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Use GoNoodle for learning breaks and beyond!

In partnership with our friends at GoNoodle, we wanted to share the benefits of exercise and movement for young minds, especially as a reenergizing break after a span of learning (and before the next!).

Everyone knows that movement is good for the body, but studies have proven that movement is good for the mind as well – especially for children.  Exercise has a long list of brain-benefits including: “improved attention and memory, increased brain activity and cognitive function, and enhanced mood and ability to cope with stress” (via Edutopia).

Teachers rely on GoNoodle’s hundreds of movement and mindfulness videos to break up the day for their students with fun and purposeful content.  After a quick dance party or yoga session, students are ready to sit back down and learn with clear minds and relaxed bodies. Parents can use movement and mindfulness breaks at home as well to channel energy, manage emotions, and reinforce activity from the classroom.  Give GoNoodle a try at home for FREE – sign up for a family account on their website!

Here are some of the different types of activities GoNoodle has to offer:

Dance:

Perfect for an energy burst, family dance-off, or sing-along to your favorite GoNoodle song!

JUMP! in the NTV: Noodle Television channel

 

 

 

Mindfulness:

Kid-friendly mindfulness videos reduce stress, settle anxiety, and boost confidence.

Melting in the FLOW channel

 

 

 

Yoga:

Learning yoga poses and stretches help empower children and get the blood flowing.

Release Your Warrior in the Empower Tools channel

 

 

 

Fitness:

Movement videos are focused on fine and gross motor skills, cross-lateral movement, coordination, and balance.

Full Speed in the Fresh Start channel

 

 

 

Try these breaks and others at home with a FREE GoNoodle account!

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As a child development expert, I fully appreciate how school — whether attending for the first time ever, starting at a new school, or returning to school after an exciting summer break— is a big step for a child’s social and emotional development. I can certainly tell you about how learning to share and moving from solo play to collaborative play are important developmental milestones. But what I didn’t fully appreciate until sending my own son off to preschool, was how emotional the experience can be for the whole family. While there are similarities we all go through, every back-to-school experience is unique and personal. Here are some strategies that have worked for our family and hopefully can be adapted to work for yours too!

Research. As parents, it’s important to find a place where we feel comfortable (or as comfortable as we can feel), so that we are confident our kids are at a school that’s right for them. Visit the school with and without your child, observe, talk to the teachers and administrators, and ask questions to really get comfortable with the place and understand whether it’s a good fit for your family.

Communicate. Form a relationship with the teachers and administrators so that you feel as though you’re all on the same team.

Forecast. My son had an extreme (and I mean EXTREME) case of separation anxiety that my PhD did NOT prepare me for. One thing that helped was forecasting step-by-step how the day was going to go so that he could start to get a sense of what to expect. I would say something like “first, we’re going to get your shoes on and pack your backpack. Then, we’ll get in the car and drive to your school. We’ll walk up the loooooong wiiiindy path to the door, and I’ll walk you up to your classroom. When we see your teachers, we’ll say ‘Hi, Ms. D! Good morning, Ms. L!’ And they’ll help you hang up your things in your cubby. Then, they’ll help you find something to play. What do you think you’d like to play today? There are the garbage trucks, the sand table, the Play-Doh, etc.” It also helped to give my son details about when he would get picked up and see me again. Especially for young children, repetition and consistency are key! We would talk through this so many times so that he could start internalizing it – during dinner, at bedtime, in the morning, and while we were going through each step in the process. This strategy can be helpful for any new experience with children of all ages, though how often you need to repeat yourself and how much detail you need to provide will vary.

Acknowledge. One of the most important things we can do for our kids is respect and acknowledge their feelings, even if they seem silly or irrational (like epic meltdowns when they have to wear their red shirt instead of their blue shirt because their blue shirt is dirty). Simply telling our kids that we see what they’re feeling and understand, will help them feel validated and supported. Sometimes this can be easier said than done! Even knowing the benefits of acknowledgement, I often had to fight the urge to reassure my child that it would be okay, and he would have fun at school. Instead, I paused, took a breath, and said, “I see that you’re feeling a little nervous about school. School is new, and sometimes new things make me nervous too.” For an older child, it might be something like, “I see that you’re frustrated that your best friend is in a different class…”

Model. Even as our kids get older, our own behavior still has a tremendous impact on them. Try to get in the habit of modeling the types of behaviors that you want to see in your child. Seeing you demonstrate kindness to a barista or go out of your way to include someone in a conversation, will help make those abstract ideas concrete and relatable for your child.

Get creative. Find different ways to engage with your child about their school day. Instead of asking them how their day was, ask them to tell you the story of their day from their shoe’s perspective (and tell them the story of your shoe’s day too.) It might be something like, “Well, first I woke up in the closet with all my other shoe friends. I made the long journey down the sidewalk where I almost stepped in a piece of gum!” This will help your child practice perspective-taking, flex their storytelling abilities, and maybe even take the pressure off them of sharing details about their own day.

Trust. Trust the process that your child’s school has established and know that the teaching staff are truly experts in helping kids with this transition. But also, trust your instincts. Hopefully doing your research early will set you up to feel confident about your child’s school, but if something isn’t sitting right with you, talk to your child’s teachers and school administrators to try to find a solution. And finally, trust your kids. They are remarkable and capable young people and hopefully the back-to-school experience helps to show off some of their best characteristics.

I hope these strategies help your family transition back to school. But we also want to hear from you! What are some other things that have worked well for your family? What were some of your biggest challenges with your child going back to school this year?

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Go back to school with confidence, enthusiasm, and a good strategy on how to use Homer in your classroom! Early childhood teachers know that starting the school year off with a routine is crucial for a successful school year. HOMER is here to help. Our Learn-to-Read Program offers several components that can easily be integrated into your daily routine.

Songs and Rhymes: Songs and rhymes are such an important element in early childhood classrooms. Exposure to songs and rhymes early in life actually helps children master foundational reading skills. We offer numerous songs and rhymes including traditional ones like ‘Jenny Jenkins’ and  ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’ as well as Homer original ones like ‘Pantone Colors’ and ‘Good Morning’ found in the StoryTime section. Incorporate these into morning meeting, circle time, whole class learning, or brain break time.

Discover the World:  This section offers nonfiction content. With hundreds of stories relating to all sorts of world wonders, your kids will get exposure to everything from Presidential history to learning about Ancient Egypt. There are also several selections that cover back-to-school, science, and health information. These selections can be used in literacy centers, small group instruction, or whole group instruction. Don’t forget to print out the printables related to key sections. Our favorites include U.S. Presidents and Larger than Life.

Learn to Read: This section, developed by our learning experts, is ideal for literacy centers or for when you are working one-on-one with a student. In this section, students have an individual pathway where they explore and master a variety of phonics activities. The positive language has been a huge motivator!

StoryTime: The StoryTime section also has hundreds of books that you and your students can explore and utilize during the school year. Again, there are several selections that can be used in your back-to-school units. HOMER offers stories that focus on kindness, friendship, and school. Read ‘Robot’s First Day of School’ for a story that addresses the feelings involved with the first few weeks of school. Original selections such as ‘Nip’s Big Heart’ and ‘Homer’s Hiccups’ are also ideal for tapping into important social emotional skills.

First Readers: The leveled readers in this section can be used in literacy centers, small group instruction, circle time, and whole group instruction. Children are encouraged to not only read the selections, but record their voice as they read it and practice the sounds of what they are reading. Not only do they gain confidence in reading, but they love hearing themselves and progressing forward with their achievements.

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Written by Peggy Kaye, HOMER’s Chief Curriculum Officer

Featured in KIDBOX’s The Scribble Newspaper

All too often, homework turns peaceful evenings into fighting matches between parents and kids. What can be done to stop the arguments? Here are a few ideas from our very own Peggy Kaye, featured in KIDBOX’s The Scribble newspaper, to limit any homework woes.

Homework basics:

Set daily times for homework and vary that as little as possible. Establish one location to do homework every day. Build a homework routine!

How long should homework take?

The National Education Association recommends 10 to 20 minutes of homework a day for first graders, with a 10-minute increase each school year — meaning sixth graders might have an hour of homework per day. If your child has a great deal more (or less) homework, consider talking to the teacher or principal.

Should you help?

It’s fine to help your child with work, but if you do so frequently (or if one topic seems especially challenging to your child), it’s best to let the teacher know.

Below are some grade specific tips to help your children with their schoolwork:

First and Second Grade Tips

  • Make a 100 chart (10×10 squares), and after doing homework each day, have your child check off one square. For every 10 homework days, have a small CELEBRATION — a special treat for accomplishing so much.  A celebration can be as simple as an acknowledgment for their work. On the 50th day and the 100th day, do something very special to celebrate this special milestone!
  • Make a sign to put on the table or desk where your child works. The sign announces that it is homework time.
  • Create a decorated one-of-a-kind HOMEWORK BOX. Fill it with everything your child needs for homework: pencils, pencil sharpener, crayons, scissors, and glue.

Third and Fourth Grade Tips

  • Typically, third and fourth graders have many rote memory tasks, such as memorizing multiplication and division tables. Instead of drilling through problems relating to memorization, try to make homework more fun! Use a checkerboard and tape math problems on the black squares. Play checkers as usual, EXCEPT you and your child have to solve each math fact before placing the checker on that square!
  • For spelling and math tests use the LITTLE BIT trick. Have your child study a little bit, about seven minutes, but study two different times a day.
  • Have them start their homework early each day so that they have free time when it’s done.  Encourage them to do the hardest assignment first to get it out of the way!
  • Have your child grade their own homework! Is the work neat? Completely done? Carefully checked? Then they can give themselves an A+.

Fifth and Sixth Grade Tips

  • Before the school year begins, establish rules about what can and cannot happen before homework. Try ideas like doing homework before screen time, playing games, or building models. Reading, eating, or a chat while doing homework are fine, but all else can wait until homework is done and checked.  This will help children stay focused and present during homework time!
  • Have your child begin the year by picking out a classmate as their STUDY BUDDY. A study buddy can send them pictures of homework they might forget to bring home or remind them of pages they have to read.
  • Get a desk-sized calendar and turn it into a work schedule. This is not an assignment book. This is where your child says exactly what they will do each day to finish projects due in a week or two weeks. A schedule helps them avoid the I-HAVE-TOO-MUCH-TO-DO! blues.

KIDBOX makes it easy, fun, and affordable to shop for children’s clothes by delivering name brand looks that match your child’s style straight to your door.  Get $10 off your first full KIDBOX with code HOMERSTYLE.

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As part of our mission to provide all children with the best educational start possible, HOMER has teamed up with the educators at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to keep young patients learning while they undergo treatment.

Through donated HOMER subscriptions, the teachers at CHOP are able to enlight and enrich days in the children’s wing with lessons, stories, and songs that foster creativity, critical thinking, empathy, and phonemic awareness.  

Educators at CHOP find the Personalized Pathways on HOMER particularly valuable, as they allow children to learn at the right level and pace, engage with content surrounding their passions, and add digital fun into their time in the hospital.

One CHOP patient arrived for a checkup post-treatment and, upon return, asked for HOMER by name. Another went from limited knowledge of base letters and sound associations to being able to recognize 20 out of the 26 letters in the alphabet.

At HOMER, we’re overjoyed to be working with the CHOP learning team to help grow young minds and brighten difficult days for the families that visit the hospital.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is the nation’s first hospital devoted exclusively to the care of children. Built on a foundation of delivering safe, high-quality, family-centered care, the Hospital has fostered medical discoveries and innovations that have improved pediatric healthcare and saved countless children’s lives. To learn more about CHOP, please visit https://www.chop.edu/.

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