Author Archives: Heather Shumaker

Go Up the Slide with Early Bird Gifts

A box arrived on my doorstep from Penguin Random House this week. I thought it was THE BOOK. Instead it was a batch of lovely postcards from the publisher, but this is a good sign.  It means we’re getting close … Continue reading

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4 Responses to Go Up the Slide with Early Bird Gifts

  1. Deidra says:

    Congrats!

  2. Anne Donn says:

    Congratulations on your new book. So happy to hear that it’s release is getting close. I love the title. What a great way of seeing the world, as you go up the slide. All is well here.

  3. Saundra Fischer says:

    I am so excited about your new book! Your work has probably influenced me more as a parent and educator than any other author. Meeting you was a highlight last year. Thank you for all that you do!

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Of Karate Kids and Soccer Moms

Karate. Ballet. Soccer. Swimming. Hockey. Art lessons. Music lessons. Theater class. Children’s choir.  The number of enrichment classes out there for children is mind-blowing. Chances are, if you have kids, you’ve signed your child up for one of these fun-filled … Continue reading

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Fantastic Fiction: Encouraging Young Writers

As our family moves through public school, I’ve heard six years’ worth of teachers explain why kids don’t write fiction in their class. “Frankly, kids aren’t very good at fiction. They only write about explosions, aliens and robots,” one teacher … Continue reading

Posted in Joyful Literacy | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

9 Responses to Fantastic Fiction: Encouraging Young Writers

  1. deidra says:

    Yes fiction writing is alive and well in our school. My son’s stories are so creative. He is becoming a great story teller. Is his spelling, grammar, and punctuation perfect? Absolutely not. There stories sometimes don’t flow very well, but most importantly they are really creative, funny and strange.

  2. ann says:

    I think the problem is teaching to the tests. It is crazy high stakes in public schools that have not found a creative way around to actually teach kids. For those schools that find ways to actually teach, they often find ways to develop the creativity in kids. Creativity in one area helps in other areas. The problem is when you feel like you only have time to teach the facts, the basics, the test, then you can look at creativity as a luxury instead of a necessity. I sure hope this will change soon.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks for your comments, Ann. You’re right, it must seem like a luxury, and you’re so right how creativity flows from one area to the next.

  3. I’m so happy you wrote this one. My best childhood moments were being alone, making up wild stories about witches and queens, and yes, even princes and princesses, but the witches, oh I had such good and terrible witches. And in these fantasies, I was allowed to die and resurrect on a regular basis. It is truly the basis for an active imagination.

  4. Jan Waters says:

    What are they doing to creativity???? They are dumbing down kids’ education! Who are these people who don’t value the creative spirit? Preschoolers write wonderful stories and an adult can write it down. We are not educating scholars we are educating technicians. Jan

  5. Anna says:

    That teacher’s reasoning is so crazy. I presume she has also cancelled math, since some kids aren’t that good at it? And art – after all, 6-year-olds’ drawings are hardly known for artistic merit. In my first years of piano lessons, my playing really sucked – clearly my parents should have quit giving me music lessons. In fact, isn’t it the very nature of any skill that needs to be taught and/or practiced, that the student is bad at the beginning?

  6. Katrin says:

    My son’s teacher has them write journal pages twice a week. They all have a blank top for a picture and then lines to write something. Some start with prompters such as “I wish”, “My Mom”, “I wonder”.
    He writes the most hilarious 1-4 sentence stories in his first grade spelling with really simple but extremely expressive pictures.
    I wish there was more writing and encouraging to write, but it seems like I should be happy about what his teacher already does.

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Flash Card Babies

This morning I watched a mother hold her six-month-old baby. They were watching a screen together and the mother was singing along a counting song. “Twenty-two, twenty-three…” There was nothing truly wrong with the scene except expectations. The baby was … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

9 Responses to Flash Card Babies

  1. So much common sense wisdom in such a simple message. Thank, Heather.

  2. Erika Cedillo says:

    Absolutely loved this post Heather, thank you! I know parents that have been doing flashcards with their kids since very early in their life, for me it didn’t feel good. Now your post has put it so clear. It is about time, but give time for every stage of development and allow them to play and let them get the concepts at a more appropriate time. Take time, don’t rush time, loved this!
    And I specially liked when you talk about parents dreading their kids fall behind, once again this is another issue that is about the parents and not the kids. I’ve worked, and keep working, on keeping my own expectations at bay and just allow my daughters to unfold their beautiful and brilliant characters at their own time.
    Thanks again!!

  3. Kirsten says:

    To my nearly 4-year-old, “yesterday” is any day that was in the past. Certainly makes things confusing for us when she’s talking about something that occurred almost a year ago, but she’s formulating how time works. She knows Tuesday is recycle truck day, but I have no idea if she understands the frequency of that occurrence, and that’s okay. She’ll get there and I’m so grateful to have advocates like you.

  4. Anna says:

    I remember reading something somewhere (maybe an REI site?) pointing out that before you try to “teach” your baby something, you need to ask yourself what he would have been learning in that time that you’ve now displaced, and which was more important.

    If the kid is 6 months old, there’s not even any kind of doubt: what nature was teaching him during those minutes was far more important than the numbers or letters you decided to drill: e.g., sensory integration, correlation of cause-and-effect, the fundamentals of universal grammar, recognition of key phonemes in his native language. . .

    Anybody who thinks counting or memorizing the number series is more important than these things is simply a moron, and shouldn’t be trying to direct anybody’s education.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Lovely point. I often think in terms of “opportunity cost.” What are you giving up to make time for what you are doing?

  5. fionasamummy says:

    I used to sing numbers to baby B when I was so exhausted I couldnt think of any songs. Great article though.

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Going Up the Slide

It’s here! So excited, wanted to share with you this beautiful cover for my new book It’s OK to Go Up the Slide. We still have to wait for the book – coming in spring – but thought you’d like … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

10 Responses to Going Up the Slide

  1. Emily Plank says:

    So excited for you! How fun to see a cover!! :) Our field needs more of your wisdom, so I am really glad you have a second book to offer!!

  2. Bj Richards says:

    I can hardly wait! I gave your first book to all my families!!

    I recommend it to everyone!! Everywhere I go I refer people to your book. I have been doing child care for 39 years and your book is my all time favorite!!!

    Thank you
    Bj Richards

  3. Mary Haley says:

    I, too, have given the book to family and enjoy renegade discussions! Looking forward to the new book!

    Cover Idea: How about adding additional kids waiting to climb UP the slide!

  4. Cynthia Zapel says:

    You are amazing, Heather !! Congrats on your second innovative book. I wish I had such a book when I was raising my children. I also like the book cover-how appropriate.
    Thank You, Cynthia Zapel

  5. Warmest congrats. The cover is perfect and I am so thrilled with the title–yes, it’s just right for that next step in the child-rearing. Let them play.

  6. Congratulations and good luck with the new book. Looking forward to reading it and passing it on to those who need it much more than I do.

    Chris

  7. Heather Shumaker says:

    Thank you! So glad you like the cover. Can’t wait to share the real book with you soon.

  8. Katrin says:

    I cannot wait to read it! I’ve already hooked some families to “It’s ok not to share”, and I do already know that I’m going to get a copy for them and me.
    I love your ideas and your down to earth approach to parenting.

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Sane Rules for Homework

The new school year probably brought excitement. Now it probably brings…homework. If your children are in elementary school, homework has very little place in it. Research shows (analysis of more approx. 180 peer-reviewed studies) that homework assignments for this age … Continue reading

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Playing with Fire: Why Risk is Good for Kids

I’m back after a lovely, non-computer time this summer. We spent a lot of our time playing and traveling, including camping and playing with fire. OK, I don’t have tots anymore. My youngest is seven, and that’s a wonderful age … Continue reading

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

8 Responses to Playing with Fire: Why Risk is Good for Kids

  1. Jan Waters says:

    Heather, again you are right on. I remember letting my grandkids light a whole box of matches while I watched and then blow out the candle. We have campfires a lot in my backyard and I let the kids play and poke. One granddaughter said she was doing experiments. Risk taking is so important to educating. Its fun to read your wriing what I’ve always believed. Jan

  2. Lydia says:

    I totally agree! I have so many happy memories from my own childhood, of fire building.
    I love the sound of your new book too, my daughter is a slide climber upper! ?

  3. Fire building is a terrific way to teach safety and risk. I started making campfires under the watchful, expert eye of my mother the first year we went family camping. I was 10. A child needs to feel the intense heat from a small fire, feel the burn when he touches a seeming harmless point of a stick that’s been poking in red-hot coals, and see how fast a small fire can flare up when the damp wood has finally dried enough to really blaze away.

    My not so foolish risky behavior is taking solo wilderness canoe trips in my late 50s (and hope to do so well into my 60s). But I’m experienced, cautious, and never bite off more of a trip than I can chew. The main risks are Mother Nature nailing me with a bolt of lightning or a strong wind blowing a tree down onto my tent while I sleep. Capsizing in the middle of a large lake during high winds is a good example of mindless, intentionally foolish behavior. I’ll arrive home a day late if necessary rather than risk paddling across a whitecap filled lake by myself.

    Glad you brought up the topic of teaching kids to take risks. It’s an important topic too often ignored in the age of helicopter parenting when parents seek to eliminate all risks for their children.

    Chris

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Happy canoeing, Chris! And so glad your early campfire burning days have continued to serve you well. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Anna says:

    I agree! My son is only three, so as yet I’ve only let him throw twigs on the campfire, but more soon, hopefully. I do, however, let him cook his own oatmeal on our gas stove in the morning. He does great and he’s very cautious. I read a very helpful suggestion a while ago that when teaching a child to use the stove, you should have them actually use their hand to feel different distances from the flame to figure out what’s safe and what isn’t, and I found it to be great advice.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Great tip about stoves! Sounds as if you and your son will have many fine adventures ahead. Thanks for sharing your story.

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Book Clubs – Read this & Giveaway!

Be honest. How many of you busy folks and parents really take time for friendship these days? Mardi Link’s new memoir The Drummond Girls: A Story of Fierce Friendship Beyond Time and Change is all about the friendships we need … Continue reading

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Rewards versus Celebrations

Rewards are all around our children. Stars. Sticker charts. Prizes. Many of us automatically reward good behavior or new accomplishments with food. Even if you don’t dole out frequent rewards in your family, chances are your child is being loaded … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2 Responses to Rewards versus Celebrations

  1. Marisol says:

    Thanks for share this information. I have three childs and the prizes were foods or candies. It is bad this.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Try to remember the reward that comes inside the child. Then share your joy with the child’s inner joy. That’s what counts!

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How to Grow a Grown-Up

“Bold, clear and lifesaving. Vicki Hoefle is in the business of helping parents grow great grown-ups.” That’s the cover quote on Vicki’s new book The Straight Talk on Parenting: A No-Nonsense Approach to How to Grow a Grown-Up. 2015 is … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

9 Responses to How to Grow a Grown-Up

  1. Amy Sue says:

    My biggest parenting struggle is with our 8 & 10 year olds. They argue about screen time limits, and are constantly bickering with each other. It’s exhausting!

  2. Jenifer says:

    This sounds great! My girls are now 2 and nearly 5. They crave independence, and I try to give it to them, but would love to learn more about how to give them the skills they need!

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Jenifer – Congrats! You’re the winner of the book. Enjoy the wonderful journey ahead of giving more independence to your children. Best wishes, Heather

  3. Irene says:

    I would love to parent my son without yelling or bribing him!

  4. Swen says:

    Our greatest struggle is with our 4 year old daughter, being very strong-headed, testing our limits and her owns every day and all the time. When we as parents are sleep deprived from our younger one, it gets exhausting.

  5. Linda says:

    Sounds excellent!! We have 2.5 yr old triplets. Feels like we’re in the throws of it all right now and we’ve only just begun!

  6. Cari Noga says:

    I have a 9 y.o. son with special needs and a 6 year old typical daughter. Exhausted trying to be fair to both. Also worried my special needs son is not ever going to be able to leave home. I definitely need help growing 2 grownups.

  7. Alyson S says:

    I would love to win this book! I struggle so much with losing my patience

  8. Dawn Sparks says:

    I have a 5 and 3 year old. Our current biggest problem is helping them deal with anger and disappointment in appopriate ways. It’s pointing out my issues in dealing with my own big emotions!

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