Study Says Reading to Kids Doesn’t Make Them Smarter

I love to read to my kids. I think it’s one of the most important things I can do for them. They look forward to going to the library and the book store. My older daughter is learning to read in school and gets excited when she can read a sentence on her own. When she asks me who the illustrator of a book is, I know there is a light bulb going on somewhere. So, when a study comes out saying reading to kids doesn’t increase their IQ, I have to roll my eyes.

In a time when we are trying to get parents to spend more time with their kids, let’s discourage them by telling them that sharing the gift of reading will do nothing to make their little ones smarter.

A researcher discovered that how we parent will do nothing to change our children’s IQ because of the role genetics plays. His argument is the way we “parent a child is not going to have a detectable effect on their IQ as long as that parenting is within normal bounds.”

To say I disagree would be an understatement. Kids whose parents don’t read to them will be just as smart as kids whose parents do because of genetics? I don’t think so. Sure, all kids are going to learn to read at school. But, if you don’t do anything at home to reinforce those lessons, all is lost in my opinion. Parents need to take on the responsibility of educator as well. I think laying it all on genetics is just dumb. Studies like these give parents an excuse not to do something they should have been doing all along.

What are your thoughts?


Kindergarten Is the New First Grade

So, we’re a few weeks into this Kindergarten thing and let me tell you, I’m a little surprised and overwhelmed by all of the things my five-year-old daughter is learning and is expected to learn by the end of the year. Gone are the days of coloring, play kitchens and dolls. There really is no time for fun. All of that has been replaced by sight words, writing and reading.

I believe by the end of the year, by daughter will need to recognize dozens of sight words, be able to count to over fifty, write her letters and numbers, and be able to do simple addition and subtraction. There’s probably more, but my head was spinning so much when they rattled off the list that I probably forgot a thing or two.

I know a lot of this has to do with the new common core standards that the schools are using. They are raising the bar so our kids can be smarter and more competitive when they apply for college and jobs. I truly do think this is wonderful, but I also think there needs to be a better balance especially when many kids are still only going for half a day. Actually, let me correct myself, two and half-hours a day. While many districts have transitioned to full days, other schools are still only half day with some kids going in the morning and others in the afternoon. Our district is one of those although they are paving the way for full-day Kindergarten in the near future.

Two and a-half hours is a short amount of time to cram in daily math, reading, writing lessons, as well as an occasional “special” (art, music, gym). Don’t forget snack time too! My daughter comes home with a folder full of work she has completed in class each day. When I ask her if she did all of that in one day, she says “yes”. I look at what I did while she was gone and I feel like a real slacker! I give the teachers and students a lot of credit to be able to do so much in such a short amount of time. Let me tell you, come mid-afternoon, my daughter is exhausted. It’s no wonder since her mind was in Kindergarten boot camp all morning!

With all that is expected of these growing minds, I cannot see how a child can succeed without help at home. Besides the daily homework sheets, we spend more time reading, pointing out site words, and practicing some troublesome letters and numbers. I am blessed to have the extra time to do all of this. Without this extra push at home, I cannot see how kids can fulfill all the requirements outlined in the common core. With that said, when all of our work is done, there is still plenty of time to play.

I think you still need to let kids be kids, especially five-year-olds. That means time to play. Playing teaches kids things like sharing and how to interact with other people. Those are just as important as math and reading. While I think it’s great that we are expecting more out of our kids, I think we have to be careful not to forget there is more to a child than the common core.




Farfaria App Review & Giveaway

As a parent, we all know the importance of reading to our children. As a parent in the 21st century, we also know that kids these days love technology. So why not blend the two? Many companies these days are doing so as they find ways of teaching through technology. There are numerous apps out there that teach numbers, letters, and reading. If you’re like me, sifting through to find the right app for your child is time consuming and annoying. Luckily, one app, FarFaria, found me. So, my children and I had the opportunity to try it out. Honestly, I’m glad we did. FarFaria is an app for your iPhone, iPad or Android device that contains more than 750 illustrated children’s books. Five new titles are added weekly. When you open the app, you simply pick from various groupings, such as “Pre-school Playground”,  “Mt. Make Believe”, or several others. Once you choose, there are several books at your fingertips, all sorted by age groups and  reading abilities ranging from pre-school all the way thru age nine. Preschool Playground Once you pick a book you can choose the option of reading the book to your child or having the app read to you. Since my daughter is learning site words in Kindergarten, I find it helpful when the app reads to us, so I can help her point out and spell the site words on the screen. Even my two-year-old gets into it. Since using the app for about one week, I think we’ve already gone through about fifty stories! I can honestly say my kids love it. They actually ask me if we can do the “iPad books”. The app even has a feature where you can mark your favorites. This is helpful because I’ve found it a little difficult to find certain stories again after we’ve read them once. While we absolutely love FarFaria, I’m careful that our “old school” books don’t get lost. For every digital book we read, there’s one real book to follow. I think using both is a great tool on the path to learning and helping your children read. Here’s your chance to win one FREE three month membership! Just enter below! One random winner will be selected on September 19, 2014. Must be 18 or older to enter!!

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Good Luck!

*I was compensated with a membership to the FarFaria app to complete this review.

‘Twas the Night Before Pre-K

‘Twas the night before Pre-K and all through the house, all my babies were sleeping believe it or not.

The lunch bag has been packed by the door for weeks. It’s filled with all the food your tummy will seek.

For your first day, Elsa and Anna will be on your shirt. We all know you love “Frozen” more than Ernie and Bert.

There are so many things I want you to know before you get up and go.

First of all, be sure to share the toys with all the other girls and boys.

If they don’t let you play with a doll or truck, please don’t say the other word that rhymes with luck!

Your finger is not to be put up your nose, you know the tissue is where your booger goes.

Remember to be kind and keep the feelings of others in mind, if you do this a friend or two I’m sure you will find.

You’ll learn so many things like how to color in the lines, as well as letters and numbers. I know you’ll be just fine.

When it’s time for me to say goodbye, I’m hoping a tear won’t fall from either one of our eyes.

Oh my little one, your time is almost here, there is a lot of fun to be had and nothing for you to fear.

Big sis goes to Kindergarten, this we all know, but tomorrow is your day little sis, to pre-k you’ll go.


‘Twas the Night Before Kindergarten

‘Twas the night before Kindergarten and all through the house not a child was stirring not even a toy Mickey Mouse.

The book bags were hung by the door with care hoping that all of the supplies were packed neatly in there.

The children were snuggled all in their beds while dreams of ABC’s danced in their heads.

I was in the kitchen checking the snacks deciding which ones would make it in their lunch pack.

Now Gogurt!

Now Goldfish!

On fruit snack!

On pudding!

So many snacks, which ones to choose? I must pick the ones that won’t receive any “boos”.

To the top of the fridge to the bottom cupboard drawer, Gogurt and fruit snack you win the award.

Now that the snacks are packed, there’s not much to do. I have everything ready, even your non-light up shoes.

The sun will be up, the time is almost here, don’t laugh if mom sheds more than one tear.

The bell is ringing, don’t be late. I know you’re going to do better than great.

You’ll write your name, you’ll do your numbers, there’s a lot of work to do before you can return to slumber.

The big day is here, give a big shout! You’re about to see what Kindergarten is all about!







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?



The Write Stuff

As a parent, we all have a few things…okay maybe tons of things we like to brag about when it comes to our kids. I’ll admit, I’m no different. These days, I’ve really been trying to get my 3 1/2 year old to write letters and spell stuff. Why? Well, it’s pretty obvious. I want her to be smart, enough said.
Sure she’s in preschool, but they haven’t done too much yet when it comes down to writing. So, that’s where I step in.

You would think getting someone to write a letter or two would be pretty easy. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not. So, when it happens, it’s kinda like hitting the lotto.

I decided to start with the letters in my daughter’s name because it’s obviously important to be able to write your own name. It took a few days and countless tries, but we eventually got our “M”. When we did, I was almost as happy as when I gave birth. I’ll admit I even got a little misty. So, what did I do? Took a picture of our “M” masterpiece and posted it on Facebook, of course. It really was an accomplishment because before we started, she really had no idea what she was doing. I was so proud of her once she got it! What was even better was that she was just as proud of herself too.

Let me tell you, it didn’t stop there. We’ve now mastered the “A”, “I”, “O”, and “T”, and sometimes “Y”. While we haven’t been able to spell her entire name, she is making progress, and that’s all that matters. We’ve inserted our letter practice into our routine almost on a daily basis. In the beginning it was kinda like a chore, but now my daughter actually looks forward to it. Go figure!

In the words of New Kids on the Block, my daughter definetly has the “write” stuff. I can’t wait until the day she can actually write out her entire name. Don’t worry, you’ll definitely hear about here!