The world was a lot simpler BC – Before Children. Remember when you could leave things around the house without worrying little people would eat it or injure themselves or others with it. Once the kids come along suddenly everything becomes a consideration for their safety, and seen in a different light. Of course, we wouldn’t give them up for the world so we create spaces in our homes and lives where we can be sure they are safe. One of the most important areas has to be a safe, fun and spacious play area. Pergolas or other shaded areas are perfect. Being close to the house you can keep an eye on the kids and this also provides shelter from the elements.
Designate a Kids Area
One of the issues with regards to kids playing is a play area, if it isn’t given a specific defined area can quickly take over the whole house. While you may start off with a kids only area soon you find toys, bikes, lego pieces and discarded cups everywhere! It is important for the back garden to be a space the entire family can enjoy, which is why designating a kid’s area is essential. Make sure the kids understand that in their designated area they can play to their hearts content and leave things lying around, but any toys taken outside the area must be put back in their place as soon as they’ve finished.
Visibility and Safety
Another benefit of having a kid’s play area is you can control the environment. Make sure the area is visible from the house without too much effort, and easily accessible if you need to step in. It’s also a good idea to make sure pavers or grass are kept neat and maintained to prevent too many accidents. Perhaps try and have the area with a soft surface, as you won’t be able to convince the kids to slow down!
In our harsh New Zealand sun, it’s vitally important to make sure kids are protected from sunburn. As little as ten minutes in direct sunlight during a hot day can cause damage to delicate child skin, and with studies showing links between childhood sun burn and adult skin cancer, you can never be too careful. Creating a shaded space is one of the best ways to ensure that your children stay safe and cool.
Pergolas, louvres and shade sails are available from Auckland Pergolas Patios and Carports. Ph 09 281 4623 – www.appcltd.co.nz
There are just so many fun things you can do with the family but sometimes you just need a memory jogger when you are wondering what to get up to next so here's just a few suggestions of free things you can get up to ...
Head out on a Bike Ride - Get the bikes out and go for a family ride. Whether just a quick lap around the block or trip to the park or dairy with an icecream stop can be fun. If you're looking for a longer adventure check your local council website which should provide local cycle tracks and details
Play Charades or Board Games - Play a few shorter board games or one long one. Add competition by having prizes for the winners! If you play charades add in some personalised ones - make one up each and get the others to act out - there are plenty of charade ideas on the internet too if you get stuck for ideas.
Have a movie day or night - Don't just pick the movies together but prepare together. Pop the popcorn, make up lolly bags, rearrange the room with pillows and cushions, perhaps issue tickets for the kids and set the stage for a fun family time.
Visit the museum - If you have a large museum near you pick one department to visit. Maybe make it into a game and pick 2-3 things each you can ask the others questions on when you get home just to see if they saw the same things as you on your trip!
Spend the evening Star Gazing - Head out after dark, if you don't have a telescope take a pair of binoculars. Have a chart of the constellations and see how many you can see. See if you can see different shapes in the stars. If you are in your garden set up a picnic with hot chocolate and a goodie tray or if you are heading out fill the flask. Whatever you do it's bound to be both educational and loads of fun
Cook Together - Pick a course each and make your dishes as a group. Alternatively split into teams and compete in your cooking see what comes out best or most tasty - don't argue though and enjoy a sumptuous and perhaps unusual meal at the end!
These are just a few suggestions. Lots more in another post soon ...
Sometimes your kids come home and ask you questions that you’d love to have a good logical and comprehensive answer to. For those who are more arts minded this may well be “why should I study science?” Hmmm, good question
Soooo, science helps us to learn and understand the chemical, biological, technical and physical world around us. Scientific studies are constantly changing with advances in technology and through research and development. Science can be helpful in a whole range of study areas. To understand and know how things work has its basis in history. Understanding requires writing reports on findings and studying names and elements which all require at least adequate English skills and of course, there are often formulas and calculations in science requiring an understanding of maths.
The study of science helps in the development of skills for planning and conducting investigations, for gathering information, team work and evaluation of findings based on that work. Science gives our children skills to attempt to find solutions to problems. It develops confidence and knowledge to become better informed.
Everybody, even the art orientated people, need to be able to think scientifically in order to be able to form opinions about certain aspects within their lives and influence their fundamental wellbeing. The study of science forces students to spend time considering the world around them and how it works. As an adult, even if you didn’t enjoy science, or fully understand some of the things you learned you will discover that, often sub-consciously, you refer to and react with scientific basis in your responses or actions.
Science fosters thinking and creation skills. Often posed with a problem your mind seeks a solution. Children are naturally inquisitive and the discovery of solutions to problems gives them that “WOW” moment. All these discoveries are science based. Without realising it our lives are dictated and influenced by science every day – products we use, food we eat, reactions we have.
So next time you, or your child, wonder the value of those sometimes tedious classes and endless formulas or dissections stop and realise that science is quite simply an important element in personal development and understanding creating each and every one of us as a whole.
Firstly there is a deep misunderstanding regarding the art of talking. Whether children or adults we shouldn’t talk “to” people, we should talk “with” people and it should always be a two way communication.
Here are a few tips on ways you can talk with your children to ensure that they listen to you and you can ensure you have a clear understanding of each other.
When … Then, not if – When you clear your plate then we can watch TV. This implies that it is not an option. If you use the word “if” you are suggesting there is a choice in the matter.
Be Brief – If you ramble on you’ll find your children switch off. Don’t try and justify what you are saying, often the child isn’t interested. Put your main directive in your opening sentence and make it clear
Give Notice – We’re heading out soon, please put your toys away or say goodbye to Grandma
If the Answer is negative try to offer preferred alterntives – Don’t start with “No” – say “You can’t eat chocolate now but how about a yummy banana”
Get on your Child’s level – When offering specific directions get to your child’s level and have eye to eye contact. Make this authoritative but not commanding
Don’t forget your please and thank you – It doesn’t matter how old your child is, they will learn by example and you need to remember your mannersso they become an automatic response for your child also
You’d better – Is not a good option. Even if the action is imperative to be done drive your message from you’re point of view, eg “I’d like you to please …” or “I need you to …”
Overcoming difficulties – When you know there is going to be some form of defence or negative response to your request try offering something your child can’t refuse. “Clear the table so you can go back on your computer”
Getting your child to talk – Sometimes all you seem to get is yes and no answers. Don’t make these an option. Instead of “Did you have fun at Molly’s house today?” try asking “What did you and Molly do today?”
Positive directions – If offering directions don’t use short sharp commands, use “I want” or if a little less authority is required use “I would like”, eg “I want you to give that to your sister now” as opposed to “Give that to your sister now”
Before you can enforce discipline and rules for your toddler you need to ensure there is a healthy relationship between you. Knowing and understanding your particular child can make it that bit easier to discipline. Once your child trusts you to meet their needs, they will trust you to set the limits.
The following gives some ways for toddler discipline:
This is one of the most common toddler discipline method. Keep the time brief around one minute per year of age. Toddlers don't usually stay in the corner so you need to stop what you are doing and stand over them making sure they can't engage your facial/body language. Once time out is over, remind them gently but firmly what they did wrong in simple language and then if they do it again (often the immediate case until they fully understand) repeat. Discipline must occur at the time of the action and not later. So even if you are out of your home, you must be prepared to discipline them. Be discreet, and don’t do it in front of others to avoid bringing down their self-esteem. Remind toddlers of the rules frequently when out on an outing or in the house if necessary.
Distract and divert
The best form of toddler discipline is redirection. First, you have to distract them from their original intention and then, quickly divert them toward a safer alternative. Give them something else to do for example, helping with the household chores and soon they will be enjoying themselves rather than investing a lot of emotional energy into the original plan.
Ignoring temper tantrum
Ignoring the behaviour or making statements such as “when you throw a tantrum I can’t hear you” or “I don’t like watching temper tantrums so let me know when you are finished and we will talk”, will both show and tell the child that their display will not gain control over the situation or the parent.
Temper tantrums are usually dramatic, intense and full of emotion. With a little practice and persistence, parents can learn how to stop the drama of a temper tantrum and change the situation to a calm, quiet discussion. Keep control and keep the peace.
Your child is more likely to do what you say if you uses soft approaches. Ask rather than tell. Say "Would you give me the crayons, please?" instead of demanding "Bring me the crayons right now!"
Much of your toddler discipline depends on your ability to set limits. Boundaries provide security for those with an adventurous nature, but inexperience can lead them astray. For example, your toddler doesn't want to hold your hand as you cross a street or parking lot together. You firmly set a limit: street or parking lot crossing is only done while holding hands. There is no option. It is important to achieve the right balance between freedom and constraints.
Limit-setting teaches a valuable lesson for life: the world is full of yeses and nos. You decide what behaviour you cannot allow and stick to that limit. This will be different for each family and each stage of development. Toddlers want someone to set limits. It makes them feel secure and loved, and helps them to understand boundaries. As a parent you have to ensure the rules you set are simple, easy to understand, and consistent.
Set up conditions for toddler discipline that encourage desirable behaviour. Structure protects and redirects. With a bit of preplanning you can remove most of the "no's" so a generally "yes" environment prevails.
Structure changes as the child grows. At all levels of development restructuring the child's environment is one of your most valuable discipline strategies.
Studies show toddler discipline using positive reinforcement works far better than punishment. Rather than focusing only on those things that irritate us and becoming habitual scolders, "catch your kids doing something right and reward them."
Remember toddlers tune out a lot so if you are always saying "No", "Don't touch this", "Don't go there", then all they hear is NO. You want to try and give them lots of positive feedback.
There is certainly no magic formula to toddler discipline but it is imperative that you establish the guidelines as early as possible.
Be consistent. If you tell a child no and then end up letting the child do what they wanted in the first place, you are setting yourself up for disaster.
There are lots of different things you can do to brighten up the, often mundane, school lunch including -
Ideally a lunch should contain a serving of fruit, a serving of protein, a serving of whole grains and a drink, however, if you have a fussy child allow your child’s unique tastes to be your guide, you can always ensure they get their food varieties at other meals.
Don’t limit lunch choices to sandwiches. How about rice cakes (keep toppings separate or the rice cake will be soggy before lunchtime!), cold chicken, pasta salad, quiche, homemade pizza slices, sausages, or hard boiled eggs.
If you do make sandwiches don’t limit to plain white bread. Try multigrain, rolls and buns, bagels, wraps, pita bread, scones or pikelets. For variety cut the sandwiches out with a cookie cutter.
Keep portion sizes small - a small sliced carrot, half a small sliced apple, a small bunch of grapes, mandarin segments, raisins, a small banana, sliced cucumber. How about a fruit kebab.
Proteins and grains at lunch will help your child concentrate in the afternoon, particularly the very young. If you struggle with their tastes try and get these into your fillings such as ham and lettuce, cream cheese with finely chopped celery and grated carrot, tuna, egg and mayonnaise, ham and pineapple, banana and honey, shredded chicken.
Why not cook a little extra dinner the night before and save for lunch the next day. Roast chicken, pasta salad, quiche, homemade pizza slices and sausages are just a few examples that are delicious cold for lunch.
Use different fillings – some that are “filling fillings” include banana and honey; mashed egg and mayonnaise; ham, cheese and tomato; cream cheese, tuna, cucumber and carrot.
Add a little hand written message in their lunchbox!
What is reading comprehension and why is it important?
Quite simply reading equals thinking. In order to truly read and understand, a reader must be thinking about the meaning of the text. Here are 5 simple ways to improve your child’s reading comprehension.
Build their Background Knowledge
Particularly children who struggle as readers, comprehension is a big deal. Comprehension of a text starts before the child even opens the book. Before they start to read they should know what they are going to read about. Look at the title, cover images, synopsis of the book. What do they perhaps know about the topic? Do they think they know what might happen in the story.
Before they start reading find out the child’s background knowledge of the particular topic in the story. Perhaps spend time talking to them, expanding their knowledge. It is always wise to have at least a little background knowledge on a subject to assist with understanding.
How fluently a child can read the text also affects comprehension. If a text is too hard the child will be spending too much time on simply reading the words and lose the understanding of the text. The child feels pressured to read clearly and is unable to focus on what they are actually reading. Avoid this problem by ensuring the text is age or ability appropriate. Fluency can be built by re-reading texts once they have an understanding.
Widen their Vocabulary
As you build on a background knowledge of a topic start introducing and widening their vocabulary. Having a wide vocabulary is one of the best ways to more easily understand.
Read Different Kinds of Texts
Make sure your child reads a variety of both fiction and non-fiction texts. The format and structure of writing is different. Also as they grow older read across a wide variety of genres and subjects.
Provide After Reading Activities
After reading introduce activities relating to the book and topic to increase their understanding. Perhaps talk about the opposite effects or conclusions from the story and what the child might do in that different scenario.
Exploring and digging indepth is not only great for reading comprehension but introduces development of knowledge which will hold them in good stead when they start to explore the next topic.
Brushing teeth is a necessity for life and so it is important to teach your child good brushing habits from the start to ensure good oral health.
By making brushing fun you can ensure your child will develop these habits which they will remember for a lifetime.
These days you can download videos for your kids to brush along to showing valuable brushing techniques and keeping them brushing for the most appropriate timing of 2 minutes.
Alternatively there are also lots of songs you can brush to, catchy tunes with instructions and good for timing as they need to brush until the end.
Using your imagination is a good way to instill good habits, get your child to pretend they are a hippo or tiger to open their mouth wide. As they begin to lose teeth pretend the gap is a little doorway for the tooth fairy to visit them or for any other imaginary friends they might have. Perhaps pretend your child is a super hero who will defeat the evil germs.
If your child is a reluctant brusher try letting them brush your teeth and make it a game, show you enjoy being pampered and being clean.
Let them be part of the process by putting the toothpaste on the brush. When at the supermarket let them choose which child brush they want to us – many of these are characters and so you could start a series of stories based around the character brush, tell your child how sad the character is if they don’t brush properly.
When learning brushing techniques play follow the leader. You show them a brushing technique and get them to copy. As they get better swap roles and get them to take the lead, if they aren’t using the correct technique this is when you can correct them (subtly).
Use rewards as incentives. When your child reaches a milestone give them a sticker to go towards a prize (try not to make the ultimate prize lollies, however at least if they are brushing correctly they are counteracting the lolly hit)!
Children respond well to positive encouragement so do remember to continuously reinforce how well they are doing and soon you will have instilled habits that will help ensure good oral health for a lifetime!
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