A Kid’s Life: USA

13 Aug

I’m happy to present another A Kid’s Life interview today.  This series is a way for us all to learn a little bit about daily family life from countries around the world.  I’ve absolutely loved the last two interviews from Italy and Japan.  I can’t get enough of  hearing about all those cultural differences between countries and daily kid rhythms.

Today’s interview is with Jen from the Classic Play! blog.  Jen lives in America, is mom to two beautiful kids, wife to a talented photographer and filmmaker and exudes an energy that baffles me.   Her blog Classic Play! is a fountain of ideas, resources and creative endeavors for families everywhere.  This blog has saved my sanity on more than one occasion when I had a house full of bored kids (her kid’s art projects are a fave of mine).

On top of running her successful blog she’s co-owner of a really neat kid’s toy company and even writes for various other sources.  Jen is all about inspiring and motivating families to get creative.  And I love that.

I’m really grateful that she took the time to answer my questions and give us all a peek into her and her family’s daily life.    And I learned some new things…I’d never heard of red shirting before in my life!   So here we go…

What country do you live in?

The United States

Are you and your husband the same nationality?


How many languages are spoken in your house?  Which one(s)?

Just one, English.

How many kids do you have?  What are their ages?

We have two children.  Ellie is 9 and Jonah is 7.

At what age do kids start school in your country?

Many kids in America, if they’re not in daycare, start school in a private preschool around age 3 or 4 for a couple half days a week. The public system kicks in at age 5 with kindergarten. Parents do have the option to hold their child back one year, which more and more families are doing. It’s a phenomenon called Red Shirting. It’s not very popular in my area, but in other parts of the country, it’s become the norm.

During the school year at what time do your kids usually wake up?

Between 7 and 7:15am.

What do your kids typically eat for breakfast?

My kids have a several favorites: yogurt with honey, cold cereal with milk, scrambled eggs and toast, and oatmeal with a little maple syrup. On weekends we have waffles or pancakes.

What time does school start?  What time does it finish?  What is the weekly school schedule?

My kids get on the bus at 8:15 and step off the bus at 3:30 pm. That schedule is consistent Monday through Friday except holidays. In our area, we get major Jewish, Christian and Federal holidays off.  The kids also get an entire week off around Christmas and spring break around Easter.

Do you kids learn a second/third language at school?  From what age?

Sadly this is where we significantly lag behind other countries. Everyone is required to take 2 years of a language in high school. High school is grades 9-12 and students are typically ages 14-18 years old.

Do your kids eat lunch at school or at home?  What’s a typical lunch for your kids? 

Public school (which is where my kids attend) kids eat lunch at school. The school provides meals for a small fee, but almost everything is fried or nutritious-lite. So, I opt to pack my kids a lunch instead. I rotate between cold lunches: sandwich, fruit, veggie, yogurt, something crunchy (usually crackers) and hot lunches in a thermos: rice and beans, soup, or pasta.

Do your kids do any after school activities?

Mine don’t. But many American kids do. Sometimes our school will offer an after school program run by the teachers (yoga, book and cook club) and the kids will attend that. But generally I’ve avoided scheduling them after school. Although, my daughter is anxious to take guitar lessons and play field hockey so we may start those this fall.

What time do you eat dinner?  What’s a typical dinner you would eat?

We eat around 7 or 7:30pm. We eat a lot of different kinds of foods. Here are a couple family favorites: turkey meatloaf and mashed potatoes, shrimp tacos with corn and avocado salad, ravioli and take out. We eat pretty seasonally, so in the fall and winter we eat hearty things like stew, chili and meatloaf and in the spring/summer we eat light pasta dishes, salads and seafood.

How much television/computer time do your kids have on a daily basis?

Summertime has definitely been more lax. But during the school year, they’re allowed an hour a day.

What time do your kids go to bed?

Most of the year, they’re in bed by 8 but they’re up reading until 8:30 or so. During the summer? It’s probably 9:00 or 9:30 before they’re in bed.

What are some typical week-end family activities?

Luckily, we live in a very convenient spot for visiting cities. Washington DC is about 40 minutes to our south (depending on traffic), Philadelphia is about 2 hours away and NYC is 3.5 hours to our north. We also have mountains a couple hours west and the Atlantic ocean a few hours to our east. So, we spend a lot of time exploring what’s around us. When we stay local, you can find us at a coffee shop, strolling around Baltimore’s harbor, visiting museums or catching lunch.

When do your kids have vacation from school?

This year, because we didn’t have any snow days, the kids got off the first week of June. Typically though they have vacation from mid June and return the last week of August.

What do your kids do during summer vacation?

Many American kids go to camps. My kids have spent their vacation going to the pool, playing with friends, camping with their grandparents, and going to the beach. On days where we we stay around the house, my son plays with cars or makes something out of scraps around the house and my daughter will read a book or listen to records. They’d play video games if I let them so I have to enforce some strict limits on screen time.

What are the typical “first foods” for a baby to eat in your country?

When mine were little I started with rice cereal. I’m pretty sure that’s still standard for many Americans. Other firsts include sweet potatoes or carrots.

{thanks again Jen and stay tuned for the upcoming A Kid’s Life  interview from the Philippines!}


16 Responses to “A Kid’s Life: USA”

  1. Jen August 14, 2012 at 05:11 #

    Hi Jillian,
    So gorgeous to see the beautiful Jen Cooper on your blog. She has become a sincere ally in the world of blogging and I am so happy to call her a friend. If you are in need of an Australian perspective, we’d love to help you out! I also know someone lovely in NZ too for that matter….
    Jen Murnaghan

    • jc August 14, 2012 at 09:37 #

      Yes…Jen is indeed a sincere ally in the world of blogging. Perfectly said! And yes I am very interested in an Australian perspective (and a NZ one too for that matter). Thanks for the offer! I’ll send you an email asap.

  2. Jen August 15, 2012 at 02:10 #

    Thanks so much for having me Jillian. I’m so excited you and Jen “met.” You’ll love each other!


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