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Our 3rd Grader Started In-Person Learning At A New School And It Has Been Intense For All Of Us



Do you have the kind of life where there’s never just one thing going on? If so, I can relate.

It’s never just one thing.

In March, I found my hands full with the loss of a friend. I was sitting in a bar with friends, sharing memories, when the news of the NBA shutdown broke.

Before we knew it, the schools were closed. New York City was one of the first cities hit hard. It only took a week or two into remote learning for us to realize everyone was in way over their heads. Kids were too distracted by trying to work the tech to pay attention to the content. Some teachers weren’t faring much better.

Summer gave us time to regroup and see where we were. During that time, our co-parenting team decided to move ahead with a change of schools that we had initially planned to wait another year for. The situation seemed to be under better control in our new school district than the limbo New York City public school students were (and still are) facing.

The change of routine was not an easy decision for three adults to make, especially in the middle of the health crisis. Still, it was what seemed right for the little dude. So we figured out logistics to make everything work for everyone, and we all agreed just in time for day one.

Our guy was ready to start third grade. We still weren’t sure if we were ready for the return to in-person learning. We got the facts and made the decision. We’ve learned a lot along the way.


Before the school year even began, the work started for teachers and administrators. That work required parents to help, so there were meetings. I mean, a lot of meetings. There were at least two video calls open to parents each week in the last month leading up to school.

classroom social distancing

During these meetings, we learned the latest details of what processes would be implemented to allow reopening to happen. Class sizes were small enough for elementary school students to go back full time and still be socially distanced throughout the building.

For a family that was new to the district, we were thoroughly impressed. Outdoor learning, upgraded cleaning and ventilation measures, and temperature checks were among the defenses implemented.

That said, they were very honest about expectations. They revealed that experts consulted in the reopening plan said that going a month without issue would be a milestone to be proud of.

backpack school supplies

We were nervous at first, but we never let the kid know it. We focused on keeping him excited about starting a new school, which was not easy news to get amid not having seen any other kids in months. To his complete credit, he came around and has embraced it wholeheartedly.

That said, it was also a little exhausting. Most new measures require a lot of effort from families as well as the school staff.

Angela Andaloro/LittleThings

Before day one, we had to get supplies labeled and ready to go. This had additional layers to it. There were extra supplies, like masks and hand sanitizer. A backup mask had to be brought in addition to the mask the child was wearing in case anything happened to that mask.

There was also the extra step of labeling everything. Normally you just throw the kid’s name on notebooks and call it a day. This year, I broke out the label maker because everything needed to be labeled. The school couldn’t keep lost-and-found items because of concerns with sharing supplies, so they would get thrown away otherwise. That meant initialing 42 pencils after sharpening them.

temperature checks

Morning of, we got up and got ready. The school developed an app for parents to submit temperature and screening questions every morning. Kids taking the bus would get their temperature taken again before boarding. All kids would get another check at the entrances to the school building.

desk shields

In the classroom, desks are spaced 6 feet apart. Kids keep a bin with their supplies under their desks. A bag on the back of the chair holds bags and coats. All students and teachers also have plastic desk shields, which come in handy when kids take masks off to eat lunch at their desks.

At first, it felt like a lot. But our child was finally displaying some real happiness, the likes of which we hadn’t seen in months. For our family, in-person learning difficulties were easy to deal with in exchange for some good social interaction that is as safe as it can possibly be. He was thriving, and things were getting easier for us each day.

letter from teacher

Angela Andaloro/LittleThings

We have to, of course, give credit to all the people at the school who are making this work, despite how hard they have to work. Our guy’s teacher, in particular, has been excellent. She had virtual meet-and-greets with each kid before the school year started. She also wrote them letters, timed to arrive on the first day of school, sharing information about her life and encouraging them to write back.

phone emails

All the back-to-school events that would normally be going on are now virtual. We’ve received emails for virtual PTA meetings, a virtual open house, and more. We also had our first go at another fixture in the post-virus educational landscape: the remote learning practice day.

remote learning

Once a month, for the foreseeable future, the kids will spend one Wednesday learning from home. It’s to make sure that the school is prepared to switch to remote learning in the event of any shutdowns. Kids have been practicing working on their school-issued devices during class time so that they won’t need the oversight some parents of remote learners have complained about.

remote learning practice

Angela Andaloro/LittleThings

I was pleasantly surprised at how it worked in practice. They stuck to the schedule flawlessly. The kids knew what they were doing and seemed as undistracted as third-graders could be.

It’s only a few weeks into the school year. We’re tired, but we’re satisfied in many ways with our experience. That said, we recognize the privilege of having a school district that can offer its students so much. Not every family around the country has that comfort to hold onto, but they most certainly should.

We’ve learned that education is so much bigger than sitting in a classroom and learning some basics. Now it’s time for us to honor it accordingly and make meaningful changes.


The Advantages of Online Casino Welcome Bonuses




When it comes to online gambling, the industry is thriving in 2020. Although casinos are banned in many countries, people still find ways to enjoy their favorite games of chance. However, considering the level of competition on the market, it may be difficult for a beginner to find a good online platform and take advantage of all offers. In this article, you will learn the benefits of casinos’ welcome bonuses.

What Is a Sign-Up Bonus?

As we have already established, the industry is growing rapidly and companies are desperately looking for new ways to attract customers. A welcome bonus is often used by online casinos to get new leads and players in the future. However, the best casino bonuses can be easily used to the player’s advantage. Here are the main reasons you should not neglect this offer.

  1. It saves your money

Quite obvious, right? Well, this is the main reason why you should always use welcome bonuses in online gambling: it is always better to not risk your own money. It is especially true for beginners. Since they have no experience, it is fairly common for beginners to lose their initial investment and be done with gambling for good. However, if you use your welcome bonus as a way of getting the basics skills, the chances of success will rise significantly.

  1. It allows you to try several games

Another common issue beginners face is a lack of understanding of which types of games they want to try: slots, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, etc. If you use your sign-up bonus, you will be able to play several games and choose the ones you like better. Moreover, you can take advantage of a welcome bonus on several online gambling platforms. That way you will try out even more options.

  1. It will make future gambling more profitable

Besides beneficial sign-up bonuses, good online casinos usually have great loyalty programs. For instance, the company may double up to five first deposits on the platform. If you invest 100 USD, you will get 200 USD to your account. More money — more games — more chances of winning.

Although a welcome bonus is a great way of upping your gambling game, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Firstly, a good bonus does not equal a good platform. Before choosing a casino, make sure that the company is legal and trustworthy. Since there are many scams right now, it is essential if you want to save your money. Moreover, check the available deposit/withdrawal methods and their terms.

We hope that this article has shown the true power of online casinos’ welcome bonuses and how you can use them to your own advantage. Follow our tips while choosing a platform and enjoy the best gambling experience.

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3 Key Mistakes to Avoid When Playing Blackjack




Blackjack is the most popular casino game in the world. The card game, sometimes referred to as ‘21’, accounts for an average of 31 percent of all casino table traffic – this is consistent both online and in physical casinos. For reference, the second most popular is roulette (24%) followed by poker (21%).

It’s easy to understand blackjack’s popularity. It’s a simple game to grasp and offers players a mix of luck and skill: luck in the cards that are drawn, skill over how those cards are dealt and a player’s eventual hand. Compare that to roulette, which is based entirely on luck, and poker, which has a huge skill element to it.

However, while the beauty of blackjack is in its simplicity, there are also a number of complexities to the game, and as is the case with almost anything in life, you learn more from mistakes than successes.

With that in mind, here are three key mistakes to avoid when playing blackjack that can significantly increase your chances of winning, while limiting your losses.

Choosing the Wrong Table

Before a single card is drawn, being at the wrong table – whether live or online – is the first mistake to avoid.

First of all, each blackjack table will have different minimum bet requirements so avoid choosing one that is out of your budget. For instance, if you choose a table with a $100 minimum bet and your budget is $200, you might only play two hands.

Secondly, check the payout odds on the blackjack table. These are typically 6:5 and 3:2 and will affect how much gets paid out when you hit blackjack and land other bonus wins. Where possible, choose a 3:2 table as it pays out higher.

Thirdly, choose between a virtual and a live table. This is not so much a mistake to avoid but more comes down to personal preference. Virtual tables allow players to play against an automated computer, so you can play at your own pace, while live tables are usually quicker paced as human dealers are keen to move the game along.

When to Hit and Stand

As a general rule, most blackjack players know to hit when the hand is 12 and to stand when the hand equals 17. However, there are plenty of variables to consider that could influence when to hit and stand. Getting these right can really boost your chances of beating the house, while getting it wrong could prove costly.

One key move to implement is to always hit on a soft 17 – when the two cards are an ace and a six. This means that if you draw a 10 or picture card (jack, queen, king), then you convert your hand into a hard 17. It also gives greater flexibility if you draw a smaller value card as the ace can be used as a one.

While many players adopt a strict ‘never bust’ policy, meaning they always stand when their hand equals 12 or more, this can be ill-advised as it depends almost entirely on the dealer going bust.

Instead, analyze the value of your two cards compared to the dealer’s first card and weigh up the risk factor in drawing another card before the dealer draws their second. As a strict rule, if your first two cards equal 17 or more, then stand – anything else can be hit depending on the situation.

When to Split and Double

If you are playing in a blackjack tournament, either online or live, learning when to split and double can make all the difference to your chances of success. The same also applies to individual games of blackjack.

Click here to check the best tips on blackjack tournament strategies:

Splitting is when you split two cards when dealt the same value cards, so a pair of eights for example. Doubling is when you are given the option to double your bet after being dealt your initial two cards.

While it can be tempting to split and double at every opportunity to increase your winning, doing at the right time is the key.

It is not recommended to split when:

  • You are dealt two picture cards or two 10s
  • You are dealt two 9s
  • You are dealt two 5s
  • The dealer holds a 10 or picture card

It is best to split when:

  • You are dealt two 8s
  • You are dealt two aces
  • The dealer holds a 5 or 6 (as this is the highest probability of a bust)

Similar to knowing when to hit and stand, take a brief moment to assess the dealer’s drawn card compared to your own two cards and determine whether the probabilities are in your favour.

Likewise, knowing when to double down – when not to double down – can change the complexities of your blackjack game. A simple rule to know when to double is if your two cards equal 10 and the dealer’s card is between 2-9. Additionally, if you hold an ace, you can consider a double as these have the flexibility of playing as 11 or 1. But if the dealer’s card is an ace, ignore the double.


Blackjack may be a simple game but there are some important strategies to keep in mind next time you head to the virtual or live table. The game itself is still rooted in luck so there are never any guarantees to long-term success. However, by keeping these three important rules in mind, you can at least avoid making avoidable mistakes.

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Top 5 Entertainment Activities for College Students




The life of college students is sometimes too complicated. They have to face tons of homework assignments that steal their time. Many students get stressed because of continuous learning. They seem to forget how to relax. If you’re a busy student, you should remember that you’re still young and shouldn’t waste this precious life stage. You can undertake some entertainment activities sometimes. Take your friends and organize funny games to unwind and let off some pressure. We asked writing experts from a professional essay service Smart Writing Service to share their ideas and provide you with top-5 entertainment activities for college students you may like. 

Who Are You?

Students, especially freshmen, don’t know each other perfectly. They may be taken by surprise when some of them tell something quite unexpected about their hobbies, preferences, and so on. If you want to know other students better, suggest playing a game called “Who Are You”.

Form at least three teams. If there are many folks, you can form more teams. Choose a speaker of the game. It may be even one of your teachers or professors. All groups will be given topics to discuss. The speaker is supposed to announce a new topic every few minutes. You may discuss and answer the following topics:

  • What is the greatest challenge you are facing?
  • What do you like or hate most about yourself?
  • What is your greatest value in life?
  • What emotions do you express easily?
  • What is the most valuable thing in friendship?
  • Who you want to become in five years?
  • What is your major objective for next year?
  • Is there something you want to improve about yourself?
  • What motto do you try to live by?
  • Where would you like to travel?
  • If you were to study abroad, what country would that be?

Students should write their answers on index cards. The speaker should gather the answers of every student and shuffle them. Afterward, he/she redistributes them randomly to students. Each person should guess whose card he/she is holding. Play this game after you spend some time together and already know at least something about one another.

Sentence Completion

Another fun activity is “Sentence Completion.” Most people like it because it’s commonly accompanied by laughter and good mood. It’s necessary to prepare a list of sentences. Those sentences should have a beginning, but with no end. Every student should finish the sentence he/she gets. Oftentimes, students give funny answers. At times, they are quite serious, and we can learn something important about other students. Here are several sentence beginnings you may choose:

  • Before I came to college, I was interested in…
  • When I was a child, I wanted to become…
  • The best moment I remember most about high school is…
  • My favorite pet is…
  • The things I value most are…
  • Five years from now I hope to be…
  • My greatest personality trait is…
  • My favorite subject at high school was…
  • If I could change one thing in the world, it would be…
  • My greatest fear is…
  • After I graduate from college, I…

The Reception Line

You may likewise try another entertaining activity for college students. It is called “The Reception Line.” Gather all the mates eager to participate. Divide yourselves into two groups. If you form more, it won’t fit the rules of the game. Each person talks to the person in front of him/her until he/she must move. The person at the end of one line goes to the end of the other line. This method makes it possible to meet new people. Thus, students will learn more about each other. You can make shifts every next topic or set a limit. For example, the pair should discuss 5 topics and afterward move to change partners. Here are some interesting topics to discuss:

  • Where would you like to travel?
  • What motto do you try to follow?
  • What is your favorite movie?
  • What music do you like?
  • What is your favorite hobby?
  • Why did you choose this college?
  • What do you like about college life the most?

Take Sides

You can likewise suggest a game, which offers only two options. It’s called “Take Sides.” Create a list of questions with two answers. Students should obligatorily choose one of them. Afterward, you may discuss the answers. Let everyone explain his/her choices. Thus, you’ll learn more about each other, and it will bring you closer. Here are several suggestions:

  • Watermelon or banana?
  • Sweat or bitter?
  • Short trips every weekend or a journey around the world for three months?
  • Partying or hiking?
  • Listen or speak?
  • Rock or pop?
  • Morning or night?
  • Superman or Batman?
  • Robocop or Terminator?
  • Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings?
  • Los Angeles or New York?
  • Liberal or conservative?
  • American football or ice hockey?

My Most Embarrassing Moment

You can likewise tell each other about the most embarrassing moments. It’s important to be honest and don’t imagine a story that never took place. All the participants should agree on this term. Commonly, it is a very entertaining activity. Students tell funny stories they’ve been through. It commonly makes them closer.

These activities for college students are very simple to follow. They are really entertaining. Mind that we have mentioned only 5 of them. However, you can try a hundred activities more. Use our examples to have fun and relax. They may inspire you and your friends to look for other entertaining activities.

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