If you are the kind of parent that plans ahead, then the first day of kindergarten will not take you by surprise. When the big day arrives, the clothes are all bought, the list the school gave you is complete, teachers conferences are done and you may have even used the last few months before school to help your little one bone up on the alphabet, on her numbers, shapes and colors so that step into a formal educational setting will not be such a shock.
It’s like an invasion in a way. You are the General and you are preparing your troops to invade a foreign land to achieve an objective. The difference is the foreign land is not necessarily hostile, it’s a kindergarten room. And the teacher, administration and even other students there on that first day not only don’t want you to fail, they want to be your team to help your little one do great. The other difference is your invasion force is not a seasoned team of soldiers, it is that sweet little five year old boy or girl with a slightly terrified look in his or her eye.
But like any good General, you do have to be prepared for the unthinkable. You may make a lot of good speeches about how” failure is not an option”. But any parent who does not think about what can go wrong and how you will prepare for it and respond is setting themselves up for a catastrophe in the event something doesn’t go perfectly. But if you are ready for the worst, then your child can still have a great first day at school and get around the problem that otherwise might have ended badly.
The first thing that springs to mind when it comes to accidents or something that might go wrong is with the wardrobe. In all the excitement and nervousness, if your child spills either on the way to school or during school and soils her garment to where it is not suitable for using the rest of the day, you might get that phone call to come and get your child.
You don’t want to have to take your child out of the classroom until it is absolutely necessary. You put so much time and effort into building up this big day that to your little boy or girl, if they have to leave the school during the day, it will seem like a tragedy even if it’s only for the day. The solution for the wardrobe problem is one you may have already thought of which is to send a change of clothes. By keeping emergency clothing at the school in your child’s locker at all time, it is always there for her to change into and not see a major disruption to her school day.
Another crisis that can come up at the last minute is the sudden emotional meltdown of your child. If she becomes hysterical with worry or overwhelmed by the newness of it all, it can be a serious issue if you in the drop off line and you need her to go on in to school. This is not at all unlikely even if you feel your child is not the kind of kid who melts down that easy. The build up to the day and all the new cloths and the excitement can suddenly change course and create an emotional train wreck as your child looks out of the car door at the school door she must go through to start her new life.
But by having a plan, you can even deal with this. Often such melt downs are temporary. You can pull out of the drop off line and park the car and comfort the child. Above all don’t make her feel badly. Then if she knows its ok, she might recover and go on in. Worst case – you walk her in. That is not a catastrophe at all.
Your child must learn to cope with crisis. It is as much part of learning as books and assignments. And if she takes her cues from you that there is no crisis that cannot be adjusted to and no issue that cannot be solved, that will be a source of comfort and strength on that first day of school and for every day thereafter.
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Toddlers can be fussy eaters who refuse to try new food atleast half of the time. Approximately half of all toddlers fit this description, so it is no wonder that food issues are a source of stress for parents.Establishing a healthy eating pattern is important to avoid problems such as obesity and eating disorders later in life. Various strategies can help your child accept a wider range of foods. It may be necessary to offer a food to your child as many as ten different times before they choose to eat it. The problem is, many parents get frustrated and give up before the fourth or fifth try.
Try to make foods fun. Colorful foods like carrot sticks, raisins, apples, grapes, cheese sticks and crackers can all be fun and healthy choices for your growing toddler. Explain to them that eating good food is important so they’ll grow big and strong, and how it will help them run faster and play longer.
Children learn behaviors from their parents. If you restrict yourself to a narrow range of foods, your child will take notice and mimic your caution. Don’t limit your child’s food variety to only those foods you prefer. It may be that your child’s tastes are different to yours, and perhaps you are simply serving them foods they don’t happen to like. Try to set a good example and try a variety of foods in front of your child. It could motivate them to do the same.
If your child seems healthy and energetic, then they are eating enough. If you are still concerned, keep an eye on how much food they actually eat over the day. Children tend to graze constantly, rather than restrict their eating to three meals per day like adults. You may be surprised how those little handfuls and snacks add up. For further reassurance, check your child’s growth and weight charts, or check with your child’s paediatrician.Try not to worry, and remember, that unless a child is ill, they will eat. Children are very good at judging their hunger and fullness signals. Try to stay relaxed about mealtime and offer your child a wide variety of foods, and most importantly, remember to set a good example by trying a wide variety of foods yourself. You may discover you and your toddler share a new found favorite food!
Recently, my son’s school had to deal with an episode of cyber-bullying. A list of photos was being circulated via Instagram, asking readers to vote for the ‘school’s ugliest among the list.’ Luckily, it reached the school authorities, who took swift action, not only contacting the police and Instagram to get details about the perpetrators, but also launching into a series of school-wide initiatives to talking to students about the consequences of cyber-bullying, and setting up ways in which a student could report any such activity. The school also had a meeting with parents, where we learnt how to recognize the signs of a child being bullied, and how to encourage our children to report to authorities if either they or their friends were being bullied.
Our kids are definitely deeply into technology, as compared to our generation. In fact, I would even say they most of their socializing is online than face-to-face! In my son’s school, homework is given and handed back electronically, teachers assign projects via their webpage, and all announcements, right down to bad-weather days off, are announced on the school’s FaceBook page. And since we as parents are not, on the whole, as socially connected as our teenagers are, we should be alive to the dangers that lurk online, especially for our children.
So here is a list of Dos and Dont’s for parents of young children and teenagers, that I got off one of the school’s handouts:
- Tell your children never to give out their address, telephone number, password, school name or any other personal information.
- Make sure your children know to never agree to meet face-to-face with someone they’ve met online without discussing it with you. Only if you decide that it’s okay to meet their “cyber-friend” should they arrange to meet this person, and then the meeting should be in a familiar public place in the presence of a trusted adult.
- Tell your children never to respond to messages that have bad words, are scary, or just seem weird.
- Tell your children that if an ‘online’ friend asks them to keep the relationship a secret from you, they should inform you at once, or it could lead to something very dangerous.
- Tell your children never to enter an area that charges for services without asking you first.
- Tell children never send a picture of themselves to anyone without your permission.
- Make sure that access to the Internet at your children’s school is monitored by adults.
- Remember that all that ‘said’ on the internet is permanent.
- Educate yourself about the sites that your children use.
- Get your own Facebook account and become ‘friends’ with your child. Ensure that your child’s Facebook account is visible only to friends and not to the public.
Are there any tips I have missed? Do write in and let me know!
And in honour of Safe Internet Day, let us try to keep the internet a safe place for our kids.
Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.
1) Do try to arrive right at the opening, and go deep into the park immediately to take a couple of the rides you’re really looking forward to. This is standard advice for amusement parks, but it really paid off for us, as a couple of the Fantasyland rides we walked right onto first thing in the morning had hour-long queues just a little later.
2) Don’t waste time taking photos with the characters that greet you at the gate as the park opens (see point 1!), unless getting such photos is one of your top priorities. If so, you’re not reading the right set of tips. Okay, okay, I aim to please: if you’re committed to posing with Mickey, have at it right away, although you’ll have lots of company. You might also consider heading straight for the ‘Fantasy Gardens’ section of ‘Fantasyland’ when you arrive, where you can pose to your heart’s content.
3) Don’t bother trying to ‘stick to a plan’ for working your way through the park. It’s so small you can change your mind anytime you want, and walk right across the place in five or ten minutes. This is actually a blessing if you’ve got small children in tow, and when you’re off to get ‘fastpasses’, which we’ll discuss next.
4) Do make use of the ‘fastpass’ system. A fastpass is a pre-booking you can make on any of five popular attractions. You put your park admission ticket into a machine, and are issued another ticket with a time range on it. During that period, you can turn up at the attraction and get right on it, ahead of the normal queue. You can only hold one fastpass at a time, and it has to have expired before you can get another one.
5) Don’t bother tying up a fastpass on the Lion King stage show, though. Although those with fastpasses were indeed cordoned off into a ‘special’ waiting area when we visited, they were admitted into the show right along with us ordinary-queue proletarians in a single stampede.
6) Do take advantage of the ‘Single riders’ option at Space Mountain if you are a couple with small kids, or if you and your companions don’t mind riding alone. Using this ‘queue’, Mrs Tall and I rode twice each and waited a total of about three minutes.
7) Do use sunscreen and wear hats if it’s sunny. Sounds obvious, but although most waiting areas were at least partially shaded, on the day we visited there were still hundreds of painfully red faces and shoulders around, proving that some of us need little reminders.
8) Do buy orange juice. There are plastic bottles of fresh orange juice on sale all over the place for HKD15. That’s not bad, given the general range of prices around the park, and it’s delicious.
9) Don’t expect to ride all the way around the park on the little train if the park’s busy. The train has two stops: at the entrance, and at the opposite side of the park in Fantasyland. We found out that when the park gets crowded, you can only go from one stop to the next one, where you then have to get off.
10) Don’t go crazy trying to get a good spot to see the fireworks. We saw people staking out positions to watch them almost an hour and a half in advance. This is surely not worth it. We waited till the last minute, and still were able to squeeze into the main plaza in front of the castle where the show is centered. We had a tree branch obscuring a bit of our view, but it was still fine.
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