3-Step Summer Learning Plan

School’s out. Summer’s in. Time to trade in bed times for bicycles and ice cream trucks. Right? Yes, but it’s also time to try to do some summer learning. I know; I’m such an annoying mother. I should let them run free from morning until night and forget about learning anything important until school starts up again. But, if you know me at all, you know I’m a bit of a nerd and I’m proud of it. I like to learn. I like to create things. I like to read. I like to teach my kids things. Luckily, my kids like learning things too.

My older daughter starts Kindergarten in the fall while my younger daughter will start with her two mornings of pre-k. What could kids that age possible have to learn you may ask? Well, a lot if. We went to my daughter’s Kindergarten orientation last week and let me tell you, things have changed quite a bit in thirty years. Gone are the days of play kitchens and finger paints. They’ve been replaced with site words and writing. Little kids are certainly expected to know a lot at a young age. It is kinda sad that my kids will not be able to enjoy a lot of the fun things I did at their age. But, it seems our kids are being forced to be smarter and more competitive for when they become grown-ups.

I’m not putting my kids in some summer learning boot camp, but we will be doing daily exercises to get their brains moving. I put the little people in my head to work to devise a plan. They’ve come up with three steps for summer success:

1. ABC’s of Summer: My daughter’s school provided us with letter and number packets so she can learn to write. She’s already done the alphabet in pre-k and can write her name, but there are some letters that are still giving her problems. So, each day we will focus on one letter. I’m also going to ask her to come up with one word for each letter. I try to find summer related words, but sometimes that’s not the case. Hopefully, this will help when she starts to read on her own. As for my younger daughter, she likes her Leap Frog Letter Factory. She uses it to recognize letters and their sounds. It also makes her feel as though she’s doing something like her sister.

2. Counting the Days of Summer: We’re going to use the number packets provided to focus on one number each day. I’m also going to use the calendar so she recognizes double digit numbers. I’m thinking of also using some pieces of fruit to work on simple addition and subtraction.

3. R is for Reading: We always read books, but this summer I’m going to start concentrating on comprehension. I’m going to ask my older daughter some questions about the stories. As for my little one, we’ll look at the colors the different characters in the books are wearing so she can get that down.

That’s it? Yep, that’s it. I think my little plan is just enough. I can tell you it is already working. We are only four days in and my daughter asks me to do her letters and numbers. Getting her and her sister to sit down for a story is sometimes a little more challenging, but we’re working on it.

In order to pave the way to success, I try to do these lessons in the morning after breakfast. I also keep the whole lesson to fifteen to twenty minutes. I find my kids learn better in the morning. I also find I can really keep their attention for that amount of time. Anything past that and the ants start dancing in their pants. I know a lot of parents don’t have the luxury of sitting with their kids in the morning. But, I think this is something that can be done before or after dinner. It’s short enough that I think it can be done any time that works for you.

I’ll be curious to see how much we improve on our letters. numbers, and reading by the end of the summer. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, what do you do to keep your kids’ minds busy over the summer?



What Does Mommy Read?

As a mom, sometimes getting time to yourself is harder than getting tickets to a Bon Jovi show. I should know, but that’s a different topic for a different time. Seriously, though, getting time to yourself is so important. It can really help keep you sane and recharge your batteries. With that said, you don’t want to waste it doing dumb things like laundry or cleaning your house. Hitting the gym and reading a good book often top my free time list. While I enjoy some “Goodnight Moon” and “Green Eggs and Ham”, I need some grownup pages to turn.

What’s more grownup than the “50 Shades” trilogy? I often brought it with me to the gym and noticed my fellow gymsters staring at the covers. What kind of mom would I be if I didn’t read these books? Come on! Anyway, some of the guys would stare at the cover with intrigue and silliness. Some women would give me the “oh yeah, I’m reading that too” look, while others looked on in disgust. I wanted to tell those onlookers, “Hey mama, you don’t know what you’re missing!” That is until you get to the last book. Oh E.L. James, what a let down! I won’t spoil it for those of you who may still be drooling over Christian Grey. But, let’s just say I was 50 shades of disappointed! I don’t know how I wanted it to end, but I didn’t want to end it the way it did.

On the total end of the spectrum is a book by a friend of mine, Rosemary O’Brien. Her new novel “Scraps” is 50 shades of a good read. While there’s no Christian Grey or any of that craziness, there are some real honest to goodness characters and story lines that will suck you in faster than a buy one get one free sale. I can truthfully say I read through this one faster than any of the three “50 Shades” books. Sometimes you just need a good story, especially one that will get you a little misty at the end. That’s when you know you’re invested in a good book. If the characters can make you feel something, then you’ve sold me, and this one did just that.

Speaking of characters that make you feel something, open a page to any of the Nicholas Sparks books. He is my favorite author. I can say I own and have read every one of his books. I’m currently into “Safe Haven”. Of course, I love it! All of his books suck me in and make me want more. Seriously, what a talent! Unfortunately, the movie adaptions weren’t always on my list of favs, but I guess that’s okay.

Okay, enough writing for now, time to spend some quality time with my book and my little book light. I know it’s nerdy, but it’s one of the best gifts I ever got! What are some of your favorite books and authors? I’m always looking for some new pages to turn!

OMG…I S-p-e-l-l Everything Now

   I know you’ve heard the saying “kids are like sponges”. Well, I think they’re more like Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. I am quickly learning nothing gets past them. These days we’ve resorted to spelling things out so my three year-old can’t pick up on what’s really going on. Boy, are we d-u-m-b! One day I thought I was being s-m-a-r-t by not actually saying the words ice cream. Well, I didn’t even get to the second “c” when she shouted “ice cream!” It was pretty funny. Annoying, but funny. Another time I didn’t want to say the word “pee”, well stupidly I started spelling the word, forgetting what the first letter was. Yeah, I was really a dumb a-s-fill in the last letter!

   Not only is it annoying that she can pick up what we are trying not to say, but now we also have to remember how to spell. What a p-a-i-n! I love when I’m talking to my husband and I have to spell every other w-o-r-d. Let’s just say he looks at me like I have two h-e-a-d-s. With all this spelling I am doing, maybe I can go enter some kind of adult spelling bee. Guaranteed it would be filled with a bunch of parents who are in the same boat. Well, them and people who are actually good at s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g.

  While spelling is all fine and good, there are times when you just have to substitute another word for what you really want to say.No fudging around here. Shut the front door, I know you know what I’m talking about. The funny thing is after saying it so much, you can actually forget how to swear. I know it may sound weird, but I sludge you not. It’s the truth.

   I know I’m in deep doodoo when my daughter can actually start to form words with her letters. Then, I really really have to be careful what I say. Until then, I’ll be training for the spelling bee and telling people to shut their front doors.

Surviving Pre-K

   They said it was going to happen and it did. Boy, did it happen. I’m talking about the tears on the first day of Pre-K. I’m not even talking about myself. I’m talking about my daughter. Yep, we were that family the first day of school.

   It’s a real shame, because it seemed so promising. My daughter was sooo excited about school. We even had a discussion about how Mommy and Daddy couldn’t stay and how she was going to make all new friends. She seemed okay with it all. She wasn’t. The excitement level disappeared and turned into sheer panic as soon as we motioned towards the door. The tears started and they did not stop. I mean they did not stop!
My heart broke into one-thousand little pieces. She was so upset. I was upset too. I really thought we had this thing in the bag. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

   After seeing how upset she was, I really didn’t know what to do. I looked around. No other kids were crying. No other parents were staying like they said we all could that day. I truthfully was waiting for another kid to crack. Nope. No other tears. Against my better judgement, I stayed. I was able to calm her down with the help of some Dora toys. Gracias Dora, I owe you one. Then I “went to the bathroom” and escaped until the shortened day was over. I could hear her ask for me a couple of times. But, she was also starting to play with the other kids and teachers. Thank God!

   When it was time to leave she seemed okay. She said she had fun, so I thought we were golden for day two. Once again, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I went in bribing her with pizza if she stayed without crying. Once again, everything was great until I said that dreaded word…bye. The eyes got watery. Then she told me she didn’t want pizza and wanted to go home! Okay, so I totally wasn’t expecting that one. I told her that wasn’t an option. But, she wasn’t buying what I was selling. After a couple of minutes of crying, the teacher told me to run for the border. She told me to just rip the band-aid. So, I did. I left me child sobbing as I walked down the hallway feeling like the worst mother in the world.

   Truthfully, I expected to get a call from the teacher at any moment telling me to come back and calm her down. But, after an hour passed without a call. I figured I was in the clear. But, I still felt like crap. I had planned to do so many things with just one child in tow. The weird thing was I felt lost. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t stop thinking about her and what she was doing. Was she still crying? Was she having fun? Was she making friends? I was driving myself crazy. So, I thought about what would make me happy. The answer was simple…retail therapy and caffeine. I have to admit it did help!

   When I arrived to pick her up, I was expecting to find a miserable little girl who was so mad at me for leaving her with strangers. Instead, I found a little girl who was so excited to show me her little project and tell me everything she did. She was so happy! And, guess what? She wanted her pizza too! Score 1 for Mom and Pre-K (atleast for now)!

Pre-K Pre-Jitters

   So, my baby starts pre-k next week and guess who’s nervous? Yep, me. I mean she could very well be nervous too and just not telling me. But, that’s what makes me nervous. She’s excited for now, but what’s going to happen the first day? She could be waving goodbye with a smile one minute and crying her eyes out the next. That’s what I’m nervous about.

   I know it’s just pre-k, but still, it’s her first school experience. I’ve left her with family before, but never with complete strangers. So, of course, this makes me nervous too. The school she’s going to has been in business for 49 years, so there is some comfort there. But, now they have my baby. That’s what I’m nervous about.

   On the list of “are you kidding me lady, chill out”, I’m also worried about what kind of snack to pack. They say to pack a “healthy” snack. Well, I have one of the pickiest eaters ever and healthy isn’t always on the menu, so this should be fun. Yes, I know this is dumb, but this is what I’m nervous about.

   Since we’re talking about the whole food thing, it would be a good time to mention the fact that we were sooo late to the lunchbox party. I figured shopping for a lunchbox two weeks before school would be okay. Yeah, I was wrong. I went to four stores. The stuff was so picked over and jammed together I thought I was watching “Hoarders”. Oh and since when are thermoses not included? For the love of God, I’m still trying to find a darn thermos! I remember the days of the old plastic lunchboxes that always came with a thermos…but I digress. Anyway, my daughter walked in wanting a Dora or Abbey lunchbox, but settled for Hello Kitty.  I know she doesn’t care, but this is what I’m nervous about.

   On the list of things she could care less about, but is giving me gray hair, is her outfit the first day of school. Of course I bought some new outfits, but they’re fallish. So what if it’s 85 degrees the first day of school? What does she wear? I know it doesn’t matter. But, this is what I’m nervous about.

   So folks, we’ll see what happens next week. I know in the end, we’ll find the “right” outfit , the “right” snack, and the “right” thermos. But, for now I’m just going to be nervous!