The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Safe Outdoor Winter Fun

This article comes from my friends at  Lots of good advice!

With rising childhood obesity rates and the increasing illnesses that accompany a sedentary lifestyle, it’s no secret that kids should be encouraged to get outside and engage in active play. As the lower temperatures approach, so does cold and flu season, which can be greatly exacerbated when kids are held indoors where germs can easily be spread through respiratory droplets and exhalations. Keeping kids safe while they’re out in the cold, however, is an absolute necessity. The following guidelines can help you ensure that your kids’ activity levels don’t suffer at the onset of winter and that they stay safe until the spring thaw rolls around.
  1. Use Sunscreen – Protecting kids’ skin from the damaging rays of the sun is a major priority for most parents and caregivers during the summer months, but one that often falls to the wayside when temperatures cool down. In fact, the reflection of the sun off of snow and ice can be almost as damaging as direct exposure. Make sure that your youngsters are slathered with sunscreen before they hit the outdoors.
  2. Waterproof Clothing is Key – Keeping kids warm during the winter chill relies heavily upon your ability to keep them dry. Melting ice and snow can leave most fabrics wet, soggy and very cold. Make sure that you invest in some waterproof or water-resistant clothing and shoes, especially proper boots.
  3. Know the Signs of Frostbite – Frostbite occurs when your child’s skin or extremities are literally frozen. The nose, ears, fingers, cheeks and toes are most commonly affected, and it can be quite dangerous when these extremities suffer from frostbite. Signs of superficial frostbite include itching, numbness, tingling or burning sensations. The affected skin may become white, flushed, yellow or blue and appear frozen, and will be cold to the touch.
  4. Dress for Success – Just because your kids are bundled against the cold doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re wearing safe clothing. Hoods and hats don’t take the place of helmets for activities like biking or skating, while tight clothing that restricts movement can present a danger as it inhibits kids’ ability to move and balance properly. Be sure that your brood is dressed appropriately for outdoor play, not just for cold temperatures.
  5. Insist on Warm-Up Breaks – When kids are enjoying themselves and are particularly absorbed in an activity, it’s easy for them to lose track of time. That’s why it’s important for you to insist on periodic warm-up breaks to check for signs of hypothermia or frostbite and ensure that they don’t get too cold.
  6. Keep Ice Skating Safe – Ice skating is a beloved, time-honored cold-weather outdoor activity. It can also be quite dangerous, though. Public areas designated for ice skating are far safer than ponds or bodies of water on your own property, which may not be thoroughly frozen and could crack under kids’ weight. Be sure that any ice your children are going to skate on is frozen solid, and that they’re wearing the right protective gear.
  7. Smart Sledding – Racing down a snow-covered hill on a sled is one of life’s great thrills, even for adults. Kids love sledding, but it’s important that they understand the basic safety rules before setting out. Sledding down hills that terminate near a road, down paths that have obstacles like jumps, rocks or bumps, or down icy slopes are all sledding safety no-nos. Kids should also never be pulled on sleds behind moving vehicles of any kind.
  8. Don’t Forget About Dehydration – Dehydration isn’t a concern reserved solely for warm-weather months. While your children are enjoying a session of outdoor play, be sure that they’re taking in plenty of fluids.
  9. Scarf Safety – Scarves are useful tools for protecting against the cold, as they can be wrapped around almost any part of the body that feels cold. However, they can also become ensnared in moving parts of toys or overhanging branches, closed in doors, or otherwise tangled in a manner that presents a strangulation risk. It’s better to opt for cowl-style scarves until kids are a bit older and less rambunctious.
  10. Double-Check Equipment – Making sure that any equipment for outdoor play, whether new or old, is in good condition, fits properly and is otherwise suitable for use before sending kids outside with it. Damaged or broken equipment can very easily cause injuries, especially if kids are using them improperly to compensate for the damage.
While outdoor play is important and can help to stave off cold-weather ailments, like the flu or the common cold, it’s important to understand that there are times when it’s simply too cold for your brood to safely be outside. Extreme temperatures can be very dangerous, causing a child’s body to lose heat faster than it can be generated. The end result is hypothermia, which can be life-threatening.

Happy parenting!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Portrait of Pushpa Basnet

Pushpa Basnet of Nepal has been named the 2012 Hero of the Year.  Why?  Because she recognized a need in Nepal and strives to right the wrong against children.  When adults are incarcerated in Nepal, their children are also incarcerated with them if they have no other family member available for the care of the irchildren.  Say what?  I’ll be the first person to say that children need to be with their parents, but not in a prison!  Basnet started a home in Kathmandu where those children can receive food, education, medical care, and a caring environment while their parents serve their sentences.  Sometimes those parents will be there well into their children’s adulthood. 
"It's not fair for (these) children to live in the prison because they haven't done anything wrong," said Basnet in a CNN interview with Kathleen Toner. "My mission is to make sure no child grows up behind prison walls. I had a very fortunate life, with a good education. I should give it to somebody else."
Basnet’s journey to this endeavor began when she was 21 as an undergraduate majoring in social work.  For one of her assignments, she had to visit the women imprisoned in Kathmandu.  The living conditions of the children there appalled her.  They were dirty, hungry, and uneducated.  So, with the help of friends and family, she raised 70,000 rupees (about $885).  In a poor, underdeveloped country, that was quite an accomplishment. (According to UNICEF, 55% of the population lives below the international poverty line.)  In 2005, she used that money to start her nonprofit organization – The Early Childhood Development Center.  This center provided day care to preschool children.  The children returned to their mothers at night.
Two years later, she realized the need for a residential home.  There, the children live in a house without bars called Butterfly Home. All the children are there with their parents’ consent.  They are allowed to grow, mature, and learn in a more natural environment.  The children visit their mothers on school holidays.  Basnet has helped more than 100 children of incarcerated parents. She has expanded her efforts to find alternative residences for some children while helping with school enrollment, free meals, and medical care for others. 
Seeing the need to rehabilitate the parents of these children, she began Change Fusion Nepal.  This organization teaches the inmates to make handicrafts inside their cells.  Basnet sells these handicrafts so when the women are released, they will have a sustainable livelihood for themselves and their children.  Sixty of the children she has helped have been successfully reunited with their parents after they were released from prison.
Pushpa Basnet is only twenty-eight-years old, but she is making a huge difference in the lives of Nepali women and children. Without Basnet, the children of incarcerated parents would have been destined for a life similar to their parents – theft, drugs, and prostitution. Now the children are receiving an education and the parents have legally marketable skills. Because Basnet has been honored as the 2012 CNN Hero of the Year, she has received $250,000 to continue her work. That is in addition to the $50,000 that each of the top 10 Heroes are receiving.
Want to get involved with Basnet’s work? Check out the Early Childhood Development Center website at and see how to help.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Why Grounding Doesn't Work

This guest blog comes from my friends at  I couldn't have said it better myself!  I have never grounded my children and I think them grew up to be morally strong and emotionally stable adults. It is my opinion that children should earn a privilege without worrying whether it will be removed for a misbehavior.

Grounding is a method of behavioral modification that’s been around for generations, and enforces the idea of suspending privileges and freedom as a result of breaking the rules. Though the longevity of the method seems to suggest that it’s effective, many parents are finding that not to be the case. If your child isn’t responding well to being grounded, here are 10 possible reasons that this method of discipline isn’t working.
  1. It Creates the Need to Be Sneaky – Grounding a stubborn kid can often make them a sneaky stubborn kid. This is usually because they feel that they’re forced to result to subterfuge in order to circumvent their punishment.
  2. Grounding Removes All Motivation For Good Behavior – The very nature of being grounded for a specified length of time removes all motivation for good behavior, as kids feel that they’re going to be forced to continue their confinement “no matter what.”
  3. It Quickly Becomes a Cycle – When kids result to lying and sneaking around to get out of their grounding, they usually get caught, which then leads to a longer term and even more lying. The cycle repeats ad infinitum, resulting in frustrated parents and kids.
  4. Parents Can Be Tempted to Shorten Terms – Living with a kid that’s been grounded for a few days is miserable for the entire household. When life with a surly kid becomes too much, parents often relent and leave kids feeling as if they’ve been rewarded for their bad behavior.
  5. It Prevents the Possibility of a Dialogue Between Parents and Kids – Kids get angry when they’re grounded, and angry kids don’t typically have any interest in speaking to their parents, let alone engaging in a constructive conversation.
  6. Kids Become Defiant – When kids know that they’re going to be grounded for small infractions, it makes them defiant and more likely to engage in higher-risk behavior because they know that they’re going to end up on restriction for the slightest slip or the biggest blunder.
  7. Kids Sometimes Overcompensate For “Lost Time” Later – All too often, teenagers bide their time and live through excessive grounding by reminding themselves of exactly how much high-risk fun they’ll have in college or after they’ve moved out. In a bid to overcompensate, these kids are usually the ones that end up in big trouble.
  8. Excessive Use is Counterproductive – Being grounded excessively leaves kids feeling as if they’re on indefinite house arrest, with no end in sight. The motivation to behave in even a barely acceptable manner is removed, and kids can become almost impossible to control.
  9. Grounding Doesn’t Help Kids Learn to Make the Right Decisions – Being grounded in a fit of anger only teaches kids what not to do; when they’re sent to their room in solitude, they’re never being taught what the right decision would have been.
  10. It’s Not Uniformly Effective – Grounding works sometimes, for some kids, under some circumstances. It’s not even a surefire method from one day to the next with the same child. Like any other blanket option, it usually isn’t tailored to the specific needs of an individual.
The most effective method of teaching kids and teens right from wrong is to create an environment where they feel as if they can speak freely and be heard without judgment, and where parents can calmly explain the consequences of bad behavior. Any methods used in anger are likely to be ineffective or to backfire.

Happy parenting!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Start a Gift Cabinet

What a great idea!  Keep all gift items, wrappings, cards, and ribbons in one location. While that may seem like a simple solution, the author of this guest blog puts a unique twist on the storage - add gifts you got from BOGO sales or after holiday sales, even regifting items qualify for this cabinet! This article comes from my friends at

It’s time for the kids to go to another birthday party and, unfortunately, you haven’t bought a gift yet. There’s barely enough time to get to the party as it is and now you have to figure out how to make time for a stop at the store and figure out something to buy for the birthday child. Everyone is in a rush and stressed out. Does this situation sound familiar? All of this stress can be avoided by having a gift cupboard; here’s how to create one.

Find a spot to store everything
This may sound like the most difficult part, and it might be, but here are some suggestions: you can use a small linen closet, a hope chest at the end of your bed, a couple of boxes on the top shelf in your closet, under bed storage, or buy either a new or used cupboard. If you buy a used cupboard you can clean it up and paint it or stain it to match your home and it will blend right in.

Buying the gifts
Getting the gifts to put in the gift cupboard is a gradual process. You’ll want to get into the habit of checking the clearance area everywhere you go and watching the sale ads. After Christmas sales are also a really good time to pick up some good buys at a fraction of the normal cost.

You should be on the lookout for games and toys that fall into the price range that you would normally spend for a birthday party. Maybe you find a bunch of board games on clearance, or several popular action figures. Make sure to pick up a mix of both boy gifts and girl gifts to give yourself a good variety. A few unisex gifts wouldn’t hurt, just in case you run out of one or the other.

This gift cupboard doesn’t have to be just for children’s birthday parties – it can be for adults too. When you go someplace for dinner and you’d like to take a hostess gift, it needs to be in your gift cupboard so you don’t have to stress about it. Put a few bottles of wine in different varieties in there, some wine charms, coasters and other small gifts that you think your friends would like. It’s also smart to include some small gifts that you can exchange with friends and acquaintances on the spur of the moment. These come in especially handy during the holiday season. A friend may unexpectedly drop by with a small gift, and it’s nice to have something to give them in return. Another good idea is to keep a few gift cards on hand for various places around town.

Stocking the gift wrap
While it’s not mandatory to keep your gift wrapping stuff in this cupboard, it might be a good idea to do so since you will be using them in conjunction with these items.
Include gift bags in various sizes and colors, white tissue paper (will work with any color bag), rolls of gift wrap for different occasions, wine bottle sleeves, bubble wrap, Styrofoam peanuts and plenty of tape. A few small boxes might be a good idea too so that the odd shaped items can go into a box for wrapping.

Accessories to go on a wrapped present or gift bag are what make people gasp in surprise and tell you how lovely the gift wrapping is. This part takes no talent or craftiness, so don’t panic if you are not crafty. Include plenty of ribbon, both regular and curling. Buy a few pine picks for the holidays. These can easily be added to the top of a gift with some tape. Wrap the ribbon around the gift and tie a simple bow. Tuck a pick or some sort of gift dangle into the bow and you are done. You will look like a rock star and it was all stress free because of your gift cupboard.

Someday, when you have some time on your hands between appointments or just a free day to go shopping, you can take your time and stand and read through some greeting cards. Choose a variety of cards, such as thank you, sympathy, male birthday, female birthday, congratulations, etc. Keep these cards in your gift cupboard and you won’t have to worry if you remember someone’s birthday at the last minute or you hear about someone having a death in the family. You will be able to go to the gift cupboard and grab a card and send it on the same day without rushing to the store.

Next time you are out shopping and you see a sale, keep in mind that this is how the gift cupboard starts. You can pick up two gifts instead of just one and stash the other one away for another child some other time. Happy gifting!

And happy parenting!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Child’s Bill of Literary Rights

  1. A child should have a wide variety of books available at school.  A classroom that uses only textbooks limits a child’s reading to only what the teacher (or the established curriculum) has chosen for the class. A classroom library should be organized by topic so a child can become immersed in a topic of interest. Use plastic storage bins labeled by topic and add books as you acquire them.  This way you know which topics need additions.
  2. A child should have a wide variety of books available at home.  Naturally, your home does not need to look like the children’s section of your local library.  However, you should have a rotating rack of books for your child’s selection at all times.  Rotating? How does that happen?  Easy – trade books with friends, go to a local book exchange, set up a book exchange in your child’s school.
  3. A child should be encouraged to read at least half an hour each day.  How do you do that?  The best way is by role modeling.  If families set aside a Family Reading Time after dinner or before bedtime, the children will begin to expect this activity and plan for the next book they want to read.  Teachers don’t have this same luxury because they are bound by a strict schedule and curriculum.  They can, however, provide guidelines for implementing the Family Reading Time at home (see the end of this article).
  4. A child should be encouraged to share the knowledge gained from reading a book.  You don’t have to have a classroom or family weekly book club discussion, although that might not be a bad idea if you can find the time!  Instead, you could have a family book bulletin board where family members post the title of book they just finished with a brief summary or a drawn picture.  Divide the bulletin board by age range.  Decorate it seasonally – make it attractive to encourage participation!
  5. A child should enjoy reading.  This is the single most important item in a Child’s Bill of Literary Rights.  If a child enjoys reading, he or she will develop a mature vocabulary that will help him to lead a successful life in school and beyond into adulthood.  Consider these statistics and then restructure your family time to include a time to help children enjoy books of all kinds – both fiction and nonfiction:

·         Children learn an average of 4,000 to 12,000 new words each year as a result of reading books. (Scholastic: Understanding How Classroom & Libraries Work: Research Results -

·         Between grades 1 and 3, it is estimated that economically disadvantaged students' vocabularies increase by about 3,000 words per year and middle-class students' vocabularies increase by about 5,000 words per year. (University of Oregon: Big Ideas in Beginning Reading -

·         Research has shown that children who read even ten minutes a day outside of school experience substantially higher rates of vocabulary growth between second and fifth grade than children who do little or no reading. (Robert C. Anderson, 1992, Center for the Study of Reading)


How to schedule a Family Reading Time

The concept of a Family Reading Time may be foreign to some families who are bound by busy sports schedules, an overload of assigned homework, and general housekeeping duties.  Here are some ideas for starting and maintaining a Family Reading Time.

  1.  Set aside even a half hour every day for reading.  This will benefit your children enormously.  Be a strong role model by having your own book (either paper or electronic) handy.  If you use an electronic book, don’t cheat and read emails while your children read Harry Potter. 
  2. By the time children reach school age, their reading habits have already been established.  Even infants benefit from the cadence of a parent reading Dr. Seuss to them.  Reading aloud while others read silently can be very distracting.  Tell the older children that you will be having a special Family Reading Time with the non-readers.  
  3.  If you read to them only before bedtime, they will come to view reading as something to cause sleepiness.  Schedule a Family Reading Time before prime time TV to avoid conflict with preferred programming for the children and the adults in the house.  After dinner is a good time for most families.
  4. Sometimes it is difficult to schedule a common Family Reading Time.  Ask your children for their input and see if you can establish a common time when they can all agree to read their favorite books.  You may only be able to establish a Family Reading Time once or twice a week, rather than once a day.  That’s okay!  Reading every Sunday night is better than not reading at all.
  5. Remember that the Family Reading Time is for extra reading.  Assigned reading for school or work belongs outside of the FUN Family Reading Time.  Magazines don’t count, either.  People tend to look at the pictures rather than read the stories and articles they contain. 
  6. Schedule a monthly trip to the library.  Most libraries have four-week intervals for their circulation.  Know how many books your child will read in a month and only get that many.  If you overload a child with ten books when he or she may only read two in that time period, your child will become overwhelmed and may jump between books without finishing any of them.  Be prepared to renew a book for two more weeks if your child doesn’t finish in time. 
  7. Take a break from the Family Reading Time occasionally to have a Family Book Event.  That might be the creating of book marks (put out poster board, markers, crayons, etc.) and then laminate them.  Or you might simply have a discussion about books in general.  See what everybody likes about the books they have read.  Keep the discussion positive.  Don’t allow negative comments.  You might even decide to all read the same book and then watch the accompanying or related movie.  However, everyone, even the adults, needs to agree to read this book!  If only one person does not want to read the book, this event won’t go well.  Consider using this time to write letters to grandparents, telling them about the book that their grandchildren just read.  What fun!
  8. Set up a reward system for reading the books.  I don’t mean you should offer candy for each book read.  I mean that you should verbally recognize the reading your child has done by discussing the story.  Tell about your book, as well, so he understands that reading isn’t just for kids!  Consider creating a Family Reading Time bulletin board where you post titles of books currently being read, or that your family has finished.  You might even have a thermometer poster where the red goes up as the number of books read increases.  When the red reaches a certain level, go out for ice cream, pizza, or a movie.  Get creative with your reward system and customize it to your family’s interests.

Note from Entelechy Education:  The EnteleTronsTM books are a perfect addition to a teacher’s bookshelf and Family Reading Time.  Why?  Because the books deliver educational topics in a fun manner.  Children learn intellectual STEM topics and moral lessons while they increase their literacy and love of learning through reading about the adventures of the EnteleTronsTM.  Enjoy these books as part of a larger unit on those STEM topics or character education.  They might just jump start your children to a lifetime of learning through books!

Happy Parenting and Happy Teaching!



Thursday, November 8, 2012

How to Throw a Glow-in-the-Dark Party

This article comes from my friends at   These ideas are awesome for any party and you can use any theme to implement them.  Use holiday themes, color themes, or combine with other themes - like a glow-in-the-dark safari party.  Have fun!

There’s something about running around in the dark that thrills kids of all ages. For your child’s next party, why not throw a glow in the dark party? Don’t think you have to wait for your child’s next birthday to take advantage of this idea – this can also be the perfect activity for a fun sleepover. In fact, glow in the dark parties are so much fun that you just might find yourself enjoying the party as much as the kids are!

You can typically find glow in the dark ink online and in some craft stores. To add a fun twist to party invitations and get the kids excited about the prospect of the glow in the dark party, print some of the information regularly and then let your guests know that to find out more details about the party they’ll have to read the rest of the invitation in a dark place. You can also order glow in the dark invitations pre-made if you don’t have time to make them yourself.

Blow up balloons and insert a glow stick inside before tying them off. This will make the entire balloon glow. You can also take this idea one step further by using helium balloons and lining the sidewalk that leads to your house with the glowing, floating balloons. To make sure the balloons stay in place, tie a string to each balloon and then tie the string to the ground using a golf tee. Fluorescent paint will glow under black light, so you can paint some inexpensive thrift store finds to use as decorations on your food table. Fill the house with other glow in the dark items. String twinkle lights back and forth across the room so it’s not too dark. Buy fluorescent streamers that will glow under a black light as you string them around the room. Hang paper lanterns over the food table and insert glow sticks in them.

Buy some inexpensive T-shirts or tote bags and paint them with glow in the dark paint, which is available at most craft stores. These paints look good in the light or in the dark.
Next, try your hand at making glow in the dark slime! Mix together 2 cups of water and ½ cup of Borax and shake to combine. In a separate container mix together equal parts white school glue and water. Add a few drops of glow in the dark paint and some neon food coloring to the glue and water mixture. Then add a few drops of Borax solution at a time to the glue solution and stir. Keep adding and mixing until you have glow in the dark slime. There will be a little water left over in the slime, which you can dump out before playing with the slime. To make the slime thicker, add more Borax into the water at the beginning.

For drinks you can serve anything that has tonic water in it, because tonic water glows under black lights. Another option is to make cups that glow. You can make these by taking a large plastic disposable cup and putting a glow stick in it. Straws that are twisted into a circle are a good option because they will stay in the cup without pushing up on the other cup. Then, nestle a clear cup into the bigger cup and you’re done. Fill with the clear cup with your beverage of choice and it will glow from within.

Glow in the dark Jell-O is always a big hit. You can substitute half of the water that the recipe calls for with tonic water so that the Jell-O will glow under the black light. Everyone will get a kick out of eating glowing food.

Neon colors will typically glow under a black light, so you can serve neon frosted cupcakes for dessert. Any other food that you would normally serve at a party will look extra spooky eaten in the dark.

Play flashlight tag. The rules are the same as a regular game of tag, with one exception: everyone has a flashlight and chases each other in a thrilling game of tag in the dark.
You can also set up a glow in the dark treasure hunt where you hide glow in the dark objects during the day and then once the sun goes down everyone can go out and see if they can find all of the items.
Play with glow in the dark bubbles. You can make bubble solution using tonic water and dish soap, or you can actually buy glow in the dark bubbles.
Use glow in the dark chalk to make a hopscotch board in the driveway. Everything old becomes new and different when it’s played in the dark. Make sure to use something that glows in the dark for a marker or you will be spending a lot of time hunting for the rock you threw in the dark.

Favor Bags
This part is easy; just include anything that glows in the dark! There are so many toys that glow in the dark now that it’s not difficult to find a lot of fun, glow in the dark party favors.
Glow in the dark parties are fun and quick to throw together. Next time you are looking for a party theme that is a little new and unusual try doing a glow in the dark party.

Happy parenting!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

How to help children during times of crisis

Whether it was during Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, or any other natural disaster, parents are the primary teachers for their children on how to handle a crisis situation.  Here are some pointers on how to help your children accept the temporary state of disorganization…

  1. Keep calm!  When children see their parents angry, loud, and out of control, their personalities degrade quickly.  Yes, it is frustrating to be living in a shelter with many inconveniences, or at home without power and heat, but teach your children through your role-modeling that a serene family island amid an ocean of discord is the best way to weather the aftermaths of the storm.
  2. Keep busy!  Think of games you can play with your children that will amuse and educate them during a time when they have no electronic games or school assignments to complete.  Get creative with your activities.  Develop math games, encourage creative writing, develop plans for the future.
  3. Keep positive!  Think about all the things that you can be thankful for: That there is a Red Cross in place to help, that there are people who want to volunteer with the recovery, and that you are together.  Have your children come up with their own ideas for gratitude during a difficult situation.
  4. Be patient!  Help likely won’t come when you most need it.  However, it will come eventually.  FEMA takes time to process requests.  Volunteers take time to feed everyone and distribute clothing. Linemen take time to restore power. Show your children that all will come together in time, just not in the time they are expecting.
  5. Keep your family together!  If your child wants to play with another child on the other side of the shelter, go with him and take the rest of your family with you, if that is permitted.  If not, remind your child that safety is your primary concern during this difficult period and that you need to stay together.
  6. Use common sense!  During a time of crisis, common sense is usually the first thing to leave our minds.  Help children to remember that they need to think twice before acting.  They need to ask you before leaving your side for whatever reason, even to use the bathroom. 
According to the Dalai Lama, “There are two kinds of happiness - the temporary pleasure derived primarily from material comfort alone and another more enduring comfort that results from the thorough transformation and development of the mind. We can see in our own lives that the latter form of happiness is superior because when our mental state is calm and happy, we can easily put up with minor pains and physical discomforts. On the other hand, when our mind is restless and upset, the most comfortable physical facilities do not make us happy.”   Help your children to have calm, restful minds so they can find comfort within themselves and with their families.

Happy parenting (despite your unfortunate current situation)


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How to discipline your kids in front of their friends

This guest blog with valuable information comes from my friends at  In fact, this advice is awesome whether your child is with friends, family, or in public. 

When your child acts out in front of his friends or classmates, figuring out the best way to discipline him without humiliating him in the presence of others or damaging his self-esteem isn’t always easy. These delicate situations demand careful handling to ensure that your child understands what he’s done wrong and that there will be consequences for his actions, all without incurring the teasing wrath of onlooking peers.

Privately Acknowledge His Behavior
If you’re unable to send your child the message that his behavior is unacceptable without garnering the attention of his friends, it’s best to pull him aside briefly to acknowledge it in the most private manner possible. Separating your child from the situation allows you to discuss the matter without the added pressure of observing eyes, and is far more effective than harshly scolding him in front of other children his age. Sometimes simply pointing out that the behavior he’s exhibiting isn’t appropriate is enough to remind a child that he’s allowing himself to get carried away, which is something that’s easy for youngsters to do when they’re part of a crowd.

Let Him Know – Quietly – That You’ll Be Discussing the Matter Later
There may be times when your child is misbehaving in a crowd, but pulling him aside to reprimand him isn’t feasible. Rather than resorting to public shaming, let him know that the two of you will be having a conversation later about how he’s acting and that there are consequences from his choice to comport himself in such a manner. In addition to preventing a public confrontation that has the potential to be deeply embarrassing for both of you, this method will also give your child a chance to consider his misbehavior and give you the opportunity to regain your composure. Angry discussions are rarely productive ones when it comes to correcting kids’ behavior, and the forced cooling-down period can benefit you both tremendously.

Be Calm and Respectful of His Feelings
Maintaining a firm grip on your temper isn’t always easy when your child is acting out in front of other people, but it’s important to remember that allowing yourself to lose control will only make the situation worse for both of you. Shouting at your child in a group setting will not only leave his friends and their parents with a less than favorable opinion of your parenting tactics, but it will attract more attention to the behavior in question than is warranted. Being publicly berated by a parent or caregiver is also a very belittling experience for a child, which can cause him to lash out in an attempt to regain some of his pride. Expressing disapproval regarding your child’s behavior can be done respectfully and is the best way to approach the situation when you’re in public or at home.

Don’t Threaten or Criticize
Threats of serious consequences for misbehaving in the presence of his friends, even empty ones made in a fit of anger, will cause your child to feel shame and embarrassment, and can also cause any onlooking parents to become concerned about the disciplinary tactics you resort to privately. Openly criticizing your child’s behavior or personality will almost certainly damage his self-esteem and make him feel badly about himself any time, but making these cruel observations in front of his friends will only amplify that pain. Carefully consider your phrasing and tone before taking any corrective action, especially when you’re in public and your child’s sense of pride hangs in the balance.

Keep Accusations and Comments About His Friends to Yourself
There will be times when you’re certain that your child’s misbehavior is the result of a friend’s negative influence, but it’s never a good idea to broach the subject in front of the group. Even if you’re sure that a particular event is the result of a friend encouraging your child to behave badly or break the rules, it’s not your job to parent someone else’s child or make any comments about their behavior publicly. If you feel that acknowledging a bad influence needs to be part of your private conversation with your child later, avoid the temptation to emphasize his friend’s responsibility. In the end, teaching your child the importance of making the right choices, even when everyone around him is doing the opposite, is essential as he gets older. Learning to resist peer pressure at an early age will benefit your little one greatly when he becomes a teenager and is faced with more difficult and dangerous choices.

Wait Until You’re at Home to Discuss the Matter, and Keep it Brief
When your child misbehaves publicly it can be an understandably embarrassing experience for you. However, it’s important that you maintain your composure until you’re safely at home, resisting the urge to immediately begin an anger-fueled lecture the moment the two of you get into the car. In addition to posing a significant distraction risk while you’re on the road, tackling the subject while it still stings can easily cause you to say things in the heat of the moment that you’ll regret later. Take the chance to collect yourself and get your temper under control while you’re on the road so that you can have a more productive conversation when you’re calmer. Keep in mind that even the most remorseful child is likely to become bored and frustrated with a long-winded lecture, and keep your conversation short, direct and to the point.

Happy parenting!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Come PLAY with Us! – QR Code Free Tech Game for Kids!

Come PLAY with Us! – QR Code Free Tech Game for Kids!

Go to the link for a unique way to help children learn many concepts, by simply creating a QR code scavenger hunt!

Happy Teaching and Happy Parenting!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Put the FUN back in FUNdamental Education

For many generations, people have assumed that children learn only when they are quiet and serious.  In some schools, teachers are chastised for an uproarious classroom, filled with activity and laughter.  They might even be warned by their fellow teachers that they are disrupting the hallway with their joyous noises. 

Some parents might argue that allowing children to enjoy their education does not prepare them for the “real world” which rewards serious, thoughtful effort.  What a pity we all can’t enjoy ourselves while earning money to support the family!  When did fun suddenly become the bad player in an office?  In the classroom?  On the playing field?  Even at home?

Let’s look at the research.  In chapter 3 of Judy Willis’s book, Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher (ASCD 2006), she notes that emotional well-being positively influences learning.  Willis writes, the truth is that when the joy and comfort are scrubbed from the classroom and replaced with homogeneity, and when spontaneity is replaced with conformity, students’ brains are distanced from effective information processing and long-term memory storage.  In other words, when children are happy and spontaneous, they learn more quickly.  Conversely, when children fear the outcome of their behavior or grades, they learn less quickly, perhaps not at all.  When did educational framework stray from fun to dull, from play to work, and from active to quiet? Or did it really ever stray?  Maybe today’s teachers need to learn how to invent the joyful classroom to facilitate learning.

Eric Jensen wrote Teaching with the Brain in Mind (ASCD 2005).  He links engagement in learning with a release of dopamine from the brain. Dopamine is responsible for reward-driven learning.  Therefore, if you increase the dopamine rushing through children’s bodies, by stressing intrinsic rewards, children not only learn more easily, but they also feel better about themselves as individuals.  According to Jensen, the task has to be behaviorally relevant to the learner, which is why the brain will not adapt to senseless tasks. Senseless tasks: worksheets, rote, and sleep-inducing videos.   Behaviorally relevant tasks: Games, activities, projects, and group interaction.  Intrinsic reward: Performing for the sheer fun of engagement!

In my book, The Kinetic Classroom, I present many ways teachers can incorporate fun and active learning into any regular curriculum content.  Turn math facts into a race.  Turn geography lessons into a treasure hunt.  And turn book reports into a mini-wax museum.  Get those children moving and you get the oxygen flowing through their brains.  Engage their interest because they find the activity fun and you release dopamine into their bloodstreams.  When those two events occur simultaneously – increased oxygen and flow of dopamine – teachers may find fewer discipline problems and higher test scores.  And isn’t that the FUNdamental goal of education?  To prepare our children for a world filled with new experiences that they are not afraid to investigate.

The Entelechy Education, LLC program provides elementary teachers an holistic approach to increasing that oxygen and dopamine in children. Without character education, children fall short in their ability to learn technical topics. For example, without courage, the child would be unable to take the leap to investigate a new topic. Without cooperation, the child would be unable to work with other students toward a common goal. Without independence, the child would be unable to form unique ideas. And certainly, without creativity, no child would be able to conceptualize innovations that could promote the well-being of all mankind. Teachers can use the EnteleTronsTM series of books to begin a FUNdamental investigation into STEM topics while exploring character education issues in the language arts curriculum. Wow! Three or more lessons in one plan based on Core Content Standards!

So what are you waiting for?  Get those kids moving!  Engage them in meaningful education!  Bring The EnteleTronsTM series of books into your classroom, electrify student learning using the tips in The Kinetic Classroom, and watch your classroom come alive with learning. And then try to convince your administration that your children are actually learning more in your classroom than the one next door where the students are lined up in quiet rows of desks.  You’ll need a strong dose of creativity and determination to accomplish that task! Help the administrators in your district to understand the power of engaging student learners in the FUN of their FUNdamental Education.

 Happy teaching!

Monday, September 24, 2012

10 Common Toy Organizers

Clutter-busting is one of the best ways to make your home more Feng Shui compatible so the chi can gently swirl its energy throughout your house.  This list of toy organizers comes from my friends at  Enjoy!

Cutting the clutter in your home by paring down and organizing all of your own belongings isn’t always easy, and it often seems even more difficult to accomplish these same tasks in a child’s room. The sheer volume of toys that children manage to collect over a relatively short period of time can be overwhelming, making it hard for little ones to keep their rooms clean without any extra help and presenting a challenge in logistics after gift-giving holidays and birthdays. These ten common items can, with a bit of creativity, become interesting and effective toy organizers. Thinking outside of the toy box can help you keep your child’s room inviting and clutter free.
  1. Baskets – Woven baskets are functional storage items that can also become whimsical decorative items, stashing away toys and lending a polished air to the room. For even more ornamental power, line baskets with fabric that coordinates with the color scheme of your child’s room.
  2. Storage Benches – There’s often a shortage of seating in kids’ rooms, which can begin to present a challenge as they get older and start to have friends over. Solve the seating problem and your toy organization woes by stowing toys under the lid of a storage bench, which becomes functional seating as well as an organizational tool.
  3. Wire Bins – Wire bins, especially those that have flat edges to facilitate wall mounting, can be great ways to keep smaller toys off the ground and out of the way. Just be sure that they’re mounted low enough for your child to see inside and retrieve a desired toy himself, or you might find yourself in the position of both taking them out for him and putting them away at the end of the day.
  4. Storage Cubes – Typically made of plastic and covered in durable, brightly colored canvas, storage cubes are functional toy organizers that also lend splashes of color to the room. They have the added bonus of being lightweight enough that your child can move them himself, provided that the toys themselves aren’t particularly heavy.
  5. Coffee Cans – Painting a coffee can in your child’s favorite color and personalizing it with his name makes for a storage system that puts the fun back in functional. Before turning your newest project over to your little one, however, be sure that the inner lip is completely dull to avoid any accidental cuts when he reaches inside.
  6. Diaper Wipe Containers – By the time your infant reaches toddlerhood, the number of lidded plastic diaper wipe containers that you’ve amassed can be impressive. Rather than tossing them into the garbage to take up space in a landfill, it might be better to take the green route by repurposing them to hold small toys or crayons.
  7. Buckets and Pails – With their handles and sturdy construction, small buckets and pails are great choices for kids’ organization. Not only can your child maneuver them easily with the handle, they can also double as toys themselves.
  8. Suitcases – When you’re not traveling, kids’ luggage simply sits in a closet collecting dust. Rather than storing non-functional pieces all year only to use them once or twice, fill them with toys, doll clothes, or other items, then stash them under the bed. Your child can still access her favorite toys, but they’re no longer taking up space all over the room and her luggage is being put to a functional use year round.
  9. Spice Racks – Older children that are becoming arts and crafts enthusiasts can acquire a lot of glitter, sequins, buttons, and other supplies that aren’t always easy to store. A new spice rack, sans spices, of course, might be just what you’re looking for. Shaker tops built into the jars are ideal for glitter, ribbons can be neatly coiled and stashed inside, and buttons or other small bits can be collected into them for easy storage. Glass or clear plastic jars allow your little one to see what each of them contain, and they are easily corralled in their very own rack.
  10. Cabinets – Though you certainly can install wall cabinets in your child’s room, it’s likely to be an involved and fairly expensive project. Rather than investing in custom cabinetry, stop by your local builders’ supply and pick up a couple of cabinet sections intended for upper wall mounting. Arrange them in a straight line, then cover the top with pine or some other type of lumber. Stain or paint the entire new piece of furniture you’ve created the color of your choice, then enjoy the custom credenza you’ve built with a hammer, a few nails, and a minimal investment of time or effort.
In addition to utilizing some of these toy storage ideas, it’s also wise to cull your children’s toys periodically to make room for new ones. Unless they have some sort of particular emotional significance, any playthings that are broken, damaged, or rarely played with should be discarded in the interest of maintaining order and organization.

Happy parenting!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

10 Rainy Day Activities

As the summer draws to a close for most kids, they may have gotten bored with the same old indoor activities on rainy or sweltering days.  Here are some new ones provided by my friends at, which is a wonderful website for college students looking for summer nanny jobs in exotic locations!

  1. Create bubble fun in the sink (or tub!). Pull up a chair or a step stool to the sink for little ones to reach. Fill the sink half full with room temperature water and soap suds. Bring in spoons, cups, funnels, egg beaters, whisks, and other water friendly toys. The kids will enjoy playing in the water with all of the bubbles. If you are worried about her getting wet just throw on an apron or cut some holes in a garbage bag and put that over her clothes to protect them. Splashing in the bubbles is good, clean fun.
  2. Fashion a sand box with rice instead of sand. Gather some toys that would work well for sifting and sorting. Throw in measuring spoons and measuring cups as well. Take a large plastic storage container and fill it about 1/3 full of rice. Most grocery stores sell the giant bags of rice for a few dollars. When the kids are done playing just snap the lid on and put it in the closet for the next rainy day.
  3. Go on a treasure hunt. No matter what stage your kids are in they can enjoy a good treasure hunt. Use pictures for little ones who can’t read clues, clues for those kids that can read, and riddles for those kids that are older. This will take a little planning, but while the kids are watching a movie or playing a board game you can be creating the treasure hunt.
  4. Play indoor Ping-Pong using paper fans instead of paddles. Blow up a small balloon and after the kids have created their own paddles out of a paper fan they can start blowing the balloon back and forth to their opponent. Make up rules like the first person to get the balloon past their opponent’s head gets a point. Players must only use the wind of the fan to move the balloon. No hands can touch the balloon or you lose a point.
  5. Create a robot out of recycled materials. Using only items found around the house have the kids build their own robot. Have a contest to see who has the biggest robot, who has the most complicated robot, and whose robot does the coolest stuff. Print out certificates for these honors while the kids are making the robots. Once the robots are done encourage the kids to sit down and write a store about their robot and how it works and see if they can come up with a whole world where other robots live as well.
  6. Play an indoor game of horse using wads of paper and a trash container. Just like in real horse the players each get a chance to shoot a basket from around the room. The youngest kid goes first and the older ones have to make the exact same shot if she makes her first shot. House rules can apply and the little kids can get two tries at the shot before getting a letter. If you miss a shot you get one letter and ultimately the person who spells H-O-R-S-E first loses. The last person in is the winner.
  7. Roll out the marble is a game of speed and skill. Grab some paper towel or wrapping paper tubes and cut them in half. Make sure that everyone that is playing the game has an equal sized track. Line up the players in a line and give the first person in the line a marble. The object is to roll the marble down the track without touching it and pass it to the next person in line. Next, that player passes it on until the last person has to pass it on to the first person in line. If you drop the marble you are out and play starts at the beginning again.
  8. Building a fort in the living room can keep the kids busy for hours. By using sofa cushions, blankets, sheets, chairs, and other items from around the house you can challenge your kids to build a fort in the living room. Fill the fort with cushy pillows and once the fort is complete you can climb in with them and read them a story.
  9. Bake a batch of cookies or brownies with your kids. Kids enjoy spending time with you, and who doesn’t love a nice warm cookie and some milk on a cold rainy day? Use baking as a chance to talk about measurements and proportions, and cleanliness. Use your favorite recipe, and if you have a big kid ask them to read the recipe to the rest of you.
  10. Turn up the music and have a dance party. Active kids will get a little restless if they can’t go outside to play. Here’s the solution: crank up some music and let everyone dance and sing until they have gotten their wiggles out.
Happy parenting!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Top Five Ways Teachers Can Save Money for Classroom Resources

You are already familiar with requesting freebees from local companies that are happy to help the schools. And you probably save a variety of items from egg cartons to L’eggs containers for craft projects. But in today’s economy, it becomes even more important to find other ways to save money so you can have more resources for your classroom. Here is the Letterman-style countdown:
5. Design group projects. When I was teaching, this was my favorite way to save time and materials while encouraging students to cooperate and arrange an order of values. With a group of three working together, you use 1/3 the materials and take 1/3 the time to grade their projects. (Note: I never used a group of four because in that situation, inevitably one student always ends up sitting back and watching the project unfold.)
4. Find retired or retiring teachers. Many times, the retirees are looking to downsize or clean their supply cabinets. Approach the retiree with the thought that their materials will live on through the next generation of students. I’m sure that teacher will be very glad to share what she has stockpiled over twenty or thirty years. (After she has retired, feel free to discard unusable materials and save what you need!)
3. Post a teacher’s wish list on your website. You do have a website, right? Where you post assignments and extra credit offerings? If not, start one. Then let parents know that the homework will be there for their review every night. You’ll be more likely to get finished homework in the next day. Part of your website should be a wish list with a deadline if you have one. Suppose you need 40 toilet paper rolls by February 4. Post that request on January 20 and watch the donations come in. Remember to post a thank you when you reach your quota. Don’t be afraid to ask for things that cost money. Maybe you need two dozen black sharpies and three packs of construction paper for a map project. Let your parents know what you need, how many, the deadline, and what the materials will be used for. Remember to post pictures of the finished products.
2. Write a grant. In my 25 years of teaching, I brought in over $25,000 for my classroom from assorted grants. The money is out there for special projects. Look at the government site: . Then click on Innovative Approaches to Literacy Program. This program deadline for 2012 has passed, but is available every year. You might apply for classroom sets of books for use in your classroom because they fill the need to provide hi-lo reading material for your reluctant readers. Grantmakers love this stuff! See how many creative grants you can write to gain materials.  
1. And the number one way for teachers to save money is: Combine curricula. You could get a book on rainbows to use during the science block, another one on responsibility because you find a number of your students lack this quality, and a third on suffixes for your literacy corner. Visit my new company, to see how we have combined STEM topics with character education in a literacy platform for K-5 students.
Happy Teaching!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Crock Pot Meals for Families

During the busy school year, working moms like to make dinner in the morning and let it cook all day long in the slow cooker.  These links to yummy recipes come from my friends at

  1. Freebies 2 Deals You can find more than kid-friendly Crock-pot recipes on this blog. You’ll also learn a method to freeze the meals ahead of time so that all you have to do is get up in the morning and dump a bag into the Crock-pot before leaving for work.
  2. Justfindit4u This blog posts new kid-friendly Crock-pot recipes every Wednesday.
  3. Crockpot 365 Blogger Stephanie is cooking in her Crock-pot every day for a year. There are tons of recipes on this blog that appeal to families who have kids to please when it comes to meal time. She has 3 kids and will tell you what her kids thought of each recipe and you can choose which ones to try from there.
  4. Cookingwithmykid Great recipes abound on this site, not all for the Crock-pot, but still well worth a look.
  5. Mommyskitchen An awesome blog written by a mom who uses her Crock-pot a lot in summer and winter alike. Check out the many recipes found on this blog and get some ideas from her month of menus.
  6. Just a pinch There are tons of recipes on this blog, and it’s got a great search feature on the side that allows you to search for kid-friendly recipes, Crock-pot recipes, chicken recipes and more.
  7. Semi Homemade Mom Taking a little help from the store while still using her Crock-pot, this blogger has tons of great recipes with the family in mind.
  8. The Farm Girl Great recipes and stories from this Idaho mom of 4. She has lots of Crock-pot recipes – just do a search for them on her blog.
  9. A Busy Mom’s Slow Cooker Adventures This working mom found that she didn’t have time to get dinner on the table with all of the things she was involved in. So she turned to her Crock-pot for the answer and she is blogging about it.
  10. Living a Changed Life You can eat healthy while cooking meals in the Crock-pot. Check out this blog from a lady who lost 90 pounds!
  11. Ring Around the Rosies From the freezer to the Crock-pot, this blogger shows you how to make up 12 meals for the freezer during only a 2 hour naptime. Lots of ideas to save you time and money making healthy meals for your family.
  12. Get off Your Butt and Bake Tons of recipes for the Crock-pot, just do a Crock-pot search to pull them up. Lots of other yummy recipes as well.
  13. Get Crocked Did you think that Crock-pots were just for cooking dinner? Here is a blogger that not only has lots of dinner recipes, but she has lots of breakfast Crock-pot recipes too. How about Crock-pot cinnamon rolls? Mmmmm.
  14. Moms with Crock-pots Find a recipe for green eggs and ham for the Crock-pot on this blog. Plus tons of cheesy Crock-pot potato recipes, as well as many others.
  15. Family Fresh Meals Crock-pot recipes for everything from vegetarian stuffed peppers to Mexican Lasagna on this blog.
  16. Crockin Girls These bloggers have even written and published their own cookbook! The blog is great because you can find recipes by main ingredient. If you’ve got some chicken you need to use up just click on chicken to pull up those recipes.
  17. Six Sisters Stuff Just as you’d expect, there are 6 sisters writing this blog, and together they share Crock-pot recipes, kid’s crafts, and much more.
  18. Crock-a-doodle-do This working mom with two kids tells other working moms how she gets dinner on the table every night using her Crock-pot. You can serve up dinner each night too with her help.
  19. Chef in Training There are many interesting recipes on this blog, starting with soup and ending with Honey Sesame Chicken. Give them all a try.
  20. Plain Chicken Not all of the recipes on this blog are Crock-pot recipes, but quite a few are, and the others are pretty delicious looking too. It’s worth a gander.
  21. Weight Watchers Crock-pot Recipes Trying to get back your girlish figure after having kids? These recipes offer the perfect combination of both delicious and nutritious. And as an added bonus, they’re all simple to make too.
  22. Tasty Planner This is a great place not only to find Crock-pot recipes, but also to put together menus and create grocery lists.
  23. The Lady 8 Home An insightful blog about home life, chores, and Crock-pot recipes.
  24. Practical-stewardship This blogger has a slow cooker Saturday routine so there are plenty of recipes to choose from on this site. There’s also little bits of other interesting stuff too.
  25. Crystal and Co. The mommy resource is what this blogger claims to be. She has a killer recipe for Crock-pot mac and cheese that the kids will love, plus many others you can try.
  26. The Mom Initiative 10 Sanity Saving Crock-pot recipes on this blog. Many other mom tips are here as well.
  27. Blessed Beyond a Doubt This site has several Crock-pot recipes posted by this homeschooling mom. All recipes have been taste-tested by her kids and were favorites.
  28. Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures Lynn shares recipes for Crock-pots meals that her family loves. She also has an allergy section if you need help with cooking for people with allergies.
  29. Jamie Cooks it Up This blogger has posted more than a dozen different family-friendly Crock-pot recipes as well as other healthy recipes.
  30. Crock-pot Ladies This isn’t just any site about Crock-pot recipes. There’s a recipe for making sweet tomato butter in the Crock-pot, Peach vanilla butter, blueberry angel food cake and many other sweet treats. If you are looking for unique recipes for your Crock-pot, this is the place to go.
Happy parenting!
Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog