• SUMMER FUN ACTIVITIES

    Posted by Sheryl Williams on 7/22/2021 2:30:00 PM

    Summer Activities for Kids

    Check out this list of 100 things you and your kids can do to fight off summertime boredom. Don't let your kids have all the fun—many of these activities are fun for the whole family to share. So join in!

    Enjoy Nature

    Take advantage of long sunny days by exploring the natural world (just don't forget the sunscreen).

     
    • Go bird watching. Take photos and keep track of your sightings. Use an app or guidebook to identify feathered friends.
    • Grow fresh herbs in containers. Use old coffee cans, milk jugs, mason jars, plastic cups, or anything else you have around the house. Keep your herb garden on a patio or windowsill.
    • Look for shapes in the clouds. Put a blanket in the grass and stare up at the sky. Take turns talking about what you see in the clouds.
    • Make a bird feeder. Watch birds visit your yard and add to your list of bird sightings.
    • Make fairy houses. Use moss, bark, and leaves to create a dwelling fit for Thumbelina.
    • Pick your own plants. Find a farm with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, veggies, or flowers and get picking.
    • Plant a butterfly or hummingbird garden, or create a backyard wildlife habitat.
     
     

    Make the Most of Rainy Days

    When the weather keeps you indoors, there's still plenty to do!

     Break out your movie collection or use Netflix. Have a movie marathon complete with popcorn.
    Build a fort. Put pillows in the living room or cardboard boxes in the yard.
    Build a Lego castle. Clear off a table and make it a family project. Work on it all summer.
    Camp in. Put the sleeping bags on the floor and have a family slumber party.
    Experiment with new hairdos. Let the kids try out non-permanent colors, braids, or a spiked, gelled look.
    Get an origami book and fun paper. Create fun animals and shapes. Give them to friends or family members as gifts.
    Have breakfast in bed. Take turns being the server and the served.
    Hold marble races. Use an old pool noodle as the track. Simply cut it in half, making two tracks of equal length. Then, race the marbles down the tracks to see who has the fastest one.
    Make a time capsule. Have each family member write down something they are grateful for and include a special item in the time capsule. Then, store it away until a designated date. You can open it as early as Thanksgiving or as far off as high school graduation.
     Make paper airplanes. See whose airplane goes the farthest.
    Play a card game. Choose from crazy eights, spoons, go fish, or even poker. Take your pick. Or buy a board game for the family to enjoy.
    Play charades. Turn all the summer drama into a game.
    Rearrange the furniture. Give the kids graph paper and have them draw out a plan first.
    Set a goal and complete a home project. Whether it is cleaning the garage, organizing the basement, or redecorating the spare bedroom, find ways to let the kids help.
    • Use Your Brain

      Avoid the summer slide by keeping kids thinking and learning while school is out.2

       
       
      • Build your brain. These brainteaser games can help.
      • Get a book of riddles. See if you can stump each other; then write your own riddles.
      • Get the summer homework done. Not exactly fun, but you'll be happy to get it out of the way.
      • Have a puzzle race. Use 100-piece puzzles and see who finishes first.
      • Interview an older relative. Write out your family history.
      • Join a summer reading club at your library. Or create your own, keeping a list of all the books read over the summer. Parents can participate too. Just don't expect a prize, because your kids can probably read way more books than you do!
      • Master a new skill together. Learn to juggle, play the harmonica, or sew.
      • Read a chapter book aloud. Plan to read a chapter or more a night. You can even read a whole series together.
      • Show the kids that science is fun. Try these experiments.
      • Write and illustrate a comic book. Make it a group effort or let everyone do their own.
      • Write in a journal each day. Allow older teens to create a bullet journal if they prefer. Then, at the end of the summer, share selections with each other about the highlights of summer.
      • Have a Little Nighttime Fun

        Arm yourself with bug spray and you're ready for an evening in the night air.

         
        • Camp in the backyardPitch a tent and bring out the sleeping bags. Sleep as a family under the stars.
        • Catch lightning bugs. And then watch them flicker away into the night.
        • Go to the drive-in. If there isn't one nearby, look for one near your vacation spot. Every kid should go to the drive-in at least once!
        • Have a bonfire. Roast marshmallows and hot dogs. Make s'mores.
        • Host an outdoor movie night. Rent or borrow a movie projector and show a movie on a white sheet draped across PVC pipe in the backyard. Or, use the side of your house as the screen. Bring sleeping bags, air mattresses, and pool rafts out as the seating and enjoy the show (with popcorn of course).
        • Listen to an audiobook under the stars. Your library probably has a great collection of classics and newer titles.
        • Stargaze. Invite friends and make a party of it.
       
     
     
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  • Calming virtual classroom

    Posted by Sheryl Williams on 6/26/2020
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  • Tips for talking to your children about violence

    Posted by Sheryl Williams on 6/2/2020

    When children have questions about violence, many have questions about how to help children cope with the tradegy. How much information children should be exposed to, or what they say to their children about their safety. 

    1, First find out what your child knows about the event. Even if you haven't discussed it together, they may have heard it on the news, on social media or other sources. Their perception may be very different from reality. 

    2. Assure your children that it is ok to talk about these events no matter how scary or sad they are. It's ok to talk about your feelings. 

    3. Encourage questions. Question and answer  exchanges provides understanding for your child and support.It is important to build empathy and teach perspective - taking. You might ask questions about how do they think these people are feeling? Why do you think these people are angry?What do you do or feel when you think something is unfair?

    4. Reassure your child that they are safe.

    5. Be honest but also be mindful of their age. Children will be more vocal in asking questions especially in middle school. HIgh school will offer opinions.  

    6. Remember that it is ok to admit that you do not have all of the answers. It is ok to admit how you feel and that you are worried. It is important to reassure them that you are there for them to support them and take care of them.

    7. Be patient: Let them know that you are there to talk to them when they are ready to talk about it or need to talk about it. 

     

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  • Recognize and Validate Grief

    Posted by Sheryl Williams on 5/13/2020

    Everyone around us is experiencing some form of loss right now. The many different and difficult emotions you are feeling sucha s sadness, disappointment,anger, guilt, frustration and loneliness,are normal emotions to abnormal times. We are grieving and our children are grieving. 

    It is important to recognize and name the emotions that we are all feeling right now. Check in with yourself and your children. Recognize the humanity around you. We are all in this together...everyone is having the same experiences, thoughts and feelings as you. We continue to face uncertainty. When faced with uncertainty, our brains are designed to protect us from danger by increasing our awareness to risk and threats. When you find yourself or your children overwehelmed by strong emotions try to refocus your attention what is going on in and around you in the current moment. Notice that each feeling/emotion that you have is temporary. Focus on accepting your feelings and your strength to get through them. Take one moment at a time, focus on your 5 senses to ground you in the present. Name 5 things you can see, 4 things that you can hear, 3 things that you can touch, 2 things that you can smell and 1 thing you can taste(if you have food around you). This will bring you back to the present moment. In school, I use these grounding techniques with students in the classrooms to help them focus on the here and now.

    Remember separate out what you can control and what you cannot control.  Things you can control are:

    How you cope

    How you treat others

    What you eat and drink

    Steps you take to stay healthy

    Time you spend worrying

    Amount of news you consume

    Finding peace with what you can and cannot control: worry often  focuses our attention on the future, an unknown outcome. One way to manage these worries is to focus on one worry at a time. Can you control what you are worried about? If it is something you can control, make a plan or take action. If it is something you cannot control, use coping skills to help you manage the worries. Use your toolbox of coping skills, get outside, exercise, meditate, listen to music, be creative, art, bake, cook, reach out to talk to someone, distractions, books, movies, tv. What ever works for you and your family.

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  • May Mental Health Month

    Posted by Sheryl Williams on 5/5/2020

    Do you know when is mental health month? In the United States, the month of May is a nationally recognized time to raise awareness of mental health conditions in our nation. So then, what is mental health month exactly? When most people think of health, they think of diet, exercise, disease, and other physical signs of a healthy body. However, many still fail to recognize the importance of mental health when it comes to our overall well-being. 

    National Mental Health Awareness Month was established in 1949, by the National Association for Mental Health (currently known as Mental Health America). What began as only a week of observance to shed light on the prevalence of mental illness, would eventually expand into a nationally recognized month of education and advocacy. During the month of May, various mental health organizations seek to accomplish these goals through screenings, community events, workshops, fundraisers, counseling, social media campaigns, and so much more.

    Mental Health is about our feelings, our thinking, our emotions and our moods. Looking after our mental health is just as important as our physical health.

    Mastering mental health through awareness, education and change comes through identifying  mental health triggers, learning how to deal with the triggers, and bringing change to the situation that caused the trigger.  We all have mental health and we’d all like to stay in the healthy zone. Sometimes we have good days and sometimes we have bad days. Our mental health triggers are external events which we know will bring us stress, sadness, anxiety, panic, negative self-talk, or other emotional, mental, and sometimes physical symptoms. Triggers are situations that are difficult for us to cope with. 

    As you become more mindful of what your child's triggers are, notice how they affect them, talk about them and brainstorm how to cope with them or change them. Talk about coping strategies. Here are some examples:

    • writing or drawing pictures in a journal or notebook
    • exercise and play
    • walk and talk with a friend or family member
    • watch funny videos online
    • take a bath or quick shower
    • sit outside and listen to nature sounds
    • play with a pet or animal
    • Play an instrument or listen to music
    • play games
    • According to the National Institute of Mental Health, parents are encouraged to:

      • Seek help if their child is engaging in unsafe behavior or talks about wanting to hurt themselves or someone else.
      • Talk with a child's teachers, pediatrician and other people in the child's life who might notice a change in their behaviors or attitude.
      • Ask for a referral to a mental health professional if your child is showing any signs of possibly having mental health needs.
      • Identify what treatments are suitable for your child ie. therapy, family counseling, medicine, etc.
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  • Meaningful May Calendar

    Posted by Sheryl Williams on 4/27/2020

    may

    happiness keys

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  • Optimism

    Posted by Sheryl Williams on 4/20/2020

    We look at the world right now and we see negativity,chaos,uncertainty all around us. There is some hopefulness too. Some great stories of people helping one another, people showing kindness, helping one another, people thinking positive, looking toward the future. Lets help our children to remain hopeful, positive and optimistic.

    Positive Self Talk Help children understand self-talk. Get them to listen to that little voice in their heads that says they can or can’t do things. An easy way to do this is to ask kids to stand in front of a mirror and listen to the voice in their head. Optimistic kids use different self-talk than pessimists. Confident, optimistic kids talk themselves up, and give themselves messages in line with their abilities. Pessimists use a great deal of negative self-talk and talk themselves out of doing things. Negative self-talk becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. . Kids’ self-talk will determine their attitude and also how they approach the activity. Get kids to listen to their self-talk and help them work out alternative messages that they can use if they are self-defeating. They can repeat positive or more helpful messages before they approach a situation that causes them anxiety. Encourage kids to write out positive self-talk messages that help them think more confidently about risk-taking situations.

    Slow down and think through the options Many children jump to conclusions when negative situations occur, which means they think and act impulsively rather than check out possible causes of events. These automatic responses may be justified as they are in line with past events, but in reality they are the least likely explanations. 

    Positively reframe Optimistic people are able to find positive aspects in negative situations, no matter how small. This encourages people to feel like they have some control over situations and is the beginning of experiencing hope. One very practical thing parents can do is to teach their kids the skill of positive reframing. That is, develop the art of finding something positive in even the most difficult situations. 

    Look for the lesson Self-blame is strongly-related with pessimistic thinking. When something goes wrong or mistakes occur pessimists automatically search for someone to blame, and often they blame squarely at their own feet, whether it’s justified or not. An effective way to move thinking away from laying blame is to encourage kids to look for the lesson in a situation rather than look for blame.

    Practise perspective-taking Kids often get things out of proportion when they are under stress. They jump to the worst possible conclusion when things go wrong. The propensity to catastrophise exaggerates anxiety. Be mindful of your child’s need to jump to the worst from time to time. A bit of reassurance is all that’s needed in these one-off scenarios. But if you, like your child, are a serial catastrophiser, then it will be useful to challenge your unhelpful or extreme thinking when ithappens. 

    Today’s kids talk in extremes – ‘awesome’, ‘the best’ and ‘gross’ roll off their tongues easily these days. Extreme language leads to extreme thinking. So encourage kids to replace “I’m furious” with “I’m annoyed”, “It’s a disaster” with ‘It’s a pain”, “I hate it” with “I don’t like it”. Sounds minor but by changing kids’ language you change how they think about events and, more importantly, how they feel. One way of turning down internal stress as well as inflexible thinking is to tone down your language – replace ‘I can’t stand this!’ with ‘I don’t like it.’ Next time you feel annoyed about a situation and your response is out of all proportion to the event, tone down your language and you’ll instantly start to feel better and more in control. This is a great coping skill, I can assure you.

    Set realistic goals Before kids figure out how to solve a problem, they need to figure out what the ultimate goal maybe. Then they should think of, or list the steps or actions they need to do to reach their goal. If they had a fight with a friend, then their goal would probably be to stay friends. To reach this goal they would probably have to apologise, do something special to make up for the dispute and change the behaviour that lead to the dispute. Once a child sets a goal they need to think of as many ways to reach the goal as possible. Many kids get locked into one path, only to get stuck when they reach a dead end. Goal-setting is a potent skill as it involves movement and invokes action rather than stagnation or inaction, which is the result of pessimistic, hopeless thinking. Goal-setting is essential if your child is to be a resilient learner. 

    Be Thankful daily Many children automatically expect bad things to happen. They sabotage their efforts with their negative thinking, because their thinking defaults to pessimism. And like a self-fulfilling prophecy their efforts match their expectations and they don’t achieve, succeed, or overcome difficulties. One way to change the default mechanism from pessimistic to optimistic is to encourage kids to look for and count their blessings on a daily basis. One way of doing this is to provide an exercise book or journal where they record at least three good things or happy events that happened to them during the day. Encourage them to think hard – good things will be there – they just have to look. This activity trains their default thinking mechanism to look for positives rather than always being on the lookout for the negatives.

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  • Mindfulness and Positive Outlook

    Posted by Sheryl Williams on 4/13/2020

    picture

    Positive Psychology 

    Once you’ve learned how to clear your head of daily worries with the basics of mindfulness, such as deep breathing and being present in the moment.The next step is to shift your state of mind. If stress has been causing you to have negative thoughts, try switching your direction and think positive. Look on the bright side this Monday and spread sunshine.

    Looking on the bright side is the next step to building mindfulness in your life. If you feel like you’re going through a stressful time, replace the thoughts that trigger stress with a more positive spin. 

    When you sit down for your mindfulness practice, take the time to calm your mind first. Do a deep breathing exercise for a minute or more. Then concentrate on the current moment. Now that you’re present, allow any worries or negative thoughts to enter your mind… and then flip them to something positive. 

    It’s healthy to have and acknowledge negative thoughts. The important thing to remember is that you can change your mind about how to approach those thoughts. You can change shift them from negative to positive. When you start confronting the source of your negative thoughts, you can begin to manage them instead of dreading them. With the help of mindfulness, you can also learn to let frustrating and stressful moments pass.

    Spend this Monday in a positive state of mind. It will do your mind a lot of good!

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  • Mindfulness

    Posted by Sheryl Williams on 4/9/2020
     What Is Mindfulness?

    Mindfulness means paying full attention to something. It means taking your time to really notice what you're doing.

    Why Do People Need Mindfulness?

    Mindfulness helps you do your best at things. It helps you:

    • pay attention better
    • be less distracted
    • learn more
    • stay calm under stress
    • avoid getting upset too easily
    • slow down instead of rush
    • listen better to others
    • be more patient
    • get along better
    • gain self-control
    • get tasks finished
    • feel happier and enjoy things more
      • Guide yourself in a gentle mindful breathing exercise — you can use the script below (approximate time — 5 minutes, allowing time for pauses):

    Sit in a comfortable posture, with your spine upright and your shoulders rolled down and back. Close your eyes, if that feels comfortable for you, and just allow your breath to be natural….
    As best you can, bring your attention to your breath, noticing when you are breathing in…
    and when you are breathing out….
    See if you can notice what your breath feels like in your nose, as the air goes in your nose, and then comes out over the lips…. (pause)….
    See if you can notice what your breath feels like in your chest, perhaps sensing the gentle expansion of the chest on the inhale, and the fall of the chest on the exhale…. (pause)….
    You may find yourself thinking about breathing, but see if you can focus on the actual physical sensations of breathing…. What does it feel like, right now, in your body as you breathe?
    If you’d like, see if you can notice what your breath feels like in your belly, noticing how the belly expands as you inhale, and softens as you exhale…. (pause)….
    You may also be able to notice the sensations of the breath elsewhere in your body….
    For a few more moments, just try to let your attention rest on your breath, wherever YOU notice it most….
    When you’re ready, you can open your eyes.

    Spending a few moments deliberately attending to the breath can lower the heart rate, and often has a calming effect on the mind and body.

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  • Time Management during Corona Virus

    Posted by Sheryl Williams on 4/6/2020

    Under normal circumstances, maintaining a schedule is a helpful tool to create a sense of calm and order. 

    But under the abnormal circumstances we find ourselves in now, having a schedule isn’t just helpful, it is essential. It will mean the difference between feeling like you have no grounding and sense of direction, leading you to waste huge amounts of time each day, and developing a sense of purpose and productivity.

    Almost all of the normal structures that drove your time—school schedule, activities schedule—have disappeared. Now you need to construct your own structure to stay on track.

    To help you realign your time, here are five key building blocks to designing an effective schedule in this stressful climate.

    SLEEP

    Given the huge increase in news, which can have a big impact on your life, and the disappearance of the normal school schedule, there is a high risk of your sleep schedule derailing. You may find yourself staying up later than usual (like it is the weekend every day).

    In fact, this cna be an opportunity for you to rest better than ever. Not only will this help you become more productive, but it will also boost your mood and immune system.

    Give yourself one hour before bedtime to wind down and prepare to sleep, meaning you’re off your phone, computer, TV or other screens . If needed, set a recurring alarm on your phone to begin priming your mind for sleep.

    WORK

    If you can, I highly recommend that you keep your school schedule as close as possible to what you were doing when you were in the school.

    The reason for this is that even though you are in a different school setting(home)...., your mind already has deeply embedded patterns. Keeping the same schedule allows you to keep the same ways of doing things. If you create new habits ( staying up late, not sticking to a routine) puts you at risk of becoming more distracted and shifting your schedule later and later.

    Everyone thrives on structure, so developing routines similar to the ones you are used to at school promotes, productivity and harmony at home. You can do this by setting aside specific times for meals, physical activity, learning, and play.

     

    EXERCISE

    Do workout videos, do strength-training with free weights, and go move around outdoors. Even if you’re not able to practice with your sports team, you can work on techniques, like throwing a ball, kicking a ball, or shooting free throws.

    Physical activity with others is one of life’s greatest joys, and to be without it is difficult. However, there are still ways we can, and should, stay active. Not only is exercise great for your physique, it is a tremendous way to stay healthy and reduce stress.

    RECHARGE

    Given the huge amount of uncertainty right now, setting aside time to recharge is essential. I encourage you to limit your time on social media or watching the news. Instead, try to find something each day that brings you true relaxation. It could be exercise, reading, listening to music, spending time with your family, or doing a creative hobby. F

    I can’t give you any guarantees of what will happen in the future. However, I can tell you that by creating a schedule, you can make the most of the present.

     
     
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