Archive for the 'Parent Resources' Category

Learning is Not a Race!



Learning is not a race.

You don’t have to be the first one finished.

And you don’t have to get everything right the first time.

Being smart means taking the time to do your work right and learn many new things.

Sometimes it will take more than one time to learn.

All that matters is that you keep trying and learning.

-Author Unknown

Can I Skip My Reading Tonight?

(source unknown)

Did you know one of the most prominent indicators of a successful reader is the amount of time spent actually reading? Let’s figure it out — mathematically!

Student A reads 20 minutes five nights of every week;
Student B reads only 4 minutes a night…or not at all!

Step 1: Multiply minutes a night x 5 times each week.
Student A reads 20 min. x 5 times a week = 100 mins./week
Student B reads 4 minutes x 5 times a week = 20 minutes

Step 2: Multiply minutes a week x 4 weeks each month.
Student A reads 400 minutes a month.
Student B reads 80 minutes a month.

Step 3: Multiply minutes a month x 9 months/school year
Student A reads 3600 min. in a school year.
Student B reads 720 min. in a school year.

Student A practices reading the equivalent of ten whole school days a year.
Student B gets the equivalent of only two school days of reading practice.

By the end of 6th grade if Student A and Student B maintain these same reading habits,
Student A will have read the equivalent of 60 whole school days.
Student B will have read the equivalent of only 12 school days.

One would expect the gap of information retained will have widened considerably and so, undoubtedly, will school performance. How do you think Student B will feel about him/herself as a student?

Some questions to ponder:

+ Which student would you expect to read better?
+ Which student would you expect to know more?
+ Which student would you expect to write better?
+ Which student would you expect to have a better vocabulary?
+ Which student would you expect to be more successful in school….and in life?

Making Homework Less of a Hassle

homeworkResistance to homework, while experienced in many households, is usually unique to each family.

As Ellen Klavan, author of Taming the Homework Monster, put it, “If there’s a homework monster in your house, he probably looks a little different from the one next door.”

Klavan cautions parents to avoid escalating homework hassles into “a full fledged power struggle, a battle no one can win and that certainly won’t get the homework done.”

Instead, try these strategies:

Active listening. Klavan points out that seeing things from your child’s point of view doesn’t undermine your authority, but does put you on her side, where she needs to be.

Avoid pressuring your child. Separate your own school experience from hers: she’s different and will likely have some similar and some different aptitudes and interests. Don’t miss a chance to compliment her efforts.

Be firm about limits and don’t accept rude behavior. Be clear about the importance of homework, but don’t get into discussions about how or when it’ll be done during your child’s homework period. Save those discussions for another time.

If homework isn’t completed, or is done poorly, discuss the ramifications with your child. Let your child face the consequences with the teacher.

Motivate. Make a star chart or offer some positive reward for getting homework done independently. Don’t punish what isn’t done by withdrawing a privilege. You’re trying to build on positives, not negatives.

Ask your child for ideas about what would make homework more pleasant. Soft music? No siblings nearby? Having you in the room? A snack? Be respective of her ideas and willing to try them. If one idea doesn’t work, move on to another.

Do homework as a family; but not for your child.

Whatever you do, don’t do your child’s homework for him. Teachers invariably recognize parental input, even if they don’t respond as directly as John’s teacher. She sent home the note, “Nice work, Mrs. S. Now let’s see what John can do.”

How do you recognize that fine line between being helpful and taking over?

First, know your child’s teacher’s policy. Ideally, the teacher will have made clear to both you and your child that confusion is best cleared up the next day at school, or in some cases by calling a classmate. This takes you off the hook and keeps the child in charge, which is what you and the teacher want.

Help your child practice things, such as spelling lists or multiplication tables, but don’t write, read, or compute for her. If she’s having trouble understanding how to do any of these things, the teacher needs to know it right away.

Provide access to resources, but stay on the sidelines. A trip to the library or to buy craft supplies is going to be necessary now and then, but let your child keep ownership of the project, beginning with the planning stages. You might describe how you try to approach problem-solving, say by brainstorming for a day or so, then by bouncing your ideas off your boss or a friend. But don’t give your child specific ideas for her assignment.

Remember, doing too much will lower your child’s self-esteem, not raise her grade.

Source: North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 301 North Wilmington Street, Education Building, Raleigh, NC 27601-2825.

Busy Parents Guide

familyNo matter how busy parents are, there are things they can do to help their children. Parents of first- and second-graders in the “School Transition Study,” conducted by the Harvard Family Research Project, have discovered creative ways to stay involved in their children’s learning and development. Researchers conducting the survey learned important and useful tips to share with busy parents.

Use Your Time Well

  • Organize your time. One single parent of four who is going back to school tries hard to organize her class schedule so that she has time with her children. She is able to be home with them in the afternoons on most school days. In another family where the mother and father both work full time, they are able to organize their work schedules so that one of the parents is always at home with the children. One day a week after school, the children walk to their mother’s workplace where they wait a short time with her until their father picks them up.
  • Do a few things at once. One father arranges to do quiet household chores right beside his daughter who does her homework at the kitchen table. Then the father is there to answer questions. Another mother has her daughter start her homework in the family’s car while they are waiting for her older brother to get out of school. The car is a quiet place where they can talk together.
  • Find other people to help. One single parent who cannot be home in the afternoon or evening has the babysitter help the children with homework. Another single parent who works two jobs during the summer arranges for her son to get taken to his neighborhood summer program every morning by his grandfather, who lives nearby. When the program is over, the mother’s friend takes the child to football practice and then back home, where the mother serves everyone a late dinner.

Balance Work Schedules and Family

  • Do some school things at the beginning of the day. One single father in the study who works a late shift uses the morning when he is home to check over homework with his son. Then he takes him to school. Sometimes he will sit in the classroom and watch or chat with the teacher before he goes to work.
  • Make breakfast the big family meal. Another mother who also works late has her high school-aged daughter make a simple dinner for the younger children. Then the mother cooks a big hot breakfast every morning when she is home before the children go to school.
  • Do things differently on the weekend. One mother leaves for her job every morning before the children are up. But on Sundays she wakes them up early, so she can share time with them before she goes to work. A special thing for this family is eating lunch at the restaurant where the mother works.


Ways to Stay Involved with Your Child’s School When You Are Busy

Being involved with school is an important way to show you care about your child’s learning.

  • How busy parents stay involved at school. One mother, who cannot volunteer because of her work schedule, finds it easier to go to meetings at night, and has been to some school council meetings. Another mother volunteers to help keep things organized in the halls at the end of the school days, when she is there picking up her child. In a family where the mother is taking care of a baby, the father is able to help out in his older son’s classroom two hours a week.

Source: Early Childhood Digest, Sept. 1999, National Institute on Early Childhood Development and Education, and U.S. Dept. of Education, 202/219-1935.

40 Ways To Say “Good For You!”

starEveryone knows that a little praise goes a long way.  But a little praise really needs to be something more than the same few phrases, repeated over and over.  Students need more than the “traditional” teacher comments (good and very good), especially if you are trying to encourage a student.  These are phrases that parents can use, too!  Try these……

That’s really nice.
Wow!  That’s great!
I like the way you are working.
Keep up the good work.
That’s quite an improvement.
Much better.
Keep it up.
What neat work.
You really outdid yourself today.
I am pleased by this kind of work.
Good for you!
I’m proud of you.
You’ve got it now.
You make it look easy.
Your work is coming along nicely.
Excellent work!
I am impressed.
You’re on the right track now.
Very creative.
Now you’ve figured it out.
Superior work!
You’ve made a very good point.
I appreciate your effort.
That’s “A” work for sure.
You put a lot of work into this.
That’s the right answer.
Nice going!
Very interesting ideas here.
Good thinking!
That’s clever.
Super Job!
You should be proud of this.
Congratulations on the good score.
Right on!
Quality effort went into this work.
Fine job!
* Source:  N.S.E.A.

Practice Math Online


Number Cracker Game


Interactive Thermometer

Practice with Measurement   

Measurement with Ruler

Which is Heavier

Telling Time

Gumball Greater and Less Than

Seashell Round Up

Whack a Mole Counting Patterns 

Balloon Probability

Space Arrays 

Read a Magazine Online

Do We Expect Enough From Our Children?

High Expectations = Responsible Adults

By Susan Heid of The Confident Mom

“As adults, we must ask more of our children than they know how to ask of themselves.”   -Dawna Markova PhD., researcher, author

It has become clear to me as I am raising 3 – well…. now hopefully 4 adults, that high but realistic expectations are essential to raising successful adults. With one child about to graduate and move forward with life outside the home, I am so grateful that I listened to my gut and mothering intuition instead of those around me who perhaps were asking me if I was expecting too much.

Parents who set high expectations usually see their children rise to their level of expectation. So setting the standards at high but achievable levels will cause children to step up even further.  I have always taken this approach and have encouraged my children to reach higher because I felt I knew what they were actually capable of accomplishing.

I saw this over and over again – by setting the bar higher it gave my children something to shoot for instead of just being “average.”  (Although there is nothing wrong with average if your child is giving their best).

I am in complete agreement with the philosophy that when a parent’s expectations are low for a child, the child senses it and then behaves accordingly.

High expectations move children forward, even if they don’t always succeed

When we have high expectations of our children, we are essentially saying, ‘I trust you, I think you are a responsible person, I can count on you.’ When a child gets this message over and over again, chances are good they will live up to our expectations.  Children tend to strive to reach those expectations.

This approach actually encourages future goal setting as your child gets older and needs to learn to self-manage. The process of setting goals (or expectations) and failing to meet them as well as succeeding is something I certainly want my children to experience in the loving environment of our home first, before they are cast into the outside world and bombarded with negativity.

Recognize successes

When those small steps happen – celebrate them.  When kids make progress toward those high expectations, let them know you are pleased.  Give praise specifically – don’t just give a “good job”, let them know exactly what you saw in them that resulted in their success.  “You truly put forth extra effort on study for that test, that must have taken some perseverance.” When you can specifically identify a character or choice your child made the praise is received and you are making a deposit into your child that will hopefully increase with interest!

Learn from setbacks

Have you ever had a failure?  Were you able to learn something from that failure?  We can teach our children the same lesson as we help them address the setbacks and the failures. Handling them in a positive light by seeing how we can learn from the mistake and not make it again will give them a critical skill to get through life.

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Encourage your child to examine the situation and look for other actions or choices they could have made in order to make that particular situation a successes.  Do not just tell them what they could have done; ask questions to encourage them in developing problem solving skills.

Children, especially our own, rarely learn from lectures.  Notice how when you start talking to your child their eyes glaze over?  You have great wisdom as a parent, but your child cannot see this. Instead of spewing out a lot of information about how you would have handled a situation, throw out a question to your child.

“What could have you done differently?” or “What are you going to do about that?”

The first time you ask this you may get an “I don’t know.”  But the more you ask using a kind and concerned approach, the more willing your child will be to take a look at situations and examine them.

Start early

Even when your children are very small you can give high expectations.  Do you expect good manners at the dinner table from your 3 year old?  If not, when do you think you will start?  By starting at an earlier age and giving high but realistic expectations for their age and development you will allow them to strive to reach those earlier.

If you do not have high expectations of them, thinking they cannot sit at the table on their bottom to eat their dinner or not throw their food, they certainly will pick up on that and fulfill your prophesy.  Come at it from the other angle and work toward a higher goal.

I came across a wonderful resource to help parents determine areas where they could set higher expectations and encourage their child to learn to be more independent.   It is called, “The Plan – Training Children to Be Independent” by Merrilee Boyack.

When you encourage independence in your child you ultimately create responsible adults.

Reading Comprehension Tips

Here are some tips for families to help their children become better readers. Reading Comprehension Newsletter

Stress-Free Back to School: Setting Up a Homework Zone

schoolhouse1See Mandi Ehman’s article about helping us get organized and minimize homework hassles in her article Setting Up a Homework Zone.

See this webpage: