Organizing a Growing Family, One Small Step (or Book) at a Time

I never knew adding a third child would require so much organization! But, I’m not one to scoff at organization; if anything, I love my lists, I love my To-Do Binder, I love checking things off and seeing my progress, or re-arranging my day to fit what didn’t get done, and working around it. My husband is always amazed how my lists keep growing, and never seem to end, but it helps me when my brain is always thinking of a million other things to keep myself organized and keep me from forgetting something. To also be fair, adding a third child to our mix is certainly something that added to my growing lists of to-do’s, but it also showed me that if I don’t write things down, I’ll have a chaotic mess on my hands of things that I’d simply forget to do.

I also realized that adding a third meant that I’d have less time with my other two. Ollie, who’s now 3, and Holden, who just turned a year, would be getting less time with me once our Xander makes his appearance. I already split my time between them decently, but always give more time to Ollie because he’s the one homeschooling and has very high ambitions; Holden simply is learning words, and motions, and is pretty content at joining in whatever we’re doing as long as he gets to sit on my lap or make a mess with blocks a short arms reach away. Adding Xander to things will definitely rock our homeschooling world and life.

One thing I realized early on, that I can maintain as a constant, is reading time. We have so many books in our home, I feel like there’s little to no time to read them all, yet I’m always itching to crack them open! I’ve always installed a “quiet time” when Holden was napping, from the moment we brought him home from the hospital, and now I plan on doing the same thing once Xander is born in a few days time. How well that’ll turn out, I haven’t a clue. So far when I hush Holden, all he does is scream louder with a big grin on his face… He’s my little curve ball, this on;, he’s his own little man. But, at least Ollie has always understood it and respected it, and he does help me keep Holden calm when needed, but he also has come to love “quiet time” because it gives him time to do his own thing — from playing, to reading his own books (yes he can read simple books; it’s amazing how much he’s learned from us reading aloud to him), to simply using his iPad or watching cartoons on the TV (yup, we use both iPad and TV as our way to gain a few minutes of peace, and I’m not ashamed to admit it; in fact, I know my sanity will be relying on those two devices this winter when they can’t burn off energy outside).

But, as winter came closer and I finally stepped out of the denial that it was coming, whether I wanted it to or not, I knew I’d be spending a lot of time inside the house with my boys (winter, in New England, along with a newborn, is not a place you want to venture out a lot in). So, I had made a long list of books to read, or re-read, not just for myself, but for my boys as well. We have a large library collection growing within our home, and the public library is less then a three-minute drive from our house (and along Daddy’s route home), so books will never be scarce.

Back in November, I began filtering through our books, not just mine and my husband’s collection, but the boys as well, reorganizing, donating duplicates, recycling books that were too damaged from Holden’s teething phase from us not stopping him quick enough, and doing a quick glance at books that were gifted to us that I hadn’t decided if they were worth keeping or appropriate for our home.

  • So, I sat down and went through the boys’ books first. I was amazed at how many duplicates we were actually gifted, and how many we hadn’t touched! I reorganized the books on a sheet of paper of preference of what we’ll be reading first, and on down the list, until we got to books that Ollie voiced he was excited to re-read.
  • Next, I did the same to mine and my husband’s books; filtering through so many unread books didn’t take quite as long as it did for the boys’, but it felt really good to organize myself and our many books. These I organized from appropriate enough to read aloud (Sherlock Holmes series, anyone?), to ones that I’d read quietly on my own, and ones I’ve been itching to re-read.
  • Following all that fun organization, I ran through my lists of books I’ve been wanting to borrow from the public library, and made an actual list instead of all my sticky notes, and highlighted titles in my various homeschooling books (The Well Trained Mind, Honey For A Child’s Hearty, The Read-Aloud Handbook, among many more), and my cell phone notes, and screenshots of books I came across on Pinterest and walking through Barnes and Noble. I actually wrote them all down on a list (preference didn’t matter, I was just excited to have everything in one spot) and even made a digital list on the public library’s website so when I’m ready to rent the books, I simply log on, click, and when it’s available the hubby will swing by and pick it up for me!

I can’t tell you how happy I was when I saw my list back in November! I was so proud of myself for being organized and ahead of the curve when it came to this, because I knew once Xander came, homeschooling would basically be out the window until not only was I ready to start our new routine, but Xander was ready for a routine, and Ollie and Holden were ready to start a new routine. Homeschooling will now become a household event, I feel, where as before, we could do it during nap time, or when Holden was preoccupied with rearranging my kitchen drawers. Now, I feel like we’ll need to work homeschooling into and around our “new routine.” But in November, I felt like at least our days would be filled with literature (even if it were to be for five minutes a day; I’d take what I could).

But, as December rolled around I realized that even if I could read to my sons for five minutes a day (or more preferably), it wouldn’t be “enough” for Ollie. I thought we’d be taking a break from “school” starting the week of Thanksgiving on until after Christmas, start a tad bit after Christmas, then drop everything again right before Xander was born… Oh, was I wrong on all accounts. My oldest would ask to do school at least every other day. He loved our routine, he loved what he was learning, and that flame of learning had already been ignited, and he didn’t want it to go out, and I couldn’t be the one to extinguish it. Here I was thinking he’d love a break, he’d love to just play all day and not do a thing; next thing I know he’s picking up his own books and reading them to himself or to Holden, asking me to read to him, asking me to “do school today.” My idea of a break completely went out the window! So, we’d do school when he’d ask, and I realized my original “grand plan” back in November was not going to cut it come January. I went back to the drawing board and came up with another game plan:

  • Go through the workbooks/printables I had collected for Ollie, rip the pages out of the books, organize them by easiest to hardest, and subject matter (if possible), and place them in a clear sleeve in a binder (preferably five pages to a day or more to offer variety). If possible, even attach some with sticky notes that could be used along with the book lists I designed back in November so he’d have something to do while I (or a relative who’s moving in with us for a month to help) read to him.
  • Also, I went through all our supplies of art and craft items (glue, paint, foam cut outs of letters and images, pom-poms, pipe cleaners, construction paper, etc.) and stocked up on what I was short on. If I (or my family helping) needed a break and Ollie wanted to do something more constructive and independent, I could just lay it all on the table and let him go to town without needing much from me other than a little supervision.
  • Going through the kiddos’ art supplies gave me a light bulb moment to where I could probably organize at least two coloring pages, two arts and crafts, and one book with activity planned out per day in the same binder I had originally created for the “To-Read” list. (I doubted this would work for every day, but the beauty is that it can always get pushed back, or pulled ahead, and I had options available for my kiddo other than the iPad or TV. It also gave options to those helping us the month of January into February to easily find something entertaining to do with Ollie).

But, those are my plans, at least as to what might help gain our sons some sort of stability, some sort of scheduling, but also make my life easier as I try to maneuver this new world of having three sons, a lively dog, managing our home, homeschooling, and being a good wife and partner to an amazing husband. Some of it might work, some of it might not. But, the beauty of homeschooling, the beauty of adding a curve ball to our routine, is that we get to try new things, and we get to explore these new ventures as a family. God planned our family, we didn’t, and it’s all been amazing exploring His plan for us as a growing family. We trust in Him to help guide us, because no matter how much organizing I do, there’s no way to plan for it all. I just pray that what I have put together will help make things a tad bit easier on me, the husband, the boys, and those coming to help us for the month. Either way, everything is in God’s hands, and that puts my heart and mind at ease.

Find Me a Good Book!

What homeschooling family doesn’t love to gather ’round and snuggle down with a good book? Every family I have come across, especially ours, loves the family reading hour. For us, evening worship time is our best time to relax with an uplifting story. Loving good books is certainly not limited to homeschoolers! When I was growing up, I remember many cozy evenings gathered in the living room, listening to Mom read. It is one of my most cherished family memories.

In our home, we have chosen to follow the counsel given us in Philippians 4:8…

Whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

With that in mind, we have an easier time choosing books than we used to. If we have a question about a book, if it first passes the “Is it true?” question, then that helps us right away to know if it should stay in our stack. Not all true books are uplifting, though, so we have to judge the story by the other criteria as well. Noble, of good report, praiseworthy…all of these are goals for reading material that will help to put good thoughts into our minds.

Our family is not the authority on good books, but because we have read so many wonderful stories, I thought it might be nice to share some of our all-time favorites, so that you may expand your libraries or remember an old favorite that we also enjoyed.

Here are some of the stories we have enjoyed that we have given ten thumbs up! These are listed in no particular order.

(When I share a source, it’s just one place where you can get these books, not necessarily the best. I only linked sites that either had several of the series, or that had reviews and a description of the books for you to see. I normally buy books off of amazon.com if I can, just because it’s easy, and we get free shipping. But, I normally look around for the best price. The links I provided are not always the best price. We get some books on Kindle, and listen to many on audio.)

Paula the Waldensian, by Eva Lecomte, available here. This is my husband’s favorite. It is a wonderful story of a young girl who ends up witnessing for her faith within her extended family after her father dies. Her character is what makes this book so inviting. Good for everyone, all ages. Our boys liked it. I think a girl would really enjoy it.

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Tip Lewis and His Lamp, by Pansy,  available here. This is the one book on this list that we read upon recommendation of someone that I trust, and then I found out that it is maybe fictional. I don’t put this in the category of most fiction, and maybe I’m just rationalizing things, but I still put this book up among our recommended ones. It really has deep themes and comes from the point of view of a young boy-turning-youth who struggles with anger, conversion, and his walk with the Lord. We read it every couple of years, and it is very good for contrasting the eternal realities from the trivial things we commonly focus on.

Dare to Stand Alone, by Bradley Booth, available here. This book will amaze you! It is the story of a young man (18 yrs old) who stands for Jesus in the Russian army, amidst pressures to conform. If you want to see how God honors those who honor Him, read this book! Every youth should read this one!

Front Cover

The Seventh-Day Ox, by Bradley Booth, Kindle version here. This is another one of how God shows His power. A Russian pastor is imprisoned for his faith, and God uses him as a witness, and also uses an ox to teach about the Sabbath. This book does relate how the man was made to suffer beatings, so keep that in mind before you hand it over to your child. It’s good to read these kinds together so that you may discuss it as a family. The book does not overly focus on this, but it is just something to keep in mind.

The Unlikliest Hero, Desmond Doss, available under a different title here. Almost everyone has now heard of the story of Desmond Doss. If not, Desmond was a soldier who served as a medic during WWII, where he held to his convictions on the Sabbath and not carrying a weapon. This is a good book that tells about his life, as told by his second wife, Frances. It’s good to hear about real heroes.

Jungle Doctor Series (19 in all), by Paul White, full set available here. (This series is much cheaper if you buy it through Library and Ed.; see below) We really love this set. You can buy them one at a time off amazon.com or similar, or get the whole set for a good discount. Paul White was a medical missionary (non-SDA) who worked in Africa in the 1960s. He shares insight into the culture and how to reach the local people. That aside, these books are just plain FUN! We laugh so much, but learn so much at the same time! Don’t let the funny covers fool you — this series has depth. These books are different than any I’ve read before, and it takes a little bit to understand them, but then you’ll be hooked! The doctor takes a medical diagnosis and describes it in the beginning of the book. Each book focuses on one particular tropical disease, like malaria. Then, through the story you begin to understand much more about the disease by seeing how it affects people. Also woven into the story line (and these books are taken from his experiences in clinical practice) is a moral/spiritual lesson that is really impressive. The characters in the books learn through their own mistakes/trials lessons that help them to see God’s character more clearly. I highly recommend these books.

Little House on the Prairie Series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Everyone knows about the Little House books, and they are classics! Our favorite is probably Farmer Boy, as we have a household of boys, but we really enjoyed them all. There is just something within us all that resonates with the simple life that these books portray.

One Miracle After Another, by Pavel Goia, available here. If you have not read this book, GET IT! If you want to see how God answers prayer, read this book! You will be amazed and awed at our wonderful God! And you will be challenged to trust Him more as you see how one man had his faith rewarded over and over again! This book will engage all ages, not just older folks!  (The very first chapter mentions a scene that he witnessed that you may want to skim over and skip if you think your kids aren’t ready for it. It’s not inappropriate, just more mature.)

One Miracle After Another

Guide’s Greatest Series, various authors, available here and amazon.com. These books contain short stories that are really great for a short worship. They are easy reading in my opinion, so if your kids are just getting into chapter books, these would be a good choice. There are so many to choose from — angel stories, mission stories, animal stories, rescue, Christmas, escape from crime, and just many topics! Our kids love them! We don’t currently read the Guide, but these are classic stories from the early years.

Christian Heroes, Then and Now Series, by Janet and Geoff Benge (favorites within this series are Nate Saint, Jim Eliot, Amy Carmichael, and Jacob DeShazer), available here on YWAM website. The list of famous Christians in this series is quite impressive, and these are kid-friendly biographies that make good read-alouds. These also are good for kids who enjoy chapter books, although I consider them to be more advanced. These are probably good for fifth- to eighth-graders, I’d say, but that’s just judging from my own boys, who don’t whip through books in one night. We sometimes listen to these on an audiobook, because many of the books have been made into audio format. This helps us on long car trips, or just while running around town, to learn some history. I don’t know if it’s just me, but once I listen to or read a bunch of these, I start getting bored with the style of writing in them. That’s not saying they are boring to listen to per se, but I have a hard time, because the format is similar in many of the books, and I find that I drift off mentally toward the final chapters in some. The solution is to pick stories that you know have an exciting ending, if you know anything about the lives of the people! My kids do enjoy these books, and we have read many.

A Song for Your Honor, by Kay Evans, available here. We are just finishing up with this one! I bought the book after reading the description, and I believe this book addresses a fear many homeschoolers have — that of someone reporting them to the authorities. I sped through this book myself; then we sat down to read it as a family. My family didn’t want me to stop, but that happens when you get a good book! I will say that this story has excitement and adventure, but the element that makes it stand out for me is the solid faith and closeness that this family demonstrated through their heavy trials. This book is one that I thoroughly recommend, as does my whole family. Be prepared to see God’s hand in the affairs of the fatherless and widows.

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Anything by Norma Youngburg — Singer on the Sand, Jungle Thorn, Miracle on the Mountain, Nyla and the White Crocodile, Taught by a Tiger,  available here. All are missionary stories appropriate for all ages. These are especially interesting for Primary aged children, but, honestly, we all love these stories!

Front Cover

Evidence Not Seen, by Darlene Deibler Rose, available here.

Peace Child, by Don Richardson, available here. *Warning!* This book is rather graphic in the first few chapters, and I would only recommend this as a read-together book for older children, as it describes how a cannibalistic tribe operated before learning about Christianity. But, it is an excellent example of how one missionary related to his local culture group.

Robby the Robin, by Velma Craven Meyer, available here. A wonderful story about a friendship between a baby robin and his adopted family. We really love this book!

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The Sam Campbell books, available here as well as many other places, used or new. These are classic stories of a naturalist who lives in the North Woods and befriends all kinds of wild animals. Funny and endearing stories that everyone loves! I probably got ours from the ABC, but you can find many used copies. Interestingly, I’ve heard there are an “Adventistized” set, and a standard set. From what I’ve heard, maybe the SDA-ized set skips references to smoking and coffee. I don’t know how to verify this, but it’s just what I’ve heard in the homeschooling circles.

A Thousand Shall Fall, by Susi Hasel Mundi, available here. This is a very good book, taken from WWII, about a Adventist father who was drafted to serve in the German army. He stayed true to his convictions on the Sabbath and would not kill nor carry a gun. God tremendously blessed him and his family for their faith. We listened to this on the audio CD set available at the ABC. It is a real page-turner, and very inspirational! (There are references to where women and girls were raped by the enemy soldiers, stated matter-of-factly, and, again, demonstrating how God preserved His faithful.)

The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom, available here in many formats. We listened to the Audible audiobook of this, and I highly recommend it — highly! This is one of those books that will move you to tears and challenge your faith, as you see a family truly seeking to follow God, no matter the cost. And, it did cost them dearly. If you don’t know the story, it is about a family from Holland who hid Jews in their home during WWII, and ultimately got caught and put into concentration camps. The story follows Corrie and her sister, Betsy. This is heavy material, but we listened as a family and discussed everything together, and I totally believe that it is appropriate for children above maybe 10, if you feel they are prepared to handle the stark realities of war.

No Heil Hitler, by Paul Cieslar, available at the ABC. Here is a review from the Adventist Review. This is another WWII era book, about a boy from Poland and his family’s faith. As with all books in this was era, I recommend parental reading of this book together, so you can discuss questions your child may have. We did enjoy this one as well.

Ten Peas in a Pod, available here. This is an excellent book about a family some years ago, who lived a very unusual life of traveling around the country, singing, preaching, and witnessing as a family. This book really will inspire you to read and memorize scripture more faithfully, as the children in this family were encouraged to memorize large portions of the Bible. This is a very good book.

Brother Andrew — God’s Smuggler, available here. This is another must-read! Brother Andrew risked his life time and time again to get the Bible into countries where it was illegal. His faith, and God’s provision for him, is amazing!

Mary Jones and Her Bible, available for free PDF download heremany versions available here. We printed and read the PDF from Temkit, so I’m not sure which book on amazon.com is the official version, but I’d say that they all would be inspiring to read. This book tells the story of a Welsh girl who saved and saved until she could get enough money to buy a Bible in her language, which was a very rare thing in those days. It also tells about how her life was changed after having obtained it. This is an old story, but well-worth the time to read it!

Tiger and Tom/The King’s Daughter, available here, and if you scroll down, you will see more in the Character Classics Series, which are all excellent. These are written toward boys and girls, respectfully, but both books contain excellent older stories that I think are great for boys and girls both.

The Miller Series, available here. This series is about a sweet Mennonite family, and each story has a character or moral lesson. I find that these simple stories are refreshing.

There are almost endless places to find good books! So, me listing a few here is just a starting point. I just wanted to mention a few that maybe some people have not heard of. A quick Google search will bring rewarding results, if you just know where to get started.

Some sources:

Library and Educational Services — If you are not aware of this resource,you might want to check into it. This site offers reduced-priced books to libraries, schools, and educators. You have to create an account, and choose homeschool as your category, then you may browse the catalog. Particularly complete sets of books are much cheaper here than most places I’ve seen for new books. The Blue Bible Story books, and My Bible Friends, Jungle Doctor series, Sam Campbell, and many others are offered at very good prices. They also have audio CDs.

Temkit — This is a website with tons of treasures! You could let you child log onto it and they could stay busy for hours (not that you’re going to let them) but would find everything uplifting. This site has many PDF stories and old classic reprints that you can read. It is conservative Adventist. We have find many gems here.

Stories for Childrenwebsite. This site has a ton of stories that are old classics with moral lessons. Very good stories here.

Rod and Staff/Milestone books — storybooks here  The books you find here are very rural oriented and maybe somewhat old-fashioned. Maybe that’s why I like them. There are many to choose from for all ages, and the websites are organized by age to make it easier to navigate.

And I almost forgot to mention the obvious places. The Adventist Book Center, LMN Recources, Orion Publishing, and I’m sure many others, have wonderful selections of books to read!

So…with so many to choose from, the only problem now is where to begin! Grab a good book and get started!

A Love of Reading

My children are finally discovering for themselves, at ages 14 and 11, the pleasure of losing themselves in a book. I still read a novel to them at bedtime, as it’s a great family bonding activity, and we still have audio books for the car, but along the way I have also invested in books that peak their interests. TLC has all the books and all the series of 39 Clues, and has recently started to read his own way through them (we’ve previously read through them and listened to them a number of times). It’s such a joy and privilege for me to watch him discover the joy of reading for himself. It’s a new experience for me to need to tell him to put the book away for sleeping, chores, conversation, etc., but I really like it.

I’m an avid reader. Since the earliest I can remember, I have always had my nose in a book. My mom was constantly trying to get me out of my books to participate in activities. To be perfectly honest, I don’t really understand how people cannot enjoy reading; it’s one of my greatest pleasures and passions. I love getting lost in someone else’s story. I used to despair that my children struggled to learn how to read — they both learned how to read late, ages 8 and 9 — yet both have developed a love of books and stories. It turned out they both have reading difficulties, likely dyslexia. In my concern, I shared my love of reading with them. Along the way, I’ve learned it’s not essential for our children to actually read for themselves, they can develop a love of reading and books through us. I am convinced that if I had pushed them to read for reading’s sake earlier, they would not now be discovering the joy of reading for themselves.

Since they were very young, I have read aloud to them, and not just childhood books like Dr. Seuss. (Though there were plenty of those!! They are very fun!) We read the Chronicles of Narnia when they were just 7 and ;, there are many other novels suitable to children. In addition to reading aloud to them, I also invested in audio books, often borrowing them from the library. We traveled the world and explored lives while driving around the city or on road trips to grandparents and/or friends. We have read classics, modern literature, novels, true stories, fictional recreations based on history/Biblical stories, and more. We’ve read and listened to books that were my interests, as well as books of their choosing. We’ve come across books none of us enjoyed, and we’ve been pleasantly surprised with books we came to love unexpectedly.

I want to encourage you if you have a late reader. Your children can still discover a love of reading; you can give it to them with patience, determination, and a little creativity. I’ve had my children tell me they don’t like books, and I can remind them they do, just maybe not reading for themselves yet. They love the stories books bring them! There is more than one way to enjoy books. I’m already seeing the fruits of that knowledge. They know they can listen to a book, they know they can read one. They’ve discovered a joy of books as a family activity, and, now, finally, are discovering the pleasure of reading for themselves.

Organizing our Days: Cursive Class

This year we have been focusing on language in our home school, as I understand that to be the foundation of all learning. I have three ages at home, and my desire is to teach in a style that we can all learn together instead of me teaching three separate children at different points in the day. Cursive class is my effort to teach reading and writing to my children as a group, all being at different stages of this skill.

My oldest started reading at a young age of 5 and a half. He is very self-driven and, although we worked on it some together, he picked it up quickly with little instruction. His first reader was the Bible! That was his great motivation because he had his own Bible and enjoyed looking up the Bible verses for Daddy to read during family worship, and soon he had the books of the Bible memorized. Next he wanted to read the verses himself! He had taught himself to sight-read Genesis and Deuteronomy and Matthew and Revelation, etc. I moved forward with teaching him to read by sight words from the Bible and our nature studies, but as my son grew older I noticed he wouldn’t sound out bigger words he didn’t know?!

When we discovered Spell to Write and Read over a year ago, I was so excited! I loved the idea of teaching the phonograms to my children, and I was already learning too! This process of teaching my children to read by “thinking to spell” was revolutionary to me. I dedicated time to studying the phonograms and method of teaching myself before I finally dove in to what we now call “Cursive Class” in our home.

I chose to teach my children cursive as they learned to “spell to read and write” for multiple reasons which I won’t go into detail in this post. Basically, my oldest who’d been writing for some time seemed to not be progressing with his handwriting skills, and often was still struggling with letter facing and progression. My younger son is a different learner, and I knew he needed something to aide him in his letter development. So, we switched to writing everything in cursive, even me. That was almost a year ago and I haven’t looked back! It truly is faster for my own purposes, and the children have no problem understanding which way a letter faces or how it develops as they write out their letters and words. Plus, their handwriting is developing so beautiful!

Cursive is our first sit-down class of the school day, because our minds are fresh after our morning routine. All three of my children participate, and we have prayer for school and dive in. I recently purchased some tracing cards for my younger two to make class more multi sensory for them.

My oldest has a cursive journal he brings out during this time, and we go through our single letter phonograms as a group. Sometimes I’ll have my youngest, who’s 4, hold up the flashcards, and I’ll call them out as she echoes the sounds each letter makes. My oldest says the sounds and writes out the phonograms in cursive in his journal. My middle child traces the letters as he also says the sounds each phonogram makes. This is such a simple exercise and takes approximately 15 minutes start to finish, but it has been the sole thing to improve handwriting and phonogram retention in my home so far. My oldest is already spelling better, and he’s sounding out those bigger words he doesn’t know! So, it accomplished my goals with him. We go on later in the morning to work on his spelling lists, just the two of us.

This class has another purpose behind it for my younger two children. It’s not a forced repertoire to make them learn to read, but very natural and fun, so as they desire to pick up God’s Word themselves and have their own reading experience, they too will have the foundations to start down that path of greater understanding and application.

My middle child is 6 and has recently expressed interest in learning to read on his own. I encouraged him to learn his letter sounds (phonograms), and that reading will happen after he develops that skill first. He enthusiastically chimes in during cursive. I know he will be a slower learner when it comes to reading on his own, but this method is so strong that he will progress quickly when he’s ready, and I’m excited for his experience in accomplishing his goal.

My youngest is exposed daily to reading through our frequent read alouds as well as participating in cursive with her brothers. She is eager to “teach” (with me) and quiz her big brothers on their letters. Repeated exposure is one of the biggest themes I have gathered from true education methods. It is how Jesus taught the multitudes as well as his own disciples during their short time together on earth.

So, I hope my 15 minutes of Cursive Class inspires you to take small snippets of your day to regularly expose your children to the foundations of reading, which is the foundation of all learning.

Blessings,
Allison

Organizing Our Days: Inside Our Read Aloud Basket

Last month I wrote about the part-reading plays in our homeschool. This month, I am excited to share the inside scoop on what we call our Read Aloud Basket. It’s basically a drop box for our read aloud subjects which I keep centrally located on our dining room buffet. We often read at the table while coloring or on the couch, but we have also grabbed a book to read on the trampoline outside, or in the car while running errands (my oldest reads during those times).
My Read Aloud Basket is similar to what many have coined a Morning Basket, but we use ours throughout the day. It’s a place to store our subjects that are important to me and that we cover collectively as a family.

That being said, it’s important to me to regularly expose my children to poetry, and this is the first book I’ll cover in our basket. I’ve grown to love the challenge reading poetry requires. Our ears and minds learn to hear what the author is saying, and we have enjoyed trying to express ourselves through rhymes. The poems we are currently enjoying are Lessons from Nature: Poems for Boys and Girls, by John Bunyan, the same author as Pilgrims Progress. We read one or two at the dinner table, after a meal, while waiting for the last child to finish eating.

Another table reader we often read during breakfast is The Family Book of Manners, by Hermine Hartley (every meal we have some that take longer than others and I like to stay seated til everyone’s done). This book is great fun, and we practice our manners right there at the table. It’s a great way to start our days with our best foot forward before we ever leave the breakfast table.

Another important topic I like to cover together is health. There are so many resources for health, and currently we are reading the First Book in Physiology and Hygiene, by J.H. Kellogg. It contains short lessons with questions to answer, and we do this while dinner is heating up, along with review our Scripture verses or character goals that we’ve chosen with our character trait of the week.

I keep our family prayer journal in our Read Aloud Basket along with our family Bible lessons we use each morning for family worship. It’s a simple spiral bound notebook and we also write our goals for the week in there to pray over each day. We use the family Bible lessons for evening worship in review. I also keep an Uncle Arthur’s Bible Stories book to read sometime during the week with my little ones as it helps cement our Bible lesson each week for them.

A favorite in our Read Aloud Basket is our chapter books! These mostly consist of missionary stories, but at present we are rereading Stories of the Pilgrims, by Margaret B. Pumphrey. We usually have one going, but we currently have a second chapter book that we read only when Daddy is available. These chapter books we read in the evening after everyone is ready for bed and evening chores are done. We have evening worship and finish our day with as many chapters as we can squeeze in before lights out!

Other books I’ve thrown in our Read Aloud Basket but that we don’t cover daily include What We Believe for Kids, by Jerry D. Thomas, and Guide’s Greatest Sabbath Stories or Sabbath Readings for the Home. These are books we enjoy for early Friday evenings as we welcome the Sabbath.

Lastly, I want to share my family worship binder which I keep in our Read Aloud Basket to help me stay on track throughout the day…

It’s a simple one-inch, three-ring binder with dividers in it for our worship topics. The topics consist of scheduling (our daily time log), Scriptures (a list of our quarterly memory verses), character (our Character First lesson), hymns/songs, and resources (loose papers I want to read the children)/future reading List. This binder is so essential to keeping me together and helping our day start right and stay on track. I can’t emphasize enough how important a schedule and family worship are to the success of our day.

Reading aloud has become a big success in covering topics that were not otherwise regularly implemented in our home. I hope this peek into how our Read Aloud Basket weaves important subjects throughout our day has inspired you. I’d love to hear about the subjects that are important to your family and how you tackle them collectively, whether through reading or another venue.

Blessings, Allison