Category Archives: My Experiences

A few stories of my experiences from around the office and out on the job conducting interviews, free consultations and finding the tutors best suited for the student and vice versa.

Sunday Morning Shout Out


Image Source: http://www.lego.com

Image Source: http://www.lego.com

Do you feel a little remorse after heaping the shopping cart with “toy of the moment” stuff from the big-box stores this holiday season? Are you already envisioning a yard sale in nine months, with much of the stuff you are buying right now?  Would you rather get your child some educational toys this holiday season, and find toys/experiences that will last more than a moment?  How about buying a toy that will help your little wonder and not so little wonder learn?

Now that I have asked these questions, I will point you in the direction of some sage advice.  Last year the folks at “Live Science” have come up a great list of toys that help children explore many science fundamentals.  From toys featuring old friends and familiar product s like Miss Frizzle and “The Magic School Bus,” and Lego sets, to toys that get at chemistry through cooking and exploration through a working microscope, there are a wide range of toys in every price range.  These toys offer toddlers through teens the chance to build robots, do chemistry, familiarize themselves with labs and lab equipment, and fit together gears.  As you shop for your family, picture the heap of toys gathering dust and taking up space in one corner, versus some great quality toys that will go far in encouraging them, to pursue science and find real learning satisfaction.  While there may some of that dusty heap, I am going to plan to offset it with quality items.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Improved Learning, My Experiences, Parenting

Sunday Morning Shout Out


As the holidays quickly approach, does the thought of gift buying leave you uninspired?  Would you like to make your holiday more meaningful with your family?  Consider making presents with your children, for family and friends.

Before you accuse me of falling of my rocker, let me just say that these crafts are doable even for the un-crafty sort ( like me).  Sherry Osborn’s article, “100 Homemade Gift Ideas, at the “About Home” website, offers many ideas that appeal to different sensibilities.  They are sweet and often upcycled from common household items-buttons, pens, and even old cabinet doors. They make especially cute gifts for teachers, family, and friends who may have everything else already.

If crafting isn’t your thing, perhaps baking or cooking gifts for others is more appealing.  The article “Exceptional Homemade Edible Gifts,” by Carroll Pellegrinelli, at the “About Food,” website, lists some mouth watering delicious treat ideas for edible gift giving.  Let’s just say chocolate figures into many of the recipes that are listed.  It’s a win-win for everyone!

Whether homemade crafts or homemade treats for gifts, homemade anything shows a lot of heart.  Anyone can purchase a necktie, calendar, or gift card for a loved one.  But these ideas and their finished product possess that lovely and special quality that the standard mall gift does not.

With working together on these projects and giving from the heart, it may just lead you back to what’s essential about the holiday season.  And that is definitely another win-win!

Leave a comment

Filed under My Experiences, Parenting

Talking Proud…For Real!


As most of us born, raised and living in Western New York know we are a luck group of people despite the 50 years it has taken for the area to redefine itself from a rust-belt city into a new dynamic metropolis and region of the USA where young highly educated people want to go to live and thrive.  Katie Couric at Yahoo News has done a great job of capturing some of the cities rebirth in her series “Cities Rising: Rebuilding America.”  Ms Couric has certainly done the city proud…Thank you

 

Leave a comment

Filed under My Experiences

Sunday Morning Shout Out


The season is upon us.  Before you think I am talking about the holidays, think again.  I am talking about cold and flu season.  I am talking about the various “’plagues,” that are commonplace in many schools.  There are times when you wish for a bubble for you and your family.  There are times when you can’t get past it.

Fortunately, there are things we can do to shore ourselves up for the cold, flu, and “plague season.”  There are the tried and true tips: frequent hand washing, covering your face and mouth when you sneeze and cough, avoiding direct contact with someone who is sick, avoiding touching your face or eyes -as to avoid transmitting germs and sickness, eating for health-whole foods -as opposed to processed food and junk food, which decrease our bodies’ immune system, lots of rest, exercise, stress management, etc.  The medical community advocates for flu shots being the number one preventative measure a person can take.  Others like Dr Mark Hyman would disagree.  Vitamin C, big kettles of chicken soup, garlic, and a whole host of other more natural remedies are lauded by more holistic folk.  Every family is different in their approach.  Our favorites are airing out the house, frequent hand washing, whole foods, and pre and probiotics.  What are yours?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Health, My Experiences, Parenting

Holiday Activities


Holidat Tradition OrnamentSomewhere between Pinterest idyllic and reality, there is what we hope to establish in our home during the holidays.  For many, it is a time of increased togetherness.  The children are off from school and perhaps you are off from work for an extended period of time.  Perhaps you are a stay at home parent and you are always “off.”  Or perhaps, no such luck, you have to work increased hours over the holidays because of the kind of work you do.  Regardless of your exact situation, I am sure that some of what you are hoping for during the holidays is a sense of familial togetherness, fun, new memories; and meaningfulness. –More on that in a moment.

Rest assured, even the plans and holiday idylls that do not go as planned can be of lasting memory.  We still talk of the “Pink Eye Christmas” when we recall memories of Christmas past.  Our daughters had an awesome case of conjunctivitis, that was worsened by an allergic reaction our youngest girl had to eye drops.  She had a distinct resemblance to Rocky Balboa after a hard fight, that Christmas!  We still laugh at the Christmas mouse, from growing up.  As teenagers, my siblings and I had a mouse run across the floor during our Christmas meal.  A fond new memory is from a few years back when our girls received a package of pacifiers or “bobos” from Santa and the Bobo Fairy.  She had come about a year prior, when our daughter gave up her bobo.  This is how they found out their mother was expecting their little brother.

Somewhere between your holiday idylls and the bickering that arises when all the children are home together for an extended period of time; the pulls and demands of time, money, and limited energy reserves; and the unexpected that is all but a guarantee in life, is a chance for some great times together.  The folks at the great website “Parent map” offer 15 great ideas for making the most of your time together during the holidays.  From game nights by the Christmas tree and volunteering as a family to great craft ideas and journaling suggestions for recording the year’s highlights, there are some fantastic suggestions here.  Wishing you togetherness, laughter, fun, new found memories, and meaning this holiday season! Happy Holidays!

Leave a comment

Filed under Health, My Experiences, Parenting

Sunday Morning Shout Out


Sports BanquetA few weekends ago “The New York Times” re ran a great column in their “Motherlode” feature.  In Lisa Hefferman’s column “Our Push for ‘Passion’, and Why It Harms Kids,” Hefferman discusses one of today’s parenting trends, finding your child’s passion.  While best intentions may drive this and it may seem innocent, this modern parenting quest has many potential negative consequences.

Are parents charged with finding their child’s passion?  The best intentioned parent wants their child to find things they are good at and enjoy.  From cheer and hockey, to soccer and dance, we all like seeing our kids do things they enjoy.  We feel pride over their routines, goals, recitals, etc.  This is all so very good and normal.  Yet like many things in childhood and society today, this normal event has become supercharged.  While childhood is a time of exploration, many of today’s parents are looking for a hobby, an instrument, a sport to define their child and give both their child and them purpose, status, etc.  It seems this goes right with the adult sense of being overly busy, as the definition of normal, purposeful, and routine.

As adults, it seem like our “crazy busy” is lamentable, but a crutch that makes us okay in our peers eyes.  If our children aren’t into 25 activities and are allowed to enjoy a slow childhood at home, they are more the exception and sadly the oddball for many.  It also seems like we are often hoping to help our children through their childhood, by defining a piece of who they are early in life.  There’s no doubt that a sense of self, talent, efficacy helps one thrive, but are we the ones who should define this or should it be our children?  While society at large may drive this force, there’s no doubt that visions of college applications years down the road are also part of this phenomenon.  We are told colleges accept students with “passion”.  If they begin at four years-old, we may think we are helping them and ourselves with their collegiate future.

The columnist’s stance and mine are that this is harmful more than helpful for several reasons.  When children work at their “passion” six days a week after school, what about other interests that go undiscovered?  If we have decide soccer is it for them, what about their natural curiosity in bugs, guitar, designing costumes, doing art, etc. etc?  Their time is spoken for because of their “passion,” leaving little room or time for what may be other interests and life’s truer passions.  This drive for passion is expensive and consumes time.  Children naturally have interest in many different things.  If we are to get all the equipment, pay for all the lessons, send them to all the camps for their “passion,” we spend whole lot money on things that can be better spent.  How about saving for college, their future, and our future with some of this money?

There is the other side of the time piece.  Not only are they losing time to find out what truly interests them, they may be losing their childhood.  Children today are overscheduled, overcommitted, and over involved.  There are so many great things that come from unstructured play and more peaceful family time.  As parents, let’s help our children explore their interests.  Yes, passion may come from some of these interests.  But let’s let it be defined by them, instead of us.  Money, time, and childhood are at stake……

Leave a comment

Filed under Health, My Experiences, Parenting

Sunday Morning Shout Out


It’s not easy being a child today.  While this may always have been the case, today’s children live in a hyperactive world.  Between meeting the demands of Common Core and the umpteen activities they do, children can face a great amount of stress.  A normally docile acts out.  An energetic child is sluggish and out of sorts.  These are all ways children show stress.  Fortunately, parents can help their children combat stress in many different ways.

The article “Helping Kids Cope With Stress,” from the “Kids Health” website  offers some great tips to parents.

The first tip is to “notice out loud” when a child seems stressed.  for example, when Johnny seems stressed, put it to words. “Johnny, you seem mad about what happened in gym yesterday” or “Susie, you seem like something is bothering you.”  When parents do this, their concern goes far in helping children feel armored to fight stress.  Children often feel alone and consumed by their stress and worries.  Show them they are not alone and you are there with them.

Along with this, parents should actively listen to their children when they tell us what is wrong, without adding judgment or without rushing them along.  Ask open ended questions to get them talking about their worries.  “Jilly, what is stressing you out?” “Tell me what happened in class.” “What did you do after your coach said that to you?” It then helps to dose them with a great deal of empathy.  This sounds like a no brainer, but in the heat of the moment parents are often at their wits end or flooded with their own feelings-anger, stress, distraction.  Feeling understood and listened to, helps your child feel supported by you.

Parents can also help our children put a label on their feelings and help them think of things to do. Children, especially small children, may lack the words to express their feelings.  This is probably why they start with I have a headache or stomachache, instead of I feel overwhelmed by homework; I am tired; I am upset by all the attention Baby Sammy is getting instead of me, etc.. Early on, children are able to describe a belly ache or a head ache. By helping children identify and label their feelings, parents help them increase their emotional awareness. “Susie, you feel overwhelmed by all the homework you have this year. You’d like more time to play.” “Joey, you are saying you are sad because you miss spending time with me, now that the baby is here.”

After having increased emotional awareness with your child, help them develop an action plan.  Help your child think of what to do when stress arises.  Parents may need to start the brainstorming session, but ask them for their ideas. – When Johnny comes up with ways to deal with not forgetting his homework, that’s pretty powerful stuff. Help him follow through.  Maybe he isolates the problem. His folder never comes off his desk once homework is completed.  He tells you he needs to place it right in the bag, after you check it Of course, right.  When children come up with the solution, they gain confidence and feel empowered.

In the article, parents are reminded that sometimes they just need to listen and help them move on. Sometime, it only takes a sense of being heard, to feel better. Listen and help your child find something fun and relaxing to do.  Do not give a problem more attention than it deserves.  Also, a child may not need to talk about it or want to talk about it.  They just need parent to be there for them and ready to listen if they want to talk to us about it.  Be loving, patient, and present to them.

Lastly, parents may need to actively step in and minimize stress in their children’s lives.  If the morning is pure chaos, what is our role in reducing it?  Does everyone have enough time to get ready? What can be done the night before to make for a smooth morning routine?  Did everyone have a healthy breakfast, to provide them the right nutrition to start the day? Are your children getting enough exercise at home? How about activities? Today’s children need more downtime and less scheduled time.  It will not wreck their college application for them to forgo competitive swimming at seven years-old or five day a week, travel soccer.  Childhood is brief.  By teaching health stress management skills now, parents are helping their children for a lifetime.

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, Health, My Experiences, Parenting