My dream is to spark a national conversation

My dream is to spark a national conversation about how massive parental involvement is the key to high quality education.

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Put Outlaw Words in their place

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Kids, Veggies and the Food Mover

If you’ve ever wondered “Have my kids eaten any vegetables today?” then this post is for you. Like many moms I’m engaged in a never-ending battle to get my kids to eat more vegetables. With my son it’s easy. He’ll try anything from kale to artichokes. My daughter on the other hand prefers “crunchy lettuce, … Continue reading

Put a window on it

Get out your scissors, moms and dads. Here’s a trick straight from the classroom that will make it easier for you to teach your child to read. Give your young reader a special bookmark called a word window. My daughter Jenna has just turned five-years old and is chugging along at a first grade reading … Continue reading

Lovely and Unique Journals for Children

What a happy delight! Seattle based Sasquatch Books sent me two beautiful journals for children: The Next 1000 Days: A Journal of Ages Two to Six by Julie Metzger and This Is Me: A Girl’s Journal by Nikki McClure. I was really impressed by each book, both as a parent and a former teacher. The Next 1000 Days is full … Continue reading

Helping Kids Understand Afghanistan

What’s behind the veil? Washington author Trent Reedy has crafted a powerful book that gives middle grade readers an inside look into the daily life of Afghan girls. I don’t want to give any secrets away, but Zulaikha, the main character in Reedy’s book Words in the Dust uses her chador to hide a clef palate, a birth … Continue reading

Veil of Secrets by Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel


Veil of Secrets by Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel is like a Ladies Home Journal “Can this Marriage be Saved?” article in novel form. It tells the story of a Washington DC power couple rocked by separation and shady decisions. Two other storylines interweave the plot including a 28 year-old with a big decision to make and a trust fund playboy looking for direction.

All of this made for a very compelling read, even though I had difficulty connecting to the characters. The main protagonist, Melanie, came across as extremely unlikable. To me she seemed like the type of sanctimonious Christian women who give Christians a bad name. Luckily that was tempered out by a secondary character from Seattle, who seemed much more in line with what I think and believe.

An interesting part of the story was a homeschooling mom’s attempts to practically shrink-wrap her daughter in order to protect her “purity”. Shannon Ethridge, if you’re reading this, I would really hope that you are following the Bill Gothard/ATI homeschooling scandal. You can read firsthand accounts of what happened on the website Recovering Grace or find out more at Homeschoolers Anonymous. The parallels with your book are chilling.  :(

P.S. I received a free copy of this book from BookLook in exchange for my honest opinions and review.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

 

Giving “blood sugar” new meaning

The kids and I had a lot of fun with this one. Be warned, it’s sticky! Thanks to Morning Hugs and Goodnight Kisses for the idea.

The sweetest science book ever!

What’s so great about doing science experiments at home with your kids? Watching them fall in love with science. What’s even better than that? Sitting on the couch reading a book while your spouse leads the activity. ;) For the past few weeks my husband and kids have been obsessed with a book called Candy … Continue reading

Teaching kids about Islam

Ramadan is the perfect opportunity to make a coffee table book display of all of the wonderful children’s books about Islam I’ve collected.  Just because I’m Christian  doesn’t mean I want my children to grow up ignorant about other religions!  In my “I Brake for Moms” column last Sunday called Ramadan is an opportunity to learn … Continue reading

Intensity Fades but doesn’t Forget

True story: Last night at about 11:38 p.m. I was down in the living room guiltily reading A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. I say guiltily because an hour before I told my husband “I was just going to read one more chapter.” Ha! Yeah, right. I heard my nine-year-old’s bedroom door open. “Mom?” he asked. “Are you staying up … Continue reading

A New Take on the Morning Message

Reading and Writing a daily Morning Message is a great way to teach young children to read. But when kids get bored, effectiveness goes out the window. So here’s an alternative–personalized letters. It takes more effort but is very impactful. What you do is write two or three letters to your child to read each day. Make sure … Continue reading

From Kindergarten to College, Parenting a Twice Exceptional Child is an Adventure

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I hope you are enjoying the third annual Parenting the Gifted Blog Tour. The following is a guest post from a homeschooling mom:

From Kindergarten to College, Parenting a Twice Exceptional Child is an Adventure

Being the antithesis of a Tiger Mom and embracing a completely ”go with the flow” philosophy toward education, I was completely caught off guard when our family’s babbling brook homeschool turned into a confused chaos of babbling brook, flowing river, multi-level white water rapids, and trapping eddies.

It all started rather innocently. I was baking cookies with my son, then 6. As we were putting the cookies on the cookie sheet, he looked up at me smiling and said, “Did you know if we put them in 5 rows and we put 4 in each row that there will be 20 cookies?” It was a startling conversation.

Educationally, I had been so focused on how little progress he was making in reading that I had never even noticed that his first grade math book wasn’t even the slightest bit challenging for him. So our babbling brook entered into the white water world of 2E.

Those two words, twice exceptional, unlock a unique combination of amazing gifts combined with significant struggles that our son both possesses and has overcome. While his uncanny visual-spatial skills and constant questioning shout exceptional talent, when he was young, they were often over-shadowed by an equally visible deficit, dyslexia, and a real struggle in learning to how to read.

The advantages of homeschooling rise quickly to the surface when teaching a 2E child. I could read advanced word problems for him to solve while he was still working on basic decoding skills. As he progressed quickly through mathematical concepts, he equally slogged through phonics, decoding, and spelling. He could discuss complex science concepts while still unable to write on grade level because his reading skills were so lacking.

Learning how to select appropriate resources became a necessity. Literature intense language arts programs were not going to work because he couldn’t read on grade level selections, yet neither would simple lower grade level materials work because intellectually he was ready for far more complex materials. It became a balancing act of selecting on-his-level readers combined with audio books which actually matched his abilities. So while he might have been reading a 5th grade level reader, he was listening to the Iliad.

By the time his reading level finally caught up to his grade level when he was around 10, he was already completing algebra. His writing skills were radically behind because of his spelling and reading skills. When he was finally ready to write something that was decipherable, his instruction needed to be significantly beyond introductory level writing. Because he was used to discussing and analyzing literature, he was able to quickly move beyond basic writing skills to analytical writing. By the time he was in high school, he was functioning above grade level in all areas, but he still faced, and continues to face, the major obstacle of slow reading speed.

As he approached college applications this past fall, he kept his reading speed in mind. He opted to not apply to many of the schools that appealed to his math and science side. He was concerned that schools that function on the quarter system versus the traditional semester system would overwhelm his ability to keep up with the reading.

The entire college application process was a roller coaster. The mantra is to find a university which fits the student. Reality, being what it is, means that the school also has to fit a family’s financial situation, not just student abilities. Our family’s situation matches what is described as the “donut hole.” The donut hole means we make too much money to qualify for much financial aid, but we don’t actually have the financial resources to pay for our expected family contribution. So, finances ended up driving our son’s decisions. Because I am sure our situation is not unique, here is what our son learned through this process.

Financial safeties are schools which a family can afford. Many universities are financial safeties because they offer scholarship money to top students to attract them to attend their institutions. These schools are not the top universities in the country, but they offer unique opportunities to attract top talent. These opportunities range from honors colleges to specialized honors programs. Our son was accepted into a specialized honors program which provides research opportunities for the 40 students accepted each year. The program guarantees the individual students the opportunity to participate in research in a field of their choice. Since our son’s goal is grad school and research, this program really attracted his attention during the application process.

When he traveled to the finalist weekend, he came home impressed. He said the students he had met during the finalist weekend were every bit on par with the friends he had made at The Summer Science Program. He felt the upperclassmen already involved in the program and the high school seniors there interviewing were definitely his intellectual peers and that collectively they represented a wealth of talent. The awards that participants in the program have received testify to the accuracy of his assessment. The program has Hollings, Goldwater, Mitchell, and Truman scholars. So, while this school might not have been at first glance a “fit” intellectually, through this honors program, our son is convinced that it is.

In addition, our son has been blessed by the generosity of this university. It allows students to stack scholarships. Stacking means that additional scholarships do not decrease the value of other scholarships. Not all universities allow stacking and will reduce monetary awards when other scholarships are earned. All in all, our son won four different scholarships from this university which translates into him attending full-ride. The cost differential between attending this school full-ride versus higher ranked schools with partial scholarship or institutional aid was between $100,000-$160,000 over four years.

Another factor that advanced students need to weigh is how universities view college credits earned in high school. For students like our son, those cumulative hours may be considerable. Since our son has completed numerous upper level math and physics courses, he will have enough credit hours transferring in that he is only a few hours short of being a college junior. In choosing a college, understanding how different schools view dual enrolled credit needs to be considered. Since the school our son has chosen allows the transferring in of credit, it opens the door for him to triple major without undue burden because he has already completed so many of the “in major” requirements.

Looking back over the past 13 years of our son’s homeschooling venture, I could never have anticipated the journey we took. I know that homeschooling allowed our son to thrive and never feel like he was incapable of succeeding. He never felt like a failure because he struggled. He was allowed to be himself and thrive where he was. Dr. Seuss penned, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” Homeschooling has allowed that to be true for our son.

Parenting the Gifted Blog Tour, 2014

Welcome to the 2014 Parenting the Gifted Blog Tour! Parenting a gifted child can sometimes be as challenging as it is rewarding. That’s why for the third year in row, parents from The Well Trained Mind Message boards have created a blog tour to share wisdom, joy, tribulations and advice. Starting Sunday, June 22nd the Parenting … Continue reading

Adventure Bible for Early Readers, review

There are several things I like about the Adventure Bible for Early Readers, published by ZonderKidz. (The publishers sent me a free copy in exchange for my honest opinions and review.) The 3D cover is really cool. I’m not sure if you can tell from the picture, but it’s a hologram of two kids heading off for … Continue reading

Social Emotional Learning over the Summer

Last summer I worked really hard to focus on Social Emotional Learning with my kids, instead of just academics. Here are some of the things we did: EQ versus IQ Showing genuine appreciation Gratitude Attitude Someone Else’s Shoes Be Nice to Your Sister/Brother Books Reverse Popcorn Jars This summer I’ve got a new plan cooked up. … Continue reading

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