“I’m So Proud of Myself”

I try really hard not to tell my kids I’m proud of them. 

I know that sentence was really harsh, but I have your attention now, right? 

I try not to tell my kids I’m proud of them, but instead rephrase it by saying, “Are you proud of yourself?” or, “You should be very proud of yourself!” 

I am proud of them, I really am! But their own pride in themselves will carry them much further than my being proud of them ever will. 

It’s not something I do 100% of the time, I still find myself exclaiming, “I am so proud of you!” often. But I throw in enough “You should be proud of yourself” to balance it. 

At school this week, my kindergartener was awarded as a “red cape runner” for having the most improved testing scores for the class that month. She, along with others from the school, was given a red cape and they all ran through the hallways with We Are the Champions blasting over the speakers. It was a way to celebrate their hard work and dedication, and it was amazing as a parent to have the chance to watch these children, just beaming with pride, run through the hallways. 

Afterward, when I had the chance to talk to my daughter, I told her that she did amazing and we were so happy we could come to watch her. She responded with, 

“Mom, I am SO proud of myself right now!” 

My eyes instantly filled with tears. It was the first time she had told me she was proud of herself without any prompting from me. And for that, I was extremely proud of her. 

Her own self-pride will carry her further in school than any praise I can give her. It will also drive an intrinsic motivation in her school work, to see that if and when she puts in the time and dedication, she can and will achieve great things, and she can do it to be proud of herself, not just to make me proud. 

One proud little Red Cape Runner

Featured Image by Kayla Wright

Teacher Appreciation Week: Gift Ideas That Teachers Really Want

It’s that time of the year again, teacher appreciation week! You know, the one where they receive a new mug and countless candies that they will never finish? 

We all know that it’s well-meaning and so, so kind of parents and community members to think of teachers! But here is a little guidance (and a free printable!) that might help with gift-giving ideas this teacher appreciation week. 

Courtney Jones (@support_a_teach) on Twitter asked teachers what they really want for teacher appreciation week, it’s interesting to hear what they have to say. The most common answers I saw were handwritten notes from students or parents, gift cards, and classroom supplies. 

Another great way to figure out what teachers want is… to ask! Ask them directly what they want. It can be a little daunting as both the one asking and the one answering, but there are clever ways you can get around this. 

  • If your student is old enough, have them quiz their teacher on favorite drinks, stores, needed classroom supplies, etc.! It’ll be fun detective work for them and it’s a great bonding experience for them. 
  • If your student can write, have them write a little quiz for their teacher to take and send back. If they can’t write yet, write or type it out yourself and send it to school with your student. 
  • Email or text the teacher! This gives them time to think it over and respond. 

When all else fails or resources are thin, taking some time out of your day to write a little note or have your child draw a picture will be more than enough. 

Here is a week of gift ideas with printables you can send with your student to school each day: 

Monday: Target Gift Card: “Thank you for keeping me on TARGET this school year”

Tuesday: Fresh Flowers “Thank you for helping me BLOOM”

Wednesday: Dry Erase Markers “You really help us hit the MARK”

Thursday: Hand Soap “HANDS DOWN the best teacher around”

Friday: Clorox Wipes “You really help us SHINE”

You can send one for each day of the week or just one gift for the whole week. Any and all effort put in will be noticed and appreciated by teachers. 

Printables below are available for FREE download:

Where We Draw the Line With Extracurriculars

My oldest is 5 years old and we are already deep in the trenches of managing extracurriculars. It’s mind-boggling that we would even be at this phase of life already when she’s only in kindergarten. Yet she comes home roughly every six weeks with a new flyer from our Recreation District about soccer signs up, t-ball the next time, and basketball the month after. And the discussion between friends always starts at school, “Are you playing soccer this year? I am, I want you to be on my team!”

While I am very impressed with our Rec District and happy they are providing these opportunities for our community, I’m also an overwhelmed parent that can’t keep up with practices and games and everything else that comes with each sport! So, we don’t

When do we finally call it quits? 

Well, there are a lot of factors to consider. I love Mary’s perspective on this topic. I’d also like to add that we live in a very small community and participating in extracurriculars and spending Saturdays on the soccer fields is a huge community event where we all know one another and have time to socialize. This factor plays in when making a decision! 

But my biggest selling point for this decision-making process is time for free play. Are my kids coming home from school, rushing to change clothes and eat a snack, just to get back in the car and head to soccer practice? Once in a while, that’s fine! One night a week we live this way so we can make it to a tumbling class, and it’s an overall benefit to our whole family. But the rest of the week they come home, have some downtime by themselves or with screens, and then spend the rest of the evening deep in play, sometimes inside, sometimes outside. Sometimes we involve friends and neighbors, sometimes we don’t! 

But play is the real work of childhood, not basketball. Not choir practice. So when all of these extracurricular activities start interfering with playtime, that’s where and when the line is drawn in our family. 

It’s always a tricky road to navigate, though! How do you decide which extracurriculars and how many your child can and will be involved in? 

Other helpful posts:

Parents Tips For Parent-Teacher Conference Season

Parent Teacher Conference season is quickly approaching along with the end of the school year, for some schools. If this doesn’t apply to you, give this article a read and then save it for next fall when you’ll inevitably want to read it again.

My first piece of advice for you is to identify if your school does Parent Teacher Conferences or if they do Student-Led Conferences. These two different types of conferences can sometimes look vastly different, so knowing what to expect going in is helpful.

An article that is helpful for Parent Teacher Conferences:

Articles that are helpful for Student Led Conferences:

Dear Future Teacher Me

Dear Future Teacher Me, 

I know it’s been a few years since you graduated with your teaching degree and received your teaching license (OKAY it’s been more than a few.) But someday you’ll find yourself back in the classroom teaching again when it feels suitable for your family. Someday you will walk through those doors to set up your own classroom instead of walking your own to theirs. 

And someday when that day comes, there are things you need to remember to carry with you that you learned during your time as a parent in the school setting instead of a teacher. 

Remember that all you ever want is what’s best for your kids. So when it feels like a parent won’t get off your back about something, remember that really all they want is what’s best for their child. 

Remember that you’re doing the best you can to support your children’s teachers, but sometimes it’s hard to be as supportive as possible because your life is busy and there’s a lot going on. So someday when you feel like you’re not getting enough support in your classroom, remember that these parents have multiple children and jobs and responsibilities. Their time to volunteer may not be right now. 

Remember that every day you send your children to school and worry immensely about their safety, but also place a lot of trust in the teachers and staff of the school to do everything they can to keep them safe. Remember this, because someday parents will be sending their kids to you and expecting the same. 

Remember that you think so highly of your kid’s teachers and are constantly impressed by what they are able to create and do in their classrooms and that someday, parents will think the same of you. 

Remember that you often forget to convey your gratitude and appreciation for your kid’s teachers and that parents will forget just the same. But that doesn’t mean the gratitude and appreciation aren’t there. 

Most of all, remember that you love your own kids, but you’ll also love your students like they are your own kids, too. Someday, you’ll make a great teacher. You may not have been teaching in a classroom for the last several years, but you’ve done your fair share of teaching with the children in your home, and that experience will carry over to your classroom someday, too. 

You’ve got this. 

The Best Way for Kids to Prepare Over Summer Break is to…..

Summer break is… almost here? I’m not sure how the weather is where you are, but we seem to be having a very late spring here! Either way, school will be out before we know it. 

That means parents and teachers will be hit soon with ads all over the internet from programs boasting about how great their summer workbook is for kids. Or an online curriculum they can follow through the summer to be “second-grade ready!”

But do you know what these students need over summer break? 

They need to play. Like, REALLY play. Not structured “Let’s add a manipulative to make it seem fun and call it play!” No. They need unstructured, free time to immerse themselves in a world of play. 

They need access to good literature. This means books they might find interesting or want to read, and this also means adults or older kids that read to them. Pack away the reading charts and trackers, just pull out some books and let it come naturally. 

They need to sing. As loud as they can, at the top of their lungs, or just casually as they play. They need to hear and feel and sing music, whatever suits them and your family. 

They need to color and draw and create. No, stop. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Yes, Pinterest has millions of cute crafts your family can do. And sure, you can do them! But what your kids really need to carve out space for is unstructured creative time. Where they can write and draw and have access to craft supplies (within your means/ comfortability level) and let their imaginations go wild. 

They need to be engaged in daily conversation. Discuss why the world is the way it is. Ask questions about their favorite characters from books and movies. Get them chatting about the pro baseball player they look up to or the new video game releasing soon that they’re looking forward to. Tell them about your plans for the day, and tell them your thoughts on the political happenings of the time. Engage in whatever conversation they are willing to have with you.

They need you to not feel guilty about screen time. Everything in moderation! Spending time outside is fantastic! Reading books is great! Diving into an art form is incredible! Screens are amazing! If you spend your summer berating them for spending too much time on screens it can lead to bad effects that you don’t want, like hiding their screens so they don’t get caught, or feeling poorly about themselves for wanting screen time. 

And the last thing they need? More play. More time just being a kid and enjoying their time away from academic pressures. What your kid needs most this summer… is to just, be a kid

Learning in the Wild: The Herrett Center for Science and Arts

Our favorite learning days always happen to be the impromptu ones. One day when we were out running errands in Twin Falls, Idaho, we decided we needed a break. We were driving past the College of Southern Idaho and chose to stop in at the Herrett Center for Science and Arts. It’s a fantastic museum full of Idaho history as well as a planetarium with showings each day. 

We explored a few of the live animals. They had, a tarantula and a very large snake… I wish I could remember what type of snake it was, but I didn’t get a picture. Mostly because I didn’t want to go too close, snakes are not my thing! We took a minute to learn more about those specific animals and the environments they need in order to survive.

We walked through the exhibit of Native Americans in Idaho showcasing how they lived, what they ate, etc. We didn’t have a single worksheet or checklist on a clipboard to tell us what to look for or how to learn, yet we (yes, even myself), walked away with new knowledge. 

Learning doesn’t have to be uniform or done in a specific way. It can be a day out running errands and deciding to stop in at the local museum. It can be exploring all of the different rooms with rocks and plants and art pieces. It’s practicing new reading skills while reading a sign about fish in Idaho because it’s interesting and fun.

Learning in the wild is still learning.