The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: July 2011

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Transition Times

Okay, teachers, the school year is almost here. Have you planned  how to ease the transitions from one activity to another? Even high school students need to know when one segment of the class is ending and the next segment is beginning to bring their attention back to the subject. Here are some helpful tips I found online and condensed them for you:
  1. Blink the lights once. Don't flick them on and off frequently, though, as you could trigger an epileptic seizure in some children.
  2. Play music or sing a song. Barney had the right idea all along with his clean up tune that everybody now uses for that critical end of day activity!
  3. Ring a bell. Use any kind of sound to indicate the end of one activity and the beginning of the next.
  4. Offer a time warning. If children know that they will be changing activities in five minutes, they'll be more agreeable to that change when it happens.
  5. Post a schedule. While you may not be able to stick to the schedule every day, rest assured that there will be at least one clock-watcher in the group who will let you know when time's up!
  6. Reinforce positive behavior. If a child knows that compliance will be rewarded, he'll be more likely to accept the changing activity.
For more ideas, go to http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/kits/wwbtk4.pdf where you'll find case studies and suggestions for implementing transition strategies.

Happy Teaching!

PS - These ideas work just as well at home with your family when you need to transition from play time to clean up time to dinner time to bed time.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Dragons, witches, and wolves...

"Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed."    G.K. Chesterton

Have you stopped reading fairy tales to your children or students because a big bad wolf goes after Red Riding Hood or a wicked witch casts a spell on Snow White?   Maybe it's time to think about how you can transform those seemingly meaningless stories into a learning lesson for your children.  Ask them these questions during or after the story:
  1.  What other big bad things can come get you besides a fairy tale wolf? 
  2.  How can you protect yourself from those big bad things?
  3.  Do witches really exist?
  4.  If they did, how would you show her that you're stronger than she is?
See how that goes?  Take your ordinary fairy tale and twist it into a format that will show the children that they can overcome their personal dragons, witches, and wolves.  Empower your children to be strong through the lessons they learn in their literature and movies.  I'm not sure that was Disney's motivation when he included an antagonist in each of his movies, but the lesson remains strong: If you can identify your dragon, you have the ability to slay it!

Happy Parenting~                                     

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A New Product for Students

I accidentally ran across a phenomenon that I wish I had when I was in high school and college.  It's called a smart pen (click the link!) and it automatically records the lecture while you take notes.  With a little mini-GPS inside, it locates a position on the paper.  Simply tap the word and you hear the instructor's lecture at that time in your head phones.  I know this sounds like an ad for this little device, but I just couldn't believe what it could do, especially for students with learning disorders involving processing speeds, slow writing, Asperger's Syndrome, or  AD/HD. The variety of notebooks will appeal to any personality, and you can get two different color inks.
The only drawback is that they are not your standard 59-cent pen.  They are expensive.  The smallest capacity (2GB) is $80 at amazon.com and you also need to get the notebook that has microdots embedded in the paper.  You can't use an ordinary notebook.  So, if you loose either the notebook or the pen, you lose the functionality of this marvelous tool. 

This is a good gift for a responsible high school student or a student going off to college.  Again, I know this sounds like an ad, but I really don't get any kickback from blogging about this device :-)

Happy Parenting!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Top Ten Ways to Have Happy Children

Lenora Boyle has outlined the Top Ten Ways to be Happy (for adults.)  Here, I'll translate them for children's happiness:
  1. Remember that your children are not perfect and never will achieve perfection in anything they do. 
  2. Love your children for all their successes and their failures. 
  3. Avoid bringing up past problems.  Live in the present.
  4. Show your children that you appreciate them and are grateful that they are in your life.
  5. Be a happy role model.  Laugh and smile frequently.
  6. Allow children to learn from their own mistakes without your intervention (unless of course, the situation is life-threatening) 
  7. Learn to pick your fights.  Often, a situation does not need to end in a disagreement if you think about other options.
  8. Search for creative solutions to common situations.
  9. Believe in a higher power.
  10. Be positive - show your children what you DO expect from them rather than what you DON'T expect.
I'm pretty sure that if you follow these ten simple guidelines for helping your children to achieve happiness, you'll find your own life will be happier, too!

Happy Parenting!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Five Ways Families Can Save Money

If you're like me when my kids were little, you have more month left at the end of the paycheck than money left at the end of the month.  We frequented discount stores and seldom ate out.  Today I browsed the Internet as if I were thirty again (ahhhh!) with an eye to how I might save money with children in the house.  Here's what I found...
  1. My kids would have wanted a cell phone as soon as they entered middle school if that technology had been available.  So, if I were to get a phone for my daughter, this is what I would get: Wal-Mart sells a Straight Talk Plan. You must initially purchase a cell phone first. Their LG 220C has an alarm clock, texting features, a calculator and a color screen for $45. It does not have a camera, which might be a good thing with teens. Straight Talk offers unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited mobile web access, all for $45 a month without a contract.  This gets my vote for the best phone for teens and tweens.
  2. Years ago, I kept a Christmas club, which gave me money to spend for gifts.  I budgeted the amount of money for each child and other family members.  Now, you can get a credit card that will deposit 2% of your purchases into any account you choose.  What a win-win situation!  The Fidelity Rewards American Express card will put that into a savings account, a 529-plan for your child's college education, or an IRA account for your retirement.  But you can pick only one ;-)  That's fair, right?  I think I'd pick the savings account so I could use it for Christmas or whenever and hope that my kids got college scholarships.  (ha!)
  3. Grocery bills were HUGE with three kids and all their friends stopping in all the time.  Certainly couponing helps, even if you don't go to extremes.  Look for sales and buy in bulk.  These are all common tricks of the parenting trade to save money on groceries.  However, the biggest way you can save money is to make a meal plan and stick with the program.  When you go to the store, only buy what's on the list.  Here's one woman's story of how she fed her family for $100 a week: http://www.parents.com/family-life/money/family-finances/save-money-on-groceries/
  4. We loved family vacations.  It was a time to get away without miscellaneous distractions and concentrate on enjoying family life.  However, on a limited budget, we couldn't rent a hotel room for a week a Disney World every year.  In fact, we couldn't rent a motel anywhere for a week because the cost of eating out was prohibitive.  So, we rented.  We looked for little cabins in the woods on a stream or lake where we could enjoy what nature offered us.  Look at it this way: Depending on where you go, you can rent a house for your family from $500 to $1000 for the week.  Bring your own canned and boxed goods and buy fresh products when you get there.  you still have to eat, so that doesn't enter into the cost of the vacation.  Mother Nature offers free recreation when you hike the trails and discover hidden waterfalls.  We have two favorite locations: The State Park system in West Virginia and a private cabin we rented in Maine.  Neither had TV!
  5. The biggest bill I had for school clothes was not the clothing because we generally shopped at discount places and used hand-me-downs.  The biggest bill was for footwear.  I refused to skimp on their feet!  So, instead of going to Guy's Discount Shoe Store, we would go to the regular shoe places like Sports Authority, etc. but only when there was a sale or a coupon that drastically discounted the products. I have a friend who buys shoes one size larger the previous season when they are discounted heavily.  I think that's a bit overboard, but to save money, it's definitely a plan worth considering.
Happy Parenting!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Kids and Off-road Vehicles

I took this as a sign that this should be my next blog topic... I received a blogpost from KidProof on Friday about how kids can stay safe on off-road vehicles.  Then on Saturday, I found that the son of a friend's friend had been killed while riding his quad.  A careless young driver on drugs had hit him with his pickup truck.  He did not survive the ride to the hospital.  Such a sad, life-changing event for that family.  Therefore, I'll summarize here what the KidProof blog recommends:
  • Off-road vehicles are designed to be just that - vehicles for fields and farms, not the side of the road.  More fatal accidents happen when kids ride these vehicles too close to regular traffic.
  • Not all off-road vehicles are created equal.  Some go up to 75 miles per hour and are designed for adult riders.  Others will only go to 30 miles per hour and are designed for younger drivers.
  • Make sure your kids wear helmets while riding.  Young drivers don't have the strength to right a vehicle when it tips.  A helmet won't save a crushed leg, but it will prevent brain damage.
  • Keep the keys locked away so children can't decide to take a joy ride on their own.  Here is an article that proves that point: http://www.legalinfo360.com/2010/03/child-killed-in-atv-accident-ruled-accident/ 
  • According to KidProof, "You can protect your kids and teens by keeping them off ATVs and mini-bikes until they’re at least 16 and have a driver’s license."
And here are some alarming statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission: There were more than 540 ATV-related deaths and more than 150,000 ATV-related emergency room visits in America in 2007 alone. One out of five deaths and more than a quarter of the injured were kids under 16. Nearly one in 10 of the deaths was a child younger than 12. 

That's enough information for me to say I'd never, ever want my child to ride an off-road vehicle, even for only a few minutes.  The risk is just too great.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Help Without Leaving Home or Spending any Money!

People who help others inspire me.  They might help people, animals, or the environment.  It doesn't matter.  Help is help.  Psychologists agree that when young people look outward for satisfaction, rather than inward, they mature faster and have a more positive outlook on life.  Therefore, during these hot days of summer or frigid days of winter, I've found that there are a few ways you can help others without leaving home and some of these philanthropies don't involve spending any of your own money.  Families can do these and teachers can use some of them as a classroom philanthropy!
  • Click here http://www.thehungersite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=1 and each click sends food to starving people around the world.  Look at the top of the website and you'll see seven other philanthropies where a simple click makes a difference.  If you're looking for a unique birthday present, buy from these folks and a portion of your purchase price also helps their cause. 
  • A similar website (http://clicktogive.com/) will send you an email reminder to click every day and offers rewards for clicking!
  • Looking for new school shoes?  Some children don't have enough money for new shoes.  So, if you buy shoes at http://www.toms.com/, they will donate one pair of shoes for each pair bought at their website. 
  • Do you have a bunch of old greeting cards - both new and used?  Then send only the fronts to http://www.stjudesranch.org/help_card.php   The folks at St. Jude's Ranch transform them into marketable greeting cards as fund raisers for their ranch for children.  They also accept Campbell Soup labels and Boxtops for Education.
This is only a partial list of the ways you can help.  If you find any others, please post them here for others to see.

Happy Parenting and Happy Teaching!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

When a Pet Dies...

Recently, a friend said that she had to put down their cat, which devastated her son who did not know life without the cat.  That brought be back to the MANY animals we had in our house while my girls were growing up.  Don't laugh too much at this list we had over the years (not all at the same time): Assorted hamsters, several guinea pigs, many rabbits (what happens when you put the boy rabbit with the girl rabbit, Mom?) 3 ferrets, 2 goats, 4 labrador retriveers, several chameleons, parakeets, fish, and a pot-bellied pig.  Most are buried out in a designated area in our wooded back yard.  My favorite memorial is the two sticks which form a cross on which one of my girls wrote, "Here lies Hammy.  He died of wet-tail."  What a testimonial!

Here are some Internet resources with tips for dealing with pet loss:
http://www.pet-loss.net/
http://www.pet-loss.net/children.shtml
http://www.griefhealing.com/article-explaining-pet-loss-to-children.htm
http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/feelings/pet_death.html

To help your children deal with the death of an animal, whether at home or in school where you might have a classroom pet, consider creating an album or collage that your child can return to when he or she misses the beloved pet.  Have the children draw pictures or write memories of that pet.  Although devastating at the time, dealing with the loss of a pet helps your child accept the inevitibility of life and makes him or her stonger for the experience. 


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In Support of Kiddie Leashes

When my twins were toddlers, I decided that safety trumped gossip and bought leashes to tether my girls in crowded or dangerous locations.  The trip to a mall, the boardwalk, and beach brought disapproving glances from parents of all ages who obviously considered me a bad mother.  They probably thought I'd allow them to poop on the sidewalk, too, like a poodle.  However, I can only be in one place at a time and had only two hands for three children.  The leash seemed like the solution to this safety-minded mother's nightmare.  So off I went, two kids on leashes in one hand and my older daughter holding the other hand, safe in the knowledge that I knew where my kids were at all times and could come to their assistance at a moment's notice if needed.  An added attraction for me was that I didn't have to push a bulky twin stroller and my daughters exercised their leg muscles in the process.  It was a win-win situation.  Plus, holding childrens' hands for an extended period of time can be uncomfortable -- imagine how you'd feel keeping your hand raised above your head for hours!

Naturally, there are two sides to every story. The writers at www.child.com in an old post discouraged leash use for two-year-olds, claiming that "the leash conveys an innapropriate message by using physical force instead of words to keep your child near you." I say that sometimes kids just don't listen (you think?) and words aren't enough to ensure safety.

Maureen Dempsey Baker, creator of the By My Side child safety harness explains, "We were informed by pediatricians that (many) common injuries are to shoulders and arms from parents pulling up when a child falls while holding their hand. The harness allows you to gently guide your child while supporting them in their strongest place, the chest."

Now there are backpack-style leashes that provide a better fashion statement than my old-fashioned harness variety that really did look like a dog leash.  Plus, the kids are agreeable to being leashed because they can keep "stuff" in their backpacks as they walk along.  I support kiddie leashes all the way and the tongue waggers can just keep wagging their tongues.  After all, they probably never had to ensure the safety of twins and a singleton at the same time. 

Happy Parenting!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Beat the Heat

If you live on the east coast like me, you know that the weather outside is too hot for outside activities for extended periods of time.  With children inside, you're probably looking for fun, easy indoor activities that will education and entertain.  Here are some ideas:

  1. Make ice cream and discuss how salt makes the cream freeze.  For an easy explanation and inexpensive recipe, go here: http://teachnet.com/lessonplans/science/plastic-bag-ice-cream-recipe/
  2. Make healthy fruit smoothies or freeze them for cool snacks:  http://allrecipes.com/HowTo/healthy-snacks-for-kids-smoothies/detail.aspx
  3. Dress the kids in bathing suits, give them some washable paints, and let them paint the bathtub.  When they're done, take a picture of them and their creactions, then give them a sponge and soapy water to clean off their artwork.  Caution: if you have tile with grout, don't try this.  The "washable" paint doesn't come off of the grout easily.  However, if you have a one-piece shower/tub combo, this is great.
  4. Make homemade play dough.  This is a tried and true activity, but this website adds a few more ideas to homemade fun: http://www.mamacheaps.com/2010/08/rainy-day-indoor-homemade-summer-fun-for-kids.html
Enjoy your indoor days with the little ones.  They won't stay that way for long!

Happy Parenting!

Monday, July 18, 2011

How Much Sleep Should Your Children Get?

At around 2-3 months, the average infant begins to sleep through the night, giving their fatigued parents a much-welcomed rest.  For the next 18 years, the parents and their children will battle for control of the sleep cycle, sometimes causing clashes between the two age groups.  The younger ones will want to stay up later, while the parents will want them in bed for some "us time."  If you establish a regular bedtime for your children (usually around 8:00 pm) and don't mind getting up a bit earlier than the birds, you will achieve your goal.  However, if you're not a morning person, you might want to let your little ones stay up as long as you're up so you can "sleep in" the next morning.  During the school year, however, it's important that your children get the recommended amount of sleep, so you'll need to count backwards from the time you must get them up to get them out on time.  Here are the professional recommendations:
  • 3-11 months:  9-12 hours during the night and 30-minute to two-hour naps, one to four times a day – fewer as they reach age one.
  • 1-3 years: 12-14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. When they reach about 18 months of age their naptimes will decrease to once a day lasting about one to three hours in the afternoon. Naps should not occur too close to bedtime as they may delay sleep at night.
  • 3-5 years: 11-13 hours each night and most do not nap after five years of age.
  • 5-12 years: 10-11 hours of sleep each night.  Sometimes children of this age will make up for less sleep during the week by sleeping longer on the weekends.  This is not as desirable as getting the same amount of sleep each night.
  • Teens: 8.5 - 9.5 hours of sleep each night.  Teens are the least likely group to get enough sleep each night due to the many and varied demands on their time.  From The National Sleep Foundation, here are a few of the risks to a sleep-deprived teenager:
    • Increased risk of injury or accident, particularly when driving
    • Lowered grades and poor school performance
    • Emotional and behavioral problems, such as negative mood
    • Increased stimulant use (particularly caffeine and nicotine), alcohol use and use of similar substances
No matter what age your child, the amount of sleep she gets is directly related to her health and well-being. And naturally, if your child is sick, the amount of sleep she needs increases by several hours. If your child is having trouble sleeping, consult a sleep expert for professional assistance.

Happy Parenting!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Children of divorce

Most of the time, I write about topics I know.  I am blessed to have a loving husband and strong healthy children and grandchildren.  However, sometimes a topic comes up that I need to research for my readers.  That topic is children of divorce.  Naturally, all families have disagreements and life's hurdles that need to be overcome, but most of us get over them and get on with our lives.  Others, however, never succeed in surmounting those obstacles to happiness.  Those are the families of divorce... Families where stability is not the norm and daily arguments cloud the home environment. Here then, are some resources that may help ease the transition:
And here is some advice from that last link:
  • Do not keep your divorce a secret or wait until the last minute.

  • Tell your child together with your spouse what will happen after the divorce.

  • Keep things simple and straight-forward.

  • Tell them the divorce is not their fault.

  • Admit that this will be sad and upsetting for everyone.

  • Reassure your child that you both still love them and will always be their parents.

  • Do not discuss each other’s faults or problems with the child.


  • Also remember to call in your support group of extended family, friends, and perhaps a counselor or clergy to help with the transition.  I truly hope none of you has to endure the shattering of a family, but in some cases, it is necessary for the sanity of all involved.  In that case, make sure your children understand the it's not their fault and that they can actually help the parents ease their own anxieties.

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    Summer Science Sensations

    I have borrowed some ideas from Penn State today to show you ways you can add some science education to your children's summer learning experiences. For extra fun, purchase some inexpensive safety goggles in kiddie size to make your young scientists feel more professional... and safe!


    Smell the Difference - Mirror Molecules
    Even though the same atoms combine to make mirror molecules, the left-handed and right-handed versions can have very different properties, such as smell. With a few items from around your house, you will be able to smell the difference between some stereoisomers like lemon and orange, or mint and caraway. National Museum of American History.

    Finding the Speed of Light with Marshmallows - A Take-Home Lab

    Requires a microwave oven, a microwave-safe casserole dish, a bag of marshmallows, and a ruler.

    Burning Calories - The Energy in Food

    How to make a simple calorimeter for measuring the energy content of food. UCSF, for grade 4 students.

    Testing Foods for Glucose and Starch

    Students practice safe laboratory methods while learning how to interpret results of chemical tests. They determine the foods to test and interpret and record their results. Based on the amount of glucose or starch present in the food, both tests will provide varying results. This gives students the chance to make decisions about results and helps them understand that scientists must repeat tests to confirm results. ---Countertop Chemistry.

    Countertop Chemistry

    Chemistry Activities that use chemicals you can find at the grocery or the hardware store. NC State University.

    Edible/Inedible Experiments Archive

    Science should be fun….and science should be edible! Food batteries, cabbage juice pH indicator, generating light by chewing, and more!

    How Stuff Works – Foods

    Beer, coffee, antioxidants, food preservation, etc.

    Food Chemistry Experiments

    A to Z Home's Cool Homeschooling Web Site.

    Plastic Bag Ice Cream

    Illinois Farm Bureau - Ag ZipLocks & You - 10 plastic bag activities for kids. Also, check out this site from the University of Guelph, Ontario for information on the science and technology ice cream making.
     
    Happy Parenting!

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    Are Your Kids on "The Right Track" ?

    "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."  Will Rogers

    Are your kids on the right track? Great!  But will they stay there?  How can you tell if they'll stay there?  First, you and your children must identify the destination for their track.  In other words, make a list of goals.  Those goals might include short-term goals like saving money for a new iPod, mid-term goals like passing the next math test, and long-term goals like becoming a veterinarian.  All of those "destinations" are on the right track to success.  But, as Will Rogers reminds parents, unless your children actually do something to achieve those goals, they'll sit on the tracks without ever reaching their destination.

    So, what can you do?  I recommend my favorite tool - a progress chart.  Make your own, or get one from the Internet.  However, try to resist the simply act of placing a star on a chart to indicate progress.  This tells the child little more than they had a good day or several good days in a row.  Create a chart where the child can write in his little successess toward the bigger goal.  For example, if his goal is to buy a new iPod and he gets $20 in a birthday card, he might write $5 from birthday money toward iPod.  Total today: $17.50; Needed: $134.  Now he sees the whole picture as a sum of its parts, a great lesson for any young saver!  And you don't need to offer any additional external rewards - showing progress will be an internal reward for your child, and that's the best kind of reward.

    The reward chart can have the short term, mid-erm, and long-term goals all together so your child can see the even bigger picture.  Remember to add dates at the top of the chart so eveyone can see daily or weekly progress.  Your child will thank you when she becomes the CEO of a major corporation, the mother of her own children, or family financial manager!

    Happy Parenting!

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Where are your kids' records?

    Many times through my children's growing years, I had to produce their shot records.  And just as many times, I hadn't a clue where I put them!  During the everyday madness that is family life with young children, the medical records took a back seat to homework, sports practice, and music lessons. 

    Today's parents have an easier job of locating their children's medical records - digitally!  Simply scan the shot records and save them in a digital file under each child's name.  Then when the school asks for the records, you have a ready reference, unless they require an "official" copy with a doctor's signature.

    In an emergency, those records become even more valuable.  Law enforcement and health care agencies agree that every parent should keep up-to-date photos (without anyone else in the picture), medical records, and other vital information about their kids in a quickly accessible spot.  In the unfortunate event that your child goes missing, you have a photograph ready for investigators. Along with the photo, keep a note with your child’s date of birth, full name and nickname(s), hair color, eye color, height and weight, birthmarks, and whether she wears glasses, earrings or braces.  This should all be on one sheet so you can easily print out all the information at once.  Also, if you need to go to the emergency room, you have the health records at ready reference during a time when you're not thinking as clearly as you should.

    Other information you can store digitally is a copy of the birth certificate, adoption records, dental records, list of current medications, physical conditions, a closeup of birthmarks or other identifying marks, and list of any previously broken bones.  Particularly important to include is a list of allergies.

    On every sheet, include the child's name, your name, address, phone number, and work contact information.  Add the names of closest relatives and reliable neighbors (ask for their permission to include their name first!)  Consider saving all this on a thumb drive that you attach to your car keys and you'll always have your child's emergency information with you!

    Hopefully you'll never need to use this emergency information, but if you do, you'll be glad to take the time to assemble this information in one place.

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    What DO you want your kids to do?

    So often, I go to the mall or other public place and hear parents utter this caution: "Don't do that!"  I can't think of a worse way to tell children how they are supposed to behave.  Why?  Two reasons:  (1) Don't is an invisible word.  When you tell children don't to this or you can't do that, they don't hear the "don't," they only hear what they're NOT supposed to do!  So when you tell your child, "Don't hit the dog," he only hears "hit the dog."  (2) When you said "Don't do THAT, you aren't telling your child what THAT is! 

    So what can you say instead?  Simply tell your children what you DO want them to do.  Here's an example if the child is hitting the dog:  "Go outside and bounce the basketball."  That statement gives your child something he can legally hit without injuring anybody else.  See the relationship?  Redirect your child to something he wants to do that is socially acceptable.

    I can't emphasize enough how important it is to remain positive when dealing which children.  Tell them what you DO want them to do.  Reward positive behavior with positive reinforcement.   When you stay positive, so will your children!

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Cooperation - It's the Name of the Parenting Game!

    If you've followed my blog for the past few months, you've realized that I strongly support offering children choices for two reasons: (1) To give them practice for when their decisions are life-threatening, and (2) To gain their cooperation.  However, sometimes that cooperation does not come even when you offer good choices.  Here are some other strategies you can use to get kids to do what's good for them and to gain their cooperation:
    • Use When/Then statements (When you clean up your toys, then we can go to the playground.)
    • Use a sequence of events (First get dressed, second have breakfast, third you can play with the puppy.)
    • Offer reasons for your request (We need to clean up because Grandma will be here soon.)
    • Be firm after an initial warning or choice (I said it's bedtime now.)
    Children are master manipulators and they love to see just how far they can push the system.  With a little kindness, understanding, choices, and firmness, your life with kids can be more organized and sane than if you didn't use these parenting methods.   They will also appreciate your efforts as a parent more, too!  By the way, these strategies work for children from 3 to 18 and beyond!

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Summer Badge Album

    Remember how much fun you had collecting badges for Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts?  Or maybe you currently enjoy collecting POGO badges for games. (If you have young children, though, who has time for online gaming?) Anyway, the bottom line is that kids love to collect things - bugs, leaves, even stamps and coins.  With the easy way to print your own badges using the Avery round stickers, think about creating your own sticker album, individualized for each child.  Have them decorate the cover of their album made from construction paper, then add plain pieces of computer paper folded in half for the pages of the album.  Connect them with yarn and you instantly have a sticker album.  Consider adding a photograph of the completed project and a written description with the badge for a summer keepsake.

    Here are some ideas for stickers:
    1. Reading badges (One for each book completed and summarized on an album page)
    2. Chores completed badge
    3. Helper badge
    4. Wildlife badge (found and identified a new bug, leaf, or other wild thing!)
    5. Astronomy badge (identified five different constellations)
    6. Cooking badge (made muffins from the ubiquitous zucchini crop!)
    7. Mechanics badge (fixed a broken toy with or without adult supervision)
    8. Math badge (practiced five pages of age-appropriate math problems - easy to get online)
    9. Veggie badge (finished all veggies on the plate)
    10. Craft badge (completed a craft kit)
    The idea behind these badges is to encourage completion of activities.  So often, kids begin something, find a new activity, and abandon the old activity without completing it.  The badge system helps children see the value of seeing a project through to completion.

    What badges can you think of that will be good for your children?  Encourage your children to develop their own badges, too!

    Saturday, July 9, 2011

    Backyard Summer Safety


    Whether you’re barbecuing, swimming, or playing outdoors the following tips will help ensure that you, your family, and friends stay as safe as possible:
    • Insect stings can be dangerous.  Simple mosquito bites can become infected.  Spider bits may be venomous.  Bee stings can cause a severe allergic reaction.  If you suspect a problem like hives, trouble breathing, or extreme swelling, see a doctor immediately.  
    • If you use an insect repellant or sunscreen, make sure it's not out of date and is suitable for the age of your children.
    • Be careful with young children around Tiki torches and the fuel.  The torches may set a child's clothes on fire if the child knocks into it while running; the fuel is extremely poisonous.
    • Like indoor cleaning products, store pool products out of children's reach.
    • Constantly supervise children around water.  Never take your attention away from their safety by talking to friends.
    • Keep the cutting board you use to chop salad vegetables separate from the cutting board you use for raw meat.
    • Don't leave refrigerated foods out in the hot sun.  Have everyone fill their plates, then put the food back in the refrigerator.
    • Keep a watchful eye on the beer keg.  Children like to copy what the adults do.
    Happy camping, barbecuing, swimming, and playing this summer!


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