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3 Small Discipline Habits You Can Train

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, March 30, 2016

While I’m not a fan of trying to be disciplined every moment of the day, there’s no doubt most of us could use a little more discipline in our lives.

We procrastinate, we waste time with online distractions, we go an entire day without getting done what we really wanted to get done.

How do we overcome this?

With training. Practice small, effective habits, and practice some more. Don’t expect yourself to be perfect at skills if you don’t repeatedly, deliberately practice.

If you want to get good at these skills, don’t worry about not being motivated. Just enjoy the joy of practicing something that you can get good at. It’s amazing when you’re learning something new, and that wonderful feeling is what can motivate you.

What should you practice? Three simple skills that can be turned into habits with repeated practice.

The habits that work for me are all about talking to myself:

1. Tell yourself, “This is what I’m going to do next.” Instead of having a long to-do list of things you want to do today, have just one thing you want to do right now. Instead of saying you’re going to do this important task sometime, say you’re going to do it right now. Instead of allowing yourself to randomly open websites that give you distraction, deliberately figure out what you want to work on next. Pick one thing. It doesn’t matter what it is, but try for things that are important in your life.

2. Ask yourself, “What is the smallest step I can do?” Most of us look at something on our (mental or digital or paper) list and subconsciously think, “That’s too hard.” So we put it off. But that’s because we’re thinking about an entire project, which has many tasks. You can’t do a project right now, you can only do a task. Instead of saying, “I’m going to write that paper that’s due,” you should say, “I’m going to write 3 things in the outline of the paper.” If the smallest task stills seems too hard, say you’re just going to do 5 minutes of that small task right now. Or just two minutes. Make it ridiculously easy.

3. Ask yourself, “What is stopping me from focusing on that small step?” Even if you figured out a task to focus on, and you’ve broken it into the smallest step, there will still be distractions or resistance. If you’re not immediately doing the smallest step of the next task, ask yourself why. What’s stopping you? Can you resolve this issue, close all browser tabs, shut off your phone, ask co-workers or roommates or family members to give you 30 minutes of focused time? Can you ask for help, get some accountability? The easiest solution is usually to close all distractions. Then get moving on the smallest step.

Once you’ve done that, repeat this process two more times, taking a few minutes’ break between each round. Then take 20 minutes off as a reward. That’s your training session. If you can do several training sessions a day, you’ll get good at this in no time. And as you get good, the cost of doing anything will begin to seem miniscule.


Reprinted with permission from http://zenhabits.net/ (public domain).

Leo Babauta is the creator and writer for Zen Habits. He’s married with six kids and lives in San Francisco (previously on Guam). Leo is a writer and a runner and a vegan.

Tags:  health 

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Member Musings: Peanut Butter Smoothie

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, March 30, 2016
I stumbled upon this amazing concoction one day almost by accident. I love to put together strange combinations in the kitchen, but who would have thought about nutritional yeast in a smoothie?

Years ago I discovered the secret of mixing nutritional yeast with peanut butter when making homemade peanut butter cups. Apparently the nutritional yeast gives the peanut butter a more full flavor.

So, why not try it in your morning smoothie? It might not be everyone’s, um, cup of tea — but I think it works! Go ahead and see for yourself.

Ingredients:
1 cup almond milk (or coconut milk, or whatever milk you like)
1 banana
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
½ – ¼ C peanuts (or about 2 T peanut butter, depending on what your blender can handle)
ice – as much (or as little) as you like
½ tsp tumeric
1 Tbs maple syrup (optional)

Place all ingredients in the blender and mix until smooth. Pour into a cup and enjoy!


Mama B

PAMP gladly accepts member blog submissions, including anecdotes, advice, confessions, recipes, outing suggestions and more! Want to join in the fun? Submit your own musings.

Tags:  food 

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Member Musings: Why I Said Bye-Bye to the Scales

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Guess what? It’s my anniversary. Not your typical anniversary though. It’s been ONE year since I got on my scales (to measure weight) and felt my stomach hit the floor. A feeling I was ready to wave bye-bye to — for good.

For me it does not create a positive body image. It highlighted things I didn’t accept about myself. We all have our body types, our DNA, our genetics – the things that make us unique. We are what we are.

I am blessed with this body, the three children it’s carried, the breath is gives me to go on about life and build cherished memories. And I’ll never weigh 130 pounds, unless I ate air for my three meals a day!

The final straw was on a trip to Australia for 5 weeks last summer. I simply adore Australian food, and any overseas expat will tell you that they totally gorge on all the scrumptious things they miss being overseas – the bakeries, the cheeses, the Cadbury’s chocolate made in Australia. Not to mention the consumption of wine at the constant catch up’s with loved ones. I also didn’t have access to my usual exercise routine, so working off that gorgeous food went to the wayside.

I got home and right back into my lifestyle program, as I have done for seven years now and have embedded into my life. I even joined a boot camp on Groupon. Moving along, I worked my butt off for about 2 weeks and got on those scales. It took me days to psych myself up. I had put on 4 pounds. My heart sunk, tears streamed out of my eyes and I sounded so utterly pathetic to myself. I called my husband in tears. He thought something severely catastrophic must have happened to call him in such a panic. “I put on 4 pounds.” It sounded like such a first world problem. And that’s when I realized it was out of control.

There are times in life where we have an unhealthy relationship with something or someone, and you need to detach yourself from that thing or person. That was the scales for me. It’s not healthy for me, it brings me down, it detracts from the awesomeness in my life.

A year later, and it’s been the best darn year in respect to my body image. I really want to celebrate myself, have fun with myself, highlight what I love about my body. Celebrate my delicious pear shape. I started to accept the things I could not change. I’m not a lover of my legs but instead of shaming that, I celebrate ways I can elongate them, wear what’s right for my body type.

This summer I put a photo of myself on Instagram in my swimsuit. Gasp. I never would have done that in a million years before. I found myself a great bikini for the summer that let me have some fun with a season trend (high-waisted bikinis) and suited my body type. I’m loving life!

So here we are, a year later.

On my anniversary.

And a weight has been lifted from my shoulders — pardon the pun!

I appreciate everyone is unique and the scales won’t bring about panic for others that it did me. And I also appreciate that others have a weight loss journey that totally requires scales. My opinion is unique to me and not a reflection on what I think others should do.

It is important for me to maintain my weight. Diabetes is a big factor in my family so I am still very conscious to take care of myself in the present, to avoid future problems. I live by some general routines that are enough for me. I drink mainly water (the rare diet soda), a large portion of my diet are fruit and vegetables, I make sure I get my 8 hours sleep in at night, I go the gym 4 times a week as well as daily habits of walking and biking with the kids. And I go by my clothes. If my skinny jeans are feeling a little tight, I ramp things up a bit and it all evens out again. As well, for women, there are so many factors that can play with the scales such as your period, hormones, water retention etc.


I am an Australian Mum to three little ones based in Palo Alto. As well as having my fashion blog where I share my inspirations with others, I am a Wardrobe Stylist for all women on any budget. Find out more about me at www.yummomummo.com.

PAMP gladly accepts member blog submissions, including anecdotes, advice, confessions, recipes, outing suggestions and more! Want to join in the fun? Submit your own musings.

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Membership Tips – Discounts & Promotions!

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, March 30, 2016
As a PAMP member, you know you have access to fun events and informative online forums. But did you know that you also have access to discounts from over 60 businesses?

PAMP members receive discountsand other promotional offers from local businesses through our Business Discount Program. We currently have over 60 businesses participating in the program. Each of these businesses provides a unique offer for PAMP members — and that offer is good for 12 months. Offers range from 10-25% off a purchase to a free week or month of membership/service or a free consultation, or a $10-$20 gift card. These are all businesses that are local and cater to parents, and many of these businesses are also PAMP Sponsors who help to support our organization. Businesses range from fitness studios to photographers.

Here is a sample of some new businesses who recently joined the program:

Barn & Willow
Barn & Willow is a Menlo Park based Custom-Made Fashionable Home Decor Brand. PAMP members receive 10% off.

Violin and Viola Lessons
David Zimbalist of Speakeasy String Quartet, offers affordable and fun Violin and Viola lessons specializing in beginners. Lessons taught in your own home. PAMP members will receive their first lesson free and $5 off full price lessons.

VetPronto
VetPronto is an on-demand house call veterinary service for dogs and cats. that serves San Francisco, the Peninsula, and South Bay. They offer a $50 discount on veterinary house calls to PAMP members.

Plushcare
Plushcare is an online urgent care that allows parents to have phone or video visits with Stanford and UCSF trained pediatricians who can diagnose, treat and prescribe medications for common health problems without ever having to step out of your home. PAMP members receive a 20% discount off their first visit.

To view the full offer information from the above businesses and for a complete list of businesses participating in this program, visit the PAMP website, and click on the “Discounts” tab. You will find to the directory of businesses and offerings here. You can also search by category of business, or by a keyword (city, partial name, etc). To cash in on the discount, you can either use the code shown in the Discount article or you can show your PAMP membership card at the business itself. To print out a copy of your membership card, click on the “Members Only” tab on the top right menu of the PAMP website, enter the password, and you can print out your card (or download it to your phone as a pdf file). If you don’t know the password, send an email to “membership@pampclub.org” and our Membership Manager will get it to you.

Don’t see your favorite business listed? Mention the program to them the next time you shop! They can receive more information and join by emailing sponsor@pampclub.org.

Tags:  member tips 

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How Can Toddlers Use iPhones Appropriately?

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, March 30, 2016
One of the most hotly-debated topics amongst parents and pediatricians is screen time, or how much time children should be allowed to spend in front of a TV, phone or tablet. Study after study has shown that toddlers, especially those under the age of two, learn best through play, hands-on exploration and one-on-one interactions with parents, caregivers and peers. These experiences engage both the body and mind by promoting experimentation, problem solving and creative thinking. Yet in a world dominated by TVs, smartphones and tablets, screens are everywhere and trying to completely withhold them is impossible — especially when parents and teachers use them routinely.

While exposing your toddler to a television will not turn their developing minds into mush, we do advise following a few simple recommendations to maximize the benefits these technological wonders offer.

Participate with your toddler
Learning from TVs and screen time can be greatly enhanced when parents participate with their toddlers and create a social, interactive experience. We encourage parents to ask questions about the content and provide detailed descriptions of what they are seeing, similar to how one might read a book or play with a toy. The more parents, rather than the television, can drive the story, the more impactful the experience will be for the toddler. Furthermore, try to connect what children are learning in the television program with real world applications. For example, if the TV show or screen time is teaching them about counting or letters, have them practice these skills in everyday play and routines.

Make screen time deliberate and age-appropriate
Research has shown that background television interferes with children’s play and development. Exposure to content that is not age-appropriate, in particular, is associated with negative effects on toddler’s language and cognitive function. Toddlers end up spending too much energy trying to understand what is going on and overtaxing their brain. Try to limit adult-related programming to when the kids are asleep.

Avoid screen time before bedtime
Studies have shown that children with televisions in their room have increased difficulty sleeping. Furthermore, screen time should be limited, if possible, in the hour or two before bedtime. That time should be used to help toddlers unwind, whereas television tends to excite them.

Set a time limit
The amount of screen time allowed is a very personal decision. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two should not be exposed at all, while children over the age of two should be allowed only one to two hours per day. The decision must be made in the context of the child’s other activities; for example, children who are very active otherwise are at less risk of being too sedentary if given a certain amount of screen time per day whereas less active children would benefit from more physical activity and less passive time in front of a screen.

Choose content carefully
Many TV shows are extremely fast-paced and may impair a child’s ability to think and make decisions, as described above. The content of the shows our children watch should reflect their experiences in the world and should provide a context to which your toddler can relate and understand. Furthermore, on phones and tablets, select apps that require interaction and participation that increase learning.

Technology will increasingly become an integral part of our daily lives and can have a huge impact on your toddler, both positive and negative, depending how it is incorporated. By selecting appropriate content that is interactive and participatory, parents can create a highly educational environment in which their toddlers can thrive.

Dr David Kagan is a pediatrician and internal medicine specialist at Healthier, a text message-based service that sends you timely information about your child’s health and development. Ask any question and the clinical team responds within 24 hours, completely free. Enroll now for free by texting 650-458-4744 with signup code PAMP or visit Healthier.

Tags:  child development  technology 

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9 Situations In Which a 529 Plan May Not Make Sense

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, March 30, 2016

As a parent, you’ve probably by now heard the conventional wisdom: If your children plan on college (or you’re planning on college for them), a 529 college savings plan is a great way to save for tuition and expenses. In many states, contributions to 529 plans win you a tax deduction for state tax purposes, and the earnings are federal and state tax-free.

That’s the conventional wisdom—and it may be right in some cases. But changes in the investing environment and the high fees of some 529 plans have made two key alternatives, Coverdell plans and Roth IRAs, more attractive alternatives than they once were. A 529 plan can also affect your kids’ chances of receiving financial aid.

Here are 9 situations in which a 529 plan may not make sense:

1. High Fees Bug You
529 plans can be broadly grouped into two categories: prepaid tuition plans, which lock in tuition costs at particular colleges and universities, and college savings plans, which are more like tax-free savings accounts that can be used for a broad range of educational purposes. College savings plans often are sold through brokerages and offer a range of investment options within the tax-free accounts.

The SEC’s primer on 529 plans includes a good explanation of the fees, but the bottom line is that college savings plans sold through a broker may be loaded with commissions and fees,just like other investment products. You’ll have to do the math to figure out if the tax deductions outweigh the fees. Or you can look into prepaid tuition plans, which have lower fees and are easier to understand.

2. You Want Control Over the Investment Strategy
The IRS rules say that you can only adjust the investments in your 529 plan once a calendar year. That’s a significant downside in a volatile market. In addition, college savings plans often offer a fairly limited selection of investment options.

3. You Can Only Save a Few Thousand Dollars a Year
Along with the state tax deductions on the contributions, another big attraction of 529 plans is that there is no annual limit on the amount you can contribute. If you don’t have that much money to put aside, a 529 plan loses some of its appeal. Two other savings vehicles, Roth IRAs and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts offer powerful tax advantages, and more spending flexibility. You can save $2,000 a year in a Coverdell, and use it for pre-college education costs as well as that big college tuition bill, and $5,000 or $6,000 annually in a Roth IRA depending on whether you’re younger or older than 50.

4. If You Want to Maximize Your Child’s Financial Aid
One of the downsides of a 529 plan is that it, if it is owned by the student, it counts as an available asset when the federal government and individual schools calculate financial aid. This is a situation where using a Roth IRA also makes sense because parent-owned retirement assets are entirely ignored by financial aid calculations.

5. If Your Child is Independent or Married
Money in a 529 plan owned by the student is counted as a parental asset if the student is considered a dependent of her parent for tax purposes. But if the student has declared independence or is no longer a dependent for other reasons, the 529 plan is counted as her own asset. Any asset the student owns can seriously affect financial aid. Some schools will consider students to be independent if they are married as well.

A student who has decided to save her 529 assets for graduate school, or who is going back to school later in life, might be shocked to find out how much it will negatively impact her financial aid eligibility. In other words, if you want to help fund the education of an independent student, contributing to her 529 could actually hurt more than help if she’d otherwise qualify for substantial aid.

6. If You Have More Than One Child
Because beneficiaries can be easily changed on 529 accounts, most schools will count the value of all 529 accounts within the family as being for the benefit of the student applying for aid. If you have multiple children who each have their own 529, the balances of all the 529 accounts will be considered as parental assets.

You may want to consider having grandparents establish 529 accounts for the benefit of younger children, or transfer ownership to them if the transfer of plan assets won’t incur gift taxes. You’ll only want to do this, however, if you have a tight relationship with grandparents and trust them with your children’s education money.

You can alternatively invest in assets not counted in financial aid calculations, such as increasing principal payments on your mortgage or investing in an insurance policy for the benefit of your child. This helps to avoid bumping up 529 balances and penalizing the child who is currently seeking financial aid.

7. If College Is Coming Soon
529 plans are intended to be long-term investments that allow funds to grow and be withdrawn tax-free when used for education. If you open a 529 account just as your child enters college, you forego many of these tax advantages since the account won’t have much time to produce earnings. You’ll also have limited your options both in terms of investment choices and what you can use future earnings on.

For example, if your child decides to join the ROTC or gets a merit-based scholarship halfway through school, you won’t be able to withdraw earnings for something else without a penalty being assessed. Further, investment options in a 529 plan are heavy on long-term investments like stocks and mutual funds, but have limited offerings in the way of short-term investments like money markets and CDs.

8. If You Live in a “No Income Tax” State Or A “No Deduction” State
If you live in a state that doesn’t assess income taxes, or a state that doesn’t currently allow deductions for 529 contributions, you won’t get that nice tax break for contributing to your child’s 529. For more information, see this list of states that allow deductions. California currently does not offer a deduction from state income taxes for contributions to any 529 plan.

9. If Your Child Is Planning on an Alternative Education
Not every child has their sights set on college. For example, they may prefer to develop skill at a trade for which traditional education would be inappropriate. Withdrawing money from a 529 account without spending it at a qualified educational institution can mean incurring a 10% penalty, plus paying income tax on the earnings. That can add up to a significant amount, especially if you’ve invested over a long period of time.

If you want to allow for flexibility and not create a “college or bust” situation, complement a 529 plan with other savings vehicles, such as a Roth IRA and ordinary brokerage accounts with long-term investments. In this way, if college costs are less than expected or non-existent, or if an alternative education needs to be funded, you won’t need to worry about incurring a penalty for withdrawing 529 funds for “non-educational” purposes.

529 plans are helpful and appropriate in many situations. But in some cases like those detailed above, there are better ways to invest that don’t reduce financial aid, limit investment flexibility, or result in high fees and taxes based on tax calculators and estimators. Consider your situation and goals to best determine which approach makes sense for you and your family.

Kira Botkin contributes to the Money Crashers personal finance blog and specializes in financial topics like saving for retirement, finding commonly overlooked personal tax deductions, living a frugal lifestyle, and getting out of debt. A version of this article appeared on The Upfront Blog, produced by Weathfront; The Upfront Blog answers questions from investors about finance and investing. Questions for the blog can be addressed to Editor Betsy MacBride.

Tags:  finances 

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Late to School . . . Again

Posted By Communications Manager, Friday, March 25, 2016
I laughed at a first grader who knocked over a row of bikes this morning.

She was late to school, walking her bike the last few steps before parking it in front of the principal’s office. “Come ON!” her mom begged. “The bell just rang!” Their footsteps tapped along the sidewalk in a familiar, choreographed dance. I was on the last eight-count of my own uncoordinated morning performance, having nudged and prodded and rushed my five year old into his kindergarten class just seconds before.

I had already walked past Little Miss Tardy when I heard the crash. Caught up in the rush of the morning, she had flung her bike into the carefully arranged line of bright colored handlebars and carefully hung Elsa helmets. They fell like dominos, and when the last bike landed (at the foot of someone else’s dad, who was just as surprised as Little Miss Tardy was), I started laughing.

I laughed.

Not to embarrass her (though I may have infuriated her mom), but because mornings suck. I feel ya, six-year-old ponytailed sister. If I had a bike and an Elsa helmet, you could be damn sure I’d throw them into the bike rack and hope they fell over, too. That would be my early morning “F-you” to a world that moves too fast, expects too much and doesn’t accommodate for five year old boys who say “I just need to stretch my body a little bit moooooore…..oh wait, look at this Lego ship!” every.damn.morning. Oh wait. That’s my house.

Every single morning my husband and I fight over the (completely ineffective) morning routine that we have developed. “We HAVE to figure out a better plan,” I hiss at him as I yank Max’s shirt over his head and steer him toward the bathroom to brush his teeth. We’ve seen a parenting coach. “You need to find what motivates him,” she sang in that “this is super simple if you only pay attention” voice that all experts seem to have.

So we tried.

There should be a law against sticker charts in the morning. Five year olds don’t give a rip about sticker charts when they are determined to squeeze every last ever-loving drop of goopy toothpaste out of the tube and onto their toothbrush. You know what else there should be a law against? The clock. Having to be anywhere at a decent hour when you are in charge of small humans. Potty, underpants, pants, shirt, socks, I can’t find my shoes. Brush teeth too much toothpaste wrong color toothpaste spit your water all over the counter. Comb hair yell that it hurts smoosh it back because MOM THAT’S HOW I LIKE IT. PJ’s in the hamper please not on the floor in the hamper. Make breakfast argue about breakfast spill breakfast make another breakfast yell something about being hungry eat breakfast whine about breakfast yell something else about refusing to eat breakfast clean breakfast off of face. Wash hands. Make lunch (Really. Who does this the night before? No one.) Fill water bottle. Throw everything in backpack. And that’s just for ONE of the children.

Every morning we screw this up. The kids move like the sap that crawls down tree branches in the winter. I yell like the crazy mom at the park who is terrified that her kid is about to fall off of the play structure. Frantic chaos. And that’s on days that I don’t even shower. Or put makeup on. Every morning we are out of time. Out of patience. Out of motivational ideas worthy of the pages of glossy parenting magazines. I don’t have a bike to throw, but I’d toss my cup of coffee at something if I didn’t need it so much.

I get that we are trying to raise our kids to be good citizens. Worker bees. Responsible for their own time management. Accountable. Aware that their behavior affects the world around them.

There are hundreds of articles that have been written about how to do that. This is not one of them. This article is an invitation to the “Glad You Made It” club.

Mornings suck. They suck at my house, and they suck at yours. So parking lot attendant lady, instead of clucking your tongue and yelling at us that “The BELL just rang! Hurry! Hurry!” when we arrive at school, from now on I’d like you to take a different approach.

On behalf of tired, frustrated, frazzled parents everywhere, I’d like for you to greet us with “Good morning! I’m glad you made it!”

“I’m glad you made it” when you see the mom with a wet ponytail dragging the baby out of his carseat and grabbing her kindergartner’s hand in the parking lot. “I’m glad you made it” when the first grader throws her bike into the rack because mornings are so frustrating. “I’m glad you made it” when a five year old with bed head slides through the classroom doorway at 8:34 am. “I’m glad you made it. I see how hard you’re trying. I know that you are learning to move through this world, and that most of the time you don’t do it quickly enough. We will learn together.”

We have all the time in the world to berate ourselves for how quickly the minutes pass. When we tuck our children in at night, and their bodies are finally calm and still. We count the seconds between breaths, and count the books before their eyes close, and count the minutes before they are asleep and we can disappear into the sofa and Netflix and a glass of wine. We count the hours that they sleep until waking up again, count the years that have passed that we can never get back, count the days that we are grateful for and guilty of and hoping will never end.

Don’t rush us. Not yet.

Our children will spend the rest of their lives feeling responsible, and berating themselves for not being fast enough. We know this better than anyone. Mornings suck. If I could play with Legos on my way to the bathroom, or throw my bike into the rack in front of the principal’s office, I would.

Sometimes we do get points just for showing up. So tomorrow, when your daughter drops her backpack in a puddle and my son stops to pick up every stick on the playground, I’m going to catch your eye and laugh with you. We can hurry later. This morning, I’m glad you made it.

Reprinted with permission from http://mamabythebay.com/

Kim Simon blogs at MamabytheBay. She’s mom to two boys, which means that the Legos have won. Being a mom has taught her the importance of slowing down, jumping in and trusting her instincts.

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Learning Styles – Why it’s Important to Know How Your Child Learns

Posted By Communications Manager, Friday, March 25, 2016
Math has traditionally been taught through verbal and written methods. The problem is that in a typical classroom, there are more students that are visual rather than verbal learners. This misalignment in the method of teaching math can lead to low grades and frustration for students.

Everyone has a different learning style
Classrooms are composed of diverse students with many talents and passions. Student behaviors, like doodling, tell us about a child’s preferred learning styles. There is no single theory on learning styles. However, knowing one’s preference can guide the way we learn as we tend to express and remember experiences, information, and emotions.

The problem is that the American educational system is biased towards linguistic and mathematical modes of instruction and assessment. The shocking part is that in the average American classroom more than half the students are visual learners. Too often a child’s learning style is never discovered. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Jason’s story
To give you an example of how different learning styles can affect a child’s ability to understand math, let’s look at Jason’s story. Jason is 9 years old and has always struggled with math class. He procrastinates with his math homework and his teacher has voiced her concern that he doesn’t pay attention in class. Looking for answers, his parents checked his math notebook and found it full of drawings with barely any equations. His math notebook looked more like an art class notebook.

Jason’s parents scolded him for drawing by telling him to, “work on his math homework, and to stop doodling.”

Apparently this didn’t work. His grades in math didn’t improve and his parents thought, “Maybe he just doesn’t have a talent for math.”

One day, the breakthrough came. Jason’s parents sat down with him to help with math homework. They noticed that he was drawing and counting at the same time – he was using a visual way of learning mathematical concepts. Jason’s parents built on this and cut shapes out of cardboard. Fractions, decimals and percentages started making sense to Jason once he could see them right in front of him.

What Jason and his parents stumbled upon are math manipulatives. Instead of pencil and paper, math manipulatives consist of colorful cubes and shapes specifically designed to teach math to people who learn visually.

Do you know your child’s learning style?
If you find your child struggling to complete his or her math and writing homework, explore multiple ways of expression. Math and writing can be exciting if the students connect with the lesson with their learning style. Here are 3 activities to try.

Observe your child as they do their homework.
Do they procrastinate and doodle like Jason? If they do, they might be visual learners.
Use math manipulatives. These can be purchased online or made from scratch at home. Use Play-doh or cut and color cardboard shapes.
Solve math problems by grouping objects according to color, size, or shape. The objects will visualize numbers through sets. Touching objects connects kinesthetic learners to the math problem.

Gigi Carunungan is the co-Founder and Chief Learning Architect of Young Outliers, a design entrepreneur summer camp for children in Palo Alto.

Tags:  education 

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5 Fashionable Tips for Moms

Posted By Communications Manager, Friday, March 25, 2016

The mornings can be rough as we attempt to get lunches made, kids dressed, coffee down our throats, teeth brushed, back packs on, etc. But what about us? Don’t forget about us Moms/Mums!

Here are five super easy tips to help you rock it out the door. Tips to help you feeling and looking good — from the inside out.

 

1. Lipstick
I have always believed that lipstick is like a magic wand. It can truly turn any frown upside down. A shot of color, however bold or subtle you desire, can perk you up – it’s like a shot of espresso. As winter comes along, your moisturized lips will thank you. Muah.

2. Celebrity sunglasses
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to make eye contact until I’ve had a chance to grab my latte on the way home from my school run. So, along with my signature red lips, celebrity sunglasses are a great touch. Hide yesterday’s make-up, the rough night with the baby, the late night watching House of Cards. No one will be the wiser!

3. A funky tracksuit

An outfit you can throw on in a New York minute should be a staple in any wardrobe. A tracksuit allows you to layer as we transition from fall to winter, and back into spring.


4. Fruit-infused water bottle

You will thank yourself later if you begin water intake from the moment your feet hit the floor. Your system will kick-start with the burst of fruity vitamins. Have this ready the night before and waiting in the kitchen for you upon rising. (Tip: I use a straw throughout the day and it really makes difference in the amount of water I drink).

5. Bike or walk to school
It’s a reat chance to hit two birds with one stone. By the time you get back from the school run, you’ve got some air in your lungs and will be feeling more pumped to get into your day.

I hope these 5 tips will have you feeling more ready to take on the crazy school mornings. If we feel good on the inside, it will show on the outside.

Melissa Menzies is a Australian Mum to three young ones and lives in Palo Alto. Her fashion blog YummoMummo states that style and fashion should be affordable and accessible to anyone and that every woman deserves to feel great and honor herself. 

Tags:  fashion 

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Tips for Air Travel with Small Children

Posted By Communications Manager, Friday, March 25, 2016
Updated: Friday, March 25, 2016
Air travel with young children isn’t always easy, and some of the struggles start before you board the plane. I hope these simple tips can help you manage your child and gear before, during and after you board the airplane and make the entire air travel experience more pleasant.

If possible, aim for direct flights so that you can avoid changing planes. If you have to make a change, avoid short layovers that give you too little time to get from gate to gate, and avoid long layovers that require lots of idle time in airports.

If your child falls asleep easily and stays asleep, try scheduling travel during your child’s nap or sleep times. If you have a finicky sleeper, on the other hand, avoid traveling during usual sleep times, as your baby may just stay fussy and awake.

There’s a lot of stress when packing for flying, but be reassured that babies thrive in a new environment. Everything will be new on the airplane, and they’ll most likely be so busy checking out all the new faces and scenes that you won’t have as much entertaining to do as you expect. Ask for the bulkhead (front row) and request a bassinet.

Toddlers will be more mobile, so prepare for frequent trips to the bathroom and if you can, walking up and down the aisles whenever available. The bulkhead doesn’t work as well for toddlers who like pulling things out of the seat in front. Without under-seat space or seat pocket, you’ll have to store all your toys and supplies in the overhead compartment. Also, in the bulkhead, the food tray pops up from the armrest, effectively trapping you in your seat when your table is laden with food. A window seat may give you a little more wiggle room. Not as easy to get to the aisle, but they can lean up against the window instead of another passenger! If you have a choice of seats, sit near other moms and children. The moms will be sympathetic and may even help you out and the children can entertain each other.

Both babies and toddlers require you to have your bag of tricks ready, just in case!

Packing
The right carry-on bag can be a lifesaver. Make sure that your bag is easy to lift or roll, and that it falls within the airline’s size limitations. Consider a large backpack. It is easy to carry when your arms are otherwise occupied, and holds diapers, snacks, boarding pass, identification and even a spare outfit for baby. Most importantly, a backpack holds plenty of baby gear and still meets most airline requirements for carry-on baggage size. Pack an organized bag that carries:

New toys that require time to unwrap or open and rattles, sticky notes, sticky books, plastic animals, cars, or dolls, playing cards (Go Fish or other games that feature interesting cards) , laptop with kid music or books on tape, books with lift-a-flap, plastic necklaces are fun for placing them on the head and off again. If you’re strapped for something new, let Baby unload the diaper bag, or the seat pocket in front of you for a while. Destroying that free, in-flight magazine is a great activity.

Bring Cheerios, lollipop, crackers or other finger foods that your baby can practice picking up and lifting to her mouth. The TSA allows for milk and formula. Don’t forget bottles, sippy cup, pacifiers and wet wipes.

Decide whether you are taking a light weight or regular stroller. If you opt to take your regular stroller, you can usually check it at the gate or right at the door of the airplane. Alternatively, a sling or soft-pack carrier can be very helpful if your child still likes to be carried and is light enough for you to carry this way for long walks through the airport.

Should you bring your car seat? If you opt for less stuff, you can rent a car seat when you pick up a car rental. If staying with family, you may choose to bring it with you.

Before and During Takeoff
Avoid feeding your little one just prior to boarding. Save food and drink for when you’re on the airplane, as these carry great entertainment value. Try to plan it so that you can nurse during these altitude shifts. It helps keep the ears popped and reduce any ear pain your baby may have. Plus Baby might nap for half the trip.

On the Plane
Change your child’s diaper before boarding the plane.

For crawlers or walkers, it’ll be a harder job to keep them confined. Standing in your lap and bouncing helps, as does taking some strolls through the airplane cabin and checking out the bathroom. You can set a blanket on the minimal floor space in front of you and let your toddler sit down or practice standing down there. Don’t be afraid to walk up and down the aisle if need be, just make sure it’s a safe time to do so.

Keep calm. The more agitated and frustrated you become with your baby’s crying, the more your child could continue to cry. If you need to, go to the bathroom and allow them to cry it out.

De-boarding the Plane
Unless you have to, don’t rush off the plane. Let your child play until most of the passengers have disembarked. This will prevent you from standing in the slow-moving line in the aisle while carrying an armload of luggage and trying to keep your baby happy.

Hope these tips help! And happy travels!

Janada Clark MA is a parent educator and parent coach. She teaches Love & Logic throughout our community. She is also a Toddler and Baby Instructor at DayOne Baby in Palo Alto.

Tags:  travel 

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