27 December 2012

That Difficult Age: 5 Things That Make Parenting A 6-11 Year OldChallenging

I think every parent or set of parents has an age rage that is more challenging than the others. For many, this is the teenage years. Some find it the toddler time frame. For my husband and I it appears to be from about age 6 to 11.

So what is it about this age group that we find so challenging?

1.  Definite Opinions About What They Like.
Ok, so this isn't new for kids budding into this age group, but it is much more intense than it was a year or two ago. Parental opinion on what we think is spectacular isn't as relevant. Gone are the days of convincing your little angel that the super sweet dress you have had picked out for weeks is the one to wear to that special event. They may have had their own ideas about what they like in fashion, toys, and food before, but now those opinions are much stronger. Sometimes those opinions are based from the opinions of friends or older siblings, but sometimes they are totally and randomly their own. It's hard for a parent when their opinion suddenly isn't the most important or possibly doesn't matter at all to the little person that recently thought they hung the moon. It's also hard to hand over the reins of control to someone so small.

2.  Mouth Control
Mouth control is my husband's most challenging issue with any age, but between the ages of 6-11 seems to be the toughest. This age group has the brain power to come up with some serious wordage. However, they lack the knowledge to control what comes out of their mouth sometimes. That word they heard on the playground or from you while being cut off in traffic just seems to fly out. Their opinions that Aunt Sue's gravy tasts like liquid garbage or that you are being a complete jerk also come flying out. They have quick, snappy, and often mean words at this age. It's our job to teach them how to understand their feelings and have self-control. Oh, and those opinions that we talked about in issue 1, well, they just want them to be known.

3.  Puberty
At the end of this time frame, puberty is just beginning. For many the most challenging part of puberty is the beginning. The sudden change in hormone levels can make your child go from sweet and angelic to an angry monster and then to a sobbing mess in a matter of minutes seconds. There have been times in the past when John would have sworn that we needed to have our oldest (and now our second child) analyzed for being bipolar. It's scary when your normally mild mannered sweetheart is screaming at her sister from across the house then breaks down into tears. For some kids this can also bring on a large weight gain and other body changes. Adults don't deal with body change well. Billions of dollars are spent yearly to prove this. How do you think your kid is handling it? My best advice is to talk, talk, talk, and when you think they understand everything, talk some more.

4.  Not a little kid anymore... Not a teenager yet
This is the age when your kid has just outgrown all those really cool things that are designed for little kids. Those fun play areas at malls and science centers are now a thing of the past. Some of their most beloved toys are now just a bit small. However, these are the things that have defined the world of fun for them for the entirety of their life. On the other hand, they just aren't big enough to do those cool things teens do yet. Not big enough to prepare the family dinner on their own or go places by their self. As a parent this comes with constant explaining to our adolescent why they are too big, small, young, or old. Accompanying this is the fact sometimes they seem to think like a little kid and sometimes more adult. This bouncing back in forth in the thought processes is really the most challenging part of this age for me.

5.  Privacy Please!!!
Your little one that used to want to share EVERYTHING with you, now wants some space of their own. During this time you will definitely be told, "I need some alone time," even by the most social of children. That kid that was running around your house naked maybe a week ago will suddenly flip out when her little brother walks into their bedroom while they are changing clothes. At this age privacy is selective. My oldest has always been able to talk to my husband (or anyone for that matter) about her period, but one mention of a bra and she will run out of the room with a bright red face. They may have boxes of 'secret' things or start locking their bedroom or bathroom door.  Many kids start a private journal. The tricky part with all this privacy is knowing where to set the boundaries. They need and want privacy, but at times allowing them to much privacy can be dangerous.

16 December 2012

Mischief Maker... how to get sharpie off linoleum

The other day Nia walked into the bathroom and started yelling, "MOM, you're not going to like this!"

Being that it was the bathroom, I had no idea what I was about to walk into. Since my gross tolerance level is significantly lowered with pregnancy, my first question was, "how bad is it?"

Nia, "You don't want to go in there."

So, prepared for the worst, I held my breath and rounded the corner to the bathroom. Permanent marker on the floor. Whew, at least I wasn't going to throw up. Well, maybe not whew, I had never dealt with this particular issue before. So obviously... I googled. Several sights suggested several 'fixes.'

My first attempt was hand sanitizer. Mainly because there was a bottle of it on the bathroom counter. Here is a shot of it globbed on over the err, artwork. Nia and I rubbed it in a bit. No luck. Let it set about 20 minutes. Not even a little fading after it was wiped off.

As I searched the house for items used in other recommendations, Nia sprayed Off Deep Woods bug spray on it. I saw this a handful of places online and had the least hope for this method, but I knew exactly where the bug spray was and amazingly, it worked! Nia said it actually disappeared like magic as she sprayed. She even asked if she could scribble on the floor so she could show me. Anyway, I decided to dig a little deeper as to why this worked so well. A few sites suggested this worked by removing the protective coating that is on the linoleum and would only work on newer floors.

Ahh, crisis averted. The teacher part of me wants desperately to turn this into a science experiment. Ideas are brewing.

14 December 2012

The Flu

My plan this year was to begin our official Christmas break on Sunday. Unfortunately,  the flu bug has hit our family so we started a couple of days early. Today and tomorrow were mainly going to be filled with art, history, and a science experiment or two. Now it's looking more like leftover soup, tea with honey, and boxes of tissue.

Curriculum for 2012

Just before we were about to order materials this year, our family took a big financial hit. So, the loathing I normally feel for picking out curriculum was doubled. I hate picking out curriculum. No, I HATE, HATE picking out curriculum. I get very intimidated by the price tag. If it’s low, I’m afraid it won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on. If it’s expensive, what if it sucks? We have to pinch a lot of pennies around this household to get materials. I’ve actually had nightmares about picking out expensive, horrible curriculum. All that being said, we mainly focus on math and language arts/reading and let the rest fall into place. At any rate, this is what we are currently using.

Anara our 1st grader uses:



Instead of buying an actual curriculum, I decided to sign up for an account through IXL. I’ve taught and tutored more math lessons than I can count. So I don’t really need a book to tell me how to teach her this at the 1st grade level. I just need a list of topics to keep me on track and having a set of problems for Anara to work out saves me a lot of time. So, we are using a ton of manipulatives along with IXL for 1st grade. So far this formula = math love for this little girl. She even request to do extra math a lot of days.


Sequential Spelling 1.

I cannot rave enough about this spelling book by Don McCabe. I used it with my oldest when we started to homeschool her. Spelling test are set up a little differently. First off, there is NO studying. Second, you take a test everyday. Third, your child, no matter how bad they have proven to be at spelling, will do well. Ok, your thinking sounds ridiculous. It goes a little something like this. At this level your first word will be something like ‘at’ the next word may be ‘bat’ then ‘mat.’ Here is the special part. As your testing your child, you are writing on a white board or chalk board (we use the outer part of a 3-ring binder and a dry erase marker). We have just started using it with Anara, but Nia has had success with it, I can’t see us ever using anything else. Great for children with dyslexia. It has helped Nia (and myself) become much better spellers.

Language Arts

Daily Warm-Ups: Language Skills 1st grade

We haven’t totally gotten into this yet. Anara is still at the early stages of reading so we are focusing more on handwriting and plan to start this with-in the next month or 3 depending on how she progresses with handwriting. This includes a daily worksheet and a daily written assignment.


Handwriting Without Tears

We don’t actually have this curriculum. I was able to find enough materials and videos free online to piece together enough to get by with. If I were buying, this is what I would get though.
Update: We actually did wind up buying the book for this. This is one of those things that there are a zillion extra little options you can purchase. I decided to only purchase the student work book. Glad I stuck with just that, instructions are in the workbook and I don't feel the other stuff is necessary.


Explode the Code

We have just ordered Explode the Code. We also use a handful of manipulatives and several trips to the library. We started with a Teach Your Child To Read IN 100 Lessons and have decided to change. I really think if you force your child to suffer threw it, the 100 Lessons text would work. But it is incredibly, well, boring. It’s black and white text with no pictures. Anara needs pictures, momma needs pictures.  I’ll have to let you know how Explode the Code works and what we decide on to replace the 100 lessons book.


Wilson Reading

This is designed to teach those with dyslexia in grades 3 through adult. I only pulled this out and used it with Anara for a few weeks because we already had it. I think we could have made this one work, but Anara was really board with it also. It was designed mostly with older kids and adults in mind so, no cute pictures, games, or anything else that  makes curriculum fun for a 6 year old.

Reading Eggs

This is an online game sort of curriculum. Anara loves IXL for math, so I searched out something simular to do for reading. It offered a free trial, so we signed up. She really loved it and it helped a lot. However, she had made her way through about 1/2 the material in our free trial and you purchase a year at a time. I couldn't justify purchasing a year of a program that she would finish within another 2 or 3 weeks. If they took this up to a 3rd or 5th grade level, I would have been pleased as a peach to make a purchase here. With IXL you can purchase a month at a time, I would have been thrilled with this option for Reading Eggs. Those options just are not available.

Now that it is towards the end of the year, I'll fill you in on what we ended up doing. Anara has continued to work with Explode the code. She has also worked with a few manipulates for language arts. I read to her from a chapter book each day (we also read other small books). She also reads to me for about 30 minutes each day from books of her choice.

Update: We wound up being offered another free trial of Reading Eggs, which we took and Anara completed that program.

Sania our 7th grader uses:

Teaching Text Books Algebra I

I think most save Algebra for high school, but Nia gets really board with math if it isn’t challenging. So far we are really liking this. There is a short lecture for her to listen to and watch each day via cd rom, although she generally skips it. Explanations are also in her text book if she needs to refresh on them. Each problem in the book can also be explained on the computer screen if she needs it to be. It’s the start of our school year, so Nia isn’t very far into this material, but she seems to be liking it. She says the way it’s presented it makes Algebra seem easy.

Language Arts

Daily Spark: Critical Writing.

Nia has the parts of speech down so this year I wanted to focus more on writing with her. This little book has daily assignments of interesting stuff to write about. It is geared more for the high school age bracket though.


Even though Nia is child with dyslexia she has become a great, no amazing reader. She has trained herself to read blocks of words at a time instead of reading a single word at a time. Not exactly sure how she does it, but it works for her. At any rate, we just let her read what ever she wants. One month she might jump into a box of her dad’s old comic books and the next breeze through a couple of novels from one of Rick Warren’s series. More on Nia's journey with dyslexia can be found here.


Sequential Spelling 7

See above under Anara’s spelling curriculum to find out how I feel about Sequential Spelling.

12 December 2012


I try to get in a little yoga with the kids. It’s fun and easy and anyone can do it. Even Cameron joins in. Ever seen a 1 year old do yoga. Insanely CUTE!!! We have a copy of The ABCs of Yoga for Kids coloring book for the kids to flip through and pick poses they want to do. We have also learned a little by checking out books at the library and watching videos. Not pros by any means and it’s been years since I myself could be found on a yoga mat in a class, but it’s a fun way to ease the kids back into their work after I get lunch cleaned up.

A little update: My new favorite resource for doing yoga with the kids is YouTube. At Nia's suggestion, I did a quick little search for 'yoga kid' and a plethora of videos pop up. What's great is there are several different lengths of videos. So if you have 5 minutes for yoga today, done. If you have an hour, well good luck keeping your kids interested for that long, but there are videos long enough. I suggest the CosmicKidsYoga channel which currently has 5 kids yoga videos on it

How We Roll, Err... Our Homeschool Style

My very first year of homeschooling I was given a small tidbit of advice from a veteran homeschooling momma,

“Focus on math and reading and the rest will fall into place.”

Ok, at the time, I thought she was a nut job and didn't take the advice at all. I was new to this experience and wanted stone solid answers on curriculum, schedules, and running the home like a school. I had spent nearly a decade working in public schools or pre-schools and gosh darn it, I was good at it. At some point I realized that if I thought the way regular school is done was the right choice for my kids, shouldn’t I just send them there. So, what we do now is focus on math and reading and let the rest fall into place. If someone would have just told me... oh wait, they did.

We like to get in as many trips as possible. Days that we are out and about (generally one to three times a week) we also try to get in math, reading, and spelling. I try to be a stickler about getting these 3 in everyday, no matter what. If it’s a long trip to our destination the kids watch a documentary on the way. My theory on this is not to let book work get in the way of an educational opportunity. How much can you remember about your 2nd grade social studies book? What about the trips you took?

The day after a field trip we throw in a  journal about the outing. We get in most of the remaining subjects with projects. My kids always have something they want to know more about or an idea they want to execute.  If someone is under the weather, it's documentary day.