Lily and Oak, but we were real-life friends first...as in we lived within a block or two of each other for somewhere around 5 years and hung out all the time.) Her oldest is about 2 years older than Firecracker, and being two years behind in the parenting department, I've been super impressed with the things Lisa did to get her son reading. She had researched different early reading and preschool materials, and she helped organize a weekly preschool co-op. Lisa is one of those friends who always seems to know the best place to go to get the best deal for everything, so when I wanted to start doing early reading things with Firecracker, I went to her for a list of recommendations...among them BOB books and Happy Phonics, both of which we've loved. Fast forward 5 years to now. While chatting online with Lisa about the upcoming Read-Along, she told me she'd never really felt successful at getting her oldest to read, and he hadn't REALLY caught on to reading until he got an amazing first grade teacher.
I'll be honest...I was REALLY surprised...shocked almost. Not because it had taken a while for her son to really get good at reading, but because we'd hung out face-to-face almost everyday...for years...and I hadn't realized it was such a struggle with her son. Maybe I'm just a terrible friend and listener...but I don't think I'm that bad.
So what this brings me to is that things aren't always what they appear, and we tend to compare ourselves to someone else's best. If Lisa and I hung out everyday and I still didn't have a clear perspective of the struggles she had teaching her son to read...it's even harder to have a clear perspective of someone else's life you only know through a blog. I'm not saying that blogs are fake, just that you have to take them for what they are. For the most part, you see the best of my parenting, teaching, pre-schooling, crafting, creativity, etc on this blog. I tend not to post about my moments of failure (of which there are many) as a parent...not because I'm trying to hide them, but because they're not inspiring, and I like to focus on my successes to keep myself upbeat and hopefully inspire others. So while my blog is a REAL glimpse at my family, please know that it is a REAL glimpse of my family at it's BEST.
If you ever get the feeling reading my blog (or someone else's) that "I could never be like that," just remember that I'm not as good as my blog makes me sound...certainly not every minute of every day (although it would be nice.) I'll be honest, it's actually a little embarrassing to me that people I REALLY know read my blog, because they know what I'm really like.
So in the effort to keep it real...
I've never really come up with a good name for what I do with my kids involving books. We call it "pre-school" at our house...but it's nothing like the organized preschool that many of you do in your homes, and we don't follow any particular curriculum.
ANYBODY CAN DO THIS...once in a while...sometimes!
I "do pre-school" with my kids as much or more because I enjoy it as I do because I think it's good for them.
I have ambitions to focus on particular pre-school themes for a week or two. I think this would be great because it would give my kids a deeper understanding of a topic...but that never seems to happen because:
- The books come in at different times from our library. Sometimes it takes a few weeks.
- I see a book that is just SO awesome that we have to do it NOW.
- I'm just not in the mood to do the activity I planned.
- I don't have the materials I need yet...and it will be a week or two or three until I go shopping. (We live in a tiny town.)
- If I waited until I had all the "winter" books and supplies I needed to do a "winter" week...winter would probably be over.
- I have a lot of other responsibilities that don't involve books, crafts, or blogs.
- I'm worn out from the day.
- I'll do it as soon as I'm done with __________...but I'm never done.
- I'm busy blogging about something else.
- The table or whatever work surface I need is too dirty...and I'm worn out.
- I have NO CLUE what book I want to use for the next day, so how could I get an activity ready?!?
- I'm working on some craft project which is not educational in any way for my kids, but I'm having fun and don't want to stop.
- Did I mention I'm worn out from the day?
- By the time I get the house clean enough to do an activity, the kids are fried and need to take a nap.
- We have too many errands to run and by the time we get home, the kids are fried and need to take a nap.
- I have absolutely no idea what book we should read (even though there are tons on our shelves).
- I'm really NOT in the mood to get the paints out.
- I didn't get enough sleep last night, so I'm tired.
I know this post is forever long...but one more thing before I leave you hanging...I got an email a while ago from a mom trained in Montessori techniques asking for Montessori advice for her 12-18 month old daughter. She'd been getting discouraged that her daughter didn't seem interested, and she loved my blog and wanted some ideas. Okay...this was super flattering to get, but I don't know anything about Montessori. Everything I know about teaching my kids has come from word of mouth from other moms. We emailed back and forth a bit. I think I may have been able to help her a little...although I'm sure my advice was not what she was expecting, and she may have been a little disappointed with it.
I think it was great advice though...and I'll give it to you in my next post...because
If you're just now joining us, be sure to visit our Read-Along Archives to see the books we've already read.