I’m happy to announce Homeschooling1!

Comp-1I’m excited to announce the launch of Homeschooling1, a website for secular homeschooling families that are educating one child at home. There aren’t enough resources out there for only child homeschooling families, especially secular homeschoolers so I decided it was time to make a website just for families of singletons. Maybe you have multiple children but are homeschooling only one of your children, regardless this site is for anyone who is looking for homeschooling resources, advice and information.

There will be loads of information about getting started homeschooling, resources regarding homeschooling laws, freebie printables and even a forum so everyone can come together and support each other and share advice, celebrations and concerns.

I’m launching the site on September 1st, 2016 and wanted to give everyone an opportunity to sign up to Homeschooling1’s newsletter for some fun giveaways and updates. I may even toss in a couple of my children’s books as a freebie giveaway in the future ūüôā After subscribing you’ll be sent a free printable planner for the 2016-2017 school year!

Please share this post with anyone who you feel would be interested in this new site!

Don’t worry about my children’s books. I’m currently putting the finishing touches on my next release about two feathered friends who spend a fun filled day together at the fair! Here’s a little sneak peek into the world of Ducky and Quackers!

ducky and quackers promo - Copy

Meet Ducky and Quackers! Coming soon from Courtney M Jones!

Thanks so much for being part of this fun and exciting journey and I look forward to connecting with everybody!

Please visit homeschooling1.com to sign up and join this homeschooling community!

Raising Caring and Compassionate Children

black-baby-girl-clip-art-gtipgelo (1)¬†¬† I’m a fairly new mom. My daughter is 2 1/2 years old so I’ve only had 2 1/2 years of experience of raising a child. I love being a parent more than anything.

All parents have concerns. Lately my daughter has been a complete “terrible twos toddler” and she has been in¬†the hitting, throwing and tantrum phase for a little while now. When the transition from that sweet, clumsy and giggly baby morphed into¬†a screaming, throwing, hitting mommy and daddy terror¬†began I did panic a bit. I have read more parenting books than I can count since pregnancy so I felt that I was going to be prepared for this phase.

Mentally, I was prepared. I knew what to do, how to¬†prevent¬†the situations that caused a meltdown, how to keep cool and calm so the situation wouldn’t escalate further, all of that.

Honestly I’m more hurt than angry when she has an outburst. I truly feel for my daughter when I deny her that toy at the store, when she tries to escape from her car seat and I firmly tell her to stop, when she doesn’t want to go to bed or take a bath. I feel for her because if I were¬†her and¬†60% of everything I did was always being corrected or redirected I’d feel like I wasn’t my own person. That would truly drive me up the wall!

I’m pretty sure she’s beginning to understand why her daddy and I are correcting her all the time. It’s because she needs boundaries, she needs rules and she needs to be able to trust her parents to make the big decisions that will enable her to be self sufficient and decisive when she grows up. She needs guidance in this incredibly confusing and overwhelming phase of toddlerhood.

Empathy is the ability to understand other people‚Äôs feelings and respond with kindness. Raising an empathetic child requires intentional efforts to teach the desired behavior. Sometimes this can be quite a challenge. You’re trying to keep your cool and your child is screaming at you, throwing toys on the floor or flinging themselves on the floor while crying and looking at you like you’re the meanest parent ever. For me personally, to kneel down to my daughters level, look her calmly in the eye and cupping her cheek in my hand gently while saying in a soft voice “We don’t hit. Hitting hurts,” or “I know you’re upset because daddy took your bear away, but we do not throw Blue Beary,” it can be quite difficult.

It’s hard to remain cool and calm but it needs to happen and that’s what I tell myself when I want to run to MY room and throw pillows on the floor when she’s pushing my buttons. Children need to be told why they are being corrected and what the proper response should be when they’re feeling an intense emotion that they can’t quite get a handle on just yet. I know I’m doing something right because just the other day my daughter was getting frustrated with a puzzle and normally she would stand up and kick and throw the puzzle pieces everywhere if she couldn’t figure it out on her own. But as I was sitting there watching her become frustrated, something happened. She¬†looked over at me and looked at her puzzle. She did this a couple times and then she got up off the floor and ran over to me “Mama mama, help.” She took my hand and pulled me over to the puzzle that was on the floor, sat down next to me and handed me a piece and pointed at the puzzle: “Mama, Mama.”

So we spent the next half hour assembling and dissembling the puzzle. She sat there next to me and from time to time rested her head on my shoulder and patted my arm. It was the most incredible feeling. For the first time my daughter was able to control her emotions and calmly think of a solution.

What does his have to do with empathy you’re probably wondering. Well, I’ve noticed lately, especially in the city I live in that a lot of parents don’t take that extra minute to talk things through with their child. I tend to hear a lot of rushed moms who use threats of no dessert or TV or a smack¬†if they don’t stop “whining” or “put that back.” These are things I hear at the grocery store all the time. I’ll take a moment to watch how the moms interact with their children and the problem is blatantly obvious. Those moms aren’t treating their children with respect. They aren’t empathic to their children’s needs because their priorities overpower a teachable moment that would make this a¬†much more enjoyable experience¬†for everyone.

What is happening? I look at those children and this may sound corny but it’s hard not to get teary eyed. You can see it in their faces, they’re just dying to learn, to explore, to be guided by their mom. Instead they’re dragged around, being yelled at and toys and dessert are threatened, just because they’re kids being kids.

I have never had that problem with my daughter at the store. There are times when I get funny looks from parents because when I’m in the produce aisle my daughter will point and cry out “APPLES!” I’ll push the cart over, grab a produce bag and align the basket right next to the apples. “Let’s get four apples today.” I’ll hold the bag out and one by one, my daughter will reach over and pick up an apple and as she drops them in the bag she’ll count the apples out loud as she lets them go “Oooone, Tooooo, Treeeee.” I get a kick out of that every time. Since she was in a car seat at the store I was doing that. I’d explain what I was doing and count everything out while describing colors and shapes and I guess it’s just a special routine we’re always going to have while she’s young. Those moments are so special to me, and I’m sure they are for my little girl as well.

Raising an empathic child is one of the most important attributes that you can teach as a parent. Without that skill, children will grow to be uncaring of others feelings, selfish, pushy, bossy and possibly a bully who demeans and hurts others. The ability to put yourself in someone’s shoes and to see things from their perspective is something that I could not live without. Empathy has helped me to treat my daughter with love, compassion and respect. While other parents out there scream and drag their children around because they have their own agenda, I include my daughter in my agenda. She isn’t an inconvenience, she’s my daughter and she’s learning. She’s soaking up everything I do, everything I say, the way I respond to every situation she witnesses. “If mommy screams and yells and hits, than it’s okay for me to do the same, but when I do the same I get screamed at and yelled at.” Think about that one for a minute. Wouldn’t that confuse you to pieces if you were a child?”

Taking the extra minute or two to comfort your child when she’s afraid or angry, to explain why hitting and throwing is wrong, to tell them what is expected of them before embarking on the errands, to squeeze in that extra hug and kiss everyday, to focus on what they’re doing right and to make them feel good about it instead of only paying attention to them when they make a mistake or misbehave. Those are the building blocks for an empathic child. I will admit, some children¬†will be way more difficult than others but remember, they’re just children. Children who need compassion, guidance, redirection at times¬†and most importantly, unconditional love.

Encourage your child to talk about their feelings and ask questions that encourage them to think about their feelings and the feelings of others. Model empathy in every way you can and with every opportunity you have.

Books are an excellent tool for teaching empathy to your child. Point out facial expressions and have your child label those feelings. Talk about emotions that are displayed with frowns, smiles, tears. It’s a very useful tool that has worked wonders for me. In fact, my latest book Fred The Frog Finds A Friend is all about empathy and my daughter and I read my book everyday. The beetle is her favorite character and she’ll point to his face because he smiles and frowns in the book and she’ll say “Maaaad, Apppy!” It’s the coolest feeling realizing that¬†a book I wrote is teaching my daughter one of the most valuable lessons she’ll ever learn.¬†Its my¬†hope that other parents will want to share my book with their children as well.

If you¬†and your children had¬†teachable moment that you would like to share I’d love to hear it and I’m sure that other parents would love to hear about it as well!

Learn The Alphabet With Me

Learn The Alphabet With Me

The first step in reading is learning the alphabet!
I’m super happy and excited to announce that Learn the Alphabet With Me is now available! This is my latest book and it’s full of bright illustrations and silly tongue twisters. Learning the alphabet has never been so much fun ūüôā

Reading to Your Child, The Earlier the Better

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¬†¬† The main motivation behind becoming a children’s book author was the dream of instilling an early love of reading in all children. I want my books to reach them in a way no toy or video game can. I want their imaginations to dance and to fall in love with the silly characters I created in my books. But sadly, not every child will have the opportunity to take that journey.
¬† ¬† There have been articles and reports published about the declining rate of parents reading to their children on a daily basis. This is very alarming to me because I know personally that reading plays a key role in the I.Q and mental development of children. I have read to my daughter daily, even before she was born and she is a bright little girl who learns quickly and demonstrates a higher I.Q than what she should for her age. We’re still working on potty training though, so it’s not all perfect!
   *Studies show that there is an important role for parents in the development and educational performance of their children. Parental reading to children increases the child’s reading and other cognitive skills at least up to the age of 10. This is an early life intervention that seems to be beneficial for the rest of their lives.
    Key Findings
-The frequency of reading to children at a young age has a direct causal effect on their schooling outcomes regardless of their family background and home environment.
-Reading to children at age 4-5 every day has a significant positive effect on their reading skills and cognitive skills (i.e., language and literacy, numeracy and cognition) later in life.
-Reading to children 3-5 days per week (compared to 2 or less) has the same effect on the child’s reading skills at age 4-5 as being six months older
-Reading to them 6-7 days per week has the same effect as being almost 12 months older
-Children read to more frequently at age 4-5 achieve higher scores on the National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests for both Reading and Numeracy in Year 3 (age 8 to 9).
-These differences in reading and cognitive skills are not related to the child’s family background or home environment but are the direct result of how frequently they have been read to prior to starting school. *
¬† ¬† Including this one, there are numerous studies and statistics out there that have proven the importance of early reading. Children don’t only show a higher IQ from being read to early, they are more engaged with books, display an early love of learning and have a higher rate of concentration at school.
¬†¬†¬† With all of the research so readily available out there, I ask myself “Why is the number of parents reading to their children dropping so rapidly?” It only takes a few minutes and your child will thank you for it, maybe not directly but you will see it in the future, when they bring home higher test scores, or when they would rather pick up a book than play video games.¬† It’s also an excellent way of reconnecting with your child after a long day at work or school. There is no excuse why you can’t spare a few minutes.
    There is a lot of controversy surrounding the topic of electronic learning devices. I agree that Leap pads and similar devices do have their advantages, but my opinion is that they should be a supplement, a form of entertainment to children, not their only source of exposure to education and literature.
 For all the parents who already read to their children everyday, a million thanks and keep on reading! Spread the word to everyone about the joy of reading to your children and hopefully that word will spread!
¬†¬†¬† As a favor to yourself and to your children, make the time. Stop by your local library and attend a toddler reading session, talk to your children about their favorite books and make up fun activities that revolve around the characters or simply curl up in a comfy chair together and take a journey into the fun and imaginative world of children’s literature. You won’t regret it. There are endless ways to make reading fun and my hope is that after reading this, you’ll run to the bookshelf and introduce your children to the fun and fantastic world of reading!
   (For added fun, stop by the Kids Corner page on my website: courtneymjones.com and download free printable coloring and activity sheets that feature the characters from my In A Room You Will Find series).

     Happy Reading and Learning!

*Department of Education and Early Childhood Development