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Archive for the ‘Charity’ Category

How Small Children Can Make a Big Difference

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By Jennifer Jipson, Ph.D.

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

In my last blog, I wrote about ways to help children cultivate an attitude of gratitudeDr. Jennifer Teramoto Pedrotti, a colleague who studies positive psychology, recently told me that people who are more grateful also tend to be more optimistic, be more hopeful, have higher life satisfaction and be more empathetic. I hope that you’ve been trying some of the ideas that I shared! As it turns out, focusing on the good in our lives is only one way to reap these positive social-emotional benefits. Another way is to give to others in ways that support them without expecting anything in return. Today, I’ll share some ideas for how to get children of all ages involved in giving back to help their communities. 

Intergenerational Caring and Sharing  Now that families are traveling to see each other less often, seniors may be feeling especially lonely and disconnectedMake it a family goal to add cheer to the year for neighbors who may be struggling. Sara Bartlett is a licensed clinical social worker who focuses on the benefits of intergenerational relationships for mental health and well-beingShe has shared some ideas for how families with young children can bring joyful moments to seniors who must socially isolate during this time 

  • Letters and Drawings  Encourage children to write letters or draw pictures, and mail them to local nursing homes or drop them off in older neighbors’ mailboxesYou may even spark a penpal relationship and receive letters back;  
  • Performances – Invite your children to play musical instruments, dance or perform a short skit from the driveway or porch for an older adult who watches nearby; 
  • Shared Storytelling  Ask children to practice their storytelling skills by sharing a story with an older adult over Zoom or FaceTime or, perhaps, invite the older adult to read with the child;  
  • Surprise Packages  Involve children in creating care packages with puzzle books, catalogs, jigsaw puzzles, art supplies or other items to be placed safely on someone’s stoop or delivered to elder care facilities. 

Caring for Others in Outdoor Places and Spaces – An abundance of research links developmental benefits to connections with nature. Although the pandemic limits visits to indoor spaces, families can still safely engage in outdoor activities, and they can do so in ways that help others in their communities.  

  • Community Clean Up – Cleaning up litter in your neighborhood or local parks can be safe and fun for children – just bring a plastic bag and gloves. Be sure to set rules in advance about what can and cannot be touched safely;  
  • Encouragement Rocks!  Invite children to spend some time painting rocks to scatter around the neighborhood for other people to find. Older children can paint encouraging words and phrases on their rocks, and younger children can paint with colors that they think will make others feel cheerful; 
  • Good Deed Day – Offer to do your neighbors a favor by pulling weeds in their yards, planting a small garden or making and hanging a bird feeder near their windows. These easy and fun activities will leave your children feeling like helpers and make other people a little happier during this difficult time.   

Pro tip – If you want your preschool-aged children to be enthusiastic about helping others, start by calling them helpersIn a recent study, children were more likely to offer spontaneous help to others when researchers told them, Some children choose to be helpers,” than when they said, “Some children choose to help.” This wording helps children begin to think of themselves as the kind of person who helps, and this encourages prosocial behavior. 

I hope you enjoy these ideas for how to engage in being thankful and giving!

5 Easy Activities for Your Family to Practice the Art of Giving

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By Lee Scott

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Sharing and giving are an important part of learning, and the holiday season is the perfect opportunity to help your children develop these important skills.

Gift-giving creates a happy feeling not just for the receiver but also for the giver. Children are in fact happier when they give back. Researchers at the University of British Columbia* interacted with children using puppets, which would make ‘YUMM’ noises when given treats. The results indicated that children were happier when giving the treats away than when receiving treats for themselves.

Here are five easy activities for your family to practice the art of giving:

  1. Give a Gift That Keeps on Giving – Make a “Giving Book” with your children. Think of five things they would enjoy doing for someone at home or for a neighbor or a relative. Write or draw the things on three-by-five index cards, decorate the cards and staple them together. Present the “Giving Book” to the relative. This is a gift that keeps on giving and extends the fun beyond the holidays. It also gives your children confidence in the things can they do for someone else.
  1. Build a Plan for Giving – Ask your children how they would like to give back. You may be surprised at what they come up with. Implementing their ideas will help build their confidence and commitment to the activity. Decide together on how to accomplish their ideas.
  1. No Money Needed – It is important to have children experience how to give beyond buying a gift. Donating time and effort is just as important. This will help your children in daily interactions with others. Many foundations have projects that are designed just for kids. Your children could make artwork for a local children’s hospital or help plant trees for a nature reserve. Whatever your child’s passion is, connect it to giving back.
  1. Donate Your Joy – Ask your children to select gently used clothes, toys and other things around their room that they could donate to others. You can choose the charity together. Take your children with you to donate the goods so they can see where they will go. Talk about who might receive them.
  1. Checking In about Feelings After your children spend time giving back, ask them how they feel. Most likely they will have a positive response and want to do it again. Conversations about giving help young children make the connection of that good feeling to giving back.

*Aknin, L. B., Hamlin, J. K. & Dunn, E. W. (2012, June 14). Giving leads to happiness in young children. PLOS ONE 7(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0039211

10 Ways To Pack More Gratitude Into Your Life

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Inspired ways for families to embrace and celebrate the spirit of the season — and beyond.

By Angela Zimmerman

It happens every holiday: You’re so caught up in shopping, traveling, cooking and planning that you forget to focus on the stuff that really counts. From honoring family traditions and treasuring togetherness to practicing compassion and counting your blessings, the real magic far exceeds the chaos that has come to saturate the season.

This year, why not put gratitude on your to-do list? You’ll feel better, your kids will be happier, and it’ll bring you closer together than any toy or trinket.

Gratitude is a unique character strength in that you can actually teach it to your kids — rather than, say, crossing your fingers and hoping they’ll figure it out. It’s a quality that transcends religion, philosophy, culture and ceremony. It has been scientifically proven to boost happiness.

It doesn’t always come naturally, though. Kids can be self-centered — and with the rampant consumerism at every turn of the holiday season, it can be hard for them to look beyond the shiny storefronts and their own wish lists. But by teaching, modeling, reinforcing and nurturing gratitude, you’re giving your kids a gift that will last well beyond the holidays — and hopefully a lifetime.

Try these tips to really drive the messages home.

Create A Grateful Home Environment

Have a discussion with your kids about what gratitude is and what it means to feel grateful. Find natural ways to weave it into your family life, whether it’s pausing before a meal or ending each day with a moment of reflection. Encourage your kids to think about what they’re grateful for every single day, whether it’s the sun in the sky, the fluffy family dog, or participating in the school play.

Ditch The Gadgets

Put the devices down and spend time together as a family around the dinner table. You don’t have to keep the convo positive 100 percent of the time. But even as you discuss current events or something that happened during your kid’s school day, make an effort to find something to be grateful for. You can always just say, “Thank you for sharing.”

Watch TV  And Movies That Inspire Gratitude

Television shows and movies— especially those with relatable characters and easy-to-follow storylines — make a big impact on kids. Use the time together to teach kids the value of being aware of and thankful for the good things in their lives — and the rewards of taking the time to return kindness.

Play, Read And Watch Together 

Co-viewing and co-playing have proven benefits for kids, beyond just being fun and a bonding experience. Kids of all ages can reap the benefits of being read aloud to, and watching TV or movies as a family offers an opportunity to cuddle and share the experience of seeing and hearing the same thing. And, of course, playing video games as a family promotes teamwork, problem-solving and perseverance — all attributes that make for a well-rounded kid. Take advantage of these times to share your values.

Express Yourself 

Say what you’re grateful for — out loud. You can make it a family ritual or privately capture thoughts in a gratitude journal. Daily, weekly, monthly — any amount of time spent acknowledging all the good stuff in life is a super-beneficial habit.  

Give Back 

Serving others instills in kids a sense of pride and appreciation for their blessings. That can be done financially, through volunteer work or social activism and outreach. Check out this list of charitable apps and sites and this list of online resources that help kids do good

Send Thank-you Notes 

Sending cards through snail mail can really make someone’s day, but sending online thank-you cards or an email is also a valuable way of voicing appreciation.

Read Inspiring Stories 

Reflecting on the hardships that people endure can really put things in perspective. Read the acknowledgements section in a book and discuss whom the author thanked and why. Need ideas? Try books about the Holocaust, memoirs, stories about social justice and grief and books that simply inspire kids to be grateful.

Take A Walk Down Memory Lane 

Flipping through scrapbooks (hard-copy or online) or scrolling through social media memories is a fun way to look back at good times with friends and family. A birthday cake by candlelight, pics of last year’s snowstorm, two friends arm in arm … these memories are precious, and sometimes are just the spark of recollection can brighten a dark day.

Focus On The Positive 

Even in the midst of scary news, endless wonderful things are going on every second around the world. Counterbalance some of the sad stuff. Sites like Good News Network and Today’s Good News vertical are good ones to check out.

 

This article was written by Common Sense Media from Huffington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

THE 10TH ANNUAL GODDARD SCHOOL PRESCHOOLER-APPROVED TOY TEST NAMES MELISSA & DOUG® STAR DINER RESTAURANT PLAY SET AS THE WINNING EDUCATIONAL TOY OF 2017

100 Units Will Be Purchased and Donated to Toys for Tots

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Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the national franchisor of The Goddard School®  preschool system, proudly announces that the public has selected the Melissa & Doug® Star Diner Restaurant Play Set as the winning toy in the 10th annual Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test. To promote learning through play for all children, GSI will purchase and donate 100 units of the Melissa & Doug® Star Diner Restaurant Play Set to Toys for Tots, a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve that distributes holiday gifts to less fortunate children.

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Established in 2008, the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test aims to determine the best educational toys on the market by enlisting the help of the most discerning toy critics, preschoolers! Each year, The Goddard School Toy-Testing Committee evaluates dozens of submissions from the leading toy manufacturers around the globe. The top 25 educational toys that support child-initiated play, collaboration and other criteria proceed to the next round where preschoolers from 50 Goddard School preschools nationwide are given the opportunity to play with and critique the toys. The children and their teachers work together to select their favorites, which are compiled into a list of the Top 10 Educational Toys. These, then, are put to a public vote to determine the winning toy of the year.

The Top 10 Educational Toys for 2017 were named as follows in the suggested age-range order of the children:

  • VTech – Lil’ Critters Shake & Wobble Busy Ball (Suggested Age Range: 3-24 months);
  • Fat Brain Toys – Oombee Cube (Suggested Age Range: 10+ months);
  • SMARTMAX – My First Safari Animals (Suggested Age Range: 1–5 years);
  • Peaceable Kingdom Monkey Around – The Wiggle and Giggle Game (Suggested Age Range: 2+ years);
  • VTech – Go! Go! Smart Wheels – Race & Play Adventure Park (Suggested Age Range: 1–5 years);
  • K’NEX – KID K’NEX Budding Builders Building Set (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years);
  • Melissa & Doug Star Diner Restaurant Play Set (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years);
  • Learning Resources Lil’ Lemonade Stand-Off – A Memory Matching Game (Suggested Age Range: 4+ years);
  • DuneCraft – Bucket of Balls (Suggested Age Range: 4+ years);
  • Learning Resources – Let’s Go Code! Activity Set (Suggested Age Range: 5+ years).

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“Through our Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, children continue to engage in the most genuine form of learning by playing with the best educational toys like the Melissa & Doug® Star Diner Restaurant Play Set,” says Dr. Craig Bach, Vice President of Education at GSI. “Play-based learning is known to be the most effective way for children to develop the skills necessary for social and academic success early on and later in life. We are proud to continue with this program through its 10th year and beyond.”

For more information on The Goddard School and the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, please visit www.goddardschool.com/toytest.

 

 

Five Ways for Children to Give Back

Encouraging your children to give back to their local community will teach them the importance of helping others. Participating in these activities will create an opportunity for bonding with your children.

Donate toys – Children may receive toys that they only play with a few times. Instead of letting these toys gather dust in the closet, go through them with your child and let him pick out which toys can be donated to children in need. Knowing that his toys will bring happiness to less fortunate children will leave him feeling good about himself.

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Plant a tree – Planting a tree is a great learning experience that brings the whole community together. Talk to neighbors in your community and propose a tree-planting event. Before the event, teach your child how planting trees creates a healthier and more beautiful earth. Arrive at the event showing a lot of enthusiasm for improving the environment. This is an easy way to teach your child the importance of giving back while having fun.

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Bake Sale – If your child loves getting his hands dirty in the kitchen, and most children do, this activity is perfect for him. Help your child prepare one of his favorite desserts, and invite members of your community to help their children prepare treats, too. Let him select a charity that will benefit from the proceeds of the sale, and help him draw up signs, set up the event and take charge of sales. Set prices in easy increments, such as $0.25, $0.50, $0.75 or $1.00, so that your child can help collect the money. Do not forget to bring money to make change and money to pay for any pastries that you and your child purchase from other children in your community. This tasty event will have your little one and his taste buds excited to contribute to the community!

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Visit a nursing home – Children love hearing stories and senior citizens love telling them, so this is a perfect match. Bring your child to a local nursing home and let him donate his time to one of the members. Many senior citizens do not have family members close by who can visit them frequently, so spending some time with you and your child may mean a lot to them. Your child can learn a lot from this while he provides companionship to his senior citizen buddy. If the first visit is a good experience, you could make routine visits.

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Teaching Thankfulness through Community Service

Volunteering is an enriching experience for everyone involved. Families have more opportunities and more reasons than ever to volunteer Twenty20 - share a mealtogether.

Why should you get involved?

  • Volunteering feels good, and children learn to feel satisfaction and pride come in helping others;
  • Getting involved strengthens your community. Organizations that use volunteers often provide services at low or no cost to those in need;
  • Volunteering can strengthen your family bonds as you have fun together and grow closer. Select one or two projects a year, and make them a family tradition.

What do children learn?

  • Children learn how to be on time, do their best and be proud of the results. This creates a sense of responsibility;
  • Children learn that one person can make a difference;
  • Children learn to think of others. Giving a toy to a less fortunate child helps children learn that other people need our help. Volunteering to clean up a park teaches your children they can improve their community.

How can you get involved?twenty20 - garden

  • The internet offers a lot of information about volunteering. You can begin your search online by typing “community service and volunteer organizations” in the search box;
  • Call a local charity, church or hospital.

Community service makes a lasting impression on children. They quickly learn that the service they provide benefits real people, and they feel good about it.