Archive for May 2011
Celebrating Memorial Day with young children requires some thoughtful reflection on the part of adults. It is important to help children learn the meaning of national holidays and times of poignant remembrances. It’s important for children to learn about America.
Memorial Day stands alone as a holiday that arose out of appreciation for and remembrance of every person who gave their lives defending our nation. This holiday was officially proclaimed in 1868 by General John Logan. Throughout America, Memorial Day has become a day where communities come together to decorate graves of American soldiers and arrange gatherings in remembrance of our nation’s heroes.
Memorial Day will be personal if you or a family member or friend is serving in the military or has been part of national service. We can support all children’s acknowledgement of Americans serving America through ways that are engaging, fun and full of learning:
-Fly an American flag.
-Attend Memorial Day Services in your neighborhood.
-Investigate and participate in community parades and parties honoring all branches of service.
-Talk to your children about servicemen and women.
-Talk to your children about America.
-Play patriotic music and sing patriotic songs – if your children don’t know any, teach them.
Memorial Day is also considered the “unofficial” beginning of picnic and barbeque season!
Get children involved: Depending on the age or your children, these little ideas can be simple or extensive – go with your child’s interest and excitement.
Create red, white & blue invitations and placemats: Little ones can color, older children can cut strips of red and white paper to weave. Create star stamps: cut a potato in half and dig out a star shape (or dig around a star shape). Children can paint or stamp potato into blue paint. Use the potato star as a stamp on invitations and placemats.
Wear red, white & blue clothes: Tie-dye tee shirts for guests at your picnic. Here is a basic tie-dye project used in preschools: you will need – 100% white cotton tee shirts, liquid blue and red Rit dye, cold water, salt, laundry detergent and rubber bands. The Rit dye box has all of the instructions.
Create table centerpieces: Cut squares of tissue paper, pinch the center and tie off with pipe cleaner to make flowers. Connect a green pipe cleaner for a stem. Make bouquets of flowers and tie with ribbons or “plant” in decorated bowls (put play dough in bottom of bowl and bend pip cleaner to stabilize-cover with green leaves). Use streamers, balloons and ribbons for table decorations.
Eat red, white & blue: Make a cake with whipped cream frosting, strawberry stripes and blueberry stars, parfaits made of layers of raspberry and cheery jello topped with whipped cream and a fruit bowl of strawberries and blueberries with a sprinkle of coconut are perfect for a patriotic picnic!
“America is a tune. It must be sung together.” ~Gerald Stanley Lee
The end of the school year means the time has come to schedule parent conferences. This is a chance to receive culminating information about grades, aptitude, attitude, individual strengths and challenges. Parent conferences are a time to share a child’s progression that is shown in several ways throughout the year.
When a parent schedules a conference it gives them the opportunity to share closing statements about their child’s experience to their teachers and school. The parent has the chance to ask questions, make comments and to discuss recommendations and opportunities for their child’s continued studies, school responsibilities and possibilities. The goal of a parent conference is to begin planning for the next year in their child’s school experience.
Do you have a parent conference planned for your child? Will you be requesting a parent conference? Here are some suggestions for a successful meeting:
- Pay attention to the beginning time, place & length of a scheduled conference. Typically the school has prepped for multiple conferences. Each family has a start time that they have signed up for or that was given to them (if you are unable to be at the school exactly at your start time let your child’s teacher know and reschedule your meeting). If you need a “non -traditional” time, please request this.
- If you feel that you need extended time for a conference due to concerns, questions or needed resources make this appointment as soon as possible with the reasons you have. If you have questions – ask them. If you are looking for resources, ideas or opportunities for your child academically or socially, be specific and open to discussion. If you have a concern about program, individual or school policy, the end of the year parent conference is not the appropriate meeting to address this. It is recommended that a family schedule a different meeting because the end of the year parent conference is meant to reflect your child’s closing classroom experience.
- Be prepared, polite and positive! You expect this from a professional educator so your child’s teacher will expect this from you. Your child’s teacher has been a partner in skill development, values and the critical connections of friendship building. Listen to the teacher share and discuss your child’s success and improvements or needs in their growing development in academic and social skills. You should share stories of how you have seen this at home.
- This is a good time to find out about ways you can volunteer your time and talents to your child’s school! Are there ways to help your child and family stay connected over the summer to their school and classmates? Will there be literacy, sporting or carnival events to participate in? What is the best way to keep informed about important dates, current information and school news over the summer?
- Send the message in every way: I am here for my child!
– Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director
Common questions we hear as adults:
- “What’s your relationship to her/him?”
- “How are you related?”
A relationship is far more than identifying yourself as a parent, daughter, son, sibling, friend or colleague. When we hear these words (actually labels) we automatically think of the responsibilities/obligations and rewards of each. We jump into the role of each. We know what these words mean because we are grownups. Children are learning.
We learned how to be a parent, daughter, son, sibling, friend or colleague through experiences.
Experiences that were rewarding as well as challenging.
Experiences that brought us joy or trouble.
Experiences that have their base in relationships. Children are learning.
Children are so new to the world. At every age and stage, they are learning how to become good in their roles; whatever they are. They are learning about the rules of each one. They are figuring out why some roles are easy and others are hard. Children are learning through relationships – Just like we did.
Relationships are tangible. You can see them, hear them, and feel them. They have their own particular language. Relationships can often define us. They are a lot of work and can be as strong as a mountain or as fragile as a flower.
Build strong relationships with your children – it will be the ground they stand on.
- Talk to your child. Tell them stories. Tell them who you. Tell them what they mean to you. Describe the world. Give them the language of joy as well as sorrow.
- Read with your child, at every age, on every day. Hold education valuable.
- Play. Really play. Go outside and run. Jump rope, play baseball, draw with chalk and throw water balloons. Sing songs and dance. Laugh often.
- Hold hands. Offer a shoulder to cry on. Take care of a boo-boo. Cuddle on the couch.
- Ask questions. Listen to the answers.
- Be responsible in your roles and require responsibility in theirs.
- Accept mistakes. You make them too.
- Invite your child to be connected to things that are bigger than they are. Volunteer.
“The best thing to spend on your children is your time.” Louise Hart
-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director
There’s a saying that you can tell how old a woman is when her child calls her name.
Children are born into this world hard-wired to communicate. Their senses are awake when they are newborns and it is their mother’s skin they smell, heartbeat they feel, eyes they see and skin they taste when a binky is replaced with a finger. It is their mother’s voice that excites them, soothes them, reassures them and presents the world to them.
Babies begin communicating by attentively listening to and then “replying” to the universal sounds of “aahh, oooo, oooouuuu..”. This is actually called motherese; it is a language of love specifically for infants. Motherese is quiet, vowel rich and melodic. It contains no nouns or verbs. Mothers around the globe talk to their infants in this language of love while holding their babies close and forming lifelong attachments to them.
It is not long before these lovely infants begin the classic mmm mmm mmm. And as soon as that happens, everyone says mama! You are saying mama! You want your mama, don’t you? And the answer is Yes! They are saying mama and they do want their mama – and the world opens up because their mama responds to this sound and helps them get to mama from mmm mmm.
Toddlers have absolutely discovered that mommy is the most wonderful word in the world. When they say mommy this terrific lady helps them, plays with them, feeds them, teaches them. She holds their hands while they discover their home, their family, their friends and themselves. Toddlers have fallen in love. They have fallen in love with their mommy.
While preschoolers and young children move to mom, the terrific lady who answers to that word still is the love of their lives, it’s just that they have a lot more going on in that life! Young children will be sure to put a very emphatic MY in from of mom. And it is wonderful to know that when your child says MY mom is the best, MY mom is the smartest, MY mom is the prettiest – they truly mean it!
As they get a little older the title of “mom” turns into what a dear friend of mine often referred to as the call of the wild. While ‘mom’ threatened to change her name and not tell her children what her new name was…she was still totally in love with her children and they were with her.
Teenagers tell their friends that their mother doesn’t know anything (when they are counting on her to know it all). An annoyed yell of “mother!” is a rite of passage for both mother and older child.
When woman are adults and many times mothers themselves, now the word mother is a title for the woman who the world revolves around, used with admiration and awe. It is a word reserved for the woman who loved you through the stages of life when you called her mama, mommy, mom and now mother. A mother is the home you grew up in and the home you come back to.
“A mother understands what a child does not say.” anon.
-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director
Bring a little bit of spring inside while you wait out the rest of these cold (and rainy!) days. Browse flower and vegetable catalogues with your kids. Shake the seed envelopes at stores you are in and talk about colors and gardens. Stake out a garden in the yard or investigate porch container gardens. There are many easy to grow, inexpensive and no fuss vegetables that children can plant, tend, enjoy and share. We know that Popeye is strong to the finish ‘cause he eats his spinach – help your children see why in action!
Plants are strong!
Children are strong when they eat their vegetables – hey, that makes sense! Help children see how strong plants are with these easy, inexpensive and very visible kitchen experiments. Beans are strong – kids will be strong too!
Experiment #1. Bean Blast!
1. You will need an aluminum pan, dry beans; water; a bowl; plaster of Paris; ( 2 cups Warm Water, 3 cups All-purpose Flour, Large Mixing Bow, Spatula or Wooden Spoon . In a large mixing bowl, whisk the all-purpose flour with the help of the spatula or wooden spoon, to make it airy. Make a flour paste, by adding two cups of warm water to the flour. Mix the ingredients well. Continue stirring them, until there are no visible lumps. The mixture has to be smooth and firm. The consistency of the paste should be thick and smooth, but easy to stir. If the consistency is not right; add more flour or water, as desired. )
2. Soak a handful of dry beans in water overnight. The next day, mix a batch of plaster of Paris and pour it into the baking pan. The plaster of Paris should be a few inches deep. Sprinkle the soaked beans on top, then cover with another layer of plaster of Paris, about an inch thick. When the beans sprout, they will break through the rock-like plaster of Paris – Just like grass and flowers blast through concrete!
Experiment #2. Bursting Beans!
1. You will need dry beans; cotton, a plastic bag and water.
2. Moisten a handful of regular white cotton balls, just until they are damp but not saturated, place the moist cotton in the bottom of a clear, plastic bag. Lay several bean seeds on top of the moist cotton & seal the plastic bag. Place the plastic bag on a window sill or table that has full sun exposure. The heat helps germinate the bean seeds. Make sure the bean seeds remain on top of the cotton as the plastic bag is moved to the window and set in place. Before long you have bursting bean sprouts ready to transplant into a pot!
“These are the most wonderful beans that ever were known. If you plant them overnight, by the next morning they’ll grow up and reach the sky!” Jack in the Beanstalk
-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director