Keep Your Kids Fit With GoNoodle

Have you heard about GoNoodle? My wife has been raving about it for years as a great tool for brain breaks and as an in-class fitness tool.

Well, it’s been a little chilly in our neck of the woods during the last few days and our kids needed exercise, so I found GoNoodle on our TV’s YouTube app. (GoNoodle has it’s own channel.) The kids asked me to do it with them, and let me tell you that within three minutes I was sweating. Is this due in part because of my poor fitness? Sure, but it’s also a fun way to really get the heart pumping. It’s got the kids running in place, jumping, stretching–it honestly mirrors what you would do in an aerobics class. But, because it’s so entertaining, you don’t even realize how much exercise you’re actually doing.

GoNoodle is currently offering a free family service because of the outbreak. You can find it HERE, or you can locate their channel on YouTube.

Have fun, and keep moving!

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5 Helpful Hints To Entice Reluctant Readers

People often ask me how they can get their children interested in reading, which I’m always more than happy to answer.  It’s vital we encourage our young people to read.  Studies show that reading improves critical thinking skills, vocabulary, comprehension, writing, empathy, and a broader understanding of the world surrounding us.  Best of all?  Every child wants to be  reader.  (Granted, some may not know it yet.)

Here are 5 simple steps you can take to entice your reluctant reader.  Though I’m not providing citations, I’m basing these steps on fifteen years of teaching experience and my Reading Master’s Degree.  These methods have proven effective for me personally, for my own children, and for my students.

1.  Read with your child – As a parent, you know that actions speak louder than words.  If you want your child to sit and read, I urge you to participate.  It’s one thing to tell them to read and then walk away.  It’s quite another to carve out time from your own schedule to sit by their side with a book.  I’m not saying you have to read to them, though that’s not a bad thing.  But when they actually see you believe in reading so strongly that you are also taking the time to do it with them, well, don’t underestimate the power of that action.  Get the whole family involved for some bonding time!

2.  Let them read what they want – This one will be tough for some parents.  Your child will never learn to love reading if you force them to read something they hate.  The quickest way to get your child to want to read is to let that child read about whatever it is that they love.  I guarantee you that once you’ve established a reading routine with them and they look forward to it, they will be open to your suggestions.  But, in the beginning, it has to be about their interests.  If they love Pokemon, let them read about Pokemon.  If they love volleyball, let them read about volleyball.  Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, drama – it doesn’t matter.  In my eyes, nothing bad has ever happened by letting a child read.  (Of course, use common sense.  I’m not suggesting you allow your children to read vulgar material.)

3.  Take them to the library – The library is one of the single most important facilities in your community.  Not only will they have virtually any book your child may be interested in reading, but your child will be able to check out as many books as they wish.  Grabbing armfuls of books can be a euphoric experience, trust me.   Furthermore, allow your child to take advantage of the available up-to-date movies, music, and video games.  Maybe the kids will be a little more excited to go to the library if you promise them a movie and game as well.  Furthermore, your library will probably have all kinds of events in which your child could participate.  Personally, I love that it’s all free.

4.  Spoil them a little – When I was a kid, comic books were available at my local grocery store.  When my parents shopped, they’d drop me off at the newsstand and would always buy me two or three comics a week.  Though that amount totaled less than three dollars, it meant the world to me.  I looked so forward to those trips.  We all love to get a little something now and again.  If financially able, take a monthly trip to your local book store and spoil your child with a book.  Trust me, it’s a wise investment, and I know your child will count the days until that next trip.

5.  Connect it to TV and movies – You know how people always say the book is better than the movie?  They say that because it’s true.  Since the advent of movies, books have provided their source material.  If your child is interested in a new movie coming out that’s based on a book, offer to get the book for them to read before the movie’s release.  Then, after experiencing both, have them tell you about the similarities and differences.  I’m in no way suggesting a quiz or test (that will send them running away quicker than anything), but conduct a conversation.  Chances are, the child will love showing off what they know, and you’ll enjoy witnessing their critical thinking and comprehension skills.

There are dozens of more possibilities to entice your child to read, but these are a few that I personally believe in quite strongly.  I hope they are helpful to you!

Nasreen’s Secret School by Jeanette Winter – A Book Review

Though not particularly full of machismo, I am not prone to cry, but this book made the old eyes water just a bit.

Based on a true story during Taliban-occupied Afghanistan, Nasreen is a little girl whose parents are taken by Taliban troops.  She retreats within herself, no longer smiling or talking.  Desperate, her grandmother takes her to a secret school—a place forbidden for young girls by the Taliban.  There Nasreen is given a glimpse of the outside world, a place where artistry, intelligence, and learning is valued.

Aimed at children, I picked this book up for my own daughter.  I wanted her to have a worldly view.  However, I think I learned just as much from Nasreen’s Secret School as she will.  It reaffirmed my faith in the power of education and the importance of allowing children all over the world to learn.  It reminded me that through academics, a child can realize self-worth and overcome isolation.  It made me proud to be an educator myself.

The art is magnificent as well.  And though delivered in a simple fashion, it only serves to bolster the emotional impact of an already powerful narrative.  They are stunning not just for their colors and style, but for the passion they convey.

I completely recommend Nasreen’s Secret School not just for children, but also for adults who may have forgotten the significance of a child’s education.