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A Greener, Healthier Cafeteria

Dear EarthTalk: How can we get schools to offer healthier and more eco-friendly cafeteria food to our kids? I don’t have time to bag a healthy lunch every day.
-- Leslie Morris, Richmond, VA

Now that many schools have stopped selling sodas and other unhealthy vending machine items to their students, improving the nutritional quality of cafeteria food is on the agenda of many parents and school administrators. And luckily for the environment, healthier food usually means greener food.

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Homeschooling for Beginners

Ae you considering homeschooling your children? While there is more information out there about homeschooling than ever before, you may not know where to start. So let's take a look at homeschooling, from a beginner's perspective.

"Homeschooling" in a legal sense means that one or more children of not more than 2 families are instructed by parents or legal guardians, or a member of either household. The laws that define homeschooling vary from state to state, and country to country.

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The Stars: A New Way to See Them

A charming new look at constellations that will have your child (and you!) looking up a lot more. H.A. Rey is best known as the creator of "Curious George," but this book may become even more well-loved at your house. He makes finding the constellations--by memory as well as by the book--accessible and fun.

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Teaching Writing to a Reluctant Writer

Like many middle-school-aged boys, my son despised writing assignments when we began homeschooling. Having been forced to do voluminous writing assignments when he was still attending school, his initial reaction when I became his teacher was to protest and argue over every writing assignment I gave him. After much trial and error, I found that the best approach was to give him a lot of latitude in choosing the topics and even what days he would write, at least in the beginning.

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Three Girl Scout Troops, Two Girls (Plus Mom)

Some Mondays, my weekly calendar, posted on the large white dry erase board, is covered with activity. Five different colors, one for each family member makes quite a rainbow. I've even got the dog's schedule written in light yellow. (I don't want to make his activities look too imposing.) It still seems like too much.

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Spice Up Your Child's Lunchbox

After two months in first grade, my daughter was as tired of eating sandwiches as I was of making them. Tuna fish, egg, ham, peanut butter. Day after day. How boring can it get? Even pickles couldn't lift our spirits.

"Pack a hot meal in a thermos," said grandma. But the thermos came back almost full. My daughter only has 15 minutes for lunch. She can take her sandwich outside in the playground if she wishes, but dragging a bowl of spaghetti isn't an option.

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Homeschooling Babies and Toddlers

To be honest, when I first started researching this topic, nigh on almost three years (has it been that long already?), there wasn't much out there to find. It took me almost as long to formulate in my mind something coherent enough for other people to understand even the concept of homeschooling a child who isn't normally considered old enough to be "schooled."

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One-Day Get-Aways

Yes, that's the sound of the school bell again, but don't despair--you and your family can still build in a fun variation of the family vacation on the weekend or their next day off. Mini-vacations offer the same spirit-renewing benefits as their longer counterparts. The LaClairs of upstate New York said that one-day trips are a good match because "they fit into our time schedule and budget."

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