Thursday, July 17, 2014

Preparing for Kindergarten Separation

When I taught Kindergarten, prior to having my own children, I noticed each September that the transition for parents was often as wrought with emotion  as it was for the five-year-olds.  We built in plenty of time to help ease the children into the school year but I now think we could have done more to equip moms and dads with strategies and tools so that they could help themselves and their children start off on a positive note.

Preparation is the most obvious way to get yourself and your child ready for a new experience.  This is where literature can be so helpful.  Books with social stories such as "The Kissing Hand" by Audrey Penn and "Chrysanthemum" by Kevin Henkes are a great way to develop talking points while spending quality time.  Local librarians and your child's teacher may have book lists and recommendations.

Incentives can go a long way with a child who has difficulty transitioning. In the car on the way to school or at the breakfast table, tell your child what will happen after school.  This does not have to be going to pick out a new toy at the store, but can be as simple as planning to have a favorite snack together or play a favorite board game. I can recall so many excited little faces telling me with great satisfaction exactly what they would be doing when they got home from school. Other incentives can include a special sticker on a chart for giving a quick kiss goodbye and skipping in the door or working toward and end of week 'treat' for being cooperative in the mornings.

Building in predictable and sustainable routines early can set the tone for stress free mornings for your child even as you race to get everyone out the door with what they need and where they need to be on time.  Think about ways to make your Kindergartener as self reliant as possible with these routines. Is there a place where he/she can unpack and repack the back pack each day? Can clothing be laid out the night before? What about laminating a check list that you and your child can mark off together each morning? The same goes in the classroom as at home, when children know what is expected of them and outcomes are predictable, they feel more secure and confident.

Don't forget to build in time at the end of the day to hear all about your child's experience.  Be sure to use open ended questions to get the most information instead of simply, "How was your day?" This is also where it is critical to avoid making judgements when you hear recess stories.

Finally, we all sometimes cringe to realize that our own insecurities can be so easily passed along to our children.  Have confidence in your child's teacher and only let your child hear you speak in a positive manner about him or her.  Remember that for the first several weeks of school, the teacher will be devoting a lot of time to getting to know the students, building classroom routines, assessing skills and creating a safe and happy environment where the learning can take place.

About the Author

Liza d'Hemecourt lives in Needham with her husband Mike and her two children, Elizabeth and Mikey (ages 2.5 and eighteen months.) She studied theater and education at Boston College. Liza taught Kindergarten and first grade prior to having children.

Remember- if you shop Amazon for the books listed above, please consider adding Parent Talk as your preferred charity to receive a portion your purchase, at no cost to you, in Amazon Smile.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer Organizing Tips

Summer is here, finally it's time to get outdoors and enjoy those long summer days and create some fun family memories.

Summertime comes hand in hand with lots of fun gear, anything from sports equipment, yard games and water fun. Between my two boys we have balls of every kind in the basement, bats, rackets, sticks, clubs, bikes, scooters, skateboards,ride-ons, games, fishing rods, water fun, beach and pool stuff, kites and the list goes on. Don’t waste time this summer looking for stuff, get organized with some easy storage solutions and helpful tips.

Utilizing your walls and ceiling by hanging equipment up and off the floor can maximize floor space and make for easy access. The family bikes are perfect for hanging up with the help of large hooks from the ceiling and large net bags are great for ball storage and can be hung from the walls. Large baskets or boxes are also good for ball storage. All the bats and different sticks can also easily be hung up with the use of specialty racks found at the hardware store. 

Some simple shelving and bins can help with the smaller things but don’t run out to buy new if you don’t have to; try and work with what you have at home and recycle! Keep in mind that organizing in groups can simplify and make it easier for the kids to access their things. When the children can see their gear, they will play with it, enjoy it and know where to put it back at the end of the day.

Summer 101: Preparing a bag that you can take on every trip so that your family can enjoy safe fun in the sun is essential in the summer. Sunscreen, bug spray and a bottle or two of water is so important to survive the sun and heat. So be prepared and stash them in your favorite summer bag and keep it in a convenient location. Having it ready will save you time so you can focus on other things you need and there always are!

Storing a few simple plastic bags or large zip locks in the car can be very useful when you have wet clothes, swimsuits, smelly sports gear or when you just need a trash bag for the picnic leftovers! And I never leave home without my all time favorites wet wipes which are good for nearly everything!

Enjoy a fun and safe summer!

About the author
I live in West Roxbury with my husband and two boys. My love of aesthetics, studies in Architecture and Interior Design, and my organized nature keep me looking for the best solutions to suit my family’s ever-growing organizational needs. I can help your family with any storage/design problems you have in the home or office.  

Organized by Danielle Weil

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How Can We Make Parent Talk Even Better?

Hello friends. It's a new year for Parent Talk as the school year comes to a close. There is a new Board in place and we want to hear from you on what would make Parent Talk even better.

We recently started sending out a survey to our members so we can hear from you about your favorite benefits of being a Parent Talk member. Is it the playgroups? Lectures? Volunteer opportunities with your kids? Can we do any of these things better? If you have a great idea, or gripe to share, this is the place. Parent Talk runs as a volunteer organization and we appreciate getting input from all of our members.

Our goal is to have everyone share their ideas. Last year we had 127 responses. Can we get this number up to 150 this year? 

Extra benefit~ everyone who completes the survey is entered to win a free party at the playspace. Remember, it doesn't just have to be a birthday party. You can reserve the space to host a back to school party, Halloween party or other fun filled event. here to fill out the survey. Thank you in advance!

photo credit: Marcus Ramberg via photopin cc

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Is Your Favorite Ice Cream Shop in Needham the Same as Your Kids?

Written by Emily Roach

Recently I asked the question, "What is your favorite ice cream shop in Needham?" It was an unscientific poll and the funniest thing is how many moms said one place is their favorite, while another is their kids top choice. People are also very passionate about their favorite ice cream store.
"Junction, of course! Where else can you get a "kiddie cone" (which is actually really big) for $1.75? Oh, within walking distance AND watch the train while eating..." -Sari M.

Here are the results.

Kid's Favorite

  • Orange Leaf
  • Junction (watch the trains!)

Ice Cream from Volante Farms

Mom's Favorite

  • Lizzy's
  • Volante Farm Crescent Ridge (summer mention)

Honorable Mentions
  • Abbott's 
  • Pinkberry (Wellesley field trip required!)
So here's the next question for you?  Soft serve or regular ice cream?

photo credit: Darwin Bell via photopin cc

Monday, May 19, 2014

Join us for the 1st Spring Marketplace!

Swirl plate from Wicked Mud

There are so many great mom run businesses here in Needham. Parent Talk is bringing together a few of them to celebrate summer and make Monday a little more fun. On June 9th from 7:30-9:30, stop by the 3 Squares Restaurant to shop from the following retailers:

  • Rock Paper Scissors

  • Wicked Mud

  • Stella & Dot

  • Thirty One

  • Wildtree

  • Usborne

  • Madely Jewelry

  • Tupperware and more...

Did you know Stella & Dot now has bags?!

There will be light appetizers, cash bar and giveaways. Grab a group of your friends and head over for a fun night of shopping. The event is free! 3 Squares Restaurant is located at 669 Highland Ave.

Please RSVP here:

If you are interested in participating next year, please contact:

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Post Sale…what happens?

By Katie Alwart, Community Relations Chair

Many of us are familiar with the Parent Talk biannual Used Clothing, Toy and Equipment sale (save the date for the next one - October 18!). Friday is typically a flurry of excitement, donations and scouting for amazing bargains by volunteers. Saturday starts early with dozens of people in line at 8:00 am drinking coffee and waiting for their chance to find amazing deals for their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and friends. At noon on Saturday, the bag sale kicks off and people see just how many onesies a brown paper grocery bag can hold.

What many people don't know, however, is that the sale continues after the last bag sale shopper leaves. The final part of the weekend is when Parent Talk invites charities to come and collect items for the underserved populations that they work with. If you've been at the sale near the end, you know that there are often hundreds of items of clothing left, perfectly good books and a variety of great toys that just didn't sell.

It has been an honor to work with the charities through the last year and this past sale was no exception. We were able to provide Arm2Arm, Baby Bundles, Bagong Kulturang Pinoy, Inc., Brockton Neighborhood Health Center, Circle of Hope, Department of Children and Families, Room to Grow and the YMCA with a ton of donations (often more than their vans could carry).

The messages that we receive back speak volumes about the good this is able to do in the community. DCF let us know that often kids arrive in foster care with only the clothes that they are wearing and the clothing they receive goes immediately to helping these kids. Circle of Hope shared that their stockpile of jackets and shoes was depleted and the sale ensured that their shelves are full again to provide to homeless children.

So, to all of you who donated to the sale or worked it, please know that your generosity of spirit and support of Parent Talk has extended far beyond the organization's borders. Thank you!

We are always looking for charities who we can support with donations following the Parent Talk sale. If you have suggestions on charities who could benefit from partnering with us, please email

Thank You from the Sale Team!

The sale could not happen were it not for our volunteers, consignors, and shoppers who spent countless hours setting up, running, shopping at, and then breaking down this event. We love seeing new faces as well as many repeat shoppers, consignors, and volunteers. Even if you are not a PT member, your continued participation in the sale makes you a part of our larger PT community! Thank you for feeling so passionately about the sale.

The amount of donated items for this sale was profound, so our sincere thanks to those who made the decision to donate their children’s clothes, toys, and equipment. We depend on your donations for the sale to be successful!  

Many local businesses also donate goods and services, which improve the sale’s flow. Copley Motors provided significant funds to help us pay for the supplies we needed to keep the sale running smoothly. Gentle Giant donated multiple trucks, and sent us exceptional movers who made sure all donated items, clothing racks, and supplies were moved in and out of the church efficiently and safely. We appreciated JC Timmerman’s donation of two large and incredibly useful dumpsters that simplified our set up and clean up activities. PODS donated a storage unit that was essential while we collected the generous local donations. Urbansitter defrayed marketing costs. In addition, each of the following businesses graciously donated food to keep our sale committee energized over the three days it takes to run the sale: 3 Squares, Comella’s, Hazel’s Bakery, Hint Water, New Garden, The Rice Barn, Roche Brothers, Starbucks, Stone Hearth Pizza, Sweet Corner, Treat Cupcake Bar, and Whole Foods Wellesley. 

Finally, a very special thank you goes out to everyone at Christ Episcopal Church. Your support is essential to our ability to execute the sale well, and we greatly appreciated the input of Julia Baker and Michael Beagan.

In all, we want to say a big THANK YOU to Needham volunteers and businesses for proving that there are truly amazing people out there and that our great community is one of a kind!

Parent Talk relies almost exclusively on volunteers, and this spring over 200 of them helped out throughout sale weekend. All proceeds benefit Parent Talk's community work and events, and all unsold items were donated directly to local charities that depend on these goods to fulfill their missions.

With gratitude,

Nikki Amara Myers, Joyce McCafferty, and Kathy Fritz                                                                      Parent Talk Sale Co-Chairs

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