Middle School: Tips for Helping Your Child Adjust

It’s back to school time – can you believe it  – and now that you’ve finished shopping, it’s time to start thinking about how to help your kid have a stellar year.  Lots of times we focus on our kindergartener, but really middle school can be a trying time. This is that age when children start to change from little kids to adults, and they have something of a battle going on inside them. Peers start to mean more, and parents may feel they are losing their influence. But there are some things you can do to help make it easier. Here are some tips for helping your child adjust to middle school.

Talk to Your Child

Have you tried asking your child some questions about his or her concerns about starting middle school? Try having a conversation where you don’t judge or show big reactions, and see if you can discern some of the things she’s concerned about. Try to phrase things positively, putting yourself in the position of helper not critic.

Remember Where Your Child’s Mind Is

You may be thinking only of academic performance and how this new stage will affect it, but did you stop to think about what your child is thinking about most? Do you remember what you were thinking about the most when you were in middle school?

Most kids this age are thinking about their friends, their looks, and boys/girls (whatever the opposite sex is). In other words, they are really much more focused on the social scene and what others think about them than they are about grades. This doesn’t mean you should let grades slide; it just helps you understand why their mindset seems to be changing. It is!

Tour the School

Just like for younger kids getting ready to start Kindergarten, your middle school student will be attending a new place with new teachers and classrooms. He will have lots of teachers – a different one for each subject – rather than one teacher all day.

So take your child for a tour of the school before the first day to help him get oriented. It can be overwhelming to change classes for the first time, trying to find the right classroom, the cafeteria, and so forth. You can help take some of the edge off by touring the school first.

Don’t Change Everything

This is a time of big upheaval for your child. Try to keep some of those comforting family routines and rituals in place as the middle school years roll around. Your child may not act like she values these traditions, but they can really help keep her secure and grounded in the middle of all the change.

Tweet: Middle school muddle? Help your child adjust to this significant transition with these practical tips. LINK

Money-Saving Ideas for School Supply Shopping

A lot of time we talk about back to school shopping in the context of clothes, but haven’t you walked into the office supply store with that list of supplies from the teacher and walked out feeling a whole lot poorer?  Whether we like it or not, school supplies can get expensive. From clothes to pencils, it can cost a bundle to send your kids back to school. There are some things you can do, though, to make it less financially painful. Here are some money-saving ideas for school supply shopping.

What’s Shared and What’s Not

Back when you were in school, your school supplies were yours, and usually consisted of pencils, pens, notebooks and binders, and paper. The school provided things like dry erase markers, paper towels, and chalk. Schools are cutting their budgets these days, though, so you may find yourself buying supplies that will be shared. Check your local school system’s website or give them a call and find out what supplies will be pooled and which ones will belong to your student.

Save on the Shared Items

If you know an item is going to be shared with the whole class, such as binders or dry erase markers, skip the fancy ones. Go with the more generic, cheap types.

Speaking of Sharing…

Consider buying items in bulk with a group. Find other parents and families who can go in with you to purchase supplies. They tend to be much cheaper in bulk, and buying large amounts and dividing them up can help save some money.


Look for coupons on manufacturer’s and retailer’s websites, and check your local newspaper. Combine the coupons with existing sales, and be willing to move on to the next retailer for the next sale rather than buying all your items at one place.

No Sales Tax

Many areas have a “no sales tax” day when you can buy items without this added tax. This is a good time to buy anything big, such as a small fridge for your college student, or electronics. The bigger the item, the more you save on sales tax. (This is another good time to buy in bulk with friends and family.)

Don’t Forget the Dollar Store

Do you have a store where “everything’s a dollar”? If so, go there! You might be able to find a lot of school supplies for a fraction of what you’d pay at a major retailer.

Start Early

There are a couple of advantages to starting your back-to-school shopping early. For one thing, you are more likely to get the supplies you want and need while stock is still plentiful. Another advantage to starting early is the sale prices. May stores have school supplies discounted early, while it’s still in the middle of summer.

Tweet: Need to save money shopping for back-to-school items? Find some great tips to help you save! LINK

Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten

Do you have a kindergartner starting this year – it’s exciting and frightening. What can you do get your child ready for this all important year?l Here are some tips to help you out.


All kinds of sources agree that reading aloud to your child is very important for preparing them – not only for reading on their own, but also for school in general. Old-fashioned nursery rhymes have been shown to be helpful in teaching children about language, phonics, and rhyming. So go to the library and stock up on some age-appropriate books and get to reading together!

Clay Letters

Play with clay and show your child how to form letters out of clay. If you like, start with a word he really likes, such as his own name or the name of a favorite pet or toy. This hands-on, tactile activity helps reinforce the concept of forming letters with the hands, and may help prepare your child for handwriting.


Talk about the names of colors and shapes when you are out and about (or even at home) with your child. Tell her the names of shapes of familiar objects and name the colors. You might play a game of “I spy” to help reinforce this in a fun way. In this game, you say something like, “I spy something red and round,” and then let your child guess what it is. Then your child can choose something and let you guess.

Visit the School and Meet the Teacher

Familiarity can really help your child adjust to kindergarten. See if you can arrange to tour the school and meet the teacher, and hopefully more than once. Let your child see the playground, classroom, and cafeteria of the school.


See what you can do to foster independence in your child before kindergarten. Practice tying shoes (it’s understandable if your child doesn’t master this right away, but it helps to have a start), dressing himself, and using the bathroom alone. If separation is an issue, practice some separations with caregivers before the big day arrives.


We all know not to run with them, but cutting with them is an important school-age skill. Do some fun projects with your child that involve cutting various shapes and lines, from straight to wavy.

Get a Check-Up

Before going to kindergarten, it’s a good idea to visit with your pediatrician for a check-up. Also make sure your child is up-to-date on his vaccinations, and find out what your child’s school requires in this regard.


Back to School Shopping With a Picky Teen

Top Tips for Back-to-School Shopping with a Picky Teen

It’s that time of year again – back to school  And with the little kids, while you can certainly make most of the choices for them, it gets harder and harder to do that as they get older. Teens are picky – and back to school shopping time can be fraught with hard to stomach stuff.  Here are some tips for back-to-school shopping with your picky teen.

Let Them Shop

This doesn’t mean you should give your teen you credit card and drop him or her off at the mall for a few hours! Actually, there is a method to letting your picky teen do his or her own back-to-school shopping, and it can be a positive learning process. Here’s how it works.

Go Through Their Things

With your teen, go through her clothes and determine what she really needs. Get rid of only those clothes that can’t be repaired or are stained permanently, then work on mixing and matching what’s left. Then determine what clothes she needs and make a specific list.


Once you both understand what’s necessary, you can make a budget for those items. Determine what you are willing to pay for each piece of clothing, total it up, and then give your teen the money. Once it’s spent, no more – be firm on this one! You may want to accompany her on this shopping trip to help point out bargains and such, but the point is, she is in charge of planning her purchases and spending the money.

Good Lessons

While you’re doing all this, think of the good life lessons you’ll be teaching your teen. Your teen will learn how to budget his money, and will get a no-frills introduction into the world of financial planning. Remember, once the money is gone, he is not getting any more, so he will have to plan out how he is going to divide up the money to get all the items he wants. Your teen may also be motivated to shop for things on sale or things at second-hand shops once he realizes how much the things he wants actually cost.

Consider letting your teen keep any money that’s left, too. Having a little extra spending money can be a great motivator to find bargains!

Go for Re-Sale

Even picky teens can usually find something at a consignment shop or second-hand store. Name brands are not necessarily hard to come by at these places, and if your teen has a flare for individuality, she might be able to put together a stunning outfit with second-hand clothes and accessories.

Real Kid Friendly Entertainment

Hi RichMamas – this just came across the wire, and I thought it was important (this is as I watch yet anohter Disney Channel original movie, Wendy Wu – Homecoming Warrior – with the kids).

When was the last time you saw a G-rated movie?   Kenn Viselman, the creator of The Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon Adventure (due out “Oogust” 29th) believes in the The Power of Mom. So much so he and his team have been traveling around the country engaging bloggers in conversations about what constitutes quality G-rated entertainment. Other than a few wildlife documentaries and a re-release in a popular children’s movie in 3-D, Hollywood has completely ignored the youngest moviegoer. The best they give us for our kids – animated PG films – are loaded with aggression and bloodshed.


Moms: You have the power to change what Hollywood pushes on your children. In fact, there is no voice more powerful than yours. You control the home, the family budget and your child’s welfare. Aren’t you tired of watching moms die in the first ten minutes of so many animated movies? Aren’t you tired of seeing your children confused by the aggression towards their beloved movie characters? There’s no place for such violence in a children’s movie. Enough is enough.


It’s this “enough is enough” attitude that got Kenn Viselman, the marketing genius who introduced us to Teletubbies, Thomas the Tank Engine, Noddy and Eloise, mad as h*ll. The end result: The Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon Adventure, a film that reinvents the movie-going experience. This film – basically a movie and a live show rolled into one – is the first-of-its-kind interactive family musical that encourages the audience to get out of their seats, dance, and sing. Visual and auditory cues invite the audience to “move” the action along, allowing parents and kids to interact not only with the characters, but also with one another.


The story follows the Oogieloves – Goobie, Zoozie and Toofie – as they prepare for a surprise birthday party for their friend, Schluufy. When their guardian, J. Edgar, loses the last five magical balloons in all of Lovelyloveville, the Oogieloves take action. Along the way, they meet Rosalie Rosebud (Toni Braxton), Dottie Rounder (Cloris Leachman), Lola and Lero Sombrero (Jaime Pressly and Christopher Lloyd), Milky Marvin (Chazz Palminteri), and Bobby Wobbly (Cary Elwes). The movie opens in theaters “Oogust” 29th.