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Is your child getting enough sleep? Are you sure?

Most children do not get enough sleep – and that impacts their ability to learn.

Sleep is when your brain gets rid of all the detritus of the day, when your brain cleans itself, stores important memories, and gets ready for new information.  If a child’s brain does not have time to do all this – and more – that brain will not be functioning well the next day.

And that means less learning!

So how much sleep does your child need?  New research states that –

  • 3 – 5 year olds need 12 hours sleep each night
  • 6 – 8 year olds need between 10 and 12 hours
  • 8 – 12 year olds need 10 hours
  • 12 – 16 year olds need 9 – 10 hours sleep

That is a lot of sleep!

Young children need a good nighttime routine so that they go to bed with little fuss.  Older children may find it more difficult to get to bed at a reasonable hour.  Their sleep pattern changes.  Teenagers tend to need to sleep longer in the morning – that is why it is hard for them to wake up in time for school.  We torture our teenage kids by making them start school at 9a.m.

And late night screen time doesn’t help either.  Video games stimulate brains and stimulated brains don’t get chance to rest and clean themselves unready for the next day. The research says that even one night’s disruption to sleep can cause brain problems for several days.  That means less learning for several days!

So is your child getting enough sleep?   Are you making sure your child is ready to learn?



Top five reasons your child hates homework and what you can do about it

We have all been there. A child has homework to do and really does not want to do it. But I never realized how serious this situation could become until I saw results of an online survey about parents and homework.

The survey indicated that:

  • 10% had no problem getting their child to do their homework
  • 18% had to remind their child to do their homework
  • 48% said that homework was a daily family battle
  • 16% reported that homework often caused a meltdown
  • 8% said that their child hated school because of homework!

These numbers are astonishing. What is going on here? Homework is supposed to be helping not making things worse! Homework should never, NEVER, cause issues with your relationship with your child. Your relationship with your child is far too precious to be threatened by you trying to get your child to do homework.

Now I know it can be difficult. I have worked with families where mothers (it is usually mothers) have been at their wits end trying to find ways to get their children to do homework. The anger and frustration caused by this situation spills out into all aspects of family life and causes all kinds of problems. I have seen parents threaten children with loss of privileges in an effort to get their child to do their homework. I have had mothers in tears on the phone because they don’t know what to do, and even know of mothers who do their child’s work for them rather than having to face the frustration and anger of getting their child to do the work!

What are you to do if your child hates homework? Unfortunately, that answer is not straightforward. It depends on the reasons WHY your child does not want to do homework. Here are five reasons children hate homework and what you can do about them.

1. Doing homework takes time, time that your child would rather spend doing fun things.
Solution – Set a limit to the time your child spends doing homework and stick to it. If your child knows he can stop working at a certain time he will be more motivated to do the work.

2. The homework is too hard and your child does not know how to do it.
Solution. Tell your child’s teacher that your child couldn’t do it so that the teacher can review the work.

3. Homework is ‘boring’.
Solution. This is a difficult because homework often is boring. Again, setting time limits AND talking to your child’s teacher about the issue may help. Children use the word ‘boring’ to cover a variety of situations, you might need to check out why your child thinks homework is boring.

4. Homework is left to the last minute.
Solution. Help your child keep a homework agenda complete with dates for when work has to be handed in. Mark dates on a calendar and work backwards to decide when your child should to start work. Then let your child be responsible for getting the work done on time. Don’t let your child let his problem (no time) become your problem.

5. Books needed for homework are left at school.
Solution. If this happens often it is a sure sign that your child is struggling to learn and feels that the homework is too hard. Talk to your child’s teacher and try to set up a system to remind your child what books are needed but also tell the teacher if your child is struggling with homework.

So, my advice about homework is this-
The amount of benefit your child gets from finishing a homework assignment NEVER outweighs the importance of your relationship with your child. The amount of time you spend cajoling and coercing your child to do their work is counterproductive. There is no way that homework should create tension in a family, and definitely not the kind of meltdowns the survey suggests.
Stop letting your child’s homework cause family problems, it is just not worth it.

How to Choose the Best School for Your Child.

Kids need more than slates and crayons!

Kids need more than slates and crayons!

Every parent wants their child to go to the best school in the neighbourhood and I am often asked which one I would recommend.

The answer is simple.

The best school of any child is one where the teachers teach the way the child learns best!

Some children learn best in a structured environment and for them a school with traditional approach would work well.  Others prefer a more open, creative way of learning and these students would do well in a school with that kind of approach to teaching.

It all depends on how the child likes to learn, on the child’s learning style.

That is why one of the ways to help children make sense of school (the second way you can support their learning) is to CONSIDER  how your child learns.

(The 3 C’s of helping children make sense of school are  Consider, Consult, Communicate)

When you know how your child learns best yo can choose the school that teaches in a way your child will appreciate.

Will your child learn best in a traditional, structured learning environment or a school with a more liberal easy going approach?

Does your child like science subjects or are arts something he really enjoys?

Is there chance for your child to play sports, or music, or learn about citizenship?

Only when you CONSIDER your child’s leaning style can you answer the question – “What is the best school for my child?”     And the answer will be different for every child.

So, the best school?………Well, it all depends………

Check out my Good to Great program if you want to discover how your child learns best and how you can make school make sense.

3 Ways To Ensure Children Get The Education They Deserve

Is your child getting the best from school?

Is your child getting the best from school?

I am sure that you have heard the saying, ‘it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease’.   Well, in schools, it is the committed parent whose child gets the best education!

I know that it shouldn’t work that way – all children should get the education they need and deserve – but it does.  After 35 years in the classroom I have seen countless occasions where parental involvement made a difference to  children’s schooling.

But there are ways parents can do this effectively rather than turning the teacher off and making life difficult for a child.   Yes, unfortunately it does happen and I know that many parents shy away from getting involved with their child’s teacher because they fear their child will be stigmatized.

Here are three simple ways that you can – and must –  get involved with your child’s school to ensure that your child gets the best that the school can offer.

1.  Communicate

Too often children fall in the cracks between school and home.  Communication is the answer.  You need to know what your child is doing in school and the teacher needs to know what you are doing at home.  Report cards and parent-teacher conferences are not enough.  Find ways to communicate on a regular basis with your child’s teacher and expect him or her to do the same for you.

2. Consider

This is  harder to do but oh so important!   Kids learn in many different ways.  Teachers teach in a limited number of ways.  If the way your child is being taught does not match the way he or she learns best schoolwork will become a struggle.  Discover how your child learns  and how the teacher teaches so you can provide strategies that help your child adapt his learning.  ( My Good to Great Program helps you do this!)

3. Consult

Learn about the support systems that are available for parents.  Each school should have an organization dedicated to giving parents support.  Get involved and find out exactly how that group can support you and your child.  And, if you have concerns about how your child is being taught consult this organization to discover what you can do to change the situation.

These are the three C’s of working with a school so that your child s=gets the best the school can offer.



Does your child know how to learn? Three ways you can make this happen

Portrait of a happy girl showing her school report

Does your child know how to learn?

Are you sure?

The #1 reason children underachieve in school is because they are missing one or more to the basic skills that help them know how to learn.

Whether you know it or not, you are always either helping or preventing your child from learning these basic skills.  You are always influencing how well your child learns.


Well, not so fast.  It is really easy to help children develop the skills they need to become good learners and do well in school.  All you need to remember are the 3S’s

#1.    Show 

Your child loves you and wants to be like you. Show your child how to learn by learning something yourself and talking about it to your child.


#2   Share

Sharing tasks is a great way of helping your child learn how to do them, helping them learn the skills they need to get tasks finished.


#3   Say

Be careful how you speak to your child, ask the kind of questions that make him or her think and use the skills that lead to learning


3 simple ways you can help your child learn how to learn and develop a  lifelong love of learning.

Now that wasn’t too scary was it?

If you want to know more sign up for my free report and get weekly tips on how to help your child succeed in school.



What a difference a day makes!


I can read now!

I can read now!

Do you remember this song….?

“What a difference a day makes
Twenty-four little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain”

The song is about falling in love but 24 hours (or only a little longer) can  change rain into sunshine and flowers for children who are struggling to learn.

Jenny is a bright Grade 3 student but she was only reading at Grade 1 level.  She hated reading.  She did whatever she could to avoid it.

No child should hate reading – something had to be done.

An assessment of her learning  showed she was a visual learner who had been taught to read using phonics and was trying to  read by sounding out every word.    No wonder reading was difficult for her.

When she was introduced to a visual approach to learning to read – (looking at the words and the shapes they made) reading began to make sense.

Jenny soared.  In three weeks her reading level went from  Grade 1 to Grade 3!!

Ok – this didn’t happen in 24 hours – but increasing reading level by two whole grades in just three weeks, well, that is even more impressive than falling in love.

I can’t help you fall in love but I can help you make a difference in your child’s learning life.




3 Stress Free Ways to Stop the ‘Summer Slide’.


Avoid the summer slide!

School is out.  Summer is here.

Everyone want to have a good time and that does not include having to do schoolwork!

But all teachers know about the ‘summer slide’ – kids can lose up to three months of learning during the summer.

All because students ‘switch off’ from school type work.

Some students go to summer school. This can help keep them in a ‘thinking mode’.  But what about this kids who don’t go to summer school? What can parents do to help them avoid the summer slide?

I have read several articles that tell parents to buy workbooks and to set a work schedule for their child.  This seems like a lot of work and I doubt parents have the time or energy to follow through.

So here are three simple, practical, ways you can help you child avoid the summer slide and be ready for the new school year.

1.  Talk to your child.

Summer is the perfect time to help your child learn more about the world.  Talk about what is in the news,  what TV programs she likes, what activities he wants to do and why.

Use this time to really get to know more about your child and to help him or her get to know more about you.

2. Expand experiences

Can you take your child to your work for a day?   Can you help him or her get a part-time job?  Set up a schedule for household chores – after negotiating which your child will do and which you will do – and expect him or her to be responsible enough to do them.  Talk about your school life, what you enjoyed and what you didn’t.  Ask about your child’s school life, talk about feelings rather than results.

Summer is the perfect time to learn something new, and to keep the brain active.

3.  Schedule time to be together

Can you set up a family games night once a week?  How about a time to go for a walk or even a time to sit together and read?

Your child needs to know that you are there to support him when he needs help – making time to be together is one of the best ways to do this.



Essential summer planning


Happy kids

Happy kids

Summer is here – time to forget about school and have fun.  But before you do that I want you to spend five minutes reviewing the last school year.


Because only when you know what your child did last year can you plan for a summer of fun AND  learning.  And to achieve that you need to know what support your child needs.

Was your child’s report card all that you expected?  Take five minutes to review the year and to think of three things that you would like to see changed.

It could be something to do with homework – does it take too long or not long enough?  Is your child always rushing to meet a deadline?  Does your child do his or her best work?

It could be an issue with a particular subject – – does your child need catch-up? Or to be taught in a different way?

It could be something about your child’s school – what class will he or she be in next year?  What will be taught?  How can you give your child  ahead start on the year?

Try to pinpoint where things could be better, then schedule a call with me to discuss your concerns and get some answers.

Summer is a great time – but don’t waste it!


A crisis in education – and it affects your child!


I read recently that in Ontario thousands of kids are on the wait list for assessment to determine what support they need in school.


Even when they have been assessed, resources are spread thin and many children will not get the support they need.

Waiting two or three years for an assessment is as useless as many children will be so far behind that they will never catch up.

What can parents do?  How can they ensure their child gets the support that he or she needs, and get it NOW?

Don’t wait until your child’s learning difficulty has become  a learning problem.  Try one of my programs and get the advice and help you need immediately.  Your child deserves it.

Sorry – but I get really upset when i read that children and parents are having to wait years to get a learning assessment.  That is why I created my own – ones that parents can use now to help children learn.



Learning style and potluck dinners

food on table

Who knew that a potluck dinner could teach us about learning?

Potluck dinners are a wonderful North American institution.  They didn’t have them in the UK when I lived there and large dinner parties meant hard work and days of preparation for the host and hostess.  At a potluck people contribute their best dish and everyone benefits from the great food leading to less stress, more sharing and much more enjoyment for all concerned.

Education should take place the same way with people contributing their best skills to help children learn.  Leaving your child’s education to one person, the teacher, is a recipe (no pun intended!) for disaster.  Your child only gets to eat one dish.

Your child needs more than one dish for a healthy life and he needs more than one person to help him succeed in school.

What food for learning are you giving your child?



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