Category: Child Development Information & Ideas

Our Decision to Homeschool: Kindergarten

Our Decision to Homeschool: Kindergarten

We were outside the library a few days ago, waiting for them to open before heading out of town for vacation. Since I knew we were about to spend 5 hours together in the car, we started playing a short game of “catch the stuffie.”

I would toss the bear to Addie (9) and say the name of a state. She would catch the bear, say the capital city, and then toss the bear to her sister. Katie (5) named a state while tossing the bear to me, I said the capital, and so our cycle continued. After a few rounds, the library staff opened the front door, and we got in line behind the other patrons waiting to enter.

“Do you homeschool?” asked the lady in front of me.

“We do,” I replied with a smile.

The fact is, I probably would have come up with some nerdy way to spend our waiting time regardless of where my kids do school. It’s who I am.    

It’s the time of year when families are considering all their educational options, and I am well aware that we represent “homeschooling” to every person we meet.

And so I ask myself:

  • Are my kids presentable?
  • Did I brush their hair?
  • Are they being “sociable” enough?
  • Are they acting too “weird”?

Playing states and capitals while waiting for the library to open probably qualifies as weird, right? Oops, sorry kids!

Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten? 4 Factors to Consider | Kindergarten readiness, parenting, milestones, learning through play, child development, developmentally-appropriate practice

When I graduated from college at the age of 22 with a degree in elementary education, I had no idea I would be a homeschooling mom. I taught 3rd and 4th grades in a public school for two years before moving. I found a teaching job for 1st and 2nd grades at a small private school in my new town. I’ve also taught in preschools, church programs, and “mommy and me” type classes.

I firmly believe there is no perfect school that will meet every child’s needs. For our girls, homeschooling is the right choice at this time. (We reconsider all of our options for each of our kids each year.)


Here’s how we made the decision to homeschool our kids for Kindergarten:

  • Actual Age

  • Academic Readiness

  • Physical Readiness

  • Emotional Readiness


Actual Age:
Both of our girls are YOUNG.

Addie was born in the middle of June, but was actually 14 weeks early. If she had been born on her due date at the end of September, she would have had to wait a year to start school.

Katie was born the first week of September, which put her at the very end of eligibility for Kindergarten. (We live in Iowa, where the cut-off date is 9/15.) She would have either been the very youngest in her class or one of the very oldest in her grade.

Academic Readiness:
Both of our girls are early readers.

When Addie started reading between her 3rd and 4th birthday, I thought it was a fluke. And then her sister started recognizing words when SHE was 3. Even though Kindergarten has become more academic over the years, I knew both girls were more than ready to handle the curriculum at the age of 5.

Physical Readiness:
Both of our girls napped until their 5th birthday.

I knew that our girls would not be ready for a full-day Kindergarten program at our local public school. They each needed extra time to build stamina for 7 hours of instruction and group activities (especially my introverted child).

Emotional Readiness

Ultimately, we knew pretty early on that we had two choices with our girls:

  • either wait a year to put them in public school (when they were a young 6) OR
  • homeschool them for Kinder and see if they “caught up” with their peers.*

We knew it would be easier to retain (hold back) one or both of them–if they ever needed it–then to move them ahead a year if we chose wrong. Do public schools even “skip grades” anymore?

(*Some towns have transitional Kindergarten classes or private, half-day programs that might have worked in a similar situation.)

Homeschooling for Kindergarten meant we could give our girls more time to mature emotionally and physically while still giving them what they needed academically.

And along the way, we discovered that homeschooling is a GREAT fit for our family’s lifestyle and schedule.

Is your child getting ready for Kindergarten? What school options are you considering?


Grab your FREE Learning at Home Checklist! | child development, family relationships, homeschooling advice, homeschooling for beginners, tot school

Grab your FREE Learning at Home Checklist–10 questions to get you thinking about
tot school, preschool at home, or homeschooling for Kindergarten!

Three Ways to Set Up an Art Studio for Your Kids

Three Ways to Set Up an Art Studio for Your Kids

When it comes to parenting my girls, I want to ensure that they are able to follow their passions and pursue their interests–even when it’s something I’m not very knowledgeable about!  I am so thankful for a husband who can teach our girls about music and for a group of amazing women online who share their expert insights with the rest of us. Today, I am excited to share a guest post from Alana Chernecki of Brillante.    

Three Ways to Set Up an Art Studio for Your Kids | Rolling Prairie Readers

Did you know children have 100 languages?

Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia approach to Early Childhood education, believed that children communicate in a myriad of ways – through painting, drawing, sculpture, singing, dancing, building, acting – long before they are ever able to read, write or even speak. How your children share their thinking tells you a lot about how they view the world. As parents, we need to offer our children many tools to communicate their understanding so that we can help extend and enrich their thinking.

Art is a language that is accessible to all. Children share their ideas in drawings and paintings long before they are able to write. But the “mess factor” often gets in the way of setting up enriching and enticing art experiences for kids. The art tools we offer children are just as important as the way they are presented and shared with kids, and just like everything else, children need to be taught how to use them responsibly.

Depending on your comfort level with art, and the space you have available to you, here are three options for promoting artistic literacy with your kids.

1. Portable, Accessible and No-Fuss

Boon Stash Storage Caddy

If you are just beginning to experiment with art for your kids, the Boon Stash Storage Caddy is an excellent solution. It is made of several compartments of varying sizes and depths to accommodate all kinds of art supplies. I love this caddy because it can be washed easily in the dishwasher. It is large enough to house most basic art supplies, and can be transported to any corner of your home. A great place to store: pencil crayons, markers, scissors, pastels, pencils, glue, beads, and yarn.

2. The Art Cart – The Roll-Away Solution

For those of you who are willing to experiment with a larger spectrum of art supplies, but want the option of tucking it away from eager hands, the roll-away art cart is for you. These art carts are widely available at IKEA, Costco and various craft stores. An art cart typically has 2-3 levels. Each level can have a different theme: Loose parts on one level (beads, stones, sticks, wire, buttons, pom poms, feathers); various papers on another level, and “wet” art supplies (paint, watercolours, brushes, clay/plasticine, glue…on the third level. Keep levels labelled with chalk labels for easy clean-up.

Image Source: Tinkerlab

3. The Art Shelf / Atelier

In Reggio-inspired schools, the Atelier is at the heart of the learning programme. The atelier {italian for “art studio”} offers all the art tools and media, accessible to children all of the time. Loose parts and art media are housed in glass jars – not only for aesthetic reasons, reflecting light and bringing in colour to the space – but also for practicality sake. When media are stored in transparent jars, children are able to “read” the media, and make independent choices about what materials to use to share their ideas. Whether you use shelves (like these IKEA EKBY shelves),

storage units (like this IKEA KALLAX unit)

or a wall storage device (like this IKEA GRUNDTAL set), the idea is that the art supplies have a permanent place in your child’s play space. In this way, children can help themselves freely without the nuisance of always having to ask an adult for help (and permission), which can inhibit creativity.

Examples of media that can be stored in jars:

  • paint brushes
  • paint
  • stones, sticks
  • beads, wire
  • feathers
  • Pom poms
  • watercolours
  • stamps
  • scissors
  • crayons, markers, pastels
  • popsicle sticks

How to teach your child to use art media responsibly:

When introducing your child to a new medium, have them use their senses to discover (“get to know”) the new tool. For example, with clay, have them smell it, have them stand on it with bare feet, have them roll it between their fingers, even taste it! Slowly start to introduce and model strategies or ways to use the new medium. “Here is how you can roll it long, like a snake.”

Teaching your child to access (and clean up!) is imperative. Have them practice, practice, practice taking out, and putting away – start with the easiest (crayons and markers), and move toward the more challenging (paint!) Simple things like: “This is how we put a marker cap back on so it doesn’t dry out – Listen for the Click!” and moving towards: here are paper towels, and a jar for water so that you can help yourself, and clean up easily when you’re done (with paint).

Over time, your children will improve these processes, and art-making will not feel as daunting as it once did. Your child will learn new ways communicate their understanding visually, and will probably surprise you with their artistic sensibilities. Honour their work by framing it, and sharing it on a gallery wall in your home.

Three Ways to Set Up an Art Studio for Your Kids | guest post from Alana Chernecki of Brillante


Alana Chernecki straddles the line between education and design. As a retired teacher and mom of three, she discovered early on the importance of creating a learning environment that was both stimulating and calm, clean and colourful, engaging and organized. Her company Brillante is an intersection of motherhood, education and design. As an Educational Consultant, she works with families and educators to design, style and curate spaces for kids and teens to inspire learning and creativity.

brillantedesign.ca
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brillante.design/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brillante.design

Introvert Mama, Extrovert Child

Introvert Mama, Extrovert Child

First off: extrAvert or extrOvert? According to the dictionary, both spellings are correct. But since spell check dislikes extravert, we’re going with extrovert throughout the post.

This post was originally published on lonestarsigners.com on November 13, 2013.

A little more than two years ago, when our second child was a few months old, I realized that I was tired all the time. I talked with my doctor about hormonal imbalances (my estrogen-progesterone balance leans toward estrogen dominance) and met with a lovely therapist for a few months to talk through my struggles with perfectionism. It was about that time that I read Susan Cain’s amazing book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. (In fact, I just requested it from the library again–I’m due for a re-read!)

Introvert Mama, Extrovert Child | parenting, personality style, child development, communication, family relationships and dynamics

I think introversion is misunderstood in today’s society as shyness, social anxiety, or just a reclusive personality. The truth is that whether or not a person is an introvert simply depends on how he/she recharges their energy. Some people seek out other people, activities, experiences, and action to gain energy (extroverts), some are energized with solitude and reflection (introverts), and the rest are a lovely blend of both.

 

Well, it turns out that I am an EXTREME introvert. I think my tendency has definitely become more pronounced as I’ve gotten older, mainly because my “alone time” has been extremely limited by this thing called parenting.

When I was single and living by myself, I had lots of balance–interacting at work and plenty of social activities–followed by a night alone with a good book! When my husband and I were first married, our non-traditional work schedules left us some time apart, which I filled with a good book and my husband filled with singing in a chorus and a quartet. (Guess which personality type he has!)

Even after our first daughter was born, I still had “alone time” in the car going back and forth to work (listening to audiobooks, naturally) and while she was sleeping. But once I had two young children with different schedules and no outside job to go to, I was exhausted because I was never alone.

Introvert Mama, Extrovert Child | parenting, personality style, child development, communication, family relationships and dynamics

Please understand me, I love my girls and I wouldn’t want to do anything other than stay home with them and homeschool–but those two hours of naptime are precious to me and my sanity. I need time to read and reflect every day or I get run down. Thankfully, my husband appreciates my sanity and arranges his evening schedule with the girls so that I get to rest. (And he gets a night out every week to go out and sing.)

* * *

Our oldest daughter is clearly an extrovert. I love to watch her light up around other people! I appreciate it when the moms that she is drawn to take the time to listen to her and affirm what she so badly wants to tell them. She processes information by talking about it, and that means she talks A LOT. She is constantly asking me when we’re going out or which activity is coming up next, when I would much prefer to curl up on the couch with (you guessed it!) a book.

Introvert Mama, Extrovert Child | parenting, personality style, child development, communication, family relationships and dynamics

If introverts get their energy from the inside and extroverts get their energy from the outside, there are some days that it feels like Addie is simply taking my “health units” for herself. 🙂

As an introvert mom raising an extrovert child, I’ve discovered a few tricks:

  • Plan social activities for the extroverted child. If at all possible, plan to host them them so you can control the number of guests and how long the activity lasts.
  • Go to the park a couple of times a week. My extroverted daughter is more than happy to play alongside children she has never met before and I can find a quiet bench to sit on and watch.
  • Make allowances for an “at home” day at least once a week. It’s beneficial for extroverts to learn how to play independently. Listen to audiobooks if your child needs extra stimulation.
  • Channel your child’s extra energy with a hobby! 🙂
  • Make it a point to connect with other moms in real life at least once a week. Facebook and other forms of social media are awesome, but it’s important to have some in-depth face-to-face conversations, too.
  • Don’t forget your spouse! My husband is very understanding of my need for quiet time, but I need to remember to “come back up for air” in the evening and ask him about his day. Even if we’re not talking, he appreciates it when I sit next to him while he watches a movie. (And then after I’ve had my fill of “quiet time” in the evening, I tend to want to talk his ear off right about the time he’s ready to go to sleep. It’s all about balance!)
  • Teach your child about the differences between introversion and extroversion. Addie knows me well enough that when I say I need a break, she respects my ten minutes of downtime. When we leave an intense social situation, she is usually quiet in the car so I can recharge. It’s not just about me, either! When an introverted friend comes over and needs some time to ease into the situation, it’s important for her to learn how to respect their space.

While you’re here, grab your FREE School Holiday Survival Guide, and get lots of activity ideas for your little extrovert!