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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 ✨

Building Our Family Culture Around Books

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 presetAll the greatest minds in the world are in books. Amazingly, we have access to all of them! This is quite reassuring as a homeschool mom! There is no special formula to learning that somehow the formal school system has codified. They read books! They assign books to be read! Even at the collegiate level. We have all we need here at home to learn about all the grandest ideas and concepts. If I can build a homeschool around the love of books I have done my job!homeschool building family culture around books ideas-6Something I’m most concerned about at the preschool level is motivation. I want my children to develop an absolute love for books and learning. That way, at the secondary level they have the desire to use the tools at their disposal to soak in all of the concepts available to them!homeschool building family culture around books ideasSO we are reading as often as we can in the most leisurely and enjoyable ways possible! We are building our family culture around books that will carry us through the school years and develop into life long learning.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-21Here is a comprehensive list of HOW!

Environment

What we bring into our home reflects what we value. And children are keen to notice. Mine know that we value books because they are everywhere.  homeschool building family culture around books ideas-16Our reading nest- This is where we gather every morning and every afternoon to pour over books. It’s an inviting comfortable space with cozy pillows, books at their level, and small things for them to do with their hands as they listen to read-alouds.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-31Bed book baskets- each child has a basket in their beds and a flashlight so that they can spend their own time pouring over books!homeschool building family culture around books ideas-22Relevant materials- Whether its an art project, nature study, or block building I try to set up corresponding books with relevant material to add ideas and insight to their work.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-30

color mixing sessionhomeschool building family culture around books ideas-3

clay work building beetleshomeschool building family culture around books ideas-17

swamp sensory play

Limited screen time– This one is huge. I think even as adults we’d rather be watching TV. I’m the worst! And it starts with me. I implemented a rule for myself a while ago that I would only be on my phone during nap and when the kids are asleep. That’s been a huge change. Not only do I engage them like I should, they have a model for what an “unplugged” life looks like. We only watch one 30 minute show each day while the girls eat lunch (other than family movie night). If we want a family culture around books we must push back and set limits. I think adults and children naturally choose TV over books! My kids choose to read, play outside, build blocks, and paint pictures because screen time is not an option.Processed with VSCOcam with p5 presetCarved Out Time

What we spend our time doing reflects what we value. If I carve out large or many parts of the day around reading my children recognize that its something I place value upon.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-15Morning basket- each morning we gather in the reading nest (or outside on a picnic blanket!). We pray, recite memory verses, read through the gospels and pour over book after book. We eat breakfast and draw. The girls take turns choosing a book. They love to take over and “read” either books they have memorized or they “read” the pictures. This is our largest reading session.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-2Tea time- When the girls wake from nap we drink tea in the reading nest and typically read something more classical like Beatrix Potter! The girls adore this time.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-4Frequent the library- We visit the library weekly. We go there to play and meet friends but we love to browse and bring new books home.homeschool mountian painting play ideas-14Bonus

Audio books- This is new one in our home and it’s added so much to our lives. We love to take them in the car and read them over and over again! I made sure to get the picture books with the disk so the girls have physical copies to follow along with. I also grabbed the books that had two copies so that each child could follow along in their carseat. Some of the tracks actually ring a small bell to indicate when to turn the page!!homeschool building family culture around books ideas-29Authoring stories- Every so often the girls and I will write a story together! The last one was about a Princess named Powgee who gets swallowed up by a bad guy named Purdo Gurdo! We later added in illustrations. I laminate each book and add them to our book shelves. The girls love reading the books they’ve written.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-10

homeschool building family culture around books ideas-14Storytelling- This doesn’t happen often because it’s a lot to set up but we have a story telling basket with figurines and props to help us retell a story after we have read it. This goes really well with stories we’ve read over and over.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-9

homeschool building family culture around books ideas-11Encourage pre-reading- When the girls ask to take over the read-aloud I always say yes! And I never correct. Sometimes they read from memory and sometimes they read the pictures (a lot of times its verbatim the text). But what they “read” doesn’t matter. What matters is that they see themselves as readers.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-7Take books on vacation- We always bring a basket of books on vacation. Whether they get read or not. They are a part of our lives!homeschool building family culture around books ideas-23

homeschool building family culture around books ideas-24Build your library- We check out books from the library! You can keep them for 3 weeks but you can renew for around a year or more. We’ve had around 40 books for 6 months. We have a running list of books we MUST own when we return ours. The library is a great way to have many books for free and to find the gems you must own forever.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-18Tips

Tip 1) Start small and  take on one new habit at a time. I accumulated all of these habits one at a time over months and months. I’d start with screen time and the library! homeschool mountian painting play ideas-12Tip 2) Keep the same books for a long time and read them over and over!homeschool building family culture around books ideas-8Tip 3) Read the author and illustrator, the kids will have them memorized and so will you for finding new good books.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-19Tip 4) Give those little hands something to do while you read. They retain so much while eating/drawing/playing. You will be amazed.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-5Tip 5) Have fun!!! If it’s just not working. STOP. Try again later. Reading used to be a source of frustration in our home until I slowly changed our habits. I wouldn’t force it. Don’t do that!homeschool building family culture around books ideas-13For more encouragement/ideas/book-lists  go to read aloud revival! I’m pretty sure Sarah coined the phrase “building your family culture around books” and I just love her. 

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