Combat Summer Brain Drain with DreamBox (Also a great initiative for Homeschoolers)

Okay moms, I know it is difficult to believe but the school year is almost over. I know I for one am so excited to get my little soon-to-be first grader home for the summer.  I can’t wait to enjoy the long lazy days of summer with all 3 of my kiddos. But I am also very concerned. Our 6-year-old has learned so much this year, making leaps and bounds in both reading and computation skills. I am afraid that a nearly 3 month vacation from academic rhythm of instruction might have her sliding backwards come the start of school in the fall.  Reading the following article confirmed and compiled my concerns.

 

RESEARCH ON SUMMER LEARNING LOSS

A research synthesis conducted by Cooper et al. (1996) integrated 39 studies examining the effects of summer vacation on standardized achievement test scores. The 39 studies included 13 that could be included in a meta-analysis (a statistical integration) of the results. The meta-analysis indicated that summer learning loss equaled at least one month of instruction as measured by grade level equivalents on standardized test scores-on average, children’s tests scores were at least one month lower when they returned to school in fall than scores were when students left in spring.

The meta-analysis also found differences in the effect of summer vacation on different skill areas. Summer loss was more pronounced for math facts and spelling than for other tested skill areas. The explanation of this result was based on the observation that both math computation and spelling skills involve the acquisition of factual and procedural knowledge, whereas other skill areas, especially math concepts, problem solving, and reading comprehension, are conceptually based. Findings in cognitive psychology suggest that without practice, facts and procedural skills are most susceptible to forgetting (e.g., Cooper & Sweller, 1987). Summer loss was more pronounced for math overall than for reading overall. The authors speculated that children’s home environments might provide more opportunities to practice reading skills than to practice mathematics. Parents may be more attuned to the importance of reading, so they pay attention to keeping their children reading over summer.

(source:http://www.ericdigests.org/2003-5/summer.htm)

My plan for combating Summer Brain Drain is to first enroll all 3 of our kiddos in the Summer Reading Program at our local library. As the article addressed, our home environment fosters reading.  The children enjoy listening to books on tape and CD, having mommy or daddy read to them, and then lastly, having our little reader read to the entire family.  We then keep track of the books we read and go to the library to report what was read for that week and receive a prize. It is a wonderful way to encourage children to read.

So, that leaves Math!! What to do over the summer to encourage and continue our daughters interest in Math? The solution, DreamBox, it helps children become proficient, mathematical thinker with the right learning environment. DreamBox unique intelligent adaptive learning technology goes beyond engagement, with a rigorous math curriculum that builds conceptual understanding and fluency. What I really like is that DreamBox offers interactive math games for first graders. The clip below does a wonderful job of expressing how DreamBox makes math fun, in fact it is so much fun they have no idea that they are actually learning (shh…we’ll just keep that between us parents).

Phew, I can sleep better now knowing that I am prepared to combat the Summer Brain Drain.  How about you, are you prepared to combat the Summer Brain Drain?  

This weekend was LEGEN…wait for it…DARY!

This weekend was such a fun filled extravaganza. It all started Friday afternoon.  We started packing up the car around 3pm for our road trip to Dayton. We would be heading to Dayton to see my baby sister graduate the next day as a Dr. of Physical Therapy. Around 5pm the game of maneuvering the pack-n-play, stroller, diaper bag, 2 suitcases, swim bag, snack bag, and a few odds & ends to keep the kiddos occupied into my hubby’s car was complete. I made careful note of where everything ended up because I would be taking this trip solo since my hubby was ill and I would be the one placing everything back into the car at the culmination of our visit (Tip: take a picture of everything once it is packed into you vehicle you will thank yourself later, it is tricky remembering how you got everything into such a confined space). So by the time everyone had pee twice, we located my son’s preschool Olympic medal (yes, he is still wearing it, 3 weeks and counting), changed diapers, hit the ATM, went through Starbucks drive-thru, and gas station we were finally on the road around 7:30pm. Anyone else spend their first hour of their vacation/trip in their home town /city grabbing last needed items?

 

We arrived in Dayton at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites around 10:30pm. As we entered the room the kiddos jumped for joy when they saw what my mom, Nana, had in store for each of them. She had place graduation balloons in the room along with a sand bucket with Legos, coloring books, pool toy, etc. for each kiddo and for my hubby and I she had snacks and beverages, she is amazing.  She always manages to make the ordinary extraordinary, that’s my mom!  So the kiddos looked though their goodies wide-eyed and eventually the excitement from the day got the best of them and they fell asleep. I am pretty sure my son was dreaming about the pancake machine that would greet him in the morning with the continental breakfast.

Since my hubby had to stay home my brother kindly stayed with me and the 3 kiddos to help out in the morning with breakfast and the festivities the next day.  Keep in mind my brother is a now 26, his birthday was yesterday, bachelor who, while excellent with the kiddos doesn’t contain that daddy gene just yet. You know the one that tell Dads that grabbing a paper in the morning and trying to read it at the breakfast table with 3 kiddos 6 and under is not a good idea? Yep, that one!  So, while he sipped his coffee and read the paper I played mommy juggler with the diaper bag, bowl of cereal, banana, camera, and toddler. On the up side I think I put on quite a show for the other guest dinning that morning. Then, after picking up cereal from the floor the hundredth time I was lucky enough to visited the restroom, not once but twice! God forbid they both go at the same time, seriously! On the way back to the room I managed to take a sip of my then cold coffee and eat the bruised parts of 3 bananas, and while doing so my son asked why I was still hungry after all that food?  Funny, didn’t anyone realize mommy never sat down, mommy never ate breakfast? “Haha…I was a little busy during breakfast” I exclaimed to him. After breakfast we headed to the pool for a swim before going to the graduation ceremony.

My son’s Spiderman bag filled in as the diaper bag for this trip. The diaper bag was at home being washed, some weird unreconizable goo was lurking in the bottom of the bag. I know what you’re thinking, classy!! Right?

After our relaxing swim, what is it about a pool that lowers your blood pressure? We then got ready for the graduation, packed a diaper bag (my toddler was the only kiddo who didn’t have a BM and after swimming I thought for sure she would have a blowout during the graduation.  There are few things worse than sitting in a humid arena with a toddler who just had a massive poop). If that happened I needed a plan. Once we were seated in the Arena I noted all possible exits and restrooms, and which route would be the fastest and which would be the most discreet.  Yes, moms are also specialist in reconnaissance, we have to be! I was prepared. Then the excitement built as the music began and the students made their way down the aisles with their caps and gowns. I got goose bumps. I was so excited for every one of them. All the hard work, all-nighters, research, disappointments, progress, and emotions that comes with the journey that they had each experienced all to arrive at this point. Then I saw my baby sister and my eyes began to fill with happy tears.  She has been working so hard for this degree. She has put the rest of her life on hold and focused solely on her studies.  Since she started her graduate work she has attended numerous wedding showers and baby shower, a handful of weddings including 2 family weddings, has become an aunt again, a Godmother, and welcomed a new cousin into the family, all the while hauling books in and out of coffee establishments, looking for free Wi-Fi signs, sneaking in flash cards to movies and church not wasting any free moment to study. And guess what, it paid off!! I am proud to introduce to you my sister, Dr. Kunkle.

Then it was time to party like my parents had been paying college tuition since 1999!! (Because they had) They decorated the guest apartment where my sister lives and had bubbles at each person’s setting, they had balloons, champagne, and had dinner catered from a local Italian restaurant. Everything was perfect!

The party continued on till 2pm the next day during which we also celebrated my brothers 26th birthday.

It was such a memorable, LEGENDARY weekend. So many emotions filled the weekend, including, excitement, anticipation, sadness, joy, gratitude, and love, there was so much love.

Have you ever experienced a legendary weekend? Please share.

There is always a Bright Side

Ever had one of those days? One of those woe is me days? One of those days where nothing is going right, maybe you woke up late which now means that the entire house is running late. The dog puked in the corner, cat missed the litter box, and you forgot to switch around the laundry the night before so those clean clothes you planned on putting the kiddos in are wet.  You forgot to have kiddos make lunch the night before and now you are searching the cushion of your couch for any sign of change so they can buy lunch and you can experience mommy guilt for the crap they will be consuming later in the day. You finally get everyone fed, dressed, out the door, in the car, buckled, and find that you are on E!

I know I have experienced days like that and when I do have days like that I tell myself I have two options. One; complain, complain, complain and make everyone else’s life miserable too by spreading my negativity. Or, I can look on the bright side, there is always a bright side, I don’t care what anyone tells you, there is always someone else who is worse off. So, the bright side is that I have a family that depends on me to get the party started, so to speak, in the a.m. I have k-9 and feline friends. I have a washer and dryer to wash my children’s clothes. I am fortunate enough to live in a country where schools do provide a lunch for children (in this rationale beggars can’t be choosy but I do think that the food served at schools needs to be reevaluated) should their parents not be able to provide food. Lastly, I am fortunate to be able to have a vehicle to drive my children to school, activities, and errands.

Another trick that I find that really helps me when I am having a woe is me day, STOP THINKING ABOUT ME. Stop the pity party before it starts, there is a bigger picture out there, it isn’t all about me. “My Own Little World” by Mathew West expresses this quite eloquently.

 

So, have you had one of those days? How do you cope?

Playdate sponsored by Rudi’s Organic Bakery (Post also includes FREE Custom Sandwich Box info)

God knows moms have enough to worry about when it comes to the health and wellbeing of their children.  That’s why I am thankful for Rudi’s Organic bakery. 

The best things in life are free. Free from (anything bad like) synthetic ingredients, chemical pesticides and fertilizers. When we say organic, we mean it. Our products are USDA Certified Organic, which tells you that at least 95% of our ingredients are organic. This is good for you, your family and the environment. (Source:http://www.rudisbakery.com/)

So, you can see why moms don’t have to wonder what’s inside Rudi’s bread. I believe we have an unwritten code as moms, if we have come across an amazing product, technique, or the like we need to share that with other moms.  And share we did…..

When you come across a product like Rudi’s, that gives moms peace of mind, a celebration is in order. So we got out our Pom-poms and then headed to Health Foods by Claudia to purchase our Rudi’s organic bread (they offer Rudi’s entire line of bakery products and a slew of other amazing organic products, I highly recommend Health Foods by Claudia. And, good news, if you aren’t local they are launching their e-store soon, check it out) and invited over all our playgroup friends.

We packed the house, literally! We welcomed 14 magnificent moms and 16 amazing little kiddos.  We decided to keep it simple and a bit traditional. While Rudi’s offers hot dog buns, hamburger buns, rolls, tortillas, wraps, bagels, English muffins, and sandwich flatz we decided the best way to introduce Rudi’s was the most practical way, the way in which moms often utilize bread, the good old-fashioned peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The PB & J is a staple in most of our moms’ lives. Whether it is packing a lunch for school, meeting up at the zoo, going to the park for a picnic, the easy to prepare, climate controlled, and fan of most kiddos is the PB & Jelly. But we added a twist. The kiddos had the option of making their own sandwich. They could select the Rudi’s bread they wanted, spread the PB and J, and then select a fun cookie cutter shape.

To accompany the PB & J moms brought grapes, cheese sticks, yogurt, carrots, apple sauce, juice boxes, milk, etc. to share.  The moms in our playgroup are so amazing; they are so kind, compassionate, and considerate of others and this was definitely apparent at our play date.  Most moms might think I was nuts to have 14 moms and 16 kiddos in my home especially since it is on the market and there is a chance that a prospective buyer might want to see our home the next day. But not me, the moms in our playgroup are such good moms; it is evident and reflected in their children’s behavior. They are also great friends; they did so much between bringing food to share, helping set out food, and clean-up that I actually got to enjoy the play date too.  Thank you Playgroup-in-Toledo moms for being such wonderful moms and great friends; I am truly blessed to have each and every one of you in my life.

After lunch we finished up our play date with a trip down to the park. What better way to conclude a well-balanced meal than with some activity. The kiddos had fun playing on the playground, swinging, and chasing after bubbles until their little bodies couldn’t go any more. Then it was time to head home where I hope all the moms got to have a little bit of a break while their children napped.

As if the bread, cookie cutters, playdate, park, etc. weren’t enough!  The kiddos also received a Let’s Doodle Lunch sheet that allows them to create their own masterpiece and then submit that to Rudi’s and they will place that custom designed masterpiece on a sandwich box for the kiddos. AND, and each child has a chance for their custom design to be the Official Rudi’s Sandwich box!  Sound like fun? Wish your kiddos could participate? They can!! Click here to get your kiddos art work on a sandwich box for FREE! ( Also, May1-31st, Rudi’s is running Get a dollar, Give a dollar, you can get $1 off coupon and Rudi’s will give a dollar to the celiac organization of your choice)

All of us moms agreed that Rudi’s was delicious and the kiddos seemed to enjoy the bread too! However there is the issue of the price and yes, if we are being totally honest it does cost more than non-organic breads.  However those non-organic breads contain preservatives and additives that do not contribute to a healthy well-balanced meal.  As moms we know that our children are what they eat. I know I have witness the effect that highly processed food have on my kiddos. They are often lethargic and left craving more highly processed food and that is a road I do not want them going down.  I would rather spend a few more dollars today for healthy, organic food for my children then spend thousands years down the road trying to fix organs that processed foods have damaged. My children are worth it! Are yours?

Please share your thoughts. Have you ever tried Rudi’s organic bakery? Would you? What is your take on organic foods?