Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Easy activities to help your child retain information

Many parents have asked me what they can do to help their preschool or kindergarten child retain as much as possible throughout the summer.  Listed below are many different ways that you can help your child continue their learning.

      Play memory with uppercase and/or lowercase letters.
      Pick a letter each day.  Have your child find 5-10 objects that begin with its sound.
      Practice writing first (and last, if applicable) name at least 3 times a week.
      Color 3 times a week, encouraging them to stay in the lines.
      Keep a journal of summer events by having them draw a picture and you write the words (or help them write the words, if applicable).
      Ride in the car and find letters on signs.
      Give them a grocery list of items that start with different letters.  Make them find the item and cross it off.
      Practice writing letters and numbers at least 2 times a week.
      Read every day.
      Review shapes weekly.
      Count to 10, 20, 30, 50 and 100 weekly.
      Use flashcards to numbers and letters.  Make them tell you the sounds.
      Make a letter book and cut out pictures that begin with each letter.

Parents can also check out this video to gain important information on how to help their child with reading.

Organize your life!

Are you struggling with organizing your schedule?  Not sure when your dentist appointment is, or parent teacher conferences are?  Maybe you missed that important meeting at work, or showed up a week early to a 4-H meeting?

If this sounds like you, then you know how much stress this places on your life.  You know the feeling that you get when you think you are missing something and can't quite place your finger on it.  You know how silly you felt when you showed up on the wrong day for a meeting.  And you know the worry and disappointment in yourself that you felt because you missed that very important meeting at work.

Let's change those feelings.  Let's try to find something that works for you to get organized in your life.

There are so many different systems out there for organizing your life- paper calendars, digital, family command centers, post it note systems (although those might not be effective :) ), dry erase calendars and more.  Finding what works right for you and your family is the first step.

Now, I can't promise you that the first thing you choose will be the best or what works.  From personal experience, I have always used a calendar that I carry in my purse, but I have tweeked my system many times, and I think I finally have what works for my family.

I like a calendar that I carry in my purse so that I can always access it.  There are many different styles of calendars.  You can get a small monthly calendar, a weekly calendar or a small binder calendar.  This is what my calendar looks like:

I'm sure that you notice all the different colors.  I like color.  It stands out.  It makes me take notice of what is on the page.  This works for me.  It might not work for you.  Maybe all of your children have different first letters of their names (unlike mine, which all start with J).  If so, maybe it works for you to write the first letter of their name with the activity.  Maybe you prefer to write out their whole name.  You will need to decide.

Don't want to carry a bulky calendar in your purse?  Well there are many apps for smartphones that you can download and use.  Visit your Google Play Store or Apple Store to find an app that you like.  The app doesn't need to cost money either.

One app you can check out is Cozi Family Organizer on the Google Play Store.  It is free with a paid option.  The nice thing about the Cozi Calendar is that you can sync it with other adults in your household, access it from a computer, and get weekly/daily emails about your activities scheduled for the week.

Another way to get organized is a family command center.  This would be in one spot in your house where everyone can see it.  Keep your calendar, pens, schedules, and important papers all in one spot.  This can also be tailored to what works for you.  Pinterest has many different pictures of various command centers.  You don't have to have a Pinterest account to search, only to pin (or save) the pictures.

Here is a picture of my family command center.

Currently, I have it hung on two bulletin boards on my door to the garage.  We use this door daily and it is right in view for everyone to see.  I copy the events from my personal calendar that I carry in my purse (which is the main calendar that I use), plus I keep all of the kids important papers for school hanging there- field trip slips, school calendars, newsletters, book it forms, etc.

Just remember that not one thing may work for you.  You may need a trial and error period to find what you are most comfortable with.  It may be a combination of systems, or it may be one system.

Whatever you decide to use, remember the goal is to get organized and not forgot those important school papers, doctors appointments or deadlines for work.

Good luck and let's get organized!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Organizing your home for free or cheap!

We all have clutter.  We all have mess.  Some families have more than others.  I am all for organization, especially when it comes free or cheap.

Any search on Yahoo, Google or Pinterest will show you hundreds of ways to organize your home.  But many of those ways require you to buy items that are expensive, or make something out of wood (which requires you to be handy!) to get that perfect look.

The Teacher's Wife shares 13 Simple DIY Home Organization Hacks to help you get your home organized.  My favorite is the ziploc bags for all of those pesky cords we own...cell phones, Kindles, LeapPads, iPods, tablets, cameras, etc.

sheknows gives you 15 Ridiculously simple life hacks to organize your home.  A couple of them are similar to ones on The Teacher's Wife, but I love the CD rack for organizing your tupperware lids!

The Mom Writes lists 30 ways to organize your home.  Some very good ideas, but there are no pictures included if you need a visual.

Another good site to visit is DIY Cozy Home.  They share 33 Genius DIY Organization Hacks.  Some of them look like they could be costly, so be prepared to either come up with your own version, or spend the money to purchase the items.

A word of advice, we all need to de-clutter before and while we are organizing our home also!