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
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:
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 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.!!
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.
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.
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.