Summer Learning

brain drainMy daughter will be entering the 7th grade this upcoming school year and it is my goal to make sure that she doesn’t lose what she has learned and build upon what she has retained. When kids take summer vacation and do not read or practice their skills they have a hard time retaining them. I know this because I am a teacher and the same students who sit in my classroom at the beginning of the school year cannot remember anything from the previous year except for one or two songs and maybe what they learned right near the end. This lapse of time in learning when children lose knowledge is most commonly referred to as ‘brain drain’.

Do NOT let ‘brain drain’ happen to your kid(s).

What are some steps that you can take to ensure that this doesn’t happen to your kid?

1. If you are a single mama like myself (and even if you’re not) and your child will be with family during the summer or in daycare, make sure that they know what you expect. My kids stay with their grandparents during the summer and I expect my daughter to read a certain amount of chapters a weekday from a book that either she or I have selected and be able to tell me a little about it when I speak with her. I also purchase math workbooks, reading comprehension workbooks, and writing workbooks from the teacher store or Barnes and Noble.
2. Have your kid(s) complete a couple of grade level or above grade level reading comprehension passages a week. Remember to tear out the answer keys from the backs of these books. Grade them when you have a chance or when you get home from work.
3. After you have graded their work be sure to celebrate their successes and conference with them in regards to what they have incorrect and why.
4. I understand that not everyone is a teacher like myself or has the time to grade and go over answers. In that case, why not employ a high school or college student at a bargain rate to assist you once or twice a week.
5. For very young children, read to them and ask them questions about what they heard. Also, allow them to practice their handwriting because in this day and age so many of them use technology and do not get enough practice doing so.

6. Take them to any free museums this summer or plays in the park. Look up your local community calendar or a community calendar of cities nearby. Expose them to art (graffiti can be art, too).
7. Check your child’s school website to see if they have any summer reading assignments that will be due the first week of school. Some even have science, history, and math assignments that are due the first week.
8. Try exposing them to a word a day which you can easily download an app from your phone.
9. Check the web for free resources and download content to your computer for your child to read and complete.
10. Use your public library. They always have events and free programs for kids of all ages. Some libraries even offer rewards and badges for completion of books with weekly check-ins.

As a parent it is crucial for us to take an active role in our children’s’ education. The position we take should be both proactive and purposeful. Creating an educated society and children who are equipped for life and college-ready (whether they choose to attend or not) is my personal goal as a teacher and parent. If you need other suggestions, please check the sites below:

NASA Exploration Design Challenge

NYC Youth Voices Summer Program

Google + Maker Camp

Books to read with boys

Journaling Pages

Lessons and Printable Worksheets and



A Dose of Reality

I receive a lot of emails because I am a part of a lot of different communities on the web.  The title of one of the emails miffed me and got me to thinking.  It read something like this “What I Gave Up to Be A Mom…” Wow!  I thought about that for a split second and the first thing that I said out loud was that we all give up something when we become a mom, so what?  I didn’t bother opening this particular email and I am sure that if I did, I would have been enlightened in some way but, I also did not want to take the chance of it going the opposite direction.  To me, motherhood is a wonderful experience that allows us to learn more about who we really are.  It challenges us, stretches us in ways that we would never imagine that we would go through let alone withstand.  We persevere!  Now, about this “giving things up”.  I guess that this all depends on perspective.  I believe that what is supposed to happen, happens and that there really isn’t an alternative reality.  Now, in saying that, I also believe that some of us give up on things that were truly our passion and should not have been given up on but, postponed.  There lies the real question to ponder; did you give up on something that should have been postponed or a little bit altered to fit your new life with kiddo’s?  Life doesn’t stop.  I used to start my sentences off the same way years ago that mirrored the title of that email but, I learned that life is exactly how you want it to be and how you make it.  There are some twists and turns that you had nothing to do with but, your reaction to them is what makes you either a dynamic woman or miserable mom.  Don’t be the miserable mom.

Getting Ready for the Holidays

As you can tell, I have been quite busy with the little one who will be turning one in a week.  He is very active and the total opposite of how my daughter was at his age.  So, I have been receiving catalogs and advertisement mailings with all sorts of holiday-inspired themes.  I am already getting into the spirit and becoming reminiscent of what made the holidays special for me as a child.  Now, with two children, it is important to immediately keep my head on straight and start a budget that I will stick to.  The season can speed by so fast, and we can be taken up in all the holiday movies, sales, smells, and food that when the new year rolls around, we are trying to find out where all of our money went.  I have become quite thrifty lately and want to make sure that I do not owe anything from the holidays in the new year.  In order to do this as a single parent, sole provider, and self-proclaimed “starving-artist”, I have come up with a few pointers for myself.  I will probably add to this list as the season starts to swing into high-gear but, for now you can use any of these tips yourself, too.

1.  Create a budget; include in your budget how much you will spend on family, friends, and your children.

2.  Create a budget for yourself.  Remember that you may want to get your hair and nails done, pick out a special outfit or two and treat yourself to a couple of holiday movies or festivities (alcohol may be included).  Take all of this into account.

3.  Do not feel as though you have to get your children so many gifts.  I found that some years, I bought gifts for my daughter in addition to what she wanted because I liked them.  She has only played with one consistently out of all of her gifts from last year.  

4.  Remember that as your child gets older, their toys and ‘wants’ get more expensive.  My daughter can pick out two gifts this year with a maximum of $200.  She doesn’t know the max because sometimes she  picks below it.  My son is only one so he will get two toys also because, he rather bang on the walls anyway.

5.  Decorations cost money.  Go to the Dollar Store, Five and Below, or Home Goods.  Do not go crazy.  You may want a different theme next year.

6.  Just say “No!”  There will be a lot of events and sales and friends asking you to this and that.  Just say no.  I want to buy my first home within the next couple of years so, I have a bigger focus and that is paying off my debt and not creating any new debt and duh…saving!

7.  Remember what this time is really about.  Go for walks with the kids.  Bundle them up and walk around the block.  If you live a place where the weather is great all year around, even better.  Read to them, sing songs to them.  Stay indoors and make it a movie night.  There are plenty of options that do no require you to spend a fortune.

It’s hard out there and I figure any corners that can be cut should.  As a single parent, I can get down sometimes on myself because there are things that I simply cannot afford to give my kids but, then I ask myself “Is it something that they need?”  If the answer is no, then I focus on what they DO need and that is love and attention.  Give that and have a great holiday.

The New Addition

I now have a new addition to my family and his name is Justin.  He is the most beautiful baby boy that I have ever laid eyes on and I am not being biased.  Watching him while he is asleep or while he nurses, makes me want to work even harder to launch my freelance/consulting business.  I have already used vistaprint, which I think is a great start, to publish a website, secure a logo, and print business cards.  Now, I am focused on creating brochures, registering the business name, and creating a curriculum guide for my writing workshops.

It is very important that I do two things, and they are:

1.  Stay motivated

2.  Complete one task before I move on to the next one.  ( I am good for starting something and not completing it because I have so many good ideas and work on too many at one time)

So, I have looked at my calendar and created a rough draft schedule for the curriculum project and completion of the brochure before I move on to finishing my poetry book and youth center project.  There is so much that I want to accomplish in this lifetime and even if things do not work out just the way that I want them to, I can at least say that I tried.  So many people can’t even say that.  My motivation is within myself and each time I look at my kids.  OMG!  I just said ‘Kids’.  I have more than one now and it is surreal.

Anyway, I have my good days and my bad days and I am sure that you do, too.  Be sure to consistently pep yourself up.  I read self-help books, complete devotionals, and have a subscription to a blog that you may be interested in.  It is TDL and all musings are usually right on time.  You can check it out at :

If you like it, add yourself to the email list.

Quality Time

So, as we all know, there is an economic crisis going on and tried to share this with my daughter.  She’s 10.  Obviously, you know how well that conversation went over.  Anyway, last weekend she decided that she just wanted to go “window shopping”.  This led us to Nordstrom where she took off in high pursuit of the trendiest gear (read: expensive) that she could put her hands on.  I gently reminded her that I did not bring any money because we were just window shopping.  To this she replied “Well, can I try these on at least?”  I nodded my head in resignation and followed her into the dressing room.  She actually looked cute in the outfits she had picked out until I started scrutinizing the price tags.  Wow!!!!  She was enjoying herself so, I didn’t say anything.  Since, I’ve been pregnant and cranky at times, I have been trying to spend more quality time with my little girl so that she doesn’t feel left out.  Being a single parent, I know that she may be a little worried that the new kid on the block may take her place.  This guilt had me hypnotized as I put the items on hold and told her I would get them the following weekend when I got paid.  Yesterday, was the day and do you think she forgot.  Nope!  She kindly called me from her grandma’s house (she is staying there this weekend while I move us) and reminded me about the clothes.  All I can do is thank God that I worked the extra hours and when I purchased the items, I didn’t go into a panic attack.  Here’s to quality time.