10 Tips to Get Kids Outside and Active

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Summer is here and it’s a great time for families with children to spend time outdoors and together.  The Episcopal Center for Children (ECC), a nonprofit organization providing mental health and special education services to children ages 5-14 in the greater Washington, DC area, offers tips to help families.

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6 Reasons Why You Should Stop Feeding Your Kids “Kid Food”

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According to the National Institutes of Health, on any given day one-third of children and 41 percent of teens eat from a fast-food restaurant. They also report that the restaurant meals often served to kids contain too many calories. The typical “kid food” being offered tends to usually include chicken nuggets, fries, macaroni and cheese, burgers, and pizza. The problem is that these meals often provide empty calories and don’t provide enough nutrition. They also keep the kids wanting the same types of foods at home, with parents often providing them. One expert, Doctor Yum, says it’s time to ditch the “kid food” and start giving kids better options.

6 Reason to Stop Feeding Kids Kid Food

“Most food is kid-friendly. Kids just need to learn how to eat it,” says Dr. Nimali Fernando, a Fredericksburg, Virginia-based pediatrician who founded The Doctor Yum Project. “Kids who are taught healthy eating habits, which include eating a variety of healthy foods, will be far better off now and in the long run. They will be learning healthy habits that will last a lifetime.”

Reason #1: Kids can learn to eat real food.

Most of us parents overestimate the amount of food children need. Therefore when a toddler takes two bites of their entree, parents may feel defeated instead of realizing they may have eaten enough. Parents then may be more likely to reach for those kid-friendly, addictive snacks (like crackers and gummy snacks) to fill their child’s belly.  It should be no surprise that grazing-style eating, where hunger does not fully develop, leads to a poor appetite at mealtime. Parents should continue to provide opportunities to practice eating healthy foods, and have realistic expectations for what their child should eat. With enough practice kids will get used to a healthy array of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Check with your pediatrician to see if your child is meeting expectations for growth to ensure his food intake is on track.

Reason #2: Restaurant kids meals are a waste of money.

When eating out, say no to kid’s meals, which are usually variations on the same “kid-friendly” foods like pizza, chicken nuggets, and sweet drinks. Most of these menus have little to no vegetables or fruit. They may be belly fillers and provide calories but little added nutritional value for your dollar. Instead, order a healthy similarly priced appetizer and/or share your entree with your little one (restaurant meals are so oversized that chances are good that the serving is too big for you anyway). Alternatively, order a few entrees “family style” and ask the server to bring extra plates for

When eating out, say no to kid’s meals, which are usually variations on the same “kid-friendly” foods like pizza, chicken nuggets, and sweet drinks. Most of these menus have little to no vegetables or fruit. They may be belly fillers and provide calories but little added nutritional value for your dollar. Instead, order a healthy similarly priced appetizer and/or share your entree with your little one (restaurant meals are so oversized that chances are good that the serving is too big for you anyway). Alternatively, order a few entrees “family style” and ask the server to bring extra plates for whole family to sample. This encourages kids to be adventurous and get used to trying new foods.

Reason #3: Kid-friendly foods are misleading.

Recent studies of toddler foods show that many actually have more sugar and salt than what is recommended by experts. Food companies know that parents worry about nutrition, and know the buzzwords to attract those worried parents. It’s easy to make food choices based on the promise of “more protein” or “high in calcium.”  But reading the nutrition label (on the back of the box, not the front) will give you the big picture on whether a food is right for your child. Is there an abundance of additives and preservatives? Are the ingredients recognizable and safe? How much sugar is added? Think about the whole foods that might be used to get the same benefit (like a handful of nuts for protein instead of a protein bar).

Reason #4: Kids need real food to develop and thrive.

While pizza and macaroni and cheese may fill a child’s belly, kids need fruits, vegetables and whole grains to provide the necessary, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (plant nutrients) for optimal growth and development.  Furthermore, an important part of a child’s development is their oral motor skills, those functions of the mouth (lips, tongue, teeth and palate) that allow for speech, safe feeding and swallowing. Many kid-friendly foods are soft and easy to eat and don’t encourage development of those skills. Relying too heavily on these foods (like soft chicken nuggets and pouches with soft purées) can allow kids to lag behind in oral motor development and may lead to picky eating.

Reason # 5: You don’t have time to be a short order cook.

Making two or three meals to satisfy everyone’s preferences is exhausting and can lead to cooking burnout. Teach kids to eat what you are eating to save time and money and to encourage the spirit of adventurous eating. This can be done from the earliest bites of solid food. Instead of relying on store-bought baby food exclusively, find ways to make your meals into healthy baby food. Check out the Doctor Yum Project’s kid-tested, pediatrician approved recipes on doctoryum.org. Many of them have a “baby food shortcut” which shows families how to adapt a family meal and make a meal for a baby along the way. Eating in this way from a young age can avoid that picky eater trap and lead to a path to adventurous eating for a lifetime.

Reason #6: Nutrition shouldn’t be hidden, so stop hiding the veggies.

Kids that are very hesitant eaters may be benefit from a few hidden vegetables as they gain confidence in food, but in general parents should try to help kids learn to love healthy foods without hiding them. While hidden veggies may help nutritionally, the kids may not gain an understanding that vegetables can be delicious, so they may still try to avoid them when they are visible. Get kids loving their veggies by leading by example, preparing them together, growing a garden, and visiting a farmers market where they can pick out a couple of things to try. The more variety they are exposed to and realize that they enjoy, the better the eating habits will be.

“If kids can get involved in the food process, from shopping to preparing it, and they can learn about why eating healthy is so important to them, they are more likely to do so,” adds Heidi DiEugenio, a director at the Doctor Yum Project. “This will help them avoid the obesity problems, chronic health issues, and they will have a better opportunity to live a healthier life throughout their adulthood.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthy eating habits can help children maintain a healthy weight, as well as reduce their risks of such conditions as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, iron deficiency, dental cavities, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure. An unhealthy diet, on the other hand, can lead to being overweight or obese, increase risks for certain types of cancer, and negatively affect overall health, cognitive development, and a child’s school performance.

About the Author:

Dr. Fernando, otherwise known as Dr. Yum, is a board-certified pediatrician. She is also the co-author of the book “Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater: A Parent’s Handbook” (The Experiment, October 2015). To learn more, visit the site at: www.doctoryum.org.

About The Doctor Yum Project
The Doctor Yum Project is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to transforming the lives of families and communities by providing an understanding of the connection between food and overall health, as well as empowering them with the tools to live a healthy life. They offer a variety of community programs to help with those efforts. They are located in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and feature a free interactive website with family taste-tested healthy recipes and innovative tools to make cooking at home easier, an instructional kitchen and teaching garden for holding classes. To learn more, visit the site at: www.doctoryum.org.

 

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Ten Rules for Homeschool Convention Etiquette

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I believe every situation calls for some etiquette, and homeschool conventions are no exception. Often, vendors represent small, family-run businesses, and sales at conventions provide their largest source of revenue. When customers follow these ten simple rules, everyone benefits.

Ten Rules for Homeschool Convention Etiquette

The next time you enjoy a homeschool convention, I encourage you to practice these ten demonstrations of courtesy. As you do so, you can be sure that you will bless and encourage the vendors and your fellow attendees.

Homeschool Convention Etiquette Rule #1

Make sure checks or credit cards are good, or pay in cash. Most vendors are able to authorize credit cards at their booths. However, if your credit card does not go through, valuable time will be lost in rectifying the situation, so make sure your accounts are in good shape before you go to a convention. If a check bounces, fees are charged and both the vendor and the customer have to deal with the account balance problems. Many vendors prefer cash, which sometimes helps vendors pay for immediate needs associated with convention expenses, such as such as food, gas, hotel expenses, etc.

Homeschool Convention Etiquette Rule #2

Handle all products carefully and respectfully. The vendor’s inventory is expensive and should be handled gently. If items are damaged, vendors may not be able to sell them. One way to appropriately inspect books would be to open them up gently, not spreading them completely open, thereby keeping their spines intact and preserving the “new” feel of the book. Of course, it is always best to peruse sample copies when they are available.

After reviewing a product, put it back in the same location where you found it. If you don’t know where it goes, hand it back to the vendor, or ask where to put it back in its proper place.

Homeschool Convention Etiquette Rule #3

Don’t shop before the vendor hall officially opens. Many vendors are scrambling to “set up shop” right up until the moment the convention sales officially begin. Honor the starting and ending times posted for sales, and don’t rush the vendors. They are eager to serve you, but they need to get organized first.

Homeschool Convention Etiquette Rule #4

Diligently supervise your children at all times. Take advantage of the wonderful children’s programs that convention coordinators have provided for your children. The convention sponsors may also offer babysitting services, or the hotel may provide those services. You can also share “babysitting duty” with another mom: one of you watches all the children while the other mom shops; then you trade off. If you prefer to keep your children with you, be sure to keep them within reach—literally—at all times, for their protection and for the protection of the vendors’ products as well.

Homeschool Convention Etiquette Rule #5

Shop, don’t study. Vendors understand that you would like to browse through a book before buying it, but to stand in front of the booth and read through the entire book is rude. Not only will the booth be less accessible to other potential customers while you are there reading, but it’s likely that the book will look “used” after you have read it from cover to cover, and no one else will want to purchase it. If you are thoroughly “sold” on a product, buy it and use it at home.

Homeschool Convention Etiquette Rule #6

Keep the traffic moving, as much as it is in your power to do so. Don’t congregate with friends (new or old) directly in front of a booth, especially with your shopping carts or strollers in tow. Vendors are dependent on person-to-person sales, so be polite and congregate elsewhere; avoid creating traffic jams that can rob vendors of business.

Homeschool Convention Etiquette Rule #7

Remember that the vendor needs to talk to as many potential customers as possible. Vendors love to talk with you, especially when homeschooling is the topic, but remember that the time they have available to interact—hopefully with everyone at the convention—is limited. Be friendly, ask your questions, and step aside so that the next guy can ask his questions.

Homeschool Convention Etiquette Rule #8

Expect to pay for good customer service. Vendors who don’t deal with high-volume inventories are often more willing to discuss their products and personally answer your questions. If a vendor “sells” you on his product, buy it from him—not from the high-volume-sales vendor on the next row, who was too busy to answer your questions. Pay for what you get, and don’t take unfair advantage of helpful people—instead, support their businesses with your purchases.

Homeschool Convention Etiquette Rule #9

Support the speakers. Most speakers at homeschool conventions receive no compensation for their contributions to the event. In fact, many speakers are required to pay a fee in order to conduct a workshop, demonstration, or class at a convention. Take advantage of the information and encouragement the speakers can offer, and if you like what you hear and see, seek out their booths and consider trying the products that impress you the most.

Homeschool Convention Etiquette Rule #10

Please honor the established closing time at the convention sales. When the vendor hall is closing, make your purchases and leave on time, like the way you “kindly make your way to the circulation desk” (sound familiar?) when the public library announces it “will close in fifteen minutes.” You can be sure that most vendors are very tired after a long day’s work and are eager to get off their feet too. Make your final purchases . . . and come back tomorrow, bright and early.

Most convention vendors love what they do or they wouldn’t be there. Many regard the hours they spend interacting with, and explaining their products/services to, potential customers as ministry. I encourage you to practice these ten rules of etiquette to enhance not only your shopping experience but the vendors’ experiences too!

See you at the conventions!

 

Linda Brodsky and her husband Mark have owned Brodsky Ministries for more than ten years. They sell curricula, T-shirts, U.S.-made toys, natural health products, and more. Their children can be found at homeschool conventions painting faces and making balloon sculptures. They have five children on earth, three in heaven, and are praying for more. Visit their website at www.brodskyministries.com.

Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free TOS apps to read the magazine on your Kindle Fire or Apple or Android devices.

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How to Help Your Child Prepare for the SAT

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High school juniors across the country are preparing to take the SAT in the next few weeks. At this point, you may be wondering what you could possibly do to improve your score.

How to Help Your Child Prepare for the SAT

Here are some steps to follow in the next few weeks to make the most of the remaining time.

14 Days Out — Get a current snapshot of your skills

If you haven’t already, take an SAT practice test. Your score and skills analysis will give you a clear starting point for planning. Organize a study plan with these steps:

  • Identify your good areas that you want to make great. Every student has a strong suit; figure that out and optimize it.
  • Identify the areas that need the greatest improvement, and, here’s the key: find the few highest-impact skills in those areas that will produce the biggest impact. Focus on those high-impact skills.
  • Prepare a detailed study schedule that charts your expected personal growth over the next two weeks, including specific goals for your areas of focus.

A well-trained tutor can help use the practice test data to focus your efforts so you can improve during the time that remains.

10 Days Out — Work on time management

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with some of the test construct and high-impact skills, you need to start to think about time management. How are you breaking up your time for the reading passages and questions? How much time are you spending on the easy and medium math questions versus the hard questions? These nuanced time-management decisions can have a big impact on performance.

7 Days Out — Take another practice test and assess progress

At this point, take another practice test. Assess your growth in your scores and skills. What has grown? What hasn’t? Now, target the skills that need the most attention and focus there for the remaining days.

1 Day Out – Summarize & Review

With the end in sight, it’s time to consolidate your lessons learned onto one sheet. What high-impact skills are most important for you? What grammar rules, math formulae, reading strategies are the most helpful? And what time management approaches optimize your performance best? Write these down for review and bring them along in the car ride on test day morning. And be confident! The key is that you have insight into your own personal performance and you know how to personalize your own test-taking approach to meet your specific needs. That’s the key to success.

About Matthew Pietrafetta
Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D. is the founder and CEO of the test preparation company Academic Approach.

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Sensory Play DIY Recipe: Silly Putty

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Every kid loves silly putty because it’s squishy and messy. If you have carpeting, keep this as a kitchen or outdoor only activity.

Silly putty is fun to play with, they have a unique texture and their chemistry is definitely therapeutic.

Who knew you could make it out of simple ingredients you probably already have lying around the house?

Sensory Play DIY Recipe: Silly Putty

Ingredients:

• Pitcher
• 4 oz water + 2 cups of water
• ¼ cup Borax Powder
• 4 oz Elmer’s Glue (school or glitter glue, NOT washable.)
• Food Coloring
• Bowl
• Fork or spoon

Directions:

In the pitcher pour 2 cups of water. Add 1/4 cup of Borax powder and stir for 30 seconds. There will be borax that doesn’t dissolve, that’s ok.

In a large bowl pour 4 oz of clean water. Add 4 oz of Elmer’s Glue (store brand is ok).

Add desired amount of food coloring and stir until it’s well blended.

Add 4 tablespoons of the borax water to the bowl of diluted glue and stir continuously. It will begin to get thick and stick to the fork or spoon.

Add 1 tablespoon of borax water at a time to the bowl and stir until there is no watery glue left.

Then Scrape the bowl with the fork and remove all of the putty from the spoon. The silly putty will be a little watery at first.

Flatten, fold and knead putty until the consistency is how you want it.

Store in an airtight container or plastic egg to preserve.

Tip: For transparent glitter putty, use glitter glue instead of traditional white glue.


 

Picture-8-300x168This Sensory Play recipe was provided by Katie Vega.

Katie Vega is a mom of 5 in Columbus, Ohio. She is an internet marketer, marketing/branding consultant, and e-book author. She began her career in the Network Marketing industry in 1999, and over the years has totally transformed her business to use her passions and talents. In early 2013 she left her job to build her business at home part time so she could homeschool her children.

One of her passions and goals is to show moms with ADHD or behaviorally challenged kids how they can manage the chaos at home and run a profitable business without losing their mind!

Visit KatieVega.com to learn more.

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Sensory Play DIY Recipe – Perfect Homemade Bubbles

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Enjoy hours of outdoor play with this non-toxic, and inexpensive homemade bubbles recipe. Homemade bubbles are great for those lazy Saturday afternoons and even during birthday parties!

Follow this simple recipe to make homemade bubble solution from a few simple ingredients.

Sensory Play DIY Recipe – Perfect Homemade Bubbles

Ingredients:

  • An old bubble container or empty milk gallon with lid
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of DISH soap (cannot be any other soap)
  • 4 tbsp of vegetable glycerin or corn syrup

Triple the recipe to fill an old milk gallon.

You can also make great homemade wands using simple shaped cookie cutters and wire or pipe cleaners.

Picture-8-300x168This Sensory Play recipe was provided by Katie Vega.

Katie Vega is a mom of 5 in Columbus, Ohio. She is an internet marketer, marketing/branding consultant, and e-book author. She began her career in the Network Marketing industry in 1999, and over the years has totally transformed her business to use her passions and talents. In early 2013 she left her job to build her business at home part time so she could homeschool her children.

One of her passions and goals is to show moms with ADHD or behaviorally challenged kids how they can manage the chaos at home and run a profitable business without losing their mind!

Visit KatieVega.com to learn more.

Sensory-Play-DIY-Recipe-Perfect-Homemade-Bubbles-Pinterest

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Sensory Play DIY Recipe – Perfect Moon Sand

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If you are looking for a project to make with your kids, this Perfect Moon Sand Recipe is perfect. Not only do they provide a great sensory experience, they are fun to make too!

Sensory Play DIY Recipe – Perfect Moon Sand

Ingredients:

8 cups of white flour
4 cups of baby oil
colored beads, colored rice, or holographic glitter for extra fun 🙂

Directions:

In a large container pour in the 8 cups of flour and then the 4 cups of baby oil.

Mix very well. Consistency will be messy at first. It shouldn’t be too dry, or sticky. You will know the moon sand consistency is right when it doesn’t leave hands messy and it will hold a molded shape like real sand.

For extra fun, you can put in sea shells, beads, colored rice or mixed holographic glitter!

Directions for colored rice:

To make colored rice you will need food dye and a bag of white rice (not instant).

In 4 bowls pour ½ cup of white rice. Pour several drops of your preferred color of food coloring and a tablespoon of water. Mix well until the rice is evenly colored. Using a spatula scrape rice onto a cookie sheet and spread evenly. Try not to mix the colors too much since it’s wet.

Bake at 250° for about 15 minutes, flipping the rice about halfway through.

Once it’s cool you can put all the rice into the moon sand. Now your moon sand has colored sprinkles!

Sensory-Play-Recipe-Perfect-Moon-Sand-Pinterest

 

Picture-8-300x168This Sensory Play recipe was provided by Katie Vega.

Katie Vega is a mom of 5 in Columbus, Ohio. She is an internet marketer, marketing/branding consultant, and e-book author. She began her career in the Network Marketing industry in 1999, and over the years has totally transformed  her business to use her passions and talents. In early 2013 she left her job to build her business at home part time so she could homeschool her children.

One of her passions and goals  is to show moms with ADHD or behaviorally challenged kids how they can manage the chaos at home and run a profitable business without losing their mind!

 

Visit KatieVega.com to learn more.

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