How to be THAT parent {with help from Volunteerspot!}

volunteerspot promo

Last year my oldest went off to kindergarten and I didn’t have nearly as much time to volunteer in his class as I’d hoped. Parents are busy but kids and teachers need us to be involved. Children get more out of school when there are deep school to home connections. Volunteerspot works hard to make those connections easier than ever to make.

I was thrilled to hear about Volunteerspot’s free online signup sheets and scheduler to make organizing activities easier and faster for everyone. When they asked me to help promote their amazing back to school sweepstakes I was happy to jump on board.

volunteer at your child's school with volunteerspot

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Before we get to the rad sweepstakes let me share my 10 tips to be a great and involved parent this year.

  • Fill out your calendar NOW. Add items as they are emailed and sent home in notices but don’t forget the main calendar from the school district. That mid winter break in February won’t sneak up on you if you take the time to add it to the calendar now.
  • Find time to block off for each child’s class. This might be twice a year or twice a week but being involved is much easier if you have set time aside.
  • If you are allowed to bake, cook or bring snacks make sure you have an updated list of food restrictions and allergies before you even think about what to make or bring in. Let’s all make it easier on families with restrictions by limiting how many times kids need to be excluded or put in potentially dangerous situations.
  • Label everything. EVERYTHING with your kids’ names. That way when your kids lose something ( and they will ) it’s easier to get it back.
  • If you can don’t just send gifts to your child’s classroom teacher, send them to specialists, office staff, bus drivers… and simple thanks are just as much a gift as any expensive item. This doesn’t have to cost you a cent.
  • Teachers are busy so be proactive. Ask if you can come in , take home busy work or ask to volunteer for a different part of the school like the library or at recess. You may not get the most glamorous job but you will be involved, present, and helping.
  • If your child takes the bus to and from school try to pick them up from time to time as a treat and for some facetime at school. It’s not a time for a full on conference but a quick hello and simple offer of help or thanks can make a big impact.
  • Don’t for once think that money is more important than time. Give what you can to your child’s school in minutes, hours, dollars or cents. Just get involved.
  • Get organized and organize other parents with Volunteerspot – better yet win $1500 for your school !!

Volunteerspot

How to Enter to Win (You can do one of these, or all.)

1. Use VolunteerSpot during August to Take the Pledge to volunteer for your school. Don’t worry if you don’t have a specific activity to sign up for yet; just make the commitment to help out with one thing this school year.

Just be sure to include your school’s name when prompted during the easy registration process.

2. Use VolunteerSpot’s FREE online sign up sheets during August* to organize the parent volunteers for any school activity: back-to-school events, classroom helpers, carnivals, book fairs, hospitality teams & potlucks, concessions – any activity that involves multiple volunteers will be easier to manage with online sign ups and scheduling.

3. If you are a TEACHER, we have a special contest just for you. So be sure to check out the Teachers Win with VolunteerSpot sweeps here too.

How to Get More Chances for Your School to Win

Invite your neighborhood friends and fellow parents to use VolunteeerSpot this August too. Every new Pledge and new activity organized in VolunteerSpot.com counts as an entry for your school, so the more people you can get to sign up, the more entries to win $1,500 your school will get.

Post it on Facebook, or even better, email your whole class and ask them to take the pledge too. You might even remind people to take the pledge when you see them on the first day of school. Isn’t it worth it for the chance to win $1,500 bucks for your school?

One Last Awesome Idea

Send the link to this page (http://vols.pt/GSVOL) to the person you know who is most involved with your school’s parent/school organization. That way, even if you don’t need to organize an activity with VolunteerSpot right now, you can still help someone else out AND help your school win.

The Rules

You can read the official rules here.

Here is an easy-to-read summary:

  • 3 schools will be chosen at random to win. Each will receive a $1,500 grant from VolunteerSpot for their designated school’s parent-teacher organization.
  • You must be at least 18 years old to enter for your school.
  • You must reside in the United States. (We know, we know, but international sweepstakes laws are just too complex for us to handle. We are sorry!)
  • The following uses of VolunteerSpot count as entries: registering and school organizer or teacher/educator VolunteerSpot account (it’s free!), setting up an activity, signing up for an activity someone else has set up, and pledging to volunteer.

Deadline EXTENDED! 

Thousands of parents have already taken the pledge to volunteer this year (thank you!), but with many schools just heading back after Labor Day, some have asked for a little more time to GET MORE ENTRIES for their school. So we have officially extended the deadline to enter for TWO more weeks, until September 15th, 2013

If you’ve already entered, now is your chance to get on the horn (or email, or Facebook) and remind your friends to take the pledge too. It only takes a few minutes to help your school win. 

And if you haven’t taken the pledge yet, pledge now.

 This post is sponsored by Volunteerspot.

Simple Ways To Get Your Child Ready For School

5 ways to get your kids ready for school I am a staunch believer that kids NEED time off. They need time to dig in the dirt for no reason other than digging in the dirt but I get asked year after year to put together a list of things parents can do to get their kids ready for preschool and kindergarten. These five things are the things I would tell my own friends they should do to get their kids ready to go to or go back to school. So I am sharing it with you. Getting kids ready doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive but we do need to take time to prepare our kids.  This is just the tip of the iceberg if you want a much more in depth look at what kids really need check out my dear friend Deborah J. Stewart’s new book Ready For Kindergarten.

This post contains affiliate links.

1. Read!

back to school

Reading doesn’t only help teach your child to read it also works on many of the other things on this list. Listening and taking turns are two obvious lessons children can learn while reading with a parent but what I love most is that reading a book can often open up a dialogue. This is so important. Opening up a dialogue like this lets kids express worries and other challenges they are facing. Try books about school to get your child to open up about how they are feeling and their needs regarding going to or back to school. Further down are more book suggestions for tougher issues like anxiety, bullying and standing up for yourself. For older children reading over the summer is imperative but if you have let it slide jump back on the reading train now so your child is ready to go back to the class with the same ability they left with.

Starting Preschool For The First Time

Kindergarten

General School Books

For the full reviews of these and more books check out our Book Section.

2. Practice Listening.

5 ways to get your child ready for preschool

If your child isn’t used to a group setting or has been out of it since the school year ended practicing listening is a great idea. It can be very challenging for young kids to wait their turn to speak especially when excited and sometimes it doesn’t matter how many times we reminded them their impulse control is just not there yet. Work on listening in fun playful ways.

 

3. Practice self reliance.

5 easy ways parents can get their kids ready for school

Open yogurt tubes, zip jackets, tie shoes etc… a good rule of thumb is to only send your kids with things they can manage themselves. Teachers are happy to help but whenever a teacher is helping a child zip a coat, tie shoes etc… that might be time away from teaching. Multiply that by 10, 15, 20 kids and it adds up.

  • Try a get ready for school obstacle course.  Line up your kids in their bathing suits and have them race to get dressed , get their shoes on , lunch put in the back pack and to the finish line. Race against the clock not each other if the skill level is drastically different.
  • Wood Lacing Sneaker for tying practice. This is almost identical to the one I learned on in 1982 and I like how stable it is.
  • I love this  Learn To Dress Monkey for practicing buttons , zippers and snaps.

4. Talk about differences, bullying and standing up for yourself .

5 simple things you can do to make sure your kids are ready for preschool

School can be an anxious place for some kids and talking about that before hand can help. The following books are some of my favorites for these subjects:

Bullying: 

School Anxiety:

Being Yourself:

Troubles with Friends:

5. Do some fun more learning activities to get into or back into the swing of things.

back to school

Being ready for school in the early years ( preschool – 1st grade ) is much less about what kids know and much more about having them ready to learn. Making sure that they are emotionally stable to be away from the home for the length of time that they will, giving them confidence and tools to handle issues, and being ready to work in a large group where their needs will not be met as immediately as they are at home.  That said doing some fun learning activities won’t hurt! Here are some of my favorites for each age group. You can also have fun by making Alphabet Crafts – my ebook .

 

  • Preschool

Magic Letters
Shape Crafts
Alphabet Playdough
Shell Math Game
Peel & Pick Alphabet Apple Tree
Counting Around The House

 

  • PreK

Silly Ways To Teach Print Awareness
Letter Sorting Tree
Shape Art
Letter Dominoes
Pattern Towers
Move & Groove Letter Game
Font Collages
Hanging Out The Wash Math Game

 

  • Kindergarten and 1st Grade

Connect The Dots Math
Sight Word Dominoes
Spelling With Beads
Paint & Read
Sight Word Game
Secret Code Math

This post contains affiliate links.

Fall Preview: Apples and Acorns!

This fall themed sensory tub is a great way to welcome the best parts of the coming season, by scooping, pouring and pinching up beans, apples and acorns.  I usually keep a sensory tub theme for a month or two pulling it out every few days and letting my son explore.  Now that he is a little older my son prefers to use the tongs to pick things up . Using a small dish to hold the material he pinches up is a great way to encourage counting and sorting with a sensory tub.Don’t miss our books about apples

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some beans ( we are using pinto and navy), acorns ( real or artificial), some fake apples, scoops and tongs. I use the same container for my sensory tubs usually , and keep the materials in ziplocs while not in use.  I got the acorns and the apples in the potpourri section of a home decorating store. 
  2. Start by pouring the beans into the container.
  3. Add the apples .
  4. Add the acorns.
  5. Add your tools and invite your child to play!
  6. Pinch and count! 

Books About Apples

Apples by Jacqueline Farmer is not a book to snuggle up and read before bed or really anytime with a toddler but wow it’s a wonderful resource. I didn’t know how much I didn’t know about apples until I read this book. It’s packed full of detail about how they are grown, where they came from originally, varieties and more! I urge teachers and homeschooling parents to check this out if you are doing any study about fruit, or apples.

iknowitsautum

I Know It’s Autumn by Eileen Spinelli  is  age appropriate for young preschoolers and  toddlers. The book is a simple look at all the things that tell a small child that Autumn is here. Pumpkin muffins, apple picking, cooler weather,  hayrides and more all signal that the summer is gone and the fall has arrived. I like this book because there will be something a child will relate to and be able to identify with. I also love that the family is biracial and there is no mention of it at all. It’s nice to see and I wish more books were so non challant about representing all kinds of families.


Apple Farmer Annie
by  Monica Wellington is another  favorite in our house. My son loves this author and I like how simple but informative this book is. Your little reader will learn about the basics of what happens at an apple orchard , but you can take it further if you want. On many of the pages there are chances to learn more, like the page about sorting and classifying, where there are apples ready to count 1-10, and sorted by colors. I love the last page that says that Annie is so happy to have her own apple farm. I loved that message and think it’s a lot more powerful than some may think, women on farms in most books are “farmer’s wives” and I love that there is no one but Annie doing her own thing.