Travel with Kids, Long Vacation 08-09-07
If you are taking a long vacation out of the country (which we just did and thus I could not update my blog -
sorry!), think of your kids and what they'll get from it. My daughter was an optimum age at 12, to go to Scandinavia - she'll
surely remember so much about the trip and the relatives. Much earlier and things would blend in and not be so easy to
sort out and remember. Museums are great for kids who are patient and interested, not so much for little ones. Amusement
parks in the middle of the trip can help re-energize a child who feels he's had nothing interesting to do.
Don't bribe with sweets as rewards - sends the wrong message about sweets - and can hurt in his gaining weight and keeping up
the habits. Don't get into power struggles with your kids - be firm and explain the expectations. They need to behave
in restaurants and with relatives, in museums and other places. When things get tense (people getting on each others'
nerves, etc.), plan a break away from each other - don't let things explode. Some people need space and can again
handle the interaction better. Allow your children to feel shy - it's natural in circumstances that are out of the
ordinary. Eventually they should come around if there is a comfortable feeling. In the case of an odd relative, or old
relative, try to get your child to empathize with his or her situation and perhaps the stigma will go away or ease.
Try to take walks with your kids and show them what they can find if they look around, and just talk (and
to give them a break away from the others - give some parent to kid alone time so she will not feel
disconnected to you). In our case, taking a little
excursion into the woods found a bounty of wild berries - how exciting for my daughter! Sometimes you can relate
stories of when you were growing up or visiting there at another time.
Try to figure out some travel games or activities for when on a plane or in a car or train - those are quite
boring times for kids - sitting still is difficult for long periods of time. Bring the iPods, the hand held games,
a small toy, a doll or better yet a puppet so you can help entertain your child. Bring books and even magazines with
There is so much you can do to help your
child have a good trip, which will, in turn, help you have a good trip as well!
Shop at The Scholastic Store for your kidís favorite Books & Toys!
Safe Internet 6-06-07
These days with the Internet getting quite raunchy and with
predators stalking kids on the 'net, we all have to step in and take more control of our kids' usage and time spent on
the Internet. Get on the Internet with your kids - check the sites they get on. There are sites in which kids interact
together and with each other, such as Club Penguin, in which it is pretty harmless and moderated. No one is allowed to
ask certain types of information questions, and no one is allowed to get out of line. Penguins report each other for bad behavior,
and blocks are set up almost instantaneously when there is a problem. Make sure of the ground rules at any club sites -
some for older kids may be totally inappropriate.
Talk to your kids about chat rooms - no giving out any specific information about them. No age, no male or female,
no city or address. No phone number. No names at all - first or last. No description - not hair style or color, eye color,
height, weight or anything. Not even pretending to be someone else!
You might want to restrict all chatting if you can't be sure your child is following your rules.
You should place restrictions on websites, on emails, on chat rooms, and anything else your child might get into while
you are not watching. Limit those things you have not ok'd. If your child starts getting inappropriate emails, cancel that email
address and start a new one.
If your child acts evasive about her Internet activity, start monitoring it while she's on it, and restrict her
from getting on at all while you are not there. Kids do need to feel a certain amount of privacy in talking
to friends, but it should not relate in the same way to strangers.
Stress the importance of NEVER setting up a meeting with anyone met off the Internet. It could be a predator
pretending to be a trusted child of similar age. By the time he figures that out, it could be too late.
Play it safe and both restrict what your child can do on the Internet, and monitor the activity they do have - look
at where they have been to verify in your mind that it is safe.
Kids' Furniture 6-02-07
When choosing furniture for your kids, find pieces that are sturdy and
will last awhile. Get solid furniture that will take some abuse well. Kids are hard on furniture, face it. No matter how
much you think they'll take good care of it, it will get drawn on, dinged up, spilled upon, etc. Find a line of furniture that
can clean up easily and withstand abuse. Great furniture for kids are those which can stack and change around - my daughter
has a Muure Me set that can transform into bunk beds or single beds, drawers and cabinets can be pushed close or far from each other
with a desktop over them. There are bookshelves which can stack or stand alone, or stand on the end of the
drawers and desk. This way she can rearrange her room as often as she wants, and without having to buy new furniture.
Figure out what your child needs - single or bunk bed, twin or double or queen. A desk to do homework on? Book shelves?
Drawers for clothes and other things? A toy chest? Other storage units? Let the needs of your child tell you the best pieces to
buy. If he can't use what is in his room, what good is it to him?
Find durable, safe kids' furniture here.
PoshTots - "The Most Extraordinary
Children's Furnishings in the World."
Problems with Reading? 5-28-07
If your child doesn't seem to learn or read like other
kids, you might want to watch him or her more carefully - there might be a learning struggle. Perhaps it's only that the teacher
doesn't present things in a way your child picks up on - try explaining it to him at home, in a different way. Don't let your child
get stressed out - keep him calm, to know that you aren't expecting him to get it immediately or perfectly. Try to find his
strengths and let him feel good about those.
If he truly has problems learning or reading at the same level as the other kids on his class, he might have a
cognitive skill weakness - or AADD/ADHD -
or some other problem that keeps him from learning easily. You should have him tested because it's rarely a "phase" that your child
will outgrow - learning difficulties do not tend to go away.
See more learning tips at Teach Daily and see
Early Reading Tactics
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Is Your Child Stressed Out? 5-08-07
If your child tends to get stressed out - having too
much homework, not understanding homework, trying to figure out how to do something in a sport or in playing an instrument,
and he or she gets frustrated or moody or has a tantrum, it can mean stress is affecting your child. Try to help - don't
"push" any further or threaten. The child is either having a "block" or is not talented enough to do what is asked of
him. Don't let him feel you are disappointed in him, or that you are punishing him.
If the amount of homework is too much or too hard, talk to the teachers and find out why there is so much. See
if it can be lessened, or if the teacher can give some personal attention to help your child understand. Some
techniques don't work for all children - a different strategy may be needed. If your child is heavily involved in
other activities, don't expect less homework in order to accommodate all his extra-curricular activities. In that
case, please try to reschedule your child so he gets enough time for school. If the activity is vital in your eyes, then
look into home schooling - the school system can't accommodate special needs of all students.
If she is trying to learn a new technique - perhaps an axel in figure skating, or a new song in band, and is having
trouble - assure your child these things take time and there is no pressure on her. If others are pushing her, perhaps
you should tell them to back off. Have the coaches or teachers take the pressure off - perhaps she need not do this
concert or competition this time. Sometimes a child just needs a break from an activity. Or to know others have the
same problems - that she is not alone.
Assure your child that you are happy and proud of her no matter what, as long as she does her best that she can,
whatever that is. Make sure she knows that as long as she tries and puts out effort, it is ok. Let her know you don't
expect 100% in grades, lower is ok and nothing to be ashamed of if she tried. She need not skate a clean program - maybe she peaked
the day before - it might not be able to be done again. It takes years of muscle memory for a sport move to be executed
the same way without fault. Stress can make everything a mess in sports - everyone has a bad day at some point.
Just don't add to the stress. Help your child in any way that you can that will help. Take the pressure off of her. Let her
know you are proud no matter what (as long as she is doing her best to try, and not doing bad things on purpose). Let him
know perfection is not required. Sometimes it's ok to just be "good enough."
Thinking About Homeschooling? See AOP's Educational Options!
Kid's Backpacks 3-23-07
Check your child's backpack weight when she is carrying books and
other things in it. It should not weigh more than 10-15% of the child's own weight - a 60 pound child should have a backpack
weighing 9 pounds or less. This may become more difficult as the child gets older, as in middle school or even 5th grade.
Help the child by perhaps getting a rolling backpack if the school allows, or perhaps even purchasing a set of textbooks
to leave at home, not needing to go back and forth daily. Make sure your child knows how to carry the backpack properly -
evenly distributed weight across the shoulders, and if there is a waist strap, use it to put more weight onto the hips
(especially important for those sling-type packs *not good* which are getting popular - the weight is resting all on one shoulder,
stressing the back). Don't allow your child to stress out his back so early. Back problems haunt people for the rest of
their lives. Teach your child to pack the heaviest items on the bottom of the back, and closest to the back, with
lighter things on top. Get a backpack with padding along the back. Also make sure the child keeps pencils and all sharp
objects in a pencil bag, to prevent getting stabbed by
the pointy objects when looking for something in the pack. Tell your child not to throw the pack, either - it can torque
the back with the pull of weight. Teach your child to carry a textbook or two in his hands, rather then stuffing too much
into the backpack. Help your child to check her backpack - perhaps there are things that are not necessary to be in the
backpack, or could be left at school.
Quality Backpacks Just Right for Your Child:
Listen to Your Children 03-13-07
Try to engage your child in conversation by asking questions, by encouraging, and not by judging. Listen to what is said, and
look your child in the eye to show her you are paying attention. Kids can tell if you are interested or just faking it - they
have valuable things to say if listened to. You might find out some things you should be aware of. My daughter is so
open with me about almost everything - she will tell me if someone is making poor choices at school and what she thinks
of it. She tells me what she thinks of her teachers and what they say - daily. She knows I listen, I pay attention, I remember,
and she can trust me not to go around telling other people unless she wants me to. She is possibly the exception to
the rule, but I believe if you take time to start it early enough, you can have the same relationship with your child.
By the way - it is no longer true that kids blow off and ignore what is told to them - if you want to talk about early
sex, or about drugs, or about smoking, etc. - talk about it with your child - he'll listen. It may not seem like it
at the moment, but it sinks it to process through later. A decade or so ago, it was believed that kids don't listen, but
these days, it's been proven that they do. They do think what you say is valuable. So make it worth listening to.
When to Get Your Child a Cell Phone? 03-06-07
I let my daughter use my cell phone for awhile starting in about 4th grade - when she went off on some play date or
something, so she could call me at home and let me know when to get her, etc. At the end of 5th grade, I let her keep
the phone, and put her own message on it. I got a different cell phone. Her call phone is a pay as you go phone, with and
reloadable limited funds.
She doesn't use it unless she needs to - after our two blizzards, there is no second lane in the pick-up loop,
so she calls me on my cellphone and tells me where to best pick her up according to the backed up traffic at the school. She
uses the land line phone at home to call friends on. She knows her minutes are limited so she doesn't waste them.
If she uses her minutes too fast, she'll have to pay for more minutes herself, and that's not how she wants to spend her money.
I'm proud of how responsible she is.
She has to keep it off at school, but turns it on when she leaves school.
A cell phone for your child - it's your decision. But teach your child to be responsible. A pay as you go account is great -
buy 15 or 20 minutes on a card - tell her she has 1, 2 or 3 months to keep it going or she will be buying her own time. The
first time the phone runs out of time - he'll hopefully figure out how to use it more wisely.
We have guidelines on her usage, but she has been so responsible about it - I have no worries.
The one thing that makes me glad she has a phone is the situation in Bailey (about 40 minutes from here) last semester,
when kids were able to call parents using their restricted cellphones. I like to know that she can call me when she needs
me or needs to tell me something.
Find the Right Cell Phone Here.
Help Your Kids With Learning 02-20-07
Your child will need some support from you in order to study and get homework done. Make sure to
provide a good environment for your child - every kid seems to need a way to study - not everyone is the same.
The child may need quiet, may need a desk, may need music, may need snacks or breaks - see what helps your
child to study his best. Keep a specific time and area set aside for her daily homework studies, and make sure
she has all the school supplies as she needs - plus, make sure she always has her supplies at school - replenish as
For your part - ask her to tell you about her day in school - what she did in classes,
what she is studying, and what homework she has (and how much). Help her with explaining her homework - don't
ever just "do" it for her. Keep track of how long the homework takes, and
check with her teachers to see if this is normal - perhaps teachers need to adjust the amount of homework, or
perhaps she needs extra help in a subject. Go through her papers and grades regularly - be supportive and
encouraging. Communicate with the teachers if your child is having struggles - teachers don't always pick up on
this. Try not to pressure her - if she wants to do well, she pressures herself. Keep things in perspective and
allow fun in her life. If she is not interested in school - you will have to figure out how she can get motivated.
Talk to the teachers and see if you can come up with a plan. Perhaps your child only learns in certain ways -
some are spacial thinkers, some are hands-on learners, some think in quirky ways to make sense of what they learn. It
may just need an adjustment to how things are taught.
More Learning Tools
Personal Style 02-08-07
Kids start very young to assert their styles - toddlers right about or after the "I want" stage. They want to
dress their own way, figure out thier own hair, and start experimenting with style. If he is secure in his own self,
he will likley not follow the same styles as his friends - just wear what he likes. Other kids will try to wear the same
clothing styles as their friends wear. This pattern lasts for many years - even adults tend to be like one or the other.
If the choice doesn't hurt anything, there is no harm in letting your child have his way (unless you have to
go to the store and buy an outfit to please him - that may be going too far). Maybe she wants to wear a short-sleeve shirt in the
winter - you can reason all you want but a determined child only knows what she wants. Let her wear the short sleeved shirt,
but send her on her way with a sweater or hoodie that she can wear when she gets cold - she'll figure it out after a little while,
unless she has Nordic blood in her - maybe she doesn't get cold easily.
If you aren't into the revealing styles, don't wear them in front of your child. Don't let her have heroes and role
models who dress that way. Teach her that she is not to wear such clothes now, and for as long as you tell her - there are
many very cool styles that provide coverage. Don't let her start young (even if it looks "cute" when little) - she'll
be confused later and continue to think those styles are normal and cute.
Kids' & Teens' Clothing & Fashions - Great Styles!
Child Safety 02-02-07
Child safety - so much to think about. Teach your child her full name, address and phone number, plus her mommy's and daddy's
names. Then teach her not to give any of that information to any strangers, for any reason. Ok for teachers and school office,
or a policeman (you just have to hope she encounters no impostors). Keep the photos in a safe place.
Early on, get her photographed, and include any particular features she has (birth marks, scars, defects,
strong features, etc.). Take new photographs frequently - every 6 months at a minimum. List all of these attributes and
features so you can list it for law enforcement if ever needed. Better to be safe than sorry - be ready before anything
can happen. Keep these prints in a safe place.
Get to a police station and get her fingerprinted - call prior to going to see if there is a charge and also where to
go. Don't let it traumatize her - perhaps you can get fingerprints at the same time and pretend it's pretty cool.
When you label her things for school, as you are told to do for clothes and jackets, etc., don't make it
obvious on the outside (so a stranger won't see her name and call her over as if he should be familiar), and don't put
all information on it. Label as K. Smith, or Katy S. (use a formal name if she goes by a nickname, or the other way
around), and write a teacher's name & grade & school on it - not your home phone number or address.
Teach safety rules to your child - never talk to strangers, bolt and scream when a stranger tries to entice her into a car,
don't wander off away from you in a store or mall, etc.
Always pay attention to the clothes your child is wearing on each day -
it will make it easier to find him if he gets lost in a store, or tried to walk home from school - you and police and neighbors can
spot him more easily.
For older kids, teach them about self-defense tactics. Arm her with a cell phone, and perhaps a personal alarm or pepper
spray (don't send pepper spray to school or other functions that don't allow it)
More safety tips and safety products.
Looking for a cell phone?
Be a Good Role Model 01-25-07
If you expect certain behaviors or eating habits, or manners, etc., from your kids, you'll need to show them how
you follow the same rules. You'll have to be a good role model for your children. Who else do they look up to,
to learn what they need from life? Not only will it help guide your kids in the right directions, but it will make
you a better person, as well. If you watch your language at home, it will help you watch it at work. If you eat
healthy in front of your kids, it will do you good. If you exercise with your kids, it will help your health. If you
don't smoke, it will help you and your children. If you use good manners, it will be easier for you to have good manners
at work and at dinner engagements. Be a good model for your kids - you can't expect them to do one thing when all they
see is something else.
Learn by Repetition 01-12-07
Kids learn by repetition - they need to practice things over and over to "get it" - math problems, sports tricks and
abilities, music, etc. When helping your child study or practice, remind her the practice makes perfect and rarely
is someone good at a skill when first starting out. The skill comes from a lot of practice and repetition.
If your child has a spelling test, have him look over the list for a few minutes, and then quiz him. If he gets it wrong,
tell him and let him know what is correct, plus any tips you may have to help him remember the intricacy of the spelling
of the word (perhaps an alphabetical sequence of letters, or a good phrase with the words using the first letter of the
letters he needs). The only way one learns to spell is to repeat and repeat. Some kids learn better by writing, some by
just saying it or visualizing. Test your child both ways until you figure out what works best.
A sport ability - help your child practice it, over and over. Maybe you need to "spot" him, or maybe you need to
ride a bike with her, or maybe she needs to learn an ice skating trick, and just wants you on the rink with her to remind her to
practice and tell her what to adjust to get it right. Throw the ball with him or kick it, depending the type of sport - well, you
get the idea by now.
Repeat and practice - and your child will "get it."
Watch Your Child's Weight 01-08-07
According to the news, girls from 9-12, in general, are gaining too much weight - don't let your child eat a lot of sweets or
just lots of food unless her metabolism can support it and she looks ok. Call your doctor to find out if she is in the proper
weight range for her size and age. Make sure she exercises more - even running around the yard or walking the dog - keep her
active. Ride bikes with her and help her be active - sneak it in as fun. If she gets overweight at this age, it can easily
progress the trend into her adult. The same thing applies to boys - they should not be allowed to get overweight, either.
In talking to your daughter, however, be careful not to push the "thin" look because that is also not healthy. There is a
middle range that is good and proper - just keep an eye on her and feed her foods with more good fuel - fruits, vegetables,
grains. Get away from the junk snacks and fast foods.
Keep Shoes Tied 12-27-06
Kids' shoes are always untied, it seems. Even when you double tie them, they end up untied. Shoes then get loose, fall off,
or become a tripping hazard. For some shoes, the shoelaces are too slippery - you might just need to replace the
laces and all will be fine. You can also replace them with the stretchy coiling laces, that will just wind up once
tightened, staying out of the way. Another trick you can use is to place a cute clip - a hairclip, a cute paper clip, a
fun decorative clip - on the knot to hold it together. It's also a fun way to decorate a shoe!
Use Restraint When Giving Gifts 12-14-06
Don't automatically go shopping for everything a child asks for - and get something of your choice for at least one of the presents.
Children need to learn they can't have everything. They need to respect that the season is about giving, not getting. They
need to learn to be giving and generous themselves. Perhaps if they choose their own gifts to give, or make something with their
own hands that will be from the heart, they will enjoy the season more - or at least we can hope so.
Why don't you and your children go volunteer somewhere - bell ringing, soup kitchen for the poor, helping out at a church. Go
see a "Living Nativity" performance and remember what Christmas means. Be a servant to someone less fortunate - remember that
Jesus was a servant king. "But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first." Matthew 19:30
Make Your Own Gift Ideas and Supplies can be found here.
Baby Language 12-06-06
I watched the Oprah Show last month, and saw an amazing guest who had a gift - and part of her gift is the
ability to hear and detect noises babies make. With her incredible sense of memory and ability to figure things out,
she noticed a pattern with certain sounds babies make - universally in any language or country. If you have a new baby,
you should check this language out. There apparently is a different language for babies in the three months, and then they
graduate to other needs and wants. It's amazing. Here are the sounds - as the initial sounds the baby
starts making (if ignored, the noises get more frantic and the baby cries) and their meanings as told on Oprah:
"neh" means hungry
"owh" means sleepy
"heh" means discomfort (perhaps diaper needs changing, or too hot or cold or wet)
"eair" or "eaah" means lower gas
"eh" means "I need a burp"
The Dunstan Baby Language DVD is available at