At-Home Activities That Support Your Tween’s Learning

At-Home Activities That Support Your Tween's Learning

Elementary teacher Wendy Garza, MEd, provides a variety of simple, engaging and practical activities parents can do at home with their tween (kids ages 9-12) to support their academic learning. Wendy gives tips on using children’s interests to drive fun inquiry-based learning projects, provides methods for engaging children when practicing reading, and discusses the benefits of getting your child into the kitchen!

About Wendy Garza, MEd

Wendy is a bilingual special education teacher at The Parish School in Houston. She received her Master’s in education from the University of Texas – Arlington with a focus on best practices and strategies for teaching early literacy to children with autism and developmental delays. Wendy has experience working in public school as an elementary general education and resource room teacher and as a middle school history and economics teacher at a South Korea boarding school.

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Stephanie (00:06):

Hello, and welcome to Unbabbled a podcast that navigates the world of special education, communication, delays, and learning differences. We are your hosts, Stephanie Landis and Meredith Krimmel, and we're certified speech-language pathologists who spend our days at the parish school in Houston, helping children find their voices and connect with the world around them. In this episode, we chat with elementary teacher, Wendy Garza. Wendy provides a variety of simple engaging and practical activities parents can do at home with their upper elementary-aged children to support academic learning. Wendy is a special education teacher at the parish school in Houston, Texas. She received her master's of education from the University of Texas-Arlington with a focus on teaching early literacy to children with autism and developmental delays. She has experienced working in the public school as a general elementary education and resource room teacher, and as a middle school of history and economics teacher at a boarding school in South Korea. Throughout the episode, Wendy gives tips on how to use your child's interests to drive fun, inquiry-based learning projects, simple but effective ways to engage children with practicing reading and leaves us with wonderfully encouraging words of advice.

Stephanie (01:24):

Welcome. We're so excited. Today's episode is focusing on activities to do at home for upper elementary students. And we have one of our very own Parish School teachers, Wendy Garza here with us today. Welcome Wendy.

Wendy (01:35):

Thank you for having me. I'm so happy to be here.

Stephanie (01:37):

So you are new to Parish, but not new to the world of teaching. Can you give us a little bit of what got you into teaching?

Wendy (01:44):

So this is my eighth year teaching. I started teaching a while back. I actually started at a boarding school in South Korea, and while there I taught middle school world history and I had a lot of great experiences there and kind of what led me onto that path is I've, I've always had an interest in working with students. And at the time I thought, Oh, I want to work with the older kids. And so that opportunity kind of just jumped up. And so I took it, um, and it was a great year. I had a lot of fun and from teaching at the boarding school in Korea, I moved back to Houston and I started teaching in Cy-Fair ISD and I was there for five years. And for the entire five years I was there, I taught, well, the first half I was there, I taught first grade. And then I transitioned to resource where I taught K through five reading and math, which was really exciting. And then over the summer I found my way here to Parish. And it's been great.

Stephanie (02:42):

From a boarding school, The Parish School you've had a wide range of experiences. That's so funny. The boarding school, where you with the kids just during the day, or did you see them outside of classroom time?

Wendy (02:53):

I saw them 24 seven. So it was a really interesting arrangement that they have there, the kind of acted as parents. And so I actually lived in the dorm rooms with the students, I had my own room, um, but I was kind of in charge of them after school. And our day went from about 7:30 in the morning to about 8:30 at night. And so throughout the day I had breaks, but, um, I would run study hall, I'd have breakfast, lunch, and dinner with them. It truly was like a big family there. And so, yeah, I, I spent most of my days with the kids there.

Meredith (03:28):

I imagine that gave a lot of opportunities to, to try out some different ideas of activities to do with them at home.

Wendy (03:35):

Oh, absolutely. So because this boarding school didn't allow technology. We had a lot of different times where we had, we had downtime where I would have to figure something out, kind of on the fly, like, Ooh, what are we going to do right now? So we did come up with a lot of different, fun activities there that I've been able to take with me back here, um, that I'm really excited to share. And I think another fun, little tidbit about that is we actually lived on a mountain. We lived outside of Seoul, but it was on a large mountain. And so you'd have to climb up and down the mountain to get to our school. So a lot of our activities involved us being outside and hiking and mountain climbing and exploring nature, which was really fun.

Stephanie (04:18):

It does sound fantastic. And a lot of that seems like it aligns with The Parish School philosophy of being outside, using hands-on activities and making sure that it's relevant in life space.

Wendy (04:29):

Oh yeah, absolutely. And I think that was what made me kind of fall in love with Parish so quickly is that it, Parish reminds me so much of my time in Korea at the boarding school because it, a lot of our curriculum was based on going outside and exploring nature and finding different ways to problem solve kind of those Social Thinking aspects. So when I came to Parish, it was really surprising that I was able to find a school that had so many of the qualities I saw at my school in Korea.

Meredith (05:00):

That's cool. We've, we've been compared to a lot of different places, but Korea is not one of them. First check that off the list.

Stephanie (05:07):

I am excited to hear about some of your ideas that move away from technology, because I think that once we get home as parents, it is often easier when you got to get dinner done and your own work, and you got to hit an email sent or other things to just let them play the game on the iPad, especially since that's what they're drawn to and wanting to do. And iPads don't make messes and there's very little prep work involved and there's no glitter everywhere afterward, but I think it's also great to have some go-to activities that parents can use that will help support their child. That doesn't have to be just worksheets, but isn't also an iPad or another movie or the video game. So I'm really excited to jump into those.

Wendy (05:52):

Yeah, absolutely. And I think it is, especially in the age of COVID, you know, we are spending a lot of time at home. We are spending a lot of time with technology as it is because a lot of our academic work has moved to our laptops and our i-pads and you know, living in such a big city like Houston, I feel like there's so many opportunities here to find different things that we can do. Just starting off with thinking about academics, you know, at home, there are so many things you can do as far as like reading goes. Um, I think right now a lot of kids are very inclined to like read on the iPad, using different apps, like Epic or Raz-Kids, but you know, giving your child a paper book and then giving them an objective is a great way to kind of focus their thinking on the story, but giving them a task. So when they're reading a book, even if it's a familiar book, a book they've read multiple times, giving them a task like, hey, how many adjectives can you find? Or how many verbs can you find? Who was the main character? Who are the secondary characters? Giving them graphic organizers to start organizing their thinking is also a great way to help them focus on what they're doing. And maybe think about something that's familiar, but in a different way. Um, that's something that I do in the classroom. And I've found that even those friends that may be reading, isn't their favorite thing to do. All of a sudden they have a job, they have something they have to do in that moment. And they get so focused in on what their job is that they completely forget, oh yeah, I'm reading. So I think including different activities, like that is a great way to make reading a little bit more fun and enjoyable. I think even doing things like taking what they've read and trying to apply it to life like or making connections. When was a time that you felt like the character? Or trying to do some of the things that you see in the story. So if there is a character like that's playing soccer, maybe talking to your kid about exploring the idea of playing soccer, if that's a new thing for your child, would be a fun way to continue, um, with what you're reading and bringing it to life. And that way they can continue to make a lot more connections.

Stephanie (08:03):

I love that my daughter and I just read one of the Magic Treehouse books about, I think it was baseball. And she's vaguely familiar with baseball, but it definitely sparked a new interest. And so we were able to make connections of what she knows about baseball, what she doesn't know about baseball. Uh, we went outside and set up a baseball game then outside and played. And if I found that she increased her interest in wanting to be outside and playing after spending all day virtual learning at home.

Wendy (08:31):

That sounds fun to me. I'd love to do that. Another idea that I had was I think there are so many as adults. There's so many resources that we can pull that we read. So making sure your child has a wide variety of materials to read from. It doesn't have to be a regular fiction book or a non-fiction book. You can start pulling things like cookbooks or comic books, or, you know, even the instruction set that comes in Lego packages. That would be a great thing to have your child to start reading and exploring and seeing what information they can find in materials like that.

Meredith (09:06):

I love that you say that I actually know someone who learned to read by reading baseball cards.

Wendy (09:10):


Meredith (09:10):

That wasn't their interest. They were reading the back of baseball cards and that's really how they learned to read. And they, their parent took that interest and, and used it to teach, teach a skill because you've mentioned it. You have to make it fun. Yes.

Stephanie (09:24):

I also found that when we introduced the idea of Sketchnoting, a lot of the kids asked to do it and like to do it. They like drawing out what they see in the book, especially as the text gets longer and the pictures become less frequent in the books. Then the kids have a way of, you know, visualizing what's going on in the story and making it relevant to them. And they have an activity to do and a job to do while they're, while reading, because reading stamina can be hard to build up for some of our kids and giving them an end point is always nice and giving them some other activity to do while they're doing it.

Wendy (09:59):

Oh yeah, absolutely. I think making it fun, making sure that they have an objective or something that they're doing while they're reading for a lot of kids is really beneficial. One thing we did in the Sparrows class is, and this was kind of just, we had a few minutes and I was just thinking, let's try this. We were working on sequencing and I just gave them some index cards. I gave each kid like five index cards. Everybody had their own book. And I said, you're going to retell your book to your friend. You're going to use your index card to draw a picture on each page because we have some friends that maybe didn't want to write some sentences, write words, and that's fine. So we drew pictures and we put our pictures in order of what happened in the book. And then we just kind of showed each other, the pictures and we use the pictures as a guide to help retell what was happening in the book. And it was so much fun and the kids loved it and they keep asking like, when are we going to do that again? That was a really fun activity that we did that helped incorporate sequencing. They had to reread the text and they were really into it, which was great for me.

Stephanie (11:01):

That reminds me of something one of our other SLPs on campus did. She recently broke her foot and had surgery and the kids were asking a ton of questions. And so she turned the retelling into an activity and she turned her personal retelling and narrative into something where they like drew note that your, the story and sequenced it out. And then she had them retell her what happened. And then later in the day I saw one of the kids and they were able to retell me what happened to her. And I think bringing in personal narratives is a great way to get kids excited or into things. I know that, you know, myself as a child and my own daughter now enjoys making her own stories much more when they're about her, like shocking, we're all self-centered or retelling a story that's about a neighbor or, you know, something that happened and personal narratives can bring that in. So they're still working on a lot of those language goals and the sequencing, all of that without the pressure of having to read and decode.

Wendy (11:56):

Oh, absolutely. I know for a lot of, a lot of parents have come to me with the concern of sequencing and a lot of those language goals and ways that they can help them at home. And I know one other way to incorporate those skills would be, you know, when your child is reading, if they come upon an unfamiliar word, writing that word on an index card, a sentence strip piece of paper, whatever you might have, and then taping that word somewhere like a refrigerator. And then coming upon that word, just, you know, throughout the day, like, Hey, what was that? Or if the word is something that's in the house, like lamp, just for example, taking it to the lamp and just saying, Hey, you know, what was that? And then having that conversation throughout the day of like, Oh yeah, I know that word. That was something we did with me because English actually wasn't one of the language spoken at my house, but we had multiple language spoken. So I was actually considered ESL. And that's how I increased my vocabulary as a child, taping pictures around the house, taking pictures around the house, using flashcards. Um, I remember I had one teacher who realized that I was having a little bit of a struggle understanding certain nouns. So she did that in the classroom. And I even as a teacher now, like I think about that and I'm like, that was so nice to have her voice really helpful to me, but just putting those words around the house and in turn that helped with my comprehension because when I was reading, I would think, Oh, I know what that is. Oh, shelf. I know what a shelf is. And then when I read, I was able to pull that knowledge into what I was reading.

Meredith (13:23):

Earlier Stephanie mentioned putting the iPad on when you're cooking, which I know a lot of us do, but cooking can be a great activity to work on academics and language skills at home. Do you have any ideas of how we can bring our kids in the kitchen?

Wendy (13:35):

Yeah, absolutely. I actually was looking for a cookbook to send to my cousin who's much younger than me and she's, I think she's about to turn seven. Um, and I found this cookbook called the Complete Cookbooks for Young Chefs. And what I really love about that cookbook is that it has visuals for each recipe and it breaks down each steps into manageable chunks for younger chefs who are interested in cooking and has tasks that a younger chef can do with a parent. Um, and so I think using resources like that, or even, um, you know, a student working with a parent in the kitchen and doing step-by-step tasks would be a great way to incorporate language skills and incorporate new vocabulary in the kitchen.

Stephanie (14:22):

And math science...

Wendy (14:23):

And fractions and all of those great things.

Stephanie (14:27):

Executive functioning. That's one of my favorite ways to teach executive functioning is through cooking because previous years of before, COVID, we could do cooking in the classroom. If we didn't get all of our stuff ahead of time, I just keep going and then it mess up and they'd be like, Oh, this is disgusting. And I'm like, Oh, well, what do we need to do different next time? And now we're working on flexibility.

Wendy (14:52):

And I bet for a lot of those picky eaters, that's a great way to incorporate new foods. If you give them ownership of, you know, Hey, why don't we make this? Will you help me? And then being part of the process might entice them a bit more to try some new unfamiliar.

Meredith (15:05):

Absolutely. My daughter helped make peas at Thanksgiving, and it was like the only thing she ate on her plate for the whole Thanksgiving. But I think she felt so proud and literally they were frozen peas. Put it in the microwave. I mean, nothing special, but we're going to need that recipe. It was her favorite thing on her plate. And I am convinced it's because she helped prepare it. Yeah.

Wendy (15:26):

Yeah. I think a lot of times when you let kids have ownership or be a part of the process, they're all of a sudden, a little bit more enticed to try a little bit more interested in what's happening. And, you know, I, I think cooking for a lot of kids might seem like a very overwhelming task, but breaking it down into small chunks, giving them a little job that they can do, or, you know, just making them a part of the process. I think all of a sudden they're like, Ooh, I made this look what I did. Yeah.

Stephanie (15:53):

That cooking with kids doesn't have to be a long, multiple step thing. It can be something as simple as, you know, making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a quesadilla or a grilled cheese. One year we had the kids take ownership of our cooking time and they got to pick really short, simple recipes. And then we made a cookbook and all of them wrote out the steps of these really short recipes. And I'm telling you, it was like how to make hot cocoa, but just getting it all organized and writing it out. And they drew the pictures and then they binded it and had their own cookbook. It was fantastic. And they all went through and they had to do the handwriting and the spelling and the math and the sequencing and getting it in order and projects like that are so enticing for kids. And it's, it is a fun way to get them to use all those skills that we want to at home without, you know, just badgering them.

Wendy (16:50):

Absolutely. And at my last campus, we actually did this, um, activity where as a grade level we made applesauce. And so we research what's in applesauce, cause applesauce was a food. Most kids like what's in applesauce. And, you know, it's so funny because everybody's answer was apples. And so then my question was just apples. You think it's just apples? Or do you think there are other things? And so we researched, we found the book, we looked into it, we found a cookbook and we compared the different ingredients. And we talked about what ingredients we would want in our Apple sauce. And it was really funny by the end they were like, I think I want cinnamon in it. And cinnamon was an unfamiliar food for a lot of these kids. Um, but they were like, I want to try cinnamon. And so we, we brought a Crock-Pot and we peel the apples, we cut them up. We talked about which order we would put everything in, how long should we cook the Apple sauce? And by the end of the day, it smelled so good that everybody was just dying to try it. Um, so that was a really fun activity cooking activity that we did. And simple, simple, simple. Yeah. Great.

Stephanie (17:54):

But it had the whole process in it, the whole like researching, deciding, finding the materials, all of that. Yeah. Cooking doesn't have to be complex complex. It can be really simple with these kids in there. And actually I find the more simple it is, the more they're willing to try it.

Wendy (18:10):

Absolutely. You know, one thing we did in my class, because we can't use the microwave this year is a lot of the kids are having a hard time with the idea of a cold lunch. You know, whether it's a sandwich or a Lunchable or crackers or something, they, that was just a block that a lot of these kids had in their head. So we brainstormed what are some foods we could eat for lunch? And a lot of kids said, very interesting ideas. Like we have somebody that said, Oh, tamales would be a great lunch food. I was like, yeah, absolutely. Um, by the end, we had this list of about 50 different things, but I think everybody started thinking about lunch in a different way. At first it was like, Oh man, I can't bring hot food. And the conversation turned into, Oh, wow, I'm really excited to try this for lunch. I'm going to ask if we can, if we can make this at home so I could have it for lunch to show my friends.

Meredith (19:00):

I love that. I think brainstorming is such a great activity to work on so many language and academic goals. Um, even at home, if your kid is complaining about dinner or lunch, that's a great idea as a family to brainstorm things you could make or things you could pack for lunch.

Wendy (19:16):

Absolutely. And I think brainstorming can kind of venture off into so many different avenues. You know, one thing I was thinking about as far as brainstorming goes, was giving kids a prompt, like brainstorming different ways you can help the environment. And that could lead to conversations about recycling conservation, um, things like that, that the ways to help others in the community. And so I absolutely agree. Brainstorming is a, is a great tool to use for lots of different reasons.

Stephanie (19:46):

And to piggyback on that, a lot of our upper elementary students are learning how to navigate the internet and look up research questions and figure out, you know, how to ask Google the right words, to get things out and starting to figure out how to go through those processes that getting your kids involved in something where they have to research is a fantastic way to get them to sneak in again, those reading and writing and other skills in a way that's going to get them excited to find the answer.

Meredith (20:16):

Yeah. When you make it functional in real life, it feels so much more doable. I feel like when it, when academic tests are done in a vacuum, in a workbook, it feels like you're slugging through it, but the goal is something that you enjoy or a product that you can use. I think you'll find that the children are so much more motivated.

Wendy (20:35):

Absolutely. And kind of going with that, I think having a product and when you are looking at these activities that you can do at home, having something that does include an end product, I think is another really important part. As far as finding something that your kid might enjoy and giving them that sense of accomplishment like, wow, this is what I made. This is what I was able to do during this amount of time.

Stephanie (20:57):

So if you're thinking of a project within the classroom, are these things that you just think of off the top of your head, or are there resources or other places that you tend to go to when you're thinking how to get kids involved or project-based and longterm outlooks that parents might be able to easily, you know, Google or look up or have a reference to.

Wendy (21:17):

A lot of planning goes into the project, but like long-term big projects that we do as far as where they come from. I always start with a TEK. And then I build upon that TEK and I find resources. And I think about a way to bring that to life. And it's usually a month-long process from the TEK to whatever the end goal is.

Stephanie (21:38):

So for parents at home that don't have like TEKS, is there somewhere like you saying research, something like, think about the, how we could help the environment or how we could recycle, or maybe it was even just how we could recycle, reuse this giant refrigerator box that we have, or like as a parent, sometimes I hit a creative block at home with thinking of these projects on my own. It seems really simple for people with wonderful brains like you, but a lot of us, once we get home, we're like, Oh, I wish I had a go-to place for ideas.

Wendy (22:13):

I think starting with what your child is interested in and then moving from there would be the key. As far as finding some, finding a project that you would want your child to do. Like if your child is interested in recycling, I think looking more into ways you can recycle what, what is recycling. I would start there and then talking about different ways people recycle in the world that way they can have a connection to the world. And then looking at ways that from your home, you can begin recycling. And that might turn into a bigger project. I know in my previous school, we had talked about recycling and we jumped right in by talking about first, what is recycling? How do people recycle in the world? What is the consequence of not recycling? And then we talked about ways we could use ways we could recycle classroom materials so they're not just being thrown away. And what we came up with was actually really interesting. We said it was really wasteful that everyday at lunch, all the kids would get a milk carton and we would just throw it away. And then somebody brought up the idea of what can we do with the milk carton. And so we brainstormed, we research and we did use, um, online platforms like Epic to find books. And we did go to our school library to find other books on recycling and different ways to reuse materials. And somebody came up with the idea of reusing the milk carton as a pencil box. And that idea led to reusing the milk carton as a purse, which led to the idea of reusing the milk carton as a bird feeder. So all of these ideas kind of connected to each other. And by the end of the month, um, we had all sorts of interesting milk cartons in the classroom, holding pencils. Some students were using them in their desks to hold materials. Um, one student was able to turn it into a bird feeder and hang it on a tree filled with bird seeds. And we were able to see birds eat from it, which was really cool. But that one idea of what can we do with this milk carton turned into all these little projects that we did within the classroom.

Meredith (24:24):

It sounds like starting with a question or a problem. Yes. And then following that into a project usually ends up being a really productive activity

Stephanie (24:33):

And starting with things they're interested in, it gives they're already interested in Legos or art or something else. You can use that as a jumping board of sorts.

Meredith (24:44):

Yeah. I just think about how many times around my house. I think that I wish I could figure this out or solve this problem. And it seems like a great way to involve the family and see if you could make an activity with older kids. Yeah.

Wendy (24:54):

Oh yeah, absolutely. And I think being okay with like making mess, being okay with the idea that, you know, and I think explain to your child, the, your first attempt at this project may not be successful and that's okay. Not everybody is successful the first time, but you keep trying figure out what went wrong, keep moving forward, fix the problem. And eventually you will have an end project that you are happy with that you're excited about to share. So just encouraging your kids to keep going forward with these projects.

Stephanie (25:24):

Hmm. I like that we spent a good portion of last spring coming up with four different ways to make a squirrel proof bird feeder. It didn't work, but we had a lot of fun doing it and, uh, came up with some really wacky ways and ideas of how we could keep these away from the squirrels and have the birds. But we learned a lot about science and physics and squirrels and how amazing of jumpers and climbers squirrels are that we didn't know before. And it was, uh, it was interesting and a lot of fun and something that I wouldn't have thought of on my own, but somehow my daughter wanted to feed the birds and was mad that squirrels kept getting it. So I was like, okay. Yeah.

Wendy (26:08):

I love that idea. And I think starting with problems that you might have around your house and giving that as you know, your child, like, Hey, we have this problem. What are your ideas? What else can we do these, these are the things we've tried. What do you think, um, could be a solution and just seeing where that takes you.

Stephanie (26:26):

So when we were talking before we started recording, you mentioned that oftentimes you encourage families do volunteering type activities. Can you give us more information on that or why you think that can be so beneficial?

Wendy (26:38):

You know, I think by the time a kid hits lower elementary age, which is about seven, you know, I do think they're ready to start having a conversation about how we're all connected in the world and how different people have different resources available to them. So I really think volunteering and explaining to your child, the importance of volunteering is, is a great conversation to have at this age. Um, one of the volunteer opportunities I found was called the birthday party project. So it is for kids ages 4 and up, they do need to have an adult with them, but the whole mission of the birthday party project is to bring joy to children experiencing homelessness through the magic of a birthday party. And it's hard, I think for a lot of kids to think about the idea that some kids don't have birthday parties and explaining to them that through this organization, they work to make sure everyone has that feeling, that special feeling on your birthday. And so what they do is they organize events for children, including birthday parties, balloons, decorations. So they have that full experience and volunteers help with that. They help facilitate, organize. Um, they can help with gifts right now because of COVID the way they're running their organization is a little bit different. When you go onto their website, you are able to send virtual birthday cards to the, um, people that they support. And you are able to view, uh, children's wishlists to, um, buy preasants, if that's something that you would like to do. And so that would be a great way to have your child volunteer their time, either making a birthday card for another child that they don't know. Um, or if you guys wanted to look at the wishlist and explain that you wanted to buy a present for this child, that you don't know, but who may not get presents otherwise, um, I think would be a great way to include your child in the idea of helping others.

Stephanie (28:36):

I like that we had a child a few years ago on campus and she was just so drawn to animals and she had a lot of anxiety and difficulties. And we found that with working through the mom and encouraging them to volunteer at their local rescue and animal shelter, we just saw such a big difference in her confidence. And she was then able to come and she gave a little mini presentation to the class about like what she was learning there and why she enjoyed it so much. And it just really brought out a new side of her that volunteering can just bring out in kids and challenge them in new ways and give them some self-confidence too.

Wendy (29:17):

Totally. And, and helping them think about others and helping them start, you know, understanding that you can feel good about yourself by helping others feel good about themselves.

Meredith (29:27):

You know, what a great perspective taking activity.

Wendy (29:29):

Yeah. So another organization is called books between kids. It's a local organization and their mission is basically just to provide books to kids. They want every child Houston to have books. So they have this huge warehouse where they collect donated books, um, or they collect books from the community. They organize the books and then they host events where they give out these books to kids to make sure that everybody has appropriate reading material, because that's another conversation to have with the kids. Like not everybody has books and books are really important part of growing up and learning. And so I love the idea that, you know, they're putting books in the hands of children across Houston. And so through this volunteer, um, organization, you can work in their white house, you can organize the books, you can help distribute books. I love the concept of this. And I love the idea that they're sharing the joy of reading with Houston.

Stephanie (30:31):

That's fantastic. Over Thanksgiving, we have been looking for our own child to do some volunteer stuff, and we found Generation Serve, which is here in Houston. And they have during COVID both in-person. And a lot of online, we chose to do an online service project and it was as simple as have a neighborhood food drive. And so my poor daughter, she was all excited about doing neighborhood food, dive. And I was like, great, well, what materials do we need? All right, well, how are you going to get those? How are we going to tell people what we're doing? All right, well, now you have to write the letter. I let her type it. So she didn't have to write the letter handwritten over and over again. And then I put her in charge. She had to figure out how we would go and get all the food from our neighbors. And this particular project wanted you to sort all of the food beforehand. And I was like, fantastic. Now you have to sort and do all these categories. And then my husband made her add them all up and do all those extra math. And now the poor girl has to write thank you notes to all of our neighbors, but, uh, she actually really liked it. And it was a way to keep her engaged over the Thanksgiving break in doing some of these academic tasks without making her sit down and either do worksheets or get online again and do one of the projects. And she actually felt really, really proud of herself. She was so excited and I found that it really gave her a lot of self-confidence also going into it. And we enjoyed it as a family.

Wendy (31:53):

I love that. I love the idea of like bringing what these organizations are doing into your home and then trying to take it back into the community.

Stephanie (32:02):

Well, I'm looking forward to taking a lot of those ideas and trying them both at home and in the classroom too. So thank you for that. At the end of every podcast, we ask our guests one question. If you had a piece of advice to give to our listeners, what would it be.

Wendy (32:15):

I think my biggest piece of advice I could give to the listeners of this wonderful podcast is just make sure you're praising your child. You know, whether they're successful or not. If they're trying praise your child, make sure that they know that you're proud of them, that you know, you're excited for what they're learning about and that you want to be a part of what they're learning. Oh, that's great. Yeah.

Meredith (32:39):

I love the idea of praising the effort versus the product. Absolutely so. Well, thank you so much, Wendy. It was so great to have you on.

Wendy (32:46):

Thank you for having me. I really loved the experience.

Meredith (32:52):

Thank you for listening to the Unbabbled podcast. For more information on today's episode, please see our episode description for more information on The Parish School, visit If you're not already, don't forget to subscribe to the Unbabbled podcast on your app of choice. And if you like what you're hearing, be sure to leave a rating and review a special thank you to Stig Daniels, Amanda Arnold and Stella Limuel for all their hard work behind the scenes. Thanks again for listening.