Top 10 reasons kids have trouble with homework – and how to help (without helping too much)

Halting Homework Hassles

By Jody Johnston Pawel, LSW, CFLE

Homework is a child’s responsibility, so we need to be careful how much we help. We want to be aware of what our children are doing and be involved in helpful ways, but not help too much. We can start by avoiding the word “we” when referring to homework; it implies that homework is our responsibility. Instead, say, “When are you going to do your homework?” If they are having problems, figure out why.

Here are the Top Ten reasons:

1. If children have a time management problem, teach them how to schedule their time, instead of taking over and reminding them. Ask questions like, “How much time do you need for homework? Would you like to do homework right after school or right after dinner? How can you remember when it is time to do your homework?”

2. If children don’t understand homework, ask questions that help them figure out the answer. “What are you supposed to do here? Where in the book does it talk about this?” If children don’t understand the information, we can try explaining it. We do not have to understand what children are learning to be helpful. We just need to know the skills for helping our children find their own answers. If children need daily help, they may benefit from a tutor more than our taking responsibility for helping them. It’s a delicate balance to be helpful, without fostering dependency, rescuing, or helping too much.

3. If children forget a book, lunch, or homework, teach organizational skills and use problem solving to have children chose self-reminders. Avoid being their reminder or rescuer. Agree to deliver forgotten items no more than three times per year. After that, the child will need to experience the natural consequence of not having the item.

4. Children are distracted.
The solution here is obvious. Remove the distractions or the child from the distractions, such as no homework with the TV on. Due to learning and brain styles, music can distract or help children focus, as can studying outside or in their room. Try different options to see what works best. The goal is to create an environment that will help that child focus.

5. If children don’t see the value of homework
, avoid lectures. Instead, ask questions such as, “Why do you think the teacher wants you to do homework? How does homework help you? What will happen if you don’t do it?” Offer one brief value statement like, “School is your job and teachers are your boss. You need to follow the schools rules, even if you don’t agree with or like them. As long as teachers aren’t asking you to do something hurtful or wrong, you need to do what they ask you to do.”

When children don’t do homework on purpose
, it could be one of four reasons:

6. Children might “act stupid” so teachers (or parents) will pay attention and spend time helping them. If the parent/teacher involves the child in meaningful activities or spends other special time with the child, it can prevent or stop this behavior.

7. Children might want to prove that they have power, by refusing to cooperate. “You can’t make me.” They also might see if they can get others to take over and do the work for them. After all, if others will take responsibility why not let them?

8. Children might not do homework to “punish” a disliked teacher. If good grades are important to parents and children want to hurt them, getting poor grades can be revenge. Help children find more appropriate ways to resolve the problem with the parent/teacher.

9. Children may not do their homework because they are so discouraged they have given up. Give encouragement, not pressure, and help them break down assignments into smaller tasks.

10. Children who have given up on school
are experiencing a deeper problem. Listen closely to identify the real issue. This is what needs to be resolved. Have children brainstorm possible solutions. You may enlist professional guidance, if indicated.

    The two key points to remember about halting homework hassles are (a) you need to identify and resolve the “real issue” that’s causing the problem and (b) do this in a way that teaches children how to solve their own problems.

    Get more information from Jody Johnston Pawel, LSW, CFLE, second-generation parent educator, president of Parent’s Toolshop® Consulting, parenting expert to the media worldwide, and author of 100+ practical parenting resources, including the award-winning book, The Parent’s Toolshop at: http://www.parentstoolshop.com/

    Things we Love: Family Adventure Travel ala the Discovery Channel

    If your family gets hooked into those Discovery Channel shows like we do, you’ll love this!

    The Discovery Channel has just launched a brand new adventure travel company: Discovery Adventures.

    Tour themes tie in with places featured on Discovery Channel programs such as Man vs. Wild, Out of Egypt, Discovery Atlas, Dirty Jobs and Into the Unknown With Josh Bernstein.

    As a participant, you’ll have the opportunity to explore ruins and historic sites, as well as to do volunteer work in the destinations and experience local cultures. And Discovery Adventures says all trips are suitable for families.

    These adventures will be going to destinations including Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru, the Amazon, the Galapagos, India, Thailand, Cambodia, China, South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Alaska and the U.S. Southwest.

    Itineraries range from cruises and safaris to exploring the ancient civilizations of the Incas, the Egyptians and Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

    Departures began in December. The trips run from three to 24 days and are being offered in partnership with the tour company Gap Adventures. Prices start at $800 per person, including lodging, breakfast and some other amenities. Airfare is extra. Groups will be small, just six to 15 people depending on the destination.

    Here’s the first adventure:


    Travel to the Galapagos Islands with Andy DeHart

    Exclusive departure: June 19, 2010

    View all trips from Discovery Adventures

    Love mushrooms? Here are family-friendly ideas and recipes

    A Fungus Among Us: Mushrooms for Health
    By Cheryl Tallman

    www.FreshBaby.com

    Neither plant nor animal, mushrooms are classified as fungi. Mushrooms pop up in forests at certain times of year in various places all over the world and then disappear completely without warning. Ancient Egyptians believed that mushrooms paved a path to immortality and they were considered food for royalty only.

    The most commonly cultivated mushroom in the United States is the white button mushroom and topping the exotic list are truffles that sell for $1,000- $1,500 per pound.

    Mushrooms are high in the B-vitamins, riboflavin and niacin, which promote healthy skin and good vision and ensure that the digestive and nervous systems function as they should. Mushrooms are an important source of potassium; in fact, one medium-sized portabella contains more than a banana. Mushrooms also contain essential minerals including selenium, pantothenic acid, and copper, all of which work to keep the body healthy.

    Scientists believe that extracts of various mushrooms could be very beneficial in the treatment and prevention of cancer, including white mushrooms for breast cancer, and shiitake and maitake mushrooms for prostate cancer. Still more laboratory studies suggest that a mushroom extract may help prevent heart disease by reducing blood lipids and cholesterol levels.

    In the past 30 years, the variety of cultivated mushrooms has greatly increased and as a result, there are a lot more choices offered the grocery store. Along with the standard white button mushroom, cremeni, oyster, shitake, Portobello, and enoki are varieties found fresh in most produce sections. Some other varieties, such as porcini, chanterelle, and morel are commonly available dried. With awesome selection and great flavors, it is really quite simple to have a “fungus among us” at your family meals.

    Age to introduce: 12-18 months

    Toddler Treat: Shroomy Stroganoff

    This is a perfect meal for a cold fall or winter day. Instead using sliced mushrooms, we recommend diced (or chopped). Not only are the smaller pieces easier to maneuver on a fork or spoon, they are less “suspect” looking to the skeptical toddler eye. Enjoy!

    Ingredients:

    2 tablespoons butter or margarine

    1 lb. diced fresh white mushrooms

    1/3 cup low sodium beef or vegetable stock

    1/2 teaspoon dried dill

    1 cup sour cream (dairy or soy)

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Cooked rice or egg noodles

    Directions:

    Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the diced mushrooms and stir constantly for about 5 minutes. Add the beef or vegetable stock & dill. Continue cooking about 4 more minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Turn the heat down to low and add the sour cream. Gently stir until heated through; but do not allow it to boil. Serve over cooked rice or egg noodles.

    Makes 8 kid-sized servings or 4 adult servings.

    Tip: Freeze small portions for quick defrost, heat, and serve meals.

    Mushrooms for The Family

    At the market: Many varieties of fresh mushrooms are available year round. In general, look for firm, unblemished caps. The mushroom’s surface should be free from moisture but not look dry. Avoid mushrooms with any sign of mold. If you are using dried mushrooms as a substitute for fresh then 1 pound of fresh mushrooms = 2-3 ounces dried.

    Storage: Always refrigerate mushrooms. Loose mushrooms keep well in paper bags in the refrigerator. Avoid airtight plastic bags because they will cause the mushrooms to spoil faster. Properly stored, fresh mushrooms will keep for about five days.

    Preparation: To prepare fresh mushrooms, first trim off the bottoms of the stems, then wipe them off with a paper or cotton towel. Don’t use water to clean mushrooms, they’ll absorb it and turn mushy when you cook them.

    The stems of shiitake mushrooms and the root end of portabella stems are often tough and should be discarded, but all other mushroom stems can be trimmed and used along with the caps.

    Dried mushrooms are often excellent substitutes for fresh. To use dried mushrooms, they need to be reconstituted which is easily done by soaking or simmering them in water. Don’t throw out the soaking liquid–it can add more flavor to your recipe than the mushrooms themselves.

    Here are some quick ideas to add mushrooms into your family meals:

    Simple Sautéed Mushrooms: Many main dishes taste so much better with a simple side of sautéed mushrooms. Try to basic recipe or take it to another level with one of our variation suggestions.

    Basic recipe: Slice 8 ounces of mushrooms (any variety or a mixture). In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil or butter over medium-high heat, and add the mushrooms to the skillet all at once. Cook, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are tender, liquid evaporates and they begin to brown, about 6 minutes. Salt and pepper, to taste.

    Variations: About 2 minutes before the mushrooms are done cooking add:

    TEX-MEX: Add 3 tbsp cilantro, 1 Tbsp lime juice and 1 Tbsp chopped green onions

    THAI: Add 1/3 cup Thai peanut stir-fry and dipping sauce

    ITALIAN: Add 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1-3 tbsp chopped parsley, 1 tsp garlic salt, and 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

    FRENCH: 1 tsp Herbs de Provence and 1 Tbsp butter

    JAPANESE: 1 Tbsp sesame oil, 1 tsp ground ginger, and 1 tsp soy sauce

    Shroomed Up Stews: Add a whole white button mushrooms to your favorite stew recipe. The whole mushrooms will add a great look to the dish. They’ll also absorb the flavors of the gravy and taste fantastic.

    Great Grilled shitakes: Shitakes mushrooms are popular in Asian cooking. They have a terrific smoky taste and are great grilled on the bbq or in a grill pan. For easy flipping, run a skewer through a few of them. Then baste them with a little teriyaki glaze and grill them for 2-3 minutes per side.

    Enoki in your salad?: Popular in Japan, Enokis are just too cute and very easy to use. They are sold in clusters and you just trim off the base, separate them and add them to salads. Give them a try with your favorite green salad, simply top the salad with a 3 ½ ounce package of enoki mushrooms, and toss the salad with your favorite dressing.

    Authentic Stir-Fry: The Chinese use straw mushrooms quite often in cooking. They are not commonly available fresh, but they can easily be found canned. Next time you are making a stir fry, get a more authentic taste and use straw mushrooms (drain the liquid from the can before using them).

    Mixed Mushroom Casserole: This casserole is great way to try different mushroom varieties. And it’s a great side dish for company, because it can be made in advance. Heat a large skillet with 2 Tbsp of oil at medium high heat. Add 1 pound mushrooms (sliced and chopped into about the bite-sized pieces), 1 chopped onion and 1 cup chicken broth to the skillet. Add 1 teaspoon each of thyme, basil, and oregano. Add the juice of ½ lemon and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce liquid by about half. Turn mixture into an oven-proof casserole dish and top with ½ cup breadcrumbs; dot with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

    About the author: Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, and author of the So Easy Baby Food Basics: Homemade Baby Food in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week and So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years. Visit Cheryl online at www.FreshBaby.com for more delicious tips.

    Walt Disney World Savings for Momscapers


    United Vacations is offering an exclusive savings no one else is offering:
    You can save up to 30% on your Walt Disney World® Resorts stay. Plus, save up to $100 off by booking through this link and using promo code DISNEYSAVE.

    Here are the details:

    Deal #1: Savings up to 30% at Disney Resort Hotels
    Note: If you choose a Deluxe Disney Hotel you will get the highest discounts.

    To get this deal:
    * Book by 6 p.m. CST on 8/14/10
    * Travel 5/2-8/14/10
    * Choose a DEAL room category

    Deal #2: Take up to $100 off your vacation package price
    * Save $60 on a 3-night vacation package
    * Save $80 on a 4-night vacation package
    * Save $100 on a 5-night or longer vacation package

    Use promo code: DISNEYSAVE at time of booking

    $100 off Family Getaways

    Family GetawayUntil June 30, 2010, you can save $100 on family getaways.
    Click here for details and use code: FG100

    FamilyGetaway.com is where families go to plan their next vacation, and find exceptional values on family resorts.

    Through FamilyGetaway.com’s Auction and Buy Now offers, you can purchase the perfect package – often up to 65% off the retail value.  FamilyGetaway.com hand-selects and showcases each property, making sure it meets family standards.

    FamilyGetaway.com is powered by Luxury Link, the world’s premier online luxury travel resource. Luxury Link showcases more than 1000 extraordinary hotels and resorts, cruises, tours and villas in more than 60 countries, and provides unparalleled access to exclusive offers and insider tips for the sophisticated traveler. You’ll find great discounts of up to 50% off retail prices on some of the best air, hotel and vacation packages available. Enjoy!

    4 Yummy Non-Alcoholic Drink Recipes

    Next time you’re having a party, try offering one or two of these homemade non-alcoholic cocktails in addition to your other beverages.  Yum!

    Peach Julius

    Ingredients:

    * 1 cup frozen or fresh peach juice

    * 2 ounces milk

    * 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    * 2 tablespoons sugar

    * 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream

    * 1/2 cup of ice

    Place the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. If the mixture is too thick for your taste, add more water or juice. If the mixture is too thin, add more ice cream.

    Pour into  chilled glasses and serve.

    Non-Alcoholic Mudslides

    * 3 scoop vanilla ice cream

    * 1 teaspoon non-alcoholic amaretto flavored syrup

    * 3 teaspoons non-alcoholic Irish cream flavored syrup

    * Chocolate syrup to taste

    * Splash of milk

    Place the ice cream in a blender and add milk until the mixture is smooth. Using the pulse setting on your blender, add the amaretto syrup first, followed by the Irish cream flavored syrup. Add chocolate syrup to taste and blend the mixture again. Pour this into a tall glass.

    Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup.

    To create a mocha-flavored drink, substitute coffee-flavored ice cream in place of the vanilla.


    Virgin Miami Vice (Makes one serving)

    Ingredients:

    * 1 ounce pineapple juice

    * 1 ounce coconut cream

    * 1/2 ounce half and half cream

    * 1 1/2 ounce strawberry puree

    * 1 1/2 ounces lime juice

    * 1/4 ounce simple syrup

    * 1 cup crushed ice

    * Strawberry or mint for garnish

    In a blender, add half the ice, pineapple juice, coconut cream, and the cream. Blend until smooth and pour into a tall glass. Place the remaining ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Spoon this mixture over the pineapple-coconut layer. Garnish with a strawberry and a sprig of mint.

    Non-Alcoholic Champagne

    Add 32 ounces of lemon and lime soft drink with 12 ounces of thawed white grape juice concentrate. Pour this into a container with a cover so it will remain fizzy until served. Serve as-is out of the covered container – or serve from of a punch bowl.

    You might also like:
    Perfect Party Punch
    A fizzy recipe with ice cream, sherbet and loads more!

    Things We Love: Design-it-Yourself Gift Baskets

    Design It Yourself Gifts and Baskets

    Review by: AMCMom

    Where to buy: www.designityourselfgiftbaskets.com

    Gift baskets make wonderful and unique presents. And this site allows you to build your own custom gift baskets, so they are just right for your recipient.

    First, you’ll select a theme (from chocolate lovers, coffee lovers, new baby, wine enthusiasts, and more – you’ll even find more unusual themes like “flavors of Texas.”)

    Then you’ll choose a container – from leather boxes to wicker baskets to cool antique-looking trunks. Then you’ll fill it with a range of different specialty and gourmet items – everything from wine to delicious chocolates and other food delicacies to  themed coffee mugs, balloons and stuffed animals.

    Of course, you can also purchase the site’s Standard Gift Baskets, where you opt for a standardized already made-up gift basket, such as Baby Gift Basket or the Chocolate Gift Basket.

    Or you can take the Gift Express Option, which allows you to choose a budget and an occasion and the company will handpick appropriate items.

    Whether you are looking for the perfect basket for a loved one or even a corporate gift, Design It Yourself Gifts and Baskets is a fun site to browse.

    Go to www.designityourselfgiftbaskets.com for more information.

    6 Creative Easter Egg Hunt Ideas

    Kids love those Easter egg hunts. Here are a few creative ideas to help you get inspired this year:

    * Have a Scavenger Easter Egg Hunt. Instead of simply hiding the eggs and having the kids rip through the yard to find them, hide them in specific places throughout the house. Plant the first clue in an Easter basket to get them started on their egg-hunting journey. Each plastic egg they find holds another clue.

    If you have more than one child, you may want to designate a specific color egg for each child. For their final clue, have them find a small but special gift.

    This is especially fun if you have older kids, and, if you’re short on time, you can ask the older kids to create the scavenger hunts for their siblings.

    * Give coupons rather than candy. This is particularly good for teenagers. Instead of sugar-laden snacks, give a coupon for a movie rental, special privileges, a date with Mom or Dad, or a new CD from their favorite artist. Hide the coupons in the eggs and they may actually choose to go searching.

    * Put money in a couple of the eggs. You can use loose change, but put a few dollars into the mix for even more fun.

    * Include Prize eggs. This idea is best when planning an Easter egg hunt for children other than your own family. This might be a neighborhood activity or one for a civic or religious organization. Along with candy, you may want to place coupons to redeem for prizes.  Hide mainly plastic eggs filled with candy and little toys, stickers, or temporary tattoos. Then hide two or three other real eggs which have a number painted on them. When someone finds the real egg, they can exchange it for a prize which corresponds to that number.

    * Wait until dark to have your egg hunt! This is particularly fun for older children who can wait awhile. Hand everyone who is searching a flashlight so they can go hunting. You may also be able to find glow-in-the-dark eggs or paint the plastic eggs with glow-in-the-dark paint.

    * Have a reverse egg hunt. Instead of the children doing the hunting, have each child hide up to four of their eggs in the house. After they’re hidden, the adults in the family get to see how many of the eggs they can find.

    You might also enjoy:

    Kids’ Easter Activities

    Available for Immediate Download
    Printable Kids Easter activities for children at home or school. Includes word puzzles, mazes, Easter games, math worksheets, coloring pages, Easter cards and more.

    Fun Kids Crafts
    Available for Immediate Download
    This collection includes more than 700 Crafts with illustrations, printable templates & step-by-step instructions.