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Cultivating Curiosity

Children are born with a natural tendency toward curiosity. This is the way that we as humans naturally learn about the world. We have all experienced this as children are constantly asking a plethora of questions like: 

‘Why do you wear your hat like that?’

‘What are those spots on your face?’

‘What do you like to play?’

‘Why is the sky blue?’

‘Why do some dogs have long fur and some have short?’

Curiosity leads to a deeper engagement with what the child is learning. 

Through asking questions and finding the answers on their own, children learn many skills. They learn observation, patience, communication, theory development, and how to use new information to revise thoughts.

They learn that it is ok to take risks, they learn that sharing insight is important, they get the courage to try and replicate their learning. Children become empowered by choice and take ownership over the things that they are learning. This makes the learning deeper! When children are invested in their questions – they understand further, see connections to other areas of life, and can apply their learning to everyday. 

It is so easy to answer kids’ questions with statements like – ‘’because I do’, ‘because they are’, or ‘that’s just the way that it is.’ Those answers are easy, but, they are not helpful. By not taking a few extra moments to engage in children’s curiosities we are, without meaning to, squashing their desire to wonder. Diminishing their desire to learn about the things around them. 

Try by giving a quick explanation – ‘I like to wear my hat like this because it keeps the sun out of my eyes.’ This shows children that actions are intentional and that we are in charge of comfort. 

‘These spots on my face are called freckles. Everyone looks a little different but we are all special the way that we are.’ A quick explanation can lead to guiding inclusive thoughts about others.

If you don’t know an answer – tell that to the child, ‘I don’t know why the sky is blue, but I have always wondered that. When we get home let’s try to find the answer together.’

Kids ask questions to learn about the world and to learn about other people. We want our children to grow up being critical consumers of the world – understanding it and understanding their role in it. 

In order to do this, we have to continue to allow our children to ask questions, and when they do – participate in the wondering with them. 

What are You Reading At Home? Book Review: Be Kind

Picture books are some of the best ways to teach lessons to children. Reading together is  a non-emotional time in which your child is ready to hear how different situations are handled. Having a story also takes the lesson away from being directed at your child and therefore makes it much more comfortable.

Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller is about a child questioning the idea of what it means to be kind. There are many great examples in the book as the child reflects on what they have learned and new ideas that they might have. 

The illustrations are beautifully done – full of expression and using color to highlight feelings and meaning. The classroom, community and families in the story represent diversity so that many children reading the book have the opportunity to see themselves in it. 

This book can help your child learn and act on what it means to be kind to others in their life. Our world is always in need of kindness. 

If you are looking for some inspiration for books to read at home check out these pages on Instagram: 

@keepabookout

@kidlitismagic

@Culturally_diverse_kids_books

@wellreadwellled

Help your child fall in LOVE with reading!

Does your child moan and groan when it is time to read? Does it feel like pulling teeth to get them to sit and listen to or read a story?

We know that reading is vital to gaining knowledge, understanding the world, and one of the ultimate life skills. But how in the world can we get our child to fall in with love reading? 

There are a few different strategies to try to help your child become a reader. The first and most important one is PATIENCE. The parent must have patience. Each person has their own pace of learning. Their own pace of growth. This is true for children and adults alike. 

Children usually do not like reading for two main reasons – they have not found what they like to read either in subject or format OR they lack confidence in their reading skills or are reading books that are too hard for them. 

Here are some tips to help with both of those things!

Help children become aware of their own interests. Your child might say that books are ‘boring’ – if so, keep trying different topics until something hits an interest spot. We don’t know what we don’t know, and exposure to all sorts of different subjects can help to find something new and intriguing. 

Try many different book styles and formats. There are so many different formats of reading material. Think about all of the different things you read in a day. This blog post, instagram captions, news articles, signs, grocery lists the list goes on. Some different formats you could try with your children are: magazines, non fiction books, fiction novels, poetry, reviews of movies or games, comic books, instructional books like how to craft or cook and/or graphic novels. 

Build on a curiosity. Most children have certain topics or activities that intrigue them. Find a story that has a similar character to one they love elsewhere, is on a topic or sport they are interested in, or a nonfiction book that describes more about something they want to know about. Does your child love video games? If so, get them a cheat code book or an instructional book on how to defeat a level.

Start small. Overwhelming your child and forcing them to read day in and day out will create more resistance and a more negative attitude toward reading. Start with small chunks of time and varied approaches. 

Model it.  Engaging in reading in front of our children is so important – children will not think something is important if you do not also do it. Point out when you are reading it that your child might not have noticed before. Say out loud ‘I am going to read the grocery list’ ‘I loved reading that comic strip’ Show them that it is something that you do in different ways everyday. 

Engage with your child. Read with your children. This shared experience can build your bond. This is also a great opportunity to help children who don’t have a lot of confidence in their reading ability feel comfortable knowing that they have your support with the text. 

Talk about books. Ask your child about the texts that they are engaged in. Ask them what they liked and didn’t like about it. Engaging in conversation about the things children read (books, reviews, grocery lists etc) helps to show the importance of reading. It also helps you to get to know them as a reader and choose things in the future that you learn they will like. 

Growing your child as a reader does not have to be a difficult task. Take a deep breath, be prepared to have patience and start trying some of these different strategies with your children.

The WHY Behind My Career

I love educating. I love helping. My passion is to teach others things they need to know in order to be successful with their goals.

And it is something that I have been doing for over a decade. 

I started out my experience in education in the traditional sense. Training to work in the classroom. The plan, teach kids academics and skills that would help them move into the world. The why, because it was everything that I needed

I grew up in a home that did not have positive adult role models. My parents were divorced and I saw my dad once or twice a year. My mom worked multiple jobs, and when she wasn’t working, she was spending her time at the bar. My dad and my mom’s boyfriends were not the type of guys we could have been protected or supported by, even if they were around. Starting when I was in second grade my sister and I were on our own to make the majority of our meals, take care of our home, get ourselves to school and basically do life. 

As you can imagine, this left very little time for me to learn a lot about life that I should have been guided through. There is only so much you can learn while making another batch of mac ‘n cheese alone or dishing up some crackers and cheese for dinner each night. 

I had to learn to interact with people and to understand social cues. I needed help in strategies to gain knowledge and ideas, to learn how to use my creativity, to problem solve. I had to develop and hone my skill of being a critical thinker and a hard worker who persevered through difficult things. These were not strategies that I got from my parents. These were strategies that I learned through, yes my time raising myself, but also my time in the classroom.

I was fortunate enough to have not just teachers – but educators – who were invested in me. They knew that I needed more than most, and they gave it to me. 

I wanted to give back in the same way. 

So I did. I took my passion and worked with low income and minority communities. Sharing life skills, not just academics, and creating more passionate, creative, resilient people to put out into the world. 

Now, my goal is to work with parents too. To build these same strategies in their children. Our world needs it. It will always need it. And we have the power and the ability to do this work!

The Teacher Parent

When you stop to think about it, we are all making history. 

Everything that is happening in the world right now are things that people on our planet in decades to come will learn about, and hopefully learn from. 

This year in education will be unlike any other year that we have had. 

Families will be managing a large portion of education from their guest rooms, living rooms, and dining tables. Instead of high fives, hugs or handshakes at the end of the day, kids will be dropping emojis in chat boxes. 

This is a different time. 

And different times call for different actions. 

As parents at home, we each need to pull on different skills, set up our routines in a new way, and wrap our brains around the new emotions and feelings of each person in our household. 

This is no easy task. And like most new but great things, it will get harder before it gets easier. 

Parents will be frustrated, kids will be confused, there will be tears, and probably some arguments. BUT there will also be reading, growing and problem solving, as well as laughter and smiles.

We are embarking on at-home learning for the vast majority of children. Lessons will be conducted by teachers through zoom calls, read alouds will be pre recorded and set in an online platform  to watch at your leisure, and kids will submit their assignments online. All of this while you, the parent, are working your full time job in the next room. 

How will you manage? What will you do? What does your role as the Parent-Teacher look like? 

I have created a guide to help you answer those questions. This downloadable document is full of helpful advice for setting up your learning space, insightful instructions for planning your day, information about the learning process and printables for you and your child to help get you rolling into success this school year. 

Keep an eye out – this document will be available next week!

Make sure that all of your friends and family are signed up for the Whole Human Community email list in order to have access to The Parent Teacher Guide first!

Whole Human Family Wellness

My passion, for as long as I can remember, has been to help people do and be better. Whether that meant helping to inspire and encourage friends, teaching the younger generation, building skills and abilities in those about to graduate and go into their career or bringing new ideas to those who have been in their profession a while. 

I have helped educate many different people of many different ages for over a decade now. The depth and breadth to which I have been able to practice my craft has really helped me to see what I like the most. Which in reality is – all of it. 

I love educating. I love helping. My passion is to teach others things they need to know in order to be successful with their goals. 

When I began Whole Human and created this community, it’s focus was on educating and empowering individuals to focus on their health in a sustainable way. To reach their goals in a way that fit for their lifestyle and created confidence and happiness. 

In working with parents in this structure – I was able to remember back to how impacting whole families through my time in the classroom mattered a lot to me. It struck my heart over and over again. It made me realize the wider impact I was having. So, I am bringing that back. 

I have chosen to add and focus on Family Services within the Whole Human Community, and I am so excited about it!

Please take a moment to cruise around the Whole Human website and see some things that I will be offering to parents and to their children. Click in to and follow the WholeHumanCommunity Instagram and see the new posts there! Take a moment to share my website and Instagram with any and all parents that you think would be interested or benefit from tips and tricks on raising their children to be productive members of our global community. 

Thank you all for your support in the Whole Human Community so far, and thank you for your support into the future!

Making Reading at Home Meaningful

Sometimes reading with your child at home can seem like a daunting task. We all know how important the skill of reading is. Making sure that your child gets adequate and meaningful practice can sometimes be an overwhelming focus. 

Today I want to share with you four easy steps to use while reading with your child to help make your reading time together very meaningful. These easy steps to add to your reading routine will increase your child’s understanding of the story and help them to learn and retain the moral or meaning behind it!

Previewing a Text

Background knowledge is a huge part of how we make sense of the world. When we examine a book before we read it, we are tapping into and activating what we might already know about the subject!

Look at the cover of the book together – what do we see? What clues do you have of what might happen in the book? What do you know about those things?

Let’s use the book – She persisted as an example. You might ask these questions: Who do you think will be in this book? What does ‘persisted’ mean? 

In answering these questions together – you and your child will realize this is a book about girls who don’t give up. You would follow up by asking – what do you know about not giving up? 

While Reading

Stopping periodically while reading gives your child time to process what is happening. It is important that your child can remember the main or impactful events that are happening in the story and can identify them. When you stop you can ask your child: What is happening in the story? What is the character doing? Why is this happening?  

It is also a great time to make predictions. Tap into your child’s background knowledge that you built before and guide them to making predictions of what will happen next. 

With our example text, if they know or if you learned together that having persistence means going through hard things, then they will guess a hard thing for the character will be next. If your child notices the pattern of a new girl and her story featured on each page, then they will guess that the next page will be a new female character who tried very hard at something. 

After Reading

Retelling a story in order shows that your child understands sequencing and is comprehending the story. Ask your child what the book was about (summary of the most important ideas is a hard task) and what happened (literal comprehension of small details). 

Reflecting is a very impactful part of reading. It is when we take the time to digest the moral of the story and what we can do about it. No matter what type of text we are reading, there is something to be learned from it. Ask your child – Why does this book matter for you in your life? How does this story make you feel? What does this story make you want to do?

Stopping to preview, ask, think and reflect are easy steps to add depth to your daily practice of reading with your child!

Why Does Play Matter?

Remember when you were a kid and you always had to do your homework before you could play?

For a very long time, we were shown and told that the only way to learn was by sitting in a room with an all knowing adult at the front.

Play, it turns out, isn’t a luxury, it is a necessity. It is a vital part of the learning process.

Play gives children the ability to practice scenarios that might happen in life. It builds their background knowledge of different people, places, activities and lifestyles.

When children play they learn how to read body language and facial expressions, they learn social cues and how to understand and work with their own emotions. Children who speak different languages benefit from interactive play as it creates context for spoken language.

Fantasy play grows abstract thinking and self regulation.
Constructive play fosters problem solving, deepening understanding of the topic, connecting and questioning.
Games with rules enhance logic, strategy, planning as well as competition and resilience.
Horseplay fosters self regulation and emotional management.

Even as adults – our play might look different than our children’s but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t help us to learn. Being a marathon runner gave me so many lessons in perseverance and hard work!

Engaged and playful learners become engaged and playful people of the world.

What is your favorite way to play with your child?

Resource: Purposeful Play

How I Plan to Reach My Goals in 2020!

Having goals is great! It truly is one of my most favorite things about life. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a very goal oriented person. I encourage everyone I know to set goals and to go for them. But having a goal, honestly, is not enough.

You can’t just think about having a goal, pick one, then end up there. You have to be deliberate, dedicated and consistent. The easiest way to be those three things is to create a plan and then follow it.

I shared my 2020 goals with you last week. Each of those goals has a plan behind it. The plan for our financial goal includes a weekly spending budget and a monthly review of how we did and what adjustments we need to make. This monthly review is already scheduled into each month for the entire year.

For my lifting goals, I don’t just go into the gym and hope that it happens.

  • I am deliberate in creating my workout split.
  • I have invested in material and studied how to blend my lifting and running to get the biggest bang for my buck.
  • I have thought about my goals and tailored the workout moves for those specific goals.
  • I have created a calendar that will help me to implement these things in a time span that makes sense.
  • I have planned in accountability with my lift partners to help motivate me to get these things done each week.
  • I have looked ahead each week to anticipate if there is anything that could get in the way of executing my plan – if so, I adjust ahead of time.

For my running goals I have done the same.

  • I have invested in learning what running split will work best for me.
  • I have invested in time with my physical therapist to pre-hab and keep me running injury free
  • I have scheduled stretching and warming up into my weekly workouts and routine
  • I have looked at my year long running and picked races/events in a timeline that will allow me to build a proper base.
  • I have invested in getting my heart rate calculated so that I can use it as a training tool.
  • I have accountability partners for running that help motivate me to get my runs in even when the weather is crap.
  • I have invested in equipment that is right for me (ex. shoes, BodyGlide, comfortable run gear)
  • I tailor my weight lifting moves to be functional for running with help from studying and my physical therapist recommendations.
  • I tailor my nutrition to fuel me through my runs and help with recovery.
A snapshot of January!

As I was typing out these lists of things – I was honestly surprised that the list was so long. There are SO many things that go into reaching a goal. And doing all of these things won’t even guarantee that I get there. These are just the things that I can control. Making a plan and executing it the best that I can.

Having this list of things also makes me feel so accomplished. Each time I do one of my workouts or runs or even stretch or finish all of my water for the day, I celebrate it. Every single step, small or large, toward your goals should be celebrated. It is hard work, and you did it. I think it is so important to build that positivity and ride it all the way to the end!

I’m curious – what do you do to make sure that you reach your goals? What do you feel is the #1 thing that helps you to get there?

2020 Goals: 1/12th of the Way There!

January went by so quickly! I feel like it was a SOLID start to my goals for the year. But what are my goals this year?

At our goal planning getaway in December

Each year, Jon and I sit down and make goals in different categories. Our Finances, Body and our Soul. I want to share them with you today!

finances

I won’t share the specifics here, because finances are private, but we created a very strict budget that will allow us to do a lot of fun things this year – and we want to really adhere to it! Our biggest goal is to stay on track with our plan which will allow us to: travel to two weddings, take a European vacation, travel for two 30th birthday weekends, drop Jon’s album with music videos and merchandise, pay off my car all while paying off some debt.

body

We have a ton here! I am excited for all of the goals in this area this year! I think that I have looked ahead at my running and lifting and have been able to make some goals that will push me but are also achieveable.

running

Run 1,600 miles this year! An average of 30 a week.
Run a half marathon in the 1:3X:XX time range.
Run a full marathon again!

lifting

Bench press 130lbs
Squat 200lbs
Do 6 reps of weighted pull ups

We also have the two weddings that we are going to one in Las Vegas in March and one in Mexico in June. For the first time in a while, Jon and I both feel like trying to do a cut beforehand. It has been a couple of years since I focused on making my abs show again, and I think that I am ready for it.

We have created a schedule and plan to stay consistent with it in order to reach these goals. I plan to run 5times a week, lift 3 times and have a dedicated stretch routine 2 times a week. Before every lift I am dedicated to (though I loathe) warming up first. I also will stick with the pre-hab run routines that I have gotten from Jay and Rachel at Therapydia. They have really helped to keep my healthy and running.

soul

This year I want to learn Italian because – we are going to ITALY! For our anniversary in October we plan to celebrate in Italy – a dream of mine come true! I started practicing Italian using the DuoLingo app and so far I like it.

I also want to continue my goal of body confidence. Last year I focused on loving myself and being proud of myself. Part of this was buying new clothes that fit and doing a lot of positive self talk. I want to continue this. And also practice creating new outfits with my new clothes!

I also want to prioritize keeping a cleaner house. Its not like our house is dirty per se – I just feel like we are less proactive and more reactive in cleaning. So… I want to be better with it.

I’m reading 12 books again this year – last year I was super successful with this goal and actually read 18 or 19. One thing I’m doing first is reading all of the books that I own and haven’t read yet, before I let myself buy any new books. Collecting books is my favorite!

Also, thanks to my girl Carly, I’m washing my face every night before bed in 2020!

What are some of your goals for 2020? Share them so that I can cheer you on!