Category Archives: Kids

Some Back-to-School Tips for Parents

By Mac McCarthy, Zenergo
(Parent of twin girls)

Here are some tips for parents to make sure you haven’t forgotten or overlooked anything, as your kids head off to school.

(If your kids are returning to school, these tips can still be useful — it’s an opportunity to be a little more organized than you were last year!)

Get Ready

Buy sturdy backpacks, they get a lot of abuse.

Don’t overbuy school supplies. Buy the smaller size at first to save space and weight in the schoolbag. You can always adjust as the year goes on. You’ll miss out on some back-to-school sales, but you’ll also miss out on buying in volume only to find out you got the wrong kind of notebooks or pens.

Create a homework center.

Have a special box at home where your child can place forms from school, so they don’t get overlooked.

Film canisters make good change purses for the school lunchbox.

Label everything.

Be ready the night before – make lunches and snacks and refrigerate; pack backpacks; check first-day needs and requirements; plan the school week; talk to your student. Lay out clothes.

Pack that backpack as light as you can — it should not be more than 10-20% of your child’s weight.

Go to bed and get up at school hours for several days ahead.

Check with the school for signup dates for sports and social club.

If your child has medical concerns, meet with the school nurse.

Arrange for after-school daycare!

Decide on school-day rules – TV times, homework times, bath time, bed time during school week. Then enforce them.

Make a school calendar to hang on the wall, fill in events and school vacation days — make sure your children check it regularly — and you do so too. This calendar will help ensure that you pay attention to school activities and can stay involved.

Getting to school.

Decide on the best route to school.

Walking: Be aware of the busiest routes and intersections; walk with other parents and kids if you can; use this opportunity to teach pedestrian safety to your kids. Biking: Safe biking is a critical new skill you must teach your youngster, and planning the route is important: Bike to school with your child in the week before school starts, so you can both familiarize yourselves with the route and its potential issues.

Driving: When school starts, quiet streets nearest the school will become busier, and traffic jams at the school drop-off points are common — and also dangerous! Be extra careful maneuvering into and out of the drop-off spot — you don’t want to have a fender-bender the first week back to school!

Taking the school bus: Have you got the bus schedule in hand? Talk to your child about bus safety: Stay seated, no wandering around while the bus is moving, use the seat belt if there is one. And look around when exiting the school bus, don’t just dash out the door and out into the street!

 One More Tip: Join Zenergo

Zenergo is your social manager, and a great place to connect with other parents, to organize and manage the many activities of the parent with school-age children, and to post pictures and share useful documents. Zenergo can make a big difference in helping you stay a step ahead of school-year chaos!

Example: The Parenting Activity Interest checklist

example: The Single-Parenting Activity Interest checklist:

The Kids Activities Interest checklist:

The Education Activity Interest checklist:


Martial Arts Will Teach Your Kids A Lot More Than You Expect!

By Shawn Edmonds
Master Edmonds Academy of Martial Arts

When my son, Joe, was 6, I was going crazy. He had so much energy. He pushed everything to the limit. He would come home almost every night having to write sentences, “I will sit in my seat,” “I will be quiet in class,” and so on. I tried getting up at 6 am and doing exercise tapes with him to wear him out a little before school. Nothing worked.

Then I took advantage of his fascination with Teenage Mutant Turtles and signed him up for Tae Kwon Do.

Our life has never been the same.

Joe will always be who he is, but what a life change! And it didn’t just affect him —  martial arts is now my life’s work as well.

I learned something very valuable. Martial Arts is just a vehicle to teach kids the real lessons: Commitment, Self-Control, Discipline, and Respect for Authority, I could go on and on. The exercise was important, as is learning self-defense. But the real benefits I saw in several of my children, and in the hundreds of children that I have been teaching over the last 13 years, is the life skills they take with them outside of the studio.

More Than Exercise: Life Skills

I eventually married the master of the studio. We have a school in Los Gatos, California. I am now a 4th degree black belt, and my husband is a 6th degree. We teach at our studio and at several of the local public and private schools as well. One thing that is reaffirmed to me each day: People really, really need the skills martial arts provides.

We build lessons around positively channeling kids’ growing energy and curiosity, while building a lifetime commitment to health, safety, and respect. Martial arts is far more than kicking and punching. As teachers we emphasize good behavior and citizenship, teamwork, fairness, and trying your best. Other skills emphasized are long-term memory, balance, coordination — motor skills that came naturally through the kinds of outdoor play that we used to do, but that  seem to be lost more and more.

While working on children’s motor skills, we are focusing on the child’s positive mental skills. These skills, as I have witnessed in my son and in countless others, help them enter society with a confident and enthusiastic outlook, become better listeners, and feel more ambitious in their goals. We teach respect for others as well as themselves, self control, following directions, good manners and leadership.


I’m not a leading expert, I can only testify what I see working with kids six days a week, as well as with my own family. Many life skills that were instilled in my generation are lacking in today’s kids. I don’t see that same healthy fear of…anything. Modern conveniences, electronics, the breakdown of the family home, both parents at work…many factors play a part.

While we are teaching Tae Kwon Do, they are learning essential life lessons that are quickly being lost: rank, submission, good manners in the way we address and greet each other. “Sir” and “Ma’am” are not just for adults…We do this for each other, regardless of age, to show our respect. Where else do our kids today have to submit so openly to rank and authority? I see kids today behave like they are adult’s equals.

The Edmonds Family

Commitment and Hard Work

Another big lesson learned is commitment. The road to black belt does not come easy, or quickly. It takes great personal sacrifice. Not giving up when things get hard or boring. There is so much noise in all our brains these days. It is so easy to flit from thing to thing. Commitment, and hard work does not come naturally. Quite often, my husband and I are just exhausted from pulling people along, motivating them. But we are so rewarded when the lights come on, and students are doing it for themselves. And taking great pride in pulling others along as well.

When watching the remake of The Karate Kid, the moment that made me want to stand up and cheer is when Jackie Chan says, “Kung Fu is life.” It doesn’t matter what style of martial arts you choose. As martial artists, the discipline, respect, and commitment to excellence we learn– is the way we run our lives.

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Master Shawn Edmonds, with her husband Master Charles Edmonds, co-own the Master Edmonds Academy. [ They have decades of experience in successfully running and managing martial arts studios, providing individual instruction, and pursuing their own studies of marital arts. Master Charles Edmonds, a 6th degree black belt, brings over 25 years experience in Tae Kwon Do, and over 10 years in Kung Fu. He was in the military for 6 years, has been a police officer in Louisiana, and even an assistant coach to the San Francisco 49rs.

Master Shawn Edmonds, 4th degree black belt, brings over 13 years experience of training and teaching. She is the senior instructor business manager, specializes in training young children in martial arts, as well as has her graphic design business.

Together, as parents of 5 children, they blend their unique experience and insightful skills making their studio the ultimate family training center.


NOW Manage Activities for Your Kids on Zenergo!

Stop juggling multiple programs, Web sites, and pieces of paper to keep track of your family activities, calendars, and events! Just join Zenergo (it’s free) to keep everything in one place.

Set up your private family Group, then add your many activities — martial arts, baseball, school and hobbies — and put all your family events (school plays, baseball games, due dates, vacations) on one family Calendar you can all share, and stay coordinated.

Share — with full privacy control — specific activities with other families, clubs, and groups in your school or neighborhood: so you can track the activity calendars, post and share pictures and documents, and post comments that are only from your group and your activities — not dumped into one mindless ‘wall’ from everyone you know!

Give it a try — Zenergo is the site to Activate your Life!


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Four Quick Tips for Youth Baseball Coaches (and Parents!)

Jerry McClain, a one-time professional baseball player, has been coaching baseball at colleges and high schools for the past couple of decades, and specializes in training up-and-coming young pitchers. He has strong opinions about warming up before practice, about following the principles of Positive Coaching, and about the life benefits of learning how to coach well. We interviewed him recently, asking him for three helpful tips for coaches — and he gave us a bonus fourth tip.

1. Proper warm-up for pitchers is absolutely critical before games. Jerry has his pitchers perform an exercise routine using “sand bottles” — 16-oz drink bottles filled with sand (10-oz bottles for pitchers younger than 12). The warm-ups are aimed at increasing blood flow in the pitching arm and, especially, the shoulder.

“Just throwing the ball around or, worse, playing long-throw catch as a warm-up is a terrible idea,” says Jerry, “Yet too many coaches skip the real warm-up. You have to warm up the arm — get blood flowing in the arm and especially the shoulder — before you start throwing the ball around. You’ll ruin the kids’ arms while they’re still teenagers if you don’t pay serious attention to this!”

2. Read Positive Coaching, by Jim Thompson — “It’s the best book out there about coaching; I’ve read it many times.” Thompson is founder of the Positive Coaching Alliance, an organization to train sports coaches to deal effectively and positively with their kids — practical advice, Jerry says, not just for coaching — but for parenting, too. “I encourage everybody to read this book — even if you’re not a coach, you’ll learn life and business lessons.”

3. Understand that coaching is a skill set that is also an overlay for life skills and for business skills — Learning how to coach well helps you become a better manager — and a better human being.

Bonus tip: If you’re coaching boys teams, be sure to take the opportunity to coach a girls’ team  — “It’s totally different from coaching a boy’s team,” says Jerry, and it will expand your coaching ability, and your life skills too.

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Manage Your Team With Zenergo can be helpful to coaches trying to manage their teams and schedules, deal with players and with parents, and find support staff or even additional players.

Here’s a view of a baseball team’s group page; notice the “A Street Baseball Team Parents” at the bottom — that’s an example of a Subgroup for the parents of A Street team members.  You can create a subgroup for the managers/coaches/support staff, too.

Baseball team page with "subgroup" for parents

Joining Zenergo is easy and free at — and in the Baseball Activity you can specify your interests and focus.

Better yet, you can then create a Group for your team — one central location where the kids and the parents can share information, check the calendar for practices and games, post photos, and save forms and documents. As coach, you can send messages to all the whole team, or just to subsets like the parents or the other coaches. You can even create a Group for the league, with SubGroups, one for each team. Groups can maintain privacy from non-members, which is important.

No more trying to juggle email, and calendars, and sending attachments, and posting pictures to someplace else, and worrying about protecting the kids’ privacy. Zenergo has everything in one place — perfect for the complex job of Coach!


Copyright 2011 by Zenergo Inc.