Thursday, April 30, 2009

Homework

I'm going to hit a topic that is our families biggest challenge at the time.  Maybe this way I can think this through and maybe you all will have some great insight for me.
I really don't remember having homework in grade school until about 3rd or 4th grade.  It seems like the first homework I remember doing is studying for spelling tests.  I was not a great speller and as often as I read and practiced it didn't seem to help me.  Now I have a Kindergartener and a 2nd grader who has homework everyday.  A couple months ago there was an article in the Parenting magazine about how kids are getting too much homework.  I'm not saying they do or don't but yes kids are getting homework and as parents how can we help not make this such a labor for them?  Here are somethings I have tried that seem to help and work with my kids.  I don't do all of these everyday.  I pick and choose according to what my kids need that day.
-After school snacks are given after they change into play clothes and they have done half of their homework.
-They get one M&M after a complete assignment
-Give them a little down time, (lately we have ran to the park and shot a few soccer goals) then get started into homework
-After school privledges like TV, computer games, and playing with friends are after homework is complete (this includes soccer games, practices, and scouts if possible)
-Emphasis how important homework is
-Have Dad correct some of the homework so he gets involved
-Do a verbal shout out after they get done with their homework (I do a dance and sing for them-they think it's pretty funny)
Honestly getting homework done at our house can be a big pain.  My son's friends b-day party was just last week and we prepped him that whole morning by telling him he needed to get done with homework before the party so he could play with his friends.  We even suggested he bring a pencil in his backpack so he could start it on the way home.  Well he really wanted to test us and he didn't do it for the full hour he had before the party started.  So we said he could do his homework in the car on the way to the party, he still didn't get it done.  His friends from school all got their homework done before the party and so we knew he could get it done.  Well he sat at the table of Chuckie Cheeze for a full hour doing his homework while his friends played.  He got his homework done and still got to play for the last 1/2 hour with his 25 tokens.  I really feel like when you tell your kids something, you really need to stand by it.  These do need to be expectations that can be upheld of course.  
Any other homework helps or advise would be grately appreciated!
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Take a minute and answer the poll

I would like an idea of how often you would like new posts.  Would you like to get some parenting idea everyday or would you rather have some time to digest the information.  Daily would be too much information?  The poll is on the top right of my blog.  Check it out!  I would love your thoughts and feedback on this so visit my blog and make your thoughts be known.  Thanks a bunch!  Vote once and do it before May 1st.  I will then tally the votes.  Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Music Therapy at Home

I am a music therapist.  If your like most people, you have rarely heard of music therapy.  Yes you really can get a bacholers and a master in music therapy and yes there are jobs for music therapists. Right now I use music therapy in my home.  Someday I will go back to working in the field but for now I enjoy using it to help teach my children.  

I decided to write this post because when I got my baby from her nap, I sang, "Is Abigail awake in here? is Abigail awake in here, Abigail's awake, my bigger girls awake, Abigail's awake in here."  As soon as I started singing her song, she starts kicking, smiling and squealing with delight. It happens every nap time and it is so fun-for both of us.  I thought, "I have got to share this sometime, so hear goes".

This is one of the songs I use throughout the day to set the stage for events and create that predictable, structured environment children thrive on.  Another favorite in our home is our nap time "It's time to take a little nap (just a simple song I made up)" and our good night song, "Tender Shepherd" (song from Peter Pan).  I had a friend who sang, "I am a child of God" every night to her children.  If she forgot, they reminded her.  What a great way to set the stage for bed and also remind her children that they have a loving heavenly father watching over them.   

What makes music so powerful?

I have seen so many people including myself who have been influenced for good through music.   I’m sure you have many experiences that have happened that were amplified because of music.  If you think about watching a movie without any music.  The emotion of the story is better set to music then anything else.  Music catches our attention and can tug at our hearts.  Because of this great power it has over us we need to be so careful about the music that we listen to, and what our children are exposed to. 

I know for me music speaks directly to my spirit.  Does anyone else feel this way?  I have had more spiritual experiences with music then with anything else. Often times I am stubborn and have a hard time seeing a new way, but while I am singing a lot of times my heart will soften and I am open to change and teaching.

 How can I use music in my home to help encourage a positive loving environment?  Here is a few ways I have use music in my home:

o       Play good music in the home.

o       Notice the way the music is affecting the atmosphere in your home-change it, if needed.

o       Sing to your children-they love to hear your voice (even if you don't think you are a singer!)

o       Use music while you are traveling in the car.  This helps pass time!

o       Encourage your children to study music if there is a desire.

o       If your children has problems sleeping-use calm quiet music to help entrain sleeping

o       Use music to reinforce school subjects.  Just like learning the ABC song you can make others up to help with math and other subjects.

o       Music can help you relax-use it for yourself in stressful times.

o       Have fun making music together, even with a homemade drum set of pots and pans

o       Play music in your home to help set the mood for the activities you are engaged in (like cleaning, or settling down for naps)

o       Have a song to sing for changing diapers, naps, going to bed, bath time, eating, etc.  Your children will learn to recognize these and it will help with the structure of their day. 

o       If you want your children to study music, let them catch you practicing your instrument as well.  Also have regular recitals to boast their performance experience and confidence.  We have Sunday recitals.  Sometimes it's just our immediate family and other times we invite friends or family to join us.

o       Listen to music when you are lonely-this well help lift your spirits

o       Get familiar with NPR’s and KUED musical broadcasts and find your favorite programs.  You can hear some excellent programming and have basically a free front row seats to some amazing artists. I love the Celtic Woman, Prairie Home Companion, and E-town.

This list could go on and on.  These are only a few of the ways we can use music.  Have you noticed how music influences your kids?  How do you use music in your home?  I would love to hear your ideas or ways you have used music to teach or influence your children for the better.   Happy Singing!


For more info on Music Therapy you can visit:  AMTA website

  

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Strong Willed Child

Dr. James Dobson wrote a book called the New Strong-willed child.  I was intrigued by the title because I have one child who is very strong-willed.  Well I wanted a taste of it so I just read the workbook.  Now I need to get the full book.  Just in the workbook I learned a lot.  There was some gems of wisdom in here for parents who are struggling with their children who want to live by their own rules.  
Who's in charge at your house?  Most children respect their teachers, scout leaders, a bus driver and yes their parents if they have the courage to take charge.  It seems that their are many parents who would rather be their child's friend then their parent.  I think it's important to love, respect and support your children but doesn't mean you will be your child's best friend. 
Dr. Dobson says in this book. "Proper, immediate response to willful defiance during childhood is required, for that rebellion can plant the seeds of future personal disaster.  The weed that grows from it may become a tangled briar patch during the troubled days of adolescence."  pg 2
I really liked this workbook because of the real life examples he gives and great ideas to remedy the problem.  He also asks thought provoking questions after each chapter The following are some questions he asked on a variety of topics.
When have you felt guilt, self-condemnation, or self-doubt in your parenting?
Why do many parents fear being firm with their children?
What can parents do proactively to defuse competition between children? Conversely, how might parents make matters worse?
When have you found it easier to reward the little rebel in your family because you feared the fuss he or she would raise?  How did this make your other children feel?

The chapter I thought I would focus on is "Shaping the Will" (Chapter 3).  
"Parents must begin shaping the will of the particularly aggressive child very early in life.  A child who behaves in ways that are disrespectful or harmful to himself or others often has a hidden motive.  Whether he recognizes it or not, he is usually seeking to verify the existence and stability of the boundaries"  There is a difference, however, between crushing the will of a child and teaching the child to rein it in for his or her own good.   pg 37  
He gives six principles to help parents shape the will of a child.
1.  Begin teaching respect for authority when children are very young.  
He gave the example of a pediatrician who said a mother of a six-month old baby who thought her baby had a fever.  The doctor replied, "did you take his temperature?"  "No" she said, "He won't let me insert the thermometer."  There is trouble ahead for this shaky mother.  There is even more danger for her son in the days ahead.  he will quickly sense her insecurity and step into the power vacuum she has created.  For there, it will be a wild ride all the way through adolescence." pg 39
Recently in General Conference I was picked with this statement by Maragaret S. Lifferth "My stake president has been a dear friend for over 30 years, and as friends, we have always called each other by our first names. But because he serves in a calling of priesthood leadership—in public and certainly in a Church setting—I make a conscious effort to refer to him as President Porter. Teaching our children and youth that it is appropriate to address our leaders as president, bishop, brother, and sister encourages respect and reverence. It also teaches the truth that leaders are called of God and have been given sacred responsibilities."  
Because of this reminder I am going to emphasising this with my kids to call their primary teachers and friends parents by their last name.  I think I have the hardest time with this because I always have the children call me by my first name.  So I'm going to try to introduce my self with my last name now.  This I think really helps the respect their elders and those who are "in charge."  
2.  Define the boundaries before they are enforced.
Before children are to be held accountable for a rule they need to know them.  Have a family meeting.  We like to reinforce family rules on Family Home Evening Night.  
3.  Distinguish between willful defiance and childish irresponsibility
Examples of childish irresponsibility-milk spilling because he is goofing around at the table, forgets to bring his bike in before it rains.  Accidents happen, patience and tolerance are in order. Mom or Dad might want to have the child help cleanup or even work to pay for the loss.  Sometimes it's best to simply ignore these kinds of incidents.  Willful defiance of parental authority is far different.  This occurs when a child shouts, "I will not!" or "You shut up!" or "You can't make me."  These behaviors represent a willful, haughty spirit and a determination to disobey.  In these cases a mild and appropriate spanking is the discipline of choice for a hot-tempered child between twenty months and ten years of age. pg 40
4.  Reassure and teach after the confrontation is over.
After a child has been disciplined, the child needs time to be loved and reassured.  These are the moments a child needs you to express your love for him and why you were disciplining him.  Christian families may want to pray with your child.  Asking for help and forgiveness.  pg 41
5.  Avoid impossible demands.
Never punish the child for wetting the bed involuntarily, not becoming potty trained by one year of age, or doing poorly in school when he or she is incapable of academic success.  Be reasonable in what you're asking.  pg 41
6.  Let love be your guide!
If you have a strong willed child (Dr Dobson's research showed that there are nearly three times as many strong-willed kids as those who are compliant) I would recommend reading this.  

Monday, April 6, 2009

Babywise- my first parenting guide

When I was pregnant with my first baby, my sister-in-law gave me a book called, On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo.  I have been so grateful for this book and for the help it gave me!  I am really grateful I had such a sister-in-law who would care enough to give it to me.  Thank you!   I would have done things so much differently.  My cousin said there is a great blog that talks about all of these books.  See my blog list for the link.  (If you have found other great parenting blogs please share)  There is several books in the series: Babywise, Babywise II, Childwise.  I read the other books but didn't agree with a lot of the discipline ideas.  But for the first book, I re-read this book so many times, mine is falling apart.  I highly recommend it to anyone who is having a baby for the first or 10th time.  I will discuss more about why I love this book in later posts.  
I would like to first discuss what I feel should be the first priority of parenting.  
Marriage. 
Reading the first chapter of Babywise, I knew this was the book for me.  It just made so much sense.  Chapter One is called "Your Baby needs a Family".   A few statements I love...  "The husband-wife union is not just a good first step towards child-rearing.  It is a necessary one.  The greatest overall influence you will have on your children will not come in your role as an individual parent, but in your joint role as husband and wife.  Great marriages produce great parents."  pg 19-20.  When your children know that you and your husband are a team, security felt within your child.  The book gives 5 ideas to help not make your life child-centered.  1.  Life doesn't stop once you have a baby 2.  Date your spouse 3.  Continue those loving gestures you enjoyed before the baby came along 4. Invite some friends over for food and fellowship 5. At the end of the day, spend 15 min. sitting with your spouse discussing the day's events (with your children awake).  pg 26-27
I like these ideas.  We have tried to do the 15 min sitting but we have adjusted this to dinner time and we all share things with each other as a family.  
Some of the things my husband and I do to keep our marriage strong and helps our children know we love each other...  1.  We make an effort to not talk bad or degrade our spouse in front of our children or friends.  Even joking comments can be very harmful.  2. We sit next to each other in church and have our children on the sides of us and not in between.  3. We try to go on a date with each other weekly, I just need to have some fun with him and remind me why I married him.  4. If our spouse makes a decision, we back each other up.  If we disagree talk to them about it in private. 5. When we are talking together our children know they need to wait and not interrupt us.   6. Pray for each other and with each other for strength.
"To excel in parenting, protect your marriage." pg 27  Please share your ideas, through comments, that has helped you and your spouse keep your marriage a priority.    Comments were doing something funky so I think I fixed it.  

Friday, April 3, 2009

Why create this blog?

Last week I was in search of a blog about raising children.  Something I could get some info on lots of different topics.  I couldn't see anything that struck me.  So I decided I would start my own.  If only just for myself.  Most of my close friends know that I read more books about children and parenting then I do novels.  I really like to get different views and ideas.  I find when I'm in a parenting pickle I often remember something I've read or heard and it will help me.  So I think the more I keep reading I'm just adding to this reservoir of knowledge and inspiration.  I'm hoping with this blog I can share things as I learn and maybe someone else will be helped as well.  You may totally disagree with something I've tried.  I think that's great, I would love to see what works for you.  No child is the same, so share what works for you.  I hope this can be a place we can learn together how to be better parents.  Children are worth it was something I thought of today because I think we could go the easy out and be permissive parents who let their children get away with a lot.  But is that the best way that will teach them and guide them to be successful adults?  I don't think so.  Parenting can be down right exhausting but I say Children are worth the effort!
My goal is to do one post a week on a different parenting issue.  I may find a chapter in a book I'm reading and discuss that.  If you have something you would love to hear about.  Let it be made known and I'll see what I can do.