Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving: Simply Give Thanks

Thanksgiving is easy: Simply give thanks.

When I used to think of Thanksgiving, I used to think of family gatherings with turkey, macaroni and cheese, greens, and sweet potato pie. But all that changed a few years ago. As I began to prepare my Thanksgiving meal the day before Thanksgiving, I felt a chill gently tap me on my shoulder. As I continued the meal preparation, I even thought I saw the formation of a faint cloud as I exhaled. 

Within the hour, frigid cold shoved polite chill out of the way. And I realized it was time to check the thermostat. That’s when I discovered the furnace was no longer working. 

We were having guests for Thanksgiving the next day, but rather than cancel the dinner, we decided to use the fireplace in the family room and have our guests gather together in that room.

It worked out well. Very few people knew we did not have a working furnace. With the oven going in the kitchen, a diligently manned fire blazing in the family room, and the familial love we had in our hearts, no one complained about being cold.

The following day we called a furnace repair company, which had a domino effect -- a call to a second furnace repair company and then a call to a third furnace repair company. But the verdict was the same. We needed a new furnace. My husband and I were upset that we were faced with this unexpected expense.

Eventually, we made our selection. It was a tough job trying to choose a dependable yet affordable unit, but we did it. The following Monday the workers arrived. The clinking, clanging, and banging drowned out the jargon-laden dialogue between the workers. This went on for quite a while until it became quiet. One-by-one the workers had left the basement to congregate in an area outside. They confirmed what one worker had suspected: the smell of gas. They made an urgent plea for us to call the gas company. Subsequently, we were notified we had a gas leak—a serious gas leak that involved a backhoe, a gas crew, and a new underground gas line.

Well, our anger over having to purchase a new furnace was replaced with feelings of thanksgiving. We had been spared the devastating consequences of having a serious gas leak. We were thankful we still had our lives, and we were thankful we still had our home. I believe in prayer. I pray daily. A portion of my prayer focuses on my family's protection. That prayer had been answered. We were protected from the devastating consequences of a gas leak. The cost involved in the purchase and installation of a furnace was microscopic compared to priceless things we could have lost.

So this Thanksgiving, as I give thanks for all the things for which I am thankful—family, health, protection, wisdom, good memories, emotional well-being, education, career, and the like--I also give thanks for the time our furnace stopped working. It led to the discovery of a problem that we were able to get fixed before something terrible happened.

Today, thousands of people will prepare delicious gourmet and soul food meals. And the preparation probably began days ago. It did for me. But don't forget the main point, which is an easy one: Simply give thanks. Give thanks not only for what you have but also for how you were able to have it.

For what are you thankful? This is the story in you. Share it.

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The Best Black Friday Shopping Strategies

These Black Friday strategies will help you rise above the crowd. I look forward to shopping on Black Friday every year. I've been doing it for over 30 years now, and I’ve learned more than a few good strategies over the years.

Start Early
Start shopping before Black Friday. For years now, retailers have been slowly extending the holiday
shopping season. Some retailers have started Black Friday sales the week of Thanksgiving. Take advantage of these sales, especially for popular items that may become scarce as we approach Christmas.

Analyze Sales Ads the Day Before  
Don’t just look at prices. See what else retailers have to offer. A good price and a gift card may be better than some sales--but only if you can use the gift card for something you really want.

Understand the Return Policy
Why buy from a retailer if you can’t return an item if you aren’t satisfied? The return policy should be clearly posted in the store. You can also visit a retailer’s website to learn about its return policy. Sometimes return policies are different for different items.

Make a List
What do you want to buy? For whom do you want buy it? What sizes do you need? What colors? Write it down. And bring the list with you. Cross off the items as you purchase them.

Map out Store Locations According to Time
Many Black Friday coupons are time-sensitive. So, this should determine the order in which you go to retailers.  

Sustain Yourself
Pack a snack. It’s a tough job navigating through stores. A bag of raw organic nuts can be very filling. This is usually my snack of choice. You can keep them in your pocket or purse. I also recommend you bring a water bottle. Small ones fit nicely in cargo pants pockets. Depending on how long you will be shopping, you may want to bring a practical lunch. In Michigan, it’s usually cold on Black Friday, so leaving your lunch box in the car is usually OK. Remember, everything will be crowded--food courts, fast food restaurants, and bathrooms. If you take medication, even over-the-counter meds, bring them. For future reference, keep one of the empty containers your meds came in. You can use it to put one or two pills in it to carry with you. If you lose the bottle while shopping, you'll still have the remaining meds at home. And if you're stopped by the police, you won't have much explaining to do.

Think about the Weight of it All
Bring along a collapsible shopping bag on wheels. They are helpful for carting heavy items from the store to your vehicle. Consider bringing a back pack or a large tote bag for carrying several small bags.

Clip Coupons
Clip coupons in advance. And bring the coupons with you. Don’t forget to read the fine print. Some coupons are passes that you can use repeatedly. Other coupons have limitations. You may not be able to use them on Bonus Buy items. I hate that.

First and Last
Go to large department stores first. They usually have the time-sensitive coupons. And they become crowded fast. So, save boutique/small store shopping last. Small retailers are usually not as crowded as large retailers.

Dress Smart
Wear comfortable and practical clothes and accessories: cargo pants, waist pouch or small shoulder strap purse hidden under your jacket, and comfy shoes. Wear a light-weight jacket, even if it’s cold outside. You just need something to keep you warm from your vehicle to the store. Once you reach the mall or large retailer, you will be uncomfortable in a heavy coat, scarf, gloves, and boots. And never wear a turtleneck sweater. I learned the hard way. If it rains, a rain hat is more practical than trying to maneuver an umbrella.

Fill up the Car
Make sure you have gas in your vehicle. It’s not uncommon to encounter bumper-to-bumper traffic near large shopping centers and malls. This is not a good time to run out of gas.

Choose your Shopping Partners Carefully
Black Friday is not a day the kids will enjoy. Leave them with a reliable sitter. Besides, some of the shopping may be for them anyway. If you shop with a buddy or a group, make sure they have as much stamina as you do. If not, drive in separate vehicles so they can leave when they are ready. Consider splitting up in the store and setting up a meeting time and place. You and your buddies can shop for items in different departments.

Be Smart
Protect yourself and your possessions. Leave expensive purses and jewelry at home. Don’t go out to your vehicle to put in your packages. If you need to put something in your vehicle, do so, and then drive to another parking space so it appears you are leaving. Place packages in the trunk, not on the seats. Moreover, be alert. Create a plan for what you will do if someone follows you or acts suspiciously. Consider carrying pepper spray, but make sure you can access it quickly.

Don’t be Sucked In
Avoid the crazy people. When a retailer warns you that quantities are limited, believe them. Don’t even make an attempt to be one of the thousand people vying for one of the few items. To maintain your dignity and your sanity, it’s best to pay a little more money for the item at a different store.

Say Ahhh
When you return home, draw a bath spiked with Epsom salt (the whole bag) and a few drops of lavender. Soak for at least 15 minutes while you relax and reflect on your conquests.

It Ain’t Really Over
If you believe you’ve missed out on something, look forward to Cyber Monday. This is the big sale day for online shopping.

  • Don’t forget to enter coupon codes when “checking out” your online shopping cart. 
  • Manually select the delivery mode. Some sites have a default setting, which can be the most expensive delivery mode. 
  • Take advantage of free shipping. You may have to order a particular dollar amount though. 
  • Use a credit card, not a debit card. You don’t want to tie up your money if something goes wrong. 
  • Review all options. You may want to pay for it your merchandise online and pick it up in the store. Review the return policy. Some retailers will allow you to return the merchandise at any one of their stores. For other retailers, you may have to pay to ship the merchandise back to the retailer. 
  • Once you make your purchase, check your email for your confirmation number/ticket. Keep this until your merchandise arrives. 
Unfortunately, some people feel the need to "accept" your package(s) for you. So, notify FedEx and/or UPS to establish a delivery plan: a specific day and time you will be home, or let them know you will pick up your package from one of their centers.

What Black Friday memories do you have? This is the story in you. Share it.


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Friday, November 13, 2015

Telling Your Story in Six Words

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.  ~ Maya Angelou

You have an untold story just waiting to come out. But if you are not into writing long memoirs, consider writing a six-word memoir to share your story. I learned about the six-word memoir several years ago from Smith Magazine's Six-Word Memoir website. The website has inspirational ideas, examples, contest descriptions, and galleries. I used the idea in a memoir writing workshop I facilitated, and my students enjoyed the exercise. 

The possibilities are endless; see for yourself:

Six-Words, 2010

It's easy to get started:

Brainstorm for Ideas
Reflect on your life, experiences, and accomplishments.

Write down your responses to the questions above without thinking about the number of words. Skim through your ideas, and select the best one. Then condense the words to six.

Select a Topic
If you're having a little difficulty generating ideas, or if you're thinking, "I'm sooo much more than six-words" think about various topics, and write a six-word memoir for each topic. For example, I’m a brave person (well, most of the time, anyway). So, my six-word memoir for the topic personality might be

This lady doesn’t run from spiders.

If I want to put a little attitude to it, I might write

This lady don’t run from spiders.

But this six-word memoir is only a fraction of who I am. It does not reflect my creativity. So, to address it, I might write

My imagination, where dreams are conceived

Here are some topics to get you started:

  • Social life
  • Love life
  • Finances
  • Character
  • Spiritual life
  • Career
  • Emotional

Use a Thesaurus to Find Synonyms
To find sophisticated and interesting words, use a thesaurus. If you're an Internet surfer, I recommend thesaurus.com. Better yet, use a creative source such as Evans’s The Gilded Tongue: Overly Eloquent Words for Everyday Things. You’ll find remarkable words that will add interest to your six-word memoir. Mind you, people will have to use a dictionary to discover the meanings, but if you are a mysterious person, this method is perfect for you. For example, if you cannot control your shopping habit, you could use oniomania. And if you are unpredictable, you could use aleatory (Evans, 2006).

Now, Shout it from the Roof Tops
Publish your untold story. Frame it, put it on a t-shirt, bumper sticker, or a poster.

You can even get family members involved. Have each family member create his or her own six-word memoir. It's a way for them to use critical thinking skills and to express their individuality.

How would you describe yourself in six words? This is the story in you. Share it.

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Evans, R, (2006). The gilded tongue: Overly eloquent words for everyday things. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest Books.

Six Words. (2010). Six-word memoirs: The video story. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZOxhHXZW6o

Friday, October 30, 2015

Easy Healthy "Caramel" Apples

Autumn is the time of year when the leaves embarrass the flowers. It's also the time of year when my soul craves warm, spicy apple cider and gooey, sweet caramel apples. But, for the past few years, I have not eaten caramel apples. It’s because they come with an undesirable companion--corn syrup. 

Yesterday I couldn’t tame my craving. I had to have a caramel apple. And out of that intense craving came one of my most delicious and easy recipes: Healthy “Caramel” Apples. The whole family will have fun making and eating these apples.

  • Organic Granny Smith apples
  • approximately ¼ c organic natural peanut butter for each apple
  • 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup for each ¼ c of peanut butter
  • ¼ c organic unsalted dry roasted peanuts for each apple

Wash and dry apples. Mix the maple syrup with the peanut butter in a small bowl. Crush peanuts in a zip lock bag using a rolling pin. Place them on a plate. With a butter knife, spread peanut butter and maple syrup mixture over apples. Roll apples in the crushed peanuts. Refrigerate for an hour before eating. (Note that the spread will not harden like a caramel apple, but the flavor will make up for it.)

Insert a wooden candy apple stick, or just slice it up. 

Enjoy! Store leftovers in the refrigerator. (But there probably won't be any.)

What fall traditions do you have? This is the story in you. Share it.


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Monday, October 26, 2015

What You Need to Know About the American Cancer Society's New Breast Cancer Guidelines

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, but breast cancer is a topic that should always be on our minds. One of the most important things we can do, men and women, is to be life-long learners. Stay informed, especially with new guidelines.

I recently learned of the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) guidelines for women at average risk for breast cancer. They include the following:
  • Delay mammograms for 5 years. Instead of the previously recommended yearly mammogram starting at 40 years, the ACS now recommends mammograms begin at 45 years.
  • At 55 years, women should have mammograms every other year.
  • It goes a step further and recommends women forgo clinical breast exams and self-exams.

(American Cancer Society, October 20, 2015)

Thinking about the ACS’s new guidelines reminds me of the time I received a bill from a medical center. I was shocked by the amount. I noticed my insurance coverage had changed. My insurance company at the time no longer paid for certain tests. I mentioned this to one of my health care professionals during my next visit, and the health care professional said something startling to me. It went something like this: If people don’t have the money to pay for tests and treatments because insurance companies won’t pay for them, they probably won’t get the tests and treatments. As a result, a person’s life could be shortened. But, it saves the insurance companies money.

I'm not the only one who is uncomfortable with the new breast cancer guidelines:

                                                 (CBS This Morning, October 21, 2015)

  • Will insurance companies follow the new guidelines? If so, how many women, 40-44 years old, will forgo mammograms?
  • How many women know if their breast cancer risks are average or high?
  • How many women have found a cancerous lump during a breast self-exam?
  • How many doctors have found a cancerous lump during a clinical exam?
  • How many mammograms detected a cancerous lump in women ages 56, 58, 60 . . . respectively (every other year after 55 years)?
The answers to these questions are important because these women’s lives are important—more important than the statistics and money spent on false positives.

How will you join the fight against breast cancer? This is the story in you. Share it.


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American Cancer Society. (October 20, 2015). American Cancer Society breast cancer screening guidelines overview. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50CdcLJsIEI

CBS This Morning. (October 21, 2015). Controversial new mammogram set later testing age. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NP_H9wZRnvg

Monday, October 19, 2015

Breast Cancer Awareness: Join the Fight

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, but breast cancer is a topic that should always be on our minds. A few years ago, I received an email that contained the link to the following video:

(sowhttt, September 10, 2008)

This video was one of the catalysts that led to drastic changes in my life, particularly my diet. I realized I had placed too much trust in the big businesses and corporations that produce our food—not for our good but for their profit. The use of antibiotics, hormones, grain feed, and inhumane confinement all contribute to the substances in beef and dairy that can cause illnesses in humans.

The Mediterranean diet has be hailed as an anti-inflammatory diet that may reduce breast cancer. Foods like wild caught fish, nuts (if you're not allergic), beans, legumes, olive oil, vegetables, and fruit usually do not provoke an inflammatory response in the body. I recommend taking additional steps:
  • Read labels, and make choices that support a healthy long life.
  • Eat less beef and dairy. When you do eat beef and dairy, make sure it is from grass fed beef. Grass fed beef is getting easier to find now. We buy ours from Whole Foods and Fresh Thyme. Fresh Thyme carries plain yogurt from Maple Hill Creamery. The yogurt comes from grass fed cows. For those who like flavored yogurt, it only takes a few minutes to add some chopped/sliced organic berries and raw honey to sweeten it. 
Prepared foods may be convenient, but if you analyze the ingredients, they may cost you more than you are willing to pay: your health. It takes less time than you think to prepare your own products. Two small appliances make the preparation time very fast: a food processor and a blender.

One of my quick and healthy choices is making my own almond milk. Have you seen the ingredient lists on most cartons of prepared almond milk? They are unhealthy. So, I place a handful of raw almonds and 1 ½ cups of water in my food processor. If I drink it, I strain it in a small mesh strainer. If I use it to make oatmeal raisin cookies, I don’t strain it. There’s no need because I put nuts in the cookies anyway. It takes less than 2 minutes. (Some people soak their almonds in water overnight. When I plan ahead, I do this. But if I don't plan ahead, I don't let this stop me from making my own almond milk.)

Some of my loved ones have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Over the years, three have died. I have concluded that cancer is a cruel disease that deserves our attention. We need to fight against it. 

How have you engaged in the fight against breast cancer? This is the story in you. Share it. 


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sowhttt. (September 10, 2008). Monsanto & cancer milk: Fox News kills story & fires reporters. 

Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL1pKlnhvg0

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Homework Helper: How to Make the Most of Studying

I used to think learning styles didn’t matter until my son was in middle school. He was quite different from my daughter who could read, take notes, memorize, and do well on tests and quizzes. When my son was taking 7th grade geography, he was required to memorize large amounts of information about various countries. He struggled, and he was not satisfied with his grade. Ricky also wanted to win the grand prize for having the highest number of points in geography at the end of the school year. (Thankfully, they don’t do that anymore.) Reading, making sense of the text, taking notes, and trying to memorize the information wasn’t working for him in geography. I became a believer of learning styles when I analyzed the situation. I realized that Ricky could hear a song and memorize the words quickly. He is an auditory learner. I instructed Ricky to tape record the text book chapters and to listen to them. This worked well! Long story short: Ricky won the grand prize in his geography class. The grand prize was wait for it . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . . a geography book. But he soon got over the shock of it and focused on his class status. Other tips for auditory learners—
  • listen to audio books (eBooks, including text books, usually have an audio option as well as a smart phone app so you can listen on the go)
  • record and listen to notes
  • discuss concepts with others

You might have a child like my daughter Alana. She's a visual learner. She takes notes and makes diagrams. As an adult, she loves to make graphic organizers for fun from an app on her IPad. Other tips for visual learners—
  • draw pictures and matrices
  • highlight texts
  • watch videos

If your child is a hands-on learner (kinesthetic), he or she will benefit from “doing” something. Making a model of a concept is a good way to increase understanding and to retain the information. Other tips for hands on learners-
  • role play
  • involve the senses: hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching
  • attend museums and displays

Many people are combination learners. They benefit from hearing and doing or seeing and doing. So, a combination of techniques may work. But don’t limit your child. If he or she is a visual learner, play games and engage in activities that require him or her to use auditory and hands on strategies.

If you don’t know how your child learns, be observant. Does he or she grasp a math concept by listening? Or, does he or she need to see a step-by-step process? Maybe he or she needs to use manipulatives to understand.

I’m a combination of visual and hands-on. I am lost when I am in situations in which I have to hear only. I must take notes and make diagrams in order for the information to stick with me. My understanding increases when I make something that demonstrates a process or shows concept relationships.

One of my favorite ways to stimulate visual learners is through PowerPoint. Alternate question and answer slides. For example, type a question on slide 1, and type the answer on slide 2. You can even time the slides so your child has a few seconds to think about the answer. (Did you know that when you close your eyes, you can improve memory recall?

How do you learn? This is the story in you. Share it.


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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Throwback Thursday: It's Good for You

With thousands of people participating in the social media trend #ThrowbackThursday (#TBT), over 100 million photos have been posted. It's the practice of sharing old photographs, lyrics, and links to songs along with the memories behind them. It has taken Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like by storm.

Have you joined in the fun yet?
You should join in the fun because nostalgia has benefits. Pondering over fond memories makes you feel better. Take a soothing bath in those times when you felt happy, protected, and loved. According to Hepper, Ritchie, Sedkikdes, and Wildschut (2012), the strength you gain from these positive memories can  have the following effects:
  • improve your self-concept
  • boost your mood
  • feel accepted
  • help you make connections between the then and the now
You can conjure up fond memories by looking at old photos, listening to old songs, smelling an aroma, touching an object, and/or tasting a food item or drink. 

Participating in #TBT is easy:
Participating in #TBT is easier than you think. 
  • Select a picture that was taken at least five years ago (one associated with fond memories).
  • Post it on your favorite social media site.
  • Write a brief description of the nostalgic memory.
Note that social media is not the only way to participate in #TBT. Start a #TBT scrapbook. Each Thursday, select an old photo that generates fond memories. Insert the photo into a scrapbook (make it or buy it). Then write about the fond memories centered around the photo. Before you know it, you'll have completed the scrapbook.

This is a picture of a poem from a collection of poems I wrote when I was about 11 years old. 
This is the only school assignment I kept from my childhood and teenage years. It's special because I still remember the day my mother helped me write the poems. My elementary school teacher gave my class an assignment to write several poems, but I could only think of a few. I remember sitting on the couch with my mother and telling her about my dilemma. 

She suggested I write about the family and things I liked. She gave me some ideas about each family member, and I did the rest. I was good at finding rhyming words.

My siblings and I were privileged to have lots of books when we were growing up. One of those books was a nursery rhyme book, and we memorized most of the rhymes. It wasn't until decades later that I discovered many children do not grow up with books and paper and pencils and crayons. It's called the absence of print. It can delay the development of reading and writing skills. We were fortunate.

Learning rhymes is essential to learning how to read. The sounds and patterns are helpful in learning sight words and phonics.

Recently I went to a baby shower. One of the games we played focused on nursery rhymes: Little Jack Horner, Little Miss Muffet, and the like. Very few of the younger adults were able to fill in the correct words. They were unfamiliar with the old rhymes. I had the most correct answers, so I won the game. While I was writing in the answers, I remembered again how blessed I was as a child. My siblings and I grew up in a home filled with love, hope, respect, patience, and books. We thought we were rich! We learned later in life that our definition of rich was not equivalent to the definition of rich most people use--having the abundance of material things. Money could not buy what we had. It was priceless!

What fond memories do you have of your childhood? This is the story in you. Share it. 

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Hepper, Ritchie, Sedkikdes, and Wildschut. (2012). Nostalgia. Retrieved fromhttp://www.southampton.ac.uk/nostalgia/what_is_nostalgia/

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Homework Helper: Creating a Productive Space

Should my child do homework seated at a desk or table? This is a question many parents ask. My siblings and I all gathered around our big rectangular dining room table to do our homework. Throughout the week, the dining room table stayed cluttered with our scattered papers, books, and writing utensils. Our house looked "lived in" as my mother used to say. And we were not allowed to do our homework while watching television. In fact, we had to complete our homework before we watched television or played outside 

When my children were old enough to go to school, I bought them desks for their bedrooms. I wanted
to make sure they had a "proper" homework space without distractions--something I had desired as a child. They began their homework seated at their desks. But eventually, one would end up doing his homework stretched across his bed while the other would end up doing her homework stretched out on the floor of her bedroom. When I peeked into their rooms, I would tell them to sit at their desks. (After all, that’s what their desks were for. Right?) They would groan and comply--for a few minutes. Then they would drift back to their comfortable and productive homework spaces. I finally realized that doing homework in a space other than seated at a desk is alright. They always earned high grades, so I let them be. I learned to accept that their desks would be part of the d├ęcor in their bedrooms, not a functional piece of furniture. They were productive, and that’s what mattered.

By the way, did you know some people concentrate better when they have background noise? Is that your child? If so, classical music or white noise (available on CDs and phone apps) might help your child’s productivity. I work better when I’m enveloped in silence. Even when I grade papers, I must not have distractions, not even soft music. But that's me. It's beneficial for you to learn what your child needs to be productive.

I kept my parents’ rule of no television while reading, writing, and studying. However, when my children had to do creative projects, I allowed them to sprawl out in front of the television after they had completed the planning and organization stages of their projects.

Here are some tips for making your child's homework space productive:
  • strong lighting
  • an easily accessible supply box filled with items they may need:
    • paper, lined and unlined
    • folders
    • clip board
    • pencils (regular and colored)
    • markers
    • pencil sharpener (or lead for mechanical pencils)
    • pens
    • erasers and white out
    • paper clips and stapler
    • book marks
  • an easily accessible craft box filled with items they may need for creative projects:
    • construction paper
    • poster boards
    • fabric, yarn, and string
    • tape
    • glue
    • glitter
    • beads
    • scrapbook paper and embellishments
    • picturesque magazines such as National Geographic
    • old newspapers (for paper mache projects)
    • washable paints

Don't forget to have on hand extra quantities of the items on your child’s school supply list. When I used to be a substitute teacher, I saw many students writing with pencils so tiny they could hardly manage. It was downright awkward for them. Your child may forget to tell you when their supplies run out in school. Ask them periodically if they need more supplies.

Peek in on your child from time-to-time. Encourage him or her to take frequent breaks. Did you know that sitting too long can be deadly? 

                          Ted-Ed, March 5, 2015 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUEl8KrMz14

What homework memories do you have? This is the story in you. Share it.

The Memory Keepers' Daughter,


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Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Homework Helper: Reading and Writing Resources

Homework has evolved. Decades ago, my siblings and I were ecstatic when we received our first set of encyclopedias. My mother bought the collection over a period of time through a grocery store offering. I believe it was the local A& P. When she made the final purchase, World History Part I and Part II (a bonus to the set), we thought we had everything we could ever need to complete our homework.

Fast forward to 2015, and you’ll discover that a set of encyclopedias does not meet a child’s homework needs. Websites can be quite helpful in providing supplementary information and activities.

For homework and activities related to reading and writing, you and your child will find the following websites helpful:

Reading and Writing Resources
http://dictionary.reference.com/ provides the definition, origin, usage, and pronunciation of words. Its companion link http://www.thesaurus.com/ includes synonyms and antonyms for words.

www.ReadWriteThink.org includes a link titled Parent and After School Resources. Games, podcasts, and activities encourage literacy in a fun way.

http://www.scholastic.com/home/ supports literacy with a variety of writing games, book trailers, and Meet the Author videos.

http://www.discoveryeducation.com/students/ includes resources that focus on grammar, mechanics, and composition.

https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/677/01/ provides a comprehensive link that addresses writing topics and writing strategies for students in grades 7-12.

(Don't forget to monitor you child’s Internet use.)

To encourage reading and writing in your home I recommend the following:
  • Model reading and writing.
  • Talk about your reading and writing activities.
  • Read to your child on a regular basis. They are never too young nor too old. Discuss the characters, plot, setting, and themes. Inquire about his or her likes and dislikes.
  • Have your child read to you and other family members. Make it a family affair by putting on a reader's theater.

  • Establish a "library" in your home. This can be an elaborate room with shelves of books or a simple corner in a room. Provide a combination of traditional and ebooks.
  • Although you can check out ebooks online from your local public library, still take your child to the library to check out books and to attend age-appropriate literacy programs.
  • Provide writing materials: pencils, pens, paper, tablet/laptop/PC, and a comfortable writing area.
  • Display your child's writing: frame it or put it on the frig.
  • Encourage your child to write letters to family and friends.
  • Help your child learn the keyboard. Using a computer for word processing will be less intimidating to him or her.
  • Schedule time for writing and reading. 

What resources did you have when you did your homework? This is the story in you. Share it.


Connect with me on Pinterest to view creative ideas about writing:

  • Why should you write?
  • How should you write?
  • The quirks of writing
  • When should you write?
  • What is writing?
  • What is a writer?
  • In what should you write?