Getting Your Children Involved with Nature

Summer is the perfect time to get your children outdoors and involved with nature - luring them away from mobile devices, computers, and television screens.  In an excellent online article for The Washington Post, 10 Ways to Get Your Kids Out in Nature, and Why It Matters, author Lauren Knight explains why your children’s physical and psychological well-being will benefit in a myriad of ways by exploring nature.

It all starts with the parents, Ms. Knight writes.  If parents are enthusiastic and curious about nature, their children will be too.   Ms. Knight recommends to just “sit and observe” at a specific area.  Don’t have busy distractions.  I typically encourage in my blogs for parents to ask questions and not simply give children answers.  Help your children look at different aspects of nature, ask questions, and search for the answers themselves. 

Try an outing at a planetarium and then lay out on the open grass and gaze at the stars at night.  By first visiting the planetarium, you will get more information about the constellations and what to look for.  When gazing up at the stars at night, your child will have a better understanding and truly get to enjoy and appreciate such spectacular beauties.

Planting a garden is another way to enjoy nature.  From planting seeds to eating the crops, children can have a lot of fun.  Have your children assist in purchasing all the items you will need for the garden as well as planting and watering.  They will learn much more by doing than just watching.

There are many books that she recommends for children that involve nature.  Visit the website link below and see the list of books.  There are some for young children as well as older children.

Find out what outdoor activities are available in your community.  Summer is an especially good time for children to be outside and enjoying themselves. 

Please read the entire article by CLICKING HERE.

Helping Your Young Teens Find Summer Jobs

I don’t usually write about issues relating to young teens but thought a blog post about helping them find summer jobs would be informative.  As a teenager, I wanted to work during the summers to earn that extra bit of spending money and I’m sure that like me, your children are eager to do the same.  Of course, you should first check the employment laws of your state to find out the age that your children can start working at an official job and if a work permit is required.  There are full and part-time jobs that your early teens, especially, may be willing to do.

Babysitting is at the top of the list.  I did that a lot during my teenage years – both during the day, when necessary, but mostly in the evenings.  As I babysat for one family, soon other families heard about how good I was and then I was in high demand.  I eventually limited babysitting to one family who used my services frequently. 

If your young teen enjoys being with children and is mature and responsible, consider babysitting.  It is not all fun and games, though, as the safety and well-being of children are involved.  Your child should be prepared for all that may happen, with you as the parent being available as a backup in the event of an emergency.  A great babysitting training course is offered by the Red Cross in many areas, both in person and online.  The link to the course is provided below.  Being a certified Red Cross babysitter will give your child bonus points for prospective employers.

Being a dog walker and pet sitter are also age-appropriate jobs.  Families travel a lot during the summer so they need someone to take care of their pets.  Again, your young teen must like pets. Have your child become familiar with the pet and the pet familiar with him before taking the job.  Make sure that he understands all the feeding and walking instructions before the family leaves.  Also make sure that the route for the walk is safe for the child and the dog.  Your child should not walk the dog in unfamiliar areas.

House sitting is another job that is available in the summer, as families travel.  The duties usually involve watering plants, picking up the mail and packages, mowing the lawn, and keeping an eye out for anything that is happening around the house.

There are many opportunities for your young teen to get out of the house during the summer and earn some money.  Help him network and prepare.  He will benefit tremendously.

Please check out this website for more information on the Red Cross babysitting training course: CLICK HERE

Some Fun & Interesting Websites for Your Children this Summer

During the summer months, parents struggle to find interesting and creative activities for their children.  The last thing we want them doing is playing mindless video games all day long.  Finding alternatives for them that are fun and still allow them to use the computer can be challenging.  We have done the work for you and found some interesting websites that we believe your children will truly enjoy and learn from:

1.    Science News for Children https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/ - This is an interesting and challenging website full of facts that children will enjoy.

2.     Cool math http://www.coolmath.com/ - There are so many cool math lessons, your children will be amazed.

3.    Is it possible for your child to become a genius? “Make Me a Genius” claims that it can http://www.makemegenius.com/

4.    National Geographic for kids https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/ - This website provides almost everything your child will ever want to know about animals, nature, countries, etc.

5.    Games that help children learn http://thekidzpage.com/ - All kinds of puzzles and other games are featured that will keep your child learning and having fun.

6.    How stuff works https://www.howstuffworks.com/ - This website provides answers to many questions in a variety of areas.  Nothing boring here!

7.    The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids  http://www.almanac4kids.com/ - So much fun information for your children that they cannot possibly get bored.

Be Vigilant This Summer to Ensure Your Children’s Outdoor Safety

School is out and our children are outside much more enjoying summer activities.  Their safety should always be of utmost concern for parents.

In a recent online article Summer Outdoor Safety Tips Offered for Child Care Facilities, reporter Eric Tegethoff of Public News Service writes about issues of concern for parents during the summer months especially.  The article is a refresher about information we may have heard in the past, but is updated and reminds us parents about how diligent we must be to protect our precious ones. 

Of course, the number one issue is keeping an eye on our children when they are in and around water.  As parents, we understand this but the tragedy is that even those parents who understand the dangers that lurk for children when playing in and around water, often believe that nothing would never happen to their children.  One of the first considerations is the surface around the water.  Typically, children play around water barefoot so your diligence requires your examination of the surfaces for any potential causes of injuries.  Are there any sharp or jagged surfaces?  Are there any protrusions? Can anything potentially dangerous be hidden underneath the surface, such as under sand at the beach?

Another consideration is keeping a vigilant eye on your children when they are in water.  The article quotes the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s findings that “for 77 percent of child drowning victims, the child has been missing from sight five minutes or less.” Never assume that another adult will be keeping an eye on your children unless you have specifically requested that he/she do so and trust that person. You must be focused and knowledgeable about where your children are all the time.

The article also refers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s  findings that 2 of the 10 drowning deaths that happen every day are to children 14 and younger. It recommends that there should be one adult for every infant in a pool.  As children get older, less monitoring is required:  four children for every adult at pre-school age and six per adult for school-age children.

Please do not forget to put sunscreen on your children before they go to play outside and be sure that they have sufficient hydration.  The sun provides important vitamin D for them but also can cause problems.

You can read the entire article by clicking here.

Explore Your Own Town or City: Have a Summer Family “Staycation”

I have written previously about taking family vacations during the summer.  However, it may be that you are on a tight budget and a family trip may have moved down the list of priorities this summer.  But, you can still have a vacation with your family without breaking the bank or crossing state lines.

“Staycations” are the perfect alternative to expensive out of town trips.  You might think that you have seen everything in your area, but there are possibly  many hidden gems still waiting to be found and this is the perfect opportunity for you and your family to do just that.  In addition, there usually are a variety of local discounts available from museums, historic sites, and other ‘tourist attractions’.

If you want to leave your home, you could stay at an inexpensive hotel to have the full “vacation experience”.  Many hotels give local residents discounts during the summer.  However, there are plenty of ways to have the luxury feel of a hotel in your own home.  For example, one of the best parts of any good hotel stay is the breakfast spread.  Plan on cooking a big breakfast (the kids can join too!), similar to that of most hotels, and serve it buffet style. Set the table with white tablecloths and a simple centerpiece and enjoy your private, yummy breakfast with the family.

After breakfast, select one or more popular tourist attractions to visit.  Try something new and different.  It may seem silly to be a tourist in your own home, but it can be fun and educational.  One of the main advantages is that you do not have to worry about the cost of transportation because you can drive to each destination in your own vehicle!  Try visiting museums, having a picnic in the park, going backyard camping, or just taking a stroll through the city or town.  In the evening, consider talking the family to a drive-in theater.

You can make a day or a weekend out of it. The schedule is completely up to you because transportation, location and the struggle that comes with being in a new place will not be an issue.  By the end of it all, you and your family will have seen, done, and learned so much about your own community that you never imagined you could.  Who knows? It might even become a family tradition.

What are Some Interesting and Fun-filled Summer Activities for Children?

    It’s summer.  Are you wondering about what to do with your children?  You have a lot of work at the office, but your children need summer activities to fill their time.  I came across this online article by Jen Hatmaker discussing 10 summer activities to do with your children.  She’s a wonderful writer and has come up with many fun and creative ideas.  

    Some examples are:

  1. Let your kids make videos or movies with a smart phone.  There are many free apps out there to help.
  2. Do “Mystery Thursdays” (or any other day of the week that fits best with your schedule).  The kids know that the family is going somewhere that is fun but it’s a complete surprise.
  3. Go through your children’s closets and toy bins and donate what they do not use anymore or have outgrown.   Try connecting with a needy family.
  4. Cook some very special meals with them.  Take out those cookbooks and search together to find the best recipes.  Have fun buying the ingredients, following the recipes, and then cooking.  Ms. Hatmaker mentions that she and her daughter cooked some meatball subs that were so delicious that they couldn’t stop talking and bragging about them. 
  5. Have a family boot camp and exercise together. 

To read her article and more of her ideas, CLICK HERE.

More Summer Reading Programs for Children

    I can’t write enough about the importance of having your children read during the summer.   The diagram with this blog today illustrates how children can actually drastically lose reading skills during the summer months if they do not have access to books.  For children in high and low income households who read during the summer, their reading skills improved up to 25%.  For children in low income households who do not read, their reading skills actually dropped by almost 10%.

    On an online article, Liz Haskins lists 10 free summer reading programs.  She also explains how to access free books on a Kindle or E-Reader.  Read her article by CLICKING HERE.  There is no excuse for not having your children read, and read, and read this summer.  Your child’s performance in school during the coming year depends on it.  

Include Summer Reading Programs in Your Children’s Summer Plans

Please do not let the summer go by without having your children be a part of a summer reading program.  There are many everywhere at no cost whatsoever, so search for the best ones for your children.

Typically, children enroll in a reading program and then read a certain number of books.  If they reach the required reading goal, they are awarded some sort of a prize.  This helps children continue to improve their reading skills, set goals that are both short term and long term, actually accomplish goals, and then receive a reward.  

Usually, the public library where you live will have a good summer reading program.  Many companies now offer them as well – such as HEB, Barnes and Noble, Scholastic, Chuck E. Cheese, Pizza Hut and even Pottery Barn.  Again, research what programs are available.  Your children may be able to enroll and participate in more than one.  They’ll be surprised how fast the summer passes while reading good books.

Let Your Children Help Plan Summer Vacation

As with any and everything having to do with your children, I highly recommend planning your summer vacation with them.  Are you considering traveling with them or just taking time off from work to spend a few days with them?  If your children are old enough, allow them to assist in planning.   
    
An article on the website www.schoolfamily.com actually recommends that parents let their children do the planning because they will learn many life skills.  First, sit them down and explain to them what is involved.  Give them a budget and have them come up with the plans.  Will it be a family road trip or a cruise or something else?

Second, give them a deadline within which to come up with their plan and then have them present it to you.  Third, have them get travel brochures and maps or print off the internet information about the various destinations and types of trips.  At the destination they select, ask them to develop an itinerary – what will the family do each day?  After the trip is selected, assign tasks to each child.  For example, have one child be the photographer and another child keep a written journal.  

There are unlimited ideas that parents can adopt to help make this summer vacation memorable. To read the article, click here.

Choosing a Good Summer Camp for Your Children

As summer vacation approaches, many parents are searching for a good summer camp for their children.  First, you must decide if you and your child are ready for an overnight camp or just a day camp nearby.  And, then, what type of a camp should you send them to.

It is recommended that children under 12 years should not attend an overnight camp away from home. I fully agree with that.  We sent our older son Zachary to an overnight camp at the age of 8 for 2 weeks.  His father and I thought he was mature and independent enough to enjoy it.  He told us that he did enjoy it, but did not want to attend an overnight camp again.  Of concern to us was the bullying stories he told us about after the camp concluded.  He certainly had some adjustment issues being so young.  

In regard to a day camp, I encourage parents to spend time investigating the camp and its counselors and supervisors.  Also, speak with other parents and get their recommendations.

Importantly, visit the camp location.  Find out what is on the daily schedule.  Just do not put your children in a day camp because they need a babysitter.  Look for camps that will accentuate your children’s gifts and talents.  Zachary is very athletic, so we often put him in a sports camp.  Our youngest son James is artistic, so we tried to put him in a camp that would help him develop that gift.  

Take the time to research and investigate what is the best camp for each of your children.  You will be happy that you did. 

Make Reading Fun By Adding Hand Puppets

Make Reading Fun By Adding Hand Puppets

I know what you may be thinking after reading this heading for my blog today.  “Why should I add hand puppets to reading time?”  “Hand puppets – where do I buy those?”  “Help!! Can you give me some ideas?” If there is one thing that I know well about children- it is that they love to laugh...

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