Teaching Thankfulness During the Holiday Season

Nov 12, 2014 by

 

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. To me, it’s like Christmas, but without the stress of gift-buying. This year, with my boys being 3 and 6 years old, I decided to really emphasize to them what Thanksgiving is about, beyond the turkey, pies, and Santa crossing into Herald Square. They are incredibly fortunate to grow up without fear of running out of food, warm clothing, or shelter. They know they have a stable family that they can depend on to help them. They are lucky to be surrounded by caring adults. They have so much in their favor. It is important to me to teach them that this is not the case for all children everywhere. I certainly don’t want to frighten them, but in an age-appropriate way, I want them to know that these parts of their lives are things for which they should be grateful, and that because they aren’t facing adversity in their own life, it’s that much more important to reach out to those who are.

Tooth fairy-ing like a Pro

Nov 5, 2014 by

For the fourth time in the past 6 months, my son announced tonight “Mommy!! I lost a TOOTH! The tooth fairy is coming again!!”Once again, my real-life parenting is not matching up with my before-kids ideals.  In my “pre-kids” mind, my kids would have a monogrammed keepsake tooth pillow set aside for when they began to lose teeth. I would have a secret stash of crisp dollar bills hidden away, and maybe we’d read a special book about the tooth fairy before bed. In reality, my first thought was “Please don’t let him bleed on the car’s upholstery…” (as he’d lost it in the car, after dark at 5:30 pm, thankyouverymuch time change…), closely followed by the thought “I literally have absolutely no cash at all in the house, aside from an emergency $100 bill and that is so. not. happening.” He lost his first tooth about 6 months ago, at age five. I didn’t even realize kids lose teeth at five– I thought it was more like seven! I had no tooth pillow, no crisp bills, nada. So, we improvised, as you do in most of parenting. Here’s what our slacker-fairy does:

Why It’s Okay For Kids to Misspell

Oct 22, 2014 by

Recently, I came across this article which discusses why spelling tests, and the “spelling test” model of teaching kids how to spell, isn’t as effective as we may think. It reiterated everything I learned when taking one of my favorite courses, “Teaching Writing,” in graduate school. Spelling tests teach memorization; there are over two hundred and fifty thousand words in the English language, and between 10 and 20 words on a typical spelling test…so we’d need a lot of spelling tests to churn out great spellers through rote memorization!

Furthermore, many spelling tests operate on weekly word lists. The students who learn the weekly words move on to the next week’s list, as do the students who only learned half. It would seem that some kids are simply naturally good at spelling, or at least memorization, while others struggle endlessly. Why? Because the English language is basically a complex system of codes and patterns, many borrowed from other languages. Teaching kids these codes and patterns, which are far less numerous than teaching all the individual words themselves, allows kids to learn to spell whole groups of words effectively.

Buh-bye, Cable!

Oct 15, 2014 by

I am a child of the 1980s/early 1990s. Cable television was a big part of my childhood. I grew up with Nickelodeon, Looney Tunes, Animaniacs, and occasionally, when the cable companies offered free trials, the coveted Disney Channel. When I was old enough, ahem, when I snuck it in without my parents’ knowing, I lived for MTV’s Real World and music videos, you know, back when they actually showed music videos. I didn’t spend too many hours watching T.V. as a child, but but it was omnipresent, always available in the background whenever boredom or rainy days struck from the time I was elementary school-aged onward.

So, if you told 15-year-old me that in 2014 I would be saying “sayonara” to cable, I would have thought you were crazy. But, I have, and I’m not looking back.

Why have we cut the both literal and proverbial cord with our cable-filled past? For so many reasons!

You Say It’s Your Birthday?!

Oct 8, 2014 by

 

Three out of the four people living in my house have fall birthdays. My husband and I often joke that our wedding anniversary in August is the kick-off to the holiday season in our home, as we have birthdays in September, October, and November, of course followed by Christmas and all the chaos that comes with that.

In the decade that I’ve known my husband, birthdays have been a rather hotly debated topic of discussion. I grew up with parents who were all about birthday celebrations. My mother began our birthdays by blasting The Beatles “Birthday” song from the White Album in the morning. We had a special breakfast, often found a special note and dessert in our lunchbox, came home to a special dinner, then, of course, we ate cake. If your birthday was on, say, a Wednesday, and your birthday party was on the following Saturday, you still got cake on that Wednesday. Because cake that isn’t served on your actual birthday doesn’t count for 100%. Besides, who argues with more cake? No one.

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