Reading Without Tears

My youngest son is finally starting to read. He is one of my later readers, but with the older students doing well in school, it has been easy to feel relaxed about it. However, it is one of my goals for this season to get him reading fluently. Once a student is reading, they can move much more easily into independent learning, as well as being equipped to absorb tons of information naturally as they read.

It is also one of my goals to keep learning an active process as long as that is needed, and to keep learning tear free. Some of my son's work involves writing in a workbook (Explode the Code, Cursive Copywork), so for other reading activities I try to incorporate games as often as possible.

Some of these games I have referred to in other posts, but I made up a few new ones this week..

Word Pick Up- My son had dumped a huge tub of Duplos on the floor. I told him that for every word that he could read, I would pick up a Duplo, for every word that he could not read, he would have to pick up a block. It not only got the toys picked up without tears, but it also got lots of reading done.

Obstacle Phonics-Another afternoon with a messy floor, but this time the floor was covered with stuffed animals and a bin of toys. My son set up the toys as an obstacle hop, and for every phonogram he answered correctly he could take a hop forward. If he missed one, he would have to go backwards. He loved the extra challenge of jumping over his toys, and was happy to take his time about getting through the obstacles.

Mosaic Spelling- I had a pencil outline of a heart, and for every word my son spelled on his little chalkboard, I would glue a scrap of paper inside the heart. I explained to him that when the heart was filled in, he would be done with spelling. This helped him focus enough to pay attention to improving letter formation, and helped him see that there would be an end to the task.

None of these activities took me much time in preparation or clean up. The mosaic activity was a left over art project from our history day, that I really wanted him to do as a record of our day. The other two activities helped get toys picked up, and in every case, the reading, and the activity, accomplished dual purposes. Cleanup, exercise, and crafting, all got done along with the reading.

I can't always make reading fun, but when possible, I will take the time to make school an opportunity to build connection, and show my son how well loved he is.

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Comprehensive Goal Setting

Although I have read many books on goal setting, one of my favorite systems was well explained by missionary wife Colleen Adams at a women's meeting I went to. Thankfully my creative friend Rebecca, beautifully explains the whole system here, visit her page and you will find a very clear explanation of each area of goal setting. The short story is that, instead of trying to make A, B and C goals, or just a big list of general goals for the year, Colleen's method has you break down your goal setting into eight different areas. Also, instead of making goals for the whole year, these goals are meant to be for a shorter time period, such as three months.

However, even before you start defining your goals for the year or a season, it is important to have your basics, or essentials clearly defined. Although, we have long had a family vision statement, it is important to revisit it and pray for fresh vision, so that we aren't making goals without the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we long for. If you don't have a family purpose statement, then this free download from Tsh Oxenreider of The Art of Simple, could be super helpful for you.

Some of my essentials are;
God, and an active, listening relationship with Him.
My husband, and building a strong marriage.
My children, and giving them a solid spiritual and educational foundation, with all the love they deserve,
My home, and making it a life giving place.
My community; loving and encouraging my extended family and friends.
My ministry, and encouraging other moms.
My art, and continuing to improve my photography, food raising, and writing.
My businesses, and serving my market well to supplement our family income.
Missions, and being a part of helping families in crisis worldwide.

Last Year's Goals
(with the honest truth about progress)

1. Self Care
Exercise 5 days a week
 (better than the previous year, but overall inconsistent.)
Drink 6 glasses of water per day

2. Spiritual Life
Daily Bible copy-work 
(this became a habit, yay!)
Spend first 30 minutes of the day in prayer and Bible study 
(this went pretty well, but I need to work on getting the children being more productive so I can have this time guilt free, or get up earlier)

3. Intellect/Emotions 
(for me right now, these are some goals with my kids)
Weekly nature walk and journaling
 (we did a lot more illustrating and journaling, but not enough nature journaling/observation)
Teach chore consistency with children 
(still working on this)

4. Relationships
Weekly date with my honey 
(we had some really sweet times together this year, and celebrated 25 years of marriage)
Work on eye contact with my children
 (major relationship breakthroughs with my middle children, the book, Hold On To Your Kids was very influential in this.)

5. Time Management
No phone/computer until priorities 1, 2 and 3 are done (super-fail)
Family Bible time by 8:30 a:m (here too)

6. Nest Management
Monthly deep cleaning 
(my house just got dirtier, as I got busier)
Library redo (tile, flooring, window)
(we did it, all but the window, and I love it)

7. Uniquely You
(This might mean weekly pedicures, or more time spent on self care, 
but those aren't my top priorities right now)

Weekly blog post (nope)
Improve photography 
(yes, and this lens is helping)

8. Financial Stewardship
Make a list of accounts (done)
Make some money (yes!)

Although, I didn't achieve total success in the goals that I set in 2015, having the goals, did help me gain consistency in some important areas.
This year, with the help of books like Essentialism, I am being even more prayerful about what my core values and goals should be. It is easy to get my plate so full that I end up frazzled. This is not what I want for myself or my family. Our dreaming and goal setting, can inspire our children to also have purpose; we don't need perfect execution, forward progress is what we are really looking for.

2016 Goals 

1. Self Care
Walk 2 miles, 5 days a week
Do a 21 day sugar fast

2. Spiritual Life
Memorize one verse each week.
Spend first 30 minutes of the day in prayer and Bible study.

3. Intellect/Emotions 
(for me right now, these are some goals with my kids)
Get my youngest reading fluently
Teach morning routine consistency to children.

4. Relationships
Weekly date with my honey.
Continue forging connection with my middle children.

5. Time Management
Family Bible time by 8:30 a:m.
No phone/computer until morning routine is done.

6. Nest Management
Simplify/organize my closet.
Grow more food.

7. Uniquely You
Write a book with my daughter.
Go to a writer/blogger conference.

8. Financial Stewardship
Increase my income. 
Save for a mission trip.

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