I’m by no means an expert, nor am I a supermom. None of us are… or rather, maybe you could categorize all of us mamas as supermoms, because really we all step up to the plate and take on the most rewarding, challenging and fulfilling “job” there is and accomplish it by doing our best and listening to that innate instinct that arises as we carry and build life within our own life. And we do it all on the least amount of sleep than we’ve ever had before. So, I guess that is pretty super.
I digress, the meaning of this post isn’t to dissect the role of motherhood, but rather to look at those sponges in our children’s heads we call brains, that soak up every bit of information they can scour. We’ve picked up a few little tricks along the way, while we’re doing and living and learning at this thing called life, that help to take advantage of all of those moments where our children are just asking, hoping and then devouring every morsel passed their way. Knowledge leads to wisdom, and ultimately wisdom is power. Let’s give them as much of a head start as we can… here are 5 simple tips that we’ve embraced to help us raise smarter kids.
This isn’t something we schedule or plan out necessarily, as sometimes a new word comes up in conversation and the meaning is asked. Or sometimes we think of a fun adjective that we want to share with our children. Or we’re in the middle of one of our parental lectures and the kids look back and didn’t hear anything we said because they’re still wondering what “procrastinate” means. Out of this was born our “Word of the Week” in which we write out a word (preferably a fairly long word) on our chalkboard, and underneath write out the meaning. For Aliyah, she learns how to spell and write the word, both on paper and verbally. And both kids learn to recognize the word when written and use it in sentences. It’s a fun way for us all to remember how important words are… and that there is this whole amazingly vast world of words just waiting for us to use and expand our vocabulary with.
Yep, I used to be one of those moms that said I wouldn’t use gadgets or electronics to entertain my kids. Enter kid number three and that’s gone out the window. Of course, we set boundaries and time limits, and the use of gadgets by our children is not a daily occurrence, but when we travel? Our iPhones and iPads are a lifesaver. We’ve loaded ours up with plenty of learning apps so that when they do “play” they’re at least learning at the same time.
A few of our favorite educational apps right now are:
- Hooked on Phonics (The app is free to download, but the different lessons aren’t. We downloaded the classroom version when they had a special “free” day and love using it!)
- Endless Alphabet ($6.99) A great app for learning letters and sounds… it’s seriously addicting to watch the kids play this one.
- Giraffe’s Matching Zoo (free)
- CVC Phonics Spelling Practice ($.99, this is another one we downloaded when they had a “free” day) A great way for the kids to practice spelling and learn sounds.
- Motion Math Wings (free, with options to upgrade) As your littles get into math, and especially multiplication, this is a fun way to reinforce the concepts. Forget angry birds, let your kids play with these birds and learn at the same time.
- My Coloring Book (free) So this app doesn’t necessarily “teach” anything, but playing with colors and coloring is great for early color theory.
- Shapes (free, with options to upgrade) A fun way to learn shapes.
In a perfect world, we would all cook in the kitchen together, kids cooking alongside mom and dad, learning to cut and chop, measure and pour, deciphering what vegetable goes with what main dish, telling me the difference between green beans and peas or the difference between boil and simmer. Once in a while the planets align (meaning we actually have time for ALL it entails) and this happens. A little more often than that, I try to pull the kids into the kitchen to help with one thing… a task given just for them and they get to be the superhero that completes it.
Another thing we love to see happen in our house is dinner all together at the dinner table. While this actually happens much more often than us all cooking the entire meal together, it still doesn’t happen every single night. When it does, we like to make the most of our time together and play some games that encourage communication, vocabulary building, family bonding and elicit plenty of laughs. Sometimes we make up our own games and actually spell out words “spelling bee” style or play the rhyming game, sometimes we call out math problems to see who can figure out the answer or create a funny little list of all the different things we’re thankful for and sometimes we use help. One of our favorite “helps” right now is the Family Dinner Box of Questions to get everyone talking, reminiscing and telling stories.
We’re all about creating solution minded people in our home. When something comes up, or a situation arises, we like to work together at a team to find the solution. Naturally, we are all easily problem-minded, meaning that when something spills, or breaks, a situation occurs or plans fall through our natural tendency is to focus on the problem or the negative. Yes, it’s natural for children to cry over something spilling or breaking, etc, but the great thing about working to become solution minded is that it automatically becomes a source of redirection. While one starts to cry over their spilled chocolate milk, we can diffuse the situation with, “Okay it spilled, help me find a way to fix this, can you do that? What should we do now, clean it up and then we can figure out how to get more?” It may seem silly at times, especially with the small things, but begin to talk through the solution instead of looking at the problem now, and eventually with every situation they will begin to do the same.
It’s funny now because there are moments when something spills (obviously this is a repeated occurrence with three kids in the house), my kids will say, “Oh it’s okay, we can just wash it.” Or if something is happening, “Mom, I have a plan.” It doesn’t always happen this way, and I’m still learning to become solution oriented myself, but it’s great to see their wheels turning. Leaders are thinkers, allow their creativity to flow and let them solve some problems for themselves, you’ll be surprised at what they come up with!
We’ve all been there, a certain animal or plant comes into view and we’re asked what it is. A word is heard and someone want’s to know what it means. A city comes up in conversation and we want to know exactly where it is. I remember those times when I was little and off I went to search the dictionary or find what I was looking for in an Encyclopedia… just hoping we had the right “letter” since our home Encyclopedia library ended at the letter “M”. Now it’s all too easy with a few strokes on the keyboard of our computers. I started using Bing as a search engine, because of the rewards that add up with each search, and I figured if my kids and I were going to be looking things up on a daily basis, I might as well earn something for it (it’s kind of like a frequent flyer program)! Plus, the image search function is fun when my kids just want to see an endless photo list of cats (or when they start typing cat and end up learning all about caterpillars).
While we’re on the topic of learning, Bing has started a new program called Bing in the Classroom where they provide ad-free, safe search for schools… All advertising is removed, plus there are strict filters for adult content and enhanced privacy protection. Bing is the only major search engine to provide search options that are specifically tailored for the classroom. And another plus? When you join Bing Rewards, you can donate earned points to give Surface tablets to schools! So if you haven’t yet, sign up for Bing Rewards!
Show support for #adfreesearch with #BingintheClassroom!
This post was created in partnership with Bing. Thank you for supporting the companies that make this blog possible!