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Diane Flynn Keith...

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It’s Never Wasted Time!

I recently read something on Facebook that was attributed to Garrison Keillor that I wanted to share with parents: Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.

Now those are words to hang on to, especially during the challenging preschool years!

My Facebook comment was: Your children won’t remember everything you do for them, or adventures you share, or even every book or song. It might feel like it’s a wasted effort sometimes, but it’s not. Everything you do is important and your children will benefit greatly, and so will you.

I know parents sometimes wonder about all the effort that they invest in the moment, knowing full well that their children are young and won’t remember. Some may even be tempted to enroll their children in preschool with a plan to homeschool later when they think their child will remember – but those toddler/preschool years are important, too!

It’s true that kids don’t remember day to day, but all that we do with and for them has a cumulative effect, and the only waste would be wasted learning opportunities if it hadn’t been done.Children don’t have to remember everything when they are grown to have it be important in their development.

Every day counts.You probably remember a few things that were important to you when you were young. And now you are the one making a difference in a child’s life every single day, even when it doesn’t seem like it!  It’s never wasted time, and years from now, you’ll share stories and photos of their childhood, and be grateful for the time you spent with them. What a priceless gift!

*Karen Taylor provides regular homeschooling information and mentoring on Facebook, and she is the Directory of Cedar Life Academy, a Private School Satellite Program (PSP) for homeschoolers in California. 

Helpl! My Child Wants to Go to School!

Karen TaylorEvery year I hear from someone who isn’t sure what to do when a young child announces he/she wants to go to preschool or kindergarten. It’s a common problem and it can cause a crisis if the parent is planning on homeschooling!

So, what can you do?  Many parents want to honor their child’s wishes, sometimes to the point of allowing them to make all of their own decisions, but I want to toss out another perspective – that a young child doesn’t have enough life experience to decide whether to go to school or be homeschooled.

Deciding something as important as school is an adult matter. One reason parents feel such pressure is because friends and family often ask if the child wants to be homeschooled. What an outrageous question! They’d never ask if a child wanted to go to school because our society expects and wants kids to go to school!

While I advocate respecting a child, I don’t think that a young child should make all the decisions. I suggest sticking with the original well-thought-out homeschool plan while taking the time to thoughtfully listen to the reasons why the young child wants to go to school.

Usually the reason is because:

  • Her friend is going to school.
  • He wants a lunch box.
  • You read a book about school and it sounds interesting.
  • He wants to ride the bus.
  • She wants the new school clothes she’s heard about.
  • He wants a backpack.
  • She wants a school photo or ID card like her friend has.

Or maybe your child heard that kids at school do [fill in the blank] and that sounds like fun!

Many of the reasons can easily be met in other ways. When my son was a preschooler, he wanted workbooks and homework so he could be like his older neighborhood friend. I bought some at a thrift store and he happily filled them in until it was no longer important to him. Once you know what a child really wants, you can make it happen outside of school!

Young kids like their world to make sense. Confidently explain the various options, that some kids go to public school, some go to private school, and some are homeschooled – and he/she is going to be homeschooled. There is comfort in knowing your parent has things under control.

For optimum beginning homeschool success:

• Do have some fun! Celebrate the beginning of homeschooling by baking cookies, making playdough, or going on a field trip!

• Find a homeschool Park Day, and go every week! You can find homeschool Park Days through your local homeschool Support Group. Most state homeschool organizations list Support Groups throughout the state on the their websites. You’ll find a Directory of U.S. Homeschool Organizations here:

 Order something very interesting, and let your child know it’s because he’s being homeschooled. Get an educational game, a science kit, or find something free that is offered to teachers!

• Do not ask your child if he’s happy that you decided to homeschool him. Ever! If you ask a child if he’s happy, you are showing doubt and that will make him wonder if there is a problem he hadn’t thought of. He’ll also feel the power you just gave him and use it in ways that aren’t good for either of you. No child is happy every moment, homeschooled or not, and it’s good for children to learn that they are responsible for their happiness. Have confidence in your decision! It’s good for both of you.

• Do not allow any family member or friend to undermine your homeschool decision in front of your child. Some subjects need to be limited to adults only, and firmly stick to this.  No child should grow up hearing other adults criticize his parents.

There will be other wants in your child’s life in the near future, but they won’t be as emotionally charged as the school decision. Keep it all in perspective, and have a great homeschool year!

*Karen Taylor provides regular homeschooling information and mentoring on Facebook, and she is the Directory of Cedar Life Academy, a Private School Satellite Program (PSP) for homeschoolers in California. 

Feed Me a Story!

Are you feeding your child’s brain? The concept of “brain food” was part of a campaign that was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education’s “America Reads Challenge” years ago. They had a catchy slogan: Start Early, Finish Strong: How to Help Every Child Become a Reader. One document that was inspired by this reading challenge was Feed Me a Story.

I like the title, Feed Me a Story, because it’s about giving a child what they called “brain food.”

They started with a question, “Does it really matter if I read to my child every day?” And the answer, of course, was YES! The statistics were impressive:

If reading for 30 minutes a day begins at birth, by the time the child is 5 years old, he or she has been fed roughly 900 hours of brain food!

Reduce that to just 30 minutes a week and the child enters kindergarten with just 130  hours…No teacher, no matter how talented, can make up for those lost hours of mental  nourishment.

Homeschooling parents of young children are probably going to be spending way more than 30 minutes a day giving their children brain food!  What we are doing with our children every day is so vital to their future, and that’s encouraging news.

Feed Me a Story emphasized that parents didn’t need to spend the entire 30 minutes reading, nor did it have to happen all at one time. They could also do things while getting dressed, eating, riding in the car, or doing chores. Read just one story a few times a day and also consider the following to increase your minutes each day:

• Sing a good morning song (What a heartwarming and loving tradition to start the day!)

• Talk about the clothes your child will wear (Do you want to wear a red or purple shirt?)

• Check the thermometer to see what the temperature is (Use it to decide what to wear, predict snow, and more!)

• Play “This Little Piggy” while putting on socks (Play with language and give your child special loving attention)

 Play teaching games like “Simon Says” (Simon says, “Touch your nose. Simon says, “Touch your knees.”)

• Get silly with rhyming words. (Read Dr. Seuss’ Hop on Pop for ideas.)

• Sing songs together. (I like singing rounds and playing patty cake too, since they are loads of fun and more challenging!)

• Keep a book handy for times when you are waiting, or talk about when you or they were young.

 • Read, sing, or talk during bath time.

The major point is that a minute here or there spent reading or talking to a child every day from birth on has a major impact on his learning because all those mini-moments really add up.

They didn’t suggest teaching a young child the alphabet or giving worksheets – just reading, singing, and talking. It’s fun, it’s easy to fit in to a busy day, and it makes a big difference.

*Karen Taylor provides regular homeschooling information and mentoring on Facebook, and she is the Directory of Cedar Life Academy, a Private School Satellite Program (PSP) for homeschoolers in California.