There is a very good chance that being a single mother is not at all what you think. Here is how I really feel about being a single mother on Mother's Day and every other day of the year.

How I Really Feel about Being a Single Mother on Mother’s Day and Every Other Day of the Year

This post about my Mother’s Day in 2017 is clearly long overdue. But you know how the saying goes … Better late than never. Here is how I really feel about being a single mother on Mother’s Day.

*Sidenote: This post features the opinions of a woman who, at this point in life, only has five years of experience with raising one girl. Just in case you feel that makes a difference in what I’m going to write.

There is a very good chance that being a single mother is not at all what you think. Here is how I really feel about being a single mother on Mother's Day and every other day of the year.

This past Mother’s Day was my first one as an official single mother. I didn’t wake up to breakfast in bed or a bouquet of flowers. That’s because my daughter isn’t old enough to cook by herself and I no longer have a husband to make those things happen. Yet it was fabulous, none the less. I had a wonderful opportunity to simply relax and enjoy quality one on one time with my daughter. It was awesome! We did absolutely nothing except lounge around the house all day.

But what about your Mother’s Day brunch!? Well since you asked… “Brunch” consisted of a delicious mix of “Let’s see what we can come up with from the fridge”. The truth is this was my favorite Mother’s Day so far. There were no expectations, no agenda for the day, no pressure. I loved it!

There is a very good chance that being a single mother is not at all what you think. Here is how I really feel about being a single mother on Mother's Day and every other day of the year.

Society has placed a grossly false stereotype on single motherhood. (More specifically, single black motherhood). We aren’t all surviving on welfare with six kids in the projects while our baby daddy is locked up. That is just a plain wrong viewpoint to put on all single black mothers. I know that is true for a small percentage but it’s not my story.

God has truly blessed me to have a mindset of gratitude. Although it isn’t easy to maintain especially when I see so much of what could be considered greener grass. When I first became single I was envious of the friends whose marriages and families were still holding together. At times I felt that there was something wrong with me for not sticking it out. And of course I worried about the effects of Lily growing up with divorced parents. I mean, come on, Christians don’t get divorced!!!

There is a very good chance that being a single mother is not at all what you think. Here is how I really feel about being a single mother on Mother's Day and every other day of the year.

Fast forward to now when I’m in a place where I have come to terms with my marriage ending. Yes, there was something wrong with me; with Terry; with our friends; with the world. That something is sin. I could have stayed but I didn’t. We were two sinful people who wouldn’t step out of the comfort of our selfishness to allow God to orchestrate the structure of our marriage.

So here I am, a single mother.

Let’s go back to God blessing me with a mindset of gratitude. I love my life! I love that God moves through and all around me everyday to constantly show me all that I have to be grateful for. The most important being my daughter. I know it sounds unbelievable but being a mother (and a single mother) is fun. It’s something I thoroughly enjoy. I love my child.

There is a very good chance that being a single mother is not at all what you think. Here is how I really feel about being a single mother on Mother's Day and every other day of the year.

Not that raising Lily is a slice of cherry pie a la mode. Motherhood requires much of me on a daily basis. Loving my child means I actively stay present in her life. It means that I allow her the space to grow as an individual with a strong personality, feelings, and opinions. It means that I guide and discipline her with compassion and understanding.

Discipline usually isn’t associated with compassion but that’s what it is. To let a child live in an environment where they don’t receive proper structure and direction is reckless. Children need to be taught how to function as upstanding citizens in the world. At times these lessons are not easy to teach. Occasionally I find myself irritated or upset because Lily behaved in such a way that warranted correction when I really just wanted her to “be good” so she wouldn’t get in trouble. In reality what I’m saying is Lily’s undesirable behavior is an inconvenience to my wishes for her to always be pleasant and obedient.

There is a very good chance that being a single mother is not at all what you think. Here is how I really feel about being a single mother on Mother's Day and every other day of the year.

Unrealistic standards for anyone! Much more so for a five year old. She’s an imperfect person. Inevitably she will not follow my directions. She will break something when I told her not to touch it. She will throw a fit because I said she couldn’t watch tv. She will have to be told repeatedly to pick up her toys. And I will have to deal with each situation accordingly. That is my job as a parent. I would be doing Lily a grave disservice to overlook or ignore times when she needed correction because I just didn’t want to deal with doling out consequences. Being a good parent isn’t about  I want it’s about what Lily needs.

Also, speaking of “discipline” that leads me to another stereotype for Black America.

Black people do love their children. We hug and kiss them, play with them, read to them, help them with their homework, take care of them. We don’t spend all day giving them spankings, whoopings, beatings or whatever you call it.

There is a very good chance that being a single mother is not at all what you think. Here is how I really feel about being a single mother on Mother's Day and every other day of the year.

Ok… Back on topic… For me being a single mother means accepting, with joy, the responsibility of stewardship over my daughter’s life as she, God willing, grows into adulthood. How dare I not cherish every moment that God blesses me to have with her! Now pause to realize that it doesn’t matter if you’re single or married, black or white, male or female, to make that lifestyle choice.

Choices. Isn’t that what it breaks down to? You as a person have the choice to live however you want. Just keep in mind there are rewards or consequences for everything. I choose to love my life. My single mother life.

Thank you so much for reading! If you liked this, there’s a whole lot more where it came from! Subscribe to the blog and stay connected to My City Adventures.

Seven lessons I am currently teaching my four year old daughter that she will need for the rest of her life. - Kiara Watts, My City Adventures

Seven Lessons I Am Currently Teaching My Four Year Old Daughter that She Will Need for the Rest of Her Life

Seven Lessons I Am Currently Teaching My Four Year Old Daughter that She Will Need for the Rest of Her Life

1. Always Keep a Straight Line When Walking Across the Street

This one is more common sense based than the rest of them. Yet, just as important. We live and primarily play in the midtown/downtown areas of Kansas City, MO. I also choose to live without owning a vehicle. As a result of constantly being in such highly trafficked neighborhoods, I’ve developed a heightened sense of fear about getting hit by a car. It doubled when my daughter came along.

Seven lessons for my daughter. No. 1 Always keep a straight line when walking across the street. - Kiara Watts, My City Adventures

From the time Lily turned two and we moved to our current neighborhood I have drilled her on “rules of the road” and “car safety”. She knows to look to the left and right before crossing the street. She’s never tried to take off running away from me and possibly into oncoming traffic. If she’s playing in the middle of our street and sees a car coming she knows to get back on the sidewalk. (Don’t judge me on letting my kid play in the middle of the street. She’s being supervised. It’s a one way. Everything is OK.) She’s four now and pretty much gets it. Except for one thing. I recently started allowing her to cross the street without holding my hand. And sometimes she veers slightly to the left or right. When she does, I always yell out the same thing. “Keep a straight line!”

2. Only God is Truly Glorious

Seven lessons for my daughter. No. 2 Only God is truly glorious. - Kiara Watts, My City Adventures

The definition of glory is:

  • worshipful praise, honor, or distinction, and thanksgiving
  • a distinguished quality or asset
  • great beauty, splendor, magnificence
  • a height of prosperity or achievement

The definition of glorious is possessing or being deserving of glory. I’m unsure of exactly where this lesson came from. It may have been Lily’s Sunday School classes or a song she heard that had glorious in the lyrics. But I do remember her asking me if she was glorious some time ago. I replied by saying that “Only God is truly glorious”. She laughed and said that she WAS glorious too.  Eventually it became a game where she comes up with silly things to call glorious. Candy is glorious. Minions are glorious. However when we read a bible story or scripture with the word glory I make sure to focus on it as a way to remind her that God is glorious.

3. Treat Others with Respect and Kindness & Require Others to Treat You with Respect and Kindness

Seven lessons for my daughter. No. 3 Treat others with respect and kindness & require others to treat you with respect and kindness. - Kiara Watts, My City Adventures

Lily is full of love and happiness for the most part. I am so thankful for her sweet, cheery disposition. She does have a sassy side though. And she’s not afraid to show it. On several occasions I have been a witness her telling a friend what’s what when they try to take a toy she’s playing with. Which I love. I think it serves any person well in life to have the courage to stand up for themselves. However, after Lily got in trouble at school for pushing a friend down because they made her mad, I started teaching her other ways to express her anger. Ways that don’t include someone getting knocked to the ground.

Lily is a great communicator for her age. Particularly when it comes to how she’s feeling and why. Which goes hand in hand with her being able to express when she feels she or someone else is unfairly treated. Lily has also recently experienced “friends” at school being not so nice to her. So now if a situation arises we talk about ways she can show kindness to others. My daughter comes up with the sweetest answers! “Read a book to a friend” “Dance with them” “Give them a hug” “Let them ride my bike” “Share my fruit” We also discuss how to define the meaning of friendship and how a friend should and shouldn’t treat you.

4. Those Who Love You, Care for You, and Want the Best for You Will Do So No Matter What

Seven lessons for my daughter. No. 4 Those who love you, care for you, and want the best for you will do so no matter what. - Kiara Watts, My City Adventures

My daughter is getting this lesson less with words and more in actions. And it’s mainly put into practice when she least deserves it. After a day of not following directions and multiple tantrums, occasionally we will still end up going out for ice cream. There have also been plenty of times when Lily’s naughty behavior warranted discipline, yet I would let the night pass with no follow-up on her misconduct. Why? Because her misbehavior makes me think of how often I don’t follow directions yet God continues sh merciful. How can I be a parent who lays the smack-down at every transgression when I’m being led by the example of God who is so graciously loving? So, even when Lily is at her worst I do my best to show her she is loved. The same as God reminds me all the time.

5. Please Use Your Good Manners, They Count for A Lot

Seven lessons for my daughter. No. 5. Please use your good manners, they count for a lot. - Kiara Watts, My City Adventures

I believe exhibiting good manners are how you show respect and common courtesy to others. I wish I would see more of them everyday. I’m also learning that children will do what you do and say what you say. So I work to keep please, thank you, you’re welcome, and may I in my vocabulary. I have a rule, as well. If a please or may I isn’t said, Lily does not get whatever it is she wants. Period. But good manners go deeper than that. I’m teaching Lily how to wait patiently, not interrupt someone who’s talking, share her things, be quiet and still when the occasion calls for it.

When people see how my daughter behaves in public they often remark on how surprised they are. But I don’t think it should be a shock when children are well behaved. Children are capable of amazingly great things. Learning to say please, thank you, and sit quietly are the least of them. It just takes diligence on the part of parents and teachers. In turn, the rewards for Lily’s good manners are many. Everyday, we go somewhere fun, do something she likes, or she gets a treat.

6. You are Beautiful and You Look Pretty

Seven lessons for my daughter. No. 6 You are beautiful and you look pretty. - Kiara Watts, My City Adventures

We live in a society where everyone is judged heavily based on outward appearances. Unfortunately most people never have the content of their inner character critiqued. I must admit I do think being attractive helps. I’m a visual person and I like a handsome face. But I also think that society allows so many to get by with just being pretty. A person should be required to be more than simply good-looking. Interesting. Cultured. Philosophical. Intelligent. Artistic.

Of course this mentality isn’t formed overnight. It starts when a person is young and the majority of compliments they hear are about their physical appearance. “You are so pretty” “I love your hair” “Look how cute your clothes are” Now, I am not at all saying children will become narcissistic jerks if they hear they are pretty or handsome. In fact, as a black woman with natural hair, I constantly advocate for little black girls and boys to grow up hearing they are beautiful. I also strive to raise my daughter to know that her worth goes farther beyond her pretty hair and face. Everyday, I comment on Lily’s wit, sincerity, compassion, intelligence, creativity, etc. These are the things that make up who she is as a person. And that is beautiful.

7. Most of the Time You May Get By with Simply Walking but Occasionally You Will Have to Run

Seven lessons for my daughter. No. 7 Most of the time you may get by with simply walking but occasionally you will have to run. - Kiara Watts, My City Adventures

It frequently occurs that when we head to the bus stop when we see the bus coming up the street. We break out in a full sprint so we won’t miss it. My daughter hates this. Running to catch a bus is Lily’s least favorite thing on Earth. Once on the bus Lily, usually upset and in tears, exclaims how mad or sad she is. I always say the same thing. “Sometimes you have to run”. This lesson is simple enough at first but is applicable to many aspects of life. Whether it’s something you love and are passionate about or it’s something you want to get away from, sometimes you have to run.

Your Choice of Elementary Schools in Kansas City

Our daughter wasn’t even a year old before we began to consider what options we had for her education in the Kansas City Public School system. At the time we assumed they would be slim. The knowledge that we lived in a city which had lost its accreditation gave us little hope for when the time came for Lily to go to school. With the same mind set I’ve discovered many parents of young children have, my husband suggested moving to Raytown where the schools were presumably better. Gasp! No! But refusing to consider giving up our beloved urban city life wasn’t enough. Where would Lily go? What are the elementary schools in Kansas City? I set out to find answers.

And I got them. A lot of them. The truth is a myriad of great schools are available for Kansas City parents to choose from. We are fortunate enough that Lily now attends an awesome school close to our neighborhood. We found it through an online search. But for those who are just beginning the journey to finding the right school there are plenty of resources beyond Google. Show Me KC Schools is a good place to start. In fact I wish had known about it sooner. Show Me KC Schools helps families navigate the elementary, middle, and high schools in Kansas City.

Show Me KC Schools recently hosted a Parent-to-Parent elementary school fair to introduce local parents to elementary schools in Kansas City. The fair was an opportunity to learn about many of the city’s elementary schools through one-on-one conversations with parents of children who actually attend those schools. During the course of the evening I met with parents from 20 local elementary schools. I collected as much information as I could and took notes along the way. I’ve included a few of each school’s highlights. For more information on a school follow the bold red link to their website.

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Elementary Schools in Kansas City

Academia de Niños

 

  • Academia de Niños has built a curriculum that honors culturally and linguistically diverse students – giving them a strong sense of themselves and appreciation.
  • By taking advantage of transformative technology, students have enhanced learning experiences.
  • Each child is viewed as an individual with guardians who love him or her with all their hearts.
  • Classes are offered in art, music, physical education, and Spanish instruction.

Academy For Integrated Arts

  • Academy For Integrated Arts uses arts-integrated teaching in which the arts leverage learning in other subject areas such as science, language arts, mathematics, and social studies.
  • Base Academy of Music provides music mentorship and students receive free music lessons with free instruments from professional artists.
  • Each school day the practice of Harambee (Swahili for ‘all pull together’) provides an opportunity to sing, chant, and recognize student accomplishments.
  • Enrollment is accepted for kindergarten through 5th grade.

Académie Lafayette

 

  • Académie Lafayette is a charter public school and a leader in French immersion curriculum. At Académie Lafayette, students are taught all their subjects in the second language.
  • Beginning in 2014, 4th through 8th grade students can choose to add Mandarin Chinese or Spanish to their curriculum.
  • On 2013 state standardized (MAP) tests, Académie Lafayette 8th graders scored at the Proficient or Advanced level in English, Math, and Science.

Border Star Montessori

  • Border Star Montessori is an accredited Montessori pre-kindergarten through 6th grade Signature School in the Kansas City Public School district.
  • A variety of enriching extra-curricular activities are offered including an award-winning chess club.
  • Classes include up to 30 students, with one teacher and one assistant teacher, whose ages span three years. This set up benefits older children who act as role models and the younger children who feel supported and gain confidence.
  • The curriculum includes traditional subjects but are presented through an integrated approach that shows the interrelation of all things.

Citizens of the World Charter Schools – Kansas City

 

  • Citizens of the World Charter Schools – Kansas City is an academically challenging, free public school where students of diverse backgrounds learn at high levels and grow into caring and responsible citizens of the world.
  • Their model of education includes critical elements such as project-based learning, low teacher-student ratios, social-emotional awareness, and parent involvement. Art, music, PE, and technology are integrated components of the curriculum.
  • CWC will open in Fall 2016 serving kindergarten and 1st grade students, growing each year to serve kindergarten through 12th grade. A public drawing for enrollment is held in early spring.

Crossroads Academy of Kansas City

  • Crossroads Academy is one of the highest performing charter elementary schools in Kansas City. Academic features include curriculum aligned to college and career standards, extended school days and year, and Enrichment/Accelerated program.
  • Located in the heart of Downtown Kansas City, the school has access to many civic and cultural amenities such as the Kansas City Public Library, City Hall, Barney Allis Plaza, and Folly Theater.
  • Weekly classes are taught in physical education, visual arts, and performing arts. Students attend daily labs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
  • Kindergarten through 8th grade enrollment lottery deadline is in March
  • Crossroads Academy is opening a second Downtown campus. The tuition-free school is open to any student living within the Kansas City Public Schools boundaries.

Foreign Language Academy

 

  • The Foreign Language Academy is a Signature School of the Kansas City Public Schools. French, Spanish, and Mandarin/Chinese language immersion programs are offered for kindergarten through 8th grade.
  • Classes are taught by native speaking staff from around the world.
  • All Foreign Language Academy students are offered counselors, computer labs, and a library with an extensive collection of books in Spanish, Chinese, and French.
  • Students may enter at kindergarten or 1st grade. Students in 2nd grade or above must show grade level proficiency in the target language.

Gordon Parks Elementary School

  • Gordon Parks Elementary School is a public charter school serving kindergarten through 4th grade students living within the boundaries of the Kansas City, Missouri School District.
  • Classroom volunteers help students reach their academic goals by reading, assisting with math skills, and developing writing skills. Mentors form long-term relationships with students that forever impact their lives.
  • 3rd and 4th grade students can take part in student club activities such as nature walks, art history, photography, and reading music.
  • Gordon Parks Elementary School has an overall 10:1 student teacher ratio which serves as an integral part of student achievement. Enrollment deadline is in mid-February.
  • Vital topics to improving parenting skills are discussed at monthly Parent Nights.

Hale Cook Elementary School

  • Hale Cook Elementary School’s mission is to give a challenging, engaging curriculum in a safe, inclusive and supportive environment. Personal accountability and self-reflection is promoted with the goal of all students achieving academic excellence and high standards of character.
  • A renovated Hale Cook Elementary School reopened in 2014, serving pre-kindergarten through second grade. The program will grow each year by adding a grade.
  • Hale Cook is located in the Waldo neighborhood and follows the Kansas City Public School curriculum as taught by District teachers. The ten month school year has a daily schedule of 9 am to 4 pm.
  • There is no tuition to attend kindergarten through third grade. The full-time pre-kindergarten program is competitively priced, follows the school calendar and taught by certified teachers.

Hogan Preparatory Academy

  • Hogan Preparatory Academy is a premier college prep district developing educated, compassionate, self-motivated leaders who prepare for life-long career options and give back to their community.
  • In 1999, with the sponsorship of University of Central Missouri, Hogan became one of only a few tuition-free public charter high schools in Missouri. Hogan added a middle school in 2011 and an elementary school in 2013.
  • Each student invests at least 100 hours of community service before high school graduation.

Hope Leadership Academy

  • Hope Leadership Academy strives to make sure that students internalize what they learn and are, in turn, able to apply what they learn to new situations.
  • The curriculum is centered on the Missouri Learning Standards. Each student is assessed in August and at the end of each quarter to measure their growth of mastering the standards.
  • Students learn the importance of working together, natural resources, science, and responsibility when they take part in creating and cultivating the community garden.
  • Hope Leadership Academy has a strong partnership with the Linwood YMCA, where students receive their physical education and athletic programs are held.
  • Start at Zero is a program offered for children from birth to age three. Parents receive advice for how to engage children through activities to help develop and prepare them for school.

The Kansas City Neighborhood Academy

  • The Kansas City Neighborhood Academy has an academic model based on the Drew Charter School in Atlanta, GA. Project based education will focus on literacy and science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM).
  • Beginning with kindergarten, The Kansas City Neighborhood School will offer a choice of up to two elective classes in art and music each school day.
  • Located in the Jazz District neighborhood, enrollment will begin with pre-kindergarten to 2nd grade. A grade will be added each year until the school reaches pre-kindergarten through 6th grade.

The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP)

  • KIPP Endeavor Academy is a free, public charter school that will serve kindergarten through 8th grade.
  • At KIPP the climb to college begins in kindergarten with rigorous college preparatory instruction.
  • KIPP has an extended school day and year.
  • Teachers receive weekly evaluations for mastering their profession.

Longfellow Elementary School

  • The students of Longfellow Elementary School receive a contemporary education to prepare them for the real world.
  • The use of instructional technology is available to students and teachers to create self assessment as well as foster learning.
  • Longfellow Elementary School partners with Hallmark for mentorship opportunities.
  • School programs include Alvin Ailey Dance, Basketball, Challenger Soccer Organization, Junior Deputy, Robotics, STEM Creators Club, and Tutoring.

Notre Dame de Sion School

  • The Notre Dame de Sion School in Kansas City is an independent Roman Catholic school providing the highest quality college preparatory education from preschool through 12th grade.
  • Sion continues the tradition of the founding sisters, the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion, inviting students to encounter God in a Catholic atmosphere that respects all faith traditions.
  • The school’s enthusiastic embrace of advancements in communication and technology, allows the school’s unique mission to be shared through contacts, visits, exchanges, and study abroad.
  • Notre Dame de Sion School in Kansas City has two campuses including a college preparatory high school for girls and a co-ed elementary and middle school for pre-kindergarten through 8th grade.

Pathway Academy

  • Pathway Academy is a free, public charter school serving students in grades K-6 who live in Kansas City, Missouri.
  • The school features a core curriculum of literature and language arts, mathematics, science, and social science, as well as courses in health, physical education, the arts, and world language. 
  • The school day is longer to offer ample time and learning opportunities for students and planning time for teachers. 
  • Students receive regular assessments to make sure academic growth and to verify they stay on the right path. 

The Pembroke Hill School

  • Pembroke Hill’s educational environment focuses on children’s social, emotional, and academic needs while recognizing their individual strengths.
  • All classrooms feature two experienced full-time educators who use a variety of teaching methods, instructional materials, and technology to support students. In addition to the strong core academic program, kindergartners attend resource classes in Library, PE, Music and Art, and Spanish.
  • Beginning in first grade, students attend science class in the lab.
  • The Pembroke Hill School offers nearly $3 million in financial aid to 22% of their students.

Saint Elizabeth Catholic School

  • St. Elizabeth Catholic School provides a Christ centered, child focused learning environment where Catholic ideals and a tradition of excellence are instilled.
  • The school is a member of the National Catholic Education Association and accredited by Advanced Ed Missouri Non Public.
  • Elective classes are provided in Art, Computer/Library, Music, Physical Education, and Spanish.
  • Students in the 3rd through 8th grades scored an average class composite of 96% on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.
  • Extra curricular activities include Bricks for Kids, Boy Scouts, Cantor Academy Choir, Cartooning Club, Girl Scouts, Girls on the Run, Student Council, and Young Rembrandts.

St. Peter’s School

  • St. Peter’s School has a mission to graduate students dedicated to their faith, their values, their families, and their communities.
  • Religious instruction includes sacrament preparation beginning in the second grade. An emphasis is placed on ongoing stewardship and service to others, as well as advocating for those in need.
  • The core curriculum for preschool through 8th grade includes daily study in religion, reading, and English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. Auxiliary programs are offered in art, library, music, physical education, Spanish, and technology.
  • Average class size is 18 students.
  • More than half of the teaching staff hold advanced degrees with an average tenure of 10 years.

University Academy

  • University Academy is a college prep kindergarten through 12th grade charter school in Kansas City, Missouri.
  • University Academy’s mission is to prepare students to succeed in an institution of higher education and to participate as leaders in society.
  • Lottery selections occur in February.
  • Recent state assessments showed each grade level had significant growth from the previous year.

 

Animal Tales and Trails at Crown Center

Animal Tales and Trails at Crown Center

Animal Tales and Trails is at Crown Center. Enter an interactive habitat where children learn about the most interesting creatures! Join the polar bear in his cave, fly down the penguin iceberg slide, jump with the kangaroo on a small trampoline, and much more. A reading area features many animal story books.

Animal Tales and Trails at Crown Center

Animal Tales and Trails at Crown Center. Credit: Kiara Watts

 

 

The interactive exhibits in Crown Center’s Showplace are always a treat for Lily. Some of our favorites over the years have featured the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz and a Storybook Village. For me, Animal Tales and Trails was another enjoyable exhibit, due in part to the added teachable moments where Lily and I discussed the animals and their habitats. Lily has her favorite animals but she loved the bees in the bee hive! We recently met a beekeeper during First Friday, so she’s been very interested in them. It was great for her to see the beautiful giant bee illustrations. As we looked at the imagery of the inside of a beehive I gave Lily a recap of the different types of bees and their roles. She also learned a some new words: arachnid and pachyderm. Lily surprised me as well when I found out she knows what a joey is!

Animal Tales and Trails at Crown Center

Animal Tales and Trails at Crown Center. Credit: Kiara Watts

Enjoy a walk on the wild side at Animals Tales and Trails through May 1, 2016. Location is the Crown Center Shops Level 1 Showplace. Hours are Sunday 11 am – 6 pm; Monday-Friday 10 am – 6 pm; Saturday 10 am – 7 pm. A complete walk through the interactive will take about one hour. Although, I’m sure Lily would have stayed all day if I had let her. The cost is free.

Animal Tales and Trails at Crown Center. Credit: Kiara Watts

Animal Tales and Trails at Crown Center. Credit: Kiara Watts

Enter for your chance to win a Private One-Hour Party at the Animal Tales and Trails exhibit at Crown Center for up to 20 Kids, a $100 Crown Center Gift Certificate and a Prize Package from Crown Center Merchants! This giveaway is sponsored by The Kansas City Star. Entries accepted until March 31, 2016 11:59 pm.

Animal Tales and Trails at Crown Center. Credit: Kiara Watts

Animal Tales and Trails at Crown Center. Credit: Kiara Watts

Animal Tales and Trails is best suited for children ages 2-11. For more information about this fun interactive exhibit, visit the Crown Center website or call 816-274-8444.

Thanks for reading and subscribe to Kiara Loves KC for more posts about fun (and educational) kid friendly activities in Kansas City!

Think Outside the Classroom, Part Two

When it comes to Lily, there is one all-encompassing thing I make time for everyday. Her education. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 strips me of the excuse of saying she’s learning at school and putting the lessons she needs to learn solely in the hands of a teacher. Her dad and I are her first teachers. With determination, creativity, and countless Google searches I have a wealth of resources to make sure Lily’s life is full of opportunities to think outside the classroom in Kansas City. Listed below are just a few of them.

Here at Home

Think Outside the Classroom. Our urban garden. Credit: Kiara Watts

Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner Time
Lily is a close step behind me most of the times I go into the kitchen. At first I would only let her watch me cook and be a taste tester. (If you want to know if your food is actually good, let a child taste it. The look on Lily’s face when I one day let her taste an unseasoned pesto sauce was priceless.) Now she helps chop fruits and vegetables with a butter knife, mixes bowls of ingredients, and stirs pots and pans of food over the stove.

Chores and Clean-up
Slowly but surely Lily is getting the idea of consistently picking up after herself. Her chores include putting her books and toys in their proper place. She also will wipe off tables and sweep small messes in the floor.

Gardening
On a whim I started growing fruits and vegetables. From the beginning Lily has been just as enthusiastic about it as me. She got her hands good and dirty with helping me scoop soil into flower pots and planters. Then I dug the holes and she planted the seeds. Each day she reminds me to check for what has changed in our garden. We water plants, pull weeds, fill holes dug by pesky critters, and pick the fruits and vegetables that are ripe enough to eat.

Books, Apps, and TV Programs

Think Outside the Classroom. Scene from The Bible App for Kids.

Books
Lily has a plethora of books with subjects ranging from colors/shapes to telling time on a clock to fairy tales to dinosaurs to bible stories. In fact, I’m afraid I am encouraging her book hoarding because 8 out of 10 times we leave our home she comes back with a book. We read and discuss at least one book or story everyday. Lily has memorized a few of her favorites. Plus she has early reader books that she can read by herself.

Apps
Technology such as television, computers, and phones are sometimes taboo when it comes to toddlers. I, on the other end of that debate, use them as learning materials. And, yes, as aids to keep Lily entertained at restaurants and anywhere I need her quiet.

The Bible App for Kids/Bible App is almost always Lily’s choice for bedtime story. In the morning we read the daily lesson in the weekly bible study plans and practice the memory verse of the week. At night we talk about what occurred during the day and pray.

Duolingo’s language app has lessons in many of the world’s most common languages. We are currently learning Spanish. The images make it easy for children around Lily’s age to choose the correct words. Her most often used sayings are “Yo soy una niña” and “¡Vamonos!”.

TV Programs
Super Why! is the only tv show that manages to fully engage Lily’s attention. It helps kids learn the fundamentals of reading through interactive storybook adventures.

America’s Test Kitchen catches Lily’s interest when I watch the show. She loves cooking so she’ll grab “ingredients” to follow along with the chefs. She has also started to make up recipes. She mixes and stirs food together while giving directions as though she’s on her own cooking show.

Willa’s Wild Life is a new favorite for Lily. It’s about a girl named Willa who has some very unusual pets. Based on Dan Yaccarino’s book, An Octopus Followed Me Home, the show teaches kids about teamwork, curiosity, and problem solving. As we watch Lily will call out the names of the animals and we’ll discuss some of the lessons that Willa learns from her adventures.

Places

Think Outside the Classroom. Dutch Flowers Shop. Credit: Marcia Norwood

The Kansas City Public Library
I will never be able to say enough about the Kansas City Public Libraries. Several children’s story times are held throughout the week. The Central and Plaza branches have incredible kids zones. The Central branch kids zone has the bonus of being on the 3rd floor by itself.  Kansas City Public Library events in September include weekly Friday family fun nights, art exhibits, programs about the Civil Rights movement, and several receptions with authors promoting their children’s books.

Crown Center & Union Station
Kaleidoscope. Sea Life Aquarium. Crown Center’s Showplace (which now has a hands-on-play exhibit about classic children’s books). Science City. The Kansas City Irish Museum. The Model Rail Experience. These are just some of the reasons we have spent many a Saturday afternoon here.

Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center
Our first time visiting the discovery center was for a seed savers class. We went half a block past the KFC on Troost Avenue and got blown away. There are eight acres of gardens, a pond, and naturally beautiful paths to explore.  Wildlife programs will deepen your appreciation for nature. On the first and third Saturdays of the month Naturalists volunteer to guide kids through nature activities.

The Historic City Market
The City Market, open seven days a week, is Lily’s most liked classroom. She watches the Arabia Steamboat Museum paddlewheel churn water and learns about flowers, plants, and trees at Dutch Flowers. She loves dancing to the rhythm of bongo thumping, guitar strumming buskers. Occasionally she’s handed a tambourine to join in the performance. And of course she helps me shop for produce from local farmers.

As I said before, this list is just a few of the ways Lily is learning everyday. I do miss being a homeschooling parent but I am so grateful to live in a city that has so many opportunities to learn and become a better person. I hope this will encourage someone. Here’s a link to read Think Outside the Classroom, Part One.

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