Sunday, August 31, 2014

Adorable Boy Sends Hilarious Message to Teachers in This Video

I cannot think of a cuter or funnier way to send a positive message about school and learning to teachers and students then through this video. 

The impossibly adorable boy lights up the screen with his funny but wise words about going back to school and how to make this year count. If everyone watched this incredibly insightful pep talk before going to school, learning would have a whole new meaning. 

Click below to watch the video: 

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Five Back to School Essentials for a Stress-Free Transition

After a busy but carefree summer the transition back to school can stir up some anxiety in your child. It is well-known by many parents that after being settled in a routine for a long period of time, changing to a new routine can be chaos. With some help from mother and author Chynna Laird, I have put together a list of strategies to help the whole family ease into the back to school routine as stress-free as possible. 

1. Talk about it
A few weeks in advance, start to have a few discussions about the summer coming to a close and starting a new year at school. Start with a short, vague discussion to get it on their radar but as it gets closer to their first day of school have a more detailed discussion. Minimize anxiety by minimizing any surprises.

2. Make a calendar
Your child can keep track of how many days left till school if it is clearly marked on a calendar. Put it in an area that everyone sees everyday, like the kitchen. This will help him or her feel some control over getting prepared and be able to visualize a timeline. Make it fun by having a countdown so your child can feel excited about starting a new year of school!

3. Slowly ease back into the school-year routine
Going from the summer routine one night into the full blow school year routine the next is too confusing and stressful for kids, inviting high levels of anxiety and meltdowns. A few weeks in advance, start to slowly take away the summer freedoms and apply some school year routine restrictions. For example, start to reduce their bedtime a little each week in the leading weeks up to their first day and if you have late sleepers, start to wake them up a little earlier so the first day isn’t a shock to their system. 

4. Make back to school shopping a family affair
Kids are always excited about getting new stuff, even if its a backpack and folders. Making back to school shopping a family outing will give the kids something to look forward to and can potentially be a fun family activity- even for you, (okay I said potentially)! So have everyone grab their lists and head to the nearest Staples at least a week before the first day of school, if not more. 

5. Do NOT save anything for the last minute
Referencing the last sentence in #4: head to the nearest Staples at least a week before the first day of school. This applies to all back to school anything. Make sure to plan well and stay organized because back to school time is hectic. Double check they have all their clothes, supplies, bus schedules, teachers, and whatever else they may need with plenty of time for last minute changes. 

Back to school time can be stressful for both you and the kids, but you can minimize anxiety and make it a more enjoyable experience for all parties involved by planning, organizing, talking, and managing your time well. If you do all those things, back to school can be a fun and exciting experience for the kids. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

How to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader

A lot of children love to read or be read to, but definitely not all. And it has been shown that shoving a book in your child’s hands or making them go to bed unless they read aren’t effective strategies to ingrain a love of books into your child’s head. So if you have a reluctant reader on your hands how can you encourage them to read or ignite that passion within them? Is it even possible to make someone like reading if they don’t already? 

I love reading so much that it’s my personal belief if someone doesn’t like reading it means they just haven’t found the right book for them yet- I could be wrong, but that’s just me. But studies have shown that reading is a critical part of children’s development and it is also something they are going to have to do all throughout their entire school career, so it is important for even our reluctant readers to read. So how can you encourage them without forcing them? 

Elementary school teacher and author Steve Reifman has tried to answer that question by creating a list specially designed for parents with reluctant readers on how to encourage them to read and try and ignite a love of books within them. His seven strategies for encouraging kids to read are listed below:

1. Begin with children’s passions. 
They will be more excited about reading if it involves their interests. So allow your child to pick out books and magazines on their own of subjects they are interested in. Kids are more motivated to do things when they feel they have a choice in the matter, so allowing them to pick their own books out makes them feel less reluctant and more excited to read.

2. Make reading a social experience. 
Children who don’t enjoy reading by themselves will be more likely to enjoy reading with others. Whether it is with you, their siblings, or their friends, your child will most likely be more enthusiastic about reading if other people are involved. 

3. Read aloud to your children
Most parents read to their children when they are quite young but stop once they know how to read by themselves. Even if your child is able to read on their own, it is important to continue to read with them throughout their elementary years. It makes reading more enjoyable, improves listening, and strengthens their imagination and attention span. Plus it serves as a bonding experience between you and your child. 

4. Take advantage of technology.
If your child doesn’t find books very interesting, they might if instead of on paper it was on a tablet. To children technology seems cooler, so capitalize on that by letting them borrow your kindle or iPad to read.

5. Be their role model. 
Your reluctant reader will definitely notice if you are always telling them to read but you yourself never do. By demonstrating a love of reading and having plenty of books your child will begin to value reading more themselves. 

6. Make sure they are reading books geared towards their age and reading level. Presenting a child with a book that is too easy will bore them but giving them a book that surpasses their reading level will frustrate and steer them even further away from other books. When encouraging your child to read, make sure you select books that will challenge them but aren’t way too difficult. 

7. Camouflage reading. 
Parents can start to increase the amount of time their child reads by disguising it beneath seemingly unrelated activities, like reading a menu or the directions to a board game. Sitting down and having them read a book isn’t the only way to begin to get them interested in reading. Get creative! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Beautiful Robin Williams Tribute Will Move You to Tears in Just One Minute

The world has been saddened by the tragic death of Robin Williams earlier this week. Since then, countless posts and tributes have been created to honor and remember the talented actor and comedian. Out of those countless posts, I think this video is one of the best. In just a minute, this tribute touches the heart by remembering him through some of his greatest roles and Robin Williams himself comforts us through the wise words of his one of his beloved characters.

Click below to view the moving tribute to Robin Williams:

Friday, August 15, 2014

8 Facts You May Not Have Known About Robin Williams and His Inspiring Career

Most of you have probably heard the heartbreaking news regarding Robin Williams, who was found dead in his home a few days ago. At only 63 years old, his death was as unexpected as it was tragic. The joy and laughter he brought to multiple generations of people will not be forgotten as we grieve this loss. Comedy will never quite be the same. 

I would be surprised to meet someone who was not familiar with the longtime actor and comedian. His talents spread across several genres, making him popular with adults, children and everyone in between. Mr. William’s impact on film is apparent, take his roles as the Genie in Aladdin, Flubber, Good Will Hunting, and of course Mrs. Doubtfire, for example- and that is just to name a few. 

But there was even more to Robin Williams than most of us knew, making his talent and comedy even more admirable and memorable than it already is. 

Below is a list of facts you may not have known about the beloved actor and his inspiring career:

1. Williams began his career as a struggling street mime in New York City.

2. He helped lift the spirits of many of our nation’s troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait during their own struggles.

3. He improvised most of his lines as Genie in Aladdin.

4. During the filming of “Schindler’s List,” Robin would call Steven Spielberg to tell him jokes and bring him some happiness.

Spielberg affectionately dubbed the calls, “comic care packages over the telephone.”

5. In high school, Williams was voted “funniest” and “least likely to succeed.”

Williams would grow up to receive five Grammys, two Emmys, and an Academy Award.

6. His favorite childhood book was “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” which he would read to his kids. 

7. He dressed in scrubs and surprised his friend in the hospital after a career-ending accident.

Christopher Reeves and Robin Williams became good friends after both attending The Juilliard School. Reeves was devastated after an accident ended his career but Williams helped him feel better by showing up to the hospital in scrubs, glasses, and a surgical gown, speaking in a Russian accent. In his book, “Still Me,” Reeves recalls how that was the first time he laughed since his accident. 

8. Williams helped a girl, Jessica Chastain, become the first person in her family to attend college by funding her a full-ride scholarship to Juilliard.

Even as Robin Williams grew into a famous actor and comedian, he never forgot where he came from and how he started out. Williams was always helping others whether it was through generous donations or the gift of laughter. He will surely be missed. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Teacher Explains to Parents the Importance of Letting Children Fail

While growing up or raising a child, most people came across a parent or two who “helped” their child a little too much on their homework assignments. But it seems these days, with schools becoming increasingly competitive and children having larger amounts of work that some parents’ help has gone far beyond assisting them with their science fair volcano. 

It’s good that parents are highly motivated to help their children succeed but is that actually what they are doing? Sure it is getting their kids straight A’s in elementary school but how much is it benefitting them in the long run? 

Jessica Lahey, an elementary school teacher, wrote a blog on this issue, sharing a startling discovery she had made with a parent of one of her students. After finding the paper this girl had submitted was plagiarized, she called the student’s mother to share her findings and explain that the girl would be receiving a zero on the assignment. Her mother, furiously informed Ms. Lahey that she couldn’t do that because her daughter didn’t do anything wrong- that the mother in fact had written the paper. She defended herself saying her daughter had been stressed and the mother didn’t want her to get sick or overwhelmed. But in the end, the student received a zero anyway and had to re-write the paper- by herself. So  at the end of the day, the mother’s attempts to help her daughter by doing her work for her benefitted her in no way.  

It is stories like these that have raised concern and resulted in a tremendous amount of research being done into the concept known as “overparenting.” Overparenting is described as a parents’ misguided attempts to improve their child’s future and shelter them from harm or failure. It can be everything from small scale examples like not allowing their child to get their license when they turn 16 or bringing separate dishes to parties because he’s a picky eater to large scale over parenting like writing their college essay for them and not allowing them to get a job. 

Unfortunately, while it may work out in the short term, it often actually causes harm in the long run. A child who is raised to feel helpless and powerless will most likely experience tremendous anxiety and stress as they enter the real world. Bills, rent, tests, jobs, and homework will overwhelm them. Failure will crush them. The chronic anxiety and depression felt by many of our 18-22 year olds comes from being sheltered and babied for much, if not all, of their childhood.  

It is the large scale over parenting that worries researchers and educators- because it’s the kind of over parenting that can actually cause damage to a child’s education, independence, happiness, and future. 

Parents who rush to school to deliver forgotten lunches, call the teacher demanding a better grade on their child’s paper, do their work for them, or let their child stay home if they have a headache are creating children without a sense of responsibility and with a sense of entitlement.

As difficult as it can be to watch your child fail, it is critical to their long-term well being that children discover the natural consequences of their actions. Ms. Lahey isn’t suggesting that parents blindly trust teachers and don’t ever intervene, she is simply emphasizing the importance of backing off somewhat and letting the child learn on their own. Teachers don’t just teach reading and mathematics but also responsibility, manners, consequences, and teamwork that help to shape happy and successful students. She adds that her happiest and most successful students are not the ones who always get the best grades,but the ones who have earned their grades on their own through their own trial and error. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

This Video Demonstrates How to Make Your Baby Stop Crying With One Song

I have seen a lot of funny videos on the Internet of babies dancing or going crazy when their favorite song comes on but this little girl’s reaction is one for the books. Uploaded on YouTube only two days ago, the hilariously cute video has already received over 3 million views! And that’s not even including the attention it’s gotten from countless blogs and Facebook shares. 

The video opens with a baby girl crying and fussing until the moment ‘Dark Horse’ by Katy Perry comes on- and the crying instantly stops and is replaced with laughter and dancing.

I wonder if when Katy Perry recorded this song she ever thought it would be a hit with babies too, soothing them while they’re crying even. If she hasn’t already heard about the video she definitely needs to join the masses and give it a watch. 

Click below to watch the adorable video that is blowing up the Internet: