Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Homeschooling the anxious child

 If you walked into my home on any given weekday morning, chances are you would find my younger kids playing in our playroom/classroom, and older on the computer in their Online Yeshiva classes. 

One of my kids though, do not fit into either of those groups.

She is 7, extremely bright and capable, but gets herself really worked up very easily.

It is often a struggle to get her to do her school work, but once she does it, she does a beautiful job. Buthere have been days when we will argue back and forth and make 25 different deals for 15 minutes when all she needed to do was write 2 sentences.

It goto a point where I started getting really frustrated and needed to figure out a different plan.

I sat down and wrote down the main subjects that we needed to accomplish each day.

then assigned 5 minutes to each subject.

We sat down this morning and I went over it with her.

I showed her the 5 minute clock in the middle of each subject and told her that for each subject before she starts her work, we will put on a timer for 5 minutes.

She got really excited abouthis, as 5 minutes is really not a long time, right?

We got all her supplies ready and in front of her, and she goto pick which subjects she wanted to do first.

She chose math. We have 2 great math apps on the iPad as well as a workbook. We did one of the apps and as the buzzer went off, she was ready to pick the next subject.

I gave her stickers with different expressions on each face and she goto put a sticker nexto each subject as she completed it showing how she felt doing it.

this really worked so well. It gave her some sort of control over her work which I realized alleviates a lot of her anxiety. 

She has everything she needs, and knows that each subject will only take 5 minutes- which was funny as for some things she asked for some more time to finish her work, to which I told her no problem.

She took a few breaks between subjects and the morning went really smoothly. 

If you have a little munchkin like mine, try outhe 5 minute time frame. You don't realize how much can get done in these little pockets of time. And when she is enjoying something, we keep going, and when she is not, she knows 'its just 5 minutes!'

I hope this was helpful to you,
Wishing you a fabulous week,

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spicing Things Up

We homeschool. No day is quite like the other, yet things can get pretty monotonous very quickly and easily.

The kids are home most of the day, and while they have the flexibility to move forward in a subject that is too easy or take their time on one thats a bit more challangeing, its always nice to add a bit of excitiement to the day.

I have found that this can be done by changing the smallest things, check them out:

1. Spice up the School Supplies
One of my kids is not a fan of writing, so every once in a while, I will give her a new cool pen or pencil to use to do her writing with. This makes it very exciting as she is so focused on her new apparatus, she forgets about the writing part. Same goes with a cool new pair of scissors, glitter glue, shiny ruler- below I have put together a few of my favorite things that are cheep yet will buy you much sanity. You are welcome.

2. Spice up the Homeschooling Room
If you can, spice up your homeschooling location, just a bit. Put up a new picture on the wall. Change the room around. Add a piece of furniture, or take something away. Add a new rug. Even if you do your work in the kitchen, get a cool new table cloth for the table.

3. Spice up your Location
If its nice outside, take a blanket and do your work outside on the grass. If you usually do work at a desk or table, get a mat and do your work on the floor. Change rooms for an activity. Sit on the couch for reading, back porch, even a siblings bedroom. Any change will be welcome.

Although these things may seem small, they really will make a world of difference in your little ones day. Try it, and let me know what happens :)

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

Monday, October 6, 2014

How Not to Lose Your Mind

Life has been busy lately- for all of us. With all the holidays, one after the other, the cooking, the cleaning, the kids- its a lot.

We had a big crowd for Yom Kippur and breaking of the fast and after the fast I was exhausted and had absolutely no energy to clean up. My dishwasher has not been working, so I figured I would rely on my Sunday cleaning help to work her magic like she does every Sunday.

Sunday morning arrived. I got the dreaded text that she was not feeling well and would not be making it in.

I honestly wanted to cry.

I had to teach Hebrew school Sunday morning and try get the house somewhat back together. Including the laundry, a zillion dishes, kids bedrooms from Shabbos and the floor was so dirty from all the foot traffic on Yom Kippur.

I was not a happy camper.

I was feeling really overwhelmed, frustrated, fed up, angry, upset and down right on the verge of a break down.

I needed to vent and it was too late on the East Coast to call my best friend or sisters to complain and feel sorry for myself, so I called my husband who was out restocking our fridge and pantry, forgetting that he's a man, and men need to fix things, not listen to complaining... so after I let it all out, he responded with, 'look on the bright side, the baby sitters coming tomorrow and  I am sure the cleaning help will feel better by tomorrow' and 'think good and it will be good'- I let the poor guy have it.

I just wanted someone to feel sorry for me, was I asking for too much?

But then something interesting happened.

My 4 year old came over to me with a book called Rina's Rainy Day and asked me to read it to her. It's a very sweet book about a little girl who has all these plans for the day, but nothing seems to go her way- and after every few pages, Rina says, 
"Gam Zu Letova, I trust this is Good, 
Hashem makes things happen the way that it should."

I then put the kids to sleep and decided to take a drive to the local drug store down the street to get some new nail polish, I have no patience for manicures, but once in a while it feels good to do your nails, so I figured, why not. I needed to get out for a bit.

As I walked through the mechanical doors, this song came on- just take a minute to listen to it, especially the chorus...

I got my pretty nail polish. 
And I held my head up.
And I realized that my dear hubby was right. 

It will all be okay. 

So the house is a wreck. It will get cleaned up tomorrow. And guess what? In a few days, it will be a wreck again. 

But as long as we cut ourselves some slack, keep our heads up and keep moving forward, it will always be okay.

So here's to a good week. And a happy Sukkos.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Focus Finder- Review

So my dear friend Rivka Caroline, author of From Frazzled to Focused, my favorite organizing and time managemenGuru, has done it again.

We all have a "to do list" and a calendar with all our appointments jotted down, buthe Focus Finder is simply genius.

If you are anything like me, I find myself making a new to do list almost daily. Especially this time of year with all the holidays.

Well, Rivka came up with this brilliant idea to make the Focus Finder, how pretty is it?

Here is what it looks like opened: 

At the top of the page is a list of 6 Focus subjects, so you can sit down and actually organize what needs to get done. 

And underneath it has the days of the week, Sunday thru Friday, to plug in what needs to get done and when. It is not a calendar to mark your appointments down. It is a book to simply mark down what needs to get done.

Here is a close up of things I started writing down:

So you write down the different things you need to focus on, then get into detail in each one.

I started using it the second I got it last week to help me stay focused on all the things that needed to get done before Yom Kippur. 

Focus #1: House for Yom Kippur- 
wrote everything that needs to get done in the house before Yom Kippur
Focus #2: Menu Pre Fast
Focus #3: Menu Break Fast
on the next page-
Focus #4: Activities for Kids on Yom Kippur

Since I received it on Thursday, I  did not need to plug in which days to do what, but I plan to use it for this weeks Sukkos planning. And forever on after that... I almost wanto order a case of them to make sure I will never run out as I finish each one!

Just write down the different things you need to get done under their main Focus point, then plug in which days to do what.

No more overwhelming to do lists. 
No more overwhelming Brain fog.

Rivka, you are my hero.

Ladies, Gentlemen, whoever finds themselves reading this post- run- dont walk- over to her site and pick up a copy of Focus Finder for yourself... and your mother... and your sister.. and your best friend- and use code Nshei18 for 15% off and free shipping!

{And if you buy it before this Wednesday night, Rivka will throw in her FREE 34 minute Mommy Bootcamp DVD :)}

Have a fabulous week!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pre-Yom Kippur Easy Peasy Honey Cake

On the day before Yom Kippur it is customary to ask for and receive honey cake from someone—usually one’s mentor or parent.

One of the reasons given for this custom is that if it had been decreed, Gd forbid, that during the year we should need to resort to a handout from others, the decree should be satisfied with this asking for food.

I received this recipe from a friend (thanks Rivky!) and tweaked it a bit which ended being the most delicious honey cake ever! It is super easy and moist- I hope you enjoy it!

Easy Peasy Honey Cake
1 box Duncan Hines Spice Cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
3/4 cup Honey
1 cup Black Coffee

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients together and bake for 30-35  minutes.

Enjoy and have a wonderful week!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Childrens books for Yom Tov

Apple Days: A Rosh Hashanah Story
By Allison Sarnoff Soffer
Illustrated by Bob McMahon
Ages 2-7

 Katy's favorite holiday is Rosh Hashanah in Apple Days: A Rosh Hashanah Story. It's the time of year when she gets to pick apples and make applesauce with her mother. But what happens when the family tradition is interrupted by the arrival of a new baby cousin?
A situation to which every child and family can relate, this is a story about what happens when a child realizes that family priorities must sometimes change. Luckily for Katy, her friends and her community are there to help her in this charming story about a beloved fall custom. Applesauce recipe included!

New for Simchat Torah!
 The Patchwork Torah
By Allison Ofanansky
Illustrated by Elsa Oriol
Ages 4-8

A Torah Scribe and His Family Rescue Damaged Torahs in a Story Spanning Four Generations
 As a child, David watches his grandfather, a Torah scribe or sofer, finish a Torah scroll for the synagogue. "A Torah is not something to be thrown away," his Grandfather explains in The Patchwork Torah. David's grandfather carefully stores the old Torah his new one has replaced in his cabinet, hoping to one day repair the letters so the Torah can be used again.
David grows up and becomes a sofer just like his grandfather. Through the years, people bring him damaged Torahs they have saved from danger and disaster - one damaged by Nazi soldiers during World War II, one damaged in a fire in a synagogue, and one in flooding during Hurricane Katrina. David stores each of these precious Torahs in his cabinet, until his granddaughter Leah gives him the idea to make a recycled Torah from the salvaged Torah scrolls.

A Watermelon in the Sukkah
By Sylvia A. Rouss and Shannan Rouss
Illustrated by Ann Iosa
Ages 3-8

Michael's favorite fruit might prove more than the sukkah can handle in A Watermelon in the Sukkah.
Miss Sharon's students have all brought their favorite fruit to hang in the sukkah, but Michael's favorite fruit is a watermelon! It looks like the watermelon can't hang in the sukkah, until Michael comes up with a unique solution.

 Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy, Sweet New Year-
Shana Tova uMetuka! 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Art of Delegation

When it comes to organization and home management, lets just say that they are not my strongest points.

Over the years, as more kids and responsibilities came along, I have had to rely on the help of others to keep things running as smoothly as possible, be it cooking, cleaning, organizing etc.

Now, the thing is, you can have all the help in the world, but if your help doesn't know what you need them to do, its not going to be that helpful.

And so I have very slowly (and I mean, this has taken me YEARS) figured out the art of delegation.

For some of you, this may come very naturally. For me, it is something I have had to figure out.

A few weeks ago I had a friend helping me prepare food for a large Shabbos meal. She is actually a film director and lives in NY and was just visiting her family who  live here and was excited to help.

I set up a station for her with the food processor, different bowls, vegetables, a garbage, she had everything set up and I told her exactly what I needed done.

While we were cooking and chopping, she said, 'you know, you delegate really well!' I literally almost fell over, as this is something that has really not come naturally to me. It still doesn't. I always wished people who are helping me knew exactly what I wanted done without me having to show them.

But then I realized that I should take this new found art and use it in my day to day life.

Here are some great tips on how to master the art of delegation (whether you are delegating chores for your kids, cleaning help, cooking help, activities for your kids, any time you need to tell someone else what you need them to do for you)

1. YOU need to know EXACTLY what you want done. Write a list, in detail of what needs to happen.

2. Set it up for them. Whatever supplies are needed to get the job done, set it up.Try not to have anything around that is not needed.

3.Let them know exactly what is expected to get done. If you need to give a time limit, do so. Ask if your instructions are clear and if they have any questions.

4. Check up on them to make sure they are doing what you want. Mis-communications happen all the time. Just keep on top of things.

This can ALL apply to Homeschooling:

- Know exactly what you want your kids to be learning. Make your decision on curriculum for each child.
-Set it up for them, make sure they have all their supplies that they will need so there will be no interruptions.
-Show them what they need to get done and how much time they have to do it.
-Be there to help them if assistance is needed.

I hope this was helpful to those in a similar situation to me!

Oh, and one last thing- we had a plastic shoe box where we kept all our card games. It was always such a mess even if the cards were in rubber bands, the kids just didn't use them.

I was at Ross one night and found this Jewelry organizer and for some reason though it would be a good idea to keep their playing cards in.

It worked out so great! The kids actually play with the cards now that they can see what they have (I found 3 sets of Uno cards, who knew?)

So that's my two cents for the week!

Wishing you all a wonderful week,
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