Reading Aloud Together

Build the Habit of Reading Aloud Together

Man and two children sitting in living room reading book and smiWhat’s one simple thing you can do to help your child do better in school this year? Read aloud with her often.

Reading aloud is a way to introduce young children to the world of books. It is also a way to encourage children to make reading a daily habit.

And studies show that even long after children learn to read for themselves, they still enjoy read-aloud time.

Here are some tips to make your read-aloud time at home more successful:

  • Make reading aloud a priority. Plan for it. Set aside time for it every day, and then just do it.
  • Read books you both enjoy. There’s nothing worse than having 100 pages to go in a book neither of you can stand. If you have any doubt your child will like a book, skim it before you start.
  • Read some books that are a little too hard for your child to read alone. This is a great way to increase your child’s vocabulary.

Reprinted with permission from the September 2013 issue of Parents make the difference!® (Elementary School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

Are You Staying Connected to Your High Schooler?

Man and girl on bikes outdoors smilingTeens often act like they want their parents to disappear, when in fact, they actually want to stay connected. Studies show that teens who remain close to parents are happier, healthier and do better in school. They also stay closer as adults.

Are you staying connected? Answer yes or no to the questions below to find out:

___1. Do you have a regular “appointment” to do something fun together, one on one?

___2. Do you do things your teen likes?

___3. Do you listen to your teen’s music?

___4. Do you volunteer to drive your teen and his friends places?

___5. Do you try to spend less money and more time with your teen?

How well are you doing?

Each yes answer is a way to build stronger bonds with your teen–both now and in the future. For each no answer, try that idea from the quiz to strengthen your relationship.

Reprinted with permission from the October 2013 issue of Parents Still make the difference!® (High School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

Establish Routines and Positive Habits for the New School Year

AL-gKs_0371It’s the beginning of a new school year–the perfect time to set the stage for learning success. To make sure your child shows up at school ready to learn:

  • Get a head start. Many families find that organizing at night prevents morning “rush hour.” You can review school papers, pack and refrigerate lunches, set backpacks by the door and agree on outfits.
  • Establish sleep routines. Choose reasonable bedtimes so everyone is rested when the alarm clock goes off. Do your best to stick with them.
  • Develop morning habits. If your child does the same things, in the same order, each morning, it’s less likely that she will forget a step. For example, make bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth and put on shoes.
  • Choose a homework time. With your child, pick a time when she will have the most energy and motivation to do assignments. Create a quiet study spot, complete with necessary supplies, where she can work at the same time each day.
  • Use organizational tools. What will help your child stay organized? She might use calendars, to-do lists or a folder system.
  • Set priorities. Schedule things like schoolwork, family meals and even free time on a calendar. Treat them like appointments. If there are openings, your child can add activities.

Reprinted with permission from the September 2013 issue of Parents make the difference!® (Elementary School Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc.

Encourage Your Preschooler to Talk About Daily Activities

ai_gsf_0129_11434When your child begins school, her teacher will want her to talk about her thoughts, ideas and experiences. This kind of communication is a very important part of preschool and kindergarten.

Here are some ways to help your child get ready:

  • Get the story behind your child’s drawings. When your child draws a picture, ask her to tell you about it. Then write a sentence or two of her description underneath her drawing. Read her story together.
  • Talk about your own day with your child. For example, say more than, “We’re going out.” Instead, try, “We are going to the grocery store this afternoon. I need to get some fruit and a box of cereal. You can help me pick them out.”
  • Help your child tell a story in sequence. This helps her learn that one event follows another. For example, ask her, “What are some of the things you do after dinner and before bed?” If she’s not sure, say, “You brush your teeth. Then what do you do?”
  • Encourage your child to provide details. Say your child tells you that she went out to the playground with her preschool class. Ask her questions that will help her recreate more of that experience. “What color is the slide?” “Did you like playing on the swings or on the monkey bars more?” “Who was playing with you on the playground?”

Reprinted with permission from the September 2013 issue of Parents make the difference!® (Early Childhood Edition) newsletter. Copyright © 2013 The Parent Institute®, a division of NIS, Inc. Source: C. Wright, A Parent’s Guide to Home and School Success: Kindergarten, Brighter Vision Publications.


Car Seat 101

Written By Michelle Greenough, Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician

Mother Fastening Safety Clip On Baby SeatAs the mom of two, I have had my hands on a fair share of car seats.  From carriers to convertibles, forward-facing only to combination, and boosters – you name it, I have bought it, gifted it, looked at it, owned it, and installed it.  I am rule follower to a fault so, you better believe I have done my research on any safety seat we have ever owned and practically memorized the instruction booklets!  I vividly remember installing my first infant carrier base.  It took both my husband and I an hour, at least; it was winter and we were sweating!  I was so proud when we took that seat to a local dealership for one of their checkup events and they told me we had done it perfectly!  I also remember being told that about 95% of the car seats they see come in are installed improperly!

Now, I am also a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and I see many of the common mistakes that parents make when it comes to car seat selection and installation.  Here are some things to think about when shopping for a car seat.

What is the best Child Restraint?

  • Does it fit your child?
  • Does it fit your vehicle?
  • Will you use it correctly every time?

 Should I use a used Child Restraint?

  • Do you know the complete history?
  • Are all labels and instructions present?
  • Do you know if there are any recalls?
  • Are all parts present and in working order?
  • Is the seat free of cracks, loose rivets, and other damage?
  • Is it no older than 6 years old?

 What are the laws in Iowa for car seats?

Some key points about the law:

  • Children under 1 year old and less than 20 pounds must be in a rear facing car seat.  BEST PRACTICE, determined by the American Academy of Pediatrics, is that children remain rear-facing until at least age 2 or until they reach the maximum height and weight requirements of their restraint.
  • Children 1-6 years old must be in a safety seat or booster.  BEST PRACTICE says that most children are not developmentally ready for a booster seat until at least age 4 and should remain in car seats with harness straps until they reach the highest limits for that seat.  Many seats will now forward face anywhere from 50-80 pounds.
  • Children ages 6-11 must be in a safety seat, booster, or vehicle safety belt.  BEST PRACTICE says that most children will not be physically large enough for ad adult seat belt until they are between 8 and 12 years of age.  Even then, they should be checked to see if they fit properly without a booster.

Unfortunately, the laws in Iowa are among the 12 worst when it comes to states not keeping up with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations.

For more information about Child Passenger Safety and resources in our area, including check-up events, please check out Blank Children’s Hospital at