Our Plans for Kindergarten

710c20_1aaa22b2b94e4a658dfb9564018a233d~mv2_d_3014_2486_s_4_2.jpgA couple of years ago, I started homeschooling my two young children (then ages 2 and 3 and a half). I hesitate to even say we have been homeschooling up to this point because it has been very unstructured and casual. To them, it has pretty much all been considered play, but to me there has been a lot of intention behind what we do. We have loosely been through The Peaceful Preschool curriculum twice, adding in things along the way that followed the kids’ interests. Most recently, we went through The Peaceful Press’ Christmas Guide and absolutely loved it!

With that being said, as the months have gone on and my children have gotten older, I have tried to increase the structure to prepare us all for elementary schooling to begin. Now that the kids are 4 and 5 and a half years old, we are gearing up to start kindergarten in January. If my son were enrolled in school, he would’ve began last Fall, but with the arrival of our newest baby in August and the holidays, we decided January would be a perfect start time. Before the baby arrived, I started researching what we would do for kindergarten and have come up with a plan I wanted to share with you all. As much as I love The Peaceful Preschool and it has served us well, it is time to move on to something else. I am looking forward to exploring The Playful Pioneers and The Precious People when they are a little older.

Although my daughter is younger than kindergarten age, my plan is to teach them together and to adapt activities to her skill level along the way. She is always welcome to join in our lessons, but not required to. Up to this point they love to be together, and she is usually very interested in learning everything he is. I try to keep a few hands-on activities (such as lacing or playdough) near the table when we do school for her to grab and use if I need to work one-on-one with him.

After much research, I have decided to use a combination of Before Five in a Row and Five in a Row for our kindergarten year. If you haven’t heard of this curriculum, it is based completely around literature, which is what drew me to it in the first place. The concept is that you read each book five days in a row, and each day you focus on a different subject that you can glean from the story. For example, one week we will be rowing the book “The Story About Ping”, the story of a duckling who gets separated from his family. After reading the book, we may study the Yangtze River, which is where the story takes place, for geography. The next day after reading, we may do a science lesson on the natural habitat of ducks. The third day, we may count all of the ducks, create a family tree of the ducks, and then make one of our own family. You get the idea. I anticipate that using this curriculum will open my eyes that every book is an opportunity to explore and learn more in every subject. I hope it does the same for my kids.

Before Five in a Row (BFIAR) is the preschool version of the curriculum. After looking over the book lists I decided to ease us in with some of the familiar books from BFIAR such as The Snowy Day, Blueberries For Sal, and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and then move into the unfamiliar and more advanced stories found in Five in a Row (FIAR). I am using the guides Before Five in a Row: A Treasury of Creative Ideas to Inspire Learning Readiness and Five in a Row: Volume I as my foundation. I will build off of them using Pinterest, blogs, and ideas I drum up based on what I think my kids would love to learn. I can’t wait to share all of what we are doing and learning through these stories!

In addition to this, we will also be starting our day with Bible and adding in short lessons in math, phonics, and handwriting. Here is what we are using for each of these areas:

Bible: Leading Little Ones to God and Scripture Memory

Math: The Good and The Beautiful Kindergarten Math

Phonics: Explode the Code

Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears Kindergarten

I also plan to begin sign language lessons this year! I will be using the Signing Time K-3 Classroom Curriculum. You can find it and more resources for learning sign language here. I plan to do it with the kids a couple times a week.

A lot of exciting changes are coming up for us as we transition from preschool to kindergarten! I am sure it will be an ever-changing plan, but I wanted to share with you where we are in our journey in hopes that you would follow along. Stay tuned to see how all of this looks in real life and for overviews of the activities we’re doing for each new book that we are exploring!

Habit Training: Household Chores

“The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days.” – Charlotte Mason

Processed with VSCO with a5 presetOkay, so I wouldn’t go so far as to say we’ve arrived at smooth and easy. However, I have definitely seen the benefit of persistence in the area of daily chores, even through all the whining, the “I can’ts,” and the overwhelming temptation just to do it myself. As I write this post, my children are newly 4 and 5 and a half years old.

To start, I want to share my why. Why do I believe that it is important to make household chores a part of their daily routine? I have a couple of main reasons.

First of all, as a homeschool family, we spend the majority of the hours in our day at home. There is no dropping off the mess-makers at school while I come home and clean in peace. More time with children in the home equals more messes. I simply cannot carry the entire load of all of the household chores and still have time to create, teach, imagine, and be a peaceful mama. I need them to carry a piece, and the only way that that will happen is if I start small and come alongside in training them.

Secondly, training them to care for their environment, their belongings, and their family members is a value that my husband and I want to instill in them. When they put the baby’s clothes away in his dresser, they are loving him well. When they pick up their toys from the living room floor so they don’t get stepped on, we are teaching them to care for what they’ve been given. When they stand back and take pride in a shiny clean dining room table, we are giving them the gift of accomplishment and training them to seek beauty and order.

Please do not misunderstand me. If you know me in real life, you will know that I am a “creative type”. You know, the ones whose space looks like a bomb went off in the midst of the latest cooking endeavor or a crafting adventure. It usually stays that way long after the dust of the idea settles. Despite my greatest efforts, my laundry room/homeschool storage is atrocious, which is the exact reason I have never posted a photo of how I store and “organize” all the things. But I am getting better each day and as I train them, and I am hoping that I too will be trained.

We have been practicing “Morning Chores” in our home consistently for about a year. The first few months were the hardest, for me and for them. It was 75% me, 25% them. It looked like me talking and encouraging them through each step and literally at times holding their hands as they worked through the entire chore. Keep persisting! Make it routine and keep it positive. Now, a year later, I can honestly say its 5% me, 95% them!

Everyone needs to find their own system, but I wanted to share what has worked for us in hopes of inspiring you. I knew from the beginning that our routine needed to be simple and flexible. I made this simple chart and I print one out for each week. As you can see, we don’t do a structured chore time on the weekends. The longer we’ve been at this, the easier it is for me to ask them to jump in on the weekend and do a chore spontaneously without complaint.

Each morning after breakfast, the kids run off and play and I “survey the land”. Which chores need to be completed before we can start our day in peace? Is there a pile of clean laundry on the couch from the night before? Then I will choose “sort and put away clothes” as one of our chores. Are we going somewhere that needs a picnic lunch that day? Then I will write “help pack lunches” as a chore. I sometimes choose quicker chores if we have an outing we need to get to. After I do the morning’s dishes, start a load of laundry, and get dressed, I call the kids together to begin our Morning Chores.

Here is a list of some of the possible chores you may find on our chore chart on any given day. Remember that at first, I practically did the entire chore while they watched. It has been a slow transition of them doing more and more of each chore independently. There are still certain chores that they need a significant amount of help accomplishing.

  • Clean bedroom (this is primarily sorting toys into labeled bins)

  • Clean living room

  • Spray and wipe dining room table and chairs

  • Vacuum living room, bedroom, or downstairs rug

  • Load washer/ dryer

  • Clean out the van

  • Sweep kitchen and dining room

  • Help pack lunches

  • Make beds

  • Sort and put away clothes

  • Fold washcloths and towels

  • Gather library books to be returned (I print a list and they find them all over the house and check off the list)

  • Clean bathrooms (toilets, mirrors)

Each day I also write “get dressed” as one of their chores. We go through the list and the kids take turns choosing a chore to complete. We all complete them together. Whoever chose it gets to cross it off once it’s complete (believe me, this matters). Once all six are complete, they get to put a sticker on the chart and on their shirt.

That’s it! Our chore time takes between 30 minutes and an hour each day depending on which ones I choose. After Morning Chores are complete we are all dressed and have a clean and orderly space to sit down together, have a snack, and start morning school activities.

Here’s a post with more details about our Daily Rhythm.

To download a blank chore chart like the one show above, click here.

The Christmas Guide by The Peaceful Press

If you have been following me for any amount of time, you know that I am a huge fan of anything the The Peaceful Press produces. We have been through their preschool curriculum twice and loved every bit of it both times through. You can read my more thorough review of The Peaceful Preschool here.

We have been on a homeschool hiatus ever since my third child was born in late August. I had plans to start things back up after the holidays, but when I saw this Christmas Guide released I couldn’t help but entertain the idea of starting back a little earlier than planned. When I looked through the preview I just knew it would be the perfect transition from our break to starting fresh in January with a new curriculum and more structure.

Everything The Peaceful Press publishes is exactly that: peaceful. Home education should be life-giving and that is the best way I can describe what the authors of this Christmas Guide must’ve had as their primary goal.

Typically you would read a review of a curriculum after the person has used it, but this is actually a preview because I haven’t used it yet. We will begin December 3rd and finish up the last week of December. I wanted to share it with you all before we started so that if you are looking for something to guide you and your preschool children through the holidays with purpose and peace, you will look no further than this 4-week Christmas Guide.

What I love about it so far:

Christmas-Themed Picture Book List – The Peaceful Press’ book lists are GOLD. They do the dirty work of weeding through the flaky flashy stories and find the treasures of rich living literature that are perfectly age appropriate. I ordered some of the books from thriftbooks.com to begin to build our holiday picture book home library. I reserved others at our local library.

Art Projects – This guide offers simple yet meaningful art projects for you to create with your child such as a hand-sewn felt stocking, a mason jar snow globe, and a popsicle stick snowflake ornament. I can’t wait to see how these all turn out!

Christmas in the Kitchen – The curriculum includes recipes to make with your children throughout the month of December like homemade marshmallows, Christmas stovetop potpourri, and Christmas granola bars.

Poetry and Songs – I love that this curriculum includes traditional Christmas songs to sing with your children as well as themed poetry to recite.

Curriculum Organization – Everything is laid out for you so neatly and ready to go. There are daily grids for what activities to complete as well as supply lists for the week. It truly is an easy, peaceful guide to follow.

Gentle Overview of Concepts – Children will review letters, counting, and exercise their fine motor skills with gentle, child-led activities like making a paper chain, counting jingle bells, and practicing words that rhyme with ‘snow’. The activities are all playful and inviting to young children.

I cannot wait to begin The Peaceful Press’ Christmas Guide on December 3rd! I would love it if you would follow along with us on Instagram. You can purchase the guide here for 20% off using the code ‘cohesivehome’ until December 10th.

Advent Calendar Activity Ideas & Bible Reading Plan

Okay, so before you read this post thinking I am the Advent-pro, I must admit to you first that I have never once participated (and especially planned and led) this tradition. But oh, how Pinterest and Instagram have led me into new and beautiful things. I started seeing all these creative ideas, adorable calendars, and lists galore of things to include in Advent. So with less than a week before December 1st, I scrambled to put this advent calendar together. It is not a finished product, as I know myself too well to know I couldn’t plan an entire month of activities without things changing. I think I have a solid plan though that is simple, meaningful, and fun so I wanted to share!

First off, I turned our dining room chalkboard into a paper sack calendar. My hubby and I made this chalkboard a few months ago, but this could work right on the wall as well. I ordered these mini paper sacks and these mini red clothespins from Amazon. My garland was a Hobby Lobby find a few years ago in the regular greenery section, and I stuck some berries in it to make the red clothespins pop. I just hot glued some twine behind the frame of the chalkboard and strung it across to make my paper sack “clothes lines”.

Next, I made a list of activities I wanted to do with the kids throughout the month of December. I scouted out all the free or inexpensive events happening in our town and included some of those. I also included some activities centered around giving and serving. I wanted to keep them simple. I wanted to have the ability to pick one each morning and pop it in the bag before the kids wake up depending on which one made sense for our schedule, the weather, and let’s be honest, the one I wanted to do that day. I typed them into a table so I could print them on cardstock and cut them into cards to put into the bags. Here is my list of Advent activities:

  1. Make cinnamon applesauce ornaments for the Christmas tree

  2. Drive around with hot cocoa looking at Christmas lights

  3. Help wrap presents

  4. Make gingerbread houses

  5. Get bundled up and go for a wintery hike

  6. Have pancakes with Santa (local event)

  7. Bake cookies to share with neighbors

  8. Make caramel popcorn and watch a Christmas movie

  9. String popcorn and dried oranges for the Christmas tree

  10. Throw a birthday party for Jesus

  11. Go to the train museum to see the Christmas train (local event)

  12. Buy gifts for our cousins at the Dollar store

  13. Go to Holiday storytime at the library

  14. Go see the animals at the live Nativity (local event)

  15. Be in the Christmas play at church

  16. Buy coats for children who don’t have any (local charity)

  17. Draw pictures in Christmas cards for Operation Shoebox

  18. Go to Gingerbread Lane (local event)

  19. Read Christmas stories by the Christmas tree

  20. Walk through the garden to see the Christmas lights (local event)

  21. Pass out candycanes to people on the Greenway (local hiking trail)

  22. Go to the Christmas Village (local event)

  23. Make presents for homemade gift exchange (This is an extended family tradition)

  24. Go to Grammy’s house and open presents (Christmas Eve)

  25. Go to Auntie’s house for Christmas dinner (Christmas Day)

I decided I wanted to add a biblical emphasis to our advent and we LOVE The Jesus Storybook Bible, so when I stumbled across their Advent Reading plan I was thrilled. You can see the plan and download the cards I used for free here. I printed them double-sided on cardstock, cut them out, laminated them, and put them in the bags with the activity cards. I have a feeling we will be using these again so I wanted them to last.

That’s it! My plan is to open the bag in the morning during our “Together Time” and read the activity for the day and the correlating Bible story. Then, we will sometimes do a simple ornament craft that represents the story we read and we will put them on our Christmas tree. Keep an eye out on my Instagram to see our activities and crafts in action!

Our Homeschool Preschool Daily Rhythm (updated)

Recently, I took a step back from schooling and took some time to read, pray about, and discover more of what I believe is important in these early years. Out of my discoveries I felt the need to shift some of our routines, taking things out and adding new things into our daily rhythm. I derived most of these changes from things I learned studying Charlotte Mason’s philosophies. In a nutshell, I felt we needed more margin in our days for outdoor time, a heavier emphasis on habit training, and more spiritual truth being taught in a natural way. I was thrilled to walk away from all of this research to find that the current curriculum I have been using, The Peaceful Preschool, lines up very well with the direction I hope to continue to go in home educating.

I am a huge believer that every family dynamic is unique and that each family has to discover what works for their household as a whole. A family’s rhythm with infants or older children will look different than a family with only preschoolers in the house. I also have experienced that nothing is set in stone. There is always room for shifting as your family’s needs and interests change. So I share our current daily rhythm only as a starting point to get you thinking about what would work best in your home. I am strongly passionate about giving children structure, as well as room to explore and play with no strings attached. We say “no” a lot and have zero regrets about that.

I wanted to share with you our entire weekday schedule, not just the school part because I want you to see it in light of the big picture. This is our Monday-Friday schedule, as weekends usually start the same with breakfast and morning chores and then take on a life of their own with outings and family time.

Here is a look into our daily rhythm. Scroll down to read each section in more detail.

7 – 8:30am Morning Routine

8:30 – 9am Morning Chores

9 – 9:45am Together Time

9:45 – 11am Table Time

11am – 1pm Outing / Outdoor Play

1 – 3:30pm Lunch / Rest Time

3:30 – 5pm Free Play / Poetry Tea Time

5 – 7:30pm Dinner / Nighttime Routine

7:30pm Children’s Bed Time

Now I will go into detail about each segment of our day.

MORNING ROUTINE

I am usually up by 6am to have some time in silence with my coffee and Bible before the day gets crazy. Between 7-7:30am the children are usually awake and hungry! They immediately jump in to help me make breakfast. When they are finished eating they clear their dishes and are free to play until I call them back for Morning Chores. During this time I start a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher and load it from breakfast, and get dressed.

MORNING CHORES

On our big chalkboard in the main area of the house, I write a short list of chores for the morning that we will all do together. “Get Dressed” is the only one that is always there. I add in different ones each day according to what needs to be done or a skill I want them to learn. Some other examples are wash windows, feed the pet fish, and sort laundry. All of these chores are done together at this point. We check off each chore and celebrate as they are accomplished.

TOGETHER TIME

If you are familiar with Charlotte Mason, you have probably heard of having a “Morning Basket”. This is that morning basket time for us. We gather in the living room on the floor or outside on the porch if the weather is lovely. We start with prayer, inviting God to come into our day and to open our minds to learn and understand. We thank Him for anything that comes to mind and pray for any needs going on around us. Then we sing a few songs from our music class, some nursery rhymes, or bible songs. Usually these include hand and body motions, visuals, and/or instruments and rhythm sticks. Next I read or review the Bible story for the week and we practice our memory verse with sign language. Then I read 3-5 books from our preschool curriculum or from Read Aloud Revival’s monthly booklist.

TABLE TIME

We all move from the living room to the dining room table, and the kids eat a snack while I gather supplies for our table activities. These activities are from The Peaceful Preschool and ones I have found on my own on Pinterest that correlate with the season or our current bible lesson. It usually includes a handicraft project or sensory activity. These activities are all set up as invitations with nothing formally instructed.

OUTING / OUTDOOR PLAY

This is the part of our day that we make mudpies, take a hike on a trail, or have a picnic. Often we have playdates with friends at our home or meet up at a playground. One day a week during this time we attend a family-style music class and another day every week we attend storytime at our local library.

LUNCH / REST TIME

We often pack a picnic lunch for our morning adventure or eat outside if it is a nice day. Around 1:30pm Titus and Josie go into their rooms for Rest Time. They rarely nap, but they play in their rooms until around 3:30pm. My son (4.5 years old) is allowed to keep his light on and listen to music or audiobooks. My daughter (3 years old) has the light off and ends up napping a couple times a week. During this time, I clean up from the morning, do additional household chores, and rest.

FREE PLAY / POETRY TEA TIME

Once or twice a week I set up tea time at the dining room table when they come out from resting. We have some treats and tea (or coffee or juice) and I read from a poetry book for 15-20 minutes. Other days this gets scratched and they head outside to the backyard as soon as they come out of their rooms. We have a trampoline, slide, swings, and a pots-and-pans drum circle. Usually you can find them playing with sticks, mud, and rocks. Sometimes they want to stay inside and play or do arts and crafts. We don’t have a lot of toys, but I’ve listed some of our favorite toys for open-ended play. We also have basic arts and crafts supplies out for them to use anytime they would like.

DINNER / NIGHTTIME ROUTINE

I usually bring the kids in around 5 and allow them to watch a show while I prep dinner. They currently like TumbleLeaf on Amazon Prime. After dinner, my husband usually bathes them while I clean up and then we all play or read books together in the living room. Sometimes I have them help straighten up their bedrooms if they got messy during rest time. They go to bed around 7 or 7:30, depending on how worn out they are and if they napped or not.

Our days are both full and calm. It took a lot of trial and error to get to this place, and my hope for you is that you can glean from this to create the rhythm that suits your family’s unique needs and desires!

5 Tips to Boost Your Toddler's Language

OUR BACKGROUND

When my first child was born, he failed his newborn hearing screening. The test administrator acted very nonchalant about the results and said that failing is very common in babies born cesarean because the fluid doesn’t get naturally squeezed out through the birth canal. We brought our son home, and everything seemed normal in regards to his hearing. Titus woke up to loud noises, turned his head to sound, and was comforted by my voice. He loved being sang to and got startled if something was too loud. The follow-up hearing screening a few weeks later was a huge ordeal. The baby had to be completely still for two hours during the test, and if there was too much movement, then the entire test would be considered a fail.Titus failed that screening as well, but once again they said it was likely due to the fluid from birth or because he moved too much. The doctors suggested that we take him to an ENT. Month after month, appointment after appointment, back and forth from the audiologist to the ENT, we got no clear answers. We ended up dropping it because Titus was responding to sound and we were tired of the dead-end appointments.

Fast forward to when Titus was 18 months old. He babbled and responded to noise like every other child his age, but we started noticing that he would hold toys that made noise up to one ear. We wondered if there was fluid in just one ear or an ear infection, so we went back to the ENT. Another four months of appointments back and forth, we finally got answers when Titus was 22 months old. He was diagnosed with sensorineural moderate bilateral hearing loss. In a nutshell, this means that there is a disconnect between the sound that comes into his ears and his brain. I was shocked. The reason he responded to sound is because he does not have complete hearing loss. Without amplification (hearing aids) he is unable to hear all the pitches of all the speech sounds, and in turn not given the ability to speak correctly.

When Titus was 18 months old and we were going to all these appointments, I had also just delivered my second baby, Josie Mae. She also failed her newborn hearing screening. We were told the same thing as we did with Titus at the hospital, but this time around we were much more aggressive. I was recovering from a second cesarean, managing a newborn and a toddler, and dragging my children to weekly appointments to figure out what was going on; it was the craziest season of my life. Thankfully, Josie had no signs of fluid and was a better sleeper than Titus during the retest. As a result, we were able to get her diagnosis early on. She was diagnosed with a slightly more mild loss than Titus. When we got her diagnosis I was shocked once again. Neither my husband nor I have any history of hearing loss in our family, nor did I personally know one person with hearing aids. Now I was being told that both of my babies needed hearing aids and that it was very likely that any future children we planned on having would have hearing loss too.

Since Titus didn’t get his hearing aids until he was just over two years old, and up until that point he was unable to hear all of the speech sounds, he had zero words until the week he got his hearing aids. In that first week he said three words! We couldn’t believe it. Since then he has caught up a lot, but he is still behind his peers in both receptive and expressive language. Along with going to an auditory-verbal therapist weekly, we work very hard to encourage his language at home, which is a huge focus of our homeschooling. I have learned so much sitting under some of the best therapists, devouring blogs and books, and learning from experience with my son. These tips are great to boost any toddler’s language, but especially for those struggling with speech delay.

1. SLOW DOWN

In our culture, we are so used to living, thinking, and talking fast-paced. If we have a desire for something, we want it met instantly. Even though the toys, entertainment, and calendars in our culture are go-go-go, that doesn’t mean that our children’s brains have the ability to be. So slow down. Talk slowly to your child about everything you or they are doing and seeing. It’s ok that they don’t understand yet, just keep talking. Get down on their level and look at their face. Encourage them to look at yours. Bring the item you are talking about up to your face when you say what it is. This encourages them to look at your mouth pronouncing the word. Pause and wait for them to respond, in whatever way they know how, instead of speaking for them and rushing to the next thing.

2. PLAY

This seems obvious, but sadly, unless we are intentional, we can look back on a day or a week and realize we didn’t play WITH our children. Sure, they were kept busy, but we didn’t actually get down on the floor and make the cow say “moo” as we walked it into the barn or the train go “choo-choo” around the tracks. How else will they learn? Assign speech sounds to toys and consistently play with your child using them. For example, we said “ahhhh” for airplanes in our house so Titus could work on that sound. He just thought we’re playing, but there was a method behind it. Tell your child over and over what they’re doing as they do it. It seems unnatural, but that is how they will be introduced to new vocabulary. Model something with a word attached to it and encourage your child to follow suite. For example, when playing with blocks, go sit beside your child and say “I see you stacking the blocks up high. Up, up, up go the blocks” Say the word “up” every time you put a new block on the tower, then hand one to your child and say “up” as he stacks it on. See if he will continue the pattern.

3. SING, SING, SING

Start with simple songs about things that interest your child. Sing them everyday, multiple times a day and do hand motions if they have some. If they don’t, make some up. Some of our favorites when they were really little were “The Wheels on the Bus”, “Five Little Monkeys”, and “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. Once you can tell your child recognizes the song when you sing it, pause at different points of the song and look at your child, encouraging them to fill in the blank. Make up songs about things they do everyday, like getting into their highchair, washing their hands, or waking up in the morning. We have a song about eating mac-and-cheese and it was during that song that Titus mastered the “ch” sound for the first time.

4. CLEAR OUT DISTRACTIONS

Our homes can be so noisy – the random toy going off in the bedroom, the dishwasher running, and the tv on in the other room. Hearing and speaking go hand-in-hand, so help your child by clearing out the noise. They need to hear you clearly to understand you and to develop their speech properly. Go more natural with open-ended toys or at the least, take all the batteries out of their toys to encourage them to be the ones making the noises. You want to hear your child’s voice making the firetruck siren, not the plastic toy making it for them. Here is my list of must-have open ended toys.

5. READ, AND THEN READ SOME MORE.

You knew I couldn’t write a post on this topic without including reading. Find books on topics your child is interested in. Make good use of your local library. Go to weekly storytime and come home with loads of books. Keep books available in every room of the house for your child to easily access. Say yes to one more story! We have a designated reading chair that can fit one adult and both kids. I try to be mindful to read to them, fully focused and in a quiet environment, multiple times a day, every single day. Pause when you read to allow for questions and discussion if your child is speaking. Even if they aren’t, ask questions and discuss aloud thoughts about the story to your child. It is amazing to see the language structures and vocabulary that kids pick up on just by being read to.

All of the tips shared have one thing in common: a parent’s presence. I have seen so much growth just by slowing down, quieting our space, and intentionally engaging our children. I would love to hear what other strategies you have used in your homes for language development.

Books to Prepare Toddlers for a New Baby

**Hey everyone, Lyndsey here! I wanted to introduce you to an integral woman behind the scenes here at Treehouse Schoolhouse. You may not know it, but my sister-in-law, Gabby, has been working alongside me doing all of the graphic design, website maintenance, and printable content. I am so excited to introduce you to her and to hear from her on the blog today, as she shares from a different place in life than I am.**

My husband and I currently have a 22-month old daughter, Emilia, and we are thrilled to be expecting our second child in December! Emmy is getting to an age where she notices babies in public and loves playing with baby dolls. So, I figured she’s old enough to begin to understand the new baby on the way. I scoured the internet for books to help explain the big changes coming.

I found a great collection of books that start by explaining mama’s growing belly, show her what to expect when the new baby comes home, and get her excited about becoming a Big Sister!

Here are some of our favorites:

Waiting for Baby, Rachel Fuller

This book does an excellent job explaining the changes happening to mom as her belly grows. There’s even a page where mom is shown sleeping on the couch while Dad serves dinner – ha how true to life is that! It also shows what happens when Mommy and Daddy leave for the hospital. I love that the pictures aren’t gender specific, so you can easily read this book with a big sister or brother.

My New Baby, Rachel Fuller

First time siblings are in for some big changes when the new baby comes, and this book helps prepare them. The pictures show mommy nursing the baby almost constantly, and encourages older siblings to be quiet while the baby is sleeping. This is by far Emmy’s favorite book, as we replace the pronouns in the book with her name. I say, “Look Emmy is holding the new baby!” and she begs me to read it again and again.

I am a Big Sister, Caroline Jayne Church (also available in I am a Big Brother)

I imagine this book will be especially helpful once the new baby comes or for older children. It really gets older siblings excited about taking on new responsibilities in the house by fetching diapers and helping with bath time. It makes my heart melt just imagining my two little ones growing up together.

We’ve also been doing lots of role play with Emmy’s baby dolls practicing rocking, nursing, and changing the baby. Emmy now wants to kiss the baby in mama’s belly every night before bed and even includes him in her nightly prayers.

I hope you find these ideas helpful if you have another child on the way. What are some other books you’ve found helpful to explain new siblings?