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Sunday, October 27, 2013

THANK YOU

This past Tuesday I was fortunate to facilitate a parent literacy night at my local book store.  I would like to thank Well Read (http://www.thewellreadbookstore.com/)  for their graciousness in hosting our group.  Our local bookstore consistently provides our community with dynamic events for the whole family so I felt lucky to be part of their lineup!  I would also like to thank the parents and educators that came out on a busy night to share ideas to benefit our children's love of reading and life long learning.  

We had a great discussion about the kinds of things families could do at a variety of age levels to inspire a love of reading.  At a deeper level we discussed the difference of learning for the classroom and learning for the pure joy of discovery.  Our discussion brought up what is sure to be many future posts.  In fact there were so many books that were shared that I am updating my list of favorites to highlight as great family reads- stay tuned!!

On this beautiful Sunday afternoon, I want to touch upon just one of the points that was brought up.  Reading aloud and what literacy means in general can come in many shapes and sizes.  At the core, we all agreed that our children benefit most when reading and learning is authentic and appropriate.  This means not forcing fake "assignments" on our kids but at the same time using their natural curiosity to drive "teachable moments."  This weekend we all agreed that we would be on the lookout for those joyous moments where literacy might mean silly songs as we take a Sunday afternoon drive, talking about our day over hot chocolate, or cuddling up to a good book at bedtime.  

RAISE THE FLF:  At FLF the goal is to take a moment and stretch it to really learn as a family- learning about each other and learning about the world THROUGH each other.  When running errands or trying one of the many fall activities in the area don't forget to debrief as a family at some point.  TALK to one another about your opinions.  Agree- or better yet disagree on your experiences.  Through this talking your child will get a chance to see how we all can look at the same experiences differently.  They will be enriched by the language of expression and best of all you will learn something about each other.  Now don't get me wrong I'm a teacher and I know Sunday night often feels like "last chance Sally" to get our stuff together before a busy week.  I am in the midst of that myself.  However, when possible it is so important to model for our children the rich conversational skills that take our random moments and turn them into deeper family moments of learning.  Yes even picking out your produce at the supermarket can lead to a relevant conversation with our kids- how DID we decide which fruit and veggies to get for the week? Or what exactly can we DO with the hundreds of apples we picked since baking would be cruel and unjust punishment for this yummy fruit at mommy's hands?! There should seriously be an apple exchange program where we pick apples and then turn them into local bakers for seriously delicious pies! Sure these ideas seem obvious but it is so easy to forget to TALK about our day with one another.  Happy weekend. :D

Sunday, October 20, 2013

REPOST: WELL READ EVENT

As many of you know I am a mommy, auntie, and teacher trying to balance my best ideas with a busy reality.  As such, I love to share and collect ideas to help our kids become life long learners.  Therefore, I'm super excited to host a family literacy night at my hometown bookstore- Well Read in Hawthorne,  NJ.  I am so proud to be part of their line up as this book store has really enhanced our town with all kinds of local events.  I hope that anyone of you that are in the area can come out and join me.  My goal with this workshop is to share ideas with parents about how to nurture our children's interest in reading and writing.  There are lots of fun activities I'd like to share about things we can do at home to support their literacy development.  To keep our night focused we will concentrate on kids birth to age 11.  However, you can stretch some of these ideas beyond!  I want this night to be fun and interactive so bring your questions, concerns, or best ideas.  We will meet at Well Read (425 Lafayette Ave. Hawthorne, NJ) at 7:30pm. Let me know in the comment section (or email me at familylearningfactor@gmail.com) if you can come.  Really hope to see you there!!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Getting Real - Tech Time

So when I first got pregnant I envisioned all kinds of parenting "rules" I would follow.  Then I had a baby and realized the only rule was try your best - and survive! One of the rules I thought I would follow was no TV until Gabriel was 3.  I don't judge anyone who chooses to let their child watch TV but I envisioned this serene world of imagination being nurtured without interruption from the effects of TV.  Yeah well below is a picture of Gabriel at month 8 when he started to refuse to "eat" (remind me to tell you of my rocky relationship with breast feeding one day).  

Yup, our rule went right out the window when we discovered that 10 mins 14 secs of Baby Einstein would equal peace of mind that Gabriel was getting his nutrition and well frankly we were getting a little quiet time!  Since then I've been justifying Gabriel's viewing choices by trying to balance the reality of survival with my desire to limit his TV time.  Everyone's line and balance is different and I truly think there is not 1 right answer or way.  For me, I prefer apps and Internet clips because I think it is easier to be mobile and to control the length of time.  Though trust me Gabriel has been introduced already to the wonder of TV- sometimes mommy needs a minute! Anyhow I thought it might be nice to share some of the tech that we find helpful. 

For me, I have a few go-to apps that I think are purposeful, easy, and can mold to a variety of ages.  Although You Tube is not an "educational" app, I love searching for short clips that fit the child I'm with at the moment.  For my son, I feel good showing him some of the Baby Einstein clips that support his language development.  In particular, I like playing some of the clips in Spanish since I am trying to raise him bilingual. It helps to support the things we are doing at home, plus calms him at particularly cranky times.  Often 10 mins is all he needs.  I also enjoy an app called "DoodleBuddy."  This is a free draw and paint app that can be used for a variety of purposes.  Kids love to free doodle, use the stamps, and change the backgrounds.  It can be a loose free play for them or we can practice more specific skills like letter formation, drawing shapes, or following directions.  Another app I have been enjoying recently is called "MeeGenius."  You can download the app for free.  The site will send you the link to a free book after you sign up for an account.  Later you can purchase other books if you'd like.  This is a great apps that reads books aloud to your children but also tracks the words in yellow as it reads them the words, helping to develop your child's understanding of print concepts.  As always, technology should always be closely monitored and all things should be done in moderation.  But, as I have been learning, there are times we just need help in keeping our kids entertained! Why not find things we feel good about?! What apps/web sites do you enjoy using with your family?

Raise the FLF:  You know what my son loves in particular? My camera! He loves looking through the pictures on my phone and rewatching the videos that always seem to linger there.  Maybe it is because the pictures and videos are often of the people he recognizes in his world (our closest family and friends).  Looking through these pictures and watching these videos hold his attention better than most other things and allow us to support his vocabulary growth with people and objects that he instantly recognizes.  His smile is gigantic when he sees himself dancing in our living room holding his beloved ball with grandma and grandpa shouting "goal, goal, goal!"  It also gives another use to the hundreds of pictures and videos we take- they become an instant tutor of language and a way to relive our favorite memories.  You can use this with older children as well.  They love looking through these special times and can even be in charge of labeling the occasion or retelling how they felt at that moment thus accessing important retelling and communication skills that will be really helpful to their academic growth.  Older children can even take it further by using these pictures and videos to export into an iMovie or garage band app and really develop special memories in an imaginative way.  My oldest nephew loves to do this.  To him he is having silly fun but he is also developing important higher order thinking skills.  Let's put all those pictures we take to work for us in a variety of ways.  Then we don't have to feel bad that we never print them or put them into that fantasy scrap book we plan on making one day!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Well Read Parent Workshop

As many of you know I am a mommy, auntie, and teacher trying to balance my best ideas with a busy reality.  As such, I love to share and collect ideas to help our kids become life long learners.  Therefore, I'm super excited to host a family literacy night at my hometown bookstore- Well Read in Hawthorne,  NJ.  I am so proud to be part of their line up as this book store has really enhanced our town with all kinds of local events.  I hope that anyone of you that are in the area can come out and join me.  My goal with this workshop is to share ideas with parents about how to nurture our children's interest in reading and writing.  There are lots of fun activities I'd like to share about things we can do at home to support their literacy development.  To keep our night focused we will concentrate on kids birth to age 11.  However, you can stretch some of these ideas beyond!  I want this night to be fun and interactive so bring your questions, concerns, or best ideas.  We will meet at Well Read (425 Lafayette Ave. Hawthorne, NJ) at 7:30pm. Let me know in the comment section (or email me at familylearningfactor@gmail.com) if you can come.  Really hope to see you there!!!