Monthly Archives: August 2018

First Things First

A popular question I find myself answering for friends and family is, “What can I do to help my little one be ready for school?” For me, it boils down to two things:

  • Read to and with them.
  • Talk to them.

Sure, there are social, motor, and behavioral skills to think about too. Everything else that can help them succeed at school tends to come organically from these two things.  I can overload you with statistics, case studies, and other research, but this isn’t that kind of post. This is a momma to momma (or other caregiver), teacher to momma type of conversation. That number one, best thing you can do? It’s really simple – just read to them. Reading does not always mean sitting in a cozy spot reading a book. Reading can mean pointing out signs of places you frequent. Environmental print (words all around you) is a building block of reading readiness. You may notice that your little can recognize signs and symbols for stores, restaurants, and other brands. Chick-fil-a, Walmart, and Target are big ones in our house.

Other building blocks: holding a book correctly,  connecting text to pictures, and understand reading is an enjoyable activity. All of these are “taught” by reading with your children. Part of our nightly routine is to read a book. I cannot lie, some nights we miss it. But books are everywhere in our house, so you better believe Genevieve has been read to (or “reads” to herself) at some point each and every day. I read in front of her. I model appropriate page turning, pointing at words, and even talking about what I’ve read. The impact of just 20 minutes of reading an day is ENORMOUS. I cannot stress that enough!

Those bajillion questions your kiddo(s) asks everyday – answer them, well most 😉 of them. Talking to your kids, even before they can return the favor, does wonders for vocabulary and speech development. All of that environmental print – connections to names and meanings are made when you talk about where you are going and what you are doing. At the grocery store? Talk about what items you are getting and what you may use them for. Heading on a road trip? Talk about where you’re going and point out road signs that help guide your way. You can hear me often say to my cooing, six month old, “Tell me about it. Tell me a story.” I egg her on with more questions as if she is answering with more than her giggles and velociraptor shrieks. I establish with her the relationship between meaning and the sounds she makes. All sorts of wonderful brain connections are being made during these exchanges. Plus, it’s super cute! The more you talk to them, the more likely they are so succeed academically later in life.

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I’ll post another time with all those facts, research, and resources – as well as suggested books and ways you can make the most out of all of those questions!

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The Great Disappearing Act

Remember that one time you started a blog, kept it up for a few years, and then ghosted it for a few more? Just me?

Is it ironic that my last post chronicled all that was going on in my life as a person, professional, and teacher and all of those things contributed to my not adding a SINGLE post since?

It’s been a ride friends! A lovely, hectic, surprising, confusing, and fulfilling ride. To recap since my last post:

  • I had that baby mentioned. She is now 3 and all things amazing.
  • Upon returning from maternity leave that year, I ventured into the world of four-year olds and prekindergarten. I prepared long-term sub plans for KINDERGARTEN just to then dive head first into a new grade level. My long term sub was great and took the change in plans best she could. I had an amazing team that helped her transition and kept me in the loop the entire time. I walked into a classroom of little strangers. I had visited my kindergarten class a few times while on maternity. I did not meet my four year olds until the first day. We survived our first day together! Working with that age group taught me so much more about child development that made me a better teacher (and momma).
  • After finishing that school year, we moved! We left Charleston behind and began a new adventure in Raleigh (well, close by), NC. With this move came a big decision. I would take a break from the classroom and enjoy these fleeting years with our then one year old. It was such a tough decision. On the one hand – it was excruciating for me to leave Genevieve each day to go to a job I genuinely LOVED. Once I got to work, I was immersed in all things preK. We had fun. I saw so much growth in my students. On the other hand – I LOVE TEACHING. Thankfully, I had not reached a burned out state like so many of my friends. Watching my students blossom was like watching dreams come true. I felt so much guilt deciding to take a break. Walking away from my incredible school was only made easier by the fact that I HAD to leave for the move anyway. (lol)
  • We were settling in to North Carolina. School was in session for about five seconds before I started to miss it. I missed making connections with students, watching them interact, and learn. BUT, I wasn’t missing it enough to give up what I had going on at home with our toddler. I had front row seats to so much of HER learning and development. We were making friends, going to play groups, and enjoying creating our own schedule. While talking with a friend who also had recently left the classroom, I expressed that teacher heartache I was having. She told me about an online platform for teaching English to students in China. At first I wasn’t sure about teaching in this way, but I checked it out. I’m so glad I did!
  • I’ve been teaching English to students in China online for almost two years. I LOVE IT! It reminds me so much of the tutoring I did with students when in the brick and mortar classroom. It took some adjusting – video, online classroom, pacing, scheduling, etc. – but I’m thankful for this experience. The lessons are already created so prep time is minimal once you get acquainted with the lessons. I can still be my goofy teacher self with songs and randomness.  It gives me the best of both worlds. My teacher heart and my momma heart are fulfilled at the same time.
  • In February of this year, we welcomed another sweet girl to our family! Learning to care for two (plus hubby and myself) has been a balancing act. An act that I do better with some days than others. There are times I catch myself being overwhelmed by being able to be home with Rowan from day one, not have to prepare sub plans, not have to find child care, not have to cry on the way to work. But even still, that teacher heart keeps beating.I was able to take as much time as I wanted from teaching my kiddos online. Yet, even while on “maternity leave”, I accepted just a few classes from a sweet student I teach regularly.
  • Even with ALL of this going on these last few years, my mind has wandered back to this blog. I have ideas on sticky notes in planners and notebooks. I have recorded opening lines on my cell phone. Things I see or do with the kids get filed away in my brain for later. Now – I hope the mommy brain will grant me access! So while the actual blog appears abandoned, I never truly abandoned it. I’ve spent the last few weeks really thinking about recommitting to the blog, how I will manage the posts (plus family), and keeping the content relevant and informative.

My focus for the blog remains the same.  It is simply shifting, for now, from literacy in the classroom to literacy in the living room (or any room in your home). I hope to share with you about literacy development from the perspective of a teacher mom, ideas for simple activities you can do at home, and a funny anecdote here and there. The threenager has an endless supply! I’d love to hear some ideas from you about what you’d like me to post about. Drop a comment below!

So, if you’re still following me – I’m back! If you’ve never read my blog until today – welcome!

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