We're in the middle of "Half Time" right now in school, meaning we only do half the work. It's not a full break, more like a "slow down" time. So I've taken the opportunity to teach the kids some new things, mainly: manners.
We've been watching one lesson each day from this Table Manners & Table Etiquette DVD I found at the library:
The first day we watched it, we learned in just 5 minutes what each piece of silverware is for in a table setting like this:
Who knew it was so stinking easy?
The next day, we made a three course dinner so we could practice our table manners and the table settings we had learned previously. I was so impressed with how quickly the kids picked it all up. Isaac and Daniel both pulled out their sister's chair before sitting down themselves, they wiped their mouths the proper way with their napkins, they scooped the soup the correct way from the bowl, etc. AND it was all fun to learn! (Especially since each day's lesson was only a few minutes long. ;) )
I'm going to revert back to my Speech Pathologist days for this post, since these are the skills I still love using, with my own babes.
When your baby coos, you have the perfect opportunity to teach them how to carry on a conversation. When baby says "nnn-guh", which is one of her first words, you repeat it. Just once, then wait. She'll inevitably say it again. Then you can repeat it again. That's practicing conversational turn-taking.
Then when your baby becomes a toddler and starts using a couple words, you teach her how to stretch those words into sentences, like this:
She says "Ducky!"
You say: "Ducky! Yellow ducky!" (Or big ducky, or loud ducky, or whatever. You just add one word to it.)
You keep doing this, adding a word or two or three to what she says. And this is key:
You ALWAYS repeat what she says correctly.
Yes, I know it's adorable that she calls her blankey "panky", but you're her model, so you have to say it correctly.
She says "Tup, tup!"
You say "You want your cup? Here's your cup! Here's your pink cup."
Try it. You'll have a verbose toddler before you know it.
Now that Daniel and Lydia are schooling, I get to re-read all the wonderful books I read to my big kids some years ago. I'm having so much fun strolling down this literary memory lane!
For nature study, we're reading The Burgess Bird Book for Children.
Are you familiar with Thornton Burgess? Oh you simply must get to know him! He knows all there is to know about animals (he also wrote The Burgess Animal Book for Children, and The Burgess Seashore Book for Children) and he's a great storyteller. These are no boring field books, oh no! They are story books! What more interesting way could there be to learn about animals?!
So, we read about Jenny Wren's house being taken over by Bully the Sparrow (Boy was she mad! But really, what did she expect? You just can't take off for six months and think your house will still be unoccupied when you get back!) and we're learning about their habitats, their appearance, their personality, and their diets.
While I read about the Sparrow, for instance, I have a picture of a sparrow pulled up on the computer for the kids to draw and color.
Then we jump over to this website and listen to the bird songs. This has been an extra dose of fun that I didn't do with the big kids. I hit play on the bird song and suddenly we realize that we are greeted with wrens every morning and just didn't know it!
I've been reading several "how to parent teens" books lately and I've noticed something. At least 90% of the typical teen issues are school induced. Most, if not all, of the insecurities surrounding the teen years are caused by peer pressure. I was reading about how your six-year-old will hold your hand when you go places together, but your 9 and 10-year-old definitely won't. Um, mine do. My 12-year-old still holds my hand when we go places together. Nobody's telling her to be embarrassed by mom.
My 14-year-old doesn't come sobbing to me about every new pimple. Nobody's making fun of her pimples or making her feel ugly because she has a little bump on her nose.
Now I understand why all the homeschool moms of teens brag about how great the teen years are! I get it! They're maturing and you can talk to them like adults. It really is great!
I must say, however, there is one "how to parent preteens" book that I am absolutely loving. And despite what you might think of the authors of Babywise, I strongly encourage all moms of 8-12 year-olds to check this book out:
It teaches you how preteens think (or don't! lol), how they're changing and maturing, and how you can move them from obedience to responsibility. In other words, how to teach your child to think for himself. (If you're anything like me, you've been dying to know how to do this!)