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?"
Rewatching clips of Schoolhouse Rock not only made me nostalgic for my childhood, but allowed me to appreciate the show's educational value. It wasn't just cute, it was great! Concepts are so well explained, and the catchy lyrics make them stick. As anyone with kids who sing along to hundreds of pop songs can attest, music is a powerful tool in retention of information.
My kids enjoyed watching clips of Schoolhouse Rock. The look of the animation is outdated, but the kids soon forgot about it when they got into the humour and the lyrics. They never said it was lame!
Here are some of my old favourites, and a few of my kids' new favourites.
What would you add to this list, and which have you shared with your kids?
CONJUNCTION JUNCTION Subject: Grammar
I'M JUST A BILL. Subject: How a Bill Becomes a Law in the U.S.
COUNTING BY FIVES. Subject: Addition, Multiplication
LOLLY, LOLLY, LOLLY GET YOUR ADVERBS HERE. (Packed with useful info. Saved me on many tests.)
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.
Picky eating is a recurring theme in children's books. Usually the picky protagonists thwart the parent's efforts to feed them a detested food. Fortunately, there are some fun books that actually encourage kids to try new foods. Reading fiction to encourage healthy eating doesn't come off as preachy. Instead, a nagging topic is made fun through zany characters that resonate with kids.
Here are fun selections that provide kids with food for thought!
Green Eggs And Ham by Dr. Seuss. Timeless Dr. Seuss classic with wacky rhymes and illustrations. Sam-I-Am relentlessly hounds "Doubter" to try green eggs and ham. Maybe, just maybe, he'll try it in a box, with a fox, or with a goat. Well, you know what happens, but kids never tire of the punchline that may encourage them to taste something new.
Seven Silly Eaters. Life is hectic for a Mom preparing meals for seven children, especially when each is a picky eater. Mrs. Peters, a loving cello-playing mother, finds herself becoming increasingly overwhelmed as she tries to meet her children's demands. My kids love the chaotic illustrations and clever rhymes. I love that picky eating is conveyed from a Mom's point of view.
Bread and Jam for Frances. One my favourite books when I was a kid, and it still hasn't lost its charm. Frances insists on eating nothing but bread and jam, until that's all her parents serve every meal. You have to love the sweet illustrations and cute badger characters in the Frances series.
Have fun with these delicious books that inspire kids to realize: Variety is the spice of life!
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:
"The secret to teaching organizational skills is to take on just one troubling issue at a time, find a simple solution that fits your child, and then stick to it until that new organization system becomes a habit."
Pick the worst offender among your child's disorganization. JUST ONE! Together with your child, find a way to irradiate that one bad habit. So obvious in hindsight. I wish it had occurred to me sooner, but I was probably too overwhelmed with chaos.
After you've picked the ONE troubling issue, here are some strategies that may fit your child:
Using a daily "to do" checklist.
Using an accordion file-folder to place homework due in various subjects.
Hanging a wall-sized calendar to keep track of activities and deadlines.
Designating a study space with supplies and materials.
Preparing for the next day with schoolwork packed, and clothes laid out.
Disorganization doesn't have a one-size fits all solution. Take all the unique qualities of your child into consideration, then mix with a dose of patience, persistence, and cooperation. One day a glimmer of light will appear over the chipped-away mountain of chaos.