4 Life Lessons Every Grandparent Should Teach Their Grandkids

These core values give kids a great foundation for living a successful life

By Jennifer Kelly Geddess

Setting a good example for your grandchildren may seem like a no-brainer, but grandparents are uniquely positioned to teach some real life skills.

“Often grandparents can spend more quiet time with grandkids than parents, so this is a great opportunity to pass along a little wisdom,” suggests Karen Wrolson, M.S., a life coach and founder of Excite Ed!, an educational and motivational consultancy. Sitting, talking and really listening to your grandchildren as you share life lessons can make a big difference in how they live their lives—and often they’ll listen to you when they won’t listen to their parents. Four lessons you should teach…>>

Lesson #1: Life isn’t always easy

What it teaches: Empathy. Tuning in to another person’s perspective is at the heart of empathy—and when taught correctly it might prevent future bullying.

How to begin: Doing a good turn for others is a classic way to explain empathy and also make a difference in your community. “Set up a regular volunteer activity so your grandchild can learn about people in need and see that he has the ability to change someone’s life for the better,” says Wrolson. Raking a neighbor’s leaves every week, helping to build a wheelchair ramp at a church or packing care bags for women and kids in a homeless shelter are just a few ways to start. As you work, share a time when you were in need of help or understanding. Your hard-earned experience on the receiving end of empathy makes the lesson real to your grandkids.

Lesson #2: Be thankful for everything

What it teaches: Gratitude. It’s more than just saying ‘thanks’ when someone hands you something. Strive to teach kids to appreciate all they have.

How to begin: “Have your grandchild thank people fully, going beyond a simple ‘thanks’, and express why they like the gift or how they’ll use it,” says Wrolson. Make a greater impact by reviving the ancient art of the thank-you note—still an important skill in the digital age—and help her to pen one. You could also make a point of expressing gratitude when you’re together, even for the smallest pleasures (green lights on the road, beautiful sunshine, a smile at the grocery store).

Lesson #3: Treat others as you would want to be treated

What it teaches: Respect. It’s admiration and kindness rolled into one, and a little bit goes a long way. It’s also a cool song (play it and dance together!).

How to begin: Talk about respecting everyone, including teachers, cashiers, store clerks, and then model it for your grandchild, insists Wrolson.

Respect means listening carefully when someone speaks, looking that person in the eye and extending common courtesy (holding the door, offering a seat). It also covers personal property, so remind your grandchild to pick up toys so others won’t trip and fall and to put the sweatshirt she borrowed from her brother in his dresser, rather than leave it on the floor. This behavior can sometimes be forgotten from generation to generation so bring it back when you’re together.

Because you’ve spent a longer life learning how to deal with people, you can demonstrate the advantages that come with showing respect. And whatever you do, curb your own comments and generalizations (‘cops are never where you need them’ or ‘kids today don’t understand anything’). These remarks label groups unfairly.

Lesson #4: Lying won’t get you anywhere

What it teaches: Honesty. Telling the truth, even when it’s unpopular, is the hardest lesson of all.

How to begin: Everyone’s lied and regretted it so bring up a misgiving or two from your past and explain how you would have done things differently if you’d known better. Of course it’s tempting to fib here and there, but even the littlest of kids can detect an untruth. Avoiding a scary topic or whitewashing for safety reasons is bound to happen, though much of the time honesty can and should rule the roost.

Teach truthfulness by sticking to your word. Kids will remember if you don’t do what you promised (i.e., take them to the park after nap time) and might view you as dishonest. Also explain why honesty is important and what can happen to trust if a child gets caught in a lie. The other side of this lesson is to praise your grandkid when he admits to doing something he shouldn’t have. Covering up a mistake or bad behavior is a natural tendency, so be sure to let him know how proud you are that he came to you with the truth.

 

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Take a Look, It’s in a Book

Shenanigan Books Blog

 

From 1983 to 2009 actor LeVar Burton produced and narrated PBS’s popular TV show, Reading Rainbow.

Diehard reading advocates were skeptical at first … because it was, after all,  collaborating with the enemy –TV. Each episode took children on a field trip connecting their adventure with the stories in the books featured. The show’s cool music, craft projects and adventures tricked kids who just wanted to watch television, into reading a book. The show’s popularity grew and its 26-year run was the third longest in PBS history.

When the show ended in 2009, LeVar and his friend, producer Mark Wolfe, began hatching a plan to make Reading Rainbow cool again.  This time, the medium wasn’t a big silver screen with dials and buttons, but the new, digital variety that fit in your lap and worked by touch.  Their creation combined the classic story and field trip elements of the…

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Creating Innovators: Why America’s Education System Is Obsolete

Reblogged From: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericaswallow/2012/04/25/creating-innovators/

America’s last competitive advantage — its ability to innovate — is at risk as a result of the country’s lackluster education system, according to research by Harvard Innovation Education Fellow Tony Wagner.

Taking the stage at Skillshare’s Penny Conference, Wagner pointed out the skills it takes to become an innovator, the downfalls of America’s current education system, and how parents, teachers, mentors, and employers can band together to create innovators.

“Today knowledge is ubiquitous, constantly changing, growing exponentially… Today knowledge is free. It’s like air, it’s like water. It’s become a commodity… There’s no competitive advantage today in knowing more than the person next to you. The world doesn’t care what you know. What the world cares about is what you can do with what you know.”

Knowledge that children are encouraged to soak up in American schools — the memorization of planets, state capitals, the Periodic Table of Elements — can only take students so far. But “skill and will” determine a child’s ability to think outside of the box, he says.

Over two year of research involving interviews with executives, college teachers, community leaders, and recent graduates, Wagner defined the skills needed for Americans to stay competitive in an increasingly globalized workforce. As lined out in his book, “The Global Achievement Gap,” that set of core competencies that every student must master before the end of high school is:

– Critical thinking and problem solving (the ability to ask the right questions)

–  Collaboration across networks and leading by influence

– Agility and adaptability

– Initiative and entrepreneurialism

– Accessing and analyzing information

– Effective written and oral communication

– Curiosity and imagination

For his latest book, “Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change The World,” Wagner has extended his studies to address the problem of how we teach students these skills. He has come to the conclusion that our country’s economic problems are based in its education system.

“We’ve created an economy based on people spending money they do not have to buy things they may not need, threatening the planet in the process,” he says. “We have to transition from a consumer-driven economy to an innovation-driven economy.”

In an effort to discern teaching and parenting patterns, Wagner interviewed innovators in their 20s, followed by interviews with their parents and the influential teachers and mentors in the students’ lives. He found stunning similarities between the teaching styles and goals he encountered with these influential teachers at all levels of education and concludes, “The culture of schooling as we all know it is radically at odds with the culture of learning that produces innovators.” He identified five ways in which America’s education system is stunting innovation:

1. Individual achievement is the focus: Students spend a bulk of their time focusing on improving their GPAs — school is a competition among peers. “But innovation is a team sport,” says Wagner. “Yes, it requires some solitude and reflection, but fundamentally problems are too complex to innovate or solve by oneself.”

2. Specialization is celebrated and rewarded:High school curriculum is structured using Carnegie units, a system that is 125 years old, says Wagner. He says the director of talent at Google once told him, “If there’s one thing that educators need to understand, it’s that you can neither understand nor solve problems within the context and bright lines of subject content.” Wagner declares, “Learning to be an innovator is about learning to cross disciplinary boundaries and exploring problems and their solutions from multiple perspectives.”

3. Risk aversion is the norm: “We penalize mistakes,” says Wagner. “The whole challenge in schooling is to figure out what the teacher wants. And the teachers have to figure out what the superintendent wants or the state wants. It’s a compliance-driven, risk-averse culture.” Innovation, on the other hand, is grounded in taking risks and learning via trial and error. Educators could take a note from design firm IDEO with its mantra of “Fail early, fail often,” says Wagner. And at Stanford’s Institute of Design, he says they are considering ideas like, “We’re thinking F is the new A.” Without failure, there is no innovation.

4. Learning is profoundly passive: For 12 to 16 years, we learn to consume information while in school, says Wagner. He suspects that our schooling culture has actually turned us into the “good little consumers” that we are. Innovative learning cultures teach about creating, not consuming, he says.

5. Extrinsic incentives drive learning: “Carrots and sticks, As and Fs,” Wagner remarks. Young innovators are intrinsically motivated, he says. They aren’t interested in grading scales and petty reward systems. Parents and teachers can encourage innovative thinking by nurturing the curiosity and inquisitiveness of young people, Wagner says. As he describes it, it’s a pattern of “play to passion to purpose.” Parents of innovators encouraged their children to play in more exploratory ways, he says. “Fewer toys, more toys without batteries, more unstructured time in their day.” Those children grow up to find passions, not just academic achievement, he says. “And that passion matures to a profound sense of purpose. Every young person I interviewed wants to make a difference in the world, put a ding in the universe.”

“”We have to transition to an innovation-driven culture, an innovation-driven society,” says Wagner. “A consumer society is bankrupt — it’s not coming back. To do that, we’re going to have to work with young people — as parents, as teachers, as mentors, and as employers — in very different ways. They want to, you want to become innovators. And we as a country need the capacity to solve more different kinds of problems in more ways. It requires us to have a very different vision of education, of teaching and learning for the 21st century. It requires us to have a sense of urgency about the problem that needs to be solved.”

Wagner is not suggesting we change a few processes and update a few manuals. He says, “The system has become obsolete. It needs reinventing, not reforming.”

How to Raise Happy, Self-Confident Children

The world can be a stressful place, but it doesn’t have to affect you and your family. Here are some of the best ways to raise happy children who will be ready to take on the world with a smile on their face If you want to be a successful parent, you need to take time to fully understand what your children need in order to be self-confident, happy, and healthy. Here some tips that can help you be that successful parent ~

Make Your Child a Priority

Some parents show their children how much they love and value them by working hard and providing for their families. This is a wonderful thing to do, but children don’t always realize that it is for them. The most precious item that you can ever give your kids is your time. That includes reading books aloud with them, or in the case of younger children, having them read their favorite stories to you. It also includes sharing your stories and adventures with them. You can talk to them about what mommy and daddy were like when you first met, or what you did when when you were a child. Stepping away from work every night and having dinner with your family shows how much you value them. Simply showing up for a school play, every once in a while, is also great. When your child gets older, they will value the experiences they had with you more than the memory of the latest and greatest toy they had. Be physical with your children. Hold your children, touch them, kiss them. When your children know that they are loved by you, then they will learn to love themselves. That includes learning to feel good about themselves, to feel attractive, and to lived confident happy lives.

Empower Your Child

Allow your child some freedom; let them try things on their own. For instance, small children may love sorting socks, children in elementary school may like picking out new fruits and vegetables at the store, and older children may want to try their hand at cooking. Keep your child safe, but also allow them to try new things with your support. It will help them enhance their self-esteem, feel a little freedom, and learn how to take care of their own problems. This will help both you and your child in the future.

Help Your Child Learn

Children spend a large amount of time at school, and doing homework. If they are fall behind, it means that time spent in the classroom will likely be stressful. Help them out by sitting with them as they do their homework, and answering questions. If they are behind, try not to make them more stressed about the situation. Since many subjects build on previous knowledge, they may just need a refresher on a previously covered topic. They can easily bounce back with your help.  Your kids learn by example, so if you want your children to be healthy, fit, attractive, and kind – then you need to live that way yourself. You want to show your kids that the two most important people in their lives, mommy and daddy, share a happy and healthy life, eat well, and loving communication. Children want to feel proud of their parents – and it’s part of your job to make them feel proud.

Teach Your Child Balance

Get involved in activities that your kids are interested in. Whatever age your children are, start to enthusiastically play with them during these activities. Whether it’s spending a few moments hand-painting with them, or throwing around the ball each afternoon. If you have teenagers then spend time talking about their interests. It’s easy to keep putting this off – so don’t procrastinate, start today! If your child shows interest in an activity, help them pursue this activity. Karate lessons, playing the piano, soccer games, they are a great way to get your child involved in a new activity. It also lets them meet other children, and follow their passion. But be careful not to let your child (or yourself) get overwhelmed. Following passions is great, but your child will also need to relax once in a while. Teaching your child how to unwind can be just as valuable as driving them to yet another lesson. Planning a family movie night or a fun outing can show your child that they can work hard, and then play hard too.

Limit How Often Your Child Sits in Front of the TV…Or Computer

Children cannot always process the graphic images they see on TV or the computer. They may be watching a perfectly innocent show, but the commercials in between may contain graphic images. You may be watching the weather when the next story is about a murder. These images are difficult to avoid completely. However by limiting your child’s exposure, you can limit what they see. Try spending more time interacting with your child. As a bonus, interacting with your child is a lot better for their development than any educational game, video, or device. In a simple conversation over dinner, your child picks up new vocabulary, learns how to form sentences, and absorbs more about life (and their parents) in general.

Set a Good Example

If you have a case of road rage in the car while on the way to school, the other drivers will likely not hear what you say, but your child in the backseat is definitely listening. Having an overall positive attitude will set a good example for your child. Children often emulate their parents when they grow up and start their own families. If you want your child to have successful relationships, show them how to do so by treating your husband or wife with love and respect. Also, bring them along as you gather coats for the homeless, or simply let them see you dance around the living room. Being a day-to-day role model for your children will help them lead a happy life. It’s critically important to be honest with your kids, at all times. When you show them that you have integrity and are respectful with honesty, they will want to emulate that aspect of you. Start listening more attentively to your children. You want them to have absolutely no doubt that you are genuinely interested in them, their feelings, and their lives.

Be open and friendly to your child’s friends, and encourage them to hang out at your house. Many parents are uptight, and have too many rules that will make your child’s friends feel unwelcome, and in turn will damage your own child’s self-esteem. But, if you show your child that their friends are welcome and that you accept their choice of friends in the home, then that sends a message of acceptance and trust of about their decisions. When you believe in your children then they will learn to believe in themselves.

7 Child And Eco Friendly Activities To Honor The Earth

Reblogged from: http://www.hybridrastamama.com/2012/04/7-child-and-eco-friendly-activities-to.html

Our generation is in danger, due to the many environmental problems we face today. Getting our children involved in Eco-friendly activities around the house can help ensure our environment is safe for another generation. Eco-friendly activities can also be quite fun, and provide your children with something to do!
1. Start a Compost Garden!

Trash accumulates very easily and can often account for one of the main ways our oceans and forests become polluted. Taking some of your biodegradable trash and starting a garden with it provides the environment with effective fertilizer, promoting future growth for plants! This can also teach your children how to care for plants, which can lead to bigger lessons about responsibility.

2. Recycle!

Our world comes with limited resources, and it is very important that we conserve them. Teaching your children to recycle their empty plastic bottles and used or unwanted paper can benefit the environment in a number of ways. Recycling your plastic bottles means they can be re-used, and they won’t pile up on beaches and landfills. Plastics cause a huge problem on beaches, as turtles often mistake plastic bags as jellyfish, and end up sick.

3. Teach your Kids

One of the best ways to get your children involved in Eco-friendly activities is by teaching them about it and spending time with them. It is a lot easier to learn about things such as this with a guide, and what better person to do it than their parent? This will also encourage children to share the green activity, and soon, many children will be sharing good environmental habits.

4. Turn off Lights

One of the best ways to conserve energy is to shut off lights that are not in use, one of the biggest energy-wasters in houses. Teaching your children this good habit when they are young will encourage them to continue it for a lifetime, saving both of you money.

5. CFLs

Energy-efficient light bulbs cost less over time, and they can help save large amounts of energy. It can also help save money on bills too! One of the main reasons electricity consumption is on the rise is due to the fact that homeowners have not switched to energy-efficient light bulbs. Teaching children to replace light bulbs can be a helpful way to get them involved in Eco-friendly activities AND learn how to handle a basic household chore!

6. Clean up Trash

Often, people are careless and will not bother to put their trash in the appropriate bins. This can cause much harm to the environment, because trash can be swept away by wind or the waves and be carried out into the environment, where it can cause a large amount of damage to wildlife and forests. Teaching your children to pick up trash when they see it can be an effective way to assist the environment, and get them involved in Eco-friendly activities.

7. Turn Off Faucets

Faucets and kitchen sinks are often left on longer than they need to be, and as a result, this wastes a large amount of water. Water is Earth’s most precious resource, and it helps sustain life as we know it. Helping to conserve water can ensure that there is enough water for both humans and wildlife to survive. It will also ensure that our planet is safe and cared for when further generations come!

Toilet Training

Toilet Training the Brazelton Way

Proudly reposted from: Caitlin Hopkins Murray’s Blog

A very short little book, which while not being the best read, does hammer in to your head some very solid parenting suggestions about potty training- allow this step in the child’s life to be the child’s accomplishment, not yours, and do not feel socially pressured to begin before babe is ready! Begin when your babe is ready, and your chances of true success are incomparably better. The rest of the book is conceptual with factual evidence to support this opinion, along with some explanations about the steps kids take when they are naturally discovering and exploring their bodies. In other words, it gives you specific examples to illustrate what their behavior will look like when they are prepared to make the leap from diapers, to pull ups, to big kid undies. I’d certainly recommend it to any first time parent who has never been around a toddler who is training, or who had a bad experience themselves- again, lots of emphasis on making this a loving and happy thing! Not the most “readable” and often super repetitive, but a very useful parenting guide none the less.