Navigating Your Child’s Education:
A Blog for Parents

Ages 3-K

Math for Preschoolers: Easy as 1-2-3?

When it comes to preschoolers and math, counting numbers is likely the first thing that comes to mind. Learning to count is typically the first obvious "math" skill that children pick up in their earliest years. But as babies and toddlers become preschoolers and move closer and closer to Kindergarten, there are a number of additional "math" skills that they must acquire as a foundation for their formal education.

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Books Build a Lifetime of Connection

We know that early literacy is important and a great indicator of future academic success, but there are many other benefits to young children reading and engaging with books, especially when doing so with a caring adult. Reading offers the opportunity for children and caregivers to experience several elements that strengthen their connection with each other.

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A Time for Everything

I never thought physics would have a direct impact on my parenting. Yet, as my kids get older, I find myself thinking more about time and space, and I'm beginning to see these realities in a new way.

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Grades 1-5

Five Steps Parents and Kids Can Take Toward Emotional Development

“Don’t be sad.”

“You shouldn’t feel scared.”

“Stop being angry.”

“You don’t need to get your feelings hurt over it.”

“You should be so thankful.”

It’s not uncommon to hear parents addressing their children with comments or corrections involving how a child should or should not feel. This is especially true with emotions many deem “negative” such as hurt, fear, anger, and sadness. Though these admonishments may be well-intentioned, I believe they miss the mark on what human beings are supposed to do. We are, by our very nature, highly emotional beings capable of experiencing a broad range of sentiments. If children are consistently taught to ignore or squelch “bad” emotions, they will likely be unprepared for life. A healthier, more holistic approach is to empower our children emotionally by teaching them to experience and express a wide range of emotions, and help them learn to regulate their emotions when necessary.

Emotional empowerment has five primary stages. Parents can practice each of these stages with their child no matter the child’s age. These are fundamental skills that everyone needs. Developing the ability to identify, express, and regulate emotions is a life-long process, one in which there is always room for growth and improvement. As such, parents can serve as models for their own children as every member of the family seeks to grow and mature.

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The Right Moves

Dancing is often considered an activity for a select few, namely those who have a natural ability for creative movement, those who are graceful, those who gravitate towards music and have an innate sense of rhythm. In recent years, youth dance has also been portrayed in a certain way thanks to media exposure such as the popular Lifetime television series "Dance Moms." These platforms cast dance as a dramatic, competitive, even sexualized activity for children and youth, especially girls. Through my experience as a dancer and dance instructor for the last 15 years, I have come to see that these two basic understandings of dance--that it is for a select few and that it is largely dramatic and competitive--are misconceptions worth dispelling.

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Books That Shape Us

Books have a way of shaping who we are. As a former second grade teacher, I know first-hand what impact reading can have on a young mind. There are, of course, the essential literacy skills built through reading from exposure to books from the earliest years of a child's life and through elementary school. But of equal value to literacy skills are the ideas presented in children's books, lessons about life, that influence a child and help to shape who they are.

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Grades 6-8

Easing the Pain of Summer Reading

As each school year comes to a close, parents and students alike collectively breathe a sigh of relief. Summer! That glorious break from the stress of writing papers, meeting project deadlines, and late-night study sessions. Yet, there is often this little nagging thing that tends to hang over the sunshiny months between school years, creating stress, frustration, and conflict between parents and their students: summer reading. Many schools, especially for students in middle school and high school, have required summer reading. It may be just one or two books already selected by teachers or students may be given options of books to read. No matter the structure or requirements, what I have witnessed in my own experience of teaching seventh- and eighth-graders is that students typically fall into one of two camps when it comes to summer reading—the early-readers and the procrastinators. 

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Three Big Mistakes Student-Athletes Make

As an athletic trainer for middle and high school sports for the last 13 years, I have worked with hundreds of young athletes. The youth sports world is an increasingly competitive one, and it’s not uncommon for students to play on multiple teams or in multiple sports—often playing year-round. Though many young athletes are looking to gain a competitive advantage and increase their strength and physicality, there are three basic but significant mistakes I see students make as they engage with sports. Knowing what these mistakes are and avoiding them will ensure that your young athlete is set up for success in their athletic endeavors.

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Five Signs Your Child is Struggling with Schoolwork

Ups and downs in school are inevitable, and some subjects and grades might go more smoothly than others for your child. No child has a completely trouble-free school experience, but it’s important to be aware of issues that might have deeper roots and require more intensive intervention.

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Grades 9-12

Teens and Money

In many ways, money is a taboo topic in our culture. Most of us don’t dare talk about how much money we make or spend. We hold financial information close to the chest, as a very private matter. So, when it comes to discussing money and teaching our kids about finances, it can be a challenge. From a young age, kids begin to understand that in order to get the things they want or need, money is required. However, the complexities of saving, giving, and investing money do not come naturally to a child and must be taught and reinforced over time.

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Vocation: More than Just a Job

Even at an early age, students begin to ask the legitimate question, “Why are we learning this?” By the time a student reaches high school, they have likely perfected asking this question.

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Thoughts on Coaching

[Editor's Note: This blog post is an adapted excerpt from the Navigating Your Child's Education Podcast episode "What makes a good coach?" featuring a candid conversation with Coach Hartings. Make sure to check it out here.]

With over half of high school students across the U.S. competing in interscholastic sports, it’s safe to say that coaches have a strong influence on our young people. In my own journey as an athlete, parent, and coach, I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of coaching. Coaches can have a tremendous impact on their players—both positive and negative. It’s important for parents to carefully consider who is influencing their children when it comes to athletics and coaching.

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