Helping Your Child Improve Their Messy Handwriting

Children are expected to have messy handwriting when they’re starting out, but if your child is struggling with their handwriting skills when most of their classmates seem to have it mastered, it can harm their self-esteem and motivation to do well in school. If your child is struggling with handwriting, Understood has a couple of articles to help you help your child master this critical skill (botharticles are available in Spanish as well).

The first article details how you can help your child at home with their handwriting skills. Start by watching your child when they are writing to see if there are any obvious issues—is their hand tiring or are they having trouble holding their pencil correctly? Talk to your child’s teacher as well to see if what you saw at home is also happening in the classroom. The teacher may also have some suggestions for how you can help at home. Other suggestions from the article include:

The article also includes suggestions on how your child’s school can help as well.

The second article focuses on the specific ways that children may be struggling to write neatly. It details things to look for when your child is writing and how those struggles may show up in what they are putting down on paper. The article also covers the reasons your child may be struggling with their handwriting as well, including their age and developmental status, issues with motor skills, learning disabilities, and even simply being impulsive and rushing through their school work.

It is also important to reassure your child that learning handwriting is a complicated skill, but that it is a skill that can be learned and they can improve. Check out the two articles for more information.

Illinois PTA Policy on Fundraising and Alcohol

In response to an increasing number of questions from PTAs regarding fundraising and alcohol, the Illinois PTA State Board of Directors has adopted the following policy for local PTAs, PTA Councils, districts, regions, and the State Board of Directors.

Like every PTA activity, fundraising should be conducted in alignment with our mission: to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families to advocate for all children. Likewise, National PTA policy states that PTAs should refrain from accepting funds from businesses engaged in activities inconsistent with the PTA mission and positions (e.g., alcohol, tobacco, and firearms). To help provide guidance regarding PTAs and alcohol, the Illinois PTA has adopted the following policy.

  • PTAs may not directly sell alcoholic beverages under any circumstances.
  • Sealed bottles of alcohol may be included in silent auction items provided that the auction is held off school property and the contents are not opened during the event or on the premises. PTAs are not to purchase alcohol for such auctions, but may auction donated bottles of alcohol.
  • PTAs are strongly encouraged to refrain from serving alcoholic beverages at PTA events. If alcohol is served, the PTA may not serve it. A licensed establishment or catering company must be used to serve alcohol. PTAs may not sell alcoholic beverages through ticket sales.
  • Alcohol may not be served at events where children are present.
  • Under no circumstances are PTA funds to be used to purchase alcohol or to reimburse purchases of alcohol. This includes reimbursement for alcohol purchased with a meal while a person is representing PTA (e.g., while attending convention).

PTAs should also be aware that Illinois law prohibits open containers of alcohol on “public school district property on school days or at events on public school district property when children are present.” In addition, your county or municipal government may have additional restrictions regarding alcohol sales.

Help with 5 Tough Questions About Teens, Alcohol, and Drugs

With marijuana legalization legislation pending in the General Assembly, families may need to have more discussions about its use. While the proposed legislation would legalize marijuana for those over 21, Illinois PTA continues to follow the bill regarding parts that may affect those under 21, including drug education requirements, protections to prevent sales to those under 21, and expungement of criminal records of those convicted of possession.

Great Schools! published an article answering five tough questions about teens, alcohol, and drugs. While many parents know the basic facts to convey to their child about these issues, there are several nuances that parents may struggle with how to address:

  1. Does talking to my child about drugs or alcohol get them thinking about something they’re otherwise oblivious to?
  2. Should I offer a safe ride home no matter what?
  3. Should I share my own history?
  4. Should my kid learn about drinking at home?
  5. How can I tell if my kid is smoking pot?

The article answers each of these difficult questions with help from experts, and these are important discussions to have with your child. As Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) notes, one in five teens binge drink, but only one in 100 parents think it’s happening.

Is Your PTA a Clique?

Today’s guest post comes from Washington State PTA with some advice on how to avoid having your PTA seen as a clique.

Sometimes, the reason more people don’t join your PTA is because they feel unwelcome. Whether warranted or not, your PTA may have a reputation as a clique. Overcoming this common issue can be challenging because it requires the focus and commitment of your group as a whole.

The first obstacle to overcome – and the spot where most groups get stuck – is agreeing there’s a problem. When a PTA is labeled a clique, most leaders instinctively go on defense, arguing all the reasons the label isn’t accurate. And, in many cases, a group may have a compelling argument as to why that perception is wrong. However, it doesn’t matter. The simple truth is this: if your PTA is perceived as a clique, it IS a clique. And the more you argue that point, the stickier the label becomes and the harder to remove.

Think about it: how often does a group of friends decide to call themselves a “clique?” Pretty much never, right? But you can probably think of several examples of cliques you’ve encountered in your life. Groups get labelled “cliques” by those who consider themselves outside of one. In other words, it’s a matter of how others perceive your group. Perception is reality; that is, others’ perception of your group is the reality of your group’s reputation.

Once you’ve come to terms with your PTA’s public perception, the only way to change that reputation is with consistent action over a sustained period of time. Your board (or other group of leaders) must dedicate the time and consistency required for the change to happen. Each person must be willing to change how things are done, which can be a hard pill to swallow for an established PTA. Even if a board member disagrees with a change, they must be able to rise above their personal feelings for the benefit of the group. Naysayers are always on the hunt for a sign that things haven’t really changed, and if anyone in your group isn’t walking the talk, that person will become the “sign” those naysayers seek.

Once your board owns up to its reputation as a clique and agrees to do what’s necessary to change, the real work begins. The quickest way to combat a negative public perception is to analyze those actions that are creating that perception and then change them (and don’t assume you already know – that’s what got your PTA in this dilemma in the first place). Sometimes it’s possible to gather this information through a constructive discussion among honest, well-intentioned stakeholders. However, that’s often not an option, in which case your board should take time to walk through all of your PTA’s touchpoints with “the public” and consider where there may be opportunities to improve your perception as a welcoming group. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. At every PTA function, proactively seek out any new faces and introduce yourself. You might not recognize them, but they probably recognize you. Undoubtedly, you are that person “from the PTA,” and the way you behave toward them is the biggest factor in determining their opinion of your group.
  2. Regardless of your good intent, do not huddle together with fellow board members in private conversation during PTA events. If you catch yourself doing this, agree to separate out and canvas the area.
  3. Get folks on a level playing field by asking everyone to wear name tags at meetings and events, from the president to the first-time attendee.
  4. Communicate to families in the languages they speak. Find a parent or community member who can help translate materials and even serve as an interpreter at meetings. Make sure to advertise the availability of interpreters and materials to encourage participation among diverse groups. Don’t forget to personally tell them how happy you are that they’re in attendance.
  5. Eliminate the practice of having the board sit together (or at a head table) at membership meetings. Minimize side conversations, inside jokes, and chit-chat, which can make newcomers feel like outsiders.
  6. Explain each piece of business, and steer clear of obscure terms and insider jargon. Don’t assume “everyone knows that.”
  7. Instead of having board members volunteer together at an event, assign a mix of new and old volunteers to each station or shift.

While there will always be critics, it’s up to you to decide which words may have some truth behind them. And, since the clique label is a matter of others’ perception, it’s usually a good idea to pay attention to others labeling your PTA a clique. You may uncover a multitude of opportunities to improve your reputation, increase your membership, and broaden your volunteer base.