Help Your Kids Become Stronger Readers

Paretns reading to KidsThere are many ways to help your kids become stronger readers, but one of the best ways is to read with them. Other great strategies for parents to try include reading aloud, providing print materials, and promoting positive attitudes about reading and writing. They all help you set your child up for success in reading. Looking for more ideas?  The U.S. Department of Education has come up with this list of helpful tips.

Share how you help your kids become stronger readers in the comment section below.

  • Invite a child to read with you every day.
  • When reading a book where the print is large, point word by word as you read. This will help the child learn that reading goes from left to right and understand that the word he or she says is the word he or she sees.
  • Read a child’s favorite book over and over again.
  • Read many stories with rhyming words and lines that repeat. Invite the child to join in on these parts. Point, word by word, as he or she reads along with you.
  • Discuss new words. For example, “This big house is called a palace. Who do you think lives in a palace?”
  • Stop and ask about the pictures and about what is happening in the story.


Stay Active over the Holidays

Active familyDuring the holidays it is easy to get out of your routine and spend a little more time on the couch.  Don’t let “the holidays” be your excuse to stop being active.  There are many things that you and your kids can do to stay active over the winter vacation and through the holidays.  Check out our list below of ways for you and your kids to stay active and let us know what you do in the comment section.


  • Stay awake during the day – You might be tempted to take a nap during the day, rather fill that time by doing something active.
  • Participate in a holiday 5k or other organized activity – There are many activities you can participate in during the holiday season.  Go ice-skating in Winter Park, paddle board on a lake or run in a 5k.
  • Make family time active time – Don’t sit around the TV with your family this holiday season.  Go outside and play a game.  Go for a bike ride around the neighborhood or take the family to the park.  Whatever you do, get up and have fun!
  • Use holiday shopping as an opportunity to be active – Walk as much as possible and park at the far side of the parking lot. Go to the mall early and walk around for 30 minutes before shopping. Walk from store to store instead of getting back in the car, if possible.

Lunchtime Chicken Wrap

[gmc_recipe 3824]

4 Steps to Homework Success

father helping sonAs students progress in their education career, the amount of homework they receive begins to grow.  It is important for students to develop good homework habits so they can succeed.  However, developing these habits isn’t something that kids know innately.  It is up to teachers and parents to help students develop these skills. has compiled a list of strategies from the National Association of School Psychologists to make homework go more smoothly.

  • Find a location in the house for homework. The right location will be different for each kid.  Some children like to work in their bedroom, while others prefer to work at a desk or table.  Make sure that the location is cleared of distractions.  Discuss the pros and cons of the location with your child and then come to a mutual agreement on the location.
  • Set up a homework center.  Once you’ve picked a location, set up the area like a home office or homework center.  Make sure the area is large enough for your child to get all of their homework assignments accomplished.  Include all the supplies that will be needed such as pens, pencils, glue, graph paper, rulers, calculators and other supplies.  If the location is used for other purposes (such as the kitchen table), put the supplies in a portable bin so they can be accessed when needed and then removed.
  • Establish a homework time. Your child should get in the habit of doing homework at the same time each day.  This time can very depending on the child, but once it is established keep with it.  The earlier the better because the later it gets, the more tired your child will be.
  • Establish a daily homework schedule.  Homework sessions should begin with the parent going over what needs to be done for the day.  Then have your child write down what he or she needs to accomplish for the day.  Review all of the assignments with your child, make sure they understand each assignment and ask if they need any specific materials to complete them.  If your child needs help with anything, make sure to explain the assignment and help them learn without completing the assignment for them.

BBQ Baked Beans & Chicken Sausage

[gmc_recipe 3776]

BBQ Baked Beans & Chicken Sausage

[gmc_recipe 3776]

Responsible and Safe Social Media Use for Kids

child on computerOur kids are growing up in a world where technology is advancing in an ever-rapid pace and their understanding of it seems to come second nature.  With that has come the world of social media.  Social media can be a great tool for connecting with friends, learning about online interaction and encouraging self-expression.  However, social media sites also come with some inherent dangers if they are not used properly.

It is important, as parents, to make sure that our kids understand the complexities of social media and how that can affect them in the real world.  Healthy Kids Today has compiled a list of tips for parents to go over with their kids on how to use social media in a responsible and safe way.  Let us know some other ways you help your kids use social media responsibly in the comment section below.

  • Know the age restrictions – Facebook states that it is for ages 13+.  Although they have no real way of enforcing this, as a parent you can.  Most social network sites have some sort of age requirements or suggestions.
  • Check privacy settings – All social media sites have privacy settings.  For example, on Facebook you can set your account to have to approve all photos or comments that you are tagged in.  You can also set your profile to only be seen by people who are already friends.  Go over these settings and explain what they mean to your kids.
  • Online reputation and thinking before you post – Talk to you kids about what an online reputation is.  When people post online (pictures, links and even plain text) it can be reposted by others and very hard, nearly impossible, to get rid of it even if you delete the original post.  Impress upon them, that what you say and do online can last forever.  With that, it is important to think before you post.  If they are angry and want to attack someone online, teach them to take a breather and step away from the computer.  It is not appropriate nor a good decision to use social media to bully someone even if they did it first.  This also goes for sexually suggestive language or pictures.  It is never a good idea to post anything that is sexually suggestive.  Impress on your kids that colleges, universities and even employers are looking at social media profiles before they hire or admit students.  Those types of posts can hurt you long after you post them.
  • Create ground rules for social media use – Create house rules for what your kids can and cannot do with their social media profiles.  This should include times that they can and cannot be on social media and the length of time they are allowed to stay on it.  This is another opportunity to go over what is appropriate to post.  Try writing out a contract and having everyone, including parents, sign it.  Display the contract near the computer so that everyone sees it.
  • Keep the computer in a central location – Having the computer in a central location where you can watch your kids, even if it’s passively, will help curb inappropriate use.  You will be able to monitor what your child is doing and they will be less inclined to do things they know they aren’t allowed to do.
  • Be a good example for your kids – Practice what you preach.  If you are living by the rules you have put in place, then your kids are more likely to emulate them.  Be the example you want your kids to be.

Polka Dot Peas and Carrot Ribbons

[gmc_recipe 3758]

How To Not Overindulge During Thanksgiving

Substitute healthier options for Thanksgiving classicsThanksgiving dinner

The classic Thanksgiving dishes can be filled with butter, sour cream and other unhealthy ingredients.  Try making healthier alternatives to these dishes.  For example, instead of a vegetable casserole make roasted vegetables.  Use olive oil, where appropriate, instead of butter.  Try using sweet potatoes instead of white or mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes.  

Eat before your Thanksgiving meal

Don’t starve yourself all day in order to “save room” for your Thanksgiving meal.  This is not only unhealthy for you, but when you do go to eat you will likely overeat because of how hungry you are.  Starving your body throughout the day can actually lead to more weight gain for two reasons.  First, eating kick starts your metabolism and helps burn fat.  Second, when you starve your body and then finally eat, your body is more likely to store that food as fat since it thinks it won’t get more food for a long period of time.

Stick to healthy portions

Only take one plate of Thanksgiving food. Fill up half your plate with vegetables, fruit and a whole-wheat roll, a quarter of it with sweet potatoes and a quarter of it with turkey or ham. And, the more colorful your plate, the better – so get lots of leafy greens, carrots, bell peppers and beets in your veggie spread.

Get up and be active after your Thanksgiving meal

After your Thanksgiving meal, don’t just sit on the couch.  Get up and be active.  Take your family and go for a walk.  Play a game of family football.  Whatever you do, make sure you are getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity after you eat.

Healthy Thanksgiving: Green Bean Casserole

[gmc_recipe 3651]