6 Easy Ways to Ready Your Child for Back to School

The Epoch Times

While summer is still going strong, there’s an opportunity to take slow and easy steps to ready your child’s mind for the next year of school.

Find Math Everywhere

Whether you’re heading to the grocery store, cooking or baking, planning a vacation, or redecorating a room, there is math involved. By simply engaging in a conversation about numbers and their relation to whatever you’re doing, you’ll get those wheels turning.

Better yet, show your children how math applies practically to life. For example, the next time you’re setting out to the grocery store, hand your kids clipboards and pencils and give them a spending limit. Give yourself plenty of extra time and have them help you stay under budget, track your spending, and make purchasing decisions.

When you get to the register, it’ll be fun to see how accurate your total was calculated.

Enjoy an Audiobook on the Road

If you’ve got a summer road trip planned, choose an audiobook to enjoy as a family. Headphones off, eyes out the window, and all ears enjoying the same story together!

Coupling great literature with cherished family memories is an excellent way to encourage a love of reading and enhance your child’s understanding of language. It’s also a great joy.

There are innumerable recordings available for sale everywhere you’d expect. Also check out Librivox for free readings (many of excellent quality) of public domain books.

Share a Journal

Encourage the practice of writing by sharing a journal with your child. You write them a note, a joke, or a story and then they write you back. Your child will love it and hardly notice they’re practicing their writing skills.

Tighten Up Screen Rules

The more you can reduce screen time, the more your children will benefit from activities that require active (rather than passive) brain activity.

Begin to Rein In Sleep and Nutrition

As much as you can, try to gently encourage a consistent sleep schedule and ensure your children are getting the proper nutrition. Ice cream for dinner can be glorious, but we need to balance that out with nutrient-rich foods for growing bodies.

There are many wonderful fruits and vegetables in season this time of year. Perhaps a visit to a local farm or farmers market can be a fun activity to get nutrition back on track.

Head to the Library

Plan a library outing and allow your children to browse to their heart’s content. Don’t miss sections beyond the children’s area. In nonfiction, you can find books about any subject under the sun: crafts, gardening, trains, dinosaurs, sports, space, and so on. Max out those library cards before you leave and enjoy hours of silence when you get home as they comb through their treasures.

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Book Review: ‘The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results’

The Epoch Times

Multitasking is a concept that plagues most people today—whether entrepreneurs, professionals, parents, students—no matter the roles we fill 

…we’ve got a lot coming at us and a lot on our plates.

The idea of doing more than one thing at a time, on its face, seems like a more efficient strategy. However, as “The One Thing” handily debunks, “multitasking is a scam.”

Instead, Gary Keller and Jay Papasan bring forth the revolutionary idea that we should instead (gasp) do one thing at a time.

Previous societies may have baulked at the need for such advice, but as our stress and feeling of being overwhelmed clearly tell us, this message is one we need to hear.

“The doors to the world have been flung wide open, and the view that’s available is staggering. Through technology and innovation, opportunities abound and possibilities seem endless. As inspiring as this can be, it can be equally over-whelming.”

“The One Thing,” of course, goes well beyond the simple idea of only doing one thing at a time. In fact, it calls the reader to identify the one thing that should take highest priority in every circumstance and facet of life. The authors implore readers to ask themselves, in the face of decisions large and small, a very specific question: 

“What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

“If everyone has the same number of hours in a day, why do some people seem to get so much more done than others?” The answer, “The One Thing” concludes, is the ability to do “the one thing” until it’s done.

This means ignoring and eliminating distractions, blocking time, forming good habits, fueling your body adequately, and more.

“It’s not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do, it’s that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have.”

A dose of clarity and a sigh of relief, “The One Thing” is a quick and worthwhile read. If you feel overwhelmed and behind the high ball, this perspective may be just what you need.

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Back to School Shopping Must-Haves

The Epoch Times

Before this past school year had even ended, I received my first back-to-school catalog in the mail. That same week, I took my kids to the craft store and found they had three aisles all decked out for Christmas. I mean, really? It was June.

Now, however, as we slide into August, it’s about that time when parents begin to dig out those supply lists, check the condition of last year’s backpack, reassess clothing and shoe sizes and get shopping.

I’ve been to this rodeo a few times now (seven, actually) and in addition to the pens, crayons, notebooks, and more that will likely be required of you, here are a few items I’d recommend:

Better Binders by Staples

A few years ago, Staples noticed (apparently) all of the annoying problems with the average binder—not durable and the rings become misaligned and are not easy to flip through—and answered them and more with their Better Binder series. Even people who don’t get excited over things like binders (with whom I cannot relate ;)) will love these. Available in various sizes and colors, these are the best binders out there.

L.L. Bean Lunch boxes and Backpacks

Well designed and well made, L.L.Bean’s backpacks and lunch boxes will meet your student’s needs and last, guaranteed. They wash well, come in a variety of sizes and storages options, and are backed by the company’s legendary return policy. 

Back-to-School Storybooks

Elementary school children can benefit greatly by their parents help in preparing them emotionally to go back to school. One way to do that is to read stories together.

Here are a few of my favorites: “Richard Scarry’s Great Big Schoolhouse” by Richard Scarry, “If I Never Forever Endeavor” by Holly Meade, “Those Shoes” by Maribeth Boelts, “We Like Kindergarten” by Clara Cassidy, and “If You Take a Mouse to School,” by Laura Numeroff.

A Fluffy Companion

If you’ve got nervous young children, one strategy to ease back-to-school jitters is to “hide” a special, small stuffed animal in their backpack. My daughter loved knowing a special little bunny or puppy was with her all day. She knew she had to leave the toy in the tiny front pocket of her backpack, but that was part of the fun. After school, we’d talk about all that stuffie had learned that day. 

The Aurora brand of stuffed animals (easily found on Amazon and elsewhere) makes adorable options and are usually not made in China.

A Free Day

It costs nothing, but can be oh so valuable when school begins. The transition to the school schedule can be a harsh one for both parents and children. Before your calendar gets filled to the brim with school activities and after school activities, plan a free day for your family.

Simply block out a day (probably on the weekend) where you’ll schedule nothing but relaxation, recuperation, and family fun that you’ll all enjoy. It will be a beacon of light when things inevitably get hectic. 

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Teaching Our Children Responsibility

The Epoch Times

Famous advice columnist Abigail Van Buren (“Dear Abby”) once said, “If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.”

Indeed, as our children grow, it becomes increasingly important that they take on responsibility, learning the value of work and eventually developing into people who can take care of themselves, their families, their communities, and their world.

Doing absolutely everything for our children throughout their childhood sets them up for a rude awakening when it comes time to fledge the nest. Busy parents may find it rather cumbersome to teach children, for example, to prepare a meal, vacuum, do laundry, or balance a budget. In a hurry, it’s just easier to do these things ourselves, after all.

As the old saying goes, however, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

The upfront investment of time it takes to teach our children responsibility promises a multiplicitous future return for both parents and children. In effect, putting age-appropriate responsibility on our kids’ shoulders as they grow imbues them with not only practical ability but confidence, integrity, compassion, and a solid work ethic that they will carry into other arenas as well.

Young toddlers can be taught to clean up their things by making a game of sorting and putting away their toys. A cheer in celebration of success goes a long way.

Toddlers can also assist mom or dad in unloading the dishwasher (minus, perhaps, the knives), putting wet clothes into the dryer, cleaning up a spill, turning out the lights, and fluffing the pillows. Children at this stage generally love to help out and be involved in the work of the household. This introduces them to specific tasks and sends the message that they are capable and can help. 

Young school-aged children can begin to be assigned certain recurring responsibilities, like clearing plates after a meal, cleaning their room, dusting, wiping sinks and countertops, sweeping the floor, or feeding a pet. 

Introducing a fun chore chart to establish the habit can be helpful at this stage.

As children get older, they can be taught to vacuum, prepare meals, do laundry, organize spaces, wash cars, load and unload the dishwasher, take out the garbage, weed the garden, bring in the mail, and general cleaning tasks.

As time goes on, parents may choose to compensate their children for specific, completed tasks—establishing the concept that work can lead to reward.

Eventually, kids can learn to manage their own calendar, their own bank account, their nutritional intake, their fitness, their sleep, and so on. Perhaps they can take on a volunteer position, a job outside the home, or even start their own business.

Viewing the family as a team that works together, supports one another, and takes responsibility for all facets of life is a positive picture to paint for your children.

Ultimately, a young adult heading off to college or out on his or her own can do so with confidence that they have what it takes to take care of themselves and those around them. They can then focus on large aims for their life and future and very likely thrive as a self-sufficient, hard working, caring adult.

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