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Later is better. The (Not So) Importance of Pre-K

Pre-K, or Head Start, as it was called at the time (and still is in some places), was first introduced to the U.S. by President Johnson in the 1960’s. It was initially a half-day pilot program that was publically funded for low-income families that included: education, wellness screenings, and support services for poor households. During this time only 10% of families across the US were participating in Head Start, but by the 80’s the demand for Head Start was so wide-spread States began funding their own programs. Currently, over 800,000 four-year-olds are participating in Pre-K and Illinois is the first state to expand their programs to three-year-olds.

The strong conclusion that pre-k supporters uphold is that children are inherently better prepared, socialized, and comfortable in kindergarten and the rest of their years in school compared to children who did not attend pre-k. Which, makes sense… but somewhere along the way pre-k became the “norm” and kindergarten became the new first grade, causing standards to rise and condemning the children coming into kindergarten without having attended pre-k, and labeling them as “behind.” Though some studies prove pre-k to be detrimental to childhood development and learning that affects the entirety of a child’s school career. So, is earlier really better? As always, I’m here to tell you how I feel. 😉 This subject could go on forever (don’t believe me? Look up some college thesis’s on the subject. Holy guac, y’all!) so I’m only going to touch on a few of my “hot” topics.

One of the long-standing debates of whether or not play-led, relaxed, and delayed learning (and sometimes homeschooling in general) is an acceptable means of education early on (or at all) is socialization. Is the idea that socialization can only be accurately achieved during early childhood in a preschool-like setting a solid truth, or is there some give? By definition, socialization is learning to actively mix socially with others, and learning to behave in a way that is socially acceptable. Children don’t have to spend an entire day away from home to achieve this. Social interaction with family, friends, and acquaintances at the park, church, or other places can easily prepare them socially. My natural inclination when I read the words “socially acceptable” is to roll my eyes. Who, exactly, determines that, and why should anyone live by “their” standards? In fact, one of my children is considerably more social now that she’s not in school, and my social butterfly (Hayden) was super social in school, and still is at home.

Another interesting debate that causes a lot of controversies is whether or not reading should be taught early on before, or in kindergarten, and that children should exit kindergarten as solid readers which makes pre-k necessary. For public school-goers, this is something to really consider…. hard. What we say to and about our children becomes their inner voice. If they’re labeled as behind entering kindergarten, that is what they will believe of themselves, too, for much longer than just the one year they’re in kindergarten.

The number one reasons we became an unschooling family is because I wanted to instill the love of learning in our children early on by letting them explore the world how they felt moved, and to figure things out in the most organic way possible. Pre-K stuffs them into a room of other children their age, and they’re required to sit still, listen, and retain a significant amount of information for the majority of the day, five days a week. I wholeheartedly believe at four years old a child is just not ready for traditional schooling at home or away. As homeschoolers, we have the option to let them be little regardless of the style of learning that is used.

Play is the best sport and if you’re blessed to be able to stay with your children during the week play-led learning is easily achieved. Count things, talk about the letters they start with, label stuff, read together, color together, sing songs. As parents we make decisions for our family that we feel are the best, no one should be able to tell us what, or what not to do. If Pre-K is something your family needs or would benefit from, send your children. If you feel Pre-K isn’t suitable for your family, don’t force it! What is right for my family, may be all sorts of wrong for yours. Having been on both sides of the fence, I can testify play is a reasonable means of learning for small children and why I’m now so solidly grounded on the “later-is-better” side of the fence.

What are your feelings on Pre-K?

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All good mothers hear

Preach it, Sister!! “…and they might say it’s because mother-hood can differentiate but really if you have a daughter I beg of you, teach her something useful! Teach her about people’s expectations to be married. Teach her about the double standards of opposite sex (going both ways) not one. Teach her how to change a diaper. Teach her how to be kind. Teach her that emotion is not weakness (by being emotional and remaining strong)! Teach her how to level with a 4 year old and how to calm an infant. Teach her, Teach her, Teach her. And when you cannot teach her any more, let other women be her guide as well…”

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I’ve never hopped on my blog and let words fly… I write on posts for days, proof read and proof read again. Exchange boring words for more complex ones, add on ideas that have been left out.

Tonight I don’t have it in me to do all of those things. I’m tired. Being a stay at home mom, today, has gotten the best of me. I try, like hell I try, not to go on rants about being a mother or just how tough it is. My choice, My problem –in my philosophy. For the sake of all mothers around me, and another’s lack of ability to see what true super heros they are I feel I must bring to light some of what their dailies bring.

I can’t help but think of two of my longest friends this week. How did it so happen that about 15…

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Balancing Work and School

If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook you know, we’re saving up for a new (to us) vehicle. I have my eyes set on a 12 passenger van. *Insert school-girl scream here.* I’ve wanted one F-O-R-E-V-E-R, and with five kids it would be amazing. More room for groceries, more space to keep them from fighting… ah… the peace. We’ll see what the Lord has in store for us, though.
My (soon-to-be) step dad owns an automotive shop and is always looking for office help, so I’m working for him for a few weeks to help save up some extra cash, on top of my husband working a second job doing what is called turn. He basically clears out, and does make-ready work on all of the UT housing students are moving out of to get them ready for the new students coming in. He’ll be working ridiculously long hours to make us double income for about a month. I figured not only would it be useful to have more to put towards a new vehicle, but if he’s working that hard I should too.
Two of the helpful things about unschooling and year-round schooling is that a “break” isn’t detrimental to our learning. I have no plans to take a full break, though, especially since Ella is making such strides in reading.
Since we won’t be home for lunch, and we’ll be leaving earlier than the kids usually eat breakfast I’m going to have to prep our breakfasts and lunches in advance. This, works well for Herman too, because he often skips breakfast or eats out for lunch. After a lot of Pinterest searching, (you can check out my board here to see all of my inspiration) this is what I settled on:

*Scroll over the pictures to see the captions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I tend to prep extra hard the first week, and then slowly taper off causing us to have less than excellent lunches, or buying out. Since we’re trying to make and save money right now, which is the whole reason we’re doing this, I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on pre-packaged stuff, but I also wanted to be practical because I know me. I had an entire week to prep for the first week, where as I’ll only have the weekend to prepare for the following week (which is where these pictures came from). So I laid the ground work last week to help me quickly prep for the coming few weeks.

Another thing I did was get things set up in our laundry room/ family closet for clothes each day. I didn’t do anything fancy, I just put five outfits into each drawer for the kids. (Excuse the crummy picture complete with our overflowing clothes basket, it was late and I saw I forgot one.) We don’t use dressers only baskets, so it’s not tough for them to dig through each morning to grab and go, but they’re not morning kids (hazards of homeschool), and they are not impressed with leaving early each morning. Plus, the girls make a fiasco of choosing an outfit every day. Since they’re staying at my mom’s house while I work; if anything this set up makes it so they can stumble over, grab the stack, get in the van, and change at Nani’s. (Which they’ve been doing.) Emma just wears whatever she slept in.

 

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These are the drawers are what we use for the big kid’s clothes. They’re not pretty, but functional.

So, to keep thing rolling on the school front since they won’t be with me the majority of the time for the next few weeks, I have a few printable work sheets for the kids to do when they get home, I’ll be reading in the evening with Ella instead of throughout the day, (although, Hayden LOVES to play teacher with her, and I swear she retains more when they’re “playing”), and we’ll spend time exploring like we usually do during the week on the weekends. Since Herman will be working every weekend, it will be like a typical weekday for us. We haven’t taken any time “off” yet this year because of the way we choose to school, and Hayden mentioned it’s like summer break, ha!

Do you work and homeschool? What are some things your family does to keep things running as smoothly as possible?

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Keeping Me and My Body Safe

We’ve been spending time on learning our phone numbers, address, and birthdays recently. Mostly because Gabriella, Lylah, and even Ryder (sorta) are at the ages they can retain the information.

They were all already well aware of the name of the town we’re in and know their full names, which, since it is such a small town they would either A. know someone or B. would quickly be reunited with us. However, the thought of being separated from any of the kids  is scary, and I started to consider whether or not my children would know what to do if faced with a stranger, or were lost.

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Being separated from your baby at any age would be hard, but it would be equally as hard for them if not equipped with the knowledge to find their way home or to get proper help; especially at a young age. I considered this while also considering my children. Ella is super quiet, Lylah can be hard to understand sometimes, and Ryder equally so. So, I feel, for my family, it’s important for them to be able to dial my phone number alone, not just memorize it. I made this possible by making my phone number my password on my phone. They learned it in NO TIME. Not only did they remember the numbers, but it’s muscle memory.

I made up some printables to go along with the lesson. We learned to write our birthdays in mm-dd-yy format since this is the most commonly used version and easily written out. (Again with the hard to understand sometimes thing.) We also worked on them knowing and clearly saying my and my husband’s full names and address.

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A few days later we started on the Keeping Me Safe worksheet. I wanted it to be interactive with note taking for Hayden to help with memorization, but also to work on copying and penmanship. (Sneaky, I know.) Since I wanted them to be able to copy the words in independently, I also printed up a sheet that had a word bank.

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This page covers keeping the kids safe, and hopefully, teaches them how to protect themselves from assault, or what to do in the event of, God forbid. Chances are there is someone you know who was assaulted as a child by an adult or an older family member, even if you don’t know it. What separates those who thrive as survivors and those who don’t, is their network, and their ability to reach out for help and be lifted up.

Finding help when lost. I honestly don’t remember where I saw this, but I read once to teach our children to look for a mommy when they’re lost. GENIUS! Unfortunately, there are bad people out there wearing store uniforms, and badges. A mom with her child (ren) is going to feel empathy and a sense of urgency almost always when met with a lost child. The same goes for a dad with their child(ren). These two people are safe places for children to turn. We also went over staying in an open place when lost: not following someone we don’t know to a “room with a phone,” or to their car to get help, etc.

Saying NO! In our house, it’s also important to us to teach the kids that they’re in control of their body. They don’t have to hug, kiss, or even shake hands with someone that makes them feel uncomfortable. Can they be rude? No. But, they can trust their instincts. We went over what those felt like, too.

Private Parts. Aside from talking about the places a tank top and shorts cover we also talk about our hands, eyes, and mouth. It’s tough to think about, but kids need to know their hands shouldn’t touch anyone’s privates, their eyes shouldn’t see them, and their mouth too, is a private area.

Trusted Adults. Doctors should always be on a child’s list of trusted adults. It’s an outside of the family source a child can reach out to that has access to resources to help a child in need. Along with their doctor, my kids picked myself, their dad, and, their Nani. (My mom.)

These subjects can be uncomfortable to talk about. Sometimes the kids would giggle when we were talking, or say silly things. It’s just what kids do, but in the end, this is important information to have.

Download these worksheets for FREE here: About Me and Keeping My Body Safe

What do you teach your children about body safety?

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Being Candid with our Children

*This post was originally published for FBC Thorndale’s monthly newsletter.*

 

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

From the moment our children are born into this world, it is our job to teach, guide, and aid in God’s all-seeing plan for them. As they get older, it becomes more about what they see, rather than what they’re told. Children are master imitators, so whether we are purposefully or unconsciously working to give them something good to imitate, they’re already doing it. One of the most important things we need to teach our children is there is no perfect walk with Christ.

A few weeks ago in Children’s Church, I asked the children to raise their hands if they were perfect. None of them raised their hands. I then asked them to raise their hands if their parents were perfect, and a few children actually did. As parents it’s an important part of our job to show our children we, too, are flawed and only Christ is perfect. It’s essential to their walk to know you’re always available to discuss hardships and questions when it comes to their faith.

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Here are a few ideas on how to be candid with your children:

  1. Read the Bibe out loud and discuss. Doing this teaches them it’s okay to have questions and furthers learning and understanding for both you and the children.
    By reading and learning alongside them you’re showing them their faith, and yours is ever-growing.
  2. Be candid about your faith. While it’s not ideal for our faith to plateau, the truth is sometimes it does. We go through seasons where we’re floating from one bible study to another or switching up technique. It’s even possible that sometimes we go through a “dry” season; a time when we aren’t reading at all or feel disconnected. Teaching acceptance of these things is obviously not ideal, but showing your children that being committed to furthering your faith can sometimes be a struggle and to never be acceptant of that is important.
  3. Share your testimony. Kids don’t need to know all of the details from your youth, but they do need to know you’re not perfect. Only God knows their heart, and if they’re feeling lost it’s helpful for them to know that at one point you were, but you found refuge in Christ.

As parents, we sometimes confuse giving our children the best life with the perfect life, tripping us up on the actual life we’re living. Giving our children our best is all we can do. Imitating perfection only leads our children to believe that’s what they must achieve in their walk with Christ as well.