Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Making Good Memories by Managing Yourself

Do your kids pick up on your holiday stress? You bet they do! 
Today we are sharing a great article from Laura Markham from http://www.ahaparenting.com/ that gives some sound suggestions from keeping things real at the holidays.
You can read the article here and sign up for the newsletter here.
We aren't affiliated with Aha! Parenting--we just think they are great, and bet you will, too.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A cardboard box turned into a sleigh ride and more...

With a little help from the UPS man, and the cardboard box from Pottery Barn Kids, my girls were entertained for at least an hour, while I prepared dinner tonight. Amazing what a plain ole cardboard box can do to keep your kids busy and productive.

In our past posts, we have talked about the importance of keeping your child's toys simple and how the more simple they are, the more your child is encouraged to use their imagination, social, language as well as critical thinking skills. For example, tonight, my girls pretended their beat up Pottery Barn Kids box was a sleigh, and then after they had their fun on their sleigh ride, they imagined they were at the beach and their cardboard box, was their "boat." So while I was preparing dinner, and the girls were having fun on their sleigh ride or in their boat, they were laughing, talking, and having fun thinking of so many ways or things they could turn this ordinary box in their latest adventure.

Lesson I learned? Don't throw away every box you get in the mail. You never know what this box can teach your child as well as you!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tis the Season to Reading Aloud

As you know, we strongly encourage reading aloud to your children at least 20 minutes every day. It is the perfect way to bond, as well as teach your child pre-reading skills. So let’s take advantage of the great holiday stories, old and new, and read to our children every night. This is another way to create a holiday family tradition.
Our favorite holiday books:
Twas the Night Before Christmas
The Polar Express
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Merry Christmas Curious George
Merry Christmas Biscuit
Merry Christmas Mouse
Olivia Claus
Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas
Room for a Little One
B is for Bethlehem
The Nativity
The Little Drummer Boy

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

the importance of traditions...

When I think of my childhood Christmas memories, I immediately think of my Grandparents and how they made this special holiday so memorable. I remember baking and decorating cookies with my Aunt and cousins at my Grandma’s house. Then, I used to always look forward to riding around with my mom and dad, looking at our town’s gorgeous Christmas lights and decorations, while listening to fun holiday tunes. I also remember the cozy feeling of getting into my holiday pjs after a warm bath and curling up on the couch with hot cocoa, to watch Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. Then, as I got older, I looked forward to the traditional Christmas Eve candlelight service at my church, and then having a yummy meal afterwards, with my whole family.

It is really the simple things that we remember and cherish, even as adults. So when you are thinking about creating family traditions in your home this holiday season, remember it doesn’t have to be elaborate. You don’t have to go, go, go all the time to entertain your child. It is your time and what you believe is special.
We would love to hear what your favorite childhood memories are or what kind of family traditions you have created with your family? I know for me, I have carried the tradition of baking with my girls every week, and then just snuggling up with them each night to read them a Christmas book or watch their favorite holiday show, like Frosty the Snowman or Rudolph.

There are other ways to create family traditions like doing holiday crafts together, like Christmas cards or ornaments, setting a certain date and time to decorate the tree, or maybe even volunteering somewhere to really encourage your child and teach them about giving and not just receiving.

We look forward to hearing about your traditions and how they are special to you.

Monday, December 3, 2012

For parents: Coping with learning differences

Most days of the week I receive a call from a parent of one of my students. These calls tend to increase at this time of year and the start of the holidays signals the end of the school semester. Sometimes it’s a simple confirmation of our schedule or a quick question. But often, when I get off the phone, I realize that these families are asking questions, seeking reassurance, and requesting advice for one reason: fear.

This is not momentary fight-or-flight fear, but rather a lingering cloud of concern. Days have become carefully orchestrated symphonies of schoolwork, after-school appointments, homework, and correspondence with all involved parties to ensure harmony. The time-consuming project of managing a child’s needs interferes with work, family, and personal responsibilities; time for relaxation, socializing, and sleep gets stolen to make up the difference. Meanwhile, costs for additional services strain family budgets and stress strains marriages. The fear comes in when there is a glitch: an accommodation is not made, a test is failed, or, worst of all, when the child expresses that they are a failure. Parents, doing all that they can do, worry that it is not enough.

How do you help the child without getting swept away by the demands?

1. Start with school. Establish relationships with the school personnel who are responsible for meeting your child’s needs and hold them accountable. After all, they are being paid to do this! This is accomplished by keeping a record of all correspondence, and referring back to it regularly to see if all promises are being kept. In a public school setting there are legal rights—get to know them. If you are in a private school, be sure it is the best possible fit and that there is a designated person assigned to manage your child’s supports.

2. See your child as a whole person. Don’t drop all the extra-curriculars to free up time for homework/tutoring. Encourage your child to be a friend (socializing with others), an individual (taking classes in art, music, or sports not offered at school), and a family member (doing chores and spending time together). Without these identities, your child may view himself as simply a kid who has trouble with school. Yes, you may need to pick and choose activities with an eye toward balance, but it is worth the effort.

3. Set limits. Decide how much time you personally are going to spend fighting the battles, and how much time your child will spend on work outside of the school day. Be realistic, and stick to it.

4. Seek community. You are not alone. Online forums can be a way to find support, but nothing beats in-person relationships. Gather the courage to open up just a little bit about the challenges your child is facing, and be prepared to find out how many of your friends are facing similar issues or know someone who is. Also seek out (or consider starting) a parents group that meets regularly.

5. Check in with yourself when you start to feel overwhelmed. Make two lists—one for what is working, and one for what is not working. Celebrate the positives, and identify the people who can help you solve the problems.

Parenting a child with unique learning needs is a challenge, to be sure. But by establishing priorities and supports you will make a difference.

This article was originally posted at www.heathergillum.com.