Saturday, March 26, 2011

To play or not to play

Parents are constantly challenging their children to play sports. Many dads want their sons to follow in their footsteps of football greatness. Some dads want their children to be the superstar they never were. Many moms feel their children could get seriously hurt playing any type of contact sports.
But, many other moms feel that playing sports with friends builds more than just good friendships. “Healthy minds, muscles and habits form while having fun!”

The seven reasons listed below demonstrate what the experts say about the benefits of organized sports for school-aged children and what the parents of such children think.
• The most important benefit of playing sports is exercise. The World Health Organization agrees that building stronger minds and bodies helps maintain regular exercise habits throughout life. Playing sports develops a healthy lifestyle and lifelong commitment to physical activity. Regular physical activity fights obesity. Sherrie, mom of a teenage son says: “Sports help teach teamwork, respect, and hopefully does not promote growing obesity which has more ailments associated with it than sports related injuries.
• Playing sports gives children the opportunity to meet and make new friends. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP), interacting with new friends builds social skills necessary to work as a team (AAP, 2001) Making friends is a healthy, necessary part of childhood. Stacey, mom of 3, said all her children played sports and thrived on it. It taught them a sense of belonging.
• Learning to follow and remember rules of the game help children develop lifelong problem solving skills. Learning new skills and following directions properly increase self-esteem. Parents say that the coaches’ attitude can positively affect the child’s attitude. Coaches turn out to be important role models for many children.
• The main reason parents encourage sports participation is that playing is just plain fun. Running around with teammates releases endorphins/adrenalin which gives anyone a euphoric feeling. Nicole, mom of 4, agrees that “not only do the children enjoy it, it's such a joy to watch them play.”
• Playing sports improves motor skills, balance and coordination. Parents need to decide with their pediatrician if their child is ready for sports. AAP states that when the demands of a sport exceed a child’s cognitive and physical development, the child may develop feelings of failure and frustration. Basic motor skills such as throwing, catching and hitting a ball do not develop sooner simply as a result of introducing them to children at an earlier age. (2001)
• Important life skills learned in sports prepare children for the future. Seefeldt and Ewing reports that sports participation enables children to make transition from childhood to adulthood. Coaches encourage young athletes’ responsibility, independence, respect and leadership so that they are better prepared for everyday life. (1996)
• Children learn the value of teamwork when they play organized sports. They learn how to work together to achieve a goal. WHO, (World Health Organization) argues that if children are pushed too hard, instead of learning team spirit, they will come away with feelings of failure and frustration. Parents say that learning teamwork during sports teaches them good sportsmanship. It is learning not to be a sore loser as well as learning how to be a gracious winner.

Participation in organized sports provides an opportunity for children to increase their physical activity, develop physical and social skills. However, WHO reports that when the demands and expectations of organized sports exceed the maturation and readiness of participation, the positive aspects of participation can be negated. Your child’s pediatrician can help decide when and what type of sports is right for your child. Finding the balance between safety and fun is key. Matt, dad of two girls proclaims: “Absolutely let them play! Broken bones heal.”

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Waiting for Spring

Oh spring, where have you gone?

Please bless us with blossoms abundant.

I'm waiting patiently for the fragrant flowers and mucky mud that spring brings about.

What are you doing while waiting for spring to show it's wonderful self?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Six Ways to reduce the piles of Homework papers

Does your child come home on Friday with half a ream of paper in his backpack? So many worksheets, projects, artsy pages, spelling test, math homework, etc. I have seven ideas on how to cut down on the piles of paper. After all, aren't piles of paper hoovering in tall towers a fire hazard?

1: Have your child pick one paper they are most proud of each week to keep in a binder. That way, you can look back and compare the new papers with the oldest papers and see how far they have improved.
2. Use the creative, artsy papers for backgrounds in scrapbooks or photo matting.
3. Cut up the colored announcement papers for scrap paper.
4. Cut up the colored announcement papers and make flash cards with them.
5. Use the most creative pieces as wall art or refrigerator art.
6. Feed the fireplace or wood stove. Of course, if it's summer, have a bonfire and roast marshmallows over all those fun memories.

Friday, March 18, 2011

It's OK to let your kids go to school with 4 shades of green on!

It just kills me when my son wants to wear his red t-shirt, green sweat pants with an orange hoodie. I almost can't let him walk out the door. But, then I remember that he's just showing his new independent side and let him go. I used to convince him to wear matching clothes pretty easily when he was 6. He loved Sponge Bob and Sonic the Hedgehog, so I would either bribe him with a new toy or suggest clothes with these characters. It all started when I asked him to go pick out some pajamas to wear at bedtime. He came back with the first thing he could find in the drawer. It didn't matter what color it was, as long as it was comfortable. Of course, the more crazy he looked, the more I would comment on his color choices. So, I created a monster. Now he does it just to get me going.

When he picks out his school clothes, he tells me that this friend wears all purple to school and he wants to do that too. When I ask him if he will change his shirt or pants due to his fashion failure, he says, "I'm OK Mommy, I like this."

Now, my husband doesn't let him leave the house wearing all one color. Yesterday was St Patrick's Day and I was instructed to hide the green sweat pants so he couldn't wear them with his green shirt and hoodie. My son actually didn't even mention the green sweat pants, he just dressed in what I had put out for him and went to the bus stop.

There are two important things to remember when this dressing independence starts. One thing is that, when you look at all the other kids streaming through the halls of school, they are all dressed just as crazy as your kid. And when they want to wear all one color, remember that it has a great slimming effect.

Friday, March 11, 2011

More ideas to fight boredom during school vacation

So far we have covered the fun parts of school vacation:


Get Outside!

and Educational Games

Today I must ramble on the things that are lower on the "fun scale" for school vacation activities. You probably think I will mention clean their bedroom, catch up on chores or walk the dog. But I have more creative ways to get those things done without you child thinking of it as a chore. I have tried this at home, so feel free to do the same.
Letting the carpet breathe (aka, cleaning your room) is a fun activity my son and I do to see if we can clean up the bedroom floor, organize his toys and give away toys he no longer uses. We have a race, I clean my bedroom, he cleans his and we see which floor is the cleanest first. Granted, he has a top bunk where he stores all his stuffed animals, but the rest of the toys, legos, Ben 10 action figures, Star Wars costumes and clothes, must be put on shelves in an orderly fashion. If he hasn't used a certain toys or group of toys, we give it to someone who does or will use it. When my husband gets home, he makes a big deal about how he is in the wrong room, where did the carpet come from, etc. Justin barely realizes he just cleaned his room.

Another activity lower on the fun scale (for some children) is keeping up on school skills. Justin loves "playing school" so we get out books, make up quizzes, word searches and mazes for each other, and even do a few flashcards. If we come to a question that I can't answer, we Google it! It's amazing the facts and figures that an 8-year old will remember when he learns it his way!

Does anyone do other activities (chores but done by another name) during vacation?
Remember that kids are like sponges, they soak it all up!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Son, can you show Grammie how to use the laptop?

Technology surrounds us and our children everyday. My 8 year-old son has been extremely well rounded in today's modern technologies. He has used computer with a mouse, a laptop with the touch pad, Nintendo DSi, Wii gaming system, and is the only one who can figure out how to use the remotes for the new TV and Blu Ray DVD player!

Growing up, we spent every free minute outside playing. We gotten threatened and grounded if we didn't come in for supper at the appointed time. Today, kids spend their free time with Computer Games, TV, on marathon gaming usage.

When my son was 4 or 5, my Mom came down and wanted to look something up on my laptop. She couldn't figure out how to make the touch pad do what she wanted. I was busy with something, so I sent her grandson over to show her the ropes. He patiently explained and demonstrated how the master the touch pad.

By the way, if you need assistance with computer dilemmas and my son isn't around to help, my sister, AKA, Ask the Computer Lady, can help.

As a parent, how much time is too much "screen" time? Do you have limits in your house? We are a very wired family. We each have our own computer, smart phones (except Justin), iPods, and 3 TVs in the house. We recently created an AOL kids email account for Justin. He is so proud of it. He sends me sweet messages while I am working. I can send him messages while he is in school and he looks forward to reading them when he gets home. I even call him and have him email me his spelling words that I ask him over the phone. (Whatever makes the spelling words more fun!)

I grew up playing outdoors, using my imagination for everything, I worried that my son would be missing out with all the technology that takes the place of running around outside. I have not had problems with Justin lacking imagination. He actually plays games that he is able to create levels on. He uses creative websites like He even shows Grammie how to use those fun websites!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I analyzed a Top Parenting Blog

I chose to find a parenting blog to analyze, even though I blog about writing also. There were many blogs written by writers of children’s books, but their blogs were not where near as popular.

Parenting woes, journeys, stories all with a punch of humor that makes the reader come back for more. They post every day, sometimes twice a day or sometimes twice a week. The topics are random and told mostly in first person. the posts are short and sassy and fun! The topics that generate the most conversation are the ones that engage the readers and close with a question that is begging for an answer. Most of these posts are medical, pregnancy problems, child allergy crisis, etc. These posts connect with the readers due to their humor and down-to-earth style.

The writer is asking most of the questions, the readers seem to answer them. The readers are only complaining about what the writer had already complained about. Misery loves company!

I noticed that Parenting Post uses Twitter and Facebook.
The design is light and airy and easy to navigate. The writers are listed on the right side bar along with advertisements for the print magazine. I do not appreciate the top header of the page with ads for parenting products.
The only option for readers to subscribe is via RSS Feeds. You can also sign up for a free newsletter which I’m sure will feature some useful info but more advertisements than you’d want.

Because it is a parenting blog, any product that parents use is advertised on the blog. Digital thermometers, ovulation kits and fever reducers were the 3 I noticed while surveying the blog.

The Parenting Post also promotes all the other areas that are covered in the print Parenting Magazine, such as, pregnancy, infant, baby, toddler, mom, recipes, activities, community, etc.

Overall, the blog was fun and edgy and educational. Just the type of place that keeps readers coming back for more.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

What to do on school vacation week? Get Outside!

Get outside! No matter what the weather, being outside frees your body, mind and spirit of all the indoor dust bunnies that reside in your brain, lungs and pockets.

Up here in the most snow in Jan and Feb since the 80's, we have too much snow. But, instead of letting that get us down, we play up, up, up on the tallest bank of snow. My border collie loves to climb the snow mountains with us.

We make forts, have snowball fights, slide down on just our snow pants and then slide down on the floppy plastic sled. I know, you think it sounds dangerous to let my 8 year-old to climb 15 foot snowbanks, but it increases his self esteem and his agility when he makes it to the top and back down without any help or any injuries.

Being the ever-worrying mother, I confess, I did make him wear his helmet the first few times he climbed the banks.

One downside to so much snow in NH is that the swing sets and rock wall and slides are buried. Not much chance of getting in any swinging for a few more months.

Just remember to dress warm, wear snow pants, and don't forget the hot cocoa when you're done.

Happy Snowy fun days!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What to do on school vacation? Play Games!

I don't know about your children, but after the first few hours of school vacation, "I'm bored" starts pouring out of their mouths! After constant reminders about the upcoming play dates, new toys never opened and cleaning your room, I give in to our favorite pastime: Games! Kids love playing games. I'm thinking we don't want those brains to lose any fuel while they are on vacation, so I stick with educational games that are so fun, kids don't realize they're learning anything.

Here are my top 7 favorite fun educational games for kids ages 6 to 10:

1. Scrabble Slam: Skills practiced: spelling, reading, reasoning, speed. This is our new favorite game. Not only do kids learn how to spell many 4-letter words, you can use the cards to practice spelling words during the week!

2. Bananagrams: Skills practiced: Spelling, logic, independent thinking. Bananagrams is like traditional Scrabble without the board. Like Scrabble Slam, we use the tiles to help practice spelling words. Great for those visual learners!

3. 20 Questions for kids: Skills practiced: Reading, geography, reasoning, math. Can you guess a person, place or thing in less than 20 questions? My son shocks me with the things he retains from school that may be on one of the cards.

4. Imaginiff: Skills practiced: Reading, comprehension, vocabulary, confidence. This is a family get-together favorite. Where else can you imagine your mother being a VW, designer purse or Saint Bernard dog?

5. Blockus: A fun strategy game that promotes healthy levels of thinking and reasoning. A plus to this game, it can be played solo or with an imaginary friend.

6. Apples to Apples: Skills practiced: reading, comprehension, vocabulary, independent thinking. Players are dealt five red apple cards and try to make the closest match possible to a word on the judge's green apple card. In Apples to Apples Junior, if you're holding a quintet consisting of, for example, Winnie the Pooh, Farms, Swimming, Bumble Bees, and The First Day of School, you play one of the five to match Loud. If the judge selects your card as the best match, you keep the green apple card; if you win four you're king of the orchard. One reason I listed it as my sixth choice, it requires 4 players. Of course, my son has no problem using 1 or 2 of his imaginary friends as fill ins.

7. Jumpstart: Skills practiced: computer skills, reasoning, math, reading, puzzle solving. is a fun, safe way for kids to learn many computer skills from typing, math games, finishing challenges, following through on many taks. I put this computer/online game as the seventh favorite as it tends to take up too much computer/screen time.

Don't forget to let their imagination take them away. My son can use a checker board, dice and colored marbles and create his own games in minutes. He used to change the rules to make sure he won, but now he writes them down so we all know how to play Bumpers, or whatever his new game creation is for today.

What games do your children love to play? Do they create their own games too?

Happy Playing.
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