Category Archives: Learning

Talking to Your Kids: Ways to Open up Conversation

Do you ever feel like you know very little about your kids? I spend more time with my kids than I spend doing anything else in my life. Yet, I don’t always feel as if I know them deeply enough. What are they feeling, what are they thinking? How was their day at school? I mean I ask them this everyday, but I get those blah-blah answers that get us nowhere.

I have done a lot of reading on the subject and have discovered other ways to get my kids to open up, by using open-ended questions and asking them leading questions I have discovered so much more about their day and what they are feeling and thinking.

I joined a 5-day parenting challenge with Nina at Sleeping Should Be Easy, and we did a lot of research and practiced using special questions that helped to open conversations with our kids. She even has an ebook that helps stressed parents manage their time.

We are enjoying learning more about talking with our kids — instead of to our kids — and it has been helpful to find ways to be more productive as a family. Be sure to check out her ebook and try some of the open-ended questions with your kids. Even just using a few of them on the way home from school pick-up has changed the openness between my oldest and myself. I now know more about the first grade than I ever knew before!

Best Books: Magic Tree House Pirates Past Noon

We love to read at our house, and our kids bring home a new book from school every week to do their AR practice for class (Accelerated Reader Levels). Recently our oldest has become obsessed (and that is putting it mildly) with the Magic Tree House books.

If you have never heard of the Magic Tree House books let me explain, the series is written by Mary Pope Osborne, and each book follows Jack and Annie a brother and sister that discover a magic tree house filled with books. The tree house is owned by a magical enchantress, Morgan Le Fay, King Arthur’s half-sister. Morgan sends Annie and Jack on amazing adventures through time where they meet famous people, experience historical events, cultures, and interact with historical and legendary animals and creatures.

The books follow Jack and Annie on their adventures around the world and each book is different. Currently my oldest is reading Pirates Past Noon and is adventuring the high seas, finding mysterious maps, and searching deserted islands. The books each give insight in to the incredible time periods in which the story takes place. It is a great historical fiction adventure that teaches as the kids delve further and further in to the imaginary world of Jack and Annie.

The books are great for beginning readers, my oldest is a first grader reading 10-16 chapters in each book. However, there are also Merlin Missions that are for more advanced readers that can read longer books with a more extensive vocabulary. The Magic Tree House books also have a Fact Trackers line of books that allows your child to read the Non-Fiction facts used in the novels. it is an excellent way to connect the real world with their imaginary adventure.

If you have a young reader you should definitely check out one of the magic Tree House books, they truly are a world of imagination filled with increible real-life connections!!

Mindfulness for Kids and Families

Mindfulness can be a pretty big and confusing word, but if you break it down it is fairly simple to understand. According to Mindful.org:


Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

We have a lot of anxiety in our household. It sometimes causes us to be unable to participate in things, it can also cause us to rush to anger, lash out, or yell when we feel anxious or afraid. I know that my kids get their anxieties from me, I too suffer a lot of anxiety. It can be hard to understand how to make them feel better about something that I too struggle with. I try to maintain physical activity, practice self-care like alone time, and take moments to assess how I am feeling when I feel anxious about things. It is a daily struggle to try and incorporate my coping mechanisms.

When it comes to my kids I try to listen, not rush, and give them a moment to find their way when they suffer anxiety. I have found ways that help them to cope with their emotions by allowing them to turn to physical activities to reduce anxiety. I recently found a great flow chart that we printed out and have used to remind ourselves how to stop and be more aware of what we are feeling and find ways to deal with it. If you have kids that you think would benefit from being more mindful of themselves and the world around them try some of these ideas at home, and if like me you cannot always remember them when you need them print the flow chart out and keep it out where you can find it in the moment.