We've been working (a little bit more than usual at least) to really LISTEN to our children this month. And while we haven't yet had our camping trip or craft-time, we've been taking more time for walks and games and reading stories together. Along that vein, I thought I'd share a few of our favorite "tools" for spending time with, and listening to our kids.
(Although the truth is that anything or nothing can work. Simply time together, and not fancy books or games - that's the key, as we're discovering).Sleeping Queens. We have some awesome friends in Iraq who sent us this game two years ago or so. It's still holding strong as Jayci's favorite game of all time. I will say that it was written by a seven year old, and some of the rules feel like that. For example, you can put a queen to sleep with a sleeping potion or stop your queen from being put to sleep with a wand. You cannot have both the cat queen and dog queen because they will fight like cats and dogs, and if you pick up the rose queen you automatically get to pick up another queen. The litany of "rules" was a little overwhelming at first, but once we got the hang of it, Sleeping Queens quickly became a family favorite!
Conversation book: Q and A a Day for Kids: A Three-Year Journal. If we're honest, there's absolutely no way that we will remember to ask a question and record our answers every single day for three years straight. Y'all know us. However, this book continues to be a great little tool to pick up and ask Jayci (or the kiddos!) some questions, whenever we remember. I try to keep things low-pressure, low-expectation around here. It works for us. Plus, I keep thinking how fun it will be to compare answers to the same questions over the years, provided we don't lose the book.
Absolute favorite bedtime (or anytime) story-book: The Jesus Storybook Bible. We have been reading this to Jayci ever since she was an infant. In fact, Adam used to read the stories out loud to Jayci while I nursed her before she went to sleep. Tear. Also, who has that kind of time/energy these days? Not me. Confession: we fight a little bit over which one of us has to put Jayci to bed. And when Adam does it, he falls asleep with her every single time. We are crazy like that. Another confession: we do still read Jayci at least one story every single night, not always from the Bible though.
Learning-to-read tool: BOB Books: Sight Words. I picked these up at Costco a couple weeks ago, and Jayci LOVES reading them to us. It's painfully slow-going (particularly during said-dreaded-bedtime), but she is getting better and it really is a joy to watch her discovering how to read! These are easy to follow, and she's been picking up on them well . . . Proud mama, sorry. Another tip: We "pay" (a very little amount) one of the fourth grade boys in our neighborhood to read these (and other simple books) to Jayci. That way, he gets some remedial reading work in (she helps him sound out the words sometimes), but doesn't feel embarrassed about having to read "baby" books. Double-win.