Friday, July 3, 2015

June Parent/Child Date Accountability Report

You might remember from May's report that things were so crazy-busy that Nate was unable to get Brayden and Kaitlyn done. That left him with all four kids this month. I am happy to report that he did it! I had Brayden and Kaitlyn this month.

Brayden (age 10)
Brayden has this favorite restaurant called Pizza Pie Cafe. No offense to them or anything, but...I can't do it! It just grosses me out. I am not a huge pizza fan and all you can eat thanks. Brayden loves the place, and Nate does too, so they went to Pizza Pie Cafe after a long Saturday of yard work and had a great time. I love how so many of Brayden's dates center around food.

For my date with Brayden, we went miniature golfing. Brayden loves (and is very good at) golf. He hasn't been miniature golfing for 2-3 years. So wen went. He totally expected to stomp me...but he didn't. I am usually pretty good at mini golf (I was 2 under par). He wasn't only a few over par, but he wasn't too happy about losing to me. It was a good learning experience overall and I in the end he enjoyed it. We started with a buy one get one free and they gave us free Popsicles at the end, so it was an inexpensive date. They also gave us a coupon for another buy one get one free game.

Kaitlyn (age 8)
Kaitlyn thought miniature golf sounded fun, so Nate took her. He used the coupon I got from my game with Brayden and they got free Popsicles also. It was her first time ever doing mini golf. She did quite well and even beat Nate on a couple of holes! 

Summer is a great time for dates because there are so many fun things going on that you can go to. One fun thing around here is rodeos. Kaitlyn loves horses. She loves Western life. She loves the country. She loves cowboy life. And so, she loves rodeos. The last time we took the family to the rodeo, it wasn't a very pleasant experience. I obviously have not trained my children well in the art of "sucking it up" when you are board and hot. I also have not trained them well for rodeos. When I was growing up, my mom took us to a lot of rodeos (she is a cowgirl herself). I remember curling up and sleeping on the bleachers many-a-time. Anyway, Nate didn't love our last rodeo experience, so I thought I would make it a date. Kaitlyn loved it. It was the perfect date for her. 

McKenna (age 6)
McKenna was with Nate this month. For their last date, they went roller blading at an indoor arena. We thought it would be fun for her to do some outdoor roller blading, so Nate took her to our local dam. There is a nice paved path around the dam and they roller bladed around it. Then they went out for ice cream cones. McKenna had a lot of fun. Even though they went roller blading so recently, we wanted to make sure they did this date while the weather was guaranteed to be good. 

Brinley (age 2)
Nate was with Brinley this month. What did this girl want to do? Feed the ducks at the duck pond. She is seriously obsessed. She talked about it for days. She was as excited as she ever gets. It definitely highlights something important about toddlers. They love repetition. They do not care about new and big ideas. They like to relive something they love over and over until it loses its novelty. When you are doing dates with your toddler, she might prefer doing the same thing every time. 

We are enjoying our dates. I really like that we are able to do things that are of specific interest to each child. With a relatively large family, to do something like the rodeo can be expensive, but for two of us, it wasn't bad. Then we do something else with just two, and it isn't bad. The children are able to pursue their unique interests and it all fits in the budget. That is just a monetary perk of the date thing. 

You can always see all of our dates starting last January on the "Dates" tab linked above.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Surviving Flying with Children

Flying with children can be nerve-wracking. Children are unpredictable. You never know if they are going to have an off day and if they will essentially freak out or have some sort of melt down. That is a big enough concern for a road trip. Add to that a vehicle full of strangers and no control over the stops seems stressful. So how to people survive flying with children?

  • Rachel said: My number one tip: Don't do it wink emoticon hehe.
  • Harmony said: Remember that it's one day and you'll never see those people again
Toys and Snacks
When I was about five, we flew from Utah to Michigan. The only real memory I have from the entire trip is getting new toys on the plane. Really!
  • Kate said: Bring a couple new toys/books, lovies, etc. nothing too large since that takes up space.
  • Katrina said: A few weeks leading up to the trip, put away some of your child's favorite plane-friendly toys. Then when you're flying it's kind of like having new toys becaues it's been awhile since they've played with them. And snacks. Loooooots of snacks.
  • Julie said: We went to the dollar store and bought lots of new toys and books for cheap, but the kids thought they were really cool. Also if u end up loosing some it doesn't matter because they were only a dollar. We brought tons of snacks too.
Structured Playtime
  • Julie said:Also when I needed a break I utilized independent playtime by telling my 3 year old that he was having independent playtime in his seat and would have to entertain himself until the playtime timer went off on my phone.
  • Tierney said: Movies for kids old enough to watch them.
  • Elisa said: We survive with iPad shows/movies, headphones and snacks. If your child doesn't watch much TV at home, then this is a treat!
  • Kristi said: After multiple flights with a toddler, I have to say that having a car seat on the plane is easier than without, although it's more of a pain in the airport. Mine napped and behaved much better in the seat, although neither was terrible... Free was just more work (and more difficult naps.) If you fly a lot, I would recommend Go Go Babyz wheels that convert the car seat into a "stroller". It's about a $75 investment, but better than carrying the seat if you will be using it more than once!
  • Allison said: Car seat if you have a way to lug it around.
  • Kate said: Buy each child their own seat and bring their car seat. You most likely need their car seat on the other end anyway and getting their seat checked with the luggage isn't safe (unknown history...people throwing the seat around etc). Kids need to be safe in the air just like in the car. 
  • Kelli said:Also when I needed a break I utilized independent playtime by telling my 3 year old that he was having independent playtime in his seat and would have to entertain himself until the playtime timer went off on my phone
  • Kristi said: Thought of one more thing: If your little has recently been potty-trained (less than 6 months) I couldn't recommend Pull-ups any more highly. We NEVER use them at home, but I learned the hard way that they are a must for flights. We call them travel panties, and my daughter even gets excited about them. We flew 10 hours from Munich to Chicago, and my daughter, who has very few accidents, didn't use the airplane bathroom once. Car seat. Every time. Wouldn't even tell me. We spent lots of time in the bathroom soaking up urine from her pants b/c I hadn't brought even spares. Learn from my mistake. I would recommend them even for shorter trips as you never know when you're going to be stuck in a long line or running between terminals without enough time to use a bathroom. Good luck!
  • Rachel said:  I love flying with babies, but toddlers are so unpredictable. We thought my son (2.5 at the time) would love the plane, but it was pretty disasterous. I guess my biggest tip would be to plan for a long layover if you have connecting flights. We thought we were being smart and so we planned for very short layovers (only enough time to get off plane, potty, and get to next terminal). It was a good idea in theory, because it got us to our destination faster, but our busy toddler boy didn't get enough wiggles out between flights and was really rowdy once we got on the plane. No amount of entertainment could appease him...we tried it all!
  • Allison said: Also, prep you kids in advance. Let them know you are getting on a big plane and then sleeping on it for bedtime/naptime. If you have long layovers, look online at the airport and find out if they have a kid or nursery area.
  • Joyce said: Sweets to suck on during takeoff and landing, so they can equalize the pressure in their ears. For babies, milk is a better choice.
  • Tierney said: walk/crawl up and down the center isle of the plane.
Related Posts/Blog Labels: 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Teaching Children to Care for Possessions

Children can indeed be hard on their things. Some are naturally very careful and take good care of their things while others are naturally very hard on things. I submit, however, that we can teach children of any natural disposition to take care of their possessions. Not only can we, but we should.

Why Teach Them? 
Some of you might be wondering why bother. Some of you might even worry that making the effort to teach this will encourage materialism. On the contrary, caring for possessions can combat materialism and a spoiled view on life. A child who takes care of items has respect for the item. An item that is cared for does not have a need to be replaced constantly. A child who is careful with possessions has a level of respect for money. The child knows that if something is destroyed it will not be immediately replaced (or replaced at all). 

Learning to care for possessions means that your items are taken care of. That means you can use the same items for years to come. It means you are living frugally. That means the money you have can be used for other things, things like savings, family vacations, and serving others. It isn't about being materialistic, but rather about being wise with finances. 

Set the Child Up for Success
If you want your child to successfully take good care of her items, you will be most helpful if the items you choose to have in the home are decent quality items. Providing your child only with flimsy toys will mean the toys will easily break. This will mean your child will not have much faith in caring for toys, nor will she bother trying to take care of the toy. 

You also want to make sure there is a place for childhood admist this effort. Do not make your child afraid of playing with the perfect playdough, writing with the new chalk, or coloring with the new crayons. Allow things to be used as they are meant to be used. 

You will also want to provide some play clothes for the child. Children need to be able to go out and get dirty sometimes. It is okay to have clothes that are nice clothes a to tell your child to absolutely not play in the mud in those clothes. It is a good idea, however, to have some clothes that your child can wear to get completely dirty in. 

Keep An Eye Out
As your children are young, keep an eye on them as they play. When a child is being too rough with a toy, step in and encourage the child to be careful. Explain that doing what the child is doing can break the toy. Encourage a child to play with the toy in an appropriate manner. A well-made toy can handle being played with in its intended way. 

Do not allow your child to intentionally destroy toys. Do not give your child too much unsupervised play time in those young years. Again, let toys be used, but you don't need to let them be destroyed. 

Having structure to your day will help prevent your child from turning to destroying toys for enjoyment (this does happen). If the child doesn't have too much time to figure out how to entertain himself without direction, there is a greater chance he will turn to a scientific game of how much force is required to break something (see Too Many Freedoms)

Have Daily Chores
Having your child work to take care of things around the house will give your child a greater respect for the effort it takes to keep things in order. Your child is less likely to make a huge mess of things if your child understands what it takes to keep things clean. See Getting Children Actively Engaged in Household Responsibilities.

Have Child Help Clean After Self
When a child is done playing, teach your child to help clean things up. Even young toddlers can do this. Give young children one task at a time, "Put the books on the book shelf please." You can choose to clean after each activity or all at once 1-2 times a day (or some other idea altogether). 

Take Things Away if Necessary
There was a period when Kaitlyn (now 8) would rip pages in books at nap and bedtime when she was around 3 years old. When it first happened, we explained that it wasn't okay to do that. When it happened again, we decided it was best to remove any books with paper pages from her room. She was only allowed board books until she was mature enough to treat the books appropriately. 

Have Child Help Replace if Appropriate
If your child breaks, destroys, or loses something, do not be quick to go replace it. It can be a good learning opportunity for the child to either go without the toy (the child will be more careful understanding that the item is gone because it was destroyed and that the things don't just come back magically) or work to replace the item. The child can earn money to replace it or do chores to pay back the damage. 

There will be times things get lost or broken by accident. These are times to have grace and encourage your child to be more careful and responsible in the future. This past spring, one of my girls lost one of her dance shoes. I got her new shoes, but explained that if it happened again, she would need to pay for the new shoes herself. 

If a child destroys the property of others, absolutely have the child work to replace that item

Don't Get Children All They Want
If a child has all she wants, she will be less careful with what she has. Do not spoil the child. Let the child spend time and effort saving up money to buy things herself. Brayden, age 10, loves Legos more than any other toy. He recently told me that he finds he likes the Lego sets he buys himself more than Lego sets he gets as gifts. He has more of an appreciation for the things he has saved for and worked for, which means he is more careful for those things. He understands their monetary value and will be respectful of what that means. 

See Also: 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

McKenna Child Summary {6.25 Years Old}

This is a summary for McKenna from 6-6.25 years old. 

Things are still going well here. I have noticed that McKenna doesn't like sweets that much. When we give her dessert, she will eat some but rarely finishes it all. It is very interesting seeing the natural differences in my children. I have one who would basically eat only sweets if I let her down to one who wouldn't be upset if I banned sweets from our lives forever. 

Sleep is good. The only sleep-related issue to discuss is that since summer has started (one month out of the three for this period has been summer), I have noticed her obedience levels drop significantly if she doesn't get enough sleep. With enough sleep, she is quite pleasant. Without enough, she will argue a lot of instructions. 

Playing is all good. Nothing of interest to report. She still primarily likes to play with dress up clothes when she plays. 

During this time period, McKenna played soccer and softball. She finished up dance lessons and had a great recital. She is saying she isn't so sure she wants to take dance next year because she can "dance at home." McKenna is super athletic, but not naturally incredibly graceful. She gets hurt a lot through various accidents. So dance would be good for her in that regard. I am not sure what I think about the dance issue.

McKenna still takes gymnastics and LOVES IT. She super loves it. It is without a doubt her favorite thing that she does. That can definitely help teach her body control and some grace. I do worry about hitting it intensely, though. It is fine and dandy once a week, but I don't know about getting involved heavily. I worry about stunting her growth. Anyone have experience in the gymnastics world and have input on that concern?

McKenna is also still taking swimming lessons. Her swim teacher told me the other day that of all of my kids, she loves swimming the most. It is so funny considering the year-long battle we had with her in the pool (which in retrospect I think was caused by ear tubes). She is doing well and passing things off quickly. She just started learning her butterfly stroke and is quite good at it. 

She finished up piano and did super well at her piano recital. She took on a song that was a little harder than her piano level and she practiced hard and nailed it. 

At her last soccer game, McKenna was running along, then stepped into a hole in the ground (why was there a hole on the field?!?) and sprained her ankle. This was a week before her dance recital.

I have a good friend who is a physical therapist. She checked McKenna out. She had a minor tear. She said that research is finding to let children self-regulate. I did keep her from gymnastics for two weeks. We kept her foot wrapped up for about 5 days. I did IB Profen for two days and iced it as much as possible for two days. I let her self-regulate, but there were times I let her "self-regulate" by putting a movie on, propping her foot up, and icing it. The day after she sprained it, she was doing monkey bars and jumping down from she isn't the best self-regulator.

Just when her ankle swelling was pretty much down and she seemed okay, she was jumping on our trampoline with balls, landed on a ball, and re-rolled the ankle (yeah). She tried to tell me it didn't hurt and tried her best to walk normally without a limp, but I could see in her eyes she was hurting. We had a movie day with ice the rest of that day. We also have a new rule that McKenna cannot jump with balls on the trampoline. She seems to be totally fine at this point--it has been about 5 weeks. 

I really hope this is a phase. Nurture Shock talks about it being a developmental milestone. I remember Kaitlyn having an issue with being honest around this age. McKenna will often lie to me. "Did you brush your teeth?" "Yes." But luckily she isn't usually a good liar--she gets a deer in the headlights look on her face. 

One day, I noticed a little lock of her hair was cut. I asked her who cut her hair (I am careful to not ask questions I know the answer to--it had obviously been cut. With a child who lies, you don't want to set them up for failure). She told me one of her best friends and our neighbor had done it. I spent the day asking her about the story and how it all went down. Then I let us both sleep on it.

I wasn't convinced, but she didn't look like she was lying, either. 

The next morning, I told her that I was going to talk to her friend's mom about the hair cutting and that her friend would get in trouble. Did she still stick by her same story? Yes she did. I figured if she were willing for me to take it to that level, she was being honest. 

I talked to the mom. She talked to her daughter, who insisted that she hadn't cut it, but that McKenna had cut it. She said McKenna had gotten gum stuck in her hair and cut it out. My friend and neighbor said her girl isn't always the most honest, either, so we weren't sure who was telling the truth.

I went to McKenna and told her the friend's story. At that point, McKenna conceded and said her friend was telling the truth. It was not exciting to me that McKenna had improved in her lying skills (though she isn't improved across the board). 

I talked with McKenna about how what she did was not okay and how it had hurt several people. I told her it was unkind to let her friend get in trouble for something she had done. We went to her friend and McKenna apologized and asked for forgiveness, then I had McKenna apologize to the mother and ask for her forgiveness, as well. 

Since that day, she has definitely improved in her honesty, although she does still lie at times. McKenna definitely is a perfectionist and wants to never make a mistake. Her lies are often to cover up mistakes. Sometimes they are simply to move on to playing sooner (like with teeth brushing). 

Here is our typical schedule. I will put the school schedule here since she was in school for most of this period. 

7:00 AM--wake up. Eat breakfast. Get ready. Do morning chores. Read scriptures. 
Then free play.
12:00 noon--lunch
Then free play.
1:30 PM--SSR
2:00 PM--IPT 
3:00 PM--free play
5:30 PM--Dinner. Then time with family.
7:00 PM Start getting ready for bed.
8:00 PM--in bed 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Forgive Yourself

image source

If you are a reader of this blog, I think I can safely assume that you are a parent who is actively invested in trying to do everything "right"--right according to your own judgement and discernment. Of course, we often are faced with situations as parents where we don't necessasrily know what "right" is in the context of our situation. We have to make a judgement call in the moment.

Because we are humans, there will invariably be times when we make the wrong call. In our 20/20 hindsight we look back and see the choice we made was not the "right" one. We should have acted differently in the situation. We should have chosen a different consequence. We should have responded a different way. We made a mistake.

This retrospective analyzing happens quite often as parents, and I find for myself it happens most often with my oldest child, Brayden. With him, I am always a first time parent. I am always facing situations for the first time with him. Because of this, I make the most mistakes with him. I have the most "ooopps--that wasn't the best option" moments. I think we all know what those moments are like. 

And this leads me to the message of my post. Forgive yourself. Yes, you make mistakes. You need to move past them. Learn what you can, apologize if needed (it isn't always), forgive yourself, and put it behind you. Don't stress about it! Children are resilient. Children are incredibly forgiving. Children can and will survive the many mistakes we make as parents (now, this is of course referring to normal, everyday mistakes parents make, not serious actions). 

Don't let fear of mistakes paralyze you. Do what you think is best at the moment. If you find that wasn't best, learn from it and tweak your strategy in for the next time. When you make a mistake, it isn't as though you are thinking to yourself, "Ha ha! I am going to do XYZ because that will really take things in the wrong direction!" No! You are thinking, "I am going to do XYZ because I think that is best for my child." If you find it wasn't, offer yourself grace and take the lesson learned, act on it, and move forward. Your child will learn from your mistakes as well--it is a great gift for your child to see that you are not perfect and that mistakes are a normal part of life. Your children will forgive you, and you should, too.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Drowning Information {Keep Kids Safe this Summer}

One day last month, I read an article on How to Save Your Kid from Drowning. It was very interesting. The signs of a drowning person are not what you think it will be. Rather than flailing around, the person basically holds very still. The statistics are staggering; about half of the children who drown each year do so within 25 yards of their parents or another adult. If you do not know what drowning actually looks like, you definitely need to read the article above.

1-2 weeks after I shared this article on the Chronicles Facebook page, we were at swimming lessons. I sat watching my children and the other children goof around in the pool. Suddenly our teacher swam a mad dash to a boy who looked to be between the ages of Brayden (10) and Kaitlyn (8). She pulled him from the pool as the lifeguard got to the edge.

I asked her if he had been drowning, and she confirmed that yes he had. I was looking around and didn't notice it was happening even after I had just read the article. I would hope that if it had been my child and I knew the child's normal behavior that I would recognize it for what it is.

There are two other types of drowning that you will want to be aware of. They are dry drowning and secondary drowning. These both can happen when the child is not in even in the water. They are both rare, but do both happen. It can happen one hour or 24 hours later. You can read more at Dry Drowning: Know the Signs and Dry Drowning and Secondary Drowning.

I don't share these things to spread fear or make you paranoid, but to make you aware. It is good practice to have your children close to you if they are unable to swim the length of the pool alone. Do not think a flotation device will be a perfection protection. After you go swimming, watch for unusual behavior. Keep your kids safe this summer. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

How Parents Can Help with Swimming Lessons

As parents, we want our child to succeed in life. We also want to help in any way we can with different processes in our children's lives. We don't, however, always know the best things to do to actually be helpful. I think this is especially true for swimming lessons. 

Get Your Child Used to the Water
Before your child takes swimming lessons, it is very helpful if  you can get your child comfortable in a swimming pool. Do not assume that comfort in a tub will equate to comfort in a pool. The two locations are very different--temperature of water, size of the container, and ability to touch the bottom and sides are just a few examples of extreme differences in the two.

So take your child to the pool at times. 

Once you know the pool you will have lessons at, it would be an excellent idea to take the child there before the first lesson. Your child will likely do better than he would otherwise at his first lesson if the pool is familiar to him.

If your child is not used to the water, do not be surprised or frustrated if your child spends a lot of time crying at lessons initially.

Start Young
We have had the same swim teacher, Hailie, for the last 3.5 years doing private swim lessons. She is also a coach for the swim team and is over the public swim lessons. I asked for her input for this post. Her first piece of advice was to start young. She said, "No matter the child, don't wait past the age of 4." She said she has found that waiting long just leads to an increased fear of the water and that makes it harder for the teacher to break that fear. She also said it is a lot easier to work with a scared 3 year old than a scared 5 or 7 year old.

Find a Good Pool and a Good Teacher
Ask around to find a good program. You will want input from people who have very recently been in lessons--programs can drastically change quickly. We started at a pool where I was not impressed wit the quality of teaching. They also seemed to pass everyone to the next level whether they should be or not and grouped children based on age, not on ability. I get that kids have fun with peers, but it isn't doing the children favors so far as really learning to swim.

We ended up moving pools and finding a private teacher. I have loved that!

Hailie said that no matter where you are, if the public swim classes have more than 6 kids to a class it is not worth it. That will not give your child enough instruction time. She also pointed out that a lot of public swim teachers are inexperienced, so you want to be sure there is a supervisor walking around and helping teachers. "If you can't identify a clear supervisor, the lesson program is no good" Hailie told me.  

Ask and Tell
I think there are things we parents really prepare our children for. Take the dentist. We know that the dentist can be scary. We talk to our children about the dentist and practice at home. Another example is potty training. We get potty books, watch potty videos, and talk about it with our child before diving into the training process. With swimming, however, we often just take the child to the pool and expect the child to embrace learning to swim. 

Learning to swim is at least as scary as the dentist. It is also a lot more challenging than learning to change from peeing and pooping in a diaper to doing it in a toilet. I am not taking anything away from the difficulty of potty training--it is often a difficult process. But it is a natural process. Learning to swim is usually not natural for a child. 

So spend some time mentally preparing your child for swimming lessons. If you don't know, find out what the child will learn to do at first. Explain it to your child. Talk about what will happen and what it will be like. Be honest. Tell your child it might be hard and maybe even seem scary, but that you know your child can succeed if she tries. Talk about how it will be so exciting to learn to swim. Be honest and say it will be hard work. Tell her that the teacher will be very nice and that she can trust this stranger who is going to ask her to put her face in the water. Talk about how fun it will be to get in the pool more often.

Tell your child what you expect of your child. "You are not allowed to tell the teacher no. You need to obey the teacher just like you need to obey Mommy." Also talk consequences for failure to follow through with consequences.

Finally, be sure you child knows that all you want is for your child to try her best. You don't care how fast she learns or picks up on it all, just that she is trying. Children have very different rates of progress through swimming. Some are more natural than others. Some often have trouble staying buoyant when young due to lower body fat content. Some can't progress quickly until their body proportions reach a certain place. Be satisfied with a best effort. 

Now, you know your child best. If you feel like there are things you shouldn't discuss unless necessary, go with your gut. For example, some children might not even think that swimming could be considered scary until you said, "It might be scary." With children like that, you wouldn't want to tell your child she might be scared. Consider what you think your child needs to hear before the first lesson to be successful and go with that. 

Be Patient Through Process
All children are very different in the process of learning to swim. Brayden (now 10) started out scared. He was very scared, but always did what was asked. As time went on, he slowly got less scared. New skills would make him nervous--like flip turns and dives--but he progressed in a linear way. Today he is on the swim team.

Kaitlyn (now 8) started out with no fear. Then she grew to be scared (thanks to an inexperienced teacher who left Kaitlyn out alone...not great). She then was fine. Then got scared again and declared she would never put her face in the water. Then she was fantastic. Then she got really scared for no known reason. Then she was fine and didn't look back. She didn't have as much trepidation about dives or flip turns. Hesitation, but not fear. She has passed everything off now. 

McKenna (now 6) started off fearless. She progressed rather quickly--probably too quickly. I think her skills grew faster than her maturity level to handle the skills. She also got ear tubes and the water really bothered her ears. In retrospect, we should have tried plugs. She went through a time of crying through her lessons after progressing several levels in with no issues. We had to sit out of site or she would refuse to do what her teacher asked. We tried pulling her from lessons. She didn't really improve greatly until the ear tubes were out. Since then, she has gone back to progressing quickly and loving swimming. 

Brinley (almost 3) has not yet started lessons. I plan to start her when she turns 3. She started life with no fear of the water. She spent a lot of time in the pool just because we were in the pool a lot. She has recently started to be nervous with the water, however, so I am not sure how she will do in swimming lessons initially. She got a little nervous with water after getting toppled in a wave when we were in California last November. 

My point in sharing these stories with you is to encourage you to be patient as your child works through the process. There will be ups and downs. If you all stick with it, though, you will come out successful in the end.

Have Appropriate Expectations
It is wise to know what you can really expect out of swim lessons. Hailie, our swim teacher, pointed out that if you only do swim lessons during the summer, you need to realize that the child will have forgotten skills during the time since last summer (just like kids forget school skills during summer). She recommended starting out your summer lessons on the last level the child passed off as a refresher.

You will also need to do more than one class in the summer if you want to see real progress. Whether you do private or public, you can't just do a handful of lessons and expect there to be vast improvement. For public lessons, Hailie recommended 2-3 sessions (at eight 30 minute lessons each). For private lessons, she recommends eight to ten lessons of 30 minutes each of one-on-one time. 

Swim at Other Times
During the time period of lessons, keep that familiarity up with the pool. When our children were younger and feeling nervous about lessons, we made a point of going swimming just for fun. We would just have fun and eventually encourage the child to show us what he/she had learned in lessons so far. We would count to see how long the child could float on the back. We would help the child practice skills he/she was afraid of doing with the teacher. Learning to swim is a skill just like learning to play the piano. It is helpful to get practice outside of a lesson. It doesn't make sense to expect mastery of swimming with swimming happening only at lessons just like it doesn't make sense to expect ability to play the piano if piano playing is only happening during lessons. Another comparison could be made with softball or baseball. You probably wouldn't expect your child to improve only at games. You would expect some practice would need to happen outside of games to really make improvement. 

Crying is Okay
It kind of seems like most children go through a phase of crying or at least being upset during lessons. It is usually best to stay out of it if your child is crying. Do not go to the side of the pool and try to talk your child into being okay with it. Most of the time it is best to leave the child with the teacher and let it be worked out. 

It would be wise to talk with the teacher beforehand and find out the policy and expectation. I think many times parents approach the child because they don't want to leave some poor teacher with their screaming child. If the teacher tells you beforehand, "I've done it a million times. It is best for you to just let the child be if she cries" then you will feel more confident in letting the teacher handle it. Let the teacher know that you will stay back unless she signals for you to step in.

You might need to sit where the child can't see you. When McKenna had a hard time, her teacher told me that almost always the child would stop crying if she couldn't see the parent.

Hailie, our swim teacher, said to stay out of the way of the teacher. She said, "Even if you have the screaming 3 year old, leave them. They kind of go into 'survival mode' after a short time and start to do what the teacher wants only because the teacher is the only person around they have a connection to. If mom is still there, they will scream for hours and hours."

Talk to Teacher
This leads me to just talk to the teacher. Find out what the teacher wants from you and doesn't want from you. Parents often interfere in the process too much, but again, I think that is the parents trying to be good parents. It is helpful for you to know proper expectations just like it is helpful for your child. These teachers teach a lot of kids and know what generally works and what doesn't.

There Will Be Hard Times
Hailie pointed out that many parents do not understand what it takes to learn to swim. She said that to teach a child to swim, the child will have to feel what it is like to sink a little. The child is going to go under water and will likely get water up the nose. The child will probably cray about that (see crying section above). She emphasized to "let the teacher keep teaching." Many times when a child cries, it means they are being pushed to learn. And that is why you are paying money for lessons right? To learn. You could spend less money to just go hang out in the pool.

Set Goals
We made a sticker chart for each child for passing off various strokes and skills. Any time a child passes something off, we all go out for ice cream on our way home from that lesson. This has been a very motivational tradition. 

Have Good Equipment
You shouldn't need much for swimming lessons. One thing to consider is the use of goggles and flotation devices. 

Initially I didn't want my kids using goggles because I didn't want them dependent on goggles. However, I learned they did better with goggles. Looking back, I don't see an issue with goggles. Swimmers on swim teams use goggles. And through the years, my kids can all go into a pool without goggles and still have an enjoyable time. Also, if you are going to get goggles, get good ones. I have to buy goggles from a swim shop--not even the "box store" googles of the same brand are very good. We like Speedo. 

There is a lot of debate surrounding flotation devices. Some people swear by them. It is a way to get children comfortable with the water. Others swear they only harm. They say they discourage proper technique and can also give a false sense of safety. Know the opinion of the pool you will be taking lessons from and find a pool that lines up with your own opinion.

Expect swimming to take time. Your child won't master it in a short swimming lesson session. Be patient with the time your child needs. With time, your child will get it. 

Today, the ladies of the BFBN are all sharing tips for summer. Be sure to check out all of their blogs today to get some great ideas for summer!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Simple Way to Teach a Love for Reading

I am a huge proponent of reading. One of my main goals as a parent has always been to teach my children to not only be capable of reading, but love reading. I come from a line of readers, and I believe the person who can and does read opens a whole world of possibilities to himself. One of my greatest payday comments came this year when my child's Kindergarten teacher watched Brinley (2) do an activity with letters. The teacher commented that my children are all really good readers. This is something I have worked toward, so it is nice to know the effort has been worth it.

When I cam across the idea of Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) in The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, I was very excited. It has come to be my number one favorite piece of advice from the book. It is something I do with my children consistently (when they are not in school) and have seen many great benefits from it.

SSR is essentially reading for pleasure each day. When it comes time for SSR, you choose your reading material--whether it be magazines, a book, the newspaper...whatever it is you feel like reading, you read. You read together so that the children can see you modeling reading, but everyone is silent.

  • SSR provides the opportunity to read for a long enough length of time that reading becomes natural. SSR has been shown to improve reading skills.
  • SSR gives children the opportunity to read for fun. It shows kids that reading can be for pleasure. There are no quizzes and no tests--no pressure. SSR has been shown to improve attitude toward reading.
Here are some tips on implementing SSR in the home:
  1. You can do SSR with a non-reader.
  2. Start with a shorter length of time. 10-15 minutes is a good start. You can then move up from there according to age and ability of child. We do 20-30 minutes a day; however, my children have been know to continue SSR for another 20-30 minutes.
  3. Allow the child to choose his/her own reading material. Remind the child to gather enough reading material to fill the time. For a child who cannot read independently, she will likely need several picture books (or whatever she chooses) to get through the 10-15 (or longer) minutes.
  4. Have a variety of reading material available in the home.  Research shows that "the more kinds of reading material in a home the higher the child's reading scores in school" (page 90), so don't feel like if your child chooses to read the paper or a comic book it is worthless time spent reading.
  5. Have SSR at a time of day you can be most consistent with. For my older children, I like to have it after lunch. This is a time of day that is great to relax and take a break. This is especially true during hot weather months.
  6. You read, also. You will come to love this time as much as your children do! You modeling reading is an important part of the effectiveness of this exercise.
  7. No getting up and changing material once SSR has started. Part of your goal is to have sustained focus on reading, and if the child is getting up and down over and over to change books, it will distract from that goal. That is why you remind them to get enough to last through the time. If they mis-judge (and they will at first), tell them to look through their books again.
  8. No talking during SSR.
  9. No reports after SSR is over. This is just for fun. That doesn't mean you can't talk about what you read, just no formal testing. Let your child initiate any dialog on the reading material.
Like I said, we love our SSR. We have now been doing it for about many years.

I love it for me. I love reading, and this is a chance for me to get some uninterrupted reading time each day--something that can be very hard to come by as a mom! 

I love it for my children. I see that they love it--they never grumble or complain when it is SSR time. It also gives them a physical break in the middle of the day and allows them to just relax and escape into the world of whatever they are reading. This is fantastic for older children who do not nap anymore.

I have also seen reading skills improve greatly, especially in my full-on readers. I have seen my children get faster and faster at reading when doing this daily. When my oldest was seven, he went gone from finishing a chapter book in a day or two to finishing it in just over an hour after a couple of months of doing this (we then added some more difficult books for him because of his speed). When SSR is over, he always wants to read longer. 

I see the efforts of SSR paying off in our home. Give it a try! You will see great benefits, also.

More posts on reading here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Brinley Toddler Summary: 34.5 Months Old

Brinley and me at a baseball and softball game (they
were actually right next to each other so we were watching
both). She is my ball watching buddy.
This is a summary for Brinley from 34-34.5 months old.

Sleeping is great! She had a day of testing getting out of bed at nap time. I heard a door slamming and was about to go have a talk with the older kids on not slamming doors--especially during naptime--when I stopped and thought. I realized the sound had come from Brinley's room. I checked the video monitor (love) and saw her bed empty. I talked through the monitor (seriously an awesome feature) and told her to get in her bed. She quickly did. 

Being able to talk into a the video monitor is seriously fantastic. A lot of times kids will test getting out of bed in order to have a visitor. Other times, the child gets some thrill out of seeing you frustrated and will get out of bed just to see your reaction (so if you do have a child who gets out of bed and you do not have a monitor, do your best to remain perfectly calm). I love being able to just tell Brinley to get back in bed without having to go to her room and let her expand her scientific testing with the process.

Eating is good. Nothing new or different. 

One morning, I got Brinley up for the morning and saw her hair was wet. It didn't seem sweaty so I checked her bed and determined that she had thrown up. It was recent and there were no food chunks (sorry for the TMI, but really, this is a parenting blog and we parents talk straight about bodily fluids). 

She wasn't upset or anything. I set her on the ground and started to strip her bed. As I did, she started to throw up more (though dry heaving would be a more accurate description). I caught the little fluid that came out in her blankets I had taken from the bed. 

I then took her straight to the bath. I know a lot of people don't do showers or baths on sick days, but for me personally, I always feel better when I am clean so I always give my kids showers and baths when sick. Then I pulled her hair all up and away from her face so she couldn't throw up in it more. 

She did not want any food. I grabbed a bowl for her and demonstrated how to throw up into it. Then I got her comfortable and turned on some PBS kids. She watched some shows and threw up in her bowl one time (yay! That is a great milestone--learning to throw up in the bowl rather than everywhere else). 

She ate applesauce for lunch and had no issues for the rest of the day. Brinley was a little trooper on her sick day.

Brinley is loving summer. Her siblings are home all day every day. She has lots of fun time to play with them. It is interesting how different life can be for different kids. For Brayden and Kaitlyn, summer days were just like any other days. For Brinley, they are significantly less structured. We do do a lot more playing in summer and therefore Brinley's days are not as consistent from day to day. I do strive to keep her nap most days. She also has independent play most days (though last week she didn't have it one of the days all week). 

Kaitlyn (8) has been getting Brinley up and feeding her breakfast most mornings. Guys--it is fantastic. They both love it. I love it. Kaitlyn has even gotten her out of the bath, diapered her, dressed her, and combed her hair. I might be really sad when school starts. I love seeing Kaitlyn nurture Brinley and Brinley loves being doted upon by her older sister. I love seeing Kaitlyn get all of this mommy practice, also. Kaitlyn will be such a fun and sweet mom some day. She tends to give in to fits, but she is learning over time how to stick to rules. It is a good experience for them both. 

This is her typical daily schedule for summer--not a lot of structure.

8:45 AM--Wake up/Breakfast/Get ready
Sometime between breakfast and lunch, have Independent play for 60-90 minutes
12:00 PM--Lunch
1:30/2:00 PM--Nap
4:30/5:00 PM--Wake up and Free Playtime
5:30 PM--Dinner
6:00 PM--Family Time
8:00 PM--Get Ready for Bed
8:30 PM--Bedtime

During the day, we will do learning activities, play outside, go for walks, go to the park, go do other fun stuff...what we do each day has varied a lot so far.


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