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The little book with BIG resources!

The Road to a New Language

Thinking about trying something new as a family?  Learning a new language, perhaps?  Max, from our iFamily Mom & Dad Squad tells us about his family’s newest adventure!

new language

The Road to a New Language: Learning Spanish at Home

When I decided to stay home with my girls this year, I knew that I wanted to make the most of it.  I wanted to make sure that we try to have as many new experiences as possible.  Also that I would never let the fact that I am outnumbered or that it might be difficult, stressful, and mind numbingly slow to be the reasons that we would not go out to have a new experience. Our latest of which has been to try to learn a new language, Spanish to be more precise!

We love to travel to Mexico and try to get out there twice a year, but usually only make it once. We have taken the girls, despite the fact that our friends told us we were crazy to take them and our families consistent reminders that Mexico is dangerous. Both of which are topics for another post! We have been talking about trying some extended stays off of the all-inclusive resorts lately and so it was an easy choice for us to start having the girls take Spanish. My wife and I are somewhat of traditional Americans in that I took Spanish in 8th grade (because my English grade was good enough) before switching to German in 9th and 10th grade because:

1. It is obvious that German will be easier than Spanish.

2. If you have any desire to go to college you have to have two years of a foreign language.

3. And, most importantly, the German class included a trip to Germany!

All I can do is count to 10 & ask “what?!” in two languages.

My wife, on the other hand, took Spanish all throughout high school and into college, but her inability to find the class when she had to go to a new school is the only thing that stopped her from becoming a full-fledged bilingual woman after college. Our own experience also taught us to make it a priority to have the girls start learning a second language as early as possible.

Like any good parent, I took to my best resource (other than iFamilyKC) and asked Google if there were any Spanish classes for kids in KC. Sure enough, a couple of different websites popped up and we chose the one that had the best website. Now, once a week, we go to a small church to sing and play games in Spanish for forty-five minutes. We listen to the songs in the car from home to practice.  I’m happy to report that, after three weeks, I have no idea if my kids know any Spanish!  But, I am okay with that as we have several more weeks to go and, since we are not truly bilingual at home, it’s going to be something we are always working on so that they don’t lose the skill.

Taking classes is a good idea.  I get to go learn with them as well and the teacher gives tips on how to help at home. (Most of the students do not come from multilingual homes.) My wife and I will get better about using Spanish around the house which will help a lot, too. There is a part of me that suspects a switch to flip one day and start speaking fluently.  This way we can travel and attend Spanish events for Kansas City families. In the meantime, we will keep singing our songs and I’ll be sure to let you know how we progress.

Pro Tip: Learning a new language can be hard but there are resources available to your family to make the process a easier. Check out The Language and Music House for details on signing up to learn French, German, Japanese, or Spanish. Classes are available for ages 2 and up!

From iFamily to Yours,


Summer Learning: A Lesson On Telling Time

The kids are out of school but that doesn’t mean that summer learning has to stop. Becky, from our iFamilyKC Mom Squad team, has some great tips for continuing that learning for your kids over the summer. Take a look…

summer learning

Summer Learning: A Lesson On Telling Time

It’s summer time and the living is easy—unless you’re in my house and there are lessons to be learned! Chop, chop! Last week, it was all about introducing our 6-year-old to the concept of time. It was time well spent (sorry, had to). Here’s how I did it:

Get A Clock

summer learning

Get a clock, or better yet, make one together with a paper plate, some paper, markers and a brad. We already had this puzzle clock that worked great as a teaching tool. Or, take one right off the wall and take the battery out to use how you please. Hot tip: The Dollar Store also sells signs with moving clock hands like this:

summer learning

Use this clock to demonstrate time, quiz your child on time, and keep it throughout the day for the child to update the time.

Worksheets… I mean FUNsheets!

Every morning, practice with these FREE clock-themed worksheets here. For an incentive (it is summer) give him/her a bonus 5 minutes of TV/tablet/book time for every final worksheet answer they get correct.

summer learning

Schedule It!

Give your child a schedule to fill out and try and stick with it. They will quickly learn how you really can’t do everything in one day.

summer learning

Stopwatch

Finally, a real answer to “Are we there yet?” Let your child use your stopwatch app on your phone in the car to get a better understanding of how long it will take to get somewhere.

summer learning

Books & Dvds

Get a week’s worth of books and DVDs that are time-related from the library. From educational to silly, there are all kinds of kid books around the theme of time.

summer learning

Reward

Bonus! As an award learning how to tell time, at the end of the week take a field-trip to shop for a watch together. (Feel free to set a time limit on his/her decision.)

From iFamily to Yours,

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Becky Ervin is a creative director, mother of three, and blogs at PartyBoxKC.com/blog


Beat The Summer Slide: A How To Guide

Avoiding the summer slide can be difficult, especially when your children are eager to get out and enjoy pool time, run around with friends, and get away for that much needed family vacation. Make sure that your child doesn’t fall behind before the new school year starts with these six simple (and fun) ideas from Erin. Take a look…

beat the summer slide with six steps

 Beat The Summer Slide: A How To Guide

School is out for the summer!  My kids and I are embracing summertime full force with picnics, parks, pool time, and nature walks. We are loving summer and I know the “official start” to summer may be up for debate but it has definitely started in our house!  I definitely plan on sharing some super fun summer activities and boredom busters later on this season! However, I thought it was important to share with you some tips on beating the summer slide, where knowledge and skills are lost over the course of summer.  I read a statistic recently that said when kids go back to school in the fall that teachers will spend around six weeks re-teaching old material to make up for lost time.  My kids’ education is so important to me, so hearing that stat made me think about some ways to beat that summer slide and keep the kids learning and on track for the next school year.  Take a look at some ideas here and feel free to add your own ideas below in the comments.

#1 Read

Read 20 minutes a day. Read aloud. Have your child read to you. Listen to audio books. Lead by example and encourage your kids to read by enjoying a book yourself. Let your child pick out a book based on their own interests.  Read outside on sunny days or build a fort on rainy days and read inside the fort. Make it fun and engaging!

#2 Visit The Local Library

The MCPL branches have a fantastic summer learning program going on now until July 31st for ages birth to 19 years!  Kids can earn points by reading, doing small various activities at home and attending programs throughout the summer. Book prizes are awarded with each completed level and drawings are taking place throughout the summer for tickets to the Royals, Legoland, Powell Gardens, Coco Key, and much much more! Check it out and sign up online.

#3 Sharpen Math Skills

There are some awesome math apps out there like Reflex, which uses fun games to practice math skills.  You can also create good ole fashioned flash cards for addition and subtraction, multiplication and division facts.  Workbooks and activity books can be fun for road trips or for the daily commute. I’ve found some great flashcards and workbooks at Dollar Tree and Five Below.

#4 Take Field Trips

KC has SO many things to do for kids! Make it fun and educational by visiting fun places: Union Station and Science City, Money Museum, SEALIFE, KC Zoo, Harry S. Truman museum, Burr Oak Woods, National WWI Museum and the list goes on and on.

Pro Tip: Check out FieldTripGuideKC.com for inspiration on enriching activities for your kids! 

#5 Learn Around The House

Use everyday tasks you can encourage your kids to learn different things.  Take the kids grocery store and give them a chance to practice math skills, cook together, do fun science experiments with everyday household items, measure things inside and outside the house, chart the weather highs and lows and different weather patterns.

#6 Play Board Games

Uno, Monopoly, Bananagrams, Battleship, Memory, Hi Ho Cherry-O, Checkers and Chess, Dominoes are all great games to boost brain power!

By providing opportunities for your kiddos to keep learning throughout the summer months, you will give them an excellent head start to school in the fall and have some fun in the meantime!  And the teachers will thank you for it too!

From iFamily to Yours,

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