Category Archives: Education

5 Free Tools To Keep Your Son Focused This School Year

Back to school can be an exciting yet stressful time of the year. If your son is starting a new school or transitioning from elementary to middle or middle to high school, he’ll need tools to help him stay focused, organized and calm.  The following tools are great for giving your son an extra edge for the start of the school year.

Photo courtesy of Mrehan(Flickr)

Photo courtesy of Mrehan(Flickr)

1. Does Your Home Encourage Learning Questionnaire

Does your home reflect an environment conducive to learning? Depending on your son’s age, you can create a learning environment by providing resources  that support what your son learns in school as well as his specific interests. For example, if your son is interested in astronomy, there are low cost ways you can encourage his learning through DIY kits. Our kids spend many hours at school, so at home we want them to relax and unwind. This questionnaire helps you identify areas in which you may need to improve your child’s learning environment.  Does Your Home Encourage Learning


2. How Many Ways Are You Smart and Learning Styles Quiz

People are smart in various ways. We don’t need to get bogged down by what society defines as gifted or intelligent. Also, emotional intelligence is equally important as IQ.  Even if you know your son’s learning style, he needs to know how he learns best and his strengths. Knowing his learning style gives your son an advantage to learning faster.  How Many Ways Are You Smart and Learning Style Inventory Survey


3. School Year Vision Board

I do this with my oldest son every year  before back to school. It’s a great visual for boys to look at the year ahead. This is not a wish list but rather a visual plan for your son’s personal and academic success. Think of it as a visual reminder of his goals for the school year. There are online vision boards but I like the the old fashion way with a large poster board and pictures from magazines. I never tell my son what he can’t put on a board, I just give him tools on how to use the vision board.


4. Goal Setting Toolkit for Boys

Research shows that written goals have a 80% higher chance of being achieved. Goal setting for kids should be simple and short term. I’ve created this simple tool for boys because it gives them the steps they need to take to achieve their goals. Use this tool just for the year and have your son review it daily or weekly to ensure he is on track. When you sign up for my newsletter, you get the goal setting kit for free.  Raising Great Men Newsletter Signup and Free Goal Setting Toolkit


5. Stress Style Inventory

One of the many complaints I hear from parents and students is that they are overwhelmed and stressed.  The problem isn’t the stress but the how to properly manage the stress. Most kids and adults are not aware of their stress style. It is helpful to know if you experience stress through your mind or body. This inventory form helps you identify your stress style as well as offer tools for managing your stress.  Stress Style Quiz

These tools are a great way to get a jump start on the school year.  If you have other tools to share, please comment below.

Encourage Learning This Summer By Having Kids ‘Earn Time’ to Play with e-Carrot

Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to learn about a cool rewards-based technology platform that not only encourages balance in your child’s digital consumption but also gives parents the control to effectively manage how much time their child spends using devices.


Along with a few other mom bloggers, we interacted with the developers of eCarrot, who also happened to be parents and were given a thorough presentation of the app.

As the parent of two boys,  I was excited to hear about eCarrot’s app and how it gives kids a chance to play with smart devices based on correct responses to math questions.  The app also gives parents the control of managing their child’s time without power struggles or hassles.

What’s most impressive about eCarrot is that eaches children how to be better manage their “screen time”. Since the app is geared towards children age 5-12, it helps kids to have an early start on balancing their virtual and real life.  A healthy balance of media creates less stress and challenges in the teen years.  Without learning the skills to manage their time, some kids are at risk of becoming addicted to their smart devices.  Being that kids have more free time over the summer, most kids are spending more hours on their devices.

Since the app works by modifying behavior and rewarding “play time” based on how a child likes to be rewarded. This gives parents the flexibility of using the controls according to their child’s motivating factor rather than a general reward. What this means is that if you have a child who prefers to accumulate their reward, you can set up your account to meet this individual need.

The rewards of using eCarrot is not just for the kids. Parents are given the autonomy to give their kids smart devices without feeling guilty.

eCarrot can be an integral part of summer learning for struggling math students.  According to the National Summer Learning Association: Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains (Cooper, 1996).

If you’re looking for a tool to help your child use technology responsibly while also helping them learn math, checkout eCarrot! The app is available for FREE on the Android platform on Google Play.

Give yourself peace of mind and give your child a head start in math and digital literacy.



Disclosure: I received compensation thanks to The Mommy Factor blogger referral . Views expressed are always 100% my own.







Help Your Struggling Reader Build Reading Confidence

Copy of Power My Learning Twitter Chat

As part of my #SummerLearningChat on Twitter, join me on Thursday, July 17th  at 2:00pm Est with guest Meeghan Mousaw of Sight Sound Reading to talk about ways to help struggling or beginner readers to become more confident readers. Reading is an important part of summer learning, so find creative ways to make reading enticing to your son.

Meeghan will also share tips on helping children with special needs become better readers.  One lucky chat participant will win a Teaching Made Easy Bundle.

If you would like to help teach your student(s) to read, this bundle is a step by step guide -everything you need to know and do to help students to reading success. The teachers manual contained in this bundle consists of 120 daily lessons that take about 15 minutes a day. The students learn new words to read each day. The sight words build upon themselves and the students gain confidence in reading, while learning sight words, phonics, and comprehension. It can be used on it’s own to teach reading, or it is a great supplement to classroom teaching as . It is extremely successful with struggling readers.

The Word Ladder Manual, alphabet manual, sight word books and other materials are great supplements to be used with the program, or on their own to add fun to literacy centers, or desk-time.

This bundled download contains everything you need to teach beginning reading, using Mrs. Karle’s Sight and Sound Reading.

About Meeghan Mousaw

Meeghan Mousaw has her Bachelor in Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame.  She also has her Masters in Special Education from Assumption College.  She re-discovered her mother’s reading program when trying to teach her daughter to read.  She was amazed at how easy it was to teach her, and she loved that her daughter asked to practice reading every day.  Immediately she knew it would be great for ALL children, especially those who struggle to learn to read.  She was inspired to help her mother reach more children with her program.  Meeghan is married and has five children.  Aside from spending time with her family, she loves supporting her alma mater by attending the University of Notre Dame athletic events.

Participating in the chat is simple:

Follow @Sightsoundreading

Join the chat on


Preventing Summer Learning Loss- 7 Week Series

RGM Summer Learning

Join me for a 7 Week series on “Preventing Summer Learning Loss”! Summer is a wonderful opportunity to help your son get ahead of the curve. As much as we want our sons to relax and take it easy, it’s imperative that we provide them with enriching experiences and learning adventures.

Even the American Academy of Pediatrics is encouraging that parents read to their infants.

To participate, sign up for my newsletter to stay updated on interviews on Google Plus,  Twitter chats and Blog Talk Radio.

According to the National Summer Learning Association:

  • All young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer (White, 1906; Heyns, 1978; Entwisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al, 2004).

  • Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains (Cooper, 1996).

  • More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college (Alexander et al, 2007).

  • Children lose more than academic knowledge over the summer. Most children—particularly children at high risk of obesity—gain weight more rapidly when they are out of school during summer break (Von Hippel et al, 2007).

  • Parents consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure that their children have productive things to do (Duffett et al, 2004).

Here are a few resources to get you started for a summer of learning: helps you find and use thousands of F.REE games, videos, and interactives in all major K-12 subjects and aligned to the Common Core.

I’ve asked Dr. Kwame Brown of Move Theory FUNction Community to share a brain game with my community. Here’s his game of the month: Slingshot which teaches physics and gets kids moving!

Also if you’re looking for something to do with your son, check out Michael’s Craft Stores: Passport to Imagination. They have 2 hour classes from 10:00am to 12:00pm for $2.00 each class. Classes are offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays until August 1st.

Also, Groupon has great deals on books and other resources your son will love:
Sesame Street ABCs and 123s Elmo and Friends Bus– $16.99  (74% discount)

  • Sturdy board books
  • Twelve books about the alphabet
  • Four books about numbers 1–10
  • Favorite Sesame Street characters
  • Bus display case

Mighty Machines Children’s 10-Book Bundle-$15.99   (73% discount)

  • Ambulance
  • Bulldozers
  • Diggers
  • Fire Trucks
  • Loaders
  • Monster Trucks
  • Police Cars
  • Tractors and Farm Vehicles
  • Trains
  • Trucks

50 Comic Book Bundle with Collectible Cards– $39.99   (84% discount)

  • 50 comic books, randomly chosen
  • 10 sealed non-sport packs of collectible cards
  • 9 loose non-sport collectible cards

J. R. R. Tolkien Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit 4-Book Boxed Set– $14.99  (58% discount)

  • The Hobbit
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Anime Studio Debut 10-$24.99 (50% discount)

  • Animation software
  • Create comic books or animated scenes
  • Ample tutorials cover multiple functions
  • Built-in characters and scenarios to get users started
  • Enhanced drawing tools
  • Compatible with Mac and PC

Kids’ 4-Book Doodle Bundle-16.99  (57% discount)

This set of activity books invites children to explore ancient worlds, ghoulish beasts, and life on the road. Armed with colored pencils, markers, and pure imagination, they can create funny or creepy creatures within the Monster Doodles book, or draw a cheeseburger in every T-rex’s mouth in Dinosaur Doodles.

  • Dinosaur Doodles for Kids
  • Monster Doodles for Kids
  • Superhero Doodles for Kids
  • Travel Doodles for Kids

Preschool Prep 10-DVD Collection– $39.99  (69% discount)

Preschool Prep’s DVDs captivate children with educational material that’s garnered more than 25 awards. By anthropomorphizing numbers, letters, and colors, the DVDs help children aged 9 months to 7 years easily recognize the characters and understand their functions. Advanced lessons in phonics and sight words deepen a budding reader’s understanding and respect for the written word, even when it’s written mockingly on their forehead as they sleep.

  • Meet the Blends
  • Meet the Colors
  • Meet the Digraphs
  • Meet the Letter Sounds
  • Meet the Letters
  • Meet the Numbers
  • Meet the Shapes
  • Meet the Sight Words 1
  • Meet the Sight Words 2
  • Meet the Sight Words 3

Brilliant But Lazy: Helping Your Underachieving Son to Succeed in the 21st Century

Relaxing on the sofa

One of my favorite lines from Spiderman 2 is when Peter Parker’s professor describes him- “He’s brilliant, but lazy. He’s always late to class, or absent entirely. He must stay out all night partying or something, because when he is here, he’s always exhausted, too worn out to take much initiative. He doesn’t do his homework.”

How many of us can relate to that when it comes to our sons? We nag, we threaten and we yell, but nothing seems to phase our sloth-like genius.What’s most frustrating is that we know they are capable of doing the work. It’s one thing if your son is struggling because of lack of knowledge or skill, it’s another when he’s just not motivated to do it. If you want your son to be intrinsically motivated, you have to explore the source of his underachievement.

I’ve watched my son set lofty academic goals and not meet them because he was not disciplined. We tried talking to him about studying habits and managing his time. All these suggestions were ignored.  At what point, do you step back and let your son be accountable for his grades and his future? When dealing with your brilliant but lazy son, ask yourself: Who owns the problem? Is this your son’s problem or your problem? You’re probably thinking, ‘If he fails, it becomes my problem because I’ll be blamed”. Well first, you take your son’s age and mental and emotional development.  If he’s at a stage where he can be accountable for his actions, then it’s time to redefine your role as a parent.  As your son grows, you parenting responsibilities move from directing/managing to collaborating/delegating. We equip our sons with the tools they need to move from the cycle of underachievement to achievement.

Your son needs to be committed to his own personal success. We may want our sons to be intrinsically motivated  but he needs to identify his attitudes and beliefs about himself. Does he see himself as a failure in some areas of his life? Why?  What are his limiting beliefs?  Are his beliefs turning into a self fulfilling prophecy?

One of the mistakes we made with our son was not identifying the underlying reason for his lack of motivation.  We made assumptions, we blamed social media and social change, but we didn’t acknowledge our contribution to the problem.

Here’s what we learned:

1. Create a safe space for your son to share and feel heard.  There may be hidden feelings that he does not feel comfortable sharing with you.

2 . Set guidelines and show him how to balance “work and play time”.  Be consistent with helping him manage his time. This is something we struggle with as adults.  Think about how much time do you spend on social media.

3. Show him how to problem solve. Teach your son to be resourceful.  As he grows, life will become more complicated and challenging. He needs to be able to confront adversity and focus on solutions. Let him see problems as learning opportunities rather than setbacks.

4. Help him to recognize his abilities. He needs to know his own potential. If you are constantly praising him, he may become addicted to praise instead of recognizing his own strengths.

5.  Build his self-awareness.  Self-reflection gives  your son insight into his goals and his plans for the future.

6.  Help your son to see the lessons in failure.  Let him know mistakes are part of life. Be an example of resiliency by showing him how you rebound from your mistakes.

7.  Teach him self management skills. He will need these skills when he is dealing with a frustrating or challenging situation. If he falters under pressure, it will require more effort to get him to get back up.

8.  Be flexible in your approach. Your frustration will not be a catalyst for your his transformation.

9. Don’t project your unfulfilled dreams on your son. Help him to blaze his own trails.

10. Don’t use shame to motivate your son. Shaming just produces feelings of inadequacies and resentment.

Keep in mind, that your son needs your guidance in order to achieve success in life. He also needs you to model the behavior. Therefore, you need to address your own underachievement in order to help your son.

Be sure to check out my free GoalSetting Toolkit for Boys


Are You Raising a Real Superhero?

“One of the saddest days of my life was when my mother told me ‘Superman’ did not exist…she thought I was crying because it’s like Santa Claus is not real. I was crying because no one was coming with enough power to save us.”-Geoffrey Canada

Raising a Real Superhero

Image Courtesy of Flickr

Last night my son and I watched Waiting for “Superman, a documentary that examines how our public school system is failing students and their families. The movie was able to impress upon my son what I have been saying to him for years: “A quality education is something worth fighting for.”

I understand that challenge the families in the movie faced quite well. I spent last year trying to make sense of the high school process of New York  City Department of Education. I live in NYC, one of the largest cities in the country. We have an abundance of resources, activities and cultural events, yet we do not have enough good schools to meet the needs of all the families living here.

After the tedious and complicated high school process (in which we listed our 12 school choices), the computer matched my son to a random school on the list.  Although there are options for specialized high schools and charter schools, the number of seats available are so , that you have thousands of students scrambling to get one of the 100s of spots available. We then made the decision to put him in private school. I rather sacrifice something for myself than deny my son a quality education. Last night, he thanked me for making that decision.

My son grew frustrated as he watched the movie, so I asked him “If you’re so angry, what are you going to do about it?”  It’s a question I often ask him when he complains to me about injustices in the world. I tell him that he has the power to make a change. When he has taken action, he’s seen change in action. He knows that he can “be a change in the world”.  What I want him to keep in mind that every hero’s feat is not always met with fanfare and recognition. It’s important to do the right things in life because you have integrity and morals, not because you want to be lauded as a hero.

Little boys love superheroes but somehow when they lose their innocence and realize superheroes are not real, they  may also lose their desire to make a difference in the world. We need to remind our sons that real superheroes are everyday people who want to make the world a better place.  The real heroes often go unnoticed and they rarely have alter egos. They are humble and unassuming. They are empathetic and live life with a purpose rather than a superficial motivation.   They aren’t complainers and whiners, they are doers.

I’m not raising my sons to sit idly and wait for someone else to do it. My sons will not be waiting for Superman.

What are you doing to raise a real superhero?

How to Have a Healthy and Productive Back to School

It’s the time of the year that most kids have been avoiding; Back To School!


Going back to school can make some kids anxious. Some are starting kindergarten and others are transitioning from elementary to middle school or from middle school to high school. Help your child keep things in perspective by helping them to realize that this new experience is exciting. Encourage them to have a positive attitude about the experience. Start off the school year by leading by example. Set the standards for a responsible, independent, and successful child by being the role model. Here are some tips for making back to school a less stressful experience:


Preschool: Make sure your preschooler starts the day with a healthy breakfast. If you have a fussy eater, try variations of his  favorite foods.

Elementary/Middle School/High School: Kids in this age group need to have healthy eating habits as well as a fitness regimen. Serve your children healthy snacks and involve them in grocery shopping and the preparation of food. Try a new snack for lunch each week. If you’re stuck on what to serve your children, check out Make sure your kids get adequate exercise each day.


Preschool: Your child needs 10-12 hours of sleep per night. Develop and be consistent with a bedtime routine. Have your child engage in quiet activities before bedtime, such as reading a picture book or completing a puzzle. Avoid liquids close to bedtime. Check out:

Elementary: Encourage your child to develop a routine of falling asleep and waking at the same time, even on weekends. After a summer vacation, it can be quite difficult to get into the habit of falling asleep early. Have your child start sleeping an hour earlier and slowly transition into the appropriate bedtime. Avoid television and caffeine close to bedtime. Extra tip: Pay attention to any signs of stress. Ask your child questions to find out if they are anxious or feeling stress because of the new school year. Let them know you are available to listen, if they want to talk. For more information on kids and stress, visit

Middle School/High School: Your child needs between 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep. Monitor digital technology intake before bedtime. Advise your child to avoid computer games and heavy studying before bedtime. Make sure your child turns off the television before bedtime.

Time Management

Preschool: If you want to avoid being late in the mornings, wake up a 1/2 to 1 hour earlier and get yourself prepared. Lay out the clothes the night before or if you able to for the entire week. Have breakfast ready for your preschooler and make getting ready a game. Play a beat the clock kind of game with your child. Preschoolers are very competitive and like to win.

Elementary School: Show your child the value of time by how you prioritize and organize your time. Teach your child to be more independent and responsible by allowing them to pick out their clothes.  Agree to a scheduled study time and support your child in being consistent with this time.

Middle School/High School: Avoid resentment and power struggles by setting reasonable guidelines. Help your child to approach time management with confidence. Instead of lecturing about the importance of time, show your child how to use their time more effectively. If they see you procrastinating, then they will assume it’s acceptable for them to procrastinate. Create a schedule and a list of things to do together. Teach them to set and follow through on specific goals.

Don’t forget to be supportive and provide a lot of encouragement throughout the year.

Start Planning Now to Protect Your Kids from the Dual ‘Summer Slide’

Photo Courtesy of Wesley Fryer (Flickr)

This is a guest post by Carrie Scheiner, creator of  the award winning Exploracise® products and programs.

Working parents are already lining up child care plans for the summer. While they’re at it, educators say all parents of school-age children should also plan for preventing the dreaded summer slide.

“The ‘summer slide’ is the information and skills children forget during summer break from the end of one school year to the beginning of the next school year,” says Carrie Scheiner, who created Exploracise (, to provide parents and educators with award-winning products and programs that combine learning, exercise and healthy lifestyle choices.

The education slide is well-documented by numerous studies, which were synthesized in the 1990s by Harris Cooper, then a professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He found that children could forget one to three months of learning over the summer.

“While some people are aware of the learning loss, many aren’t aware that children tend to gain weight more rapidly when they’re out of school,” Scheiner says, citing a 2007 study by Paul Von Hippel of Ohio State University. “He found that kids, especially those at risk for obesity, gain as much weight during the summer as they do all school year.”

What can parents do to keep young brains and bodies engaged in healthy ways over the summer? Scheiner offers these tips:

• Journal current achievement levels. How do you know if your child is affected by summer slide if you don’t remember where they ended the year? Create a summer journal and, in the first few pages, document what they most recently learned in their major subjects. Were they adding and subtracting double-digit numbers? Doing long division? What were some of their vocabulary or spelling words?  Throughout the summer you can track their progress and, at the least, maintain those levels – or maybe even move on to more challenging material.

• Try a weeklong educational day camp. We all want our kids to have fun during the summer, and they can. Enroll in the fun, active day camps that focus on art, music or swimming. But toward the end of the summer, have your children attend one week of math camp and one week of reading camp as a refresher.

• Feed the brain during free time. Kids have a lot more free time in the summer. With fewer scheduled activities, even kids who attend a camp may have more time to hang out in the evening. How can you feed their brain during this extra time? Visit the library and check out print books, audio books, educational DVDs, and even educational computer games.  Many websites offer activity ideas that you and the kids can enjoy together. For instance, a free e-book, “10 Top Fun Wise Games: Making Learning Math Fun” is available at

• ACTIVE-ate the brain. Getting active exercises both the body and the brain. Just like our body needs exercise to stay healthy, so does the brain to keep those neurons firing. Encourage kids to stay active and play outside during the summer and allow only limited, scheduled times for sedentary activities like video games or TV.

About Carrie Scheiner

Carrie Scheiner was inspired by her own children to develop the first Exploracise® program that creatively teaches math facts during a complete workout.  Ms. Carrie created the award winning Exploracise® products and programs by bringing her math education background, passion for helping children and corporate expertise together to develop solutions for quality screen time, increased physical activity and kids education. Carrie Scheiner earned a bachelor’s degree in math with a minor in secondary education, and a master’s in statistics from Rutgers University.

Are We Shortchanging Boys?


I am tired of hearing parents blaming teachers for their children's failure. Playing the blame game is not an effective strategy when you are not doing your part as a parent. I have witness parents curse out teachers and administrators for their child's poor grades without claiming responsibility on their part. 

Right now, we have a crisis with boys of all races who are under-performing in school. We, moms of boys, need to partner with our children's school to address any challenges they may be facing.

I have even heard parents state that  if teachers had better cultural understanding, their child would perform better academically. Instead of worrying about whether a teacher can relate culturally to his/her students, we need to focus on getting real professionals in the classrooms who are sensitive to the fact that boys and girls learn differently. My son has not had an African American teacher until his 7th grade, this however did not impact his academic or school experience.

I chose to put my son in public schools that offered diversity and had teachers who loved their job and empowered their students. If my son encountered any problems, the teachers and I would work with him to develop a plan for success.

Let's stop the finger pointing and the blame game and look to see where we as a society went wrong in educating boys.  Although the problem is more prevalent among African American boys, we can not deny the fact that boys in general are not excelling as well as girls. Most schools work against rather than with boys'natural inclination as kinesthetic learners. Forcing boys to sit still and be docile is not only unfair, it is unproductive. Boys  are more frequently diagnosed as ADD/ADHD and have lower reading and writing scores and higher drop-out rates. If we keep pretending this is not a real issue, we will soon see fewer men on college campuses.

So the bigger issue is not whether a boy has a teacher that can understand him culturally, but whether he is being given the proper tools to succeed in school. We need to push for reform, so that the academic problems of boys are dealt with properly.  We need more books in the classroom that are interesting to boys, we need to have more male teachers in early education, we need to better understand the behavior of boys, so that we do not continue misdiagnosing them as ADD/ADHD.

What are your thoughts?


Teach Your Son to Change the World

This inspiring TED talk by Kiran Bir Sethi helps to reinforce the need to teach children that everyone has the power to change the world.  Teaching children, particularly boys, that they can do more for their world can dramatically improve how they see the world. Statistics show us that boys are falling behind in education and in life. We need to awaken the potential in boys, especially now. Ms. Sethi's idea is to teach kids to take one idea that bothers them for one week, and change a billion lives is remarkable.

We have to inspire our sons to believe they have the power to make things happen.  Today, plant the seed and watch your son flourish with ideas.