Friday, December 16, 2016

Mindful Gift Giving

By Guest Blogger Angela Woodrow

Wow, it is the middle of December already! And we are all just as busy as ever.  It seems to be that ‘busy’ is the new ‘normal’. That is why I love the "Rule of 4" as a way to model mindful gift giving for parents. The "Rule of 4" is easy to remember: 1 book, 1 item of clothing, one of something they want and one of something they need.
It is a simple concept that has been around for a while. I use the "Rule of 4" to help my larger family participate and help me as a parent model mindful gift giving. You can modify and adjust as you like…. you are smart and clever. This is for inspiration and motivation to continue to do the good you are doing!
Here are 2 easy steps to help you grasp how I use this rule in my family:

Step one:
You can talk with your children about the list and what it means to receive a gift from someone and also to help understand that just because it is on the list does not always mean that it will appear on the day. Over the years I have learned to have my children put two or three from each category on the list so that they learn to be happy with the gift they receive, even if it is not exactly what they were ‘dreaming of’.
Step two:
Of course, set a budget. That is very mindful.
In my family we are pretty darn good at making a list and sharing it. So, we use the rule of 4 for the larger family. It helps everyone feel like they have an opportunity to acknowledge each other without breaking the budget or each child ending up with their own complete toy store. One or two toys are enough. Beside, where to store it all after it has been unwrapped becomes a bigger issue at my house!
With technology we are able to post this gift list online and when a purchase is made we can see that the item has been purchased, but not by whom.  This  is nice for the element of delight and surprise—thank you Elfster (!  Knowing the gift has been purchased helps the person working the budget.
An aside: As a family, we work hard to communicate what works and what does not. This is a process that has evolved with the various ages and stages of my family. It takes time…and it is worth it to ask others to help you in the process of practicing mindful gift giving. (And if the truth is to be told, most are relieved to be able to ‘keep it simple’).
What to do about Santa:  We are big believers in the “Spirit of Santa”.  Over the years, ‘Santa’ has shifted from individual gifts for each child to delivering a family gift at our house and it usually covers almost everyone’s ‘want’ category pretty well.
Wishing you joy and peace as you navigate the next few weeks. May you and yours find time to just sit still and share time with each other. For sharing time together is one of the most precious gifts of all.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Give A Parent You Love (Even Yourself) This Mindful Gift!

In this season of gift giving, sometimes the best gift for busy parents is the gift of time and real support to solve a pressing issue. Most don’t ask, but the gift of time and support to be able to focus on key issues and concerns is on the top of everyone’s list. Everyone needs encouragement and help. Parent Coach Janet Bonnin offers the DASH Coaching process to help busy parents connect and fine-tune their parenting skills. "Parent smarter not harder" is the goal for the DASH Coaching session.

Do you, or do you know of parents who could use some encouragement and support in helping their family flourish? Gifting this coaching package is a way to encourage and support parents you know, love and care about.  “Parent Smarter using the DASH model” -- a simple format to help parents navigate ‘mindful parenting in the middle of it all’ using the coach approach. Choose 1 topic that you really want help on, purchase the package, and Janet will help you work through it! This powerful package includes a Snapshot Assessment identifying where you are, the Map you design to move forward, 2 -45-minute Video Coaching sessions to help you get there, and, as a bonus, the Fine-Tuned Family Cycle tool! Click Here to order this mindful and most helpful gift for busy parents!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Important Tips to Help Your Kids Learn about the Election and Its Aftermath

Like many of you, my heart is heavy as we watch the upheaval this election has brought to our nation.  Now is the time to help our kids, those who are aware of what is happening, deal with any anxiety and learn from the historical events in play.  After all, they will be choosing our leaders in a few short years. Let’s look at several points to help overcome heightened emotions and to help us think through complex issues.

Find a quiet time and place to look at what is happening with your children, if they are interested in doing so.  Remind them that you will keep them safe.  Remember your thoughts and emotions are a big influence on your kids.   If your emotions are running high, try to let them abate a bit before talking, so your reasoning can come through.

Emphasize the Head AND the Heart.  While it is normal to get upset at election results that didn’t go your way, or protests that turn violent, now is a good time to also look at what we can learn from the entire electoral process and our political system.  This is a great time to learn about things like our current election process, the Electoral College, and how the transition from one administration to another will work, using reliable sources.  Here is an article that suggests some questions and responses for discussion:

Show them to take what they view in perspective.  Sound bites and headlines can be alarming and often are meant to heighten your emotions.  This “sky is falling” mentality from many biased members of the press is apparently what sells.  If one article or story is particularly alarming, looking at another trusted source or two can help downplay any sensationalism.

Be mindful of the type and amount of news content you and your family consumes.  Young minds soak up what they see and hear and can have trouble keeping things in perspective.  Make time to discuss what you choose to view to help with that perspective.  Look for any positives in what you are seeing.  And make “screen free” time to decompress and get life back to normal.

Ask your wise elders what they think.  They’ve seen many close elections and a fair share of unrest.  They also have seen how we often come out the other side just fine or having learned a few tough lessons.  Have them tell stories of previous memorable elections.  They’ve seen improvements in our society that we may not recognize and can also discuss changes they feel are needed. 

Seek to understand other points of view.  Our beautiful, complex society is made of many people of different races, religions, origins, and economic levels.  We are not a “one belief fits all” nor a "we all have the same struggles" society any more than “one size fits all” works for all body types. Seeking to understand why other people think like they do leads to a greater empathy and understanding for all.  The ability to identify what we agree on gives us a place from which to discover ways to better our great nation.

Look to your spiritual practices and beliefs.  Prayer, meditation, spiritual readings, and more all help us bring our minds and hearts to a higher level.  What aspects of spirituality help you get past negative emotions and learn and grow as a person?
And finally….

Seek help if you need it.  If you find yourself particularly distraught and have trouble moving back to “life as normal”, seek the support of a coach, counselor or minister.  Remember your struggles can impact your kids.  We are passionate about helping folks like you learn to move past troubling issues.

I believe in our great nation and the people that live in it.  The family – your family – is going to help bring us to an even better future.  Let’s get started by embracing what works and identifying creative ways to address what needs changing!   Join our community at  and through our Social Media links in the website.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

3 Important and Easy Ways to Foster Gratitude in Your Family

By Guest Blogger Angela Woodrow:

It is November….  a month to give pause and reflect on gratitude and gratefulness.

The dictionary defines the adjective ‘grateful’ as, “…feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful”.
The dictionary defines the noun ‘gratitude’ as, “…the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”.

Practicing Gratitude and Gratefulness is an art and science. These are terms that get tossed around a lot. Fine-Tuned Families strives to give you useful tools and tips to help you parent smarter. So let’s break this down to thoughtful, useful nuggets to chew on:

The art is the practicing of the attribute; infusing it daily in to our lives meaningfully - not by automation.  The science is to know and recognize the action and to apply the action with thoughtful intention.

That is the theory behind how to Parent Smarter and live life by your design.  In our hearts and minds, we want our families to know and show gratitude. We want our families to be able to recognize and practice gratefulness.

Cultivating Gratefulness and Gratitude is a daily practice that, if forgotten or left to ‘automation’, grows weak or even worse, disappears.
Could you and your family increase your awareness and practice of gratitude and gratefulness this month? Think about this:  It only takes 3 weeks to make a new habit.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all ‘upped’ our gratitude quotient and began the New Year with a higher level of ‘gratitude competency’?
Here are three simple ways to increase your meaningful and intentional gratitude/gratefulness practice this month.  May it be a practice that continues with you and your family throughout the years to come!

1. Say ‘Thank You’…in complete sentences.
This is an important skill and element to ensure the practice is not an ‘empty habit’.
“Thank you for opening the door for me.”
“Thank you for bringing me my backpack, Mom.”
“Mark- thank you for picking up the extra ingredients at the grocery store today.”

Ask you family to make the effort to say ‘Thank you’ in complete sentences…watch and listen for the difference it makes.

2. Have a ‘Do Good Day’.
Target chores around the house the kids can earn money doing. The money they earn on that day goes to ‘sharing something with others’ - donating earned money to a food bank or homeless shelter or to another local community nonprofit.  Is money tight right now?  It does not have to be big or grandiose…the ‘Do Good Day‘ is meant to be sincere. Why not clean up and clear out the toys and books your kids have out grown and donate them to the local homeless shelter?

3. List out 5 things you appreciate or are grateful for each day.
The list can build on a sheet of paper taped to the wall. If you have one of those chalkboard walls allow your artists to record and decorate! Some families keep a gratitude journal. If life is really pulling you in 50 directions, post it notes made in the car that can be posted where all the family wash hands or hang coats is a great way to get started acknowledging your gratefulness!

Happy November, Happy Thanksgiving!  We wish you a Happy Fine-Tuned Family Journey!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

DASH Coaching Can Get You "There"!

Yogi Berra once said, “If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else”.
Are you headed in the right direction? When you call for Uber, your driver should always know how to quickly get you to your destination.
How do you get from ‘here to there’?
A plan helps you know where you are going. A plan can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be. A plan motivates, inspires and gives you a sense of direction.
If you have a goal, then you need a plan to help you map out the best route for making the goal a reality. Sounds simple...and yet so many people struggle to move to action on this.
Statistics show people who write down their goals have over an 80% higher success rate of achieving them.Dollarphotoclub_60865498-800.jpg
Goals are to plans like compasses are to maps.
Goals are the destination, plans are the maps and compasses.
These are the tools to steer you in the right direction.
The Uber driver uses a map to plan the best way to get you to your destination. You too can use use a map to plan the best way to reach your goal. Your driver usually uses an app or a route plan. You can use a coach.

When you work with a coach you have
  • Structure: With a coach, a client takes more actions, thinks bigger and gets more done, due to the context of support and encouragement for addressing goals and taking action.
  • Expertise: A coach has skills and tools to assist the client in making better choices and decisions, setting clearer goals, and restructuring their professional and personal lives for maximum productivity and fulfillment.   
  • Synergy: The client and coach become a team, focusing on the client’s goals and needs, and accomplishing more than the client would alone.  Accountability is a big part of this synergy -- the unique relationship between client and coach lends itself to a system of progress checks, which promotes big results!

DASH Coaching with Parent and Relationship Coach Janet Bonnin, allows you to focus on one thing. This powerful coaching process allows you to get clear on what is holding you back, identify the steps needed to resolve issues, and find the support to take action. 

Like the Uber driver uses a map or an app to take you to one place, DASH Coaching will allow you to define one focus area and make a plan that will help you head in the right direction.

So, where are you headed in the next 30 days?
Are you headed in a direction that will allow you to accomplish your goals?
Do you have a plan?
Do you need to call a coach?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Shifting Your Mindset Using the "Picture, Mirror, Window" Exercise

As a Parent Coach, I love sharing tools with you that help you “parent smarter”.  Today, my friend and associate, Angela Woodrow explores a concept that helps many in the process of looking at a current situation with a new eyes. When you can see things differently, you can have a different outcome.
Angela shares, “Start with a picture, a vision how you would like  things in your family to really be. Call it the ‘new reality’.  It can be anything you desire, dream, know you need. It can be how you hope your children to be as adults, or how you hope you and your children survive these next 90 days….You get the idea. Start somewhere. Create a picture.”
“The picture shifts to a mirror we see ourselves in. If it is a picture of how we would like to be in the next 90 days, look into that mirror and see…are those smiling face authentic or are theses faces showing smiles that are strained because you are ‘forcing fun’ or tolerating something that you think should be done but is NOT what everyone wants. Granted, not every minute of a year is fun and carefree, but every minute of everyday we have a choice of how our heart feels and our mind thinks. This is the value of looking at the picture and seeing into it as a mirror. We as a culture love to click a photo ‘in an instant’. When we do this ‘clicking in an instant’ we actually lose the ability to enjoy and participate in the moment. There are studies that show how much we miss when we are too busy ‘clicking in an instant’ (”
“When we are using the picture as a mirror, we are able to evaluate our actions, thoughts, feeling, and reframe or sharpen the actions thoughts and beliefs in the picture so that our picture and our current reality continually strive to be connected. This is THE most important part of our process as family: to KNOW and FEEL like we BELONG. And to BELONG is not ‘just’ FITTING IN’.  (a very important distinction for another conversation….). When we belong to a family we work together to continue to grow mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically. Reflection with the picture as a  mirror becomes a valuable tool to help us shift our thoughts and hearts over to our picture becoming what we see in our lives. This is when the mirror shifts to a window. With these new and or reframed/refreshed thoughts/ habits/ beliefs we can see out into our world with new perspective, energy, and approach. We use our new /reframed way of viewing and seeing things to create a larger understanding of where we are in the world as well as where we are in our spiritual and emotional journey called life.”
“There are different seasons to everything…and as a new season approaches out our window, the picture will change. The picture is our current reality and or new vision we have for our family. The picture then becomes a mirror and after reflection and adjustment, the mirror becomes a window  and the circle of life continues.”

These thoughts are reflections from various readings:
Mike and Sally Breen, Family on a Mission, 3DM Publishing, 2014
Brene Brown, Daring Greatly, Avery/ Penguin Publishing, 2012
Linda A. Henkel,Psychological Science, February 2014; vol. 25, 2: pp. 396-402., first published on December 5, 2013

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Mindful Parents Care For The Forest AND The Trees

by Guest Blogger Angela Woodrow
While watching a movie the other night I observed two very strong and determined men in charge of ‘saving the world’ discuss and reflect on what is important in life while they tried to catch their breath before the next onslaught of mayhem.
The two men were at different stages of their family life - one the father of a teenager and one with his first child on the way.
I will paraphrase the exchange:
The Father of the teenager:  “...Make sure they know you love them, that they know they belong to your family, that you are proud of them and help them find one thing they are passionate about in order to contribute and be productive in this world….”
Father to be:  (Incredulously): “That’s it? That is all you have to do?…What about electrical outlet covers, car seats,  safe, secure surroundings, good schools and enough money to  go to college….”
The Father of the teenager: (laughs) “Oh, yeah there’s that, but those things take care of themselves. The love, belonging and supporting them in finding their passion-- that is what you need to keep track of.”
It seems so easy…and yet it seems everyday is a challenge. For it is the forest (the love support, encouragement, helping them discover their passion, etc.) that helps a child grow into a confidant and functioning adult that will contribute to the community.  And for the forest to be healthy and vibrant, we do have to watch for, care for, and keep track of each individual tree (the car seats, the swim lessons, the extra tutoring, the tooth fairy for the 4th time… the special diet, etc.) in order for the whole forest to thrive.
Mindful Parenting is not a job for the faint of heart…it is a macro AND a micro process.
No one said it was going to be easy, but the journey is definitely worth it. And it is true what they say: Busy Families CAN Flourish - just like the trees in a well taken care of forest.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Teacher Talk Series: The Elementary Years - 4 Ideas To Help Students Succeed This Year

The "Wise Parents, Wise Kids" video chat between Janet Bonnin, Angela Woodrow and guest Karen Aitken, Veteran Elementary School Teacher, was really fun and filled with ideas!  You can see that by going here:

If you'd rather read about it, here are some highlights:

FTF:  As a fantastic veteran teacher, please share some ideas to help students become successful learners.
Karen Aitken:
1         Teach problem solving.  Being brilliant doesn’t mean you have memorized everything.  Instead, I emphasize how to use resources, such as notes they’ve taken, to find the answers.  It is not what you do for kids that make them successful; it is what you’ve trained them to do for themselves.
2        Practice organizational skills.  Create habits of self-awareness and self-sufficiency. Put some structure in the classroom (or home) of where things go – completed assignments, backpacks, etc.  The more organized a child is, the less stress a child feels, especially when time is tight.  The homework is not done until it is in your folder which is in your backpack.
3         Learn to be an Active Listener.  Help children create Active Listening habits by periodically checking in to ask what they have heard in their own words.  With encouragement and practice, kids can become an Active Listener, which is important to great communication. 
4         Take ownership of yourself.  Students are often used to someone doing things for them.  Instead, encourage them to show responsibility for their tasks, like getting homework done, without prompting. Being responsible for choices, actions and emotions at this young age are building blocks for success and confidence as they grow.  “Reader’s Theater Work Ethic Kits” help kids learn real life examples of grownups who don’t have good habits.

Resources for Parents and Teachers:

Parent Tip:  Create a place at home where your child keeps their backpack, jacket, lunchbox, shoes, etc.  This can help them learn to be organized by having a routine, and relieve the anxiety of panicking while looking for these items when they are trying to get ready for school.

Remember, parents and teachers are the significant adults in children’s lives.  When we have the expectation and verbalize that a child will be successful, the child rises to that level.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Create Family Fun and a New Tradition - Start a "YES Day!"

 Fine Tuned Family: "Wise Parents, Wise Kids" Conversation with Sarah Markowski, MOPS Mentor, and Speaker

Sarah is an Air Force spouse and mom of 5 kids.  She prefers converse tennis shoes to high heels, and gets through everyday with a whole lot of Jesus and a little bit of coffee.  Sarah loves all things food-network, considers chocolate to be medicinal, and works out daily so she can keep up with her kids.  Her heartbeat is connecting with people, and if she has any free time, she loves to write on her blog and read.  Sarah lives each day “looking for the glitter” even if life gets a little gloomy because as every mom knows, even if you just have a little glitter it seems to get EVERYWHERE!

The "Wise Parents, Wise Kids" video chat between Janet Bonnin, Angela Woodrow and guest Sarah Markowski was really fun and filled with ideas!  You can see that by going here:

If you'd rather read about it, here are some highlights:

FTF: What is "YES Day"?

SM: YES! Day is a concept I borrowed from a children’s book of the same name. It’s a day that allows your children to ask for the (sometimes crazy) things that don’t fit into a regular “schedule” and gives you the chance to say YES!

FTF: Why did you decide to do a "YES Day"?

SM:I decided to do YES! Day because as a mom, I was feeling burdened by the amount of correction, redirection, and “no” that seemed to dominate my parenting journey.  I wanted my kids to feel the positive reinforcement of receiving permission, and I wanted to feel the empowerment that comes with giving permission.

FTF: What should parents do in order to have a successful "YES Day"?

SM: To prepare for YES! Day, I had to think three steps ahead of my kids.  I did write a few ground rules to prevent the day from spiraling out of control, and I started the day by presenting those so that we wouldn’t have confusion or conflict during the actual day.  As a parent, you have to think about what you are comfortable with and what your budget allows.  For instance, one of our rules was that the kids could not ask to do things that jeopardized their (or anyone else’s) safety.  I also had a rule that gave them each a $10 spending limit for the day (outside of food).  I was fine if they wanted to go out to eat three times that day, but I did not want to spend $500 on a clothing-shopping spree.

FTF: What was a favorite memory/moment from your "YES Day" experience?

SM: My favorite moment was at the very end of the day.  My oldest (about 14 at the time) had asked for NOTHING all day long.  By lunchtime I was suspicious.  Just as we were heading to bed, he said, “Mom, can I get a Facebook account?”  I was stunned.  His request did not break any of my ground rules.  He was crafty and clever.  I thought for a minute trying to figure out how I was going to get around this one.  I finally just said YES! But, in the morning we’ll talk about the guidelines that will come with that privilege!  I loved being able to reward his patience and creativity with a YES!
FTF: Would you do a "YES Day" again?

SM: We have done a YES! Day every year since that first one.  I usually surprise the kids on a day that is out of the blue when I feel like we could all use a little more fun and joy in our lives!
You can find the ‘Yes Day’ book here:

Other ‘Yes! Day’ resources:
People reading ‘Yes! Day’ book:

A variation on ‘Yes! Day’

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Wise Parent Wise Kid Summer Series conversation: Geocaching

The Wise Parent Wise Kid Summer Series conversation: Geocaching
We had the fun pleasure of connecting and chatting with these two. A nurse practitioner and her daughter, a 2-grade teacher, who love to go geocaching. It is a great low – no cost way to get outside, explore your local area or a new area and discover treasure!

Geocaching actually is the ‘21st century’ treasure hunting experience based on Letter-boxing, a tried and true and ‘very un-techy’ activity created in 1854 in England!
MH: Hi I’m Maureen Havrilla
FTF: Share a few fun facts about yourself so we can get to know you:
MH:  Wife, Mother, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Runner.  I love to travel and camp, and love all things Disney.
Passion:  Kids!
Favorite Foods: Food! And chocolate – it’s a food group! And coffee.  And chocolate and coffee together
Favorite thing to do to take a break: read, take a run, crochet – and always travel!
Favorite Quote/ Quip: “Venture outside your comfort zone.  The rewards are worth it.” -Rapunzel, Tangled
I am most proud of: my kids, they have become fabulous adults
I wish I could: travel more!

CH: And I am Casey Havrilla
FTF: Share a few fun facts about yourself so we can get to know you:
CH: I am a teacher of second graders, a Native Texan, and a huge hockey fan.
Passion:  Teaching our future generation a love of learning.
Favorite Foods: baked potatoes, crème brulee, and anything that involves a caprese salad
Favorite thing to do to take a break: cooking/baking, reading
Favorite Quote/ Quip: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.  -Wayne Gretzy
I am most proud of: all of my students
I wish I could: multitask and be in more than one place at the same time

Casey and Maureen: a real world treasure hunt! It’s a great way to get out with your family and friends and experience something new.  It’s the thrill of the hunt and the feeling of excitement when you find the cache – big or small!
FTF: How did you get started:
Casey: My best friend got me started
Maureen: Casey! And I have since shared with cousins and friends!
FTF: How can a family get started with geocaching?
Casey: Download a Geocache app, I use the official Geocaching app. I can get badges for collecting different states.
Maureen: I have a different app, but they all show about the same thing. Mine was free, but some have small charges.   
FTF: What are some of your best tips for geocaching for families?
Casey: Don’t give up, keep looking.
Maureen: whenever you travel, look for available caches – makes traveling interesting and fun
FTF: What is a good age to start geocaching?
Casey: if they can walk and talk independently, they should be able to understand with a parent’s help.
Maureen: I have shared with two friends with kids, one had a 9 year old daughter who loved it, and one had a three boys, the oldest two were 4 and 8 and they had fun.  Walking is a big part, so at least able to hike a little.
FTF: So far, what has been your ‘favorite find’?
Casey: The one in Central Park
Maureen: The one we have yet to find at Inks Lake – still looking!
FTF: Have you found any caches outside of Texas:
Casey and Maureen: Yes! That is what makes it fun, we check where ever we travel, even on the way to the grocery store!

Fun Facts: where did Geocaching come from?
Letter Boxing– 1854 UK
Geocaching—2000, OR
ConQuest–2004, B.U.G: use your camera phone to capture code hidden around your city
Plundr– 2007, Dartmouth College dorm room, WIFI hotspots are contested islands to ‘capture’
Pokémon GO!–2016, Nintendo: Hunt and collect
Geocaching was started in May of 2000. It started in Beaverton OR.
As GPS became more accessible and and accurate for everyone the process adapted from Letter boxing was started

How to start Geocaching:
You need to set up a user account on a
geocaching website. A good site to use is
What do you pack?

Today’ Resources:
A video:

Friday, July 29, 2016

Do This To Inspire a Love of Reading in Your Kids!

As part of the continuing “Wise Parents, Wise Kids” Summer Series, I enjoyed learning about the many new ways families can plug into today's public libraries.  My guest Rachael Barrera, Children’s Librarian at the Brook Hollow Public Library in San Antonio, Texas and a fellow parent.

I've got to tell you, the video conversation is really fun and inspirational!  You can see that by going here:

If you'd rather read, here are some highlights:

Fine-Tuned Families: What are some things a family can do at the library these days?

Response:  The library offers a number of programs for children of all ages and their families.  Play and Learn programs are for children 5 and under to interact with their caregiver. We have five early literacy practices: Reading, Talking, Singing, Writing, and Playing.  Little Read Wagon, our Early Literacy Team, offers these programs around the city all year long.  Story Times for Preschoolers, Baby Time, and Toddler Time suit every age of early childhood and support development.  Tween Time in libraries support the child who is 9-12 years, a group that often gets overlooked in libraries.  Kids Time also supports the learning and literacy of school age children. Discovery Time encourages learning early math and science skills. Summer Reading Programs encourage the love of independent reading at home.

FTF:  How can these great offerings help parents foster a love of reading in their kids?

Response:  Libraries of today create a joyful connection between the child, reading and learning.  Examples are neat art projects, group reading programs, individual reading challenges, and family activities.  Whatever brings joy to that particular child helps him or her love reading and learning.

FTF:  What are some of your best tips for parents of different-aged readers?

Response:  WORD!  The more words your child hears before kindergarten the greater his future academic success. Let your child pick the books he or she wants to read. Don’t get hung up on “reading level” (unless working toward closing an educational gap.)  When a child likes the stuff she reads, the more she will read, the more she comprehends what she reads, the easier it becomes to read, and so on. Don’t give up picture books too soon, they actually help a child’s comprehension like chapter books can’t. That firm foundation will help in years to come. For older tweens and teens, access to a free, vast supply of books is a gift and inspires more “book time” and less “screen time”.

Resources: – The main website for the San Antonio Public Library system. - The Brook Hollow Library’s location and phone numbers.   - A great example of one of many online sources to encourage a love of reading in our kids.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

AMP Up Your Summer Fun and Learning!

Our Wise Parents, Wise Kids series is all about getting more out of the summer.  Last week, we had an idea-filled conversation with Dottie Miller, Teacher and Mom, and Angela Woodrow, Parent Advocate and Mom.  We discussed ways to easily and enjoyably turn our kids “Brain Drain” into “Brain Gain”.  We shared a lot of great ideas, so listen in on the recording:
The good thing about summer is that it is a break from the regular ‘grind’. The tricky part is to create a structure for the family that allows for relaxing and easy organizing of fun and engaging activities.

Here are my thoughts for inviting the whole family to get the most out of summer:

Grab a cool snack and call a family brainstorming meeting. Invite each person to share an idea or two he or she would still like to do in the days ahead . Discuss and jot down the best ideas and post them somewhere visible. As you do each one, be sure to check them off and see what else remains.
Towards the end of that meeting, you might also mention a few things you'd love to get done. The kids have probably outgrown clothes and may be ready to let go of some toys. Purging and reorganizing those items will get their rooms in better shape. Are there other projects inside the house or out in the yard you'd like to do?
Kids like to have a say in planning family fun. They appreciate having everyone listen to their ideas. Kids also like to know what family projects are coming up. Having a few days notice gives any "reluctant" helpers time to adjust to the idea of contributing. 

Watch for more great ways to engage your kids and enjoy your summer in upcoming Wise Parents, Wise Kids conversations, including:
- A great summer resource that is free and fun: today's public library 
- "Yes" Day!  How one MOPS Mentor makes a summer day fun full of adventure 
- Geocaching-- a great way to explore your area on foot and introduce and refine your seek and search skills...what kid doesn't want to be on a treasure hunt? NOTE: this version is not POKEMON.

Share with me your thoughts and ideas for a great summer by tweeting +Janet Bonnin