Changing Routines with your RAD

One of the things that it is hardest to make happen with any child is changing routines. But now that the start of a new school year is looming, big changes are about to come. If you’ve taken it easy this summer on bedtimes and wake-up times, on mealtimes and studying, then getting back in the groove will be challenging. But changing routines with your RAD kiddo will be even harder. Why is this? Because these children don’t like change and they LOVE control. They want to be in charge because it makes them feel better since they do not trust the adults around them.

So how you deal with changing routines with your RAD? If you’ve dealt with this for a while, you’ve probably got a long list of things that DON’T work:

  • Reward charts
  • Time outs
  • Negative reinforcement (traditional punishment)

So what will work for changing the routines so that school starts with ease for both your children and you? Here are some tips that I used when August was younger as well as some ideas I’ve gotten from friends and social media.

  • Start getting bedtimes moved to school times – I always start getting bedtime and wake up times moved to school times about a week before school starts. This was particularly painful when we lived in Oregon where it stayed light until 10:30pm! It seemed to stay light out forever after I put the boys to bed and did I hear about it! But sleeping was always hard for August. He took medication to help him sleep so getting him on the right schedule was important.
  • Practice morning routines – There is a lot more that happens on a school morning than a summer morning. Getting up and dressed, eating breakfast and getting out the door. Maybe you just head to the library or to run errands but it gives you all a chance to “remember” what getting out in the morning is like!
  • Get the kiddos involved in planning – Pick your “launch pad”. This is the place in the house where everything goes: backpacks, homework, keys, purses, lunches, permission slips, projects, ANYTHING that has to go to school. 
  • Try sleepy medicating – We did this with August and it was one of the best discoveries ever. In addition to RAD he has ADHD. We found that waking him up a half-hour before he had to get up and getting his ADHD meds in him and letting him go back to sleep while they kicked in made a huge difference. When he woke up he was calm and responsive. If he just woke up and started spinning, mornings were so much harder!
  • Make a short list of “Don’t come down here until…” – Depending on the age of your children, if they are old enough to dress themselves and brush their own teeth and hair, make a poster or a list for the top of the stairs that lists the things that have to be done before they come down. It may just be 3-4 things like: dressed, shoes, teeth, hair, make bed. Sometimes that’s all it takes to give them a little reminder of what needs to happen.

Here is a blog post from NetNanny on some other ideas for morning and after school routines to help diffuse the chaos!

As we get into the school year, making the routine simple and easy will go a long way toward making the learning go well. I wish you all good luck as the new school year gets underway!

Until next time,


Outside Isn’t Punishment!

When did “getting” to go outside turn into “having” to go outside? When I was young we couldn’t wait to get outside. Now growing up in Ohio it seemed like winter lasted forever when I was young and sometimes bundling up to go out just wasn’t worth it. But doesn’t it seem like kids these days see going outside like going to the dentist? How do we change that? How do we help them see that outside isn’t punishment?

August loves the outdoors. It was a calming place for him. He’d spend hours outside just hanging out. Playing with sticks or rocks or bugs. I think that might have had something to do with not experiencing it much as a toddler. Or growing up 125 miles north of the Arctic circle! In any case,it wasn’t much of problem to get him to go out. Coming in was another story. That was until video games came long.

But there are ideas that can get your kids interested in the outdoors without coaxing or bribery. And maybe you all can have some fun times with these last few weeks of summer.

I know right? How on earth could bubbles draw a kid away from Minecraft? Well have you seen some of the ways you can make bubbles? It’s amazing what you can do! One of my favorite memories with August is with him in the bathtub with my grandmother. She would get her hands all soapy and blow big bubbles through her thumbs out the backs of her hands. Just with her hands. She said that’s how they did it in the olden days. And she said if you sat on a wool blanket the bubbles would come down and rest. They wouldn’t pop. Ah, such simple times.

But I cut out the middle of paper plates to make big bubble blowers, use string loops and put the blowers in front of fans to make tons of bubbles. You don’t have to spend a ton of money and get all the fancy motorized gizmos that wear out after one summer (or less!) For some bubble mix recipes and ideas, check this out. And try the wool blanket thing.

Outdoor Movies
Okay this might be cheating just a bit. But it’s still technically outside so it counts. I have a friend who regularly does a “Drive-way Drive-In”. He sets up a movie every weekend at his house and invites his neighbors over. A sheet on the garage door and a projector hooked to his computer and he’s in business. The projectors used to cost a fortune but now they’re very reasonable. You might even be able to borrow one from work! The grown-ups get some social time and it’s a kid-friendly movie so it works kind of like a neighborhood babysitter.

But you can make it much more active. Get out the sidewalk chalk and make a hopscotch board for before the movie starts. Let the kids run around and play flashlight tag during an “intermission”. There’s bound to be some wiggling and running around no matter what! If you’re an overachiever, checkout this amazing setup for movie night here.

Service Project
It’s possible there’s a senior citizen in your neighborhood that needs help with some yard work that’s more then they can manage. Maybe it’s weeding flower beds or raking leaves. Maybe it’s some painting or spreading mulch. Depending on the ages of your children and their abilities, you might be able to provide some help to a neighbor and spend the day outside. I found that August had absolutely no interest in helping out at our house but was incredibly generous and helpful at other people’s houses. When I was homeschooling him our church did a painting project at an elderly woman’s house and I took him. He worked like a trooper and never once complained.

I think the sooner and the more you can convince your kids that outside isn’t punishment, the more they will seek out opportunities to explore all that the outdoors has to offer. It’s a great big world and children should see as much of it as possible!

Until next time,


Fun and Easy Family Staycations

As it gets toward the end of the summer and the start of school is approaching, you might want to get in one more vacation with the family. But maybe the budget or the time just doesn’t allow for a big excursion away. Or maybe the idea of taking a trip away with your RAD kiddo feels you with fear and dread. So here are some ideas for fun and easy family staycations which will give you some quality family time but won’t break the budget. And may be easier on the anxiety level!

Now when it comes to staycations it doesn’t require going out of town or even out of your house! Just maybe a little creativity and some planning. So here are some ideas and some resources for finding some fun and easy family staycations.

Backyard camping is easy and fun!
  • Backyard Camping – Maybe you don’t fancy yourselves big campers. But everyone can survive one or two nights in a tent in your own backyard! And if you don’t own a tent, I’m sure a neighbor can hook you up. Set up the tent (or get help from the neighbor), fill it with pillows and blankets and grab some flashlights and let the spooky stories fly!
  • Explore Your City – It’s easy to overlook what’s right in your own town with all the hustle and bustle of daily life. I haven’t even been to one of the museums here in my tiny little town. And Facebook is constantly offering events and other kid-friendly attractions, often for free.
  • Dine out – Now this may seem like something you do fairly regularly but if it always comes out of a bag with a golden arch, that’s not what I’m meaning here. Pick a restaurant that you might not have thought about going to before, get dressed up and have a fabulous night out!
  • Stay one night in a nearby hotel – My boys love staying in hotels. They don’t care if it’s 5-star or not. Though they are fond of a nice breakfast! But maybe a night at a close hotel will be a fun distraction. Find a place with a pool and a breakfast the next morning that provides a break for mom and everybody wins!
  • Make a City-Wide Scavenger Hunt – Some cities have these already available. But if you don’t live in one of those places, it’s not hard to figure out a fun scavenger hunt that will get you moving around your town. Here in Terre Haute, we have painted rocks which are fun to paint and hide. Maybe you can do that! Or maybe it’s just walking through town trying to find all the letters of the alphabet!
  • Movie Night – Always a winner! You don’t have a drop a ton of money to have a fun movie night. Hit the grocery store for popcorn and snacks, create a comfy space with blankets and pillows and find a movie everyone will love. Then cuddle up and get your movie night going!
  • Unplug – This might be the last thing you want to do as a RAD parent but it is a great way to connect as a family. Maybe it’s a hike at a local nature preserve or a pool day. Whatever gets you off your phones or games and spending time together.

These are just a few ideas that I liked. Lots of other people have lots of other ideas. Check out Today’s Parent list here. And there are 40 ideas listed from Cafe Mom here.

And as always I will put the links on my resources page.

Enjoy the last few days of summer! Connect with your families and get out and play!

Until next time,


Summer “School”? – Forward with the Past

This is the last of my series on how to tackle weaving some learning into summer break. Hopefully I have helped find some fun and interesting ways to help you and your children keep learning alive while still letting them feel like they’re getting a rest from school. This week we are looking at one of my favorite subjects…history!

For RAD children who traditionally have memory issues, the names, dates and places of history can be rough. And for children in general, the boring events of the past don’t always catch or keep their attention. So how do you find ways to make history interesting and engaging? Here are a couple of ways I did it with August when we homeschooled that seemed to have some success.

Visual Timeline
Materials needed: Long piece of string, paperclips, index cards, markers
Pick an event from history or a topic you want to study (World War II or when the states got added to the US). Have the kiddos write the events on index cards. Or draw pictures. Just make sure the dates are on there too.

Hang the string somewhere in the house if it’s raining or outside if it’s not. Depending on the length of time you’re covering, separate the string into segments. It may need to be every 10 years or every 50 years or every 100 years. Put those segment markers on index cards then secure them to the string with paper clips.

Then let your children put their cards on the string with paperclips at the approximate time when their event happened. When finished, you have a timeline of the total event. If you are doing something that happened more recently (World War II), you might also add events from your own family (birth of grandparents, when your house was built), to give them perspective on how things in their own life intertwine with history.

Musical History
August loves music. Not all kinds but he has enough of a universal affection that I was able to use music to get him to understand history some through music.

We would pick an event and study it by finding songs that were popular at the time. Songs with lyrics were particularly helpful during wars because often they spoke of the hardships of the troops, the loved ones left behind or what they were fighting for.

Other times the styles of music reflected the economic climates of the period, the personality of the ruling class, new inventions or technology and many other historical achievements. He could listen to music for much longer than he would listen to me drone on about a subject and the researching was  interesting to him. Now he was in middle school at the time. I’m not sure this would work at the younger ages. But it was fun!

Other Resources

  • Learning Liftoff has five great ideas here
  • Here is a huge list of history internet games if you just can’t get them off the computer!
  • And if you’re the crafty type (I am not) here are some ideas for history crafts to make!

As usual, I will move these links to my resources page so you won’t have to remember where you saw them!

Next week we will be starting to talk about getting ready for school to start. Can you believe it? School starts here the second week of August. And I know year round school has already started its new year in some places. But that’s next week. Don’t invite in the anxiety before you need to!

Until next time,



Summer “School”-Summer Writing Ideas for Kids

This may be one of the hardest subjects to find a summer  “work around”. I know for August, he’d rather pull out his      own teeth than write. In fact, it was something we ended      up getting an accommodation for on his IEP. That he could  do everything on the computer rather than have to hand write any papers. He hated it so much and his fine motor skills were so delayed. But being able to write a coherent sentence is a critical skill for so many aspects of life. So let’s learn some tricks for doing some writing this summer!

First, a DO NOT do. DO NOT drop your child at the kitchen table with a pencil and a journal and make them write something every day with a fixed length and a subject prompt. You are sealing the casket of their never wanting to write again as long as they live. I mean it, don’t do it. For one, it’s summer and that sounds boring even to me and I’m a grown-up. For two, no one, especially a child is going to want to write or write well about a topic not of their choosing. 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s try some good ideas:

  • Get outside and find something fun to write about. Get cheap clipboards and paper and head out to the park and sit in the grass. Let them find a bird or a tree or a flower that looks interesting and describe it. Or go for a nature walk and find a bench to sit on a see what’s around you to write about. Maybe a frog hops by and you can make up a story about where it came from and where it’s going. 
  • Write a story together. August loved Goosebumps books when he was younger and a few of them were written so that the reader could decide how the story went. You get to a page and then it gives you a choice of which page to turn to next. Your choice decides how the story proceeds. He loved those. Taking turns adding a sentence to a story you create together allows you to connect and engage with your child. Neither can see the sentence the other writes until you are finished so you don’t know where the other is taking the plot. At the end you can read your creation for the rest of the family!
  • Write to distant relatives. I talked about this in a previous blog but it really is such a special idea. I now live in my grandmother’s house and as I’ve gone through her things (she was quite the pack rat) I have found letters she saved. Some from me and other grandchildren, great nieces and nephews, and other children in her life. All these sweet letters in their big chunky little child handwriting that she obviously treasured can’t be replaced by an e-mail or a facetime video. Even a postcard would make grandma’s day!
  • Get a pen-pal. When I was in middle school I had a pen-pal in Australia. I don’t know how I found her but we wrote for several years before we lost touch. I remember learning that our seasons were opposite. That blew my mind. I loved getting those letters. In the days of technology I know it is super simple to just find someone on the internet but the point of this is to make the connection. If your child is adopted maybe find someone from their home country. There are a few ways to find one here. Another option is I’ll put both of these on my Resources page so you won’t have to remember which blog post you saw them in!

If you are the parent of a RAD kiddo, I’d like to suggest a writing opportunity for you. As I was researching this post, I came across a place called Blue Monarch. It is a facility for Moms and their children to stay when the moms are trying to recover from addition and abuse. Many of the children staying at the facility have not had a stable grown-up in their life and the facility seeks pen-pals for the children. If you are interested in being a pen-pal to a child there, check out the program here

As always, being a good role model is one of the best ways to get your children involved in writing. Writing down five things you are grateful for at the end of each evening as a family, maybe after dinner, would be a nice way to connect and show your dedication to writing. There are lots of ways to incorporate writing into your summer!

Until next time,


Kids Get Bored on Sunny Days, Too.

So, it isn’t even July yet and you’ve done everything on the list you made that you thought would take you through the whole summer. All the crafts, all the workbooks, all the movies and all the visiting is over. And there’s still a month and more of summer left to go. What is the secret to keep RAD kiddos from using their own imaginations (which we know can spell disaster) to keep busy when boredom sets in? How do you bust summer boredom for RAD kiddos?

Short of having them re-grout the bathroom tile or get a job (which might be a bit harsh for your 10-year-old), once again it’s the Internet to the rescue. No, I don’t mean parking them in front of the computer for 10 hours a day. I don’t know how our mothers and grandmothers did it but there is no need to reinvent the wheel. There are wheels and wheels of ideas out there to keep your children moving and engaged. Whether you want to connect as a family or you just need them out of your hair for a while! I scrubbed some lists for you to find ideas that are RAD appropriate. I also pick ones that don’t require that you sign up for someone else’s blog e-mail list. That’s in case you aren’t even signed up to mine (which you should fix by the way!)

The first one is just a huge list of activities. You’ll have to put on your creativity hat for how to make a jar/box/container to store them. The thing I love about it is that the writer is British so the directions would sound hilarious to your children. Like, “Scoot round the block,” and “30 minutes with Mum” are sure to get a reaction. You can find that list here.

This next one is a little overboard for my craftiness level on the containers but I like how they were divided by topic. And she has a different theme for every day of the week. And the popsicle sticks she uses are very low budget (you can get them at a craft store…I see eating until I got the quantity I needed…). Check out her ideas here.

I’m mentioning one last one but I promise if none of these work for you, there are so many more out there.  This one I like for two reasons: they suggest sourcing popsicle sticks by eating the popsicles (they get me!) and they make two jars, one for inside activities and one for outside activities. So, you’re covered, rain or shine! Check this one out here.

One of the ideas that came up on several of these that I love was writing a letter to a relative living far away. Since healing for our RAD kiddos is all about making connections and actual letter writing is such a lost art these days that one really sticks out for me. How much would it mean to a grandparent to get a letter from your child? And maybe building the thinnest of strings with that letter may be the start of a connection. Boredom might be a great healer, who knows?

Don’t worry about remembering this post; I’m going to move all these links to my Resources page for one-stop shopping. You all have enough to deal with!

Until next time,