Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sorry I haven't been around...

I fully realize that I left plenty of you out in the dust... however I am back from the long break. If you have any questions about children, education or both let me know. I would love to know if I can help make a difference. Thanks or being patient.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Keeping Communication Lines Open!

Between you and your child!
Journaling is one way to keep the communication lines open between you and your child. Don’t give up on dinner conversations and sometimes the best time to have a conversation about your child’s day is before they go to bed. I know some families over dinner share the best part of my day… and one part of my day that I would want to change was… Some families talk about how they helped someone, or the funniest part of their day. Other conversation starters could be remembering the last family vacation or a favorite holiday. Share stories about when you were young or about the day your child was born. My motto is if you share, they will share.

         If you are looking for information about school, ask specific questions about their day. Most likely your child’s teacher will send home a monthly newsletter or an email mentioning what your child is learning in class. Use this as your starting point to lead in to asking the right questions. Avoid asking yes or no questions. A good question might be, I read that you are learning about… tell me what you know?

Between you and your child’s teacher!
         Depending on what kind of student you have, will determine how often you will want to check in with your child’s teacher. If your child has known behavior issues you might want to check in with the teacher every week, until the issues slowly subside. (I liked to give weekly updates about behavior to my more challenging students) Behavior issues tend to go away once the child knows that their teacher and their parents are sharing information.
If your child doesn’t have any real behavior problems, I would check in monthly. I would ask questions like, is my child following your expectations? Is there anything my child could/should be working on at home? Is there anything I can do to help you this month?  Give your child’s teacher time to respond to you. If you establish this routine, when problems do arise there will be less hesitation to get in contact with each other.

*Parents and teachers can be the strongest allies when dealing with behavior and academic goals. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

I Can Write! Keeping a Journal at Home

             You might be asking yourself why should I encourage my child to keep a journal at home?

Journaling has many purposes! Here are some of the why’s to journal.
            It builds writing and reading skills.
            It can be another outlet for your child to express their feelings.
            Strengthens the hand and increases fine motor skills.

My favorite kind of journal is a buddy journal. One day your child can write or draw about their day and then you can write the next day. Not only does this model what good writing looks like (the purpose behind you writing in the journal), you get to have an insight about what your child might be thinking or feeling. You might learn about how their day at school went or any problems they might be having with other students in their class. (Also it is a great keepsake!)

Does this conversation sound familiar?
Parent: “How was your day at school?”
Child: “It was good.”
Parent: What did you do?”
Child: “I don’t know.”
Parent: “Did you learn anything knew?”
Child: “I can’t remember.”

The game of twenty questions can last all night, but you probably won’t get any more answers. Journaling can be a time where your child has time to think about their day and write or draw about it. If your child is having a hard time coming up with something to draw or write you can use the following prompts…

If your child is in the drawing stage of writing: (If they know their letter sounds, encourage them to begin labeling their pictures)
            My friends at school.
            My favorite thing to do at recess.
            I love to…
            I like to…
            I want to go to…
            My pet(s)
            My favorite animal
            I want to eat…
            I like to go to…

If your child is in the writing stage:
            I’ve been meaning to tell you…
            My favorite book is…
            My favorite subject at school is…
            I liked when we …
            I like to play… at recess
            My friends are…
            I love to…
            If I could pick what’s for dinner, I would choose…
            I had a ____________ day because…

The list is endless! You know your child best. Pick topics that will motivate them to write!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Remembering September 11th

How do you talk to your child/children about this day in history?

You may want to try to hide it from your children thinking that it is best not to discuss it with little kids. If you watch the news your child is going to hear or maybe even see what happened that day. It is our duty to never forget what happened that day and to talk with our kids about the tragic day we lost so many Americans.
When I taught first grade, I began discussing the events of September 11th a few days before. I didn’t spend a lot of time talking about the terrorists, or the why’s? behind the attacks. I focused my discussion with my students about the heroes of that day and how our country came together to help one another. When talking about the “terrorists” I would use the term “people who had hate in their heart.” I would then go on to say, “The people who had hate in their hearts wanted to hurt our country. The decided to fly two airplanes in two large buildings in New York City, called the Twin Towers. When the planes hit the buildings, they made them fall to the ground. Many police officers, firefighters, EMT’s and other brave men and women went to the building to try to save the peoples lives that were inside the buildings.” A book that could be helpful to talk with your child is The Little Chapel That Stood by A.B. Curtiss.
I also recommend telling your child about where you were when you heard about the attacks and the feelings you felt in the days and weeks after the events of 9/11. Sadly this day will always be a day of remembrance similar to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the day Kennedy was assassinated.  
            Additional conversations you might want to have with your child are “What does America mean to you? “What does it mean to be patriotic?”

Book recommendation!
            The Little Chapel That Stood by A.B. Curtiss

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Adding one more to the family mix...

As I answer the following question, I am sure you are going to ask yourself, "what does a teacher know about adding a sibling to a family?" Well, although I might not have kids of my own, I do know how to spot jealousy and how to ease a child a way from "acting out" to get more attention. 

The other day I went to a friends house and visited their son and 2-month year old baby. My friend asked me, "How do I get my son to stop acting out against me and my husband? He is so sweet and helpful when it comes the baby and helping, but has reverted back to some of his old tendencies."

I want to say that his behavior is completely natural, and it is just a phase (it might feel like it is going to last forever, but it won't)! I promise! He is adjusting to having a another living-being in the household and realizing that he is no longer the center of attention. I am sure you are adjusting to having another person to take care of and having less sleep. However, you have more coping skills to deal with the new situation (you've been around longer). Sometimes the way little kids express their wants and needs are to "act out." This my be by hitting you, throwing more tantrums, not using the potty (even though they are potty trained), or countless other ways. 

Here are some solutions to help with the problem

  • Make a special time each day that is just for the two of you. (Mom/Dad and Son) Activities could include snuggling, reading a good book, swinging on the swings, etc. 
  • Give your child feeling words to help them express themselves without hitting or throwing tantrums.  Before your child swings into a full episode, you can say "It looks like you are... (feeling word), I can see how you would feel that way, right now I need you to.... and then when you are ready we can...) These words don't fit in all situations, but hopefully they are a good start. 
  • Create a marble jar. Every time they do a desired behavior add a marble to the jar (going potty in the bathroom, using a fork/spoon to eat, getting dressed, any desired behavior). When the marble jar is filled, they can do the agreed upon activity. (Go get ice cream, go to the pond to feed the ducks, go on a family bike ride, something your child really enjoys and something that you can live with is the key!
Just remember "acting out" is their way of saying "I need more attention." So if you can create situations where they are receiving positive attention, the problem will no longer exist. Be Aware... if you are giving them attention for their negative behavior they are going to continue to do the behavior that gives them more attention. When your child throws a tantrum or hits, put them in time out, tell them why, and walk away. When they are calm and/or a few minutes have passed. Go back explain why they got a time out, say I love you and give a great big hug!

Parents out there, what has worked for you?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Preschool... What is the real purpose?

My sister asked a great question about preschool the other day. She is concerned that her daughter isn't learning anything new and some of the concepts being taught she feels her daughter has mastered at home. Her example was that her daughter was tracing circles (she has been drawing circles since she was 3!) 

Preschool serves two purposes. I am sure some of you may be in shock when I say that, but I think it's true. 

Purpose #1 (Social Skills) 
Preschool helps teach kids how to interact in a classroom, make new friends, follow agreed upon rules, as well as, learn how to listen/follow directions. These skills are necessary for kindergarten and to be successful in a "real" school setting. Practice makes perfect! Another aspect of preschool that is often not thought about, but is taught just by going everyday is teaching your child about the importance of education. You would not believe some of the attendance issues that are popping up, simply due to the child/parent lack of insistence on attending school on a regular basis. 

Purpose #2 (Academic Skills) 
Some of you who are very involved with your children may have already covered the preschool curriculum by the end of year 2, and you feel that your child is not learning anything NEW! Remember some parents simply do not have the time to spend with their child, so for these children the concepts are new and it is helping them develop a foundation. For the ones who brought their child ready to read, you may not see them mastering reading or addition and subtraction, however, it doesn't mean they aren't learning something related to science or social studies. What your child reports back to you could be leaving out some of the most important parts of their day. On the other hand they might not be learning anything new, but you would be surprised at some of the preschool curriculum and the evolution it has gone through to meet the growing demands to give your child a head start. (In Nordic countries, they don't even introduce reading until late second and early third grade, when the mind is more able. Have you seen their high school test scores???) 

Other skills such as glueing, cutting, and manipulating objects help with your child's fine motor skills, which will eventually lead to better handwriting. They also work on developing large motor skills which builds core muscle strength, which will eventually help them sit for longer periods of time. 

Questions to keep in mind about preschool?

1. What is the purpose for your child?
2. Do they like going?

Also if you are really worried about lack of curriculum, pop in one day and see what is really going on. Don't just plop yourself down and watch, be an active participant and see if your child's teacher needs any help. It will give you an inside into what they have already done or what they are going to be doing. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Adjusting... Back to School It Is!

       How is the adjustment of back to school going? Are you kids eager about homework still or are they still in the summer daze? 
      Maybe your kids are some of the lucky ones that get to start the day after Labor Day and you haven't quite thought about the upcoming school days. 
      Whether your kids are in school or not, remember just like teachers in the classroom, parents need to have clear expectations about what happens after school. Get your kids in the habit early and it will cause less arguments down the road! Whatever your routine may be, make sure it is consistent!

Monday - Thursday
3:30 Home/Snack/Sharing
4:00 Homework
5:00 Play
6:00 Dinner
6:30-8:00 Extra-curricular activities, family time, etc.
8:00 Reading
8:30 Bed Time

I am not foolish and believe me this would be idyllic! You know your child and the homework standards for your school, so make a schedule that both your child and you can live with. If you can't live with it, then it will never be followed. Also there are special occasions, and things that come up. Don't feel bad if your schedule gets disturbed! 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back to school, a breeze or a nightmare?

      The craziest things happen when the school year starts or it is just approaching for those who are lucky enough to start the day after Labor Day! One of two things usually happens, your child wakes up at 4:30 with school clothes on, teeth brushed and they want to know when it is time to go or it is 8:00 and school starts in a 1/2 hour and your kid is begging for 15 more minutes. Why can't there be a happy medium? 

     You can always check your success based on whether or not your child is wearing clean underwear, has eaten breakfast, brushed their teeth and are wearing matching shoes! Everything else will usually fall into place. 

     What kind of child do you have? 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Building a Relationship with Your Child's Teacher!

As parents, you might ask what does my relationship with the teacher have to do with my child’s education? I’m here to tell you, it means more than you know!  I am not suggesting that you have to be best friends with your child’s teacher, but developing a relationship with your child’s teacher can prove to have huge benefits.
                        The biggest benefits are trust and open lines of communication (addressing both successes and concerns, with email there is no more need to wait for parent teacher conferences).  For example, your child comes home complaining that someone was teasing him at school and that it has been going on for a couple of days. If you have a strong relationship with the teacher, you quickly send an email and the teacher addresses the issue directly the next day. If you didn’t have an established relationship, would you feel differently?

·      Smile, smile, smile! Introduce yourself more than once and don’t be offended if your child’s teacher forgets your name.
·      Get to know your child’s teacher! Ask questions (be careful not to get too personal, but ask questions that show you genuinely care about them.)
·      Be helpful, if you want to “check out” your child’s class ask if there is anything you can do.
·      Give notes or emails of gratitude. The more teachers feel appreciated the harder they try, because they feel valued as professionals.
·      If you are able to, volunteer in the classroom or from home. In many cases, teachers have projects that can be done at home and sent back on a predetermined due date.
·      You get out, what you put in!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The World of Charlie and Lola

       The brilliant Lauren Child has a gift of bringing characters alive that easy to relate too. The problems she uses in her books are every day problems that all kids at one point or another go through or can relate to. Her books allow for students to make text-self connections with ease. Her straightforward writing also allows students to practice identifying problem and solution in stories. Her style of writing and the font she chooses and the emphasis she places on letters or different words, help teach students how to read with more inflection. When used correctly it can build their fluency skills.

The following is a list of my favorite Charlie and Lola books:
(All books are best read with using your best English accent!)

Boo! Made You Jump! (Halloween)

There are so many more to choose from it is hard not to get carried away! If you have little ones at home there are board books too!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Books Your Child Will Love!

These books are some of my favorites! I think they are definitely worth checking out if you haven't already! Happy reading!

Mommy Doesn’t Know My Name by Suzanne Williams

Always In Trouble by Corinne Demas

No, David! By David Shannon (All David Shannon Books!)

Gloria and Officer Buckle by Peggy Rathmann

The Hallo-Wiener by Dave Pilkey

Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann (Check out Purpilicious and Goldilicious too!)

Freckleface Strawberry by Julianne Moore (I like Frecklefact Strawberry and the Dodgebal Bully)

Tuesday by David Wiesner

Skippy jon Jones by Judy Schachner

Fancy Nancy by Jane O'connor

Get Ready for School!

Yes, school is starting up again! There are probably many mixed emotions. Maybe some of you are sending your first kindergartner to school, or maybe this will be the first year that all your kids are in school for the whole day! Whatever your circumstance may be, it is important to begin to prepare your child for their inevitable return to school.

Ways to Prepare Your Child

-A week or two before school starts, get your child back on to their school-sleeping schedule. Wake them up at the time they would have to get up for school, begin to go over morning routines (clothes, brushing teeth, eating breakfast) in a timely fashion.
-Have down time during the day in small intervals where your child is working on completing a task (art project, journal entry, reading or listening to a book). This will prepare them for times where they are going to be asked to sit and not to be active.
-Begin to have conversations about the school year and how exciting it is going to be (Your attitude about school will directly affect your child, so think and be positive). Have many open conversations about their feelings about the first day of school. Address any concerns they might have. Common concerns among kids are: “Is my teacher nice?” “Will I know anyone?” “What if no one likes me?” “What if I have to go to the bathroom?” “How do I get school lunch?” The list continues, open up the line of communication now, so if anything happens in the school year they know you are willing to listen and help them come up with creative solutions.
- Talk about how to make a new friend. It is best to role play!
-Have a bedtime routine established and follow through on a consistent bedtime.

If your child is anxious about leaving you, the following books come in handy.

The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

Both stories deal with a child being separated from their loved ones, but with the reassuring message of being connected all day through “an invisible string” or a “kissing hand,” is sometimes all it takes to ease your child’s anxiety about being away from you during the day. (It might good for both of you!)  

It's that time of year again!

It is that time of year again, where parents are rushing around finding all the latest deals on school supplies running from Target, Walmart, Office Depot, Staples and more, just to find the perfect set of school supplies, to hopefully start a perfect year. There is a lot to do and a lot to think about! I want to help! 

I have been a school teacher for the last three years in the younger elementary grades. If you have questions or concerns, feel free to ask! My plan is to give you helpful hints to having a great school year, as well as, answer any questions or concerns you may have!