Send anyone this way to read along, but for permission to reprint, please contact Gail.
© Gail Underwood Parker

Monday, October 31, 2011

School Bell: Teacher / Student Encouragement

By Halloween most school systems have finished their fall parent conferences.  For many they will be positive, for others they will confirm that a child is struggling.  This can be an opportunity to encourage both your student and his or her teacher with a small light-hearted token.

For the teacher... 
-- a roll of paper towels for their help in "cleaning up" or "tackling" the problem.
-- a short thank you note for their help in coming up with a plan for improving things.

For the student... 
-- a box of paper clips or rubber bands because "together we're are going to hold it together"
-- a pad of cute sticky notes to help you "stick with it"

[If you used one of these earlier in the year, choose a different one now.] The point is just to let both your child and the teacher know that the issues you discussed at parent conference are remembered and that they can both count on you to follow-through and help resolve the problem. The child needs to know that you will be there to help, not just to nag or scold.  The teacher needs to know that you can handle bad news as well as good, that you will work with them and with your child.

As a veteran teacher I can assure you that the teacher wants every single child to succeed. Happy, successful children are easier, more fun, and more rewarding to be working with each day. Experiencing success and feeling hopeful creates a wonderful synergy of energy and achievement in a classroom, regardless of where each individual starts the year. Working together as a team helps make that happen.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Caring Heart: Street Angels House Devils

This isn't exactly Halloween themed, but close. Sometimes it seems as if our kiddos are swapping one emotional costume for another, anything to hide what is really going on inside.

Street Angels / House Devils 

I remember hearing the expression "Street Angel - House Devil" years ago.  Maybe it was even said of me, I don't remember.  But it surely applies to her.  How is it that others can see her as thoughtful, kind, even joyful.  Yet at home, especially to me, she is angry, ciolent, and actually sometimes abusive.  Those outsiders don't deeply love her, and yet she delights them.  Her family and I love her so so much and yet she treats us worse than dirt.  It seems so backward.  If she can't be good for everyone, in my heart I suppose I wold rather she was pleasant outside the house.  Kind of like being on best behavior for company. But it is so very tiring to always be the brunt of her moods.  And when she is so different outside, in public, no one understands what it is like to be me.  Strengthen my camel's back, Lord, that her behavior may fall on it like straws, not thorns.  That my back of resolve will not break as long as she needs my help.  Strengthen me.  Strengthen her, O Lord, so that she no longer feels the need to lash out, to fight love, to protect herself from letting go.  

Excerpted from "The Caring Heart Speaks: Meditations for foster, kinship, and adoptive parents" by Gail Underwood Parker   Artwork by Anna Parker David from the book cover.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Quick Takes: Fun Halloween Snacks

Ok, warning .... these are not organic, nor sugar free....I figure if I crack the whip most of the year, I can ease up a bit on Halloween.  I learned a long time ago that making cupcakes was [in my kids eyes] only a means of offering frosting. So I decided to skip the cupcake part and get to their heart of the matter.  I use crackers and cookies as my base.  Here are a few Halloween treats we made this week:

Spider Webs:  
squares of graham crackers
white frosting
back tube frosting gel
toothpick for draggin the
concentric circles into a web

Medium difficulty... small kids will struggle with the circles but will do fine on the dragging and the spider blobs.

Mummy Crackers:
Town House crackers as base
White frosting base, then white frosting using a petal tube to create the mummy's wrappings.
Green gel frosting tube to create the ghoulish eyes.

[Healthy supper version:  You can create a Halloween supper by making individual meatloaves in cupcake pans, laying alfredo sauced noodles as the mummy wrappings on top, using peas for eyes. to make a healthy supper version.]

Ghostly Graveyards:
I used chocolate graham vcrackers for the base.
chocolate frosting to cover
Crumbled oreos or crackers for the loose "dirt"
Town House oval crackers with one edge cut straight for tombstones.
Black get frosting tip for R.I. P. lettering.

Simple Pumpkins:
Great for little folk...
Halloween Oreos [with orange filling]
Take off one cookie side with a knife.
Use green gel frosting tube to make the stem.
Use black get frosting tube to make the faces.
[Save the plain cookie side for the graveyard "dirt" or for ghosts base.]


Ghosts:
Use white tube frosting to create ghosts on the plain oreo halves.
Toothpicks help kids drag the frosting blob into a chosen shape.
Chocolate crumbs or frosting dots make eyes etc.

P.S. Sorry I posted late today... Scrambling to get the last bulbs in the ground before an unexpected October snowstorm is predicted for tonight. Arrrggghhh.  I am not ready for snow!!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Anything Can Happen: Halloween fun

Nothing super exciting today.... just a game that a friend sent me to online. I barely got to try it out before my granddaughter [age 14] spied it and took over for the last 30 minutes. I have finally wrested the computer back from her to post this so that you too may find a way to occupy your teens with a harmless game. In my community the Thursday and Friday before Halloween are parent teacher conferences so my munchkins are home from school all day.... a good diversion is always handy!

So here I offer you...  graveyard mini-golf.

For younger kids, try some puzzles and coloring pages to download free

Or even check out some other online Halloween games for kids.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Parenting Tips: Halloween Teen Options

In my house once you turn 13 you are too old to go out door to door trick or treating in costume. [ Not necessarily a good rule for everyone and everyplace. But where I live it is a good rule.  Being older and out is an invitation to temptation  to join in risky activities, or to be blamed for the misbehavior of others.]

Our rule made me come up with other holiday activities for my teens.  So, here are a few they have like over the years....

1- They can be the official door greeter on Halloween... in a non-scary costume if they would like, or not. Greeting the little children and watching their little faces light up as they trick or treat.

2. They can each invite one teen friend over to our house for an evening of Halloween movies.  [Some of the old ones are the best according to my kids, who enjoy previewing a bunch in the weeks ahead of Halloween to chose what ones might surprise their friends most.

3. Helping create a Halloween feast for their friends with all the homemade goodies that people used to give out before all the food scares.

4. Decorating the yard to make it Halloween-y but not too scary for little folk.

5. Hosting a small party featuring the old-style games they may have played as kids on Halloween, but haven't played as teens [bobbing for apples, donuts on a string, etc.]

6. Participating in a community youth activity on Halloween night if your community offers one. [Example: juding scarecrow contests, costumes at the elementary school or middle school, attending a Halloween dance at the high school, etc.]

Oh yes.... And whatever you chose to offer them, I always allow my "too-old--to-tick-or-treat-children" to each go to the store and pick out one bag of their favorite treat for themselves to ease their pain. [Since I have several teens they often choose to collaborate!]  Good luck!

Image credits: celebrations.com

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Soapbox: Forgiveness Day

I heard on television that Monday was International Forgiveness Day.  I have never heard of such a day.  They didn't mention who sponsored the day, or crowned it as official.  I suppose I could look it up on the internet, but that isn't really the point.  What struck me was how useful such a day would be if it were used as such.  Imagine a day when old wrongs were released, old grudges dropped.

Most thoughtful people agree that holding a grudge, maintaining resentment, and festering anger hurts the "holder" far more than the person who is resented.  But it is often so so hard to truly release pent up anger or pain that has been carefully guarded, sometimes even fed. 

What a great model for our children and our world if we could learn. What a wonderful opportunity to have a day each year to talk about forgiveness, to practice forgiveness, and maybe actually learn how so that we can reap the rewards of anger and pain with peace and calm and healing.

Image credit: donmilleris.com

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Focus on Fostering: Try a worry wall

All kids worry.  Sometimes though, the worries of kids in care are stockpiled on top of regular kid worries and the pile becomes overwhelming. The worry thoughts crowd their heads and can seem to squeeze out all the good things, the good times, the calm. Try this little trick to tame the worry monster and cut him down to a more manageable size.

1. Get two different color sticky notes.  One color to stand for worries, one to stand for solutions.

2. With your child pick a spot on their bedroom wall. This will become their worry wall.

3. When your child mentions a worry [or you see one] write it on a worry sticky note and put it on their "Worry Wall."

4. Talk to the child about the problem.  When you come up with a plan for dealing with the worry [or even a solution] write it on a solution sticky note and place that sticky note next to and partially over the worry note.

Checking in on the Worry Wall can become part of bedtime tucking in, to kind of review the solutions and strategies so that the child can go to sleep focused on solutions not worries.  Using a Worry Wall also builds a habit of sharing concerns and working together to find solutions.... a habit that will pay off BIG time when your child is a teenager!

Remember... 

the bottom line we ALL

need to learn is....





Image crdits:
emotionalmachines.org,
looktothenorth.wordpress.com,
sodahead.com

Monday, October 24, 2011

School Bell: Test Anxiety

[Note:  WOW! It has been a long two weeks since I was at the helm of Upbeats and Downbeats!  I apologize to those who follow me regularly.  After pretty much every single day for over a year I hit a brick wall after the wedding and was just exhausted.  But, I am back on my feet and ready to get back in my blog groove.  Thanks to all of you who have stuck with me!! Spread the word... I'm ba-a-a-a-ck.]

Any day now your child will wake up dreading going to school because that day is dreaded test day.  Almost all of us can remember what it was like to dread that first big test with a new teacher, or to worry about the standardized tests the whole grade was taking.  Test znxiety is perfectly normal, but also perfectly horrible.  As parents and teachers we need to follow the tried and true basics to help our kids muddle through...

1. Know the difference between classroom tests and standardized tests.  
---To prepare for classroom tests you do study.... your notes, homework and review sheets. Buddy systems sometimes help. Or flashcards, or game reviews [See my Feb 21, 2011 post.] Studying helps because they are designed to test recall of details just taught or introdu├žed.
---To prepare for standardized tests you do not study. They are designed to measure accumulated long term knowledge,  and ability to use accumulated skill routines or apply old info to new situations.

2. Know that rest and nutrition really DO help achievement on both kinds of tests.
Whatever studying is or isn't done, a good night's sleep and a good breakfast or lunch really make a difference in the body's ability to focus, calm, and think clearly.  This is when a good bedtime routine is helpful and a favorite breakfast or snack or lunch is a boost as well.

3. Know that relaxation is key.
Prepare your child way ahead by teaching them to know how they can relax in the moment of stress.  Deep breathing.  A quick prayer.  A fidget "toy" to kep from finger drumming.  A sentence affirmation to repeat for reassurance. Whatever works best for your child in a classroom situation. Like looking for your keys when you are upset about being late... searching for the answers in your head is equally difficult when all your focus is on the worry.

These aren't the only three strategies, but these will reduce test anxiety more and more as children understand and employ them automatically.

Image credits: dmaryzoglo.com

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Caring Heart: Family Reunion

All too often, foster and adoptive children are separated from siblings.  Sometimes, even when that must or does happen, reunions are possible. 

A happy family reunion

We did it!  We got them all together for a day today.  His brothers were all there, and his sisters, too.  Even the ones he hadn't seen in so long.  Sure, it was a little awkward at first, but after a bit they started comparing notes and sharing stories.  And, it's really interesting how much alike they all are.  Not just the way they look.  That's often true of siblings.  But their mannerisms are so similar it is eerie. They have been separated so completely, yet are still so similar.  Their hand gestures, they way they sit, and even the way they laugh. It was so wonderful to hear them all laugh. I took so many pictures today.  Who knows when being together can happen again.  Who knows how long today's memories will have to last these children.  But they had today. Thank you for today.  

Excerpted from "The Caring Heart Speaks: Meditations for foster, kinship, and adoptive parents" by Gail Underwood Parker   Artwork by Anna Parker David from the book cover.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Caring Heart: Gotcha Day

Fourteen years ago this week, I came home from an unexpected court date with three cherubs in tow and a fourth on her way.  At the time I thought they would be with me for a few months, maybe a year.  One is now 21 and on her own, one is a 19 year old high school graduate and with the other two manage to keep me young, and old, and to fill my house, my heart, and my calendar! This is for everyone who has a "Gotcha Day."

Gotcha Day

Today was their Gotcha Day.  The anniversary of the day they came.  We had cake, ice cream, and even a few small presents.  We told how excited we were to have them join our family.  We showed pictures of that first day.  We talked about what we did that first day. Showed them how much they have grown since then.  We celebrated the ways they are stronger, healthier, and growing up each day.  Most of all, we celebrated that we were able to keep them together in one home, not split up and settled with different families.  Brothers and sisters may fight, may argue, but they belong together.  Here they can be.  So, like every year, we celebrate! If we had been their first family it would be harder.  It would have coincided for them with too many painful memories of loss and confusion.  But since we are their forever family, the one that ended the cycle, it is a day to truly rejoice and be grateful.  We are.

Excerpted from "The Caring Heart Speaks: Meditations for foster, kinship, and adoptive parents" by Gail Underwood Parker   Artwork by Anna Parker David from the book cover.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Focus on Fostering: The need for space

I talked last week about the social code of personal space, but today is not about conversational space, but space away by yourself.  Some parents think their children [especially adolescents and teens] are spending too much time alone, holed up with their video games or computers or facebook, or just isolated via headphones.  But although that isn't time spent with family... it isn't alone time either.

Kids need to learn how to be alone in their own personal space with time to think, to tinker, to read, to daydream, even to fall asleep.  Possibly the only teens who understand that are those who must share a bedroom with a sibling.  They are painfully aware of not having a place to go to be in their OWN space.  Parents need their own space too.  I suspect it is a basic human need of a sort.  The need to occasionally withdraw, to regroup, to rejuvenate, or just to be ,,, but to be alone.

I think children in care particularly benefit from having a space that is theirs. A space where they can cry, or be angry, or admit they are happy, or admit they have lost so much.  I think we as foster parents need to find ways to teach them how to find space and time to be alone.  Teaching them to find personal quiet at a beach, or on their bedroom floor, or in a field. Teaching them how to claim space and privacy in healthy ways.

After all...

everybody needs alone time.









Image credits:  ourfamilyforhisglory.blogspot.com, waileadailyphoto.blogspot.com, secularcafe.org

Monday, October 10, 2011

School Bell: Parent Conference Tips

Last Monday I talked about assesing the start your children have made this year and encouraged conversation with his or her teacher.  So, we have already talked about the importance of sharing the home perspective with the teacher on school in general and on the homework front as well. Here are three key tips to keep in mind as you prepare for that conference.

Bring specific questions.
"How is he doing?" is less helpful than "What area does he need to work on?" "Who does she usually buddy up with for team projects?" instead of "Is she getting along with others okay?" These can help you be more effective helping your child with both studying and social concerns.

Prioritize and Make a list.
Having a list of key things you want to cover or questions you want answered is one of the best ways to be sure you don't get sidetracked during the conference or stuck talking in platitudes and generalities.  Most conferences are limited to around 20 minutes. The teacher will have information to share, so decide your top two priorities and write them down to make sure you cover them!

And....
If you can't get to everything, make an appointment to continue the discussion, chances are there is another parent waiting in the hallway for their 20 minutes.

Image credit: angelamaiers.com

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Caring Heart: A daughter's Wedding Day

Today is my daughter, Alexis' wedding day.  I celebrate my daughter, her future husband, Ben, the couple they have begun to be, and the couple they will become.

I am away from my computer for these few days, focused on my family and happily forgetting my blog and everything else.

Flip through my old Caring Heart posts. Search by clicking on Caring Heart in the topic list. Say a prayer that my gremlins are behaving!  Re-read a favorite or explore some you never read.   See you on Tuesday!

Artwork by Anna Parker David from the book cover of "The Caring Heart Speaks: Meditations for foster, kinship, and adoptive parents" by Gail Underwood Parker.   

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Quick Takes: New Halloween Traditions

Halloween seems to be getting bigger and bigger every year.  Gone seem to be the days of simple costumes, trick or treats, and UNICEF boxes.  It you are looking for a Halloween tradition to begin or switch to, here are three that have gained popularity lately... some even as community or charity fund raisers.

Costume Sale-  Get together with a group of parents, or friends and hold a Halloween costume sale early or mid-October.  Publicize it to the local elementary schools and parent groups.  Maybe talk to a local theater group about donating some of their costume department's cast offs. Perhaps to gain publicity [and new fans?] their makeup people would come and do an afternoon clinic on Halloween makeup ideas?  Over my parenting years I have gahtered not one but FIVE tubs of costumes and costume ingredients for any number of ages and interest. No longer needing them, they will be going to my local church's October rummage sale to start a "Halloween Room" of goodies.

Trunk or Treat- A new approach to trick or treating, some neighborhoods or communities are creating safe zones by lining the local school or church parking lot with parked cars.  The cars [or even just the trunks and hatchbacks] are decorated to the nines.  Children go from trunk to trunk trick or treating with no busy roads to cross in the dark, no stranger's homes, etc.  And with a parent at each trunk and the cars forming a makeshift "neighborhood block" even the youngest children can enjoy this twist on traditional trick or treating.  Perhaps the older teens in the area can sponsor a cider or doughnut table too? For decorating ideas try googling "trunk or treat" images and be inspired!

Halloween Scarecrows- Hold a scarecrow decorating contest in town. Charge a minimal amount for the two cross stakes and challenge families and businesses or organizations to decorate and post their themed scarecrow out front for two weeks. Have clear rules about gore or violence.Hold a judging and award prizes or certificates in categories. This makes a great addition to a fall festival or Halloween week and offers the chance to move beyond doorbell ringing and candy for those who want.

Note: As you can see our October Quick Takes this year will all focus on Halloween ideas for Food, Costumes, Teens and Families. We will go back to our usual Quick Take offerings in November.

Image credits:  carouseltheatre.wordpress.com, greaterphiladelphiagardens.org, tipjunkiue.com

Friday, October 7, 2011

Anything Can Happen: Parent Sticker Charts



Have you ever used sticker charts with your kids?

Have you chosen a behavior you want to encourage or discourage and awarded stickers each time, leading to an earned reward?

Try this for a fun Anything Can Happen day...


Let your kids make a sticker chart for you!



Take a typical chart like the one at left and switch roles. Let them pick a behavior or yours the kids want to encourage or discourage. Decide the reward, Give them the stickers and POST the chart. Take it in good spirit.. [Remember how little choice THEY have in choosing targeted behaviors and incentives]. Have some fun with it. Make it a day or a weekend or... if you are really daring... a week.

Let us know how it goes! Above are some examples of kid charts you can adapt depending on your children's ages.

Image credits: writers.inpictou.info,itsamomsworld.com

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Parenting Tips: Personal Space

Anyone who has had someone wag a finger in their face or just felt claustrophobic from a too-close social conversation understands the social need for personal space.  As my little guys used to say "You're in my bubble!"  I found this image online and thought it was a pretty good representation  to use in trying to teach this nebulous concept to my kiddos.


Have you taught yor children about personal space?  Most children will pick it up on their own, but I think all children should be taught anyway. Why?  1- Because not all children will pick it up. and 2. Because even if they do, they will learn it at different times, which may mean they will learn it the hard way.  Why not teach it deliberately and often at home, as they become old enough to understand.

Good friends...can be closer than arm's length.

Casual friends... from arm's length to the space across a table or between two living room chairs.

New acquaintances.... think of a circle the size of 6 people

Sense of personal space varies from culture to culture, but the bottom line is that you want someone you are talking with to feel comfortable, not crowded, to feel welcomed, not invaded. One good rule of thumb is to give space unless invited closer, and to teach kids that if someone gets uncomfortable to literally take a step back and create more space as the first step in defusing a situation.

Other ideas?

Image credit: rightattitudes.com

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Soapbox: Weddings

This Sunday the youngest of my five daughters is getting married.  She is the youngest of my first family, the family my [ex]husband and I had, my family before I added four more. Some of you probably can barely imagine your children old enough to marry. Some may be there now or soon.  Like everything else, weddings have changed.

My wedding was in 1970. [shortly after dinosaurs roamed the earth if you ask my gremlins] My parents and his parents each made a list of guests and then he and I added some of our friends to the list.  My parents paid for the wedding [and they set the budget].  His parents paid for the rehearsal dinner.  I wore a long dress with long sleeves and my bridesmaids wore long above the elbow gloves.  I was radical because I chose white dresses [with colored trim] for my bridesmaids and did not include "obey" in my vows.  Keeping my maiden name was not even a consideration. We had to not only get a license, but take and pass blood tests in order to get the license. We got married in my hometown church, as almost everyone did then. [There were a few daring types who got married in fields in long musline dresses with flower wreaths in their hair but they were still the extreme, a trend just beginning.]

I fretted and wondered and worried about the honeymoon because, like "good girls" were supposed to, I had "waited" for marriage. I think my mother and I had had "the talk" though I don't remember it, and I had been given a booklet for brides and grooms [reading it now is laughable!], but even my married girlfriends would never discuss "that" sort of thing.

I got married 5 days after my college graduation and moved 5 states away to where my husband lived, rarely to return to my hometown. Married at 21, most of my friends were already married or marrying that year.  When I did not have a child for four more years, people were worried [including us] that something was wrong. At 25 I was the last of my circle to have a first child and people had been genuinely convinced I was either unable to bear children or that we had chosen not to have children.

So, all in all, I clearly was married in the dark ages.  Weddings, couples, and marriages are very different now and will continue to change as my grandchildren grow and marry.  But, the wonderful news is that they still feature two people deeply in love, eager to spend the rest of their lives together, full of joyful expectations, and with families that love them, and share their joy.

I am very blessed that my children have found [or been found by] life partners who bring them love, joy, and occasional silliness that will help them through the tough days that are a part of life. I enjoy their husbands and I enjoy what my children are with their husbands.  I delight to seeing them start family units of their own, with and without children, with a mixture of traditions borrowed and new, tweaked and adjusted, as they build their own adult lives.  I hope those aspects of marriage never change.

Image credits: favorsbyserendipity.com, sunflowerbaking.com

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Focus on Fostering: When they are hateful.

I had intended to write a post on bonding books today but just can't make myself.  It has been a truly horrible week with children swearing, shouting, throwing, hitting, etc. You may know the kind of week. The kind where you wonder why you are doing this.  The kind of week when you think you have rescued children from abuse only to be abused by those children.  The kind of week when for 2¢ you would walk out the door and just drive until it was night and then sleep in the car. But... if you have chosen to take in therapeutic level children, or children who are deeply troubled, these days will happen, this is a part of what you are likely to get.

You need to know that.

You need to be ready for it.

What can you do?  Take Ten.... here are my favorite ten.

1. Remember the limits of your influence.

2. B-r-e-a-t-h-e.   Slowly and to a count of four.
In-2-3-4-, Out-2-3-4-.  Over and Over.

3. Remove yourself from the anger inside you.
Take a break... give yourself a timeout.

4. Keep reminding yourself that their words are just that.... words.
Yes, they hurt. But they don't even necessarily have the meaning the imply.

5. Pick up the phone and call a friend.

6. If the children can be left with someone else for a bit... do so.. and take a walk. [or even a stomp!]

7. Keep telling yourself that their anger is more about their pain, than about your fault.

8. Congratulate yourself that even at your angriest you will NOT do to the children what others have done. You are still keeping them safe, even in your anger.

9. Repeat: This mood is temporary this will pass this mood is temporary this will pass. etc.

10. B-R-E-A-T-H-E.  Deep cleansing breaths just like are needed in the midst of the pain of childbirth.

Sometimes one of them works, sometimes it takes all of them. Sometimes none of them work and I just have to wait it out. Sometimes I have to start over again at #1.

You are not alone.
           What you are doing is good.
                          What you are doing is HARD.
                                               You are not alone.

Image credit: mamaroo.com

Monday, October 3, 2011

School Bell: A Good School Start?

For most of our children, school has been in session for roughly a month now.  How are your children doing?  If you are concerned, this is probably a good time to get the perspective of your child's teacher, and to share your perspective on the child's progress or struggles with that teacher.

1. Adapting: Most kids have now adapted to the new teacher, the new classmates, new schedule, maybe even new school.  If you have a child who is still anxious each morning, or who talks about not knowing where to go when, or who has not yet found a classmate to connect with, make an appointment with their teacher to discuss the teacher's view.

2. Work Habits:  Concentration, organization, time management, attention to deadlines, etc. are some of key work habits students need to develop. How is your child doing? Often habits at home and habits at school are different. You can share your perspective on your child's home work habits. The teacher can let you know about your child's work habits in the classroom.

3. Academic Load: Many schools have an expectation of roughly 10 minutes per grade level for normal academic work. [10 min for 1st grade, 60 minutes by 6th grade, etc.] How does that fit with your child's efforts? Keep track of your child's nightly school work time and emotional response.  Let the teacher know if your child is struggling, need's a great deal of assistance or spends too long.  Check what your school's time expectations are. 

4. Social Interaction: School is not just about academics.  Academic success is impacted by a child's social experiences at school. Check with her/his teacher and share any feedback you've gotten at home. Is there enough interaction?  Too much?  Good circle of friendships?  Risky circle?  Odd man out or social butterfly or what? 

These are just four areas for you to consider and to discuss with your child and his or her teacher if you have any concerns since the school year began.  If you are worried, don't wait until report cards. A month has passed.... shoot an email or note or phone call to the teacher to exchange information and perspectives. That is the most effective way to begin evaluating whether there is a problem and, if so,coming up with a solution or plan of action.  Good luck!

Image credits: wayfaringstranger9.blogspot.com, hsd401.org, salmonellablog.com

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Caring Heart: Testing Me

All parents feel pushed and tested, not just foster and adoptive parents. But kids who are "placed" in a home have special motivation. This is for all of us. 

Testing Me

He is pushing all my buttons today.  I understand how he needs to test me, to see if I plan to stick with him or if I will throw up my hands and give up on him as so many have done already. Help me be strong. Help me stay calm and quiet, merely accepting each moment and moving on.  Help me to maintain an even keel inwardly as well as outwardly, so that this time will pass as quickly as possible.  I need it to pass quickly, Lord. This is not a good time for him to be pushing me so hard. I am so tired. I doubt there would be a good time Lord, but this is certainly not it.  I know he will do it again, and again, and again, until he dares to believe that I will be there no matter what.  Do we push your buttons with our doubt and our stubbornness?  Do you get this frustrated with us? Give me the wisdom to recorgnize and accept this testing as a rite of passage for him and for me.  Give me strength. Give him trust to replace testing. Give me calm until it passes. 

Excerpted from "The Caring Heart Speaks: Meditations for foster, kinship, and adoptive parents" by Gail Underwood Parker   Artwork by Anna Parker David from the book cover. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Quick Takes: Kids List #101-110

This is the elevnth installment of "Kids List." My "Kids List" is things I wish all kids could get to experience before they are grown up and independent.   This month has a mix of small folk and bigger folk experiences. Use your grownup judgment to see what fits your child. [You can search for earlier installments by "Kids List" search or clicking on it in the topic list.] This month I am including some October traditions all kids can enjoy at some point in their lives.


Kids List #101-110 ..Fall Fun


101. Rake fallen leaves.


102. Spend 15 minutes jumping into and re-piling leaves.


103. Go on a fall hike, scuffing through leaves.
104. Bob for apples.


105. Watch a cider press make cider from apples.


106. Go on a hay ride.


107. Go apple picking


108. Hollow out a pumpkin and carve a face.


109. Make their own Halloween costume.


110. Go trick-or-treating or to a Halloween party.




Image credits:  cityofhemet.org, halloweenkidz.com,cospringsehomes.com