My Top Favorite 6 Early Education Blogs (Post #2- 2016)

blogI love reading blogs! Back when I was a teenager I joined a website called teenopendiary.com. I really didn’t write all that often. But what I did do was save my list of favorites and go check on them everyday to see what was going on in their lives.

Then I got busy with college and work, and well teenopendiary.com just didn’t seem like a place for an 18 year old college student.

Then I got pregnant with Wes. I was 19 years old and while I had a good job and knew I could support us, my friends were all in a different place in life. I felt alone.

That is when I started writing on OpenDiary.com, the parent site of TeenOpenDiary.com. There I was able to meet people who were the same age or close to that were going through the same thing as I was. It was a real community. To this day, even though OpenDiary.com is no more, I am still close friends with many of the women I meet on this site. We become mothers together, we were there for eachother during pregnancy losses, divorces, marriages, custody battles, and the joys and trials of raising our children.

This was my early introduction to blogging.

A few years after Wes was born I started reading some stand alone blogs. And in 2010 I decided I wanted to start my own stand alone blog and share what I had learned over the years. I started my blog Doman, ABA, Homeschooling Momma.

In late October 2014, I decided to purchase my own domain and webhosting services. But I realized that Doman, ABA, and Afterschooling Momma(switched to Afterschooling in 2012) just didn’t roll off the tongue, and there were too many spelling variations for Momma. So that’s when EarlyLearningMom.com was born.

Even though I’ve been blogging for over 5 years now about parenting, autism, homeschooling, and afterschooling, I am NO MEANS an expert. There are regular blogs I read for ideas, and all sorts of information on how to raise my boys.

Here are my TOP 6 Educational Blogs I Follow:

planetsmarty

Planet Smart Pants

Planet Smarty Pants– Natalie from Planet Smarty Pants blogs about her adventures raising her only child. Her daughter is only one year younger than Wes, so while I was a working mom I read her blog quite closely, picking up tips on how to afterschool my child while keeping up the demands of being a mom who works out of the home.

Natalie also host link ups for other blogs to share what they have been doing to afterschool their children.

1+1+1=1

1+1+1=1

1+1+1=1 – If you’re looking for ways to teach your toddler, preschooler,or kindergartener this is the site to visit. There are so many resources that Carisa as created for her own children available for free right at your fingertips. She also has an online store where she has a membership only powerpoints, and several bundles of more educational materials. The prices are very affordable.

I have printed out plenty of her printouts when Wes was younger and in more recent years have started using some of her ideas with Little Z.

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Doman Mom

DomanMom : Liz from DomanMom is someone I have looked up to in the early learning movement since I embarked on my journey. Her two boys are just a bit older than my two boys. So I’ve been watching her blog very carefully over the years. Be sure to also check out her YouTube Channel, which is filled with awesome educational videos for your little ones.

 

 

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Early Learning with Marta, Eaton and Nathaniel

Early Learning with Marta, Eaton and Nathaniel: I love Marta’s blog, I can’t say that enough!! Her youngest is just a bit older then my Little Z, so I’m often snooping around her blog looking for ideas. The stuff her boys are able to do at such a young age blows my mind.

If I had to describe her style of teaching her boys, I would describe it as very montessori.

 

 

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Larry Sanger

larrysanger.org: Larry’s blog is not strictly a early learning parenting blog. However he written a 140 page Essay on how he taught his young son to read at a young age. Trust me, the 140 page essay is worth your time to read. We are lucky he has decided to share it for free instead of turning it into a book for purchase.  He is also the creator of the FREE online reading program Reading Bear.

 

 

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Figur8

Figur8: If you are looking for early learning information this is the blog to go to. I have been reading it for years and I keep finding new info I missed. Whether you are looking for brain training, child development, early learning ideas, etc. You will find it here.

 

 

 

Who do you regularly follow? I’m always looking for new learning blogs to check out.

 

 

 

Afterschooling: 2016 Reading List For The Reluctant Reader (Post #1- 2016)

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope everyone had a fun but safe New Years. Hubby always works New Year’s Eve, so we went with friends to a local fireworks display. Then we came home and ate chips and drank pop because I want to eliminate or limit them from our lives in 2016.

So after the clock struck midnight and we had welcomed 2016, Wes and I went and picked out his reading list for the year.

I’m pretty sure that most of my regular readers know that reading is not one of Wes’s favourite things to do. He struggles with reading comprehension, so before we started to deal with these issues he was not getting anything from reading. He could decode, but he wasn’t understanding what he was reading.

However with some hard work, he has come a long way. Now he is enjoying our reading sessions. Usually we take turns reading a paragraph. We do this because I find that he ones out if only I read, but I want him to get the benefits of being read to, so this works best for us.

Here is the list we came up with.

1) The Boxcar Children (The Boxcar Children, No. 1) (Boxcar Children Mysteries)

2) Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw (Book 3)

3) Midnight on the Moon (Magic Tree House, No. 8)

4) Horrible Harry and the Christmas Surprise

5) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

6) Cam Jansen: the Mystery of the Circus Clown #7

7) The Berenstain Bear Scouts and the Coughing Catfish (Berenstain Bear Scouts)

8) MIB Men in Black the Novel

9) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

10) Geronimo Stilton #38: A Fabumouse School Adventure

11) Watch Your Whiskers, Stilton! (Geronimo Stilton, No. 17)

12) Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots (The Adventures Of The Bailey School Kids)

13) The Monsters Next Door (Bailey City Monsters, No. 1)

14) Scooby-Doo! and the Howling Wolfman

15) The Case of the Christmas Snowman (Jigsaw Jones Mystery, No. 2)

16) Blizzard (The Magic School Bus to the Rescue)

17) Who’s in Love with Arthur?: An Arthur Chapter Book (Arthur Chapter Books)

18) The Pizza War (Mercer Mayer’s Lc & the Critter Kids)

19) Kickoff to Danger (Hardy Boys Book 170)

20) Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants: Color Edition (Captain Underpants #4)

Bonus book because we apparently grabbed one to many books
Secret Agent Jack Stalwart: Book 13: The Hunt for the Yeti Skull: Nepal

Check out my quick video on these books.

Disclaimer: These are affiliate links if you are really interested in getting some of these books. However I would encourage you to check out your local thrift store, because that is where 90% of mine are from.

Top 6 Learning to Read Websites

Often I get phone calls from my friends in real life about teaching their child. Usually its around report card time or after a parent teacher. Their child may be struggling with X,Y or Z and they want to of course like any good parent help them catch up.

Other times friends will see what I have done with Wes and what I am currently doing with Z and want to know how they can do that too.

So I thought I’d throw together a list of sites that I often suggest.

The first site I’m going to recommend I’m not actually counting in the 6 sites.  It is a suggestions for parents who stumble upon this post and have little babies, toddlers and young preschoolers. Visit the BrillKids website. If you start their Little Reader program, there is a chance you will be able to skip some of these sites. Or you might need these sites at a younger age to help grow your child’s reading skills, instead of using them to teach your child to read from scratch.

1) Reading Eggs: This is a subscription based program that can take a child from not reading to reading at a grade 2 level in no time. The program is based on Maps. Each map has 10 lessons.

2) Headsprout: I wrote about how we used Headsprout years ago in one of my first reviews, they can be read HereHere, and Here. I’m sure this program had a big part in my son starting half way through grade 1 reading at a high grade 2 level.

Recently they have upgraded their program to go up to grade 5! I started doing this program again with Wes to work on his reading comprehension and vocabulary skills. I can’t recommend this program enough.

(I should mention that this program has gone from a lifetime membership to a one year subscription based program)

3) Click N’Learn Phonics: Back when I was homeschooling Wesley, we had the chance to use and review Click N’Spell Phonics, you can read about it Here.

4) Reading Bear: Reading Bear is a FREE online reading program. Some people have found this to be a little too slow paced for their children, others have found it to be just right. Check it out to see if it will work for your child. With the price tag you have nothing to lose.

5) Starfall : Starfall offers both a free and paid for site that teaches children phonics, reading and other concepts like the days of the week, months of the year, holidays, colours etc.

6) Youtube: Believe it or not there are tons of amazing videos on Youtube that can not only help teach your child to read, they can teach anything from math, to the solar system, etc.

Spend sometime on on YouTube and create playlist for your child.

What sites have you used with your children? Which have you found helpful, and which were not so helpful?

Afterschooling 5th Grade

So a few weeks ago I had a parent teacher meeting with my eldest teacher. Putting him in school was a tough thing for me to do. I’d rather have him here at home where I have more control over his education. But at the same time I don’t want him to resent me when he is older for not allowing him to have the school experience.

His school is amazing, however I was not impressed with his behaviour or report card. He had really not been putting 100% into his education. So after seeing his report card and hearing about some poor decisions he was making I was ready to pull him out. I told him I was not going to allow his behaviour affect his education or his classmates education.

But I went to parent teacher conference and his teacher and I had a heart to heart with him. He agreed to try and work harder in school, and behave in a away that was not disruptive to himself or his peers. I told him because he had allowed his grades to slip he had to decide between me pulling him and homeschooling or him staying and afterschooling. He decided he wanted to stay in school.

Now while I respect his decision, he is still a child. I told him I would allow this to continue based on reports from school on his behaviour and his next report card. He had snuffed off for 3 months, so he would have a lot time to make up. Meaning we would be afterschooling.

Also meaning that instead of going to winter break camp the week after Christmas, he will be staying home with me. I feel like a mean mom, but I have told him if he can turn things around this term we can talk about spring break camp.

If you’re interested in learning more about the program I am doing with Wes, check out my YouTube videos below.

Sorry, we are having issues with video 2. It is being reuploaded and I will update the link shortly.

Systems should be a go now! Thank you for your patience.

Raising An Avid Reader… Failure?

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Reading some National Geographic fact books we found at the thrift store.

So I love to read. I don’t read as much fiction as I did before I had Z, but I still make time to read non-fiction. I especially love reading to my kids. Its an excuse to read more of the old classic series I use to read as a child. I feel being a parent is the perfect excuse to keep reading all the awesome series designed for children, without anyone batting an eyelash. I’m also the person who left the movie theater in an uproar after each Harry Potter movie.

My 10 year old on the other hand, he’s not an avid reader. He would much rather watch the movie and skip the book. This drives me BONKERS! I just can’t wrap my mind around this one. I refuse to watch the movie, “The Time Traveler’s Wife” because I know it will ruin the warm fuzzy feelings I have about the book. That is what happened when I watch the movie “Where the Heart Is”. How can he not like cuddling up with a book and getting lost in another world.

Where did I go wrong? When I was a kid my personal library was on the thin side. I mean I know that in retrospect, it wasn’t thin in the eyes of a lot of people. But for a little book worm, it was not enough to feed my hunger. We were living on a single income and my mom did buy me the books that were on sale in the scholastic flyers, but a lot of the time they were not to my taste.  I did what I could to get my hands on books, I reread books, saved allowance money, borrowed from friends and the library. Now the problem came when summer came around. We lived in a small town, and the only libraries I had access to were in the schools. That meant they were shut down during summer. I’m embarrassed to admit, I even went as far to steal books during the year from the library to have things to read. Sometimes I returned them… sometimes I didn’t *blush*. (Note to self, make a donation to my old high school library.) I later discovered that I could order books from a mail service library. I’m telling you, back then this BLEW MY MIND. The first thing I did when I moved to the city was get a library card.

So as a mother, who when as far as stealing books to read, how come my child, who has a library I would have KILLED for couldn’t care less to pick up a book.

Well that was until I realized I hadn’t found the right materials yet to bait him. Also his reading comprehension issues affected things too.

Looking back there are a few mistakes I made with Wes which I think may have stunted his love for reading. I’m trying my best to not make the same mistakes with Little Z. (… anyone else feel bad for their first child. I often feel like he was my practice child. I made my mistakes with him and try to avoid them with Z. Especially when my boys are almost 7 years apart. *sigh*)

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I put some books that I needed to sort through in a playpen to keep them away from my daycare babies. Little Z climbed into it to check them out.

 

I didn’t start reading to him soon enough. I mean I read to him, but I would get discouraged when I didn’t think he was into the books, or really listening. I should have keep on reading. With Z I have made storytime part of our routine, just like brushing our teeth.

I focused on LEARNING to read, instead of learning to LOVE to read with Wes. Now with Z, I’m teaching him how to read, but also constantly reading to him without expecting him to read anything.

So is Wes a lost cause?

I’m happy to say he’s not! Last week Wes and I went to run some errands, on our way to pick up Z from a friends, Wes was in the back reading an Archie comic. I had bought it at a thrift store months before, and it was sitting in the back of the van all this time. When we pulled up infront of my friend’s house, I asked him, “Would you like to come in or keep reading your book?” I assumed I knew the answer, but he shocked me when he replied without lifting his nose out of the book, “I’ll wait here and keep reading.” It’s worth noting he LOVES my friend, and she also has a son his age that he loves too.

When I got back in the car I asked him if he really liked these comics. He told me he did. So I suggested he call Papa(my dad) and ask him if he could borrow some Archie comics from him. I told him I think he has a collection. I knew darn well my whole Archie collection was collecting dust in their basement. He called and Papa said he had “a few” he could have.

Back when I was a little girl, my Memere (French for Grandma) had this sweet old lady named Irene as a neighbour. They lived in the foyer in our home town. One day she stopped in when my brother and I were visiting. She was shocked to see us nicely putting away our colouring books and crayons where they belonged, and the toys my Memere had for us to play with were all in working order. She told my Memere that her grandchildren were awful with toys. She would buy them a doll and the next time she went over, it would be naked and missing limbs on the floor. From then on, whenever she when on vacation, instead of bringing back her grandchildren souvenirs she would drop stuff off at our home for my brother and I. One day she called my mom and asked her if we would like to have her Archie comic collection. My mom knew I would be over the moon. Little did we know her collection consisted of HUNDREDS of comics. The nerd in me was in my glory. I sorted them by series and issue numbers and read them all.

Sadly when I was 10 Irene passed away. Since this post seems to be getting personal, I may as well share. I remember the morning she passed, I woke up and all I could smell was cigarette smoke. No one in my home smoked and my window was closed. As I got out of bed, our home phone rang. It was my Memere, Irene had passed away. Irene was a heavy smoker. In my heart, I feel like she was coming to say good-bye. I still tear up thinking about that day.

But 20 years later she lives on in my heart, and her generous gift is blessing my now 10 year old son.

At the beginning of the year, I made a bucket list. I have to go back and check, but I do know that one of the items was for Wes and I to read 12 chapter books. We kind of snuffed off on that, we are sitting at 6 I believe, might be 7 as I think I forgot to write down a Geronimo Stilton book we read. We have still been reading, but just not chapter books.

But it’s not too late! I think we can make our goal in the next 6-7 weeks. We just finished “My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish” this week. I suggested to him we start “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl, because my 9 year old step daughter is reading it for fun. She is an avid reader, with reading skills I would have killed for at her age. I thought maybe they might land up chatting about it. But he wanted to read “George’s Marvellous Medicine” by the same author. “Then we can read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mom.” he said. His old teacher read it to the class, and he wanted to read it with me. I haven’t read this Roald Dahl book before so I agreed.

So do I think he will become this avid reader who can’t get enough books to read? Honestly, no. But I think he likes the time we read together, and will remember that when he’s older. I also think he will be a good reader, just not someone who will always have a book with them. And that is ok. I could have done everything right with him in regards to reading and he might still not be an avid reader. But he is an amazing mathematician and builder. These are his strengths and I’m proud of him.

Thrift Store Find – Hooked On Phonics SRA Reading Power

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I can’t be the only one who does this? I’ll be at the local thrift store and I will see something totally cool, for next to nothing, and buy it. Even though it is not age appropriate for my child. I mean you will eventually us it right? Then usually you forget about it and find it once your child has outgrown it.

Well for once I found something I bought a few years ago BEFORE Wes has grown out of it. Actually we will get a LOT of use out of it.

IMG_3574Hooked on Phonics: Your Reading Power (Adapted for Home and Personal Use from the SRA Reading Laboratory Series) : Which is a book full of stories that are designed to be read by the child and then there are questions that the child has to answer.

These are basic on the SRA lab method that is used in many schools. Thinking back, I remember using something similar in elementary myself.

For now Wesley and I are working on two leaflets a day. But right now its fairly easy for him. Once it starts to become a little more challenging we will slow down to one story a day.

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As you can see it does become more difficult. SO I can see this being a program we work on long term. I doubt by the end of the summer that we will be finishing this program, but I can really seeing us making a good dent in it.

Have you ever found any Thrift Store deal that you couldn’t turn down that your child was still not ready for?

What are we doing now? Early Educations and Afterschooling

20150524_145741684_iOSWell now that we are no longer working with the NACD, I decided that I need to reevaluate what we are doing education wise with Wes and Little Z.


 

20150523_013745730_iOSLast night was Wes’s last piano practice till the fall. Last year I just put him in at a music school 10 mins away every other week to keep him fresh. But this year that school is shutting down for the month of July and opening for August. While we can do sessions in August, it does not make sense since we are on holidays 2 of the weeks. So I guess my mission for the next few weeks is to find a summer music teacher.

As of today our main focus has been the Simply Smarter online computer programs and khan academy. We’ve also been doing a few of the Kumon books on Multiplication. While know that they are gaged at 6,7 and 8 years old, I think that Wes needs to work on hammering down his math facts. Honestly I have been pretty bad at working with him on shared high interest reading and comprehension reading. I really know I need to step it up a little in this area.

I know that come summer things are going to change. Wes does not do well with unscheduled time. I know if I don’t plan for things I will have him bugging me with the usual, “I’m bored Mom!” line. So while I want him to have fun just being a kids, I think I need to plan. So stay tuned for summer ideas for school agers.


20150523_014557161_iOSWith Little Z we have been trying to enjoy as much outside time as possible. Come September we will be starting with the ABA program with him, and will likely have less free time.

But at the same time I want to stay on top of his education as well. So we reintroduced the The EEECF Country Course vol. 1 using the Little Reader program.

I have also been using Little Reader to create books to use along side out Hooked On Phonics app and workbooks.

 We have also been watching Rachel Coleman’s new Preschool series : Rachel and the Treeschoolers.

I bought this series during their kickstarter campaign a while back. Little Z and my daycare kids just love them so much. Its crazy to watch your little ones singing songs about photosynthesis.

On top of all this we are still using a number of apps, and reading as much as we can with a squirmy little boy. We are also working on some make shift ABA programs. Puzzles, matching Etc.

I think come September once we have a good ABA schedule in place, I will be able to prosway the tutors to work on some EL materials. Plus having the basics being taken care of by the tutors, I can force on the academics.

Win A Free Sonlight Curriculum!

Mom-to-Mom Curriculum Giveaway

 

This is too awesome not to share! You can enter to win a full year Sonlight curriculum at Mom to Mom Curriculum Giveaway!

This is one program I want to try with my kids as a supplement. We are becoming a read-aloud family, and this program is based on learning from literature. BEst part, most of the materials can be reused with more than one child, and has very little consumables(And the consumables are very affordable). I have entered myself!

Go Register to Win!! 

NACD With My Nine Year Old. Helping Your Child with Reading Comprehension.

Well the time has come and Wes has graduated from the local ABA program. 6 years all in. I have seen major changes in him and this program has played a huge part of who he is. However after 6 years I’m happy to see this chapter of his life closed and a new one opening.

I wrote last time about The NACD Program We Are Running With Little Z, and there seem to be an interest as to what we are doing with Wes. So here we go!

After meeting with Wes over skype it was decided that the main thing we should worry about was processing skills and reading comprehension.

Honestly one of that saddest things I heard come out of my son’s mouth a few weeks ago was, “I hate to read.” Cue in my heart breaking. I love to read! How could he hate it so much. I guess if you are not understanding what you are reading, the real question is, “Why” would you want to read?

So while we waited for our package of stuff from the NACD to arrive, I picked out this book: Reading Comprehension: Grade 2 (Flash Skills) and we started working on reading. If your child is sensitive to what grade level they are working on, you could cut out the top right corner of the book.

First I have him read the story on his own. Then he reads it to me. And then he orally answers the question. I could have him write the answers down in the workbook, but I decided against that. I want to work strictly on reading and comprehension. By writing down the answer, I would be adding 3 more skills to the project: Writing, Spelling and Grammar.

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Then our work books came in from the NACD. We started New Practice Readers, Book B, 3rd Edition this week and I really like it. Right now we are working on Book B, which is a reading level of grade 2.4 to 3.5. While Wes is able to decode books at a much higher level, we are starting way below that to insure he is understanding everything he is reading. Unlike the Reading Comprehension book above, the New Practice Readers uses high interested nonfiction topics. So while they are working on comprehension they are also learning about:

– Earth Sciences

– Exploration

– Geography

– Geology

– Health & Safety

– Life Sciences

– Mathematics

– Occupations

– Physiology/Psychology

Another thing we are using to help work on reading comprehension are audio books. Right now Wes has been listening to the Magic Treehouse series. I found them at the library and loaded them up on his iPod. When he finishes a book I delete it and add another one. Right now he is using a set of earbuds, that I have cut off the left earpiece. He is suppose to only listen to them through his right ear, which is his dominant side.

The last thing we have been working on for reading comprehension has been sending each other notes. If I need him to do something I will slip him a note with instructions. Or I will as him a question and he will bring me a note back with his answer. This one is a lot of fun. We are also suppose to do weekly scavenger hunts. Notes leading to notes. We haven’t done this yet, but his school has shown an interest in running this program.

We are also focusing this term on auditory processing skills. I could try and explain this myself, but really I’m sure I would not be able to properly. So I just added in a video I found that Robert Doman Jr film about Auditory processing.

 Right now we are doing this process with:

– Digits four times a day

– Words two times a day

– Questions once a day.

I’ve already seen Wes develop this skill in the last month. He has gone from a 5 to a 7 in digits. Plus its something simple we have added to his day. We do it twice in the morning before school and twice at night.

Once summer comes and Wes is out of school for a few months, I will be able to request more programs. Right now, with swimming two times a week, and piano lessons/practice, this is what we can handle.

 

 

 

 

To stay up to date on our NACD journey and everything else early learning, Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

EarlyLearningMom.com Top 10 Posts of 2014

2014 has almost come to an end. For my family it was a great year. But I’m excited to see what 2015 will bring us. I thought I’d look back this year and see what the top 10 most popular post on Early Learning Mom were.

10) Toddler Tula Vs Ergo Carrier. My Experience with My Favorite Baby Carriers.

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#10 post of the year on Early Learning Mom was my post about babywearing. Which has helped keep me sane during 2012/2013/2014. I’m not sure what I would have done without it.

9) 9 Year old Piano Recital

Ok so post #9 was a little brag on Wes and his performance at the winter concert. This was a tough piece for him, but he did not give up.

8) Teach Your Baby to Read? Why You Should Do It? Here Are 4 Reasons Why You Should!

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#8 is a post about why you should teach your baby to read.

7) TouchMath for Homeschooler!! A Review

 

 

 

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Ok #7 is a post from 2013, but it still makes this years list because it was the 7th most popular post in 2014. This one I got to review the new homeschooling version of TouchMath.

 

6) Teach your Toddler with TouchMath

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This years #6 post was a fun one for me to write. In this one I shared how to modify the TouchMath kindergarten curriculum to teach your toddler.

5) Can TV Teach Your Young Child? Powerful tool, or Gateway Drug to TV addiction?

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#5 Post of 2014 was a post about using TV as a tool for teaching your young child.

4) BrillKids Learning System with Baby Z UPDATE

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#4 post of the year was a post about how we were using BrillKids software at the time.

3)Howie & Skip’s MonkiSee ABC Round Up

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The #3 post on EarlyLearningMom.com was my review on one of Howie & Skip’s Monki See videos.

2)Back to Afterschool

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The #2 most popular post this year was about Wes’s first week of school and our afterschool plans.

1) FarFaria Giveaway

farfaria1This years #1 post was a review/giveaway for an app called FarFaria.

Thank you so much to my readers. The last few months of 2014, I came back to my blog and got serious again, and my readers welcomed me with open arms. I have plenty of goals in place for 2015, so stay tune for a fun pack year at Early Learning Mom.

Have a safe and happy New Years Eve and all the best in 2015.