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					    The Alabama Parent Network                                                                                                    tammy.coates@dca.alabama.gov
                                                                                                                                          334-223-0711




                                                    DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN’S AFFAIRS




                                  PARENTALK
                                  PARENTALK                     A Publication for Alabama’s Parents

                                        VOLUME 2                    FALL 2009                 BACK TO SCHOOL



                     Ways to Bring Out Your Child’s Best
                           Adapted from Thomas Armstrong, Awakening Your Child’s Natural Genius available by calling 1-800-247-6552

Richard loved to tinker with mechanical                 Free-time activities can say a                      Share inspirational stories of people who
devices. As a 6-year-old, he took                       lot about where your child’s                        succeeded in life, keeping in mind that success
apart an alarm clock. At 9, he helped                   gifts lie. Pay attention to the                     does not have to involve money, fame or high
his dad fix the lawn mower. In high             activities she chooses. Does your                    intelligence. This is a good time to determine what
school, he spent hours tearing apart            young child want to build           with             your child’s thoughts of success are and make
and        rebuilding           stereo          Lego's™ or cook something with                       realistic goals.
equipment. Now, as a young adult,               you? Does your teen sit and doodle
                                                                                                                                                Continued on page 4
he's a sound technician for a                   or rhythmically bang on the furniture
professional theater company.                   while humming a tune? These are
Richard's parents encouraged his                clues to his interests and talents.
interests at an early age, which helped                                                                                  Mountain-Sized Dreams
                                                      Help your child look beyond the
him become a successful
                                                      commercialized movies, sports,
adult. However, Richard was never
                                                      TV shows, music and video                      Although no one said it out loud, it was clear the first day that
labeled as "gifted." In fact, he had
                                                games by exposing your child to a                    7-year-old Keats Boyd would probably not make it to the top
trouble with math in school. The
                                                broad spectrum of experiences.                       of Mount Kilimanjaro. At just four feet tall, the kid could
definition of "the gifted child" has
                                                Encourage your child to think about                  barely conquer a fallen log. There was just no way he was
traditionally been based on school-
                                                her future. Support her pursuit.                     going to make it all the way up Africa's tallest mountain.
related skills and limited to the upper 5
to 10 percent of children who achieve                 Use community events and
                                                      institutions to activate interests.            That was obvious to everyone … except for Keats.
high test scores, write well and excel
                                                      Visit the library, attend concerts             "It's not impossible to do something," Keats said. "You just
academically. These are certainly
important, but there may be hundreds                  together. Allow your child to                  have to believe in yourself to do it."
of other ways for children to show their        participate in community activities that             Keats doesn't come from a mountain-climbing family. In fact,
gifts. An anonymous observer said,              interest him. Suggest that he join a                 his parents, Brian and Dana, say they don't even like stairs.
“All children are gifted, some just             peer group that focuses on his gifts.                They say their son got the bug a couple years ago after he
open their packages later than                                                                       saw a Kilimanjaro special on TV. Unfortunately, watching it
                                                      Give your child permission to
others.” Studies at Harvard University                                                               and climbing it are two very different things.
                                                      make mistakes. If she has to do
bear this out, suggesting that kids can                                                              Despite everyone’s lowly expectations, Keats was all the way
                                                      things perfectly, she won’t take
display intelligence in many different                                                               to within 3,000 feet of the top, when all of a sudden, the
                                                the risks necessary to discover and
ways-through words, numbers, music,                                                                  weather turned decidedly nasty, even by Kilimanjaro
                                                develop a gift. Encourage your child
pictures, athletic or "hands-on"
                                                to tackle areas that are difficult to her.           standards. They passed climbers who were giving up.
abilities, and social or emotional
                                                Follow Eleanor Roosevelt’s                           Five hours later, 7-year-old Keats Boyd became the youngest
development. As a parent, "You can
                                                suggestion, “Do something that                       person to ever summit Mount Kilimanjaro. His dad by his
play a crucial role in awakening latent
                                                scares you every day.” Help her learn
talents or developing current strengths                                                              side.
                                                to confront her limitations and find
through experiences you give your                                                                    His parents still wonder; “what on earth is he going to want to
                                                solutions. Praise her efforts and
child at home. Here are 10 ways for                                                                  do when he’s eight? “
                                                encourage persistency.
you to bring out your child's best, no
matter his age and regardless of how
his gifts are packaged.                                                                                            Story by CBS News Correspondent, Steve Hartman
7          Easy Steps to a
           Well-Organized
                                                                                It’s 7:15, your son is looking for his backpack,
                                                                                 your daughter is crying because she doesn’t
                                                                              know what to wear, you’ve still got to make their
                                                                               lunches and you need to be out the door in ten
                                                                              minutes. Don’t you wish mornings were more or-
                                                                                                    ganized?

                                                                              If you spend a little effort up front, the benefits of



                Family
                                                                               organization can provide more time for you and
                                                                               your family and less time looking for things and
                                                                              rushing to get somewhere. We’ve compiled a list
                                                                                of 7 organizational tips to help get you started.


1 De-clutter         We naturally are less stressed when our
    surroundings are de-cluttered and organized. Ask each
    family member to spend 45 minutes (some may require a
                                                                         5 Make time for you in the morning                         Get up 15 or
                                                                              30 minutes before the family and check mail, make a to-do list,
                                                                              read or exercise. Go ahead and get ready so you can focus on
whole day!) cleaning out his closet and dresser, placing out-of-              your children. The extra time will help improve your attitude-
date and outgrown items in a bag for donation or consignment.                 setting the tone for the morning.
Remember, it’s not de-cluttering if the items stay in your
house. Take the bags to a local charity and check around for
consignment sales.

Clean out the pantry and fridge in preparation for storage
                                                                         6 Create Homework Stations                         Decide on the best
                                                                               spot in your home to set up homework areas for each child,
                                                                               keeping in mind the personality of each. Does Johnny focus
                                                                         better with others around or by himself? Is Sally better suited to sit at
containers. Prepare some grab-and-go snacks such as                      a table or curled up on the couch? Corral homework tools and
    individual fruit containers, nuts and granola bars. Keep             supplies for each person into individual containers and store in a
    these around for lunches and after-school snacks.                    nearby bin or hang in an organizer on the back of a door.


2 Take an hour on the Weekend                     to plan the week.
             Make menus, grocery lists and calendars. Ask
             your kids what they have planned for the week,
                                                                                            What about all those papers that come
                                                                                            home from school needing your attention;
                                                                                            the piles of junk mail, bills and invitations?
                                                                                            Hunting papers wastes time and when bills
             sign school papers and add all of this to the
                                                                                            aren’t paid or permission slips aren’t turned
             bulletin board. (see # 4-Command Central)
                                                                                            in, the price for disorganization is paid in
             Plan complete outfits from socks to accessories                                late fees and lost field trips. Create a
             and place in gallon-size plastic bags or a hanging                             place for your homework, as well. You
             canvas organizer. Label them with days of the               can share a space with your kids or designate a separate
             week.                                                       quiet area. Adopt one of the suggested storage solutions for


3 Thir ty Minute Round-Up                  Not many of us are at our
      best in the mornings, so why overload ourselves with decisions
and tasks that can be done the night before? Making some
                                                                         your tools and supplies and keep near by. Set up a filing sys-
                                                                         tem for important papers and receipts. One option is to use a
                                                                         binder with tabs or a plastic accordion file. For the binder, use
                                                                         clear page protectors (found at office supply stores) and in-
preparations in advance creates a less demanding morning, and, if        sert your papers. Label tabs for utilities, credit, banking, medi-
everyone pitches in, should not take long. Prepare lunches the night     cal, etc. You might even want to have a separate binder for
before. While you’re at it, set out breakfast items. Pack backpacks      each child and file special papers and important documents
with homework, money, extra-curricular supplies and set by the back      such as copies of their birth certificates, immunization cards
door, or better yet, put in the car. More items you put in the car the        and school information.


                                                                         7
night before equals less chaos the morning of. Don’t forget that
preschoolers and teenagers alike can do most or all of these tasks.          Turn back the clock Sleep is when the brain gets
    Teaching kids early how to do these things eventually                     reorganized. Getting enough sleep improves mood, con-
 takes the responsibility off you, leaving more time for other                centration and decreases irritability. Generally, teens
   things. Plus it gives them a sense of accomplishment.                 need an average of 9 hours of sleep per night. Younger chil-
                                                                         dren need at least 10. As adults, we need 8 or more. If your


4 Command Central               One of the most basic and useful
    items of any organized family is a command center. This
    is the area where all communications are posted,
                                                                         family member has a short attention span, is irritable, has
                                                                         unusually low energy or is more impatient than usual, he
                                                                         probably needs more sleep. Set a firm bed time and wake-up
                                                                         time for all members, which includes you! Limit late nights.
calendars are updated, and keys, phones, sunglasses and                  Keep bedrooms dark and consider turning off or removing
jackets are kept. This can be a simple bulletin board with               electronic devices from all bedrooms. Experts say that the
hooks or individual folders hung on the wall. Keep the center            artificial light from computers and TV screens tells the
in a public place near the back door. Family schedules,                  brain that it’s not time to wind down yet. And every ring
announcements, memos and messages should be kept and                     and ping from cell phones are debits from our sleep hours.
updated here. You may want to have a calendar for each
member in addition to the family calendar. Assign each                   While we can’t eliminate all the school-year stress, mak-
member a different color for quick reference.                            ing these small adjustments should make it a little easier.
Getting Young                                                                                                    Be the person you want
                                                                                                                your children to become.
                                                                                                                                               Randy Carlson



                                              children                                    Parents want their children to grow up to succeed in life.
                                                                                          They want their children to feel like they can do anything

                                             Ready to                                     they put their minds to. This “can-do” attitude comes
                                                                                          from everyday experiences children have early in life




                                  Learn
                                                                                          when others notice and encourage their efforts.
                                                                                          Outside of the family, one of the first places children
                                                                                          have a chance to do well is in school. For young
                                                                                          children, doing well in school means being ready to
Adapted and used with permission of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama     learn. Being ready to learn is much more than knowing
                A&M University and Auburn University).. www.aces.edu                      the alphabet and counting to ten. Readiness requires
  Publications can be ordered by calling our Distribution office at (334) 844-1592 or     that children develop their physical abilities, language
                              writing to the following:                                   skills, self-control, social skills and desire to learn.
Publications Distribution ~ 6 Duncan Hall Annex ~ Alabama Cooperative Extension System,
                              Auburn University, AL 36849-5632

    Part of being ready for school means                         Self-control-skills begin early in life when     Children develop language skills from
  that young children have learned how to                       adults respond promptly and sensitively to        their interactions with others. Parents’
    cooperate and get along with others.                         babies’ needs, helping them feel secure.        use of language and their responses to
   This helps children beginning school to                     Toddlerhood is the time when children begin         children’s attempts to communicate
     make friends. Children who make                            learning to wait, to resist temptation and to    guide language learning. By talking with
     friends tend to do better in school.                        meet adult standards for behavior. Adults        infants and toddlers, adults help them
                                                                  must now set rules that are reasonable.             connect sounds with meaning.
                                                               Good discipline teaches children what good
                                                                  behavior is and why misbehavior is not
     Social Skills for a Can-Do Kid                                             acceptable.                         Language Skills for a Can-Do
    Feels comfortable with other children.                                                                                     Kid

  Shows awareness of other children and                            Self-Control Skills for a Can-Do
            their interests.                                                     Kid                              Listens to, understands and talks with
       Understands the rights of others.                          Expresses strong feelings in acceptable                         others.
                                                                                  ways.                              Understands simple instructions.
     Stands up for own rights and avoids
         being taken advantage of.                                Waits for something instead of insisting        Understands a wide variety of everyday
                                                                             on it immediately.                    words. Uses words to identify objects.
     Plays cooperatively and is generally
           positive with other kids.                                Understands the connection between              Listens and pays attention to short
                                                                       behaviors and consequences.                      stories, songs and rhymes.
   Shows consideration and empathy for
                others.                                           Deals with anger and frustration in non-            Responds to simple questions.
                                                                               violent ways.
               Treats others fairly.                                                                              Describes simple feelings. (Happiness,
        Shows self-control with others.                                                                                        fear, anger)

                                                                 Parents’ Guide to Developing Self-
                                                                           Control Skills
     Parents’ Guide to Developing                                                                                   Parents’ Guide to Developing
                                                                   State simple rules clearly and calmly.
             Social Skills                                                                                                Language Skills
                                                                   Help young children find ways to follow
    Use positive discipline to teach self -                             simple rules. (Simon-Says)                         Infants & Toddlers
                   control.
                                                                 Anticipate young children’s actions and           Repeat rhymes ~ Sing songs ~ Read
      Take time to understand children’s                        remind them of the rules before they break         simple books ~ Describe to them what
                points of view.                                                   them.                           they are doing or feeling ~ Talk to them
       Show empathy for their feelings.                                                                             about the activities of every day life ~
                                                                Tell children what they CAN do rather than         Repeat children’s speech sounds and
       Help them think about how their                         just what they cannot do. (“You can play with       translate them into sensible, everyday
     behavior toward others can create or                       your toys. You cannot play with the remote                          words.
               solve problems.                                                   control.”)
                                                                                                                              Preschoolers
     Join children’s play, do what they do,                      Notice and encourage children when they
              have fun together.                                             are behaving well.                     Encourage them to talk about what
                                                                                                                       they do each day ~ Ask them
  Help them find non-physical alternatives                        Redirect unwanted behavior by offering             questions ~ Read books and talk
          to express their feelings.                                     acceptable alternatives.                together about the stories ~ Encourage
             Model correct behavior.                                 Explain how children’s misbehavior           them to use new words ~ Take time to
                                                                               affects others.                              listen attentively.
   Adults           with a GED or HS Diploma earn $158 more a week than those without.
                         A college degree will earn you $504 more a week.
You’ve succeeded in getting your kids
back to school. Now, it’s time to think
                                               year and $385,000 over a lifetime. This            Better yourself.
                                               can make a huge impact on a family’s
about you. If you are among the 39             budget!                                            If you are the typical parent, you are al-
million adults who never graduated from                                                           ways doing for your family, leaving your
                        high school, then      With the unemployment rate for those               own interests and goals at bay. By ob-
                        you’ve probably        without a GED or high school diploma at            taining your GED, you can have the
                        wondered about         27%, many are seeking a GED.                       sense of accomplishment and hope for a
                        the benefits of a                                                         better future.
                        GED. Perhaps
                        those who have
                        dropped out of
                        high school know
                        better than
                                                Is a                  GED                         What can you do?
                                                                                                  If you are an Alabama resident without a
                                                                                                  high school diploma or equivalent, your
                                                                                                  GED is worth getting.
                        anybody how
                        valuable a high       important?                                          There is a lot of support for Alabamians
                        school diploma is.                                                        seeking a GED:
                        It can be the key
                        to a higher            Path to a higher education.                              2-1-1 Alabama Community Re-
                        education, a                                                                   source Directory provides informa-
                                               A college degree can put $500 more a
more competitive salary, and greater                                                                   tion and resources. 211 is a free
                                               week in your pocket than if you didn’t
employment opportunity.                                                                                local call from anywhere in Alabama
                                               have a degree and it can provide a ca-
                                                                                                       and is available 24/7.
Better paying jobs.                            reer with advancement.        Accredited
                                               colleges typically do not accept students               Web sites such as
Adults without a high school diploma or        without a GED, including community                      www.diplomaguide.com provide
GED typically earn $19,400 annually,           and technical schools.                                  information and further
which is below the federal poverty line,                                                               links.
and usually require further assistance to      Better your family.
provide for their families. The types of                                                               Register at an official
                                               Parents who get their GED are more
jobs available for those without a GED                                                                 testing center by calling
                                               likely to encourage their children to get
are cashiers, sheet-metal workers, and                                                                 the Alabama Department
                                               an education. 91% of children whose
some customer service positions.                                                                       of Postsecondary Educa-
                                               parents do not have a GED or high
                                                                                                       tion at 1-334-242-2900 or
Adults with a GED or High school               school degree live in low-income fami-
                                                                                                       visit their web site,
diploma earn $158 more than those              lies. Getting your GED increases your
                                                                                                       www.accs.cc.al.us
without, which adds up to over $8,000 a        families' financial security.


 10 Ways to Bring Out Your Child’s Best (continued)                                                                          Further Reading:

    Share your successes as a               Help her open up to the won-           your child in your own interests and     Your Child’s Strengths,
    family. Talk about positive             ders of the world by asking            talents. They will be influenced by      Discover Them, Develop
    things you child did that day           intriguing questions like,             your example.                            Them, Use Them, by
and praise his accomplishments.       “What would it be like if…” and fill                                                  Jenifer      Fox, M-ED
Honor your child’s interests by       in scenarios such as, “we didn’t                                                      (Viking, 2008)
participating with him. If your       have the sun?”, or, “What makes a            Just like our child, talents and gifts
child likes to use his head to        clock tick?”. Find the answers               come in many different packages.
bounce the ball, enroll him in a      together. One parent says they               One of the joys of parenthood is         Sparks: How Parents
community soccer league and           write a “question of the day” on             seeing these gifts come alive in our     Can Ignite the Hidden
attend with him.       If he likes    the fridge in the morning then dis-          child. The role we play in develop-      Strengths of Teenagers,
music, listen to his music with       cuss possible answers over din-              ing these strengths will determine       by Peter L. Benson
him. Set aside an area in the         ner. Listen to your child’s answers.         her success. Let’s don’t make the        (Jossey-Bass, 2008)
house for displaying creations        The things she cares about most              mistake of classifying a talent as
and awards, no matter how             may provide clues to her special             insignificant or small. There are
insignificant you think they are.     talents.                                     people who many would consider           7 Tools for Cultivating
                                                                                   to have small talents who are far        Your Child’s Potential, by
    Kirk Martin of Celebrate                Involve your child in home                                                      Zan Tyler (Apologia
                                                                                   more effective than those who are
    Calm, advises to redirect               i m p ro ve m en t ac t i vi t ie s.                                            Educational Ministries,
                                                                                   considered, “big-timers.” We might
    your child’s mischievousness            Housekeeping, including                                                         2009)
                                                                                   think that the weird voices our child
to positive behavior. If your teen    cleaning and cooking, as well as
                                                                                   makes is annoying, but his gift can
sprays graffiti on the side of a      reorganizing items and redecorat-
                                                                                   lead to a career as a voice talent.
building, redirect his talent by      ing rooms will bring out any crea-                                                       Need more help in
                                                                                   It’s important as parents that we
asking leaders of the school to       tivity. Unless they’re being de-                                                         deciding your own
                                                                                   become our child’s cheerleader and
include him in large art projects     structive, let them do it their way.                                                          talents?
                                                                                   regularly point out EVERY strength
such as banners at school             They may have insight into a bet-
                                                                                   he has. We don’t know where the                    Go to
games, art for their newspaper or     ter way of doing things. Praise
                                                                                   strength might take him.                 www.toiletpaperentrepre
web site. If he talks his friends     their sense of responsibility in
                                                                                                                             neur.com/blog/how-to-
into wacky ventures, then guide                completing the task.
                                                                                                                               find-your-hidden-
him into a leadership or drama
                                             Keep your own passions                                                                talent.com
club.
                                             alive. Make time to involve

				
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