Make Your Own Window Cleaner + More DIY Cleaners!

Easy Homemade Window Cleaner More DIY Cleaners

If you have been following this site for a while, you know that I have been getting in to a more natural lifestyle, from using essential oils, to making my own cleaners to making more and more copycat recipes of my favorite restaurant and convenience items.

Well – now I am here to tell you about the easiest and cheapest cleaner that you will ever make….homemade window cleaner!

Why do you want to make your own homemade window cleaner?  Well – first of all – this recipe is CHEAP!  Second – it is all-natural, family and pet-friendly.  Why have an arsenal of cleaners with a bunch of ingredients that you can’t even pronounce when you can easily make an effective window cleaner that you know is safe for your home?

To make it, you will need:

And that’s ALL that you need!  Just combine equal parts vinegar and water in your spray bottle and if desired, add about 10 – 15 drops of essential oils.  The essential oils will not only give your homemade window cleaner a nicer scent, but both orange and lemon essential oils are great at cutting through grease and will allow you to use this homemade window cleaner all around the house as an all-purpose cleaner!

Looking for more homemade cleaners or natural solutions to common problems?  Try these:

7 Tips to Manage Your Time Better and Save Money

Business woman time concept portrait. White background isolated.

Crunched for time? Stressed to the max? Need more hours in a day? Don’t we all! You can improve your time management skills by doing the following:

Meal planning. If you plan your meals each week (or each month), you could save yourself hours of time – and lots of money! Sit down one day each week to plan out your meals and your shopping list. Making just one trip to the store is going to save you a lot compared to making several last minute trips because you didn’t plan well. You can also utilize leftovers better when you have lists of what you’re going to cook. The best part? You can match up the ads with the meal plans and save even more!

Freezer cooking. Whether you use Pinterest or Google to gather the best tips for freezer cooking, do a little research and you’ll find that freezer cooking – much like meal planning – will save you time and money! (Don’t forget to check out my entire series on freezer to crockpot cooking!)

Budgeting. Having a budget isn’t really a time saving tool in itself, but making sure that your bills are paid on time is. How do we do that? By having a budget! Ensuring that everything is paid on time will save you money in late fees, and will save you the headache of junk mail and phone calls if you accidentally forget to pay one of the bills. Less mail to go through = more time. Amazing, right?

Strict scheduling. If you have a “loosey goosey” schedule, you’re going to find time gaps where you think you have nothing to do. So, you’re going to get excited an wander off into cyber space, only to realize you forgot to meal plan for the week and two hours of time has been sucked away! Much like a budget, every block of time should be accounted for – even if it’s down time.

Prioritizing. Eat that frog early in the day! Stop procrastinating, and make a list of things from most important to least important. Put the most dreaded task at the top of the list, and get it completed first. If you eat the frog first thing in the morning, the rest of the day will be yours to conquer without any fear!

Saying “no”. There are only 24 hours in a day, so sometimes you’ll have to say “no” when people ask you to do this or that. Many will ask for favors more often than they should, and still others will take advantage if you seem like you have some “free time”. They’d have free time, too, if they worked on their time management skills. Don’t feel guilty when you turn someone down – you have to make sure your tasks get completed before farming yourself out to others.

Multitasking. The easiest time management tip? Multitask! Work on more than one thing at once, and they’ll all get done faster. Sometimes there are things we can’t multitask with, but for the most part we can. So, figure out what it is you can work on at the same time, and tackle both things on your “to do” list with pleasure!

How do you manage your time? Leave tips in the comments!

5 Inexpensive Ways To Decorate For Fall

fall decorations

After Labor Day has come and gone, people really start to think about the upcoming fall season. Are my pumpkin treats available at Starbucks yet? Where are my fall and Halloween decorating items?

If you have any of those questions above, then you are in step with the rest of the population.  I love to decorate my house when the seasons change, but it can make a huge dent in your wallet if you are not careful.

5 Inexpensive Ways to Decorate For Fall

1. Create or Download a Cute Printable

Having a cute and fun printable on your television stand can really make your house scream fall. Not only does it show your creative side, but it costs hardly anything if you are downloading them.  All you really need to have is a photo frame and a printer with paper.  You can also create them very easily on PicMonkey. It is a free photo editing website where you can create unlimited printable images. There are so many different graphics you can use, even with the free version.

2. Add a Wreath on Your Front Door

With almost every holiday or season, you will see a different kind of wreath on people’s front doors.  You can easily find inexpensive wreaths at WalMart or Michaels. If you have a creative side to you, you can always make a gorgeous fall or Halloween wreath for nearly nothing. This is where Pinterest will start to become your friend, if it hasn’t already.

3. Add Fall Themed Placemats to Your Table

In my local Michaels they have so many different fall items; they have to have some type of fall placement. It can be anything from fall leaves to pumpkins. If you check on Michaels website you will be sure to find either a 40 or 50 percent off coupon. What an inexpensive way to add cute placements to your table.

4. Add Pumpkins Either Inside or Outside {Or Both}

If you have been to any type of store in the last couple of weeks you should have started to see pumpkins. Pumpkins are everywhere right now –large, small, and medium ones. I have the cute small ones sitting on the back of my stove. It only cost me $2.98 for a small bag of five.  Many different stores, especially craft stores, have artificial pumpkins that cost very little. The plus sides of artificial ones, they are reusable each year.

5. Add Fall Themed Dish Towels in Your Kitchen

If you haven’t already added fall themed dish towels in your kitchen yet, you are missing out. They really spruce up the kitchen.  Instead of trying to purchase each dish towel individually, purchase them in a big pack so you can have coordinating ones. If there is a Kohl’s around your neck of the words – they always have coupons available you can purchase them very inexpensively and they are so adorable.

As you can see, there are plenty of inexpensive ways to decorate for Fall. Most of the items you will purchase can be used year after to year to further contain your costs.

What are some of your tips for decorating on the cheap?

Easy Spinach Artichoke Dip | So Cheesy!

easy spinach artichoke dip

Easy Spinach Artichoke Dip

With football season here, there are few things that I like better than making an easy spinach artichoke dip! We like to pretend that it is healthy because – HEY! Two vegetables RIGHT IN THE NAME! But then we remember all that wonderful and delicious sour cream and cheese that we add to it and realize that it is time to stop fooling ourselves. It’s not healthy – but oh, it is good! Next to my favorite homemade dip for Doritos, this is one of my favorites!

This is a slight variation of the traditional spinach artichoke dip. Most recipes call for frozen spinach, mayonnaise and parmesan cheese, but this one is geared towards the person who likes a little more “ooey gooey-ness” (that is a technical term).

What you’ll need:

  • 2 (13.5oz) Cans of Spinach (you can also substitute 2-3 9 oz packages of frozen spinach, completely thawed and drained)
  • 8 oz (1 block) Cream Cheese
  • 1 (13.5 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained
  • 3 tbs garlic salt
  • 8 oz block mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz Sour Cream

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl add spinach, cream cheese, artichoke hearts, sour cream, garlic salt, and half (4 oz) of mozzarella cheese. (If using frozen spinach, add 2 of the packages of frozen spinach, mix and check visually if you should add more – you will just be able to tell by looking at it! ) Mix well.
  2. Pour into a 9×9 baking dish and top with remaining 4 oz mozzarella cheese.
  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees or until cheese bubbles and browns.

Serve with pita chips, crackers or you can really try to fool yourself in to thinking it is healthy and serve it with carrot and celery sticks!

Enjoy!

3 Homemade Stain Removers You Can Make

3 Simple Homemade Stain Removers You Can Make

With kids you will have stains. It is a given. No sooner do you give birth than you find your nice shirts with stains on them. The amount of stain remover I went through when my children were young was insane, and very costly. Had I know about these 3 Simple Homemade Stain Removers back then, I could have saved my family a lot of money and likely had stains coming out of my clothing a lot better and easier.

Each of these recipes contains different ingredients that may already be in your pantry. I’ve used all of them at one point or another and believe they all work equally well. The biggest thing you have to determine is if you want to go completely natural or if you want to have a more simple and inexpensive version of what you buy in stores. Regardless of your preference, you should easily be able to whip up one of these stain removers in a few minutes to suit your families needs.

3 Simple Homemade Stain Removers

THE BASIC – this one is the least expensive. You can usually pick up 9 oz (just over a cup) of Dawn for just $0.99 at the by shopping the drug store deals and hydrogen peroxide is equally cheap!)

  • 1 Cup Original Dawn Dishwashing Liquid
  • 1 Cup Hydrogen Peroxide
  1. Mix together in spray bottle and spritz onto stain. Let soak for at least 15 minutes prior to wash.

THE NATURAL – if you want a more natural stain remover, this is the one for you. Liquid Castille soap and Vegetable Glycerin used to be hard to find, but now I see it in the natural aisles at my local grocery store and even at Target (although the best prices continue to be on Amazon)

  1. Mix together in spray bottle. May add 5-10 drops of your favorite essential oil for scent. Spray on before washing.

THE HEAVY DUTY – this is for those heavy duty stains. Use as needed, but remember to never use bleach on loads that have been treated with this stain remover. Bleach and ammonia do not mix safely.

  • 1 Cup Original Dawn Dishwashing Liquid
  • 1 Cup Ammonia
  • 1/3 Cup Baking Soda
  • 3 Cups Water
  1. Mix all ingredients together and store in spray bottle or container out of reach of children.
  2. Use as needed, but remember to never use bleach on loads that have been treated with this stain remover. Bleach and ammonia do not mix safely.

Whether you have simple stains from a spot of food landing on your shirt or a heavy duty pasta sauce or grass stain you have multiple choices here in these 3 simple homemade stain removers that will allow you to clean up anything you need to from your clothing.

Have you ever made your own homemade stain remover?

How To Prepare Your Child For Middle School

How To Prepare Your Child For Middle School

Middle school is a huge year for your child and you should allow it to be a big deal. They are moving on to a brand new school, meeting new people and teachers and growing up before your very eyes. This is a ton of pressure on a parent, but it is doubly so on your kid. There are some things you can do, however, to keep you both from freaking out. This process can actually be rather exciting and calm if you let it be.

Here are ten tips to save you both:

Teach them the value of timeliness

Middle school will literally be a nightmare if your kid is constantly late for class. If your kid drags their feet at home, they likely do the same thing at home. Sit them down and set expectations for being on time. Never waver from the consequences when they test you….they will test you.

Teach them to stay organized

Lockers, book bags, changing classes and after school activities are going to send your child into a whole new world of confusion if you don’t work with them on some basic organizational skills. Teach them about the whole “place for everything” and make sure they have the supplies needed to keep things in order. When you see them getting disorganized, reel them in and make them fix it on the spot. Threaten an during-school locker inspection from mom or dad if they won’t comply.

Show them the way

Getting from point A to point B is so important and new for middle schoolers. It is a large source of the stress that middle schoolers feel during that first year. An easy way to solve this is to take them to the school during the summer and arrange a tour. Take them around and show them where to find everything. If you need to do it more than once to boost their confidence, so be it. Show them where to go and take away that unnecessary problem.

Teach them to read quicker

Reading is something they should be quite proficient at by now and if they are not, this should take precedence over everything else. Virtually everything they do from here on in will require reading skills. If your kid is a good reader already, spend some time teaching them to quickly read and peruse information. Learning to quickly go through something and pull out the main idea is vitally important at this point.

Introduce them heavily to social studies

Social studies and learning about the world around us is an interesting change during middle school. Some of the concepts are downright ugly but they are starting to be addressed at this point in school. This might include war, racism and other uncomfortable subjects. Talk to your kid about these important things. Who do you want to be the voice of these subjects in your kid’s life? Their teacher’s voice or yours?

Peer pressure is upon you

This is when peer pressure really takes center stage in your kid’s life. Take the time to sit down and have a real heart to heart with your kid. Initially you will get the eye rolling, pre-teen indifference on the subject. If you hang in there with the conversation, however, you will get down to the nitty gritty. More importantly, when your kid experiences their first episode of peer pressure, it is your advice they will hear speaking into their ears. Give them a chance to win and choose the right options.

The dreaded math word problems

Precious few people actually enjoy this form of slow torture and the odds of your kid being one of them will probably not be very good, but you can prepare them to at least deal with them. Word problems are introduced to a large degree in middle school and they do present a wonderful learning opportunity. Have your kids work on these regularly and they will have a huge leg up on the rest of their classmates when the teacher whips one out.

Talk about science and what is coming

This is the best time for science because your little ones will get to head to the lab. It is time for them to start mixing explosive liquids and dissecting frogs and such. While this is fun, it is also somewhat dangerous….well, the explosive parts anyway. Spend time explaining the dangers of science with your kids if only to give them a healthy respect when it is placed before them.

Prepare for the fast paced atmosphere

Kids are always a bit shocked by middle school speed. The changing classes and quick locker shifts are something that they need to get used to. Try to simulate that fast pace at home sometimes. Show them what is coming and talk to them about what they fear. Your kids are going to do just fine, but why not help them where you can? Speed up their lives just for giggles and see how they respond!

Set the study standard right away

Middle school is where study habits will become absolutely necessary. There is no way your kid will make it through middle school without having some type of schedule in place and your expectations will be set early on. Make it perfectly clear what is expected each day and then follow through. If you have them on a schedule from day one, they will eventually adapt to it and make it their habit. This will be invaluable when they get to high school and beyond.

An Open Letter To Those Suffering From Depression

depression-is-a-lying-bastard

This is to every person with depression who has considered suicide because they think that everyone would be better off without them…or that they are just a “burden” to others.

I admit – I have never had to battle  serious depression (aside from some Post-Partum) and I understand that depression can be a debilitating illness. This letter is written from the perspective of those left behind. Your pain has ended. Everyone else’s pain has just begun!

Dear friend,

Hey – you! Stop thinking that I or anyone will be better off without you because believe me when I say “I won’t be”. I need you in my life, with all of your flaws. Other people need you in their life. There is nothing that you have done that can’t be fixed. The consequences may suck, but it can be fixed!

Depression is one huge lying sack of crap. Remember that.

Depression can make you think that there is no hope.

It lies

Depression can make you think that the world will be better off without you

It lies.

Your daughter will always be sad that she has to find someone else to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day. You may not have been perfect, but you were her Daddy.

Your sons, no matter how “strong” you think they are, will be reduced to a blubbering mess several years later thinking about why you weren’t there for a major event in their life.

Your friends and family will forever question if there was something that they could do to help you, but didn’t.

Your seat will be empty at holiday dinners, and it will be noticed and there will be sadness, even several years later.

If your wife/children/friend was the one to find you, that will forever be burned in to their mind as their last image of you. Not the good times..the laughter..the fun times…just seeing your dead lifeless body.

And we don’t feel relief when you are gone. We feel sadness at first. Deep and uncontrollable sadness. Heaving sobs of sadness. No matter what you did in your life or how much you think that you screwed up, I assure you that nobody in your family is going to say “I am glad that he is gone!”

Because depression lies like that lying sack of shit that it is.

And then the sadness turns to anger. And we are angry at you.

Angry for not keeping up the fight. Angry for giving up. Angry because we may not quite understand your illness, but understand enough to know that help was there if you wanted it enough and were willing to work on it (and had good insurance, but that is another issue). Angry that you honestly thought so little of our love for you that you thought that we would be better off without you.

Right or wrong, that is how we feel.

And while we may be comforted that you are finally at peace, for some of us, the Hell is just beginning.

Your pain has ended – we get to spend the next 20 – 50 years mourning you….thinking of you..wondering what might have been if you would have just realized how much you were loved. Every wedding, every family event…we say “Oh – He would have loved to be here for this!”

I lost a dear relative and friend just over 3 years ago to a depression-related suicide.  I have lost several friends over the years to the same horrible lying sack of shit disease.

My life is NOT better without them. I loved them.  I still miss them, “warts and all”.  And in one case, I am pissed off that his boys have to spend the rest of their lives without him. Because he really was an awesome dad!

If you are thinking of suicide and think that people will be better off without you…think again.

And help is out there for you. Please take it!

Because you are too important. You are too loved. You are YOU!

How to Prepare Your Child For 4th or 5th Grade

Prepare Your Child For 4th or 5th Grade

Preparing for any back to school school year is tough but the fourth and fifth grades are particularly so. These grades are tough for a number of reasons. One reason why they can be difficult is because they are kind of tweener grades. The first, second and third grades are exciting because they are new. The sixth begins middle school and the ninth begins high school. The fourth and fifth are kind of….well they are kind of just there. Another challenge is the curriculum. Tough stuff is coming during these key years and getting them ready has never been more vital.

Fourth Grade

I like to call this the “growing up” grade. The bloom is off the rose and the student is beginning to see that school is not all parties and playgrounds. This is where the student truly becomes a student so you need to make sure they are prepared.

Review everything you can think of

The teacher in fourth grade will likely be holding your child responsible for knowing what has come before fourth grade and move on to newer and grander things. For this reason, any lingering problems your kid might have had in previous years should be addressed. Talk with your kid and if you need to, give them a grade specific quiz to see where they stand. Try to fix any problems ahead of time.

Work hard on comprehension reading

Have your child read…then read…then read some more during the summer. This should be a very busy summer for your child reading simply because it will play such a key role in everything they learn during fourth grade. More specifically, your kid needs to learn to understand everything they are reading. Sit regularly with your child and have them read out loud. Then have them summarize what they read in small bunches. This will help a great deal with reading comprehension.

Socialize whenever possible

Fourth grade is kind of like high school on a miniature level. Kids will begin to group off and find those that share their interests. This may exclude or include your kids and they should know how to react in both of these situations. Teach them about how to treat others and what to do when they are excluded. Talk about bullying in particular from both ends of the spectrum.

Neatness counts

While this is true in all grades, fourth grade is the first year they are likely to start taking away points for sloppiness. Have your child practice their handwriting until it is pleasant and neat. If they struggle with it, that simply means they need more practice. Address the mechanics and then let them learn through practice.

Fifth grade

As for fifth grade, you can pretty much copy and paste what is said up above. All the things mentioned above are doubly true when they hit fifth grade. There are some grade specific things that you might want to address though:

Talk about boys/girls

Although this is happening at varying ages now, boys and girls in fifth grade are certainly starting to talk about boyfriends and girlfriends. Innocent as it may be, you need to start having the talk with them. You would be shocked at how many “kids” are becoming active these days in ways you don’t want to think about. Talk to your kids about sex, drugs and rock and roll. You can’t afford not to anymore.

Start to focus on science and social studies too

Fifth grade is a key year in science and the social studies areas and students will begin to learn a great deal about other cultures. Prepping them ahead of time will help to smooth that process and keep them moving in the right direction. Spend some time exploring the world around them and figuring out how things work.

Do you have any other tips to help prepare your children for 4th or 5th grade?

How To Make Peanut Butter

How to Make Peanut Butter

If you are looking for an easy way to lower your grocery bill while still serving your family food that is delicious and healthy, the answer is simple: start making some of your own foods from scratch. When you make your own foods, you are better able to control what goes into them so they are made out of only real ingredients, without all of the harmful additives, preservatives and food dyes that are all too often found in store-bought foods. Plus, homemade foods tend to be cheaper as well.

You can make almost anything from scratch, including homemade fruit roll ups and this homemade hot fudge sauce recipe. You can even learn how to make peanut butter. It’s easy! And it’s a lot of fun, as well.

The process of making homemade peanut butter is easy. Simply put peanuts in the food processer and grind them until they reach the desired consistency. That’s all! It may take a few minutes, but just keep holding down the button, and you’ll reach the perfect smooth and creamy texture before you know it. Then, simply spread on toast, on a sandwich or on celery for an Ants on a Log Snack. The possibilities are endless.

Don’t settle for a store-bought peanut butter with questionable ingredients. Instead, learn how to make peanut butter yourself. It is easy, cost-effective and most importantly, delicious. One bite of the smooth, peanuty texture and you’ll wonder why you didn’t learn how to make your own peanut butter years ago!

How To Make Peanut Butter

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1/2 cup peanut butter

How To Make Peanut Butter

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Peanuts
  • Honey (optional)
  • Salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place peanuts in a food processor or high-powered blender
  2. Run for about a minute, scraping down the sides if necessary.
  3. Process for an additional 3 to 4 minutes or until peanut butter has reached desired consistency.
  4. If you want a sweeter peanut butter, add 1 tsp honey per 1 cup of peanuts
  5. If you are using salted peanuts, you shouldn't need to add any additional salt
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How To Stick To Your Diet on a Cruise

How To Stick To Your Diet On a Cruise

You have figured out how to afford a cruise and even decided which cruise is right for you. Now it is time to talk about one of the biggest issues with a cruise – not gaining 25 pounds in a week!

For food lovers, a cruise is a dream come true. With a nearly endless buffet of offerings, plenty of specialty restaurants, and snack options at every turn – not to mention 24-hour room service, you never have to be hungry. But if you’re more interested in watching your weight than going on a food-binge it can be a struggle. Today most cruise lines recognize that they have people on board with special diets whether that is by choice or necessity. They do their best to meet the needs of their passengers with a wide variety of options. If you’re planning a cruise there are many ways that you can stick to your diet on-board.

One of the quickest ways to use up your daily calorie allotment is through empty calories in things like alcoholic beverages. Some drinks can total over 1000 calories each! Avoid indulging in too many drinks while on vacation or stick with lower calorie options. Ask for a skinny or lite version if available. While sipping on your beverage it’s easy to succumb to snacking. Before you know it you can finish off a bowl of nuts of chips. Instead ask for fresh fruit or a pick up a tray of vegetables and low fat dressing off the buffet. These options will help you stay on track.

Do you love dining in restaurants on board or participating in the formal dinner evenings? Did you know that you can ask for half portions of the meals? Or that you don’t have to order one of each course on the menu? Ask your server what low calorie options they have. You can skip dessert or the appetizer if you want to eliminate some extra calories.

If you just can’t avoid the buffet line don’t feel like you have to load up your plate. Pick the things that you truly want to eat and put together a plate that is made up of normal sized portions. Resist the urge to go back for seconds and take your time eating. This gives your stomach time to digest and then you can see if you’re really full or not. Try to stick to three main meals a day and a small, healthy snack or two during the day (avoid the unlimited pizza and fries that always seem to be available in the pool area!). You’ll also want to drink plenty of water as it will help keep you full and avoid dehydration.

If you really want to treat yourself to a special meal, do it! You’re on vacation and shouldn’t completely limit yourself from enjoying your time. If you plan to have a big breakfast, keep the rest of the day light and vice versa. Don’t forget cruise ships usually have some amazing exercise facilities and group exercise classes. Sure – working out might not be your idea of vacationing but even taking a few laps around the top deck can help you offset extra calories.

It may be difficult to avoid temptation when it’s around every corner but with a little bit of planning and making smart swaps you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything!

Do you have any tips for how to stick to your diet on a cruise?

How To Prepare Your Child For 2nd or 3rd Grade

How To Prepare Your Child For 2nd or 3rd Grade

With the coming second or third grade school year, your little students are starting to really grow up and become more mature. They are beginning to advance in many ways, actually. Not only are their studies becoming more important, but their social skills are beginning to take form as well. Preparing your child for the coming school year should include both areas of their lives and the “middle years” at elementary school are vastly different than getting them ready for first grade!

Here are some tips to ease the transition to second and third grade for your little ones:

Second Grade – The second grade gives your child the chance to feel like they are “old pros” when they return to school for the first time. It is a grade that helps to boost their confidence levels and the perfect time to introduce new and exciting things. A confident student is a student that is ready to learn. Here are some tips:

Work on writing neatly

The excitement of writing is key here and your child can be empowered through you. A wonderful handwriting is one thing that has been lost on our society because of computers and so on. Take the time over the summer to truly help your child develop a love of writing. This can be done through journals, calligraphy and constant exposure to paper and pen. The best thing you can do is have them practice. When a pencil gets comfortable in their hands, the rest begins to come naturally.

Up the ante in math

It is time to stretch their math skills and their ideas about numbers. No longer are they stuck in one through ten mode. Now they are moving into the thousands, millions and zillions. Preparing them for those larger numbers is important. Work on tough addition problems with bigger numbers and stretch their minds a bit. Also, break out the change and bills. Kids need to learn about money and use it on a regular basis. Let them pay and recieve change when you go to the grocery store. Every little bit helps.

Third Grade – Socially your child will seem to explode in third grade. They will be exposed to a whole new world of ideas and concepts and things that did not matter when they were “small” will suddenly be a big deal. Here are some tips for the coming third grade year:

The big three

Writing, reading and math will be everything during the third grade. They will be taking all the basics and expanding on them constantly. If you can, spend as much time as possible working on these basics and shoring up any areas where they are struggling. When they hit school for third grade, the basics are expected already.

Start talking about grammar

Grammar is another key area during third grade. Knowing how to write a sentence is a big deal and putting thoughts together on paper in a connected way is as well. Work on telling stories on paper during the summer before third grade. You will be giving them a nice foundation for the teachers to work with. Continue to read a great deal as well.

This might also be a good time to brush up on your own grammar and model it for your child!

Get them outside and thinking about nature

Your third grader is also going to enjoy a whole new world of science. Third graders get exposed to brand new concepts in science all the time and they are often overwhelmed by it if they have never heard of it. Talk about the structure of our bodies, how an ecosystem works and the basics of science often. Every little bit will help a great deal.

Socialize them at every opportunity

Kids begin to take shape socially in third grade in a somewhat different way. They begin to gather in groups and have certain cliques. A certain level of meanness comes along with that and your kid can be harmed a great deal by that. They also can be the one delivering the harm if it is not discussed. Work with your kid on these social issues and make sure they are part of the solution rather than the problem early on. How they begin often will foreshadow how they end. Spend some quality time discussing this with your kids.

Do you have any other tips for preparing your children for 2nd or 3rd grade?

How To Prepare Your Child For First Grade

How To Prepare Your First Grader for Back To School

Now that kindergarten is over and your child has been introduced to the outside educational world, they are ready to move on to the first grade. This is one of the most noteworthy and exciting years that your child will enjoy for many reasons. It also can be one of the most challenging if you do not prepare ahead of time. Here are some awesome tips to help your new 1st grader get the most from this landmark school year:

Pump the positivity

Right out of the gate you need to prepare your 1st grader for a whole new experience. How you present that experience will set the tone for the coming year. Some parents try to “prep” their children for the problems they might encounter and it has a reverse effect. Instead, use a positive approach. Getting them exited about overcoming challenges is much different than spooking them. Present the challenges to them but take a positive approach.

Begin to focus more on math

Although your child probably has been exposed to some simple math skills, first grade will bring several different new concepts in the realm of math. In first grade, they begin working on addition, subtraction, counting and various types of basic word problems and patterns. Begin to go over these math concepts ahead of time and the will be much more comfortable.

Read together constantly

First grade is the ultimate reading grade and almost everything you work on will be somewhat tied back to it. Getting your child to a reading level can happen long before they reach first grade if you work on it all the time. Read books to them and then have them read the book back to you. Visit the library and book stores often. Invest in books, books and more books….you will be glad you did.

Get in a routine ahead of time

If you don’t have a solid routine in place long before school starts, the beginning of the school year is going to be a rude awakening. Start getting your child up early, set aside a study time in the afternoon and etch out time in your schedule to work with your child daily. Now….not later.

Sight words

Take a ton of index cards and label everything in your home. Kids seeing what what words look like and associating them with certain items is invaluable at this grade level. Go ahead and make your home an index card playground. The company will understand the mess and if they don’t….you need new company.

Work on telling time

Another key first grade skill is reading your clock. Throughout the summer, your child should wear a watch and you should constantly talk about what time of day it is. Make sure it is a hand watch and not a digital one. Otherwise, you are kind of defeating the purpose, right? Be positive in your approach and remember that it is not an easy skill to learn at first. Your kid will get it quickly enough if you spend time working on it regularly.

While the summer before first grade should be filled with learning opportunities, it should also be filled with fun. It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the skills you think they will need and to then pass that on to your child. Take a deep breath and relax…this too shall pass.