10 Fun Rainy Day Activities!

Rainy days can become stressful for children and parents as they try to keep entertained day after rainy day. Here are some activities that I love, which will help to make those long rainy days muc…

Source: 10 Fun Rainy Day Activities!

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Getting Back into the School Routine in 2016!

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The lovely long Christmas summer holidays are the perfect chance to break from routine and have some fun! It’s a time to reconnect with family and friends, sleep in, stay up late, eat more “treat” foods, travel to exciting destinations and forget about time for a while. But how do you adjust to getting back into the work/school routine when it’s all over? If you are anything like me, it’s a huge struggle! By now, some parents are probably at the end of their tether after having their children at home for six weeks and are looking forward to getting back to routine; whilst others have loved the chance to spend more quality time with their children and are not quite ready. Either way, the change is coming so here are just a few tips to make it all a little easier:

•Try getting back into a routine with sleep times, bath times, meal times and other regular activities at least one week before school resumes. This will help your children’s body clocks adjust to the rhythm of routine and make the transition less stressful.

•Get them to have a look at their calendar/planner (as suggested in Help your child achieve their dreams for 2015!). They can use it to count down the days until school begins so that they have comfort in knowing when and what will take place. They can also use it to get organised for the next week.

•Help them to get excited about the impending term by talking about what is coming up e.g. excursions, parties, swimming lessons, Easter, and seeing all their friends, etc and then demonstrate how to mark some of these on their calendar/planner.

•Make the first week back relaxing and try not to plan too many after school activities if possible. Getting back into a routine is tiring and it’s best to keep all other activities to a minimum.

•Give them lots of free time after school to just run outside, play and be free. Especially the first week back but as often as possible during the whole term as well.

•Plan something fun but simple for the first weekend after being back at school. It could be a movie or pizza night, a picnic in the park, or a visit with family and friends. This is something the children can look forward to if they are hesitant about going back to school and it lets them know that the fun doesn’t have to end just because the holidays do.

•Hopefully there will be no homework in the first week back (if they attend a school which believes in giving homework) but if there is, show them how to organise their week so that they can do a little at a time and it’s not overwhelming. They can use their planner to work out when best suits them.

•Make time at dinner to sit around the table together (which should be a regular occurrence anyway) and chat about their day. This helps them to communicate their feelings and bond with their family. If open communication is developed and encouraged then they will be more likely to open up to you when they have concerns or issues that they need to discuss.

•If they are at a new school or even just a new class with different students and teacher, they may be feeling a little anxious about the change. Ask them how they are feeling about the new school/teacher/class and answer all their concerns as honestly and reassuringly as you can.

More than anything just be there for your children to guide them through this change in routine as there may be a period of adjustment which might cause them to feel anxious. You may notice behaviour that is not typical for them and it could just be that they are overwhelmed and overtired with the changes. Be understanding and talk to them about their feelings. It may appear that they are just being “naughty” and playing up, but there is always an underlying reason so make sure that you investigate and be supportive. In saying all of this, your child may actually be really happy about being back at school and not have any worries or concerns at all. If they are, then that’s great but just keep these tips in mind so that you can ease them back in regardless of how you think they will – or how they do – adjust to this big change.

Happy guiding

from

Darling Precious Children

Starting Big School 2016!

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It doesn’t seem all that long ago that you were taking your tiny newborn baby home from hospital and now all of a sudden they are starting big school! Where did that time go and how can it be possible? It can be a nervous time for parents and children but with a little planning ahead to make sure your child is emotionally and spiritually ready, it can be a lot easier.

Don’t worry if they don’t know their whole alphabet, all their numbers, or three different languages – that’s what they are going to school for! If they have been to pre-school they probably already know more than enough academic stuff to begin kindergarten anyway. Remember what I said in ‘The importance of building confidence’ – Self-esteem has a far greater impact than intelligence or ability! This is Paramount, so give them the confidence they need with some of these simple effective tips:

Toileting

It is really important to make sure that your child is confident about going to the toilet on their own. They will need to know how to: lock and unlock doors, undo and do up their pants and other clothing, get onto the toilet by themselves, wipe their bottoms correctly, turn taps on and off, and wash and dry hands. Your child may already be doing all of this on their own but if not, make sure they begin now as you won’t be around at school and they need to be able to do this without you.

Dressing and Undressing

There will be times when your children will need to change for swimming, sport or even just the weather e.g putting a jumper/cardigan on and off. Let them dress themselves every morning and undress at night (if they don’t already) so that they can get the hang of it and feel completely secure by the time they start school.

Drinks and Lunches

Some children may have been making their own lunches since the age of about two and a half but if they haven’t, don’t panic. Children of five years of age are quite capable of making a sandwich and putting some fruit, yoghurt or whatever your child has for lunch into a lunch box. But even before they can do all of this, it is essential that your child is able to easily open and close the lunch box, plastic/foil wrappers, drink bottles, poppers, yoghurt containers, and eat fruit/vegetables without it having to be peeled or chopped. Also make sure that you or your child check that there is a spoon for the yoghurt or fork for rice etc so that your child does not panic when they get to lunch and there are things missing. All of this helps them to feel secure and less anxious about meal times at school.

General hygiene and Self help

Anything you can teach your child to do for themselves will make them feel more secure. Things that we take for granted like being able to: blow their own nose and wash their hands afterwards, wash hands before lunch or after outdoor or messy activities, hang their coat on a hook, put on and take off their own shoes, pack and unpack their bags etc, will all help them to feel more confident.

Manners and Communication

Saying please and thank you was once taught in each and every home but these days some adults have forgotten about basic courtesy and manners, so therefore they do not teach their children any. It’s really important that your child learns some basic manners and communication skills. This will help them in all aspects of life but particularly with meeting new people. Firstly practice good manners yourself by saying please and thank you and also by sharing, caring and turn taking etc, and then help your child learn these skills. Go through some scenarios of asking other children to play or if you can borrow something from another child etc, and role play what they could say. Be an open communicator yourself and ask your child how they feel about starting a new school. Do they have any concerns or is there anything they are unsure of? What are they really looking forward to about their new school? Then answer their questions as honestly and reassuringly as you can. This will help them to communicate with others and share their feelings.

Planning and Organisation

Teach them about planning and organising so that they are able to unpack and pack their bags and organise what they will need for the next day. Talk to them about the general sequence of the day and again ask them if they have any concerns or anything they would like to find out more about? Then answer all their questions. Read my previous post: Help your child achieve their dreams for 2015! For more information on how you can help your child plan and get organised.

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Some other ways to help your child feel more secure and excited about starting big school:

•Let them make simple choices and be in control of the things that they can be in control of such as picking a new lunch box, drink bottle, pencil case, pencils etc and get them to tick these off a list. Then let them set out the things they will need for the first day. This will help them feel more enthusiastic and that they have some control.

•Visit the school and point out the swings or new classrooms etc to help children feel more familiar with the new environment.

•Start going to bed a bit earlier about a week or two before school begins. Wake your child up around 10 minutes earlier than usual and let them go to bed 10 minutes earlier each night until you have the timing right for school term.

•Find out about drop off and pick up so that you know how long you can stay the first day or if it is recommended that you leave quite quickly. Make sure you plan ahead how you will say goodbye and talk to your child about this. Will you give a quick kiss and hug and say goodbye or will you stay and wait a while until your child feels settled? Think about what your child needs. This way your child will also know what is going to happen that first day and not feel as nervous.

•If you can meet some of the other children before school starts, you might like to organise a meet and greet play time. But if not, it doesn’t matter as they will meet new friends soon enough once school starts.

•Read some good books about starting school such as: I Am Too Absolutely Small For School by Lauren Child; First Grade Jitters by Robert Quackenbush; Sam and Gram and the First day of School by Dianne Blomberg; or When you go to Kindergarten by James Howe.

Remember, school is supposed to be fun! Yes you are supposed to go there and learn but most of us who have been there and beyond realise that most of your learning actually happens after you leave school, so don’t take it all too seriously. If your child is happy, meets some friends and learns how to read, write and do a little maths then that’s all that really matters – They have a lifetime to learn the rest! Read all my previous posts to find out more about how you can positively guide your child throughout their school lives and beyond, plus stay tuned for more information on how you can do this.

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Happy Guiding

from

Darling Precious Children

Planning and Goal Setting for 2016 with your Children

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The New Year brings new beginnings! It’s an exciting blank page in the next enthralling chapter of your child’s life.  A book in which you have the wonderful opportunity of enhancing with so many fresh and different lessons and experiences.  So what will you do in 2016 to help make it a fulfilling and potential reaching one for child? How will you help them become the best version of themselves that they can become at this time in their lives?  These are questions you can ask yourself and focus on as you move into and throughout 2016. A great place to begin is with teaching your child about goal setting and planning, so here are a few ideas on how you could do this.

Buy your child a planner or calendar

Any child from about the age of four can be taught the basics of planning. The best way to do this is with a calendar/planner or a one page to a month diary.  There are so many lessons they can learn from this and these are just a few:

Firstly, they are learning about organisation. They can mark important events such as sports day, library day, piano lessons, etc into their diary/calendar so that the night before each event they can prepare everything they will need the next day.  This not only gives them some independence but helps to develop their confidence and autonomy. It also teaches them the lifelong skill of planning and being organised, which they will need in all aspects of their lives.

Secondly, they are learning the names and order of the days and months of the year.  This is a huge lesson in itself and makes the experience so visual and real that it is far easier to understand than being taught verbally in an intangible lesson. 

Thirdly, they are learning about the order of events.  The calendar/diary gives them a visual cue in which they can look and see what is coming up and when.  This not only helps them with putting events in order but also develops their understanding of timing and time.  It is the prequel to learning about time in accordance to hours and minutes.

Fourthly, but no less importantly is the development of security and peace of mind that the knowledge of timing and order of events brings.  If children know what is coming up and when, they feel far more secure and confident than if they have no idea what is going to happen on the day or days ahead.

It is for all these reasons and many more incidental or consequential teachings that it is a great idea to introduce and encourage your child to use a diary/calendar in 2015.

Help them set goals

Goal setting is really important for all of us but we tend not to realise how essential it is for children too.  Goal setting gives us purpose, direction and something to aim for –  and tantamount to that it gives us hope. 

Ask the children in your life what it is they would like to do in the coming year. Is there something they would like to learn or develop their skills at? Is there a place they would like to visit or something they would they like to save for? Well help them do it! Start from the goal and turn it upside down so that you are taking baby steps backwards. Get them to use their planner to map out how and when each step will take place.  Again this gives them visual cues with the added bonus of seeing when each step will take place, as well as the time frame for reaching their destination/goal.

For example, if your child wants to learn how to ride his/her bike without trainer wheels. Help them workout which days they are free to practice and then get them to write or draw a picture representing the event e.g. a bike on each of the days. On the first day you could write practice peddling forwards, then the next few could be practice steering, learning to use the brakes, and so on until these skills are mastered. When the trainer wheels are ready to come off there will be lots more skills to learn in order to balance and these can be broken down into steps accordingly.

Remember, half the fun of being a child is living spontaneously so I definitely do not suggest planning every minute of their lives, just a few essential moments of their week – make it light hearted and fun! Keep working on planning and goal setting with the special children in your life throughout the year to help them develop skills that will last them a lifetime and will benefit them more than you could possibly imagine!

Happy guiding and a magical heart filled 2016,

from

Darling Precious Children

Sparkly Christmas Baubles 2015

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What you will need:  foam ball, coloured paint, paint palette/container, plastic cup, plastic wrap, paint brush, glitter paint/glue, plastic tablecloth or newspaper to cover surfaces and a variety of the sparkliest sparkles you can find e.g stars, sequins, etc. 

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Step 1 – Cover your surface area with newspaper or a plastic tablecloth and get out everything you will need to make your Sparkly Christmas Bauble. Then place plastic wrap fairly loosely over the rim of your plastic cup and let your foam ball sit securely on the plastic wrap.

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Step 2 – Hold onto the plastic cup and use it as a stand for your foam ball as you paint one side of the foam ball in your favourite Christmas colour paint.  Then turn the ball over and paint the other side.  Leave it to dry for a few hours or overnight and then repaint one side – letting it dry –  and then turn it over to paint the other side again. Leave it for a few hours or overnight once again to make sure it is completely dry.

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Step 3 –  Use the plastic cup and plastic wrap once again to help hold the foam ball. Then put some glitter glue paint into a paint palette/container and generously paint one side of the ball with glitter glue paint.

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Step 4 – Using your fingers, carefully sprinkle or gently place some of your sparkliest sparkles all over one side of your glitter glue covered foam ball and let them sink in and stick.

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Step 5 – After one side has completely dried turn the foam ball over and repeat step 4 on the other side. Then let the bauble completely dry again.

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Step 6 – When the bauble is completely dry, press a piece of tinsel pipecleaner into the top at two points, making a hanging loop.

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Your Sparkly Christmas Bauble is complete and ready to sprinkle its Christmas magic, so place it where everyone can see it and feel the magic sparkle of Christmas!  Not only will your darling precious children love making these but they are also developing their fine motor skills, creativity, and an appreciation for all things sparkly : )

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Happy guiding and a magical sparkly Christmas

from,

Darling Precious Children

Spring Cleaning With Your Children!

Darling Precious Children

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There is so much that I love about Spring – the weather warming up, the flowers blooming, the return of butterflies and lady beetles, and the sense of new beginning that it brings. Part of the new beginning is systematically taking stock of where you are heading on your journey and assessing if it is where you want to be. Another huge part is clearing the bogged down Winter feeling by Spring Cleaning! It is not only physically cleansing but also spiritually. There is nothing quite like getting rid of clutter you don’t need and beautifying your environment to make you feel more peaceful and happy.

Children also hugely benefit from being part of a big Spring clean and there are so many ways that they can help. In my twenty years of working with children, I have seen how much they really love to get in there and help when given the…

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Reading For Life!

Darling Precious Children

reading for lifeReading is without a doubt the most important academic skill you will ever learn. Why? Because – If the only thing you ever learnt at school was to read then that would be enough to self-educate yourself for the rest of your entire life! It’s not that learning maths, science, sport etc is not valuable or essential but they are not as imperative as learning how to read.  If you know how to read you can teach yourself how to do absolutely anything you want to just by using the internet, or reading books, magazines, journals e books etc.  No other academic skill can do that! Studies have shown that children who are read to each night and who have parents who read often, are more likely to enjoy reading themselves and to view books as an essential and valuable part of their life!

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Reading is really important for many…

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The benefits of letting your children set the table

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Setting the table

It is really important for children to help take care of their home environment. Setting the table is just one of the many ways that children can do this.  Not just because it helps their parents, but because it is their home too and it teaches them life long skills that they will need. Here are just some of the wonderful things that your child develops by setting the table:

  • Respect – for their family, environment, and for themselves.
  • Discipline and Responsibility – It is their important job and they need to remember to do it each day.
  • Pride – feeling proud of how great they have made the table look and also that they have helped their family.
  • Maths – counting how many people will be having dinner, then counting the same amount of chairs, plates, glasses, knives, forks, spoons, napkins, and so on.
  • A feeling of Belonging – being part of a family and an environment.
  • Independence – learning valuable skills so that they can do them for themselves.
  • Confidence – mastering tasks and feeling like they have achieved something.
  • Self-esteem – they have been entrusted to do this important job for the family and in turn they feel good when they look at what they have accomplished.

Some handy tips to remember:

  • Praise them, because everyone likes acknowledgement . This doesn’t mean giving them a medal because they have done their job, it is as simple as saying ‘Thank you the table looks great.’
  • Put plates, cups, cutlery, napkins etc somewhere that is easily accessible for children.
  • If children are very young, get them to put out forks and napkins and leave the breakable or sharp items for an adult or older child to do.
  • Make this their job so that there is an expectation that they do it each night. Of course this can be flexible if they are busy doing homework one night etc, but try to get them to stick to it as much as possible.

This is just a start to helping in the home, but it has many benefits, so give it a go!

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Happy Guiding,

From

Darling Precious Children

10 Fun Rainy Day Activities!

Rainy days can become stressful for children and parents as they try to keep entertained day after rainy day. Here are some activities that I love, which will help to make those long rainy days much more enjoyable. And the best bit – you don’t have to buy anything because most of these activities are free!

Mini Bowling

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If you don’t already have a mini Ten Pin Bowling set –  then make one! All you need are ten plastic bottles and a ball. If you would like to make them a little more colourful you can either paint them or fill them with coloured water. Then set them up in a corridor and  the whole family can play for hours. Great for learning to aim, turn take and getting some exercise!

Making Puzzles

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Puzzles are not only wonderful for learning about patterns, shapes, sorting, matching, cognitive and fine motor development but are also lots of fun.  Pull out all the puzzles you own that are age appropriate for your children and then see how many you can do. Even better – make your own! Collect cereal boxes, old calendar pages, magazine pictures, photos of your family or draw a picture. If they are not on thick paper, glue them onto a piece of cardboard and draw a jig saw pattern on the back then help your child cut it out.  This will keep them amused for ages!

Bake Cupcakes

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Rainy winter days make me want to eat sugar and although cupcakes are only a ‘sometime food’ – weekends are the perfect time to treat yourself and your children! Use your favourite recipe or use a good quality packet mix. I like Greens butter cake or vanilla cake mix but there are many to choose from. Then with some food colouring, lollies, sprinkles and other edible treats, you can turn your cupcakes into anything that your imagination allows. Lots of skills to be learnt too but especially how to cook and develop creativity. Enjoy!

Magnetic and Non-Magnetic

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This activity is so much fun! All you need is a magnet and children will be entertained for hours. The best way to do this is to get three bowls. Put a sign on one that says NM for non-magnetic and a sign on the second one that says M for magnetic. Then get your children to collect as many small items that they can find from around your house and place them in the middle bowl.  Your child can pick up one item at a time from the middle bowl and place the magnet on it. Explain that if it sticks to the magnet it is magnetic and if it doesn’t then it is not. Show them how to place the item in the appropriate bowl. This a wonderful sorting activity as well as teaching about magnets.  As an alternative or extra activity, get your child to experiment with the magnet in each room of the house, finding out what is magnetic and what is not. Have a great time experimenting and exploring!

Build

Build

Building is fantastic for fine motor, hand-eye coordination, imagination, creativity and so many other wonderful skills. You can build using lots of fancy store bought construction sets such as Duplo, Lego, Mega blocks etc. Or you can collect many different sized and shaped boxes, cardboard pieces and rolls to use for your creation. Then children can spend time decorating with pencils, crayons, fancy paper, paints and whatever items you have at home. And after that they can play with whatever they have built. Hours of enjoyment to be had!

Collage

Collage

Another fantastic creative activity and you can you use anything you want! All you need is some paper or cardboard, some glue and anything you can find to create with. Some colourful ideas are: coloured pom poms, patty pans, cotton balls, glitter, paddle pop sticks, lolly wrappers, essence (to add different smells), wool, shredded paper, different textured and coloured papers, magazines, old cards and so on. The possibilities are endless so get creating with your kids and make an amazing collage!

Board Games

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Most people have several board games in their cupboard that they don’t use often enough but board games can provide so much entertainment and wonderful bonding family time. There are so many skills children can learn from playing board games – especially as part of a family. They learn to share and take turns as well as understanding rules and how to play games. In addition to playing store bought games, children can make their own. First get them to think about what the aim of the game will be and then help them write out a set of rules about how the game will take place and what will happen step by step. Once the rules and directions have been written in a draft you can get creative and make the actual board and pieces needed to play your own game. Family, family and more beautiful family time!

Read Books

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Reading is one of the most wonderfully amazing things anyone can do – and not only on rainy days! Find books that your children will love and you will be giving them one of the best gifts possible. There are so many fantastic books out there for children that I could not even begin to list them. Visit your local library or book store and choose a variety of fiction and non fiction, picture books, and novels that you can read to your children or that they can read to themselves depending on their age and reading ability. Get them to make their own as well! At a younger age you can get them to tell you what to write and you can write the words  to match their pictures but older children can most definitely create their own books.   Books and reading are more special and important than I can even say so make them a big part of your child’s life!

Playdough

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There are many different types of playdough you can buy from a store and a variety of shapes, cutters and utensils you can use with your playdough but it is also lots of fun to make. For playdough that is a little more interesting, try adding glitter, seeds, beans, sand, salt or essence for a more textured amazing feel, look and smell.  Then get out some cups, cookies cutters, knives, forks and pastry cutters for hours of fun playdough play.  Find my fantastic playdough recipe at:

https://darlingpreciouschildren.com/2013/01/13/letter-play-and-sound-dough/

Jump Puddles

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This one is super easy and lots and lots of fun plus a great gross-motor activity! Put on your gum boots, rain coat, rain hat and get an umbrella if you want. Find a puddle of water …or lots of them and jump jump jump till your heart’s content. Adults too. If you have forgotten how to have fun on a rainy day I’m sure your children will remind you : )

Happy Guiding

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Lots of rainy day fun!

from,

Darling Precious Children