Wednesday, June 19, 2013

This Is How We Do It

This post was also published today at Blatant Bibliophilia.

Last week, someone asked me, "What method or strategy do you use for teaching children to enjoy reading?"

Well. I don't know if you'd really call this a "method," because in our house, it's as natural as breathing. But this is what we do:

We expose our kids to books, early and often. We let them see us reading, we model the excitement and enjoyment that come from involving yourself in a good book. We keep books easily accessible to them. We have bookshelves in basically every room of our house. For our kids, books aren't anything intimidating; they're a part of the everyday landscape. And in keeping with the idea of making books accessible, we take them to the library regularly. Our local library offers some great children's programs, and because we sell it as such, our kids are completely convinced that library is every bit as much fun as the park.

And most importantly, we read to them. There is just no substitute for curling up together on the couch and sharing a pile of storybooks. We also read before bed every night, and we let our kids take books to bed with them. Even the baby. I mean, he's too young to sleep with a blanket yet, but make no mistake, his crib is full of board books.

So the other night, I was collapsed in bed. It was only 10:30, but it had been a really lo g day. I had taken all four of my kids on a day-long adventure down to Indianapolis by myself, and the day had included a lengthy trip to the zoo in super-hot weather, among other adventures. So by the time we got home, I was pretty much ready to collapse into some air-conditioned slumber. But not my three-year old. We tucked him into bed with a book, as usual, and a few minutes later, I heard the pitter-patter of little feet at my door.

"Mama, I have a question." Wearily I raised my head and squinted into the hall light. "What was this called again?"

I made out the cover of Bill Martin Jr's classic. "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom?"

"No, not that..."

"Um, coconut?" I asked, remembering how he had been confused about those items the last time we had read the book.

"No!" he said, pointing again. "This!"

At that point, Ben passed through the hall.  "Tooth?" he asked, glancing down at the picture.

"Yes, that's it!  Loose-tooth T!" Liam declared.  Then, his memory of the alphabet and their various injuries restored, he went back into his room to "read" himself to sleep.

And that's how we do it.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Liam's ABCs

After a four-month blogging hiatus, I've kind of been feeling like I needed to have some big, important post to make in order to get started again.  I never meant to stop blogging; it kind of just got lost in the shuffle of full-time work, grad classes, four kids, my Girl Scout troop, etc.  Oh, and also, we moved to a new house (also at camp) last month.  You know--because we have lots of free time and were needing some life changes.  Ahem.

Then, last night, I was doing some flashcards with Liam--at his request, not because I'm a crazy lady that thinks my 3-year-old needs to be reading or anything.  :)  His answers for the cards cracked me up so much that I couldn't stop laughing.  I said, "Oh man, I really need to blog this--it's too hilarious!"  And Ben said, "Yeah you really should."

So here I am again.

And, without further ado, Liam's ABCs:

We were doing these flashcards that feature an uppercase and lowercase letter set on one side, and a character from Disney on the other.  My little genius could identify every single letter, but he had a much harder time with the characters.....  Here were his responses:

Mm  is for.....    "Car!" shouts Liam.

Qq is for.....  "Princess!" shouts Liam.

Aa is for.....  "Barbie!" shouts Liam.

Tt is for....  "Cinderella!" shouts Liam.

Zz is for....  "Parrot!" shouts Liam.

What cracked me up the most about all of this is that he was SO confident in his answers.  Absolutely sure that he was right.

Finally, I decided to give him one that I was sure he knew....

Dd is for....  "Gumbo!" shouts Liam.

So close, kid.  So close.

To summarize:
Letter recognition and language skills = awesome.
Pop culture references = fail.

I can live with that.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Change (Would Do Me Good?)

This song has been running through my head for the last week.... and not just because I'm a big "Glee" fan. 

"I think a change would do you good."

Or I hope so anyway, because we're about to have a big one.

Starting tomorrow, I'll be coming out of retirement and returning to the classroom.  Tomorrow morning, I start teaching high school English again, for the first time in a little over three years.

Those of you who have read my blog for a long time know that I have had an on-again/off-again relationship with teaching.  I was pretty sure that I left the profession twice, only to come back.  My dad says that I have the heart of a teacher and that it's what I'm really supposed to be doing.  (Personally, I hope that a second career as a librarian is somewhere down the road for me, or I've wasted a lot of time and money on grad classes....)

It didn't really make sense to our family to rock the boat with my profession when so many other things in our lives were changing.  After my last teaching job, I got pregnant with Liam.  And then I started grad school.  And then Ben left corporate America, and our family moved to camp.  And then I got pregnant with Aiden.  And then I was on bedrest.  And then Aiden arrived and we had to figure out this whole "family of six" thing.

But now..... Aiden is 6 months old.  Ben is settled into his job.  Our girls are settled into their schools.  We are settled into our new community.  And we took a long, hard look at our finances and realized that a return to teaching was probably in the cards for my future.

We did NOT expect it to happen this quickly.  But a good friend of mine (whose husband also works at camp) knew our situation, and when a job teaching English at the school where she teaches opened up suddenly at semester, she let me know right away.  I figured it couldn't hurt to turn in an application, so I did.

And then I prayed.  Fervently.  A lot.

Not necessarily to get the job, but for God's will to be done and for me to accept whatever path He wanted me to take.

And then the interview went beautifully and they offered me the job.

And they offered to pay for both my masters hours AND my experience--which is kind of unheard of in the teaching market today (at least in my experience).

So I conditionally accepted, assuming that I could find childcare that I felt comfortable with.  A local friend gave me three names as suggestions for childcare.  I wasn't holding out a lot of hope, since I was looking for someone to take on my four kids (Liam and Aiden every day, Shay after preschool, and Bryn after school) with less than a week's notice... and also hoping that the same person could take Molly, who I've been babysitting since she was 8 weeks old (she's now 14 months).  Really, I thought, who could possibly agree to take on 5 additional kids with less than a week's notice?

And the first two women I interviewed both offered to take the kids (though both had some stipulations to their schedules that would have been a bit tricky to work out).  And then I interviewed the third woman.... and loved her.  And Christine (Molly's mom) loved her too.  And we wholeheartedly agreed to offer her the job.  And she was thrilled to accept.

So the major worries that I had (money and childcare) were removed before they became an issue--which I am taking to mean that the Big Guy is 100% on board with this.

That's not to say that I am completely worry-free.  Truth be told, I have no idea how I'm going to juggle working full-time, taking a grad class, being a Girl Scout leader (in cookie season), and raising four kids.  But I trust that God has a plan for my life, and I'm just trying to follow obediently.

So please say some prayers for me over the next few days and weeks, friends.  Liam and Aiden have never been in childcare.  Shay doesn't remember when she was (since she was only 1 then).  And even when I worked before, our wonderful sitters watched the kids at my house, so this will be the first experience for all of them with going somewhere else to be watched.  They're actually all really excited about it right now, and I just hope that feeling persists as we get into our new routine.

And now I'm off to bed.  Because I have a big, big, big day tomorrow!