Teaching your child the letter X – #AtoZchallenge

XToday on the A to Z challenge, it is the letter X. This is the one letter that worried me the most on this challenge. Not only are there a limited number of words that start with X that I can write about, this letter falls on a day when I typically talk about a parenting issue.

My husband suggested X-rays but I haven’t ever had one, and neither have the kids so that would be a short topic. I guess I could have talked about the X-box but instead, I decided to talk just about the letter X. Yep. We are talking about the 24th letter in our alphabet.

This letter is easy to teach in the terms of how to write it. Just two quick strokes and you can do either a capital or lowercase X. (And once you learn how to make an X you can work on your pirate map as we all know “X” marks the spot.)

However, when it comes to words that start with X, you end up with X-ray or X-Box. Other words such as xylophone, Xerox or Xavier have a Z sound instead of an X. That certainly makes it hard to explain to your preschooler.

So I guess the best way to teach the letter X is to tell your child that X is unusual. The actual sound of the letter X is a combination of the letters “k” and “s.” It often comes in the middle or end of a word such as in fox, fix, ax, and box.

You know as I reflect upon it, there is not much to say about the letter X other than it is a tricky one to teach in the area of pronunciation. And now that the letter X is done, there are only two more days in this challenge.

Teaching your child to be a good friend #AtoZChallenge

FToday on the A to Z Challenge we are up to the letter F. Since this lands on a day that I typically talk about parenting, I decided to post about teaching your child to be a good friend.

Learning to be a good friend is an important life skill to master. Children do not automatically know how to be a friend. Typically, many little kids are all about pleasing themselves and not worried about others. Being a good friend is not a skill that they will just pick up from hanging out with other children on the playground. It has to be taught. The best way is to set a good example yourself.

What I have always told my kids is that you need to treat others as you would like to be treated. This means you do kind things for them and use kind language. You don’t tell your friends what to do. You don’t ignore them. You don’t want to hurt their feelings.

friendsLexie (at age 4) was heartbroken one day when one of her friends (who is older than her by two years) decided to have a play date with some friends and didn’t invite Lexie. It was hard to explain to Lexie that her friend wanted to spend time with girls her own age.

But I use this example for the kids to not talk about events in front of friends unless they are planning to invite them too. As an adult, if you talk to your co-workers about the upcoming birthday party for your husband, they might expect an invitation, especially if they know him. But if you are talking about your upcoming family reunion, they probably won’t.

Kids can’t always make these distinctions. Sometimes when Lexie hears about other events, she tries to invite herself. I have to explain that she can’t be included in everything. You have to let your friends spend time with other friends.

As I watch Lexie navigate this area, it is sometimes hard to know when to step in and offer advice and when to let her figure it out on her own. It is difficult to watch your kids get hurt by their friends but dealing with conflict and problems in a friendship is inevitable. There will be heartache. Friends are not always easy.

Even Jase who is polite and thoughtful is going to slip up sometimes. Kids don’t always realize that what they say and do affect others. Often when Jase is teasing his sister, I remind him to think about how he would feel if she or someone else was treating him that way.

I am glad my kids have friends in the neighborhood that they can walk to school with and look forward to playing with. And I don’t know how long these friendships will last as kids’ interests will change and develop over the next few years which could cause them to grow apart. But these are their first friends and their first chance at becoming a good friend. And it is a lesson I hope they learn well.

Explaining the Angel Tree/charity to my kids

Every year, there are toy drives during the holidays. Jase’s school does an Angel Tree with our sister school. The sister school picks out families in need of a little help during the holiday season and sends our school the list of what is needed. It could be household items, clothes or toys for the kids.

I want my kids to be generous and caring. I want to encourage them to help those in need of a little help so last year we adopted a family from the tree. We bought blankets for the parents and a toy for the boy as well as two new outfits. Jase didn’t relish the thought of giving clothing for Christmas. I knew he would be less than thrilled

Christmas tree uid 1426680

to receive clothes under the Christmas tree. But I explained that this family needed the clothes more than they needed toys. I am not sure he really understood.

This year, I wanted to get Lexie and Jase a little more involved in the picking of items. I let them each choose one kid from the tree that is close to their age. Before we picked the kids, I sat down and talked to them about how some people have less than we do. Some families struggle to get by and that some kids don’t have a room full of toys like they do.

I don’t think they understand. Even when we participate in food drives throughout the year, they don’t understand that other kids may not know where their next meal is coming from. Sometimes Lexie complains that she is “starving,” but I know she had no clue what it is to go hungry. And really, neither do I. Luckily for our family, we have never been in that situation.

I turned to the Internet to see if there was any advice on how to explain these things to them but didn’t find much that would help. Some sites recommended researching a charity and supporting it. Some sites recommended taking them to a soup kitchen or homeless shelter to volunteer. I just don’t feel comfortable with that at this age.

I also found a commentary on Forbes about a man who said he doesn’t give to toy drives. His belief is that giving to toy drives doesn’t FIX any problem. He would rather his money go to finding solutions. Giving to a toy drive is just not the best use of your limited “charity” money in his opinion.

And while I understand the merits of what he is saying – yes, there may be better uses for our money, I still will be participating in toy drives or our local Angel Tree. I have had friends whose families have relied on Angel Trees to provide gifts for their kids. Those children had little and were very appreciative for the small gifts and clothes they received. It helped them out when their families were struggling.

How can making kids happy not be good? Yes, it would be nice to find a way that those kids have a safe place to live or a warm, filling meals each day. But I don’t have it in my power to change those things. Yes, I can research and give my money to a charity that might help them, but I can also make two local kids have a happier Christmas – and hopefully teach my kids about helping others – by participating in the school’s Angel Tree.