Early Childhood Homeschooling Made Easy

Taking teaching and your child's future into your own hands.

A Summer Full of Reading

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My daughter absolutely loves books. I was one of those pregnant women that not only talked to my baby while she was in the womb, I would occasionally read to her too. From the time she was born, I would read to her at night before bed. Of course when she was a newborn and infant, she would mostly just look at the pictures, try to eat the book, and stare at me while I read. The older she got, the more she started to get excited when I got out a book. From the time she could crawl, she would bring me books. I would be sitting on the couch in the middle of the day and she would crawl over to the coffee table, pull one of her books off the table, and push it back to the couch while crawling. It was pretty funny to watch. The moment she learned to walk, she would bring me book after book to read.

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A few months before her 2nd birthday, I started taking her to storytime at the local libraries. She was in love. She would get so excited when we would walk into the building and she would see all the books. She would listen intently to the librarian read the books during storytime, and she would clap and cheer when the story was over. The librarian seemed to get a kick out of her enthusiasm.

After storytime, they encourage you to stay in the children’s area and let your child explore by playing with the other kids and picking out books. The first few times we attended storytime, I found it interesting to watch Kayla. While the other kids would run to play with puzzles, games, puppets, blocks, etc., Kayla would gather up a few books and sit down to look at them. She’d go into one of the reading cubbies, or climb onto a rocking chair, and she would just sit there and look at books. The other kids would be laughing and playing, while Kayla would be completely caught up in all the books. She would walk around gathering books to look at, and for me to read to her. She quickly caught onto the fact that we could check these books out and take them home with us. Once she figured that out, she would load up the basket on her stroller with books. Eventually, she did notice that there are toys and activities to do in the library as well, and she now plays with the other kids. She usually starts out playing with the other kids, then goes around looking for books to check out. We typically leave with a stack of 8-12 books, all for her.

I am a big reader myself, so I am overjoyed to see Kayla’s love for books. We read books together at least once a day, if not two or three times. On average, we read 10 books a day. And as she gets older, the books are becoming longer and with more words.

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A couple of weeks ago, I took Kayla to our local library. When we were checking out our books, the librarian asked Kayla, “are you going to read all of these books?” Kayla’s response was, “yeah…I love books!” The librarian laughed and asked her, “are you going to sign up for our summer reading program?” Kayla happily responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!” The librarian said “great,” and provided me with some information on the program.

It had crossed my mind in the past that I should sign her up for one of the summer reading programs, but I wasn’t sure what was required and how old you have to be to participate. Although I worked at a local library in the children’s section when I was a teenager, I couldn’t remember all the rules and requirements. It was nice to find out that these reading programs through the libraries start from birth. You can have your child participate at any age. And most of the libraries either allow you to set your own reading goals for the summer, or they set a very low goal for young children. They make it very easy for even busy parents to be able to help their children accomplish their goals.

After some thought and research, I ended up deciding to sign Kayla up for several summer reading programs at different libraries. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been to three different libraries on six different days. The more I thought about it, I figured why not sign up for programs at a few libraries and use the books we check out from each library for their particular program. Each library will be hosting their own summer events to get the kids involved at the library, and they are offering different prizes and incentives. The first program we signed up for gave out “Dig into Reading” t-shirts to the first few hundred people. Kayla also got to color a few pictures, put her name on them, and have them hung up in the library. She was so proud. The library staff convinced me to sign up for the adult summer reading program, and I received a convenient re-usable library bag. Sure, I already carry a few re-usable bags in my purse for carrying library books, etc., but it was still nice to get one that has a picture of someone reading a book on the front.

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My husband, who isn’t a reader, has always been surprised by Kayla’s love of books. I think he was downright shocked when I told him the other day about how I asked Kayla where she wanted to go (when we were leaving the house), and her response was, “to the library…to get books and see kids.” He doesn’t really understand it, but he does encourage it.

I personally enjoy our time reading together each day. It is such a great way for Kayla and I to bond on a daily basis. I love to see her eyes light up when we read a book that she likes. There is nothing like having her snuggled next to me in bed (or on the couch) while we read a book that warms the heart, makes us laugh, or starts a conversation. One of my new favorite things is when Kayla wants to “read” to me. She will go page by page telling me a story based on the pictures, or what she remembers from the book. Sometimes, she even has parts of books memorized. It brings a smile to my face every time. She is already showing several signs of being ready to start learning how to read. I can only imagine how her love of books will grow even more when she is able to read to herself. But even then, I will look forward to our daily time spent together reading.

Please, if you are looking for something for your kids to do this summer, consider signing them up for a summer reading program. It’s worth it.

After storytime last fall.

After storytime last fall.

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May is gone already?!!

I can’t believe over a month has gone by since my last post. It feels like I was just typing up that post and uploading pictures. It’s amazing how fast time goes by. In the past few weeks, Kayla and I have finished up our soccer class, gone to the library a few times, started a few early reading programs, worked on our garden, went to see Sesame Street Live on Mother’s Day, and gone to the zoo for the first time in 2013. Oh, and my older nephew graduated from high school. It’s been a busy month. And that is just the major things we’ve done.

I won’t go into tons of details about the things we’ve done. I’ll just put up some pictures and let you see for yourself. It’s been a great 5 weeks. Happy Spring!

Kayla got a certificate for completing her soccer class.  She was very proud of herself.

Kayla got a certificate for completing her soccer class. She was very proud of herself.

Playing at the library.

Playing at the library.

Kayla's garden bed.  When we first started planting it.

Kayla’s garden bed.

Mommy's garden bed.  Before we added more.

Mommy’s garden bed.

Sesame Street Live show

Sesame Street Live show

Kayla watching the Sesame Street Live show.

Kayla watching the Sesame Street Live show.

Art project Kayla made for grandma for Mother's Day.

Art project Kayla made for grandma for Mother’s Day.

My nephew after his high school graduation.

My nephew after his high school graduation.

Art project Kayla made as a present to her cousin for graduation.

Art project Kayla made as a present to her cousin for graduation.

Kayla and daddy watching the polar bear at the zoo.

Kayla and daddy watching the polar bear at the zoo.

Smelling our flowers we bought.

Smelling our flowers we bought.

Using chalk to learn.

Using chalk to learn.

Riding around in her new jeep that daddy bought for her.

Riding around in her new jeep that daddy bought for her.

Having fun playing with play-doh.

Having fun playing with play-doh.

Using her own little stand mixer to make brownies.  Yes, it really works.

Using her own little stand mixer to make brownies. Yes, it really works.

Kayla in the foam pit at gymnastics.

Kayla in the foam pit at gymnastics.

Rock climbing at gymnastics.

Rock climbing at gymnastics.

Jumping from color to color (while naming the colors) at gymnastics.

Jumping from color to color (while naming the colors) at gymnastics.

Walking up the wall with her feet.  She's getting good at this.

Walking up the wall with her feet. She’s getting good at this.

Swinging on the rings with her coaches help.

Swinging on the rings with her coaches help.

She found a stuffed dog on one of the obstacle courses.

She found a stuffed dog on one of the obstacle courses.

Naming the colors of the balls for her gymnastics coach.

Naming the colors of the balls for her gymnastics coach.

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Just another day in our world

Fall is definitely on it’s way here.  The high today was only 60 degrees.  In comparison to all the 90 degree days we’ve had this year, it felt extra chilly out.  I’m not complaining though.  I was happy to wear a long sleeve shirt and jeans for a change.  I’m getting sick of my summer clothes.

Kayla looking through a book at the library today. I love this picture with the way the light is coming through the window.

Kayla and I started off our day by going to Storytime.  We sang songs, listened to stories, and learned a few new signs (sign language).  We hung around the library for awhile so Kayla could play with the other kids and I could talk to the other mommies.  We picked some books to check out, then headed home.  When get got home, my nephew was being dropped off, so Kayla was pretty excited.  I let the kids play for awhile before having Kayla sit down for lunch.  (My nephew ate before he came over.)  They made a huge mess in the living room while playing with various toys and looking at books.  They watched a few educational shows on TV.  Well…they watched here and there while they were playing.  I was able to make a quick trip to the store to buy some organizational storage supplies while my mom watched the kids.  And a little after I got home, it was nap time.

Kayla at the library after storytime.

After their naps, they sat down at their little table for juice and a snack.  They watched something on PBS while snacking.  I was able to get dinner in the oven, which made me happy.  I hate having to rush around at dinnertime trying to figure out what we’re going to eat.  I prefer having a set dinner planned.  Once they were done with their snack, I got out the new animal finger crayons I bought and some coloring books.  They were excited to see the new crayons.  Every crayon has a different animal face on it.  The crayons are easy for toddlers to grip, and they also have a hole in the bottom so the kids can put them on their fingers.  It probably sounds a little weird, but believe me, they are cool crayons.  They colored and played with the crayons until my husband got home.  Then once my husband was home, he entertained them while I finished getting dinner ready.

Kayla and Alex using the new animal crayons I bought them.

My sister picked up my nephew around 6:30 p.m.  Kayla, my husband, and I sat down for dinner.  In reality, Kayla and I sat down, and my husband ate standing up.  Don’t ask.  He seems to like standing up while he eats.  He does it all the time.  Now that we have an island in the kitchen, he does it even more.  I made a pork roast and roasted potatoes with onions and peppers.  Kayla’s favorite part of dinner was her strawberry banana yogurt.  Apparently, she wasn’t in the mood for pork and potatoes tonight.  Go figure.  She wasn’t a happy camper when I told her she couldn’t have a cookie since she mostly played with her dinner.  She’s used to getting some type of dessert after dinner.

Kayla was a mess from eating her yogurt.  She had yogurt all over her face, hands, and in her hair.  She managed to get yogurt all over her clothes, as well.  I gave her a bath, got her in her pajamas, and gave her some milk to drink.  For some reason, she decided to pour her milk on top of her head.  Sigh…  I ended up having to re-wash her hair, after taking the milk away from her.  We played with her dolls until my husband came up to take over.  Pretty much every night, he spends about an hour or so with her by himself so they can have some bonding time, and I get to have some “me” time.  They play together, then clean up the living room.  I go into the bedroom and do whatever I want/need to do.  I may watch TV, read a book, workout, take a shower, clean the bathroom or the bedroom, check my email, make a phone call, put laundry away, etc.  I may even just close my eyes and rest for awhile.  It is pretty much the only time of the day that I have all to myself.  I don’t have to deal with my husband, Kayla, my mom, or the three dogs.  (My mom lives with us.  She works nights.)  I get to lock myself in the bedroom and take some much needed “me” time.  I am not someone who needs a ton of time to myself.  I don’t have any strong desire to go have girls days/nights out.  I don’t like going to the gym to workout, when I can do it in my own home.  I usually take Kayla with me when I go shopping, run errands, go out with friends, etc.  But every night, I enjoy having an hour to myself.  I think we all need some time to reflect and to take care of ourselves.  I love being a mom, and I love being surrounded by my family, but I also enjoy watching my favorite shows in peace and quiet.  That’s the beauty of the DVR.  I can wait to watch my shows when I’m locked away in my room, alone.

Most nights, we sit down and watch some TV together as a family.  It’s usually something on Netflix, unless we have a new show on the DVR to watch.  Lately, we’ve been too tired to do this much.  We’ve been doing most of our TV time over the weekend, and heading to bed earlier during the week.

At bedtime, I read Kayla all the books we got from the library today.  There were 13 books total.  She played with her little interactive monkey that she can dress and it plays songs.  We did some flash cards where she named the animals on the cards.  Then I let her go on abcmouse.com.  She fell asleep during one of the books on the website.  The website is nice because it reads the books to the kids.  She was curled up next to me with her head on my stomach, and I could feel her starting to nod off.  Some nights she falls to sleep during our bedtime routines, and other nights she is wide awake until I turn everything off for the night and tell her it’s time to go night-night.  She’s usually pretty good about going to sleep.  Now that she’s asleep for the night, I get to stay up way later than I should trying to look things up on the internet, read blogs, and write my own blog posts.  I get to check my bank balance, make sure all bills are paid, and respond to emails.  And I may even get to read a book before I get overly sleepy.  I love these late night hours when the whole house is quiet and I get to be up all by myself.  It’s peaceful.  This is the time of day that I think about how lucky I am to be home with my daughter all day.  I am lucky to have this opportunity to teach her myself, and not miss out on anything with her.  I get to see how she changes from day to day, week to week, and month to month.  I get to be the person who knows her better than anyone else.  Even though there are days when she drives me nuts with her crazy toddler tantrums and her constant squealing, I love every single second I spend with her.  I wouldn’t trade this for the world.  I love motherhood.

On that note, I’m going to end this blog post and try to decide which book I’m going to read tonight.  I’m in the middle of a dystopian novel, but I just received some new books on homeschooling via UPS today, so I am leaning toward reading one of them.  Decisions, decisions.

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Checking out storytime at your local library…and then checking out a few books

Kayla looking through a book at the library after storytime.

I’ve been taking my daughter around to some of the storytimes at local libraries.  They’re all slightly different, but have the same foundation.  They sing toddler friendly songs, and the librarian will read a few books.  Some may do other activities like craft projects, dancing, letting kids look at books, and free play.

So far, Kayla loves going to storytime.  She laughs, looks at the other kids, claps her hands, and tries to do a few of the hand movements with the songs.  She’ll be 22 months old this week, so I think she’s doing pretty good for a kid who just started going.  She’s used to mostly being around kids in our family.  She has one young cousin on my side of a family, and a bunch of young cousins on my husband’s side of the family.  This is the first time she’s been to programs with other little kids around her age.

After storytime, we tend to hang out at the library for awhile.  I let her pick out books and investigate the kid’s area.  The first time we went to storytime, she only wanted to look at books.  She didn’t want to play with the toys or play with the other kids.  Her main focus was sitting down and looking at books.  (Have I mentioned that she loves books?)  The next time, she was a little more open to interacting with the other kids and playing with the toys.  Whew!  I was happy to see her take some time to play with the other kids before focusing on all the books.  I know she’s excited to see the massive amount of books, but I also want her to socialize with other kids around her age.

We attended storytime today, and we left the library with 11 books.  That was pretty good since if it was up to her, we probably would have taken all of them home.  We currently have a stack of books from two different libraries.  And we may end up with a third stack if we attend another storytime this week at a different library.  I am a book lover myself, so I completely understand my daughter’s obsession with books.  What’s not to love?

If you haven’t taken your child to storytime, this is definitely something you should put on your list of things to do.  It is a great way to introduce your child to the library, and a great bonding experience for parent and child.  But make sure you are prepared to join in.  You must have a willingness to sing songs with the storytime group.  Don’t worry though…no one seems to be great singers.  We’re all just there to have fun with our kids.

Do you take your kids to storytime at your local library?  What’s your favorite storytime activity?  What types of things do you think could be added to storytime to make it more fun for young kids? 

How do you feel about storytime play groups set up by parents?  A storytime play group would be arranged by parents, where they can get their kids together one day each week/month to read books, sing songs, do crafts, and play together.  The storytime play group can be at a different house each time, or hosted at a local meeting room.  This is something I have considered starting in my area with other moms with young kids.  Tell me what you think of this type of play group?  Is it something you’d consider doing?

 

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