Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Helping Kids Sleep Better: The Overlooked Crucial Key to Grades and School Success

American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates that 1 in 3 kids are sleep-deprived  /Source

School success impacts our children for the rest of their life: it influences their self-esteem, college selections, job attainment, financial success, and even their choice of spouses. It’s no wonder we go to such great lengths to try and give our kids an academic edge. But despite our good intentions we often overlook a simple strategy that impacts academic success—making sure our kids are getting enough zzz’s.
Research shows that a lack of sleep can have a serious impact on children’s abilities to learn, focus and perform at school. In fact, a study from the University of British Columbia found that sleep deprivation can hinder neuron growth in the brain during teen years, a critical time for cognitive development. As of this writing schools or schools districts in 21 states have instituted delayed start times to let teens sleep longer.
REALITY CHECK: Tel Aviv University researchers found that missing just one hour of sleep can be enough to reduce a child’s cognitive abilities by almost two years the next day. For example, a sixth grader who loses precious zzz’s the night before a big test could end up performing at a fourth grade level. Is your child getting enough sleep?
A 2011 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that a mere 7.6% of teens get the recommended 9 to 10 hours of sleep, 23.5% get eight hours and 38.7% are seriously sleep-deprived at six or fewer hours a night. What’s more almost 90 percent of their parents believe their kids are getting enough sleep, even though they’re not.
The result of sleep deprivation? Kids who are more likely to be cranky, irritable, hyper, moody, have chronic headaches, as well lower grades and test scores and trouble focusing in school.
Here are surprisingly simple solutions that every parent should have in their toolbox to improve their kids’ academic success as they head back to school. The trick is to create a bedtime routine tailored to your child’s unique temperament, body clock and sleep needs, and then stick to it.

8 Tips to Help Kids Get a Good Night’s Sleep 

Set a regular bedtime schedule

Identify your child’s sleep needs, then announce the bedtime hour and stick to it. Research finds that parents who don’t enforce a regular bedtime experience have kids with more nighttime disturbances.

Sync your kid’s body clock to the schedule

Plan ahead to help your child’s sleep schedule during weekends or vacation be in sync with the school schedule. If the new bedtime is more than one hour different you may need to gradually phase in the new sleep times to help your child adjust.
Shortening the bedtime by twenty minutes each night might help just as you would when traveling to adjust your body clock to another time zone. Beware: the process can take several days to several weeks.

Start bedtime prep earlier

Begin the “getting ready” process at least 20 to 30 minutes before lights-out. The wind-down time helps calm the child and gets you out of the battle. For younger children try hanging a picture chart showing the sequence of bedtime events such as light snack, bath, pajamas, brush teeth, bedtime story, prayers, say goodnight. Then stick to that same nightly routine every night until it becomes a habit.

Create wind-down rituals

Many kids are so wired from stress, exercising, studying or cramped schedules that it’s tough for them to drift off when the lights go out. If your child needs time to wind-down time, add it into the nighttime schedule.
Those old rituals (taking a warm bath, writing in a journal, taking a shower, reading, sipping warm milk) do help prepare kids’ bodies for a better night’s sleep. The trick is to help your child discover what works for him, and then do the same ritual every night to help him relax.

Revise the nighttime schedule

Educate an older child about sleep stealers and then encourage her to revise her schedule so she gets a better night’s rest. Start by asking: “How many hours do you think you need for a good night’s sleep? Okay, then let’s think of ways to help you get those hours.”

Turn off flashing images

Flashing images affect REM, so be sure to turn off the computer, video games and television at least thirty minutes prior to bedtime. Tell your teen: “Turn off the computer or TV screen at least a half hour before bedtime. Those flicking lights signal to your brain to stay alert.”

Halt those energy drinks!

Tell your teen, “Those energy drinks help you now but they’ll also keep you awake at night.”
Or: “What time do you think you should stop drinking that cola?”
Also, watch out for known caffeinated sleep stealers like cold medications, coffee or chocolate.

Hide that cell!

Take away your kids’ cell phones during nighttime hours. Sixty two percent of kids admit they text or talk after the lights go out and their parents are clueless.
Kids who get enough sleep are not only more likely to function better and are less likely to be moody or act out.
All the more reasons to get your kid on a good sleep routine.

Halloween Safety Tips

Spookiest day of the year!
The following lists of Halloween safety tips are not to scare you from going trick or treating. They are here because we all want our TOT'ers to have a safe and memorable Halloween.
What a great holiday! You get to dress up in a really cool costume. Go door to door, begging for candy. Go home and gorge yourself in candy heaven! Ah, what a great tradition!
Just because trick or treating is not what it used to be doesn't mean that it still can't make great memories providing that we follow a few basic Halloween safety rules.
Make this holiday a fun, safe, and happy time for your kids with these Halloween safety tips and they'll carry on the tradition that you taught them to their own families some day!

Trick or Treating Safety Tips

Remember the following Halloween safety tips for trick or treating.
Make sure all the TOT'ers and their escorts have flashlights. Flashlights will help you see better and to be more visible to cars and others. Make sure you have fresh batteries. Flashlights will help you see items in your path when walking on the sidewalk. Flashlights will help in locating items if you drop them. Other great alternatives to flashlights are glowsticks and reflective tape on costumes and trick or treat bags. Carry cell phones or coins for telephones so you can call home if needed. Teach children their home phone number and to how call 9-1-1 if they have an emergency or become lost. Remind them that 9-1-1 can be dialed free from any phone.
Plan your route and communicate with your group where you are going. Establish a beginning, middle and end point in case any members of the group get lost.
Stay in familiar neighborhoods. Only go to houses that have the outside lights on. Do NOT enter homes or apartments unless you are accompanied by an adult. Stay in well lighted areas. Don't cut through back alleys and fields. Stay in populated places and don't go off the beaten track. TOT'ers should stay together as a group if going out without an adult. Stay away from and don't pet animals that you don't know.
Young children should always be accompanied by an adult or an older, responsible child. All TOT'ers should walk, don't run from house to house. Don't cut across yards or lawns. There may be Halloween props and wires where you could trip and get hurt.  Don't walk in the middle of the street.  Stay on the sidewalks. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road facing traffic. Obey traffic and pedestrian signals . Don't hide or run out from between parked cars. NEVER get into a stranger's car. Cross only at street corners. Look both ways before crossing the street. Don't assume the right of way. Just because one car stops doesn't mean the next one will.
Remove any mask or item that will limit your eyesight before crossing the street or while walking from house to house. Wear a watch you can read in the dark. Keep away from open fires and candles (costumes can be extremely flammable).

Halloween Costume Safety Tips

Here's some great Halloween safety tips for costumes to make it a very safe Halloween.
Help your child pick out or make a costume that will be safe. Purchase or make costumes that are light and bright to be clearly visible to motorists. Use reflective tape that will glow in a light beam as costume trim and decorations. Reflective tape is usually available in Walmart, Target, hardware, bicycle, and sporting goods stores.
When purchasing costumes and accessories, look for the label flame resistant or fire retardant. This label does not guarantee that the costumes won't catch fire but they will resist from burning and be able to extinguish quickly. To minimize the risk of contact with jack o'lantern flames and other candles, avoid big, billowy costumes. Costumes should be loose enough so that warm clothing can be worn underneath. Review with your children the principle of "Stop-Drop-Roll", should their clothes catch on fire.
Make sure costumes don't drag on the ground.  Knives, swords, scythes, pitchforks or other costume props should be soft and flexible enough should they trip and fall on them.
Avoid oversized shoes, high heels and long skirts or pants that could cause a child to trip and fall. Shoes should fit or stay secure on the foot.
The eye holes in masks should be large enough for good peripheral vision. Make sure that the mask does restrict breathing. Parents should try on the mask themselves. If it's uncomfortable or heavy on the face, chances are your child won't want to wear the mask either. Hats and scarves should be tied securely to prevent them from slipping over children's eyes.
If a child wears makeup, parents should look for non-toxic, hypoallergenic makeup kits. Check for packages containing ingredients that are labeled "Made with U.S. Approved Color Additives," "Laboratory Tested," "Meets Federal Standards for Cosmetics," or "Non-Toxic." Follow manufacturer's instruction for application.
An extra special Halloween safety tip is to secure emergency identification (name, address, phone number) discreetly within Halloween attire or on a bracelet in case the younger ones get separated from their group.

Halloween Candy Safety

Children shouldn't snack while they're trick-or-treating. Warn children not to eat any treats before an adult has carefully examined them for evidence of tampering. Though tampering is rare, closely look for signs of tampering such as small pinholes in wrappers and torn or loose packages. Throw away any spoiled or suspicious items.
Parents of small children should get rid of choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys.
The best Halloween safety tip for candy is "when in doubt, throw it out".

Safety Tips for Parents

Who would ever think of serving your kids a filling meal before they go trick or treating as a good Halloween safety tip. You'll have a better chance of them bringing it home for you to inspect.

Ideally, young children of any age should be accompanied by an adult. If you can't take them, see if another parent or a teen aged sibling can go along. You should know the route of where they're going.
Older children should know where to reach you. Set a time limit of when they should be home. Make sure they know the importance of being home on time.

Explain to children the difference between tricks and vandalism. Make sure they understand to not destroy other people's property. This could ruin Halloween for you and others. If they are caught vandalizing, make them clean up the mess and pay for any damages themselves.
Explain to your kids that animal cruelty is not acceptable. Kids may know this on their own but peer pressure can be a bad thing. Make sure that they know that harming animals is not only morally wrong but punishable by law and will not be tolerated.
Reinforce to your kids basic everyday Halloween safety tips such as, not getting into cars, talking to strangers, watching both ways before crossing streets, crossing when the lights tell you to.
Watch how much candy they eat when they get home. Too much can lead to stomach aches and indigestion. They will probably pretty wired on the "sugar fix" and not want to go to bed.
Have children get out of cars on the curb side, not on the traffic side.
Let your child have some say in their costume, within reason of course. Some clothing may be great inside at a party, but use common sense when they are outside in fall air (and in some areas, winter weather).

Safety Tips for Adults

All adults whether they have trick or treaters or not should also follow these Halloween safety tips.
Parents and adults should ensure the safety of pedestrian TOT's.
Remind all household drivers to drive slowly throughout the neighborhood. Watch for children in the street, darting between parked cars, and on medians. Exit driveways and alleyways carefully. Watch for children in dark clothing. Children are likely to choose the shortest route rather then the safest.
Take extra effort to eliminate tripping hazards on your porch, steps, and walkway. Check around your property for flower pots, low tree limbs, garden hoses, toys or bikes that may prove hazardous to young children rushing from house to house.
Remember Halloween safety tips can be for your pets as well. Confine, segregate or otherwise prepare household pets for an evening of frightful sights and sounds. Be sure that all dogs and cats are wearing collars and proper identification tags in case they get out of the house or yard.
Consider fire safety when decorating. Candlelit jack-o'-lanterns should be kept well away from porches and doorsteps where costumes could brush against the flame. Battery powered jack o'lantern candles are preferable to a real flame.
If using inflatable lawn decorations, place them off the walkway leading to your front door. Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
I know that this is a pretty hefty Halloween safety tips list.
But it's our trick or treaters. Let's keep them safe!
Happy Haunting!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Apps for Happy Haunting

Make 2012 your best Halloween yet with some of our favorite new apps for a spectacularly spooky holiday!

Apps for children- and parents- for a safe and fun Halloween.   Thank you webroot for the fun treat. 

Keeping kids safe

While trick-or-treaters should always be accompanied by an adult, the Trick or Tracker app is a great tool for keeping tabs of your older kids' whereabouts as they head out on Halloween night.
If you're home on doorbell duty this year, just install the app on both your phone and your child's phone. Synch them up by entering the same password on both devices, and you're all set. The app can now pinpoint your child's exact location via GPS technology, and you can rest easy knowing exactly what your little goblin is up to.

I ain't afraid of no ghost

If you're not a fan of trick-or-treating (or just don't have any candy-grubbing kiddos around), why not gather up your own ghoulish gang of buddies and head out on a good old-fashioned ghost hunt? With paranormal activity apps like Ghost Meter and Entity Sensor Pro, all the hypothetically haunted houses, abandoned plots and spooky stairwells you've ever wondered about suddenly come to life to scare the pants off of you and your friends.
While some apps claim to effectively measure changes in the electromagnetic field like their real-world counterparts, most of these programs are just for fun. Add some authenticity to your chase with the help of Ghost Guide USA, which touts thousands of historic haunted places and location-based urban legends, conveniently mapped out for your haunting pleasure.

Make a run for it

Need some motivation for burning off those extra candy calories? Just lace up your sneakers and download Zombies, run! for your iPhone or Android device—no blunt weapons required.
This unique, story-driven fitness app aims to get you in shape by putting the undead on your trail in a series of post-apocalyptic missions. When the zombies start to close in, your app let's you know—pick up the pace to avoid getting bit and becoming their next meal. While it's a littler pricier than some other fitness apps, it's a fun and totally unique way to get motivated and get moving.

Spook-proof security

Nothing's scarier than a personal data breach and all the digital carnage it can leave behind. That's why the most essential app you can download this Halloween is the Webroot Mobile Security apps for your Android or iOS devices!
Shop securely and block malicious sites with the Webroot Secure Web Browser for your iPhone and iPad or protect personal information from ghastly mobile threats with Webroot® SecureAnywhere™ Mobile, voted one of PCWorld's Best Free Android Apps of 2011.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tricks to Help Learn the Facts

The 9 Times Quickie
1.Hold your hands in front of you with your fingers spread out.
2.For 9 X 3 bend your third finger down. (9 X 4 would be the fourth finger etc.)
3.You have 2 fingers in front of the bent finger and 7 after the bent finger
4.Thus the answer must be 27
5.This technique works for the 9 times tables up to 10.

The 4 Times Quickie
1.If you know how to double a number, this one is easy.
2.Simply, double a number and then double it again!

The 11 Times Rule #1
1.Take any number to 10 and multiply it by 11.
2.Multiply 11 by 3 to get 33, multiply 11 by 4 to get 44. Each number to 10 is just duplicated.

The 11 Times Rule #2
1.Use this strategy for two digit numbers only.
2.Multiply 11 by 18. Jot down 1 and 8 with a space between it. 1 --8.
3.Add the 8 and the 1 and put that number in the middle: 198

Deck 'Em!
1.Use a deck of playing cards for a game of Multiplication War.
2.Initially, children may need the grid (below) to become quick at the answers.
3.Flip over the cards as though you are playing Snap.
4.The first one to say the fact based on the cards turned over (a four and a five = Say "20") gets the cards.
5.The person to get all of the cards wins!
6.Children learn their facts much more quickly when playing this game on a regular basis.

Seeing the Patterns

1.Use a multiplication grid or let your students/children create one.
2.Look carefully at all of the patterns, especially when the numbers correspond with the facts e.g., 7X8 and 8X7 = 56
3.Let students/children practice the 'fast adding' which is what multiplication is.
4.When students can count by 3s, 4s, 5s 6s, etc. they will automatically know their multiplication tables.

This article is taken from

Tricks to Get Out of the Homework Pits


Tricks to Get Out of the Homework Pits

And Treats That Got You There

 by Jennifer Benoit

 There are many reasons that you get into the Homework Pits.  We're going to cover a few of the most popular ones and some potential solutions for your family.  Pits come and go in homework and often show up at the beginning of the year or semester and at the end of the year or semester.  Sometimes when a student thinks she's got her grade "in the bag," homework can tend to slide.  See the treats that lead to the pits below.

  • PIT #1:  Student “forgets” to bring homework home either on purpose...or not

    • Communicate what you expect from your child

    • Continue to keep contact with the teacher.  Ask the teacher to check the homework folder and backpack each day.  This may be a stretch for the teacher, but it is possible in very difficult situations

    • Set the homework time early every day and return to school if you have forgotten it before school closes.

    • Check the backpack with the child as soon as they get in the car or get off the bus.  This bottomless pit can be an empy pit at times!

    • Provide positive reinforcements when a child improves.  Keep a Success Calendar that keeps track of homework brought home and give a small reward when one week, two weeks, three weeks, have been reached.  This could be as small as staying up 15 extra minutes at night or watching a favorite movie on the weekend.

    • Give consequences if it is intentional.  This is a parent’s call.  Often a child needs to have something taken away or a privilege denied if she is refusing to bring homework home, but before any consequences, be sure you talk with the teacher and your child about trying to solve the problem first.  Maybe your child can’t get it together fast enough to remember everything.  Maybe he doesn’t like homework because he thinks he’s stupid.  Many of these behaviors have a root issue.

    • Have a strategy meeting with teacher (and student).  This can happen at any level…and should ALWAYS involve the child for most if not all of the meeting.  Teachers want students to succeed too and will often work their hardest to help make a plan that works…even if it is more work for them.

    • Get a weekly progress report from the teacher.  No matter what level, if a student knows the parent is going to check up on them, it does inspire some action.

  • PIT #2:  Student Refuses to Do Homework

    • Discuss why with your student.  Maybe it doesn’t make sense.  Maybe it isn’t relevant in the student’s mind.  Maybe they just don’t want to bother.  Most of the time, though, in my experience, it is one of three things for older students.

  1. The student is not confident in the material or she has a failing or close to failing grade and has given up.

  2. The student does not understand the relevance of the homework and will “never use it.”  It is hard to deal with this logic, but helping your student recognize that grade point averages matter may help.

  3. The student is angry and rebelling for some reason and is showing it this way.  Many times if a student feels stupid or is angry about other issues, homework goes undone as they try and handle the stresses.  Talking with the teacher and guidance counselor may uncover some stresses parents don’t know about.

  • Strategy Meeting with Teacher – Always strategize with the teacher at any age when homework is undone.

  • PIT #3:  Student does sloppy homework

    • Make your expectations high.  Don’t accept sloppy work from your child.  I had students redo until it looked respectable.  This will follow in life.

    • Suggest using technology.  Sometimes handwriting is a real issue with children so typing assignments are better ideas.  Talk with your child’s teacher about this.

    • Provide positive support and encouragement, but also consequences.  Not being able to watch their show until it is acceptable can work well.

  • PIT #4:  Student consistently demands help in order to complete homework

    • Tell your student you know she can work on it alone.

    • Be conveniently “busy” in another room with a task that you can’t interrupt.

    • Reward good, honest effort with help.  Once she shows you she has tried it, help her.

    • Break the assignment into manageable tasks.  Sometimes students don’t know HOW to get started on assignments.  Be sure you break it down with them and review the directions if you need it.

    • Don’t give in.  I know it is sometimes easier said than done, but it will only get worse if you keep helping them every time they ask.