books and games

After our first year of homeschooling, I had a lot of questions. I was still convinced that homeschooling was the right course for our family, but we had problems and I needed answers. One of the challenges I faced was reading to my children. We would get up and get ready for the day and then jump into our lessons. I would work with my kids individually, but I never read to all of my children consistently the whole year. Sadly, my then five-year-old, who was just learning to read, spent most of the year reading phonics books and looking at pictures in books she couldn’t read.

I struggled during the whole first year trying to figure out how to make reading to my children a priority, but it was constantly getting pushed to the back burner and I was frustrated on a regular basis. I truly felt that reading high-quality books to my children was an essential part of their education and I was failing miserably!

The summer after our first year I came upon a Homeschooling 101 course taught by ToriAnn Perkey from Homeschool to Homeschool and decided to go for it. I listened to all of the podcasts and worked through the worksheets and came away with some great information and answers to many of my questions. But, perhaps the most valuable thing I took away from the course was something she called “couch time”. This was a time each day that Mrs. Perkey would sit down with her children and they would read and explore together. It was a time she used to share with her children things she was passionate about.

I thought this was a cool idea and something I hadn’t even considered. I sat down and made a list of my priorities and decided what I wanted to share with my kids. Of course, the first thing on my list was reading good literature. Another priority for me was history, but after suffering through a really rough history curriculum my kids were not excited to “learn history”. Instead, I decided to help them fall in love with history through stories. With these two ideas, I decided that we would start our morning with a devotional and then go right into reading from our book of choice followed by reading, watching, or telling a story from history.

Our first day of school, after the summer ended, started with this awesome routine and we’ve been doing it ever since. What started out as 20 minutes or so of reading stories has turned into a full hour or more of reading, discussing, playing games, and counseling as a family. We read poetry, work through math story problems, learn sign language, play storytelling and math games, and, let’s be real, we deal with meltdowns because someone doesn’t get to sit where they want or someone else is being disruptive. The most important part though is that for an hour or more each morning my children gather in our family room to feast on an all you can eat Brain Buffet.

Over the course of our morning Brain Buffet, we have discovered and rediscovered some amazing books and resources upon which to feast. In the coming posts, I will share some of those resources with you. Until then, take a minute to determine your priorities and how you can organize a time to share them with your children. You will come to cherish the time spent feasting in the family room.