How and Why to Give Kids an Allowance

coins-in-handThe days of paper routes are over, yet the market is flooded with gadgets and games kids insist they must have in order to simply exist. It’s a tough parenting world today. We want to teach our kids responsibility, work ethic and long term gratification. These values can be modeled, and they can also be instilled in the younger child. Once your child is eight or nine years old, it’s time to start.

Ground Rules

One of the ways to instill these values is through having your child earn an allowance. It’s a wide range here, given the huge maturity differences between eight year olds and fifteen year olds. Some basic pointers on establishing the ground rules and expectations for an allowance follow.

  • Select what works for your family and good luck!
  • Work together with your child to establish the the rules and expectations.
  • Decide on what chores will need to be completed and what the payment will be.
  • Will this happen on a monthly basis or weekly?
  • Can the child accomplish part of the list and receive partial payment?

The more you engage your child in this process, the greater sense of ownership they’ll have. If they suggest they don’t want to work for an allowance, that’s fine too. Just let them know they won’t be receiving any discretionary spending money each week. That may eventually begin to burn!

Quality control

Will you ensure that the chores are completed to the best of our child’s ability in a timely manner or will you ask your child to check behind himself? Remember, this is a learning process and won’t necessarily go smoothly out of the gate. Work together to look at the final product. This will reinforce the value of responsibility and pride in one’s work. It’s a slow lesson to learn and trait to develop, but you will be giving them a gift that will last longer than any of the latest must have gadgets on the market.

Encourage your child to set short and long term goals with the allowance he receives. Setting aside a portion of the allowance each week might result in a trip to the Disney Store for a favorite toy or figurine. A short term reward might be a trip to the ice cream shop. Encourage, empower and reward your child throughout the process. Establishing the foundations for an allowance will help develop the values of responsibility, work ethic and long term gratification that are so critical in all aspects of life. Good luck!

Promote Better Pool Safety With Swim Lessons

by Kaitlin Gardner from AnApplePerDay.com

lesson-of-swimmingI love raising my young boys, and watching them grow, but it’s kept me busy. High on my “to do” list has been water safety, to make sure they have fun but stay safe in the pool. One of the biggest safety measures for us has been swim lessons. Knowing how to swim is a skill they’ll use for a lifetime, so I want them to be well prepared.

The need for safety. The reality is that there are inherent risks around the water. Drowning has been reported as one of the highest causes of unintentional deaths among small children in the U.S. Another study has also shown that swim lessons can reduce the chances of a child drowning by as much as 88 percent. When I read those articles, it only strengthened my resolve to have my boys learn to swim, and be well prepared when it came to the pool. Here are some other articles with more great information:

Preparation starts early. It is suggested that a baby can be enrolled in Mommy and Me classes as early as 6 months of age. While these are not formal lessons, they will certainly give the child an orientation to the water, as well as being a lot of fun. I even used bath time to begin reinforcing the water as a fun place to be. I would trickle water over my child’s head, and we spent a lot of time laughing and smiling as they discovered the fun of splashing.

The beginning lessons. By around age 4, a child will be developed enough to have motor skills that will allow them to take lessons. My boys were so in love with the water that they were glad to take those lessons. They began to learn the movements that would combine into swim strokes, and to learn the basics of swim safety. They were really serious when the instructor explained why “no running at the pool” was important. I had to smile because I knew if I tried to tell them the same thing they wouldn’t listen that well. At the end of the pool season, parents can check out their kids to make sure they are “water smart,” meaning how well have they incorporated the safety principles they have learned, like being able to find the side of the pool if they fell into the water, and what to do if a friend was struggling in the water. My boys did great, and I was really pleased by how quickly they picked up a focus on safety.

Repetition helps. I plan to sign my boys up for intermediate and advanced lessons. I want them to really learn the strokes, and be well versed in the safety aspects of swimming. In school they don’t just show kids a concept once and move on, the classes work through a progression which allows kids to build proficiency. With something as important as swimming, I think the same principle should hold, so I will continue with lessons.

Use the time for bonding. I won’t have an unlimited number of opportunities to bond with my children, so I have taken advantage of lessons to spend time with the kids. I sit on the sidelines and watch their lessons, and then may have a couple of questions about what they learned after class, to reinforce what they’re being taught. But when I get to see the first time they jump off the diving board or a similar achievement, it is just wonderful to see how excited they get.

Watching my boys swimming confidently really pleases me – their swim lessons have prepared them well to enjoy all the fun they can have in the water.

KaitlinKaitlin Gardner started An Apple Per Day to explore her passion for a green living lifestyle, and healthy family living. She and her husband have just moved to rural Pennsylvania, where they enjoy exploring the countryside to discover interesting and out of the way places. She is also learning how to paint watercolors.

 

Under Wraps

This movie was a definite schocker! I’m not usually into zombies, mummies or science fiction, but this really wasn’t like that.  It was totally different than anything I have seen before, but I really enjoyed watching it with my daughter. It kept my interest, the acting and the animation was good and the moral was very family oriented. It has a clever story line and in the end the family of four learns a lot about each other and becomes closer. It is a great movie to watch around Halloween, but it’s not really a Halloween movie so it is perfect to add to your family’s DVD collection for any time of year. It would definitely appeal to boys, but my daughter really, really likes it too. She is only four and it didn’t scare her, so you don’t have to worry about that factor either. It is a well made animated movie by ARC Entertainment and I recommend it to any family with young kids!
under wrapsAVAILABLE ON DVD: October 14, 2014
DIRECTOR: Gordon Crum

WRITER: Allison Ross

CAST: Brooke Shields, Drake Bell, Matthew Lillard

SYNOPSIS: Danny and older sister Eleanor fall into an adventure of a lifetime when Danny accidentally unleashes a centuries old curse involving mummies, phaoroahs and nefarious villains! When their archeologist parents go on an expedition to an ancient Pharoah’s last resting place, Danny sneaks into the tomb and finds a sacred amulet, which he takes home. When he accidentally breaks the amulet, all sorts of chaos follows, starting with his parents turning into mummies! Eleanor and Danny frantically look for clues to solve this nightmare but the police, an evil assistant, and a mysterious visitor from the past are suddenly getting too close for comfort.

DISTRIBUTOR: ARC Entertainment

Celebrate Mother’s Day Creatively

mirrorMother’s Day is almost here! It’s dad’s turn to help the kids get creative to make it a special day for mom. Crayola has some fun and easy ideas that kids of any age can participate in:

 

Greet mom in the morning with a special message on the bedroom window or the bathroom mirror Washable Window Markers. [Craft Details]

Jazz up mirrors. Make dazzling picture frames. With colorful Crayola® Washable Window Markers you can change designs whenever you wish.

1.Could you spruce up a mirror in your house with seasonal or fanciful borders? Or could you transform a plain picture with a decorative edge inside the frame? Check with an adult before you start to make Markered Mirrors.

2.Think up ways to brighten mirrors or picture frames. Some suggestions: Surround a mirror with “Happy Birthday” for a morning surprise. Create holiday decorations such as hearts for Valentine’s Day. Draw a string of colored lights for Christmas. Add an “I love you” border around your picture for a gift. Repeat or embellish designs from nearby wallpaper or clothing in a picture.

3.Use Crayola Washable Window Markers to draw a colorful border around the edge of your mirror or on the glass inside your picture frame.

4.When you are ready for a change of scene, just wipe with a damp paper towel and make a new design.

 

Personalize placemats to decorate the table for a surprise Mother’s Day breakfast/lunch/dinner using Ultra-Clean Washable Markers. [Craft Details]

Place others first and you’ll make someone smile! Show you care by creating a placemat to donate to an agency that provides meals to people who are homeless, elderly, or disabled.

1. There are lots of terrific kids who help others, care for the environment, and make their communities better places to live! What can you do to help others in your community? Here’s a great idea to inspire you: Design a placemat to donate to a service organization, such as one that provides meals for people who may be lonely or unable to leave their homes.

2. With Crayola Scissors, cut cotton or 50/50 cotton/polyester fabric into a placemat. Put on your painting shirt, and cover your work surface with clean paper. Crayola® Fabric Markers stain clothing and surfaces, CLOSE ADULT SUPERVISION IS REQUIRED.

3. Use a ruler and Crayola Fabric Markers to separate sections on the fabric. Each section can be a different size and shape.

4. Create a cheerful design with large and small shapes, colors, or patterns. Add stripes or dots to fill each section with color.

5. Designs must be heat set by an adult so the placemat can be laundered. Set the iron to cotton. Iron on the reverse side using a back and forth motion for 4 minutes. Or put the placemat in the dryer for 30 minutes on the hottest setting.

 

Create a portrait for mom on the sidewalk or in a chalkboard frame using 48 ct. Washable Sidewalk Chalk that provides you with the largest variety of colors.

 

Customize mom’s favorite picture of the family by drawing a picture-frame border with Color Wonder markers that only appear on Color Wonder paper. [Craft Details]

Make memories with this easy-to-make, no-mess frame. Kids can display their own art or photos of themselves, pets, and family members.

1. Decide whether your picture frame will be a gift or for yourself. What picture will you put inside the frame? You could draw one, or ask an adult if it’s OK to frame a photograph.

2. To mark the frame’s four borders, firmly crease its inside edges in a piece of Crayola® Color Wonder™ Paper.

3. With Crayola Color Wonder Markers, draw and color a pattern to make your Bright Borders. What decorations go well with the picture you are framing?

4. Fold the creases in both directions. Carefully tear along the folds to remove the blank center of your frame.

5. Attach your art to the back of the frame with a Crayola Glue Stick. For extra support, glue cardboard on the back.

 

How To Tell When Your Child Is Ready For Music Lessons

By Leila Viss on behalf of www.JoyTunes.com

music-lessonsAlthough not every person is destined to be a concert musician, everyone can be a music maker, enthusiast and supporter. Giving your child the gift of learning music on any instrument is something to treasure, but finding the answers on how to provide this gift is not always easy.

You may be unaware of your youngster’s readiness for making music, but there are some signs that should help you make that assessment. Here are some steps toward unlocking your child’s innate musicality and readiness.

 

How can I tell when my child is ready?

Encourage Exploration

  • Purchase a keyboard instrument (a portable digital keyboard may do the trick but plan to upgrade when lessons begin) and let your child explore sound before enrolling in lessons.
  • Once this exploration begins, notice how your potential musician gravitates and experiments at the keys.
  • Download some music game apps such as Piano Dust Buster 2.0, The Most Addicting Sheep Game or Magic Piano and invite your child to explore. It won’t take long for a youngster to be drawn into these magical games that also teach music fundamentals.
  • If the keyboard and favorite apps receive regular visitation, this is strong evidence that your future maestro is ready to engage in lessons.

Prime the Potential

Some basic skills are involved in learning any instrument and it’s important that these fundamentals are developed before enrolling in lessons.

An ideal candidate for instrumental lessons can:

  • Say and sing the alphabet
  • Count at least to 20
  • Match pitch and sing songs with ease
  • Identify the left from the right hand
  • Cut with scissors
  • Color and draw with markers, pencils, etc.
  • Dance and move freely to music
  • Clap and march with a steady beat

Consider early music education groups, which are perfect for young learners.

How do I know what instrument is right for my child?

The piano is the easiest instrument to begin exploring and eventually making music. Therefore enrolling your child in piano lessons may be a place to begin his/her music education. Once your budding musician is introduced to other instruments in school around 4th or 5th grade a shift in interest may occur.

How do I choose the right teacher?

Referrals from friends and acquaintances are your best bet for a good teacher. If they are happy with a teacher there’s a good chance that you will be as well. Also, ask to arrange an interview with several teachers and you’ll discover that each owns a unique studio. It’s important for you to determine what your priorities are for your child’s music education. Here are some things to consider:

  • Some teachers may excel at preparing students to compete, while others may lean toward a more relaxed approach with fewer opportunities to compete or perform formally.
  • While some may remain set in a traditional approach with standard repertoire others may emphasize lessons in creativity beyond the page and various styles other than classical.
  • Group lessons are a popular social setting which may best suit those who are still on the fence about studying an instrument. Private lessons usually accommodate schedules more easily and offer one-on-one instruction.
  • Music should be shared so ask if the teacher offers encouragement and opportunities to perform, even casually. Although difficult, performing instills discipline, motivation, confidence and good experience for public speaking.
  • Teachers usually use a method book or series to teach an instrument. A good question to ask during your chat with a teacher is “What methods and tools will you use to help my child progress in his/her music skills?”

How do I balance being a supportive parent without becoming overbearing?

Here are a couple of tips to help you maintain a healthy attitude:

1) Some teachers may require you to be present at lessons to take notes so consider this as a free lesson yourself and learn right along with your child. You will realize that building musical skills is a long-term process with peaks, valleys and plateaus.

2) Regardless if you attend lessons or not, it is important for you to remember that this is your child’s endeavor and not yours. Allow your budding musician to:

  • Learn how to learn
  • Read all assignments
  • Take charge and ask the teacher questions themselves when they forget a concept
  • Be responsible for collecting books prior to the lesson, etc.

3) The best support you can offer your child is providing and modeling structure.

  • Make daily practicing a priority so it becomes a habit by setting up a schedule.
  • Instead of setting the timer and demanding practice, ensure that the teacher’s instructions are understood and completed during practice time by reviewing the assignment with your musician. The amount of daily time at the instrument may vary, as consistent practice will make the assignment easier to play by the end of the week.
  • Arrive promptly for each lesson and be on time for pick-up.
  • Show teachers the respect they deserve by following all studio policies and submitting timely payments.

Music lessons are a worthy investment toward a gift that lasts a lifetime. Happy music making!

 

Who Runs Your House – the kids or you?

by Karen Phillip

Taken from chapter 12 of “Who Runs Your House – the kids or you?”

 

kid-helps-raking-the-leavesHow many parents do you know that complain their child does nothing around the house or that they are so lazy or hopeless. Who is the smart one here? The child, of course.

 

Perhaps they were not given the opportunity of learning how to do independent things. Perhaps they had everything always done for them. Suddenly, asking them to now do it is like a red flag to a bull.

 

Little children love to help, love to do and learn new things, and love to be ‘big enough’ to help. Learning these things when they are little enables them to carry them on as a normal function when older. So stop doing everything for your little children. Allow them the opportunity to learn to do things independently for themselves. This way you are teaching, and they are learning the vital things for life. If started early, it is just so easy to have your children do their jobs. No problem and no complaints, they just do it as it is expected. It becomes a normal part of their life, like using the toilet and eating and washing hands. It is just what you do, doesn’t everyone?

 

A two-year-old child can learn to pack away their toys and items (with help), maybe not brilliantly yet with some assistance they can. They can find their shoes and socks, attempt to put them on, place dirty clothes into the hamper, and use a dustpan and brush (a bit).

A three-year-old child can do all the above better plus much more. They pack all toys and items away correctly, they can fold and place clothes into correct drawers, toilet themselves, organise boxes of toys, sort their shelves, start using utensils correctly, dress themselves, place items in correct places, and wipe over benches or tables. They love cleaning up with you.

A four-year-old child can also set the table, collect dirty utensils, plates, cups, and place them in the sink. They can wash basic items at the sink, maybe standing on a small stool, tidy up better, manage their own self-cleaning, dressing themselves, pour a drink, make a basic sandwich, learn how to use a knife and fork correctly, use their DS and the TV, and start learning to make their bed.

A five-year-old is a little person and should be fairly independent doing all the above, including make their own bed such as pulling up their sheets and quilt. They can start placing spreads, cheese, meats on to sandwiches or plates, setting the table, then clearing away the salt, pepper, sauce, and so forth, after dinner, putting placemats into the draw, and so on.

By six to eight years, they can assist cutting up vegetables or salad—under supervision. They love helping in the kitchen or shed and they can do a lot outside too.

 

Children love to wipe clean and polish, they can sweep or vacuum, pack items up outside. They can do it. Just look at the Junior Master Chef shows on TV, my goodness, those ten-year-olds are cooking like superb chefs. They can only learn that by doing, from instruction, by being allowed. Children can be so very clever. Honestly, who would have thought a ten-year-old can make a Welsh pie or Pavlova the way these kids can? It’s amazing. Just shows if they can do that sort of complicated thing, they sure can pack away toys, pick up their wet towels, fold their clothes and place them into the drawer, put stuff on or off the table, and help mix, cut, and prepare things in the kitchen. Let them try.

 

Raise the bar, and you will be surprised how well they can rise to the challenge. Set the bar low, then it is low you will receive, set the bar higher and higher is what they should strive towards.

And think about the older eight-year sibling in third world countries, raising their younger siblings, comforting them, collecting food and water, preparing meals. Scary thought in our world, but they do all this because they have to and because they can.

 

Children, therefore, can start looking after their belongings and doing basic little jobs from two years. The older they are, the more competent they become. Allow and expect them to, and they will.

 

So many parents complain because their child will not do anything or help out at home. If you encourage and show your child these jobs from the start, it will become a matter of course in their day, an expected behaviour like brushing their teeth. While it can be tricky to have them start from the age of eight to ten, it can certainly be managed and mainly by exchanging their required jobs for their sport or friends visits. Start, therefore, as young as you can and as soon as you can. Teach them how to do things properly, and they can learn this fast. If they object, then take something they want away; whatever they may want that you provide them. It may be a cooked meal so dish up perhaps a raw vegetable meal because you couldn’t be bothered actually cooking it. They will not like a raw meal as much as you do not like them refusing to do their required tasks. A compromise can be then be reached. I will when you will. Just like rewards, they work very well.

 

If your child starts to go to the big toilet you give them a stamp, no wee, no stamp. Is this not exactly the same?; yes it is. They need to do something in order to get something. We all do. If I did not want to go to work, I would not get paid. If I refused to do my assignment, I would not pass. If I didn’t pack away my toys, Mum would take them away from me. If I refused to do my jobs, I would not receive a nice hot dinner. For littler children, even keeping the bubbles or toys out of the bath for one night can give them the message.

Never, however, take away or remove your love, kisses, or cuddles. These are as unconditional as your love to them. Just because their behaviour may be difficult they remain the same gorgeous child as always.

The child is not the behavior; the behavior is the behavior.

 

Enable your child to become independent and self-reliant. They will be that way forever. They will be independent at school, at their friends place, at sport training, and everywhere. Your child will learn to rely on themselves through your guidance and opportunity.