Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

Easy Fundraising for Schools – Deep Discounts on Brand Name Children’s Clothes February 27, 2014

Filed under: school — rjlacko @ 10:27 am
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bagThousands of parents across the US are turning kids clothes into cash for their children’s schools.  As schools continue to be hit hard by sharp budget cuts (often eliminating music, art, PE and other programs), parents are taking matters into their own hands with a modern fundraising solution that requires no selling wrapping paper to friends!

Schoola is a national platform that is revolutionizing school fundraising. It sends pre-paid bags to parents so they can donate gently used kids clothing. Schoola then collects, tags, prices and features the clothing online at www.schoolastitch.com, where parents can purchase for great deals (think 90% off retail.) The best part? 40% of every purchase goes right back to the school! No cost, no fuss.

Schoola is the creation of Stacey Boyd—parent, former teacher and school principal. In 1997, she built an inner city charter school from the ground up. A year later it was one of the highest performing middle schools in Boston. Stacey recognized how children who struggled in math could come alive in music class. How art, physical education and foreign language could have a profound effect on students. She also saw how hard it was to get funds to support these programs. And how easy it was for the programs to get cut.

Dedicated to putting paintbrushes, books, baseballs and violins back into the hands of children, Stacey launched Schoola in the 2012/2013 school year. A few innovative schools took the call to run a clothing drive during the last (and busiest) week of school. Parents sent in their gently used children’s clothing, which were then listed on the website at amazing prices. Participating schools received proceeds from every item sold—a win for all.

Today, Schoola is 3,000 schools strong, bringing new paints to art classes, new instruments to the orchestra, new books for the libraries. Quality clothes get a second life. Parents help parents. Schools help schools. Schoola makes all this happen by giving children the tools they need to succeed. Using Schoola is easy:

1. A Clean Closet

Step right over here to have a Schoola Bag sent to you. Fill it with outgrown clothes and drop it in the mail. Schoola covers all postage.

2. Amazing Savings

Find adorable pre-loved clothes from around the country on Schoola’s site at dramatically-discounted prices. Have a look!

3. Your Child Wins

40% of proceeds from each sale are donated to your child’s school, helping to keep and expand important programs for your child.

Interested? Request a bag here and clean out your closets!

 

3 Fresh Approaches to Educating Boys in School December 13, 2013

Filed under: health,school — rjlacko @ 2:59 pm
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Dixon bookBoys have fundamentally different learning patterns, says pioneering expert

The problem of boys in education is not a new one. I printed pages of studies for my sons’ preschool and kindergarten teachers, begging them not to compare my boys’ abilities to sit criss-cross-apple-sauce or write the alphabet as prettily and patiently as their female counterparts.

A recent study from researchers at the University of Georgia, which followed 10,000 students as they moved from kindergarten to eighth grade, indicates that though boys scored well on tests, indicating mastery of material, girls got better grades. Researchers account for higher scores in girls because they comported themselves better than boys while in the classroom.

“Boys and girls have fundamentally different learning needs; girls are better at  sitting still and listening, whereas boys learn better via kinesthetic learning,  which involves more physical activity,” says Edmond J. Dixon, Ph.D., who has more than three decades experience as a teacher and is a parent of boys, and is the author of “Helping Boys Learn: Six Secrets for Your Son’s Success in School,” (HelpingBoysLearn.com). He also has a teacher’s edition titled “Helping Boys Learn: Six Secrets for Teaching Boys in  the Classroom.”

“There are many other studies, however, showing boys underperforming in school; now, it’s a matter of what we’re going to do about  it.”

Dixon, a cognitive-kinesthetics specialist, discusses why his first three “secrets” are so important in helping boys with active minds and bodies.

• Movement matters: The student most likely to disrupts the class because they cannot sit still is a boy. Research reveals that young boys’ brains develop a tremendous amount of neural wiring to facilitate movement and sensitivity for how things “fit” together.
When a boy is a toddler, we would never think that a sedentary child is a good indicator of health, so what makes us think that he should change while in grade school?
TIP: Allow a boy to use his “movement wiring” by allowing him to use his body as he learns to represent the topic.

• Games work: Testosterone makes males naturally competitive. If you want them to become suddenly engaged in something, make a game out of the lesson—it’s just like flipping a  switch on. Just look at sports talk shows with analysis such as “Pardon the   Interruption;” each expert has a clock clicking down to make his point. Little gaming tricks like this works on the male brain.
TIP: Create clear rules to help boys understand victory, and add legitimacy to the lesson. Games also serve as an excellent method for male bonding, too.

• Make them laugh: Observe a group of males; whether young or old, they bust each other’s chops. Not only is it okay, they enjoy it! Everyone has a positive chemical reaction with laughter; boys, however, often use humor as a form of communication, an asset with which most girls do not have a problem. Research has demonstrated that boys’ emotions are processed initially in the more primitive parts of the brain and come more indirectly to the speech centers. That’s why making a crude joke is easier for males to communicate sensitive feelings.
TIP: Before starting homework or an assignment, ask a boy to consider what might be funny, weird or strange about it; his mind will be more focused on the topic afterwards.  

About the author: A pioneer in the field of cognitive-kinesthetics for learning, Edmond J. Dixon, Ph.D., is the founder of the KEEN Differentiated Learning Group, an organization dedicated to helping struggling learners, and the creator of  KEEN 5X, a series of strategies for classroom engagement and learning that have been used with more than 50,000 students and teachers. His previous books, “KEEN For Learning” and “Literacy Through Drama,” have been used by educators to improve classroom learning.

Dr. Edmond J. Dixon’s book Helping Boys Learn: 6 Secrets for Your Son’s Success in School

This easy-to-read book gives parents what they need to help  their songs become successful learners at home, in school, and beyond. Discover how to use these six secrets to help boys:

 Sit still and stay focused
 Avoid distractions and stay on task
 Complete homework without nagging
 Put forth their best effort in schoolwork
 Become passionate, successful learners in school

I’ve had too many encounters with teachers which have ended in heartache for all parties. Most boys want to do well in school, and that means they want to move. When the teacher expects a class to sit still, and perform as well as the top (female) performer, everyone, the teacher included, is left frustrated, and disappointed. What experiences have you had in your son’s classroom?

 

Parents Guide to Helping Kids Study, Get Better Grades September 6, 2012

Filed under: motherhood,school — rjlacko @ 12:24 pm
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After completing a full day at school, commitment to after-school activities and sitting down to dinner, the inevitable must be procured from the backpack… homework.

Can we all agree on a few things here? Homework should not only complement the classroom work, but it should fulfill a specific function, from Day One/Grade One; homework should instill the classroom lessons in the memory of the child, effectively and efficiently as possible.

At home at the kitchen table or established study area, your child has the rare opportunity to review the presented materials using his or her own learning style–auditory, kinesthetic or reverse osmosis, however your unique little person operates. It’s up to us “post-scholars” to give our children something not every classroom has the luxury of providing–lessons on HOW to learn, HOW to study, HOW to get the information of the day to stay between the ears, at least until test time. But how?

Teacher and school administrator Gary Howard has been helping children get better grades for over 35 years.  What he’s proven to parents, students, and teachers, year after year, is that very little improvement is possible unless you can teach the children HOW TO LEARN in the first place.

His new book, Help Your Kids Get Better Grades is designed so that parents can simply, quickly and effectively mentor children and guide them to do the right things at home and at school, so that they learn how to study better, listen and take notes, and take tests with less stress.

“Parents can have a tremendous impact on how a child handles school and test-taking,” he says. “But it is the child who is taking the test.”

Howard’s book identifies what is needed for children to discover and grow the talents they are born with.  Education success however, is in the hands of the student who has to practice by studying.  Howard focuses on how to make studying fun.

Here are just some of Howard’s suggestions on how parents can help children improve their study habits and effectiveness:

Shop and let the student select the perfect pen. The right pen makes all the difference when taking notes or writing long essay answers on an exam.  Parents may be surprised, but printing is easier for many students than writing script cursive.

Schedule Study Time and Stick with It. Set up a weekly schedule for study time with two forty-minute study times each day with a 20 minute break between. Pick the times and stick to the times.

Buy Study Guides for Your Student.  For high school and college, these 5 to $9 guides of key subjects are the easiest and fastest way to get the bottom line necessary building blocks of information on a topic. In no way are they to be considered cheating. They are a wonderful way to get the outline and vital subjects identified.

Encourage Participation in Study Groups.  After school, join a group, discuss ideas, ask each other questions and research the answers together. But focus on work, this is not a social gathering.

Get a Tutor.  In sports you have a coach, at the health club there’s a trainer, so in classes, don’t hesitate, get a tutor.  Use the Internet and search. It’s not as expensive as you may imagine. The help over the tough spots can be invaluable – the difference between getting it, and losing it. (Note from Rebecca: I’ve had several parents tell me how hiring a tutor for a semester to help with a difficult subject significantly improved the student’s abilities and attitude for the remainder of high school. Awesome investment? I think so!)

Get a Good Backpack. The essential items include: notebooks, two favorite pens, two pencils, text books (for the day only), Kleenex, energy bars, medications, two dollars in change, and clothes for the weather. Parents – inspect weekly or anytime.  Write your name address and phone number in indelible ink on the pack in case it gets lost.

Have Reading Skills Tested. Make sure your child is at the appropriate level for his or her age and does not have eye problems.  See an eye doctor if you have any doubts or concerns.

Home Study Location, Chair and Lighting.  Sufficient lighting, comfortable desk and chair, with little or no distractions!  No TV, radio, music, or games during study time.

Getting Proper Note-Taking Down. Taking good notes is a learned skill. Use clean paper and favorite pens, three-ring binder with paper and separators, outline with notes and major points.  Re-reading good notes is where learning really takes place.  (Note from R: I wrote down everything my teachers said in college. Really! I would simply read my (albeit) cryptic shorthand every evening to solidify my memory of the lecture, then again at test time. Straight A’s, anyone? Yes, please!)

Develop Your Memory with Mnemonics. Using rhymes, telling stories or jokes, and memorizing four to five letter acronyms is a great way to remember lists of details or essential rules.  Writing these 20 times engraves them on your brain.

What are your tips for helping children to learn better study skills?

 

WIN a free Rock ‘N Learn Phonics DVD set! October 4, 2010

Attention moms and dads (and TEACHERS!) of children aged 6 and older! I’m giving away a FREE set of Rock ‘N Learn Phonics DVDs, volumes One and Two.

Rock ‘N Learn, Inc. began as an idea that would help children learn by putting educational material to music with a current sound-the kind of music that kids enjoy and find motivating.

Busy parents and teachers love the way Rock ‘N Learn Phonics captures kids’ attention. Cool songs and humorous characters take the struggle out of learning to read. Students control the pace, advancing as they master each new skill, so they can practice on their own and feel proud of their accomplishments; it’s fun with this highly-entertaining phonics DVD.

Children learn phonics rules through fun songs and word families. Next, they practice their skills by reading simple phrases using words that rhyme. When ready, they apply the skills they have learned to read complete sentences and stories. The read-along stories on this DVD are presented at a slow pace for beginning readers. As children practice, they also work on fluency by singing along with songs about the stories. A bonus section presents the stories at a normal pace to help kids learn to read fluently.

Rock ‘N Learn Phonics Volume 2 DVD is a perfect follow-up once  they’ve mastered the material on Volume 1. With Phonics Volume 2, young children discover other ways besides “silent e” to make long vowels, such as: ai, ay, ee, and ie. They practice long vowel patterns and apply phonics rules by reading sentences with words that feature long vowel sounds.

Viewers also practice reading words and sentences with r-controlled vowels, diphthongs, the schwa sound, syllables, ending sounds, and more. Eventually, students read stories that proceed from simple to complex. By also singing along with songs about the stories, children build reading fluency and have lots of fun.

Rock ‘N Learn Phonics is perfect for learning at home, regular education, special education, remedial classes, ESL, and even adult basic education. By covering a variety of skills at different levels, these phonics DVDs provide an effective tool for differentiated instruction in the classroom and at home. 

Rock ‘N Learn DVDs work great with any DVD player, computers with DVD players, projection screens, and interactive white boards.

Rock ‘N Learn has won numerous prestigious awards including such as Dr. Toy, Parents’ Choice, iParenting, National Parenting Publications, Learning Magazine Teachers’ Choice, Early Childhood News, National Parenting Center, and Parent’s Guide to Children’s Media.

Win this free set!

Simply tell us about you in the comment box! Are you a parent? A caregiver?A teacher? Are you hoping to help your little one get a headstart on reading, or do your children  or students have special needs or need help with speaking and reading English? I’d love to learn more about you! One random winner will be selected on Monday, November 1, 2010. (approx. value $39.99)

Learn more about Rock ‘N Learn here.

 

Katie Couric talks about the best way to praise kids April 28, 2010

“You’re so smart!” I tell my boys when they solve a problem or resolve frustration. But am I encouraging them with those words, or merely labeling a successful action? The right words can motivate your child to try harder, to work through a complicated problem, and in doing so, build confidence and self esteem.

This week, Katie Couric interviewed Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of the Families in Work Institute and author of “Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs.”  During the interview they discussed the right way to encourage children especially in dealing with education, and the problems in over-praising kids to build self-esteem without demanding accomplishments.

Click here to see the interview with Katie and Ellen.

Want more easy and inspirational life skills ideas? See my post 10 Loving tips for real TLC – Do these now, and be happy.

 

Easy, low-cost tips for improving your tween or teen’s health April 26, 2010

It wasn’t too long ago when health concerns such high blood pressure leading to heart problems were issues only middle-aged or elderly Americans faced. Increasingly, tweens and teens are struggling with health problems that, left unchecked, will only worsen as they age. Here are three tips garnered from the study. It is important to note that in every case, success was highest when the adoloscent was open to the techniques, and the family/parents offered a positive or supportive environment. However, the techniques would benefit all family members, especially busy parents, so total family participation would be ideal.

  • Meditation
  • Walking with a pedometer
  • Life skills coaching/ learning better problem-solving skills

Dr. Vernon Barnes, who has studied the impact of meditation on cardiovascular health for more than a decade at the Medical College of Georgia’s Georgia Prevention Institute has documented the improved stress reactivity in adolescents with high and normal blood pressures as well as lower blood pressures in inner-city adolescents who meditate twice daily. He adds that a positive attitude and family environment increases the effectiveness.

Meditation also sharpens the mind for education. “When you come to school with a stressed mind, you can’t do as well,” Dr. Barnes said. “The benefit of calming your mind is preparing it to learn.” A review of school records showed meditating adolescents miss fewer days and generally behave better, he added.

Another study showed that the blood pressure of students in a high school-based walking program decreased after just 16 weeks compared with non-participating peers. Dr. Barnes said an inexpensive pedometer is an incentive to move.

“It all works together, which makes sense,” he said, looking at the impact of the techniques over just a few months. “If you could maintain that decrease into your adult years, it may decrease cardiovascular disease risk,” Dr. Barnes said.

Researchers also reported reductions in anger and anxiety after a dozen, 50-minute Williams LifeSkills workshops helped adolescents learn to analyze a situation before responding, to listen and empathize or even stand firm when necessary. Psychosocial factors such as anger are known to contribute to a wide range of health problems including elevated blood pressures and heart disease in adulthood.

What does your family do to alleviate stress?

 

Dr. Lauren Feder to offer 3 LA-area Safe Vaccination Lectures October 27, 2009

There is a growing movement among parents to question the safety of such standards as vaccines and antibiotics. 

Dr. Lauren Feder, author of The Parents’ Concise Guide to Childhood Vaccinations, presents three Los Angeles-area workshops for parents who are seeking optimum health for their children. Dr. Federer will present an overview of health, disease and each vaccination, including pros, cons, risk, benefits and prevention of vaccine side effects. Syllabus included.

Patients of all ages often ask Dr. Robert and Carri Tanaka of Natural Life Chiropractic this question: “what do you think about vaccinations?” The Tanakas encourage all families to “get education from multiple resources on this important topic. One person we look to and trust is Dr. Lauren Feder. Dr. Feder is a Los Angeles-based doctor and, in our opinion, her lecture is a must for any parent to be, or person concerned about their families health.”

Dr. Feder’s lectures sell out quickly, so early registration is highly recommended.
Cost: $25 per person, $45 per PARENT couple.

See below for details on locations and times. NOTE: Dr. Feder will have books on hand as well as homeopathic flu remedies for sale. Please bring cash for these items. The Swine Flu will also be addressed.

For more info on this topic, for vaccine exemption forms and more, visit www.nvic.org.

Location: Belly Sprout
Saturday, November 7, 2009
10:30am – 12:30pm
426 W. Commonwealth Ave.
Fullerton, Ca. 92832

Location: Golden Bridge Yoga
Sunday, November 8, 2009
1:30pm – 4:30pm
6322 De Longpre Ave.
Los Angeles, Ca. 90028

Location: Yo Mama Yoga
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
6:30pm – 8:30pm
1404 3rd Street Promenade, Suite 204
Santa Monica, Ca. 90401

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