Bedtime Routines That Really Work

Bedtime routines can be hard to implement, especially if you don’t know how they work in the first place. Thankfully, we learned how important routines are for young children and began to implement key things for our children early on when our first born was fighting bedtime as early 6 months old.

Bedtime Routines That Really Work - Tried and Proven Things that Make Bedtime Easier for You and Your Kids |

Our daughter has proven to be a trial blazer in our parenting, not just because she was the first born but because she had a strong will from the beginning.  I couldn’t believe the things that she taught me as a parent, even though I had already had years of experience with a baby sister 12 years younger than me, and countless hours of baby sitting under my belt prior to becoming a mom.

Bedtime headaches were just one of those battles we fought from the beginning of our parenting, but thankfully, we didn’t fight long.

Bedtime Routines That Really Work

I don’t miss those evenings of chaos, endless items of things that are needed, the many trips to the bathroom and feeling like I was going to lose my mind from the never ending demands that happened just because it was time for bed.

Parent Together

When you have two people, you have two ideas of how to fix a problem. Often times, when the two people don’t sit down and talk though how to do something together, it can cause some issues in the relationship and dynamics of the house.

I remember when my husband and I first partnered up to work on the bedtime routines all those years ago, we both had our times of strength and weaknesses. We were able to help each other through the hard times, as we reminded each other about what we were trying to accomplish.

We were literally tag teaming it every night!

Cheering would go on when sleep was finally accomplished. Mind you, it was a quiet celebration because we didn’t want to undo what we worked so hard to accomplish.

The key is to have both of you on the same page, and agree on the plan of attack to training your child, or children to what you expect from them at bed time.

Do The Same Things Every Night

Doing the same thing every night, in the same way, is where the routine comes in and it is the key to making things work.

Do you want to read a book to your children every night for the rest of their preteen ages? Or do you want to play the same game each night?

For us, we like to have things that are different except for a few things: brushing teeth, changing clothes, going to the bathroom and praying as a family.

These are the things that we do routinely every night!

It works so well that even our puppies knew what ‘pray’ means when they were only 3 months old, as they would run upstairs and jump up on our boy’s bed for our family prayer.

You can decide what things that will become part of your routine each and every night. These are the things that you will keep the same thing, in the same order without fail.

Overcome the Obstacles

What challenges do you face each night with your child(ren)?

Fears have always been something that our children have had problems with growing up, but they only seem to magnify at night time. One of my favorite tips that I wish I had when my older children were younger was Monster Spray!

The fear of the dark was something that everyone of our children struggled with, so we have purchased our fair share of night lights. I love these lights because they are cheap, and easy to take with us when we travel.

Noise was also an obstacle they we dealt with, because our kids expected silence in the house or something, when they would go to sleep. We allowed 30 minutes of music, or audios to be listened to when it was bedtime, and that was one of the best things we ever did in creating a routine for our children.

Although, all of our family loves falling asleep to the sound of a fan.

Sometimes, my kids are restless or overtired and have a really hard time falling asleep (they get this from their mother). I love using Counting Sheep to help them relax and fall asleep faster.

Create Consequences

In addition to creating our nightly routines, we also had to set predetermined consequences for disobedience that was outside of realistic needs.

Our children were made aware of what these consequences would be, and to help secure them in their minds, we would remind them of our expectations, as we tucked them in and kissed them goodnight.

Part of the consequences should always be praise the next morning if a child followed the routines well. The more praises a child gets for doing what is expected, the easier the routines will be solidified in their life.

Be Consistent

Your children will be consistent if you are consistent in your part of the routines.

Often times, it is the parents that undo all the hard work that has been laid already. Giving in to request that aren’t realistic, like several drinks or having to use the bathroom more than normal.

Children know exactly how to manipulate their parents into doing what they desire them to do. This is where the tag team is so important. One parent can always see through this, but unless both parents are working with each other and yielding to each other, this circle of nighttime chaos will continue.

You will see that in just a week of being consistent, your bedtime routines will become joyful and a time that your kids look forward to each day.

Other Bedtime Routine Resources

To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool

At one time, I had organized a local homeschool support group, and attended a different one as well. It was during this time that I realized that in many cases, starting to homeschool created issues within marriages and families. It surprised me because it was so different for our family. With as many years that I have been homeschooling, I have heard so many different stories about conflicts to homeschool between a husband and wife, and even extended family.

With so many years of homeschooling under my belt, and the different examples of the dynamics of families, I decided to share key things that are important for couples to talk about when trying to decide if homeschool or not to homeschool is right for their family.

To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool: 5 Thinks Couples Should Talk About |

To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool: 5 Things Couples Should Talk About

Regardless of the current thoughts of homeschooling from either spouse, I highly recommend making time to talk about the following 5 things that will help your decision to homeschool or not to homeschool so much easier.

Why would you want to homeschool?

If you are contemplating homeschooling, you may not understand a lot about it but you are drawn to it for a reason, and this reason is pivotal to your decision for your family.

In my own experience, identifying why I want to do something helps me understand my passion and be able to articulate it to others.

I would highly recommend creating a list of pros that homeschooling would provide, and discussing this list with each other, to be sure you both agree that each thing is a pro for your family.

What are your concerns about homeschooling?

With everything in life, I would consider writing down the things that concern you, and label them as cons.

Things like, one income for your family, having to solely responsible for the education of your children, and so on.

The same thing applies for cons. Identify what cons there are to homeschooling, and write a list that contains them all. I would caution you to not consider that the longest list wins, without discussing the next step first.

What obstacles would you need to overcome?

Often times, I look at cons as obstacles that need to be considered and then a plan of overcoming these obstacles need to be put into place.

For instance, if a one income situation is a concern for you, perhaps working on a budget together or identifying ways to cut your spending dramatically to make it work.

Perhaps it is a work schedule for your family. Many families still make this work for them, by homeschooling in the evening and on weekends.

What is important to realize is ‘Where there is a will, there is a way!”

Where are you qualified to teach?

Depending on your state’s requirements, this may not even be an issue to what a parent is qualified to teach. Starting there would be my recommendation.

To learn what your state’s homeschool guidelines are search your state’s name with homeschool laws and you should find a great resource to help you. Often times that comes through a state’s homeschool organization or even HSLDA website.

Some families divide the work load to allow the parent with the most strengths in a subject to teach those, and the other subjects are taught by the other parent.

What I love most about homeschooling is that there are so many curriculum choices that often times the teacher’s manual is enough to qualify a parent to effectively teach their children, and fill in any gaps they may have themselves along the way.

Where do you feel inadequate to teach?

Let’s face it, every person starting something new feels inadequate at first. Yes, even teachers of a brick and mortar school.

Feeling inadequate can be a plus, at least in my perspective. What I have found to be true is that when a personal feels inadequate, they seek options that will help solidify their ability.

This is a perfect place for a homeschooling family to be, because they look for creditable sources for their curriculum, which could include a tried and true method that feels natural and easy to implement, a full curriculum in a box, online courses, co-op settings, or personal tudors.

Those that seek solutions to their feels help their children far more than just putting in a class room that has only one or two options.

I hope that helps you decide if homeschooling is the right fit for your family, or not.


10 Water Activities – No Pool Required

Everyone loves beating the heat, but not everyone has a pool at their disposal.  Although we can go to a pool often, I know my boys would love to have some refreshing water activities to enjoy the summer months and so I went looking… on Pinterest, because where else would you find such good ideas?

I wanted some new ideas, ones that my children may not have enjoyed yet and I found some!

10 WATER ACTIVITIES - No Pool Required - Bring some new ideas to your summer! |

Here are 10 Water Activities – No Pool Required

  1. Sponge Water Bombs – These are as fun as they sound and I can't wait to bombard my husband when he returns home from a long hot day, because we roll that way in our home.
  2. Water Balloon Pinatas – This idea takes water bowls (one of my families favorite summer fun) to a whole new level of fun.
  3. Hand Eye Coordination Play – My son absolutely loved this summer fun – all year long! And he still does!
  4. Marble Run Water Slide – What a ‘cool' idea to get the kids playing outside, splashing in the water and having fun together.
  5. Roll Six and SPLASH! – What a fun game that can be played and enjoyed by the youngest and oldest members of your family.
  6. Bobbing for Nemo – This twist for bobbing for apples would be a big hit in our home.
  7. DIY Water Slide – One of my children's favorite thing to do is summer is to attach a hose to our play set and create their own water slide.  They will go up and down that slide for as long as we allow them to run the water.
  8. Water Balloon Slingshot – We picked up one of these at the summer clearance sale and we were smart enough to buy two of them. Instead of ‘dodge ball' we are going to play ‘dodge balloon' and I. CAN. NOT. WAIT!
  9. Water Table – This was a great invention for little ones! They just love to pour and dump.
  10. DIY Slip N' Slide – Purchase a good size tarp, add a small amount of dish soap and then the water. This will prove to be a great cooling off activity the whole family would enjoy!  Of course, you will need to see who slides the furthest, so consider water prove shoes as markers. If you have a lot of space, you may want to purchase the world's longest backyard slip n' slide!

You may also like How to Make Summer Learning Feel Like a Vacation

How to Make Summer Learning Feel Like a Vacation - Fill the months of summer with learning that is fun for the whole family! |

How to Study Geography

I have never really cared about geography growing up, but when I became a Charlotte Mason educator that all changed.  I fell in LOVE with maps and geography.  If a book had a map in the pages, I was drawn to it. When I was reading and a location was mentioned, I instantly attempted to locate it in my mind. When meeting people with accents, I would ask where they were from and see if I could use my mind's map to pin point where they lived.

Yes, I guess you can say that I enjoy geography!

How to Study Geography - Make learning geography exciting and fun with these tips. |



How to Study Geography

  1. Talk about Directions Often – From the time my younger children were two or three, I started reciting the first four lines of the poem by William Blake called Night.  In the poem it says ‘the sun descending in the west', as we sit and watch the sun set together.  In the mornings, I point and say that the sun is rising in the east.  It is just part of my talking with them. Around four and five, I start introducing the north and south and see if they can recall the west and east on their own. They usually do!
  2. Teach Right and Left Early – My children have learned the right and left early on and I would always tell them which direction to go while walking on our nature walks, in the grocery store or while driving. I love when I quiz them for our directions from their memory and they tell me which direction to turn.  Often times, I allow them to navigate with maps from parks or places that give you maps to find where you are going. Early map reading is really important for learning geography!
  3. PuzzlesGeography puzzles are a fun and easy way for your children to learn parts of geography, without a map.  We have had so much fun seeing who can put a puzzle together fastest or even blind folded.
  4. Map Quizzes – During a few years of our homeschooling, I had place a large world map on the table and put a clear plastic over it.  During our meal times, we would take turn calling out a location on the map and the rest of the family raced to see who could find it first.  The person who found it was the next one to call out the location.
  5. Map Drawing – My children have always done map drawing and map work in their homeschooling. What treasures they have made, even in high school, when studying a location, a continent or even a person's geography.
  6. As it is Mentioned – We use living books in almost all of our lessons.  When we read of a location in a reading, we will be sure to find it on a map, so we know what part of the world the story is taking place. Some of our favorite books based on geography is the missionary series from YWAM.



5 Ways to Celebrate Your Child’s Promotion to the Next Grade

Several years ago, it became apparent to me that children need to feel a sense of accomplishment, just like adults do. They need to know that there is a purpose to what they are doing and that when one thing is accomplished, they have achieved something worth celebrating.

5 Ways To Celebrate Your Child's Promotion - Each grade promotion for a child should be celebrated with recognition for a job well done. These ideas will make it fun! |

As a Charlotte Mason educator, I started out homeschooling without grades and even homeschooling year round.  Please understand that I'm not saying that these things are wrong, because that is not what I'm saying, but rather have a starting and ending time for each grade, or year of study, so you can celebrate your child's promotion to the next grade.

Here are 5 Ways to Celebrate Your Child's Promotion to the Next Grade:

  1. Certificate – Create a certificate that your child can proudly display on the refrigerator, hang up in his room or put in her scrapbook.  You can just make it simple and say ‘your child's name' has successfully finish ____________ and has promoted to the ‘next grade'.
  2. Ceremony – If you wanted to make it more special for your child, consider having some family members over to do more of a ceremony, with a cake to follow.  Giving them a certificate in this setting can really be special for them.
    How to Turn Homeschool Field Trips into Keep Sakes
  3. Yearbook – I created a special photo book for my son and he loved it! I added all the field trips that he had been on, but it would be wonderful to include some of his best work from the year, like: narration, copywork, art work, map work and more.
  4. Show and Tell – This is one thing that I started a few years back and has been a great thing for my children.  A few other homeschooling friends and our family get together for a ‘Show and Tell' at the end of the year. This allows the children to show and tell what they have done for the year and get the ‘well done' comments that are important to them and has proven to give them the desire to do their best, knowing they will be showing it at the end of the year.
  5. Family Vacation or Outing – Since most families have more than one child, consider doing something to celebrate their promotion to the next grade that focuses on the family unit with a family vacation or outing that you normally won't be able to do.  This would be a great motivation for your children to work diligently through the year to ensure they had the ability to celebrate together in a way that special to their promotion.

Shutterfly Photo Books



Evaluating Reading Comprehension

Evaluating reading comprehension is a very important aspect of a child's education, and one thing that Charlotte Mason recommends. However, only doing it once a year, at the end of the year can allow for gaps to be happening without your knowledge. Doing regular evaluations, as soon as your child can read well, will help you understand exactly where your child's comprehension is throughout the entire year, allowing you to navigate the year for their benefits based on their weaknesses.

Evaluating Reading Comprehension - Evaluating more than once a year is really important for a child's progress. |

Evaluating Reading Comprehension

When my oldest children were in early elementary, I would regularly evaluate their reading comprehension. At first, we would do a 3 minutes test consisting of 10 questions with a ‘yes' or ‘no' answer, every Friday. I found that this helped them to understand that we read to retain information, and not just read.

They would read the story and attempt to answer as many of the 10 questions as they could correctly within the 3 minutes allowed. At first, this was very difficult for them, however with practice they improved greatly.

As they drastically improved on these weekly test, with consistent 100% grades, I would move them to the next level of test. Still 3 minutes, but the stories grew in difficulty due to the size in text and vocabulary.

I liked that I could test all of my children in the same 3 minutes, but on different test for their own levels of reading comprehension.

Each test for the Books A – E have a wide range of grade comprehension based on the number of correct answers the child gave. The scores have the grade first, followed by the number of month for each grade. So a score of 4.6 would mean the child comprehension level was a fourth grade, six month.  A score of 10.3 would mean tenth grade, third month.

The first test results for the year would determine where I would place the next several test. If my child scored a 4.6 on their first test of the year, I would give the following test where that would be the middle target for 1/2 of the questions being correct. When the child started to improve on their test, I would increase the grade target by a few months at a time.

After I had them take 10 test, I would take an average of all their scores and that was their reading comprehension score for that part of the year.

This method has worked amazing for all of my kids thus far, and will be what I do for my last child, as well.

These are the books that I have used, and highly recommend to be used in homeschool or at home, for any child.