Archive for the ‘ Education ’ Category

7 Ways to Be a Good Neighbor While Teaching Kindness with Daniel Tiger on Neighbor Day (Sept. 2)

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Every adult who grew up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood remembers the iconic show’s theme song but the idea of being a good neighbor is an important concept that can be taught to kids at the youngest ages. What does it mean to be a good neighbor? One of the fundamental skills involved is kindness. Kindness can be taught in many ways beginning at the youngest ages but it also needs to be modeled by adults and reinforced in a variety of different ways.

To celebrate the upcoming Labor Day Neighbor Day with Daniel Tiger this Monday, September 2, PBSKids provides the following seven suggestions for families to help teach children kindness while getting to know your neighbors and neighborhood better.

  • Go on a neighborhood scavenger hunt with this downloadable PDF from PBS Kids. Featuring words and icons, it’s a great tool to reinforce early literacy skills while taking a walk on the sidewalks near your home.
  • Invite some friends for a neighborhood game day and have them bring their favorite game. Things like flying kites, playing hopscotch, and jumping rope are always better with friends.
  • Have a potluck at a park or central location to spend some time getting to know each other and having a face to face conversation.
  • Create a sidewalk chalk art murals where everyone gets to exercise artistic abilities to make your neighborhood a little more colorful.
  • Arrange a neighborhood book swap/swap meet to share your family’s favorite books with others.
  • Play the Make a Card game on This interactive game gives children a way to create a card for someone they care about and helps them know that everyone in the world, young and old, is a giver and a receiver.
  • Have a Daniel Tiger’s Neighbor Day viewing party on Monday, Sept. 2. In this half hour special, Daniel learns how good it feels to be neighborly and that one kind act can lead to many. His first good deed starts a chain reaction of kindness all around the Neighborhood, culminating with the declaration of “Neighbor Day” where kids will be encouraged to do something nice for a neighbor. If you can’t wait for the special Neighbor Day episodes, episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood are available on and the PBS KIDS Video app.

Additional activities and resources for parents can be found on the Daniel Tiger Neighbor Day website. The Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood parents site also has a lot of good advice from Mister Rogers, including an article on Fred Rogers wisdom on making friends and an article by PBS Parents about helping your child make new friends.

Image courtesy of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood © 2013 The Fred Rogers Company

Add a Comment

4 Classic Stories and Rhymes as Preschool Apps

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

While there’s no substitute for sitting down and reading a book with your child, interactive apps provide them with some hands on learning that reinforce early academic skills. Learning opportunities that take classic stories and favorite rhymes are engaging ways to provide your toddler or preschooler with another way to learn while you’re on the go or suffering through an unbelievably long non-kid friendly wait at the pediatrician’s office.

5 Little Monkeys— One of the most well-known children’s rhymes is now an app available for iPhones, iPads and iPods. The digital version of this favorite helps teaches counting and language through beautiful graphics and sounds. Just like the rhyme, the app features repetition to help develop cognitive skills like memorization, reasoning and comprehension. Preschoolers will love rhyming, singing, and acting along with the monkeys as they also learn musical skills such as pitch control, volume, and voice inflection. 5 Little Monkeys is $2.99 from iTunes for iOS devices.

Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf— Preschoolers who are familiar with the story of the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf will love the interactive version of this story app. Kids can use the microphone to huff and puff just like the wolf, tap on items inside the house to get a better look, or tilt the mobile device to animate the pigs and make them engage in various activities like jumping rope or swinging.  Parents will appreciate that this app supports learners with different levels of reading skills by allowing children to read the story independently or have it read to them. The narrator’s voice can also be changed from male to female to mix it up and provide gender balance for children. This app is $3.99 from iTunes for iOS devices and also available for $2.99 from both the Amazon and nook ($2.99) app stores.

Little Red Riding Hood—  If the predictable tale of Little Red Riding Hood is getting a bit old, let them come up with their own story with a different ending through the Nosy Crow version of the app. Young storytellers get to create their own story by choosing from multiple paths along the way result in a new, fully-animated adventure with different endings every time. There are also nine different games and activities that are embedded in the app to keep interest high throughout the story. Little Red Riding Hood is $5.99 from iTunes for iOS devices.

Pooh’s Birthday Surprise— Winnie the Pooh fans will love joining the delightful inhabitants of the Hundred-Acre Woods in an interactive storybook that focuses on early literacy and pre-math skills. Kids ages 3-5 join Piglet, Owl, Eeyore, and Tigger to plan and celebrate Pooh’s birthday where they work to identify and extend simple patterns, problem solve, develop their vocabulary, and story comprehension skills. Pooh’s Birthday Surprise is $4.99 from iTunes for iOS devices.

Family with touch pad at home via Shutterstock

Add a Comment

Everything Parents Need to Know About Cyberbullying

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Last year my third grade daughter had an online component to her homework that included a chat feature. While the kids were excited about their first exposure to social networking, it was something that I watched with a wary eye knowing that innocent conversations of saying hi could quickly turn and result in hurt feelings. Luckily the kids and the teacher were good digital citizens and their interactions were innocent but cyberbullying is real and something for kids, parents, and teachers to be aware of, especially if class assignments include an online chat component.

Here’s a primer on cyberbullying- what it is, how do you know if your child is a victim, the kinds of things we need to teach our kids, and what we can do to maintain digital wellness in our families while we teach our kids to be responsible digital citizens.

What is cyberbullying?

  • Bullying behaviors are the same on or offline. It is hurting others’ feelings online and ranges from people making jokes that are hurtful to others, teasing, or even when someone logs into someone else’s account and pretends to be them.
  • Cyberbullying can happen at any time and be very public because lots of people can see and share public messages online.
  • Kids can use more hurtful and extreme language on and offline because they can hide behind the veil of an avatar. They say things they might not say in person because they feel they’re more anonymous.
  • The only main difference between cyberbullying and bullying is the kind of harm that can be caused. Bullying involves physical harm but both types cause kids emotional harm that leads to discomfort, embarrassment, feelings of helplessness, sadness, and anger.


How do you know if your child is a victim of cyberbullying? Parents know their child best and can often spot when something may be off but the National Crime Prevention Council encourages parents to look for the following behaviors:

  • Emotionally a child becomes shy or withdrawn, depressed, moody, agitated, anxious, stressed or aggressive.
  • Academic changes include not wanting  to go to school, skipping school, lack of interest in school and a drop in grades.
  • Socially and behaviorally, a child isolates themselves from others. These behaviors can include not using the computer to log on to favorite social networks, changes in eating and sleeping habits, changes friends, and physically hurting themselves.


What can you teach your child to prevent them from being a perpetrator or victim? Help your children be emotionally well in order to be digitally well. Teach them respect and create open lines of communication so they know it’s ok to come to a parent or adult without the threat of always getting in trouble. Here are important concepts to teach kids of all ages:

  • Empathy. Kids who are empathetic can identify with someone’s feelings are less likely to be perpetrators of cyberbullying.
  • Help them understand where the line is between funny and mean. This line can be crossed in a nanosecond without being intentionally harmful but misunderstandings happen. Instead of letting the problem fester online, take the conversation offline and have your child call a friend or talk face to face to clear up the misunderstanding and preserve the friendship.
  • Make sure they talk to someone, even if it’s not you. Talking to a responsible adult- parent of a friend, aunt or uncle, teacher, counselor, coach, etc.- is better than not talking to anyone. Discuss who the responsible adults are in your child’s life that they might be able to trust with any information.
  • Encourage kids to stand up and get involved. Cyberbullying often involves the bully, victim, and a lot of bystanders. Kids need to be brave and get involved to make the bully stop by not engaging with them online while seeking help offline. Help them become an upstander- not a bystander. Encourage them to get involved.


What else can parents do?

  • Set expectations. The minimum age for being on social networks is 13 and many kids clamor for accounts for their 13th birthdays. It’s ultimately up to the parents to decide whether their kids are ready but if they are, it’s important to set expectations about why you’re going to monitor their FB page. Parents can tell their children that they may have a Facebook account as long as I have the password. A tool like MinorMonitor can be helpful since it automatically tells parents what kids post and who their friends are so they can keep an eye on things.
  • Know that these conversations aren’t just happening on the computer. With mobile devices, cyberbullying can easily happen on a smartphone, a connected iPod Touch, or tablet. Parents can tell their kids that a phone is a privilege and if they’re paying for service, they have the right to review texts manually or use apps like those from, which gives parents easy-to-digest text and app reports and the power to block contacts and phone access, and support and resources, like a phone contract, which helps get conversations started.


Additional resources for parents include:

  • for parents to become educated about cyberbullying. Features helpful tips on starting conversations, what to look for, how to help your kids
  • is a program by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that helps parents and kids navigate issues like cyberbullying but also sexting, social networking, online and mobile safety, and smartphones in age appropriate ways. The site is broken up for kids, tweens, and teens and does a fantastic job of presenting information to kids in a way they’ll understand.


More helpful articles from

Teen working on laptop in bed in the morning via Shutterstock

Add a Comment

Preschool Play vs. Bullying? 4 Things for Parents Should Look For

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Earlier this week I was interviewed by a Michigan morning radio show about cyberbullying and in my conversation with the hosts about bullying behaviors, I discussed how both result in hurt feelings. The hosts asked me what age we need to teach our kids about cyberbullying. I responded by saying that we need to teach our kids about what it means to be a good friend from the time they’re very young.

The concept of being a good friend is one that kids understand as toddlers and certainly as preschoolers. Being nice by sharing one’s toys, inviting others to play, and displaying empathy are core concepts that even the youngest kids can understand. They know what it’s like to have their feelings hurt by others who tease, exclude others through their play, and are aggressive. If we teach our kids about what it means to be a good friend to others, they’re more likely to stand up for each other and less likely to engage in bullying behaviors.

I used to think that bullying was something that our family would have to deal with as our children got older and was shocked a couple years ago when our then 7 year old daughter shared that her little brother was being bullied by preschoolers in his class.

“Mommy,” she said very softly, as we settled in to read our bedtime story.  “Brother told me I could tell you that two boys at school are calling him names like baby.”

Bullying beginning in preschool?  It’s not unheard of and it’s good to nip it in the bud in the early years before it can get worse as kids grow older.

While name calling and taunting may have been part of our playground experience as kids, there’s a heightened awareness about any behavior that might be considered an act of aggression towards. Kids are being empowered to take a stand against bullying even if they are part of those developmental childhood impulses that come with age.

While kids may be kids, an article in says “in some cases, the behavior is a precursor to more serious forms of bullying that crop up during the school-aged year.”  It May Come as a Shock to Many Parents to Learn that Bullying Happens in Preschool also reminds parents that:

“Remember that there is a difference between play, which builds imagination, develops coordination, and teaches children about rules and responsibility, and bullying, which is chronic, frequent behavior that has, at its core, the intention to harm and intimidate.”

With kids getting ready to head back to school, here’s what you need to be aware of in terms of bullying along with the resources that can help if you find yourself in the same situation as I was in with my preschool-aged son.

How do you know when play turns into bullying?’s Teasing and Bullying No Laughing Matter encourages parents to look physical and emotional signs of stress.  The article contains a comprehensive list of warning signs.

Now that you know your child is being bullied, what do you do?‘s article called Bullying in Preschool: What Parents Need to Know provide signs that relate to preschool ages and a step-by-step guide to handling it. Besides being knowledgeable parents, we also need to know these 5 Ways to Empower Children Against Bullying.

What if the bullying continues?  Raising Children Network encourages parents to talk to your child’s preschool and involve the teacher but also says that involving the bully, or their parents, can often aggravate the situation.  Instead, Bullying at Preschool: Helping Your Child encourages supporting your child at home and teaching coping strategies for bullying.

Does your child know someone being bullied and is wondering how to help?  Eyes on Bullying has a list of things for bystanders to do including standing up for the person being bullied and helping the victim walk away but my favorite is “Your involvement makes a difference.  Don’t just stand by and watch quietly.”

Sad child with a brick wall via Shutterstock

Add a Comment

Tags: | Categories: Education, Preschool

3 Easy Ways to Organize School Year Photos and Mementos

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

The start of a new school year is always so exciting and as parents, we take our job of chronicling our child’s year through photos and mementos seriously. But sometimes life gets in the way and it’s easier to say we’re going to do something about the many digital photos, the stacks of artwork, certificates, and precious pieces of academic work than to actually do it. Here are three easy ways you can organize school year photos and mementos with ease as you go so those many precious moments and keepsakes can be cherished for years to come.

Tapsbook for iPad is a free app just launched with rave reviews and as a busy parent of two elementary aged children, I can see why. Tapsbook is a all-in-one app that handles photo viewing, photo management and storytelling that automates the laborious task of sifting through photos from many different sources and pulls them together in one place. Simple gestures can be used to quickly rate my photos and create a yearbook with favorites that can be instantly shared and accessed even offline. Tapsbook is free to download through the iTunes store and users can store up to 500 photos for free. An additional 4GB of storage can be purchased for $2.99/month. In addition to digital photo organization, Tapsbook looks to add a printed photobook service in the next couple months.

School Years by MomAgenda is an easy and effective solution for families that provides single place to keep mementos from your child’s K-12 school career. The spiral bound book features a separate folder for each year in school, has a place to store each year’s report cards, class pictures, art samples, writing samples, and more. Kids enjoy recording special information about their teacher, friends, and favorite after school activities to create a treasured keepsake. Parents love how easy this is to use and what a pleasure it is to open up and read year after year as children grow older.

PicStitch app for iPhone is a simple way to take your many photos from a single event and create beautiful collages. PicStitch features a variety of different layouts, ability to add photos with just a tap and edit them right from the app before publishing to your social networks or saving them to your phone’s album. Parents can quickly share moments with friends and family through their Facebook wall or save them to be printed or incorporated into a Tapsbook album. The free version features 70 different layouts to choose from but the paid version ($1.99) is ad-free and provides 232 layouts, 13 different photo aspect ratios, high resolution export, and more for an investment of less than $2.

Portrait Of Couple Looking At Photo Album via Shutterstock

Add a Comment