Students At Home

For Everyone Who Learns at Home

Best Crayons for Hot Summer Weather

On a family vacation to Valley Forge and Philadelphia, my parents, sister and I toured Betsy Ross’s house, saw the Liberty Bell and picnicked on the site of the Revolutionary War soldiers’ camp.

It was an exciting vacation, but the drive was well over three hours. To keep us entertained, we took crayons and a coloring book.

Unfortunately, it was so hot in the car that our crayons melted all over the rear window dash!

Don’t let that happen to you this summer! Take crayons that won’t melt inside a hot car.

crayon meltThe winning crayons (i.e. the brand that melts the slowest in hot temperatures) is Cra-Z-Art from Walmart. The loser is Scholastic.

It’s okay, though, if you don’t want to buy new crayons. Simply pack your crayons in a plastic bag and place them in thermal bag with an ice pack or frozen water bottle. They’ll stay nice and cool and will be ready to color when your kids need a playtime activity in the car on hot summer days.

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Five Easy Security Tips for Your New Home

Whether you’re moving out on your own for the very first time, finally found your dream home or are downsizing for retirement, security in your new home is important. I’ve moved a few times over the years, and security is always one of the first things on my mind. That’s why I compiled these top security tips. Don’t worry – they’re easy!

1. Close your blinds. Burglars like looking through windows to see what valuables you own, and they easily gain access through first floor windows. Keep your blinds closed to deter anyone from looking into your home!

2. Replace the door hinge screws. Did you know that most door hinge screws are super tiny? They’re easy to bust off during a break-in, so replace them with long screws.

door hinge screws

3. Watch your trash. Believe it or not, your trash reveals a lot about your home’s contents! Packing materials advertise that you’ve just moved in, and television or electronics boxes tell thieves that you own expensive stuff that’s easy to sell. Take any revealing items or boxes like these directly to the recycling center or landfill as you protect your home.

4. Change the locks. In a few minutes, you can change the door knobs and locks. Bonus tips: if you live in a dorm and can’t change the locks, ask for a new lock right away, and don’t give anyone a copy of your key!

5. Install fake cameras. Even if you don’t connect it – or it’s broken! – hang a surveillance camera near your home’s entrances and deter burglars.

These are my five easy security tips for a new home. What other security tips do you recommend?

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Meet Julia, the Sesame Street Puppet With Autism

I’ve always been a Sesame Street fan. I remember watching the show as a child (Bert, Mr. Snuffleupagus and Slimey were my favorite characters!), and I introduced my kids to it. We watched every morning. My daughter especially loved Elmo!

This week, I learned that a new puppet is joining the show. Her name is Julia, and she has autism.

Autism is a spectrum, and every child experiences it differently. That means Julia won’t represent every kid with autism, including my son. However, I am encouraged that such an influential show is including a puppet with the disorder that affects one in 48 children. And the other characters eagerly welcome her into their neighborhood and look for ways to include her as they play.

Want to learn more? Watch Sesame Street! Or check out these links.

60 Minutes

The Autism Daddy

 

 

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DIY Made Easy

One of the bloggers I follow wrote an interesting post today. She introduced Kathy Ceceri, a DIY professional. Check out the post and learn about some fun, creative projects you can do with your kids!

I Want You To Meet Kathy Ceceri

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Are We Really So Different?

As a business owner and copywriter, I follow several business bloggers. Seth Godin is one of the people whose writings often teach me something new. Today, he blogged about differences. His words hit a chord, and God used them to remind me to change my perspective.

Are we really so different?

What would life be like if we looked for commonalities?

Read the article here and let me know what you think.

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Teaching My Kids About Politics

y-and-recorded-message-from-donald-trumpGrowing up, politics was a big deal in my family. My dad never missed an opportunity to vote, even if he had to leave work early to make it to the polling place on time. Usually, he took me with him. I learned early that voting is our right and responsibility as American citizens.

That’s why turning 18 was a big deal for me! I could finally vote! What an honor and privilege! And when my study abroad semester found me living overseas during the 1996 election, I eagerly signed up to receive an absentee ballot (I still have the Egyptian newspaper that announced the winner!).

Fast forward to this year. I’m now a mom with two kids. They’re both in middle school and definitely opinionated about all kinds of topics like their favorite music, cars, food, beliefs and books, so it makes sense to include them in our political discussions.

Plus, hubby and I are both very into politics. Even though we don’t always agree, we do often watch political talk shows and the news together, and we regularly discuss current events. In fact, everyone knew well in advance that I would be taking over the remote when the conventions aired. They’re a highlight for me since I love the patriotic stories. (And I also hoped that this year’s conventions would help me decide who to vote for!)

We’re now less than two months away from the election. I’m still not totally convinced on which presidential candidate will get my vote, but my kids have their minds made up, and their arguments for their candidate are very logical and convincing. My son even likes to listen to the recorded political phone calls we receive.

I finally captured his joy tonight. He listened to the whole message from Donald Trump with a highly animated look on his face, and was so excited!

Because it was a big deal to him, I decided to post the picture on Facebook. Some of my friends shared his enthusiasm, others commented on how handsome he looks and one  lady blocked me.

I actually laughed when I saw that she blocked me, then I deleted her comment. And that led me to consider whether I was right to post something political on my page.

Generally, I avoid controversy. Life is hard enough without starting fights online! But I am proud of my kids for being interested in politics and for making their own political decisions. I believe I owe it to them to teach them how to weigh the candidate’s words and actions, consider all the facts and decide who they will support. That’s why I shared my son’s picture. I wanted to support his right to his own opinion and share with my friends that he has been listening and learning and knows who he wants to win. I’m proud that he is willing to stand up for what he believes in, and I won’t apologize for that!

So whether or not you agree with him or with me, know that I will not unfriend you (unless you get obnoxious, rude or mean about it!). I welcome conversation and support your freedom to vote, live and choose as you wish. Those are the same values I wish to teach my children as I equip them to participate in their democratic right and responsibility.

God Bless America!

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Zones of Regulation: A Behavior Breakthrough

It’s a yellow/blue kind of day. I woke up feeling blah, and I’m not sure why.

Maybe it’s because I didn’t sleep well. Maybe it’s the donut I ate for breakfast. Maybe it’s the busy day I had yesterday at the pool.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad to be able to use the Zones of Regulation. They help me acknowledge how I feel and give me actionable steps to fix my day and prevent me from going into the angry zone.

I discovered the Zones of Regulation a few years ago. My son’s speech, occupational and behavior therapists encouraged us to use the Zones as part of our behavior toolbox. With the Zones, my son can figure out how he’s feeling. That’s the first step to regulating his behavior and helping him stay on an even keel so that he can learn.

Over the years, I’ve adopted the Zones, too. After all, I have emotions like my kids do. Plus, I can’t parent well if I’m not taking care of myself. Especially in the past few months, I’ve been using the Zones to keep in touch with my emotions and process my feelings.

What are the Zones of Regulation?

According to the Zones of Regulation website, the Zones is a “systematic, cognitive behavior approach used to teach self-regulation by categorizing all the different ways we feel and states of alertness we experience into four concrete zones.  The Zones curriculum provides strategies to teach students to become more aware of, and independent in controlling their emotions and impulses, managing their sensory needs, and improving their ability to problem solve conflicts.”

In a nutshell, the Zones help us figure out how we’re feeling. They also give us tools to help us manage and regulate our emotions. It’s a tool many therapists use, and it’s been a beneficial tool in our home.

zones-of-regulation

 

Think of the Zones as Traffic Signals

In an ideal world, everyone would be in the Green Zone all the time. As we all know, though, emotions change. Sometimes, we can go from Green to Yellow in a matter of seconds. Don’t believe me? Try saying no to a toddler and watch them change from cooperative to obstinate in a hurry!

That’s where the Zone traffic signals come into play. Like traffic signals tell you how to drive on the road, we use traffic signals to identify our Zones.

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Green means you’re good to go. In the Green Zone, run errands, clean the house and play games without worrying that someone will be overwhelmed, throw a fit or object to the activity.

Yellow cautions you to be aware. Slow down and take a few minutes to identify how you’re feeling. Then take steps to address the anxiety, get out the wiggles or deal with nervousness so that you can move forward.

Blue gives you an opportunity to rest or re-energize. Take it easy, rest and relax.

Red means stop. Make sure everyone is safe and step back. Don’t push, prod, nag or move forward until you have calmed down and are out of Red.

What Zone are you In?

The Zones of Regulation are a constant part of my family’s daily routine. We often ask each other, “What Zone are you in?” It helps us figure out where we’re at emotionally. Depending on the Zone we’re in, we can change our schedule or use other coping strategies like exercise or games to help us calm down, rest or feel better.

The Zones help my family, and they can help your family, too. Take a look at these resources for more information.

zonesofregulation.com

socialthinking.com

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We All Learn at Home

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When I first started this blog, I was homeschooling my two children. Home education had always been a dream of mine because I wanted my kids to have the opportunity to learn at their own pace and study topics that interested them. I also wanted a flexible schedule that allowed us to sleep in if necessary, enjoy a short school day and help my husband in his business.

We homeschooled for five years until my daughter asked to attend public school for third grade. To be honest, I resisted at first. It took a few weeks for me to let go of my dream. And it turned out to be the best decision we could have made for her because she flourished in her classroom.

The next year, her younger brother started public school under different circumstances. He has autism and other special needs, and his needs because more than I could handle at home. Because his transition to school was a little more challenging and because I was no longer homeschooling, I stopped writing this blog.

A month ago, I decided to revive it. I was reading through my journals over the last three years and realized that we have learned a ton of lessons in our home even though we were no longer doing school at home. I’m also a writer at heart and needed a space to express my thoughts, opinions and things I’m learning.

Seth Godin‘s blog post from July 3 hit a chord with me. He’s a writer and business mentor, and here are his words.

We are all home schooled

“Day after day, year after year, it’s the interactions we have at home that have the biggest impact on who we become.

Public school is an essential part of our culture. But the inputs and foundations that parents create are essential and they are truly difficult to outsource.

What would happen if you figured out how to spend two hours a day, every day, without electronics, with your kids? Looking them in the eye, being present, doing projects, setting standards, raising the bar, learning, seeing, hearing, connecting, challenging, questioning, being questioned…”

Whether you home, public, cyber or combo educate your kids, they and you are learning when you’re at home. You make an impact on  your kids, and they can teach  you lessons, too. I know my kids teach me new things every week. What have you learned today?

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Summer Literacy Ideas

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Summer has officially started in my house. That means we get to sleep in, go to the pool and start reading. Every year, our local library hosts a summer reading program, and the kids earn rewards for reading.This year, they can earn an ice cream cone, comic book, admission to the local ice skating rink and bowling.

While my daughter eagerly embraces the challenge, my son is not so enthusiastic. He does not enjoy opening a book and discovering its treasures.

I found this list of alternative reading options for him at http://childhood101.com/2015/10/10-things-to-read-with-kids/

*Magazines
*Closed captioning
*Menus
*Cereal boxes
*Comics
*Seed packets
*Billboards

What else would you recommend?

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Child Proof Your iPad

We don’t have an iPad, but my son uses one for both his speech and occupational therapies. If you have an iPad or plan to buy one for Christmas, check out this blog post by iGameMom. She shares her love for all things tech, which is great for non-techies like me!

http://igamemom.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/how-to-child-proof-ipad/

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