Monday, October 29, 2012

Hands on Mom live events are now approved training hours for Tennessee DHS-licensed child care providers!

Hands-On Mom brings affordable educational programs for child care providers and parents to your location.

Early childhood expert Amy Croker, MAT, and child language specialist Heather Gillum, PhD, CCC-SLP, bring their experience as professionals and as parents to these lively, interactive presentations on child development. 

Ages and Stages is a one-hour program that provides a broad overview of development for ages two to five years.  This presentation highlights developmental milestones and play-based teaching techniques. Guidance on early identification of developmental differences and making appropriate referrals is also shared. Participants will receive a list of developmentally-appropriate toys, many of which can be made from inexpensive items. Cost: $180.

 From Coos to Kindergarten: Developing Language and Literacy is a one-hour program spotlighting the development of oral language and the foundations for learning to read.  Strategies for building these skills in children from birth to age six years will be shared. Participants will receive a list of exceptional books for young children. Cost: $180.   
Schedule both programs for $300 (that is a discount of $60!).
  •  Day and evening scheduling is available.
  • Pricing includes promotional posters and flyers, program handouts, and certificates of attendance
  • A deposit of $80, payable by check or credit card, is required to hold the reservation; balance due within five business days of the scheduled programs
  • These programs are approved to fulfill training hour requirements for State of Tennessee DHS-licensed child care providers in the areas of Health and Child Development. Certificates will be provided on request.
Call (615) 473-7596 or email
for information and scheduling.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Local Pumpkin Patches, Apple Orchards and Festivals, Enjoy this Season

Who can resist getting out and enjoying the gorgeous fall weather and all the fun festivities that come with it?

Check out to find a pumpkin patch, corn maze, hayride or apple orchard near you.

There is nothing like watching your kids run around a pumpkin patch or chase them through a corn maze that will put you in the Fall spirit. It brings out the kid in you and creates wonderful family memories.

Other local activites to take advantage of this time of year:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fun Fall Activities to get us Moving!

Need some ideas to get you motivated and moving with your kids?

Here are our favorite physical activties for the Fall:
  • Leaf hunt or nature walk
  • Pumpkin Patch or Apple Picking
  • Carve or paint pumpkins outside
  • Local Festivals or fair: walk from booth to booth, let the kids enjoy the bounce activites or petting zoos
  • Farmers Market:  pick fresh produce and take it home to cook. Talk about the importance of eating healthy.
  • Parks and/or Playgrounds: try to encourage your child to try something new such as the hanging on the monkey bars or pumping those legs on the swings.
  • Have a picnic and then play chase...once your food settles of course.  
  • Backyard BBQ with Games-Hula Hoops and Hop Scotch are favorites at our house.
  • Ride bikes or stroll the neighborhood-try to go a different route every time.
  • Walk your dog-they need exercise too!
  • If you are stuck inside? Play hide and go seek, have a pillow fight or build a fort.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Let's get moving!

"The Leaves are dancing all around, all around,
The Leaves are dancing all around, all around,
Red, Yellow, Orange, falling to the ground,
The Leaves are dancing all around, all around!"
This fun song is sung quite a bit at our house around the Fall season. We sing it when we are getting stir crazy, and put dance moves with it, we sing it on our way to school and we sing it on walks to collect cool fall leaves.
The common theme is being active! Encourage activity. Kids learn from example so if you are active, then they are more likely to want to be active.
So get out and enjoy this gorgeous fall weather with your kids, your dog or your hubby.  
Research shows that kids who are more active are more likely to be academically motivated, alert, and successful. And physical competence builds self-esteem at every age.
So as parents, how can we not only keep ourselves motivated to exercise, but also encourage our kids to be more active?
At, they have made it easy for us with a list of age-appropriate activities and ways we can easily incorporate exercise in our daily routine.  Check it out and then get moving with your family!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Upcoming Parenting Events from Daystar Ministries

Daystar Counseling in Nashville is best known by the books by two of their staff: Raising Girls by Sissy Goff and Nurturing Boys by Dave Thomas.

Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, TN is bringing these experts to campus for two special nights.

Wednesday, Oct. 17, 6:30-9pm: David Thomas presents Nurturing Boys

Wednesday, Oct. 24, 6:30-9pm: Sissy Goff presents Raising Girls

For information and registration ($25 for each session), visit and go through the "Parents" header to "School Event Registration."

You won't want to miss these engaging, insightful programs on the emotional and intellectual development of boys and girls.

Click here for more information about Daystar Counseling.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

More on Parent Involvement

Don't just take it from us--parent involvement in school is a big deal. Here's a link to a great report from the State of Michigan on the importance of home-school connections. It's never to early to start putting these tips into practice.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Preparing for Parent-Teacher Conferences

The words “Parent-Teacher Conference” have struck fear in my mind since I was old enough to understand that the very reason for a day off from school was for MY parents to talk to MY teacher about ME in my absence. The nerve!

Now that I am a parent, I appreciate these meetings for what they are: an unsolicited opportunity for two-way sharing between teacher and parent. Smoldering issues (as opposed to big burning questions that warrant an after-school phone call) that otherwise might not be discussed are brought to light. Talking in person gives both sides the benefit of reading the body language and hearing the tone of voice that is masked by email correspondence. This is a golden opportunity for collaboration, not to be wasted.

Time is of the essence, as conferences are typically scheduled back-to-back in 20 or 30-minute intervals. Do your homework to make the most of this limited time. Here are some suggestions:
  1. If you are attending this meeting with your spouse, get on the same page. Don’t waste time in the meeting figuring out what you want to discuss. Establish goals before the meeting.
  2. Choose two or three priorities and write them down in order of importance. Bring the list with you and share it with the teacher when you sit down. This communicates both your concerns and their rank. The teacher may want to jump right in to addressing your concerns, or may have other things to discuss first. Go with the flow.
  3. But watch the clock. Once half of the allotted time has passed, it is fine to politely interject that you would like to discuss your concerns if they have not already been covered. Equal time is a reasonable expectation.
  4. Be specific. If you are concerned about something, name it and claim it. If you want something, ask for it specifically. If you are unclear on something, get clarification. This is much easier to do in person than after the fact via phone call or email.
  5. Make notes during the meeting. Be especially careful to document anything anyone in the meeting (including yourself) has promised to do.
In the end, if you are dissatisfied with your conference, you have several options. One is to say, at the end of the meeting, that you would like another meeting with more time. This would also give you the opportunity to invite additional people (such as the principal) to join you. If you feel that another meeting with the teacher will not resolve your specific concerns, it is okay to move up the chain of command and meet with a director, dean, or principal. Either way, provide a list of your concerns prior to the next meeting so that everyone will come to the table prepared to discuss those issues.

Finally, try to keep things positive. Intentionally or not, teachers’ perceptions of parents do shape how they treat the children, for better or worse. Focus on collaboration for the good of your child and the best possible school year.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

More places around town (that are free) to practice social skills

There are so many free, but structured social activities around town for parents to take their kids, even on the weekends. So if you are a local, take a look at our favorites below. Also, make sure you check out last week's post on the more social settings such as Monkey's Treehouse, as a way to help both your introverted and extroverted child practice their social skills

If you are not a local, make sure you check out your local website or ask around your group of friends to see what is going on in your town to get your children involved. Or maybe you could start a play group with friends? Even as parents we need to get out among other parents.

Here is our list of favorite structured social activities around town that are free: 
If there are any other activities that you know about and would like to share with us, please do! We would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Shy vs. Outgoing child...both have their social challenges

Yesterday, I shared with you my thoughts on growing up as a shy child and some ways that parents and teachers can help kids such as myself easily transition into social situations.

Today, I want to talk to you about the complete opposite of personalities because I have two of them at home. Both my girls are super outgoing! They do not meet a stranger. They love being around other kids their age and have always been able to adapt well in most social settings. Yes, these are all great traits to have but just like being a shy child, there can be some challenging times socially.

In fact, I have experienced the challenging times quite often with my own social butterflies. It is not that they are disruptive or that they say inappropriate things (well, not always). It is the times that we are at the local park, YMCA or even at a birthday party.

If my oldest doesn't know someone at the park, she will find a child her own age, introduce herself and ask them if they will play with her. It is great for me in the aspect that I don't always have to entertain her while juggling her little sister that is about to fall off the jungle gym. However, there can be times that I see her introduce herself at the playground or ask if she can play with a group of girls at a playdate and they will either say "no!" and run off or say nothing.

It breaks your heart as a parent to see your child that wants so badly to play with others and then you see her feelings get hurt or not get included because she is not part of the usual play group. I often hear, "so and so wouldn't play with me today!" or "why won't they play with me."

So I am slowly trying to learn to parent my sweet social butterflies. I find that when I do see my children get their feelings hurt because a child won't respond to them or include them, I have to to make an effort to point out that it is not anything they did or said. That some children are just not sure how to play with others. Or maybe that particular child didn't want to play what you were playing at the time and that is okay.

During playdates, which can get tricky at times, I try to make sure I have activities that both kids enjoy. My girls love dress-up and art, but not all kids do. So I try to encourage them to pick a puzzle, a game or blocks. That way, the kids are more likely to use their language to work together or make a plan to build with the blocks.

Again, whether a child is shy or outgoing, both have social challenges. Just not the same challenges. The important thing I try to do and want to encourage you to do the same, is embrace those challenges. Take advantage of those tough social situations and use them as teachable moments.

For those parents of extroverted kiddos, help them through those times when they don't feel included as much as they try to be. Teach them resiliance. Encourage them to move on and just let things roll off their back (something that is a life lesson to a lot of us). Also, try to make sure you continue to provide more social activities for them to get involved in, and include some with more structured settings. This way, they can learn when it is appropriate to talk and when it is not?

For those of you with more introverted children, try to provide them with more social opportunities, model how to be more social and most of all, be supportive through social settings that maybe too overwhelming for them. Don't look at their shyness as a burden, look at it as an oppportunity to learn and grow together.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Helpful tips on parenting a shy child

Growing up as a shy child myself I can always sympathize when I see those children that hide behind their mommy's leg in any big social situation or have difficulty going to school.

Slumber parties or birthday parties were always a challenge for me, and don't even get me started on dance recitals or going off to cheerleading camp. Yep, this shy girl was actually a cheerleader and even a captain a couple of years. So you parents of shy kids, there is hope and being shy is not always a bad thing.

To me, growing up in a culture that is so outgoing can be intimidating for a child that is shy. It was always difficult for me as my family was so social in our small town. Everybody knew my parents since they were knee-high to a grasshopper. Having a big brother, I grew up under the guise of only being the "little sister." I sometimes wondered if anyone knew my first name because I was always called by my last name or Brad's (my brother) little sister.

So from being on the shy team for all these years, let me just say this to you parents of timid little darlings. I know it can be frustrating when your child won't let go of your leg or you feel like it is a reflection on you when your child doesn't speak or acknowledge someone that speaks to them. I know is has to be so hard to know what to do. What I can tell you is this, please don't make your child feel bad about being sensitive or shy like it is some illness. Being sensitive or shy can actually be a good thing at times as your child is observing and making careful thoughts about what to say or do.

Believe me, it only makes it worse when you shame the child about being clingy or not talking as much as their peers. Your "shy child" will only start to feel bad about themselves when everyone talks about how shy she is or will feel overlooked because they are not sure how to communicate.

So what can we do as parents to help our child transition more smoothly into social situations? What can we do as teachers? Well, we thought that we couldn't say it any better than an article we came across from Dr. Laura Markham's website,, as well as an article written by one of our favorite children's expert, Dr. William Sears,

Both articles are extremely helpful so we hope you will take the time to read them even if you don't have shy children. You may have a friend with shy kids or you might even teach a child that is struggling socially?

Dr. Laura Markham's article from Aha Parenting site:

Nurture your child by noticing her needs and responding to them. Shy baby chimps given to extremely nurturing mothers became leaders in their group, while their shy siblings raised by average mothers remained shy and fearful throughout life. Responsive mothering helps shy little ones learn to calm themselves and manage their reactions. That allows their heightened sensitivity to become an asset, because it makes them more responsive to the needs of their peers and better at negotiating group situations.

2. Empathize with your child’s shyness and avoid shaming him.
Acknowledging what he feels, without negative judgment, helps him to feel good about himself. Giving him the impression that there is something wrong with him will just make him feel worse about himself, and therefore more insecure and shy. Empathizing with your child will also help him develop empathy, which will enhance his social skills and keep him connected to others.

3. Model confident behavior with other people. Kids learn from watching us.
That means being friendly to strangers, offering help to others, and modeling a relaxed attitude about social interactions of all kinds.

4. Teach your child basic social skills. Kids often need to be taught to make eye contact, shake hands, smile, and respond to polite chit-chat appropriately. Role play with them how to join a game at the playground, introduce themselves to another child at a party, or initiate a playdate. Kids who are successful in joining groups of kids usually observe first, and find a way to fit into the group, rather than just barging in. Make games out of social skills and practice at home.

5. Help your child learn how to make friends. Most kids need to learn social skills, and benefit from a little extra help. I particularly recommend Lonnie Michelle's How Kids Make Friends: Secrets for Making Lots of Friends, No Matter How Shy You Are

6. Coach your child to handle teasing and bullying by role playing and encouraging her to stand up for herself. A terrific book to help you help your child, offering scripts and strategies, is Scott Cooper's Sticks and Stones: 7 Ways Your Child Can Deal with Teasing, Conflict, and Other Hard Times

7. Don’t label your child as shy. Instead, acknowledge his feelings and point out that he can overcome his fears. For instance, “Sometimes it takes you awhile to warm up in a new situation. Remember Billy’s birthday party, how you held my hand all through the games? But by the end, you were having lots of fun with the other kids.”

8. Teach your child effective strategies for dealing with shyness. The general rule of thumb is to accept the nervousness that comes up as a part of normal life that affects most people, reassure yourself that you’re ok anyway, and focus on others rather than yourself. For instance, remind your child that she doesn’t have to be interesting, just interested, and teach her to ask other kids questions and listen to their answers. Brainstorm with her how she might handle a situation that makes her nervous: “If you feel nervous at the party today, what could you do to make yourself more comfortable? Could you hang out with one of the kids you know from school? Could you offer to help serve the refreshments? What do you think you might talk with the other kids about?”

9. Provide your child with daily opportunities to interact with others.
Shy kids need downtime, of course, but they also need plenty of opportunities to practice their social skills. And remember that empathizing doesn’t mean being over-protective. Applaud every little step he takes on his own.

10. If your child seems generally fearful, consider that she's got some tears and fears inside that need to be expressed. When kids experience something scary and don't feel safe at that moment, the fears get repressed. You can think of this as stuffing them in an emotional backpack, to be processed later. The problem is that humans don't willingly subject themselves to scary feelings. So often those tears and fears stay locked up inside. But since the body knows those emotions need to be felt -- so they can evaporate -- the feelings are always trying to bubble up. Children who are trying to keep fear at bay often become generally fearful and even rigid. If this describes your child, give her daily opportunities to giggle by playing games that dance just on the edge of fear -- bucking bronco rides, for instance. And when she feels safe enough to let those fears surface in tears, welcome her meltdown. On the other side of it, you'll have a less fearful, more flexible child.

11. Don’t create social anxiety by teaching young children to be afraid of strangers. Instead, teach your child that he or she should always be with you, or with a teacher or babysitter. If her special adult is with her, your child doesn’t need to be afraid of strangers. Once she’s old enough to begin walking home from school by herself, you can begin discussing how to keep herself safe.