Mommy Lessons 101

Two past full-time teachers share life lessons on being a mommy, chauffer, nurse, short order cook, housekeeper, couponer, teacher, party planner, referee, playmate... It's not easy, but it's the most rewarding job there is!

Andrea and Rachel is a winner of Top 25 Teacher Moms - 2013

What's one of your favorite new books for children?

I have kids who love to do arts and crafts, and so we love the children's picture book, Beautiful Oops! for many reasons. First, the pop-ups and illustrations in the book are fun on their own. Second, it has a great message for kids and adult alike--any time you make a "mistake" just think about how you can turn that mistake into a "beautiful oops." A stain or rip on a paper can be a jumping off point for a new illustration you might not have thought about before. When my perfectionist child gets frustrated with something they don't like about their artwork, I always ask them if there is a way he could turn it into a "beautiful oops." The message is great on a deeper level for adults as well.

What advice would you give to a mom who thinks her child has too much homework?

First, I would evaluate the situation before running to the teacher. Sometimes the kids can appear to have too much homework because they are distracted during class or goofing off. Another reason I encountered once was because I had a daughter being a complete perfectionist and TRIPLE checking her work. And one time my child was sitting by someone they really liked, but who was REALLY distracting for them. (In this case, I had my daughter approach the teacher and tell the teacher the situation. It made her a better communicator and increased her independence in figuring situations.) Make sure there is not something you can do first. And ask your child. I am surprised how open my kids are when I say something like, "Why do you have so much homework?" They will flat out tell me the reason, even if it was that they were giggling at their "neighbor" the whole day for goofing off.

Second, I would evaluate if it really IS too much homework. I have read that students should expect 10 minutes of homework per grade, not counting reading minutes. If I evaluate that it actually is fair homework and we are at a moment when that much homework is difficult (i.e sports season, holidays, family obligations), I have taught my child how to time manage. And this can be very rewarding. Wake up early to get your homework done, get reading minutes in the car while driving, or finish up some of the homework at school. I was surprised how rewarding it was for my oldest when she learned all about time managing homework.

Finally, once I've evaluated our side of things, if I feel that there is still an unfair amount of homework, I then approach the teacher. But one tip I have learned from being both a teacher and a mom is to never point fingers at the teacher. Rather, ask questions and seek their advice. Ask them, "Is it reasonable for him/her to have this much homework, or is there something we can do?" Even if you have your own opinion. This opens the door for the teacher to have a safe conversation with you and to feel valued that you want their opinion.

What's one of your favorite educational activities that can be done outside the classroom?

Applying learning to everyday activities. Everywhere we go, my husband and I take the opportunity to teach our kids. When we were recently on vacation, my kids were trying to figure out how fast our houseboat would get us to our destination. My husband taught them all about time and speed and before I knew it, they were calculating how long it would take. I LOVE this - real life application that shows the kids purpose. Other fun things: Teaching math through lemonade stands. Learning science through cooking. Experiencing history through traveling. Exploring the outdoors to learn about the specific trees/animals from the classroom. Reading signs on the freeway or at the grocery store. Practicing business by selling at a local farmer's market. Education is built upon from real life experiences and whether in the classroom or in my home, I think it is invaluable to show kids the real life of all this learning!