back to school

Begin School with Intention-Plan for Reflection

What was the most memorable and significant year of school for you?

The first year you attended school?

The year you starred in the class play?

The year you won an award?

The year you graduated?

Research has shown that an important part of learning in any environment is reflecting on our experience, the information we learned and the essential life lessons we incorporated. However sometimes we are so quick to move through an academic year that we barely scratch the surface of being in the present, never mind take the time to reflect on and apply the lessons learned.  Regular and planned reflection however results in ownership of new knowledge and practical application of those skills, strategies or facts.

Here are some ways to help your student have some planned reflection time throughout the year:

Intention and Reflection

  1. Being the year by having students set an intention for the year.  What do they want the theme of the year to be for them?  Where will their focus be?  What will need to happen for them to be happy with the school year and feel that they have been successful?
  2. Next set up a regular time during the year to reflect.  You can do this as frequently as you wish but I recommend at least three; the beginning of the year, half way through the year and at the end of the year.
  3. At each point have the student write a letter to themselves about their current experience, what they have learned and what they might expect for the future.
  4. Have the student keep the letters to reflect on in the future/or
  5. Have the student meet with a partner or small group of students and share what they have learned.
  6. Celebrate the learning and insight that has taken place!  Have a party, write a letter of advice and reflection to next year’s students or to themselves, give awards for lessons learned and goals met.  Help students recognize and feel pride in their achievements.

It’s back to school for lots of kiddos.  Here’s a great book for those kids just starting kindergarten…

Wyatt Goes to Kindergarten

Wyatt has never liked change, at least not at first.  Once he tries something new, he usually finds he really likes it.  Now that he is about to begin kindergarten, Wyatt is really worried.  Will he make friends?  Will he get lost in the new school?  Will he miss his mom?  Join Wyatt in his latest “wonder-full” adventure!Wyatt-kKindergarten_thumb
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Goes to Kindergarten

 

 

 

 

 

 

summertime activities

How does your summer measure up?

For many parents and teachers in the south, the summer is rapidly coming to a close and school will soon be starting.  This means that families are getting in those last minute vacations and activities.  Kids are counting the last days of freedom while many parents are counting the number of day until they are free again.  It’s a mixed bag of feelings and energy.

Due to the ever present social media deluge, many parents and kids experience a fear of missing out (FOMO) as the summer ends. Scroll through your Facebook feed and you will see everyone you know posed on the beach or cruise ship or traveling with their team sport.  That’s where the comparison begins.  Did you take a vacation as grand and exciting as your neighbor or friends?  Did the kids learn new skills at band or sports camp?  Did the baseball team win the championship?  Sometimes it seems that everyone else is living a celebrity like exciting life and in comparison your summer experience may seem mundane and dull.  Worried about what your child will write in their “What I did this summer” essay? Then you may have fallen victim to the FOMO virus.

Reflections on Your Daily Experience

What if instead of trying to have the grandest summer ever, you tried to be your personal best every day… summer included?  Rather than compare your summer to that of your Facebook friends, here is a better way to reflect on and review your summer.  In his excellent book, Triggers: Creating Behavior that Lasts/Becoming the Person You Want to Be, Marshall Goldsmith suggests that we all ask ourselves the following questions each day.

Did I do my best to:
Set clear goals?
Make progress toward goal achievement?
Find meaning?
Be happy?
Build positive relationships?
Be fully engaged and present?

This is a revolutionary approach to living each day because it takes the responsibility for our actions and feelings off of others and puts it squarely where it belongs… on our own shoulders.  No more comparing our day at home to the neighbors’ day at the theme park. While Goldsmith is recommending these questions to adults, i think they are quite relevant to kids as well.  Here’s what it might look like:

Spend time over the dinner table discussing these six questions.  Model for your children how these questions are relevant for your daily life as well as theirs.  Here are some examples:

  • What was your goal today? Maybe finish reading a book or create a new craft project?
  • What progress did you make?
  • How did you create your own meaning?  This doesn’t have to be philosophical and deep.  Maybe you were being creative, social, learning something new or helping someone out.
  • Did you decide to be happy?  How did that turn out?  If you were unhappy, how could you turn that around tomorrow?
  • Did you build positive relationships with your family and friends?  What are some examples? What did you do that was kind?  helpful?
  • Were you fully engaged and present… did you give all your attention to what you were doing at the moment?

I know that these questions are challenging.  I’ve started asking myself these questions every day myself and some days I fall short.  But the important thing is to reflect, share and grow together as a family.  Let me know how it works out.

Related Posts:

4 Secrets to a Stress Free Family Vacation

3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Summer

5 Ways to Create a Summer of Renewal

 

Wyatt’s Little Book of Lesson Plans, Worksheets and Games

Just for you!  Here are activities, lesson plans, discussion questions, coloring sheets, word search puzzles and games for each of the six Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books.  Over 75 pages of ideas so that you can create lessons on cooperation, teamwork and leadership skills to quickly extend and incorporate the Wyatt stories.

 

                     

http://wyatthewonderdog.com/activitybook

 

entrepreneur

4 skills your child will need as an entrepreneur

Are you an entrepreneur?

Do you run a business from your home?

Maybe you are CEO of a large organization?

Or a solo-preneur for a great product you designed?

Wonder how to instill in your children the necessary talents and skills to start their own business someday or maybe even step into your shoes and take over the family business?

Here are a few tips to create an entrepreneurial spirit and love in your children.

Share what you do in your business and even more importantly the why behind it.  Make sure you tell kids the back story of your business.  Did you start it to solve a problem?  to help others in a way the worked for you?  to provide a creative outlet for talents?  to have independence in your life?  So many children today have no idea what their parents do for a living.  When I worked in the schools, I used to ask children what their parents did.  Many times they just knew they worked downtown in a tall building.  As appropriate to the age of your child, share the details of not only what you do in your business, but the difference it makes in the world and why it matters.

Encourage creativity and out of the box thinking.  There are a lot of ways to do this but one of the best is to encourage children to solve their own problems.  Did a toy stop working? Ask questions to help them think through how to fix it.  Don’t have enough money from their allowance to buy the new toy they want?  Help them think through how they could earn extra money.  Have some free time and feeling ‘bored’?  Encourage them to create their own game.

Encourage initiative and ownership.  If they want to start a lemonade stand or create a neighborhood newspaper, help them think through the details.  Teach them about supply and demand, marketing, profit and loss.  Have them purchase the supplies so they understand what it means to make a profit.  Share stories of how you started a business at their age or of well-know entrepreneurs and the businesses they started as kids.  For instance, Tony Hsieh, owner of Zappos shoes made and sold spirit wear buttons as a teen-ager and Warren Buffet sold chewing gum door to door.  There are lots of kids today who have created businesses that are highly profitable: 8 kids making a million dollars 

Balance failure and success.  One of the most important lessons to learn in business is to accept failure as an opportunity to learn and make necessary changes while celebrating the experience of success as well.  As a parent, how you model both of these situations will be critical to your child’s decision as to whether they want to follow in your entrepreneurial footsteps.  Share your failures and disappointments as well as your successes and consider them teaching moments that will equip them to handle the same type of experiences..

Related posts:

What if failure really is a gift?

4 leadership lessons to prepare your child for the future

Teaching a child persistence

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning

Wyatt the Wonder Dog didn’t make it on the All Star baseball team and he feels like a loser.  All  his friends will be playing baseball this summer, while he and his pesky sister, Callie, visit grandparents at the beach.  How Wyatt learns to handle disappointment and failure will be an important lesson for the future.  Will he give up trying new things?  Will he have the confidence to try again?  Are there some things that take more practice and persistence to learn than others? Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns About Winning
Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning (Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books) (Volume 5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

summer time family activities

4 Secrets to a Stress Free Family Vacation

 

Family Fun or Family Frustration?

(This is a re-post from March 2015)

Anticipating your family vacation?

Looking forward to unplugging and enjoying some time off?

Keeping your fingers crossed that everyone will getting along?

Worried that it will be exhausting instead of relaxing?

Vacation Reality

Family vacations aren’t always the stress-free family bonding time that you envision. Maybe the last time you took off on a get-away as a family, you returned more exhausted and on edge than ever.

I’ve been there:  left the daily routine eager for a fun filled but relaxing time away and found myself  frustrated and aggravated beyond belief as we drove aimlessly around a strange city arguing about where to eat dinner. There was one memorable trip to California  where we strolled through the spectacular awe-inspiring redwood forest of Muir Woods, while my young children whined and continuously asked, “When do we get to go to the gift shop?”

Is there a way to create a stress free family vacation where you leave behind the baggage of aggravation and worry?  Follow these tips, and you’ll be on the road to a family vacation that’s smoother than those bumpy rides of past trips.

Set a budget

Before you make any decisions about your family get-away, determine your travel budget for the trip. Nothing kills the fun of a trip than arguing about the cost or even worse putting it all on a credit card that you dread opening when you return. Plan the larger costs first such as the flight, the hotel and car rental.  Then set a daily budget for meals and entertainment.

Be sure to check out the costs for the local restaurants and other activities you know will be on your agenda as you determine a reasonable daily budget.  Don’t forget to include an extra emergency fund for unexpected expenses.

Plan together

Our best trips involved the whole family in planning.  While polling for ideas and activities doesn’t mean a trip that meanders from gift shop to gift shop per my daughter’s request, it does mean that you can include activities that appeal to everyone. It also means that you will plan a vacation that is more age appropriate and avoid unrealistic expectations for behavior and interest levels.

Moms and dads are still in charge of the final decisions and it is a lost cause to try to please everyone at all times. You might find though that your kids are more interested in a lower cost, easy to plan trip like exploring a nearby state park than they are a trip across country. Take into consideration your child’s personality style, interests and energy level as you plan.

Continue a routine

I know that vacation typically means late nights and sleeping in.  However, especially with young children, consider keeping a similar schedule and routine to what you have at home.  Children thrive on predictable routines so be spontaneous with activities but keep a consistent bedtime, meal time and mid-day rest to prevent meltdowns due to exhausted kids and parents alike.

Resist the urge to do everything possible in a few short days and instead schedule some down time just to relax and play.  Plan to arrive back at home a day early so that you can get back into the regular schedule before returning to work and school.

Identify behavior expectations

Be clear about positive behavioral expectations and share them just as you share your trip itinerary with your children.  Plan ahead and set boundaries for what children will be allowed to do and not to do.  This way you aren’t constantly saying no throughout the trip and having to make snap decisions on what is possible.  Planning ahead for behavior is just as necessary as planning ahead for the trip details.   

Most important of all, enjoy the time together, be present in the moment and don’t sweat the small stuff. Rather, have fun and play with your crew as you create new memories together!

Related Posts:

3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Summer

5 Ways to Create a Summer of Renewal

Create Summertime Memories Through Writing

parentingheart

Want to know how to communicate best with your child’s unique personality style?  Check out the Parenting with Heart ebook available in the Wyatt store!

Grab a copy of Wyatt’s latest adventure here!

Wyatt the Wonder Dog -Cooperation Cover

Wyatt wants to play Frisbee. Max wants to build a fort and Callie wants to have a tea party. How do the three friends reconcile their differences? Can it be done?  When Wyatt doesn’t get his way, Max’s mother suggests he be the Superhero for the day. Join Wyatt as he learns how the magic of cooperation and compromise can bring the five friends closer together.

frustrated kid

What if failure is really a gift?

Your child is up at bat and strikes out.  She throws down the bat and stomps off the field,  tears in her eyes.

While doing his homework, your child can’t figure out the answer to a math problem. He crumples up his entire paper in frustration and slams the book closed.  Not a chance of starting over tonight.

Educators today often refer to encouraging a growth mindset in children.  What does this mean?  Given the fast pace of the world that we live in it is critical that children learn to use critical thinking and problem solving as a way of life.  Gone are the days when reading, writing and ‘rithmetic were the staples of a child’s education curriculum. Today we are concerned with not only what children learn but how they learn and how they can apply that ability to challenges they will face in everyday life.

Two Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset

Begin by re-framing the idea of imperfection and failure.  In the past we were all taught to strive for perfection.  Practice makes perfect was the motto.  However, focusing on striving for perfection can create an environment where imperfection and failure is not tolerated or is avoided.  Instead, re-frame imperfection as a part of the unique person that we all are.  

 In a previous post, I wrote about the benefits of embracing our limitations and how something beautiful can come from that.  In her book, The Gift of Imperfection,  Brene Brown shares research that shows when we acknowledge our imperfections and actually consider them the building blocks that shape us and make us who we are, then we develop into a more joyful and resilient person.

Sean Stevenson, motivational speaker, was born with osteogenesis imperfecta not expected to live past birth.  He identifies accepting his disability as a gift rather than a burden a being a turning point in his life. It was this decision that has shaped his life as a successful motivational speaker and teacher.  In a growth mindset, challenges become opportunities for self-improvement.

The second way to develop a growth mindset is to actually welcome all opportunities to learn and grow especially those where there is the risk of failure.  We learn more from our failures than we ever do from our successes.  Of course this is hard to accept when we are in the midst of a failing experience but think back over your own history.  Aren’t there important lessons that you have learned from failure, even if it was to try a different path?  Taking imperfect action and accepting that failure is often a consequence of taking risks,can be a gift, but it takes a proactive mindset to learn and grow from the benefits of each.  

Related Posts:

What if You Embrace the Difficulty?

Why Failing First Leads to Success

4 Secret Skills Kids Need Today

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning

Wyatt the Wonder Dog didn’t make it on the All Star baseball team and he feels like a loser.  All  his friends will be playing baseball this summer, while he and his pesky sister, Callie, visit grandparents at the beach.  How Wyatt learns to handle disappointment and failure will be an important lesson for the future.  Will he give up trying new things?  Will he have the confidence to try again?  Are there some things that take more practice and persistence to learn than others? Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns About Winning
Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning (Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books) (Volume 5)

 

 

summertime memories

3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Summer

Make the most of summer by starting an intention and reflection practice with your children. Beginnings and endings are an essential part of life.  We learn from our experiences when we bookend our time with an intention at the start and reflect on the results at the end.

Make the Most of Summer Memories

  • Set an intention for the summer months–  It doesn’t have to be serious, complicated or long.  Here are some examples:
    • Play! Have fun!
    • Spend time together as a family
    • Read lots of  books
    • Learn something new everyday
  • At the end of summer reflect on whether or not you followed your intention.  Again, make this a pleasurable experience:
    • Write or journal about how you took action on your intention
    • Create a photo collage depicting the intention
    • Draw pictures that show how you acted on the intention
    • Make a family video describing how the family as a whole made summer memories
  • Celebrate the end– I know the summer just started!  But plan now for a fun way to celebrate the end.  Incorporate the reflection in the  celebration.  Show the video, share photos or drawings.  Share the best and the worst parts about the summer and plan what you want to do again next summer.  An end of summer celebration will give you something to look forward to all summer long.

Related Posts:

Create Summertime Memories through Writing

Summertime Family Fun

Make Summertime Reading Time

 

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning

Wyatt the Wonder Dog didn’t make it on the All Star baseball team and he feels like a loser.  All  his friends will be playing baseball this summer, while he and his pesky sister, Callie, visit grandparents at the beach.  How Wyatt learns to handle disappointment and failure will be an important lesson for the future.  Will he give up trying new things?  Will he have the confidence to try again?  Are there some things that take more practice and persistence to learn than others? Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns About Winning
Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning (Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books) (Volume 5