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Introducing Ask Amy | A BLOG for Inspiration & Information

"If you would like to discuss all things concerning parenting and academics, please send me an email with a question or comment by clicking on the Ask Amy button below."

Amy Reed-Ferguson is an Early Childhood Educator and

PBS KIDS Early Learning Champion 2021.

As an unschooling mom of two grown children and a life-long learner, Amy has many interests (from sewing to Permaculture), life experiences, and a strong desire to facilitate exploration and learning. She has a deeply held belief that people learn when they are intrigued, are with others who are passionate, and are able to have the freedom and time to “peel” through the layers of a subject. As a PBS KIDS Early Learning Champion, Amy partners with PBS KIDS and KBTC Public Television to help support families in their educational journeys because parents are a child's first teacher, and they should feel empowered to engage in their children’s life-long learning.

Question: Hi there, I'm a first-time homeschooling parent, and I have a second grader. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with where to start. How do you suggest I begin planning our homeschooling journey for the second grade?

Welcome to the world of homeschooling! It's completely natural to feel overwhelmed in the beginning. The key is to start with a clear plan that suits your child's needs and your family's lifestyle. Begin by researching your state's homeschooling laws and requirements. You can find them here: Homeschool Laws By State (

Once you're familiar with those, take some time to understand your child's learning style and interests. This will help you tailor the curriculum and approach to best engage them. There are so many learning styles! You may be familiar with the three broad categories in which people learn: visual learning, auditory learning, and kinesthetic learning. But beyond these three categories, many theories of and approaches toward human learning potential have been established. Among them is the theory of multiple intelligences developed by Howard Gardner, Ph.D., John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Research Professors of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. Gardner’s early work in psychology and later in human cognition and human potential led to his development of the initial six intelligences.

Today there are nine intelligences, and the possibility of others may eventually expand the list.

Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Summarized 1. Verbal-linguistic intelligence (well-developed verbal skills and sensitivity to the sounds, meanings and rhythms of words)

2. Logical-mathematical intelligence (ability to think conceptually and abstractly, and capacity to discern logical and numerical patterns)

3. Spatial-visual intelligence (capacity to think in images and pictures, to visualize accurately and abstractly)

4. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence (ability to control one’s body movements and to handle objects skillfully)

5. Musical intelligences (ability to produce and appreciate rhythm, pitch and timber)

6. Intra-personal intelligence (capacity to detect and respond appropriately to the moods, motivations and desires of others)

7. Interpersonal (capacity to be self-aware and in tune with inner feelings, values, beliefs and thinking processes)

8. Naturalist intelligence (ability to recognize and categorize plants, animals and other objects in nature)

9. Existential intelligence (sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence such as, “What is the meaning of life? Why do we die? How did we get here?”

For a second grader, I would focus on fundamental subjects like Math, English Language Arts (ELA), Science, and Social Studies. You don't need to recreate a traditional classroom – flexibility is one of homeschooling's great strengths. You can choose from various curriculum options, such as textbooks, online resources, or even creating your own lesson plans. You can also follow a more relaxed style of homeschooling called Unschooling. This is what worked for my family and you can read more about our unschooling experience in an “Ask Amy” article below. If you want to know your state’s standards to ensure that your child is learning the expected things for each grade level, you can visit the Common Core State Standards Initiative (, as most states have adopted them for public schools.

PBS has an amazing resource for teachers that work really well for homeschooling families called PBS LearningMedia | Teaching Resources For Students And Teachers When you create a free account, you will be able to access over 30,000 lesson plans, media resources, and more which have been created and vetted by trusted PBS educators. These resources are aligned to your state’s standards and you can filter them by grade and subject. You can create folders and save resources to help you teach new concepts to your curious second grader! You might also find help and inspiration in the article How Homeschooling Parents Use PBS KIDS. Be sure to look into local homeschooling groups for support and resources, too.

Consistency is key when you first begin homeschooling.

Create a weekly schedule that includes designated learning times, breaks, and extracurricular activities.

Keep the atmosphere positive and adaptable.

Your child's progress might not always follow a strict timeline, and that's okay. As you become more comfortable, you can loosen or even lose “learning times”. Everyday life experiences, your child’s interests, and daily activities will provide an amazing amount of learning.

Make use of your local library, museums, parks, and other community resources for hands-on learning experiences.

Don't hesitate to adapt and tweak your plan as you see what works best for your child. Over time, you'll find a rhythm that suits your family, and you'll see how wonderfully homeschooling allows you to personalize your child's education.

Take a deep breath and enjoy the journey! It's an incredible opportunity to bond with your child and explore the world of learning together. You've got this!

As a child, I vividly remember being a little girl who felt overwhelmed by emotions but lacked the understanding to express them properly. As I grew older, I realized the significance of emotional intelligence, both in personal relationships and professional success. As a kindergarten teacher, I was wholeheartedly committed to nurturing emotional intelligence in my young students because I firmly believe that it is a vital skill for their success in the 21st century.

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to recognize, understand, manage, and express our emotions effectively.

In an ever-evolving world that values empathy, adaptability, and resilience, emotional intelligence has become an essential cornerstone for young children to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.

At a tender age, children are like sponges, soaking up experiences and learning from their surroundings. As they interact with peers and teachers, their social and emotional skills are constantly developing. Here are some examples of how emotional intelligence empowers young children to succeed:

1. Empathy and Compassion: Emotional intelligence helps children understand and share the feelings of others. When a child can empathize with a classmate who is sad or frustrated, they are more likely to offer comfort and support, creating a nurturing classroom environment.

2. Effective Communication: Emotional intelligence encourages open and honest communication. Children who can express their feelings and thoughts confidently find it easier to seek help, collaborate with others, and resolve conflicts peacefully.

3. Self-Regulation: Emotional intelligence enables children to manage their emotions constructively. They learn to cope with disappointment, handle frustration, and control their impulses, leading to improved focus and better decision-making skills.

4. Resilience and Adaptability: Life is full of ups and downs, and emotional intelligence equips children to bounce back from setbacks and adapt to new situations. This resilience helps them navigate challenges with confidence and determination.

5. Building Positive Relationships: Developing emotional intelligence fosters positive social interactions. Children learn to build and maintain meaningful friendships, essential for creating a supportive network throughout their lives.

6. Conflict Resolution: Emotional intelligence teaches children to approach conflicts with understanding and respect. They learn to listen actively, find common ground, and seek solutions that benefit everyone involved.

7. Self-Awareness: Emotional intelligence encourages self-reflection, enabling children to recognize their strengths, weaknesses, and emotions. This self-awareness forms the foundation for personal growth and continuous improvement.

As a kindergarten teacher, I witnessed firsthand how emotional intelligence profoundly impacted my students. I saw the confident child who kindly consoled a friend with a smile, the resilient child who bravely persisted through challenging tasks, and the empathetic child who actively included everyone in play.

These social and emotional skills are like seeds sown in fertile soil, destined to grow and shape the successful adults of tomorrow.

Nurturing emotional intelligence in young children is not just a passing trend; it is a crucial investment in their future. As parents, teachers, and caregivers, we have the responsibility to support their emotional development actively. By fostering empathy, effective communication, self-regulation, resilience, positive relationships, conflict resolution, and self-awareness, we empower our children to face the challenges of the 21st century with courage, compassion, and unwavering confidence.

Together, let us pave the way for a brighter future, where emotional intelligence is celebrated and cherished as the foundation for lifelong success.

When I was a child, no one told me that I could be a leader, nor was I taught what a leader might look like or the skills that they might possess. In my head, a leader was always a man who did something in which history would remember him. An explorer, a president, or the founder of a large corporation. Therefore, I did not pursue leadership positions. Run for student council? No way! Who would want to listen to my ideas? Try out for head cheerleader? Nope! I'm happy to be the mascot, thanks! I had no models, no skills, and no encouragement for becoming a leader. And while I was never really a "follower" I could not envision myself as a leader.

So, imagine my surprise the first time someone told me that they appreciated my leadership!

I had to do some serious reflection on how I had become a person who others saw as a leader. I determined that seeing women who were in leadership roles and allowing them to mentor me was a huge part of the leadership style I now possess. I can only imagine what I might have accomplished at an earlier age if the adults in my life had encouraged and fostered the skills needed for becoming a leader and mentor.

In today's rapidly changing world, the ability to lead is no longer limited to a select few. Leadership skills have become increasingly important for young children to thrive in the 21st century. As parents, it is crucial to recognize the value of nurturing these skills early on, as they can greatly contribute to their children's success and prepare them for the challenges of the future.

1. Developing Self-Confidence: Leadership skills provide young children with a strong foundation of self-confidence. By encouraging them to take initiative and make decisions, parents foster their children's belief in their own abilities. This confidence empowers children to tackle new situations, overcome obstacles, and explore their full potential.

2. Enhancing Communication and Collaboration: Effective communication and collaboration are key components of leadership. When children learn to express their thoughts, listen actively, and work with others, they develop crucial interpersonal skills. These skills enable them to effectively articulate their ideas, negotiate, and build relationships, both within their personal lives and in future academic and professional settings.

3. Encouraging Critical Thinking: Leadership is closely tied to critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Children who are encouraged to think independently and analyze situations from different perspectives develop a valuable skillset. They become adept at identifying challenges, evaluating alternatives, and making informed decisions. These skills are highly sought after in the 21st-century workforce, where adaptability and innovative thinking are essential.

4. Fostering Resilience: Leadership is about resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity. Children who are exposed to leadership opportunities learn to embrace challenges as learning experiences and develop a resilient mindset. This resilience helps them bounce back from failures, learn from setbacks, and remain determined in the pursuit of their goals.

5. Cultivating Empathy and Social Awareness: Leadership is not solely about leading oneself; it also involves understanding and leading others. Developing empathy and social awareness in young children is essential for effective leadership. When children learn to empathize with others' perspectives, appreciate diversity, and exhibit kindness and compassion, they build the foundation for inclusive leadership. These qualities enable them to inspire and motivate others, creating positive change within their communities.

Instilling self-confidence, enhancing communication and collaboration, encouraging critical thinking, fostering resilience, and cultivating empathy, we equip our children with the tools they need to thrive in the 21st century. It is crucial to recognize the significance of cultivating leadership skills in young children.

These skills will not only contribute to their personal success but also prepare them to become compassionate, forward-thinking leaders who can make a positive impact on society.

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