Tuesday, March 29, 2011

When Our Parenting is Wrong


Several years ago, I had a religious instructor who I dearly love. He was a Christ like example to me in just about everything. He is the one who taught me how to be a good parent.

When I got married, he gave me a book of essays that he had edited along with another author. For a little background, this instructor has a Ph.D. in marriage and family relations, was an associate professor at the Utah State University, and is now a Professor and Family Life Specialist with the University of Arkansas Coorperativer Extension Service. You can check out his website here at DrWally.org (we called him Uncle Wally).

In this book, one of the biggest things that spoke to me was when Dr Wally mentioned that often, as parents, we “erroneously assign motives to our children.” How often have you thought that your child wanted to make your life miserable, or wanted to spite you, and that was why they were throwing that tantrum in the middle of the grocery store?

Dr Wally says that “as adults we credit children with the manipulative and devious motives that we see in ourselves and most other[s]…” The problem with this is that we know that babies are born innocent into this world. Some religions may teach that infants are fallen and need to be baptized, but I think that most of the Christian and religious world (and even the secular world) believes that babies, by their very nature, are innocent.

Children are precious, innocent, little angels that have been placed in our care – and we have a very serious, very important responsibility to love, protect, and teach these children.

Dr Wally reminds us that “when we get past our judgments and assumptions about our children and when we approach them humbly, we are able to love and bless them.”

And my favorite quote from him: “Our automatic reactions in [this] world are almost always wrong.”

This brings me back to my post last week about not saying “no” to your children. How are you doing? This week, try to stop when you feel your “automatic reaction” to your children’s behavior. Because whatever that auto-response is, it is probably wrong. Let’s remember that our children are precious and it is our responsibility to teach them and “train them up.”


Monday, March 28, 2011

Now I Know My ABC’s

Well, not quite, but we are certainly working on it. Last week we made these cutout letters. I want to laminate them so they will last longer, but we’ll see if I ever get around to it.


I drew the letters on sheets of cardstock (two on each sheet) and had the kids cut them out. In hindsight I realize I probably should have done the lowercase letters, since when you read, you read lowercase letters more often than uppercase letters – and I would like them to be able to point out the letters in our picture books. Knowing the capital letters isn’t going to hurt them, but I wish I had started with lower case. Maybe we’ll work on that next month.

Before I cut out the letters, I let the kids color them up. They weren’t really interested in coloring the letters, so I helped. Then we cut them out.

DSCN4727 DSCN4729 

As we were cutting them out, Baby and E started stepping in some cheapo plastic planters I had bought for my poinsettias. I didn’t want them to break the planters, so I suggested that we sort the letters. We had three planters, so I tried to think of ways letters have three “types” – the best I could come up with was “curvy letters,” “pointy letters,” and “letters with holes.” After I showed E what I meant, he excitedly sorted all the letters. Baby still doesn’t get sorting, and just wanted to move the things around in the buckets.  We’re working on it, though.

So far, E can recognize R, G (it has a “table” inside) and a few other letters, although R is the one we did first, since our (real) last name starts with R. Baby recognizes that things are letters and numbers, and will point them out to us, but all of them are “I!!” E also knows that “R is for Rainbow and (our last name).” At first he was saying “R starts with Rainbow” but thankfully we were able to correct that pretty fast.

My goal is for E to be able to recognize all the letters of the alphabet (upper and lower case) by the summer so that we can start learning sounds. I’m not as interested in him learning sounds right now, but I do think it is important for him to start being able to recognize the letters, and hopefully to be able to write his name soon.

What things are you doing to prepare your child for reading? What age do you think children should start learning sounds? Should recognizing letters and words come before learning sounds? Or should sounds come first? Or should we just expose our kids to both and let them figure things out as they go?

Friday, March 25, 2011

I Like to Look for Rainbows


Well, we finally updated the window. We took the hearts down at the beginning of March, but it has taken us a while to make the rainbows. We painted some rainbows a while ago, but we didn’t put them on the window (because they were more like papers full of different colors than rainbows). We also took a detour for a little and cut out some letters from cardstock.

I got the idea for these rainbows from No Time for Flash Cards (basically my favorite pre-pre-school blog). I didn’t have a lot of crafty bits and pieces, so I made some with construction paper, tissue paper, and old pipe cleaners and some sticky sponge letters.

DSCN4749I threw the “concoction” in a rubber maid drawer, put out some containers for sorting, and had them go for it. E was pretty good at sorting, but Baby just liked to put them in any of the containers, regardless of color (and she liked to move colors from one bin to another – I think we need to work more on colors and sorting with Baby). E was pretty good at fixing Baby’s attempts at sorting.

DSCN4750 DSCN4759When they were done sorting, we had a nice rainbow of crafty pieces. Then I took pieces of butcher paper and drew a rainbow on them. I wish I had remember to get some Elmer’s glue, but all I had was hot glue – so we learned about being very careful around hot glue. I helped Baby with hers, and E did his mostly by himself. His turned out really good, and mine and Baby’s was pretty great, too. Mostly I just put the stuff on and she sat in my lap and watched and played with the pieces of paper and pom poms.DSCN4762DSCN4760

The one plus to the hot glue was that we didn’t have to wait for it to dry. We just cut out our rainbows and stuck them on the window. Speaking of sticking things, I went to The Big Box Store the other day to track down some sticky tack – you know, that stuff that is like silly putty that you use and reuse to hang stuff up? Well, they didn’t have any, but I did find some reusable tape strips by Scotch that seem to work the same way, but are a little neater (i.e., they don’t leave blue marks behind). I’ll let you know how they fare when it’s time to take the rainbows down next month – we’ll do flowers for the end of April – April showers bring May flowers!)

(although right now it is snowing… again…)


Find this post (and more great kids' crafts!) over at the

linky party over at delicateCONSTRUCTION

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My Baby Can Read

Babies don’t need to be able to read, and I don’t think that a baby being able to read is any kind of predictor of their future success in life. However, a baby loving to “read” (so, for a baby, that is being read to) is very significant.

I try to work on “pre”-reading skills with Vincente, and since I plan on homeschooling for at least pre-school and kindergarten, I want to make sure that I am prepared to teach him to read.

Over at  No Time for Flash Cards, they are starting a series on teaching your child to read. The blog is geared to parents of young children (think, toddler – preschool) but the article is really helpful for getting your child ready to read.

I recommend the article, and the blog. The blog is fabulous and I really enjoy reading it. It has really helped me in the theme of this blog – that learning happens in child’s play, not in a classroom or by doing worksheets. No Time for Flash Cards has a wealth of activities and games and play that kids love but is also educational, which is what I want to emphasize in my children’s life. Since we have been doing rainbows this month, I think we are going to do the Color Wheel Match this week, along with making a rainbow for the front window, which we have been slacking on.

Go check out their blog, it is fantastic!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Just Say No to No

We say “No” to our children entirely too often for my taste. Especially the little ones. Is it any wonder that the first word of many babies is “no”? With my first, I was always very careful not to say “no” to him. If he was getting into something he shouldn’t be getting into, I would redirect him and show him something he could get into. (For example, if he was trying to pull out the glass bowls, I would show him the plastic ones, trying to make them look infinitely more appealing than the glass ones – then I would push the glass bowls farther back in the cupboard).

I don’t know if it’s because I am older and so I’ve forgotten a little more what it was like to be a child, or if it’s because I have two children, or if it’s because we moved five times last year and drove half way across the country for four of those moved, or what – but I say “No” a lot more. Especially with my baby. Which is ironic.

So, I am going on a “No” strike.
I am going to try my hardest NOT to tell my children “No.”

Now for those of you worrying that I am going to spoil my children, I didn’t say that I was going to allow my children to do anything they wanted to or get anything they want. But there are better ways to stop undesirable behavior than saying “No” all the time, and I want to experiment and see if it makes my children more obedient and me less stressed.

Think about it. If you’re doing something someone doesn’t want you to do and they say “Stop that right now!” you would probably get frustrated – not to mention embarrassed. But what if they said “Hey, could you come over here and help me with this thing? If you keep doing that, ____ is going to happen.” (fill in the blank with the reason why you shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing). It is also helpful, I think, to talk about why that thing happening is undesirable. Face it, if you tell a two year old not to throw something on the floor because it will shatter into a million pieces, they will probably throw it on the ground. But if you say “Why don’t we put that glass bowl up here on the counter. If we drop it an it breaks, we won’t be able to mix our cakes (cookies, etc) in it.” And then, immediately act – that is, if said child isn’t obeying right away, gently guide their hands to put the bowl where you want it (use only as much force as is necessary to get them to do it – you may not even have to touch them, they might just need you near them to do it.

Here is a real life example from this morning. I bought some cheap plastic planters from the store to repot my poinsettias, and they were sitting out while we were cutting out letters (more about that later). Well, empty buckets are just begging to be stepped in, so in go the feet. At first I wanted to yell “No! Get your feet out of my planters!” in a really stern tone. And I got as far as “No” before I remembered that I’m trying not to do that. So I said, “These pots aren’t for stepping in. If we step in them, they might break, and then we wouldn’t be able to put our plants in them” (since I had promised earlier that the kids could help plant the poinsettias, this was very effective). And then rather than stopping there, I said, “Why don’t we sort our letters into the buckets?” which was met with enthusiasm and we sorted letters.

So, which was more instructive? Just saying “No! Don’t step in my pots!” or what I ended up doing? Not only did they learn that if they step in stuff, it might break, but we also ended up with a fun sorting game that ended up being really educational.

This can also extend to your children asking for something to eat/do/play to which the answer is “no.” Instead of your child asking “Can I watch T.V.?” and you responding with “No.” try responding with an alternative activity and then participate in the activity WITH your child. For example, “Why don’t we read a book together, instead?” “Why don’t we go ride bikes?” “Why don’t we go play in the rain/snow/sleet?” (okay, I’m kidding about the sleet… but you get the picture). Same with food. “Can I have some cake?” “Why don’t I cut up and apple and let’s dip it in peanut butter?”

Here is my challenge to you – for the next 31 days (I’ll remind you on the blog) try to use alternatives to “no” with your children.

Here are some suggestions to help:

1.) Redirect the behavior. If possible, show the child how to use the object in a desirable way, or how to act in a desirable way in the circumstance.

2.) Explain how the action is offensive/undesirable, and try to explain why and make it matter to them.

3.) Get up and move. Physically help the child to do the desirable action. Be gentle, but firm.

4.) PRAISE the child when they begin to do the desirable action.


Let me know how this works for you. Is this your parenting style already? How does it work for you? Are the other methods that you use to try not to say “No” to your children?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Also known as March to us English-speaking folks.








The calendar is paying off! Spring weather is always pretty unpredictable, no matter where you live, and our home is no exception. Just last week the weather was warming up – getting into the mid 50s. And then Tuesday we had a freak snowstorm, and now we’re back to mid 50s. Well, it has made for a frequently changing calendar, since we put a “weather word” on the day.

In the morning, we looked outside and chose the correct weather word to describe the day. The day it snowed (before it was snowing), it was partly cloudy outside, so we put the “neblado” sticker on that day. By the late afternoon, it was snowing. I think I was on the couch reading when Little E ran to me and said “I put the snow sticker on because it’s snowing!”

Today, the same thing happened – only opposite. This morning when we drove to a friend’s house to pick her up, it was quite windy, so when we got home, we put the “está ventando” sticker on today. Later, as I was in the living room chatting with said friend, the sun came out full force. Little E ran to me again, this time saying “I had to put sun on! Because, look! The sun!”

So I have to say the calendar has been a major success. He hasn’t been learning much Portuguese from it (although I have). But he has been learning about the weather. And most importantly, he has learned that the weather can change.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

R is for Rainbow


DSCN4612Since it is no longer February, we decided that the hearts needed to come down off the window, and a new theme needed to replace it. So we decided on rainbows! We were going to make a rainbow for the window yesterday, but instead we just painted rainbows with water colors, and painted a rainbow R. Which reminds me – I don’t know how to say rainbow in Portuguese. We’ll figure that one out this week.

DSCN4613This afternoon, when the babies wake up from naps (yay for both of them napping these days! I guess I am sufficiently wearing them out!), we will make the rainbow for the window. I think that tomorrow we will play some counting and sorting games with colors.

I have been realizing that I need to expose Little E to numbers and letters a lot more. He knows his numbers… sort of. He used to know his letters when he was little tiny (smaller than Baby E) but I think that was a natural consequence of going to college with his mom. Now that we’re at home playing all the time, I neglect talking about letters.

Although, we’ve been reading a lot more lately, and he’s starting to ask me where words are in books. Particularly when we read the scriptures. We read scriptures each morning as part of our morning devotional – basically, I read it and he repeats. We also read scriptures together as a family before bed. The past few times we have read scriptures, when we read something for him to repeat, he will ask “Is __(repeat what I just said)_ right here?” and then he’ll point to some of the words. I take this as a sign that he is ready to start learning about reading. But first we need to learn some basics. For right now, when I read I have started pointing to the words as I read, so that Little E can solidify his hunch that those marks on the page have something to do with the story I am telling. I also encourage him when he repeats some of the words with me.

Another note about his reading – He is very good at reciting a story, or telling me what happened/is happening. His “reading” comprehension is amazing, and I’m glad, because that’s more important than being able to read at a 6th grade level when he is 5. So, now we just have to be careful not to sabotage his comprehension abilities. And we need to work on expanding his Portuguese vocabulary (which means, I need to work on expanding my Portuguese vocabulary!)


We’re getting back in the swing of things, and hopefully I can continue to blog about it.

I also found a few really neat blogs about learning through play and I will be posting about those blogs soon.

PS I need to remember this link forever and always. This is how you fix the images in windows live writer for wordpress. Here.