Sew together, grow together

The following post is by contributor Robin Zipporah of The Not-Ever-Still Life.

Feeling a need to challenge myself in a new way, I began sewing a few months ago. I’ve had a dream for years to make a quilt for our bed so I signed up for a sewing class, began reading quilting blogs, and finally turned on the sewing machine I received four years ago and figured out how to make it run.

Our learning curve

It’s been so much fun, so humbling, and utterly fascinating to my kids. They’re my biggest cheerleaders, and with their witness to my attempts at this new-to-me medium, three really interesting things have happened:

They believe in me so I believe in me.  They’re too little to care that my straight stitch isn’t really all that straight or that I lopped the points off my pieced triangles. They ooh and ahh over every little project I complete with genuine admiration.

Sewing has become an opportunity to model the lessons I patiently encourage them with every day: Take your time. Read the instructions. Work carefully. Do your best.

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Literacy skills: practicing without practice

The following post is by contributor Robin Zipporah of Not-Ever-Still.

My sweet kindergarten girl is a beginning reader. She can read almost anything, slowly, as long as she doesn’t get frustrated or lose patience. Her handwriting is the same – it’s quite good, really, but sometimes when she’s tired or hurrying she still transposes those Bs and Ds or draws a backwards 9.

She’s like many smart kids, I think – she’s quite capable but she has perfectionist tendencies and because she is bright, she’s not accustomed enough to confronting challenge. Put those two qualities together, and sometimes she gives up entirely too easily. She wants help or declares her disinterest in favor of coloring or another activity.

So I’ve been intentionally building in little bits of reading and writing practice into our regular daily activities…without, you know, really drawing attention to the fact that we’re practicing anything. They aren’t drastic and they don’t take too much time; mostly they’re little ways of changing our routines. And as a bonus, they’re so much more than reading and writing activities – they’re fostering self-sufficiency and confidence in my girl.

Here are a few of my favorites:

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Written and Illustrated: Making Books With Your Children

The following post is by contributor Robin Zipporah of The Not-Ever-Still Life.
Every so often my oldest child, almost six, will flip through a pile of papers on the lower shelf of my bedside table. “What bedtime story did you read last night?” she’ll ask.

Those papers are all books that she or her sister have made, and it stands to reason, doesn’t it? that if she chooses a few books from her bedside table to read every night, so do I. I love when she asks that question. I love how integrally we’ve made reading part of the rhythm of our home.

With their innate curiosity and creative problem-solving, children are natural storytellers. In our house, we’ve been capturing our kids’ stories and making books from them for several years. They needn’t be fancy; most of the time our tools are just some paper and crayons. And this is a project you can complete with kids of any age:

For toddlers and preschoolers

Even our earliest talkers have big ideas. When my daughters were very young, I’d interview them with a series of two-choice questions and a few open-ended ones, like this: “do you want to make a story about a princess or a monster? Okay, a monster. A girl monster or boy monster or something else? A boy monster! Does he have one head or more heads? More! How many?” And so on.

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