Tag Archives: Parenting

Easy for Mom Preschool

preschool

I couldn’t decide what words to use for this title. I wanted to say “Lazy Mom Preschool” or “Preschool for Dummies”… but I don’t want to call Moms lazy or dummies! I just mean this is an easy way to do preschool with very little cost and prep work. Easy and simple is my way of doing things now-a-days. With cleaning the home, teaching the kids, making dinner, church responsibilities and my hobbies… I need to maximize my time by doing things very simple and efficient.

Here are the general learning principles I follow:

  • Do every subject everyday
  • Be consistent & efficient
  • Get rid of distractions
  • Use a paper and pencil
  • Test knowledge

These are the subjects I try to do everyday:

  • Gospel Study
  • Handwriting
  • Scissors
  • Reading
  • Math

The only exception is that my husband is in charge of a science lesson once a week during family night. I try to add music or piano to the daily list… but I seem to never be able to get to that everyday… yet! My kids also to do crafts and art on their own so I don’t mandate that either.

I’ve seen people make weekly calendars… Monday is Math. Tuesday is Reading. Wednesday is Science… ect. The reason why I think this isn’t the most efficient way to do preschool is because preschool aged kids learn by repetition.

God tells us to read our scriptures and pray everyday. Why? It’s so we can learn his words, remember them and master them! Doing something everyday will help anyone master any skills they want to learn! I know from experience that reading my scriptures everyday has made me a better reader as well as a better person. Doing photography everyday has helped me get better at photography. So if I want my kids to get good at something… I’m going to have to help them practice it everyday.

So doing every subject everyday has helped my kids learn these various subjects really well. The repetition really works and they are mastering skills like using scissors and handwriting. We do however take a break on Sunday to go to church and do Sunday activities.

Now… you may think… “Well you must spend an awful amount of time doing this everyday!” My oldest child is 5 years old. We spend 30-45 minutes max on all the subjects. My second child is 3 years old and we spend 15 to 25 minutes. My youngest is 1 years old and we spend about 5 to 10 minutes on it! So for me I spend about 1 to 1.5 hours total in focused learning sessions with my kids.

The key is to be consistent and making the time worth it! I try to get rid of distractions and put my phone away and turn off the computer. These precious minutes are spent in one-on-one focused learning sessions. I make the time efficient by gauging their interest on the subjects. If they are bored then I changed it up. If they are wanting more I usually give them more but I eventually make them stop and say… “Sorry you have to wait to have more fun tomorrow!” “But mom! I LOVE Math… please let me do more math!” In order to be consistent, I have to make teaching a priority in my life. I try to teach even if the house is messy or my projects are not done.

Lastly, I test their knowledge. I am always asking them questions to make sure they have master the concepts I’m teaching them. I test them in all the subjects including gospel learning, reading comprehension and math.

So here is an example of what I do every time. I try to consistently do the same routine every time. I also teach every subject every time. I make things simple by just using a notebook and pencil. Everyday I just make a new page or two in the notebook. It’s really nice to use one notebook so I can see how they progress over days, weeks and months.

A preschool daily learning routine:

  • Pray
  • Book of Mormon Study
  • Writing (or tracing) their name
  • Tracing lines and shapes
  • Cutting out a shape
  • Counting & Recognizing Numbers
  • Letter & Letter Sounds

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Once my child is ready to write on their own then I add these into the curriculum.

Adjusting the way I teach for each child has been a fun challenge. My first son likes to do book work while my second son likes to play games especially computer games. No matter what the content is… the principles I follow are the same:

  • Do every subject everyday
  • Be consistent & efficient
  • Get rid of distractions
  • Use a paper and pencil
  • Test their knowledge

This all didn’t come naturally. I had to learn from my other mom friends! I also had to learn from trial and error. I get criticism sometimes… “Your kids are young… they should just play!” Yes it’s true… there’s lots of learning when they are playing. After I do the focused learning session with my kids… they get so sick of me sometimes that they run away and play the rest of the day. All I have to do after is referee and resolve conflicts with sharing toys… lol! Oh… and I guess I feed them too! So my kids do play hard and work hard.

Of course… I’m not perfect at this routine… we have good days and bad days! But I try really hard to be consistent. Over time I see that the routine is working. The repetition has really given my kids a foundation of skills and knowledge they need for future learning.

I have found great joy in teaching my children the basics and while I understand that this method may not work for all moms/kids. I would love to hear what works for you!

 

 

 

3 Easy Steps to Teach a Young Child How to Read

How to Read

My oldest son, Micah, is now 3 years and 5 months old. He is starting to sound out words and reading short words! I’m seriously so proud of him. My goal is to teach him how to read before he goes into Kindergarten. I’ve been teaching my son how to read ever since he was interested in letters which was well before he was 18 months old. I definitely think this is from Dallin’s genes cause I have never been interested in reading very much at all.

I broke it down to three easy steps. I’m writing this down so I can teach my next kid how to read but may be it’ll help someone else too.

  1. Teach your child to recognize all the UPPERcase letters
  2. Then teach your child to recognize all the lowercase letters
  3. MAKE IT FUN!!! Teach your kids letter sounds as you would teach them animal sounds. (ex. What does a M say? mmmmmm) With this step I needed a little bit of help and guidance, I’ll list the resources I have used below.

After talking to my mom friends, I really think phonics is the way to begin teaching kids how to read.

First book, my neighbor suggested Teach Your Child How to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  This book has a really boring introduction of instructions for the parents, but once we started the lessons my son seriously took the book and blossomed. Everyday you only do one lesson and it last about 20 minutes. Everything is outlined for you so I didn’t even have to plan anything. It gives you the order to teach the letter sounds, starting with the more obvious sounds like M and S and A then moving towards more complicated sounds like silent E’s… ect. Three reasons why I love the book is 1) it’s super easy for me 2) it teaches kids how to read and not just memorize the words 3) It makes reading into a game.

Another friend suggested the Three Owl’s Reading Method which unfortunately is out of press and I can’t find a copy anywhere. Micah loves these little books!!! This is more of a Montessori approach to teaching kids how to read. The first sounds that it teaches kids are the vowels sounds: a, e, ee, i, o, oo, u. Since it’s out of print, may be I’ll recreate the books and put them online. Dr. Hulda Clark who created the reading system died back in 2009. I’ll email the publisher to find out what I can do. Micah loves Owl’s Eyes more than Teach Your Child How to Read in 100 Easy Lessons because they come in little colorful books his size.

The third resource I’ve used to help my child learn how to read is Hooked on Phonics Ipad App. While I’m not a huge fan of their curriculum (mostly their story books are weird), I love love the letter sounds songs and the games they made for their app. Micah loves this app!

Of course, I don’t believe in forcing children to learn how to read but it’s been so fun for Micah that he’s forcing me to teach him how to read!

Now I’m not an expert at this but my younger son, Quentin is 18 months… I started asking him “What sound does M make?” and he replies with “mmmmmmm”. So I truly believe that when a child starts imitating animal sounds they can totally start learning letter sounds too! 🙂

I’ll end with my favorite scripture in Doctrine and Covenants:

D&C 88:118 …seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.

What tips and tricks do you have to teach kids how to read?

Quentin FAQ

I spend so much time talking about Micah but I have another kid named Quentin. He’s 6 months almost 7 months old. He is a very very good baby. He eats well and sleeps well. He has such a tender and gentle personality. Quentin gets frighten really easily which doesn’t help having a loud two year old around. Micah really likes to scare Quentin. Quentin is also very tough because he has to withstand wrestles and toys being thrown at him. Poor little guy. He can sit but has no desire to start crawling.

  1. Is it a girl? No, Quentin is a boy with a lot of hair. Here’s a picture of Quentin’s hair at birth.
  2. Was Quentin born with that much hair? Yes, he was born with a lot of hair! He has already had 2 hair cuts! I’ve cut off about 3.5 inches of hair already. He had hair down past his shoulders. Here are his new born pictures.
  3. Did Micah have that much hair? No, Micah was baud. See picture here.
  4. Where was Quentin Born? He was born in Ireland at the National Maternity Hospital on Holles street. [Side note: He was born on the fourth of July!… oh the irony] Here’s his birth announcement.
  5. So can he still be president of the USA? We have gotten this question so many times! But yes he can because he is solely American… no other country has claimed him to be a citizen.
  6. Is Quentin an Irish citizen? Unfortunately, no. He has an Irish birth certificate. We’d would have to go back for 2 to 3 more years before he becomes an Irish citizen.
  7. Did you plan on having a baby in Ireland? Originally, we wanted to come back to Utah to have the baby but then we fell in love with Ireland and their maternity care so decided to stay. Also, they wouldn’t let me fly internationally after I was 26 week pregnant.
  8. Did you have good maternity care in Ireland? Amazing!!! My opinion is that I had better maternity care in Ireland than in the US.
  9. Was it hard to get Quentin back to the USA? It all worked out. You can read about the miracle here.
  10. Is Quentin big for his age? Yes, he’s almost 29 inches which makes him about 100+% in height. He weighs about 20.5 pounds which is about 80%. He is the size of Micah at 1 years old! I guess we also have to take in account that he was almost 2 weeks late!
  11. Why did you name him Quentin? or Did you name him after Quentin Terrantino? It was the only name Dallin and I liked! I’ve always liked the name. There was also a store in Ireland named Super Quinn and a city name Quin in Co. Clare Ireland. We thought we would call him Quin but when Quentin came we have stuck with Quentin. No, we didn’t name him after Quentin Terrantino. Sometimes we tell people that we named him after Quentin L. Cook.
  12. Why is Quentin’s middle name Liam? I really like the name Liam. Dallin wasn’t too happy about it at first but then we found out the Liam is the Irish word for William. William is the name of Dallin’s dad. We already have a lot of nephews with the middle name of William so we went with Liam. 🙂
  13. Who does Quentin look like? Right now we don’t think Quentin looks like Micah at all. He kinda looks like Dallin but we think he mostly looks like May Bo.

We Converted a Single Stroller to Double Stroller

UPDATE 1/11/2015: By the time my younger son grew out of the carrier car seat (~12 months)… My neighbor gave us their old double stroller. It was bulky!!! I only used it for like a month until my older son preferred to walk everywhere (~3 years old). I put the basket back on the Baby Trend Expedition Jogging stroller and is currently using it as a single stroller again for my youngest and my older son prefers to walk or ride his scooter! This stroller is lasting us a long time!

UPDATE 2/4/2014: A friend suggested that you could strap on ankle weights on the front of the stroller to help with the tipping issue and to give the stroller a better center of balance. You can strap the ankle weights onto the bars next to the front wheels or onto the bars next to the base of the seat or under the base of the seat. My baby is now 7 months and I’ve used the stroller for almost 5 months now. He’s a big baby and has almost grown out of the car seat but this stroller has been a life saver for the last few months!! We also tried to put another baby carrier in the front seat. It worked great. Just remember to always put the baby in the front seat before attaching the baby on the bottom to avoid tipping issues. Also, remember to put the heavier kid in the front seat. 

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When we were in Ireland I really wanted to buy a double stroller because I knew we were going to have another baby but double strollers are so expensive! When our first child was born we spent the money to buy a new Baby Trend Expedition ELX Travel System Stroller set. It came with a stroller, matching car seat and car seat base. We like the stroller because of the big basket on the bottom and because of the big wheels. One thing that I didn’t like about the stroller is that it’s too heavy to be a jogging stroller. I’ve tried multiple times to go jogging with this stroller and the front wheel is wobbly and not aligned properly. However, this stroller is good for casual walks and is great for shopping! After baby#2 was born, I felt constrained inside because we didn’t have a double stroller yet. One day, this idea came to me out of the blue like inspiration from heaven. I felt like God knew I wanted a double stroller and he provided a way for me to make my single stroller into a double stroller.

First, we went to Lowes. The people there were super excited to help us with our project. We eventually found a 6 inch carabiner for $2.98. They hardware guy at Lowes also told me they sell them at Babies R Us as “Mommy Hooks” but they cost $6.99 each for the same thing.

DISCLAIMER: This post has nothing to do with the Baby Trend company. This is just an idea that is not covered by manufacture warranties. This stroller is NOT designed to be a double stroller and has its flaws. This may damage your stroller and or car seat. I am not responsible to any injuries, deaths or damages if you choose to try this idea. Another hazard is that this may cause damage to your car seat locking mechanism which would result in safety issues while using it with your car seat base as most manufactures don’t recommend you locking your car seat into shopping carts and ect. Using your stroller like this may also void your manufacture warranty. Use this idea at your own risk.

For this project all you need is:

Here a video on how we made the stroller:

Here are the written instructions with pictures.

  1. Take off the basket that comes with the stroller. It should snap right off the front then there are two pins holding the basket in the back on the sides. Press the pins in and the basket comes off without ruining the stroller or the basket.
  2. Put on the brakes so the stroller doesn’t move while you’re attaching the car seat.
  3. Change the car seat handle to the up 90 degree position and attach the carabiners to each side of the handles. 
  4. Hook the car seat indents to the axle of the back wheel of the stroller. 
  5. Hook the carabiners to the stroller as shown in the pictures  
  6. Put the toddler in FIRST because with the car seat attached makes the stroller back heavy so it could tip. However, it is pretty stable unless someone pushes it over. After you have your toddler in you can put your baby in the car seat. ALWAYS use the seat belts just in case the stroller tips. 
  7. To take off the car seat all you have to do is un-clip the carabiners. Pull the release in the front of the car seat and take the car seat off the axle.  Remember to take the car seat/baby off first before you take the toddler off to prevent tipping.

I’ve used this stroller for 2 months and I love it. I’ve gotten really good at attaching the car seat and detaching it. It only cost us 6 bucks to transform our stroller into a double stroller and I expect the stroller to last until my baby grows out of the car seat. The stroller is also very compacted compared to a normal double stroller. This double stroller can also get through doors.

So there you have it, a single stroller that converts to a double stroller. There are some obvious flaws to this double stroller idea because this stroller is NOT designed to be a double stroller. Here are some things to consider:

  • The tipping issue as discussed above. However, the stroller is pretty stable as long as you have the toddler in front before you put the baby in the car seat. Whenever I have just the baby in the car seat, I’m just extremely cautious that the toddler doesn’t tip the stroller over with the baby inside.
  • The brakes are harder to access with the car seat attached but all you have to do is bend down and use your hands.
  • You can keep the carabiners clipped on the car seat or stroller to safe keeping.
  • Using this idea cause casual damage/scratches to the stroller but it’s just like how any other well used stroller would be.
  • Tuck the car seat strap on the bottom of the car seat under the car seat cover so you don’t step on it.
  • The car seat does stick out a bit so it takes some adjusting before you stop hitting it with your feet but I’ve gotten use to is and I don’t kick it anymore.
  • You don’t have a big basket anymore and because you don’t have a basket don’t be tempted to set heavy things in the cup holders. Really heavy things place on top of the cup holders could tip your stroller over.
  • So far this design only works for the Baby Trend Expedition ELX version of the stroller. We tried it on a Baby Trend Expedition Jogging stroller and it didn’t work.
  • Try attaching and detaching the car seat a few times before trying to do it with a baby as it takes some practice to get the gripping right.
  • Again this could cause damage to the car seat locking mechanism which would be a big hazard while using the car seat in your car. You can also try strapping your car seat instead of using the car seat base or use a different car seat in the car to prevent issues with using a damaged car seat.
  • I also wouldn’t recommend jogging with this stroller especially with the car seat attached to the bottom.

Again read the DISCLAIMER message above before trying this idea. This stroller has not been safety test. This is just a “make it do” idea. May be someone can convince Baby Trend to make a stroller like this for me. Let me know what discoveries you find!

Things to do with 21 Month Old Toddler

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Micah is a brilliant little child. He is 21 months old. He can:

  • Count from 1 to 6 skip to 9 then 10
  • Knows, says, sings, and recognizes all the ABCs (Struggles with W… he thinks it’s M)
  • Match colors
  • Match shapes
  • Knows his basic shapes: Triangle, Square, Star, Circle, Moon, Heart
  • Knows his colors: Green, Blue, Purple, Orange, Yellow, Red
  • Knows animals and animal sounds: Cow, Pig, Duck, Sheep, Dog, Cat, Elephant, Giraffe, Penguin, Fish, Lion, Tiger, Bear… oh my! The list goes on.
  • Loves to read pictures in his book (example: A – Apple, B – Ball…)
  • He loves to point out letters and numbers where ever we go!
  • He loves to count his toy cars
  • He loves to sign to songs: Wheels on the Bus, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbean, Nephi’s Courage, Wise Man/Foolish Man, I love to see the Temple, Open Shut Them, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes… are just a few of his favorites.
  • He knows the difference between a: fire truck, race car, ambulance, bus, train, tractor, van
  • He can make different noises for “car sounds”: Beep Beep! Boom! Vroom! Zoom! 
  • He can spend an hour organizing things

Micah has always done well to routines and he is really good with verbal prompts: 

  • Are you hungry?
  • Are you tired?
  • It’s nap time, close your eyes and go to sleep.
  • It’s night night time
  • It’s still night night time (for the odd times he wakes up in the night)
  • Close the door
  • Go back to your room
  • Clean up your toys
  • Do you want water?
  • Do you want to read a book?
  • Say “Bye Bye” to ______ (We say bye bye to everything)
  • Dada has to go “Bye Bye”
  • Can you say Hi?
  • Fold your arms
  • It’s time to pray

Lately, I’ve realized that Micah needs to be playing, stimulated, or learning every minute of the day. Whenever he gets bored then he starts throwing a tantrum. He needs more than just play time with toys. I recently felt inspired to add structure into his daily routine by making his play time into learning time. I try hard to make sure Micah never gets bored.  It has worked so well! Here are some ideas I’ve come up with:

  • Singing Time
  • Story Time
  • Homemade Car Mat
  • Matching Colors with his toys
  • I spy games
  • Name the object game
  • Homemade ABC flashcards
  • Homemade Shape Matching
  • Homemade Puzzles
  • Water Play Time
  • Cooking Time
  • Laundry Time
  • Cleaning Time
  • Building Blocks
  • Counting Toys
  • Youtube Time
  • Scripture Study Time
  • Snack Time (Creative Snacks)
  • Library
  • Park
  • Playing with Balls
  • Building Forts
  • Zoo

I will alternate activities throughout the day and week. It has worked so well that Micah wants his own free time. The last few days he has been going into his room for 30 to 45 minutes and he’ll close his door to play with his toys by himself. I didn’t know what to do with myself! I thought he was making trouble but really he just wanted time to himself. 🙂

What do you do with your toddlers?

Early Potty Training for Boys – Where to start?!

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This is Micah. He is 19 months old and he can go pee in a bucket. He only wears a diaper to nap, when we go out, and bed time. I wouldn’t say that he’s “potty trained” but it’s definitely a start! If you’re reading this, I’m telling you right now that I’m not an expert. I only have very little experience and what worked for us might not work for you. I’m writing this post mostly for my sake so I don’t forget when I do this the next time around. 🙂

Also, if you’re potty training a girl… this post probably won’t help you very much.

Why did we start so early?

I’ve read lots of criticism about early potty training. There’s a lot of negative opinion out there warning people not to start potty training too early. However, both my husband and I felt very strongly that we should start teaching Micah. Micah was getting really horrible diaper rashes and wearing diapers was not helping.

It hasn’t really been easy. It has tested my patience and self control in may ways. I definitely don’t think early potty training is for everyone. It’s taken some time sacrifice and lots of work but, recently, it has paid off for us!

What worked for us?

  • I started by taking of his diaper and letting him run around with a naked bum.  (Scary! I know!)
  • I got a bucket… yes a bucket not a potty. Also, I got lots of paper towels and disinfectant.
  • Then I gave him lots (I mean lots) of water, juice, and milk. This allowed Micah to go every 15 to 20 minutes sometimes.
  • I watched out for his “gotta go” signs. Micah would cross his legs, squat, or hold himself.
  • I watched the clock and kept track on paper when he needed to go. I saw a pattern really fast of when he needed to pee and when he needed to poop.
  • I tried to keep him contained in one area when I knew he needed to go soon. I read him books, watched youtube videos, or let him play with the Ipad in the kitchen next to the bucket.
  • I was on alert and had the bucket ready to catch his discharge at all times.
  • Every time Micah was going, I tried my best to catch his pee or poop in the bucket. Trust me… this wasn’t always easy and I missed a lot! When you miss that’s where the paper towels and disinfectant come in. 🙂
  • Afterwards, I would show him what he did, congratulate him, and give him a piece of chocolate.
  • This helped Micah pay attend to what is going on with his body and soon he figured out how to use those muscles. He also figured out fast that he got chocolate every time he went pee or poop in the bucket. I was trying to be really nice and encouraging at first so I would give him chocolate even if he missed the bucket but then as he got better I would only give him chocolate when he made it into the bucket.
  • Then after a while of doing this catching thing… Micah learned that he can control his bladder muscles!
  • I slowly cut Micah back to normal amount of liquids but I still kept time on his bowel movements. I notice what time during a normal day he needs to go without filling him up with juice. For Micah, it is poop/pee right when he wakes up, then pee ~every 1.5 hours until nap time… ect.
  • By now I could give him underwear which is really nice to prevent him from touching his private parts but not so nice because it’s an extra thing to worry about.
  • Now, when I know it’s time and I see the “gotta go” signs, all I have to do is help Micah take off the underwear and prompted him “Do you need to go pee?” Then I show him the bucket. He goes to the bucket, aims, and pees. Afterwards, he points to the cabinet where the chocolate is and ask me for one. 🙂
  • I also started to say “sssshhhhh” to encourage him to start going when he’s next to the bucket. I don’t really know if it works but it’s just what I’ve read in the books. I also make sure to use the same potty terminology so he understands what I’m taking about.
  • We’re still working on Micah to sit on a real potty to poop but it’s pretty easy to catch that too since it’s only two times a day.

What didn’t work for us?

  • I read online that I could try putting Micah on the toilet/potty every 15 minutes. This got him really frustrated and angry with me.
  • Making Micah sit on the potty/toilet in general didn’t work for us. I tried to read him books on the potty but sometimes it took hours and nothing would happen. Other times he would just go right after he got off the potty.
  • Rushing him to the potty/toilet didn’t work because it scared him and made him frustrated. He would tense up and not do anything.
  • Freaking out every time he peed on the floor didn’t work. At a point Micah was afraid of me and didn’t want to be near me when he needed to go. He would literally go hide in the corner because he was scared of me.
  • Not giving Micah enough fluids was bad because I would be waiting and waiting and waiting and nothing would happen.
  • Giving underwear too early didn’t work because he would just think it’s a diaper pee all over the place.
  • A intense potty training day didn’t work for us because in the long run I needed to show Micah consistency.
  • Too many reminders to go pee didn’t work because I would sound like a broken record and Micah would become resistant.
  • Being overly excited when he had success was actually discouraging. A simple “Good job” made Micah feel better than being overly exaggerating.
  • Potty training on days I felt stressed or overwhelmed was a disaster… on those days I find it better for Micah to be in a diaper so I don’t stress him out! 🙂
  • If I ever got too forceful in anyway, Micah would rebel quickly. We’ve tried our best to allow Micah to choose whether or not he wanted to be potty trained.

Now what?

I have no idea… just keep trying I guess. I don’t know what the future brings. One big thing I’ve learned is God is here to help even with potty training! From the beginning we felt inspired to start potty training. My husband and I prayed about it a lot. We prayed for help. We prayed that Micah would be ready. We prayed that I would be patient. My husband and I both received inspiration on how to start potty training. We counseled together when ideas fail and then celebrate together when things start working out!

What has worked for you? 🙂