It’s summer and camps are closed! What next . . . ? Read my blog post on Multilingualkidblogs! I give great tips on how to survive the summer with your little ones. Click the link below
In light of recent events, I keep thinking about what can I do as an educator and activist? What can I do to support and change the systemic racism that exist in our society. Racism is all around us, just open a magazine, shop online, and look at billboards. Too often, I look for story books that depict lives of children that look like my son, I come up empty handed. Thank goodness for the movie Coco. Not only is my son excited to see a little boy that looks like him, but also speaks Spanish! You better believe I bought every book about Miguel!
Racism is real, it does exist. What happened to George Floyd is one of many stories that unfortunately happens in the black community on a regular basis. There are so many things that anger me in all of this, the most important is that this still happens. What also angers me is that I think the media takes advantage of these situations and causes a lot of anxiety with their round the clock reporting. I also cringe when I hear that certain people are taking advantage of this situation and organizing looting and hate crimes.
We are all angry, we have to find ways to come together to make a change and not participate in a broken system and cycle of hate and tension.
In addition to our children having to deal with COVID, they now have to witness, experience, and process what racism means. That is a lot to take in! How do we explain to our little ones that they might be looked at differently, singled out because of the color of their skin, or told a stereotype about their culture. I read a quote from a friend on Instagram that basically states that children of color do not get the privilege of not talking about racism at a young age. I couldn’t agree more.
I’ve collected a list of resources that I plan on using to teach my son. I am listing them below in hopes of helping parents of color naviagte their way through these conversations.
1. Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum talks about teaching her toddler son about race and identify. She is the author of Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In the Cafeteria?
2. Life Kit For Parents: NPR has a great 20 minute conversation about how to talk to children as young as 4 years old about race. They provide concrete examples on what to say to children.
3. Sesame Street and CNN partner up to explain to children about racism and how it currently affects the black community. Wonderful job Sesame Street! They really provide kids with clear and child friendly language.
4. The Conscious Kid blog provides so many resources for children of all ages. They post articles about social justice and how media influences children. I really love the layout. I recently found a list titled 41 Children’s Books To Support Conversations About Race, Racism, And Resistance. I highly recommend it! You pay $1 and you can access their articles and resources.
5. If you are like me and constantly looking for books that represent diversity, I highly recommend The Tutu Teacher and Vashti Harrison websites. They have fantastic recommendations.
With Love & Solidarity,
There are so many wonderful online resources for our children. Here are some that I’ve collected along the way. They provide learning experiences for questioning, exploration, and discussion.
Here are some fun online resources you can do with your children at home.
Facebook live Farm Sanctuary
Facebook Live Cincinnati Zoo
Museum Virtual Tours:
Friday Kahlo Museum Virtual Tour! La Casa Azul-Mexico!
Happy Numbers-math games
Raz Kids-reading books online with questions and children can record their reading
Suzi Shelton– She is an incredible singer! She is an award winning singer and song writer. Tune in everyday.
Museum of Natural History Smithsonian and New York Location
Live Read Alouds on PBS Live Youtube/Facebook with Michelle Obama at 12:00 pm E.T.
The pitter patter of kids running through school hallways has come to a halt. As families are readjusting to this new life of working full-time and teaching their children, education is taking on a new form. Children have limited outdoor resources due to social distancing.
Although I am a teacher with over 15 years of experience, even I am shaken up by the rapid change of quarantining and scrambling for an online classroom experience.
So what does home school look like in the middle of a pandemic? Home school is taking on its own life in our home. In traditional home schooling, parents create a schedule that fits their child’s need, families meet up with other children throughout the day, and parents use the outdoors for memorable learning experiences.
Now parents are faced with developing a schedule that fits their work schedule. Everyone is scrambling to work from home while watching their children. Children can’t go outside and learn through nature, they can not met with friends, and babysitters can not come over to help.
I am fortunate enough to have some flexibility when it comes to my son’s school schedule. My son completes work during small blocks of time. He is offered a lot of breaks that include play time and art projects. It’s a transition for everyone, but we try to focus on the positive. We are healthy and together!
Yes learning is important, but my priority is his social-emotional well being. He can be the smartest child in his group, but in this situation, it doesn’t matter. It takes a toll on our little ones. Children show stress/anxiety/sadness in different ways. They might yell or cry a lot. Their sleep cycle can change or they might not make it to the bathroom on time. They might feel angry too. It’s important for parents to recognize any signs of stress their child is feeling.
That being said, we do a lot of fun activities together. we bike ride, learn to draw different animals, tune into live zoo activity streams, and listen to music for children. Whatever we do, I try to create as many fun experiences for him. His happiness is more important than his academics. I know it sounds terrible, but I don’t want him to live in fear. I want him to look back on this time and say yes we were home a lot, but my parents taught me to cook, created art projects with me, and participated in imaginative play with me. I had lot of fun! Children are perceptive and notice every change and stress in their parent’s lives.
I don’t have a concrete answer for what does homes schooling look like during a pandemic. What I can say is to make it special and memorable. As tiring as it can be, our children look to us for love, support and stability. Do we have tough days, of course we do! We have more special, memorable, and happy days. These are the days that matter.
Give your child a lot of hugs and kisses, that is the most important part of homeschooling. Parents we are in this together. I strongly believe that parents are the first teacher in their child’s life. Teaching them at home is a blessing, not a burden during this time.
It’s that time of the year! Here is a list of gift ideas for your kids. I am big on hands-on learning experiences. Children should be given the opportunity to explore and discover when they are not outdoors. They are easily hooked onto gadgets, so whatever you can do to provide engaging opportunities that do not involve an ipad or iPhone, the better.
Stem Bridge Building from Lakeshore Store- for elementary aged kids – For the kid builder, consider giving them something that challenges them, but also makes it fun. There are 8 picture cards and bridge building materials included. Children pick a card and try to create the bridge with the materials in the box. This helps kids problem, solve and compromise. They can work alone or with a partner, or a few friends.
Me Reader Kit-found on Amazon and Costco!- great for toddlers, pre-k-2nd grade kids- This is a gift given by a dear friend. L- loves this book set. It is a modern version book on tape/CD listening center. There are 8 color-coded books that match a recorder. The reader chooses the book you want, and presses that color on the recorder. The narrator starts reading the book to your child. When the narrator is done with the page, the reader hears a bell and they know to turn the page. On the top of the next page is a colored square. The reader presses that same color on the recorder and the narrator reads the next page. After a few tries, Lucas caught onto the color coded system for reading the books.
I can’t tell you how beneficial these books are to pre-readers/early readers. They are listening to model reading, they can point to the words as the recognize them. The stories are short and cute. My son can sit there for a long time and just listen to the stories over and over. I’ve seen other ones at Costco such as Frozen and Thomas The Train.
Osmo – If you are looking for an I-pad gift consider Osmo for children ages 3-11. This game hooks up to your I-pad. Young children can learn the alphabet, build words, work on matching games, and it offers coding and number activities. We don’t have one yet, but we are considering it for our son. Here is their website, you can also find them on Amazon. https://www.playosmo.com/en/
Dollhouses- Kidkraft has great choices. They are wooden dollhouses that last a long time and they have quality roomsettings to add to the dollhouses. They are a bit pricey, I attached some Amazon choices as well. Amazon has Hape, which is also a great choice! What better way than to het your kids interested in imaginative play than through providing a setting for them.
Lil Libros are great beginner books for bilingual children. My son loves to read them over and over. I’ve shared then on my blog before. We recently purchased El Chavo. If you are raising a bilingual baby, consider these books. Their website is linked here. https://lillibros.com/ They can also be found at Target and Amazon.
They have a Loteria for children. We don’t own this because I bought a different version for my son a few years ago. This is a great way to make Spanish learning fun.
Spanish File Folder Game-Lakeshore- I am considering this game for my pre-reader. If your child is on the verge of reading in Spanish, this game looks like it will help your bilingual baby work on his/her conversational skills. You can find it here. https://www.lakeshorelearning.com/products/language/spanish-ell-materials/spanish-file-folder-game-library-pre-span-stylewhite-space-nowrapk-k-span/p/FF374
Here are some of my top picks. I hope you find them helpful.
Once your child starts school (as in pre-k) the pressure is on! Children are learning their alphabet and colors at a much younger age. Whatever you do, don’t measure your child against his/her peers. Each child learns at a different rate and when it comes to reading children technically have until the end of second grade to master reading. Did you know that in some European countries children are taught to read in second grade and not Kindergarten like in the U.S.
It’s so important for our children to play and spend as much time outdoors as possible. Dramatic play and discovery is important in the elementary years. Hands on learning is the best type of learning in my opinion.
My son is in K and his teacher gave me a list of words he should know. I looked at it and laughed. There is no way I am doing boring flash card drills with my kid. He loves homework and wants to learn to read. He is always asking me to read labels and titles for him. I tell I’m he will read when his brain is ready. He is curious about letter sounds and learning words. I notice he loves to paint, so I gave him a few words and he painted the words on paper. He had a lot of fun and enjoyed figuring out the sounds. It seems like a better way to teach words rather then putting them on a flash card. I don’t know if we will do it everyday, but it is a great way to integrate art and literary. So before you run to the store and buy flash cards consider tapping into your child’s interests to teach them new things.
Lil Libros is a publishing company I discovered when a family member gave Lucas his first board book. Since then, I am obsessed with the company. I love how relatable the books are for small children. Some books are about counting in Spanish, while others are about learning colors and shapes in Spanish. The illustrations are beautiful and the pages are easy to turn for little hands.
One of our parental goals is to make sure our son is bilingual. We always look for books that offer our son an authentic experience. Quality Spanish books are hard to find, they are poorly translated alot of the times. I think Lil Libros does a great job of providing quality Spanish books for babies and toddlers.
In El Chavo, the pages have short sentences with repetitive phrases on each page. This is a great book to teach children to read in Spanish. Children can use the pictures to help them figure out the words. After a few reads, children will catch on to the repetitive phrases and read the book in no time. He enjoys trying to read it and looking for El Chavez on each page.
What Would Danny Do? is a book that teaches children how to make good choices. Meet Danny a 7/8 year old boy that has to make good choices when encountering challenging situations. The author does a wonderful job of giving scenarios that are relatable to children and depending on your child’s answer, you can read a good choice or a bad choice. The choices are realistic and really help children think about the cause and effect of situations. It’s also very funny. Children see themselves in the various scenarios. I also love this book because it’s about a little boy. It is hard to find books that have boys as the main character.
Enjoy reading with your kiddos. Buy it I promise it will be well worth it.
It’s that time of year again, we are gearing up for back to school routines and schedules. It is tricky to go from relaxing summer days where kids have a flexible bedtime, late dinners, or hey let’s go get some ice cream and push bedtime. That being said the transition from summer to the school year can feel hectic and unpleasant at times. If you haven’t already started a bedtime routine start now!
Start putting your kids to bed earlier and get them up early for breakfast, changing their clothes, and brushing their teeth. Get them out the door and take them around the block or to the park just so they get the feel of the routine. You will get resistance the first few days, but I guarantee you, it will save you a lot of headaches when school starts. I posted about a visual summer schedule. Now create a school morning schedule. It will minimize you repeating directions and getting impatient. It will also give your child a sense of accomplishment, so don’t forget to acknowledge their effort with a high 5, a sticker, or a special treat at the end of the week.
I work in education so I am fortunate to have an early pick up time for my son. That being said, I do put him in after school programs twice a week. His school has a lot of great choices. I try to pick an activity he will enjoy. He does gymnastics twice a week. It’s a good way to get his energy out. I think kids need more time than 15-20 minutes of daily recess. I say tap into your child’s interest. Let them explore new interests as well. If your child does not attend after school programs and has a sitter, I am a firm believer in down time (if they are under the age of 7 years old) I know your kid is bouncing off the wall! Because they are over stimulated from all the movement, learning, and expectations. In school they are expected to listen and sit still and walk up and down the stairs and sit in a LOUD cafeteria for lunch. It’s a lot! I’ve worked with kids for over 15 years and I can tell you that they are tired. Rest time does not include a smartphone or iPad. They can read a book, color, or draw. They can even lay in bed and just stare at the wall. My son still naps. I have to see how this school year goes before his nap is taken away. He is happier with a nap.
You can start with homework right away, if your child is not the resting type. Your child does not get homework?! Ask the teacher how you can support your child at home, head over to Barnes and Noble and pick up some grade appropriate workbooks. For K-2 kids, I suggest 30 minutes a day of homework excluding daily reading with an adult. Studies show there is no benefit to homework in grades K-2. Everyday doesn’t have to be a homework day either. Monday can involve a learning game, Tuesday complete a traditional homework sheet/workbook, Wednesday is arts and crafts day, Thursday have your little one build something with blocks or magna-tiles then they have to explain their creation. Have them make signs for their creation. Friday is free choice. Maybe they help you cook. This takes a lot of pre-planning, but it will be a great “homework” experience for them.
Here are some back to school resources: Any of the games below can be rotated as homework!
A leak proof lunch box! It keeps things hot and cold. You can find it on Amazon
I love everything Leapfrog
Teach your pre-k/k kids spelling and reading with picture support
This link is for arts and crafts. It’s called Maker Space. Next time you do art with your kids make it purposeful.
Traveling with our children can feel daunting at times. There is so much to remember, especially when they are infants. I’ve learned a lot from traveling with our son. We take him everywhere with us. I’ve had people tell me, oh you need to take time for yourselves or just leave him with family. That is easier said than done and it’s just not something I feel comfortable doing. Don’t get me wrong, we have plenty of family and friends we know he will be in good hands. I think there is a time for everything and we just haven’t hit that time yet. Ha!
I used to try to travel “light” with our son. I don’t know what I was thinking. I would try to carry all of our stuff on a carry on and pack my bags to the max. I’ve learned that I should pack what I feel is important for my family and who cares if it’s too much stuff. So I makes lists of everything I need. I start with clothes and shoes, then move into toiletries, medicine, etc. When our son was an infant, I packed the breast pump a few diapers for the ride, bottles, etc. I learned about some things I don’t have to pack if I am visiting family such as a pack and play for sleeping, a stroller, and even a car seat because it just makes everything easier. I order a box of diapers and formula to arrive before us. I decided that we all need our own suitcase.So we each have a suitcase and packing cubes. Packing cubes changed my life. My son loves using them now. They are so easy to use and very helpful for organizing. My son has a set of toys he keeps while visiting family as well. I allow him to pack about 5 toys and a stuffed animal and his favorite blankie. If we are on vacation, he still takes the same amount of toys because we are so busy, he barely plays with them. I make sure that the hotel we stay in has a bed and child friendly activities for him that do not include watching television. I also specify that I need a car seat in the car picking us up. If they can’t supply it, then I bring my own car seat. I take everything I think will make my son feel comfortable for the flight and stay. If he is unhappy. then we are all miserable.
Once on the flight, he plays and reads books and he is allowed to watch a movie now that he is older. He knows he has to sleep at one point. It’s just a given and he doesn’t fight it. When he was an infant, I would walk him up and down the aisle and let him do whatever he wanted. I think I remember one bad flight where he just wasn’t happy, but overall he is a good traveler. As long as he doesn’t bother other people or make noise. I’ve seen parents try to keep their crawling infants or barely walking toddlers still and not let them out of their seat. I know it’s hard, but just let them roam, they need the movement and sensory input. I remember one time my son refused to sit or lay down on the seat. He wanted to lay on the floor. I know I am cringing! I set all his blankets on the floor and he fell asleep on top of them. It wasn’t something I would allow him to do, but it was a battle I didn’t want to fight.
As for food, I pack snacks and a meal for him. Some snacks I love are Babel cheese, crackers, organic fig bars, fruit and a veggies. I try to pick easy meals like pasta with veggies or a turkey and cheese sandwich.
Traveling with kids is a learning experience for the parents too. I say all rules are off, be flexible, and let them walk up and down the aisle. It will make things easier for you in the long run.
Here are some of my favorite things to travel with: