Lately, my mom friends and I have been trying to brainstorm ways to include our children in service opportunities.
We made homeless care packs together and we introduced it by teaching a little lesson on The Good Samaritan. It was special to pray with the kids and ask God to give us eyes for those in need, and to feel prepared if we see someone in need.
As I started to try to brainstorm more ways we could serve. I thought about my friend Deb who started a little group called “Superheroes of Kindness.” They have served in our community in so many ways. As Deb plans the outings, she keeps it age-appropriate and makes it a priority to be servant-minded. So, I asked her to fill me in on more details and here is what Deb shared with me:
“WOW!! This is my first blog post ever and I am thrilled about the subject Super Heroes of Kindness. I am the Children’s Coordinator at University Baptist Church, and missions for children is my pet. There are so many opportunities out there, but many parents stop and think I am not sure if my child is ready for that. It is definitely important that we find developmentally appropriate opportunities and provide them early so we keep their attention.
I wish I could say Super Heroes of kIndness was by brain child. We were already involved in service opportunities at the church, but they were sporadic and under the umbrella of the church missions programs. So, I wanted to create something that was child-centered and a regular part of young children’s spiritual growth. One day while flipping through Facebook posts, an old college friend posted a picture of her daughter with her classmates. They were on an outing to do good and were wearing super hero capes with little hearts on them… BAM! The light came on and I stole the idea, others had stolen it too.
We now have a Super Heroes of Kindness activity once a month, the 3rd Saturdays during the school year and varying dates in the summer. The kids love it.
We normally gather at the church in the morning. We have coffee and a light breakfast is served during the gathering time. Kids learn about what we are doing, who we are visiting, and how the issues matter to the day’s activity. A variety of mediums are used including games, story time, art, gardening and music. We then head out on an adventure that gives back or says thanks to members of the community. Assisted Living Centers, Pet Adoption Centers, Fire Stations, Church Service Workdays etc. There are so many opportunities… you just have to be creative and then ideas will POP! into your mind. Parents also provide suggestions. For example, one of our moms suggested each child do a community service activity on their own and then we share that experience at our next meeting. We are eager to hear these stories.
Super Heroes is open to members and non- members of UBC. We welcome families from our MDO program and always encourage the kids to bring a friend or a stranger. For our next event, we will be set up outside a Walmart collecting dry and canned goods for the Baton Rouge Food Bank’s Summer Drive. E-mail jessica (at) themommyteacher (dot) come if you have any questions for Deb or if you live in Baton Rouge and want to register your child. Kids can wear their own capes or one of ours. SHAZAMMMMMM! God Bless,”
Some ideas for those itching to get it going:
1) Bake cookies and deliver them to neighbors.
2) Paint flower pots and hand them out at a local assisted living home.
3) Bring root beers and Rice Krispie treats to a nurses station at a local hospital.
4) Bring children’s books to drop off at a children’s hospital.
5) Collect non-perishables to bring to a food bank.
6) Write thank you notes and drop them off at a police station or fire station.
Please comment if you have other ideas to give us ideas!!!!
After writing Monday’s post, I thought a little more about my tactics over the last few months to resolve so many of our conversations with my four year old that turn into “Poo-Poo Stink Face.” Sound familiar?
Since one of the first times I heard my son use a “potty word” I told him to go spit it in the potty.
I don’t like to rule out his favorite words entirely, but just giving him a designated space where he can let it all out has spared the rest of us from hearing them as often.
I have always been about CONTEXT: There is a time and a place for lots of things. Use wisdom here folks… if the future of a behavior leads to serious issues then avoid it all together! But, here are kid-friendly examples that I am talking about:
If my kids are climbing on me then I will say “You can climb on monkey bars, but not on mommy.”
If my kids are kicking: “You can kick a soccer ball, but not a person.”
If my kids are biting: “You can bite food, but not your brother’s finger.” (CHARLIE!)
You get the picture.
I don’t want them to GLORIFY any one word or behavior because of their lack of being able to use it.
So, I would rather give them a place to use it.
BUT, that then means that I have to follow up with my child:
Sternly, but calmly “Sean Patrick, that is a potty word. If you want to use that word you need to go to the potty and say it into the potty where no one else can hear it but the potty.
If he does it again, “Sean Patrick, what kind of word is that?” (Wait for him to tell me). “That’s right, and where does it belong?” (In the potty).
If he does it again, I would bring him to his room to “take a break.”
I know this is so silly to write an entire post about, but it has been encouraging to see that he is okay not using a word or behavior in other settings when he has a place to use it if he gets the itch to.
Now, when he gets around another silly, potty-word-using kiddo, all of my influence seems to go out the window, but… it just gives me a chance to remind him about our little family policy.
Where did the Spring go??? Summer crept up on me and has already been filled with vacations and summer camps. I have yet to have a single day where we are home long enough to even catch up on house chores, yet I need to organize our summer, like YESTERDAY, or else I will go bonkers. I need a plan and a calendar of events – that’s the teacher side of me – and a nap – that’s the exhausted Mommy side of me.
I have to say, our lack of a routine has brought out some pretty ugly behaviors in my kids (and myself unfortunately – just being honest here since we’re all friends), and I am going to put an end to that. So I am going to throw a lot at you guys at once so you can see our complete summer schedule, “school supply” list, and what we are learning this summer! If any of you are out there treading water like I am, I know that you’ll start floating along as soon as a schedule/routine/plan/ANYTHING is in place!
Here is our schedule for days that we don’t have anything planned:
1. TV goes off at 8 am
This gives Mommy enough time to wake up from my slumber, get the required amount of caffeine pumping through my system, and hopefully whip something like bowls of cereal up for breakfast (I am not a morning person).
This was a great idea by my friend, Kim! She sets aside worship time for her kids and they choose how they want to spend that time! They can create artwork, listen to music on a kid-friendly CD player, read their Bible, journal, dance, etc. It is a great way to instill personal time with the Lord as a necessity from an early age.
3. Outdoor play and snack
I am banking on no rainy days this summer! But if it does rain, we will probably pull out some toy bins that I will reserve for rainy days only. Other than that, you can catch us outside in the sprinkler!
4. Learning Activity and Lessons
More on this below!
5. Clean up and Chores
This summer I am introducing more chores to my 4 and 6 year old: sweeping, dishes, laundry, vacuuming, toilets, bathroom and more! Before they were helping out here and there, but now they will be carrying a lot more weight around the house. I do plan on having a daily schedule for this, but haven’t quite gotten that organized yet.
In my mind I have a picture of us all singing and making lunch together, but, let’s face it, I will be making lunch while they probably pull out all the toys they just picked up.
My boys have the option to either take a nap or have quiet reading time in their bed.
8. Designated Electronic Free Time
This time will be earned minute by minute this summer! More on that below.
After this, Daddy should be home from work and we will probably spend more time outside, working on dinner, and picking up for the evening.
This schedule will already have to start off really flexible as we have several weeks of camps and swim lessons that last the remainder of June, but at least my teacher self is more at ease with our plan.
SUMMER “SCHOOL SUPPLIES”
Now, that same teacher side of me also had to purchase some “school supplies” for this summer.
Big chart paper – the kids love when I teach and draw on here like we are in a real classroom!
Journal Notebooks – I am hoping that each day we will spend a few minutes either drawing pictures (my 4 year old) or writing a short journal entry (my 6 year old) to keep up these skills for when they enter Pre-K and 2nd grade in the fall.
Craft Supplies – these were all impulse buys that I will figure SOMETHING to do with them… pipe cleaners, card stock, a large roll of Kraft paper, colored clothespins (after I thought, “really, Casey? Was that a necessary purchase?”), markers, colored pencils and crayons
Behavior Chart supplies: dry/erase poster, PLAY MONEY (more on this later), stickers, and picture frames (not pictured)
Adventure supplies: magnifying glasses – my kids love to go exploring and we can only find one magnifying glass, so we got new ones.
Our crafts this summer will probably be super easy and consist mainly of card stock, pipe cleaners and random colored clothes pins (gee, I wonder why?). With our busy, unpredictable schedule this summer (is this how it is with older kids?!?), I will be creating on the fly!
THIS summer, however, I am switching things up a bit and we are going to focus on positive behaviors that we typically talk about here and there, but we will take the time to explore them in depth. These behaviors, or VIRTUES, will be taught and explored through role plays, crafts, songs (that we probably make up), journaling, drawing/painting, puppet shows, Bible verses and more!
GOOD BEHAVIOR + CHORES = ELECTRONIC FREE TIME
I am going to preface this part with a disclaimer: every one has different parenting skills and not every one will agree with the method that my husband and I have chosen for the summer as rewards for our children’s behavior and house duties.
Some people believe that you should not reward behavior with extrinsic motivators (stickers, toys, play money, etc.), but in our case, our children are really having a hard time listening the first time we tell them to do something. We are pulling this one specific trait out that we want to fix and will be rewarding them for listening the first time with $1 in play money. When they have successfully learned to do so, we will slowly replace the reward with high fives and positive talk.
Our goals for our reward system this summer are to teach about responsibility, positive behaviors, earning privileges and MATH: money and time. $1 corresponds with 1 minute of play time on their electronic entertainment of choice: video games, computer, or TV. This will help us enforce that these are all SPECIAL privileges, and that listening and behaving appropriately will help them earn those privileges.
Now, I feel SLIGHTLY more prepared for the summer! Do you have a summer schedule? Please share with us your plans!!!
LSU’s Mike the Tiger came to my son’s school the other day for a surprise birthday visit!
It was such a memorable experience for ALL of the children.
But, it actually could have been CRAZY and chaotic if I didn’t “think fast” and come prepared with a few ideas to keep the kids somewhat calm.
It could’ve turned into a bunch of injured kids or an injured Mike, but I always keep a few tricks up my sleeve.
Any time I am in front of a big group of kids, I always try to get them to do something along WITH me. So, here are my 5 top picks to fill wait -time or keep crowd control when you have a group of kids to organize.
1) “Silly Says” – Today we played “Mike Says” and everything he did, we had to do. I play this with kids a lot and I just play “Silly Says” – whatever silly thing I do, you do.
2) “Going on a Bear Hunt” – I was at the park once trying to keep the kids away from the sandbox and this chant did the trick!
3) “I Spy” – The classic game – I usually play it in a variety of ways. “I spy something shaped like…. I spy something that starts with…. I spy something the color…. I spy something that sounds like…. I spy something that rhymes with…” You get the picture.
4) “Mirror Fingers” – hold up the same number of fingers that I hold up in a different way.
5) “Imitate my Clap” – this is an old teacher-tactic where the kids simply have to listen and follow the beat that the leader makes.
A couple other easy ones:
1) Coordinate “Little Sally Walker” – you may have to YouTube it if you aren’t sure what that is.
2) Play “Man in the middle.” One person stands in the middle of a circle and throws the ball to someone on the outside (who can’t move their feet). Whoever catches it and follows the rules becomes the man in the middle.
3) Play “Duck, Duck, Goose!”
4) Sing “If you are Happy and You know it” – I always come up with lots of things to add to the song like “wag your tail, hop like a frog, roar like a lion, etc” STRETCH IT OUT! 🙂
For the last couple years I always sat back amazed at my sister Becca who would dissolve problems between our oldest children who are not even two days apart in age.
When our kids would fight over a toy she would start singing “You can take a turn, and then I’ll give it back” and they would almost immediately jump in singing and taking turns became a game.
When they got mad she would start singing “If you’re feeling mad and you want to roar… take a deep breath and count to four – 1 -2 -3- 4.” And they calmed down and started counting.
When we were about to leave the park she would sing, “It’s almost time to go, so choose one more thing to do. That was fun and now we’re through.”
I learned techniques similar to this in my under-grad and my teaching experience so I always sat back amazed that she would handle guidance in such an age-approriate way!
After about six months of enjoying her little songs, we finally discovered “Daniel Tiger” (The PBS TV show) I finally made the connection, calling my sister on the phone saying, “BECCA! Hahah I am just now figuring it out! I love it! You stole (“borrowed”) those guidance techniques from the show – you are so smart!”
It’s funny because experts help write kid-friendly series to make them educational and some people treat TV like it is the devil. Or, you feel like you are a bad parent if your kids watch TV – NOT TRUE! There are plenty of shows (especially on PBS kids) that are beneficial for kids – especially when you watch them, pause them, discuss them, dialogue with your kids about them, and even use some of the same tips in your parenting.
I tell Sean Patrick all the time not to take things out of someone else’s hands because he doesn’t want to be a swiper (Dora).
Or if he wants all the toys to himself I tell him to share like Jake not to be greedy like Captain Hook (Jake and the Neverland Pirates)
Here is a guidance song that I didn’t know as well, but it is something we experience every day with our little ones:
And here is another on feelings:
Are there any quotes/songs from TV shows your kids watch that have helped your parenting?