SchoolFamily Voices

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

School Family Announces "Recipe Share"!

At SchoolFamily.com, we’ve got some exciting news…

We’re very pleased to announce the launch of Recipe Share, SchoolFamily.com’s new recipe section!

Looking for a great afterschool snack to made for—or with—your kids? Or how about one that older kids can make themselves? We’ve got ‘em.

Need some new ideas for your child’s school lunch box? We’ve got ‘em.

What about recipes for quick and easy weeknight meals for those evenings that seem completely taken up with kids’ afterschool activities? Or recipes for dinners that can be made ahead? We’ve got ‘em.

Crockpot recipes, recipes for those with food allergies, recipes for desserts, salads, pasta dinners and salads, dips, and side dishes? We’ve got ‘em all, plus some. In fact, we have more than 50 recipe categories from which you can choose to find just what you’re looking for!

And all of our recipes are printer-friendly!

Some of our recipes are from food bloggers you may already know, including weelicious.com and freshbaby.com. Others are from fairly new food bloggers—Organic Glory and Mummy’s Busy World.

And in an exclusive partnership, we have recipes from the Meal Makeover Moms. These two moms, who are both registered dietitians, take traditional recipes and make them over for better nutrition, without sacrificing taste! How about Healthier Hamburger Helper? Or Smiley Face Casserole? (See their lasagna makeover—Chock-Full-O-Veggies Lasagna—pictured above.) The Meal Makeover Moms section features dinner, afterschool and lunch box snacks, desserts, stews, and more.

But perhaps best of all, we welcome recipe submissions from you, our readers! Send us your family’s favorite recipes of all types—dinners to dips to desserts and more—and we’ll include them in our Recipe Share. Simply complete this easy online form, attach a photo of your completed dish (if you have one), and send it along to us! We’ll send you a link to your recipe once it’s posted!

Happy eating!

Carol Brooks Ball, editor



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Food Allergy Tragedy: Parents, Check Your Child's School Action Plan

In a tragic case of a severe allergic reaction, a 1st grade-student at an elementary school in Virginia, died Monday, Jan. 2, after reportedly being exposed to a peanut product. 

This heartbreaking incident is a reminder to all parents about just how deadly exposure to a food allergen can be for children with food allergies. It’s also a reminder to parents of children with food allergies, to check and double-check that precautions and an emergency action are in place at their children’s’ schools. 

Read SchoolFamily.com's article on Food Allergies and School-Age Kids, which provides thorough tips on how parents should communicate with their child’s school about food allergies. As the article points out, while it’s important to speak with the school principal and the child’s teacher, it’s also critically important for parents to speak directly to the cafeteria staff where food products are prepared, as well as to school volunteers who might come in contact with their children.





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Children Need Experience Making Their Own Decisions

It is tempting as a parent to take control of every part of a child’s life. Parents make sure their children do all their homework, get up on time, get ready for school, eat a healthy breakfast, wear appropriate clothing, and catch the school bus on time. Parents essentially decide everything! At some point in a child’s life, however, parents will not be there to make all their decisions for them.

Children need experience making decisions. They will make mistakes along the way, but you will be there to help them understand the mistakes and to do better the next time. Here are 5 ideas for questions you can ask your child, allowing him to make decisions that don’t impact health, safety, or education.

  • “Do you want to eat broccoli or green beans for supper?” They’re both green veggies, so let them choose to eat the one they like the best.
  • “What do you plan to wear to school tomorrow?” As long as they meet the school’s dress code, they should be able to choose their own clothes from a fairly early age.
  • “Why don’t you check the weather channel and decide whether you will need your hat and gloves tomorrow?” Unless you know it might be seriously harmful for them to go without the hat and gloves, why not let them make a bad decision once or twice?
  • “Are you going to start with your math homework or your English?” Children should not decide whether to do their homework, but allowing them to decide which to do first is perfectly appropriate.
  • “You can play video games for 30 minutes tonight. When is the best time for you to do that?” Some kids will choose to play right when you ask; some will choose to wait until later. As long as they are not spending too much time playing the video game, it probably does not matter.

When I’ve written on this topic before, I’ve heard from parents that they’re afraid their child will make bad decisions. To that I ask, “How will they ever learn to make good decisions if you don’t allow them to mess up every once in awhile?” Children—like most adults—are happier when they feel they have some control over their own activities.


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Calling all cooks: SchoolFamily.com is looking for your recipes!

Calling all cooks!

SchoolFamily.com is launching a complete recipe section, and we’re looking for your favorite recipes to share among our readers! Do you have a weeknight dinner recipe that’s quick and easy? A no-fail school lunch recipe that your kids will actually eat? Perhaps there’s a dessert you make that’s to die for? Or, how about a recipe for something delicious that you and your kids make together?

Using our easy recipe submission form, send us your favorite recipes and we’ll include them in our recipe section when it launches in early 2012—you can even upload a photo of your culinary creation using the recipe submission form! We’ll email you when our new recipe section goes live, and if you have a website or blog that you’d like us to link to your recipe, simply include your url on the recipe submission form.

We have a wide variety of recipe categories so you can choose where your recipes should appear. Some categories include: Power Breakfasts; School Lunches; After-School Snacks; Quick and Easy Weeknight Dinners; Recipes to Make With Kids; Appetizers; Soups and Stews; Desserts; and much, much more.

Best of all, the recipes are free, printable, and can be emailed and shared with others.

Pull out all your favorite recipes, and upload them to SchoolFamily.com here, and you’ll be a part of our new recipe section!

 For any questions, please feel free to email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 Happy cooking!

Carol Brooks Ball, editor





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More Tips to Help Ease Your Child's Morning Routine

"Why can't I wear my pajamas to school?" 

Last week I shared a few tips on setting up a good morning routine. Here are a few more tricks to make school mornings run smoother. Deciding what a child should wear to school can cause morning conflicts.

  1. Try choosing two outfits of clothing the night before, (that you both agree will work.) Lay them out. Put socks, underwear, pants, skirts, shirts, or ribbons, etc. in a large baggie for each outfit. In the morning, let your child choose which "bag" they will wear that day, knowing that the clothes in the leftover bag can be worn the next day. This empowers your child to make choices, and usually takes care of two days at a time!
  2. Prepare backpacks the night before. If your child has homework, make sure they immediately put it away in their backpack upon completion. This eliminates the “My Mom forgot to put it my backpack” excuse!
  3. The easiest way to keep your mornings stress-free is to follow a consistent routine each school day: Get your child up at the same time Monday through Friday. Plan on your child needing at least 15 to 20 minutes for personal hygiene and dressing.
  4. Allow enough time for a nutritious breakfast. Studies show that children who eat a balanced breakfast do better in school, are more attentive, and are better behaved. A mix of protein and carbohydrates is best. Carbs (cereals, fruits, and breads,) give a quick energy “kick” and protein (milk, eggs, meat, and peanut butter) sustains your child until lunch.
  5. Encourage your child to talk about their upcoming day at school. Planning the tasks your child will accomplish will put him or her in the right frame of mind to tackle the day
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Breakfast before School Works -- More Proof

Sometimes parent involvement doesn't have to be that complicated. Example: finding a way to make sure your child has breakfast before school is a fundamental step that all parents can take.

We've been saying it for years with articles like this one on school morning habits. But, if you're one of those who needs more proof, the National Institute of Health just released a study that makes the breakfast case crystal clear.

As you might expect the NIH doc is a bit dense, but here's the most relevant finding:

Children who start the day with breakfast consume more vitamins, minerals, and kilocalories than those who do not eat breakfast and have a better overall diet as measured by the Healthy Eating Index (HEI). In addition, children commit fewer errors on psychological tests on days when they eat breakfast compared with days when they skip breakfast.

-The School Breakfast Program (SBP) was started to "help contribute to the adequate nutrient intake of children and to ensure that they did not begin their school day hungry." The SBP began in 1966 as a pilot project through the Child Nutrition Act and became permanent in 1975 through amendments to the Act. Currently, the SBP is available in more than 72 000 schools nationwide. In 1975, approximately 1.8 million children participated in the SBP; by 2000, that number increased to approximately 7.5 million. Data from some studies suggest that children who participate in the SBP have increased total dietary intake; improved test scores, math grades, and attendance rates; and decreased tardiness rates. According to data analyzed from the 1994-96 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals, children in low-income households who ate school breakfast had significantly higher HEI scores than children who ate breakfast at home or elsewhere and children who did not eat breakfast.

Cereal and milk counts. Frozen waffles and some juice counts. We're not talking about four-course eggs benedict here. We can do this.
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Time Management for Kids

Kind of ironic that I'm writing about this, considering the fact that I desperately need "Time Management for Tim", but this morning routine/time management for kids blog from the San Francisco Chronicle really sucked me in.

We've gone from 2 kids to 3 kids in school this year, and I still haven't accurately factored in extra time for one more sandwich and one more snack and two more shoes to be tied and 6 more missing notebooks and 14 more forms that I need to sign each morning. For our night-owl family, the goal seems to be to wake up as late as possible while still getting the key morning steps accomplished without being too insane and still making the bus 9 times out of 10. That too much to ask?

We're getting there, but it's a work in progress. How about you? And what are your best tricks of the trade?
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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