Posts from the ‘Parenting’ Category

READS FOR YOUR SWEETIE

Valentine’s Day for Beginning Readers

Written by Ella May Woodman

The author has released a series of sight word readers for beginning readers centering on holiday themes. This entry focuses on Valentine’s Day, the previous two centered on Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Valentine’s Day uses words in the en family. Plot involves Ben and Jen who are childhood friends. As we meet them, they are drawing and writing Valentine’s cards to bring to school the next day. When Ben forgets his cards at home, Jen volunteers to allow him to add his name to her cards. Each page has a basic illustration that explains the simple sight word text.

May includes the Dolch and Fry sight words and provides suggestions that parents or caretakers may use before, during and after the book is shared with the child. Parents and teachers who want to use the sight word approach to reading have these references located in one place. The main objective of this book to to assist new and beginning readers to use the book as a tool to increase reading fluency. I would also recommend the book for ESL students.

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ALONE NO MORE…

Gumbo Goes Downtown

Written by Carol Talley

gumbopicA tale that is charming and sweet, yet focuses on some important issues. The obvious story line is about a guard dog named Gumbo, who lives in a shotgun house on St. Charles Street in New Orleans. He spends most of his time barking at any one who comes near the chain link fence, such as the girl in a polka dot dress and the postman. When the postman fails to close the gate one day, Gumbo seizes the opportunity to see the world. He follows the trolley tracks downtown to New Orleans. Here he meets up with a poodle named Pompon and a champion pure breed named Stella. Gumbo has the time of his life in Jackson Square with clowns, dancers, jugglers, musicians and the like. Soon his friends leave to go home and be pampered by their owners. Gumbo begins to miss his house and owner Gus, whom he never appreciated. Will Gumbo decide to remain free in the big city on his own and fend for himself or return to his former life?

The book description suggests an audience of K-2. While the simple story of Gumbo’s adventure is appropriate for that age group, the larger issues of homelessness and running away from home are better addressed to a middle grade audience. Talley provides a nice guide for parents and teachers to set up a discussion on these issues. Maeno’s illustrations are soft, colorful and appealing, but the text is small and difficult to read on some of the pages. I recommend the book especially for parents and teachers who would like to open up a discussion on homelessness, running away, and poverty. Talley also includes an interesting background section on New Orleans and the points of interest mentioned in the story.

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FUTURE ENTREPENEURS

Teach Your Child to Fish: Five Money Habits Every Child Should Master

Written by Holly D. Reid

teachchildtofishpicThis is an excellent guide for teaching children how to handle and save money. The book has nothing to do with fishing. Written by a CPA, the language is not complicated but clear and easy to follow. As a bonus, the author includes a downloadable printable workbook to accompany the text. In the first chapter children are introduced to why we work and the kinds of tasks children might find engaging. Chapter Two explains how to be conscious about spending and how to do so wisely, stressing what is worthwhile and how we can help community, Chapter Three encourages children to save and invest and lays out different ways to do so. In the fourth chapter children learn how to be responsible with credit, how it works, and how to minimize debt. In the final chapter the author talks about how give generously to others in their community.

I particularly enjoyed the recommended activities section at the end of each section and the final thoughts in which the chapter is pulled together. While the author is a CPA, she also presents a strong Christian viewpoint and quotes scripture to reinforce her lessons. This book may serve as a reference manual to be implemented at many different stages in a child’s life. I particularly recommend it for parents of children in the eight to twelve age group.

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WHO’S AT FAULT?

Blame the Child – It’s Easier: Learning Difficulties Can Be Solved!

Written by Henry Blumenthal

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This book portrays a common sense approach based on the author’s lifelong experiences in education. He bases his conclusions on study and experience which dictates it is far wiser to withhold blame and take an objective and realistic approach to the difficulties manifested in the learning process.

Student victims are often stressed because of the undue pressures placed upon them by parents, teachers and other students. The author attempts to explore flaws in the educational system, parents and supporting personnel. There are many reasons why a student falls behind, excessive absence, changing schools, peer pressure, and poor foundation in basic learning concepts. The system often finds it easier to do a complete psychological testing rather than allow the teacher to discover a particular educational diagnosis of a specific weakness that can be easily remedied. Some teachers move too quickly, teach only in large groups, and do not allow for individual differences. Placed under stress by school districts, teachers feel compelled to cover everything in the curriculum rather than ensuring a firm foundation for future learning. Understanding rather than memorization should be the goal. Teachers need to acknowledge that they too have weaknesses. Rather than fall into the trap of labeling and treating with medication, they should investigate possible symptoms of learning problems.

Blumenthal provides teachers with suggestions for teaching as well as hints for parents. He explores new ways of testing, approaches to curriculum and suggestions for incorporating good nutrition in successful learning environments, as well as productive ways to assess successful teaching. Instead of blaming, parents, students, teachers, and medical personnel can share in their success.

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SIGNS OF SUCCESS

Raising a Happy Child: Easy Techniques for Better Communication With Your Baby and Toddler

Written by Barb Asselin

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This book focuses on using American Sign Language with babies and young children in an effort to provide a means for parents to better answer the communication needs of their children. Learning and using ASL allows a child to communicate with parents before they are able to use spoken language.

Asselin bases the book on her own experiences with her two girls. She begins by explaining what American Sign Language is composed of and the types of populations for which it was designed. The author provides some history of its use. While ASL is used primarily with the deaf, Down’s Syndrome or Learning Disabled children, parents and caregivers have learned that babies can easily learn the basic signs to use for communication. She lists the 50 plus signs that are most common, milk, again and more are often starting points. Asselin cautions parents not to overdo or force learning, but to gradually build up a set of vocabulary words. Once you have begun to communicate with your child, the next step is to introduce the program to caregivers and teachers. Finally, the author provides a comprehensive list of resources for reference and additional support in using the program.

I have a nephew whose parents have introduced him to sign language. He is quite adept and comfortable with basic sign and takes to it naturally. This book is a good tool for any parent who is interested in exploring earlier and better communication with a child and is willing to take the time to invest in mastering it. I would recommend all parents and prospective parents to take a look at it.

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LOOK AT THE BRIGHT SIDE

But Aren’t I Lucky That….

Written by Deanna Beech

Illustrated by Steven Lester

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“Tiger” wakes up thinking about his upcoming baseball game. He is sad to note that his dad has to go the work and will miss the game. When baby sister Maya smears dad’s shirt with jelly, he just laughs. Mom points out that they are lucky that dad has a job. Then Mrs. Wong, a neighbor, falls and hurts her ankle; “Tiger” is afraid they will be late for the game. Mom guides him to understand that doing a good deed in helping someone else, makes us feel even better about ourselves. When they finally arrive at the game, the other team is crushing them. Will “Tiger” find a way to understand that even storm clouds might have a silver lining?

This book will help children in elementary grades learn that real happiness lies not in material possessions but in positive thinking. The author hopes to give parents and teachers a way to communicate this to their children through her story. Lester has done a marvelous job with the illustrations. The models for the characters come from Brazil, Trinidad, Puerto Rico and the United States. They paint a multicultural picture for children of all races and genders. Highly recommend this book for parents, teachers and librarians of elementary school children as a thought-provoking read.

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SLOW DOWN AND RELAX

Mindfulness for Children: The Natural Way to Cure ADHD, Improve Focus and Schoolwork, and Have a Happy and Healthy Child

Written by Tony Robson

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This title is a mouthful; it seems like a magic formula. The author promises to explain the technique without a lot of extra boring information, and the book is less than thirty pages. He focuses on strategies that can be especially helpful for parents of children and teens who struggle with ADHD.

Robson begins with the definition of mindfulness which is meditation based on accepting and focusing on emotions and thoughts that are occurring in a person’s present moment in time. He lists the benefits of practicing mindfulness: better sleep and health, less stress, improved schoolwork, and keeping emotions in check. Next, he briefly explains how to determine when and where to meditate, how to influence your child and how to do the meditation. Robson suggests making it active, perhaps a superhero walk for a young child or a pretend driving lesson for teens. The parent must keep the child away from distractions, and search for what things worry the child. It is important to learn how to choose battles and when to respond. This will allow a child to better control emotional outbursts. Finally, teach children to be grateful so they remember the good things rather than the bad.

While these suggestions are helpful, parents need to understand that they must be able to meditate and stay in control if this technique is to be successful with their child. Robson refers them to another of his works for more detailed information. Anyone who is serious about learning and using this technique should know that this book is probably not sufficient for mastery of the technique. Certainly recommended to parents and teachers of ADHD children who are interested in finding non medical alternatives for their children

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