Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tips for Organizing Your Student

Helping your child develop good organizational skills can maximize his or her success in school and better equip your student for the middle and high school years. When my youngest was in fourth grade, he had an issue with losing paperwork and missing due dates on assignments. While he was and is a bright young man, he found this frustrating and it impacted his school performance and self-esteem. Here are a few tips we used that can help your student better track and complete assignments, study for tests and accomplish projects at school and home:

Form Good Habits - Once everyone has relaxed after school, help your student get the ball rolling by reviewing the day and creating a plan for what needs to be done.
* Check the Planner and Communications Folder – Sit down with your young student and discuss what school work needs doing for the evening. His or her planner and any communications folders contain assignments and important notes and letters from the teachers. If he or she is not using the planner regularly, encourage its use and discuss how it can help in future years when the assignments will be more frequent and challenging.
* Plan the Evening Together – If age-appropriate, work together to set daily and weekly goals for getting the work done, taking into account any family plans. This gives your student a sense of “ownership” for the plan, knowledge of what will happen each evening and a sense of pride when the work is done.

Ask Good Questions – When planning, studying or working on homework, ask your student great questions that will help him or her think of a solution to an issue and encourage independent thinking. If, for example, your student tends to misplace completed assignments, try asking, “What one or two places can you think of for safely keeping this assignment?” In this case, your student might suggest a folder, binder or backpack.

Design a Few Simple Rules – Watch the flow of a typical evening to identify “bumpy” areas that could benefit from a rule. When a few rules are in place and consistently enforced, you and your child will find the evenings less stressful. Examples of good rules might be “Your homework isn’t finished until it is loaded in the backpack" and “Homework gets done before the electronics goes on”.

Designate an area for each student’s school items - A cubby with a basket could hold books, graded papers, a backpack and any other school-related items. Everything can go back in the cubby at the end of the homework period. Now your student knows right where to look to find his or her school things the next morning!

These tips can help in smoothing the flow of weekday evenings. As your student grows, encourage him or her to do more of this independently. In my household, my middle and high school sons apply most of these ideas with great success. Good task management skills are vital to any busy person and will help your child not only in the growing up years but throughout his or her adult life.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Coming up for air

We've just finished getting my kiddos back in school. The summer was fast and wonderful and we wished somehow we could add another couple of weeks to it.

The first week of school went well. My kids are older now, so they can take the lead on gathering school supplies (once I've bought them) and loading them into binders and backpacks. Thankfully, each day of that important first week, each of my sons had something funny or positive to share. We wrapped up the week as a family with a special meal and had fun playing board games. Watching for opportunities to mark the start and end of events - like the end of a great summer or the successful start of a new year - brings us closer as a family and helps us celebrate life.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Video to make your day

This video just made my day. It's amazing what people can now do with video graphics.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thinking “Outside the Box”

by Life Coach Janet Bonnin
Fine-Tuned Families

When he was a toddler, one of my nephews came up with a unique solution to a perceived problem. His kitten seemed in need of some milk one day. My nephew opened the refrigerator and peered up at the milk carton which was well out of reach on the top shelf. Pausing a moment to think, he decided since the milk couldn’t come to the cat, then the cat should go to the milk. He promptly picked the kitten up, placed it in the refrigerator and closed the door, thinking the kitten could help himself to the milk. Mom later entered the kitchen and heard a racket coming from the refrigerator. When she opened the door, the kitten screamed out, leaving behind cat hair in everything imaginable.

While that solution may not have achieved the desired result, this was a unique way to address a problem. We can learn to think outside the box by taking a moment to mentally run through several options before making a difficult decision. For example, when we feel time constrains us from volunteering for a beloved charity, we might instead offer to serve as a volunteer recruiter prior to the event, give a cash donation, or resolve to help the next time we are needed.

Seek out creative solutions to your next challenge! You may find the perfect solution is just a moment’s thought away.

What are some creative ways you've thought "outside the box"?

Are We Having Fun Yet?

By Life Coach Janet Bonnin
Fine-Tuned Families

Pool parties, trips to the zoo, playing in the sprinkler, having friends over - the summer is in full swing! But the summer can fly by. In the blink of an eye, school will be here. How can you make sure everyone has done some favorite things before summer slips by? Have the family dream up a Summer Fun List! It is fun and easy to do.

Pre-planning: To build anticipation, tell every family member to think of some activities he or she would love to do and come ready to share. Have a family meeting: Fix some favorite snacks, grab some comfortable seats and start visiting.

Brainstorm away: Start the brainstorming! Have someone capture the ideas on paper as they come. Everyone gets to share! Be sure to post the list where all can see it and mark the items as you do them. This helps you keep the fun coming and reminds the kids of the great things they are doing.

Add or improve habits: While everyone is gathered, this is also a great time to mention a few new habits for each kid to work on. Short and simple is best. Last year, for example, I set four goals for my older sons – regular exercise, eat more fruits and veggies, use your good manners, and express gratitude. With the summer weeks to work on it, we had some better habits to take back to school!

Summer fun can be really simple. My sons usually want a fair amount of time to hang out, play games, read, and play electronics. They also enjoy inviting friends over and swimming in the lake near our house. This unstructured time is important for kids to help them relax from the rigors of the school year and to discover and pursue new interests and hobbies.

Along with the simpler pleasures, we love taking day trips into San Antonio. When the boys were younger, we visited the zoo and the children's museum. As they grew, we graduated to trips to the movies, art, history and science museums, local theme parks and other attractions.

Add in a family vacation or two, a camp or two, and you've got the recipe for a great summer! Don’t worry about having too much on your list! Your Summer Fun List may be extensive. Rotate through everyone's favorite ideas to keep anyone from feeling left out. It's okay to end the summer with items still on the list. That leaves ideas for the months ahead.

Our family started the tradition of the Summer Fun List several years ago. The boys look forward to planning the summer together. We've enjoyed great family fun every year since. Why not start your tradition today!

Janet Bonnin is a life coach, Industrial Engineer and mother of three. She works with busy parents to strengthen family teamwork, parent more effectively, de-stress, and get more done with less effort at work and at home.