Wednesday, February 29

FAIRMONT FIVE leap year day to-dos

As a working mom of three little kids, I often find myself wishing for an extra hour here and there. This year, my wish is coming true. Well, not quite. It's true that 2012 is leap year and that means the notoriously short month of February gets extended by one day, a Wednesday as it turns out. Unfortunately, I won't be able to horde those extra 24 hours all to myself. Children will need to be fed and bathed and readied for school.  Emails will need to be answered and projects completed on deadline.  And, the household chores I've neglected all winter will still be nipping at my heels. All that said, leap year day only comes around every four years which is a rare enough thing to warrant a little celebration. So, here are some ideas on how to spend at least a few moments of your leap year day:
  1. Take a leap of faith. According to folk tradition, women may propose marriage to men during leap year.  It was a pretty big leap of faith for a woman to take back in the day.  Why not channel all that courage into stepping out into the unknown in your own life?  Maybe it's something as innocuous as painting an accent wall in your living room or as daring as venturing into a new career.  Either way, let the spirit of the day encourage you to be brave.
  2. Enjoy a nap. Just thinking about leap year day makes my head spin with all that I'd like to get accomplished.  While you're loading up your list of to-dos, set aside an hour or two to just relax.  Take a nap, go for a long walk, enjoy a leisurely lunch.  It's okay to be a little lazy every fours years!
  3. Plan your summer vacation. You've been dreaming all winter of the perfect summer vacation. There's no time like today to start making plans.  Book early and you'll be rewarded with greater availability and better rates.
  4. Reconnect with an old friend. Most would agree that friendship is one of the most valuable things in life.  Don't let the day go by without picking up the phone to chat with an old friend you've been meaning to connect with for weeks, months or even years.
  5. Do one thing you love.  It might be starting the day with your favorite hot beverage or pulling out the craft supplies for an evening of creativity.  Whatever floats your boat, plan to do something on this special, extra day that makes you happy. Because even though this year is one day longer, life is much too short!
Cartoon copied from The Week

Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Tuesday, February 28

SNACK TIME national heart health month

February is National Heart Health Month, dedicated to celebrating healthy heart habits, raising awareness about heart disease and increasing knowledge about prevention.

To a young child or teen, learning and practicing good health and hygiene (brushing teeth, hand washing, and healthy eating habits) are life skills that foster physical and mental development. Cultivating positive food habits begins with recognizing which foods are most beneficial and having those foods available during meal and snack times.

For a recap of heart-healthy foods that work specifically to lower risk for heart disease or help promote heart health see below:
  • Whole grains: such as whole grain cereals, whole grain breads, whole grain (brown) rice, or whole grain pasta
  • Fiber: found in vegetables, fruits, whole grain products. Note: juice does not contain a significant source of fiber
  • B vitamins: (found in meats, whole grains, vegetables, and nuts)
  • Monounsaturated fats: found in olive oil, nuts, and unprocessed peanut and/or almond butter
  • Soy protein: found in tofu, soy-milk, edamame, soy-based foods such as meat alternatives, and soy-based nutrition bars
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: found in seafood, fish oil, or fortified foods. For children who don’t like to eat fish, fruit-flavored omega-3 supplements such as gummy bears or pudding-like supplements are available. See for examples.

Secondly, families who regularly eat meals together tend to eat more balanced, healthier meals. Research shows that a child's preference for certain foods is dependent on the foods availability in the home. For example, children raised in homes where fruits and vegetables are readily available are more likely to prefer these foods.

So, planning ahead and having heart-healthy foods available at mealtimes are powerful ways to nurture good nutrition habits that continue through adulthood.  You’re never too young (or too old) to make dietary changes that can influence the course of a diet- and lifestyle-related disease.

Contributed by Leslie K. Kay-Getzinger, MS, RD, Regional Dietitian for Nutrition Management Services

(Image from Heartstrong

Monday, February 27

cyber safety...A to Z

Today's children are digital natives--they grow up surrounded by and depending on technology. It's now common to see three-year-olds in restaurants playing on iPads. Times are changing, and fast! 

With all this technology available, it's not surprising that children start using the Internet at a young age. While the Internet is an incredible resource, it can also be very dangerous if kids don't know how to navigate safely. 

Check out these statistics from Net Lingo
  • 4,000,000 children are posting content to the Web everyday
  • 15,000,000 youth use Instant Messaging
  • 76% of parents don't have rules about what their kids can do on the computer
  • 65% of parents believe that kids do things online that they wouldn't want their parents to know about
  • One third of kids have been contacted by a stranger and half of these were considered inappropriate
  • 20% of children age 10-17 have been solicited sexually online; that's 1 out of every 5 kids 
  • 89% of sexual solicitations are made in either chat rooms or Instant Messages
  • 75% of youth who received an online sexual solicitation did not tell a parent
  • 9 out of 10 parents will never know that any inappropriate contact has occurred

Shocking, right? Internet safety is uncharted parenting territory, but the need for clear safety rules to keep kids protected cannot be ignored. Here are our top two tips for getting started: 
  • Define the Rules Early. Each parent and household is different, but having a conversation with your children before they are allowed to access the Internet independently is a good starting point. During this conversation you can make your rules, and the consequences for breaking those rules, very clear. 
  • Be Engaged and Monitor. Even the best rules won't stick without enforcement. Make sure your children know that you are interested in what they are doing online. Ask them what websites they think are best and why. Follow up an open dialogue by monitoring your child's activity and asking questions about anything that may seem questionable. 
To learn more about Internet safety from the experts, we invite you to join us at our upcoming Chalk Talk with Monique Nelson of Web Wise Kids, an OC-based non-profit dedicated to helping keep kids safe online. The Chalk Talk will be held this Wednesday, February 29th from 7-8:30pm at our Mable Campus. Learn more and RSVP here

(Image from

Contributed by Alyssa, Fairmont Private Schools 

Friday, February 24

FRIDAY FOLDER february 24

Highlights From This Week
Upcoming Chalk Talk: How To Keep Your Kids Safe Online 
Wednesday, February 29, 7-8:30pm
Location: Fairmont Mable Campus

The Internet offers limitless opportunities for young learners, but it can be a dangerous place if children lack key safety rules. Join Monique Nelson, Chief Operating Officer of OC-based Web Wise Kids to learn how to keep your kids safe as they surf the web. Young children are welcome, child care will be provided. 
Click here to RSVP

Anaheim Hills American Cancer Society Relay Recess 
The Anaheim Hills campus is excited to be hosting the American Cancer Society's Relay Recess the week of March 5-9.  The American Cancer Society Relay Recess brings education and community service to your child's classroom in a fun and exciting way that allows students to help save lives from cancer.  Through our Relay Recess program, your child will learn about cancer and steps they can take to reduce their risk of developing the disease and stay well. Learn more in the Anaheim Hills newsletter. 

Peer to Peer Days at Fairmont Prep 
On Friday, March 9th (Anaheim Hills) and March 16th(Mable & Edgewood), our 7th grade students will visit Fairmont Prep for Peer to Peer Day. Our students will get a taste of the high school life as they sit on a class, tour the campus and enjoy themed "Around the World Days" activities. Check the weekly newsletters below for the full schedule. Please be sure your student's permission slip has been signed and returned to make sure he or she can attend Peer to Peer Day.

Weekly E-Newsletters 

February Lunch Menus 

Contributed by Alyssa, Fairmont Private Schools 

Thursday, February 23

HOW TO toy & clothing donations

Sometimes no matter how much spring cleaning you do, there's just too much stuff to organize! Between the toys, stuffed animals, clothes, shoes, books, etc., children's rooms can become cluttered in no time. Having more stuff than can fit on the shelves or in the closet can make kids feel overwhelmed and unwilling to help clean. 

Fortunately, you can avoid this conundrum and teach your kids the importance of sharing and giving back by encouraging them to donate their unused clothes and toys on a regular basis. Whether you donate once or twice a year, or every time a new toy joins the toy box, you'll help your child become more compassionate and generous by limiting his or her belongings to only the essentials and sharing the rest with others. 

There are tons of local organizations that accept donations throughout the year. Here's a quick list to get you started: 
  • Goodwill of Orange County has donation locations across the county and also offers a pick-up service. 
  • Salvation Army in Anaheim accepts all donations and will send someone to come pick them up. 
  • Children's Bureau of Southern California accepts specifically kids toys, clothes and educational activities. 
Click here for more donation locations, and remember that friends and family members are also great for re-appreciating an underused toy or sweater. 

Image from A Child Grows in Brooklyn

Contributed by Alyssa, Fairmont Private Schools 

Wednesday, February 22

FAIRMONT FIVE eco-friendly cleaning products

 The vintage-inspired packaging of this old-school cleanser makes it a spring cleaning favorite!

Spring doesn't officially start until next month, but that's no excuse to procrastinate on your spring cleaning. If you're not yet in the mood to roll up your sleeves and get down to the dirty work, you might consider a little retail therapy in advance of spring cleaning season. This year, try stocking your toolkit with eco-friendly products that are easy on the environment while still being tough on the yucky stuff. Here's our shopping list:  
  1. Bon Ami Powder Cleanser--this mildly abrasive cleanser is eco-friendly from it's biodegradable formula to it's recycled and recyclable packaging and it works wonders on bathtubs and kitchen sinks.
  2. Method All Purpose Cleaning and Disinfecting Wipes--okay, so this may not be the best product for heavy duty cleaning, but it's great to have these handy wipes around for touch-ups in the bathroom, kitchen, you name it. The thyme-based disinfectant kills 99.9% of household germs, naturally!
  3. Vinegar--Go for the big gallon jug of white distilled vinegar since you can use this all-natural cleanser and disinfectant for everything from polishing glass to unclogging drains to cleaning hard surface flooring.
  4. Green Works Toilet Bowl Cleaner--It's not our favorite chore, but somebody's got to do it! The packaging of this 99% naturally derived gel cleanser allows you to target hard-to-reach spots under the rim.
  5. Seventh Generation All-Purpose Cleaner--This non-toxic, VOC-free formula removes grease, grime and dirt without creating harsh fumes. And it works great on marble, granite, stainless steel and many other surfaces.

Happy Spring Cleaning!
photo from

Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools 

Tuesday, February 21

ARTS & CRAFTS chore dice

We hope you enjoy this simple craft idea from Family Fun magazine, just in time for spring cleaning!

Chore Dice
Household chores can be a bore, so add some excitement to the work with homemade dice designed just for your family's cleanup duties.

Pen or pencil

1. To make each cube, transfer the pattern shown here onto stiff paper or card stock (or you can print a template).
2. Next, write one household chore in each square. For extra fun, you can also label some of the squares "Free" (for a day off), "Choice" (to let players pick their own jobs), or "Trade" (to let the roller swap one task for a job belonging to another family member).
3. Cut out the shape and fold along the dotted lines. Dot the tabs with glue and form the paper into a cube, pressing together the tabs and faces to secure them in place. Let the glue dry. Repeat with more cubes for more tasks, if needed.
4. On your next chore day, take turns tossing the dice until all the jobs have been assigned.

Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Monday, February 20

organizing kids rooms...A to Z

Corral your kid's stuff with the Storagepalooza collection from Land of Nod.
Urgh, you know the feeling. The toys have been piling up since the holidays.  Worn and outgrown clothing is taking up valuable closet and dresser space. Art and school work is stuffed here and there.  Dust-bunnies have moved in under the bed.  It's time to get organized. 

Try as we might to get our kids to clean their rooms on a more or less regular basis, there comes a time when mom (or dad) needs to step in for some hard-core organization.  Here are some tips from Organized Home to help get you going in the right direction:

Take a child's eye view
Get down to your child's eye level to help him or her get organized. Look at your child's space, storage, furniture and possessions from his or her vantage point. Adult furniture and organizing systems don't translate well to children's needs. Sticky dresser drawers are hard for small hands to manage. Folding closet doors pinch fingers and jump their rails when pushed from the bottom. To organize a child's room, solutions must fit the child. For younger children, remove closet doors entirely. Lower clothing rods and invest in child-sized hangers. Use floor-level open containers to hold toys, open plastic baskets to store socks and underwear.

Bring the child into the process
Resist the urge to wade into the mess alone, garbage bags flying. Gritted teeth and threats of "You will keep this room clean!" don't touch the root of the problem: teaching children organization skills and maintenance methods. Partnered with your child, you stand a better chance of devising an organization scheme and system that makes sense to him or her. If they're involved in the effort, children are better able to understand the organizational logic and maintain an organized room.

Sort, store and simplify
Begin with clothing: sort it out! Store out-of-season or outgrown clothing elsewhere. Finally, simplify! Does your son really wear all 27 T-shirts crowding his drawer? Remove the extras so the remainder can stay neat and orderly in the available space.  For younger children, a toy library is the answer to over-abundant toys. Using a large lidded plastic storage container, large box or even plastic garbage bag, entrust a selection of toys to the "toy library." Store the container in an out-of-the way place for several months. Some rainy day, bring out the toy library, swapping the stored toys for other playthings that have lost their savor. The stored toys will have regained their interest and freshness--and they won't have been underfoot in the child's room.

Contain, corral and control
Contain toys and other belongings before you store. Use plastic shoebox containers for smaller toys (Barbie clothes, Happy Meal give-aways), larger lidded bins for blocks, trucks and cars, light-weight cardboard records boxes for stuffed animals. Use specialty organizers to corral magazines and comic books, video games, or CDs and cassette tapes.  A bonus: containers help parents control the number of toys out at any one time: "Sure, you can play with the farm set, just as soon as the Matchbox cars go back into their home!"

Make it easier to put away, harder to get out
The premier rule for efficient children's storage? Make it easier to put something away than it is to get it out. For example, store picture books as a flip-file, standing upright in a plastic dishpan. The child flips through the books, makes his selection, and tosses the book in the front of the dishpan when he's done. Compare a traditional bookcase, where little fingers can pull down a whole shelf faster than they can replace one book. Build the effort into the getting out, not the putting away.

Organize bottom to top
Befitting a child's shorter stature, start organizing from the bottom of the room, and work to the top. Most used toys and belongings should live on lower shelves, in lower drawers, or on the floor. Higher levels are designated for less-frequently-used possessions.  Working bottom to top, the best-loved teddy bear sits in a small rocker on the floor, while the extensive Grandma-driven bear collection is displayed on a shelf built 6 feet up the wall.

Label, label, label
When it comes to keeping kids' rooms organized for the long haul, labels save the day!

Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Friday, February 17

FRIDAY FOLDER february 17

Highlights From This Week
Edgewood Cheers for a Cure
The Edgewood Eagle's Cheer for a Cure!  On February 4th the cheer team traveled to Universal Studios Hollywood to not only compete, but raise money for cancer research!  The team was able to take first place at the competition! With the help from family, friends, and their schoolmates, the squad was able to raise over $1,200 for the organization!  It was a great day for the girls to show their school spirit and to raise the hopes of finding a cure for this horrible disease!  The cheerleaders will be competing at Best of the West in Long Beach for their final competition on March 11th.  Go Eagles!

Mable Visits Environmental Nature Center 

This week the 2nd grade students went on a fun and educational field trip to the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach. They pretended to be detectives as they followed a trail looking for evidence of any animal activity. Among the evidence discovered were pieces of snakeskin and animal burrows. The students also searched for decomposers, studied the life cycle of toads, learned about various plants, and visited the ENC's "Green" building. The students learned many new and interesting facts from this hands-on, engaging learning experience, in which all of their senses were involved.

Anaheim Hills Welcomes Chinese Student Visitors
Twelve international students have been visiting the Anaheim Hills campus for a five week intensive course in US History. They are staying with Fairmont host families, and they plan to attend US Universities in the near future. It's been a great opportunity for the students at Anaheim Hills to interact with these visitors. We are so glad they could enjoy some music making with the 4th Graders, read more about their stay in the Anaheim Hills newsletter.

Citron Students Visit Mable Campus 
Citron Kindergarteners traveled once again to the Mable Campus today. They rotated around the specialty classes - Art with Mrs. Gormin, Computers with Ms. Kelbaugh, Science with Mrs. Baham and Library with Ms. Lloyd and Ms. Kuka. They then had pizza with their First Grade buddies in the Mable cafeteria. The Mable Campus can't wait to welcome these little ones next year. 

Weekly E-Newsletters 

February Lunch Menus 

Contributed by Alyssa, Fairmont Private Schools 

Thursday, February 16

HOW TO identify kindergarten readiness

Is your child ready for Kindergarten? The skill sets that Kindergarten teachers are looking for may surprise you. You might think it’s important for children to enter Kindergarten knowing their ABCs, numbers, shapes and colors so they can keep up with the curriculum. While teachers love children who come having mastered letter and number recognition, just as much emphasis is placed on the following:
  • Good listening skills. Loves listening to stories. Answers questions about a story. Hears and identifies letter sounds in words. Detects rhyming words and patterns. Concentrates on what the teacher is saying. Listens carefully for directions. Follows 3-step directions.
  • Strong fine motor skills. Correct pencil grasp. Forms letters and numbers, and writes first name. Weaves and threads objects. Colors a simple picture. Cuts on a line. Copies simple shapes. Has mastered practical life skills i.e. buttons, zippers, and fasteners on clothing. Also beginning to learn to tie shoes.
  • Solid oral language skills. Has a strong knowledge about their world. Uses words to convey needs, feelings, likes and dislikes. Uses language/words in the correct context. Identifies letter sounds. Responds to questions in complete sentences. Retells a story in own words.
  • Ability to play with others. Invites other to play through conversation and body language. Communicates with others by expressing personal wants. Understands and respects rules--often asks permission. Takes turns and shares (toys and attention with others. Shows self-control by using words instead of hands. Pretends while playing (combines fantasy and reality). Is silly, playful and happy. Plays through gross motor skills (jumping, climbing, etc.)
  • Enthusiasm for learning. Asks questions. Participates in activities. Becomes engaged in lessons. Wants to come to school. Is developing a habit of cooperation. Is curious and wants to investigate. Is willing to take risks and not afraid of making mistakes. Shows independence.

Watch your child's behavior and look for these key signs to ensure that he or she is ready to transition to "the big school." Starting Kindergarten when the child is truly ready is one of the first key steps towards academic success. 

Contributed by Rae Douglas, Citron Campus Director & Sheryl Reynolds, Edgewood Campus Admissions Director 

(Image from Mindful Meals)

Wednesday, February 15

SCHOOL NEWS kindergartners featured in oc register

"Four score and seven years ago..." starts one of the most famous speeches in American History and Ms. Bauman's kindergartners know every line by heart.  Dressed as little Lincoln's, the class presented the Gettysburg Address at the Fairmont Expo last month and were invited by Mayor Tom Tait to perform it at last week's city council meeting.  Parents, teachers, fellow Citron students and press from the OC Register were in attendance at Friday's on-campus presentation.  You don't want to miss the Register's coverage including a photo gallery and video posted online.

We couldn't be prouder of our pint-sized presidents or of their teacher who has passed down her own love of country to successive generations of future leaders.

photo credit: OC Register

Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Tuesday, February 14

BOOK REPORT somebody loves you, mr. hatch

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch
By Eileen Spinelli

Mr. Hatch woke up every morning at 6:30am and headed in to work at the shoelace factory. He went about his regular routine eating cheese sandwiches, drinking coffee, reading the paper, buying a single turkey wing for dinner night after night. He kept to himself. Nothing much was happening in Mr. Hatch’s life; until, one Saturday, when the postman arrived on his doorstep with a mysterious package.

This is a story about what happens when Mr. Hatch discovers that somebody loves him. And, in a larger sense, it’s about the power of love. Without giving the story away, things get a lot more interesting for Mr. Hatch once he discovers that somebody loves him. Kids (and adults) of all ages will enjoy this book as it appeals to the Mr. Hatch in all of us. And, it may just encourage you and your children to find ways you can extend love and kindness to the “forgotten” people in your own lives.

If you’re feeling a little jaded this Valentine season, check out Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch from your local library or watch this great video of actor Hector Elizondo reading the book. Unlike indulging in a heart-shaped box of chocolates, you won’t regret it!

Photo credit:

Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Monday, February 13

SHORT STORY 100th day of school

Today is the 100th Day of the School Year! Per tradition, the Kindergartners at our Anaheim Hills Campus are celebrating by sporting their unique "100 Things" T-Shirts. From bugs to eyes to bows to bling, every year the students get super creative thinking up ways to fit 100 things on a t-shirt. Making the tee gives them lots of time to practice counting too! 

Contributed by Alyssa, Fairmont Private Schools 

Friday, February 10

FRIDAY FOLDER february 10

Highlights From This Week
Mable Boys Tri-Way Basketball Named League Champions! 
Let's see some Panther pride! Congrats to our tri-way boys basketball team who defeated the Calvary Eagles from Calvary Christian School last night to become the 2012 UNDEFEATED League Champions! It was a close game, but the Panthers came out victorious with a final score of 62-44. We're so proud of our team! Check out an awesome video recapping the season on the Mable Facebook page.  

Citron Kindergartners Present the Gettysburg Address 
On Tuesday, Mrs. Bauman's Kindergarten class was invited to present the Gettysburg Address at the Anaheim City Council meeting. The whole class attended, sporting their Abraham Lincoln costumes, and wow'd the audience with their memorization and presentation skills--the students even got a standing ovation! If you missed the performance, check out the video on YouTube.

Open House Season Is Here
It's that time of year--Open House season! Fairmont's Open Houses kick off next week at the Anaheim Hills campus. Check out the list of dates below and learn how to make the most of the night in this blog post

  • Anaheim Hills Campus - February 17, 6-8pm 
  • Edgewood Campus - February 24, 6-8pm 
  • Mable Campus - March 9, 6-8pm 
  • Citron Campus - March 16, 5:30-7:30pm

Edgewood Takes Third in Debate Tournament 
The Edgewood Debate Team came in 3rd place, on Saturday, Februaray 4th at the Fairmont Prep OCDL tournament. Here are the results of the tournament:

Overall School Award:
Edgewood: 3rd place

Team Award:
Edgewood MNL (Amanda M., Sonali N., Lauren L.): 6th place

Individual Awards:
Lauren L. - 7th
Amanda M. - 9th
Timothy K. - 11th
Sonali N. - 12th
Meghana K. - 23rd
Sophie W. - 24th

Weekly E-Newsletters 

February Lunch Menus 

Contributed by Alyssa, Fairmont Private Schools 

Thursday, February 9

SNACK TIME valentines treat

We love all the heart-shaped and sparkly sprinkles out there for Valentine's Day, and we love baking projects the kids can help out with--so we REALLY love this Family Kitchen recipe that combines the two. The dipped pretzels are easy to bring to school for class parties or have out on the counter for after-school snacks.

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels for Valentine’s Day Recipe
1 bag of pretzel rods
regular and white chocolate almond bark
Valentine’s Day themed sprinkle candies

1. Melt almond bark in microwave according to package directions. Dip pretzels in chocolate. We spooned the chocolate onto the pretzels to get the pretzels more covered in the chocolate.
2. Sprinkle with candy sprinkles right after dipping pretzels in chocolate. Lay on wax or parchment paper and let harden.

Try out the recipe this weekend and let us know what you think! 

Contributed by Alyssa, Fairmont Private Schools 

Wednesday, February 8

CHALK TALK what every parent should know (pt 2)

Last week, we began a three-part series of posts re-capping our Chalk Talk on the topic "What Every Parent Should Know Before Your Child Turns 18." Our first post covered the various modes of learning. This week we were fortunate to have one of our speakers, educational consultant Rajeshri Gandhi, guest blog for us on the topic of self-efficacy. Please enjoy her contribution below. 

The Little Engine that Could, a manifestation of self efficacy.
The popular children’s book, The Little Engine that Could, is a great example of the power of a strong sense of self efficacy.  Self efficacy, a central component to psychologist Albert Bandera’s social cognitive theory, can be described as one’s belief in him/herself to succeed in difficult situations.  Believing in one’s ability to succeed in the face of challenge makes it more likely that a person will actually attempt the future challenge and will be successful in that attempt. Developing a strong sense of self efficacy is instrumental to long term success and achieving potential.  People with a strong sense of self efficacy tend to seek out rather than avoid challenges, have stronger investment and engagement to the tasks at hand and demonstrate resilience in the face of setbacks.

In The Little Engine that Could, a small, inexperienced engine helps a broken down train full of toys, food and other goods.  This little engine is the fourth one that is asked to help and does so after three seemingly stronger, fitter engines have refused.  The main sources of power that this little engine draws upon is her own willingness to try/take a risk, the support of her peers (the toys and dolls that cheer her on,) and her own belief in herself (I think I can-I think I can.)  Each of these attributes articulates key components in developing self efficacy.

Children begin developing their sense of self efficacy early in life and parents can foster its strength with consistent and deliberate efforts.  In addition to continually giving positive verbal reinforcement, parents should seek out activities that their child can master so that they can know what success feels like.  It is equally important to provide children with increasing levels of challenge so that they feel as though they have earned/achieved success as they master more difficult tasks.  This confidence will help a child to regroup in the face of failure and try again. A parent’s own success can be inspiring to a child and parents can serve as great role models of success through their actions, their attitudes and how they deal with challenge.  If a parent shows confidence when tackling a difficult task and demonstrates resilience in the face of failure, the child will learn the same attitude.  

Teaching children how to face difficult tasks is another important step in building strong self efficacy.  Sometimes parents tend to have their children avoid situations that might be difficult.  While all of us have times in which our confidence is challenged or we would rather not do something out of fear or fear of failure, it is important that we not let that fear overtake our judgment.  It is important for parents to know their child’s limits, but use that knowledge to help them learn how to handle challenges and take risks.  Risk taking is an important learning experience to help children learn how to overcome obstacles and work towards success, knowing that they may not achieve it initially.  The engine in the story was moved by the need for the goods to reach the other side of the mountain and her sense of wanting to help allowed her to overcome her fear of not being successful.  She also felt very good about herself because she was successful at a task that other engines didn’t even attempt.

Be aware of what you say and how you say it.  Give your child verbal encouragement and always demonstrate your belief if his/her ability to succeed.  Emphasize preparation, confidence, attitude and other attributes that a child can control so that the child can use this positive reinforcement to power their actions and learn how to motivate and encourage him/herself.  If a child does not succeed, help him/her diagnose what to do differently the next time and encourage another attempt with the belief of success.  The engine in the story explained to the toys and goods that she was inexperienced and not sure of her strength, but the encouragement from those toys was enough to get her to try to succeed and in the process, she learned to be her own cheerleader.

Contributed by Rajeshri Gandhi, Educational Consultant 

Tuesday, February 7

ARTS & CRAFTS make your own valentine cards

Something about Valentine’s Day brings out the little girl in me!  I just love all the red and pink, the cute conversation hearts, and the delicate paper lace doilies.  How glorious it was to sit down at my family’s kitchen table, scissors and glue stick at the ready, for an afternoon of glittery abandon making Valentine's Day cards. Now, I’ve got two of my own little cherubs to share in the fun.  I hope these ideas inspire you to sit down with your kids for a Valentine's Day-inspired card crafting extravaganza.
Can I get a hand for this great idea?!  Have your child trace his/her own hand on construction paper, cut the hand shape out with kid-friendly scissors, and then add a personalized message.  This is one of many clever Valentine's Day card ideas from Martha Stewart Living.
For card-making fun without the fuss, try kits like this one from Paper Source.  With all the components to make 20 fun animal Valentines (5 of each 4 designs), this card kit lets your kids get creative making adorable ladybugs, kittens, puppies and bees. And moms won't have to worry about gathering up supplies in advance.

Shopping for card-making supplies can jump-start your creativity.  Restock your craft cabinet with goodies (like this vintage-inspired rubber stamp) from your local crafts store or check out the great stamps, punches, stickers and more at ekSuccess.

Photo at top from Microsoft Office photo gallery
Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools

Monday, February 6

HOW TO make the most of open house

Open House season is here!  That means it's time for students and their teachers to "show off" everything that has been going on since school started in the fall.  No one loves Open House more than moms and dads who can't wait to be wowed by all of the incredible work on display. With that in mind, here are a few Dos and Don'ts to get the most out of your Open House experience.

DO let your child guide you around the classroom and campus to any special displays or presentations. Pay special attention as he or she shares personal work with you. This is a precious opportunity to say "great job" and to reinforce the life lesson that hard work pays off.

DON'T compare your child's work with that of his or her classmates. Every child is unique with his or her own strong suits.  I know it's tempting to wonder out loud why your child's handwriting isn't as neat as Susie's, but now is not the time. If something really concerns you, schedule a conference to talk it over with your child's teacher. 

DO make a point of praising your child's teacher.  Let him or her know how great the room looks and how impressed you are with all of the student work on display.  Open House is a big night for teachers, who, in my opinion, don't get enough kudos for all that they do.  Let your child's teacher know how much you appreciate his or her hard work in preparation of Open House and throughout the year.

DON'T pull your child's teacher aside for an impromptu conference.  You'll put the teacher in an awkward position and you won't get his or her undivided attention.  If something is on your mind, plan to discuss it at a more appropriate time.

DO visit other classrooms including the rooms of teachers in the next grade up from your child's current grade.  This is a wonderful time for you and your child to check out what it's like to "move-up" to the next grade.  You'll also have an opportunity to meet art, music, science lab and other specialty teachers and find out a little more about what goes on in these programs.

DON'T forget to bring your camera so you can post some awesome pictures on Facebook the day after the big night!

Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools