How to Nourish Your Child’s Mind in Just 15 Minutes A Day

How to nourish your child's mind in just 15 minutes a day

Everyday, I make it a point to read to my children. They have always been excited to be read aloud to, and often bring me books asking me to read to them throughout the day. Many times I even see them in their room sitting, patiently turning through a book that they don’t even know how to read yet.

Reading is such an important part of a child’s growth. Did you know that only 33% of high school students are reading at “proficient” level, meaning that they just scrape by reading at grade level? In addition, those who struggle with reading proficiently for their grade level are much more likely to drop out of school and not attend college.

Words make up a lot of our lives anymore: we read signs, instructions, magazines. But in all reality, our children don’t read well. They can’t comprehend what they are reading, or they read slow, and that makes reading unenjoyable.

When you read to your child you are nourishing their developing brains! Reading increases vocabulary, comprehension, creativity, concentration, among a multitude of other benefits. Lack of reading skills is become a horrible problem. The Educational Testing Service says:

“Forecasters have predicted that if static literacy levels continue, then by 2030 the entire Literacy Level distribution of the U.S. population will have decreased, creating an American workforce that is unequipped and unskilled to work in the demanding global market.”

In just 16 years, it is expected that we won’t read well enough to compete in the global market. There is such an easy solution to this: read to your children. I understand that sometimes things get busy. That sometimes you have to juggle work, school activities, and Zumba classes. But it is so important to read to your child as frequently as you can.

And the best part is, it doesn’t really matter what you read them. They still get the benefits. Sometimes, I read my three and one year old my textbooks. I get my homework done, and they get the benefit of being read to. You can read the sports section, if that’s your thing, or the financial articles. Anything. Just read to them.

And if you prefer kids books, Amazon is a great place to shop for books. You can buy them digitally or hard copy for a good price on there. My favorite resource for a constant stream of new kids books is We Give Books. You sign up for a free account, and then have access to hundreds of beautiful digital books.

So what will reading books do to your child (besides give them a healthy background of learning)? Children who are frequently read to at a young age go farther in school than those who aren’t. Students who read through the summer have less learning-loss, and those who read throughout the year can gain 4,000-12,000 new vocabulary words a year.

Nourish your child’s brain. Feed them words.

Happy reading!

What’s your favorite childhood book? Answer in the comments below!

Getting Organized and FREE Printables!

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If you’ve ever been on Pinterest, then you know how much organizing stuff is there. They have diaper boxes into fab organizing bins, dinosaur trays, and printables galore. The latter of which caught my eye a few weeks back.

I am a naturally unorganized person. I have tried everything. Color coding, filing, post it notes all over the house. Nothing seemed to be able to keep me on task, and get what needed done, done. Tired of constantly filling out to do lists only to have them misplaced or thrown away and forgotten, this link about making a household binder at Thirty Handmade Days (an excellent blog all around, check it out!).

I really liked what she had done, and I thought that there were some really great ideas on her site. Knowing that I wanted to make this binder, I went ahead and bought an economy view binder from Wal-Mart for about $3. I only got a one inch, but in hindsight I should have gotten the two-inch binder. I also bought a pack of page protectors and a set of 8 divider tabs.

While I liked the printables that Thirty Handmade Days had, they weren’t quite what I was looking for. After browsing Pinterest and the internet for a while, I found some excellent printables that were closer to what I was wanting. The best part? I’ve included them here! The printables I found and use all look clean, modern, and beautiful! I saved you a bit of trouble in making your own binder, all you have to do is click on the picture or link and print them yourself!

What did I include in my household binder?

Free printable fillable "Today is the Day" planner/diary by Erin Rippy

The first page I put in my binder was a daily schedule. I love the bright, simple design! It has a “Schedule” area that is separated into hourly time slots from 6 am to midnight. On the right side is  “To Do”, “Phone calls & emails”, “Places to go”, and “Notes”. I really liked this. Not only can I write a to do list, but I can also schedule in when I should be doing the tasks! I don’t always follow the schedule exactly, but it does give me some direction for the day. I’d have to say that this is by far my favorite printable I’ve found. I stuck it in a page protector so I can use it over and over, and it also prints nicely half-size if you have a mini binder or just want to save on ink and paper.

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There weren’t any printables I could find that covered what I wanted next, so I made one! It’s my Daily Reflection page. It has three spaces for things that I am thankful for, and then a place to put how I will serve God. I printed this off 4 to a sheet, and it is still big enough for me to write on the blanks. I didn’t want to put this in a page protector because I like being able to look back and see what I was thankful for before. I write the date in the corner, and keep two months worth of pages in my binder. I use a paper clip so I can turn all of them at once without having to flip through them to get to the next section.

This is where I inserted my first tab, labeled “Planner”.  My year at a glance is the first page behind the tab. You can find lots of these printables all over Pinterest, and I just use a very simple one. I included a monthly calendar from 505 Designs next. The fields on this one are editable, so I typed in birthdays and anniversaries so I won’t forget!

calendar

The next tab in my binder is “Organizing”, which I used as a lump term to include cleaning, bills, and contact information. I created my own simple cleaning schedule that has three tasks for me to do daily (making beds, unloading and reloading the dishwasher, and sanitizing kitchen and bathroom counters) as well as three tasks each for every day of the week except Sunday. This sheet is also in a page protector for reuse. I like to keep the tasks each day that I do checked, so if I have extra time I can go back and do ones that I’ve missed the earlier days of the week. You can find the annual bill checklist I use here, and I designed my own contact information sheet, which you can get here.

cleaning schedule

The next two sections deal with school; the first is for my school things and the second is for homeschooling. I printed off another calendar (this time I printed two months per sheet), and made a schedule of when to do assignments. I made sure to schedule every assignment in at least two days before it was due, and set that as my “due date”. That way, I always finish the assignment ahead of time. As I complete assignments, I highlight them so I know that they are done. Last semester I made the mistake of highlighting things with the intention of completing them, but then life would happen and I wouldn’t do them. Later, I’d see they were already checked off and assumed they were done. I missed several assignments, and learned my lesson very quickly. DO NOT HIGHLIGHT UNTIL ASSIGNMENTS ARE SUBMITTED. Behind the calendar is the class schedules and syllabi, and some assignments I printed off so that I could do them on the go (in waiting rooms, for example).

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Behind my homeschooling tab is my lesson plans, and a to do, to buy, and lesson idea list. Once again, I print the lesson plans 4 to a page to save ink and paper (can you tell I really like to save ink and paper?), and so I am able to see about a month of plans all at once.

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The last two tabs in my binder are meal planning and recipes. I’m still trying to find a meal planning printable that works for me, and I feel like I’m probably going to have to design my own to get one that’s just right. But I found these lovely recipe card printables  that I use. The space for ingredients is a little short, but other than that I really like them!

wpid-wp-1392782419129.jpgFor now, that’s all that I’ve got in my binder. I added in a cover and binder spine printable for a finishing touch.

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I’ve been using my binder for a few weeks now, and it has helped SO much it is unbelievable. My house stays cleaner, I don’t forget assignments, and I know exactly what to expect. Plus, I’m planning on adding in a blogging section soon! There are so many great uses for this, and you can customize it however you need it. It’s cheap and fast to put together, too! I’m very happy I decided to make this. Keep in mind, if you decide to put together your own, that there are hundreds and hundreds of free printables on the internet! Be creative, and design it so it works for you.

Happy organizing!

How do you stay organized? Answer in the comments below!