According to an article in the September 2012 issue of Parent magazine, your smartphone or tablet can turn into a command center with everything you need to plan, prep, and navigate your kid's year. The best part is these great apps fro Apple and Android devices are all free!  Below are 9 and 10.

9.  Easy Reader
Cut down on storytime expenses and trips to the library with OverDrive media Console.  The app lets you "borrow" e-books froma a selection of public and school libraries.

10. Nifty Note Taker
Evernote offers quick ways to manage your growing to-do lists:  Record a voice note on the o for your partner or type up some tasks for your kids.  Everyone has access to the notes on any of your family's devices.

School Apps for Mom: Part 4

According to an article in the September 2012 issue of Parent magazine, your smartphone or tablet can turn into a command center with everything you need to plan, prep, and navigate your kid's year. The best part is these great apps fro Apple and Android devices are all free. Below are 7 and 8 of 10.

7. Team Player
For less stressful soccer games and basketball practices, the app allows you to organize your children's busy schedules, contacts for the players' parnts, stats, and other import info.

8. Class Aide
Designed for older students.  inClass is great for parents who want to stay on top of all of their kid's assignments, due dates, and the other things that take up the school year.  (Apple only)

School Apps for Mom: Part 3

According to an article in the September 2012 issue of Parent magazine, your smartphone or tablet can turn into a command center with everything you need to plan, prep, and navigate your kid's year. The best part is these great apps fro Apple and Android devices are all free. Below are 5 and 6 of 10.

5.  Savvy Shopper
Save time and money on back-to-school shopping with RedLaser.  Simply scan the item's bar code ad it compares online and in-store prices to locate the best deals

6.  Student Tracker
If you're nervous about your kid taking the bus, get Life360 Family Locator.  Register his cell (it doesn't have to be a smartphone), and this app will find him on the map.  It also has a panic button.

School Apps for Mom: Part 2

According to an article in the September 2012 issue of Parent magazine, your smartphone or tablet can turn into a command center with everything you need to plan, prep, and navigate your kid's year. The best part is these great apps fro Apple and Android devices are all free. Below are 3 and 4 of 10.

3.  Brain Booster
Kinder Town's team of parents and educators picks educational apps by age and subject so you don't have to. (Apple only)

4.  Virtual Assistant
The Cozi Family Organizer will keep your clan on the same page with reminders for homework or doctor's appointments sent out from the shared calendar.

School Apps For Mom: Part 1

According to an article in the September 2012 issue of Parent magazine, your smartphone or tablet can turn into a command center with everything you need to plan, prep, and navigate your kid's year.   The best part is these great apps fro Apple and Android devices are all free.  Below are the first 2 of 10.

1. Digital Tutor
Need a refresher course in math, English, and other subjects?  School A to Z helps you answer your student's homework head-scratchers and gives project suggestions on a variety of topics.

2. Kitchen Helper
Whether you're looking for lunch ideas or something you can whip up fast, Dinner Spinner can help with its more than 40,000 options.

Come back tomorrow for 2 more tips for School Apps for Mom.

Get Organized!

With schools in some parts of the country well into the routine, while others are about to start, handling the daily onslaught of kids' permission slips, bills and junk mail can be a full-time job. To keep track of your family's incoming and outgoing messages and mail, set up a "communication station" in a convenient location (like the mudroom or kitchen). A wall-mounted magazine rack gives each family member a slot for their papers, while a "look here: calendar is for quick references. Flyers, invites, and such stay in view on a bulletin board.

Below are 3 ideas that can help keep you organized during the busy school months according to an article in the September 2010 issue of Good Housekeeping.

1. Sort Smart. Stop mail clutter at the door in a tiered bin with three sections. IN, OUT, READ. The IN slot is for mail that needs to be dealt with fairly soon (bills, paperwork, etc. that should be addressed weekly); OUT is for outgoing mail; READ is for materials to peruse later (magazines, coupon books, and so on, to be purged monthly).

2. Make Notes. A sticky note on the door is the perfect can't-miss-it reminder. Tuck the notepad and pen in a bin (near your station) meant for holding outgoing items, like those library books that are due tomorrow.

3. Pen It In. A color-coded calendar (with a different color for each person) will keep the family on schedule. But don't write everything here, save personal activities for your own datebook. Just jot down events that involve multiple family members (things that require a driver etc.). Purge your bulletin board of no-longer-needed papers when you change the calendar page.

I truly hope everyone has a good working relationship with their children's school this year, 2012-2012. Make it a priority to get involved and stay informed. Your children need you to be a positive partner in their education and the school needs your participation and support. Most school districts are operating on limited or less funding, so any assistance you can give, I know will be appreciated.

Tip 83: If Your Child Is Sick, Keep Him Home

A child who is ill has no business at school.  That brings us to tip #83.

Tip 83:  If your child is sick, keep him home.

There is nothing more frustrating for a teacher then a sick child at school.  Children will come directly from their car to the teacher saying, "I told my mom I wasn't feeling well, and she said to go to the nurse if I don't feel better".   If your child has a fever, headache, or diarrhea do not send them to school.  This is how the flu and other viruses are spread throughout a school building.  Make sure you have alternative arrangements if your child gets sick.  It is not fair to the teacher and other students to be around a sick child all day and it's really not fair to your child.  Be sure that a child is fever free without medication for 24 hours before sending them back to school.  It is common curiosity for everyone involved.

Tip 82: Respect School Hours

It is not unusual for a few kids to be habitually late for school almost every day and other kids that are picked up 15 minutes or so early.  That brings us to tip #82.

Tip #82: Respect school hours.

Parents may think that being a few minutes late in the morning isn't important, but this is when the teacher is establishing morning routines and giving announcements.  When a child comes in late they miss out on assignments that are not easily made-up. On the other hand, when parents want to beat the crowd and check their child out a few minutes early every day, their child misses out on reminders and last minute annoucements.  Being 15 minutes late or leaving 15 minutes early may not seem like a lot of time, but teachers have less than seven hours to fit in a whole lot of learning of the school day and every minute counts and these minutes add up throughout the year.  It also gives your child the idea that time is not important.

Tip 81: Watch Your Words

Children are always listening to what we say and how we react to situations.  They learn from our actions.  That brings us to tip # 81.

Tip #81: Watch your words

Whenever you are talking about school or your child's teacher, try and refrain from saying negative things in front of them.  In many cases school was not a positive experience for the parent, so they think and speak about the school and teachers in ways that will make the child think and act negative at school.  Try to be  positive in front of the child and deal as positively with the teachers and administration, so there can be a partnership between the two to help your child have a good school year.  Usually if a parent is calm and positive the school will do whatever they can to help.

Tip #80: Encourage Writing At Home

Research shows that the entire brain is working when we are writing.  Only part of the brain is active when reading or listening, but the entire brain is active when writing.  That brings us to tip #80.

Tip # 80: Encourage writing at home. 

Never limit your child's writing to school assignments and essays.  Have your child write out birthday invitations, thank-you notes, and keeping a daily journal.  Encourage your child to get a pen pal or compose monthly letters to grandparent, relatives, or friends.  All these examples will boost their writing ability and make their brain totally active!

Encourage Your Child To Think

Curiosity is the key to student success now and in the future. Kids are naturally curious. Set them loose in a room full of craft supplies or a muddy sandbox, and you'll see their imaginations come to life. The following ideas are how to nurture curiosity for the beginning according to Todd Kashdan, author of Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life and clinical psychologist and professor psychology at George Mason University. The following are 6 ideas on how to nurture curiosity in the classroom according to an article in Instructor magazine 2010: Although this article was intended for educators, parents can take the same information for nurturing their own children.

1. Cue into students' interest. To enhance a student's curiosity, you must build activities around his/her interest, preferences, and sense of challenge. Focusing on rules, obedience, and inflexibility interferes with curiosity.

2. Satisfy that feeling of competence. Sparking curiosity take more than pointing out that something or someone is interesting, complex, or mysterious. After something new grabs their attention, students need to feel competent and understand it. That can make all the difference in whether they act on their curiosity or find something else to do.

3. Accept the negative and uncertain. Embrace uncertainty. By acting on their curiosity, students can explore this tension instead of trying to hide their feelings. As a result, they become better problem solvers and show a greater willingness to change, even if it requires a great deal of effort.

4. Knowledge opens kids' eyes. If you want students to be curious, help them accumulate knowledge. The more they know, the more they'll want to know.

5. Find the unfamiliar in the familiar. If you think you are an expert, you ma stop paying attention and curiosity can disappear. When you think you basically understand everything about your students' personalities, you start relying heavily on old scripts and categories.

6. Remember that things change. You learn to be curious when you recognize that there are few absolute answers in life. Flexible thinking leads to flexible people. Move away from black-and-white thinking to a greater appreciation of the beautiful gray area between.

The Difficult Parent At School

I think it is extremely important for parents to realize that a teacher has the responsibility for satisfying many other students and parents besides yourself. You should be willing to forgive if your child's teacher makes a mistake or fails to devote full attention to your specific issue. Make sure you are being reasonable in every situation you address.

If you are constantly are confronting your child's teacher with questions about minor issues and request conferences, the teacher will quickly feel annoyed, and become increasingly evasive. Never storm into a meeting angry and ready for an argument. Calm yourself down and make sure you are ready to listen and evaluation the entire situation. According to Stacy DeBroff, author of " The Mom Book Goes To School", here are the things that make a parent difficult for a school setting.

1. Complainer: This is parents frequently calling the teacher or drops in on the classroom to gripe about minor details.
2. Confrontational: This parent constantly pesters the teacher and is unwilling to list to feed back and suggestions.
3. Meddler: This parent typically micromanages every detail of their child's education and personal life.
4. Needy: This parent is on whose hand the teacher has to hold thought every step of the child's education
5. Nowhere-to-be-found: This parent is almost impossible to track down and is never available when teachers need to meet.
6. Overreacting: This parent's first instinct is to barge into the school highly agitated, emotional and irrational.
7. Overachiever: This parent lives vicariously through the high standards they set for the child and the success that child achieves.

Work very hard not to be one of the personalities above.  You will get better results from your child's teacher and working together will help your child get the "Best Education Possible".

Information on Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a reading disorder that persists despite good schooling and the child usually has normal or above average intelligence. It's a handicap that affects up to 1 in 5 school children. Yet, the exact cause and nature of the problem has eluded doctors, teachers, and parents. Dyslexia was first described more than a century ago. The mystery and some of the stigma may finally be lifted. Researchers have found that it it not brain damage, but that a growing number of scientific evidence suggest there is a glitch in the neurological wiring of dyslexics that make reading extremely difficult. The most successful programs focus on strengthening the brain's aptitude for linking letters to the sounds they represent. The good news is dyslexia didn't stop very famous men and women from achieving greatness. In some cases it may have fueled their creativity. If you suspect your child has dyslexia, according to Christine Gorman, it is never too early to do something about it. Here are a few of her suggestions:

1. Get Tested (The International Dyslexia Association can help) (800-ABC-D123)
2. Monitor Progress - If the IEP goals aren't being met, you may want to get private instruction.
3. Create an IEP - Special Education should provide a special program with specific goals
4. Boost Strength - Don't let your child be defined by his or her dyslexia. These children need to be encouraged.
5. Get at Home Help - Computer based reading programs have shown great promise in helping children read.
6.Educate Yourself - You need information to be your child's chief advocate.

Discipline for Softies

According to an article in the June 2012 issue of Parent magazine, much of the heavy lifting of discipline comes before misbehavior happens, not after.  Having a few well-thought-out guidelines will result in fewer instances where you need to be the bad guy.

Step 1: Be Realistic  Setting reasonable expectations means first understanding what your child is developmentally capable of.  For instance, 3-year-old lack the maturity and social awareness to share consistently.  If you insist on sharing at this age, you'll only end up fighting.  For more info on age-appropriate behavior, go to 
Step 2: Know Yourself  Only set rules that you're willing to go to the wall for every time, like no hitting.  You may dream of a world where your kids make their bed each day, but if you know you'll give in when they push back, scrap bed-making as a requirement or amend the rule in a way you can get behind (such as saying that beds must get made but you'll help).
Step 3: Make It Official  Call a family meeting to collaborate on a few essential house rules that everyone can agree to.  Let kids contribute every step of the way, offering ideas, decorating the list, and choosing a spot to post it.  Then, if they break a rule, you can direct them back to the agreement they helped create.

An Autism Advancement

Simple imitation exercises can help young children with autism boost their social skills, found a recent Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders study.  After a series of treatments using the technique, kids made significant improvement in bringing their parent's attention to an object through gestures and eye contact.  If your child has autism, try this at least a few times a day.

Step 1: Pullout similar toys for you both to play with, such as tow stuffed animals or a couple of trains

Step 2: Watch your child's sounds and movements, and copy them.  If he/she makes her stuffed animal jump in the air, let yours do the same.  Continue this for one or two minutes.

Step 3: Switch roles and model something new to do with the toy, such as running the train up your leg.  Repeat this three times to encourage your child to imitate you.  If he/she does follow your movements, praise him/her and return to copying their actions.  If not, gently guide them through the imitation.

Prevent Baby's Allergies

According to an article in the June 2012 issue of Parent magazine, if one parent has an allergy, chances are one in three that their child will too.  Below are ideas that may cut your child's odds of developing allergies:

1. Eat your "d": One Finnish study found that kids of women with a diet high in vitamin D during pregnancy were less likely to have asthma of allergies by age 5.  Your doctor can tell you whether you should add more D to your diet.  Some great sources: fortified orange juice, milk, and salmon.
2. Pop Probiotics:  Women who took them in their third trimester and then gave same supplement to their
baby for six months postpartum had newborns with blood markers that correlate with a lower allergy risk, one study found.  Ask your doctor about probiotics and which ones might be good for you both.
3. Avoid Cigarette Smoke: Studies show that moms who are cigarette smokers or regularly inhale secondhand smoke while pregnant are more likely to have children with respiratory allergies.
4. Choose a vaginal delivery: Researchers have found a correlation between cesarean section and childhood allergies.

Be On Time For School!

It is extremely important for your child to be on time for school every morning. The morning route will prepare your child for the day and settle them down for the morning lessons. In order to be on time in the morning do as much as possible the night before. According to, "The Mom Book Goes to School", there are somethings you can do to decrease stress on school mornings:

1. Load the car with the items you and your child need for work or school.
2. Place coats, bags, lunch boxes by the door, so you can grab them easily.
3. Design a shelf, basket, or area in which family members can place items.
4. Check the calendar in case your child needs sneakers for gym or a snack for a field trip.
5. Have your child pick out the clothes to wear the night before or lay out two outfits to choose between .
6. Set clocks ahead by ten minutes to help you stay on time in the morning.
7. Keep breakfast simple. Make hot breakfast items like, pancakes, French toast, and bacon ahead of time and reheat them. Keep muffins, fruit, or granola bars if you are running late.
8. Keep child-sized cups of milk and juice in the refrigerator so your child can get it.
9. If you are a coffee drinker, prepare you coffeemaker and set out mug, cream, and sugar.
10. Make getting dress a game or contest. Who can get completely dress first.
11. Mount an outdoor thermometer where your child child can easily see it, and teach your child how to read it and dress appropriately.
12.Banish TV in the morning to avoid wasting time.

Breakfast Benefits

What are some of the benefits of eating breakfast?  According to dietary guidelines for Americans, many children aren't getting enough calcium, vitamin D, potassium and dietary fiber, something a simple bowl of fiber-rich cereal with low-fat milk can provide.  Finally, people who eat breakfast are more likely to have a healthy weight than breakfast skippers.  Cereal is a nutritious option, according to Dayle Hayes, MS,RD, and one kids love to eat.  As a bonus, it fills that nutrient gap.  Many cereals contain whole grains that provide dietary fiber, and when combined with milk, you have got calcium, vitamin D, and potassium.  Also, most cold breakfast cereals are now fortified with a variety of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that children need.

So, get out a bowl, spoon, cereal, and milk.  There is no need to skip such an easy option for breakfast and your kids will feel and perform better throughout the morning. 

Happy Labor Day!


Best Education Possible, LLC wants to wish everyone a Happy Labor Day! Enjoy this holiday with family and friends and try to relax.  After all that's what Labor Day is all about.  Now that the 2012-2013 school has begun for most schools, please remember to make sure every child in your reach receives the Best Education Possible.

Yours in Education,
Debra West

Brain Power

Do we only use 10% of our brains?  It's an appealing thought, according to an article in the September 2012 issue of Family Fun Magazine. It goes on to say that we all possess an enormous, secret store of unused brain power.  But, according to Dr. Eric Chudler, a University of Washington neuroscientist and the founder of the website Neuroscience for Kids, there's no evidence to support the idea.  "When you look at some one's brain, using a functional MRI or a PET scan, you don't see any part of it that's just sitting there doing nothing,: he says.  Our minds do have plenty of untapped potential, though.  "What's great about the brain is that it's so adaptable," says Chudler. "It's forming new connections whenever we learn skills."

The Sky's the Limit

According to the September 2012 issue of Family Fun Magazine, cloudspotting, the hobby of observing and identifying cloud types, is a great way to get kids relaxing in nature.  To try it, head outdoors with a camera or smartphone and take pictures of interesting formations.  Then identify them according to type.  There are ten major types, with many variations, using a cloud almanac.  Family Fun likes the reference section on the Cloud Appreciation Society's website ( and the app Coton ( $2, Android and iOS).  You can turn your discoveries into a keepsake by printing your photographs and putting them in a journal.

This is a great family hobby suggestion that can be fun.  Nothing like spending quality time together and learning at the same time.  Try it and the sky's the limit!