Archive for the 'Cedar Valley Parents' Category

Jun 11 2008

Tips for Kindergarten Learning

Research has proven time and time again, that a child’s parents/caregivers and their first teacher are their most important role models. Therefore it is critical that you show your child that the learning process can be fun, by being a positive and fun learner yourself. Listed below are tips to help you instill the love of learning by setting an example in the following areas:

  • Let your child see you read and learn.
  • Build your child’s vocabulary by explaining and discussing everyday activities.
  • Turn travel, meal, bath and bed time into a fun learning experiences.
  • Read, read, read and read some more!  Make it part of your daily routine to read as much as possible.
  • When reading with your child, sit side-by-side or have your child sit on your lap, in a comfortable, quiet area.
  • Use your finger to explore the book’s pages (left to right and top to bottom).
  • Visit the local zoo, library and museum. While on your tour, ask questions and having fun exploring.
  • Always have paper, pencils, crayons, glue and scissors readily available.
  • Encourage good hygiene at home and at school, including proper bathroom habits, washing hands, blowing nose and covering mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • Lay out clothes, make lunch, organize school folders and assemble backpack the evening before school.
  • Discuss positive solutions for problems that might occur, such as bullying, teasing, bathroom accidents, etc.
  • Make sure your child gets the required 10-12 hours of sleep and a nutritious breakfast.
  • Before entering school, update immunization records and schedule hearing, vision, dental and physical exams.
  • Nurture, motivate and instill self-esteem in your child.  Listen to your child’s concerns, interests, and problems.

Taking an active role in your child’s life will help him/her succeed in learning and in life!

Copyright 2008 Cedar Valley Publishing, Stacey Kannenberg; Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

What are some of the things your parents passed on to you as a Kindergartener?  Are you passing them on your children, or have you passed on something different?

147 responses so far

Apr 22 2008

Early Childhood Skills Start At Home

Introducing basic early childhood skills at home will encourage a child to have positive learning habits necessary to succeed in Kindergarten. Incorporating basic skills will prepare a child for a successful school experience because he/she will ultimately develop a natural love for learning.

Prepared below is a list of early childhood skills that can be introduced and practiced at home and school:

  • Share by taking turns.
  • Listen quietly.
  • Wait patiently.
  • Use words to communicate.
  • Recognize and know your full name.
  • Know your parents and/or caregiver’s first and last name.
  • Use toilet by yourself.
  • Dress yourself.
  • Know how to zip, snap, tie, button and fasten your clothing.
  • Recite and recognize alphabet letters.
  • Recognize your left hand from your right hand.
  • Know basic colors, shapes and numbers 0-20.
  • Recognize a penny, nickel, dime, quarter and dollar bill.
  • Use positional words (over, under, up, down).
  • Print your first name, uppercase for first letter only.
  • Know your address and phone number.
  • Know how to use a pencil, crayons, glue and scissors.

Copyright 2008 – Stacey Kannenberg, Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

Is your child ready?  What F-U-N things are you doing to get him/her prepared?  

11 responses so far

Nov 03 2007

Education Options: Public, Private, Christian or Home School?

At almost every single parent workshop I give, someone will ask me “Stacey, how did you decide between public, private, Christian or home school?”

My answer seems to shock many, yet inspire others. 

As a family, back in February of 2004, we visited all the schools in our area:  public, private, Christian, and even tried a few days of home schooling so we could make our decision as a family.  On our visits, we would ask to sit in and visit with every Kindergarten class.  Every principal commended us for making this a family decision and we were shocked when we found that we were in the 1% club—only 1% of parents ever actually do what we were doing.  I was shocked!

We walked the halls and ate lunch in every school cafeteria as a family. My husband was a strong supporter of his Christian Lutheran School that he had attended as a child. But, the 30-minute drive one-way was less appealing to me, especially during a Wisconsin winter, as I was the designated bus driver. 

I was a product of public school because I lived in a rural setting with no other options within 50 miles.  We discussed each school, looking for input from our soon to be 5 and 3 year old daughters.  It was a surprise to my husband and I, that we had unanimously selected the public school, three minutes from our home.  Heidi selected Mrs. Neitzke as her Kindergarten teacher, so we sent the school a letter for teacher request and completed her pre-Kindergarten screening and enrollment paperwork.

Because I was a stay-at-home Mom, I promised my family that I would embrace our new public school with a home school, Christian mentality:

  • We would, as a family, become involved in the PTA.
  • I would be the driver in charge of dropping off and picking up the kids.
  • I would volunteer every month.
  • I would travel and be involved in all class trips.
  • I would get to personally know each child’s entire class because studies show children are less like to bully your children if you know their name.
  • I would “do lunch” everyday of that first week of Kindergarten with my child and then plan a lunch “date” with them every quarter staying to play at recess time too.
  • I would work with my school to help find funding and grant opportunities. It is much easier than it sounds. Simply search the Internet for “educational grants” and your city or your state. Then search “community grants” and your city or your state. Then, work with your teachers to write the grant or pass it to your school’s grant writer.
  • I know that I am my child’s first and best teacher!

Whichever method you chose to school your children, as long as it is a family decision, you (as a parent) are armed with confidence, and are actively involved in the education process; your children will succeed academically, socially, mentally and physically.
Copyright 2007, Stacey Kannenberg, Cedar Valley Publishing, Author of Let’s Get Ready For Kindergarten! and Let’s Get Ready For First Grade!

Care to share the steps you took to select your child’s educational path?  Perhaps your ideas will help make the process easier for another family.

293 responses so far

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

Sep 30 2007

Getting Kids to Rise to the Occasion

If two brothers can change the face of aviation, then I can tackle education!! This is my platform. 

I was a mom who was trying to get my own kids ready for school and was shocked at how advanced Kindergarten has become.  Starting the education process in Kindergarten is already too late. We need to empower kids at ages 2-4 to inspire parents and preschool teachers to all work together to be involved in education. 

A generation of children were taught to wear seat belts and they taught their parents and grandparents.  Teach children what they need to know and they will inspire their parents to become vested in education as well.  That’s the key!

A homework assignment for parents everywhere!!! Do these 6 things daily and your children will succeed!

  1. Stop, Drop, and Listen.  Stop what you are doing, drop to their level and listen to your child talk about their day, daily!
  2. Unload the backpack/ homework folder with your kids daily.  Be involved in helping them stay on track for the next day!
  3. Read with your kids every night for 15 minutes.
  4. Play a repetitive game with your kids for 15 minutes.  You could even do 10 pushups and 10 sit-ups as a family!
  5. Ask open ended questions to help your kids learn to communicate effectively. 
  6. Be involved in school activities and join your PTA/PTO!

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

Letting children know you care is one of the best ways to help them stay on top of their game.  What’s your favorite way to stay involved?

12 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 20 2007

Education Reform

If I could wave a magic wand over our educational system, I would make some serious changes.  I would do a better job of making sure parents, teachers, and kids are all on the same page starting at the core:  preschool.  Until you have preschool teachers and parents knowledgeable on what kids are learning in Kindergarten, at toddler time, you will always have children falling behind.  

Testing has changed as the curriculum has become more advanced.  It is my belief that if each school took the time to have a meeting every year with parents and kids to discuss the curriculum for that year and handed out a sample report card explaining exactly what information they will be tested on, parents and kids would step up to the plate and become more responsible for learning this information. 

It is silly to expect parents and kids to just “know” what kids will be tested on before the kids are tested on it.  For each school to share this information before they begin testing just makes sense.  It would help empower both parents and kids so they would understand just how advanced the curriculum has become.  It would allow parents and kids the opportunity to become more involved in their education.

Another way to keep the fun in school is to change the way we view instruction.  Children should want to go to school and learn.  In the age of computers and technology, classrooms need to move away from the instructor in the role of lecturer at the head of the class, with the attitude that children need to shut up and listen.  I hate to tell you this but not all teachers are great teachers.   Great teachers realize the importance of involving children in the day-to-day learning process and empowering them in a creative and revolutionary way to keep learning fun.  Teachers need to realize that memorization studies show that unless the information is presented in a fun and interesting format, after the test, the information is not successfully retained. 

I would like to bring prayer and the morning pledge of allegiance back into schools.  For those that don’t believe in prayer, both sides will learn acceptance and tolerance for someone else’s belief.  I would like to end the political division in education.  It seems unfair that I know my superintendent’s political belief and yet my child is not allowed to pray in school.  Why is it okay for him to practice his belief on school time and yet my child is not allowed to pray in school?  Where is the union for my child, protecting her belief?

Our public school in Wisconsin has a $10 million dollar budget, the exact salary as the Green Bay Packers pay their quarterback, Brett Farve.  I am a huge Brett Farve fan, but the priorities of our nation say he is more valuable than one entire school district. 

In that district, 85% of the budget or $8.5 million dollars goes for teacher’s salaries, pensions, retired employee’s and health benefits and the remaining 15% is for the kids, right.  WRONG.  Of that 15%, the district needs to pay for school busing, heating and cooling the school and maintaining the school to the tune of another $1 million dollars or so.  So what is really left for our kids?  Not much! Show me any other business that caters to the employees rather than the customer and I will show you a business that was forced to close its doors long ago.  And of course, if you say anything about this discrepancy you have every teacher union president in your face screaming.  Why?  We live in a democracy where we are even allowed to bash our president but heaven help us if we question our educational system.  Why is that?  Sadly, because we have allowed unions to become the heart of education.  They are dividing education into two sides at the expense of our children.  I say, enough is enough; it is time to bring both sides to the table and re-negotiate for the future of education with our children becoming the top priority. 

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

What are your thoughts on the state of education today?  Are you happy with your school and/or district?  Have any suggestions for reform?

14 responses so far

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