Category Archives: Organization

When Your Child Starts to Fall Behind {a guideline for parents}

happy boy doing homeworkby Ria Clarke 

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As much as we, as parents, like to believe that we are on top of things, there are times when we let things slide. After all, life is stressful and filled with distractions and constant interruptions. Falling behind happens to the best of us.

But what happens when you begin to notice your student making low grades, or you get a note from the teacher that there’s an issue? What’s a parent to do? Here are some practical steps to get your child back on track.

1. Identify the problem if possible. Make a mental checklist and ask yourself important questions: Have you created a dedicated learning space at home that is free from noise and distraction? Is your child getting enough sleep? Is your child over-scheduled? Have they had a recent eye or hearing test? Are they too engrossed in gadgets or television? Rule out overlooked easy-to-resolve issues, first. 

2. Communicate with the teacher. Don’t wait for the problem to mushroom. My son’s second grade teacher has after-school tutoring for children that are falling behind. During these sessions, she gives them the personalized attention that may be impossible during the regular class period. Regular communication with your child’s teacher will help nip problems in the bud before they get out of control.

Asian Mom Daughter3. Make the necessary adjustments. If you have identified that your child is over-scheduled or is not getting enough sleep, take the necessary steps to ensure that your child cuts back on extra-curricular activities or nighttime television so that he or she is well rested. Make sure your child has all the supplies and essentials handy in their homework center and make sure that distractions are kept to a minimum. And, keep yourself in the loop on their progress by checking over your child’s homework so you catch any errors or missed problems before assignments are handed in and graded.

4. Review the material. Not all teachers offer after-school tutoring, but you can help your child by spending the time to go over concepts at home. Visit your local teacher store and purchase homework helpers and various learning aids to reinforce what your child has been doing at school. Make the review sessions short but meaningful so your child doesn’t get resentful or frustrated.

5. Consider professional help. Ask your child’s teacher for references, or check your local library or go online to search for homework help or private tutors. Investigate established places like LearningRx, Omega Learning Centers, Appleton Learning, Huntington Learning Center, or Kumon for extra help.

SonKissingMom High ResIt is also important to recognize that each child is different and learns differently. Work with your child’s teacher to help your child unlock the potential that may be locked inside. It may be frustrating at first but stick with it. Remember that practice makes perfect.

Ria Clarke is the proud parent of a second grader and a toddler. She’s also a SAHM and freelance writer of various lifestyle and educational issues. When she’s not actively involved in projects and homework or chasing down a toddler, she can be found in the kitchen baking or curled up with a good book.

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Filed under Assessments, Behavior Management, brain training, Extracurricular, Organization, Parenting, Uncategorized

Best Teacher Organization Ideas, Part III

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed. 

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card. Just for sharing a lil’ ol’ comment. 

In this series, we’ve compiled our favorite classroom organization ideas to share with you. We shared a great idea for teacher toolboxes in the first post here. And a great idea for over-the-door shoe organizers here.

And now here’s another winner: a teacher organizational binder that will be your new BFF.

This idea is from Jenn Rivera, a third grade bilingual teacher and blogger at Beyond the Grades. Thanks, Jenn! LOVE this!

Inside pocket: a small monthly calendar book. 

TABS:

Important Information: schedules, class list, transportation. All very handy stuff for a sub.

Student Data: This section is extra handy. I keep contact information, conference times, assessment scores (important ones not all).

I use this student information sheet in my student data section. It’s from Busy Teachers Cafe. Click the link or the picture; it’ll take you directly to a downloadable pdf.

 Calendars: Curriculum calendar and testing calendar.

Grades: I keep the district’s grading requirements as well as a spreadsheet with my grades for the 9 weeks. No more grading book!

Lesson Plan Ideas: A place to keep those great lesson ideas that you hear/print/pin but haven’t incorporated, yet!

The next three sections are where I keep documentation and notes from various meetings: 

Back Pocket: I keep an EZ Grader for grading at home. {Find one here.} 

Click here for the font used on cover sheets. 

Substitute Teacher Binder

Jenn’s teacher binder is so great, we thought it would be a good idea to create a substitute teacher section or binder to accompany it. The sub binder could be kept in a separate binder or it could simply be a section all to itself within your teacher binder. And, of course, since cute is always better, we particularly favored this adorable FREE printables pack from Think-Share-Teach.

Click the picture to access a downloadable file of these cutie pages:

She also offers a pink version and a purple version. (Yes, she’s that cute.)

Have you picked up some good organizational ideas from our series? Sure hope so. If you have great ideas of your own, consider writing a post for A Learning Experience. You can learn how to submit your idea here. If we publish your idea, you score fame, publicity and a $35 School Box gift card. Woot!

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Filed under Classroom Organization, Free Stuff!, Organization

Creative Ideas for Peaceful School Mornings

Happy School Kidsby Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

This article originally appeared in Little Black Dress|Little Red Wagon Magazine. 

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It’s 8 a.m. and my household has already witnessed three meltdowns, two resulting in tears, and one of them mine. Seriously, it should not be this difficult to get the kids ready for school and out the door.

When I was pregnant, I envisioned school-day mornings with homemade breakfasts, freshly poured (maybe even squeezed) OJ, neatly parted hair and happy smiles. While this may have been pie-in-the-sky, I am a put-together enough person to at least achieve toaster waffles and canned juice without weeping and gnashing of teeth.

So, this year, dangit, I am vowing to pull off more peaceful school mornings. And I’ve called in three pros to advise and counsel: Cheryl Bahneman, Francie Towey, and Beverly Boney. As the champions for working moms everywhere, these three run the Primrose Schools at Brookstone and Oregon Park (Cheryl), Primrose Schools at Macland Pointe and Sprayberry (Francie), and Primrose at Bentwater (Beverly).

I love, love, LOVE the fresh, creative tips they shared for making mornings more peaceful on the home front.

Make a Morning Map

Create a checklist or picture map to help kids stay on track with the morning routine: make bed, go potty, brush teeth, get bookbag, etc. Laminate the list and provide a dry-erase marker so that children can check off the steps as they go. “Setting concrete expectations about the sequence of tasks is important for little ones,” affirms Francie.

“Allowing your child to chime in when creating the list will ensure their ownership over this idea, too,” Cheryl adds. Let them help type and add clip art to make their Morning Map. Feeling crafty? Take a pic of your child doing each action, and use those for a customized checklist.

Create a Family Command Center Binder

Fill a three-ring binder with page protectors and dividers. Label the dividers: Family Basics, Contacts, Pending, and then label one divider with each child’s name.

In the page protectors under Family Basics, slide in emergency info and babysitter instructions. The Contacts section is for important numbers and business cards: school, doctor, vet, painter, plumber. Pending page protectors hold Netflix mailers, receipts for online purchases, upcoming birthday invitations. In each child’s section, keep their extracurricular schedules, school information and the like. “Creating organizational systems that work is key for peaceful routines,” affirms Beverly.

Have Homemade Breakfast in a Hurry!

Okay, so making a huge hot breakfast every morning isn’t always (ever?) realistic. Instead, opt for grab-and-go homemade: Make batches of homemade pancakes and waffles once a month. Freeze them on cookie sheets and then rebag into freezer baggies to reheat in the toaster. Voila—homemade in a hurry!

Take the Pressure Off

Finally, set a positive tone for your child’s school day by letting them know you’re behind them, regardless of performance. “Children thrive more when they don’t feel pressure from their mom or dad to perform,” shares Francie. “The most important attribute a parent can teach their child is to try. If a child learns that, they will do amazing things—without stress.”

Sources:

Primrose School at Brookstone, www.primrosebrookstone.com

Primrose School at Macland Pointe, www.primrosemaclandpointe.com

Primrose School at Oregon Park, www.primroseoregonpark.com

Primrose School of Sprayberry, www.primrosesprayberry.com

Primrose School at Bentwater, www.primrosebentwater.com

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Filed under Academic Success, Organization, Parenting

Happy Educator’s Day {because we’re all teachers in some way}

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 gift card to The School Box! Winners are drawn monthly. 

January 28 is National Educator’s Day. Know what this means? It means time to celebrate YOU! Whether you’re a classroom teacher, homeschooler, Sunday school teacher, mom, dad, aunt, uncle or grandparent…you’re a teacher. Little eyes are watching you. Little hands are holding yours. Little minds are being shaped by your instruction, your example.

So, really, this day is for all of us.

As a thank you for all we ALL do to guide and inspire, we got wind that The School Box is offering special discounts on Saturday, January 28, for EVERYONE. Storewide discounts, giveaways, School Box bucks ($10 for every $50 spent, no limit)– AND free lamination on everything bought that day!

And did you know they offer free giftwrap year-round, now? Yup.

So go stock up on gifts, games and supplies for the little ones in your world. I think my birthday closet is about to get restocked. :)

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Filed under Classroom Decor, Free Stuff!, Organization, Teaching

favorite {free} downloadable fonts

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

Write a little comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card! We’ll draw a winner shortly. 

Looking for a way to spruce up your classroom reproducibles? Here are some of our favorite free downloadable fonts that would look just dandy on your next parent letter or student activity sheet (or party invitation!). Happy Holidays from A Learning Experience!

Circus

This one looks just like good ol’ Barnum and Bailey’s. Super cute!

Image

DOWNLOAD HERE.

Chalkduster

Looks like, well, you know.

DOWNLOAD HERE.

Pea Lovey Dovey

Adorable curlie-q font with a whimsical vibe.

DOWNLOAD HERE.

Elegant

Appropriately named, this font is elegant but not frufru.

DOWNLOAD HERE. 

Orange

Fun, whimsy, feminine.

DOWNLOAD HERE.

Earwig Factory

Gross name. Cute font.

DOWNLOAD HERE.

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Filed under Activities, Art, Classroom Decor, Holidays, Organization, Teacher Inspiration, Teaching, technology

Creating a “Where Are You?” Board

by Rachel Stepp, M. Ed. 

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Do you ever have multiple students leave your classroom at once for various reasons (clinic, library, restroom, pull-out programs, etc.), and you have trouble remembering who went where? Has the fire drill ever buzzed, and you were missing children once you were outside because they were in the library? It’s time to set up an area (or wall) in your classroom where your students can display their location. This area might look different depending on the age of your students and the places they can go on their own in your school.

Magnet Board

In grades pre-k through second, it would be appropriate to have an area that displayed each child’s picture and name on a magnet. This could be a place on the magnetic white board or on a magnetic cookie sheet hung on the wall. On this area, you will create a place for each student’s picture to be displayed under the home section. At the end of the day, every student’s picture should be moved to the home area to show that they are no longer at school. In the morning, when a child first walks in the door, he or she should move their picture from “Home” to “Classroom” to show that they are present at school on the current day. When a child’s picture is shown as in the classroom, they are to be participating in classroom activities and within sight of the teacher. This is also a visual way to take attendance, without wasting time calling roll.

Other sections that you might want to include on your board are: boys’ restroom, girls’ restroom, office, clinic, library, other. Each section besides home and classroom should only have enough room for several students at a time, depending on your classroom guidelines. For example, you might only want to allow two boys to go to the restroom at the same time. If those two positions are in use on the board, then no one else should leave the classroom to use the restroom.

Students will need to learn the routine of automatically checking the board when they walk into the classroom to make sure their magnets are in the correct location. It’s important to make sure that students know that they do not need to move their picture every time the class goes somewhere as a whole group. You can also use the same picture magnets for other activities, such as to show which center students are in during center time.

Popsicle Jars

In third through fifth grades, students might find that moving their picture around feels “elementary” to them.  When students are transitioning grades and learning a new routine for leaving the classroom, you can write each child’s name on a popsicle stick and place them in different cans/jars to show their location. The jars can sit beside the classroom door so that students can access them easily when they enter or exit the room. You can also create a simple sign-in and sign-out sheet for your students. On this sheet, they would have to record their name, the time they leave, their desired location, and the time they return. This will help you keep track of your students when they are out of the classroom and in the case of an emergency.

Hopefully these ideas will give your students some responsibility when it comes to keeping track of where they are. You are one teacher in charge of many students, and anything to make the process run smoothly is worth considering!

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Filed under Behavior Management, Centers, Classroom Community, Classroom Decor, Organization

Creative Ways to Organize Children’s Artwork

by Diane Burdick, M. Ed.

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One of the best (and worst) things about elementary school children is their enthusiasm for the new skills they master. Now that the school year is well under way — and your child’s coloring and drawing skills are better than ever before — you’ve likely amassed a large collection of artwork. While each work of art is a precious memory, you don’t necessarily have enough room in the house to store all those pictures and drawings. Instead of admiring the art for a few minutes then secretly trashing the papers when your child isn’t looking (come on, you know we all do it!), organize the collection. Here are some creative ideas to do just that:

File It

Purchase a 13-pocket plastic accordion file for each year and file the papers in the appropriate month, as a pocket-style scrapbook. Use the extra pocket in the file as a list of events over the year, a collection of your child’s sayings over the year, or information on your child’s class like the name of your child’s teacher, class photos, etc. The one, right, is cute…and available through amazon.com or schoolbox.com.

Frame It

Elevate your child’s artwork above refrigerator status. Highlight one piece of artwork from your child each week or month, and display it in a nice frame. Depending upon your child’s age and your home decor preferences, choose a place for their framed art such as in their room, in a hallway, by the front door or in the living room. Choose a fun brightly colored frame, or a clear shadow-box style so that you don’t need to worry about matching the frame to the colors on the paper.

Hang It

If your home has a more casual look, or if you don’t want the hassle of getting in and out of a frame each week or month, consider installing a clothesline-like system, where you can easily hang artwork. If you hang the line low enough, your child could even swap their art as often as she wishes. Use fun colors for the clips or clothespins and consider adding fun nobs or decorations on the clips to add even more life to the display. Here’s an affordable clothesline from The  Schoolbox, that even includes multi-colored pins: http://www.schoolbox.com/ProductDetail.aspx?ProductID=29177&CategoryID=58. (Photo from www.unplggd.com.)

Digitize It

Do you like the idea of keeping all your child’s artwork, but don’t like the idea of hanging onto all that paper? Try scanning the artwork and saving  it on a digital file. Let your child name each picture, then sort it by the season, topic, or by date your child created it. Or, take a digital photo of your child holding each piece of artwork, and save those files; this makes a cute digital scrapbook that shows not only the artwork, but also your child’s age and stage when each piece was crafted.

Another benefit of the electronic file is that you can use it as the wallpaper or screensaver for your computer. You can e-mail the artwork to long-distance relatives so that grandma and grandpa can be a part of your child’s developmental changes.

However you chose to celebrate your child’s artwork, make them a part of the process. Your attention to their creations validates their creativity and encourages your little budding artist to flourish.

Diane Burdick, M. Ed. holds a masters in elementary education and a bachelors in history, and is currently pursuing her specialists degree with a concentration in teaching and learning. A homeschooling mother of three, she also enjoys freelancing for online publications.

Article edited by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

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Filed under Art, Classroom Decor, Organization