Spread The Joy Of Reading

Spread The Joy Of Reading

For a lot of people, reading is a favorite pastime. Book lovers can’t wait to get their nose into the next great literary piece and take their mind on an adventure. If that sounds like your child, ask them if they have ever thought about taking their love of reading out into the community. There are many people, young and old, who would love for your child to volunteer to read to them! Below, you’ll find some interesting ways that you and your student can donate time and spread the joy of reading with others.

Become a reading coach at your local school.

There are students in all grade levels that could use help with reading. You could find out if your local elementary, middle, or high school is in need of reading coaches by making a simple phone call to the main office. As a volunteer, you would most likely need to go through a background check but then once that is complete, they will assign you students to work with on a weekly basis. It is a great opportunity to help turn struggling readers into book lovers!

Read to seniors at a nursing home or assisted living.

As people age, their eyesight often worsens to the point where it may be hard, if not impossible, for them to read. Something as simple as reading the major news stories from the daily newspaper would mean a lot to them and have an impact on their daily life. You could also ask what some of their favorite books or authors were and check out some of those books from your local library to read to them. Seniors love anything that reminds them of years past and books are a great way to do that! Contact your local assisted living or nursing home to see if there are any residents that would love to sit with you or your child once a week and read.

Have older siblings read to the younger ones.

Not only does this give you a little break, but it helps your older children learn how to help younger children sound out words and develop a love for reading. Encourage your older child to be very animated when reading aloud to their younger siblings. This keeps the younger sibling more engaged and helps with reading comprehension. If you have an older child who is struggling with reading, they may feel more confident starting with books aimed at younger children to get their rhythm, learn more about putting emphasis on certain words, and further develop an understanding for how sentences flow. Once their confidence level has built up, they may be more encouraged to read grade-level books with you.

Volunteer to read in local hospitals.

When someone is in the hospital, they’re stuck in bed, staring at the wall for days or weeks at a time. It can get monotonous quick! Hospitals, particularly children’s hospitals, have different people that go around and provide various life enrichment services for those who are hospitalized. They may welcome your services and encourage you to read to various patients. Books take the mind to a million different places and could prove to be good “mental therapy” for someone who is stuck in the hospital

 Be a reader for the blind.

Imagine a world where you couldn’t see. Couldn’t see the beauty around you or even where you were walking. Couldn’t see to read a book. That would be tough, to say the least. While there are books in braille, there are also organizations that pair people up with someone who can read to them. These readings may be a book, magazine, newspaper, or even simply their mail. Having someone read aloud to them helps the blind in their daily living and is very rewarding for both the reader and the person being read to. Contact a local organization that helps the blind to ask if there are reading opportunities in your area.

There are many, many ways that your 5-12th grader can get involved in the community as a reading volunteer! We hope that we gave you some great ideas to get them started with their volunteer work. Reading truly transports people to another place and time and takes the mind on a great adventure, so spread the love of reading around!

How do you encourage your child to have a love for reading? We’d love to hear from you so pop over to our Facebook page and let us know!

Adding Physical Activity Into Your Teens Day

Adding Physical Activity Into Your Teens Day

Think back to when your middle or high schooler was a young child. Remember how they were little busy bodies, just bursting with energy? Those days were long and exhausting but you never had to worry if they were getting enough exercise because they never stopped moving, bopping from one activity to the next.

Now you have a tween or young teen. Their days of early rising are a thing of the past and their daily activity level has probably dwindled down. Adolescents tend to turn their attention off of physical activities like sports and dance and onto things like part-time jobs, friends, and their studies. They have a lot to juggle at this age and often times their fitness falls to the wayside.

It’s been shown that people who have led an active life starting at a young age tend to be active and healthy throughout their adult life. We all know that the benefits of an active lifestyle are plentiful. Not only will exercise help your teen to maintain a healthy weight, but people who exercise tend to have better outlooks on life, better overall health, and those who partake in sports have higher self-confidence. Let’s take a look at how you can encourage your teen to add fitness into their daily schedule and get them back on track.

Medical professionals recommend that tweens and teens get one hour or more of physical activity each day. Encourage your teen to incorporate some form of activity each day whether it is skateboarding, bicycling, yoga, swimming, sledding, snowshoeing, football, baseball, karate, etc. The list of exercise possibilities is endless.

Even everyday activities present exercise opportunities. Remember, chores burn calories (plus it frees your day up when the whole family helps with household chores). Need something from the convenience store at the corner? Have your teen walk there instead of driving. Is your teen looking for a part time job? Suggest they try babysitting. Watching kids is a sure way to burn calories because they keep you on your feet!

weight lifting activity

Some form of screen time is being had at most moments of the day, especially when your teen is a virtual learner. It’s no surprise it’s hard for teens to find time to exercise when upwards of eight or more hours each day are spent in front of the screen. This includes watching TV, completing their schooling, browsing online, and playing video games.

Sit down with your teen and discuss how you would like them to find time to add one hour of physical activity into each day. Let them have control on how they want to add it in. They may agree to wake up earlier and get it out of the way first thing. They may wish to break up their school day and clear their mind just before lunch. Or, they may find they like to exercise prior to bed. Anytime is fine as long as they agree to get it in.

Like most things, once you get rolling, the momentum builds and it’s easy to keep going. Exercise reduces stress, increases energy, and gives an overall feeling of good health. Once your teen starts adding daily exercise into their routine, they’ll love the feeling and want to keep going.

Just like when your kids were younger, try to encourage your teen to find activities that they find fun. When someone has fun, they are more apt to keep going. Suggest that they try to have a friend join them in their choice of exercise. They may find it more fun if they have an exercise partner to keep them on track and motivated. Plus, it gives them another opportunity to hang with their friends and what teen doesn’t want that?Physical Activity running

A great way to get your teen interested in exercise is to make it a family affair! Every member of the family will benefit from becoming more physically active. Join a local gym that offers something for everyone and go as a family every night. Becoming a healthier family will be good for everyone and you can help each other stay on track with your physical fitness goals. Be a positive role model for your teen by leading by example. After all, they look to you for guidance and follow in your footsteps.

Make sure that your teens don’t try to run a marathon their first time on the treadmill. If they have led a sedentary lifestyle, they will need to start off slow then build up their momentum. Trying to tackle too much at once will result in injuries and can be discouraging in the long run.

Talk to a doctor if you are concerned about your child not getting enough fitness or if they are at an unhealthy weight. They will be able to give you additional pointers and make sure that your teen is adding in a fitness activity that will best suit them.

Should your child have a medical condition that makes you concerned about them adding in exercise, bring this to your doctor’s attention also. Often times, there are still ways they can stay physically fit but it may take some modifications or shorter time intervals. Their doctors will be able to advise you properly.

Is there a type of activity that your teen enjoys doing? What activities do you do as a family to keep your family fit and active? Leave a comment down below and let us know! For more on how to get your teen motivated physically and mentally, visit our Facebook page.

Take A Trip Back In Time This Summer At Mackinac Island

Take A Trip Back In Time This Summer At Mackinac Island

There’s nothing that can make you feel more like a Michigander in summer than feeling the breeze off of the Great Lakes, smelling fudge in the air, and hearing the clip-clopping of horses as you stroll through Mackinac Island.

For a lot of Michigan natives (and others, too!), summer isn’t complete without a trip to Mackinac Island. It’s a place of total relaxation. After all, you can’t engage in the hustle and bustle of city life when there are no cars allowed on the Island and you’re transported back to a historical time. Mackinac Island manages to have the perfect mix of history, nature, attractions, amenities, and old-time fun packed into an area that’s less than 4 square miles. It’s a true Michigan gem.

Here are some things to keep in mind when planning a family trip to Mackinac Island this summer:

Ferry Fun

Since cars are not allowed on the Island, you’ll have to park them on the mainland and board the ferry. You can catch a ferry from either Mackinaw City (Lower Peninsula) or St. Ignace (Upper Peninsula). Choose from Shepler’s Ferry, or Star Line Ferry for service to and from the Island. All the fares are comparable but keep your eyes peeled for coupons. Enjoy the 30-minute ride inside the lower deck or sit and enjoy the cool breeze and freshwater mist on the open-air deck. Regardless of where you sit, make sure to take in the spectacular view of the 5-mile long Mackinac Bridge. If you have overnight accommodations, your hotel may offer horse-drawn shuttle service to the hotel or luggage service, so be sure to ask when booking your reservation.

Bed and Breakfast Accomodations

Accommodations

When looking for overnight accommodations on Mackinac Island, you will notice one thing: there are no chain hotels. You can stay anywhere from a quaint bed-and-breakfast to a full service resort. Some resorts have golf courses and other attractions. Others offer bike rentals and pools. Be sure to ask questions when booking your reservation because some hotels have dress codes while others might be more family-friendly.

Souvenirs

One thing that most visitors end up taking home as a souvenir is the Island’s famous fudge. There are a plethora of flavors to pick from and kids and adults alike will enjoy watching candy makers create all of the different flavors of fudge through their storefront windowFudge Makings. Each year, “fudgies” (as the locals warmly call fudge-loving tourists) take home thousands of pounds of the delicious, edible memento.

If perishable items aren’t your idea of the perfect souvenir, have no fear! There are plenty of t-shirt and souvenir shops that stock everything from locally crafted gift items to coffee mugs.

Bicycle Rentals

While you can certainly bring your own bike to explore the Island, there are many bicycle rental options once you are there. You can rent single rider bikes, tandems, trailers, and more. Mackinac Island is pretty flat and is a relatively easy 8-mile bike ride around the perimeter of the Island. If you are looking for a more strenuous ride, venture onto the trails that lattice the interior state park land. Pack a lunch and hit the trails for an awesome view of the Island!

Pristine Views

Visitors of Mackinac Island note that one of their favorite things to do while on the Island is to sit and relax by the water. There are no sandy beaches, but it’s beautiful to look at just the same. Make sure to bring good water shoes if you enjoy wading, rock hunting, or exploring the stony shore.

History of Fort MackinacHistorical Fort Mackinac

While on the Island, Fort Mackinac is a must-see! It is quite a climb to reach Fort Mackinac, but once there, the attractions and view are worth it. You will get a wonderful view of the Island and the straits. Employees sport garb that showcases what life was like at the fort during the 1880s. There are lots of hands-on activities to keep children occupied on the compound so make sure to check it out!

For More Information

Looking for more things to do or places to stay on Mackinac Island? Visit the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau website for places to stay, dine, and play. Once on the Island, pay a visit to the Main Street Visitor Booth for brochures, maps, and other information.

Does your family have favorite memories of summers spent on Mackinac Island? Share them in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you and other families would love to hear your experience. Check out our Facebook page for more fun summer activities for you and your family.

Is Your Teen A Couch Potato? Get Them on The Move!

Is Your Teen A Couch Potato? Get Them on The Move!

It seems that as the years go on, our children are becoming more and more sedentary. They are turning to their phones instead of riding bikes and hanging outdoors. Since this has become a societal norm, more teens are becoming overweight than ever before. A lot of teens claim not to have the time in their day to fit in the recommended 60 minutes of exercise. They are bombarded with homework and other obligations, but something is better than nothing. Helping to get your teen off of the couch and on the move will help them lower the risk for all kinds of weight-related diseases. It can be hard to have your teen go from zero to sixty in a day but encouraging them to slowly increase their activity level can have big payoffs in the health department. Check out some tips to get them moving.

Start slow.

If you come at your kid like a bootcamp instructor, their muscles will be very sore the next day and their nerves will be frazzled. This approach rarely works when you’re trying to get your teen to enjoy exercise, especially when just starting out. Instead, take the “dip your toes in” approach. Think of something that is exercise but is also fun. Do they like nature? Try taking them on a canoeing trip. Not an outdoors person? How about taking them to one of the trampoline parks? Those are a fantastic workout! When your child is interested in the activity (and not totally whipped the first time) they are more likely to want to continue doing the activity. Find something they are interested in, and gradually build up their endurance.

Sneak it in during down time.

When your teen is vegging out and watching TV at night, or playing their favorite video game, do quick fitness challenges during commercial breaks or between rounds. When a commercial comes on, challenge everyone to see who can do 10 pushups the fastest or have a sit-up contest. If you’re watching TV you can make up a game where whenever someone says a specific word (such as a character’s name, catch phrase, etc.), everyone does a certain fitness activity. These don’t need to be time consuming activities; they are meant to be short, quick, fun little bursts of exercise sprinkled into their day.

Encourage organized sports.

One good way to get them physically active isTeens playing soccer to encourage them to join a sports team. Do they enjoy playing a fast sport, like basketball? See if there are any teams that they can try out for. Does your teen love playing in the water? Perhaps you can get a membership to your local Y or city rec center and let them swim. If your teen is timid, teams are a great way to get them involved because they’ll have the encouragement of their peers.

Set a good example.

As you often hear people say, your child’s first teacher is you, the parent. Lead by example. Show them what good exercise habits look like. Show them that it’s not a chore to work out, rather it makes your body and your mind feel good and healthy. Let them know that Rome wasn’t built in a day. The results from physical activity will become evident but it takes time. They will be happier and healthier when they come up with a routine that includes exercise into the fold.

As a parent, you have their physical activity under control, let us help your 5-12th grader get their education back on track. If you have a child that is struggling in the traditional school setting, why not give virtual learning a try? Your student gets to work at their own pace, at times that best fit their daily schedule, and from the comfort of their own home – and did we mention this is a tuition-free program? Learn more about all of the exciting opportunities that are available to your student at My Virtual Academy. Please visit our website or call us at 800-297-2119.

Keeping Busy During the Holiday Break

Keeping Busy During the Holiday Break

Students always look forward to a nice, long holiday break but as much as they look forward to it, it takes them about 3 nanoseconds before they utter the dreaded words: I’m bored! To keep things interesting this holiday break, keep these ideas in your pocket and when you hear those dreaded words, be sure to break one of them out to keep your kids entertained and maybe learning something along the way.

Take a break and bake!

Everyone loves enjoying some delicious cookies or cakes during the holidays so why not use this as an opportunity to whip up some new creations? Your culinary skills don’t need to be reserved just to baking – try making up a whole new dinner and follow it up with a delicious dessert!

Your child will learn all about measurements and how things interact with one another to combine and make a culinary masterpiece. To keep things interesting for your older teens, try having them triple the recipes. You could always freeze the dough for later while using it as a time to work on multiplying fractions. If baking cookies, you could decide to follow two different recipes, one that is for cake-like cookies and one that is for chewy. Discuss why the varying ingredients make a difference in the texture.

Do handwritten thank you notes.

Everyone loves to be thanked when they do something nice for someone and gift giving is obviously no exception. If your teen receives something as a gift during the holiday, encourage them to write a heartfelt note of thanks. This will teach them about gratitude as well as let the giver know how much the gift was appreciated. Challenge your teen to use 5 new descriptive words to practice and expand their vocabulary. Everyone is so used to doing things on a computer these days; it’s easy to forget the art of a nice, handwritten thank you note.

Visit the library.Spending break at the library

Reading doesn’t just have to be done as a school assignment. Reading can be done for fun and is a good way to open the lines of communication with your child. You could set time aside to visit the library and then hold your own mini book club. You could either read the book together, discussing as you go, or read it separately and then talk about it once you are both done. Reading keeps our brains growing and developing and is the perfect way to pass time during the break.

Make a craft.

When the weather is frigid outside and you don’t feel like leaving the house, it’s the perfect time to pull your craft supplies together and make a new craft! Maybe you have washi tape and your teen wants to decorate their school supplies, like their stapler and pencil holder. Let them use their imagination and go to town! Perhaps they want to upcycle some of their old clothes into things that they’ll wear again. Go for it! Get those creative juices flowing.

Enjoy a museum.

There are a lot of things to explore when you turn to your local museums. Your teen could learn all about ancient Egypt and see mummies at the Detroit Institute of Arts. You could venture over to Cranbrook Institute of Science and explore all they have to offer. How about going to visit The Henry Ford? That’s one of our nation’s great treasures and it houses a lot of artifacts that your child is sure to find amazing.Enjoy at Museum

Find activities at your local rec center.

Your local recreation center knows kids of all ages will be bored over break so they’ve been busy planning activities to keep their minds occupied! Head over to your local rec center’s website and check out all they have to offer. They usually do some type of dance classes, yoga, karate, crafting, and other local field trip type activities that will keep your kids busy and entertained.

Send them outdoors.

Cold weather typically brings snow and snow opens up a whole new world of outdoor activities. Why not encourage your teen to go skiing or snowboarding at your local ski hill? They could even join up with a bunch of friends and hit the local sledding hill for a couple of hours of fun. Physical activity is not only good for the body, but it’s good for the mind. Make sure they have warm gear and a snack and encourage them to get outside!

Encourage STEM activities.

STEM activities combine science, technology, math, and engineering to complete a project. Have your kids look up some videos on the internet and have them try to copy their project. Get them using their minds to build and create something. Let them use clay, computer coding, wood, batteries, whatever they need to safely make a STEM project. The internet has a vast array of options for winter STEM crafts and we’ve mentioned some on our blog before, so be sure to check them out.

What activities are you planning on doing when your kids are bored this break? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page! We’d love to hear what other families are planning and your comment might be helpful to someone else in our My Virtual Academy community.

If you have any questions regarding our program feel free to call 800-297-2119.

What To Do During All Of These Snow Days?

What To Do During All Of These Snow Days?

A lot of the northern states have been hit by an arctic blast and tons of snow has fallen – all conditions that leave you wondering what could be done to occupy kids and adults alike. The short, cold days of the winter months can leave you cooped up indoors wondering what to do so we compiled a list that is sure to keep people of all ages busy during snow days.

Fun things to do outside:

  • Build a snow fort
  • Make a snowman
  • Go cross-country skiing
  • Find a big sledding hill and go sledding
  • Go ice skating
  • Hike a nature trail and enjoy the winter scenery
  • Have a good old fashioned snowball fight
  • Learn how to ice fish
  • Go snow tubing
  • Try your hand at photographing the beauty of winter
  • Shovel for those in need in your neighborhood
  • If the weather isn’t too frigid, go camping or stay in a cabin

Fun indoor activities:

Sometimes it’s too cold to enjoy outdoor activities but instead of having everyone camped out in front of the TV or their phones, take a turn at these fun indoor activities that are sure to keep everyone entertained, mentally engaged, and physically fit.

  • Have an overnight stay at an indoor waterpark hotel
  • Encourage everyone to pick a new recipe to try for dinner and cook as a family
  • Try a new workout to get the blood pumping. The internet is a great place to go for new videos.
  • Start a book club within your family and read the book together.
  • Look up fun, tropical locations and plan your next family vacation
  • Learn a new card game and hold competitions amongst your family
  • Make a new craft to decorate this spring or valentine’s day
  • Take this time indoors to sort through your closets and compile stuff that can be donated
  • Sign up for an art class or drop in to a local pottery painting studio
  • Visit a local museum or library
  • Join a gym
  • Go to a local senior center and volunteer your time
  • Invite your teens friends over for a slumber party
  • Start filling out college and scholarship applications
  • Take the time indoors to study and prepare for upcoming tests

You may meet some resistance when you try to encourage your tweens and teens to unplug and get active but once they are, they’ll be all into the family activity. For your virtual learners, they can take the time to review their coursework and catch up on any work they are behind on.

How do you keep your family occupied on snow days? Head to our Facebook page and let us know! Others in the My Virtual Academy community would love to hear your ideas too.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding our program our staff is eager to talk to you so please, give us a call at 800-297-2119.