save the papers?

save the papers?

Q: My child has just started high school and I am overwhelmed with all the papers that she has brought home: class syllabus, rules, calendars, technology policy, etc. Do I really need to keep up with all of these? And if I do, what is the best organizational method?

A: I have two high schoolers, which means twice the deforestation! Actually, many teachers now have websites where much of the class specific information can be accessed, but it still seems like a lot of paper filters home during that first week of school.

And yes, some of those papers are helpful to keep on hand. There may be occasions where you have a question that could be answered by consulting one of the many pages. Or you may need to consult the trusty syllabus to determine the date your teenager really should start the assigned project!

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The organizational method I have found to be most helpful when corralling all the homeward bound papers is a notebook. I keep a binder in my kitchen and each family member has a designated section within this binder. Each section includes at least one pocket, and into these pockets go those many first week papers. When I need to consult any of the paper information I know right where to look. (It is like “bookmarking” the teacher’s website.)

Unlike middle school, your high school student’s classes may completely change mid year. That means a whole new set of papers trekking your way! It is important to clean out the pockets when a semester is completed; otherwise you’ll be buried in paper by graduation (and you won’t be able to easily find information)!

Your high schooler should be responsible for many thing school related, but there is no harm in keeping the papers you may want to consult organized and easily accessible. Grab a binder and some pockets and get ready for the pile of papers!

stepmother as grandmother

stepmother as grandmother

Q: We are going to have our first child this Fall and my husband’s stepmother wants to be recognized as one of our child’s grandmothers. She isn’t biologically related to my husband and didn’t marry his dad until my husband was an adult, so technically she isn’t our child’s grandmother, but she still wants to be considered a grandmother and do “grandmothery” things. How should we handle this?

A: If “grandmothery” things means: expressing joy over the birth of your child, making sure that your child feels loved and accepted, celebrating your child’s successes and supporting them when they are less than successful- all while proudly answering to a silly name like “Granny Poo-Bah”…

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LET HER! (And thank her for it.)

A child will never suffer from being loved by too many people. Nor will your child suffer having a non-biologically related grandmother. The more people who love, accept, and support your child- the better! And sometimes family has nothing to do with biology!

My father in law got remarried to a wonderful woman the year before my husband I married. She is not my husband’s mother (although she has done a fair bit of mothering of him), but she is most certainly my children’s grandmother (complete with special name). She has done a lovely job of filling the role of grandmother without taking the role away from anyone else. My children are simply lucky enough to have a small collection of grandmothers!

Your child is extremely fortunate to have an excited grandmother, or two, or three waiting for her/his arrival!

photo credit: Grandma via photopin

signs of toileting readiness

signs of toileting readiness

Q: How do I know if my child is ready to give up diapers and use the toilet? My child is 20 months old and is showing interest in toileting, but I don’t want to push her. How old should she be when I teach her to use the toilet?

A: Each child has her/his own schedule for developmental milestones. A child development expert can offer you the average age in which children generally successfully toilet train, but that is not an absolute. Every child is different and as such develops differently. Instead of focusing on the chronological age of your child, focus on spotting emotional, physical, and behavioral signs that she is ready.

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Interest: It is important that your child be interested and on board with the whole toilet training experience. Maybe she is aware that other family members wear underwear. Maybe a shopping trip together includes selecting special underwear. Maybe she is tired of diapers. Whatever stimulates her interest- go for it! If she is interested, chances are great that she is on board.

Fewer wet diapers: If your child is able to have several dry periods (90 minutes or so) throughout the day and maybe even waking dry, then her bladder has matured enough to control the flow of urine.

Regular body rhythm: At some point your child will establish a regular body (stool) rhythm. This is a key component in successful toileting. Being able to predict when there will be a toileting need (after she eats, usually in the morning, etc) helps increase success (and decrease accidents).

Physical skill: Your child must be able to maneuver the toileting experience with some degree of independence. Can she sit and then stand again without assistance? Can she pull underwear down and up by herself? (Hint: warmer months mean less layers= less to maneuver)

Language- receptive and expressive: Certainly, being able to follow simple directions is important, but when your child begins to express awareness of bodily functions: BINGO! It is time to think about toilet training.

Recognizing the signs that your child is ready to give up diapers and use the toilet is key in helping your child have toileting success. If you start the process too early, before your child is ready, you could be headed for loads of frustration- for all parties involved. Watch for the signs. It will happen.

reluctant reader

reluctant reader

Q: My 9 year old son greatly dislikes reading. He likes being read to, but getting him to read independently is a huge challenge. He is the slowest and poorest reader in his class and I’m concerned that he is going to fall behind in other areas, plus I want him to develop a fondness for reading. My husband and I read to him and his sisters (6 and 4) every night, but we worry that our son isn’t a strong reader. Do you have any ideas about how to encourage our son?

A: Assuming your son has no learning or visual disabilities which impair his ability to read, then I would say your son is what I call a “reluctant reader”. This is not an uncommon situation, especially in boys.

Reading is a skill, which must be practiced. Just like a sport- the more you practice, the easier it becomes. But how to nudge a reluctant reader?

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Material: Finding reading material that interests you son is key. Adding a magazine or even a comic book to the pile of available reading material might spark an interest in your son. Reading is reading! Boys tend to be drawn to non fiction, but these two works of fiction are usualy enjoyed by 9 year old boys:
Gregor The Overlander (Underland Chronicles, Book 1) by Suzanne Collins
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) by Rick Riordan
These two series have action/adventure and are great “read aloud” books.

Time: Set aside a time each day for the two of you to read together. This could be you special time together after his sisters go to bed. This time is important, not just for your relationship, this is training time.

Training: Just like a sport, reading must be practiced. “I read a page (or 2 or 3), you read a page”, is a good technique when reading together. Reading anything less than a page doesn’t allow a reader to build up fluency in reading- you get started only to stop. Another training technique that might appeal to your son is using audio recordings of books. Listening to an audio version of a book and following along in a hard copy helps to train the eyes to cover the text more quickly. It can be frustrating at first, but a good audio recording can draw a reluctant reader right in!

Having a reluctant reader in a family of readers can be frustrating, but take heart: a reluctant reader isn’t always a reluctant reader. Time, training, and interesting material might be the nudge your reluctant reader needs.

organizing school supplies

organizing school supplies

Q: This school year I am determined to help my children be more organized. They each have a backpack and stuff seems to always be spilling out and getting lost. And when it is homework time we can’t find the needed supplies! It would be great if we could begin the year with an organizational plan. What have you found that works?

A: You are a wise mother to try and help your children be responsible for their own items! This is an important lesson that translates in to many other aspects of life. Good for you (and your children)!

If you work with the idea of keeping all things school together then there are several options that may work for your family. And the easier you make an organizational system to use, the more likely it will actually be used.

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When my children were younger we got a piece of furniture that had deep drawers and each child was given a drawer to be used as their “school drawer”. Into these deep drawers backpacks went as soon as my children came home from school. (The drawer-containing piece of furniture is right by our front door, which is key.) Also in the spacious drawer each child had a basket for loose supplies or papers as well as a container housing extra pencils, glue sticks, and other potentially needed supplies. If there was a signed paper that needed to be returned to school, I signed and placed in the appropriate school drawer. Homework could be done at the dining room table, but when homework was complete, everything was returned to the school drawer. With all things school in one location, getting ready and remembering everything for school was much easier.

Not everyone has the option of a deep drawer. No problem, a rectangular laundry basket, storage bin, or even cardboard box can work just as easily! Just make sure the storage container is conveniently located. No child wants to make the extra effort after a long day at school. They want to drop their book bag and get a snack!

It will take some training to get everyone used to all things school in one location, but it will be worth it. Helping your child be more organized and responsible is worth the effort!

photo credit: school supply mountain via photopin

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