Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reading IS NOT an Optional Life Skill

I love to read.  My parents were some of the lucky ones, two of their three children loved to read.  Although my love for reading lapsed in the middle school years, my mom and sister quickly turned me on to novels that captured my attention once again and I have never looked back since. So, I guess you could say I am one of the lucky ones too.  I have a interest in societies reading deficiencies not only because I am an educator but because I am a parent.  I see children struggle every day because reading is difficult for them.  Trouble with reading not only effects Language Arts development but also Math, Science and Social Studies as well.  All areas of learning are effected when a child struggles to read fluently and comprehend the material they have read.  So, hats off to Parents Magazine for presenting a well written and common sense approach to "Raising a Kid Who Loves to Read."

Parents Magazine brought together several famous children's book authors and asked them for advice on instilling a love for reading in children.  Here are some of the tips they gave, of course with my little summary in Sarahisms. lol

  • 1. Plant the Seed - a.k.a. READ TO YOUR BABY!!  So as you may be aware, your infant could care less what you are saying to them, they just like to hear the sound of your voice.  Read to them every day to familiarize them with the connection between this thing you hold (a book) and your voice pattern.  They will begin to recognize words this way from very early on. 
  • 2. Create Reading Rituals - Read to your child daily around the same time.  Good reading times are during wind down phases like naps or bed time. 
  • 3. Bring Pictures to Life - Use this time to let your child's imagination run free!! Ask them what they see in the picture or even better have them predict the story from looking at the pictures alone.  Make a game of it to see how accurate they were when you have finished reading!! 
  • 4. Look Past the Page - Let your child write their own book no matter how young they may be.  If a child can only draw pictures, have them tell you the story and you can write it for them or allow them to tell the story out loud to another relative or a friend.  Kids love to have center stage!!

I know we are all busy, but these are small things that we can easily implement in to our daily schedules.  I can look around my classroom and usually identify my students that have been read to as a child.  Not only do they share a passion for books, they are able to better understand what they are reading.  In addition, reading allows a child's imagination to run free.  Good readers usually equal good writers.  Writing is becoming a very important skill with standardized testing.... open responses are expected to be well written pieces that are produced in a short time frame, usually 15 to 30 minutes.  So, set your child up for success and READ, READ, READ!! :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Saturdays are for.....

I have been thinking a lot about certain things since I was taken off work.  I guess when you have all of this extra time you really evaluate your life and how you manage it.  For example, I am a teacher.  This means that I wake up everyday around 5, get my kids to school at 7 and arrive at my own school before 8.  I teach all day, pack up my stuff to work on at home, pick up the twins from school and am home around 5.  This is a long day at work but then we have dinner, homework, baths and play time. So, by the time all of this winds down it is at least 8.  Kids in bed and I start my chores.  Laundry, dishes, grading papers, talking to my favorite people on the phone, etc...  I am excited to make it to bed by 10. This wears on you as the week goes on and you start putting household chores off.  Before you know it everything has been piled on to one day.... SATURDAY (or after church on Sunday)!!!  So, the time that was meant for relaxing and rest is now taken over by chores!! So, what can we do to fix this?? Organize.

I challenge everyone to continue to leave the weekend free for family and friends.  This is what I have tried to continue to do for quite some time.  Make a list of everything that needs to be accomplished throughout the week.  Schedule yourself a few things to accomplish each evening and do them before you go to bed.  That way, given no major complications or illness in the house, your place will be clean and cared for, laundry complete and your weekend will be full of more play than work!! Lets face it, our kids want to spend time with us.... that does not include watching us do chores or drag them all over town with the shopping.  Plan something that is just for them.  Best part, it doesn't even have to cost you anything.  Enjoy a local park, take a nature walk, or do crafts at home.  I think if we all accept this challenge our weekends will not only be more enjoyable, but a lot less stressful.  I am holding myself to this and I hope you will too.  I think we all work hard enough, take a little time to enjoy the ones you love the most or help another.

This weekend the Nida clan has a special project in store.  We are repairing a bicycle for a neighborhood kid that doesn't have one.  Luke and Kennedy are really good about sharing their bikes with him but I think it is time he has one of his own.  I found a free bike in good shape.  All it needs is new tubes and a bath.  :) This is a good learning experience for my kids and I know it will mean the world to Sam. All of this is much more rewarding than tedious household stuff and I get to teach my children the valuable lesson of doing for others.  No good deed goes unnoticed!! Have a great weekend and love the life you live!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Another Surgery Under My Belt!! - and a long overdue update!

So, I guess I have been on a blog vacation.  Although I absolutely love sharing my thoughts and experiences through my blog, I have been VERY busy since August.  For starters, the school year started and I was allowed to start the school year! I was bombarded the first part of August with 25 eager 4th graders that needed a lot of my time and attention inside and out of the classroom to start the year off right.  Second, my children are active 1st graders that seem to have one activity after another filling up our schedule.  Third, my sister and I planned a wonderful celebration in honor of our parents 40th wedding anniversary.  So, as you can see... my blog had to take a back seat for awhile.

My appointment in Memphis was amazing.  I was armed with a lot of new ideas and information.  The doctors there believe that yes I do have M.S. but that it may not be the only cause of my vision loss.  They began the process of attempting to identify if I have a rare disease or infection that I may have carried since childhood.  Since I have not traveled to a third world country, that eliminates a lot of ideas.  However, you would be amazed at how many things you could contract from domestic animals. I am pleased to confirm however that all of our family pets have been eliminated as suspects! lol  To further explain this, being a cat owner comes with several risks.  Cats can carry several diseases that may affect vision.  Although they are all treatable, they can be difficult to diagnose without very specific testing and blood work.  So, now that the animal route has been cleared we are still testing and sorting through ideas.

I was put on a new drug, it is called Methotrexate.  It is a oral drug that is widely used for the treatment of cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.  Since I have not been responding well to the use of steroids and they have been deemed ineffective at treating the inflammation on my left eye, they hope this medication will step in and work.  I also get another new doctor, a Rheumatologist, while taking this med and he is very informative and great. His job is to monitor my blood work to make sure that my liver and kidneys continue to function properly as I take this medication.

I had surgery this past Monday to remove a cataract in my right eye (the good eye) and I am pleased to report it was a great success!!  Although I have to be off work for a little while to heal from the surgery I can see 20/20 in distance vision from my right eye.  I have not been able to see distance for many years without the use of glasses or contacts.  The only drawback of the new lens that has been placed is that I lost my near vision.  I cannot read or see up close without readers. And, I can still see only light and movement from my left eye. So, I guess I will be like my mom and dad and be searching for my cheaters to read anything or see who is calling me on my phone!! Although I know I am addicted to texting, it has been awful to not be able to read or respond to my friends that have text to check on me!! I had my friend set up an automatic response today that said I cannot read texts. Tragic!  Hopefully as the eye heals I will be able to resume my communication with the outside world.  Here is a pic of my in my cool eye shield after surgery.  I know you are jealous of my hair net, but hey I am still smiling!

On a family note, my parents party was a great time!  I am proud that my parents have made it 40 years.  These days that seems to be hard to find.  It was great to gather with family and friends to celebrate this occasion.  The food was great and so was the company!  We even had friends from Kansas that made the trip!! So... congrats Mom and Dad, I love you both.  And, thank you to my wonderful sister... I loved planning this event with you and getting to spend some quality "sister time" together!

This is the key to making it 40 years... wear matching outfits!