Monthly Archives: September 2015

Sunday Morning Shout Out


Homework can feel a bit like a jolt of electricity after summer vacationand leave you and your children a bit disorientated.  Are your children finding it hard to hit the books at home?  Does your homework routine need a makeover?  The article at Scholastic.com titled ‘10 Homework Help Tips‘  by Ms. Stephanie Wood offers some great ideas to ensure an effective homework routine. The folks at Scholastic.com sought and received great tips from parents and teachers around the country, ranging from tips on time and place to do homework, to tips on increasing motivation and curtailing homework anxiety and frustration.

The top tip this article had was to get homework done good and early.  While some kids can hop off the bus and go right at it, other kids need a short break, before they begin their homework.  The biggest take away from this tip was to give a specific time frame-say 3pm to 5pm for homework, and to not start after 5pm for younger children especially.  Young children (and often parents too) are too tired to start at this point and there is dinner, maybe classes or practice, and the bedtime routine to start.

There was a great suggestion to create a call list for when homework is forgotten.  If that vital spelling list is forgotten, a homework buddy can go over it on the phone or have a grownup take a picture of the list to send over the phone. Or it could be e-mailed.

There were tips for motivating the overwhelmed and dispirited child.  It was suggested that you can build initial confidence by tackling that first homework problem together and then turning it over to your child, once she is confident and calmer about her work. Here and always, it’s a good practice to heap the positive feedback on your child’s efforts.  When you do this, you should be as specific as possible. What about the dispirited parent, who has his own homework woes, listening to his child whine and melt down over school work?  The article suggests leaving the room, (sanity saving action) but staying close by until the whining subsides.  It also suggests letting your child complain for a short time and practicing empathy to get over the initial hump.

For daydreamers and procrastinators, there are these tips.  A daydreamer may work better in a separate and specific spot to do his homework. In the article, a parent mentions setting her child up in her office.  There is something about letting a child work in a special place (like where you do your important work) that can be very motivating.  For that special procrastinator in your life, the article discusses having her try to beat the clock, to get over the initial hesitancy and inertia.  A parent can set the clock for five or ten minutes and instruct her child to fire away at her school work.  “ See how many math problem you can finish in 10 minutes!  I bet you can beat the clock!”

Other great tips include helping your child breakdown large tasks into more bite size pieces.  By taking a dry erase board or dry erase calendar, you can take that large project and schedule it out into more manageable steps.  For example, if your child has a special project they need to do on the fifty states, that culminates after two months of work, you can look at what has to be accomplished each of the eight weeks.  Doing it this way can help the most overwhelmed child and parent, too!  A last great tip they gave is something like an emergency switch.  If your child is truly done in and exhausted by specific homework, you can cut in half what they need to do. Either you or your child can explain that he did have of what was assigned, but could not complete it.  If a child uses this technique sparingly, it can help squelch a much larger homework problem.  He must then get the help he needs at school , through a peer, a tutor, or you, to further overcome their struggles.  With these tips, struggles should lessen.  Homework woes should ease and everyone should breathe easier at night…

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Sunday Morning Shout Out


As the new school year gets into gear, perhaps you would like to spice up and “health up” the lunch you pack for your child.  I know that I sometimes feel like I get in a school lunch rut with our kids.  While giving them nearly the same thing everyday works, I would not consider making the same dinner every night.  Good food is just too exciting and important for that type of resignation.  I think I stay with the tried and true out of habit and the need to meet the tastes of three children.

I am ready to branch out!  At the “Eat Well,” website, there are some great ideas that can turn boredom on its sorry head.  From the “Pizza Roll- Up Bento Lunch” to the “Broccoli Cheese Pie” that brilliantly features the fifth food group -bacon (and can easily become a vegetarian entrée by skipping the bacon), there are great and delicious ideas here for lunch.  Even the most fickle pickle of children could find these offerings, many which have kid friendly fruits and vegetables on the side, appealing and desirable.  Think star shaped watermelon slices, and rainbow colored plates of fruits and vegetables!  These unique offerings go far to deliver a very “whole food” lunchtime meal.

Gone are the days of plain peanut butter sandwiches and hello to the days of healthier, and more interesting yum!  However, remember to throw in that old favorite once in a while.

 

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Sunday Morning Shout Out


We are at that point. The school supply list has been fulfilled and a week or two of school is done.  If not, it will be done shortly.  It got me thinking about the other ways in which I would like to be prepared for the school.  I am thinking of this as a different type of school supply list.  It is really one about emotional reserves and the essence of parenting and supporting a school aged child.

May the kids have sharpened pencils, instead of sharp words in the morning or in the evening, at homework and dinner time.  With their folders, may we enfold them in enough hugs on a daily basis.  With their lunch boxes, may they be nourished by the time we have as a family and the time they have with their extended family and friends.  Along with their books for school, may they have a great book that they picked and love reading.

May Math be fun and not dreaded.  May someone explain it to them well so it is so.  In their new school shoes, may they know they never walk alone and know that there aren’t any mountains too steep to climb.  On their long bus ride or walk to school, may they know they are fortunate to have the privilege of going to school, and that not all children in the world have the same privileges.  Alongside their notes from class, may there be affirming notes from us.

May each requirement that they are facing under Common Core, be met with equal parts courage, resiliency, and understanding.  May they know when these supplies feel or truly are in short supply, there are some other loving and caring adults in their lives that are also there for them, they are called teachers and school administrators.

May their dreams never be in short supply.  If assignments are missing or certain requirements are not met, may we make sure it is not something missing on our part or behalf.  When they are scared, feeling down, or overwhelmed, may it met be with a large supply of love and a healthy dose of laughter.  This school year, may both of their school supply lists not be in short supply….

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Sunday Morning Shout Out


While “Auld Lang Sang” may be more associated with New Year Eve’s, back to school has it own “Auld Lang Sang” feeling too.  We start the new school year with many resolutions for our children, family, and home life.  Do you swear that this year everyone will be more organized, less rushed, more calm, more together regularly, etc?  Like a gym come February, many of our school resolutions get lost once the school year gets into full swing.  At the website Great schools.org,  in the article “Start the School Year Right: Tips From Our Expert,” there are some fantastic tips to launch a good school year.

There are tips aimed at better communication and improved understanding within our home.  The article discusses striving to really listen to our children (especially when they are being really open-bedtime, during a television show, after a shower, a car ride, etc) and focusing in on what our children are saying.  We should strive for understanding and give short, concise advice or guidance, when needed.  One way to do this is to get into a regular practice of talking or listening a few minutes each day, and take our conversations with our children as the little pearls that they are, for everyone’s benefit.

There are also tips for improving what I will call family sanity. -The top tip-not to get too overextended in extra activities, especially with young children.  It just over taxes and stresses everyone out!  Along these same lines, the article discusses scheduling time as a family to relax, be it through a movie night, game night, or commitment not to schedule anything extra , night.  There are the miscellaneous tips aimed at improving academic success and surviving the wilderness of adolescence, for both parents and teens alike. When you have to be in the car for games, rehearsals, practices, etc, there are tips to make the best use of downtime to increase academic success.

Through fun games and educational games, vocabulary, math, geography, and you name it academically can be improved. The article looks at the special dynamics of the middle school and high school years.  Typically, it is a time when parents become less engaged at school.  The article heavily suggests finding ways to engage, be it through the PTA , education forums, or parent support groups.  It discusses the careful dance of “negotiated freedom” for teens, via chances to prove themselves and committing to doing their part to uphold their responsibilities and place in family life.

There are some other great ideas here, too.  What do you do to launch a successful school year?  What helps you keep it going?

 

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