homeschooling · learning and kids · literacy development and children · story time · summer and kids

Talking Race With Our Children

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?

https://tedx.stanford.edu/lineup/beverly-daniel-tatum

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.

https://www.npr.org/2019/04/24/716700866/talking-race-with-young-children?fbclid=IwAR262i36JkNreR2lYg0pPPHDPL9u6iyHSVkMV2vrR3Ehdl-1oG-0ZlXKMrY

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.

https://www.patreon.com/theconsciouskid

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.

http://www.thetututeacher.com/

https://www.vashtiharrison.com/books

With Love & Solidarity,

Letty

xoxoxo

homeschooling · learning and kids · literacy development and children

What does home school look like during a pandemic?

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.

 

learning and kids

Gift Recommendations For Kids/Bilingual Babies

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/

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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.

https://www.kidkraft.com/us_en/dollhouses/dollhouses.html

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https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Hape+wooden+dollhouses&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

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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. LilLibros-Announcement_large[1].jpg

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.

loteria-lil-libros[1].jpg

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.

xoxoxo

 

 

bilingual learning · Children and letter writing · homeschooling · learning and kids · literacy development and children

Make Learning Fun!

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.

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homeschooling · learning and kids · story time

What Would Danny Do?

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.

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learning and kids · literacy development and children

Back To School Tips For Parents

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

https://www.tocber.com/—-hot-cold-jar-bo–food-for-bento-pack—-insulated—thermos-food-and-temperature-leak-proof-zones-lunch–2-kids–pink—omiebo–compartments–3-for-berry–two

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.

https://www.instructables.com/id/Create-a-Maker-Space-for-Kids/

learning and kids · summer and kids

The City Is Your Child’s Playground

Summer in the city is yes! very hot, but it’s also a great playground for children. There are countless places to take them. I like to combine my son’s summer with a scheduled camps with a bit of fun. Here are some fun places I like to take my son in the summer:

Central Park– choose a playground to go to, they are all great, then take your child over to Alice’s Teacup. They will have a blast.

Union Square Playground– It has a very modern layout and it’s gated, so the layout is very convenient.

Museum of Natural History– You can spend the entire day there. Take your own lunch or go to Shake Shack across the street.

Brooklyn Bridge Park– They have a playground, a pool, and a picnic area, not to mention the best ice cream shop and pizza! Check out Lombardi’s and Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.

Brooklyn Botanic Gardens-  They are free every Tuesday

Brooklyn Children’s Museum– It’s a wonderful space and they layout is very easy to watch the kids while they play and discover.

Prospect Park– Zucker Natural Exploration Area- This is a hidden gem in the park. Children climb through hollow trees and pump water.

bilingual children · bilingual learning · homeschooling · learning and kids · literacy development and children

Cooking=Math, Reading, and Science

I try to do a few activities with my son during the week. They are usually arts and crafts and cooking related. One week we made blueberry bars. It’s the easiest recipe ever. The hard part is making the bar look like the one in the recipe picture. I’m not the best baker, but I try. I learned about this recipe in Against All Grains book. It’s a simple recipe and in the process I learned how to make blueberry jam. It’s easy and I can’t believe I didn’t learn this sooner. My son enjoyed spreading the jam on the almond flour dough. I did a lot of the heavy work, but the point is we do the activity together. He learns about measurement, how to read a recipe, and the importance of portions in Spanish. It’s a fun way to learn new words such as “una cucharra” or “una taza.” He feels very proud of himself for knowing Spanish. Here is the picture of the blueberry bars. I don’t want to show my horrible baking. This is better. IMG_4649 (1)

bilingual children · homeschooling · learning and kids

Pizza

I try to do a few activities with my son during the week. They are usually arts and crafts. This week we made pizza using an almond flour pizza dough recipe. It’s the easiest recipe. I have to say this is more for me than for him. I’m fine with him having regular bread, but for the sake of not making two meals we used almond flour dough. He really enjoyed adding the ingredients and rolling the dough. He learned words such as masa and ingredientes.  This is a great opportunity to teach him kids about the joys of cooking and healthy eating.

We used Simple Mills Pizza Dough. You bake it for about 15 minutes then take it out and add the pizza ingredients, then put it back in the oven. It tastes best fresh out of the over.

bilingual learning · homeschooling · learning and kids · literacy development and children

Reading Detective Kit

I am currently working with children on not only having strong comprehension skills, but also making sure their fluency and word problem solving skills are strong and consistent. I decided to put a “kit” together. Students can use this as a reference while reading at home with a family member. Here is what my kit contains:

  1. reading marker-it’s a highlighted strip that children can put over a sentence and not get distracted by the other sentences.
  2. reading strategy bookmark- students can use it while reading when they approach a difficult word.
  3. retelling hand– students use their hand to retell a story by identifying the character, their actions, problem, and solution.
  4. story sequence sheet– students use linking words to talk about what happens first, then, next, after, and lastly.
  5. questioning– Students discuss stories by asking I wonder . . . why, how, when in relation to the story.
  6. main idea and details-students use a graphic organizer to talk about non-fiction stories.

Kids enjoy using tangible materials that help them become stronger readers.