Monthly Archives: October 2012

Cherishing Chores

We have a new chore chart up on the wall.  Until recently, my kids were still struggling with the basic tasks of personal maintenance — getting dressed, brushing teeth, fetching their own bowls and spoons, pouring milk and tucking their … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

8 Responses to Cherishing Chores

  1. Heather – I love the photograph, it’s exceptional! And I agree with your thoughts on chores. It uplifts one’s self-esteem to know they’re making a positive contribution.

    When I was growing up my sister and I washed and dried dishes, feather dusted, and we learned to sort laundry by whites, darks, brights. As we got older, mom added vacuuming, Windexing windows, and ironing our own clothes. As a family with dogs, we also had the grand chore of “poop patrol.”

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks! The picture came from a camping trip – lots of camp chores there, too. Thanks for sharing your childhood chores – including poop patrol!

  2. I had the “usual chores”–at least we thought they were usual because it seemed like every kid in the neighborhood had them. Washing and drying dishes, making one’s bed, cleaning one’s room, mowing and shoveling, picking dandelions (One cent per flower! lol Didn’t matter if we got much of the root, though.)

    I don’t have kids but I think kids should start doing basic chores as soon as they are able to do so. Even a two year old can be told to put toys from the floor into the toy chest. Best of all, I think youngsters often take great pride in helping Mom and Dad. It shows the world that they are “grown up” and gives them self-confidence. The same reason most of us work as adults: we feel important and valued.

  3. Vicki says:

    My 21 month old son doesn’t have chores, but he loves helping around the house! He puts his toys away, puts dishes away, puts his dirty clothes in the hamper, etc. I only use a stroller when he wants to go for a stroll, otherwise he walks or rides in the sling. He loves helping and carrying his own things. I hope I can help him maintain his interest in participating in our family in this way.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Sounds as if you’ve got a great helper! Lots of toddlers like to “help” (helpful or not) and it’s great that you’re encouraging his independence. Things do change as kids grow older, but if you keep giving him ways to exercise independence and feel part of the family at the same time, your little helper may continue to be a cheerful helper as he grows. Enjoy! And thanks for stopping by.

  4. Bianca says:

    Left comments over at the post on What To Expect! Thanks for srhniag! Got to show my kids I am not the only Mom who expects her kids to get off the couch and contribute to the household!! We pretty much run our houses the same way it sounds like. Just recently my kids started being responsible for doing their own laundry. I highly recommend it! They need to know how to do it and it took a huge load of me!! I had to set a few rules. The main one being no starting a load after 8 pm and no leaving your clothes in the dryer for me to deal with while you are gone at school etc…

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Bianca, and thanks for sharing, too. Laundry is a great one for kids. Pretty easy and a big time saver for parents. Your point is good – we teach them first, then the methods can be refined, but the main point is to get them doing it. Way to go.

Sharing Sad Stories

When I was five, my aunt sent me letter I’ll never forget.  It was a loving letter, but a sad story.  It began like this: Now I’m going to tell you the story of little Penelope Boothby.  I met her … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules, Joyful Literacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

7 Responses to Sharing Sad Stories

  1. Heather – Another post that offers delicious food for thought. So much so that I just Tweeted and Google+’d it.

    You asked about sad stories from childhood…

    We were a family that adopted “unadoptable” animals from shelters because they were either missing a limb, an eye, completely blind, or had significant health issues. During the adoption process we usually learned the story behind what had happened.

    What kind of an impact did that have on me? I believe those experiences are in great part what makes me compassionate and helps me to love “in spite of” rather than “because of.”

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks for sharing your wonderful story about caring for “unadopatable” animals. Wow! I can see that made a lifelong impression. Yes, important for us humans to expand our view and think about animals’ stories, too.

  2. Karen Gough says:

    We lost our first baby boy to leukemia so our son and daughter are growing up knowing about their angel brother, the fragility of life, the reality of death and the knowledge that love and family are so important. But at the same time we don’t dwell on his death and we remember his living spirit that is part of the family. I tell my children real life stories that are sad and they have read some themselves. But I think it is very important to balance these stories with ones filled with hope and joy, silliness and happiness. You don’t want to weigh a child down with “survivor’s guilt,” or give them a depressed view of reality. Everything in moderation! 🙂

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      My heart goes out to you on the loss of your son. It sounds as if you have struck a marvelous balance in incorporating your first child’s life story into your family life. I agree – moderation and the courage to share all feelings together is so important – sad, silly, and every feeling in between. Bravo! Your children are growing up in a very loving and accepting environment.

  3. Well said, Heather. I think we’ve created a society that has a strange combination of protecting children from reality on one hand, and allowing them to be desensitized to death and violence through virtual entertainment on the other. I think we disrespect our children when we act like they can’t handle the hard parts of life. Of course, as a Christian I also believe that there is life on the other side of death, and that the sad ending doesn’t have to be the last word, so I think that part of the story needs to be told as well. Thanks for your insights! – JP

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Interesting insight, Jim. Yes, it is an odd combination when we overprotect, yet at the same time show so much violent entertainment. You’re right, it is a basic level of respect. Talking about death also gives us a chance to share our personal thoughts and beliefs about death with children. It opens the conversation. Thanks for your comment!

First Rejections

My very first rejection letter came in 3rd grade.  I’d been writing endless stories by then, and thought I was pretty good.My teacher loved my stories and encouraged me to apply; my parents loved them. I was sure I would … Continue reading

Posted in Agents and publishing, Parenting with Renegade Rules, Joyful Literacy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

6 Responses to First Rejections

  1. I’ll keep trying to get published until I run out of story ideas.

    I think kids today are much to shielded from rejection. One of the most important things about growing up is finding out what you are bad at, as well as what you’re good at. If everyone is told they excel at everything they try, they’ll be too overwhelmed with false choices to make an intelligent career or life choice. That’s why competition is vital to a strong, successful society.

    We want the best athletes to populate our teams, the best teachers to teach our children, the smartest people to figure out the mysteries of nature, the best writers to capture the thoughts and deeds of successful people and to stir our imaginations for what is possible or dreamable, the strongest mentally to do the toughest jobs, the best nurterers to take care of the young, the old, the sick and the weak.

    The only way to do that is gently but firmly sort out everyone’s abilities with competition, grades, achievement tests, art and music lessons, youth sports, etc., where everyone can try activities in a non-critical setting and discover for themselves what they love, like, hate, excel at, or just plain stink at doing.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Chris, yes, life choices can be overwhelming, and we learn to pick a life path both from good and bad experiences. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Heather – I think of every single “no” as getting me that much closer to my “Yes!”

    I especially resonated with your observation: “Sometimes it’s an answer that propels us forward in new ways.”

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Yeah! Some people call it ‘failing upward.’ We keep on learning and moving forward. Keep going!

  3. Zane says:

    I think we do shield kids from rejection. Actually, I’m pretty sure I have shielded my own two girls—with good intentions—from rejection at times. I like your point about growing and taking risks. This post is helpful for me on two levels: in thinking about parenting my children and in thinking about putting my work out there.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Letting our kids take risks may be one of the hardest parts of parenting. Somehow it’s easier to take risks ourselves than to allow someone else to risk something and possibly get hurt. Glad you found it thought-provoking! And good luck – every time you put your work out there you can learn something.

Little Dictators

My very first memory of writing was of dictating thank you notes.  I talked, and my mother wrote down my exact words.  Writing – even holding a pencil – was an excruciating process when I was young. Dictation didn’t end … Continue reading

Posted in Joyful Literacy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

10 Responses to Little Dictators

  1. Timi says:

    I use dictation often with my daughter. She is a ferocious story teller and, at four, has written no fewer than six books including one about hangnails, a book about her grandfather and is currently working on one about librarians that she has titled “Superbrarians.” Last year, she wrote a book about each of her three teachers at SYC. They were treasured for sure!

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      What a prolific young storyteller! Hooray! I can imagine that all the librarians out there might like to take on a superhero persona and start calling themselves “Superbrarians!” So glad dictation is alive and well in your family.

  2. “That’s fundamentally the most important part of writing: expression. That’s joyful literacy.”

    This is vital, key, pivotal. Expression is the core — the very heart — of writing.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      And so many writing conferences focus on “voice.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we never lost our writing voice, just developed it from youth on?

  3. Angie Lathrop says:

    My oldest son has autism and it is essentially impossible for him to write with a pen or pencil. Although he can type, it seems that the concentration needed to do so prevents him from keeping what he wants to say in his mind long enough to get it down. So, in school and at home he has someone to scribe for him, which uncouples the physical aspects of writing from the mental efforts. And thank goodness we’ve done so, because he is very creative and has a rich inner life, and having a scribe allows him to capture those thoughts. Soon we’ll try some speech-to-text technology, which he will have the option to use if he’d rather not have an adult involved in his creative process.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      I love the word “scribe.” What a terrific way to describe dictation! Because as you well know, it’s not the act of writing itself, it’s expressing the thoughts that are inside. Kudos to you in helping your son write without writing.

  4. I’d better get my novels published ASAP because there’ll be a huge wave of new young writers flooding the market in about 10 years who were raised by Heather’s Renegade Rules and started “writing” at age two! 😉

    The dictating anger idea is one of my faves in the book. Anything to promote literacy and self-expression.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks, Chris! Get ready for the next wave of readers (keep going on that novel). Glad you like the anger dictation part – that’s one of my favorite parts, too.

  5. patricia says:

    Heather, thank you so much for linking to my article! I am a huge fan of dictation. In fact, I wrote a whole series of blog posts about it here: http://patriciazaballos.com/the-dictation-project/

    It baffles me, too, that dictation is so underused when it comes to helping kids learn to write. It has such power to help them value the written word from a young age, and to develop their voices as writers. I could go on and on…

    I love that you still have the work you dictated as a child. And your technique of having kids dictate when they’re angry? That’s a new idea for me–but it sounds intriguing! I imagine it might have helped my oldest through his tantrums. (He’s 20 now.)

    Nice to meet you!

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Nice to meet you, too, Patricia! Love your article and approach to writing. Zest and joy first! Readers, please look into Patricia’s blog if you’re interested at all in the process of learning to write. Fantastic stuff.

      Glad you’re past the tantrum stage with your family, Patricia. Dictating notes about emotions is my favorite, but my book goes into waiting lists, kid based-rules, contracts and all sorts of ways to create truly meaningful literacy for very young (mostly non-reading) kids.

      Thanks so much for stopping by Starlighting Mama! We talk a lot about writing, literacy and renegade parenting here. Thanks for sharing your insights so eloquently.