Why You Should Become a Reader and How to Start

 

 

Why you should become a reader:

Picture waking up on a Sunday morning, drinking your coffee, and basking in the first morning rays of sun that are beaming through your window while you are immersed in your favorite book. That is my idea of a perfect morning. Peaceful, quiet, serene, and I’m lost in an entire other world or somebody else’s life in an amazing book. Are you convinced that you should start reading again yet? If you are skip down to the How to Start, if not, keep reading.

What is your favorite movie? I’m going to go with an easy one that is pretty common and most people know Pride and Prejudice, did you enjoy the 2 hours you spent watching that movie? Now imagine being able to stretch that experience out to a whole morning or a whole afternoon. You can stop and put the book down for a minute when you want to reflect on how Elizabeth is a much better sister than I am because I would rebuke Lydia much harsher than Elizabeth did. You can become part of the story as you are reading it more than just watching the movie and being shown exactly what each character looks like, sounds like, and moves. When you read, you create this images yourself. Convinced yet?

How about this, we are being bombarded by fake news, exaggerated news, or news that is 100% true but is obviously just trying to get a rise out of a certain group of people. Why do you think they are so successful at creating this absurd news using sound bites and memes that get thousands or millions of views and shares? We don’t read! As a society we seem to have fallen in love with the media, the television, and Hollywood. I firmly believe we would be in a much better state as a country if instead of the media, we fell in love with books! It is much more difficult to confuse a person on how the economy works who is familiar with the writings of Milton Friedman, Marx, Keynes, or Mill. If nothing else, they will know how to think critically on the current information they are given instead of letting the news reporter get them riled up about their latest prediction. Being an avid reader will help you to be a critical thinker and be able to decipher between fake news and real news. 

Children will do as you do, not as you say. This is one of the biggest motivators for me to read every night instead of watching TV or browsing Facebook (full disclosure, I sometimes indulge in those things when my kids aren’t watching). However, in the evenings, after the kids go to bed I try to make it appoint to read for another hour until they are asleep. I also read first thing in the morning (this is when I try to do my serious reading), so to my kids they see that reading is important and reading is fun. If you want to raise intelligent children, teach them to love reading, and be their example. ts8var4y570e402b6011d466172928

Reading will help you advance in your career. As you move up on the career ladder, you will inevitably need to read more and understand what you are reading. You may even need to explain it to your coworkers, an outside investor, or your boss. Perhaps Dr. Seuss explained this best: “The more that you read, the more things you will know, the more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”. 

 

How To Start

Turn Off the TV, I wrote a blog earlier on How to turn off the TVif you want some tips. If you make a conscious effort to keep the TV off, it will make it easier to fill the time with a good book.

Start SmallIf it has been a few years since you have done some serious reading, don’t start with with works of Aristotle. Save that for a few months or even a year down the road when you are used to reading the more advanced works of literature. 

Listen to Audible instead of the radio. This was actually a very simple change that I made that helped me fall in love with the written word again. I listen to Audible when I am in the car or at home doing mindless tasks. My husband has a long commute for work every day and he listens to the books as well. Then we get to discuss the books in the evening. 

Start with a genre you love.  Check out Goodreads for a list of recommended books in a genre that you find interesting.

Start or join a bookclub. Bookclub night with friends is an awesome bonding experience and it will help keep you on track to get a book finished. Gather up a group of your friends, coordinate with some wine and cheese and let the fun begin! You can also find local book clubs to join online!img_8594

If you don’t like the book, you don’t have to finish itwithin reason. I would be cautious not make a habit of getting 100 pages into a book and then moving onto the next one, the most exciting part might be yet to come, and often the best authors have a long build up. That being said, if you aren’t interested in a book, feel free to put it down and find a book you love, especially in the beginning.

Utilize your local library. Books can get expensive, my husband can attest to that, so it’s helpful to use your library, especially in the beginning when you are just learning what types of books you like. Also check out deals on used book sites or find a local used book store to get some great deals as well!

Just Start. Don’t try to make everything perfect, just start. It will be worth it!

 

 

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How to Turn Off the Television for Good!

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Any other millennial mothers out there tired of hearing that we need to take the tablets, phones, and electronics away from our children? Me too! Our children are going to grow up in a world surrounded by technology, why shouldn’t we let them start learning how to use it now? Well… Science, that’s why. Damn you Science!!!

Here is the reality, kids spend way too much time watching TV or playing Video games. Sadly, so do adults. The average adult watches 5 hours of TV per day. The average 2-11 year old watches 4 hours of TV a day. That is heartbreaking! Honestly, I thought the 2 hours of TV per day that was recommended was excessive. This includes time playing on tablets as well!

Children need time to be bored, to use their imagination, and to fall in love with books. In order to achieve this, they have to step away from the TV and put the tablets down! Easier said than done right? You are correct, it is NOT EASY to turn off the TV. Watching television is addicting and with Netflix and no commercials, it’s easier than ever to spend a few hours every evening binge watching your favorite show! Follow these steps to turn off the TV for good.

1. Get Active! Think Hiking, Local Rec Center or YMCA, Bike Riding, etc…

REDcoyote-08761Bike riding and hiking have become two of our favorite activities to do as a family when the weather is nice, and we have a local Recreational Center with a little rock wall for the kids and an indoor swimming pool to get out and get some endorphins flowing! Also, the trampoline is great during the summer and the local playground!

 

2. Find New Indoor Hobbies! Think Board games, Musical Instruments, and Crafts!

My 5-year-old daughter and my husband recently started learning how to play the ukuleleimg_8472 together. She has a soprano ukulele (which is the smallest one) and he has the mid-size, the concert ukulele. It is small enough that my daughter can play it comfortably and it is fun for my son and I to dance around or sing along as they are playing. We also have evenings where my son throw a tantrum because he wants to play but he will probably break the strings, it’s called balance. You will be surprised how fast an hour will go by playing a musical instrument instead of watching the latest drama on Netflix.

We have also started playing more board and card games. Most recently we had an evening where we played “Big Bang Theory Clue” so it wasn’t people getting murdered it was the friends from Big Bang Theory doing horrible things like dismantling the Shelbot, it was a lot of fun! My daughter who is 5-years-old (almost 6) got the hang of it pretty quickly and loved that she was playing a big kid game, and my son who just turned 3 was in charge of rolling the dice for everybody. He also re-arranged the characters on a regular basis. With younger children don’t expect board games to go smoothly, the rules are more of general guidelines.

3. Let Them BE BORED!! This is the most important step. 

This is probably also the hardest part, because in the first couple of weeks there will probably be a lot of complaining and depending on the age of your children possibly evenmaddie-running some tantrums of epic proportions. The first two weeks my son threw a fit every night and there were even a few times my daughter would throw a fit and declare “it was the worst day ever!” Stand firm Mama, they’ll get used to it.

The other day some of my daughter’s friends came over and one of them asked if they could watch TV and my daughter responded without any fanfare, “Oh we don’t watch TV at my house, but we can play with bubbles!” Just remember, the tantrums won’t last forever.

This will also probably lead to a messier household, especially when they are young and to entertain themselves they do things like decorate the house with toilet paper, cut up paper from their arts and crafts bin into copious amounts of confetti, and re-organize your fridge; my son had all three of those things done within two hours yesterday. It will be frustrating, your house will be messy, and you will want to turn on the TV, but take a deep breath and tell yourself, “it’s ok, they are learning.”

4. You Have to Quit Too! 

Maybe this is the hardest step. You can’t expect your kids to not watch TV or stay off the tablets while you are binge watching Grey’s Anatomy. I know you are tired, for crying out loud we have to go to work all day and then come home and take care of everything at home, you just want a quiet evening with the TV! I get it, I’ve been there too. Once your kids have broken the habit of watching TV, I think it can be re-introduced within moderation (personally I think 4-5 hours per week is plenty). Find new books that you love! Utilize your local library whenever possible! When your kids are young try and read paper books, they don’t understand that you are reading books on your tablet not playing games. They just see you on the tablet and think that it’s not fair!

You can get some friends together and start a book club or game night! Added bonus, your kids will be used to entertaining themselves better so you might actually be able to have some grown up conversations with your friends while the kids are playing in their room or the backyard!

5. Stand Firm. Commit. You Got This! 

There will be times when it won’t seem worth it, but when you see your kids fall in love with books, fall in love with the outdoors, start to build things and create, and most importantly make lasting memories, and it will all be worth it!

Comment below with your favorite alternative activities to watching TV!

 

 

How to Teach Your Child Latin- For A Classical Education

We have decided to follow the Classical Education for homeschooling our children. I love English Literature and my kids love books, so for the most part we felt very confident in our decision to follow the Classical Education as taught by Susan Wise. ** However, we were hesitant to teach Latin. We had been teaching our kids Spanish, but Spanish was easy, there were countless resources, including TV series, YouTube videos, songs, and a huge section at our local library with Spanish books. However, since Latin is a dead language and even Universities are starting to drop it as an elective, there are not as many resources available to teach Latin. This is what we found:

Dino Lingo has a Latin course and it has been very entertaining for my kids, who are 3 and 5, I doubt it would be near as entertaining for older children, but for their ages it works great.

We create our own posters. We printed out pictures of animals and wrote the names in Latin on a sticker. The kids were able to participate in creating the posters as well, so they love the posters and will go to our classroom regularly to admire their work and read the words in Latin.

We have created a memory game in Latin. You know the game memory where you have 24 cards (12 sets) that are randomly placed upside down then you turn them over one at a time to find the match? Our kids love this game, so we created a game with the picture of the animal or the color and then they have to find the corresponding word in Latin. My 2-year-old son doesn’t understand this game, but my 5-year-old daughter and who friend who is part of our homeschooling group, love this game! We simply made it with 3×5 notecards and printing out pictures, much like we did with the posters.

We found quotes and put them throughout the house. We kept this inexpensive. I bought the pretty resume paper from Office Depot and document frames from the $1 store. We found some of our favorite quotes online and printed them out and framed them to hang throughout the house. We even included a few fun ones such as “Barba Non Facit Philosophum” which translates to “A Beard Does Not Make One a Philosopher.” It makes people giggle after reading all the meaning of life quotes that are so popular in Latin.

Bonam Fortunam!

**You can learn more about the Classical Education from the books and online program here, which I am not affiliated with in any way, I’m just here to share my experience.

Homeschooling and the Bystander Effect

For those of you following my blog you already know that I am a working mother, passionate entrepreneur, and I am homeschooling my children. Trying to take on all of these responsibilities has forced me to learn how to make use of the 16 waking hours I have in a day. We have managed to make this work thus far by making a school a part of our everyday life, we are learning in the car, at dinner, and during family hikes. For more ideas on how to make an education fit around your life you can read my previous blog Homeschooling on the Go, but for this blog let’s explore why homeschooling is so effective.

One of my theories is that homeschooling eliminates the bystander effect in your child’s education. “The bystander effect is  is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present.” Wikipedia

I believe the bystander effect can apply to a child’s education because it is easier to be a passive onlooker when there is a whole team of teachers, administrators, and a school board in charge of your child’s education. When your children don’t get into the prestigious college or score as high on their SAT as you had hoped you can blame the teachers or the school system for not adequately preparing your child. However, when you are homeschooling it is on you. The responsibility of educating is on you.

The key to combating the bystander effect is responsibility. Research has shown that whether a child is taught in Public School, Private School, a Charter School or taught at home, the most important aspect of their education is the parent’s involvement. Theoretically a child will do just as well in Public School as home school if the parent spends quality time with the child after school doing homework together and continuing their education at home. However, I believe for me it would be easier to make excuses to just watch a movie together instead, after all, they spent 6 hours studying at school today right? This is the power of the bystander effect. Thus the power of homeschooling is taking the responsibility of your child’s education on your shoulders and eliminating the bystander effect. What’s your motivation for homeschooling?

Give Your Children a Foundation of Language and Literature

I have recently realized how important it is for children to have a strong foundation of language and literature in order to be successful in life for themselves and more importantly to be well educated, productive members of society. This is goes against the current trends of parents encouraging their children to master math, science, and technology so they can have good paying jobs as doctors or working for Microsoft. I recently read an article that discussed this phenomenon of parents not allowing children major in liberal arts. You can read the full article here, it’s in the Washington Post written by Steven Pearlstein; Pearlstein quotes Debra Humphreys regarding the phenomenon: ‘“I have heard from many different colleges that there is now a considerable — and disturbing — amount of parental pressure against the liberal arts,” reports Debra Humphreys, a senior vice president at the Association of American Colleges and Universities.’ Don’t get me wrong, I understand the struggle of paying a mountain of student debt and only being able to land a job where you didn’t even need a degree.

When I was in my 3rd year of my undergraduate for English Literature I was working at Safeway, where I had been able to advance to office manager and hiring manager. I was continually interviewing recent college graduates with a four year degree in English Literature, and they were here interviewing to be a cashier along with a few high school drop outs. This made me decide to change my major to Business Administration, without any influence from my parents, so I understand why parents are encouraging their children to not “waste their time with a Liberal Arts Degree.” However, I now know that I have been able to be successful in sales, business, and in my personal life more from my three years of studying liberal arts than from what I learned in my business classes. img_6116

In the mandatory psychology, sociology, and literature classes I was able to gain invaluable insight on how people from different walks of life respond to events differently, on what  motivates people, and how to see issues from another person’s perspective.  I developed interpersonal communication skills, public speaking experience, and critical thinking. I can see the implications that my choices have on my future and my children’s future based off the experiences I have read and studied in history. The knowledge and skills I learned studying for my liberal arts degree have helped me to develop lasting relationships with my peers, bosses, vendors, and customers and this has helped me to be successful both in my professional and personal life.

Recently I have observed an extreme lack of education in language, literature, and humanity. Due to this lack of ability to communicate with each other, as a society, we have become angry with each other. We are no longer learning about the importance of society, diversity, history, literature, and the arts. All of which I believe play an important role in bringing us together a society and as people. We are losing that connection. We are losing our ability to reason, think critically, empathize, and communicate. I know I don’t have a lot of influence over my peers, but I do have an incredible amount of influence on my children, and so do you. Give your children the gift of language. Give them the gift of literature, history, and the arts. Teach them to love books, to love to learn, and to love to understand others. One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Dr. Seuss, “The more you read, the more you know, the more you learn, the more places you’ll go!” Build the foundation while they are young, and you’ll be amazed at all the places your kids will go.

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5 Free Videos to Get Your Kids Excited to Learn Spanish

One of the many reasons we decided to home school our kids is so they can focus more time on the subjects they love and we have the freedom and flexibility to help them build a larger base of learning in their early years, a concept we learned from Classical Education . My husband speaks Spanish fluently and we live in an area where there is a fairly large population of Spanish speakers so it made sense for us to have them learn Spanish as their first secondary language. However, I was having a difficult time getting my daughter, who is 5, interested in Spanish, she was much more interested in creating her own language, which was a lot of “ebo dedo ai” and “bibi bo bo” which I’m assuming is her trying to speak to R2D2. I was starting to get frustrated when I was listening to Spartan Up by Joe Desena on Audible and he said that they also have their children learn another language, and he and his wife allow their kids to watch as much TV as they want as long as it is in the other language, ie Spanish, Mandarin, French, whatever language you are encouraging your kids to master. My kids aren’t as into TV, but they absolutely love watching music videos on YouTube, which I am constantly fighting, so I finally stopped fighting. I found a few videos that my kids love, and now they are excited to learn Spanish and will ask me how to say things in Spanish throughout the day.

These are a few of the best videos I have found to get your kids interested in Spanish:

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes  It’s a familiar song to kids, Jamie on here is a great singer, and I think my kids like her because she is happy and cheerful throughout the whole song. My kids can sing this whole song now and they can name all the body parts in Spanish.

Mi Cuerpo Hace Musica This one is nice because it doesn’t have an advertisement in the beginning, and it is interactive, so my 2 year old loves it as well.

Teach them to Count to Ten in Spanish There are a lot of different videos you can use, but for some reason my kids like this song the best.

Days of the Week This is a very upbeat, fun song for kids to learn and it is helpful for us parents that don’t speak Spanish to have the subtitles and learn as well!

Learn Sports with BASHO & FRIENDS – Juegos My kids love this one! Personally, I would not have picked this song, but my kids have so much singing along and the repetition is great!

There are a lot of paid for programs to teach your kids Spanish, but we are going to attempt to use all the free resources available to us first, we will keep you update on what we find works best and other great sources to teach your kids Spanish! If you have found a great free source for kids to learn Spanish please let us know in the comments !

**I don’t receive any compensation for promoting any products, services, or videos on my blog, this is just what I have found works best for my kids.

 

 

 

Homeschooling as a Working Mom

I was first given the example by my own mother. My mother is a Physical Therapist, and an exceptional one as well. She did not choose between being a mother and having a career, she had both. When my older brother and I were 3 and 1, she found a job as a Physical Therapist at a Nursing Home that was owned and operated by a local family. My mother explained to them that she put being a mother first and that she wanted to be able to home school her kids, so she would need a somewhat flexible schedule and to be able to bring her kids to work. I want to add, my mom worked full time, a full 40 hours and sometimes up to 50 per week when her patients needed her! This is how she did it.

First of all, the owners agreed to let her use a small empty room as her class room that was very close to her office. Although she wasn’t in her office that often because she was usually somewhere in the building working with patients. We only used this for a few hours a day, after we were done with our lessons she would take us to a lady’s house, usually on her lunch break, for us to play and run around and have fun until she picked us up at the end of the day. Let’s be honest, you can’t expect a 5 or even a 7 year old to behave in a nursing home from 9-5. When we are a little older we wouldn’t go to the babysitter’s until about 3, so we had a normal length school day, although it was far from normal learning.

Before you get too worried about the quality of our education, my older brother just graduated medical school with an MD and my younger sister is a Pharmacist, so we were fairly well prepared for higher education. 😉

However, that isn’t really the point, you already know home school students usually do very well or you wouldn’t be looking into how you could home school your own kids! We need to focus on how to get it done!

First of all, to be really successful at being a homeschooling and working mom, it will help to embrace the notion of homeschooling on the go. For my mother, she used travel time as learning, as well as evenings and weekends. For instance, it was a 30 minute drive from our house to my mom’s work, then of course  a 30 minute drive home. She would use that hour as completely focused learning time. We would sing learning songs, do addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc in our head as our mom would quiz us. We would talk about our lessons from the day before or tell our mom about the book we read. Then over the dinner table (we sat down and had family dinner every night) we would talk about other interesting things and my father would often join in then as well. I would argue that we learned more from this hour and a half (the drive and dinner) then the average kid does in an entire school day. Not because my parents were these brilliant teachers, but because we wanted to impress our parents with how much we learned and we loved having their attention (as most children do), so we remembered what they taught us. I remember when I was in public school in 8th grade (my Mom only did home school for Elementary School) my teacher asked the class, why do we have fall back. Nobody was raising their hand so I did and explained why there is a time change. My teacher stopped and looked at me very surprised and asked how I knew that. I laughed and replied that everybody knows that. My whole class disagreed with me, none of them knew that. We had discussed it at a family dinner when I was 6 or 7 I think. I had known that since I was 6! And here were 8th graders that didn’t know! If you are homeschooling on the go, your kids will eat up your every word and will want to learn from you, and you will be shocked at how far ahead they are when you just teach them everything you know as you go about your day!

I currently have a daughter in Kindergarten and a very rambunctious 2 year old son. I’m going to be honest, I might be changing my story when my son is old enough for school on how practical this is, but I hope not! 🙂 With my daughter I have a friend who also home schools who has children the same age, and she takes over playing and teaching my kids in the afternoon when I’m focused on working. We wake up early in the morning and do Math, we are continually learning Spanish, and we read and write every night. My daughter can already read and she loves to read, she is ahead of her grade level and I have been able to work outside the home just like my mom did. You can do it too! You need a good support system, that’s not true, you need a GREAT SUPPORT SYSTEM, find that boss who understands you need flexible time to teach your kids, find that friend who is willing to watch your kids while you are working, and get to work!

Homeschooling on the Go!

 

We don’t have a typical set up for homeschooling, so we have revised traditional school with what we call Homeschooling on the Go! The idea is to create a culture in our family where continually learning is just a part of every day life, you don’t sit down for school and learn for 5 or 6 hours and then turn your brain off; there is always something new and interesting to learn. We started this in our family partly out of necessity and partly because of how much of a difference it has made in our own lives.

For the first year and a half of our marriage, my husband and I were both in school full time and working. We would come home from work every night, make dinner, get our daughter ready for bed and then hit the books! We were so excited when we had finally finished our degrees and could live a “normal” life of just going to work and then coming home and not having to study. We went along like this for about a year, we found some shows we liked on Netflix that we would watch together or when it was nice outside we would go on a bike ride. After we had caught up on all the TV shows that were all the rage when we were in college that we didn’t have time to watch back then, we realized TV wasn’t all that fun and we missed studying! We missed learning and growing and having discussions about our homework! How I Met Your Mother is hilarious, but there’s not a lot to learn from that show, aside from learning that Neil Patrick Harris is hilarious!

We discussed getting our Master’s Degree, but to be honest, we already had a pile of student loan debt and we wouldn’t make that much more in our chosen fields with the higher degree, so we sought elsewhere. We downloaded audible (my husband drives a lot for his work so he could listen to books while he was driving) and we found some great personal improvement books. My favorite one to this day is Dale Carnegie’s  How to Win Friends and Influence People I would highly recommend it to anyone! We also listened and read books on health, body language, political and financial books, and one of our favorites, Spartan Up by Joe Desena. We also downloaded books to teach us new languages, which is probably the most fun activity we do together now, is to practice speaking in Spanish or Mandarin!

20151004_115146From this experience we realized the most important thing we could pass onto our children is the love of learning. Children are born with an innate desire to learn, I believe the most important thing we can do is to not kill their desire to learn. If we as parents are continually learning new things and show our kids how much we love to learn, they will likely follow suite.

This backstory brings me to my point of Homeschooling on the Go! We are very busy, we both work full time jobs, although we are lucky enough to have fairly flexible work schedules, and we spend a lot of time outdoors. Instead of having our children sit at a desk for a few hours every day and learn, we incorporate learning into our life. When we are jumping on the trampoline we count, sing the alphabet, count in Spanish, count be 2’s and count by 10’s. When we are driving up to some of our favorite camp grounds and hiking trails we practice spelling. My daughter calls it the spelling game, we will try to stump each other on how to spell a word.

When we are home we work on writing, reading and art. While I am cooking dinner my daughter will practice writing sentences and she will sit next to me and read to me while I’m folding laundry. Learning is just part of our every day life and because of that we never have to fight with the kids to do their homework, they just learn because it’s exciting and it’s fun. We are able to work homeschooling into our lives instead of working our lives around homeschooling and because of that we are able to pack some much more into every day!

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Photo Credits: RedCoyote LLC -Facebook: @RedCoyote208

Note: I do not receive any compensation or kick backs from any company or book that I recommend. They are just what I have found to be most helpful in life, and I hope you can find as much use out of them as I have!