Blizzard Snow Day Activities For When You’re Stuck Inside

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Snow days are very exciting for children, but can wreck havoc on the plans of parents who all of a sudden find themselves at home without any “plans” for the day. With the threat of cabin fever looming ahead, don’t panic! Here are 5 simple ideas that will keep your little ones occupied on snow days this winter. Bonus: You will all have fun with them while stuck inside during a blizzard!

1. Bubble paint: Mix paint into bubble solution and use the bubble wand to blow bubbles over construction paper. Watch the colors pop and make a beautiful painting!

2. Indoor bowling: Take empty water bottles and fill them with a little water to anchor them. At the end of a hallway or up against a wall, set the bottles up (6 work well) in a triangle, roll the ball and hit those pins! Younger kids should use a larger ball, but older children can use a tennis ball for a bigger challenge.

3. Make story stones: Take smooth round stones, if you don’t have stones in the house, you can use blocks, or cardboard box “cut out” cards, and place a sticker on each one. Make the stickers into open-ended words/phrases that will intrigue your child, such as animals, or people. Move the stones around using them to create different stories. See how many stories you can come up with. Your child will have so much fun they won’t know they are actually learning!

4. Have an indoor snowball fight: Instead of going outside in a blizzard, crumple white or blue paper up into a ball and cover in plastic wrap until there is a smooth, opaque layer. Use a hairdryer to heat the edges so that they won’t unravel. Repeat these steps until you have as many snow balls as you want and then time to play!

5. Use dry erase markers on windows: Dry erase markers are easy to wipe away on glass. Kids can use the markers to draw spontaneously or create designs, and play educational games. Let their imagination take over, by having them draw a blizzard scene. Try a “math contest”, allowing children to take turns answering different problems, or a game of hangman, challenging your child with this week’s spelling words.

We know being stuck at home on a snow day can be daunting, but try these activities to pass the time, and have loads of fun! Happy snow day!

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Re-Writing the ‘Kid’s Menu’ by utilizing the “Add On Method”

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During the 1950s – 60s, the idea of “kid foods” versus “adult food” grew out of the arrival of fast food, boxed meals, and processed snacks. It wasn’t long before the amount of sugar in these foods began to rise.  Today, sugar is added to almost every product on the market and even more so in foods marketed to kids. Science has now proven that sugar is an addictive property – even more so than cocaine! We also know and that our brains are wired to crave the foods we are given and reject foods that do not contain these addictive qualities, and your picky eater was born!

The best way to combat this is to begin at infancy and make your own baby food, create home cooked meals each night feeding your toddler the same food you consume. That is just not the reality for many of us. There is, however, a way to combat the picky eater or sugar addicted child by utilizing the “Add on Method.” Begin introducing 2 new healthy adult foods per week. Allow your child to try those foods multiple times. Studies show that it may take up to 10 tries for our brain to figure out if we like something! Yes, your kids will fight you on this one and that’s never easy, but it is certainly worth the long-term health benefits. Try cutting the portion of “kid food” in half and giving them tastes of the salmon and asparagus you made for yourself. This allows them to try the new food but doesn’t insist that they eat a large portion or go without, as their familiar food is still an option. Try not to allow options for the main dish as this teaches that they do not need to learn to like new foods. Slowly transition the processed “kid” foods out of the picture as they come to like more real foods. Remember YOU are in charge of what comes into your home and what is offered for meals and snacks. Rest assured, research shows that children will not go hungry and will eat what you make available to them.

Thank you to Kylie Reiffert for sharing this advice with our families!

Kylie Reiffert is a nutritionist and holistic health expert with an educational background in both biochemistry and nutrition. She works with individuals and families constructing individualized nutrition plans to help you and your family reach optimum health, “Because YOU’RE Not Everyone and Everyone is Not YOU!” For more information email krnutritionfoods@gmail.com

 

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Introducing Whine and Wine Parties!

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There’s no manual for parenting, but there is something better – The Successful Child’s Whine and Wine Party! Our gatherings are where parents, relatives and friends can connect with our certified experts on topics related to child behavior, learning, social skills and more. Based on the groups needs, each party is a custom-tailored experience.

Presentations are interactive and entertaining. Experts come to the host’s location of choice and present valuable and actionable information in a fun and personal way, while the guests Whine and Wine the night away.  Guests leave with new knowledge and parenting tools, plus it’s a perfect excuse to have a fun night out with friends!

Sign up now to host your Whine and Wine Party!

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Ways to Stop Yelling at Your Kids

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When you’ve had a really long day (week, month, year) and you’re exhausted, the last thing that you want to deal with is a misbehaving child. It’s a habit that many parents resort to when they are at their wits end. In an attempt to break a “bad” habit, here are tips to use in your household to prevent yourself from yelling at your kids the next time they get out of hand:

Take care of yourself. Prioritize sleep, exercise, alone time (me-time) and adult time. This allows yourself to be healthy, engage in positive relationships and avoid high stress levels.

Schedule Family Fun Time. Engage the family in activities that allow positive interactions, including movie time, snuggling, and hopefully, laughing and talking as much as you can.

Know your Triggers and Pick your Battles. What sets you off? Take preventive measures so that you can teach yourself how to handle specific situations OR discover what you can do to avoid putting yourself in those situations.

Plan Ahead and Give Fair Warning. Be clear on expectations so there is no confusion. Also, make sure there are no surprises and that your child is aware of transitions and/or any changes that are about to happen.

Walk away and take deep breaths. When it gets ugly, your gut reaction is to scream. Instead, try to put your mind in a relaxed state by walking away, counting to 10 and taking deep breaths.

Get Physical. You might prefer to jog in place or do jumping jacks. This helps to release stress and helps to distract you before you are ready to face the problem head on.

Wait several minutes before returning (depending on age). Once you have calmed your nerves, you can address your child in a more productive manner. This also gives your child time to think about the situation.

Squeeze an object. Remember those squeezable stress toys that you loved as a child? Break them out again (or invest in new ones)! Take all your anger out on the ball OR Play-Doh, before resorting to yelling. You will appreciate it in the long run!

Lower your Expectations. Research what is developmentally appropriate for your child. Don’t expect a young child to be able to sit quietly for hours in the car or at a library, when that is more then they can handle.

Whisper. This will get the attention of your child and makes them focus more to hear what you have to say instead of tuning you out.

Most importantly….

Ask for Help. Taking care of young children can be exhausting and overwhelming. If you need, ask for help from family, friends or professionals. Take a break and the time to rejuvenate yourself.

Forgive yourself. When all else fails and you can’t hold back, don’t beat yourself up. Use it as a learning experience and note that the next time you will respond differently.

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Play Outside in the Cold!

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When the temperatures drop, often so does the desire to get out and play. It’s important to remember that cold air doesn’t hurt children; however, a lack of fresh air and too much indoor time does.  Follow these simple tips to make playing outside fun and safe, even with the bitter temperatures:

Dress Warm. Wear layers: a couple of shirts, sweater, warm socks, boots, gloves/mittens and a coat. Also, invest in good thermal underwear for kids. They can be pricey, but well worth the money.  Wool thermal keeps kids warm even in subzero temperatures and keep them from overheating at the same time.

Start a Routine. The more that you play outside, the more likely you will continue to go out. Research has shown that playing outside lowers anxiety and stress for children as well as adults.

Discover New Places. When your “go-to” park is not an option because of the weather, go for a long walk. Remember, it is most important to get fresh air, but it doesn’t matter where you get it.

Use your Imagination. Build a Fort or a snowman. Go on a wildlife hike and look for other creatures that might be out there.

Go on a Winter Scavenger Hunt. Make a list of items that you might see outside, like pinecones, acorns and squirrels and compete to see who can find them first.

Stay Well Hydrated. Cold weather inspires us to drink hot cocoa and coffee, but we still need water, especially with increased physical activity.

Wear Sunblock. The sun that glares on the snow can be intense, it is important to protect yourself.

Have a Treat. When you return home, enjoy a mug full of hot chocolate to warm you up! :)

Don’t let Mother Nature keep you a prisoner. Get outside and have some fun! You’ll be glad you did…

 

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Help Improve Your Child’s Work and Study Habits in 2015

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For the start of 2015, one of your goals as a parent should be to help your child improve their work and study habits. The good news is that it’s not too late to turn things around for the remainder of this school year AND by making these changes now, you can also setup them up for a higher performance into the future. Here are tips to get you started:

Notes should be organized and complete. If information is incomplete or missing, have your child consult with the teacher and/or another student in the class to review material and ensure that all information is correct.

Schedule ahead of time. Prepare for completion of assignments and tests in advance.  If possible, break up the task into shorter sections. This will ensure that you are not working on everything at once leading up to the final due date and/or test.

Make sure that your child is not hungry. If your child hasn’t eaten, not only is their energy level down, but it also decreases their ability to focus on the material.

Encourage short breaks. If your child tries to complete their work/studying in one long seating, they might “burn out” or become overwhelmed with the material/information. During a study session, include several little breaks to rest their eyes and mind.

Review with peers. Research has shown that bouncing information off of other students can be helpful with comprehension and retaining information. Make sure that they are using time appropriately, and not just for socializing.

Avoid using Social Media, computer and/or video games. Set aside a special time to complete these activities. Times that they should be studying aren’t appropriate times for your child to be on Facebook or playing video games. They are distracting and taking attention away from studying and the task at hand.

Using these strategies should help you and your student be more organized in the upcoming year and allow you to have more quality time, rather then cramming (usually leading to yelling) at the last minute!

 

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10 Great Tips for Keeping Children Reading and Writing Over Winter Break

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Winter break is approaching and for children that means…no school! Even though they will be free from formal lessons, it doesn’t mean that their education has to go “on hold.”  Here are some fun activities that incorporate reading and writing without having to hear  “I am on vacation; I don’t want to do it!”

1. Set up “read-a-thons.” Pick a time of day to curl up on the sofa or big bed and read together. Take turns reading pages out of one book or choose individual books. The important part is that the whole family is participating.

2. Create Competitions. Challenge your young readers to a contest to see who can read more. Keep track of the number of pages read and/or time spent reading. Children take a lot of pride in “beating” mom and dad.

3. Write a story together.  Spend time together by creating a story.  Start with “T’was the night before Christmas when….” Or “One winter’s day…” and let your imaginations roll.

4. Keep a journal.  Every day, have family members write brief summaries of the fun, winter activities they have experienced and what they are looking forward to doing the next day. Before bed, have your child read out loud what he or she has written that day.

5. Bake or cook.  Pick out fun recipes to make together and have your child read the ingredients and steps aloud. It is a good way to sneak in reading and have a favorite treat.

6. Create a schedule. Make reading a priority. Set aside a specific time each day to  read and keep it consistent. First thing in the morning would be ideal, before any fun activities wear your little one out.

7. Present a “surprise book” each night. Let your child have something to look forward to at bedtime. During the day, create a game in which children try to guess what the book will be about that night. There is no need to buy a book for each day; check out a stack from the library and keep them hidden.

8. Create incentives. Before summer break begins, discuss with your children something that they can individually earn by reading 20 minutes a day. Create a chart to track their progress each day. In turn, they will feel a sense of achievement.

9. Create a game. Stop reading at any point and have your child, without showing where you are in the text, jump in and finish the paragraph. If your child does not know where you are immediately, that’s a point for you; however, if your child jumps right in, he or she earns the point. Keep track of points to determine a winner at the end.

10. Find books that coordinate with activities of the day.  For instance, if you are going ice skating, find a book about a famous ice hockey player or figure skater; if you are sledding, find a book about a blizzard; if you are watching a movie, find a book about Hollywood.

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My Child Spends Hours Completing School Assignments… How Can I Help Identify the Problem?

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It’s mid-November and we are approaching winter break, but before you take your vacation or staycation, you really want to discover the root of the problem. Why does my child have such difficulty completing school assignments?? Isn’t the point of homework to reinforce the lessons in school and not create confusion or a struggle at home? So that you can put your mind at ease to start out the new year fresh, while helping your child complete their school work and homework more successfully, here is a list of questions that you should use to guide you and discuss in more detail with your child’s teacher(s).

1. Does my child understand the classroom lessons so that they can complete any projects/homework/follow-up assignments that they are based on? Maybe information needs to be presented to them in a different way so that they understand the lesson and in turn allows your child to complete assignments.

2. Is there too much information presented in the lessons to comprehend for completion of assignments? Maybe assignments are too long and need to include less information for them to comprehend the material.

3. Does my child understand and follow the directions on assignments? Does my child understand what is being asked of them when completing school assignments? Maybe they sit for an hour contemplating how to tackle the assignment when they do not understand what is being asked of them OR maybe they complete the assignment incorrectly because the directions are unclear.

4. Does my child ask for assistance to complete assignments, when needed? It is okay to ask for help and children do not always necessarily know that it is OKAY. Make it clear that they SHOULD ask for help if and when needed.

5. Does my child complete school assignments to the best of their ability or rush to complete it to say that it is finished? Most children would prefer to engage in something that is more “fun” than a school assignment. Are they motivated to complete assignments properly or are they more interested in completing assignments, especially homework, quickly and with careless mistakes so that they can move on to the next activity or not be bothered by the assignments.

 

 

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Staying Healthy Over the Holidays

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Fall is here and Winter is on its way. While the coming months are a wonderful time of fellowship, family time, and holiday fun, the weather is taxing, calendars become full. Come January we feel as though we’ve been through a whirlwind of drink, food, and lack of exercise time. Our children are affected as well. They also experience an influx of sugar and excitement, lack of family dinners and structure around food. The following are my top 3 tips that can help your family eat healthy all year round and provide a structure and buffer to keep you on track for these busy months ahead.

The following are my top 3 tips sure to keep you and your kids healthy during this season:

1. Plan to sit down to Family Meals at least 4 times per week.

For children nutrition and health begin and end with family dynamic and parental modeling. Providing this structure and sticking to it ensures that family time is carved into even the busiest of weeks. Family meals should be planned out ahead of time allowing more nutritious food to become the priority. Studies show that family dinners lower the rates of obesity, eating disorders, helps to bolster self-esteem, grades, and has shown to build vocabulary better than reading!

For more information, inspiration, and recipes check out:

http://thefamilydinnerproject.org

2. Model healthy behaviors and your child will follow suit: TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

“Children learn to eat the food their parents eat,” said the great Ellyn Satter who quite literally wrote the book(s)on how to feed children at all ages.

This suggestion may be the hardest to change, because as busy adults our habits and choices tend to take a backseat to work and caretaking.  There is good reason however to allow the health of your children to be the motivation to evaluate those habits and make your own dietary changes a priority!  A startling 90% of the eating habits of adolescents and children are determined by what your child sees YOU model! Simply by role modeling a healthy diet, eating at the table and not skipping meals, there is no doubt you’ll have your entire family eating healthier and developing long lasting healthy habits in no time.

3. Pay attention to the physical and behavioral effects and changes food has on your child.

Last but not least, this tip may be the most important thing you can do to build, protect and promote your child’s health. Food is not created equal and neither are human beings, even children. We shouldn’t all eat the same “balanced diet” we hear about on the news. Why? It is because optimum health is not created equal! Each of us has a distinct bio-identity that can make a certain food medicine for one and yet poison for another. The best way to observe this in children is to watch for physical, physiological, and emotional changes that occur with food. Physical Changes include rashes, skin breakouts, drying or flaking of skin, or any irritations. Physiological can include GI distress (constipation, diarrhea, gas or bloating), headaches, body aches, fatigue, and nutrient deficiencies (height & weight issues) while emotional effects tend to promote hyper-activity, anxiety, aggression, depression, and in the case of those affected the exacerbation of autistic symptoms and ADHD symptoms.

Building a foundation of health for your family does take time, diligence, and patience, but making it a priority will no doubt lead to a healthy lifestyle now and in the years to come.

Thank you to Kylie Reiffert for sharing this advice with our families!

Kylie Reiffert is a nutritionist and holistic health expert with an educational background in both biochemistry and nutrition. She works with individuals and families constructing individualized nutrition plans to help you and your family reach optimum health, “Because YOU’RE Not Everyone and Everyone is Not YOU!” For more information email krnutritionfoods@gmail.com

 

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Holiday Travel with Kids Made Easy

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With holiday travel right around the corner a lot of people will be headed “over the river and through the woods” but as any parent knows, traveling with little ones is an adventure all on it’s own….and by the time you actually arrive at your destination you already need a vacation from your vacation.  Here are some easy and helpful tips to make sure your journey goes smoothly and you all arrive in good spirits no matter where you are going.

  • Pick a Time That Works Best for Your Family Routine:  Know your little one’s schedule and the most convenient time for your family to “get moving”. Some families are better leaving at night while the little ones sleep, while others are better hitting the road first thing in the morning. Also, keep in mind there might be traffic and/or delays depending on when you leave.
  • Engage the Kids In a Physical Activity Before Leaving: When traveling, children are often expected to sit for extended periods of time. Have them run around before getting in the car or plane so all that excess energy is already expended and they can tolerate sitting still for a longer period of time.
  • Leave Extra Time to Get To The Airport: Remember, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year. Make sure you have enough time to make your flight; but keep in mind, things always take longer
  • Don’t Allow Tech Toys to Replace “Real” Toys: While iPads, smartphones and tablets are great ways to occupy travel time you should expect delays (in the car or the airport) and all those devices have a tendency to run out of battery.  Make sure you have other activities readily available such as books, crayons, and small games (i.e., cards).  When all else fails, there is always “I spy” and there are many items you can “spy” in a crowded airport or packed automobile.
  • Bring Lots of Snacks: This may sound like a “duh” statement, but the key is to bring the right type of snacks.  Avoid anything sugary to prevent from amping a kid’s energy level. Sugar highs are never good when you’re confined to a plane or a car.
  • Listen to Audiobooks Together: This is a great activity that involves the
    entire family. You can check them out at the library so it won’t cost a thing and it is especially helpful on long drives.
  • Stick to Bedtime Routine: Obviously with any sort of travel, “routine” is interrupted. Don’t be stressed if nap time comes a little early or late, but try to your best to keep the kid’s on a sleep schedule. At nap time, quiet the conversation, put on relaxing music and pull down the window shade.

But most of all, no matter what “adventures” your travel leads to make sure you keep your sense of humor and enjoy the family time!  Happy holidays!

 

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