Thursday, November 7, 2013

Why Parents Matter

Tuesday night we had our Quarterly Volunteer In-service Meeting here at United Way of Utah County.  Our Welcome Baby volunteers gathered together and we had a wonderful presentation by Lori Thorn, Principal at Polaris High School, an alternative high school for Alpine School District.  As an alternative high school Polaris struggles with graduation rates and attendance.  Most of their students come from low income families, have difficult home lives, hate school and/or are young mothers.  However, despite these challenges Polaris made a major overhaul last year and redesigned the curriculum and changed the focus.  They took into account all of the barriers their students face and tried to remedy them as much as they could.  They created smaller classrooms, shorter class periods, mini terms, incentives, etc. and because of their efforts things have drastically improved.  They went from a 7% graduation rate to a 60% graduation rate in three years.

However, no matter how many improvements the school is making, Lori said the number one thing that contributes to students graduating is parental support.  Parental support!  She was basically shouting it from the roof tops that having parents at home who help their kids with homework, stay on top of their school work, come to parent teacher conferences, and participate in their child’s schooling in any way is the biggest and most positive thing that can effect a student’s success in school.  Not only does it affect their schooling but it affects their futures.  Students with parental support are more confident and can see a future for themselves.  Lori shared how her students that have the support at home excel and are motivated.  But she also shared many storied how students were so close or showed so much potential but because the support wasn't there they gave up or turned away.

So parents remember, the next time you are frustrated that your child doesn't want to do their homework or you feel that you don’t know how much good you are actually doing,  THEY NEED YOU!  Never give up on your kids. Ever!
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To participate as a home visitor volunteer to educate families, or for playgroup curriculum and ideas contact us.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Guest Blogger: Traveling With Kids

On my search for useful information, I have come across some really great moms who can offer a lot of fantastic advice. Here is our first installment of guest bloggers, featuring my sister, Stephanie Kreger. She is the mom of 2 of the cutest girls alive (I may be biased) and is expecting her 3 child (a boy!) in late November. She and her husband currently live in Findlay, Ohio, and she has some great advice on not only traveling with children, but how to make living far away from your family more doable. Here are some of her tips!

Having lived across the country from family for the last 5 years, we have picked up a few “tricks of the trade” when it comes to traveling with children. Whether by airplane or car, there are some definite helpful hints we have learned, some the hard way, that make the experience significantly easier and more enjoyable for everyone.

Our top 5 tips for traveling with children:
#1- Thankfully, our kids sleep wonderfully in the car. Because of this, we try to plan much of the road trip to take place while they sleep.  We drive during naptime, and my night-owl husband drives late into the night to make for a much less “eventful” trip.  The opposite has proved to be true for airplane travel, however.  With the excitement of being in an airplane, they rarely fall asleep and then we are left with cranky children in a confined, shared space.  In that case, I think it’s safe to say that the other passengers prefer our children to be well rested.

#2- A few days before our trip, we like to take the kids to our local Dollar Store and give them each $5 to pick out activities for the trip.  Dollar stores are great places for books, puzzles, glow sticks, and coloring books. They know that as soon as we leave the store, they won’t see them again until we are buckled in and on the road and that gives them something to look forward to.  While they may have these things sitting around at home, the novelty of something new and different keeps their attention for much longer and at Dollar Store prices, it’s completely worth it.

#3- For potty trained kids, when we stop to get gas, there is no option but to go potty. For obvious reasons, if they don’t, it makes for a very long trip full of stop after stop.  As my ever so eloquent husband says, “Pee when you can, not when you have to!”

#4- This seems so obvious, but never underestimate the value of a good quality portable DVD player! This has saved us so many times. In addition, an external battery is worth every penny and will give you hours more video time. We usually let each kid pick out a few movies and depending on the movies chosen, headphones. That is, unless you enjoy Disney Princess Sing Alongs!

#5- After getting really tired of digging for dropped crayons, I bought a small suctioning basket, like the one found here:

We put them on the windows next to their seats and it almost completely eliminated the missing crayon searches!  The first time we tried this, however, was during a 17 hour road trip in August.  I didn’t think to take the crayons out of the car when we arrived and were left with a colorfully waxy mess! If you are like me and marathon sprint out of the car as soon as it is parked, colored pencils might be a better route.

When we combine all of these ideas, the trip always goes so much more smoothly and 9 times out of 10 we are all still speaking when it’s over :)

Good luck and safe travels!

Monday, October 21, 2013

No More Biting!

One of the biggest challenges that face parents is biting.  Because two young children are involved (and the mix of different family members) the impact can be a struggle.  As a daycare provider and a mother I was faced with issue of what to do.  Whether your child is the biter or on the receiving end your attitude can make a difference of how children react.  

It is important to remember to NEVER bite the child back to show how much it hurts.  This will reinforce biting not stop the behavior; modeling unacceptable actions is not a good way or prevention. 
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For the child that is biting try and see when the biting occurs, is the child teething so biting can feel good on his/her gums, is the child angry, tired, or even hungry?  Sometimes recognizing why the child is biting gives you options of what to do.  
If the child is teething, providing teething toys can help.  
Give options to a child such as you can bite this chew toy but not Joe.  
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One quote that has helped me is “Come and early and stay late” with a child that is biting.  Staying close by to help stop the biting may be necessary as the child learns new ways to deal with their feelings.  One of my darling grandchildren started biting when he was playing with friends and family members.  His parents were embarrassed and struggling with how to get him to stop biting everyone in sight.  He had a big smile on his face and seemed to think biting was fun for everyone involved.  One night at a restaurant he and a new “friend” had been running around an empty room laughing and having great time.  Both sets of parents told the boys it was time to go; Christian, my grandson, ran with his mouth wide open ready to bite his new friend.  Luckily both grandmas were close by to prevent the injury.  My daughter in law was at her wits end of what to do.  Later that night she was wrestling with Christian when the fun was about over I noticed she gave him a couple of lite nibbles as a form of affection.  Christian had been giving his bites out the same way just much harder.  We explained the Christian that he had superpower bites that made people cry instead of making them happy.  Christian’s mom made a conscious effort to start kissing instead of the nibbling; also she gave Christian some other options such as high fives or hand bumps.  

Most children do grow out of biting, but if not those children may continue to become more aggressive.  It is important to look at the cause and then see what solutions will work.  Also remember my favorite phrase to “come early and stay late”.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Resource Spotlight: Circles Initiative

LogoThere are many people here in Utah County living in poverty.  And most people in poverty have a difficult time finding a way out.  There can be a lot of reasons for that, be it job loss, family situations, health problems, lack of education and many more.

Because of this difficulty Community Action sponsors a program called the Circles Initiative which helps give families in poverty tools that they can use to break the poverty cycle.

Circles has two parts of their program.  First, participants take a weekly clas,s for 12 weeks, where they are taught self-reliance, analytical thinking and problem solving skills.  After they complete the 12 week course participants are paired with an "Ally", who is an individual from a different economic class, to build friendships and help solve barriers that prevent someone from overcoming poverty.

Circles is a great opportunity to learn about the skills and resources necessary to overcome poverty and identify solutions to difficult situations.

For more information, or to find out if you qualify to participate in Circles, contact Jane Carlile at 801-691-5287 or Tisah Ockey at 801-691-5285.  Or visit their website.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Uplifting Families Parenting Conference

The First Lady of Utah, Jeanette Herbert, is bringing her annual conference to Utah County this month!  The Uplift Families Parenting Conference will be held on Saturday, October 26th at the Utah Valley Convention Center from 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm.  This will be a fantastic evening for those who are single, married, a parent or a grandparent! 

The conference will include international dinner and dessert stations among booths and exhibits, addresses by Governor and First Lady Herbert, inspirational presentations by Richard and Linda Eyre, Chad Lewis, Stephanie Nielsen, Carmen Rasmussen Herbert and other renowned experts on issues that families face.  The cost is $25.00 per couple of $15.00 for a single ticket.  Seating will be limited to 500.  The folks from Deseret Digital Media will be filming the presentations to go on the Uplift Families YouTube channel in 2014, so the attendees will literally become a studio audience.

 Leading up to this conference there will be a an Uplift Families Press Event at the Governor’s Mansion this Thursday October 10th at 3:00pm. Utah’s First Lady Jeanette Herbert will announce new “Uplift Families” title, mission and vision and talk about the Uplift Families Parenting Conference, upcoming YouTube Channel and new website features.

Don't miss out on this great opportunity to learn valuable parenting information! Click here to purchase your tickets for the conference now!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Resources Spotlight: KBYUTV and Women in Philanthropy

A Royal Hello from Prince Wednesday and a BIG THANK YOU to Women in Philanthropy of Utah County!

Thank You to Women in Philanthropy of Utah County for their generous support at an "In Her Shoes" luncheon they sponsored Wednesday at the KBYU Broadcasting Building.  All proceeds will go to buy books for our Ready to Learn class!   We partner with KBYU’s Ready to Learn class once a month at the UCHD for the Ready to Learn Class. Anyone can access the Ready to Learn Curriculum here.  

Diena Simmons shared with us how screen time- can be leveraged to help children learn to read.  She explained that when parents and caregivers are active participants in their child’s screen time, they can teach their children some great skills!  Diena also shared many of the great programs on the KBYU Eleven channel that promotes Every Day Learning in young children. 

Parents who are engaged in their children's activities make all the difference in children's learning!

Prince Wednesday is featured on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, a PBS Kids Show that airs weekdays and Sundays that airs on KBYU Eleven.   Check out the website for some fun interactive play for young kids!


Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Review: Grandfather and I by Helen E. Buckley & Jan Ormerod

This is a charming and poetic book about the time a grandfather spends with his grandson.  Written in the child's point of view, the book talks about the busy and fast paced world that he lives in.  However, with his grandfather the boy can take all the time he wants and spend quality time with him.  This book suggests the importance of spending time with family and letting children be children by learning and going on adventures.

Activity:  In the book the boy and and his grandfather go on walks to explore the earth.  Take your little one on a walk and let them play and explore.  Talk to them about what they are seeing and how things work (how trees grow, look at cloud shapes, etc.)  Let them experience the world first hand and let them take the time to learn for themselves about the things they are seeing.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Resource Spotlight: Care About Childcare

Are you looking for the best preschool for your child? Are you interested in starting your own preschool? Where do you turn for materials?  Here is a really great resource that will help you answer all of your questions!  

The former Childcare Resource and Referral Mountainland Region at Utah Valley University has changed it's name...

CAC @ UVU logo
It's now called Care About Childcare! Here are some details on Care About Childcare Utah from a previous post

"Care About Childcare at Utah Valley University assists parents, providers, and community partners by providing referrals, collaboration, and early childhood education and resources."

For Parents:
Connect to the best preschool 
Find materials to start your own preschool
Contact info: 
Phone: 801-863-8589
Email: childcare@uvu.edu
See website for more information. 

For Providers and Community Partners:

Resource Night
Training Classes and Programs

CAC Resource Nights are a child-free night to come and add to your curriculum ideas and materials. You will be able to make copies, laminate materials, use the die cut machine, and check out items from the Lending Library. Offered once a month on a week night or once a quarter on a Saturday morning. Registration is required.  Call Joanne with questions: 801-863-7453

Upcoming Resource Nights:
Wednesday, October 16th 4:30-7:30pm
Wednesday, November 20th 4:30-7:30pm

Care About Childcare website

Monday, September 23, 2013

Baby Bargains and Free Stuff

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Who doesn't love a good deal? Or better yet, a free deal? I know I do, and when it comes to babies and infants, the costs really start to add up. Here is a list of 10 of my favorite links to coupons, deals, and even free samples of some really great and frequently used products. 

1. Brad's Deals: From baby products, to toys and clothing. this website has some of the best deals around. 
2. I Crave Freebies: This website has tons of free items that you can both pick up at stores and send away for. 
3. Enfamil, Similac, and Gerber all offer free starter kits when you sign up for their programs.
4. Amazon Mom has a free 3 month trial, which offer 20% off diapers, family products and free two-day shipping.
5. Huggies, and Pampers offer coupons and rewards programs for purchasing their brands.
6. Johnson & Johnson and Luvs have great coupons available all the time.  
7. Here's a link for a free Avent bottle.
8. Everyday Family is a great website that has many resources, deals, and coupons available for all kinds of baby products. 
9. Magic Freebies has tons and tons of free product offers and coupons. 
10. Freeflys has not only links to free childcare products, but food, beauty and miscellaneous products as well.

You may look at this list and think "this looks like a lot of junk mail" but as you start to see the saving pile up and coupons rolling in, your "junk mail" may just start to look like dollar signs. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Book Review: One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss

This was one of my very favorite books as a kid. My cousin and I would read it over and over and each time, we'd make up new rhymes. Dr. Seuss teaches counting skills, rhyming skills, and teaches that all sorts of things come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  

After reading this book, see what things you can rhyme while driving in the car, or while doing dishes.  Also, practice counting with your child. Here is a link to many activities from earlymoments.com Click here: 

As a fun snack, make your own fish bowl!
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What you need: 
Blue colored Jell-O (berry blue or something similar)
Sweedish Fish

Basically, make the jell-o in clear containers and once it has set, have your kids count how many fish they can get in the fish bowl! 

Activity Source

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Baby Sign Language

Teaching your infant sign language may seem like a daunting task, but even a few simple signs can help alleviate some of the stress that comes with communication. With a few simple signs you can give your child a small sense of control over their environment and actions.  
Baby Sign Language
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Many parents start teaching their infants signs as soon as they can sit up and be fed by a spoon, or at the recommended 8 months. Infants and children can comprehend language far before they can use it vocally. Sign language is a great way to bridge the gap of the two areas and help better your communication with your child. 

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There are many resources available to help you start teaching your child baby sign language. Libraries often carry books and videos, and many videos and charts like this one can be found online. Find the signs that will work best for you and your child. 

Some hints and tricks to teaching and learning baby sign language:
1. Set realistic expectations. Some children will pick it up faster than others, but be consistent and the signs will come. Just remember that most children can't sign before 8 months of age. 
2.Keep signs simple. Don't dive right into complicated signs. Start with few signs that go along with routine activities like, eat, drink, all done, and please. 
3.Make it interactive. Hold your baby while you teach them new signs, help them form their hands in the right way and make it a fun and rewarding learning activity. Try to sign as often as you can in context. Encourage and recognize when a child uses the appropriate sign for something.
4. Be patient. Signing takes time. It is another language and can be frustrating if it doesn't come naturally or quickly. Stick with it and you will see the positive outcomes it can produce. 

Sign language is a great way to start early communication with your child, keep a positive attitude and the results might just surprise you.