Vital Tips For Helping Your Child Succeed At Home School

Depending on where you live in the US – or in the world for that matter – back to school this year could look very different to normal. While we all hoped that the pandemic would have died down enough by now for normal service to have been resumed, the truth is simply that is not the case. This means your vital guidance for your kids as they adapt to either a fully at-home school semester, or some sort of hybrid system, is going to be even more important now than it was when schools first shutdown back in the spring.

Part of this mentor status is going to be putting your child in a position to succeed in his or her studies. One easy thing to get wrong Is the workspace that they are allocated. It is important to get that workspace in a consistent environment that is away from distractions and that feels like a separate space from where the child would usually watch TV or play video games. This draws a line in the sand as to when it is school time and when it is play time.

The biggest mistake, however, is one that is easily fixable and that is the make-up of your child’s desk.

While sticking your child at the end of the dining room table may seem like a good solution, you will find you get far more productivity out of the school day by having an actual desk. The key here is to make sure the desk and chair setup is the correct height to provide the best learning experience.

According to occupational therapist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Todd Levy, “If our feet are hanging, it’s not good for circulation, and if they’re able to swing their legs, it can be distracting.  If needed, put a game box or something solid beneath them.”

Levy also notes that being flexible with your child taking breaks to change position is important. This is especially true for younger children who will need vital guidance about how and when to work as they are distracted so easily. Consider using an exercise ball for periods as a seat instead of a traditional desk chair as the extra movement your child gets will keep them more focused while also giving those core muscles a workout. An option for a desk that converts into a standing space is also a good idea if possible as the transitions between sitting and standing will both give them more focus and also make sure their posture isn’t ruined by sitting at a weird angle all day long.

Making school feel like school is important. This includes the desk space but also carries over to other areas. Having an area to store supplies – be they textbooks or crafting items – will make home feel more like school. A backpack is an ideal item for this as you can have them grab it and carry it around the house – or even down the street – at the beginning and end of the day to create the illusion of school while keeping their supplies all in one place.

Cellphone use is a tricky one. The social aspect of school needs to be maintained but have them do this during breaks in the studies rather than giving phone access the entire day. “Have time scheduled and a separate space where students can stay connected with their friends to keep those social connections,” says Levy. “But it’s really important to keep devices that aren’t related to school away from the workspace.”

Other aspects to take into account include the lighting of the space – especially if they are working in a den or basement area – and letting your kids decorate their ‘school’ as they see fit. Making the stand-in study location somewhere they are comfortable – and that they want to visit – will result in fewer arguments over the time they are spending studying over the course of the school year.

Article by Vital Guidance

Top 10 Family Fun Ideas For Summer 2020

Some parts of the country are already done with school for the year. Others will follow suit in short order. Memorial Day marks the start of the summer in much of the country – especially in the Midwest – so families are now working on the changeover from a Covid-19 interrupted school year into a Covid-19 interrupted summer vacation.

This is a summer that is going to require a lot of vital guidance and help both from parents to kids and kids to parents. Many summer vacations – especially those that would have taken families out of the country – have had to be postponed or cancelled because there are no flights. This summer is going to be one where it is what you make of it.

To help with the boredom – and the problems of finding things to do – here are 10 ideas that could be the start (or the entirety) of a Summer 2020 bucket list to give you the vital help you need in finding things to do (mostly) at home:

  1. Backyard Camping:  A classic for a reason. This is a great way to bond with your children outdoors, yet in the comfort of your own backyard. Modify to an indoor tent if you don’t have any yard space.
  1. Cook Together:  Teaching kids how to cook is an essential life skill. This summer, show them how to cook fresh ingredients and have them pick out recipes they want to try to get them eating new things.
  1. A Sidewalk Chalk Gallery:  Have kids on the same street or in a neighborhood draw their very best pieces of sidewalk chalk art. Then – while distancing – walk with the kids around the neighborhood and find out what they like about each piece of art.
  1. Fly a kite:  There is a reason that it feels a little bit like the 1950s right now. Jump into that nostalgia run and teach your kid the simple joys of flying a kite. The bonus here is that there are huge kite festivals in the US every year, so in 2021 aim to visit one of those if you both develop a passion for catching the wind.
  1. Backyard Movie Night:  Drive-in theatres are always fun, so recreate that magic in your own backyard. All you really need is a projector, a white sheet/wall, and a DVD player/speakers. Add in popcorn and some old fashioned sodas for a throwback evening of entertainment.
  1. Make S’mores:  S’mores are an American classic, but you would be shocked how many kids don’t even know what they are. Get a fire pit going in the backyard and show them with vital guidance what they have been missing out on with the gooey marshmallow treats.
  1. Create a nature garden:  This can be as simple as planting a few flowers that are known to attract butterflies or as technical as buying (or even making) a birdbath or squirrel feeders. Make sure to go to the nature garden at various times of day – and look under the rocks – to see what the kids can find.
  1. A Virtual Summer Camp:  Sure. It is not the same as going to an actual camp, but there are many programs out there setting up virtual camps to entertain and educate kids this summer. DIY Summer Camp and Camp Wonderopolis are just two examples of this trend.
  1. Water Games:  Be it a Slip ‘N Slide, an above ground pool, a water balloon fight, or running through the sprinklers, the summer demands water. As having friends over might not be an option, dial back the years and become a kid again by joining in with the fun.
  1. Bike Ride and Picnic:  This is going to be the best summer yet to spend time doing nothing while exploring the outdoors. Pack up a picnic lunch and burn the energy for your meal by biking to and from a park or other socially distant space to eat.

 

Article by Vital Guidance

Kids Need Your Vital Guidance During & After Pandemic

Good mental health is a struggle for all of us during the Covid-19 lock down. We have all lost things we love to do – be that simply going for a drink with friends or playing sports competitively – and that disruption to the norm is taking its toll on how people are able to get through their days. While this is an issue for people of all ages, it is children that really need the best vital guidance that you can give at this point as we continue to navigate through uncharted waters in life.

While adults are – for the most part – fully emotionally and mentally developed, the same cannot be said for your children. Overnight our kids were expected to be able to adjust from thinking about the next sporting event they would play in or the next play date they would go on, to being in a lock down situation with no idea when they would be able to see their friends again.

While this is mitigated somewhat by technology, just imagine where we would be as a global society if this had happened 20 years ago. Face-timing a friend isn’t the same as being able to go to the mall or the movies. This pandemic is stripping kids – specifically tweens and teenagers – of emotional development that they will need to be able to grow in a post-pandemic world.

The good news is that with the right vital guidance most kids will turn out alright. This is the view of most economists and psychologists on the subject – despite their data sets being limited at this point. The best thing you can do as a parent during this time is to give your child a safe, stress free, and stable environment to live in. Young kids will bounce back quicker – they will feel less pressure and stress from the situation – and encouraging interaction without being pushy is a really important parenting technique to master if your child starts to seem withdrawn.

Tighter finances, food shortages, and job losses are all stressful. Those vulnerable families are the ones that are likely to see their children become more withdrawn – for any number of reasons – and as such they are the families that will rely on vital guidance both now and after the pandemic,

Kids are resilient by nature and most will find a way to adapt and roll with the punches. Just try to be a little extra aware at the moment – even with the pressures put on you as a parent during this time – of exactly how your kids are doing and what state their mental health is in.

Article By Vital Guidance

Quarantine Life Allows Parent To Teach Life Lessons

With more and more school districts closing in America by the day a parents role as a vital mentor in the life of their kids has changed. We talked earlier this month about ways to create fun activities for your kids during their extended summer break, but there is more you can do during this time of uncertainty to embrace that leadership role.

You have likely not had one-on-one access like this with your child in years. This is true no matter the age of your children as the combination of working from home and no school means that you are interacting all day long with each other. As a result, it may be the perfect time to impart some life lessons on your child that they may not otherwise have learned and picked up on until far later in life.

During this outbreak, have fun but also spend time wisely with family to help set your kids on the right path whenever we return to some semblance of normalcy.  Here are a few life lessons that you can show by being the best version of yourself in front of your children during what is a trying time for us all:

Staying Safe Online

Being inside as much as will be required over the next few months is going to see children spending even more time than normal online. This will come both in terms of their education – with schools using online teaching techniques and tools – and their free time. This is the ideal time to talk with your kids about online safety, being careful about who they talk to and how they act, and being sure to give a positive message about the online space if it is used correctly.

Self-sufficiency

The hope is that nothing like this will ever happen again and, that when it has blown over, the world will get back to how it was to some degree. The truth is though, that this has shaken the fabric of society around the world and as a result shops are lower on food than normal and household budgets have shrunk. This is an excellent time to teach the kids how to react in unusual situations. Teach them how to cook with limited ingredients and how to budget out a set amount of food for groceries when some of the obvious options are not available. Get creative in your vital role as a parent and show them how to be self-sufficient in a crisis.

Positivity

It’s hard to be positive in crisis situations, but as a leader of your family you need to be positive both for yourself and for your children. This is a lesson that you can teach and show your children right now, and this guidance will help them understand that being positive in the face of a crisis – be it personal or on a global scale – is vitally important in moving forward and making the most of life.  Controlling you level of kindness, your attitude, and remaining positive in the face of what seems like overwhelming negativity around us is going to have a profound impact on the growth of your child.

Article by Vital Guidance

Extra Long Summer Paves Way For Creative Parenting

Summer break can be a looooooong time with your kids depending on the region of the country you live in. Now, thanks to COVID-19 and school districts closing in droves across the nation, parents are caught with the prospect of a double-length summer break in 2020. Albeit, one in which the first half will involve helping their kids distance learn from their schools online.

With days, weeks and – potentially – months to fill away from friends, band, and sports lessons, it is easy to become overwhelmed by everything you are being asked to do. Boredom at home seems inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a time to get creative and that doesn’t mean sticking your kid behind an iPad for seven hours a day. Here are five things you can do at home to beat the COVID-induced boredom.

1 – Home gym
We aren’t talking Bowflexes and Pelotons here. Instead get super creative and give your kids a space to play in and work out with some physical exercise at the same time. Hot lava is an obvious choice here as it will allow your kids to exercise their minds and imagination along with jumping all over the place to stay off of the floor. Toss down some pillows, cushions, towels and such to create a mishmash of places where they can stand without being in the lava pit and let them have at it. For older kids, having a space for doing some core exercises will also help them with boredom.

2 – Educational cooking
Assuming that you can get your hands on food then a parent or older sibling can do some good things over this break with the younger kids. Food coloring is an obvious choice here as younger kids can learn about different colors in frosting, creating new colors right before their eyes. Alphabet soup – a classic – can be used to spell words before being cooked, while butting up and looking at fruit is always entertaining (especially if you can get your hands on some exotics). For older kids, allow them to make meals Chopped TV style or compete online with their friends.

3 – Play outside
Isolation doesn’t mean you have to stay inside four walls all the time. As it gets warmer outside look for yard and driveway activities that can be played. Sidewalk chalk projects are a great – and uplifting – way to spend a morning. Tossing balls and frisbees around are also great option that all ages can take part in. If you have a big enough garden or access to more land, then go exploring with your kids and see what critters – large and small – can be found.

4 – Go camping
Camping is always fun for the family. It is a way to get back to nature and to learn about the outdoors. As soon as the nights get warm enough then think about having a back yard camping night. This should include everything you would do on a normal camping trip such as getting out the grill, having a picnic, and letting the kids get as dirty as they like. The best part is that the shower is just yards away in the morning after a night spent under the local stars.

5 – LEGO Challenge
LEGO has become a big deal again. There is even a reality TV show based on LEGO challenges that has become a big hit on TV right now. LEGO is great for kids because it teaches them so much about planning ahead and problem solving. Get all the LEGO you have in the house and create some sort of challenge based around it. Maybe a themed build or something similar. Set a timer and then – nicely – judge the entries. Maybe combine this with some of their friends online for a bigger tournament of champion’s style event!

Our current pandemic situation is not ideal, but it is the perfect time to be together and have fun with the people you love. Stay safe!

Article by Vital Guidance

Four Ways To Encourage & Make Reading Fun For Your Child

It is vital to get your kids on the right path about reading, encouraging them to read as a choice and a hobby as opposed to forcing them to do so like it is an extension of school.  The problem is that getting kids to put down their tablet and pick up a book in this digital age is not easy.

Knowing that reading is important to help kids with their language and comprehension skills, here are a few ways to make them more likely to pick up a good book as opposed to watching another video on their device:

Make reading fun

Digital reading is ok at a push, but that just feels like an extension of time on the tablet as opposed to something new and different. Books are great, but the traditional style book that you may have loved as a kid – and may still now – isn’t the only type of reading material that your kids should be introduced to.

A good mentor knows that magazines – yes, they still exist – are a great way to get your kids to read as their short format story style really fits in with the way information is consumed in the modern age. Graphic novels are another amazing source of reading material for kids, with this type of book now popping up in every genre imaginable as they have become more popular over the last couple of decades.

Find a series they love

Harry Potter made this easy for a generation, with each of the books being multiple weeks’ worth of reading material for people of the right age. While Potter is still a good option, there are hundreds of series reads out there that will interest your child immediately into reading more as soon as they are hooked on the general premise.

Reading the first book of a series together is also a great idea to get your child started. You could even read the book out loud at first if they need a little more encouragement to get involved. Any pastime that you can share together is a good thing.

Don’t pressure it but make time available

Kids lead busy lives. Often their lives are more busy than ours when you take into account school, band, athletics, and any other one of the millions of activities they have available to them. It’s not a good idea to sit your child down, and command it’s time to read unless you’re out of option as this makes reading feel like a chore and that is the last thing kids want to do.

Instead, make sure there is no pressure on your child to read. Make it relaxing and enjoyable and free from the pressures they would feel at school.  Be available in case your child needs help with a word or a concept and, be engaged in what they are questioning.

Create a reading nook

If reading has its own special place then reading will happen. Kids love a space to themselves for every activity, so create a reading nook or area that they will want to be in. Make sure that books and other reading materials are available nearby and watch as a child who use to dislike reading at home quickly becomes an avid reader thanks to the rearrangement of a few pillows and blankets in the house.

Article by Vital Guidance

Keep Your Kids Feeling Loved With These Tips

Children are susceptible to feeling a wide-array of emotions, some great and others painful. They have not fully developed their self-esteem, persona, and social skills.  It is vital to them that the adults in their lives provide the guidance to increase their confidence.

“Our goal is to convey unconditional love through focused attention with clear limits and boundaries that will allow them to tolerate the inevitable breaks in our attention,” Dr. Laura Kauffman, Ph.D., a licensed child psychologist points out.  It might sound difficult but there are ways to make it easier.

Sustain eye contact

You may feel that dividing your attention between your child and some work doesn’t affect your listening but in actuality, it can make your child believe he comes second.  Whenever your child wants to share something with you, put down what you are working on and pay him your full attention. If you can’t put a pause on what you are doing, say so. Tell your child you’ll have to conclude your task before giving him your full attention.

Make a point of asking caring questions

Move beyond cliché questions like “how were classes” and go for the real deal with pointed questions that prove that you invested in the going ons of your kid’s life.  Ask them about a character in their favorite TV show or ask him about a hobby he just picked up. This allows you to gain insight into your kid’s growing personality and creates a bond between you both.

Show affection

Many parents don’t realize how important it is to be affectionate physically. Research by Kathleen M. Krol and Tobias Grossmann show that breastfeeding promotes bonding between mother and child. This occurs because of the contact between both of them, proving the necessity for physical contact in building attachment. Healthy attachment allows the child to develop a properly functioning sense of self. Child trends, a non-profit research organization correlates warmth and affection between a parent and a child with fewer psychological and behavioural problems.

Enjoy family meals

Studies point at the benefits of having family meals regularly. Sharing dinner together is a wonderful opportunity to spend uninterrupted time together. Everyone has got to eat in the day, so this is an activity you can train yourself and your children to see as being for enjoying each other’s company. Make sure mealtimes are device-free to maximize the interaction

Treat them with respect

It is so easy to ignore the fact that though they’re still growing, children are people, too. According to Tamara Hill, MS, a therapist specializing in child and adolescent behavioural and mood disorders: Showing them respect doesn’t only mean refraining from swearing at them or being rude. Though both are necessary to a healthy relationship, respect goes beyond that. It includes listening to them and appreciating their inputs so they can feel that they “make sense”. This allows them to learn reasoning and decision making.

Article by Vital Guidance

Limiting Sports Participation May Lead To Better Success

In an earlier article we looked at how generalization rather than specialization in young athletes can lead to greater success in sports. This generalization allows a child to try different sports and, more importantly, build up and use different muscle groups than they would if they dedicate themselves to just one sport too early.

It is not just specialization though that is causing a rash of injuries and a high degree of burnout in athletes at the youth level. There is also a big problem with the intensity of youth sports in our current athletic climate. This is where children will need your guidance to make the best decisions regarding their body and how much to push at certain ages to become a better player.

An interesting new article by Roni Caryn Rabin titles “Parents Should Limit Sports Participation for Children, Trainers Say,” looks to put some actual figures and data on how much sport children should be playing in any given week.

The basis of the paper, and its key statement – is that a child should only train in their sport an hour for every age of their life in a given week. So, if a child is 8-years-old, then their sporting limit for a week should be eight hours.

This is an interesting concept. It is not one that is going to be easy to implement or one that is likely to gain much initial traction. It does, however, open up a series of talking points about how this general guideline can be turned into vital help to stop kids from burning out to early by simply playing too much sport.

The key message here is that the information, while about children, has to be taken on and put into place by adults. The big worry in the US is that so many children are vying for that college scholarship light at the end of the tunnel that putting any kind of playing time restriction on them at a young age is going to be difficult. The key is to get out of the mindset that more equals better, perhaps spending some of the newly freed up time to work on a different, but equally important, piece of a child’s upbringing is just as good.

At the very least this advice can be used to work out how much structured sport a child should play. There is a big difference between the pressure of being coached and being trained every day compared to just throwing a ball around at home or down at the park. Mental pressure is a huge reason for burnout and the vital guidance of keeping a child on a manageable coaching regime should not be ignored.

Changing a the narrative regarding the intensity of youth sports is never going to be easy, but concepts that target the amount of intense sport a child plays at each age is an excellent starting point.

Article by Vital Guidance

Toys That Aid Learning & Creativity In Kids

Chances are you’ve happened upon a kid with an intense look of glee, concentration or adorable frustration while playing with a toy.  This just shows how deeply they are affected by these play things.  Many adults tend to view toys as just play things and temporary baits to keep young ones distracted, but we fail to realize that play time is one of the many ways a child learns. Playing offers kids a safe avenue to experiment and act out their curiosities about the real world without placing themselves in any danger. Experts say that games and toys stimulate make-believe play, motor and cognitive skills are vital for children at all stages of development. Here are some examples of some toys that’ll turn playtime into a fun learning experience:

LEGO BLOCKS

Lego blocks are the ultimate construction for a simple reason: they are only limited by imagination. Lego blocks give kids an avenue to turn abstract thoughts into physical creations and constantly challenge them to think differently to come up with new designs. Other construction toys include Lincoln logs, Duplo and Playdough.

MUSICAL TOYS

Musical toys play soothing melodies that can stimulate your child’s brain development. Children of all ages enjoy games that have catchy tunes, introducing them to these at a young age nudges them to identify familiar tunes and stems brain activity. New technology now allows kids to play music on video games and toy instruments that mimic real ones, this paved the way for learning to play real instruments in later years.

REALISTIC TOYS

An interesting way of helping kids learn through toys is by getting them realistic toys of every-day items that are just their size, something like a toy broom! Use it to teach them how to sweep and keep the floor tidy. Another idea is getting them a little rake which then can use to “play” or help out in the garden. Why not get them a small version of cooking utensils like a mini little pans, measuring cups, and some small bowls? They can help with their small appliances while also having fun.

With these options you will be teaching them daily activities and giving them some vital guidance on them.

THEME SETS AND DRAMATIC PLAY

Themed play and dramatic play provide kids with an opportunity to interact with real world items and become familiar with them. Toys such as grocery store cash registers, ATM machines, play food sets, and play doctor sets are all fun and educational. Theme sets help kids to understand the world and motivate them to learn more.

STUFFED TOYS AND DOLLS

Have you seen a child tenderly caring for a teddy bear or toting around a stuffed animals? Children usually become very attached to their stuffed animals, and this creates a safe environment for learning how to deal with basic emotions and relationship skills when they talk to their toys. Puppets are classic fun. Best of all, these toys provide children with an easy way to act out all their favorite stories.

Article by Vital Guidance

Kids Get Sports Injuries From Specializing Too Soon

At one time there was a school of thought that the best way to ensure your child excelled in a sport was to push them to play that particular sport as early – and as often – as possible. That is how we ended up in a world of traveling baseball and volleyball teams all year round. It is why we still see kids in Canada playing in different regional hockey leagues every three or four months, staying with host families to do so. This is just how sports are supposed to be at the elite youth level.

Recently, though, this concept has come in for plenty of criticism. Ideas that were once thought to be a healthy way of pushing your kids forward in a sport have become old fashioned as more and more research has come out saying that this early specialization does nothing but physically hurt kids. The only real surprise here is just how long it took someone to say that abusing developing bodies with the same physical motions day after day and month after month was doing far more harm than good.

Using the same motion over and over is simply bad for the body. Overuse injuries are seeing kids as young as 12 or 13 in operating rooms needing surgeries on worn-out shoulders and ACL tears. Intense training in this way leads to these apparent injuries, but it can also lead to mental burnout. A sport that was fun at seven or eight can become something a child has no interest in pursuing by 11 or 12 if that is the only sport that they are allowed to participate in.

The answer here is quite obvious – diversification.

Sports should be fun. So let your child have fun. While some see specialization as the only route to a college scholarship, the truth is that by playing different sports you are giving your child the right guidance to succeed both on the field, and in life.

In 1993 professor Andres Ericsson wrote a paper that suggested to become an expert you had to put 10,000 hours of deliberate practice into it. This is a theory that was aimed at musicians, not at athletes. Unfortunately, the method has become the cry of parents who look to specialize their kids in a sport, no matter what more recent research has advised.

“We know pretty definitively that early specialization in sports is not good. It does predispose younger athletes to what we call overuse injury,” said Jonathan Shook, a sports medicine physician with OrthoIndy a sports medicine facility in Indianapolis. “We highly discourage it.”

Playing different sports work different muscle groups. Shooting a ball in soccer is different from a single-leg takedown in wrestling which is different from a tackle in football. To help child become a better athlete, it is vital to train all their muscles to function and work together. Overworking one muscle group to the detriment of others doesn’t do that.

One muscle that especially needs work is the brain. Throwing a fastball over and over and over is mentally taxing. However, if that pitcher also has to think about making a bounce pass as a basketball point guard and his footwork as a quarterback, then he or she will have a much more rounded ability to problem solve in any life situation.

Specialization can hurt young athletes. Given the right guidance, however, a diversified bank of sports will allow youngsters to compete for a college scholarship in their chosen sport when the right time to specialize crops up.

Article by Vital Guidance