Mem Fox is a successful children’s book author and literacy expert. But her expertise in Reading Magic (Harcourt 2001) comes across as personal and passionate, mostly because she writes foremost from her position as a mother. Her main point in writing this book is to read aloud to our children, making it a fun time and a game, as parents let their children learn from the words that surround them in their daily lives.
I loved reading this book. Nothing Ms Fox said was surprising or new to me. Back in 2009, I started a project to read my then 26-month-old son 1000 books before he started kindergarten. Just over 18 months later, we’d read 1000 different books together (that I’d recorded, at least) and he was reading on his own. Everything Ms Fox suggests is thus backed up by our application of it! It was not a struggle. It was fun. (more…)
Raisin and I are only done with a little more than 40 of the lessons for the Kindergarten language arts program Logic of English Foundations. However, he enjoys it so much that I feel it is time I discussed it briefly on this blog.
LoE Foundations is an “all in one” language arts for 4-6 year old homeschool teachers or classroom teachers. Beginning with phonics, Foundations teaches children to read, to write (both a manuscript and a cursive instructional workbook are available for the handwriting instruction), and to grasp the basics of spelling. So far, I have not encountered any grammatical instruction or lessons on the mechanics of writing but neither of those are typically included in a kindergarten level program, I don’t believe. The program is to have about 180 lessons. After the first 40, students have learned how to write the 26 lowercase letters of the alphabet and can successfully read a large number of words by sounding out the phonograms. (more…)
Today’s mashup of Cybils nominees brings us a favorite topic of my son (trains) and some books with surprizes of disappointment. Both of the Oh No! books are unique in art style and memorable in their writing.
But first I have to bring you my son’s favorite topic: trains. The first of these books is a truly silly story that all will love, even if trains are not your favorite thing as they are for Raisin. (more…)
It has been more than a month since I finished reading Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman (published 1998). By waiting to write my thoughts, I may not have as many specific examples and quotes to share with my readers. However, by letting the book percolate in my mind as I went about my life, I can even better declare that Gottman’s slim volume is a helpful and essential reminder of the role of parents in the lives of young children.
While parents and teachers often devote lots of time to teaching academics and well rounded activities (from music to athletics), how often have parents considered the ways they are helping their children develop emotional intelligence? In a world were people are increasingly pulled in a variety of directions, the ability to regulate emotions and control one self in a complicated world is essential. Gottman’s book helps me see my opportunities for teaching my kids. It also gives me realistic ways to implement the teaching of emotional strength. (more…)
Because I am studying American history with my young son this year, I find myself drawn to books about the subjects I’m teaching him. Obviously, my studies are simply for my own enrichment and enjoyment; much of what I’m learning will not be taught to my five-year-old child.
This was our second week of official school, and we focused on the Native Americans. My son enjoyed a few picture books, which I may discuss at another point. My book of the week on Native Americans (I did also read 1491 a few weeks ago) was one from the Very Short Introduction series from Oxford University Press: North American Indians by Theda Perue and Michael D. Green (August 2010). As is the case with all books in this series, the authors introduced the subject, touching on the history, the various perspectives, and their own take on matters, in less than 150 pages.
From my perspective, North American Indians was a wonderful introduction to American Indian issues. A chapter discussed the known and unknown facts of the Indians in North America before Columbus, and subsequent chapters discussed the subsequent downfall of the Natives as Europeans and then Americans dominated the land. It was fascinating to me to see how simple cultural differences led to the Europeans’ domination: in situations where Natives were simply treating people with respect, Europeans interpreted their acts as weakness. The last chapter talked about current cultural challenges faced by American Indians, as well as the recent cultural renaissance in literature and art.
Obviously, in 130 pages, no book can do more than only introduce such a complex issue. There is little discussion of various tribes and heritages, and even major events in history are glossed over. No more can be expected. I am also not familiar with either author, and I don’t know their relationship to the Native American communities today. I don’t know if there is bias in this book. From my perspective, it seemed well rounded and fair. However, despite the brevity of the book, I found it to be a helpful one to help me better understand the Native American position in the world today.
I wish that the Europeans and then the Americans had not been so insensitive to those already living here and that the great umber of complex cultures could have survived to teach us today. It would be incredible if we could better understand. As it is, we must recognize the tragedies of history.