8 Tips for Step Parents

Good Afternoon,

I believe I have the two BEST step-parents in the entire world.  It absolutely goes without question that I am their child and they love me as if I were their own.  It has not been easy or fun at times, but the hard work and commitment to our family and to each other has been 100% worth it.

Let me make clear the statement, “not easy or fun”.  I was not easy or fun.  The truth is that I was rotten.  I pulled out all the stops when it came to bad behavior.  My parents both remarried the same year and in a matter of months I went from being the oldest child to the third at my mom’s house and the oldest at my dad’s house, with a step-mom who had no kids and had never been married.  It was a little rough.

Let’s fast forward a few years and get to the part where we are a happy family.  Most importantly, I’d like to explain how we got here.  As I mentioned, it wasn’t easy and it took several years, almost 10, to patch up the old hurtful feelings and move on.

The list I have compiled contains the most important aspects of bringing a family with step-parents together.  Read it, digest it, and use the strategies offered.

1.  Time.  It is unrealistic to build a solid relationship or to patch up the past quickly.

2.  Communication.  I believe communication is the key to successful relationships in families and otherwise.  Talk it out, share your feelings, listen to others, and match your body language to your words.  Be explicit and clear with your words and motions.

3.  Plan.  Whether it’s moving in, talking to the kids about marriage, changing the rules, or anything else, thinking ahead and making a plan of action will relieve lots of stress in the moment.  Family meetings are a great way to get everyone on board and committed to the plan going forward.

4.  Be Flexible.  Taking things one step at a time will help to reduce hurt feelings and push-back regarding a new plan.  If things don’t go well the first time, re-evaluate and try again.  Assess the situation from your families’ perspectives and needs and go from there.

5.  The Other Parent.  Be respectful of your child’s other parent.  Talk about them in a neutral or positive light in the presence of your child.  Do not argue, bicker, or bring up old baggage out of respect for your child and the relationship they have with that parent.

6.  Collaborate.  The most important member of your team is your child.  The other members of that team need to collaborate in order for your child to succeed.  Make that happen.  Extend an olive branch to grandparents, teachers, coaches, friends, neighbors, ex-spouses, etc.  Put your pride aside and do what’s right for your child.

7.  Commit.  It takes a huge commitment of time, effort, and heart to make it work.  Juggling all the components listed above while living it day-to-day is difficult.  Commit to your kid, commit to yourself, commit to your partner, and focus on the future of your new family.

8.  Goals.  Set some guidelines and goals to help you along the way.  Make a plan of action and go for it.  Start small and take baby steps in the beginning.  Personal, couple, and family goals are all good components that help keep the ball rolling in the right direction.

Looking back on the first few years as a new family and knowing where we are now, I never thought it possible.  I look back on the time spent trudging through the mud together and think of how awful it felt in the moment.  How angry I was, the horrible things I said and did, and the silent treatments I thought would really work.  Thankfully they didn’t work.  We were in it together and we stayed in it together.

Image  My step dad and dad walking me down the aisle.

Good Luck,



Ways to Foster Honesty through Conversation

Listen to your kids

Listen to your kids (Photo credit: Bindaas Madhavi)

Good Afternoon and Happy Halloween,

So many newsworthy events have been happening lately.  The East Coast weather is on everyone’s mind, the elections are in their final days, and the holidays are just around the corner.  These three things don’t usually have much in common, but as I started thinking about this week’s post all three came to mind for the same reason: talking to your kids honestly.  There are numerous situations where you just wish your kids would stop asking questions, or you hope that they don’t notice something, or you thought they had forgotten about a certain topic.  Unfortunately, this is not usually the case.  Today I would like to offer strategies that help you talk to your kids in a comfortable way when you are in an uncomfortable situation.

Communication During a Crisis

The goal of communication during a crisis situation is get the most information out with the least amount of effort.  There are dozens of different types of crisis situations.  You may have time to prepare and plan, or you may have to act at a moment’s notice.  Being mentally prepared can help in all crisis situations.

  • Talk in an assertive but non-threatening way using the simplest words possible.
  • Keep your voice at the lowest volume possible when giving directions.
  • Give directions in short clips instead of a long train.
  • Give information about the situation that is honest and to the point.
  • Allow your kids to tell you their feelings and ask questions, if there is time.
  • Identify with their emotions in yourself, “I am also feeling scared.”
  • Give them honest reassurance.
  • Model behavior that shows leadership and logic

Communication about Adult Matters

Kids are smart and curious.  They want to know about the goings-on in their parents lives.  Over the past several months there has been lots of conversations about the elections, the economy, women’s rights, finances, health care, etc.  Kids are barraged with ads on TV, mail at the house, conversations they overhear, and billboards all over town.  It is not surprising to me that they are interested and curious to know more about these topics.

  • Decide what information is appropriate for your child to know.
  • Allow them to ask questions in an environment that is non-judgmental and honest.
  • Allow them to have opinions that differ from yours.
  • Ask them follow up questions to further the conversation.
  • Talk about adult topics in simple ways.
  • Relate information back to their personal experiences like earning an allowance, being sick and seeking medical care, incentives that are important to them, etc.
  • Talk to them about what it means to be president and how our country is different from other countries in this way.
  • Encourage conversations about character and what it means to be a leader.
  • Practice the, “no thanks,” conversation to have with phone and door-to-door solicitors.

Communication around the Holidays

Holiday time is usually very stressful.  Tension and anxiety are high, positive communication breaks down and behavior tends to follow.  Lots of families have had a tough year financially.  Hosting guests for the holidays and the spirit of giving can add to the feeling of being overwhelmed.  Having a plan in place to talk to your kids about these things now can save you time and frustration later.

  • Talk to them about budgets and money.
  • Reinforce behavior with conversations and reminders of expectations.
  • Practice conversation starters to use with guests as well as follow-up questions.
  • Practice honest ways to show appreciation towards others, especially in uncomfortable situations.
  • If you give to charities, talk to your kids about why you choose that charity and why it is important to give to others.
  • Start conversations about family traditions, what they mean, and how they got started.

Building a relationship with your kids that is both open and honest is a huge job.  What it boils down to is showing what honesty looks like through your actions towards them and others.  Kids are going to ask lots of questions either way, having those questions directed towards you is the goal.

I would love to hear from you! 

  1. How do you teach your kids about honesty?
  2. What are some situations where you felt you did or did not handle the conversation correctly?
  3. How do you mentally prepare for uncomfortable conversations?

Also, I have started an account on Pinterest just for my readers.  I invite you to check it out and follow me as I add helpful pins for all areas of parenting.

Good Luck,


A Perspective on Home Schooling

Good Afternoon,

First, I want to apologize for this delay in post.  It was supposed to come out last week and it did not happen.  We have had some major work done on our house and then a huge leak in the basement and I had to focus on that instead of getting a post ready for you.  I am thankful the things at the house are back to normal and I am able to get back to blogging.  Thank you for your patience and I hope you enjoy this week’s blog.

Casey Lleras has home schooled her three children for the last 3 years and has put lots of time and effort into sorting out the information that is available to parents today.  While I support learning in any way, shape, and form, I wanted to give you a real perspective on a current hot topic.  Thanks to Casey for taking time out of her very busy schedule to help answer questions, give guidance, and tell her story.

Why do we home school?

I never pictured myself homeschooling and neither did my husband.  We had our oldest child attend preschool in our community and then kindergarten at the local public school.  In first grade we met many situations that led us to believe that the school would never meet the expectations that we had for our child’s education.  The discipline for kids that were bullying was not where we thought it should be, and the communication when there were problems was non-existent. We knew that we needed a change and private school was not an option because of finances, so we decided it was best to bring our daughter home and try homeschooling.  We tried it for the first year, holding to the commitment very lightly.  What surprised us is that we fell in love with homeschooling.  Not only that, I got to see the sparkle in her eye for myself when she learned something new.  It has really been a fun experience for us and therefore, we continue.

Homeschooling is not for me?

I always hear this from parents.  All I can say to this is, “You do not know until you try.”  If you have a college degree, I would say you are MORE than capable.  I thought that I could not do it, but I tried and have been very successful.  The pressure of making sure that my kids learned all that they were supposed to learn in a year was a very heavy burden at first.  Instead fearing this pressure and considering it a burden, I have realized that it is a privilege to be home with them.  The pressure that I was feeling was there because I wanted to do a good job.  So to ensure that I do the best job that I can, I get organized, I ask lots of questions to other homeschooling moms and public school teachers and I stick to the plan.  I soon realized that I was able to handle this kind of pressure.  Since I have home-schooled I know exactly where my kids are in all subjects, and it is easier to direct them because I know what they are learning.


I also think that it is very important to have some accountability.  We register our kids with an online university.   These online universities are different in every state, so you would have to research them for your area.  We send in a weekly report to a teacher that is assigned to us about what has been accomplished each week.  We also have to publish a monthly report that makes sure we are progressing and meeting the learning goals that are set as a standard by the state.  The standards are the same for public school.  It is a lot of work if you have multiple kids.

Will your kids become socially weird?

This question and thinking cracks me up.  If you stay home and never ever leave your home, this could be the case.  We personally have not met this state of “weirdness” that people describe because we are a very active family.  We are very active in church, sports, and in our community.  If anything, I have noticed that they are more engaged, more interested in talking with people, and they do it quite well.  We have been watching for “weirdness” in our kids because of homeschooling and we have not seen any yet.  I will keep you posted.

We have talked to many people about homeschooling and the weirdest thing that we have discovered is that kids are actually learning something.  They are not getting away with the minimum requirements or effort and their full potential is being revealed.

What curriculum do we use?

History / Reading

·         Sonlight!  They provide books that go along with what you are studying and brings the history ALIVE that you just read about in the history book.  These books have you read the history book, then you read a story book related to the ideas presented. It is wonderful!  The history really comes alive in the story.


·         Memorized the US states and capitals.  My kids learned two new states and two new capitals every week and then they would review the ones that they learned the previous week.  By the end of the year, they knew them all, no problem at all.  My first grader did this too!  I was so shocked.  I did not learn these until 7th grade.  It was perfect to add to our learning plan for the year since we were studying American History.

·         Memorize 7 continents

·         Memorize the countries in Africa


·         A Reason for Handwriting – This incorporates scripture into handwriting.

·         Handwriting without Tears – This was not our favorite, but a popular option that many of our friends use.


·         www.K12reader.com – This is a great website for spelling lists for all grades.  It does seem a little simple for my kids, so we often change words or add works from the dictionary to make it more difficult.  For example, my 4th grader had the word ‘dog’ on her spelling list.  I decided to change it to dogmatic.  It was perfect because she did not know what it meant, so I had her look it up and write down the definition in her own words.

Language Arts

·         www.K12reader.com has great resources for language arts.

Reading Comprehension

·         http://bookadventure.com/Home.aspx – This is a great website that is free.  It allows your kids to take tests on the books that they read, so that you can be sure that they understand what they are reading.


·         http://www.apologia.com – They have great textbooks for kids

·         http://www.gravitaspublications.com– Real Science 4 Kids is pretty good.  We love the chemistry books most.


·         Teaching Textbooks – This is a computer program, but we realized that this is not a mastery based curriculum and the kids seemed to need a little more practice before the next lesson was taught.

·         Horizons – We use these worksheets to ensure that the mastery happens and it seems to work really good for us.

·         www.xtramath.org – This is an incredible website that helps your kids master their math facts!

Foreign Language

·         Rosetta Stone – We are using the computer program that they offer for Spanish.  It is wonderful, even my 5-year-old can do it.  It is pricy, but it is worth every penny.

If you home school or do extra work on any subjects at home, what are your favorite websites and books for teaching and learning?  If you have other questions or would like more information, please email me or post a comment below.

Good Luck,


First Day Back

Good Morning,
For many kids, this week marks the first day back to school, the end of summer, and the return to a schedule.  For me, this week marks my return to this blog.  Over the past several months I have taken a break from writing.  While there were many reasons for the hiatus, mainly I was burned out and wanted to pursue other ideas I had regarding my business.  Now, the time has come for me to get back into the swing of things and return to writing.  I will not be posting everyday, as that is what killed me last time, but I will be posting bi-weekly.  I have lots of topics I want to cover so let’s get started!

Going back to school is tough.  We have created a giant ritual around back to school.  To me it is like a volcano churning until just the right moment.  Shopping for new supplies and clothes, getting classroom assignments, and figuring out which classes friends are in.  The whole thing is tough.  There is so much physical, mental, and emotional effort that goes into the ritual that by the time school actually starts you’re exhausted.

Let me offer a few tips to make this time of year more enjoyable for everyone.

  • Plan ahead (seems obvious, but it is the first to be forgotten)
  • Get your kids to help (make lunches, pick out clothes, etc.)
  • Plan for problems (allow extra time and be mentally ready)
  • Make lists (for everyone in the house)
  • Get enough rest/down time
  • Make a schedule and stick to it
  • Get excited with them
  • Jump right in!

Now that you are somewhat ready for the chaos of back-to-school, look for more ideas on academic motivation, building a routine that works, and getting a head start on holiday preparations in the weeks to come.

Good Luck,


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Traveling with Kids

Kid on a leash

Image by cote via Flickr

Note:  This week I will be re-posting two blogs.  I feel that the topics covered will especially help families during the Thanksgiving holiday.  See below for the second post.  I’ll be resuming my posts next week.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Good Morning,

With the holidays approaching, I think now is a good time to start the discussion about traveling with your family.  Many people know that Thanksgiving travel is the busiest of the year, and with the holidays and crazy travel come a mountain of stress.  It is well worth the extra time upfront to gain confidence and control on the back-end.

Plan ahead
The weeks leading up to your travel are the most important planning period.  Getting laundry ready, snacks bought or prepared, deciding on luggage, and setting out all the things you will need are essential for a low-stress, successful trip.  Make lists to help you remember who is taking what and in which suit case.  Write down everything so that nothing is left or overlooked.

Seek advice
Check out this and other blogs and websites for tips and tricks to make your trip go smoothly.  I will be posting links to great sites at the bottom and sprinkling a few in the blog as well.  Ask friends, family, and school staff for help and advice regarding your child.  The DadLabs site has tons of great video blogs about traveling with the kids.

Car travel
If you are headed to the in-laws via car, you will want to consider several things.  Keep plenty of snacks and drinks handy for the kids to have while riding.  Make sure their seats and travel clothes are comfortable and can go the distance needed to get to grandma’s house.  You might want to travel during nap or sleep times like early morning, late evening, or in the afternoon so that the kids are naturally tired and more likely to sleep.  Plan stops along the way for stretching your legs, bathroom breaks, snacking, or running around.  It is very hard for young kids to sit for long periods of time.  Honestly, it is hard for most people.  Incentivize your trip by giving them treats, money, or toys to play with when you reach certain mile markers, towns, or minutes.  Check that all electronics are working properly before you leave home.  Extra batteries, cds, and movies are smart to have on hand.

Plane travel
Traveling via plane to your destination is somewhat of a different story and requires some different planning strategies.  Many experts say to travel early in the day.  Planes are often less crowded and more likely to take off and land on time.  Make sure your child has a good night’s sleep the night before your travel day.  This will ensure your child is well-rested and well-behaved for the flight.  It also allows them (and you) to better handle rough situations and chaos.  Take snacks, toys, blankets, or whatever your child needs to feel safe and comfortable on the flight.  Be reasonable with these items, ultimately you will be the one carrying your child and all the stuff they bring.  If your child gets motion sickness, you should speak with your doctor about some possible remedies.  I do not recommend self-medicating your child without the benefit of your healthcare provider’s wisdom.

Take the least amount of clothes and extras as possible.  The less you have to carry and keep track of, the better.  Bring a bib or two that covers your child during meals that you can easily wipe down.  Jeans and dark-colored clothes are easily worn for a few days.  Bring two pairs of pajamas in case there is an accident.  One or two pairs of shoes should be sufficient.  Remember that you can always buy things that are disposable, like diapers and wipes.  Ask friends or relatives to borrow large items such as a stroller, crib/playpen, high chair, and car seat.

I encourage you to take some time planning your trip and considering the needs of your family.  They deserve a vacation just as much as you do, so make it easy on yourself and enjoyable for them.  There are lots of great websites out there that talk about traveling with kids and lots of great products that help parents.  If you know a site or product from which others may benefit, please add it in the comments section below.  I wish everyone safe and enjoyable holiday planning and traveling this season!

Sites that you will want to check out:

Up with kids
15 Holiday Travel Don’ts

How to travel like a kid…

If you found these tips helpful subscribe/like/pass along this blog.

Good Luck,


Caretakers – Topics to Discuss

Good Morning,

This week I am looking at the four steps in finding and selecting a caretaker for your child.  Yesterday’s post covered the information you will want to know before you invite them for an interview.  Today, I will cover some discussion topics that will be helpful in weeding out the pool of applicants.  If you plan on a family member or a friend taking care of your child, the questions and information exchanged should be the same but presented in a more casual way.  It is very important that you set the stage for a successful relationship between you and your child’s caretaker, no matter who they are.  It is also important that all caretakers know the same information and that the expectations and rules stay consistent.  This benefits your child and allows them to have a positive, consistent experience when someone else is in charge.

Some topics to discuss:

  • Pay
  • Paid vacation days – holidays, vacation days, when you take vacation (full-time)
  • Sick days (full-time)
  • Insurance offered (full-time)
  • Providing food
  • How often and to where your child can be driven
  • Pay for mileage
  • Other duties – baby’s laundry, making food, accepting deliveries, etc.
  • What to do in case of emergency
  • Time sheet
  • Family calendar
  • Reviews and pay raises – how often and using what scale
  • Classes, play-dates, school
  • Babysitter vs. Nanny
  • Overtime, nights, and weekends (full-time)
  • Pet information

You may have other questions that you will add to this list.  Not all topics above will pertain to you and you may not offer things like insurance, paid vacation, or food.  Be upfront and clear with your caretaker.  As I mentioned above, it is very important to set the stage for success.  Create an environment that allows for questions to be asked and respected.  Ultimately, you want to find a person that wants to work for you.  This is important for the well-being of your child as well as the care and respect of your things.

Take the time to do your research and find a person that is great.  It is well worth your time and money in the long run.  Being thoughtful throughout this process will better your chances of finding a perfect fit for your family.

Good Luck,


Picky Eaters

Good Morning,

I will admit that before I started working with families I held the belief that kids would eat just about anything if it was presented correctly.  While I still hang on to this belief somewhat, I now know that natural tastes are as individual as snowflakes.  No two are the same.  I have worked with parents who lose sleep over their child’s eating habits and are constantly calling their doctors for ideas to incorporate more variety into their diets.

While it is difficult to answer all questions regarding picky eaters, I would like to give you some general information as well as some helpful tips to manage your particular picky eater.

Age Appropriate Eating

  • 0-1 years:  Help create a healthy digestive system by introducing lots of greens and fiber into the diet.  A slow transition from baby food to adult food or new foods can help.
  • Toddler-hood:  Exposure to foods that are common in the house or that mom and dad are eating will get your child accustomed to eating these foods.  Allow your child to try some of what you are eating.  If they do not like it the first time, try offering it to them again at a later time.
  • Picky eaters usually get better after the age of 4.  If they continue as picky eaters at the age of 9, they will very likely be picky eaters as adults.

Helpful tips

  • Kids WILL eat if they are hungry.  Allow for time between meals and minimize snacking.  This prepares your child to eat properly, and as a bonus they will eat healthy foods!
  • Some kids are picky eaters because their parents are picky eaters.  If you think something is unappetizing, you are not going to feed it to your child.  This is natural.  It also speaks to the importance of exposing your child to many kinds of foods.
  • Involve your child in meal preparation.  Measuring, counting, mixing, watching the timer and some cutting can be a great way to get your child involved with the meal and excited to eat the outcome.  This is also a great way to spend some extra  time with your child.
  • Start a garden.  Encourage your child to get dirty and grow their own garden.
  • Have reasonable expectations.  Your child will not like everything you give them and may not like the same foods that you do.  They will not like everything the first time it is introduced.
  • Listen to your gut.  Many parents get scared and give in to unhealthy diets and junk food because they are told that their child is underweight.  Giving your child high fat and high sodium foods will up their weight but in an unhealthy, potentially habit-forming way.  If you believe that your child is eating what is best for them (variety, quality, and quantity), stick with your gut.  You know your child better than anyone else and should make the final decision when it comes to their well-being.
  • Take your child out to eat.  Watching other people eat is a great way to get hungry.  They may be so excited about getting out of the house that even the same foods presented in another setting will be appetizing.
  • Have a playdate and a picnic.  The saying “monkey see, monkey do,” couldn’t be more true for kids playing and eating with their friends.  Nothing is so important until a kid sees their friends playing with it or eating it.  Have a variety of snacks available to your kids and their friends at playdates.
  • Play with your food.  While this seems counter-intuitive, kids want to learn about food using all of their senses.  Touching, smelling, tasting, and seeing foods give kids an opportunity to make their own decisions about what they eat.  If you are introducing a new food, relax a little and allow your child to play with it before eating.  Remember, many young children end up with most everything in their mouths at some point.  You can take advantage of this!
  • Have fun with food.  My grandmother used to cut our sandwiches with cookie cutters.  I have no idea if they tasted good, but I ate them because they were fun.  There are lots of ways to make food look fun.  Try adding fruits and veggies to make faces, stripes, shapes, dots, etc.  Allow your child to help “decorate” their plate before they eat.

The road for a parent with a picky eater seems long.  It takes time, patience, and consistency to get over bumps in the road.  Give yourself (and your kids) a break when you want to force feed your kids veggies.  Remind yourself that you are in charge of your child’s well-being and giving them junk when they will not eat is not a good parenting decision.  Nor is it the most healthy choice for your child.  If you would like more specific recommendations or just need some support, please contact me directly.

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Good Luck,


Classifying Consequences

Good Morning,

I was explaining different types of consequences to a client the other day and thought that it might be helpful to take a step back and give some definitions and examples.  A consequence is the result of something that happened earlier.  In the case of children it is usually the result of a behavior and seen as a negative result.  There are two main types of consequences, natural and logical.  Here are explanations of both and ways to make them work.

Natural consequences– you go out into the rain and get wet

  • Once you’ve stated the consequence do not rescue the child
  • Allow your child to experience their choices, safely
  • After the situation talk with your child about making a different and better decision the next time and what that looks like

Logical consequences– ones we create e.g.: if, then.

  • Positive logical – if you get these toys picked up quickly, we can have more time to play
  • Negative logical – if you don’t pick these toys up, I am going to put them away for a few days
  • Make sure the consequence is related to the child’s behavior and their actions
  • Be as immediate as possible
  • Match the intensity of the consequence to the intensity of the behavior

Allow your child to take responsibility for their actions and learn from them.  Talk about ideas to help the situation ahead of time, like a checklist.  Make the consequence something that YOU can follow through with.  This takes time as well as practice, so be patient with yourself and your child.

Sites to check out:
Natural and Logical Consequences

The Natural Child Project

Why You Should Let Your Child Fail

If you found this information helpful please subscribe/like/tweet/pass on.

Good Luck,



Sharing a Bedroom

Good Morning,

I spent time with some friends the other night.  One of them discussed  how she and her husband were in the process of making their son’s room ready to share with the new baby.  How were they going to tell him?  How should they divide the room?  Was it even fair to force their son to share his room?  I would like to answer these questions and give some suggestions if you are in the process of combining rooms or planning on this transition in the future.

  • Communicate with all children involved.  If you are bringing home a new baby, talk to your older child early in the planning process.
  • Make it exciting for them to share their room.  If they are old enough to help, invite them to pick paint colors, decorations, and setup of the room.
  • Make your child feel like a part of this decision.  If they feel like they are a part of the process they will more easily share with their new roommate.  “It will be really exciting for you to show the new baby your room!”
  • For older kids who are sharing a room, have them decide how things should go.  Give them time to talk it out and determine how they want to organize the room, without your involvement.  Things will go much more smoothly if they are in charge of how the space is split up and whether they want two sides of the room or bunk-beds.  If choosing all the details is not realistic, give them choices where possible.
  • Seek help by talking to others who have kids that share a room as well as look online for pictures and do-it-yourself tutorials about how to decorate a shared room.
  • Hold your kids to the plan.  Have written reminders for a while to help them stick to what they agreed upon.  Have consequences for breaking the agreement.  Discuss respecting others’ possessions, space, and preferences before creating a shared room scenario.
  • Be patient with your kids as they work out sharing a space.  It is easy to get frustrated with someone when you share a confined space.  Older kids get tired of sharing a space and their belongings with younger siblings.  Help them by listening to their frustrations and mediating between siblings.  Give them the power  to work out their issues in a responsible and mature way.

I believe that you can solve most issues surrounding sharing a room by planning the presentation of this topic.  Whether it be sharing a room with a new baby or with an older sibling, getting your kids involved in the process from the beginning will help things go smoothly.

Sites to check out:
The Ups and Downs of Siblings Sharing a Room
A Room of One’s Own?
4 Advantages of Making Siblings Share a Room

If you have found this information helpful please subscribe/like/tweet/pass along.

Good Luck,


Improving Academic Skills

Good Morning,

We began this week’s discussion with routines, online safety, and gadgets.  Today, I would like to provide a set of tools/activities that will easily improve academic skills.  One of the biggest concerns parents have is that they are unable to find enough time each night to help with homework or study with their children in the traditional sense.  Not to worry.  If you are among these parents, you can still find ways to incorporate academic practices into your everyday routines.

Ways to fit academics into your everyday lives:

  • Read everything out loud.  Street signs, menus, numbers, everything.  The more words young children hear, the better.
  • Hold family conversations.  A quick conversation can keep you up to date on what’s new with your child.
  • Help with homework.  This may be a tough one to fit in, so it doesn’t have to happen every night but be sure it happens as often as possible.
  • Be involved at school.  This is another tough one time-wise.  Even once a semester helps.  Make parent conferences, school plays, and parent days a priority.
  • Set goals and expectations.  Tell your kids what you expect of them.  Never assume that they should “just know.”  It is much easier to work towards a known goal.
  • Encourage extracurricular activities.  Everyone knows that sports, the arts, and music help academics tremendously.  They also help with discipline and self-confidence.
  • Take a break.  Vacations and breaks during work times are great ways to fill up the tank for the next task.  Don’t underestimate the importance of stopping, focusing on something else, and coming back to the task.  As little as 10 minutes can do wonders for better focus and a better attitude.
  • Cook together.  This tactic has it all: reading labels, counting, measuring, and conversation.  This doesn’t have to happen every night.  Even once or twice a week will help.
  • Maintain structure.  Routines help eliminate guess-work and keep things moving smoothly.  If kids know what to expect they are more comfortable and confident.
  • Encourage organization.  Help your child by teaching them organizational skills.  Knowing where things are cuts down on frustrating and time-consuming searches.
  • Play games.  This is another all-around great tactic.  Counting, reading, and acting out (charades) encourage quick thinking and sportsmanship.
  • Allow your child to keep a journal.  Lots of kids find it helpful to write or draw their thoughts.  Kids need an outlet for their emotions, questions, and ideas just like adults.
  • Stay consistent.  Keeping routines and expectations consistent will cut down on fights and allow more time to have fun while learning.
  • Enforce discipline.  Natural consequences for our actions are some of the best lessons we can learn.  Establish house and family rules early and stay consistent.
  • Provide support.  Sometimes things do not go as planned.  Support from family is incredibly important for academic and lifelong success.

Many of you reading this blog are already fitting academics into your daily routines and lives.  If it is time to change things up, try a new tactic, or fit academics into an area that you haven’t tried before, the key is to make academics fun for your child as well as yourself.  It is wonderful to be involved with your kids’ learning and to share experiences with them in the process.  As always, if you have further concerns regarding your child or family, please contact me directly.

Sites to check out:
Parental Involvement and Students’ Academic Achievement: A Meta-Analysis

7 Ways to Improve your Child’s School Performance

How Parents and Families can Help their Children do Better in School

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Good Luck,