About Robin

Robin has two daughters, a son, a lovely husband who works many more than full-time hours and a full-time career of her own in government in the suburbs of Washington, DC. You can always read more about Robin’s parenting philosophies and her family’s antics and adventures at her personal blog The Not-Ever-Still Life, or find her on Facebook or Twitter.

Artists in residence: Giuseppe Arcimboldo and you

The following is by contributor Robin Zipporah of The Not-Ever-Still Life.

Last week I introduced this new series, Artists in Residence. Are you excited to begin an earnest conversation with your kids about art? Let’s go.

Meet artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

May I present you two of his paintings:

Photo by Wikipedia
Spring, 1573, Musee de Louvre, Paris.

Photo by Wikipedia
Vertumnus, 1590-91, Skokloster Castle, Sweden.

[Read more…]

Artists in residence

The following is by contributor Robin Zipporah of The Not-Ever-Still Life.

This is my first favorite painting. I’ve since had many others, but you always remember your first loves, right? It’s called Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash by Giacomo Balla from 1912. It hangs in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, not far from my childhood home.  I first saw it when I was four or five. I’d stand before it and stare.

Do you talk to your kids about art? When we look at art with our children and discuss what they see, we build important skills that carry over into the rest of their education. Talking about visual arts promotes critical thinking as well as language and literary skills. Talking about art, where everyone holds a different opinion and everyone sees something different, promotes asserting one’s opinion and respecting someone else’s. It activates engagement, debate, and learning to understand multiple perspectives. And it’s fun!

I’m an art historian and mama of three young kids. And I want to walk you through talking with your favorite small people about art. Children make excellent art appreciators. So today I’m introducing a new series to Simple Kids: Artists in Residence. 

[Read more…]

Six tips for starting kindergarten

The following is by contributor Robin Zipporah of The Not-Ever-Still Life.

Are you and your precious baby about to embark on that journey known as formal education? Are you a little nervous? My sweet eldest starts 1st grade in two weeks, which means we’re kindergarten experts. She’s shy and anxious (and frankly I’m a little shy and anxious) and kindergarten is such a BIG change from everything that comes before it. But if we could do this, you can do this! Here’s my advice:

Practice

Envision the toughest parts: are they getting out of the car? Letting go of each other’s hands at the bus stop? Go stand on that corner of sidewalk and hold hands and let go a dozen times. Say fake-goodbyes. Role-play until you giggle.

Ask to visit your classroom. Walk the halls from the front door to class, and from class to the nearest bathroom. Take pictures when you’re there, and look at them from home. Imagine coloring at the blue table and sitting on the circle rug for morning meeting. Imagine what a school day looks like in that space.

[Read more…]

Sew together, grow together

The following post is by contributor Robin Zipporah of The Not-Ever-Still Life.

Feeling a need to challenge myself in a new way, I began sewing a few months ago. I’ve had a dream for years to make a quilt for our bed so I signed up for a sewing class, began reading quilting blogs, and finally turned on the sewing machine I received four years ago and figured out how to make it run.

Our learning curve

It’s been so much fun, so humbling, and utterly fascinating to my kids. They’re my biggest cheerleaders, and with their witness to my attempts at this new-to-me medium, three really interesting things have happened:

They believe in me so I believe in me.  They’re too little to care that my straight stitch isn’t really all that straight or that I lopped the points off my pieced triangles. They ooh and ahh over every little project I complete with genuine admiration.

Sewing has become an opportunity to model the lessons I patiently encourage them with every day: Take your time. Read the instructions. Work carefully. Do your best.

[Read more…]

Literacy skills: practicing without practice

The following post is by contributor Robin Zipporah of Not-Ever-Still.

My sweet kindergarten girl is a beginning reader. She can read almost anything, slowly, as long as she doesn’t get frustrated or lose patience. Her handwriting is the same – it’s quite good, really, but sometimes when she’s tired or hurrying she still transposes those Bs and Ds or draws a backwards 9.

She’s like many smart kids, I think – she’s quite capable but she has perfectionist tendencies and because she is bright, she’s not accustomed enough to confronting challenge. Put those two qualities together, and sometimes she gives up entirely too easily. She wants help or declares her disinterest in favor of coloring or another activity.

So I’ve been intentionally building in little bits of reading and writing practice into our regular daily activities…without, you know, really drawing attention to the fact that we’re practicing anything. They aren’t drastic and they don’t take too much time; mostly they’re little ways of changing our routines. And as a bonus, they’re so much more than reading and writing activities – they’re fostering self-sufficiency and confidence in my girl.

Here are a few of my favorites:

[Read more…]