Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Parenting Resource: Learning at Home

Did you realize that you're building your child's cognitive foundation as you read bedtime stories and talk about your day? Our guest blog poster today, Rhonda Cratty, helps us to understand the importance of helping children learn to summarize. Below is an excerpt from Rhonda Cratty's Learning at Home. You can find links to the book at the bottom of this post. Many thanks to Rhonda for sharing her expertise with us.

Teaching your child to summarize is an excerpt from Learning at Home by Rhonda Cratty.

Teaching your Child to Summarize
Teaching children to summarize is no small task. Summarizing is one of the hardest strategies for children to grasp because it requires time and lots of practice. Your child needs to see and hear summarizing modeled. Summarizing is such a valuable strategy it is well worth a few small moments as you read those good night stories.

What is Summarizing?
Summarizing is how we take the gist, the key ideas, the main points that are worth noting and remembering out of a text.

What are We Doing When We Summarize?
When we summarize, we focus on the heart of the work. We try to find the key words and phrases that manage to capture the main idea of what we have read. 

What are Reasonable Summarizing Goals for Children?
-Pull out main ideas
-Focus on key details
-Use only key words and phrases
-Write only enough to convey the main idea
-Take succinct but complete notes of larger ideas

Strategies for Practicing Summarizing
-Have your child practice verbalizing summaries of familiar or interesting topics, such as "What I did during a sport or music practice," or "What I did at school today."
-After you finish reading picture books, use key words or phrases to identify who, what, when, where, why, or how in the story. Who is the story about? What did the characters do?
-Keep a reading diary. If parents do the writing and children do the thinking, this should take just a few minutes.
-Write the title of the book, date and a headline for the story. By summarizing in a headline, your child will begin to sort out main ideas from details of the text. Do not require sentences. Keep it under six words each evening.
-As you read non-fiction, help your child to recognize that sub-titles are summaries. 
-Summarize the lyrics from a favorite song or poem.
-Summarize a movie, field trip, party.

Summarizing is more than retelling it is a higher level of thinking. It involves analyzing information, distinguishing important from unimportant elements then translating large chunks of information into a few short cohesive sentences. Fiction and non-fiction texts, media, conversations, internet information, and events are sources to practice summarizations. Summarizing is an important skill. With the digital age, and the speed at which our children receive new information, summarizing will be imperative to the adults of tomorrow.
Working with summarizing is truly about equipping your children to be lifelong learners.

Learning at Home by Rhonda Cratty is a new parent resource filled with ideas to help children become the best they can be. Daily activities for family fun, that make subjects become more than pencil and paper, moving learning into everyday life. Learning at home can be purchased in print ($8.48) or eBook($4.48) form through

For more information please see

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Park Days

Summer is almost here, and if your babysitting co-op needs a little social rejuvenation, plan a few park days for the summer. Park days are informal get-togethers where co-op parents and kids can spend some time enjoying the sun and getting to know each other better. This is also a good time to find new neighborhood families if you're looking for a few new members.

To organize summer park days, choose a few specific times when you can meet at a local park. Then send out text messages or emails to inform everyone of the dates. Here's an example:

Sandhills Babysitting Co-op Park Day

We're meeting at Moser Park for some play time and fun!

When: Fridays in June
What Time: 11:30
Where: Moser Park, corner of Washington & 22nd

Bring a lunch and join us for an hour or two of play time. There's a sandbox, so bring sand toys if you want. Invite friends or neighbors who might be interested in joining our babysitting co-op. See you there!

Make sure you don't schedule your park days over an existing babysitting shift, or someone will be stuck at home while you're all enjoying yourselves in the sunshine. Summer park days are also a great time for school-age kids to feel like they're a part of the babysitting co-op as well. You may find yourself looking forward to park days as much as your kids do!