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.

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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

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