Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I Apologize for the Homework

It is now the season of homework. I’m not a fan. Unfortunately, I’m guilty of inflicting thousands of nights of pain on other parents and I’d like to apologize because apparently payback is a bitch. It really wasn’t my fault, homework is usually required by school districts and when it comes to reading, as with anything, the more you do the better you get.
Have several reading options available at home.
I’m going to let know about how some teacher’s determine children’s reading level, how some score them and how you can help you child.

Here’s some quick mumbo jumbo…Many use what is called a running record to score reading accuracy. A simple way to explain it is: when a child is reading a book or passage, each word read correctly is a point. The words correct versus incorrect (there are also other factors, but for this purpose they are not relevant) are then calculated an accuracy score is obtained.
For the purpose of this post I am only referring to any little "decodable" books your child may bring home. When it comes to sounding out words and learning new sight words those are complete other lessons. 
My son started bringing home Decodable Readers from Reading Street (our districts reading program). They are short books designed for children to be able to read on their own, focusing on a phonics skill and using known sight words. He sat down to read it to me.

He read it fine, except for a few things that most people would overlook. I’m here to encourage you to NOT overlook them.

On this page my son added the word “the” into each sentence (adding a word that isn’t in the sentence counts against the child’s score). It didn’t change anything in the story, but it could determine whether or not his accuracy score allows him to move up a reading level.

He added "the" after the word can.

If he did the same on this page his score would not have been sufficient to go on to the next level.

When you child is reading to you and they make a mistake, (especially at a beginning reading level) correct him it’s how he will learn to self correct. Have him reread it correctly, even if he starts to hate you for it.

You may need to keep doing it and they may get annoyed (this could be why Maizie doesn’t want to read with me anymore), but in the end you will get better a better reader.

Keep those little books and have them reread them to you. This will help with fluency (the opposite of the dreaded “robot reading”). 

You don’t think twice about baseball, piano, soccer or dance practice; don’t forget reading practice.

Some other quick tips…
Ask your child’s teacher what you can do to help. I don’t know any teacher that doesn’t want to hear from a parent BEFORE there’s a problem. Establish contact as soon as possible.

Talk to your child. Ask what book the teacher read, what they did at recess, how was lunchtime. Ask anything to get them talking about his day.

Check online resources for an area your child is struggling in, there are several. (Many teachers give online suggestions as well.)

Check backpacks after school (not before you go to bed…like I frequently do).

Teachers dread getting certain parents as much as parents dread getting certain teachers (don't be THAT parent).

Make sure you have things for your child to read. Get a library card, get an e-reader, subscribe to children’s magazines or even read cereal boxes. If your child needs cleats, you get them don't you?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Avoid Sensory Overloads

Trying to keep my house and my kids organized has been a nightmare. When I met Carolyn Dalgliesh and found out about the book she was about to publish, The Sensory Child Gets Organized, I knew I had to have it. (I think she may have written it just for me.) Had she been talking to my neighbors about the constant ruckus in the Kraus house?

When I was teaching, I never knew what sort of students I was going to have year to year so my room was very organized (picture labels and everything). My house has never been that way, and my daughter and I both need it. I’m sure my husband will thank you.

Well, the book came out this week and you can help your sensory child as well.

The beginning of the book, like any trade book, is full of technical language. Carolyn does an excellent job helping you navigate through the alphabet soup that is the acronyms of sensory children. She also offers suggestions for you, the parent, on figuring out the best method, system or style is best for your child.

Carolyn is not just some yahoo who is spouting some theory, she lives it. She is a professional organizer and she has a sensory child. She developed this out of love and necessity.

Her book is not a “one size fits all” approach. She helps with the fundamentals so you can design the space around your child’s needs. Carolyn also tackles the dreaded homework dilemma and offers suggestions on conquering that beast of a task.

The suggestions and opportunities to reduce stress in your household go on and on. One of the best features I found in this book was the twenty pages of resources. Information on where to get materials, information and support are all in there.

I would recommend this book to any parent, not just parents of sensory children.

Thank you Carolyn, although my husband is not thrilled with the list of ideas I came with.

*Disclosure…I was given a copy of the book The Sensory Child Gets Organized to facilitate this review, but as always, the opinions are all my own.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Be Kind, Please Rewind

I was looking through the guide on the TV and flipped out when I saw the The Burbs was on. I immediately changed the channel and was watching it and my kids kept asking questions. My daughter asked, “Why do you keep shushing me?” To which I replied, “Because this is one of my favorite movies EVER!!”

That got me thinking about the movies I watches in the 80s over and over again. This was the time long before DVRs, when you went to the video rental STORE or you had to set the VCR. Back then, three movies could fit on one VHS tape (if you didn’t buy it), then had to find a way to store them. I made a list (an extensive list) and shocked myself, how did I have time to do anything else?
Santa had to bring extra storage
There are several more that I’ve watched, but not repeatedly.
If you ever roamed the aisles of Major Video, you will recognize the titles on my list.
In no particular order, movies that rotted my brain in the 80s (and I can still say the lines while it’s on)…

  1. The Burbs
  2. Raising Arizona
  3. Uncle Buck (My oldest is named after the little girl in the movie)
  4. Princess Bride
  5. Milo & Otis
  6. The Goonies
  7. A Christmas Story
  8. One Crazy Summer
  9. Better Off Dead
  10. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
  11. Weird Science
  12. Adventures in Babysitting
  13. Beetlejuice
  14. Weekend at Bernie’s
  15. Caddyshack
  16. Girl’s Just Want to Have Fun
  17. Heathers
  18. The Great Outdoors
  19. Harry and the Hendersons
  20. Lucas
  21. Major League
  22. The Money Pit
  23. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  24. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  25. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  26. Footloose
  27. Back to the Future
  28. Gremlins
  29. Planes, Trains and Automobiles
  30. Rocky III
  31. Night of the Comet
  32. Popeye
  33. Mommie Dearest
  34. Airplane II: The Sequel
  35. Clash of the Titans
  36. Tootsie
  37. Short Circuit
  38. Mannequin
  39. Some Kind of Wonderful
  40. Sleepaway Camp
  41. When Harry Met Sally
  42. Steel Magnolias
  43. Swamp Thing
  44. Commando
  45. The Lost Boys
  46. Police Academy
  47. About Last Night
  48. Back to School
  49. Max Dugan Returns
  50. Mr. Mom
  51. Overboard
  52. River’s Edge
  53. Wildcats
  54. Vacation
  55. European Vacation
  56. The Outsiders
  57. Peggy Sue Got Married
  58. Revenge of the Nerds
  59. Romancing the Stone
  60. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  61. Just One of the Guys
  62. Summer School
  63. Karate Kid
  64. Who’s That Girl
  65. Spaceballs
  66. Trading Places
  67. Can’t Buy Me Love
  68. Strange Brew
  69. Space Camp
  70. Pretty in Pink
  71. Grease 2
  72. The Breakfast Club
  73. St. Elmo’s Fire
  74. Spies Like Us
  75. Ghostbusters
  76. Die Hard
  77. Fletch
  78. Stand By Me
  79. Airplane
  80. The Empire Strikes Back
  81. Return of the Jedi
  82. Coming to America
  83. Beverly Hills Cop
  84. Clue
  85. Mask
  86. Poltergeist
  87. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
  88. The Golden Child

Some of these are questionable and I think back and wonder, “What was I thinking?”

There is another list of movies that I have never seen front to back (Scarface being one of them) but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the entire movies.