Social Emotional Learning with HeyKiddo

Social Emotional Learning with HeyKiddo

Social emotional learning is a framework that helps students to better understand their emotions, to experience those emotions fully, and extend empathy for others. Learning about feelings and how they effect relationships is vital for children to develop into well rounded healthy teenagers and adults.

As I’ve shared before, I have two children with ADHD. Did you know emotional regulation is an extra challenge for neurodivergent children? Because of this, we spend a LOT of time discussing feelings in our family. Additionally, I really believe spending concentrated time learning these skills when children are young results in positive outcomes as they grow. It only made sense to incorporate social emotional learning into our homeschool. This is why I was so excited to discover HeyKiddo Huddle by HeyKiddo.

Built for busy homeschooling parents (you, mama) by expert psychologists and educators, this digital curriculum fits seamlessly into your existing homeschool rhythm and routine, all the while helping to build skills like self-awareness, mindfulness, positive mindset, empathy, critical thinking, resilience and so much more. Read on to the end for a chance to win a one year subscription!

Disclaimer: I received this product for free and was compensated for my time. My opinions are honest and true to my personal experience with this product.

Social Emotional Learning Starts with Family

We take family and sibling relationships very seriously in our home. Because I am an only child, I know how precious it is to have siblings by your side. We tell our kids that their siblings are their forever best friends. Deep relational bonds only occur if a person has had appropriate social emotional education.

Desiring our children to mature in their social emotional skills is one thing, yet knowing how best to teach these skills can be another. This is where HeyKiddo Huddle steps in. HeyKiddo, with the backing of the National Science Foundation, comes along side you with a weekly curriculum to teach important skills such as self awareness, relationship skills, responsible decision making, and SO MUCH MORE. They say it takes a village. Why not take the opportunity to fill ours with expert psychologists and educators?

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How Does HeyKiddo Huddle Work?

HeyKiddo Huddle is comprehensive social-emotional curriculum for homeschooling parents that spans 36 weeks. Everything you need to teach each lesson is located in your online portal. Additionally, you receive weekly emails with that link to all the materials you need. Your portal also houses a progress tracker for each child, as well as additional resources. The portal is incredibly simple and easy to navigate.

Your portal houses everything you need for each lesson.

Lessons, or huddles, take about 15 minutes each day, or you can dedicate one hour once a week. I really appreciate when curriculums are not extremely time intensive. For each lesson, you come together for a huddle (how cute is this concept?!) and discuss one question per day. The discussion questions are designed to integrate critical thinking skills into daily learning. One of my favorites is, “If you were a color, which would you be and why?”. Furthermore, an activity or craft is associated with each week’s focus. Parents are responsible for gathering the materials for these activities, but they are simple things like colored paper, scissors, etc..

I really appreciate the Educator Responses section of each discussion question.

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I have thoroughly enjoyed digging into this curriculum with my children. In the beginning, it felt a little awkward having these conversations, but we quickly found our groove. Better yet, the kids have so much fun during our huddles. I think it does a wonderful job filling in the gaps we, as parents, sometimes have when teaching our children about emotions and introspection.

Huddles are simple, but they are so impactful!

The only thing I would adjust in this program is allowing total access to all the lessons up front. You have the full 36 week curriculum outline in your portal, but it only gives you the topics. My type A planner self would have liked to be able to view all the lessons I wanted, so I could customize our journey through the program more. However, that is such a minor thing (can you tell I sometimes live in the details, ha!), and I really do love HeyKiddo Huddle for social emotional learning. I can already tell a difference in my children’s emotional awareness with using this curriculum. Check them out today! As always, I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

Tea Time: A Time to Connect

Tea Time: A Time to Connect

Tea time is a pastime practiced all over the world. However, it is not very prevalent in the US. Even though I have always enjoyed an afternoon cup of tea (23andMe says I am 98% British, so I guess it’s in my blood), I never really thought about having an organized tea time. That is until I started homeschooling. Sitting around the table together, enjoying a treat and a cup of tea is definitely a thing in the homeschool community. And let me tell you, my heart soared when I learned tea time could be a part of our weekly routine.

What is Tea Time?

I know this is a basic question, but it is one I honestly had. When you are a new homeschooler, you have to learn the lingo. Terms like spines, morning basket, living books, etc are specific to the homeschool community. I spent more time than I like to admit googling this stuff, ha. So, what exactly is tea time? Honestly, it is what ever you want it to be. You don’t even have to drink tea! Seriously, my oldest drinks water during ours. I define tea time as coming together around the table to enjoy a yummy snack and each other’s company. That’s all. It doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy if you don’t want it to be.

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Our Routine

One thing I learned about myself at the beginning of my intentional living journey is my ideal and my reality often do not match. That is okay! Learning, knowing, and accepting what my capacity is a gift from the Lord. Truly. I say this because, in a perfect world I want to have a beautiful tea time with made from scratch treats every school day. This is not reality. I plan for three days a week, but most of the time it is twice a week. Furthermore, store bought snacks often grace our table. Did you know I almost gave up on the idea of tea time because I knew I wouldn’t be able to have homemade baked good every time? Talk about legalistic thinking! (I am working on it) Store bought cookies are the unsung heroes for us.

Alright, here are the details you’re looking for. A few times a week, while my youngest is napping, I make a pot of tea for me and my middle child. I fill a little pitcher of water for my oldest, who, like I said, doesn’t like tea. I set out some tea cups, saucers, and a plate of cookies. I typically serve enough for each of us to have two treats. I call the girls over, pour the tea, and we all sit down together. Then I either read a story, devotion, poem, or we answer the fun table conversation cards. This is also a time to practice manners. My children love it. I am planning on including my youngest once he get a little bit older and no longer napping. On average, this special time lasts for about 15-20 minutes.

Make It Your Own

The beauty of tea time is that it can be whatever you’d like it to be. And you, of course, do not have to be a homeschooler. You can enjoy tea time before bed, on a Sunday afternoon, and any time in between. As long as you are making time to connect with your family, then you are doing it right.

Tell me your thoughts! Would you like to start a tea time with your children? What treats would you serve? What do you want it to look like? Tell me all about it in the comments below. And, as always, if this post encouraged your, share it with your friends.

First Year Homeschooler Reflections

First Year Homeschooler Reflections

I am no longer a first year homeschooler! Our first year is in the books. I have the attendance records to prove it, and it feels like such an accomplishment. My school aged children completed second grade and kindergarten at home. You can read more about our decision to become a homeschool family here, but our decision was not related to the pandemic like so many others. The pandemic just confirmed to us that we made the right choice for our family. We are at the end, and I have thoughts.

What We Liked About Homeschooling

I think my favorite thing about homeschooling was the freedom we experienced in our daily schedule and routine. If something came up, or if we were just bored with what we were doing, we just changed it. I even switched our language arts curriculum mid-year. You just don’t have that flexibility with traditional public school. My favorite part of our day was cuddling up on the couch and reading to my girls. We entered and explored so many wonderful stories and worlds together this year. I watched their love for books and reading blossom from the front row. We traveled the world together through our social studies curriculum and learned how not every one lives, looks, speaks, or believes the way we do, and that is what makes every one unique and special.

In addition, I loved how our days look on a leisure quality. We were not rushed nor over scheduled. One of the things I disliked the most about my children’s time in traditional school was the long day. They were gone so much of the day. My oldest came home exhausted around four o’clock each day. She came home so late in the day and so tired, that we often had to complete homework in the mornings before the bus came. I did not like feeling like I got the leftovers of my children. I felt I was missing too much. They missed each other as well. This past year my children had so much time together, and it grew their sibling relationships in the best ways. I often say to my children that their siblings are their forever best friends, and I saw that come to pass this year.

What We Did Not Like About Homeschooling

Don’t get me wrong, being a first year homeschooler was not sunshine and roses all the time. However, I think the things we found to be the most challenging were things that were amplified by the pandemic. When we made the decision to become a homeschool family, we knew our children would have to make new friends. ~Sigh~ new friends, again. I say again because, remember, our family moved across the country in 2018. Our kids had already been through the difficult process of meeting and making friends after our move, and they had to do it again.

Our community has a strong homeschool presence. However, everything was closed for so long because of the pandemic. I had a really difficult time connecting with other homeschooling families. This was our biggest struggle by far. My oldest told me she loved doing school at home, but she missed the kids from her old school. We tried play dates when we could, but a world wide pandemic really puts a damper things. Every family has different comfort levels with precautions to COVID, including us. It was difficult for them to establish meaningful connections. One of our biggest changes we will be implementing next year is enrolling them into a co-op. They will do classes with other kids one day a week. Everyone is excited about this!

Another thing I found challenging was adjusting to having my kids around me all day long, every single day. I love my children with every part of my being, but my introverted self needs time alone to decompress and recharge. COVID amplified this because my long haul symptoms from having the virus were so pervasive. I spent much of the year in recovery. I often had to take naps in the middle of our schooling, because the fatigue was so intense. Many of our days were spent doing only the essential subjects. I am really excited about adding more extracurriculars next year, now that much of my energy has returned.

Final First Year Homeschooler Thoughts

I don’t believe homeschooling is the right decision for every family, and that is okay. Homeschooling is not one size fits all, and you absolutely need to feel called to do it. It’s a hard work, but it is definitely a worthy work. I am so glad we finally made the leap, after we considered it for so many years. As of now, our plan is to continue homeschooling through at least elementary school, and everyone is excited about this. I looked at this year as a learning year, and I experienced so many lessons as a first year homeschooler that stretched and grew me. Lessons I am forever grateful for. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us next year!


Nurturing Sibling Relationships

Nurturing Sibling Relationships

Nurturing sibling relationships is an aspect to parenting I want to thrive in. I want to preface this post with love. I know we, as mothers, are doing the very best we can. Mothering and parenthood is legit hard. It’s a high and holy calling on us. My heart is to share a few things that have helped our family. And my hope is that maybe something shared can bring a little more peace to your home where there might be chaos. My heart is not boastful. I do not get it right every time, and I definitely do not know all the things. We struggle and have hard days and weeks just like every one. Also, my children are young. I know that things will change as they get older, and we will have to mold and adjust our strategies as our children grow. My husband and I are continually having conversations about what each of our children need and how we can best meet those needs. I am not an expert, and I believe a lot of sibling dynamics come from individual personalities. However, there have been a few things that we have purposely implemented in our family culture to nurture the relationships among our children.

Valuing Sibling Relationships

First and most importantly, we view siblings as a gift in our family. My husband and I don’t take for granted the value of this special bond among our 3 kids. I grew up as an only child, and my husband has one younger brother. We are not experts by our own account, but we have a deep desire for our kids to have a special, close, and unbreakable bond. For much of my childhood, I longed for that “best” friend who would be present in my life for years and years. That deep connection when you can read each other’s thoughts without saying a word. Childhood friendships can graze the surface of this, but those relationships tend to be fluid and temporary. They depend on where you live, what school you go to, etc, and those things can change often for kids. But siblings are with you forever. They’re stuck with you, ha! So, I think for us, that is the biggest motivator for for how our kids view each other. They are a gift. It all starts with your heart and how you as the parent view sibling relationships.

Teaching Conflict Resolution

Secondly, I have basically been a helicopter parent when it comes to conflict resolution among our children. In the toddler years, this meant me having them repeat what I say when resolving a conflict. I intentionally taught them the words and tone of voice to use with the goal of nurturing their sibling relationship. I took the time to explain to one child why the other child was feeling a certain way. If one child did something hurtful, I would tell them to look at their sibling, and I would say calmly, “Look at their face. They are sad. It made them sad when you did xyz. You need to say sorry and make it right.” I start this around age two. I believe it helps them to develop an awareness and empathy for others. I have only just recently started letting my 5 and 7 year old work out conflict on their own. And it has, honestly, been a joy to hear them both state their opinions on a situation and come to their own compromises. It really makes all that hard work I did when they were younger worth it. I also really take the time to explain to the older kids that those younger than them are still learning. That we have to be patient and teach them. This is especially poignant, as I call my now 2 year old the toddleriest toddler I ever had. He is in his learning stage, and my older two often have to give him grace when they don’t initially feel like it. That is also a good life lesson.

Nurturing the Heart

Thirdly, to the best of our ability, we parent the hearts of our children and not just their behavior. If one child is going through a phase where they’re repeatedly getting frustrated and yelling at another child, we not only address the behavior but also get to the reason as to why said child is frustrated and yelling. We actually dealt with this recently. The frustrated child was yelling because they felt like their sibling wasn’t listening. After talking about appropriate ways to express frustration (yelling at people not being one of them), we followed through and talked to the sibling about the importance of active listening and how it hurts people’s feelings when they don’t feel heard. This is only the most recent example. It takes a lot more work on the front end. It would be so much less effort for me to just separate the two kids and have a blanket “no yelling” statement and then move on. But if we had only responded to the behavior of the first child, we would have missed a teaching moment for the second child. We always try to keep the goal of nurturing sibling relationships in mind during conflict resolution.

Family Culture

Lastly, we do our best to instill a team spirit into our family culture. I really credit my husband with this one. He loves being part of a team. Therefore, we don’t allow our kids to compete against each other. We tell our kids to use team work to complete a task, whether it’s chores or just playing a game. When calling my kids collectively, I will say “team Sewell, it’s time to go (or what ever).” This, I hope, just gives them the little reminder that we are all on the same team. Always. We don’t pit them against each other – ever. Even when playing games.

I think the big take away in nurturing sibling relationships is that we have decided that this is a priority in our family. We put a lot of our parenting energy into this. We tell our kids that they are “forever best friends,” and we mean that with our whole heart.

I would love LOVE to hear how you nurture sibling relationships with you kids. Share what has worked in your family, so we can learn from each other.