The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: November 2012

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)

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