what to do when your kid just doesn’t ‘get it’

what to do when your kid just doesn't 'get it' | question from reader and answered by @teachmama

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I admit that I am the absolute worst with emails. The worst.when your kid just doesn't get it | teachmama.com

But I’m trying to be better.

I’ve got thousands of emails just sitting there in my inbox, and I rarely respond because I’m always busy.

And I’m so far behind that I don’t even want to go there because there’s no end in sight.

But lately I have been tackling a handful of emails each week. And it makes me feel so much better to be able to connect in this way to the readers who have become my good friends over time.

Today, one email stuck out.

And I spent a good bit of time answering, and then I felt like I had answered it before, so I looked back and not one, not two, but three other people have written to me in the past few weeks about their kids struggling with reading for unknown reasons.

So I thought I’d share my response. (And the gal who emailed said it was totally cool to do so.)

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • What to Do When Your Kid Just Doesn’t Get It:

note from reader

Subject : Struggling readers

Message : So…..what do you do when your kid just doesn’t get it? My [son] is in 3rd grade and he’s super depressed because he’s in the lowest reading group (haven’t confirmed that with the teacher, but kids know, don’t they? And given who else he says is in his group, I know, too.) and he doesn’t get to do the pull-out GT activities that his friends do.

His reading is okay, but when it comes to spelling, it’s terrible–large letters, sloppy, no punctuation or capitalization, many misspelled words, can’t get the letters on the page.

We’ve had him tested and the doc says it’s phonological processing. He doesn’t qualify for an IEP or 504 and the teachers last year dismissed the doc’s findings all together. He’s been doing a reading tutoring program for the past year. But feeling really frustrated with the school and teachers. Any advice?

**************

my response

Oh, [friend]. I’m sorry he’s struggling. It’s so hard–for you and for him. Believe me, I get it. Thank you for reaching out.

My advice is this:
1. meet with the teacher. talk to him/her about your concerns, and ask what you can do at home. Maybe she’ll give you some insight into strategies that have worked for other students or hand you some resources that could be helpful.

when kids don't get it school  teachmama.com

2. read with him every night. Seriously. You read out loud to him. No pressure for him to read to you. Just get him back into being excited about reading, even if that means you have to pry open your tired eyes at 8pm to read to him with energy and excitement (said from the mom who FELL ASLEEP last night while Cora was reading her book out loud to me before bed and still feels guilty about it today). Try Harry Potter. IT ROCKS. OR try silly Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Or try Magic Treehouse to start with. . . Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is SO GOOD and great for read alouds.

3. play on his interests. He likes (gag!) Pokemon? Find Pokemon books and READ them! He loves Minecraft? There are great Minecraft books on the market now (finally!), and there are books on everything from Skylanders to Star Wars to LEGOS to chess. Do some research. Surround him w/ reading material about stuff he totally digs. Magazines totally count. Get him a subscription to a magazine for the holidays–get everyone a subscription to their favorite magazine. Be excited when it comes in the mail even if you have to fake it. Dance up to the door w/ it and then make it a treat to read it. He’ll catch on. I promise.

when kids don't get it interests  teachmama.com

4. talk about reading. Not directly, in a super boring way, but do it casually. Talk about the books you’re reading for pleasure (start doing it if you’re not already!); talk about what you read in the newspaper; talk about books he’s reading in Guided Reading and what the media teacher read to him on media day. Just a simple, ‘Hey listen to this!’ . . . or ‘Can you believe that. .. . ‘ is great. The Washington Post Kids Post is super for finding daily bits of fun stuff for kids to read. Or find the National Geographic Kids app– strange and amazing facts? something like that–my kids LOVE it.

5. make reading a family affair. Instead of plopping on a movie on Sunday afternoon or instead of letting the kids zone out in front of electronics, have a family reading date. Pop popcorn, make hot chocolate, and make a fire. Everyone grabs a book and reads in the living room–even if it’s only an hour. Then kind of talk about what you were reading. Or if that’s too hard, you and your partner (or your mom/ dad if they’re close) or sister or friend take turns reading children’s books to the kids. Each kid picks two, and you read them aloud like a silly little old-school read aloud during preschool circle time. Do it. They’ll love it.

when kids don't get it consistent  teachmama.com

Hope this helps. I would love to hear how it goes, and just know this: you are not alone. I should probably even just post this whole answer as a blog post, because I’m asked it more often than you know. . . Hmmmm. Maybe?

Oh, and don’t forget this: hang in there and KEEP UP THE ROUTINE. I’m not yelling at you, I’m just keeping it all caps because it’s that important. It won’t make a bleep of a difference if you do this for one week or one day. Set small goals: reading aloud at night for two weeks. Then four weeks. It will make a difference–but the secret is in the consistency.

You got this. And so does he.

*hugs!* and thank you for reading.

**************

What do you think? How would you have answered her question?
Do let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page!
Do you have a question that’s literacy related? I’m happy to give it a stab if you want to hit me with an email: amy@teachmama.com
If I can’t answer it, I’ll find someone who can!

 

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holiday baking with kids: eBook

holiday baking ebook for kids teachmama.com

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holiday baking ebook for kids teachmama.com

 

This time last year I was scrambling around doing what I could to finish our holiday baking with kids eBook in time for the actual holidays. 

This year? Done and done.

And ready for you to use at Thanksgiving! Woo-hooooo.

And though it’s called ‘Holiday Baking with Kids’ I can’t tell you how many times through the year Maddy, Owen, Cora, or I reached for the book so that we could make our favorite muffins, cookies, and sweet treats.

A lot.

So grab it while it’s hot.

What better way of kicking off this exciting and joyous, sweet-filled season than by bringing our kids into the kitchen for some serious holiday baking?

The Holiday Baking with Kids eBook is here to save the day.

holiday baking with kids

 

Here’s the skinny. . .

Really. It’s pretty cool.

  • 15 kid-friendly recipes.  Fifteen.  Many never before shared on teachmama.com.

holiday baking with kids eBook teachmama.com

teachmama holiday baking with kids ebook

  • Favorites.  Like Kiss Cookies and Chocolate Chip and Sugar Cookies.  And Iced Pumpkin Spice Cookies and Death by Chocolate and Lemon Squares.  And? Our Christmas Morning Ugly Breakfast recipe.

holiday baking with kids ebook from teachmama

  • Made kid-friendly with large, clear font.  Created with attention to what early readers need as they learn and expand their reading skills, the font is large so kids can read it even the recipe book is on the counter and they are standing on a stool.

holiday baking with kids ebook ingredients

teachmama holiday baking with kids ebook

  • Layout that works.  Kid-tested for the last five years, this layout really works.

Recipe step-by-step instructions are large and are accompanied by a relevant photo to clarify instructions.  Kids can check off ingredients as they gather them, and if the paper is in a plastic sheet protector, a crayon or dry erase marker will easily wipe clean when finished.  Photos for every ingredient and recipe step.

holiday baking with kids ebook ingredients

  • Consistent format. Actions are in bold. Ingredients are underlined. Photos for almost everything.  The format is consistent. Kids especially thrive on consistency.

See? I’m looking out for you. We’re in this together. I got your back. Always.

holiday baking with kids eBook teachmama.com

teachmama holiday baking with kids ebook

Sure, it’s hard when kids are involved sometimes because the mess may be bigger, or we may be crunched for time, or we may just want to enjoy some peace while kids are watching tv and we can prepare dinner, but as parents, we must jump on these prime opportunities for learning and fun with our kids.

holilday baking with kids ebook print - 1

 

holilday baking with kids ebook print - 2

 

holilday baking with kids ebook print - 3

 

holilday baking with kids ebook print - 4

teachmama holiday baking with kids ebook

Ready? Let’s do it.

My friends, the Holiday Baking with Kids eBook is a sweet $4.25 through November 2014.  Then it’s all the way back up to $8.50.

You can print it as many times as you need, so really, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Mostly because my readers are rockstar and always read their email from me first thing. So I wanted to offer you guys a little gift.

The Holiday Baking with Kids eBook is quite the holiday deal.  Buy it now for only $7.97.

HUGE and happy thanks to my awesome mama for always inviting us into the kitchen with her when we were little. I would never be so welcoming into my own kitchen if I hadn’t learned from her as an excellent example.  Big *hugs!* to you, Mom!  Love you!

What about you?  How do you feel about kids in the kitchen?  Is there a favorite recipe I need to add to the next one? Let me know!

holiday baking with kids eBook on teachmama.com
http://holidaybakingwithkids

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ONE girls & women: what you should know and why you should care

aya summit teachmama.com

ONE girls & women: what you should know and why you should careI had the great opportunity two weeks ago to spend time with some of my favorite people in the world—women who are doers, thinkers, change-makers—at the AYA Summit.

But between Halloween (yay!) and class parties (woot!) and Blogalicious Weekend (ya-hooo!) and parent-teacher conferences (woah!), it has been really hard to find the time to process all I’ve learned.

I’ve tried to wrap my head around how all that I’ve learned can impact my family and you, my awesome readers.

I’m pretty certain that we’re all in the same boat: we’re busy in the day-to-day grind of kid-wrangling, working, managing a household, and trying to keep our sanity.

And everything else above and beyond is kind of squished in where we can fit it.

But what I’m realizing more and more as I get older is that everything we do–from how we spend our free time, to the way we carry ourselves in conversations, to the work we do each day–should be something that we can be proud of.

Not always easy. But it’s about living consciously. Living carefully. And always looking out for the greater good.

I’m thrilled to share one way that we can all do this: ONE Girls & Women.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • ONE Girls & Women—What You Should Know and Why You Should Care:

ONE girls & women: what you should know and why you should care

What is the AYA Summit? What is ONE? What is ONE Girls & Women? Why am I even writing about this? 

Let me back up a bit.  The AYA is a West African fern known for its great resiliency.  The AYA Summit was named so because from start to finish we heard from and learned about some really resilient women:

  • women who have beat the odds
  • women who have pressed buttons.
  • women who worked hard.
  • women who made change.

ONE girls & women: what you should know and why you should care

 

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ONE is an organization co-founded by Bono with the sole goal of empowering people to use their voices.

It stresses the power of one–meaning you.

ONE is an international campaigning and advocacy organization of more than 6 million people around the world taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.

ONE girls & women: what you should know and why you should care

pictured here: (top) Patricia Amira, Clemantine Wamariya; (middle) Holly Gordon, Marquesha Babers; (bottom) Danai Gurira, Clemantine Wamariya

ONE a non-partisan organization.  And they don’t want your money.

They want your voice.

And recently ONE formed ONE Girls & Women.  And I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

From here on out, as part of the ONE Girls & Women team, I will share simple but meaningful ways that you—the busy mom, sister, and friend that you are–can make a difference. You.  And me.

ONE girls & women: what you should know and why you should care

pictured here: Paul Zeitz (US Dept of State), Rye Barcott (Carolina for Kibera), Emily McKhann (The Motherhood)

ONE girls & women: what you should know and why you should care

pictured here: Patricia Amira, Cindy McCain, Kristen Howerton

Because we all can make a difference, no matter if we have minutes, five hours, five days, five years, or five decades to dedicate to the cause.

As women, we have a responsibility to celebrate, support, and lift our sisters, no matter where they may be. And that’s what I plan to do.

I didn’t even really know that girls and women are disproportionately affected by extreme poverty. But that if we invest–seriously invest–in girls and women that it’s one way to combat poverty and help them work toward a better life.

ONE girls & women: what you should know and why you should care

the floor of Google DC Headquarters: a map

ONE girls & women: what you should know and why you should care

here I am with my sweet friend, the amazing Amy Graff

Just a head’s up.

Here we go.

One thing you can do?

Join me.

Join ONE Girls & Women simply by filling out the form here: ONE Girls & Women

ONE girls & women: what you should know and why you should care

And when you do, you’ll have the chance to join their Mobile Action Team. Check that box.

I actually love this piece because every so often–not too often mind you–but you’ll get a text sharing how you can make a difference. Just by texting. Or tweeting. Or calling the President of the United States’ office.

Seriously.

Since I’ve joined, I’ve called the President’s office twice asking him to support funding for GAVI and the work they are doing to provide vaccines to 300 million children by 2015.

I called the President twice. Twice. Once while I was assembling things for Halloween class parties and another time while I was standing in line at the grocery store. It literally takes two minutes.

But I used my voice.

one girls & women And so can you.

Here.  We.  Go.

 

Are you familiar with ONE Girls & Women? ONE?

Start by following them: 

What is your favorite organization to support and how do you do it? Checks? Volunteering? Donations? I’d love to know!

thankful door: reminding our kids to be grateful every day

thankful door: reminding our kids to be grateful every day | teachmama.com

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thankful door: reminding our kids to be grateful every dayEvery year around this time, when the holiday catalogs start rolling in and fancy white lights and gold ribbons start popping up on our streetlights, my kids get a little starry-eyed.

I think we all do.

But like many kids their age, mine are thinking about what they want and what color they must have and how many they hope to find under the Christmas tree.

So it’s important for us to always do a little bit of reflecting and thinking about what we already have and how grateful we should be for it all.  Really. We all need reminders.

It’s easy.

And though it’s not perfect, our thankful door helps.

At least a little.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Thankful Door–Reminding Our Kids to be Thankful Every Day:

thankful door: reminding our kids to be grateful every day | teachmama.com

thankful door: reminding our kids to be grateful every day | teachmama.com

 

The way you do this can, and should, vary according to the size constraints of your home and what will work for your kids.  But the goal is to find some central location and run with it.

Use a door. Use a wall. Use placemats or leaves or your refrigerator.

This year, we kept it simple.

thankful door: reminding our kids to be grateful every day | teachmama.com

thankful door: reminding our kids to be grateful every day | teachmama.com

We used some simple red letter cut-outs for the words ‘thank you for. . . .’ and a poster board and some orange construction paper as a background.  

Cute turkey notepads and pumpkin notepads were perfect for writing down the things that we were thankful for.

thankful door: reminding our kids to be grateful every day | teachmama.com

 

It’s a work in progress, and we’re hoping that by the end of the month, our door will be filled with all of the things that our family is thankful for.

To begin, this weekend, Cora and I started with a few basics: God, our family, our pets, clothes and food, and our home.  We added items, we chatted, and we laughed when we wrote ‘Brady’ and he walked over to the door and stared at his name. He really did.

He is so smart.

thankful door: reminding our kids to be grateful every day | teachmama.com

thankful door: reminding our kids to be grateful every day | teachmama.com

 

I always appreciate seeing how the things that we are thankful for change year to year and even day to day.

After bouts of rainy weather, we’re happy for sun; after cold and windy days, we’re happy for warm coats.

I will do this as long as I can and as long as the kids are in the house with us. It’s a great reminder for every one of us as we walk out of our door to check our moods and to say a quick prayer of thanks for all we have.

It doesn’t matter if you read this today or two weeks from now–what matters is that somewhere, sometime during this busy month you take time to rally with your kids and give thanks for all you have.

Here are two quickie ideas of ways we’ve done this in the past:

our thankful tree | teachmama.com

 

give thanks graffiti door | teachmama.com

 

What works for your family? I’d love to hear how you guys remember to give and be grateful during the fall!

 

 

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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.

get kids to read: Kindle eBooks for reluctant readers

get kids to read | kindle ebooks for reluctant readers teachmama.com

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get kids to read | kindle for reluctant readers teachmama.com

These days, with school in full swing and cool ‘big guy’ neighbors across the street and a travel soccer team to keep him busy, my boy isn’t that big a fan of reading.

He’s into Pokemon (ugh). He’s wicked smart on Words With Friends.  And he spends a good amount of his free time thinking about how he can eke time out of his Screen Time Cards for Minecraft and AnimalJam.

Honestly, he’s one of the coolest kids I know. And lately, he just hasn’t been digging reading.

I get it. Often changes of schedules and shifts in season mean that my kids’ interests will ebb and flow, but Owen hasn’t deliberately reached for books for quite a few weeks.

It makes me a bit nervous, though, knowing that reading habits often change when kids hit middle school. A few short years, and he’s there.

One thing that’s helped a bit with Owen’s  little reading ‘dry spell’ is giving him a chance to read books digitally. eBooks.

It’s one way we get our kids to read–and really enjoy reading. Kindle eBooks.

And I truly think that in this day and age, a healthy mix of digital and traditional books is quite the norm–or it really should be–if we want our kids to grow as readers in the digital age.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Get Kids to Read–Kindle eBooks for Reluctant Readers:

Owen’s not the only one who is game for reading books on our Kindle.

get kids to read: Kindle eBooks for reluctant readers | teachmama.com

get kids to read: Kindle eBooks for reluctant readers

 

Maddy and Cora love it, too, so we often have to resort to figuring out whose day it is so that there’s no major battle.

I think there’s something about the simple holding of the Kindle device that I think my kids love. They love how light it is, how sleek it is, and how easy it is to navigate.

For reluctant readers, especially, Kindle eBooks are great for:

  • ease of use. Kids can find books in seconds.
  • organization.  My kids each have their own little collections.
  • convenience.  They can pick up where they last left off without worrying about finding a lost bookmark.  They can touch the corner of a page, and the bookmark is there–even able to sync to Kindle apps on all of their devices.
  • focus. Especially with chapter books, there’s not a whole lot of distracting fluff or add-ons in Kindle eBooks.
  • quality. Kids can long touch a word, and its definition appears along with the Wikipedia definition and translation option. I like this feature.

get kids to read: Kindle eBooks for reluctant readers

get kids to read: Kindle eBooks for reluctant readers

Kindle eBooks are also great for:

  • skill-building.  Long touch a word, and kids can highlight or make notes about a word or passage. Upon finishing a book or chapter, they can look back at all of the notes they made and share them via email.
  • increased comprehension.  Many books have the option of adding professional narration to the text which helps emerging and struggling readers better understand what fluent reading should sound like.
  • online safety.  The Parental Controls on Kindles are super, and the Kindle FreeTime piece is a huge bonus.  With Kindle FreeTime, I can assign a separate user for each of my kids, put books on their shelf, and make sure that when they’re in bed reading at night, that’s really what they’re doing.
  • variety. I’m a huge fan of the Kindle Unlimited which gives you a ton of free books each month. For a small fee (cheaper if you’re a member of Amazon Prime), you can score a boatload of books for every member of the family. We’ve had it for a month now, and we’ve really been happy with it.

get kids to read: Kindle eBooks for reluctant readers

 

The bottom line is that kids need a balance. They need a healthy combination of print and digital books to keep them interested and keep them savvy with both mediums.  But if a kid’s balking when it comes to reading and needs a kick-start, Kindle eBooks can do it.

As Junko Yokota and William H. Teale state, in their May 2014 article in The Reading Teacher:

Let us be clear from the start that we believe that both print and digital picture books should play central roles in early childhood literacy education.   The issue
in this instance is not one versus the other, but what works well for achieving which ends in particular situations or for particular lessons.

Junko, Yokota & William H., Teale (2014). Picture Books and the Digital WorldEducators Making Informed Choices. The Reading Teeacher, 67(8), 577–585. doi: 10.1002/trtr.1262

The article goes on to explain how important it is to choose quality eBooks but how often the ‘extras’ –music, supplementary features, add-ons, etc.–upset the integrity of the story.  It was an interesting read. Though my kids are now more reading chapter books on the Kindle and are past picture books on the devices, I did like what the authors had to say.

What’s your experience with Kindle eBooks? Have they been helpful in getting your kids reading and, more importantly, wanting to read?

Let me know–I’d love to hear it!

 

 

fyi: Staples sent our family a Kindle to help in the writing of this post, but as always, opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and parent.  Visit Staples.com for more on the Kindle. 

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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: 

nighttime reading with elementary schoolers: make it a date

nighttime reading with elementary schoolers teachmama.com

We’re back in business. nighttime reading with elementary schoolers | teachmama.com

School’s in session, and we’re all slowly but surely trying our best to adjust to our new fall schedules.

And we’re tired.

I mean it. Tired.  Kids are tired. Parents are tired. Everyone’s tired.

I know it will get easier, but man.

There’s nothing like those first few Friday afternoons of the school year, especially a Friday after a five-day week.

It’s literally all I can do to keep my kids composed from school to home.  They’re beat. They’ll cry at the drop of a hat, and they’re quick to argue, pick, and prod.

So especially because it’s a new school year and we’re all picking up new routines and schedules, it’s uber-important for us to sit down with our kids and read with them before bed. 

Really. No matter how old our kids are. Even if they’re in elementary school or middle school.

If they want to read with us, we should be game for it.

Make it a date.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Nighttime Reading with Elementary Schoolers–Make it a Date:

Put a reading schedule on the calendar in ink, rotating the days you read with each kiddo. Or read together. Or do it according to books. Read one book with one kid and while you do so, the others can read silently in their rooms.

I know very few of us have kids the same age, with the same interests, who want to read the same books.

You’ll figure it out.

Bottom line is that a lot can go down during bedtime reading, so it’s way too important to give up.

Kids want to hang with us. They most often think we’re pretty cool. So that guaranteed time at night is a super time for them to open up about school, friends, concerns, and dreams.

 

3 Reasons to Read with Your Elementary Schooler Every Night:

nighttime reading with elementary schoolers | teachmama.com

*****************

Bedtime Reading Strategies: birth to independent reading:

bedtime reading strategies | scholastic

Not sure where to begin? What books to read with your crew?

No fear. Check out Maggie McGuire’s Top 100 Books that Parents Love to Read to their Kids as a start.

It can be anything. The most important thing is that you’re reading. With your littles. No matter their age.

 

What’s your favorite bedtime read? I’d love to hear it! Share it in the comments!

Cheers, and happy reading during this incredibly exciting journey!