Posts Tagged ‘academics’

Saturday Morning and a Paper Bag

September 6th, 2013

booksLet me start by sharing a childhood memory. Every Saturday morning my mother would load us four kids in the car and drive into town to the library. Then she gave us each a paper grocery sack and turned us loose. We filled our sacks with a week’s worth of reading and left the library excited about “our new books.” Later in the evenings we would all, parents and children, settle down with a book or magazine.

Now many years later I can tell you we never stopped reading. All four of us kids read daily – books and magazines and newspapers.

So what’s the point of my story? It’s really quite simple. Our parents made it a priority to expose us to the world of reading at an early age. They made sure we had access to reading materials and modeled reading themselves.

Thank you Mom and Dad for giving your kids a gift that keeps giving – hours of enjoyment with books in hand. And yes, I still go to the library on Saturday mornings to stock up on books for the week. The only difference is I carry a reusable library bag instead of the brown paper one.

Donna Donald

language development, reading , ,

Sibling Relationships

July 7th, 2013

Brothers and sisters can seem to be arch enemies one moment and best friends the next. Or maybe you’ve described it as “can’t live with them, can’t live without them”.

The good news is that while siblings fight a lot, they also learn to resolve the conflicts, this is a valuable social skill that translates well into relationships in school. Fast forward into the adult world with personal and work relationships, and you can readily see how living with siblings is a rehearsal for later life.

During July, we will talk about the benefits and challenges of siblings, stereotypes, and how siblings shape each other’s lives.


Sibling Relationships


brothers, family time, parenting, podcast, positive parenting, siblings, sisters, social-emotional , , , , , , , ,

Fathers are more fun…

June 21st, 2013

Got your attention didn’t I?  Now moms, don’t be mad at me because we can be WAY fun, and trust me I am a really fun mom, it’s just that sometimes I feel like fathers are more fun!

So I was curious. Was I just ‘feeling’ less fun? Or is there was a difference in how mothers and fathers have ‘fun’. Here is what I found.

A summary of Fathers Involvement in Their Children’s Schools shared the following (

  • Researchers are in agreement that mothers and fathers interact differently with their children (Parke, 1995).
  • Fathers spend proportionately more time playing with their children, while mothers spend a greater proportion of their total time with their children in caretaking activities (Lamb, 1986).
  • Because mothers spend a greater amount of time overall with their children, they may actually spend more time playing with them than do fathers, yet caretaking is still what best characterizes their time, while play best characterizes the fathers’ overall time with their children.  Fathers and mothers also play differently with their children, with fathers much more likely to be rough and tumble (Parke, 1995; Hetherington and Parke, 1993).

Whew!!  I’m not less fun!  I just play different than fathers do!  I would love to hear how you play and have fun. Whether you are a mother or a father, spending time having fun and playing is so important. Share ideas here!


divorce, education, family time, fathers, grandparenting, mother, play, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s not the emotion – it’s the outlet.

February 22nd, 2013

Guest Blogger- Family Life Intern Mackenzie K.

As Donna and the podcast suggested, anger is natural for children. There are countless issues that may cause a child to feel angry: not getting their way, frustration over things that are hard, learning difficulties, family problems, or friendship issues.

Often times we want to tell our children that they should not be angry. Their anger sometimes seems irrational and unjustified to us as parents. In reality, the emotion of anger is not the problem; it is how they handle that anger.

So allow your child to feel angry. We all know how hard it is to try to change your emotions. Help your child identify their feeling as anger. Saying and labeling the emotion like this may be helpful, “You are angry because I won’t let you eat candy before supper” or “I can tell that when you don’t make the circle perfect it makes you frustrated”.

Now that they can recognize their anger, they can learn how to address it. There are some great strategies and tips to try when helping your child learn to handle their anger in the article below:

Helping Children with Anger

Does anyone have any experience using these techniques? What has worked best for you and your child?

discipline, education, family time, friendship, language development, overindulgence, positive parenting, raising teens, school, social-emotional, spanking, temperament , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Get a clue…

December 14th, 2012

Hmmm so I wondered after the last blog about myself and my children. I checked out the resources that Donna listed and am sharing here four of the clues to overindulging children. You can find the research and resources here….   4 Clues to Overindulgence

Instead of sharing with you the questions, I am going to share with you the examples.

  • My five-year-old has toys in every room of the house, but he is always begging for new toys.
  • My ten-year-old’s clothes closet is bulging with garments, but she can’t find anything to wear to school in the morning.
  • My 13-year-old has a heavy after-school activity schedule every day and all day Saturday. We want to keep him occupied so he won’t get into drugs.
  • My 17-year-old loves the computer and video games. He spends all of his time looking at the screen. He isn’t interested in sports, and it is a struggle to get him to exercise. I’m afraid he stays up half the night.

I encourage you to go view the questions. Then come back here and share your thought with us!

They made me think.


education, family time, friendship, overindulgence, positive parenting, raising teens, school, social-emotional , , , , , , , , , , ,

School Success…Let’s get started!

September 6th, 2012

This month we are focusing on how to get the school year started right!

The short podcast gives a few ideas on homework and we are having an evening webinar on Monday the 10th of September to add more ideas to create success!  Listen to the podcast and join us on the 10th!

Lori and Donna

education, homework, podcast, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional , , , , , , , , , ,

Can We Focus Please

June 28th, 2012

Do you ever having trouble remembering something you just read? Or you’ve already forgotten what you did five minutes ago or plan to do next? Happens to me way too often and I’m always telling myself, “Focus Donna.”

When I listened to the podcast I heard the “focus” word loud and clear. We’re told that focus has a lot to do with what we remember. In the classroom the teacher has to first get a child’s attention before he can teach a new concept. As a parent you have to get your child’s attention before you can even have a conversation.

Then the next step is to do something to elaborate on what was learned. This points out the need for enrichment activities to take learning to a higher level.

For example, let’s say your child just learned fractions. What can you do to enrich the concept? One idea is to have him help you bake his favorite cookies. He will soon be using those fractions with the measuring cups and spoons. Perhaps an older child is wrestling with active and passive verbs. She can elaborate on the definitions by writing a short story.

Focus and enrich – two simple words and concepts that are so important when it comes to learning. First we must remember and then we use or practice what we learned. What do you do to help yourself focus and remember? What have you found helpful in extending and enriching your child’s lessons?

Donna Donald

education , , ,

The Country School Coatroom

June 14th, 2012

Picture a country school filled with students 1st through 8th grades. Hear the murmurs coming from the coatrooms. Imagine yours truly sitting cross legged on the floor next to a beginning reader.

This is the world I experienced for the first eight years of my education. I attended a large country school with three classrooms and three teachers.  We studied hard and played hard. And when you finished your assignments you got to be the teacher’s helper. This is where the coatroom enters the picture.

I would take a student from a lower grade to the coatroom. Then we would settle in under the jackets or coats and between extra shoes and boots. The little student would open up her reader or pull out math problems and we would go to work. I would listen, explain, and teach. When our time was up we returned to the classroom; both of us knowing just a little more.

My story is not just a walk down memory lane. Rather it serves to illustrate a critical point made in the podcast about learning. It is important to have overlearning which is well past the initial learning. And one of the best ways to do this is by teaching someone else what you have learned. When I was helping a student pronounce a big word or work through a multiplication problem, I was reactivating my knowledge. I was learning again and again.

My class was the last one to graduate from this country school. Today, education looks and feels quite different. But the concepts of how students learn remain the same. We constantly relearn what we’ve learned before and each time it gets faster.

What can you do this summer to help your child relearn prior lessons?   

Donna Donald

education , ,

Episode 16: All about Learning

June 6th, 2012

When children learn something well the first time, even if they do forget, relearning is easier. This month’s Science of Parenting podcast from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach examines how children learn and how teachers and parents can adapt teaching to fit learning and memory. It’s the final long-form podcast in the series.

ISU Extension Publications


Related resources

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Grover vs ….?

October 6th, 2011

I am a product of Sesame Street. Yep, I counted with the Count and ate cookies with Cookie. And deep down I’m probably still in enamored with loveable furry ‘ole Grover!

According to this month’s podcast there are 34 years of research that shows I very likely went to kindergarten having ‘learned’ from Sesame Street! Knowing that tv truly is ‘teaching’ our children can be both exciting and frightening at the same time.  This month’s podcast addresses how we can sift through what our children should and shouldn’t watch on television.

As I think about what my children might be learning from tv, I think most about all of the different channels available. I only had three options. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the different programming options available. My girls and I enjoy several of the nature and real life types of shows on various channels, but have also watched the cartoon-y children’s programs. We like the options!

Do I limit what they watch – yes I try my best. Are there times that they may be watching something less than stellar in my opinion? Absolutely. As I was listening to the podcast I appreciated the recognition that different channels may have both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ programming. That one channel may not be all ‘bad’ or all ‘good’. The bottom line was that I needed to pay attention to the different programs, watch them for myself and then determine whether it would be something I should let my girls watch.

What types of characteristics do you look at when you determine whether or not your children should watch something? 

Lori L Hayungs

education, media and kids, positive parenting , , , , ,

Still trying to convince him preschool is FUN!!!!!

September 22nd, 2011


Preschool. End of September. We are all comfortable and happy when we start off to preschool right? The transition is now complete.

Umm not really. There is still fussing over shoes, whining over show-n-tell and dragging feet at the car door. You think to yourself, “Am I the only parent still struggling to get my child comfortable with starting preschool?” or “Why does everyone else’s child bound happily in the front door while I have to carry mine in?”

Guess what? You are not alone! Every child transitions or has a comfort level for beginnings, at a different rate. In fact, it is likely that by the time your child gets comfortable, there may still be others that haven’t completed the process. Children adjust to new situations (like starting preschool) based on their own individual temperament. And, if you really think about it, you may even recognize some of your own uncomfortable apprehensions in the face of your child (they got their temperament from you!). 

As we think about trying to help our children through new situations it is most important to continually think about how it seems from their point of view. They have never been to preschool before, and each DAY is literally a NEW day to them. Yes, they may have been there for 2-3 weeks already but now it’s colder, they have more things to pack in their back pack, more items to remember, the building looks different when it is surrounded by brown & not green, their friends may be louder as they have become comfortable, it’s ALWAYS a NEW DAY. And with newness comes apprehension and uncomfortable feelings. Real feelings we can’t ignore.

Each time we remember to appreciate or acknowledge the apprehension our child feels,  instead of becoming frustrated by it we are able to show our child that we ‘understand’. We may not be able to help our child alleviate the apprehension to newness but we can ‘acknowledge it’ and try to ‘understand’. Those two things alone may help increase your child’s comfort level.

What are some ways that you have shown appreciation for or acknowledged your child’s apprehension? What happened when you did? What are some techniques that you have done to help your child feel more comfortable in uncertain situations? Share your ideas with us!

Lori Hayungs

school , , ,

Keeping It Real

September 15th, 2011

Project based learning sounds like an educator’s way of keeping it real. At least that’s what I heard in the podcast. I liked how the guys talked about getting the learning out of the textbooks and into reality. Lori shared a great example of project based learning at her house. I want to go the other direction and talk about examples from the school perspective. 

I recently chatted with Dorene McCart who is the Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at Wayne Community School in Corydon, Iowa. Dorene does an outstanding job of giving her students opportunities to show to a larger audience, than just herself, what they can do. Students in the foods classes keep the kitchens humming year round. They prepare food for: volleyball tournament, National Honor Society induction, community play, community programs, prom, etc. They go through the planning process, make decisions, write out market orders, prepare the food, and serve. And talk about keeping it real – the students plan meals for a family of 4 for a week and are able to figure the cost per serving.

My favorite example from Dorene’s long list has to do with used clothing. A woman who moved to the community from New York City was amazed at the clothes available through the used clothing center. She approached Dorene about how the students could help in spreading the word about this resource. The students first studied the elements of design. Then they went to the center and chose 10 outfits with accessories. Students invited their mothers and grandmothers to a specially prepared lunch and presented a style show in their economical, but fashionable clothing.

There you have project based learning in a nutshell. A person saw a problem or issue. A product evolved into a project which was integrated into what the community already had – an underused clothing center, a classroom of eager students, and an innovative teacher. This is keeping it real. This is keeping it connected to the street.

What’s going on at your school that fits the concept of project based learning?

Donna Donald


Episode 7: Project-based Learning

September 1st, 2011

Get kids engaged in project based learning, and they’ll learn more by creating solutions to real-world problems. Learn how in this month’s Science of Parenting podcast.

ISU Extension materials

Help Children Discover Answers with Project-based Learning (PM 3002D)

Related Resources

More from Science of Parenting

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Helping with Homework (Part 1)

January 26th, 2011

Homework is a part of every child’s life.  On average, 5th and 6th grade students have 1 to 1.5 hours of homework each night, while 7th and 8th graders have up to 2 hours of homework each night. As a parent, there are things you can do at the beginning of the school year to set your child up for a successful year of high quality, homework completion!

Make sure your child has all the supplies necessary to be successful. Schools provide a list of school supplies before beginning each year. Help your child be prepared by ensuring he/she has all the supplies on this list. Especially for middle school and high school student, getting your child a planner is a great way to help with organization. Finally, be sure to provide a well-lit, quiet place at home where your child can complete homework.

Set up a regular homework time. Even if there are nights when your child does not have homework, establishing and maintaining a regular homework time will help your child stay organized and stay “ahead of the game.” When your child does not have specific assignments due the next day, suggest that he/she work ahead on assignments, or study for upcoming tests.

Make sure your child understands the teacher’s homework expectations. Most middle school and high school teachers give students worksheets that explain homework assignments. Help your child be successful by reading through these instructions together, and if possible, clarifying anything your child does not understand. If the directions are unclear to you as well, encourage your child to talk with the teacher and ask questions. This might be scary for some students, but as a parent, you can help ease these fears by reminding children that teachers want to help students be successful.

Encourage your child to work with “homework buddies.” Talk to your child about finding one student in each of his/her classes who can be a homework buddy. A homework buddy is someone your child can call with questions about assignments, someone who can take notes if he/she is absent, and might even be someone your child can work together with to complete assignments.

Get in touch and stay in touch with teachers. With advances in technology, there is a variety of ways to maintain contact with teachers, including email, phone, and in person visits. Teachers can inform you of your child’s academic progress, his/her behavior in the classroom, and things you can be working on with your child to encourage development. You can let the teacher know of any changes at home or in your child’s life, and also find out ways that you can get involved in your child’s classroom.

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Helping Teens Get Organized

January 10th, 2011

To be successful in the academic world, students need to be organized. For teenagers, this can be a difficult task.  With school, extra curricular activities, friends, and family, organization can seem like a foreign concept to adolescents.  Here are some tips teens can use to stay organized.

Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each morning will help ensure that you get enough sleep.  This also helps your body get into a routine, enabling you to feel rested and refreshed each day.

Get ready to go the night before. Laying out your clothes, packing your lunch, and packing your book bag the night before will help avoid the feeling of being rushed in the morning. This also gives you time to think through and gather all the things you need for the upcoming day, to ensure these items are not forgotten.

Use a daily planner. A daily planner gives you one space to write everything down. From homework assignments to practice schedules and doctor appointments, having a planner keeps you focused and on track. Planners can also be used to create “to do” lists. Having a list to follow helps to make study halls and designated work times more effective and efficient.

Designate a study area. Each person has a different environment in which he/she studies best. Create an environment for yourself that allows you to get the most out of your study time. Be sure your space is quiet, well lit, and comfortable. However, do not make it too comfortable. A big, comfy couch is often more conducive to sleeping than to studying.

Don’t overload your schedule. Know that there is only so much you can accomplish in one day. There may be times when you need to say no to getting involved in an extra curricular activity, or spending extra time with your friends. Knowing your limits and carefully managing your schedule will allow you to keep up with school work, excel at the activities you do choose to participate in, and maintain a balanced social life.

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