Settling Into a New School Year

Settling Into a New School YearThe school supplies have been purchased, orientations attended, and bed times have been established – the new school year is well underway! Most parents have started settling into the routine for the fall, but how are your children adjusting? Don’t assume that no news is good news. Specific probing statements and questions such as, “Tell me about your teacher” or “What subject do you think you might struggle the most with this year?” can help your child to open up. Red Apple Reading has some tips for helping your child navigate issues with friends, teachers, and homework.

Friends – One of the perks of going back to school is hanging out with friends. While these interactions may normally be positive, sometimes they can become stressful. If your kiddo seems to be having friend drama, try the following:

  • Don’t Panic – Very often kids tend to work these things out themselves. Unless your child seems to be more upset than normal, resist the urge to jump in too quickly.
  • Try Something New – If your child seems to be having trouble making friends or her current friends are (ahem) less than desirable, encourage her to join some extracurricular activities. New activities will provide new acquaintances your child might not otherwise run into.
  • Host – Have your child’s friends over to your house periodically. This way you can observe firsthand any personality conflicts and perhaps offer a bit of guidance when issues arise.

Teachers – Every parent of school-age children knows the stress of waiting to discover who their child’s teacher will be for the new school year. Teachers spend several hours each day with our children and have a profound impact on their school experience. How should parents address issues with teachers?

  • Get to Know the Teacher – Don’t depend on hearsay from other parents or your child’s interpretation of events when forming an opinion of their teacher. Make an effort to get to know the teacher yourself. Ask if there is any way you can help her over the course of the school year. She’ll appreciate the help and you will be able to see how she interacts with the children and get to know the atmosphere of the classroom.
  • Frame Concerns Diplomatically – Be diplomatic when addressing concerns with your little one’s teacher. Remember that you and your child will be interacting with this person for the remainder of the school year – you don’t want to get off on the wrong foot. For instance, if your child seems to be intimidated by the way his teacher speaks to him, you could say, “Billy may seem closed off at times; we’ve found that he responds best to clear instructions delivered with a smile!”
  • Use Administration as a Last Resort – Most problems involving teachers can be easily resolved. However, if you have tried your best to deal with the situation in a courteous, understanding way without resolution, it may be time to speak to a principal. You are your child’s advocate and certainly have the right to address issues that concern your child’s well-being.

Homework – The older our children get, the more potential there is for problems with homework. Try employing some of the following strategies when you run into homework trouble!

  • Use the Internet – Is there anything that strikes more fear into the heart of a parent than when he’s asked to assist his 3rd grader with math homework? (Did you know they don’t carry the one anymore when doing multiplication?!) Don’t despair! A quick perusal of the internet can give you the much needed tutorial you need to be able to assist your kiddo with his homework.
  • Talk with the Teacher – If your kiddo is struggling with a particular subject, contact his teacher sooner rather than later. It is much better to get on top of the problem right away than to wait until your child has fallen far behind. Most teachers are happy to provide parents with resources and ideas to help them get their kid back on track! You may also want to check the teacher’s web page. Many instructors provide helpful resources that are only a click away!

Don’t let beginning of the year problems get you and your little one down. Most issues can be resolved with the support of a loving, involved parent. Here’s wishing your child a fantastic school year!

Earth Day Educational Ideas

Earth Day Educational IdeasThe beautiful thing about Earth Day is that you can celebrate it all year long! Whether you teach in a traditional classroom or homeschool your kids, you’ll love these different activities that allow you to instruct while using an Earth Day theme. If your little ones attend a public or private school, choose something to do when they arrive home in the afternoon. However or whenever you choose to include these activities, you and your kiddos will have a blast and learn a lot in the process!

Reading – We can’t think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day than with a good book. Fortunately there are several great titles to choose from! Start by checking out these picks from our 2014 Earth Day Post.

Math – This fun sensory math bin from Fun-A-Day will allow your child to practice number identification, counting, and addition. The blue and green rice (just use food coloring!) is reminiscent of earth’s oceans and land masses. The only other items you need are green and blue plastic Easter eggs, marbles, and condiment cups.

Science – Kids will love this earth science project from Children build their very own worm hotel! This cool experiment allows little ones to learn how important worms are for maintaining healthy soil. Your kiddo will love seeing how the earth worms burrow down into the dirt and mix up the layers of sand and soil.

Geography – Students research different bodies of water around the world in this investigative activity. Children will study where their body of water is located, how it has influenced the people groups alongside of it, and answer several other probing questions. Get this Water Question Worksheet for free from Discovery!

Art – It’s always good to remind our kids of ways they can reuse old materials. This art project allows students to make lovely silhouettes of animals from strips of recycled magazine pages. Visit MPM Ideas to get instructions for this fun art project today!

Recess – Why not take a nature hike when it’s time for a break? Even if you’re not able to visit a local nature trail, a stroll around your own backyard can yield fun finds. Encourage kids to keep their eyes open for bugs, flowers, leaves, and animals. Consider taking a magnifying glass and binoculars so children can have a closer look!

Earth Day lends itself perfectly to the learning portions of a school day. Don’t let it pass by without trying at least one or two of these fun educational activities.

Happy Earth Day from Red Apple Reading!


4 Easy Steps to Finishing the School Year on Top

Tips for Finishing the School Year on Top - Red Apple ReadingMost of us are back to our normal routine after having a break for the holidays. If your kiddos are like mine, they weren’t overly excited about getting back to the grind. It can be tough to inspire children to finish the second half of the school year well. What can parents do to motivate their kids to do their best in school? Red Apple Reading has 4 easy steps you and your child can take to finish the last half of the school year like a champ!


1) Think Short Term – It’s easy for kids to get overwhelmed when they only focus on the end result. For instance, your child may think it’s impossible to finish the semester with a B in math. Consider helping your kid reframe how he looks at school. Instead of one big long term goal, encourage your kiddo to take the second semester of school one week at a time. As adults we know how crushing it can feel to look at all that must be accomplished by the end of the day. But when we break the day down into small tasks, we feel empowered as we check one thing off at a time. Taking small bites instead of big ones is a skill that will serve your kiddos well for the rest of their lives.

2) Set Goals – After helping your child reframe the way she approaches the second half of the school year, it’s time to make a list of weekly goals. Sit down together and discuss what she would like to accomplish for the week. If she is struggling with spelling, a reasonable goal would be to study her spelling words for twenty minutes each night. Is your kiddo having trouble completing her homework in a timely manner? Then set a goal to begin homework thirty minutes after returning from school. A plan is empowering. If your child feels she has some control over her circumstances, she is more likely to rise to the occasion.

3) Conduct Weekly Reviews – Goals are great; but if we don’t periodically check our progress, we often veer off course. At the end of the school week, sit down with your little one and discuss how the week went. Did he meet his goals? If not, what hindered him? If the goals were met, did accomplishing them help improve his school experience? Questions like these will help you and your child evaluate if real progress is being made. Don’t be discouraged if things didn’t go as well as the two of you hoped. Use a weekly review is to tweak and fine tune short term goals. If you and your kiddo consistently meet and hash out the details, eventually you will see progress!

4) Offer Incentives – If your child has made real effort to accomplish her weekly goals, then a treat is in order! Decide beforehand what incentive you want to offer your little one. When you make weekly goals, tell her what she can expect if she cooperates. Don’t worry! You don’t have to break the bank to inspire your child to work hard at school. Simple incentives will do the trick! For example, if you typically eat out on Friday nights, let your child choose the restaurant the family eats at. Do you see what just happened? You took something you were planning to do already and turned it into a treat!

Education is a gift! Red Apple Reading wants to help your family make the most of the educational process. Our Pinterest boards offer tons of tips, tools, and ideas to help your little one’s scholastic development. You can also visit our website and try our online reading software for free. We think once you try it you’ll be hooked!

5 Reasons School Libraries Rock!

Support Your School Library - Red Apple Reading

Many of us have fond memories of visiting our own school library as youngsters. Unfortunately, most of us are guilty of taking the libraries in our schools for granted. Have you ever considered what your local school system would be like without its library? In honor of School Library Month, Red Apple Reading would like to remind our readers why school libraries are such precious gems!


  1. School Libraries Provide Opportunity – Many of us would take our children to our local public library if the school system did not provide one to its students. However, this is not the case for many children. For some kids, visiting the school library is the only opportunity they have to read books.
  2. School Libraries Afford Convenience – Let’s face it, even those of us who love books don’t make it to our public library as often as we would like. Children in most school systems have the convenience of having a library within walking distance of their classroom. You can’t beat that for easy access!
  3. School Libraries Speak to Importance – Having a whole section of school dedicated to a collection of good reading material speaks volumes to students about the importance of reading. When a school system invests in good libraries, children understand (even if only sub-consciously) that books are valuable.
  4. School Libraries Offer Inspiration – School libraries help produce creativity in children. The fun atmosphere and abundance of books from which to choose inspires kids. Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, says, “School libraries introduce kids to whole new worlds and new perspectives and are so important in broadening kids’ minds.” School libraries provide a stimulating alternative to much of what passes for “entertainment” these days.
  5. School Libraries Employ Librarians – You can’t possibly overstate the importance of a good school librarian! After all, what is a library without its librarian? School librarians cultivate relationships with their students and point them to books that will interest them. They teach children to respect and properly take care of reading material. Plus, we all remember how fun it was to go to the library and listen as the librarian read a story to us! We owe a debt of gratitude to these “keepers of books”!

If your kiddo attends a school with a library, you have good reason to be grateful! Why not pop into your child’s school sometime and thank the librarian for her hard work? While you’re there, ask how you can help support the library program. Let’s do all we can to invest in this important institution! Visit the A.A.S.L. website for more information about school library month.


Six Simple Ways to Be More Involved in Your Child’s Education

Six Simple Ways to Be More Involved in Your Child’s Education

Do you feel as if you don’t have a clue what your kid does all day at school? Sometimes it can seem like pulling teeth to get your child to open up and tell you about her day. Or perhaps you know what they are learning but would like to feel more involved in the process. Mothers and fathers can and should take part in their children’s education. Red Apple Reading has 6 simple suggestions that will help parents become more involved in the education of their kids.

  1. Volunteer – One of the best ways to find out what goes on in your kiddo’s classroom is to pay frequent visits. I have learned a lot about my children’s daily routine and classroom atmosphere by volunteering for a couple of hours once a week. You will feel more involved and your child’s teacher will appreciate the extra help. Everybody wins!
  2. Check Teacher Websites – Most teachers these days have their own websites. Parents can easily check daily homework assignments, see what the class will be focusing on for the week, and learn about upcoming events. Ask your school what information is available to you online.
  3. Ask Leading Questions – Probably the most typical one word answer to, “What did you learn in school today?” is, “Nothing.” Don’t be discouraged by your student’s economy of words! Instead, try asking more pointed questions such as, “What are you studying in science right now?”, “What is one new thing you learned today?”, or “What book did you check out of the library?”. These questions will prompt your kiddo to give more than just a token response and will hopefully lead to some great conversations!
  4. Learn What They are Learning – I have to admit – my 3rd grader’s math problems befuddle me! It’s not so much that I can’t solve them; I just don’t solve them the way he does. After attending math night at my son’s school, I got a better idea of why they are using the methodology they are using and learned (a little) along the way. Don’t be afraid to open your child’s textbook and learn along with him. Chances are he will love teaching you a thing or two!
  5. Join a Parent Committee – If you are like me, you aren’t looking for one more activity to fit into your already busy schedule. However, organizations such as P.T.O. usually involve a modest amount of time and allow parents to become better acquainted with their kid’s school system and its staff. So stop avoiding those meetings and learn what’s going on in your child’s school/classroom.
  6. Look in the Backpack – Yes – that dreaded black hole where teacher’s notes and homework assignments go to never again see the light of day – the backpack! A daily perusal of your kid’s backpack can yield a wealth of information. Most teachers send home weekly updates, lists of assignments, and other pertinent information on a regular basis. Whether or not you receive these, is a whole other story. Don’t assume your student is giving you all the information you need. Look through her backpack regularly – there’s no telling what you may unearth (how long has that granola bar been in there anyway?!).

We would love to hear how you stay connected with your child’s education. Leave us a comment below and share your secrets with us!