Saturday, July 31, 2010

Drop 5 Pounds But Watch Your Friends

According to an article in the August 2010 Good Housekeeping issue, when you are trying to lose weight your best friends can be our worst enemies, if you're trying to stick to good-for-you fare. When University of Miami researchers asked 154 students to choose snacks for their buddies, 75% of the "shoppers" picks were unhealthy (chips, cookies, fruit roll-ups, and more). But when the same students selected treats for themselves, only 50% of their choices were junk foods. The chum-yum connection? People tend to think their pals don't watch what they eat as carefully as they themselves do, explain researchers. The bottom line? Wrong, they do.

If your trying to watch your weight, ice pops aren't just for kids. For cold treats with mom-and-pop appeal, try Edy's new Antioxidant Fruit Bars. I personally love these ice pops. The acaiblueberry and pomegranate flavors will satisfy your sophisticated taste buds and, at60 to 70 calories each, these pops still make the low-cal cut. (Sadly, that is not the case for the pomegranate margaritas.) Available nationwide (as Dreyer's Fruit bars in Western states) $4.19 for a six-pack.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Parent-Teacher Relationships: Part I

The relationship between teachers and parents is an extremely powerful component in student success. Yet, so many parents go through the school year without communicating with the teacher or understanding what to do (or avoid) to make the most of the year. So, Lisa Capretto interviewed a third-grade teacher, Stacey Nelson, a devoted and successful educator in Tennessee. Stacey shared several things teachers wish parents knew before sending their children to school.
Today, Ms. Nelson discusses how teachers wish that parents and students
"Respect the Teacher".

1. Most teachers truly care about your children and want them to be successful
2. Trust in the teachers feedback. If a teacher reports a particular behavior that you haven't seen before, don't rush to judgement. Listen to what the teacher has to say and work with him/her to find a solution.
3.Don't show up for a meeting unannounced. Instead, schedule a time to meet. This will show you respect the teacher's time and give him/her time to prepare for the meeting.
4. Don't go over the teacher's head. If you an issue with the teacher, talk to the teacher before going to the principal or other administrators. 95% of problems can be resolved between the teacher and parent without any other interventions.

On Monday, Stacey Nelson gives her thoughts on being involved in your child's education.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

PTA Involvement Ideas

The National PTA states that whether you spend three hours or three months volunteering in a way that works for you, remember that you're not just helping your child for the year, but you're setting your child up for success throughout their entire academic career. Below are additional ideas for parental involvement in schools.

1. Participate in PTA's Teacher Appreciation Week by organizing a breakfast or lunch.
2. Get to know your child's teacher by introducing yourself and scheduling a brief meeting.
3. Create a community bulletin board at the school to post information or ideas.
4. Participate in PTA's Take Your Family To School Week, celebrated each February.
5. Participate in American Education Week, sponsored by the National Education Association by visiting the school and classroom.
6. Record yourself reading books onto tapes so children with reading challenges can enjoy them.
7. Host a block meeting at your home with other parents to discuss/share school issues and information.
8. Offer to drive other students/families to school-related events they wouldn't otherwise be able to attend.
9. Invite other parents to join you when you volunteer at school.
10. Join your local PTA.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

PTA's National Standards for Family-School Partnerships

The PTA's National Standards for Family-School Partnerships is very simple. There is a six step program that you can follow to stay on track with parent involvement at your school and PTA.

1. Make all families feel welcome. Greet other parents at school activities and events. If needed recruit bilingual parents to greet and interpret for families whose first language isn't English. Offer families activities at low cost or no cost and try holding meetings in various community locations (such as the local library, community center, or churches).

2. Communicate effectively. Design and print "Happy Grams" as an easy way for teachers to regularly report positive behavior and/or achievements to parents. Consider using color-coded lines or footprints on hallway walls or floors, to help direct parents to the office, library, or parent resource center. Include two-way communication mechanism, such as a question-and -answer section or mini survey, in each edition of your newsletter. Distribute calendars so parents can record upcoming events, assignments, and dates to check with teachers on their child's progress.

3. Support student success. Create a checklist and tip sheets for effective parent-teacher conferences. Invite teachers and professionals from the community to speak at meetings. Provide parents involvement tips and suggestions.

4. Speak up for every child. Match new families with a buddy family that knows the ropes. Plan workshops on how to ask the right questions about children's progress and placement. Involve parents in ongoing training on topics such as effective advocates, identifying and supporting learning styles, and fostering student achievement.

5. Share power. Working in partnership with principals and identifying ways the PTA/parent group can support one or more goals of the school improvement plan. Host a forum for candidates running for public office and focus on issues that affect children, families, and education. Get to know elected officials at all levels of government.

6. Collaborate with the community. Reach out to senior/retired citizens and invite them to volunteer at the school. Work with the local newspaper to promote special events that are happening at the school. Invite school alumni to make donations to the school or volunteer time.
Get 10 more additional involvement Ideas from the PTA tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Parent Involvement: Part II

Parent involvement in their children's education is extremely important. According to Danielle Wood, editor-in-chief of, the best opportunities for classroom involvement occur when kids are younger. But younger years should not the end of involvement in the classroom. "Teachers are eager to have extra eyes, ears, and hands in the classroom to keep things running smoothly," Wood says. She shares some simple ideas for how parents can get involved at both early and later stages of their children's academic careers.
1. Be a class reader. Offer to come in and read to the whole class, small group, or individual children who need support
2. Work as a center/lab helper. Teaching things like science, art, and computer lab to young children requires lots of hands-on help.
3. Offer to tutor. Teachers usually have to teach a wide range of abilities. Having parents to help support students on the high and low ends of the spectrum gives the teacher more time to concentrate on other things.
4. Volunteer as a class parent. If you have more time to give, a class parent usually involves organizing parties and teacher gifts throughout the year.

5. Assist with special interest clubs or drama groups. Sometimes it is up to parents to keep extra curricular activities going. If you have the expertise to do anything for the students in these special areas, it is a great service.
6. Speak to classes about your career or special expertise. One of the most important gifts you can give a child is a gift of inspiration. Go to the classroom and explain what you do and how you accomplished your goals.
7. Work as a library assistant. Helping kids discover books they love and assisting them with research topics they're excited about can be a really rewarding experience for parents.
8. Volunteer to help sports programs. Keeping kids active is critical to their physical and emotional health. Parent involvement can do a lot for increasingly underfunded school sports programs.
Tomorrow check out 6 ideas from the PTA's National Standards for Family-School Partnership!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Parent Involvement: Part I

As a teacher for the last 21 years, I can assure you that positive parent involvement in the classroom is very important to the teacher and the children. According to an article by Lisa Capretto, she states that parent involvement in classroom has had a proven positive effect on children's success. The key is finding the time in an already busy schedule to volunteer. Capretto offers 38 simple ways to make the most of the upcoming school year.

Volunteering in the classroom for just 3 hours over the course of the entire school year is enough to make an impact on your child's education. The National Parent-Teacher Association's, Three for Me program, encourages and guides busy parents through different ways to get involved at their children's schools. With free online, sample forms, promotional fliers, and a forum for idea-sharing, Three for Me does a huge part of time-consuming work for you. So, find 3 hours over the next nine months and volunteer in your child's classroom.

Tomorrow check out my blog and get 8 simple ideas for parent involvement for younger and older children

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Adding Walnuts To Men's Diet

A daily handful of tasty, crunchy, walnuts may help fight prostrate cancer, says Paul Davis, Ph.D., a nutrition researcher at the University of California. In his new study, Davis fed walnuts or soybeans oil to mice programmed to develop prostrate cancer. The walnut mice developed cancer tumors that were 50 percent smaller and grew 30 percent slower than the soybean oil mice.

"Walnuts contain a package of compound, including omega-3 fatty acids, that interact to provide health benefits," say Davis. "I expect that the results we observed in our mice will very likely be found in men, too when studied," he adds. In addition to serving walnuts, other ways to help men prevent prostrate cancer includes:
1. cutting down on red meat
2. cutting down on dairy products
3. upping intake of brilliantly colored fruits and vegetables (including tomatoes and pomegranates)
4. lead an active life.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Walk Your Way To Fitness

Walking is the ultimate bargain exercise, proving you don't need fancy equipment or pricey gyms to get fit. You do need to mix it up. According to Karen Asp, in an article in the July 2010 of Better Homes and Garden, here are three different walks to keep your heart healthy, your waistline trim, and your stress level down.

1. Endurance Walk: A moderately paced walk you can do for as long or as short a time as you want. Endurance training builds a healthier body, relieve stress, and boost mood in as little as 10 minutes. Everyone in the family can do it daily. Start with a five minute warm-up of easy walking. Then pick up the pace until your breathing becomes a little quicker. Maintain this pace as long as you want. In the end, cool down with five minutes of easy walking.

2. Interval Training Walk: A more challenging walk that alternates between hard and easy periods of work. If time is your biggest enemy, interval training is perfect for you. Not only do you burn calories during the workout, you also burn more just doing everyday things after an interval training walk. If you want to get in shape in less time or bust a plateau. Do two or three weeks of endurance first. This should be done once or twice a week on nonconsecutive days. Warm-up with an easy five minute walk. Then alternate between one to four minutes of moderate-paced waking and one four minute of brisk or fast walking, repeating this pattern two to five times during your walk. During the brisk/fast walking sections it should feel as if you're working hard, and talking becomes difficult.

3. Speed Walking: A faster-paced walk than endurance walking. If you're short on time, this is another walk you can do in a snap. It may feel somewhat uncomfortable, but doing this type of workout can make you a stronger, fitter walker. Serious walkers who want to get fitter without devoting lots of time to exercise can do speed walking. This should be done once or twice a week. Start with a five minute warm-up. Then pick up the pace so you are walking a little faster than you normally would yet not pushing it so hard that you can't maintain that pace. Continue at the pace for 10-20 minutes (If this is too difficult at first, go fast for five minutes, then slow to a moderate pace for five minutes; gradually build to waking fast the entire walk.) Then cool down with an easy walk.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Students and Summer Jobs

There is a lot to be said for students who get a summer job. I know it isn't easy to find a job these days, but it's not impossible. According to an article in the July 2010 issue of Better Homes and Gardens, a University of Iowa study, students with paid jobs during the summer break had increased self esteem and greater motivation. Just ask Steve Jobs. His summer at an apple orchard led him to call his company Apple. Still need convincing? President Obama filled cones at Baskin-Robbins.

If your child is too young to get a job, why not find chores to completed around the house. It can as simple as taking out the garbage, swiping the floors, feeding the pet, watering the plants. It will teach your child responsibility and hopefully pride in their work. You can give them an allowance or not! Whatever works for your family.

Volunteering for worthy causes is another way to teach your children responsibility and giving back to the community, while building self esteem. Look around and find agencies that need volunteers that young people can participate in. It can be a family project that will bring meaning and memories for years to come.

For lists of part-time jobs for teens go to

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Things You Do Not Want to Do!

Yesterday's blog was about the things you can do to help make your children have a better transition into the school year. According to Marcy Wilard, there are definitely things you do not want to do as far as your child's education is concerned.

1. Don't wait until school starts to establish a routine.
2. Don't go in to school ready to fight. "Many parents have been told by support groups, society, and media that they have to be ready to fight," says early childhood special education teacher, Erin Jackie. "In most cases it's absolutely not true. Students that make the most progress always come from families that are willing to work as part of a team and collaborate with teachers and staff. MOST teachers are really there to help.
3. Don't set unrealistic expectations. Every parent want s their children to succeed, but setting your expectations too high, according to the National PTA, can detrimental to your child. So, be realistic about you expect from your children and don't hesitate to meet with the teacher to discuss those expectations.
4. Don't wait until the parent-teacher conference to see how your child is doing. Get a general update from the teacher by email or phone.
5. Don't get in with a negative group of parents that only complain and gossip. Just like you don't want your child to get in with the wrong crowd, make sure you are associating with a positive group of parents that are working to better the school.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Things You Can Do For a Successful School Year

There are things you can do to help your child have a successful school year and even enjoy being back in the classroom. According to Marcy Wilard of the Child Family and School Psychology program, it is important that you help your children transition from summer to school. Below are things you should do before school begins:

1. Attend any back-to-school night programs.
2. Take your child on a tour of the school and new classroom.
3. Build a partnership with the teachers, administrators, and parents.
4. Keep learning going outside the classroom. "Any activity is an opportunity for learning," says Marcy.
5. Do build up your children's' self-esteem . (Examples: praise your children, listen when they speak, celebrate creativity, applaud good behavior, leave notes of encouragement)
6. Start your children on a schedule of going to bed early and getting up earlier. It may take about 2 weeks to do this.
7. Start reading every evening and discuss the books. If your children see you reading, they will follow your example. So, make it a family time of reading throughout the year.
Stay tuned because tomorrow I will give points from Marcy Wilard on things you should not do over the summer or during the school year.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

6 Key People to Meet At Your Child's School: Part II

Yesterday, we discussed 3 of the 6 people you should meet and introduce yourself to according to an article by Lisa Capretto. The 3 people were the principal, the school nurse, and the room parent. Today we will look at 3 more suggestions from Capretto.

1. PTA leaders: The PTA leaders are at the forefront of changing policies, improving schools, and taking action to give a voice to every child including your child. It is an important organization to become a member of. Getting to know the leaders will ensure that you know their annual objectives for the school and it is a way your voice can be heard. It is also a way to get involved and have volunteer opportunities at the school.

2. Guidance Counselor: The school counselor can help evaluate your child's academic and social development and can help your child in the time of trouble. The guidance counselor, in most cases, are involved in standardized testing and can identify any special needs issues. Another important reason to meet the counselor is she/he can help with any bullying situations that may arise.

3. School Bus Driver: If your child rides a bus to school it is important to introduce yourself to the driver. This is so the bus driver can make a connection between the both of you. Let the driver know you would like to be informed if there are any problems with your child.

The most important advice that I can give a parent is to become a positive partner in their child's education. Do not get involved with negative groups and don't participate in gossip. Make sure the principal, teachers, staff, and parents know you are there for support. It will make a difference in your child's education. To get more ideas on "How to Get the Best Education Possible" for your child, order my book, A Parent's Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible for Your Child K-6 Grades. You can order it at .

Monday, July 19, 2010

6 Key People to Meet At Your Child's School: Part I

Lisa Capretto wrote an article and suggested that there are 6 key people you should meet at your child's school. According to the article you should set a time and day to meet each of these people to assure you and your child will have a smooth transition into the school year. Today, I will address the first 3 people to meet.

1. Principal: The principal runs the school and sets the tone and culture for the entire school. The principal solves problems, creates rules, polices the students, manages the staff, acts as mentor, evaluates classrooms, and most importantly, constantly communicates with everyone from teachers to parents to the school board. Find out if there is a meet the principal time or set up a small breakfast with some other parents and get to know the principal.

2. School nurse: You should meet the school nurse and inform him/her of any health conditions your child may have. You can also use the meeting to find out about any medications that need to be given during the school day and the policy and paper work for that. Ask about the school's health screenings (vision and hearing) and how to stay informed about health alerts throughout the school year.

3. Room parent: Get to know the room parent in your child's classroom. This is a great way to say informed and get more involved in the classroom. The room parent should know the upcoming events, projects, celebrations, and volunteer opportunities. If your child's classroom doesn't have a room parent, get to know at least one other parent in the classroom.
Tomorrow will be 3 more people Lisa Capretto suggest you meet at your child's school.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tweens Need More Sleep

Experts say tweens and teens need at least 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night, if not more. But only 20% of the 12 to 18 year old surveyed for a study published in Pediatrics reported sleeping 8 hours or more hours on school nights. What's keeping them up? Caffeinated energy drinks and too many electronic gadgets. Think phones, TVs, MP3 players, and computers, often all in the same room. What can you do? Christina Calamaro, Ph.D., the lead author of the study offers these tips:

1.Keep tech devices out of the bedroom. This is not just your child's room, your own as well. " This is an important thing to model," Calamaro says.

2. Encourage ( and again, model) good "sleep hygiene." Try to start winding down and that includes turning off the computer and TV and hour before bedtime if you can. Reading can help you and your child relax.

3. Know the difference between energy drinks and sports drinks. "Energy drinks are full of caffeine and sugar and have no purpose but to keep you awake," explains Calamaro. "Sports drinks are for replenishment after exercise or a game."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Better Toothbrushes For Kids

According to an article in the December 2009 issue of Parents magazine, there are toothbrushes to help your child get the hang of brushing their teeth. The article cautions that your child will need supervision to brush properly until about 7 years old. Below are the suggested toothbrushes and prices:

Extra Power:
Every time your child brushes with the Sonicare for Kids, the power lasts a little longer until it hits 2 minutes. 4 years + $70,

Super Scrubber:
When Dr. Fresh's Spider-Man Light-Up Toothbrush stops flashing after 60 seconds, move on to the next row of teeth. 3 years + $3,

Double Duty:
The extra-long term of MAM's Training Brush lets you both grasp the handle. 6 months + $4,

A another very important tip for parents is to teach your child to floss their teeth. It is as important as brushing the teeth.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Preventing "Brain Drain" This Summer: Part II

Yesterday I promised to give you more ideas on preventing "Brain Drain" this summer for your kids. You must keep your kids active physically and mentally during the summer break. Yesterday on, ABC Good Morning America, they stressed how research shows that students lose two months of math skills over the summer and will lose two to three months of reading fluency if there is no enrichment. Below are some more suggestions on how to prevent "Brain Drain" in Science.
Ectropy, ages 9-12
These kids allow kids to become miniature CSI analysts by combining chemistry and problem solving with good old-fashioned pretend play.

Heavenly Hair Kits, GiddyUp, ages 8+
This is another great product for girls who think science is a "boy" subject. It introduces experiments with a little biology and a little chemistry, but ti's all about hair. They will find out why hair's curly, why it's red or brown, why we need to wash it. It teaches kids how to make shampoo and conditioner, although you might want to test it out on the family dog before using the product yourself.

Magnifying Glass, ages 3+
Have your child use magnifying glass to investigate fingerprints, hairs, insects, rocks and other interesting objects. Have them write-up a describe their findings.

Cooking, ages 4+
Cooking requires lots of math skills like fractions, proportions, measurements, and counting how many cookies your can eat in an hour. It also requires science like chemical changes and physical changes.

For more objectives to prevent "Brain Drain" over the summer, purchase my book, "A Parent's Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible for Your Child K-6Th Grade", at

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Preventing "Brain Drain" This Summer: Part I

A lot of kids have activities planned this summer like swimming and basketball. According to Ann Pleshette Murphy and Laura Zaccaro, studies show that students lose two months of math skills over the summer, and if kids are reluctant readers, getting them back into the swing of school can be painful for both of you.

I was watching "Good Morning America" this morning and saw that on their Web site,, there are ideas to keep your child engaged in math and science over the summer. Below are some of the suggestions.

Reptangles, Fat Brain Toys Co., ages 6+
Younger kids who like puzzles and older teens facing geometry class will love this toy.

Fantasy Sports
This is a great time for kids who love sports to join the league and draft team. This requires researching, averages, problem solving, using statistics, and crunching numbers.

Secret Ada, iPod/iPhone/iPod Touch, ages 12+
Math, science and technology are not just for boys. Kids have to use statistics and logic to decode the cryptograms, breaking the code unlocks the biography of a famous woman scientist or mathematician.

Math Gear Fast Facts, ages 7+
These are flash cards all dressed up. These fast facts sets allows kids to quiz themselves on basic multiplication and division by sliding new equations into place along a disc.

Web Takeway Math Tricks, ages 10+
This game incorporates math into chores and travel. For example, calculate how much chlorine needs to go into the pool given the pool's volume or calculate the mileage and estimate travel time of your upcoming trip.

For more objective your children need to practice over the summer, you can purchase my book, "A Parent's Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible K-6th Grades at, Tomorrow I will post more ideas to prevent "Brain Drain" this summer. Check it out!!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Playing By the Rules

Playing at the neighborhood playground is a proven way for children to blow off steam. It helps your child re energize so they can focus and be calmer later on in the day. According to Lynne Ticknor, M.A., a parenting consultant, these eight basic playground rules below, can teach your child the safety element while having fun.

1. Keep hands to yourself. No grabbing, pushing , pulling, pinching, or punching.
2. Use friendly language. Keep your volume down, and our tone of voice and word choice respectful toward peers, teachers, and parents.
3. Take turns. share playground equipment. Wait patiently until it's your turn to use the slide or monkey bars.
4. Swing straight. Sit forward with your bottom on the swing. Don't twist swings, jump off, or ride sideways.
5. Walk cautiously around swings and slides. Stay far away from the action so you won't get knocked over.
6. Play fair. Talk about problems with the other children or parents. Work together to solve playground squabbles.
7. Want to throw? Grab a ball. Not dirt, gravel, or rocks.
8. Going up? Use the ladder. Never walk up the slide. Go down feet first, face forward.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Reading This Summer: 4Th - 6Th Grade

Reading with your child or having your child read everyday will improve their reading as well as build vocabulary. Writing skills will also improve and all academic areas will be strengthened. The following titles are books that I have found that students enjoy or are award winning titles. Make sure you check your child's school summer reading requirements and have your child reading 15-60 minutes every day during the summer.
Fourth Grade
1. The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleishchman
2. My Side of the Mountain by jean Craighead George
3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
4. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
5. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
6.The Mouse and The Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

Fifth Grade
1. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
3. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
4. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe By C.S. Lewis
5. Charlotte's Webb By W.B. White
6. Nettie's Trip South by Ann Turner

Sixth Grade
1. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
2. Animal Farm by George Orwell
3. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
4. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
5. Sounder by William Armstrong
6. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

To read more about "Getting the Best Education Possible" for your child and suggested readings , order my book "A Parent's Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible for Your Child Grades K-6Th at or or

Monday, July 12, 2010

Reading This Summer: Pre-K - 3rd Grade

Most school districts have suggested reading list for students during the summer. Check on your child's school web site and make sure he/she is reading any required reading while on summer break. The following titles are books that I have found students enjoy hearing or are award winning titles. Great literature abounds for children. Ask friends and relatives to buy your child books instead of toys or video games. Research shows that reading to your child early on will improve a child's academic performance throughout life. Below are my favorite children's literature for Pre-K -Third Grade.

Pre-K and Kindergarten
1. Curious George by H.A. Rey
2. Corduroy by Don Freeman
3. The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson
4. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
5. Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
6. Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
First Grade
1. The Snowy Day by Jack Keats
2. Lily's Purple Plastic Purse by levin Henkes
3. The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Anderson
4. Sleeping Beauty a tale from Brothers Grimm
5. The little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
6. One of Three by Angela Johnson

Second Grade
1. The Emperors New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson
2. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
3. Charlotte's Webb By E.B. White
4. A Pocket for Corduroy by Don Freeman
5. Peter Pan by James M. Parrie
6. Ricardo's Day by George Ancona

Third Grade
1. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
2. Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp by Schenherazade
3. Gone is Gone a Story from Bohemia
4. William Tell a Switzerland Legend
5. Jason and the Golden Fleece a Ancient Greek Myth
6. The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson

To get more suggestions for summer reading get my book, A Parent's Handbook: How to Get the Best Education Possible K-6 Grades. You can order my book from or or . Tomorrow I will give you suggested summer reading for grades 4-6 grades.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Meat Free Meals

Vegetarian or not, your kids should be eating lots of fruits and vegetables. A well-planned vegetarian diet is healthy even for babies and children, according to a statement from the American Dietetic Association. Kids who avoid all meat usually take in less saturated fat and eat more produce an d fiber that their carnivorous peers. They tend to be leaner and have lower cholesterol too. Make sure your little vegetarians are getting these nutrients that can go missing from meatless diets. (Save nuts and seeds until age 4). Below are some suggestions from the December 2009 issue of Parents magazine.
White or kidney beans, spinach, whole wheat bread, pumpkin seeds (to boost iron absorption, serve all the above with vitamin C-rich foods like oranges, strawberries, and broccoli)

Beans, nuts, nut butters, edamame, soy-based veggie burgers

Vitamin B12:
Yogurt, milk, eggs, cheese, fortified breakfast cereal

Sunflower seeds, almonds, tofu, wheat germ (add to muffins and smoothies)

Make sure you educate yourself before starting your child on a vegetarian diet. Children's brains, teeth, and bones are developing and you must make sure they are getting the proper nutrition. If you are not vegetarians, start your children early eating all types of fruits and vegetables. They will grow up loving them!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Walk This Way

According to an article in the December issue of Parents magazine, each year 51,000 child pedestrians are injured. Kids are especially vulnerable because they move quickly and impulsively and they aren't good at judging an oncoming car's speed or distance, interpreting road signs, or spotting vehicles in their peripheral vision, says a new report from American Academy of Pediatrics. One study found that a third of parents allow their kindergartners to cross the street alone. Below are traffic-safety tips to keep in mind:

1. Cross the streets with kids under 10. (except in limited situations such as watching him cross a residential street). Use your judgment with older kids.

2. Be a stickler for traffic rules.

3. Work with your child's school to start a program that escorts kids.

4. Prevent back-overs by walking all the way around your car to check for children before getting in.

5. Don't let kids play in an alley, a driveway, or an unfenced front yard.

6. Talk to your city council about speed bumps or speed-limit signs.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Learning With Magnifiers

According to Ellen Booth Church, a former professor of early childhood, you should have your children take a closer look at life with a magnifying glass! Tiny things are a wild source of fascination of children. Small stuff adults take for granted, like a line of marching ants on a sidewalk or a minute peck of mica shining in a rock, they see as invitation to stop and examine. A magnifier is available at most toy stores, is the perfect tool for helping young explorers further their intimate investigations in an up-close and personal way. The activities below will guide your children in their search through the world of the small.

1. Examine fingerprints: Together check the fingertips of each member of the family. Invite everyone to press their fingers into a stamp pad and then on paper. How do the fingerprints compare? Discuss the patterns found in nature that are one-of-a-kind, such as snowflakes and zebra stripes.

2. Inspect the ingredients: Next time you bake with your child, look at the different white powders (sugar, salt, flour, baking powder). Your child will be surprised to see how different the grains and crystals look from each other using a magnifying glass. What does each remind them of?

3. Make your own magnifier: Your child can make a magnifier by filling a plastic sandwich bag with a small amount of water. How much you put in the bag affects the degree of magnification, so experiment with a few different amounts. Then seal the bag, hold it sideways over an item, and take a look.

4. Play a guessing game: Without letting your child see them first, place a variety of everyday objects behind the magnifier's lens one at a time and encourage him/her to try to figure out the identity of each.

5. Use other tools for a closer look: Handheld magnifiers are not the only things we use to make something appear larger. Have your child look at the neighborhood with binoculars or the zoom on your camera. Check out the leaves and a fleck of dust with a microscope. Ask your child to take note of how these tools are similar to and different from the magnifier. Your child may notice that the magnifier and microscope work best close-up objects while the others are better for things in the distance.

6. Sketch your view: Scientist often record observations with illustrations in a field journal. As your children explores, provide paper, pencils, or crayons so they can keep track of what they see.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Comic Strips! They Help Kids Learn to Read and Write!

According to Bill Zimmerman, a prize-winning newspaper editior, comic strips, like their cousins graphic novels and comic books, are more accepted today by educators as tools for helping children master literacy. The funny silly, clever, and touching story lines in each short strip draw eager readers in. Just a few words per frame is all it takes for a comic strip's characters to reveal a complete story. They don't require long sentences or paragraphs to relate a captivating tale or a powerful message.

Getting your kids into comic strips is easy. Just pick up a newspaper or visit a comic strip website like Then, you can extend the educational value by helping them create a strip of their own. Some kids need only a blank piece of paper and pencil to churn out box after box. For those who need a prompt, you can enjoy to fun of creating one together. Try these ideas:

1. Draw a row of story boxes or print one from the Internet try A few large boxes is best at first. Your child can work up to a grid when she's ready fro a longer sequence.

2. Brainstorm with your young cartoonist. Will the characters be humans or animals? What emotions might they display happiness, sadness, anger? Where does the story take place?

3. Think about real-life situations to depict, such as a joke Dad told yesterday or a wacky thing that happened on the way to school. Move on to fantasy if your child wishes.

4. You can either draw by hand or use a free online comic strip generator (

Once you children have gotten in the swing of things, you'll probably find that their vocabulary expands as they search for new words to help their characters express themselves.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Teasing Vs. Bulllying

Kids poke fun at one another. It's just what they do. Our instinct as parents may be to immediately stop the behavior and try to protect our kids from it, but, some teasing is critical to our children's social development, according to an article in Scholastic Parent & Child, October issue.

When kids make fun of their friends without aggression or any intention of hurting their feelings, it's called positive or productive teasing. This kind of behavior, says Mill, a communications professor at the University of Alabama, helps kids build relationships and use humor to address taboo topics or handle sticky situations. According to Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, 60 to 70 percent of the teasing young kids do is positive. If we don't let kids tease at all, says Keltner, we stop the majority of teasing, that helps kids form bonds and navigate social situations.

Teasing Vs. Bullying
1. Teasing is misunderstood because it is often confused with bullying, which has a strictly negative impact.
2. The way to distinguish between the two is by intent.
3. The goal of teasing is to create a closer relationships and make connections.
4. The goal of bullying is to harm.
5. Teasing turns into bullying when kids use it to gain greater social status.
6. It has been found that 4-5 year old will bully to increase their social power.
7. Even the most positive teasing turns sour if it goes to far.

Definition: Teasing Vs. Bullying
When both people are equal in size, intelligence, and age and are having fun, it's teasing. But when the two aren't equal and one is more poplar, bigger, or powerful, the exchange is out of balance, it's bullying.

If your child tells you his/her classmates called him/her ugly, don't just jump in to assure them they are beautiful, says Mills. "As soon as you do that, you've let them become victimized." Instead, listen to what they say, and then help them come up with a plan to address it the next time it happens. If you want more information, don't ask your child directly if he's being teased. Instead a question that can be answered in the second or third person. How do kids joke around these days? Or, what is teasing kike for kids today?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ages and Stages of Tweens: Part II

According to Scholastic Parent and Child magazine, October 2009 issue, you should gradually give your tween more freedom. Let him/her have some clearly defined personal space or redecorate their bedroom if they have outgrown the Star Wars or Barbie design. If they want to do homework after TV, and complete it well, allow it. If you refuse too much too often in order to stay in control, you could face far more difficulty, assertive challenges as retaliation. Most importantly, show your tween respect. When you support their point of view, they feel worthwhile and treated like an equal. Below are some tips for parents of tweens.

1. When your tween wants to ask or tell you something stop what you are doing and listen and make eye contact.

2. Let your tween make you laugh. Tweens love to entertain and impress parents by telling endless painful jokes, acting silly, or exaggerating. You may want to groan, but hide it.

3. Tweens are still kids inside and continue to need those beloved close moments like goodnight kisses or being read to.

4. Just try to enjoy your tween! It's not always easy, but when you lighten up they will share their feelings and experiences. Try not to take what they tell you as unimportant or silly. Many times they are sincerely concerned or worried about small matters.

5. Remember, you are setting the stages for the teenage relationship years. You want your tween to come to you and feel like you respect their feelings and will advise them wisely. It is not time to be a friend, but a strong influence and guiding light.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ages and Stages of Tweens: Part I

According to Scholastic Parent and Child magazine, October 2009 issue, as carefree as it may seem, it's not easy being a tween. At this age, children need more than your unconditional love and appreciation; they need hands-on experience to discover who they are, what they like, and how they think. They need chances to become more competent and physically skilled.

Well-grounded self-esteem is based on real skills, a clear and positive sense of self, and relationship security. What is far less valuable is shallow self-esteem that is linked to fashion and material possessions. In these times, many pre-teens become dejected by their "imperfect" bodies and don't see how wonderful they are for their unique personality and qualities.

Your tweens will feel good about themselves when:
1. They feels valued as a person because you trust them, listen to them, and spend quality time with them.

2. They can see that you appreciate and encourage their growing skills.

3. Your tweens knows that they are special to you because you take the time to get to know what matter to them.

4. When they genuinely believe they can succeed when given new tasks and challenges.

5. Your tween should have good friends and feel well supported at school.

Read my blog tomorrow and get some good advice on ways to help your tween develop the self-esteem they need to be an independent and confident teen.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fun Crafts for the Fourth

Happy Fourth of July. I hope you are enjoying this day with barbecue, potato salad, and fresh corn on the cob. If you would like some fun crafts to do with your kids check out the June/July 2010 issue of Working Mothers magazine. Below are some great suggestions.

Cool Container
As the weather gets warmer, kids will need to stay hydrated. So help your children personalize their own foam can hugs. Thy can decorate them with self-adhesive foam alphabet and star stickers in the colors they select. Add touches of glitter for festive sparkle. Then pop in a cool drink and enjoy! These form can hug will keep their drinks cool and have a personal touch all at the same time.

Holiday Hanger
Greet your guests with a flag-inspired welcome on your door. Have your kids cut out strips of blue and red paper and glue them onto a sheet of white card stock (make sure to measure strips to fit.) Glue on red, white, and blue foam stars and write "Happy 4Th of July" with paint pens. Hang by attaching ribbon.

Be sure to do something special with your family and have a fun filled 4Th!!!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Parent-Teacher Relationships: Part III

In order for the teacher to do the best job for your child, he/she will need your cooperation and support. Lisa Capretto interviewed a Stacey Nelson, a third grade teacher from Tennessee and below are some tips for having a successful parent-teacher relationship throughout the school year.

Be Organized:

1. Establish a regular routine each night. This includes having children pack their backpacks the night before, to make sure they have everything they need for school the next day. "My number one thing my students tell me is, "My homework is done, but I left it sitting on the table," Nelson says. A simple evening routine can prevent this and prevent children from feeling rushed or disorganized in the morning.

2. Cut down on chaos and clutter at home. If your home life is disorganized, this can carry over into the classroom and make learning more difficult for the child. "When a child walks into my classroom, I can tell by the look on their face what kind of morning they had and what kind of day it will be," Nelson says.

3. Have an organized homework area. Simple things like paper, pencils, pens, rulers, crayons, and other materials in a designated area will help the child stay organized. A clean bedroom and home can help the child feel prepared and focused on the day ahead.

Summer Family Fitness

According to the June/July issue of Working Mother magazine, summer family fitness is easy and important to incorporate into the summer schedule. School's out, which means less interaction with peers and possible weight gain for some kids. A new study from the University of Buffalo found that children my resort to eating and other sedentary activities when there are no available alternatives. An example would be during the summer there are no kids to hang out with on a daily basis like in school. So make sure your child is social this summer. If he/she is not already signed up for summer activities, below are some ideas.

1. Community programs
2. Swimming teams or just swimming 1-3 times a week
3. Local library summer reading programs
4. Art museums may have classes
5. Sport camps
6. Local universities have programs for students
7. Summer camps with academic and physical activities included
8. Movies with friends, but make sure there are adults supervising.
9. Nature walks and hikes
10. Camping, fishing, and boating

Friday, July 2, 2010

Teaching Our Children: 6-8 Years Part II

From in-class worksheets to short stories for homework, your child will have a lot of writing to complete. "There school work is primarily written," says pediatric occupational therapist Jan Z. Olsen, founder of the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum program, in Cabin John, Maryland. "Teachers consider writing to be essential for learning to communicate effectively." According to Parents magazine, December 2009 issue, below are additional fun ways to get your child to write.

Mail Tale
Get a small notebook and have your child keep a simple journal for a week. Then send it to Grandma or another relative to add her comments on your child's week and a record a week in her life and mail it to another loved one. The last person can mail it back to your child and he/she will get reading practice too.

Pick a Winner
Designate one night a week as activity night. Help your child write down stuff he/she would like to do on a lip of paper and place them in jars. Suggest games (board, card, or parlor), movies, or whatever interest your child (building with Legos or baking muffins). When it's time, have your kids choose one and ask to them to add a fresh idea to keep the jar fun-filled.

Love Notes
Leave surprise messages for your child on their pillow, the bathroom mirror, or in their book bag. End each one with a question, and ask your child to write an answer on the back and leave it for you in a surprise location as well.

Minute Man
Get into the habit of asking your kids to write things for you. Dictate shopping list, have them address envelopes, and jot down reminders on the family calendar. The more practice the better.

Tolls of the Trade
Set up your own office-supply closet. Collect and keep awesome writing tools (gel pens, scented markers, funny-shaped pencils), and all sorts of paper (lined, sticky notes, doodle pads). Stow in strategic spots throughout the house. Your children will be more psyched to scrawl if their pencils have a cute eraser or the pen lights up when they write.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Teaching Our Children: 6-8 Years Part I

According to Parents magazine, December 2009 issue, penmanship still counts. Even in the age of word processing, your children will need to practice their penmanship. It is an age old skill that many students find easy, but others have difficulty mastering good handwriting. From ages 6-8 years good handwriting is critical. Kathleen Reily has some great tips for making learning to write letters fun.

1. Handwriting involves visual, motor, sensory,and perceptual skills. If your child is having a lot of trouble forming letters and struggles with written assignments, make sure you raise your concerns with the teacher to see if an evaluation by an occupational therapist is appropriate.

2. Most children need to be taught to write actively, lie the way you teach them to tie shoes or play the piano. Children who are given worksheets often make the same mistakes over and over. Parents can make up the gap at home.

Invisible Ink
Trace letters and simple words on your child's back and see if he/she can guess what you're writing. Then, swap and have your child "write" a letter or word on you.

Picture This
Get out the markers or crayons and draw a single capital letter on a piece of unlined paper. The challenge is to make the chosen letter part of a bigger picture. To start, capital I into a butterfly or transform an O into an octopus. As your child decorates the letters make sure he/she is focusing on the shapes.

Sweet Treat
Buy or bake some sugar cookies and assemble a bunch of icing in tubes. Call out letters and have your child write them on the cookies. Then have your child arrange the cookies into short words.

Outsider Art
Using sidewalk chalk, have your child write a giant not that could be seen in outer space, then have him/her make teeny-tiny one for ants to read.

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

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