Gift and Giving

christmasgiftboxWelcome guest blogger, Carol Ehlers, Human Sciences Specialist, Family Finance for this months topic on “Gits and Giving”

Simple Christmases that are low on cost but high on meaning are possible. In fact, a $10 limit per person is possible by carefully planning holiday spending.

The first step to achieving a small holiday limit is to make the decision to hold down spending. Tell relatives and friends you’re choosing to set a budget for exchanging gifts. This can be hard to do, but you may find that keeping holiday spending down can pay off in some unexpected ways.

Next, decide how to spend the budgeted Christmas funds. Will some be spent on the adults, or will it all be spent on the children?

Be creative by giving “low-cost experiences.” Many studies show that material possessions do not equal happiness and that experiences are much more intrinsically fulfilling than things. A Cornell University 10 year study and Journal of Psychological Science report confirm why experiences have the ability to contribute to happiness more than material purchases. Successful low-cost experience examples range from pottery making, rock climbing, horseback riding, bowling or skate tickets. Consider “Every Kid in a Park” (a free year-long national park pass https://www.everykidinapark.gov/ or geocache treasure hunts that end with ice cream. Consider sharing a skill or classes to experience sewing, painting or other similar activity. To keep it low-cost, find a family member, friend or community event to teach the skill at a discount.

Proven family focused gifts range from museum or science center memberships–to orchestra or community theater tickets– to a tent for camping. Sometimes a material gift can lead to an experience.

Families who have tried this low-cost Christmas have found it was more meaningful. Families that keep to their Christmas budget plan enjoy the feeling of financial security knowing there won’t be large bills to try to pay in January. There is also a good chance those inexpensive and thoughtful gifts will bring out the best in everyone and will be more meaningful.

 

We would love to hear about your inexpensive gift ideas! Share with us!

For more ideas download a free copy of ISU Extension and Outreach publication “Track Your Spending,” or “This is the Way I Spend My Money” a 12-month spending record.

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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Gratitude Diaries

Little girl looking at her mother

Little girl looking at her mother

I’m reading the Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan and loved the chapter on Raising Grateful Kids.  Her stories about UN-grateful preteens and young adults who resented the sense of obligation that comes with “thanking” their parents made me think about how we approach gratitude with our kids.  Do we demand that they be grateful for all we do for them?

 

Modeling appreciation is the best way to teach gratitude.  How often does our family hear us express gratitude for our job or coworkers? For the checker at the grocery store? For access to safe, nutritious food? For the privilege of transportation to get where we need and want to go? When was the last time your kids heard YOU say thanks to their other parent for something that just gets done at home? Have your kids seen YOU handwrite a thank you note to a friend for taking time to have lunch together? or bringing in the garbage cans that blew down the street?  Appreciating the small things keeps us from taking things for granted. Learn more ways to raise grateful kids in this video Teach your kids the gift of giving.

My granddaughter signs ‘Thank you’ to her Papa when he gets her a drink of water.  My heart swells when I see her learn this simple act of gratitude.  It starts early and extends throughout our life.  I started using the Five Minute Gratitude Journal to keep me focused on looking on the bright side of life.

Thank someone this week for who they are, or what they did, or that they are in your life. . .  and tell us what happened to YOUR heart. To their attitude. To the relationship.

Kristi Cooper

Kristi’s expertise in caregiving, mind body skills and nature education inspires her messages about healthy people and environments with parents, professionals, and community leaders.

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One More Throwback – Kindness

camp2If you look on the left hand side of the blog website you can see the ‘tags’ of some of the issues we’ve covered over the years.

I decided to pull another topic and added a few of our resources to go with it.  Please browse the topics – I have enjoyed re-reading and listening to some of our throwbacks.

Kindness is Learned by ‘Feeling’ Kindness

 

 

Below are downloadable resources in both English and Spanish to support a home and school connection.   Dare to Excel Resources

Service Learning Spanish

Service Learning English

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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Throwback Time- Creating Grateful Children

Kids volunteering at food drive

Last December we shared information with you on Creating Grateful Children . Throughout November, we are going to take you back to some of our previous topics as a way of continuing to create conversations relevant to today’s parenting dilemmas.

As you listen to the podcast, consider how gratitude has come into play in your family over the last year. Did you implement any of the ideas in the “Teaching Children How to be Grateful” blog? Did you see additional ideas in the What We All Want video?

It seems like whenever November comes around people begin to talk about being thankful and or grateful. But I’m curious… how did you share your thankfulness and gratefulness all year log.

Share with us, we would love to hear from you.

 

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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Screen Time and YOU

technology-momSTEM – or Science; Technology; Engineering and Math are classes that students will be introduced to as they become school ready. Many children have had plenty of access to technology through their use of a computer, gaming device or cell phone. These devices are preparing them to observe, think, navigate, and negotiate among other things.

A recent non-scientific poll hosted on our Science Of Parenting twitter account asked parents about how much screen time they support for their children ages 5 – 10 and 61% indicated 1 – 2 hours daily. 18% said less than an hour daily and 12% reported between 3 – 5 hours daily. It’s not hard to contemplate that much screen time when you consider schools use computers for some instruction and homework; along with television and gaming devices all popular with kids.

Adults too, are faced with decisions about their own screen time. And really, because technology has skyrocketed, screens are used in most all professions including medicine; education; agriculture and manufacturing, to name a few. When we asked adults about how many hours a day they were in front of a screen 76% estimated they were in front of a screen between 4 and 8 hours a day for work alone. In addition, 46% of respondents indicated they may spend an additional 1 – 2 hours daily in front of a screen viewing social media. And don’t forget the TV, adults reported viewing an average of 1 – 2 hours of television daily.

Managing screen time and finding a healthy balance for the entire family is necessary! If you should like to read more about screen time and health and wellness of your children, check out this Science of Parenting publication: Video Games and Other Media: Pros and Cons

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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Technology as an Ally

I just finished a conversation with a broadcast news reporter regarding our topic for the month. One comment of his really had an impact on me. “So what you’re saying, is that we need to see technology as an ally in our parenting instead of the enemy,”

He is absolutely correct. As our children begin to use more and more technology in their day to day life, it becomes important for us as parents to see how we can interact with them both. Both, meaning the child and the technology.

One of the things he and I talked about was utilizing technology outdoors to enhance our time exploring nature. Imagine going on a nature walk with your child. You find a peculiar looking bug. If you happen to have technology with you, in an instant you can look up what kind of bug you found. You can learn facts about its habitat, life expectancy and even its eating habits. With technology, you have just enhanced the nature walk right then and there with your child.

Technology and parenting doesn’t have to be an all or nothing battle between you and your child. Why not think of it as a way to enhance your relationship and explore the possibilities of learning together alongside technology. Find the balance between ‘no technology’ parent-child time and ‘focused use of the technology’ (as your ally) .

We would love to hear ways that you have used technology to enhance interactions with your child? Share with us!

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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21st Century Technology Skills and Children

Child and phone at schoolAs more adults and children want or already have a cell phone, tablet or other device, families may being to wonder: How much technology is too much – or not enough? Our phones, tablets and computers give us a direct connection to all kinds of information, games and entertainment, and communicating with family and friends. The technology also provides opportunities for learning. According to the National Education Association, in order for today’s students to compete globally, they need 21st century skills: They have to be able to communicate, create, collaborate and think critically.  Understanding how to use technology can help kids, and parents, build these skills. However, screen time can get out of control at any age. The technology we have access to has the potential to help us, if we are disciplined enough to know when to use it and when to put it down, and interact with the people around us. As they say, everything in moderation, and that includes technology too. Just because a particular technology is available, doesn’t mean you have to embrace it. As a parent, you have the final say in what and how much technology comes into your home.

This month the Science of Parenting Bloggers will discuss how technology can be family friendly, how to support the positive use of social media with family members, and how to set boundaries for a healthy balance of technology and face-to-face social interaction.

 

october-technology

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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Teen employment. Personal perspectives.

I started thinking about this blog from my own perspective. Typed up a fabulous post. I checked my spelling and punctuation. Just before hitting submit I stopped and wondered. What if I asked a real live teenager about how they felt their part-time job benefited them? Would they confirm what research shows? And what if I talked to an employer that provides many youth with part-time work experiences? Would they also support the studies on youth and jobs?

So that’s what I did. I realize this maybe isn’t the most scientific way to confirm research, but I still think its valid and maybe somewhere a tad bit reliable.

Insights from youth:

  • “I had to learn how to keep a calendar and think ahead. Trying to think about when I may need to ask off for family vacations was a new thing for me. Sometimes I had to learn the hard way.”
  • “I learned that sometimes even when you are polite others may not be. I learned to be polite anyway. I think that being able to do that was important as I moved on to college. I didn’t take things as personally because of what I learned at my job.”
  • “Having a boss tell you what to do is different than having parents or teachers tell you what to do. I think that was a big adjustment because I learned how people work differently together.”
  • “Keep track of your money. Ask your parents to help you put money away to save.”

As I reviewed what we shared during the podcast earlier this month, I found that the students that I talked with confirmed what research shows. Youth learn responsibility, time management, record keeping and social skills from being employed.  Maybe I have a career in research after all.

Let us know about what youth in your lives have learned from their jobs. We’d love to hear!

 

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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Teen jobs: Failure is one step closer to success

86489804-campers280I remember my first summer job! It was waitressing and cleaning tables at a local steak house. It was a very humbling experience, as the first time I delivered a large tray of plated steaks to a table, I didn’t consider the balance of the tray and promptly, dropped all of them on the floor.

In my horror, I looked at the steaks on the floor, and looked back at the customers, who were staring too! I know they were conflicted! They wanted to make me feel better; I apologized profusely, knelt down and began collecting my mess and immediately returned to the kitchen with the order ticket, to have the steaks – PREPARED AGAIN!

I have heard it said repeatedly, every failure is one step closer to SUCCESS! And it is true. So, what did I learn about my job as a teenager. I learned that having a job comes with responsibility. I had to clock in on time, deliver the steak dinners with a smile on my face and confidence in my step. I learned that I could not quit because of one “glass of spilled milk”, that I needed to sweep up my mess, apologize and carry on!

I also learned quickly, that teenage employment is a time to determine the specific skills I have, the skills I want to sharpen, and define the things that I don’t care to do in the future. I have never worked in the restaurant industry since. My decision to work with people in another capacity, education, seems to fit my skill set better!

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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Children and Financial Literacy

As we continue to share about children and money, we would like to highlight this blog from fellow Human Sciences teammates in the Family Finance arena.

Maybe After A Million Words

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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Teens and Jobs

girl gardeningTeenagers may view getting a job simply as a way to earn money, and that’s a valid reason to work. However, employment may bring additional benefits to teens and perhaps a few concerns for their parents. Teens who have earnings from a part time job can learn how to save and budget their money. This is important, because money management is an essential life skill. Research shows that youth also learn responsibility and gain time management, record keeping and social skills from being employed. Although, parents may worry that teens who take on a part time job may let their school work slip, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, notes several studies indicating a positive relationship between working 20 or fewer hours per week and higher levels of subsequent educational attainment. Today’s teens need educational and work experiences that will enable them to compete for jobs, excel academically and live healthy lives.

In September, we’ll explore how employment helps teens develop essential life skills.

September 2016

 

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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How did Bobby’s parents manage?

This summer while on a trip back to my childhood community, I visited a cousin who is now 90+ and living in a care facility. Eloise and I took a walk through the hallways and I was surprised to run into Bobby who is also a resident.

Bobby is the brother of one of my high school classmates. His family lived on a farm near ours, went to the same church, and was just always a part of the usual activities in the community. So, why do I mention Bobby? Well, it’s because Bobby has special health and behavioral needs. As a child and teenager, I didn’t think too much about Bobby – he was just Bobby and everyone helped take care of him. But as an adult, I look back and think, “How did his parents manage? How did they take care of Bobby and his brothers as well as give time to their marriage and personal lives?”

My guess is that while Bobby’s parents had their ups and downs, they took care of themselves. Providing care for a child with special health and behavioral needs means that the parents/caregivers are in it for the long haul. The caregivers must take care of themselves first so that they can take of their child.

Powerful Tools for Caregivers is a program for caregivers of children with special health and behavioral needs. Caring for a child with special needs changes parents’ lives. In this program parents learn tools to manage self-care. Here’s an example of one tool – taking action with stress reducers.

Participants in the classes learn to identify their personal warning signs and sources of stress. Then they think about what they have done to successfully reduce stress. People share things like: walk, visit a friend, listen to music, read, not try to do everything, play a sport, etc. Stress reducers are personal and what suits one person may not suit another.

The important point is to find ways to reduce stress – something that is enjoyable and works for you. Even little things can make a big difference for parents. As I remember, Bobby’s parents found ways to reduce stress. They were a part of church activities, Bobby’s dad played horseshoes with the neighborhood men, and Bobby’s mom tended pretty flowers in their yard.

If you’re interested in learning more tools to help you thrive as a caregiver of a child with special health and behavioral needs, check out Powerful Tools for Caregivers classes in your area.

 

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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Classroom Strategies to Support Special Needs Children

iStock_000005759838Small[1]Downs_1 copyThe beginning of the new school year can be an anxious time for parents of a child with special needs. Parents may worry about whether their child will be accepted into a new classroom. They may also worry about their child’s classmates and the teacher that is assigned. The school year is a long time, so every child deserves an environment that is suitable for learning and growing.
All children have the need for belonging, and yet, for children with special needs, they can often be left out by their classmates or left behind in their classroom studies. Having a learning disability doesn’t mean a child cannot learn, it simply means, the approach a teacher takes must be intentional so that the child CAN learn.

A few strategies that can make a big difference in the classroom include:

  • limiting distractions – teachers who are organized ahead of time, who can limit the number of interruptions or distractions can help a child stay focused on the learning.
  • breakdown instructions – teachers who will keep instructions short and who will repeat the instructions help students who need that reinforcement.
  • devise opportunities for students success. It may not seem important, but when students with special needs experience success in the classroom, it creates excitement that will reinforce their desire to try again! It is the support of the teacher, acknowledging student success that can make all the difference.

So parents, as school draws near, advocate for your child and watch your student succeed!

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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The Stress of Special Needs

iStock_000005759838Small[1]Downs_1 copyThe demands of parenting often are multiplied for parents of children with special health and behavioral needs. However, these parents will be better able to provide care for their children if they also take care of themselves. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 15 percent of U.S. families have a chronically ill child with special health needs. The extra demands cause stress that affects the whole family.

Caring for a child with special needs can require additional time, which can mean you have less time for your other children, your spouse or aging parents, who also need your attention. Maybe you’ve been criticized or judged by others who simply do not understand your child’s condition. You may feel isolated from other parents, because how could people who don’t have a child with special needs possibly know what you are going through?  Parents often are trying to learn about their child’s disability and find treatments and resources. They’re coping with the emotional and physical challenges of providing care as they coordinate healthcare treatments, advocate for their child and pay for necessary services. No wonder parents of children with special needs often are exhausted and even depressed,

Join us this month as we self-care tips and resources that can help parents cope. We will discuss ways that family members can support each other and we’ll also talk about when and how to reach out for assistance. In addition we will explore resources for reducing stress that are available through ISU Extension and Outreach.

August 2016

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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At Home with Nature

Children running on meadow at sunset

My childhood memories of nature include holding soft baby kitties, bicycling on the dusty gravel road, watching ants in the grass, hanging upside down in the swing in the big oak tree, collecting rocks, and digging tunnels in snow drifts. What are your favorite outdoor memories? Did you know that those experiences, in an unstructured, extended time frame, form the foundation of curiosity, learning and development of empathy? Scooping and dumping sand, making mud pies and stacking wood scraps were how you might have begun to learn physics and mathematics? Climbing a tree, running on uneven ground and carrying branches help a child develop body awareness, strength and visual spatial skills. Want your kid to be able to parallel park when he learns to drive? Give him outdoor experiences manipulating large natural materials and chances are he’ll be at the head of his driver’s ed – or graphic design – class. Kids also learn to manage risk and problem solve when they have early experiences in natural settings. Pokémon Go the virtual reality game may be a way to get kids outdoors, however unless they pay attention to the surroundings and explore those spaces, it does not substitute for actual experience with nature. Geocaching is another way for families to explore the out of doors.

I’ve been a certified Nature Explore trainer since 2009.  Thousands of Iowa early childhood professionals – teachers, child care providers, naturalists, parks and rec staff and parents – have learned to use tested design principles to help children connect to nature. Imagine my joy when I was invited to participate in a research project on Nature Explore backyards in Iowa City.  It was magical to watch  families embrace the concepts and open their backyards to transformation.  My memory of watching a toddler explore sound in his family’s new outdoor ‘classroom’ sustains me whenever I do a design consultation or teach a workshop. Excerpts from that research are in the book At Home with Nature.

My own backyard contains the Nature Explore principles and I’m having fun seeing how they will change over time as my 16 month old granddaughter grows up. Watching her pick and eat berries for the first time, check out the wren’s nest and sing back to the momma and papa birds, stack river stones, fill a pail with pinecones, turn sea shells over and over in her tiny hands and swing in the mosquito netting hammock all fill my heart with gratitude and hope for her future.

How do you help your kids connect to nature?

Kristi Cooper

Kristi Cooper

Kristi’s expertise in caregiving, mind body skills and nature education inspires her messages about healthy people and environments with parents, professionals, and community leaders.

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