How Kindergarten taught my kids to ‘hate learning’

I feel pretty strongly that kids shouldn’t hate kindergarten. They also shouldn’t fail kindergarten. My two did both!

They should be given a safe and enriching environment in which to learn through play. Kids at that age naturally want to learn about everything around them, including letters and numbers.

There is nothing to gain and so much to lose by forcing kids to learn to read and write before they’re ready- and that’s not even addressing special needs. When you toss learning disabilities into the mix, you end up teaching kids to believe that they are inferior, stupid, and worst of all – that they hate to learn.

I know whereof I speak. It took two years after his kindergarten experience before my son stopped insisting that he ‘hated to learn’ or do ‘school work.’ My daughter, who used to sit and do letter and math worksheets for fun, now can’t stand them. After one semester of kindergarten, she stopped liking anything you refer to as ‘school work.’

This is why, if you ask them what they did for school that day (which people do…I trust that it is out of habit rather than trying to make sure I actually ‘taught’ them something that day…) they will respond with something like “Oh, we didn’t do school today!”

I’m usually equally divided with pride that I successfully taught them in ways that didn’t resemble what they experienced as ‘school’ in kindergarten – and gripped with concern that I’m about to have to ruin all that effort by explaining (typically in great detail) to the inquisitor what ‘facts’ my children actually learned that day when they were ‘just having fun.’ ::head:table::

Things that they love doing or watching suddenly become torture as soon as you mention anything about ‘school’ or ‘learning.’ This breaks my heart. Learning is the most interesting thing we do in life! Anything you do – unless you sit and stare at the wall all day (and you’re probably still learning SOMETHING) involves learning in one way or another.

There are about as many ways to learn important information as there are people who need to learn it. My goal is to provide information to my children through methods that best fit the ways they each learn. Why in the world should we force kids to learn in ways (or at a pace) that not only don’t fit their needs, but actually deter them from a desire to learn?

The traditional school setting did not provide my children with appropriate ways to obtain information for their learning profile. Sure, I could force the school system to provide what they are legally required to provide for my children’s ‘free and appropriate public education’ – but it’s not my job to fix the system. It is my job to raise my children and to be sure that they are adequately prepared for adult life – with minimal trauma from under informed or over pressured teachers.

It is my well considered opinion that kindergarten is too young to learn that you hate school- or that you don’t measure up to the apparent standards someone (who knows nothing about you) has set. It is too early to be taught that you are not smart enough or can’t keep up with expectations.

This article from The Washington Post explains a number of great points regarding troubles with current kindergarten requirements.

I just barely resisted quoting the entire article…you should definitely read the whole thing – and/or watch the video– but here are the highlights. This is exactly why both of my school aged kids only made it halfway through Kindergarten before begging to homeschool (and why I agreed with them whole heartedly).

“Research shows greater gains from play-based programs than from preschools and kindergartens with a more academic focus…

We are setting unrealistic reading goals and frequently using inappropriate methods to accomplish them…

Kindergarten has, since the 1980s, become increasingly academic — with big pushes from President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and President Obama’s Race to the Top — and today many children are being asked to do things they are not ready to do…

Teacher-led instruction in kindergartens has almost entirely replaced the active, play-based, experiential learning that we know children need from decades of research in cognitive and developmental psychology and neuroscience…

Two recent studies show that direct instruction can actually limit young children’s learning.”

~Washington Post

In even the short time between my son’s kindergarten experience and my daughter’s, expectations have been raised. She also struggles with a learning disability but quite obviously is stronger in reading and writing than her brother. She can read better than he currently can (he is profoundly dyslexic, though very bright…but that is a topic for another day) and certainly better than he could in kindergarten, yet her grades were lower than his had been.

When I inquired about this in a conference with the child study committee meeting I requested, I was told that the report cards can be misleading to parents. I pointed out that I compared their grades and their actual tests side by side and that she had more correct answers but a lower score. I was told that kindergarten has gotten more challenging in the two years since my son was there.

They explained that they were all being held to higher standards and even kindergarten has been affected. They then told me that even though it was possible that my five year old daughter could actually fail kindergarten, and that she has a known learning disability, they did not feel that she needed any additional help through special services.

That did it for me. Not only were the schools doing it wrong two years ago, they still are – and it’s getting worse! They expected her to perform beyond her ability and weren’t even willing to go any extra distance to meet her where she was.

She had gone from begging to go to school three months before, and being so excited to learn that she could hardly stand the wait, to begging us to let her stop going.

Two for two so far, public school system. I’m not impressed.

You can have my children for the majority of every day, of every year for 12 years if you are up for the job- but you can’t break them. You can’t take a child who is dying to learn and in three months strip away that desire to the point that they recoil at the use of the words ‘school’ or ‘learning’.

You’re doing something wrong. That’s why we don’t do school anymore. You missed your chance…and a lot of other parents agree with me.

Sent from my iPhone


On Vaccinations

I’m all for parents making the best decisions they know how for their children- even when that flies in the face of what is commonly considered ‘the right thing’ to do. As a homeschooling parent who leans toward unconventional methods of unschooling, I incessantly face opposition from people who I’d much prefer to be supported by.

I also have a good number of people whom I love and respect who choose not to vaccinate, and want very much to support their right to make their own parenting choices.

That said- I’ll probably do everything I can to stay very far away from you and your children if you don’t vaccinate your little people. I support pediatricians who refuse to take on clients who aren’t vaccinated to protect the other children who are to young or unable to vaccinate.

I have one too young to vaccinate and I haven’t had the measles but I HAVE had encephalitis, and I would do absolutely anything in the world to keep my children from experiencing that.

I also don’t want them to get a ‘less intense’ version of the measles, which is possible even with the vaccine. I don’t want ME to get it either. If I get a cold I’m frequently laid up for 6 weeks and 75% of the time I end up in the ER. From a cold that most people don’t even notice they have or bother staying home with bc ‘it’s just a cold’ to them.

I just learned that one of our new friends has an illness that keeps her body from healing when she gets sick with anything- and a cold could actually kill her. She’s four. I didn’t ask, but she very well may not be able to be vaccinated bc of her illness. Many people can’t for one reason or another.

I know it must be frustrating to have other people not agree with your decisions with respect to vaccinations. I really do sympathize with you there…but could you please stay back about – oh- 600 to a thousand feet?



Advent Treasure Hunt!

Today is the first day to check off on your Advent Calendar!!! You may have seen my Advent Guide – if not, I’d love for you to check it out! I look forward to celebrating the Christmas season with my kiddos pretty much all year long, and typically start coming up with fun ideas in mid October. I always, however, end up working on my plans at the very last minute at the end of November. The Advent Guide helps me have a general plan already in place, and keeps me inspired to create a fun holiday atmosphere at my house each year.

This year we are doing clue hunt and I just spent about an hour (interrupted about a million times) coming up with some ridiculous rhymes for my older two to solve. I’m sharing them mostly just for fun, but also to encourage you to think about ways that you can create a fun holiday spirit at your house. These silly clues will be in our advent calendar and will lead them to the day’s Note. The Notes explain a little something about Christmas, God, Jesus, or some other faith based tidbit and may be accompanied by a small gift or surprise activity for the day. Check out our previous posts about Advent for more ideas!

So, here ya go! A list of silly rhyming clues for our Advent Calendar hunt this year!


  1. Decipher this clue if you are able, and find your first note under the __(table)____.


  1. A clue hunt is a very fun thing – to find your next note look under the __(swing)____.


  1. What could today’s note have in it? You’ll find out if you look in the living room _(cabinet)____.


  1. Hiding in a spot that is snug as a bug, today’s note is beneath the front hallway _(rug)_____.


  1. Today’s special note you don’t want to lose! Look in the cabinet where you keep your _(shoes)_____.


  1. When Barrett is poopy and smells really bad, we lay him down on his changing _(pad)______.


  1. If you play these alone it’s just not the same – go look in the cabinet where we keep the __(games)______.


  1. If someone sat on you, it would make you say ‘ouch!’ – It’s much better to sit on the big leather _(couch)___.


  1. Can you find today’s note? I think you can, maybe. Look in the spot where we dress our sweet _(baby)__.


  1. You’ll figure out this clue bc you are clever and smart. Go to the room where we do our _(art)____.


  1. When it is really cold outside, we wear super warm clothes. We put these things on whenever it _(snows)__.


  1. Without four-on-the-floor, you’ll get a stare – so don’t rock back and forth when you’re in this _(chair)__.


  1. This note you will find with one little look under the basket where we keep library __(books)____.


14. Are you done with this game, or would you like more? If you do, see what you’ll find on the back _(door)___.


  1. When Barrett’s clothes get dirty from a big diaper ‘fail,’ we put them into his new jungle __(pail)___.


  1. When Mommy is nursing it’s easy to find her, she’s usually sitting in the big brown __(recliner)____.


  1. Clue hunting isn’t as tough as you think – today’s note is waiting in Granmama’s bathroom __(sink)___.


  1. When you mail a letter you must use a stamp. When you light up a room, you turn on a __(lamp)____.


  1. A pillow is a great place to lay down your head, when you climb into your mom and dad’s __(bed)___.


  1. If you tend to get chilly, turn the heat up a smidge, bc today’s note can be found in the __(fridge)___!


  1. When you are dirty you must scrub-a-dub-dub, look for today’s note in the bathroom _(tub)___.


  1. Our dressers are all lined up in rows, in the big room where we wash all of our __(clothes)____.


  1. This is the last clue! It is Christmas Eve! Look where Santa leaves presents if you __(believe)____!


***Please disregard any poor grammar or spelling – or sentences that make no sense in this post. Our house is totally nuts tonight and I find it impossible to think with my new little human protesting the distance between us. 😉



Review Of WhatKnotShop Dysautonomia Bracelets

bracelet rainbowOne of my favorite collections on the Top 25 Picks for Dysautonomia Gear list is from George Hutchinson of WhatKnotShop over on Etsy.

The turquoise color of his Dysautonomia Awareness line of bracelets has such a happy range of shades. The styles he has created offer gender neutrality, which is huge since so much of the Dysautonomia world is more tuned into the ladies rather than the gentlemen who join us on our battle.

As I mentioned in the Top 25 post, I would love to see these bracelets become a ‘thing’ in the Dysautonomia community. It would make my heart so happy to see someone else out and about proudly wearing one of these bracelets.

I liked them so much, in fact, that I asked him if I could have some samples to try out and review! I’d love to get the word out and encourage you guys to get your own. These just really jump out at me as a cool and comfortable way to unite us and to start conversations with others about Dysautonomia.

IMG_7140Since I have been wearing mine this past week, I have gotten compliments, I’ve been asked about their significance, and I’ve even had my husband and two kids ask me to give them one of my samples!! I’ll have to get them their own, however, bc these are mine! 😉

As for my experience with the quality and comfort, so far – I’d say fabulous.

The bracelets are available in 3 different styles, one is a slip on, one is an adjustable slip on, and one is a one button fitted bracelet. I have one of each, and personally, I really like the way that they compliment each other. Each style is made with a different size or style of rope, and each rope style has its own slight variance of shade of turquoise.

You’d never know they were different until they are lined up next to each other, but I really think that it adds depth and character. George dyes his own cords, so the color variations are the result of the hand-dying process. The faded teal is a custom formulated color exclusive to this design, and the batch-to-batch color variations can make for a beautiful combination with more than one bracelet.


braided one button braceletslip knot rope braceletThey are made to slip on but aren’t too loose. Mine, for example, came in two different sizes. One of the slip on styles was ‘large,’ one was ‘medium,’ and one was the size of my wrist measurement (the button on style).


The first day or two, the adjustable slip on had some issues staying looped – but the design keeps it from falling off (it wraps around multiple times and there is no way for it to come off other than slipping your hand out of it). After a couple of days, the ropes settled into their new spot and I haven’t had any more trouble with it. (*Update – it has been a month and the slip knot style has had a few more episodes of coming undone, but since it can’t cause it to fall off my arm, it isn’t really an issue for me.)

They have held up well to showering, though – all things being equal – since they come off and on so easily, I just take them off. With cooler weather, I just prefer they not be wet.

If I had to pick a favorite, I’d probably the single button bracelet. It feels substantial all by itself – though they all have character. I’d love to know which one you like best!

Head on over to the WhatKnotShop on Etsy and pick your favorite out right now!