The Gift of Reading

I read a lot. Back when I was a child, I would use a flashlight under the covers after bedtime so I could get some more reading time. At least until my mother busted me…

In the sixth grade, I turned in so many book reports that my reading certificate was covered front and back with the “extra report” gold seal stickers that represented 10 books each. I thought it looked ridiculous, so even though I kept reading at about the same rate in subsequent grades (about 4-6 books a week), I only turned in enough book reports to get the certificate and one gold seal, and then stopped doing the reports.

Because of my reading skills, I did very well in school. I have also done very well in a highly technical career.

I took great care to pass my love of reading on to my daughter, starting by reading aloud to her while she was still an infant. Amazingly, it was the one activity for which she would remain calm and still for almost an unlimited time, so I would read to her for an hour or more almost every evening after I got home from work. She also did well in school and college, and is now a teacher.

Unfortunately, not every child develops good reading skills. In that case, the child has a tremendous handicap. The child with a reading handicap is very unlikely to do well at academics, and also unlikely to have a rewarding career.

There are a variety of factors that can contribute to poor reading skills. One big one is nutrition, which is a large topic probably more suited to another blog post. Another is a basic failure of the public school system. For this, I have a suggestion. Well, more than one suggestion, but I’ll stick with a Politically Correct one here.

Ari Fertel, Inventor of <a href="">Reading Buddy</a>

Ari Fertel, Inventor of Reading Buddy

If you have a grandchild (or child — but if you are a baby-boomer, your children are likely to be grown, so I’m assuming grandchildren, or even great-grandchildren) who is a struggling reader, I would recommend Reading Buddy. It is an interactive reading program that will dramatically improve your grandchild’s reading fluency in a matter of a few weeks. It is the invention of a lady named Ari Fertel, who had a child with a reading disability, and decided that there had to be a better way to address that problem than hiring a reading tutor.

She did several years of research into how best to teach reading fluency, and came up with the program she now calls Reading Buddy. This program can be used by a child with a reading deficit for an hour or more every day, and will result in noticeable improvement in reading ability almost immediately.

It has several advantages over a reading tutor. For starters, it can be used on whatever schedule is best for the student, typically every day for at least a half-hour. Paying a skilled reading tutor to come in every day on an arbitrary schedule would cost a fortune.

To use Reading Buddy, the parent/guardian first sets up a reward system. This isn’t done as a default, because only someone close to the child will know what sorts of rewards work best. The rewards can be almost anything from a trip to the ice cream shop to a special toy. As it turns out, monetary rewards don’t work as well for most children, but you can be the judge for that for your case.

The program then takes over, with an entertaining set of characters designed to appeal to children in elementary or middle school. It provides an engaging set of exercises to keep the child absorbed in the process for a extended time, in a game-like setting that awards “points” toward various levels of prizes as determined by the parent or guardian who set it up. It’s designed to be practically addictive!

In addition to the improvement in reading fluency, you should also notice substantial improvement in attention span.

Who knows… You (or the child’s parents) may have to “bust” him or her for reading with a flashlight under the covers after bedtime. Just be sure to tell the child that you are tickled pink about the new-found enjoyment of reading, but that sleep is important, too.

Reading Buddy has a 30-day free no-risk trial. Your grandchild could be using it today.

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Travel Tips for Seniors

seniortraveltips(This is a guest post by Nancy Elizabeth).

Traveling isn’t just for young people! Seniors can also get out and see the world. The best part about this is that businesses nowadays are doing a better job of catering to elders’ needs.

While there are some places that are not practical for seniors, seniors can still enjoy traveling. Here are a few tips that should help:

  1. Backup Plan

Youth in their twenties can travel around Europe without having too much worry even if their hostel was full because they can sleep anywhere. When you were that young you could just decide to sleep on a train but not today. As a senior traveler, you should have a plan that takes care of unique health and security concerns. But what do you do in case your plan doesn’t work? This where a backup plan comes in handy. For instance, if the hotel you read about in the area you are visiting is full or the medical clinic you read about is no longer functioning instead of starting to plan again, you just use the backup plan.

  1. Research about the Accessibility of the Sites you’re visiting

Let’s say you are planning to cruise around a certain lake then upon arrival you just realized that you have to climb down a steep slope before getting to the dock, and once at the dock you have to jump from the dock into the boat. Most seniors have health issues that can’t allow them do such things. So it is important to first ask about sites accessibility. Normally, a cruise company that caters to seniors should already have that figured out – so if somebody is trying to sell you an excursion that is past your physical ability, you should seriously reconsider doing business with that company.

  1. Travel Security

Scam artists and pickpockets take senior travelers as easy targets. The best way to avoid possible problems is by traveling in groups or with a trusted escort. You can decide to travel in groups of four or five but not alone. Your group should include a few young able-bodied men if at all possible. If for any reason you decide to travel alone, then it is highly recommended for you to have some travel security items. One such item is a money belt that can be used to hide passport, credit cards and cash. Another important item you need to have are travel locks and RFID-protected wallets. But better not to travel alone.

  1. Carry Friendly Luggage

It is not a must to carry everything while traveling, carrying only a few important personal belongings might help you avoid lugging yourself while walking to the nearest bus station. While traveling it is better to have a luggage that is ultra-light, easy to carry and manage. The luggage should also offer multiple carrying options such as top handlers and shoulder strap.

The senior travel market is growing fast and many airlines and hotels around the coming up with ways to handle elders’ unique travel requirements. For example, you can request extra-firm mattresses, special pillows, or other items that may help keep you comfortable.

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Baby Boomers: Do You Have a Travel System?

Do you have a travel system?

Every time my husband and I go on a cruise, we bring out the packing list just a few days before the trip and start packing, just like most people do. After packing all our bags, the big day comes and we start our trip. But, unlike many others, we have a travel-system that serves us well, particularly on leaving day. Do you?

Pretty flowers in Jamaica today

Pretty flowers in Jamaica today

What I mean by a travel system is that I first make a list of the things that are of the most important to us. Things that either we could not do without, or that would ruin our trip if we forgot. For example:

I make sure our home coffee maker, which is a restaurant model and keeps the water hot all the time, is emptied and turned upside down in our kitchen sink. Why? Because if we left it on and didn’t fill it with water, as in making coffee, the water would evaporate quickly, expose the heating coils, and potentially start a fire. Coming home to a pile of ashes is truly not in our plans.

I check to make sure the heater or air conditioner is only set to keep our house at a tolerable level – 85 during the summer and 55 in the winter. This will keep all systems working, but there’s really no reason to keep it at normal living temperature while we are gone.

I make sure that our water heater is set to low so that it doesn’t waste a lot of gas heating water that will be unused, but it will be quick and easy to heat up a tank full of water as soon as we arrive home.

Secondly, once these items are cleared and it’s time to get in the car, I back out of the garage and start asking questions (to both myself and my husband.) Where is your passport? Where are the cruise tickets, parking and hotel tickets? Where is the copy of the travel insurance? How much money is in our wallets? Where are our credit cards? Where are our medicines? Are our cell phones, computers and tablets in the car? The wrong answer to any of these questions necessitates a quick trip back into the house (and has done so more than once.) The best part of all this, while seeming a bit tedious at the time, is that it has saved us many a long return trip to the house, because with important items like medications, we literally could not complete the trip without them.

One would think that this would protect us from forgetting things, but what it actually does is keep us from forgetting things that are absolutely essential. Invariably, once we are actually on a trip, we do discover that this or that small thing was forgotten, despite all our precautions, but always, they are small things, and our trip continues without major trauma. For example, just two days ago, as we were about to disembark in Cozumel, we noticed that the umbrella we so carefully noted was “with us” on the floorboard of the car…was still on the floorboard of the car, safely parked in Galveston.

And so it goes….

So, do you have a travel system? If you do and you can improve on ours – or just have a different one – we would love to hear about it, so maybe we can improve and refine ours as we go.

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