Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summertime Essentials for Families

I can hear the voices of your children now. The sweet sound of bees whirring about whilst your children play endlessly in the balmy heat. They are in their visions of heaven. No teachers, no homework, no responsibilities, with the exception of their family chores. They are perfectly behaved and eager to please mommy and daddy. They are content to play on the swings all day long or in front of their beloved video games. Teenagers are out with their friends, going to the water slides and getting into all sorts of innocent mischief. They are never tired, always enchanted.

Well, maybe in the story books. In real life, children are bored easily. I recall when my son was small and all he wanted to do was lay about and yell, "mahhh" for drink service. Don't misunderstand me, he did enjoy to play, but after a while, that two months was almost too much for him. I recall his huffs and puffs of distress as he tried to figure out what to do on those warm long days. He needed entertainment.

Consider these options to help your kids beat the summer babuska blahs.

1) Take your child to Chapters Book Store - allow your children to run rampant in their book department! Let them show you their favorite stories and ask them to read the books to you. Indulge them in their favorite magazines, short stories, novels and pop up books. Get creative with them and let their imaginations run wild. Read a choice or two in the store, and then purchase a selection for outdoor reading.

2) Have a reading picnic at the park. Bring a blanket, a choice of snacks and refreshments and the book that you have chosen to read outside. This story is special for you and your child as you will create a wonderful memory while lying down under your favorite tree. It is a magical experience. At the park that my son and I frequented, there was a giant tree to sit under, a big lake that he could fish for trout in and a large water park. There was much fun to be had and on top of it, it was within walking distance of our home. Choose your place to share, even if it is in your own back yard.

3) Purchase a selection of English enhancement workbooks. There are many wonderful practice books available today for all grades, and all educational levels that can help improve Language Arts over the summer months. Again, make it fun by choosing books that include games and puzzles. Kids love anything where there is an opportunity to play and word games such as Boggle, Scrabble, Word Search, and Mad Libs are great sources of family fun and entertainment.

4) Join day camps. Most communities have a variety of single day, or weekly day camps that are inexpensive and offered at local schools or community centers. Science camps and Geography Hunts are great fun for children of all ages. When you receive your child's report card, look for information bulletins or check Craig's List, or Kijiji for listings outside of the community centers.

5) Hire a tutor. Help your child or teenager prepare for the following year by hiring a personal tutor for the summer months. Private tutoring is more affordable than ever with tuition starting as little as $20 for online classes and between $25-45 for in home one on one sessions. Ask for referrals from your friends or look online for professional tutors in your area. Consider getting a group of neighbors together for a group dynamic. There are some fantastic tutors available during the summer months. It can be the perfect opportunity for your family to gain advancement in their educational goals and to have fun at the same time.

6) When you see your child or teenager doing independent study, admire what they are doing from a distance. Yes, it is true. Ignore them. Let them continue what they are doing, without feeling like they are being watched. Even praise can discourage some children from continuing with this positive behavior, as they often become self conscious and don't wish to appear like they are abnormal. They believe that their friends are not studying, but playing. Careful not to ruin their image! Respectfully, if you have a child that loves to study and does so all of the time, by all means, remind them of what a wonderful thing they are doing. The older the children get, the more important this advise. Simply smile and carry on with your day.

7) Think of yourself as Home School Parents. Offer opportunities for your children to learn new things by introducing them to different experiences. Teach them skills, any kind of skill will do including sewing, word work, auto repair, whatever you have time to teach. Another idea is to discuss or visit different places, take the kids to museums, churches, parks, historical buildings or any where that a young person can experience something outside of their regular activities. It is so much fun for the entire family.

8) Find interesting Youtube videos of sailing, shark hunting, Australia, outer space, bugs, concerts, sporting events, explore various occupations, and do virtual tours of caves, land masses, and whatever else you may find unusual. Invite your kids to watch along with you and to write about what they would do if they were visiting such places. Let imaginations run wild!

9) As a project for older youth, have your child do a historical dive into your home, or family tree, and have them practice researching information. It is a great opportunity to learn about the area you live in and it can be great to find out who resided in your home. Another idea, is to research a soldier from your town and learn about his or her family. The bridges of community are built on shared experiences. A great task and sometimes one that creates big surprises.

10) Relax and have a blast with your kids. Time goes so quickly that we forget that our kids only stay kids for a little while. Be present with them as much as possible. Watch them learn and be part of the experience. You will be glad you did.

Enjoy your summer and have fun. I invite you to visit for a variety of English support materials suitable for students of all ages. I welcome your comments, suggestions or any questions you may have.

Cathy Holmes
Right Choice Educational Programs
& Tutoring Services

Monday, June 13, 2011

Making the Most of Change

Change is inevitable. It is a wonderful thing when we accept it. Change is not always an easy transition but it can bring out the best in people. When we look at change as an opportunity to learn, we can find the best in ourselves.

Learning a new language or skill is difficult. Recently, I have been trying to learn how to expand my computer literacy. There is so much to learn.

Everyone wants to upgrade an aspect of their lives. Here are some key elements that will help you to make the journey a little bit easier.

1) Surrender. Understand that learning anything new is a process and it takes time to do well regardless of the task.

2) Create mini goals. What would you specifically like to accomplish just today? Yes, you would like to be an expert at your new skill, but expertise is a time driven relationship. Today, simply focus on the mini task and watch as the skills become cumulative.

3) Immerse yourself in the process. Become a little bit obsessive compulsive but don't get too carried away. A healthy dose of compulsion can assist you to acquire the knowledge you need to succeed. If it becomes too much, step back and evaluate your reasons for learning the task in the first place and be sure to be accountable for the choices in your endeavors.

4) Prepare to change course. Sometimes you find that what you are learning leads you into a new direction. Be open to the changes and the growth opportunity!

5) Have faith. We become what we most focus on and when our energy is focused, the results we want to achieve are within grasp. Faith in your ability is the most important thing. You can learn this task or language. You can.

6) Ask for help. People are always willing to give you a hand if you ask them. Think about the people in your life and reach out to them for assistance. When someone knows that you want to learn and that you are open to help they are willing to provide their expertise and input. Be gracious and allow them to help you see things another way.

7) Take risks. You can't know if you don't try. Jump into a task with both feet. Don't look back and second guess yourself. Keep your goals forward. You will never succeed unless you put yourself on the line and try. Worst case scenario is not trying at all! The old saying "nothing ventured, nothing gained" holds true! It is better to give yourself a chance to see what you can do, than to give up before you have given any time to the plan.

8) Smile. Wow you are amazing. If you are searching to be a better person by learning a new language, task, or trying something for the first time, you are stronger than most of the people on the planet. Many people won't try to do anything new. Allow yourself the wonder of the adventure. Your smile will make even the toughest task effortless.

9) Share. Teach what you know to someone and you will be amazed at the influence that you create in others. Everyone has a story, a talent and an ability that is valuable to another. It is a great honor to share experiences with others and you never know who you will influence.

10) Try, try again. Be persistent! Keep trying even when you think that you can't go any further, try again. You will be surprised when you give things another try! Give it a go!

Change creates the opportunity for self reflection and routes us into new ways of seeing the world.

Need a hand with learning something new? I invite you to give me a call or drop me a line. I am happy to help.

Cathy Holmes
Right Choice Educational Programs