Thanksgiving alphabet

I saw this great idea on Pinterest and thought I’d share it with everyone.  When you’re sitting down and enjoying a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with your family, give this Thanksgiving Alphabet Game a try.  Go around the table and, for each letter of the alphabet, have everyone name at least one thing that they are thankful for.  It’s a great way to practice gratitude and to remind ourselves just how much we have to be thankful for!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Alphabet Game

Click here to read the full article.

To learn more about what you can do to teach your children the importance of gratitude, read my posts Saying thank-you and Be thankful.


Be thankful

It’s almost Thanksgiving in the United States, so I wanted to share this great quote.  “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.  If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” (Oprah Winfrey).

It’s so true…so many people spend their lives in a constant state of wanting more, instead of being thankful for and appreciating what they have right now.  If you’re always looking for more, you will never recognize when you have “enough”.

This is an important life lesson for our children, too.  They can get pretty wrapped up in always having the latest toy or electronic gadget.  Teach them to slow down and enjoy what they have before they get the next thing.  Sometimes, it’s a good thing to have to wait!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wise words from Oprah (always!)

It’s important that our children also learn how to say thank-you.  For details, check out my post entitled, ‘Saying thank-you’.

Everybody matters

“Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.” (Kid President)

This is a great skill to teach our kids…how to be the sort of person who lives their life like everybody matters.  How can our children learn how to make people feel like they matter?  Teach them how to be empathetic to others and to be compassionate and forgiving of other peoples’ mistakes.  Teach them to offer a smile and a kind word, especially when someone is having a hard day.  And teach them to listen to what others have to say…to their stories, their worries and their joys, because nothing makes a person feel more special than simply being heard.

What is the best way to teach your children all of these skills?  Model this behavior by being the somebody who makes them feel like a somebody!

Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody. -Kid President

If you’re interested in raising children with a strong character, you may also wish to read these articles on Patience and Giving to Charity.

Pre-Christmas purge: Tips to help kids declutter

This past week-end, my daughter tackled her annual ‘pre-Christmas purge’.  Before my daughter completes her ‘Christmas Wish List’, I have her go through her stuff (toys, crafts, etc.) and weed out what she no longer plays with.  Before Christmas and her birthday tend to be a good time to go through this exercise as, generally speaking, the idea of giving things away is somewhat easier when she knows there will be new things to take their place.

Having said that, she has been doing this for years now and does a pretty good job of ‘decluttering’.  Truth is, she doesn’t really mind the process, since it gives her an opportunity to ‘find’ things she had ‘lost’ or reacquaint herself with things she had forgotten she even had.  When she was done, both she and I had a much better idea of what should and shouldn’t be on her Christmas list.

Although she will perform this task on her own, her preference is for me to keep her company (after all, it’s more fun when you’re not alone).  Truth is, it’s probably not a bad idea to be on hand so that you can provide some direction (and possibly a little focus…there’s a tendency to get distracted and end up playing more than purging).  Having said that, it’s a good idea to make it a little fun, so that they aren’t turned off of the process completely.  A little music and dancing can’t hurt!

I have my daughter divide things into piles – one for keeping, one for throwing away/recycling and one for giving to charity (thrift stores always appreciate donations at this time of year).  Once she’s done sorting things into piles, it’s the perfect time to take the things she is keeping and to neatly organize them before she puts them away.  Remember, you may love your child’s closet to look like it came out of the pages of Good Housekeeping magazine, but you might want to lower your standards a bit.  Imposing an impossible standard of tidiness on your child is only going to frustrate both you and your child and cause a rift in your relationship (it’s best to choose your battles carefully).

I came across this infographic today (too bad I didn’t see it earlier!) and thought it would be helpful for anyone who is looking to declutter.  When your children are doing their pre-Christmas purge, use these questions to help guide their decisions and teach them decluttering skills that they can use for many years to come.

Need to #declutter ? #realestate

Click here to read this article in detail.

Let’s be honest, most kids aren’t going to love going through their belongings and making decisions about what to keep and what to give away (to be perfectly honest, it’s not my favorite thing, either), but these ‘decluttering skills’ will benefit them throughout their lives (we’ve all watched shows on hoarding and seen the impact on peoples’ lives).

If you’re interested in teaching your children organization and personal responsibility, you may also wish to read my post on ‘Teaching responsibility at home: Implementing an after-school routine’.

You are what you think

You are what you think!  The mind is an incredibly powerful thing, but you can choose to have this work for or against you.  If you let your mind get all cluttered up with negative self-talk, pretty soon you will believe these words and life will play out accordingly.  If, on the other hand, your self-talk is nurturing, forgiving and optimistic, your mind will accept your thoughts as truth and attract positive things to you.

We’ve all been guilty of negative self-talk (“That was so stupid!?” “I can’t believe I messed up again!”), but it only serves to chip away at our feelings of self-worth.  In addition, our children observe our self-flogging and learn this self-esteem-killing behavior.

Instead, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could teach our children the life skill of ‘positive thinking’.  What a difference it could make in their lives!  After all, positive thoughts are both free, and freeing!

Get your FREE copy of this Positive Thoughts Poster at

Make something similar for my counseling door.

Do your best to ensure that positive thoughts are the first thing to come into your head when you wake up and the last thing you think about when you go to sleep at night…and teach your children to do the same!

If you’re interested in teaching your children how to be more at peace with themselves, you may also wish to read my posts on “Making mistakes” and “Patience“.

Learning the times tables

My daughter is learning multiplication in school, and is finding it rather frustrating, to say the least.  Truthfully, her frustration is less about multiplication itself and more about learning the times tables, which is a necessary part of performing multiplication in a timely manner.  Although I will admit that it’s a rather ‘foggy’ memory, I remember trying to learn the times tables, and the pure tedium and frustration that was part of the process.  After all, when it comes right down to it, there is ultimately only one way to do it…through lots of repetition and memorization.

Let’s face it, the Multiplication Table can be pretty overwhelming at first, so the task of learning it needs to be broken down into manageable chunks.   Having said that, it’s helpful to point out to kids that they probably know a good number of the facts already (i.e. 1’s, 2’s, 5’s and 10’s).  That being said, it seems to me that the most logical approach for learning what they don’t already know, would be to learn each times table (e.g. 3’s) really well before moving on to the next (e.g. 4’s).  What I’ve read on the subject, seems to support this approach.

Clearly, my daughter wasn’t the only one who was struggling with the times tables, as I received several emails from her teacher pleading with parents to “please, please, please practice multiplication facts”.   Her pleas sent me to the internet for some guidance.  I figured that I wasn’t the first parent to struggle with this and was hoping that people with some knowledge on the topic, would have taken pity on parents everywhere and revealed some techniques we could use.  Thank goodness I was right!  Here are some of my favorites…

How to Easily Memorize the Multiplication Table (The Great Courses – Professor Arthur Benjamin)

I especially love Professor Benjamin’s trick for learning the 9 times table.

Click here to view this video on YouTube.

Best Way to Teach 3s Times Tables (Jennifer Beal)

Jennifer is a teacher who has been teaching kids their times tables for a long time.  I really like her approach for teaching the 3 times tables because it involves visual as well as auditory cues which enhance memory.  This video also touches on a similar strategy for learning the 4 times tables.

Click here to view this video on YouTube.

Multiplication Made Easy (Talesof4thGrade)

This video provides lots of great strategies (typically rhymes) for learning the times tables.  In addition, the audio is done by a younger person, which kids might also appreciate.

Click here to view this video on YouTube.

Once your kids have learned their times tables, have them go to this website for some timed practice with electronic flash cards (note: selecting a ‘starting level’ of 3 will present them with flash cards testing their knowledge of the 3 times tables, etc.).

There are so many times in daily life that your children will use multiplication, so it is worth spending some time now to make sure your children have learned their times tables.  Hopefully, the strategies shared in the above videos will make your job a little easier!  Please  leave me a comment to let me know how these strategies worked for you.

If you’re interested in teaching your children good study habits, you may also wish to read my posts on “How to study effectively”, “Memory Techniques” and “Mnemonic Study Strategies“.