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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How to End Homework Battles

As a parent with 3 school going children, I had found that the biggest school year challenge was the difficulty I faced in getting my kids to do homework. My daughter is a very conscientious worker, however, she is easily distracted through phone calls from friends, favorite TV programs etc, such that sometimes she stayed up as late as 12 midnight to do her work before sleeping. This is of course a very bad habit and in the long run, may cause her to fall sick. My elder son was the opposite, almost everyday, he would say that he had no homework. Fortunately, my younger son (so far) will completely all his homework before involving in any recreation activities like watching TV or playing computer games.

With so many other attractive ways for kids to spend their time, getting them to buckle down and complete that extra bit of schoolwork can be like pulling teeth. As with any chore, though, there are strategies you can use to get it done and make it more fun.

1. Make Time for Homework
Fitness gurus have known this for years: you are more likely to stick to an exercise regimen if you do it at the same time everyday and make it an inviolable part of your schedule. The same goes for homework. Don't leave it up in the air as to when homework will be completed. This only ensures that it won't get completed until you have an extended argument with your child about it-usually one hour after bedtime. Instead, sit down with your child and review your family schedule for the upcoming semester. Decide where homework will fit in your daily schedule and make it non-negotiable. It is always helpful to anchor homework time to some other regular activity. Good choices are: directly after school or right before or after dinner. (Scheduling homework in the hour before bedtime is usually not a good practice since your child may be too sleepy to do a good job.)
It is also important to dedicate a set amount of time for homework. This will discourage students from rushing through homework so that they can watch the latest Disney video. What is a reasonable amount of time to spend on homework? That varies with age. Check with your child's teacher. It is generally accepted, though, that First and Second graders should spend about a half hour on homework each night while Third and Fourth graders might need to spend as much as an hour per night.
2. Don't Accept No for an Answer
A common refrain from students is "I finished my homework in school" or "The teacher didn't assign us any homework today." It should not matter that they don't have a specific assignment. Homework is an extension of the learning that occurred that day in school, and what they learned that day can be extended in any number of ways. Students can read silently during their allotted homework time, they can look up information in an encyclopedia to enhance what they are learning in Science or Social Studies, or they can look at flashcards, practice math facts, and test their spelling. This is how to teach your child to be a self-directed learner. You will be giving them a gift to get them in the habit of doing this now. When they are in high school, having this extra study habit will bring them academic success.

3. Establish a Partnership with Teachers
Early in the school year make an effort to get to know your child's teacher. Make an appointment to talk with the teacher in the first few weeks of school, so that you can express your desire to be a good partner in your child's education. She will appreciate it, and you will be one step closer to a smooth school year. Find out what her homework policy is so that you know what to expect. It is also helpful to know how high her standards are, so that you can ensure that your child's homework is acceptable.
4. Provide the Right Environment
Most people's advice on homework is to set up a desk in your child's room and make sure that they have a quiet and distraction-free work environment. This sounds very reasonable, but few people seem to be able to follow this advice. I know many students who instead do their homework on the living room floor, at the kitchen counter, or at the dining room table. My younger son will follow me into whichever room that I am in to do his homework. It seems that some people work best when they aren't isolated from household activity. If that is the case with your child, then provide a small traveling office for him so that he has all of the necessary items at hand and won't waste time running around the house looking for a sharp pencil. With all the supplies nearby, and distractions limited to the general background noise of family living, your student ought to be able to concentrate on homework. 

5. Set a Good Example
"Do as I say not as I do" is no longer considered appropriate parental advice. In order to instill the proper values in our children, we must model them. If we expect our children to be conscientious, hard-working students, then that is what they must see in us. Make an effort to show your child your work ethic by reading trade magazines and business books while they do their homework. Take out a pencil and write notes as you read. Investigate ideas fully. If you read something interesting in the newspaper, look up information about it on the Internet. Always be eager to learn something new. Sign up for an adult education class, teach yourself to knit, or write that novel you've always dreamed of. The more that you can show your child that learning is a lifelong adventure that requires their involvement, the more likely it is that homework will cease being a chore and start being an integral part of a life well-lived.

If you take the time to set up these parameters around homework, you'll find that you waste less energy arguing over homework and making up for lost assignments. You'll have more time and energy for other pursuits, and so will your child. What's more, you'll discover that the benefits of hassle free homework add up to more than just scheduling efficiency, they equal a better education.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Encouraging Kindness and Compassion in our children

We know that children are born with an inborn capacity for compassion. They tend to their toys and pets with loving care. Whenever I should get even a small bum or hurt, my youngest son is the first to run to me and ask me "Are you OK mum." and give me a hug. However, as they grow older, due to peers, TV or even wrong upbringing they tend to hurt cats and dogs, bully younger kids and so forth. As a parent it is best that we encourage kindness and a sense of responsibility to others from young.

Show the child how to be gentle.
Preschooler and toddlers wouldn't know how to be gentle with their baby brother, sister or cousins etc. We can demonstrate how they should gently stroke the baby and explain that the baby is very frail as compared to him or her and that she will cry out in pain if handled roughly. Hugging your child and kissing him better will teach him how to behave when his baby brother is crying or when his friends and cousins are hurt.

Speak Softly.
By using a soft, warm and caring tone of voice whenever the child is hurt or in pain we demonstrate how the child should treat others.

Saying Sorry.
All parents are short-tempered at sometime or other. So if you have made a mistake be sure to apologise so that he'll learn that even mum can make mistakes and know that he should also apologise if he does something wrong.

Reject Rudeness.
Your child should be made aware of what action is rude from young. If he spit into someones face, or beats someones, snatches toys from sibling etc, explain what he has done is wrong and rude. Don't be harsh with him, always use a kind and loving tone and yet a no nonsense manner. After my son started to attended Kinder garden classes, he started using words such as "Stupid and Idiot". He was just parroting what he had heard from his classmates. I sat with him and explained gently that using those are wrong and that he was being rude. He was very surprised and now is very concerned whenever he uses a word he is not too sure. He generally checks with me what it means etc.

Provide structure by setting firm limits on behavior.
Make unacceptable behavior, like hitting always unacceptable, even if it is your child's birthday. If something is wrong, it has to be wrong at all times without exceptions. It is when limits to behavior are not provided that children get very self-centered.

Teach your child to provide a helping hand.
When our neighbours went away on a short holiday, we took care of their hamsters and helped to water the plants. Get your child to be involved in helping others. My kids took turn in watering the plant, changing the sand and feeding the hamsters.

Make good manners a part of your child's daily routine.
Encourage your child to greet the neighbours, hold the lift doors for others etc. When I bring my kids shopping or to the food court I will ask one of them to pay for the shopping or food and remind them that they should be polite and say "Thanks" to the cashier or others who help them.

Outlaw name calling.
Compassion starts with what's acceptable and what's not. Often when kids quarrel, they will usually name call each other. Explain that being kind to others is the rule and that even if you don't like someone (having a tiff with someone), you do have to be nice to them.

Give consequences for wrong actions.
If the be-nice rule is broken, stick with simple, concrete consequences such as a brief time-out or losing a special toy for a day.

Label kindness.
When you see your child offer her toy to her friend, label her action by saying "What a good friend you are," or "You're very thoughtful." Overtime she'll understand that being helpful is something very valuable.

Be considerate yourself.
While it is tempting to hand out birthday - party invitations at the park instead of going to the trouble of mailing them, explain to your child that kids who see other children getting invitations but don't receive one themselves may feel hurt. All through the year, get her in the habit of sending cards to friends and relatives who could use a kind word: Thank-you notes, sympathy cards, get-well wishes. If your child cannot write messages yet, get her to draw pictures to decorate the card and then help her to write the message.

Don't trash talk.
Kids are always listening and are keen observers. How we talk on a daily basis about our relatives and friends tells them a lot. So keep meanness in check and show that you have a spirit of kindness and generosity.

The Poor and the Needy.
Explain about those who are poor and needy, those affected by famines, floods, hurricanes etc, and how he can help. Tell him that there are many ways to help these people. He could contribute from his piggy bank, donate his old toys and clothes or donate his time (this is especially good for older children) by helping in the old folks homes etc.

Use stories.
Reading books together can be a natural way to help your child start to understand that children aren't all the same. Books like Faith the cow by Susan Bame Hoover, about how the gift of a cow can change the life of a poor family, or any of the many Aseop's fables to explain morals etc, can show our children that there are those who are less fortunate then them.

Point out heroes.
Explain about fire fighters, rescue workers, doctors and volunteers and what they do to help the community.

Explore feelings.
Talking about book, movie or cartoon will help your child understand emotion. For eg, Ask your child why does she think the witch was jealous of Snow white? So that she can learn that people react in certain manners because of their feelings.

Monitor Media.
If the characters on television are hitting each other or calling each other names, shut off the TV, or at least, talk about what's going on. Children don't just watch TV, they internalize it, and don't get irony, so be careful of what they're memorizing.

Set high standards.
When it comes to your child's responsibility to be caring and compassionate, expect more by setting high standards. Don't let teasing or bullying be unaddressed.

These are some to the ways that we as parents can influence our children to be kind and compassionate.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Encouraging good behaviour for young children

As parents, we are the first role model for our children. We have to use our own behaviour to guide our children. What we do is much more important than what we say. For example, if you want your child to be helpful and kind, remember to allow others to enter the lift before you, give up your seats to an elderly on the bus or train, etc. This way, they will have a perfect example on how to be helpful, be courteous, generous, and any other good behaviour you would like to inculcate.

As a parent, we must keep the promises we have made and follow through. Only then will your child learn to trust and respect you. For example, when you say you will leave the play ground if she continues to throw sand around, then be prepared to leave immediately if she does do so. No need to make a fuss about it - the more matter-of-fact you behave in this situation the better.

When speaking to your young child, kneel or squat down to her level. By getting close, you will be able to tune in to what they might be feeling or thinking. When you are close to her, you will have her attention and so she can focus on what you are saying or asking her.

Listen actively by repeating back to them what you think they might be feeling. This will help to relieve some of their tension and make them feel respect and comforted.

Reward good behavior. Whenever your childs is behaving in a way that you like, give her positive feedback, for eg, "Wow, your play area is so neat. I like it when you return your toys to your toy box after playing. This is called 'descriptive praise'. By saying positive comments like praises and encouragements instead of negative comments such as criticism and reprimands we help to build their self-confidence and self worth. Do remember that children will seek out negative attention if they do not receive any attention at all.

Reserve rules for the most important thing. Before intervening in anything your child is doing, ask yourself if it really matters. Keep interventions, requests and negative feedback to a minimum. So that there is less chance of conflict and bad feeling.

Always give clear instruction in simple terms so that your child will know what is expected of her. For example, "Please hold my hand when we cross the road".

Explain to your child about her responsibilities and the consequence for unacceptable behaviour. For example, explain to your child that toys should be shared among friends and that snatching a toy from another child is rude. Agree on an acceptable punishment such as no TV for one day etc.

Avoid nagging or repeatedly criticising your child as it gets boring and doesn't work. Your child will just end up tuning it out. Especially avoid idle threats. Children work out these very quickly and ignore them. So let them know what you think once and take action if you need to set limits or back up a rule.

Introduce simple chores to your child to make her feel important. Let her know that she plays an important part in helping the household so that she will take pride in helping out. Doing these chores help her feel responsible, builds her self esteem as well as help you out too. Older children can help to take out the trash while younger ones can help fold clothes like hand towels, handkerchiefs etc.

Use humour to diffuse tension or possible conflicts. Rather than "Clean your room now!" saying "This place is like a biology lab! I don't see mould yet but it'll start growing soon" will be more effective.

Plan ahead to prevent problems from arising. Find ways to help your child stay engaged, busy and active so that she does not become bored or do something disruptive. This is especially important in situation like on a long journey, sitting around in a waiting room or standing in long queues etc. Encourage your child to read books during long journeys or bring along spare paper, pens and pencils for your child to doodle, draw or play simple games like tic-tac-toe. You can also pack some song CDs for long car journeys, so youngsters can sing along to the catchy tunes.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Scrapbooking of Baby's First

My youngest daughter has already turned 1. Time really flies! I have been wanting to make a scrap book for her. (Thanks to the digital video camera, we have captured even her first cries). Since I have 4 kids I'm probably going to get lots of complain from the other 3 kids. I'm going to involve all the 3 sibling in the scrap booking of their sister so that it will be a family project.

I was searching for some tips about scrap booking and came across this article. I find it informative and helpful. So I have listed it below.

Hints And Tips On Scrap booking Baby's Firsts.

It is true to say that a lot of people begin to get the scrappin' bug after their child/children are born and usually their first attempt at scrap booking is making a baby album.

Having a child is one of the most important events in our lives and baby's first year is a busy, lively, ever changing journey of discovery. It is full of important milestones?

No wonder then, as parents we want to capture and record all those many memorable moments - preserving them in scrapbooks is a great way to safely keep and cherish those memories for years to come.

One timeless and extremely popular baby scrap booking idea is to make an album that consists of 'firsts'.

This is a relatively easy and flexible theme to follow, especially for someone new to scrap booking and is a great way to create enchanting baby scrapbooks.

This kind of album usually consists of a scrapbook arranged in chronological order with individual layouts showing special and notable moments in your baby's life.

New babies are so photogenic it's hard to resist capturing all the big and little things that make up their day-to-day lives.

No doubt you will have lots of pictures to sort through ? so here's a small list of 'firsts' to give you some ideas for organizing your photos:


bottle/breast feed

diaper change

dressed in their first outfit

ride in a car seat



trip out in the buggy

solid food


sitting up

drinking from a cup

feeding him/herself


walking with the furniture

steps/walking on their own

hair cut



To add a little more interest to your album try and vary the layouts, for instance make some events into double page spreads. Such as coming home from the hospital or bath-time, which always presents an opportunity for some great photos!

Give your pages a personal touch by adding some memorabilia, using a pocket envelope, to your layouts - like the birth announcement or maybe a lock of hair from their first hair cut.

If you are new to scrap booking and you're unsure about starting out on your new album then a good choice would be to buy yourself a baby scrapbook kit. These kits contain everything you will need to begin scrap booking and are a great shortcut to creating super layouts that you can be proud of.

You can also enhance your pages with some of the many baby-related products that are available on the market. Decorate your layout with an adorable or cute baby scrapbook paper.

Then, embellish your page with some charming baby scrapbook stickers like rattles, booties, bibs, bottles etc and when they're done display all of your beautiful pages in a lovely baby scrapbook album.

Go on? give it a go. Make yourself a baby scrapbook to savor and keep all those incredible memories. You'll find it's much more than just a scrapbook ? it will become a precious family keepsake that you'll treasure forever.

About The Author

Elaine Clay is the owner of Online-Scrapbooking-Guide.com: your one-stop online scrapbooking resource. Find inspiration, increase your creativity and have fun with our helpful tips, ideas, articles and much more.

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Monday, August 6, 2007

Games and Activities to Ignite the Creative Spark in your child!

Would you like your child to be more creative. Would you like him/her to stop hogging the pc/phone/x-box etc and start taking an interest in other stuff too. Try out some of these fun games and activities. You get to spent quality time with your children and lots of laughs too.

Treasure Hunt
This game is fabulous to play during Children Birthday Parties (or whenever there are enough kids to form a few groups). Instead of making the same old list of items, add some twist.
For eg. 1) a circular gold object less than 5 cm (although the "correct" object is a $1 coin, some children will get creative and will give a gold ring/bracelet )
2) a rattle in the shape of a bottle - this is where the children's thinking skill is harnessed to solve - where the child gets an empty bottle and puts in beads or coins to make it into a rattle
3) include some slider puzzle or cross word that has to be solved

Creative Story Telling - (Can be used for Brainstorming of short stories)
Nominate 1 child to solve a puzzle. There is a Crime. Who did it, who was involved and where did it take place. He or she can ask 30 questions and only Yes or No answers will be given.
The rest of the group is given a set of rule.
* When the question ends with a vowel , Yes
* When the question ends with R,L,T , then Yes
* Plural , then NO
* After 3 Yeses then a NO
For eg. the child ask - was it a murder (Ends with a R, so Yes)
- Is the murderer a man (Ends with a N, so No)
(however if the question was - Is the murderer a male , ends with
a vowel so Yes)
-After 3 Yes, then the answer will be a No (even if it ends with a vowel or R/L/T etc)
At the end of the 30 questions the child will come up with her own story. - There was a kidnapping, and the victim was a girl, a man used his shopping bag in the shopping centre and dragged the girl away......
So just keep changing the rules and have lots of fun and laughs!!

Yummy Cookies
* Prepare some plain cookie dough, then let your children add
flavourings, fruits, nuts and coloring as per their likes and
taste. This is how I came up with My "Chocolate Nut Surprise" -
Thanks to my kids!
* Let them use various cookie cutters and shape them into different shapes.
* Create some Ginger Bread man and let your kids decorate.(Raisins for eyes, M&M for smiles etc)

Create Specialized Paper for making creative Greeting cards, Scrap booking, gift wrapping etc. See my other Blog - Easy Crafts

Chain Story
You can start off simply with "Once upon a time" - or for a more dramatic twist try "It was a dark and stormy night". Each person playing the game contributes a link to the tale in process. If younger children are playing, you could adapt the plot from their favorite story. Older kids might enjoy finishing incomplete sentences, like " It was a dark and stormy night, suddenly a flying saucer ......"

How does your child go about solving problems? Design some "Brain Teasers" to provide fun and help develop your child's problem solving skills.
First, try some "free form" creative problem solving. Ask your child how would she get out of a locked room where the knob is reachable but the key is on a peg much too high to reach. Some might say " Stand on the chair" or "Call mom to get me out" etc.
Next make it more challenging. Tell your child that the room is empty except for the following: a yardstick, some string and some paperclips. How can these items be used to fetch the key? ( He could make a fishing pole using the paperclip as a hook to pull the key off the peg)
Try making up some puzzlers of your own. Do keep them simple and be prepared for many right answers!

New uses for an old object.
Point to an object in the room and ask what's it used for. In the kitchen, point to a spatula, for eg. After she gives the conventional usage, ask her what else could she do with it? Answers may vary according to your child's age. Some might say " Dig a whole with it" while others may say " Use it as a racket " etc... Try with other kitchen implements - spoons, forks, whisk etc. Every room as it own potential gold mine!

Crazy Olympics
As the name suggests, the object of the game is to come up with silly and fun games and sports, such as hopping on one foot across the room; Walking backwards while flapping your arms like a duck; crawling on all fours ...and many other feats of silliness! Encourage your child to dream up games of his own, or combine activities like hopping, singing and carrying a ball on a spoon etc.

Clip interesting or amusing photos from the newspaper or magazine - then pass them along to your kids. Their job: write new captions to the now caption less images. After the game is through, you might want to bind the images and their new text descriptions into a notebook or album. ( If your child comes up with any hilarious captions, do feel free to sent them to me.)

Poetry Game
The wonderful thing about this game is that you don't have to be good at poetry or even like poetry - its played purely for fun.
Each player is given a pen and piece of paper upon which they write 2 lines of poetry which do not have to rhyme, but should scan and have the same rhythm.
Papers are then folded to hide the first line and passed to the next player, who reads the second line and writes 2 more. The third line should rhyme with the second line but it is not necessary for the fourth to do so.
The game continues with each player having a turn to see the last line and writing 2 more lines of the poem passed on to them. Then all the poems are read out to much laughter!

Change the word
The aim of the game is to alter one word to become another by only altering one letter at a time in the least number of steps.
For beginners and young children, begin with DOG and change it to CAT.
For a more challenging puzzle or for older children you could use a six or seven lettered word.

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