This year, Lollaland has partnered with Raising a Reader to promote the development, practice, and maintenance of home literacy routines. At Lollaland, we are all about routines as well, and we do our best to encourage routines around family mealtime. Lollaland is excited to be donating 15% of our profits from any of our mealtime pieces to Raising a Reader, so please consider bringing our microwaveable, US-made plates, bowls, and dipping cups into your home and supporting children's literacy!
As millions of children across the U.S. end their summer vacations and head back to school, parents are getting ready to ease their kids back into the school-year routine of homework, extracurricular activities and going to bed at a reasonable hour. Raising A Reader, a national nonprofit organization that provides resources and guidance for families to implement home-based literacy routines, suggests as part of that routine, parents work in regular time to share books with their children above-and-beyond their required schoolwork.
Research shows that the time caring adults spend sharing books with children has a direct relationship on their academic success. Whether building background knowledge and vocabulary, comprehension skills, social and communication skills or reinforcing the idea that reading is not just something associated with school, home book-sharing routines are essential to childrens’ success.
“During the school year, many families become so consumed with schoolwork that the habit of sharing books for pleasure seems like an unnecessary distraction,” said Gabrielle Miller, Ed.D., president and CEO of Raising A Reader. “Parents need to remember it is more important than ever to find a few minutes each day to keep the reading habit alive. Aside from the innumerable cognitive, academic and social benefits, children begin to understand that reading for pleasure actually helps improve their success in school and in life.
Here are some tips for parents to make reading a larger part of the school year:
Raising A Reader is a 501c3 charitable organization dedicated to helping families develop, practice and maintain literacy habits for children ages 0-8 that are critical for a child’s success in school and in life. The program is evidence-based, with more than 32 independent evaluations showing that Raising A Reader significantly improves language and literacy skills, cognitive development, communication and comprehension skills, school readiness and social competence. Raising A Reader is implemented through a network of community partners that comprise more than 2,500 locations across the country including public school systems, libraries, afterschool programs, community agencies and other organizations both public and private. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, Raising A Reader was founded in 1999 and has served more than 1.25 million families nationwide. More information is available at RaisingAReader.org, @RARnational (Twitter) and RaisingAReaderNational (Facebook).
My daughters' preschool has a vegetable/fruit garden that the children water and maintain. The teachers encourage the kids to pick the fruit and the leaves and try it all. The first time I saw my daughter walk by the garden, tear off a piece of swiss chard, and eat it, I was horrified. The germaphobe in me wanted to bat it out of her hand and wash it first. BUT I resisted, because I realized how amazing it is that she is open to trying these incredibly healthy greens. I have zero time/energy to maintain a vegetable garden, but I wish I did, because it is so amazing to see children take so much pride in growing vegetables, harvesting them, and eating them. What better way to spark a child's interest in food, than by having them grow it themselves?
A good friend of mine shared this easy recipe with me over the weekend, and I cannot wait to make it. I just have to get to the grocery store . . . Kale is one of those vegetables that I don't remember eating until I was in college. My girls, however, seem to enjoy it. I've made them kale chips, and they love it. I've made kale soup, and they gobble it up. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this one. Who doesn't like fried rice?
I was talking to a good friend of mine who said she "lost it" one afternoon and told her 4-year-old to "shut up." Before I became a parent myself, I may have judged her or thought, "how could she?" BUT after having children, I now know that parenting can bring out the best and worst in us. As a mom, I have my glory days when everything seems to fall into place, I have a smile on my face, the kids are happy and well-rested, and I feel like super mom. Then there are those days where I'm throwing random food into their lunch bags as we run out the door, piles of dirty laundry are strewn about the house, and all I hear is whining. How many of you agree with me when I say that parenting has redefined the notion of being pushed to the limit?
I have to admit, I am a bit of a control freak, and I'm pretty certain that's why I had such a hard time adjusting to motherhood in the beginning. Sleep deprivation coupled with uncertainty and the unknown was not a good combo for me. All these things became stressors and when I am stressed, my body responds with an eczema flare up.
One time my eczema was so bad, and I was so sick of treating it with steroid creams that I resorted to seeing a hypnotist. I can't say that it did much for me, but one exercise she suggested that I want to revisit and practice with my daughters is keeping a gratitude journal. The hypnotherapist gave me a small notebook and pen to keep by my bed and every night, before going to bed, I would jot down 3 things I was grateful for. The thinking behind this simple exercise is that you go to sleep with positive thoughts in your mind. How great would it be to do this with our children? As rough as some days can be, what better way to end the day than by being grateful and teaching our children that there is so much to be grateful for each and every day!
I attended a Sip-and-See this past weekend and was reminded why I like these types of showers so much. First, you get to meet, hold, and gush over the new baby. My second, more selfish reason, is that it's such a nice outing for me (sans children and husband): chatting with friends, enjoying good food and drinks, and engaging in lots of laughter. What could be better?
As the new mother opened gifts, her mother (the baby's grandmother), gifted something that blew my mind (and inspired me to blog about it). A close neighbor of the grandmother had hand-knitted a beautiful ensemble as a gift for her when she had her daughter back in the 70s. It included a beautiful white dress, romper, bonnet, and matching blanket. My friend actually sported this adorable outfit as a child! Well, the grandma had kept this whole set in mint condition (I didn't know it was possible for fabric to stay so white!) and packaged it beautifully to present to her daughter and new granddaughter at this sip-and-see. It literally brought me to tears. It was such a thoughtful gift, and it was just another reminder how much mothers (and fathers) love us and think so deeply about their children.
I came home and began thinking about what I would want to pass on to my own daughters at their sip-and-see's. The whole concept of family heirlooms and family traditions is so special. They stand for so many things - the immense love and caring within a family, family values and culture, a family's beliefs and ideals, their history, etc. I come from an immigrant family that's been uprooted several times, and I feel like a lot of "stuff" has gotten lost with each big move. Yes, I grew up hearing amazing stories and seeing photos, but I don't have much in the way of tangible heirlooms or even traditions. I am determined to start my own traditions with my family and maybe one day, my daughters' kids will be blogging about their own beautiful family traditions and heirlooms.
Well, I got the following idea from someone in a Parent Ed. class I attended when my daughter was a newborn, and the reason I love it and have been able to follow-through with this particular tradition is because I love everything about the Christmas holiday. So, I buy 1 ornament for each daughter every Christmas and label it with a tag noting the year and why I chose that particular ornament. The plan is to have a complete "collection" of ornaments (that tell great stories) to present to my daughters as a wedding/shower gift.
Do you have any favorite family traditions or any ideas for those wanting to start their own? I'd love to hear what other families are doing!
When we are in the throes of manufacturing lollacups, I spend quite a bit of time in the car, driving to and from our factories. One day, I was listening to a "marketplace" segment on NPR that was fascinating. The discussion was about, "Why more athletes are choosing to sport eyewear." I really have no interest in this particular topic, but the whole discussion really spoke to me.
Apparently the NBA star, Lebron James, wears non-prescription eyeglasses, and Harvard economist Roland Fryer explains the reason as a 'two-audience signaling mechanism.' As Fryer puts it, "These guys are saying to one audience, 'Hey I'm here, I'm an athlete.' To the other one, 'Look at my glasses, look at the way I'm dressed, look at the way I carry myself -- I can promote your product.'"
This idea of a signaling mechanism intrigued me. Prof. Roland Fryer went on to talk about one of his colleagues who admitted to dying his hair gray to be taken more seriously by his students.
I began to wonder if I have any signaling mechanisms? By blow-drying my hair and putting on makeup before a playdate, am I signaling to other moms that I have my life together? On the rare occasion that I'm dressed up and wearing heels and stop into Target to pick up a prescription with my 2 kids in tow, do people perceive that I am waltzing through parenthood and making time to primp?
The scenarios kept running through my head, until I realized that oftentimes, I do what I do because I truly do want to be "that person." When I walk into a business meeting, serious but smiling and dressed to the nines in 4-inch heels, I really do want those people to think I am fully capable of achieving and doing it well.
One thing I cannot live without is under-eye concealer. I feel like it instantly makes me look and feel well-rested. I am, by no means, well-rested, but I really do wish I were and for now, to signal to others that I have had a good night's sleep is fine by me. Maybe I'm not really understanding the gist of the radio segment I was so affected by, but perhaps "signaling mechanisms" are the best form of motivation. Perhaps one day I will make sleep a priority. To begin with, I will try "signaling" to my children that I am in full control of each and every situation, and perhaps, they will buy it!
Before I went to bed last night, I was on latimes.com and read a headline about a six-year-old girl who drowned in her family's swimming pool during Memorial Day festivities. I googled it to get the whole scoop and found a brief article about the incident on ABC7.com. Can you imagine the heartache and profound loss that family is experiencing right now?
The timing was uncanny, but my daughters started swim lessons today - not because I'm starting them young on a path to become olympians, but because we live in S. California and they are around swimming pools quite a bit. My girls are 3 and 4, so by the end of the swim course, the instructor said they should be able to put their heads underwater, open their eyes, and "swim" to the nearest wall or step. This is really all they need - survival skills. Incidents like the one that happened in La Canada on Memorial Day should remind us all to be on hyper-alert when our children are remotely near bodies of water. Remember to talk to your kids about water safety and always keep these important reminders from the Red Cross in mind.
My first job after graduating from college was as a teacher in a residential school for children with autism. I was a young, bright-eyed college graduate, who thought she would make a major impact on childrens' lives through this job. The job impacted me much more than I impacted those children, I'm sure, and that year was one of the most challenging and eye-opening years of my life.
When I learned that April 2, 2012 is World Autism Awareness Day, I just had to blog about it. I was shocked to read that the prevalence of autism has now climbed to a staggering 1 in 88 children in the U.S. Autism is essentially an epidemic at this point. It is one of those disorders that is so perplexing to me. I remember watching a touching documentary that profiled families who have children with autism. The most striking part of the documentary was when a mother tearfully described the moment she felt her son "slip away." She described her perfect baby boy hitting all his milestones and suddenly, at age 3, simply turning off - Her son no longer made eye contact, virtually stopped speaking, and entered an "other" world of repetition and seclusion.
If you or someone you know has a child with autism, please think of him/her today. If anything, take a moment to familiarize yourself with Autism. I like the website, AutismSpeaks.org.