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Exploring an area of interest helps children grow their vocabulary and background knowledge, gives them an outlet for creative self-expression, and helps them make sense of how the world works can even help them discover new interests. Importantly, it also creates a positive attitude towards learning that can have a lasting impact.

Here are ways you can motivate your child to learn through their passions more and ensure they are  actively engaged in what they’re learning:

 

Engage all of the senses! Help make their interests visual through books, videos, or even trips or experiences like visiting a local fire station. Incorporate the sounds of a fire engine or make it tactile with a themed sensory bin. Experiencing it in these ways will help build a child’s understanding of the topic.

 

 

• Help kids make a connection to something new. Whether it’s really literal like watching the garbage truck come to your house and comparing/ contrasting with your child’s toy garbage truck, to something more abstract like relating how a character from your child’s favorite movie feels in a scene to a time your child is feeling something similar, building on what a child already knows is a great way to learn something new.

• Use it to incorporate something totally unrelated. One time, I tried to do letter play with my son and his magnetic letters, even giving each letter a personality and special voice. He wanted nothing to do with it. But he was in a phase of loving playing with trains on his train track, so I drew a track on butcher paper in the letters of his name. We had the best time decorating the track and creating a new way to play with his trains, and I was able to work the letters into our play (“I’m over here driving on the C, meet me over at the L”) in a way that wasn’t pushing him to do something he didn’t want to do.

• Spark some fun into daily routines or things a child might not want to do. A big mom win for me was when I was able to avoid a toddler meltdown leaving the park by suggesting we pretend to be race cars on the way home. You better believe I added sound effects and some race car vocabulary to the mix, too.

• Use it as an opportunity to connect with your child. This one may seem obvious, but there are so many educational and developmental benefits to simply having a conversation with your child that I couldn’t leave it off the list. Let your child drive the conversation about what interests them, ask questions, and add information to deepen their understanding of the concept. They will feel proud getting to share their interests with you and having some bonding time over something that matters to them. No materials or set-up required!

As parents, what can we do to support our children’s interests and incorporate their passions in creative ways?

Let us know on IG @learnwithhomer using the #KidPoweredLearning

 

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This month is all about LOVE and expressing that love through kindness!

Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it and let’s face it– we’re parents and we’re always busy! Instead of heading out to the store, simply fire up your printers and print these original HOMER cards. You and your little ones can personalize them together by coloring, adding glitter, leaving notes and so much more– that way they stand out! Best of all, these adorable cards don’t require candy additions, so you’re following the teachers’ directions and everyone in the class can feel special!

Happy ❤️ Day!

 

HOMER CARD

MILLIE CARD

NIP CARD

 

Get to DIYing and don’t forget to share your cards with us on Instagram using #KidPoweredLearning

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From recruiters to engineers, and graphic designers to member experience associates, there are so many passionate people bringing #kidpoweredlearning to life here at HOMER. In this new series, we’ll introduce you to the team, one by one.

First up: Chris Gelles!

 

What do you do at HOMER and what’s your favorite part about your job?
I lead the Art & Media Production Team! You can call us “AMP” since we love acronyms so much. 

Oof. So much. I’m surrounded by a brilliant, talented and deeply experienced team. And, where I like to dig in is in brainstorming ways our characters, stories, media in general can leverage our technology to create a unique experience for the kids.

Which interests would you pick in the HOMER app?

Dinosaurs, Robots, science. Do we have monsters?

 

What were you passionate about as a kid and how has that shaped you into the adult you are today?

Passionate…That’s a good question. Dinosaurs blew my mind (giant monsters that were real!). I loved animals of all kinds. As I grew, this migrated to very science-focused interests. I loved biology and mechanical–anything. Eventually, in my early college years, I tried to combine those by studying biomedical engineering.

But, underneath it all, I could draw. My mom was an art teacher. So, I learned to see shapes in everything. I learned to jot down my ideas, give form to my imagination from a really early age.





Where’s your happy place this season?

This season? Well…I just got married in November. And, I’m still hanging onto happy memories of being in a cabin on the ocean (in freezing cold weather). We had two fireplaces and pretty much most of Cape Cod to ourselves.

 

Who is your favorite HOMER character?

Tutt. Always Tutt. The trickster, the rascal. The force of chaos.

Tutt is the most fun-loving of all the HOMER characters.

What are your top emojis?

❤️ and 💩, naturally.

 

If you could be a contestant on one game/reality show what would it be?

What’s that one that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson hosts? I’d do that one just to say hi to him…again. Fun fact: I went to high school with him. We shared a moment in the Track & Field bus as we traveled to an ‘away game.’ “Hi, Dwayne!”

 

 

What does reading mean to you?

Gaining knowledge. Being inspired. Living dreams.

What are the words you live by?

I try to keep up with Gandhi’s “be the change you want to see in the world.” Not sure I measure up to that all the time. But, it’s a worthy goal. 

Actually, I looked this up to make sure I was quoting him correctly…turns out the sentiment is a bit more ambitious:
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a [hu]man changes [their] own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards [them]. … We need not wait to see what others do.” (cleaned up to be less gender-centric)

 

Want to learn more about Chris and the HOMER team? Follow @learnwithhomer to see more of what happens behind the scenes in the office.

Let us know who you want to hear from next!

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Before coming to HOMER to work on the Learning Team, I spent 8 years as a preschool teacher in New York City. Let’s face it, the teacher’s desk can sometimes become a catchall place for everything under the sun. One of my main struggles was keeping my desk clean and organized. As a teacher you want to be a role model for your students, so that they keep their desks (or cubbies) clean and organized. In prep for celebrating “Clean off your desk day” here at HOMER HQ– I went to a few experts to get their perspectives. The family business is education, so I asked my sister and mother who are both teachers how they manage to keep their desks clean.

Here were the best suggestions from the three of us:

  1. Set aside time each week (either on Friday afternoon or Monday morning) to clean off your desk. As much as you try to keep things organized during the week, there will inevitably be those stray papers and other items that accumulate during the week. Start the week off right by spending the time to tidy it up! (I carried this over into my current job and try to tidy up my desk and close as many tabs and documents on my computer as possible each Friday afternoon!)
  2. Keep a small drawer organizer on your desk for things like paper clips, binder clips, rubber bands, staples, etc. so they don’t just pile up everywhere. As an extra bonus, you will know where to find them quickly when a student asks for one! 
  3. Color coordinate your files. Make sure all of your files or folders are color coordinated based on subject, for both your students and yourself! This makes things much easier to find quickly and helps your students keep their work organized as well. If space is limited, hang something around your desk to organize your folders, with one for each subject.
  4. Use binder clips so that your chords aren’t all over your desk and you can even label them! This is a game changer! 
  5. Use a file organizer to keep track of holidays. As a preschool teacher, I was always decorating the classroom based on the season or holiday we were celebrating. I kept a file folder organizer on my desk that was organized by month, with each holiday having its own file folder. With folders organized by month, I could easily access the appropriate holiday without digging through stacks of papers! 
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With the new year comes new year’s resolutions. While some people love the opportunity to get organized and set goals, some dread resolutions and get discouraged when they feel like they’re not keeping them. We spoke to some of the HOMER parents on our team to find out which camp they’re in, and what goals they have for their families for the month of January.

Here’s what they said:

 

SAM

This holiday season felt particularly frantic. I had high hopes of staying on top of my to-do list so we could spend December making precious holiday memories, but then I blinked, my family passed around a couple colds, and all of a sudden it was December 20th. Because of that, my goals for my family for January are simple.

  1. Do one thing a week that is outside. It’s cold and it gets dark early and it probably will snow, but we all seem to feel better when we’re moving around in the fresh air. Maybe we’ll go for walks, maybe we’ll head to the park, maybe we’ll just run from the house to our car on our way to the grocery store. All of those things will count.
  2. Listen to more music. This is something else that just seems to put us all in a good mood. My three-year old son has always loved initiating dance parties, and now my 8-month old loves watching her brother’s crazy moves and clapping along. P.S., does anyone else add things they KNOW they’ll be able to cross off?
  3. My last goal for January is to be kind to myself and understand that life happens. I might not get to cross everything off the list, and that’s okay.

KAYLA

I’m a full time working mom, so this year I’m trying some easier, gentler, more mindful resolutions– I’m okay with that! Instead of setting myself up to fail by February, this year I’m striving for goals that are actually doable. Join me?

  1. Walk to work: I’ve always said that convenience is absolutely worth the price, but with on-demand transportation being so readily available for us at any time of the day, I’ve gotten very used to my easy routine. Not having to worry about train delays or walking in the cold was a dream, but I really want to be better about my personal finances and health. Walking to work is an easy way to get those steps in!
  2. Be more involved in my daughter’s daily activities: I’m beginning to think that the “perfect balance” doesn’t exist, but I’m determined to figure out what works best for me and my family. I want to enjoy the moments I can with my little one and stop stressing about what I’ve “missed”, because, at the end of the day, this is what it’s really all about.
  3. Waste less food and eat together as a family: I’m not saying this needs to happen everyday. I love my TV tray dinners, but I think involving everyone in the preparation and then sitting at the table as a family at least once a week, will encourage family togetherness.
  4. Stop Over-Apologizing: “When did you become such a chronic apologizer?” My mom asked me that not too long ago and it really threw me off guard. She was right! As women, it’s easy to often feel the need to prove our self-worth and how capable we are, while avoiding being “aggressive.” As moms, even more so! I’m a human being and there are things I need to apologize for, but trying to make it in a competitive world is not one of them. My little one absorbs everything and repeats me all the time, so I want to make sure I’m leading by example. I want to reserve apologies for when they’re necessary, for when I’ve made a mistake. I will not apologize because I’m expected to.

STEFAN

None of these are new. In fact, I’ll admit I don’t like New Year’s resolutions. But I acknowledge it can be a good time to refocus on current goals and determine if there’s a better way of reaching those goals. These are the big ones for me:

  1. Create, not Consume. Even after deleting all social media apps from my phone years ago, I find myself spending too much time consuming rather than creating.  Even something as respectable as reading the NY times throughout the day is consuming vs creating. I love to draw. It refreshes me. Instead of keeping this a broad goal, I am recommitting with a small, attainable one of drawing once a week. The hope is it snowballs to more creating and less consuming in my life.
  2. Learn Another Language. I am Swedish-American, and despite my father’s occasional Swedish and living in Stockholm for a couple years, my Swedish is severely lacking. Luckily I’ve found a great language-learning app that I use on weekends or for 10-minute sprints. The real bonus is that my 7 year old loves it too. After our “lessons”, we’ll try speaking only Swedish with each other for the next half hour.  
  3. Rest. With 3 kids, true rest is hard to come by in our home. We are making an effort to do activities that provide real relaxation, like reading, drawing (two birds, one stone?!), and doing puzzles, rather than just turning on a movie. My wife is really blazing the trail on this one, so I’m confident at least this one will happen.

We want to hear from YOU! Share your #FamilyGoals with us on Instagram.

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