Thursday, January 31, 2008

Does Your Child Get Adequate Exercise?

As a parent you have numerous worries every day, is your child eating enough good foods? Is your child doing well in school? Is your child developing at the pace he or she should? Is your child exercising enough? All of these are valid worries and now more so than ever, childhood obesity is becoming a larger problem (no pun intended) than ever - but there are steps you can take to keep your child out of this group.

Outdoor Activities

First of all, leave healthy choices out for snacks. Children tend to grab whatever is easiest and "there" - get rid of the fruit roll ups, chips and crackers and substitute those items with real fruits, carrot sticks or other veggies chilled and crunchy, and if your child likes a sandwich for an afterschool snack, make it a healthy one with fillings ranging from tofu to cheese to peanut butter.

Teach your child to watch portions. Once you start going over what a serving size actually is, your child may discover that he's actually been eating two or more servings of cereal or crackers at a sitting - those calories add up and the end result isn't good health. Start teaching your kiddo to make good choices now and they'll carry that lesson into their adult years.

Getting up and exercising is another way for kids to stay fit. In the colder areas of the United States, going outside and playing every day isn't an option so indoor activities have to . If your child enjoys playing video games or being on the computer - let him but limit those activities so they don't fore go healthier pursuits.

Teach your kids to make good choices with their foods and their bodies; in doing so you'll raise a healthy young person that make healthy decisions instead of another obesity statistic.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Make Your Child's First Sleep Over Party a Success

If your young child started school this year, chances are good that he or she has already been to one or more sleep over parties. If your kiddo is clamoring to have a sleep over of their own, do a little planning and you'll have a perfect night for everyone.

First of all, decide on the night to have your sleep over. Then have your child decide how many friends to invite over. A rule of thumb for parties both birthday and sleep overs is to invite the same number of friends as your child's age plus one. So if your child is 7-years old then inviting 8 friends would be about the maximum kids to have in your home at once.

Then let your child choose a few snacks. Try and keep them to healthy snacks instead of junk, you really do not want a house full of sugared up kids to keep track of. Thinly sliced veggies with ranch dip, cheese and crackers, cut up fruits such as apples and melons along with grapes and strawberries are usually hits. You can make a warm snack by cutting up potatoes into thin wedges and shaking them in olive oil and then a few spices (your choice) and then cooking until done and crisp on the edges. Kids eat these up! Have some fun games planned. You can use standard party games, Pictionary type games or guessing games usually go over well.

As far as sleeping, obviously all the kids won't fit into one bed so they will be sacking out on the floor. It's idea if you have a game room or play room; however if you don't - the living room is a good option too. That way you can keep tabs on everyone. If you child doesn't already have one, make sure that he or she has a sleeping bag and on the invitations, put down that each child will need to bring a sleeping roll or kids sleeping bag.

Just do a little planning in advance and your child's first sleep over will be the best!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's Time for a Desk. Think about P'kolino

Is your child asking for a desk of their own? A desk is an ideal place to do artwork, have a snack, read, daydream or do fun crafts. If you've put off getting your child a desk because you just didn't have the room to spare in his or her room; your dilemma has been solved with the compact yet very functional Kids Klick Desk.

This desk isn't your standard small table and chair. It's a smartly designed piece of furniture that is designed to give your child ample room to do activities as well as storage and when not in use, the Kids Klick Desk will fit together like a puzzle piece and tuck away until you're ready to use it again. This allows your child to have the benefits of a space to do activities without giving up extra room space.

Built with kids in mind, this children's desk has a comfy padded seat that is 12-inches high and there is a storage space underneath that is perfect for storing, pens, pencils, snub-nosed scissors and other supplies your child uses when creating, reading or doing their "work". There's a space saving play kit you can purchase separately that makes this desk even more functional.

If your child is ready for their own desk, get them a desk that won't take up a lot of space but will enable your child to truly have a space of their own.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Cool Kids Step Stool For Your Valentine

Looking for a fun gift for your favorite little Valentine? Make it something they can use all year round - like a step stool.

For the future football star this is a fun step up stool that will let him be a big man and step up to a multitude of tasks. From brushing his teeth to getting down his own juice cup. Let him join in watching the games on this solid American-made wooden stool. The stool is made with safety in mind and has no sharp edges and a rounded top making it easy and safe to carry.

Best of all, there's no mistaking who this stool belongs to, it has his name written right on it with a painted picture of a football.

For your Valentine princess, there are gorgeous, brightly colored Kids Step Stools that will be her helper for a lot of activities around the house. The selection includes stools with flowers, butterlflies, some plain, some for girls and others for boys.

Get your Valentine a gift they can really use every single day in a multitude of ways - get them a step up to independence with their very own step stool.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Skills for the New Year

No matter if you have a very young child or an older child - make it a priority that they acquire at least one new skill this month for the New Year.

Melissa and Doug's basic skills board is fantastic for little ones to learn the basics of dressing themselves. Another fun activity many little tykes enjoy is the simple activity of pounding wooden pegs into a board. While it's just plain fun for your little one, it's also teaching hand and eye coordination and even colors when you play games like "Pound the blue peg first" or "Hit the red peg" and let your child do so.

Older children will enjoy learning skills such as cause and effect in building blocks and even how the world of retail works by owning their own snack shop. Learning life skills can't be done early enough and kids can learn a lot though pretend play. 

Group play is especially beneficial as it allows your child to learn to listen to the ideas of others and even compromise when necessary. Learning to play well with others is paramount to getting along with other people throughout his or her life - learning those skills can't be done early enough.

If your elementary school age child has been asking for his or own savings account, you can let them practice with their own pretend play checking account. It comes with a calculator and you can practice with your child for saving and spending before they have the real thing.

If they got a check from Grandma or Grandpa for their birthday, let them spend the money at the bookstore or wherever you normally take your kiddo and then let them keep track of what they have spent in their checkbook. Learning life skills through pretend play is so powerful and will enable your kids to develop lasting skills they carry throughout their lives.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

One Good Thing About Bad Weather Shut In Days...

If you have younger children, you know what a challenge it is to keep their minds and hands busy. If you don't have something stimulating, they tend to get bored and start getting into mischief.

With winter in full effect for most of the country; your kids may be a little blue because the weather conditions don't allow them to go outside and play, you can take the opportunity to work with them on learning skills through fun play activities.

Study after study has shown that children readily absorb, maintain and can recall lessons learned through pleasurable activities such as simple play more than any other teaching method. If your little one is ready to start dressing himself, work with him on simple skills to help him learn to use his fine motor skills.

You can have fun with your kids as they use the Basic Skills Board and learn how to zip zippers, lace up laces, tie strings into knots and bows, button up the buttons and snap the snaps. All of these are skills that are necessary for being able to dress themselves.

The fun bear has a ton of fun things to do (and undo) again and again and you can let your child challenge himself and set a kitchen timer and see what his best time is for doing the whole board. You can also do only buttons or or just laces - and set a time for each one.

Another fun activity this board can be used for is to learn colors. Ask your little one to "Button the green button" and what him find it and do it. Then let him tell you a task to do. And take turns.

There are so many ways to use this fun board and all of them will not only keep your kiddo having fun - but learning!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Give in to Your Baby's Need to Spill!

Fill and Spill that is. It's never too early to stimulate your baby with a toy that will encourage development on many levels - along with being a whole lot of fun.

Babies love repetition as a part of play. Many babies become unsure or even frustrated when a toy doesn't perform the same sound or movement over and over. Most babies have an innate need to know what to expect and this in turn helps them gain confidence.

Pour objects out and watching them fall again and again through the grace of gravity is a never ending fascination for most babies. Give your little one a fun toy that will also work on building up his or her fine motor skills as well as grasping skills.

Melissa and Doug have put out so many wonderful toys for kids and the Fill and Spill is no exception to that rule. The Fill and Spill will keep your baby entertained for hours with four buggy friends that each make their own sound. One buggy rattles, while another jingles. Another squeaks and that last one crinkles. The toy is completely washable and easy to keep clean.

The bugs can be put into the container again and again and then poured out. Your baby will have so much fun experimenting with putting his or her hand inside the "bug jar" and then swirling the buggies around and then tipping the entire container and pouring them out. They can be stacked, counted and you an even play games and ask your baby to give you the bug that jingles or tell your baby to show you the color blue on a bug. There are so many levels of learning with just this one toy!

Delight and stimulate your baby with the fun of a Fill and Spill Toddler Toy and watch your child's mind and skills grow.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Artfully Smart Indoor Activities Your Kids Will Love!

Keeping your kids busy with activities that are stimulating and creative during the winter months can be a challenge. When you are on the lookout for the right supplies to fill your playroom with, it is always a good idea to find items that can be used for a variety of children. After all, each child has their own ways to explore and play, along with creating and experiencing arts and crafts. To be able to cater to all kinds of young minds, you might want to look to a terrific item such as the 4 Way Adjustable Easel.

Encourage creative thinking, the sharing of ideas and other facets of group play with an easel that lets 4 children have their own individual creation space. This also easily accommodates special needs children and adjusts to fit a standard wheelchair height so all the kids can enjoy creating.

When it comes to the various artwork that can be created with this easel, the sky is the limit! You have the choice of the addition of extra chalkboard or write and wipe panels, making this piece of playroom furniture the ultimate in arts and crafts. You are sure to be amazed at all of the beautiful things that children can create once they have all of the right tools to work with.

Let your kids expand their minds this winter when it's too cold to go outside and play, the 4 Way Adjustable Easel will offer up hours of fun and mind stimulating play.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Building Blocks of Basic Learning

Did you ever consider how powerful of a learning tool a simple bunch of blocks can be?There are so many ways to work with your child no matter what his or her age and teach them so many things with a simple group of building blocks.

The first thing that children can gain from playing with blocks is the development and fine tuning of gross and fine motor skills. Stacking blocks takes practice and even very small children will enjoy practicing carefully putting one block on top of another until it becomes unbalanced or an unsteady handy hits the wobbly tower of blocks and it comes crashing down - an action which delights most children too!

With practice, your child will learn to cause and effect. What happened when he or she stacked up the blocks too high? Finely placing blocks one on top of another also develops manual dexterity needed for grasping and picking up the blocks as well as learning to place them on top of each other in a straight manner.

You can move on when your child is older and talk about the shapes of the blocks. Squares and make rectangles and other shapes by stacking up blocks. Play guessing games and create shapes or have races and stack all the blocks of a like color together. All of these create fast thinking and decision making skills in your child.

Older children love and appreciate pretend play. Build a simple block house. Decide if it's really a house, a school, an office and talk about what could be going on inside.

There are so many ways to learn with a simple set of blocks, if your child doesn't already have a set, get one this week and watch how many ways your child can blossom!

Keeping Kids Focused

As a parent, I continuously struggle with teaching my kids to focus on tasks I give them. Then, one day, I realized that with a little variation I can teach my kids to focus as well. If you are a parent who goes around picking up after your kids and constantly telling them what to do next, then read on.

A Word of Caution:

Now you may have noticed that I wrote “struggle” and not “struggled” in my opening sentence. Unlike adults kids will take some time to grasp the concept, so it is an ongoing effort.
I am also, not a child psychologist and nor do I claim to have any such training. I am a parent. I have applied this technique. I have seen positive results. The many other people, who have applied this technique, have also seen positive results with their kids.
The technique you will learn here will help you to start the process, but in no way is “the” solution. As a parent you still have to make sure that your kids (or child) keep practicing this technique till it becomes second nature to them. Let us get started by first identifying the problem.

The problem:

As adults we unknowingly fall in to a wrong expectation. The expectation being that our kids are able to understand the word “focus” as we, adults, do.
How many times have you told your kids (or child) the meaning of focus and/or responsibility? I can say with upmost certainty that it has been one too many times, right?

What is Focus?

Focus is the ability for someone to devote their attention to a particular task for a set duration of time. Depending on different factors (like the age for example) each child has a different limit on how much he or she can focus on a particular task. Therefore, tasks need to be set accordingly.
Why is learning how to focus so important?
The ability to focus on a task is a key habit to develop and nurture in kids. As children become adults, they will have more and more things to do. Ask yourself how you feel when you are able to focus on a task and feel that you have made a significant effort. It makes you feel happy and confident, right. Therefore, you want to instill the same feeling of confidence in your kids. The ability to focus will help them in every area of life as they grow.

The solution:

Here are the very simple techniques. You will be introducing two things to your kids; a daily chore board and a monthly activity calendar. Following are is the technique and the steps you need to take to teach focus to your kids (or child):

I. First, relax and get excited. Do not show frustration. You want to be relaxed, happy and excited to start this project with your kids (or child). Pick a day that you can spend some an hour or two or uninterrupted time with your kids on this project.

II. This next step, you may want to do this step with your kids or you can do it ahead of time. From any office or stationary supply store buy a small erasable white board. From now on we will refer to this as the “Chore Board”. Also buy an undated monthly planner designed for kids. I would recommend the undated 30 day erasable wall planner for kids from Office Depot. It is a large child-oriented wall calendar and has a space to write the month as well as dates for each day of the week. We will refer to this as the “Activity Calendar”.

You will also need an eraser that is used with an erasable as well as some thumb tacks to pin-up the calendar. (The white board should come with some adhesives to be able to mount it on the wall.)

III. On the day you decide to do this project with your kids, have a small talk before hand. Explain to them that you would like to share a new activity with them. Tell them that you would like to teach them something new and exciting that will make them more organized and responsible. If this does not work, do what I did; ask them if they would like Mommy or Daddy not to be on their case so much!

IV. Next, show the kids the items you bought. Now find a place in the where they will see these items every day. Mount the chore board and the activity calendar next to each other. (I placed the chore board above the activity calendar.) Remember to mount the items at a height that is comfortable for your kids to read form and to write on.

V. Get your kids involved, and have them do this next step. Have them write on the chore board, the words “My Daily Chores”. Then, on the activity calendar have them fill in the current month and write the dates.

VI. Before moving on to the next step, explain to your kids what daily chores are. Then, ask them to write their daily chores on the chore board. They may start out by writing basic stuff like, wake up, brush teeth, etc. It’s o.k., they are getting engaged in the activity, and also you will be erasing the first draft anyway. Eventually you will have them write the chores that they forget to do on a daily basis. Limit it to a few chores. Remember, small steps. Do not overwhelm them.

VII. Once you are finished with the chore board, move to the activity planner. Tell them to write down any birthdays, family outings, violin lessons, soccer practice, etc.

VIII. Once the chore board and the activity calendar have been completed, give your kids a hug or pat on the back as this is a great achievement for them.

IX. Now, tell them that at the beginning and end of each day, they must review their chore board and activity calendar. As their parent you will need some follow-through on this. You will need to remind them about reviewing the chore board and activity calendar till they get into a habit. This may take a few weeks or it may take longer. Stick with it, but do not command. Just give them a friendly reminder, e.g. “have you checked your chore board today?” or “did you remember to put that on your activity calendar?”

X. As a last step, give yourself some well deserved credit, you too have made a significant contribution towards their well being. Not to mention that soon you will regain your sanity. I did.

The Next Steps

Being consistent and having follow-through is a key to seeing positive results.
Aside from the daily reminders at the beginning and end of each day, have the kids update the activity calendar and chore board at the beginning or the end of each monthly for the following month. Keep giving them positive reinforcement. There will be times where you may get frustrated. My advice is to stand fast and hold your ground. Keep in mind that they are kids and that their learning process is much different than adults.

About the Author: 

Salman is the developer of the SKK Planning System®, a comprehensive planning tool for achieving focus and a balanced life.