Archive for the ‘Shannon Smith’ Category

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.

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.

Why We Ditched the Food Dye

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Why We Ditched the Food DyeWhen my son was a toddler he was unpredictable. He had violent outbursts and inconsolable meltdowns that seemed to come out of nowhere. By the time he was 4, I had read a library of parenting books and hadn’t gotten very far. There had been many suggestions that he had ADHD, though he was too young to diagnose. I was looking for natural remedies for ADHD when I came across many, many articles suggesting that artificial food dye can affect susceptible children behaviorally.

With nothing to lose, we cut all artificial food coloring from our food. This isn’t as easy as it seems. Colorful candy is obvious. Marshmallows are white so they should be fine, right? Nope! Many use blue dye. Frozen waffles and canned rolls use multiple colors.

However, we did it. Within two weeks we had a different child. He was happy. He could communicate when he was upset. He no longer lashed out when angry. This change was worth it!

Halloween came a few months later and we weren’t sure how to handle it. We decided to let him have colorful candy just this once. The next day was the worst I have ever seen him–but it reaffirmed why we were doing this. Now for Halloween we have a system where he picks out candy ahead of time and we do an elaborate swap game when we get home. Birthday parties are also tricky to navigate between the juice, decorated cake, snacks and treat bags. I send him with his own ice cream sandwiches and pure apple juice.

However, we were still experiencing very bad days that would send us pouring over the ingredients of everything he had eaten in the last 24 hours. One ingredient kept popping up: annatto. Annatto is “an orange-red dye obtained from the pulp of a tropical fruit, used for coloring foods and fabric.” It’s found in many things that are yellow/orange–think Goldfish crackers and yellow cheddar.  I did some digging and found that despite it being a natural coloring, some children react quite severely to annatto, including hyperactivity, self-harm, agitation, irritability, and incontrolable defiance. My son throws himself into walls and floors and people while loudly babbling incoherently. He is unable to answer most questions asked of him. He often has to sent to his room for safety–both his and his little sister’s. Annatto’s out.

So, where do we shop? What do we buy? I shop exclusively at my local natural food co-op– check here to see if you have one nearby. Over the past 4 years we have found marshmallows, frozen waffles, canned rolls, even chocolate candy with a colorful candy shell. We even make a version of marshmallow Peeps. The only ingredient I have to worry about there is annatto; foods with artificial dyes are not sold there. There is nothing missing, except the tantrums.

For more information check out Die, Food Dye, and read this study on just how much dye is in a brand name foods.

Shannon Smith is a mom to two children.