81 Days to Victory

By Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D. ©2016

Today, June 25th, is a day to celebrate. It has been 81 days since I rode my bike on one of my regular 10 to 12 mile routes. For weeks I’ve only been riding on neighborhood streets. Then onto busier streets. A 3 mile loop finally ends at home.

Then a few weeks ago, I ventured a little further. I rode through ¼ of the roundabout on Coffee and Clarabelle. I’d been holding my breath hoping for no cars. Then unexpected tears. Tears of both relief and joy. You made it through part of the roundabout. You go girl!

I miss this. Being outside around nature and riding . . . fast. A few more tears of gratefulness and I’m safely home again, this time after 8 miles.

Today I ride 12 miles through ½ the roundabout, across Kiernan towards Highway 108, past the Kohl’s shopping center, and back home. A day like today needs a worthy celebration. A chocolate lava meltdown from Cold Stone is perfect for this occasion.

Why am I celebrating today? On March 5th I finished the 40-mile Blossom Trail Ride in Reedley. Exactly a month later I was in a bike accident. That accident was 81 days ago.

I was riding my bike to my nail appointment. A young truck driver got tired of waiting for the drivers in front of him to turn left onto busy Sylvan Road. He began backing up. I was behind him and yelled. All I remember is my bike going under the truck and being thrown off my bike.IMG_8515

Two ladies arrived to help. They took photos and obtained pertinent information. One called my husband. When my scared husband showed up, he was relieved to see me standing.

That night I wrote in my journal. “Lord, I’m thankful. It could have been much worse. I hurt my shoulder and bruised my elbow. Tonight my lower back started hurting. I feel lousy.”

But before I finished my journal my thankfulness turned to anger. “Lord, could you just give me a break? It’s hard enough dealing with my brain impairment. How much suffering do I need, to learn more about You? I could have left one minute earlier or later and not been hit.”

I didn’t tell very many people about the accident. I didn’t post it on Face book. I spent most of my time talking or I should say venting to one person – God.

Four days later I wrote, “I’m upset that I had another trial come my way. Some people are grateful and say, ‘It could have been worse.’ Well, it also could NOT have happened at all. I’m tired of trying day after day.”

“Why did this happen? Why would God make something I did to get better, now become a source of fear? It makes no sense. Why is life so continually hard?”

Before the accident I viewed bike riding as fun. It brought me great joy. Oh, and I got exercise too. Being outside in God’s world is the most peaceful activity I do.

It’s easy to view bike riding as an extreme sport only for thrill seekers. Riding is certainly not for older women. Or anyone else who isn’t crazy.

I still wish the accident hadn’t happened, but it did. My choice was how I’d respond to God and my accident.

I’m not mad at God anymore. I healed mentally and emotionally. My arm and shoulder are fine but my back still hurts. I had more residual strength than I realized and got back on track quicker than I anticipated. I got back on my bike and kept talking to God. My joy of riding gradually returned.

My daughter reminded me of the hundreds of miles I’d ridden when God protected me. God protected me the day of the accident too. At the time, however, I just didn’t see it.

I’m not a thrill seeker or crazy; however I am an older woman. I just want to ride . . . and I am. Right along with God at my side.


First Grade “New” to Kinders: Parent Action Tips

First Grade by North Media [www.flickr.com]

By Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D.

Your first grader now attends school all day rather than the typical half day kindergarten at most schools. Parents may feel confident their child is used to school routines, but several aspects of first grade are “new” to kinders.

Here’s what may be “new” in your child’s first grade day and parent action you can take to help your child adjust quicker to first grade.

New: First graders eat lunch at school and have more recesses

My grandson Parker couldn’t wait until he became a first grader. “Matthew* says we get more recesses.”

I try to shed reality on the situation. “But you’ll be in school longer.”

“But I have more recesses.” His statement is actually true. Parker’s third grade friend trumps Grams.

“I hope it works out for you,” I add.

He excitedly informed me the other night, “I have recess after breakfast, in the morning, at lunch, and in the afternoon. I have four recesses.” What could be more important to first grade boys and maybe some girls?

Parker’s used to eating a snack during the morning recess because his kindergarten teacher called it “snack recess.” It’s lunch that’s the challenge. He’s so excited for recess, he barely eats his lunch.

Parent Action: Check to see if your child’s school site requires students to eat a certain amount of time before they are dismissed. If not, make a suggestion. Ideally schools should require students to eat for at least ten minutes. Most kids will eat if can’t leave.

Otherwise, your first grader may not be eating much at lunch or skipping lunch all together. For kids who eat hot lunch at school, requiring time to eat is especially important since parents don’t have any idea if their child is eating or not.

Parent Action: Share with your child your expectations for eating lunch. For example, “Eat half your sandwich and your sliced apples before you go out to play. You can eat your chips for afternoon snack.” Periodically check back with your child and see how eating lunch is going.

New: Bathrooms are located outside the classroom

When your little one attends preschool and kindergarten, typically the bathroom is inside the classroom or nearby. In most of these programs children use the bathroom whenever needed.

Bathroom During Recess. In first grade, children are expected to use the bathroom during recess. But how do they know that? What if they have to go during class? Do they interrupt the teacher? Do they wait until the teacher stops talking? What if they can’t wait anymore? That’s when accidents happen.

Parent Action: Talk to your first grader about bathroom situations. Make sure the child understands when and how to ask the teacher. Explain what to do if an accident happens. Assure your child that accidents happen even in elementary school.

New: There will be more children in the classroom and less adult help

Many school districts attempt to place a smaller number of children in kindergarten than in higher grades. Some schools expect the afternoon kindergarten teacher to “help” during the morning and vice-versa. Kindergarten teachers often have more parent/adult volunteers than other grades. More children in the class can mean less one-on-one time and less nurturing from the teacher. Additionally, the class may also have fewer volunteers which equates to less adult help.

Parent Action: Your child may need to adjust to less one-on-one assistance from an adult. Talk to your child about what to do if he/she is stuck and needs the teacher’s help. Maybe your child can ask a table partner or look at the directions on the dry erase or chalk board. Find out what helps your child.

Parent Action: If at all possible, try to occasionally volunteer in your child’s classroom. Some employers provide time off from work so parents can volunteer at school or chaperone field trips. Parker’s school is fortunate that they still have field trips. Sometimes they walk to the nearest high school for a program in a larger auditorium and sometimes they take a bus.

Help from Home. If you have limited time, offer to work on a home project that helps your child’s class. Teachers most always have things volunteers can do. Perhaps you can label file folders, count fundraiser money, or cut paper for an activity.

With a better understanding of what’s “new” to first graders and trying some parent action tips, before you know it first grade will not feel so “new” to both you and your child.

That is until your child is a “new” second grader!

* Fictitious name


Back-to-School: Kids & Sleep

sleep-531211_960_720 [pixabay.com]Ahhhh, summer vacation. Swimming, camping, amusement parks, and later bed times for children. But school is just around the corner. How can parents help get their children’s sleep back on schedule so they’re not tired when school starts and the alarm goes off way earlier than in the summer?

Before School Starts

About two weeks before school starts, calculate how much earlier your children need to get up for school. For example, is your child is sleeping in until 9:00 AM and will have to get up at 7:00 AM for school, that’s two hours. Figure out roughly how much earlier they need to get up each day so that they’re ready for the school alarm clock. If they got up just ten minutes earlier every day, they’d be on track for the earlier wake-up time.

How much sleep?

While you’re figuring out their wake-up times, just how much sleep does your child need? The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2012) recommends that school age children (kindergarteners to 8th graders) need 9 to 10 hours of sleep. 9th and 10th graders need 9.25 hours while 11th and 12th graders need 8.5 hours. Your child needs more sleep if he/she has challenges getting up in the morning. Obviously, if your child falls asleep during school, he/she needs more sleep.

Sleep & Behavior

Another reason your child may need more sleep if they are overly active and/or acting out. Make bedtime consistent, relaxing routine. For younger children, a bath and story time are positive ways to end the day. If your children are sensitive to caffeine and/or sugar, eliminate these in the evenings. Don’t forget, chocolate contains caffeine.


Keep electronics out of the bedroom two hours before bedtime. Even the light from televisions or electronic devices can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps aides sleep. Following these suggestions and a healthy breakfast will help your child be ready to learn when he/she returns to school this fall.

Photo Source: sleep-531211_960_720 [pixabay.com]

Children’s Books Can Help Kids’ Back-to-School Jitters

By Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D. ©2016

Most everyone gets nervous when they start something new. This is often true for children returning to school. One way parents can be proactive is reading stories about going back to school. This feels safer for children because someone else is facing challenges. Here are some books you may enjoy reading to your child. A Tiger Tale

Two new books for 2016 look good. For children entering kindergarten, check out On the First Day of Kindergarten by Tish Rave. Another new fun story is A Tiger Tail: (Or What Happened to Anya on Her First Day of School) by Mike Boldt.

First Day JittersOne of my favorite stories is First Day Jitters by Julie Dannenburg & Judy Love (2000). The character has endless excuses why she can’t go to school. The end has a fun twist. The character is the teacher, not the child. Great story for new teachers too.

If you haven’t read The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn (1993) you’re missing a great story. Mrs. Racoon shares a family secret that helps raccoon Chester adjust to being away from Mom. The Kissing Hand

This School Year Will Be the BEST! by Kay Winters (2013) puts a positive spin on the school year. I like the upbeat ideas and positive outlook on school. Another book with a positive slant is Kindergarten Rocks by Katie Davis (2008).

Many familiar characters are featured in back-to-school books. Stories with familiar characters include:

  • Clifford Goes to Kindergarten by Norman Bridwell (2015);
  • Splat the Cat: Back to School, Splat! by Rob Scotten (2011);
  • The Berenstain Bears Go to School by Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain (Deluxe edition, 2016);
  • Curious George’s First Day of School by H. A. Rey (2005); and
  • Curious George Goes to School by H. A. Rey and Margret Rey (1989).

What are your favorite back-to-schools books? How do they help your children adjust to this fall event?


Exploring God’s World: Nature Smart


Kylie (2 1/2) brushing goat at Oakland Zoo, March 2015

It’s already the middle of summer. Your kids have seen all the summer hit movies. Maybe it’s time to turn off the TV and electronics and spend some time outdoors.

Being outdoors is a great way to develop another one of the multiple intelligences: nature smart. This is my favorite intelligence. In this blog, you’ll find many activities to do with your children and grandchildren.

Nature Smart Characteristics

    • Strong connection to outdoors 1
    • Exhibits outdoor imaginative play using environment (dirt, sand, plants) 2
    • Likes to spend time outdoors observing plants/animals, collecting nature items, catching insects, butterflies 1
    • Collects nature items & sorts them 3

Activities to Develop Nature Smart

  • Turn off TV/electronics & go outside; 3 the natural world becomes part of play 4
  • Take walks and hikes
  • Explore nature items (shells, pinecones, branches, seeds, feathers, tree stumps, rocks, dirt)
  • Point out intricacies of God’s creations
  • Grow something or take care of small animal; learn about life cycle/seasons 3
  • Choose nature friendly day trips & vacations 3
  • Visit pet stores, aquariums, zoos & museums
  • Make a family nature journal that everyone contributes to 4
  • Nature journal ideas: record facts, identify plants/animals, draw, collect nature items & glue in journal 4
  • “Vacationing with the Bears” – Pitch a tent & camp in your backyard
  • In the backyard – identify local plants; animals; insects; count birds; build a bird feeder, look for dead items 1
  • Take a nature walk and collect seasonal items
  • Then create nature art: make collage, pine cone animals, leaf-people, feather poster 4
  • Use photos & books about animals and the natural world to explain topics that are interesting 5


Book of Stuff to Do. http://www.discovertheforest.org/what-to-do/

Parent Guide. http://www.discovertheforest.org/what-to-do/



  1. Multiple Intelligences: Understanding Your Child’s Learning Style. Sue Douglass Fliess on March 5, 2009. http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Multiple_Intelligences/ Accessed April 4, 2016.
  2. Multiple Intelligencers Summary Wheel. Kathleen Rowlands. January 8, 2005. www.csun.edu/~rowlands/content/Academic_/Resource/Diversity. Accessed April 4, 2016.
  3. 6 Activities To Strengthen Children’s Nature-Smarts. January 5, 2013 by Maureen (Mo) Weinhardt, MS. http://growingwithyourchild.com/6-activities-to-strengthen-childrens-nature-smarts/ Accessed April 1, 2016.
  4. Smart Parenting: Using the Multiple Intelligences at Home. December 23, 203 by Julie Lemming. decodedparenting.com/smart-parenting-usingmultiple-intelligences… Accessed April 1, 2016.
  5. How Is Your Child Smart? www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/thinking-skills. Accessed 4/1/2016.
  6. Multiple Intelligences in Early Childhood. University of South Florida, Education Department http://www.coedu.usf.edu/~morris/multi_ec.html Accessed 2/11/2003.



Pushing Students Out of School: How Did We Get Here?

by Dr. Marian Fritzemeier Ed.D. © 2016

Why did laws intended to make schools safer backfire?

Zero Tolerance. In 1994 schools across the United States implemented Zero Tolerance policies chid handcuffed [flickr.com]after federal legislation required expulsion for one year when students brought a weapon to school. Many schools expanded this policy to reduce possession or use of illicit and prevent violence.

A multitude of “misbehaviors” escalated to more than 3 million students suspended from schools in 2010. This is double the number of suspensions in the 1970s. Traditional punishment is not working in schools across the country.

Why are American schools pushing students out of school?

Downward Spiral. The increase in suspensions has created a downward spiral for countless students. Students are suspended, often unsupervised which allows opportunities to get into further trouble. Students return to school but their behavior is not only unchanged, they often return angry and resentful. These students typically continue inappropriate behaviors which results in more suspensions.

Why do American schools suspend so many students?

School-to-Prison Pipeline. Every day that students miss school, they fall further behind. The more class they miss, the less likely they are to graduate. Those who miss too much school often end up dropping out and find themselves in trouble with the law. This practice of pushing students out of schools towards the juvenile and criminal justice systems is referred to as the school-to-prison pipeline.

Is there any hope for students?

Restorative Practices. Restorative Practices (RP) has its roots in Restorative Justice. This is a newer field of study that is being used in schools to improve student’s accountability, repair harm, and restore relationships. Many schools are effectively using RP to address the school-to-prison pipeline. RP is used with all students, beginning with building community amongst students and staff.

What can reverse this trend?

Innovative Success. We need to explore alternatives to traditional discipline that increase student responsibility, and decrease classroom disruptions, suspensions and expulsions. To find out more about these innovating strategies that are positively changing the lives of students on my web page http://fromdiaperstodiamonds.com/restorative-practices/

To view your U.S. school district’s suspension rates visit http://www.schooldisciplinedata.org/ccrr/index.php

Image source: child handcuffed [flickr.com]


5 Reasons I Believe in Public Schools

By Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D. ©2016

Are you trying to decide where your children or perhaps grandchildren will attend school this fall? Are you considering a school change? Years ago parents had limited school options.

But today’s education options abound: home school, charter school, online education, private school, and public school. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. However, as a long time public school educator there are 5 reasons I believe in public schools.my-school-1 Sadiya Durrani [freeimages.com]

  1. All children are given the opportunity for a free education where children’s uniqueness, beliefs, and values are respected.
  2. Children experience diversity in public schools which prepares them for our diverse and rapidly changing society. Children learn alongside children who are like them as well as those who are different from them whether it is language, ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, and/or religion.
  3. Children learn in an inclusive environment: from special needs children to typically developing children to gifted children. Children are not denied admission based on their abilities.
  4. Children get exercise by walking or riding their bikes to school or parents can meet neighborhood parents and carpool.
  5. Children can play after school with friends because they live close by. Parents can easily create occasions to know their children’s friends and their parents/caregivers.

Bickering kids? Try People Smart Activities

By Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D.

Are your kids arguing with one another? Are they grouchy and hard to get along with? Try one of the eight Multiple Intelligences: People Smart. In this blog, you’ll find characteristics of people smart and activities to do with your kids to foster People Smart.

People Smart Characteristics

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Verbal, non-verbal communication
  • Understands others’ feelings; empathizes
  • Works /plays cooperatively in a group
  • Understands feelings from facial expressions, gestures & voice

Activities to Develop People Smart

First time 2 year-old Kylie plays Hungry, Hungry Hippo with cousins Parker 6, and Khloe 4.

First time 2 year-old Kylie plays Hungry, Hungry Hippo with cousins Parker 6, and Khloe 4

  • Play old-fashioned board games
  • Make up words & play body language charades (whisper word for pre-readers)
  • Read Bible stories that feature character traits. For example, Daniel in the lion’s den and courage. Focus on ways the family can demonstrate the selected trait this week. At the end of the day, ask how each person used the trait.
  • Serve God by helping others. Ask your kids for ideas or give them choices, such as: make a card of encouragement & mail/deliver it; visit an elderly person; bake cookies for a busy neighbor; serve the homeless; bring a meal to a widow or invite a widow for a meal; mow the lawn for someone who’s sick or an elderly neighbor
  • “What would you do if . . . ?” Create age-appropriate stories where school-age kids face a dilemma. Ask, “What would you do if . . . ?” Great discussion starters. (School-Age)

What can you do this week? Please share what you tried.

Additional Resources

Celebrate 4th of July with Music Smart Activities

By Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D.

Ahhhh, summer vacation. Your kids have only been out of school for a few weeks. You had great hopes that this summer would be different. But somehow, the kids are already bickering and complaining, “I’m bored.” Thank goodness the 4th of July is coming soon.American Flag [pixabay.com]

Multiple Intelligences: Music Smart

Lucky for you, there are many fun activities that you can do with your children that enhance Multiple Intelligences. One of the eight multiple intelligences is Music Smart. With the 4th of July coming soon, Music Smart can add fun to your 4th of July celebrations.

Characteristics of Music Smart

  • Loves to listen to music, sing, hum, whistle, move to rhythm, create & replicate tunes
  • May show sensitivity to surrounding noise
  • Speaks or moves in rhythmic way
  • Awareness of melody
  • Creates melody & rhythm

Activities to Develop Music Smart

Kylie's new rain stick

Kylie’s New Rain Stick

  • Let’s get patriotic. Sing-a-long with patriotic songs on YouTube. You and your kids may be unfamiliar with old traditional songs that your parents and grandparents learned in school. Try America the Beautiful; My Country ‘Tis of Thee; God Bless America; Halls of Montezuma; and Yankee Doodle.
  • Don’t forget the popular country song God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood. One of my favorites is Coming to America by Neil Diamond played at full blast.
  • Create songs to remember new things (or use familiar tune with new words)
  • Perform sound and vibration experiments: i.e. fill glasses with different amounts of water (school age)
  • Expose to different kinds of music & instruments. A rain stick is one of my favorites (photo)
  • Play nature “music.” I buy souvenir CDs of places I visit, such as The Sounds of Yosemite; The Living Desert; The Sounds of the Grand Canyon

    2016 La Quinta Jan

    Khloe and Kylie Dancing

  • Dance with music; make up a dance, dance silly, do the Macarena, the Twist, Chicken Dance, and Electric Slide
  • Provide long ribbons or scarves for children to use while dancing (photo)
  • In the car, sing along to a wide variety of music via radio/satellite/CDs
  • Use pots and pans to teach rhythm and tones
  • Make homemade musical instruments
  • Have a parade with homemade instruments and/or rhythm band instruments

Additional Resource



Image source: American flag [pixabay.com]

World Giraffe Day (June 21, 2016)

C DSC_0505 - Copy - CopyB 10 DSC_0518 - Copy - Copy (2)A 9 DSC_0523 - CopyBy Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D.

I’ve loved giraffes since I was a little girl. My mom would ask me, “What sound does the giraffe make?”

“No noise,” I answered while shaking my head no.

I was excited to learn that there’s a World Giraffe Day. Every time I visit the Palm Springs area, I visit The Living Desert. The first exhibit I visit is the giraffes.

I go see “my baby” giraffe. I enjoy watching him grow up. I’m including some of my favorite photos.

Another baby giraffe was born this spring but I don’t have any photos yet. When I visit in July, you can bet that I’ll go directly to the giraffes to see “my babies.”

Do Giraffes Make Noise?

Giraffes don’t usually make any sounds although they do have a developed larynx. 1 The larynx is located up at the head end of the neck.

Raymond Nakamura states, “Giraffes have narrower trachea than other big mammals which reduces the amount of dead air. They breathe slowly and have disproportionately large lungs to accommodate this dead air.” 1

Because of this, giraffes can only run for short periods of time. They also don’t have a lot of extra air for making sounds. So now you know.


What does a giraffe sound like? By Raymond Nakamura. March 24, 2011. https://www.scienceworld.ca/blog/what-does-giraffe-sound. Accessed 6/21/20