raising strong students: study habits for smart kids

raising strong students: study habits for smart kids | teachmama.com

raising strong students: study habits for smart kids | teachmama.comOnce your kids hit elementary school, things get a little bit crazy.

All of a sudden, your kids actually need to be at school on time.

All of a sudden, you’re buried under a mountain of papers, fliers, and notices.

All of a sudden, your kids have real homework.

All of a sudden, your kids get to buy lunch and play instruments.

All of a sudden, you feel overwhelmed and inundated with kid projects and activities.

In the blink of an eye, your little, innocent preschoolers are replaced by these big kids who have tests and assignments.  And it’s nuts.

So what we do now–as parents of elementary schoolers–really, truly makes a big difference in our kids’ long-term success in school.

It’s about setting up habits and routines that matter. If we want to raise strong students, we must start now.

And believe me, I know it’s not always easy.  Believe me. We are late nearly every single day, and we live a stone’s throw from the school.

But we’re working on it, and we’re trying.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Raising Strong Students–Study Habits for Smart Kids:

I’ve talked long and hard about how important it is for parents to do what they can to help build a solid foundation for learning for our kids–playing games with ABCs, talking about numbers, teaching the basics–so that they start their formal education on solid ground.

And I still stand by that for sure.

But it’s only half the battle.

The other half of the battle is all about establishing routines.  In order to raise strong students, we have to establish study habits for our smart kids. Early.

If you have no study habits to speak of at this point, don’t worry. Do. Not. Worry. Start tomorrow. Or start this Monday.

Here’s what has to happen: Kids do their jobs. Then you do your job. Pause. Then you both do your job again.

Bam. In more detail:

raising strong students study habits for smart kids 1

1.  Kids do their jobs. It’s their job to put their backpacks, coats, and shoes in the same place every single day.

And they should put their folders or assignment books and lunch boxes in the same place every single day.

 

raising strong students study habits for smart kids 2

2. Parents do their jobs. Your job is to look at their school folders and go through their papers.

Sign or fill out important forms and file everything that your kids do not need in a special folder for each child. Empty the folder every month, keeping things you want to save and recycling everything else.

raising strong students: study habits for smart kids

Pause. Kids relax for 15 or 20 minutes.  They have a snack.

They wash hands, put on their play clothes or soccer uniform or dance outfit–whatever they’ll need for an after school activity later.

They chill out while you get your work finished.

raising strong students study habits for smart kids  3

 

3.  Jobs again. Kids’ biggie job is homework.  Your job–especially when kids are younger–is to make sure it’s completed in a satisfactory manner.

Sometime in the first hour that kids get home–after they’ve had a snack and have chatted with you about their day, played with the dog or did their quick chore–kids must finish homework in a quiet, distraction-free spot in the house. That way, it’s over. They don’t have to worry about it and can instead relax for the rest of the evening.

That’s it.  But parents must play an active role in establishing this routine. Really, they must.

 

raising strong students study habits for smart kids 1

Some helpful hints to make it work? 

  • Keep homework in the same place every day. Make it as distraction-free as possible.
  • Keep necessary supplies close at hand: paper, pencils, stapler, tape, crayons.
  • Keep kids responsible. Ask them to write down tests on a family calendar and post it so everyone can see. Kids put their work in folders when finished and pack backpacks for the next day.
  • Keep reminding kids that right now, school is their job and they want to do it well.
  • Keep reminding kids how much everyone appreciates their teacher’s hard work.
  • Keep it positive.
  • Keep it upbeat.
  • Keep consistent with the routine.
  • Keep it real. Some days, you need to stray from the routine. But get right back on it asap.

raising strong students study habits for smart kids 1

 

This is not easy, and I’ll be the first to admit that even though we run a pretty tight routine over here, I choose my battles. 

My kids’ socks never match. We’re the family running to school as the bell is ringing. I don’t always put sunscreen on their little faces for recess, and I often pack double desserts in their lunches but forget to include a drink.

They do forget library books and homework and sometimes wear flip-flops on days they have P.E.

And some days, even if I see that forgotten homework or book on the table, I physically cannot bring it to school because I have work and meetings and calls myself.  So it’s all a learning process. Believe me.

Bottom line is this: what we do now really counts. Because though we think we’re in the big game now, once our kids get to high school and college, then they’re in the big leagues. And if they have long-established study habits–study skills that work for them–then they’re more likely to be successful in the major leagues and later on in life.

We got this.  But parents, wee have to be in the game–every day.

 

What works for you? For your kids? For your family? How do you raise strong students with solid study habits?

I’d love to know! 

Want a little more info? NEA, National Education Association, has it covered. Visit nea.org/parents for more info on raising strong students.

 

fyi: This post reflects a collaboration with the National Education Association’s Raise Your Hand for Student Success campaign. All thoughts and opinions are, of course, my own.

understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning

understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

 

understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning | teachmama.comI’ve always tried to make a big deal about certain text features when we see them in fiction that we’re reading, especially bold and italics.

I’m cool like that.

There’s something about bold and italics that make me feel like they give us a teeny glimpse into what the author really wants us to understand in the text.  Or maybe I just can hear the characters’ voices more clearly when I can see what they would be emphasizing during conversations.

Or maybe I just tend to use them a  lot so I’m happy when I see them on someone else’s page.

Whatever it is, Cora and I had an interesting conversation about italics last night before bed, and I thought it was worth sharing.

If we had this chat, certainly other parents are having the italics chat as well.

. .  . or maybe we’re just a strange family.

Either way, it’s worth taking a look at if you do any read-alouds with your readers at home.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Understanding Italics in Fiction–Text Features and Meaning:

Cora was reading a book to me when it all started.

It was a book from her Media Center that she picked up yesterday called The Witch Who Was Afraid of Witches, by Alice Low, illustrated by Jane Manning. Very cute book geared toward readers in grades 2-4, about a little witch who is afraid of her two older, bossy and nasty sisters until she discovers her own magic one Halloween night.

understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning

understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning

 

Like I try to do during read-alouds, I let Cora’s first time reading through the italics and ignoring them go.

She didn’t alter the meaning of the text; she just ignored the text feature. It’s all good.

But when she finished the book and we were talking about it, I said, Man, I liked how fluently you read that story. You really do a good job of paying attention to the punctuation, especially when people are speaking. I showed her a few places where she did this, pointing out specific examples.

One thing I’d love for you to do next time you read it, though, is keep your eyes open for certain text features–like italics. I personally love italics and bold when I see it in books. Do you want to know why?

She nodded. understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning

 

I like italics and bold because it kind of lets you know what the author wants the reader to emphasize.

Like here: (I flipped back to the beginning of the book.) I read, ‘Her oldest sister, Polly knew everything’.  See how ‘knew’ is in italics? The author wants us to say it with more emotion to make a point–that the oldest sister had a brain full of information.

Cora stopped me. She closed the book. 

Confidently, she declared: Well I don’t care about italics. The author is not the boss of me. 

 

understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning

 

I honestly felt like I was in a bad sitcom.  I have not a clue where she ever heard that phrase, but not much surprises me from my tiniest.

Well that’s fine, I said. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to when it comes to reading. We really just want you to find good books that you enjoy and like reading. But the thing with italics and bold is–that they help ‘complete’ the story. Sure, you can read anything on the page–the words–and look at the illustrations–but if you ask me, text features like italics just take it a step further. They take the reading up a notch. Like beginners may just read the words, but experts may read it all–italics, bold, the whole thing. Because they want to get the whole picture. 

I showed her two other places in the text where the author used italics, focusing on the part when little witch Wendy was sad in her bed, hugging her broomstick. She says, ‘At least I have you. . . you give me a little witch power’.

We talked a bit about that statement and how it sounds different when a person reads it without emphasizing ‘you’ and with emphasizing ‘you’.

She wouldn’t budge. I didn’t convince her of the power of italics. . . but at least I got her thinking.  I hope.

 

Is this skill imperative for young readers’ understanding of a text? Must they be able to respond to every text feature they encounter in fiction or non-fiction texts?

Honestly, it’s not the hill I want to die on. (Notice deliberate use of italics, please.)

If kids are decoding the text in a book like this, and if they understand and appreciate the story, it’s all good. However, Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, grade 2 requires that students understand how text features are used in nonfiction (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.2.5).

And if you jump on over to the fiction side of CCSS, you’ll see that students need to acknowledge different points of view of characters which they can express by reading in a different voice for each character when reading aloud (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.6)–so this is where understanding the text features in order to best understand the characters would come into play. Or when ‘integrating knowledge and ideas’ students have to use information gained from illustrations or words in a text . . . in order to demonstrate understanding of characters, plot, or setting (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.7). So does this count as ‘information gained from words in a text’? Hmmmm. 

So there you have it. They’ve got to understand how text features like this are used, but if they choose not to read it that way, it’s their choice. Kids just have to show that they understand what’s going on. And clearly, my kiddo gets that the author isn’t the boss of her.

 

fyi: affiliate links are used in this post

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

make easy candy corn desserts with kids (they're not perfect and still pretty)

make easy candy corn desserts with kids (they're not perfect and still pretty)Halloween’s almost here, but candy corn and tons of sweet treats have been in the grocery stores for what seems like weeks now.

Cora and I took that Halloween spirit and ran with it, creating our own, easy candy corn desserts.

It’s always fun to experiment in the kitchen, but when you can let your kids take the lead and use their creativity a bit, it’s all the better.

We wanted to have something fun and sweet here for when Aunt Katie and Asher visited this past weekend (so fun!), and that we did. Even though I can’t say that these were perfect for a toddler (we used our tiny fancy glasses–not smart!), he sure seemed to like what his mom gave him on his spoon.

Cora was uber-proud.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Make Easy Candy Corn Desserts With Kids: Really, when I say these are easy, I’m not even joking.

And they’re so pretty.

What I love most about these is that they’re totally imperfect. So far from the images on Pinterest and all over the internet of picture-perfect holiday treats, it’s laughable.

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

 

But we loved them.

Even though the marshmallows got really soggy and squishy on day two. But who cares?

All you need for these babies are a few things: orange jell-o, vanilla instant pudding, and marshmallows. Bam.

 

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

We pulled out our fancy glasses–the ones we used for our Royal Wedding party way back when and the ones we used for Cora’s Frozen birthday bash.

Cora and I knew we wanted to use pudding that we had already made for our treats–pudding that was in the fridge and wasn’t moving. We made it two days before, and no one seemed to go for it like I hoped.

So we drew a tiny candy corn on a piece of paper to keep us centered and focused on the task at hand–we wanted to recreate candy corn parfait-type treats using marshmallows, jell-o, and pudding.

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

 

Cora mixed the Jell-O, which she and I are both trying to each more frequently because our nails are total junk.

And doesn’t everyone want strong nails? We do.

 

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

 

Making the parfaits was easy. Cora decided that in order to make the treats look most like candy corn, we had to start with marshmallows, then put in the yellowish pudding, then put in the orange Jell-O.

So that’s what we did.

And it was a wee bit tricky.

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

What made it tough for us was our small, fancy glasses.

But I bet if you want to do these for a class party or Halloween get-together with lots of tiny kids, using a clear plastic tumbler would totally work–and then you could more easily pour in the orange Jell-O.

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

We put them all in the fridge.

And then we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

 

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

And though they all looked a little different from each other, they all looked so pretty.

We knew that Aunt Katie and Asher would love them–which they totally did.

 

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

 

Were they picture-perfect? Nope.

Did they taste like food of the angels? Not at all.

Was every single one of them gorgeous? Oh my gosh, no.

Did we love them? Sure did.

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

 

Because above all, my tiniest was way proud of her work in the kitchen–her creativity, thought, and patience.

And so was I.

And really? We all need to celebrate a little more of the perfect imperfections in life. It’s not all pinteresty-perfect, friends!

Want a few more fun halloween party ideas?

 

Let me know how you’ve gotten your kiddos involved in preparing for this spooky holiday–I’d love to hear it!

earn money for your school (& get parents to events!): what you need to know

earn money for your school (& get parents to events!): what you need to know

This post is brought to you by VolunteerSpot & Bing for Schools.

 

earn money for your school and get parents to events  teachmama.com 2We are all so busy during the school year, it’s nuts crazy.

And it seems like the older our kids get, the more we have to juggle.

Many of us know how important it is for us to support our kids’ schools through fundraising, attending events, and volunteering–but it’s tough.

I know that especially when the kids were little, it was all I could do to get the kids to school, let alone worry about volunteering or fundraising.

I brought blinged-out waterbottles to a Teacher Appreciation luncheon because at the time, it was all I could do.

I’m thankful, now, that there are tons of ways that parents can help support their kids’ schools no matter what their situation is. But when it comes to organizing fundraisers and school events, there are some things that you have to keep in mind if you want the program to work.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Earn Money for Your School (& Get Parents to Events!)–What You Need to Know:

These may seem like two separate entities–fundraising and attendance–but they’re really pretty closely related when you think about it.

Above all, everything schools do when it comes to these things must be easy, inviting, and relevant

  • Keep it easy. Fundraisers must have simple directions. One or two steps.  Parents want to look at it, take some action, and be done with it. Events have to be easy–we don’t want to have to bring a million things to an event. We want to put it on our calendar and come as we are.
  • Inviting. Fundraisers have to be interesting and welcoming–things we want to look at and support–which is why the delivery is super important. That first impression makes a difference. So even simple flyers sent home from school with the kids should be appealing to the eyes and be free of spelling or grammatical errors.  Dates, times, and prices should be correct.
  • Relevant. We are more likely to buy products that will help us or our children in some way, shape or form.  Events have to be the same.  We want healthy kids and families, so let’s not sell a bunch of junk food or candy, right?

And for parents, the important thing to remember is that no matter where you are in the world–whether you’re working full-time or part-time, whether you’re married or single, whether you’ve got all kids in school or only one–there is a job for you.  There is some way you can help in your child’s school.

It’s critical that those parents doing the organizing and volunteering make it crystal clear that there is a need and a place for every parent at every school.

earn money for your school (& get parents to events!): what you need to know

Parents can:

  • help in the school media center;
  • make copies for teachers;
  • create bulletin boards;
  • collect Box Tops;
  • manage field trips;
  • organize assemblies;
  • serve on the board or as a committee chair;
  • attend events;
  • start your own after school club;
  • be a room parent;
  • share a board position with a friend;
  • manage the school website;
  • help with social media accounts;
  • work on the school garden or courtyard;
  • coordinate school and community partnerships;
  • manage dinners out restaurant nights;
  • organize Teacher Appreciation Week events;
  • and more.

The possibilities are endless, and of course, they depend on your school and your administration’s permission and interest.

It’s just a matter of sharing your strengths with your parent-teacher organization and using your own creativity to design a way you can help.

 

VolunteerSpot_Bing_470x246

Want to check out a few more ways you can earn money for your school and get parents to events? 

Check it out: How to Raise More Money for Your School–Boosting Fundraiser Turnout & Profits for your School-Parent Group

 

 

The webinar focus: Participants will learn how to pick the right combination of fundraisers for your school-parent group, boost turnout with Social Media, and ultimately RAISE MORE MONEY for school! With a special presentation by Bing, participants will also learn about easy ways parents can earn rewards for their school throughout the year to receive cutting edge education technology.

Facilitator: VolunteerSpot founder and CEO, Karen Bantuveris – seasoned speaker – school fundraising and parent-participation expert.

 

VolunteerSpot_Bing_470x246_v2

 

Go ahead–forward this post to your PTA or PTO board, to your room parent or fundraising chair, and start making some serious change in your school community!

And let me know–what’s your favorite way to help in your kids’ school–right now?

 

 

fyi: I am a longtime friend and supporter of VolunteerSpot who sponsored this post. As always, opinions and ideas are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator. 

the ultimate healthy living bundle: teachmama fab find

the ultimate healthy living bundle: teachmama fab find

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

ultimate healthy bundle | teachmama fab find

It’s the beginning of a new school year, and for me, that always means it’s a time to restart, recharge, and re-examine our family’s health and routines. 

After a summer full of ice-cream cones, freeze pops, and backyard bbq’s (and okay, a few too many Summer Shandys), I really needed to make some changes. All of my clothes were feeling tighter, and honestly, my body hadn’t had the time–or energy–to really move much this summer with three kids home all of the time.

I’m not complaining; I wouldn’t change a thing.  I’m just stating the truth. I needed a redo. A jump-start. A kick in the behind.

You know me–I’m a big sweet-toothed gal by nature, and so are my kids. So cutting sugar, eating healthier, and being conscious of our all-around well-being is a top priority right now.

I’ve found a great bunch of resources that I think every busy mom will appreciate and could really use during this season of new beginnings: The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle.

It’s big. And it’s awesome.

But don’t be intimidated. Grab the deal. Download the books. And read them as you’re ready.

Simply click below to grab this deal:

 

 

For the ridiculously low price of just $29.97 (for the PDF version) or $39.97 (for the eReader version), you can get access to a carefully curated collection of eBooks and eCourses with a total combined value of $1,030.

The bundle contains a wealth of information from the very finest healthy living writers out there – but there’s no risk of getting overwhelmed! A useful Getting Started Guide is included with your purchase, which will help you identify the most valuable resources for your specific health priorities.

The Ultimate Bundles team has done all the hard work for you – finding the top experts across a number of healthy living fields and combining their products into one essential collection. If you want to take control of your health, there’s no better way to start!

 

The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle will only be on sale for 6 days – from 8am EST on Wednesday, September 10 until 11:59pm EST on Monday, September 15.

But don’t wait until the last moment – there are only 30,000 bundles available and once they’re gone, they’re gone!

You can buy with confidence because your purchase is covered by the Ultimate Bundles one-year guarantee: you have a full year to enjoy all the books and courses in the bundle, and if you don’t feel like it’s made a huge difference to your family’s health, you’ll get your money back in full!


As if this great collection of eBooks and eCourses wasn’t enough, the Ultimate Bundles team has also partnered with 10 fantastic companies who’ve each agreed to give a special bonus to every buyer. The bonuses have a total value of over $200 – more than 5 times the price of the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle itself!

The bonuses include free goodies aplenty: a bottle of Healthy Mouth Blend from OraWellness, a baltic amber bracelet from Sweetbottoms Boutique, and a starter culture from Cultures For Health. You’ll also get gift sets from Made On Skin Care Products and Homegrown Collective.

There are virtual goodies, too – a 4-month membership to StayAtHomeYoga.com and a 3-month premium membership to meal planning service Tradishen. And as if all that weren’t enough, there are also $15 gift certificates for TheJoyfulGiraffe.com, Strawesome.com and Trilight Health. There is a nominal shipping charge for many of the bonuses, based on each company’s standard shipping rates, and is usually $3-5.

 

Here’s what you need to know about the sale:

When? 7 a.m. EST Wednesday, September 10 until 11:59 p.m. EST Monday, September 15

What? 73 eBooks and 7 audio & eCourses, PLUS over $200 worth of bonus products you’ll really use!

Where? Purchase the bundle HERE.

How much? Well now, that’s the best part. The entire package is worth $1030, and it’s selling for less than $30. Sweet deal, right?

Want to know exactly what’s included in the bundle?

Take a look through the categories, as well as the full list of eBooks and eCourses.

We think there’s something here for everyone, and don’t forget… our Getting Started Guide will show you exactly which resources cover the topics and health concerns that matter most to you!

Alternative Health & Home Remedies

Audio Courses & eCourses

Fitness

Gardening & Homesteading

Green Cleaning

 

Healthy Children

Meal Budgeting & Planning

Natural Beauty & Skincare

 

Real Food Recipes

Seasonal

Special Diets

 

Remember, this bundle is available for 6 days only, from 7 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday, September 10th to 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Monday, September 15th.

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

 

 

 

fyi: I am an affilliate partner of The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle.

 

 

 

 

noticing your kids: little observations mean a lot from parents

noticing your kids: little observations mean a lot from parents

originally published 9/17/09 but republishing now because it’s worth it–

 

Lately, I’ve felt overwhelmed by Cora’s ‘two-year-old-ness’. noticing your kids  observations mean a lot from parents  teachmama.com

Her fiery temper; her constant movement; her unceasing energy; her smiles, hugs, songs, and cuddles; her high high’s, and her low low’s. Some days we enjoy this roller coaster ride, and others, we all want off.

But what I’ve also realized is that as a parent, I’m more experienced than I was when Maddy was two, but I’m not in the fog of fatigue that I muddled through when Owen was the same age. I’m in a different place, and although I sometimes wish that Cora already knew the correct ways of behaving, I seem to have forgotten that those behaviors have to be taught.

So last week, I needed to revisit my old, trusty parenting books for a quick refresher. I didn’t like that I had begun to sound like a broken record, ordering everyone around, raising my voice, and being a reactive parent instead of a proactive parent.

I needed to stop, breathe, and really start to notice the behaviors I wanted her to continue. And then I needed to share with her what I noticed.

It’s all about “shining your light” where you indicate value:

  • Noticing Behaviors: The goal with noticing is to state an observation rather than make a judgement.

NoGood job, Cora.

Yes!Cora, you put your toys in the bin and your clothes in the drawers. You cleaned your room so you can find things when you want them.

Wordy, yes. Takes thought, yes. But it does make sense, especially for our little guys.

Here’s the skinny

  • Start your sentence with the child’s name or the pronoun ‘you’. Look at you!, or I noticed. . .
  • Describe what you see. You found her blanket and gave it to her. That was helpful!
  • End your description with a ‘tag’. Tags describe attributes of your child or values you admire, like that took determination; you sure are organized; that was helpful; that was thoughtful.

Some examples

  • Look at you! You’re eating with your spoon!
  • You did it! You went potty on the big potty. Good for you!
  • Owen, you held the door for Cora. That was helpful.
  • Cora, you offered Maddy a french fry when hers were all gone. That was so thoughtful.
  • Maddy, you picked up all of the doll clothes without being asked. That was super helpful.

Becky Bailey believes that if you accentuate your child’s strengths, you teach them their abilities. If you encourage their contribution, you teach them how important it is that they share their gifts.

It’s hard. It’s so hard. But positive behaviors have to be taught–which is much easier said than done sometimes.

And if we spotlight the behaviors that we want repeated (think: Special Plate), then most likely those behaviors will be repeated.

This Quick Trick is another one from Becky Bailey’s Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline (2000), which has helped me to become more conscious in my disciplining. (When I am disciplined enough to use it!)

I’m far from an expert, hardly the perfect parent, and by nature am quick-tempered and fiery myself (hmmmm, where does sweet Cora get it?), but I am always, always looking for quick tricks to keep in my back pocket. Do share yours!

 

 


 

fyi: affiliate links used in this post

how to talk to your kids about instagram

how to talk to your kids about instagram | teachmama.com #digitalliteracy #digitalkids

It’s hard.how to talk to your kids about instagram | teachmama.com

For many of us with tweens, times are a tough.

Or if they’re not tough now, they’re going to be.

It’s the group mentality: they want to do what their friends are doing.

And it was easy when it was as simple as getting them Rainbow Loom bands for their bracelet-making or letting them poke around the cell phone and text family members.

But now, our kids want to jump on the Instagram bandwagon. They want to do what so many of their friends are doing, and if you’re anything like me, you’re confused.

  • Is Instagram really a big deal?
  • Should we just cave and let them on Instagram?
  • What does Instagram even do?
  • What should I know about kids and Instagram?
  • How should I support my child if he/she is already using Instagram?

And though I don’t have all of the answers, I have talked to friends and experts and done a considerable amount of research for the last few months.

After all, I’m hanging out on social media platforms a whole lot of the time.

And so finally, I think I have some ideas about how you can talk to your kids about Instagram.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • How to Talk to Your Kids About Instagram:

how to talk to kids about instagram 10 teachmama.com

First of all, here’s what you should know about Instagram, whether you’re on it or not:

Straight from the Instagram site:

Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures. Snap a photo with your mobile phone, then choose a filter to transform the image into a memory to keep around forever

What does it mean for not-so-techy parents:

Instagram is a way that people can share photos or short videos with anyone, at any time. They can make the photo fancy with a filter and a frame and share from their phone, iPad, or tablet; people can like the photo and comment on it, and unless they delete the photo themselves, it will live forever on the internet.

 

how to talk to kids about instagram 10 teachmama.com

 

how to talk to kids about instagram 10 teachmama.com

 

Here’s a quick how-to, an Instagram 101 in like five seconds:

1. download the app from the Google Play Store or iTunes (it’s free)

2. create an account

3. take a photo or video (either use the camera on your phone and then share it via Instagram or open the camera right on the Instagram app)

4. choose a filter (or not)

5. write a little something describing the photo or maybe tag someone in the photo

6. use a hashtag if you want other people to find your photo

7. share the photo!

how to talk to kids about instagram | teachmama.com

 

how to talk to kids about instagram | teachmama.com
Now, here are my answers to the questions I asked above: 

  • Is it a big deal? 
    • Yes. It’s a big deal because for many kids, this is the first time they’re ever putting content out into the world for the whole world to see.
  • Should we just cave and let them on Instagram?
    • Instagram Terms of Service says, like most social networks: You must be at least 13 years old to use the Service.
    • Though I admit that this summer I really came close to caving and letting my 10-year-old have an account, I have a husband who put his foot down with a firm NO! and some of my uber tech-savvy friends sang the same song.
    • But you read through this post and decide for yourself. Most certainly every child and every family is different.
  • What does Instagram even do?
    • Instagram lets users share photos and short videos with the world.  If a profile is public, anyone can see any of the photos or videos. And often kids take a lot of selfies and selfie videos.
  • What should I know?
    • You need to know that even if your child’s account is ‘private’ strangers are able to request to follow him or her. 
    • You need to know that your child can search anything on Instagram, and even harmless searches can turn up some pretty tricky photos.  Check out the examples below.

how to talk to kids about instagram | teachmama.com

how to talk to kids about instagram | teachmama.com

  • You need to know that often young users get crafty and clever with accounts.  Often kids change names and create ‘dummy’ profiles like [bob]is.my.bff or I_love_big_feet or cool.kids.of.blakems or you get the idea.  How will your child feel if he or she is not one of the bffs or cool kids or pretty girls or hot guys?  How will you feel if you find out your child has created one of these exclusive accounts?
  • You need to know that if your child’s profile is public, anyone can comment on it–and you have no control over comment moderation. That means that if some crazy person writes something crazy on your kid’s photo, it’s stuck there until the kid deletes the photo.  If your underage child reports another user for inappropriate content, then what?

 

how to talk to kids about instagram 6  teachmama.com

 

how to talk to kids about instagram 5  teachmama.com

  • You need to know that your child can monitor other users’ behavior.  And if your child’s profile is public, other people can monitor his or her behavior.  Again, with young users who are already vying for each other’s attention, this is something to think about.  All you need is one kid to follow a suspect account or start interacting with said suspect account for others to soon follow suit.

 

how to talk to kids about instagram 6  teachmama.com

  • You need to know that your child can add a photo map to his or her account. Honestly, maps or gps locators are never a good idea when it comes to social media, no matter who you are. Who really wants the world to know where he or she is 100% of the time?

 

how to talk to kids about instagram 6  teachmama.com

 

  •  How should I support my child if he/she is already using Instagram?
    • Monitor, monitor, monitor.
    • Talk, talk, talk.
    • Insist your child has a private profile.
    • Follow your child’s account and follow his or her friends’ accounts.
    • Follow your child’s friends’ parents’ accounts.
    • Approve your child’s followers.
    • Require all electronic devices to be ‘parked’ in a designated charging spot by a certain time each night.
    • Create a Family Media Agreement–decide upon some rules and regulations that best suit your child and your family and stick to them!

create a family media agreement | teachmama.com

 

 

This is by no means an exhaustive list of how-to’s. It’s just the beginning. And it will hopefully open up a dialogue between you and your children about Instagram and other social media sharing platforms.

And rather than screaming NO WAY and slamming the door on your child’s request to use Instagram (or any platform that you are not comfortable permitting), consider giving your child an alternative.

Say, I’m not comfortable with you using Instagram right now because you’re ten years old and Instagram Terms of Service require you to be 13 in order to use it. They set those rules for a reason, and we will follow them. Instead why don’t you try:

What works for you? 

Is your child on Instagram or another social media platform? 

How do you keep your child safe online, or what guidelines has your family found most effective? We’d love to hear it!

digital kids | teachmama.com

Want some more on digital literacy?  Check out our digital kids posts for more.

 

Or check out these other posts about kids & Instagram: 

how to get kids to talk about school: what every parent must know

how to get kids to talk about school: what every parent must know | teachmama.com

As a paid Quaker Classroom AmbassadorI am eager to share information about Quaker Up For Classrooms.   how to get kids to talk about school: what every parent must know School is underway for us, and what I’m realizing more and more is that it’s sometimes tough to get my kids to talk about school. As a parent, I’m curious. I want to know everything:

  • Who did they sat with at lunch?
  • Who did they play with at recess?
  • How do they like their tablemates?
  • What book did they start in Guided Reading?
  • Who hosted the morning tv show?

But it’s hard. The kids are tired at 3pm, they’re even more tired at 7pm, and the last thing they want to do is talk to boring old Mom about school. So I have to get creative–and I know I’m not the only one. Hopefully these tricks for getting kids to talk about school will help you get a little more info from your little loves about what goes on in their lives, 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. Here’s the skinny. . .

  • How to Get Kids to Talk About School:

The most important thing here is that we really have to read our own kids, not be too pushy, and try to let the conversations evolve naturally.  And we need to listen. Seriously. I know–not always easy. So I’ve found that with my three kids, I’ve tried three different approaches: 1. direct questions; 2. group questions; 3. distracted questions. how to get kids to talk about school direct questions  teachmama.com 1.  direct questions: Most often, numero uno–direct questions–are a complete and utter fail for me. Save for those rare occasions when the stars are aligned, the odds are rarely ever in my favor for this technique. I ask questions, and I get quick, abbreviated responses that hardly make sense.  Even with open-ended questions the kids don’t want to chat this way with me.

me: How was recess? (This must be a subject they’ll want to talk about! )

kid: Fine.

me: Whadja play?

kid: Lotsa stuff.

me: What was your favorite game?

kid: Everything.

me: Who’d ya play with most?

kid: Everyone.

me: Awesome.

Never fear. Numero dos and tres have yielded better results for me. how to get kids to talk about school group questions  teachmama.com 2. group questions: Group questions often work for us. They often work especially around the dinner table and when we’ve got an audience, even if that audience is Dad. Because really? Dad’s mucho awesome. He’s not hangin’ around the house as much as me, so he’s almost extra-special something. And if we mix things up a bit, they almost always work.

  • Speed answer: Go around the dinner table and everyone gives a quick, one or two word answer to the same question.
  • Ball toss: Everyone answers the same question, though not at the same time.  The speaker holds a ball. He or she tosses the ball to the next person, and that person answers. This one is great for after school, after snack, out in the back yard.
  • Hula hello: Give kids a hula hoop and they answer as many questions as they can while hula-hooping.
  • Question train: You start with one question and choose a person to answer. That person answers and asks another question to the next person. And so on and so on.

how to get kids to talk about school distracted questions  teachmama.com 3.  distracted questions: One of my dear friends suggested that chatting with tweens and teens is best conducted this way–while you’re both doing something.

  • Snack chat:  While everyone’s eating a snack and before homework starts, chat school.
  • Kitchen helpers: Having one kid help prepare dinner has been hugely helpful in opening the door to conversation about school. While kids are cutting veggies, mixing mac and cheese, or emptying the dishwasher, they often want to talk to pass the time.
  • Travel convo: When kids are held captive in the car and as you’re schlepping everyone from soccer and piano lessons and then back again, ask questions. Though often for me, my kids really want to zone out in the car, sometimes, they’re pretty chatty. Again, depends on the day.
  • Chore chats:  Many times I remember chatting with my mom while she (or I) was ironing or folding wash. Not sure why, but maybe there’s something there for moms and daughters.
  • Game gabble: Owen is a gamer, and he always has been. So often he’s opened up most to me or my husband during games of War, Battleship, Monopoly, or Rummy. Again, it’s the busy hands and relaxed atmosphere that may help.

how to talk to kids about school | teachmama.com

print it out: how to talk to kids about school 2014 teachmama.com

Now.  What should you ask? Though I’m no expert, from what I’ve heard and read, you should do a whole lot more listening than talking. We want our kids to know that we’re listening to what they say and that our ears are open. So put the cell phones down. Close the laptop. Let that iPad rest. And when you do say something, paraphrasing is key. It’s like putting money in the bank. When you paraphrase, you’re simply putting what your child just said into your own words. When you paraphrase, it lets your kiddos know that you’re listening. And sometimes when you ask questions that count–that get them thinking or get them interested, they’re more likely to answer. Consider asking: 

  • What book are you reading?
  • What was the best part of your lunch?
  • Who was absent from class today?
  • Who was on the morning announcements?
  • What did you play in PE?
  • Will you let me guess your favorite part of the morning/ afternoon/ day?
  • If your day was a movie, what would the title be?
  • What color was your day?
  • Which Olympic medal would you give today?
  • What do you hope is different tomorrow?

And really? Cross your fingers. But first, print out this pretty little cheat cheet: how to talk to kids about school 2014 teachmama.com . . . and have an awesome year!

Do you have any secrets that work for you? I’d love to hear them! Leave them in the comments! Check out the other two posts that will help make this year awesome: happy first day flowers for teachers, secretaries, or principal           easy ways to support teachers: back to school #quakerup | teachmama.com

fyi: Thank you to Quaker and AdoptaClassroom.org for creating this program. I am proud to be a Quaker Classroom Ambassador.  Quaker is providing the prizes for this program at no cost to me. This program is not administered or sponsored by Quaker or its affiliates, but solely by teach mama media, llc. 

shutterfly 40% off everything for labor day: teachmama fab find

ultimate healthy bundle | teachmama fab find

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

Shutterfly Labor Day 40% Off - 300x250
 

teach mama fab find

 

So this is a little different, I know, but I think you’ll dig it.

I’ve been blogging for a long time now. A long time.  Almost six years.  Yikes.

Along the way I’ve become privy to some really awesome, totally worth-your-time (and your dime) deals.  A lot of them are affiliate deals–meaning I share them, you buy them, and I get a teeny, tiny percentage of the sale, like a lot of the Amazon links you see on the site.

And though you might think it’s shady, it’s not. I only share things that I think are worth it–things that I like or that I talk about, and that I truly think your kids, your family, or you will dig.

I also am a part of a handful of affiliate organizations–groups that make these awesome deals so that bloggers can share them, companies get their products out, and blog readers can be winners.

So I’m going to try to share more of them.

That’s it.

I’ll try to do it with some regularity, but I can’t make any guarantees. All I know is that as the holidays approach, these deals start piling up.

So here we go. . .

My plan is to keep these short and sweet.  Because seriously? We’re all crazy busy.

  • Shutterfly 40% off Everything–Teachmama Fab Find:

Simply click below to grab this deal.

Shutterfly Labor Day 40% Off - 300x250

I’m thinking that with as many gorgeous beachy family photos as I’ve seen come across my facebook, instagram, and twitter feeds in the last few weeks, many of you have your holiday photos all ready.

So over Labor Day weekend, while your friends are out closing down their beach houses or lounging at the pool, take a minute to order your holiday cards and get 40% off of your order.

Or order a few canvases for your living room.

Or order a few framed photos for family members.

Or catch up on your family photo books.

Or a cool photo iPhone case. Or something.

Whatever you choose, 40% off everything at Shutterfly seems pretty good to me.   AND? If you’re new to Shutterfly, you can get 45% off. Bam

Here’s how:

1. Visit Shutterfly between now and 9/3/14

2. Shop.

3.  Use the code: LABORDAY40

New to Shutterfly?  Use the code NEWSURPRISE for 45% off of your order.

 

Shutterfly Labor Day 40% Off - 728x90

 

 

 

 

Enjoy! And seriously? How happy will you be to have part of your holiday shopping done by Labor Day? Serious win.

fyi: I am an affilliate partner of Shutterfly.

swim ribbon garland: what to do with summer swim ribbons

swim ribbon garland: what to do with summer swim ribbons

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

what to do with swim ribbons  teachmama.com.pngOur swim and dive season has been over now for two weeks, but we’ve done more post-season celebrating this year than ever before.

Usually, as soon as we wrap up the banquet, swim ribbons get shoved in a drawer, meet caps get put away, and trophies are given a home on the bedroom shelf.

And then we move quickly into part two of our summer: everything after swim and dive.

Swim and dive season comes and goes–just like that.  Fast and furious and then bam. Over.

But this year, we decided to carry on the celebration a little longer by parading the awesome throughout our house.

Instead of piling up those ribbons and finding them a home on a shelf or in a drawer, we created a gorgeous swim ribbon garland.

It’s beautiful. And it’s simple, and it’s the story of the kids’ swim and dive season.

Here’s the skinny. .  .

  • Swim Ribbon Garland–What to do with Summer Swim Ribbons: I do need to clarify something.

 

swim ribbon garland: what to do with summer swim ribbons

 

swim ribbon garland: what to do with summer swim ribbons

 

The Swim Ribbon Garland was not created to brag.

It was not created to be competitive or bratty or nasty.

It was created to celebrate our kids’ accomplishments throughout the season and to remind them that hard work pays off.

That’s it.

 

swim ribbon garland: what to do with summer swim ribbons

 

And though it was super-simple to make, it turned out really, really pretty.

And it’s been the focus of many conversations that are totally worth having:

  • Can you believe how much you improved over the season?
  • Remember how nervous you were for your first IM but how proud you felt after finishing?
  • This was the meet you surprised everyone–including you!–and came in first place!
  • That was the longest afternoon ever, but you worked hard and got through it!
  • Even though you disqualified in this event, you still shook everyone’s hand after the race.
  • [Another swimmer friend] beat you in this race by less than a second; I know you were disappointed to lose, but you never once acted like a sore loser. 

 

swim ribbon garland: what to do with summer swim ribbons

swim ribbon garland: what to do with summer swim ribbons

 

To make the swim ribbon garland, we simply grabbed a large needle and some embroidery thread (the kind we use to make friendship bracelets). The needle was large enough to fit the thread through but small enough to fit under the tiny top of the ribbons.

I asked Maddy, Owen, and Cora if they wanted their ribbons arranged in any particular way–by color, date, award, etc. Only Cora had an order preference, so she put hers in order, and I strung them from her direction.

 

swim ribbon garland: what to do with summer swim ribbons

swim ribbon garland: what to do with summer swim ribbons

 

Because Cora had significantly fewer ribbons this year compared to Maddy and Owen, we added some of her ribbons from last year. Not a big deal.

She knew where they were, she grabbed them, and we added them. Done and done.

Thinking about the possibilities for ‘sideline’ learning with the swim ribbon garland has me nearly nutty. We can talk about:

  • total number of first, second, third, etc. awards;
  • total number of awards;
  • which person has more of each color;
  • who has the most (and least) amount of (color, score, etc.);
  • total time in each event;
  • amount of time gained/ lost throughout season;
  • so many ideas!

 

And really? That’s it. Just a quickie, fun, no-sew way to remind your child of how special he is.

What do YOU do with your kids’ ribbons? Let us know! Happy sewing and stringing those ribbons!

 

 

fyi: affiliate links are used in this post

 

 

make a kid-friendly kitchen without a major renovation

make a kid-friendly kitchen without a major renovation teachmama.com.png

sponsored post

 

 

 

make a kid-friendly kitchen without a major renovation  teachmama.com.pngGrowing up, I always remember my mom saying that she always wanted her four girls to be comfortable in the kitchen.

She wanted us to bake, cook, learn, have fun, and take risks–and for as long as I can remember, that’s what we did. I always knew I wanted to do the same exact thing with my kids one day.

And though my kids have been cracking eggs and measuring ingredients and making messes in the kitchen since they were tiny, I think that’s only half the battle.

Kids not only need to have an open invitation to try things in the kitchen, they also need to feel comfortable in the kitchen. They need to know that the kitchen is theirs, too.

You don’t need to do a huge overhaul or massive, million-dollar renovation to make your kitchen kid-friendly. No way. Who has time for that?  Who has the money for that?

Instead, any family can make small changes that pack a powerful punch.

Here are five super-easy tips for making your kitchen kid-friendly. Easier than you think.

Your kids will thank you.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Make a Kid-Friendly Kitchen Without a Major Renovation: Of course children always, always, always need to be supervised in the kitchen no matter what they’re doing.

That goes without saying.

But they also need to know where to find things, be able to reach things, and know how to do things on their own so they can grow more confident and capable.

Take a look at our 5 tips for making a kid-friendly kitchen:

fyi: The teachmama.com youtube channel is all about sharing quick teaching tips, reading strategies, and parenting tricks with parents and caregivers.

It’s about empowering parents to be the best teachers they can be for their children. Subscribe here so you don’t miss a thing!

make a kid-friendly kitchen | teachmama.com

make a kid-friendly kitchen | teachmama.com

Teaching kids how to use the microwave and other appliances safely is a must. And seriously, by looking a little more closely at what you already have, you may be surprised at how things can function.

I had no idea that our microwave had automatic melting options for butter or chocolate until I stepped back and helped Cora one afternoon.

kid friendly kitchen | teachmama.com

kid friendly kitchen | teachmama.com

kid friendly kitchen | teachmama.com

It’s not always easy to let go, but once you let your kids take the lead, it’s amazing where they will take you.

Maddy stumbled upon a recipe for baked tofu bites, which she decided she wanted to make. We never eat tofu. We (gasp!) weren’t even 100% sure what tofu was or where it was located in the grocery store.

But we found it, she made it, and we loved it.

It was a learning experience for the whole family–and I’m not sure Maddy would have taken the risk if she wasn’t so comfortable in our kitchen.

Want to read a little bit more about kids in the kitchen?

Click on the photos below. . . 

kids-who-can-rock-it-in-the-kitchen-teachmama.com-cover-.png

get your kids to try new foods

fyi: This is a sponsored post, written as part of the Whirlpool Ambassador program. As always, opinions and ideas are my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and parent and my three little ones who are learning to really ‘rock it’ in the kitchen.  

Want to know more about the appliances we have in our kitchen? We have (and love!) the  Whirlpool® 28 cu. ft. 4-Door Refrigerator, the Whirlpool Gold Series Dishwasher with PowerScour option, theMicrowave Hood Combination with AccuPop Cycle, and the Double Oven Gas Range with Convection Cooking. True. Love. Forever with these. Seriously TLF.