Author: Sarah Bernhardson

The Top 10 Reasons Quality Early Childhood Education Matters

With the youngest of my two children about to leave the world of “early childhood education” and enter the world of elementary school, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the importance of this short phase of our education and how crucial it is. Years ago, when I was an undergraduate studying art education, we learned about how linked drawing and literacy are. The visual development required for writing and reading is so closely connected to the stages of drawing development that children typically progress through. As a mother, it has been amazing to see the giant social leaps children take between the ages of two and five. No other time of life has so much growth, development, and change in such a small period of time. I’ve watched my children at home and in the classroom go from shy, hesitant two year olds, reluctant to be separated from their parents and unsure of how to interact with their classmates, to boisterous confident children, running into the classroom and seeking out chances to play with their friends and show off their talents. Watching this change is always exciting, whether as a parent or as a teacher. For these reasons, I cringe when I hear parents and teachers brush off early childhood education as less important than the “real school” our children will later face. Alarmingly often, I’ve heard parents and...

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Spoiler Alert: You already have a Valentine.

February has arrived, and I’m downing Reese’s hearts as I write this. You guys, VALENTINE’S DAY IS COMING. I say this not to make you panic, and not to initiate the “UGH, I hate that Hallmark holiday” naysayers…but to let you in on a secret. Chances are very, very high that you already have at least one Valentine if you’re reading this. And chances are even higher that your Valentine(s) would love nothing more than to go all-out celebrating this day of love with you. In my first year as a teacher, fresh out of undergrad, I was single on Valentine’s day. I had no fun dinner plans (um, I was likely still in my classroom at dinnertime that year…), no one was sending me roses at work, and if you’d asked me, I would have said that I didn’t have a Valentine. I paint a sad picture, no? However, this was possibly the best Valentine’s Day, or at least one of the best, ever. You see, I quickly realized I had not one, not two, but 18 Valentines! The kids in my class that year made it impossible to feel sorry for myself. They showered me with handmade cards, carnations, tiny boxes of conversation hearts, and sticky cupcakes from tiny frosting-covered hands. By the end of the day, my desk was literally covered in adorable surprises from my many, many Valentines. We wrote poems together...

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Celebrating the Kids You Have

Before I became a parent, I had an image in my head of what my children would be like one day. They’d wear cute matching, preppy outfits and have adorably styled hair at all times. They’d of course love music, and start piano lessons no later than age 4. I’d never give in to letting them wear clothes branded with cartoon characters, and I’d certainly never let them leave the house in totally mismatched outfits with those hideous plastic Crocs on their feet. My children would only play with creative toys that stimulate mental growth, and they would eschew all things violent. I was quite sure of all these things. Eight years ago this month, I got my first positive pregnancy test and so began this dream of my “someday children”. In that eight years, I’ve started realizing that the kids I have aren’t necessarily the kids I’d imagined. This is not a bad thing at all; the kids I have are fantastic, creative, caring, wonderful people. In fact, the kids I have are way cooler than the imaginary kids that lived in my head. However, I’ve had a strangely hard time letting go of some of my preconceived notions of what they’d be. My older son loves crafts, martial arts, and all things tie-dyed. He has a fantastic sense of humor and is incredibly kind and caring. My younger son is a super-hero enthusiast. He...

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Our Favorite Easy Dinners

I love the holiday season, but after spending hours days in the kitchen baking, cooking, and doing dishes, the last thing I want to do in the new year is go nuts planning and cooking dinners for my family. While take-out is a nice treat from time to time, my kids really love helping in the kitchen, so we’re always on the look-out for low-key dinners made with the help of many little hands. Below is what’s on our menu this week, with details about how my 4 and 7 year old kiddos will help out. If you have “little chefs” in your family, share what recipes you enjoy cooking together! We’re always looking for new meal ideas. Breakfast for Dinner My kids are obsessed with breakfast for dinner night, which is hilarious, because they aren’t huge breakfast eaters at actual breakfast time. My older son has recently learned to flip pancakes and is quite proud of this skill. For “Breakfast for Dinner” in our house, my younger son mixes up pancake batter and passes it to my older son to cook them. My husband makes his “famous” scrambled eggs (how it’s possible that his eggs are that much better than mine, I have no idea…but my kids swear they’re better), and I am left to simply wash and prep a fruit salad. Tapas Night Another crowd favorite in our house, also known as “Snacky-Dinner...

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Sick Day Readiness: A Guide

Well, we are nearly a full week into November, and already, the seasonal illnesses have reared their ugly heads in my house. In the past two weeks, my kids have battled croup, a bronchial infection, and a double ear infection. They’ve taken turns being miserable (see above sad photo!) and I haven’t slept well in approximately 14 days. However, in my 8th “cold season” as a parent, I’ve learned a few things, and I feel more able to handle the germs that these boys throw at me– and throw they do! My older son has been prone to croup since he was 18 months old. I will never forget his first croup attack. ‘Twas the night before Easter, and of course I was hosting, and of course my in-laws were flying in the very next day. As I was doing my (ahem) annual dusting-before-company extravaganza, I hear the horrible barking cough of croup over the baby monitor. It came on suddenly and severely. He was struggling to breathe, and gasping. I later learned that he was indrawing, meaning his chest wall was being visibly sucked in with each breath, and I could hear wheezing when he wasn’t even coughing. We abandoned all Easter prep and headed to the ER, where he received inhaled epinephrine, oral steroids, and oxygen. We later learned that some kids are simply prone to croup, and had at least...

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