Saturday, January 7, 2017

Bright Beginngs Update

The holidays are over! Hooray! As fun as they are, I think everyone can agree the holiday season is also crazy busy and stressful. Now that it is over though I have a break to share some of the new things were trying and enjoying. I'm determined that we will have a more regular school schedule as well as daily routine. Obviously I have resolutions for the new year ;-)

There were a few months when it was difficult to find time to sit down with Babycake and go over our lessons. She was still regularly taking naps and they lined up with Buddyboy's. However, when they would both be awake, Buddyboy (who has no slow mode) couldn't be distracted in order to get in a 5-20 min lesson with Babycake. Now, Buddyboy still doesn't have a slow mode, but he can be content to sit and try painting, play-doh, stickers,or sorting shapes for 5-10 min giving Babycake and I enough time to go over together what the lesson for the day is and allows me to sit with them both and share in the excitement of discovery.

Babycake with her spelling puzzles
Buddyboy sorting shapes in no particular order
Babycake playing math game
Buddyboy with Play-Doh

As I've mentioned before in previous posts, Babycake became frustrated with furthering our Bob Books reading. So for x-mas she received some Leap Frog Tag books and a Tag pen. The pen will read the simple books to the child as well as define words and play games. This has been a real hit as she likes to be independent, and I get a break from needing to entertain while at the same time she's getting a little education. I wouldn't go so far as to say these books are teaching Babycake how to read, but they do show that to read you go from right to left, and she is able to recognize a few words after pointing to them and hearing  it read to her. 

I also received "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" as an x-mas gift which I hope will help in our reading goals. So far we've done the first two lessons and flew through them. Babycake was happy to do them because she received praise for doing well. Since they are the first to lessons, they are incredibly basic and she already knew the material. I'm hoping that as the lessons progress and build she won't realize the get slightly more difficult and she continues to enjoy them.

And finally Babycake received some games by The Learning Journey Company that we really enjoy. Last year she received the Math game and we've really enjoyed it for math lessons as well as a rainy or cold day activity. So she was very excited to receive more games. The games are simple enough that she can do them on her own yet she learns at the same time. I also like that they are games/puzzles so she will let me, or her dad play with her every once in a while.

So needless to say, I'm hoping that we can stick to our new routine and enjoy some new games, stories and education along the way. Wish us luck!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Why are we surprised?

This is not a hateful note, but a simple observation I made while drifting off to sleep this last week. So I ask that before you even begin, please keep an open mind and keep reading. Also, no, I did not vote for Trump.

So. Let's begin. When did you first hear about Trump? I think I must have been in high school when the show Apprentice first started. I can't imagine any other reason I would have heard about him as my parents didn't allow my sisters and I to watch Access Hollywood, or anything on MTV. Nor did my parents subscribe to any magazines so my knowledge of celebrities, or of the rich and the famous, was limited to the movies I saw in theaters with friends and the shows they talked about watching.

How old were you then when your first heard his name? Did you grow up watching MTV as so many kids in the 90's did? Did you love watching Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous? Did you gobble up the gossip in People, Cosmo, Seventeen, or US magazines? When did Donald Trump first hit your radar?

As we should all know by now, Donald Trump did not make his fortune, he inherited it. The American media and it's people however, don't really care how an individual gets rich, as long as the rich becomes famous and gives us all something, or someone, to watch. 'Please sir, show us around your yacht. What does your mansion look like? Who is your decorator? You just divorced your wife b/c you were unfaithful?! Amazing, tell us more.'

Trump has been in our newspapers, magazines, TVs, computers, and now phones for decades. He has been making headlines about his money, multiple marriages, failed and corrupt businesses, and mistreatment of women for DECADES. Yet this country has been eating up this gossip with glee. Our country loves watching scandals.

So why are we surprised that Trump ran for president? Why are we surprised no one stopped him? Why are we surprised he is now President-elect? Yes, most of us in this country didn't vote for him. Yes, many are scared. No it's not a third party's fault. There really should be more parties represented and given options to run for president than just two. Seriously, let's be practical. Donald Trump is President-elect because he has been invading our homes for years. This country has been showering him with attention for, well honestly, for about as long as I've been alive. His name has been common and known by most people for longer than most of the country has known who Barrack Obama is. (Shocking right? Let's pause and let that one sink in a bit)

Hmmm. Wow, it's like 20 years ago Trump was famous and followed like Kim Kardashian is now.....

OK, now consider everything I've just said. Are you still really surprised? I'm not. I'm saddened. I personally am not pleased with the outcome of the election. I wasn't really too hot about the year leading up to it either. I'm not thrilled with the process of our government. Many parts of our government are out of date including the Electoral vote. If, my vote was to count, and my voice was important, why then was it not given to the individual I voted for? It was ignored and cast aside because a majority of those in my state/area voted for Trump. This is one of the many issues I've been pondering lately. These are the types of things infuriating many. I've been trying to not get down and out about it. I've been trying to keep my head cool. It doesn't always work, especially when I think about my kids and how their futures may be affected. Sitting around doing nothing though does no good. What's the use of moping, whining, complaining, fuming? There is no point. It only fuels the flame of pain and anger. That's not what we need. We need peace and love. We need patience and understanding. So what am I going to do to make the world a better place? What do you care about? What are you going to do?

"You can be anything!"

The other day I was cleaning the play room and I was stopped by Babycake's dress-up clothes. A super-girl cape, princess dress, a construction worker's hat, and a doctor's outfit. Since the day Babycake was born we've told her she can be anything she wants. I was so touched by the realization that we not only tell her she can be anything, but we encourage it in play and life. At the age of two, she came up with a little song, all her own, about being anything you want. "You can be anything! You can be anything! You can be a doctor, or a nurse, or a teacher, or a prince or princess! You can fly in space like an astronaut too! You can be anything you want to be!" The occupations may change every other rendition, but the message is always the same.

My husband and I are not the type of parents who sugar coat the idea that simply because our child wants something, she will get it. We tell her that if you want something you must work for it, and sometime it can be hard. Of course this concept of working for want you want means very little at the moment when she can simply imagine flying, and to her, she is.

In a time when so many more parents are worried about the futures of their children due to recent events I will not mention more than say elections, I've found myself drawn into the worry as well. Will our daughters be told that they are not worthy of being great, that they should be in the kitchen, that they will never be anything but a pretty face?

No, our daughters will be fine. We parents are worried about these things because we care. Because we care, we will make sure to give our children every opportunity possible to achieve more than we. My dream for my children is that they become better people than me. I myself am a good person, but I want them to be great. I want them to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit. I want them to have the serenity to accept the things they can not change, the courage to change the things they can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I wish this for myself everyday but do not always succeed, I hope my children will be able to do this with ease.

My child's life in play- she can be anything.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pre-K Here We Come

In the beginning of August we began working on reading skills with our Bob Books set. Babycake really took off with it and enjoyed it. We flew through the first five books, but then they became more and more difficult, as each new book built on top of previously learned words and sounds. By the time we were to start book eight, Babycake was finished. She has a hard time not "getting" it right away. She understands that learning means practice, but she thinks practice means going over something once, maybe twice, and then you're a master. She doesn't like to repeat something 10 times in order to fully comprehend the lesson. So. We have taken a hiatus from reading, though she did just read "Bears on Wheels" last night, because, you know, she wanted to so she did. (insert eye roll here) Babycake has always loved learning, so I don't want to force her to read if she doesn't want to. She's smart and will get it in her own time. Plus she's only four.

Anyway, since completing her Preschool workbooks, Babycake has really enjoyed working on her Kindergarten workbook and talking all about how ready she will be for Kindergarten next year. As with most workbooks, each page builds on the content learned on the previous page. She is enjoying the Math and Games sections of the workbook, but so far is finding the Language Arts section boring as it has her tracing letters. Babycake already knows her letters by sight, and can write most of them without aid. However, I still have her doing these pages as her letters are not perfect and half the time they are backwards. So far its been a good experience and she's enjoying it.

 Here we are enjoying some learning outside, tracing letters and doing a word search.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Preschool: Mission Completion!

Well I would say that as far as Preschool/Pre-K preparedness, we're finished! Last year when the new school year was beginning, and all the new school supplies came out for sale, I scooped up a couple Pre-K workbooks to use with Babycake. Buddyboy was only about 3 months old so we had been lacking in our learning time and I wanted an easy fix to that. As I've shared in other posts, Babycake LOVED these books. She thought it was so cool to do "school work" like big kids and would be happy to complete 20 pages a day if I let her.

Unfortunately for Babycake we never seemed to have a rhythm or schedule that lasted for a significant period of time during Buddyboy's first year so her education was sporadic at best. For a while we focused on learning a lot of safety topics- safety near water, safety around town, safety at home, where do we go when there's a fire?, where's the safe spot for a tornado?, etc. Babycake learned her whole name and address. Another span of time we were reading one Magic Tree House book per month and creating lessons to go with it. (this actually lasted 4.5 months) Thankfully she's such a curious child that we could turn anything into a lesson when there's no routine or schedule.

Our workbooks were the lessons I'd turn to after realizing we'd done nothing for a week or two. Thankfully Babycake's daddy was happy to help his little girl perfect her Pre-K maths and language arts if all he had to do was sit next to her and read directions. So.... After a year of on and off  working, we've finished! Babycake knows all her letters by sight, upper and lower case, as well as the sounds they make. She can count to 30 on her own and can continue to 100 with occasional assistance. She loves patterns, learning how to spell and write words, and enjoys walking around the house with a notebook and pencil "taking notes" on everything.

Babycake was so excited to finish one book that we had to immediately go to the next and get through the 10 pages that were left. Then she declared that she's ready for Kindergarten and I needed to get a Kindergarten workbook for us to start on. Most of Babycake's friends are 5 and started Kindergarten this year so she has been pretty bummed she didn't get to start school like them. The fact that she now has a Kindergarten book and is "learning the same things as all my friends" has helped ease that bit of resentment she had. (thank goodness! :D )

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Rainy Day Learning

Rain rain go away! It seems to be monsoon season here in the Midwest. With all the rain, we have been stuck in doors and I'm finding it harder and harder to come up with distractions for the kids to keep them from driving each other, and me, crazy. When it's not raining, it's crazy hot and humid, and we only last about an hour before we're all drenched in sweat and happy to return indoors to air conditioning.

With this weather we have been getting plenty of time to work on Babycake's learning to read. Babycake has been doing really well. She has already progressed to reading Book 7, Jig and Mag, in our Bob Books. Like I've said multiple times, she is a self driven learner. She gets so excited after reading a whole book and it's so fun to celebrate her accomplishment with her. The downside to this self determination however is that she is easily flustered and frustrated if she can't read a word on the first or second try. I have to remind her that she is learning and that means you don't know everything right away and that means practice which means you have to go over it again and again and that's OK. I let her know that I am not frustrated that she doesn't know everything and that we have to practice. I will admit that there are days when we sit down to read and she goofs off, doesn't read, and I get frustrated. We are not perfect by any means in our learning system.

For more indoor activities, we pulled out her workbooks which I had honestly forgotten about. Babycake flew through about 10 pages in her Letters workbook. It was so fun to see how well she knows her letters, can write them, and spout off the sound each makes.

To keep Buddyboy occupied while I assisted Babycake with her workbook, I got out a scrap paper and some old stickers. Only in the last month has Buddyboy not instantly put everything he touches into his mouth so I figured this would be safe to do now. It was a great way for him to work on some motor skills picking up the stickers, unsticking them from his fingers, and getting them onto the paper. What a hit! He really enjoyed it and was happily occupied for about 20 mins.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Another School Year, Another Learning Curve

Well, another school year has begun. Social media is being flooded with "First Day" pictures. I know next year we'll be doing the same. This year though, Babycake is four, old enough to head to preschool or pre-K, but, I'm not going to pay for my child's "pre-education" when I can sit down for 20 min a day with her and go over English, Maths, Music, and Art.

Last August I found a little calendar set and that was our big learning goal- learn the days of the week and how a calendar works, if we were really lucky we'd master months. Well one year later, Babycake can tell you the days of the week off the top of her head, look at a calendar and tell you what day it is, and what day tomorrow will be. She hasn't quite figured out "yesterday" but hey, she's four. ;-) She can pick out what the weather is today and what it will be tomorrow. She can also count all the numbers up to 31 without messing up and tell you the date. We have not mastered months. By the end of each month she can tell you what month it is, but she does not know what month comes next, or which month was previous. For example, being August, she recently said last month was May. This year I will try to make more of an effort to clarify the months and when they are.

This year our big learning goal is reading! Crazy!!! Babycake has been reading and writing her name for a year now. She has learned how to read and write Buddyboy's name, as well as Mom and Dad. She loves to go everywhere with a pencil and note pad taking "notes" on everything. The pages are filled with letters, and the occasional number. I credit this love of note taking to our reading of The Magic Tree House series. She loves to explore like Jack and Annie. Since she has shown such a love of writing and has initiated reading I figured I might as well go along with it.

When looking up different early reading books and plans, I came across LOTS of different ideas and opinions. I really didn't know what we would do. We have a lot of Dr. Suess books so I thought maybe we would just go through those. One day however, when our family took a little trip to Half Price Books I came across the First Collection Set of Bob Books. I had seen this mentioned many times in my search of beginning reading ideas. Some people Love them, some very much dislike them. I figured getting this set for 1/2 price couldn't be beaten and we might as well give it a try.

So far it's been great! Babycake is doing really well. In one week she has consistently read the first three books. We have tried the fourth book a couple times and it is much trickier for her. Babycake is a self driven learner, but also LOVES rewards. So the stickers she gets after completely reading a book really helps her to settle down and read through a book or two.

I'm so proud of her. She's so smart and driven. Updates with our progress will be shared.