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8 Essential Back-to-School Tips for Parents

08/08/2017 12:00:00

With a well-rounded summer vacation ending, parents spend a lot of time getting their kids ready for school. New school supplies, haircuts, and special end-of-summer outings all play into the back-to-school routine. There are some other things that parents can do for themselves and their kids to ensure a smooth transition into the school year, too. Take a look below at few ways to get this year off to a great start in your house.

Set up a bedtime and wake-up routine in advance. If possible, it’s best to establish bedtimes and wake-up times two weeks in advance of the start of school. By the time the first school bell rings, kids will already be on the right sleeping schedule and it will be one less worry for your family.

Get to know new teachers. There will be open houses, orientations, and other meet-and-greet options at the beginning of the school year, but none will give you the chance to spend some quality time getting to know your kids’ teachers. Try to find a few minutes before or after school to connect one-on-one with the teachers. At the very least, send an introductory email that includes how you can help during the school year, however big or small.

Plan healthy lunches and snacks. The better you plan out the meals in your home, the healthier choices you will make for your kids. When you pack protein-rich snacks and lunches, balanced with fruits, vegetables, and other wholesome items, you ensure that your children will have the energy and brainpower to make it through their school days.

Organize clothing. Of course you will need to donate or otherwise get rid of the clothing that your kids have outgrown, but you should also take the time to carefully organize what is left. From there, decide what items you may need more of before school begins.

Set up a staging area. Find a central spot to store everything related to school, including backpacks, upcoming outfits, and a dry erase calendar with family schedules. Try to keep this area free of clutter and other non-school items so that you can find what you need, when you need it—and quickly. Have the kids help you stock it with school-related items and keep it clean and functional. Find some inspiration here.

Update medical records. Most schools will let you know if your shot records are out of date, but why not go beyond that? Make sure teachers and administrators have a complete list of any medical concerns regarding your kids, including allergies. You will also want to be sure that all emergency contacts are up to date.

Talk to your kids about bullying. Research shows that one in three kids experience bullying at some point in their school career—and in the increasingly digital world, the consequences can be extreme. Make sure your kids understand the right way to treat their peers, and when to speak up if they see someone else being bullied. Also make sure they know when to come to you if they feel they are being bullied.

Ask your kids about their concerns. The start of school is exciting, but can also bring some anxiety—especially when it comes to the unknown. Take a few minutes to ask your kids what they are most looking forward to during the school year, and what things may be worrying them. By giving them a forum to express their concerns, you can help them work through any worries in advance of school starting and clear up any issues that could lead to a bumpy start to the year.

Article from: www.sparkpe.org

17 Summer Vacation Ideas for Your Kids

07/10/2017 12:00:00

WHAT DO YOUR kids do on their summer vacation? Many kids go to camp, or visit relatives, or enroll in special classes designed for children. But no matter if your kids are heavily scheduled, or if their time is completely their own, summertime is a perfect time for kids to experience boredom, forcing them to be creative. It’s a time to follow interests, discover new passions, and experiment. But even the most self-entertaining child sometimes runs out of ideas, so here are some items they can add to their summer checklist.

1. Explore outside. Being outside in nature is important for all children. Fresh air, exercise, and observation of the natural world are synonymous with childhood. See what your kids can discover about the area around your house, and about themselves.

2. Make a pet rock. When they are out exploring in nature, kids can choose a rock. Something not too large, and with a smooth enough surface to take paint or sticky items. When they bring it back, once washed and dried it can be decorated with paint, glitter, sticky foam, googly eyes, or whatever is needed to make the rock into a new pet. And here’s the best part: It doesn’t require food or cleaning up after. 

3. Go stargazing. Summer is the perfect time to go stargazing. It isn’t too cold at night, and a family snuggle on a blanket looking up at the night sky is an enjoyable way to learn together. Read up on a few constellations and planetary locations ahead of time, and your kids will think you’re a genius.

4. Study the weather. Set up a little weather station and measure rainfall, wind direction, and temperature. Chart these over time to see how the weather changes in your area. Compare notes with a cousin who lives in a different city.

5. Watch movies. Movies that your kids missed in the theater but are out on DVD still make for an exciting way to spend a lazy afternoon when it’s too hot to play outside. Popcorn and lemonade make good accompaniments.

6. Catch up on geek classics. This is a fantastic opportunity to indoctrinate your kids in the all-important geeky movies, such as Star WarsStar TrekPrincess BrideBack to the FutureWarGamesTron, and others. And for older kids, set them on Monty PythonThe MatrixAkira, and Highlander.

7. Read books. That says it all.

8. Visit the library. Most local libraries have summer reading programs, special craft project times, puppet shows, teen clubs, and other fun things organized specially for the summer. Check the schedule at a library near you.

9. Build with Lego. Kids can build free-form projects, or modern art pieces. If they run out of ideas, challenge them to build a spaceship, a plant, or a robot. See who can assemble the most realistic Dalek. But no instruction is really necessary here. We’ve all been building with Lego since we could hold up a 2×4 brick. Give them a tub of Lego and let them go.

10. Experiment with cooking. Even very young children can try their hand at cooking or baking. They can help to measure ingredients, stir, and arrange the final result. Older kids can cook on the stove, or use the oven. Contributing to the family meal is a very rewarding experience for kids of all ages. And the more that they learn how to do, the more they can help out on a regular basis.

11. Become an expert on a period in history. Regency EnglandAncient Egypt, modern day Lapland… It is all within their reach. Have them choose books at the library, or search for interesting websites. Then have them teach you all about what they have learned.

12. Play in the dirt. Sure, it’s messy, but there is research that says it is good for you. And there’s something about digging and piling and making trenches that is just fun. Plus it’s one of the five best toys of all time, so you can’t go wrong there.

13. Make forts. No matter your age, making and playing in forts made out of pillows, blankets, and couch cushions is a load of fun. Bonus challenge: Make the fort large enough for grown-ups!

14. Rediscover old toys. If your kids are anything like mine, many of their toys get forgotten, or perpetually hidden behind other toys. Summertime affords plenty of time for kids to go through their rooms and rediscover some of the toys that haven’t been played with for some time. Perhaps they’ve outgrown some of them, and can donate them or pass them on to others.

16. Play board games. Of course, this activity is good for any time of year. But if you have more than one child, or a child with nearby friends, encouraging them to play board gamestogether always bears fruit. Kids often come up with their own set of house rules for old favorites, and often have more patience with each other for repeated rounds of the same game, over and over. And any time that parents have to join in, all the better.

17. Watch the Summer Olympics. This year the summer Olympics will be held in London, England from July 27 to August 12. No matter their leanings, there is likely a sport or two that will interest your kids. In addition to watching and learning, kids can mark the winners on a world map, or keep track of the medal count.

These activities are great for kids alone, kids together, or whole families. I hope they help everyone have a rewarding summer, and hopefully, your kids will quickly develop a daily mantra of, “What can I learn or discover today?”

Article from: www.wired.com/2012/05/summer-vacation/

This Is the Ultimate Nostalgic Summer Bucket List to Complete With Your Kids

06/14/2017 12:00:00

When I was a kid, we didn't have cell phones or tablets, and during the Summer months we would happily leave our televisions to sit unwatched for days inside our sweltering houses. With school out until September, all of the neighborhood kids would wake up every morning with the sun, slurp down a bowl of cereal, and get straight outside to ride bikes until the streetlights came on — it was the good life. If you want the same type of blissfully free outdoor Summer experience for your kids (whether you're actually a free-range parent or not), ditch the screens and instill in your little ones the benefits of a slow Summer filled with outdoor activities and lots and lots of ice cream.

Read through for the ultimate nostalgic Summer bucket list that you need to complete with your kids.

  1. Have a picnic.
  2. Watch a sunset at the beach.
  3. Fly a kite.
  4. Camp in the backyard.
  5. Stargaze.
  6. Play tag with all of the neighborhood kids.
  7. Run through sprinklers.
  8. Eat too many popsicles.
  9. Plant flowers or vegetables.
  10. Make and sell lemonade on your front lawn.
  11. Have an underwater tea party in the pool.
  12. Paint pet rocks.
  13. Ride your bike from sunrise to sunset.
  14. Watch fireworks.
  15. Go across the lawn on a Slip 'N Slide for hours.
  16. Swing at the park until you're out of breath with giggles.
  17. Have a water balloon fight.
  18. Go minigolfing.
  19. Get ice cream from the neighborhood truck (a lot).
  20. Make sidewalk chalk masterpieces.
  21. Play in the rain.
  22. Catch fireflies in a jar.
  23. Collect seashells.
  24. Make tie-dye shirts.
  25. Wash the cars by hand.
  26. Blow bubbles.
  27. Build a sand castle at the beach.
  28. Eat watermelon slices that look like smiles.
  29. Roast marshmallows over a real fire and make s'mores.
  30. Play Marco Polo in the pool.
  31. Go on a nature walk.
  32. Make ice cream in a bag.
  33. Make wishes on dandelions.

Article from www.popsugar.com/moms/Summer-Bucket-List-Kids-41377379

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