Mommy Monday

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Today in my great state, schools are closed. Not because of inclement weather, but because the teachers are marching the steps of the State Capitol. I absolutely support the teachers in their endeavor to get funding for their classrooms, to create smaller class sizes, and to get paid for the hard work they put in week after week. Teachers deserve our respect and our support.

They’re are so many things I could say, stats I could provide, and stories I could tell to illustrate the need for proper funding, smaller class sizes, better pay, and improved working conditions for educators all around the nation. Instead, I’ll let this video speak for itself.

 

I stand with you, teachers! Keep fighting for our kids!

Mommy Monday

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Ever since Huff the Tot was about a year old, I’ve been looking for ways to help her get a head start, academically. When my sisters and I were kids, my mom would do flash cards with us of various phonics and sight words and both of my parents would read to us. (I credit all of this with helping to cultivate a love of reading with my sisters and I.) So as soon as I felt HtT was ready, we’ve started “Tot School”.

My oldest sister is a SAHM/homeschool mom. She’s absolutely amazing at it and her kids are crazy-smart! I would love to have the skill and patience to be a homeschool mom, but I just don’t know if I have it in me to plan hours of curriculum and make sure we actually accomplish said curriculum instead of just sit around in our jammies all day watching Netflix (which, to be fair, sounds like an amazing day!).

BUT, Tot School is definitely something I can accomplish daily! After some consulting with my sister (and Pinterest) I came up with a “teaching plan” that fit our schedule and Huff the Tot’s attention span. So I thought I’d share with you some of our favorite Tot School activities.

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Alphabet Flash Cards

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Like most little girls, Huff the Tot is obsessed with Frozen. These alphabet flash cards helped her learn her alphabet and recognize/name letters before she was two years old. And, bonus!, the fact that the flash cards were characters from her favorite movie kept her attention! You can get them here from TotSchooling.net! If Frozen isn’t your kid’s fancy, you can get superhero, animals, or Disney characters!

 

Letter Sound Worksheets

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Once I saw that HtT could recognize letters/sing the alphabet song multiple times without any mistakes, I knew it was time to progress to some early-reading encouragement and work on letter sounds. These printables from 1+1+1=1 have been so incredibly helpful! Each week, Huff the Tot and I cover one letter. We’ll do one different worksheet a day and every day we’ll sing a song I learned from my nephew’s Letter Factory toy! For example, on the days we do the letter A, I’ll sing (to the tune of “The Cheese Stands Alone“): “The A says a. The A says a. Every letter makes a sound, A says a!” We sing that song a few times a day and it really helps her to remember which letters make which sounds.

 

Sensory Play 

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For a long time, I thought sensory play had to be this deep, meaningful, expensive time where I would buy a sand or water table and we’d talk about the intricacies of science and all that jazz. But you know works great? Play Doh! I just hand her a few tubs, one of her Play Doh sets, and while I cook dinner the kid goes to town! She keeps her hands busy and I keep my sanity! (See, tot school doesn’t have to be some elaborate thing!)

 

Fine Motor Skills

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Again, helping your wee one learn fine motor skills doesn’t have to be some long, involved process. A few chunky beads and a shoelace and you’ve got yourself a fine motor skills activity. Bonus? I got Huff the Tot’s in the Dollar Spot at Target!

 

Don’t get me wrong, there are many days that I feel as though the only educational activity we’ve done is watch three hours of Little Einsteins. With two kids, its tough to squeeze in Tot School everyday. I try to set aside time during little brother’s naps to go over as much as we can. But just because Huff the Tot and I aren’t sitting at the table doing a letter worksheet doesn’t mean there’s no way to pop education in throughout the day. I love the LeapReader Jr. my sister got for Huff the Tot and Starfall is a great site/app that facilitates learning (and also keeps the kid entertained when we’re at a restaurant or the doctor’s office waiting room!) There are so many blogs and websites out there (hello, Pinterest!) that can give you a ton of ideas that work for you and your kiddo!

Do you do Tot School with your wee one? What do you do? Are there any sites you find helpful? Share in the comments below!

Her’s Day Thursday

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Y’all know I’m all about empowering young women and girls to believe that they can be anything and do anything. I want to raise my daughter to shoot for the stars (same goes for her little brother) and to not let anyone say she (or he, in Indy’s case) can’t do anything (except skydiving; Momma won’t allow that. Sorry, kids.).

Because of this–and my love of documentaries–I have scoured Netflix and found some awesome documentaries and docu-series that highlight amazing women (as well as causes to help young women and girls) that are absolutely amazing!

Here’s my Top Four List of “You Go, Girl!” films on Netflix:

The Ascent of Woman 

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This four-part, BBC docu-series by Dr. Amanda Foreman explores women’s history in ancient civilizations, revolutionaries, and achievements of women throughout history.

 

The Women’s List 

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This film focuses on fifteen different women from different careers and their influences on women’s issues.

 

Warrior Women

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Warrior Women is an inside-look at some kick-a ladies from history that have become legends in their own right. From Joan of Arc to Mulan, host Lucy Lawless (AKA, Xena!) tells the stories of these BAMFs.

Girl Rising

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Y’all, this one is probably my favorite. This film focuses on nine different girls from various parts of the world and documents their triumphs and struggles. Its incredibly eye-opening!

 

What about you? What are some of your favorite “girl power” shows? Any of these make your list? Share in the comments below!

Her’s Day Thursday

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Today’s magnificent momma is Elizabeth Blackwell!

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Elizabeth Blackwell was born in Gloucestershire, England in 1821. Her father, a sugar refiner, believed that all of his children—including his daughters—should be educated and have the same opportunities as anyone else. This is why Mr. Blackwell not only hired a governess for his children, but also private tutors to ensure a quality education.

When she was 11, Elizabeth and her family moved to America. When they arrived, they were all deeply moved by the struggles of slaves and worked hard to help abolish slavery. When Elizabeth’s father died in 1838, Elizabeth and her sisters started a school for young women to help bring in money for the family.

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Elizabeth continued to teach and fight against slavery. In 1845, she was visiting a friend who was dying from a horribly painful disease (most likely uterine cancer). Her friend told her she wished she was being treated by a female physician because she would be more understanding and possibly have a more comforting bedside manner. This got Elizabeth thinking about a career in medicine.

With the help of a reverend friend (who was a physician before he entered the clergy) she studied anatomy. She reached out to colleges all over the world but faced rejection at every turn. Most of the rejections cited that she: “was a woman and therefore intellectually inferior”, and she “might actually prove equal to the task, prove to be competition, and that could not expect them to ‘furnish [her] with a stick to break our heads with”.

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In 1847, Elizabeth was accepted to Hobart College in New York. Two years later, she became the first woman to receive a medical degree. She faced adversity and prejudice every where she went. However, she did not let it deter her. She found other young women under her wing who had a dream to practice medicine. When the Civil War broke out, Elizabeth and her sisters trained nurses and opened infirmaries.

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She worked tirelessly the rest of her life for social and political reform, and even opened the London School of Medicine for Women in 1874. For more information about the BAMF Elizabeth Blackwell, click here!

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Mommy Monday

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We all want our kids to succeed. Not only to make their lives better, but also (and we’re all lying if we don’t admit it) because we can look good as parents and thus seem successful to others.

 

You know what I’m talking about. You’re at the park with another mom and her kid. Momma #1 starts talking about how little McKinsley is doing so spectacularly well in preschool and can already write her name as well as recite the Bill of Rights. This of course leads to a “battle of skills” as you start wracking your brain for what your little Pilot Inspektor did that could blow that out of the water (and try desperately to make sure Momma #1 doesn’t realize your Little One is sucking the dust off of the playground gravel).

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Why do toddler milestones have to be about what a child is achieving “earlier than normal” rather than just letting a kid hit those markers when they’re ready? It’s as though if your child isn’t a wunderkind, then he/she is “falling behind” and will never be anything above average.

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When I was young, I didn’t really feel a lot of pressure from my parents to be a child prodigy. Sure, they read to me, worked with me on my ABC’s, numbers, colors, and shapes, but it was not a Tiger Mom scenario. I still went outside, played in the dirt, and climbed fences. I even watched TV—gasp!

 

There are many times I feel an enormous amount of pressure to make sure Huff the Babe is “excelling”. I don’t want her to get to pre-K and not be able to tell the teacher what her last name is or have no idea which shape is a circle. But is that me “feeding the machine” of perfectionist parenting or me simply wanting my child to succeed?

 

And, what’s so wrong about being “average”? I feel like society has turned into a narcissistic mass, all about marketing themselves as something better than everyone else. If we’re constantly comparing our children to other children, what makes us think that our kids won’t do that as they grow? Sure, you may think your kid can’t hear the comments you make about how they are “smarter than most kids their age” and “can do things other kids wish they could do”, but they hear you. And soon, it will become their inner dialogue.

 

“I am so much better than Tabby. She doesn’t even know what a protozoa is.”

 

“Charlie’s an idiot; I made my way through Trig in fifth grade.”

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The truth of the matter is, all kids learn and develop at different stages. Everyone has different talents that they bring to the table. Shouldn’t we just be encouraging and patient with our kids instead of pressuring them to learn the seven continents before they’re 18 months old?

 

What about you? Do you feel as though there are tougher demands now on kids academically rather than when you were a child? Do you feel inadequate as a parent if your kid hasn’t learned what Johnny-Down-The-Block has learned?