sk about my school day.B
e present when you are with me.C
elebrate my little victories.D
ote on me.E
ncourage me when I am down.F
orgive my mistakes.G
row with me.H
elp me when I need it.I
nsist I eat vegetables.J
oke with me.K
iss me even when I don't want you to.L
isten to me.M
ake memories with me.N
otice when I do something right.O
rganize me until I can do it myself.P
lay with me - a lot.Q
uestion me about my day.R
ead to me - or with me.S
mile at me.T
urn off my electronics.U
ait patiently - I'll get it someday.X
XX and OOO means kisses and hugs.Y
ell at me less.Z
ero in on what makes me special.
May is gearing up to be a very busy month at Grace Garden. It is hard to believe that the school year is already coming to a close! We have enjoyed watching the growth and development of each little child through the year. They amaze us every single day! Below are some reminders of the end of year activities taking place this month:
Monday, May 6th - Parent/Teacher Conferences
Please arrive a couple of minutes early to sign your child in to the nursery. Conferences will last approximately 20 minutes. The teachers are looking forward to spending this time one-on-one with you to brag about how well your little ones are doing!
Wednesday, May 8th - Teacher Appreciation Luncheon
Grace Garden teachers have worked hard all year. Let's show them how much we appreciate them with a teacher's luncheon. We are still looking for moms or dads who can volunteer an hour of your time to monitor the classrooms while our dedicated teachers enjoy a catered lunch together. We also need volunteers to help with set up/clean up and to make a monetary donation to help cover the cost of the lunch. Please let me know what you can do!
Thursday, May 9th - Muffins with Mom
We want to celebrate moms with a small classroom breakfast on May 9th. Please come in and have a muffin with your child before heading off to start your day. The party won't last long, but we hope it shows all the wonderful Grace Garden women how important we think you are.
Thursday, May 16th - Camp fees are due
If your child will be attending any of the summer camp sessions, please pay your camp fees in full by this date. The remaining tuition is $125 per week. If you need to make other payment arrangements, please let me know.
Friday, May 17th - Pre-K Graduation
Our little Caterpillars are turning into butterflies. We will celebrate the occasion Friday evening with a ceremony, fellowship, and refreshments. This is always a bittersweet time of the year, but we are so proud of these guys.
Thursday, May 23rd - Birthday Books
This will be our final Birthday Books celebration of the year. We will recognize all May and summer (June, July, August) birthdays. If you would like to donate a book to Grace Garden in honor of your child's birthday, please bring a book to school on May 23rd.
Saturday, May 25th - Garden Party Fundraiser
Help us celebrate Grace Garden with an outdoor picnic and family fun on the playground. All families are invited to bring a picnic dinner and a blanket. The Garden Party will begin at 5:00 p.m. We will enjoy music, good food, and great company while the children play. Grace Garden teachers are hosting a bake sale so bring your wallet to purchase some yummy after-dinner treats or some goodies to take home. There will be a mini Giving Tree on display. If you are interested in making a cash donation to Grace Garden the giving tree amounts will be $5, $10, and $20. The proceeds will go towards purchasing new rugs for the classrooms and re-building our art closet.
Thursday, May 20th - Last Day of Grace Garden
Can you believe it? The school year has flown by!
In honor of Earth Day, we have spent this week learning all about caring for the environment. Our earth should be protected so its precious resources can be available to us for many years to come. It is never too early to start teaching children the importance of keeping our planet clean and learning how to reduce, reuse, and recycle. With a little guidance and supervision, kids can get creative in helping and celebrating the earth. Just because preschoolers are small doesn't mean they can't help make a difference. After all, little steps can lead to big changes.1. Get your kids used to turning off lights when they leave their room in the morning, and whenever they leave a room throughout the day. Talk to them about how turning off lights saves valuable energy and money. If your child is too short to reach the light, leave a small footstool underneath the light switch in their room. You can also teach them to turn off the water while they're brushing their teeth.2. When you can, walk places with your child instead of getting in the car. Resist the urge to drive to the yogurt shop two blocks away. As you are walking you can talk to your child about the smog that cars emit into the air, and how walking is one way to keep the air clean and clear. Public transportation is another way to reduce the number of vehicles on the road, and taking a bus or a train would be a fun outing for your little one!3. The average American uses 700 pounds of paper per year. Encourage children to use both sides of a paper that they are coloring on and try to set aside a place for scrap paper so it doesn't immediately go into the recycling bin. Remember the three R's - reduce, reuse, recycle.4. Garden with your children. It is surprisingly easy to grow fruits and vegetables in your backyard. Growing your own fruits and vegetables teaches children the importance of taking care of the earth around us and shows them where food comes from. They might be surprised to learn that bananas grow on trees and carrots grow under the ground!5. Even if you can't garden at home, you can try to buy organic, local produce, reducing your entire family's carbon footprint. Local food does not have to travel from far distances to get to your family's dinner table, and Austin has many wonderful Farmer's Markets that are open year-round. Whatever you do, remember that setting a good example is the number one most effective way to teach your children about caring for the environment. Let them see you tun off the lights when you leave the room, unplug electronics when they are not in use, make a conscious effort to recycle, and walk or bike instead of drive.
Childhood Doesn’t Wait
I was sitting on a bench
while in a nearby mall,
When I noticed a young mother
with two children who were small.
The youngest one was whining,
“Pick me up,” I heard him beg
but the mother’s face grew angry
as the child clung to her leg.
“Don’t hang on to me,” she shouted
as she pushed his hands away,
I wish I’d had the courage
to go up to her and say…
“The time will come too quickly
when those little arms that tug,
Won’t ask for you to hold them
or won’t freely give a hug.
“The day will sneak up subtly
just as it did with me,
When you can’t recall the last time
that your child sat on your knee.
“Like those sacred, pre-dawn feedings
when we cherished time alone
Our babies grow and leave behind
those special times we’ve known.
“So when your child comes to you
with a book that you can share,
Or asks that you would tuck him in
and help him say his prayer…
“When he comes to sit and chat
or would like to take a walk,
Before you answer that you can’t
`cause there’s no time to talk”
Remember what all parents learn
so many times too late,
That years go by too quickly
and that childhood doesn’t wait.
“Take every opportunity,
if one should slip away
Reach hard to get it back again,
don’t wait another day.”
I watched that mother walk away
her children followed near,
I hope she’ll pick them up
before her chances disappear.
The average fifth grader, given a choice, prefers to stay inside, close to electrical sockets and all the entertainment sources they power. But your grandmother was right: Kids need fresh air and exercise. We all do. Families who find ways to be outdoors together nurture not only their bodies, but their connection to all of life - and to each other. Kids who spend time outside in nature, research shows, are:
- Calmer - This is particularly important for ADHD kids because it lowers their need for medication, but fresh air soothese the senses of all children.
- Happier - Studies show sunshine, fresh air and pysical activity all encourage good moods and reduce tendencies toward depression.
- Healthier - Many kids who don't get enouch time outdoors are vitamin deficient, causing health risks. Indoor air is also usually less heavy. And kids who play outdoors more even have better vision and less need for eyeglasses, presumably because they stare at screens less.
- Less likely to be overweight - Pediatricians recommend at least an hour of active play per day during childhood to protect against obesity and diabetes.
- Better students - Research shows that kids who play outdoors actually have longer attention spans, more frustration tolerance, and do better in school. Kids even do better on tests if allowed to play first. It's all that oxygen to the brain!
- More creative - Outdoor play is often less structured that what kids do indoors with technology, so kids exercise their imaginations as well as their bodies.
Did you grow up as I did, building dams in the stream, climbing trees, and chasing fireflies as the evening darkened? If you did, you'll agree with me that all children deserve those experiences.
Nowadays, though, when we try to send our kids outside, there's no one to play with. And many of us don't have yards. And, of course, kids would rather be inside with their screens. So most kids spend most of their time indoors.
The answer? First, set up any outdoor space you have access to so that it is inviting, and spend time outside with your child. A sandbox, wading pool, swing, climbing structure or garden will keep your child entertained for hours. But if permanent structures aren't possible, think impermanent: A tablecloth teepee or a bucket of water with funnels and cups, or a shovel to dig a hole you can later refill.
Second, spend time as a family in nature - hiking, playing tag, biking, simply walking together in a beautiful place. It allows your family to regroup and get back in sync like little else. It makes wonderful memories. And it's a great workout for everyone.
It doesn't have to be a big production. If you are lucky enough to have your own yard, you have unlimited options, from kicking a ball around to camping out in a tent. But evey city has public parks, and every family can find something to do outside that feels fun. Two important ground rules:
- Turn off the cell phones. Yours. Theirs. Enough said, I hope! The world will be waiting for you when you get back. This is quality time to focus on family. Soon enough, your child will want to be with friends, not you. Enjoy this time to connect.
- If you choose to engage in a sport during the day, minimize the competition in favor of the fun. Make sure the rules are relaxed for little ones so everyone has fun.
If you are stuck for ideas, here are some suggestions:
- Take a blanket, snacks, and a ball or frisbee to the park. Play kickball or soccer or catch. Blow bubbles. Play tag.
- Go on a family bike ride.
- Go on a nature walk. Collect rocks or leaves. Look for animal footprints. Watch bugs. But remember, soaking up the smells, sounds and sights is sufficient. You don't need to take your child out of her heart and into her head by giving her a science lecture. If she asks questions, by all means follow her natural curiosity, and help her look up answers when she gets home. But sometimes watching a butterfly is more transformative than reading about it.
- Send kids on a scavenger hunt.
- Invite the neighborhood kids over for a water party. Set up the sprinkler and cut up a watermelon!
- Get wet! Give kids water and they will find ways to play with it!
- Try for a night walk. Bring flashlights for fun and safety, but be sure to turn them off to listen to the nature sounds and star gazing.
- If you have a safe place for a campfire, don't miss the opportunity to sit outside telling stories of when you were a kid, or of what your kids did when they were younger. Sing songs. Roast marshmallows, make s'mores and just relax and watch the fire.
These are the memories your children will treasure as they get older. And every child deserves the connection nature provides to the essence of life. You are feeding your child's soul.
I highly recommend Richard Louv's inspirational book Last Child in the Woods. He says it all much more eloquently than I can, and offers you the studies to prove it.
Written by: Dr. Laura Markham on her website, www.ahaparenting.com.
“The days are long but the years are short”. This is my favorite quote from The Happiness Project
by Gretchen Rubin. As parents of small children this quote means trying harder to stay present through all the daily trials of raising kids. Because even though we may secretly roll our eyes when strangers tell us how fast it all goes, we can quickly see just how right they are.
It seems as though the world around us is speeding up at an accelerated pace. We are rushing from appointment to appointment, taking our kids from one activity to the next, working multiple jobs, and trying to maintain a busy household. Our children are growing up in a fast-paced world with busy schedules and busy parents. Often times, as we are racing through our days, our children simply want to slow down.
Recently I was walking with my 4-year-old son in the grocery store parking lot, hurrying him along so we could get into the store and get our shopping done. He suddenly stopped to look closely at some flowers and smell them. My initial reaction was, “Hurry up, buddy. We don’t have time to stop and smell flowers. We need to get going”. And then I realized I NEED TO SLOW DOWN. Here was my child, literally stopping to smell the roses. He was living in the present moment, taking in the world around him, and I was rushing him. I began to ask myself, who am I to keep my son from being present and noticing the details of the flowers? Why am I hurrying him through his day just so we can get into the store 30 seconds sooner? My son reminded me to slow down, be present, and to not rush past the beauty around me.
What are some ways parents can be present and connect with their children? Here are some ideas:
1. Take five or ten minutes each day for “special time” with your child. Put down your phone and give 100% of your attention to being present with him or her. Let your child choose how you will spend your time. You might find that without distractions, you are both drawn into the present moment.
2. Greet your child enthusiastically after school or other separations to let him or her know you are happy to see them. This is such an important time of the day; get your afternoon off to the right start by clearing your mind of work or other distractions to fully focus on your child.
3. Step outside with your child and look for things you have never noticed before. Maybe this is just the numbers on the curb, the shape of a nearby tree, or the view behind the buildings. Taking time to notice our surroundings helps to bring us into the present.
4. Keep a gratitude journal, a one-sentence journal that chronicles topics like lessons learned, a child’s first year, or gratitude. The one-sentence-a-day way of journaling is manageable and easy to keep up with.
5. Planned Neglect: Force yourself to overlook some of the daily chores that consume so much of your time and energy. This is especially hard for me because I feel like a “better mom” when my house is clean, my laundry is washed, and dinner is served, but I know my children think I am a “better mom” when I am present and available, and nothing bad has ever happened because a dish was left in the sink!
I am so glad I took the time to stop and smell the flowers with my son that day. The rest of our shopping trip was calmer and more relaxed than usual. I found myself talking to
him, and not at
him. We experienced the sights and sounds of the grocery store together, from the many colors of fruit in the produce section to the sound of groceries travelling down the conveyor belt and over the scanner. We had a pleasant time together and enjoyed each other’s company. Being present with my children reminds me to take the time to enjoy the little things in life that I would otherwise take for granted. I want to cherish each moment and store them up to remember at a later date when my children are grown and my house is quiet. I know when that day comes I will miss the constant questions, the hand prints on my doors and walls, and the ever-present level of noise that comes with raising children.
Please follow this link: www.theyearsareshort.com
. “While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”
It is a chilly morning, and as we are getting ready to walk out the door for school my three-year old is struggling to put on his coat. He grabs one sleeve to push his arm through and misses. The coat falls to the floor. He picks up the coat and tries again. This time he puts his arm through the wrong sleeve and can’ figure out why the coat won’t wrap around the back of his body correctly. I can feel my impatience growing as I look at the clock and realize that we are going to be late if he doesn’t hurry up and figure this out. My instinct is to grab the coat and help him put it on, but I don’t. Why do I stand there and watch my own child struggle without intervening? To teach autonomy! Autonomy is defined as the state or condition of having independence or freedom. Teaching our children to be independent and self-reliant is an important skill that will serve them well throughout life.
As parents, we all want to see our children thrive and be happy. Sometimes this means that we intervene to help our frustrated child clean his room or complete her homework. Sometimes our desire to prevent our children from suffering causes us to cater to our child’s wants and desires, to give in to tantrums, and to step in when things get “too hard”. Is this helicopter parenting good for our children? The experts say NO! When children don’t get to practice problem-solving skills, they can’t solve problems in the future. Research has shown that helicopter parenting has decreased adult children’s feelings of autonomy, competence and connection. In turn, feeling incompetent leads to increased reports of feeling depressed and dissatisfied in adolescence and adulthood.
At Grace Garden we encourage independence in many ways. We encourage children
to open their own lunch containers, put on their own coats, button and unbutton,
clean up after themselves, and work through problems with their peers. We see evidence of self-reliant children every single day! On Thursday I had the opportunity to visit in the Busy Bee classroom as the children were practicing cutting with scissors. The pride on the children’s faces as they completed their projects was priceless! I am indeed proud of the autonomy that is being encouraged at Grace Garden. By continuing to encourage independence in children at home, as well as at school, we will create a generation of leaders who are ready to take on the world!
Spring is a special time of the year and is the season I always look forward to celebrating with my children. From long lazy days spent outdoors to spotting baby animals in fields and pastures around town, each new sign of spring is cause for excitement. This week is spring break, and we will have long, uninterrupted hours to spend together without the worries of homework, sports practices, bedtimes, and early mornings. I am looking forward to days filled with playing in the park, picnic lunches, blowing bubbles, and digging in the dirt.
Spring weather is nothing if not unpredictable. When rainy weather prevents us from getting outdoors we will come inside for crafts and cooking projects. I always turn to Pinterest for ideas on keeping my whole gang entertained. Here are some fun activities for you to enjoy with your little ones this spring break. Follow the links for step-by-step instructions.
Have a wonderful spring break! We will be so happy to see each sweet little face upon our return!
A few weeks ago something happened that shook my world as a parent. A little girl in my son’s fourth grade class was grabbed as she walked to school with her younger sister. She screamed and struggled and her would-be abductor ran off into the greenbelt. These two little girls did what they were taught to do in a situation like this, and inadvertently taught a very important lesson to all the other children and parents in the neighborhood. In the days immediately following the attempted kidnapping, the neighborhood streets were very quiet. Children were not walking to school in the morning or galloping home with groups of friends in the afternoon. The sidewalks remained empty in the evening hours, as parents kept their children close. Gradually life returned to normal, parents loosened their grip and children once again took to the sidewalk. The kidnapper was caught. The community breathed a collective sigh of relief.
What lessons did we learn from this terrifying event? First and foremost, it can happen anywhere
. We live in a community of neighborhood schools, neighborhood parks, homeowners associations, and a close network of vigilant moms and dads. We feel insulated from the outside world. When we watch the evening news we “feel bad” about the stories we see and hear, but don’t believe it can ever happen to us. Lesson number two, it can. It can happen to us
, to our children, to our neighbors, to our friends. No one is safe. Which brings us to lesson number three: we can’t live in fear
. Life happens, and it is up to us to educate our children and teach them how to handle any obstacle that is placed in their path so we can live freely and without fear.
What should you teach your child about strangers? Below are some helpful tips you may want to consider when discussing stranger danger:
1. Not all strangers are bad. There are more people in the world who are good than bad. Help your child identify some adults
they can turn to for help. This may include: a store clerk if they are lost, a police officer or fire fighter, a teacher or other school representative, a mother with children in a public place.
2. It is o.k. to say “No”. We teach children to obey adults and “do what they are told”; however, it is important for children to learn to trust their instincts. If they are uncomfortable with what someone is saying or doing it is o.k. to say “No” and tell a trusted adult.
3. An adult who needs help finding a dog, carrying a package, or unloading the car will ask another adult, not a child
, for help.
4. There is safety in numbers. Children who walk to school with a group of friends are less likely to be approached by a stranger. If your child walks to and from school, organize a group of neighbors for them to walk with.
5. Give young children simple rules to follow when dealing with strangers. Never go anywhere with a stranger. Never take anything from a stranger. Don’t approach strange cars. It is o.k. to talk to strangers when I am with you or tell you it’s alright.
In light of this incident we made some changes as a family. We bought our 9-year old son a cell phone, although we always said we wouldn’t. It is a simple phone that makes phone calls and sends text messages. He cannot access Facebook or You Tube or play online games, but he can call if he needs us.
We role-played with our 7-year old daughter and discussed many different scenarios. “What would you do if someone said they would hurt your family if you didn’t go with them”? “What would you do if someone said mom had been in a car accident and they were going to take you to the hospital”? “What would you do if someone knew your name and called you over to the car”?
We established a network of trusted adults our children CAN get in the car with, a family friend, a neighbor, a friend’s mom. We quizzed all of our kids over our address and our phone numbers.
Finally, we praised the actions of the two little neighborhood girls who did everything right. They screamed, they kicked, they ran, they told a trusted adult, they gave a description to the police. We said, “Thank goodness they got away”. We said, “I hope you would have done the same thing”. We hugged our children a little tighter. We learned a lesson. We moved forward.
To learn more about protecting your child from strangers, visit these web sites:
Tips for Safeguarding Your Child:http://www.childluresprevention.com/parents/tips.asp
Personal Safety for Children:http://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/involve/safety/personal_safety.pdf
How Can I Teach Kids to Be Smart About Strangers?http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/talk/stranger_smarts.html
Life is full of hard knocks. What makes some people get up the next morning
determined to try again, while others give up? Resilience. There's a common misconception that children develop resilience by encountering failure. That's a myth. Children develop resilience by dealing successfully
with failure. When children have the internal and external supports to get up and try again, they learn they can overcome adversity. When a child doesn't have that internal and external support, all he learns from failing is that he's the kind of person who fails.
And just what are those internal and external supports that help your
child turn failure into the confidence that no matter what happens, she can handle it? 1. Your empathy.
The security of knowing that someone is watching out for him is what allows a child to explore, to risk bumps, disappointment and hurt feelings, and to come out the other side. Empathize when it's hard. Knowing someone cares, understands, and is there to help him pick up the pieces is the foundation of resilience.
2. The experience of solving problems.
Manage your own anxiety so you don't make a habit of rescuing your child. Instead, when she gets into a jam, support her in brainstorming possible solutions. If you lecture, teach or solve the problem for her, you're teaching her that she can't solve things herself. Your goal isn't just to solve the problem, but to help your child feel more capable by having the experience of handling a challenge.3. Emotional regulation
. When kids feel overwhelmed by their emotions, they crumble. By contrast, kids who have better emotional regulation can tolerate the frustration of practicing, or the disappointment of losing. They're more likely to apply
themselves, and to overcome setbacks. So accept your child's emotions, and honor them. She learns from experience that she can tolerate any emotion she feels and come out the other end intact, and the sun will come up the next day.4. The experience of mastery.
Developing grit--that quality of pushing through obstacles as we pursue something about which we're passionate--depends on the child working hard to accomplish her own goals, whether that's mastering a jump shot, short story, recipe or camping trip. Make sure your child gets plenty of time to initiate and pursue her own passions--not always easy in this age of homework
You can't protect your child from the rain that falls in life. What you can do is make sure that he knows how to find an umbrella, and has the confidence to make it through the storm. Now's the time to start
practicing. Some day, your child will look back and remember that he's dealt with hard times before, and he came out fine. It's your unwavering love that will get him there.