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Parent engagement

New school year = rough transitions for some

My friend Kathy has a son with mild to moderate disabilities. Henry is going into third grade this year, and I just got an email from her:

"Back to school" has special meaning for Henry. Transitions are tough for him, so these first few weeks of getting adjusted are hard for everyone. I know things will eventually settle down, but I wish these this time of year could be easier. So many tantrums, so many tears.

School spending: Parents and teachers

Molly, Anna, and I went shopping for school supplies yesterday. It's always a bit of a giddy shopping trip; choosing which color for the composition book, 16 or 24 box of crayons, Elmer's or Rose's glue…getting to buy colored pencils…oh my! We were there for at least an hour.

Total cost: $47.00 for two kids.

Should reading with parents count?

I blogged about reading logs back in August, when Molly was just getting started with a daily homework assignment to read and respond every day after school. The title of that post, Reading Logs, Reading Blahs pretty much sums up the way I feel about reading logs. Your comments on that post suggest that many of you feel the same way!

Same thing next year? Grade retention.

We're approaching the fourth grading period at our school, which leads some teachers and parents to think about whether a struggling child should be retained. It's never an easy conversation to have.

Kindergarten: Half or full day?

One of my blog posts that got people talking was the one about our decision to enroll Anna in kindergarten as a 5 year old (rather than waiting until she turned 6). Both our girls have summer birthdays; we waited to send our older daughter, but wrestled with the same decision for our younger daughter.

Do as I say, not as I do

I heard that expression for the first time when my mom was teaching me to drive. She has a bit of a lead foot, and had gotten a spate of speeding tickets when I was a teenager. The new driver that I was, I stepped on the gas to reach the speed limit as quickly as possible. She turned to me and said, "Do as I say, not as I do, especially when it comes to driving!"

I find myself using that same expression these days as I talk to parents about reading to their kids: Do as I say, not as I do. Yes, it's true...I haven't been reading to my girls.

Teacher gifts

I've started thinking about holiday gifts for the girls' teachers. Here are a few of my ideas so far...I'm trying to keep it practical and useful.

A gift certificate to Barnes & Noble: For kids' books, or for the teachers' own enjoyment! What could be better than a latte and a good book? I just finished this,and it was great (long...but very interesting!)

Is it ever too early to worry?

We get lots of questions through our Ask the Expert service. Occasionally I'll post a question here in hopes of reaching a wider audience. Feel free to chime in with your own additions to my answer! If you're like me, you'll find yourself wanting to write a dissertation for each one.

Teachers: Talk to your parents


No, this isn't a lecture aimed at teenagers. It's a plea to teachers: Talk to your parents!

You're back to school by now, and we parents are at home, hungry for details about what's going on with our child. Try as they might, our kids just don't say enough about their day at school.

When is library day? Should I send a snack every day? Can I come in to volunteer? How many times a week does the class go to P.E.? How many kids are in the class? Are things going well so far? What day is ice-cream day?

Reading logs, reading blahs

Many of us are back to school by now. And for most of us, that means daily reading logs, where a parent signs a log each night confirming that her child has read at home that day. For us, we're on day five, and we're already a little bored.

In the spirit of starting the year off on the right foot, here are a few ideas (hopes? hints?) for teachers and parents that may make reading logs more useful, interesting, and exciting.

I'd love to hear from teachers and parents about reading logs — what has worked for you, and what hasn't?
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"I used to walk to school with my nose buried in a book." — Coolio