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Summer break is here, the kids are home, the iPads are charging, but what if you decided to UNPLUG this summer? With Fortnite and YouTube taking over the home, it’s easy to let the kids sit for hours on end, but what if you had other activities in mind? Educated Nannies is here to help you get creative with the kids this summer with some tips on how to unplug.
Be a Role Model
First things first, this goes for parents (and nannies too). Set a time each day to check your phones, rather than constantly being glued to them. Be a good role model and set the example for your children. They are always listening and watching.
Create Device Free Spaces
Create device free spaces, like the dinner table or the family room and use these moments to have conversations with the kids. Ask open-ended questions and make it into a fun game to learn more about their day. For example you could ask, “What is one thing that made you smile today?”
Explore and find adventure
Kids were born unplugged, so let them return to that. Create a scavenger hunt in your backyard, at a local hiking trail or at a park. Make a list together of items to find, write out clues, and start exploring your neighborhood.
Sometimes there is nothing better than a family game night. Break out those board games that don’t require technology like Candy Land, Monopoly, Sorry or Scrabble, and get your competition on.
Back to books
Put down those Kindles and iPads and pick up a good ol’ paper book. Start reading a chapter book as a family and keep going each night. Try books like “Charlotte’s Web,” “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “James and the Giant Peach,” or something on the summer reading list.
We understand that eliminating technology devices altogether is pretty much impossible. We suggest setting a daily limit or a certain time frame, so that your child’s screen time remains in check. This will give them a sense of independence and control, and will also give you peace of mind that your child isn’t glued to a screen.
We hope you have a wonderful summer and we can’t wait to hear about all your unplugged adventures!
By: Emily Graham, Mighty Moms, guest blogger
Getting your kids to do their homework can sometimes feel like trying to move a mountain. This can be especially true if your child is struggling or uninterested in a subject. Encouraging them to put in the effort might become a battle — one you both are determined to win. Research shows that family involvement in homework can boost classroom success for school children of all ages. So, how can you make the process more painless — for you and your kids? These three tips are a great way to start.
Tip #1: Give them their own space
Motivate your child to focus on their homework by giving them a distraction-free work space. A more productive homework space will start with comfortable furniture. Comfortable doesn’t mean too relaxed, such as lounge chairs that could lull your child into a nap, but instead ergonomic chairs and desks that will help keep them upright and alert. If you’re short on space, consider a corner desk, which maximizes small areas yet still gives your child his or her own specific study area. If you’re adding a desk to a room that already serves another purpose, be sure to address noise. Your child may be able to concentrate better with quiet, white noise or soft music. You’ll also want to focus on lighting. Natural light is best, but not always available in every room and certainly not at all times. Finally, think about using a timer to give your kid pauses between assignments or for occasional stretch and snack breaks.
Parenting Strategy: Make sure there is room for you, too! If you plan on helping with homework, reviewing finished assignments or monitoring the process, you’ll need space to be close to the action.
Tip #2: Get off the lesson plan and get outside
Helping your kids understand biology, math, science and art doesn’t mean you have to stick strictly to their homework. Know what they are currently studying and them take them out into the world to experience those lessons first hand. For example, if your child is learning about photosynthesis, why not start a family project building a greenhouse? If they are studying geology and the earth’s crust, take them out on a hike—or even just in your backyard—to go rock hunting. Together you can identify them in the field or bring them home to classify. Kids internalize knowledge, finding it more fun and relevant, when they can get involved with it. Giving them opportunities to close the books will drive up their interest in certain subjects, even ones that they struggle to enjoy.
Parenting Strategy: Get the whole family involved and even friends. Have other students and their parents join you in these adventures to boost the social reward of participating in education.
Tip #3: Make time management and organization a lesson
Homework success is about balance. Kids need to learn to find balance among homework, chores, extracurricular activities, hanging out with friends and relaxing on their own. If you can get your children to develop these time management skills now, not only can their homework grades improve, but you’ll also have set them up for success when they need to create a work-life balance as an adult. You can use calendars, chalkboards or dry erase boards to help them organize their tasks visually. Kids these days are natural technology wizards so you can also use productivity apps on your phone or tablet, as well.
Parenting Strategy: Give then choice. If there is flexibility in what assignment to work on and when, allow your child some say in their workflow. If you allow for a 15-minute break, give them options of how to spend their time and let them decide, such as watching a show, playing a video game, going for a walk, talking or texting friends, checking social media or going outside to play. Try to encourage at least one technology break.
Homework—even for subjects students enjoy—is rarely an activity that kids get excited about. Knowing they have your support can help make the process more enjoyable. While your child shouldn’t expect you to hover or do the work for them, setting them up for success means being involved in a way that encourages them to do their best work.
In 2018, teaching etiquette is still important! In fact, in today’s society where adults and children are often interacting with technology, it’s crucial to teach children about proper greetings, eye contact, saying please and thank you, and other socialization skills. As children learn to value themselves and others through treating people with kindness and respect, it helps them develop friendships and grow in self-confidence.
When to Start Teaching Manners
Parents and caregivers can create a foundation for explicitly teaching manners by first modeling them. Children learn through observation, and as you model saying please and thank you when interacting with your spouse and child she will implicitly learn manners from you. For example, if your child says, “Milk,” you can respond and say, “Mommy, may I have some milk please?” Before a baby is able to speak have monologues and speak to your child. In her blog Living Montessori Now Deb Chitwood says she would have monologues with her grandchild: “Grandma, may I please have some sweet potato?” “Thank you, Grandma.” “You’re welcome, Zoey.” This type of modeling will help children implicitly learn manners.
Teaching children to say thank you is not only valuable because it’s good manners, but it also fosters the development of and practice of gratitude. As a parent, when children complete their chores, for example, demonstrate appreciation by specifically verbalizing what they did and why you valued it. Manners is more than just using the right words, it’s also about developing empathy for others and valuing their contributions.
Role Play and Teaching Boundaries
A valuable tool for teaching children as young as two years old how to communicate their needs, includes role playing and providing tools for expressing boundaries. For example, it’s helpful for children to know what to do in situations when someone is in their personal space, touching them, pulling their clothes, or violating a personal boundary. Practice role playing with your toddler and offer helpful scripts to communicate their needs. You can teach a child to say “Will you give me some space please?” if someone is too close to him or in their personal bubble. Teach children that their body is theirs and they have the power to give consent and decide what to do with their body. They can decide to consent if they want a hug, for example, and say no if they do not want to.
Learning to Share
Waiting your turn and sharing is one of the hardest skills for toddlers to learn. One of the best ways to provide waiting time and promote sharing is through playing board games. Games naturally allow children waiting time that isn’t too long. Matching games are a great tool for teaching this skill. Children know eventually it will be their turn again after their friends have a turn.
Cell Phone etiquette:
Adults need work on this one too! Technology can make us distracted and self-absorbed.
Teach your children modern tech etiquette by modeling it yourself. When at meals put your phone on silent and don’t check it during meals. The same applies when having a conversation with someone. Don’t check your phone and text. If you absolutely must respond to a text or call, ask the person politely, “Do you mind if I answer this call?” Teaching these simple steps will benefit us all.
For some helpful books on manners check out the list below!
Books about Manners:
- Llama Llama Time To Share by
- The Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners by Stan Berenstain
Children are the future — if anyone is going to make a difference and start new ways of protecting the earth, it’s our children. It is never too early to start teaching children the importance of keeping our planet clean and learning how to reduce, reuse and recycle.
We have put together a list of some things you can do with your children to celebrate our Mother Earth on April 22.
Plant a Tree
Researchers estimate roughly 15 billion trees in the world are cut down each year, so help offset that loss by planting a tree of your own. Pick a spot in your yard where you can watch the growth of the tree. This will be a great reminder to explain why planting a tree is so important each time you check in with the tree’s growth. Depending on where the tree is planted, the shade from trees can even reduce the need for air conditioning in hotter months
Make it a family affair and volunteer to pick up trash at a nearby park or start a collection drive for recyclable items in your neighborhood. Think of this as a time to not only help the earth, but to make some new friends too!
Turn Off the Lights
Kids love a challenge, especially when you make it a fun one. Make it a game and turn off the lights for the day/night. Try conserving electrical energy by using only what you need.
Limit Water Usage
Did you know turning off the water while brushing your teeth can conserve up to eight gallons of water a day? To help save even more H20, challenge yourself to take a shorter shower (but still get clean!).
There are so many ways to craft using recycled materials. Teach your children the meaning of reduce, reuse, recycle by incorporating a DIY craft into the Earth Day celebration.
Hold a nature “scavenger hunt”
Send the kids out into the garden or park in teams to collect – or spot – various items on a list you provide. This gets them outside, while also enjoying the nature around them.
Collect Food for Composting
That apple core from lunch? Egg shells after breakfast? Don’t throw them away! Teach your kids how composting adds to soil for a future veggie or flower garden that they can help plan. Keep a sealed container under your sink and instruct your kids what is/isn’t OK to compost. A great resource for composting guidelines is the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Recycle School Papers
After going through the work with your kids and confirming that they no longer need to keep the papers they bring home, take a paper shopping bag that’s too tattered to reuse and have your child put their papers in there to recycle.
What is your family planning for Earth Day? We would love to hear your ideas. Follow us on Facebook to let us know how you will be celebrating Earth Day.
It’s Spring and what better way to enjoy it than getting outside with your children for a bit of gardening. Not only do children find gardening fun (what kid doesn’t like to get dirty?) but there are so many things they will learn and lots of benefits they will receive. And fear not, you do not need to tear up your back yard. Your garden can be as small or as extravagant as you like. You don’t even have to use your backyard at all, large pots and raised beds make wonderful areas to garden. The possibilities are truly endless, especially when it comes time to decide what to plant.
A few tips to keep in mind when gardening with children:
Engage your kids throughout the whole process. Give them their own area to plant (something manageable for their age) and let them pick out their own plants too. Do encourage some variety: include flowers, vegetables and fruits. Do you have an older child interested in cooking? Let them plant their own herb garden. Have a smaller child? Strawberries and Sunflowers are a fun choice. And for all ages, be sure to plant a pumpkin to be used on Halloween!
Gardening doesn’t have to be all hard work and no play! Think of some out of the box ideas to include with the digging, watering and weeding. Check out the link from Adventure-in-a-Box for a great way to label your plants with painted rocks. This is really fun for all ages and especially perfect for the little ones who aren’t reading yet.
After a few weeks have gone by and the kids are getting a bit bored with the waiting (this is a lesson in patience too after all) have the kids dig up some worms to put in their garden or build a small scare crow.
Turn your garden into an educational treasure trove!
The science behind all the different aspects of gardening are endless. According to PBS.org, one study showed that children who participated in gardening projects scored higher in science achievement than those who did not. Your kids will soon be asking questions like: Why are worms good for the soil? Why do plants need sun and water? You will be discussing scientific processes such as photosynthesis and soil composition in no time. Throw a little math in there for older kids. Have them get their ruler out and keep track of the plants growth over time. Which plant grew the fastest? Which plant grew the tallest? In order to answer these questions, they can keep a scientific journal to keep track of all of their measurements.
We all know sensory play is extremely beneficial for young children. Think about how far we go create hands on experiences by making homemade slime, sand/water/sensory tables, painting and books with textures. Think about all of the activities we create, plan and pay for so we can encourage their full range of fine and gross motor skills. Now think about how your garden will have all of those things and more! The textures they will come across are endless and not only will they touch, smell, hear and taste, but they will scoop, pour, sort, feel, create, lift, pick, carry, shovel, pull, dig… well, you get the idea.
This is a long term lesson as well that doesn’t have to end once you pick your bounty. Some of your produce will turn out successful and sit proudly on the dinner table or gifted to friends and neighbors. Other produce not so much and may even end up in the weed pile. Learn from this and improve upon your garden each year. Use your child’s scientific journal to keep track of what was successful and what wasn’t. Also use their journal to help plan next years garden. Their journal will not only be useful, but your child will feel proud to know that all their hard work really did pay off.
Download our garden activities for your children and get going in the garden:
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