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.

 

 

 

Summer schedules

Summer is here! The sunsets at 8:30 pm- 9:00 pm and why have an early bedtime, right? It is definitely hard to get our little one to settle down and get ready for bed. What I’ve learned is that routine is important and makes everyone’s life easier. During the summer sticking to that schedule can make it even more challenging. A lot kids are at camp or with grandparents, so schedules are non-existant for some. I am fortunate enough to stay home with my son all summer. He has a mix of  fun mom and dad time, along with camps, and spending time with family. He just completed his first year or pre-k, so I know he is used to a schedule. I’ve given him some time to hang out and not really be on a schedule. He goes to bed late 1-2 nights a week and the rest of the time he sticks to a schedule.

I decided to create a schedule like he has at school. I don’t write the times, I just number each activity. It’s all written in Spanish and my husband drew a small picture next to it. He seems to like it so far. He knows exactly what is going on and he doesn’t ask me, “que hacemos ahora momma?” Here is an example of a schedule.  It doesn’t have to be fancy. This family posted it on the fridge which is a great idea. Schedules provide predicablity, stability, sense of routine, a sense of secutiry and I promise you! Minimal meltdowns.!!

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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.

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)

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.

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

 

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

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.

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

Blowing you kisses Valentine!!

If you want to think of a way to create Valentine cards at home with your kids this is one idea where I incorporate what my son likes to do. So we try to provide opportunities for him to paint often. He starts his cards by painting white paper in different colors and we cut out small hearts out of the paper. Next, we write a message on the back and we attach candy to the hearts.

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