March is Read Aloud Month!

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It’s Kindergarten registration time!!!

It’s THAT time of the year pre-K parents – Kindergarten registration! There is so much for you to be thinking about and lots of questions to ask. I remember being in your exact same position all the way back (wink! wink!) in February of 2000. My first child was in pre-K and all of the parents were talking about this process I knew nothing about. Mind you… I was then a stay at home Mom with years of teaching under my belt – I had even taught Kindergarten at this point! But for some reason in my mind, these rules just didn’t apply to me. I did not realize that I needed to be thinking months and months in advance for my then four year old’s future. The thoughts and questions that ran through my mind were probably very similar to many of the same ones you may have. However, you are raising your children in a very different world than I was at that time and your concerns have morphed into many of the same concerns that parents have today. I was concerned with curriculum, full day versus half day, proximity, reputation of the school, private versus public and what families I may have known at different schools. Today’s parents are post 9/11 parents where the issue and threat of security is on every parent’s mind every single day. I have been back in the classroom for many years now and the questions that I am getting are the same ones of yesteryear but there are more. What is your security policy? Do teachers carry their cell phones at all times? Do you practice lock down drills with the children? Can you tell me about your standardized testing procedures? What is your evaluation process? What is your opinion on summer/late birthdays and should we hold our child back? Are you a Blue Ribbon school and are you Middle States accredited? It’s exhausting….for you! I don’t envy you parents. There is so much more pressure and way too much to worry about. Let me help you and put your mind at ease. Regrading security issues – I don’t personally know of a single school that has not implemented some sort of security policy that most parents are comfortable with . That being said, it is your right and obligation to ask the questions – this is your baby after all. You’ve got to feel safe and comfortable with the environment in which your child will spend a huge portion of their day. Many of you have expressed your concern about Kindergarten readiness. What should my child know before coming in to Kindergarten in September and what should I be doing with them over the summer? I give the same answer to every parent and here it goes. Every single child is different. I BEG of you – don’t listen to other parents! Their child is not your child. Some will come into Kindergarten reading and some will not know all of their letters. Some can sit and focus for hours at a time and some can’t sit still for five minutes. Some will share beautifully and take turns and some will make a different kid cry every day. This is the nature of Kindergarten and this is where the role of the Kindergarten teacher comes into play. It is my job to see each of my students as individuals and meet their needs, whatever they may be. It is my job to bridge the gap in the classroom and get everyone on their social,emotional and academic way. Childhood is a journey – not a race. Be part of and enjoy the journey – you only go down this road once. Please check out my newly published book called “Lessons Learned: The Kindergarten Survival Guide for Parents”. I’ve shared everything I’ve learned as a teacher and a mother. It is suitable for parents and teachers of all ages. Good luck with registration and enjoy your “Lessons”! #Amazon #BarnesandNoble

Getting Ready for School

I hate to even say the “S” word just yet, really I do. We haven’t even taken vacation yet! But as each day passes I hear that little voice telling me that it’s time to at least START thinking about getting ready for school.  Now if only I could find that list that the teacher gave me in June that perfectly spelled out everything I need to get my child ready  for September…. I wasn’t even going to buy a single pencil, crayon or notebook yet but everywhere I go there are “Back to School” signs and they are making me nervous! So now I find myself picking up things here and there so as to avoid the mad rush that will ensue within just a few weeks. Getting ready entails, backpacks, lunchboxes , school supplies, clothing, shoes, sneakers, haircuts….STOPPP!!!!! I’d rather be in the sunscreen aisle and packing up our bathing suits. Truth be told – I’m doing a little bit of both at the same time and it honestly feels a little weird. But like I said, it’s that nagging voice in the back of my head that keeps reminding me that I have a lot to do and get ready for. But what about the mental preparation? What about those parents that are trying to get their heads around the fact that their child is starting Kindergarten? (or the grown up version in my son’s case – college) How do you prepare for that? I keep finding myself having mental flashbacks of summers from so long ago when my son was an adorable little towhead with his shovel and pail. Now he’s a handsome young man with a Jeep who could use a shave…. How am I going to get ready to send him off to college? Here’s my plan (and this is based on my many years of teaching and a master’s degree in education) ….denial! Yup, that’s my plan and I’m sticking to it! Brilliant, right? At least until we return from our family time together, I am just going to be present and in the moment. I am going to take physical pictures as well as mental pictures. I am going to enjoy each day together and be grateful for time with my family. I am going to do this everyday for a week straight and I am not going to get too emotional until I absolutely can’t keep it together anymore. Whether you’re headed for the kindergarten classroom. a college campus or anywhere in between – the best way to get ready for school, is to enjoy each and every day leading up to it with the people you love and that make you happy. I hope you are all doing that somewhere right now – enjoy the rest of your summer. I plan on doing the same.

Connecting in NYC with Kidz Central Station!

I was given an incredible opportunity to connect with thousands of families throughout the five boroughs of NYC, when I was approached by the CEO of Kidz Central Station to write for their blog and to be interviewed for their “Head of the Class Mom” portion of their website. What a great way to also get the word out about my new book “Lessons Learned: The Kindergarten Survival Guide For Parents” – Check it out! #thankyouKCS

http://blog.kidzcentralstation.com/head-of-the-class-mom/jeannie-podest/

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Sleep Away Camp = College Drop Off Training

I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself…everything was just fine in my house and summer as we know it would be just like any other summer – until I got the idea in my head that my youngest was ready for sleep away camp. Why? Why – I ask myself. Why did I think this was such a brilliant idea when none of his three siblings ever went to sleep away camp before at his age? I’m starting to think I’m a bit of a sadist. Did I mention that I am in a perpetual,fragile state to begin with as my oldest child AND my niece/goddaughter are preparing for their first year of college – as in leaving home. As in – my family is about to change, BIG TIME…did I mention that I HATE change? Did I mention that I purposely force myself out of my comfort zone just to adapt to change? Ugh…why can’t everything stay the same? Why can’t my kids all stay the ages they are at and we just continue to be a party of six. The answer is because the only thing that remains the same is the fact that life continues to change. Saturday we dropped off our almost ten year old son to sleep away camp for one week. One of his sisters would be at the camp as well although in a different part, but they were sure to run into eachother at some point through out the day which was a comfort to me. We will not be speaking, texting or communicating in any other direct way for a week. This is hard for me. This kid is the one who, when his three teenage siblings are still sound asleep, wakes up too early, comes in to our room and the first thing he says is “I love you Mom”. This is how I get to wake up every day!!! Part of me wants to tell him that it’s too early and that he just woke me up but then I catch myself and quickly realize that he’s about all I’ve got left in this department. No one else is EVER going to wake me up like this again for the rest of my life – not until they come and God willing say,”I love you Grandma”. So, I’m holding on to this kid for dear life. Not looking to let go any time soon. Well I had to run to Bed Bath and Beyond the day before camp was starting to get a fan for my son. I was doing just fine, making my way around the store, finding what I needed and was feeling rather accomplished at this moment in time. And there I was….I took a wrong turn and found myself in the “Off to College” section. Everthing was ok until I saw this pretty paisley laundry bag that carries TWO loads of laundry at once! I had to get this for my niece (my son would never carry anything this pretty) and suddenly, with out any notice, I felt something hot on my cheek, then both cheeks. I was having a “moment” right there in the middle of the store. I was praying that I wouldn’t see anyone I knew because I was falling apart and quick! I soon realized that getting my little guy ready for camp was no differnt than seeing my oldest son or niece off to college – it’s all the same just different ages and different places.I can tell you what else IS the same no matter who, what or where – the feeling that a piece of you is being taken away, the tiny, slight, “hate to admit it” feeling of being just a little bit abandoned/left behind, the worry of not being missed and the Grand Daddy of them all – the one we don’t want to say out loud…. The worry of not being needed. There – I said it. Not being needed – that’s a tough one . And I don’t mean this in a needy kind of way. Not everyone feels the same way but I take such pleasure and pride in making my family happy and providing a happy and healthy environment in which to grow up. Hadn’t I given them everything they could have wanted and needed? What are they running off to camp and college for? And…. in the same summer! They are trying to slowly kill me. No – not really. I have been told (and I used to hate this) that the fact that both of my boys are able to adapt so easily and readily is that – gulp – my husband and I have done our job. We have raised them to be independent, adventurous, caring, willing and life loving individuals. The same is true for our girls who share the exact same attitude and enthusiasm for change as their brothers. So I should feel good about this, right? As much as I get that sudden pain in my heart when I think about things too much, I know more deeply in my heart that none of them need me the way they used to. And it’s okay – it has to be. Time stands still for no one and there is a whole wide world out there just waiting for them. They are all interesting, amazing and different from each other and I can hardly wait to see who and what they will all become. Come to think of it, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me as well….I just hope I am as brave as they are. xo

It’s TIme For Summer Reading!

If you are a parent of a school age child that has a required summer reading list, then you know the term “Summer Reading” can possibly put a kink in your neck or at the very least, a twitch in your left eye. Come on….you know what I am talking about! The feeling that you get when you are holding on to those last days of summer and you realize that you are all WAY behind on the three or four books that they  were supposed to read. Now you are at the beach squeezing in the last bit of summer fun and you haven’t even started reading Superfudge! What’s a parent to do??? Somehow, somewhere the term “summer reading” became synonomous with the words battle, argument, tension, no fun….do you see where I am going with this? I’m here to tell you that it does not have to be like this! Reading is my absolute favorite thing to do in the entire world. I often have 3-5 different things that I am reading at once. They may all have a little dust on them on my night stand, but I will get through them all sooner rather than later. Reading does not and should not be an arduous, grueling experience. Rather – it should take you to new places in your imagination, teach you about something you knew nothing of before or just simply help you escape real life and relax. So how do we instill this love of reading AND succesfully complete our summer reading before the night  school is beginning? Here are a few tips that may make the term “summer reading” become what it should be – pleasant, relaxing and maybe even fun:

-Get the books from your child’s summer reading list asap and keep them in a safe place so that they are available when your child is ready for them.

-Begin summer reading soon! Like…now. Don’t wait.

-Set aside  designated time  to be quiet time for reading. My children were always early risers so we left the books right next to their beds and this is what they did first thing in the morning when they woke up. You might prefer later in the day after a long day at camp, the beach or the pool. Let them jump in the shower and then read for 30 mins or however long you decide while dinner is being made. Of course there is always reading in bed at night too but this is the one that makes me good and sleepy. Do whatever works for you and for your family.

-Ask your child about the book they are reading. Let them know that you have a vested interest in them and what they are reading.

– Read the book too! (if time permits of course) or at the very least, skim it over so you can have a meanigful dialogue with your child about the content. HINT: This might eliminate them skimming themselves if they think there is going to be a little Q and A session!

-Set a goal for when each book should be finished, This is helpful because there is usually an activity/project or as the kids get older, a book report that accompanies the book.

-Lastly and personally , my favorite – let them see YOU reading!!!! It’s contagious and a wonderful example for them to see you reading just for pleasure!

I wanted to let you know about my top five favorite children’s books and my top five favorite books for adults. I would LOVE to hear back from you with some of your favorites as well! Please feel free to respond through any form of social media that is best for you.

Children’s books: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (even though the back cover scared me to death when I was little)

                                 Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

                                 The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

                                 Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! by Bill Martin

                                 On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman

Adult Books:          The Shack by Wm. Paul Young

                                 The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

                                  Glass Castles  by Jeanette Wall

                                 Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza

                                 Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

 

Hope to  hear from you! Happy “Summer Reading”!!!

               

 

                 

Thank you Barnes and Noble!

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Big thank you to Barnes & Noble in Paramus, New Jersey! Signed copies of my new book “Lessons Learned: The Kindergarten Survival Guide For Parents” are now available in their store! They are located in the children’s section (in conjunction w/SJA summer reading fund raiser) and also on the autographed books table in the front of the store. Come down and get your copy!
#thxchrisl#thxcolleenf#thxkevinc