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Dirt and Kids Go Hand in Hand

Beautiful child with sunflower in spring fieldConfession. I am not a gardener. Well, I’m not a vegetable gardener. I can grow a mean hibiscus and a lovely tulips but vegetables stump me. Its not that I don’t day dream about growing a bountiful garden, I just haven’t quite figured out how to get started. So in an effort to set the stage for the rest of the month I want to first say, “you don’t have to do it all”.

If you had a chance to listen to the podcast you heard about all the great things that children learn from gardening. Truth be told, they can also learn many of those things while caring for flowers and house plants as well. So before you say, “This month isnt’ for me”, consider the live plants that you may already have. Consider the flowers you may currently be watering. Substitute them for the gardening ideas (except for the eating part).

Share with your children how to keep they happy and healthy. Teach them how to put them in sunlight or shade. Ask them questions as you thin, separate and re-pot them. Tell them about the benefits of growing green plants in an indoor environment as well as outdoor. And most importantly don’t give up on the the fact that you really are a gardener. I haven’t.

Let us know about your green thumb.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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From Maps to Apps

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?

mapIt 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?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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A treasure hunt vacation? SIGN ME UP!

SandraGeocachingGeocaching: A Great Family Activity

Geocaching is a world-wide treasure hunt where you electronically use longitude and latitude to locate the “loot.” It is a great low-cost family activity. It is easy to catch on to and you can do it anywhere you are.

My adult son introduced me to the game. We used his handheld GPS unit and went searching in a nearby park. What we found was a camouflaged box full of trinkets. He explained we could take a trinket, but if we did we were to leave another of at least equal value. We signed the log that was inside the box and carefully put it back where we found it. Then we went along our merry way as if nothing had happened.

How did he know that the box was there? He went online to geocaching.com and searched near his home for a cache. He plugged the coordinates into his GPS and we left the house. When we were back to the house, he went online to log the find.

Now, the electronic treasure hunt is as easy as getting an app on your smartphone. You simply search near where you are, choose the level of difficulty and terrain you feel appropriate, and then off you go geocaching.

Since the time with my son, I have logged caches in several states. I have also introduced geocaching to several friends, relatives and colleagues. My 4 year old grandson and I have gone hunting together. We searched for one that was easy enough to get to and to find. He delighted to find the treasure! And no one saw us – which is a trick sometimes! You see, the caches are secret so you don’t want anyone to know what you are doing.

I’ve enjoyed traipsing stealthily all over the U.S. It is a quick activity to stretch your legs or get children out to run a bit when the family stops for a break on a trip. Or plan a picnic and day out exploring wherever you are. Hint: many geocaches can be found at safe places like rest areas, parks and cemeteries.

Maybe you’ll find a cache that I have hidden. What will be inside it?

To learn more about the rules and courtesies of the game, and to search near you, visit geocaching.com.

Guest Blogger, Sandra McKinnon

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Spiritual Development

Spiritual development in children… yep it’s part of their natural development. It’s part of their moral and cultural development. We didn’t just pick this topic randomly. We selected it purposely because just like physical development and social development, it is a part of your child that will continue to grow and develop over time. It’s the part of your child that plays into how they begin to make sense of their world and the people in it.  It’s the part of their development that shapes their values and beliefs about their families, friends, communities and nations.

How then can we foster a healthy spiritual development? How can we help to answer their questions about their world in a positive way? How can we nurture values and beliefs and children’s spiritual development? Spiritual and moral development can be a daunting and abstract concept but as I was looking through various resources I came across this poem and thought I would share.

What is Spirituality?

delighting in all things

being absorbed in the present moment

not to attached to ‘self’ and

eager to explore boundaries of ‘beyond’ and ‘other’

searching for meaning

discovering purpose

open to more?

Spirituality is like a bird; if you hold it to tightly, it chokes; if you hold it too loosely, it flies away. Fundamental to spirituality is the absence of force.

– Rabbi Hugo Gryn

What are ways that you nurture spiritual development in your child?

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Finding the ‘real’ stuff

So I have a confession. I usually consider myself pretty tech savvy. This week however, I learned something that has fascinated me about the internet. Did you know that if you google any topic and then use the :edu you will pull up more resources with educational credibility?    It might look like this: fathering site:edu

I HAD NO IDEA!!!!

So I did that for our monthly topic on Fathers.  AND WOW! I found ‘real’ information from credible and research based resources.

DAD’S you gotta try this!  (ok everyone should!)

Here are just a couple of sites I can’t get enough of:

What are some great sites you found when you tried the :edu ?

 

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Learn, Re-learn, Over-learn

After listening to the podcast this month I found myself wondering about the things I have ‘over-learned’. Those things that come so easily to me now. And then I thought of my middle schooler and the things that are so difficult for her. I wondered how I could help her get to that ‘over learning’ that the podcast talks about so that she can be  less frustrated with certain subjects  (insert Math here).

As a parent sometimes it is so hard to watch our children struggle with different things in school. We want them to enjoy their days and not dread them. I am grateful that there are times that teachers have recognized struggling students and stepped in and said “hold up, we haven’t learned this yet and it’s not time to move on until we do”.  They concentrated on the learn, re-learn and over-learn.

As parents it is our job to continue the learning process. What are some things that you have done these first few weeks of summer to continue the learn, re-learn and over-learning of your school agers? Share your stories here with us!

For additional ideas see “Dare to Excel” publications from ISU Extension and Outreach (also available in Spanish).

 

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Episode 11: Using Technology to Help with Parenting

From podcasts to text messages and Skype, many parents are adding technology to their parenting toolkit. This month’s Science of Parenting podcast takes a closer look at how parents can use information and communications technology for parenting.

Related resources

Additional links to be posted with the news release

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Lions, Tigers and Costumes! OH My!

I thought a lot about Grover the last week or two. Thinking about the fact that he and his pals on Sesame Street really are technically ‘monsters’.  Puppets yes, but ‘monster’ puppets all the same. As a preschool teacher many years ago I recall vividly the day of our fire station field trip. The firefighter led the children through the station & stopped in front of the truck then slowly piece by piece put on his fireproof pants, coat, gloves …. And then the hat/mask…… several children yelled MONSTER!!!!!!  And began to cry. I was horrified. Both because I had traumatized the children and because the poor firefighter didn’t know what to do. Young children (toddlers/preschoolers/even through early elementary ages at times) have a difficult time distinguishing between fantasy and reality. As soon as the fire fighter put on the mask the human-ness was gone and the children’s brains thought monster. As adults we ‘know’ that the real human is still under the costume and the costume is creating a fantasy type character. Company/sports mascots, life size puppets, clowns and even Halloween costumes can fall into that fantasy category. My daughter was one of those children that was very scared of the costumed characters. We never went to an Barney Live or a Disney on Ice because the characters were roaming the halls mingling with guests. Even at 11 she still says “I’m not so scared of them but I really don’t like them mom”.  Have your children been scared of characters or clowns? What were some ways that you helped them through their fears?

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Introduction to Science of Parenting Podcast

Welcome to the Science of Parenting. Doug and Mike explain the kinds of parenting topics they’re going to be talking about in this new monthly podcast. They say you might even hear scientific information that could make you a better parent and ultimately mean your children turn out OK.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Infants learn more vocabulary words from parental interactions than from watching commercial DVD’s

A recent study revealed that babies learn vocabulary words better from interactions with their parents than from watching commercial DVDs which claim to enhance infants’ vocabularies. Researchers tested infants’ (12-18 months old) acquisition of new vocabulary words by comparing infants’ experiences with a commercial DVD designed and promoted for building vocabulary in infants.

To test the infants’ learning of vocabulary words, researchers constructed four learning environments. One learning environment included infants who watched a commercial DVD (designed and promoted to enhance infants’ vocabularies) with their parents at least 5 times per week for 4 weeks, for at least 10 or more hours of viewing time. Parents were asked to engage with their infants in a manner similar to what they would normally do when watching an educational video with their infant. The second learning environment consisted of infants who watched the video for the same amounts of time as the prior condition, but the infants did not engage in any parental interactions. The third learning environment was comprised of parents who were asked to interact with their infants by teaching them a list of 25 words that were shown in the video; infants in this scenario did not watch any videos. Finally, infants in the last condition were considered the “control” group—their parents did not receive any instructions and the infants and parents conducted their normal every day activities.

Interestingly, only the infants who did not watch any videos and only had their parents teaching them new vocabulary words (third learning environment) showed statistically significant increases in their vocabularies. Infants had the highest level of learning when their parents made a concerted effort to teach their children the same words during everyday activities without the aid of any videos. These findings are also consistent with prior research.

In conclusion, the researchers hypothesize that some parents may be overestimating the usefulness of videos to teach infants vocabulary words; in fact, it appears more likely that increases in infants’ vocabularies are the result of normal child development…not the videos infants are watching. Thus, parents who wish to boost their infant’s vocabulary should interact with their infant and concentrate on teaching them vocabulary words through their everyday interactions, as opposed to having their child watch DVD’s.

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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