Archive for the 'Cedar Valley Moms' Category

Mar 05 2009

Let’s Get Ready For Preschool and Head Start

I have uncovered an alarming trend in my preschool and head start workshops nationwide: the majority of preschool and head start teachers that come to my workshops do not know what children are tested on for their first Kindergarten assessment tests!!!  In fact, I started testing the preschool and head start teachers in my workshops.  I wanted them to feel what it feels like to be a five year-old; these little kids come to school expecting to be taught but instead we expect them to take a test – cold, without studying. 

So that’s what I did at the National Association of Head Start Conference in Atlanta in December, and again last week at the Wisconsin Head Start Association Conference in the Wisconsin Dells.  I challenged these teachers to list the seven things that kids are tested on for that first Kindergarten assessment test.  Guess what?  Only FOUR of 250 in Atlanta, from teachers all cross the country (including Illinois); got it correct and not one teacher in 75, in Wisconsin, got it right!! 

That is what is wrong with education!!! And I am not even a teacher, just a mom, inspired by Oprah, to empower parents, kids and teachers to work together in education! 

If our preschool and head start teachers do not know this information how can we expect parents and kids to know it?  AND where are the public service announcements telling parents the seven things they need to know for Kindergarten testing:  the alphabet all mixed up, number to 10 all mixed up, basic shapes, colors, coins, counting objects to 10 and how far they can count to 100?

So, when parents come to that first parent teacher conference and they are told that their child only knew five of 26 letters all mixed up, or was only able to count to 35 on the way to 100, parents feel frustrated and at that point, many feel if they can’t help their child in Kindergarten how are they suppose to help in First Grade, Second Grade and beyond? 

If a family is not involved at day one, they are less likely to be involved later on in the process.  They don’t wake up and say, Let’s Get Ready for Sixth Grade or High School?  They are already out of the loop by then! 

At the Kindergarten conference, many families that I talked to nationwide, opt-out and let the “teachers” teach their children and become disengaged in the educational process.   They feel if they couldn’t help their child with Kindergarten how are they supposed to help in the later years?  It was only 10 years ago that our Kindergarten teachers would teach what kids needed to know for kindergarten in Kindergarten, but that has changed; and sadly no one is telling our preschool and head start teachers how advanced Kindergarten has become!

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Oct 13 2008

Let’s Get Ready for Homework for Parents

  • Stop, Drop, and Listen,
  • Unload the backpack/ homework folder with your kids daily,
  • Read with your kids every night for 15 minutes,
  • Play repetitive games with your kids,
  • Ask open ended questions to help your kids communicate,
  • Be involved in school activities and join your PTA/PTO!

451 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

Sep 27 2007

On Staying Home…

I loved staying at home with my kids.  I gave notice the same day I dropped my baby off for her first day at a sitter’s home.  She was 5 months old and I cried the entire day.  I had called my husband crying several times that morning and we agreed to meet at noon in a parking lot not far from his office.  We were both in tears.  I told him that I could not let someone else take care of our child; I wanted it to be me.   So we both decided that I would give up my job and I would stay at home. 

I was already working from home, my boss was 3,000 miles away and I would have a conference call with the home office once a week.  The only downfall was the weekly overnight travel schedule.  I was still nursing with not much success pumping.  My heart was not in my existing job; my new passion became our new baby. So I gave notice that day.  My company allowed me to work out my notice around my child’s schedule and our family started to make some changes to our lifestyle for me to be a full-time mommy.  Here are some things that worked for our family:

  1. Crunch the numbers.  In our situation, we were in a higher tax bracket with two salaries, so without my salary, we dropped down to a lesser tax bracket and found most of my salary was going to Uncle Sam rather than in our pocket anyway.
  2. Make sure both of you are on the same page for one of you to stay at home.  Set the ground rules with responsibilities on both sides:  not because one goes to work all day, the other has to do everything else.  That is never a fair arrangement!
  3. Trust your gut.  Being a 24/7 at home parent is hard work.  It’s not for everyone.  Be honest with each other to determine if it is the right decision for your family.  If you decide that working gives you a release and makes you happier, for goodness sakes, don’t let guilt get in the way.  Instead embrace your outside opportunities with the positives and stay focused on the benefits!
  4. Run your household like a corporation: upper management needs to have meetings to discuss human resources, operations, engineering, delegation, maintenance and scheduling. 
  5. Set a schedule.  Plan exercise time, snack time, reading time, playtime, nap/quiet time and clean-up time and act accordingly.  When it’s nap/quiet time you can be starting dinner, folding laundry, reading a book or mediating.  Exercise time means everyone needs to get up and burn calories, walking around the yard, dancing to a favorite tune, doing jumping jacks or hopping on one foot.  Moving is exercise!
  6. Have fun!  They grow up so fast, before you know it they don’t want to take naps cuddled together on the sofa, play puzzles with you or help set the table for dinner. 
  7. Make it a point to have your children get into the habit of welcoming home both parents from work or shopping.  Everyone likes a welcoming committee complete with the sound of running feet after a quick trip to the grocery store or when Daddy comes in from a day at work.
  8. Make your own special rituals.  If my children are awake when Daddy leaves for work, we do group hugs.  My husband and I each put a child in our arms and we all hug together.   A family that hugs together stays together!

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

Are you considering becoming a Stay at Home Mom (SAHM)?  If you’re on the fence, get out the paper and pencil and get busy.  Make a list of pros and cons, crunch the household numbers, and most importantly consider what is really right for both you and your family. 

14 responses so far

Sep 01 2007

It’s one step at a time AGAIN…

I made some positive life changes to my diet and exercise program a few months before I turned 40.  I was working out like a banshee, eating right and the weight was coming off.  I was finally on track until the unthinkable happened.  I had a knee and elbow injury that forced me to take some time off and recuperate. 
I actually had a doctor’s order not to exercise and I was never so miserable in all my life.  The lady who hated to exercise–I still hate to exercise, but I so love how I feel after I exercise–was told to take it easy.  I didn’t listen and ended up having a more serious injury that kept me away from the workout routine that I had been doing for 2 years.

My body was ready to begin at the 6 months mark, but it took another 3 months before my mind was ready to actually begin the journey again.  Sadly, in 9 months I had gained back all the weight it had taken me 2 years to lose.  I was back to square one. 

Fortunately, it only took me 6 weeks to get back on track and settle into a daily routine which included exercise and healthy eating habits.  I am down 10 pounds and I’m ready to share what has been working for me this second time around:

• I schedule 35 minutes on my exercise bike every day before the kids wake up.  From 6:30-7:30 every morning, I bike ride while catching up on work reading.  I am in the publishing business and have piles of books to review, so for me this is killing two birds with one stone.  Yes, I don’t burn as many calories reading a book, but it is making a dent in my reading pile, so it is a trade off that works for me.  Also, I often find myself riding longer than the full hour allotted because I just can’t put down a great book!  It provides me with the added bonus of being eager to exercise and read the next day!

• Twice a week, my husband and I take a group exercise class with weight training/ball/kickboxing.  It is also a scheduled date with my husband on the calendar.  We do it together as a team and enjoy it greatly.  With school starting, I will be moving to mornings two days a week, to allow me to be home at night with the girls, staying on homework detail.  But we still will be working out on the same days doing the same class, just at a different time. 

• I watch what I eat.  I am at the point where I don’t need to journal, as I know what works for me.  Breakfast:  Fruit or 100% orange juice with oatmeal, whole grain cereal, or a slice of whole grain bread toasted dry, with a thin layer of peanut butter spread on top; Lunch:  Fruit with either soup, salad, baked potato easy on the margarine and light sour cream or a bagel with melted cheese and a slice of ham; dinner is always a protein, veggie and fruit.  I am in charge of the kitchen, so it is easy to keep the entire family on track with making healthy choices.

• I don’t eat after 6PM. 

• I have healthy treats, veggies and fruits on hand when I need a snack.

• I am lucky that I get to read books on weight loss, motivation and self-help for my job.  Filling yourself full of positive thoughts goes a long way to keeping you away from the refrigerator.  Call a friend, read a book, take a bubble bath, clean a closet, do something else (anything positive and/or productive) to redirect your energy when you are feeling the urge to eat out of boredom.  

• Listen to your body.  If you are in need of more fuel, fill it up.  Protein is a great choice to give you some long lasting energy:  a slice of cheese, a spoonful of peanut butter, cottage cheese or a glass of 1% low fat chocolate milk will take you much farther than a bag of chips.

• I use the scale every morning to help me stay on track and help me plan my day.  If it is up, I need to try harder that day.  Perhaps I add more exercise and make better food choices.  If it’s down or the same, I rejoice!  You can’t expect to loss weight every day, 2-3 pounds a week is realistic and staying the same means you are closer to a loss!  So rejoice that you are going in the right direction!

• I like myself.  I live in the present and look to the future.  So it happened, I am trying again, working harder this time to not re-injure myself and taking every day as one step toward my goal.

• Keep Moving!  I am doing this for my family and myself because it makes me healthy, happy and terrific.  It has become another passion that I don’t want to live without.

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

What’s working for you on your quest for healthier eating and daily exercise?  Is it a journal?  A firm plan?  A promise to yourself or your family?  Let’s do some healthy dishing!

14 responses so far

Aug 21 2007

Back to School Shopping: Yes it Can Be F-U-N!

It’s back to school time. I couldn’t have said it any better than my dear friend Rachel Hamman.  She had a fabulous post and I’m with her!  I am so ready to practice the 3 R’s:  Relaxing, Recharging and Reclaiming!  To read more go to:  

I learn so many great tips from observing homeschooling moms.  I saw this in action a few years ago, tried it last year and now it has become a family tradition with Heidi, 8 and Megan 6.  This is school shopping week at the Kannenberg household… 

Empower children to help make shopping for school supplies a fun game for everyone, instead of another dreaded chore that needs to be done. 

Every child gets to hold and cross off their supply list and is given a shopping basket.  Mom is in charge of helping and supervising the purchases before they can be added to Mom’s Approved Purchases (MAP) Cart. 

The rules are simple:

1. Everyone has to stay in the same aisle, so Mom can supervise purchases. 
2. Mom has final approval before the item can be put into Mom’s cart.

Tip: Empower older children to help younger children who might not be able to read the list, but can help find items and cross them off the list.  Everyone is involved in the process regardless of age; even a toddler can help search, find and put
the item into the basket for Mom’s approval and help Mom get it into the final cart. 

Make it a fun activity and start the school year with some positive fun!

I enlisted help from our 14 year-old neighbor girl, Amanda.  It’s become a tradition to go school clothes shopping with her, and this year the long wait was finally over.  Instead of calling it clothes shopping — it’s “fashion show dress up.”  We went to a discount department store a few hours before the dinner hour.  We grabbed two carts, one for each girl.   We shopped together as a team and visited each area:  jeans, skirts, shirts, blouses,
underwear, tights, socks and shoes.  We pushed our carts into the dressing room area, assigned each girl to a room and handed them each a complete outfit minus underwear, tights, socks and shoes to try on and model.  Amanda and I emceed the event and asked them to come out at the same time to model.  My job was final outfit approval, making sure all approved items were placed in the correct cart or put aside as a “no sale.”   When the show was complete and purchases made, we had dinner at a nice restaurant.  We all had so much fun!  The girls have talked and giggled about it for the past year and were so excited that it was finally time to go again. 

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

Action Item: How about you?  Do you have any great tips to take the stress out of back to school time?  Let us know how you’ve taken a chore that used to cause tears and turned into one that creates cheers!  Inquiring moms are dying to know!

10 responses so far

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