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Posts tagged: kids

The family that volunteers together…

Volunteering as a family provides quality time for busy families, strengthens communication and promotes cooperation, according to the Corporation for National & Community Service.

For many families, the experience also increases problem-solving skills while enabling parents and older siblings to be role models to the younger ones. It can be as simple as visiting seniors at a nursing home or picking up litter along the Centennial Trail. Or, it could be a regular family activity such as the birthday parties that the Collins Whitehead family of Spokane Valley organizes every month for the mothers and children at St. Margaret’s Shelter.

By working side-by-side, families who give back to the community learn about social issues and spend quality time together, according to experts. As a result, children learn values from their parents that include empathy, tolerance, respect and civic engagement.

Is your family involved in community service? How did you pick your project? What prompted you to volunteer together as a family?

Also, how old were your children when they started taking part in volunteer work?

No cussing

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but my kids recognize a bad word when they hear one.

Thankfully, they don’t use expletives in their conversations with friends and family but I know for a fact they’ve heard me utter the occasional cuss word during stressful moments. I’m not a huge potty-mouth, but I’ve had to make a more conscious effort to watch my language ever since I became a mom. That’s why I laughed out loud when I saw this story earlier this week about the efforts for a cuss-free week in Los Angeles County.

It all started with McKay Hatch, a 15-year-old who established a No Cussing Club two years ago at his school.

As a result of his work, Hatch’s hometown of South Pasadena declared itself a cuss-free zone for a week last March. Yesterday, county officials in Los Angeles declared this week “No Cussing Week.

“Next year I want to try to get California to have a cuss-free week,” Hatch, a sophomore, told the Associated Press. “And then, who knows, maybe worldwide.”

According to the AP, Hatch lives in a household where swearing isn’t allowed. When he was in seventh grade and noticed that his friends started cussing, he decided to start a group. Now, the No Cussing Club has its own website and hip-hop theme song. People all over the world have been contacting Hatch because they want to join. By cutting down on swearing, people treat each other with more civility, said the teen, which then compels people to work together and solve problems.

So parents, do you ever catch yourself swearing around your kids? What are the rules surrounding language and the use of profanity in your household?

Teaching Kids to be Lifelong Learners

Sometimes, it is easier to measure how much a child has learned through scores, a grade or something equally tangible.

But as many of us have discovered, the numbers or grades don’t tell the whole story. They’re a snapshot of a moment, perhaps, but they’re certainly not a reflection of the whole child – his or her knowledge, talents and awareness of others and the world.

Since I’m relatively new to parenting, I sometimes worry that my 5-year-old isn’t ready for school, that he hasn’t learned how to read and write like other kids, that he might already be behind everyone else even before starting kindergarten.

I’m grateful for my son’s preschool teachers, who continue to teach me that there are other ways of knowing, other indicators that my son is on a healthy path to becoming a lifelong learner besides the traditional methods of paper and pencil exercises and keeping score.

One of the teachers recently loaned me this pamphlet, “A Parent’s Guide to Early Childhood Education,” by Diane Trister Dodge and Joanna Phinney. (It’s available through a website called “Our goal is to help children become independent, self-confident, inquisitive learners. We’re teaching them how to learn, not just in preschool and kindergarten, but all through their lives,” they wrote.

One section also addresses how and when a child should be learning reading, writing and mathematics:

“We could give your children workbooks. We could make them memorize the alphabet. We could drill them. We could test them. But if we do, your children may lose something very important. …

“Children who are rushed into reading and writing too soon miss important steps in learning and may suffer later on because they lack the foundation they need for using language. Children who are taught to read before they are ready may be able to sound out and recognize words, but they may also have little understanding of what they are reading. If they haven’t been given time to play, they won’t have explored objects enough to know what words mean. …

“Because math involves more than memorizing facts, because it involves logical thinking… children need many opportunities to count objects, sort them into piles and add some to a pile and take some away. It is by playing games like these that they will learn to truly understand addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. Without these concrete experiences, children may give correct answers but probably won’t understand what they are doing and why.”

What do you think? When and how did your child start learning how to read, write and do math? How do you teach your children to become lifelong learners?

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This blog is intended to provide a forum for parents to share knowledge and resources. It's a place for parents young and old to combine their experiences raising families into a collective whole to help others.

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