how to have a family meeting: what works for us

how to have a family meeting: what works for us

how to have a family meeting: what works for us

 

Oh, friends.

How things change as our kids get older, right?

After years of doing what we can to give our kids choices, listening to them, doing all we can but ultimately having the final say–our kids have expressed to us that they want more of a voice in our family.

I get it.

So we’ve been having Family Meetings.

We have only recently begun to have regular Family Meetings, and though they are not perfect, I do think they help.’

We’re still learning. Aren’t we all?

Here’s the skinny. . .

How to Have a Family Meeting–What Works for Us: 

It’s been simple.

I created a pretty basic Family Meeting Sheet.

And any time anyone wants to call a Family Meeting, he or she may do so.

The first time we held one, I clipped the Family Meeting sheet onto a clip board, and I set it on the table.

And as the kids came and went through the day, they filled it out.

By the time the meeting rolled around, everyone was ready–and curious.

how to have a family meeting: what works for us

how to have a family meeting: what works for us

We said,

Okay, guys. So you’ve asked for more say in our family, so here we are. We’re here to work out the kinks and hopefully make things move more smoothly around here.

There are a few ground rules: 

  • Everyone listens.
  • Everyone speaks.
  • Everyone acts respectfully, no matter what.

In Lord of the Flies style, anyone who spoke held an object–I think ours was a stuffed Mario or Yoshi. That way, there was no interrupting and only listening.

And really? From that point on, we talked through the agenda–what my husband and I planned and what the kids added–and we worked out the kinks.

 

family meeting notice blank

family meeting notice blank | teachmama.com

Here’s a BLANK Family Meeting sheet if you’d like to download it as a pdf and use it as your own: family meeting notice blank | teachmama.com

(Please, if you choose to share it–and we hope you do!–please share this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!)

 

family meeting notice 2

family meeting notice OURS | teachmama.com

Here’s our Family Meeting sheet if you’d like to download it as a pdf and use it as your own: family meeting notice OURS | teachmama.com

(Please, if you choose to share it–and we hope you do!–please share this post instead of the attachment page. Thank you!)

how to have a family meeting  teachmama.com

 

What does your family do? Do you hold regular Family Meetings? I’d love to hear it!

What has worked? What hasn’t?

read across america day EVERY day of the year

celebrate read across america every day | teachmama.com

This post was originally published on March 1, 2013 but we’re republishing because it’s that important. 

 

celebrate read across america every day | teachmama.com

 

It’s Read Across America Day!  Only something that everyone’s been talking about for days and days and days and days now, but don’t worry if you’re already in your pj’s or missed the boat altogether.

Don’t worry if this is the very first time you’re hearing about it and now you feel like  you’re the only kid not invited to the party. TO-tally not so!  Everyone’s invited to this bash–no matter who you are, where you are, or what you read.

Read Across America Day is a simply the day that marks the birthday of Dr. Seuss.  Read Across America Day has kids all over the country reading Seuss, rhyming, watching Cat in the Hat and The Lorax videos, and wearing a whole lot of red and white stripes to school.  And Read Across America Day kicks off THE reading month: March.read across america day every day

But I really think that Read Across America Day–and the whole hoopla of reading-excitement that follows through most of March–should be carried on every day.

In my opinion, reading can–and should–have a place in everyone’s house on every day of the year. That’s right. Every. Single. Day.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Read Across America Day EVERY Day of the Year: You got it.

Check it out–

 

In this quickie video I’m sharing 3 ways that families everywhere can bring home the Read Across America excitement any day they choose.

I touch on three easy things any parent can do to make their home a literate environment, to raise word-conscious kids, and to make books a constant conversation.

 

What am I missing? What else could–and should–parents do to bring Read Across America home all year long?  Let me know in the comments section, please!

 

fyi: want to check out the books I mention in the vlog?

Some affiliate links are used. Many thanks for considering!

something has to change and it must start here–with you and with me

if we want change to happen it must start here | teachmama.com

 

I rarely write posts like this.  And this one took me much longer than I’d like to admit.

But yesterday I realized something. Something big.

It’s this: if I want change to happen, it has to start here.

I’m a mother of three kids, 10, 9, and 7 years old, and if I want change to happen, it must. Start. Here.

With me.

With my family.

Because I know that though I am only one person, my voice makes a difference.

And so does yours.

Yes, you.  No matter whether you are sitting there reading this your running car in the driveway while your baby sleeps in the back, or whether you are reading this at the counter when you should be cleaning up after dinner, it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter if you’re reading this at your desk during your lunch break or standing at the copy machine after your students leave the building. It doesn’t matter if you’re reading this in line at the grocery store or in line at your kids’ pick-up.

It doesn’t matter if you’re reading this on the treadmill or at the park or at work or at a lunch with your girlfriends. It doesn’t matter if you work outside the home or you work inside the home.

It doesn’t matter if you work or don’t work. It doesn’t matter if you have kids or if you don’t have kids, whether you’re married or not married.

It doesn’t matter if you’re fat or skinny, tall or short, gay or straight, Muslim or Christian or atheist or Jewish.

It doesn’t matter if you breastfed or bottle fed your kids, whether you stick with organics or couldn’t care less.

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you are reading this.

And if you are reading this, then know this: you have a voice. And it’s time to use it.

Because if we don’t start using our voices to let others know that prejudice is not okay, that it’s not acceptable, and that it’s not to be tolerated, unacceptable things like this will continue to happen:

Seven white girls are accompanied by seven black men at a formal school dance.

And a school administrator retweeted this tweet:  @OrNahhTweets: Every white girls’ father’s worst nightmare Or Nah?

A school administrator. Retweeted. That. Tweet.

this must end

 

And this?

Check out these photos on Politicus Sports, in an articled titled White Students at St. Louis High School Wear Blackface During Football Game, by Justin Baragona:

blackface-sullivan-480x319-1

blackface-sullivan-2-480x319

 photos courtesy of http://sports.politicususa.com/ . . . please read the entire article at Sports.PoliticusUsa.com

 A powderpuff football team. Wearing blackface. At a school event. November of 2014.

 

Do these things make you feel ill? They should.

I’m not here to debate either story or situation; I’m not here to discuss details of any of the photos.  Because if it’s not these photos, it’s something else. You know it as well as I do.

What I’m here to say is that I’m tired of it.

I’m tired of what I’m seeing. I’m tired of what I’m hearing. I’m tired of what is happening, here, in our country and around the world, in 2014.

And you should be, too.

If we want change to happen, it must start here.

With you. And with me.

And though it’s easy to tsk, shake your head, and ‘like’ someone’s angry comment when they share this kind of thing on facebook, that’s not enough anymore. Because you know what? It’s not working.

We need to do more.

Clearly we need to do more if acts of prejudice like this are still occurring in and around schools in 2014. Someone, somewhere is not getting a pretty important message.

So I’m presenting a challenge to you, and I’m taking it on myself. And I’m hoping–actually, I’m praying–that it begins to make a difference.

It’ll take all of us. And goodness knows we’ll need a little luck.

change to happen | teachmama.com

But this is the thing: if we want change to happen, it must start here.

With you. And with me.

Here’s what we need to do and here’s how we can use our voice:

1. Speak up.  In any way you are able. It doesn’t matter how. Just speak up.

Speaking up may look different to all of us, depending on where we are and where we’re coming from.

And I know it’s not easy. But it’s time we start to use our voice, even if it begins with a whisper.

  • Comment on a friend’s facebook status if he or she shares an article or a link about something that feels unjust.
  • Share your own findings–articles or facts or statements that express racial prejudice or injustice–via twitter or facebook or pinterest.
  • Shake your head ‘no’ and walk away when a friend or colleague starts to share his or her prejudiced ideas. Make it clear that you do not share his or her opinions.
  • Excuse yourself from conversations where prejudiced ideas or topics are being discussed. Explain that you do not share the same feelings and that you are not comfortable with the direction the conversation is going.
  • Don’t allow racial jokes in or around your home. If neighbors, extended family, or colleagues joke this way, politely ask them to stop.

This is the thing: if we want change to happen, it must start here.

With you. And with me.

And so we will also. . .

2.Talk about tough topics. With your friends, with your kids, with your spouse.

There’s plenty of material out there, my friends.

Start with our history books.  Watch today’s news.

Talk about slavery.  But talk about how far we all have come to abolish it and to bring our country to a better place. Talk about the awful and the ugly, but talk about the bravery. Talk about power in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words. Talk about the beauty of people taking risks to support their brothers and sisters, no matter the color of their skin.

Talk about why things like the powderpuff team wearing blackface is not okay and how hurtful and careless and demeaning it is.

Talk about what’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri, and talk about the verdict once it’s shared.

Need a starting point? Black History Month Resources for Families last year. If it’s too overwhelming, just pick up Unspoken, by Henry Cole. It’s a wordless picture book about a little farm girl and a little boy, a runaway slave.  And though it doesn’t answer all questions, it can begin the dialogue for you and your children about this period in our nation’s history and how things are different today.

Talk about race with your friends. Openly and honestly. Talk about what’s happening in the news and how they feel about it. We must have the dialogue, my friends. We must open up the conversation.

And if you’re not completely comfortable with it, it’s okay.  Just be honest. Explain how you’re feeling, and as long as you’re honest and you’re coming from a peaceful place, you will be fine.

Remember that this is the thing: if we want change to happen, it must start here.

With you. And with me.

We will also come together and . . .

3. Celebrate differences.  Celebrate the fact that your children go to school with tons of different people, from all walks of life, with unique hair, skin, and eye colors.   Talk about how cool it is that some kids are preparing for their First Communions while others go to Hebrew school.  Talk about why some of them don’t celebrate their birthdays, while others get to go to Disney World each year for theirs.

Talk about how glasses help Bella see better in the same way that extra reading lessons help Alex read better.

Talk about why some kids buy lunch every day or eat breakfast at school while others bring lunch each day.

Talk about the fact that even though Carly zips through her Mad Minutes in no time flat, Mark can whistle like nobody’s business, and Maddy can do a back handspring on her own.  Lauren can recite an entire poem by heart, and Vincent can write with both hands. Everyone has different strengths; one is not better than another. They’re just different.

Talk about the fact that yes, Nina has a hard time sitting still in class, but she still deserves to learn at your school with your talented teachers.

Talk about the fact that Cole might need the teacher’s help more than the other students, but maybe that’s because his mom was busy working two jobs to put food on the table so she wasn’t able to help him with his ABCs before he got to Kindergarten.

Discuss the fact that some kids’ parents are divorced, some have two moms (or dads), some have one parent, and some are being raised by grandparents. Talk about why some kids live in a one-room apartment while others could land a small plane in their back yards, why some kids’ parents are able to help out in the classroom while others cannot.

Talk about how hard it must be for some families to attend Math Night–because English is not their first language–but how awesome it is that they came anyway. Talk about why your school must have an International Night every single year, even if it’s a homogeneous mix of students.  Make your kids read every single display there and walk around with them, talking about what you see and conversing with each family.

Fill your house with books that celebrate diversity. Read them. Share them. Read them again. Share them again.

Do all of this because really, if we want change to happen, it must start here.

With you. And with me.

Step back a bit, my friends, and . . .

4. Listen to what you say.  I mean really, truly listen to what you say.

  • Are you using derogatory racial terms but don’t even realize it? Think.  Really think hard.
  • Do you use the terms ‘gay’, ‘retarded’ or ‘ghetto’ to describe negative situations or events?
  • Are you singing songs that convey racial–or gender or any type–of stereotypes?
  • Do the programs or games in your home support stereotypes?
  • Do you express prejudice in what you say or do? In the way you interact with those around you?
  • Are you perpetuating the cycle of gossip and toxicity by contributing to negative conversations with friends and colleagues?
  • Do you welcome new people or groups to your clubs and organizations?
  • How do you respond to new ideas, to change, to revisiting old systems and processes?
  • Do you openly proclaim your faith but act in ways that are contrary to those beliefs?
  • Do your expectations for your children vary? Do you demand more from one and less from another?  Are those expectations just?
  • Do you treat your students, colleagues, or friends differently based on their race or gender? 

Just think about it. Be aware, and be brave.

Remember, if we want change to happen, it must start here.

With you. And with me.

Because we all have a voice and it’s time we used it.

Even if it starts as a whisper.

 

Thanks for hanging in with me. I know this is long, and I know it might be a lot. But you know what? I took a risk and used my voice.

Because really, something has to change, my friends. Something has to change.

 

 

fyi: One link in the post above is an “affiliate link.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

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 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. 

disney pin trading: why it rocks for families

disney pin trading: why it rocks for families

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

disney pin trading why it rocks for families  teachmama.com.pngThis spring, my family was elated to have been invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration in Disneyland.

It. Was. Amazing.

Not only did we hear from amazing speakers and make incredible connections with talented bloggers from around the country, but we also had the chance to explore Disneyland for the very first time.   Disneyland rocks.

We prepared with our Disney Fun Fact lunchbox notes, and we totally pulled off the most amazing Disney surprise scavenger hunt ever for our kids. And the trip did not disappoint.

For the very first time, we pin traded. We Disney pin traded.

And I totally think it rocks for families. Every family should try it, and the Disney vacation–no matter whether it’s Disney World or Disneyland–is taken to a whole new level.

Our kids were the perfect ages at 10, 8, and 7 years old.

We’re totally and completely hooked on pin trading.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Disney Pin Trading–Why it Rocks for Families:

disney pin trading | why it rocks for families | teachmama.com

disney pin trading | why it rocks for families | teachmama.com

Essentially, Disney pin trading is just that: trading Disney-themed pins at Disney parks. 

Simple, right? Right.

You can take Disney pin trading to just about any level you want, or you can challenge yourself to gather entire lines, sets, or mini collections. We went simple. Believe me.

We started with a handful of pins to get us started.

disney pin trading | why it rocks for families | teachmama.com

disney pin trading | why it rocks for families | teachmama.com

For the six or so weeks we had to prepare for our trip, Maddy, Owen, and Cora worked hard to earn their pins. We:

  • purchased a beginner set of Disney pins from Amazon;
  • found some lanyards we had around the house (you can buy lanyards pretty inexpensively);
  • explained that for every 10 gems the kids earned, they could earn one pin;
  • took time each Sunday evening to count gems and to choose pins;
  • whomever’s day it was chose first–he or she handed in 10 gems and grabbed a pin from the dish;
  • added pins to lanyards as the weeks went on;
  • began trading once we hit the parks!

It was awesome. And for so many reasons I believe Disney pin trading rocks, but I share my top 5 reasons here:

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!

 

We all really had a blast with pin trading.

I know the kids now look at their lanyards much differently–they know the story behind nearly every pin.

 

disney pin trading | teachmama.com

 

disney pin trading | teachmama.com

 

Need a little more info before you get started? Check out my friend Tiffany’s post: Disney Pin Trading 101. It’s awesome.

 

 

 

fyi: Affiliate links are used in this post.

giving kids choices: parenting trick that saved my sanity

giving kids choices: parenting trick that saved my sanity

Originally published 1/25/09 but totally worth a re-share!

 

the parenting trick that saved my sanity: choices | teachmama.comOnce an a while, instead of sharing what secret little lesson I’ve stuck into our day, I’m going to share a Quick Trick that works (more often than not) for me or for one of my pals.

Some days, as most parents know, things just don’t go the way you’d hoped and it’s all you can do to make it through the day. This parenting thing is tough, and there’s no rest for the weary.

So my Quick Trick might focus on anything from parenting to preschool, healthy habits to a happy household.

Most likely, I’ve stolen the idea from someone, somewhere else and made it my own.  Teachers are the best, most practiced thieves, you know.

So here we go. . .

This May Change Your Life:
(okay, or maybe just a tiny part of it)

  • Give children two positive choices as a way of setting limits. Here is the formula:
  1. You may ____ or _____.
  2. What is your choice?
  3. You chose ____!
  • For older children, try:
  1. Feel free to ____ or ____. OR,
  2. Which of these options would be better for you, ____ or ____?
  • When Owen doesn’t want to get dressed in the morning, I try: Hmmmm, what will Owen choose to put on first, his pants or his shirt? Awesome! He chose to put on his shirt first this morning!
  • When we’re leaving a friend’s house: I wonder if Maddy will choose to put on her coat or her boots first. . . Yesterday she put on her boots first. What will she choose today? . . .
  • When we’re trying to clean up: Will Owen choose to put away these cars first or the puzzles?

It does sound strange at first, I know, but after awhile, I was totally surprised at how this worked and got my little ones moving. The choices have to positive, though, and that’s the tough part initially. Saying, Okay, feel free to clean up this mess or go to your room, won’t cut it. Instead try, This room is a mess. Are you going to choose to put the puzzles or the Polly Pockets away first?

I’m a huge, huge fan of Dr. Becky Bailey’s Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline, and although it is a constant challenge for me to incorporate all of her principles into my daily routine, I find that her philosophy of discipline and parenting is really worth exploring.

Dr. Bailey says, Discipline is not a technique to use on children. It is a way of life to model for children.

And that’s the hard part for me.

The emotional, quick-tempered Irish girl I am heard myself saying early on (to my then 2-yr old), You better stop crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about! I stopped myself, totally freaked out, and knew that I was in desperate need of a paradigm shift–or I’d be eaten alive by my own kids. It is not easy–or natural–for me as a parent to take a deep breath and think before I speak to my whining, crying, cranky child who’s asking me for the gazillionth time to go outside, for another snack, to watch tv, or find a missing doll shoe.

So reading–and re-reading–and picking out the parts make sense to me from Dr. Bailey’s book has helped me to try to be more conscious of the way I interact with my children during both the easy and more difficult times so that discipline becomes, like she says, a way of life to model for them. Much easier said than done, but I’m trying to do my best, just like we all are.

get kids interested in language and the world: little pim twitter event, 4.29.14

get kids interested in language and the world: little pim twitter event, 4.29.14

Kids who know about their world will naturally care for it more too.get kids interested in language and the world: little pim twitter event, 4.29.14

Little Pim is a language learning system that hopes to do more than teach your child another language they want to make your kids more interested in the world.

We are chatting all about how to get your kids interested and involved in caring for the planet and would love to hear your ideas! Come chat with us Tuesday April 29th at 9pm EST on Twitter. There are a bunch of Little Pim prizes as well as a Trio Android tablet.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Get Kids Interested in Language and the World– Little Pim Twitter event, 4.29.14:

Who: Parents, teachers, caregivers, expert panelists, and YOU!

get kids interested in language and the world: little pim twitter event, 4.29.14

What: We will be chatting about how to get your kids interested and involved in caring for the planet
Why: Because we all need to raise earth-friendly, worldly kids!
Where: Twitter! (http://twitter.com) #SmartSpring
When: Tuesday, 4.29.14 from 9-10 pm ET
How:

  1. Before the event, rsvp here: http://bit.ly/1jJhngl
  2. On 4.29.14, log onto twitter
  3. Follow the hashtag #SmartSpring
  4. Tweet, re-tweet (RT), and tweet some more!
  5. Optional: Share YOUR fave photos, tips, tricks, and ideas for ways to get kids involved in caring for the planet!

 

Helpful hints:

  • use tweetchat (http://tweetchat.com/room/SmartSpring) to make it easier for you
  • visit the panelists’ sites and bring questions, comments or concerns to the event
  • visit our we teach Twitter event how-to for answers to your Twitter event questions.
  • make sure you are following the hosts (@NoFlashCards & @LittlePim and panelists @teachmama & @pragmaticmom) so you don’t miss a beat!

We look forward to chatting with you on Tuesday, April 29th, and we are psyched to connect with you!

RSVP HERE Everyone who RSVPs you will receive an exclusive Little Pim discount code to use during and after the party!

fyi:  this post is sponsored by Little Pim.

turn your kids into grammar sharks: national grammar day

become a grammar shark | teachmama.com

be a grammar shark | teachmama.com

I have been as sick as a dog–sick as a dawwwwg— for the past few days, but today I had a little spring in my step because it was National Grammar Day.

And this old gal, though she may have strep and she may have spend the last few days in bed, sure does love her grammar.

But what I realized is that my kids do not. 

My kids don’t even have the opportunities we had–way back when–to hunt down misplaced modifiers or to diagram sentences.

They’re too busy learning other super-important big stuff, analyzing poems for author’s voice and decomposing numbers and then composing them back up again like little magicians.

So what I decided was that, because our Word-A-Day Cards went over so well, why not get a little grammar-happy with something similar? Could I create Grammar Sharks out of my kids, just by hitting them with a little dose o’ grammar at breakfast time?

I am going to try!

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Turn Your Kids into Grammar Sharks–National Grammar Day:

First of all, what’s a ‘Grammar Shark’?

A Grammar Shark is a person who in the blink of an eye can spot the misspelling on the restaurant menu.

turn your kids into grammar sharks: national grammar day

turn your kids into grammar sharks: national grammar day
A Grammar Shark is a person who has to bite her tongue in order hold back a

‘OhmygoshwillyouPLEASEstopsaying’feelbadly’whenitreallyshouldbe’feelbad’??!! or a ‘Sohelpmeifhesays’awholenotherstory’onemoretimeIamgoingtolosemymind!!!’ so as not to lose friends on a daily basis.

A Grammar Shark is a person who can clean up a misplaced modifier in no time flat, who knows the difference between who and whom and who likes to talk about the 7 Comma Rules.

turn your kids into grammar sharks: national grammar day

Really, there aren’t many of us out there, and I’m not planning on brainwashing my kids into becoming hard-core grammarians. I will, however, do my best to make sure that they move through life knowing the basics of our English grammar.

I am hoping that by capitalizing on that precious mealtime that they will read not only the cereal boxes and the Kids Post but also my teeny, tiny little Grammar Shark Cards.

So turn your kids into grammar sharks: national grammar day

I’ve included a ton of grammar hang-ups that everyone should know, including the ever-challenging:

  • to vs too vs two;
  • a lot vs alot;
  • they’re vs there vs their;
  • who vs whom;
  • are vs our. . .

And some cards have little ?’s — questions to ponder.  Not all, but some.

All I did was print the grammar shark cards cards onto brightly colored cardstock (because grammar is FUN! and BRIGHT! and EXCITING!), punch a hole in one corner and throw a ring clip to keep them secure.

Feel free to print, share, email to a buddy, pin, tweet, whatever. And if you tag me (@teachmama or @teachmama or @teachmama1) I’ll respond! Give you a virtual high five! A huge and happy thanks hug!

I’ll chest bump ‘ya–from one mama who’s trying to another!

And that’s it. We keep our Grammar Shark Cards  on the snack bar open to one card a day.  Slowly but surely, we’re creating Grammar Sharks over here. Slowly but surely.

Do you have a grammar hang-up or pet peeve? Let me know! 

If it’s not currently on the Grammar Shark Cards, I’ll make sure it’s on the next batch. And happy National Grammar Day, my friends!

20 questions game: homemade, personal, and fun party game for kids of all ages

20 questions homemade party game

20 questions homemade party game

 

While the kids are busy shakin’ their party shakers or rockin’ out to some Bingo Bonanza, the adults can have their New Year’s Eve fun, too.

Actually, everyone can have fun with this homemade game of 20 Questions.

No matter the crowd, when there’s a game to play, the mood’s lighter, there’s a little more laughter, and there’s a little more festivity in the air.  20 Questions is a super game for getting folks to chat, having kids listen and think , and practicing questioning skills.

This party game is seriously one of our faves.  And our version is personal–so famous faces mix with familiar faces–and it’s a total riot.

20 Questions is a great, homemade party game or activity to pass a quiet afternoon at home.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 20 Questions With Kids–Homemade Party Game: I created this game last year to bring to a New Year’s Eve party with some friends, but we’ve pulled it out several times through the year. It’s fun.

It’s funny.

20 questions homemade party game

20 questions homemade party game

20 Questions is easy to play.

Each player takes a turn grabbing a card from the pile. The player holds the card up on his or her forehead so that all the other players can see who or what is on the card but the player cannot.

Here’s where 20 Questions come in: the player holding the card tries to figure out the identity of the person on the card by asking close-ended questions to the other players, much like the questions in Guess Who?.

Close-ended questions are questions that can be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.  That’s it.  So the player holding the card must be strategic:

  • Is my person a male?
  • Does my person appear on television? 
  • Is my person a child?
  • Does my person have long hair? 
  • Is my person fictional or real?

And remembering the answer to each question will help determine the questions that are asked next.

20 questions homemade party game

 

20 questions homemade party game

Our cards are full of fun, famous faces: Oprah, Elmo, Donald Trump, and Punky Brewster along with tons of other sports figures and familiar faces from kids’ programming. 

But even more fun is adding friends and family to the cards.  We’ve added our kids’ faces, friends’ faces, teachers and coaches faces, and it’s all in good fun. Pulling a card out with a face that is actually at the party makes the laughter a bit more hearty and questions a little more hysterical.

Our set has a page of blank cards so that we can add photos of whomever we’d like to the 20 Questions party card mix.

20 questions homemade party game

 

Feel free to download and print the 20 questions party game

Please share it, add your own, and have a blast wherever you celebrate the New Year or need an ice-breaker game.  I’d be thrilled if you pinned this post, tweeted it, facebooked it, or emailed it to a pal.

Again, here’s the 20 questions party game

20 questions homemade party game

20 Questions helps kids of all ages to practice their questioning and thinking skills.

It’s a blast. It makes parties more fun, and the set is small enough to fit in a sandwich bag and throw in your purse or diaper bag for just about any day of the year.

Have a super party–wherever and however you celebrate!

Need some more fun New Year’s ideas?

Check out:

top 2 insider secrets for motivating your kids to read

top 2 ways to motivate kids to read

Every parent hopes that their kids grow up to be readers, right?motivate kids to read

Sure above all, we hope our kids grow to be happy, law-abiding, well-adjusted human beings, but beyond that, wouldn’t it be nice if our kids were readers, too?

Wouldn’t it be awesome if our kids not only knew how to read, but they also really enjoyed reading, choose to read for pleasure, and loved talking to us about the books they’ve read?

Right. It’d be so awesome.

But it doesn’t have to be that far-off of a dream.

There are some things we can do at home–things that don’t cost a million dollars and don’t require all that much effort on our parts. Perhaps a deliberate decision to change, but it’s totally manageable.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Top 2 Insider Secrets for Motivating Your Kids to Read: Having just finished a graduate course called Motivating Students to Read, this information is truly backed by a boatload of research.

It’s not rocket science.

It may not be surprising.

And you may not want to hear it.

But here it is:

 

What do you think?

Ready to take the plunge and really make a difference in your child’s reading?

Let me know–would this work for your child? Have you tried it?