Tag Archives: parent involvement

Showing Dad How Much He Matters!

16 Jun

shutterstock_132978608Father’s Day is right around the corner! Fathers are an integral part of a child’s early education in the home as they provide stable male role models and play unique roles in children’s development. According to research, fathers are more likely to

  • promote children’s intellectual and social development through physical play;
  • emphasize independence and allow children more freedom to explore their surroundings, take risks, and challenge themselves; and
  • push their sons to higher levels of achievement.

To celebrate the special role father’s play in the lives of their children, we have a few fun crafts and books your kids can share with dad!

1. A Gift for the Car! Car Visor Clip

Help dad keep his car organized with this special gift!

Materials

  • clothespin, spring type
  • library pocket or small sturdy mailing envelope
  • paint
  • cotton swabs or thin paintbrushes
  • glue
  • nontoxic permanent marker

Make Your Great Gift

  1. Paint the clothespin and library pocket using the cotton swabs or thin paintbrushes.
  2. After the paint dries, glue the library pocket to one side of the clothespin.
  3. Use the permanent marker to personalize the clip by writing a title on the library pocket such as “Dad’s Car Clip.”
  4. Include a note with the gift suggesting that the recipient clip it to the car visor and use the pocket for parking stubs or other receipts.

Helpful Hint

  • The library pocket will last longer if it is laminated or covered with clear contact paper before attaching it to the clothespin. Glue does not adhere to laminate well, so use self-adhesive Velcro to attach the pocket to the clothespin.

Variation

  • Add magnetic tape to the back of the clothespin to create a refrigerator clip that can hold papers. Use the library pocket for storing pens and pencils.
  • Use a cut off denim jeans back pocket instead of a library pocket.

2. A Gift for the Office! Made-It-Myself Mouse Pad

Impress Dad with a unique mouse pad for the office!

Materials:

  • White or light-colored craft foam, cut into approximately 8” x 9” pieces
  • Nontoxic permanent colored markers
  • Clear vinyl, cut the same size and shape as craft foam
  • Clear 2” wide book or packing tape, cut to 9” length

Make Your Great Gift

  1. Brainstorm ideas to draw on the mouse pad. The following are possible ideas:
  • Draw a scene for the mouse to travel through
  • Trace simple shapes
  • Draw a self-portrait
  1. Draw the design on one side of the craft foam with the permanent markers.
  2. Place a piece of tape approximately 9” long to adhere clear vinyl to craft foam along the top long edge. Then you can slide notes, memos, or photos between the vinyl and the foam.
  3. Trim as needed.

Helpful Hints

  • Add notes and photos under the clear vinyl.
  • Clear vinyl, sold by the yard, may be found at stores that sell fabric. Or use leftover laminating film, clear page protectors, or clear report covers for the top of the mouse pad.

Source: 101 Great Gifts Kids Can Make

3. A Recipe to Make with Dad! 

Ingredients

  • 2” pieces of celery
  • 1/4 “ slices of carrots
  • peanut butte

Celery Race Cars

An easy and fun snack that will keep your child’s motor running!

What to Do

  1. Encourage your child to spread peanut butter into his celery “cars.”
  2. Spread peanut butter on the carrot slices and attach them to the celery to create “wheels.”
  3. Enjoy talking with Dad about your child’s favorite cars!

Source: The Budding Chef

4. Books to Celebrate Dad!

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Finally, there’s no better way to spend quality time with dad than by reading books together! We have a few selections that are sure to inspire bonding between little ones and their real-life heroes:

Have fun this weekend and a special Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there!

4 Ways to Build a Positive Relationship with Your Child’s Teacher

2 Sep

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With the new school year kicking off and your child becoming acquainted with a new schedule and peers, there are a few things you can do as a parent to ensure students are getting the most out of the classroom experience. One of the most important ways you can help your child succeed is by providing a positive relationship with their teacher. Students will not only be encouraged to make their own beneficial relationships, but they will also have an educational environment at home that supports learning efforts in the classroom. Here are four ways you can form a stronger connection with your child’s teacher.

 1. Get Your Chat On!

Communication really is key. From obtaining contact information at the beginning of the year, knowing the best way to get in touch with the teacher, and introducing yourself in a meeting or through Open House Night, establishing a clear method of communication will go a long way in providing support for your child. Be sure you place the teacher’s contact information somewhere it won’t be lost, whether it’s logged into your smart phone’s address book or under a magnet on the refrigerator. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the teacher when you have questions about student’s assignments or to set up meetings to discuss behavior. Educators will appreciate any effort to foster engagement as long as it is being approached from an amicable position.

2. Understand Expectations

Knowing what the teacher expects of your child and of you as a parent is key to forming a positive relationship. From the beginning of the school year, you should know how many volunteer hours are needed, how much homework children are expected to do daily, what schedules look like, and what you should be doing outside of the classroom to ensure your child is getting the most out of lessons. Many times, you can continue what is being learned at school through providing additional content for students to practice at home. Be sure to talk to your child’s teacher to understand how you can best provide support after hours. Here are a few options for fostering learning at home:

-Reading Readiness

-Math Mastery Games

-Art Exploration

-Building Communication

3. Be an Example

If you don’t fill out the paperwork sent home, chances are, children won’t complete the work required of them either. Filling out questionnaires, contact information and simple surveys may seem frivolous, but they can truly be used as tools by teachers to better know your family and how to best support your child. Check students’ homework folders, or whatever system of communication is used for paperwork sent home, and fill out surveys and required signatures on time so that you not only make things run easier in the classroom, but also provide a positive example for children to follow.

 4. Put It in the Calendar

Time and money are hard to come by, but when you are able to set aside either for the classroom, you will see your efforts pay off by creating a better overall learning experience for your child. When classroom expectations are being established, be sure to ask teachers what they most need, whether it is volunteers for Writing Night or more paint for the art studio. Doing what you can to pitch in with time or resources and then following through by plugging it into the calendar will make any teacher happy!

For more information on how to make time for volunteering, check out The Busy Family’s Guide to Volunteering: http://www.kaplantoys.com/product/47583/the-busy-familys-guide-to-volunteering

5 Ways to Make Chores More Fun!

29 Jul

cleaning

It’s hard to motivate kids to clean up; let’s face it, who wants to do chores? But cleaning, whether it is in the classroom, home, or even at a friend’s house, is an important part of learning responsibility. Children should learn at an early age that messes created affect other people who live in the same environment and that regularly tidying up is a requirement. But cleaning doesn’t have to be boring! We have a few fun ideas for you to use with your children that will not only teach responsibility, but also give children the motivation to take it!

1. Show Them How It’s Done!

It’s important to remember that children cannot be expected to know what or how to clean without being shown. Work alongside your child in every chore you assign to ensure they see how it is properly done. This will help with both visual learning and setting cleanliness expectations.

2. Dance as You Sweep!

Trust us, sweeping becomes much more enjoyable when dancing! In fact, that one favorite song will make children feel happier about doing whatever chore has been assigned. Movement is important in early childhood development as children work on gross motor skills, handling kid-sized brooms to make sure the floors are kept tidy! Adding a little movement to the picture and encouraging your children to dance as they sweep will have them laughing as they go – keeping messes to a minimum!

3. Race the clock!

Giving children a time limit will make chores a challenge children are willing to conquer! Tell your children they have 15 minutes to see how many chores they can get done before the time is up. This will really get kids moving and motivated to see how much they can accomplish. Have children concentrate on a specific room so they can see the results of before and after.

4. Make It Visual!

Small children are visual learners. Being able to see what is expected for the day will go a long way to keep young minds on track. Establishing a chore board where daily responsibilities are written out under each child’s name is a great way to communicate expectations and give children the satisfaction of crossing off accomplishments. If children have siblings, it will also challenge them to keep up with “big brother” or “big sister!”

Source: http://www.theyellowcapecod.com/2010/02/organized-chaos.html

5. Give Praise for Jobs Well Done!

When your child sees a chore through from start to finish, it teaches them the importance of following through. This is a big accomplishment! Praise children for jobs well done and it will build self-esteem along with instilling pride in completing assigned chores. Even though cleaning skills are sure to have plenty of room for improvement, concentrating instead on what children have done well will go a long way toward providing encouragement and affirmation.

-We hope you discovered some helpful ways to motivate your children to clean up their mess without the muss! Don’t forget to check out our cleaning sets for kid-friendly brooms, mops, and more!

-Have your own creative ways to get kids excited about cleaning? We’d love to hear from you! Share with us by commenting below or tweeting us @KaplanToys with the hashtag #makingchoresfun

Managing Your Kids’ Screen Time

17 Jun

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It can’t be avoided: technology is all around us. In fact, a 2013 study from Common Sense Media reported that kids eight and under spend around two hours a day with a screen. With the abundance of smart phones and tablets, it’s easy to see how unmanaged screen time can be associated with negative side effects in young children such as childhood obesity, increased isolation, and cyber bullying. However, if parents are involved in monitoring children’s time with technology, it can be used to aid in their development instead of harming it. With great parenting alongside limited screen time, young children can be brought up healthy in the digital age. Here are a few ways you can use your child’s screen time to his or her advantage.

Benefits of Online Engagement

Despite screen time being associated with negative side effects, it can actually be used to foster educational growth and encourage children to participate in online communities. Benefits of engaging online include:

  • Keeping already established friendships connected
  • Finding new peers who have the same interests
  • Fostering self-expression through artwork, music, and books
  • Establishing and expressing individual identity

For children to reap the full benefits that technology provides, there must also be rules in place to ensure the time spent online is being used productively. Here are a few things to keep in mind as your child interacts online.

Screen Time Usage

It’s important for parents to limit how much time young children are spending online through their smart phone or tablet. Make sure you establish rules with your children regarding appropriate virtual communication, ex: when they can use technology, how long they can spend on it, and whom they are allowed to contact. A few good questions to ask yourself are:

  • Is your child allowed to text or instant message? If so, who and between what times?
  • What apps can your child download? Do you need to set parental locks before an app can be purchased?
  • Does your child need to take his or her phone or tablet to school?
  • What time does the technology need to be put “to bed?”
  • Are there consequences for violating the agreed upon rules?

Teach Your Kids Netiquette

A lot of rules that govern online interactions simply carry over from teaching children manners. Children need to know that just because the person they are virtually communicating with isn’t in front of them does not mean that negative words have less of an impact. Taunting and cruel messages, or even impersonating a peer, are all forms of cyber bullying and need to be monitored. Within your household, specific rules of ethical online communications need to be established, so that young children know what is expected in their virtual conduct. Some questions to encourage kids to ask themselves would include:

  • Would I say the words I am typing to this person’s face?
  • Would what I’m saying hurt this person’s feelings if taken out of context?
  • Will this photo embarrass someone?
  • Would my parents approve of this message?

Discourage Isolation

Many times the presence of technology in the hands of a child can cause them to be isolated from the person right beside them! Talk to your children about being present in the moment and interacting with the people around them. This will play an integral role in fulfilling young children’s need for social engagement and prevent them from being isolated. For great ideas on how to get kids involved, check out our family engagement resources here.

Understanding Privacy

Every app and platform for virtual communication has privacy settings. Making sure your children understand your rules, such as whom they can engage with online or through text is important in keeping them safe. It is better to have all personal information secure so that only select people can see it. Children need to understand that those privacy standards do NOT apply to family members. Technology guidelines need to be set from the beginning to let your child know what is expected in regards to your right to see their phone or tablet.

We hope you enjoy learning more with your kids and allowing technology to help them do so! For a list of educational apps to get your kids started, check out the following website: http://www.parents.com/fun/entertainment/gadgets/best-educational-apps-for-kids/

Resources: