Tag: raising children

Why Your Family NEEDS a Philosophy of Education

Why Your Family NEEDS a Philosophy of Education

One Thing Every Family Must Do Before the New School Year

True confession: I LOVE back to school season. I’m all about brand-new crayons and notebooks, clean backpacks, and a stash of unused glue sticks.

Are you getting ready for a new school year? Here’s the ONE thing you must do before the kids head back to school!

Whether your family is homeschooling full-time or “afterschooling,” we all want to empower our kids to follow their passions and use their unique gifts to make the world a better place, right? Ultimately, I want my children (and yours!) to walk into any classroom, any team, any job interview, and feel confident that they have something special to offer.

What is the school system’s role in education?

As a former classroom teacher, I know that most educators want the very best for each of their students. However, I also believe that the current school system is all about making learning as efficient as possible. It’s the reason why children are grouped into classes with their same-age peers and taught the same material all across the country.

The problem is: our children are NOT the same.

My third-grader is going to be on a different level than your third-grader. What comes easily to your child might be a struggle for mine. One of them might be advanced in math; the other might be advanced in reading.

No matter how hard the school district tries to homogenize learning, it just won’t work. 

Quote: Our kids are unique, and their education should be, too.

Unfortunately, due to budget cuts and out-of-touch legislation, things are not going to change in the public school system anytime soon. It’s the reason why I work with parents instead of going back to teaching. We are the ones who get to personalize learning for our kids and prepare them for a life outside the classroom.

What is the parent’s role in education?

If you spend much time with me, you’ll probably hear me say this several times: Education is a journey,  not an assembly line.

We are all moving forward every day, but not at the same pace. Some of us will travel on the same path for awhile, while others will head directly off the path to discover something new for themselves.

Quote: “Expecting all children the same age to learn from the same materials is like expecting all children the same age to wear the same size clothing.” -Madeline Hunter

For the past seven years, I have been homeschooling my own two children. If any two students were going to be similar, you might assume it’s siblings who have been raised in the same home with the same access to education and life experiences. And yet, my children are VERY different when it comes to learning.

  • One of my children is what you could call a “traditional” learner. She is studious, meticulous, eager to please the adults in her life, and someone who enjoys working with other children. She thrives off of checklists, schedules, and predictable routines.
  • My other child is NOT a “traditional” learner. She is a deep thinker who has no desire to sit still and do book work. While she does love to read, she is also always on the move or fidgeting with something in her hands. She prefers to work alone and completes her work as quickly as possible to move onto the projects that really interest her.

My job is to help them understand HOW they learn best and teach them how to use their strengths to make the most of their years in school, all while working on developing their weaker areas. If education truly is a journey, I want to put them in the navigator’s seat with all the tools they need to make their own way.

I don’t want my children to depend on a school district, a teacher, or a curriculum for their education. I want them to fall in love with the discovery process and pursue learning for a lifetime.

Creating a family philosophy of education

My goals for my children may sound lofty, but I don’t think the process has to be complicated. In our family, we have created a philosophy of education that guides our major decisions around our children’s learning.

Simply put: we prioritize good books, learning through play, and family adventures. 

What does your family believe about education? Have you ever sat down to talk about it with each other?

Helping our children find success in school starts with identifying what makes them unique. Crafting a philosophy of education and referring back to it at the beginning of each new school year means that no matter the school, no matter the teacher, no matter the curriculum, our children take back control of their learning. 

When times get tough, when our kids run into a challenge, we can remind them of their end goals. We can help tailor their study habits to their strongest learning style and teach them to advocate for themselves with their future professors and bosses.

Quote: "Our family philosophy of education acts as a road map to remind us of our values and priorities for learning."

Create your family’s philosophy of education today with our free training!

Developing Emotional Intelligence with Children’s Books

Developing Emotional Intelligence with Children’s Books

As I have mentioned before, our entire family represents the feeling side of the Myers-Briggs spectrum (ESFP, INFJ, ENFJ, ISFP). We have regular conversations about our emotions, identifying feelings, and working through conflict in a healthy way. And since we LOVE reading, we often jumpstart these discussions with our read-aloud choices. After all, developing emotional intelligence with children’s books is a great parenting strategy!

Click here to read more about our strategy for dealing with emotional outbursts.

image of books with text overlay: How to Develop Emotional Intelligence Using Children's Books

Developing Emotional Intelligence with Children’s Books

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you. You can see our full disclosure policy here.)

Recently, I connected with author and licensed marriage and family therapist, Leanne Richter, who has written two children’s books about developing emotional intelligence along with two of her colleagues, Shauna Havlina and Ceth Ashen. She sent us both books in exchange for an honest review.

Using picture books to teach kids about growth mindset, stress and anger management, and the power of positive self-talk makes parenting much easier! After all, books frequently become part of the family culture, a “shorthand” if you will. Both of our children enjoyed reading Jameon’s Closet and Maribel’s Rainy Day. These books will be treasured for years to come.

Jameon’s Closet is all about dealing with hard things (overall theme) and talking about feelings (specifically).

Jameon is a boy who lives with his grandma. He is asked to clean out his closet, but feels overwhelmed by the size of the task. His counselor Jon comes over to help him work through the process step-by-step (“little by little”) until he is done.

Since both of my girls are often overwhelmed by their feelings, I loved the message of Jameon’s Closet. Any book that features strong adult-child relationships is a win in my book!

Maribel’s Rainy Day is about asking for help and positive self-talk.

Maribel is a girl who lives with her foster mother Ana. She is trying to get to her friend’s house, but it is raining and she keeps getting soaked. The book goes through a few humorous scenarios before Ana helps her put on her rain gear.

The scene with the cat makes both of my girls giggle every time we read it. There are family activities included in the back to help develop growth mindset skills, like breathing, visualization, and calming techniques.

Each book starts with a relatable story before getting into the specifics of developing emotional intelligence. It is clear that the authors have spent tremendous amounts of time with children and respect the sometimes-difficult journey of childhood.

The books include:

  • diverse characters
  • non-traditional family structures (grandparents and foster parents)
  • and concise language that makes the point incredible clear (without being heavy-handed)

There are no religious overtones in either story, but it would be incredibly easy for families of faith to include verses and prayers into the techniques taught in the books. (The idea of Maribel’s “worry gear” definitely reminded me of the armor of God passage from the Bible.) Helping children write down positive affirmations from the book would be a simple, healthy activity.

If you are looking for books for developing emotional intelligence, I would recommend both Jameon’s Closet and Maribel’s Rainy Day for any family or classroom teacher!

What are your favorite books for developing emotional intelligence?

images of picture books with text overlay: Teaching Our Kids Emotional Intelligence Using Picture Books

Why Your Family Needs an Adventure Backpack

Why Your Family Needs an Adventure Backpack

Many, many years ago, there was a movie called One Fine Day featuring Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney as two single parents working together to juggle their kids and their jobs. One of the recurring jokes in the movie is that ultra-controlling mom Pfeiffer always has what she needs in her bag, from juice boxes to costumes for the kids. Clooney, more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants dad, even asks at one point, “Where I can get a bag like that?”

I’m not sure why that random movie fact has stuck with me for more than 20 years, but I had a similar moment last week when we met up with some friends at a fairground. One of my girls needed to use the bathroom immediately, so we walked to the Porta Potties right around the corner. As she came out of her little hut, I was waiting with wipes and some hand sanitizer, which made my friend crack a joke about being a Boy Scout. I joked right back, “I’m not a Boy Scout, I’m a mom.”

Our family tradition of carrying a backpack came right after the diaper bag years. Typically, our “adventure backpack” stays in the trunk of our family car, filled with all the supplies we tend to need most.

Whether your family adventures include travel or exploring the outdoors, an adventure backpack can make life with kids easier!

Young girl on dad's shoulders with text: 16 Must-Haves for Family Adventures

What is an adventure backpack?

Our backpack is a simple, two-shoulder bag that holds all the things our kids tend to need when we are hiking, geocaching, touring the zoo, or visiting an apple orchard. We keep it light enough that any one of us can carry it if needed–but not so light that we end up sunburned or covered in bug bites because the sunscreen and/or bug spray is in the other car.

What should we put in our adventure backpack?

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you. You can see our full disclosure policy here.)

The type of backpack your family chooses depends on the types of activities you’ll need it for. Rarely do we hike more than a couple of hours and we typically drive right to our campsites, so we don’t need an actual hiking backpack. A regular school pack works just fine for our adventures, so long as it has lots of pockets for our supplies:

  • hats for everyone
  • sunscreen
  • umbrella
  • insect repellent
  • bandaids
  • wipes
  • hand sanitizer
  • tissues
  • pain reliever
  • flashlight
  • compass
  • whistle
  • water bottles
  • snacks (optional)
  • zipper bags for trash or nature collections
  • notepad and pencil

Where should we take our adventure backpack?

If your family is looking to have more adventures full of hands-on learning and fun memories, keeping a family adventure backpack in the car will be a lifesaver!

What do you keep in your adventure backpack?


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What is a family adventure backpack and WHY do we need one?