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Covid Chronicles. . .Yes Day!

I’m always trying to change it up and do fun things as family. We were watching TV and learned about the movie “Yes Day.” If you haven’t watched it, it’s a must see! It’s silly and over the top. The most important message is let your kids have a voice, don’t forget to be silly and have fun with them.

As we are watching the movie, my son and I look at one another and start laughing. He excitedly asks me if he can do it. I wonder oh gosh what crazy things are my husband and I going to have to do? He creates a list of activities: card games, running around the backyard, visiting the playground, and having play dough fun. We laughed so much together. It turned out to be a wonderful day that included running around and laughing. We ended our day with pizza at the beach.

This year of COVID has taken a toll on my son. He’s had frequent nightmares, cries a lot and asks for a lot of hugs. My husband and I give him as much of a normal life as we can, filled with outdoor fun and special family time. Having Yes Day isn’t just about letting a child have his/her way, it’s about providing new experiences and making memories. I hope that he will one day look back and remember all the fun things we did as a family.

Uncategorized

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 · Uncategorized

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.

 

Children and letter writing · Uncategorized

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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Bilingual Babies!

There are many benefits to teaching children more than one language. Some of the benfits are: language coactivation (when you hear a word you don’t recognize, your brain automatically idenitfies it in both languages), the executive function is activated differently (different parts of the brain are activated in comparison to monolingual children and it transefers that information differently), it benefits the child’s self-esteem, and they have a deeper cognitive development. That being said, I’ve spoken to our son in Spanish since he was in the womb. I make it a point to only speak to him in Spanish and my husband speaks to him in English.

My son completed his first year of Pre-K Dual Language. We are really happy with all the work his teacher did with him. He can speak and listen without support. He knows his letters, numbers, colors, days of the week, and months in Spanish. He loves to sing and dance. He is not only proud to speak the language, but also proud of his culture. Now that summer is upon us, he only has me to speak Spanish with him.

It’s been a while since I’ve taught children Spanish, so I had to do some research on how to start Spanish literacy with him. I found some great resources online. I am focusing on the vowels first and then starting him on learning open syllables (for example, he is learning ma, me, mi, mo, mu this week). Here are some activities he is completing. We do about 20-30 minutes of structured literacy activities per day. The rest of the time is conversational and games. The key is to make it fun!

Tips for kids 0-5– read a lot in Spanish, name everything around you in Spanish, sing songs, read poems, and play games. If one parent is choosing to speak Spanish (or any other language besides English) to the child, do not switch to English. Your child has to know you only respond and they get what they in need in Spanish. Check out your local libraries for read alouds and sing alongs. It’s great modeling for your child.

Disclaimer- I do not expect my son to read this young. He’s very curious about reading, but I know he has more than 2 years to master it. It’s important for my husband and I to nurture his home language. So he will learn to read in Spanish first.

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Big Changes Mean New Beginnings

In the fall I started my new job, THE dream job. It’s everything I look for in a school and position. After everything else going on in life, this is a little piece God has given me to help me smile a little. Two months into work, I start getting allergies, very severe allergies. I don’t really suffer from allergies, but in the past few years, they’ve increased in severity. No matter what I take, they won’d quite go away. Now we are in later November and I am still suffering from allergies. The pharmacist tells me it’s a combination of severe allergies and a cold. So here I go with more medicine. I’m sleeping under a humidifier with essential oils in it. I notice some difference but not much. It goes away, but then comes back a few days later. Do I have to get back onto medication?

One week before Christmas break. I wake to dizziness and not being able to breathe. I am tired and feel warm. I grab my asthma pump and realize it’s expired. I literally never use it. My husband wants to wake our 4 year old son. My independent self says, “no I can uber there. Don’t wake him” Deep down I was worried, I didn’t know what was happening, but I didn’t want to worry my family. So off I go, messaging my husband through every step of the emergency room experience.  They check my vitals and do x-rays. By this time I am tired and weak. The doctor worries I am losing oxygen to the brain so he does further testing. Test results comes back, this is not the case, and I am put on a machine to clear my lungs. I am diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection. I am prescribed a 5-day steriod. For anyone who knows me, I don’t like taking meds unless absolutely necessary. I am relieved that I have found the problem and now I will get better. So I thought!

One week later, we fly to California. I’m still tired and my chest is tight throughout our vacation. It was a rough trip health wise and emotionally. I’m just not feeling myself and it’s the first holiday without my mom. Now, living in New York, I’m used to many holidays where I celebrated with my mom over the phone. But Christmas 2018, She is physically not here. She is gone. That is heart breaking. I push through the holidays and 2 weeks into January. I’m sick again, with fever, cough, asthma, sinus issues, you name it. I started to connect the dots and realize that this is not just a cold. The doctor isn’t even sure at this point. She wants to send me to an allergist. Of course the allergist can’t see me for 2 months.

I decide to take things into my own hands. I follow a few health blogs and learn that certain foods can upset your stomach and are also high histamine inducing foods. Who knew! In return these causes sinus issues, etc. I decide to reach out to my accupuncturist Stephanie.  She is amazing! Stephanie starts asking me questions, “what’s changed, any big event happen?” Me…”hmmm no not really, I have a new job?” She keeps asking, then it clicks, in between tears I tell her my mom passed away. She starts explaining how the lungs and grief are connected and diet affects the amount of histamine in your body. She recommends regular accupuncture and cutting out all processed foods. At this point, I will stand on my head just to feel better.

And 4 months later, I am feeling much better! I no longer eat processed foods and only stick to fresh veggies, fruit, and protein. I have a pretty healthy diet in general, but I love my sweets and crispy snacks. It’s really made me think about what I eat and what I feed my family.

It also made me think about how emotional stress affects the body and shows itself in different ways. I hope my story will inspire others to focus on how grief impacts our daily life. Grief is a process and there is no time line for it. We all grieve in different ways.

I found a few blogs that really helped me focus on what can be triggering my allergies. If you are experiencing similar symptoms, check them out.

Amy Myers MD

https://www.amymyersmd.com/2017/10/histamine-intolerance/

With Love From Kat

Common Causes of Bloating and Digestion Problems

 

Uncategorized

Self-Love

Happy Valentines Day! What is everyone doing for this “Hallmark Holiday?” Florists hike up the prices and restaurants offer pre-fix menus. We all fall for it…ha! In all seriousness, I think it’s a great time of the year to touch base with our loved ones and do something extra special with them. Most importantly, having a little one has changed my view on how I show love. I show love to myself by taking care of myself, eating healthy, and doing things that make me happy. This allows me to give my best to my family and teach them that we have to love ourselves first before loving anyone else.

I created a self-love project with my son. I found this fun activity on a teacher website. It’s a sheet with a mason jar and it has line paper next to it. I asked my son what does he love about himself. My heart skipped a beat as I heard him say all these loving characteristics about himself. Next, I printed out mini hearts and he told me what character traits to write on the hearts. It’s a great way to work on self-esteem and check in with our children. I want to make sure my son is happy and that he knows how valuable he is in this world. “I am kindness. I want to give to people who don’t have food.” – 4 year old words- Happy Valentines Day!IMG_2204

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Am I getting it?

The last component of reading is comprehension. It’s about that time of the year where children are being pushed to read for meaning vs. reading for decoding. We want to have authentic conversations about the stories we read with our children. I made this fiction comprehension checklist and taped it on every child’s desk. This is great to have at home in a reading notebook, folder or on their desk. Click link . . . Fiction Comprehension Checklist 2