Parenting Never Gets Easier!


This parenting thing just doesn't get any easier.

As you know, we have three sons. T is 10 years old and in the 5th grade. Caleb is 5 years old and just started Kindergarten this year. Andon is home with me (running me ragged) and is 2 years old.

The thing I have learned with our boys is that they each need a different type of parenting.

T has so much initiative and drive. He is getting to that age where he is really testing waters with how he speaks to us. There are some things I won't tolerate and that's a mouthy/back talking child! He's not overboard, but he's just trying to see what he can get away with.

I have NEVER had to be on T for doing school work. He has always just kind of done it. And, even when we agonized over whether to send him to Kindergarten as a *young* 5, we still went ahead with it. It wasn't until last year (4th grade) that we were OK with that decision. Up until then, he was trying harder than most kids to be an average (or sometimes above average with A's :) student. I am so proud of how he does in school. He certainly has areas to work on, but at least he recognizes that himself and tries harder to improve.

Andon, well, what can I say, Andon is our monster child! He has the terrible 2's on STEROIDS! He has similar behaviors as T, but Andon is more hard headed! Talk about strong willed! I think even James Dobson would get a run for his money!

The kid undresses himself to spite me. He runs away from me at the drop of a dime. Seriously, we'll go outside and “SWOOSH” he's gone! We have to parent him very differently than the other two boys because they were not at ALL like this! I think they had some strong willed behavior, but not until they were at least 3 years old. I'm just praying that his monster-ness dies down at 3 (seriously, pray for that :).

Caleb, he is SO different! His personality is just plain different. He is laid back, likes being a clown and just overall *meh* when it comes to doing anything related to sports or school work. Now, he did play soccer a few seasons and he was more into looking at US to make sure we were watching him rather than watching the ball and competing. We just figured he wouldn't be like T, and we don't want him to be like him. We want Caleb to be himself.

He was in pre-school for two years. I sent him to a pre-school because I knew he needed socialization and we wanted to prepare him as much as possible for Kindergarten. I guess we wanted to give him a head start so he wouldn't have to work as hard as T to *make the grade.* But, Kindergarten has been tough on him.

It all started out fun as he got to ride the bus. But, then he was crying before he got on the bus every morning. That has since stopped thank goodness. He has struggled with number/letter recognition. It's not all his fault, I haven't worked with him like I should. Even though we sent him to pre-school, he didn't learn that much. I should have worked with him more and I should have talked to his teachers but I/we didn't.

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda…

Last week we were told Caleb is going to be in a Reading Intervention class. It will be to ensure he stays up with his classmates. I am glad that our school has a program like this, but still feel like a failure as a parent. I mean, I remember as a child I was in a similar class and I turned out fine, but I wonder if my parents felt the way I do.

Anyhoo, I gave you all that to ask you this. What types of materials have you used to encourage reading and help with letter/sight word recognition for your young child (since he is in Kindergarten)? We are doing what the teacher has suggested by reading small book sight words, but what have you found to be effective? Have you had this struggle with your kids?

From one parent to another…

Photo Credit

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on October 12, 2009


  • Trisha - October 12, 2009 @ 1:45 pm

    There are so very many issues I have with todays kindergarten. So very, very many. But it is what it is, and I could go off on a huge rant about how we were just learning our letters in kindergarten and some how managed to go off and get college degrees but I won’t. Instead I will pass on what I did for my own 5 year old boy when I was told in Pre-K that he wasn’t academically up to par. FYI–had other professionals tell me he was just fine. But I digress. Again.

    Make him a set of sandpaper letters. It’s a very physical way to learn the letters and learn how to write them. Very boy friendly. Mine did not look this pretty but who cares?

    Buy him a cheap wooden clip board, a set of Twistables from Crayon(writes like a pencil but with color), some stickers, and plenty of clean white paper. Let him decorate the clip board and draw, write you letters(spelling optional:)), whatever he wants. Leave this somewhere he can get to it anytime he wants.

    A large dry erase board has made all the difference in the world. We have it hung at kid level and B will spend at least 30 minutes a day drawing.

    For boys drawing is a great way for them to gain the confidence he needs to write letters.

    While I’m reading ABC books, I trace each letter with my finger. Never ask the boys to do it b/c the resist. But they are sitting in my lap absorbing it.

    The leapster–as much as I am anti-video game, this might really get his engines going. It’s a hand held video game and ALL of the games are educational.

    Make letters out of playdough, pancakes, crayons for the bathtub, teach him the ABC’s in sign language with a flash card of the letter to signal which sign to make, etc. Let is creep into his life without hitting him over the head with it and before he knows it those letters will be floating around in his brain ready to come out and shine.

    Have you read any of the literature on how boys learn differently? It helped us so much.

    • mommysnacks - October 12, 2009 @ 1:50 pm

      Trisha, thanks so much! I have read a few things on how boys learn differently, but I guess I need to go re-read it since we never really needed the tools as much with our older one. I am going to do these tips! I think they are awesome ideas! He does have a gameboy, but he’s not even interested in that.

      And, I’m with you – all these things that they must know in Kindergarten are so much different when I was there 25 years ago! We turned out fine, I’m sure he will too :)

  • Susan - October 12, 2009 @ 1:51 pm

    My daughter is 5 and in kindergarten. She’s on the younger end with a late July birthday. She has shown no signs of wanting to read. She wants us to read to her (which we have done nightly since she was a toddler), but she doesn’t want to do any sight reading or sounding out words.

    She is in a trilingual school program where she learns in English two days a week, French two and a half days a week and half a day of Spanish, so I wondered if that might have something to do with it. But then I learned many of her classmates are reading, so I can’t use that as an excuse. :(

    I discovered a website a few weeks ago – either on Twitter or through someone’s blog – called It’s a site for math learning, which my daughter seems to show more interest in than reading. But what I noticed since she did the 2 week free trial is that she will now try to read words to me. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, but I went ahead and subscribed for six months to continue and see what happens. The trial doesn’t require a credit card, so there is no obligation and I am not affiliated with Dreambox at all – just sharing something that in some strange way seems to be helping my daughter overcome some of the issues she’s been having with starting to read.

    I have contacted Dreambox to see if they know of any online games geared toward early reading that are similar to their program (they adjust the games according to how well the child does) and I’m waiting to find out. If anyone knows of any sites, I’d love to learn about them.

    • mommysnacks - October 12, 2009 @ 8:25 pm

      Susan, thanks for that suggestion! I can’t imagine trying to teach them three languages let alone the one I have. That is awesome! If you find more about that site regards to reading, please share :)

  • Kandi - October 12, 2009 @ 1:52 pm

    We are starting Audrey out a little early, but I took some paper, cut it into strips and labeled things with them (like book, chair, sofa, table, television, etc…) Now, when she sees the word in a book she recognizes it! Word of caution though…you might want to make them removable labels. Courtney tore through my first effort in about a minute (she and Andon might get along REALLY WELL!!! lol).

    Just an idea…

    • mommysnacks - October 12, 2009 @ 8:25 pm

      Kandi, that is an awesome idea! I have a label maker so maybe I’ll try with labels. And, I thought Courtney was precious – much better than my monster boy!!!

  • Juli Lonas - October 17, 2009 @ 1:28 am


    I am a homeschool mom and former teacher. There are some great suggestions above and I won’t elaborate much, but will add an additional suggestion. And, just for the record . . . NO, I don’t leave my kids in front a video all day and expect them to learn, but these two tools were wonderful. They “accidentally” learned so much before I taught them!

    I used these at the preschool age and my kids LOVED them, so I can’t say for sure that they’d keep your son’s interest, but it’s worth a try. (They are probably geared more toward letter sounds, but also hit on recognition.)

    They are both videos. . . Sesame Street’s “Do the Alphabet” and Leap Frog’s “Letter Factory.” (After a quick search, I only see them used on Amazon, but I’m sure they’re out there other places too.)

    At that age, if they’re not getting if from videos or the “traditional” pencil and paper way . . . try some fun things. What kid doesn’t like that? Do crazy things like have him jump off a chair and pick up the right flashcard when he lands. Paint with water on the driveway. See how long it takes him to find a letter and deliver it through an obstacle course you’ve made. Maybe you do the same letter mixed with others the whole time. Tape letters all over yourself, the walls, the toilet, his toys, whatever! Have him discover them — maybe all the same letter or a couple different ones. If he’s not enticed, have him tell you what they are and pile them up for a penny each at the end of the day. Save up for a trip to McDonald’s for an ice cream cone. Or . . . use those pennies to try to throw them at a letter written on a full sized sheet of paper on the ground. Have everybody dress in red on “R” day. Serve red juice, dye mashed potatoes red and drag out the red ketchup with R’s (or whatever letter you choose to be your theme) taped everywhere! Cut a paper plate into a letter shape for him to eat on. Basically, be creative and do whatever comes to mind. The sillier the better. Some ideas will flop, but most will still be a blast in some way.

    Okay . . . I said I wasn’t going to comment more than the video suggestions. Guess that didn’t happen! :) I will stop now since I could go on and on. However, my ideas might keep going downhill and you would get eyestrain! :) You know your child and what would be fun.

    I wish you success and joy in your quest to teach your son!

    Juli Lonas

    P.S. I recently found your blog and check in on great deals every now and then. Thanks for sharing them!

  • Annie - October 20, 2009 @ 8:58 pm

    A great website that I’ve used for my son who’s in K is . His teacher uses it in the classroom as well… It works with letter/sound recognition, and can read the text to them (one word at a time), or they can read. This is one of my faves. I think my son is a combination of 2 of yours – T’s drive and interest with Andon’s ability to destroy. My daughter – a perfect match for Caleb… Good luck with this!

  • Marianne - October 24, 2009 @ 2:09 pm

    I have to say that kindergarten is a very different thing than it was when we were kids. I know k teachers that have taught for 25 years and they tell me that the curriculum they teach now would have been 1st grade curriculum when they started.

    I think early intervention programs are great as long as they never lose sight of the fact that hey – we’re all different, with different God-given talents. And we’re not all supposed to run this race at the same pace, so to speak. Sometimes I think (have experienced some issues w/my oldest son) that schools/educators/psychologists reach for the panic button too quickly when a five year old within their definintion of “normal”.

    Letter recognition ideas: do you have lots of refrigerator magnets of letters? Those are huge for us when my kids are young. There are several good toys built around the refrigerator magnet idea as well. If your front door is steel, the magnets should stick there, too. You can try spelling out simple messages for him to find, like, “Mom loves Caleb,” starting with words he knows by sight. Encourage him to make his own words, too. is a great site – my school uses it as well.

    I’m sure it will work out and don’t let that sense of “failing” somehow stick with you. You haven’t and he certainly hasn’t either. ;-)

  • Deb~ Frugal Living And Having Fun - November 18, 2009 @ 11:32 pm

    Hi, It’s Deb over at Frugal Living And Having Fun.
    I really enjoy your blog…you do a great job, and I love reading it.

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    Once again, thank you for all you do every day at Mommy Snacks.

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  • Cris - December 23, 2009 @ 12:49 pm

    Try Handwriting without Tears – several great methods – don’t buy their stuff, use there Wet – Dry – Try method and other great philosophies to have fun and motivate for good writing (and reading) skills.

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