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Summer Reading Lists - Part 2: Middle and High School

As promised in my earlier post, below is a list of recommended summer reading for older kids.

Don't let summer slip by with just games and sports - get them reading!

MIDDLE SCHOOL
Horrible Histories  (Deary) 
Quest for a Maid (Hendry) 
Count of Monte Cristo  (Dumas)  
Treasure Island (Stevenson)  
Hard Times (Dickens)  
Rifles for Waite (Keith)  
Catherine, Called Birdy (Cushman)  
Watership Down (Adams)  
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (O'Brien)

HIGH SCHOOL
Pride and Prejudice (Austen)
Gone with the Wind (Mitchell)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Adams)
Small Gods (Pratchett)
Wuthering Heights (Bronte)
Time and Again  (Finney)
Angela's Ashes (McCourt)
Jane Eyre (Bronte)
Twelve Angry Men (Munyon)
Joy Luck Club (Tan)
Catch-22 (Heller)
Slaughterhouse-Five (Vonnegut) 

Summer Reading Lists - Part 1: Preschool & Elementary School

Reading for pleasure during the school year can be challenging when kids come home with hours of busy work (homework) and they're booked solid with extracurriculars (sports, musical  instruments, and clubs). It's tough to compete with teachers, and well, life! So during the summer, if you plan this out at the start of the summer, introduce the LOVE OF READING to your kids. Set up a family calendar where you list what they'll be reading each week.  Have the kids decide when they'll read (and finish!) each book. That way they won't reach the end of the summer with a stack full of books that haven't been opened!

Use this time to choose some classic books, the books that every kid SHOULD READ!  Like ROIs (return on investments), let's make sure they get the most bang for the buck with their reading.  Here's a list of books that I've compiled based on my kids' favorites and some authorities in the literary world. What books were your favorites?

PRESCHOOL
The Giving Tree (Silverstein) 
How Much is a Million? (Schwartz) 
There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly (Taback) 
Where the Wild Things Are (Sendak) 
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Viorst) 
Velveteen Rabbit (Williams)  
The Big Book for Peace (Dutton)

LOWER ELEMENTARY
The Cricket in Times Square (Seden)  
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (Coerr)  
Where the Sidewalk Ends (Silverstein) 
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Dahl)  
Fables (Lobel)  
The Voyages of Dr. Doolittle (Lofting)  
Ralph S. Mouse (Cleary)  
Encyclopedia Brown (Sobol)  

UPPER ELEMENTARY
Island of the Blue Dolphins (O'Dell) 
A Wrinkle in Time (L'Engle)  
Dear Mr. Henshaw (Cleary)  
Nancy Drew (Keene)  
Hardy Boys (Dixon)  
Boxcar Children (Warner)  
Harry Potter (Rowling) 
Secret Garden (Burnett)  
The Book of Three (Alexander)

Can't Afford to go to College Because of Childcare Costs?

Check out how I did it for free!

Only 8% of single mothers graduate from college within 6 years. The Achieving a Dream and the Biden Foundation are working together to find solutions to help these mothers go to college and get a degree, but they don’t have any funding.  Congress just increased funding to the Child Care Access Means Parents in School program (CCAMPIS) from $15 million to $50 million.  This program gives grants to colleges that support child care on campus but supports only 5,000 college students nationwide.

Mothers who don’t have family or friends who can help out with child care can set up free child care in their homes while they go to school and work part-time. I set up a preschool for my 2 daughters for 9 years so I could work full-time. By inviting 3-4 children to join the program and hiring a teacher to teach the classes, the parents’ tuition covered the cost of the teacher’s wages and materials. Check out The Millennial’s Guide to Free Child Care in Your Home to learn how to set this up for your children.

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All Families Should be Able to Afford Child Care

Affordable child care continues to plague both families and day care workers.  The cost of child care often exceeds the cost of tuition at four-year public universities! That’s ridiculous!

Then, consider that day care workers make on average less than $23,000/year and 75% of them earn less than a living wage. So naturally, there’s a shortage of child care in most cities across the nation.

This hits low-income families the hardest because they pay about 30% of their income for child care. Higher-income families pay only about 8% of their income for child care.

The Child Care for Working Families Act proposes to cover 90% of the cost of infant-toddler care and meet quality standards and provide a living wage to teachers. Unfortunately, the current administration will only give funds to states that “remove unnecessary regulations” and the funds are insufficient to make a difference in the current child care crisis.

Step Back, Helicopter Moms!

Moms who hover over their children are Helicopter Moms. They’re worried that their children might get hurt so they constantly make sure that there environment is void of sharp corners or opportunities to put their kids at risk. These moms consider themselves to be superior to other types of mothers because they are always fussing over protective layers of clothing and gear for sports.

Children of Helicopter Moms might wear multiple layers of sweaters and jackets so they will be warm. When playing sports, they’ll be the player wearing every form of protective gear available. And if the flu is going around the school, this child will be wearing a mask and downing Vitamin C every few hours, and then they’ll be on their way to the ER to get antibiotics.

Helicopter Moms don’t stop worrying at high school graduation.  They’re the moms who make excuses for their college kids by requesting retakes on exams, or call in sick to their adult children’s employers. Yup, I can only image how they get entangled in their marriages and grandparenting.

The result of helicopter parenting is that these children aren’t prepared to make decisions on their own. This can lead to insecurity and often depression. So rather than hover over your child, let them experience some risks and manage their own consequences. A Helicopter Mom will never step back far enough to ever be accused of neglect or endangering their children. Just reel it in a bit so your children can experiment and grow. 

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30 Million Words by Kindergarten

We know that reading to our children encourages them to read and explore ideas. Educators have been encouraging parents to read to their children for decades.  And we know that educated and wealthier parents try to make it a ritual – at bedtime if not more often – to read piles of books to our kids. There’s evidence that children from low-income homes have heard about 30 million LESS WORDS than kids from middle or upper income families. Here is just another example of how poverty negatively affects children and sets them back in the academic world.

If parents read 5 books per day to their children, these kids will be exposed to 30 million words when they enter kindergarten.  They’re more likely to be prepared to start school, read at their grade level, and be success in academics. Many low-income children don’t have access to books and may have been exposed to under 5,000 words (compared to 30 million!). Groups are donating books to underprivileged children to give them a head start. If you have books on your children’ bookshelves that they no longer read, consider donating them to women’s shelters, clubs, and other organizations. 

What's A Bulldozer Mom?

A bulldozer mom forges ahead of her child, clearing all obstacles to ensure success. While this may seem like a dedicated mother whose sole purpose is to protect her child, she ultimately sets her child up to be psychologically frail and afraid to fail.

A bulldozer mom might pay thousands of dollars to get her child into a selective college (Lori Loughlin), or hire a hit man to murder her daughter’s rival so she could get on a cheerleading team (Wanda Holloway). This is ultimately more about the mother’s insecurities than their children’s.  It’s the mother’s ego that needs to boast that her child got in or made the team.  The children are victims of their mothers’ personal ambitions.

As a result, bulldozer children don’t learn coping and problem-solving strategies. These children often grow up to be adults who can’t navigate their careers to reach their goals. In the case of the Loughlin daughter, she didn’t want to advance her career, her goal was to go to college to party.

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Three Tips to Create a Healthy Device Balance in Your Home

Concerned that your children are spending too much time on electronic devices?  Worried about how this might negatively affect their learning and even their health? Think that you can’t do anything about it? It’s time to rethink how we can use technology to enhance our children’s and our own lives – not hurt them.

3 Tips to Implement NOW:

1) Set up specific times that are okay for cell phones, computer games, and other digital distractions. Be consistent!

2) Supervise device use. Install nanny software, check in to see what they’re doing online, have all passwords to make sure they’re safe.  It’s your right and your privilege as their parent!

3) Organize activities where no devices are allowed. Getting exercise with the family promotes a healthy lifestyle.  Plan hikes, outings, and physical activities.

You’ll probably notice that your kids will get better grades in school, be less anxious, and be happier.  And, you’ll appreciate preserving family time again!

Student Loans (and Contracts) are Good for Grades

Amidst the chatter about how student loans create a financial burden for student after graduation, a new study finds that students with student loans do BETTER in classes than those students without loans. They earned more credits and received a higher GPA. And, community college students with loans are 11% more likely to transfer to 4-year colleges.

When students are motivated to complete their degrees in a shorter period of time because they are paying for the courses, they will finish quicker and they’ll study harder than students whose parents are footing the bill.  When parents whip out their checkbooks to pay tuition, room and board, and living expenses, why would their children rush to leave such a sweet deal? Four years of partying with no parents in sight! Hmm.

I’ve created a 4-Year Plan and Contract for my students to make sure that both students and parents benefit from the college experience.  We lay out all of the student’s major, electives, and general education requirements so the student understands what they’ll be taking and why.  Then they sign a contract indicating what the parents will pay for based on course completion and grades.  If the student’s grades drop or they withdraw from classes, the student is responsible for a portion of the tuition and room and board.  It’s a great way to make sure that college students understand that their parents are making a huge sacrifice to send them to college and this gives them incentive to do well and graduate on time.

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