Monthly Archives: September 2014

Sunday Morning Shout Out


It’s not my lefty whose handwriting has me concerned.  All of a sudden, my youngest daughter has physician’s scrawl in 2nd grade.  Perhaps I am exaggerating. (Would the queen of hyperbole exaggerate these matters when it comes to her children? Of course).  But I do want her to take her time with handwriting.  It’s a made of work effort, appearance, and grade. She’s a bright, bright girl, but will get a lower mark if she hands in her physician’s notes. Whether it’s handwriting now or later doing her thesis in graduate school, I want her to take her time.

This is a new phenom, as she used to have wonderfully neat work last year.  What’s the rush in 2nd grade?  I guess she’s just catching up to the rest of us.  As Jen Klein writes in her blog article “Promoting Penmanship”, society has less of an emphasis on this at large.  In the 21st century, we spend more time on the computer keyboard, than with a pen and paper for communication.  As far as the classroom, her school is hardly alone with its lesser emphasis on cursive and greater emphasis on many other things.  It’s a far cry from my days in parochial school where the nuns had us first do circles and lines on dry boards before we even attempted letters.

As a cost, penmanship, fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination have seemed to suffer across the population.

I do so think proper penmanship has its place.  Who doesn’t want their child to put forth their best efforts on paper—have the exterior match the thought and consideration of an answer that is jotted down?  Who enjoys having their handwritten note examined and misunderstood, as if it was ancient Greek scrolls?  This isn’t ancient Greece.  I am that writer who jokes about how she should have been a doctor for the poor and sorry state of her handwriting.  I do not want our children to follow suit.

In her article, Klein offers some great suggestions to stem the tide of poor “penning.”  She encourages her children’s efforts by having baskets of colored pencils and pens for writing, drawing, and this type of handy work.  She also has purchased calligraphy sets for them to practice with and take pride in using on paper.  Additionally, she has challenged herself to write more neatly and take her time doing everything from grocery lists fancifully to personal thank you cards.  This is just one of those things…

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Sunday Morning Shout Out


Oh to have a fine day like our children had in school!  What did you to do today?- Out of the mouth of babes and bigger babes, nothing – surely not.  I am not quite sure when this became the norm for responses.  We know their nothing is a whole lot of something.  How do we get our children to talk about their something from school?  Here are a few ideas.

In our home, we often play high and low.  I have also seen it called roses and thorns light and darkness, kid torture-okay just kidding on that one.  With this, everyone shares a highlight from their day and a low light. We do it at the dinner table.  While our three year-old is still getting the hang of it, I have learned things about our girls’ school day I would never have known otherwise.  It does get them beyond the nothing.

Another tactic is perhaps waiting to ask about their day.  Like us after a trying day, maybe they don’t want to rehash it right off the bus. Maybe they need a snack; some downtime; and a little space from their day.  Our oldest is infamous for “unloading” right at bedtime.

Leave to some of the Huffington Post writers to think of some funny and quirky ways to ask this question.  Liz Evans shares her questions for her kids in a recent article.  My personal favorite is who would you have beamed up to space from your classroom today, given the chance?  This might open the door to getting your child to discuss a social situation or other uncomfortable situation, that otherwise might not have been brought up.   If nothing else, levity will be brought to your day and theirs.  We know our children are doing a whole lot in school.  Let’s continue to find ways to stay involved; show them our interest; and underline our support.

 

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Sunday Morning Shout Out


Perhaps your child is a newly transitioned middle school student.  Going from elementary school to middle school is chalk full of changes for everyone.  While middle school orientations can help, I do believe students and parents still find themselves in somewhat of a wilderness when it comes to making this leap.

When researching information on this subject, I came across an article that was wonderful for looking at this milestone from a middle school student’s perspective.  An article at the PBS Kids website: “It’s My Life, “Middle School, What’s Different,” discusses what your child is probably starting to fully realize these first few weeks of school. School right now is a whole lot different!   From looking at middle school students ‘shift in perception in their teacher’s eyes and switching classes to more homework and surviving cliques, this series presents many kid friendly perspectives on middle school, and how to make it a great success.

Not to leave parents out of the loop, the article at scholastic. comMaking the Transition” offers many suggestions for helping parents navigate this challenging time with their children.  From addressing the physical and emotional changes their children are starting to go through to looking at self-esteem issues, this article has great ideas for parents in helping them remain a bedrock of support in their children’s lives, in what can be a rocky time. There are discussion points and suggestions for parents in how to teach stress management skills.  By knowing what’s typical and helping our children stay centered and supported, they will transition and soon thrive.  Transitions do end and then we are all on to a new normal…

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Sunday Morning Shout Out


For children and parents alike, back to school can be both exciting and stressful.  Transitions are a challenge for everyone.  The individuals at NASP (The National Association of School Psychologists) have a a resources section that offers some great tips for parents and students to transition back to the more scheduled, busy days of the school year.

In the article “Back-to-School Transitions” they outline tips for the weeks leading up to the start of the school year and the first few weeks back into the new routine.  There are the practical suggestions for parents and students.  Parents should help their children designate and clear a spot for homework.  While older children can work on a clean surface in their room, younger children should work in an area close by to their parents or caregivers to receive the maximum support and help with homework.  They are just getting into the “homework scene” and need such support to facilitate success.  Another suggestion includes designating a spot for bags, lunch boxes, and notifications from the school to promote ease, accessibility, organization (and may I add parental sanity).  The writers also suggest making a few meals ahead of time and having them on hand for the first week of school, as everyone transitions to the stricter schedule and responsibilities of the school year, during the rush hours after school known as: homework; dinner preparation and dinner; and more homework, activities, or family responsibilities.

Some of the other suggestions for the first week of school include: having parents clear their own schedules the first week of school to assist their child’s acclimation; making lunches the night before to beat the morning chaos; leaving plenty of extra time to get ready; eat; and get to school; reviewing your child’s textbooks and agendas, and conveying positive and enthusiastic support for what they are learning, as it sets the tone for the year; and sending a note to your child’s teacher that establishes your interests and desire to be good partners for the year.

The authors have specific suggestions for helping children deal with anxiety and stress in school. For starters, remind them that this is perfectly normal.  They then talk about modeling optimism and calm confidence for your child when it comes to school.  By modeling such behavior, you give them an example to imitate.  If there was problematic behavior last year, in terms of bullying or other situations that were emotionally charged for your child, make sure they were properly dealt with by all.  That said, reinforce their coping strategies by role-playing or offering them some suggestions, with what to do in a tough situation –be it making friends, peer pressure, bullying, or if they need help in class.  Other suggestions include being a presence in the classroom or school when volunteers are needed and knowing when to seek additional professional help when needed, if stress seems extreme, or other behavioral issues arise.

The last area they touch on warrants a standalone discussion.  They advice against overdoing extracurricular activities.  While one or two activities can be a socially and personally enriching experience for the child and family, more than that can overburden and stress the child and family. Often times for these activities directly compete with school work and familial needs. Choosing wisely is sage advice…. As our children return to the classroom, a hearty good luck and best wishes for a great school year!

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