Do You Change Your Work Schedule for Summer?

Now that the school year is almost over (um, how?), it’s a good time to ask the readers this question: Do you typically change your work schedule for summer — or your childcare schedule for summer? If your kid goes to a typical childcare center, you may not have to deal with any summer schedule changes, but for moms with school-aged kids (or, for example, if you have a college-age nanny who goes home for summer), it’s a different story. For many working moms, unless you have a kid who’s willing to do the same thing every week, you usually end up cobbling together various day camps to cover July and August (if you’re the default parent, that is … which, as a mom, you probably are).

Summer camp registration is so stressful: It often feels like putting together a puzzle with a bunch of missing pieces — and for the most popular programs, you have to make sure you sign up your kid early enough before they fill up (which means March in many cases, or even earlier — and that’s assuming you KNOW which are the popular ones). If you’re lucky, you’ll manage to find a camp for the week(s) in June after school ends and the final week or two of August when many camps have closed up shop. (Good times for a family vacation, perhaps?) To complicate things further, day camp schedules aren’t always working-mom friendly, especially for younger kids. Here are a few schedules from camps in my area:

  • Zoo camp: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with before care and after care, $50/week extra)
  • Science camp: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (7:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with before care and after care, $45/week extra)
  • Music camp: 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (8:00 to 5:30 with before care and after care, $75/week extra)

Fortunately, about 18% of employers offer some kind of summer hours (half-day Fridays, etc.). Does yours? If you change your work schedule for summer, do you use any of the following options?

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Open Thread: When Your Kid Is Having Trouble in School

When Your Child Is Having Trouble in SchoolNow that fall has begun, it’s not just Halloween and Thanksgiving that are quickly approaching: Parent/teacher conferences are also on the horizon. Are you looking forward to your parent/teacher conference — or are you feeling a bit trepidatious about it? If you know or suspect that you child is having trouble in school, are you doing anything special to prepare for the conference? 

When you go into school for conferences, you’ll typically hear from your kids’ teachers about their progress and achievements and how well they’re adjusting to the new school year. Sometimes, though, you’ll find out something unexpected: that your child is having trouble in school. Perhaps, for example, your son or daughter is dealing with anxiety, exhibiting inappropriate behavior, struggling with reading, or demonstrating poor focus and attention.

The teacher may suggest an educational evaluation or recommend a pediatrician visit, depending on the circumstances. Perhaps you’ll find out that your child has a learning disorder, developmental disability, behavioral problem, or mental health issue, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), dyslexia, or dyspraxia. Combined with the stress this news can cause, you may find yourself feeling all sorts of emotions, from relief to anger to guilt to disbelief — or a complicated combination.

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources for you and your child if he or she is having trouble in school (although these vary by state), from school staff to doctors and therapists to local agencies — plus a wealth of information online. (See below.)

Have you gotten the news at a parent/teacher conference (or in another context) that your child was having trouble in school? How did you handle it, and what was the outcome? What sorts of resources did you find most helpful? Have you felt supported by teachers and staff at your child’s school? If not, have you had to take any drastic measures such as hiring a lawyer to help you deal with the school, or homeschooling?  

Resources/Further Reading:

  • Understood: “to help the millions of parents whose children, ages 3–20, are struggling with learning and attention issues”
  • Wrightslaw: “accurate, reliable information about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities.”
  • ADDitude: “strategies and support for ADHD & LD.”
  • Child Mind Institute: “an independent nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders.”
  • Friends of Quinn: “an online community that offers resources and support for young adults with learning differences, as well as for the people who love them.”

P.S. October 2–8 is Mental Illness Awareness Week, and you can take the the Stigmafree Pledge at nami.org/stigmafree. October is also Learning Disabilities Awareness Month and National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Pictured: Pixabay

3 Ways to Teach Kids a New Language

Teach Kids a New LanguageI still remember the big day in 6th grade that we got to choose the foreign language that we’d start learning: Spanish, French, or German. (I picked Spanish.) Many schools in the U.S. still don’t begin to teach kids a new language until middle school, while most European countries, for example, start instruction of a second language when kids are six to nine years old. Here are a few reasons why it’s beneficial to start language learning sooner rather than later:

  • “The ability to hear different phonetic pronunciations is sharpest before age 3, and we lose the capacity to hear and produce certain sounds if we aren’t exposed to them early on.” [Parents]
  • “After the teen years, the brain changes and makes it extremely challenging (if possible at all) for an adult to learn a foreign language.” [Parent.co]
  • “While new language learning is easiest by age 7, the ability markedly declines after puberty.” [NBC News]

Over at Corporette, we recently talked about ways to learn a foreign language as an adult, so we thought it was a good idea to talk about language-learning for kids, too. If you or your partner don’t speak a second language and neither do your parents/in-laws, here are a few ways to teach kids a new language:
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School Break Camps: Open Thread

School Break CampsDo your kids go to school break camps during winter and spring school vacations? With day care, you usually don’t have to worry — just send them to your regular provider. But parents of school-age kids need to find an alternative child care situation.

Good sources for information about school break camps include local parent magazines and websites, and local parent email lists/groups. Last month I asked about camps in a Facebook group for parents who live in my town and got some great ideas. (They included unexpected options from a chess center and aerial arts studio!) Depending on where you live, you might find school break camps from providers like these:

  • Cultural attractions: Check museums, art galleries, zoos, and other institutions. (Think outside the box: Even our local animal shelter offers break camps!)
  • Kid-oriented businesses: Good bets include martial arts centers, dance studios, climbing gyms, or places like The Little Gym.
  • STEM & arts centers: Your kids could spend a week enjoying photography, creative writing, robotics, Lego building, or Minecraft.
  • Grocery stores: Larger stores may offer kids’ cooking classes during breaks.
  • Libraries and bookstores 
  • Gyms/pools/YMCA 
  • Community centers/rec centers
  • Academic/tutoring businesses 

So, let’s talk about what you do during school vacations! Do you ask family for help or hire a babysitter? Do you ask your nanny to work extra hours? Do you enroll your kids in camp? Do you take time off, or go on a family vacation? Also, how do you find out about camps? When you’ve chosen a school break camp, does it usually fit your work schedule? (Or does it seem geared toward families with a stay-at-home parent?) When do you think kids are old enough to stay at home while you’re at work?

Pictured at top: Lego Club — 2012, originally uploaded to Flickr by Clearwater Public Library System Photos

Your Kids’ Activities, Overscheduling, and Working Parents

overscheduling-kids-activitiesA while back, some readers were discussing the difficulty of scheduling your kids’ extracurricular activities — and homework, and family time — without overscheduling your kids, all while navigating hours/timeslots that may or may not be favorable to working moms. As one woman noted:

Kat, could we do a discussion on overparenting/overscheduling when a working mom? My kids are getting to the age where I want them to experience soccer and piano and whatnot. But they’re in school all day, so my only hope is scheduling their weeknights and weekends. Then we’re running from activity to activity with no downtime for just play or boredom. I feel like I’m trapped as a working mom. If my spouse or I stayed at home, or if I could afford private nannies, I could maybe schedule this better. Or I could schedule some of those summer camps that run only from 9-2 on alternating Tuesdays and Fridays. Or heck I could let them run the neighborhood with the rest of the kids that are home all summer. But as it is, our limited time as a family is dominated by homework and/or extracurriculars. Is this only me? Is it this bad for SAH parents too? What is the solution? No extracurriculars, and telling teachers too bad but we’ll only spend an hour a night on homework until they’re in high school?

This is such an amazing question — and I’m only starting to feel the pain, so I’m curious what other people have to say. First, as some other readers noted:

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What Are the Best Gifts for Teachers?

Teacher Gifts | CorporetteMomsIt’s (somehow) that time again: the end of the school year, and that means it’s time to find gifts for your kids’ teachers. But what sort of present should you give? An edible gift? A gift card for Starbucks, or Amazon, or Target? A gift card to buy classroom supplies? A handmade present from your child? It can be a challenge to find the holy grail of gifts, something that is:

  • thoughtful and meaningful
  • not too cheap-looking, or too expensive
  • likely to be appreciated by the teacher
  • not something he or she will also get from a bunch of your kid’s classmates
  • not destined to end up as a Pinterest Fail (beware, fellow moms; beware the Pinterest rabbit-hole)

Oh yes, and it would also be nice if this perfect gift were available through Amazon Prime. (Two-day shipping, I love you.) As a busy working mom, it can be hard to even find the time to think about this stuff, much less go out and actually shop for gifts.

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