Archive for September, 2014

How to Make Your Child Hate Reading

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

How to Make Your Child Hate ReadingWhen my son attempted kindergarten, I was told that he was “unteachable” by someone in the school district. My son has ADHD and SPD and can learn easily when he is allowed to move. I promptly removed him from school and decided to teach him on my own. I spent 15 to 30 minutes a day teaching him to read using a book that was recommended to me. Within five or six months he could read quite well. I had proven the school district wrong! I had won! 

However, I quickly realized that something was not right. He hated reading. He was in tears at the thought of reading. I had made a big mistake.

Over the course of the next two years, I backed off on forcing him to read. I would ask occasionally to see if he would read. He was improving without instruction but was not showing any more interest.

Eventually I noticed him reading little things–signs, movie titles, video game instructions. Sometimes I would misread something in front of him and he would correct me. I would act surprised, “Oh! I didn’t know you could read that. Great job!” I started leaving comic books out, specifically Calvin and Hobbes. I allowed him to play Scribblenauts, a video game where you type in the object you want and it appears. His imagination soared and his reading and spelling quickly improved. I never pushed him to read but I gave him lots of opportunities.

He started taking books with him in the car so he could finish reading a chapter. He came to me and read me an entire Calvin and Hobbes storyline about Stupendous Man. He’s now reading chapter books about The Lego Movie and My Little Pony.

It took nearly two years of patience for him to embrace reading. During this time I learned that many children aren’t ready to read at the early age that they are being required to read. At a time when our country is pushing for early literacy, we need to push back and realize that our children will read when they are ready.

Shannon Smith is a homeschooling mother of two who enjoys crocheting and cold weather.

Pregnancy Week 21: Bucket List

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Pregnancy Week 21: Bucket ListIt is funny how pregnancy can make you take a different perspective on life and family. As summer winds down and school begins, I’ve started taking a mental inventory of my “bucket list” for our family of four. After asking my boys what they would love to do this summer as a final hurrah before preschool begins again for us in October, we planned out our monthly calendar.

Pregnancy sure does bring out the planner in me. While normally I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl, this time around I find myself planning and scheduling things much more. To say I’m obsessing is an understatement. I want to have as much fun as we can in these last weeks of summer and to enjoy my boys to their full extent before my nights are a blur and my days are filled once more with nursings, taxi driving and diapers. I love that my boys are gung-ho for whatever crazy idea their mom has in mind these days, from rearranging their room to canning grape jelly.

Having a bit of fun with these guys before we get to the larger and heavier levels of pregnancy has been pretty high on my list of priorities – and as I review our summer I see lots of beach trips, a few lake ones, carnivals and fairs, many family outings, splash pads, parks, ice cream, and many wonderful times with friends. Now, as we hit September running I plan on at least one last beach trip, a cider press day and one last favorite festival. I’m hoping this time to get in the fun before the worrying over nursery items and freezer meal prepping takes over.

Pia Watzig is a stay at home mom of two little boys, with a third on the way this fall. She enjoys canning, gardening and trying to cram as much fun into summer before life becomes crazy again.

The Fourth Trimester: A 12-Week Postpartum Series

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Most people are familiar with the three trimesters of pregnancy:

The Fourth Trimester

  • First trimester is from conception to week 12.
  • Second trimester is from week 13 to week 27
  • Third trimester is from week 28 until birth

But did you know that the first 12 weeks out of the womb are often referred to as the “fourth trimester”? This is a time of rapid changes for both you and your baby. Your body changes significantly during this time as, “your reproductive tract returns to its non-pregnant state. In addition, your cardiovascular, respiratory, musculo-skeletal, urologic, gastrointestinal, endocrine, and nervous systems all also return to a nonpregnant state” (Postpartum: 4th Trimester). Your baby is also growing and changing as he/she is adjusting to life outside the womb and his/her body is learning to regulate itself.

The fourth trimester is certainly a special time for a family. It is a time of bonding and developing new connections. However, it can also come with challenges as you navigate new roles and how to care for a new family member.

This weekly series will examine common topics that arise during the first 12 weeks after giving birth. For example, establishing breastfeeding, learning to love and accept your postpartum body, nourishment for a nursing mama, cloth diapering from day one, newborn baby wearing and much more.


And who better to share about the fourth trimester experience than a mama who is going through it herself? Blog contributor Sarah recently gave birth to her fourth son and is enjoying the trials and tribulations of the fourth trimester experience…for the fourth time! She is greatly looking forward to sharing her journey with you.


Staying Healthy During Flu Season

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Staying Healthy During Flu SeasonWith flu season coming up, it’s time to start talking to the kids about being healthy! We try to explain to our oldest (3) what germs are and how they can get you sick. We use very simple terms, of course, but that doesn’t stop him from touching dog poop at the park. No, really. He picked up dog poop and asked, “Mama, is this dog poop?”

With that basic lack of understanding about germs, we really rely on other methods of staying healthy.

We place a heavy emphasis on washing hands in our household. Not only because of things like the dog poop incident, but because the kids instantly touch their eyes, nose, or mouth after handling germy things. It’s almost instant. In an attempt to instill some sort of good hygienic practice, we wash our hands when we come in from outside, after play time is over, before helping put dishes away, etc. This, of course, on top of all the times you would fully expect hand washing (after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, blowing your nose, etc.).

Other things are a bit more “behind the scenes.” We can only do so much to get our kids to follow hygienic practices at young ages, but we can help them boost their immune system. Offering foods like garlic or barley can help lessen the likelihood of getting sick. Many foods can offer antimicrobial properties, so it’s a great idea to read up on different foods and try to incorporate them into your family’s diet. Heck, oats and barley not only boost immunity, but they can help antibiotics work better if you do get sick.

There are also lots of herbal supplements that people take to help with their immune system. I’m not big on trying to push things like this on my children, but I am a big believer in Sambucus (elderberry) in helping the immune system. Not only has my (asthmatic) son had less episodes that require him to use a breathing nebulizer since taking elderberry syrup, but when he does have to start nebulizer treatments, they don’t last as long. Instead of a week, we see a day or two. He also really enjoys the taste of elderberry syrup, and we mix it in with some almond milk and sometimes keifer, too.

If you’re not too keen on store bought supplements like Sambucus, you can always make your own syrup using fresh, frozen, or dried elderberries. Our local health food store has dried elderberries in the bulk herb section. There are a plethora of recipes available online with a simple search, so you can find a recipe that would suit your family’s needs (taste and dietary) best. Just a little elderberry a day helps, and a few times a day if you happen to get sick.

Also, if we happen to get sick, we keep coconut water on hand. Not only does it have electrolytes and no artificial sweeteners or dyes, but it has extra calories in it which you could really use if you’re sick and quickly losing whatever you eat (regardless of the method).

Finally, laughter! Yes, really. Laughter can help boost your immune system, improve your blood flow, regulate blood sugar levels, and is simply contagious. Who doesn’t love laughing? With colder days around the bend, we like to get some good shows or movies queued up to watch. Some for the kids, some for us when we have child-free time. Everyone enjoys smiles and laughter, and hey! It just might help you beat the flu.

Christine Kangas is a mom of two trying to lead a greener life. She lives in the mid-western U.S. with her family and three cats.

How to Keep a Toddler Busy When You Homeschool

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

HOw to Keep a Toddler Busy While You HomeschoolMy son is 7 and home schooled; my daughter is 3 and loves to be involved. This is not always possible. Sometimes we really need her to be distracted while we focus on a subject and sometimes we invite her to work on the same things at her level.

Here are few things that interest her for more than a just few minutes:

Worksheets – while I believe toddlers and preschoolers should learn through play instead of strict academics, sometimes she wants a pencil and paper assignment like her brother. I like this preschool workbook for it’s prewriting skills.

Finger painting or ooblek – making a mess with paint or corn starch is tons of fun and a great way to keep her engaged. Her brother and I usually join in when we finish our work.

Building toys – We have a large bag of Mega Bloks that come out about once a week. These will keep her busy for hours.

Dress up dolls – paper dolls would work great, and these wooden magnetic dress up dolls are delightful!

Puzzles – this reversible puzzle wheel or this block puzzle are wonderful and work on her visual planning.

Picnic or tea party – these are favorite games for both children. A simple tablecloth or sheet or towel on the floor and a basket of play food or a tea set are all that’s needed. My daughter invites her superhero friends and has a blast.

Spelling words – at least that’s what she calls this see and spell toy. She enjoys finding the right letters for each word.

Bath – yes, sometimes I let her have a bubble bath while we work in the next room. Obviously I keep her in sight at all times.

Cars – I have a tin of toy cars that comes out once a week. Most of them belonged to my brother and myself.

Chalkboard – we have a large chalkboard in our hallway. I’ll get out a bunch of colored chalk or a set of magnets and she’s good to go.

The biggest secret here isn’t the specific toys; it’s that these toys aren’t always available. I have a basket of toy sets and I let her choose picnic, cars, puzzles, or any other set from it when I need a few minutes with her brother. The rest of the time these toys are stored in the cupboard. The rest of the secret is being ready to switch plans if one isn’t working. Find which toys occupy your toddler or preschooler for long periods of time and stash them away for when you need them.

Shannon Smith is a homeschooling mother of two who enjoys crocheting and cold weather.