TrainToRead.com

December 20, 2013
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Cry Baby, Cry Baby

Who cries at their parent-teacher conference? Apparently I do.

I’ve been worried about my preschooler’s academic progress since he started school four months ago. Perhaps it’s irrational, perhaps not. With all the expectations spun by Common Core Standards, I’m feeling the brunt of anxiety.

My personal expectations for my 4-and-a-half-year-old son are to know all of his letters, numbers to at least 10, and to write his name.

He knows his numbers to 10, good. But he only knows two letters. And while he can verbally spell his name, only I, his mother, can recognize it on paper. One may assume that I don’t work with him at home. Not so. I’ve tried flash cards, books, games, involving his big brother, you name it.  My son doesn’t have a learning disability, just a reluctant attitude.

So, back to the parent-teacher conference. I expected her to tell me he needed extra help, a tutor perhaps. She didn’t. Instead, she showed me how he’d progressed in drawing his monthly self portrait, what letters he could recognize, and pointed out a couple of numbers he missed when counting to 20. I looked at the progress sheets she laid before me, and fixated on the letter sheet. An X was marked through the 24 letters he didn’t know. Only two were circled, C and O. Tears rose quickly, stealing my voice and ability to communicate. “I’m so worried about him,” was all I could get out.

She assured me that he would be okay, and offered suggestions to encourage him to participate in learning at home. For example, making wearing paper word necklaces for the entire family to wear, and writing words on post-its and sticking them around the house.

I’m grateful for her reassurance, and I’m taking her advice because here’s what I’ve learned: If a kindergartener isn’t reading, the teacher will recommend holding back the student.

So post-its here we come. The family will be garnered with word necklaces daily. And maybe, just maybe he’ll meet the Common Core Standards in kindergarten. Then I can hopefully avoid another embarrassing breakdown during a parent-teacher conference.

September 13, 2013
by Admin
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Parents (magazine)

Parents (magazine) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Calm Parenting
Just wanted to share a fresh parenting approach I read in Parents magazine titled “A Calm Approach to Discipline” [October 2013].  As the mother of a spirited 6-year-old, I have searched relentlessly for ways to diffuse his temper tantrums. The article introduced “The Mindful Method,” which teaches children (and parents) calming techniques via child-friendly breathing and sensory exercises.
Consider the use of a snow globe (I know you’ve got one somewhere, right?) I had Noah shake his “Noah’s Ark” snow globe, which allowed him to see himself as the glitter storm that erupted when he shook it. As the glitter settled and the storm dissipated, so did his anger. Although, I’ll admit it took more than one shake, the exercise served to shift his focus away from what angered him.
Another approach that I’ll try soon is a breathing exercise tailored for little night owls. If you have a little one like my four year old who constantly pops up out of bed because they’re “not tiiiiirrred,” try this: Place a stuffed animal on their tummy and have them take deep breaths. Yep, that lil’ teddy goes up and down with each breath. This not only gives children a sense of cause and effect, but also encourages them to take deep breaths, which lead to relaxation, and ultimately sleep.
The other technique that I’m eager to try is a fight buster in the car. If you have more than one child, you know that car can be a traveling war on wheels, and it can get loud! The Parents’ article recommends rolling down the windows and having each child name three things they can hear. That’ll keep ‘em quiet…unless they fight over who can name something first…ugh. Deep breaths, mom. Deep breaths.
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June 21, 2013
by Admin
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Homemade Ring Toss Game!

Children love to create. Why not let them try this playful creation for hours of fun. This homemade ring toss game can be done indoors or out.

You need a few plastic bottles filled with water, sand or small
stones (2 liter bottles are best) and 20 paper plates (the inexpensive plates work fine for this).

Glue two paper plates together and cut out the middles to make a ring.

When you glue two together it will add weight to the rings.

Paint the newly created rings in bright colors and hand them out
to the kids.

Make a line with chalk or rope for them to stand behind and place
the bottles at various intervals and distances away from the children.

Anybody who manages to get a ring over a bottle takes one step
back and tries again.

See how far away they can get and still manage to ring the bottles.

You can play this game at a party, play date, or just a lazy summer afternoon when the kids whine “I’m booooored.”  Have fun!

June 3, 2013
by Admin
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Walking and Learning

Want to learn something new with the kids? Look no further than 
your own backyard. Take them out for a walk in your neighborhood 
and let them  explore the houses, parks and shops in the area. 

Talk about the older buildings and imagine what life might have 
been like in the "olden days".

A trip to the local library can be good fun and useful for
researching "the way it was" in your area, and it can use 
up a lot of otherwise fruitless hours of kids having nothing 
to do. 

If you don't know all of, or any of your neighbors now could 
be a good time to meet them! Many times it's good to know 
your neighbors because you can have each others backs and 
keep an eye on each others homes and kids :)