Today we're hosting another parent who also happens to be an educator in "real world". Like so many others, she uses her knowledge in her own home with her child but, in this case, she has gone a step further and shared it with others as well...
How an idea for Mommy and Me Book Club was born?
In 2004, I left my kindergarten classroom to stay at home with my first child. I loved being a stay at home mom, and sharing all of the fun activities I had done at school, with my own child. I found myself creating fun “book inspired” activities and lesson plans for the two of us to enjoy together. I could do so much more with him one on one, than I had been able to do in the classroom. And we were having a lot of fun! So much fun, that I wanted to include other moms and their preschoolers to join us.
When he was 2 and a half, I extended the invitation to several friends to form a Mommy and Me Book Club, thinking maybe two or 3 would say yes. I was shocked that very first year, when over 20 families wanted to participate! We divided into three groups. I wrote the curriculum for all 3 groups, using my favorite children’s books as our inspiration.
I hosted a group again for 2 years when my second son turned 3. And now, here we are several years later, and I am getting ready to begin our 6th year of Mommy and Me Book Club with my youngest daughter and her wonderful friends.
Our group is a co-op. I have never charged anything for the families to participate. We just all pitch in and take turns being responsible for the snack, art, or games. I love the special time I get with my daughter. I love the chance I get to create curriculum. And I love the wonderful friends I have who are part of this fun adventure. It would not work without them! I am blessed with wonderful friends who are also inspirational mothers!
How do you choose books for the Club gatherings? What guides you in your choice?
Choosing books for our Mommy and Me Book Clubs is my very favorite part of the year! Some books are beloved friends from my own childhood or classroom days. I also feature books that are new to me. I spend all summer reading everything I can get my hands on. I go to the library, to the bookstore, and search online. I ask the moms in our group to send me a list of their children’s top 10 favorites. I am currently going through the process, trying to narrow down my top 30 favorites for this year! (If anyone reading this has a favorite to share that we have never featured, please let me know)!
I have found that there are lots of wonderful children’s books that are not the best fit for Mommy and Me Book Club choices.
1 - I look for books that are short enough and engaging enough to keep a group of preschoolers attention. I find that my daughter who can usually listen to stories for over an hour on my lap, when I add 5 of her best friends to the room (and all of their mommies),she and her buddies are able to focus on a read aloud for perhaps 10 minutes.
2 - I also look for books that are good, quality literature. Books that I would be willing to own, and to reread 50 times in one day. I am pretty picky about what I recommend.
3 - I look for books that portray kind and respectful behavior from their main characters. I try to avoid books that use words, behaviors, or attitudes that I would not want seen in my own home.
4 - I look for diversity in the books I share throughout the year. I plan a year at a time. I include some that will make the children giggle. I look for books that teach valuable lessons. And even a few that will include things like shapes, colors, and letters.
Can you draw parallel between setting rules for these gatherings and inside our own homes?
As the group leader, it is important to always have a plan! We follow the same flow and format each week at Mommy and Me Book Club. We have all materials ready to go when we begin. We move based on the children’s interest and not the clock. This keeps you from having down moments between transitions, which is when a lot of difficulties arise. We meet at the beginning of the year as just the moms, and establish a clear vision of what we expect from each other during the time we are together. The first day of Mommy and Me, and throughout the year, we go over the rules with the children in a fun and happy way.
At home, when I have a plan, things go so much smoother. When we follow a schedule, when our materials are ready for the next day, and when we watch our children and not the clock, we are so much happier and productive. And if you are blessed to be parenting with someone else, I think it is important to sit down together, without the kids, and establish a vision for our family life together. When you are on the same page, it makes parenting so much more enjoyable. Then as a united front, share this vision with your children in a fun and happy way.
Share your tips for achieving successful cooperation between kids.
1 - Create activities that foster cooperation and NEVER activities that encourage competition with children of this age.
2 - Model. Model. Model. Achieving successful cooperation between kids is simple when you have a one to one ratio. I have found that Mommy and Me Book Club is the perfect place for our children to learn to share and take turns. Each child has a loving parent next to him to help navigate this tricky new territory. When a child wants to take a toy that another child is playing with, becomes impatient waiting to be last to play the game, or frustrated with sharing art supplies, he has a role model to demonstrate how to handle the situation. A parent is there to validate his feelings and to encourage positive behavior. That is the true beauty of Mommy and Me Book Club.
Top 5 gatherings / books from the past?
That is like asking me to choose my favorite child!!! Can I at least do 6???? :)
A Ball for Daisy
There’s A Bird On Your Head
The Three Little Pigs
The Big Red Barn