The 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!
Confession. 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.
Want kids to eat their vegetables and do better in school? Get them involved in gardening. Research has shown that children who have the opportunity to plan, plant and harvest are more likely to eat vegetables and to continue eating vegetables throughout their life time. Gardening also can help children apply concepts learned in school. For example, writing and journaling are important garden skills, and math and measurements are necessary for garden design. If you and your family can have your own garden, that’s great; but there are other ways to get kids interested in gardening.
- Head to the public library, because books are a great way to start the conversation, Hayungs said. “A book about vegetables can get you talking about your child’s favorites. Talk about the colors, feel and taste of veggies.”
- Visit a farmers market or grocery store and talk about new or unusual vegetables on display.
- Explore the nutrition and growing facts about different vegetables. Then make a list of favorites and begin to think about a garden growing plan.
Learn more from tips in the podcast below and share your thoughts and experiences with us.
Podcast script July 2016
Science of Parenting live interview with Quad Cities television station. Click here
Many parents think they can hide financial stress from their children, but the kids always know – and they’re worried, too. Talking together openly about family finances is a better way to lower everyone’s stress level and also teach kids about money.
Listen in while we start the conversation on children and money.
may podcast script
As I started thinking about chores and my childhood I was struck by a memory. I remembered how my sister and I divided our chores as pre-teens. We would take mom’s list, write the chores on small slips of paper, put them in a stocking hat and shake shake shake the hat. We then took turns pulling out the slips of paper. Groaning or cheering soon commenced followed by contemplative silence.
It was in this silence that I believe our ‘true’ learning happened. Imagine us analyzing our list. Carefully calculating how long the tasks would take. Considering the impact the list was about to have on our play time. Silently we would also process each other’s list in our heads. Deciphering if it might be worth it to try to trade out tasks to fit our play time plans better. Tasks, total time and overall effort became part of the chore equation.
I would like to say that our tasks always got done… but we were just kids after all. Sometimes we spent too much time on the processing, negotiating and trading. Other times we called in the neighborhood friends to help us finish faster and it actually took much longer than expected. Its also possible that every once in awhile mom may have shown up before the stocking hat selection even got started.
Regardless, we learned. We learned how important we were to our family unit. We learned and were proud. Proud of our creative process, our innovative ideas and our ability to negotiate to meet our own individual desires and needs. Chores weren’t always fun, but they were always at least a bit interesting. (I wonder where that stocking hat is?)
“It’s not fair”; “I don’t have time”; “It’s not my job”; Words often expressed by children who are asked to complete some household task!
Taking responsibility for a household task can assist children learn essential life skills, including taking responsibility, and expressing generosity. Families who work together to make decisions, keep the house clean, and care for one another, can use that energy to tackle even tougher issues! Don’t give up parents! Teaching your children to accept responsibility through assignments at home will create strong children!
When children don’t have time for household chores, it’s time to reevaluate their busy schedules.
Many parents are concerned about their children’s achievement and success. But some fill their children’s schedules with so many activities, tutoring sessions and private lessons, that there is no time left for learning to help at home. However, getting your kids to complete household chores may be a better strategy for long-term positive social and academic outcomes than whatever additional activities they are involved in.
Research from the University of Minnesota found that young adults who began chores at ages 3 and 4 were more likely to have good relationships with family and friends, to achieve academic and early career success and to be self-sufficient, as compared with those who didn’t have chores or who started doing chores as teens.
Join us this month as we talk about children and chores.
Alert! Attention! Calling all parents and adults. Yes, YOU! I’m talking to you. Kids are watching. They are watching everything you do and everything you say. Some of the most important lessons kids learn about kindness are observed. But, will they pick up caring behaviors simply from watching? Yes, they will model our behavior, but they will emulate much more, if we can intentionally discuss and encourage positive interactions. It’s our duty and responsibility as parents to point out the positive interactions that we observe and to be mindful that kids might be watching every move we make, so we had better behave!
As I was reading about kindness I became fascinated by the brain research. I sat there thinking “Well of course, the brain is in charge of our feelings. Why wouldn’t it be the center of this conversation?”.
Our brains are in charge of our emotions and our actions. Our brains take the input we receive from others. Process the information. Tell us how to emotionally respond. And our actions become the response. Makes perfect sense. The brain is in charge of kindness.
And then I read this, “our brain learns best about kindness when it FEELS kindness”. There is was.
How should I teach my children about kindness? Help them FEEL kindness.
Children learn kindness when they ‘feel’ what its like to make someone else smile. And their brain learns.
They learn about kindness when they share with others, when they comfort others, when they give to others. And their brain learns.
Suddenly writing this blog topic wasn’t rocket science, but is was brain science. It was simply thinking about all of the ways that children can be kind to others and understanding that while they do this – their brain learns.
Children aren’t born knowing how to be kind or compassionate. However, these virtues can be taught.
How do we raise kids who are compassionate and kind? We can give them opportunities to practice being kind. Children must learn to be kind, just as we learn language. Practice makes perfect and parents can encourage such simple opportunities like helping with housework. Parents can help children learn how to focus on others who need help. Children need to hear from their parents that caring for others is a top priority.
Harvard researchers tell us that children aren’t born good or bad, and we should never give up on them. They need adults who will help them, at every stage of their childhood, to become caring, respectful and responsible for their communities.”
Join us this month as we share ideas about the importance of raising children to be kind and compassionate. Listen to the podcast below or read the transcript.
We love hearing from you, so join us!
As parents, we want what’s best for our children. But as a parent I’ve experienced the urge to provide experiences and material possessions that I wasn’t fortunate enough to have had as a child and as an adult I have the financial means to provide for my child. I have learned that this urge needs to counter with the question of “what is best?”.
How do we know what’s best? I ask myself this question every birthday, and every holiday. I have used a couple questions to keep my urge to give under control. The first question I ask is “Is this gift or experience good for them?” In other words, does giving this gift promote or prevent learning? Then I evaluate the financial impact that this gift will have on our family budget. Does it use too many family resources that should be used or saved for something else? College isn’t many years away even for an infant. Even little purchases add up over the years. The last question I consider is that of need. Is the gift something I want? Does it benefit me more than my child? Am I using the gift as a way to compensate for time, I wish I had spent with my child?
Overindulging and buying too much has become epidemic among parents. As parents we need to question our purchases and respond with moderation and mindfulness. Even with good intentions, the results of giving too much can be harmful.
Do some kids have too much stuff? Are they over involved in sports or dance or other activities? Knowing how much is too much often may depend on whether children also are getting enough positive interaction with the adults in their lives. Highly stressful, competitive lifestyles and unavailable parents may make children more vulnerable to mental health problems and may compromise their well-being. The excessive pressure to achieve combined with physical and emotional isolation and neglect from parents, has extreme negative effects on children, regardless of the family’s financial resources.
When families become too invested in extrinsic rewards – the stuff – while at the same time neglecting intrinsic needs such as closeness in their relationship, that’s when negative mental health outcomes are more likely. Protecting children from overindulgence is a balance that puts more emphasis on love than on money.
Join us this month as we talk about overindulgence and its impact on children’s happiness.
Overindulgence Script Feb 2016
Eat better. Exercise more. Get organized. Learn something new. It’s that time of year when adults make resolutions to help them reach their goals. It’s also a good time for parents to help their children build goal-setting skills. To succeed in school and in life, children need to be able to make their own decisions and guide their own behavior. Setting goals can help kids learn to connect their own personal choices with the end results. Parents can be involved by helping their children think about and set personal goals, and then encouraging them to work toward the goals.
As you work on goals, try to avoid steering your child toward the goal you want him or her to achieve. Offer guidance, but let your child choose the goal. Children who have a say in what they are learning are more motivated to succeed. What matters is that children see themselves making progress. This is far more important than what the specific goal is.
Just us this month as we talk about goal setting with children.
Listen to the podcast below or read the script here. Jan2016 Podcast Script
Children can get caught up in a holiday frenzy of opening gifts and searching for more, without really paying attention to the gifts themselves or the gift givers. They can seem to be on a greedy quest. The experience can leave parents dazed and wondering how to encourage old fashioned gratitude and graciousness in their children.
Before holiday gift giving morphs into gift grabbing, parents can help their children move from greedy to grateful.
Join us this month as we blog about creating grateful children.