How Reading Together Connects Our Family

Today, I want to share with you one of the best ways that I have found to connect with my children: through reading together.

Whether we are reading picture books, Bible stories, or chapter books, reading provides connection for my family like nothing else that I have found!

books we like to read


How Reading Helps Me to Connect with My Children

Reading provides physical connection. Part of connecting is being physically close.  My children love to sit close by and even have "snuggle time" when I read to them.

Reading helps my children to listen to me. My children are hearing my voice as I read to them. I truly think that this helps them to listen to me when I speak to them about other things!

Reading opens up discussions. Just talking about what the characters do in a story creates some very good conversations in our family. There are also many discussions about life lessons that books can initiate.

Reading creates special play time. I honestly cannot tell you how many times there have been that my children engage in imaginative play because of books we have read (And they love it when I play along with them!) They love to pretending to be different characters! We have had adventures as the Boxcar Children, the Characters from Little House in the Big Woods, the Miller Family, and the Animals from the Burgess Books (to name a few).

boxcar children props bennys pink cup henrys trophy blueberries bread milk and cheese
Our Boxcar Children Props, including Benny's pink cup and Henry's trophy.

WHY Connecting with Your Children Is So Important 

A few years ago I read this amazing book called Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers.

This book really inspired the way that I think about connecting with my children.

The main message of the book is this:

As children grow, they begin to spend more time with other children and less time with parents. This changes their natural attachment to parents and instead attaches children to peers.

(This is due to the way our society is now set up and not the natural dynamic!)

The problem with this shift in attachment causes children to become "peer-oriented," valuing the thoughts and opinions of their peers more than those of their parents.

And this begins young (think preschool and kindergarten), but really manifests in the teen years.

The authors (A Ph.D. in child development and an M.D.) see this trend in our society as problematic. And I completely agree!

I want my children to remain attached to me and not transfer that attachment to peers because I believe that an attachment to parents is truly what's best for children.

So I encourage you to find ways to connect with your children. Reading helps me to connect with my children, but you may find something else that works better for your family. 🙂

I would love to hear from you!

Does your family enjoy reading together, too? What ways have you found to connect with your children?

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Why We Love Homeschooling Year-Round

One of the most important things that I have learned about homeschooling is that it doesn't have to look like "school at home."

While this concept includes the traditional learning style of textbooks and notebook paper and the 8:00AM to 3:00PM mentality, I have found that it also reaches much deeper than that.

It also includes the yearly homeschool schedule.

homeschool planner calendar

We homeschool year-round, and it works great for our family. Here are a few reasons why:

Flexibility in Our Schedule.

Instead of 36 weeks of the year to complete school, we have 52 weeks. This allows for a day off here and there for whatever reason without having to stress about it.

Our school fits around our life instead of our life being shaped by school.

More Frequent Breaks.

Homeschooling year round allows for more breaks during times when we want a break. We choose not to take a long summer break, but instead take more frequent breaks throughout the year.

We typically take a long break between Thanksgiving and Christmas to enjoy extra activities and to focus on the meaning of the holiday season.  And in the Spring when the weather is nice, we take more time off then as well.

We also greatly enjoy off-season vacations when the rates and crowds are lower.

Monticello homeschool field trip
Our day at Monticello early this Spring. Almost no one else was there!

To Make Learning a Lifestyle.

I grew up in a typical public school setting (as most children do) where school begins in the fall and ends at the beginning of summer.

But as I teach my own children, I have discovered that I want them to think of school as more than just a fall to summer occurrence.

I don't want them to be trained to take a vacation from learning. I want them to enjoy learning and not see it as a task to be completed.

I want my children to view learning as a lifestyle.

charlotte mason homeschool quote education is an atmosphere an discipline a life

Do you homeschool year-round? How does it work for your family?

Please leave me a comment below. I would love to hear from you!

4 Reasons Why Nature Study with Young Children is Important

little flowers chickweed nature study

Some of my best memories as a child are times of being outside in nature to explore. I loved to study rocks, pick wildflowers, and chase butterflies.

I remember going on walks with my dad, who showed me interesting things. He taught me how to identify trees, showed me animal tracks in the dirt, and allowed me to help plant and harvest in his garden.

I believe that my early introduction to nature is why I grew to love it, and why I continue to love nature today. 

I have seen my children begin to develop a love for nature as well. And I've got to tell you that it thrills my heart!

Here are 4 good reasons why taking time for nature study with young children is important:

1. Nature Study Teaches Attention To Detail.

Attention to detail is a skill that will serve anyone well for an entire lifetime.

There are so many details in nature. When efforts are made to make children aware of these small wonders all around them, it's amazing how many little things they will notice on their own!

On occasion I have pointed out small insects, little flowers, and beautiful colors to my children.

nature study young child collection rocks twig flower moss

And now they are eager to show me the things they find!

2. Nature Study Encourages Exploration and Self-Directed Learning.

I don't think there is anything that stimulates more curiosity in children and a desire to research the way a new discovery in nature does.

When children see something interesting in nature, they naturally want to know more about it. So many good questions come from observing nature.

Children who have been exposed to nature study seem to be sort of different in that they notice “nature things” in the city when others are only seeing the city. They look for different flowers, birds, rocks, and bugs everywhere they go...

3. Nature Study is the Best Introduction to Science that a Child Can Have.

winter crocus nature study

In one way or another, nature study involves most of the sciences.

Nature study introduces concepts in Biology, Entomology, Botany, Zoology, Geology, and Astronomy just to name a few.

Chances are that children who study nature will already have some understanding (and real life experience) regarding many topics they encounter in early science books.

And because of their early hands on experiences with these topics, the subject of science will be fascinating to them.

4. Nature Study Inspires Awe and Reverence of The Creator.  

One way that God reveals Himself to us is in nature.

Psalm 19:1-3 says:

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.” 

And look at Job 12:7-9:

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Who does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?” 

Even Jesus used the wonders of nature to illustrate truths about the Kingdom of Heaven in His parables (Parable of the 4 Soils, Parable of the Growing Seed, and others.)

forsythia blooming spring nature study

Nature is so full of God's wonder. I believe that God teaches us through nature and helps us to grow closer to Him by it.

I love the words about nature study recorded by Charlotte Mason, a well-known British educator of the late 1800s:

“From the flower in the crannied wall to the glorious firmament on high, all the things of Nature proclaim without ceasing, ‘Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty’ ”

So how do you "do" Nature Study? 

The truth is, there is no single way to do nature study. Nature study can be what you want it to be.

The important thing is to get outside in the fresh air and sunshine, and then simply take notice of the world around you.

Point things out to your children.

Observe the birds. Look closely at flowers. Watch a busy insect. Look at the details of rocks.

And just be amazed by the world around you.

For information on a more formal approach to nature study, consider these sources:

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Why Our Christmas Tree is Up Before Thanksgiving


christmas-tree So yesterday we put up our Christmas tree. I know what you’re thinking, we haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet!

Yes, our Christmas tree is up 4 days before Thanksgiving. And I have to say that this is earliest I have EVER had a Christmas tree in my house.

I know that many people are against early Christmas decorations because of the widespread commercialism of the holiday and the “skipping over Thanksgiving.” I have to admit that I have had similar thoughts in the past, so we have never put our tree up before Thanksgiving.

So when my children asked yesterday if we could please get our Christmas tree out (They have literally been asking since October!), I had a thought that actually changed the way I think about early Christmas decorating.

Here was my thought:

Christmas is actually a big part of Thanksgiving to me.

I know it does sound strange when you first hear this, but allow me to explain my thought:

So everyone knows that Thanksgiving is a time to pause and give thanks to God for all that we have. I love Thanksgiving! It’s one day of the year that we are especially mindful of all the blessings we have.

Fisher Price Little People Thanksgiving Set

Thanksgiving is a time we remember the history of the Pilgrims coming to America, their successful first year of harvest, and how God had provided for them after the initial hardships they faced.

My daughter and I have been reading about this in detail and have learned so much in one of her history books this year called Stories Of The Pilgrims.

So that’s Thanksgiving.

Now let’s look at Christmas.

Christmas is about celebrating the Savior’s birth. Without Jesus coming to Earth as a baby, He could not have gone to the cross to pay for our sins (and not just for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world, “whosoever believes” 1 John 2:1-2, John 3:16).

Christmas Tree Close up

This truth was really brought to life for me at Christmastime last year as my family and I enjoyed reading a book together called One Wintry Night.

My favorite quote from this book resonates in my mind as we approach Thanksgiving this year:

“Since the beginning of time, we needed Christmas.”

What a beautiful thought this is!

When you think of it this way, we really should be celebrating Christmas everyday of the year, the humble first coming of the Savior we all so desperately need!

So yesterday, 4 days before Thanksgiving, we put up our Christmas tree.

And while having a Christmas tree up doesn’t necessarily remind me of all the blessings I have to be thankful for, it does remind of of something that I am most thankful for:

God’s saving grace that was made possible only through Jesus, who first had to come as a baby in a manger.

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends!

I hope the blessing of Christmas will be a big part of your Thanksgiving this year!

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