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What is your pledge for 2017?

December 27, 2016

By Jessica Vician

What is your pledge for 2017? | Pledge to encourage your child to do one small thing each day to make his or her world, and in turn, the greater world better. | Two kids sit on their parents' shoulders as they happily watch fireworks.

As we embark upon a new year and say goodbye to 2016, it's important to focus on small things we can do everyday to make the world better. Sometimes it's hard to believe that one person can make a difference in the world, but if each person does one small, kind thing—for him or herself or for others—the effect can snowball so that more people will be affected by those small acts.

Before focusing on larger resolutions, make a pledge to encourage your child to do one small thing each day to make his or her world, and in turn, the greater world better. You can also pledge to do small things that make your life and your family's life better. Here are some ideas:

Be patient and teach kindness.
When you've had a hard day but your child wants to talk or play, resist the temptation to walk away. Take three to five minutes to listen to your child and watch his or her face light up when sharing a happy story or playing with his or her favorite toys.

By doing so, you are practicing parent engagement and modeling positive behavior, and it will probably make you feel better!

You can also teach kindness to your child by using small teachable moments throughout the day to show your child what kindness, acceptance, tolerance, and common niceties look like in practice.

Smile every morning.
When you see your child for the first time in the morning, no matter how old he or she is, smile and greet them happily. Ask your child to smile back. This small action puts everyone in a better mood and helps them start their day positively. If it's hard to keep a 2017 pledge for you, start with this one.

Eat together away from the screens.
If your family doesn't share at least one meal a week together, or if meals are shared in front of the television or with phones in hand or on the table, start this ritual once a week. If you already do it once a week, try for two times a week, and so on.

Coming together over food is a happy, comforting tradition all over the world. Who knows what you will learn about your partner and your kids when there aren't any distractions?

One fruit, one vegetable per meal.
When you or your parenting partner prepare meals, do you actively plan at least a serving of each food group? Personally, I tend to focus more on vegetables than fruits, and recently realized that my lack of fruit might be responsible for craving less healthy sweets like cookies or cupcakes.

If you or your child doesn't like vegetables, try one of these tricks to incorporate them into your meals. Take an apple, banana, or cup of washed berries with you for a morning or afternoon snack, and give the same to your child. It's an easy way to make sure you and your family get the nutrition you need.

Spend 15 minutes talking about homework each night.
Let your child explain the homework that he or she has already done. It reinforces your child's learning and gives you an opportunity to understand the lessons. Take it further and tell your child a story about a real-world application of the lesson.

Not only is this activity great for parent engagement, it also keeps you on top of your child's homework without seeming too strict and allows you to determine your child's strengths and opportunities for improvement so you can engage those with activities outside of school.

What pledges are you and your family making for 2017? We'd love to hear your ideas, so please share in the comments below.

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5 Ways to Be More Engaged at Your Child’s School

November 1, 2016

By Jessica Vician

5 Ways to Be More Engaged at Your Child’s School

November is our favorite month at YOU Parent, because it’s Parent Engagement Month! The entire YOU Program is devoted to teaching parents the best parent engagement practices and educating teachers about partnering with parents for student success.

While effective parent engagement involves nurturing each of your child’s needs—social well-being, emotional well-being, physical health, and academic development—sometimes the hardest part is knowing how to be an engaged parent at your child’s school.

How important is education to your family?
Teachers aren’t the only people responsible for your child’s education. Children change teachers every year, but they don’t change parents. The first thing you can do to support your child’s education is to demonstrate how much you and your family value education, and therefore show your child how important his or her education is.

Once your child knows how much you value his or her education, you will likely see your child taking steps to succeed at school: behaving in class, doing homework, and asking questions of the teacher and you when he or she doesn’t know the answer.

While you can foster academic success outside of the classroom by engaging your child in discussions about school, certain subjects, and making sure he or she is doing homework, you can also play a role at school.

Talk to the teacher.
Start by proactively reaching out to the teacher to see how your child is doing in class. Email the teacher and ask how he or she prefers to communicate about your child’s successes or concerns. Then find out how your child is doing and ask the teacher for recommendations on supporting your child’s learning at home.

Volunteer in the classroom or at the school.
If you have time to volunteer as a classroom aide, to help at a classroom party, or chaperone a field trip, you express to the school that you are an engaged parent while also showing your child that you are invested in his or her education.

Join the PTA.
The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) at your school is a great place to network with other parents, teachers, and administration. You can directly influence your child’s education at the school by speaking with school staff, fundraising for school supplies, and learning about local and national issues that impact your child’s education.

Attend performances or games.
School isn’t just about academics. Support your child’s social and emotional development by attending his or her performances—like a school play, holiday program, or recital—or sports practices and games. It takes a lot of courage for a child to perform, whether solo or in a group, and your presence demonstrates how much you care.

Request parent engagement training.
The YOU Program, which is the parent engagement program upon which YOU Parent is based, offers various forms of training so that parents can learn how to best practice parent engagement with their children. You can learn the basics in a parent workshop and become a parent leader and train other parents at the school after attending a parent leadership training workshop. Ask the principal to offer a workshop at your child’s school.

By trying one or two of these suggestions, you will prove to your child that you support him or her in school and show his or her teachers and administrators the same. Use Parent Engagement Month to be more engaged at your child’s school.

Is your school hosting special activities for Parent Engagement Month? Tell us what they’re doing and what you will be attending in the comments below.

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Activity: Halloween Candy Trading Post

October 25, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Activity: Halloween Candy Trading Post | How do you let your child enjoy his or her spoils from trick or treating without eating too much (or whining about not having enough)? Try this activity.

After the trick or treating ends and the costumes are put away, there’s one last thing a parent has to worry about for Halloween: the begging and pleading for one more! piece of candy.

How do you let your child enjoy his or her spoils from trick or treating without eating too much (or whining about not having enough)?

If your child is in elementary school or above, make a trading game out of it. Assign relative values to each candy. For example, two rolls of Smarties are equivalent to one two-pack of fun-size Starburst. Not only does this game teach your children to use both mathematical and analytical skills, but it also turns the candy into a commodity that your child will start to see as more than just a sugary, fruity, or chocolaty treat.

Once you have assigned the relative values to each candy, invite your kids to divide their candy into the various categories you have assigned. If you need help determining values, watch this hilarious and accurate Buzzfeed video.

Then, invite your kids to trade according to the value system in place. Since there is a lot of excitement on Halloween night, let them trade a few days’ worth of candy that night (and eat some of it, embracing the inevitable sugar high). In the days following, host a candy trading post at the kitchen table after school or dinner so that your kids can honor the value system and continue to trade their candy each night for one dessert’s worth.

Continue the activity every night until all the candy is gone. As a parent, you choose whether to participate or supervise. If you have an only child, you should definitely participate—otherwise, whom will he or she trade with every night? If you don’t want to eat your candy, bring it to the office or treat your child with it after his or her supply is gone.

This Halloween candy trading activity is a great way to trick your kids into rationing their treats without whining and overindulging while developing their analytical and bargaining skills at the same time.

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How can I stop my mother-in-law from telling me how to parent?

October 18, 2016

By YOU Program Facilitator

How can I stop my mother-in-law from telling me how to parent? | A new dad sits in bed with his wife while his mother argues with them while holding the baby.

Question: I just had my first baby and my mother-in-law is driving me crazy! She’s telling me how to do everything, even breastfeed! She has an opinion about formula, diapers, swaddling, how to hold the baby—the list goes on and on. I’m about to lose my mind—how can I stop her from telling me how to be a parent?

Answer: We’ve all been there. As soon as the pregnancy or adoption announcement goes out, the unsolicited parenting advice rolls in. It seems unstoppable. You start by politely smiling and nodding, agreeing even when you don’t. But once the baby comes, there is neither time nor patience for being polite. And of course, the advice that hits the biggest nerve is from your mother-in-law.

This is one of the most common questions we receive from friends and YOU Program workshop attendees and the answer isn’t simple. It depends on your and your parenting partner’s relationship with your in-law. It depends on the advice they’re offering. It depends on a lot of factors.

There are two key starting points:

  1. Take a breath and remember that it comes from a good place.
    Your mother-in-law loves her grandchild and wants to pass along advice that helped her raise your partner. But she might not understand that parenting trends come and go, safety expectations change, and most people only want advice when they ask for it.
  2. Assess the advice.
    If it’s a clear safety violation to follow her advice, then stop her right away and explain the current safety rules or laws. For example, if Grandma says it’s okay for a two-year-old to ride in the front seat of the car, you need to stop her immediately and explain why that’s unsafe and where your two-year-old should be sitting instead (in a strapped in car seat in the back seat).

From there, here are some ways to deal with common issues.

Giving Birth
If your parenting partner and you would like privacy during the birth or right afterward, communicate that to close family and friends as soon as you have decided. Be proactive about announcing this decision so everyone knows your expectations. Let them know you’d like some privacy as a family before they come to visit the baby.

First Visits at Home
If parents or parents-in-law want to stay with you after the birth of your child and you’re comfortable with it, be proactive about asking for help.

Think of things you need help with that won’t interfere with what you need to do with your new baby: laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, cooking, etc. By giving them something to do, they can be helpful while you take care of the baby’s immediate needs.

If your in-law seems to take too much of a hands-on role with your baby, you or your parenting partner need to quickly explain that you are now in the parent role and your in-law is now in the grandparent role. Explain the differences, like the new parents needing to establish a routine for the baby with them, and the exception to the routine is with the grandparents. The grandparents need to respect your rules for your baby, not the other way around.

Parenting Advice
If your mother-in-law is persistently offering opinions that you disagree with, you and your parenting partner should discuss them privately to ensure you’re on the same page. Then, figure out who should talk to Grandma.

Some people are more comfortable with the child directly addressing the issue with their parent. For example, if Dad’s mother is critical of the way Mom is feeding the baby, Dad can gently tell his mother that her criticism is hurtful to both him and you and that you are following your doctor’s advice.

If Dad’s mother is with Mom alone a lot, it might be better for Mom to address the opinions directly. Again, be gentle but firm. “I really appreciate your advice and you did a great job with Dad, but this is something I want to figure out for myself. If I’m having trouble, I’ll be sure to ask you for help and advice.”

Remember those starting points and that your mother-in-law means well. At the same time, it’s a good opportunity for you to start setting boundaries for your new family. Hopefully, everyone in the family will soon settle into a routine with your baby and you can get the help you need but not the advice you don’t.

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Say "Thank You" on World Teachers' Day

October 4, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Say "Thank You" on World Teachers' Day

“Strangely one of the most central, vital professionals to society does not receive the respect it deserves in some parts of the world.”

That observation comes directly from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in regards to teaching.

So how can we, as individuals in society, change that observation and give teachers the respect they deserve?

We can start by honoring World Teachers’ Day on October 5th and saying “thank you” to our children’s teachers.

Many teachers work long hours, arriving well before the bell rings to start school and staying well past the last bell ring. They take assignments home to grade after dinner. They prepare lesson plans before the first day of school. In many school systems, they’re not paid nearly enough for being tasked with inspiring a thirst for knowledge and a quality education to our children who will become tomorrow’s leaders. And many of them have to spend their own salary to buy supplies for their classrooms due to a lack of funding. Just look at the thousands of Go Fund Me pages started by teachers to stock their classrooms.

We don’t say, “Thank you” nearly enough. Think about what you can thank your child’s teacher for: cleaning her up after she got sick at school, spending extra time with him until he figured out fractions, listening to her as she cried about being bullied, pushing him to score a goal or achieve an athletic accomplishment despite being a little clumsy. Teachers are your extensions while your kids are in school, nurturing your children’s physical, academic, emotional, and social needs.

This World Teachers’ Day, think about what your child’s teacher has done for your daughter or son. Even though it’s early in the school year, you can probably think of something the teacher has done to go out of his or her way for your child. Write them a meaningful thank you card. And if you remember something a past teacher did for your child, send them a card as well. They’ll be touched you still remember.

Above all, remember how hard their jobs are and keep that in mind during each communication you have with them throughout the year. Give them your respect and they will continue to respect your child.

And as your child’s first teacher, thank you for the late nights, early mornings, long days, bad days, poopy diapers, temper tantrums, readings before bed, kisses in the morning, and so much more.

To teachers!

Tags :  teachersacademicparenting
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