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It’s Ho, Ho, Ho Time!

December 10th, 2015

Christmas IIThe tree is lit, the stockings are stuffed, cookies are baking in the oven and Christmas is on its way! As parents enter this time of year when families come together, they can gather the kids with some gingerbread and hot cocoa to talk about the true reason for this holiday season.

Discuss the Reason for the Season

It is always a lot of fun for kids to think about their letters to Santa, talk about what they want and see lots of presents under the tree, but that is only half of the holiday. It is important that parents teach their kids about the joys of giving as well as receiving. Joys from the heartParents should talk to their kids about the real magic of Christmas, which comes from the generosity inside every heart. Once the kids understand the magic behind what giving can mean, they can be just as excited about giving gifts as they are about getting them.

The Fun in Giving

Get the kids excited about giving this season! Have them bake cookies for the local fire department, their teachers at school, senior citizens at a nursing home or patients in the hospital. Try and have them give in some way to people besides family so they can experience helping others in need, even when they do not know them. Other waysCookies to give are to adopt a family, help out at the Salvation Army or send a care package to a soldier abroad. It can be exciting for a child to feel like they are making a difference and parents can make it a tradition in their home to help someone outside of family every year.

Celebrate with Family!

The kids can also enjoy giving to their family. Help the kids pick out their own gifts for parents, siblings and grandparents. They can also help to wrap the presents in order to gain more pride in what they give. Another way the kids can help with giving is to participate in holiday traditions. Some classics include letters or cookies for Santa, reading the Christmas Story, Elf on the Shelf or watching a classic Christmas movie. Families can also make up their own unique traditions that are special to only their family. Traditions can last a lifetime and it always means a lot for children to have them to share with the family.

Christmas Morning!

Once Christmas morning arrives, help the kids to share in giving by appreciating what others receive. Rather than letting the kids dive in to find their presents, have each family member open one gift at a time. This way, everyone around the tree can be just as excited about another family member'sTree gift as they are about their own. One way to get the kids involved is to let them pass out the gifts one by one. That way, they have an important job that will help them with being patient.

Christmas is the best time for giving as a family. Help the kids find joy in giving this holiday season and receive the very best gift of all, the gift of generosity.


Together Time with Music

December 3rd, 2015

MusicOne of the many wonderful ways to bond with young children is to create an environment that is hands-on in several different ways. The best way a child can learn is by combining action with creativity and one way for parents to help create that environment is with music.

Purchase Instruments

There are several play instruments available for purchase that are great for encouraging child creativity. Some of the best options are drums, maracas, xylophones, horns or guitars. Something that the kids can beat or strum is always the most fun. Often, toy instruments will be sold in sets. Parents can also find toddler toys used but still in good condition from parents who have growing children.

Make Instruments


Another way to offer musical instruments to the kids it to make them from scratch. Good examples are putting dried beans in between two plates and tapping them together to create a tambourine, placing beads inside plastic bottles to make maracas, stretching rubber bands across an empty tissue box to make a guitar or using pots, pans and wooden spoons for drums.

Start a Band

Once all the kids have their own instrument, start a family band. Have everyone line up and march around the house pretending to be a school marching band or set everyone up in the living room so they can have a rock concert. Make it even more fun for the kids by recording the entire thing or take pictures and have the kids autograph their photo to send to grandparents or other family members.

The More the Merrier

Make it a real party by inviting friends over for the kids to play with. Have each childUntitled bring their own instrument or have an instrument craft party. Once all the kids and their friends have an instrument, have all the parents help line their kids on the sidewalk and perform a concert up and down the streets of the neighborhood. Parents can also have all the kids dress up in fun clothing, complete with a snazzy hook-and-loop toddler belt.

Future Stars

Interacting with music is a great way to help the kids with sensory development as well as listening skills. Another benefit is, if children are involved with music and instruments early on, they are more likely to be interested in playing real instruments as they get older. Playing music, or even singing, can be a great way for children to get involved socially and develop skills that can lead to future interests.

Make It a Family Event

The best thing that can come from playing music with the kids is family involvement. Children need activities where they see that their parents are involved in what they are doing. They also need to know that their parents care about spending real time with them while doing something that they enjoy. Music is a great outlet for that and a great way to spend time together as a family.

Whether it is rock, hip hop or the blues, get the family together, pass out the guitars and start the music!

Raising a Reader

December 3rd, 2015

Reading IIIWith the invention of the smartphone and the coming of the tablet, books are often scarcely seen. However, for parents of toddlers, books are still extremely important. Parents reading to their children has a huge impact in a lot of different ways and that is why it is so important to raise a young reader.

The Benefits

Reading is one of the best ways to help kids developmentally. Reading books with a child works to stimulate optimal patterns as well as brain development. Another huge benefit that comes from reading is that it strengthens the relationship between a child and their parent. It is easy to sit a child in front of the television or hand them a tablet, but reading requires real time that create bonding moments that cannot be replaced. Reading can also help with language development, visual learning and, in some cases, sensory development.

How to Start

Parents should have a collection of several books for the kids from the start. There are several great options out there to choose from. Parents can check out a local bookstore, supermarket or even second hand shop. For toddlers, board books are often the best option since they are harder to tear oReadingr damage. As the kids get older, books with paper pages can be introduced. Also for toddlers, look for books that are engaging but not overly long or complicated as those often do not hold a child’s attention. Other good things to look for are colorful pictures, interactive activities or books that come with music.

When to Read

Some children like books more than others but every child can benefit from them. Some parents will have no problem finding a time to read because their child will constantly be bringing books to their parent’s laps. Others kids prefer running as often as possible and may have a harder time standing still. In those cases, right before bed or after dinner may be better for reading since it is the time of the day for winding down. It can be a great tradition for parents to read a book to their child every night before bed. It is a wonderful bonding experience and also gives the kids something to look forward to when thinking about bedtime, which can assist parents with evening routines. Sometimes books can also be read in the mornings while the kids are getting ready to get dressed and picking out a hook-and-loop toddler belt.

What to Read

Reading IIThere are millions of children’s stories in the world but every child develops their favorites. Parents can keep their eyes and ears peeled while reading to their children to see what kind of things end up being their favorites. Once parents find out what their kids prefer, they can look for other books that include similar things. A child’s interests will change as they grow and their books can follow. Also, remember to purchase books with higher reading levels as the kids get older.

Even in a world filled with screens, real books still play an important role in a child’s life. Do not lose that moment. Gather the kids together and read a book!

It’s Turkey Time!

November 19th, 2015

Thanksgiving II Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to be with the family. There is nothing better than seeing all the loved ones together while enjoying endless turkey and pie. It is easy for young children to understand that they get good food and get to see their out of town relatives, but it is not always easy to understand why. This year for Thanksgiving, make sure the kids know why this special day really exists.

Start at the Beginning

As a family, it is a good idea to start a Thanksgiving feast by telling the story of the very first Thanksgiving. Explain to the kids that, even though they were so different from one another, both the native Indian people and the pilgrims came together for a wonderful meal to give thanks. Parents can link that story to their own children's lives today. Help them understand that even people who are really different can celebrate with others and enjoy being thankful.Thanksgiving

Explain Thankfulness

The best tradition to start with the family is to go around the table before eating anything and have everyone say one thing that they are thankful for. This will help the kids to understand what being thankful really means. Parents can also explain to their children that being thankful means caring about the things that they love the most, like family, as well as things that keep them safe, like a home. They can also be thankful for things that make them happy, like a new toy. Help them think of some things to be thankful for so that, on Thanksgiving, they are ready to speak when it is their turn around the table.


Helping and Caring

Another way to teach the kids about being thankful is to have them help in some way. Whether it is helping a parent with the cooking or cleaning, helping relatives from out of town with unpacking their suitcases or even helping to set the table before dinner. Offering to help out can be a great way for the kids to show appreciation for everything their parents do on Thanksgiving day. Kids


Let the Good Times Roll

To get the holiday spirit rolling, here is a fun craft to do with the kids:


Hand-Print Turkeys

Have the kids dip their hands in brown paint and put a hand-print on some white paper to make a Thanksgiving turkey. Once the paint is dry, they can paint the first four fingers orange and yellow to make the tail and add an orange beak and an eye to the thumb for the turkey's head. Make it even more fun and paint a little pilgrim's hat on the head or add some feathers to the tail. To finish it off, paint some legs at the bottom so the kid's turkey can run fast and will not get eaten!


Thanksgiving is one of the best times of the year for family. This year, both parents and children can spend this Thanksgiving being truly thankful for everyone who is a part of theirs.

Time for Outerwear

November 10th, 2015

Fall Winter


Look Before You Leap


The main thing parents have to be aware of when it comes to fall is what the day's weather looks like. Keep an eye on the weather in order to decide what outerwear is best for the kids. There are several phone apps that can alert individuals of what the weather is going to be prior to the day. Once a parent finds out what the weather is going to look like, they can lay out the right outerwear for their children to put on the next day.


The Cool Fall Days

The best days during fall are the cool days. Those are the days when their is a chill in the air and sun in the sky. Kids usually need long pants and a light jacket that still guards against the chill. Denim jackets are a great way to go as well as other materials that are not too heavy but can still protect against the wind.

The Warm Fall Days

Sometimes official fall weather just refuses to make an appearance and individuals are left with warmth better suited for the beginning of summer. On those days, it is best to give the kids lighter jackets made of thin material. That way, if a breeze does start to o blow, they can have something that will cover them up without making them overly hot in the process. Another great option for warmer falls days are vests. While vests still provide some warmth and some fall-time style, they let in some air when the sun is just a little too warm.


The Cold Fall Days


The last days of fall include colder chills in the air and frosted cars in the morning. This is when light winter coats come into play. They should not be the heavy coats worn in the middle of a snowstorm, but they should be heavier than just a regular jacket. The kids should be bundled up enough that they are guarded against the cold but not so much that they start sweating underneath all the layers.


Fall-Time Shopping


In order to be prepared for the changing weather, parents should provide their child with a couple of thin jackets, some lighter jackets that guard against the wind and at least one light coat that will keep the kids warm on chillier days. Another thing to keep in mind is fall-time accessories. Keep a few scarves on hand for chilly days as well as hats. Knit hats and scarves can be used on colder days while scarves made of lighter material can be used on warmer days. Lastly, purchase a couple hook-and-loop toddler belts to add a finishing touch on fall-time outfits.

Whether it is a cold fall or a warm fall, outerwear for the kids is essential, so get ready and get shopping!

Pumpkin Seed Snack

October 29th, 2015

pumpkin seedsHalloween can never be complete without jack-o-lanterns! Once the kids pick out their perfect pumpkin and carve out the very best faces that pumpkins can offer, what is left? A big mess! But rather than just throwing the mess away, make a fall-time snack that the kids will love!


Yum Yum Yummy!


Other than making the best jack-o-lanterns on the block, pumpkins are good for one other thing, roasted pumpkin seeds! Once the kids are finished carving, separate the pumpkin seeds from the filling in order to make this delicious snack!


Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  Instructions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Wash the seeds using water, use a colander to shake dry Spread the seeds out on an oiled piece of wax paper and roast them in the oven for 30 minutes After 30 minutes, toss the seeds in olive oil and preferred spices Put them back in the oven until golden brown (about 20 more minutes) Let cool and enjoy!


pumpkin_seeds Spice Options


Cinnamon and Sugar: use 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and one tablespoon of brown sugar. Make sure to watch them carefully as they cook so the sugar does not burn. Sweet and Spicy: use one tablespoon of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, 1/8 a teaspoon of cayenne pepper and 1/8 a teaspoon of black pepper. Pumpkin Spice: use 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves. Salt and Pepper: use one teaspoon of sea salt and one teaspoon of black pepper. Italian: use one tablespoon of Parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of oregano and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder. Barbecue: use one tablespoon of brown sugar, one teaspoon of chipotle chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin. Spanish: use one tablespoon of paprika and toss the seeds with slivered almonds after roasting. Indian: use one tablespoon of garam masala and toss the seeds with currants after roasting.


Work Effectively


When the kids are working on their pumpkins, try and keep the mess as occupied as possible. Use newspaper or wax paper on the table to catch the pumpkin filling, have the kids wear aprons as well as hook-and-loop toddler belts to keep their pants in place and make sure to have adult supervision while the kids are carving.


Create Family Time


Not only can pumpkin carving be a family activity, but the seed snack can as well! Decide as a family which spice option sounds best and finish the recipe together as a family. The kids might also like to help separate the seeds from the filling since it gives them an added excuse to play in their pumpkin goo. Another thing the kids might enjoy is tossing the seeds in the spices. Use a large zip-lock bag to put the seeds and spices inside and let the kids shake like crazy.


Pumpkins are great for both fall and Halloween, create some great family memories, perfect Halloween decorations and a tasty treat all in one night!

Caring for Pets

October 20th, 2015

easter childrenWhen looking back on some of the best memories of childhood, many people remember their family pet. Having a pet is a great way to teach children responsibility while also giving them something that will snuggle its way into their hearts and their most cherished memories.


What to Choose?


When looking for the right family pet, keep in mind what kind of training, feeding or space in the home will be required. Parents should know their limits because a pet is a time consuming commitment no matter what form it takes. Once parents do decide what kind of pet/pets they want, they should come up with a few options for the kids to choose from. Examples of smaller pets that require less care or training are turtles, hamsters, lizards or rabbits. Larger animals that require a little more care are cats and dogs. Have the kids choose what kind of pet they want and take the family on a trip to the pet store!


Explain Responsibility


Before purchasing a pet, explain to the kids that the pet belongs to everyone and that means that everyone can enjoy it but everyone should also take care of it. Make sure the kids understand that in order to have a pet they have to help take care of it. Once the pet and everything the pet needs is purchased, the first step is getting it settled. Have the kids help create a space for their new family member and make them comfortable. Once the pet is settled in, decide on a name and then set up some ground rules.


Active Responsibility


Parents have to be sure to follow through with requiring the kids to help with caring for their pet. Create a care chart so each family member can write their name on a different pet responsibility. Depending on what kind of pet it is, this can include several different things. Some examples are feeding, watering, cleaning cages, scooping poop, brushing or washing. If a child does not complete their responsibility, they should not be permitted to interact with their pet until their chore is complete.


The Joys


Having a pet can mean a lot to a child. A pet can be a best friend when they need it most, a snuggle buddy when it is cold outside, entertainment when there is nothing to do or an always faithful show-and-tell project. While every single one of these things is important, it is also important that a child understands what kind of role they play in their pet's life as well. Parents should explain to their kids that they are caring for another life and that is extremely important. Gentleness and kindness should be a key component when teaching children to care for their pets, so make sure they understand how to properly handle the pet while holding them.


The foundation of a child's bond with their pet should involve proper care around the clock, once that foundation is established, that bond can never be broken.

You’ve Got Personality!

October 15th, 2015

smiling childEveryone is different, that is something that every adult already knows, but a child may need a little instruction. A young child has no concept that someone might have different ideas, opinions or tastes. They do not even understand that they themselves are different, it is something they have to learn. In order to help a child understand that they are an individual and unique is to help them learn how to let their personality shine.


Test for Fun


One way for parents to show their children that they are an individual is to give them a “fun test.” Make up some questions that both the kids and the parents have to answer. These questions can include things like “what is your favorite food” or “what do you think would happen on the best day ever?” Have them answer the questions and be sure to acknowledge that everyone's answer is different.


Personal Decorations


Another way to help a child's personality grow is to let them decorate their own room. Let them choose the paint color, no matter how wild it might get, and paint the room to match what they like. They can also choose things like wall decorations, bed sheets, curtains, pillows or rugs. Another great idea is to have a designated drawing wall, one wall where the kids can draw whatever they want! As the kids get older, let them paint their room again and the color wall can be painted over to make room for a brand new one.


pretty childPersonal Style


Clothing can be a great picture of personality. Rather than a parent picking out their child's clothing all alone, they can take the kids shopping and choose what they like. At first kids might lean towards what their parents have been dressing then in or shirts with whatever cartoon movie is popular at the time but eventually they will learn how to choose things based on their own personal preference. Parents can always start small with simple shirts, dresses, pants or hook-and-loop toddler belts and work their way up as the kids get older. As the kids grow, they will develop their own personal style that embodies who they are as an individual.


Personal Taste


Creating different foods can also give a child an idea of what lies inside their individual personality. Parents can create a dinner chart that the kids can add things to for different days of the week. That does not mean that vegetables get erased and there are 15 desserts for dinner, but rather that the kids can help choose something in different dinner columns. For instance, there can be a column for vegetables, meat, pasta, bread, fruit, dessert and miscellaneous. This way, everyone in the family can have a part in planning meals around what they like for the week.


Personality is something that, for the most part, simply has to be learned. But it is up to the parents, whether their child knows that they have a personality or not, to decide whether they are going to feed it or let it starve.