Monday, July 27, 2009

A New aStore for the Educator!

Here are some books that I think are just great!   You can find them through my new aStore (see link on the top right).  These may not be your typical or current best sellers but trust me they are gems!  The age ranges are just  general parameters.  Keep in mind that sometimes the words might look easy but the content might be for mature readers.

Remember, join me on Facebook or on Twitter!

Ages 0-3

It Looked Like Spilt Milk

Island Counting 1 2 3


Rosie's Walk

A Box of Treats by Kevin Henkes



Ages 4-6

Wemberly Worried and any other books by Kevin Henkes

When I was Little...A Four Year Olds Memoir of her Youth

Bubble Bubble

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

Lucas the Littlest Lizard


Ages 6-9

Eggbert, The Slightly Cracked Egg

Ms. Rumphius

Thidwick, the Big-Hearted Moose

Grandfather's Journey

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble


 Ages 10+

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

Number The Stars

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

All-of-a-Kind Family

The Pinballs 

You can find all these items on my aStore!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda, I'm Miserable...

We're almost halfway through the summer and here in New York City we are beginning to feel the heat! Never fear, the rain is not far behind and we'll have a whole other reason to complain.

We are on Facebook so please become a fan and encourage your friends to as well. I also joined Twitter. Please follow me as I learn the ropes in this very hip, yet complicated social black hole. Find me: asktheed. I tweet little inspirational quotes and small parenting observations. Feel free to inspire me!

This week's question comes from a few concerned parents: "What do I do if my kid is miserable at camp?"

It is very upsetting to hear from your child that they "hate camp" or "want to come home". If your child is in sleepaway camp the problem tends to be based in homesickness whereas in day camp a mean counselor, a bully or too long of a day might be the problem. Your initial thought is "what is wrong and how can I fix it?" While this seems like the best approach it may not be.

I found a great link, "Additional Tips for first Time Campers (and parents)". While the article is written specifically for the YMCA Duncan sleepaway camp in Illinois and focuses on home sickness, there is so much good advice for all children who attend all types of camps and the parents that send them, I felt I just had to post it. Many of the ideas go beyond the camp experience and can be applied to out of school activities, social activities and even school problems.

Some of the articles overarching ideas:

- Camp is a "commitment"

-"Practice separation before camp"

-"Develop coping strategies with your children"

***Giving your child confidence in his/her ability to cope with the difficulties of daily life and handling an appropriate degree of discomfort and problems is good parenting...It helps them to be independent, separate and strong.*** (my favorite line!)

-"Remember hearing only about the miserable times does not make a summer"

-"Do not make the mistake of saying...'Just try a few more days...And if you still miss home I'll come get you.'"

-"Don't let your child miss out on something that they could have learned to handle"

-"Parents must also learn to deal with their own separation"

Finally, I think it is important for parents to look closely at where they send their kids to camp. Like schools, not every camp fits every child. Sending your kid to the same camp that "all the kids in school go to" or "because you went as a kid" is not a guarantee your kid will be happy. Look for a place that really talks about how they invest in their staff and has some real strategies for dealing with the many anxieties that can arise during such an exciting yet big step in a child's social independence.

You can and should read the entire article below. I think there is a great amount of perspective about how we parent our children and the importance of teaching our children to get through the tough times with important skills we can practice with them and help them to apply on their own! Click here for the article.

Happy Camping!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cookout Conversation - Preparing to Go Back to the Grind

Hope everyone has enjoyed the mild temps this past week!  This week's question comes from various conversations that have been held in various kitchens, backyard swing sets or back decks.  As we enjoy the longer days of summer, stay up later and drink that extra glass of wine, there seems to be the same universally unsettling feeling for parents looking toward the fall.  Many parents of school aged children seemed to be headed back to work, are adding on extra hours or even getting a second job.  Children's schedules also seem to become more complex with children headed further away from their neighborhood schools, taking long bus rides and joining after school programs.  In my case I have two children going to a school in the opposite direction, must arrive at the same time in the AM and get picked up in the PM at the same time.  The question:  "How do we begin to both prepare our children and ourselves for work related changes in the fall and how early do we start?"   This seems to be a daunting one but by starting now you don't have to dread your Labor Day Weekend.

While I have often described my own childcare situation as created from "spit and chicken wire", I seem to find my way.  The first concern always seems to be "How is my kid going to handle me going back to work?" "Or seeing me less?"  The short answer is your children will adjust, however don't think for a moment that your kids won't act out or even make you feel guilty for making the change.  Children are great at making parents feel guilty.  One little girl in my daughter's nursery class used to cry the same chorus every morning - "don't leave me mommy!".  The mom was so broken up about it that she would call the school in tears herself 15 minutes later.  Her daughter was fine and you know she never wanted to leave at the end of the day.  The important thing to remember here is that your attitude, what you say and do will truly set the tone.

Be Okay With Yourself
For whatever reason you may be returning to work or making a changes in your schedule, you should be okay with your choices and present that feeling to your children.  Jamie Lee Curtis has been quoted as saying to her kids, "mommy likes going to work".  I have begun using that phrase with my kids for many occasions.  "Mommy likes working", "Mommy  likes being with her friends" and "Mommy likes going out to dinner with Daddy, alone." Daddy's  are also encouraged to use these phrases!  Teaching children that you need some time for you is not a crime or neglect or makes you a bad parent; it is creating a healthy balance between all the things you love.  Parents who achieve a relative degree of balance in their whole lives tend to be happier with their lives as parents.  As well, children need to learn from others and navigate their own relationships.

Bring it up Now...
If you are returning to work or adding more hours, begin letting your child know that when school starts, you are going (back) to work or will work more.  Talk about what your schedule will be like and what you will be around to do.  "I will drop you off at school but the babysitter will pick you up."  Keep this discussion casual.  There is no need for any sit down talks.  Speak of your plans freely and keep them upbeat.  If you sound like you dread what you are going back to, children may pick up the same attitude towards school and other important events you wish they would be a part of.    Understanding how time works can be tough for young children so don't get alarmed if they think your new schedule starts tomorrow.  Show or a calendar so children can get a better idea of how far away September is.

What do you do?
Tell them what you do.  So many children hear "I have to get to work" from their parents and don't know what that means.  If your work is complicated make it as understandable as you can "I help people find homes", "I help people with their money so they save up for things when they get older", "I teach adults", etc.  Children really do want to know what you do.  

Make a Plan
Start talking and negotiating with your employer about what is possible.  Can you get in late and stay late?  Can you compress your work week so you can pick up your child 2 days a week?   In the case of my many friends who are teachers you already know your hours are set and have absolutely no flexibility.  If your situation is like this you need to make a  solid plan and quick.  Start interviewing sitters, look at after school programs, talk to friends who might be able to help you out once a week or so.  Make sure you discuss with your kids whom will be taking care of them  and have your kids meet this individual.   Think about how, when and with whom school work will be done.   Think about a practical routine for you to stay on top of your child's education.  

Practice Run
Even before the school year begins have your child experience you not picking them up from camp or a play date.  Ask the new babysitter to spend some time with your children or just set up some a way time with a friend that will be helping you out.  

In the end things happen, plans change, things go wrong, children mature and they can regress. Transitions are a part of life and sometimes they just don't go smoothly.  Do your best to be resourceful, organized and make a point to stay positive about changes in front of your children.  Your little cuties pick up on a lot.  You can teach your children one of greatest lessons by showing them that no matter what happens you can deal with transitions with grace!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Keep Memories, Not the Clutter

I hope everyone had a super July 4th!   We had a great time celebrating our country's 233rd Birthday.  Please take a look at the comment from last week's post from "anonymous" about what happened to the men that signed the Declaration of Independence!  If that does not make you feel in the least bit patriotic, I don't know what will. 

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Remember, we post only once a week on Tuesdays with additional posts containing announcements and promotions as they arise.  We'd love to hear your comments about the posts and about the blog.

So on to our question of the week from Ellen: "Between schools' end and the start of camp I have more paper and artwork in my home than I can handle!  How can I organize every piece of  'precious' (my daughter's word, not mine!) artwork and all the piles of paper?"

I have the same problem!  If you are like me and have no basement to shove all the artwork and every piece of paper until that fateful day when you move out or finally purge the stuff and you all sit down and have a great laugh while pouring over all the 25 year old fingerpaints, report cards, notebooks and Valentines, then you need to make a plan.

First, set some time aside with your child to go through the pile.  It's important that children learn to let go and organize important possessions.  Forming emotional attachments to inanimate objects may lead to a guest appearance on Oprah's "Life as a Hoarder" episode.  With your gentle guidance, have your child make the decision about what they want to get rid of.   A good place to start is to help your child break down the pile by subject, i.e. math, writing, reading, etc.  You can have a folder or binder for each subject.   Certain items like the giant pumpkin that was made in art class for Halloween can be given eternal life through your digital camera, and find it's way to a folder on your computer.  There is no better way to "keep" your child's artwork and not have it take up space than by scanning it or taking a picture and then throwing away or recycling the actual piece.  Another idea to add some closure before the artwork goes digital is to have a final art show.  Hang all the pieces of art around their room or some other designated space and invite friends and family members over for a one day art opening.  At the end of the celebration the artwork receives its final preservation.

Handwritten poetry, reports, etc. can be scanned or rewritten on the computer.  If you or your child want to, you can make a binder and create a label on the cover "Rachel's First Grade Writing".  I find that my children do like to look at end year books from their nursery and preschool years that were neatly put together by their teachers.  Grandparents who live far away might also get great joy from looking at what their little dears created at school.   You might even consider sending the binder as a gift.  Who cares if your parents end up on Oprah!  

While examining all this artwork, schoolwork, etc., point out the growth in your child's work.  For example; "Look at your handwriting in the beginning of the year and look at how you write now, what do you notice?"

In the end, you and your child will be spending time together,  cleaning up together,  making decisions together and finding solutions together.  What is better than that?