Summer is a great time to encourage reading!

Teaching Tip:

Summer is a great time to encourage reading!

While it is important to take time off during the school year, summer is a great time to encourage reading. The long, lazy days of summer just beg for you to curl up with an ice cold glass of lemonade or iced tea and a book!

How can you encourage your children to read this summer?

One way to encourage your children to read this summer is by example. If you read this summer, and your children see you reading, they will be encouraged to read! One way we have done this at our house is to set aside time as a family to read.

Have a family “reading time.”

Last summer, we set aside 30 minutes in the evenings after dinner as family “reading time.” We gathered together in our living room with our individual books and read silently. We set the timer, and when it rang… we were done. At the end of reading time, sometimes a few family members shared something about what they’d read. But mostly, we just read. We enjoyed this time so much as a family that we carried it into our school year!

These days we steadily get to reading time about 4-5 nights a week. Sometimes the boys don’t want to take time out of their busy schedules to read. Yet, when we do take time to read, all of us seem to end up enjoying it. My husband and I really look forward to reading time. I finished several books this year I never would have found time to read had it not been for reading time!

What types of books will tempt your children to read this summer?

Summer seems to be a time for a different kind of reading. If you’ve ever walked through a book store in the summer, you will notice tables of books labeled “beach reads.” These are books that are easy to read on a beach or outdoors somewhere. They often are absorbing books you can take breaks from, return to, and easily be caught up in again. Books like this also work well for the family “reading time” I described above. Sometimes “beach reads” have a lighter, more carefree feel to them. Other times they have a brisk and thrilling pace. Overall, they are enjoyable, easy to read, and have simpler phrasing and diction. They are books that are just less work to read.

Series books work well for summer reading.

Summer can be a great time for series books. Series books often have the “beach read” feel. They have simpler phrasing and diction, have similar plots, follow a definite pattern, and require much less work to read because you already know the characters. Plus, if your child gets invested in a series, he/she can just keep on reading from one book to the next. Of course, not all series books are good. Many are not. So, you’ll have to use discernment to discover the series books that are acceptable for your family.

Take time to cultivate the habit of summer reading.

Time spent cultivating the habit of summer reading is time well spent. We’ve discovered our children curled up reading on the couch, reading in their beds, reading in the bath, and reading late at night. They started a book during “reading time” and just had to know what happened next! Try a family reading time and see what you think. Who knows, you may find yourself burning the midnight oil to find out what happens next in your book too!


Train Your Children During Extended Break Time!

Teaching Tip

How can you use your break time to train your children?

Are you taking some sort extended break time? If so, it is a good idea to think of this time as a training period for your children. You can use your time to train your children in habits that will help them have a better school year. Over the summer, I’ll share some possible training and scheduling tips to work on during this less scheduled season. These tips are designed to help your school year run more smoothly.

How can you use your summer to train your little ones?

My first tip is to spend time thinking of any little ones you may have in your home. Begin pondering ways that they can be directed during the day, so they are not continually underfoot! When our boys were younger, we had our older boys take a turn playing with our two younger ones. This equated to my oldest son having a 30 minute playtime with each of his two youngest siblings separately during the day. My second oldest son also had individual 30 minute playtimes with each of his two younger siblings each day.

What are the benefits of summer playtimes?

We kept the playtime routine in the summer too, and fine-tuned it so my boys knew what was allowed. This routine made the transition to “school” playtimes very easy! It also helped my older sons to be less self-centered with their time during the summer! Plus, it only took an hour out of each of my older sons’ days. My little ones really looked forward to their playtimes with the big boys.

How do “playtimes” transition to more mature “together time?”

As our sons have gotten older, our third son now has a playtime daily with his younger brother. Our older sons still do “playtimes” with their younger brothers, but the “playtimes” have matured. For “playtimes” now, the boys play basketball at the park, shoot nerf-guns outside, and play catch in the backyard. They go on bike rides, play X-Wing at the coffee shop, and paint models while listening to audio books. The boys draw and create together, swim, and film their own movies. These days the “playtimes” rotate to accommodate our older sons’ busy schedules. Try establishing a playtime routine with your little ones, and see what you think! We’ve seen the relationships they build last into adulthood.



How much “together time” is beneficial?

Teaching Tip: 

How much “together time” is beneficial?

In a previous teaching tip, I mentioned how we can always be assured of plenty of “together time” in a homeschooling setting! One thing to weigh is how much “together time” is truly beneficial? Often as homeschool teachers, we default into thinking that anything done together is better. Often we think that knowledge shared in a group is better, because it is shared.

How do you learn best?

Think through the way that you learn best. Would you say that the “group experience” is the only way or the best way for you to learn? I know for me this isn’t necessarily true.

Be specific in choosing which experiences are shared.

This is why it is important to be specific in choosing which experiences are shared and which ones are individual. Sometimes experiences are shared only between teacher and one student.

What kind of experiences are best done one-on-one?

Personal/private sharing is best done one-on-one. Difficult subjects are best done one-on-one. Subjects that require concentrated attention are best done with few interruptions.

Make a conscious choice about how to handle each subject.

Try making a conscious choice about which subjects are best as a group experience and which subjects are best one-on-one. This specific choosing will make each subject more meaningful. It will also help each subject be better suited to your students’ needs! Try make conscious choices today, and see if your school day goes more smoothly!


Christmas is a time for family!

Teaching Tip: 

Christmas is a time for family, as we gather together to celebrate Christ’s birth.

At Christmas, it is easy to get consumed and overwhelmed with the busyness of the season. Working, homeschooling, and preparing for the holiday season can take a lot of energy. At our house, the joy of having a large, extended family means we get to celebrate Christmas for awhile! At times, it seems like we can hardly fit in everything. Our boys have 26 first cousins if that gives you any idea of how big our extended family is! Yet, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

A faith-filled family is a blessing from the Lord.

A large, faith-filled family is a blessing from the Lord. Family stands together when life is hard. We encourage one another when times are tough and celebrate when times are good. Family prays for one another and helps without expecting anything in return. A close, faith-filled family is a reflection of Christ’s love.

The church stands ready to be your faith-filled family.

Whether you have the gift of a close, faith-filled family or not, the church stands ready to fulfill that role. In this season of Christ’s birth, the church is a reflection of Christ’s love.

God is your gracious, loving Father.

Your Father in heaven is your gracious, loving Father. As such, He was willing to send His precious Son to earth to save you and me from eternal destruction. This Christmas, know that you are loved by the Creator of this world. As the angels announced the birth of His Son on earth, so you can sing in your Spirit knowing God sent His Son for you!

If you are a Christian, you are part of a heavenly family.

This Christmas season, know that you are part of a heavenly family. God, your Father, loves you. Jesus, His only Son, left the splendors of heaven to live among us. He chose to die for you and for me as payment for our sins. One day, we will join Him in heaven. You and I are linked with heaven.

Remember the meaning of Christ’s birth.

In the busyness of the season, remember the meaning of Christ’s birth. Remember why He came to earth, and what purpose He fulfilled. Then, join me in thanking God that you are a member of His family. There is no better family we can be part of and be given. Christmas is truly a time for family!

In Christ,


Show love to your children this Christmas season!

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

Show love to your children this Christmas season!

Let your children feel and see and be quite sure that you love them. We do not suggest endearments in public, which the young folk cannot always abide. But, dear mother, take your big schoolgirl in your arms just once in the holidays, and let her have a good talk, all to your two selves; it will be to her like a meal to a hungry man. For the youths and maidens — remember, they would sell their souls for love; they do it too, and that is the reason of many of the ruined lives we sigh over.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 5, p. 117)