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5 Ways to Get Deep Discounts on Textbooks for School and College

books with apple

books with apple

I have a high school senior and freshman and a middle schooler who attend schools that require parents to purchase their textbooks.

This is all new to me because I went to public schools for most of my life. The only time I had to purchase textbooks was when I was in college years ago. when I had to buy books and things were different back then. Thankfully, there are a bunch of new options.

One. Rent Books  

My husband and I were faced with the quandary of having to shell out something like $160 for some books, $85 for others. The costs were adding up plus we’ve got three kids! It was getting cost-prohibitive but fortunately, you can rent textbooks now and have a host of cost-saving options that were not previously available when we were growing up.

We used Amazon Textbook Rentals and rented  one book that cost close to $200 book for just $35.  What a huge saving, huh?!!

Two. Purchase the Looseleaf Version of the Textbook

Another option, I just learned about this year is loose leaf purchases. I would think it would be a violation of US and international copyright laws to copy a book and sell the pages but not so.

Over the past few years, publishers realized they need to be flexible with their market and so have contracted with third party resellers to permit them to sell the loose leaf version of books. Hooray!

You simply purchase a binder and insert the pages and you can save over $100 dollars on a text book.

We got a Government and Politics textbook that cost $70 new for just $22 from Barnes & Noble!  


A lot of the rental books platforms also sell used books have standards and require the books to meet a minimum quality.

They describe what it means for a book to be in Fair, Good, Very Good and Excellent condition. HOWEVER, be very careful to get the correct edition. Some sites are not explicit in disclosing that it’s an old edition, the teacher’s edition or the workbook versus the text. IF the price is too low, be aware and make sure there isn’t a reason for a too ridiculously discount price. We got burned this way.

Also, if you get used books from third party re-sellers, be aware that a lot of them ship ground and therefore it could take up to three weeks for your books to arrive depending on where they’re being shipped from. 

If you have the option to select among several re-sellers, pick one located closer to where you live to shorten the delivery time. 

Finally, some of these outlets have few copies so it is possible that there may be overlap and the book may not be available then canceled. I mention all of this to let you know to be mindful of these factors when you go this route. 

Here are a few of the sources we have used:

Barnes and Noble




Abe Books.com.




Four. Attend Book Swaps

Our sons’ school offers a book swap where students moving on to the next grade can sell their books at heavily discounted prices to underclassmen.

They then get to go around to the other cars parked in the lot and purchase books they may need from older students.

A lot of schools offer this cost-saving option. You can also haggle and bargain. One mom was selling two novels for $5 each but I convinced her to give them to me for $7.  It was the end of the swap so she was running out of options anyway.

Even if your school doesn’t offer one, check out nearby schools and attend theirs but make sure  you are getting the correct textbook and edition. This can be tricky.

Five.  Buy Digital TextBooks

Finally, a lot of teachers and professors allow students to consume the digital version of textbooks on a Nook or Kindle or another digital device.

Once a person owns a digital copy, he/he is usually licensed to download and print out pages needed for a class. Amazon’s Kindle has an entire website to e-textbooks. Enter the ISBN of the text, Title or Author and hit search!There are so many wonderful ways to save money on textbooks these days that you really have no excuse to pay full price…well unless you can afford it and your kid prefers a shiny brand new, unblemished text in the most ideal form, then go for it!

No judgment! If you got it, make it work.

Good luck, parents!

10 Things to Do to Organize Your Kids’ Back to School Closet

As you prep to send the kids back to school, you may want to reassess what’s in their closet now and consolidate uneeded clothes, give away some, fold away some for younger children and basically get organized. Here are 10 tips to help you do that from a past post:

1.Take inventory: Go through the clothes that you already have for your child and see which items fit and which items don’t. Take the items that they have out grown to a resale shop or donate them to a worthy cause.

2.Assess how your child dresses: Don’t buy a bunch of dresses if you have a tomboy who doesn’t like to wear dresses. This may seem like common sense, but for some reason people love to buy pretty dresses and then they hang in the closet with the tags on them. Or they are worn once for that special occasion and that’s it.

3.Buy separates: Instead of buying a bunch of dresses you need to buy separates so that you can mix and match tops and skirts. You can also wear the tops with jeans or other pants. A dress is one outfit, but if you buy three skirts and three tops that can be mixed and matched then you can get nine outfits out of those items.

4.Buy basic colors: When buying pants or skirts think about buying basic colors, black, blue and brown. Those will go with a lot of different things you may already own. The more combinations that you can make the better off you will be.

5.Don’t buy outfits: Stores are great about putting together outfits, like pink and green striped leggings with a matching pink and green top. This is a one trick pony. You might be able to wear the top with jeans, but otherwise you can wear the pants with that one top and that’s it. Plus it’s such a bold color choice that you don’t want to repeat it in the same week.

6.Teach them to wear things more than once: The biggest thing that they can wear more than once is pajamas. There is no need to have seven pairs of pajamas. They can get up in the morning and fold them up and put them under their pillow for the next night. Having three to four pairs of pajamas should be plenty.

7.Add leggings to an outgrown dress: Do you have some dresses that are getting too short but they fit otherwise? Just add a pair of leggings and you can still get some more mileage out of those dresses.

8.Jeans, jeans, jeans: Most of the time jeans can be worn more than once in a week so teach your child to hang or fold them up after the first wearing unless they know they got a stain on them. Jeans are very versatile and can be worn dressed up with a nice shirt or sweater or worn with a T-shirt.

9.Buy basics: Buy a sweater in white so that you can take those short-sleeved dresses into Fall and Winter. Buy a white shirt that will go with anything or under any sweater to make an outfit warmer for winter. Black pants are always a good idea because they can be worn with any shirt and can be dressed up or down depending on the circumstances.

10.Take pictures and make a fashion book: Boys are especially bad about grabbing the shirt that is on the top in their drawer and wearing it over and over. For boys you might want to hang shirts so that they can all be seen. With girls, make a fashion book. Take pictures of all of the separate pieces and then mix and match them in a fashion book to show the different outfits that can be put together. Even young children can pick out an outfit and pull the pieces out of their closet and put a matching outfit together. Accessories for girls are also great to stretch a wardrobe. A great colorful scarf can be added to a basic black or brown top and you have a completely different look that how you wore it last week. Accessories are cheap and this is a good place to allow your kids to follow the trends, but not break that bank.

Good luck!

Calm Back To School Anxiety: 8 Ways How

Bellyitch Rewind

 Few things tug at a parent’s heartstrings like the cries and pleas of a child in the throes of a separation anxiety attack; still, they are a normal (if distressing) part of childhood development. With proper coping strategies and plenty of love, the worst of your child’s anxieties can be managed until he’s older, at which point most children tend to outgrow their fears of being separated from a parent or familiar adult.  

Managing your child’s separation anxiety and helping her to cope with the necessary but painful routine of parting is a matter of being patient, for the most part.

Keeping your composure and maintaining a grip on your patience is absolutely necessary in order for you to successfully employ other management techniques.

  1. Establish a Goodbye Ritual – Sharing a special goodbye ritual with your little one is both comforting and reassuring to her, letting her know that staying at school, daycare, or under the care of a nanny is a new part of her routine. Because structure and repetition are so important to young children, establishing a ritual that accompanies every separation can help normalize that separation, making it less stressful for her over time.
  2. Stay Calm – Kids react to the emotional state of a parent or loved one, so allowing yourself to become overly emotional or anxious in her presence is likely to only exacerbate the anxiety and fear that she’s already feeling. Maintain your composure as best you can, saving the emotional moments for a time when you’re out of her sight.
  3. Don’t Hover or Linger – While it might seem that your hysterical child will never calm down after you leave, childcare providers will almost always reassure you that their emotional state will improve dramatically once you’re gone. Lingering around and hovering over her will only prolong the process, stretching out both her suffering and your own.
  4. Speak with Caregivers and Teachers – Experienced childcare providers and preschool or kindergarten teachers are well-versed in reassuring both hysterical children and their concerned parents, so don’t hesitate to speak with them about how your child is adjusting. When normal separation anxiety is particularly difficult for a child to shake, or persists after a significant adjustment period, these people are your best allies in combating your little one’s fears and helping her learn to cope with separation in a calm, healthy way.
  5. Resist the Temptation to Sneak Away – It can be very tempting to wait until your child is distracted and slip quietly from the room, but this may not be the most productive method of dealing with her separation anxiety. Looking up to find you inexplicably gone, without any sort of a goodbye, can lead to a panic that she’s been abandoned or, at the very least, to feel that she can’t always trust that you’ll be where you should be.
  6. Communicate With Your Child – You can help prepare your child for preschool, kindergarten, or childcare by talking about the upcoming change, practicing separation on a small scale, and answering any questions that she has. These methods can be very effective in preventing the worst of her anxiety before it starts, and maintaining that open line of communication as she adjusts to her new environment and has new experiences is vital.
  7. Be Firm and Consistent – Don’t waver or bring your child home after a particularly bad outburst, as it sends the message that a tantrum will yield the desired result of either leaving daycare or school with you or sending your nanny home, rather than being separated. Focus on maintaining a firm but gentle demeanor, and a strong grip on your resolve.
  8. Know When Separation Anxiety Indicates Something More Serious – While separation anxiety is a very natural, normal part of growing up for many children, there are times when it could indicate something more serious. If a previously happy, well-adjusted child begins to regress and show signs of anxiety again, or if existing anxiety is severe and does not lessen with time, you should contact your pediatrician or medical provider for advice.

Good luck!

How To Help Your Child Survive An Active Shooter

Today has been quite a tumultuous one in the United States with not one, not two, but three different active shooter emergencies.

I wrote this intro a year ago yet one year later, it applies again as the US has been mired by 3 back-to-back active shooters in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas and Dayton, OH in the past week so I’m sharing yet again, this post about how to prep your child to survive an active shooter situation…again.

It’s pretty sad and scary because no longer can we be assured that we can avoid the type of places that these incidents occur at because there is not typical target any longer.

We may have heard the story of the little girl who survived the Sandy Hook shooter by pretending she was dead and staying still. Most kids are not prepared for such a situation and wouldn’t necessarily be that quick on their feet to think like that. It then leads us to the inevitable. We have to prepare our children for surviving an  active shooter situation.

Here are some basic pieces of advice, adapted from instructions and policies created by the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) Training Institute

What is an Active Shooter?

An active shooter emergency involves one or more persons, using a firearm, engaging in a random or systematic shooting spree. The vast majority of shootings in this country are over in a matter of minutes, involve persons known to one another, and are confined to a particular area.

An Active Shooting incident does not follow this template. It may last for minutes or hours, range over a large and constantly changing area, and threaten everyone within close proximity of the shooter(s).

Do You Get any Warning?

Persons may or may not receive advance warning of an active shooter. A witness, personal observation or the sound of gunshots may be the only alert you receive, leaving little time to react.

What Does an Active Shooter Emergency Sound Like?

The sound of gunshots, unlike special effects in movies and television, may sound muffled and make a “pop, pop, pop” noise. It is reasonable to assume that a series of such noises are gunshots and you should begin to take necessary precautions.

What’s Wrong With the Traditional “Shelter In Place” Process Police Use?

Traditional response to this type of incident has been to shelter in place and wait for the police to arrive. While this type of response is not wrong, case studies of several active shooter incidents have shown there may be instances where it is not possible or a secure location has been breached, resulting in an increase in casualties.

What is a Good Alternative for Pre schools and Day Care Centers?

The “ALICE” response plan has been identified to assist you in your response should this type of incident occur.

Pre-Schools and Day Care Centers come with unique factors and questions in dealing with this type of emergency. Building layout and features, the high number of younger children, and the consideration of possibly having only the option of “Lockdown” in some areas presents issues outside of normal protocols.

The staff should become skillful and think in terms of “when…then…” for an alert mindset.

Why Pre-Schools and Day Care Centers Present a Problem

Unlike most buildings, Pre-Schools and Day Care Centers usually only have one identifiable entrance for the public, but have several egress points for those in the building to escape in case of emergency. These points usually lead to playground areas that are fenced in order to keep children from wandering from the premise.

Consideration should be given to these fenced areas being gated and easily opened by staff to exit. Whether in an Active Shooter Emergency or Fire, the ability to move large numbers of staff and children away from the premise should be paramount. Once away from the building, the issue becomes one of keeping the children together and moving them to a safe haven. This location should be planned out and drilled into the children in much the same way we evacuate for fire drills. Campus Safety Has an Excellent Plan for administrators of schools and day care centers you can download HERE!

What should You or Your child do in an Active Shooter Situation to Survive?

What follows is a simple, example of an ALICE for Pre-Schools/ Day Care Centers.



“ALICE” is an acronym for 5 steps you can utilize in order to increase your chances of surviving a surprise attack by an Active Shooter. It is important to remember that the “ALICE” response does not follow a set of actions you “shall, must, will” do when confronted with an Active Shooter. Your survival and the survival of the children are paramount in this situation. Deal with known information and don’t worry about unknowns. You may use only 1 or 2 parts of the response plan or you may have to utilize all 5. In this type of incident, your perception is the reality and you will be deciding what the appropriate action is for you to take.

  • Alert- Can be anything.
    • Gunfire
    • Witness
    • PA Announcement
    • Phone alert
  • Lockdown- This is a semi-secure starting point from which to make survival decisions. If you decide to not evacuate, barricade to secure the room.
  • Lock the door using all securing mechanisms.
  • Cover any windows in the door if possible
  • Tie down the door, if possible, using belts, purse straps, shoe laces, zip ties etc.
  • Barricade the door with anything available (desks, chairs, rolling cabinets, etc.)
  • Look for alternate escape routes (windows, other doors)
  • Call 911
  • Move out of the doorway in case gunfire comes through it
  • Move children to the safest location in the room
  • Silence or place cell phones on vibrate
  • Once secured, do not open the door for anyone. Police will enter the room when the situation is over.
  • Gather weapons (coffee cups, chairs, books, pens, etc.) and mentally prepare to defend yourself or others.
  • Put yourself in position to surprise the active shooter should they enter the room.
  • Inform- Using any means necessary to pass on real time information.
  • Given in plain language.
  • Can be derived from 911 calls, video surveillance, etc.
  • Who, what, where, when and how information
  • Can be used by people in the area or who may come into it to make common sense decisions
  • Can be given by “Flash Alerts”, PA Announcements or Police Radio speakers
  • Information is a two-way street, if you have information share it with the police dispatch or the office
  • Counter- This is the use of simple, proactive techniques should you be confronted by the Active Shooter.
  • Anything can be a distraction device
  • Throws things at the shooters head to disrupt their aim
  • Give children the command to act (disruption tactics) or move
  • Create as much noise as possible
  • Attack in a group (swarm) if possible
  • Grab the shooters limbs and head and take them to the ground and hold them there
  • Fight dirty-bite, kick, scratch, gouge eyes, etc.
  • Run around the room and create chaos
  • If you have control of the shooter call 911 and tell the police where you are and listen to their commands when officers arrive on scene.
  • Commit to your actions, this is the last resort.
  • Evacuate- Remove yourself and the children from the danger zone as quickly as possible.
  • Decide if you can safely evacuate
  • Assist children in moving to secure rally points away from the building
  • Run in a zigzag pattern as fast as you can if alone
  • Do not stop running until you are far away from the area
  • Bring something to throw with you in case you would encounter the Active Shooter
  • Consider the distance to the ground if you go out a window. 3 floors up is considered the survivable drop zone.
  • Break out windows and attempt to quickly clear glass from the frame
  • Consider using belts, clothing or other items as an improvised rope to shorten the distance you would fall
  • Hang by your hands from the window ledge to shorten your drop
  • Attempt to drop into shrubs, mulch or grass to lessen the chance of injury
  • Do not attempt to drive from the area
  • Once at the rally point move children to most secure position possible and account for all the children in your care

Secondary Issues

  • Anyone may call 911 should they perceive a threat. Don’t worry if it turns out to be no issue, error on the side of caution.
  • Responding Police will have their weapons drawn and ready for use. They do not know exactly who the shooter is and will probably point weapons at you. Just remain calm and follow any directions they may give you. You may be asked questions, patted down, and given orders to exit certain ways.
  • Responding Police are there to stop the Active Shooter as soon as possible. They will bypass injured people and will not help you escape. Only after the shooter is stopped will they begin to provide other assistance.
  • If you come into possession of a weapon, do NOT, carry or brandish it! Police may think you are the Active Shooter. If possible, put it in a trashcan and carry it with you. If you come across Police, calmly tell them what you are carrying and why. Follow their commands.
  • Be prepared to provide first aid. Think outside the box. Tampons and feminine napkins can be used to stop blood loss. Shoes laces and belts can be used to secure tourniquets. Weighted shoes can be tied around a person’s head to immobilize it. Remember it may be several hours to secure an entire building and safely move an injured person. The actions you take immediately to treat injuries may save their life. Equip rooms with “GO Buckets” containing water, bandages, medications, zip ties, kitty litter to absorb moisture in the bucket should it be utilized as a toilet, etc.
  • If you are in lockdown for a long period of time, give consideration to issues such as bathroom use, keeping people calm, games, books, etc.
  • Pre-select Rally Points away from the building and practice with the staff and children moving to these locations. Make sure that the locations you are evacuating to know why and where to place you should an emergency occur. Involve local Law Enforcement in this planning.
  • Consider setting up classrooms and offices to make it harder for an Active Shooter to enter and acquire targets. Remember, posters and signs on windows, while welcoming, may obstruct your view of people entering the location.

These measures are meant to provide you with the knowledge and skills you may need to make decisions for your safety and the safety of the children. There are no mandates on how to survive, you are empowered to make decisions and won’t be second guessed.

What Can Parents do To Prepare for Non School Active Shooter Situations?

A book from the Alice Institute called “I’m Not Scared, I’m prepared” ($8.55)  tells the story of a teacher who has to tell her students what to do if a “dangerous someone” is in their school. Because we live in the world we live in, a book like this is needed for educators and parents so that their children are prepared for surviving a possible attack. It teaches the concepts taught in the training school for all children in a non-fearful way. Children learn things like:

  • Listen to the teacher and the announcements
  • There are ways to help the teacher barricade the door
  • There may be a time to go to a rally point with or without the teacher

and more.

photo: Screengrab WBUR/Getty

When Looking For That Perfect Maternity, Event or Vacation Photographer – Look Local

I am a member of several travel groups on Facebook and one thing that stands out to me are the elaborate photo shoots that many people arrange during their vacations.

A common photo is the flying dress photo in Santorini, Greece or on the beaches of Anquilla or Miami.

Many couples also arrange with local photographers on travel for quick photo shoots and not always for a formal occasion like an engagement.

For example, when a central Florida bride I read about named Jessica got engaged to her boyfriend Ryan, she wanted to return to Miami where here parents used to take her and her siblings to as a child. She went with Localgrapher because it seemed like they had a better understanding of what made Miami so special to me.

The same could be said of remote maternity shoots. It is best to take the time to find a photographer or team that knows the area where you’re going to be shooting in, as it will alleviate the stress of finding unique spaces in the town or city.

The Localgrapher option is cool because it has close to 1,000 local photographers in its network at over 600 destinations around the world that consumers can select from depending on their needs.

They come rated so it saves the stress and anxiety over not knowing if the quality is going to be okay. We usually trust the opinions and experiences of those who have used a service provider before and took the time to pen a good review.

I know I’m grateful for that.

The tide has turned when DIY or at home photography was sufficient to bring a vacation, event, engagement, announcement or baby arrival experience to life.

In the advent of social media and ‘The Gram, photography sessions are more accessible for more people and being opted into as the only solution for capturing those moments.

The entire game is changed.

Breastfeeding Week: More Women Would Breastfeed If They Ignored People

Breastfeeding, believe it or not, is a controversial topic when it comes to discussing women’s rights to perform the act in public and the level of covering up society requires of them.

It is also contentious when images of breastfeeding is banned by social media algorithms that equate the flesh of a women’s breast with a sexual image and blocks it.

It comes with all sorts of myths and women who face diffuculty are vulnerable to quit too soon, especially when they are not supported by their partner, culture, home or work.

It is nature’s way of providing for a newborn but it is not easy for everyone.

If you are having trouble, ask for a lactation consultant to help while you are still in the hospital and before discharge. This service is usually complimentary or covered by many insurances including socialize forms of insurance like Medicaid in the US.

They can help you with issues related to latching, increasing supply, sore nipples, and any other questions you have.

Also, when you are discharge, you will hear lots of advice and opinion. Not all of it will be supportive. Take in the words but trust your own gut and desires and if all else fails, Google or YouTube to see if you can find online voices for support.

When I was expecting my first child, I got tons of support and encouragement from mom groups online. I am still friends with many 18 years later as our babies we were all expecting at the time prepare for their senior year in high school and to vote in the next election.

You are not the first mom to have difficulty. Getting help when you need it doesn’t make you worse at breastfeeding than others.

Among a long list of myths women have about breastfeeding is the notion that If You’re Sick, You Shouldn’t Breastfeed.

Just because you’re feeling under the weather doesn’t mean you can’t naturally feed your child, notes the site which boasts the best rated nursing covers.

In fact, “There are very few illnesses that require a mother to stop nursing,” explains the site, breastfeeding.

The site explains that your baby has likely already been exposed to the virus that is making you ill, and breastfeeding will actually help fortify your baby’s response to the virus through antibodies from your system.

Even being HIV positive is not a reason to stop breastfeeding, notes other sources (although antiretroviral drugs will likely be prescribed during the first year of breastfeeding).

Hopefully, knowing the truth bout when to get help and not falling prey to myths that prevent you from giving up too soon.

The Best and Worst US Cities to Raise a Family {List}

With wedding season over and many young families seeking to put down roots in places of opportunity, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2019’s Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family as well as accompanying videos.

To determine the most family-friendly places in America, WalletHub compared more than 180 cities across 47 key metrics.

The data set ranges from housing affordability to school-system quality to share of families with young kids.

Best vs. Worst

  • New York has the most playgrounds (per square root of the population), 0.6607, which is 18.9 times more than in Hialeah, Florida, the city with the fewest at 0.0349.

  • Irvine, California, has the fewest violent crimes (per 1,000 residents), 0.61, which is 34.1 times fewer than in St. Louis, the city with the most at 20.82.

  • Scottsdale, Arizona, has the highest median family annual income (adjusted for cost of living), $109,565, which is 3.5 times higher than in Hialeah, Florida, the city with the lowest at $30,889.

  • Overland Park, Kansas, has the lowest share of families receiving food stamps, 3.09 percent, which is 15.2 times lower than in Detroit, the city with the highest at 46.91 percent.

  • South Burlington, Vermont, has the lowest share of families living in poverty, 2.50 percent, which is 13.1 times lower than in Detroit, the city with the highest at 32.70 percent.

To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit:


Helping You Quit Overparenting Your Kid

In the stream of operating smartphones and working social media, experiencing rigorous academics well before formal schooling, and filling up the day with multiple lessons and competitions, some developmentalists — count me in here — worry that we’re also taking away opportunities for kids to develop the kinds of skills and values that get established early in life and last a lifetime.

Part of the problem is that in pushing so hard for our kids to be “advanced” and to “achieve” we are reducing essential learning that will help kids become doers — people who will be able to navigate what will undoubtedly be an uncertain future and in the process be primed for defining, chasing and securing their own vision of success.

We don’t have to eliminate all of the modern features of growing up today but we can make sure that we aren’t doing away with the seminal experiences kids need to learn how to do for themselves.

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How The Most Successful Parents Keep Their Kids Learning In Summer

During the Summer Slow Season

Summer may have kids feeling too cool for school, but it’s the ideal time for learning according to one of New York’s most respected educators: Caitlin Meister, founder of The Greer Meister Group.

She and the tutors at her private tutoring and educational consulting practice are among the most experienced and accomplished in the city, and they’ve been teaching children of all ages for more than a decade.

This summer, they are giving parents tips to ensure that their kids don’t suffer the “summer slide.”

 “You don’t have to be in a classroom to learn,” says Meister. “Summer provides an opportunity for learning experiences that we’re too busy for during the school year. There are wonderful ways for parents to keep their children engaged over summer; the key is doing it. It’s a long time to be out of school. We can help make those ten weeks feel exciting rather than daunting.”

In fact, recent U.S. studies confirm that students lose 2.6 months of grade school equivalency over the summer. Teachers spend 4-6 weeks at the start of each school year reteaching material from the previous spring.

“Kids can naturally feel burnt out from school-style learning and want to enjoy the summer,” Meister says. “The key is to make summer learning fun and interesting.”

She has five suggestions for keeping kids engaged and learning over the two-and-a-half-month break:

DEEP DIVE! Let your kids tell you what they want to learn this summer

“Choose a topic that interests your child and take advantage of the unparalleled opportunity that summer offers to deeply explore that subject – without the limitations of a bell ringing or a teacher saying, ‘It’s time to move on,’” Meister says.

Whether it’s dinosaurs, electricity, mythology, or unsolved mysteries, there are books, games, projects, museums, and day trips that kids can enjoy with parents, caregivers, or independently as they dig down and immerse themselves in a subject.

“The trick”, says Meister, “is to make sure that it’s something that your child wants to learn about and that you can devote quality time to it.”

MAKING CONNECTIONS: Helping your kids analyze and make inferences

“One of the most important skills that we can teach our kids is how to make inferences and connections among what they read, their own lives, and the world around them,” Meister says. Summer doesn’t have the same constraints that the school year has, so it’s the perfect time to foster your child’s skills.

Try reading together and relating what you read to your child’s life, something else they’ve read, or to the greater world. What are the similarities? What are the differences? How could one benefit the other?

Just one conversation per day can help teach kids to be critical thinkers, adept analyzers of literature, and give them a foundation for interdisciplinary learning. Beyond those benefits, developing inference skills can also help foster kids’ compassion and empathy. Finding time for it doesn’t have to be a burden.

Even if you only have a few minutes to read together at bedtime, the conversations can continue throughout the week – in the car, while running errands, or at the breakfast table. Do your kids FaceTime with a grandparent or other relative?

Encourage them to read the same book so that your kids can have conversations with people who offer different perspectives based on their own life experiences.

LOGICAL REASONING: Playing with patterns

“Strong logical reasoning skills will support your child in any discipline. Patterns underpin math, science, language, art, music… They are everywhere,” Meister explains. It can be simple: Look for opportunities to identify trends, patterns, and sequences. Ask your child, “What comes next?” or “What would happen if we changed this piece?” According to Meister, “Logical reasoning is something that parents can teach in a few minutes throughout the course of a regular day.” Learning doesn’t have to mean sitting at a desk or using a book or worksheets! You can invent puzzles.

Try asking: “If A and B happened, what would happen next?” While out for a walk, try asking: “We usually walk to the left here to get to the store, but if we were to turn right here and then left on the next corner, what would I see?” Or you could ask, “When we get home, we usually take off our shoes, wash our hands, have a snack, and read a story on the sofa. If we decided to do those things in reverse order, what would we do second?” Even something as simple as setting the table for dinner presents opportunities for playing with patterns.

If your child has learned a particular pattern for placing napkins, plates, and silverware, change something about the pattern and ask her to identify it, or ask her to devise a new pattern and see who in the family can figure it out. There is also a great opportunity when reading stories with any sort of cliffhanger: Pause to ask your child to make a prediction about what will take place next. “Patterns and sequences abound in our daily lives,” Meister points out. “All you need to do is teach your child where to look for them.”

LISTEN UP! Audiobooks for the whole family

“We all know that reading is one of the best ways to avoid the ‘summer slump,’” Meister says. “But if your child isn’t a self-motivated reader, summer reading can feel like a battle that you’d rather avoid. Who wants tension when you’re on vacation?

Audiobooks are a great way to make reading more appealing.” A study done by the University College London measured participants’ physiological responses when listening to an audiobook versus watching a movie adaptation of the same scene.

Participants were more engaged with the audiobooks than the movies! According to the researchers, people “had stronger physiological responses for auditory stories including higher heart rates, greater electrodermal activity, and even higher body temperatures.

We interpret these findings as physiological evidence that the stories were more cognitively and emotionally engaging when presented in an auditory format. This may be because listening to a story is a more active process of co-creation (via imagination) than watching a video.”

Another study, conducted by education nonprofit WestEd, found that students who listened to audiobooks as a component of their literacy instruction outperformed their peers in motivation to read, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. “Listening to audiobooks is an activity that the whole family can share,” Meister explains, “and it’s something that you can do almost anywhere, including while on the go. It’s the perfect way to keep up summer reading.”

WHAT’S NEW? Expanding young minds one summer at a time

Remember the first tip about child-driven learning? How about exploring something new? “Children are growing, they are developing perspectives, and they are exploring new ideas every day. The world is full of opportunities that they might not know about yet,” Meister says. “The school year is scheduled, and there isn’t always time or energy to take a chance on something completely unfamiliar.

The summer is the perfect time to choose an area that your child hasn’t been exposed to yet and enroll him/her in class, go on a field trip, or put together hands-on, project-based explorations at home. When a child isn’t in school all day, there are a lot of opportunities to take risks and explore.”

The Greer Meister Group is a private tutoring and educational consulting practice specializing in content mastery, cognitive flexibility, resilience, and academic independence and perseverance. The group’s tutors are among the most qualified, accomplished, and inventive educators in the tri-state area – Ivy League graduates, published authors, internationally-renowned performers, learning specialists, and more.

No, There’s Nothing Wrong With A Child Sitting in A ‘W’

There is a wives tale and old school of thought that says children who sit in a W stance may harm their legs or joint development but that theory is totally false, and in fact, has been long since debunked.

W-sitting is not harmful and was debunked 20 years ago.

According to Dr. Charles Price, Director of the International Hip Dysplasia Institute and pediatric orthopedic surgeon with Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children Level One Pediatric Orthopedics:

There is no scientific evidence that W-sitting is harmful, or that sitting posture causes intoeing. W-sitting does not cause intoeing, but some children have bone structure that allows them to sit in the W-position. This is a natural condition similar to being left handed.”

Here’s a bit more…

Differences in bone and joint structure allow different people to excel in some sports and not others.

Gymnasts, basketball players, swimmers, football players, runners, etc. often have different physical characteristics that allow them to excel in their sport.

W-sitting is one more example of the wide variation in human form that makes each of us unique.

Many children have intoeing gait but intoeing adults are exceedingly rare.

Those rare adults who intoe are often above average athletes. W-sitting reflects a different bone structure that is not influenced by posture, shoes, or braces.

Since bone structure changes as the child grows, the ability to W-sit usually disappears by age 12.

Intoeing also disappears naturally in almost all children. 

There you have it! Sometimes old wives tales and myths passed down from generation to generation are better left unsaid…or at least “Googled”

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