The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: May 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kids and the Internet

How can you find out which sites your children visit most frequently?  By doing a search of the browsing history.  Here;s how:

Open Internet Explorer and press and hold the “Ctrl” and “H” keys for a list of websites your child has seen in the recent past. Use the drop-down menu to see the sites your child has visited the most, or choose “Search History” to learn the keywords your child has been using. (The process is similar for other browsers.) If you find that your techy child has deleted the search history, ask him why.  You probably won't like the answer! 

Naturally, you can place child controls on the computer to filter out porn sites and any others you feel are unacceptable for young computer uses. Most major search engines, including Google, Bing and Yahoo, allow you to turn on a “safe search” mode that blocks sites that aren’t appropriate for kids, and most Internet service providers provide parental controls. However, it's also good to sit down with your children to discuss the problems associated with these sites so they understand your reasons for concern rather than your reasons for controlling their browsing. 

Be alert to any surrepticious behavior like turning off the computer or lowering the screen when you walk in the room.  That's a sure sign your child doesn't want you to see what he was researching on the computer.  Gently discuss the reason for this behavior.  If you jump in with a tirade about safe searching, your child will back away from your good intentions.  Open the computer while your child is in your presence and together look at the history.  That way you can discuss the situation without making it look like you're going behind his back to find out his browsing habits.  Remember, children need respect for their privacy, too, but not when their welfare depends on your knowledge. 

For more tips, go to http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/family/net_safety.html and find a CyberSafe Program in your area: https://kidproofusa.com/course/CyberSafe.aspx

Monday, May 30, 2011

Put the YOU back in YOUTH

Teachers, look closely at your students.  Some of them are bright, strong, and active.  Others need a little more encouragement to participate and achieve high grades.  The former group most likely includes youthful volunteers, children who give their time and talents to those in need.  Statistically, students who volunteer in the community have higher grades and fewer absences than those who do not.   Seventy percent of teens who volunteer reported that volunteering gave them a new perspective on community issues.  As a result of their volunteer efforts, teens reported high grades in school and new career goals. Their communities found renewed interest in the environment, senior citizens, needy children, and orphaned animals. 

What does this tell us?  That we need to focus on helping kids to help others so that they can help themselves.  Why?  Because volunteering does not involve competition or grade achievement.  A notable side effect of charitable work is that the students gain one more positive section of information on a college transcript or job application.  Quite simply, volunteering forces students to look outside of their egocentric box and toward the greater needs of others.           

Recently, I spoke with a man who teaches special education in a closed classroom for emotionally disturbed middle school students.  Mr. Smith (not his real name because I met him at a party and we spoke only briefly) had a particularly difficult young man who never did homework, reacted with disdain at most of his requests, and generally disliked school.  Mr. Smith found that the young man, whom I’ll call Will, did enjoy reading.  Perhaps it became his escape from his family problems.  So, the teacher arranged for Will to read to fifth graders.  Together they chose Dear Mr. Henshaw as the read-aloud story.  Will went into the classroom, began to read, and the students were spellbound.  Later, Mr. Smith asked Will to develop ten questions for each chapter that he could ask when he was done reading.  Will, who would never do his own homework, came in the next day with ten well-developed questions.  This new work ethic carried over to his other school work, and Will began to pull up his grades.  He also became less of a discipline problem as a result of his volunteer reading for the fifth graders.             

So, how can teachers get students to become junior philanthropists?  Build on their natural talents, just as Mr. Smith did.  Kids love to socialize.  Encourage them to see that they can volunteer at a nursing home and socialize with people who get visitors only once a week, sometimes less.  Help them to understand that not everything needs to be done for money.  They could volunteer to babysit for an overworked mother of four who needs to take a break.  Help them to know that they can volunteer for other than human causes.  Some kids can join an environmental campaign to clean up a nearby stream, while others might volunteer at the local animal shelter.  There are no limits to the kinds of volunteer activities that young people can do.            Try to develop a philanthropy that also builds on your curriculum.  Since I taught child development, it was an easy match for my students to support Care Bags 4 Kids, a foundation that provides necessary items for needy children.  But what about the other disciplines?  Here are some ideas to consider:
  • Write letters to soldiers - English and social studies classes can participate. (Note: use only the student’s first name and assign a student number for a return letter to the school.)
  • Design and build bat houses or martin houses to combat the mosquito population – Shop and math coordination.
  • Anti-smoking and substance abuse campaign for middle school students – Health and biology classes.
  • Translation services for ESL students and foreign citizens in the community – Foreign language classes.

Each class is unique.  What can you do within your class that will serve the school or greater community while helping the students understand the value of charitable giving?           
 
The benefits of helping kids to help others are boundless.  The young people learn that caring for others is just as important as caring about their own needs.  The people they help benefit from their efforts, plus the children learn the value of money when they budget fund raisers.  Isn’t it time we put the YOU back into YOUTH?
For more ideas, read Helping Kids Help

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kids’ Summer Curriculum Sampler

During the summer, children relish the lazy days without homework, projects, and early rises for school.  However, by September, their teachers bemoan their lack of memory for common math operations and English composition rules.  Consider these inexpensive suggestions to keep your children’s brains engaged over the sunny summer months while they exercise their bodies on the playground and at the pool or beach, so they are ready for their teachers in the fall.  It’s a sampling of each class your children encounter in school:
  1. Math – If your grocery story doubles coupons, tell your children that for every coupon they find and you use, you will give them the grocery store’s contribution.  The only catch is that they have to calculate their profits before you hand over the money.  Also, encourage them to live by the 1/3 rule: 1/3 now, 1/3 for savings, and 1/3 for charity.  If you want suggestions for the charitable giving, read my book, Helping Kids Help, available at my website: www.reneeheiss.com/hkh.html.
  2. English – Your children will be prepared for the inevitable “What I Did During the Summer” essay if they keep a sensory journal.  Either buy or make a fun journal. Then on each page, have your children describe the sounds, sights, tastes, smells, and textures of summer they encounter every day.  Reward them for their journal participation with stickers for particularly descriptive entries.  For help with the sensory imagery, go to The Colors-Shapes-Textures Thesaurus.
  3. Geography – Going away this summer?  Then show your children on a map where you are headed.  Have them plot with you the route by car, plane, train, and bus, even if you’re only using one means of transportation.  Learn the names of cities along the way and any notable landmarks.  If you belong to AAA, get their TripTik, which is very helpful.  Otherwise make your own version of this travel tool.
  4. History – Believe it or not, most kids don’t know the local history.  Take a photographic journey through your town.  Mount the pictures in a real or digital album.  Then help your children discover the history behind each landmark.  If you create a digital album, consider creating your own book at http://www.snapfish.com/
  5. Reading – Your local library probably has its own reading program for children, so sign them up to join the fun.  If you don’t live close enough to your library, create your own fun by making a Bookworm Bulletin Board.  Start with an apple in the middle, one hole for each of your children, and then begin adding segments of a worm (circles cut from construction paper) for each book the child reads.  For extra fun, invite the neighborhood kids to participate, too!
  6. Foreign languages – Have a weekly worldwide lunch (or dinner) day.  Find a food with a funny name and then have French Day, Spanish Day, Australian Day, etc. each week.  Encourage your children to research what they want to eat on that day and let them help prepare and clean up.  Post words from the foreign language with the translation around the table.  Everyone needs to create a different sentence from those foreign words.  Here’s a fun place to start:  Mama Lisa’s World Blog.
  7. Science – Hold your own science camp.  Check out books from the library on science experiments kids can do with everyday items.  Designate each day of your camp for a different science topic: biology, geology, botany, astronomy, etc.  The next week, encourage your kids to develop a science fair.  Invite relatives for a barbecue to view their science fair displays. The homeschool network always has fun things the kids can do at home to encourage learning during the summer: http://homeschooling.about.com/library/blsumsci.htm
  8. Practical and performing arts – Give your kids lots of room to explore with this topic.  Encourage them to learn a new skill – sewing, decoupage, working on a car engine, cooking, metal working, etc.  Caution: This activity is contagious and could develop into a lifelong love of the activity!  Enchanted Learning has thousands of ideas.  Maybe your children can begin to make gifts for winter holidays.
  9. Philanthropy – Most schools recommend, and some schools even require, that children give back something to their community for the greater good.  Help your children to understand that giving money for charity is good, but doing something is better.  Find places where you can volunteer your efforts, if even for one hour a week.  Studies show that when children volunteer, they develop into caring, successful adults.  To see how one girl hosts a charitable birthday party based on the Care Bags Foundation, read Somebody Cares!
So what are you waiting for?  Summer’s just around the corner.  Consider assembling boxes of fun related to all the topics above.  There are nine weeks in the summer and nine topics.  Even if you pick only one day a week, instead of an entire week of topical fun, you will have increased your children’s potential for success in September.

Please post your own idea for extending children's learning during the summer.  Your idea may find its way into my new book on this topic ;-)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Savory Summer Salads

The best thing about summer (besides the sun!) is the overabundance of fresh fruits and vegetables around every corner and in backyard gardens.  When you make a salad for your family, include ingredients that make a complete meal.  Try combining fruits with vegetables for a unique blend.  For maximum nutrition, choose something from each of these categories:

  • Antioxidant-rich foods: Blueberries, cranberries, artichoke hearts, raspberries, strawberries, apples, pecans
  • Low-fat protein foods: Kidney beans, low fat cheese, pinto beans, turkey, chicken
  • Vitamin A foods: Carrots, squash, broccoli, tomatoes, oranges, collards, cantaloupe
  • Vitamin C foods: Green peppers, broccoli, spinach, strawberries, blueberries, black currants, cabbage, tomatoes
  • Vitamin E foods: Wheat germ, nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, kiwifruit
Let's put that all together into a salad:  Start with a base of dark green leafy vegetables, add artichoke hearts, tomatoes, cucumbers (they don't add much nutrition, but they create a nice texture), and green peppers.  Toss with a low fat dressing, garnish with black olives, and add whole grain bread for a complete meal on a hot summer day.  Remember to give your new concoction a fun name so your family can request it again.  I call this Italian Delight because I use low fat tomato basil dressing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Little Engine Theory

When I was a kid, my mother read The Little Engine That Could over and over, not because she thought I'd learn a lesson from it but because I simply liked the story.  What happened was a lifelong love of overcoming personal mountains with the "I think I can" mentality.  Visualization of goals has been hailed by psychologists for centuries as a way to win games, overcome addiction, and reach one's goals.  It is not surprising that the moral of this gentle children's story has endured for generations.

A brief version of the tale appeared under the title Thinking One Can in 1906, in Wellsprings for Young People, a Sunday School publication. This version reappeared in a 1910 publication by the Daughters of the American Revolution. The story then appeared under the name The Pony Engine in the Kindergarten Review in 1910. Another version of the story appeared in the six-volume Bookhouse Books, which were copyrighted in the UK in 1920 and sold in the U.S. via door-to-door salespersons. The best known version of the story The Little Engine That Could was written by "Watty Piper", a pen name of Arnold Munk, who was the owner of the publishing firm Platt and Munk.  In 1954, Platt & Munk published another version of The Little Engine That Could, with slightly revised language and new, more colorful illustrations.  And that is the version I remember fondly! 

Read The Little Engine That Could to your children and hope that the little engine's message of endurance and determination affects the rest of their lives, too!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Using Themes to Boost Fundraiser Sales

If you walk the aisles of a craft show or flea market, one stand blends with the next after a while.  Then you stumble upon one table that stands out from the rest like a Christmas tree in July.  But wait, that's what you see - a Christmas-themed craft table in the middle of everything else.  You stop, you buy a little something for Grandma, the salesperson thanks you, and you leave the affair happy with your purchase.

If you're on the other side of the table selling your crafts or cookies, you know that people tend to browse until something attracts their attention.  That's the power of the themed fund raiser.  It doesn't matter if you and your group hold a craft sale, a used book sale, or a car wash, the concept remains the same: Unique approaches attract attention.  Here are some ideas for themed fundraisers with possible projects for the funds:
  • Toga car wash - Wash your chariot for $10.00 to support earthquake relief in Italy.
  • Christmas rummage sale in July - Benefits purchase of items for Toys for Tots.  Decorate with Christmas trees, etc.  Wear read and green.
  • Professor Pringle's used books sale - Benefits purchase of books for disadvantaged children.  Add bookmarks with your fundraising contact information for additional revenue.
Those are only three of the many ideas you can develop when you link your fundraiser to a theme that supports your cause.  For more theme ideas and tips for a successful fundraiser, look in my book, Helping Kids Help: Organizing Successful Charitable Projects.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Redecorating from little boy or little girl to a tween room

If your children are tired of dancing teddy bears and ballerinas, perhaps it's time to redecorate their rooms.  After all, they don't want to invite friends over for sleepovers to a room designed for a preschooler.  Therefore, consider these options when you plan:
  1. Go through a box of 64 crayons with your son or daughter and pick out three colors they really like.  Then ask him or her to pick out a favorite color.  This will create your palette.
  2. Next, look at the room and decide (with your child) what can stay and what needs to go.  Finances probably won't allow you to redo everything in the room, so your child can learn how to set priorities with this exercise.
  3. Next, go to several stores, starting with the least expensive first.  If that means you go to the thrift store, first, then you might just get lucky with whatever you find there.  Remember to wash everything thoroughly when you get home. 
  4. Stop at the paint and wallpaper stores.  Take the crayons with you.  Match the paint and patterns to your child's preferences.
  5. Finally, put it all together ... together!  Let your child help paint, make the bed with the new bedspread, and add the other decorative touches.  He or she will be more likely to take care of the redecorated room if he or she had an active part in the process.
Then sit back and watch your maturing child enjoy the new room.  Remember, your child's room doesn't need to be a designer showcase; it simply needs to be a space he or she can call her own.
For more tips go to Parents.com. Oh - you remembered to take pictures of the baby room, right?  :-)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Family Getaways

If you're looking for an inexpensive, yet fun getaway for your family, consider renting a house in the area where you want to visit.  We've done that since the kids were little and it's so much better than staying in a hotel or motel.  You have a home-like atmosphere where you can spread out, watch TV, and play games without worrying whether you're disturbing the folks on the other side of the wall.  You can do your own cooking to save money ... or simply order out.  As a base of operations, you can leave everything, visit the local areas of interest, and then return "home."  We have rented houses all up and down the east coast where we live plus Las Vegas area when the "kids" got older.  We have rented quaint houses, log cabins  in state parks, and extravagant homes on the water, depending on the age of our children and the family finances that year.

How do you find those rental houses?  Look on the Internet using the key words vacation, rental, house, and the area you want to visit. Or you can go to some of the commercial sites:   www.vacationrentals.com, www.vrbo.com, www.homeaway.com, www.cyberrentals.com, and www.tripadvisor.com/VacationRentals.  Add the keyword pets and you'll find pet-friendly places, too.  Sometimes the houses come with outdoor sports equipment like volleyball or a canoe.  Sometimes they come with hot tubs or their own backyard pool.  Whatever your family enjoys is probably waiting for you to rent for a fun-filled week of family togetherness.
Happy hunting!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The New Stranger Response

According to Kidproof, a publishing company dedicated to children's safety, instead of teaching your children to not go with strangers, the new golden rule of stranger safety is to tell your kids, "Never go anywhere with anyone without asking permission first."  Why?  Because instructing kids to not go with strangers, places them in a difficult position.  Should they go with a policeman?  Security guard?  Uncle Milty?  Children may feel secure going with the family member or law enforcement official, but statistically, these people are more likely to abduct or abuse children (the abducting policeman is usually not a policeman, but someone dressed like one.)  By instructing your children to ask you first, you assure yourself that they will always let you know where they are.  Also tell them that if you are unable to answer for whatever reason, to go to a woman rather than a man.  Statistically, women are less likely to abuse or abduct a child than a man.

What marvelous advice in an unsettled world!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Happy Parents, Happy Children

Most of my blog focuses on the health and welfare of the children.  Today we look at how parental relationships affect the happiness of their children.  Certainly everyone argues from time to time; that's just human nature.  However, when you argue in front of the children, you cause doubts to form - is this argument my fault?  What can I do to stop this argument?  I remember thinking those thoughts when I was a kid, watching my own parents argue on a Christmas afternoon.  I also clearly remember asking, "Why do you always have to ruin every holiday?"  Don't get me wrong - my parents were great role models and stayed married for over fifty years.  But the fact remains that I have that day branded in my memory.  I vowed that if I had a problem with something my husband did that annoyed me, I wouldn't hang it out for the children to witness like dirty laundry. 

So, would you rather be happy or would you rather be right?  That's the question at hand for this blog.  I'd like to think you can be both happy AND right, but that doesn't happen all the time, does it?  Therefore, learn to pick the fights that will result in an improvement in your relationship with your spouse, but don't pick it while the kids are listening.  Or better yet, learn to walk away from a situation before it escalates into an argument.  Then when you return, you can calmly discuss your issues.  And what an awesome role model you'll be for your happy kids!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Is Bath time Wrath time?

Do you fight with your kids to take a bath?  If so, consider this trick for making bath time more fun...

Use any of the recipes for glycerin soap that you find online.  Here's one: http://www.ehow.com/how_4473231_melt-pour-glycerin-soap.html

When you get ready to mold the soap, add a "treasure" like a small dinosaur, trinket, or other small item.  The child will need to scrub for several weeks before he or she will get to the treasure!

For those of you who aren't so crafty, glycerin soaps can be purchased with toys inside, too.  Simply browse the Internet and you'll find some.

Please post if this works for you!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The keys to feeling loved

If only it were that simple - four keys to feeling loved!  Yet that's the way children view their world.  Here's what they see:
  1. Respect - Children feel loved when their parents offer them guided choices and abide by their decision.
  2. Protection - Children feel loved when their parents provide a safe place in which to live.
  3. Security - Children feel loved when they have enough food, a warm house, and clean clothes.
  4. Importance - Children feel loved when their parents recognize their accomplishments, no matter how small or insignificant.  
Do your children feel loved?  They may not say they love you as much as you might want, but they feel loved if you use those four keys to unlock their heart.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Kids and Exercise

Evi­dence from sev­eral exper­i­men­tal stud­ies sug­gests that phys­i­cal activ­ity can have a pos­i­tive influ­ence on children’s cog­ni­tive func­tion­ing.  That's no surprise considering that increased exercise increases the flow of blood to the brain.  A study pub­lished recently online in the Jour­nal of Atten­tion Dis­or­ders examined the effects of phys­i­cal train­ing on chil­dren with ADHD.  The study found that increased physical activity not only increased the child's physical fitness, but also helped the child to focus mentally.  However, the study did note that the children with ADHD, even with increased exercise, did not come up to the academic achievement levels of their non-ADHD counterparts.  The results indicate that exercise helps these children, but does not cause ADHD to disappear.  In my opinion, ADHD continues to be a modern problem that requires further studies to investigate the causes and possible cures.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dinner Drama Dilemma

Do you constantly battle your children at dinner to finish their vegetables, meat, or everything on their plates?  Perhaps you should stop battling and start accepting that your children have likes and dislikes just as adults.  What would you do if presented with a plate of liver and Brussel sprouts?  Personally, I'd only eat the sprouts and leave the liver.  Other people would leave both.  Kids are no different.  Some like peas while others like string beans.  They know what they want and what they don't want.

That's not to say you should be running a short order kitchen, preparing chicken nuggets for the kids and cordon bleu for the adults.  Kids need to understand that variety at dinner will eventually make their meal times more enjoyable rather than a battleground.  How can you do that?
  1. Introduce new foods with tried and true that the kids enjoy.
  2. Request a "taste" rather than finishing the plateful of broccoli and meatloaf.
  3. Allow children to put as much as they can eat on their plates, with the request they try something of everything on the table.
  4. Accept that kids may take a full plate of mashed potatoes but only one small string bean.  It's okay!  they won't die of malnutrition.  Just remember to give them their daily vitamin pill.
  5. Occasionally give your kids guided choices about their dinner: "Do you want me to make meatloaf or roast beef tonight? (Provided you have both available!)  The occasional choice will make kids more agreeable to the less than occasional plate that carries no choices.
Battling kids with drama at dinner has been linked to eating disorders later in life, particularly during adolescence. Make your mealtimes happy places for kids to enjoy their food and conversation with the family!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Loaded with protein and antioxidants

Since I like diversity in my life, I decided to include something new in this blog: A family-friendly healthy recipe...


Nut-crusted Pomegranate Chicken
Delicious served with creamy noodles, a crispy salad, and fresh bread!

Ingredients:

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1.5 -2 lb)
¾ cup seasoned bread crumbs
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 container pomegranate-berry yogurt (I use fat-free Stonyfield)
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp. water
3 tbsp. olive oil

Directions:
  1. Place chicken between pieces of waxed paper.  Pound with meat mallet or rolling pin until thin.
    In a shallow dish mix bread crumbs, pecans, and parsley.
  2. In a separate dish combine yogurt, egg, and water.
  3. Dip chicken into yogurt, then coat with crumb mixture.
  4. Heat oil in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until hot.  Cook chicken 10-12 minutes, turning once, until chicken is no longer pink in the middle and coating is golden brown.
Makes 3-4 servings
To see more of my favorite recipes, go to www.reneeheiss.com/recipes.html

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Safety First...

Did you know that you don't have to be a AAA member to use their services?  If you and your little ones get stuck on the road, simply call AAA, ask to become a member, give them your credit card information, and they will send help out to you!  Naturally, you can also simply call the nearest gas station, but in an emergency, this is good to know!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Should your little ones sleep with you?

You're tired and need rest, but your one-year-old refuses to sleep.  So you bring him into your bed, snuggle, and hope he gets the message.  Night after night, the same ritual occurs until Junior feels comfortable with this method of going to sleep.  What's wrong with this picture?  Several things...
  1. Sleeping with a baby brings with it the danger that you could roll over and smother the child.  Or the child could roll over and fall out of the bed.  Either way, allowing your child to sleep in the bed with you is dangerous.
  2. When you allow a child to sleep in bed with you, your marriage suffers because you're snuggling with your infant instead of your spouse.  That's definitely threatening to a relationship.
  3. When children feel they can manipulate their parents at bedtime, they will transfer that concept to other areas of their lives like eating and playing.
So, what should you do? Establish a rule that your child never ever sleeps in your bed no matter how tired you are or how stormy it is outside.  When he is younger, let your child "cry it out."  I know that's difficult, but in the long run, it will be better for you, your marriage, and your child as he learns to self-regulate his sleep pattern.

But what about those stormy nights when they're three years old and older?  We kept sleeping bags near our beds.  When the thunder rolled, our kids rolled out of their beds, rolled out the sleeping bags, and crawled into them.  They felt secure knowing Mommy and Daddy were nearby, but accepted that they weren't allowed in bed - ever!

Do you have any other techniques for bedtime problems?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cards for ...

To help your children appreciate the power of giving, get out all the old greeting cards you've saved.  Recycle them into new cards by cutting and pasting a collage on an index card or posterboard.  Add coloring to enhance the pictures.  Have your children write a little note on the back or inside, depending on the style of card you've re-created.  Send notes of thanks to people in the military, get well cards to people in hospitals, and thinking of your cards to folks in nursing homes.  Help your children to visualize the smiles on those strangers' faces as they open their cards :-)

For more ways to help children understand the value of charitable acts, read Helping Kids Help and Somebody Cares!.  Go to my websites for more information:  www.reneeheiss.com/hkh.html and www.reneeheiss.com/somebodycares.html.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Good Counsel Homes

On this Mother's Day Weekend, consider helping a foundation that helps mothers who have chosen life over abortion.  You can donate time, money, or materials to their effort at http://www.goodcounselhomes.org/

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Self-directed Education

Experts agree that self-directed education optimizes student learning.  There are three components to this concept: (1) The student, (2) the teacher, and (3) the resources.

THE STUDENT - The child must be emotionally and physically able to learn.  If he or she is stressed or tired, self-directed learning will be less effective.

THE TEACHER (or PARENT) - The educator must provide the enthusiasm for education and the framework for learning.  If the teacher or parent is also stressed or tired, self-directed learning will be less effective.

THE RESOURCES - Having a stash of self-directed resources on hand is best, but few teachers or parents can afford commercial learning aids.  Creative use of materials at hand will satisfy most young learners to explore the topic you bring to the classroom.

The key to effective self-directed learning is to get plenty of rest, plan well, creatively use the resources at hand, and let the child explore on his or her own.  And then sit back and marvel at the amazing amount of learning that occurs!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How Your Babies Control Their World ... and You!

Babies control their world in two ways: with their elimination and their verbalization.  That's all!  Psychologists long ago figured out (I'm not sure how) that when babies place deposits in their diapers, they feel they are giving something back to the people who take care of them.  I think I can subscribe to that logic... a little.  The verbalization is another story, one that is easier to understand and accept.  Many times, I see the dialogue between babies and their parents. Baby coos; parent coos back.  Baby says, "Mama" and the mother goes berserk.  The baby has just learned his first word, and his first means of verbally controlling his world.  As the child grows, the elimination control intensifies through age three and the potty training battle, and the eases off through the rest of his or her life (thank goodness!).  If you were to plot that, you'd see a pyramid with the potty training months at the top.  Verbalization, on the other hand, has a different plot.  It starts out gradually and intensifies into the teen years where the children learn they can control their world through acerbic retorts or kind remarks.  How parents "reward" their children's verbalization through the formative years indicates whether they will get more retorts or remarks later in the child's life.  Lesson learned here?  Reward the kind remarks when they are little with hugs, thumbs up, and a return of the kind remarks.  And as tough as this seems, ignore the angry retorts by walking away or turning around.  When you "reward" certain behavior through negative attention, it will escalate.  When you ignore that same behavior, it will eventually disappear or at least decrease in frequency and intensity.  Always reward positive communication and ignore the negative communication.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Meal times are teaching moments

A study in the journal Pediatrics finds that children and adolescents who share meals with their families at least three times per week are less likely to be overweight, eat unhealthy foods or be at risk for eating disorders.  In my opinion, they are also less likely to use drugs, overindulge in alcohol, and engage in unprotected sex.  Why?  Because the family bonding conversations during meal times tend to stick to their ribs like oatmeal on a snowy morning.  When my kids were little, we generally had dinner together at least three times a week and always on Sunday evenings when I prepared a special meal eaten in the dining room.  What do you do special with your kids during mealtimes? 

Monday, May 2, 2011

A memorable day

On this day when all the world, and especially America, rejoices in the death of a demon, I wonder about the effects this will have on our children.  Do they see this as justice being served?  Or do they see it as a human being who was killed by our American government?  Yes, bin Laden was biologically human, but emotionally inhumane to other people.  I have always had a hard time accepting the death penalty as a means of dealing with criminals, even if it means that my taxes no longer provide for their maintenance in the jails.  So, I guess if I still had little people in the house, I'd help them to see that in killing the "bad guy" we have prevented him from killing any other innocent people.  May God bless the brave Navy seals who participated in the raid.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Children vs Fear

I recently heard about a woman who experienced the fear of being a German Jew, although she was an American Christian living in New York State. During WWII, her father worked at a bomb-making plant. The town would hold regular air raid drills. The fear of being bombed lives with that 80-year-old woman today. What are you doing to help your children overcome fear? Here are some suggestions: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/10/T110248.asp
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