Saturday, November 26, 2011


Thanksgiving and Black Friday mark the “official beginning” for the Holiday Season. This is a great time to redirect some of our family attention on the media (that is bombarding us with sales and expenditures) to the TRUE meaning of the Holiday Season. Parents can take the opportunity to save money and teach their children lessons about generosity and kindness. No matter how elaborate your holiday giving plans, it is important to talk to children about the true meaning of the holidays and the spirit of kindness and generosity that surrounds this special time of year.

A growing trend among parents is to make the weekend after Thanksgiving an
opportunity for children to weed out their toy collection. As children get older, the toys they received in past years will become less appealing. As the holiday season approaches, children can take the opportunity to determine which of their gently used toys would be appropriate to donate to charities, orphanages, or children they know who are less fortunate.

Parents can give children freedom to make choices as they sort through thei
r toys and determine which to give away. One pile can be donated to charity and another to a younger sibling or family member, or perhaps to a friend. As parents sort through the toys with their children, they can involve the child in the decision making and ask where they think the toys should go.

Some children may have trouble parting with their toys. It can be human nature sometimes to hold on to what is "mine" even if the child doesn't play with the toy very often. However, parents can use this opportunity to talk to children about the importance of giving to others who may be less fortunate. Not every child is lucky enough to receive toys, and parents can teach their children to begrateful for what they have and compassionate to others. Many local charities will accept gently used toys in good condition.

Going through the toys can be a valuable bonding experience as well. As the child selects where the toy should go, you can ask them to share favorite memories about the toy. Use this time to remind children that these fun memories will stay with them even though the toy is going to make another child happy.

Other important and effective ways to foster, teach and encourage children with the true meaning of the Holiday Season are the following:

ü Get your children involved with volunteer work. There are countless opportunities for volunteering with church, civic, school, and charitable organizations. Just pick up the newspaper and you will find listings of ways in which the entire family can volunteer over the holidays.

ü Commit to quality family time over the holidays. Establish holiday rituals that don't involve buying lots of stuff or spending too much money. Baking cookies, doing a craft, reading a special book or setting family game/movie nights will provide with fond memories for all.

ü Talk about beginning the New Year with a family giving box and set it up during the Holiday Season. Everyone can regularly add a small amount of money to the box to contribute to a group or cause the family agrees to support.

ü Encourage children to make cards and gift certificates/coupons that loved ones may redeem with acts of generosity and kindness. In doing so you are teaching that the real meaning of the Holiday Season is NOT attached to a $ sign.

ü Think of someone without a family - a soldier, a distant relative, and a friend in the hospital - and write a letter as a family to make the person feel loved and included during the holidays. These letters can also include special friends and family members who we want to express our gratitude and appreciation for.

ü Be prepared to say “no”. Sometimes it’s not easy to say no, but you can do it. Get your mindset in gear to make what matters work--quality family time that will not get lost in the busyness or unnecessary expenditures of the season.

Why not make this the year to teach your children what’s important in life? Years from now, watch for the smiles as your adult children replay their memories and give thanks for the meaningful time you spent together. Enjoy the Holiday Season!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Gratitude is one of the trickiest concepts to teach -- but one of the most important. Although thankful children are more polite and pleasant to be around, there's more to it than that. By learning gratitude, children become sensitive to the feelings of others, develop empathy and other life skills along the way. Grateful children look outside their one-person universe and understand that their parents and other people do things for them -- prepare dinner, dole out hugs, teach, care for them, buy toys, ect. On the flip side, children who aren't taught to be grateful end up feeling entitled and perpetually disappointed.

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to teach children about being thankful. Here are some ideas to teach your children how to appreciate the blessings in their lives and express it. Try these ideas and see if they work for you. You may be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Set the Example. Parents have to model behavior they hope their children adopt as their own. A simple, sincere expression of gratitude when your child does something they were asked to do is always appropriate. Taking an extra moment to thank a sales clerk at the store or to tip your help at home when bringin something to you lets them know that gratitude is acceptable and encouraged. Children model their parents in every way, so make sure you use "please" and "thank you" when you talk to them. ("Thanks for that hug -- it made me feel great!")

Work gratitude into your daily conversation. When you reinforce an idea frequently, it's more likely to stick. Two old-fashioned, true ideas: Make saying what good things happened today part of the dinnertime conversation, or make bedtime prayers part of your nightly routine if this is an important part of your personal belief.

Make a List. From time to time, take some time as a family to list the things you are grateful for. Children might say things like a favorite toy or food, but sometimes they will express thanks for a family where they feel safe or for a dad's income that let's them have a few luxuries.

Don't Demand Thanks. Avoid demanding thanks from your children. They will internalize example much more than they will threats or humiliation. If you offer it sincerely to them, they will learn the skills of gratitude.

Teach Through Role Playing. If you notice a lack of the gratitude attitude, consider a little role playing. Have children act out a scenario where someone went out of their way for someone else, and have the receiver express gratitude. You might even consider a negative example and see how the giver feels when his or her giving is ignored.

Establish Family Traditions. Giving a "speech" before every holiday dinner, talk about the blessings you have in your family (even if it's not Thanksgiving). By having family rituals that center on gratitude, children learn to express thanks.

Have kids help. It happens to everyone: You give your child a chore, but it's too agonizing watching him a) take forever to do it or b) make a huge mess. The temptation is always to step in and do it yourself. But the more you do for them, the less they appreciate your efforts. By participating in simple household chores like feeding the dog or stacking dirty dishes on the counter, kids realize that all these things take effort.

Encourage generosity. Donate toys and clothes to less fortunate kids! Giving to others inspires children to go through their own closets and give something special to those in need, as well.

Insist on thank-you notes. Parents sometimes make their children write thank-yous or make phone calls to thank for gifts or kind gestures. This teaches children not to take things for granted. .

Practice saying no. Of course kids ask for toys, video games, and candy -- sometimes on an hourly basis. It's difficult, if not impossible, to feel grateful when your every whim is granted. Saying “no” sometimes makes hearing “yes” much sweeter.

Be patient. You can't expect gratitude to develop overnight -- it requires weeks, months, even years of reinforcement. But in time, you will be rewarded.


Friday, November 11, 2011


Cold and flu season is inevitable, and it seems this year it has started off with a bang! And with the weather being so crazy and changing all the time, it is almos inevitable for children to get sick. However, you can work to prevent germs from overtaking your house this year with these 5 simple steps.

Get vaccinated. - While not all parents are in favor of the flu shot, there has been success in the past with this preventative measure. Consult with your family doctor about the available options. Make sure you ask about the possible side effects and reactions to the vaccine. Knowing the answers to your questions will help you make a better choice.

Teach and practice effective hand washing techniques. - It's no secret that washing your hands can help keep the germs away. However, if you've ever watched your children "wash" their hands, you may quickly realize why this is not working. A quick rinse isn't going to keep germs away during cold and flu season. Teach your children to wash their hands effectively. Warm water, plenty of time (the time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" is a good guideline), and soap on both sides of your hands as well as between your fingers. You may also want to provide a small sanitizer bottle for your children to use at school frequently.

Focus on a healthy diet. - Keep an eye on your child’s diet during cold and flu season. It is still not clear whether or not vitamin C can really help you fight off a cold, however there's no reason that you shouldn't give it a try. Have orange slices for an after school snack, instead of other fruit snacks. Consider increasing the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables in your child's diet. Encourage your child to drink plenty of water throughout the day. See that they have a hearty breakfast before coming to school – students do not function well on an empty stomach.

Avoid those that are ill (and stay home when you're sick, too). - Keep your children home when they are ill. This helps toprevent the spread of colds and flu. Use the rule of thumb for a child to be free of fever for 24 hours before you send them back to school. They should be with out a fever on their own. Don’t keep ther fever down with medicines and then assume the’re better.

Stop sharing –While encouraging children to share their toys and games with others is a good practice, cold and flu season is a good excuse to be a little selfish with your belongings. If toys are in fact shared, be sure to clean items thoroughly. Avoid sharing things that will get/have been put in someone's mouth (which happens often with babies and toddlers).

Monday, November 7, 2011


Because of the multicultural nature of Discovery School there are certain values that are taught, encouraged and become expected in our students. Some parents welcome the fact that we live in an increasingly diverse society and school. Others may feel more hesitant, especially if they haven't had much exposure to people different from themselves. Many kids are way ahead of their parents regarding exposure to cultural differences. Their circle of friends, their schoolmates, and their athletic teams are much more varied than those of even a generation ago.

Still, parents
and teachers at Discovery school should help students prepare to live, learn, and work in communities that will become even more diverse. Teaching tolerance is important because the person who learns to be open to differences will have more opportunities in education, business, and many other aspects of life. Success in today's world — and tomorrow's — depends on being able to understand, appreciate, and work with others.

About Tolerance

Tolerance refers to an attitude of openness and respect for the differences that exist among people. Although originally used to refer. The concepts of tolerance not only applies to ethnic and religious differences but also to gender, people with physical and intellectual disabilities, and other differences, too.

Tolerance means respecting and learning from others, valuing differences, bridging cultural gaps, rejecting unfair stereotypes, discovering common ground, and creating new bonds. Tolerance, in many ways, is the opposite of prejudice.

Does tolerance mean that all behaviors have to be accepted? Of course not. Behaviors that disrespect or hurt others, like being mean or bullying, behaviors that break social rules, like lying or stealingshould not and are not tolerated at school. Tolerance is about accepting people for who they are — not about accepting bad behavior. Tolerance also means treating others the way you would like to be treated.

How Can Parents Help The School Teach Tolerance?

Parents can teach tolerance by example — and in other ways, too. Talking together about tolerance and respect helps kids learn more about the values you want them to have. Giving them opportunities to play and work with others is important as well. This lets kids learn firsthand that everyone has something to contribute and to experience differences and similarities.

Things parents can do to help kids learn tolerance include:

· Notice your own attitudes. Parents who want to help their kids value diversity can be sensitive to cultural stereotypes they may have learned and make an effort to correct them. Demonstrate an attitude of respect for others.

· Remember that kids are always listening. Be aware of the way you talk about people who are different from yourself. Do not make jokes that perpetuate stereotypes. Although some of these might seem like harmless fun, they can undo attitudes of tolerance and respect.

· Select books, toys, music, art, and videos carefully. Keep in mind the powerful effect the media and pop culture have on shaping attitudes.

· Point out and talk about stereotypes that may be portrayed in media.

· Answer kids' questions about differences honestly and respectfully. This teaches that it is acceptable to notice and discuss differences as long as it is done with respect.

· Acknowledge and respect differences within your own family. Demonstrate acceptance of your children's differing abilities, interests, and styles. Value the uniqueness of each member of your family.

· Remember that tolerance does not mean tolerating unacceptable behavior. It means that everyone deserves to be treated with respect — and should treat others with respect as well.

· Help your children feel good about themselves. Kids who feel badly about themselves often treat others badly. Kids with strong self-esteem value and respect themselves and are more likely to treat others with respect, too. Help your child to feel accepted, respected, and valued.

· Give kids opportunities to work and play with others who are different from them. When choosing a school, day camp, or child-care facility for your child, find one with a diverse population.

· Learn together about holiday and religious celebrations that are not part of your own tradition.

· Honor your family's traditions and teach them to your kids — and to someone outside the family who wants to learn about the diversity you have to offer. Help them be proud of who they are!

When parents encourage a tolerant attitude in their children, talk about their values, and model the behavior they would like to see by treating others well, kids will follow in their footsteps.

Take the time to watch and discuss the following video with your children: