Archive for October, 2007

Oct 30 2007

Every Child is Different

How often have you heard the aged-old cliché that “Every child is different”?

More importantly, how often have you, as parents, actively and positively done something about your children’s differences in regards to furthering their education?

I’m not talking about actively treating each of your children differently and making excuses for their weakness.

I’m talking about actively extenuating their differences and positively encouraging our children to turn their weaknesses into their newest strengths?

As a mother of two, I faced many differences in my daughters; perhaps because I treated them differently. I noticed that I enabled my older child, and picked up after the younger one.

As an early child education author and advocate, I noticed that their personal weaknesses, through some influence on my part, may have a direct impact on their ability to learn, so I had to address each issue one by one.

It was most apparent to me when my younger child was entering Kindergarten. I felt a compelling need to write a letter to my daughter’s teacher and give it to her on the first day of school.

The main points I wanted to address were as follows:

  • My husband and I were much better prepared for our second and last daughter to attend Kindergarten.
  • We enabled our first daughter by doing everything for her, while our second daughter is much more independent and has more advanced social skills.
  • Our daughters learn at different paces.
  • Difficult areas include, letters and numbers out of sequence, often confusing the q and p; w, n and m; and 9 and 6, and holding her pencil in an unconventional manner.

Our second daughter is:

  • Spoiled and very stubborn. She tends to hide in corners when she’s stressed and sharing is very difficult for her.
  • A leader and prefers to be the center of attention. She may giggle in line and encourage others to follow her lead.
  • Used to having me pick up after her, so keeping things clean may warrant your help.
  • Runs to the bathroom at the very last second because she’s usually eagerly preoccupied with her activities. But, once she’s in the bathroom the amazement of soap suds can keep her extremely content for a prolonged period of time.
  • “Too big” for naps and hasn’t taken one in months. However, if she’s really tired and hasn’t gone to the bathroom she may fall into a deep sleep and make an accident.
  • Compulsive in some of her routines; such as, she can only eat pizza and hotdogs when they’re cut into small piece, because Mommy once said its better for her. She also must have a spoon and fork on her tray even though she may not use them both, as she copies Daddy’s odd but ingrained habit.
  • While I listed many of my daughter weaknesses, our baby will always raise to the occasion, and when instructed politely can be a teacher’s best helper. My husband and I are actively working with her and eager for her to succeed. She’s eagerly waited for this day, as she already sees herself as a “big girl”, which I have yet to.

Now you’ll understand why I’ll be crying uncontrollably as I walk sobbing down the hall after leaving my little baby in your care.

This is only one example how I, as a parent, felt a need to actively address the issues concerning my daughter’s education. And, kindergarten is not too early.

Be involved from the beginning and your child’s education will flourish.

Copyright 2007– Stacey Kannenberg, Cedar Valley Publishing, Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

How do you acknowledge and celebrate the differences in your child? Have you discussed these differences with his/her teacher and work as a team?  How’d you open up this dialogue?

43 responses so far

Oct 24 2007

What a Kindergartener Must Know to Graduate

Most schools will test a Kindergartener within the first month. Listed below are:

 5 Things a Kindergartener Need to Know during that period…

  1. The upper case alphabet out of sequence or mixed up: B, D, X, K, J, M, O, etc.
  2. The numbers to 10, out of sequence or mixed up:  2, 5, 9, 8, 1, 3, 4, etc.
  3. Identify basic colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.
  4. Identify basic shapes: circle, diamond, rectangle, triangle, oval and square.
  5. Identify basic coins: penny, nickel and dime.

As an early childhood education author, I highly recommend parents help prepare their son/daughter for their first parent/teacher conference for Kindergarten.  Your child should understand that at certain points of the school year, you will meet with his/her teacher to discuss how they can help him/her have a fun and successful school year. There’s nothing to worry about, as this is an opportunity to get to know his/her teacher better too.

As the year progresses, a Kindergartener will need to know the following things:

  • Both upper and lower case letters.
  • Numbers up to 30, out of sequence.
  • More colors and shapes will be added including hexagon and octagon
  • More coins will be added such as quarter and dollar.
  • Name, address and phone number.
  • To be able to get dressed for outside play.
  • How to use the bathroom independently.

Knowing these basic benchmarks and preparing your child will help you both have a successful first formal year of school – in Kindergarten.

Copyright 2007, Stacey Kannenberg, Cedar Valley Publishing, Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

How’d you help your Kindergartener prepare?  What do you think of the advancement of Kindergarten these days?  Do you recall learning all of this before First Grade? 

160 responses so far

Oct 16 2007

Parents Are Our Children’s Best Teacher

As a nation, we need to do a better job of educating our parents that we are our children’s first and best teacher. After all, we were the ones who taught them how to eat, drink, walk, and respond back to the call of their names.

In my experience as an early childhood education author, advocate and mother of two; I’ve witnessed far too many parents fear “teaching” when they send their child to pre-school. I don’t see that parents fall victim to laziness; rather they fall victim to not knowing the unknown. Parents start to feel that they no longer have the skills and abilities to keep up with the educational standards and techniques to teach their child correctly. And, the higher their child proceeds through the primary grades, the parent becomes less and less involved in the education of their most beloved child.

We need this to stop!

Remember when learning was fun?

One of my most memorable “educational” moments happened in the bowling alley when I was 5 years old. I was with my friend Steve Barnaby and his older sister Laurie. Laurie was taking Spanish in school and decided to teach us how to count to 10 in Spanish.  To this day, I can recite 1-10 in Spanish, without any problems.  Ask me what I retained from a semester in high school and college; my answer…“No Habla Español!” 

Why does my mind retain what I learned in 30 minutes when I was 5?  It’s because I retained the memory of a fun game and the laughter shared. I remember our parents being equally excited and proud of us as well. We felt satisfaction and joy, rather than a bored lesson plan and structured reading assignment.

As a nation, we need to break the myths that our preschool teachers are babysitters and our Kindergarten teacher will teach them to become good students.  The shift in education is apparent as more families choose to home school.  The old stereotype of the isolated home-schooled child is no longer a reality.  Homeschool groups provide unlimited networking opportunities for social and sporting activities; and teachers at home and school are realizing the importance of making learning fun! 

I thank all the homeschool parents who have inspired me to bring a home school mentality to our family. Even though we have opted for a different route, I know I’m my child’s ultimate teacher and I must foster learning anytime of the day wherever we are. 

A teacher leading a lecture at the podium may be appropriate for large core classes in college; but that’s years away from elementary school.

A perfect example of an interactive parent-teacher-student lesson plan is when a teacher invited her students’ home for a day of cooking to end their unit in fractions.  She had parent helpers, permission slips and buses. Undoubtedly, the students retained their understanding of fractions. I know it would have helped me.  To this day, I get a pained look on my face when I think about fractions, one of dread and gloom.  While not all teachers can host children in their homes nationwide, we as parents can introduce fractions while we’re preparing our daily dinners and make learning fun for the whole family.

I challenge our nation’s parents to remain confident in their roles as their child’s first and best teachers. Involving our children in our daily duties and responsibilities can be a fun learning experience for everyone involved.

Copyright 2007, Stacey Kannenberg, Cedar Valley Publishing, Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

Pairing household chores and errands with learning can be both fun and productive.  In what ways do you make learning fun for your child? 

275 responses so far

Oct 05 2007

How to Start a Playgroup

Are you a stay-at-home parent who needs an escape from the daily grind?

You love your life but some days…you just need to release?

If you are not already involved in a playgroup – you need to be! 

I agree with most people who believe the benefit of a playgroup is for children to have social interaction. 

But, having a playgroup for my kids was also a break for me as well.

Whether you’re already involved in a playgroup but feel that you are not connecting with that group, or are interested in starting your own, here are some helpful tips to get your play time scheduled and ready to go:

  1. Set a date.  Once it’s scheduled on the calendar, you committed to making it happen. 
  2. Select a time.  Pick a good time for you and your kids, i.e., mornings before lunch and naptime, seem to be the favorite.
  3. Pick a place.  If you don’t want the fuss and mess at home, go to the park or pick a place with a play area such as the local mall.  
  4. Plan for a healthy snack.  If you are on the go, have something simple for the park or a healthy treat (such as crackers, grapes, baby carrots, celery sticks, etc) at the play area for parents and kids to enjoy.
  5. Invite fun people that you want to come for both you and your kids.   The key to a successful playgroup is surrounding your family with fun people who both you and your child will enjoy.  Decide if you want a big group or a small group and decide if you want to invite people you don’t know as well, such as a friend’s friend.   
  6. Don’t know any fun people?  Go find them.  Meet people at the library, the park, the zoo, or your favorite play land and start a conversation.  Do you enjoy talking to them?  Are your children playing well together?  Are you having fun?  Trust your gut!  If it feels right, make a date to meet with them again.  Invite them to your existing playgroup or start a new one and include this new family. 
  7. Always be on the look out for a new friend.   You can be standing in line at the grocery store or at pre-school registration, since you may never see them again, if your eyes meet, and they seem nice, start a conversation. If it feels right, invite them to your existing playgroup or decide to meet solo and ask yourself, “Does it feel right”? “Do I want to meet again”?  If yes, do it.
  8. Parenthood can be difficult and creating friendships with other parents just makes sense.   If you feel like the isolated family who isn’t having much fun, you need to make the decision to make a change.   Start talking. Even if you are a shy person, when you see your kids making friends on the playground, it’s your job to get to know their parents. If everyone is getting along, try to get together again soon.

Always remember: families that play together—stay together!

Copyright 2007, Stacey Kannenberg, Cedar Valley Publishing, Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

Have you started your own playgroup?  How did you meet your members?  Share your tips for a successful playgroup here!

249 responses so far