Recently I’ve been doing a little much-needed updating to our facebook page. It’s becoming quit the cozy spot where MPMK readers can come to chat, to learn from one another, to laugh, and even to dish a little. I’d love for you to come join us!
Here are some of the most popular things we’ve been posting on this month:
We’re back today for part 2 of our series on ensuring school success this year, plus we’ve got a great giveaway too!
Before we get to that, though, don’t forget to check out part 1: 6 Things Your Child’s Teacher Wants You to Tell Them. And please don’t forget to take part in our sponsor, Quaker’s, partnership with Adopt a Classroom.org to get some much-needed funds to a classroom near you!
If you missed it the first time around, the Quaker Up for Classrooms program is trying to address the problem of teachers across America spending more than $1 billion dollars a year of their own money stocking their classrooms.
All you have to do to help is to buy specially marked Quaker products and enter the package codes online at Quaker Up for Classrooms. You’ll get a $1 off coupon for more delicious Quaker products AND you’ll be able to enter your zipcode to make sure the donated funds are going towards schools in your own community.
Got it? Good. Now here’s former 1st grade teacher Kristin with six things teachers want parents to know to start the year off right. (Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post!)
Having written about things that your teacher would like you to share about your child, I thought it would be fitting to also let parents know some things that teachers would love to share with you.
I rounded up 6 thoughts that most teachers would agree are highlyimportant for parents to know. Some might be new ideas or something you’ve never thought about, while others are very basic and a good reminder for us all.
6 THINGS TEACHERS WOULD LIKE TO TELL PARENTS
1) Every great day starts off with a great breakfast.
As a teacher, I wish I could remind parents that eating a nutritious breakfast is as important and being on time to school. We get busy as parents and sometimes kids aren’t the best at getting up on time. Trust me, I know how hard it is to get 3 kids out the door for school, while trying to get myself ready for work. And unfortunately our grocery aisles are packed with ‘breakfast’ foods that are full of sugar and leave us hungry in about an hour. Around here, we love to start out our day with a bowl of Quaker oatmeal with milk and craisins.
If a child is properly fueled, they’ll be able to concentrate better. On the other hand, if a child hasn’t been able to eat breakfast or maybe had a breakfast that wasn’t full of nutrients, chances are they will be distracted and not able to work to their potential. Many of us know what that feels like when we arrive to work with an empty stomach or having just eaten a donut in the car. It’s hard to work without proper fuel!
2) Teachers need for kids to be getting enough sleep every night.
We talked about this issue in one of our Happy Family Habits. This goes along the same line as eating a proper breakfast. Getting a solid 8 hours or more helps kids start the day with energy. Our bodies repair themselves while we sleep, little learning minds need as much sleep as they can get.
3) A quiet area dedicated to homework will help your child in the long run.
Good study habits start young. Creating a little corner in your home that is quiet and conducive to quality studying time helps your child take in information and remember it later. Have you ever tried studying while the TV is on or while people are talking loudly? It’s hard! Teachers know that good study habits will help your child retain the maximum amount of information.
4) Don’t get hung up on grades in the early years.
It’s hard not to compare. We live in a competitive society. But, the first few years of elementary school have a huge learning curve. There is so much going on that each child is going to develop differently. Most of the time it all evens out as elementary school is coming to a close. Of course, your teacher should notify you if he or she notices signs of a more serious issue. But, just because another child is reading before yours doesn’t mean that your child isn’t smart. Read More
We’ve got a whole “Back-to-School ” theme going on here this week. Last week it was6 Things Your Child’s Teacher Wants You to Tell Them and on Monday I finally released our new Kids’ Responsibility & Money Management Kit! (I’m SUPER excited about this. It’s going to be just the thing to help get your kids organized and ready to take on the school year, as well as some new responsibilities.)
What would you say if I told you that my 4 and 5 year old get up, get dressed, and even make breakfast on their own every morning – and have been doing so for over a year? Or that they already have a strong grasp on the concepts of earning, saving, budgeting and even giving money?
So what’s my trick? In two simple words: START EARLY!!
It’s all about empowering our kids from the beginning. We’ve made it a point in our family to help our kids learn autonomy early. We are firm believers that:
It’s not what you do for your children, but what you teach them to do for themselves, that’s most important.
And today, I’m SO excited to unveil a whole new printables pack that will help you give your kids the gifts of autonomy, family contribution, money smarts, and a giving heart.
I wanted to make sure it was extremely flexible and could be used by family‘s practicing all types of chore and responsibility systems in the home.
So we designed it to be used in a variety of ways. Take each kid to buy a special binder and fill it with some colorful stickers to make their own personalized Responsbility & Money Management Book or laminate the sheets and stick them up around the house, on the fridge or the mirror of the kids’ bathroom.
Here’s how it works…
First up are our Morning and Evening Routine Checklists. These are key for establishing great self-care habits with kids! Both have the activity to be checked off along the vertical column and the day of the week across the top.
For younger kids (especially pre-readers and emergent readers who like to practice), there is a version with colorful graphics and simple labels for each task.
Since each family’s routines are different, we’ve also included versions of each routine checklist with blanks that you can fill in. Sitting down with your kids and deciding on the order of morning and evening tasks together is a great way to get them invested in, and excited about, the process!
If you’re new to a morning and evening routine, my recommendation is to work on the tasks together in the beginning. As you and your child complete items together, make a big deal about marking it off with a sticker!
You can also make these sheets reusable by laminating them and marking each task off with a dry-erase marker. In the past, we’ve also put them on the fridge and used small round magnets, which we slide onto the appropriate circle for the day.
Once kids get in the habit of marking off their accomplishments, you can begin to encourage them to do some things on their own. It will give them a sense of pride to show you what they can do independently. Plus, kids absolutely LOVE IT when they’re allowed access to the sticker pile to check things off all by themselves.
Keep working on transitioning tasks from things you do together to things they do on their own.
You can help your kids succeed by making things in their environment as accessible as possible. For example, keep their clothes in easy to access drawers instead of hanging high in closets. If you want them to work on making their own breakfast in the morning, create a shelf low in the refrigerator with yogurt cups, berries, pre-sliced fruit, pre-filled milk cups, etc. Also, keep their bowls and plates in a low drawer that they can reach instead of in upper cabinets.
Getting kids to take on a few personal responsibilities is a great lead-in to having them take on some family responsibilities.
All families handle chores and allowance differently, and we’ve designed the printables kit to be flexible for that. Don’t do allowance in your house? No problem, just skip the Money Jobs sheet.
In our house we have a list of family jobs as well as a list of extra money jobs.
Since our children are young and, therefore, have different abilities, their family jobs sheets are customized to each of them. A few of the jobs are the same (putting clothes in the hamper, clearing your plate, etc.) and some are different (sorting the socks for little sister and folding clothes for big brother).
We’ve left the spots on these sheets empty so that you can once again sit down with your child and decide together what their family jobs should be. This will really drive home the idea that the family works together and everyone in the family needs to contribute. It will also give your child a sense of ownership of his or her tasks.
Along with the family jobs that each child completes to help out the family, we also have a list of money jobs. These are extra chores that the kids can choose to do in order to earn some money.
Why do we want our young children to have their own money? Because it’s a great tool for teaching them important life skills like saving, budgeting, and giving. It also helps to teach them the value of money in a very real-world, hands-on way.
Again, you can approach money jobs in a variety of ways. The worksheet contains a spot for the job as well as a spot for it’s value (watering the plants earns our kids less than weeding and raking leaves). Each child can have their own Money Jobs sheet or they can all work off one common list.
Once the kids are earning some money, they need somewhere to put it!
Enter our printable labels for making your own Spend, Save & Share Banks. You can upcycle lots of things to create your banks – we like using glass or clear plastic drink bottles. Print the labels on cardstock and use decorative twine or yarn to tie them on or print on a piece of adhesive paper and stick the labels directly to the bottles. Helpful Hint: Let the kids decide what they want to use to make their banks and spend some time together cutting out the labels and decorating each one.
The idea behind these banks is to teach kids that all money isn’t for spending. It’s also important to put some aside for saving and for giving back. Letting your child pick what she wants to save for and a charitable cause he wants to give to is yet another way to get them excited about this process.
You can decide how much to encourage your children to put in each bank. Since ours are young and don’t totally understand the value of money yet, we keep it pretty simple. Usually we give them 3 coins for doing a money chore (or $3 if it’s a really big chore) and they put one coin in each bank. You may want to do 20% of earnings in savings, 10% in giving and the rest to spend – it’s totally up to you!
To give you an example of how we’re currently using these banks – the Spend Bank has been used for small purchases such as a $.99 app or an ice cream from the neighborhood ice cream truck. It’s also being used to save up for a $20 LEGO set. The Save Bank is money that will be contributed towards a family trip to Disney Land and the Share Bank will be used to buy some school supplies for local foster kids.
Another tool in the kit that the kids use along with their banks, is the Save, Spend and Share Ledger. We fill it out together and the notes section is another way of showing them how their money is accumulating as well as where it’s going.
So when my son wonders why it’s taking so long to save up for that LEGO set, he can see that it’s because he keeps buying ice cream!
The Savings Goal Sheet is another easy way for the kids to visualize how their savings is going. Simply pick an item the kids want to save for and fill it in at the top. Then write the total amount they need to save in the top space and fill in the incremental amounts they’ll need to save enough.
Every once in a while, get the kids to empty out their bank and color in the chart to see how much progress they’ve made.
Helpful Hint: The banks and goal sheets can be awesome catalysts for getting the kids to work together and share. Once my 4 and 5 year old saw how long it was going to take for big brother to save for the LEGO set, little sister decided they should pool their money since she’d likely want to play with it too. Similarly, my friend’s daughter recently used some of her “Share” money to buy her little brother an ice cream cone when he didn’t have enough money of his own.
That’s it! Everything you need to start raising some happy, self-sufficient, money-smart and generous kiddos!
P.S. If you buy the pack, I’d love to see some shots of your DIY banks or even the kids using the routine charts, savings sheets, etc.
Just post to your favorite social media site with the hashtag #KidsMoneyKit!
With a soon-to-be kindergarten in the house (what?!) I’ve been scouting out spots in the house to set up a study station for him. And, after doing a little web surfing, I became convinced that it’s impossible to set up such a space in literally any space.
So I put together a handy roundup of the most ingenious ideas I found. You can check them all out here.
I know by now you are likely pretty sick of all things Ana, Elsa and Olaf. But here’s a parenting trick I learned a while back – you can use whatever your child is currently obsessing about to help foster a love of reading.
It’s all about pointing out the similarities between the story they already love and some new stories worth exploring. The key, of course, is to know where to look.
So today our resident children’s librarian, Janssen, is sharing 10 books every Frozen fan is sure to connect with.
Are your kids obsessed with Frozen?
We listen to the music, my girls pretend they are Elsa and Ana, and if it were up to my oldest, we’d watch it for family movie night every single week (Dad put a quick kibosh to that idea).
If you need a break from the movie too, here are ten books that will appeal to Elsa and Ana’s biggest fans. Read More
I recently found out our contributor, Kristin, has been hiding a very big secret from me – although she currently works as a professional photographer, she used to be a 1st grade teacher! You guys, you cannot imagine how psyched I was when she let this little gem slip in an email. All the possible posts just started piling up in my head.
The very first thing I wanted her to write for us was a back-to-school post on all the critical things your child’s teacher wants to know about him or her to start the school year off right. I am a brand-new school mom this year, afterall, with C venturing off into Kindergarten – so this is stuff I really want to know.
When Quaker approached us to about getting involved with supporting teachers through their Quaker Up for Classrooms project, I knew it was the perfect opportunity. Here’s Kristin with everything you need to know to initiate a fabulous relationship with your child’s teacher this year…
A good relationship with your child’s teacher can make your school year exceptional. Teachers are with our children as much as we are, so it’s important to look at the relationship as a team.
Years before I had my own children, I was helping to raise other people’s children in the form of being a first grade teacher. In my years of being a teacher, I celebrated successes with many parents and also cried with them over struggles. Teachers are truly invested in our children.
Did you know that teachers across America are spending more than $1 billion dollars per year of their own money stocking their classrooms? How’s that for being invested! Teachers care so much about our kids that they are using their own paychecks to make sure our kids are successful.
I just learned that Quaker is teaming up with Adopt-A-Classroom to give teachers the funds they need. And as parents, we can help.
It’s as easy as buying specially marked Quaker products and entering the package codes online at Quaker Up for Classrooms.For every code entered, Quaker will donate $1. And, participants get a coupon for $1 off Quaker products.
Here’s the really cool part…
Enter your zip code along with your package code and the donation will go to a teacher in your own community!
Up to $250,000 can be raised in this effort. So, let’s help out (and fuel our kids for a good school day with some delicious oatmeal made with whole grain oats in the process).
Since the Quaker Up for Classrooms program is all about supporting teachers and promoting student success, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to kick off a two-part series on how parents can support and facilitate their children’s teachers. Today is Part 1:
6 THINGS YOUR CHILD’S TEACHER WANTS TO KNOW
Heading into this new school year, I want you to know that teachers view this stuff as highly valuable information. Now that I’m a parent (and on the other end of the relationship) I know how important it is to open up with teachers from the beginning so that we don’t miss a step in growing healthy kids.
Most school years start off with a meet-the-teacher or a back-to-school night. Take advantage of this opportunity to talk individually with your child’s teacher. Most of this information can be shared at this time, but you may feel more comfortable emailing the teacher with insights about your child. Either way, make sure to take the time in the first few weeks of school to share the following with your child’s teacher.
1) Start the year off by sharing with your teacher that you are open and available to communicate.
By telling your child’s teacher that you want to communicate with him or her, you’re letting them know that you want to hear when there’s an issue on the playground and you’ll be sure to tell them when a rough weekend has left your child on the wrong side of the bed come Monday morning. When you establish a dialogue, things don’t get out of hand.
Nut allergies are no joke and both parents and schools take them very seriously. Our family is lucky not to have to deal with any of these allergies but every program the kids have been involved with from toddler group to preschool, and now kindergarten, has been a nut-free zone.
We’ve struggled in the past to come up with original and nutritious nut-free lunches the kids will actually eat. My littles can only stomach so many mayo and cheese sandwiches, no matter what ridiculous shape I try to cut them into. I’m pretty sure I could carve the entire cast of Frozen into there by now and still be met with requests for, “PB and J, please”.
With kindergarten and preschool about to start for the year, I did what I often do when faced with a parenting quandary – farmed it out to one of my contributors. (Jealous? Post your parenting issue to our facebook page and I’ll try to get you help with whatever you’re struggling with too!) After doing so, I have to say…
I LOVE THIS POST!
(I know it’s a great one when my first response after reading it is to print it out and put it somewhere safe for reference later!)
Here’s our food contributor, Natalie, with her magical formula for creating an endless amount of nut-free packed school lunches.
Struggling to come up with ideas for your child with nut allergies or your child attending a nut-free school? I’ve got you.
Here’s a mix-and-match guide to putting together nut-free lunches quickly and painlessly. (If you want the handy divided lunch boxes, get them here – they come in lots of happy colors.)
Just keep your favorite picks on your weekly grocery list, keep this list on your fridge or on your lunch idea pinterest board for reference, and you’ll be ready to go.
If you’re like our family, having young children in your brood can mean a lot of “Date Nights In”.
While ordering our favorite takeout and zoning out on the couch to Netflix can be relaxing at the end of a long week, it’s not exactly the best way I know to keep the romance alive.
So I’ve done a little research and put together a list of 10 ways to liven up dinner and movie at home with minimal effort. And I promise, it’s stuff you’ll actually want to do. I really can’t take all those helpful suggestions to do things like taking turns drawing charactertures of each other – umm, no (thank you).
Check out the list here. (#6 is our absolute favorite – The hubby and I cover the coffee table with a big beach blanket, que up our favorite movie and have so much fun!)
Great news friends – we’ve brought a new food contributor to the MPMK team and she’s got TONS of healthy family-friendly recipes she’s ready to let us in on.
Jen’s not just about food, though. Over on her own space, The Chronicles of Home, she shares all aspects of her life as a self-described wife, mom, cook, DIYer, and decorato, turning our house into a home one day and one project at a time.
Today she’s sharing with us a tasty new way to get the kids in the kitchen AND to help keep everyone’s energy up all day long…
If your kids are anything like mine, the “I’m hungry” chorus starts singing every afternoon around 3:00. We can get into a little bit of a rut with afternoon snacks – fruit, yogurt, goldfish crackers, repeat – so I’m often brainstorming for new ideas.
I recently came up with this easy energy bites recipe, loaded with good-for-you seeds, almonds, oats, and coconut. Read More
Summer has hit full stride and all the free time off school has lost its allure. We’ve been swimming, hiking, adventuring and more! So, now it’s time to explore new activities that will satisfy the kids’ natural curiosity and endless amounts of energy.
We’ve picked our top 17 building activities, using everything from newspaper to marshmallows. Most of these items you’ll have at home, so pick an activity from the list this afternoon when boredom hits your house.
I’m so excited to have our resident graphic designer, MJ, back today with an ENTIRE FREE PRINTABLE PACK that I just know you’re going to love!
The idea of these printables are to use them to start a new 1st day of school photo tradition that allows you to document not only the kiddos’ super cute new outfits and excited grins, but also their changing dreams and aspirations. Great idea, right?!
You could do some really interesting things with these photos – a coffee table book, a hallway wall display, a calendar, or even a Brady Bunch grid style T-shirt for the grandparents (do it – I bet they totally wear it).
We also want to see your photos using our printables. So share them on your favorite social media site and be sure to tag them: #MPMK_bigdreams!
My favorite time of year on social media has returned: the back to school photo sharing. The adorable assemblies of siblings with fresh haircuts and new duds!
To amplify the joy of this awesome time of year I’ve created something special just for MPMK readers:
If you’ve been following along with this facebook post, you know that we’re knee-deep in sleep training baby M around here – which means some sleepless nights for this Momma.
One of the things I like to look at with my blurry eyes in the wee hours of the morning are pieces of art to one day adorn my still quite bare walls. Occasionally, I even get around to ordering and hanging a few!
Here are four of my current favorites – two of which actually hang in my house and two of which I so far only have plans to hang somewhere.
Up top is this Moby Dick quote from MPMK sponsor Minted, absolutely perfect for creating a reading space or book nook.
Next up is this Shakespeare quote print that I’m currently coveting from ScoutMob. It’s on sale for only $17 and I’m gonna put it in S’s room.
I really love the idea of this being one of the first things she sees when she wakes up each morning!