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Earth Day 2014

 

Hands on a globeEarth Day 2014 will be here soon and with two kids in preschool I think about the amount of stuff I have to pack in their lunches everyday. True, LTD has a sweet R2-D2 lunch box and so we aren’t wasting brown bags like back in my day, but The Mommy and I are always looking for ways to reduce the amount of packaging we use. I have started making BB’s yogurt from a big container of yogurt and mixing it with fruit instead of burning throw those little yogurt cups at the rate of three or four a day.

 

U•Konserve cites the following: “The U.S. uses a staggering amount of the world’s resources even though we are a fraction of the world’s population. As a result, we are creating most of the global pollution problem. Every day we generate 200 million tons of trash, or 4.3 lbs. per person. Most of this trash is from our disposable lifestyle, and this convenience comes with a high cost.”

 

Their reusable food containers and commitment to cut down on waste in schools makes LTD’s approaching Kindergarten year a positive thing on a subject that makes me sad that he is growing up so fast.

April Fools Day is Soon

pity-the-foolKiddie Academy has listed was to enjoy April Fools Day with your little ones. Five Ways to Add Humor to Your Child’s Day

Although the historical origins of April Fools’ Day are uncertain, one thing is clear – children love this annual day of silly pranks and jokes. In addition to the pure fun of telling jokes, the experts at Kiddie Academy point out the educational benefits of exercising your family’s funny bone year-round.

“When children tell jokes, they are actually playing with language and vocabulary, making associations between words and concepts. This is an important component of literacy education,” says Richard Peterson, vice president of education, KiddieAcademy. “Sharing funny stories and jokes also offers a safe format for children to showcase their attempts with language — not only is it OK if people laugh at them, it’s a bonus. Making someone laugh also helps to build a child’s self-esteem.”

Here are five fun ideas for adding humor to your family’s life:

1. Host a Family “Open Mike” night. Invite your children to tell their favorite jokes. Join in the fun by also sharing your own kid-friendly humor. Use an empty paper towel roll covered in aluminum foil to serve as your microphone. Laughing together creates wonderful memories.

2. Share tall tales, whether they are classics such as Paul Bunyan or John Henry, or your own creations. A tall tale usually involves solving a problem in a big and funny way. Talk about why a giant griddle for Paul Bunyan’s pancakes would or wouldn’t work.

3. Ask your family members – “Who is the funniest person you know?” Follow up with questions about why he or she is funny, and tell a few funny stories starring that person.

4. Play with Words. Challenge your family to see how many related puns you can string together in a conversation. A pun-marathon is great fun for car rides, or even over dinner. Puns help children exercise comprehension skills such as reasoning, inference, and context clues.

5. Tell Knock Knock jokes. Many are kid-friendly, and the web offers a huge selection. They’re classics, and fun to share.

Article: The Overprotected Kid

The Atlantic has an interesitng article about risk vs. danger when it comes to kids. Here.

Youngest Kindergarteners Most Likely to be Held Back

schoolhouseThe University of Missouri has an interesting article by Diamond Dixon about kindergarten.

For some parents, the decision of when to enroll their children into kindergarten can result in costly consequences such as another year of daycare expenses. In general, children must be five years old to be eligible to be enrolled in kindergarten. However, the developmental differences between a young kindergartener who barely qualifies for the state-mandated age cutoff date compared to a child who is almost year older, may have implications. Now, a University of Missouri researcher has found that the youngest kindergartners are about five times more likely to be retained, or held back, compared to the oldest students, resulting in higher costs for parents and school districts.

“Research on retention has been somewhat more consistent in suggesting that holding children back a year is not the most effective practice,” said Francis Huang, assistant professor in the MU College of Education. “Requiring children to repeat a grade is not only expensive for parents and school districts, but it also can affect children’s self-esteem and their ability to adjust in the future.”

Huang suggests that schools should continue to be more flexible in assisting kindergarteners of varying ages so that they can proceed normally rather than requiring them to repeat the grade the following year.

“The youngest students in a classroom can be nine to 12 months less mature than their oldest peers,” Huang said. “Since older kindergarteners can have as much as 20 percent more life experience than their younger classmates, teachers need to meet students where they are developmentally and adjust instructions based on a student’s ability. Studies have shown that only a small number of teachers modify classroom instruction to deal with a diverse set of students.”

Huang also investigated the relationship between retention and a child’s socioemotional skills, such as the child’s self-control and interpersonal skills, to further understand why younger students were more likely to be retained. Huang analyzed data from the nationally-representative “Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-99” and found that, on average, the youngest kindergarteners were about five times more likely to be retained compared to the oldest kindergartners. However, Huang found that children with higher attentiveness, task persistence, and eagerness to learn were less likely to repeat a grade.

In addition, Huang also noticed that a child’s height was associated with the likelihood of a child being retained. This relationship existed even after accounting for differences in children’s academic abilities, socioeconomic status, age, and fine motor skills.

“Retention is usually reserved for children who struggle academically; however, if two children are having the same difficulties in the classroom and one child happens to be shorter than the other child, then the smaller, younger child has a much higher likelihood of being retained,” Huang said.

Since parents, teachers and school administrators may be operating under the assumption that early retention may be beneficial, Huang says awareness of higher retention rates among young students is important to acknowledge in order to address the issue. Huang’s study, “Further Understanding Factors Associated with Grade Retention: Birthday Effects and Socioemotional Skills,” was published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.

No Kids Allowed

bedA Beyond the Car Seat first, an adults only post. Got kids? Here’s how to keep the intimacy alive. Journalist Anne Rodgers and gynecologist Maureen Whelihan surveyed 1,300 women ages 15 to 97, including many in the throes of raising kids, about desire for their book, Kiss and Tell. Here are their tips for busy moms based on what the women they interviewed said did and didn’t work for them:

It’s important to know that being a mom and having a great love life aren’t mutually exclusive.

Chasing a toddler around or shuttling kids from soccer practice and piano lessons may not make some women feel very desirable. But just because you’re a mom doesn’t mean you can’t have a great intimate life.

• Don’t talk about the kids. Kids don’t create desire, they create stress, many women the interviewed said.

• Get out of your head. The women surveyed for Kiss and Tell who were having better sex were the ones who were focused on the moment, not on laundry, bills, the to-do list, etc. Many said having the mood set with things like candles, music or a glass of wine helped with this.

• Private time. Once they are old enough, teach kids how to make breakfast for themselves on Saturday or Sunday mornings and use that time as mom and dad time.

• Understand the demands. Many of the women interviewed for Kiss and Tell said they wished their partners had a better understanding of how exhausted they were. Since men have eight times as much testosterone as women, the authors say they may want to think about how they can harness that “energy” and do things to help get their partner in the mood, whether it’s running a bubble bath, giving her a massage or just straightening up the house and putting away some laundry.

• Don’t ignore your spouse. As tiring as being a parent may be, maintaining a strong physical relationship with each other creates a bedrock of intimacy, which also comes in handy down the road when the kids are out of the house.

Rodgers, a former writer and editor for the Austin American-Statesman and Palm Beach Post, spent an entire year conducting the interviews for Kiss and Tell. Whelihan is a gynecologist in West Palm Beach and a founding partner of the Center for Sexual Health in Charlotte, NC.

National Collision Awareness Month

Chief_carseatMarch is National Collision Awareness Month, a valuable time to shine the spotlight on child passenger safety.

• Car crashes are the number one killer of children 1 to 12 years old.

• Motor vehicle traffic death rates for children are higher in the United States than in other high income countries.

• And according to MMWR effective interventions, including child passenger restraint laws (with child safety seat/booster seat coverage through at least age 8 years) and child safety seat distribution plus education programs, can increase restraint use and reduce child motor vehicle deaths.

The Child Passenger Safety Tips and Resource Guide from the AutoPartsWarehouse.com contains the following:

• Car Seat Guidelines by Age (for example, children under two should always ride in a rear facing car seat)

• Child Passenger Safety Tips (from locking down electric window buttons to proper seat belt use)

• Links to key resources on child passenger safety

To directly access the guide, click Here:

The Fall of Western Civilization

pebblesSaw this box in the store during the holidays, thankfully LTD wasn’t with me, but truthfully I think even he would think it was too much. Can you even imagine letting the kids chow down on this and then expect your day to continue normally? I’m no stranger to sugar but I think it is time to step back from the ledge on this one.

Happy First Birthday BB

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Product Review – Fisher-Price Bedtime Peppa

$(KGrHqV,!k8FIf2CDoQFBSMSnm32lg~~60_35 Disclosure: I received complementary Peppa Pig products in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Nick Jr. episodes maybe only five minutes long, but as a rule we try and get BB to sleep way longer then that. Of course, we are having some trouble in that department, so we have turned to Bedtime Peppa, a stuffy that sings sweet lullabies. The catch is, she sings them when you put her on her side to go to bed. When you pick her up after night-night she wakes up by making pig sounds and laughing. During bed time he cheeks glow a subtle pink to ease the little ones off to cloud 9. Peppa also comes with a small blanket to demonstrate proper night time procedures. Since the goal is to try and get BB to go down to sleep on his own you can exit the room under the excuse that if you stay the lullabies will get stuck in your head (and we can’t have that).We used the sleep sheep with LTD, but after many years of constant use it moved on to a better place. It is nice to have night time sounds in the room again.

How to Raise a Charitable Child

Mosser Kids Care - compressedrevisedGenerationOn, one of the nation’s largest youth volunteer organizations, offers these tips.

Five Easy Ways to Teach Your Kids Values

By Kathy Saulitis

The holiday season is filled with opportunities for children to be caring and compassionate. And for parents, it starts with showing your kids how it’s done! Let your children see you helping elderly neighbors rake their leaves, being kind to those around you in crowded stores, collecting canned goods for the hungry.

Right before Thanksgiving, we celebrate Family Volunteer Day. On Nov. 23 this year, it is a day that showcases families making a difference in their communities and kicks off the season of giving.  Here are five easy ways to teach your kids values – and do some good for others – on Family Volunteer Day and throughout the year.

1.         Talk to your children about issues affecting your neighborhood, your community and the world. When my oldest son was in elementary school and was involved in a holiday food drive, he didn’t immediately see why people needed help at all. His initial reaction was, “They just need to go get a job!” In simple language, I explained about income versus expenses and how the very people we were helping to feed may be working several jobs but still are short for food. As a young problem-solver, he thought for a while and then suggested ideas for how our country might deal with hunger in new ways. He got it!

2.         Use the dinner hour to talk about reaching out to others. Do you have a neighbor that may be sick or lonely? Are there struggling families in your community? Do you know someone in the service who is deployed? Talk to your children about how they feel about these situations and get their input on ways your family can help.

3.         Appeal to your children’s interests. Does your family love the outdoors? Do your kids like to get their hands dirty? Try volunteering for a park or beach clean-up or help plant a community garden. The more you draw on your children’s interests, the more motivated they become.

4.         Find a hands-on, family-friendly volunteer project.  You can find family-friendly project ideas and resources at www.generationOn.org or check out your local HandsOn Network affiliate.

5.         Start a family tradition of volunteer service during the holidays. The holidays are times of excitement, tradition and family togetherness. When our children were younger, we would make Holiday Hope Chests to donate to area homeless shelters. It was fun to watch the kids choose with care their special gifts for children they imagined opening the boxes on Christmas morning.

When the holidays end and the new year begins, remember every day is an opportunity to teach your kids to care and share, be compassionate and have an attitude of gratitude for even the smallest things in life.

Kathy Saulitis is senior vice president of programs for generationOn, an enterprise of Points of Light that helps young people change the world through volunteer service.