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For many parents spring cleaning doesn’t just happen in Spring, it hits during the month of August just before the start of the new school year. The lazy days of summer all of a sudden turn into panic as the upcoming school year looms around the corner. In an attempt to calm oneself and get organized, you can make lists of the ‘to do’s’, ‘to buy’ and the ‘to go through’. These lists may work or have quite the opposite effect and merely served as reminder that you are anything, but calm and organized. What’s needed is a step back and a look at the big picture. Back to school can be a fresh start and you want to start it with your best foot forward. In order to do this turn those lists into three concepts. Discard, organize and mindfully purchase.
Discard: This is a great time to organize closets, dressers, toys, old school work and art! Go through all your child’s clothes and shoes and throw out any that they have worn out. Did your kids outgrow any clothes or shoes before they were worn out? If they are only gently used, don’t forget to donate! This is a great time to go through toys as well. Kids get busy when school starts with homework and after school activities. They will naturally have less time to play with all their toys so donate any toys they are no longer interested in. They probably won’t even notice!
Many parents keep everything their child brings home from school. It just seems to precious to immediately toss in the recycling! But after a year of gathering and watching your child’s school work grow into a mini volcano; it’s time to sit down and figure out what is their best and toss the rest.
Organize: Make way for any new school clothes. Create space for all the goodies your child brings home from school. Create a space for important school documents that need parents attention and response. Have a designated spot for your child to keep their homework, close to pencils and supplies needed to complete it. And last but not least, a spot to put all of the school work and fun art they bring home. Having a place for all of these important school items not only keeps your house clutter free, it helps prevent lost work and helps show your child just how important school is.
Archive and store your child’s best work, art and accomplishments. You can keep it simple with a 3 ring binder. It’s easy to pull off the shelf and not only you will enjoy looking through it but your child will as well.
Organize your child’s clothing. Make it easy for them on busy school mornings to find exactly what they are looking for. Separate t-shirts, tank tops and long sleeves. Have them help you so they remember where everything is.
Will your child have any after school sports or extracurricular activities? If so, figure out before they start where their equipment will be placed before they get into a habit of throwing it on the couch when they walk in the house.
Mindfully purchase: One way to create less clutter and less items to throw out is to be thoughtful about what you buy in the first place.
After discarding and organizing your child’s clothing it is easy to take a glance and figure out what they really need for back to school. They might not need everything.
Think about buying items that will last longer than just one school year, even if that means they are a bit more expensive. Replace plastic disposable baggies with reusable items such as stainless steel or durable plastic. This won’t just save you money, but will be a good lesson for your child about helping the environment. Perhaps your child, like many, would love to get a backpack featuring their favorite character. Often those backpacks last only one year, if that. Compromise with a character lunch box or binder. Your child will be happy and may not complain when you urge them to get a better quality backpack in a favorite color that will last a couple of years.
Remember to think of back to school as a fresh start for you and your child. After discarding and organizing it should be easier to see exactly what you need and more importantly, what isn’t needed. So take a breath of fresh air, discard, organize and mindfully purchase.
*Photo credit: Polkadotchair.com
In light of the recent violence that has occurred both nationally and internationally, we feel it is necessary to start teaching children about diversity at an early age. Racism and discrimination are very real parts of our society. Their effects, like a malignant tumor, can spread and ruin a body that was created to function harmoniously with itself. Just like a doctor would remove a malignant tumor, we have to make a conscious effort to remove the cancer of racism and discrimination that has plagued our world. The removal process begins in our homes. As parents we have the power to shape the minds of our children. In a world that is steadily becoming a more global society, it is our great responsibility to instill in them ideals about love and inclusion.
Below are a few ways we can encourage children to understand, appreciate, and embrace diversity:
Be an example of love and acceptance for children. Each day we have opportunities to illustrate what it looks like to be kind to others. Start off simple by holding the door for someone, complimenting another person, or helping someone in need. We have opportunities to show our children what real friendship looks like by making friends with people who are different than we are. Modeling loving and inclusive behaviors for our children is key to breaking down the walls that separate us.
Refuse to be a part of the problem. Perpetuating stereotypes, telling hurtful jokes about others, and saying unkind things about people who are different than we are is unacceptable. Again, our children are listening to what we say and watching what we do. Under no circumstance should they hear us make discriminatory comments or see us behave in a way that excludes others who are different.
Encourage open-ended conversations. Don’t discourage children from talking about differences. Use the discussions as opportunities “to talk about diversity and model attitudes of openness and inclusiveness.”** For example, if your child stares at a person and points out a physical deformity he or she has, sit down with your child and acknowledge the difference. Teach your child that differences are what make us unique and beautiful. Remind your child that it is unkind to stare, point, and say potentially hurtful things about others. We should love all people, even if they are different than we are. Love doesn’t want to hurt someone else or make them feel bad about who they are. Love is kindness.
Step outside of your comfort zone. Exposure is paramount. Attend cultural events in your community. Talk positively with your children about the foods, customs, religions, and music of different cultures. Discuss current events in the media to explain how societies break down when people exclude or mistreat others because of ethnic, gender, and religious differences. Encourage your child to make friends with people of different backgrounds—and not just the type of friends they only play with on the playground at school, but the type they actually spend time with and invite to be a part of your lives.
Speak up. If you hear someone say unkind things about or mistreat people of different backgrounds, don’t be silent. Your silence speaks volumes and your children are watching. Don’t be afraid to denounce injustice. Address discrimination even if it means stirring things up in your own circle of friends.
Now, more than ever before, we have a responsibility to teach our children the importance of respecting people of different ethnic, social, religious, and economic backgrounds. In our global society, there is no place for racism or discrimination, but there is always room for love and inclusion.
**Bright Horizons – Teaching Preschoolers to Live in a Diverse World
Photo Credit: theriskyshift.com
Father’s Day is right around the corner! This year we have a few activities, craft ideas, and Father’s Day gifts to share with your kids that are sure to make dad feel “like a million bucks” on his special day.
Write a poem for dad expressing exactly why you love and appreciate him. Be creative. It can rhyme, but it doesn’t have to. You can even use the letters of his name to start off each line.
Make a handmade card for dad. We found this beauty on http://fathersday-2015.com/fathers-day-crafts-for-preschool-babies-2-year-olds/
Go for a walk (or hike) with dad. While you’re spending quality time together, ask him questions about his childhood. Or better yet, make it a game—50 Silly Questions and Answers in 50 minutes. Take turns asking each other silly questions and see who can come up with the silliest answers.
Tell dad he’s the best but be sure to frame it so he feels special every day. We think this idea from http://paintedconfetti.com/13-easy-fathers-day-gift-ideas/ is super cute.
Arrange a special “date” for you and dad. Today it’s all about him (but of course you get to have fun too). Make dad breakfast, take him to see a movie, or have a special dance party where he is the guest of honor.
Create your own do-it-yourself board book. This is great way to express to dad all the reasons why you love him. Using your favorite pictures of the two of you spending time together will really make dad’s day. Check out http://heartofdeborah.com/diy-fathers-day-kids-book.html for details about how to put it all together.
No matter what you choose to do for or with your dad on Father’s Day, remember that he’s just as happy to be your dad as you are to be his child. Give him lots of hugs and don’t hold back on the compliments.
Featured Image courtesy of coronadotimes.com
By the Anonymous Raiser
The sequence of Creation is as follows: Be+Do= Have or Being leads to Doing which produces Having. For example, I decide to be the creator of a sandwich, I take out the bread and stack my desired ingredients doing the sequence that produces the sandwich, then I have a sandwich.
For many young people this natural flow has been altered in the primacy of Having leading them to be unskilled at Doing and without a personal foundational understanding of who they are to themselves and how to be a participant in the world of their daily lives.
This short circuit on the creation sequence affects their ability to take ownership of and function effectively in their own lives to their detriment. Sticking with my sandwich metaphor, it’s as if , actually quite literally as well, our young people are often given sandwiches. Appearing from out of nowhere, handed to them in many if not all aspects of their lives, they come as completed and are therefore expected.
Of course, if one is curious and interested one may easily reverse engineer said sandwich. We can see the teens who are innately inspired to learn self-empowered through these types of discoveries and relative commitment to their own continued progress. But what about the far larger majority of society’s teens? With the hormonal changes that naturally make the transition into adulthood tough, coupled with the amount of attention that is lost in investment in social media. Many of our teens simply do not have the attention to be inspired. This is actually a matter of some gravity.
Why would those who appreciate the fact of sandwiches appearing to them want to learn how to make sandwiches? This can be the seed of Entitlement that we have recently seen a rise in culture-wide. Natural consequences are experiential proof a person can learn from. Words in truth, do not teach. We can set up win win situations when we give our teenagers clear definitions of what they are accountable for and keep them so. This is exercised in the integrity of our own agreement to them. We have to recontextualize the results of breaking these agreements.
The responsibility is upon us as raisers, to vet all possible outcomes so that none get in the way of the young person’s highest good. In this way, they can be comfortable experiencing how to learn from mistakes and we can be comfortable watching them do so.
When we get uncomfortable with their emotional or hormonal displays enough to concede or rescind, then we are not doing our part and in effect we are showing them that they have our permission to sell themselves short . There has been a long momentum in this planet-wide. Many times it has been easier to give them their sandwich or let them off the hook than to endure the violence they can perpetrate, that was correct and you should feel good about learning how that is effective in it’s own way and acknowledge when that choice has run it’s course for you. Acknowledge that you are capable of new levels of empowerment.Life by nature is not a manipulative phenomenon. And force is only ever used by those who have forgotten their own power.
All parents wants to give their children the best life they can provide- that is natural. Great innovations are now emerging in our systems on this planet and I applaud your courage and your raising activity. Cherish your love for the teenagers of this world as a victory and a gift to us all. In that alone if for nothing else, you are unmistakably fierce.
Now that much is certain. x
*Picture credit to Smiles and Sundays: Teenagers: The Entitled Generation?
Bullying has morphed into something more ominous than it was when we were growing up. Gone are the days when it only occurred face-to-face during school hours or while playing outside in the neighborhood after school. Now, thanks to electronic devices and social media, bullying can happen anywhere 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. A child sitting alone in his or her room can log on to social media and realize that he or she is the target of the latest joke.
Sadly, cyberbullying is affecting more and more of our children each year. According to dosomething.org, nearly 43% of teens have been bullied online and 25% of those kids say it has happened to them more than once. “Mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles” are all examples of cyberbullying (stopbullying.org). Because of its far reach, it’s almost impossible for our children to escape the effects of cyberbullying—whether they themselves are the bully, the bullied, or the observer. The good news is that we as parents and caregivers can do something to stop it.
Communicate openly and honestly about bullying with your children. Explain to them that writing or posting things that are hurtful or unkind can have lasting negative effects. The saying about sticks and stones simply isn’t true. A broken bone hurts for a while, but in time it heals. The damage caused by words, however, is often more difficult to erase. Remind your children of the importance of treating others the way they want to be treated. That sometimes means resisting the urge to talk about someone in a hurtful way or laugh along with someone else who has.
Talk with your children about permanence of what they write and post. “Deleting inappropriate or harassing messages texts, and pictures is extremely difficult once they have been posted or sent.” So it’s best not to post or send them.
Regularly monitor your child’s use of electronics. Be mindful of what your children are doing online and be sure to establish clear rules about their use of technology. It’s also a great idea to set parental controls to help them stay away from sites they may not be mature enough to use. You should know your children’s passwords to their phones and every form of social media you allow them to use. Explain to your children that as their parent one of your primary responsibilities is to make sure they are protected. Let them know that you will randomly monitor their text messages and other online communication to make sure that both your children and those they interact with are behaving appropriately and responsibly.
Ask a trusted friend or relative to be an extra set of eyes for you. Ask them to “follow” your children’s social media pages and let you know if they see anything questionable that may need addressing.
Intervene immediately. If you notice that your child is being cyberbullied, pause for a moment to see if your child is able to work things out with their peers. However, don’t assume he or she can work it out alone. Be sure your child feels (and is) safe by having a conversation with him or her. If you notice that your child is being physically threatened, don’t assume the threats are empty words. Inform school administrators about what you have seen and partner with them to stop it from happening. In addition to reporting the threats to school administrators, in need be report them to law enforcement as well. Again, protecting your child’s physical and emotional well-being is one of your primary roles as a parent.
If you find out that your child is the bully, don’t ignore the issue. Talk with him or her about what you have seen and the lasting effects their behavior can have. Talk with them about your concerns and apply firm consequences to discourage them from saying or posting hurtful things in the future.
If your child is neither the bully nor the one being bullied, but you discover that they have laughed at unkind things said by a bully, talk about it. Let your child know that they have a responsibility to help end inappropriate and hurtful behavior. Instigating is still participating. Provide your child with alternatives. For example, he or she can discourage the bully from being unkind (if they are friends) or your child can anonymously tell school officials when they see that someone has been bullied.
Cyberbullying is a very real issue. As parents and caregivers we play a vital role in stopping it. One key thing to remember is that our children are watching us. We are role models to our children and others. They are paying attention to the unkind memes we repost and the gossip we share with our friends. They pay attention to the things we laugh about and they hear the unkind things we say about others. Let’s be a good example for our children. They are depending on us. Let’s commit to talk, post, email, and text responsibly!
For additional information about online safety and cyberbullying, check out these great resources:
For Young Children: http://www.pacerkidsagainstbullying.org/kab/what-is-bullying/carmens-advice/
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