Week 2 of our homeschool year is underway! This week comes with lots of things to do on the calendar – dental checkups, vet visits, house designing, play dates, chiropractic adjustments, and more – but one of my greatest joys in homeschooling is the ability to learn on the go. Yesterday both of the big kids were scheduled for their dental cleaning and exam in the middle of the day. (Six-months-ago-Me didn’t know what she was doing!!) No problem though! We got up and hopped to it so we could get the bulk of our lessons out of the way before we had to get going, then we packed some books to go.
During the current crisis, waiting happens in the car, but even before all the changes, we were known to pack a bag full of books to make the waiting easier. When I was pregnant with Lou Lou, I had an appointment for an ultrasound at a new facility and we waited for over an hour. But Mama came prepared with lots of story books and coloring books. The waiting room was full of families to the point I had my kids sit on the floor to make more room for other expecting moms and dads to have the chairs. I started reading a new Dr. Seuss book to the kiddos in what I thought was a quiet, but entertaining, voice. This particular book was left unfinished as it was found in Dr. Seuss’s things after his death, so when we turned the last page to find that the story is incomplete, we were bewildered! Several people in the waiting room spoke out in shock that we would never know what pet we should get! I was surprised to find that nearly everyone, child and adult alike, was listening to me read this book aloud! I was initially quite embarrassed to find myself the unexpected center of attention, but the humor of the situation quickly took over and I was able to have a fun conversation with this group of strangers about this little kids’ book. Oh the joys of sharing a book with friends – or strangers.
I have always loved the portability of books. Any lover of books probably has a book stashed in the car, by the bed, next to a favorite chair, and maybe even in the bathroom (don’t judge). So while homeschooling on the go, I tend to rely on books. They are great sources of information and entertainment, often at the same time. Even though they can’t quite read on their own yet, the kiddos still love to bring a book to look at on long rides, often making up their own stories to go along with the pictures. This helps them develop their language skills, vocabulary, and imagination. Seek and find books improve their attention to detail. Coloring books work on fine motor skills. And then you have the vast smorgasbord of children’s non-fiction that is available these days. Some of them can be quite dry, and so are best taken in small chunks, flipping through the pages and spending time on ones that pique the child’s interest. Others read as well as a story book, capturing and maintaining the audience throughout.
The real struggle is not finding books, or even finding good books, but choosing which ones are the right fit for your family. A good book will find itself picked off the shelf frequently, its pages often wrinkled or slightly torn, its cover and binding well worn. How in the world are you supposed to determine which books will be so well received without breaking the bank buying boxes of books that may or may not make it to the most-loved pile?! Enter one of the most wonderful institutions in our world – the library! Seriously, whoever came up with the idea of a public library certainly changed the course of history. You may think I’m exaggerating, but the availability of thousands of books to the public for FREE is an amazing blessing and privilege. There is no way I could afford or find room to store the number of books my kids would go through if we kept every book we read. It has become part of my routine each week, along with paying bills, meal planning, and ordering our groceries, to reserve our books for the following week. (In case you didn’t know, most libraries have an online catalog so you can search for books and reserve them through their site. I have also found that you can make and save lists of books – super handy if you plan to teach the same topics again next year!) The lovely folks at our local library branch collect them all and have them ready for us to pick up in just a couple of days. It’s a beautiful thing!! And as if the local library sharing their collection with us wasn’t wonderful enough, then you find out about inter-library loan. Now the libraries across the county are sharing their books with my library to share with me!! I’m sure y’all think I’m crazy by now, but without a doubt, regular use of our library has changed our lives for the better.
Sharing is caring. We’ve all heard the phrase. We use it to remind kids (and adults) that it’s important to share what we have so people know we love and care for them. There is some controversy regarding how to teach kids to share. Some folks think kids should always share, no matter what. It is the policy at many childcare institutions to enforce sharing anytime a dispute arises between kids. We do this with our own children sometimes as well. We hear arguing from down the hall, one child whining, and we idly call out, “Johnny, share with your sister.” and consider the matter resolved. Others are of the opinion that this method of forced sharing is unrealistic and causes more problems. They think sharing should be optional and depend on the item, person, and situation. There are pros and cons to both sides of course, but I tend to lean toward the latter. I want my kids to understand they don’t have to share their favorite toy if they don’t want to. However, I also try to teach them that sharing is one way of showing someone that you care for them. Requiring someone to share all the time takes away the caring part, and that’s the whole point. When we share willingly, it is because we see a need or want and desire to fulfill it. What greater way to show love for someone than to give of what we have to fulfill their needs!! That demonstration of love and concern is in the choice to share more than the item itself. So do I make my children share? No, not always. Some of their things are “special” and no one else is allowed to play with them. Others of their belongings are only shared with certain stipulations. But more often than not, they choose to share because it is kind. And they are kind little humans that want to show love to those around them.
So thank God for libraries and people who share and sweet little children we could all learn a lesson from. Sharing is caring people! Go share some love today 🙂