Retail & wholesale advertising suggests the new school year kickoff is just days away with limited time remaining to make those last minute purchases of backpacks, binders, pens, pencils and all the various fresh new supplies. I know as child I loved the look and smell of those neatly arranged colorful crayons in my very own Crayola box. A new first day of school outfit always got my children excited for their first day on which they woke early and dressed without nagging, slipped their well stocked heavy backpacks on without complaint and traipsed happily off to the school bus in their spanking new sneakers.

By the end of the first week, enthusiasm began to diminish exponentially in the weeks that followed. The alarm rang too early, the backpacks were too heavy, the lunches “sucked” and the bus ride made them nauseous.

I believe one root to the declining attitude is routine, what kids often refer to as BORING.  7 AM alarm, bus, school, home, snack, homework, dinner, showers, bed. All to begin again the next day. So what can we parents and educators do as partners to keep the enthusiasm alive?While every day cannot be the first with all the fresh new supplies and the excitement of new teachers, we can try to help prevent the boredom associated with routine.


Here are my 5 tips to happy school days.

  1. Set Goals. Ask your children to set 3 goals for themselves (one academic, one social and one athletic) to be achieved in the first quarter of the year (approx. 10 weeks). Mark the date of the end of the first quarter on your calendar, so they can see the end in site. These goals need to be realistic but challenging. While working toward straight A’s may be unrealistic, improving grades from the previous year in just one subject may be quite doable. Just as joining a social club may not fit every personality, finding one new friend may be just right for another. And while everyone is not athletically gifted, everyone can add one form of physical exercise to their daily activities. Think about these goals with your children and how each one might be achieved. Have them write these goals down, seal them in an envelope and tape the envelope to the inside of the their binders as a reminder. At the end of the quarter open that envelope. See how well they did and set new goals for the next quarter.
  2. Refresh supplies & save work.
    Every week or two, clean out those backpacks stuffed with loose papers, gum wrappers and broken pencils. Discard the unnecessary clutter. Replace those once beautiful crayons with a fresh box and those pencil stubs with new ones. Give your child a fresh clean folder to save favorite work and a special place to keep it.
  3. Change up the morning routine. At home try breakfast in bed, or special breakfast 4ibogkpbtday, a surprise sleep in a bit longer day and drive the kids to school. At school plan special days: pajama day, dress as book character day, inside out day, riddle days with solutions revealed at lunchtime.
  4. Change up the after school routine. Think about after school special treats: ice cream, bowling, skating, library visit, movies, etc. Make it a surprise or something to look forward to. Whatever will keep your child excited.
  5. Reward! Discuss what’s being done to help achieve those goals. Reward even the smallest steps forward. Reminder: There is nothing children want more than to please their parents and to be loved unconditionally. Recognize the challenge of achieving their goals and show them your pride in their efforts.

The Value of Challenge


It has become increasing apparent that selective admission to high schools is a sophisticated method of segregation. Students in low income neighborhoods and whose parents are non-native English speakers struggle to gain admission to highly rated schools and are often forced to settle for neighborhood schools, where they are left unmotivated, in environments where safety is more important than education.

Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) classes are most often offered in the best schools to the highest achievers with the most ambitious parents and to those who can afford the test fees and tutorial support if needed. Results have shown these students to continue on a successful academic path, rising above the average, better prepared for the college experience.

However, in a recent study reported by Jay Matthews of the Washington Post, he found that all students regardless of economic background, when given the opportunity to be challenged by AP and IB classes actually have thrived in these challenging learning environments, and they were found to be far more likely to succeed in college.

The IDEA Public Schools in Texas “with over 30,000 mostly low-income students” have found success in requiring all students to take AP classes. Along with other similar programs across the nation, under achieving students of low income families have proven to be successful in raising the bar for achievement and college success. It is true these students must be nurtured into these programs just as we nurture learning from infancy. One cannot walk before crawling or read without language. But these students participating in supportive and gradually challenging environments have been found to thrive in the AP and IB programs.

This great news should be spread across the nation to all parents, educators and governments whose funding is necessary to make these opportunities available to all students regardless of ability to pay. But as often found with good news, there comes a glitch. Matthews reports that last year Congress severely cut funds directed for low-income students.

So I return you to my previous blog (Grooming for the Future) and encourage educators and government leaders to be a part of this successful grooming process. We cannot settle for mediocrity or even less simply because of economic status. Join me in speaking out, reminding our elected officials, school boards, PTA’s, school principals and teachers that studies continue to prove challenged students far exceed their environmental expectations. The gift of education is essential to our children and we must work together to challenge all of our children to succeed, reach for new goals, and not settle for mediocrity or even less.



How to Avoid Holiday Stress:

  1. Advise all guests to park grudges outside the door
  2. List foods to be served on the refrigerator door
  3. Plan a family game
  4. Make seating arrangements in advance & note with place cards
  5. Have take home containers available for leftovers.

Thanksgiving is a time to share with family and be thankful for all we have. This year in particular, with all the unrest throughout the world, we should join hands with family, friends and neighbors to give thanks for this day we have to share together.


Every family has an “Uncle Fred” who doesn’t speak with “Aunt Mable” over something that happened years ago. Probably neither even remembers the cause of the argument. But family gatherings, especially at a time where we give thanks for all we have, is the time to put disputes aside and a time to recognize the fortune of family.

As the guests start pouring in and the kitchen starts filling up with 442107-royalty-free-rf-clip-art-illustration-of-a-cartoon-woman-writing-a-long-list-of-resolutionscasseroles, turkeys, cranberry relish and sweet potato pies, the tumult can easily lead to forgetting to serve a painstakingly prepared food. To avoid any regrets, make a list of all the foods to be served and post it where it can’t be missed. Be sure to check it before sitting down to eat.

Family gatherings can be noisy and joyful. Adults like to catch up and children playing in the basement can sometimes be forgotten. Make time for a family game that includes everyone. Fam18539898-young-kid-playing-american-footballily football and kickball are favorites at my house. Guess Who You Are is always a winner when the weather prohibits outdoor play. Simply tape a name on everyone’s back. Throughout the celebration they must figure out who they are by asking yes and no questions.

Choosing where to sit can make guests uncomfortable. It is best to eliminate this discomfort by planning ahead. Set place cards at the table(s) where guests are to be seated. Of course this is family and nothing is set in stone. In my family seats will undoubtedly change throughout the course of the meal.

One of the great joys of Thanksgiving is the leftovers to be eaten the next day. Be sure to have containers for guests to take home their share.


Set the table in advance

Take out all the serving platters and utensils in advance

Plan to take the turkey from oven at least 90 minutes before serving – leaving an hour to rest before carving.

Accept offers to help with cleanup




Be sure to check out the my great holiday “stay-cassion” read and gift. I guarantee an exciting trip to the warm, sunny South Pacific without ever having to leave home.