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    Potty Training Boot Camp

    October 24, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    The potty training of my poor little daughter Q. has been significantly delayed by circumstance. I trained my two older children shortly after their second birthdays. However, when I was training the other two, I didn’t have schooling to worry about. When my daughter A. was ready, for instance, we just stopped what we were doing and focused on the toilet for a week.

    Enter homeschooling.

    The issue for me became clear: I couldn’t give Q. the undivided attention she needed on schooldays. She turned two in December {of 2008}, and it was agreed that training would need to wait until June when we were taking a break from lessons.

    But, as most of you know, my husband became gravely ill before the school year was up, and instead of potty training in a certain week of June, I spent that exact week spending long hours by his side in the ICU.

    When he began to recover, I thought that maybe I’d still be able to pull off training during the summer. But at first, he was too weak and required a lot of my extra time and energy. Later, because his driver’s license had been taken from him due to seizures, I found that I didn’t have the uninterrupted days I needed because I had to be our family’s only driver.

    And, by the time we reached August, I was just tired. And school had to be planned for the coming year. And then late August came, and lessons began again, and Q. still wasn’t trained.

    And then we found further cause for delay. Our trip in September was so close, we thought that we’d like to wait until we got back so that we didn’t have to worry about constantly finding bathrooms for a newbie.

    Around the time we got back from our trip, I decided that what I needed to do was boot camp. I needed two completely uninterrupted days with Q. before I could combine hovering over her with lessons. I scoured the calendar, and found that this very weekend, right now while I type, was the designated weekend.

    I also decided to leave home for this. There is no such thing as uninterrupted in a house full of small children {I once counted and I was asked for help or favors 20 times in 90 minutes}, and yet I firmly believed that our ability to focus was what was going to make this successful for her in such a short time.

    So, here we are, on a weekend visit at Granddad and Granmama’s house. We came armed with dresses {no bloomers for now}, brand new underwear, yummy drinks, our family’s beloved potty chair, and a bag of chocolate-covered almonds to use as rewards.

    In the midst of all of this, I have realized how infrequently I get to be alone with Q. We are getting a chance to visit, just the two of us. Last night, when we arrived here, Q. said, as we were walking to the door, “I not scared….Well…maybe I scared a widdle.” She takes this Big Girl thing very seriously.

    So the morning has been filled, surprisingly, with complete success. We have had no accidents. We threw her last diaper in the trash this morning, and took a picture to memorialize it. She is currently taking in a lot of liquid on purpose, in hopes of earning more chocolate almonds. She is, I’m learning, very sensitive to sugar, and is completely intoxicated from the small handful of almonds she has consumed already.

    In other news, in our family potty training coincides with giving up the crib. So we brought her brand new green gingham sheets, and her quilt that exactly matches Big Sister’s. We’re washing and folding them in preparation for our return home tomorrow evening. Si’s job while we’re away is to disassemble her crib and move it to E.’s room, as O. will be joining his brother soon.

    Boo hoo.


    The exciting part about all of this is that it is working. I had expected today to be completely stressful, consisting of me mopping up puddles all over my parents’ tile floor. On the contrary, we are having a delightful time. This does require focus on her point, but she is obviously more than ready.

    And me? I find myself getting nostalgic about this. I only have one child left to train. I’ll probably cry when I throw away his last diaper.

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  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts October 28, 2009 at 5:20 am

    Hello again…Yes, it IS weird writing to someone with the same name. I agree. But at least we’ll never spell it wrong. πŸ˜‰

    About Latin: The approach I take to learning languages (including English) is one I’ve gleaned from the Bluedorns (most specifically their book Teaching the Trivium. So this means that we really aren’t doing anything all that impressive. We aren’t really doing bookwork or grammar or anything like that. We won’t do that until around age 10.

    With that said, I wanted them to be familiar with the language (or languages) before that point, so that it is more like English, where grammar is enlightening rather than confusing.

    So, we are starting with Song School Latin. By the end of the book, they will know 100 Latin words and phrases. So far they all know the words for man, woman, brother, sister, etc., as well as basic conversational phrases like How are you? and What is your name?

    This was all I planned for this year. However, comma…My father somehow got his hands on Rosetta Stone Level One Latin. This, too, is a no grammar approach, but rather hearing words, reading them, and matching them with photos. (The phrases are more descriptive, like girl on a horse or boy under the table.)

    The first lesson on Rosetta used a lot of the same words we’ve used so far in Song School, so plan is to allow my son to work on that whenever he is visiting his grandparents.

    I would never have gone out of my way to purchase that sort of thing at this point in our eduational life, but it is a blessing and I think it’ll be helfpul, especially since it doesn’t seem to focus on grammar.

    Like I said, I would want to do Greek sometime, and there is actually a Song School Greek out there as well. We would probably be interested in that since it’d be a format we’re used to.

    Plus singing the songs lends a happy feel to the morning!

  • Reply Brandy October 28, 2009 at 12:08 am


    [do you know how weird it is to write something to someone with the same name as you? lol]

    Our oldest learned to read at about 3 too. Right now, extended family is surprised to know she can read Little House in the Big Woods or Justin Morgan Had a Horse by herself. We’re HUGE readers here, so I’m not too surprised.

    I do wonder if our youngest will be so eager to learn to read. She has some board books that she LOOOOVES to flip through, so maybe that’s a sign that she has interest? If so, I hope she keeps it!

    It’s easy to compare the growth, in any area, of our children to others … even if it’s to our own other children … isn’t it?

    I’ve been guilty of that.

    Something I’ve been pondering lately, though. Why is it ok for babies to progress at their own pace with no real huge comparisons being made (I know this isn’t always the case). But all-the-sudden at 3 or 4, it’s like a huge contest or something? {“oh your child isn’t doing that yet? Mine’s been doing that for months now!”}

    Why can’t children just be allowed to progress at their own, natural pace throughout ALL of childhood?

    BTW, my husband and I are wanting to begin teaching our oldest Latin next year (something that’ll be new for ALL of us!). I saw the conversation in an earlier blog post about teaching Greek … and I bookmarked everything recommended so I can check it out myself. I was wondering, though, if you could share what you use to teach yours Latin?

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts October 26, 2009 at 10:17 pm


    I wrote a post for you today. πŸ˜‰

    Good luck with Seth!

  • Reply Ellen October 26, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Hey! Any tips on potty training would be much appreciated. I have this book called “Toilet Training in Less Than A Day.” Is that what you used? I’m very nervous about doing this with Seth, though I do think he’s really ready for it. We’re starting on Saturday.

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts October 25, 2009 at 11:17 pm


    So I’ll extend the official Afterthoughts welcome to you now. πŸ˜‰

    What you said about your daughter, and how you said it, struck a chord with me. I was thinking about Neighbor M., who I am currently teaching to read. My oldest was “advanced” and learned to read at the age of three. He has done fine, and he is still ahead of his peers in that area, having a natural gift. However, I am noticing how easy it is to teach an older child! (She just turned five.) In fact, there is almost no need for review, for she assimilates the lesson from each day effortlessly.

    There had been a part of me that felt like my older daughter (age 4.5) was “behind” because she was behind her brother, but I am wondering if I’ll discover that waiting until she is older will be essentially the same, that she is so ready that there is little frustration or failure.

    I guess this shouldn’t be a stretch for me, given my inclination to delay math. πŸ™‚

    In other news…I have never reviewed the Abeka curriculum, so I know nothing about it, but I look forward to hearing what you figure out for next year!

  • Reply Brandy October 25, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Hi Brandy! First time commenting, but I’ve been reading awhile now. Your blog is very quickly becoming one of my absolute favorites. Lots of what you write gets me thinking … especially how you homeschool. Right now we’re doing all Abeka and I’m not liking it (my oldest is about to turn 6, we’re doing 1st grade material and she’s blowing right through it even though Abeka is supposed to be challenging). We decided to do things differently next school year and a lot of what you’ve mentioned has been bookmarked to check into later.

    Anyway. Our oldest was delayed in potty training too … due to several moves after her 2nd birthday. Though I wanted to train her much earlier than we actually did … I’m kinda glad that we did end up having to wait. Like you, I found it was SO much easier. She was more than ready and caught on VERY quickly.

    I’m hoping our youngest daughter will be easy to train too — though I have some time before I’m going to start with her yet (she recently turned one)

    Glad you’re having time to bond with Q. — especially during this time of potty training!

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