“A vonderful goot game!” from the Dutch Blitz web site
It’s that time of year…that time when we start looking for great stocking stuffers, gift exchange gifts; and games for our kids for Christmas AND that time when we start gathering around the table in the dark evenings and weekends rather than playing outdoors. We are a huge game family! Love, love, love playing table games. We suffered through (okay, now I don’t think it is suffering as I miss my kids’ little days so much—but at the time, it got long!) many, many games of Chutes and Ladders, Clue Junior, and Go Fish. But it was worth it all as we now have seven kids (and some kids-in-love) to gather around the game table for fun “big kids” games, like the ones I am reviewing below!
Christmas story read aloud was truly one of the highlights of our year. I collected beautiful, amazing picture books that we read out of each afternoon during story time. Then as the kids got older, I began collecting story “collections” or “anthologies” to read short stories aloud at the dinner table, during unit studies, before bed, and while traveling by car. Still today we read aloud at least one Christmas story on family decorating night and one story on our family Christmas even—with all fifteen of us gathered around. We never tire of the same heart-warming stories year after year (though when the kids were younger and still at home, we did many, many different stories).
I know Thanksgiving is a full month away, but in order to get all of my holiday book reviews in before Christmas, I thought I should get started. (Plus, I like to have my students start writing their holiday stories and essays early!) And…I want to help you help your students do some holiday writing as well. (Hint: Free downloads and ideas below!)
One of my favorite Thanksgiving picture books is a simple little paperback book called Liberty B. Mouse Goes to a Party. It is one of a few about Liberty B. Mouse. Young children love this re-telling of the first Thanksgiving—since it’s through the eyes of a mischievous mouse!
Recently when my sister, her husband, and her two young teen daughters were here visiting in Indiana from North Carolina, we took as many from our family who could come and my sister’s family to our local YMCA to play a game called “walleyball” (rhymes with volleyball). This game is similar to volleyball in its rules–with the addition of walls as it is played in a racquetball court.
“When a child is allowed to do absolutely as he pleases, it will not be long until nothing pleases him” (Anonymous).
|If you don’t want your kids to get muddy, don’t let them play in the mud! But if you’re like us, and think there are many more important things in life than if kids get muddy, go ahead and let them play! The key is to be proactive–decide ahead of time what you can and cannot tolerate!
One of our favorite Preventive Parenting tips is that of becoming a problem solver. As parents, we can complain that we do not like how something is going or how our children are behaving–or we can decide to solve the problem at hand.
We have found that many things that seem insurmountable–getting kids up and around on time in the mornings without too much stress, having the evening meal on the table at a certain time, and being sure that our kids are reading a lot–are easily taken care of when we decide to solve the problem–rather than just complaining about it or wishing that things were not as they are.
Let me give you some real life scenarios that I have recommended or heard of lately to get your “thinking skills” and “problem solving strategies” working:
1. Kids up running around in the morning, getting into things, etc., before Mom has had a chance to get herself ready–and prepare for their rising!
Make a “nobody up until you are told you can get up” rule. Our preschoolers were not allowed to get up whenever the pleased.
Just like they had to go to bed at a certain time, they also were not permitted to get up at random times. We had tape players in their bedrooms with radio dramas and talking books available–and also had them put their favorite books on their headboards. They were allowed to read or listen to tapes in the mornings, but they had to wait for me to get them up before they got out of bed.
2. Kids outgrowing their naps but fighting with each other when Mom and other littles are trying to rest.
We can come out and referee fights, yell at our kids for waking the baby, etc,. or we can make a quiet hour–a time in which only quiet activities are allowed. For us, these quiet activities were in a tub marked Quiet Hour–and were items that did not need any assistance to use.
In the case of fighting after outgrowing naps, the two who are fighting must have Quiet Hour in separate rooms–and if Quiet Hour is violated, it’s back to naps for them.
3. Kids not ready in the morning on time, stress and fighting, etc.
Implement morning routines–a set list of things that each child does from rising times until breakfast, or whatever the end of morning routine time holds. Figure up the amount of time needed to get those things done, subtract that from leaving or ready for school time–and make that time the Morning Routine time. (Read more about morning routines here.)
The point of this post is that so many things that cause us stress, fights, poor relationships, nagging, etc. can be handled through problem solving–proactive parenting–parenting in a way that we prevent those times, as opposed to always putting out fires because we did not prevent them to begin with.
Proactive Parenting provides a much more peaceful environment in our homes. It allows us to work on the discipline issues that are really crucial–and to ward off punishment, etc., for situations that can be handled ahead of time, rather than in the heat of the moment.
As an added bonus, Proactive Parenting teaches our kids how to solve problems, come up with options, get a handle on things before they become too big, etc., as they watch us model these skills for them.