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Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Making Mornings Easier

Getting ourselves ready for work, our children ready for school and our pets ready for a day alone in the house can create a ton of stress in the morning and cause us to forget important steps in our morning ritual. For example, have you ever forgotten to send your child to school with a lunch or to take your dog out and later come home to a mess on the floor?

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Follow these steps the night before to help your mornings work seamlessly.

  1. Choose and lay out your outfit and accessories and assist your children in doing the same. You might want to try on outfits before bed to ensure you’ll be satisfied with them in the morning.
  2. Pack lunches for the whole family. It’s a great idea to encourage your children to help with their lunches, which will help teach them
  3. Check that their homework is done, and that any outstanding papers or permission slips are signed.
  4. Premeasure your pet’s food for the morning, making it quick and easy to place in their bowl.
  5. Put a list of things that need to be finished in the morning on your refrigerator and check it off so you don’t forget anything critical.

What are your family’s before-bed rituals that help your mornings run more smoothly?

 

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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Five Benefits of Family Meal Time

While it can twenty20_57c6a417-0cc7-4440-8840-1ca2d86f5dc0be challenging to find the time to eat meals as a family, it is important to try to make time for this oft-ignored tradition. Here are five benefits of eating meals together as a family.

  1. It gives you quality time together. Due to everybody’s different schedule, it can be difficult to spend time together  as a family. A regular meal time gives families a chance to regroup, talk and enjoy each other’s company.
  2. It helps reinforce good manners. Having a meal as a family is an excellent opportunity to practice good manners. The more you eat together, the more opportunities your children have to practice good manners.
  3. It promotes healthy eating. When you have meals together at home, you can easily control what your children are served. twenty20_9e57ce90-74c3-44d0-9f76-12c914a5e392Thus, you can add more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to the menu.  
  4. It helps expand children’s palates. Instead of serving rice, substitute quinoa. Or serve mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. If you’re serving chicken, add a side of tikka masala sauce for dipping. Having family meals together means more opportunities for trying and hopefully enjoying different foods.
  5. It helps save money. Many families will visit the local pizza shop or a fast food restaurant to save time, but the costs of doing so can add up quickly. It is much more cost effective to prepare and serve a meal at home than to go out to eat. Your family can put the money you save toward something else, such as a vacation or weekend outing.

Mealtime Makeover!

Sometimes, putting together a tasty and nutritious meal for our families can be difficult. Here are some tips for making dinnertime with our energetic little ones easier. twenty20_57c6a417-0cc7-4440-8840-1ca2d86f5dc0

  1. Gather your children at the table and ask them to draw simple items that you will rate from 1 to 10. Give high numbers to boost their self-confidence. They will enjoy this game before dinner, and you will appreciate the calmness of your lively preschoolers.
  2. Explain what you are cooking and let them participate. Children may be more excited to eat the food if they help prepare it. Some age-appropriate tasks might include washing veggies, measuring ingredients and setting the table.
  3. For a fun activity, have them create artwork to be laminated and used as placemats for the table. Your little ones will enjoy sitting down to eat more when they see their own pictures included in the table setting.
  4. To encourage children to eat new foods, talk to them about the different shapes and colors of the food while they are eating it. This is a great way to converse with your children. For them, dinner may seem more like a game than a meal.

What are some other ways to encourage your little ones to eat at dinnertime?

Siblings: First Friends

Siblings play a huge role in each other’s lives. Many siblings who are close in age become each other’s first friend. You can encourage a strong, long-term bond by letting your older child take care of his new brother or sister as much as possible.Siblings

Children learn a lot from their parents, and they also learn a lot from their siblings. It is best to encourage our children to have strong connections with one another for them to achieve stable social and emotional development. When children are close with their siblings, the transition to making friends at school is much easier. With siblings who are farther apart in age, the older child becomes a teacher who can explain how to make friends at school and how to behave in the classroom.

Along with being the first born, which is special in itself, your older child now has the extra special responsibility of being a role model for his little brother or sister.

What are some ways you encourage your children to bond with one another?

Five Benefits of Taking a Staycation

StaycationTaking a vacation with your family can be challenging, so try taking a staycation instead. Here are five benefits of enjoying time off at home.

  1. Give your wallet a break. The beauty of a staycation is that you don’t have to spend money on gas, air travel or hotels. An added bonus is that you can use some of that cash on day trips or activities, instead.
  2. Get to know your town. Taking a staycation gives you the chance to explore your community. Take your child to a local restaurant you haven’t tried yet, visit a nearby park or simply go for a stroll through your neighborhood.
  3. Reduce your stress. Staying at home means you and your child don’t have to sit in traffic, wait in line at the airport or adjust to different lodgings. You can simply relax.
  4. Enjoy the comfort of your own home. You and your child can sleep in your own beds, lounge on your own couch and cook up some treats in your own kitchen. The comforts of home are what make it “home, sweet home,” after all.
  5. Maximize your vacation time. Staycations reduce the amount of time spent traveling, checking into and out of hotels and planning an itinerary. The minute you’re home, you’re on vacation.

Baking with Children

  • twenty20 - BakingPut on aprons. The mess is part of the fun;
  • Older children can crack the eggs and measure wet and dry ingredients, while younger children can participate by pouring the pre-measured ingredients into the mixing bowl;
  • Show children that oil and water don’t mix by letting them stir the mix;
  • Create cut-outs with cookies cutters;
  • Be sure to encourage creativity and imagination when decorating your creations. Use festively colored frostings, sparkly sanding sugars, gumdrops, pre-cut fondant or homespun shapes. These are perfect for little fingers and make wonderful cookie decorations;
  • Don’t forget to taste test your creations;
  • Go with your children to deliver a plate of cookies to a neighbor or the local senior center. Giving and sharing can make children feel good.

Long Days, Short Years: Enjoy Them While You Can

by Michael Petrucelli, on-site owner of The Goddard School located in Darien, IL
As seen in Suburban Life Magazine

“Long days, short years.” How true these words are for parents. Several years ago, a mom with college age children said those words to me, and they resonate with me every day as a father, and as the owner of a preschool.

Family 03_jpgBeing a parent is one of the most challenging and most rewarding things we can experience in life. We are so busy trying to be the best parent we can be (while fulfilling our other obligations to work, family, and the community) that we may lose sight of how precious every moment with our children can be. It isn’t always easy to muster the energy to read a book with your child as part of a goodnight ritual after a long day. It isn’t always easy to take it a step slower at the store so that your children can look around and explore. It isn’t always easy to go outside after dinner to practice baseball or soccer with your children. It isn’t always easy, but it is always important.

My son is nearly twelve, my oldest daughter is nearly eleven, and my youngest daughter is eight. I remember the day each was born like it was yesterday. Along the journey, there have been plenty of sleepless nights filled with worry, illnesses, bumps and bruises, spills and messes, and emotional outbursts (not just by the kids), as parts of many long days. I have been fortunate to have been able to spend quality time with my children: just hanging out, coaching their sports teams, projects that always took extra time with my “helpers,” family dinners.

I remember a Saturday morning about two years ago though. I woke up to spend the day with my children, like we usually do. I was informed that everyone had a play date. I didn’t know what to do! This meant that the two-hour project I had to do, would only take two hours, and not three because my children wanted to “help.” It meant that I could sit down and read the newspapers without interruption. It didn’t feel good at first because it seemed like a very long day without them, but then I remembered that it is all a part of our journey through life together.

Keep all of this in mind as summer approaches. The “long” days of summer present extra opportunities to spend quality time with your children. Take a walk to a park or playground. Run around in the yard and play hide and seek or tag. Plant a vegetable garden, and check on the progress all summer. Visit the zoo, walk around a local town to explore, or find a nature preserve to visit. If the kids wake up early on Saturday or Sunday, rather than setting them in front of the TV, go for a walk or a run with them, or make a special breakfast together. We used to live not far from a small pond that we could pass by during a run. I would load up the double jog stroller with two of my children. We would bring bread, and I would stop our run so we could feed the ducks. We would then set back on our trek that was always filled with new things to see and discuss.

So when you are a little late getting out of the house because your son or daughter needs to say goodbye to the fish, or because they forgot a mitten, or your children wake up early on Saturday morning and want to play; try to cherish how long the days are, because the years are short.

Five Ways to Make Family Meal Preparation Easier

Sitting down to dinner with your family is great. You can recap your days, spend some time together and have some laughs. Between work, school and extracurricular activities, though, finding the time to sit down together can be challenging. Here are five ways to make preparing family meals easier.

  1. Prepare meals beforehand. Make a lot of a particular dish over the weekend and serve it throughout the week. For example, make a double batch of a casserole or a big batch of soup or chili and serve it every other day so you don’t have to worry about cooking on those nights.Family 03_jpg
  2. “Cheat” when you cook. Using frozen or pre-cut veggies and other prepared foods is an excellent way to save time when you cook. Also, a slow cooker lets you cook a full meal with less preparation.
  3. Keep meals simple. Plenty of fast, easy meals are also delicious and nutritious. The internet has a treasure trove of recipes to suit your family, your wallet, your schedule and your taste buds.
  4. Have breakfast for dinner. In a pinch, serve scrambled eggs, toast and fruit. Waffles or pancakes are easy, too. Eating mostly healthy foods is important, but sitting down with your family is important, too.
  5. Make dinner as a family. Having help can cut down on meal preparation time. Children can stir and roll out dough, and they can mix the vegetables you chopped into a salad. Cooking together is also a terrific bonding activity.

Celebrating Grandparents

National Grandparents Day falls on the first Sunday after Labor Day every year.  With well over 25 million more grandparents today than in 1980*, it is a holiday worth observing. Grandparents all over the country help care for their grandchildren, and they deserve to be recognized for the support they provide to their families.

Celebrate National Grandparents Day with some creative activities and gifts.

  • Create an ecard online. Ask your children to help you choose the card and compose a message;
  • Help your children write a note or draw a picture for their grandparents. You can also send a photo of your children with their grandparents. Add a stamp and address the envelope, and have your children place the note in the mailbox;
  • Help your little one craft a one-of-a-kind piece of art for their grandparents. You can even buy a frame for the artwork and present it to Grandma and/or Grandpa;
  • Bake something special for your children’s grandparents. If they have a favorite treat or snack, your little chefs can help you whip up something sweet for their grandparents. Wrap it up in a nice tin or container;
  • Schedule some one-on-one time for your little ones to bond with their grandparents. Grandparents love nothing more than uninterrupted time with their grandchildren.

Reading is another excellent way to share stories and bond. Here are some special books to share with your children’s grandparents:

  • Your Mommy Was Just Like You written by Kelly Bennett and illustrated by David Walker – Children wonder what their parents were like when they were young. In this story, a grandmother tells her granddaughter what her mother was like as a child.
  • You’re Lovable to Me written by Kat Yeh and illustrated by Sue Anderson – This story illustrates that parents’ love never wanes, no matter how young or old their children are.
  • One Love adapted by Cedella Marley and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton – This story adapts Bob Marley’s lyrics into a story about a family, including a grandmother, that works with the local community to build a park where everyone can play and enjoy the outdoors.
  • You’re Going to Be a Grandma! written by Deborah Zupancic and illustrated by Joel Grothaus – This book lets a grandmother-to-be record important information about her new grandchild.
  • Grandpa Green by Lane Smith – This special story is about a grandfather who may be losing his memory and his grandson bonding over the topiary garden the grandfather has lovingly maintained for many years.
  • Here Comes Grandma! by Janet Lord – This book whimsically illustrates the lengths a grandmother will go to see her grandchild.
  • The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster and Chris Raschka – This book is written from the perspective of a little girl whose grandparents are her caregivers. This book is great for grandparents to share with their grandchildren, especially if they often look after their grandchildren.

Make celebrating your children’s grandparents and yours an annual tradition.  While we may show our appreciation for them every day, National Grandparents Day gives us a special opportunity to show them extra love and attention and teach our children about the importance of respecting their elders.

*Source: The MetLife Report on American Grandparents