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Denver Mom Publishes New Book That Helps Your Kids Learn at Home

Learning at home by Rhonda Cratty is a new parent resource that is filled with fun activities–from hiking, cooking, and games to homework help for family learning. Here is an example from Learning at Home.

Teaching your child to summarize

One area that is notorious for student confusion is summarizing. Teaching children to summarize is no small task. Summarizing is one of the hardest strategies for children to grasp. Because it is a skill that needs time. Your child needs to see and hear summarizing modeled. They need ample time and opportunities to practice it, daily. Summarizing is such a valuable strategy it is well worth a few small moments as you read those good night stories.

learningathomeWhat Is Summarizing?
 Webster’s calls a summary the “general idea in brief form.” 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?
We strip away and only focus on the heart of the work. We try to find the key words and phrases that manage to capture the gist of what we have read. We are trying to capture the main ideas and the crucial details necessary for supporting them.

What do you want your child to do?

-Pull out main ideas

-Focus on key details

-Use only key words and phrases

-Write only enough to convey the gist

-Take succinct but complete notes of larger ideas

Some ideas to get started:

-Have your child practice verbalizing summaries of familiar or interesting topics, such as “What I did during a sport or music practice.” Another alternative, “What I did at school today.”

-After you close each book use key words or phrases to identify who, what, when, where, why, or how in the story. The first night have them tell you who was in the stories. You tell them what the character did. Etc…

-Keep a reading diary; if parents do the writing and children do the thinking it should take just a few minutes.

-Write the title of the book, date and a headline for the story. By summarizing in a headline writing, your child will begin to sort out main ideas from details of the text. Do not require sentences, this is not an assignment. Keep it under six words each evening.

-As you read nonfiction, help your child to recognize headlines are summaries. Show them if they read the headlines, they are getting the gist.

-They can also 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 nonfiction texts, media, conversations, internet information, and events are sources to practice summarizations. Summarizing is a skill at which most adults must be proficient to be successful today. With the digital age, and the speed in 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.

Rhonda Cratty includes her experiences of 30 years of public school teaching, raising children of her own, and articles written for on-line and hard copy publications -within the pages of Learning at home. Learning at home can be purchased in print or eBook form through

The school cafeteria’s hurry up and eat policy–advice for quick, healthy lunches

Most parents tell me that their elementary school child has 20 to 25 minutes to enter the school cafeteria, search for her lunchbox buried in a portable tub, find a place to sit, open all the containers, eat (oh, right, eat), then clean and pack up before the bell rings. In an effort to ensure that their kids eat anything at all, well-meaning parents pack lunchboxes filled to the brim with typically, 7 to 8 different options!

Picture this: Your little first grader searches for spot in a sea of tables, newly found lunchbox in hand. She squeezes in between her best friends, climbing up onto the metal bench, feet dangling, with her little elbows resting on the much too high table top, just below her chin. Most school cafeterias provide the same size seating for the entire school, whether the kids are 3 feet tall or towering 5th graders, about to move on to middle school. Ever try to eat a meal on a narrow bench, your feet dangling and no back-rest?

It’s not easy. By the time your child gets the plastic bags opened, the juice box straw unwrapped and poked hard enough into the box that it squirts her in the face, all while holding up her other hand to signal the teacher “Can you please open this lid?” well, another 5 minutes have passed by. Meanwhile, she’s excited to get out to recess, now just 15 minutes away.

As a feeding therapist, I visit lots of school cafeterias and have learned that parents and teachers have one priority: Getting kids to eat a nutritious lunch. In contrast, kids have this priority: Talking to their friends. How then, does a parent pack a lunch, especially for a picky eater or perhaps a child with special needs, that still allows their child some much needed “down time” to chat with friends yet fill their bellies quickly and nutritiously? Here are 3 strategies to do just that: