Archive for the 'The Parent Teacher' Category

Something magical happens when…

By the time my son was 2 years old, he knew how to scroll the mouse on the laptop. At 4 and a half, he can boot up his favourite game, download an app on my phone, and navigate through digital cable.  He would gladly spend all his free time playing games on my laptop, my phone or on the Wii at his grandparents’ house. I notice him starting to mimic what he sees on TV or in games on the Wii, instead of coming up with his own games.

I’m the big bad Mommy who says ‘no you can’t play another game on my phone’.  When he finally gets over the disappointment of having the screen turned off, something magical that happens. He starts to play, using his imagination! He invents games and characters and develops a whole world just for him. I watch from the corner of my eye, being very careful not to let him see me and risk breaking his concentration.  I love watching him in his own little world, with the screens turned off.

Do you regulate how much ‘screen time’ your kids get?

Vicky is a teacher and mom to two young children. She also has a children’s clothing business. Find her on Facebook.

Should your child have a best friend?

From Anne of Green Gables and Diana, Tootie and Natalie, Forrest Gump and Jenny, Dora and Boots, it’s easy to grow up with a romanticized idea of what a childhood ‘best friend’ should be like.

I’ve often wondered if there is anything I can do to help alleviate the pressure from my own children, and the ones I teach, to find ‘one’ best friend. I remember when I was growing up, feeling so much pressure to try to find a best friend. I did have friend I met on the playground in kindergarten but by 2nd grade she had moved away and we lost touch. I remember wanting so much to find someone else I could connect with, and I carried this with me all the way through my teens.

There is definitely something wonderful about having a best friend, that one person who understands you, knows just the right things to say and brings the best out of you.
For a child, that best friend can be a safe place to turn, and someone who provides comfort and support away from home, not to mention the countless memories shared as they grow up together.

But why does it have to be just one person? As an adult I have numerous friends that fulfill different needs in my life. Should we be teaching our children to do the same?

I have come across many ‘pairings’ of friends in the different classrooms I teach in. Some pairs are inseparable and insist on doing everything together from working on a project, going to the bathroom or standing in line together. Sometimes the dynamics can be stressful and intense. Conflicts occur; one friend gets upset about something, and declares a 3rd her ‘new best friend’, leaving the other devastated. But throughout the course of the school year, these friendships can change and new ones are created.

But according to the New York Times, (in an article published back in June 2010) some experts suggested it was unhealthy for children to choose just one best friend. The reasoning, it promotes exclusivity and can lead to bullying.

As a teacher I have heard of some pairs of best friends being broken up intentionally by not being allowed to work together for a project or having them seated far apart from each other. I can see this as a good thing, when the need to be constantly talking to each other gets in the way of focusing on work. But to prevent bullying, or prevent other students from being excluded, doesn’t that interfere with students’ abilities to form bonding relationships as well as resolve conflict on their own?

Do you think schools and teachers have a role to play in helping students navigate through friendships, or do we just let friendships evolve naturally?

Does your child have a best friend? Do you agree with their choice of friends?

Ultimately I think the best thing we can do for our kids is to model healthy friendships and trust them to make good choices when they build their social lives.

Vicky is a teacher and mom to two young children. She also has a children’s clothing business. Find her on Facebook.

image credit: Stock.xchng

Communicating with teachers

Most kids use agendas as the primary means of communication between school and home. Every day when my son gets home from kindergarten, the first thing I do is take out his agenda and read what his teacher had to say. There are often comments about new things he has learned, or accomplishments I might like to hear about. I really appreciate this line of communication with his teacher. We’ve often gone back and forth, filling up the entire page in a day or two.  We’ve also emailed quite a few times, arranging dates for me to come in and volunteer. His teacher also sends home a weekly newsletter page, outlining the new things they will be working on, asking for items to be brought in, or reminding parents to send back permission forms. As a parent, I really appreciate knowing what he’s doing every day, or finding out if there are areas that he can improve on.
When I’m teaching, I often see little notes for the regular teacher come by my desk. Often these notes can get lost, or not read for a few days if the regular teacher is away. With older kids, the communication through the agenda is usually just a signature or a brief comment if homework wasn’t completed. I’ve seen some classes where students receive a bean, a bead or a point for having their agenda signed. It’s a regular part of the classroom routine, and helps teachers know that parents are involved and aware of what their kids are learning in school.
It’s fabulous that there are so many ways to keep in close communication with the teachers; there’s no need to wait for parent-teacher interviews! Don’t be afraid to be involved, write notes and ask what’s going on in the classroom.  Teachers are happy to communicate with parents!

As parents, how do you communicate with your kids’ teachers, and how often does it happen? What has worked for you?

Vicky left a career in the communications sector after her son was born to pursue her dream of teaching. Now a mom of two, she works as an occasional teacher while fulfilling her passion for writing through blogging. When not surrounded by children – her own or the ones she teaches – you can also find her running a business on the side. Find out more by visiting her at

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A little praise goes a long way


As a substitute teacher, I am always taking note of great ideas I see in classrooms. I recently came across a page posted on the blackboard that listed 100 ways to praise a child. This got me thinking about how I can use praise not only with my own kids, but also with the ones I teach.

Even though I may not consistently be in the same classrooms, the emotional well being of those kids is still in my hands. I never know if what I say can end up being something that will stick with a child for years to come. With this in mind, I try to be as positive as I can. I want to be the kind of teacher that helps children feel good about themselves, and who helps them build self-esteem.

I’ve noticed that praise works like magic. Who doesn’t like being told when they doing something well! When I notice a group of students having trouble listening, I praise the ones who are sitting well and listening attentively. It doesn’t take long for the others to follow, eager to also have their good behaviour acknowledged.

Often our focus with praise comes in the form of rewards. I certainly do that with my own kids, offering a sticker for cleaning up toys, or a treat for good behaviour. But praise doesn’t need to be more than quick recognition of a job well done. When you recognize a child’s achievements, you help them to feel important. Kids will take pride in what they have achieved, but will also feel better knowing that you are also proud of them.

Something that we don’t often think about praising is imagination. When your child creates an imaginary world with blocks, or builds a space ship out of a box, why not take a minute to praise those efforts. Imagination is an important tool that gives a child a space to be authentic, to experience different roles and feelings and to work out solutions to problems.  By praising our kids’ imaginations, we are encouraging them to use them further, and nurturing creativity!

Here are a few things to consider about praising children: 

Praise the behaviour, not the child. Same goes for criticism. With my own kids, I avoid saying that they are bad, because they are not bad, but their behaviour can be.

Be specific in what you are praising. For example, you did a great job colouring that picture, or I’m so proud that you got dressed by yourself.

Be genuine when offering praise, but do not overdo it. Kids can see through fake praise and then will question when you are being sincere.

It doesn’t have to be big. Sometimes all it takes is a thumbs up or a wink from across the room to let your child know that you acknowledge what they are doing well.

Redirecting praise can really help a child build their self-confidence. For example you can say things like ‘you must be so proud of yourself for doing so well on that project.’

Take notice of the small moments. Acknowledge your child when he approaches you with a picture he drew or with something he wants to share.

There are hundreds of ways to say ‘good job!’ Here are a few of my favourites:   

  • Wow, you did it by yourself
  • Super
  • I knew you could do it
  • You’re a super star
  • Thumbs up
  • What an imagination
  • Nothing can stop you
  • You’ve outdone yourself
  • I like the way you did that
  • You’re a shining star


How do you praise your child? What works for you?

image credit: stock.xchng

Vicky, The Parent Teacher

March break is over, and I don’t want to go back!

March break is an exciting time for students. It’s also a welcome break for teachers! But there are some students who find it stressful that they won’t

be in the same routine for a week. And there are others who feel uneasy and nervous about going back.  During the week-off, there are some things you can do to help your children adjust to the idea that the break is coming to an end and that they will be going back to school:

-Try to maintain a consistent bedtime routine. Although some kids do get to stay up late, or have sleepovers at friends and grandparents houses during the week, sticking to a regular bedtime routine will make the transition back to school so much easier.

- Avoid letting your kids sleep in, and stay up late, especially on the night before school.

-Use a calendar to point out how many days are left, so there are no surprises that Sunday night is a school night.

-Review the school schedule to know what will be happening on Monday. Help your children be prepared for phys ed class, or a library period. Make sure any books or assignments that were sent home are returned.

-Get homework or projects done and out of the way at the beginning of the week. That way there’s no stress about getting them finished the day before going back.

And remember, not all children cope well with change, so expect it to take a few days or a week for regular routines to fall back in place.

Please welcome our latest Best Tools for Schools blogger, Vicky.  She is a parent to two young children, a substitute teacher and also blogs at Some Kind of Mom.  You can follow her on Twitter too! @somekindofmom


Candace also blogs for
the Yummy Mummy Club!