Tuesday, September 30, 2014

6 Ways to Enjoy a Family Centered Fall!

Fall is the perfect season to put your family at the top of your priority list.  There are so many simple, yet wonderful activities that you can do as a family that can strengthen your bonds with one another.  Reserve some of that precious weekend time to venture out and experience some seasonal activities together.  I have compiled a list of a few of my favorites that I hope inspire you to spend quality time enjoying your precious family.

  • Pick some Apples:  Find an orchard and head out for an afternoon of fresh air and apple picking.  Kids of all ages can and will enjoy this, and once you bring home your wonderful red or green treasures, the fun continues because you can all work together to peel and cut the apples and bake a deliciously simple apple crisp.  Yum!
  • Take a Hike:  Throw on your hiking shoes and visit a state park for a healthy hike.  Don't forget to pack a backpack with water and some healthy snacks.  It has been proven that time spent in nature reduces stress--and just about everyone I know can benefit from that.  In addition, the physical fatigue will mean that you are bringing home tired and calm children, and isn't that a great reward.
  • Visit a Farm:  There are farms that hold pumpkin festivals at this time of year, and that is always a fun outing.  Go and pick out the perfect pumpkin, so that you will be ready to carve your jack-o-lantern later this month.  Or jump on the hay wagon for a hay ride, and visit the petting zoo and pony rides.
  • Football:  Take your children to see a high school or college football game.  From learning the sport, to watching the halftime show and visiting the concession stand, this is a fun outing to enjoy all together.
  • Take a Ride:  Whether it is on your bikes or horseback.  Venture out and share a ride somewhere.  Fall weather is cool and invigorating and simply invites you to hop on a bike or a horse and explore a new trail.
  • Build a Fire:  Find a place that you can safely and legally start a campfire.  Then pack up the marshmallows and spend an evening enjoying the stars.  And if you know anyone who plays the guitar, invite them along, too!
 The key to having a happy family is to enjoying each others' company.  And in our face paced world, finding the time to do this becomes harder all the time.  So reserve some time to spend with the ones you love the most.  You will be so glad that you did.  Don't forget to take pictures.  But put your phone away for the day, and spend real quality time talking and laughing with your children.

Happy Fall!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Spanking is NOT Okay!


There are some parents who defend spanking their children as their "right" to discipline.  But I am not one of them and although I firmly believe in discipline, I know that there are better, and healthier methods of teaching your children right from wrong.  How do I know this for sure?  In my preschool class, I am called upon constantly to correct children's behavior and keep them focused, on task and learning in a positive and nurturing environment.  And I never have felt the need to use my physical power to accomplish any of this.

Now I must admit, in raising my own four children there were a few times I sent a slap their way.  And in my younger days, I know I did use the threat of spanking as a deterrent.  But as the years passed, my husband and I were determined to refrain from using any form of physical punishment as a method of discipline.  "Why?" you ask.  "What is so harmful about a spanking?", "It is the only thing that works!", "My parents spanked me and I turned out alright!"  Let me spell it out simply and clearly for you...

THERE ARE BETTER WAYS TO DISCIPLINE YOUR CHILD!  And if you use the other ways effectively, they eliminate the need for spanking altogether.  First, you must admit that most of your spanking is done out of anger.  This is UNACCEPTABLE!  YOU are the adult in the situation and you are not behaving as an adult!  You are controlling a smaller human being through fear.  This results in your own children thinking that is okay to control another person through physical threat and violence.  I know that is not a lesson you want to teach your kid, right?

Discipline should be coming from a place of wisdom.  You want to teach your child that what he/she is doing is not okay and cannot continue.  Also, you want to reinforce to your child that you love and care about them unconditionally, but you are also the authority in their lives until they are grown and no longer in your care.  To do this, you must earn the respect of your child...and spanking doesn't result in your child respecting you...only your power over him/her.

There are many techniques that can be effectively used for discipline issues.  Discipline should be targeted at the age and development of your child and also the severity of the action you wish to stop.  Discipline is especially effective when it teaches something.  Chores can be used as punishment.  So can taking away a favorite activity or toy of your child.  The duration of the punishment also needs to be realistic and something that you will stick to, but difficult enough on your child to be memorable.  This blog contains a earlier post about other discipline strategies which you may find helpful:
  6 Steps to Better Parenting
But the bottom line is, don't hit your kids.  There are better ways to accomplish your goals.  Don't raise a hand to them.  They are precious little people, who deserve your very best.  If you are having issues with their behavior, educate yourself.  Don't take it out on them.  They love you and don't want to fear you.  You can learn new ways of dealing with them that will benefit your entire family.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Beauty of Preschool!

Today at preschool, I could see brain's growing!  It is such a privilege to circulate amongst the littlest of workers; their tiny hands working on art projects, their little eyes looking up at the book we are sharing, their voices eagerly calling out answers and observations.  Learning to raise a hand, learning to walk down the hall quietly, learning who likes to play pirate ship on the playground.

It never ceases to amaze me how each child is so completely, 100% unique just like the flowers in a garden.  Even after years of teaching, it still surprises me.  And the gifts are there to be discovered.  This one is quiet and reserved and yet knows all of his numerals, this one can tie, this one can write her name, this one is brave and boisterous, but doesn't like glue on his hands.  They are each such a wonderful mosaic of loveliness.  Each is learning and growing at his/her own pace.  There is no need to compete and compare.  Each is right where he/she needs to be and each will forge ahead through the year, learning and growing with out even knowing what is happening.

I am so honored to be a preschool teacher.  Thank you for sending them to preschool for a few hours each weekday, so we can learn and grow and share and care for each other.  We are laying the foundations for successful years ahead.  We are developing positive self concepts, teaching life long lessons about working with each other, listening and communicating our ideas, sticking with tasks until they are finished, and caring about our classmates.  We are a learning community that is built on having fun.

Parents of young children, enroll your children in preschool so that they won't miss out on the joy and the excitement of learning and playing!  You will be giving them a gift of a lifetime.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Understanding Things Not Seen...

A precious young family sat in front of us at mass on Sunday.  The three young children were seated between their parents and just as the service began the fun started.  The youngest brother, who was about four, started a calculated attack on the oldest brother.  He subtly kicked him, pinched his hand, elbowed his ribs, and so on and so on.  The little one was such a quick witted child that as soon as either parent would glance down at them, he would throw up his hand a point to the eldest brother and put a sad look on his face.  And the older brother would get a strong word or shake from his mother or father.

By the end of mass, I felt so sad for the oldest boy.  He took this behavior for much longer than I thought humanly possible...and if he retaliated in any way, he was again reprimanded.  Please understand that I am NOT judging the parents.  Firstly, cheers to them for wrangling three youngsters to mass!  The value of this cannot be overstated.  I am merely writing this post in an effort to ask parents to question themselves about what patterns of behavior you might be missing.  How does one investigate this type of thing?  I would recommend having chats with each of your children, one on one to discuss how they feel about the family and allow them to voice any issues they may be having with one another.  This is healthy on so many levels.  Teaching your children to talk about feelings and open up to you builds the foundation for a solid and positive family life.

So be aware parents.  And make the effort to connect with each and every one of your children.  You will never regret it!