Monday, August 30, 2010

Preschool Prep 101

This month my youngest child turned three, so she's heading off to preschool this year. She should be quite a pro after tagging along to pick up her older brother and attending many a party and field trip during the past few years of her brother's preschool term.

Pro or not, it's still a transition for both of us. Not only will my little girl be entering a structured play and learn environment, but I, as mom, will now have that time to myself. Gosh, what to do right?

Well, first I have to get her there. It's all about the prep.

Since preschoolers are toddlers, they handle daily transitions differently than we do. They're still learning about routines, rituals, and expectations. has a great article called, "Easing a Toddler's Daily Transitions" to help prepare and coop with the changes that are about to happen in the next month.

You may also want to click over to Scholastic and check out this article on Terrific Transitions for helping your child handle transitions from preschool to dinner time.

The biggest part of preparing your preschooler for school, is transition. You may find that if your child already attends daycare that this transition is usually less dramatic for you and your preschooler.

So, is your preschooler ready for the first day?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Surviving Middle School Melodies

Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, The: Middle School (Worst Case Scenario Junior Editions)Hear it? It's the sound of middle schoolers heading off to school. Ahhh, the bliss of absent tweens.

But happens to our children when they go from elementary school to no man's land - middle school. It's like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. They're too old for elementary school and too young for high school, essentially we've tossed them into no man's land. For no man (or young woman) knows exactly what to do with themselves at this stage of life.

Tween are old enough that they begin to set new social standard for themselves. They've been developing a personality for the past ten to twelve years. They like they're mind sets have matured.

It's an exciting time, their not babies anymore. Bye bye Elementary school!

Your middle schooler has already developed their own set of expectations for these next few years of middle school. Sit down and talk to them. It's not the same as when you were in school, I'm sure. Yet, you want to make sure your middle schooler is walking into class the first day with the right kind of attitude. That, and you don't want your child raising the bar that might come crashing down on them.

Things are going to change.  They'll have more responsibilities. Not all their friends are going to be their friends again. Interest will change. has good article, "Preparing for Middle School" on tips and techniques to balance school and home.

In order to prepare your middle schooler to survive these years of transition, you can add these to this year's shopping list.

1. A Student Planner. Unlike Elementary School, middle schoolers are introduced to a new scheduled class and homework routines. Help them keep their days and assignments organized. Less confusion on their part is less frustration on yours.

2. A sturdy Backpack or Messenger Bag. School textbooks are no longer kept in a desk. Now, your middle schooler must store books in lockers and carry them in their backpacks. Look at size, style, and durability. A middle schooler's backpack is like their best friend --they'll hang out with it all year long.

3. Wrist Watch. You're middle schooler has been learning to tell time since the first grade. Now, when you tell them to be home by 6pm for dinner, they've got no excuses. Just like when they've got to run to the bus stop and be there on time. Tweens are old enough now for time management both in the home and at school.

4. Alarm Clock. Time to get up! If their old enough to have an opinion, they're old enough to set the alarm and abide the beeping in the morning. Staying up late now holds a new tune with this helpful gadget.

5. Allowance. You may not have been doing this back in elementary school.Now that your child has entered into middle school, consider setting them up on an allowance. This isn't anything that should be based on grades or chores, those are both expected without receiving payment. But now that your child is growing more independent, they too need a source of income. Give them a set amount every week or two weeks. This may or may not include their lunch money. Help your child learn to manage money, and understand the concept of earning or saving for the thing they want and expect you to provide for them beyond the norm.

As always, don't forget the pens, pencils, calculator, and notebooks while you're out shopping for those cool new school clothes and rad shoes this school year!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hyped For High School

97 Things to Do Before You Finish High School  When I was a teenager people  used to tell me to enjoy those cherished years of high school. Yeah, right! If your a teenager and your reading this, you'll agree with me, you can't wait to get out of high school and move onto college. Whoa there, just slow down. While high school may not seem like the greatest time in a students life while their living it, it's essential for parents to encourage them through it.

When they look back on those years, what happy  memories will they be blessed with? Or what sneaking things will they confused to have pulled off under our noses, right?

Neither you or your high schooler may be hyped for high school, but with the clock ticking towards the first day, it's time to get motivated.

What better way to starting your teenager hyped for high school than by these essential things.

If your child is entering into high school (9th) grade for the first time, then you may want to have them read this: How to Be Prepared for High School as a Freshman. Written by a freshman student for a student.

You may also want to check out Top 10 Skills for High School Students over at for developing good habits while in high school in order to achieve success.

Now back to the essentials :)

1. Backpacks and Messenger Bags. You may find yourself purchasing a new backpack or messenger bag every year or so. This essential item is the bread to the butter of attending high school. It goes through a lot of wear and tear from daily use. Not to mention getting washed, dragged, and thrown around. The type of back pack or bag your high school student chooses to wear tells outsiders about their personalty. Don't be afraid or resistant to spend a few dollars on this item for your teenager. You want it to be sturdy, dependable, and last.

2. A good Wrist Watch. If you expect your teenager to be on time, then you must provide them with the proper tools in which to achieve it. That, and no excuse why they lost track of time and became late. (It's like the time the dog at their homework.)

3. Scientific Calculator. Let's face it, at this age they're bound to be dragged down with some sort of math class like calculus or geometry. Even the best of scientist use calculators at this stage, and so does your brain evolving teenager.

4. Beanie Cap. I know. I know, but they seem to be all the rage in this age group. I'll let this up to you and your teenager to decide. Along with jeans, t-shirts, and those expensive name brand shoes they'll just die without.

5. Locker Organizer. Lockers weren't designed to meet your students organizational needs. They usual have one shelf on top, if your lucky. A locker organizer helps keeps books in a specific area, where grabbed most, and shoes and bags at the bottom of the locker. Coasts are stuffed in where they fit. Imagine your teenager rummaging through it all between every class to find what they need for the next class? It's not a pretty sight.

Now grab some pens, pencils, and notepads and they're well on they're way to high school. Good times, great memories, right?

What other things do you do to prepare you high schooler each year for school?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Carting Off To College

Get It Together for College: A Planner to Help You Get Organized and Get InI thought we would work backwards this month as we discuss back to school basics. College students are usually the second ones to begin classes as the new school year begins. Teachers, beginning the first, as they must first prepare for the students to enter their classes.

Preparing for college can be difficult, if not more so, than sending our kids off to elementary school or even high school. Many times, a high school graduate will choose a college away from home as opposed to living with their parents.

Unfortunately, many colleges won't give you a list of what to bring with you, so here's the basics of what you'll need to cart off to college with you student.

1.  Bedding. If you're college student is moving into the doors at the educational institution of their choice then more than likely they'll find themselves sleeping in a dorm room with one or two other people. Therefore, they will need to bring their own bedding suitable for a twin bunk. You basic bedding consists of a sheet set, comforter, and a pillow.

2. Shower Caddy. Since you share a room in a dorm, your most likely to share your bathroom between suites, which means there isn't alot of room for everyone to store their shower and toiletry essentials. Keep your college students shower necessities organized by storing them in a container or caddy.

3. Desk Organizer. Due to limited space, a college student's desk needs to be just as organized as their toiletries. A college student will spend more hours at his/her desk than any other part of their dorm, including their bed. A messy desk breeds a late, unproductive, and disorganized student.

4. Student Planner. Most colleges will hand these out to freshman on the first days of preparing for class. There are many different options when it comes to keeping a student planner, ones we'll discuss at a later . date on another post. But for now, a student has the option of a traditional paperback planner, pda's, and of course using the online features in most blackberries and cellphones. What ever will work to keep your college student on time for both class and keeping assignments up-to-date.

5.The Bag That Says It All. Just like back in highschool, your college student is going to need something to carry books, pens, highlighters, and essentials around campus. We're not just talking a book bag either. It's thee bag, the one that says, "Hey, this is me" kind of deal. The most important thing to consider when selecting a new bag is what function it needs to serve. Will they carry a laptop inside? Books?(yes, books!) notepads, lunch, wallet, etc... Choose well, it will be your best friend for a very long time.

I'm not going to tell you that your college student will need to pack their clothes for living in the door. Getting dressed every day is an essential that we usually don't need to remind someone to do, or take essentials with them. When packing your college students clothes, I suggest folding clothes layering them inside a hamper. This serves two purposes: 1. They take they're clean clothes with them. 2. The hamper can be reused inside their dorm room for when the clothes are dirty and need washed. (Oh, and don't forget a roll he of quarters for the washer and dryer units, and detergents. Not unless, you want your college student carting their laundry back home for you to launder on the weekends.)

The rest is like high school, just your basic pen, notepad, and sneakers, really comfy sneakers for walking. Okay, maybe not like high school, but you get the picture.

Mark your calendars for the big day yet? Grab a pen and pencil and write a list of all those essentials you'll be needing to back up and cart off to college.

I'd love to hear what the number one things is that you'll be taking that you can't live without. (alcohol and parafilia excluded from comments please.)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Colorful Accessories

These past few days have been filled with colorful explosions of creativity in our household. You'd think being crammed in the house together on rainy days that we wouldn't be so willing to work together. Or may it is the rain to blame for having to amuse children when they can't go outside and play.

Izzy, our oldest daughter decided to have some creativity of her own these past few days.

Since we've been going through and making list of things we need to buy, prepare, and accomplish before going back to school, she decided a few handmade bracelets and necklaces were at the top of her order before heading into third grade.

Some of the necklaces she reserved for friends and was nice enough to make her baby sister a few bracelets too.

When the day was over, the beads put away, both  my girls were looking pretty with their new plastic and wooden bead jewelry.

At Izzy's request I've posted some of her bracelet creations in my etsy shop. She's planning on make a few more today. Who knows if she'll decide to keep them or sell them too. She's become quite a little entrepreneur at this age. That or she just really wants the newest Pokemon game for DS and is anxious to get it before her birthday.

Either way, I'm happy to my daughter using her creative talents rather than having her face stuck in a Nintendo DS all day before school starts.

It's definitely been a colorful few days around here!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Time to Teach - A Teacher's Guide to Getting Prepared for Back to School.

Nobody prepares harder or more in advance for the return of the school year than a teacher! Although, it might seem like they've been off on summer vacation all this time, truth is they've probably been planning and preparing for the next school year. Or if they haven't, they're about to start now.

The Organized Teacher: A Hands-On Guide to Setting Up and Running a Terrific ClassroomTeachers are the first people in the classroom every morning and the last to leave. They, too, have their homework set out for them and get limited time to go outside and play - if any.

So, how does a teacher prepare to get ready to go back into the classroom for another year?

They re-evaluate what worked and what didn't from the previous year, discuss new ideas and share topics with other teachers, clean up their classrooms, write up lesson plans, and set up class rules.

Sounds all too simple right? Well, actually it is. Planning, preparing, and executing all these tasks take a tremendous amount of time for a teacher. That's why in order for a teacher to prepare to go back to school for a time to teach, they've got basic needs just like the students do.

1. Grade Book. Yep, any good teacher knows you can't leave home without it. It's like the little black book everyone is dieing to see. Students grow pale in it's presence and many secretly devise ways of peeking inside when the teacher is least likely to suspect. And of course, all they really have to do is ask, "Mr. Smith can you tell me what my grade is so far this year?"

2. Desk Organizers. Any grade level teacher or professor will tell you the key to staying successful in your teaching efforts is to have a organized and clutter free desk. It doesn't set a good example to your students if they can't find their homework and neither can you on the stacks of disarray over top and around your desk area.

Homemade Simple has some great little craft projects to repurpose common household items like cereal boxes and soup cans to help a teacher stay organized this school year.  Psst... parents these little crafts make great teacher gifts too! You can find the link here to Repurposed Desk organizers.

3. Daily Planner.  Lets face it, teachers have lives outside of school just like their students do. A daily planner not only helps them keep track of what's going on inside the classroom, but on the outside as well. They can plan and prepare their days around tests, events, and themes.

4. Offical Pen. A pen becomes a teacher's best friend. A pen gives power to a teacher to not only correct a student's work, but to encourage them, inspire them, and persuade them to grow in their assignments. The type of pen a teacher uses, it's ink color, style, brand can say alot about a teacher's personality.

5. Tote Bag. A teacher's tote is as important as their wallet when it comes to carrying valuables. Stacked full of student homework assignments, grade book, and tests, a teacher never leaves home without their tote. In addition to papers they stachs their lunch and water bottles inside too!

A teacher is only as good as his/her tools,like a carpenter of trade.
For more resources for teachers preparing to go back into the classroom or entering the first time, check out the following articles full of great ideas and additional resources.

Teacher Planet

Pro Teacher

If I've missed something, let me know. Teachers feel free to share in the comment section. :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Back To School Basics.

School Days 2011 Wall Calendar Planner (Calendar)There are 24 days until school starts! 

Not that anyone is counting right?

If I've said it once, I'll say it again, "Where has the summer gone?"

In 24 days, a new transition will start for all us parents, and especially us mothers. Not to mention our children, too. They will shift grades, start kindergarten, or enter preschool for the first time. (All of which is about to happen here in our household.)

If you have more than once child heading off to school, then you know there is a little bit of prep work that needs to be done. For you and your children.

So this month, (August) we're going to focus on Back To School Basics.

I don't know about you, but when I think about back to school basics the first thing that comes to mind is shopping. Pencils, notebooks, folders, binders, backpacks, socks, underwear, pants, shirts, sneakers, and the list goes on.....

Depending on where your child is headed, from preschool to college, preparing to send your child to school can become a stressful time. A "notebook" doesn't carry the same meaning to a five-year-old as it does a twenty-year-old.

Then there is you, yes you, you may not be going back to school, but there is still homework involved.

Stick with me as we address each level of school preparation this month. Not only will you be prepared, but you'll be stress free on that first day of school.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Journaling Your Story

Although it may have seemed like I've gone on hooky these past few weeks, I've been hard at work.  The 2011 Mood Organizer is coming along.  I'm crossing my fingers and praying for a October release date this year.

I've also been on the road alot this summer if couldn't tell by all the travel post over at

People talk about having split personalities, well... that's me. writer, author, crafter, and mother extordinare. They say one is to select a niche' and stick with it. It's hard when my two favorite things are writing and crafting. Both of these, I share with my kids.

We're always creating some kind of book together. We make up stories, scrapbook photos from vacations, trips, and special occasions. And, I'm always journaling these memories - sometimes even the bad, so that why when we go back and read about them, the good ones to come after are so much sweeter.

This week I ran into a post by Katie at MAKING THIS HOME called 13 tips for journaling.

I really like her simplicity method of journaling. Just tell your story. You don't need fancy scrap booking supplies to put together a book about places you've gone, people you've met, and your hopes and dreams.

I encourage you to check out her blog post this week and start journaling your story, especially those about this summer,s adventures. Enjoy the summer heat, while it last!


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