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A Homeschooling Living Room
by Jodi CarnesThe rhythm of the living room can be very different from home to home. Some living areas are called “dens” or “playrooms.” A more formal home may call the living area a “sitting room.” For the purpose of this book, the living room is the room where the family goes to relax and hang out together. It is the room where you can entertain company from Christmas parties to Monday night football games.
Our living room includes a couple of couches, a braided rug, a play area, a TV, a desk with games, books, and small toys, blankets, lamps, and a small bookshelf loaded with books! This room is picked up countless times a day and it is definitely where we spend the most time. Our front door even opens into this room.
When the children and I enter this room in the morning, we open the drapes with a short good morning song. We sing to welcome the day and the sunlight pouring in through the windows. It is important for young children to have a have a beginning and an end. This gives them consistency to their day. This little ritual is a great way to wake up the home and it allows the sun to remind everyone of the promising day ahead.
Our couches are a favorite spot in our home. My children love to cuddle on the couch with pillows and blankets to read books, play horses, watch TV, or to nurse. Afghans thrown over the back and small pillows tucked into the couch corners welcome weary bodies and spirits. Many sick days have been spent resting here on my couches with soft music playing and the curtains drawn. It is a spiritually and physically healing place.
The wooden bowls are stirred in the small wooden sink. Blocks are poured out of baskets and cloths are placed on the floor ready for an impending tea party. Dolls are dressed, rattles are chewed, and animals made alive. The play area extends into the entire living room and an art drawer is dumped in a corner next to the sofa. The sofa cushions themselves are made into a home complete with a door and a ceiling. The books are taken off the shelf and my end table becomes a library check out desk. A day of imaginative play is in full swing. Lunch will be served in the sofa house and a four year old suddenly feels like a real queen in her own house.
Our days with preschoolers need to provide hours and hours of free play. Free time to dream, to create, and to imagine with no TV or distractions to interrupt them. Speaking of TV, it is very limited in our home. Cuddle time with daddy can include a video, but only after a long day of creative and outdoor play. The hours of childhood are too short to be wasted in front of screens. When we do watch TV, I try to thoroughly screen my children’s shows and videos and make sure they are only watching wholesome things. My daughter is extremely sensitive to images on TV, so I try to be very careful with her.
Notebooks and pencils for drawing or writing are also placed in our living room. Rich literature that accents a creative play life fill the shelves. Time for reading is made every single day, several times a day. These moments of entering into storyland with a child are magical and beautiful times. A child can enter a story and be right there and this is something that we can find difficult as adults. Allow yourself to be whisked away to far off lands with your child through the magic of books. Don’t hurry this imaginative part of childhood.
Another magical time for our children is daddy play time. Daddy lays down on the floor and the kids pile on top giggling and begging for rides. Puzzles, board games, and books are also favorite daddy activities here in our home.
I love to take breaks from my work during the day, also, and lay down with them on the living room rug. The baby crawls all over me, lately trying to laughingly sit on my head, and my daughter instructs me as to which doll I am to play with. It is just a wonderful time of entering into their world for a few moments of the day. I know that it means the world to my preschooler when I take the time to do this.
A child from age two on can learn to dust the living room with their own feather duster. I even have a small one for my one year old. Children can be engaged to clean up and songs can be sung to encourage pick up time. By making it a ritual at certain times throughout the day, every single day, children will know what is expected and will learn to be responsible for their play things.
The living room is the perfect place to display family pictures, favorite albums, and other things that speak of your family history. Bless your family with a neat room but also a place where they can feel comfortable to kick back and be themselves. Quiet lamps and favorite books in baskets can be scattered around, bringing peace to each seat in the room.
Every once in a while, for a “special treat”, we allow a family picnic in the living room. We like to order out from our favorite restaurant, sit on the floor and couch, maybe turn on a new family video from the library, and eat together in a fun way. My four year old requests this often but we keep it to once a month or so to retain the uniqueness of this time.
Every family can have and begin rituals, traditions, family times, games, and hobbies that will make their family life rich. Some have special family nights on a certain day of the week. Some have devotions, some have family singing or instrument playing, some have poetry readings. Find what works for your family and do it over and over to make it a special part of your child’s happy memory bank of their childhood.
(exerpted from Living Four, a guidebook for mother's of four year olds)
Article copyright Jodi Carnes
Copyright 1997-2015 by Gentle Christian Mothers™
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.