Saturday, November 30, 2013

6 Easy Ways to Spread the Holiday Cheer

Tired of all the "grinches" who complain when the holiday season comes around? Want to make a difference and spread a little holiday cheer? You can! Making a difference is easy, fun, and can give you an opportunity to spend valuable time with your family. It can also turn out to be just what you needed to establish your own family tradition! It does not matter what holiday you and your family celebrate (Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or others). Here are some ideas:

Bake cookies for friends and neighbors.

Everyone loves cookies! A simple and sweet way to make people smile is to offer them a tasty treat. Block out an afternoon in your busy holiday schedule to bake cookies for friends, family, and neighbors - and ask your kids and spouse to help! To make the experience more memorable, invite close friends and family to join in for an all-day baking date.

Smile and wish people "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas."

It may sound simple, but what better way to spread holiday cheer then to show it and say it? While on your way to work, at the grocery store, or out shopping for family and friends this Holiday Season, be sure to smile and wish others "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas." This can only inspire others to follow your lead and spread the holiday peace and happiness. Positve attitude is contagious. Try it and you will see.

Give small gifts to those who provide services.

Giving small gifts from the heart to those who provide services to you is a sure way to spread cheer and make others feel good. It also lets them know that you appreciate what they do for you. Show your mail carrier, garbage man, house cleaner, children’s teacher, secretaries, and other service providers how much you value them.

Organize or contribute in a fundraiser or food drive with friends.

Want to make a real difference this holiday season? With a bit of effort and some reliable friends, you can organize or contribute with a fundraiser or food drive. This is a great way to help the less fortunate in your community, and it will surely make you and others feel good.

Volunteer your time and energy.

For a special gift, give a little of yourself. Helping others is a great way to spread cheer and love. Take time out of your busy holiday schedule to volunteer at a nursing home, orphanage, women's shelter, or homeless shelter. Smiles are contagious - and you can spread them around.

Sing Christmas carols.

If you celebrate Christmas, nothing says "holiday season" like Christmas carols. Spread some cheer this holiday by playing Christmas carols in your home for family and guests. As Christmas Day approaches, take family and friends caroling to help spread the holiday spirit. Don't know the lyrics to your favorite carols? No worries - find your favorite songs here

Monday, November 25, 2013


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 – such as preparing dinner, dole out hugs, teach, care for them, buy toys, etc. On the flip side, children who aren't taught to be grateful end up feeling entitled and perpetually disappointed. L
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 how to 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 the 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 bringing 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. Give 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.
Find a goodwill project. That doesn't mean you need to drag your toddler off to a soup kitchen or shelter every week. Instead, figure out some way he/she can actively participate in helping someone else, even if it's as simple as making cupcakes for a sick neighbor. As you're stirring the batter or adding sprinkles, talk about how you're making them for a special person, and how happy the recipient will be.

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 15, 2013


Today’s video games are appealing to our young ones: they are fun, the action is fast, the challenges are inviting. However, when children spend time in front of small screens – whether it’s the TV, computer or hand-held games – it takes away from the time they could spend playing sports, learning other skills or enjoying active play.
When children constantly receive their entertainment through computer games, they develop an increasing desire for instant entertainment which decreases their attention span and hurts their listening skills. Simple common sense dictates that too much time spent playing online games is counter-productive to a child’s healthy growth and development.
If as a parent you are not facing this problem (yet) CONGRATULATIONS! If it is a concern, (or you think it might become one) bear in mind that the goal of a parent should not be to remove the child’s access to these activities, but to help the child find balance between time spent using these devices and time spent in activities of a different nature.
What NOT to do: Many articles discuss strategies to reduce video-gaming time suggest “tiger-mom” measures such as removing the computer from the child’s room, installing access-limiting software, or simply pulling the plug on the computer. These methods are confrontational, and send a message that the child lacks self-control. Cooperation and respect should be the tools of first choice. As parents we should help our children see the consequences of too much time online and help them make the decision for themselves to bring more balance into their lives.
Here are some suggestions to help reduce the amount of time your children spent playing video games.
1. Play a video game with your child  - Let your child teach you one of their favorite video games and give it a try. You may find the game instructive, challenging, or deplorable. In any case, you’re showing your child that you are open-minded and willing to try something new. After all, this is what you’re asking of your child in having them reduce time spent on video games. There’s a better chance your child will listen to your suggestions when you’ve shown a willingness to understand the appeal of these games.
2. Keep a log of time spent on video games for a week - Ask your child to keep a record of time spent on gaming. (Or keep a record yourself.) At the end of one week, show them a visual representation of how much of their free time is going to this activity. Is it 10% of their time, or 50%? It’s likely that your child hasn't considered this, and may be surprised at the results. Once you have some actual data, any argument over the amount of time spent on gaming is eliminated, and you can see if there is a problem, and to what degree.
3. Show your child what that amount of time represents in other activities - With some thought, you can develop a list of activities and opportunities that can be achieved in the same amount of time spent gaming. As a parent, you should be prepared to help the child get started in an activity program, or help buy supplies or equipment for new projects. The goal of this exercise is to show the child what activities he or she may be missing.
4. Arrange active indoor or outdoor activities for your children and thier friends - Help do the thinking and planning for alternative activities for your children. (They may be out of practice.) To make it more appealing, look for ways to include your children’s friends.
5. Start a long term project of your child’s choosing - Your child may have an interest or goal that seems out of reach. If you can tap into something your child is passionate about, you may be able to help them realize their passion. Most children don’t think of long-term projects, but you can show them how planning and budgeting their time and money can bring big rewards. Working on the garden, building something, decorating, are good examples. Of course, as a parent your participation is required to help finance the project and help see it to completion. But a long term project with your child is rewarding to the parent as well!
7. Have family meals together - Playing video games is often a solitary activity. Eating dinner together as a family provides a valuable opportunity for communication. A scheduled meal together helps lift children from the isolated bubble of their game consoles and engage the other members of the family in the exchange of ideas. Family dinners should be a place for open discussion, where the children can discuss their gaming accomplishments, should they choose, and where they can also hear the interests of all family members. Dinnertime is also an opportunity for family members to discuss a variety of interests outside of the video-game arena and plan upcoming activities.
Encouraging your child to spend less time playing video games requires more hands-on time from the parents. This is not always easy, given the busy schedules of parents today. But the rewards are rich as we see our children grow, and as we spend more time with them.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Midterm reports for the second quarter are just around the corner at Discovery School! We all want our children to experience success in school. Children in Elementary School may sometimes experience frustration (and sometimes even failure). It's not because they lack ability, but because they do not have adequate study skills. Good study habits are important for success in school now and especially in the future. Listed below are a few things parents need to consider in order to assist a child in developing the right study skills.

Ø      Be a good role model. If you sometimes bring work home with you or you're taking a course yourself, your child will learn your habits.
Ø      Help your child organize things. For example, the protractor and compass belong in the math binder, sheet music in the violin case.
Ø      Help him or her organize space. The kitchen table is for eating; your child's desk is for studying.
Ø      Help your child organize time. Establish a routine for completing schoolwork. It doesn't have to be the minute your child walks in the door; just agree on a set time and stick to it.
Ø      Minimize distractions. Learning and practicing skills are not better retained when learned concurrently with loud music, TV shows and a telephone receiver at one ear.
Ø      Check your child's work. Every night is unnecessary (unless there is a particular need for it), but check it often enough that he or she knows you might - and that you care.
Ø      Insist that sloppy or careless work be redone, but don't correct errors; teachers need to know what students don't know.
Ø      Give praise whenever possible and appropriate. A sincere expression of pride in your child's academic accomplishments can go a long way toward making studying a habit.

Tips & Warnings

·                 Don't wait until report card time or progress reports to address concerns about your child's study habits. If you believe he or she needs help, offer it now. Contact the teacher and discuss the possibilities.
·                 See what the school offers in the way of study skills training.
Offering our children opportunities for success will enable them to become happy and productive students!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

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 almost 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.
Teach and practice effective hand washing techniques. - It's no secret that washing your hands can help keep the germs at bay. 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 fruit snacks. Consider increasing the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables in your child's diet, too. 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 prevents 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 their 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.