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Category Archives: Kids

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.)

My Best Advice for College & University Students

My Best Advice for College & University Students

It’s pretty simple really – I call it “The Reverse Calendar”.

In order to achieve success in school, studies have shown that IQ is not the #1 contributor. In fact, an important contributor to student success is a balanced life that allows you to enjoy life while working hard; avoiding the ‘I give up’ syndrome.

Start with a blank monthly calendar. You can download one here. Write down all your due dates. Now an important and often missed step: cross out times when you will be doing other things and will be unable to study – things like sports, time with friends, church, time spent on hobbies, time spent at a job, etc. Lastly, working backwards from the due dates, write in what needs to be done each day – things like: read pp 20 – 45 or spend 1 hour proof reading or brainstorm or write an outline.

Most people hate that feeling of unfinished tasks hanging over their heads. Not only does the reverse calendar break down large assignments into manageable chunks, life will feel more balanced and you will feel less anxious. Students that plan this way will develop good work habits (while still working hard) and will be less likely to throw in the towel and give up, finding rest at the end of each day knowing that the daily tasks are complete.

For more, watch this Ted Talk:

Douglas Barton “What do top students do differently?”

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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.

A Think ‘N Roll

One of my students really likes this thingy called a “Think ‘N Roll”. It is a tool for fidgeting feet.
It can make noise so I have cautioned students that when that happens it is no longer an effective tool helping them to listen and will be put away for a time.
This is discreet, keeps kids from tipping the chair, and it is simple to add or remove. It costs $9. at School Specialty Canada. Unfortunately shipping and handling can add a chunk but I was ordering a bunch of stuff since there are some neat tools available.

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This Is What It’s All About

I felt weary today…. then I found this on my desk, just what I needed.

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Good Bye to a Great Drama and Grade 8 Teacher!

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20140110-142751.jpg Students wrote individual statements of appreciation and each of these were attached to make a long filmstrip.

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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?

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Great Document

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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!

Did You Know That You Have Executive Skills?

I’m just finishing a book about executive functioning. Most people don’t go around using these terms but we all use and need the skill sets that they describe.
Executive functioning is the set of skills that allow a person to plan a task, figure out the steps involved, activate the best strategies for the task, stick to the task, inhibit impulsive behaviour, and change strategies if needed. It is our planning skills and our ability to control ourselves and figure out ways to get something done.
Executive functioning plays a huge role in the life of a student. Much of a child’s executive functioning skills have been inherited. Also important, are the child’s developmental level and environment.

How do you teach your child or student to develop these skills?  A great start is by modeling how you organize yourself and speaking aloud the ways in which you plan a task.  For example, I might explain aloud that we have to be at a birthday party by 4 p.m. so I work backwards and figure on a half hour driving time, so that is 3:30 p.m., a half hour “getting ready” time so that is 3 p.m.  I need to start getting ready at 3 p.m.  Explaining the steps you take to execute a task will promote executive functioning.  The next time there is a similar task, help your child go through the same steps. 

So often we get upset at our children or students for poor planning but this is NOT a strategy for improving these skills.  Try the modeling and thinking aloud strategy.  Walk your child through it several times before expecting independence.

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