5 Ways to Celebrate Read Across America at Home

Read Across America Day on March 2nd is often recognized in schools with a whole lot of literacy fanfare and Dr. Seuss love, it’s also important for families to have a little background on the event as well so the celebration can continue on at home.

Read Across America Day is celebrated on the birthday of the beloved author and illustrator, Dr. Seuss.  Dr. Seuss, officially known as Dr. Theodor Geisel, was born on March 2, so most Read Across America Day celebrations take place on or around that day.

Schools often mark the day with read-a-thons, read-alouds, reading workshops, speakers, or reading marathons, and many teachers and school employees come to school with a large, floppy, red and white hat on their heads, mirroring the famous Cat in the Hat’s hat.  Some teachers go as far as serving their students green eggs and ham (like Dr. Seuss’s book by the same name), which always gets giggles from kids.

What does this mean for families? How can parents bring the Read Across America excitement home?  Consider these five ways:


1.Bring home Dr. Seuss books! Hit the library and borrow a handful of Dr. Seuss classics: The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, The Lorax, and Fox in Socks just to get you going.   Set them up around your house—and then read, read, read.


2.Start your kids’ days with green eggs and ham.  Really.  Have a super-silly hot breakfast waiting for them on Read Across America Day and see what they do!  Will they notice their green eggs? Will they rhyme as they eat their ham?


3.Talk like the Cat.  Do a whole lot of rhyming—silly rhyming!—throughout the day.   Instead of giving your kiddos the same instructions that you always do (Get dressed, make your bed, and brush your teeth, please.) add a little rhyme to the mix: Brush that bed head instead of playing—I’m just saying! And put on your shirt and pants—do a quick ants-in-your-pants dance!—and then clean those pearly whites just right.


4.Dress like the Cat.  Wear a super-tall top hat, complete with white and red stripes (get crafty with construction paper), or just wear a lot of red, white, and black.


5.Really READ across America.  Call a loved one, a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, or friend, and either have your child read to that person or ask that person to read to your child.  Of course it should be a Dr. Seuss book, but sharing this meaningful time, celebrating a work from the birthday boy himself, is really what this day is all about.





Heart Your Family

February is American Heart Month. The heart is arguably our most vital organ, pumping blood to deliver oxygen and nutrients to every cell in our bodies. A healthy heart helps us grow and thrive. On the flip side, an unhealthy heart can dramatically affect our lives. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.

Tips for Heart-Healthy Families
So how do we help our families lead heart-healthy lives?

We posed this question to Dr. Jenny Delfin, a cardiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center and one of the medical experts at Adventure to Fitness. Dr. Delfin provided a quick summary of tips for families:

1.    Limit intake of food with high saturated fat and “bad” (LDL) cholesterol — this includes red meat, dairy, fried food, and fast food.

2.    Include regular intake of food rich in Omega-3 — this includes fish such as salmon, trout, herring, halibut and flounder plus walnuts, soy (tofu), and spinach.

3.    Daily servings of fresh fruit and vegetables — the emphasis here is on eating fresh, healthy produce whenever possible. For canned foods, Dr. Delfin recommends low-sodium vegetables and fruit packed in water or real juice. Some fruit and vegetables can be counterproductive: Canned vegetables are often high in sodium or eaten with fatty dips and dressings. Similarly, canned and frozen fruit can often be packed in heavy syrup or infused with additional sugar.

4.    Choose low-fat protein — this means fish, lean meat like chicken or lean ground beef, and low-fat dairy. Beans, peas, and soy are also good options.

5.    Limit sodium — almost everyone’s daily diet includes enough sodium (and generally, too much). Limiting salt on the table is only one step. Many canned or packaged foods are high in sodium so buy low-sodium products or try for more fresh products.

6.    Regular exercise — for kids, this means at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous activity.

Dr. Delfin states, “Far too often, we treat diseases as opposed to prevent them. The way to prevent heart disease is to start early, by teaching children about healthy food choices, healthy portions, and regular exercise.” This infographic summarizes medical recommendations for kids.

Be Good to Your Heart on Valentine’s Day
Since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, we asked Dr. Delfin for recommendations on all the candy, cookies, and cupcakes we’ll receive. Aside from sending them to her, she reminded us about the difference between snacks and treats. Snacks should be healthy food we eat during the day (like fruits and vegetables) versus the sugary items that should be reserved for special occasions.

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone and in honor of American Heart Month, try to think about how you can use Dr. Delfin’s recommendations with your family!



3 Things Parents Should Do In January

Most grade slippage happens in the third quarter of the school year, and it’s no wonder — with all those fresh holiday toys at home and summer so far away it can be hard to stay motivated and on track with schoolwork. And hectic family schedules combined with shorter daylight hours can make it tricky to find time together for important conversations. Here are three simple things parents can do to make sure your kids start the New Year off on the right foot.


1. Get them organized.

Even if your kids keep their room on the cleaner side, January is the perfect time to make sure everything else is in order for the year to come. Replace busted binders, worn out notebooks, and pencils that have lost their erasers so they’ve got the tools they need to excel in class. Ask what their biggest roadblock to staying organized is; they may need an adult to suggest a system like color coded folders.  It’s also a great moment to take inventory of any appointments they need scheduled in the upcoming year.


2. Evaluate their extracurriculars.

Being stuck inside during the long winter months is a great time to try a new hobby. Then, ask if there’s a free drop-in class or lesson to test the waters. If your child already has a packed after school schedule, use the calendar changeover as the time to have an honest talk about whether she’s still finding joy in her hobbies or if it’s time to switch things up.


3. Check in on their emotional health.

Progress reports, report cards, and online school portals let us know how our kids are doing academically, but it can be harder to know how your child is doing socially and emotionally, especially if they are the shyer type. A quiet car ride is a good time for a casual conversation about who he’s been spending time with in school and whether they have been experiencing any friction in their relationships.If anything concerning comes up, try to help him work through it, and don’t be afraid to reach out to the teacher or a counselor for extra support.



Easy Ways to Get Everyone in the Giving Spirit

This year, create a new holiday tradition with your family — get involved in a charitable activity. It’s an ideal way to teach your child values such as generosity, compassion, and gratitude, and prevent her from coming down with an annual case of “the gimmes.” The months of November and December are a great time to get involved, as there are a plethora of opportunities to suit your family’s interests and availability. It’s also a chance to try out several different types of activities and find one your family can get involved in all year round. We’ve got a number of ideas to get you started, but to find more options and specific opportunities in your neighborhood, visit


1. Host a Coat or Food Party
Drumming up donations is a great way to start a tradition that not only helps your community but also strengthens bonds within it. It’s great to give some canned goods or your family’s old coats to a charity, but making it a party takes it up a notch. For a coat party, have guests bring coats that are used but still in good condition. If you want to have a food party, ask for canned and dried food and have kids help pack it up for food banks and shelters.


2. Sing and Dance for Joy
If your child is the type to surprise you with impromptu puppet shows or sing from dawn to dusk, consider harnessing that energy to put on a play (or other performance) at a nursing home or community center. Involve everyone in the family in making costumes and sets, and recruit other families and friends to play parts.


3. Help Furry Friends
For animal lovers, helping out at a pet shelter is an easy choice. Donate a few days or just an afternoon to give the regular staff a break and fill in for vacationers. Even during the holidays, dogs need to be walked, cats need petting, and all animals need to be played with, fed, and have their cages cleaned. If you have young or sensitive children, a no-kill shelter is a good option (especially if you don’t want to come home with a new pet!).


4. Serve a Senior Citizen
If your child is unable to spend time with his grandparents this season, consider reaching out to an elderly person. The winter and holiday months are often the hardest on the elderly and a little help will be much appreciated. Help your child connect with past generations by visiting with seniors in a retirement community or nursing home. Your child can give manicures or makeovers, deck the halls with boughs of holly jolly décor, help wrap gifts, or read to the hard-of-sight.


5. Feed the Needy
The most familiar way to volunteer is still a perfect one: help out at a soup kitchen or food bank. The holidays are the busiest time at shelters, and they need help setting up, serving, and cleaning up. If your older child is interested in cooking, he can don an apron and help prepare food in the kitchen.



Visual, Auditory or Tactile? Take the MyStudyStyle Assessment

Knowing your child’s learning style is key to his or her school success. Most kids have a natural way of picking up new information. For example, they learn best either by listening, looking, or doing. Once you know your child’s learning personality, you can sidestep a lot of academic agita. There are three primary types of learning styles to which Omega Learning® Center caters:


Omega-Sight -iconVisual – You learn best through SEEING. You learn best by reading, watching a demonstration, and looking at graphics and illustrations.


Omega-Hearing -iconAuditory – You learn best through HEARING. You learn best by hearing lectures, having information verbally repeated, and having information  read to you.


Omega-Touch-iconTactile – You learn best through TOUCH. You learn best by using hands on manipulatives, moving while learning, and experiencing the learning through action.


To take a FREE MyStudyStyle Learning Style Assessment, find an Omega Learning® Center tutoring center near you. 

4 Writing Activities That Foster Thankfulness

In November, we think a lot about the things we’re thankful for. We post about them on Facebook and Instagram. We spend weeks preparing for Thanksgiving dinner, and express our gratitude for the meal. But what are we doing to foster thankfulness in our children?In order to foster a thankful spirit, I came up with a list of four easy activities that will get kids thinking about the things they’re thankful for.


1. Write Thank-You Notes 

Bring back the tradition of having your child write thank-you notes for gifts received. Older children can write their own notes while younger children can dictate their note to an adult. Not only will the handwritten note brighten the giver’s day, it also reminds your child to stop and be grateful for the things they’ve received.



2. Create a ‘Thankful Turkey’
Pull out the construction paper and help your child create a paper turkey. Cut out a shape for the body, a round head, a beak, and a red wattle. Next, cut out paper feathers. Each day, have your child write down one thing she is thankful for on a paper feather, and tape it to the turkey. By the end of the month, your turkey’s tail will be full of your child’s thankful thoughts, and will become a cherished keepsake for years to come.



3. Create a ‘Thankful Tree’
Gather a handful of long twigs and sticks from your yard. Put them inside a mason jar. You can dress your jar up with a bow or piece of twine, or simply leave as is. Each day, have your kids write down something they are thankful for on a paper leaf. Tape or pin the leaves to your sticks, creating a “thankful tree.” Not only will your kids get an extra dose of writing, you’ll have an adorable centerpiece and fall decoration for your home.



4. Start a Gratitude Journal
During a very painful time in my life, a gratitude journal changed everything for me. Will it be as earth-shattering for your child? Probably not. However, helping our kids shift their thinking towards the things they have instead of the things they don’t can have a life-long effect.

A simple lined notebook is all you need to create a gratitude journal for your child. Encourage your child to jot down several things each day (or each week depending on age of child) that she is thankful for. Then, when your child is having a rough day, encourage her to read back through their list.



Rising High School Seniors Action Plan

Senior year is a whirlwind of activities. This is a big year for your child as he or she balances schoolwork, extracurricular activities and the college application process. Use the suggestions below to help you and your child successfully navigate this important time.




  • Work together to apply for financial aid. Have your child contact the financial aid offices at the colleges in which he or she is interested to find out what forms students must submit to apply for aid. Make sure he or she applies for aid by or before any stated deadlines. Funds are limited, so the earlier you apply, the better.


  • Learn about college loan options together. Borrowing money for college can be a smart choice — especially if your high school student gets a low-interest federal loan.


  • Encourage your senior to take SAT Subject Tests. These tests can showcase your child’s interests and achievements — and many colleges require or recommend that applicants take one or more Subject Tests.


  • Encourage your child to take AP Exams. If your 12th-grader takes AP or other advanced classes, have him or her talk with teachers now about taking these tests in May.





  • Help your child process college responses. Once your child starts hearing back from colleges about admission and financial aid, he or she will need your support to decide what to do.


  • Review financial aid offers together. Your 12th-grader will need your help to read through financial aid award letters and figure out which package works best. Be sure your child pays attention to and meets any deadlines for acceptance.


  • Help your child complete the paperwork to accept a college’s offer of admittance. Once your child has decided which college to attend, he or she will need to review the offer, accept a college’s offer, mail a tuition deposit and submit other required paperwork.




Halloween Safety Tips

For a tear-free celebration, observe these safety recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Los Angeles Fire Department, and the National Safety Council.


Dress-Up Smarts:


  • Choose fire-retardant costumes. Look for a label that indicates flame-resistance on any costumes, wigs, and headpieces you purchase. If you’re making the costume yourself, examine the fabric content and talk the salesperson to help you choose the least flammable material.


  • Use make-up instead of masks. Hypoallergenic, non-toxic face paint is a better choice than a mask, which may obscure your child’s vision and hinder his breathing. If you do opt for a mask, cut oversized holes for his eyes and mouth, and encourage him to take the mask off each time he crosses the street.


  • Select light-colored costumes when possible. This makes it easier for drivers to spot trick-or-treaters. For costumes that have to be dark, accessorize with a white pillowcase your child can use to stash his loot and help him stand out in the dark.


  • Attach reflective tape to her costume to make her easier to spot. A few strips on her back, front, and goodie bag should do the trick. If she’s planning on biking or skateboarding, stick some tape on that as well.





Stay Safe on the Trick-or-Treat Beat:


  • Make sure children under 12 are supervised by an adult or teen chaperone if you can’t take her around yourself. Teens should have a curfew.


  • Round up a group. It’s best for kids of any age to travel in groups of three or more — there is safety in numbers. Plan a route with your child, making sure he knows to call you if he deviates from the plan. Keep his route to familiar streets and houses, working up the street then back down without crisscrossing. Set a time limit when he should come home or call you.


  • Tell her to visit well-lit, familiar houses. Make her promise to stick to the stoop — and never go inside unless she knows the grownups very well. Remind her to say “thank you” for her treats.




Prepare for Treat-Seekers:


  • Turn on the porch lights and replace burnt-out bulbs.


  • Decorate the walkway or steps with lanterns instead of candles. Battery-powered light sources such as light sticks are just as decorative and not as dangerous.


  • Let adults do the carving. Give your child a marker to draw the pumpkin pattern, but keep knives in the your own hands. If you plan to use a candle in the pumpkin, small votives are the safest bet. Stash the lit pumpkin on a sturdy surface away from anything flammable, and don’t leave it unattended.


  • Remove tripping hazards on your porch, walkway, and driveway. Clear your lawn of hoses, branches, bikes, wet leaves, or wires that could trip trick-or-treaters.


Sift Through the Loot:

  • Check candy wrappers. Pinholes, tears, or unusually loose packages can indicate possible tampering.


  • Remove choking hazards for young children, including hard candies, small toys, peanuts, or gum.


  • Don’t let your child eat anything that isn’t sealed. Unless you know the source, throw away homemade or fresh food items.


  • Regulate candy intake. Set a daily quota on your child’s consumption, and set a deadline for when leftover Halloween candy gets thrown out.




ACT Test Day Checklist

• Report to your assigned test center by the Reporting Time (8:00 a.m.) listed on your ticket. You will NOT be admitted to test if you are late.

• Bring a printed copy of your ticket to the test center. You will not be admitted to test if you do not have a printed copy of your ticket.

• Bring acceptable photo identification. You will not be admitted to test if your ID does not meet the ACT* requirements.

• Testing staff will check your photo ID and ticket, admit you to your test room, direct you to a seat, and provide test materials.

• Be ready to begin testing after all examinees present at 8:00 a.m. are checked in and seated.

• Please note that ACT* may visit test centers to conduct enhanced test security procedures including, but not limited to, collecting images of examinees during check-in or other security activities on test day.

• Do not engage in any prohibited behavior at the test center. If you do, you will be dismissed and your answer document will not be scored. Note: For National and International Testing, you will be asked to sign a statement on the front cover of your test booklet agreeing to this policy.

• Once you break the seal on your test booklet, you cannot later request a Test Date Change, even if you do not complete all your tests.

• You may use a permitted calculator on the Mathematics Test only. Some models and features are prohibited. You are responsible for knowing if your calculator is permitted and bringing it to the test center.



Fun Halloween Trivia for Kids

Does your child have a lot of questions about Halloween? Share fun facts — like how the holiday got its name and why we carve pumpkins as decorations — with your curious kid.


Why do we dress up?

People used to believe that ghosts might visit the earth on this day, so some tricksters started to dress up as spirits to scare their unsuspecting neighbors!


Why is it on the 31st?

To honor saints and martyrs, the Catholic Church deemed November 1st All Saints Day in the eighth century. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve. Say it quickly and you’ll see where the name Halloween came from!


Why do we carve jack-o-lanterns? 

In an old Irish legend, a man named Jack outsmarted the Devil but was forced to wander the afterlife with his way lit only by a carved turnip. Pumpkins later replaced them because they’re more common in the United States.


Where does trick-or-treating come from? 

In the 1930s, young boys often spent Halloween pranking local farmers. The farmers began bribing the boys and offering them a treat to save themselves from a trick.


Why are Halloween colors black and orange?

Halloween is often associated with black and orange. The black represents death or darkness, while the orange represents the colors of crops in the fall harvest.


Why are black cats and monsters Halloween symbols?

According to urban legends, if you cross paths with a black cat on Halloween, there is a witch nearby. Scary gargoyles were created by medieval stone carvers to ward off evil spirits.