Friday, June 24, 2016

Guest Post: How to Maintain Healthy Sleep Habits in Kids by Sean Morris

Please welcome Sean Morris.  

How to Maintain Healthy Sleep Habits in Kids

Image from Pixaby via RachelBostwick

Making sure your kids get enough sleep each night is hard enough during the school year, let alone the summer months when there’s no school schedule to keep. Kids are often convinced that all the good stuff happens after they’re in bed and try every tactic in the book to convince their parents that they’re old enough to stay up later and function on less sleep. Parents, however, know just how important sleep is to not only prevent a case of crankiness but also to help their children function at their best throughout the day.

But how are you supposed to compete with long summer days and no consequences for waking up late? The key is to cultivate a healthy sleep schedule and nightly routine so that your children, regardless of season, will feel tired when they should be going to bed. Here are a few ways to cultivate those beneficial sleep habits in children.

Make the Bedroom About Sleep

Set up the room with a good mattress and comfy bedding that make going to bed seem fun and enjoyable. It might help to let your child help pick out bedding. You may also invest in blackout curtains for the long summer days, making it easier for the child to accept that night has fallen, and it’s time to sleep.

It is also best to limit bedroom activities. If the child associates the room with playing and being active, it will be more difficult for them to use the same space to sleep and wind down.

Monitor Evening Foods and Drinks

Certain foods and drinks are commonly known to increase energy levels and make sleep difficult. Sugars, caffeine, and empty carbs are the typical items to avoid in the evening. However, other foods and drinks can actually cause sleepiness, making them an ideal evening snack to prompt your child’s natural bedtime.

Cherries and cherry juice have a high natural occurrence of melatonin, the chemical your brain produces for sleep. These can make for a great natural sleep aid. Bananas are also great because they are high in magnesium and potassium (also good for sleep) dairy products. A common cause of insomnia is calcium deficiency, making a calcium-rich snack ideal for evenings.

Select Evening Activities Wisely

While many activities can cause hyperactivity and excitement, it can be extremely beneficial to wear your children out before putting them to bed. A family exercise such as hiking, bike rides, or even family yoga can be the perfect way to guarantee your child is ready for bed on time. This also has the added advantage of keeping summer fun despite a responsible sleep schedule.

If the family is unable to go out, you can also consider relaxing, quiet activities before bed such as crafting, coloring, or reading. Avoid movies or screens, as the light can keep kids awake.
Keeping your kids on a good schedule during the lazy, dog days of summer does not have to be a battle. You can use food and exercise (and maybe some colorful sheets!) to help establish a routine and improve your family’s health habits. It’s about training your kids to make good choices for their health because they want to, not forcing them to follow healthy habits that you dictate.

Sean Morris is a former social worker turned stay-at-home dad. He knows what it’s like to juggle family and career. He did it for years until deciding to become a stay-at-home dad after the birth of his son. Though he loved his career in social work, he has found this additional time with his kids to be the most rewarding experience of his life. He began writing for to share his experiences and to help guide anyone struggling to find the best path for their life, career, and/or family.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Guest Post: Seeing the Dog: Reflections on a great teacher by John Suchoki

Today I am thrilled that Dr. Suchocki has agreed to be our guest at Ohio Homeschool Assessments. I wrote about his program Conceptual Academy here. Please welcome him!
I am grateful to Becky for allowing me to jump in as a guest blogger here at Ohio Homeschool Assessments. Thanks Becky! She said she would be open to any topic I thought might be appropriate. Raised in Ohio, what first came to mind was not a what but a who: Mrs. Ford, my high school science teacher of so many years ago at Sycamore High School in a suburb of Cincinnati. My efforts to provide quality curriculum for the home school community began with her. So, Mrs. Ford, this blog post is dedicated to you.

Seeing the Dog
Reflections on a great teacher
As a kid, I always liked science. I mean, who wouldn’t? I grew up in the age of Star Trek and Star Wars. And as I child I remember watching the television broadcast of Neil Armstrong’s first walk on the Moon. Science was a world of wow and gee whiz! And I grew up in a time of new-found confidence in technology. . . slide rules were giving way to digital calculators.
I KNEW I wanted to be a scientist. So imagine my dismay when I kept bombing those 10th grade chemistry exams and quizzes. How could this be? How could I love science so much and yet perform so poorly in class?
To my great fortune, I had Linda Ford as my chemistry teacher. She saw beyond my low scores. She saw something much more valuable: enthusiasm. She also saw enthusiasm disheartened in the face of academic rigor. Did she lighten up on the rigor so that my enthusiasm might be retained? Absolutely not. She held her ground. But she also reached outward, far outward, to hold me on board.
I remember sitting with her at a classroom table after school. I just couldn’t understand this thing she called “stoichiometry”, let alone solve problems it. With patience, she walked me through the ideas step by step, then had me explaining each idea back to her in return. She gave me her greatest gift, which was the personal attention I needed to “See the Dog”.
See the what?

Fast-forward to today. That struggling student of Mrs. Ford is now a college professor and established author of science textbooks. “Seeing the dog” is a metaphor. I show my students this inkblot, high contrast photo. I tell them, “Raise your hand when you see an animal.”  Invariably, a significant portion of the class just can’t “see the dog”.  I explain that certain chemistry concepts, such as stoichiometry, are quite like this. You can stare and stare and it just makes no sense. You have your choice of thinking:  1) I must not be smart enough, or 2) I just don’t see it yet, and to no fault of my own because I know I am capable.” The popular choice is number 1, but the accurate choice is actually number 2.

I explain further: “Chemistry is accessible. You can do it. But it’s an involved path, and a little guidance can go a long way, providing many “ah ha!” moments. What if I told you there was a Dalmatian in this image, nose to the ground, and walking away from you?” Bingo! Everyone soon sees the dog. Why? Because we are all capable of seeing the dog, just as we are all capable of doing stoichiometry. The real question is whether or not you want to, which is another story I’ll save for another post.

I’m in a distant city giving a presentation on teaching methods to a large audience at a national conference of the American Chemical Society. Imagine my delight when I see in the conference program that Linda Ford, herself, is at this very conference to receive the prestigious national Conant Award for outstanding high school chemistry teacher. Would she remember me? After some 30 years? Regardless, I knew I had to try to meet her.
As fate would have it, her award presentation was in the room right next to mine and at the very same time! This meant I would not be able to attend her talk.  But it also meant that she and I would be teaching side-by-side, literally, with no one but myself knowing of the significance. I planned to rush over to her presentation upon finishing mine. I did my best, but with numerous follow-up questions from the audience, by the time I got to her presentation room, she was gone.
Saddened, I sat alone and reflected in that room where my former teacher had just received her well-earned laurels. She had protected and even nurtured my youthful enthusiasm for science. But she did something even more profound: she inspired me to have self-respect and confidence. She made me realize I’d face even more struggles, but that my underlying passions would see me through. Excellence in teaching comes from understanding that “content” (chemistry, literature, history, or whatever) can also serve as a means for the higher goal of helping students to learn about themselves.
Thank you Mrs. Ford. I am honored to have been one of your many students and more so to have taught with you side-by-side, albeit incognito. Thank you for helping me to see the dog and for preparing me to do my share in helping others to see that dog too, in all its spotted glory.
In writing this blog, I realized I was long overdue in trying to reach out to Mrs. Ford. In but a few keystrokes, I found her contact info and sent her an email. The very next day she wrote back. She was most pleased to hear from me. A while ago she had found a copy of my textbook at a used bookstore and recognized my name immediately. How cool is that?! Better still, I learned we’re both giving presentations at yet another conference this summer. This time we will be sure to meet.

*  *  *
John Suchocki is author of Conceptual Chemistry as well as a coauthor of other popular science textbooks at both the college and high school level. John obtained his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Virginia Commonwealth University, which was followed by a two year post-doctorate in pharmacology at the Medical College of Virginia. He taught chemistry at the University of Hawaii where he received tenure and was highly active in the development of distance learning programs and student-centered learning curricula. In addition to authoring textbooks, John is currently an adjunct professor at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont. Through his company, Conceptual Productions, John is the founder and executive producer of Conceptual Academy. To learn more about Conceptual Academy as a valuable resource for the home school, please visit the Conceptual Academy support site: LearnScience.Academy. where you will also find John’s blog on science education.

Linda Ford is a recipient of the prestigious Conant Award for excellence in teaching high school chemistry. About to begin her 45th year in the classroom, Linda teaches at the Seven Hills School in Cincinnati, OH. You can follow this link to learn more about her teaching philosophies and methods.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

I Love You Just Because by Donna Keith Illustrated by Alison Edgson

The third book in this adorable series, I Love You Just Because is the perfect way to show kids that their parents love them just because.

With sales of nearly 75,000 copies for the first two I Love You . . . books, this third addition uses sweet, playful art to depict family dynamics that are grounded in unconditional love.
Through adorable, cuddly art and fun rhyming text, I Love You Just Because will help little ones understand their parents' love for them and that it doesn't have to be earned. With playful artwork and the same friendly bear family you already know and love from Donna Keith's first two books—I Love You All the Same and I Love You Even When—the sweet story of this book will touch you and your family and will remind you that family members love each other...just because.
Parents will gravitate toward the felt need and fun messaging of this book as it seeks to help them explain to their little ones that they are truly loved just because.
My Review:
I Love You Just Because is a board book about a sweet bear family that consists of all kinds of different bears.  The parents in this story tell in sweet rhyme why they love their children so much.  Each page affirms a parent's love for a child and has a corresponding Bible verse.  

The sweet cover is what drew me in to take a chance and review this book. What I did not know was that this book was my story.  Our first three children are through international adoption and this sweet story is what I tried to communicate to them each day when they were toddlers.  Oh, I wish this book had been around with my teens were little.

Reading this to my current four year old I found myself stopping and sharing how special he was to us and how glad I am that he is our son.   We found ourselves gazing at the beautiful and engaging pictures enjoying their wonderful details.   I can highly recommend this book to parents as it is sweet and engaging.  You will read it over and over again joyfully.  

My three bears grown up.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Contains affiliate link.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Conceptual Academy

When attending the homeschool convention this year, one of my favorite new finds was Dr. John Suchocki  and Conceptual Academy.  Dr. John Suchocki  is a Chemistry teacher at St. Micheal's University in Vermont.   He has developed a web site to go along with his college text Conceptual Chemistry.    The web site includes course instructional  videos for free. For a small fee the classes include quizzes, chapter summaries, and exams. 

The site also features courses with texts from  Physics,  Physical Science, and Integrated Science.  Here is a list of all the courses.

My husband is a scientist and he was very impressed with Dr. Suckocki.  We attended his workshop and all of my kids still talk about the lesson he taught during the workshop. He is very engaging and I feel like you really can not go wrong if you are seeking a self study course.  The biggest price hit is the text book.  But, you are getting a recognized text book.  

LearnScience.Academy has more information for home educators on the courses and gives more details on the resources at Conceptual Academy.  It launched last week and does a better job of walking you through the process of enrolling in the courses 

Cathy Duffy also has posted a review on her web site about the courses.  I feel this is an excellent option for home educated students.  

This post contains affiliate links.