Tag Archives: children

How I became “The Chill Mom” (AKA: I’m A Chill Mom?!)

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In the past few weeks three different people made similar comments: “I wish I could be as chill as you about my parenting.”

tumblr_npcyrsx6kv1tq4of6o1_400My thoughts, in order of their occurrence:

  1. I was standing at the bottom of the stairs screaming so loud my throat hurt yesterday. I am so NOT chill.
  2. Did she just insinuate that I’m lazy?
  3. Oh, Lord. Someone is going to call CPS on me for not paying enough attention to my kids.
  4. You know… I really am much more relaxed than I used to be.

Let me be the first to say I do not think I have the market on awesome parenting. I have made some monumental mistakes that I truly wish I could go back in time and fix. That said, as kid #1 just turned 18 and became an official “adult” and kid #4 is a big boy in kindergarten, I think it’s fair to say I’ve learned a great deal.

Is my way the only way? The best way? The way you should do it?

Don’t be silly!

You do you. I’m just sharing a piece of my journey, because… you know… words. It’s what I do.

So, rewind to 2002. I was 24 years old and in love with a recently divorced sexy bartender. He introduced me to his two children, ages 2 and 3. One of them growled at me. The other one burst into tears.

Welcome to motherhood.

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Over the next few years, I became determined to prove to all the people around me that I was a good mom, or at least as good of a mom as my husband’s ex, who really is a fantastic mother.

I did what I knew.

I gave them food, and told them to clean their plate.

When we were in public I made it understood that they were to be calm and respectful.

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Me, trying to get my kids in bed.

At nap-time there was no getting out of bed, and when it was playtime they were to play nicely without ever fighting.

It’s the same rules my mom had for me but, somehow, while she seemed to manage it effortlessly, all those rules turned me into a bit of an ogre.

I heard myself screaming at the children, and I couldn’t seem to keep my voice under control.

I felt like I was constantly badgering them, forcing them to live up to some perfect standard of what a family should be. We fell short of that standard every single day and, as a result, I went to bed every night feeling like a total failure. 

Then God and nature threw us a happy curveball and a new baby was on the way.

How was I going to deal with another child? One that was with us 100% of the time instead of 3-5 days a week?

Lord, have mercy.

Shortly after the baby was born in 2004, my son was playing outside, making bad choices; the kind of bad choices that could result in thousands of dollars of damage to our house; the kind of bad choices that could have ended up with glass raining down on my sweet, adorable, good-natured little five year old. I threw open the door, stormed onto the porch, and called his name.

I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say that a veil was lifted and I saw, before me, one of the most honestly kind-hearted little humans I’ve ever known more terrified than I had ever seen anyone in my entire life. Literally.

I was shattered into a million pieces.

Who was I, that these extraordinary people God had let into my life lived in terror of me?

My change was not overnight. It’s still happening.

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2004 was the time of Dr. Phil, Oprah Winfrey, and The People’s Court. I didn’t work much then, so I often had the TV on as I went about my day.

Over and over, I heard the same themes:

“You are the adult. You can’t afford to lose control.”

“Trust yourself to know what your child needs. Don’t worry so much about the advice of others.”

“Your children are people, too. Give them the grace to learn how to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a safe way.”

The first conscious step I remember taking was to stop screaming. I would talk. I would be firm, if need be, but I would not scream.

If you were paying attention at the beginning, you know that I am still working on that. However, I cut it down A LOT. I would catch myself in mid-sentence and stop talking until I could get my tone under control.

I would kneel down in front of my child and ask them things like, “why are you so upset that I want you to wear this dress?”

To my surprise and delight, when I stopped screaming (or… you know… gave it my honest best shot), my kids stopped screaming, too.

Sometimes they told me things I’d never understood before. “The tag on that dress makes my back itch really bad.” A simple problem to fix. One that did not require WWIII to solve.

When I started to talk WITH my kids, instead of placing my demands on them, the most fantastic thing happened.

I got to know them a little better. I understood that some foods were OK, if presented in the right way. Some had been resisted because they were hard to eat. Cutting them into tiny bites made it easier.

Then the super extra bonus came!

When the kids and I started acting happier and more calm, my husband did, too!

Fast forward to 2016.

I love this quirky kid! I don't ever want to see her learn to conform.

I love this quirky kid! I don’t ever want to see her learn to conform.

My daughter desperately wanted to wear pajama pants to the airport last week, when we went to pick up her father. Pajama pants with an athletic shirt and a fancy scarf. It’s NOT what I would have dressed her in, but in the long term, did it matter one little bit? She was modestly covered. The clothes were appropriate to the weather. I made zero resistance.

My son dances in the grocery store. I don’t mean he wiggles a little. I’m talking about a full-on Michael Jackson Beat-it routine in the canned soup aisle. I remind him to watch for people and applaud him when he takes a bow. Who is he hurting?

My older son wanted to stay up well into the night every night all summer, practicing guitar and writing music. I let him sleep in every morning we didn’t have anywhere to be. In the afternoon he was asked to help out with chores and he never once complained about it. Why did he have to sleep and rise according to my schedule?

I often have conversations that go like this:

“Mama, can I go for a bike ride?”

“Sure.”

“How far can I go?”

“Where do you want to go?”

“How about this block and that one?”

“That’s fine. Please don’t cross the highway or go anywhere else without coming home to talk to me about it.”

“OK.”

That’s it. Done deal. If I had said, “Yes, but you can only go here and there,” there would be a huge argument because that’s not where they want to go. Of course, if they wanted to go somewhere I didn’t feel was safe (and there are certainly a few of those places around), I would draw the line, but because I give them freedom to be them – their own people, with their own thoughts, opinions, and desires – the arguments are fewer and further in-between.

Is it all running through the tulips, holding hands, and laughing.

Ha!

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No!

Yesterday I spent five minutes stomping around the house telling them all what a bunch of slobs they are.

Every day I kick myself a little for the times when I am not the mom I aspire to be.

No one is perfect.

But in the past 14 years I have come to realize something important.

Kids are people, too.

Yes. I’m slow. I probably should have figured that out a little faster, but… seriously… we expect kids to go where we tell them to go, eat what we put in front of them, wear what we choose for them to wear, hang out with the people we decide they can hang out with, listen to the lessons we think they need to learn, go to bed when we think they should sleep, and Heaven forbid they ever have a day when they just wake up on the wrong side of the bed. They should be polite and respectful toward us 100% of the time, no matter what.

Now treat an adult that exact same way.

That’s not a life. That’s prison.

Kids need a framework. They need someone to explain in no uncertain terms that biting is not an acceptable solution to an argument and that it is NEVER a good idea to cross the road without looking. They need rules… AND they need freedom to figure out who they are and what their place is, in this big, often scary world.

When I learned to accept the personhood of my children, it became a great deal easier to just chill out. And if someone thinks I’m lazy because I don’t parent like they do, I’d happily let them step into my shoes for a day and see that giving 100% of your heart every day is NEVER easy, no matter what label you slap on your style.

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Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama onTwitter or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

Want to REALLY know what my busy typing fingers have been working on lately? Visit my author page for oodles of short stories and all the latest info on the Heaven And Earth Series!

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119 Reasons Why We Homeschool (Year Five)

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This fall marks the beginning of our fifth year as homeschoolers. We could never have guessed, when we started, where this journey would take us or how awesome it would be for our family. We have seen our daughter blossom and grow and we’ve all learned far more than we expected about the world and ourselves.

I’m not going to lie. Our daughter started sixth grade last year. I think I was laboring under the delusion that, removed from the drama of school life my adolescent child would poop rainbows and cry glitter. Yeah… not so much. Puberty is hard. It makes a person crazy. Parenting a crazy person is tough. Being their parent/teacher/principal/etc is nearly enough to drive a person to drink.

Did I think maybe it was time to give us a break from each other and send her back to school?

I did. Daily.

But I didn’t do it, because we had this list.

This list came about as something to cling to when the bad days come. Before we ever started homeschooling, a friend advised us to make a list of 100 reasons. “If you don’t have 100, you probably don’t have enough,” she said. “The day will come when you’ll be asking yourself why you’re doing this and you need something to look back to.”

And, really, if I’m being honest, there was maybe one hour a day that was quite stressful. It usually revolved around math.

I can put on my big girl pants and deal with one tough hour a day. Bonus: a new reason for the list (see #__).

If last year was landmark for our daughter reaching “middle school,” this year is a big deal because our son is starting kindergarten.

We’re pretty chill when it comes to kindergarten. He has school books and we work in them every day but his days are centered a lot more around playing and exploring his world than sitting at a desk, studying. He’s starting to read and understand basic math and counting skills. As long as he keeps moving forward we’re content with that for now.

It is important to me to make it understood that this list is not meant as a criticism of those who have children in public school or of the school district in which we live. I thank God that we live in a nation with CHOICES. We can choose what is best for our own families at any given time. For us, for now, that’s homeschool.

You’ll notice that some of our reasons are very serious. Some of them are quite silly. Some of them are totally focused on our children. Some are selfish on my part. They’re all reasons. They all played a part. Would I homeschool, just because I think public schools waste paper. Of course not! Read, knowing that not all of these weigh on our hearts equally.

The list has changed a little every year. Originally, there were one hundred reasons. Over the years, some of those reasons have become invalid and other reasons we’d never guessed at became important to us.

Without further ado…

100 Reasons (+18) Why We Homeschool

1.  We love spending time with our kids and would miss them if they were gone all day each day.

2. Our daughter wants to be homeschooled. Our son doesn’t know anything else.

3. We want our children to have the opportunity to explore their passions in great depth.

4. We want to teach them to choose healthy foods and eat them SLOWLY and WITH ENJOYMENT (not gobble down processed lunch during a 20 minute break).

5. We want them to have large windows of time each day to explore their imaginations and play – not just a 20 minute recess where they’re not allowed to run too fast or swing side to side due to liability concerns.

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6. As much as possible, we want to avoid having them compare their possessions to the possessions of others.

7. We think that 7+ hours of school plus and hour on the bus is too much time for a child (or an adult, for that matter) to sit and listen (as opposed to playing, questioning, exploring, etc).

8. It seems to us that homework, after 7+ hours of school, seems excessive and unproductive.

9. We want our family to be free to travel when and where we like.

10. With Handsome Hippie Hubby’s work schedule he would never see them if they were at school until 3pm each day.

11. The one meal we can eat together, as a family, every day is lunch.

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12. We want to teach them to be responsible to the environment in practice, not just through lessons.

13. We want them to learn practical skills like cooking, gardening, sewing, etc and there is little time to teach those when they’re away at public school all day and such things are no longer a part of the curriculum in our local schools.

14. Sometimes life makes you stay up late and we want them to be able to sleep in or nap when their little growing bodies needs to.

15. They watch a lot of classic movies in music class and we want to be the ones to experience those with them.

16. They watch a lot of movies in music class and we want them to actually learn to play/sing/appreciate music.

17. J-Rex can’t sit still. He can’t. It’s physically impossible for him. He wiggles and figets and taps his feet, even when (especially when) he’s totally focused. We don’t want him to feel “naughty” because he’s a busy little boy.

18. We don’t want them to have to deal with the repercussions of being in a large class with a few “naughty” children that monopolize the teachers’ time.

19. Most of their closest friends are homeschooled.

20. We hate sending them away to school when they’re feeling sick, but not “sick enough” to stay home.

21. We hate sending them into a building full of children feeling “a little sick” but not “sick enough” to stay home.

22. J-Rex’s little body struggles with vaccines and he’s behind. Putting him in public school could create health issues for him and those around him.

23. Our daughter, who is a great reader and writer, should never have to slow down to wait for other children to catch up.

24. Our daughter, who struggles with math, sometimes needs more time and attention than her teachers can give her.

25. We were unhappy with many of the things we saw or heard about happening on the school bus when our daughter was in public school.

26. We want our children to have a broader, less politicized, view of history than they will learn in public school.

27. We don’t want our child to use anti-bacterial hand soap several times a day (though we are trying to teach both of them to embrace the use of regular soap.).

28. We think it’s unhealthy that children sit in a swelteringly hot classroom in the middle of winter.

29. We live in an awesome community surrounded by awesome communities with a near infinite amount of resources to use as teaching tools.

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30. The whole family will gets to learn and grow when we’re “doing school.”

31. We want religion, spirituality, prayer and meditation to be a regular part of our children’s education.

32. We want to foster our children’s differences that they may harness them and direct them to the greatest good of their fellow human. Not just learn to be exactly like everyone else.

33. When REAL disaster/crisis/tragedy strikes (ie – the tornadoes that struck a nearby town a few years ago) we want them to know that it is not only OK but RIGHT and GOOD to drop EVERYTHING and rush to the aid of our neighbors.

34. It will make me feel like the years of my life and tens of thousands of dollars I spent on my own education weren’t a total waste.

35. I learned advanced math. I NEVER used it (I told you so!). And forgot every bit of it. But no one ever taught me how to balance a checkbook or calculate the interest on a mortgage  and I don’t want my children to have that same experience.

36. Public schools in our district have cut resources for art teachers, and we believe in the power of artistic expression.

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37. We want to know IMMEDIATELY if our children are struggling with a problem or social situation – not after it has reached a crisis state.

38. We think people learn more by experiencing something (ie. a visit to a farm is more memorable than a lesson about “where veggies come from.”) and it’s not reasonable to expect a teacher to schlep 35 kids all over the countryside several times a week.

39. We think intuition is a valid and valuable tool in the human mind that is suppressed by “institutionalized” learning.

40. Homeschooling forces me to be a more organized person.

41. Seeing my organizational skills, my children will learn to be organized. (It’s a great theory, isn’t it?)

42. Some days, watching the morning news together, and then having the time to discuss it, can be a more valuable education than an entire day in a classroom learning to figure the degree of angles in a triangle.

43. We believe strongly in the implied power in the sciences of noetics and quantum physics and this isn’t taught in public school.

44. We believe a child should have the opportunity to ask every question they can and public school teachers don’t have time to deal with that, so curiosity gets suppressed.

45. One of the smartest, most accomplished scientists of all time said, “imagination is more important than knowledge,” but public schools focus almost exclusively on the development of knowledge at the expense of imagination.

46. We want our daughter, who has a very entrepreneurial spirit, to have time and energy to experience the creation of business and the power of free enterprise.

47. We believe a child should be free to express themselves in all sorts of silly, crazy, creative ways through their play and dress and public school places a great many restrictions in these areas.

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48. With internet and virtual learning, they learn from a much more culturally, philosophically, educationally diverse group of teachers than they would encounter in a local public school.

49. We don’t like putting our child on a bus every day. But especially on days that are foggy, snowy, icy, etc.

50. Many of the people we respect most in the public school system have told us that, if they had young children, they would not put them in public school.

51. Public school teachers, no matter how good, smart, loving, patient, etc must conform to the state standards no matter if they agree or not.

52. Sometimes our children are “naughty” and teachers have neither the time nor authority to properly discipline then and/or the teachers’ definition of “naughty” and the accompanying discipline are different from what we teach at home.

53. Public school in America is designed to create success in an industrial age economy, but the industrial age is over.

54. EVERY study done shows homeschool children achieve higher academically.

55. EVERY study done shows that homeschool children are better socialized (fit into society more successfully).

56. EVERY study done shows that homeschool children have a greater sense of civic responsibility.

Click here for some interesting homeschool stats.

57. We want our children to learn how to use a computer to do more than play games.

58. We want our children to know how to do things without a computer.

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60. We feel it’s more important for our children to know how and where to find information than to memorize facts for a standardized test.

61. We never want our children to go through the experience of “feeling stupid” for not understanding something without a little help.

62. We are able to introduce foreign language studies at an earlier age as homeschoolers.

63. We don’t want our children exposed to sex, drugs, violence, etc any earlier than necessary.

64. Time is valuable and public school wastes time (bus rides, moving between classes, waiting in line, etc).

65. We think it’s a bad idea to “stop learning” for 3 months out of the year, but a good idea to have lots of fun experiences all year long.

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66. Some of the most mature, intelligent, respectful, strong-minded teens and young adults I know have been homeschooled since early childhood.

67. We want our children to know that being a dancer (painter, musician, house-wife) is just as valid as being a doctor (teacher, accountant, etc).

68. In the event of a crisis (tornado, fire, etc) our children would be with us and we could make sure they’re as safe as possible.

69. We want our children to be able to think for herself and know how to question authority (even us) without being disrespectful.

70. Our children are unique individuals and deserve a uniquely designed education.

71. As parents, want a greater say in what our children do and do not not learn.

72. Some teachers are burnt out and just putting in their time and we don’t want our children to be “just put up with.”

73. We want to put the money spent on school supplies, field trips, etc to go toward those items we believe will be most beneficial for our children.

74. I really hate packing lunches and snacks every day.

75. We want to be the ones to teach our children how to appropriately deal with bullying, harassment, etc.

76. Homeschooling gives the whole family the opportunity and motivation to explore nearby (and sometimes far away) museums, gardens, parks, historic buildings, etc.

77. By homeschooling we are not doing things the “normal” way but we are teaching our children that there can be more than one good way to achieve a good end.

78. There are sometimes abusive adults in positions of power and we want to protect our kids from that as much as possible for as long as possible.

79. We want our children to believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and all the innocent, magical parts of childhood for as long as she can.

80. We want to avoid exposure to the annual outbreak of lice in the public school system.

81. The world, society, and technology are very different than they were 50 years ago but the style of teaching in public school is much the same.

82. In homeschool band, our daughter has had the opportunity to learn five different instruments so far, and she is playing music the public school doesn’t play until high school.

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83. The government has screwed up most everything they have ever touched, so why would I trust them not to screw up the education of my child?

84. Hitler said, “The State will take youth and give youth its own education and its own upbringing. Your child already belongs to us. What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing but this community.” “Let me control the textbooks and I will control the State.”

85. US Federal Judge Melinda Harmon said, in 1996, “Parents give up their rights when they drop the children off at public school.”

86. Shopping for classroom supplies is more fun when you know you get to keep them and use them.

87. Our child has a passion to be in community theater and their rehearsals run very late at night.

88. My husband and I both hated school and did the bare minimum to get through and we don’t want our child to feel the same way.

89. Public schools require “lock-down drills” due to the very real threat of gunmen and/or terrorists in the building.

90. The cheapest time of year to go to Disney (and many other places) is October.

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91. Homeschooling is “green.” There is less transportation, less utility use, less paper…. way way way way way less paper.

92. We want our children to understand that learning can be done anywhere, any time, at any age and be self led or assisted. It doesn’t only take place in a classroom with a teacher.

93. We have the feeling that our children have important things to teach us. “Unless ye be like a little child…..”

94. We believe that people absorb the energy of a place and public school, very often, does not have a positive energy.

95. We want our children to have “Bible” as a school subject.

96. We want our children to embrace failure with enthusiasm, and learn how to use it to move forward. School punishes failure.

97. Our daughter learns a little more every time she helps her brother learn something new. Our son learns every day when he hears us teaching his sister.

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98. Our family is always happiest when we are together.

99. If we know what our children are learning about, we can integrate that into life in so many ways for a more well-rounded and memorable learning experience.

100. We are pretty sure we’re doing OK with this homeschool thing.

101. Through the homeschool association they can take all kinds of lessons (music, sports, theater, etc) we wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.

102. Through the homeschool association they have multiple opportunities to visit with and be of service to the senior citizens in our community.

103. We travel for business often. As homeschoolers, there is much less conflict between our trips and our children’s schooling.

104. Our five year old is learning some subjects at a far younger age, because he is around when we are teaching his sister.

105. Planting season is before school lets out for summer and harvest doesn’t finish until well after the new year begins.  They would miss both if she was in public school.

106. Boys. We know we can’t shelter her forever but…

107. We’ve learned that our daughter puts up fierce resistance to certain parts of schoolwork. No one was telling us that before, but now we can work on breaking down some of those barriers and help her learn a healthier approach to dealing with the less pleasant chores in life.

108. Our daughter’s base of friends, after four years of homeschooling, includes a much wider age range of people. She is learning to interact appropriately with those much younger and much older than herself in a healthy and positive way.

109. Homeschooling has helped our whole family learn to be better stewards of our time and resources.

110. Homeschooling has given us extra opportunities to share some of our favorite books, movies, and music from our childhoods with our children.

111. Our children has had great opportunities to participate in classes with people of a wide range of ethnic, racial and regious backgrounds through homeschooling – far more so than in public school in our tiny community.

112. Our daughter loves to participate in National Novel Writing Month in November (National Novel Writer’s Month – visit Nanowrimo to participate with us!). She would struggle with the time to do that if she were in public school.

113. There are no snow days in homeschooling so we don’t need to spend half of the lovely summer making up for classes missed when it was too cold to leave the house.

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114. As homeschoolers our children get to help deliver Meals on Wheels throughout the year and we love that they have the experience of serving their elders in that way.

115. You know those statistics about, “only 1% of people with a cold get hospitalized.” That’s our son. Homeschooling gives us some (admittedly small) amount of control over what gets dragged into our house.

116. Our daughter loves playing on the homeschool volleyball team.

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117. Our children are becoming very adept at figuring out how to learn something on her own when she has an interest or need.

118. Our daughter often attends meetings and conferences with adults and interacts with them with amazing maturity. She would not be able to go to such events as often if she were in school all day.

119. Homeschooling isn’t marriage. It’s not a life-long commitment. We can opt out if/when it stops working for us.

120. Life’s too short for all work and no (or little) play. Homeschool days are always full of play!

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Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama onTwitter or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

Want to REALLY know what my busy typing fingers have been working on lately? Visit my author page for oodles of short stories and all the latest info on the Heaven And Earth Series!

My Homeschool Kids, Socializing

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If you even mention homeschool, you hear it.

“I would be afraid to homeschool. My child needs social interaction.”

“Don’t you worry about them learning to socialize?”

“How will they learn to carry themselves in the real world if they’re with you all the time?”

If you have homeschooled for any length of time you’re totally over this question.

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If you’re new to homeschooling, or just considering it, or terribly worried about your grandchild who is going to grow up to be a weird unsocialized homeschooler… this is for you.

I’d like to share the experience I had last weekend at the Kerrytown Book Festival in Ann Arbor, MI.

Source: mlive.com

Photo Source: mlive.com

My best friend invited my children and me to attend the festival with her. It sounded like a fabulous way for a car full of readers to spend a cool, sunny afternoon. We grabbed gigantic purses to hold the treasures we knew we would find and headed out into the world.

There were dozens of tables with books of every conceivable type. There were coloring books and antique books, novels of every sort and enough non-fiction to fill a library. Each table was staffed by an author, a publisher, or a representative from a book store. It was a bibliophile’s dream.

We started wandering among the tables, each of us on our own mission. I was excited to find a great fantasy or two. My BFF is a big fan of young adult fiction. T-Rex wanted to find some, “awesome boy books.” Sweet Hippie Daughter was hoping to meet some authors.

As we moved through the crowd, my children were rarely at the same table as me. They stayed close enough that I could keep an eye on them, but they had their own interests, which are different from mine. T-Rex, age four, was looking for bright colorful pictures. He was asking people about their shoes and showing off his new Kobe Bryant sneakers. (He’s a little obsessed with shoes this week.) Sweet Hippie Daughter, age ten, was speaking with fellow writers, asking what inspired them, who their publishers were, and what advice they would offer an aspiring young writer.

She booked a tentative book reading for her homeschool group with an author who’s table I’d not even seen yet.

She’s ten.

When we got home, she called one of her girlfriends and invited her to come see her new books and play computer games. They spent the next few hours scaring themselves half to death with Five Nights At Freddie’s videos.

Do you see what I’m getting at?

My child was able to spend a day SOCIALIZING with adults. Then she spend the evening socializing with her peers. People socialize. It’s just a human sort of thing to do.

Forcing a child into a room with thirty other children of the exact same age is not socialization. Not even if you make them play together at recess. Think about it. Have you never met a public school graduate who is socially awkward?

Socialization happens when a child is given the opportunity to spend time being an active member of society.

Homeschooling isn’t something that happens for a specific number of hours each day. It is a lifestyle. The vast majority of homeschool families I know bring their children into “adult” activities at a very young age. Children are encouraged to set up entrepreneurial endeavors, join mixed-age study groups, take the lead on shopping trips, conduct interviews with experts in the fields they are interested in learning about, and take responsibility to help those younger than themselves.

In short, they are encouraged to be social.

I’m curious – what are your thoughts on homeschool kids and “socialization?”

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Visit my author page for all the latest info on the Heaven And Earth Series!

Wordless Wednesday: Growing Up (Nablopomo Day 14)

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*This post is Day Fourteen of the January Nablopomo 30-day blogging challenge hosted by BlogHer.

Growing Up To Be A Man | LazyHippieMama.com

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Wordless Wednesday – “Crash” (Nablopomo Day 7)

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*This post is Day Seven of the January Nablopomo 30-day blogging challenge hosted by BlogHer.

Crash | LazyHippieMama.com

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A 3 Year Old’s Perspective On Holiday Traditions – A Guest Post by T-Rex

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Today's guest blogger is by my very favorite pre-schooler in the world. When he's not blogging, T-Rex enjoys playing with blocks and Legos, watching The Wiggles and eating random things he finds on the floor. His previous guest post is, "Reasons My Mama Is Crying."

Today’s guest blogger is my very favorite pre-schooler in the world. When he’s not blogging, T-Rex enjoys playing with blocks and Legos, watching The Wiggles and eating random things he finds on the floor. His previous guest post is, “Reasons My Mama Is Crying.”

Something screwy is going on around here. OK, let’s be honest: my family is not like other families we know. None of my friends has ever had to shoo a rabbit out of their bed or been dive-bombed by a parakeet while taking a bath. I’m starting to think it’s not “the norm” to have to clear nearly a dozen musical instruments off the dining room table in order to eat dinner. I concede the possibility that my mother spends more time moving bugs out of the house “so they can carry on with their buggy little lives” than other moms. But… seriously… something’s up.

This is M and me. He's my best friend!

This is M and me. He’s my best friend!

It all started almost a month ago. We went to my friend M’s house and ate a huge dinner. Of course, when I say, “we” I mean all of the grown ups ate a huge dinner while M and I consumed the fluffy center part of the dinner rolls while surreptitiously feeding the outer layer to the dog. Afterward, even though we hadn’t eaten a single bite of vegetables, M and I both got pie AND a cupcake. I didn’t think much about it at the time. I was too excited about going face-first into a plate full of whipped cream and bright red frosting. Looking back, though, that day was the start of the Season of Strange Stuff.

The very next day Daddy dragged a tree into our house.

That’s weird, right? I mean – this wasn’t a pretty vase of flowers or one of Mommy’s potted plants (FYI – she does NOT think it’s charming when you “pick” those and give them to her). This was a full size pine tree. It was taller than Daddy and he can ALMOST touch the moon! And that’s not even the strangest part! Daddy set this big box on the floor. I opened it up and it was full of the shiniest, sparkliest, most fabulously touchable glittery stuff I’d ever seen! Mommy called them “ornaments” and she must have told me 700 times that day to be very gentle with them. Geez! I tell you! Shatter a few glasses and plates and the woman has trust issues for life. So we’ve got the tree and we’ve got all of these lovely glass ornaments and (you may not believe this but I swear it’s true) then my parents and sister started hanging the ornaments on the tree. In our living room. I could not make this stuff up!

Just about the time I was getting used to seeing the giant tree in the living room, Mommy started telling me to repeat after her: “Today we light the candle of hope.” I would say it and then she would tell me, “great job! Let’s try one more time, nice and loud and clear. Today we light the candle of hope.” There were no candles. I had no idea what she was talking about but, you know, I love her and I aim to please so I went along with it. Then, on a Sunday morning, right in the middle of church, she took me up on stage and handed me the microphone and I stood there with my big sister. She had a lighter in her hands. If you don’t know, this is breaking just about every rule there is, regarding Sunday morning church. It has been made clear to me, repeatedly, that I am NOT to go on the stage during church. The microphones are NOT for touching. And, under no circumstances, is ANY child allowed to hold the lighter. But there we were – big sister and me. I looked out toward the pews and not a single grown up was making a move to stop us. They were all just sitting there, like they were waiting for something to happen. I glanced over at Mommy and she whispered, “today we light…”  I remembered what she had told me: loud and clear. I held the microphone to my mouth just like I’d seen other people do and, in my VERY LOUDEST most clear voice yelled, “TODAY WE LIGHT THE CANDLE OF HOPE!!!” I glanced at the people again as sister lit one of the big purple candles. I think I may have a future in preaching because, let me tell you, not one person in that church looked even a little sleepy. There were nothing but wide-awake eyes in the whole room.

I really enjoyed having a beard. I'm considering making it permanent. What do you think?

I really enjoyed having a beard. I’m considering making it permanent. What do you think?

I did so well that they let me go on stage AGAIN, the very next week. I got to wear a beard. Pastor Z has a beard. Mr. M, who leads the singing, has a beard. Maybe you have to have a beard to talk in church? But Daddy talks in church sometimes and he only sometimes has a beard. Oh! I am SO CONFUSED! Anyway, there was no fire the second time I was on stage. No microphone either, but several of my friends were there and we all sang a song we learned in Sunday school called, “Away in a Manger.” It’s about a baby, asleep in the hay. The baby wasn’t in his crib. The song clearly states that: “No crib… asleep in the hay.” I’ve seen chickens and rabbits and cats asleep in the hay but… babies?!

You may think my story ends there but, no. It gets even stranger.

We went to the mall. I dearly love the mall; Those long, wide corridors, just perfect for running, moving stairs, colorful objects to be examined everywhere you look, and there is a tiny inside park where you never get your bottom wet from rain water puddled at the bottom of the slide. The MOST IMPORTANT RULE at the mall is, “stay with Mommy.” I know this, because Mommy says it at least 900 times every time we’re there. She also tells me, “NO! Get down from the edge of that fountain!” But that doesn’t come up as often. Come to think of it, she hasn’t gone down the fountain hall the last few times we were there. I’ll have to remind her about that. She must have forgotten what a great fountain it is, just begging to be jumped in. But I digress…  the rule is to stay with Mommy, yet she took me to this guy in a giant, fuzzy, green chair and told me his name was Santa Claus. She put me on his lap and walked away. Uhm… Mommy? Mommy! MOMMY!!! Of course, she came back pretty quickly. But still. It’s weird, right?

A 3 Year Old's Take On Holiday Traditions - A Guest Post by T-Rex | LazyHippieMama.com

Later, she told me Santa Claus is coming to our house and he’s bringing candy. There’s nothing so strange in that. People come over to the house all the time and they bring all sorts of stuff. But Santa, apparently, is going to put his candy… wait for it… this is really just too much… I swear I’m not making it up… IN OUR SOCKS. I thought maybe I’d misunderstood at first but she’s told me repeatedly now. “Santa is coming! He’s going to put some candy in your sock!”  I asked her, “Why is the candy going to be in my socks?” She said, “because we’re having a party! It’s Jesus’ birthday!”

I had a birthday a while back. Sister and Mommy both had one not long ago, too. I clearly remember cake and singing and a pretty gift-wrapped box. There was no sock candy. I’m certain of it.

I’m baffled, I tell you. I can sense that all of this is connected, somehow but I just can’t quite wrap my mind around it. If there can be a tree in the living room and candy in my socks, if kids can hold the lighter and say VERY IMPORTANT THINGS in the microphone at church… well… I think maybe anything could happen in this crazy topsy-turvy world. Next thing you know they’ll be telling me furry four-legged animals can fly or something.

I’ll keep thinking about all this. Maybe I’ll figure it out. If I do, I promise to let you know.In the meantime, may your days be full of fun and may your socks runneth over with candy.

A 3 Year Old's Take On Holiday Traditions - A Guest Post by T-Rex | LazyHippieMama.com

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The Empathy Way – A Review

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I believe that humans, from an extremely young age, have an extraordinary capacity to be empathetic. I can remember my own children, as tiny infants, being upset when I was upset or calm when I was calm. Of course, the other side of that coin is that we can be very selfish creatures. My preschooler will snatch a toy he has never seen before out of the hands of another person and simply declare, “this is mine!” Having spent more than a few Sunday mornings with him and his peers in the church nursery I’ve seen that that’s pretty much a common trait among the preschool set. So, when I was asked if I would like to receive a copy of The Empathy Way books by Anne Wessels Paris and Marian Brickner I happily agreed to take a look. I love the idea of introducing this powerful word and concept at a young age and incorporating ways to encourage little ones to examine the situations they find themselves in from the point of view of the others involved.

The Empathy Way - A Book Review | LazyHippieMama.com

 

The Empathy Way books tell stories of the every day interactions of the bonobo apes at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida. The full page photographs are gorgeous! They show the apes in every day situations that any child would be able to relate to: They are playing, dealing with illness, frightened or meeting new friends.

What do you do when you encounter someone who seems scary because they look different? How can understanding a bully help you deal with the way the treat you? How can empathy help us make our friends feel better in hard times?

The Empathy Way - A Book Review | LazyHippieMama.comThose are lessons that anyone, of any age can benefit from learning!

The book series comes with a teacher’s guide and would be a great addition to any classroom or homeschool program. There are discussion questions and some simple crafts to help children remember to follow “The Empathy Way.”

The material says that it’s appropriate for grades k-3. I thought it was great but I would suggest that it’s more appropriate for the younger end of that spectrum.  T-Rex, at age 3 1/2 thought these books were wonderful. He caught on right away and, pointing at the pictures asking, “is she scared? Is he sick? Are they laughing? They think it’s funny?” The comments he made as we read showed that he understood the concept of empathy, even though he had never heard the word before being reading these books. The language is simple, but never simplistic.

If you have a young child at home or if you are a teacher who works with this age group I would strongly encourage you to visit The Empathy Way website. The books are available there as are some really great videos and resources.

In a society where too many news stories are about children and adults who have been hurt lashing out at the world that hurt them we could all use a little more empathy!

The Empathy Way - A Book Review | LazyHippieMama.com

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Partnering With Monsters To Prepare For Zombies

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Partnering With Monsters To Prepare For Disaster | LazyHippieMama.com

It’s easy to joke about “the zombie apocalypse” but did you realize that, just last year alone, there were more than 85 national emergencies declared? These situations can range from wildfires to hurricanes, tornados to snow storms.  As much as we hate to think about it, disaster can strike in any place, at any time and it comes in all too many forms.

We live in Michigan and two out of the last three winters have seen people trapped in their homes with no way out and no power for days.  Just a few weeks ago our neighbors down the road in Toledo found themselves suddenly without access to clean water.

Children aren’t oblivious. They see smoke rising from the mountains or hear hail pounding against their windows and they know that Mother Nature is not always gentle.  It can be really scary for them!

A huge part of keeping your family safe is being prepared ahead of time. Letting your children see that you have taken steps to ensure everyone’s safety will help them feel safer in these frightening situations.  Even better, let them help you create an emergency kit.

Don’t let the idea of putting a kit together become overwhelming. It doesn’t need to take a lot of time or cost a lot of money. Keep in mind, an emergency kit doesn’t have to be a two year stockpile of food and medical equipment!  Having enough food and water to take care of your family for a few days and a few flashlights (with good batteries!) can mean the difference between riding out a storm in relative safety or finding yourself in a  life-threatening situation.

If you do want to make your kit a little more elaborate, other things to consider keeping may be a first aid kit, a crank or battery-powered radio, a whistle (to signal for help), a dust mask and plastic sheeting, wet wipes and trash bags, a few simple tools like a wrench, pliers, screwdrivers and duct tape. Consider what you might really NEED if you couldn’t get to the store. Diapers? Maxi pads? TP? Medications? Dog food?

A tip that my family learned the hard way during a nasty ice storm: Have a manual can opener on hand if your emergency food is stored in cans!  Yes, you can get cans open without one, but using one is A LOT easier!

If your child struggles with anxiety about these situations, involving them in this process can be huge. Ask them what they would like to include. Would it make them feel better to have a certain toy or book tucked in the box with the food? It might not make sense to you but if it makes them feel better it’s totally worth the little bit of space.

Also, for your child’s safety, be sure that they know their full name and yours as well and also their home address. If you get separated and they are looking for “mommy and daddy” you’re going to be hard to find!

I am so excited to be exploring ways that LazyHippieMama.com and America’s Morning Headquarters on The Weather Channel can partner up to bring families helpful and important tips like these.  This week, AMHQ’s host, Sam Champion, had a super cute interview with Elmo. They talked about all of this information and I’ve included the clip, below. Coming from an adorable fuzzy monster, emergency preparedness tips aren’t quite so intimidating.  And, really, even for children, being able to keep calm and think clearly in tough situations is just as important as all these other things!  I’d encourage you to watch the little video clip with your children and share it as well. This is such super-important information!  Being ready for disaster before it strikes can truly mean the difference between life and death.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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Is Being a Parent Frowned Upon?

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Is Being A Parent Frowned Upon? | LazyHippieMama.comThere are times in history and places in the world where being childless was just about the worst thing a woman could be.  It was (and still is, in some cultures) thought to be so awful that it was considered to be a curse and all manner of laws and customs developed to allow barren women to claim a child as her own that she might not have to face the shame of not being a mother.

Here in modern day America, I wonder if we’ve gone to the other extreme.

“She’s having another baby?”

“They have how many children?”

“She’s pregnant? But her career was just taking off.”

“A baby? Well, I guess her life is over now.”

I’d be willing to bet that, even if no one said these things to you, you’ve heard them said (or said them yourself) about someone else.

When I met my husband he already had two children from his first marriage. When we found out we were expecting our first baby together the reaction was mixed, at best. For the most part we heard, “How are you going to afford a baby?”  One especially supportive relative (sarcasm intended) said, “Oh, great. That’s just what you need.”

The truth is it was a hard time. We were broke. Not “we have to cancel the extended cable movie package,” kind of broke. More like, “I wonder if we’ll be able to buy noodles AND butter tomorrow,” kind of broke. It wasn’t the way we’d planned things (and, yes, we had a plan and had taken “precautions” along those lines) but it was the way things were and we managed. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Fast forward five years. Sweet Hippie Daughter is in school. Hubby and I are both working. We decided we wanted one more little person in our family because… well… just because. We love our children. We remember how that love grew and multiplied with the birth of our daughter and we want to allow that love to grow again.

We had two miscarriages and, early on, were told that the third pregnancy wouldn’t last either, but he was a determined little bean and he hung in there. Finally, very near the end of my first trimester, we saw a powerful heartbeat on the ultrasound, the bleeding stopped and we were told that, yes, a new Hippie was on the way.

I suppose, as a writer, I should have the words to describe that moment in the ultrasound room but I’m at a total loss. After so much sadness and grief and worry, after weeks of wondering and praying and crying, our tiny baby was right there in a grainy black and white image.  It was pure joy!

I wanted to shout to the world!

And so I did.

And the world rolled it’s eyes at us.

“Really?  FOUR kids?”

Is Being A Parent Frowned Upon? | LazyHippieMama.com

Yes, some folks were happy for us and celebrated with us but far more reacted with skepticism and doubt that such a “large” family could ever possibly be a good idea. Many said, in one way or another, that they thought it was irresponsible because we “couldn’t afford it.” A few thought it was “so sad” that just as I was getting back to work I ruined things with another baby.

It’s true. We were still poor. Our spaghetti had honest to goodness sauce every day, though! And… how much should that matter? Obviously, being able to support your family is important but when do you have “enough” money to have children? According to some estimates no one except the “one percent” would ever be able to raise a kid in this country!  Yet, somehow, hundreds of millions of us manage to keep our children fed and clothed.

Is Being A Parent Frowned Upon? | LazyHippieMama.comIt’s true. Four kids are a lot of work. Honestly, though, I swear four is easier than three. They love each other (mostly). They entertain each other. And, yes, sometimes I ask the older ones to care for the younger. To the critics I say: No, I do not feel this is unfair. It’s not every day and that’s what families do – they help each other out.  I have never felt like one of our children was missing out on some portion of our love because they had siblings. If anything, I feel the exact opposite. Instead two people living with them and loving each of them they each have five people loving them (well… more than that when you count grandparents, etc, but you get the gist).

This isn’t just about me and my family and our circumstances, though. The age of social media gives us a weirdly intimate glimpse into the lives of our friends and acquaintances. I see it all the time:

Person A: We’re having a baby!

Person B: Bummer!

The idea seems to be that now you are saddled with all this responsibility. You’ll never have a great career. You’ll never get to be spontaneous again. There won’t be any more late night parties or long weekends, lounging lazily in the sun. Now you’ll have to trade your cool car for a minivan. You won’t be able to afford designer shoes and every meal for the rest of your life will be chicken nuggets and macaroni. Your uterus has suddenly turned into a black hole that will suck all of the money and fun from your existence.

Most of all, the mother (the rules are different for fathers, of course) has lost all chance of being a productive citizen. After all, you can’t possibly be successful at parenting AND anything else at the same time.

Where did this idea that parenting is a terrible burden come from?

Do we feed the monster by complaining about how HARD parenting is all the time?

When did we lose the notion that children are a blessing and that more children are a bigger blessing?

When did “parent” become a second-rate status?

Is it just me? Are my views skewed? I would love to hear from you!

What do you think? Is parenthood looked down upon in our society?

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Summer’s Coming! – Online Tools & Apps For Summertime Learning

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Summer's Coming! - Online Tools & Apps For Summertime Learning | LazyHippieMama.comSummer is coming! Thank God! It was a long, harsh winter around here and even those of us who love the snowy months are relived to see the sun again.  Of course, children everywhere are starting to get ants in their pants as the days get longer and warmer. They know that the end of the school year is drawing close.

I recently got this note on my Facebook page: “Hello my favorite Hippie:) was wondering if you could suggest some good websites/books/material for public school kids to help them not lose all their edu-ma-cation during the dog days of summer….”

I am a big believer that summer needs to be a time for playing outside. Run around, be noisy, get dirty, make friends and enjoy every minute of it! I know the reader that sent me the note. I’ve driven past her house and seen her gorgeous little girls giggling like crazy and hanging from the trees like a troop of tiny blonde-haired monkeys. Summer months won’t be wasted in front of the TV in that house, for sure!

Still, the occasional bad weather day or lazy morning indoors is inevitable.  These moments are the perfect time to sneak in a little educational refreshment. If your child loves the computer (and I haven’t met many that don’t) here are a few great tools that may inspire them to keep learning through the summer and hit the ground running in the fall.

Math Blaster

Cost: FREE – $150

If you’ve been around for a while you’ve probably read something I’ve written about Math Blaster before.  It is one of my most favorite online educational tools! It is one that we’ve used for well over a year now and my daughter hasn’t grown tired of it and it continues to be useful.

The games are gorgeous and fun and exciting. The student has to fight off invading aliens and such by solving math problems.  They can also design their own avatar, raise a virtual pet and interact with other users.

http://lazyhippiemama.com/2014/01/24/10-great-online-resources-for-learning | LazyHippieMama.com

I worry a lot about allowing Sweet Hippie Daughter to do anything online that lets her talk to strangers.  Math Blaster’s interactions are very limited.  They are forbidden to use their real names, ask questions like, “where do you live?” or use any number of words that could violate privacy or be construed as inappropriate.  If they try to do so a little “whoops! That’s not allowed” warning pops up.

We used the free version for a long time and it was very nice.  SHD begged for the paid version so that she could have fancy upgrades for her character.  Eventually, she did some extra work and earned herself the $9.99/month subscription.  For $150 you get a lifetime membership but I have commitment issues. I married my husband for life.  Everything else I’ll settle for month-to-month.

 Storia eBooks

Cost: FREE

I have not tried these myself, but Storia is a branch of Scholastic and I’ve never seen Scholastic put out anything that wasn’t top-notch. You can’t sign up for the reading program for a few more days yet, but my understanding is that the reading app is available for download on both apple and android devices as well as PCs at any time.

Storia is offering a free app and 5 free ebooks to help encourage kids to keep reading all summer long.

Scholastic is also offering a Free Summer Reading Challenge. There is an online tool for tracking your reading minutes and kids can earn points to win prizes.

Exploratoriam

Cost: FREE

Exploratoriam isn’t so much a website as a gateway. It is a very user-friendly site that will guide young learners to all sorts of amazing videos and activities. Young learners (or old ones, for that matter) can find out more about the Mars Rover, check out cool optical illusions, see how science is being applied in real ways in urban design, and so much  more.

They also offer a list of great educational apps.

Reading Eggs

Cost: Up to $69 per year.

There are always free trials and deals on the website or being offered by various bloggers if you google for them.  There is also a 6 month subscription offer, as well as IPad Apps, CD roms, books, flashcards and other items that you can purchase at various cost.

Your child gets an avatar in this game that they can dress up.  The avatar has an apartment and travels to various places to shop for clothes, go to the gym, etc.  At each of these places there are items that cost “eggs.”  (ie. furniture for the apartment, new clothes, a pet, etc)  In order to earn eggs the student can complete various tasks including reading, doing reports, spelling challenges and more.

If you’re interested in more details, here is  my review.

GenZ Read Together

Cost: $4.95 for 20 stories or $19.95 for 100

GenZ offers “articles” on every subject from pop culture to ancient history.  Each segment includes a related YouTube video and an activity or puzzle of some sort to help kids retain what they’ve read. I can’t tell you how many times in the past year I’ve said to my daughter, “Did you know that…” and she comes back with, “Yeah. I already knew that. I learned it on GenZ.”  It is well worth the small price!

You can read my full review here.

Dolphy Games

Cost: $9.99

*Please note that Dolphy has been a sponsor on this site but this mention is NOT sponsored. I just wanted to include them because I think they have a great product*

These games are primarily for very young children – pre-K through 1st grade. They are great! Each game is personalized with your child’s own name. The instructions are instinctive and easy to follow. The images are bright and colorful. The sounds are engaging and your child can’t help but learn while they are playing.

You can read my full review here.

Khan Academy

Cost: FREE

Khan Academy is not a game, but an online school. If your child is interested in a certain subject or needs to brush up on a specific skill Khan is sort of like the cool, interactive, online version of school worksheets.  They cover every subject and I do mean every subject… from ancient art to philosophy to the ins and outs of Obamacare. Also reading, writing and arithmetic.

Hopefully these tools will help keep learning fresh all summer long. Just don’t forget to enjoy the sunshine while it lasts!

http://lazyhippiemama.com/2014/01/24/10-great-online-resources-for-learning | LazyHippieMama.com

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