Posts tagged learning
A parent's role in a growth mindset: Helping children embrace challenges
The ways we praise our children affect how they see their own strengths and weaknesses. Get on the growth mindset train with this free printable.

The ways we praise our children affect how they see their own strengths and weaknesses. Get on the growth mindset train with this free printable.

I think I can.

I think I can.

I think I can.

What if the Little Train had more genius to it than we ever imagined? What if the true belief that you CAN moves you closer--significantly closer--to that possibility?

As a former educator and a mom who fancies herself a lifetime learner, I've been looking into how I can incorporate the idea of a growth mindset with my children. Have you heard of this concept? It was developed by Carol Dweck, a famed psychologist and researcher, who identified two motivations of the intellect: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Dr. Dweck explained these two ways of thinking like this:

"In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that's that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don't necessarily think everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it."
Strategies for parents: easy ways to help your children embrace challenge! Free printable reminders.

Strategies for parents: easy ways to help your children embrace challenge! Free printable reminders.

In my family, I'm the youngest of three, the baby to two brilliant siblings. Growing up, I often compared myself to my sister (with the photographic memory) and my brother (with the immense capacity for knowledge). I believed that I was born with less than they were. Somewhere the thought occurred, "did my parents run out of all the good genes by the time I was born?" Through a variety of influences, including unassuming teachers and mentors who told me I was smart and talented, I came to the childhood/adolescent conclusion that I was this smart, with these talents, and could therefore do these things.

And then my world--neat, pre-determined, and a little sad--was knocked off its orbit by the asteroid of art. In the great quest for pubescent self-discovery, I decided that my niche would be art. This talent was also already taken by my siblings, but, nevertheless, I was determined that I could be a better artist than I had been. Somehow the subjective bandwidth in art broke down my fixed mindset, little by little, making way for new discoveries into how I could and I was progressing and always building upon my own talents.

Quite naturally (and beautifully) this idea that I could get better, learn from my mistakes and build upon them, and grow with hard work permeated into other areas of my life. I had once viewed myself a poor, slow reader, and I was now reading and comprehending stacks of books, and enjoying them. Moreover, I began to understand that despite whatever perceived struggles or limitations I might have in any area, with effort and determination (a key here), I could and did improve.

You might be thinking, "hello, obvious, how are you?" But let's take this idea a step further into parenting.

When was the last time you told your child (in an effort to be a supportive, loving parent), how smart she/he is? Or mentioned how talented she/he is?

Do you have a growth mindset for yourself? Take the simple quiz here.

Subtle adjustments to our parenting talk (and our internal dialogues) can make enormous changes in the ways our children perceive, achieve, and embrace challenge. Gah!

Let me retype that.

Changing the comment from "You are such a smart girl!" to "You worked so hard and look what you achieved!" can alter how our children perceive their own abilities. Encompassing a growth mindset instead of a fixed one, helping them to strive for progress and growth instead of an unachievable (and therefore ultimately disappointing) finite goal can all be a part of our parenting conversations and the family environment that we cultivate.

Get the free printable guideline on how to talk with your children in ways that will help them grow and embrace challenge.

Get the free printable guideline on how to talk with your children in ways that will help them grow and embrace challenge.

Most stunning to me is how easy this is to implement. 

Consider the brain as a muscle that gets stronger with use, and the more challenge we give it, the more opportunity we have to grow.

Consider next time when your child comes running to show you the great grade on a math test, how will you respond?

"You are brilliant. Look how smart you are at math!" or

"You worked so hard, and it paid off.  It's great to see your determination." 

Are you ready to help your child move to a growth mindset? Or ready to adopt one for yourself? I've made this easy guide to keep handy to get you on track quickly and easily. Click the yellow box below to get it and more Pars Caeli goodies!

Sign up and get our free and totally helpful, one-page simple guide!

xoxo, MJ


5 Places in Your Home that can Help Your Child Learn
Use these five places in your home as natural spaces for learning. Some creative ideas you'd never expect, but ones you'll use after reading this post!

Use these five places in your home as natural spaces for learning. Some creative ideas you'd never expect, but ones you'll use after reading this post!

As a teacher alum (AKA former teacher), I'm always interested in finding natural, positive ways that my children can fall in love with learning. We (my husband and I) utilize the summer months and casual moments together to reinforce what happens in the classroom as well as open up new avenues for curiosity and learning.

Your home can be a fun place to bring subject matter to life, and to practice and hone in on the challenges your child might be encountering. Here are 5 places in our home that we use for learning:

Use your stairways as a place to high five review learning concepts like site words and times tables. As she/he goes up the stairs, your child says the problem out loud and then gives a high five to the paper.

Use your stairways as a place to high five review learning concepts like site words and times tables. As she/he goes up the stairs, your child says the problem out loud and then gives a high five to the paper.


This is a fun exercise in reviewing new and old information! I saw it over at Creekside Learning, and we had to give a it a try. (Ssshh, don't tell my kids they're learning as they're having fun high-fiving.)

The idea is this: Trace your hand onto sheets of paper and add facts that you want to remember. Think facts like multiplication tables or sight words. We have two sets up right now - one for my Kindergartener and one for the 3rd grader (see above). As each goes up or down the stairs, they say the problem (e.g.: "4 times 10 equals 40") aloud and then slap the hand. Using their hands and minds in collaboration helps children to reach a new level of connection. And why not have something to do as you go up and down the stairs? High fives!!


Natural opportunities for learning come up all the time in the kitchen! Measuring ingredients and learning fractions go hand in hand. Doubling recipes or halving them bring out the division skills. Authentic world cuisines bring in history and geography. 

We've brought the kids into the kitchen more and more to make great food and to learn great skills. Here are some easy tips on how to have more success (and joy!) with the kids. 


Sometimes the learning can be very casual and independent, too. Think of the natural places your children go for comfort or rest. For my children, there are comfy chairs near our sunny windows that are always filled with their presence. Not coincidentally we try to keep the shelves and tables near the chairs filled with books that my kids might want to pick up. I'm all for increasing their associations with comfort and reading. :) 

I like to switch out books for the holidays to catch their attention as well as move new series into the space. We also keep our new library reads in this space so that their reading choices are at hand just when they want to reach for them.


A lot of our best thinking happens early in the morning, and the breakfast table can be a good environment for learning, too! Sometimes we use our kitchen's chalkboard wall to learn a new word or try a challenge word problem together. If your child is more on the quiet side first thing in the morning, consider leaving out a relevant newspaper article for him/her to read or even a maze to do while enjoying their morning meal.


Ok, maybe I'm stretching the definition of home for this one, but for all of you parents out there who spend hours transporting your children every week, you most likely would consider your car an extension of your home. And all that time in transit can be great learning time, too! If motion sickness is not an issue for your child, have them keep a book next to their seat to read as you drive. If it is, consider checking out audio books that you can cue up for errand running and longer trips. 

Keep a BrainQuest pack of questions in the glove compartment that you can ask each other when you're getting gas or driving to school. 

And most importantly, show your children that you're passionate about learning and growing. Join in the fun with them, and you'll also be building special family moments!!

How do you incorporate learning into your home? We're always hoping to add new ideas!

xoxo, MJ

Pinners to follow: Learning activities & crafts

Oh, Pinterest, how I love thee. I use my account as the cutest filing cabinet ever to store my ideas for all areas of life. But sometimes the seas of Pinterland are too much, and I need a compass to find my way to just the right place. I'm launching a fun new mini-series to help us find the best of the best in areas that interest.

First up on the list: Pinners to follow for learning activities and crafts

Late February, amidst the sub-zero temps and gray sludge, is my favorite time to plan out summer learning for my three kiddos. I think I need the mental transport to warm and sunny moments. We also have our own Mommy and Daddy school in the summers, but not only that, I also love to throw in learning whenever I can.

Pinterest is a fabulous resource for teachers and parents to connect joy to education. But where to begin? Check out these three pinners and some of my favorite boards.

Melissa of

Melissa is a Pinterest expert. In addition to her keen knowledge of the platform, she is a dedicated teacher, writer/blogger, and an involved mom. Her boards have specific information on learning apps, literacy activities, and fabulous gifts for kids.

My favorite pins are her book list picks for very specific audiences, including Halloween books, great series, baseball reads, comic and graphic novels, and "Can't put them down" guides.

Emily of Second Story Window

Emily fancies the celebrations and joy of life with children, and she's a gal after my own heart. She's also a teacher and momma who creates educational materials over on her site.

My favorite pins are her 21 "little" boards. If you are looking to engage with your toddler to preschooler, there is a virtual plethora of goodies to be found in these well-categorized boards. She is also a collaborative soul so check her mega boards like the Kid Blogger Network Activities and Crafts and the New Teachers boards in particular.

Allison of No Time for Flash Cards

Allison is dedicated to the enjoyment of learning (bring it!). She focuses on early learning and play, and every time I visit her site, I'm inspired to get down on the floor and create something with my kids.

My favorite boards are her subject specific ones covering science, math, and children's book related crafts. Also check out her board just for boys that has so much good messiness and learning to offer.


Do you have favorite pinners to suggest? I'm always looking for the best finds.

And if we're not pinning buds yet, find me over there at MJ | Pars Caeli.

xoxo, MJ




Mini Cooks: A recipe for success

Every Wednesday for the next six weeks join in for a fresh collaborative series called Mini Cooks. I'm teaming up with Sheri of Donuts, Dresses, and Dirt and Joy of Frock Files to explore the culinary world through the lens of children! We'll be offering you simple recipes and cooking adventures that you can do with your children, nieces/nephews, neighbors, and more.

We've been cooking up (pun intended) a fabulous series to give you practical recipes as well as helpful ways that children in your kitchen can get involved, learn important skills, and grow to love the foods they create. I'm delighted to kick us off with five ideas on how to enjoy time in the kitchen with your mini cooks!


Cooking is more comfortable when the tools of the trade fit your size. Take a look at your drawer or canister of kitchen gadgets and see what might work best for little hands. Utensils need not be used as they were originally intended... a brightly colored measuring spoon can work to mix ingredients and playful plastic cups can be a great substitute for larger adult measuring cups. Or maybe make a splurge for a magenta spatula or little egg whisk to let your littles know that they were thought of, too, in the process of food preparation.

Be sure they have a safe and secure way to reach countertops or consider taking the cooking process down to their height at a kitchen table or play table.

Dress up is always fun so consider if mini aprons and chef hats might be your thing!

Perhaps the aspect that keeps our children out of the kitchen more than any other is safety. Ovens, ranges, knives, and processors present very real concerns. Our job as the big chefs, if you will, is to make sure the space is set up for success and that we monitor mini cooks in the kitchen at all times.

First, be sure to alert children of possible dangers and help them understand safety zones. Model good locations to stand when cooking by the range, opening the oven door, or flipping on the griddle. Where are hot spots? What is breakable?

Remember to teach clean habits during the prep and clean up processes.

Of course, certain processes are not child appropriate, and mini cooks need to understand this, too. Children can still be engaged while adults take on the more risky elements.

This one I love. When my children are really involved and enjoying our food prep, it's a direct result of the pre-planning I did to make it a success. Having all of the pots, pans, bowls and tools washed and ready to use; thinking through the preparation process and what ages can handle what skills; talking with my children about what recipes they want to try.

In our house, it's a rite of passage to be able to use the hand-held mixer. And from the point that someone can stand on their own, my children know that they are welcome to hold the measuring cup over the bowl. My oldest, M, now 9 is excited to have the cutting board and dicing responsibilities now. Think early and often invitations to participate!

Forgive this former teacher, but I cannot pass up the amazing teachable moments found in the kitchen. From the history of recipes to the geography of the people who created them to the mathematics of measurement. From nutrition and agricultural learning to business and art lessons, the kitchen can become the most fertile learning ground in your house. Let it be!

Every child has her or his own limit on the messy they are willing to do. My younger daughter, C,  embraces and wears all things sloppy as she bakes. My son wants his hands clean as soon as they get wet. And neither perspective is good or bad. Try to expose your children to both sides. Engage in the messiness of goopy recipes that require hands on and use the tongs and scoops that can keep hands clean.

And remember that floors, sinks, counters, ovens, and even ponytails can be cleaned so that your mini cook can feel good making the necessary messes for his or her masterpiece!

Join us next Wednesday as Joy brings us a simple breakfast treat to entice your mini cooks into the kitchen.

Big thanks to Joy and Sheri for your incredible creative touch!

xoxo, MJ

Getting kids prepped for summer

In less than 80 school days, my three giant personalities (wrapped up in small bodies) will complete their academic and developmental years and be ready to run hog wild into summer. As much as I would love to be home with them, taking on new adventures that only the warm weather can bring, the reality is that I'm a working mom. I work from home for a portion of every day so I'll get to partake in sandboxes and water balloons. And whether I'm in the office or at home, it's really important to me that my children have a summer of fun, outdoors, activity, and as much magic as I can muster.

Are your minds turning to summer yet? We're there. Ready to plan it and live it. Here are my thoughts on how to make this summer a mutually awesome experience for parents and children.

Think of the possibilities

My favorite beginning to the process is the dreaming. This is not necessarily my husband's favorite, so draw from your strengths. I love to have "what if" conversations with three-year olds (you just never know what you'll get) and daydream along with eight-year old minds. Sit down with each child, and brainstorm all the activities they'd like to do. Consider categories like "I want to continue," "I want to try," and "I want to learn." I've discovered fascinating new aspects about my children such as an interest in Irish dancing, a want to learn to stand on one's head, and a desire to make a quilt.

Consider the impossibilities

Not my favorite aspect, but the process for which my hubs excels. Look at the summer calendar. Actually, print it out and lay it down before you. Mark off all the vacation time that you can as well as times of heavy workload. Be good to parents and children as you look at the time you have allotted. Be sure to find stretches of time for full family activities, individual time with each child, and moments for mom and dad to connect.

Put your purse where your mouth is

Those horse riding lessons and the ceramic studio time? Well, they are both beautiful options that can quickly clean out your wallet. Before you make any definite plans or fill out registration forms, decide what's a realistic amount to spend on each child's activities. Obviously most activities become more specialized and expensive as the age of the child increases so try to factor that into your budgetary conversations, too. Prioritize which experiences would be most meaningful to your child and try to hit as many of those as your budget can allow.

Enlist your helpers

The chaffeuring from one sport to the next is draining and not the way anyone wants to spend the best days of the year. Right up front, ask parents of your children's friends to join the class and sign on to the same teams so that carpooling can streamline your summer and double the fun at the same time. We rarely sign up for an event or class without calling in a buddy (it's also super helpful with children who are shy to new situations).


Take advantage of Mommy and Daddy time

Remember that the most wonderful childhood memories will happen in simple ways in your backyard or around the campfire. Make a list of all that you want to experience with the kids this summer and commit to doing them (even put making s'mores on the calendar). Make a list of what you as adult want to do and share that with your children (and spouse) to help them get to know your hopes and dreams, too. Consider how your talents and interests can add to their summer experience. Do you have the patience to teach those knitting skills your daughter so wants to learn? Or play tennis with your son? Can you even learn something new together?

Here's our summer list from last year, and we're beginning this year's now. February and March are when camps, classes, and teams begin their summer registrations so keep an eye out in your newspapers and media. And in the meantime, let the dreaming begin.

I have some extra greatness coming your way this summer with the help of other amazing bloggers. I can't wait to show you!!

What's at the top of your summer wish list?

xoxo, MJ

Turn It : Embracing the Chill

Welcome back to the Turn It series!! Joy from Frock Files and I are sharing stories/ideas/fresh perspectives that we hope will make you recognize opportunity in the problems that come your way and prompt you to use your creative juices for the power of good. Here's more from the incredible Joy:

Last week when we drove up to Vermont, we were surprised to see that many of the trees had already lost their leaves. Even though the color maps showed that the area had just peaked, they were gone -- basically overnight. Because I love fall so much, I become a live in the moment person during this short period, and I’m baffled by people who proclaim that they can’t enjoy autumn because it just means that winter is coming. But when I saw those trees, I knew that it was time to begin bracing myself for the reality that’s on its way.

Since I’m from Hawaii, I generally spend the winter wondering why I moved to the Northeast, where at least five months of the year are just plain hard. It’s a silly question, though–I know exactly why. It’s because there’s nothing like the excitement of the first yellow-green leaves on the trees in the springtime, or driving down the freeway in October to a blur of trees so brightly colored they could be ablaze. And hey, that picture
up there is of the forest I drive through every day–it’s pretty easy on the eyes even when it’s covered in snow.

This series is all about turning those tedious or dreadful or ominous things into ones in which we can delight, and I’ve decided that perhaps what I need is a change of perspective as I prepare for winter. Creating a list of activities I really want to do this winter actually has me looking forward to the snowy days ahead.

  • Read, Read, Read. It’s recently occurred to me that I miss reading books. Reading long form works satisfies me in a way that short snippets of information just can’t. I’m working on creating a reading list for myself. If you want to make one too, the New York Times Sunday Book Review is a fantastic place to start. And I do hope you’ll share your picks with us!
  • Decorate. I moved back to Boston in June. It took us three months to turn the second bedroom from storage unit to empty space, and another month and a half to finish painting the four walls. When the weather’s great, the last thing we want to do is be inside. Wintertime provides great motivation to make our home as cozy and gorgeous as possible. On our agenda: installing our own crown molding, painting the bathroom with stripes, and furnishing the office/guest bedroom. Decorating also involves lots of movement, which I can’t get enough of in the cold months.
  • Craft. Louise of Laid Off Mom started a craft date a few months back, and she invited both MJ and I to join in on the fun. The project unleashed a whole crafty side of me that I didn’t know existed! I’m excited to spend more time creating things. Need inspiration for your own craft projects? I’ve been collecting lots of craft ideas over on my Pinterest board dedicated to the topic.
  • Make Warm, Delicious Things. I’m such a sucker for stews, soups, and hot drinks. In Portland, I was introduced to something called hot buttered rum. Have you ever heard of anything with a more delicious name? Anyway, it’s unreasonable to have these things when it’s hot. But when it’s cold, I feel like it’s for survival.
  • Learn a Foreign Language. A few years ago, we went to Montreal and sheepishly had to ask people to speak to us in English. With a trip to Paris in our midst, I’m putting my foot down and we’re going to learn some French this winter beyond “Où est la bibliothèque?”
  • Do a Movie Exchange. I have a handful of favorite films James hasn’t seen. He has a handful that I haven’t seen. We plan on methodically trading off nights: one night, we’ll watch Marie Antoinette (mine); the next time, we’ll watch Brick (his).

What are you looking forward to doing when things get cold outside?

Ooh, now I'm dreaming of hot cocoa and winter baking afternoons. Thank you Joy for these great ideas (I so want to do a movie exchange!!). What are planning to do to make the most of the upcoming winter?


Mommy and Daddy School: Bookclub Reads


Thanks to all of you who have been so supportive and interested in last week's post on my daughter's bookclub. This evening we celebrated our second (and maybe final for the summer) meeting, and it was again such a joy to be with these young minds and senses of humor.

Our read for this month was Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. She's a magical woman who offers children cures to their greatest (parent-identified) ailments, such as picky eating, sibling fighting, and selfish behaviors. We rated our book (it scored a little lower than the Chocolate Touch), made simple folded books to house our own cures, and sculpted some of the objects used in the story.

For those moms and dads interested in starting up a club for your 6-9 year olds, here are 9 reads we considered...easy to moderate level chapter books that have a great theme for discussion/crafting! :)

The Chocolate Touch

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle

Stuart Little

The Lemonade Wars

The Magical Miss Plum

Ramona Quimby, age 8

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

Charlotte's Web

Do you have any great chapter books to add to the list? I'd love to see your top reads!





Mommy and Daddy School: Immersion




It feels great to return to Mommy & Daddy School posts after a 2-week hiatus here at Pars Caeli. We've been learning and doing, and I'm excited to share and to announce a fantastic giveaway for you + a wonderful little person in your life.


Leading up to the fourth of July my kiddos were all about maps and travel and puzzles. So, we wrapped all of that curiosity into a fun week of learning about the world and our special place in it.

For those of you just joining us on this adventure, let me just say that my hubby and I are former teachers who love to learn alongside our kiddos, and we take full advantage of this in the summer. However, we also both work full-time and believe in encouraging our children to try new activities in the summer months. The long and short of it–we, like so many other American families–have to find ways to squeeze in, maximize, and set aside intentional time to learn. When trying to juggle professional demands, swim lessons, camps, nap schedules, and the other 12 things that come our way every day, this can be t-ough. And we're not miracle workers...just parents with a lot of high hopes so let me share with you our ways we immerse ourselves in learning. Maybe you can use these, too?!


1. Use every tool at your disposal in the library.

Libraries are still the best, beautiful place to find dazzling information. You can read, listen, create, craft, eat, drink, compute, and entertain in ours (it's really not mine, I just visit 3 times a week).
Trying to consider the developmental levels and interests of my three, we headed to the board books, picture books, and chapter books to see what we could discover about the United States. We also explored the non-fiction section, and each child selected a book about their favorite state. Great patriotic reads and simple historic books abound. Over at music we found great CDs of Americana set to tune. Schoolhouse Rock (a little too old for our kids) has some great stuff, and we found other simple movies/shows about the US. We could have explored maps, puzzles, computer games, magazines, audio books, and more, but kids need snacks, too, so we left with our stack of 20 books/CDs.

How great is that United Tweets of America, Twitter friends? It's a charmed book with a page for each state bird.



2. Time learning in the car is not time wasted.

We have a lot of life stuff to meld into our summer learning so, like it or not, we spend time hauling to and fro in the minivan. One of the ways we continue learning during transit is through music. There are so many great CDs with toddler tunes, nursery rhymes, children's stories, pneumonic devices, and, in our case for this week, patriotic songs. So we played these melodies over and over and had some great sing-alongs while sitting at the traffic lights. Hearing my 5-year old sing that Grand Old Flag was a hoot!



3. Technology is your friend in small quantities.

I love technology, but I know that my children need it in small doses for real learning to take place. We encourage digital learning, and we allow our three kiddos time on the computer, Ipad, and Iphones.


Two great apps that we utilized for learning this week: Stack the States (great for adults, too!) and Learn the States (so many great variations).


This is my favorite children's atlas. Lift the flap!

Along with these, we coupled real maps and altases. Breaking out the world map, we pressed sticky dots on the states and countries where are friends and family reside, and we were able to talk about the places that grandmothers and great grandmothers traveled from. Really a lovely exercise in story telling.



4. Make your toys work for you.

Those blocks can make a great compass rose.  Take the Matchbox cars for a pretend drive along Route 66. My Little Ponys can help the settlers pretend to discover the country in your dress-up gear. You get the idea.


When we started this theme, I thought, what can we use around that we already have? Thinking I'd come up empty handed, I went on a hunt and found map puzzles, talking globes, and a whole host of other toys we could adapt for this learning experience. The kiddos, especially the 2-year old, loved playing with old toys in new ways.


5. Parents are the first learners.

Children can read our enthusiasm (or lack thereof), and nothing hits home as well as when they see Mommy & Daddy learning something new themselves. I find interjecting (short) stories of my first learnings or retelling of "when-I-was-5-years-old" is really helpful as it relates to content. Knowing the song Mommy learned to remember all the states is more fun. Learning of how Daddy experienced New Mexico makes the state come alive.


On top of that, we try to investigate questions within our learning that my husband and I also want to learn. What is our state flower? Should we include one in our landscape? How long would it take to do that cross country roadtrip we're dreaming of? Sharing these questions with our kids, and allowing them to follow our thought processes and tools for investigation lets them know we care about learning so much we make time to do it, too!!

And on that happy note, I'm excited and delighted to announce our first big giveaway!! Through the generosity of the lovely Mariah Bruehl of Playful Learning, one lucky winner and their incredible young person will win a spot in the creative Ecademy series, Through the Lens. I've enrolled M, and she'd love to have a great new classmate!

To win, please leave a comment below. If you want a bonus second chance, send out a tweet about @parscaeli and @playfullearning, and we'll give you extra credit! The winner will be announced on Monday because I love happy announcements at the start of my week. Good luck!!

Happy Wednesday!

Congratulations to Sandra! This giveaway is now closed. Stop back again for more goodness!

Playful Learning: Through the Lens eCourse

Through the Lens: Explorations in Photo Journaling, Wednesday, July 18 - August 8, is an e-course that has been created for children (and their grown-ups) ages six through twelve. Participants will gain new understanding of themselves and the world around them by exploring a variety of photography and writing techniques while creating and adding to their own photo journals. The goal for this e-course is to nurture positive self-expression through photography, writing, and art—to discover and develop a strong sense of voice. It is also a wonderful opportunity for parents and teachers to join in on the process and to connect with their children or students in new and exciting ways.



Prepping for Mommy and Daddy School


In my worklife, I have the grand opportunity to attend many lectures and conferences on the latest trends and research in education. As I've mentioned before, my husband and I are both trained educators with fond remembrances of the rich habitat of a classroom, and I enjoy dipping back into these forums whenever I get the chance.


While attending a panel discussion yesterday on the state of science and math education, I was intrigued by new-to-me concepts of making science come alive and relate to children of all levels and backgrounds. And as a brilliant scholar narrowed the conversation to a single thread, I was struck by his question:

Where is the possibility to pursue your curiosity?

He argued (well) that science should be, foremost, a pursuit of our curiosities - a way for each of us to make sense of the physical world around us.

Fast forward ----> This brings me to another new summer feature here on Pars Caeli, Mommy & Daddy School. Because my husband and I are both teachers by formation, it's just in our blood to want to "teach" our children. Of course this happens all the time during the school year. Parents are the first and primary educators of their children. But, in the summertime, we take it to a different level and run our beloved Mommy & Daddy School.

Research has proven that children learn best when the learning is continuous. Don't we all?

I want my children to be lifelong, everyday learners, curious and inquisitive about the world to which they contribute. I also want them to know and feel that knowledge is powerful.

And so as June approaches, furniture and traffic patterns change. Our cozy red, mission-inspired dining room is converted into a space for curiosity. And these multipurpose 9-cubes from Target find their way up from our playroom and are prepped to house projects, books, folders, and anything else that catches our fancy. Note: this is them before. Soon you'll no longer be able to tell they're white because we cover them with labels and "really interesting stuff."

I have three little people with whose amazing minds I get to work - ages 7, 5, and 2, and I want to make sure that each feels honored and encouraged in the space.


And so that means along with these lovely white spaces ready to be filled, we also have lots of these...because little L's loudest wish on the big summer list was to build lots of legos. So you better believe that we have lots of legos and a lego table in here for him (and because he has two older sisters, there's a lot of pink legos, too).

I believe children need open space in which to explore their questions, a structure on which to organize their answers, and a gallery in which to share it with the world. What does this mean practically? A large table, individual storage space, lots of writing and creating materials.


We're just starting up our learning, and I love to begin by asking them what they want to learn this summer because these ideas are our primary curriculum! I'm always surprised by what they offer. Here's where we stand:

M: learn to use a sewing machine
C: learn to go all the way across the monkey bars by myself
L: learn to ride bike without training wheels (this is gonna be a tough one at two, but we'll definitely work towards it)

We also start off by measuring each other and making a great big growth chart on which we also measure other important items (like special blankets and toys) to learn how other objects compare to us in size.

All of these artifacts get posted in the "red room" for us to look at all summer long.

I love being surrounded by my children's accomplishments and dreams. It's a room of such energy.

Follow along every Wednesday as we explore some of the fun activities and projects taking place in Mommy & Daddy school. We'll be reading, crafting, exploring nature, taking on great IPad apps, praying, exercising, experimenting and more! Phew, and taking naps.

How do you nurture your curiosity? Is there a space in your home for you or your children to do so? I'd love to hear!

Thanks so much for popping over! Happy Wednesday.


PS. Here are some great ideas from education experts on simple ways you can keep learning together this summer.