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



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. 😉



My shugar’s on fiar.

I make an effort not to write very often about the strange things that are wrong with me – or the continuing speed bumps in our life – because, well…it can be overwhelming to some. I also don’t want to come off as a whiner. So, I usually just don’t write very often on the blog at this particular moment of our life. There are so many incredibly wonderful things that happen, too…but it’s usually just easier to slap it on Facebook than to bust out the laptop and be more intentional.


I also have an increased hesitation to speak or write publicly because my brain seems to have taken a leave of absence. I know that it is related to the medical issues I have flooding my system, but seriously, it’s getting ridiculous. I have never been much of a speller but I can typically muddle through with a nod to spell check and the little wiggly red line. I have always had trouble with things like wierd  weird, and accross across…but can remind myself that “you don’t want to cross two c’s (seas)”, and to put “i before e, except after c” – oh, and of course the difference between except and accept. It has always just seemed as though I had a brain glitch that I had to give a swift kick every now and then. No biggie.


Then there were the early parenting years, when you can’t remember your own name, much less the correct names of your children (Moose? Oh wait, that’s the dog. You’re Hadley.) Vocabulary drops significantly, and you absentmindedly tell your adult friends that you’ll be right back – you have to go potty. Or ask someone to hand you that thing-a-ma-bob over there. And since you probably hang out with other like-minded parents, they do hand it to you without hesitation. Because they knew exactly what you meant, but they’ll have to get it for you once they get back from the potty, themselves.


I had just started to get adjusted to baby brain – my youngest is 4 and just barely starting to let me come up for air long enough to get the required amount of oxygen to my brain for more complex thoughts and conversation – and run on sentences. …when the stress of life took advantage of my predisposition for dysfunction, and I am fairly certain that I am flat out losing my mind.


Thanks to the lack of collagen in my body, and gravity, I don’t get adequate blood to the upper regions of my body when I sit or stand. You know…like my brain. With POTS, brain fog is pretty much part of the deal. And it apparently gets progressivly progressively worse. I can’t spell a darn thing anymore. But it’s not just the things that I have always flaked out on, or from lack of sleep as a parent. I spell things so far from correctly that it is absurd. No really. Take a wild guess as to what I was trying to type when these floated out onto my keyboard:




tock clicking

My possessive and plural s’s are impossible

Sometimes it’s just something like intellegent. I can’t even figure out which part is incorrect! And I used to know! I used to BE intelligent! Thanks to spell check, I can find out pretty easily, but that’s not always around to help.


The other day, while driving, I realized that I had been poking around in my purse for my car keys for about five minutes. For my car keys. While driving.


Tonight, I pushed the seat belt release with my right hand, while pushing the door with my left elbow and couldn’t figure out why the door wouldn’t open.


I also avoid conversation in general, but especially on the phone. It just takes entirely too much effort to form coherent sentences, much less carry on an intelligent conversation.  (By the way, it was the ‘i’ that was wrong.)


So, I plod along, avoiding conversation and wishing I could wear a sign around my neck and a signature to all of my messages and texts that says “yeah, I know. Just bear with me.” But I’d probably write bare instead…and that could create some awkward situations. SO, if you happen to notice that I make blatant spelling or grammar mistakes somewhere, or you see me looking confused while trying to get out of my car…just turn me around and point me in the right direction. I’ll probably get there eventually. 😉


Oh, and thanks. I appreciate the help.

Teetering on the edge of good parenting

Raising children can be complicated. I mean, if it weren’t you and I and everyone else would be completely well rounded, emotionally balanced individuals and the world of marriage and family counseling would be unnecessary. But it is. It’s complicated. 


And it’s hard. Hard to figure out when your next move, or your last one, may be the tiny misstep that sends your offspring ricocheting through the remainder of their lives…trying to undo what you’ve done. 


Thankfully, as my mom says, they’re pretty hard to kill unless you’re actually trying. And for the most part, they are incredibly resilient. This is especially good news to me, as the past two years of our lives have been…rather intense. Somewhat unstable. Traumatizing, even. And it’s not over yet. In fact, we’re still all up in it. 


I read sweet and sincere blog letters written to encourage young mothers to soak up every.single.moment. of their time with the children with whom they are entrusted. Don’t waste a second of it, because before you know it, it will be gone. The dirty laundry, the carpet stains, the non-washable ink all over the walls…yes, even that will someday fade away and you will be left wondering if you did it all well enough. 


These articles are usually beautifully written and I’d say most always very well intended. I’m not sure I know if anyone who has been on the receiving end has ever walked away without choked back tears and a deep seated resolution to be a better parent. Do a better job. Not screw it all up and look back in 15 years with regrets.


The truth is that we need these little pushes in the direction of purposeful living. Parenting like we mean it. If no one ever looked us in the eye and told us that one day we’d miss it – all of it – there is a fairly good chance that we would slip into bad habits of wishing it all away.


On the other hand, we’re kind of torturing ourselves. With all of this technology at our fingertips, all day – every day, it isn’t just that one poignant conversation with your parents, or sweet older neighbor, or any other person that cares enough to point it out to you. Now we are incessantly faced with a barrage of well written you-could-be-doing-better guilt trips. 


As parents, we are cornered constantly by the good intentions of others. We are reminded that now is our chance – change the world this one little family at a time. Don’t screw it up. Do it all better and with confidence, and for heaven’s sake don’t ever tell your son that if he refuses to leave the beach with you when it’s time to go home, that he would be all alone with the coyotes he’s so terrified of. (sheepish look away from your eye contact…hey…we all make mistakes.) 


But, like I mentioned, this stuff is hard. It sure isn’t for wimps. Some times we just have to do the best we can in the moment. Hopefully we will remember that actually watching TV with our kids, instead of playing on FB or blogging about our day, means a lot to a little human. That it builds common interest and whispers that we like what they like. We like them. 


Maybe when our kids want us to build a Lego tower with them, we put aside our whatever and soak up that moment instead of flipping out that we can’t actually see the floor due to the incredible amount of teeny tiny plastic cubes all over it. But what happens if we don’t? What about those moments when we just epically fail? 


My husband and I like to watch a show called Psych, in which the main character struggles constantly with how his father raised him. The dad, in an attempt to build strong character and problem solving skills in his young son, incessantly challenges him to do better and be better. After one flash back the other night, I looked at Matt and jokingly asked if we do that to our kids. He laughed and said “Neh.” 


But really, we won’t know for a long time – if ever. We try to make good decisions based on current circumstances and knowledge, and hope that our best intentions are good enough. I’m not saying that I disagree with any of these musings and pleas for good and present parenting. I’m just saying that maybe we should limit how often we read them. 


Let’s just do the best we can and trust that our good intentions will bridge the Gap. After all, we’ll need all that mental energy someday to write the next generation of essays encouraging new parents to do it better than we did. 😉 




Tall Tale Tuesdays: My kids have been possessed by aliens.


It’s just about the only possible explanation.


Yesterday, I had this conversation with my son (quite possibly the sweetest thing he has ever said!) :


Hadley: Eww. Princesses. (looking at his sister’s headphones that I suggested he use)

Me: Come on. Your sister LOVES princesses. And you love your sister, right?

H: Well, YEAH. But I love her because of the things that she IS, not because of the things that she HAS.

M: That was a good one. Can you just use the headphones anyway? I don’t want you to wake her up. She feels bad (ly).



And then, tonight, my daughter said these words, as she hopped out of my lap: 


“I’m going to bed.” …and then she DID.


Is it too soon to call in MIB? I mean, I know there’s not much evidence…but these can’t be my children. Ok…it might be Hadley…but I’m pretty sure Afton has been sold on the intergalactic black market.


Or maybe I’ve just seen one too many Ben 10 episodes with Hadley lately…hard to say.




On another note..there are signs of life – and spring – in our little corner of the earth!


photo (9)