Help Ease Back to School Anxiety

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Does your child (or you) have anxiety about heading back to school this year? Here are 5 easy ways to help you both ease those jitters and get excited.

1. Shop with your child before school starts. Let them pick out a new outfit they feel confident in and get school supplies they are excited to start using. Your child wear school uniforms? No problem. Shop for a fun backpack and/or accessories such as headbands and socks.

2. Fun family picture. Place in your child’s backpack, folder or notebook as a reminder of all the people that are proud of them and are supporting them while they tackle that first day.

3. Remain calm yourself. Refrain from showing signs of your own anxiety. Children are often more perceptive then we realize. Act excited and consistently talk about how wonderful this day is going to be rather then that fact that you will miss your child.

4. Redirect negative thoughts. When your child talks about nervousness or worries about that first day back to school, respond with, “I understand those concerns but there are so many wonderful things to think about too. What are the top three things that you are most looking forward to?”

5. Walk and/or drive to school (or school bus stop) with a friend. Before the day starts, make sure your child has someone with them whom is experiencing the first day back as well. Kids show amazing resiliency if they feel they are not alone. If possible, have breakfast with a friend’s family before heading off to the school building to both have fun and alleviate some back to school jitters!

 

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Back to School Style for The Successful Child

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We still have plenty of time to enjoy the summer days at the pool wearing our bathing suits and weekends spent by the beach in shorts, but everyone knows that back to school shopping is just around the corner.  Retailers are vying for your attention through commercials and ads plastered on billboards to choose them to supply your child’s fall wardrobe.  Every savvy parent wants their little one to look cool and trendy but some children’s fashions may not be an appropriate choice for during the school day.  As a teacher, I have seen many “fashion fails” sit in my classroom.  My ten years as an educator in early childhood have helped me devise a list of helpful tips to keep in mind while you are purchasing your promising little pupil’s new duds.  Following these guidelines can ensure a stress free and successful back to school shopping experience.

Minimize Accessories. Nothing is cuter than a little girl with bling or a little boy in a superhero cape, however, wearing these extra accessories can become a distraction during the school day.  Students play with them while they should be paying attention to what their teacher is teaching.  They can also distract fellow classmates.  Many of these accessories can get lost or stolen.  You want your kids to focus at school so think of leaving these “extras” at home.

Functional Footwear. Interactive learning is all the rage in schools.  Kinesthetic approaches to academics engage students to maximize learning and make school fun.  Make sure that your child wears functional footwear such as sneakers, flat shoes, or boots to ensure full participation in any of these activities. It is very possible that your child may be moving, jumping, dancing, or running even on days when they do not have gym class.   Avoid flip-flops, high heels, and wheel-y shoes to ensure full and safe participation.  Also, make sure your child’s shoes fit properly and are not too small.  Socks should be worn with sneakers to ensure comfort and proper fit.

Machine Washable Fabrics. When purchasing new clothes, please read the care label to ensure easy laundering.  Classrooms can be breeding grounds for germs.  Make sure you wash your child’s clothing after each wear to minimize the transfer of illness or bed bugs back to your home.

Age Appropriate Logos/Phrases. Please proof-read any words or phrases gracing the garb of your child.  Designers are tending to write things that may be rude or sexual in nature on shirts and pants.  School should be a friendly and safe place for all students.  A teacher or another student could be offended by an off- putting graphic or logo.  Make sure whatever is plastered across your child’s chest or behind is age appropriate.

Child Friendly Clothing. Our kids want to fit in and wear the coolest sneakers or the trendiest jeans just like their classmates.  Style is unique and we do not want to hinder personal expression at a young age.  We also want our kids to fit in.  With that being said, please make sure you spend time teaching your child how to put on these garments alone.  Teach your child to zip and unzip, tie and untie, button and unbutton.  Please understand that teachers legally cannot dress or undress your child.  If your child is unable to handle typical closures please consider alternatives such as Velcro, slip on shoes, elastic waist bands or magnets.

Happy Back to School shopping!

Thank you to Alyssa Goldinger, an experienced NYC teacher, for sharing this advice with all of our families!

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Avoiding Bedtime Battles

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We still have a month left, but now that summer is coming to a close, it’s important to get your child back into a bedtime routine. Follow these rules to minimize the bedroom battles.

Routine. Establish a plan of action to follow with your child every night. A common one is the “4 B’s”: Bath, Brush Teeth, Books, and Bed. Providing a transitional object, including stuffed animals or a favorite blanket, can help your child get ready for bed and ease separation. Find what works best for your family, but make sure you are consistent in whatever routine you choose.

Consistency. Make sure bedtime is the same time every night. Keep in mind little ones need between 9-12 hours of sleep depending on their age, toddlers need more time then school aged children.

Choices. When preparing for bedtime, make sure to give your child choices using “either-or” questions. For example “Do you want to wear the blue or green pajamas?” or “Do you want to skip or walk to the bedroom?” Avoid asking open-ended questions, it creates more confusion and frustration resulting in unnecessary battles.

Winding down”. About a half-hour before starting the bedtime routine, give your child the opportunity to ease into the process. End stimulating activities for the evening, such as watching TV and playing physical games, and try engaging in more relaxing and calming activities, like coloring or reading.

Environment. Make sure the bedroom temperature is cool (generally between 67-70 degrees), dark and quiet. Eliminate any stimulating activities, such as TV, electronics or screens of any kind.  A white nose machine, fan or quiet music may be used, but make sure the volume is very low so it is soothing.

Remember, kids will most likely not respond immediately to the new bedtime rules you put in place and there may even be some push back, BUT do not give up! If you are consistent and keep up with the routine, over time the bedtime battles will decrease and eventually disappear!

 

 

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It’s Humid, Muggy and Hot…Play in the Indoor Sandbox

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With this humid, muggy and hot weather, indoor sandboxes are less sand and a lot more muck, however, you don’t have to give up the fun. If you are looking for indoor summertime activities for your child, in order to beat the heat…make your own sand-free sandbox at home!  It takes two minutes to prepare and provides hours of fun!

1. Take a large tupperware bin, container or a large pan of any kind.

2. Fill with dry rice and/or oats.

3. Insert sand toys and play away!

NOTE: place a sheet under the container for easy pickup when done!

Happy playing without the humidity, mugginess or heat!

 

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Summer Healthy Snacks on the Go!

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Now that it’s summer, everyone is out and about. Whether you are flying, driving or just walking down the street to the park, one thing is certain…you can’t leave home without a healthy snack bag!  As any parent or caregiver knows, the one thing every child requires is energy. Sometimes replenishing this energy in a healthy way can be a challenging task, especially when on the go!  This summer try some of these easy portable healthy snacks that kids love and you can feel good about giving them!

Frozen grapes! This one involves little to no prep time and is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  Simply take grapes (make sure they are seedless for the little mouths) and put them in the freezer.  Once frozen, the grapes will taste cool and tart, making them as refreshing as ice cream on a hot day, but without any of the added sugar and fat!

Make your own trail mix. This is a great way to get kids involved! Kids are much more likely to eat anything they feel they have made themselves. Set out nuts, granola, and dried fruit. Let them go to town combining all 3, by placing it in a snack bag and shaking it up to create the perfect snack they can grab and go.

Cheese and fruit kabobs. Take regular cheese and use a cookie cutter to make fun shapes with it; then stick it on a kabob with pieces of fruit (berries, orange slices, grapes, kiwi, etc).  For a time saver, skip the cookie cutter and buy the cubed cheese which is kabob ready out of the bag!

Tortilla roll ups! This snack is sure to keep those kids moving with it’s killer combination of whole grain and protein.  Take peanut butter and spread it lightly over a whole wheat tortilla.  Add bananas or you can substitute fruit spread.  Roll it up and either leave whole (like a tube) or cut into bite size pieces.

Black Bean brownies! This one is a secret recipe for moms and caregivers alike.  Take regular brownie mix and add one pound of unseasoned, undrained pureed black beans and NOTHING else; bake at 350 for 35 minutes..  This snack will trick your kids into thinking it’s a real treat but you will smile knowing they just ate their beans and replenished all the protein they need to keep moving.

Enjoy your summer and healthy snacks everyday!

 

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5 Must Follow Tips for Heading to The Beach with Children!

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Summer is here and what better place to go then the beach?  Beach days offer fun and excitement to children of all ages; however, it can often seem like a daunting task for parents.  Follow these 5 tips and your beach day will truly be “as easy and relaxing as a day at the beach”!

1. Bring sun coverage. We don’t just mean lather on the sunscreen (an obvious)…bring a tent, large umbrella or other object that will provide respite from the heat. This allows for a sun break and offers a place for little ones to nap, if needed.

2. Plan for hunger, thirst and scope out a sand-friendly place to eat. Portable prop up trays and/or tables are great to keep sand out of food, and consequently, out of children’s mouths.  Kids use up a lot of energy in the sun and water, so bring nutrient dense foods, apples, cheese sticks, frozen grapes, peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat (avoid any meats), hummus and veggies. Also, prepare frozen water bottles because everything melts so quickly. By the time the children are thirsty, it will have turned from ice to ice cold water.

3. Aim for “comfy” weather.  Go early in the day or late in the afternoon rather then the middle of the day when the heat is at it’s highest. Overall, this will make your day more enjoyable and the chances of sunburns are a lot less.

4. While lifeguards are a must, they are not a replacement for mom and dad. Don’t rely solely on the lifeguards; make sure you watch your child at all times! Also, other parents are not responsible for your children.  If you want to rest and relax yourself, bring a babysitter or a friend who can take on “supervision duty” while you take a break.

5. Bring toys and rely on Mother Nature to provide entertainment when taking breaks from the water and waves. Children love the water, but it’s important to break, rehydrate and reapply sunscreen consistently. Bring sand toys to keep your child busy. Also, remember Mother Nature provides entertainment. Look for seashells, start a collection that you can bring home to paint or string the ones with holes to make a souvenir necklace! This will help to avoid a fight when you tell them to get out of the water.

The beach is a place to make many wonderful family memories. If you are prepared, it will be a great bonding experience for families of all sizes and children of all ages. Life should always be as wonderful as a day at the beach!

 

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Giving Your Kids “The Talk”

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It makes you uncomfortable just thinking about having to talk to your kids about it. You still remember when your parents tried to talk to you about it – or maybe you’ve completely blocked it out of your memory. Somehow, it feels like they’re too young to even talk to about this, but you know you’ll have to do it sooner or later, or someone else will.

So, when is the best time to start talking to your kids about money?

Our philosophy – it’s never too early, and it’s never too late. But who has the time? Where do you start? And how comfortable are you anyway with your kids asking you questions about your money situation?

Your kids become aware of the fact that you use money to pay for things as young as 3 years old, so it makes sense to start having these conversations with them as early as possible, especially when you take them on errands to the bank or grocery shopping, or when you take them to the toy store and end up buying them yet another Lego set. The infographic below gives you some guidelines on how to talk to your kids about money using the 3 C’s – Consistency, Connection, and Choice:

 

Check out some simple suggestions for how to use the 3 C’s to turn writing your grocery list into a financial learning experience:

  • Consistency: gives kids an idea of what essential food items you need to buy for the house
  • Connection: start a dialogue with your child about needs and wants and when it’s okay to buy wants
  • Choice: involve kids in the shopping process and decrease the requests for random things at the store as you both decided exactly what you need

Thank you to our friends at Pockets Change for sharing this advice!

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“Cool” Summer Time Activity for Children on a Record Heat Day

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On a hot summer day when the heat has reached record highs, what can you do with your children to let their creativity flow and also keep cool? We have a fun summer time activity for children that will score record points with your kids and also make you “cool” in a child’s lingo way.

1. Place a teaspoon of tempera paint in each section of an ice cube tray, including all different “cool” color options.

2. Fill tray with water and stir with toothpicks; let the tray stand for about 10 minutes and then mix again.

3. Place the trays in the freezer until frozen.

4. Pop the ice cubes out and let your little Picasso at the paper. Have them drag the ice across the paper. Use any design and color! The picture will appear once the ice melts.

5. Have fun beating the heat and watch your children cool off creatively during this summer time activity.

NOTE: PLEASE watch little ones as they paint. Be sure not to allow them to eat ice cubes and only use paint trays to make ice, not trays intended for ingestion.

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My Child is Scared of The July 4th Fireworks…

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It’s easy to forget that for a small child, this year’s July 4th fireworks display may be the first time it has even occurred to them that huge, fiery balls of color loudly exploding in the sky could be a good thing!

Here are some tips to have an anxiety-free July 4th!

1. Prepare little ones. Watch movies featuring fireworks displays, explain what they are, prepare your child for the noise, and reassure them that the fireworks are very far away. Tell them not to be scared that the fireworks cannot fall on them. Introduce earplugs and demonstrate how the noise changes significantly when wearing them. This may help them feel ready for what they’ll see and hear.

2. Go for a trial run. Visit the location of the fireworks, search online for examples of what fireworks look and sound like. Many communities have fireworks days leading up to July 4th, however, they aren’t quite as big and loud as the real deal. This can still be a good way to gauge your child’s initial reaction and help them get a taste of what’s to come.

3. Location, location, location. If you are going to “venture out” and try the fireworks, find a well lit, not too crowded area that is easily escapable to make a quick exit. If you feel that your child is too scared and cannot handle being outside with the fireworks, try watching from a window (car or house) so they don’t miss out on the complete experience.

4. Make a home-based plan. If you have multiple kids, some enthusiastic some not, divide-and-conquer strategy in which one parent/family member takes the kids who are not scared to watch, while the others stay at home and do something that’s “fun” for them.

Happy Independence Day!

 

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Fun Math Activities to Avoid Summer Regression

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Just because there’s no homework, syllabi or grades over the summer does not mean you should forget about learning.  Exit: your child’s teacher…enter: YOU! Summer regression is a real thing and it can happen to the best of us. In fact, students typically lose 2.5 months of learning over the break. Avoid summer regression in your household by incorporating math into some of your child’s favorite summer activities.

Cook and/or bake. Find fun recipes that incorporate mixing and measuring. Put your child in charge of the numbers.  For an added challenge, add in a few extra fractions and multiplication problems by making a “bakers dozen” or a “double batch”.

Schedule a day trip or vacation. Allow your child to play a role in planning. Establish a budget. Determine how much gas will be need based on how many miles you will be going. Also, figure out how much time you can allocate to each activity, etc…the numbers are endless!

Hold a game night. Playing games are a great way to incorporate math. Many games require adding numbers on a dice, counting numbers of moves, and keeping track of scores.  Some of our favorites include: Rush hour, Sumoku, Sum Swamp, Head Full of Numbers, Monopoly, Sorry, Candyland, Bingo, Life, Trouble, Chutes and Ladders, and for the real little ones Richard Scarry’s “I Found It”.

Play sports. When you take your child out to the ball game, have them keep track of the score and figure out the batting average of their favorite player.  Also, keep track of the team records and compare who’s best in the league.

Grow a garden. This doesn’t need to be in a large area, it can simply be in a windowsill. Have your little one help determine the amount of water and soil needed.  Measure the growth of the plants each week.  Count the buds of flowers. Track during which month and week the plants show the most growth.

These math activities will not only avoid summer regression, but add more quality family time. *Added bonus: they will be having so much fun they won’t even realize they’re learning!

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