Posts Tagged ‘raising preschoolers’

Write a Review Wednesday: Bunny’s Lessons

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Out of Sight. This week we looked at another book from Blue Apple Books, Bunny’s Lessons (age 4-8), written by Harriet Ziefert and illustrated by Barroux. I have to thank Crystal at Raincoast Books for my review copy.

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Charlie is a little boy, a little boy who Bunny belongs to. Bunny views Charlie has his friend and teacher. Everything Bunny has learned, he has learned from Charlie. Some lessons aren’t so fun, like jealous and scared and sad. But other lessons are wonderful, like pretend, all better and love. No matter what the lesson, Bunny and Charlie learn them together.

Like in Bunny’s Lessons, most kids have a stuffy, a companion that helps them through both scary and exciting times in their lives. My 4-year old has a rabbit friend just like Charlie. Growing up is full of new experiences: walking, the big bed, going to school, visiting the Dr. A stuffy is like an extension of a child. It gives them someone to confide in when they’re feeling angry or sad. It gives them someone to hug and protect them at night in the big bed. It gives them someone to celebrate the first day of preschool. The illustrations are colourful and warm, filling the page with life through Bunny’s perspective.

Kids don’t view their stuffies as just dolls but as real friends so it’s fitting that Bunny’s Lessons is told from the perspective of Bunny. Although my daughter’s stuffy is a bunny, just like Bunny in Bunny’s Lessons, the story would have just as much meaning to her (and I) if her stuffy was a bear or doll. Bunny’s Lessons does a great job illustrating the relationship between a child and their stuffie.

To add Bunny’s Lessons to your personal library visit your local bookstore or Raincoast Books. For other great books for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday.

Write a Review Wednesday: Mad at Mommy

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Ten Big Toes and a Prince’s Nose (age 4-7). After the last few days with my 4-year old I think a perfect book to review would be Scholastic‘s Mad at Mommy (age 3-7), written and illustrated by Komako Sakai. I have to thank Nikole at Scholastic Canada for my review copy.

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A little bunny is so, SO mad at his mommy. She sleeps in and yells for no reason and tells bunny to hurry up and…and…and. Bunny is so mad that he decides he’s going to leave home. And does. But then he forgets something.

I think as parents we sometimes forget what it’s like to be a child, learning new concepts, being small, wanting attention. In Mad at Mommy, Bunny thinks his mom is unfair when he gets in trouble for making a mess in the bathroom but in his mind he’s just playing and doesn’t understand. Bunny thinks his mom is unfair when she rushes him to get ready but then stands and talks with friends when they’re out.

My 4-year old and I have been going through similar battles; she’s struggle to gain more power and independence and I’m working to implement rules and guidelines. We both think we’re right and the other one is being unreasonable but in a way we’re both right.

Mad at Mommy is a great book for both parent and kids. It shows kids that it’s okay to be frustrated; sometimes even kids need to air their feelings (even unhappy ones) and need reassurance that mommy still loves them. For parents it reminds us to be mindful of how we treat our kids and how frustrating it was when we were little. I remember battles with my parents on wanting to stay up late or wear certain clothes. It’s easy to get angry at water spilled out of the tub but instead maybe we need to remember how fun splashing in the tub can be and explain why we’re upset about the water.

Both my 6 and 4 year old enjoyed reading Mad at Mommy and it opened a great dialog on how everyone gets angry but we always love each other. Probably long overdue but Mad at Mommy also got us talking about things each other does that we feel is unfair.

You can add a copy of Mad at Mommy to your own personal library by visiting your local bookstore or Scholastic Books. For other great books for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

On Raising a 4 Year Old: Don’t Test Their Will

Yesterday the weather was pretty good and even though I’m dealing with some sort of flu bug I still walked the kids to school (versus driving them). If we get out the door on time, the 20-minute walk can actually be good for everyone. Even my 4-year old, who seems to have all her energy drained from her as soon as she hits the end of the driveway, is able to keep up and get to school without a single whine. I think it helps to have siblings to walk with; they’re more entertaining than walking with mom I guess.

But after dropping my older two off at school, the 4-year old and I have to walk home. Alone. On our own. As soon as we step off school property it hits: I can’t walk! My legs are broken! This is the worst day ever! Why didn’t we drive? All sung out in that not-s0-wonderful shrill that 4-year olds are so good at.

With my cold still fighting my body for supremacy, I didn’t really feel like taking on this battle. Then my super intelligent mom brain kicked in. My 4-year old decided she didn’t want to walk so I agreed. Instead we stood there in the snow outside a row of houses on our walk home. I would show her. She expects me to fight with her and drag her home unwillingly but not this time. This time she would get what she wants and see that you have to be careful what you wish for. Sort of reverse psychology stuff I guess. My daughter would quickly get bored and reluctantly decide to walk home with me without any fuss and that would be that.

What was I thinking! Trying to play a phycology games with a 4-year old!

So she sat there, on the house’s stone wall, playing in the snow. She drew circles with a stick. She made foot prints. She guessed with each person walking by if they lived in the house we were standing in front of or not. It took every fibre in my body not to cave and just resort to dragging her home. Give it a few more minutes I thought, then she’ll get bored. But of course right at that moment a neighbourhood cat came by and loved hanging out on the step with my daughter.

I was getting cold (and I didn’t have my phone to twitter out my stupidity). I asked my daughter if she was getting cold. Nope. I said we should get home so she could get her snack. Not hungry. Three hours went by. Okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration, maybe 20-minutes since I didn’t have my phone to confirm how much time we were wasting.

Eventually my daughter decided it was time to go home. I suppose I could have used this moment to relax and observe the world through my daughter’s eyes. Perhaps if the weather was warmer an I was feeling better, maybe. One thing I did learn is not to put a 4-year old’s will to the test.

The Death of a Bedtime Buddy

When you have kids you sort of expect you’ll have a few years of sleepless nights but after the infant stage the novelty of waking up at night (for me at least) starts to wear off, quickly. My 4-year old hasn’t slept through the night since, well, forever. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but the solid nights have been few and far between.

To try to appease my daughter I had given her a musical lamb that my mother-in-law had given my oldest daughter (she found it at some sale). My two older kids had no real interest in the lamb so it’s just sat on the shelf but my youngest daughter is more of a stereotypical child; she would play with toys they way manufacturers designed them to be played with (and a majority of other kids play with them). My older two were never like that as kids.

I gave the daughter the lamb, which she could wind herself, and she loved it. She would play it over and over until she fell asleep. The best part of course, no 1 a.m. wake-up call. I was feeling pretty good about this new routine so of course something had to go wrong.

Tonight as I’m getting my 4-year old into bed, I pulled out the lamb, ready for the start of an easy, solid night sleep. I tuck my daughter in, lamb resting in her arms. My daughter is in a defiant ‘I can do it’ stage so of course I didn’t even suggestion winding the lamb for her. I left to say goodnight to my son and check on my oldest daughter only to hear wailing down the hall. My 4-year old was upset that she couldn’t wind up her lamb. I tried and it wouldn’t wind either. And it wouldn’t play. I tried to find something else to entertain her but it didn’t matter, it wasn’t her lamb buddy. I sat with her as she tried to settle, sniffling and sighing between tears.

The lesson I should have walked away with: maybe teaching my daughter to rely on a toy to help her sleep isn’t the best option.

The lesson I ended up walking away with: I need to buy my daughter a new musical lamb.

Hey, if something works for you, why change it (if only the lamb still worked).

Write a Review Wednesday: A Flock of Shoes

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Mummy Mazes, A Monumental Book. With the colder weather setting in, this week’s book by Annick Press, A Flock of Shoes (age 4-7) written by Sarah Tsiang and illustrated by Qin Leng seems fitting. I have to thank Joanna at Annick Press for my review copy.

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Abby Loved her sandals. All summer she walked and skipped and jumped in them. Abby and her sandals were inseparable. One Fall day while swinging, Abby’s sandals flew off her feet and just kept flying, heading south along with other sandals. Her mother bought her brand new boots but they weren’t the same as Abby’s sandals, which she missed very much. Eventually Abby started to really like her boots. All Winter she stomped and kicked and ran in her boots until one Spring day her boots hopped aboard a train heading North. But as her boots left for colder weather, Abby’s favourite sandals returned.

I don’t think I’m alone as a parent when it comes to convincing my kids to switch from Summer clothes into Fall clothes. Summer sandals have been a particularly touchy point with my 3-year old. My daughter enjoyed wearing her sandals so much; they are easy for her to put on and so many great memories are attributed to them. A Flock of Shoes was perfect to read. Sarah Tsiang does a wonderful job depicting just how connected a child can be with a piece of clothing and Quin Leng‘s watercolour illustrations compliment the warmth of the story. The story of summer shoes needing to go away somewhere warm is a delightful way to look at seasonal items. My 3-year old daughter loved the story and loved Abby and her shoes. Whether my daughter will give up wearing her sandals is another story

You can add a copy of A Flock of Shoes to your personal library by visiting your local bookstore. For other great books suggestions for kids, read through some of the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Kindergarten and My Baby

We had a busy and fun summer but my kids were excited to be heading back to school. This is a big year for us: my 8-year old is entering grade 3, the first year where standardize testing takes place; my 6-year old is moving into grade 1, full-day school, lunch away from home and a step toward a more structured classroom environment; my 3-year old is starting school for the first time, venturing on her own and leaving me without any kids in the afternoon.

My two oldest were great. They headed into the school yard without even a glance back. My 3-year old, who attends school in the afternoon, was disappointed that she couldn’t go into school with her siblings; she wanted to start school now.

When my two older kids entered school I wasn’t too worried about how they’d adjust; they are both outgoing like their dad. My 3-year old is more like me, content to be on her own and somewhat overwhelmed by new people and new environments. I sort of expected that her first day of school would be one of those stereotypical crying and fussing about leaving me but then she went to summer camp. My shy, introverted little girl spent 5 days, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for 4 weeks at camp without me. She loved it.

When September arrived my concerns about my 3-year old adjusting to school subsided. Even her first day of school, with both me and her dad there to see her off, she was in the school without a second thought. Yes! This last trip through kindergarten will be much smoother than I thought.

Famous last words.

Day two. A completely different story. My 3-year old was fine when we arrived before the bell, she even played hopscotch with some of the other girls, but when the bell rang and the kids were lining up she didn’t want to line-up with them. As all the other kids walked in my 3-year old stood behind me, gripping on my leg. Eventually her teacher was able to lure her in with the promise of a new smelly markers in the writing center.

Day three. The morning was great but as we sat down to lunch my daughter confessed she didn’t want to go to school. In the playground she relaxed a little when she recognized some of her friends but as soon as the bell rang the leg grabbing started again. This time I was able to persuade her to go into the class, walking in with her friend.

Day four. This was the hardest day. My daughter was fine in the school yard though I couldn’t convince her to play with the kids at all. The bell rang and her little hands wrapped around my legs but this time she wouldn’t let go. Her teacher and the teaching assistant couldn’t get her in without prying her off of me. I left with her crying and pleading not to go. It was awful. Even writing about it now upsets me so.

I may have lamented in the past about my two older kids venturing off into the next stage of their lives without so much as a tear or glance back. But now that I’ve experienced that reluctance, I still felt sad, a gut wrenching sadness. I would rather feel the mom sadness you feel as your child moves on without your assistance over the sadness you feel because your child is unhappy.

At the end of school she was fine. Her teacher said she was fine the first few minutes she entered the classroom. I expected that much; that’s the only reason I could walk away from her with tears in her eyes earlier that day. I hope, for both her sake and mine, things get easier; I’m sure I won’t feel this way at the time, but right now I look forward to the day when my daughter rushes into the playground to join her friends and I’m a second thought.

I knew having kids would be hard but I guess ignorantly I thought it would get easier after three kids, easier as they get older. The opposite seems to be true.

Today is another school day. Only time will tell if it starts off with tears or smiles. I’ll probably be sad either way.

Write a Review Wednesday: Star Wars ABC

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Boo Cow. This week my 3-year old is all excited about reviewing Scholastc‘s Star Wars ABC boardbook (age 0+). I have to thank Nikole at Scholastic Canada for my review copy.

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Now that my 3-year old has started junior kindergarten, she had developed an interest in ABC books. The new Star Wars ABC from Scholastic helps her learn and reinforce her letter recognition with the help Anakin, Boba Fett and Yoda.

My daughter, actually our whole family, is huge Star Wars fan. When I attended the Scholastic Bloggers Breakfast in New York this August (part of BlogHer) they had this book on display and I knew my kids would love it. This is a large format boardbook making it ideal for even the youngest Star Wars fans. The pictures are full colour photographs of both key characters and crafts, like the Millennium Falcon or the TIE Fighter. Each page has the letter printed large in the top corner with the corresponding name right below it. There is also a small amount of copy on each page describing the picture, adding emphasis on the key letter again.

My kids knew most of the characters but it was great to see them discover the spelling or the first letter of each character. My 3-year old isn’t familiar with all her alphabet but knowing the character name was a great way to work on the letter sound and the letter name. The only problem was stopping my enthusiastic son from shouting out the letters before my younger daughter had a chance to read them.

For kids who already know their letters, the simple sentence on each page is a great way to connect reading with those Star Wars fans. My son enjoyed ‘teaching’ his younger sister the letters and trying to read the words on the page. I should point out that since this is an ABC book, the sentences just help reinforce the letter on the page versus telling a story, but that didn’t bother my kids.

You can add a copy of Star Wars ABC to your personal library by visiting your local bookstore. For other great book recommendations for kids, read through some of the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Write a Review Wednesday: Emily’s First Day of School, Helping Hand Books

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Charlesbridge’s Ace Lacewing Bug Detective: The Big Swat (age 5-8). With my youngest starting school this fall, I thought we’d look at Emily’s First Day of School (age 5-7), written by Sarah, Dutchess of York and illustrated by Ian Cunliffe. I have to thank Derry at Sterling Kids Publishing for my review copy.

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My 3-year-old received a welcome postcard from her new school today though school doesn’t start for another month. My daughter has been talking about school and even playing school games with her dolls and older sister, but sometimes pretend play can be different from the real thing.

Sterling Publishing‘s delivery of Emily’s First Day of School was timed perfectly for us. Part of the Helping Hand Books series by Sarah, Duchess of York, Emily’s First Day of School deals with Emily’s adjustment from staying at home with her mom to being in school all day. I like how Emily is a little apprehensive about school, excited but nervous. I think most kids feel that way, unsure of the unknown. I know my daughter does.

The book takes a brief look at the first day of school, more like a top line approach. Emily makes friends and keeps busy during her day and can’t wait to tell her mom all about it. The book, like all the Helping Hand Books, are designed to address new experiences young kids may face. The Helping Hand Books are meant for parent and child to read together, to open discussion and dialog on the subject being read. At the back of each book there are some Helpful Hints for parents, to help make the adjustment easier for the child.

In Emily’s First Day of School, the hints talk about how to prepare your child, how to help your child express their feelings and ensure the first day of school goes well for everyone. Although most of the tips are familiar, after having two kids already in the school system, they are a great reminder that it’s still the first day of school for my youngest.

My daughter loved Emily in the book. As we read the story, my daughter was all about doing what Emily was doing: drawing pictures, playing in the playground, making new friends. The book was a great way to talk about how my daughter felt and what will happen at school this Fall.

The following books are also part of the Helping Hand Books series: Ashley Learns about Strangers, Matthew and the Bullies and Michael and his New Baby Brother.

You can add Emily’s First Day of School to your own personal library by visiting your local independent bookstore. For other great book recommendations for kids, read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

How are you preparing your kids for the first day of school? Any books you’ve been reading?

Last Day of Camp

Friday was the last day of my 3-year-old’s first summer camp session. I think she really loved it. She went in as a little girl and came out a camp cat. Happy, until I told her we had to wash it off before bedtime.

Potty Training and Sleep Deprevation

Sometime I feel after three kids I should have all the answers, that raising kids should be easy, but each time I approach something with that attitude I’m proven yet again how wrong I am.

The latest example has been toilet training my youngest (now three). She’s great at using the bathroom during the day; she’s been accident free for some time. It’s the night-time training that’s proving a challenge. I expected the night training to lag behind the day time training. My two oldest took about a week or two to get the hang of going to the bathroom at night.

When she finished using her last pack of pull-ups at night I decided not to buy anymore , that’s it going cold turkey. I used the standard night-time training techniques that have worked with my other two kids: no drinks after dinner and going to the bathroom before bed. I even woke my daughter up before I went to bed to take her to the bathroom (a trick that worked well for my oldest daughter). But still my  youngest would have accidents.

I’m actually getting use to the morning routine of washing her sheets while we get ready for school. I’m trying to remain calm and supportive of my daughter,  I mean she’s not peeing her bed on purpose. But now, with a combination of me waking her to go pee and then her waking me when she has an accident (usually at 4 a.m.) I’m beginning to have doubts about what I’m doing. I think I’m starting to feel a little sleep deprived. I think my daughter is too if her melt downs and unhelpful behaviour during the day is any sign (but that could just be a sign of her being 3).

My problem is I’m stubborn. Just like when I was training my daughter to go the bathroom during the day, I thought the best thing at night was to go cold turkey (as in not using training pants). Yes during the day we still had accidents but not having the protection of the pull-up meant she recognized her need to go to the bathroom sooner. I hoped this same feeling would occur at night. But at night she’s asleep.

The other day I awoke realizing that my daughter my daughter didn’t come into my room for her usual 4:00 a.m. visit. Perhaps our persistance had paid off. Sadly no. Seems my daughter was so tired from the day before (or lack of sleep) that she didn’t even wake from her accident.

I know every child is different. I know some kids have difficult with night-time accidents, even much later than age 3. I guess I keep holding out hope that one morning she’ll wake to a dry bed, then another morning and another. But how long do I put both her and myself through these sleepless nights? Am I really doing the best thing?

Boy oh boy, if I’m struggling with my parenting skills over toilet training, I’d hate to see how I handle my oldest daughter getting a tattoo.