Tag: emotional development

Best Books About Kindness and Friendship

Best Books About Kindness and Friendship

Valentine’s Day is around the corner! While February is typically known as a time to show romantic love, it’s also an excellent time to teach children about the power of friendship and and kindness. There are many great ways to teach kids to be kind to others, but our favorite is through books, of course!

Books about kindness and friendship give children the opportunity to learn about empathy in a safe environment. Taking time to talk about the characters and their choices is the most important part of the family read-aloud experience. Read on for our five favorite kindness books for kids!

Best Books About Kindness and Friendship | kindness books for kids, intentional bookshelf, teaching with books, recommended picture books

Best Books About Kindness & Friendship

(Rolling Prairie Readers does use affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission if you purchase any items we recommend. For the full disclosure policy, you can click here.) 

Chrysanthemum
by Kevin Henkes

I’ve talked about our love for Chrysanthemum in our favorite books for new readers post, but I really do recommend this book to everyone! It’s a great story for back to school or when a child is feeling anxious about a new experience. It’s also the perfect introduction to what bullying can look like in a classroom. Why don’t Chrysanthemum’s classmates stand up for her? Are they afraid they’ll be bullied next? Use this book to talk about what YOU would have done if you were in the book.

Bonus: You can also watch this one on DVD (narrated by Meryl Streep)!

Corduroy
by Don Freeman

Corduroy is one of those “classic” books that really has endured through many generations. It’s a sweet and simple story that any toddler will love, especially if there is a special lovey in the family. Use this book to talk about taking care of others. What does it look like to be a friend?

Officer Buckle & Gloria
by Peggy Rathmann

This is one of my favorite picture books because it’s just ridiculous from begining to end. Children will love looking at all the details in the illustrations! But the best part of this Caldecott-winning book is the true friendship between Gloria the dog and her human, Officer Buckle. It’s a great invitation to discuss how our friends can (and should!) bring out the best in us.

My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother
by Patricia Polacco

Growing up, I always wanted an older brother. My husband tells me of his many adventures and mischief-filled days with his older brother, much like Patricia and Richie in this autobiographical book by my very favorite author. Don’t be turned off by the title; this relatable book ends with a very sweet moment between two siblings, showing our kids that family can be friends, too.

Chicken Sunday
by Patricia Polacco

As I mentioned, Ms. Polacco is my favorite children’s author, and I probably could list every book she’s ever written in this kindness category. But I am choosing Chicken Sunday as our family’s “book of the month” because it has so many rich characters and moments of kindness. Set a few years after the story above, Tricia is now living in California with her mom and brother. She has added new family members, neighbor Miss Eula and her grandsons Winston and Stewart, and builds a true friendship with hat shop owner Mr. Kodinski. This book features so many rich cultural and religious moments, showing our children what a life of diversity and respect can look like.

We’ll be taking the lessons found in Chicken Sunday and using them as a jumping off point for our “theme of the month” discussions in The Intentional Book Club.

Throughout the month of February, Club Founder Samantha Munoz is leading the conversation about using books to teach our kids about cultural awareness. She has family activity ideas, book recommendations, and even an interview with children’s author Medeia Cohan! I am so excited for this new, amazing resource for our family.

You can learn more about The Intentional Book Club here, or click on the image below to join us!

Join other intentional families in The Intentional Book Club!

Before you go, I would love to hear YOUR favorite kindness books for kids!

Goal Setting for Kids

Goal Setting for Kids

One of my favorite parts of parenting is teaching my girls skills that they will use throughout their life. From reading to laundry to goal setting, there are so many things to learn! Sometimes I get stressed by all the the things I need to teach, but this world is full of amazing experts who are willing to share their knowledge. Karen Delano is one of these amazing coaches! I reached out to her to see what advice she has about teaching kids how to set goals. Read on for a simple strategy you can use again and again!

Goal Setting for Kids | goal setting activities, goal setting ideas, growth mindset, family goals, child development, life skills | guest post from Karen Delano @ If It Were Simple

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year that many of us are setting goals for ourselves.

Goal-setting is a powerful skill we can teach our kids as well. Not only does it teach them responsibility for their own behaviors and learning but it establishes a lifelong habit for success.

The key to setting goals with kids is to keep it simple and fun! Start with smaller, short term goals that can be achieved in a week or less so they can see and feel success quickly and eventually your child will be excited to work on longer term goals.

But first things first, make sure your child knows what a goal is — something they want to accomplish by a certain time in the future. Let them know they can reach a goal by following a step-by-step plan and that making this plan is called goal-setting. It can be helpful to give them examples of your own goals to illustrate the idea by saying something like, “Mommy’s goal is that I will finish reading my library book by Friday. So I’m planning to spend 30 minutes reading before bed each night.”

Dream

Ask your child to dream of something they want to learn, do, create, change or overcome. Let them brainstorm all of their ideas – even ones that seem unrealistic or unimportant to you. It’s okay if they say they want to have a pet unicorn. At this point we just want them to start imagining and, too, any time we fully listen to our kids it strengthens our relationship.

Choose

Now it’s time to help your child reflect on their ideas and pick one to begin. Kids need to choose their own goal because it needs to motivate them and, of course, they’re more likely to follow through on their own ideas. But you can guide them towards setting a goal that’s realistic and within their control by breaking bigger goals into smaller, more manageable steps.

Visualize

Ask your child to close their eyes and imagine themselves having achieved their goal. Encourage them to tell you what it looks like, sounds like, and feels like. Then have them draw a picture of it! This visual reminder helps kids stay motivated when they start to get off track.

Plan

Work with your child to come up with a step-by-step plan of how they’ll take action. Have them decide when they want to get started and by when they want to achieve the goal. Determine if they need any help or resources. Another way to set kids up for success is by getting them to anticipate obstacles and how they’ll overcome them. Asking questions like “I wonder what you could do if xyz happens?” Using your own example can be helpful here too — “I might be too tired to read one night, so I could always fit some reading in after lunch so I’ll still finish by Friday.”

Celebrate

The process of setting and working toward a goal is an accomplishment in itself, even if your child doesn’t reach the goal. Inspire them to want to keep trying new things and to persevere with challenges by celebrating anyway!

It doesn’t have to be big or even be a “thing.” Simply honor the process with a round of applause, a dance party or a homemade certificate. Keep it something easy and fun!

And then — do it again! Over time you and your child will find out how they learn best, what motivates them the most, and goals can become more complex and longer-term.

I can’t wait to try this goal setting process with my girls!

What are your thoughts about teaching kids to set goals?


Goal Setting for Kids | A Guest Post from Karen of If It Were Simple

Karen Delano is a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach. She’s been a preschool teacher, run her own in-home play school and now she helps moms reduce their kid’s challenging behaviors, build connection in their family and deal with the stress that keeps them from acting and feeling like the mom they want to be. You can visit her website {If It Were Simple} and download her free guide to get kids to listen.

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, homeschool Kindergarten

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.)

Our Decision to Homeschool: Kindergarten | child development, homeschooling support, parenting encouragement, learning through play

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!