My son Rockford made Fox News and beyond!

21 Apr

What didn’t make it on the news segments

 How did he get so smart?

Rockford Ramirez in Fox News

Stepping into the spotlight

 

How did the situation go from making a cute home video to being interviewed by Fox News in New York? I would like to share with you candidly how this Christian stay-at-home-mom and my husband, a private Christian school teacher have been raising this so-called “Genius kid”.

Lately my family has been in the news locally, nationally and even internationally. Though we were excited to share with the world the passion our son has for learning, I know news segments can only dedicate so much time to a story and unfortunately not all can be said at that allotted time slot. I have read some of the comments people have made on websites, blogs and Facebook and thought I’d fill in the rest of our story. Perhaps this might bring some insight to your questions, concerns and or interest you have mentioned. If you just bluntly want to be mean and not hear the facts, this is not for you and you can stop reading now and go on to the next story you want to pass judgement on. If you are sincerely interested in Rockford’s development, please read on.

Rockford’s development timeline

Before becoming a mother I knew it was my desire to be a stay-at-home mom and bring the rich cultural heritage that my parents bestowed on my siblings and myself. My mother being home for me meant comfort, support and stability. While my father worked one or two jobs, my mom nurtured and tended us kids. The benefits I saw in this made me more sure of my decision to do the same for my kids.

After giving up, or placing on hold, my five-year lucrative sales career, I became a stay-home mom. This has meant for my husband to take on two and at a point three jobs to allow me to stay home with our children. This may seem an extreme responsibility, but if you ask him he’ll say it has all been worth it.

Like every mother-to-be, I too saturated myself with baby “how to” books.  I knew more or less what to expect for the first twelve months of my baby’s life. We were pretty much on track until he hit about 8 months. Like every mom out there, I too wanted my child to reach his highest potential and to be a good person. I had heard of these videos called, “Your Baby Can Read” and I was interested, but being on a budget meant I had to pass on them, until I came across one at the thrift store that is. I found only one of the four and it was VHS format, but I didn’t mind because I still had my college combo TV that played VHS. I brought it home and played it for Rockford at the age of four months. You may or may not agree with this practice, but this is what we did and eventually bought the rest of the videos on eBay.

At about 8 months old, I remember our church worship leader sharing with me after a service that he had never seen a toddler be able to clap on beat throughout a song, “Half of the church can’t even do that,” he said. Though it is normal for a child to start clapping by 7 1/2 months, the concept of clapping “on beat” to the music is abnormal. 

your baby can read VHS

the Starter video

At the age of 17 months we were attending “Baby and Me” reading time at the library and Rockford showed an interest in the foam letters matt where our group sat during story time. He was more than interested though, a little obsessive. In a couple of months it would be Christmas, so naturally we bought him a foam letters & numbers matt. These letters and numbers he soon would regard as “his letters and numbers”, greeting them with a good morning and good night every day.

letters and numbers foam matt

Foam matt 12x12

At the age of 1 1/2 years old, my mother-in-law and I were sitting at a church event. Rockford, who was sitting on my lap turned to play with my necklace and started to count the rocks around it, “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,” he counted as he carefully touched a new rock. I knew not to expect this until the age of 2 1/2 -3 years old. This is why I was a little alarmed by this realization. Sure I had sung, read and said the numbers to him, but he had never repeated them back to me. It was here that my mother-in-law suggested I start researching about how to help a child who is advanced in development.

I started my research and quest to become the best mom/teacher for my child. I read books, articles online and listened to the plethora of solicited and unsolicited advise from onlookers. I felt scared, uncertain and worried that I wouldn’t be able to take on this tall order. I found comfort and confidence in a verse.

 “…Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9.

Mama is promoted to instructor

The first order of business was to hone in on Rockford’s style of learning. I had observed him all his life and had learned how he played with his toys, how he discovered the environment around him, what motivated him and what kept him interested. I was very interested in Maria Montessori’s method approach, where the “child” leads the instructor and not the other way around. After reading material centered on this method, I was even more confident of Rockford’s development.  I implemented this method with some alterations to better suit Rockford and myself. The key principle is awesome; only teach when both child and parent are in the mood for it, at least that is what one of the books encouraged for pre-school years. This is what made the experience so much fun for both Rockford and me. Aside from the Montessori method, I was encouraged by other material that centered on raising boys, developing children with character, and parenting with biblical principles.

After creating a prepared environment conducive to learning and discovery, Rockford was not only playing, but learning and discovering at the same time. One thing that might seem odd to many parents is that in my house my boys are allowed to jump on our couches. Our place is small and I know rambunctious boys have a lot of energy to burn.  Some days the park, library or malls aren’t enough for them. Our home is organized in a child-friendly way to encourage exploration and fun, always supervised of course.

Perfectly Made…God doesn’t make mistakes

“For you created my inmost being; 
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
   when I was made in the secret place,
   when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
   all the days ordained for me were written in your book
   before one of them came to be” ~Psalm 139:13-16

There have been many stories giving credit for Rockford’s knowledge that range from the iPhone app alone to the baby reading videos alone. I want to give you all more credit than to think  you actually believe those items alone could derive his advanced abilities. The only certainty that holds truth is that God created my son exactly as he is perfect…for our family. As parents, we have come along side to embrace, nurture and cultivate his innate abilities. The same God that blessed Mariah Carey with her voice, blessed Joe Montana with athletic ability, has blessed Rockford with great academic capability. Though to his parents this is not the most important thing in his life, it is certainly our responsibility to nurture it.

Outdoor Activities OR Learning Activities = FUN

From jumping outside on our mini jumper, to chasing down bugs to put in jars, these are the activities that make our home fun. Gas prices haven’t deterred us from going to the library, museums and parks, though not as often as we use to attend. Every outing declares a picnic and even if we don’t leave our home, our backyard will do.  Picnics are usually followed by Rockford taking off to play in the playset, sit down and read with mommy and baby or just relaxing and talking about random stuff. I could never stop talking even if I tried, so I guess Rockford can thank his mama for his advanced speaking capabilities. I was a communication major, what can I say.

If and when we do “learning activities”, that basically consist of home-made Montessori exercises or any made up activity I think Rockford would love i.e. playing with his cars or dinosaurs and making it a language activity, it is only during the baby’s first nap time of the day (never lasting more than 1 1/2-2 hours long).  Some days he gets antsy and begs to start early, but if I’m not up for it, he has to wait until his brother is down for a nap. The way I see it, when I am with him during these activities that is the main event (being with him), the learning that takes place is just a plus. His daily activities can range from reading, painting, singing, dancing, watching a video, playing outside with brother Rocco and yes, playing on mommy’s iPhone. In many of these activities we include Bible based themes to encourage bible stories, verses and songs. However, for some of these activities he first had to learn to read.

Rockford starts to read

He had a passion for letters and with the use of the foam letters matt, a creative song to learn phonetic sounds of letters, and a home-made movable letters activity (see video below), he was on the right track to reading. I was also reading a book about teaching children how to read and it guaranteed that my child would be reading before I finished it. That was true, he did start reading when I was only half way through it.  Rockford started reading at exactly 2 1/2 years old (see video below). I stopped reading it because Rockford had moved on and I had to keep up with his next interest…states and capitals. This by no means that he stopped reading books, he just started discovering a new interest. I’ve noticed he doesn’t let go of a subject/interest until he has mastered it, then he moves on to a new challenge/interest.

Rockford learns states & capitals

I randomly picked up a 60-piece USA puzzle at a local Dollar Tree. He started completing it with mom and dad and soon was doing it on his own while stating the geographical location of a given state as he placed it down.  He started asking questions about the states and I knew it was time to cultivate this new interest of his. He started reading and pointing out the states as I would call out a state, then learning the states’ shape and then their capitals. The fact that he was able to read helped him because at the bottom of the puzzle it says the state and capital next to it. I eventually bought a states and capitals kit that included songs and a map that I recreated to have removable states with velcro backing as seen on video. This is how he learned his states and capitals, the iPhone app enhanced what he was already learning. Again, the fact he could read helped him navigate the iPhone app that is geared towards 4-7 year olds.

Closing thoughts

Many people have said to me, “You must be so proud of him!” To them I want to piggy back on what someone said on a comment, “We’ll have to see how he turns out when he grows up.” I agree with this statement because my ultimate goal for my child is to “train him up in the way he should go so that when he is old he will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6. If Rockford grows up to be a man of Integrity, with good manners who loves the Lord, then I could not be more proud.

Thank you stopping by and reading the rest of the story. I know some might disagree with my style of parenting and that’s ok, I understand we all have different styles according to what best suits us and our families. I started this blog in January after my sister suggested I should to share Rockford’s funny stories. It has since evolved to include our day-to-day funny, moving and learning experiences. To date, my biggest compliment has come from a dear friend who wrote, “Reading your posts makes me want to be better [parent]”. I am encouraged by this.

I want to welcome all your genuine comments and questions. Finally, I want to leave you with this thought. When it’s all said and done, this will remain the cornerstone for our home,

“As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord”

                                ~Joshua 24:15

God Bless,

Raquel Ramirez aka Rockford’s Mama

Fox News Segments:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YkU7cainj0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4W35yrVxvPg&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LkDgKr0nEk&feature=related

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14 Responses to “My son Rockford made Fox News and beyond!”

  1. kbomb78 April 21, 2011 at 5:15 am #

    Raquel,
    Great Post, I am sure you are aware that peoples rude comments are just jealousy it is terrible. You are doing a Great Job as you know and Rockford is wonderful! You are blessed to be so in tune with your child you are able to help him develop into the smart young man he is. Keep it up! Children are a blessing and they are all special in their own way! too bad everyone can’t see that!

    • Training Up My Boys April 21, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

      Thanks Kahlina for your support. I just wanted to share with everyone the entire story to make sure they don’t like me for me and not for what didn’t know about me 🙂 lol Thanks again.

  2. Diana April 21, 2011 at 7:18 am #

    Raquel,
    Thank you for sharing all this with us. I enjoyed reading it and I will incorporate some of your strategies with my kids.

    I have not read any negative comments but I am sure these people do not appreciate the effort you are making to raise your children. Being a stay-at-home parent is one thing but taking active participation in the academic and moral education of your child is much more work than most people think.

    I admire all you do for your children and I’ll stay tune for more…

    • Training Up My Boys April 21, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

      Diana, I am so glad to hear you can benefit from some of my practices. I will try to incorporate more of our “learning activities” in my blog. Thank you for stopping and I do hope ou stay tuned. Blessings to you and your family 🙂

  3. Gunnar April 21, 2011 at 7:52 am #

    Good word Raquel! Now, how did your love for Bunko factor into this? 😉

    • Training Up My Boys April 21, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by Gunnar. And to answer your question. I always find favor in God, even in the little things…like Bunko 😉

  4. mommylili April 21, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    Ok, when the Lord calls me home, I want you to write my life story ok??? You’re an awesome writer, I love your style and tactfulnes.

    Ok, you’re going in my will as costudial parents if anyting happens to us =)….. But in all honesty, I agree with the previous comments Rachell. And as you know, I am so proud of you, my little sister for the woman, mother, wife and God’s (spoiled little) princess that you have become. When it’s all said and done, the only opinion that really matters is God’s, our maker =)

    • Training Up My Boys April 21, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

      Wow your life story huh? What a tall order! And you mean I finally get to have girls? 🙂 Thank you Lili, for being a sister, a sister in Christ, a friend, and a Christian councelor to me. The Lord has been good to me in so many ways…even when he entrusted trials in my life. I am grateful for it all because I am better for it. Your last statment is true and beautiful, but sometimes so easy to forget when our carnal instict gets the best of us. As always, continue keeping me in prayer to bless others with all my being. By the way, you are also an amazing mom, sister, mother and I wont even bother saying girlfriend to your hubby because you are the poster child for that 🙂 What a role you are!

  5. erika crosthwaite April 21, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    I feels so motivated and inspired to be a parent after meeting you too, i have enjoyed our playdates and biblestudy’s. For me everyday is about how i can become a better person, better mom, better wife!hehe I am so glad i sparked conversation with you at the mcdonalds your an awesome beautiful mommy and Im glad You are my friend Thanks for being You! 🙂 Danny Loves Rockford too! He could watch him all day.. now just have him teach Danny his states ok LOL

    • erika crosthwaite April 21, 2011 at 10:08 am #

      *BETTER parent* Love that psalm TOo My favorite. ❤

    • Training Up My Boys April 21, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

      I guess that meeting was anything but coincidental Erika. What a dear friendship we both found that day. Amazing what we can find on an ordinary day at an ordinary place…a friendship. Your boys are joy and you are a very sweet and special woman Erika. I too have enjoyed the bible studies and play dates. Let’s make a deal, Rockford teaches Danny states and Danny motivates Rockford to poop in toilet 🙂 Hope to see you soon.

  6. Celiza July 28, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    Thank you for sharing! God never does this by chance. You recently added me as a friend on Facebook. Tonight as I looked through your pics I became intrigued as to why your son was on the news. I headed to your blog and read this post. See…I am in the beginning stages of making a change for my family. My husband is from the Dominican Republic and we have recently made the decision to move back there with our 4 young children because this is the best opportunity I can have to be able to stay at home with my kids. I presently work full time. I was able to stay at home for the first year of my first born and I have seen the difference that makes. She too was counting in English and Spanish at 18 months and knew her letters and their sounds and her colors in English and Spanish. The decision to move has also made me come to the conclusion that I will be homeschooling my children…so needless to say this was of God. I feel encouraged. I was feeling a bit sad at the idea of leaving here and all that I know….but like I said, nothing in God happens by chance. Thank you and may God Bless you!

    • Training Up My Boys August 4, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

      Celiza, I can’t tell you how much I apprecite your comment. It is moments like these that remind me why I do this. I am so blessed to hear you were the least encouraged by stopping by this blog. I have had you in my thoughts in prayers these last days. I dont’ know how I would handle a life change like you are undergoing. However, I have undergone, life struggles and trials. I even blogged about this because I wanted my kids to know how their parents trusted on the Lord for direction, wisdom and strength. The title of that article is “Thriving in life’s storms as our kids look on”. We forget sometimes that whatever we do our kids are watching and learning from us as how to handle situations. What better gift to them then to show them God is the answer in all our trials and show them peace and calm through it all. I pray God will give you and your family directions and wisdom. I will keep you in prayer and please keep coming back. Blessings!

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