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Pre-K at Home!

I remember over two years when my mother-in-law asked me to sit down as she had something to share with me. As she shared with me things she saw in me, she quickly said, “Now don’t freak out when I tell you this, but there will be a time in your life I see you homeschooling.” And yes, I laughed out loud. I was a working mom and staying at home to teach was not in my plans. However, I am in month 7 of “homeschooling” my five and two year old boys. I write “homeschooling” because it is only Pre-K and I am not implementing a particular curriculum, but in my mind school is school.

So what got me here? I became a stay at home mom when my family moved to Texas and my oldest son was approaching Pre-K. At the end of 2013, he had begun our church’s Pre-K class two days a week and we were now approaching the fall of 2014. But due to a late birthday, he would remain in the same class at the church, which meant he would be receiving the curriculum again for the 2nd time. Therefore, I knew I needed to add to what they were doing or I could pull him out of his current class to attend another Pre-K school. Since we had recently moved, I did not want to remove him from a place he had become familiar with and really enjoyed attending, so I went with the other option…homeschool! (And yes I saw my mother-in-laws face as I made this decision. LOL) I decided I would reimplement what he was learning in his church class and add to it by including science, history, and math as the church’s class was more focused on writing, recognition and phonics.

So in August 2014, Pre-K began in our home. I remember the night before the first day of school at home, I sat in my chair wondering where do I even begin as I felt my brain had been stuck. Then it happened, it was like a literal lightbulb went off, I opened up excel and started creating lesson plans for the week. I started with letter A…genius I know. I began thinking of words that began with the letter and went from there. The word chosen would lead, for the most part, the art, science, math, and reading lesson. For example, A is for apple would include writing the word, apple art prints, learning about how apples grow, guessing and counting the seeds within the apple, using the seeds in a science experiment, writing the letter A using the seeds, reading Ten Apples Up On Top by Dr. Seuss, and more. Many of my ideas would come from a google and Pinterest key word search like “apple pre-k or kindergarten lesson”. I also purchased workbooks from Target and the Dollar Tree that were Pre-K and Kindergarten specific. Below is a link to what my lessons look like.

Pre-K Letter A Lesson Plan

There is definitely much to improve on and more to tell when it comes to what our days look like including have a two year old involved, but I wanted to give you a glimpse into homeschool for our family. I hope this helps you think through homeschooling as an option for you even if it is just Pre-K.


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A New Favorite Book

Do you have a book you recommend to everyone? The one that you end up quoting or referring to in most of your conversations. Well, I have just finished one of those books. I am pretty sure my friends and family have heard about every chapter and maybe every page. The book I recently completed is “The Resolution for Women” by Priscilla Shirer. I get excited about writing this post because the book is that good. Priscilla Shirer from the get go tells the woman who has picked up this book, “This book is not for pleasurable reading. In fact, some of it may not be very pleasurable at all.” Now does that get you excited to pick up this book? Hahaha. The reason she makes this statement is not because the book is a horrible read, but because this book is going to shape and mold you in ways that may not be comfortable at first, but will be worth it. This book requires decision making in all areas of your life…wifehood, motherhood, finances, friendships, home, etc. At the end of this book you will have resolved what kind of woman God has created you to be and how you can become that woman.

The book is broken down into specific sections with 3 to 5 page chapters within the section. Each chapter ends with several questions or statements to think about and at the end of each section there is a resolution for you to sign. For instance one resolution at the end of the section “Faithfully His” is, “I will live as a woman answerable to God and faithfully committed to His Word.” In this section the author explains the importance of being God’s and the difference between faith and faithfulness. Another resolution in the book is, “I will accept and celebrate my uniqueness, and will esteem and encourage the distinctions I admire in others.” You will have to read this section to fully grasp the goodness in resolving this statement in your life. I could go on and on with quotes, resolutions, wisdom and insights in this book, but I hope you will make the decision to discover them for yourself.

I will end with this as Priscilla states it perfectly…

“No matter how well you’re already doing in each of these areas or what season of life you’re in, the Lord is always calling and challenging you to grow because His ability to make your life more radiant and abundant is absolutely endless.”

I pray that every woman will put this on her “must read” list. And if this list is pretty long, I pray she lets this book skip the line and be something she picks up to read sooner than later.


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Role Play

Role Playing is to assume the role of another character…to pretend to be someone for a moment. It is something all kids find themselves doing, whether they are superheroes flying through the backyard or teachers who have all their stuff animals as students in the classroom. My boys role play as lions and dinosaurs on a daily basis, which means my background noise is literally a constant roar. I know that most of the role play is pretend and birthed from their imaginations, which I absolutely love watching, but what if we took the role play to real life. For instance, what if you role played behaviors, communication techniques, and so forth. And what if role playing became a reality. Well, since our soon-to-be two year old is starting to communicate so well, we have been performing real life role play. (Seems like an oxymoron I know, but work with me.) One example is to role play sharing. We literally have a toy and pretend the other wants it. Then use words, not hitting or yanking the toy from the other person, but asking for the toy with manners. After practicing some we move on to the next thing. But what is absolutely amazing is when the real life scenario comes and the younger brother discovers the older brother’s favorite t-rex. In this moment, I bring the role play to reality. As the older brother is running to tackle the younger brother for his toy, I say or shout (lol), “Just ask him for it…simply try asking him for it like we have practiced.” The older brother takes a step back and says, “Can I please have my toy?” and the younger brother gives it to him. It is a wow, OMG moment not just for me, but for them as they realize that what we have been preforming actually works in real life. We role play other things like asking for food, giving each other space, how to act in a store, what to do when adults are talking, etc. Now the truth is that there will be moments when little brother gets tackled down to the ground, but that does not take the wow from the moments when he doesn’t. I do my best to celebrate the moments when what we have practiced in role play comes to fruition. A simple pat on the back, hug and “you did so great” goes a long way. Our kids love affirmation. Here is what I do know…kids love to play and pretend, so why not play and practice real life. Give it a try. Play with them too. Who knows you might get the role of that famous cook or CEO!

Is there something your kids need to practice or role play? Do you have any role play suggestions? 😉


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Survive the Summer with Kids by Guest Blogger Kari Leblanc

I am thrilled today to have Kari Leblanc as my first guest blogger. She is a woman I admire in so many ways. She is an amazing wife, mom to five children, cook, friend, blogger and most importantly loves Jesus with all her heart. Today she is providing us with some great tips for how to make it during the summer with the kids at home. If anyone knows her, they can vouch that Kari is a mom who is “on top of her game” to say the least! I hope her tips help you this summer. You can glean more of her wisdom for her blog Convos with Kari.

SURVIVE THE SUMMER WITH KIDS

Thanks so much to my sweet friend Jen who asked me to write a blog post on how to survive and thrive in the summer with littles 🙂 I’m honored! I’ve been working on our summer schedule for the last couple weeks. Summer is a fun season, but it can easily be purposeless since everyone is usually ready for the break from the normal routine.

My most important tips for summer are to PLAN & BE FLEXIBLE. I need a plan so days don’t fly by in a blur of video games and t.v. and I need to be flexible for the days that something comes up. This is my plan for our summer. I hope it helps you!

7:30 – 8:00 am Breakfast
(My kids don’t sleep very late…) Everyone usually wanders into the living room for their daily devos once they’re up. I put my oldest son in charge of breakfast for the summer. He’ll get some simple cooking practice and he’s usually the first one up 🙂 We made a list of easy breakfast options that he can handle and that everyone likes (some days it’s just “take the cereal boxes out of the pantry”). While he’s doing that, I can get my head wrapped around the day. 🙂

9:30 – 11:30 am
Time for our daily-themed activity! *See below

11:30 am – 12:00 pm Lunch
Back home for lunches or Chick-Fil-A with friends 🙂 My oldest is in charge of lunches this summer. She will also get some simple cooking practice (and responsibility practice. 😉

12:30 – 3:00 pm
This is the hottest and laziest part of our day. We usually need a break from whatever we did that morning and we all have a full belly. 🙂 During this time, the littles may take a nap or have a rest time, everyone reads for 30 minutes to 1 hour (based on their age) or they may all lay in the living room and watch a movie. This is also when I prep dinner.

3:00 pm Snack
We have a small snack to signal the official end of rest time and get ready for the rest of our day.

3:00 – 6:00 pm
I think of this part of the day as Free Play. My kids love to play hide & seek, ride bikes, draw with sidewalk chalk, etc…

6:30 pm Dinner 
After dinner is unofficial family time since Dad is done with work (typically). We have family devotions once a week, we may rent a movie or visit friends.

I found this idea for daily themes on Pinterest which gave me some general direction for planning. I love it! This is what we’ll be doing every weekday morning:
M – Make Something Monday – Look through Pinterest to find lots of easy crafts and keep simple art supplies on hand.

T – Take a Trip Tuesday – On these days, we visit cool, free places around our city. Google family activities or sights in your city and keep the list handy. Nothing fancy, just  something to explore.

W – Wet & Wild Wednesday – Make a weekly visit to the splash park, pool or pull out the slip-n-slide & sprinkler.

Th – Thinking Thursday – I keep a list of simple science experiments for my older kids and fun worksheets for the younger ones.

F – Fresh & Fun Friday – This day is reserved for whatever I can come up with… Maybe we bake something together, have a Just Dance contest on the Wii, a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood… Just be creative!

Besides this, we’ve got guitar lessons, football camp and swimming lessons that we’ll also fit in.

Have a plan, be flexible and anticipate a great summer with your kids!!

 

Curbly is an amazingly simple DIY Design Community website that is filled with DIY projects galore, everything from cleaning supplies to gardening to organization. It is also complete with tips for things such as how to maximize space to how to store toys and keepsakes. You have the option to follow them on Pinterest or sign up for their weekly newsletter sent directly to your email. I highly recommend either of these options…I do both.

Last week’s newsletter highlighted some out-of-the-box uses for household items such as olive oil, vinegar, dryer sheets, coffee grounds, and baking soda. As I was reading, I saw how olive oil can be used for stopping the squeaking that occurs as you close your doors. Have you ever tried to wake up early and have some time alone and your door squeaks during the entire door opening process? Or have your kids finally fallen asleep and you go to close their doors when the squeaking begins and their tiny eyes are awakened? This has definitely happened to me on more than one occasion. Therefore, trying this olive oil on the door hinges was put into action quickly. And to my great surprise, it worked!! Even my husband commented on its success more than once. Below is a link to these great ideas for items you already have in your home.

alt-uses-bundle_large_jpg

 

Enjoy your Tuesday and exploring all these amazing tips.

Right before Liam turned four, he became a  little mouse. He would sneak in our room and sleep on our floor. It had come to a point that every night we left a blanket and pillow on the ground as we knew he would arrive sooner or later. When we moved to Dallas, his desire to stay in our room increased. Jason and I knew that this behavior had to end, but we had just transitioned from all he knew (Baton Rouge) and didn’t want to force him to sleep alone in a new room. (I know; we should not have given in, but sometimes giving in happens.) However, about two months ago, we both agreed the behavior needed to end; not just for our sake, but for his as well. We tried all we knew to keep him from coming into our room. We even tried returning him to his room if we found him on our floor. Nothing was working, until one day, while on Pinterest I saw a “Stay In My Bed” card. Pretty clever idea…a simple card that Liam could punch a hole into if he stayed in his bed all night. He could choose the reward for completing an entire card and voila. Well the next day, we put this simple card to the test. And it was miraculous! Something as simple as a card, I printed out at home, changed over a year of coming into our room. He still wakes up so excited that he slept through the night in his own room. He even has gotten to the point where he stays in his room until we come out of ours. Thank you Pinterest for this simple idea that revolutionized our home.

Stay In Bed Card

Out of this, I have realized that working through something with your child, does not have to be so complex. Sometimes your child needs just a little something to “punch”.

Do you have a reward system you have used that is simple, but works? If so, please share as we parents need all the help we can get. Cheers to this parenting adventure.


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Parenting Strength

motherhood

Words you hear from others as you parent…Are they in the terrible twos? Just wait until they turn three? You think it is hard now; they haven’t even hit the teenage years? This is all so encouraging as your child gets older. So comforting to know that every year it gets harder as your child develops and grows in independence. LOL. I say this sarcastically, but I know there is some truth in those statements and the statements themselves wear me out. For the past few weeks, I have felt pretty weary as a parent. I read about parenting almost everyday, try new discipline techniques, and sit with kids and talk about the real issue, their heart. I go to God asking Him for wisdom as a parent. I exasperated all efforts. I came to a place the other day where I exclaimed, “I have tried everything. There is nothing else I can do, read or pray. It is all up to God now.” As I spoke these words out loud, a light bulb went off. It was an “ah-ha” moment. “Only God can do it. That’s it!” I was so weary because “I” was parenting. Strength is not something I can muster up. God is strength. I cannot ever parent from a restful state until God parents through me. This has to come before any book read or parenting plan implemented.

 “Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 (NIV)

Jennifer Laird is not competent as a mother. But because of Christ and through Him, He has called me competent. I am not capable to parent. But because of Christ, He will make me capable. I recently read, “When we rely on God in everything we do, including raising our children, we can be confident He will equip us for this calling of motherhood.” Therefore, I approach the adventure of motherhood with full confidence in the God who called me to it, remembering that He does not call the equipped, but equips the called. Parenting strength is none I have, but all God is and supplies.

I pray that you can find rest in His strength as you parent. Rest in knowing that God does not just supply strength, He is strength. He is your parenting strength.