Tips to Getting your Kids to School on Time:

All parents struggle to get back into their morning routines after the long summer holidays, but if every morning is a struggle for you, it may be time to take action and beat that bell. Don’t’ have chaotic mornings that see frenzied searches for missing items, nagging to get kids moving or siblings fighting for bathroom time. Here are a few tips to keep your mornings calm.

Learning Styles

Just as we need to change information to suit the child’s learning style if we want them to absorb information in class, we also have to adapt the way we communicate in the mornings. If your child is an auditory learner, asking them to get up, telling them to brush their teeth and wash their faces will be easy for them to comprehend.  Visual learners, however, may be left wondering what you just said or daydreaming about their day. For these students, making charts with all their morning tasks on it which they can tick off as they go through them may be just the ticket.

Every child is different so try a few strategies like games, rewards and incentives and songs to get them through their morning routines. Find the formula that works for your family and stick to it until it becomes a habit.

Planning is Everything

School days always start the night before, especially for students who have trouble getting ready. Decide on outfits and lay them out, pack school bags and consult diaries to ensure that there are no forgotten assignments or tests.

Review the day ahead and ensure that all books are packed. What afterschool activities are happening? Do you need musical instruments, sports uniforms and field trip permission slips?

Every child is different so try a few strategies like games, rewards and incentives and songs to get them through their morning routines. Find the formula that works for your family and stick to it until it becomes a habit.


The worst way to start your day is getting into a battle of wills with your child. It takes up time, it stresses everyone out and it makes for a really bad start to the day. While we are not always our best in the mornings, we must try to be respectful of each other.  When parents treat children with respect and ask them to do things nicely, it can diffuse some of the morning tension. If fighting is a big part of every morning, either between you and your kids or between siblings, it’s time to change the morning routine.  Start by asking them what they don’t like about mornings and really listen to their answers. You may be surprised about what sets them off. Knowing what makes them upset can help you to mitigate the irritation.

Talking about morning routines and ways to get things to flow smoothly will help your family to work together to make waking up and getting to school a happy and healthy process. 

New Year's Resolution: Help Your Kids Do Well in School This Year

It is a new year according to the calendar, but in most schools, we’ve just reached the half-way point. Resolve to be involved in your children’s education in new ways this year. Studies show that kids whose parents are involved in their education have better grades, a better attitude toward school, and more appropriate school behavior than those with less involved parents.

How do I get involved?

Getting involved in your child’s education can be as simple as talking with your child each day about school and homework. Your involvement could also include:

What should I do if my child isn’t doing well in school?

Parents and teachers working together create the best environment for learning. If you are concerned about your child’s progress:

Lack of Sleep Leads to Poor Academic Performance

Latest studies show that teens just aren’t getting enough sleep and this has far-reaching consequences. When teens don’t get enough downtime, they suffer from physical ailments, poor academic performance, and mental health and behavioral issues. We all know that young children need sleep and routines and so we have bedtimes. But, as children get older, we tend to forget that their brains and bodies are still growing and that they need more sleep than adults.

Studies show that teenagers need 9-10 hours of sleep. Without proper sleep, memory and the ability to concentrate as well as higher cognitive functioning is severely affected. This means that when your teen pulls an all-nighter to study for exams, they are setting themselves up for a poor performance on exam day.

A survey by the National Sleep Foundation found that 60% of high school students suffered from extreme daytime fatigue which caused them to regularly fall asleep in class. They attributed this to the average of 6.5 hours of sleep that the students we getting.

Dr. Avi Sadeh, a lecturer at the University of Tel Aviv, conducted a study to find out just how much sleep deprivation affected academic performance; “A loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development.” What this means practically is that a sleepy eighth grader will perform academically closer to a sixth grade level.

Lack of sleep also reduces the efficacy of immune systems and that leaves students vulnerable to all the illnesses they are exposed to at school. Missed school days also contribute to poor academic performances.

One of the reasons teens tend to stay up late is biological. Sleep researchers Mary Carskadon, at Brown University, and Bill Dement at Stanford found that at certain times of our life, our biological clocks keep us up and make us resistant to sleep. This phenomenon is called ‘phase delay’ and occurs before and during puberty. That means that your poor teen doesn’t feel in the least bit sleepy despite the fact that they really need their rest.

One way to encourage students to sleep is by taking a melatonin supplement just before bed, by encouraging exercise and healthy eating and by getting your teens to avoid computers, games and academic tasks at least two hours before bedtime. 

A Harvard study discovered that the brain continues to learn even after you fall asleep. This is when it consolidates information and works through processes or steps you have learned the day before. Have you ever found that you were struggling with something, but then after a nap or a good night’s sleep, you suddenly got the hang of it? That’s because while you are sleeping, your brain was working on the problem without the noise and distractions of the day.

If you want to help your student to excel academically and be healthier and happier, then more sleep is definitely the answer. Move your Zzzzz to As this semester by making sure your students are getting all the sleep they need.

Exercise Can Relieve ADHD Symptoms

ADHD can cause students to have trouble staying focused and impedes their academic performance. For about two thirds of those suffering from ADHD, prescription drugs may bring some relief of symptoms, but the side effects can be severe. New studies show that exercise can help to relieve the symptoms of ADHD for many students and help them excel academically.

Exercise as an alternate ADHD medication

The Pediatrics research journal recently published the results of a study which showed that children who exercised regularly displayed improved brain function and cognitive performance. Their executive functions improved and they even scored better on their tests, especially for math and reading comprehension.  Executive functions are essential in combating the symptoms of ADHD as they allow the student to resist distraction. An improved executive function will allow students to maintain focus and will improve their working memory. Executive functions also govern a student’s ability to move from one task to another which is called cognitive flexibility.  John Ratey, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard, has suggested that exercise be prescribed as a medication to combat the effects of ADHD because it causes the release of dopamine and serotonin. These two ‘feel good’ hormones boost academic performance and improve mood. “Think of exercise as medication,” says Ratey. “For a very small handful of people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD ADD), it may actually be a replacement for stimulants, but, for most, it’s complementary — something they should absolutely do, along with taking meds, to help increase attention and improve mood.”  Exercise also has a wealth of benefits that go beyond the classroom and it has no bad side effects! The biggest problem for most parents is getting sedentary students away from TVs and computer screens and outdoors where they can exercise.

Get your kids moving!

The best way to get your kids moving is to make it fun rather than a chore. You can take walks around your neighborhood; just 30 minutes four times a week will do the trick. Encourage your kids to participate in outdoor activities and get them to join a club or sports team, bike to school and go for hikes on the weekend. Be a good example for your children and find fun and exciting ways to get them moving every day.

There are many local resources for parents including Play Fit Fun and the ‘Let’s Move’ campaign which offers parents advice on how to get their kids moving.

Exercise Can Relieve ADHD Symptoms

Board games with your kids may not be the most scintillating thing you can do on a weekend night, but it does help to reinforce what they learn at school, improve communication skills, form family bonds and teach good sportsmanship.

This is a great way to improve communication skills and show the impact and importance of non-verbal communication. Choose simple action words for younger kids and books, songs, TV programs and movie titles for older kids. This game is great because you don’t have to spend money on it and you can play it anywhere – all you need is a pen and paper.

Keeping score is always a great way to improve math skills. Playing card games and Yahtzee are also great ways to practice arithmetic. Word games like Scrabble use both math and English skills. Word games are excellent for expanding vocabularies, teaching spelling and helping with reading comprehension.

Running races, playing catch, skipping rope and swimming are great ways to get your family moving. If you don’t feel like participating, opt to be the referee by adding fun challenges, judging performances or using a stop watch to time participants. Getting your family moving can be as easy as taking a walk around your neighborhood or to the local store.

Regular exercise helps to get kids moving which has a wealth of health and emotional benefits. Remember that they look to your example on how to include exercise into their lives on a regular basis.

Treasure hunts and geo-caching are great outdoor games to help kids learn navigation skills. You don’t even have to be playing a game – simply asking them to navigate around town when you are doing chores is a great exercise. This is a really important life skill and you’ll feel much better knowing that they can read a subway map or use a map. Using their mobile phones to locate treasures or geo-caches is easy enough, but they also need to be able to get around on their own.

These can be played with children from the second grade onwards. Strategy games help kids to practice their higher cognitive functions and this makes it easier for them to grasp abstract concepts with greater ease, making math and science easier to handle. Strategy games also encourage independent thinking and are a wonderful way to practice decision-making skills. It also shows the correlation between decisions and consequences and teaches kids to think the consequences through when making strategic moves.

Choose a combination of games that require individual and team participation. Reward good team behavior and good sportsmanship. Don’t always let your kids win. While letting them win may help bolster self-esteem, they need to be able to lose with grace. The most important element here is that they have fun and that your bonds as a family unit are strengthened.

Backyard Weather Stations

Materials needed:

Ever think of building a backyard weather station with your kids? It’s fun, easy, and makes a great family project! Your kids will learn the basics of scientific observation and record-keeping while satisfying their natural curiosity about weather.
A weather station is a set of devices for measuring elements like temperature, rainfall, wind speed, and pressure. You can buy these devices in your local hardware store, or you can make them from scratch using common materials found around the house.
A Few Notes on Record-Keeping:
Decide which weather events and data you want to record and how often you want to take measurements (once a day, twice a day, etc.). The more detailed and accurate your measurements, the more specific your picture of the patterns will become. A ruled notebook or ledger is an ideal place to record the measurements. List measurement types down the side (one event per line) and print the dates across the top to create a simple grid sheet.
Hint: Numerical data can also be entered into a simple spreadsheet-type program and manipulated  to create impressive visual charts and graphs to display data. Your kids can also take a crack at creating a wall chart to create a stunning data display. It would make a great science project or extra-credit work in any earth science course.

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New Year's Resolution: Help Your Kids Do Well in School This Year

It is a new year according to the calendar, but in most schools, we’ve just reached the half-way point. Resolve to be involved in your children’s education in new ways this year. Studies show that kids whose parents are involved in their education have better grades, a better attitude toward school, and more appropriate school behavior than those with less involved parents.

Math Skills

“If you don’t use ’em, you lose ’em!” This adage is very true for mathematical concepts. Between the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, students will be out of school for three full weeks! That’s three weeks with no reinforcement of the work they have done so far this year…as students are being challenged to not only demonstrate mastery of mathematical concepts, they must also apply those concepts to solving real-world problems.

While it’s fairly easy to find math software or online games to keep younger children entertained, it’s more difficult to find games for older students that will keep their attention while reinforcing critical skills. In addition, many online math games turn out to be heavy on the video game and light on the math. Our suggestion is to create some real-world math projects for your students. Here are some fun suggestions!

Have your student

Reading and Writing

Exercise...with Dice!

If you’re in search of a fun exercise game to help get your kid active, make some dice that’ll inspire her to really get into that workout! This game is created from homemade dice printed with different exercises to do outside. Your child and her friends will be skipping, running, jumping and hopping in no time. Get your family active at your next picnic, or round up the neighborhood kids for some entertaining physical fitness!

What You Need:

What You Do:

  1. Measure and cut down pieces of paper to fit each side of both styrofoam boxes. This will require 12 sheets, one for each side of each dice.
  2. Have your child come up with six different ways to move around. Examples could be: run, crab walk, tip-toe, tumble, skip, etc.
  3. Using a marker, encourage your child to write one action on each piece of paper. Have her accompany the action word with a drawing depicting the action.
  4. Have her adhere the action words to a cube, one on each of the 6 sides.
  5. Now, have her print numbers 1-6 on the other cut pieces of paper. Make sure that there is one number per sheet of paper.
  6. Then, draw dots under the numbers to represent the each number.
  7. Ask her to adhere the number sheets to the six sides of the other die.
  8. Go outside to a nice open area where she can move around without rocks or hard surfaces.
  9. Create an imaginary boundary in the form of a circle.
  10. Encourage your child to roll both of the dice and have her physically do the action word as many times around the imaginary circle as listed on the number die. For example, if the action die lands on “Skip” and the number die lands on “2”, she would skip twice around the imaginary circle.


Each player should take a turn rolling the dice. Play for as long as you like. The objective of the game is to follow directions and have fun!

Nutritional Analysis

Good eating habits start at home, but it’s difficult to keep track of your child’s eating habits as she becomes older. Show her how to analyze the caloric and nutritional value of her favorite meals. She may be surprised to find out how healthy—or not—her favorite foods actually are. This activity’s sure to increase her awareness of her diet and provide a gateway to a healthier future.

What You Need:

What You Do:

  1. Have your child list her favorite meals on a sheet of lined paper. They don’t all have to be complete meals; she can also jot down her favorite side dishes and desserts.
  2. Next, have her take another piece of lined paper and divide it into three sections, lengthwise. Ask her to write the word “Ingredients” at the top of the first column, “Number of Calories” at the top of the second column, and “Nutritional Value” at the top of the final column.
  3. Now, invite her to choose one of her favorite meals and write it in the margin on the left hand side of her lined paper. 
  4. Encourage her to write each ingredient in a bulleted list if it’s a recipe from scratch. If it’s a prepared box meal, such as macaroni and cheese, have her write just the basic ingredients, cheese, pasta, milk, and butter.
  5. Then, ask her to look up and record the number of calories in the second column across from each ingredient, based on serving size if made from scratch. Vegetables are extremely low in calories, so they don’t need to be taken into account in this column. Fruits are a little higher in calories and amounts can be found via the internet. If it’s a prepared meal, just have her write the total number of calories found on the back of the package. Remember: Most of the calories are based on small serving sizes, so try to take that into consideration.
  6. Finally, have her write down the other important nutritional values or facts from the packaging from each ingredient, such as minerals, vitamins, fat, etc.
  7. Invite her to repeat the above steps with all of her favorite foods and meals.
  8. Now, have her add the total number of calories per meal. Have her analyze each meal paying attention to the amount of calories, fat, vitamins, minerals, etc. 
  9. Help your child come up with ideas to modify her meals if they are unhealthy in certain aspects, such as high in saturated fat. For example, packaged macaroni is high in calories and fat. Instead, you could use whole grain pasta, low-fat cheese, margarine, and add chopped zucchini and tomatoes. Another example is cheeseburgers; instead of beef burgers, you could substitute turkey (which has about half the fat and calories), low-fat cheese, a whole wheat bun, tomatoes, and romaine lettuce.
  10. Finally, have her write her new modified recipes in each column. Encourage her to compare and contrast the old and new recipes for calories, fat content, and other nutritional values. 
  11. Try the new recipes together to promote a healthier lifestyle that will continue throughout adulthood!

Pop Culture Game

This low-prep party game is a perfect for entertaining all-too-easily-bored teens, and an easy way to lighten the mood during a group study session. By keeping teenagers on their toes and testing their pop-culture savvy, this game will help them develop creativity and social skills, and help them build their reflexes.

What You Need:

What You Do:

  1. Before beginning the game, prepare a stack of 30 cards total, each with the name of an entertainer, political figure, cartoon character, literary character or other famous name. Aim for a good mix of well-known people and more obscure figures.
  2. Divide players into two teams. Choose a team to go first.
  3. The team must pick a team leader.
  4. For Round One, hand the team leader a stack of five cards, face down.
  5. Set the time for one minute.
  6. Ask her to turn over the first card, and have her describe the person on the card in five words; no more, no less.
  7. To answer, the group may either decide upon an answer collectively and have a spokesperson deliver it, or individual team members may provide answers by raising their hand. There is no passing or skipping to the next card!
  8. See how many celebrities her team can correctly name, and give the team one point for every correct answer.
  9. Repeat this for the second team and compare scores.
  10. After both teams have completed the first round, move on to Round Two: same premise, but this time, the team leaders can only describe the person on their card with three words. The final round is Round Three, where leaders may only use two words.
  11. The team with the most correct answers wins!

Go on a Geometry Scavenger Hunt

Here’s a fun way to help your teen make important connections between geometry in school and geometry in real life, and cross over into the arts at the same time. Using cameras, host a friendly contest between family members or friends to see who can find the most examples of geometry in the real world!

What You Need:

What You Do:

  1. Sit down with the list of geometric terms and make sure that everyone understands each one. If a term needs clarification, there are many online math dictionaries that can provide definitions and pictures.
  2. Take your cameras on an outing. Each person will look for real-world examples of geometry, and take a picture that captures each term. For example, a traffic pylon could represent a “cone,” a tall building a “prism,” or a railroad tracks “parallel lines.”
  3. When you’re finished with your scavenger hunt, download the pictures onto the computer, or develop them at a store.
  4. Show your pictures to one another. Each player gets a point for one of his terms when the group agrees that his or her picture clearly demonstrates its meaning.
  5. The person who captures the most terms wins! The prize is up to you.


  • Pick a theme for your pictures according to your teen’s interests. Some examples include geometry in architecture, nature, or sports.
  • If you’d rather not use a camera, you can look through magazines and for examples in pictures. Or, you can give each player a predetermined amount of time to collect pictures from the Internet. These could be put into a folder, or made into a scavenger hunt slide show.

An Adverb Acting Game

It’s difficult to find a child who doesn’t enjoy performing every once and awhile. Get your little thespian in the spotlight while reinforcing the ever so important part of speech—the adverb. Try this adverb “acting out” game with your child for a few laughs and learning fun.

What You Need:

What You Do:

1. After a refresher with your child of what adverbs are, and how they help other parts of speech, ask your child to write out 20 that they know, one adverb per each index card. To get them going, suggest a few, like “angrily,” “quietly,” and “sneakily.” Once complete, place all 20 cards into one of the paper bags.

2. Next, on strips of paper, have your child write out 10 sentences about things they do or say during day. For example, “Can you give me directions to the grocery store?”

3. Now the game begins! Have your child choose one card and one slip of paper from each paper bag, and tell him to act out the sentence slip using the adverb character. Can he ask what’s for dinner sneakily? How about hungrily asking for a hall pass?

4. Guess which adverb he’s acting out. As he gets better at the game, add more complex adverbs for vocabulary development, as well as a bigger acting challenge!

Fraction Simplification

Race to simplify fractions in this fast-paced game! All you need to play is a deck of cards, paper and pencils. Shuffle the cards, and you’re ready to get started. Simplifying fractions is an essential skill for every math student in the fifth grade or higher. Students need continued practice with simplification in order to successfully add, subtract, multiply and divide fractions. Play this game again and again and work towards mastering this important concept!

What You Need:

What You Do:

  1. Create a fraction bar sheet by drawing a line across a piece of paper. 
  2. Set up the game so that the players face one another. For each pair of two players, you’ll need to create a separate fraction game board.
  3. Shuffle the deck of cards.
  4. Distribute the deck evenly between two players.
  5. Have the players place their decks face down in front of them.
  6. To start playing the players should simultaneously turn over a card from their deck and place it on the fraction bar sheet. Each player should place one card above the fraction bar. The cards above the fraction bar represent the numerator.
  7. Then the players should place one card below the fraction bar. The card below the bar represents the denominator.
  8. There should be a card above the bar and a card below the bar, giving you four cards total.
  9. The first player to correctly simplify the fraction shown by the cards wins all four cards. If a tie results, split the cards evenly.
  10. If the fraction can’t be simplified, each player should collect the card that the other player put down and position it at the bottom of his deck.
  11. Play continues until one player has accumulated all of the cards.
  12. Alternatively, you could set a time limit on the game. When time is up, the player with the most cards wins!

Face-Off! An Integer Card Game

One way to help your child increase his speed and accuracy when solving integer problems is by playing “Face-Off.” In five minutes, you and your child can make the game together and begin an enjoyable “study session” – one that may include prizes!

What You Need:

What You Do:

  1. Cut 3×5 cards in half. Divide equally so both players have 50 cards.
  2. Quickly write integers from 0 through 20 on each set of cards (remember to use positive and negative numbers).
  3. Shuffle both decks.
  4. Now it’s time to “face-off”. Player 1 should lay down the top 2 cards from his deck face up. Player 1 adds the 2 cards, paying attention to positive and negative signs. Player 2 should do the same with her 2 cards. Compare answers. The player with the highest answer keeps all 4 cards (place in a separate pile).
  5. Continue playing until all integer cards are used. The player with the most cards wins!


  • Next time around, play “Face-Off” to practice subtraction of integers.
  • Emphasize speed and accuracy when making and playing the game. The point is for addition and subtraction of integers to become automatic.
  • Decide on a fun “prize” for the winner (the winner could choose what to have for dinner, for example, or what to watch on T.V). Never underestimate the motivational power of a small reward!

Pumpkin Cookies

Anytime is the perfect time to whip up a batch of fluffy pumpkin cookies. Your child will hone her culinary skills while creating a savory cookie that packs a healthy punch!

What You Need:

  • ½ cup room temperature butter
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • Dash of salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • Paper towel
  • Mixing bowl
  • Mixing spoon
  • Sheet pan

What You Do:

  1. Start by helping your child gather the ingredients needed to bake the flavorful pumpkin cookies. She can measure and add the butter, sugars, and egg to the mixing bowl.
  2. Now she can use a mixing spoon to incorporate the ingredients, creating a nice smooth mixture. She can also preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Invite her to continue measuring and adding the ingredients along with the flower and then giving everything a final stir.
  4. Your child can coat the sheet pan with a drizzle of vegetable oil and then use a paper towel to cover the entire pan.
  5. Encourage your child to scoop spoonfuls of the batter onto the sheet pan leaving two inches of space between cookies.
  6. She can pop the cookies into the oven for about 12-minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.


Your child can serve her pumpkin cookies to the family alongside mugs of hot cocoa or apple cider on a crisp fall day!

What You Need:

Pumpkins are packed with anti-oxidants, which are beneficial for brain and body development? And, they are full of vitamins A, C, and E!

* not necessarily interactive game, but fun, something you can do with your kids, and a healthy treat for the season

Impossible Heights: Calculate and Measure with Your Shadow!

Everywhere you go, your shadow follows, but it can be much more than a companion or a silhouette: on a sunny day, your shadow can be used to discover the heights of structures that tower over you.

What You Need:

Here’s an activity that can turn a gorgeous day into a memorable one with this hands-on lesson in mathematics. By using the concept of proportion, your child will learn fundamental math skills and experience how math can be applied in practical ways to the world around her.

What You Need:

  • Tape measure
  • Notebook
  • Calculator
  • Pen or pencil

What You Do:

Go to a sunny spot outside where you can clearly see your shadow. This is easiest if done earlier or later in the day when the sun is not directly overhead.

Using the tape measure, calculate your shadow in inches from the toes to the top of the head. Record this number in a notebook.

Using the tape measure again, measure your actual height in inches. Record this number in your notebook.

Divide your height by the length of your shadow and write that number down. This is the proportion, and you’ll need to use in step 7.

Locate an object that is too tall to measure, but not so tall that you can’t see its entire shadow. A few good examples of this are a basketball hoop, tree, or flagpole.

Measure the object’s shadow in inches and record the number in your notebook.

Multiply the length of the object’s shadow by the proportion from step 4. This will tell you the object’s height in inches. Divide by 12 to find the object’s height in feet.

Note: This activity should be done within about twenty minutes, so the sun doesn’t move significantly in the sky. If you and your child continue the activity, just make sure to measure your child’s shadow again and recalculate the proportion.