Monday, October 31, 2011

Second HOW Workshop coming up!

Our second series of Hands on workshop will be this Wednesday, November 2, Brentwood United Methodist Church, at 6:15. Don't miss! We will be talking about the importance of play, discussing age appropriate toys and books.

Let your children play

While preparing for our workshop this week, which by the way, is Wednesday at 6:15 at Brentwood United Methodist Church, we came across this great video that further emphasizes the importance of play in your child's development. Take two minutes of your time today and watch this video.

Then, remember that when your child is playing with blocks or splashing around in the bath tub tonight, he or she is learning!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Halloween!

      Happy Halloween! Read your favorite Halloween story, and then do this fun, spooky, goopy Halloween activity. It is a great learning activity that your child will never forget...making Goopy Goo. You can talk about measuring, liquids and solids and mixing colors.

      Goopy Recipe: Pour 2 cups of cornstarch into a bowl and slowly stir in 1 cup of water until the mixture has the consistency of honey. When you try to handle the goopy goop you will find that you can roll it into a ball, but as soon as you stop rolling or manipulating it, it transforms into a liquid. For colored goopy goop, add a few drops of food coloring to make it look icky and slimy!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Weekend Fall Festivities

Don't forget to check out our seasonal activities page on our blog for fun filled ideas for Halloween weekend, and even some songs you can include on your road trip to and from the Fall hotspots. Have fun!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Humpday inspiration

“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today”
- Anonymous

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Let’s help your child develop a love of learning!

     Whether you realize it or not, you are always teaching your child. Scary, huh? Your child is watching you all the time and learning from you every day! Education degree or not, there are so many simple activities you can do, on an everyday basis, to offer your child an enriching day at home. From simply reading aloud to your child before rest time and at bed time, pointing out pictures, acting out the stories, to going on nature walks and finding all different types of leaves or flowers you can count and sort.
      Other everyday activities could be going to the grocery store with a picture list so your child can help you find what you are looking for. While you are rolling through the aisles, trying to keep your busy child entertained, point out the colors you see, what foods are vegetables vs. fruits and then count how many items you collected. Later, when they are ready, you can teach them money concepts. Another activity is when you are cooking, let your child help you measure dry and liquid ingredients. Talk about the steps to the baking process. Then, when they get all ooey gooey, let them play in the bath tub. This is another everyday learning opportunity where they can learn the basic concepts like whether something sinks or floats, and volume of different objects.
      Things to Remember: Consciously or subconsciously, we are always acting as our child’s teacher.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Don't forget Wednesday's Hands on Workshop

Don't forget to mark your calendar, and schedule a babysitter if you need to so you can attend our first of three series Hands on Workshop at Brentwood United Methodist Church, at 6:15-7:00 p.m.

What's your child's "love language"?

Gary Chapman has written many books on finding your "love language," both for adults and for children. In short, a person's love language is way they feel loved.  The following summary was provided by

If he asks, “Can I help you mom?” his love language is service.
If he asks, “Did I do a good job mom?” his love language is words of affirmation.
If he asks, “Do you like the picture I colored for you mom?” his love language is gifts.
If he asks, “Can I snuggle with you mom?” his love language is touch.
If he asks, “Can I go with you mom?” his love language is time.

By paying attention to your child's questions you can gain some great insight into what is most meaningful from his or her perspective, giving you ideas for how best to communicate love to your child.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday's Fast Fact

"If babies bodies grew at the same rapid pace as their brains, they would weigh 170 pounds by one month of age."
-Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy, University of Denver

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Quote of the day!

“The best inheritance a parent can give his children is a few minutes of his time each day.”
- O. A. Battista

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy Fall!

       Fall is in the air, and at our house, we love to bake pumpkin bread this time of year. The smell of the pumpkin and cinnamon baking, filling your house up with just simple goodness, is so comforting. Baking can be relaxing sometimes too, but then you add in your eager helper that wants to assist you in the baking process, like cracking the eggs and measuring the flour or cinnamon, and you just about want to pull your hair out. There is flour all over the floor, and you are tripping all over them as you get your next ingredient. Well, try to remain calm. Get to your happy place and just take this as a great teaching moment for your child (measuring, following directions in order, the science of cooking, etc.). Yes, it makes the baking process twice as long, but in the end, it is some great bonding and learning time, too. So even if you are simply cooking mac and cheese from the box, you can provide a teaching moment and have your child help you measure the water and just talk about the steps to getting to the finish product. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You can even get store bought cookie dough and have your child help you count the cookies you put them on the cookie sheet.  It is easy, fun and after you are done, you will not believe how proud your child will be that they got to help their Mommy or Daddy in the kitchen.  So special! 

       Things to Remember:  Cooking is one of the easiest activities for working on pre-academic skills (even if it's not from scratch...)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tennessee's First Lady, Crissy Haslam and her role in improving children's education

One of our inspirations at Hands-On Mom is Tennessee’s First Lady, Crissy Haslam.  In her role as First Lady she has chosen to focus on three initiatives:  Parents as Teachers, Parents as Education Partners, and Early Literacy Improvement (can you see why we love her?!). You can learn more about Mrs. Haslam and her priorities on her website:
Below is an excerpt from an editorial by Mrs. Haslam, published in The Tennessean newspaper on August 27, 2011.

“Budgets are tight, and times are tough; these facts are very real to families on a daily basis, and I do not take that lightly. I also know from experience that parenting is incredibly difficult, and every stressor in life competes for attention and strains a parent’s capacity to be involved in his or her child’s progress. Furthermore, school is a bad memory for many parents, and their child’s school building does not always feel like a welcoming environment. Some feel their role is to send their child to school and let the teacher do the teaching. 

There are plenty of theories on the most effective ways to improve education, but a strong body of research shows that parental involvement matters for student success. What happens inside the school is important, but administrators and teachers face certain limitations because children who are unhealthy, unsafe, unengaged, or unprepared are less likely to thrive in school and in life.
Because school-age children spend 70 percent of their time outside of a school building, one of our best chances at lasting change starts at home. Fortunately, many of the best ways to get involved in a child’s education are FREE. Borrow books from the public library, communicate regularly with your child’s teachers, and stay informed about what they are learning in school.”

Things to Remember:  70% of their time is not in the school building; where are they, and what can you do to make the most of that time?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cartime/Learning time too!

Lots of area schools will be on Fall Break this weekend, so we turn our thoughts to being on the road...

Parents, let’s get out of the habit of turning on the DVD player, giving your kids your phone to play Angry Birds or just plain ignoring them while you are chatting on your phone, in the car. I know sometimes you just want some quiet time in the car, especially on a long car ride to visit Grandma and Pop, but if you are just going to Publix down the road or driving to school, why not squeeze in some learning time.  Here are some fun travel games you can play with your child.

1.) See how many things you can find that are rectangles shaped or how many things you can find that are red.  You use your own gauge for what your child might know. Again, it is the point of talking and getting some learning time in. For younger children, sing songs such as Old MacDonald to help them learn their animals and animal sounds.

2.) Draw and cut out magazine pictures of things that you might see while driving. For example, a school buses, a person on a bike, etc. Glue the pictures to individual index cards and cover them with contact paper for durability if you want. While you are driving, let your child pick three cards. Once she has spotted all three items, tell her she has won! And I am sure by this time you are at your destination.

3.) On your way back home, as you are going down your street, practice your address. You can say as you are pulling into your driveway, “Here we are! 1012 Market Street!”

4.) Another idea while driving is making up stories. You can start your child off by saying, “Once upon a time, there were”… and then have your child fill in the blanks. You can get as elaborate as you want or just make it simple. The idea is developing your child’s vocabulary all the while, sparking their imagination! When you get home, you could even make a book with your original story. You could dictate as your child retells the story. Again, a great teaching moment as it helps build your child’s vocabulary. Then, after you write the story in your own child’s words, have him illustrate each page. I know it sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t. You already made up the story as you were driving, you get home, write down the story on construction paper, have your child draw the pictures and then staple it together and there you have it! You not only made up a story with your child, but most importantly, you gave him your time. That is what they will remember and cherish the most.  

Things to remember: Kindergarten readiness is a journey, not a destination, so use your "journeying" as an opportunity to build skills through games and creative activities in the car.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Fall is our favorite time of year. We love the colors, the weather, the food you traditionally bake during this chilly season, and then the annual trip to the pumpkin patch. My oldest daughter is already counting the days until she can go.  She talks about it all the time! 

When she was one that was the first time she went to the pumpkin patch. She had a ball, running through the corn maze, enjoying a hayride, and especially picking out pumpkins with her Daddy. There are so many opportunities to provide your child with a learning experience that they will always remember. 
So don’t let this season slip away or let the football games take over. Take your child to your nearest pumpkin patch, so they can see that you don’t get a pumpkin from your local Kroger or it is not something you see on The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown special. Enjoy this family time! It is the best!
Here are some ideas for your pumpkin patch field trip:
Have your child draw a picture of their favorite moment, or draw a picture of their pumpkin.
You could even make a book about your trip to the pumpkin patch with real pictures or pictures your child draws.  
If you want to add in a little math, talk about the different sizes of the pumpkins you picked, weigh and measure the pumpkins.
For your older child, you could estimate how many lines are on your pumpkin and/or how many pumpkin seeds you might find inside the pumpkin. Measuring and estimating are great skills to learn.
Comparative language is also part of this, talking about big-bigger-biggest and heavy-heavier-heaviest.  
If you are heading out off the beaten path you could print out a Google map to your destination and have the kids help you navigate.
Most importantly, have fun and enjoy!

Community Outing: Here's a link to Middle Tennessee pumpkin patches

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hands-On Moms

A quick scan of any celebrity-following magazine will quickly turn up the phrase “hands-on mom”.  It is written next to photos of the beautiful and famous taking their children out for ice cream, shuttling them to ballet lessons, and cheering in the stands.  Perhaps it is because we assume that those who can have full-time nannies do, and we are pleasantly surprised to see the children with their parents. Yet being a “hands-on mom” may not be the ultimate compliment (because, really, isn’t behaving like a mother an integral part of being a mother?), yet woe to one who a accuses a mom of “not being very hands on.”  Those are fighting words!
But we hear them.  They are spoken by kindergarten teachers who are surprised to meet a student who can’t write his own name.  They are spoken by preschool directors, astounded by how many children are still struggling with potty training well past their third birthday. “Where are the parents?” we hear them say with exasperation. 
We hear this because Amy and I are “them”—those people who deal with other people’s children on a regular basis.  As a speech-language pathologist specializing in language-based learning disabilities I often get two sides of the story as I attempt to forge links between home and school.  I straddle that line myself as a parent, not always sure how much or how little to intervene in my child’s life.  But if anyone even so much as hinted that I’m not “hands on” they would soon meet my hands in the shape of a fist (only in my fantasies, of course). 
Our over-saturated media is brimming with advice and contradictions. I know my parents weren’t Googling “soothe a colicky baby” at 2 in the morning, getting 2.1 million results in 0.23 seconds.  Yet our generation is bombarded by suggestions, both those we seek and those we are given.  We’ve been told to avoid being helicopter parents—the kind who take a road trip to their child’s college each semester to supervise the ritual of registering for classes.  We’ve also been warned of the danger of raising latchkey kids who come home to an empty house, skip doing their homework, make prank phone calls, and engage in other Denis the Menace debauchery.  There’s a big middle ground there, and we’re ready to plow it.
Our answer to this problem?  More parenting advice, of course (didn’t see that coming, did you?).   But not of the breast vs. bottle, co-sleeping debate sort.  This is a place where we invite you to the inner sanctum of conversations had by “us”-those people who deal with other people’s children.  We’ll let you in on a few secrets on how to build relationships with the other people in your child’s life, partnering with the village that is raising your child, and exploring what being a hands-on parent really means for today’s families.

We'll do our best to post Monday through Friday, with tweets @ahandsonmom and posts at  And be sure to let us know what developmental topics you'd like to hear more about--we want to responsive to the needs that are out there!

See the sidebar for info on our upcoming (free!) workshops in Brentwood, TN on Wednesday nights in the coming weeks.  We call these "Hands on Workshops" because we'll be showing you "HOW" to be your child's first and best teacher, through play, in more depth and detail. We'd love to see you there!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"A mother's smile is a child's sun." -Anne Voskamp


Welcome!  Come on in.  This is Hands-On Mom--our attempt to share some of what we have learned as parents, professionals, friends, and observers.  Parenting, it has been said, is the hardest job you'll ever love.  And the on-the-job training is intense.  We hope that this will be a place for encouragement and inspiration, a pleasant pit-stop as you surf the web during nap times and sleepless nights (we know we aren't alone!).  So bookmark us and come on back.  We'll be posting regularly during the week.  Please follow us on Twitter @ahandsonmom, "like" us on Facebook, and tell your friends.  We're glad you're here!