Third Winter


Recently, I saw an image that said there were 11 seasons in Washington. Right now, we’re in “third winter” and we’ve been snowed in for nearly two weeks now. If I hadn’t parked my car in a safer area on the street (instead of our driveway), we would be in dire straits, and the bunnies might have gone from pets to meals.

We also finally all recovered from influenza A (we were sick most of January), which was sandwiched between two colds that went around the whole family. The up side to being swamped IMG_0031with holidays and family-shared illnesses is when snowed in later, we have a stack of educational kits to go through. Today we opened the Secret Agent box from Kiwi Crates.

We explored two of three projects and now Little Fox is a secret agent, reading coded messages in his spy briefcase. This is in line with starting Carmen Sandiego, who, while a thief and not a spy, has overlapping skills and uses stealth.

Of course, once we’d made the briefcase and stored away his secret files, we had a secret agent dance party.





Fifteen Dollars and Twenty Cents

b48dc456-4e18-4b68-b1a5-71cf8b0f0b65My son has discovered capitalism, and it’s entirely my fault. The other day, he asked me, “What do we use money for?”

I was distracted while running errands and didn’t give a well-thought answer. “A lot of what you see here requires money. The food we eat costs money. The house has a mortgage, which means your Dad pays a bank money every month, we pay for the cars and the gas that goes in them. Our lives, sadly, require money for almost everything these days.”

Now he’s charging for everything, and it all costs the same amount: fifteen dollars and twenty cents. The magic portions he makes? $15.20. The juice made from mythical fruit? $15.20. (If only our mortgage and car payments were also applied to this system, it might just work.) And today, he’s started charging for passage up the stairs, even though I was in a hurry to the bathroom. I shoved the imaginary fifteen-dollars (“and twenty cents,” reminds me) into his hand, and run to the toilet.

He then informed me if I want to go back downstairs, it’ll cost me … a banana. Or else I go to banana jail.

[This post was written in January. I thought it had posted. We went through a terrible bout of the flu through most of January, and I didn’t realize this hadn’t published. Yesterday, he charged me $15.20 for sushi.]

Reading Little-by-Little

45675785_10155911576738059_3982809025682079744_n.jpgLittle Fox is starting to read. I’d mentioned in the spring, he’d read almost the entirety of Green Eggs and Ham to me over a half hour, with little help from me, but then he refused to read much again after that.

I don’t believe in pushing kids too hard. When they’re ready, they’re ready, and especially when it comes to fundamentals of education. They need to build these bit-by-bit without feeling pressured to do so on a deadline–give them tools, encouragement, and the occasional nudge, and they’re likely to find their way through academics (and sometimes even life).

Sometimes it’s difficult to convince my partner of this, but I keep reassuring him that with being read to daily, and offering him opportunities to figure out the sounds of words in his environment, there’s a strong chance he’ll learn by age 7, even if he isn’t reading before then. (We have a similar discussion about maths, but that’s for another post.) Pushing kids too hard before they’re ready can lead to harming their long-term reading success, and as parent, teacher, and writer, and I want to ensure my kids not only can read for future careers, but for the pleasure of reading.

flipawordThat being said, this year has been filled with “reading prep” that’s engaging and Little Fox keeps asking for more. He’s ready every single “Flip-a Word” books available, and now looks at words in terms of their “families” (based on shared suffixes).

While his dad reads picture books or pop-up science books to him each night, since spring, I’ve been reading him novels. Though I’d read a couple of Nurse Matilda books (that inspired the Nanny McPhee movies) to him last year, he wasn’t able to follow them chapter-by-chapter each night. But when my copy of Catherynne Valente’s Space Opera arrived, I read him the first chapter, and he was hooked.

We don’t read novels every night–he doesn’t always get into bed early enough for my portion of story time–but since Space Opera, we’ve read five other novels, and he’s had me buy him copies of each one. I can tell he’s paying attention because he asks questions, and the characters come up again in our talks later in the week. His novel reading list thus far:LittleFoxNovels2018

2. Bunnicula

3. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

4. My Pet Human

5. Catwings

6. Catwings Returns

I’m hoping we’ll get through the other two Catwings books and The Neverending Story before the end of the year, especially since I’ve reinforced an earlier bedtime than we’ve had in months.

51u3xvbhv9l-_sx384_bo1204203200_Also, to supplement his other forms of learning, we purchased a Sylvan kindergarten book that focuses on math and reading. He’s required to two pages of each four or five times a week (a great activity when I need quiet time or to get some work done without too much distraction). He’s so far ahead on the math games that we’ll be jumping into cuisenaire rod games and origami, and he’s discovered a love of word search puzzles because of the reading section. I was skeptical about adding a workbook that wasn’t just mazes and activities so soon, but he’s really taken to it. What he began a couple of months ago (a school year’s worth of pages), will likely be done soon after the new year.

Every day, he’s looking at words like puzzles to solve, and asking me questions about the sounds they make, what happens if we replace a single letter, and what they’d sound like if we read them backwards. There’s no doubt now, he’s ready, and he’s loving every moment of it.

SIDE NOTE: It’s nearly the first anniversary of the launch of The Grasp of Time. If you’d like a chance to win a free, signed copy, follow me on Twitter.