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Archive for August, 2013

6 Ways to Turn Your Kids Into Avid Readers

Monday, August 26th, 2013

All parents want their children to be a good readers, but it can be tough to know exactly how to make it happen. Independent reading can significantly help when it comes to academic success, but actually getting your kid to read can be a challenge. Maybe they’re afraid of the work, or worried about succeeding. However, turning your kid into an avid reader might be easier than you think. It just takes a little research and preparation, and a willingness to meet them where they are. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Find Out What They Like

This is such a simple step, but it’s one parents might overlook because at the adult level it happens automatically. When you’re looking for a book to read, you never have to stop and wonder what kind of book you actually want; you just know, and so you go get it. Kids, though, need help navigating libraries and bookstores, since the sheer volume of books available can be a little daunting. For a novice reader, it can be hard to know exactly where to start. Chat with your kids about what kind of story they’d like — funny, scary, exciting, etc. — and think about their interests while you’re browsing the stacks with them. By pairing them with a book that speaks directly to their passions, you’ll increase your odds of getting them something they’ll enjoy, and that will make them more eager to come back for more.

Set a Good Example

Kids imitate the behavior they see every day. If you encourage them to read, but you don’t actually model that behavior for them and show them what it looks like to enjoy reading, they won’t believe you when you try to talk about how fun or great reading can be. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to make yourself into a world-class scholar, or that you have to start plowing through “classics” just to try and look good. It does mean that you should develop reading habits that kids can pick up through observation. Read the news online or in print; dig into longform stories and journalism through magazines and apps; curl up with novels, histories or any other genre you enjoy. This takes reading out of the abstract and shows children what it looks like to actually read every day.

Buy Books, Not Toys

If you tell your kids to read more and then turn around and buy them a stack of video games, well, you shouldn’t be surprised how things turn out. Don’t just rely on school libraries, public libraries and trips to the bookstore to stock your home with reading material. Buy your children books as birthday gifts, holiday presents, or for other special occasions to show them how much you value reading. The books then become the kind of special treat they can keep on their shelves and revisit for years, long after they’ve aged out of the fad toy they thought they wanted.

Regulate Screen Time

This is related to the previous point. In order to encourage today’s children to read, it’s imperative that you set reasonable limits on screen time, meaning the amount of their day they spend focused on their phones, computers, tablets and games. How you do this is up to you: maybe you’ve got the TV and computer in a room where you can monitor usage, so you can keep easy visual tabs on what the kids are doing. Additionally, many e-readers and tablets have parental controls that let you block certain programs and content, and even automatically shut down after the child uses a certain feature (e.g., games) for an allotted amount of time. This can be a great way to make sure your kids have the opportunity to read free of distractions. Tablets and e-readers are the good kind of screen time.

Set Aside a Time to Read

Again, it’s all about habits. Read to your children on a regular basis — bedtime’s obviously a favorite — and make literature a part of your lifestyle. Maybe it’s half an hour or an hour in the evenings, or a special family reading time on Sunday afternoons. Whatever works for you. The key is to be consistent and emphasize the value of these shared reading times.

Get an Early Start

The sooner you make books a part of your child’s life, the better. A 2011 study showed that children whose parents read to them at an early age were still showing benefits at age 15, which shows how important it is for long-term development to introduce books as early as possible. Read to your kids regularly, get them books, and teach them from an early age how important — and fun — it is to read. By ingraining the habit early, you can help their academic and social skills for years to come.

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21 Blogs with Info You Need to Know Before Sending Your Kids Off to College

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Everyone always says that your kids will grow up before you know it, but that doesn’t stop most parents from blissfully ignoring the fact that time really does fly. Unfortunately, adulthood will come knocking much sooner than you anticipate, and before long your toddlers will suddenly be young adults going to college. These 21 blog entries will help prepare you for this transition, teaching you all you need to know about paying for school, reducing homesickness and instilling other life skills in  your child so that you can drop him off on campus with the reassurance that you did all you could to prepare him for this big life change.

Money Matters

Paying for college is easily one of the biggest concerns many parents face. Some parents start putting away money shortly after their child is born, others encourage their children to apply for grants and scholarships, and still others leave tuition up to their children. These seven blog articles will help you learn more about saving for college, as well as what other options are out there that can help you and your child handle this big financial investment.


Homesickness is something that nearly every college student will encounter from time to time, however you can help reduce the chances of homesickness for your child by preparing him early. One way you can do this is by sending him off to camp or to visit relatives during the summer. These small experiences away from home will help prepare your child when it’s time to go to college. For more tips to help you and your child deal with homesickness, read these seven blog posts.

Skills to Teach before They Go

It’s not unusual for parents to want to take care of everything for their children, however always handling things for your teen can actually rob them of valuable life skills. Before your kids leave for college, teach them important life skills, such as how to do laundry or cook basic meals. Read through these seven blog posts and figure out what your child already knows and what you may need to teach him before he leaves for school.

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10 Ways to Help Your Child Adjust to Wearing Glasses

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Many common vision problems are easily corrected with glasses or contact lenses, leaving the patient in question with improved sight and better equipped to take on the world. Since patients of the smaller variety are generally not considered ideal candidates for contacts, however, kids are generally restricted to corrective lenses in the form of eyeglasses. At such a delicate time in your child’s life, being forced to wear these oft-maligned accessories can be a downright traumatic experience. With the proper preparation and plenty of patience, however, you can help your child adjust to wearing glasses with minimal fuss or despair. These ten tips can help your little one get used to her glasses in no time, making life easier for everyone involved.

  • Prepare in Advance – There will almost certainly be a period of at least a few days between receiving the news that your child needs glasses and their completion, since the lenses and frames will have to be created and assembled. Use that time to talk about getting used to new glasses, but keep your tone as matter-of-fact as possible.
  • Give Her Some Control Over the Situation – A child will be more eager to wear her glasses when she’s had a bit of control over the situation and can take ownership of her new accessory. Let your child take part in the frame selection process, so that she’s wearing something she likes rather than having glasses she doesn’t care for foisted upon her.
  • Make Putting on Glasses Part of Her Morning Routine – The most difficult part of adjusting to new glasses for many kids is simply remembering to put them on in the morning. Making that task part of the morning routine helps her to get into the habit of wearing her glasses. Remember that the more your child wears her glasses on a consistent basis, the easier it will be for her to accept them as part of her life.
  • Make a Point of Acknowledging Voluntary Wear – If getting your child to wear her glasses proves to be a struggle in the first few days after they arrive, make a point of praising her any time she puts them on of her own volition, without being reminded to do so. Kids need praise and acknowledgment, and your efforts to provide that will pay off in the form of a child who’s more willing to make a point of remembering her eyewear.
  • Don’t Nag! – When your child doesn’t want to wear her glasses and you feel as if you’re constantly reminding her to put them on, it’s not always easy to keep a firm grip on your composure. Nagging, punishments or shouting only cause the wearing of glasses to be surrounded by negative connotations, making everything more difficult for her. Remind your child to put on her glasses, but avoid causing a scene over them.
  • Point Out Pop Culture Icons Who Wear Glasses – What do Superman, Taylor Swift, Harry Potter, Velma from Scooby Doo, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Joe Jonas and Peter Parker have in common? They’ve all been spotted sporting glasses. Pointing out teen stars, pop culture icons and characters who wear glasses can help your child to identify more with not only her glasses, but also the people she admires who share her need for them.
  • Ensure a Proper Fit – You will inevitably have a difficult time helping your child grow accustomed to her new glasses if they’re overly uncomfortable due to an improper fit. Make sure that your child’s glasses fit perfectly and that they are comfortable for her to wear.
  • Get Ready for Teasing – While you may not want to broach the subject with your child before it’s necessary, it’s wise to get yourself ready for the fact that some mean-spirited classmate will inevitably poke fun at her frames. Have a response ready for the first time she comes home in tears after being teased, and make sure that you don’t minimize her feelings in the process.
  • Work With Your Child’s Eye Doctor – One of your most valuable allies in the battle to help your child get used to wearing her glasses will be her eye doctor. Optometrists that work with kids on a regular basis have a slew of tricks up their sleeves for helping kids get excited about wearing their glasses, so don’t be afraid to enlist the help of your child’s doctor.
  • Be Patient – As with most big changes in a child’s life, getting used to new glasses will take time. It’s important that you remain optimistic and keep a firm grip on your patience throughout the process, so that you’re adequately equipped to help the adjustment phase run as smoothly as possible.

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What Teens Need to Know Before Dating

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

One day, your little one is skipping down the sidewalk with her hair in pigtails and a firm grip on a teddy bear. The next, it seems like, she’s bouncing down the stairs on her way to greet her first date. Watching kids grow and mature, especially during the teenage years, can be a bittersweet experience. It can also be the harbinger of the most difficult period of your parenting career. Preparing your child for the world of adult interactions, romantic entanglements and independence isn’t always easy, especially when you’d much rather they stayed small forever. Just as you can’t keep a child from growing into an adult, neither can you stem the tide of romantic attraction and the desire to date. All you can do is hope that you’ve instilled the values that you set out to, and that you’ve adequately prepared your teenager for the complicated and sometimes painful world of dating.

The Friendship Code

There are certain rules that come along with both dating and mature friendships, and they largely go unspoken until one of them is broken. One of the most pervasive and important rules for your teen to know before he starts dating is that the “friendship code” shouldn’t be broken. This code entails everything from dating a friend’s ex to trying to date a friend’s current girlfriend, and everything in between. While you’re trying to instill an inherent respect for the opposite gender, be sure that you also discuss the ways that dating and friendship can become messy, and how certain decisions can have far-reaching implications when it comes to both friendships and romantic relationships.

The Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship

No parent wants to think about their child being the victim of dating violence, but the sobering statistics show that this is one conversation that parents simply must have with their teens before dating becomes an issue. A study published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations shows that as many as one in three seventh grade students have experienced “psychological dating violence,” and that up to one in six have been the victim of physical dating violence. A different study, headed up by the Liz Claiborne corporation, also shows that less than 25% of teenagers have discussed the subject with their parents. Both teen boys and teen girls need to know that dating violence or emotional abuse is never acceptable and should be aware of the warning signs of an abusive relationship. Once a pattern of accepting abuse is established, it can be a difficult and painful cycle to break. Make sure that your teen starts off on the right foot by ensuring that he’s educated and aware of the issues surrounding teen dating violence and abuse.

The Importance of Boundaries and Respect

Parenting comes with its fair share of awkward conversations and embarrassing situations, but it’s far better to weather that momentary discomfort to educate your teen about boundaries and the importance of respecting them than to send them off into the world of dating with no clear understanding of them. Teens need to know that “no” means no, and that pressuring their significant other into anything they’d rather not do is completely unacceptable behavior. They need to know that anyone who subjects them to such pressure is not a good friend or someone that truly cares about their feelings, and that there’s nothing wrong with breaking off a relationship if their boundaries aren’t being respected.

Popularity is Not a Sound Reason for Dating

At no other time in life is the prospect of popularity or gaining entrance into the “cool crowd” more valued or desperately sought than during the teenage years. Teens may date someone that they have little in common with or little regard for simply to maintain or achieve a position of power in their social circle. Conversely, teens often choose not to date people that they are compatible with and attracted to due to a perceived social stigma attached to dating outside of their circle. Before dating even becomes an issue in your child’s life, be sure that she knows just how irrelevant popularity will be to her in five years, and how much she could potentially miss out on if she’s dating someone solely because they’re popular and capable of affecting her social standing.

Your Expectations and Their Responsibilities

While you may think that your expectations and your teen’s dating responsibilities go without saying, it’s important to realize that your teen only knows what you tell him. Don’t assume that your teenager knows what you expect of him as he starts dating, or what his responsibilities are to both you and his significant other. Communicate the rules and what you expect clearly and concisely, so that there’s no confusion or pleas of ignorance later.

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