10 Great Tips for Keeping Children Reading and Writing Over Winter Break

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Winter break is approaching and for children that means…no school! Even though they will be free from formal lessons, it doesn’t mean that their education has to go “on hold.”  Here are some fun activities that incorporate reading and writing without having to hear  “I am on vacation; I don’t want to do it!”

1. Set up “read-a-thons.” Pick a time of day to curl up on the sofa or big bed and read together. Take turns reading pages out of one book or choose individual books. The important part is that the whole family is participating.

2. Create Competitions. Challenge your young readers to a contest to see who can read more. Keep track of the number of pages read and/or time spent reading. Children take a lot of pride in “beating” mom and dad.

3. Write a story together.  Spend time together by creating a story.  Start with “T’was the night before Christmas when….” Or “One winter’s day…” and let your imaginations roll.

4. Keep a journal.  Every day, have family members write brief summaries of the fun, winter activities they have experienced and what they are looking forward to doing the next day. Before bed, have your child read out loud what he or she has written that day.

5. Bake or cook.  Pick out fun recipes to make together and have your child read the ingredients and steps aloud. It is a good way to sneak in reading and have a favorite treat.

6. Create a schedule. Make reading a priority. Set aside a specific time each day to  read and keep it consistent. First thing in the morning would be ideal, before any fun activities wear your little one out.

7. Present a “surprise book” each night. Let your child have something to look forward to at bedtime. During the day, create a game in which children try to guess what the book will be about that night. There is no need to buy a book for each day; check out a stack from the library and keep them hidden.

8. Create incentives. Before summer break begins, discuss with your children something that they can individually earn by reading 20 minutes a day. Create a chart to track their progress each day. In turn, they will feel a sense of achievement.

9. Create a game. Stop reading at any point and have your child, without showing where you are in the text, jump in and finish the paragraph. If your child does not know where you are immediately, that’s a point for you; however, if your child jumps right in, he or she earns the point. Keep track of points to determine a winner at the end.

10. Find books that coordinate with activities of the day.  For instance, if you are going ice skating, find a book about a famous ice hockey player or figure skater; if you are sledding, find a book about a blizzard; if you are watching a movie, find a book about Hollywood.

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My Child Spends Hours Completing School Assignments… How Can I Help Identify the Problem?

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It’s mid-November and we are approaching winter break, but before you take your vacation or staycation, you really want to discover the root of the problem. Why does my child have such difficulty completing school assignments?? Isn’t the point of homework to reinforce the lessons in school and not create confusion or a struggle at home? So that you can put your mind at ease to start out the new year fresh, while helping your child complete their school work and homework more successfully, here is a list of questions that you should use to guide you and discuss in more detail with your child’s teacher(s).

1. Does my child understand the classroom lessons so that they can complete any projects/homework/follow-up assignments that they are based on? Maybe information needs to be presented to them in a different way so that they understand the lesson and in turn allows your child to complete assignments.

2. Is there too much information presented in the lessons to comprehend for completion of assignments? Maybe assignments are too long and need to include less information for them to comprehend the material.

3. Does my child understand and follow the directions on assignments? Does my child understand what is being asked of them when completing school assignments? Maybe they sit for an hour contemplating how to tackle the assignment when they do not understand what is being asked of them OR maybe they complete the assignment incorrectly because the directions are unclear.

4. Does my child ask for assistance to complete assignments, when needed? It is okay to ask for help and children do not always necessarily know that it is OKAY. Make it clear that they SHOULD ask for help if and when needed.

5. Does my child complete school assignments to the best of their ability or rush to complete it to say that it is finished? Most children would prefer to engage in something that is more “fun” than a school assignment. Are they motivated to complete assignments properly or are they more interested in completing assignments, especially homework, quickly and with careless mistakes so that they can move on to the next activity or not be bothered by the assignments.

 

 

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Staying Healthy Over the Holidays

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Fall is here and Winter is on its way. While the coming months are a wonderful time of fellowship, family time, and holiday fun, the weather is taxing, calendars become full. Come January we feel as though we’ve been through a whirlwind of drink, food, and lack of exercise time. Our children are affected as well. They also experience an influx of sugar and excitement, lack of family dinners and structure around food. The following are my top 3 tips that can help your family eat healthy all year round and provide a structure and buffer to keep you on track for these busy months ahead.

The following are my top 3 tips sure to keep you and your kids healthy during this season:

1. Plan to sit down to Family Meals at least 4 times per week.

For children nutrition and health begin and end with family dynamic and parental modeling. Providing this structure and sticking to it ensures that family time is carved into even the busiest of weeks. Family meals should be planned out ahead of time allowing more nutritious food to become the priority. Studies show that family dinners lower the rates of obesity, eating disorders, helps to bolster self-esteem, grades, and has shown to build vocabulary better than reading!

For more information, inspiration, and recipes check out:

http://thefamilydinnerproject.org

2. Model healthy behaviors and your child will follow suit: TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

“Children learn to eat the food their parents eat,” said the great Ellyn Satter who quite literally wrote the book(s)on how to feed children at all ages.

This suggestion may be the hardest to change, because as busy adults our habits and choices tend to take a backseat to work and caretaking.  There is good reason however to allow the health of your children to be the motivation to evaluate those habits and make your own dietary changes a priority!  A startling 90% of the eating habits of adolescents and children are determined by what your child sees YOU model! Simply by role modeling a healthy diet, eating at the table and not skipping meals, there is no doubt you’ll have your entire family eating healthier and developing long lasting healthy habits in no time.

3. Pay attention to the physical and behavioral effects and changes food has on your child.

Last but not least, this tip may be the most important thing you can do to build, protect and promote your child’s health. Food is not created equal and neither are human beings, even children. We shouldn’t all eat the same “balanced diet” we hear about on the news. Why? It is because optimum health is not created equal! Each of us has a distinct bio-identity that can make a certain food medicine for one and yet poison for another. The best way to observe this in children is to watch for physical, physiological, and emotional changes that occur with food. Physical Changes include rashes, skin breakouts, drying or flaking of skin, or any irritations. Physiological can include GI distress (constipation, diarrhea, gas or bloating), headaches, body aches, fatigue, and nutrient deficiencies (height & weight issues) while emotional effects tend to promote hyper-activity, anxiety, aggression, depression, and in the case of those affected the exacerbation of autistic symptoms and ADHD symptoms.

Building a foundation of health for your family does take time, diligence, and patience, but making it a priority will no doubt lead to a healthy lifestyle now and in the years to come.

Thank you to Kylie Reiffert for sharing this advice with our families!

Kylie Reiffert is a nutritionist and holistic health expert with an educational background in both biochemistry and nutrition. She works with individuals and families constructing individualized nutrition plans to help you and your family reach optimum health, “Because YOU’RE Not Everyone and Everyone is Not YOU!” For more information email krnutritionfoods@gmail.com

 

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Holiday Travel with Kids Made Easy

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With holiday travel right around the corner a lot of people will be headed “over the river and through the woods” but as any parent knows, traveling with little ones is an adventure all on it’s own….and by the time you actually arrive at your destination you already need a vacation from your vacation.  Here are some easy and helpful tips to make sure your journey goes smoothly and you all arrive in good spirits no matter where you are going.

  • Pick a Time That Works Best for Your Family Routine:  Know your little one’s schedule and the most convenient time for your family to “get moving”. Some families are better leaving at night while the little ones sleep, while others are better hitting the road first thing in the morning. Also, keep in mind there might be traffic and/or delays depending on when you leave.
  • Engage the Kids In a Physical Activity Before Leaving: When traveling, children are often expected to sit for extended periods of time. Have them run around before getting in the car or plane so all that excess energy is already expended and they can tolerate sitting still for a longer period of time.
  • Leave Extra Time to Get To The Airport: Remember, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year. Make sure you have enough time to make your flight; but keep in mind, things always take longer
  • Don’t Allow Tech Toys to Replace “Real” Toys: While iPads, smartphones and tablets are great ways to occupy travel time you should expect delays (in the car or the airport) and all those devices have a tendency to run out of battery.  Make sure you have other activities readily available such as books, crayons, and small games (i.e., cards).  When all else fails, there is always “I spy” and there are many items you can “spy” in a crowded airport or packed automobile.
  • Bring Lots of Snacks: This may sound like a “duh” statement, but the key is to bring the right type of snacks.  Avoid anything sugary to prevent from amping a kid’s energy level. Sugar highs are never good when you’re confined to a plane or a car.
  • Listen to Audiobooks Together: This is a great activity that involves the
    entire family. You can check them out at the library so it won’t cost a thing and it is especially helpful on long drives.
  • Stick to Bedtime Routine: Obviously with any sort of travel, “routine” is interrupted. Don’t be stressed if nap time comes a little early or late, but try to your best to keep the kid’s on a sleep schedule. At nap time, quiet the conversation, put on relaxing music and pull down the window shade.

But most of all, no matter what “adventures” your travel leads to make sure you keep your sense of humor and enjoy the family time!  Happy holidays!

 

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Top 5 Signs Your Child has a Behavior Problem

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Do you find yourself feeling like a broken record, repeating directions, rules and basic “common sense” to your child?  Is it difficult to even use the restroom without worrying what’s happening in the playroom?  Here are the top 5 signs you may be dealing with a behavior problem:

#1:  My child needs constant attention, even if it’s negative

  • I am constantly saying my child’s name, especially to “stop”
  • I need to physically watch my child to make sure that he/she keeps his/her hands and feet to him/herself
  • My child continues to call for me or others (adults and children), even when it is clear that the person is busy, on the phone or talking to someone else

#2: My child has difficulty making and maintaining friendships

  • My child will not initiate or engage in play with a peer independently
  • My child will not join other children in play at the park or in school
  • My child often argues with friends and in turn other children do not want to play with him/her
  • My child does not want to share with peers and as a result other children no longer want to spend time with him/her or parents do not want to schedule play dates

#3: My child is easily frustrated

  • When presented with a challenge, my child gives up easily
  • If there is a change in routine or schedule, my child will throw a tantrum
  • When my child cannot verbalize wants and needs, he/she throws a tantrum

#4: My child has difficulty sharing and/or cooperating

  • In school and at home, my child does not want to share with his/her friends
  • My child does not understand the concept of turn taking –My child has no interest in engaging in play with peers

#5:  My child has a hard time listening to directions

  • My child does not pay attention or focus when I give instructions
  • My child ignores others when they give directions
  • My child is usually distracted when given directions
  • My child refuses to discontinue activities when given instructions for the next activity
  • My child refuses to clean up after one activity before moving on to another activity.

Please contact The Successful Child at 917-494-0262 or info@thesuccessfulchildny.com, if you are concerned that your child might have a behavior problem

 

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Top 5 Signs that Your Child is Struggling in School with Academics

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We made it to October! Now that school is underway, how is your child performing academically? Here are signs to look for to identify if your child might be experiencing difficulty in school:

Warning #1: My child takes more time then their peers to complete assignments

  • Does your child spend 3-4 hours on homework assignments when their peers finish in 1-2 hours?
  • Does your child lack self-confidence because they compare their performance in school with their peers?
  • Does your child ask for assistance, when they need it?

Warning #2 : My child has difficulty completing their schoolwork

  • Does your child understand the lessons?
  • Does your child need significant assistance to complete assignments?
  • Does your child understand what is expected of them when completing assignments?
  • Does your child follow directions?
  • Does your child complete their assignments to the best of their abilities or rush to complete it and say that it is finished?

Warning #3 • My child lacks motivation in school

  • Is your child interested in the subject matter presented to them?
  • Does your child have personal goals to be successful in school? – Does your child have reasons to be motivated and successful in school?

Warning #4 • My child has difficulty following directions

  • Does your child understand the directions?
  • Is the language being used with your child too difficult for them to understand?
  • Do directions need to be simplified for your child?
  • Is your child focused and/or paying attention when given directions?

Warning #5 • My child is unorganized with homework and classroom assignments in school

  • Does your child have a system in place to organize their classroom assignments and homework?
  • Does your child need adult assistance to be successful with organization?
  • Does your child use check lists to help organize? – Does your child ask for assistance, when needed?

Please contact The Successful Child at 917-494-0262 or info@thesuccessfulchildny.com, if your child needs assistance in school with academics

 

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Have Fun Trick or Treating While Staying Safe on Halloween

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While children look forward to trick or treating on Halloween all year, parents often worry. Here are some tips to ensure that everyone has a safe and fun Halloween.

1. A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children trick or treating around the neighborhood on Halloween.

2. If your child is old enough to go trick or treating on their own, outline an agreed upon route and have them check-in via cell phone or be at central location where you will be waiting for them.

3. Remind your child to stay in a group.

4. Make sure that they are aware of the time and synchronize clocks so that you can agree on a time for them to return home or meet up with you.

5. Wear reflective stickers/tape/strips and/or attach flashlight or light up keychain to costume.

6. Be sure that your child is aware of allergies and what they should and should not take while out trick or treating.  Look for teal pumpkins which indicate homes are giving away “non-food treats”.

7. Only go to homes with a porch light on. Never enter a home or car for a treat.

8. Don’t eat any unwrapped/open candy that they receive from trick or treating.

Everyone have a fun and safe Halloween!

 

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Is My Child Ready for School?

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What you can do as a parent to ensure that your child is prepared for school?

Parents face many questions, and even fears, before sending their little one into the classroom. How do I know if my child is ready for school? How does my child compare to their peers, academically and behaviorally? How do I give my child a competitive edge and ensure they are reaching their potential?

Key concepts that will allow you to know your child’s “school readiness” level are:

Understanding and Appreciating your child’s many strengths and talents

  • Play up strengths and talents and use them to help compensate for weaknesses
    • Are they creative or logical minded?

Understanding the nature of your child’s difficulties and give the tools they need to be successful in school

  • Does your child follow directions or seem to understand directions?
  • Does your child ask for help/assistance, when needed?
  • Does your child lack self-confidence?

Knowing skills to address your child’s individual needs

  • What can you do with your child at home to build on skills

Determine if services or other interventions are appropriate

  • Should you consider a speech, occupational or physical therapy evaluation?
  • Does your child need a behavior plan?

Make sure you are making informed school placement decisions

  • Determine if your child will thrive in a more structured/organized classroom versus an independent/free style/Montessori classroom

Have a knowledge of how to advocate for your child in school

  • You are the expert on your child, identify which skills your child has down and which ones could still use work.
  • When attending school meetings, address these needs as an informed parent with school staff

Know strategies to help increase your child’s confidence and decrease problematic behaviors

  • Behavior problems in school are often a result of difficulties that children have and are aware of, but do not know how to deal with; therefore, identifying these issues early can preventive these behaviors from starting

If you find that you don’t feel confident that you have enough information to determine if your child is ready for school, we encourage you to talk to your child’s teacher and to really pay attention to your child and their play style.  Are they more independent or do they need a lot of guidance? Are they confident around other children?  How do they react when they lose a game or get into an argument with peers? Knowing your child’s tendencies and behavior problems is a great start to knowing their school readiness level.

Parents who want to know more, or who want guidance themselves may consider getting an academic evaluation.  Academic evaluations are created with your child in mind, and more importantly, created specifically for your child.  The evaluation’s purpose is to identify and address your child’s individual and specific needs. Having your child evaluated helps to determine your child’s school readiness skills, including areas of strength/excellence and weakness/need. In addition, the results of an evaluation will allow you, as the parent, to know how your child is functioning in comparison to their peers and provide you with the ability to not only start off the year on the right foot, giving your child an opportunity to enhance his or her learning from day one, but it also will give you the confidence that you have made excellent decisions and have scientifically tested methods to assist your child before there is even time for a problem to surface.

Overall, an evaluation will provide you with information you need in a world where classroom sizes are growing and the face of education is changing. With the focus being on your child, knowing the above information is integral in helping you, as the parent, feel in control to make educated decisions as it relates to your child’s education. It also gives the teacher information for how to help your child achieve success in the classroom.  Remember parents, no matter how you decide to prepare for school, you are ultimately your child’s best advocate and the more you know about your child being ready for school the more you and your child can excel at making school productive and enjoyable.

 

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Questions to Ask the Teacher at Your Child’s Back to School Open House

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When you attend Open House night at your child’s school this year, don’t forget to ask these important questions to help set your child up for a successful school year.

Question #1: How much homework should I expect each night?

  • You want to know how much time your child should be spending on homework each night
  • You also want to know what kind of homework your child will have (i.e., worksheets, reading assignments, reports, projects)

Question #2: What are the classroom behavioral expectations/rules so that I can keep them consistent outside of school?

  • Consistency is key!
  • If you keep the same or similar rules at home that are used in school, it is less confusing for the child and also makes it easier for the child to know what is expected of them

Question #3: What can I do to help support learning at home?

  • Are there activities or lessons that I can do with my child at home?
  • Should I help them with their homework or let them complete it independently?

Question #4a: How are conflicts between students handled?

  • Will the parents be contacted?
  • How will the teacher will follow up with each student if a situation occurs?
  • What might some of the consequences be?

Question #4b: How are conflicts between students and teachers handled?

  • Again, will the teacher contact the parents and what is the follow up, depending on the situation

Question #5: What is the most effective way to contact the teacher?

  • Does the teacher prefer to be contacted by phone or email?
  • Make it clear that you, as a parent, are very interested in staying connect with the school and that the teacher may contact you for positive things, in addition to problems

We hope you have a successful Back to School Open House Night.

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Helpful Tips for Working Parents

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Being a working parent can be tough. On this National Working Parents Day, we both salute you and offer some tips that may help you stay on top of your work, while still having plenty of quality family time.

Start each day on a happy note. Give yourself more time to enjoy each other by packing lunches, backpacks and briefcases the night before.

Manage your time productively. Use time spent in the car and/or walking to enjoy each other’s company, sing songs, catch up on what’s going on at school, or discuss fun activities for the weekend. During this time, put all electronic devices away, DON’T use your phone and take away headphones and handheld devices from the kids (the same goes for dinner time).

When you cook, make “extra” dinner to freeze. This will allow you on another night to quickly thaw out a meal when you get home, instead of stressing over an entire new meal.

An evening meal does not always have to be a hot meal. If you end up late at the office, there is nothing wrong with sandwiches for dinner. With the time you save by not cooking, you can do something fun, like play a game or hang out in the backyard and/or at the park.

Plan regular enjoyable family activities that are simple. Once a month, schedule an activity, such as taking the family to a sporting event or going on a hike, bowling, ice skating, etc. It is these activities that provide children with positive family memories.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s ok not to be supermom or dad ALL of the time. Don’t ever feel bad asking a friend or babysitter to step in when you need them.  Remember, taking care of yourself ensures that you are better able to parent and take care of your children.

By taking these suggestions into consideration, working parents can use time with their family more efficiently. While it can be difficult, try to leave work stresses at work and focus on spending more quality time with your children when you are home.

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