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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Great Gift for Dad this Father's Day

Father’s Day is right around the corner, and the time has come once again to begin searching for a gift for dear old dad. Father’s Day gift shoppers have long since abandoned the notion that a new necktie is what dad really wants, but finding a gift that expresses your love and appreciation for the old man can still prove somewhat challenging.

Oftentimes, the best gifts are the ones that fulfill a need or want, and Father’s Day gifts are no exception. The following are a handful of Father’s Day gift ideas for dads whose hobbies run the gamut.

The Sports Nut
Dads who can’t get enough of their favorite teams would no doubt appreciate some new gear or even tickets to see their favorite teams play. Since 1999, Staten Island has been home to the minor league team, the Staten Island Yankees. If you opt to buy tickets to a ballgame, make it a family affair, as dad would no doubt appreciate an afternoon at the ballpark with his kids and/or grandkids. For a father who no longer lives in the market where his teams play, consider purchasing a streaming service or television package that allows him to see his favorite team no matter where he’s living.

The Movie Mogul
Some dads simply can’t get enough of the silver screen, and a streaming service that allows dad to watch many of his favorite movies on demand from the comforts of home might make the perfect gifts for film-loving fathers. Services like Netflix and Amazon Prime offer hundreds of titles, and monthly or yearly subscriptions cost relatively little money. If Dad is the type who prefers seeing movies on the big screen, gift certificates redeemable at a local movie theater is a welcomed treat.

The Outdoorsman
Fathers who love the great outdoors might appreciate some new camping gear, a new fishing pole or even some comfortable hiking boots. When shopping for the outdoorsman in your life, consider which outdoor activity is his favorite (i.e., boating, fishing, kayaking, etc.) and try to find the latest useful gadget or newest product made for such enthusiasts. If you don’t share the same passion for the great outdoors and are hesitant to buy something you’re unsure about, a gift certificate to an outdoorsman or sporting goods store will suffice.

The Doting Grandfather
Some men simply want to spend more time with family, especially grandfathers who never tire of afternoons with their grandchildren. If dad has retired and moved away, a trip to see his grandkids might make the ideal gift this Father’s Day. Arrange the dates with mom so you are not surprising dad with a trip at a time when he already has plans, and make sure to schedule some fun activities for those days when dad is in town.

Father’s Day is a time each year when dads are told how much they are loved and appreciated. This year, a gift that implies both those sentiments is sure to make dad smile.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

School's out, unstructured time is here!

Image result for schools out for summer

Does Summer Cause You Stress as a Parent?
The reality is that most families don’t see summer as a wide open free time, but rather as something that has to be carefully arranged and choreographed. So, as summer looms, it’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking about how to handle the time kids have off, but parents don’t.
Here is some timely advice and ideas for parents and children from clinical psychologist Loretta L. C. Brady, Ph.D., APA-CP, Professor of Psychology at Saint Anselm College:

Check in with teachers: If you want to know how best to support your child over the summer or in a particular goal area, it’s helpful to connect with the school before the last 6 weeks. Things will be hectic for the school – and you – at that stage so think ahead for that summer support conversation.

Relieve Your Child’s Stress with Action: Transitions deserve to be honored and kids handle them differently. If your child is feeling sad about leaving a favorite teacher, have them write a thank you letter to the teacher for the work they did. Some teachers get a “lunch bunch,” kids from past years that they occasionally have lunch with the next academic year.
Friends can be missed too. If you can look ahead to your schedule and see some openings, planning a mini-class or friend play date part way through the summer can be fun. Such invitations often result in return invites so your child may get to stay connected even with the school break.

Try New Things: Take stock of what interests your children that they haven’t had a chance to explore. Search for  a summer camp or program that might introduce an instrument, horseback riding, robotics, even musical theater. Many programs have scholarships for those who can’t afford full tuition, and those usually go to first come, first serve. Always ask, and look early.

Don’t sweat the downtime. Yes, reading and math are all-year skills, and it’s fine to have your children work on these during breaks, but it doesn’t have to be like school. Boredom leaves space for creative ideas so unstructured and unscheduled time can actually lead your child to locating interests that they do have. Offer times of the day when electronics are off and there is nothing planned. Maybe a clean closet will appear, or maybe that book that keeps getting ignored might actually get picked up.

Take a trip, even if it’s just your back porch. Summer vacation is often a great time for exploring, and you don’t have to go on an overseas journey for memories to be made. Any spot in your community that you have always wondered about? Tried camping in your living room or yard. Take things that normally happen in summer (ice cream trucks, popsicles, bike rides) and ask your kids to build their summer “bucket list.” They will look forward to the simple pleasures of summer no matter how busy regular life might be. And, if you are lucky enough to have a major trip or other experience on the list they will see how big and little pleasures can add up to a lot of warm memories.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Choosing the right Preschool

Kindergarten used to mark a child’s first foray into formal education. But preschool has now taken up that mantle for many students.

Some parents may recall their own preschool experiences, mostly remembering extended moments of play and more monitored fun inside the school. But as the world of education has become more competitive, and students are required to meet certain standards at even earlier grade levels than before, preschool has undergone its own transformation.

Academic preschools have become a popular choice for parents hoping their children can gain that extra edge. Rather than the play-based philosophy preschools adhered to in the past, academic preschools introduce students to the rigors of the classroom. These academic preschools often teach math and reading. Proponents of this type of learning say that children are sponges at early ages, and the more information they can be presented with, the more they are likely to retain it. Children who are able to sit and focus for 20 to 30 minutes at a time and are very curious and ask a lot of questions may make for the best candidates at academic-based preschools. Other children may be more comfortable attending play-based schools.

While parents who hope to enroll their students in preschool may have to choose between a play- or academic-based curriculum, there are other factors to consider as well.

· Is proximity to your home important? Some parents prefer that their children’s preschools be close to home, while others want a school closer to their office. If your commute to work is long, then keep in mind that children will spend more time at a preschool close to home, which can cost more and reduce the amount of time parents and their children spend together.

· Should the school be faith-based? Religious organizations frequently offer their own faith-based preschool programs. Parents will have to decide if they want a faith-based curriculum for their young children.

· Are pre- and post-care services available? A school that has flexible hours may be appealing to some. This enables parents to drop off and pick up children according to their own work schedules or in coordination with school hours for other children in the family.

· Visit the school and assess the environment. A school may look excellent on paper, but you will not get a feel for it until visiting the school during a school day. Take your child along and get his or her opinion. Parents may love a particular school, but if kids are uncomfortable, the school may prove ineffective.

· Confirm the curriculum before enrolling. Schools may have different educational philosophies. These can run the gamut from the Montessori Method to the Waldorf Approach to the High/Scope Approach. Familiarize yourself with a school’s educational philosophy so you can be sure you are making the most informed decision possible.

· Go with your gut. Sometimes choosing a preschool boils down to a facility that just feels right. At this stage in a child’s education, schooling is about learning social skills and growing acclimated to the routines of the classroom