July 27, 2020

Motherhood at a Glance: Making Your Home a Place of Learning

I'm so excited to introduce you to today's feature writer and my very best friend, Josie Morgan! She is living in Central Texas with her husband Jeremy and their two sweet boys, Wesley and Brooks. They just wrapped up their long journey through dental school (whoop, whoop!) and are excited to start their next journey. Josie went to Brigham Young University graduating with a degree in Elementary Education and has a huge place in her heart for teaching!

We learn from Josie about how she has made her home a place of learning and how teaching your children can impact them for the rest of their lives. I hope you find inspiration and motivation after reading her thoughtful piece today!

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher. I was the girl that played school with my friends and siblings for fun - even when they didn’t want to. I was the girl that asked to stay in during recess to help the teacher. I loved school, books, and all that went along with it. I grew up, went to college, and became a teacher. I taught elementary school for two years and then had my oldest son. I knew that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but that meant leaving the classroom that I had longed and dreamed of since I could remember. However, for myself and my family, the most important classroom was my home. Now, that may not be for everyone, but it was the decision that my husband and I made for our family. While I love staying home, I really do miss the classroom. Seeing the school supplies go out at the end of the summer makes my heart skip a beat. Seeing cute pinterest lesson plans makes me feel giddy and sad at the same time. I miss teaching!

While I miss teaching in an actual classroom, I truly do believe that the most important classroom of all is the one I create in my home. When I say classroom, I truly mean a place where learning happens. While all of the supplies, lessons, and decorations excite me, the learning is the part of teaching I miss the most. Seeing my students learn and discover, to me, is one of the best feelings of all. And that is what is happening every single day in my own home. From day one, your child is learning, discovering, connecting with the world around them.  Just the other day, I told my husband that if we could learn at the rate that my baby and toddler learn for the rest of our lives, we would all be geniuses. I’m serious - my toddler can literally tell you every single construction vehicle name by heart (as can I now haha). His vocabulary has quadrupled in just a few short months and he repeats everything I say. He is literally soaking in the world around him. 

My teacher-heart is in heaven seeing my son so excited to learn about everything. While I know that not everyone may feel the same about school/teaching/learning, I think it is SO important that we focus on cultivating an attitude of learning in our homes. One where we are constantly exploring, making connections, and uncovering all the world has to offer. Now this may seem overwhelming, but I’m here to tell you that it’s NOT. You’re probably already doing many things that cultivate this love of learning. From my experience as a teacher, I want to share with you 3 small and simple things that you can do everyday to cultivate a daily and life-long attitude of learning for your child. 

As an elementary teacher, my school opted to not require homework. However, I always, always, always encouraged and pleaded with my students and parents to read, read, read every single day. Even just ONE book. Here is a graphic that shows you how important reading is:

It is incredible to me how reading just 20 minutes a day can add up to SO much reading. Think about how many new words they will have learned - how many new ideas, stories, and topics they would have covered! It’s incredible to me & why I think that reading even just ONE book (and hopefully more) with your kids everyday is so important! 

I know that some people do not enjoy reading to their kids. And that’s okay! Start small. Commit to reading one book a day. I find the easiest time to read a book is before naptime or bedtime. We make it part of our bedtime routine, so my toddler *always* reminds me when I forgot to read him a book. Another easy way is to start the day with reading. When your child wakes up, read a few books before they leave their room. Or read a book during mealtimes. Attaching it to a routine or habit that you have makes it much more likely that you will remember to do it and your child will most likely not let you forget if it is part of your routine ;) 

Along with the reading, I think more importantly, TALK about what you are reading. When I was teaching, I often had students that could read perfectly and fluently, but when I asked them about what they just read, they couldn’t tell me. While they knew how to decode the words, they weren’t processing or comprehending what they were reading. Something that is so helpful is to ask your kids about what they read. Point out what is going on in the pictures. After reading a page, ask them to rephrase what just happened, or ask them to point to the character or the object on that page. For younger kids, ask them what color the pictures are. Did they notice anything else in the pictures? Ask if they can find a certain letter on the page. How did it make them feel? There are endless possibilities of what to talk about based on your child’s mental and/or emotional levels. Doing so gets them to connect the words they are hearing with what is going on and helps them to develop the skills to continue to do this in every aspect of life - conversations with others, movies they see, activities they participate in.

One way that I try to incorporate talking, not just about reading, but about everything, is in the car. I know this may sound weird but I do not like listening to music in the car (I know I’m in the minority). When I used to drive to school in the morning, I would have it be completely silent and when I’d drive home, I always called my mom and told her how my day was. So now, I use the time in the car to simply talk with my kids. We talk about what we see out the window, what we did that day, what we are going to do tomorrow, or about the tv show or book we read that day. We usually aren’t in the car for super long, but it’s one of my favorite times of the day because we simply get to talk and connect. 

In school, subjects are often taught separately. Reading, then math, science, social studies, and writing. They are all separate. Kids often think that they only “like” a certain subject. You hear it all the time - I’m so bad at reading. I’m so bad at math. I’m so bad at writing. I’m guilty of thinking this too - but, your child doesn’t have to! EVERYTHING can be integrated or combined. 

For example, my son LOVES airplanes. One day we decided to learn about airplanes. I got on pinterest and searched “A is for airplane” and thousands of ideas came up. I decided to try to find a reading, writing, math, physical/movement, art, and play activity to go along with this. This is what I came up with: 

This took me about 10-15 minutes of searching pinterest and a few minutes to gather some materials, but I was so surprised how many different learning categories I could cover with one thing: airplanes. We didn’t do any real “school”, but we covered so many different subjects. Now my son is young, but this applies to kids at any age. Here are some quick examples:

ALL subjects can be integrated together and in my opinion, it is usually the most meaningful learning because it doesn’t even feel like “learning”. When your child likes something, use that to your advantage and integrate it to anything you can. 

As I said before, I love teaching - it’s a part of who I am. While I may not be in a physical classroom, I know that my home - and your home, too - is the absolute, most important classroom there is. Sometimes teaching our kids can feel so overwhelming, but I truly believe that reading, talking, and integrating learning are three simple things that will make the biggest difference in your child’s lifelong love of learning.

Thank you to Josie for sharing her amazing strength with us! I feel so excited to make my home more of a place of learning and grateful that we now have better tools to do so. As Josie said, our home is the most important classroom! As a recap, in order to cultivate that in our home, we can: 

Read with our children and encourage them to grow a love for reading

Talk with your children to help them expand their vocabulary and connect with them

Integrate different subjects to make learning fun and interactive 


jbh4884 said...

Absolutely beautifully written!!!! I know her and she is an amazing and inspiring mother and teacher!!!!

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing! I am so happy I can continue to learn from Josie.