I Hate Homework!

Hate Homework

Ever since my daughter started 1st grade, one thing that has been a constant battle is HOMEWORK. I can’t say that I blame her point of view. After a full day at school, then some club or sports afterwards, who wouldn’t just want to veg on the television when they got home? Add the fact that she has 2 little brothers making noise (and a mess) somewhere close by in our very “cozy” (read: small) house, or the new puppy is tugging at her heels….so it can’t be easy to get back in school mode and work when there are so much better things to do at home!

After another especially bad argument of “This is the 10th time I’ve told you to do your homework!” , my husband, who is always silently neutral when I am close to hysterical, said why not try this – LET HER FAIL. Hmmmm……. If she wont do her homework, she’ll have to deal with explaining to her teacher why, she’ll be made to do it at recess instead of the playground and she’ll probably not be happy at all with the consequences. So instead of Mom-the-Ogre banging her head against the wall, our 8-year-old will learn a valuable lesson on her own…….what a great idea!!!

So this is the plan starting tonight at our household. Will let you know what happens. In the meantime, here are a few useful homework tips I found:

Hot Homework Tips

Parents Homework Tips

Homework Tips According to Grade

Photo via Jessicizer

Posted on September 8, 2010 at by Lara

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Parent Guide to Preparing for School

Back to school

Children can feel a little overwhelmed when they start school for the first time – or even when they go back to school after having a break all summer. What they don’t often realize is that their parents can feel overwhelmed, as well.

School costs a lot of money. While public schools are free to attend, the school supply list just gets longer and longer. Each year it seems like it costs more. And for parents with more than one child that can mean hundreds of dollars just in supplies. Most children need at least some new clothing, too, because they’re growing so quickly.

Use the Internet to Find Deals

Fortunately, the Internet has allowed parents to have another way to get clothing and supplies for their children and save a little bit of money in the process. With discounts and special codes, like Overstock coupon codes, parents can save big.

If you’re a parent and you’re looking for ways to cut down on how much you’re spending for your child’s back-to-school items, don’t ignore the power of the Internet. If you look carefully, you can often find deals that give you free shipping. If you combine those deals with other offers (where that’s allowed) or use those deals when sales are running, you can get a lot of supplies for very little money.

Save All Year Long

Rather than wait until the last minute to get school supplies, make sure to plan for them all year. Put school supplies into your budget and save a little bit each month. That way, when school comes around you’ll already have the money available.

You won’t have to worry where the money for supplies is going to come from, get a loan from friends or family, or use your credit cards. It can be a great feeling to be able to pay for your children’s school supplies from savings that you’ve accumulated.

Less Stress After Shopping

Saving and planning all year long can also help your children feel more comfortable. They won’t see you stressed out and worried about how you’re going to pay for the things you’re buying. It’s good to be able to get your children what they need and not spend months afterward concerned about paying off the accumulated bills. If you want to save for back-to-school time, add up how much you spent last year and then add 10 to 20 percent to it.

Account for Inflation

When you do add in the extra percentage, you’ll account for inflation and rising prices. If you find great deals and use savings techniques, you might not spend as much money as you had set aside. That’s a great thing, though, because you’ll have some left over for a special treat for yourself or your children. You can also put that money back so you won’t have to save up as much over the course of the next year. That might free up some of your cash each month that you can use to pay down debt or spend on other things that you and your family need and want.

Photo via She Knows

Posted on August 31, 2010 at by Lara

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The Report Card

Report Card

The other day my husband and I went to the first PTC meeting with our daughter’s teacher, Ms. A. Report cards had just come out and I was eager to see how N had fared in the first term of first grade. It was a big adjustment for her as her preschool was tiny (8 kids on her class!), and her new “big school” was huge (almost 1,000 kids up to grade 12!). I knew that she was happy there, but as any parent knows, the way your kid is at home and at school can be two very different things.

Well, Ms. A told us that N was an enthusiastic learner, did well in all her subjects, especially p.e, art, computer and music. She then also said N was not really a “self starter” and needed some time (i.e. would play, draw or get distracted) before she could sit down and complete a task. In maths, she was very good with numbers, but often got confused with “problem solving” work. In reading, she had also improved vastly (she could hardly reading at the end of Kindergarten), but tended to rush through reading, using context clues to guess the words rather than going through them slowly.

Of course, I also had other questions- like the grading system, which was new to me, ranging from 4-1 (4 being the highest, and meant to be “super, super” not given lightly) and I was used to the old-fashioned ABC’s or 95, 85, 75 etc. N mostly got 3′s, a few 2′s, and two 4′s, but I can’t help but feel that she could have done better – that I could have done more to help her.

I think its up to us as parents to really know and understand our kids learning styles (again, think of the Animal School) as it could really help them not just in their school years, but for the rest of their lives.

Photo via AJC1

Posted on June 7, 2010 at by Lara

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Book In Focus: Parenting Well In A Media Age

We cannot deny it: we are living in a media age. Think back to when you were growing up. It might be that you didn’t have television, or perhaps if you did, your viewing time was limited. The chances are that you didn’t have Internet access. After all, the Internet didn’t really become widely used till the last decade or so.

Today, however, our children are bombarded with information from all sorts of media: TV, radio, and the Internet. There is no way that we can shelter them from these, is there?

One question enters my mind: is it really necessary to shelter children from the information available to them? After all, we cannot overlook the fact that there is a lot of useful information to be had. I suppose the trick lies in us knowing how to handle the amount and quality of information that our children access.

This is where this book, Parenting Well In A Media Age, comes into the picture. I haven’t had the chance to read the whole book, but I came across it on Amazon; and the title was enough to catch my attention. The product description reads:

This illuminating investigation takes a fresh look at the role of media in children’s lives. An overview of the formidable challenges parents face and creative ways to overcome them are included, as are strategies for turning a home environment from “high-tech” to “high-touch.” Moving beyond demonizing the media, this work, like none before it, articulates the difficulties of parenting in our depersonalized society. It offers hopeful alternatives for all parents wanting to protect children from, and teach children about, media’s impact.

I like the way the contents were described – it does not pinpoint media as “bad” in general. Instead, it highlights the fact that our society can become depersonalized even more because of the way information is presented. I am sure that no one will disagree when I say that parenting is a highly personalized job!

Then again, due to our busy schedules, it is quite easy to fall into the trap of providing our children with entertainment alternatives more than we ought to.

Go watch this education DVD while I make dinner. Go play with your PS3 or Xbox360 while I finish some paperwork. Go on the Internet to find the answer to your question.

These are some common “commands” some parents give their children too often. Perhaps in this book, we might find ways to handle various situations better. I am quite interested in getting my hands on a copy.

Has anyone read the book? Or maybe, you have your own pointers on how to become a good parent in this media age.

Posted on April 25, 2010 at by Lara

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What We Can Learn From President Obama


From the get go, Barack Obama made it known just how important his family is to him. Despite being the busy guy that he is, he always makes it a point to set aside time and resources for his wife and two girls. It looks to me that he is quite successful at what he is doing.

Recently, he was interviewed by Essence Magazine, and he talked at length about his stand on parent involvement in regard to raising children. Let me share with you some of the points that struck me the most.

Regulate TV time. So what does the first couple do? The president says that the girls are not allowed to watch TV during school nights. Instead, they have to do their homework first – as soon as they get home actually. When dinner time comes around and they’re still not done, then they continue after. Naturally, this requires diligence AND patience on everyone’s part. I understand this, though, as my parents did the same thing with us, and I’d like to think it worked out pretty well!

Set educational expectations. I think this is one thing that many parents need to work on. We have to draw the line regarding what is expected of the children and what we can do to help them. I have heard about (and seen) so many parents take on the school workload of their children just so things can get done. I can also recount a lot of stories about parents who set very high (often unrealistic) expectations. The trick is in finding the correct balance between giving the child responsibility AND supporting him when necessary. Unfortunately, this is a gray area. Who is to say what the balance is? Here’s a rough guide, according to the President: children must take responsibility for waking up and getting to school on time. They also must take responsibility for routine homework. When it comes to extra projects and other non-routine tasks, perhaps parents can lend a helping hand.

Communicate. This is a way of monitoring how your child is getting along in school. You need to make it a habit to spend time with your child regularly, if only to talk about mundane things. Even better, make it a point to set goals with your child, and then celebrate milestones together.

Isn’t that just a wonderful thing to hear from someone of such stature?

Posted on February 24, 2010 at by Lara

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Kids and Earth Day

Happy Earth Day 2009! One of the best things you can do to Save the Earth is to educate your kids about the environment and sustainability – making it a fun process that they can carry through for the rest of their lives.

Luckily, most “big” schools now teach kids about the environment, about recycling and even organic farming, so helping kids in grade school or older is easier than ever before. My daughter’s 1st grade class, for instance, visited an organic farm for their field trip last year and they saw how lettuce was looked after and harvested naturally. She knows not to leave the tap running when she brushes her teeth or washes her hands (I hear her scold her little brother that he’s “wasting!” water), turns off lights when nobody is using them, and talks to me excitedly about what it means to recycle.

For preschoolers, it’s a little more challenging. I have been trying to teach my 4-year-old some of the basic principles I taught my daughter, but I just get a sort of “bored” look most of the time. So my project, beginning this Earth Day, is to get my son more involved with some hands-on work. I found some great ideas online, like on iVillage, for instance, they have a useful article about how you can “Go Green at Any Age”. For preschoolers, they suggest things like this:

Teach your preschooler how to help pick out ripe seasonal fruit and vegetables for their snacks and meals. Show them that when they have finished their fruit and vegetables, there are parts that can be composted. Involve your children in composting your food scraps, coffee grounds, etc. Get them used to seeing that food waste is not garbage but rather something that can be turned into soil to grow more food.

Another site I like is Funschool, which has a lot of fun games and activities I know will appeal to my computer-loving little boy.

And lastly, for baby Wills, I’ll be dressing him in organic or sustainable clothing today (and as much as my bank account can afford!) but more often than not, I’ll be doing this: let him use his big sister and brother’s old clothes, shoes and toys. That’s recycling for you!

Photo via BecoThings

Posted on April 22, 2009 at by Lara

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Taking the Law into your Own Hands – By getting into School

blindjustriceHold your horses, not too fast and no violence involved. Many people are pissed at the way things are handled in court, much so that convicted killers, scammers and everybody in between go unpunished because of the legalities involved. Now let me ask you this, do you want to take them on with the backing of the law that so protects them, and gain the same protection for your and your family? Have you ever considered taking online law degrees with the many colleges offering them today, it’s easy as pie and you can do it while keeping your job during the day. many major colleges are now offering online law courses for those who want career advancement. For us, it would be the pure pleasure of learning hoe these criminals get away with the things they do.
Many of us are just plain tired and say that let them do the job for you, but most of the times, you’re not contented with the way they handle things. The law is a very tedious and tender matter that anybody without insight can easily get swallowed by the many such technicalities that are part of these laws. They are however the foundation of our society so whatever is within these laws makes modern life possible. Get down and dirty and get involved by getting yourself knowledgeable in the law that has failed you so much. Get involved and turn the law onto your side and keep the guilty ones out of the streets making them safer for our families, friends and everybody else.

Posted on March 9, 2009 at by brian

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Fun With Fur – Proven Stress Relief or Is It?

puppy1puppy2puppy3
Our furry friends have been known to lower stress of parenting and childhood for they offer companionship without question even if they do get around to mischief from time to time. Raising kids can be quite hectic specially in today’s recession wrecked economy but having them take care of a pet can be a nice way to teach them some responsibility. They do entail some costs for care and veterinary services to ensure they are fit and well but take my word for it, they’re well worth the cost so knowing the breed through updated dog information is essential for both your sakes.

You can also try animal shelters and animal charities for some pets that have had it rough and need loving families. May you be a pet lover or not, dogs and all other pets deserve care for they are our responsibility. Dogs are more energetic than cats and may even contribute to the health of your family as you have to take them for walks, call it a symbiotic existence where both benefit from living together.

Parents and kids alike will benefit for with the kids, they get to get a taste of responsibility and compassion for animals. For us adults, they become a sort of multi-tasking ward, guarding our homes, watching over the kids and what can we say, it’s just fun to talk and pour out stress without having the other party answer back!!!
puppy4

Posted on February 27, 2009 at by brian

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Mom Tries A Clean Sweep

Time Off

Forgive me for neglecting this blog all week, it’s been a busier week than usual – I’ve attempted to do a “clean sweep“. But for once, it has nothing to do with cleaning or organizing my house or my kids, and has everything to do with me.

It all started with an email I received from my mothers group a few weeks ago from a fellow Mum who excitedly said she was organizing a “Life Planning” workshop. Now, I’ve always been interested in that kind of thing (having lined my shelved with too many “self-help” books in my twenties, then moved onto the “baby whisperer” and “how to raise a spirited child”), and coupled with our family’s latest dilemma of moving, it really should have been something I signed up for immediately. But no, it stayed in my inbox for weeks, until the (rightly) persistent Mum, sent a follow up email saying:

The workshops are designed to be a time set aside for some internal reflection – but nothing too deep or scary! So many of us spend most of our time worrying about the well-being of others (husbands, kids, friends, far-off family, the cat) that we tend to neglect ourselves. In these workshops we want to take stock of our lives, where we are and where we want to go. It is not about searching through our past or re-living our personal histories. It is all about finding out who I really want to be and how I can become that person.

I’m sorry if this all sounds too California-hippy-esoteric: the tone of the workshops will actually be very down-to-earth and practical (and hopefully fun!).

I had this nagging feeling that it was something I should do, but I let a few more days pass, asking my husband occasionally, “What do you think? Should I do it?” After he said, for the upteenth time, “YES! just do it already”, I emailed the Mum and said that I was interested and quickly hit the “send” button before I could change my mind. In a few minutes I got a reply saying that I was luckily the 10th and last participant!

So I was in. And with trepidation I went to the first session last Tuesday, which consisted of 10 women, all from pretty different backgrounds and nationalities, with one thing in common. In the flurry of our lives as Mom, wife, friend, daughter, employee, employer etc…., we all wanted the same thing – to be happier with ourselves and create a better life for ourselves and our families. Our facilitator Michel was a Life Coach, and together with his assistant, also a Life Coach (and retired Congresswoman!), went through the first part of the workshop which was about Life Mapping.

I have to say that it was a great experience – certainly NOT easy, but with the potential to be extremely rewarding. This week I’ve been struggling to find the time (and head space) to fill out some of the exercises they gave us, which I’ve found is like eating a very healthy (but tasteless meal). Its not very comfortable chewing on those weird grains, but you know its good for you and you’ll feel a lot better later.

Photo via chez_sugi

Posted on February 22, 2009 at by Lara

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Review: Gymboree Level 2, Play and Learn

Gymboree

Gymboree

So we arrived at Gymboree, all ready for his trial class in “Level 2: Play and Learn”, which was for babies aged from 6-10 months. We entered the play floor and he looked around curiously at all the bright colors and babies around, the happy “Gymboree” music playing in the background.

For the first few minutes he was shy, not wanting to leave my lap, holding on quite tightly. But as the teacher eased into the 2nd song (they use the old standards – like “itsy bitsy”, “this old man” etc etc and put their own lyrics), he was off my lap, crawling to Gymbo the clown on the teacher’s lap, checking out the other babies and Moms by grabbing their shirt, watch, feet (oh dear).

The 45 minute class flew by – he crawled up a padded incline and was the first baby to grab the ball the the top (beating the 9-month-olds I proudly note), walked on a wooden plank then slid down on a wooly rug, played some singing games on my lap (he preferred crawling though), sang and danced (a good workout for Mum), and watched the bubbles with utter amazement – and it wasn’t until the last minute just as the goodbye song was ending did he start fussing with a few whines which signaled “ok Mummy, I’m tired now”.

The verdict? A good class for crawling babies, can be a bit rushed (as in moving from one activity to the next fairly quickly) for others especially those who aren’t very mobile yet.

Posted on September 12, 2008 at by Lara

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