Rants, Raves, Suburban, Teacher

10 Simple Things You Can Do To Help Your Child Get a Better Report Card (and lead a happier life)

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It’s that most wonderful time of the year…report card time!

I jest, of course. Report card time is often a stressful time for children, teachers, and parents alike.

After report cards come home, the question parents most often ask is, “What can I do at home to help my child?”

They think the answer is going to be complicated and involve expensive tutoring support. And sometimes these things are necessary.

But in many cases, there are some simple (free) things you can do at home that will make a positive difference in the classroom. They aren’t based on rocket science and they’ve been proven time and time again by people way smarter than me (people like scientists and psychologists).  They don’t just help kids get better grades…they help them to become healthier, happier people. And in the end, that’s really what we want, isn’t it?

Keep in mind that these suggestions are designed for parents of elementary school children. Once your child hits middle school, you want to have good habits and attitudes ingrained.

  1. Make sure your child gets enough sleep. Get the TV and the game system out of their bedroom. If they have a phone, have them turn it off and leave it in the kitchen at bedtime. You want your child to have a restful sleep so they are ready to learn once they get to school. Kids can’t focus on learning when they are tired.
  2. Get your child to school on time. It’s disruptive to everyone when kids arrive late. And it’s often the same kids who arrive late every day. I get it. You’re saying, “Oh, but it’s just so hard to get out the door on time.” Uh, yes, it can be. But you need to make it a priority. By consistently allowing your  child to be late, you are teaching them that punctuality is not important when it is.
  3. Help your child with personal hygiene issues. Check them out before they leave the house. (I often do the sniff test with my kids.) Body odor, dirty clothes, bad breath, basically anything that involves bad smells, is going to make your kid a social pariah and a target for bullies.
  4. Teach your child that everyone has strengths and challenges. Your child may be good at math but struggle with reading or vice versa or both. Make sure they know that this in no way measures their worth as a human being or anyone else’s worth, for that matter.
  5. On that note, make sure your child understands that neither their self-worth and nor your love is tied to a grade on their report card. Remember: no one will be checking their grade four math mark when they are applying for college or their first job.
  6. Teach your children that popularity comes with both power and responsibility. If your child has been blessed with a leader-like personality, help her to use this power for good, not for evil.
  7. Keep an eye on what your child hears, sees and reads. There is a reason movies and video games have ratings. Movies that are rated R are not for children. Video games that are rated mature are not for children. Grow a spine and say no.
  8. Sexy lingerie is not for little girls, it’s for grown women. Even though they make thongs and lacy bras for the pre-teen set doesn’t mean you have to buy them. It’s not cute…it’s wrong. Same goes for Playboy t-shirts and sweatpants that have “Juicy” written across the butt. If she begs, see #8 for advice.
  9. Healthy food makes for healthy minds and bodies. If your child is coming to school already jacked up on a sugar-fueled breakfast (or worse, no breakfast) we are already at a disadvantage.
  10. Finally, don’t trash your child’s teacher in front of your child. The fact is, unless you can negotiate a class change, your child and his teacher will be spending more daytime hours together than the two of you. Be part of a team – your child’s team.

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Memoir, Pop Culture, Princess, Raves, Suburban

Dallas vs. Dukes – A Friday Night Dilemma

dallasthe-dukes-of-hazzard

Larry Hagman died last week.  He was 81 and, by all accounts, was as nice a person as his alter-ego, J.R. Ewing, was nasty.

Coincidentally, also last week, my dad bought a new TV to replace the old one he had in his basement. Now, when I say old, I don’t mean 10 years old, I mean 1975 old! This was the very first color TV our family ever owned. We got it when I was in junior high. It only got the first 12 channels because there were only 12 buttons next to the screen. (You had to get your butt up off the couch if you wanted to change the channel.) But that was OK if you were living in New Brunswick in the 1970’s, because we only got two channels.

Every Friday night, my family (Mom, Dad, little bro, the beagle and me) would gather in our tiny family room to watch TV. We would break open the one bag of chips and the one bottle of pop. It was my mother’s job to divide the chips evenly into 4 plastic bowls – one for each of us. We couldn’t just share a bowl. That was crazy talk. And we’d each have a small glass of pop. I think we shared the same amount of pop among the four of us that I got at the movie theatre the other night for myself. (Hellooooo? people? When did we forget about portion size?)

Like I said, we only got two channels and for some reason unknown to anyone with a clue, the great programming gods of the day decided to put the two most popular shows of the time on opposite each other. So, every Friday night we had a dilemma.

Dukes or Dallas?

Usually we opted for fairness and equality. One week Dukes, one week Dallas. But remember, this was before DVRs, YouTube and even VCRs. If you missed a show, you missed it, unless somehow you were lucky enough to catch a repeat of the show months later and by then it didn’t matter. You already knew what happened.

Mom and I were already fans of Dallas, thanks to the casting of Patrick Duffy – the Man from Atlantis. (He was so cute with those little webbed feet.)

the_man_from_atlantis-show

My brother and father were big fans of the Duke boys and their crazy uncle, the evil Boss Hogg and, of course, Daisy Duke in her little jean shorts. (The dog was good either way. She was just happy to be inside, on the couch, with her peeps.)

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(Sorry guys, no short shorts, but at least you can see the car!)

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t hate it when we had to watch D.O.H. Them Duke boys was awful cute and the show was funny, in a hillbilly sort of way. They were the original Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo family.

But I loved Dallas. I loved the theme music and the fact that everyone was so rich and beautiful. J.R. was the man you loved to hate. He said the most vile things with a smile on his face. And he was funny – wickedly funny. When J.R. was shot in Season 9, we spent months waiting and debating with the rest of the world about Who Shot J.R.?  On November 21, 1980 we gathered in our little family with our chips and pop and watched, with the 350 million other people who tuned in, to see who the culprit was. (In case you were living in a cave during that time, it was his mistress, Kristen. No wonder. He was really, really mean to her.)

Dallas started when I was 12, a dorky girl with a pageboy boy haircut, and wrapped it’s finally episode when I was 25, a married woman juggling a job, a husband and a house full of pets. Dallas was a part of my growing up.

jr ewing

“I know what I want on JR’s tombstone,” Hagman once said. “It should say: ‘Here lies upright citizen JR Ewing. This is the only deal he ever lost.'”

Rest in Peace, J.R.

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If you only had two channels, which would you have picked? (Remember: you’re only 12. You got nothin’ else to do.)

Dukes of Hazzard opening sequence: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxD0PqVlt5Q

The best of J.R. If you were a fan of Dallas or you just like funny stuff, check this out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZV3365a7Ew&feature=related