Kids Learn By Doing

Every child is going to learn differently.  All children use their senses to help them to explore the world and learn many different things, but each child uses this sensory input a bit differently as they process the information.

Most childrAnother Hatchett Job, adopt, adoptive family, adoptive parents, love, creative commonsen rely heavily on visual input.  Some rely heavily on auditory input.  It helps these children to hear about what they are learning as much or possibly more so than just seeing the topic or reading about it.  During the infant and toddler years, children put things into their mouths as part of their explorations.  For some students, adding experience through taste helps them to learn.  Other students need kinesthetic input to enhance their learning.  And to top it all off, most children use all of these sensory inputs to greater or lesser degrees than others.

The schools are supposed to take care of all of this educational stuff, right?  As a former educator, I strongly disagree.  Regardless of whether your child attends a formal school or is homeschooled, the parents lead the way when it comes to education.  Parents who value education and who love to learn will often have children who are more amenable to taking advantage of their education.  Parents who abdicate all responsibility for their child and his or her studies will likely (but not always) raise more lackadaisical students.

Parents need to understand that learning is not limited to a classroom setting.  Learning is just a part of living and exploring as we live our lives.  Learning is an active endeavor.  Some things may be learned passively, but the lessons that tend to stick with us into our adult lives tend to be made more memorable by our active participation in them.

So, how can parents possibly wade through the myriad of possibilities and know how to help their children learn?  It’s actually a bit simpler than you may think.  Another Hatchett Job, adopt, adoptive family, adoptive parents, love, creative commons

All children require some of each of these inputs as they learn, barring a major disability.  The key is to maximize the ones that your student enjoys while making sure they all get a little time at the educational party.

How?  Just follow the five senses for starters.  Here are some examples of things that parents can do with children of all ages to help foster learning by using the senses.

Sight.  This is easy.  Look at what you are learning.  Are there illustrations in a book?  Can you go outside and identify types of leaves or plants?  Can your toddler name the animals in a picture or in a field or petting zoo?

Hearing.  Read to your child.  Read with your child.  Let your child read to you.  Take turns reading.  Even when you are doing the reading, you are hearing your own voice say the words.  For many learners, this stimulates the formation of memory better than other sensory inputs.  Listen to music and learn about composers.  Learn to play an instrument.  Learn how to distinguish bird songs.  Encourage young children to play with the classic See ‘N Say toys to hear sounds and identify what made each sound.

Taste.  There is a great reason that many teachers let students add a cooking component to a lesson, particularly in Geography classes.  Getting the sample the cuisines of another culture is a fantastic way to explore another culture.  When you go on vacation to the coast, does your family try the local ‘catch of the day’?  Do you sample regional dishes and discuss why certain ingredients may be typical of that area’s dishes?  Nothing helps you remember a historic sugar plantation better than the taste from chewing on a piece of sugar cane.

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Home Ec is hard work! Photo by Jan Hatchett

Touch.  Children who rely heavily on touch often use movement (kinesthetics) to learn.  Tap a surface as you count with your child.  Let your child feel items that are related to the location you are visiting or a lesson in school.  Learning about Scotland, feel woolen fabric or even pet a lamb at a petting zoo while talking about where wool comes from and how it is processed.  Use manipulatives with math that the child can touch and handle.  Get outside and dig in the dirt to plant flowers or make rubbings of tree bark or leaves.  It’s okay to get dirty.  In some circles, a little dirt is much appreciated!

Smell.  Even been near a paper mill?  Particularly before the EPA regulated emissions, those were some stinky places!  Once you have experienced that sulphurous smell, you will never forget it.   The olfactory glands in our brains are located very near our memory centers.  This is why certain smells can evoke memories with shocking clarity.  The smell of theater popcorn or cookies baking in Grandma’s kitchen help us to recall information.  Students use this, too.  How many 40-somethings remember the smell of mimeograph fluid on school handouts?

Of course, this is not a definitive listing of methods for enhancing education, but it is a good start to encourage inquisitiveness and observation about the world around us while using the senses.  Learning is an active process, so get away from the television and cell phones and start interacting with the people and places nearby.

How do you use your senses to learn?

Till next time,




Mean Mommies

Another Hatchett Job, mother and child, mom-shamingOne thing I have learned from parenthood is that well meaning people will give you loads and loads of unsolicited advice.  In my case, it was often older ladies attempting to shame me as I attempted to enter a store.  My oldest son was 30 lbs at 6 months old and as large as some two year olds.  But, he was only 6 months old.  I was often berated in public by strangers because I didn’t make him walk.  

Um, sorry, ma’am, but I am not dragging my 6 month old son around on the floor by a leash like a slug because YOU are uncomfortable about his size.

Needless to say, moms have to develop thick skins and opportunities abound to help that process along.  But why do we do this to each other?Another Hatchett Job, Mother and child, Mom-shaming

It’s one thing for one mom to ask another mom for some advice or for an idea in how to handle a situation more successfully.  It’s quite another to decide to publicly instruct a total stranger over something that is not life or death.  Now, don’t get me wrong, if a child is in danger, I will say something with little regard to how it comes across, but is it really anyone’s business how another mom feeds her child, cares for her child, etc. if they are healthy and happy?

Moms often spout the platitude, “every child is different” but they often forget that every mom and family is different, too and that is okay.  They also tend to neglect that these differences in children often necessitate differing parenting techniques in order to best nurture the child.  A family with multiple children often has to deal with each child differently because the children need that.

Another Hatchett Job, mother and child, mom-shaming, creative commonsKim Simon writes an insightful piece exploring why mommies, in particular, are so mean to each other on the Scary Mommy blog.  Warning, the language is raw, but she makes some very valid points.  Check out her article, The Top 7 Reasons Why You’re Mom-Shaming.  It’s good stuff.

So next time you see a mommy who is learning the ropes, how about offering a kind word instead of butting into her business.  I know that I really appreciated the kind words I received on occasion.

Were you ever mommy-shamed?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

The Secret Life of Adopted Parents

Another Hatchett Job, adopt, adoptive family, adoptive parents, love, creative commonsI have never written much about our journey toward parenthood.  Hubby and I adopted our oldest son and then (surprise!) were suddenly blessed with a biological son, 17 months later.  I have always said that our youngest was proof that God had a sense of humor!  Doctors surely don’t know everything and I wouldn’t change our paths to get here even one little bit.

But, most people don’t really understand what it is to be a family put together by choice as much as by chance.   Once you adopt a child, you meet, find, and get introduced to other adoptive families.  Pulling from several families and my own experiences, consider the following.

How many biological parents get asked these questions?

Which one is real? (referring to two children, one being biological and the other adopted and said in front of said children).

What IS he?  (referring to the bi-racial child of white parents.  To their credit, these parents would answer, “a little boy”  super slowly, as if the questioner was a total moron, which was usually the case).

Why are you so much taller than your brother?  (to a 6 foot 9 inch adopted child and his 5 foot 10 inch brother.).Another Hatchett Job, adopt, adoptive family, adoptive parents, love, creative commons

You’re a saint for taking on “other people’s problems” when who would want to do THAT???   (exclaimed upon learning that an adopted child was autistic and had learning disabilities, never mind that the parents were thrilled to have a child, ANY child to love).

Which one do you love more?  (Really, like that is really even an option).

Would you have kept him/her if you had known?  (referring to an ADHD adoptive child).

Will you accept a child who requires glasses?  (from the social worker to two obviously spectacled parents to be).

Why didn’t THEY (birthparents) want him/her?  Also:  Why didn’t his/her REAL family want him/her?  (honestly, they wanted this child desperately, but put his or her needs in front of their own and, by the way, my family is as REAL as it gets!).

Is he/she YOURS?  (to a transracial adoption family.  Like a lifetime of love and a court order ain’t good enough for the casual observer).

It’s so easy to have a child OVER THERE, they just give them away!  (in front of an Asian child who was transracially adopted).

Another Hatchett Job, everyone deserves a family, adopt, adoptive family, adoptive parents, love, creative commonsAnd this is only the tip of the iceberg!

So after 18 plus years of hearing this kind of well-meaning, but idiotic drivel, it was so refreshing to see an article on Huffington Post by Kathy Lynn Harris entitled, Dear Mom of an Adopted Child.  It begins:

Dear Mom of an Adopted Child,

I met you in adoption education class. I met you at the agency. I met you at my son’s school. I met you online. I met you on purpose. I met you by accident.

It doesn’t matter. The thing is, I knew you right away. I recognize the fierce determination. The grit. The fight. Because everything about what you have was a decision, and nothing about what you have was easy. You are the kind of woman who Makes.Things.Happen. After all, you made this happen, this family you have.

Maybe you prayed for it. Maybe you had to convince a partner it was the right thing. Maybe you did it alone. Maybe people told you to just be happy with what you had before. Maybe someone told you it simply wasn’t in God’s plans for you to have a child, this child whose hair you now brush lightly from his face. Maybe someone warned you about what happened to their cousin’s neighbor’s friend. Maybe you ignored them.

To read the full text, click here.

Ms. Harris touches an emotional chord as she demonstrates by example the loving gestures that a loving, waiting to adopt parent will go through on the painstaking journey to parenthood.  On a very visceral level, she gets it.

Another Hatchett Job, adopt, adoptive family, adoptive parents, love, creative commonsTo be an adoptive parent is to truly explore love to its logical conclusion, that love is everywhere and it doesn’t have to be my genetic progeny to encompass all of my hopes and dreams in this life.  Love is far more than biology.

Is there an adopted child in your family?  Tell us about him/her!  Both my younger brother and my eldest son are adopted, as are two cousins.  We love adoption!

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Why Kids Don’t Play Outside Any More

Another Hatchett Job, outdoor play, nature, kids, family, homeschoolI am not sure exactly when it happened, but the entire world has changed.  Kids simply don’t play outside anymore and it’s a crying shame!

Perhaps parents are working more hours and aren’t home to supervise latchkey kids.  Perhaps video games and movies on demand are so much more common than they should be.  Perhaps the increase in global news coverage and communications has convinced parents that there is a pedophile lurking around every corner.  Perhaps we are too lazy to go outside ourselves and then our children follow our lead. Perhaps our lifestyles are overly scheduled and the only time that a kid gets to touch the grass is at an organized sporting event, and then that grass is manicured and sprayed to be perfect turf.

Perhaps we should just GO OUTSIDE!  

Kids need free play time outside in order to help to stimulate their sensory nervous system.  And, believe it or not, this stimulation also leads to a sense of calm in ADD and ADHD kids.  Kids need to run and play and swing and spin and roll and get dirty, sweaty, and stinky.  Looking at images formed in the clouds and laughing and dreaming while laying in the grass are not wasted times for a kid (or an adult), it’s all part of who we are meant to be…connected to the Earth, our home.

In generations past, children had chores to do, sometimes inside the house, often in the barn or yard.  After chores could come fun–swimming in a creek, traipsing around the woods, building Another Hatchett Job, kids playing outside, nature, kids, homeschool, family, creative commonsforts, playing chase or tag, etc.  This allowed kids to burn off excess energy, be connected to the dark/light cycles and seasonal weather changes that we experience.  It made them healthier, hardier folks who tended to understand the world around themselves in a more meaningful way.

I recently ran across a wonderful article by Angela Hanscom that explores what has happened to eliminate outdoor play from our children’s lives.  She begins with a tale of a trip outside with children,

The third grade classroom that was visiting our nature center for the day consisted of mostly boys–rowdy, loud and rambunctious boys. As we started out into the woods, the children spoke loudly to each other in anticipation of what was to come. After playing a quick game and explaining the ground rules, it was time for free play. As soon as the children realized they had the freedom to explore and build in the woods, something funny happened – they got really quiet. They dispersed and many of them started working together to build a large teepee.

Nothing gives me more pleasure then to see children contentedly building a structure using branches and logs out in the woodland. That is, until fear kicked in and everyone’s pulse increased a few notches at the shrill cry of alarm.

Another Hatchett Job, kids playing outside, family, kids, nature, homeschool“Put the sticks, DOWN!”

The article goes on to explain some of the many sensory inputs that children receive from outside free play and why they seek out and find certain ones at certain times in their lives.  It’s a great read and I hope that you will take a few moments and check out the full article here.

I love trail riding and playing in my tiny garden.  What is your favorite outdoor activity as an adult?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Whew! A Finish!

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Embroidery by Judy Purdy; photo by Jan Hatchett

It has been a whirlwind month.  About two weeks before the big day, my baby brother announced that he was getting married!  Since we had already met and fell in love with our new family member, and my new sister-in-love, we were very excited, but under the gun for the wedding gift.  As quilters, we like to make, you guessed it, quilts and it was going to be very, very tough to get one made in two weeks for the wedding.

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Center block of the quilt holds the label.

And, honestly, we didn’t make it.  Even after Mom and I sat at the dining room table with two sewing machines and sewed like fiends, we didn’t make the deadline.  They were married on February 4th and we gifted them with their quilt on February 22nd, after they had come down to celebrate my brother’s birthday with us.  We put the last stitch in it on February 19th and washed and dried it on the following day.  Not too bad, all things considering.

I may have been a little gung-ho to get this done (out of fear of it languishing around for years, unfinished), as Dad dubbed our work area as “Jan’s sweat shop.”  Ahem.  Nuff said.

As the bride didn’t indicate any favorite colors and we couldn’t be too bold and ask outright (it would ruin the surprise), we took an “anything goes” palette of scraps in all colors.  I used an “organic, improvisational, modern” approach.  I have since learned that those terms mean, essentially, “wonky, but cool.”  In order to save time, we densely quilted the blocks onto the batting as we made them, adding the backing on separately.

Another Hatchett Job, wedding quilt, scrap quilt, frugal gift, machine quilt, modern quilt
Completed quilt top.

It was an interesting way to finish a quilt and it was quite efficient in some ways.  In retrospect, I would have added backing to each block and joined them Quilt as You Go style with sashing strips.   My sewing machine just couldn’t handle the stress of sewing through the intersections and the free arm was just short enough to prevent me from quilting the back on “in the ditch” as originally planned.  Hence, we tied the back on, Appalachian style.

It does kind of work as I tend to quilt my quilts and my Mom tends to tie hers.  This one is a unique hybrid of both techniques.

But, I wish the quilting went through to the back.  Live and learn.  It was quick and simple.  I love the end result.

And the best part is that my brother and his gorgeous wife love it, too!

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And this is why it was all worth it! Ain’t they cute???

The worst part was wanting to tell this quilt’s story, the new technique and all while I was making it and knowing that it would blow the surprise if someone told them what we were working on.  I am horrible at the discretion part of this gifting stuff!

What are you working on lately?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett


Slow Sunday Stitching 2

Another Hatchett Job, photo by Jan Hatchett, what's in my hoop, Slow Stitching Sunday, hand quilting, quiltsThis week, I was able to get some close up photos of how I am quilting this quilt that we believe my Great Aunt likely made.  Right now, it is in a 14 inch hoop connected to a table top frame.  It’s a great size to work in your lap.  Unfortunately, I am working on it of an evening in my bedroom.  The chair that is in the room is my gliding rocker that I rocked my two teenaged sons in when they were babies.  It’s old, rickety, squeaky, and when I sit in it, my chunky-monkey thighs are just at an odd angle for holding it comfortably on my lap.  Instead of leaving my hands free to work, I feel like I must keep hold of the hoop to keep it steady.  vintage quilt

I have used this hoop many, many times before, so I am not exactly sure why it just doesn’t feel “right” in my lap this time.  Perhaps I have just lost the feel for it temporarily as I have let this project languish a bit over the summer months.  I do have a larger, round hoop that I might switch it into to see if that helps.  I am not sure of the size of the hoop, but I am just reach to the center when it is sitting in the crook of my elbow, so it is technically a bit too large for me.  Who knows what will work?  I will just keep on trying and stitching.

The latest stitches I did simply look bad where I couldn’t get it all together, but that is okay, they are not so horrible that they will be noticed (unless you specifically look for them), so I am not overly concerned.  The few quilts that we have from my Mom’s side of the family were strictly utilitarian.  Nothing fancy.  Just very warm and useful.  So, even my worst stitches are in keeping with the type of quilt this was intended to be.  I made the backing of plain, white muslin, partly because that is just the kind of thing my Great Grandmother, Grandmother, and Great Aunts tended to use when flannel wasn’t available.  Plus, I doubt I could have found the perfect fabric to make a pretty back.  Reproduction feed sack fabrics are available locally, but this has fabrics from feed sacks to early 50s and I didn’t want to distract from the quilt top.  This is all about the ladies who made the top, in my opinion.  I want to finish it up to honor their quilting legacy, not make it anything that would have been unintended by them.  To that end, I will most likely bind it in white muslin also.  Boring, but typical of utilitarian quilts.

Another Hatchett Job, photo by Jan Hatchett, binding on baby quilt, quiltingI also fit in a bit of hand sewing on some binding for a baby quilt that will be going to a shower today.  I will have a post up about this particular quilt later in the week.  It is a machine pieced and quilted gift that needed to be finished quickly, but I think I enjoyed hand sewing the binding more than any other part of the process.  There is something very soothing and tactile about needle and thread.

I am linking up over at Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday.

What have you been making?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett


The Problem With Animal Rehabilitation

Another Hatchett Job, wildlife, wildlife rehabilitation
Cuddling with three sleepy squirrels after feeding time.

It is difficult to be pleased with the state of Animal Rehabilitation in our state these days. Saturday, we came into possession of 3 baby squirrels that had been abandoned by their mother. We contacted every Rehab facility within an hour and a half of our home to find appropriate care for these babies.

Of all of these, only one responded by email. It told us that we were not as able to care for squirrels as a Mama Squirrel (no kidding) and that they were full, so contact the nearest rehab center. Unfortunately, they were the nearest center and that left us with little help. The Georgia DNR website indicated that all facilities were overrun with baby squirrels right now. Great.

Ideally, wildlife doesn’t need human help or intervention. We totally understand that. It was never our intention to do anything other than try to reunite babies with their mama or a trained and appropriate caregiver.

Apparently, in the absence of a trained, qualified Animal Rehabilitation Specialist, one simply should do (per state law) nothing. Just let them die, I suppose. That didn’t feel right to me.Another Hatchett Job, wildlife, wildlife rehabilitation

Fortunately, hubby got a call through to a friend at Atlanta Audubon who happens to be a Rehabber. Unfortunately, she was out of town, but she obviously didn’t think that these babies didn’t deserve care and gave us instructions as to exactly what she would do.

And that gave us a great deal of hope for these 3 little squirrels.

We immediately followed her initial instructions and put them in a basket, affixed to a tree at the same level that the original nest was at with high hopes that the mother squirrel would return to care for her young. But, she didn’t return in enough time to keep the babies from being weak and dehydrated.

Another Hatchett Job, wildlife, wildlife rehabilitationIn a highly technical sense, this makes us criminals. But, isn’t it more likely that the criminal offense is in not having enough people available to help these little ones when they are in need? Actually, I don’t feel very criminal at all in that our friend told us to feed and care for them. And she is a professional.

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This is what our squirrel babies will look like when they are adults.

So, we have been feeding, keeping warm, and cleaning these poor little critters. Night time feedings were definitely not what I had planned to do with my sleep hours, but tiny tummies need to be kept warm and full of quality food.

The kiddos help out with the warming while we feed and are amazingly gentle and protective over them. It makes me proud that they are kind to even the littlest of creatures. I grow even prouder when they don’t stop being kind when being pooped and peed on. It’s a lot like being a parent, sometimes!

By our best estimate, these squirrels are just between 4 and 5 weeks old. So, in 6 to 7 weeks, they will be released into our back yard, very near to where they were found.

I choose to believe that no act of kindness is ever wasted and this one is worth every moment.  So, we will forever put some squirrel food out and hope to catch a glimpse of our three baby squirrels.

Another Hatchett Job, wildlife, wildlife rehabilitationAddendum:  The day after I wrote this post, we did receive a call from Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary.  They did ultimately take our baby squirrels and are raising them along with several other babies that were orphaned.  Ultimately, they will receive appropriate vet care and be released on their 500+ acre property where hunting is forbidden.  We seriously miss them, but will be able to visit them often in their new home this fall.  While a part of me would like to have raised them myself, I know that they are better cared for by a staff that is trained to get them prepared to be released back into

Another Hatchett Job, wildlife, wildlife rehabilitation
Squirrel wrangling at feeding time.


What is your favorite encounter with wildlife?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett