Lean Green Mommy Machine

Thoughts on health, wellness, living green and motherhood

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Homeschooling, Peer Influence, and Lifelong Learning

open book

We decided to homeschool our three younger children this year. We do not have official plans beyond this year as we feel it is a decision we want to make every year, for every child. My high schooler would rather die than be homeschooled so she is in her junior year at our local public school.
I’m not completely new to homeschooling. I homeschooled my oldest for two years (5th and 6th grade). It was what we needed at the time but I was very disorganized and we were both ready for her to go back to school after those 2 years (if only I had known the middle school wolves I was throwing her to!).
The bigger challenge with this time around is I am homeschooling different ages (my three are 9, 6 and 4 years – 4th grade, 1st grade, and Pre-k). I also have a 2 year old I watch during the day. My bigger advantage this time is that I am far more organized than I ever have been in my life.
We are in our fourth week of homeschooling and it’s going well. I have had a day or two where I felt like I am not doing enough, but then I remember the vast amounts of time I have to teach them and they show me all they are learning – and then I calm down!
I also have dealt with personality differences, attitude adjustments (theirs and mine), and the need to reset how they view my authority in their lives.
Mostly, I can say that this has been an amazing blessing in our lives. Now all of you veteran homeschoolers don’t start shaking your heads, saying, “It’s only 4 weeks in! Don’t get to cocky.”
Believe me, I’m not. I just truly feel that I followed God’s call in this avenue of our lives and God is blessing us through this.
One thing I have noticed is the difference in my children’s behavior. Learning is no longer limited to school hours. They are able to dig deeper when they are intrigued by something or let it be at surface level if they just aren’t that into the lesson.
Yesterday our history lesson taught a bit about ancient Egypt and mummification. My kids wanted to explore more so we did. Then they used those concepts as they played. This is something that the time constraints of a classroom can’t allow.
I also feel there is an amount of peer influence. The opportunity for learning and exploration has always been available in our home. But I wonder how much my daughters’ peers influenced their perception of learning. The television shows aimed at these kids look down upon learning, make school out to be dreaded and poke fun at those characters who show interest in these things. I know the majority of my 9 year old’s friends from school watch these shows (The Suite Life, Jessie, Hannah Montana, etc). I also know they have begun to act like these characters: embracing fashion, marketers ideas of beauty (a 3rd grade friend was wearing mascara last year!), dating, wanting endless money without ever doing work, hating work of any kind (including learning).
Just months ago my kids seemed to be buying into the idea that learning belonged in school and it was only supposed to be fun if you were rewarded with skittles or went on a field trip.
Now, my 6 year old has begun finding dead bugs and cicada shells and is gluing them to paper (and her older sister is labeling them for her). They are building pyramids out of Legos and pretending to embalm doll house people.
A friend and I were discussing that this sort of things is why so many people say homeschoolers are “weird”. The thing we discussed is, it’s that they are different than the typical kids you encounter every day and people often don’t know how to handle that. But being different from the world, that’s not a bad thing. That is what God asks of us, to not conform to this world.

I want to teach my children that learning never ends. It can’t be confined within set hours of the day…or years of life.

Let’s all keep learning, and not be conformed to this world.


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Puhsketti and Maflingoes: Thoughts on Speech

Learning language is a lengthy process. I truly believe it begins from birth. That’s why I narrate nearly everything happening around my baby from the minute they enter the world. I talk about making dinner, tying my shoes and changing her diaper. I have actually had many people stare at me in the grocery store as I chat away to my tiny baby. Perhaps this is not a common concept.
I do believe that it is a direct result of that continuous talking (and refusal to dumb things down) that all four of my children have been exceptional speakers from very early on.
I do realize that there are various factors that can come into play, such as speech issues, that no amount of narration could overcome. Some kids just need extra help and I am a big supporter of early intervention.
With so much to learn it is reasonable to expect some mispronunciation from our children. Some of it is developmentally on par, like saying “goed” instead of went. It shows they are understanding the concept of past tense.
Sometimes it is simply mis-hearing or jumbling parts of a big word. Even my well spoken children had random words that just didn’t come out right. My second daughter called flamingoes “maflingoes”.
My first reaction is always to simply model proper speech back to any child who is mispronouncing words. For the most part this is very effective at getting them to catch on. Such as, “I see those flamingoes, dear. They are pink.”
But at what point do you step in and actually correct speech? Ever?
There is definitely a division on this subject. There are plenty who say to let it be and it will self correct eventually (not always true). That correcting the child will cause them to be more self conscious and they may not want to speak if it keeps happening.
There are also those who feel that to give the child the best advantage you should help them be at their best and this includes speaking properly. Your speech makes a big first impression and there is no reason to wait it out.
With two very polar views what is a parent to do?
As with many things, I sort of sit right in the middle on this issue. I am not going to hound some poor 4-year-old all day every time he says “puhsketti”, but I am not going to damage his psyche by telling him one time the correct pronunciation and having him repeat after me slowly.
I have been told by a speech therapist that the best way to correct pronunciation without adding undue stress to the child, is only once per day, per word. So you only correct “puhsketti” once on Monday, once on Tuesday, no matter how many times he says it that day.
Now that being said, for me, correcting once does not mean me saying “The word is spuh-geh-tee” once and never mentioning it again. I spend a couple of minutes exploring the word with the child. Break it down. Sound it out slow. Repeat syllables after me.
I have actually discovered children who immediately could say a word perfectly after one of these 1-2 minute break-downs. It was simply as though they had no idea the right way to say it.
Sometimes I think we underestimate our child’s abilities. Or that we are WAY too afraid to hurt feelings. I’m not going around willy-nilly, hurting little kids’ feelings and cackling wickedly about it. It is highly unlikely that small doses of one-on-one correction is going to cause them to never speak again. They may actually enjoy that time and seek out more help (I have seen this).
I parent intuitively so I tend to feel out each situation. I don’t correct every word that is mispronounced once a day. That would be excessive. I go with my gut. I look for good opportunities. If I feel the child is probably capable of saying a word correctly, or they are really butchering it to where people can not understand them, I will step in. I can usually feel out how much to help and when.

I say there is no one right answer. Go with your gut. Step back a little. Help your child a little. You may be surprised at how quickly they pick things up.
The only thing I can NOT condone is letting it go and speaking the mispronounced words to your kids as well because you think it’s cute. I have seen the harm this can do.

So what do you think is the best way to handle mispronunciation and speech issues with kids?


Cutie Pooey Smoochie Woo Woo

Imagine with me for a moment, that adults spoke to each other they way they often speak to babies, toddlers and small children.

Brad: Does Kevin want to get a drinkie? Does he??
Kevin: Kevin has to workie.
Brad:Ohh..that makes Brady-Brad saddy.
Kevin: Does Bubby-wubby want lunchies?
Brad: Braddy wants bite-bites! Braddy does! Does Kev-kev want bite-bites?

I could keep this up but honestly, I’m feeling rather nauseous right now. If someone spoke to you this way you would probably look at them like they have 3 heads, right? Well that is exactly how my daughters look at the many people who try to speak to them that way. Even my 2 year old acts like the person has lost their mind (good chance she’s right) and they are beneath her. You see, we have never talked to them like this. From the time our children are born we speak to them like they are people, because….get this…they ARE people. There is no reason to speak to a child, even an infant, like they’re a…a…oh, honestly there is nothing in this world that deserves being talked to like that. It really is quite gross.
Now, if we can briefly step aside from the point of how disgusting this “language” is and how it makes my skin crawl, let’s talk about speech development. I have no degree or formal education in speech development or any related field but stick with me here. If you talk like a moron to your child they will in turn talk like a moron. It’s really not that complicated. You spend years ooing and gooing over them (if you speak to them at all as infants) and saying things like, “Daddy is going to workies but here is your milkies and look at those floweries.” (*gag) So your child, in turn, calls food bite-bites and ends everything with “-ies” (*gag) and somehow you find this cute…for now. Then they are suddenly entering school and speaking like a moron talking to a baby and now you have to re-teach them how to talk so they don’t get ostracized at recess. It’s a lot harder to teach the right way to say things after you have been encouraging the wrong way for years.
Do you see how this all could be avoided if you would speak to your child, and those around you, like people? And I mean you need to do this from the moment they are born. Narrate their life for them before they ever seem to know what is happening. I have had many people stare at me like I am crazy for speaking to my infant child in the store and telling them about what we are doing and seeing. I would also like to point out that each of my children has had constant compliments on how well they speak and how early on they do so. All four of them.  I recently watched my 2 year old argue with a 4 year old over the proper pronunciation of “banana”.  My 2 year old was right, the 4 year old’s parents talk baby-talk to her.

Remember, as wonderfully adorable and squishy as our children are, they will someday be adults.  Please don’t turn them into vomit-inducing, moron-speaking adults.  It is not even cute when kids do it, less so when adults do.

And if that tittle didn’t make you throw up a little in your mouth you may be one of the people I am talking about.

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Eleven Things Your Childcare Provider Wants You to Know

1. Don’t make large declarations upon arriving, at least not within earshot of your child. This would include things like, “I packed him eggs but he probably won’t eat them.” (he certainly won’t now!) and, “He is very crabby and rude today.” (I guarantee that would not have gone unnoticed and he didn’t need the encouragement).
2. The more you linger, fuss, make a big deal and poo-poo over your child when they are having a rough drop off, the worse it is and the longer they act like that after you are gone. If you trust your provider enough to leave your kid with them every day then you need to know that your child is in good hands and will be just fine. And in most cases, in less than 3 minutes from the time you leave.
3. Do not, let me repeat that, DO NOT pack your kid a pile of sugar to eat (or feed them a pile of sugar before arriving).  If you are sending any meals or snacks along with your child, remember that these need to fuel them for hours of play and learning, not send them into a psychotic tail spin followed by a major crash.  There is no place for vanilla wafers in a 3 year old’s breakfast (yes, I have seen this).

4. All those things you say your kids will not eat or do, etc.  They do almost all of it at daycare.  When you say your daughter will not eat the (already disturbingly sugary) kids yogurt without sprinkles, that is only true at home because she knows you will go for it.  The babysitter on the other hand….well, see #3.  And when you say your son will not sit in time out, he will at daycare. Every single time.

5. Give them a chance to grow up. I GET it. They’re your babies and it goes so fast and it makes you sad.  But you aren’t doing them any favors by babying them.  Allow them to branch out, try new things, take on a challenge.  I have seen parents say their 3 year old son needs to use the potty chair or the seat insert because he is just too scared to use the big potty.  But with even a tiny bit of encouragement and direction he was using the big potty on his own with NO help after just a few days at the sitter’s house. And on this note, cut the baby talk. It is irritating, the other kids can’t understand your kid and therefore do not want to play with her and you are hindering their speech.

6. There is this phenomenon that takes place at pick-up time.  The changing of the guards seems to cause some confusion of who is in charge and the kids sense this and decide NO ONE is in charge.  They act up in ways they most likely wouldn’t for you and certainly wouldn’t for the provider.  If you do not step up and MAKE them mind, please do not be alarmed or offended when your provider does.

7. When interviewing a provider or finalizing plans to send your child, please discuss what the “House Rules” are in the new location.  There are likely going to be at least few differences.  Perhaps you allow your kids to jump on furniture and throw toys but the sitter does not.  Before taking your kids there take some time to discuss the rules with them and what your expectations are.  Revisit these rules frequently.  It can be a simple conversation as you drive over in the morning.

8. It is never too early to teach manners. Never.  Giving in to your child when they shout, “MILK!” teaches them to be demanding and rude.  And no, following the first shout with, “please” does not count as manners or warrant the refill.  Even very small children are capable of learning to ASK politely for something.

9. The majority of providers have a schedule they follow.  This keeps things running smoothly and kids engaged.  If you decide to let the kids sleep in or show up very late for whatever reason this can throw a wrench into the schedule.  If you show up at story time with your kid’s breakfast in hand then all of the children are then distracted by your kids eating breakfast and your kids just want to skip breakfast and hear the stories.  It also makes it harder for your child to transition into their day at childcare when everything has already

One of MY favorite sitters. If you can handle Jack Jack.....

started.  They also may miss out on activities they truly enjoy and learn from.

10. If the sitter discusses an issue or concern with you about your child (whether it be disciplinary or learning) take them seriously and don’t get offended.  They are trying to help your child be the best they can be.

11. If you have a question, concern, are worried, curious, ANYTHING…talk to your care provider. DO NOT try to gain info from your child.  As bright as they may be things are often lost in translation and a young child may not understand the motives of an adult.