8 Sneaky Ways to Get Your Kiddo Writing

Do you want to get your kiddo writing at home?  Maybe you want to reinforce skills from school or need a quiet-time activity at home.  Writing is a great activity for filling wait time at restaurants or during travel.

 

Some kiddos dread the thought of writing.  They’ll do anything to avoid it.  Here are nine sneaky ways to get your kiddo writing NOW.

 

1. Grocery list

Ask your hungry guy or gal to write down desired snacks for your next grocery run.  Worried this will lead to Twinkies and Cheetos? Put a little thought into it ahead of time to write down categories.  Try a fruit, veggie, and junk food category. Don’t accept the list until the fruits and veggies outnumber the junk.  Throw in a math challenge by giving a budget.  Your kiddo can probably go online to look up prices from your favorite grocery store

 

2. Email

Send an email to a trusted friend or family member.

 

3. Card

 Make or buy a card for a special occasion or just because.  

 

4. Text Conversation

Encourage texting with a close adult friend or family member.  Bonus points if you convince the child that the receiver doesn’t understand abbreviations and text talk: All words need to be written out. Ask the other grown-up to help reinforce that by playing dumb.

 

5. Comic

Drawing is writing and thinking.  Think about ancient hieroglyphics and modern picture-based languages.  There are now novels spanning hundreds of pages that are almost entirely pictures.  Encourage your kiddos to express and develop their ideas in comic form. If you definitely want to see words and sentences, add the expectation of a speech bubble or caption.

 

6. Gift list

 In our world of kid-targeted marketing, you must hear an endless chorus of “Can I have this?” or “I want that!”  Ask your child to maintain a written wish list of items or experiences. For extra writing, ask for a why.

 

7. Calendar

Calendar/schedule: Two for the price of one! Filling out a calendar with upcoming activities will not only practice writing, but also help your kiddo develop organization skills.  Bonus points for trying e-calendars: We want to model meaningful, productive use of technology, not only use for entertainment.

 

8. Take out order

Ordering take out?  Ask your kiddo to collect each family member’s order and write it down. Now you’ll have a handy reference sheet before you make the call.

9 Reasons to Switch to Ebooks

I know. I get it. Me too.

I’d much rather hold the pages of the book, turn each page, and feel the weight of the book in my hands. I’d rather annotate in the sidelines, highlight the way I want, and stick in Post-It notes at my will.

I’ve gotten over it.  Here are the top 9 reasons I’m using an e-reader.  You and your kiddos should too.

 

Number One: No more “I forgot the book.”

If you’re using an e-reading app on a phone or device that is already glued to your kiddo’s hands, there is no excuse about forgetting the book.

I can’t tell you how many kiddos have told me they couldn’t read for homework because they forgot the book.  Jack left it at school. Jill left it at home and couldn’t read it in class.

More and more school districts support devices and allow cell phones in the classroom, so use it to your advantage. If your kiddo has a book on her phone, iPad, or computer, she can’t forget the book. Face it, you know that phone, tablet, or computer is always by her side.  

While I can’t guarantee you some other non-reading excuse won’t pop up, I can’t promise it won’t be “I forgot.”

One excuse gone!


Number Two:  You can (still) highlight.

Most e-readers these days allow users to highlight. You can highlight a little bit or a lot. Heck, you can even highlight every word. This may go against your highlighting intuition, but there are reasons your kiddo may want to do this. Many e-readers even provide different colors of highlighters. Imagine a rainbow of words!


With all these colors available, you can highlight for a variety of purposes, not just the typical “I need to remember that.” This is another post for another time, but I’ll get your thinking started.  Your kiddos can color code dialogue from each character to to help keep track of who’s talking. (This is a huge comprehension obstacle I’m seeing in kiddos these days.) They can chunk texts by highlighting each idea in a different color. This will help kids monitor their comprehension and make it easier to look back. I could keep going, but I won’t.  You’ll have to wait for the official post.



Number Three: You can (still) take notes.

Many e-readers offer the opportunity to take notes on highlighted text. Your kiddos can never again say “My notes are gone” or “All the post-its fell out.” We know things don’t actually often get lost in cyberspace without a push in the right direction.

Two excuses gone.

 

Number Four: You can communicate with your kiddos through the e-reader

Remember that highlighting and note taking function? Why not leave them notes or questions to think about while they are reading?

 

Number Five: You can get multiple copies of the book for one price.

You want to read what your kiddos are reading? With e-readers, you don’t have to wait until your kiddo isn’t using the book or buy/borrow a second copy. If your books are stored on a family cloud, you can usually download the same ones to your own device. You only have to pay once to distributed it to multiple shared devices.

Guess what, grown-ups? This scratches out an excuse for you AND your kiddos! No longer can you claim that you can’t get your hands on your kids’ books. Your kiddos can’t use the excuse that they didn’t read because you have the book.

Three excuses gone.

 

Are you getting the idea yet? Using an e-reader eliminates most of the typical excuses for not reading. Not only for the kids, but for you parents, too.

 

Number Six: Many e-readers/e-books offer an audio function.

This is not cheating! Repeat. I do not consider this cheating!

I’ll share more on that later, but here’s another teaser for you.  Listening to audiobooks can be great for students who struggle with print disabilities. It’s also fabulous for fitting in reading when you don’t have the time or appropriate space to read. You can listen to audiobooks in the car or anywhere else where reading may not be convenient. (I don’t do well with audio, but I’ve taught myself to learn.  Reading in the car gives me a case of the queasy stomach.  Enter audiobooks to save the day!)

Some audio functions allow you to follow along with the written text while it is reading to you. Sometimes the text is highlighted in sync with the audio function.

Listening to audiobooks is an excellent strategy for practicing fluency. You know how your kiddo stops and starts in awkward places when reading aloud? Or doesn’t quite use the right tone of voice? Often, they don’t get to hear models of fluent and expressive reading. Gone are the days when teachers have plenty of time to read out loud to kids. YOU probably don’t have copious amounts of time to read out loud to your kids.

If you’re uncomfortable about using audiobooks for the initial reading, use it for fluency practice. Your kiddos can listen first and then go back and read. Or kiddos could read first and then go back and listen. Give it a try and tell me how it transforms your child’s reading.

 

Number Seven: Less clutter!

Unless you’re the type that decorates with books, an e-book shelf will do wonders to open up space in your house.

I’ve cleared out most of our hard copy books with the exception of a few favorites and conversation pieces.  Between our ebooks and audiobooks we have 295 titles.  295! Try fitting our 295 books into our slightly-smaller-than average house. (In fact, we want to downsize. But that’s not why you’re reading this!)

 

Number Eight: You can often find free ebooks.

Your local library often offers ebooks and audiobooks delivered to your device without leaving your home. The books usually return automatically when you’re connected to the internet, so there’s no concern with late fees.

 

Number Nine: Your kids like to use their devices.

Show your kiddos that their devices aren’t just for games. In the real world, we grown ups depend on our devices. Our whole world falls apart if we forget our phone or computer. We need to start showing our kiddos the real-world way of using our technology.  Devices are TOOLS, not something to keep your kids quiet.  But there I go again with another post for another time.

So there you have it! 9 Reasons why you and your kiddos should read e-books.  Give it a try and tell me what you think!  Message me or share on Facebook.

Homework Sucks!

How would your inner artist depict the homework scene at your house? If you find yourself reading this post, your homework sessions probably look more like the scene on the right.  

You’re stuck in the endless homework battle: After school hours are filled with arguments, tears, and unfinished assignments. Maybe you’re lucky enough to win the battle, and your kiddo actually places (tosses?) the completed homework into his backpack. But that doesn’t matter much, because somehow it gets lost before third period when it’s due.

You are not alone. The number one school-related complaint I hear from families is Homework Sucks!

It doesn’t have to suck quite so much.  I know that may seem more like a dream than a reality. Let me show you how to make it real.

Take a minute and picture your ideal homework scenario.  Really think about it.  Even jot down a few ideas or draw a picture. Go on, do it.  I’ll wait.

Now that you know what you’re aspiring to, message me to share it: Knowing what you’re feeling lets me serve you best. If you’re feeling brave, post it to the Facebook Group.

You CAN make this image a reality.  Let’s get started now.  

First, you need to know it won’t happen right away, but each afternoon can be one step closer to your ideal image. If your homework battles resemble a dirty hockey game, you won’t find 100% peace in one night, but stick with me awhile.  You may be surprised at the changes you can make! Maybe your homework hours will be like the boring hockey games: the ones without a brawl.  

Ready? commit yourself to the long game here.  You can’t wave a magic wand and fix it overnight.  Sure, you could bribe with an ice cream buffet (I’ve actually read of desperate parents doing this), but how does that help your kiddo in the long run? It doesn’t.

I could give you the Ultimate Guide to Winning the Homework Battle, but that would be too much too soon.  

You’ve committed to the long game, but we still have to start with small pieces.

Here’s your one small step towards winning the Homework Battle for today: The Pomodoro Method.  

 

It works like this:

  • Be productive for a set amount of time.
  • Take a short break.
  • Be productive for the same set amount of time.  
  • After several work-break intervals, take a long break or call it a day.

Here’s what this might look like for kids:

 

Step One: Choose the amount of time/completion intervals

Extra points if your kiddo helps figure this out!

First, make a decision about your work intervals.

  • Will your kiddo work for a set amount of time (measured in minutes)

or

  • Will your kiddo work until a goal is reached?

Work completion intervals will depend on the type of work.  Perhaps it’s answering two math problems (or five).  Or reading a paragraph. Or filling out half a worksheet.

 

Do your homework hours look like a bloody boxing match? Then I suggest starting with a short amount of time or a small work completion goal.  What’s reasonable for your kiddo?  Pick a time or completion goal that you know your kid can achieve RIGHT NOW.  Maybe it’s only two minutes. Maybe it’s 20-30 minutes.  

Your first few tries are not the time to push your kiddos to their limits.

You’re better off starting with an easily achievable goal. This will allow your kid to experience success.  Immediate success makes homework seem not-so-bad.  His confidence will increase, and reaching longer work intervals will be in the near future.  Two minutes now can turn into 30 minutes before you know it.  On the other hand, starting with 30 minutes when each minute is a battle will waste time and energy.  We’re aiming for the elimination of screaming, not perpetuating it.

Step Two: Choose break length

Now it’s time to decide how long breaks will be.

Breaks should be short, especially with short work intervals.  Think 1-2 minutes.  Longer work intervals might lead to slightly lengthier breaks, maybe 3-5 minutes.  

Break should be long enough to recharge your brain batteries, but short enough to not forget what you were working on.

 

Step Three: Decide what to do during breaks

Bonus points if you have this discussion with your kiddo!

Break activities will vary from person to person.  Think about what kind of stimulation (or lack thereof) your kid needs.  Does he need to tune out and put his head down? Or maybe he needs to get the giggles out?  

You might have to do some experimenting with what works.  Sometimes an active kiddo may get too much stimulation from wiggling and jiggling during break.  It’s possible he needs to snuggle with a blanket and listen to a quiet song.  Or maybe 25 jumping jacks and a mini dance party are just what the homework doctor ordered.  (Figuring this out can be a bit tricky, so I’ll save that for another time.  For now, go with your gut and experiment.)

Once you figure out what works, you can create a short list of break activities to choose from.  I suggest keeping it to no more than 5.

Check out these websites and apps for some go-to break ideas.

  • Go Noodle- has energizing and calming activities
  • Just Dance Kids videos (you can often find them on YouTube)
  • Head space- has meditation for kids
  • Storyline Online

 

Hang in there, you’re almost ready to do homework.  And Win!

 

Step Four: Set the number of time/work intervals

More bonus points if you involve your kiddos in this discussion!

 

Now that you’ve gotten the work intervals and breaks figured out, you’re almost ready to work.  All you have left to figure out is how many of these work/break intervals you’ll do.  

If you’re using time intervals, think about how much time you think it should reasonably take your child to complete the homework. Do you expect this homework to take 30 minutes of work or closer to 3 hours?  Choose the amount of work intervals that add up to the expected completion amount.

If you’re using work intervals,  you’re finished when you get to the the end of the task(s).

 

Congratulations, you’re ready to win the Homework Battle.  Homework doesn’t have to suck so much.

 

If you’re trying to change only slightly chaotic homework time into solid productivity time, hopefully your kiddo will respond positively right away and complete all homework the first time you try this method.

 

But if homework time is a full out game of Road Runner vs Wiley E. Cyote, don’t expect all assignments to get finished the first few times you try it.  YOU CAN DO IT, but it takes some time.  You know the phrase “It takes 21 days to make a habit”?  I’ve found it to be true.  How about you?  Give it a month.  Be consistent for the whole month.  Use this method every homework day.  Perfect it.  By the end of the month, maybe all of the assignments actually get finished each night.

 

Ready to call Homework 911? Contact me here for personalized coaching to implement this method with your kiddos (or you!)  

 

No matter where you are in the homework help process, I’d love to hear your comments.  Click here to tell me what homework time is like at your house. Be brave and post it to the Facebook Group. If you try the method I laid out for you, I’d love to hear about your results.  If it sounds ridiculous for you, I want to know that too.  Remember, I’m here for you and your kids, so HELP ME READ YOUR MIND because they didn’t show us how to do that in teaching school.