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10 healthy family rituals to cultivate

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Family rituals can make all the difference when family life gets tough. You may think you don’t have time for rituals. Some days you barely have time for the essentials, which is why it’s important to keep things simple.

Here is a list of rituals that you should implement in your everyday life to enrich family time:

Family dinner

Family dinner used to happen every night, in every family. That was before the days of working moms, a twenty-four hour society (and the constantly changing shift work that comes with it), and the crazy schedule of extra-curricular activities many kids are involved in these days.

Family dinner has an impact though, so it’s worth preserving. According to this Washington Post article, simply eating dinner with your family is the most important thing you can do with your kids. It doesn’t have to happen every night, and it doesn’t have to be elaborate or even home cooked. Take-out pizza on a Friday night is still family dinner, as long as you all gather around the table to eat it together and enjoy some conversation and bonding.

Family game night

One night a week, or month, devoted to playing games as a family can be a ritual you all will enjoy. They don’t have to be board games. You can play cards or do something physical like playing Twister or Charades. You can even make a family game night about video games. Anything goes, as long as everyone’s involved.

Family movie night

Many families spend way too much time in front of the TV, without necessarily watching anything worthwhile. Instead, try setting aside a regular night where you all watch a movie together. Take turns picking out the movie. Make popcorn. Snuggle under an old quilt. Do whatever it takes to make it feel like a ritual rather than an ordinary night in.

A driving ritual

As kids get older we spend a lot of time driving them around. So develop a driving ritual. It could be a game you play, or a favorite soundtrack you always listen to (and sing along to) in the car. As a parent, you can have a different, and highly personalized, driving ritual for each child, especially if you regularly drive them to an activity where it’s just the two of you.

A change of season ritual

Everyone can find time for a change of season ritual. It only happens once every three months, after all. Again, it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. It could be a family trip to the lake on the first day of summer, or collecting and preserving the most dramatically colored fall leaves in your backyard each year.

An achievement ritual

Many families have a favorite restaurant they go to when they have something to celebrate. Put a twist on it by incorporating a few things you always do to celebrate an achievement. A small gift or a printable certificate for younger kids works. As they get older it might be something as simple as the child who’s achieved something gets to ride in the front seat of the car.

Be careful with this one. Some kids achieve more than others, or they achieve more of what society sees as important. But all kids hit milestones or shine in at least one or two areas. Done right, an achievement ritual can be a way to show the less academic or sporty kids in your family that you recognize and value their achievements too.

A holiday ritual

Every holiday should have a ritual, and most have quite a few, but they’re very generic: trimming the Christmas tree, making the Valentine’s cards, carving the jack-o’-lantern. Try and develop at least one ritual for each holiday that is unique to your family, or just take one of the common holiday rituals and do it in your own way.

A bedtime ritual

Bedtime happens every night and it’s a great time to implement a simple ritual you do together as a family, or that you do with each child. Many parents will read a story or say a prayer with their child before bed, but it could just as easily be a fist bump and saying a “love ya.” That’s a ritual that might even last through the teenage years.

A daily ritual

Technically, this could be your bedtime ritual, but sometimes it’s inspiring to make the mundane or necessary parts of life sacred and enjoyable. Can you think of one thing you have to do every day that you can make into a daily ritual with your kids? It could be walking the dog with your teen after dinner, strolling to the mailbox hand-in-hand with your preschooler every morning, or sorting laundry with your toddler after nap time. Make the mundane everyday stuff into lovely little rituals you look forward to.

A self-care ritual

Teaching your children self-care is a wonderful gift. Whether it’s a pampering evening with your daughters, a short relaxation and meditation session with your teens, or a weekly trip to the farmer’s market to pick out healthy food, showing your kids that it’s fun to take a little time out to look after yourself is a great ritual.

No matter how strapped for time we are, we can all find a few family rituals that don’t take up too much time, but help all family members connect and communicate.

 

This article was written by Karen Banes from Family Share and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

7 Nag-Free Ways to Get Your Kids to Sit Down and Do Homework

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Going back to school after a holiday break is always tough. Getting your kids to dive back into that pile of math worksheets and book reports when they’d rather be playing with their new toys or watching YouTube? Torture. To help ease everyone through the transition, we asked moms for their best tips on how to get the kids to focus on their homework—no screaming, pouting, or bribery involved.

Be a study buddy.

“Remember how much more fun it was to be in a study group in college or high school? You can be your child’s study buddy. Plan 30 minutes a day when you sit at the kitchen table and work together. Your child can do homework and you can catch up on work you brought home, write out shopping lists, or do whatever it is you can get done in a half hour. Your child can continue on if needed after you’ve finished, but getting started is always the hardest part.” —Tracey Hecht, a New York City mom of one

Let them run off their excess energy first.

“I make sure my kids have an hour or so of play time outside with their friends right when they get home. Another mom once told me that because they’re cooped up so long in a classroom each day, trying to obey all the classroom rules, kids need some time to let off steam when they get home. This is especially helpful for our son, who seems to be better able to focus on homework after he has run around with his buddies.” —Erin Myers, a Baltimore mom of two

Use fun props.

“On the days when my 7-year-old daughter is feeling less eager to get her homework done, I’ve found it helpful to incorporate fun bits of home life into homework. For example, learning subtraction with M&Ms or using her alphabet puzzle to help learn alphabetization makes it feel less frustrating and more fun.” —Larissa Pickens, a New York City mom of one

Get out of the house when you can.

“I alternate where my kids do their homework and I find it helps keep them motivated. For example, on certain days we go to the children’s section of the local library. The result: Inspiration from other children doing homework!” —Melva E. Pinn-Bingham, a Chesapeake, VA, mom of three

Create a kid-friendly workspace.

“A homework station is a low-tech solution that cuts down on clutter, time and waste. It’s a one-stop-shop to find what you need, when you need it. In our home, the kitchen table is our family hub. It’s the spot where my daughters do their homework each evening and we use magazine holders for activity books, library books and homework sorting and pencil cases to keep supplies separated but contained.” —Rachel Rosenthal, a Washington, D.C., mom of twins

Set a timer.

“When one of my kids starts complaining about how long their homework will take, I set a timer for 15 minutes, and tell that child to work as hard as he or she can until the timer goes off. More often than not, the dreaded homework assignment is finished in less than 15 minutes. Then I get to point out that they spent more time complaining about the homework than it took to just do their homework!” —Maureen Paschal, a Charlotte, NC, mom of four

 

This article was written by Lambeth Hochwald from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How To Fold a Paper Boat

Ahoy! Are you looking for a fun Valentine’s Day craft?! Look no further! Have your children practice their fine motor and math skills while they fold a spare sheet of paper into a floating masterpiece. Let your children decorate it with hearts or fill it with candy, then sail right into Valentine’s Day!

1. Fold a piece of paper in half crosswise.

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2. Fold paper in half lengthwise and open it back out.

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3. Fold the corners down the center crease.

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4. Fold the long bottom strip up and fold the corners over.

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5. Flip the paper over and repeat the previous step.

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6. Fold the opposite corners together and turn it sideways to make a diamond.

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7. Fold the bottom corner up halfway, turn it over and repeat.

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8. Open the triangle and fold the opposite corners together.

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9. Hold the paper at the tip and gently pull the sides apart.

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Ship ahoy!

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions

The start of every new year brings the excitement of the unknown and offers the opportunity for reflection on the year that has passed. The idea of a clean slate, even a new beginning, gives us the opportunity to create goals that we want to accomplish over the course of the next year.

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In 2018, you can make creating New Year’s resolutions a family event. Give your children a pen and paper for them to write out three goals that they want to accomplish. You can ask questions to help get them started:

  • What hobby, sport or instrument do you like?
  • What is your favorite food?
  • How many books did you read this year?

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While they develop their goals, work on a few of your own. Make this time together a chance for your children to experience your “grown-up” life. When all of you are all finished writing out your New Year’s resolutions, take turns reading them out loud to each other. Reasonable, well-thought-out goals can empower your children to achieve something that they had not considered before.

Tack up your lists on a pin board or put them on the fridge. Review them occasionally throughout the year to see how everyone is doing. At the year’s end, have a celebration, whether you hit your goals or not, and start planning for next year!

GODDARD SYSTEMS MAKES ANNUAL DONATION OF TOYS TO TOYS FOR TOTS

Franchisor of National Play-Based Preschool Donates 230 Toys Following the 2017 Toy Test.

Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the national franchisor of The Goddard School preschool system, is pleased to announce that it surpassed last year’s donation to Toys for Tots by 50 toys.

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Two hundred and thirty toys, including 100 of this year’s winning Toy Test toy, Melissa & Doug Star Diner Restaurant Play Set, were donated to Toys for Tots this year to help Toys for Tots fulfill its mission of providing gifts to less-fortunate children during the holiday season.

GSI employees donated 130 toys, which is up from the 80 toys donated in 2016.

Following the November announcement of the winning Toy Test toy, GSI purchased 100 Melissa & Doug Star Diner Restaurant Play Sets to donate to Toys for Tots. Every year, GSI purchases 100 of the winning Toy Test toy and donates the toys to the program, which is run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve.

Since 2008, Goddard Schools have hosted an annual Toy Test to determine the best educational toys of the year with help from the most discerning toy critics: preschoolers. The Goddard School Toy Test Committee evaluates dozens of toys submitted by the world’s most popular toy manufacturers every year. Committee members select educational toys that best support child-initiated play and collaboration, among other criteria, to pass to the next round of judging. Preschoolers from 50 Goddard School locations nationwide then play with the toys, and their teachers help them select the top 10 toys. The public then votes on the best toy from the 10 finalists to select a winner. 

“Fun, interactive programs like our annual Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test are successful because they allow children to think critically while developing their social, creativity and collaboration skills,” said Dr. Craig Bach, GSI’s Vice President of Education. “This experience provides children with the opportunity to engage with the top educational products on the market that are aligned with The Goddard School’s philosophy of learning through play.”

Past preschooler-approved Toy Test winners include Laser Pegs, K’NEX, Learning Resources and the 2016 Toy Test winner, the John Deere’s Gearation Board.

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

 

Toys for Tots Donation 2017!

Each year Goddard Systems, Inc. holds a collection for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. In addition to the toys collected from our employees at the corporate office, Goddard Systems purchased and donated 100 of the winning toy from our Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, the Melissa & Doug® Star Diner Restaurant Play Set!

Thank you to all of those who donated and those who helped vote for our top toy! We wish everyone a very happy holiday!

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Pictured from left: Bob Scopinich, CFO; Rich Agar, VP, Operations; Craig Bach, VP, Education; Joe Schumacher, CEO; Jim DiRugeris, VP, Franchise Development; Renee Benedict, VP, Information Technology and Paul Koulogeorge, VP, Marketing, Advertising & PR.

 

Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day

It’s Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day, which means you can travel in the past or future. It’s a day to go on a world expedition through time with your child. Ask your child to help you choose where you both should go.

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Once you decide, look for some fun movies from that era or research what food may have been or will be popular during that time. Have a day focused on the place where you plan to time travel with your child and document all your memories from that day.

When and where are you and your child thinking of traveling?

International Civil Aviation Day

On December 7 of every fifth year, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) holds a special celebration of its anniversary. On this day, the ICAO Council creates a theme for each fifth anniversary. The theme they chose in 2014 for 2015 -2018 is “Working Together to Ensure No Country is Left Behind,” which means to keep all countries up-to-date on the current standards of safety, security and emissions.

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By celebrating International Civil Aviation Day, our children can begin to see the positive influence that ICAO has on the economic and social development of the participating countries. Talk with your child and brainstorm ideas about how your family, friends and community can get involved to help countries in need:

  • Think about starting an aviation oriented pen pal project and include your local school or library to help facilitate it;
  • Consider holding a charity drive to collect items needed in less fortunate countries, and explain to your child how aviation will deliver the items you collect.

What are some ways that you can convey the message of “Working Together to Ensure No Country Is Left Behind” to your children?

 

National Day of Listening

Sometimes we should be listening to our children rather than talking to them. When our children do something wrong, instead of immediately telling them what they did wrong, listen to why they did it and ask them why they think it was wrong. Today is the National Day of Listening. At dinner tonight, ask your children what is happening in their world and genuinely listen to them. It’s important for us to listen to our children to fully understand what is going on in their lives.

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Let your friends and family know what today is and remind them to listen to their children and their loved ones as well.

Thankfulness

The fourth Thursday of November is when we prepare our bellies to receive lots of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and more. It’s Thanksgiving! Amid all the bustling of cooking, cleaning and getting your family ready for this filling holiday, don’t forget to tell your loved ones how thankful you are to have them. A great way to show them how you feel is through poetry.

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Here’s a haiku to help get you started.

Thank you for your love.

Your bright smile warms my heart.

I’m thankful for you.

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