Thursday, April 19, 2018

Stop Bullying in Ten Seconds

Witnessing Bullying Can Be Damaging to Other Children
  While talking with young children about bullying they often share how upset and helpless they feel that no one comes forward to help. Adults are disappointed and hurt about this, too. They know witnessing bullying can be just as, if not more, damaging to the other children as the victims. Caregivers face a dilemma when children witness bullying – keeping the witnesses safe but wanting children to help stop the bullying. Experts have research results and advice to help.
Start Conversations
  A good time to talk with children about how to stop bullying is when they witness the act.  Bystanders have the most power to put an end to bullying! Three out of ten children are either a bully or a victim, which means seven out of ten children are witnesses. Caregivers of young children can empower those seven children to help stop bullying.
Talking To Children Helps: Bystanders
  When peers step in, bullying stops within ten seconds 57% of the time according to a study by Hawkins, Pepler and Craig. It makes sense to teach young children to be defenders.
   Talk openly about how to handle the situation to give children positive ways to deal with it. Children can understand what an important role they play as a bystander. Role play a situation where they have a chance to be the bystander and help them imagine how they would feel if they were being bullied. Ask what they would expect from others if they were the victim. Talk about how much it can hurt and why it is important to stop bullying. Encourage children to be kind to the victims and perhaps spend time with them.
Words and Actions
  Talk about how bullies love an audience. Help children find ways to take the audience away. They can encourage everyone to do a different activity or quietly walk away to find an adult.  Explain that they should never put themselves in the position to be bullied or not feel safe, however. Assure them it is “ok” to tell an adult, and it is the right thing to do.   Explain the difference between tattling (reporting unimportant things to get someone in trouble) and telling (reporting important events to keep someone safe).
Training Calms Children's Fears
 Without training young children are afraid to tell because they fear becoming the victim or that bullying may get worse.  Help children be assertive and confident. Practice saying loudly and forcefully, “No, we don’t like that!” or “Stop! What you are doing is bullying, and it isn’t right!”   Be sure your children understand to only speak up if they feel comfortable and safe to do that. Otherwise, get help. These skills help foster adults who will be involved, responsible, and caring members of society.
For more since 2009 (archived) see, Learning Through the Seasons, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Photos: Fran Darling, fdarling fotos 

Friday, April 6, 2018

Helping Children Look for Firsts and Lasts

Spring Is a Time of Firsts and Lasts
Spring is a time of first and lasts.  Since young children are natural scientist and detectives, searching for change during this time of year is a great game to play. They sharpen their observation, writing, and drawing skills. Searching and record keeping can take many forms.
Looking for Firsts
  Families can sit down together with a spiral notebook or papers staples together and think of signs of spring. Make a list of signs and predict the days they will occur.  If you want to bet, the winner can earn a silly reward or some serious money like a nickel.
  What will be on your list?  How about the first time a spot in your yard has no snow? When will the first robin or flock of birds, first rabbit, or first deer appear?  When is the first time you can visit the park and go down the slide? When will the snow be entirely out of your yard or out of the woods?  When will the ice be gone from a lake or river in your area or on a mountain? When will you see the first tree buds and leaves? When does the temperature first hit 60 or 70 degrees.  Think of signs in your particular area that signal a definite change in the weather by what people wear or do?
A Lists of Lasts
  Now make a list of lasts and write them in your notebook or on a calendar—last snowfall, last time to wear a winter jacket, or last time to shovel.
Make Lots of Lists
  You can keep score of who makes the best predictions and do this as a new tradition every spring.
   The idea of prediction and record keeping was made famous by Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanac.” His company printed it from 1732 to 1758 and helped make him a very rich man. It contained a calendar, weather, predictions, astronomy, and daily advice for living frugally and well borrowed from religious books and writers through the ages.
  The “Old Farmers’ Almanac” founded in 1792 continues to this day.  It carries on the tradition of an almanac which is a book about anything and everything deemed useful.  It has the dates when it is best to cut your hair, lose weight, end projects, and have dental care. You name it.  It’s an almanac!
Is It Spring, Yet?
This past winter the forecast was “winter will be warmer than normal, with the coldest periods in late November, early and late December, early January, and early February. Precipitation and snowfall will be below normal, with the snowiest periods in mid- to late December and early to mid-February. April and May will be cooler than normal, with normal precipitation.”
  For more fun activities see and Through the Seasons, on Facebook, and Pinterest.
Photos: Fran Darling, fdarling fotos

Friday, March 30, 2018

Children Learn Culture Through Cooking

Recipes: Learn Geography, History and Culture
 Families can celebrate simple recipes from around the world and learn a little about geography, history, and culture.
   Whether ancestors called it mousse, junket, blancmange, creme, pannukakku or Tiramisu, custards are fun to make with kids. Although all are slightly different, this custard takes ten minutes to mix.
  The STEM science concept behind custard is coagulating a protein. It is the process of changing a liquid protein like eggs or milk into a solid by heating. Protein coagulation is one of the main reasons food changes when it is cooked. You can look up the interesting history of custard and bread, too.  
Easy Custard  
This recipe serves four. You’ll need two eggs, 2 cups milk, 
Easy Custard Recipe
½ c sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons vanilla, dash of cinnamon and nutmeg (optional).   You can cut down on the sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon, especially if you are going to put chocolate chips or sweet berries on top.  Whisk ingredients together. Pour into 4 ungreased custard cups or put into a small baking pan both ungreased. Place in a cake pan with about 3/4 inch hot water.  Bake uncovered 350 degrees 50-55 minutes. It is done when a knife makes a little slice clean through. Cool and serve warm or chilled. Store in the refrigerator. Custard can also be made stove top with almond milk and no eggs if there are allergies.
Spotted Dog Bread
Spotted Dog Bread Recipe 
 Yeast was not always available for bread throughout history.  Here is Irish soda bread, Spotted Dog, or Fari. You will need 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour, 1 ¼ cups white flour, (or use only white flour) 3 T sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, 3/4 tsp salt, 2/3c currants or raisins may be flour dusted, 4 T cold butter cut in pieces, 1 1/3 c buttermilk or (milk and 1 T vinegar or lemon juice set out), 1 large egg, 2 T melted butter. Preheat oven 400 degrees. Lightly grease round cake pan. Whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, and currants or raisins.

  In a separate bowl whisk together buttermilk and egg. Pour this mixture into a center hole of dry ingredients and mix. The dough will be stiff. If it's too crumbly add another tablespoon or two of buttermilk. Knead the dough no more than a couple times. Shape it into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly, and place the loaf in your pan. Use a sharp knife to cut a 1/2"deep traditional cross in the loaf. Bake for about 45 to 55 minutes, until golden brown or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove and brush with melted butter, if desired. The acid in buttermilk and the base in soda produce trapped carbon dioxide bubbles which make dough rise. For more see, Through the Seasons, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Planning Visit Times Helps Everyone

Make a Checklist With Needs In Mind
Professional certified day care centers use research and best practices information to schedule children’s days.  Families and extended families like grandparents can use this information for success, too.
  Children have a basic body clock, needs, and rhythm at all ages. They need to be loved, educated, nutritiously fed, be clean, have fun, read to and talked with. They need enough sleep, plus alternating active and quiet times daily.
   When there is misbehavior, usually there is an above need. If adults make a checklist schedule with needs in mind, they can manage child care, reduce stress, and teach expectations. Here is a sample. For a longer day simply rewind and repeat. 
 When young children are coming for care or a little break for parents, you can examine your time. What jobs must be done in your usual routine? How can you blend those with children’s needs so you won’t feel overwhelmed? What quiet and active playtime activities help your young children? What reasonable behavior expectations do you have? What are the parents’ rules?
  After consulting the parents and the basic kids’ needs, list a few goals on your checklist including being nice to each other and taking turns. You can sit down with the grandkids to discuss the action plan checklist, and read the columns together. They can add ideas of quiet and active activities.
Time Together
Discuss the Plan With Parents & Grands
  During your time together add some praise, smiles, hugs, or fist bumps for jobs well done.  Since you are changing varied activities often and meeting needs like hunger, boredom, and rest you are more likely to nip any misbehavior in the bud.
  Stove timers come in handy.  You can set the timer for 20 minutes “in time” with the kids. They get complete attention—no phone, radio, TV, or videos. Adults can get on the floor to play and everyone gets some exercise.
  When the timer goes off the children now have a choice of a quiet activity to play by themselves while Grandma does jobs she needs to do for about 20 minutes. She can check on them, halfway through add a nutritious snack, and praise to insure more success.  When the timer goes off look at the checklist together, check off, and celebrate.
   Ignore a little imperfection. Catch children being even a little bit good and praise when there are polite words and evidence of appropriate behavior.
  It’s time now for about 20 minutes of an energetic activity or a walk.  Review behavior expectations first.  Then eat, read, everyone rests, and checks off the list.
Don't Forget the Timer
Does this preparation always insure that activities go smoothly? No, but checklists, stated expectations, and best practices usually help reduce everyone’s stress. For many activity ideas see and Through the Seasons, live and pod casts.
 More Ideas and Activities....See the authors’ book “Learning Through the Seasons” at area bookstores and For more help to prepare young children for success in school see the authors’ web site: Also check our audio Podcasts WNMU Radio 90; Youtube video activities; and join us on Pinterest