Archive for the 'School and Learning' Category

Educational Market Trips

Every trip the the market can be fun and educational for the little ones. Even tiny babies (assuming they are awake) can benefit from the learning possibilities while you get your grocery shopping done. Here are some tips for making your next trip to the market (or any store for that matter) fun and educational.


  • Show them their world
  • Introduce them to different shapes and colors: Red apples, round oranges, square boxes for example.
  • Keep wipes/hand sanitizer on you or within easy reach, and if your baby is old enough, let him touch different things and feel the different textures: smooth cucumbers, bumpy squash. (Make sure baby keeps things out of her mouth.)
  • Toddlers

  • Have them him and count.
  • Let her count the pears as you put them in the bag for example.
  • Continue talking with him about colors, shapes and sizes. Ask: which is bigger: a grape or a grapefruit?
  • Have her find letters on signs, boxes and wrappings.
  • Play the “I Spy” game, with older toddlers.
  • If your toddler is a walker, opposed to one who sits in the cart, let them pick some things out themselves (or go with an older sibling to do so.)
  • Now is a good time too (for older toddlers), to introduce the concept of money and that you have to pay for the things in the store before you leave with them.
  • School-aged

  • Combine what she’s learning in school with the trip to the market. If she’s studying geography for example, talk about where some things come from…bananas from Chile, oranges from Florida for example.
  • Talk about cooking with him and what the ingredients are for a ________.
  • Have her try to figure out how much the groceries will cost.
  • Have him pay, accept and count the change. (This means of course, that you’re using cash instead of a credit/debit card.)
  • Use coupons/store bonus card and have her figure out what the savings will be.
  • If he’s taking a foreign language (or you speak one at home) practice vocabulary in the foreign language about things in the store.
  • Have her guess how many bags it will take to pack all of the groceries (for a large shopping trip).
  • Discuss with him why you’re making the choices that you do as a shopper. (For example: Less expensive? Brand loyalty? Eco-friendly? You have a coupon for it?
  • Talk about why some things are taxed and others are not?
  • These are just some ways that you can turn a trip to the market into an engaging, fun and educational experience, foster communication and teach your child about their world. Come up with your own to add that work for your family.

    Posted in Parenting, Lifestyles, Activities, School and Learning, Smart Buying, Child Education, Guest Blogger | No Comments »

    The Special Needs Child: Be The Wheel

    Yesterday was going to be themed for nutrition, but due to circumstances, I missed posting. I apologize for that and today I’m going to focus on something totally different from what I originally meant to use.

    Education and Special Needs will be the theme for today.

    There are many, many children in public schools today who are specials needs. Each one of these children have a specialized educational program that should be followed by their school. Even if they do not have an Individualized Education Program or IEP in place, they should. The sad fact is, even though schools are required by law to provide special services for children who need them, a large percentage never receive the services that are their right.

    Why is this? Low funding is one problem, lack of communication is another, and in some cases plain neglect. As a parent it is our right to know and understand the IEP and services our children are given or have been recommended to receive. It is also our right to have phone numbers, addresses, and names of the people who we need to speak with in case an IEP is not working for our child.

    As a parent you are your child’s most powerful tool in life. You are their advocate. Keep a list of phone numbers, have their IEP handy, and if possible, get to know as many of staff members in your childs’ school. Be as friendly as possible with these people, because as biased and sad as this sounds, children of parents who are friendly and involved in their school as they are able are treated much better. If you notice problems, complain. Try politeness first, if that fails, then make sure the system knows you are displeased. Make as many calls as you can, let the school system know you are not going to back down until the problem you are having is solved.

    As my child’s liasion told me…the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Be your childs’ wheel and squeak until they have what they deserve and need.

    Posted in Parenting, Child Development, School and Learning, Child Education | No Comments »

    Help Your Child Become A Happy Reader

    Why a happy reader? Many children learn to read; not all of them have a good time doing it though. A reader who enjoys the process is more likely to make reading a life-long pursuit rather than just read when she has to.

    Here are some ideas that can help your child become a reader who loves to read.

    JGS_Reading 200x300.jpgTalk and listen to your baby: Current research shows that babies absorb much more from simply listening to your words than was previously thought. When you talk often and clearly with your child (that includes listening to her thoughts as well) you’re giving her an early start towards a love of words and sounds.

    Read together: This one’s a given. But with time demands; work, chores, meals, and more, family reading time can often be compromised for other tasks. I’ve run out of time in the day and not been able to sit down with my son and read — maybe you’ve done this too.

    Parents aren’t always perfect, still, each day try to spend at least 30 minutes reading with your child. The dishes can wait — really, they’re not going to walk off (no matter how hard we wish).

    Make book hunting an adventure: The smell of old books and hunting for 25 cent books can be so much fun. Take your child book hunting often. Try the library, new and used bookstores, garage sales. Make it a big deal when you find a great book. Your child will grab onto your excitement.

    Read aloud: This isn’t the same as reading with, or to, a younger child. As your child masters reading skills let her read to you. My mom worked all day when I was young. She was pretty busy. Something good I remember about those busy days is that each night while she cooked dinner, I’d read to her; first Pippie Longstocking, and then other, tougher books.

    The part I remember most is that she seemed actively engaged in the story — which may be the key to this tip. When your child reads to you, laugh, ask questions, let her know you’re listening and benefiting from her reading to you. And don’t make this time about correcting her skills — just let her read and have fun.

    Other ideas: Draw pictures with letters, write words, make your own books, get some books in various languages, and listen to books on tape.
    Tips adapted, in part, from The U.S Department of Education.

    Posted in Parenting, Communication, School and Learning | 3 Comments »

    Making Room

    A year or so ago, my husband and I had a long (weeks long) conversation about how to get past being moderately satisfied with your position (in every aspect) to becoming truly satisfied and fulfilled.  We set out on a journey, five years ago, that put us through much, unforseen struggle.  Being artists, we knew it was going to be hard but we really had NO idea.  Several years later we are doing really well - there is stability and satisfication in just about every realm of our life (knock wood, knock wood, knock wood).  What we can now see (god bless hindsight) is that the change (from struggling/ but still moderately happy to feeling in control and damn happy) happened because we, responsibly, made room.  That conversation that I mentioned was specifically about pinpointing the things that, although might be paying the bills, were not conducive to getting ahead.  The two major instances were me working during the day.  I wasn’t working at a job I particularly loved or wanted to make a career out of - but it had benefits, so we stuck it out.  My paycheck basically went to the nanny.  My husband juggled five different adjunct professor positions at five different Universities and several night time/weekend community education programs.  It was random, at best, and only moderately reliable but it too paid the bills.  What are jobs WEREN’T doing were allowing us to say “yes” to other opportunities or projects that might lead to other opportunities.  We were quickly becoming that statistic of American families that work but don’t really live.  So, very responsibly (we do have two kids to think about), we started culling the things we could and then made big changes altogether.  And, even though it is about making room, it is also about making a decision.  Not being aware that you could be doing more with your life is an easy trap to fall into and we almost did.  Being aware that you could be happier and not doing anything at all is even worse. 

    I totally don’t mean to lecture - but now that I have reread what I have written I realize that is what it sounds like.  I am, really, only thinking outloud.  It is that time, for me, again.  Time to cull the things holding me back and embrace the things that will get me to my next step: graduate school.  And it’s not just graduate school.  It is getting my son into a better school.  It is getting my husband into better galleries.  It is finding a home to buy.  All my bemoanings about time this past week have been because I am at the beginning of a new journey and I guess I am feeling impatient.  I just have to take a step and a breath and make some room for all that I hope is coming next. 

    Posted in Communication, School and Learning, Daily Living, Mental Environment | No Comments »

    First Day! First Day!

    First grade for the littlest Donovan started today.  He was nervous.  I was nervous.  Well, actually, we were both a perfect blend of nervous and excited as we drove in.  His teacher is young and energetic and I think they will get along very, very well. 

    When I picked him up, though, the first reality of what school actually is sunk in.  He made it to the car without really saying much.  Then, as we got in and I asked how his day was and who his new classmates were, he broke into tears.  At recess all of his friends from kindergarten (i.e. his old classmates) were all playing with their new classmates.  It broke his heart.  When I asked him who he played with he said “no one, I sat by myself because everyone said they had new friends”.  Which is the point when my heart was broken.  I did all the standard parenting things one should do - I told him that first days are hard and that he will make his own new friends in his class but that his kindergarten friends are still his friends too, blah blah blah blah.  My intial reaction was to go to the playground and find the little twerps who left him out at recess and sit on them - but I settled for the confidence speech and the hopeful promise of tomorrow.  There is nothing like watching your kid deal with social b.s. - partly because as a parent, you finally realize how torturous and unnecessary it is and partly because you know how painful it is.

    He’ll get through it just like we all did.  In the meantime, I might have to break out my brass knuckles just to flash around at the playground tomorrow…….

    Posted in Character Development, Child Development, School and Learning | 2 Comments »

    School Textbooks Just Wanna Be Free

    With the huge success of Wikipedia (a Web-based, multi-language, free-content encyclopedia written collaboratively by volunteers and sponsored by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation), Wikimedia Foundation Inc. is now embarking on a new project called Wikibooks. Wikibooks looks to take the same approach it took with Wikipedia, and create textbooks for all grades, including college level textbooks.

    In the long run, it will be very difficult for proprietary textbook publishers to compete with freely licensed alternatives. An open project with dozens of professors adapting and refining a textbook on a particular subject will be a very difficult thing for a proprietary publisher to compete with. The point is: there are a huge number of people who are qualified to write these books, and the tools are being created to leave them to do that.

    As most parents and students know (especially college students), textbooks have long been way overpriced. Also, there are many people that believe knowledge should be freely available to anyone. Making these textbooks freely available, and current, will enable anyone with Internet access to view, download, or print the books. The long term hope would be that these materials would be used in as many schools as possible as the primary learning material.

    Full Story

    Posted in School and Learning | No Comments »