5 Great Back-To-School Apps

Here are 5 great apps that can support your kids’ learning, whether they’re in elementary, middle, or high school. They’re all free, so encourage your kids to download as many of them as possible as they’re heading back to school this fall.


Available at: Apple Appstore; Google Play

If there’s one thing all kids need for their schoolwork it’s a dictionary. Gone are the days of the paper-bound tomb, so you’ll have a much easier time teaching them the joys of looking up and learning new words by having them download Dictionary.com. The largest dictionary app in English with more than 2 million definitions and synonyms, it has other useful features like voice search, if they don’t know the correct spelling of a word, and audio pronunciations, which can teach them the proper pronunciation of words.


Available at: Apple Appstore; Google Play

Most schools across the country require students to learn a language other than English. Duolingo is a great supplement to the foreign language instruction your kids receive at school. The app, which offers lessons in more than 30 major languages, teaches them how to speak, read, and write another language. The lessons are divided into modules that practice specific skills, and they can assess how much they’ve learned as they go along or when they’ve completed a module.

Flashcards with Cram

Available at: Apple Appstore; Google Play

When your kids sit down to study, one of the best study tools is flashcards. Flashcards with Cram lets them access more than eight million flashcards on all the major school subjects. They can also create their own flashcards, using both text and images, and share those flashcards with study partners. They can go through entire sets of flashcards when they study for a test or exam, or hide flashcards they already know for more effective studying. They can also have the flashcard read out loud to them, which is useful if they’re auditory learners.

Homework App

Available at: Apple Appstore; Google Play

Homework! The thing kids dread the most after a long day at school. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The award-winning Homework App makes it easy for them to stay on top of all of their homework assignments. They can view their assignments by day, month, and year, color code different subjects, take photos of assignments and break them down into many sub-tasks, and set reminders so they don’t end up submitting their assignments late.


Available at: Apple Appstore; Google Play

Some students find math easy, others very difficult. They’d all find Photomath a great study tool. All they need to do is take a picture of a math problem with their phones, and the app will automatically show step-by-step instructions on how to solve the problem. The app has a built-in calculator and can even understand hand-written math problems. Obviously, they should try to solve the problems themselves first and then check their answers against the app.

You may also like:

Back to School Anxiety

How to help kids manage worries and have a successful start to the school year

The start of the new school year is exciting for most kids. But it also prompts a spike in anxiety: Even kids who are usually pretty easy-going get butterflies, and kids prone to anxiety get clingier and more nervous than usual. Parents feel the pain, too: Leaving a crying child at preschool isn’t anyone’s idea of fun. And having to talk a panicked first-grader onto the bus or out of the car at school can be a real test of your diplomatic skills.

Kids who normally have a little trouble separating from mom and dad will see their anxiety peak during times of stress or transition, notes Rachel Busman, PsyD, a clinical psychologist.

The start of school may be especially challenging for kids who are entering a transition year, she adds – going into kindergarten, into middle school, to a new school. It can also be stressful if there’s a change in your child’s social support system – maybe a good friend has moved or has a different teacher this year.

For most kids, the new-school-year worries will fade and the anxious behaviors will be transient, Dr. Busman adds. The goal for parents is to be supportive without exacerbating their child’s worries. Here are tips for helping nervous kids have a successful transition back to school.

Take your own temperature

For parents, the start of the year can be anxiety-inducing, too, Dr. Busman notes. The pressure’s on you to reinstate routines after the summer break and arrange for new activities and schedules, not to speak of facing the resumption of homework.

Dr. Busman recommends taking your own temperature to make sure you’re not passing on stress to your kids. And to enable you to manage your own stress, she says, it’s important not to take on more commitments than the family can handle comfortably. “I think there’s a contagion effect that we have to be careful of,” she adds.

Listen to worries

When kids express anxiety about going back to school –   a new teacher, increases in homework, making a team, a friend crisis – do listen seriously.

Rather than dismissing these fears (“Nothing to be worried about! You’ll be fine!”), listening to them and acknowledging your child’s feelings will help them feel more secure. And if they want to, you can bolster their confidence by helping them strategize about how to handle things they’re concerned about.

But keep in mind that kids often want to be able to talk about something they’re upset about without expecting you to fix them. Your job is to validate their feelings (“I know that’s hard”) and demonstrate confidence that they can handle the situation.

Don’t ask questions that suggest you expect kids to be anxious (“Are you worried about having Mr. Connelly for math?”) but check in with them in a more casual way. “It doesn’t have to be a half-hour discussion,” notes Dr. Busman, “but in the car on the way to get a new backpack, you might ask, “Do you know what you’re going to be learning in math this year?” Kids often say more when there is less pressure to “have a talk.”

Do some test runs

If you anticipate that your child will be seriously nervous on the first day, it helps to give them time to get used to the new school or new classroom in advance. Go to the school several times before school starts, and do as much walking the halls as you can, to locate their classroom, the lavatory, the cafeteria, the playground. Repetition is good; going by again just to ask a question at the office, or drop off a form, gives them more chances to get comfortable being there.

If you can, introduce them to their teacher. Let them practice staying in the classroom for a few minutes while you walk down the hall to drop off a note at the nurse’s office.

Even driving to the school on the weekend and having them practice getting out of the car at the drop-off point can help them get familiar with that routine.

“Any opportunity for exposure, for repetition, for mastery is going to help them do what we call ‘coping ahead,'” Dr. Busman notes.

Let someone know

If your child needs extra support to make a successful transition, let someone at school know –     their teacher, an aide, the school psychologist or the school nurse. You want to communicate that your child is looking forward to school and is excited – you’re sure they’ll be fine – but they will be much more comfortable if they can meet the teacher briefly and see the classroom before the crowded, chaotic first day when all the other kids will be there.

You’re not asking for a lot -just a little exposure that will set them up to succeed. And you’d like the staff to be alert to signs that they might need an assist.

Arrange for a handoff

If you think your child will be reluctant to separate, it’s very helpful to have someone primed to meet and engage them when you arrive. The teacher may be too overwhelmed to pay special attention to your child, Dr. Busman notes, “but maybe they have a buddy in the class, or you could ask an aide, the nurse, the school psychologist, to plan for a handoff.”

What you want that person to do is not to talk about or dwell on their anxiety, she explains, but to engage your child in some activity. Asking the child for help is a good way to do that – “Can you help me carry all the magnet tiles over to this bin?”

Giving the child a role is transparent, Dr. Busman notes. “They’re not pretending the parents aren’t leaving, but they’re helping your child get involved in the classroom, be part of the community. Kids, for the most part, love to please adults and want to be part of the activity, so it can really help take their minds off anxiety.”

When separation problems persist

Leaving a child who is crying or whining at school is a tough thing for any parent to do. “But most kids are pretty resilient,” Dr. Busman notes, “and we don’t want to underestimate their ability to cope. Most kids recover quickly once mom or dad leaves.”

If your child’s teacher reports that they bounce back and participate enthusiastically in activities during the day, the best way to help them get more confident about separating from you is not worrying too much about their complaints.

“It’s not being a bad parent to ignore a little bit of whining or reluctance,” says Dr. Busman. “It will actually help a child move beyond it if you give more attention to things that you do want to see them do.”

You want to give specific praise for brave behavior. For example, remind them you will be back to get them and tell them things like, “Great job coming to preschool today.

When I pick you up, I hope you’ll tell me something fun you did.”

“The way we as adults interact and react is so important: a little bit of active ignoring, a little bit of positive attention and a lot of encouragement,” Dr. Busman notes.

If kids continue to have full-blown separation problems and the fear that something bad will happen to their parents interferes with their ability to function in school, they should be evaluated by a mental health professional.

Stomachaches and headaches

Anxiety about school sometimes takes the form of headaches and stomachaches in the morning that kids say make them too sick to go to school. If your child develops a pattern of these symptoms, it’s important to get your child checked out by a pediatrician; you don’t want to overlook a medical problem.

But if the pattern persists, going to school may be the problem.

The most important thing a parent can do when kids resist going is to continue sending them to school anyway. This may be difficult, but if we allow children to avoid situations that make them anxious, we can inadvertently reinforce that those situations are indeed dangerous or scary.

But if a child continues to complain about physical symptoms, it’s also important to investigate what might be causing anxiety. It could be a sign of an anxiety disorder or another problem at school. For instance:

  • A child with OCD might avoid going to school because it’s hard for them to manage their anxiety there
  • A child who’s been bullied may be afraid to go to school because their tormenters are there
  • A child with separation anxiety might be afraid something terrible will happen to mom if they’re apart
  • A child with an undiagnosed learning disorder might be avoiding shame and embarrassment

School refusal

When stomachaches and headaches and other reasons not to go to school –   or to go late or leave early –        become persistent, a child may have developed what’s called school refusal.

“Everyone resists going to school once in a while, but school refusal is an extreme pattern of avoiding school that causes real problems for a child,” says Dr. Busman. School refusal is distinguished from normal avoidance by a number of factors:

  • How long a child has been avoiding school
  • How much distress they associate with attending school
  • How strongly they resist
  • How much their resistance is interfering with their (and their family’s) life

If a child’s resistance to school is overwhelming and prolonged, they should be evaluated by a mental health professional, and it’s good to be proactive rather than waiting months for it to pass. “Unfortunately, the longer a child misses school, the harder it is to get back in the routine,” Dr. Busman notes, “because being absent reinforces the anxiety that is keeping them away.”

You may also like:

Benefits of Making Healthy Snacks Visually Appealing to Kids

A healthy and well-balanced diet is important for kids to maintain healthy growth and development. Snack time is a great way to incorporate fruits and vegetables into a child’s daily diet. Children have smaller stomachs than adults and therefore are less likely to eat enough at meals to keep them full and energized until the next mealtime, making snack time a great way for parents to get in those extra nutrients. They also offer a variety of benefits.

Snacking helps kids develop healthy habits

Including three meals and two healthy snacks into your child’s daily diet helps kids learn healthy eating habits that will stick with them for a lifetime. Providing a well-balanced and healthy diet helps kids learn appropriate portion control, eat (and enjoy) a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables and develop a healthy relationship with food. Kids who learn these valuable habits early are less likely to form unhealthy eating habits such as eating out of boredom or based on emotional factors. They also learn to eat when they are hungry and stop eating when they are full, a skill many adults struggle with.

Snacking gives kids the boost they need

Without snacking, kids are less likely to meet the suggested nutritional intake to maintain a healthy diet because their stomachs are smaller and become full with a smaller meal. Adding two small snacks a day that provide fruit, veggies, low-fat dairy or whole grain helps kids fill in the nutritional gaps they may have been missing from breakfast, lunch and dinner. In addition, snacks provide a boost of energy to get kids through the rest of the day.

Snacking benefits a child’s overall health

The development of healthy eating habits at a young age decreases the likelihood of children developing diseases like cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease. Kids who eat more fruits and vegetables and less “junk food” that contains high quantities of sugar are also more likely to have better dental hygiene. Kids who maintain a healthy diet, including smart snack choices, are less likely to binge on foods high in calories and carbohydrates and are more likely to maintain a healthy weight throughout their lives.

Snacking helps power brain development

Kids who eat healthy snacks are generally more prepared to listen and learn at school because their bellies are full. They have more energy and are more attentive in class. Hungry kids become irritable, tired and less alert. A healthy snack can do a lot to help kids grow and develop properly.

Now that we understand the great benefits of healthy snacking, how can we get our kids to eat the fruits and vegetables their bodies need? Preparing fun snacks encourages kids to try new foods and may even help them forget they are eating healthy food at all. Here are some great snacks that kids will have fun eating.

Healthy and Visually Appealing Snacks for Kids

  • Frozen banana “ice cream” – For a tasty sweet treat that is also healthy, simply slice a banana and freeze overnight. The next day put the bananas in a blender or food processor and you will have a creamy, healthy snack that tastes similar to ice cream.
  • Apple slices – Slices of apple can be more appetizing for kids and are fun to eat. Add a side of peanut butter for dipping to make them even more appealing.
  • Fruit Kabobs – Fun fruit kabobs are visually appealing and fun to eat. Create “caterpillars” out of grapes for a snack that is cute and healthy. Another way to make fruit appealing is to use cookie cutters to cut interesting shapes.
  • Ants on a log – This cute snack is great for an afternoon snack or a fun surprise in the lunchbox. Simply fill celery with peanut butter and top with raisins to make “ants on a log.”
  • Dinosaur broccoli trees – To a kid, broccoli resembles a tree. Why not make it fun and bring the dinosaur toys to the table to “share the trees.” Add some fun dip like ranch, blue cheese or cottage cheese to the side to make it more appealing.
  • Zucchini spaghetti – Kids love spaghetti. This healthier alternative is just as tasty as traditional spaghetti noodles.

You may also like:

Questions and Things to Avoid when meeting your child’s teacher

The time allotted to meet your child’s teacher for the first time is short, and you want to make it count. As a former principal, I know how important this first interaction is for both your child and their teachers. It gives you a vital glimpse of where your child will be spending their school days and who will be guiding them during that time.

Here are some great get-to-know-you questions for their teacher:

  • How will you respond if or when my child struggles in class?
  • What are the most important and complex (content-related) ideas my child needs to understand by the end of the year?
  • What kinds of questions do you suggest that I ask my children on a daily basis about your class?
  • Is there technology you’d recommend that can help support my child in self-directed learning?
  • What are the most common barriers you see to academic progress in your classroom?

Remember, Meet the Teacher is as much a get-to-know-you session for you with the teacher as it is for the teacher with you. It’s also a crazy time for teachers who are meeting as many as 25 to 30 students and their parents for the first time.

Here are our don’ts for that day:

  • Keep your time with the teacher short. Many parents need to interact with him or her. For highly personal or private information, schedule a conference or send an email.
  • Don’t expect the teacher to remember everything you’ve told them at that event. Follow up with an email that references the conversation and tells you how nice it was to meet that teacher and how excited you are for the year.
  • If your child has some special needs or there is something you want the teacher to know about your family or your child’s learning style, follow that up in an email.
  • Don’t keep information from a teacher. A study two years ago found that teachers do want to know about changes in the family or mental health issues, not just learning differences.

You may also like:

How to Launch a Thriving Business as a Stay-at-Home Parent

Do you want to be an entrepreneur? Launching a home-based business is a great way to bring in some extra income without spending money on childcare or sacrificing those first few years with your little ones to work a traditional job. Many parents have successfully launched lucrative businesses, and you can too! Check out the following tips to get your venture off the ground.

Advance Your Education

Getting a business education can help you become a more effective business owner. Consider going back to school and earning an advanced degree that will teach you key skills in economics, accounting, marketing and strategic planning. An online MBA program may be a great option! With online school, you won’t have to worry about finding someone to watch your kids while you’re in class. You get to learn on your own time and in a way that works best for you!

Research Your Business Idea and Learn About Your Target Market

Before you jump into your new business, take some time to research your idea carefully. Doing market research is essential for gathering information about who your buyers are, what they want and how your competitors are influencing their purchase decisions. Market research is important for determining if there’s a market for your business at all!

Still looking for an idea? Consider some of these business ideas from TheSelfEmployed.com. For example, you could start a craft business, offer consulting or sell your services as a local event planner. You can launch so many different business models from home!

It’s important to determine which demographic of customers is your primary audience. Your target market is the people who have the most to benefit from and the greatest need for your products or services. It’s also a good idea to explore your competitors to see who they’re marketing to.

Find a Family Routine that Works

In many ways, running a business is like raising a new baby. When you also have kids, it can feel impossible to find the time to get everything done. Try to come up with a family routine that feels efficient and comfortable for you. For example, Parents.com suggests pairing things up that work together, like working on your business while your baby naps or tackling some less mentally demanding tasks while your older kids plug away at their homework. It’s also a good idea to keep an organized and clutter-free home to limit stress and improve focus.

Use Technology to Make Life Easier

As you get used to juggling parenting and business ownership, take advantage of a few tech tools to make your life a little more manageable. Certain smartphone apps, like the Baby Tracker app and The Wonder Weeks, can help you track your baby’s developmental milestones, feedings, diaper changes, baths, medications and more.

Other tech tools can help you automate your business. For example, you can use email marketing apps like SendInBlue to schedule email campaigns and keep your customers engaged.

Prioritize Your Most Important Tasks

Knowing how to prioritize your work can help you get the most out of your sporadic work hours. By prioritizing the things you absolutely must get done, you’ll improve your productivity and foster better work-life balance. Focus your energy on tasks that will offer the biggest results. This is known as the Pareto Principle. Because these tasks often aren’t the most urgent, they can get put off in favor of more time-sensitive tasks like answering emails. Urgent tasks that aren’t that important should be delegated or automated.

Go Easy on Yourself

More often than not, you won’t be able to get to everything on your daily to-do list. Don’t beat yourself up over this! The last thing you need is to get frustrated by the things you couldn’t get done. At the end of a long day, think about all those tasks you managed to complete and the time you spent with your kids. You don’t have to spend all day grinding to build a successful business. Take your time, go at your own pace and make space for self-care in your schedule. You will get there in time!

Being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean you can’t work. If you’re looking for ways to pursue your passions, earn some money and maintain some sense of your professional life after having kids, launching a home business is a great idea!

You may also like:

Back to School Dos and Don'ts

Tips on navigating summer’s end, especially for kids who are anxious

The end of summer is in sight, and parents everywhere are feeling that inevitable anxiety over how to make the most of the upcoming school year. In my experience, anticipating the hurdles of reentry and carefully structuring the first few weeks of school goes a long way to setting the stage for a successful year, particularly if your child has an anxiety disorder or another psychiatric condition. With that in mind, here are some dos and don’ts for families who want to start the school year right.

DO Get Back Into the Routine

There are many positive things about summer, like more time to spend with your family and novel opportunities for your children. But summer is also a disrupting time for kids, who can easily forget that they were ever in school at all. So I strongly suggest that you start making the necessary readjustment to school life before the first day. There is no use denying that school is coming, and getting prepared earlier can get them off to a better start.

First, we want kids to start (and they’re going to resist) having more school-like hours. Even just a few days before school begins, bedtime should go back from 11:00 to 9:00, for example, or whatever is appropriate. Additionally, kids should be waking up around the time they’d have to wake up for school and performing the normal routine: shower, breakfast, getting dressed and so forth.

We also suggest that you limit “screen time”-whether it’s a computer, the TV or a handheld device and make sure they are off at least an hour before bed. Kids sometimes have a hard time separating from their virtual world, and if they don’t have some “downtime,” they’ll still be engaged and it will affect their ability to fall asleep on their own.

You can also shop for school supplies earlier rather than later. The selection at stores is better, which is no small matter when you’re trying to make the transition as easy as possible, and the activity primes kids for their eventual return to the classroom.

DON’T Forget to Refuel

When kids are with you, when you’re both on vacation, you know what and when they‘re eating, and if they’re staying up late, it’s likely to be watching a movie with you. When school starts again, you lose some control, even if you don’t realize it. You may assume that certain things are happening at school-or in your child’s bedroom-and then wonder what in the world has gotten into your suddenly surly, under-performing kid. Well, if they’re not eating until they’re starved, and they’re on Facebook until midnight. ..

I encourage all my families to be particularly aware of meals. Most kids wake up at 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. and may or may not have breakfast. For younger grades, lunch could be anywhere from 10:30 to 1:00. Do we know what they’re eating for lunch? Do they pack lunch or buy hot lunch? How much are they eating? Are they trading their sandwiches for cookies? Are they having a snack during afterschool activities? If they’re not having a snack, they could be coming home ravenous at 5:00 p.m., not be able to focus on homework for an hour, then get all of the day’s calories and nourishment at dinner and feel exhausted and have little mental energy for work. Then they get a second wind and are online into the wee hours.

The fact is that a well-fed, good sleeper is going to have a better school day and be more efficient with homework than a kid who’s over-tired and starving.

DO Talk About Changing Friendships

Summer can be a volatile time for young friendships, and talking about what to expect when school starts is a good way to ease kids into the idea that social relationships change. Sometimes your BFF one year may seem a little distant the next year, and letting kids know this sort of thing happens can help them weather these often-painful changes. Being able to share friends with other children, and to have friends overlap, is a skill that’s important to learn, which is why it’s something that warrants discussion. Not all problems need fixing; sometimes kids just want to be able to talk about these upsets without expecting you to fix them; sometimes kids just want parents to validate their feelings and say, “I know that’s hard.”

DON’T Share Your Anxieties

Parents are often very caught up in their children’s social lives because they want them to make good friends, be happy, and learn social skills that will help them be successful adults. These are all great reasons to be engaged, but kids don’t always understand the interest that way. This is particularly true of anxious kids.

For instance, it’s very easy for parents to get into the habit of asking, “Did you make any friends?” when kids come home from school. But that can be shaming for kids who are struggling or still figuring out where they fit in. Better questions would be, “How was your day?” or “Tell me three things you liked about your day” or “Tell me three things you didn’t like about your day.” Neutral questions are better than ones that a child might interpret as, “If you didn’t make friends, then I’m going to be disappointed in you.”

DO Have a Trial Run

One way to help kids get off on the right foot-or at least a better foot-is to give kids with anxiety problems, and certainly kids who have refused to go to school in the past, a “dry.run” a day or two before school starts. Driving by the building, walking in the building, getting reacquainted with the smells, sights and sounds; this can be necessary to make day one happen at all.

Trial runs are also really good for kids transitioning to a new school. Kids who are going from elementary to middle, or middle to upper, have an orientation, but it usually takes place at the end of the previous year. So it’s good to go and take a dry run and map out your classes, know where your locker is and that kind of thing. And if a kid puts up a fight and refuses to do that, it could be a red flag that this year will be problematic. But at least you’ve figured this out before school starts.

DON’T Be Afraid of Setbacks

If you have a child who had some real trouble the year before-like a mood or anxiety problem-and may have made real gains over the summer, you might be tempted to anticipate an easy return to school. But it’s good for parents to temper expectations.

Too often, we think our children have learned all these new skills, and so days one, two and three should be stellar days. If not, then something’s wrong. But that’s not how it works. We have to let kids ease into it and allow for ups and downs. If you are a dedicated parent and your child is receiving proper care, they’ll improve-but it’s not always a straight line going up. If you can accept that, then your child will have more confidence and be able to accept setbacks.

DO Help Kids Manage Their Commitments

The tricky part of coming back to school is that the first week or two are usually pretty exciting but slow weeks in terms of work, so it’s easy to get caught up in a false sense of, “Oh, this is easy, and I can take on this, this and that extracurricular.” Then, October comes along and a kid can think, “Holy crap, I have a lot of work in front of me and where am I going to find the time?” So it might be a good idea to wait on new activities until mid-October and leave enough time for adjustment.

The fact is that these days kids tend to get over-involved in clubs, sports and student government, and by the time they get home, they’re exhausted. Maybe by the time they start homework, it’s nine o’clock, only two hours before bedtime at 11:00. I’ve worked with many kids who get overwhelmed by their activities, and then they get further and further behind in their work, which makes them depressed and prone to procrastination. It just becomes too much for them to handle. We want parents to temper their expectations for kids so that kids can practice balance in their own lives; modeling this in your own life can be helpful. For example, you could explain to your child that you were asked to join a fundraising committee, but you said no because you realized that you would be overcommitted. Practicing what you preach, and letting your kids see, can be worth a thousand stern reminders.

DON’T Ignore Problems

To flog this point one more time: Many schools are fantastic, with talented and caring teachers and administrators. But you can’t expect the school to have your insight into your child or to automatically have the same concerns and knowledge about them.

Sometimes the school’s point of view is, “We’re not going to do anything until we see a reason to do something.” That’s why we’d like parents to be more proactive. You need to be your child’s advocate, and if you see them struggling or you’re worried about them struggling, it’s better to say something sooner rather than later.

You may also like:

How To Communicate with Your Child’s Teacher When There Is a Problem

Conflict with your child’s teacher is a nightmare. Do you automatically side with your child, or do you hear the teacher out? What do you do if it becomes apparent that a teacher is being unfair?

We spoke to some Volusia and St. Johns County administrators, and this is what they recommend:

  • Document everything. From the complaint your child has to your interactions with the teacher and what you observe.
  • Take it face to face. Emails can be misinterpreted. Ask for a meeting, and beforehand, ask for meeting minutes and a plan to come out of it. Set your expectations.
  • If this is not satisfactory, speak to an administrator or counselor. They may not agree with you, but getting this alternate opinion may be helpful.

My experience with this happened when my child was in sixth grade. The teacher gave a huge vocabulary workshop every Thursday night, due on Friday. It was really too much for one day. I was not the only parent who asked that they be given more time, and the teacher complained in the classroom that the kids did not belong in that class and the kids should not tell their parents what went on in the classroom. For me, that was a huge red flag.

I met with the teacher, and it was easily one of the worst meetings I had been in. The teacher criticized me as an overbearing parent and accused my daughter of being too polite, and that she shouldn’t be striving for A’s, that C’s were good enough. When I met with the Vice Principal, however, my words were heard, and the Vice Principal agreed that it was her problem, not mine. That teacher retired shortly after.

Unfortunately, unfairness in the classroom does happen now and then. Be prepared to advocate for your child. An open mind when meeting with teachers and staff will help, but do not ignore your instincts.Everyone involved should have your child’s success at heart.

You may also like:

Take the Guesswork out of School Lunches

Back to School comes with a big challenge: How to get a handle on your kid’s luncheons. Depending on their ages, they can help too. I think the easiest way is to make a list of things that your child likes and make a rotatable list. Get the right size containers, make sure they are easy to open for your child, and then they can pick from a list of what they want to take. Tell your child they get one from each category and they will have a well-balanced meal. Here is my list and ideas for yours:

Vegetables: Prep these in small quantities on Sunday, so they are ready to grab and go.

Carrot sticks
Cherry tomatoes
Celery sticks
Broccoli florets
Cucumber slices
Colorful pepper slices


Apple slices
Pear slices
Mandarin oranges
Fruit cups
Apple sauce

Protein source:

Turkey rolls
Ham rolls
Boiled or deviled eggs
Chicken bites
Peanut butter

Sides and Sweets:

Granola bars
Trail mix
Lara Bar or Cliff Bar
Fruit leather
Fruit snacks
Chips + Salsa
Pudding cup
Graham crackers
Rice Krispies Treats



Water bottle

Small containers in bright colors can stimulate appetite and engagement. By offering choices, there will be something your child will eat in every lunch box.

Add things to the lists that you know your child loves. Customize lists for your family. And remember, a note of encouragement for your child will brighten their day!

You may also like:

Back to School Success Tips

Everyone can use a little help when tackling back to school. It comes upon us so fast. Here are 30 of my favorite tips to prepare for the coming year.

  1. Set your kids’ sleep schedules back to “school time” two weeks before the first day of school.
  2. Use an egg timer to get your kids used to focusing for specific periods of time.
  3. Encourage your kids to read at least one (or one more) book before the school year begins.
  4. Discuss what your kids can expect on the first day of school, so they feel more prepared.
  5. Talk openly with your kids about their feelings about returning to school and be ready to answer any questions.
  6. Create a family calendar or choose a calendar app that tracks everyone’s activities and commitments.
  7. Set up weekly meetings to review your kids’ schedules for the week(s) ahead.
  8. Hire a before- or after-school sitter to help care for your kids while you’re at work.
  9. Have a backup transportation plan in case your kids miss the bus.
  10. Get your kids involved in programs they can do after school to keep them active. See our list at https://www.parentmagazinesflorida.com/ for more ideas.
  11. Refresh your rules about screen time for the school year. What’s allowed and when?
  12. Work out an after-school schedule that allows time for snacks, relaxation, play and study.
  13. If they choose to take lunch on some or all days, let your kids be involved in creating and preparing their daily lunch menus.
  14. If they choose to buy lunch, get copies of school menus in advance to discuss lunch choices.
  15. Shop for school supplies and clothes early to avoid the rush.
  16. Inventory your kids’ wardrobes and toss/donate things they’ve outgrown.
  17. Get the lists of school supplies, books and technology your kids will need.
  18. Create a dedicated space at home for your kids to store their school supplies and technology.
  19. Establish rules for where kids should put lunchboxes, etc., when they come home.
  20. Encourage your kids to lay out their school clothes before going to bed.
  21. Have kids pack their school bags.
  22. If they bring their own lunch, have the kids pack their lunch boxes.
  23. Have kids pack their gym or sports bags.
  24. Make sure any bags, equipment or must-bring items are left by the door.
  25. Set an alarm or notification 30 minutes before bedtime.
  26. Set — and enforce — regular weekday and weekend bedtimes.
  27. Remove tech devices, such as phones and tablets, from kids’ bedrooms to focus them on sleeping.
  28. To help with time management, determine together how long it takes kids to do assignments
  29. Teach kids to prioritize their assignments by making to-do lists with deadlines.
  30. Have your kids set realistic goals for the new school year, such as reading 30 books or filling a journal.

You may also like: