Vacation day arrives bright and sunny. As the car pulls out of the driveway, you glance into the back seat to be sure the kids are settled. And settled they are – completely engrossed in whatever their smartphones and tablets have to offer. Is this what you had in mind for family vacation? Are you going to be nagging everyone (maybe even yourself) the whole trip to put the phones away?
It is well to remember that learning can happen in many ways. While the days of counting cars and playing the ABC sign game may be a thing of the past, family fun continues.
Here’s one example. Reading maps were a big deal when we traveled as a family. Someone would trace the route with a highlighter. We would use the legend to figure the distance in miles. Another person would check the population of towns we passed through and compare them to our hometown. Maps even had information about historical sites.
Now there’s an app for everything we used a map for – and more! Have the kids take turns with finding directions, checking out places to eat, sharing fun things about places, etc. You can make this into an electronic scavenger hunt (that dates me). The amateur photographers in the family can be responsible for taking pictures and creating a virtual album.
The point is to turn smartphones and tablets into a useful, learning part of vacation rather than a battle. And it’s still ok to occasionally have some “phone free” time. This too can become a game. Each family member gets to pick time during the awake hours each day when phones and tablets are taboo.
How do you handle this issue on your family vacation?
education, family time, media and kids
When our kids were growing up, there wasn’t much time or money for family vacations. But somehow one summer we managed to load the five of us in the Suburban and head to Chicago. Looking back I think all of us had different ideas about vacation. The girls wanted to swim in the pool at the hotel, my husband looked forward to interesting food, and I couldn’t wait to get to the museums. During the road trip, we started talking about possibilities and I realized I needed to think fast (something which Moms do pretty well).
Here is my solution. Each person got to choose one thing he or she really wanted to do. Then the rest of us would agree and participate. We didn’t have to like it but the rule was – no whining and no complaining. Now the interesting part. I chose the Museum of Science and Industry. A stern look was needed to silence the complaining that was about to erupt. We entered the museum and began to look at the exhibits on the first floor. And then the magic happened. After 30 minutes the girls were still enthralled in the first couple of exhibits. I had to keep encouraging them to move along to see more. Fun and learning and family time all got wrapped up into one wonderful afternoon. The discussions about what we saw and experienced extended well into the evening and later on the trip home.
A couple of takeaways here.
- Mom doesn’t have to do all the planning. Everyone can have a voice in what the family does on vacation.
- An afternoon at the museum can be a fascinating way to learn – in this case, science.
I still have a couple of the plastic cups we got at the Brookfield Zoo while on this vacation. Every time I use one, the fond memories come flooding back.
education, family time, miscellaneous, school
This week I really began to pay attention to the different ways my family doesn‘t conserve energy. I noticed lights left on, tv’s and electronics playing randomly to themselves, and most noticeably doors left wide open to the outdoors when the furnace was on. One day I even turned the furnace off to see if anyone would notice – and I put on an extra layer of clothing. My teenager responded late in the day with “Why is it so cold in here”. She checked the thermostat and expressed her displeasure. This gave me a perfect opportunity to share the idea from Donna’s blog last week as well as talk with the girls about how we could do a better job of conserving. Luckily I didn’t try this in the middle of winter! HA! But it helped to make a point about all the little things we take for granted.
I was looking for different resources on energy saving ideas to share with kiddos I came upon a couple things that piqued my interest. I have shared them below.
What are some ways that you have shared conserving energy and natural resources with your children?
Did any of you ever play the “Alphabet Game” when traveling in the car with kids? It went like this. Look for any word that starts with the letter “A.” When you see it, yell out the word before anyone else can. Billboards, road signs, business signs, moving vehicles – all were eagerly searched for that letter. And things turned really interesting towards the end of the alphabet. This game got our family through many road trips.
We can use opportunities throughout a day to help our children practice reading. Following a recipe, shopping for groceries, checking the weather, following sports scores, picking out a movie to go see. Yes, reading materials are more than books. And books can be more than bound pages with a hard cover. Introduce your child to the fun of audio books. Now we have online or electronic options with literally any book at our fingertips. It’s not about which type of method is the best. It’s about getting your family to read so choose what works for you.
How have you made reading fun in your family?
language development, reading
Let me start by sharing a childhood memory. Every Saturday morning my mother would load us four kids in the car and drive into town to the library. Then she gave us each a paper grocery sack and turned us loose. We filled our sacks with a week’s worth of reading and left the library excited about “our new books.” Later in the evenings we would all, parents and children, settle down with a book or magazine.
Now many years later I can tell you we never stopped reading. All four of us kids read daily – books and magazines and newspapers.
So what’s the point of my story? It’s really quite simple. Our parents made it a priority to expose us to the world of reading at an early age. They made sure we had access to reading materials and modeled reading themselves.
Thank you Mom and Dad for giving your kids a gift that keeps giving – hours of enjoyment with books in hand. And yes, I still go to the library on Saturday mornings to stock up on books for the week. The only difference is I carry a reusable library bag instead of the brown paper one.
language development, reading
GREAT QUESTION! How about right now?!
If you look up Children and Chores at www.extension.org you will find several different articles on children helping with household chores. And guess what? They can start right now helping with all kinds of things. Even toddlers LOVE helping to put socks in the basket or towels in the drawer.
Allowing children to help around the house gives them hands on experiences for learning as well as a feeling of independence and responsibility.
It is important to share with the child how you want the task done, let the child do it and then DON’T re-do when they are done. Did you catch that? It’s OK that there is a wrinkle in the blanket or the fork is upside down. Let them know how proud you are of the work they did and keep modeling the way you would like it done eventually. Remember, you probably had a wrinkle in your bed at that age as well.
What are some chores that you have your children helping with? Share with us!
brothers, chores, discipline, family time, fathers, mother, overindulgence, parenting, positive parenting, siblings, sisters
Got your attention didn’t I? Now moms, don’t be mad at me because we can be WAY fun, and trust me I am a really fun mom, it’s just that sometimes I feel like fathers are more fun!
So I was curious. Was I just ‘feeling’ less fun? Or is there was a difference in how mothers and fathers have ‘fun’. Here is what I found.
A summary of Fathers Involvement in Their Children’s Schools shared the following (http://nces.ed.gov/pubs98/fathers/):
- Researchers are in agreement that mothers and fathers interact differently with their children (Parke, 1995).
- Fathers spend proportionately more time playing with their children, while mothers spend a greater proportion of their total time with their children in caretaking activities (Lamb, 1986).
- Because mothers spend a greater amount of time overall with their children, they may actually spend more time playing with them than do fathers, yet caretaking is still what best characterizes their time, while play best characterizes the fathers’ overall time with their children. Fathers and mothers also play differently with their children, with fathers much more likely to be rough and tumble (Parke, 1995; Hetherington and Parke, 1993).
Whew!! I’m not less fun! I just play different than fathers do! I would love to hear how you play and have fun. Whether you are a mother or a father, spending time having fun and playing is so important. Share ideas here!
divorce, education, family time, fathers, grandparenting, mother, play, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional
Fathers are different from mothers, but offer love, guidance and support in their own unique way. During June, we’ll talk about the role of fathers and what research has to say about this important role.
National studies show that an overwhelming majority of Americans agree that fathers play an important and irreplaceable role in the lives of children. Seven out of 10 people in one study agreed that the physical absence of fathers from the home is the most significant social problem facing America.
Join us in June as we talk celebrate ‘All About Fathers’.
Podcast: Play in new window
family time, fathers, parenting, play, podcast, positive parenting
Do you have any idea on how much information there is on the internet telling you ‘how to be a mom’?
I realized that I was going round and round and deeper and deeper into the realms of the internet while I was thinking about what to write. I began to be overloaded and confused. What seemed to be such a simple task became overwhelming with so much information.
Isn’t that what being a mom ends up being? A seemingly simple parenting task can become overwhelming because of information from so many places and sources.
So what do we do? Here’s what I did. Pushed my chair back from the computer. Picked up the picture of my girls on my desk. Smiled. Took a deep breath. Deleted my search engines. And went back to the place I knew research was solid and strong. www.extension.org And then I started again.
Sometimes as parents we have to remember that we need a strong foundation of one or two credible resources instead of a whole ‘favorites’ list of lots of opinions. I hope you enjoy searching the eXtension website as much as I did!
education, mother, parenting
I woke up this morning feeling like cheering!!! I think it was the sun! Yesterday I was thinking about what to write for the blog and spent some time trying to ‘watch’ play. However, I didn’t just watch children play. I watched adults play. I watched infants to the aging play. As I reflected on the play I noticed a common theme. Are you ready?
We really do like to play.
How did I know? We let our bodies show it. We smile. We raise our eyebrows. We open our mouth and laugh. We relax our shoulders. We BREATHE. Yes we like to play and our bodies show the pure un-inhibited enjoyment of it!
I wonder if that’s why sometimes as adults we are tired after playing? Because we finally just let our bodies and brain enjoy the moment we are in. Hmm, so play might really be important in more ways than one.
I would LOVE to know how you play! I want you to recognize the times that you freely let go and allow yourselves to really enjoy the moment! Take time to really pay attention and allow yourself those moments. Tell me abut your play!
education, family time, friendship, grandparenting, play, positive parenting
“Play is a way in which we can learn about ourselves and others. It is at the heart of creativity and makes us more productive”.
Parents often greet a new baby with stuffed animals, dolls and other toys, all given in anticipation of the play that is to come. Join us in March as we talk about the power of play for children of all ages.
Click on the podcast below to hear fascinating research on play.
Podcast: Play in new window
education, family time, language development, play, podcast, positive parenting, social-emotional
Guest Blogger- Family Life Intern Mackenzie K.
As Donna and the podcast suggested, anger is natural for children. There are countless issues that may cause a child to feel angry: not getting their way, frustration over things that are hard, learning difficulties, family problems, or friendship issues.
Often times we want to tell our children that they should not be angry. Their anger sometimes seems irrational and unjustified to us as parents. In reality, the emotion of anger is not the problem; it is how they handle that anger.
So allow your child to feel angry. We all know how hard it is to try to change your emotions. Help your child identify their feeling as anger. Saying and labeling the emotion like this may be helpful, “You are angry because I won’t let you eat candy before supper” or “I can tell that when you don’t make the circle perfect it makes you frustrated”.
Now that they can recognize their anger, they can learn how to address it. There are some great strategies and tips to try when helping your child learn to handle their anger in the article below:
Helping Children with Anger
Does anyone have any experience using these techniques? What has worked best for you and your child?
discipline, education, family time, friendship, language development, overindulgence, positive parenting, raising teens, school, social-emotional, spanking, temperament
Empathy is the ability to understand the world from another person’s point of view. Empathy can also create motivation to treat another kindly based on that understanding.
Feelings Flashcards: Make flash cards with a photo or drawing showing different emotions such as happy and sad or scared and mad. Even three and four year olds can identify a range of emotions. Point out the different feelings and talk about them.
Share stories and personal experiences: share stories about times when you had similar feelings and let the children share back.
Puppets: Children are drawn to puppets and many lessons can be taught by them. Have puppets display different emotions and talk with children about them.
Share how you have seen empathy impact children’s relationships and friendships.
bullying, education, friendship, positive parenting, social-emotional
Parents want their children to have friends, but childhood friendships can be puzzling. One day a child is part of the “in group” and the next day he or she is on the outside. What’s a parent to do?
The good news is that parents can help children develop the skills they need to make and keep friends. Join us this month as we navigate through the world of children’s friendships.
Listen to a brief podcast on Children and Friendship:
Podcast: Play in new window
education, family time, friendship, podcast, positive parenting, raising teens, social-emotional