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SchoolFamily Voices

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

Great Resources for Parents of Gifted Children

What does it mean to be a gifted child? Does it mean that you're lucky? In many ways, yes. But what most people don't realize is the set of expectations and associated stress factors  that go along with being gifted and talented.  Just came across a blog post by Sue Scheff that talks about the stress of being gifted.  Good insight on how your gifted child may be feeling. In this post she also lists some practical tips for parents of gifted kids.

But sometimes parents are at a loss for next steps of ways to engage their gifted child outside of school. What gifted programs, resources and websites are available to you and your child?  Here is a great article that lists the top 9 resources for gifted information

Lastly, we'd like to invite you to join our community and start some conversations about the joys and frustrations about raising a gifted child. Love to hear from you!

Also, check out our gifted and talented resources page.
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Homework Questions for Back-to-School Night

It's back to school time, and for most parents getting our children ready for a new school year means working our way down a very long and expensive to-do list. There are clothes and supplies to buy, forms to fill out, bedtimes to revisit and lunches to make. Fortunately, one of the most important items on our list only costs about an hour of our time: attending Back-to-School Night.

Back-to-School Night is more than an opportunity to meet the new teacher, reconnect with other parents and peek into your child's still-clean desk. In fact, I truly believe that Back-to-School Night may be the most important school night of the year.

At least when it comes to homework.

Use Back-to-School Night to ask the teacher about his or her homework policy and expectations- in public! Find out everything you need to know, and the rest of the school year will be that much easier. Making absolutely certain that you are clear about homework now means you won't spend the next ten months wondering if you should correct your daughter's math homework. Understanding how long homework should take means you won't have to worry if your son is spending too much time completing nightly assignments. Get it all straight at Back-to-School Night so you know exactly what to do and what to expect.

All you have to do is ask ten easy questions!

Homework Questions for the Teacher:

  1. What is the district homework policy?
  2. What kind of homework do you usually assign?
  3. How long should homework take most nights?
  4. Is homework graded? If yes, is it a separate grade?
  5. Do you want parents to help with homework & projects? How much?
  6. Do you want parents to correct homework?
  7. Do you want to know if homework is taking longer than it should and/or my child does not understand it?
  8. What happens if homework is not turned in?
  9. Do you assign homework on weekends, holidays, vacations, and family school nights (i.e. Reading Night)?
  10. What is the best way to contact you (note, phone, email, visit)?

These are not trick questions; your child's teacher should know the answers and be thrilled that you are asking them! And, if for some reason you feel badly about using a few minutes to clarify homework rules and expectations- don’t! Not only will finding out this information make the rest of the school year easier for your family, you will be helping out ALL of the families in class. Get ready for a few grateful hugs. They might even elect you Parent of the Year!

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New research on middle school parent involvement

I found this middle school involvement piece from the Wall Street Journal.  No surprise, as Sue Shellenbarger's stuff is typically excellent on all kinds of parenting and school-family issues.

The upshot on this piece is likely comforting for many parents of middle schoolers, folks who are often frustrated that they can't be or their kids won't let them be or their schools aren't as open to them being as involved as they were in the elementary school.

That's OK.  The kids are different; the involvement can be different. Seems like a natural progression.

A new research survey on parental involvement in middle school nails down an answer: The best way to promote achievement in middle school isn’t to help student with their homework, or even to volunteer for school fundraisers. Instead, middle-school students posted the best results in school when their parents stepped back a bit and moved into more of a “coaching role,” teaching them to value education, relate it to daily life and set high goals for themselves, says the study, published recently in the journal Developmental Psychology.

Good stuff.

My only fear is that research like this will give parents a green light to disconnect from school. The fact is that staying connected can have quite positive effects even beyond the classroom.  As the kids grow into more serious danger zones, that's the time when our connections with their friends' parents and their teachers and counselors serve as an early defense system and a zone defense system and a safety net. And those connections can be forged best through school involvement.

Understood if you're not hawking gift wrap now that junior is a 7th grader, but not OK to forsake the school involvement piece entirely. We may be there quite differently, but we still need to make those connections that will serve us and our becoming-independent (but not all the way there yet) children well.

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Should we get time off for parent involvement at school?

This Miami Herald brings up some really interesting issues around school involvement and family policies fr our businesses. I'm conflicted.  I'm a huuuuge involvement fan and the love the thought of more parents at school for confeneces and meetings and volunteering. On the other hand -- as a small business owner -- I'm often cautious about more and more specific legislating about how we have to run the business.

 Personally, I think of school volunteering time as personal time.  It all depends on what the employee prioritizes.  I absolutely think that conferences and volunteering should be perfectly OK uses of personal time at work, and I believe that workplaces should be more flexible with personal time (I think it actually adds to the bottom line, frankly).  But one employee's volunteering for the Cancer Walkathon and another's volunteering at the school play are equivalent in my eyes.  In my experience when the government gets involved in legislating these things they balloon well past the intent.

I suppose I would favor a regulation that would allow time for parent-teacher conference attendance.  That's more specific and less flexible time-wise than involvement in general. Maybe twice a year.  And how about a standard form that the teacher would sign saying you were there?  That too much? 

What's your experience with this?  Are you able to get to school when you want to?  How about when you need to? Do we need a law on this?

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Tips for a Stress-Free School Morning Routine

"Where are my shoes?" "I can't find my backpack!" What parent hasn't heard these words? School and workday mornings can be stressful for everyone, but a rough morning can have a day-long effect on your child. Setting up a morning routine can help alleviate chaos and get your child in the right frame of mind to pay attention and learn more at school.

Organization is key to success in the morning! Make important items easy to locate. If you child can easily find necessary items, the morning “rush” will ease, and self-esteem will soar. Here are five tips that will help with organization and establishing school routines:

  1. Try color-coding bureau drawers. Use small colored stickers or pieces of construction paper. Socks in the “red” drawer, shirts in the “yellow” drawer, etc.
  2. Color-code the closet as well. Hang all the “pinks together, hang all the “blues,” etc. This makes finding clothes so much easier!
  3. If your child misplaces things, like their sneakers, try tracing and cutting out the outline of their sneakers on construction or contact paper. Then tape the tracings on their closet floor. Before bed each night make sure the shoes are sitting on their “feet” in the closet. (The same can be done for lunch boxes, backpacks, boots, etc.) A bedtime routine can also help reduce stress the next morning.
  4. Set aside at least 15-20 minutes to read together at bedtime. This can be done by a parent or an older sibling. This short period of individual attention usually calms a child, and eliminates the "getting up" questions that often follow just going to bed.
  5. Make bedtime the same time every night during the school week, even if your child doesn't go to sleep right away. This establishes a bedtime "pattern."

A good morning routine can instill the importance of organization in your child, and help him or her stay organized and focused during the school day.

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Kindergarten Separation Anxiety: Mom's Fault? Think Not.

Kindergarteners. First day of school. Separation Anxiety. Do all three go hand in hand? The author of the article Separation Anxiety Seems to be on the Rise,  says yes absolutely – when it comes to this generation. He asserts that separation anxiety is a growing problem that is directly related to today’s parenting styles.

“The problem, I am convinced, is parents, not kids. It’s a given that today’s parents — mothers especially — have far more difficulty separating from their children than did parents of a generation or more ago. This is due in part to the nefarious nouveau notion that the Good Mother does as much for her kids as she possibly can and is at her kids’ beck-and-call.”

Wow. Let’s all take a collective deep breath.

Couldn’t disagree more. I think that parents today are more driven to educate themselves on parenting. With so many resources available like websites and books, parents are better informed on how to deal with behavior and school issues, like separation anxiety. Traffic to our site and articles like Get ready for Kindergarten prove that parents are arming themselves with practical parenting information.

And what about the kids of the informed parents? “Kids today” go to preschool, have more extra-curricular activities and do more for kindergarten readiness than ever before. The result? More confident kids… less difficulty separating.

Are there exceptions? Sure. Would the same type of kids who are having trouble separating now have had separation anxiety 25 years ago? Probably. 

 So what do you think? Love to hear your thoughts!

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Safety Saturday and Lowe's

Thought I'd highlight this for you folks.  I really like the sound of "Safety Saturday", which is coming up at the end of Saturday.  Think: fire trucks and expert tips and all kinds of demonstrations  -- all in the parking lot down at your local Lowe's.

Here's the link for details on Safety Saturday.   

It feels like a great complement to the free kids' projects workshops that Lowe's runs, which are also very cool.  They're called Build and Grow clinics

Hope they're  a fit for your family.

 

 

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Welcome Angela Norton Tyler to the School Family Blog Team

Homework is a hot topic for parents of kids of all ages. That's why we are so thrilled to have Angela Norton Tyler blogging at  SchoolFamily.com  We think you'll find her insights on how to help your child with homework both humorous and helpful! 

Angela is a teacher and parent from the Sacramento, California area. Her experience ranges from a classroom teacher and an elementary reading specialist to teaching courses at the college level. Angela's main focus is on helping parents help their children become better students. She does this by putting her energies into teaching parents how to improve the homework and reading skills of their children.

In 2005, Angela  published  a book called Tutor Your Child to Reading Success, and now conducts seminars about reading and homework for parents and teachers.  She also publishes Family Homework Answers, a site "devoted to helping parents and their children deal with homework." 

We hope you check back often for Angela's nuggets of advice -- not only to help your child succeed but to reduce your stress level! 

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Sarcasm Jar

I know very well that children learn by example, but there are some times I would rather not be reminded of it.
 
When my sons were locked firmly in pre-adolescence, I noticed certain words creeping into their vocabulary I didn’t want to hear. Where did they get that stuff? They would say the words then look at meto see how I reacted. I said I didn’t like that language, and they shouldn’t use it in public places, even if the public place was camped in front of the television watching a movie in which the actors used the language I was objecting to.
 
It went on. It was a test of my authority. It lowered the level of discourse.  
Civilization was at stake.
 
So I introduced the age-old institution of the potty-mouth jar. Or swear jar. You know what I mean – a jar in the kitchen that someone puts money in every time they break the rule. “It will cost you a quarter every time you use one of those words,” I said.  
My children immediately made me define exactly which words I meant.  “You know what I mean,” I said.
 
It was shortly after that that I made a startling discovery.
 
I didn’t realize I used those words, and when I did, I thought I was using those words only in the privacy of my own personal universe. Replacing plumbing fixtures, for instance – you would think that would be a private experience.
 
Not when you yell really loudly.
 
Or when I got cut off in traffic.
 
Or waited on the phone for forty minutes to talk to someone at the Deparment of Motor Vehicles.
 
“Twenty-five cents, Dad,” my children gleefully announced.
 
“#%@!!!!#!” I said.
 
When I realized who was putting the most money in the jar, I cleaned up my act, declared victory, and retreated.

“No more swear jar,” I announced. “You’ve learned your lesson.”
 
And we all behaved reasonably well until they reached adolescence. Suddenly, it wasn’t language, it was attitude. Somewhere on their way to adulthood, my boys had become the most sarcastic beings on the face of the earth. Nothing escaped their cynical comments.
 
So I got a glass gallon jar and wrote on its side “Sarcasm Jar – 25 cents”
I introduced it at dinnertime.
 
“This will stop your sarcasm,” I said. “I’m serious. Every time someone’s sarcastic, they owe a quarter.”
 
“Dad,” my older son said, sincerity plastered across his face, “we’re not sarcastic.”
 
“Yeah, right,” I said.
 
“Twenty-five cents, Dad!” my younger son.
 
“That’s not fair!” I said. “You’re trying to make me sarcastic.”
 
“Dad, we would never do that,” the younger one said.
 
“Oh, sure!” I said.
 
“Twenty-five cents more!” the older one said.
 
They were both in hysterics.
 
“Forget the sarcasm jar,” I said. “I hope you learned your lesson.”
 
“We learned from the best, Dad,” they both said.
 
Like I said, there’s some things of which I don’t want to be reminded. Like that my sons are smarter than me.
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Homework Personality

Parents often approach me at workshops, at school or through my site wanting to know the best way to solve their family homework problems. They are tired of the tears, the fighting, the never-ending homework struggles. Parents have homework questions, and they want homework answers!

They want to know:

- What is the best time to do homework?
- Where is the best place to do homework?
- Is it okay to have the TV on during homework? The radio?
- Should a child take a break during homework? How long?
- How often should parents remind their children to do their homework?

These are all legitimate questions, but before I- or anybody else- can answer them, parents must understand their child's homework personality.

Homework personality? What?!?

Teachers and educators recognize that each student has an unique learning style. Some are visual or sight learners; others are auditory or hearing learners; and, kinesthetic learners learn best through touch. Good teachers try to incorporate all three of these learning styles into lessons so that every student has the opportunity to best grasp the material.

Your child's homework personality suggests the unique way in which he or she best studies, learns and does homework. What gets them in the "homework groove?" Where are they most comfortable in your home? When during the day are they the most relaxed yet productive? Do they work best alone or around others? When you are able to answer these types of questions, it is easy to set up a schedule and environment that best supports your child's homework personality.

Remember, every child is unique! What works for one of your children may not work for another! Some kids need absolute quiet in order to concentrate; others can work just fine in a noisy, crowded room. Some children should come straight home from school and get started on their homework, while others can wait a few hours- or even until the next morning. I've known families where one child does his homework at a desk in his bedroom, while his sister sprawls on the family room floor.

Last Sunday around 8 PM, I noticed my middle-school daughter sitting at the dining room table. She was completing a social studies assignment that wasn't due until later in the week. Now, that's not how I would have spent my Sunday evening, but I understand that my daughter cannot relax knowing that something (anything!) is due. Hmm. This got me to thinking...

Did my third-grade son have any homework?

He had no idea. He had forgotten his backpack at school.

Needless to say, my children have different homework personalities! One of them likes to come in and get started on her homework, the other one does not. One needs to be reminded to do his homework, the other one does not. Giving them the same homework rules, breaks, environment, etc. would not only be a waste of my time, it would frustrate and upset them (at least one of them!)

Take the Homework Personality Quiz and figure out how to best support your child's unique homework personality. The quiz a lot of fun, and it will really get you thinking about how your child works, learns and studies. Share your answers with your family members, make some decisions, and get ready for homework time to get a whole lot easier!
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Homework Sandwiches

Parents often wonder if they should let their kids take a break after school before starting their homework. I understand the dilemma. One the one hand, it seems reasonable to let our children have a quick snack and a few minutes of free time. On the other hand, we want those little rascals to get that homework done and out of the way! In my experience, the Do It Now! approach does work for some students (see the quiz on Homework Personality), but most children really do need a substantial break after school.

Uh-oh.

Of course you're worried. You try to be nice and give your kids a break, and the next thing you know "a few minutes of watching TV" has turned into a few hours, a big fight and a ruined evening, right? So, what is a parent to do?

Make some Homework Sandwiches! There are only two steps:

1. Sit down with your child and discuss which activities they would like to do before and after homework. It is important to let your child come up with his own, reasonable ideas. You want him to be motivated but realistic (no, we aren't going to the movies every night!). You might be surprised by what kids find enjoyable- and how much they really want our undivided attention. In my case, I learned that my children want to help me make dinner! Who knew that what I view as a chore- cooking dinner- was a treat to them?

2. Agree that your child will be able to do one fun activity before and one fun activity after homework. Fun-homework-fun. A homework sandwich!

Here are some Homework Sandwich ideas:

- Play a video game for 15 minutes/ homework/ shoot hoops with Dad
- Eat a favorite snack/ homework/ watch TV for an hour
- Watch one TV show/ homework/ help with dinner
- Talk on phone for 20 minutes/ homework/ talk on phone forever
- Ride bike for 30 minutes/ homework/ play cards with Mom
- Eat a snack/ homework/ take a bubble bath while Mom reads Harry Potter

Some quick words of advice:

- Put a time limit on the first activity. The easiest way to solve this problem? The kitchen timer. Set it, and when it rings- homework!

- Don't allow your child to have the second fun "slice" if he or she does not do their homework. After all, a sandwich is not all "bread" and no "filling!"

- Keep a visual homework sandwich "reminder" posted on the fridge or family bulletin board. This way, nobody forgets that it's only one TV show before homework and not two.

Many parents- including myself- have found great success using homework sandwiches. You will find that if your children are allowed to do something enjoyable right before and immediately after homework, they start to associate homework with those fun activities. The entire process becomes a package deal in their sweet, little minds. (Pavlov, anyone?) The best part is that your children will know exactly what they need to do after school- and how long they can do it. And, because they chose the activities themselves, they are much more invested in the entire process.

One last thing: don't faint when your child says, "I want to hurry up and do my homework so I can..."
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How to Study Using the Folded Paper Method

One of the great mysteries of the educational universe is why students aren't taught how to study. I was lucky enough to be shown the Folded Paper Method in the 8th grade, and I have been using it ever since! Not only does it work for nearly any subject, it is super-easy and portable. It is one of my favorite study methods, and I share it with both my students and my two children.

  1. Show your child how to fold a regular piece of lined binder paper in half the long way (hot dog style).
  2. In the left column, have them write the words, theories, ideas or formulas they are studying for a test, quiz or exam.
  3. In the right column, they write down definitions.
  4. They study by keeping the paper folded and flipping it back and forth between each word on the left and its definition on the right. Tell your child to think of the folded paper as a bunch of attached flash cards.
  5. A student can test himself by looking at the words and trying to repeat the definitions- without looking!
  6. Next, they should look at the definitions and try to recall the words.
  7. When they are confident that they know the words and definitions, your child should give the paper to someone (you!) and ask to be quizzed.
  8. Encourage your child to start this process a few days before a test. So, after they finish their regular homework, they can study for a half an hour or so. Teach them not to wait until the last minute and try to cram everything into their heads. Put a little information in each night, and it will stick!
  9. Tell your child to review their notes right before the test. It's great to read the words and definitions out loud one last time.
  10. Last tip- take a deep breath! They are ready to ace the test!

How simple (and non-tech) is the Folded Paper Method? Remember, by studying a little each night, your child will develop good study habits, feel relaxed, confident and prepared for tests, and still have time for a life outside of studying!
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More Activities to Improve Gross Motor Skills

Play is crucial in helping children develop good Gross Motor Skills. Here are five more activities that will help your four-to-six year old practice and refine these important Gross Motor Skills. All of these games can be played in ten to thirty minute blocks of time. An added bonus is the calories you burn, while having educational fun with your child!

To play these games you will need: A jump rope, a small Nerf or tennis ball, six different colored pieces of construction paper, and dice.
 
1. Lay a jump rope on the ground in a straight line. Have your child walk, heel to toe, on the rope. This promotes good balance and coordination. Once your child has mastered walking on the rope in a straight line, curve the rope into different shapes and repeat the activity.
 
2. Play a catching game with a Nerf or soft tennis ball. Start by facing each other, about a foot apart. Toss the ball to your child then he can toss it back to you. Each time a catch is made you both take one step backward to increase the distance. If a catch is missed, take one step forward to reduce the distance.
 
3. Have a "Scavenger Hunt" in your yard. Use six different colored sheets of construction paper. Cut them into familiar shapes like a triangle, circle, square, etc. Hide them in the yard in places where your child will have to climb under, over, or through things to retrieve the shape. Give a small reward for each shape found. This game can be played inside on a rainy day. (You can also hide small toys, stuffed animals, or other familiar objects if you do not have any construction paper handy.)

4. Use a single die. Pick an action, like jumping, skipping, or hopping. Choose a point of reference in your yard, for example a large maple tree. Your child rolls the die. She hops (or jumps, or skips) the number rolled toward the tree. Keep rolling and hopping until the object is reached.

To increase the difficulty, play with two dice and add the dots to determine the number of hops.
 
5. A favorite game that I played with my own children was a game we called "Animal Actions." I would choose an animal, for example a Kangaroo, and they had to move like that animal for a count of ten. This was a great way of practicing all sorts of motor skills, from jumping, hopping, running, to slithering!

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Internet Safety: What the kids search for online.

My friend and colleague Marian Merritt of Symantec sent a note about some very interesting research from Symantec.  It comes from 6 months of data (millions of kids’ searches) from the new OnlineFamily.Norton.com service.   I’ve been serving on the Advisory Board for this cool new parent tool for nearly a year now.

 

CNET covered the story in detail (and Marian makes some excellent points in the article), so we’ll link directly to the CNET story about what kids are searching for online.   The Top10 search terms:

 

1. YouTube
2. Google
3. Facebook
4. Sex
5. MySpace
6. Porn
7. Yahoo
8. Michael Jackson
9. Fred ( a fictional Youtube character, we’re told)
10. eBay

 

At least 5 or 6 of those 10 present challenges for us parents that we have to address.

 

The upshot from my perspective is that as parents – and especially as parents who want our kids to thrive in a digital age – we have a responsibility to help them do their online living safely and smartly.  We don’t send our 5-year-olds to the playground without help; we don’t send our 15-year-olds onto the Interstate without lessons; and we shouldn’t be sending our school kids on the ‘Net without able guidance.   I personally like the OnlineFamily tool, but there are lots of Family Internet Safety tools out there for you. Are you using one on your home computer?  Are you learning enough about this stuff to help your child thrive?  Throwing away the computer or snipping the Internet connection isn’t a realistic option in a day when kids can get online seemingly everywhere and from every device.

 

My mother-in-law liked to say: “Parenting ain’t for Wimps.”  I suspect that’s even more true for parenting on the Web.  We have to be there and appropriately parent our kids’ web habits, just as we do the rest of their key developmental habits.  What are you doing to be there with your kids, even the young kids?

 

PS – Are you on Twitter?  I’ve  been starting to get into the whole Twitter thing.  Follow me at www.twitter.com/TimPTO)

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Technology Time Eating into Family Time?

A colleague forwarded this NY Times article titled "Breakfast Can Wait. The Day's First Stop is Online."  The story actually made my stomach do a flip- flop. No, not because I skipped  breakfast to check my email and Facebook... but because it worries me to the core, how technology will affect how our kids interact with other human beings when they are adults.  We set limits on bedtimes and dessert – we need to have common sense limits on technology, too.

My favorite quote in the article:

“Things that I thought were unacceptable a few years ago are now commonplace in my house,” she said, “like all four of us starting the day on four computers in four separate rooms.”

Yikes.  So do we just roll over and say that times have changed? The sense I get from this story is that some parents are giving up. The parents themselves have succumbed to addictive nature of technology, so how can they say no to their kids.  I applaud the families that have said no to technology every minute of every day and have designated family time --  like the Steyer family in this article.

How has technology affected your daily routines?

What rules do you set around computer & cell phone use?

Do you think technology will impair our kids’ ability to communicate person to person?

 

Would love to hear your thoughts!

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Your Child's Gross Motor Skills: How to Improve Them


Outdoor summer activities are great tools for improving your child's Gross Motor Skills. Parents often ask: "What is the difference between Gross and Fine Motor Skills, and how do they impact on my child's ability to learn?" 

Gross Motor Skills involve bigger muscle groups, like the arms, legs, feet, and torso. 

Fine Motor Skills involve smaller muscles, like hands, fingers, toes, or lips. 

All motor skills require a connection between the brain and muscles in the body. They require practice to improve and enhance coordination. Motor Skills usually develop sequentially. Gross Motor Skills usually need to be developed and mastered before Fine Motor Skills can evolve. Most children roll, sit up, crawl, then walk, before running. 
 
Here are five fun, easy activities to promote Gross Motor Skill development. You can adapt where you and your child play these games according to your own seasonal environment. 

  1. Take a "discovery walk" around your neighborhood, bike path, nearby park, or beach. Look for objects that are up in trees, building, or rocks, and things that are on ground level. Look for colors, shapes, and sizes. This promotes bending and stretching, as well as walking and running. 
  2.  Create an obstacle course with three or four objects in your yard. (Some example for obstacles are bases, hoops, tires, beanbags, etc.) Have your child practice running, jumping, skipping, and hopping around the objects. Increase the difficulty by running, jumping, skipping, and hopping backwards around the objects. 
  3.  Lay a Hula Hoop on the ground. Have your child stand about five feet away and throw a bean bag or block into the hoop. (You'll want an object that will not roll.) Once your child can do this easily, increase the distance by twelve inch increments. If starting the toss at a five foot distance is too difficult, start at three feet, and increase the distance in six inch increments. 
  4. Hold a Hula Hoop vertically, and let your child toss a bean bag through the hoop, taking one step backwards for each successful toss. 
  5.  Hold a Hula Hoop vertically, and let your child kick a large beach ball, or other large, soft ball through the hoop. Take one step backwards for each successful kick. 

In my next post I'll give you five more activities for improving your child's coordination, balance, and Gross Motor Skills, as well as having a great time outdoors with you! 

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Class Assignments & New Teachers

Teacher and class  assignments come out right before school starts in our town. Going to the school to see the class postings is always an emotionally-charged event. What if your kids don’t have friends in their class? What if they don’t like their teacher? What if they don’t KNOW the teacher because he or she is new? This writer from Atlanta shares their beef about schools not sharing a new teacher’s bio with parents. And so a heated debate begins!  Check out the comments at the end of the attached article.

So, is part of the equation of parent involvement knowing more about the teacher? Certainly, it’s helpful for the teacher to know some background about your child and your family. But to foster the parent- teacher relationship, do we need to know details about the teacher? From a parent’s perspective, I’m thinking that at a minimum it’s nice to know even anecdotal information about a new teacher. For instance, she grew up on the west coast, has loved science since she was little… you get the picture. That way you can pass this information along to your child so they have of a mental picture of their teacher and feel some connection before starting school. Ease the transition, as they say.

Should schools be required to give parents bios on new teachers? What does your school do? We’d love to hear from you!

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Swine Flu , Parents, and Schools

 

I’m sensing that schools are going to be the first line of defense this fall and winter when it comes to the Swine Flu and getting our kids vaccinated.  This AP article on parents’ views of school and the flu shows that most parents are comfortable with their kids getting the flu help right at school.  Not surprised, since from what I’m reading, this new flu strain is spreading especially quickly among children.

 

After the initial deluge of attention, it seems like Swine Flu concern has died down some.  What are you feeling?  Me?  I’m not overly concerned, but I’m definitely interested in getting our kids and our whole family protected as soon as we can. I like the idea of schools leading this effort, as…. well….  where better to get the big swatch of kids in one fell swoop?

 

If you’re interested in the concept (having the school host the clinic) for your child’s school, then definitely check out the “Teach Flu a Lesson” program over at ptotoday.com. Spread the word to your administration, school nurse or PTO or PTA.  I suspect we’re going to be hearing more and more about this in the next weeks and months.

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Back-to-School Family Traditions

Back-to-school. Three little words that pack such a range of emotions. Whether your kids like, love, or hate school, there’s no denying it -- it’s a time of transition. As parents, our job is to soften these periods of change.  Often families create traditions to turn transitional times into fun times, with happy memories.  Check out our newest article about how to “Start a Back-to-School Tradition.”

How does your family deal with the back-to-school transition? Do you have any traditions that help you ease into new school year? We’d love to hear your ideas and stories! 

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Have Some "Cents-ible" Fun!

Empty those piggy banks and help your child make some "cents" of coins and counting with a game I call: "Stop, Drop, and Roll." This game can be played on a table, on the floor, or even on a beach blanket! Items needed: Fifty pennies, and one die from a pair of dice Players: One child, one adult, or up to four players Time needed: Fifteen to thirty minutes Directions:

  • The "banker" makes a pile of fifty pennies, and puts it in the center to create a bank.
  • The first player rolls the die.
  • If she rolls a "four," she takes four pennies from the bank and puts them in her own pile.
  • Next player rolls, and takes that number of pennies for his pile
  • The game is over when all fifty pennies are gone
  • Winner is the player with the most pennies

Once your child can easily do this, increase the challenge.

  • Put 100 pennies in the bank
  • Have each player start with their own pile of twenty-five pennies (for four players,) or fifty pennies (for two players,) and zero pennies in the bank. Roll the die, and take the number the player rolls from the player's pile and return it to the bank. The winner is the first player to have no pennies left in their pile.
  • Or, roll with two dice and total the dots before collecting pennies from the pile.

At the end of a game have each player put their pennies in stacks of two. Count by two's to determine the total. If all the pennies can be put in stacks of two, then your total is an Even number. If one penny is left over then your total is an Odd number. Help your child count by two's, if necessary, until they can do it! Engaging in this kind of play helps your child develop their mathematical thinking and problem solving skills, all while having a great time with you!

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

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

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