece and since has been a treasured part of our home and schooling process.

the humming room reggio open ended art display making learning visableI love that it hangs over our Art table to remind us of our interests and inspire us to represent them!

the humming room reggio open ended art display making learning visable art room

We’d love to hear about your art space! Comment below!

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