Small Wins Wednesday: Every day is a step in the right direction

Published by Lori Pickert on March 5, 2014 at 06:44 AM

Making lace fans

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Every Wednesday we’re going to share a small win from the forumTwitter, the Facebook page, or (with the writer’s permission) from the mail bag.


I think in all honesty, what really works wonders is when I chill out. When I’m relaxed and enjoying the process, my kids are, too. I just get so (insert adjective) nervous/anxious/fidgety/uncertain about getting from point A to point B and I have to remind myself it’s the getting there that matters. Every day is a step in the right direction. I loved the blog posts about working time in and setting goals. That helps a lot.

I used your insights this past weekend. Our family is very musical (one of our values). Since taking your class, I cleared out a much bigger and less cluttered and quite frankly beautiful area in our main living room for our instruments and really showcased everything. I can’t tell you how many evenings we now spend in that happy corner with me on the guitar and my girls with their violin/guitar/piano singing their lungs out.


Last week, we were wandering around a Bluegrass festival when one of my 5 year olds saw this beautiful lace fan. She wanted to buy it. I suggested we make our own.


I helped them search YouTube and they spent 30 minutes watching and re-watching a video and taking meticulous notes on all the items we would need for these fans. By involving them in the very beginning all the way through to completion, they did find so much more meaning in the process.


We even started writing a children’s book together. My thought is I will let them drive the whole process, find publishers, send letters, get rejected and move on to the next step. Today they suggested asking our librarian if we could read it at story hour. How are these kids so smart? And how did I not realize how smart they are? — Maria, from the mailbag


Why do we share small wins? Because we put on our attention on what we want to grow. We support each other, celebrate each other’s successes, and we do everything we can do make more of the good stuff!

Have you had a small win this week, whether it’s related to PBH or not? Please share in the comments!

Music corner


Comment by kirstenf on March 5, 2014 at 08:00 AM

My small win this week: everyone is always talking about playing games, and the fact that they're great way for children to learn. The theory is great! But my 6yo HATES playing games. The last week or so I've been trying to get them to play 10-snap - where you get a snap if the cards add to 10 - to try to get his number bonds to 10 firmly into his head. It's fun! But he hates it. He throws every card down with a shout of "BORING". And if he realises the game is not going his way and he's not going to win, there's trouble.

Yesterday we played a couple of times, and then I said "why don't we play it one more time, but this time like this..." and started making up a new version. He quickly jumped on it and started making up his own rules - and made up a brilliant game! Much more about strategy than just basic snap, but still providing the same (well, better) learning experience.

What I learned: that if he comes up with the game, he'll love doing it, AND he'll build in the learning himself.

Of course, I already knew that. So what I really learned AGAIN was... trust...

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 5, 2014 at 08:12 AM


if he comes up with the game, he'll love doing it, AND he'll build in the learning himself.

love it.

i literally JUST wrote in the small wins forum:

whenever i read those posts about “let your picky eaters cook the food and they’ll happily eat it,” i think: yes, and it works with education, too! ;D


Comment by kirstenf on March 5, 2014 at 08:20 AM

It's so true!

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 5, 2014 at 09:23 AM

this ties into what i’m writing about on friday — WHY don’t more parents get their kids involved in their own education? earlier … or AT ALL?! it’s a mystery to me.

Comment by morinda on March 5, 2014 at 03:09 PM

I'm looking forward to your post. Since I've started homeschooling I can't help wondering why more parents don't do it. And I wonder WHY I didn't just homeschool from the start since it's how I approached preschool, and it felt so natural, why did I just go along with convention and send my twins to kindergarden even though it didn't feel right? I can't get that year back but I am SO glad we are home/un/hack/project-schooling now (1st grade).

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 5, 2014 at 03:54 PM

congratulations on homeschooling — it is a great lifestyle! :)

even if parents don’t homeschool, though, they could still get their kids involved in their own learning life and education so much earlier — talking about dreams, investing in interests and strengths…

Comment by tmorgan on March 5, 2014 at 08:54 AM

I spent two hours mostly following my toddler son around the museum yesterday. (Mostly = everywhere but emergency exits and exhibits under installation.) Our first visit without the stroller. Discovered a few things tucked in corners I had never been to. I was amazed at the things he was really interested in and let him stay as long as he liked. We had such a good time and renewed our membership.

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 5, 2014 at 09:22 AM

yay! :)

Comment by Kerry on March 5, 2014 at 11:37 AM

I always loved following the littlest ones around when mine were that young. It's so neat to see what catches their eye. I remember taking my son for a walk and we ended up spending half an hour watching the rain water cut rivers into the dirt road. After that, he had to be outside every time, or shortly after, it rained.

Comment by Sarah M on March 5, 2014 at 09:37 AM

One of my kids is constantly offering up genius answers to problems. He's 6. He's what I call my 'solutions manager', and I have no doubt this skill will grow and develop beautifully as he gets older. I am constantly amazed at what he comes up with.
Sarah M

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 5, 2014 at 09:49 AM


Comment by Michelle on March 5, 2014 at 10:57 AM

I've been having some big personal wins lately, and I'm watching my kids grow and have their own wins as I give them space to find their own. BUT ...

The environment stuff. Ugh, it's been stressing me out.
So this week we declared a vacation from required work and are doing some spring cleaning. There was a huge whining tantrum this morning when I said we need to go through the stuff in the "school work" cart. We actually were given a new, larger cart that will work better in that space, so we needed to transfer everything to the new one. The 6yo haaaaaates going through her stuff, so that started out fun. My 10yo went through her art drawer, then I got a phone call. Well, while I was on the phone, the 6yo got curious, then did her drawer all on her own without my help or prodding. Huge pile for recycling!

It's all organized now, PLUS the old cart can be used for Lego storage now. BONUS!

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 5, 2014 at 03:01 PM

sweet! :D

i love coasting into spring with nice, clean spaces — wish someone would come do mine for me. :P

Comment by Kerry on March 5, 2014 at 11:31 AM

Love the music area!

I've been focusing on our environment too. While clearing kitchen cupboards for my husband's beer brewing supplies, so he can move his project out of the garage and basement, (!yeah!) I realized that I've unintentionally discouraged the make believe play my kids love, by putting all the toys upstairs in the play room. I figured it was their toys so they'd travel to play with them and bring stuff down once in a while if they wanted to be with everyone. I'm planning to find and bring down the building toys, costumes and dress up (for the movies they love to make) and dolls, or at least find a basket for the dolls since my youngest has already brought those down. To make room for them all in the family room, we've been removing the books, movies and board games we don't love, and the novels will go to the bedroom bookshelves since most of the readers read in bed.

I love this series Lori!

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 5, 2014 at 04:28 PM

heart of the home <3

and thank you, kerry — me too! :D

Comment by sarah pj on March 5, 2014 at 12:09 PM

A few weeks ago, my 3 year old pretended to go to Mars and "found a Martian" to bring home. She started telling everyone that her Dad was replaced by the Martian (named Glarbflap) and will correct anyone who calls him something else. This has been going on for almost a month, and other than it being very funny, I couldn't figure out where she was going with it. And then two things dawned on me - first is that he's her imaginary friend, but one that she and everyone else can see. Second is that she spends a lot of time showing and telling Glarbflap how things work on earth. She's cementing her understanding of our world and culture by teaching it to her Martian!

So my small win is that lightbulb coming on and illuminating why having Glarbflap is so important to her. Luckily, Glarbflap has the same career as my husband on Mars, so he won't be fired, leaving us all on the street. This means he can stay as long as she needs him to. :D

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 5, 2014 at 04:29 PM

She's cementing her understanding of our world and culture by teaching it to her Martian!

i love this so much — it’s totally makes sense that as the youngest, she needed someone SHE could teach things to. :)

Comment by Amesserer on March 5, 2014 at 12:48 PM

help - what if I get out of the way and they go nowhere? day after day? i keep introducing, hoping something will inspire...instead they are bored, still hate "school days." i've read the book, the blog...can anyone relate?
thanks for any helpful feedback

Comment by amyiannone on March 5, 2014 at 02:53 PM

what would they rather be doing instead of "school?"

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 5, 2014 at 04:05 PM


we will turn this into a small win for you today. :)

1. please join the forum! i’m about to give you some links to explore. and we can help you more easily there (and track your progress!).

2. rather than you introducing and trying to inspire, try paying close attention to what they choose to do in their free time, to what they would spend their money on, and so on — therein lie the clues to their authentic interests! once you find them, you can extend and support them.

3. are you journaling? mindful listening and observing might also help you uncover some of their questions, interests, and ideas. lots of journaling links in #4 here:

and actually, that whole list might help you get back on track!

4. when you get in the forum, try this thread first:

then start your own thread and we will be happy to help you!

Comment by dawn on March 5, 2014 at 12:59 PM

my son (6) is not inclined to color, particularly with crayons or colored pencils. he says, "it's too hard" and will collapse at home or school when the opportunity (or task) suggests (or requires) coloring. it's just not been fun for him.

i've known for a while that he much prefers to draw and write when he can use dry erase markers on a clean white board.

he's currently into creating the Disney Pixar Cars & Cars 2 characters out of LEGO. some from sets, but mostly by his own design from the LEGO pieces we have available.

this morning, on a whim, I thought to pull out some coloring sheets we had obtained a while back. they are small (1/4 size of regular paper), clean, black-on-white designs of lots of those characters he loves. i wordlessly laid the stack next to him as he was lining up his cars for a new race. the drawings caught his eye, and he immediately started sifting through them, identifying (to me) each character and location. he then pulled one, took it to his "work table" and started coloring it in with the small markers i laid beside the stack. he selected one color for each vehicle, ignoring the remainder of each drawing. he invited me to color with him, which i did. we commented on how much we liked each other's work. he even said to me once, "this is hard work" but did not miss a beat. he continued for several more pictures. i offered to put them up on a wall of the living room for everyone to see and he arranged them to his liking.

boom! a success! no tears, no worries, just art that worked for him. that works for me, too.

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 5, 2014 at 04:07 PM


does he only prefer drawing with the whiteboard? i wonder if we could brainstorm some materials that would inspire him to draw more!

Comment by dawn on March 6, 2014 at 09:47 AM

no, sometimes he will draw with a pencil on white paper. or maybe on paper with a sharpie (he's a kindred spirit of yours in that way). it's easier for him to draw if the paper is up on the wall rather than on a flat table. for dry-erase boards, we have them in several easy-to-carry sizes so he can take them along. he'll put them on the floor and draw while hovering over, or lean them up on his knees while he is sitting.

i really think he likes the feel of the resistance of dry-erase markers on the board. it's smooth and he can make lines flow easily. chalk and crayon are unpleasant for him to touch, and he will use them, but they are the last things he chooses. colored pencils take too long to fill in a space. he likes rollerball pens, too, but the points are so fine he tends to punch through the paper.

dry-erase is easily changed, too, if he makes a mistake or wants to try again. not so with no. 2 pencils :( if it's sharpie, though, he has no problem just scratching it out, knowing that mistakes can be worked into the art or just ignored.

he now loves the feeling of finger paints. he'll eagerly participate if i have it set up and invite him, but it is such an involved process to clean up that he rarely has the patience for more than a few minutes. ha also likes to play with shaving cream and uses a whole can during bathtime, either making sculptures or drawing in it on the tub wall.

he tells me he doesn't really like doing art at school. there's so much cutting and pasting and writing and coloring, and i've seen firsthand how he is told to use more colors when he really would prefer to use just one. i think he has a simple, uncluttered style. at home, he once painted an entire piece of paper in red. i asked him what he called it. his answer: volcano. when i looked closely, i could see all the variation in texture he made with his brushes and hands and fingers. i could see his vision clearly. but to others, it is considered underdeveloped or immature. but that's school-related and i don't want to go down that road too far. i could definitely use ideas of materials to have available and inviting at home.

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 6, 2014 at 10:25 AM


chalk and crayon are unpleasant for him to touch, and he will use them, but they are the last things he chooses. colored pencils take too long to fill in a space.

i wonder if he would like oil pastels. they are creamier, have bright & vivid colors, and you can color a large area quickly.

if it weren’t so expensive, i bet he would like drawing on the wacom tablet that my son uses for cartooning. :) has he tried any of the drawing apps? some of them are amazing!

at home, he once painted an entire piece of paper in red. i asked him what he called it. his answer: volcano. when i looked closely, i could see all the variation in texture he made with his brushes and hands and fingers. i could see his vision clearly.


i could definitely use ideas of materials to have available and inviting at home.

here are some of those!


Comment by ananemone on March 5, 2014 at 10:02 PM

I wonder why he likes the whiteboard better? Maybe it's the erasable ness of it, to not be connected to permanent drawings, or something? Or it could be the feel...

Comment by Karen on March 5, 2014 at 01:54 PM

Small wins keep our family moving forward. Every night before bed the boys share their favourite things to remind themselves and us of the brilliance you can find in the smallest of things. Recently we started a 'good news/small wins' wall. We started sticking Post-It notes to a designated wall in our home with good news/small wins. It's filling up fast! Our small win is recognizing the small wins!

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 5, 2014 at 02:07 PM

love love the wall idea! :)

Comment by amyiannone on March 5, 2014 at 03:14 PM

My small win, or big win actually, is that I have stopped yelling at my kids. I learned, after a particularly bad day, of a website called the orange rhino. I think the simple thing that helped me the most is to write down my triggers, with my children, so that they knew why I was getting so angry. Also, we went through the list of alternatives to yelling and found them amusing, but helpful.

Since then, there has been a continuous harmony that I really haven't seen before. My youngest is less explosive, my oldest is more patient and they both are getting more helpful about cleaning up. Today they have been playing with their playmobil-sized village all day. They are selling real estate to each other, having snow storms, making books for the library, pretending the castle is the's been endless. The stories are getting more complicated because they can stand to be together for longer.

So that's it, I stopped doing something I should never have been doing in the first place. (sigh)

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 5, 2014 at 03:52 PM

that is a huge win, though. :) congratulations!

Comment by Kerry on March 5, 2014 at 04:04 PM

Congrats, that's an awesome win! My son and I have to watch it, we fuel each others outbursts if we aren't careful. Talking about it, acknowledging the triggers, and apologizing but not shaming ourselves for them, has helped a lot.

Comment by janet on March 6, 2014 at 10:19 AM

lori, love this spotlight on process!

Maria, your music space is awesome! i've done something similar by creating a dual purpose space in our family room, not by adding things, but by keeping it simple. it's a big room without a lot of wall space, lots of windows and doors, the wood stove, the dogs. a small apartment sofa, one comfy chair, and a sturdy area rug (and sometimes a bean bag) are all we have for furniture. i can move the sofa to enjoy the sunshine, the view, the warmth from the stove, or to make space for a paper snowball fight. it's a bring-your-own-adventure room. every time we do something new in the space it's a small win.

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 6, 2014 at 12:21 PM


thank you, janet!

love the mental picture of the “bring-your-own-adventure room” :)

Comment by marlojen on March 6, 2014 at 12:41 PM

My small win for the day is that I kept trying. When I could see no small wins happening, I let that be okay. And acknowledged that this probably wasn't even actually true. And took a breath. And got centered. And listened to the people around me. I listened to my kids. I listened to my friends. I just stayed put and listened and heard them.

And at the end of long day, there were sweet bedside chats and giggly snuggles with kids.

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 6, 2014 at 12:51 PM

win :)

Comment by mfrei on March 6, 2014 at 02:21 PM

Thanks for posting Lori! Small wins are so important. I almost wonder if you should also have a blog post occasionally entitled, "Master of the Obvious: PBH'ers Share Tales of Obvious Enlightenment". Mine would be: Anything you deem as "bad" your kids will automatically want. For me, it's screens. I'm trying to reform my perspective on them.

In that vein, tell me more about WACOM. Which tools do you recommend for the budding artists? My boys are obsessed with screens and love to draw. I think a tool like that could really foster some cool creative thinking. The web site is pretty overwhelming though. Can you give some specifics?


Comment by Lori Pickert on March 6, 2014 at 03:57 PM


hahaha that would be awesome, but i wonder if as many people would volunteer? ;D

Anything you deem as "bad" your kids will automatically want. For me, it's screens. 

that made me think of this:

Many parents approach the subject of screen time — or other kid activities they don’t like, like reading comic books — by placing a strong limit on it. They say to their child, “We want our lives to be lovely and full of all the good things, so we are cramming all the stuff you love that we don’t like into this sliver.”

The child hears, “Blah blah blah, you love the sliver.” — The Sliver, or How to stop fighting about screen time


re: the wacom tablet, my son has this one:

i’m not really familiar with everything they offer, although when we were researching, we found a lot of great information on artists’ sites and youtube tutorials.

he uses the wacom to do digital artwork and illustrations, including one of his online comics you can see here:

he still draws with pencil/pen and paper, and he illustrates another comic with ink and brush:

those have to be scanned in and then touched up using a program like photoshop or sketchbook.

if you are creating illustrations that you want to use or share online, the tablet is great — you can create and share immediately.

just learning to use the tablet was a great experience and involved a lot of new knowledge and skills, and then of course he had to learn how to use the scanner and the other programs. i’m actually working on a blog post updating his comic project (started about eight years ago!) and talking about some of this.

Comment by broadwayakjrt on March 7, 2014 at 12:03 AM

I'm a day late in this forum...but a small win for us has been the journal...the watching and listening and recording. We are very busy - three boys running, husband works away, small town, and caring for extended family...
This week has been an eye opener for me not to just plough through book work to get onto the "next" thing. It hasn't gone perfect (ie-missing three days of journaling), but practicing.

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 7, 2014 at 07:45 AM

yay! :)

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