image 6483441 2We all know the story of goldilocks and the three bears, but here is a quick recap just in case. Goldilocks eats their porridge, sits in their chairs, and sleeps in their beds. When she tries the bowls of porridge, the first one is too hot, the second one is too cold but the last one is just right. This pattern of finding the perfect fit continues as she sits in their chairs and sleeps in their beds. Hidden behind the moral to never take or use things that belong to others without their permission, another lesson can be learned. What lesson is that? How to pick the perfect book of course!

When your child is looking for a good book to read she should follow the Goldilocks rule. The book shouldn’t be too easy or too hard. It needs to be just right! Here are some tips for helping your child find their next book. 

Too Easy: An easy book offers no challenge for your child. A book may be too easy for them if your child: 

  1. knows all the words
  2. reads the book too quickly
  3. has read the book a few times before
  4. has the book, or parts of it memorized
  5. is bored when reading

Too Hard: A hard book offers too big a challenge for your child. A book may be too hard for them if your child: 

  1. struggles to sound out most of the words
  2. reads the book word by word, sounded robotic 
  3. doesn’t understand what is happening in the story
  4. gives up, or gets frustrated while reading

Just Right: A book that is just right, offers an achievable challenge for your child. A book maybe just right for them if your child: 

  1. knows most of the words
  2. reads the book smoothly
  3. understands what is happening in the story
  4. gets excited to continue reading

Try using the Goldilocks rule with your child the next time you visit the bookstore or the library. Finding the right book is an important part of developing your child's confidence and enthusiasm for reading. The best way to test the Goldilocks rule is to have your child read the first page of a book before taking it home. In most cases the first page is enough to determine if a book is too easy, too hard, or … like Goldilocks … just right!

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  1. Joining your local library is free! That’s right, free. Most of us forget that libraries let you check out books for free. So long as you always return your books on time or extend your checkout period on a book, you can read as many books as you want without ever having to spend a penny.
  2. There are a variety of available books. With so many free books to read, you can branch out and try new genres or authors. You can even ask the librarians for help picking your next book. 
  3. Libraries are also the perfect place to study or get work done. For some of us, working at home can be too distracting. A library offers a quiet and safe place, void of distractions, perfect for doing homework or studying for a big test. 
  4. Most libraries nowadays also offer free internet. You can access online assignments and resources right from your own device. This makes studying and doing homework at the library just that much easier. 
  5. There is so much more to a library than just books. Most modern libraries have a lot of other things to discover as well. From e-books and audiobooks to music and DVDs. Some even have a selection of board games, cameras, and recording equipment. And while it might not be the most modern technology, showing your child how you wrote your college research papers by using the physical card catalog and microfiche, is sure to be entertaining. 
  6. Libraries also play host to a multitude of classes, lectures, clubs, camps, read-a-alouds, and events. Be sure to ask the librarians for more information on these things during your next trip to the library. 
  7. All libraries have librarians. Librarians are an invaluable resource. They can help you find the right books for a project, introduce you to new authors, and help you in a multitude of other ways. Librarians are fountains of knowledge that you should definitely not ignore. 
  8. While we all know to talk softly in a library, the truth is most libraries have a social room or two. These rooms allow for an opportunity to engage with your local community. Here you can talk to friends, work on a group project and meet other people with shared interests. 
  9. Libraries offer that much needed escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Whether you are causally perusing the rows of books or curled up in a cozy corner reading your favorite novel, libraries are a perfect place to slow down and recharge. 
  10. Joining a library also instills a sense of responsibility in us. It teaches kids how to keep track of their things, how to manage deadlines, and how to handle the consequences when they fail to do so. The library card serves as a reminder of these things, as well as a reminder to continue reading. So what are you waiting for? Your local library is waiting for you to come and discover all it has to offer. 

** If you haven’t already, the downtown Austin library is a really special place. Be sure to help your child pick out a book and bring it up to the rooftop balcony for a fun outdoor reading experience!

  • Makes a child feel loved

The concept of discipline isn’t something most children truly understand. Because it requires abstract thought, kids just don’t get why their parents or teachers make them behave in certain ways. Which is why when a child gets punished or reprimanded, they misinterpret it, and begin to think that they are not loved. Remember, kids think in simple terms. In their mind, parents just want to yell at them for some unclear reason. For example, a child might think you are yelling at them for falling and getting hurt, when in fact you were upset that they kept running around after you told them to stop. But by responding to your child’s behavior with positive reinforcement techniques, you can avoid confusion while also making them feel loved.

  • Develops a child’s self-esteem

Confidence and high self-esteem leads to success later in life. Positive reinforcement makes children feel good about themselves, because it is all about celebrating when they have done something right. Instead of shaming or reprimanding them for the things they did wrong. This shifts their inner thinking from “I always make mistakes” to “I am capable and can do challenging things”. When we focus on the good, we are telling children to feel good about their accomplishments and successes – no matter how small they are. 

  • Has long term impacts 

Discipline itself is an important and necessary part of growing up. However, we should note that discipline is not the same thing as punishment. Using positive reinforcement skills when asking them to perform certain tasks, will create long-term changes in behavior. This is because when a child feels good about themselves and their environment, they become less inclined to act out. Building self-esteem will positively impact your child for the better in the long run. Remember that trying to change a child’s behavior by instilling fear, or inducing anxiety, will only result in low self-worth, building negative feelings and habits that they will carry with them as they grow up.

Positive Reinforcement Techniques are the best way to help your child build good habits and self esteem. They work best when you use techniques that correspond with your child’s Love Language. Here are some quick tips that combine Positive Reinforcement Techniques and Love Languages. 

  1. Do they have a big test coming up? Try running through flashcards with them to prepare. You can even set a reward for a good grade, such as helping them with a task around the house or making their favorite dinner. 
  2. Do they struggle to do their homework consistently? Try making a sticker chart. You can even treat them to dinner or gift them a new pencil case, if they reach their sticker chart goal. 
  3. If they start to get frustrated with their homework, remember to encourage them as much as you can through your words. Saying things like “I know you can do it.” “I believe in you.” “I am here to help you if you need it.” “Look how much you have done already!” “I am so proud of you!”

It’s February and love is the theme of the month. From Valentine’s cards to candy hearts, love is everywhere this month. But love is more than just giving someone a box of chocolates once a year. We practice love all the time. Did you know that everyone has their own unique love language? It’s true, and luckily you don’t need to take a language course to learn them. A love language is simple the way a person gives and receives love. Everyone has their own special personality, so it makes sense that we would also have our own individual ways of loving. 

There are five main love languages, and a person can have any single one, or any combination of the five. For example, I am evenly split between all five types. Which means I just love, love! But you aren’t here to read about me, so let’s get back to the point. What are the five love languages? I’m glad you asked. They are acts of service, gifts, words of affirmation, quality time and physical touch. Here is a detailed view with examples for each Love Language or LL.

  • Acts of Service:  For those who speak through acts of service, actions speak louder than words.  A child with this LL will want you to do things for them that often they know how to do themselves. Such as asking you to help them fix a toy, make their bed, and so on. When a kid says something like,  “I want you to do it” they are not being lazy. In fact they are actively showing you how they want to be loved. While you don’t want to start doing their chores for them, you can still show them love by doing other small things such as helping them tie their shoes, hang their clothes, or even get the supplies they need for a chore out and ready for them.

  • Gifts: Everyone loves gifts, but for someone with this LL, a gift shows that you were thinking of them when they weren’t around. This is your child’s main LL if they cherish their gifts, take their time when opening presents, or remember a gift they got years after they received it. They love to give gifts as well. Showing your appreciation for the gifts they give you goes a long way, even if that gift is a cool rock they found on the way home from school. You can show love by using sticker charts, leaving notes in their lunch box, or getting them their favorite candy when you are out. Kids who show love through gifts, don’t need to be showered with expensive presents. For them, it really is the thought that counts. 

  • Words of Affirmations: Gifts and acts of service are nice, but for those who experience love with this LL, it’s all about what you say. Children with this LL often light up whenever they receive praise or get positive feedback. They often say things like, “you’re the best!” or “I love you so much.”. You can show them love by looking them in the eyes when you are praising them, talk about their successes to others while they are around or send loving texts or notes to them. For these kids it is important to be specific with your words. For example, never follow “I love you” with “but…”, because it can lead these types of kids to think that your love is conditional.

  • Quality Time: Nothing beats some good old fashioned quality time with those you love. This is especially true for those with this LL. If your child’s favorite phrases are “Watch me!”, “What’cha doing?” or  “Can we play together?”, then there is a good chance their love language is quality time. You can show them love by being fully present when you are together. That means no multitasking your chores with play time. Pausing what you are doing so you can watch them show you the awesome trip they learned, helps them feel loved by you. Time outs or being sent to their room is particularly painful for these kids, and are often ineffective and can even be counterproductive. 

  • Physical Touch: From hugs, to high fives to a calming hand on your shoulder, physical touch is an important part of everyone’s love language. If your child is your snugglebug, loves hugs, and always wants to sit on your lap, or get a piggyback ride, then this is their primary love language. You can show love with more hugs, kisses and snuggles. But it doesn’t always have to be so gentle. You can also have tickle fights, rough house or dance together. 

Now that you know what the five love languages are, you can begin to recognize them in yourself and in those around you. More often than not, the root of most conflicts is about a miscommunication in love languages. Knowing someone's love language allows you to connect on a deeper level. You can use a child’s love language to help encourage and motivate them with things they find challenging.

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Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to books. Some claim they read way more using ebooks than they ever did reading print. Others say print books increase understanding of the material, and therefore are the way to go. With more and more schools incorporating digital learning into their curriculum, many parents are left wondering what is best. 

The answer isn’t as black and white as we may have first thought. While studies have shown  higher comprehension, longer engagement times, and better study habits such as taking notes, all correlate with reading printed media, that isn’t the whole story. Similar studies have shown that students who use digital media tend to have better access to newer information, faster reading times and better skimming abilities than those who read printed media. 

But what about the screens? Isn’t it bad to stare at a screen all day? It is true that prolonged periods of screen time can lead to eye strain, headaches and increased impatience and distractibility. However a lot of these issues can be mitigated by carefully thought out design. Both eBooks and eReaders that have been designed to support reading and discourage distractions have been shown to yield the same results as printed books. 

In the end, one is not necessarily better than the other. They both have pros and cons to them. It is about finding a balance of the two. Find out how to get the best parts of both worlds. What we should be focusing on, is which medium is best suited for the purpose for which we are reading. Both mediums offer skills to aid in different reading styles and using them appropriately is the direction in which the future of reading is headed.

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