Blogging Boot Camp

I’ve been blogging off and on since 2010. I’ve read lots of books, talked to lots of people, and joined lots of Facebook groups. There are two things that have helped me more than anythign else. First was personal coaching with Christine Tremoulet. You can read all about her awesomeness on my Smith Squad blog. Second is Blogging Boot Camp with Brenda Ster.

Brenda is the owner of the company “The Sassy Suite” which she started to help direct sellers excel in their business without annoying all their friends with spammy marketing tactics. She has some absolutely amazing classes on using social media to sell. Two of the many I’ve taken that I loved are the Suite Success with Instagram video course and the Winning with Pinterest video course. My absolute FAVORITE course is blogging boot camp. In fact The Muchness Mama wouldn’t exist without Blogging Boot Camp. I was a member of Blogging Boot Camp 5.

The best part of this Blogging Boot camp is that they help you with both the technical and the artistic details of creating and maintaining your blog. They don’t just set it up and leave you high and dry to figure out the rest. This course is completely comprehensive on how to use wordpress, pick and change themes, customize themes, come up with content ideas, create basic graphics, etc. Best of all you get tons of help from the other students and the instructors in a private facebook group as well as assistance and feedback from the community at large in a closed Facebook group. I can’t say enough about how fun and helpful Brenda, Wendy, Hope, and the other instructors are. I’d honestly say this course is worth double what they charge.

If you are ready to revolutionize your business, reach new costumers, become an influencer, share your message, and get found on Google the Blogging Boot Camp is the way to do it. Simply click the image below to get more details and get started.

Sassy Suite Blogging Boot Camp

Play Based Learning

I will freely admit that my children spend the majority of their time in play. I know that many would look into our home and feel that I am drastically neglecting my children’s education. Nothing could be further from the truth. I believe that play based learning is the most important form of education for a child. Play, and even more specifically mixed age play, gives children the opportunity to develop social skills, language and literacy development, cognitive reasoning, emotional intelligence, and motor skills.

Social Skills:

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Social intelligence does not come naturally. It is a trait that is developed and trained through experience. Parents can and should teach, but the best tool for learning important social skills is by playing with other children. There is a great motivator at work, the continuation of the play. When allowed to play freely, with minimal adult interference, a child must learn empathy for their playmates if they want the play to continue. If they do not learn to share, take turns, and negotiate conflicting desires then they will lose their playmate.

Language and Literacy Development:

In order to successfully play with others a child must learn oral communication skills. They learn new words, and they have to learn how to string those words together to express a complete thought. Often as they play they are faced with situations where they may not know the words to express what they need/want. Learning new words and phrases in this situation solidifies the pathways of true understanding better than any spelling or vocabulary lesson ever could. With mixed ages playing together older children are able to assist the younger ones in developing new words while simultaneously reinforcing their own knowledge and understanding. As children play they develop complex story lines and situation. This creates a greater ability to understand the symbolism, story lines, and differences between the fact and fiction in the literature that they read.

Cognitive Reasoning:

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Through play children are able to learn about and understand the world around them. As children play imaginative games they take on different roles, and act them out. This requires complex thoughts about how another person would act in the currently imagined situation. When playing with a group children have to work together to define the story line, decide who will play what role, and deal with conflict as it arises throughout the game. Through this exercise they practice problem solving, planning, self monitoring and evaluating their own and others’ actions. Every time an adult steps in to organize the play they are robbing the children of the opportunity to develop these skills.

Emotional Intelligence:

Emotional intelligence begin with self-awareness and self-management. These skills are best taught by parents. The next steps, social-awareness and relationship management, are best  learned through play with other children. When a child is sitting at a desk or table doing worksheets they are robbed of the ability to interact with their peers and through this interaction become aware of those around them. When children are able to freely play together they learn to sense others needs and wants and from there progress to managing their relationships with others.

Motor Skills:

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The physical health of our society is going drastically downhill. Play is crucial to developing both fine and gross motor skills necessary to maintaining physical strength. It is during free play that a child learns to coordinate their body movements to accomplish a specific goal. While organized sports and activities can be a good supplement for body development, free play is the best form of exercise for children. During free play they learn to think through a physical task and then accomplish that task. They use their bodies in new ways and strengthen necessary core muscles. With organized exercise and sports children are directed in what body movements to make. This diminishes their ability to learn about acceptable physical risk and truly test their own limits. During free play, they are also able to learn spatial awareness, the effects of force, and confidence in their own physical abilities.

My children are doing the most productive thing that they can do by spending their day playing. I have to admit I struggle with wanting to butt in and tell them they are not being fair, do a complicated physical activity for them, or assist them in negotiating a relationship problem. As I learn to trust them and their processes I am amazed by what they can accomplish. They truly are doing the most important educational work they can be doing.

For further reading check out these articles:

Early Childhood News- “Let’s Play! Using Play-Based Curriculum to Support Children’s Learning throughout the Domains”

CMEC Statement on Play Based Learning

National Association for the Education of Young People “Play and Children’s Learning”

Are You Common?

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Our current public educational system is based on the idea that every child is “common” and should perform to common standards. They must all study the same subjects at the same time. They must not be allowed to be too far ahead or behind their peers. They must be average in everything. They are not allowed to follow their strengths and passions. They are not pushed to truly excel, but even worse they are not allowed to fail, quit, or choose a specialty.

Are you common? Are you just like every adult around you? Do you group yourself by age and strive to be exactly the same intellectually as those within 12 months of your exact birthday? Do you stop yourself from learning something because Jane next door hasn’t learned it? Do you as a banker feel pressured to learn everything Tim down the street knows about mechanical engineering? Do you do every job that is available to you?

The reality of adult life does not even slightly resemble the system of education that we have forced our children to endure. Why do we expect our children to conform to a system that does not prepare them for the reality they will face as adults? The current schooling system was created for a generation of children who were being groomed to work in the factories. Put them on the conveyer belt, fill their heads with exactly what they need to be useful factory workers then shove them into the workforce. The system isn’t trying to create great artists, innovators, and leaders. The system isn’t trying to create managers, CEO’s or entrepreneurs. The system is designed to create great followers.

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As these “common” standards are developed they focus primarily on reading and math. As a result, other extracurricular subjects are getting severely restricted and even completely cut. Goodbye recess, P.E., Music, Art, etc. I personally do not see these activities as merely fluff. these are the critical activities that give our children a well rounded education. Young children learn primarily through play. It is through these crucial social interactions that they figure out how their world works and what their part is in it. It is through play that they face their fears, develop their strengths, and make sense of what all those crazy adults around them are doing. In our attempts to leave no child behind we are stamping out what makes them human, we are expecting them to be mere robots in a human shell.

Early childhood expert Jane Healy once said “…one of our misguided expectations right now in the education field is that every child should leave kindergarten reading. Well, not every child is going to leave kindergarten reading.” I can’t begin to count how many mothers I have spoken to in person and online who are beyond stressed out because their child isn’t beginning to read BEFORE they even attend one day of Kindergarten. If they can’t read by the end of Kindergarten well then heaven help them the sky must be falling! When did we stop listening to the experts and start listening to the developers of the “common” standards when deciding what our children should know and when they should know it?

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Free to Fly

I want more for my children. I want my children to dream the impossible and make it happen. I want my children to be encouraged and empowered. I want my children to be leaders and innovators. I want them to take each piece of knowledge and truly digest it at their own pace. I want them to forget about subjects and grades and truly love the adventure of learning. I want them to be their own special unique selves without pressure to conform to the “common” standard that some politician has decided is the right way to be.

I want more for myself. I want to be free from the stress of whether they have done enough homework today. I want to be free from comparing my child to the children around them. I want to be free from standardized testing that doesn’t tell me anything about my child other than how well they have memorized a few choice bits of information. I want to be free from timelines and age based expectations. I want to teach my 7 year old algebra at the same time as I allow my 5 year old to be 100% ok with not yet knowing how to read.

My children will be free to fly wherever the wings of their heart may take them. I will be free to love them and enjoy their childhood without stressing over whether they have learned the “common” things today.