Fall is my favourite season of the year, because it is a season of renewal and reflection. I've often thought that the new year should be celebrated in the fall, as it is for Jews who celebrate Rosh Hashanah. Fall ushers in a new school year, and often a fresh start with friends and teachers. Resolutions are made to eat healthier, to be more organized, to study harder, and to get fit. It's a time for optimism. In fall's haze I often like to imagine that the snow will never come. It's a time for gratitude.
One of the best ways to gear kids up for school is to get them reading. It develops vocabulary, fosters creative thinking, and builds mental focus. Sometimes getting kids to read is easier said than done. If a child refuses to read, what's a desperate parent to do?
Summer in the city with kids doesn't have to be limited to outdoor pools and playgrounds. Personally, I've had my fill. With only a few weeks left to go before school, I plan to make the most out of what the city has to offer. Here is my "last chance" summer activity list for the next few weeks. Most cities offer similar activities, and the best part? No towels required!
"Noni is nervous about a lot of things. She is nervous about her playdates with her bossy friend Susie. She is nervous about global warming. And, today, she is nervous about her first day of school."
Noni bites her nails. She twirls her hair, and talks too much. Her parents are concerned, and Noni is worried. What if the teacher is mean? What will she wear, and where will she sit on the bus? How will she ever calm her nerves about school?
Just because school's out for summer doesn't mean reading is out. Books are the perfect end to a tiring day of outdoor activities. On a rainy day, books are great entertainment. The best part of summer reading? Kids can read purely for pleasure, without school interfering in their schedule.
We've all heard how important it is for kids to keep reading during the summer. So, what's a parent to do when kids reject the very notion of settling down to read? What's a parent to do when all books are unappealing?
Desperate times call for desperate measures! When my kids went through non-reading phases, I had to accept graphic novels and comics as stand-ins. Quite frankly, this was not easy for my snobbish-self to accept, and it took me a while to come around.
School's (almost) out for summer, and that means FREEDOM! No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks. But, summer doesn't have to mean a vacation from thinking. Being outdoors or chilling out at home can actually inspire thinking. Summer is the perfect time to discover new interests, and to engage the heart and mind. No workbooks required!
Try these engaging activities with your kids, and let the summer adventures begin.
For me, teaching my kids to care for others is more important than learning lessons from a book. Finding out about The Cadbury Bicycle Factory's mandate to build and send bicycles to rural Ghana, Africa was a great opportunity for us to get involved in an important cause, and to learn about children's lives far beyond our borders.
There are some children's books that make me cry, no matter how many times I've read them. My kids know to be embarrassed in advance. Call me weird, but Mother's Day isn't complete until I've snuggled with the kids and had a good cry with these books. My children will indulge this behaviour on Mother's Day. I'm looking forward to a good cry this Sunday. What about you? Are there children's books that move you to tears?
Sometimes learning happens when we least expect it. Folding loads of laundry can turn into a sorting activity for kids. Taking out the garbage can lead to a research project on waste. You don't need to prepare lesson plans. It's simply a matter of sharing everyday moments with our kids. You might even look at your mundane activities in a whole new light. Well, maybe not the laundry! You never know what learning adventures kids will discover hidden in your routine.
Uncovering a well-loved book from my childhood feels like finding a long-lost friend. No matter how many years have passed, an inexplicable affection remains. So, naturally I presume my kids will love these books the way I do. I admit, my feelings are kind of hurt when a favourite childhood book gets rejected. What do you mean, "boring!?"
When I tell people I'm studying for university finals, the response is often, "Why would you do that to yourself?"
Perhaps I do have a tinge of masochism in me, but the truth is I love everything about it: The studying, the stress, the commiseration with classmates. I didn't HAVE to go back to school. I WANTED to go back, and I feel very lucky and happy. Why? Because apparently at 40 my brain can still feel a sense of wonder.
Make music, not war. Is that too much to ask? Even talented kids who love music will put up a fight when it comes to practicing. I've been there myself (still playing piano after 36 years), and 9 years still driving my three children to lessons. That's a lot of accumulated blood, sweat, tears and wrong notes. The question is how to get kids to practice their instruments without losing your mind.
After spring break, we will be down to the last three months of school. Hard to believe, especially with mounds of snow still covering our city. We started off the year with resolutions around homework, but they didn't all pan out. Far from it.
Spring is the perfect time to start afresh. Just like neglected grime builds up behind the fridge, bad study habits can lead to piles of neglected homework. Here are 3 ways to clean up common bad habits around homework. Spick and span!
When you see kids tapping on iPads, do you presume they are turning their minds to mush? If so, you could be wrong. More kids and educators are using educational apps as a means of putting a new twist on learning. Educational apps often focus on practicing a specific skill set, whether in mathematics, language, or art. When practice includes unlocking levels and cool graphics, most kids don't even realize there is a learning component.
I love having children's books around the house. No doubt those little volumes have educated and inspired us. They have also driven me bonkers. Floppy softcovers get lost in bookcases, or end up forgotten in a pile of clutter. Small board books take up prime space in our living room. Library books get misplaced, because they were shelved deep in a toy bin.
On Saturday mornings in the '70s and '80s, my friends and I would watch Schoolhouse Rock. It was a cartoon series that taught us a lot about numbers, history, and grammar. We didn't mind that the cartoons were educational. In fact, we were too busy singing along to the catchy lyrics and cute music to notice. To this day, I can belt out all the words to "Conjunction Junction, What's Your Function?"
No matter how inventive I get in the kitchen, my picky eaters end up with the same dish every night: plain pasta with parmesan cheese. Nutritional deficiencies concern me, but even worse is this unadventurous pattern of eating. When will we ever be able to take our kids to Indian restaurants? Thai food? Not in the foreseeable future. I used to enjoy experimenting in the kitchen, but picky eating has zapped the fun out of cooking.
Do you see crumpled papers with pungent gym strip in your child's backpack? Is tonight's homework buried deep inside, or was it left at school again? Parenting a disorganized child can be extraordinarily frustrating. Disorganized kids aren't just messy and absent-minded. Unfortunately, they are often students who fall behind due to misplaced papers and late assignments.
You can help teach your child to be more organized. Really! I found this one piece of advice from parenting expert Dr. Borba very enlightening: