Monthly Archives: June 2013


There’s something about Leo Lionni’s beloved children’s book, Frederick, that has always bothered me.  Frederick is the classic story of a mouse who is a dreamer and a poet.  A mouse who is different from all the rest of the field mice.  He’s … Continue reading

Posted in Books for Kids | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2 Responses to Frederick

  1. Timi Singley says:

    Great reflection! I feel similarly about The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein in relation to resource use. A tree gets used by a single human until it is nothing but a stump, never offering readers the opportunity to see what the young boy who keeps taking and taking is giving back. It teaches martyrdom and unhealthy realtions with nature and with people we love. It irks me to no end. I use it in my trainings while reflecting on how we teach young people about resource use through literature.

    One book about appreciating self is STAND TALL MOLLY LOU MELON by Patty Lovell. I also really like I LIKE MYSELF by Karen Beautmont.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      I know what you mean about The Giving Tree. I was always bothered by it as a child, and read it over and over trying to “get” it. I think it’s all about how NOT to give, and how relationships need to be two-ways.

      Thanks for writing and for sharing the two titles!

Like, Like

As parents, we’re all English teachers. Our kids learn the sound and rhythm of language from day one, and we enhance it – mostly unknowingly – every day since. I consider part of my motherly job description to be helping … Continue reading

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

7 Responses to Like, Like

  1. This is great! My grandmother was an elementary school teacher so I learned proper grammar from an early age. But we’ve been living overseas for the last five years in non-English speaking countries so it’s easy to get lazy when you’re only hearing broken English for so long. Also, our daughter is in an Indian preschool where the language is pretty much 19th-Century British Colonial English. We’re headed to the United States for a year so I’m hoping all our English improves then.

    I will have to watch the “likes”. I’m so conscious of it in writing but sloppier when speaking.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks for stopping by! Love your story of being surrounded by different types of English overseas. I’m sure your grandmother would be proud of your efforts to keep away from lazy speech. Best of luck on your return to the US. Should be interesting to find what differences you note (speech and otherwise) in your time away.

  2. I hate “like” only less than “you know” as lazy language. I have no ideas how to get rid of it. I think it’s a function of our fast pace lives. People don’t have time to think before they speak, so they stall for time by saying like and you know as placeholders.

    Perhaps the only way to banish lazy language is to encourage respect for words and the unique meaning each word brings to a sentence. But I don’t see that happening with any of the younger generations.

    I try not to say like and you know, but accept that I’m as guilty as most in misusing them, but always try to speak with some sort of eloquence.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      “You know” is another ubiquitous one. When people say a filler word too much they don’t even notice it. One way to get rid of those is to ask someone to say “beep” every time you accidentally say the word. Another good method is to join a Toastmasters speaking club – there you get lots of people helping you improve your speech.

      Keep striving for eloquence!

  3. Liz P. says:

    I had a high school English teacher who banished ‘got/get’ from all our essays and that has stuck with me for 20 years now. She was also strict about our use of ‘that’. If a sentence sounds fine without ‘that’ (go ahead, say it out loud!), she told us, then do not use it. These days, when I find myself overusing these words, I will amend my speech and repeat my sentence…hoping that my awareness of my lazy language at least sounds intelligent and makes up for my crazy sounding repetition 😉

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      I love your English teacher. “Got/get” are good ones to target – and “that” too! I find I skip reading the word “that” in books when I read aloud to my kids. It’s clunky and unnecessary. Thanks for sharing your story – wonderful what an influence one careful, opinionated person can be.

  4. Adele says:

    One of my favorite and most helpful writing hints is to avoid using the word “very”. If you need to use it, a writer-friend once advised, you’ve got the wrong adjective.

Naps versus Math

My kid’s a napper.  Still, at age 5, he collapses daily for a serious, 2-hour long, snoozing, sustaining nap. His bedtime is 8pm, but still he NAPS. Next year he’ll be facing full-day kindergarten, where the schedule doesn’t include rest time … Continue reading

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

8 Responses to Naps versus Math

  1. deidra says:

    wow! that is amazing he still naps and goes to bed at 8pm. Good for you! I say sleep should take a priority over everything! I agree kids will learn when they are ready to learn it.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Yes – it is pretty amazing. He loves his sleep. Sleep does get short shrift these days.

  2. Kate says:

    The thought of all day kindergarten makes me very sad, I can imagine such a long day for my child at the tender age of five.

    I think this is a main driving force behind my research into the option of homeschooling. I am still on the fence about the idea but I am seriously leaning toward the HS side.

    Sleep ranks at the top of my list right now, I can count on one hand the number of times my two year old has slept through the night so far !!!

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      I’m sure you’re not alone about your reasons for looking into homeschooling, especially for the younger years. As for all-day kindergarten, all-day preschool is getting to be the norm. Thanks for sharing your comments!

  3. As a Holistic Health Practitioner I can tell you with certainty that our body repairs itself during sleep — body, mind, and spirit.

  4. Carmelite says:

    I am a single mother who works and goes to school, and so my 3 year old son is in an all-day preschool program 8 hours/day, 5 days/week. It’s hard to be away from him so much, but I am soooo lucky to have found the amazing school he goes to. The kids have outdoor free-play all morning, then lunch, story time, nap time, and snack time, and then more outdoor free-play in the afternoon. There is no math time. His teachers insist that, at this age, the most important things he learns he learns through free-play, and the only really structured, important activities they do during the day involve healthy eating and sleeping rhythms. They do occasionally sing the alphabet, though:) His school goes up to age 5, and I don’t plan on taking him out of it until I have to, even though I have to pay for it and I could get him into public Pre-K programs when he is 4.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      You are a wise and wonderful mother. Love the sound of your son’s preschool program! Free play mixed with the rhythm of food and sleep is exactly what young kids need. Good for you in keeping him in this safe haven for as long as you can. I know the temptation of free programs is strong, but there is a cost to it. Thanks so much for sharing your story!