Three Simple Strategies For a Great Start to the Virtual School Year by Kelly.

School is ramping up again and I was wondering how is everyone doing and how are you preparing to make virtual learning 2.0 a positive experience? I love the theme “Looking for Silver Linings!”. Here are some healthy strategies I’m prepping this week after talking with counselors and educators this summer.

1. Sit down with your kid individually and have them generate their own list of ideas for how to calm down and recenter. Ex. Breathing, read a book, do yoga, run, dance, take a walk outside, call/zoom with a friend, etc. Then print out this list and keep it near their work space. When they are experiencing frustrations, have them pick something off their list and break for 5-10 minutes. It gives them control over the situation (removes the parent from the situation) and teaches them mindfulness. (Also, parents make your own list and keep it near by).

2. Sit down with your kids and generate a list of their favorite upbeat songs that will always result in a dance party. The physical movement and music releases endorphins and will help boost moods and improve mental focus. I’m aiming for 2-3 dance parties a day.

3. Trying to carve out time individually with each child for 20 minutes a week. Do a no-fail fun activity meaning there is no chance of power struggles or disappointments. Just something simple like sitting down and play legos, riding bikes together, staying up late for 20 minutes and looking at the stars, etc. Whatever allows you to connect with your child positively for 20 minutes – it will greatly improve/maintain a healthy relationship especially during times when you have another role as educator.

Sending virtual hugs to every parent & educator!

Our family’s schoolroom under construction.

How to Halloween Like a Girl by Missy

Recently I’ve seen several articles and memes about the inappropriate nature of little girls’ Halloween costumes.  The focus is on the fact that young girls’ costumes are often the “sexy” version of boys’ costumes.  While on the one hand it genuinely bothers me that some big faceless corporation would make such a thing, on the other hand I have to ask, how do you “Halloween like a girl” without being inappropriate? 

I am thankful that my little ladies, currently aged 9 and 6, have not asked to dress up as something sexy.  Over the years, they’ve dressed up as princesses and cheerleaders, but they’ve also dressed as fearless superheroes (Batgirl and Wonder Woman), bad-ass rebellion leaders (Princess Leia and Rey), and the cleverest witches of their age (Hermione and Ginny).  In fact, our whole family got in on the act of the superhero-themed year.  I dressed up as Wonder Woman, as well, and my husband was our “Daniel in Distress” (yeah, his name is actually Dan).  He bought an old suit at Goodwill, tore it up, drove over it with the car, and added fake blood.  The three of us girls were saving him. 

My husband and I want our kids to dress like kids.  We want to keep them young as long as possible.  We don’t want to hurry them to their teenage years.  And we definitely don’t want to rush them through such a fun and innocent time in their lives.  We’ve been fortunate that Halloween-ing like a girl at our house has focused on being awesome, not sexy.  So again, I ask, how do you Halloween like a girl and keep it appropriate? 

As parents, we need to dress our kids like kids, not mini adults.  Particularly girls!  They don’t need low-cut tops or bare midriffs or short skirts.  Your little one will be an amazing police officer or astronaut or witch, particularly if she is fully-clothed.  Plus, considering that Halloween is at the end of October, when it’s typically cold and often rainy, being fully-clothed is probably better. 

We also need to encourage our kids’ imaginations.  Why settle on a cheaply-made, potentially inappropriate store-bought costume, when your daughter could be a tennis player from Saturn or a unicorn herder or one of the seven dwarfs!  Make it happen!  And just because a costume’s package has a boy on the cover, don’t let your daughter think the clothes inside are just for boys.  Remind her that in real life a firefighter’s uniform is the same, whether it is being worn by a man or a woman.

Thankfully, I didn’t see any little girls this Halloween or last year wearing child-sized “sexy cop” or “sexy soldier” costumes.  While I would love to say maybe it’s all been made up by those anonymous meme creators, I know that’s not quite right.  The issue does stem from a place of truth, and as parents, we need to fight against it.  We need to teach our daughters (and sons) that “Halloween-ing like a girl” involves dressing up as someone we admire or something we aspire to be, something funny or clever.  Sexiness has nothing to do with it.

“Sugar Cookie” Play Dough by Carly

We love making play dough at home! We love coming up with new color and scent combinations. We love visiting the baking aisle at the grocery store to find new extracts like vanilla, peppermint, banana, root beer and cherry. You should see my baking cupboards 😳We recently visited our favorite local bead shop – Shipwreck beads and picked up some animal and brightly colored plastic beads for bracelet making. Side note: Pipe cleaners + beads also make a great hand-eye coordination activity.

We decided to make play dough one night and instead of adding a color, I added lavender oil & translucent glitter to a double batch (see recipe below). What I thought would come out looking more like snow turned out to look a lot like sugar cookie dough. We rolled with it (literally) and dug out a rolling pin, fun cookie cutters and let our imaginations run wild! Soon enough the beads from our bracelet making turned into sprinkles for the play dough. Oliver even likes to put his masterpieces in his play kitchen oven to “bake”. Now the kids love  grabbing the bins of dough and beads whenever they feel like making cookies. Hope you enjoy making some of your own at home with your littles!

Our favorite play dough recipe courtesy of the Hands on Children’s Museum

INGREDIENTS

1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. water
1/2 c. salt
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tbs. vegetable oil
optional: food coloring, non-toxic glitter, flavor extracts or essential oils for scents.

DIRECTIONS

Place all ingredients in 2 quart non-stick saucepan. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and pulls from the sides of the pan. Within 5 minutes, it will form a smooth elastic ball. Remove from heat, let cool slightly and knead for 3 minutes. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.