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school ’ Category
Tuesday, October 8th, 2013
When my daughter started kindergarden, she hated reading. There I said it.
Her teacher always sent her home with books from which she was to read for at least 20 minutes every night. But whenever she sat down with a book, I’d watch her body slump and her mind wander to far away thoughts of magical moving pictures from the glorious TV in her room.
She was no stranger to reading before she started school. She had an entire library in her room that I filled with all of the classics. I’d been reading to her since she was in the womb, and she’s always loved reading hour, which we have every Saturday and Sunday after lunch. But this was different. Being in kindergarden meant that she had to decipher the strange letters on the page on her own, and that was no fun.
She once started to say “I hate rea-” to which I gasped and forbid her from ever having such thoughts. As an English major and a lover of books, this was like a punch in the stomach for me. I felt a sense of loss for all of the amazing stories she might miss out on; all of the lives she wouldn’t live if this feeling continued. Dramatic, I know, but it’s really how I felt.
So of course I did what every wise, all-knowing mother does when she encounters an obstacle: I called my mom.
“Being a mom means being a teacher,” my mom said. “Put your teaching pants on.”
Apparently moms have all kinds of pants in an invisible mom-wardrobe that we just have to whip out and pull on when called for. So I did. I pulled on my teaching pants, and they weren’t comfortable, but they fit.
After watching her read each day, I took to the chalkboard in her room and made lists of word families that I noticed gave her trouble.
Practicing “ou” brought mountains and clouds to life on the page for her. I bought books that were fun, like We Are In a Book, by Mo Willems. She cracked up reading that one and asked for more of his books. One Saturday I encouraged her to write a letter to her favorite author, and a week later she received her first piece of mail – a response from Mo Willems himself. He thanked her and promised to keep writing “Funny jokes to make her laugh.”
It took some time, but soon enough, she was reading books at home that were well beyond the reading level that her teacher was assigning.
Now as a 1st grader, new books have become rewards for completing her chores and finishing other books.
Some of her favorites are Amelia Bedelia, and The Show Must Go On. She recently finished The Adventures of Captain Underpants (in 2 days) and I challenged her to read Wayside School is Falling Down in 1 week. On the line – the entire Captain Underpants box set.
I’d be lying if I said that my daughter loves every book that she picks up. She’ll still swap a book for the TV if the story isn’t funny enough, but she’s come a long way from the days of (almost) hating to read. And I get to put the teaching pants back on the hanger during reading hour.
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Books, challenges, education, kindergarden, learning, learning trouble, love of learning, reading, school | Categories:
GoodyBlog, school, Your Child
Tuesday, September 10th, 2013
If you’re a shutterbug and you have a child who’s heading (back) to school, consider picking up a School Days Kit from Hallmark’s Pics ‘n’ Props line. Also featured in the Goodybag section of our September 2013 issue, the kit comes with fun, chalkboard-themed photo props (a chalkboard and inserts for preschool through 12th grade) that your child can hold up for the camera each year on the first day of school. A photo album is also included, along with journal cards for your child to write down his first-day thoughts.
After taking first day photos, don’t forget to post them to Instagram and include #parentsbts. We’re regramming select photos on the Parents Instagram page.
Don’t have a child in school? There are also kits for pregnant moms (Baby on the Way, to keep track of week-by-week growing bellies, and Boy Watch Me Grow! and Girl Watch Me Grow!, to keep track of growing babies). Or celebrate first birthdays (with gender-specific color banners) and upcoming holidays.
The creative kits are great for moms who are short on time or who lack DIY know-how — so start snapping away!
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baby, back to school, back to school 2013, birthday, first birthday, hallmark, milestones, Pregnancy, school | Categories:
GoodyBlog, school, Time for Fun
Thursday, September 5th, 2013
BY STEPHANIE WOOD
If you’ve got 10 minutes, you can help researchers find the answer to that critical question. Let’s face it: We’re all worried about how omnipresent tech devices are going to impact our kids’ classroom performance, along with other modern-day pressures like jam-packed schedules and increasingly competitive sports. To gain some insight, Parents has partnered with a consortium of researchers at Brown University School of Medicine, Children’s National Medical Center, and New England Center for Pediatric Psychology in an effort to find 50,000 parents of children in grades K-12 to take part in The Learning Habit Study. The survey has been designed to examine how media use, family routines, and parenting style all conspire to help or hinder a child’s ability to learn. “Our goal is to provide parents, teachers, and pediatricians information on which family routines and behaviors improve academic success, increase social skills, and contribute to emotional balance in children,” notes lead researcher Robert M. Pressman, Ph.D.
The project originally began in 2012, when Dr. Pressman’s team conducted two surveys on homework and family routines. The surveys were administered to 1,000 parents in the waiting rooms of 12 pediatric offices. Initial results found—yep, you guessed it—a link between nighttime media use (meaning any electronic device with a screen) and a decrease in grades, opening a Pandora’s Box of concerns.
We all want some answers and advice with science behind it on dealing with our own digital natives. Do your part by taking the survey—it’s available online until October 31, 2013. (Bonus: Once you answer the questions, you can enter a sweepstakes to win $500.) Then stay tuned for the results, which will be published next August in the book The Learning Habit.
Click here to participate in the survey!
Image: Boy with glasses, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, August 15th, 2013
Last year when my daughter started kindergarten, her lunch menu was the last thing on my mind. Every night before bed I would slap together a sandwich and my job was done, until one week in when she asked, “Why do the other kids get to have pasta and rice for lunch?” Being the inexperienced lunch packer that I was, I thought that I couldn’t pack any food that needed to be warmed because she wouldn’t have access to a microwave, so I made cold pasta salad which was warm by lunch time and thrown away.
Now as a back-to-school veteran, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to make the same mistakes that I made. With Fit & Fresh kid’s lunch sets, no soggy pasta salad are on the menu. Comment below to win a Fit & Fresh Back-to-School Lunch Survival Kit, which includes one Gabby Hoot Insulated Lunch Bag, one Liam Comic Yo Insulated Lunch Bag, one set of 4 2-Cup Containers (these can be chilled), and 2-Lunch Pak Carriers and one 4-Pack of Cool Coolers Ice Packs.
Post up to one comment a day for your chance to be one of 3 lucky winners!
Read the official rules here. Goody luck!
Congratulations to our winners Jill Sonnier Price, Daisy Diaz, and Diana Harris Herrero!
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Monday, April 1st, 2013
Editor’s Note: This post is courtesy of National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring success for all individuals with learning disabilities.
Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) are intended to help children with learning disabilities and special education needs reach educational goals more easily, but they’re often a mystery to parents. A recent study found that schools nationwide could do more to explain the IEP process, which are a federal right of every student. Below are 4 pointers on how to start the IEP process:
Make a Request In Writing: A comment or request made verbally in passing to a teacher or school administrator technically didn’t happen. Remember always to place requests for an IEP evaluation or changes to your child’s current IEP in writing, whether by email or letter. Notify the school administrator in charge of the Committee on Special Education (CSE) in your school district.
Know Your Rights: After you’ve submitted an IEP evaluation letter of request, every school district nationwide is required by law, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), to respond within 10 business (or school) days. The school must provide you with written documentation explaining (1) the parents’ need for consent to conduct an educational evaluation’ (2) how the a determination of eligibility will be made; (3) the documentation needed to identify the existence of a Specific Learning Disability (SLD); and (4) confirmation that parents are invited to participate in the IEP process.
Be Patient: Your child’s school has 60 business days to complete the evaluation, which includes an interview with parents, a conference with the student, observations of the student, and analysis of the student’s performance (attention, behavior, work completion, tests, class work, homework, etc.). Legally the CSE (or IEP team) must include “you” the parent, plus at least one general educator teacher (even if your child is in one general education class) and one special education teacher in the meeting.
Speak Up: The IEP team is charged with developing, reviewing, and revising your child’s IEP at least once a year by law and more often if you are dissatisfied with your child’s lack of progress. If you’re not satisfied, speak up (and write emails or letters) as often as you need in order to get results! Remember that you are an equal partner with the school in the IEP process, and the IEP document is intended as a flexible, but binding, agreement that guides everyone involved to ensure the highest quality instruction and free ,educational services in the least restrictive environment.
For more resources on IEPs from NCLD.org, check out Tips For A Successful IEP Meeting, Why And How To Read Your Child’s IEP, and IEP Meeting Conversation Stoppers.
Image: Concentrated school children being occupied with a task via Shutterstock.
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Friday, January 18th, 2013
As we explain in this story, there’s debate among certain groups over whether pediatricians should be allowed to discuss gun safety with parents. The quick version: Pediatricians want to determine how safe a child’s home is, and asking whether there’s a gun–and whether it’s stored unloaded, and in a locked cabinet, and in a place separate from ammunition–is a logical part of that conversation. Gun advocates say it’s an invasion of privacy and a threat to the Second Amendment, and in many states there are efforts to punish doctors who initiate this discussion with large fines or jail time or both.
You may have heard that yesterday, a 7-year-old boy brought a semiautomatic pistol to his prep school in Queens, New York. (That is not him in the photo.) It hasn’t been revealed yet whether the gun was loaded, but the boy did bring the gun’s magazine, filled with bullets, as well as a plastic bag with at least another seven rounds of ammunition. According to the story I read in the New York Times, the police believe that the boy’s mom somehow found out about the gun, and arrived at the school around 9:30 a.m. under the pretense of taking her son to a dentist’s appointment. “It would appear that the intention was just to get the gun back and get it out of the school,” said one officer. But when her son told her he put it in a classmate’s backpack, she alerted the principal. The gun and ammo were found right away (they were in her son’s bag after all), but the school was put on lockdown for several hours. An 8-year-old was quoted as saying, “They made us turn off the lights and hide behind the teacher’s desk. I almost cried. I was afraid I was going to get shot.”
There are lots of unanswered questions at this point, but it seems likely that the mother–who was arrested this morning and charged with criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child, among other things–had no idea that her son was carrying a gun and bullets in his backpack when he went to school. I can’t help but wonder: If we were more open to the idea of having pediatricians talk about gun safety, maybe those conversations would be more commonplace… and parents would have their eyes opened to the precautions they must take if they have a gun in their home.
Photo: Serious little boy with the big black pistol via Shutterstock.
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Sunday, December 16th, 2012
I tried hard to shield my children, ages 4 and 7, from what happened in Connecticut, taking the advice of so many mental health professionals who advise telling young kids as little as possible about the events. But as I’m sure lots of you experienced yourselves, it’s nearly impossible, even if you kept the TV off all weekend, as we have. For our family, the radio interrupted 24/7 holiday music with condolences to the families of Newtown; going online offered a glimpse of CNN’s home page; and even a trip to the bagel store, where three piles of newspapers sat by the door, revealed too much. So like many parents, we’re having some tough conversations and doing the best we can.
What I’m concerned about now is what may come up at school tomorrow. My 2nd-grader’s teacher has notified us that she’ll say nothing of the events, though if it comes up she’ll discuss it as briefly and simply as possible, which I appreciate. I feel like I need to say a little more to my daughter before she returns to school, though, and I was glad when I got an email from a friend who works with the New Jersey nonprofit Good Grief, which helps children and teens cope with loss. She forwarded these words of guidance from Good Grief’s associate executive director, Joe Primo; perhaps you’ll find them useful, too.
Having a conversation about the shooting this weekend is probably a smart and important thing to do before school on Monday. Classmates will have their own interpretation of the events; many of those narratives will have been learned this weekend from the media and the adults in their lives. There is not a lot we control about these events, but we can play a big role in how our children hear and come to understand the events. We can best support our children by having an honest dialogue that helps build coping skills and taps into their inherent resiliency. Below is a script you might try.
Adult: So, Alex, have you heard about the sad thing that happened to a school in Connecticut?
Don’t assume Alex doesn’t already know. She may have picked it up already.
Adult: Somebody hurt a lot of children with a gun. It’s very sad. Children died.
WAIT to see how the child responds.
Adult: I think a lot of your friends and teachers will be talking about it on Monday. I would like us to talk about it too.
Allow the conversation to happen and be spontaneous. Here are some things you should know about reactions:
- No child ever responds the same
- Children may have an increased sense of fear for their safety
- Children may be afraid to return to school or name “scary kids” in their school
- Child process information in fragments. They may take it in and then quickly move onto something else.
Adult: I wonder how these things happen.
Wait to see if the child has ideas of her own.
Adult: Assure the child that their school (name administrators and teachers) works hard to keep them safe. You can encourage them to listen to their teachers about safety protocol. Assure them of your love and allow them to explore their reactions.
Often times, being together and offering each other love are the most meaningful things we can tell our children.
For more on the Sandy Hook tragedy, visit the following on Parents.com:
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Friday, December 14th, 2012
It’s hard to find the right words—or really any words—to describe what happened today. For what happened today at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut, was every parent’s worst nightmare, made real and flashed on the TV news. What I see is a school that’s virtually identical to my daughters’ idyllic little elementary school, and parents and kids who look like our friends. And words fail me as I think of my friends rushing toward the school, and a scenario where some walk out, teary-eyed and clutching their children close—and some don’t. What are the right words for that?
There will be much to talk about in the days and weeks to follow, as more information comes out about what occurred, and who was lost, and why this happened. As we begin to dissect our country’s deep failings: Our inability to pass gun laws that keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them; our lack of care for the mentally ill (for surely, a person who would plot and plan to attack children with an arsenal of assault weapons must be mentally ill); and our inability to keep even our youngest children safe from harm. And as we, hopefully, push for the changes we need to make to prevent another Columbine, another Virginia Tech, and now, another Sandy Hook.
Right now, these are the only words I can find: Our kids deserve a better world than this. And we need to work together to make it happen.
For information and resources on dealing with the tragedy, visit the following on Parents.com:
Image: fasphotographic /Shutterstock.com
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