Tea Time with Annie Kate Rotating Header Image

Kids’ Books, Creativity, and the 20 Percent Rule

I love kids’ books, especially picture books and nonfiction.  In fact, I’m convinced there’s no better way to learn the fundamentals of anything than to check out books from the children’s section of the library.

Not only do you learn the basics of your topic without having to wade through the politics and posturing of most adult nonfiction, but you also get good pictures.

Like this gorgeous cover of a book about Google, for example.  I had no special feelings about Google one way or another, but this looks like a display of embroidery floss skeins.  I just had to share it with my family.

And then, of course I ‘had’ to read it, and came across a great idea, probably based on the well-known 80/20 rule:

“Every week, the software engineers at Google are encouraged to set aside their pressing projects for one day and focus on creative ideas of their own instead.  It’s known as the 20% rule and has helped launch several of Google’s best-known products and services.”

This is a prime example of how to get creativity flowing, and reflects how, long ago, employees of companies such as General Electric used to win Nobel Prizes—give a creative person time, encouragement, and freedom, and you’ll get results. Or, in this case, allow a Mama some free time, and she gets inspired by possibilities.

There is a message here for homeschoolers as well:

Moms need to take time just to explore and follow their own rabbit trails; I use that time to write, go for nature walks, and read fun books like The Power of Habit, 168 Hours, Life of Fred Calculus, and, recently, Switch, as well as occasional fluff novels, and kids’ books like The Story of Google.  Some of my friends craft, sing, or play disc golf.  All of these activities add joy and sparkle to our thoughts, and, by extension, to our homeschools and our homes.

Kids need the same:  time to be free of time constraints (and electronic devices) just to play with ice, read fat books, strum a guitar, copy Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, develop codes, write stories, go for long walks, make chocolates, and put lace collars on their pet rooster. Yes, even the lace collars!

According to various experts, most learning happens when people are deeply involved in their topic.  Perhaps, then, we could get 80% of homeschool results by allowing our children that 20% of free creative time, just like Google does.  Of course, we need the 80% of focussed, diligent, assigned learning as well, but free time is crucial.  And that is where homeschooling shines—it gives children more precious hours in each day. 

—For more inspiration, visit The Carnival of Homeschooling, Trivium Tuesdays,  Better Mom Monday, Encourage One Another Wednesday, Women Living Well Wednesdays, Works For Me Wednesday , Wisdom Wednesdays, and Raising Homemakers.


  1. I believe that lessons learned during play and everyday moments are the ones that are remembered the best! 🙂

  2. Jenn says:

    Excellent thoughts! I, too, like children’s books. I agree with them needing free time, especially from devices!

  3. JoAnn says:

    I agree completely that we all need free, creative time. Though I’m not quite sure about lace collars on a rooster. 🙂 lol

  4. Annie Kate says:

    Well, I’m excited about the free time we’re planning next week! And the celebration of our Lord’s birth, of course.

  5. Amy says:

    Thanks for the encouragement to allow time for creativity. Probably my only creative outlet right now is blogging, but hopefully as my kids get older we can share some creative experiences!

    We’ve been enjoying our library lately too!

    Thanks for sharing this with us at Trivium Tuesdays!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *