Nonna's Favorite Quotes:

Nonna's Favorite Quotes: "The best way to make children good is to make them happy." — Oscar Wilde, author and poet

Monday, October 31, 2011

Thanks Mr. Cosby

Mèmè Shares: 
Bill Cosby was such a great influence on my life and my children’s.  I first heard his stand-up comedy in the late sixties on a record album (anybody remember those). The album was "Bill Cosby is a Very Funny Fellow...Right."  He did a routine about Noah building the Ark.  I memorized the whole routine and used to do it to entertain my college roommates.  We would laugh until we cried.  Eventually, I had all his albums and often quoted funny lines from them.
My own children were introduced to Bill Cosby by way of his television show.  We taped every episode on the VCR (anybody remember those) and would re-watch them often.  One winter, about the third snow day in a row the kids were home and bored, I got out the old albums and our record player (remember those).  We spent the whole afternoon listening to all the great comedy – Tonsils,” “Go Carts,” “Noah,” and my personal favorite, “Chicken Heart.”  The kids had a new respect for comedy that could be so funny and never included even one bad word.  This was about the time that comedians like Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor were doing stand-up and Saturday Night Live and were really stretching the boundaries.
Fast-forward to the nineties and my first years teaching here in Memphis.  At that time in a self-contained classroom we taught all subjects – including religion, as we are a parochial school.  Sixth grade religion curriculum is the Old Testament and on went the light bulb.  Dragged out the albums again for a new generation of listeners, and found an old record player in the library with a still working needle. (Anybody?)  The kids laid on the floor and found the record going around as fascinating as the comedy.  Even though we are now departmentalized and I teach only literature, imagine my excitement when I found a selection in our literature book from Bill Cosby.  So, I still get a chance to introduce my favorite comedian to another generation. 
Probably one of the finest moments in my teaching career was when an autistic child who heard “Noah”  performed, chuckled out-loud and kept repeating the punch line..."Riiighhhhttt!"  He later asked he parents to purchase the CD’s (y’all know what those are) and memorized the routine.  He did it word for word with a perfect mimic and went on to be a starring member of our Middle School competition Forensic, Public Speaking and Drama team.
Thanks, Mr. Cosby for all your contributions to entertainment and education.

Mary C. Prus, B.A., MATL. (Mémé) taught and administered Early Childhood Developmental Programs in Erie, PA. for 20 years, including the Maura Smith Child Learning Center on the campus of Mercyhurst College, where she had received her Bachelor’s Degree (many years earlier). Which only proves - what goes around, comes around!  Currently she is teaching sixth grade Middle School in Memphis, TN. She is a long distance grandmother to three grandchildren.

Bill Cosby and Phyllis Diller Parenting Quotes

Let's start our day with a laugh or two.

Here are a few funny parenting quotes from Bill Cosby.
  • No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I'm not talking about the kids.
  • Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.
  • The truth is that parents are not really interested in justice. They just want quiet.
  • Sex education may be a good idea in the schools, but I don't believe the kids should be given homework.
  • Human beings are the only creatures on earth that allow their children to come back home.
Here are a few of Phyllis Diller's classic quotes.
  • I want my children to have all the things I couldn't afford. Then I want to move in with them.
  • Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.
  • Be nice to your children, for they will choose your rest home.
  • Most children threaten at times to run away from home. This is the only thing that keeps some parents going.
  • We spend the first twelve months of our children's lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve telling them to sit down and shut up.
  • Housework can't kill you, but why take a chance? 
 Inspired Parenting Tips

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Parenting Tips From Erma Bombeck

I love Erma Bombeck's humor. She never ceased to make me laugh. I just found some of her funniest parenting tips and words of wisdom about children and housework that I thought you'd enjoy.

  • Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter-productivity.
  • I'm trying very hard to understand this generation. They have adjusted the timetable for childbearing so that menopause and teaching a sixteen-year-old how to drive a car will occur in the same week.
  • My theory on housework is, if the item doesn't multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?
  • Why would anyone steal a shopping cart? It's like stealing a two-year-old.
  • No one ever died from sleeping in an unmade bed. I have known mothers who remake the bed after their children do it because there is wrinkle in the spread or the blanket is on crooked. This is sick.
  • One thing they never tell you about child raising is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child's name and how old he or she is.
  • Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth.
  • My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first one being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.
  • When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they're finished, I climb out.
  • In general my children refuse to eat anything that hasn't danced on television.
          Inspired Parenting Tips

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Word Scramble

Here's a fun Word Scramble for Halloween. Right click on the puzzle then click Print Picture.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween's Roots

Mèmè Shares:  
Should our kids celebrate Halloween? Halloween is a most interesting holiday.  It is seen by many as a pagan rite and ancient festival of Druids and witches – some who still practice today.
Actually, its origins are not only rooted in Christianity, but very American. Because we are a parochial school, the children learn the religious history of the holiday as All Hallows Eve (hallow’en) and the precursor to All Saints Day on November 1st. 
Dressing up comes from the medieval French, who dressed for All Souls Day, November 2nd, a day of feast and prayer for those who died. Our 8th graders will have a Great Hall of Saints, where students will dress as a saint and recite a short history of that saint’s life to anyone who steps up to them.
The Irish, worried about the souls in hell becoming unhappy and causing trouble, used noise (banging pots and pans) and light (carved turnips with candles inside) to keep those souls away.  Early settlers used gourds and pumpkins to make this jack-o-lantern.
In Britain, Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated on November 5th, to commemorate the failure of the “Gunpowder Plot” in 1605 to remove King James I.  Revelers wore masks and went from house to house demanding food and drink – trick or treat.
As all these immigrant peoples came to America, the wonderful blending of traditions began to meld into the holiday called Halloween.  It is a truly American celebration with Christian roots.
Many local churches hold “trunk & treats” with games, face painting and other safe activities. At our school the little ones dress up and parade up and down the hall way.  The older students gather outside the classroom and clap, cheer and high-five as they go past.  Some are very shy or self-conscious and some seem to be right in character!  Celebrate and make your own family traditions.

Mary C. Prus, B.A., MATL. (Mémé) taught and administered Early Childhood Developmental Programs in Erie, PA. for 20 years, including the Maura Smith Child Learning Center on the campus of Mercyhurst College, where she had received her Bachelor’s Degree (many years earlier). Which only proves - what goes around, comes around!  Currently she is teaching sixth grade Middle School in Memphis, TN. She is a long distance grandmother to three grandchildren.

1950s Halloween

As I was putting the finishing touches on my grandchildren's Halloween costumes this week, I starting thinking about my own Halloween experiences in the 1950s. How different everything was then.

Halloween started way before the dressing up part began. The kids in the neighborhood kicked-off the holiday with the "trick" portion of Halloween about mid-October. The ritual of knocking on your neighbor's door and then running away to hide in the bushes, so you could see the expression on their face when no one was there, was an expected occurence in my neighborhood. No one ever called the police because this kind of thing was tolerated during the holiday. Nothing was broken or vandalized... Dad just had to get up from his easy chair to answer the door. (But Dad had to get up anyway to change the TV channel because there were no remote controls in the 50s!)

The boys in the neighborhood used to play a trick they called "tic-tac-toe." (I don't know why it was called that. Boys aren't very creative I guess.) This "trick" started with a very long string. On one end you tied several metal washers. Then you'd sneak up to your neighbors window (they were all double hung, wooden windows at that time) and with a thumbtack you attached the washer part of the string to the wood so that the washers would hang over the glass. Then you'd quietly sneak into the nearby bushes (I guess everyone had bushes in those days because we were always hiding in them) and gently pull your end of the string back and forth so the washers would tap on the window. The expected response was a neighbor looking curiously out the window... hopefully over and over again. Then all they had to do was pull on the string to dislodge the thumbtack and washers and it was on to a new neighbor to torment. 

Then came Halloween night... and the "treat" part! Everyone's Mom made their costume (no Target or KMart in the 50s.) Your treat bag was a pillowcase. Your goal was to visit as many houses as possible and to fill that pillowcase at least two or three times. No parents ever went out with us because it was our neighborhood and it was just assumed to be kid-friendly. We'd stop home a couple of times for bathroom breaks or to empty our pillowcases, but we were pretty much on our own all night long. 

Finally, too tired to continue... it was time to display the night's treats on the kitchen table. Nobody worried about the goodies. No one found razor blades, etc. in the candy (even from the neighbors we played the pranks on.) Everything was up for grabs. We ate until we couldn't shove another Necco Wafer into our mouth. No one worried about the sugar, the salt, the fat or the artificial colors...ahh, another perfect Halloween

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Crossword Puzzle

Here's a Halloween Crossword Puzzle for your children. To print just right click on the puzzle and click Print Picture.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When Duty Calls - Today's Grandparents

I friend of mine commented to me the other day that it seems to her that more and more grandparents are taking an active part in their grandchildrens daily activities. More so than when we were raising our children. She wondered if I had any thoughts on the subject. So I did a little research.

According to the AARP, the number of children living in a grandparents home has risen considerably over the past decade (taken from new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.) Here are some facts they provide:

  • 4.9 million children under the age of 18 live in grandparent-headed households. It's suspected that this has to do with the economy over the past five years, including foreclosures and the worsening the job market.
  • Approximately 20% of these children have neither parent present in the home, so grandparents become responsible for their basic needs.
  • 67% percent of grandparents reporting responsibily for grandchildren are under the age of 60.
Grandparents are increasingly providing the care, stability and, in many cases, a home for their grandchildren. For grandparents who find themselves in this situation, raising another family was probably not part of their retirement plan. But they have stepped right in when their families needed them.

But even when grandchildren are not living in their home, grandparents are still playing an increasingly more important role in their lives. In 2010, 64.3% of families had both parents working (U.S. Census Bureau) and I would assume that number will be higher in 2011.  So when it comes time for children to go to doctor's appointments, dance class, or soccer practice that responsibility often falls on the grandparents.

So other than the economy, what accounts for this trend in family togetherness? The cost of child care is one factor. The average household with an employed mother and children under age 5 paid $129 per week for child care (U.S. Census Bureau.) Another reason could be the fact that the "grandparent generation" are living longer, healthier, and more active lives. So they are physically able help with child care well into their 70s, and some into their 80s.

So my answer to my friend is that she's correct, we are seeing more grandparents providing the care that was once provided by Mom and Dad. But speaking as a grandparent who helps out when the need arises... if that means I get to spend more quality time with my grandkids then so be it. They keep me young and active and make me smile. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mémé responds to: "Don't Sit On Your Hands...Start Signing"

Mémé responds:
Let me respond to what Nonna has posted about using sign language at an early age.  My own children are a few years older than Nonna’s and she and her husband, Larry, are their godparents. I grew up with Larry, but didn’t meet Nonna until college. Aren’t life’s twists amazing! At the time her son Jim was born, we lived very close to each other in Erie, PA.  Once it was determined that he was profoundly deaf, intervention and the long road advocating for her son began.  All family and friends were encouraged to begin to learn simple signs.  We were given signs to convey our names.  My family’s were initials M, J, and A off the top of the head.  Not sure why??
As Nonna indicated, her youngest son, Sam, could sign before he could talk.  As the boys got older, they became very proficient and even developed a signing short hand.  This lead to some interesting situations, especially when I needed help signing or interpreting. I found that things I asked Sam to interpret were being signed just the opposite. “Get out of the pool.” was signed “Stay in the pool!” and “No more fooling around, go to sleep!” became “We can PLAY!!”
At the school where I am currently teaching we have a very unique program called PLUS – Positive Learning Utilizing Strategies for students with identified learning disabilities.  Our sixth grade teacher has introduced finger spelling as a means for the students to practice their Spelling Words in a tactile way.  They love signing to each other and, hopefully, we will see improvement in their assessments. I'll keep you posted.
Nonna adds:
I have to add to Mémé's story about my boys... In Tucson, a deaf person can get into a movie for half price. So the boys decided that Jim would wear one hearing aid and Sam would wear the other one when they went to the theater... need I say more...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Don't Sit On Your Hands...Start Signing
Children love to move. In fact the only time I don't see my grandkids moving is when they're asleep. Children and movement go hand in hand. That's why teaching a young child sign language is so easy. We already put actions to songs and poems, like Itsy Bitsy Spider. (You've been teaching sign language without knowing it!)  So why not combine signs with everyday language too. 

As I have mentioned in previous posts, one of my children is deaf. We've been signing to him since he was a little over a year old. Two years later, I had a second child. I started signing to him shortly after he was born. When he was 10 months old I bought him his first pair of Buster Brown shoes. (Remember those brown leather high tops, grandmas?) After wearing them home from the store, he signed his first complete thought to me. "Shoes off hurt!" I was astounded. He was not saying words yet, but he could sign sentences.

I've since learned that when children learn to speak and sign together they are processing language by using both sides of their brain. Verbal sounds are processed on the left side of the brain and signs (like images) are processed on the right side of the brain. So when children need to recall language, they use both sides together. In short, actions help children remember words. It's also been proven that children retain more of what they learn when they are having fun. Signing is fun.

It is now widely accepted that what is learned during the early years of a child's life can determine how successful that child will be in school. Sign language reinforces the spoken word and can help create a strong foundation on which to build future language skills. 

I encourage you to try signing to your children. To help you get started, I'm including a link to a website called Simple signs are demonstrated with easy to follow directions. Give it a try. I think you'll see it's easy and fun. Your kids will love it!      

Baby Sign Language

Friday, October 14, 2011

Nonna's Turn To Ask Why

Why is it that little children...

... always need to talk with you when you're on the phone? (You can substitute "in the
    bathroom" or "in the shower" here too.)

... never want to play with a toy until someone else has it?

... love carrotts (substitute any food here) one day and hate them the next?

... can pick their nose and people think it's cute?

... look just as cute with messy hair (sometimes cuter) as they do after you've spent 15
    minutes braiding or curling it?

... can use the word "why" in respose to anything you say?

... never accept your response to "why", and ask it again and again and

... wait until you're ready to walk out the door to tell you they have poop in
    their pants?

... always find and pick up the yuckiest thing on the floor?

... ham it up for pictures at home but turn into little statues at the
    photography studio?

... can't remember to pick up their toys but never forget you promised them a happy meal?

... know where all the $1 bins are at Target but can't find their socks at home?

... grow out of their need for a nap so quickly? (I'm all grown up and I still need a nap.)

... turn into little angels when they're asleep?

... make life worth living!

Love to hear your "Why is it..." thoughts.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Mémé Shares: 

This morning I read for the first time a new term in parent discipline lexicon called “pushing-back.”  I was appalled and a little on edge once I fully understood that, indeed this is what parents refer to when a child is not following the rules, arguing or downright defiant.  By the way, a parent disciplining their child is now labeled “top-down pushing.”  Exactly when did the corporate board room take over the daily give and take of the family unit?

I can imagine the scene in my home if I argued with my parents about their decisions for my welfare.  At the very least, it was talking back, and you could bet it would have been a race to see which parent could get their hands on me first.  Time in my room alone to word the expected apology would have been the least of my worries.  I can’t even envision that, instead of apologizing, I explained that I was merely “pushing-back” in order to determine the limits and perhaps negotiate a compromise! Seriously??
Discipline should flow one way and that is from the parents (and grandparents) to the child. In the school setting it's from the teacher to the student. (Enough there for an entire blog.) True, my parents' generation- and mine- did not have to deal with electronically wired 24/7 tweens and teenagers.  However, if there was something I enjoyed doing, it was gone faster than I could blink.  And punishments stood.  If I was grounded for a week, it was a week.  Didn’t matter that it was homecoming and “I would be the only one not going!”  Perhaps today’s parents, who are also wired, are forgetting that children look for structure and meaning in the parameters of their lives. It surely won’t come from their 300 friends on Facebook and 140 Twitter characters. It is the parents responsibility to provide that structure and, yes, from the top down.  And no pushing back.

Mary C. Prus, B.A., MATL. (Mémé) taught and administered Early Childhood Developmental Programs in Erie, PA. for 20 years, including the Maura Smith Child Learning Center on the campus of Mercyhurst College, where she had received her Bachelor’s Degree (many years earlier). Which only proves - what goes around, comes around!  Currently she is teaching sixth grade Middle School in Memphis, TN. She is a long distance grandmother to three grandchildren.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fridge Magnet Fun

I bought my granddaughter the "Fridge Phonics" set from LeapFrog about four years ago. The letters have been a permanent fixture on my refrigerator ever since. I've purchased a "bazillion" toys since then for her and my grandson... some they played with for a week and forgot about, and some they still play with occasionally. But they go back to the Fridge Phonics over and over again. They love to insert the magnetic letters into the player and sing the little song... "M says mmm. M says mmm. Every letter makes a sound. M says mmm." It's a catchy little tune. But over the years they have become very creative with the way they play with this toy.

At first, as toddlers, the purpose of the game was to pull all the letters off the refrigerator door, throw them around the room, and then watch Nonna pick them up and put them back on the door again. This game seemed to be very entertaining... to the grandkids, that is.

As time went on they learned to place the letters in the player and sing the little song... then throw the letters around the room and watch Nonna pick them up and put them back on the refrigerator door. (Note: This is a very sturdy toy. Those letters have been tossed around, stepped on, and tripped over for four years and they still work!)

Fortunately (for me) the throwing years have come and gone. The children have now come up with educational ways to use this toy. They love to line the letters up in a straight line or a big circle (in alphbetical order, of course). They take great pride in knowing what sound each letter makes, and what letters they need to write their names.

My granddaughter is almost five so she is into creating words. I put up an ending like "an" and then she chooses letters to place at the beginning to make words. We've also started looking for final consonants to add to words. I put up "ar" and she looks for the letters to make it "art", "arm", or "ark". I also line up the letters in alphabetical order, then remove some and have her put them back in the correct spaces.

You can also use this toy to teach the difference between consonants and vowels. It demonstrates both sounds for each vowel and both hard and soft sounds for C and G. 

There are so many ways you can use this simple toy. LeapFrog also sells sets of letters without the player. It helps to have two of each letter when you start building words, but it's not necessary. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Color Song

I found this on a site called Dream It's simple, but effective in teaching little ones their colors. Sorry about the pop up ad, but it comes with the video. Just click on the X to close it and it won't show up again.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Laughter is the Soul's Medicine

I recieved these in an email from my college friend, Valerie. She thought my followers might enjoy the humor. If you like them, share them with a friend. Make someone laugh today!

TEACHER:   Why are you late?
SARA:           Because class started before I got here.

TEACHER:   Maria, go to the map and find North America.
MARIA:          Here it is.
TEACHER:   Correct. Now class, who discovered America?
CLASS:         Maria.

TEACHER:   John, why are you doing your math multiplication 
                        tables on the floor?
JOHN:           You told me to do it without using tables.

TEACHER:   Glenn, how do you spell crocodile?
GLENN:        K-R-O-K-O-D-I-A-L
TEACHER:   No, that's wrong.
GLENN:        Maybe it's wrong, but you asked me how I spelled it.

TEACHER:   Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?
TEACHER:   What are you talking about?
DONALD:     Yesterday you said it was H to O

TEACHER:   Name one important thing we have today that we didn't have 10 years ago.
WINNIE:        Me!

TEACHER:   Millie, give me a sentence starting with "I."
MILLIE:           I is...
TEACHER:   No, Millie... always say I am.
MILLIE:          All right...I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.

TEACHER:   George Washington not only chopped down his father's
                        cherry tree, but also admitted it. Now Louie, do you 
                        know why his father didn't punish him?
LOUIE:          Because George still had the axe in his hand.

TEACHER:   Clyde, your composition on "My Dog" is exactly the same as your brother's.
                        Did you copy his?
CLYDE:         No sir. It's the same dog.

TEACHER:   Steven, why do you always get so dirty?
STEVEN:      Well, I'm a lot closer to the ground than you are.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

"Nonna and Me ABCs" Alphabet - P to T

Here's another sample of my "Nonna and Me ABCs" DVD.

This section teaches the letters P through T and their sounds using animations and graphics, sound effects and music. Watch it with your child/grandchild. My ABCs book and CD coordinate with the video.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What It's Like To Be A Grandma

People ask me all the time how I feel about being a Grandma (or in my case a "Nonna"). My answer is this. I thought having children was about the best thing that could ever happen to me. That's all I ever wanted to do. Even as a young child, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always "a mother." 

The idea of being a grandmother never entered my mind. Maybe it was because I could never imagine myself being THAT old. But here I am, many years later, Nonna to three beautiful grandchildren. And let me tell you, it's a wonderful, beautiful, magical thing.

My two sons are in constant awe of my husband and I when they observe us with the grandkids. They look at each other in astonishment and say "Who are these people??" They'll start by citing the "flashlight" example. When they were growing up and wanted to play with our flashlights, their dad would go into great detail as to why that wasn't a good idea. They quote him, "If you play with it now and run the battery down, then when we need to use it, it won't work. Don't play with the flashlight!" And this is usually followed by the "McDonald's" example. If the boys didn't like what we were having for dinner and asked for something else, they were told, "You don't see any golden arches over our house do you? This isn't a restaurant so eat what's in front of you."

Needless to say, our grandchildren don't have to follow these same rules. Flashlights are always available for play and we have been known to prepare something special when the dinner menu doesn't quite suit their taste. That's the fun of being a grandparent. Although we try to enforce the same rules as their parents, we can (and do) stretch the boundaries a little. And the best part is that we do it with a clear conscience! After all, isn't spoiling your grandkids part of the job description?

So, what is it like being a grandma? Adjectives like happy, joyful, delighted, proud, fulfilled, silly, tender, tolerant and exhausted come to mind. There's a Welsh proverb that says "Perfect love sometimes does not come until grandchildren are born."  I think that pretty much says it all. Oh, and there's another important perk that comes with the job. You get the satisfaction of knowing that your children finally understand what you went through raising them. And with that understanding comes compassion and respect.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's Not How We Get There

Phonics is a method of teaching beginners to read and pronounce words by learning to associate letters, or groups of letters, with the sounds they represent. Sight Reading refers to the memorization and recognition of individual words.

As adults, we seldom have to sound out a new word because we recognize most words by sight. However, there is still some controversy over which is the better method of teaching children to read. After researching this subject, it appears to me that most reading experts currently accept that the best method of teaching reading involves both. Given that people can also be divided into visual learners and auditory learners, some could argue that children may have more success with one strategy than the other.

But I like to use the example of my oldest son. Jim has been profoundly deaf since birth. His deafness was diagnosed when he was about a year old. We soon discovered that there were several methods of teaching a deaf child speech and language. At that time the two main categories were oral and manual. The oral method concentrated on speech and lip reading, while the manual method concentrated mainly on the use of sign language. I wanted Jim to learn to speak, but I also understood that concentrating on speech alone would mean a lengthy period of frustration for both of us.

Sign for the letter W

Fortunately we lived in a city that had an excellent school for handicapped children. Their program for the deaf was based on an immersion in what they called Total Communication. They used sign language, auditory training, lip reading, speech, writing, reading… in short, anything that helped a child to communicate. They taught sign language using S.E.E. (Signing Exact English) instead of ASL (American Sign Language). A great many of the S.E.E. signs were formed by using the beginning letter of the word and, unlike ASL, every word in a sentence was signed. Jim’s teachers believed that the sooner a child learned to communicate correctly and effectively, the better off they would be. They were right. Jim became an excellent communicator with both deaf and hearing individuals. He also became an avid reader at an early age and still loves to read. Reading has opened up the world to him.

I look at learning to read in a similar way. Whether a child is a visual learner or an auditory learner, they will benefit by using any and all methods of teaching reading. Statistics show that around 40% of Americans have reading problems severe enough to impede their enjoyment of reading. It is so important that we do everything we can to insure that our children become good readers.

After all, what is important is the end result… it's not how we get there...and it starts with reading to your child every day.

Note:  “Nonna and Me ABCs” products are designed to help you teach your child the alphabet. Our DVD, CD, and books are both educational and fun. You can view samples of our products on our website. Literacy begins with the ABCs!

Monday, October 3, 2011

It's Not Your Grandmother's Kindergarten

This post originally appeared on Early Childhood News and Resources
Submitted by Nonna and Me

Nonna shares:
When I went to a parochial school kindergarten in the early 1950’s, the only prerequisite was age. Kindergarten was a half-day session filled with coloring, singing, snacking, napping, making stuff out of clay, finger plays, and lots of playtime in general. In the 50’s, kindergarten’s emphasis was socialization and following directions, not academics.
Preschool-productsFollowing directions… I don’t think that was one of my strong points, because one of my most vivid memories of kindergarten was the time I colored the hearts on my mother’s Valentine’s Day card orange. My teacher, Mrs. Hannon, made such a fuss about hearts being red, not orange, that I cried when I gave it to my mother (those were the days when no one cared about making children feel bad about themselves!).

When I became a teacher in the early 1970’s, kindergarten was still pretty much about socialization and following directions. The kindergarten teacher in my school was a wonderful, fun-loving woman with a child-like personality. Her classroom seemed to be a little more academically structured than the one I remembered from the 50’s, but gauging from what my first graders knew, academics was not anywhere near a priority. I remember the first day of school, when I told my first grade class to line up single file in the back of the room. Not only did most of the children not know where the “back” of the room was, I threw in the words “single file”. Tears, tears everywhere… How was I to know that “single file” (a commonly used requirement for lining up in a parochial school) would be a foreign concept to these little public school children (Oh no! I had become Mrs. Hannon!).

Mémé shares: 
In the years that I taught preschool, which was before there was Sesame Street, our mornings were spent in play.  We told parents that “play” was their child’s “work” and through play they would learn shapes, colors, large and fine motor skills.  Ha! That is what babies are doing now in their cribs.

Nonna shares: 
Let’s jump ahead to the new millennium… As kindergarten becomes more and more academic, children are required to do more and know more. In addition, many kindergartens are moving from a half-day to a full-day schedule. The requirements and expectations for kindergarteners go far past the month they turn 5. They are expected to enter kindergarten knowing the basics and be relatively adjusted to a classroom situation.

I’ve been on numerous websites finding lists of what incoming kindergarten students should be able to do in the 2000’s. Here are some examples. (OK, I’m in trouble. My husband says that there are several of these that I still can’t do. Please don’t tell Mrs. Hannon!)

•    Listen to stories without interrupting
•    Recognize rhyming sounds
•    Pay attention for short periods of time to adult-directed tasks
•    Understand actions have both causes and effects
•    Show understanding of general times of day
•    Cut with scissors
•    Trace basic shapes
•    Begin to share with others
•    Start to follow rules
•    Be able to recognize authority
•    Manage bathroom needs
•    Button shirts, pants, coats, and zip up zippers
•    Begin to control oneself
•    Separate from parents without being upset
•    Speak understandably
•    Talk in complete sentences of five to six words
•    Look at pictures and then tell stories
•    Identify rhyming words
•    Identify the beginning sound of some words
•    Identify some alphabet letters
•    Recognize some common sight words like "stop"
•    Sort similar objects by color, size, and shape
•    Recognize groups of one, two, three, four, and five objects
•    Count to ten
•    Bounce a ball

Source: Family Education

The bottom line here, as I see it, is that early childhood education will make a huge difference in a child’s success in school. And while some parents feel they can prepare their children for kindergarten at home, what they can’t provide is the classroom experience. Don’t get me wrong, I think that the parents’ role in preparing their children for school is vital.  I created Nonna and Me products to help them do just that.  But we can’t underplay the importance of a formal preschool setting. I believe that a child will benefit greatly from a combination of both. I’ve seen that combination do wonders for my own grandchildren.

That being said, I think it’s important to also address homeschooling. I applaud those parents who are educating their children at home. It takes a dedicated, structured person to take on this responsibility. I do believe that if a parent is diligent, knowledgeable, and focused on what a preschool child needs to accomplish academically, and can combine this with regular social activities such as play groups and activities at church or in the community, it can produce the same results.

Mémé shares: 
Like many of us Baby Boomers who thought retirement was on the horizon - only to realize our ship was sinking and we wouldn’t make it to the horizon - I am still teaching and grateful to be doing so.  That puts me in a position to observe on a daily basis what the expectations are for this next generation (yet to be named).  Nonna is spot-on when she says that what happens in kindergarten doesn’t stay in kindergarten and never started there in the first place. If a child is not in pre-school (or being taught effectively at home) by age 3, that child will be far behind his peers in the learning process, which is now curriculum based rather than socialization oriented.

This is definitely not your grandmother’s kindergarten!

{PLEASE NOTE: If you are seeking a nature-based or play-based Preschool for your child, search Online! Many states do offer Preschool options that focus on play-learning rather than academics. Montessori schools are also another great option for those who can afford it.}


About  Nonna and Mémé

Sandi Zobrest, B.A., M.Ed. (Nonna) is the founder and creator of Nonna and Me educational preschool DVDs, CDs, and books.  Nonna and Me was originally created for Sandi's first grandchild. This bright and happy little girl was born prematurely and was experiencing some developmental delays in language. The “Nonna and Me ABCs” DVD and books helped her in the development of language skills. Sandi received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Mercyhust College in Erie, PA and her Masters Degree in Elementary Education from Edinboro University in Edinboro, PA. Sandi is a retired teacher currently living in Arizona with her husband, two children, and three grandchildren.
Mémé and Nonna
“Nonna and Me is truly a family affair, dedicated to assisting parents by providing them with quality educational materials. I am confident that you will find Nonna and Me products to be a great tool for the 21st century preschooler.” 

Mary C. Prus, B.A., MATL. (Mémé) taught and administered Early Childhood Developmental Programs in Erie, PA. for 20 years, including the Maura Smith Child Learning Center on the campus of Mercyhurst College, where she had received her Bachelor’s Degree (many years earlier). Which only proves - what goes around, comes around!  Currently she is teaching sixth grade Middle School in Memphis, TN. She is a long distance grandmother to three grandchildren.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Mèmè Shares

Mary C. Prus (Mèmè)
I would like to suggest that babies are perfectly happy focusing on the smiling faces, goofy grins and silly sounds of their grandparents.  Yes, I admit, having a grandchild can reduce the most intelligent, educated, successful, career man or woman into a blithering idiot. And that is where the fun begins.  Nonna has come up with easy to do projects that can entertain, stimulate and foster development as children grow beyond goo-goo and zerbert kisses. Here's one from me.

Since my first grandchild, Katie Alan, was born in 2000 B.S. (Before Skype) and was 900 miles away, I stayed connected between visits anyway I could. I purchased a small, soft-cover picture album and added photos of Mommy and Daddy, Papa and Mèmè, G.G. (great-grandma), the pets and so on. We would send pictures by e-mail to keep it current. On many nights, while my daughter was reading a bedtime story and rocking the baby to sleep, she would call so I could participate by speaker phone.  We kept copies of favorite books here and I would read while mommy turned the pages.  Now, the grand-daughter sends a text asking if I can Skype.  Ah – technology!

Mary C. Prus, B.A., MATL. taught and administered Early Childhood Developmental Programs in Erie, PA. for 20 years, including the Maura Smith Child Learning Center on the campus of Mercyhurst College, where she had received her Bachelor’s Degree (many years earlier). Which only proves - what goes around, comes around!  Currently she is teaching sixth grade Middle School in Memphis, TN. She is a long distance grandmother to three grandchildren.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sign Language ABCs

You and your child can learn to sign the alphabet with Nonna and Me. Here's a clip from the "Nonna and Me ABCs" DVD that will teach you how to form the letters.