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Education

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How often do we hear parents with young children reminding their youngsters to say “please and thank you.” These little words represent to all of us what constitutes the beginning of good manners. Young children mimic these words almost in a parrot-like fashion. But, do they really grasp the meaning of these overused words? We tell children to be thankful and to show appreciation. The real key is to teach the meaning of these words. When we define the word “gratitude,” Webster’s dictionary states: the quality of being thankful and showing appreciation. In this highly electronic era, our children are constantly receiving instant gratification. As we all know, the harder and longer we have to work for something we desire, the more we appreciate it.

 

When our children ask for something we need to learn restraint by saying, “we all want things but we must work for them.” Let’s have our children work toward a goal to receive things…be it a game, toy or a privilege. Even a three year old can help sort laundry by pairing socks, and stacking or folding towels. By doing simple tasks together we are teaching responsibility and spending valuable time together. Be sure to thank your child for helping and reward them for their help. However, these rewards must be in small amounts such as by charting their helping time and reaching a goal which could be that special item or privilege!

 

Practicing gratitude is the perfect way to begin teaching gratitude. Children are always watching how we treat others including our spouses, friends, and relatives. If we tell our children to behave a certain way and we don’t behave that way…they see the hypocrisy. We have to remember to always practice what we preach! We must model a grateful attitude and express this behavior in order for our children to learn from the best: their parents.

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Every school year, we anticipate the fall energy that prevails around us. There is an excitement yet emptiness that embraces our persona when school begins. Our little people going to school for the first time are preparing for a new journey. New teachers, new friends, and new expectations all challenge our sense and children’s of security. We have to allow our children to step forward and enter a world without us by their side. This step can be taken with vigor and aptitude or with fear and shyness.

 

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It is our duty as parents to give our children the strength and confidence to handle these new challenges. Children can sense if mother has concerns or is apprehensive. Therefore, we must keep a veneer of calmness and lightheartedness when preparing our little people for school.

 

The following points will allow children to settle in slowly and make the transition from summer to a fall mode:
*Share positive attributes of starting a new school year with your children.
*Don’t fill their ears with your dislikes or fears you had when you were young.
*Visit your child’s school prior to opening day. Tour the classroom and arrange an informal meeting with your child’s teacher.
*Send a note to your child’s teacher expressing any concerns you may have about your child adapting to the class.
*Plan a shopping day with your child to purchase supplies and clothes.
*Call other families who have children in your child’s class and arrange for a play date.
*Start going to bed earlier each night a week or two prior to school starting in order to establish a “school” bed time routine.
*Visit the library and read books to your child about going back to school.

 

Planning for school can be a happy and rewarding experience. It all depends on how we, as parents, approach it. Remember, children are our little mirrors in life. If we seem worried or apprehensive, their little faces will reflect the same concerned facial expressions. It is up to us to decide how our young child will embrace school this year!

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So, you think you want a pet? Great! There are hundreds of dogs and cats in local shelters because of the lack of adoptions, spaying and neutering – and many are euthanized if not adopted.

 

But before you head to the shelter, there are some important responsibilities you need to consider with your family prior to adopting a pet.

 

First, analyze your lifestyle. How many hours will you be away from your pet each day? Dogs and cats need attention and interaction. They need exercise throughout the day to thrive and relieve themselves. Where will your pet be during your time away? Locking them in a confined cage creates stress and anxiety. A fenced yard is a good choice, but think twice about that invisible pet fence. Some studies show that many dogs cannot adapt to this unnatural line of demarcation and ultimately become stressed and anxious, which can cause aggression. Definitely something to consider.

 

Pets are much like humans, and have basic necessities: food, water, sleep, exercise, love and engagement. Take, for example, food. Did you know that bagged dry food has only been developed as a convenience food? Before the early 1960s, dogs and cats were fed table scraps and canned food. Today, many pets have kidney and urinary problems due to dry food diets. Healthy amounts of table scraps will not put weight on your dog or cat. Clean and cold water, just as for us, should always be available to our pets. Oh yes, if their water bowl is not full or fresh, they will drink out of the toilet!

 

Sleep is one thing pets do best and it’s usually because of boredom. They do need their own special place to call their bed. However, just like us, they like to curl up on the sofa or by the owner to feel safe and loved. As far as exercise, they depend on us to allow them to run and play. If we fail to give them this opportunity, just like us, they will gain weight.

 

Love and engagement is truly the heart and soul of owning a pet, and that’s important to teach your children. Pets thrive only if you show you care and make them feel special. This can be a great learning experience as a family. I tell my kids to think of their needs and how the pet’s needs are similar. This helps them gain great self-awareness, as well as a deep bond with the pet and compassion for the pet’s needs and feelings. As an educator, I smile, because I know these are life lessons they’ll carry with them forever.

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Summer should be a time for fun and relaxation. However, if you are a parent of a busy youngster the concept of fun and relaxation doesn’t last long during the summer. Children want and need activities that allow them to learn, play and grow. So, before your child comes to you in the middle of June asking, “What can I do now Mom?” Plan some activities! First, think of your child’s age, interests and abilities. Then, start connecting the dots to find the venues that will keep your child motivated and excited about attending these activities. Most parents prefer physical activities such as swimming, tennis, golf, basketball, soccer and other sports lessons and camps. However, many children enjoy reading, writing, science and math. These venues could involve your local library, 4-H, etc. Checkout the different venues through on-line web sites, friends, school and neighbors. Be realistic about your time and scheduling. If you are a career parent choose a program or center that takes children to these venues and or has lessons and activities on site. As an education coordinator and mother, I can tell you this is the best route to take if your time is limited. Summer programs also have many lessons at private clubs that you may not have access.

 

Next, set-up a time to visit these venues with your child to study firsthand how they are instructed. First impressions are vital when it comes to choosing. Is your child interested and enthusiastic about being there? Are the instructors engaging and thoughtful? Is the equipment child oriented? Is the facility safe and clean? Are their credentials up to date? Is the pricing fair? Does the venue have a schedule that works for your family? Will your child be placed with a group that is similar in age? If you can answer yes to these questions you have probably found the correct facility for your child.

 

Now, before making a huge commitment, ask if your child can attend on a short trial basis. By doing so, you can ensure you will not be forcing your child to attend if the interest level begins to fade. Don’t over commit your child with too many activities and obligations. Children do not like spending a long time in cars. So, find venues that don’t require a huge amount of road time.

 

Finally, keep in mind children usually have many interests that pertain to the media, friends and hype about something new. If your child has a friend attending activities they tend to keep one another motivated about going.

 

There are a plethora of summer day camps, schools and clubs out there to keep your child’s summer active and full. Just be prudent and do your homework before making a commitment. Remember, this is about what your child enjoys, not about you! If you have questions about choosing summer activities, send your e-mail to: jan.malley1@gmail.com.