STEAM Homeschool Group: Updates from “your friendly neighborhood librarian”

Hello, hello!

I hope everyone had an amazing summer! The Children’s Librarians had a splash with our theme: OCEANS OF POSSIBILITIES! But now it’s back to school. Speaking of school… today, I’m sharing some homeschool updates.

As you probably know from my previous blog entries, I host a homeschool group for the families in the community of Sumner County Tennessee, in connection with the Hendersonville Public Library of Tennessee, where I work as a Children’s Librarian.

Working as a Children’s Librarian, and having a professional history of childcare and homeschool education, I knew I wanted to create a program that would provide a safe environment for homeschool families while keeping money in their pockets. I’m other words: FREE. But, what exactly was it that these families were looking for?

I started brainstorming.

I took polls.

I asked people in our community what they needed. What they wanted.

And after some heavy research, I came to a decision. I wanted to create a Homeschool Group where families could relax, cross collaborate, talk freely, and share information and kids could connect, make friends, and learn in a fun natural way, free of forced group activities, time restrictions, or formatted rules. I wanted a hands on learning experience that was child driven. I wanted a STEAM Homeschool Group!

In December of 2021, STEAM Homeschool Group was just a bright shimmering dream. And in January 2022, it became a reality! Of course, no one showed up for that very first meeting. Starting a new program takes time to build members. And besides, January is too cold! Nobody wants to start something new in the wintertime. But, little by little we grew in number.

Fast forward a few months to August 2022.

I’m happy to announce that our monthly meet for August, 2022, we had a jaw-dropping 40 homeschool family members join us for our STEAM Homeschool Group!

The kids had a wonderful time exploring the STEAM tables and the parents were thrilled to pick up their free school books and resources. From our free resource corner, we had pre-packed leveled readers, vocabulary readers, educational honor book packs (science and social studies), and teacher handbooks with corresponding homework and lesson plans. Several appreciative families expressed their gratitude for the provisions provided by the Hendersonville Public Library of Tennessee.

All in all, it was a fantastic day! We’re looking forward to our next monthly meet. If you’d like to find out how to sign up, please visit our the Hendersonville Public Library of Sumner County page on Facebook.

Thanks for reading and happy homeschool wishes!

To stay up to date with me, your friendly neighborhood librarian, you can follow my Instagram page at: chelseasworldofbooks

How to Write Picture Books – AND STAY SANE!

06.17.2022

Chelsea Radojcic-DiCicco

Going from this

“AAHHHH!”

to this

“Aaaah.”

I think there’s a lot that can be said for people who are on the picture book path and have been for a while. Navigating the picture book world is like travelling down a road of potholes, and signs pointing in every direction. There are a million different routes your can take. And it can be intimidating, overwhelming, scary, and tiring. Sometimes, it feels like we’re drowning in endless options and crippling self-doubt! Fortunately, we aren’t quitters!

Navigating the picture book world is like travelling down a road of potholes, and signs pointing in every direction!

How do I know this? Because the hurdles upon hurdles, the always-changing pace, the fickle as a pickle market, and the unpredictability of times haven’t deterred us from continuing down this road. Some say madness. I prefer passionate. And really, to be successful in the ways that count, you have to be passionate about what you’re doing. What do I mean by successful in ways that count? Well, that really depends on how you view success. What does success mean to you? Money? Power? Freedom? Recognition? Whatever it is, you must have passion to reach it. And I’m convinced there isn’t a single picture book writer out there, who has been at this for years, that doesn’t have that passion. And guess what. Good news! Passion is KEY!

But, passion with no outlets can be exhausting. So, I ask you, how do you write picture books and stay sane? I think it’s imperative that when doing something that you love, at your full 100%, you must also be able to balance that with time to unwind. Because going at 100% nonstop, can be draining. Eventually, you will overload. And when that time comes, you must be willing to walk away. Because, just like a car’s engine needs to be parked and rested, so does your engine. But, what if you refuse to stop? Well… you might just end up like this car. Overheated!

Just like a car’s engine needs to be parked and rested, so does your engine.

But hopefully you won’t let things get this far. So, how can you avoid the overheating point? Well, a few things I find that help are setting boundaries and knowing my personal limits. These are both CRUCIAL for maintaining sanity- and avoiding overheating! (Oh, and caffeine. Did I mention that already?) But, seriously. Boundaries and limits!

BOUNDARIES

Set boundaries for yourself.

So, my writing boundaries. Firstly, I have a writing office. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you write in a basement, during free time at work, on lunch breaks. Maybe you write when your kids are asleep, when you’re husband is working, when your roommate is out of the house. Or maybe you write from a hammock. If you do, props to you; it sounds like you’re living your best life! Whatever the situation, having a space that is yours, and yours only, is a good boundary to have. If you don’t have a designated spot- find one. It could be a closet, outside under a tree, on a speedboat with Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron- it doesn’t matter- but find one.

Have a space that is yours!

Having a space to your own is not to say that you can’t write elsewhere. What it does, however, is give you a designated area to create. Which can be increasingly helpful to your sanity. And next, making sure that you know your limits.

LIMITS

Know your limits!

What are your limits? What does that even mean? I’m not talking about speed limits. Although sometimes speed comes into play. But that’s a different topic. I’m talking about knowing yourself. If you’re pushing yourself to a point that you are no longer enjoying your work- that’s not working within your limits. Writing should never be a place of confined, mandatory restriction. It should be a happy place of creative freedom. If you are demanding too much out of yourself and pushing your limits to a point of frustration, not only are you going to be unhappy but guess what- your writing will suffer. Yeah. You heard me right. Your writing will suffer! There’s a scene in Toy Story 2 where Woody is getting fixed up by Geri, an antique cleaner. And if you haven’t already seen this and aren’t interested in watching the full movie, I highly recommend watching it HERE because it is just *chef’s kiss* GOLD.

“You can’t rush art!”

Geri is taking his time, situating himself with his tools that he’s about to use to clean and fix Woody.

Al says to Geri, “So, uh, how long is this going take?”

And Geri says, with a wag of the finger, “You can’t rush art!”

There’s a lot of truth in this statement. When you push yourself to write in an unnatural or uncomfortable state, the work is never your best. So, remember to be kind to yourself. Give yourself the time and space you need to find your creative rhythm. And once your mojo kicks in, write, write, write!

But, what if you can’t write? You feel zero inspiration. You’re tired. You’re staring at the page, and nothing is coming to you. CHANGE THE SCENERY. Taking a walk, doing some light exercise, or getting lost in a favorite binge tv-show can help give your brain a break. Again- forcing yourself to be creative isn’t how it works. Creativity is a natural thing that comes at its own pace. But how can you encourage creativity?

Read, read, read. Reading stimulates our natural curiosity and encourages creative brain flow! Read books in your genre that are new in the market. Go to the library. Bring a notebook with you! Jot down ideas you like. Ask yourself, “Why do I like this? What about it stands out?” And brainstorm how you could implement things into your own writing. Ideas are contagious. When we let others in, it inspires our own.

So, what am I rambling about anyway? Well, this morning, I read a fellow writer’s new blog post and walked away saying, “Ah, that was encouraging.” And do you know what my next thought was? “I want to encourage someone!” IDEAS ARE CONTAGIOUS- INSPIRATION FOLLOWS. And that’s really what it’s all about.

Now, encouragement. Why do writer’s need encouragement? Well, everyone needs encouragement from time to time. It’s healthy and natural to both give and receive encouragement. But, why might a writer need encouragement more than some? Well, being in the writing business, unlike other jobs in an office where you’re surrounded by co-workers and smiling faces, for a writer, it can often be a solitary affair. So, encouragement comes in handy. Having your writing community in your corner, your supporters, your critique partners, your friends, your family, your “fans” can help you get by and make it to that next milestone.

Speaking of milestones, here we go.

What are your goals?

What milestones do you hope to achieve?

And have you been able to?

If so, congratulations! If not, don’t fret. Just continue down the road until you get there, and sooner or later, I have faith you will. I believe in you- you should too! And sometimes, it can be tough. The waiting. The pushing. The hope. The letdowns. When I find myself losing courage, I like to think of Jane Eyre.

“Renewing then my courage, and gathering my feeble remains of strength, I pushed on.” -Charlotte Bronte

Remember,

“Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts.” – Albert Einstein

And another one of my favorites…

“You never fail until you stop trying.”

Cliché, perhaps. But that doesn’t make the statements any less true! There is, after all, a reason that clichés exist! So, this is my brief cheerleader speech for today. If you’re writing picture books, or NOT pictures books- it could be anything- DON’T GIVE UP!

So, in conclusion to my ramble, I just want to remind you that you are loved, and awesome, and incredible, and most likely a total 10, the whole shebang, the greatest thing since sliced bread, the apple of someone’s eye, all that and a bag of chips. Remember, to stay sane in the writing world, 1. Give yourself boundaries. And 2. Know your limits!

Love you all!

XO,

CHELSEA RADOJCIC-DICICCO

Launch day! December 15th 2021: ADHD AND ME CLASSROOM EDITION

Hello, friends!

Today is a very exciting day. That is because today is the scheduled release of a special edition of ADHD and Me titled ADHD and Me: Classroom Edition. ADHD and Me: Classroom Edition is designed to be used by educators grades K-3rd.

About the story:

ADHD and Me and was inspired by a true story and told from the perspective of an eight-year-old girl named Malory. Throughout the story, Malory shares observations of others around her in school and at home while also navigating her own feelings. At the end of the book, there is a message from “Malory” addressing parents, caregivers, and educators.

Why is this book so important for children and schools?

Statistics show that more than 60% of children who have been diagnosed with ADHD are also treated for other mental disorders. Many people also contend with addictive disorders, engage in self-harm or struggle with learning disabilities. There are many areas that ADHD can affect a person’s mental health.

Four common areas are:

  • Depression
  • Social anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Low self-esteem

Depression can drain your energy. Social anxiety can make it difficult to make friends or interact in group settings. Insomnia can result in poor mental or physical performance. And low self-esteem can lead to loneliness.

A child should never have to face these things alone! Who is in the prime position to help children and students who may be struggling with these emotional needs? You guessed it- PARENTS AND EDUCATORS ARE IN THE PRIME POSTION TO HELP STUDENTS WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH THESE EMOTIONAL NEEDS! So, how can we, as parents and teachers, do this? By providing our children and students with four key things:

  • A healthy support system
  • Encouragement to boost their self-esteem
  • Open communication
  • And creative outlets

This NEW RELEASE special edition of ADHD and Me: Classroom Edition is fully equipped with questions and discussion points to help children establish healthy boundaries, boost self-esteem, identify support systems, and discover creative outlets.

Teacher Perks

In addition to the launch of ADHD and Me Classroom Edition, also available on my website are FREE DOWNLOADABLE LESSON PLANS for grades K-3rd. These interactive lesson plans coincide with the story and include homework, games, questions, social projects, and much more! This curriculum was created to help educate and inspire positive emotional stimulations, social engagement, creative thinking, and group as well as individual problem-solving and is designed to be used in a classroom setting. So, what are you waiting for? Download your free lesson plans today!

Purchase your classroom copy today HERE.