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Join our bloggers as they share their experiences on the challenges and joys of helping children succeed in school.

Keep Your Child Reading All Summer

Keep Your Child Reading This SummerOne successful reading strategy I’ve used in 1st grade is pairing students with a 5th grade “reading buddy.” We would meet with our buddies once a week. Sometimes the older student would read to the younger one. Other times, the 1st graders would read to the 5th graders. Often, there was a discussion about the book, followed by a drawing or simple project related to the story. It’s always sad to lose our buddies at the end of the school year!

With summer vacation coming soon, this concept got me thinking about ideas to keep students reading all summer long.

Here are six simple suggestions:

  • Pair up your young child with an older sibling or trusted neighborhood student for some summer “buddy” reading time. One way to thank that older child is a gift card to a local ice cream shop or game shop.
  • Create a special “reading spot” for rainy days. This could be a bean bag chair, soft large pillow, or sheet over a table for a reading tent. Keep a small basket of books by his favorite author in the spot.
  • Focus on illustrations that tell the story. Young students love wordless books that tell a great story with pictures. Get some of these from your local library. Two authors that create these types of books are Frank Asch and Mercer Mayer. Your librarian can suggest more.
  • Focus on award-winning books. Ask your librarian to help you look for books that have won the Caldecott Medal or Newbery Award. Read them together with your child, and discuss what she thinks made them award-winners.
  • Read some child cookbooks and together make one or two of the easy recipes.
  • Have a family “read aloud” night. Take turns reading a family favorite book aloud.

When you combine reading practice with fun activities, you help create a lifelong love of reading!

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Father-Daughter Travel Tradition Is Born, Accidentially

Fifth grade is American History year. And four years ago my oldest daughter’s class (then 5th grade) had planned to visit Washington D.C. to tour the National Mall and a few historic sites. The problem was that the “group” plan for the class to travel was going to cost more than $2,000 for my kid—and nearly $3,000 for the chaperone! (And no way was I sending my 5th grader on a trip like that without a parent!)

We weren’t allowed to use air miles or hotel points, we wouldn’t be able to eat our own choice of food, and the hotels booked would be four kids to a room and no guarantee they wouldn’t be co-ed. Um. Yeah? NO.

Instead we put together our own “American History Washington D.C. Tour.” (And my favorite part of the whole experience? It was a Father-Daughter excursion!)

The whole thing cost less than $700 for both of them for over a week, skipping the expensive (yet cheaply done) group tour.

My husband also turned it into a “learn how to use public transportation” excursion. They flew in to Baltimore, took AMTRAK to Washington D.C., and then used subways and buses to get around the city. Best of all, he allowed the 11 year old to map out their daily jaunts and determine the best transportation routes each day!

Her favorite part of the trip was seeing the actual Declaration of Independence. She couldn’t get over that it was the REAL document! They also stumbled upon so-called “Embassy Row”—where all the foreign embassies are located—and found that all the embassies had opened their doors to the public that week! They were allowed inside the Italian Consulate (all the Italian marble, ooh la la), and the London Embassy gave out small Union Jack flags (which they brought home to the younger siblings).

Now, here we are four years later. My middle daughter is now in 5th grade and she’s having none of our “It was a one-time thing” business about her sister’s father-daughter trip. Oh no. This tradition has officially begun! (That's her and her Dad in the photo, above).

She’s super excited about HER trip to D.C. this year! And yup, again it’s Dad doing the honors. (Maybe Mom will get to take the boy child in three more years?)

We’ve been planning the trip for months now. (You have to get permission way in advance to go inside many of the government buildings.)

The father-daughter combo is making it as educational (and fun) as possible. With tours of the White House and Capitol planned, all the national mall time they can stand, and even a trip out to Mount Vernon (bonus!) And it turns out that the Yankees are in town to play the Orioles so even they figured out how to fit that in too!

And yes again they will be mainly using public transportation to get from point “A” to the Lincoln Monument.

Their trip will span the weekend of Easter, which is a little weird, but we decided it was worth it. An unforgettable trip with her Dad, while the rest of us enjoy our own fun weekend with Easter treats and celebrations, seemed WIN/WIN.

The biggest bummer is that the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin will have already bloomed by the time they get there in early April, due to the early spring back East.

Good thing the monuments are fun to see in any season!

What types of “educational travel” have you taken with your kids?

 

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Father-Daughter Travel Tradition Is Born, Accidentially

Fifth grade is American History year. And four years ago my oldest daughter’s class (then 5th grade) had planned to visit Washington D.C. to tour the National Mall and a few historic sites. The problem was that the “group” plan for the class to travel was going to cost more than $2,000 for my kid—and nearly $3,000 for the chaperone! (And no way was I sending my 5th grader on a trip like that without a parent!)

We weren’t allowed to use air miles or hotel points, we wouldn’t be able to eat our own choice of food, and the hotels booked would be four kids to a room and no guarantee they wouldn’t be co-ed. Um. Yeah? NO.

Instead we put together our own “American History Washington D.C. Tour.” (And my favorite part of the whole experience? It was a Father-Daughter excursion!)

The whole thing cost less than $700 for both of them for over a week, skipping the expensive (yet cheaply done) group tour.

My husband also turned it into a “learn how to use public transportation” excursion. They flew in to Baltimore, took AMTRAK to Washington D.C., and then used subways and buses to get around the city. Best of all, he allowed the 11 year old to map out their daily jaunts and determine the best transportation routes each day!

Her favorite part of the trip was seeing the actual Declaration of Independence. She couldn’t get over that it was the REAL document! They also stumbled upon so-called “Embassy Row”—where all the foreign embassies are located—and found that all the embassies had opened their doors to the public that week! They were allowed inside the Italian Consulate (all the Italian marble, ooh la la), and the London Embassy gave out small Union Jack flags (which they brought home to the younger siblings).

Now, here we are four years later. My middle daughter is now in 5th grade and she’s having none of our “It was a one-time thing” business about her sister’s father-daughter trip. Oh no. This tradition has officially begun! (That's her and her Dad in the photo, above).

She’s super excited about HER trip to D.C. this year! And yup, again it’s Dad doing the honors. (Maybe Mom will get to take the boy child in three more years?)

We’ve been planning the trip for months now. (You have to get permission way in advance to go inside many of the government buildings.)

The father-daughter combo is making it as educational (and fun) as possible. With tours of the White House and Capitol planned, all the national mall time they can stand, and even a trip out to Mount Vernon (bonus!) And it turns out that the Yankees are in town to play the Orioles so even they figured out how to fit that in too!

And yes again they will be mainly using public transportation to get from point “A” to the Lincoln Monument.

Their trip will span the weekend of Easter, which is a little weird, but we decided it was worth it. An unforgettable trip with her Dad, while the rest of us enjoy our own fun weekend with Easter treats and celebrations, seemed WIN/WIN.

The biggest bummer is that the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin will have already bloomed by the time they get there in early April, due to the early spring back East.

Good thing the monuments are fun to see in any season!

What types of “educational travel” have you taken with your kids?

 

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Spring Break: Top 10 Reasons to Consider A Stay-Cation

 We’ve spent our fair share of spring breaks in warmer climates, enjoying far-flung family vacations and returning home plain exhausted and needing a break from spring break! Last year we decided to stay home for the spring break (that's hubby and the kids in the photo, taking a break from bowling), and it was such a hit the whole family requested the same vacation again this year. I think we've started a tradition at my house (at least until the kids are out of school; then you’ll likely catch me on a spring break cruise!)

Top 10 Stay-cation Rules (listed in reverse order):

10. Pretend We Aren’t Home

  • Don’t answer the phone, let the machine get it (We’re on STAY-cation we can’t come to the phone, we’re having way too much fun!)
  • Close the garage door immediately upon returning each day
  • If a neighbor notices us in the backyard playing catch… pretend we can’t see them!
  • Above all, treat the whole week like a real vacation!

 

9.  Bedtime. What Bedtime?

 Every man, woman and child shall fend for themselves. This mom is so tired of waking up too early every day, then fighting each evening to convince my munchkins that, yes, bed time IS still at 8 p.m., even with confusing daylight savings!

So, yay! On a Stay-cation, you can sleep in, go to bed late—I don’t care!

It’s very classy vacationing at “Chez Rogers.” We set up all the kid’s mattresses in the living room with DVDs, popcorn, and their own pillows! The best part of this deal is that mom gets to sleep in her own bed at the end of the night.

 

8. Entertainment

We search out all the local fun things to do, as if we were on a real away-cation, such as:

  • Children’s museums and petting zoos
  • Bounce houses, open gymnasiums and batting parks
  • BOWLING! (It’s become a Rogers Stay-cation tradition that every year we must go bowling! And eat the greasy food of course.)
  • Movie theaters and community plays 
  • Local hikes and parks, depending on weather

 

7. Limit the Electronics

All cell phones, iPads, iPods, (i-everythings) are gathered up and stored in the “basket of screens,” only to be returned for 30 minute increments as determined by the sanity level of the mom throughout the day. Yes, even mom’s computer is off limits for a whole week! (She’s rolling her eyes right now.)

 

6. Family Time

What’s the point of a family stay-cation if the whole time everyone is off doing their own thing? To that end, we have lists and lists of activities, games, and for all of us projects to work on:

 

  • Each year we plant spring pansies together during our spring vacation.
  • It’s a great time to play the least played board games (all at once!), which we set up around the living room with a 10-minute timer. When the buzzer rings everyone switches to a new game.
  • We love dragging out old home movies from when the kids were babies, and then of course we make new ones, including silly family plays the kids make up on the spot.
  • We’re already planning our projects for the week: sewing Easter skirts with my daughter, working on art projects with my creative middle daughter, and performing a whole laboratory of science experiments for my little boy. I’ve warned the fire department.

 

5. Hotel/Pool Time

You didn’t think we would go without the requisite pool time while on vacation did you? No—we’re local after all, which means we know how to get the best hotel deals right here in town! One overnight stay and as much pool time as our prune hands can handle is perfect for our stay-cation.

 

4. Maid Service

We figure with all the money we’re saving on what we’d usually spend on six nights at a hotel, gas money, and other travel related costs, we owe ourselves a few hours of cleaning services. Plus there are plenty of “daily half off deals” to be had. Watch and get a cleaner at a steal (or see if your teen wants to earn a little moolah for her upcoming band trip to Canada, and pay her to clean instead!)

 

3. Food

Speaking of vacation cost savings…we don’t have to eat every meal out like on an away-cation, but we still get to pamper ourselves. We eat breakfast out one morning, and lunch a couple of days. We eat out for dinner as a family once during the week, but we grab take-out or pizza on other nights. The one hard and fast rule is that mom and dad get to have a dinner/date away one night during the stay-cation (babysitting—that’s what teenagers are for, right?).

 

2. Day Trips

What are the best off-the-beaten-path day trips in your area? We live near Crater Lake National Park, and it’s breathtakingly gorgeous in the springtime. It’s the bluest blue and something everyone should see before they die. And yet places like that in all our communities fall to the bottom of the priority list because they’re so close that you either forget about them or figure they’ll always be there for a later time. Go NOW! (TIP: On the way home hit the mall and make a sulky teen smile.)

 

1. Relax. Enjoy Your Family (for a change)

Sometimes we forget what it’s like to just BE together. The hustle and bustle of daily life—kid’s crazy school and extracurricular schedules and daily homework; volunteer hours; church dinners; not to mention dad’s travel time—are all on hold during a spring break stay-cation. Enjoy the down time and even the “boredom” time because it won’t last for long. Sleep in, eat cereal for dinner, wear your PJs all day, and above all RELAX. Chill out. Dare I say it? Do nothing!

 

 

 

 

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Do you allow your children to watch TV or play on the computer before doing their homework?

No - 37.4%
Sometimes - 25.4%
Yes - 31.6%

Total votes: 4919
The voting for this poll has ended on: June 25, 2016