Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Teachers' Choices Project: K-2

The Teachers' Choices Project 2009 illuminates the idea that good book reach out and tap us on the shoulder to get our attention. Each year since 1989, the International Reading Association's Teachers' Choice project has identified outstanding trade books, published for children and adolescents, that teachers find exceptional for curriculum use. Parents, also, will find books good for reading aloud. Below are some of the books recommended:

Grades K-2, Ages 5-8

1. The Best Story, by Eileen Spineli. Illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf
2. Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation, by Andrea Davis Pinkey. Illustrated by Brian Pinkney
3. First Dog Fala, by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk. Illustrated by Michael G. Montgomery
4. Frogs, by Nic Bishop
5. Grace for President, by Kelly DiPucchio. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
6. Looking Closely Along the Shore, by Frank Seranfini
7. Planting Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai, by Chaire A. Nivola
8. Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival, by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery. Illustrated by Jean Cassels
9. Yoko Writes Her Name, by Rosemary Wells
10. Manfish: a Story of Jacues Cousteau, b Jennifer Berne. Illustrated by Eric Puybaret

Tomorrow I will list the intermediate readers choice grades 3-5.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cure For Cabin Fever

How do you keep your children entertained on bad-weather days? According to Family Fun Magazine, March 2009 issue, when your family gets tired of winter or rainy weather try some of the ideas listed below:

1. Have a picnic in the living room. The kids can change into shorts and T-shirts, and you can prepare summer foods. (Examples: watermelon, potato salad, sub sandwiches). Then spread a tablecloth on the floor and pretend you are eating at a park. The meal will be a lovely diversion, as well as a reminder of summer's return.

2. Stage a mobile scavenger hunt. You can pile into the care for a mobile scavenger hunt. Before you leave, draw a simple picture of the things they can find (Example: cows, an airplane, two blue cars, red lights) on one piece of paper. As you drive, the children check off the items they spot. The change of scenery is good for the kids and you too!

3. Put activity books to new use. You can play "Musical coloring book." Just arrange the kid's coloring and activity books in a circle in the family or living room, then start a CD. The kids and you walk quickly around the books until Dad or someone not playing cuts the music. When the happens, everyone does an activity from the book they are closest to. The kids will like this game.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Counting Is For The Birds

According to February 2010, issue of Teaching Children Mathematics, connecting mathematical thinking to the natural world can be as simple as looking up to the sky. Volunteer bird watchers around the world help scientist gather data about bird populations. Counting all the birds in a large flock is impossible, so reasonable estimates are made using certain techniques. Scientists draw on these estimates to describe trends in the populations of certain species and identify areas for further research.

Your child's classroom can learn to count birds as a science project or you can do it as a family project. Estimation is a fundamental aspect of developing strong number sense. Your child can get the feel for a large number as he/she attempts, compares, and discuss different estimation techniques. Below are some skill your child or child's classroom will gain from estimating and counting birds:

1. Skip counting
2. Draw on visualization
3. multiplication
4. Counting by large numbers
5. Collect and organize data
6. Spatial relationships
7. A sense of more, less, or the same
8. Decision making

You or your child's classroom teacher might want to collect bird data and send it to scientist as a part of the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology Project Feeder Watch ( The website for the great backyard bird count has general information about birding and is accessible resource for teachers, parents, and students (

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Safe Food: How Can I Protect My Family

According to an April 2010 article in "Better Homes and Gardens", food borne diseases from bacteria such as E.coli, and salmonella now cause 76 million people to fall ill each year. While several government agencies play a role in monitoring our food, most ow what we eat hasn't been tested before it reaches our plate. The good news is you can avoid most food-borne illness by taking easy, everyday precautions when you cook. Below are some suggest on how you can protect your family from food-borne bacteria:

1. Check expiration dates. Also, buy perishable that have been kept cold and have no obvious bruising or cracks.

2. Opt for local food. By local produce when you can. That is still no guarantee safe. No matter where you shop, pay attention when recalls are announced.

3. Wash you hands. About 20% of us don't remember to wash our hands or kitchen surfaces before preparing food.

4. Don't cross-contaminate. An example would be when bacteria from raw chicken travels to salad greens. Prep produce and ready-to-eat foods first, then handle raw meat or fish. Use separate utensils and cutting boards for each.

5. Clean those utensils. If you need to reuse a plate or knife after it touches raw meat, first clean it with hot soapy water.

6. Wash produce. Use running water and a vegetable brush to scrub firm types, like potatoes.

7. Defrost in fridge. Defrosting it in the fridge keeps the outside cold enough to inhibit the the growth of bacteria.

8. Test for doneness. You can't rely on 20/20 vision when it comes to killing bacteria. For example steaks and roast need to reach 145 degrees F; poultry should hit 165 degree F.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Eat Together Healthy Forever

When I was growing up we had dinner every evening at five o'clock and you better not be late! Now a days families are lucky if they eat as a family even once a week. With so many cooking shows on TV and 30 minute meals in cookbooks, there are no excuses for not eating and sitting down together as much as possible.

It might be a struggle to get everyone to the dinner table for a family meal, but keep at it, your hard work is paying off, according to an article from "Better Homes and Gardens", March 2010 article. Adolescents who participated in regular family meals five or more times a week reported healthier diets than kids from families who rarely eat together. Their meal patterns were better too, setting them up for a healthier adult future. Below are ways to get the family to sit together for meals:

Involve everyone in the process:

1. Let everyone suggest their favorite meals.

2. Make a weekly menu together.

3. Cook together or pair up with different family members.

4. Have weekly or monthly cook-off competitions.

5. Older children can try and cook their own meals.

6. With everyone participating cooking will hopefully be more exciting and inviting

7. Try Annabel Karmel's new, "Top 100 Finger Foods", for easy kid-teen-tween friendly recipes.

8. Determine that dinnertime will be a relaxing time to talk and enjoy each others' company.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Should I Go On Tour Through The Schools?

Before choosing a school for your child you definitely should tour the school first. According to "A Parent's Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible for Your Child K-6 Grades", you should ask the principal to go on tour while the school and children are working. Below are some of the things you should be looking for while touring:

1. Is the building clean and inviting?
2. Do you feel a sense of peace when you enter the building?
3. Do the children seem happy?
4. Do the teachers and staff seem happy?
5. Do you feel safe?
6. Are there children's work in the halls and classroom and is it quality work? (elementary only)
7. Is this a place my child would be happy attending?

To read more suggestions on touring a possible school, purchase my book, "A Parent's Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible K-6 Grades", at or .

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What Should I Consider When Choosing A School For My Child?

According to "The Mom Book Goes To School", you must be an informed consumer when choosing the right school for your child. With so many options, this can prove to be an overwhelming task. The choices are numerous. (Example: public, private, parochial, magnet, charter). A school may have great academics, a beautiful campus, and sound reputation and still not be the right fit for your child. Decide whether the school can address your child's needs and learning style fully. Be sure the school has a philosophy that reflects the educational approach that you feel will be best for your child. Below are some suggestions on finding the best school for your child:

1. Does your school district give choices between public schools?

2. Look at your child's social skills carefully and determine whether he/she makes friends easily. This should determine whether a large or smaller environment would be best.

3. Would you prefer a single-sex or coeducation institution?

4. Would you prefer the school to be religiously affiliated?

5. Explore charter schools or magnet programs and investigate how successful the programs are and will it match your child's needs.

6. How large are the classes?

7. What academics and programs does the school offer?

8. Does the school philosophy and approach to education mesh with your values and goals?

9. How does the school measure individual achievement and progress?

10. How rigorous are the classes?

11. Does the school feel like a community?

12. How diverse are the student body and faculty?

13. What are the average standardized test scores?

14. Make sure your child is a part of the decision making, although the final decision should be yours.

For more information on choosing the right school you can purchase my book, "A Parent's Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible K-6 Grades", at or .

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Know The School District!

In the book, "A Parent's Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible for Your Child K-6" Grades, it states that if you are relocating and and have not purchased or rented a property, a critical consideration is LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. Especially as it pertains to your child's education and resale value. Below are some questions you need answered about a school system before committing to a property:

1. Academics offered
2. Graduation rate
3. Drop out rate
4. Suspension rate and types of violations
5. Number of students in the average classroom
6. Extra-curricular activities offered (Examples: athletic, clubs, academic teams)
7. Is there after school care?
8. Is there good parent involvement in the schools? (Examples: PTA membership, tutoring, book fairs)
9. Number of scholarships awarded to seniors
10. Percentage of students that attend college

For more questions you need answered about the school district read my book, "A Parent's Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible for Your Child K-6 Grades". You can order it at or .

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Important Things To Do For A Successful School Year!

In my book, "A Parent's Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible for Your Child K-6 Grades", I list some of the most important things you can do to have a successful child in school. Below are some suggestions from my book:

1. Make sure your child reads or is read to at home every day.

2. Review your child's homework every evening.

3. Don't hesitate to get turtoring or one-on-one instruction if your child is struggling with a lesson or assignment.

4. Make sure your child reviews and knows all the skills from the grade he/she is leaving.

5. If possible let your child work on the skills through the summer for the grade they are going into so they can get a head start.

6. Turn the TV off during the week or limit the time he/she is allow to watch it.

7. Make sure your child has chores that must be completed, so he/she have a sense of responsibility and independence.

8. Encourage your child to participate in extra curricular activities that they have natural talent or interest in. Such activities will develop a well rounded individual with good self-esteem.

9. Be involved and attend as many school events and extra curricular activities. This will show your child that you value their education and him/her.

10. Be a role model. Your child is watching you. If you value education and want your child to have certain moral values, live it!

To read more about my book, "A Parent's Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible for Your Child K-6 Grades", order my book at or .

Monday, March 22, 2010

How Can I Raise A Bookworm?

According to Laura Hahn, to foster a love of reading, keep reading together! Even if your kids can breeze through the Percy Jackson series solo, reading aloud can expand your children's vocabulary, and your conversations can help them understand and enjoy more. " This is how you can raise a confident, lifelong reader," says Diane W. Frankenstein, author of Reading Together: Everything You Need to Know to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read. Yet the number of kids who are read to every day drops significantly at age 9, reports a recent Scholastic study. So, regardless of your child's age or comprehension level, continue to read together ritual. Maximize your time with these three strategies:

1. Pick on-par books. Shelve books that seem way over your child's head. It's tempting to push his/her literary limits, but the goal is understanding and enjoying.

2. Listen to audio books. It's not cheating, really; it's a terrific way to engage kids in a good yarn. Press "Play" during car rides or after dinner.

3. Revisit favorites. A second read is a great chance to discuss subtleties and encourage him/her to move beyond just the plot.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

How To Manage TV Munchies

According to an article in, "Good Housekeeping", March 2010 issue, junk-food commercials work, perhaps too well. In a recent Yale University study, kids who saw snack-food ads scarfed 45% more munchies in front of the tube than those who didn't see them. Keep your child from chowing down with these tips from lead researcher Jennifer Harris, PhD. Below are the suggestions on how to managing TV munchies.

1. Set a rule and follow it. Establish that there will be noshing in front of the television period. (And that includes you, too) But if you decide occasional snacks are OK then...

2. Keep containers in the kitchen. Instead of bringing out the entire package of pretzels, serve pre-measured portions in bowls or plastic bags.

3. Explain the issue. Let kids know how ads can trigger mindless munching and that TV doesn't solve the problem. Research reveals that even a brief glimpse of a commercial can have an impact.

4. Encourage ad-free entertainment. Most food ads targeting kids are on Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Saturday-morning cartoons. Parents (especially of young kids) should suggest PBS and DVDs over commercial TV.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Smile Savers!

I decide to write about family health on Saturdays and Sundays and Monday - Friday write about educational issues. This article is about dental care.
Brushing, flossing, and eating right keep your teeth strong and promote overall health according to "goodhealth", in "Good Housekeeping Magazine", March 2010 issue. Dental health is extremely important for everyone in the family especially young children who need to get in good dental hygiene habits. The following suggestions were made to keep a beautiful and healthy smile:

1. Make it tea for your teeth. Fruit drinks, sodas, and citrus juices (like orange) have sugar and acids that wear away tooth enamel. The better dental choice is just plain water or tea without milk, lemon, or sugar.

2. Listen to your hygienist. In a two-week study of identical twins, on brushed and flossed, the other simply brushed. The flossers developed significantly less plaque-causing bacteria than their brush-only siblings.

3. Spoon up some culture. In a new study, people consumed at least 1/4 cup of yogurt or a lactic acid drink every day were less than half as likely to have serious gum disease. The magic ingredient? Probiotics, researchers believe.

4. get plenty of fruits and veggies. The higher your consumption of folic acid from food (produce is a great source), the lower your risk of bleeding gums, research shows.

Friday, March 19, 2010

How Much Is Too Much Extracurricular Activities!

According to Stacy DeBroff, many extracurricular activities, especially those involving leadership, can boost academic achievement and personal confidence. School-sponsored or team activities that occur after school hours help bond your student to his/her peers. However, extracurricular activities should never interfere with your child's education. Even academically oriented activities must take a backseat to homework, reading, and studying. Below are some suggestions so that extracurricular activities don't interfere with school work:

1. Factor in homework as a significant component of your child's weekdays.

2. Set clear boundaries on the number of extracurricular in which your child is allowed to participate.

3. Homework nor family time should take backseat to extracurricular activities.

4. Make it clear to your child that school work take priority over anything else.

5. If you find your child is too busy or tired to finish homework on certain day or his teacher tells you your child seems sluggish, tired or unfocused in school, cut back on after-school activities.

6. In organized sports, a large number of volunteer coaches are working parents who hold weekday practices late in the afternoon or in the early evening hour. Make sure homework gets done right after school.

7. Talk to your child before deciding to end an activity and ask him/her for input about which activities to cut.

8. Keep in mind that recreation and activities can be as important as schoolwork. Don't cut everything but school out of your child's life, or your child might lose academic drive entirely.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Which Homework Routines Are Most Successful?

According to "The Mom Goes To School", the most important part of homework time is consistency. This is why you must develop a regular habit and routine of doing work. You must base this on the what time of day your child concentrates best, which activities take place after school, and when an adult can help. Below are suggestions on developing a homework routine:

1. Encourage your child to get the hardest homework out of the way first.

2. Also, encourage your child to work on the assignment with the closest deadline.

3. Set the kitchen timer as a reminder to start homework so your child can develop independence and personal responsibility.

4. The timer can also be an objective way to announce when it's time for total focus and time to run off for a break.

5. Set a homework deadline at least half an hour before your child's bedtime. This will help your child with time management.

6. You may find it helpful to organize a homework playgroup, giving classmates time to play together once or twice a week before joining forces on homework.

7. Don't allow TV or phone calls during homework time.

8. Even when your child doesn't have homework, make this a time in which he/she can read or do extra studying.

9. Involve youngest children in the house so they used to the routine.

10. Use homework time to do parent homework along side your child. Let your child see you in some kind of work. (Example: reading, balancing your checkbook, doing crossword puzzles, or writing a letter)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How Can I Avoid Doing My Child's Homework?

According to Stacy DeBroff, doing homework independently builds confidence and fosters good study habit and responsibility. If you get over involved with the process and start doing assignments instead of encouraging your child's work, you will interfere with this crucial learning process. Below are somethings you can do to avoid doing your child's homework:

1. Be available for assistance, advice, and review.

2. Don't let your child's homework become your responsibility.

3. Think of yourself as a homework consultant, not a participant.

4. If your child does homework in their room, stop by periodically with words of encouragement and offer words of praise.

5. Constantly pushing your child to get his/her homework done on time can condition your child to depend on your forceful voice to finish work.

6. Even if your child doesn't complete an assignment on time or does a poor job, resist the temptation to jump in and do the work.

7. Dependent children often convince their parents into giving them more help then they should.

8. Children need to experience the consequences of their decisions. If your child doesn't start a book report until the night before it is due, let your child suffer the consequences.

9. There is nothing wrong with lending your expertise and problem-solving skills to help your child struggle through a particularly challenging or difficult homework problem, but make this an exception to the norm.

10. Encourage your child to use resources to find tough homework answers. (Examples: Internet, encyclopedias, and atlases)

11. Ultimately, by allowing your child to complete the tough stuff on his/her own, you will give your child a sense of accomplishment and foster a healthy independence and confidence.

12. If you are unsure of how much assistance to give your child, clarify with the teacher your role in helping to correct your child's work.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How Much Should I Be Involved In Daily Homework?

According to "Mom Goes to School", teachers rely on homework to straighten the review classroom work, often counting on parents to help clarify misunderstandings and confusion. In essence, the parent becomes an adjunct of the classroom, providing the tutoring, editing, or advice your child needs to grasp the material. Below are why homework is important and ways you can get involved with daily homework:

1. Homework allows you to take an active role in your child's education.

2. Homework serves as a bridge between your world and your child's classroom.

3. By reviewing the content and checking your child's homework, you become involved in your child's academic progress.

4. Time management is a critical skill which your child needs your help to master. (Examples: Decide together how much time an assignment should take, Marking a time for him/her to start work, checking in when the work is finished). This will help your child pace him/herself.

5. Figure out how your child works best. Is it under pressure and deadlines, or doing work gradually.

6. Make homework a family time. If you don't have any work to do, work on a crossword puzzle or read as long as you're doing something productive.

7. Ask your child to explain his work and teach it to you, because if they can teach the material he/she truly understand it.

8. Ask to see the homework after the teacher returns it. Go over the assignment and discuss the teacher's comments.

9. Reward your children's progress with plenty of praise, and display their work on the fridge.

10. Make sure your child does the homework. It does no one any good if you are completing the homework for your child.

Monday, March 15, 2010

How Much Time Should Homework Take?

Homework is suppose to be review and practice of skills taught already by the teacher. In my opinion homework should take for k-2 no more than 15-30 minutes. For 3-6 grades homework should be no more than 30-60 minutes. It may take less time or more time depending on the work habits of the child or understanding of the assignment.

According to "The Mom Book Goes To School", at the beginning of the year, find out whether your child will receive homework each night, how much time the teacher thinks is appropriate for the average assignment, and the rough schedule for big projects. If your child is spending countless hours on homework:
1. Observe your child's work habits.

2. Is your child daydreaming, wasting time, dawdling, taking frequent breaks, or being overly perfectionist? If you observe any or several of these things then the amount of homework may not be the problem.

3. Keep track of how much time your child spends on homework.

4. Give your child a timer to complete certain task.

5. The amount of time a child spends on homework should gradually increase as the grade increases.

6. If your child is spending more time on homework than the teacher has stated it should take, send a note or make contact with the teacher and get her/his opinion on what should be done.

7. Talk to other parents in your child's class to determine whether their children are also dealing with large amount of time completing homework.

8. If homework proves an ongoing struggle and your child's grades do not reflect the time and effort put in, ask to meet with the teacher to resolve the problem.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sit Up For Success!

If you want to increase your confidence, try improving your posture. According to April 2010 article in "Good Housekeeping", people who keep their spines straight and chest lifted not only project more self-assurance, but actually feel it too.

An Ohio State study found that students (who thought they were investigating how actors maintain different postures) were instructed to write down pros and cons about themselves as job candidates. Those told to maintain good posture while making their list were more secure about their assessments than those instructed to slump. Just be sure to focus on your best qualities (I'm punctual, creative..."), since better posture also reinforced participants' negative entries ("I procrastinate, don't speak up enough..."). So, it is true about what your grand-mother and mother always said, "Don't slouch, and stand up straight".

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Does Eating Red Meat Cause Breast Cancer?

I have decided to write on health articles for adults and children every Saturday and Sunday. Monday thru Friday will be on educational topics. Today topic is will eating red meat cause beast cancer? According to an article by Samantha B. Cassetty, M.S., R.D. in "Good Housekeeping Magazine" April 2010, If you like meat but have worried because it possible is linked to breast cancer, you can relax.

A European study that tracked nearly 320,000 women for 11 years found that consuming red meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and cheese did not raise the odds of developing breast cancer. What does count:

1. Keeping weight down

2. limiting alcohol (at most, have one drink a day, advises the American Cancer Society)

3. Don't eat processed meats (like deli slices and meats cooked at high temps)

4. Limit fatty cuts and full-fat dairy are high in saturated fats which are also linked to heart disease.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Why Does My Child Have So Much Homework?

Schools today are under a lot of pressure to produce high standardized test scores and other assessments. We also face global competition in fear our students will fall behind the rest of the world academically. The one thing I want to point out is homework should be a review and practice of the classroom instructions and lessons. Homework is not something the parents should have to entirely teach or introduce. If you find that you are having to teach the material, your child is not understanding the classroom instruction or is not paying attention. Make sure you understand what is interfering with your child and try to take steps to correct it. Below are some reasons Stacey DeBroffs gives on why your child is getting so much homework:

1. Homework builds your child's comfort with the instruction in the class by going over it a again.

2. Homework increases your child's academic learning time.

3. Homework improves your child's recollection and overall understanding of classroom materials.

4. Homework encourages your child to practice more comprehensive and inquisitive thinking about classroom topics.

5. Homework can increase your child's interest in learning about a certain subject or topic.

6. Homework provides your child an opportunity to become a more independent learner.

7. Homework can also build important personal skills, such as organization and time management.

8. The long-term benefits of homework include developing self-discipline, self-reliance, and independent problem solving. This is why parents should not do their child's homework, only assist and check homework.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How Can I Help My Struggling Reader?

If reading is a problem for your child, seek help. Reading problems rarely resolve themselves without extra attention and professional assistance. If an elementary teacher tells you your child is struggling with reading, or your child is getting unexpected low grades on reading work, talk to the teacher and pinpoint your child's difficulties and find out where the problem lies. (Example: phonics, speed, or comprehension). Remember, reading is crucial for success in most academic subjects. Below are somethings you can do to help your child if they are having reading difficulties:

1. Find out if there is a reading specialist on staff at the school.

2. Ask the teacher to find out if your child can receive extra time or help during school.

3. Find out what you can do at home for your child.

4. Make sure you know by kindergarten or first grade if your child is having difficulties, because the soon you get intervention the better.

5. It is important to find out your child's reading level.

6. If the reading difficulties continue, ask for your child to be tested for any learning disabilities.

7. Make sure you are reading to your child and listening to your child read on their reading level every school night.

8. Don't get frustrated. If you are, let another family member or friend work with your child.

9. Find something your child is interested in reading about and that will help with getting him/her to read for pleasure.

10. Try to make reading time at home a family event. Make a special time that everyone reads a book aloud together or reads silently and have a discussion on what they read.

For more information and suggested reading list, read my book, "A Parent's Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible for Your Child K-6". You can order it on or .

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How Do I Choose The Best Books For My Child?

According to "The Mom Book Goes To School", when choosing Books to read aloud to your child, give your reading selections balance and range. Exposing your child to all forms of literature, form science fiction to fairy tales, newspaper articles to riddles, will encourage him/her to be a well rounded reader and improve his higher level thinking skills. Below are some suggestions to choosing the best books for your child:

1. Consider your child's abilities.

2. Look at length, difficulty, and your child's attention span when choosing a book.

3. Allow more independence with reading material as the child grows older.

4. Pick books written by Newbery Medal -winning authors. These books will have a gold or silver emblem on their front cover.

5. Pick stories with clear messages and social context to help your child learn basic values and develop decision-making skills.

6. Many books for younger readers have pictures, get some without pictures so your child can visualize what happens in the story or let your child illustrate it.

7. For excellent suggestions on newly released children's titles, The American Library Association and my book, "A Parents Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible K-6", compiles a list of notable children's books.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How Can I Encourage My Reluctant Reader?

According to Stacy DeBroff, studies show that as students move through the grades, voluntary reading decreases and negative attitudes toward reading increases. This often happens during middle school. Although your child may have loved reading when he/she was younger, extracurricular activities and friends often become more appealing than books. Below are some things you can do to encourage a reluctant reader:

1. All kids go through stages during which they read a lot and others in which they barely touch a book. Don't worry. Let your child move through these phases naturally and without forcing him/her to read.

2. Allow your child to read comics and books of interest as long as he/she is reading.

3. Check to see if there are any new movies or shows based on children's books, like Holes, Harry Potter, or Stuart Little.

4. For younger children see the movie after the book is finished.

5. Going to the theater can bring drama alive for your child and may encourage him/her to read the play later.

5. If you spend a lot of time in the care with your child, pick out book-on-tape to listen to together as you drive.

6. Many children have very busy schedules, so brief magazine articles may be more appealing to them then a lengthy book. (Examples: anthologies, short stories, or poetry)

7. Children who are just starting to take interest in books tend to leaf through them without stopping at many pages. Provide them with magazines to get them started.

Monday, March 8, 2010

How Can I Expand My Child's Vocabulary?

According to "The Mom Book Goes To School", the best readers are often the best spellers and have the most extensive vocabulary. The more words a child hears and makes their own will help in their reading, writing, and overall academic performance. Below are some suggestions on how to expand your child's vocabulary:

1. Keep a list of words you and your child encounter as you read.

2. Ask your child to share any new words learned.

3. Give your child age-appropriate crossword puzzles.

4. Read newspaper articles together to find new words.

5. Keep poetry magnets on the refrigerator.

6. Review spelling and vocabulary list with your child and use the words in conversations.

7. Help your child analyze words by showing how to break them down into syllables.

8. Teach your child the meaning of common roots, prefixes, and suffixes.

9. Teach your child about context clues the will help your child guess the meaning of words.

10. If your child gets stuck on a word tell your child to move skip, move on, and then reread the sentence.

11. When your child what a word means or how to spell a word, find it together in a dictionary.

12. Many libraries offer books on audiotapes, which your child can use to track words on the page as he/she hears the words.

13. Play the Dictionary Game: One family member opens the dictionary and points to a word. Each of the other write down what he thinks is the definition. and then everyone reads his guess aloud. The person with the closest definition wins points. A variation on this game can teach your child spelling skills.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

How Can I Make The Most of Reading With My Child?: Part II

According to Stacy DeBroff, It's never too early to start reading to your child. Once your child reaches school age, take time out of every afternoon and evening as possible, to work on the reading skills your child is learning in school. Below continues the suggestions on how to make the most of reading with your child:

1. Encourage your child to tell his own stories and write them down.

2. Challenge your child to come up with alternative endings to the stories you read together.

3. Ask your child to predict what will happen next.

4. Discuss whether the events in the story could really happen.

5. Discuss the moral of the story, as this gives a chance to impart values and ethics.

6. Reread your child's favorite story again and again.

7. Never take away story time as a punishment. Instead, offer extra reading time as a reward.

8. Don't stop reading together once your child starts school.

9. Ask your child if they find the character interesting and believable.

10. Ask your child if he/she relates to any character in particular.

11. Find out if your child knows whether the story takes place in the past, present, or future.

12. Find out if your child knows which characters are the main ones and which are supporting.

13. Teach your child the personal obstacles the characters had to overcome.

14. Ask your child what he/she learned from the story.

15. Ask your child the major conflicts in the story.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

How Can I Make The Most Of Reading With My Child?: Part I

According to Stacy DeBroff, reading aloud will help improve all academic skills. It will improve listening skills, stimulates the imagination, sharpen observation skills, promote self-confidence, and builds on problem-solving. It also helps your child enjoy and appreciate literature that is too challenging for your child to read alone. Below are some ideas to help get the most out of reading to your child:

1. Find a regular time and place to read everyday possible.

2. Choose a time when you and your child are relaxed, such as bedtime.

3. Before you begin, make sure your child is settled and ready to focus.

4. Read as long as your child shows interest.

5. Vary your tone and pace. using different voices and expressions to make reading enjoyable.

6. Let your child look at the pictures and discuss setting, characters, plot.

7. If you have a hard time getting your child to sit still during reading, try reading to your child while in the tub.

8. Ask questions to make sure your child is listening and engaged.

9. Check to see if your child can recall in order.

10. Get your child to tell you in their own words what the book is about.

11. Encourage your child to follow the text on the page as you read.

12. Point to the words as you read helps your child learn how to pronounce difficult words.

13. Make sure your child feels comfortable asking questions during the story.

14. Help your child discover meaning of words never seen before.

15. Ask your child more "why" than "what" questions. (Example: "Why do you think the character made that choice?" or "Why do you think the story ended that way?").

Friday, March 5, 2010

Why is Reading Aloud Important For Younger Children?

According to "The Mom Book Goes To School", the skill a child acquires from reading form the building blocks of learning process and are crucial for academic success. Not only is reading involved in almost 90% of schoolwork, it raises IQ and standardized test scores as it teaches abstract thought and increases vocabulary.

1. Reading to younger children greatly improves their early reading skills.

2. Reading to younger children greatly improves their writing skills.

3. Because parents don't read to their children, 40% of students enter kindergarten behind.

4. Reading to younger child exposes them to new ideas.

5. Reading to younger children teaches them to concentrate.

6. Reading to younger children helps them with their attention span.

7. As much as 75% of what students learn comes from what they read.

8. Reading aloud teaches children to see subtleties in literature and in life.

9. Reading aloud helps children gain more enjoyment from classroom discussions.

10.Reading aloud to young children increases vocabulary and expands knowledge.

To learn more about "Getting the Best Education Possible", order my book, "A Parent's Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible K-6", at or .

Thursday, March 4, 2010

How Can I Make Sure My Child Is Using The Internet Safely?

According to "The Mom Book Goes to School", the Internet has become an important part of how we learn and interact with the modern world. Children have to know how to use the computer and Internet in early years. Help your child take advantage of the invaluable resources and teach your child how to use the Internet properly and effectively:

1. If you are not computer literate, learn to use the computer with your child.

2. Take advantage of local programs at the libraries and community colleges that teach beginners how to use the computer and Internet.

3. Many children are computer experts, so let your child teach you. Ask your child to show you what your child is learning, and how to find their favorite websites.

4. Take advantage of the wide variety of educational software available to help your child feel comfortable with the computer.

5. Ask your child's teacher to recommend fun and informative software children enjoy.

6. The Internet can provide safety concerns, including running into inappropriate websites.

7. The best way for your child to navigate the Internet is to spend time using it with your child.

8. Keep the family computer in a public location so you can better supervise its use.

9. There are a number of games children can download off the Internet which contain excessive violence and sexual content. Look at GetNetWise ( ), a free service from public interest groups and Internet corporations, or FamiliesConnect ( ), an American Library Association service. These sites provide information to help you make informed decisions about the Internet.

10. Invest in filtering devices. Like the television's V-chip, many Internet browsers offer parents the option of filters that block out inappropriate websites.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How Can I Get My Child To Talk About The School Day?: Part II

Communicating with your child about their school day is very important. Many times parents ask their child, "What happened at school today?" The answer so often is "Oh nothing". In order to get your child to talk about their day at school you have to establish a daily routine of discussing the events of the day and be active listener. Below are some ideas given by Stacy DeBroff on how to get your child to talk about your day:

1. Make yourself emotionally available to your child at bedtime, as this is a time children unload their fears and problems.

2. Keep up with the news and share what you are learning with your child. Talking about current events, politics, and history will give your child the sense that you consider them intelligent enough to take part of the conversation.

3. Many younger children will talk about their day, but middle school students become mute. To overcome this silence, ask pointed, opened ended questions. (Example: "How is your friend, Alice, doing?" or " What did the coach have you do at practice today?")

4. Don't be satisfied with one word answers. Keep asking questions until your child gives you something of substance. Even if your child gets annoyed, your child will know you care

5. Let your child express opinions, even if those are contrary to yours, without reprisal or anger. You want your child to feel comfortable telling what is on their mind so you can correct and misgivings.

6. Make sure you don't use these conversation to have your child spy on the classroom or make the teacher or other child uncomfortable. Make sure you only confront the teacher with situations that really concern you. If the teacher or children feel like your child is spying on them it could make social life for your child very uncomfortable. These conversation about the school day should be used to keep you informed and aware of how your child is doing academically and socially.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Read Across America Day! Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

March 2ND is "Read Across America Day". This day was started by the National Education Association in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday. According to an article from PBS, here are ten tips for growing bookworms:

1. Reading aloud to your child (even before birth) as often as possible. Continue to read aloud with your children even after they can read on their own.

2. Read aloud in a comfortable and safe environment.

3. Reading aloud will increase your child's vocabulary.

4. Reading aloud increase a child's attention span.

5. Reading aloud makes children realize reading is important.

6. It is important for Dads and male caregivers to participate in reading aloud. It shows the boys that reading isn't just for girls.

7. For older children, start a book club of reading aloud or listening to audio books together. Stop and discuss interesting parts. It can be an enjoyable time together.

8. Reading aloud is a special time to spend with young children that creates lasting memories.

9. Children that are read aloud to do better in school.

10. Celebrate "Read Across America Day and get your child a library card and start reading aloud today.

To get more ideas on "Getting the Best Education Possible", order my book, "A Parent's Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible K-6Th Grades". Order on or .

Monday, March 1, 2010

How Can I Get My Child To Talk About The School Day?: Part I

According to "The Mom Book Goes To School", of students age 10 to 13, 75% say they would like to their parent more about schoolwork. Studies have show that when parents and child talk about school and school events, children perform better academically. According to Stacy DeBroff, below are some suggestions on how to get your child to talk about the school day:

1. Ask your child questions about school every day.

2. Listen to what your child is saying to you.

3. Start this practice early on to establish a routine.

4. Use active listening with your child to find out more about the day. Instead of jumping in with your opinions, stay silent for a few seconds to see it there will be more information. If there is more information respond with neutral comments or repeat what your child said to get more information.

5. Tell your child how you feel as well.

6. Tell your child about the goals and events of your day.

7. Ask questions that will get a conversation flowing. (Example: "Did anyone get in trouble with the teacher today?")

8. Try asking silly questions. (Example: "Did they serve zebra for lunch today?")
9. Make sure you don't use this time to encourage your child to spy on the teacher or other children. Don't confront the teacher on everything you hear, and only address something that truly concerns you. If the teacher or students feel your child is spying it could make life very uncomfortable for him/her. These conversations about school should be to keep you inform and aware of how your child is doing academically and socially.

About This Blog

This weblog seeks primarily to be a resource to parents and their children facilitating, "Empowerment & Personal Responsibility through Education."

This weblog is an extension of BestEducationPossible-theCommunity an online community dedicated to Parents and their efforts to empower their children through Education.

How to get the Best Education Possible for Your Child

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