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Welcome to School Days!

Hint for the Month!

The Holidays are upon us....and soon the children will be out of school, excited beyond belief, and wanting you to entertain them! Now is the time to stock up on activities that are fun to do around the holidays.

Baking cookies are one of my favorite things to do with the kids. Buy the refrigerated sugar cookies to make things easier...along with sprinkles and Decorative Icing. Let the children decorate the cookies with their own special touches. Then enjoy a treat while they are still warm from the oven...with a cup of hot chocolate!

For those who celebrate Christmas....have them write two letters with your help. One to Santa Clause and one to Baby Jesus. On Christmas Eve....have them read the letters to Baby Jesus as he is placed in the manger. It makes Christmas a very personal experience for your children.

Another project that my children enjoyed...was making Gingerbread Houses. I would purchase a kit for each child...and buy extra candy. We would set up the table on the porch and let them decorate and design their houses. Then each house would get a special place to add to our holiday decorations.

Trimming the tree....is a wonderful way to touch the history of your family. Telling stories of past Christmases while hanging the special decorations that remind you of past times...gives your children a chance to connect with your past and their ancestors!

For those that live in Snowy Country....have a family and friend's get together with a Snowman contest. Seperate the group into pairs...and give them a certain amount of time to construct their snowman (small or large depending on amount of snow available). After the construction have a couple of non builders....judge...and pass out ribbons for everyone (make sure there are enough categories so every one gets a ribbon) Then head for the house to get warm and for hot cocoa and cookies...or soup and sandwiches.

Helpful Hints Archive

One of the hardest decisions we as teachers or parents have to make, is to know when to let a child try to accomplish something on their own...even when they fail. Sometimes failure is a good learning experience...but as a parent or teacher, who is worrying about a child's future in school...it is very difficult to step back.

To build a child's independence with completing assignments choose...one homework subject...or school assignment, that they will complete on their own. After they are told of the assignment and its due date, do not mention it to them again. Be sure the student has full knowledge of the results of completing the assignment (Good Grade, etc), and the consequences of not completing it (Failing Grade, Missing out on a Fun Activity etc.). This gives the student a chance to make decisions independently and understand consequences of their decision (bad or good). By choosing one subject...you will not feel you are deserting them entirely...but still giving them a chance to learn how to work independently. It is very important to follow through with the stated results once the assignment time is completed.

The first few weeks of the new school year have passed by...and students and teachers are settling in for the long haul. Take time to get to know your children's new teachers. This is a good time to arrange a conference to discuss any concerns you have about the year. Even if everything is going well, and you are very pleased with the teachers, use a conference to let them know that you think they are doing a good job! Too often the teachers only hear from the parents who are displeased, and not often enough from the parents who are happy with their efforts! Even a short note to the teacher, thanking them for their hard work, will brighten their day! This is a good thought for the teachers also! Give a few students a call every week to let the parents know how great their son or daughter is! Parents also seem to hear from a teacher, only if there is trouble. Positive communication goes a long way in boosting self confidence in students, teachers, and parents!

Worried that your children are experiencing Brain Freeze over the summer? Use this time at home to explore the Art and Science Museums in your area. Visit a Farm or Ranch. Check out any Manufacturing Plants that give tours! Call the local Zoo and get information about any programs being offered that both you and the kids can participate in. Summer Projects are also great fun. Build a playhouse together. Camp out in the Backyard after studying night time insects and animal life. Check in your local library for books that have Science Experiments that are done with common household items. Make a Movie! Let your kids write, act and direct the movie while you are the camera person! Most of all have an exciting Summer!

Rewards for good behavior and completing tasks (like homework) work in motivating a child both in the classroom and at home. I think one of the best awards that a parent can offer is a certain amount of time spent with the child, alone, and playing anything the child wants to, or letting them choose any other activity such as swimming, ball, reading, computer, watching a special program, etc. Every child wants Mom or Dad to themselves, and this is a wonderful way to reward him/her! What evolves is some wonderful individual time with each child in the family that everyone will cherish.

Know what it is like to spend a day in your child's class? Remember your school days in the past? Take a day off and spend some time at school with your child! Check with the teacher on "good visiting" times, and stay to have lunch! Both you and your son or daughter will enjoy sharing the experience of part of a school day!

If your child seems to become agitated or frustrated when you try to give him too many directions at one once, give him one direction at a time. Let your child complete one task, before instructing him about the next one. There are times when breaking down a complicated job into smaller steps will ease the frustration for both you and your child. Many children cannot easily assimilate a string of directions, but are very comfortable completing one task at a time.

Dread the homework battle or practice time battle that you often face with your children every night? Try setting a schedule on Sunday evening with your children. Let them participate with filling in the main events for the next week. Then discuss with them the best times for completing homework or practicing and have them fill in the designated times for each day. Work very hard at sticking with the schedule during the week. This helps prevent the child from being pulled away from a "fun" activity when the parent suddenly remembers that there is homework to do or piano to practice. When this happens, homework and practicing become the enemies to the child. If there is a scheduled time each day for studying and practicing...those activities just become part of the routine for each day.

Another school year has past, and another summer is beginning. Summer is a wonderful time for family trips and projects. Use this time to complete a household project that you have been wanting to get done. Let the kids help, and work together as a family. These projects could include painting the outside of the house, repairing and painting the fence, putting in a kitchen or flower garden, planting the fruit trees you have always wanted, and adding a deck or patio.

Your children will feel a great deal of pride with the finished product, and it will be family time well spent. Working together as a family on these activities can be both enjoyable, and a great teaching tool.

Great Sites!

Kidsource - Did You Know

Find interesting trivia for kids. This page is full of fascinating and little known facts. Great for adults and kids.

Kidsource - Summertime Activities

Great ideas for each day of the month during the summer. This list gives one idea each day, for a special project or activity to do with your children.

Columbia Education Center's Mini Lessons

This site is great for teachers and homeschooling parents! Find a wonderful variety of mini lessons for Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Miscellaneous Lessons. There are some really creative ideas here for Elementary, Intermediate and High School levels!