Sunday, March 20, 2011

Emotional Epiphany

Sitting in the auditorium filled with equal numbers of children ranging in ages from 2-6 and their parents, I watched as my daughter's bright blue eyes widened and her smile grew.  She was watching the approach of a musician that she has watched hundreds of times on YouTube and a handful of times on Noggin', playfully slink up to the front of the stage.  It was hard to miss this lanky, tall man that seems to be about 7 feet tall with his crazy gray hair that stands on end.  Dan Zanes was wearing his trademark orange suit and carrying his guitar.   As his first song stared, one that we have loudly belted out together many times in our car, her jaw dropped and my eyes welled, up and that is about all that I saw of my daughter for the next five minutes. 

OK, I will admit it, I am the type of female that enthusiastically shares my feelings.  I emote, like a ripe zit.  You KNOW when I am happy/ mad/ sad/ angry.  I will also admit that I am full of the extra potent, 35 weeks pregnant hormones. 

I had one of THOSE moments today. It was one of those instances when I remember why I am a parent.  When I bought those tickets nearly 10 months ago, I knew our family would have fun.  I didn't realize how influential today would be on my child. 

Up until her bed time, she had not stopped talking about the time that the two of us danced in front of the stage, during the song "Catch that Train".  As we cha-cha-cha'ed by, she waved to him and he waved back.

House PartyShe also can't stop talking about the moment she met him.  After the show she said she wanted to say good-bye to him.  The smart entertainer that he his, his whole band stood in the lobby of the Mondavi Center, and greeted, signed autographs and took pictures with their fans.  Of course my phone decided to go crazy right before the show as i was turning it off, so I did not have my camera on my phone available.  I am not worried, though as she will have that moment where she approached him and said, "Bye-bye!  Thank you!"  and he said, "Wanna high-five?"  She joyously slapped his hand.

What a great day!

My first blog on this page, about a month ago, reminded us to think, "What is our goal as a parent?"   Today was just another reminder that I can help my child create positive memories of most exciting events, as well as the most simple of events.  Today just happened to be a very exciting day.  I was the happiest making her so happy.

Musical Moods

Our family is in the mood for music.   Actually we are always listening to music, but today will be a little different!  After a few days of feeling cooped up in the house from the drenching rain, we are heading out to the Mondavi Center (in Davis, CA) to watch one of our favorite performers for kids, Dan Zanes.  There are a few favorite musicians that everyone in our family enjoys, so I thought I would make today's Blog a review of our favorite kids' music that my husband and I can tolerate too!  If you have a kid under the age of 10, you should get to know Zanes!   He does a lot of cover music, which the parents will be familiar with (think musicals of the past, such as Annie and Music Man).   He is a lot of fun, and the whole family will enjoy his music.  Search for dan zanes

My personal overall favorite is probably The Laurie Berkner Band. Maybe it is a feminine thing, though.    The music is fun, fast and the lyrics are original and witty.   Our family's favorite song is probably the Dinosaur song, but Victor Vito is probably a close second!  Search for the laurie berkner band

As a teacher of literacy, I closely examine music that also has connections to literacy for my children.   It is important that children are sent to school with a common background knowledge of fairy tales and nursery rhymes.  The teacher will rely in this background knowledge to teach other skills.   For this reason, I have to endorse the Wee Sings music series. As a family we only have a few of these, but I really love them for their content.  They are presented in a story format and include classic childern's songs that you and your kid will love!  Search for wee sing

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ready Readers - Quizative Questions

WHO? WHAT? WHERE? WHEN? WHY? HOW?  These words are my daughter's most frequently utilized words.  Maybe I should rephrase that, these are the words that my daughter uses to drive her parents crazy on a DAILY basis!  While, yes, her constant questions easily drive me up the wall, it is hard to get upset about it, as I know that her little mind is always clicking and ticking. 

Any  parent of a child over the age of 2, can use this developmental stage to begin to help their child become more involved in literature. The word here is MODEL.  SHOW your children HOW to ask questions about a text that you are reading.   In addition to this list of question words, start working on concepts of story grammar and vocabulary.   Talk to your children about who the CHARACTERS are in the story. USE the work CHARACTERS.  Talk about SETTING, PLOT and even what happens in the BEGINNING, MIDDLE, END and CONCLUSION of the story. 

You may be asking, WHY is it SO important that I use the terms, character, setting, plot, beginning, middle, end and conclusion?  Simple, these are appropriate terms for the parts of a fictional story. 

Before you start a book, take some time to look at all the pictures on each page and discuss what you see happening in the story (this is a classic techinuque used be primary teachers who are teaching reading, called a picture walk.)
  • Have your child PREDICT, what will happen in the story.
  • Request them to ask QUESTIONS, "like mommy does" about the story, using the question words.  You can offer a word to get them started.  "Use where to ask me a question about this page."
  • If your child has been practicing letter names or sounds.  Use the pictures to help them identify letters, sounds or even words.  Your child finds a "cat" in the picture.  You can say:
    • "cat stats with the letter c, can you find a word on this page that starts with the letter c?"
    • or, "cat starts with the sound /c/ can you find the word that starts with the /c/ sound?"
    • or, "can you find the word that probably says cat?"
  • As you are reading continue to have your child ask questions, as though the parent is the kid or student.
  • Also ask your child if they need help clarifying words that they do not understand.  Again, you can roll play this and pretend to switch roles.  You can be silly and have fun, you can turn to your kid and say, "Mommy, what does the word excited mean?  Can you please clarify that word for me?"
Have fun reading with your child and use your sense of silliness and sense of humor!  : )

Please share your reading ideas with us!  ALSO if you want more ideas or have any questions about these techniques please let me know and I will clarify information here and/or in future blogs! 

I love that I can use this blog to continue to help education children by educating their parents, too!  : )

Monday, March 7, 2011

Guiltless Engagement

Guilt is a mom's middle name.  We worry that we do not feed our kids enough veggies, that we let them watch too much TV, that we do not dress them cute enough, the list goes on and on!

Often as a mom, we have a hard time just trying to find time for ourselves.  

While my darling daughter does love to play, and plays well alone, I am often a little tentative about leaving her alone to play while I run off to enjoy a bath or to unload laundry.  More than once I have returned to her playroom sanctuary to find that she has dumped several of her board games onto the floor along with all of it pieces. 

A surefire way to prevent this is to tune into "Dora" and she will be mesmerised by the little girl and her monkey friend, long enough to prevent her from causing more chaos.  While she does get engaged into the show, including yelling commands in Spanish, I worry about the amount of television my little potato watches.

Today I had one of the most relaxing baths, that I can while my hubby is at work, and while she is still awake (I am starting to discover that those daily naps are disappearing!!).   She begged me to do YOGA while using a DVD.   These DVDs were purchased for my classroom of students several years ago, as a fun alternative activity that my 2 dozen youngsters can enjoy on a rainy day.  It has been a great parenting tool too! 
Her favorite DVD is the ABC one, which I also love!   Her favorite pose in the series she tells me is,
R for Rocking Horse," and then she demonstrates this pose that builds strong back muscles and confidence!  I CAN take a bath again,without being afraid of a mess that will be sitting in the middle of our playroom, when i return.  


Mommy, the Micromanager

I will admit it!  I have done it!  I have micromanaged my child's life, but I have admitted it, and that is the first step, right?!

Micromanaging parents are the ones who plan every minutia of their child's day.  They can also be defined as the parents who nitpick their children to death!

As all of blogs, this topic came to me, as I observed other parents with their children.  I watched as a mother and father hovered over their 2 year old like a rescue helicopter.    It immediately hit me, "Do I DO THAT???!"

Now remember, what I am NOT is judgmental.  I don't judge other parents for their actions and reasons for what they do. hey, who am I to judge?  I am a still a rookie parent, myself!  What I am, though, is a learner and a teacher.  I learn about the world, through watching others, and reading and researching children.  I then, in turn teach others about what I am experiencing, in the hope that I help enlighten my friends, or take a little stress out of your day!

SO, here are my thoughts on managing children.  Again, it goes back to your main goal as a parent!  (see my first post of the blog.)  If what you are telling your children to do does not relate to their  or another's health and well being, then it is probably not necessary.   In short, as my mother would say, "choose your battles."   If your child is doing OK and they will not get hurt or hurt another, then they probably should be left alone to discover and express themselves. 
Party girl Daisy, choose this outfit this weekend.  I got lucky on her choices!   Maybe that, or I have begun to buy all of her clothes to coordinate each other!  : )

So, I let my child choose her own clothes, as long as the weather permits her current "style."  After all what does it hurt if she is wearing a green top, yellow polk-a-dot leggings, and a purple tulle skirt?  She might looks silly, but who cares?   Most people will look at her and know, she IS a THREE year old!  

If you have not yet had the change to pick-up my current bible on preschoolers, then now is the chance!  I am not kidding with you, when I say that it talks about every possible situation that you will find yourself in. 

On the other hand, many of you have younger children.   Dr. Nelson, also writes books for that age too!

Maybe you really want to get someone else on the same page, as YOUR parenting, such as your spouse or a grandparent.   Buying them this book, is a great hint, and they will LOVE how easy of a read it is!  (My hubby has his own copy next to the bed on the night stand, as I type! I am hoping that it will work for us, and help us get on the same page!)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Nutritional Noshing

Young children snack all the time.  (Ok!  That is it!  No more words of wisdom!  DONE!)

All joking aside, beyond the 3 squares a day (or not so square if you are a toddler) your child can sit, stand, run and sleep while snacking throughout the day.

Careful choices on your part, as a parent can make them empty calories, or beneficial, nutrient rich calories.

My friend Michelle and I used to joke when our daughters were about a year old, whether or not they could sustain themselves on blueberries and breast milk.  Since Michelle was also Daisy's caregiver during the day (back in the day when I was a "traditional teacher" in a traditional classroom), she feed my daughter alongside hers.  The two cuties got into the groove of only eating the (ORGANIC!) blueberries that were given to them, and nothing else!  Luckily neither one of them had any crazy side effects, such as skin turning blue (as child would turn ORANGE if they only ate carrots!  True!). On the other hand if they only ate donuts and milk, then we would have a REAL issue on our hand!  Luckily donuts and other such food were never introduced as an option to their diet!

On that note, one of my equally as health conscience friends, Ginger recently raved about a great idea regarding her son's nutrition.  He is still 6 or 7 months old, so he is still in the category of a limited diet, as many infants still are, and should be.  She concocted a teething biscuit that she believes he likes, and eats heartily,and that she feels comfortable feeding him.
She sent me the recipe below:
she informally titled them:

Preheat oven to 425
1c flour
1c baby cereal
3TBS oil
ICE Cold Apple Juice about 8oz (I juiced mine fresh and then added the pulp too)

Mix flour, cereal, and oil, then slowly add the cold juice until a dough forms and begins to pull away from the bowl. Roll flat, cut into shapes, bake about 25-30 minutes.

(thanks for sharing Ging!)     : )

As you may have noticed, I emphasized the fact that the produce that I serve to my child is organic.  I am very careful that I choose such an option for my child, as produce that is "labeled" organic tends to be a little more trustworthy, as far as farming practices.What is sprayed on and around the produce is monitored a little more carefully, this contributes to the health of the soil, water and humans.  I am also lucky to live in the middle of California's agriculture land, so much of what I  am able to purchase is not only local but ALSO organic.  While my hubby, Mr. Penny-Pincher (and also a Science teacher,with a degree in environmental sciences, so he should KNOW better), often scoffs at me and my organic purchases, he cannot deny that our child is healthy and that an extra 50 cents for a basket of produce that makes me happy, is more than worth it!

If you are interested in the topic of toxins in our environment and how they effect us read: