1. Have lots of books available. Books from the library. Books in your home library. Buy books from library sales and at used bookstores.
Keep some good reference books, too: Dictionaries, encyclopedias, Bible encyclopedias, biographies, Landmark books, Childhood of Famous Americans
I don’t have a cake like in the photo above, but I wish I did!
2. Have art supplies available – and let your kids use them!
Have some of these in a place where your kids can reach them themselves according to their age and responsibility level.
water color paints
paper (white and colored)
markers (if you don’t have chronic wall writers)
3. Have maps around. Hang maps on the walls: pretty, colorful ones or write on/wipe off maps and let the kids write the names of cities and countries and bodies of water on them. Have a globe available so your kids can check out places they are interested in.
We even have place mats with maps on them – five of them are maps of the USA and five of them are maps of the world. I used these the other day when I wanted the kids to find out where we are now – in Pennsylvania. We’re all still in shock from our sudden move and it hasn’t hit us yet that we’re so close to the Atlantic Ocean now!
4. Educational software and educational programs on TV or movies. My kids have learned a lot from computer games like Living Books, Arthur, Putt Putt, Freddi Fish, Spy Fox, etc.
We don’t watch any TV now, but we have lots of videos of The Wiggles, Dora, Super Book, Blue’s Clues, Veggie Tales, What’s in the Bible, Leapfrog, Donut Man, etc.
My kids have learned a lot and been motivated to learn to read by video games. I don’t like them, but my husband does, and he keeps them supplied with them. Several of my boys have learned to read because they wanted to play a game that required being able to read.
5. Get excited about what your kids see in nature. If they see a strange bird outside and exclaim about it, go look at it and discuss it with them. If you don’t know what it is, help them look it up.
If they bring flowers or see pictures of flowers that they like, talk to them about them. Tell them whatever you know about them. If you don’t know anything – look it up!
photo by code poet
Give them a specimen container and let them keep a pet for a little while. Then encourage them to let them go so they can eat and live. Talk about what the creature eats and what kind of habitat they live in. Have magnifying glasses handy. Let the kids use them!
Something like this would be fun!
Keep a caterpillar in a jar and watch it make a chrysalis and transform into a butterfly. I love doing this. I wrote several posts about our experiences under Caterpillar Chronicles in the Categories of my blog.
I have one who is fascinated with stars. She goes out and looks at them just about every night. She knows some of the constellations. I go out and look with her sometimes and listen to what she has to say about her love for the stars. We took an online astronomy class and she learned a lot about them.
6. Read aloud A LOT! Keep a read-aloud going at all times. You don’t have to read every day, but don’t let too much time pass between readings or you and they may forget what has already happened in the story. My kids are excellent at doing recaps, because many times I can’t find where to take up reading again, and they have to tell me the last thing I read to them. Unofficial narrations are always good!
We read books from the Sonlight reading list and from All Through the Ages by Christine Miller and from Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt.
I also look through the online card catalog of our library and find books about whatever topic I want to study or read about and reserve them. Sometimes I just walk through the library and let the Lord guide me to the books He wants us to read.
This is what we’re reading right now. We LOVE George Macdonald.
Several of my children are good writers. I’m sure a lot of it is natural ability, but I know that our reading of good literature has enhanced their vocabulary and their ability to make their writing interesting.
Sometimes I read something one of them wrote, and I say, “Where did you learn to write like that?” They usually tell me they learned it from stories that I’ve read to them and from the Bible. I haven’t used a writing program with any of them.
These are things that have worked for us. My kids love to learn. They live in an atmosphere of learning, and they really don’t know anything different.
Some of the kids who have come around ask us to stop talking like we do. They can’t understand what we’re saying. We don’t know any other way of talking!
But if they hang around long enough, they usually catch on. And sometimes they get a little more interested in learning, too.
My children have been immersed in an atmosphere of learning from the time they were born. Learning is as natural as breathing to them.