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Does your child have the back-to-school jitters? Do you have a little one going off for the first time? Maybe your child can’t wait to get out the door and you are the one having the ‘empty nest’ panic attack?
No matter what the scenario in your home, the end of summer and back-to-school routine can be stressful. Here are a few ideas to help ease the transition for everyone.
As a final consolation, don’t forget that children almost always manage better once you have disappeared around the corner than when you are still within sight. They pull themselves together and can focus on the task at hand rather than concentrate on missing you. The day will be over before you know it!
“My child is being bullied at school. What should I do?”
First of all, know that you’re not alone. Bullying is an all-too-common experience. A lot of parents are dealing with the same frustrating—and painful—experience as you are. Here are some tips on getting through this tough time with your child.
Empathize with your child, but do so from a position of strength. Let him/her know that you understand how awful it feels to be bullied—lower than low. At the same time, let him/her know that you’re not totally freaked out by the situation (something that’s easier said than done if you have a long history of being bullied yourself). Your child needs to feel that you can handle this and that you will be a source of support (as opposed to an emotional marshmallow).
Reassure your child. Let your child know that you take the problem seriously and that s/he has your support. Kids need to know that they no longer have to deal with this problem on their own. Teach your child how to respond to a bully (use humour that doesn’t put down the bully) and how to reduce the odds of being bullied in future (by coming across as a less vulnerable target, because bullies are notorious for picking on kids who come across as physically or emotionally vulnerable).
Arrange to meet with your child’s teacher. The school needs to know what is going on so that school staff can keep their eyes and ears open and be prepared to intervene when they suspect that bullying may be taking place. Your child needs to know where s/he can go and who s/he can talk to if s/he is being bullied physically (pushing, hitting), emotionally (name-calling, spreading of rumors), or socially (by being shunned by the group). You might also want to inquire about the types of anti-bullying programs offered by the school. Kids need to learn how to prevent incidents of bullying (by dealing with the underlying issues that can otherwise result in bullying) and how to defuse bullying situations when they first occur—by refusing to give the bully an audience.
Compare notes with other parents at your child’s school. Find out if any of their kids have had problems with bullying. Talk about ways to work together to deal with bullying at school, on the school bus, and online so that you can curb bullying together.
Find someone you can talk to about how you’re feeling. It’s painful to watch your child being bullied. You need an outlet for your feelings so that you can be strong for your child.
Keep strong and remember, you are not alone.
We just experienced Bullying Awareness Week last week, and while I applaud the attention being paid to bullying prevention, I sure wish it was a not confined to one week or one simple school assembly saying “bullying is wrong”. That ain’t gonna cut the mustard.
To fully appreciate the complexity of the social conditions that contribute to bullying, and to tackle it head on, we have to make huge changes as a society—not only on the individual and family levels, but also at the school and community levels. In fact, all our social institutions and all our human relationships must shift their thinking to loving kindness and compassion in a new way. I recommend people check out the awesome work being done by Raffi at childhonouring.org [http://childhonouring.org/] to learn more about how to make systemic changes to humanity that will create lasting change.
I know that may leave you feeling a bit lost at what to do in the moment when your child arrives home with tear-stained eyes, so here are some immediate tips for those who must make a swift plan of action right now.
When You Learn Your Child is Being Bullied
Anti-Bullying Tactics You Can Teach Your Child
Hopefully, this will nip the attacks in the bud. It’s not the only solution, and if things continue, or worsen quickly, there are more levels of intervention to try. Bullying is so prevalent that every child should at least know these protective tactics so they feel armed to deal with problems should they arise.
Now parents—join your Parent Council and bring your own commitment to making all schools a loving, safe, inclusive environment. It’s a child’s right (both the bully and the bullied) to feel safe and loved everywhere they go.
Our children experience enormous pressures to be online all the time. They are starting as young as 2 years-old on the iPhone and evolving to the 8 to18 year-old spending more than 7½ hours per day in digital activity of one form or another, and that doesn’t include cell phone use.
Some schools require children as young as 10 to have a Think Pad and to maintain a regular blog. They bring their schoolwork home on a digital stick and use the Internet for assigned research. Teens meets with their classmates via Skype to complete school projects because it’s more convenient than getting together face-to-face. To stay connected with their friends, our children keep their noses to the screens while texting and Facebooking. They entertain themselves online with video games, TV shows and YouTube videos. And we parents are putting the pressure on them, too. We ask our children to stay in touch with us digitally, and encourage them to distract themselves online when we want time to ourselves.
While accepting that our children’s lives will require a certain amount of screen time, we can be important advocates for off-screen activities to counter the weaknesses of a digital life. Already doctors are seeing young people showing the physical fallout from years of computer use—neck and back problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, diminished hearing, effects of inadequate sleep. Drama teachers are finding that today’s students are so dependent on texting they have trouble expressing themselves when they’re asked to communicate face-to-face.
To counter the sedentary, sometimes solitary screen-based lifestyle, our teens need social, physical and tactile experiences: making music or art, dancing or drama, sports, volunteering, time in nature. If your child is resisting reduced screen time, ask him or her to propose a solution that takes into account your concerns. If she argues that she needs to be online all the time because her career will be dependent on her cyber skills, you can counter with the example of Pierce Vallieres. He’s the 14 year-old who created a Rubik’s Cube app for Apple that is generating worldwide sales. Doubtless Pierce spent hours online fine-tuning his creation, but, according to media reports, he still manages to find time to play baseball, hockey and guitar, and is learning to fly an airplane.
You’ll be strengthened in your resolve by the position of many Silicon Valley computer geeks who are sending their children to schools like Waldorf that don’t use computers. According to a recent article in The New York Times, these parents are aware that their children will need computer time to compete in the modern world but say “What’s the rush, given how easy it is to pick up those skills.”
You don’t have to be Kate Gosselin, an unemployed reality television star and single mom with a brood of eight kids, to be stressed about the costs of paying for your kids’ post-secondary education. Most parents are concerned (and confused) about how to set aside money in a Registered Education Savings Plan. Enter Golden Girl Finance expert Rhonda Sherwood, a Wealth Advisor at ScotiaMcLeod in Vancouver, to help sort through the RESP rulebook and provide savvy ‘school-savings’ tips to get started!
Rhonda advises that RESPs are pretty standard, since they are such highly regulated plans. Therefore, you won’t gain much from shopping around. Choose an institution where you have a relationship, bring in a budget of what you can spend and ask an advisor to help you to choose investments. Hopefully, your prodigy will go on to make you proud!
Nothing is more exciting and terrifying than the lead up to back to school: new classmates, new teacher, new subjects to learn, and for some, even a whole new school. One way to help alleviate some of these transitional stresses and ensure kids and teens have more confidence as they pick up their new books, is to keep learning over the summer. After all, it is understandable that some of the skills learned have fallen wayside—particularly in reading and writing. Jeanette Podolsky, Director of Speech Therapy Centres has some activity ideas to help you and your kids as they get back into the grind and feel confident heading back to the classroom.
‘By incorporating activities for listening, language expression, reading and writing into your daily routine, and creating a language-literacy rich environment, you can help ensure smoother transitions at school,’ says Jeanette.
Here are her tips:
Simon Says: This is a great game to sharpen many of your child’s skills; from listening to improving verbal attention and from following directions to self-regulation. Based on your child’s skill level, you can make the game easy to challenging. Start simple with one task—‘Simon says clap your hands.’ Then as each level is mastered, add a degree of difficulty,such as multi-step directions—‘Simon says take your dishes and put them on the counter.’ Or perhaps you can tease them by throwing in some directions that require good listening such as, ‘Simon says don’t clap’ or ‘Simon says tell me a word that rhymes with bat.’ With a little imagination, the possibilities are endless!
Reading together: One of the messages every parent hears from the time their child is an infant is ‘read to your little one.’ As your child grows, so too can reading time. You can work on site words, or you can encourage them to use the pictures in the book to help them tell you the story. If you want quiet reading time, ask them to predict what will happen next or when you are done ask them to recall the main ideas, characters and the plot of the story.
Junior School Age:
Name-Place-Animal-Thing: Here’s a fun group word game that stimulates vocabulary and targets literacy skills. Ask one person in the group to call out a letter of the alphabet. Then everyone takes a couple of minutes to write down a ‘name,’ a ‘place,’ an ‘animal’ and a ‘thing’ that starts with that letter. When all members in the group have finished writing down all four fields, each one calls out their list. There are many ways to build on to this game, from describing how the members of the category are related to including adjectives, verbs, synonyms and antonyms.
Young writers in the making! What did your child do this summer? Something new? Exciting? Or did they simply frolic in the sun and enjoy the laziness of no school. Whether they travelled to a new place, enrolled in a summer camp, or visited some exciting local attractions, ask your child to write about it. Support their writing with a topic and conclusion sentence (e.g., Topic sentence: ‘This summer, I had a lot of fun.’ Conclusion sentence: ‘I can’t wait for another fun-filled summer next year). Watch them as they write. If you see them struggling with their spelling, encourage them to sound out the words. Once they have finished, have them to check their work for punctuation and proper capitalization.
Middle School Age:
Movie Reviews: Challenge your child to summarize a recent movie they have seen. Not only will this activity target organization of thoughts (beginning, middle and end), but it will also help with verbal memory, descriptive writing and presentation skills. Remember—encourage them to provide reasoning for their thoughts and likes or dislikes.
Summer trip comparison: Wonder what your child liked about their summer holiday? Here is your chance to find out. Over dinner or some quiet time, have a discussion with your children where you compare this summer to last. Encourage them to talk about what was liked or not liked and how they can make next summer even more memorable. This activity uses comparison skills, problem-solving and generation of ideas for next summer!
Making the transition from the lazy, dog days of summer back to a new school year can be a challenge for both parents and children. Incorporating some of these activities into your family’s daily routine throughout the end of summer can make for a smoother transition back into school.
It takes just two weeks to form a new habit (or break a bad one), so why not make a commitment to implement a greener routine that can save money, make a lasting impact on the environment and positively affect the health of your family.
So here’s my challenge to you—commit to making four small and simple changes which can be incorporated into your family’s daily routine that will make a lasting impact on the environment and the health of everyone involved. Greener doesn’t have to cost you more time or money, so get your family involved. Empower them to be a part of the change with these four easy steps and make sustainable living the new ‘normal’ in your home.
Step 1: The Litterless Lunch
As a mom, when I recognized the impact of prepared, packaged and processed foods on our bodies and the environment, I knew that I had to make a change. By swapping out disposable packaging for reusable lunch carriers and avoiding prepared foods, you’ll be saving money, the environment and improving the health of your child. Here’s how:
Step 2: Watch How You Wash
Keep in mind that while you are making an investment in a healthy and more sustainable lunch, it’s important to investigate what you are using to wash and keep your lunch containers clean. Many dish and laundry soaps contain petrochemicals (derived directly from oil). So wherever possible, look to wash your lunch bags and containers with plant-derived, non-toxic dish soap. I make sure the following on are my shopping list:
Step 3: Choose a Fun, Fit and Sustainable Route to School
Getting to school has an enormous impact on our environment as well as our health. With an estimated 1.6 million children in Canada (26% per cent of children) considered overweight or obese, it’s a wonder more parents don’t look at making healthy transportation options a part of their daily lives. Here’s a few ways to work health, cost and environmentally-friendly options into your getting to school routine:
Step 4: Rebrand Responsibility
It’s important to engage your kids in the school preparation and planning process to help set them up for success. This means that kids must be involved in organizing their snacks and lunches for the week, they should help clean and select their clothing and should also be in charge of creating their weekly schedules (including chores, sports practices, music lessons, etc). Most importantly though, they need to understand why it is important that they choose environmentally-friendly products.
After having many conversations with my own children about the environment and what it means to do our part, I recognized that a big part of teaching stewardship is ingraining responsibility into the fabric of your household.
Overall, it’s never too late to set a new standard of what you and your family can do to help care for the environment.
When you have kids, September, even more than January, feels like the time for a fresh start. The arrival of a new school year brings with it the chance to do better, especially when it comes to juggling all the moving parts that make up our lives.
I have a bit of a history of starting the school year with a huge burst of energy and then slowly fizzling out by Halloween. This year we have a lot on the go and it’s my responsibility to keep us rolling.
So I’m making some ‘back-to-school’ resolutions that I hope will keep me honest and the whole family on track:
Wish me luck. If I’m still doing half of these by December I’ll consider myself successful. I’ll keep you posted.
And let me know if I’m on the right track by sharing your strategies for a smooth, healthy and active school year.
Sara Smeaton is a self-proclaimed non-sporty mom to her 7-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son. While working in advertising, as an interactive project manager, she avoided all company bowling outings and baseball games. Since having her kids, Sara continues to work as a freelancer and consultant; she is enjoying this new adventure writing for Active for Life.
The kids are back in school. Why then is it so hard to get them into bed? If your bedtime routine went on summer vacation, now is the time to dig it out from under the winter coats and boots, shake it off and put it into action.
Here are a few things to remember:
Need more help? We have helped thousands of families with bedtime struggles. Like us at facebook.com/parentingpower to learn real life parenting tools for your family.
After a long hot summer, it can be tough to get kids back into a routine and focused on homework. But homework is a key part of your child’s education, and it’s important that they not only complete it, but also understand what they’ve learned.
Studies show that children’s achievements in school improve with increased parent involvement in education. So get involved in your kids’ schoolwork—you might even learn something new too!
ABC Life Literacy Canada offers 10 tips on how to make homework part of your daily routine:
For other family literacy tips and activities, visit FamilyLiteracyDay.ca.
I rode my bike a lot this summer. Mostly I was trying to keep up with my 5-year-old daughter.
She completed her third Pedalheads course in early August, and this year learned some great safety rules. Less than a month later, with daily practice, she’s riding comfortably—and safely—on the road and we’ve discovered some new trails in our neighbourhood.
All of this was part of a master plan to have her ready to bike to school when she started kindergarten, and I’m proud to say that every morning begins with us pedaling the short 10 minutes to her new school.
I was surprised to read that in 2009, only 35%t of American children living within a mile of school walked or biked. That compares to 89% back in 1969.
Those numbers came from a recent report that reviewed information from a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey designed to find out why parents didn’t allow their children to walk to school.
Reasons cited by parents for driving their kids to school included distance and weather, which are genuine concerns.
Many parents said they were worried about traffic and crime. But statistics reported in the study indicated that more children are injured and killed in motor vehicles than walking or cycling, and Statistics Canada shows that crime rates in this country haven’t changed since the 1970s.
Active & Safe Routes to School is the Canadian wing of an international effort to promote the ability of children to walk and bike to school. (The American association is SafeRoutes.)
Through education—of children, parents, teachers and administrators—and by helping to create routes to schools that are safe and patrolled, the organization hopes to increase the number of children who walk and bike every day.
For the kids, biking to school is energizing and empowering. And it’s an easy way to help them get enough daily physical activity, too.
Where we live—Vancouver—biking is a part of the culture. The weather is moderate enough that some families cycle everywhere they need to go year-round. Even during the winter month monsoons here, a simple rain coat (Mountain Equipment Co-op has great all-weather bike clothing) is all you need.
And my daughter has become very fond of her bike. She loves to be on it. It’s my hope that she becomes so used to cycling that she’ll never think to ask for a ride.
Blaine Kyllo has written for a variety of print and online publications including CBC.ca, the Globe & Mail, the Georgia Straight and Vancouver Magazine. Also an editor, producer and the father of two young children, he lives in North Vancouver.
Canada is a great country. We have so much to be thankful for. But all is not perfect in our land. We are known to be a progressive and diverse culture, and in the bright-shining light of progression I speak to all the parents, administrators and educators of our fair nation.
We stand proud on our achievements in literacy and numeracy, for our children are among the most capable in the world when it comes to Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic. No surprise really, as the 3 Rs have been long-standing pillars of our education system and our Canadian mindset. From the Pacific to the Atlantic, we measure our achievement of the 3Rs using mandatory provincial examinations. We know where we stand, and we can rightfully stand tall.
Despite these marvelous literacy and numeracy achievements, the health of Canadians, child and adult alike, is being insidiously eroded. Sadly, our Canadian way of life has become sedentary for over 95% of us and more than 65% are overweight and obese, leading to the unprecedented development of ‘inactivity diseases’ such as type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.
The true north isn’t strong, it’s weak
This unhealthy lifestyle—our behaviours—is a reflection of our Canadian values and attitudes. Thank goodness for our health care system which has, up to this point, been able to manage the negative consequences of our collective sloth and gluttony. But our health care system is beginning to fail under the burden of our lifestyles.
We want our health care but we do not want our health!
How do we rectify this? Well, thankfully the health and physical education (HE/PE) objectives that are a part of our provincial education curricula can provide the foundation on which we can create physically literate children that actively participate. Which could save the next generation of Canadian bacon, so to speak.
Parents and educators must start to insist on the delivery of the HE/PE objectives, just as we have insisted for reading, writing and arithmetic. Perhaps this would form the foundation of a new Canadian culture, one that is active and healthy.
The physical education curricula for all provinces can be found here. Parents should become familiar with what our children are supposed to know and behaviours that they should exhibit as a result of being enrolled in our health and physical education system. You will be surprised to learn what the learning expectations are. Parents want their kids to be healthy. We all do. We may not yet have provincial examinations for physical literacy, but if we value what physical literacy gives to our children we need to measure it. Just as we measure the ability of our children to read, write and do math.
Like most provincial HE/PE curricula, Manitoba’s has strands on fitness, movement, safety, healthy lifestyle practices, as well as personal and social management. For your interest, here are some of the learning objectives of the Grade 6 curriculum from three strands: fitness, movement and lifestyle. What you’ll notice is that the objectives are quite bold. If kids were able to do the things that the curriculum sets out, they’d be well prepared for the future.
The problem is that schools aren’t delivering on the curriculum. Our children are not able to do everything that the system itself expects. As parents, we need to work cooperatively with our education system to actually deliver on these objectives.
The recreation and sport sectors need to become integrated into our school systems via the parent advisory council to complement the physical literacy education process. Our teachers know which children are in need of improved healthy lifestyle behaviours, and they can play a very important role in guiding their students toward suitable, physically active leisure pursuits in the community.
We don’t need to worry about who is already active in sport and leisure activities. We need to worry about who isn’t.
So, parents, please politely get in the face of your teachers, engage your principals and superintendents, recruit your parent advisory councils. Leave them in no doubt as to your hopes and needs for your children and our country: ‘Hey, my kids have to be physically literate and active!’
We’d never tolerate our kids practicing reading only twice a week because we know that regular reading is what builds literacy. So why are we okay with our kids only getting physical education and activity in schools with only a couple of sessions a week?
As parents, we can do our bit outside school time. But schools can make a powerful contribution during the day.
Let’s make sure that Canada, the true north, really is both strong and free.
Dean Kriellaars (BPE, MSc, PhD, CEP) is faculty at the University of Manitoba and a scientist at the Manitoba Institute of Child Health. Dr. Kriellaars has received two University of Manitoba Presidential Outreach awards for meritorious community work and recently was awarded the Campbell Award for longstanding community service. Provincially, he was recognized for his outstanding activities in building community wellness in the province of Manitoba through the Healthy Living Award.