Quite a while ago, I began one of MY FAVORITE summertime traditions...Discovery Quiet Time. As has been said, "Necessity is the mother of invention." One afternoon it became quite obvious that my kiddos...who were too old for naps, needed a bit of quiet...ALONE...time. And really, doesn't everyone? I am a natural extrovert, but even I need a little piece of solitude each day to refresh...regroup...renew!
And so, our daily Discovery Quiet Time was born. I filled a basket with all kinds of "discovery" type books, magazines, and learning games. And then, laid down the quiet time rules.
- Pick two items from the basket.
- Find a relaxing spot somewhere in the house. You can not be in the same room as anyone else.
- Sit quietly with your two items for the allotted time.
- No talking.
Although these rules might seem rather rigid, there is a lot of FREEDOM in these simple restrictions.
The first time I introduced our Discovery Quiet Time, the kids were a little skeptical. The thought of being by themselves and being quiet for ANY length of time seemed like a drudgery. But, at the end of ten minutes, I announced that they could put their books/games back into the Discovery basket and I heard, "Can I have a few more minutes?" coming from several different rooms.
My oldest two kiddos, especially, love this time of day when they can pull out a few activities with smaller parts and pieces and know that little hands won't sneak in and scatter/destroy their creative efforts.
When we first began this daily habit, I set a timer for 10 minutes. But each day, I was able to extend the time a bit longer. Some days find my littles enjoying over a half hour of solitude. As I had hoped, they pack their discovery items away and return to group activities with renewed appreciation for one another.
As an added benefit, my children are able to explore several new topics of interest that we would not otherwise have the time to study. I try to replace the basket items every week or so, giving the kids enough time to peruse through each and every item or focus on one or two at length. Although I place a few of our own books and activities in the basket, most come from the library and are purposefully selected to expand upon a current topic of interest or introduce a new one. (We just acquired a pet fish, so learning about aquatic life and sea animals has been a huge area of intrigue.) They may pick any two items, but usually gravitate to the same two choices each day.
Blonde Warrior and Greased Lightning can not read, but a thoughtful selection of beautifully illustrated books can captivate even non-readers. Currently, you'll find a few books on the inner workings of the body, The Action Bible (Sweetie Pea), a field guide and a small collection of rocks, a few books on fish and fish habitats (Super Boy), a box of dominoes, Big Backyard Magazines (Blonde Warrior), magnetic balls/links, and Eyewitness-type books about trucks and trains (Greased Lightening).
In addition to great non-fiction books, other worthwhile items for our Discovery Quiet Time include:
• pictorial flashcards of presidents, states/capitals, global landmarks
• Sunday school verse packs
• decks of cards
• field guides
• magnifying glass or other scientific instruments
• activity pads
• how to draw-type books with art paper and pencils
• letter writing materials
• handwork/all-inclusive craft kits
This daily routine has proven especially helpful during the summer months when our days are filled with lots of physical activity, outdoor adventures, and a more relaxed schedule. It provides a mid-day retreat for both the kids...and THE MOMMA!
For more information on establishing a quiet time in your home, be sure to visit:
Habits for a Happy Home-excellent series on quiet time for all ages
Toddler Approved-great ideas for transitioning out of nap time and into quiet time
For a few activity ideas to get you started, check out: