Tag: emotional development

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!

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 raising an extrovert, 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 Summer Schedule Guide, and get lots of activity ideas for your little extrovert!

Raising Children and Emotional Outbursts

Raising Children and Emotional Outbursts

There we stood, toe-to-toe, arms crossed, eyes blazing. “You aren’t helping!” she yelled and turned away from me. I dropped to my knees on the floor of her room so she could look into my eyes.

“You’re right, and I’m sorry. I’d like to help you,” I said as gently as I could. She took one look at me and crumpled into my arms.

If you are a student of personality types, you’ll understand when I say that our entire family scores high on the Feelings scale. We are passionate people navigating emotional outbursts on a near-daily basis, usually from me (ISFJ) and one of our daughters (ESFJ).

Raising Children and Emotional Outbursts | 3 Tips to Navigate (parenting and personality styles, emotional development)

Many years ago, I stumbled across a book at the library called Nurture By Nature, which introduces parents to the 16 different personality types. I knew I needed to own a copy when I read this quote on page 6:

Imagine a child made to feel lovable, capable, and worthy just exactly the way she is. Such a child would grow up confident, secure, honest, independent, and loving, because she would have been raised by parents who respected, accepted, accommodated, and celebrated her unique personality.

I was able to “type” our older daughter immediately. She is my “mini-me” with one major difference–that girl is as extroverted as I am introverted. From a young age, her first question to me each morning would be, “Are we going to see people today?” (As opposed to her little sister, whose first sentence–I kid you not–was, “I want to play alone.”)

From Nurture By Nature, p. 186:

[ESFJs] adore their families and are very connected to their parents. They are caring, sensitive children who are highly aware of and concerned about the opinions and feelings of others. They like to be included, reassured, and constantly reminded of how much they are liked and how much the people they care about are pleased by them.

Our girl is literally the kindest person I know. She is an exuberant includer–everyone is a (best) friend, even those she has just met. She reminds me of the character Joy from the movie Inside Out, to be completely honest. She is fun and affectionate and very sensitive to the feelings of others. Her tender heart hurts whenever she hears about somebody going through a hard time, and she is very hard on herself when something doesn’t come easily or work out the way she thought it might.

Every once in awhile, those sad, hurt feelings come out in a big emotional outburst of anger. There might be yelling, stomping, and door-slamming. There will always be fiery eyes and a tear or two.

At that moment, I need to choose how I will respond to her outburst. I can either help her or I can alienate her by not taking her feelings seriously.  For the longest time, I chose the second option. I didn’t understand that her struggle with a math problem was just a symptom of a deeper issue. I would minimize her frustration instead of listening, validating her feelings, and letting her know that she was not alone.

Raising Children and Emotional Outbursts | 3 Tips to Navigate (parenting and personality styles, emotional development)

Over the past several months, we’ve been able to work through these outbursts with three steps:

  • Identifying emotions.

    The anger is usually a mask for something else, but we reassure her that it’s okay to be angry as long as she is not hurting herself or someone else.

  • Expressing feelings.

    It’s okay to cry or get out the Wii boxing game. Sometimes adrenaline can be overwhelming for a little body.

  • Managing feelings.

    We work through breathing exercises (smell the flower, blow out the candle is a favorite) until we feel calm again. At that point, the deeper feelings like hurt or fear usually come to the surface and we can talk through them. She is reassured of our love–no matter how she feels or what she does–and then we might talk through different ways of expressing our feelings in the future.

As I mentioned earlier, this precious daughter of mine is very similar to me. I am also prone to emotional outbursts when I don’t feel heard or understood. In our experience, the easiest way to avoid a meltdown is to prevent it–lots of quality one-on-one time and affection go a long way in our family. “I love you, Mom,” is a phrase that I hear often from my sweet girl. It’s usually a cue for me to drop whatever I’m doing in and pull her in for a long hug. She beams when I say, “I love you, too, sweetie.”

If you would like to learn more about parenting and personality types, I highly recommend these two books. (Just a reminder that we use affiliate links at no additional cost for you. Thank you for supporting our blog!) 

In Nurture by Nature you’ll learn which of 16 distinctly different types best matches your child’s personality; how this personality type affects your child in each of the three stages of development – preschool, school age, and adolescence; and how you can adapt your parenting style to your child’s type – and get better results when communicating, supporting, motivating, and disciplining.

An antidote to our stressed-out mother culture, MotherStyles validates the notion that good mothering comes in many styles and explains how understanding how you most often react to your child and why is the most important step toward working through areas that have long given you trouble.