Over the next several weeks, many children will be taking a ‘break’ from school. Often times I use this break to catch up with my girls’ school calendars, activities and classroom connections. I guess it’s my way to plan for the New Year.
As you look ahead to this break, might I suggest that it may be the perfect time to check out some of the Dare to Excel school/home publications on our new website. In these nine Dare to Excel newsletters, you will find topics that your school may be sharing with your children and how you can continue the learning at home.
For instance, in the Social Media Limits newsletter your will find ways to set media limits and help your child improve overall performance in school. Research shows that too much media time can negatively influence sleep in children and that violent media games can give children negative feelings toward others. The newsletter includes tips to manage media time in your home. Online Safety, Physical Activity and Routines at Home are just a few of the additional topics you will find on our Everyday Parenting page under School Home Connections.
We hope you are enjoying our new website as we are excited to continue sharing!
I catch a glimpse of the calendar and know that school will begin shortly, and that means many families will get back into a routine that will include hustle and bustle to get family members to school, day care, work, and sporting events.
For children, settling into a routine that includes school, homework, sports, playtime and family meals is very important. Children and youth do best when routines are regular, predictable, and consistent. When we eat and sleep with regular consistency, our bodies adjust and we feel good! Conversely, when we avoid sleep and eat the wrong foods, we pay the price in how we feel!
A study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics reports that family routines support children and their emotional development. And it is the social / emotional health that enables children to thrive in the classroom.
Routines that include singing, bedtime snacks, storytelling and connection with family caregivers are helpful for a good night’s rest. The nurturing we do to help children adjust to “back to school” is proving to be helpful in long term adjustment in both school and home settings.
Talking about the upcoming school routine can help alleviate any anxiety your child may have. Keep communication lines open with your child so that they can feel comfortable discussing with you the fears or questions they may have about the new school year. As a family, your routines are making a difference!
The call goes out – help save our music program! When school districts face tough financial times, music is often one department on the table for cuts.
A first reaction may be to focus on arguments like: music is important for a well-rounded education; music is the only thing that keeps some kids interested in school; music teaches kids concentration, coordination, and perseverance; and performances are an important part of athletic events and school functions. Well, that’s all true but then the same could be said about other departments.
You might want to hone in on how music can help children with both reading skills and math. In a nutshell, the researchers who look at cognition, think that participation in music increases both the brain’s efficiency and effectiveness. The strongest studies support the value of music-making in spatial reasoning, creativity, and generalized math skills. Other studies link music education to helping children improve reading skills. Now you are beginning to talk the language that could influence the decision makers.
Sometimes parents assume the role of advocates for their children. And if that time comes for you, it helps to focus on facts rather than only emotions. Has your school system struggled with financing the music department? What has helped keep music a viable part of the school your children attend?
I just read an interesting report titled “Living and Learning with Mobile Devices.” The report from Grunwald Associates LLC focuses on what parents think about mobile devices for early childhood and K-12 learning. Many parents see the potential and value for mobile devices (smartphone, tablets) and apps as learning tools.
Some of the learning benefits are: promote curiosity, foster creativity, teach problem solving, teach reading, teach math, teach science, and teach foreign languages. Early in the “mobile era”, schools often fought the battle of keeping cell phones out of the classroom. Now it appears, teachers are beginning to embrace smartphones as a teaching tool.
Occasionally I think about the evolution of tools and techniques. I learned to type on a manual typewriter and take shorthand. Now I type on a smartphone and use shortened words or initials to communicate a message. Different times – different ways – but still communicating and learning.
The kids are coming home from school with assignments so how about one for you parents? Check with your child’s teachers about use of mobile devices in the classroom. Are they permitted? Are they encouraged? Are they used for learning or communication? If mobile devices are used for learning, what provision is made for students who do not have these devices?
Go ahead and share what’s happening in your school with others reading this blog.
When our kids were growing up, there wasn’t much time or money for family vacations. But somehow one summer we managed to load the five of us in the Suburban and head to Chicago. Looking back I think all of us had different ideas about vacation. The girls wanted to swim in the pool at the hotel, my husband looked forward to interesting food, and I couldn’t wait to get to the museums. During the road trip, we started talking about possibilities and I realized I needed to think fast (something which Moms do pretty well).
Here is my solution. Each person got to choose one thing he or she really wanted to do. Then the rest of us would agree and participate. We didn’t have to like it but the rule was – no whining and no complaining. Now the interesting part. I chose the Museum of Science and Industry. A stern look was needed to silence the complaining that was about to erupt. We entered the museum and began to look at the exhibits on the first floor. And then the magic happened. After 30 minutes the girls were still enthralled in the first couple of exhibits. I had to keep encouraging them to move along to see more. Fun and learning and family time all got wrapped up into one wonderful afternoon. The discussions about what we saw and experienced extended well into the evening and later on the trip home.
A couple of takeaways here.
- Mom doesn’t have to do all the planning. Everyone can have a voice in what the family does on vacation.
- An afternoon at the museum can be a fascinating way to learn – in this case, science.
I still have a couple of the plastic cups we got at the Brookfield Zoo while on this vacation. Every time I use one, the fond memories come flooding back.
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?
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.
“I have a note for you from my teacher” are not the words a parent usually likes to hear from their child. Or perhaps you get an email asking you to stop by the school. Before your radar sets off, take a deep breath. Sometimes teachers contact parents if their child has done really well. Other times the call comes because there is a problem. It’s important to remember your child’s teacher will have information about what aspects of her work are creating a problem. The teacher can tell you if your child is not paying attention, not participating in class, or not completing homework.
It’s also a good idea for you to initiate a conversation with teachers early in the school year about expectations. Find out how often homework will be given, when it is due, and how you will find out your child’s progress. Some teachers have a system they follow for assigning homework – assignment notebooks, folders, sign-off sheets. Discover what the teachers want and then do your part to be supportive.
I hear parents talking about how much homework their children have and if it’s a reasonable amount. That’s a good question and can vary depending upon school systems, teachers, and children’s ages. Harris Cooper, Director of Duke’s Program in Education says research is consistent with the “10-minute” rule” suggesting the optimum amount of homework a teacher should assign. Before anyone gets too excited, let me explain. It is a commonly accepted practice in which teachers add 10 minutes of homework as students progress one grade. For example, a first grader would have 10 minutes of homework while that 6th grader could handle 60 minutes.
What do you think about the 10 minute rule? Have you had a conversation with your child’s teachers about homework expectations this school year?
Ok, maybe your kids haven’t used that excuse, but homework has a way of getting lost. Misplaced homework is often the result of not having an organized study space for kids. My guess is that you purchased school supplies and some new clothes for back-to-school. But did you help your child create an inviting spot to study?
I remember doing my homework at the kitchen table and any reading in my bedroom. That seemed to meet my needs for concentration. Students have different needs. Some are easily distracted. Others don’t seem to be bothered by noise or activity. Talk with your child about his preferences. Add in what you know about him and then together set up the study area.
Kids need a desk or table with a comfortable chair. It’s important to have enough space for a computer, books, papers, and any other materials being used. Be sure there is good lighting and some type of storage. Perhaps you can designate a book shelf, filing cabinet, specific drawers, or even plastic containers. Then add the necessary school supplies – pencils, pens, markers, tape, glue, rulers, etc. – so everything your student needs is in one place.
If this is a “dedicated” study space, think about adding color with wall paint, pictures, or posters. The idea is to make this an inviting place.
Would you want to go to work every day and not have a place to do your work? I’m guessing the answer is no. What ideas do you have for creating a study spot for your child?
The first Science of Parenting webinar aired Monday night. We enjoyed interacting with parents, grandparents, and others about Helping Your Child Succeed in School.
We recorded the webinar and it is now available for you to watch at your convenience. Just go to the top of this page and click on the “webinars” button on the left side.
At the end of the webinar we asked participants to share ideas for topics they would like to see addressed in future podcasts, blogs, and webinars. Your ideas are always welcome. Just send them via a blog entry.
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!