Finding the Right Tutor for Your Grandchild

One of the most difficult problems for families during this pandemic is the loss to our children and grandchildren of steady, full-time education. Hats off to schools and teachers who have adapted to online learning and done amazing jobs of bringing lessons into each student’s home, but for many children this is a less-than-ideal situation and many children are losing ground academically.

Perhaps your role during this challenging time, is to find a tutor for your grandkids and help them make up for lost time. This will be especially important for any children who are easily distracted and who need special attention and routine to learn well.

But, hiring a tutor is a serious venture. You don’t want to risk adding more stress to your grandchild’s life and the additional expense can be a strain on any budget. You definitely want the money spent to bring positive results.

Here are some things to consider when finding the best tutor for your grandchild:

  • Safety and Convenience

Your primary concern is for the well-being of the child. You’ll be entrusting your little learner into the hands of another adult. Be sure to get references, check them out and plan to have the lessons take place either in the child’s home where an adult can be nearby, or in a public place such as a school or library.

  • Skills and Experience

The best tutors are retired or currently not employed teachers. They are certificated and have lots of experience with children needing additional support. Sometimes businesses that offer tutoring are able to provide encouraging lessons in basic subjects, but just as often their teachers are not certificated and have limited experience in teaching a subject with learning styles in mind. They may not be able to present a lesson in a number of different ways to help the child understand. 

Occasionally a family member may be able to step in and help your grandchild in a certain subject. In that case, work with your classroom teacher to get proper materials for the lessons. It’s important that the tutoring sessions not confuse your learner by teaching lessons that conflict in any way with the classroom expectations. 

Be sure that you work with classroom teachers and the tutor to set specific goals for the time spent in tutoring sessions. One good way to build learning confidence is to “see” progress over time as certain goals are met.

  • Patience, Empathy and Kindness

Children who have fallen behind in their classroom work are often very discouraged. They may feel they can’t learn and may have taken a hit to their self-esteem. So anything additional in their schedule can feel like punishment. Avoid that possibility by hiring someone who understands the problem, offers nothing but positive lessons presented in small bite-sized pieces so that failure is not an option. Good tutors will have games and activities that are both instructional and fun. They may use some sort of reward system that encourages a bit of risk-taking, but also makes your grandchild feel hopeful and accomplished. 

A good tutor is on task but upbeat and friendly. He or she will be patient but expect the best so that sessions are worthwhile and have specific milestones to achieve. Often charts and stickers, etc. work very well for a child who has not been able to earn them in class.

  • Enthusiasm for the Subject, Positivity

Typically children who have experienced a degree of failure are sure that they’re “bad at math” or “bad at reading.” A good tutor can present material in which your grandchild can shine. And enthusiasm for the fun of reading a good book or solving a math problem can literally change your grandchild’s mind about that subject. An enthusiastic tutor who truly loves the subject matter may be able to overshadow all those unhappy experiences from the classroom and offer your grandchild new hope.

  • Reliability

Your family’s schedule is important and adding a tutoring session may be a stretch for you. So if your tutor is not on time, or fails to measure up in any way, please feel free to find another one. 

It’s also a good idea to schedule tutoring sessions for a month or two at a time and then re-evaluate the need for the extra support. You may decide that the extra boost in learning 

was all your grandchild needed to get back on track. Or you may decide that certain times of the year are just too busy to add another timeslot. Maybe waiting until spring or even summer would be the best choice for your family.

It’s important that your grandchild never feel that working with a tutor is an embarrassment or a punishment. It may be wise to explain that throughout history children have worked with tutors and that classroom instruction is a relatively new way to learn.

Finding the best tutor for your grandchild will take some research and some time. It will cost some money. But a strong, capable tutor may be just the boost your grandchild needs to become a confident, successful learner.

Ask Granny’s Gift Ideas for New Baby and Gifts for Mama

The gift of a new life is always a time for wonder and celebration. And the imminent arrival of the new baby is the perfect time to gift both baby and Mama to show your love and all good wishes. You may have a baby shower for friend or family member, possibly virtual, in your future. If so, now is the time to check out what’s new in baby world and some of the best ways to show your love and care for the new Mama as well.

Gifts for Baby

Don’t want to buy the same old sets of onesies and matching pants for this new baby? Then select from one of the unique gifts below.

Hudson Baby Unisex Fleece Booties are really something special. These super-soft booties wrap around and close with Velcro fasteners for no slip-off when baby kicks. They come in a variety of colours, are machine washable and have non-skid soles for toddlers. 

Melissa and Doug Flip Fish Toy. Melissa and Doug toys for kids have won all sorts of awards for quality. Plus, they encourage sensory development and such skills as eye/hand coordination, grasping for finger strength and bright colors and textures for baby to enjoy. This Flip Fish is bright and colourful, offers both sounds and a variety of textures to feel and even has the added benefit of a rubber teething piece on the top. It is hand washable.

SSK Soft Baby offers wrist rattles and animal socks to help baby find his or her feet. These entertain baby with their bright colours, sounds and encourage eye/hand/foot coordination. They are machine or hand washable and are one size fits all. 

Bestowe Gift Box: Welcome Baby Kits for first-time moms are a unique and classy gift. Each box from Bestowe is curated especially for the new mama and includes such items as baby balm, an eco pacifier, a swaddle, an organic teether and a journal for Mama to use to record the birth experience and baby’s first months. Baby and Mama will be pampered.

Gifts for Mama

Mama will love all the gifts for her new baby, but she won’t mind a little spoiling for herself. 

Baby Handprint/Footprint Keepsake Kit from Kea Babies. This kit allows mamas to create both a handprint and a footprint at baby’s birth. Everything you’ll need comes with the kit including the clay, the printing pieces for names and dates, the mould, paints and paintbrushes and even satin ribbons to turn the prints into Christmas ornaments or a stand on which to place them. Some prefer to make a hand or footprint at birth and then a second one when baby turns one year old.

The Mama Bird Box can be a one-time gift or a monthly subscription for one lucky Mama. Each box is filled with self-care products including lotions, nail polish, socks, health bars, skin scrubs or massage oils. The monthly subscription makes a very thoughtful gift for a special Mama.

The gift of a professional photo shoot is both unique and very welcome to new parents. Check with Mama before delivery as many photographers prefer to do a new baby shoot in the first few weeks of life.

Meal delivery gift cards make a wonderful gift for a new Mama. And while a real meal delivered to the door is wonderful, a gift card means Mama can use the gift when she needs it most. 

New Mamas are very appreciative of all the gifts they receive, especially for their first child. It’s such a special time of life. You can add to the joy with your thoughtful gift for baby and for Mama.

Fun New Books to Put Some Pizzazz in Your Grandkids’ Days

In this time when many children have been housebound, we’re hearing that they need some healthy, active challenges to keep them busy. Here are five books to capture their imagination and get them engaged in fun activities.

Personalized ‘Become the Chef’ Series for Kids from Story Antics 

If your grandkids enjoy being the star of their own books, they will enjoy the You Become the Chef series by Amy Whiteford and Britney Fong. These books are part of the Healthy Little Foodie series and the first one is entitled,  ____(your grandchild’s name) Makes Cheesy Quinoa Crackers.

To personalize the book you’ll choose the gender, name, plus hair, skin and eye color of the two main characters: the main helper and the adult helper. This is both a recipe book and a storybook. With help, your little chef will make a healthy snack to enjoy. This is a great series for kids who love to cook and it’s educational as well.

Another Book from Story Antics

Another offering from Story Antics is Charlotte Washes Her Hands. This one is for youngsters who need a little boost in the hand-washing department. Personalize the book for your grandchildren and rest easy that they will know how to properly wash their hands in this time of Covid 19.

Grandpa Magic

If you’re looking for a way to amaze your grandchildren, you’ll love Grandpa Magic: 116 Easy Tricks, Amazing Brainteasers and Simple Stunts to Wow the Grandchildren. This book, by Allan Zola Kronzek, a professional magician is filled with ways to engage your grandkids and have a ton of fun together. The clear explanations for each trick or puzzle are illustrated by diagrams or other graphics to make the tricks easy to do. 

100 Crafts

For kids who love to craft, try this book which is chock-full of ideas for easy projects. 100 Seriously Fun Super-easy Projects for Kids by Jamie Dorobek will be a hit with your crafty youngsters and doesn’t require expensive craft materials. Most of the projects will use things you already have on hand. 

Ed Emberly Drawing Books

Ed Emberly’s Drawing Book of Animals is a great book to kick-start your grandchild’s interest in drawing. His step by step pictures help children gain confidence as they draw clear, interesting pictures. Check out his other titles which include Make a World, Go Away, Big Green Monster and Ed Emberly’s Complete Funprint Drawing Book.

Spruce up Your Grandkids’ Bedrooms

                              

Want to have some fun? Get permission from your children to help spruce up your grandchild’s bedroom. Spend a little time dreaming with your grandchild about his or her perfect room and then make some plans. It’s a bedroom makeover!

Kids’ bedrooms are often a messy hodgepodge of toys, clothing, books and half-eaten snacks. You can help inspire a special hideaway for play, study, and a place to “be” that will become your grandchild’s sanctuary.

Durable, not Fancy Furniture

Wayfair has a stunning array of choices in children’s bedroom furniture. Check out their popular high sleeper beds which offer a fun bunk bed plus lots of space beneath the beds for storage or a unique study or play area.

For some fun choices in personalized chairs check out Crate and Barrel Children’s furniture. They also offer a wide selection of dressers, end tables, beds and more.

Storage

Inexpensive and super-useful, you’ll love Maginels children’s wardrobe units. Brightly colored and kid-friendly these units solve your clothing and toy storage problems.

Colorful kids’ mini-lockers are available from Schoollockers.com. They’re a cute addition to a child or teen’s bedroom.

Ways to Create Special Areas

Themes

Think about what your grandchild loves right now. Is it princesses, dinosaurs or a certain movie character? Then think ahead three or five or seven years. Make a design plan that can incorporate what is loved now, but also look ahead a few years when that favorite thing may change. The key thematic pieces should be the accents that can be easily replaced with something new.

Check out thirty-six different themes for kids’ bedrooms at digsdigs.com. You may select just one idea to add to your plan that will make all the difference in the fun quotient.

Here are some more bedroom ideas from donpedrobrooklyn.com. From simple to ornate, you’ll find something your grandchild loves.

Accessories

Bedding

Find fun kids’ bedding at The Company Store, Bed Bath and Beyond, or Children’s Bedding Direct.

Tents

Tents make perfect reading and play areas in a child’s bedroom and don’t have to take up much space. Check out the tents at Wayfair.

Rugs

Area carpets are a great way to brighten up a bedroom and there are so many choices. Go to Kid Carpet or Wayfair to browse.

Other Accessories

To find those perfect finishing touches for your bedroom makeover consider looking for pillows, chairs, wall hangings, curtains and lighting pieces. Try IKEA.

Planning this bedroom makeover will mean lots of quality time with your grandchild, and lots of fun hours together enjoying the final result.

Time for a Road Trip: Kids in the Car

As summer nears, many of us are contemplating road trips to wonderful places. Road trips are fun. Road trips are exciting, but…how to entertain the kids? 

It takes a bit of planning and some ingenuity to solve the problem of what to do during those long hours of driving. It helps to prepare some games and activities ahead of time because you know best what your kids or grandkids love to do and we all know it’s hard to sit still for long hours.

One tried and true method is to purchase small gifts and toys ahead of time. Wrap them and number them—one for each day of driving time. They can either be distributed at the beginning of each driving day or at the end of one day to be used the next. It gives the children something to look forward to.

Here are some game/toy/activity ideas to use as you take your summer road trip:

Home Made

Car Ride Bingo: Make some bingo cards ahead of your trip. Make a five by five or six by six grid with a free space here and there. Write in objects that your kids can find while looking out the car window. Be creative and include things like animals, vehicles, certain shapes or colors, etc. Add at least one funny object to hunt for.

Twenty-one Questions: The person who is “it” thinks of an object. It can be anything in the world. The rest of the players take turns asking questions to narrow down the categories, but be careful, twenty-one questions can go by very quickly.

Color the Map: Print off maps of your country. In the U.S. kids will look for license plates from each state and color in the state when they find it. In Europe they will color in certain provinces, regions or zones.

Small Tins: Find small tin cans with tops such as breath mint cans. Use them to store small toys for the road trip. You might include

Crayons and sticky notes for hours of driving fun.

Tiny Legos to build small structures

Tic Tac Toe handwritten board with colored buttons to use as x’s and o’s.

I Went to Town and I Bought…Use the name of the city that will be your final destination of the day. The first player begins by saying I Went to (town) and I bought an apple. The next player has to say the same sentence but finish it with an object beginning with the letter B. Can you make it to Z?

And Then…Players tell a story. The first person begins Once upon a time and tells as much of the story as he or she likes. When it’s time to pass the story on to the next person, finish by saying, “And then….” The next play continues the story until time to pass it on. And then…

Metal Tray with Magnetic Letters and Shapes Find an old cookie sheet or other small metal tray and pack some magnetic letters and shapes. Encourage writing words that rhyme, words that are five letters long, color words, names, etc. Ask if the children can make a picture that looks like an animal, a building, or a toy.

Printable Games: Here is a site that has printable games and activities to copy off before your trip.

Purchased Toys and Games

Magnetic Animal Homes: From Purple Cow, this fun matching game matches animals to their habitats.

Wikki Stix Travel Pak: Wikki Stix are fun to use and easy to take along on your road trip. These come in a handy plastic box and come with an activity book offering many ideas to spark creativity as kids bend the stix.

Tangrams: This travel version of tangram puzzles is called Tangoes and is perfect for hours of puzzle-making in the car.

Wooden Toy Magnetic Puzzle Pieces: This toy is a combination of a white board that is also magnetized to take puzzle pieces. It will entertain young children for hours at a time. The wooden box makes it easy to take along on your road trip.

Ed Emberley Drawing Books: Ed Emberley Drawing books are a treasure trove for little ones. Take your pick of  Animals, Trucks and Trains, or things you can make from your own Thumbprint. His step by step pictures make success just one line away.

Take N Play Hangman This favorite word game is easy to pack and fun to play. Get Hangman before you go.

Busybag: This travel bag is filled with small toys and games to keep your kids happy for many hours. It comes in bags for boys or girls.

Scavenger Hunt: Choose from the Highways or City and Suburbs deck of Scavenger Hunt cards. Play individually or in teams to find the designated objects as you travel.

A family road trip will be an adventure and will create family memories for years to come. Do a little planning before you embark and keep the kids satisfied during those long hours of driving.

Gardening with Children

 
Children have a natural curiosity about the world around them. If they are growing up in a rich literacy environment full of books of all sorts, they will want to experience some of the things they see in the pictures. One of the best activities for helping young children to  learn about our beautiful natural world is to allow them to see the growth cycle of plants. As adults we take the life cycles of plants and animals for granted, but when we introduce them to children we can, once again, enjoy the miracle of new life growing—a tiny seed growing into a tiny shoot, a seedling and then a mature plant. 
Beans, radishes, or grass seed are good choices to begin with because they germinate very quickly. Planting in a clear plastic container allows the child to watch the development of the root structure below the soil as well as the growth above. Little science experiments such as giving one plant more light than another will give your little learner a chance to notice change over time and to learn that plants need certain nutrients to thrive. They may even begin to document growth over time with a simple chart or labeled drawing. The basis of good science is observation and then asking key questions about information observed. You can get your grandchild off to a great start as an observant learner by doing nothing more than planting a few seeds and then waiting for the exciting results.
Here are some excellent books to use as you have fun with plants and seeds:


FICTION:        

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss 

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert        

City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan        

The Surprise Garden by Zoe Hall      

Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert        

Sunflower House by Eve Bunting


NON-FICTION (How to books):      

  Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots by Sharon Lovejoy        

The Children’s Kitchen Garden by Georgeanne Brennan        

Gardening Wizardry for Kids by L. Patricia Kite        

Grow Your Own Pizza by Constance Hardesty

Finally, you must try the classic:

I Can Read book by Millicent Selsam entitled Seeds and More Seeds. In this easy-to-read book young Benny begins to wonder about seeds. What are they, how do they grow and what will they turn into?

Read this simple book to your grandchild, or better yet, allow him or her to read it to you, and then watch as enthusiasm for getting out into nature grows into a passion for planting and watching things grow!


Here is a fun idea. Take a paper cup, draw a face on it, fill it with soil and plant grass seed on top. Wait a few days and watch the hair grow!!!

Finding the Right Gifts for the Older Children on Your List

  

   Holidays and birthdays are never far away and our great joy as parents and grandparents is to see faces light up as they open much-anticipated presents. Eagerly they strip away wrappings to reveal the dolls, trucks and games that they have requested.

As they laugh and smile and radiate excitement we oldsters are once-again pleased that we have given joy to our loved ones. There is great satisfaction in giving a gift that “fits”. But as our children get older it isn’t as easy to satisfy them nor is it as easy to anticipate what will bring about those happy and excited faces. None of us want to give a gift that misses the mark.
   One of the keys to finding the perfect gifts for our pre-teens or teens is truly knowing who they are and what they enjoy. If you live far away from them and don’t have the opportunity to visit with them in their home setting, you have an even greater challenge in keeping up with their current interests. However you will find that making an extra effort to either talk to them personally or to talk to their parents will pay dividends in the end. 
   Is your young man or woman a sports enthusiast? Does he or she have more of a creative nature? Perhaps he enjoys hands on science activities or she enjoys writing.

Whatever the current hobby or activity may be, your efforts in finding a gift that dovetails with it will show your child that you took a personal interest in them. So often we hear that teens feel isolated and unloved. They are going through difficult transitions and it is vitally important that the adults in their lives continue to play steadfast mentoring roles for them. So do a little research before shopping for those older children this year and reap the rewards of genuine hugs and thank-yous.
Here are some suggestions:
For active pre-teens and teens:
biking equipment such as helmets, pads, blinking lights, skateboards and equipment, snowboard or ski equipment, clothing or tow passes, dance pads that are compatible with home games, box sporting equipment, soccer, baseball, football, etc.
For the creative:
art supplies: easel, canvas, brushes and paints, knitting books, needles and yarn beading supplies.

More ideas next month!