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Finding a Routine at Home

I am missing my routine already. Maybe your are too. Here is a plan for gathering ideas for your children’s ‘new’ daily routine.

I put together a brainstorming sheet so you can come up with ideas that suit your individual child and family situation. You can brainstorm ideas in four areas: creativity, outdoor activity, academics, and service. This pdf includes a checklist for your child (you could say something like ‘no video games until the checklist is finished’). I also created a sample brainstorming sheet filled in with different ideas I might use. This morning, I noticed that many of the online websites that I’ve seen recommended are having issues, probably too much traffic. Some of you may want ideas that are not on the computer so that your kids are off screens for awhile and so that you can accommodate all your learners. Some of your kids may be overwhelmed by too many choices so keep it simple, you can always revisit the choice/brainstorming sheet.

pic of checklist

(click the pdf below)

I hope this helps. 

IMG_8251 (2)It is intended to create structure while keeping things fun and keeping kids accountable without parental nagging (thus the checklist :). Your kids need you to be a calm in the current storm.

Sample Brainstorming for Parents

Brainstorming for Parents

(I am hoping to post a video in the near future, demonstrating some of the ideas. I would love your feedback.)

Positive Behaviour Supports

Positive Behaviour Supports

Parents, teachers, leaders: Most of us know that changing a challenging behaviour requires consistency and an adult that is calm. Positive Behaviour Supports and Interventions (PBS or PBIS in the education world) are positive and proactive systems for encouraging and reinforcing desired behaviours. When you have a plan in place ahead of time it is SO much easier to be consistent and calm!!

In one of the courses I participated in this year, I stumbled on this resource and I want to remember it! This interactive website is full of ideas, plans, and links for dealing with challenging behaviour (some links within are old and don’t work but still very worthy of bookmarking).

Polk Elementary School BPS Behavior Intervention

(It may be helpful to understand what Tiers 1, 2, and 3 are in behaviour intervention).

Tier 1 supports of positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) consists of rules, routines, and physical arrangements that are developed and taught by [school] staff to prevent initial occurrences of behavior the school would like to target for change.

Tier 2 support is designed to provide intensive or targeted interventions to support students who are not responding to Tier 1 Support efforts. Interventions within Tier 2 are more intensive…

Tier 3 level support is provided to the 1-5% of students who may have very serious problem behaviors and may require more intensive and individualized supports.


Great for Kids and Card Games

A wonderful colleague gave me this idea.  So easy to make with box lids and duct tape. This card garage frees up little hands to sort their cards while still keeping them hidden and completed sets can lay on top.

Having Trouble Handling an Angry Child

Having Trouble Handling an Angry Child

I created Loving Through the Anger as a reference for parents and teachers.  It is a short version of things that have ‘stuck with me’ and really ‘struck a chord with me’ through the years of coming alongside children that struggle with strong emotions.  Each reference given, points to so much more information.  This is one of my passions right now.  I truly believe that behaviour from a child is communication and our behaviour can communicate so much back to the child.  There are times [weird, I know] when I am glad to catch moments of anger, etc. because these become teachable moments and times when I can congratulate self regulation and efforts towards self control.  Of course, ask my own children if I always handle these issues ‘properly’….  on second thought, probably better not to ask my own children – just read the reference sheet instead.

Visual Incentives

I used this kind of system to encourage my young son (quite a few years ago 🙂  ) to come downstairs each morning dressed and ready for school.  He had a picture of icecream and earned a choice of icecream for the family’s dessert. Much better than resorting to nagging.

Discipline Styles

Watching The Sound of Music over the holidays I was struck by the contrasting models of discipline. The children were obedient with Captain Bon Trapp and with Frauleine Maria. However, one inspired obedience out of fear, the other inspired obedience with love, consistency, and involvement. Which are you, or which do you aspire to be?


Website Helpful for Reviewing

pocket folder for flashcards

pocket folder for flashcards

20131114-194223.jpg – a free website for quizzing and testing. I like it for students to independently practice something while I need to spend time with another student.  (They can also practice skills from home.)  Also good when I have a student that finished early. So far I have used it for vocabulary review and math fact review.


Try It! This Works!

Memorizing is tough, memorizing lists is tough! Memorizing is made easier by things like mneumonics (new-mon-ics). Mneumonics like HOMES for the Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior) give our brains “a hook” to hang things on; a way to make sense of a list. The site explains why our brains like mneumonics:

1. They make the material more meaningful by adding associations and creating patterns. In fact, mnemonics work better for material that is less meaningful.

2. They help organize the information so that you can more easily retrieve it later. By giving you associations and cues, mnemonics allow you to cross-reference the information in different parts of your memory. This mental structure is very useful for material that has very little inherent organization.

3. Mnemonics typically involve visualizations that help make the facts more vivid. This is especially helpful for people who are visual learners. Additionally, these visualizations help focus your attention on the material by making the learning more fun.

Memory aids that build links can be visual like this picture of an energy drink:

I made this with a student to help her remember the term “mitochondria” and to help her remember that the function of the mitochondria is to produce energy in the cell.

Another memory aid that builds connections for a student is narrative, or story. I taught students the capitals of the provinces of Canada in less than half an hour. Ham up the stories, the funnier the better, and the more memorable! For a copy of this, click here.

We tried another narrative.  I put 10 items on a tray, students looked at the items for a minute, then I took the tray away.  I asked them to write what they remembered.  Next, I took out the tray and made a story in which I walked through my house and in each room I incorporated one of the items.  For example, to remember: hat, tennis ball, book, juice box, sock, and calculator:  I walked into my house and hung up my hat. Then I walked into the hallway and kicked a tennis ball that was left on the floor. I was frustrated so I went into the living room and sat down but I sat on a book. I quickly got up and went into the kitchen for a juice box. After that I went to the living room where I found my sock. I put it on and decided to get to work. I went into the dining room and sat at the table with my calculator. And so on…  This method works best when your mental pictures are walking through rooms in your own house.  Try it!  Challenge someone that doesn’t know this trick and blow them away with your memory powers!

These tools are definitely NOT just for special ed. students! Imagine the university student that has to memorize the parts and functions of a cell, list genres of literature, rattle off events in historical order, or recall different types of generators and how they function!

Great Document

Have you seen this document: The Ontario Curriculum Unit Planner: Special Education Companion ?
It has definitions of different disabilities and classroom strategies and suggestions. A really helpful resource!

Walking the Line Between Home and School

As teachers we hear about home and no doubt home hears about teachers. As a parent and a teacher I can chuckle at many of the anecdotes my children tell me, usually seeing the bigger picture of where and how incidents are happening.

As a teacher, the line between home and school can sometimes get blurry. For example, when a young student can’t stop talking about playing a rated “M” video game that I do not agree with and would not allow in my home. Or the student that brags about how late he goes to bed or how little sleep he gets. I want to respect and honour parents but I want to offer an opinion and observations as well. If I am to be influential in a child’s life, how do I walk this line?

My prayer is the serenity prayer:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
wisdom to know the difference.”

(The original serenity prayer was written in the early 1930s or 40s by Reinhold Niebuhr for one of his sermons.)


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