I've been reading a whole variety of books lately, both to myself and to my kindergartner Lydia. We Need to Talk by Celeste HeadleeA radio host and expert interviewer tells us "how to have conversations that matter" in this book that has a lot of good advice but might have worked better as a shorter … Continue reading Book Reviews All Over the Place!
Starting a new year, especially a new decade, always makes me want to look back at what's changed. I also love reading books to my kids that I and/or other relatives enjoyed when we were young. Here we have a book looking back at the 1920s that belonged to my paternal grandparents, a book that … Continue reading Old Books I’ve Been Reading in 2020
Lydia is in kindergarten now and easily picking up the "sight words" and phonics as they're taught. There's no need to pressure her to pick up reading any faster, but I pounced on this opportunity to help her practice by doing something she was really interested in doing! The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is one … Continue reading How playing Gollum can boost reading skills
I said that in 2019 I was going to write a series on this topic, and here it is New Year's Eve and I haven't! So here's my outline, and feel free to comment with questions about these topics, and I'll get to work on this in 2020! UPDATE: I've now filled in the outline … Continue reading 15 Ways to Build a Smarter Kid
As we wrap up the second decade of the twenty-first century, I've been reading and thinking about things like the effects of immigration policy on science and marriage, how the struggle against racism has changed over time, and what weird new technologies may emerge in the 2020s. Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler The cover emphasizes … Continue reading Vinegar Girl, Bright April, Tell the Machine Goodnight [book reviews]
My family spends a lot less time in the car than the American average, but we get into our car for hours-long errand binges some weekends and several long road trips each year. For the past three school years, my son had to be driven through urban rush-hour traffic to a weekly activity at dinnertime. … Continue reading Cutting Back on Car Snacks
My daughter Lydia is about to start kindergarten and is not really reading yet, only recognizing about 10 words. That's fine. When I was her age, I was reading on about a fourth-grade level, and that was fine, too--except that I got bored with the books in my classroom. My father mentioned to a co-worker … Continue reading Trixie Belden and the Little Fires Within You [book reviews]
There are various methods for teaching a child how to do household tasks and motivating her to be involved in the daily work of maintaining the family home. One that's worked well for me is this: Show the child how to solve a problem she created, and then extend her new skill into routine maintenance. … Continue reading How to Get Preschoolers to Help with Housework
Here are four books I read to myself and two I read to my daughter Lydia in the past month. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty Nine people check into a ten-day wellness retreat in rural Australia. Three of them are a family, two others are a couple, but otherwise they've never met before. Each … Continue reading Books for Myself; Books to Read to my 5-year-old
Next week, I'll be starting a new job! That's great news in general, but it means I only have two days left to savor my daily bus ride with my four-year-old Lydia, bringing her home from preschool. My new job's location makes it too difficult and time-consuming for me to get to Lydia's school by … Continue reading Two Books for Me, Two for My Four-Year-Old
After I wrote about a stranger's astonishment that my four-year-old daughter understands what I read to her, and the book involved happened to be On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder, my mom sent me a link to an article about the recent controversy over whether Wilder's books are appropriate for today's … Continue reading Cultural Sensitivity and Laura Ingalls Wilder
Tonight I attended a meeting at my son's school (grades K-8) about the decision to hire a full-time security guard and get a metal detector. I meant to do some research before the meeting on the extent to which schools with metal detectors have experienced shooting rampages, compared to schools without. I ended up not … Continue reading Do metal detectors prevent school shootings?
I love the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and have treasured the experience of sharing them with my children. Little House on the Prairie was the first chapter book that interested Nicholas enough for me to read it to him. His sister Lydia's first chapter book was Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of … Continue reading Little House on the Prairie: Too racist for children?
Are you the parent struggling to leave your child's school each day as he clings to your legs, screaming and crying? Is every morning a struggle to get yourself ready for work and your kid ready for childcare, while she delays in every way imaginable until you're shrieking in frustration, and then she looks at … Continue reading Coping with a Clingy Child
This is a guest post by Michelle Peng, who collected these resources on realistic ways to go green in everyday life. Save About $600 per Year by Switching to Solar Energy Financial Incentives for Green Home Improvements 18 Green Business Ideas for Eco-Minded Entrepreneurs Home Energy Conservation for Kids 5 Unique Ways to Go Green … Continue reading 10 Links for Greening Your Lifestyle
One of the hardest, most humbling things about being a parent is those moments when your child communicates with you using strategies that you've used with him or that he's seen you use with someone else--and you shouldn't have. We all have times when we do something to try to get another person to do … Continue reading Cooperation, Communication, and Consequences
We thought Becky Bailey's book Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline was a mixed bag that contained a few good techniques; this is one of them. Bailey talks about it in a more long-winded way, but I boiled it down to this formula, which I've found easy to remember and therefore to actually use in … Continue reading The X, Y, Z Method of Child Discipline
This is a guest post by Nicholas Efran. Key: ☆=1 star ⭐︎=1/2 star The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo This is a book about a mouse who gets sent to the dungeon for being different. He is in love with the princess in the castle he lives in. Then he discovers that a … Continue reading Book Reviews by a 10-and-11/12-year-old
My son Nicholas is in fifth grade. He and his friends Emma and Sadie have been running a recycling program at their school since third grade. Each year they have to make arrangements with the principal so that their recycling bins will be left alone by custodial staff and they have permission to go around … Continue reading Pen and Marker Recycling: Starting Year 3!
This is a story I've told my son Nicholas many times. It's entertaining for him, but it's also a story that really gets him thinking about right and wrong, temptation and resistance, punishment and forgiveness, what those kids who get into trouble all the time might be thinking, and many other interesting issues. It's inspired … Continue reading That Time I Caused Trouble in Sunday School