Sunday, October 28, 2012

My Kids Fight All the Time - Help!

It's only ten am and your five year old is beating up his three year old brother. Again! Both children have been in time out twice, have had several lectures, and worst of all, this fight is over that ball bat that you took away from them yesterday. You told them they could get it back when they behaved themselves and would share. Well, they woke up pretty calm and co-operative but that was three hours ago. They shared the bat for about two minutes and started fighting. You are wondering how to get through this day without taking another Tylenol.

Why do children fight? And why don't strategies like taking the toy away or time out or lectures ultimately work?

There are many reasons why young children resort to battle.

The young child lives in a world of "me, me, me." Everything is about and revolves around self. It's difficult, if not almost impossible, for a young child to think about the needs of another without having been taught to do this. We try to teach "sharing" but, when a young child is told to "share" without a conversation, she interprets sharing as loss.

Language is also a problem. Young children don't have a lot of language with which to communicate the problem or the strong feelings that accompany it. They also don't know how to solve problems yet. But they do know how to use their bodies so the alternative is to fight.

Taking away the toy or the privilege doesn't work for several reasons. First of all, it builds resentment and escalates bad feelings. Secondly it does not give the child the opportunity to learn to use the toy or the privilege or learn to share. The problem disappears for the moment. But beware! It will resurface somewhere else because it has not been solved.

Lectures don't work because they are one sided. The child is talked at. He has no opportunity to engage or discuss. Lectures are boring, repetitive and easily forgotten.

Time out is, in and of itself, not a terrible idea. It's not the best way to go but it certainly is better than most other options. When time out is properly implemented, it is not a punishment, but a calm down time making.

Which leads us to the best option? Talking about the situation with the children involved and acting as a facilitator.

Before you even talk, however, be sure that the feelings of the children are calmed down. Nobody can talk when they are upset. Acknowledge how they feel and let them express before beginning to talk.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Teaching Values to Kids

Teaching values to children is an important part of a parent's responsibility.

Setting aside one evening each week is one way that families can teach values.

Following are ideas for preparing a family value lesson. A sample lesson using the value of empathy is also included.

Preparing for a Family Value Lesson

1. Set the evening aside well ahead of time. This allows everyone to clear his or her schedule. You may want to pick one night a week or a month and permanently plan it in your schedule.

2. Choose a value to teach. You can choose the value or let your children suggest ideas.

3. Find materials that correspond with the value such as stories and games. Places to search for resources might be:

· Theological lesson manual
· Faith based stories for children
· The Internet
· Children's magazines
· Educational stores for children
· Bookstores
· Libraries

4. Find pictures or coloring pages that illustrate the value and stories you've chosen.

5. Make or buy a treat to enjoy at the end.

Family Value Lesson Example

Focusing on one value a week helps you to identify teaching moments throughout the week so you can reinforce that value.

Following is a sample family value lesson using empathy.


Learn how to positively reach out to others (this is covered in the "activities" below)

Whiteboard & markers

Role-playing situations

Kindness award


Discussion and brainstorm


Kindness award


1. Discuss/brainstorm the words Empathy and Kindness

· What does "empathy" mean?
· What does empathy have to do with kindness?
· Why should we have empathy?
· What are some ways you can show empathy to another person?
· Have you ever hurt another person's feelings? How did that make you feel? How did it make the other person feel?

2. Divide the family into groups. Ask each group to come up with a specific situation that illustrates empathy. Then, have the group use the same situation but not show empathy. You can role-play these situations in front of each other. As a family, discuss which one was more positive and why. How would they feel if they were the person(s) in this situation?

3. Show or make kindness awards. Tell everyone that during the week or this evening they will be choosing someone in the family to give this award to. The award can have a place to write the name of their nominee. Next, write or tell that person how they showed empathy/kindness and what they learned about empathy/kindness from their nominee.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Child Development Through Play

If you have ever had a discussion about home schooling versus public schooling as a parent, you've probably talked or heard about how important the social aspect of education is at every level of learning. The school system doesn't just offer opportunities for academia but, and some might even argue more importantly, social interaction as well.

Development through social interaction isn't just important at a primary and secondary level either; play time for pre-schoolers and in early childhood institutions is one of the most important parts of these early learning experiences.

Learning a wide range of skills through play

There are a number of important skills that are developed during playtime. Social interaction, educational toys and exploring their surroundings are all crucial for a child's interpersonal, critical thinking skills and personality development.

Physical skills are also honed during this time. Playing with building blocks to throwing and catching balls increase hand-eye coordination, dexterity and motor skills.

Language is developed through communicating with parents, teachers and peers. Reading time at home leads to improved speaking skills which are then taken further at pre-school or when spending time with friends on play dates. Language is crucial for improving social skills and learning to cooperate with others. Without these skills a lot of children find it very difficult to fit in and relate with others, not only in primary and secondary education, but all aspects of life.

Parenting and early childhood development

As a parent you are responsible for laying out the groundwork for all of these skills through play. It's your influence that will have the biggest impact. It's a daunting prospect, but don't worry! Love, caring and attention are the most important ingredients to a healthy and happy childhood.

Early childhood education is a good way to develop these skills learned at home further. Interaction on a regular basis with peers and teachers encourages extroverted social skills and a better ability to communicate and cooperate effectively with others. It's in the preschool environment that the aspects of play and learning are fused together almost seamlessly.

Encourage and facilitate playtime

These early skills are the fundamental building blocks for a successful and well-rounded future in learning and development. Learning doesn't have to be and shouldn't be boring, especially at such a young age. Encourage your child to grow and develop through playtime and ensure they have all the opportunities that they require socially at a preschool or early child care facility.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

How to Organize Your Home for Educational Success

Parents need to organize their homes to be conducive to an educational environment for their children. Homes that are conducive to education have developed an environment that will increase the academic preparedness for their children. In our society, children need all the advantages necessary to become well-educated and if children can start the journey from home, all the better.

We all realize that the examples we give to our children can play a major part in what kind of person they grow up to be. If we set good examples for our children, hopefully they will observe and learn from those examples. Since parents set the first examples for their children, why not set an example of maintaining a well-organized home that has an educational environment.

Parents should realize there may be a direct relationship between a clean, well organized home and how much education and financial success children will achieve. Parents should always be looking for every advantage for their children, and if developing successful children is as simple as keeping a clean and orderly home. All of our homes should be clean. We also know that it takes more than keeping a clean house to raise educated children, and by no means am I saying that children must come from an organized, clean home in order to be successful. Children can learn in any environment, but an organized environment is more conducive to success.

Parents should also remember that requiring children to keep the house clean is part of keeping an environment conducive to education. Children should be given the responsibility of keeping their bedroom clean and also keeping any room they use in the house clean. In addition, children should have consequences for not keeping their bedroom or any room they use clean. This is a good way to build some responsibility in the children.

When organizing a home conducive for education anything that is not useful should be thrown out to make room for the educational environment. When this is completed the parents should try and find a room in the house that can be used for educational purposes. The room can be a shared room, but when someone walks in the room, they will observe the many educational tools. More information will be provided about this room later in this article.

To continue with organizing an educational friendly home, parents should place educational items throughout the house to make children aware of the importance of education. Parents could start by hanging up pictures throughout the house depict different people from other counties. This is a perfect time for parents to discuss the pictures with their children and give them a lesson about the people. The history lessons that can be derived from pictures can be invaluable for children, and remember this is part of building a house conducive to education for children.

In building an education friendly home the parents must have several bookshelves throughout the house. Bookshelves mean there are books in the home. Books should always be visible throughout the house for children, so they can realize the importance of them. Homes with no books in them are sending the wrong message to their children. Reading is the foundation of education, and the only way children can practice their reading is to have books at home. The bookshelves should be placed in strategic places throughout the house. One of the most important rooms to place the bookshelf is the child's bedroom. Children need to have easy access to books to encourage them to read. Parents should find one or two other locations in the house for bookshelves. Parents may have a special workroom in the house that could be another good location for a bookshelf.

If the house is big enough to set aside a special room for educational tools, this would be very helpful for children and adults. This room should be well lit and have a large desk or table with a computer and printer that has access to the Internet. This is a good place to have a bookshelf and books. Now since we live in the technology age, the room should also be equipped with fax, scanner, and telephone. Children can use this room to do homework, research and reading. This is what we call a 21st century room. Parents who can afford to have a 21st century room are giving their children an educational advantage that should help with their success.

Parents should also target other rooms in the house to develop an educational environment. If the house has a basement the parents can put up posters with positive messages to encourage children. Furthermore, parents can place magazines in the bathroom and in the kitchen to encourage reading. The kitchen could be used to place children's report cards on the refrigerator each semester. Parents who have degrees, awards or certificate should place them on a wall in the house or a room that is visible. Children love to see accomplishments of their parents, and maybe it can motivate them to be successful. Parents should remember that the goal is to build the entire house as an educational environment.

In addition to the educational friendly home, the parents should set some routines in place for their children that go hand and hand with the educational environment. Some routines that should be in place include having children set a special time each night to do homework, a set time to get up each morning and go to sleep each night. Children should have procedures for what chores are expected of them. It also helps if parents show children how to organize their room by placing items in special places. Parents should also consider posting a chart on the inside front cover of their child's folders to track the amount of time spent studying for each subject, and note what chapters and assignments have been completed. This can help organize your student's educational materials within your home and document his or her learning accomplishments for the school year.Time should be set aside for children to read. If possible, dinner should be eaten as a family, and parents should discuss the happening of the day.

Parents should monitor noise levels during homework time. Whether the child is working independently or together with parents, the phones, televisions and outside noises distract should be at a minimum. Parents should be aware of study time and encourage family and visitors to avoid unnecessary interruptions, such as loud video games or conversations. Consider turning off or silencing electronic devices that can interfere with students' concentration during study time. Television should be turned off during the week and only allowed on the week-end.

Parents should build a relationship with their children that encourage them to do a good job at school; this is part of the process of building a home conducive to educational success. The parents should expect their children to be successful in school and provide all resources needed to make it happen. Parents should continuously tell their children how smart they are and make sure they placed them in educational enrichment programs outside of their normal school day to build on their intelligence. If parents want their children to attend college, this should be clearly stated at an early age. If parents are trying to gear children toward a particular career they must begin early by focusing on skills that are necessary for that career.

In order to continuously encourage children, parents should show interest in their child's ideas and allow them to express themselves. Don't continuously quiet them.

Remember, learning at home doesn't always have to be restricted to your residence - visiting a local science museum or taking in a play may be related to something the child is doing at school, and will broaden the child perspective on life.

Monday, October 1, 2012

10 Tips For Completing School Mission Projects

Why do teachers send home big projects for kids to do, like missions and solar systems? These really aren't projects for the kids... it's just more homework for parents! Well, my son had to do a mission, and after lots of glue, paint, small plants, dirt, and scraps of construction paper all over the place, I think we did a fairly decent job...

A few tips I recommend:

    I DO NOT recommend buying the 'mission' kit... they really suck! Some of the solar system kits are alright, but you have to take out Pluto because, unlike how we were taught in school, it is no longer a planet?!?!
    Before beginning a mission project, make sure you know which mission it is and you can even look up pictures of what it looks like online! Isn't it amazing what technology allows us to do these days?
    I do recommend just getting some cardboard, construction paper, and paint to build it from scratch.
    Make sure you have PLENTY of extra supplies on hand... just in case you measure incorrectly, drop an important piece into the paint (the wrong color at that!), or glue the wrong pieces together.
    Learn how to make it look like your school-age child cut, drew, painted, and glued the project by themselves (this isn't too hard to do... for most people, including me!).
    If the project looks 'too good' then your child will likely not get full credit because the teacher won't believe that your child did the project (personal experience).
    Cut and paint all of the pieces PRIOR to gluing everything together (it's not easy to paint and add pieces AFTER gluing them to the base).
    Give your child big and small pieces to do, not only so they feel like they helped, but so they can say that they did the project (it's never good to ask your child to lie to their teacher... ).
    Solicit ideas from all of your children. The fountain in this picture has pipe cleaners painted blue sticking out for the water spitting... this was my daughter's idea. As parents, our imaginations have diminished significantly (at least most of us).
    Start the project as soon as your child tells you about it. This way, if something goes horribly awry during the process, you have time to start the project again... and again... and again...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Importance of Early Reading

Children will show real interest towards books, reading and learning later on, if their parents expose them to reading aloud and to an environment that promotes the written language through posters with words and corresponding images, for example.

Several developmental studies confirm that the more and earlier a child is spoken to, the richer his/her vocabulary will be by the age of three. Thus, children who receive more attention, more one-on-one time with their parents and who are read aloud to from an early age, have better chances to develop cognitive skills and a good memory, to build motivation and curiosity - all of which are essential for getting ready to start reading and writing on their own.

Unfortunately, there are many parents out there who still believe that a child's reading program starts when he/she is old enough to go to school. What they do not know is that this kind of behavior puts their child at a real disadvantage.

Taking into account that parents are practically responsible for the child's future and success in life, it is strongly recommended that they start by acknowledging the vital importance of early reading. Also, there are several things that they can do to improve the reading aloud experience or even to replace it with equally enjoyable alternatives:

· If you are too tired to read the children a story one night, TV watching is not a good replacement. Instead you can buy them online audio children's books that they can listen to every time you work late or don't have the energy to read aloud.

· Children's books always have illustrations to go along with every page and one can easily understand why: to stimulate imagination and curiosity. You can stimulate them further by not reading the ending and by brainstorming together with your children possible ending ideas.

· It is very important that children see the pages of the book as you read them. You can even show them from time to time where is the word that you are currently reading or just follow the written lines from beginning to end with the tip of the finger or a crayon while reading them. In this way, children will slowly start associating certain sounds to corresponding letters, and groups of sounds to words. This process will enable them learn the alphabet easier.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fun Materials to Teach Letter Formation

Teaching children the correct way to form letters is much more important than most people think. Children must learn to start at the top of the letter and end at the bottom right of the letter (in most cases). Using correct letter formation helps children write more quickly and more accurately.

There are several ways to teach correct letter formation, but one of the most effective is using letter formation prompts. To use a prompt, have your child say the prompt out loud as he or she traces or writes the letter. When your child has formed the letter, have him say the letter name out loud.

This method is extremely effective as long as your child is not frustrated. The hardest and most important thing to do is to make letter formation fun for your child. Obviously, a parent with high energy and a child who is well rested both go a long way. However, another way to make letter formation fun, is by using exciting materials. Here is a list of 15 different materials your child can use when practicing letter formation.

1. Play dough - make a long roll, then form it into the letter. Can also use a letter play dough mat.
2. Salt Tray - pie tin filled with enough salt that the bottom is covered.
3. Shaving Cream - pump shaving cream into a cookie sheet. Have your child spread it around before making the letter with his finger.
4. Sandpaper - cut the letter out of a piece of sandpaper, or just have your child trace the letter on the sandpaper.
5. White Crayon on Black Construction Paper - Write the letter with white crayon and have your child trace it with his finger.
6. Dot Markers - Use dot markers to make the letter.
7. Pipe Cleaners - Use pipe cleaners to make the letter.
8. Gel Bag - Fill a gallon sized zip lock bag with colored hair gel. Squeeze out any extra air. Use packing tape to seal the top. Have your child trace the letter onto the bag.
9. Pasta - Use plain or colored pasta to make the letter.
10. Puffy Paint - Write the letter with puffy paint on a piece of card stock. Have your child trace over the paint with his finger once the paint is dry.
11. Whiteboard - Write with a dry erase marker on a small whiteboard or on a whiteboard that is hanging on the wall.
12. Bathtub Crayons - Write with bathtub crayons in the bathtub.
13. Chalk - Write with chalk on a small chalkboard or outside on the sidewalk.
14. Rainbow Letters - Write the letter on a half sheet of paper using a pen or thin pencil. Have your child choose 5-10 crayons. Your child will trace the letter 5-10 times each time with a new crayon. The letter will be written in a rainbow of colors when he is finished.
15. Yarn on Sandpaper - Give your child small pieces of yarn and a piece of sandpaper. Have your child make the letter by sticking the yarn to the sandpaper.

All of these materials will not only help your child with letter formation, but they will make it fun and exciting to learn new letters. By using these materials, you can start teaching your child how to form letters at a very early age. The more practice they get, the more polished their handwriting will be in the future.